Why So Many Support the Untrustable Hillary

The most prominent figure in the civil rights movement looked into the cameras. It was a rare comment on a local election to a state legislature.

…the state legislature’s unconscionable refusal on Monday, to seat Representative Julian Bond.

– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, January, 1966

Julian Bond was in his mid twenties when he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives.

It was groundbreaking. New federal voting rights laws had brought in a new constituency. Black people in Georgia could finally vote. They voted for Bond. He and ten other African-Americans were elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. Nothing like it had happened since the end of post-Civil War Reconstruction in the 1870s.

One remnant remaining of that reconstruction period had been a loyalty oath. After the Civil War, during reconstruction, ex-confederates could hold office but they, and anyone else elected to state government, had to take an oath of loyalty to the United States.

Nearly a century later, in 1966, state law still required that all members take that oath. But young Mr. Bond had spoken out against the Vietnam war.

…there will never be decent treatment for minority peoples in this country until we begin to concentrate on freedom and justice and equality for those at home, and stop worrying about puppet dictatorships and despotic governments in Southeast Asia.

Julian Bond, 1967

The Georgia legislature decided that he was insincere in his statement of loyalty. They voted not to accept him as a member. He was expelled even before he could be sworn in.

The expulsion created a vacancy and a special election was held. Julian Bond won the election to replace himself. The legislature again refused to allow him to serve in office. After all, he was against the Vietnam war. He was not a loyal American.

He spoke on national television of two issues:

…certainly the right to free speech, the right to dissent, the right to voice an opinion that may be unpopular. But I think a second and equally important issue is the right of people, in this case my constituents, to be represented by someone they chose…

Julian Bond, Meet the Press, January 30, 1966

This went on until the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on his right to speak and run for office. The High Court told the Georgia legislature that Julian Bond was right and they were wrong. He took his place in the Georgia House of Representatives, then was re-elected three more times after that.

He ran for the Georgia Senate. His constituents had not forgotten how he had fought injustice and war. He was elected. Then elected again and again.

Conservative politicians in Georgia didn’t much like Senator Bond. They couldn’t expel him. The Supreme court had already made that clear. They couldn’t defeat him in a fair election.

So they decided to play dirty. They redrew his district him so he couldn’t get elected. He got elected anyway. They redrew his district again, and when that didn’t work, they redrew the district a third time. He still kept winning.

In all, he was elected 4 times to the Georgia House, not counting the those elections he won back when they refused to let him in. Then he was elected six times to the Georgia Senate.

Decades later, he spoke eloquently of what had inspired him to become involved in a life of public activism. It happened on a bridge. The nation watched people attacked by Alabama State Police as they tried to walk for voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. They were savagely beaten as they knelt to pray. 67 were injured, 17 of those were hospitalized. One was activist John Lewis. The televised beating became known as Bloody Sunday.

Crossing the river, looking down at the water, wondering what I’d do if there were a line of state troopers ahead. Would I behave with the same courage and dignity as did those people all those many many years ago?

Julian Bond, August 11, 2014

His political career in Georgia state government had made him nationally famous. Delegates wanted to put his name in for the Democratic nomination for Vice President in 1968. By that time, it would have been purely honorary. He was 28 years old, still too young to qualify, and he asked that his name be withdrawn. He became a center of pride for people in and around the district he represented in state government.

His election to the United States House of Representatives was a natural move. He ran in 1986.

He lost.

And his career as a politician was over forever.

That loss probably ended up enhancing his future contributions. He went on to other positions. He spoke out for other important issues. And he became even more prominent as a national figure campaigning for the rights of those whose rights were vulnerable.

He had lost that race for the most basic of reasons. His opponent was John Lewis.

Julian Bond had been inspired by what had happened on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

John Lewis had been on that bridge.
He had been beaten on that bridge.
He had had his head cracked open and had nearly died on that bridge.

Voters may have been impressed by Julian Bond’s hard work and activism for the rights of all. They were more impressed by the scars that John Lewis carried after putting himself in harm’s way, after nearly being killed.

I think of that Congressional election, the election that seemed at the time to dim the bright future of Julian Bond, as I consider the battle for the Democratic nomination for President in 2016.

Not all, but many, young voters support Senator Bernie Sanders. Not all, but most, older Democrats cast ballots for Hillary Clinton.

One dividing line is how Hillary Clinton herself is viewed. How worthy of our trust has she proven to be?

Senator Sanders has attacked her participation in a corrupt political system. But he has, with a few notable exceptions, refrained from attacking her honesty except by inference. The inference is occasionally strong.

