Who Runs The Government Matters For Reasons Other Than National Security. Here Is Just One.

Back in 1997, after the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was signed into law by Bill Clinton, some right-wingers were placing the blame on Hillary (surprise, surprise). But by all objective accounts, Mrs. Clinton did play a significant role as First Lady in getting her husband’s administration to not only push for the bill, but stay with a more generous version of it, after House Republicans had cut down its funding (surprise, surprise). Ted Kennedy, who was the leading legislative force behind the CHIP bill, gave Hillary credit for providing “invaluable help, both in the fashioning and the shaping of the program.” 

Today, according to the government, 8.4 million kids are enrolled in CHIP, which covers children whose parents make too much money to qualify for regular Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance. The program provides qualified kids with health coverage and their parents with, well, some peace of mind. CHIP is funded by both the states and the federal government and likely would be insuring even more kids today if George W. Bush had not vetoed an expansion of the program in 2007 (surprise, surprise). Why did he veto it? Did he hate children? Nah. The bill contained a tax increase on cigarettes to pay for the expansion and Bush told Congress that he “was willing to work with its leadership to find any additional funds necessary to put poor children first, without raising taxes.” In other words, Bush put children second and lower cigarette taxes first (surprise, surprise).

As you can theoretically see, it matters who manages the government, both in Congress and the White House. Barack Obama signed an expansion of the program in 2009, which helped more children and pregnant women. The program was renewed again in 2015 with overwhelming bipartisan support (although there was a “discussion draft” created by right-wingers that was designed to reduce the number of those covered). But it is worth noting three of the eight Republicans in the Senate who opposed that renewal in 2015Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio. Jeff Sessions. All three have a Trump connection. Cruz and Rubio infamously ran against him and more infamously support Trump despite saying horrible things about him. And Sessions was the first big-timer to legitimate Trump and has been his most prominent defender on Capitol Hill.

There were also 33 Republicans in the House who opposed the renewal of CHIP. One of them was Jim Bridenstine, who essentially represents Tulsa, Oklahoma, in Congress. Bridenstine recently blasted Speaker Paul Ryan for not supporting Trump: “If Paul Ryan isn’t for Trump,” he tweeted, “then I’m not for Paul Ryan.” Well, we all know that Trump has repeatedly and forcefully vowed to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, which, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, helps “strengthen coverage for children and financing for CHIP.” Again, it matters very much who creates legislation, votes on it, and signs it into law—or doesn’t.

In the case of CHIP, most Americans may not care about who did what and who didn’t. Most folks don’t need the program and probably don’t know anyone who does. Thus, it is an abstraction, something that doesn’t necessarily matter all that much. Sometimes, though, people need a reminder of how much programs like CHIP matter to their fellow citizens and who it was out there fighting for them. Here is one such reminder:

Hillary-Inspired Sexism (1979-Present)

I know it has been out for three days now, but a video published by The National Memo still stuns me. Thirty-seven years of answering essentially the same sexist questions, the same sexist questions rooted in a still-sexist culture, has to take a toll on a person. But Hillary Clinton seems to be strong enough to endure. If I were her, I wouldn’t even bother with the press anymore. Journalists, after failing to get her to call herself a liar, almost always follow up with variations of the same two questions: Why don’t people like you and why don’t they trust you? At some point, she should turn the tables on journalists: Why don’t people like you and trust you?

Sickening:

Wise Advice To Hillary Clinton From A Wise Liberal

Franch Rich is the executive producer of HBO’s “Veep” and writer-at-large for New York Magazine. He’s a smart guy. He asks and answers an important question:

So what is the future of the GOP? Win or lose this fall, it will remain, as it has been for some time, the last outpost of old white America. Riding in on a wave of anti-Obama rage, Trump has made explicit the racial animus that was implicit in the Nixon-Reagan-Bush years. He not only wants to be the new Nixon, but the new Spiro Agnew, Jesse Helms, Lee Atwater, Pat Buchanan, and all of the rest combined. Even if he goes down, his followers are going to be creating havoc for years to come, doing their best to make real the horrific Armageddon-tinged portrait of the nation that Trump drew in his dark and corrosive acceptance speech. The white dead-enders are doomed by demography in the end, but not at the pace one might wish.

