Sunday Reads

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Good Afternoon!

The U.S. Virgin Islands gave Hillary Clinton all of their seven delegates and one super delegate for the Democratic Convention. Clinton should have the nomination sewed up by Tuesday after the New Jersey polls close.  The lead over Senator Bernie Sanders was commanding.  Remember, we will be there with a live blog on Tuesday night watching Herstory be made.  Be sure to join us!!

Hillary Clinton scored a sweeping win in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Saturday, picking up all seven pledged delegates at stake as she inched tantalizingly close to the Democratic nomination.

She is now just 60 delegates short of the 2,383 needed to advance to the November general election.

The party said Clinton won 84.2 percent of the vote, while Bernie Sanders earned 12.2 percent. Under Democratic National Committee rules, a candidate must win at least 15 percent of the vote to be eligible to receive delegates.

The gadfly senator continues to display narcissism and should be disabused of his grandiose idea that the majority of voters, Democrats, or super Delegates consider him fit for office.  The press is finally beginning to describe him as delusional butslide_485178_6661708_free continues to provide him with a public platform given that his supporters are showing up at events where violence and intimidation eventually occur.  Among the many things Sanders appears completely devoid of knowledge is the idea of a “contested convention”.  

Bernie Sanders urged news organizations on Saturday to hold off on declaring a victor in the Democratic presidential race following Tuesday’s primaries and vowed to soldier on to the party’s convention in July.

Sanders comments come as his rival, Hillary Clinton, is poised to effectively clinch the nomination following the close of the polls Tuesday in California, New Jersey, and four other states.

But the Vermont senator insisted that the delegate count is fluid. And he expressed confidence that he could persuade some “super delegates”— the party leaders who are not locked into voting for a particular candidate — to peel away from Clinton in the “six long weeks” before Democrats gather in Philadelphia.

“Now, I have heard reports that Secretary Clinton has said it’s all going to be over on Tuesday night. I have heard reports that the media, after the New Jersey results come in, are going to declare that it is all over. That simply is not accurate,” Sanders said at a news conference here.

Sanders then added, with emphasis, that the “Democratic National Convention will be a contested convention.”

bloom-county-is-back-splashHe is the very definition of a sad, old man these days. Sanders truly needs to think about how he will be remembered, if at all, in the future and what kind of legacy he thinks he’ll be leaving with his brief foray into the national spotlight.

Clinton appeared on “This Week” this morning .  I’m linking to the full transcript here in case you missed it.  Clinton is clearly focused on the Republican nominee.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your supporters have been pretty fired up in the last couple of days as you’ve been taking it to Donald Trump and you also step it up, using words like “demagogue” and “dictator.”

Have you concluded that the best way to beat Donald Trump is to be a bit more like him?

CLINTON: No, not at all. I laid out in my speech in San Diego the crux of my concerns and my case against him on foreign policy and national security.

And a lot of what he says plays into what I consider to be a very divisive and dangerous view of the world. And I think it’s important that we call it for what it is.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve also said that he’s temperamentally unfit to be president and, in that speech, you said you’re going to leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants.

Are you suggesting that he’s mentally unstable?

CLINTON: Well, no, I’m suggesting exactly what I said, that he’s temperamentally unfit. He doesn’t really have ideas. He makes bizarre rants and engages in personal feuds and outright lies.

He does apparently seem to have very thin skin and I think that those kinds of attributes, that temperament, is ill-suited for someone to be our president and commander in chief.

And he’s already, as I recited in my San Diego speech, on record on so many issues that run counter to what Democrats, Republicans alike over many decades have thought was in America’s interests in accordance with our values.

And that, to me, is cause for concern.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What’s the biggest danger coming from his temperament?

CLINTON: I think he engages in so much scapegoating and finger-pointing and he is someone who doesn’t tell the truth. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by the constant inherent contradictions.

I said that he had said that he would not mind having other countries have nuclear weapons, including Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia. He said he didn’t. A lot of news outlets, of course, easily pulled up the video of him saying all of that.

His unpredictability, his putting everything in highly personal terms has rattled — and that’s the word President Obama used — has rattled our closest allies, has caused a lot of serious concern around the world, because people are not used to seeing anyone, a Republican or a Democrat, running for president, who is so loose with the truth, so divisive and so dismissive of very legitimate concerns about safety, security, our values and who we are as a nation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, he said several times over the last few days that he thinks you should be going to jail over the e-mail issues and on “Face the Nation” he’s just given an interview to John Dickerson, where he said he would look at this when he becomes president. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I would have my attorney general look at it because everyone knows that she’s guilty. Now I would say this, she’s guilty but I would let my attorney general make that determination. Maybe they would disagree.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your response?

CLINTON: Well, it’s a typical Trumpism. And I don’t have any response, you know; when he attacks me, I am not going to respond.

But I think it is in keeping with his very vicious public attack against the judge, the federal judge, who is hearing the case against so-called Trump University, a judge who has an impeccable record as a prosecutor, who actually spent, as I’m told, nearly a year in hiding because of threats from criminal drug cartels against his life, who was appointed first by the Republican governor of California, Governor Schwarzenegger, then appointed by a Democratic president, President Obama, because of his extraordinary legal record.

And what Trump is doing is trying to divert attention from the very serious fraud charges against Trump University, that have basically been confirmed by some of the highest officials who worked with him.

So this is typical. He does have that thin skin and, you know, Judge Cureil is as American as I am and certainly as American as Donald Trump is. And Trump’s continuing ethnic slurs and rants against everyone, including a distinguished federal judge, I think makes my point rather conclusively.

bernie-sanders-clueless-298x437Trump continues to insult every one while trying to pander.  This week we learn that the women working for his campaign earn less than than the men.

Donald Trump has paid men on his campaign staff one-third more than women, while Hillary Clinton has compensated men and women equally, according to a Globe analysis of payroll data for both campaigns.

Trump’s campaign staff is also far less diverse than that of his likely Democratic opponent. Only about 9 percent of his team are minorities, compared with nearly a third of Clinton’s staff.
The Globe analyzed the payroll for both campaigns for April, the most recent month with publicly available data. The snapshot provides clues as to how the aspiring Oval Office occupants might fill a White House team, and to what extent they include people with diverse viewpoints in the inner workings of their organizations.

In an election that is already focused on gender — including Clinton’s quest to be the first female president and Trump’s accusations she is playing the “woman card’’ — the payroll differences stand out.

This story slays me. It’s probably one of the most typical Trump moves we’ve seen to date in the election.  Trump used a picture of a random black family to show that he does have support from the African American community.  The family is incensed.

At a Friday afternoon rally in California, Trump sought to highlight his support from minorities.

“Look at my African-American over there,” he shouted.

He seems to have made things worse, with many noting that his phrasing implied ownership over the man.

One of the major hurdles for Donald Trump to win the presidency is his deep unpopularity among non-white voters. A recent survey found Trump is viewed unfavorably by 86% of black voters and 75% of Latinos.

Trump’s comments about the African American man came after reiterating his belief that a federal judge should be disqualified from presiding over the Trump University fraud case because of his “Mexican heritage.” (The judge was born in Indiana.)

This morning on Twitter, Trump was back at it, highlighting the support of an African-American family.

The father has made it clear that the family does not support Trump.resize

Speaking to BuzzFeed News, the parents in the photo — Eddie and Vanessa Perry — said they are not Trump supporters. They aren’t endorsing or publicly supporting anyone. Eddie Perry called Trump’s use of the photo “misleading” and “political propaganda.”

Clearly, Trump has gotten away with so many lies and he is such a disturbed person that he thinks he can do anything and get a way with it.resize (1)

I’d like to point out the artist of the next few pictures who takes pictures of candidates and turns them into clowns.  They’re pretty funny.  Will Espada has done a great job with all the Republican candidates. Go take a gander at the others.

So, I wanted to end with another Hillary story.  This is about Hillary and the Pride movement.   Clinton has written a think piece for CNN on her policies and hopes for the community.

So the stakes in this election are high. And even if we do prevail against the open bigotry of Donald Trump, we’ll still have our work cut out for us.
We need to pass the Equality Act, to ensure full federal equality for LGBT Americans.
We need to continue to fight discrimination at all levels of government and in all 50 states, as I did at the State Department, where we strengthened the department’s policies on anti-discrimination, worked with global advocates and other stakeholders in encouraging countries to decriminalize same-sex relationships and supported policies that extended benefits and additional protections to LGBT individuals.
And we need to tackle the intersectional pressures that make life even harder for many of our fellow human beings. In particular, acts of violence against transgender women of color continue to be reported at an alarming rate. It’s an emergency, and we need to treat it like one.
This issue is important to me. As secretary of state, I fought to make it possible for transgender Americans to have their true identities reflected on their passports.
And as president, I’ll fight for the rights of transgender people, because no one should be harmed or mistreated for being who they are.
Not long ago, I met a mom from New York named Jodie Patterson. Her youngest child, Penelope, was uncomfortable early on acting, dressing or being treated like a girl. “I don’t feel like a boy,” Penelope said. “I am a boy.”
So Jodie let him be who he knew he was. Today, he’s a happy little boy named Penel who loves soccer and karate. But Penel’s mom worries about his future. She dreads how he will handle puberty, and whether kids in school will be kind or cruel. And she wonders how he will find his place in the world, when there’s so much hostility toward people like him.
Kids like Penel are why all of us do what we do. They are why we fight for an America where every child is supported and loved for who they are, and nothing stands in the way of what they can become.

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Today, I celebrate the fact we will have our first woman candidate for President on a major party ticket within a few days. Tomorrow, it will be up to each one of us to see that President Hillary Clinton becomes a reality and that Donald Trump is sent back to the Trust Fund Farm.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  Remember, this is an open thread!!!


Thursday Reads: St. Patrick’s Day Edition

modigliani young woman in a yellow dress

Good Afternoon!!

If you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, have a good one!