The most direct assaults on Hillary Clinton have been by Republicans. And those attacks have not been confined to this election. They have spanned nearly three decades. It is understandable that those who hear the drumbeat of accusation and glimpse the fire of investigation may smell the smoke and suspect a deeper stench.

Some of those who have aged along with Hillary Clinton smell the same smoke and sense another Salem, one of witches and trials. It may be easier for Democrats of a prior generation to recall her early fights for healthcare, safety, and rights and to see the connection between those battles and those conservative attacks.

In an unguarded moment, one Republican official explained.

Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee, a Select Committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Cause she’s untrustable!

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, September 29, 2015

Representative Kevin McCarthy articulated an open secret. The investigation into Benghazi, like so many investigations into so many accusations, was not for the purpose of finding facts, but for the purpose of generating a lack of trust.

Any summary of a mass of voters will be simplistic. No single set of motivations will be universally sound. There will be other judgments, some well reasoned.

But I suspect a single pattern may be just under the surface of most of the tide that is turning toward Hillary Clinton.

Bernie Sanders is seen by those whose support he has earned as holding an understandable moral outrage. Politics and the economy have grown increasingly corrupt.

Hillary Clinton is seen by those whose support she enjoys as having been in the arena, fighting the good fight.

He articulates forthright positions that reflect a desire for a fair economy and a just political system.

She has fought for us over the years and she has been targeted.

He is supported because he carries the banner of truth into the great battles for equality.

She is supported because she carries deep and lasting scars from fighting those battles.

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Vote Invite, Anti-gay Invite, O’Reilly on Black Youth

Because Political Faith Demanded It

Some grade school lessons remain in place, long after memory has been overtaken by age. I do not recall which teacher taught or textbook contributed. But I remember the facts as I learned them.

The Roman Empire was built on water, war, and roads. Military innovations of tactics, organization, and technology subdued opposing populations, turning them from hostile adversaries to hostile subjects. Technology made roads possible. Military might made travel on them safe. Roads brought trade and a degree of prosperity, even to those who were subdued.

Water made this empire different from all that had come before. Giant aqueducts were the source, and the new idea of plumbing divided and subdivided the gushing flows into useful streams. Irrigation and cleanliness became a cultural signature. Barbarians were worse than uncivilized. They were dirty.

The water technology that produced that civilization finally helped to bring it down.

Lead was the primary byproduct in refining silver. You’d get a small bit of silver separated from a ton of lead. That’s a lot of dark metal. Finding where to put it had to be a major task.

Somewhere along the line, someone looked into the unique properties of lead. Lead was easy to soften in heat or even to melt. You didn’t need a blast furnace. A campfire would do. You could shape it into useful things.

Like pipes. For running water.

When I was a kid, parts of school were what you might call uninspired. Rote learning had little appeal to me. A classmate came up up with novel ways to get around having to memorize the spelling of common words. George-Eastman’s-Old-Grandmother-Rode-A-Pig-Home-Yesterday is about all I still remember of his technique. To me, it was less tedious simply to sound out how to spell “geography.” Still, entertainment in learning has value.

Science was a little better. But even there, memorization ruled. The periodic table was mostly rote. Most elements were easy. Hydrogen, Helium, Oxygen did not tax the memory or bore the synapses. Some atomic symbols were annoyingly unintuitive. I do remember gold making a transition from rote to reason as some wit bestowed upon Barry Goldwater his own molecular formula.


So gold, Au, began bumping up my score by a point on pop quizzes. Thank you, Senator.

Tin was easy. I had no idea how Sn made onto the table, but it was kind of onomatopoeic. Sn. Snip for tin.

Lead was obvious. Pb – you know – for plumbing.

And, somehow, somewhere, some teacher told me about Pb, about lead poisoning.

The aqueducts helped make Rome an empire. Pipes helped bring it down. Over time, lead made people weak, made people sick, made people die. Plumbing.

Perhaps it was the same voice or textbook that told me about cosmetics in and after the Middle Ages. Aristocratic use of white paint – white lead paint – helped inaugurate social change as those in the top economic strata slowly poisoned themselves and their families.

As Republicans like to say when confronted with science, I’m not a scientist. But, I dimly understand that one reason lead poisons is that the human body cannot tell the difference between it and other metals, metals that are needed. Minuscule amounts of calcium produce wonderful effects in the brain. Intelligence, self control, and overall mental health are somewhat dependent on calcium.

Lead is the great counterfeit. Brain cells glom onto lead as if it’s calcium, and calcium that is useful gets displaced by lead that is not.