Amen to that. The end of that old GOP can’t come soon enough for me.

Rich also made a great point about how television journalists are covering Trump, followed by some advice for Hillary Clinton, advice I am afraid she won’t follow:

Watching [Trump’s acceptance speech], I was struck once again by how ill-prepared the so-called liberal press is to deal with the Trump phenomenon. Commentators on CNN and MSNBC noted some of the downsides of his speech but gave high marks for style (“very forceful,” according to Wolf Blitzer; “rousing” at its conclusion, according to Chris Matthews) as if it were just another business-as-usual political speech to be graded (on a curve). There was lots of in-the-moment fact-checking by our top news organizations — no mean task given the dense web of deceit Trump was spinning — but the appeal of the Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with facts and will not be countered by facts. Trump is about anger, resentment, hatred — stark emotions that override rationality and are immune to its niceties. Trump is utterly ignorant about any issue you can name, and always has been, but those who will vote for him don’t care. He is their voice — of rage — as he reiterated constantly from the podium.

No, the only defense we have against Trump is his opponent. She must make sure that the other America, the America that is appalled, victimized, and scandalized by Trump and what he represents, goes to the polls to vote “no.” Is Hillary Clinton up to it? I don’t know. Yes, she could win by a landslide. But she could well lose, and to believe otherwise is to live in the cocoon of, yes, the liberal media — the cocoon that gave us all of those poll analysts who said Trump could never win the nomination and who kept saying it was only a matter of time before the Republicans’ “best candidate” (that would be Marco Rubio, remember him?) would emerge from the pack to save the day.

A chilling article by Aaron Blake of the Washington Post tracking Clinton’s downward trajectory as the convention convened makes it clear how close this is going to be. While 49 percent of registered voters “strongly dislike” Trump, 47 percent feel the same way about Clinton — in other words, a statistical dead heat of detestation. She has got to rise above that — with a vice-presidential pick, to be announced imminently, who will rally voters rather than bore them, with a convention that isn’t a smug and relentlessly rational legal brief but a fierce rallying cry that also speaks to the emotions, if higher emotions than Trump’s. This is a war in which the country hangs in the balance. You don’t win wars with civility and bullet points.

A lot is riding on the Democratic convention next week and the campaign to follow. Let’s hope the convention is more than a wonk-fest. Let’s hope it is Rich’s “fierce rallying cry” that will make clear there is no one to stop Donald Trump but Hillary Clinton, her running mate, and voters set on fire with passion, if not for Clinton herself, at least for a Trump-less future.

Bernie, Finally, Joins the “Stop Trump” Movement

Bernie Sanders unequivocally endorsed Hillary Clinton today. Good for him. Good for the Democratic Party. And, hopefully, good for the country.

Since I have spent a lot of time criticizing him for his behavior up until today, I owe him my thanks for belatedly doing the right thing. I watched his speech today in New Hampshire, and when he got around to talking about Hillary Clinton, he didn’t mince words. He actually endorsed her like he meant it, even though he knew that doing so would disappoint and aggravate some of his most loyal supporters. He effectively contrasted her positions on the issues with those of Trump and reminded everyone of something essential:

If you don’t believe this election is important, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump will nominate, and what that means to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country.

I don’t think those of us who have been critical of Sanders should ignore just how important today is. Sure, Bernie’s delay was somewhat damaging, as was some of the things he and his supporters said and did during the primary season. But it was close to essential to get Bernie on board Clinton’s campaign. His passion and energy, as well as the passion and energy of those who will follow his lead, will help Democrats at all levels. We need all hands on deck. As Bernie mentioned today, Democrats not only need the White House, but the Congress, if there is any hope of getting progressive policies enacted.

Bernie also said something that Democrat-friendly people, who don’t necessarily like Hillary Clinton personally, should think about:

This campaign is not really about Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, or any other candidate who sought the presidency. This campaign is about the needs of the American people and addressing the very serious crises that we face. And there is no doubt in my mind that, as we head into November, Hillary Clinton is far and away the best candidate to do that.