I’m illustrating this post with portraits of unsmiling women by Amadeo Modigliani. Why, you may ask? It’s just a little symbolic protest of the constant barrage of “instructions” from the media on how Hillary Clinton should behave.

For months we’ve been hearing from various male commentators–and even from her very loud male opponent–that Hillary needs to stop “shouting.” As Lawrence O’Donnell condescendingly explained, with help from Chris Matthews, “the microphone works.” Hillary should speak more softly and modulate her “tone.” She’s not being “ladylike” enough for them.

Tsk tsk tsk

On Tuesday after Hillary swept five Democratic primaries, Howard Kurtz offered this:

Glenn Thrush agreed.

Britt Hume thought she looked angry.

And then there was Joe Scarborough:

Each of these men was resoundingly mocked on Twitter, but not one of them apologized. Instead they were defensive. They complained about being attacked for their helpful advice and provided examples of various negative things they had written about male candidates’ speeches. They refused to listen to women who tried to explain to them why such unsolicited advice is sexist. You can check out their timelines to read more.

Amedeo-Modigliani-Woman-with-Red-Hair-1917-large-1341477858

Every woman has experienced this kind of “constructive criticism” again again. It’s not helpful, and refusing to listen to women explain why is also sexist. Some examples at Vogue.

Samantha Bee had a great response. She tweeted a photo of herself frowning into the camera and asked for responses. Lots of other women tweeted back unsmiling selfies. Click on the link to go to Mediaite and see some of the responses.

Connie Shultz at The National Memo: Hey, Hillary: Smile, Girl.

You know, the world would be a happier place if a girl would just smile more.

Just ask the guys on Twitter.

Now, by “girl,” I mean a former U.S. senator and secretary of state who is likely to be the first female president of these allegedly united states.

As for “the world,” let’s narrow it down. We’re talking mean men who apparently spend much of their day breathing into paper bags because they’re not even allowed to ask a secretary to grab them a cuppa joe anymore without someone from HR signing them up for diversity training.

What? No more office wife? Evidence of hell in a handbasket right there. Just ask them.

So now we’ve got this Hillary woman going all presidential on us. She’s everywhere. Giving speeches. Declaring victories. Starring in one town hall after another. How much suffering must a good ol’ boy endure? ….

Some men hear what they want to hear, and too many men don’t want to hear from women at all. This is an unhappy century for them, and it’s only going to get worse. One grandmother barreling her way toward the presidency is bound to work up all kinds of other women who’ve had it up to here with the catcall mentality of men who measure our worth by our ability to make them feel better about their limited view of us.

Much more at the link.

Amedeo_Modigliani_-_Portrait_de_Jeanne_Hébuterne_au_Collier

Of course the advice about smiling and speaking in a softer tone are only the beginning of the unsolicited advice pundits have for Hillary.

Amanda Marcotte: Stop “helping” Hillary: Sorry, guys, but Clinton doesn’t need to smile, whisper, or have John Kasich as her running mate.

Tuesday night, those who were lucky enough to be watching their primary coverage on MSNBC were treated to what may be a record-setter in scorching hot takes, courtesy of, who else, Chris Matthews. “I do think if you could ever find a way to put a ticket together that would actually end some of this mishegoss, to use a Yiddish word,” Matthews spun out before coughing up, and you could feel this coming, that he’d like to see Hillary Clinton pick John Kasich as her running mate

“If Hillary Clinton were smart,” Matthews said, with a certainty that is unique to men discrediting the intelligence of women who are, in reality, much smarter than they are, “she’d make herself the alternative” for Republicans who don’t want to vote for Trump by putting Kasich on her ticket.
“Of course, this doesn’t happen in American politics,” he added wistfully, “because American politics is so free of wonder anymore. It’s so predictable.”
Yes, he said this during the administration of the first black president, during a campaign that pits the first major party female candidate against a reality TV star who is winning his party’s nomination against the party leaders’ wills and while running a fascism-reminiscient campaign. But what we really need to get out of the doldrums is for a liberal Democrat to pick a running mate that stands against everything she and her party stand for.

Read the rest at Salon.

amedeo-modigliani-XX-Madame-Georges-van-Muyden-1917

Of course the big news is President Obama’s Supreme Court pick of Merrick Garland. JJ covered it thoroughly yesterday. Today the pundits are speculating about why Obama picked an “old white guy” instead of making a “truly progressive” choice. Of course Merrick is Jewish, so he would add to the diversity of a court that is packed with right win Catholics. Forward.com:

Merrick Garland grew up Jewish in Chicago suburbs of Skokie, worked his way to Harvard Law School and investigated the Oklahoma City bombing as a federal prosecutor.

The “mensch” of a jurist with a most un-Jewish sounding name and a sterling reputation for fairness won a coveted spot on the Washington D.C. court of appeals and rose to lead that prestigious court.

After twice being passed over for the Supreme Court, he is now aiming to become an unprecedented fourth Jew on the nine-member top court.

“He’s a total mensch,” said Jay Michaelson, a Forward columnist who once clerked for Garland. “He really wanted to get the law right.”

Garland’s first cousin, Marty Shukert, an urban designer in Omaha, Nebraska, said it was “almost dreamlike” to see Garland nominated by President Obama.

Garland called the nomination “the greatest honor of my life,” in a carefully scripted roll-out to the nation.

Recounting his Jewish family’s battle with persecution, Garland made an emotional pitch for the job he has coveted for decades.

“My grandparents left the Pale of Settlement…in the early 1900’s, fleeing anti-Semitism and hoping to make a better life for their children in America,” Garland told reporters in the Rose Garden, flanked by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

As the headline of the story says, Garland seems like a real “mensch.”

Modigliani woman

Josh Lederman at the AP: Analysis: Obama Dares GOP to Let Clinton, Trump Pick Justice.

By nominating an uncontroversial 63-year-old judge, President Barack Obama handed Republicans an unwelcome election-year proposition: Give in or risk letting Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump pick a Supreme Court justice the GOP might like even less.

Obama’s selection of appellate judge Merrick Garland landed with a bang the morning after primaries in Florida, Ohio and other key states made clear that Clinton and Trump will be their parties’ presidential candidates, barring extraordinary circumstances. Obama described Garland as an evenhanded consensus-builder, all but daring Republicans to block him and face uncertain consequences from voters.

Republican leaders dug in on their insistence that the next president get to choose the replacement for the late Antonin Scalia, the influential conservative and high court’s most provocative member. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it “an issue where we can’t agree.” ….

Republicans loathe Clinton, but they recognize that if she wins the presidency, she could nominate someone far more liberal than Garland, who’s regarded as a centrist. At the same time, the GOP establishment is extremely wary of the unpredictable Trump and desperate for an alternative.

A Democratic victory at the presidential level could be accompanied by a return of the Senate to Democratic control, further complicating Republicans’ ability to prevent Democrats from getting their way. Republicans are fighting their toughest Senate races this year in states like New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Illinois where Democrats are hoping independent-minded voters will be turned off by the GOP’s hardline position.

Brian Beutler calls Garland an “old white guy” and opines that Obama isn’t playing 11 dimensional chess. He just made a mistake in not choosing someone who would make all the progs happy.

Did you hear about the story that PBS News ran about the Tilly family, first-time voters working for Trump in North Carolina?  Please go to the link and watch it. PBS did not notice that a woman they featured prominently while she phone-banked for Trump had white supremacist tattoos all over her arms and hands. Gawker did notice. Here’s a photo of Grace Tilly.

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From the Gawker story:

Above, you see Grace phone banking for Donald Trump, with the Celtic Cross tattoo on her right hand. Despite the tattoo being in plain view of PBS’ cameras, the story never acknowledges that it is interviewing a walking white power billboard. The Anti-Defamation League explains that the Celtic Cross is one of the most “commonly used white supremacist symbols.” Mark Pitcavage, senior research fellow at the ADL, tells me:

The Celtic Cross is an ancient and revered Christian symbol typically not associated with extremism at all. However, one particular version of the Celtic Cross—a squarish cross with a thick circle intersecting with it (also known as Odin’s Cross), has become one of the most popular white supremacist symbols around. In the past 20 years, its popularity has done little but grow, thanks to its use as the logo by Stormfront, the largest white supremacist website in the world.

And on her hand, Grace has a large tattoo that reads “88,” which according to ADL is “code for Heil Hitler.” See that photo at Gawker. So far, PBS has reacted to the Gawker story.

Woman with a necklace

On Tuesday night we learned that the Sanders Campaign plans to try to convince superdelegates to vote for him at the Democratic convention. Yesterday they announced plans to poach delegates that are pledged to vote for Clinton. It’s hard to remember now that only a couple of months ago, Sanders was supposedly running a clean, positive campaign. Time reports on a call with reporters hosted by camapaign manager Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ and strategist Tad Devine:

Although the Democratic pledged delegates are bound to a particular candidate based on state Democratic votes, Sanders senior strategist Tad Devine suggested there is some leeway there. Devine pointed to the Carter campaigns 1980 victory and their worry about holding onto pledged delegates. The Carter campaign was “deeply concerned about the defection of pledged delegates” to Ted Kennedy, Devine said.

“My point is that a frontrunner in a process like this needs to continue to win if you want to keep hold of delegates,” Devine continued. When pressed by a reporter, Devine said there was no plan “at the moment” to try to sway pledged delegates.

Weaver said that Sanders is doing Clinton a favor by staying in the race–because Bernie will protect poor fragile Hillary from Donald Trump.

“Were this contest to end, you know, by Secretary Clinton, or us getting out—certainly if the Secretary were still in the race, she could expect months and months and months of immediate, and vicious, and very personal attacks from the Trump people,” Weaver said. “So I don’t know if that’s necessarily healthy for her.”

woman-with-a-fan-lunia-czechowska-1919

WTF?! The people who said all along that the superdelegate process is undemocratic now want to win with their votes? And on top of that, they want to usurp the voters’ choices by stealing pledge delegates?

