Archive

November 5th, 2016

The revolt against political correctness has backfired

    It's true that Donald Trump's support has little to do with policies. It's not true, however, that those who support him have no rational or cogent reasons for their preference. They are misguided, in my view, but they aren't stupid, and we flatter ourselves by assuming their preference for Trump is evidence merely of economic forces they don't understand.

    If the Trump supporters I've met and know are a fair representation of their outlook, what binds them together is a deep hatred for political correctness. No groundbreaking analysis there: Trump has railed about political correctness many times, and of course he relishes expressing himself in ways that can reasonably be called politically incorrect. He may be a bigot and a scoundrel, the thinking seems to be, but the one thing he isn't is politically correct. I don't dismiss that view. PC culture has been the source of jokes and satire for 25 years or more, but it's no less real for that. Trump's supporters aren't wrong to hate it.

    But what is it, exactly?

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Republican Candidates, Admit It’s Hillary You’re Voting For

    Look, you need a rest. Let’s talk about the Senate races.

    If Hillary Clinton wins — and if she doesn’t, the Senate will be the least of our problems — Democrats need to pick up four seats to gain control. Otherwise, Clinton will have trouble getting anything through Congress, even her most basic appointees. She’ll be holding Cabinet meetings with people from the temp staffing agency.

    The single most interesting sidelight in the Senate fights is watching embattled swing state Republicans trying to avoid revealing who they support for president of the United States.

    We’re seeing some weird dances. Truly, the mating peacock spider has nothing on some Republicans who are trying to balance their need to appease the base with their deep-down understanding that Donald Trump would be a disaster for the country.

    “I don’t think my constituents care that much how one person is going to vote,” said Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania when he was asked the obvious question at a recent debate.

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Now James Comey's big mess is featured in a Donald Trump political ad

    Donald Trump has run what is easily the most dishonest presidential campaign of our lifetimes. The Washington Post fact-checking team's most up-to-date effort to track the lies told by Trump and Hillary Clinton documents that Trump has told nearly 60 of the most egregious of falsehoods -- vastly dwarfing the number from Clinton -- and on top of that, he's also indulged in over 20 more very serious episodes of dissembling.

    Yet in spite of this, Wednesday's Post tracking poll finds that Trump holds an edge of eight points over Clinton on the question of which candidate is viewed as the more honest and trustworthy one, with likely voters picking Trump by 46-38. Tellingly, this does not reflect an increase in perceptions of Trump's honesty, but rather, a drop in the percentage of those who see Clinton as the more honest one: In September, the two were tied on this question.

    And the poll (which finds the race dead even) also finds that this drop in perceptions of her honesty is driven primarily by a slide among independents and Democrats:

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I know what it's like when law enforcement intervenes in an election. It happened to me.

    Anyone who has ever been a candidate will tell you that politics is a rough-and-tumble business. Cheap shots, low blows and worse are to be expected. Good campaigns prepare responses and deflections. What campaigns do not prepare for, however, are precipitate broadsides from law enforcement.

    That's what happened to Hillary Clinton last week. The same thing happened to me, too.

    In March 2014, one week before the beginning of early voting in the District of Columbia's Democratic primary, then-U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen dropped a bombshell on my mayoral reelection campaign. He brought the kingpin of a political crime operation into court, announced that he'd struck a plea deal -- and at an ensuing news conference asserted, for all intents and purposes, that I was a co-conspirator and would soon be indicted.

    The media and my primary opponent pounced. The circuslike atmosphere that followed dominated every news cycle until the polls closed April 1. Muriel Bowser had beaten me for the nomination.

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Give more adolescents the right to vote

    I've been advocating a lower voting age for some time, but it always seemed a theoretical exercise. Residents of San Francisco on Tuesday have a chance to make it a reality if they support Proposition F, which would lower the voting age for local elections to 16.

    It has a good chance of passing: The only recent poll shows that a slim plurality favor the measure.

    San Francisco would be the third U.S. city to lower the voting age to 16, after two Maryland suburbs, Takoma Park and Hyattsville, took the plunge in 2013 and 2015, respectively. As the first large city to take this step, San Francisco would encourage others to consider following.