If you have any amount of sympathy for what Bernie Sanders was fighting for, if you have any amount of sympathy for the principles the Democratic Party represents, then it is imperative to get past your difficulties with Hillary Clinton’s personality or with her much-examined history. There is just too much at stake.

clinton and sanders.jpgBut Bernie statement above isn’t quite correct this election cycle. In an important sense, in a sense Bernie never touched on today, this election is about a candidate, a very unusual and unstable candidate. Trump’s utter unfitness for office, his manifestly disqualifying temperament, should be on voter’s minds. If Hillary Clinton is to win, she must focus not just on addressing the needs of the American people, but in reminding them, again and again, of just how existentially dangerous Trump is. Those tempted to not vote for her because they think she’s not progressive enough or because she has taken money from big shots or because they just can’t stand her personality need to know what they are risking.

I was talking to a neighbor the other day, a highly educated neighbor who said she was considering voting for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. I asked her why. She said she thought Hillary Clinton was too ambitious, and it was clear she didn’t much like her. It really didn’t seem to have all that much to do with Clinton’s policy positions. It just appeared she didn’t like Clinton. Of course I challenged her on that “ambitious” remark, saying that I don’t often hear people criticize male politicians for their ambition. But I also challenged her to think about the fact that a vote for Johnson, or any third-party candidate, is in effect a vote for Trump. It’s a vote that Hillary should get but won’t. And multiplied that could mean a Trump victory that would hurt a lot of people, both here and around the world.

I don’t know what she thought about my challenge, but I do know that people need to think about not just the policies that would flow out of a Clinton or Trump administration, or the personnel that would populate the government by virtue of a win by either, but people need to think long and hard about the damage—long-term damage—that Trump can do to our country by the sheer force of his incorrigible ignorance and chronic bigotry and self-obsessed temperament.

It occurred to me, after hearing Trump cynically say last night, “I am the law and order candidate,” that no one would be all that shocked to hear him say, upon taking office, “I am the law.” That is why Sanders’ endorsement today was so important. And that is why, again, I want to thank him for not being Ralph Nader.

Bad Moon Rising

I hear hurricanes a’blowin’
I know the end is coming soon
I fear rivers overflowin’
I hear the voice of rage and ruin

Don’t go around tonight
Well, it’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise

—John Cameron Fogerty

his is the voice of rage and ruin. That is Donald Trump. No doubt about it. His declaration that “the system is rigged,” which he shouts routinely now, is in the cynic’s tongue.

But the extreme cynicism we see all around us—the utter distrust many people have in our democratic institutions, our politicians, in even ourselves as citizens of an experimental democracy—is not the fault of Donald Trump. He has just given voice to it and will, it is guaranteed, try to make a buck off it.

I have been amazed, like most people, at the success Trump has had. More than four in ten Americans, if we are to believe the polls, prefer this ignorant, bigoted, racist demagogue over the alternative, Hillary Clinton. We can blame a lot of people for this phenomenon, including Mrs. Clinton and her troubles, including journalists who make mountains out of rage and ruin.jpgClinton’s molehills and who make molehills out of Trump’s mountains, and especially including Republicans who have, for more than a generation now, figured out how to wreck the machinery of government and create much of the crippling cynicism we see today.

But really, the fault is ours.  We. The. People. Our country really is an experiment in democracy, in self-government. There are no guarantees that the experiment will turn out well. It could go badly. The end could really come one day. What we are really doing when we give up and consider handing our government over to a nasty, divisive figure like Donald Trump is giving up on ourselves, on our ability to make this experiment work. If we don’t vote, or if we vote for a third-party candidate who has no chance of winning, we are really opting for failure. We are throwing in the towel. Quitting. Saying to hell with it.

I see the bad moon rising. The voice of rage and ruin is on our television every day. If we let him win, the country certainly will lose. But it may be that his bone-chilling demagoguery has made it such that even if he loses, the country won’t win. All of the rage-and-ruin bluster that is broadcast seemingly nonstop may have pushed us too far already. Trump, and the cynical politicians on the right who have embraced his hate-spewing, America-rending candidacy, may have made it impossible for anyone to govern this country effectively.