It’s just breathtaking. Here’s a great Greg Sargent interview with Hillary’s chief strategist Joel Benenson as an antidote: Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist: Sanders can’t win, and we’re ready to take down Trump. Read the whole thing at the WaPo.

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of your Thursday.

 


Super Saturday Reads

Smoking Bar for Ladies, Harry Grant Dart

Smoking Bar for Ladies, Harry Grant Dart

Good Morning!!

A note on the illustration above: It is an anti-women’s suffrage cartoon originally publish in the satire magazine Puck, showing the horror that could befall the country if women actually got the vote.

We have a busy few days coming up for presidential politics. Today is the Louisiana primary, and Hillary is expected to win overwhelmingly on the Democratic side. There will also be Democratic and Republican caucuses in Kansas and Nebraska. For Republicans, there will be additional caucuses in Maine and Kentucky. Maine Democrats will caucus tomorrow and there will be a GOP primary in Puerto Rico. Then on Tuesday there will be primaries in Michigan and Mississippi.

Tomorrow night there will be a CNN Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan and on Monday night Fox News will hold a Democratic town hall event. Hillary originally declined the invitation, but yesterday she agreed to go. I think it’s a mistake for her to go, but we’ll see. The next Republican debate will be on March 10 in Miami.

Washington Post: Five more states ready to chip in delegates to campaign 2016.

Hunting for delegates, Trump added a last-minute rally in Wichita, Kansas, to his Saturday morning schedule and Cruz planned to stop in Kansas on caucus day, too, one day after Rubio visited the state.

Trump’s decision to skip an appearance Saturday at a conference sponsored by the American Conservative Union in the Washington area to get in one last Kansas rally rankled members of the group, who tweeted that it “sends a clear message to conservatives.”

The billionaire businessman’s rivals have been increasingly questioning his commitment to conservative policies, painting his promise to be flexible on issues as a giant red flag….

With the GOP race in chaos, establishment figures are frantically looking for any way to stop Trump, perhaps at a contested convention if none of the candidates can roll up the 1,237 delegates needed to snag the nomination. Going into Saturday’s voting, Trump led the field with 329 delegates. Cruz had 231, Rubio 110 and Kasich 25. In all, 155 GOP delegates are at stake in Saturday’s races.

Illustration of "founding mothers" "Woman is a slave from the cradle to the grave -- Ernestine Rose

Illustration of “founding mothers”
“Woman is a slave from the cradle to the grave — Ernestine Rose

On the Democrats:

Clinton is farther along than Trump on the march to her party’s nomination, outpacing Sanders with 1,066 delegates to his 432, including pledged superdelegates. It takes 2,383 delegates to win the Democratic nomination. There are 109 at stake on Saturday.

In Louisiana, Clinton was hoping that strong support from the state’s sizable black population will give her a boost. Both Democrats have campaigned heavily in Nebraska and saturated the state with ads. In Kansas, Clinton has the backing of its former governor and onetime Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius. Sanders held a pre-caucus rally in Kansas’ liberal bastion of Lawrence hoping to attract voters.

A couple of big stories out of Louisiana:

Think Progress: BREAKING: Supreme Court Reopens Clinics Closed By Anti-Abortion Law.

The Supreme Court handed down a brief order Friday allowing four Louisiana abortion clinics to reopen after they were closed due to a recent decision by a conservative federal appeals court.

Last week, an especially conservative panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit handed down an “emergency” decision permitting an anti-abortion Louisiana law to go into effect. Under this law, physicians cannot perform abortions unless they have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital — an increasingly common requirement masterminded by an anti-abortion group that drafts model bills for state legislatures. A challenge to a similar Texas law is currently pending before the justices.

The Supreme Court’s order temporarily suspends the Louisiana law, effectively preventing the Fifth Circuit’s Wednesday decision from taking effect. Only Justice Clarence Thomas explicitly dissented from the Court’s order.

Could this be a good sign for the Texas case that is currently being considered by SCOTUS?

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Texas case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, this Wednesday. During those arguments, conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy appeared open to striking down the Texas law — although he also seemed concerned with a procedural issue unique to that case. The Court’s decision to halt the Louisiana law is another sign that the conservative-but-not-absolutist justice believes that laws like the ones in Texas and Louisiana may go too far.

DeclarationSentiments

I sure hope so. Meanwhile Louisiana’s economy is in desperate shape, thanks mostly to former Governor Bobby Jindal’s horrendous policies.

Wonkblog: Battered by drop in oil prices and Jindal’s fiscal policies, Louisiana falls into budget crisis.

Already, the state of Louisiana had gutted university spending and depleted its rainy-day funds. It had cut 30,000 employees and furloughed others. It had slashed the number of child services staffers, including those devoted to foster family recruitment, and young abuse victims for the first time were spending nights at government offices.

And then, the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards (D), came on TV and said the worst was yet to come.

Edwards, in a prime-time address on Feb. 11, said he’d learned of “devastating facts” about the extent of the state’s budget shortfall and said that Louisiana was plunging into a “historic fiscal crisis.” Despite all the cuts of the previous years, the nation’s second-poorest state still needed nearly $3 billion — almost $650 per person — just to maintain its regular services over the next 16 months. Edwards  gave the state’s lawmakers three weeks to figure out a solution, a period that expires March 9 with no clear answer in reach.

Louisiana stands at the brink of economic disaster. Without sharp and painful tax increases in the coming weeks, the government will cease to offer many of its vital services, including education opportunities and certain programs for the needy. A few universities will shut down and declare bankruptcy. Graduations will be canceled. Students will lose scholarships. Select hospitals will close. Patients will lose funding for treatment of disabilities. Some reports of child abuse will go uninvestigated.

“Doomsday,” said Marketa Garner Walters, the head of Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services. If the state can’t raise any new revenue, her agency’s budget, like several others, will be slashed 60 percent.

“At that level,” she said in an interview, “the agency is unsustainable.”

Read more about the disastrous consequences of Jindal’s embrace of Koch brothers politics at the link.

Seneca Falls, 1848

Seneca Falls, 1848

The Tax Policy Center just released its analysis of Bernie Sanders’ tax plan, and it’s stunning. Here’s the abstract:

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders proposes significant increases in federal income, payroll, business, and estate taxes, and new excise taxes on financial transactions and carbon. New revenues would pay for universal health care, education, family leave, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, and more. TPC estimates the tax proposals would raise $15.3 trillion over the next decade. All income groups would pay some additional tax, but most would come from high-income households, particularly those with the very highest income. His proposals would raise taxes on work, saving, and investment, in some cases to rates well beyond recent historical experience in the US.

You can read the entire report in a pdf at the link. From Bloomberg:

Senator Bernie Sanders’s proposals for sweeping tax hikes on businesses and individuals to bankroll universal health care, infrastructure and free college tuition would raise $15.3 trillion over the next decade but “substantially reduce incentives to save and invest in the United States,” according to a new policy study.

Sanders’s plan would “modestly raise” tax rates for average taxpayers and “raise them significantly for high-income taxpayers,” according to the report by the Tax Policy Center, a research group in Washington, D.C. that’s a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. The report is the last of the center’s analyses of leading presidential candidates’ tax plans.

While the plan — which would be sure to face opposition in a Republican-controlled Congress — could generate benefits by increasing “the nation’s investment in productive physical and human capital,” economists are unsettled on the question of just how much increases in tax rates spur or stymie economic growth. Sanders’s proposals “would be a great experiment,” said Len Burman, director of the Tax Policy Center.

Warren Gunnels, Sanders’s policy director, criticized the tax center’s findings. The analysis was conducted “in a vacuum without taking into account the savings the American people would gain” under the candidate’s proposal to replace private health-insurance with a publicly funded “Medicare-for-all” plan, he said. Gunnels cited an earlier study by Citizens for Tax Justice, which found that 95 percent of U.S. households would see their take-home pay increase under Sanders’s health plan.

Girls in a milk-bar in England, 1954

Girls in a milk-bar in England, 1954

Kevin Drum on the analyses of the five candidates’ tax plans so far:

As before, the Republican plans are all the same: a tiny tax cut for the middle class as a sop to distract them from the enormous payday they give to the rich, and a massive hole in the deficit.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton’s plan is fairly modest. It leaves the middle class alone and taxes the rich a little more. Once her domestic proposals are paid for, it’s probably deficit neutral. Bernie Sanders is far more extreme. He’s basically the mirror image of the Republicans: he’d tax the middle class moderately more and soak the hell out of the rich. This would raise a tremendous amount of money, which he’d use to pay for his health care plan and his other domestic proposals. It’s impossible to say for sure how this would affect the deficit, but the evidence suggests that it would blow a pretty big hole.

It looks like Sanders is going to continue and even increase his attacks on Hillary Clinton even though she will likely have the nomination in hand by March 15. It doesn’t seem to bother him in the least that he’s hurting the Democratic Party and making it more difficult for their candidate to win the White House in November.

From The Hill: Sanders blames Clinton for Michigan’s declining middle class.

“If the people of Michigan want to make a decision about which candidate stood with workers against corporate America and against these disastrous trade agreements, that candidate is Bernie Sanders,” he said during a rally in Traverse City, according to a campaign statement obtained by NBC News.

Sanders argued that Clinton’s support of legislation like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had helped create the Great Lakes State’s crippling poverty.

“[NAFTA] is one of the reasons that the middle class in this country is disappearing,” the self-described Democratic socialist said.

“[NAFTA and other trade deals are] crafted by the big-money interests and corporations. Hillary Clinton was on the wrong side of many of these trade agreements.”

I love this photo of the 2013 class of women in the House.

I love this photo of the 2013 class of women in the House.

Hillary did not hold political office when NAFTA passed Congress. I believe she opposed NAFTA as first lady, but to blame her for bill passed by a right wing Republican Congress and signed by her husband is both unfair and sexist. But that’s how Bernie rolls.

