Archive

November 4th, 2016

This election has made Americans angry and sick. Here's how we can recover.

    Are you a political junkie who has grown tired of the news? Flip over to Fox -- no, not Fox News -- and you might catch the network's reboot of the iconic "Exorcist" book and film franchise. The story, a tale of faith-rattling possession and exorcism, has continued to capture the imaginations of new audiences since the 1971 publication of the original novel and subsequent release of the first film version in 1973.

    At the heart of "The Exorcist's" narrative is the tension between facing evil in the world head-on and the risk of falling into despair. "Yet I think the demon's target is not the possessed; it is us . . . the observers . . . every person in this house," author William Peter Blatty wrote in the 1971 novel, "And I think -- I think the point is to make us despair; to reject our own humanity . . . to see ourselves as ultimately bestial; as ultimately vile and putrescent; without dignity; ugly; unworthy."

    The relentless onslaught of ugliness gripping our American politics does not feel too far afield from the description of possession and the faith-rattling, soul-shaking effects described by Blatty.

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Race, not class, dictates Republican future

    The class compositions of the Republican and Democratic parties keep evolving. Democrats have been shedding working-class white voters for decades, while the GOP, long the party of management, entrepreneurs and inherited wealth, has acquired a new affinity for blue-collar blues, including a presidential nominee who promises to keep economically unviable coal operations in business while crushing labor competition from low-skills immigrants.

    A Pew Research Center report last month detailed the shift.

    Since 1992, the share of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters with at least a college degree has increased sharply, from 21 percent to 37 percent. Among Republicans, 31 percent have at least a college degree, up only slightly from 28 percent in 1992. As a consequence, a greater proportion of Democrats than Republicans now have a college degree or more education.

    In the New York Times last week, political sage Thomas Edsall called this process the "Great Democratic Inversion."

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I was born before women could vote. Now I'm voting for one for president.

    I was born on June 2, 1918, in New York City. Woodrow Wilson was president, the United States was fighting World War I, and women could not vote in this country.

    It would be another two years before women could vote in U.S. elections. But when they could, my mother registered and took me to the polls to watch her cast her ballot.

    I cast my first vote in 1940 for Franklin D. Roosevelt, and I have voted in every primary and presidential election since. (Contrary to the notion that women of my generation followed their husbands' lead and voted as the men did, I always voted the way I wanted, and so did the women I knew.)

    I've also never regretted one of my votes. The vote I was most proud of was for Hillary in the 2008 Democratic primary. She didn't make it, but I was very proud to vote for her. And this year, I got to vote for her again: I cast an early ballot for Hillary Clinton for president.

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Hillary’s Male Tormentors

    Weiner or no Weiner, Hillary Clinton is likely to be our next president.

    But she can’t seem to escape insatiable men.

    She married one — for better, for “bimbo eruptions,” for two terms in the White House, for impeachment.

    She’s in the climactic week of a grotesque battle with another. If she prevails, his boasts of sexual aggression will partly be why.

    And if she fails? Again there’s a priapic protagonist. The FBI wouldn’t be examining Anthony Weiner’s laptop if he hadn’t invited so many strangers to examine his lap, and her fate is enmeshed once more with the wanton misdeeds of the weaker sex.

    Over so many of her travails hangs a cloud of testosterone.

    No woman before her earned a major party’s presidential nomination, drawing this close to the Oval Office. Should she reach that milestone and make that history, she’d probably also work with a Congress in which there are more female lawmakers than ever before.

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The costs of Comey's appeasement

    The evidence suggests that FBI Director James Comey is a decent man. The evidence also suggests that he has been intimidated by pressure from Republicans in Congress whose interest is not in justice but in destroying Hillary Clinton.

    On Friday, a whipsawed Comey gave in. Breaking with FBI precedent and Justice Department practice, he weighed in on one side of a presidential campaign.

     I don't believe this was his intention. But his vaguely worded letter to Congress announcing that the FBI was examining emails on a computer used by Clinton aide Huma Abedin accomplished the central goals of the right-wing critics Comey has been trying to get off his back.

    Especially disturbing is that some of those critics are inside the FBI. As The Washington Post's Sari Horwitz reported on Saturday, "a largely conservative investigative corps" in the bureau was "complaining privately that Comey should have tried harder to make a case" against Clinton.