I fear it is so. I hope I’m wrong.

 

Did Hillary Clinton Kill Someone Yesterday?

She must have. She must have killed a lot of people. Perhaps she perpetrated a mass shooting or blew up a school building full of children. Maybe she set a nursing home on fire and laughed while it burned. Something like that must have happened for there to be such Hillary-hating hysteria on television, the Internet, social media, and in print since yesterday.

It’s everywhere, this hysteria. Coming from the right and the left. I have seen it on Fox. I have seen it on CNN—which is subsidizing Trump’s campaign by paying so many of his surrogates for their on-air appearances and broadcasting his rallies endlessly—and, regrettably, I have seen it on MSNBC, starting last night when liberal journalist Chris Hayes invited Clinton-hating Glenn Greenwald on to have a go at Hillary. MSNBC this morning was even worse, as the crew at Morning Joe lost their minds over the FBI’s failure to recommend indictment of an obviously guilty Hillary Clinton.

morning joe and hillary emailYou see, Hillary’s guilt is determined not by a court, not by people in the law business, but by people in the Clinton-hating business. And as we can now see, that’s a big business. Joe Scarborough, a long-time Clinton hater, said this morning, “Anybody else would have gone to jail.” Scarborough, a Republican with a TV show, gets to play judge and jury when it comes to Hillary Clinton. She has no rights a cable pundit is bound to respect.

Try to keep all this hate and hysteria in context. And by context I mean Donald Trump. As Huffpo puts at the end of every story on the GOP nominee:

Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

That factual addendum leaves out one important fact: the man is clearly mentally unstable and in no way can be trusted with any intelligence information, let alone trusted with putting his tiny, insecure fingers on the nuclear trigger. Yet, this morning I heard the Morning Joe panel giggle over Trump’s unhinged speech last night at his rally in North Carolina, a speech that CNN carried in full and which featured this:

Trump Praises Saddam Hussein Again — This Time For Killing Terrorists ‘So Good’

Yes, Trump really praised a brutal dictator. He has never met an authoritarian he didn’t like. And his followers, who shower him with adoration, have apparently never met a lover of authoritarians they didn’t love. And journalists, on television and elsewere, apparently find Trump not dangerous or disturbed, but entertaining.

Also for context keep in mind the David Petraeus controversy scandal, which comes up during almost any discussion of Clinton’s email practices. What exactly did he do? As the L.A. Times put it in an excellent article:

In the Petraeus case, which came to light in 2012, the CIA director was found to have shared highly classified documents with his biographer, Patricia Broadwell, during the course of their affair. Investigators found more than 100 photographs from notebooks Petraeus had given her, as well as secret PowerPoint briefings on the war in Afghanistan. The Justice Department threatened to charge him with three felonies, which could have landed him in prison for years. They eventually settled on a misdemeanor plea deal, where Petraeus pleaded guilty to giving false statements to the FBI, paid a $100,000 fine and was sentenced to two years’ probation. Petraeus, regarded as one of the military’s most skillful commanders by Democrats and Republicans alike, resigned in shame.

Let me summarize that for you: The good, family-values General was banging someone-not-his-wife, and he knowingly gave that someone-not-his-wife classified information that he knew would be made public because that someone-not-his-wife was a journalist writing a book about him, and then, just for grins and giggles, he lied to the FBI about it. Yeah, that’s pretty close to what Hillary Clinton allegedly did, right? Jesus, people.

Oh, I almost forgot. Remember that George W. Bush email controversy in 2007? You don’t? Haven’t heard the hysterical talking heads mention that one when discussing Hillary?  Here’s a summary from PBS’s Washington Week:

In 2007, when Congress asked the Bush administration for emails surrounding the firing of eights U.S. attorneys, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales revealed that many of the emails requested could not be produced because they were sent on a non-government email server.  The officials had used the private domain gwb43.com, a server run by the Republican National Committee. Two years later, it was revealed that potentially 22 million emails were deleted, which was considered by some to be a violation of the Presidential Records Act.

