Tuesday, November 21, 2017

My "connection" to Bill Clinton

Looking back over the years at all the incidents, allegations and suspicions that ended up surrounding
Bill Clinton, I have to confess that, I never had a connection to him, and always felt an...uneasiness about him. I also felt an uneasiness about the southern wing of the Democratic Party.

In 1988, I had worked for the Dukakis campaign --during the summer of that year. I made a few phone calls at his downtown campaign office. Previous to that, I had worked in the Public Policy Panel as a volunteer, helping organize some brochures. I had met Brownie Ledbetter there, and was happy to work for a progressive for whom I had learned, through media exposure, to have respect. Her husband was a highly regarded Professor at the University of Arkansas.

 I was, at that time, engaged in the early stages of my still incomplete (perhaps of necessity) book "The Great Old Record of the Grand Old Party---Cheating?". One of my goals in that research had been to expose how badly and how often the GOP had cheated since its inception.

The first detailed thing  I'd tried to focus on and track down, which became a focus of my first book Tim, George Bush and Me: the Undercurrents In All Our Lives. (copyrighted June 1996) had been the Bush and Allen Dulles connections during WW2. I had been inspired by my late brother Tim's death, to write about him and my life with him, while my ongoing research into the larger issue of GOP election chicanery had inspired me to include my research about the Bush family before and during WW2. An unusual radio ad for a book I had heard in Houston in the summer of 1980, had first piqued my interest in GHW Bush and put me on the trail of GOP antics in the 1944 election.

 My work for Dukakis that summer was, in fact, the first--and, thus far, the only--time I ever worked for a Presidential candidate or campaign. Lynn had also been for him.  I had met her in October 1987 at the Unitarian Church here in LR. She is Jewish, a member of Temple B'nai Israel here. Unitarians are often a way for people to meet across denominational and religious lines.

I had fallen in love with Lynn during that previous year, and Dukakis's Jewish wife was a favorite issue of mine for my own fantasy--somewhere in the back of my head--of my own possible future with Lynn. I had hoped to marry her, but never has money--or insurance--actually worked out for tha to happen. (People don't realize how insurance can impact on romance).

Even as I was researching earlier possible GOP Presidential election scandals, when I decided to work for awhile for Dukakis and keep up with his campaign, I was appalled to once again have seen another example of dirty tricks by the GOP. Dukakis was slammed by near-constant tv ads by the big corporate funded GHW Bush campaign.  At that time, the Democrats were still holding the line on being funded by big corporations, since the CEOs of those tended to hold views which were antithetical to America's working and middle class.

After his defeat, by that mass advertising built on lies and exaggeration, I realized, as had other Democrats, that a different strategy might be needed. More regions of the nation seemed to have needed attention, was one spin. Carter had won in 1976, (though he had failed of re-election).

However, I was not impressed with the Southern wing, at least, of the Democratic Party. My own father, though I loved him and have since written about him, as well, in my second copyrighted book The Diplomats, Dad and Me: The Blurring of the Lines in Life (copyright Jan 2011), had been a southern Democrat in the classic conservative tradition.

But his views, summed up too often in George Wallace's public--though some claim not private--views on race, were disgusting to me, and we had some pretty tough words at times. Dad had, however, been one of the first JFK conspiracy theorists--and Vietnam war critics--that I was to know. During JFK's funeral, shortly after the Jack Ruby shooting of Oswald, my dad pointed on LBJ when he came on-screen and said "that's the bastard that killed John F. Kennedy". And dad never had a good word to say about him after that.

As LB J continued to escalate the war, Dad continued to be a skeptic and critic of his policies. Though my high school teachers were saying the Johnson Administration believed it was on the "path to success" and the "path to peace" in Vietnam, those next years became more tumultuous, as Johnson wavered between support for Civil Rights at home, and drafting young blacks from impoverished backgrounds to serve on the front lines.

But Dad fell for Wallace's side of the argument, and when 1967 rolled around and the inevitable confrontation between LBJ and RFK began to crop up, the skeptics about the war found a voice and the Democratic Party began to split along the northern-southern lines we have seen almost continuously today.