    It's even possible to imagine a full state going along, meaning that 16-year-olds could vote in national elections, too, since states are in charge of the electoral system. The 26th Amendment to the Constitution only says that the minimum voting age cannot be set higher than 18; governments are free to go lower than that.

    They should.

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Comey's colossal blunder

    Sometimes, the best of intentions lead to calamity. That is the case in FBI Director James Comey's unfortunate report to Congress that another trove of discovered emails might -- just might -- have some bearing on Hillary Clinton's use of her private server as secretary of state in the first Obama presidential term.

    In alerting not only the congressional investigative committees but also the American public only days before the 2016 presidential election, Comey has unleashed a political hornet's nest that could affect the outcome.

    His action has triggered outrage from Clinton and her campaign and reinforced rival Donald Trump's allegations of a rigged election process. It all happens without an iota of factual evidence that the new batch of emails are relevant to Clinton's tenure at the State Department or thereafter.

    At a minimum, Comey has sidestepped a longstanding Justice Department policy against commenting on any ongoing investigation. He has defended doing so on grounds he considered himself obliged to clarify the situation after having earlier ruled that the investigation was complete.

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Comey Should Admit His Error And Resign

    Sorry, but I've seen this movie before and I know how it ends. There will never be a criminal prosecution of Hillary Clinton for two basic reasons: First, she's a cautious, intelligent politician who doesn't take reckless chances. How many failed "investigations" before Republicans get that?

    Second, bogus charges against prominent individuals with first-rate attorneys endanger the prosecution more than the defense. You think the formerly eminent Kenneth Starr fled to Waco, Texas because he was insufficiently partisan? His ace prosecutors lost every Whitewater trial except the one where they convicted his own star witness, poor, sick Jim McDougal.

    But let's go back to the starting place, October 1992, because what happened then has a direct bearing on today's headlines.

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November 4th

James Comey is a good man, but he made a serious mistake

    I began my career in the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section 40 years ago, investigating cases of official corruption. In the years since, I have seen America's justice system firsthand from nearly every angle - as a prosecutor, judge, attorney in private practice, and attorney general of the United States. I understand the gravity of the work our Justice Department performs every day to defend the security of our nation, protect the American people, uphold the rule of law and be fair.

    That is why I am deeply concerned about FBI Director James B. Comey's decision to write a vague letter to Congress about emails potentially connected to a matter of public, and political, interest. That decision was incorrect. It violated long-standing Justice Department policies and tradition. And it ran counter to guidance that I put in place four years ago laying out the proper way to conduct investigations during an election season. That guidance, which reinforced established policy, is still in effect and applies to the entire Justice Department - including the FBI.

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Can U.S. democracy defend itself?

    Donald Trump's presidential candidacy has posed many challenges to U.S. media. In at least one frightening respect, it has failed: News outlets are actively abetting an authoritarian and imperialist foreign power's attempt to manipulate a U.S. presidential election to aid its favored candidate, Trump, and sanctioning an assault on the individual and civil liberties of all American citizens.

    There is consensus among U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies that the WikiLeaks "dump" of emails from the Democratic National Committee, former secretary of state Colin Powell and John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, is the result of illegal, targeted hacking directed by Russian intelligence services. The aim of WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange in publishing the emails is openly stated: to harm Clinton's candidacy. The slow daily release of Podesta's emails is obviously calculated to have continuing negative impact on news coverage of Clinton in the campaign's final weeks. The Russian government's aim in releasing the emails through WikiLeaks is also clear: to distance the emails' provenance from Russian intelligence services to give them greater legitimacy and propaganda value.

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A Historic Election for Women — and Not Just Because of Hillary

    This election may be revolutionary for women for an unexpected reason.

    First woman president? OK, there’s that.

    But I don’t think there’s anyone left who doubts that a capable woman has the same ability as a capable man to be president. You might not like a specific woman’s political leanings — I’m no fan of Sarah Palin, for example — but that’s different than simply opposing her for being a woman.

    No, this election is changing women’s role in America for a different reason. To put it plainly, Donald Trump’s outrageous statements about women — which veer regularly into open misogyny — have sparked a movement of women speaking up about things they normally keep to themselves.

    Like their sexual assaults. And their late-term abortions.

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