Who went to jail over that? Huh? Karl Rove, who used that private server for most of his emailing while in the White House, is enjoying life on Fox “News” and still working to undermine Democrats everywhere. And Rove never suffered for his part in the public outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Oh, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, knee-deep in that 2007 scandal, was on television this morning criticizing FBI Director James Comey!

What a country.

If I sound angry it is because I am. If you watched and appreciated President Obama yesterday, as he endorsed Hillary Clinton in North Carolina and gave a great speech extolling her virtues, obama and clinton.jpgthen you’d be angry too. That unprecedented event pretty much got lost in all the hate coming from, as I said, both the right and the left. We live in sick times.

If I were Mrs. Clinton, I would tell all the haters out there—especially those Bernie-bots who hate her more than most conservatives do—to go straight to hell. I would tell them they can have Donald Trump if they want him. I would say good luck getting, from a Trump administration, free college and decent healthcare for all and the other things you say you want. I would tell all those young people out there, those who hate Hillary’s guts so much they would prefer a global warming denier as their president, have at it. He’s all yours. I’ll be long dead before the worst of it hits the planet.

I would tell all those working stiffs—including some union folks—who prefer Trump, to enjoy the mess he makes of the economy and the world. Enjoy your lower wages, if you still have a bleeping job. And, finally, I would tell all those journalists, those who are making it safe for Trump to broadcast his bigotry and ignorance and racism and hatred for a free press, I’m outta here. You think it is more interesting to cover someone like Trump? You’ll find out what interesting is. You like the ratings he brings? You’ll be the ones who pay. You think he’s funny? Laugh until you cry.

I would tell them all that I’m going home to play with my grandkids. And when things get really bad, I can move. Can you?

__________________________

Not that it matters much to anyone it seems, but here is an excerpt from President Obama’s speech yesterday:

Now, let me tell you, North Carolina, my faith in Hillary Clinton has always been rewarded. I have had a front-row seat to her judgment and her toughness and her commitment to diplomacy. And I witnessed it in the Situation Room where she argued in favor of the mission to get Bin Laden.

I saw how — I saw how — how as a former senator from New York, she knew, she understood because she had seen it, she had witnessed it, what this would mean for the thousands who had lost loved ones when the Twin Towers fell.

I benefited from her savvy and her skill in foreign capitals where her pursuit to diplomacy led to new partnerships, opened up new nations to democracy, helped to reduce the nuclear threat. We’ve all witnessed the work she’s done to advance the lives of women and girls around the globe.

She has been working on this since she was a young woman working at the Children’s Defense Fund. She’s not late to the game at this; she’s been going door to door to make sure kids got a fair share, making sure kids with disabilities could get a quality education.

She’s been fighting those fights, and she’s got the scars to prove it….

But you know, it — it wasn’t just what happened in the lime light that made me grow more and more to admire and respect Hillary. It was how she acted when the cameras weren’t on. It was knowing how she did her homework. It was knowing how many miles she put in traveling to make sure that America was effectively represented in corners of the globe that people don’t even know about. There wasn’t any — any — any political points to be had, but she knew that it was important.

I saw how she treated everybody with respect, even the folks who aren’t quote/unquote “important.” That’s how you judge somebody is how do they treat somebody when the cameras are off and they can’t do anything for you. Do you still treat them right? Do you still treat them with respect? Do you still listen to them? Are you still fighting for them?

I saw how deeply she believes in the things she fights for. And I saw how you can count on her and how she won’t waver and she won’t back down. And she will not quit, no matter how difficult the challenge and no matter how fierce the opposition.

And — and if there’s one thing I can tell you, Charlotte, is those things matter. Those — those — those things matter. I am here to tell you that the truth is nobody fully understands the challenges of the job of president until you’ve actually sat at that desk.

Everybody’s got an opinion, but nobody actually knows the job until you’re sitting behind the desk. Everybody can tweet, but nobody actually knows what it takes to do the job until you’ve sat behind the desk.

Clinton Email Nonsense: If “No Charges Are Appropriate In This Case,” Why Did Comey Blast Clinton Anyway?

FBI Director James Comey didn’t quite give Republicans what they wanted. But he went out of his way to give them the next best thing.

