Friday, April 08, 2016


My state's primary is in a week and a half, and I'm having serious thoughts about blowing off both remaining Democratic candidates and writing in ... Elizabeth Warren? Barack Obama for a third term? That doctor in Flint who wouldn't stop talking about lead in the water?

The ballot will say I can vote for an idealist whose policies are closer to mine than his opponent's, but who had a plan only to wound the front-runner, not to defeat her -- he's certainly doing an excellent job of wounding her now -- and who has no path to victory now, much less in a general election in which a billion dollars of mud would be flung at him and he'd pride himself on being purely, artisanally underfunded relative to the super PACs arrayed against him.

Or I can vote for a woman whose principal surrogate is this idiot:
In a prolonged exchange Thursday afternoon, former President Bill Clinton forcefully defended his 1994 crime bill to Black Lives Matter protesters in the crowd at a Hillary Clinton campaign event.

He said the bill lowered the country's crime rate, which benefited African-Americans, achieved bipartisan support, and diversified the police force. He then addressed a protester's sign, saying:

"I don't know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out onto the street to murder other African-American children," Clinton said, addressing a protester who appeared to interrupt him repeatedly. "Maybe you thought they were good citizens .... You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter. Tell the truth. You are defending the people who cause young people to go out and take guns."
You can read defenses of what happened a generation ago, often from progressives of color -- read Propane Jane's tweetstorm on the subject at Storify, or this Slate interview with Michael Javen Fortner, a scholar who notes that there was considerable support for the crime bill in black neighborhoods, as well as among influential members of the black clergy who wrote a letter urging the Congressional Black Caucus to support the bill. And it's true that mass incarceration was already well under way in America when the crime bill was passed, largely because of get-tough-on-crime policies at the state level.

And of course, crime really was far worse at the time than it is now.

Defenders of the Clintons say there was a clamor for crime legislation among both whites and blacks, and that Clinton got a bill that was less awful than Republicans wanted it to be:

But that doesn't take away from what happened:
 Bill Clinton presided over the largest increase in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history.... He supported the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity for crack versus powder cocaine, which produced staggering racial injustice in sentencing and boosted funding for drug-law enforcement.

Clinton championed the idea of a federal “three strikes” law in his 1994 State of the Union address and, months later, signed a $30 billion crime bill that created dozens of new federal capital crimes, mandated life sentences for some three-time offenders, and authorized more than $16 billion for state prison grants and the expansion of police forces. The legislation was hailed by mainstream-media outlets as a victory for the Democrats, who “were able to wrest the crime issue from the Republicans and make it their own.”

When Clinton left office in 2001, the United States had the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Human Rights Watch reported that in seven states, African Americans constituted 80 to 90 percent of all drug offenders sent to prison, even though they were no more likely than whites to use or sell illegal drugs. Prison admissions for drug offenses reached a level in 2000 for African Americans more than 26 times the level in 1983. All of the presidents since 1980 have contributed to mass incarceration, but as Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson recently observed, “President Clinton’s tenure was the worst.”
The Clintons have distanced themselves from aspects of the bill, but clearly that was done reluctantly, at least on Bill's part. How do you go into a presidential campaign in 2016 -- a campaign in which you won't win unless there's significant black turnout in the general election -- and not examine the legacy of this bill with an eye toward addressing its consequences in a way that will make sense to your own voter base? The flaws in the bill are a huge moral issue -- but then, beyond that, failing to reckon with them fully on the verge of 2016 is political malpractice.


Slate's Michelle Goldberg thinks Bill Clinton is a significant problem:
... it’s not the first mess he’s caused for his wife’s campaign. Just a couple of weeks ago, he decried “the awful legacy of the last eight years,” which sounded a lot like a condemnation of the Obama presidency -- a presidency that Hillary Clinton is doing her best to tie herself to. And in February, Clinton said that if the system is rigged, it’s because Americans “don’t have a president that’s a changemaker.”