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Don't ignore the danger signs presented by Donald Trump's militant supporters

    "Lighting a fuse for rebellion on the right: Loose alliances of protesters join under tea party umbrella," front page article in The New York Times on Feb. 16, 2010.

    "Trump backers see revolution if Clinton wins: Dark fears and talk of a stolen election," front page article in The New York Times on Oct. 28, 2016.

 

 

    What those two stories have in common is that they are historical bookends. The former sounded an alarm. The latter is the result of an alarm ignored. We cannot afford to make that mistake again with a threat to democracy like Donald Trump on the ballot.

    The 2010 Times story was about how the legitimate concerns of folks feeling "taxed enough already" and suffering severe economic hardship in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse were being co-opted by the likes of birthers and other conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones. One passage of note highlighted the concern of Tony Stewart, a civil rights activist in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, whose work helped bankrupt the Aryan Nations through a 2000 lawsuit:

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Despite emails, Republicans still think Donald Trump will lose. Here's why.

    FBI agents have now obtained a warrant to examine the new emails found on Anthony Weiner's laptop, and it now appears possible that the FBI will share more information about the new significance of those emails -- or lack thereof -- before Election Day. Maddeningly, we don't even know whether that will happen -- sources are now hinting they may tell us more soon, but it's not definitive -- adding layer upon layer of uncertainty in the final stretch.

    But either way, some senior GOP strategists appear convinced that the new revelations -- if that's even the right word for the news -- won't shift the fundamentals of the race in a dramatic enough way to enable Donald Trump to win. With polls showing the race tightening, probably because disaffected Republican voters are coming back to Trump, Politico has a rundown on what these GOP strategists think this tightening really means and what comes next:

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Comey's mistaken quest for transparency

    As an experienced prosecutor, FBI Director James Comey knows that the government's power to bring criminals to justice is as narrow as it is awesome. It can initiate proceedings that will put people in jail for decades, but only when it is ready and able to present evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt sufficient to persuade a jury of one's peers. Short of that, its job is to announce that no charges will be filed, and shut up. It is not the schoolmarm in chief, empowered to criticize the citizenry for perceived but uncharged digressions that fall short of chargeable crimes.

    So how in July did he become a public commentator on the moral failings of Hillary Clinton's email practices, even as he maintained without quaver that no prosecutable case could be brought? And why on Friday, in the heat of the election contest, did he decide to share with the entire country - as he must have known would happen the minute it arrived on the Hill - the totally obscure message that material "pertinent to the investigation" had been located and would be reviewed? Indeed, what gave him the conviction to so proceed, even over the reported objections of his bosses, the attorney general and the deputy attorney general?

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Comey caves to a lynch-mob mentality

    Donald Trump so far is just a presidential candidate. Yet along with his baying partisan hounds in Congress and his angry throngs of devoted followers, he has successfully bullied and intimidated the head of the FBI into discrediting himself and his institution and doing untold damage to the American political system. In case you wondered what life might be like under a Trump presidency, consider this a preview.

    FBI Director James B. Comey is by all accounts a man of integrity and principle, including the principle of nonpartisanship. He made a determination in July, following a lengthy investigation, that Hillary Clinton should not be prosecuted. No one had reason to believe that Comey, a Republican who has served in administrations of both parties, made his decision for partisan reasons. As he said, it was "not even close." Yet at the time of his decision, he did something extraordinary and contrary to normal prosecutorial standards: He explained his decision; he talked about the investigation; he even expressed his opinion of Clinton's behavior.

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November 3rd

When you 'Vote for Nobody,' you vote for somebody

    If you ever have the “America blahs” and want to shake out of them, teach a citizenship class.

    I have. I’ve looked into eyes that came here from Iran, from Mexico, from Saudi Arabia, from China, from Sudan. The eyes have it.

    They can’t wait to be Americans. Particularly, they can’t wait to vote.

    Oh, and they understand exactly what voting entails: making a choice. Sometimes you hold your nose, but you choose.

    I would have liked to have seen the faces of those citizens-to-be when they read in these pages about a “Vote for Nobody” campaign among collegians.

    I saw it in USA Today, one of the proponents proudly wearing a “Vote for Nobody 2016” T-shirt. Precious.

    I realize this is mostly a laugh. I don’t assume that these students will flat-line when it comes to a right for which their forebears – wave after wave of them, young, vital Americans of college age -- fought and died.

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