Markos laid down the law at Daily Kos yesterday, and the reaction was hilarious. As background, the front pagers have been supporting Hillary in 2016, but the majority of diarists have been pushing for Bernie, attacking Hillary using every right wing meme they can find and the most misogynistic language they can dream up. Read about it here: March 15, and Daily Kos transition to General Election footing.

The gist is that Kossacks have to stop attacking Hillary with right wing memes and ugly sexist language and if they are planning to vote for Donald Trump or Jill Stein if the Democrats nominate Hillary, they have to keep it to themselves. They can criticize Hillary, but only in positive ways that could help the party.

The response was predictable, with people posting “goodbye cruel world” diaries and threats to continue advocating for Bernie in any way they choose if if Kos bans them. It was like watching kids arguing on a playground or like the last GOP debate.

So . . . what are you hearing and reading about today? I’ll post a live blog later for discussion of the primary and caucus results.


Friday Reads: You might be BernieBro if …

20150822_USD006_0It’s the Friday before Mardi Gras and it’s way too cold and way too early this year! The only good news I can pass on about this is the decided lack of AirBnB/BnB tourists invading my hood.  I’ve actually started to wonder if the alternative rental leeches have finally saturated the market here because the vacancies are giving me some much needed peace and quiet.

It also means that I don’t have to dread going out for groceries and wondering if the one little spot in front of the kathouse will be taken over by a stationwagon on steroids (e.g. SUV) usually with a Texas license plate. My street is still a bit of a cab stand atm. Taxi cab alarms going off at all hours are enough for me to go all Clint Eastwood on some one. However, the cabbies aren’t happy about the UberDudes here so they’ve filed a suit and I’m taking some mercy on them.

More than two dozen cab drivers will make a plea before a New Orleans judge Friday (Feb. 5) to block UberX drivers from picking up passengers, a decision that could have an impact on the big Mardi Gras weekend and beyond.

The cabbies filed a lawsuit Jan. 26 in Orleans Civil District Court against 10 drivers for UberX — the ride-hailing app’s lower-cost service — who cabbies say are violating state law by taking fares without having a commercial or chauffeur driver’s license, which amounts to unfair competition.

“The majority of UberX drivers do not possess the proper license required by law and … the requirement to hold such a license is not being enforced by the City of New Orleans against UberX drivers,” the lawsuit says.

Taxicab drivers are routinely checked for the appropriate permits and service owners can lose their city operator’s license for violating the requirements, which include background checks, drug testing, and installing cameras inside their cars.

Orleans Civil District Judge Piper Griffin will hold a hearing Friday at 10 .m. on the taxicab drivers’ request for a preliminary injunction keeping their competitors from picking up passengers.

I really can’t blame any one who files suit against these “sharing economies” companies frankly because they completely ignore local health and safety laws.  They ignore zoning laws, noise ordinances, and all kinds of things.  I understand the need for a side hustle but why do something that hurts other folks’ livelihoods while giving a piece of your action to a third party parasite?  I’m still waiting for the city to come down harder on short term rentals.  I guess we’ll have to see what Jazz Fest and French Quarter Fest vacancies look like around here.  I am ground zero for all this damn stuff and it’s nothing but a nuisance.

So, all of us that have been Hillary supporters for some time can tell tales of hair-raising misogyny on line and else where.  The press is finally beginning to notice that not all of Bernie Sanders supporters are nice folks.  I actually heard Chris Matthews ask John Heilemann if there was anything to it and Heilemann said yes.   The national press secretary for Hillary Clinton Brian Fallon discussed the Bernie Bros at a Bloomberg Politics Breakfast this week.  Any Hillary supporter active on social media has experienced a Bernie Bro Bash and Dash.  Fallon asked the Sanders Campaign to rein in the angst and testosterone of their supporters and to watch the candidate for signs of Bro Creep.

Brian Fallon, national press secretary for the Hillary Clinton campaign, spoke at a Bloomberg Politics breakfast in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday. He addressed social media attacks against Hillary Clinton by the “Bernie Bros,” saying that Senator Bernie Sanders’ shouldn’t let the “crudeness” of some of his supporters seep into his own criticism of Clinton. On the issue of whether some of Sanders’ attacks are sexist, Fallon said, “he knows what he’s doing when he does these little hip checks.”

BernieBro sexism is not imaginary.  It’s also not all about the guys who say they’ve never done anything like that.  It’s about how every woman spends every day fighting off something related to some guys’s issue with women and his own hyped-up idea of masculinity.

But the live controversy over the alleged bros’ existence and activities didn’t begin until months later, after many women began to notice that when they criticized Sanders online or praised Hillary Clinton, male Sanders supporters would reliably turn up in swarms to tell them they were wrong. And that this swarming occasionally escalated further, intomisogynistic abuse that was upsetting or even frightening for them.

Several women, including some who were themselves Sanders supporters, pointed this out online. A greater number noticed that they’d had the same experience, sighed, and resignedly added “Bernie Sanders” to the category of things women tweet about at their own peril, along with “feminism,” “guns,” “Muslims,” “pop culture,” and “probably everything else.”

The Sanders campaign, to its credit, took swift and sensible steps to try to improve its followers’ behavior. And there is absolutely no reason to believe that this slice of online abusers represents the views of either Sanders or the bulk of his supporters, who have better things to do than fight on social media. But some prominent Sanders supporters perceived the complaints about Bernie Bros as a threat to the Vermont democratic socialist’s candidacy, and decided that they needed to set the record straight.

And so, predictably, the “Not All Men” portion of the debate followed. Contributions ranged from measured but only marginally relevant to the issue of abuse (actually, the real divide between Sanders and Clinton supporters isn’t gender but age) to bonkers (Glenn Greenwald going Full Greenwald, claiming that the entire Bernie Bro narrative was a “concoction” by “pro-Clinton journalists,” a “cheap campaign tactic masquerading as journalism and social activism”).

But those efforts weren’t just an unnecessary fight against a perceived media-industry-wide campaign to discredit Bernie Sanders that didn’t actually exist. They were actively counterproductive. The women who complained about their treatment were talking about their own lives, and how the insults and harassment had affected them. And so the debunkers, intentionally or not, sent the message that the really important thing here was not women’s experiences but rather how they might affect a man.

The most maddening thing about this phenomenon is the mansplaining on sexism. It’s a bit like being told by Bill Cosby that you’re being passed out on a roofie makes for better orgasms and has nothing to do with rape.

Some look at these demographic breakdowns and say that Sanders supporters aren’t representative of the diversity of the Democratic base. Others say that many Sanders supporters are motivated, whether they realize it or not, by sexist bias against Clinton. This second critique was expressed perhaps best by a viral “ALL CAPS” critique (worth reading in full) of the “Bernie Bro” phenomenon by Pajiba’s Courtney Enlow.

And, of course, because there are actually women who do support Sanders, the term has come full circle; Sanders supporters sometimes use the term “Bernie Bro” ironically to mock the idea that there aren’t women in their ranks.

But while such responses from Sanders supporters are often straw men, they’re right that the critique is off base.

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What people really mean when they talk about “Bernie Bros”

Often, though, when supporters of Clinton or critics of Sanders complain about “Bernie Bros,” they’re not actually talking about Sanders supporters as a whole. They’re talking about a specific subset of Sanders supporters who are particularly active on social media (especially Twitter) and can be particularly aggressive in defending their candidate.

Complaints about the behavior of Sanders supporters on Twitter are by no means new. Here’s how Roderick Morrow, who started the joke hashtag #BernieSoBlack, put it to me in August:

there’s all these people who, I don’t know, they’re just sitting around searching his name on Twitter or something, they just come and get in your mentions and start harassing you, they start saying the same things over and over to you.

There are names for these tactics, many of which are associated with the ongoing online-movement-cum-dumpster-fire known as Gamergate. There’s “sea lioning” — trawling tweets from people they don’t actually know to start demanding answers and debate. There’s “mansplaining” — being condescendingly pedantic to people who may very well know what you’re telling them. There’s “dogpiling” — a disproportionate (and sometimes coordinated) group response to an individual comment. And, of course, there are actual threats.

Tiger Beatdown’s Sady Doyle articulated it this way:

I am now the subject of blog posts labeling me “the most extreme opponent of the Bernie Army” (yes, it’s an army now) and various gross-out pictures of pig testicles. There have been, I’d estimate, a little over 100 messages on Twitter today alone – give or take a paltry few interactions about things I actually wrote at some point.

This — the trope of the mansplain-y, harass-y Sanders supporter who gets all up in the mentions of anyone insufficiently praiseful — is the definition of “Bernie Bro” that journalists tend to use when writing about the phenomenon.

But, the deal is that Bernie does mansplain and play into sexist tropes. One of the very things that irks women of a certain age is remembering how all the early movements in the 1960s and 1970s were their own brand of raging patriarchal malarkey.

In the week leading up to the Iowa caucus, the internet was abuzz with a Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton meme that highlighted the pair’s ideological differences. Although the poster-like graphic was mocked up to look official—from the patriotic blue background to the tagline, “Be informed. Compare them on the issues that matter”—it employed decidedly non-political matters (e.g., wolves, sleeping, caves, jetskis, Pokémon) to demonstrate their opposing viewpoints. The obvious goal was to play up Sanders’ perceived complexity and contrast it with Clinton’s supposed #basic nature, in order to illustrate why the former was a better, hipper candidate.

Translated to internet humor: Compared to Sanders, Clinton isn’t as evolved in her tastes and approaches. And so graphics popped up which imagined what the candidates might say about Olive Garden (Sanders: “Only when I’m high.” Clinton: “An authentic Italian restaurant for the whole family”) or lizards (Sanders: “[covered in lizards] ‘Hell yeah! I love these little guys!’” Clinton: “No”). The meme’s absurdity wasn’t quite as successful (or humorous) once it ventured into pop culture territory, however: Clinton was portrayed as being oblivious to the nuances of “Star Wars,” anime and “Harry Potter,” as well as a philistine when it comes to jazz (“It’s not Christmas until I put on Kenny G’s Christmas album”), Iggy Azalea, industrial music(“Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, the list could go on”), Radiohead (“I love ‘Creep’”) and the Grateful Dead (“I like ‘Touch of Grey’”).