One might attribute this repeated clumsiness to the fact that Bill Clinton is getting old.... But let’s remember that Clinton caused similar problems for Hillary in 2008. There was the time he tried to diminish Obama’s victory in South Carolina by noting that Jesse Jackson won there as well. The time he described the idea that Obama had gotten the Iraq war right as “the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.” The time -- it hurts to remember it -- when he complained that the Obama campaign “played the race card on me.”
So Bill lost it a long time ago? Maybe not:
And yet ... once Hillary had lost and Bill Clinton was supporting Obama, the sloppiness ceased and he was back to performing superbly. (Witness, for example, his celebrated speech at the 2008 Democratic convention.) It is somehow only when he is working on his wife’s behalf that he veers into sabotage.
Well, maybe that's true -- although I did find this in September 2008:
Via Ben Smith, Bill Clinton tells CNN's Larry King in an interview about his plans to help Obama win Florida:
"You know, they think that because of who I am and where my politic[al] base has traditionally been, they may want me to go sort of hustle up what Lawton Chiles used to call the 'cracker vote' there."

That interview took place several weeks after the convention; Clinton was explaining to King why he hadn't been campaigning much for Obama. (He said he was waiting until the Jewish holidays were over.) He didn't make a joint appearance with Obama until five days before the election.

So he was less embarrassing to Obama because he was simply less of a surrogate for Obama than for his wife -- and he could be a loose cannon for Obama as well. But yes, he was more controlled on behalf of Obama -- however, maybe that's because Obama runs a tighter campaign ship and worked out ground rules with Clinton more thoroughly. It just might be harder to do that within a marriage.

But maybe Goldberg is right about the Clintons: "Either he doesn’t want her to overtake him, or he doesn’t want her to repudiate him." On the other hand, he seems to be trying to make a case for himself, as a great president and as a political sage. He doesn't think these pronouncements make him look bad; I suspect he thinks they don't look bad for his wife.

In any case, we're going into the general election with a weak, flawed, ideologically compromised nominee who can't even instill discipline in her top surrogate. And the Republicans are going into the the general election with, alomst certainly, a grotesquely awful nominee -- Cruz if not Trump. Can we please start over, with all new candidates?


Ed Crotty said...

It's really not fair to paint Bill Clinton as the "champion" of these crime bills. Even though the Dems had a majority, there will still a lot of "southern" Democrats who were not liberal AT ALL. The Media whipped up the public with "If it bleeds, it leads".

This bill passed the Senate 95-4 and the house on a voice vote. It clearly would have overrode a veto. Bill Clinton had no choice.

After this in the 1994 election - BOTH houses of Congress went to the Republicans as the Southern Democrats were replaced by real Republicans - as clainton was pounded by talk radio and liberals stayed home for the midterms ( sound familiar? ) .

We have a "representative" government - blaming the President for every bill that passes is very unfair. Blame the electorate. I do make an exception for the Bush scheme to lie us into war in Iraq. Bill Clinton clearly did not fabricate crime records to get this bill passed.

AllieG said...

Last time I checked (could have changed), Bill Clinton's approval ratings were very high among the general public as opposed to the commentariat. Also, there has never been such a thing as a NON-ideologically compromised Democratic candidate or President for that matter. Even Sanders (guns) wouldn't fit that bill.

Victor said...

Oh, I wish we could start over.
But, the Democratic Party decided on Hillary a while back. And now, here she is, doing her best not to win an election, but not to lose it.
In almost every sport, when you have a lead and play like you don't want to lose it, you increase the likelihood of losing not just the lead, but the game.

As for the crime bill, it was passed post peak-crack. I lived in NYC and then Philly in the peak crack years, and believe me, it affected not just poor minority areas, but the whole city!
People were frightened, and if politicians of both parties ignored it, they were doing so at their own peril.

I was a recreational coke user - as a bartender in NYC, it was practically unavoidable. But I never got hooked, because I never had the money to get enough often enough, to get addicted.
I tried crack once - when it first came out - and the high was incredible! And I knew it was TOO good! So, I never did it again.

I can understand why people got hooked.
And when you got hooked on that shit, you did almost anything to get more - like with heroin.
But heroin mellowed you out. Crack amped you up.
Heroin addicts stole to get more, but the rarely killed while trying to get it. Heroin dealers and gang members killed one another, but not the junkies. They were too lethargic while high, and too strung-out when wanting more. Strung-out, but rarely violent, sin e they were too sick and weak.

Crack was a different story. Violence went beyond the dealers/gangs. The addicts could be violent.