I understand there is some scholarly resistance to the contribution of lead to the Roman decline and collapse. The case against lead as a culprit rests on research into what survives of Roman literature. It may have been widely known in ancient times that lead tended to make healthy people less healthy. Lead was used in plumbing, but clay was preferred where practical.

So the phenomenon of lead poisoning is not only well known, it has been well known for a long, long time.

The harm from even tiny amounts of lead is permanent. Children are the most vulnerable to that permanent damage.

That knowledge, knowledge that goes back to ancient times, the knowledge of the dangers of lead, adds a touch of tragic mystery to the poisoning of the children of Flint, Michigan.

As those of us with homes and bank accounts may especially recall, we were hit in the financial head with the frozen boot of a great recession that began the year before Barack Obama became President Obama. A lot of Michigan depends on the auto industry, the same auto industry that almost collapsed into a cosmic black hole. The city of Flint was hit especially hard, and was struggling to pull itself into recovery.

The new Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, had the answer. Just push out local officials and let a conservative former businessman take over. Rick Snyder knew just the man, which is to say himself. He got the legislature to pass a law giving him the authority, then put his own, competent, hard-nosed, conservative people in charge. They reported directly to him.

One of his cost cutting moves was to change the source of drinking water for Flint from the Great Lakes and the Detroit River to the cheaper Flint River. Water from the Flint River is corrosive and tends to eat away the lining of pipes. A lot of underground pipes in Flint had a base of lead surrounded by copper. The corrosion ate enough copper to leach lead into the bodies of unsuspecting men, women, children, and babies in Flint.

It was avoidable. Early corrosion control would have been inexpensive, but someone didn’t think to arrange it. Even if they had, levels of bacteria were toxic and inadequately treated. There were later outbreaks of Legionnaire’s Disease.

Okay, so mistakes, even tragic mistakes, happen. It’s part of life and death.

Documents show that officials soon realized that lives were in danger. And they did act quickly:

By putting out bogus reports and false assurances to the public. Don’t worry, they told anxious parents, the water is completely safe.

What the hell?

It is often hard to fathom what may be in the hearts of others. I suspect a very human, very corrupt, tendency was at work.

Those committed, heart and soul, to an ideology are tempted to embrace and defend that ideology no matter the facts, no matter the cost.

I suspect the Governor and his staff knew, right down to their socks, that their conservative revolution would work. All they needed to do was reassure a panicky public and wait for their policies to take hold.

Upton Sinclair once observed of human frailty, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

What is at stake for these folks is more, much more, than mere salaries. It is a way of looking at the world. It is a governmental philosophy that has gone deep into the soul. It is a political theology, quite impervious to reason, evidence, or the effect on the lives and families of the financially vulnerable.

On the shores of the Great Lakes, near the flow of the Detroit River, even the health and safety of little kids had to be discarded, a sacrifice on the altar of conservative faith.

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Trump, Hillary, Panama, Racism, NY Primary

WOW! Nancy Hanks is back in the internets.

Did you notice that Nancy Hanks is making an appearance?

Would You Believe…

“A drop of water on the forehead every minute for three hundred gallons. Three hundred gallons, Mr. Brown. Would you believe it?”

“That’s pretty hard to believe.”

“Would you believe a quart?”
“What if they came by once a day with a glass of water and an eyedropper?”

Lets be charitable and call it vintage humor. Not all beverages age to fine wine.

Half a century ago, the routine was funny enough to be a constant, repetitive, endless, everlasting part of the Get Smart television satire of Bond films.

I thought of Maxwell Smart a couple of weeks ago as I read new anonymous claims, sourced by the Washington Post to federal lawmakers, presumably Republicans, with access to classified information.

The FBI was devoting an astonishing level of resources to investigating Hillary Clinton and her email messages. The sole duty of nearly 150 federal agents was to find criminal wrongdoing in the activities of the former Secretary of State and the messages she sent and received.

The number of agents was greater than the number assigned to any investigation since World War II.

More than the Abscam investigation of decades ago that resulted in 7 high level convictions.

Move even than the massive effort of investigating every aspect of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.

Then the story shrank. Some exaggeration had been at work. The actual number was somewhat less than the originally reported 147.

How much less?
130? 120?

No. The Washington Post issued a correction. It was less than 50.
Oh, okay.

So perhaps 49? 40? 30?
Well, no, really. It was less than those guesses.

Other sources came forward. In fact it was less than a dozen.
How much less?
My bet is that “fewer than 12” will not turn out to be 11.

This is not an isolated case. Since Barack Obama was inaugurated, the pattern has become so entrenched it is now the Charlie Brown football of Republican opposition.