Radiohead and the Dead have zero to do with the election or candidate platforms, which of course is the point—it’s all speculative humor meant for social media virality and a Facebook chuckle or two. Still, the meme’s subtext has uncomfortable parallels to the authenticity wars that continue to rage in rock circles, the idea that certain acts and genres are more real because they don’t employ an army of songwriters or laptops. It’s also reminiscent of the indie-vs.-mainstream music dichotomy of the ’80s and ’90s—when the idea of “selling out” and going overground was often anathema—and the negative perceptions around the concept of a “casual fan”: Liking only the big single or a band’s surface output is often considered hopelessly uncool.

These jabs at Clinton’s imagined sonic preferences reinforce the tired idea that the tastes of non-cis-male cultural consumers—from teenagers on through boomers and beyond—are something to be mocked and disrespected. It’s seen in the way the term “fangirl” has become a term of derision directed at supporters of any band with an adolescent fanbase—everyone from My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy to One Direction and 5 Seconds Of Summer—or the way having the musical taste of a “soccer mom” is worthy of an eyeroll. Women of all ages have their favorite artists or genres mansplained to them online every day, when they’re not having their expert opinions or reviews viewed with condescension.

Younger people may want to take a look at the Bernie Sanders “rape fantasy” writing to see just exactly how bad it could be back there trying to be groovy with the primordial DudeBro.  It may have been a way to look at gender roles but it was definitely a look steeped in white male privilege.  Even in revolutions, women’s positions are described as “being prone” and cooking dinner.  The Sanders campaign is making an effort to reel the Bros in but mostly what I’ve seen is dudes mansplaining to me that I’m taking them all wrong.

On Reddit, Sanders’s digital director, Héctor Sigala, told Sanders’s digital army to join the fight against the Bros. The campaign speaks very frankly with its digital cadre, whose volunteer efforts are a huge part of Sanders’s current success and whose political and grassroots sophistication is the envy of most of the candidates running for president this cycle.

Sigala’s message: The Bros are making it tougher for Bernie and they need to stop.

“We love our supporters and we know we wouldn’t be here without you all, but it does add a layer of complexity when we have to track what you all do during some moments when we are shaping our messaging,” he wrote. “Above all: just know you represent our movement and be respectful with those who disagree with you.”

Walsh said she senses the Sanders campaign is aware of what is going on, and urged the campaign to step up its efforts to push back.

“I think they are getting concerned that they have this set of keyboard warriors who revel in insulting women, not just Hillary,” she told BuzzFeed News. “I think they just have to get that message out more aggressively. I don’t blame Sen. Sanders personally, at all. But it is disturbing to see such a misogynist strain in the male left. It’s not a new thing, but it’s tough to experience.”

Even men have been targeted by the Bernie Bros.mansplainers-of-FB-feature

I myself have written a few pieces about the Vermont senator, varying in perspective. And I’ve found that even coverage that tips toward the positive garners a torrent of strongly worded reader responses, from “Your article is misleading” to “Has Hillary offered you a job in the White House press corps?” (That’s not how the press corps works, if anyone was wondering.) In fact, I receive exponentially more criticism when I write about Sanders than any other candidate. And I’ve essentially called Ted Cruz a sociopath, and straight-up called Donald Trump a fascist.
These interactions have been more irritating than anything else—though I’ve significantly worn out Twitter’s mute function. I don’t feel especially threatened by Bernie Bros, and any large-scale negative attention directed toward my inbox typically lasts a few hours at most.

The women writers who dare question or criticize Sanders have it much worse. A subset of Sanders’s supporters have been known to orchestrate campaigns of relentless, misogynistic harassment against them. The phenomenon is so widespread that Cosmopolitan’s Prachi Gupta put together a comprehensive roundup of the women who’ve been targeted—one of whom, Sarah Jeong, a writer for Vice, temporarily locked her Twitter account to stanch the flow of vitriol.
Funnily enough, Jeong actually considers herself a Sanders supporter. And this highlights a significant inconsistency at the root of the Bernie Bro problem.
A number of vocal Sanders supporters prefer to deny the existence of Bernie Bros altogether. The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, for example, considers the meme a “blatant, manipulative scam” attributed to “Clinton media operatives” who are “campaigning for their candidate under the guise of journalism and social-issue activism.” Others dismiss the Bernie Bros moniker because there’s nothing traditionally “bro-y” about Sanders’s overall support base. But the most common talking point trotted out is also the most nonsensical: Sanders supporters aren’t all men, ipso facto, the Bernie Bro is a myth.
But pointing to the existence of women supporters is hardly a sufficient refutation of misogyny within political movements. Who else enjoys a significant female support base? A slew of anti-choice politicians across America.

CaE8WcvUcAAj8GtBB wrote about this last month before the narrative took hold in the broader media.   We’ve all noticed the condescending, superior tone that comes along with being raptured by the Sanders Campaign.

So, it’s getting worse out there and I’m already ready to hit some one.  The right wing and Republicans are back in full metal jacket misogyny. It’s been bad. JJ and BB have documented some of it already.  Here’s a good round up from Amanda Marcotte with my favorite explanation of the Morning Joke discussion on Hillary Shouting.

And on Wednesday, the pundits on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC could not get over the audacity of a woman raising her voice at a noisy rally, like she was a politician or something. “There is something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating,” Bob Woodward complained, all aflutter that a lady is raising her voice above a soft, man-soothing whisper.

Cokie Roberts jumped in, pointing out, “These are rallies, though, and it’s hard to do that at a rally.”

“I’m sorry to dwell on the tone issue,” Bob Woodward, said, before bravely charging ahead, “but there is something here, where Hillary Clinton suggests that she’s almost not comfortable with herself.” Women who are comfortable with themselves, you see, speak in low tones so as not to be heard. To communicate true self-acceptance, a proper lady will not speak at all. He’s just concerned and trying to help, you see.

As writes like Ann Friedman and Amanda Hess, as well as the folks at “The American Life” have shown, policing women’s voices is a time-honored way to make it clear to women the only way they’ll be accepted is if they refrain from talking at all. This is a game Clinton cannot win. If she took this oh-so-concerned advice and started talking in a whisper, she’d immediately be accused of not presenting herself as an authoritative figure. You get to be a bitch or a bimbo, and the promised middle ground between the two is an illusion.

And yes, that’s the media that Sanders calls the establishment supporting the Clinton Machine and the Bernie Bros say are friendly to Hillary.

Yup, 2016 is going to be a bumpy ride.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 

 

 

 


Thursday Reads: Irrational Hatred and the Exhaustion it Creates

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Good Afternoon!!

I’ve been struggling all morning over writing this post. I knew that if Hillary ran for president again we would face unprecedented sexism and misogyny from the media and from many people who claim to be Democrats. But I never imagined it would be this bad. It was bad in 2008, but in 2016 the CDS is magnified beyond belief.

Since I was a child I have had a difficult time understanding why people hate those who are different from themselves. It was around 1956 when I noticed the prejudice that black people have to deal with. I just couldn’t make sense of it. I was 8 years old.

Later I followed the Civil Rights Movement closely and again I was mystified by the hatred of Americans for their fellow Americans. I could empathize and feel rage at the injustice perpetrated against African Americans, but of course I couldn’t really comprehend what it felt like to be the targets of so much ugly, vicious hatred.

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As someone who has dreamed her whole life that women might finally achieve equality, and who believes that electing a woman president would go a long way toward making that dream a reality, I am beginning to truly understand how it feels to be hated and reviled by the culture I live in. It is exhausting.

It requires superhuman strength and courage just to get up every day and keep trusting my inner voice no matter what other people say and do, and internally trying to counter the ugly attacks on the first woman to have a real chance to win the Democratic nomination and perhaps to become the first woman President of the United States.

The only thing that gives me the strength to keep believing is the the example set by Hillary Clinton. I don’t know how she does it, but I think she has the courage and the competence to keep fighting for us all the way to the White House.

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Last night in the CNN Democratic Town Hall, I saw a woman who is comfortable with herself, who believes in her ability to pull this off, and who has truly found her voice as a candidate. I have never seen a better performance by Hillary Clinton in any debate or forum. She was magnificent.

But don’t expect the media to report that. They’re busy praising Bernie Sanders, the man who answered every question by returning to his boring stump speech far outshone the woman who following him (why does Bernie always get to go first, by the way?) according to the largely white male Washington press corps.

You know what? I don’t care. Hillary is speaking to the voters and I think enough of them will hear what she is saying.

Last night Bernie got mostly softball questions from Anderson Cooper and the audience. Hillary got mostly tough questions, and she rose to the occasion. She never whined or complained. She was humble and she listened carefully to what she was asked.

Bernie on the other hand did his usual nodding and waving–he doesn’t seem to listen to the questions at all. He makes up his mind what the question is while the person asking it is still talking. Hillary doesn’t do that. She actually cares about the person who is talking to her. It’s amazing that so many people can keep right on hating her even after they watch her be so open, so willing to listen, to learn, to get better as a person and a candidate. But that’s what hate is about–hence the cliche “blind hatred.”

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Just for today I’m going to leave aside the many media arguments for why Hillary Clinton just isn’t good enough and why she can never be good enough in their minds. There’s another debate tonight, and I need to psych myself up; because I am determined to watch it no matter how exhausting it is to see the irrational hatred my candidate has to face.

#ImWithHer

First, a couple of positive moments from last night:

From a mostly negative article by Eric Bradner at CNN, a wonderful quote from Hillary Clinton after she was asked for the umpteenth time why younger voters like Bernie Sanders so much and why they are rejecting her (although I see so many young women and men on line and on TV who do like her):

“I’m impressed with them, and I’m going to do everything I can to reach out and explain why good ideas on paper are important, but you’ve got to be able to translate that into action,” Clinton said.