So, in retrospect, as liberal as I am, I didn't think at the time that the law should not have been passed.
I was a teenager when the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws went into effect, and I thought the punishments were excessice.
I thought the same thing about the punishments in the Clinton ton crime bill. It was obvious that the ratio of punishments in coke v. crack were racist.
Since crack gave you more bang for your buck, poor people used crack. Often, those were minorities.
Coke was the yuppies drug of choice, so there was lessentially punishment.

This is long enough, so I'll end it by saying Hillary needs to muzzle Bill more often. He likes to talk, but sometimes it's not of any benefit, but harmful. And other times, he's great:
"The Explainer in Chief."
She needs THAT guy, not the other one!

Unknown said...

Let's not forget Hillary's own opportunistic pandering to the law-and-order centrists with her talk of "superpredators". (Which, if you're honest, you'll admit that, had that remark come from someone with an R after their name, you'd instantly recognize as a dogwhistle for "superniggers".)

Feud Turgidson said...

I feel some home in all written above from Steve M thru Victor, but MY recall was that Crime Omnibus bill was given over to the leading anti-crime Dem in the Senate to push thru so Bill Clinton could have at least some deniability with the black community because the Senate then, in contrast with now, was in one of those Period of Good Feelings massed-colloquy states of mind, like all of the federal had back in Tippecanoe and Tyler Too after getting our assess part shot off in the War of 1812 and pissing off most of our allies, when it was generally agreed it'd be best for a while to put away griping about who owned people and who tortured and who in government essentially ran their political organizations in way indistinguishable form criminal organizations, and allow our inner rapacious land-mass re-conquistadore some room to sound off and act like a pirate. It ended up being called the Era of Good Feelings because everyone in power was generally tolerant of the idea of turning the country into a Charles Dickens horror novel, everyone in power got as corrupted as a sword up a cripple's crutch and richer than any "free [white Scots-Irish descended] men" ever imagined for themselves.

So who do I recall as the spirit leader of this Second Era of Good Feelings, the nation's powerful striking out hard united in favor of strongly cementing in their own wealth? Why, the 1990s 'Least Rich [so] Most Honest Pol in D.C." - our current veep, joebiden. joebiden was the front man for that bill because no one else could survive that role, it was so palpably stinky.

But its stench got not just tolerated but applauded, and a lot of folks went on to do many horrible nasty things to other folks and made themselves a hell of a lot money off exploiting the poor, during our nation's Second Era of Good Feelings.

Ten Bears said...

I and my family, my hometown and the all of Cascadia have experienced first hand what a Clinton in the White House can do. The first thing Mr I Didn’t Inhale did after Ross Perot and Donald T Rump split the Retard vote and tossed him the keys was shut down the Pacific Northwest timber industry. Put an end to the comfortable middle-class way of life my family enjoyed here for five generations, for over a hundred years. That cast I and my family, my community, my hometown and the whole damned state into a degree of abject poverty we have yet to recover from.

Coming to a community near you soon.

Frank Wilhoit said...

Can we please start over, with all new voters?

Steve M. said...

Can we please start over, with all new voters?


Gerald Parks said...

and who has no path to victory now, much less in a general election in which a billion dollars of mud would be flung at him and he'd pride himself on being purely, artisanally underfunded relative to the super PACs arrayed against him.

THIS is my complaint about Senator Sanders ...he won't have enough money to win!

Great you don't have a supper PAC what do you have to compete against them????

It takes MONEY to win the Presidency and down ticket races AND voter registration and get out the vote drives and to offset voter suppression laws nationwide!

THIS is a "all hands on deck" moment!!!!

AND Bill ...STFU! If you don't have something ...nice/positive to say ...say nothing!

There is no defense of the indefensible!

The millions of lives negatively impacted by mass incarceration will take several generations to right. And if the past is any indication of the future ...THIS Nation will not do a damned thing about it. We still haven't addressed Slavery nor Jim Crow AND we all agree that African-Americans were wronged!

Victor said...

I'd have LOVED a ticket of Elizabeth Warren/Sherrod Brown!

jsrtheta said...