Let’s start with a simple admission. Yes, Hillary Clinton brought much of this on herself. Her almost fanatical insistence on her privacy, and her justified suspicions that right-wingers out there would do her harm by obtaining personal information through FOIA requests, led her, just before she went to work for the government as Secretary of State, to establish her own email server, which, she even admits, turned out to be a colossal mistake.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s move on to just why the FBI was involved in this nonsense in the first place, according to Director Comey:

The investigation began as a referral from the Intelligence Community Inspector General in connection with Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail server during her time as Secretary of State. The referral focused on whether classified information was transmitted on that personal system.

Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.

Notice that the FBI’s job in this case was to see whether or not what Hillary Clinton did, related to her use of a private email server, actually violated a federal law. It was really that simple: did she or didn’t she break the law? Comey and his agency found that she did not. Okay, what he said was,

Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case…As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.

Why wouldn’t a “reasonable prosecutor” bring the case? Because, as many lawyers have been saying all along, the case would fail. Remember that there had to be malicious intent or gross negligence. After months and months of looking, Comey couldn’t find either, but that didn’t stop the Bush-era Republican from publicly scolding Mrs. Clinton:

Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

“Extremely careless”? Extremely? The word “careless” needed that particular modifier? Careless wasn’t good enough by itself? Somewhat careless wasn’t tough enough? That kind of Fox -like criticism hurled at Mrs. Clinton—and that’s really whom this whole thing was about; let’s don’t kid ourselves—is criticism that an FBI Director, who has worked for a Republican administration, ought not to have made in an election year, when the person he labeled “extremely careless” will be the Democratic Party nominee. It might have helped shed light on this controversy if Comey had bothered to mention just how screwed up our system for classifying information is, but he limited his criticisms to Mrs. Clinton, including this unnecessary critique:

While not the focus of our investigation, we also developed evidence that the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.

Now, if it was “not the focus” of the FBI’s investigation, one has to wonder why Comey found it necessary to essentially badmouth Clinton’s management of the State Department, james comey.jpgat least in terms of how the agency handled classified information. Comey’s unsolicited criticism seemed full of purpose, whatever his purpose was. It obviously helps Donald Trump’s campaign, even if Trump isn’t smart enough to figure that out by himself.

On MSNBC, just after Comey’s announcement, Andrea Mitchell had on as her first Republican guest none other than Ben Carson. Huh? Ben Carson? Really? Was Sarah Palin busy? Needless to say, Carson was—when he was awake—fairly incoherent, but he did manage to say that Clinton’s “judgment” is the real issue, not the legalities. Ahhh, yes. Her judgment. That happens to be a Bernie Sanders special, which Trump has borrowed and devilishly embellished for the remainder of this campaign. The she-has-poor-judgment critique is bolstered considerably by Comey’s out-of-bounds commentary today.

Speaker Paul Ryan, reacting with Trump-like hysteria, said in response to Comey:

Declining to prosecute Secretary Clinton for recklessly mishandling and transmitting national security information will set a terrible precedent. The findings of this investigation also make clear that Secretary Clinton misled the American people when she was confronted with her criminal actions. While we need more information about how the Bureau came to this recommendation, the American people will reject this troubling pattern of dishonesty and poor judgment.

It remains to be seen what the American people will reject since we haven’t had an election yet. But what we can see is that for Hillary Clinton, even when she manages to clear one hurdle, another one is quickly put in front of her. Far from being “above the law,” as Paul Ryan and others have suggested today and in the past, she is in some ways below it. Even when the FBI director basically cleared her of legal liability, the Speaker of the House talked openly about “her criminal actions.” And the FBI director himself offered up, for whatever reason, a double-dose of criticism that happens to harmonize with “crooked Hillary” Tweets from the GOP nominee, a man who is demonstrably and dangerously dishonest, not to mention a walking, tweeting example of poor judgment.