“Here’s what I want young people to know: They don’t have to be for me. I’m going to be for them,” she added.

Could Bernie Sanders have been that humble and non-defensive? Not from what I’ve seen so far.

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From Maxwell Tani at Business Insider, here’s another sincere and humble moment from Hillary last night.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton delivered a deeply personal answer to a question about how she stays self-confident while being conscious of her ego and staying humble.

Responding to a question from a rabbi at a CNN town-hall event, Clinton seemed to allude to damaging past public scandals, saying she kept a parable from the Bible in mind during tough situations.

“It’s not anything I’ve ever talked about this much publicly. Everybody knows that I’ve lived a very public life for the last 25 years. So I’ve had to be in public dealing with some very difficult issues,” Clinton said.

She continued: “I read that parable and there was a line in it that became just a lifeline for me. It basically is, ‘Practice the discipline of gratitude.’ Be grateful for your limitations, know that you have to reach out to have more people be with you to support you advise you. Listen to your critics, answer the questions, but at the end, be grateful.”

I thought that was straight from the heart. But it will be minimized and then brushed aside by the haters.

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In Michael Moore’s Casual Chauvinism, Michael Tomasky writes about the endorsement of Bernie Sanders by the liberal icon. In a letter, Moore lists a series of historical “firsts” in the history of presidential campaigns. The first Catholic, JFK. The first president from the deep South, Carter. The first divorced man, Ronald Reagan, and so on up till the first black president, Obama.

But Moore never mentions women at all. He doesn’t think the first woman president would be important. No. He’s thrilled by the idea of the first socialist president–ignoring the fact that Sanders would also be the first Jewish president if elected. Sanders clearly agrees with him.

Tomasky:

Here’s what’s weird and gobsmacking about this endorsement. In a letter that is almost entirely about historical firsts—it goes on to discuss how “they” used to say we’d never have gay marriage and other changes—Moore doesn’t even take one sentence to acknowledge that Clinton’s elevation to the presidency would represent an important first.

I mean, picture yourself sitting down to write that. You’re a person of the left. You are writing specifically about the first Catholic president, the first black president, the first this, the first that. You want people to believe that if those things could happen, then a “democratic socialist” could win too. Fine, if that’s your view, that’s your view.

But it’s also the case the other candidate winning would make history in a way that is at least as historically important from a politically left point of view—I would say more so, but okay, that’s a subjective judgment—and it’s not even worth a sentence? I wouldn’t expect Moore to back Clinton or even say anything particularly nice about her. But he can’t even acknowledge to female readers that this great progressive sees that having a woman president would be on its own terms a salutary thing?

I obviously have no idea whether Moore contemplated such a sentence and rejected it or it just never occurred to him. Either way, it tells us something. To a lot of men, even men of the left, the woman-president thing just isn’t important.

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Please read this magnificent essay by Melissa McEwan at Blue Nation Review: I Am a Hillary Clinton Supporter Who Has Not Always Been One.

I am a Hillary Clinton supporter who has not always been one. She was not my first choice in 2008.

But it was during that campaign I started documenting, as part of my coverage of US politics in a feminist space, the instances of misogyny being used against her by both the right and the left, amassing a “Hillary Sexism Watch” that contained more than 100 entries by the time she withdrew from the primary. And it was hardly a comprehensive record.

I have spent an enormous amount of time with Hillary Clinton, although I have never spoken to her. I have read transcripts of her speeches, her policy proposals, her State Department emails. I have watched countless hours of interviews, debates, addresses, testimony before Congress. I have scrolled though thousands of wire photos, spoken to people who have worked with and for her, read her autobiography, listened to her fans and her critics.

And what I have discovered is a person whom I like very much.

Not a perfect person. Not even a perfect candidate. I am not distressed by people who have legitimate criticisms of Hillary Clinton and some of the policies she has advocated; I share those criticisms.

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Is any person or candidate perfect?

What is distressing to me is that I see little evidence of that person in the public narratives about Hillary Clinton. Not everyone has the time nor the desire to deep-dive into documents the way that I have. If I hadn’t had a professional reason to do so, I may not have done it myself.

I may have—and did, before I was obliged otherwise—relied on what I learned about Hillary Clinton from the media.

Which, as it turns out, is deeply corrupted by pervasive misogyny.

The subtle misogyny of double-standards that mean she can’t win (even when she does), and the overt misogyny of turning her into a monster, a gross caricature of a ruthlessly ambitious villain who will stop at nothing in her voracious quest for ever more power.

Please go read the rest. I only wish I could quote the whole thing.

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Emily Crockett at Vox: This awful Morning Joe clip shows how not to talk about Hillary Clinton.

MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday featured a tone-deaf discussion of Hillary Clinton’s tone, which you can watch in full here.

“She shouts,” journalist Bob Woodward said of Clinton. “There is something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating, and I think that just jumps off the television screen.”

That kicked off an eight-minute, slow-motion train wreck of a conversation that used Clinton’s alleged problems with volume to support arguments about how voters find her untrustworthy — and even to suggest that Clinton doesn’t know or trust herself as a person.

“I’m sorry to dwell on the tone issue,” Woodward said later, “but there is something here where Hillary Clinton suggests that she’s almost not comfortable with herself, and, you know, self-acceptance is something that you communicate on television.”

Host Joe Scarborough compared Clinton unfavorably to 1980s conservative icons Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, both of whom were apparently self-confident enough to keep the noise down.

“Has nobody told her that the microphone works?” Scarborough said. “Because she always keeps it up here.” The “genius” of Reagan, Scarborough said while dropping into a deep baritone for emphasis, is that Reagan “kept it down low.”

The panel also included Cokie Roberts talking about how people think Hillary Clinton is untrustworthy and dishonest. Gee I wonder where they got that idea, Cokie?

I’m running out of space already. I’ll put some more links in the comment thread. We’ll have a live blog tonight for the MSNBC Democratic Debate.

 


Friday Reads

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Where Y’at?

Today is one of those perfect New Orleans Winter days!  It’s sunny and 68 degrees F.  It’s brisk enough for a walk in a sweater which is just how I like it.  It’s a great day for checking out the local Mardi Gras decorations prior to the descent of the Ugly Tourist.  It’s always so glittery until the day it all goes down. Then, it’s mostly drunk people and disappointment.

Speaking of drunk people and disappointment, the Iowa caucuses are Monday night which supposedly signals the end of the silly season.  I guess we’ll see about that. I’m still struck by the similarities between the Trump and Sanders campaigns.  Perhaps it’s the nature of so-called “outsider” campaigns.  You know me, I still wonder how a long term Senator and a Trust fund Baby Billionaire can be outsiders.  It just seems that mostly what we’re getting is attacks on the press and disassociation of policies with reality and intersectionality.

Bernie Sanders and WAPO are going back and forth today about the paper’s criticism of his campaign and policy suggestions.  Jonathan Capehart–speaking on Hard Ball last night–said that the voice of the editorial page on this was Chris Cillizza so that’s who probably wrote this response today.    I actually find myself agreeing with him.  Sanders ideas simply are lofty goals. They do not add up when actually put to the pencil which is the kind of thing that I’ve spent my 35 years of adult life having to do for huge corporations, for the Fed Atlanta, and for primary research.  The term used at WAPO was “half-baked”.

Sanders suggests they are too “bold” for the staid WAPO.  Today, WAPO characterizes them as over-promising.

What concerns us is not that Mr. Sanders’s program to tackle these issues is “radical,” as he put it, but that it is not very well thought out. We are far from the only ones, for example, to point out that his health-care plan rests on unbelievable assumptions about how much he could slash health-care costs without affecting the care ordinary Americans receive. “Their savings numbers are — well, politely said — simply wrong,” Emory University health-care expert Kenneth E. Thorpe told Vox. Mr. Thorpe, who is not hostile to single-payer systems of the type Mr. Sanders favors and has even advanced single-payer plans of his own, released an analysis Wednesday finding that Mr. Sanders’s proposal would cost $1 trillion more than the candidate estimated. That is not over a 10-year budget window. That is every year.

Mr. Sanders’s response to concerns over health-care costs was that other countries, such as Canada and France, spend much less than the United States per person on health care. That is true, but the question is how, specifically, he would make the model work here. The countries he praises ration care in ways that federal health programs in the United States, such as Medicare, do not. While there may be a fair case for a single-payer health-care system, Mr. Sanders does not make it. Instead, he promises comprehensive benefits without seriously discussing the inevitable trade-offs. That is not just bold; it is half-baked.

Health-care policy is only one place where Mr. Sanders makes solving the country’s difficult problems seem easy and obvious when reality is messier. He would use higher taxes on Wall Street and the rich to fund vast new programs, such as free college for all, but has no plausible plan for plugging looming deficits as the population ages. His solution to the complex international crises the United States must manage is to hand them off to others — though there is no such cavalry. This might not distinguish him much from other politicians. And that is part of the point: His campaign isn’t so much based on a new vision as on that old tactic known as overpromising.

Mardi Gras decorations on a Bourbon Street balcony, French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana USA

Mardi Gras decorations on a Bourbon Street balcony, French Quarter

This is one thing that I’ve really noticed from all the outsider campaigns this year which definitely have some political steam.  Trump promises a wall across our Southern Border paid for by the Mexican Government.  This project would cost tens of billions of dollars. 

“I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words,” Trump said in his presidential announcement speech.

The jingoistic Rubio and Cruz promise to level ISIS and hundreds and thousands of their innocent victims right along with them.  The rhetoric in this campaign is so over the top that I find myself wondering if so many candidates have overpromised on so many things in one presidential primary before.  It’s really odd because I actually found Jeb Bush’s attempts to bring the Republicans back to reality last night at the debates both sad and heartening.  No one seemed to care much about Jeb’s pronouncements except the few folks with a firm grip on political and scientific reality.  But even then, we continue to get treated to crap like the question-ability of global warming and the call to defund Planned Parenthood which provides so many health care services to so many people that it’s essentially a call for mass slaughter of one’s own citizens.