Bill Clinton's latest screwup is certainly not helping matters, though I doubt it's fatal in any way. But I do get weary of the self-righteousness of those who either weren't adults in 1994, or have otherwise come down with amnesia conveniens.

I was a prosecutor in Cook County (Chicago) up until 1993, when I took a prosecutor job in Colorado. (Breckenridge - what, you'd have turned it down?) But for those who seem to have forgotten, in those days Chicago was averaging about 1,000 murders a year. New York was hovering around 2,000. And everyone thought of this as regrettable but normal. Now, despite its somewhat unfair reputation, Chicago suffers nowhere near that many murders per year, and neither does New York get close to its previous high. Crime was a huge problem nationally in the late '80s and early '90s, and no relief seemed in sight. "20-20 hindsight" is a cliche, but it's a cliche because it's true. And believe me, black leaders were leading the charge for new crime measures because it was their communities that suffered the bulk of the body count. And while it would be a gross oversimplification to say the crime bill was the whole cause, crime did drop after its passage. Correlation obviously isn't causation, but, in this case, it is unlikely to be a mere coincidence, either.

So I suggest everyone go back to piling on Thomas Jefferson for keeping slaves, because that's about as useful an exercise as this is.

Feud Turgidson said...

V, the problem with preznit e Warren and veep al the future is franken is "too lib" for most (not for ME, but I'm pretty sliver extremo-prog). Patty M and Big Gay-Tolerant Al would work somewhat more centrist Or all Minnesota? Works for me, but not for Minn Dems or Senate Dmss or Dem Dems.

But what's mising? e warran. big al. west coast patty. klobachar. You have to RUN to get judged in this beauty contest.

Also, I agree with Jeff Ryan. That was then, and there was no getting away with it. Without joebiden's bill, not sure we even get Bill Clinton Term 2.

Unknown said...

There never was damn thing wrong with WJC noting to his wife that SC Democratic voters went for Jesse Jackson in 1988. The actual racists are those who try to claim someone's simply mentioning obvious voting realities is "racist". The fact that Obama's people did that is one of the reasons Obama has recently expressed some regrets to HRC about that 2008 campaign.

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

One thing about Bill, and I still have a soft spot for the guy, is his apparent tone-deafness (or just don't care) towards the youngs. A full 83% of the Wisconson kiddos who voted in the Dem caucus this week took a pass on Hillary in favor of a future they can believe in. Does he wonder at all why?
Maybe he could stop Big Dog-splaining at them if he really wants to get them on his side?
Dismissing their passion as irrational and naive cause they weren't there and don't know how things have always worked, then figuring they'll come around eventually cause their only choice is Hillary or much worse is a good way to get a lot of youngs to shrug and not bother.

Ken_L said...

The total failure of anyone in the Democratic Party, from Obama down, to take Succession Planning 101 at the Wharton Business School, is a damning indictment of their competence.

About the first thing I learned when I began to stand for elected office - in my local community sports club, about 100 years ago - was that an outgoing committee's first responsibility is to ensure a competent bunch of replacements is ready to be offered to the voters come annual general meeting time. It's a lesson the current DNC never seems to have mastered.


In reference to the circus that is going on in our Country’s presidential election at this time, especially in reference to Donald Trump, someone recently stated that in years from now people will look back at this time and say, what did you do to correct the situation?
Well, Uncle Fuzzer sat down and put his mind to it! And he has decided to write an open letter to Donald Trump as to why he thinks that he is not fit to be the President of this United States, the highest office in our Country! And to be certain that Donald Trump gets a chance to see it, he has videotaped it and put it up on YouTube. He also laid out some of the basic reasons why any American worker would be foolish to vote for any Republican for that office, or any other for that matter! He not only created a video, but he created an entire website to go along with it intending for people to be able to go to the website to see the video. However as it turned out, it looks as though too many people wanted to see the video and it crashed the website. Although the website is still up and running, as of this writing you would have to go to YouTube to see the video. The copy for the video can, however, be seen on the platform page of the Website at:é.
Be sure to forward this to as many people as you can, so that in future years, should you be asked what did you do to correct the situation, you can reply, “I forwarded Uncle Fuzzer’s Manifesto to everyone I know”!
See for yourself!
You may have to copy and paste to your url.
(be sure to watch the whole video)


God Bless America