A couple of years ago, Republicans solemnly revealed that a smoking gun document had been discovered. The highest levels of the Obama administration had been involved in a massive cover up, and now there was ironclad proof.

It was all about Benghazi.

It is disturbing and perhaps criminal that these documents, that documents like these were hidden by the Obama administration from Congress and the public, alike.

Darrell Issa (R-CA), May 1, 2014

To say that this wasn’t trying to shape the Benghazi story is inconsistent with the document itself, flies in the face of the facts, and yet another insulting, misleading lie.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), May 1, 2014

To me, it’s the equivalent of what was discovered with the Nixon Tapes.

Charles Krauthammer, Fox News, May 1, 2014

It turned out that the smoking gun document that proved a cover up reaching into the Oval Office was simply a memo by a speechwriter. It offered a list of proposed answers to possible attacks by Republicans, if they decided to take partisan advantage of the Benghazi tragedy.

So. The widely reported document, as leaked by Republicans, turned out to be partisan fiction. There was no there there.

Before that came documents, partially released by lawmakers, showing the IRS had been directed by the Obama White House to target conservatives for audits.

The lawmakers who partially released the documents turned out to be Republicans.

The documents, when they were entirely released, turned out to indicate that both conservative and liberal groups had been targeted, but only if they engaged in political activities while filing legal statements claiming that they were not so engaged.

Republican members of Congress had known this, even as they sliced and diced what they leaked to the press. The FBI later reported that no evidence could be found of the targeting of political enemies.

So why do mainstream news organizations continue to fall into the same trap?

Partly it is the evolution of a journalistic ethic that favors balance over verification. He accuses, she denies, we won’t verify, you decide. It is an ethic that once was the unique province of inexpensive tabloids that were found on supermarket shelves.

But as retractions mount, we can hope a new work ethic will also evolve. Journalistic acceptance of whispered accusation might become skeptical documentation, perhaps accompanied prominently by a history of previous untruths.

At very least, news organizations might even exhibit the same level of wisdom shown over 50 years ago by comedic spy villains.

147 FBI Agents.
“Would you believe it? A hundred cops with Doberman Pinschers.”

Okay, then. Almost 50 agents.
Would you believe ten security guards and a bloodhound?

Alright. Under 12 Agents.
How about a Boy Scout with rabies?

Wouldn’t it be a blast from the past, from the days of Cronkite and Murrow, if reporters would respond, maybe even in their reporting:

I find that hard to believe.
That’s pretty hard to believe.
I don’t think so.

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Cuba, News Bias, Conspiracy, Missing Molly, Superheroes

  • Libertarian Michael A. LaFerrara at Principled Perspectives endorses a Democrat’s self-described rebuke of President Obama. Senator Robert Menendez (NJ) objects to the blame that our President puts on the United States for Cuba’s suppression of political freedom. LaFerrara cheerleads the rebuke.
    Age takes its toll. Saddened by my own mental lapse, failing to recall “blame America” rhetoric on the part of President Obama, I tried to refresh my aging, mushy, liberal memory.
    Michael is a great help, thank you Mr. LaFerrara. He links to the good Senator who, in turn, links to a National Review article by Elliott Abrams. In that piece, Mr. Abrams conducts research by consulting his own reasoning powers. He cannot imagine any reason for a relationship with Cuba other than a “‘blame America first’ view.”
    So it turns out that Michael LaFerrara joins Senator Robert Menendez who joins Elliott Abrams in rebuking President Obama for Mr. Abrams’ lack of imagination.
  • At Crooks and Liars, Frances Langum seems to have developed a bit of skepticism about the liberal views of MSNBC.
  • It isn’t just Ted Cruz. Other anti-immigrant conservatives also quote the FBI saying that Syrian refugees can’t be vetted. Tommy Christopher, at the Daily Banter, takes a closer look and wonders why media interviewers don’t do the same.
  • Jack Jodell at The Saturday Afternoon Post holds irresponsible media coverage of fake debates at least partially responsible for a Republican campaign that has become an international embarrassment.
  • Jerry Wolfe at Dog Bless Us One And All has tracked down the real motivation behind the obtuse anti-abortion outburst from Donald Trump that has ticked off pro-lifers. It seems it is a planned distraction from the Hillary plot to steal the Democratic nomination from Bernie. Yeah, that’s what he says.
  • The Big Empty has another new conspiracy theory about Republican implosion this one more plausible than most.
  • Yellow Dog at Blue in the Bluegrass articulates how and why we miss Molly Ivins.
  • NOJO at Stinque explains how Netflex and Marvel comics have joined to satisfy our basest violent impulses and our deepest moral ponderings. That was once a job for Superman.