We continue to see absolute phony promises and little desire on the part of electorate to wake the fuck up. They cannot complain about being sorely disappointed in their elected officials when the elected officials they fall in love with spout absolute crap and nonsense.  The numbers are relevant.  The analysis is by Albert Hunt for Bloomberg so it comes with a be forewarned from me.

The overpromising may be more egregious than ever in the 2016 presidential race. Yet taxes were glossed over in the debate of Republican candidates last week.

Donald Trump says that his tax plan, which has huge reductions in rates and on the amount paid on investment income, focuses on working folks and sticking it to billionaires such as himself. A recentanalysis by the Tax Policy Center showed just the opposite. The Trump plan would cost the Treasury $9.5 trillion over the first decade, and almost $25 trillion over 20 years. The tax cuts would principally benefit the wealthy, almost 40 percent would be for the top 1 percent. The superrich — the top one-tenth of 1 percent — would get an average annual tax cut of $1.3 million.

By comparison, the lowest, or poorest quintile, would get an average tax cut of $130, or 1/1000th of what the wealthiest receive. In percentage terms, the top 1 percent gets a 7 percent cut, the poorest taxpayers a 1 percent reduction.)

The center also analyzed Jeb Bush’s proposal, which would cost less: $6.8 trillion in a decade. The distributional effects would be almost the same, the center found, with upper-income taxpayers receiving much of the benefit. The wealthiest 1 percent would get an average annual tax deduction of $167,325.

The center plans to examine the plans of Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz next week. Although some of the specific proposals are different, the bottom lines are expected to be similar.

Both the Bush and Trump tax plans would “improve incentives to work, save, and invest,” the center stated, while noting that these gains could be partly offset by increases in the national debt.

Also, while both these Republican plans would remove any limits on exemptions for charitable contributions, the Tax Policy Center projected that the steep reduction in rates would reduce the incentive to give to charities.

Conservatives complain that the center is associated with the left-leaning Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. But the analysts include Republicans, and the team reached out to the campaigns and Republican economists for input. The conservativeTax Foundation, while projecting smaller revenue losses, concurs that the distribution of the cuts heavily tilts to the wealthy.

The center has also said that the liberal Democrat Bernie Sanders significantly exaggerates the revenue that would be brought in by his financial transaction tax. The Vermont senator hasn’t produced a comprehensive tax plan that would pay for the enormous expansions of social programs he proposes: universal health care coverage, free tuition at public institutions and huge infrastructure projects. He advocates further tax increases on the wealthy, but some hikes for the middle class seem inevitable under his plan.

Hillary Clinton, seeking to stem a surge by Sanders in the Democratic nomination race, rushed out a proposal last week that would impose a levy on annual income of more than $5 million. Her spending proposals are more modest than those of Sanders, as is her tax plan. But she has vowed not to increase taxes on anyone making $250,000 or less, a promise that some Democratic economists say is unrealistic.

I suppose no politician ever really lost an election by overpromising, but sometimes you just have to wonder how gullible the American populace really is.  However, these are the same folks that send money to Pat Robertson and think that Rick Warren speaks for an actual and very angry Sky Fairy.

Some of us made it through the Republican Debate last night that had the notable absence of Donald Trump who is perhaps the beacon of over-promising, under-delivering, and covering it up with bravado. 02416428a205cbf7bfe68bad0e35d35d

Here comes Donald Trump, again, and again, and again, touting his prowess at dealmaking. There goes Donald Trump, again, and again, and again, touting his prowess at dealmaking. Gliding into February’s Republican presidential primaries atop a flotilla of polls, Trump has made “deals” the litmus test of his candidacy.

“If I’m president,” he announced at the most recent GOP debate, “there won’t be stupid deals anymore.”

But a well-documented and widely reported trail of bad deals litters Trump’s career as a real estate developer and gambling mogul. (Disclosure: I wrote a book about the Republican candidate,“TrumpNation,” for which he sued me in 2006 because, among other things, it questioned the size of his fortune; the suit was laterdismissed.)

Fueled by a slew of bank loans in the late 1980s, Trump absorbed an airline, a football team, a landmark hotel, a bunch of casinos, a yacht, and other nifty stuff — almost all of which he eventually lost because he couldn’t juggle the debt payments.

He overcame those setbacks, but the man who emerged from that mess wasn’t really a dealmaker anymore. Kept afloat by his wealthy father’s funds and his own gifts for self-promotion, Trump became a reality TV star, golf course developer and human shingle who licensed his name on everything from real estate and vodka to mattresses and underwear.

Through Trump’s rise, fall and rebirth, there was one major real estate project that he tried to keep. The tale of what happened to that property should be of interest to anyone looking for insight into how Trump might perform as president. It was a deal of genuine magnitude and would have put him atop the New York real estate market. And he screwed it up.

I’d like to say that gullibility is symptomatic to the new, disintegrating Republican Party but it’s alive and well in the Sanders campaign too. However, it does look like the Sanders campaign will burn out.  There’s some indication that what will happen in 2016 will be a burn out of the Republican Party itself.  Frankly, I’ve been expecting this ever since the evangelicals stormed the country club back in the 1980s. Donald Trump may be the straw meeting the camel’s back.  Read this interview with Rick Perlstein who has documented modern conservatism for a number of years.

Are you surprised that things seem to be turning up Trump?

I had a very interesting experience this summer. I remember exactly when it was. It was when I was reading an article by [Evan] Osnos in the New Yorker about Trump. He happened to be covering the white nationalist movement, basically neo-Nazis. Coincidentally, it was right when Donald Trump burst onto the scene, and he wrote about how these guys were embracing Trump, as they never had embraced any Republican candidate before. The feeling I got was that this was the first time in a very long time that I’ve read anything about the Republican Party that I couldn’t assimilate into my normal categories. That was a very uncanny and uncomfortable feeling for me. I realized that I had to go back to the drawing board and rethink what was going on. This is something that’s very new, very strange, and very hard to assimilate into what we thought we knew about how the Republican Party worked.

How has it changed your opinion of how the Republican Party works?

Well, of course, the whole of my intellectual project, which I have been working on for a good, solid 15 years now, has been the rise of a conservative infrastructure that has taken over the Republican Party and turned it into a vehicle for conservative policy. If there’s one thing that I thought I knew, it is that basically the ideas and the institutions that were born through the Goldwater movement were a backbone of this conservative takeover of the Republican Party. Donald Trump is perhaps most interesting in his lack of connections to that entire world. The first sign that something very different was happening was when he basically rejected Fox News, threw them over the side, and had no interest in kowtowing to them.

That has been amazing to behold.

By the same token, things I’ve been tracing about conservatism and the conservative takeover of the Republican Party as a backlash against the forces of liberalism—and anger at perceived liberal elites and all of the racial entailments of that—are part of the Trump phenomenon, too. So, how these things mix together and how they produce the phenomenon we’re seeing now is something that’s been very humbling for me.

Do you think the things that Trump has been exploiting have always been exploitable, or do you think that some conditions, either in the Republican Party or the country at large, have changed and made Trump possible?

That’s a good question. I think that people who base their political appeal on stirring up the latent anger of, let’s just say, for shorthand’s sake, what Richard Nixon called the “silent majority,” know that they’re riding a tiger. Whether it was Richard Nixon very explicitly, when he was charting his political comeback after the 1960 loss, rejecting the John Birch Society. Or whether it was Ronald Reagan in 1978 refusing to align himself with something called the Briggs Initiative in California, which was basically an initiative to ban gay people from teaching, at a time when gays were being attacked in the streets. Or whether it was George W. Bush saying that Islam is a religion of peace and going to a mosque the week after 9/11. These Republican leaders have always resisted the urge to go full demagogue. I think they understood that if they did so, it would have very scary consequences. There was always this boundary of responsibility, the kind of thing enforced by William F. Buckley when he was alive.

I think that Donald Trump is the first front-runner in the Republican Party to throw that kind of caution to the wind. As demagogic as so much of the conservative movement has been in the United States, and full of outrageous examples of demagoguery, there’s always been this kind of saving remnant, or fear of stirring up the full measure of anger that exists.

Mardi-Gras-bead-tree-deedeeflower-22452394-500-375Again, I will say that a good number of both Trump and Sanders supporters are angry white men and they love all these promises because the lack of talk on intersectionality is taken as a return to their predominance in one way or another.  The separating feature appears to be age.  They seem to bask in white male privilege and view the idea of any one else achieving equality with them as a lose on their score cards.   Melissa at Shakesville has some very astute analysis here about Sanders which explains to me why so many young, white, scared males are attracted to Sanders’ vision.

I will never forget having to see a female president start her campaign event by addressing misogyny, intended as a “compliment.”

I will never not understand that Hillary Clinton is not allowed to forget her womanhood for a moment, even if she wanted to, while she is running for president, and what it means that Bernie Sanders’ primary line of attack against her depends on treating her womanhood like it doesn’t matter.

This, of course, is indicative of Sanders’ entire campaign, where gender, or any identity, isn’t what’s important; the issues are. And no wonder: If Sanders actually embraced an intersectional approach that detailed how marginalized people are disproportionately and differently affected by economic, social, and political injustice, it might become abundantly clear how absurd it is to continually suggest that a woman is representative of the establishment.

And oh how absurd it is, truly, when one takes a long gaze at the uninterrogated misogyny that is being lobbed at Clinton, even by ostensible progressives. (That link shared with Erica’s permission.) If gender really didn’t matter, then it wouldn’t matter to Clinton’s opponents, either.

But it does. Clinton’s womanhood matters. Her clothes matter. Her hair matters. Her voice matters. Her tone matters. Her likeability matters. Her emotions matter. Her “murderous cackle” matters.

The thing about “the establishment” is that it’s impervious to such demeanment.