Did James Comey say the things he said today in order to help Trump? I doubt it. He more than likely was trying to deflect criticism away from him and his agency by going as far as he could, rhetorically, to damage Hillary Clinton, even as he said—I repeat—“no charges are appropriate in this case.” And damage her he did. Fortunately, though, we can count on Republicans to overplay their hands, just like they have with Benghazi and other “scandals” of the past. In the meantime, for her it’s on to North Carolina with President Obama, both of them hopefully campaigning about things that matter, like what would a world with a nuclear-armed President Trump look like.

Why There Is A Trump

Other than white fear and anxiety—which I have written about many times—there are two other reasons we have a Trump.

One I found in an L. A. Times article (“News coverage of campaign greatly aided Trump and hurt Clinton, study finds“), which confirmed what anyone who has consumed the news since last June already knew. But it’s nice to have an objective study confirm what may only be personal bias. The lede:

News coverage of the early months of the presidential campaign strongly boosted Donald Trump’s bid and put Hillary Clinton at a disadvantage, according to a new study from Harvard that is likely to add to the heavy volume of complaints that the media aided Trump’s rise.

There’s that.

Then there’s this, which I found on The Hill:

Carl Bernstein: Trump speech ‘abhorrent’ but ‘effective’

Bernstein, unfortunately, is a CNN commentator. The old Watergate-breaking journalist was critiquing the godawful speech Trump gave today on banning Muslims and protecting those newly-lovable gay people that Republicans didn’t use to love until it became politically expedient to love them. Those same newly-lovable gay people that Democrats like Obama and Clinton are failing to protect because those two America-haters allow every gay-hating terrorist in the world to walk into the United States without so much as a howdy. The speech was, as Bernstein said, quite “abhorrent.” But here’s what else Bernstein said about it:

His speech will appeal to independents, even some Democrats and certainly Republicans because Hillary Clinton, Obama and the Democrats are very late to acknowledge by name that there is a real threat of Islamic terrorism in this country and all over the world and they have been very reluctant to use the word Islamic terror and it’s coming back to haunt them. The impression Trump gave today, with some effectiveness, despite his almost neo-fascist rhetoric, is that the Democrats have not done that.

That is so dumb, on so many levels, I can hardly draw a breath.

First, I don’t know one single Democrat who would find that speech appealing. If there are Democrats out there who do find neo-fascism appealing, guess what? They ain’t really Democrats.

bernsteinSecond, Clinton, Obama, and the Democrats are not “very late to acknowledge by name that there is a real threat of Islamic terrorism in this country and all over the world.” There are plenty of dead terrorists out there to refute that very ignorant claim. Just ask Osama bin Laden, the next time you’re snorkeling for seashells.

Third, what about the reluctance “to use the word [sic] Islamic terror”? Bernstein knows, or should know, why there is reluctance to use the word in the way that right-wingers want Democrats to use it. Responsible elected officials, as opposed to Republican elected officials, have to be careful not to alienate the very people who can help stop terrorists from terrorizing. Bernstein said it’s “coming back to haunt” Democrats. Oh, yeah? Where’s the proof of that? Obama was reelected, even though the right made the same attacks on him back in 2012. He’s also fairly popular right now. Does Bernstein think non-Republican people are so dumb that they think just by uttering “Islamic terrorism” all the terrorists out there will turn into Mr. Rogers?  I can pretty much guarantee anyone that ISIS thugs don’t really give a damn whether Hillary Clinton decided to use the term “Islamic terrorism” today. All they care about, besides killing other Muslims, is not having an American drone as a breakfast guest.

Fourth, Bernstein said Trump’s speech used “almost neo-fascist rhetoric.” No. It wasn’t almost neo-fascist. It was the real deal. At least as real as fascism gets in American politics. Bernstein also said that despite the close-to-fascist rhetoric, Trump’s speech was effective. Again, what evidence is there for that? Trump is a known liar and everyone not already hypnotized by authoritarian bombast has ten thousand good reasons not to believe anything he says about Obama, Clinton, or the size of his bratwurst. The only way anyone outside the Trump cult would give any credence to such a neo-fascist speech, which was full of non-facts, is if people like Carl Bernstein gave them reason to.