It sets the rules by which Hillary Clinton is judged ever wanting, by virtue of metrics that are inextricably tied to womanhood.

There is a person in this Democratic primary who can be visibly angry, who can shout, who can use any tone and show any emotion, who can show up to campaign events looking like they just rolled out of bed after a bender. Who can coast by on the double-standard defined and enforced by the establishment.

It is not Hillary Clinton.

All the things I am admonished to admire about Bernie Sanders, that he is passionate, that he is unpolished, that he is impolitic, that he doesn’t give a fuck, are things that the very establishment he allegedly wants to dismantle do not afford his female competitor.

i-QXR9Mdx-MHow is this different from all the things that Trump has said about Megyn Kelly which increases his viability in the eyes of so many pundits and voters alike?  Yes.  Just like we’ve had to defend Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann from slut slamming and misogyny, we have to defend Megyn Kelly.  Republican Rednecks and Democratic DudeBros both swim in the same shark tank and spout the same sexist nonsense.

Early Thursday morning, Trump followed up with a new line of attack,retweeting a pair of images from a photoshoot Kelly did for GQ magazine and the message: “And this is the bimbo that’s asking presidential questions?” The images were captioned: “Criticizes Trump for objectifying women. Poses like this in GQ magazine.”

We also were treated, last night, to Rand Paul mansplaining that Hillary Clinton can’t be a feminist icon because Monica Lewinsky and because Bill’s still her husband.

So, tell me, how are these campaigns essentially any different when you’ve got most of them promising things that they can never deliver and acting like there’s no such thing as sexism or institutional racism outside of making the right minimal  gestures and that every one will benefit the same from their beneficence? How many people are going to get fooled by this again?  And which campaigns acknowledge that the US is in fact full of a women, children, and men of many creeds and colors?  Oddly enough, it’s the two big “establishment” candidates that speak to inclusion and to varying degrees, intersectionality.

Frankly, I have one thing to say.  This country does not need any more Great White Fathers in Washington. The majority of us have been the White Man’s burden and chattel for too long.  Campaigns and politicians like these two need to be stopped now.  They’re establishment wolves in anti-establishment sheep’s clothing.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? 


Lazy Saturday Reads: Trump May Have Bitten off More than He Can Chew

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Good Morning!

In the past week or two Donald Trump has begun directing his crude and crass public attacks at Hillary Clinton rather than his Republican rivals for the presidential nomination.

Trump claimed that it was “disgusting” that Hillary went to the ladies room during a break the last Democratic debate. He said that Obama “schlonged” Hillary in the 2008 presidential primaries. He announced that it was “fair game” for him to use Bill Clinton’s infidelities in the 1990s against Hillary. Will it work?

From the NYT: Poll Show Attacks on Bill Clinton May Only Help Hillary Clinton.

Survey data from the Pew Research Center show’s [sic] Mrs. Clinton’s favorability rating jumping to 63 percent in August of 1998, four months before Mr. Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives. In December of that year, as controversy about their marriage continued to swirl, her popularity climbed higher, reaching 66 percent.

“In contrast to her husband, Hillary Clinton continues to draw high marks from the public,” Pew found at the time. “Two-thirds of Americans say they admire Hillary Clinton’s decision to stand by her husband and nearly as many have a favorable opinion of the first lady.”

Figures from Gallup also showed Mrs. Clinton’s favorability rating rising as accounts of Mr. Clinton cheating dominated headlines. That rating, which was at 39 percent in 1992, remained high through 1999 before leveling off. It hovered from 40 percent to 50 percent in the 2000s and topped 60 percent again when she joined President Obama’s cabinet.

Shawn J. Parry-Giles, a communications professor at the University of Maryland, explained in her 2014 book about the role of gender in American politics that Mrs. Clinton was seen as more sympathetic and authentic as she endured the fallout from her husband’s affair.

“As she showed a clear sense of marital fortitude by staying with her cheating husband, her poll numbers would rise,” Ms. Parry-Giles wrote. “As the scorned and sad woman attracting sympathy from others, Clinton would more closely resemble the traditional ideals of authentic womanhood.”

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Paul Waldman at The Week: Bill Clinton’s sexual history is fair game for Donald Trump. But it’s bad politics.

…since Hillary Clinton often mentions her husband’s presidency as an example of the kind of successful approach she would bring, that presidency — warts and all — is certainly relevant. But if Republicans want to re-litigate the Monica Lewinsky matter, they probably shouldn’t hope that things will turn out differently this time. You may recall that they were unable to remove Clinton from the presidency, and two years after being impeached he left office with approval ratings in the high 60s. In the end, the public decided that though his private behavior was deplorable, they were happy with the job he was doing as president. They also concluded that a bunch of prurient Republicans had become positively obsessed with Clinton’s sexual life and dragged the country through a needless impeachment crisis.

It’s fair game to talk about all that again (which, I must point out, members of the media would absolutely love to do). What’s much harder to figure out is why Bill Clinton’s behavior provides a reason to vote against his wife. That’s the substance of the question, which still awaits an explanation.

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Obviously for Trump and the dudebro media, a wife is simply an appendage, not a person in her own right.

One might even ask what relevance Donald Trump’s obvious sexism has for the presidency. Unlike with some of the other large groups he has alienated, it’s less clear what the connection would be between Trump’s sexism and his actual policy positions. Yes, he finds women’s bodily functions “disgusting,” in the word he repeatedly uses (see here or here), and has a history of dumping his wives when they hit their 40s so he can get himself a younger model. But his positions on issues of particular concern to women are little different from those of most Republicans, even those who are perfectly polite and respectful to everyone (you can argue that things like opposing abortion rights are inherently sexist, but that doesn’t tell us anything about Trump specifically).

But it would be “fair game” now, right? Please go read the rest of the piece at the link. It’s good.

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Mary Sanchez at the Chicago Tribune: Donald Trump should think twice about taking on Bill Clinton.

Donald Trump might be picking the wrong schoolyard fight. His modus operandi is to  bully. And it’s proved to be an ideal strategy for tying his Republican rivals in knots. But now he’s trying it on someone whose powers of political legerdemain are legendary: Bill Clinton.

The 69-year-old former president is wilier than Trump could ever dream of being. This is the man who hung the 1995-1996 government shutdown around the neck of his chief political adversary, House Speaker Newt Gingrich. A formidable huckster in his own right, Gingrich was the It Boy of conservatism and the leader of an ascendant “Republican Revolution,” but after losing his budget showdown with Clinton, his career went into permanent eclipse.

Gingrich’s oafish understudies then mounted an ill-advised impeachment campaign against Clinton, which only burnished the president’s credentials as a victim of partisan fanaticism.

Trump, by contrast, is a cad whose vulgarity and brutishness are given cover by the fact that those very qualities are cheered by a large portion of the Republican base. He’s making the P.T. Barnum bet on the Republican electorate, and so far it’s paying off.

In recent days, Trump has pounced on Hillary Clinton’s husband, in particular his record of cheating, as a new stratagem to upend her campaign. On Twitter, he asserted: “If Hillary thinks she can unleash her husband, with his terrible record of women abuse, while playing the women’s card on me, she’s wrong!”

But this only underscores another difference between Bill Clinton and Donald Trump: The former president’s record on so-called women’s issues is stellar. He appointed the first women to become U.S. attorney general and secretary of state, added Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the U.S. Supreme Court and signed the Violence Against Women Act, along with other measures that benefited women.

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Most recently Trump has been claiming that Hillary is “weak” and “low energy” and that she “lacks .”

From the Washington Post:

For as long as Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye, she has answered questions — and sometimes volunteered information — about how much and how hard she works to get it all done.

Few, even her political enemies, have questioned her work ethic or staying power — until Donald Trump.

“She’ll do a couple of minutes in Iowa, meaning a short period of time. And then she goes home,” the GOP presidential front-runner said in Davenport, Iowa, a few weeks ago, as his attention turned to those areas. “You don’t see her for five or six days. She goes home, goes to sleep. I’m telling you. She doesn’t have the strength. She doesn’t have the stamina.”

Ever since — and increasingly in recent days — the magnate has lobbed a barrage of insults at Clinton from onstage at his campaign rallies, on television and online. The former secretary of state is “low-energy,” Trump says. She lacks stamina. She’s physically weak.

The attacks — often coded, always personal — seem to be aimed at raising questions in voters’ minds about a factor that has long been whispered in some GOP circles: how Clinton’s age could affect her ability to serve.

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Trump is older than Clinton, but I guess he thinks he’s not affected by aging. Or maybe he thinks only women are?

“I think that my words represent toughness and strength. Hillary’s not strong. Hillary’s weak, frankly. She’s got no stamina; she’s got nothing,” the billionaire said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “She couldn’t even get back on the stage last night.”

Her energy level, he has said, should disqualify her from the presidency. “Hillary is a person who doesn’t have the strength or the stamina, in my opinion, to be president,” Trump told ABC’s “This Week.” “She doesn’t have strength or stamina. She’s not a strong enough person to be president.”

Trump, who often takes credit for saddling former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) with a “low-energy” label, has lately used the same line on Clinton.

“She’s even lower-energy than Jeb Bush,” he told a South Carolina crowd on Wednesday.

Trump has looked tired by the end of every GOP debate. I’d love to see him sit through 11 hours of hostile questioning at a Congressional hearing as Hillary did not too long ago. Who know what’s in Trump’s fevered brain, but I think these are all sexist attacks designed to make people believe a woman couldn’t handle the presidency. I don’t think this line of attack is going to work for Trump either.

A few more reactions to Trump’s attacks on Hillary and Bill Clinton:

Joe Conason at The National Memo: Below Par: Donald Trump’s Ardent Courtship Of Bill And Hillary Clinton.

Janelle Ross at the WaPo: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and how sexism is now partisan.

Lanny Davis at The Hill: Thank you, Mr. Trump — keep attacking the Clintons.

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What do you think? What stories are you following today?