And that is exactly what he did. Bernstein should have called the speech what it was and not given anyone the impression that Trump is anything other than a dangerous authoritarian, who at times today acted like a lunatic. He should have said that Trump is quite openly telling us how he will change the country for the worse and how he will dramatically expand the powers of the executive branch beyond anything conservatives have imagined Obama doing. Instead, Bernstein practiced the kind of journalism we are too used to seeing since Trump slinked into our politics. The kind of journalism that has placed America dangerously close to electing a neo-fascist.

Liz Can Do More Than Castrate Drumpfs

There is no doubt that Elizabeth Warren has turned Drumpf into The Orange Eunuch.

Like a crazed squirrel, he can look into every nook and cranny of Drumpf Tower, search all over Manhattan, even take a peek into Chris Christie’s lunch box. But Drumpf still won’t find his nuts. The senator from Massachusetts has not-so-surgically removed them right in front of the world and is about to take them across this country as a—excuse me—”testament” to what a strong woman can do to a “thin-skinned, racist bully” and a “loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud.”

But as her appearance on Rachel Maddow’s show last night proved, she is more than a eunuch-maker. She is a powerful voice for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party’s values.

After telling St. Rachel that Democrats, winding down a hard-fought primary, “need to start thinking about all of this together” and focusing on the differences between Democrats and Republicans, she said this:

WARREN: But, you know, I want to add another part to this because I think it really matters here. And I like our talking back and forth but I want to get this on the table and get it on the table early. Hillary Clinton won. And she won because she’s a fighter, she’s out there, she’s tough. And I think this is what we need.

Look at who she is. For 25 years, she’s been taking the incomings, right? The right wing has thrown everything they possibly can at her. And what does she do? A lot of people would just hang up their spurs. They’d say, “You know, I’ve had enough of this.” And she doesn’t. What she’s done is she gets back up and she gets back in the warren endorsing clinton.jpgfight.

As a Democrat, one of the things that frustrates me the most is there are a lot of times we just don’t get in the fight. We ask “pretty please” if we can have things, or we make the argument for why it is the best thing to do, and then wait patiently for the other side to agree to come along. We negotiate. We start our opening position by negotiating. You know, and I get that. I get the reason that you should be willing to negotiate sometimes. But you also ought to be willing to throw a punch.

And there are a lot of things that people say about Hillary Clinton. But nobody says that she doesn’t know how to throw a punch.

MADDOW: As somebody — I agree with you, both on the perseverance and on the fighter characterization of Hillary Clinton. I think that’s the most important way to understand her political power, her willingness to never give up. We have gone 240 years in this country without a woman ever being nominated for president, let alone elected one.

WARREN: Yes.

MADDOW: Her aggression and her stance as a fighter in politics, does that make her more palatable to a country who apparently has a real problem with this concept, or less? Does that make it harder for her?

WARREN: You know, to me, this isn’t about “palatable” anymore. This is about what we need to survive. This is about whether or not we are going to have a country that just works for the Donald Trumps of the world, that just works for a handful of the largest corporations of the world, or a country that really is building an economic future for all of us.

And yes, I think having a fighter in the lead, a female fighter in the lead, is exactly what this country needs.

Later she talked about something that all Democrats believe—not just Bernie supporters—and because of her credentials, she could talk about it with all credibility:

WARREN: There are so many more people on our side. And I’m not just talking Democrats here. You talk about those core issues, about Social Security, about college, about raising the minimum wage, about reining in Wall Street. You look at those core issues and somewhere between 60 percent and 75 percent of all of America, that’s Democrats, Republicans, independents, libertarians, vegetarians. They sign up and say,“Yes, I’m for that.”

So, the question is then, Rachel — why hasn’t that happened? Why hasn’t it happened?

The answer is because Washington, this place where we are right now. It is the bubble. It’s the bubble that’s created by the money. It is the bubble that is created by the contributions, by the lobbyists, by every part of this tight little circle. Our only chance to break out of that is that we got to say, against your concentrated money and power, “We’re going to put up our voices and our votes and we’re going to be here. We’re going to be here in these elections. And we’re going to make sure that the people who run for office and get elected are the ones who are going to work for the American people.”

That’s what this is all about.

Amen. And amen.

O Finally Weighs In: “The Values That Unite Us As Democrats”

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