During those years, while I lived here in AR, I'd never heard much about BILL Clinton. But, just once, in a totally non-political setting, I met Hillary Rodham. She was in our small family furniture and crafts business. It was in 1970 or '71. I was standing at the counter, asked if I could help her locate anything, and she was "just browsing". I had just received my high school ring, and was wearing it pretty religiously. As she moved back to the door, she pointed to my ring and said "That's really beautiful." A young man came in and I don't believe I ever saw his face, but he seemed to say they needed to travel on. It could be it was Bill Clinton.

Since the election, that moment in time has often come up in my mind. Over subsequent years, from 1976-83, I lived in Houston. I would visit up here occasionally, but the only news I usually got was the little on Little Rock tv.

However, by 1984, I had heard a few allegations and attacks on Clinton. Hillary was then the First Lady of Arkansas, and I recognized her face from mom and dad's store. She seemed popular in her own right, and years later, in 1988 while working at the Public Policy Panel, I learned she was popular with our local feminist leaders such as Brownie Ledbetter.

When Dukakis made his run, I was determined to help him win. I had not worked in the Mondale campaign, though I had voted for him. I was an early feminist, having supported the ERA in published letters to Newsweek, Arkansas Gazette and Arkansas Democrat. During Vietnam, I had been part of Women for A Peaceful Christmas in Madison, Wisconsin, and my mom and sisters vociferously joined their effort to weaken corporate influence in America through making the craft items that group sent out directions for.

Johnson let go of the effort at re-election in the face of dropping poll numbers in key states in the primaries. In my own life, dad was there, in the background, constantly the skeptic and conspiracy theorist regarding LBJ.

McCarthy succeeded pretty well in NH, but later conspiracy theorists were to claim Johnson deliberately didn't seek re-election to deflect or defeat suspicion that he'd killed JFK--and perhaps Martin Luther King and RFK.

In any case. the 1968 election brought to a head the "Dixiecrat" problem among Democrats. Gradually, that group drifted more and more into Independent status, and now, is trying to be Republicans. Now, all the ugliness that used to characterize that third party movement, is with us in the GOP.

Over those years, Bill Clinton came and went, first as Governor and then Pres. But his positions were controversial and regarded with some suspicion by liberals. How could a southerner possibly be a progressive? At least, a genuine progressive?  Yet, he did succeed in bringing some sanity to our gun laws, achieving a ban on assault weapons that lasted until Bush's son, George W. Bush, managed to--some would argue, cheat--his way into the White House and undo that ban and start a horrific war in Iraq.

During those years of Clinton as governor, I had said little, but after his Presidency seemed to turn to a parade of allegations of sexual infidelity, I became embarrassed and was glad I had refrained from working in his campaigns.

Though I definitely knew I wouldn't vote for Bush, in 1992, I was more conflicted about Bob Dole by 1996. He had served honorably in WW2--something for which I wasn't quite so sure about Bush--while, meantime, more scandals about, largely, infidelity tormented Clinton. I reluctantly voted for him, based on the hope his policies would be more progressive than those of Dole.

I was disappointed. Clinton's second term, as has been the case with several Presidents, deteriorated badly from his first. His policies drifted way too far Right for my tastes. He buddied up with Larry Summers and other ultra-right economists and supported the disastrous and usurious Gramm-Leach-Bililey Act which allowed corporate banks to to get interest that was previously considered illegal. This was especially disappointing given his earlier history as a state Prosecuting Attorney enforcing Arkansas's famously progressive consumer loan programs, which hold interest rates way down for consumers here.

I felt, like Brownie Ledbetter and others at Public Policy Panel, that Hillary should be in the White House, and saw her as the real "ace in the hole" for Progressives of the Clinton years.

To the extent it helped Progressives and feminists get a woman further along toward the White House, I was for the Clinton campaign.

During the 2016 campaign, I helped a couple of elderly ladies in nursing homes to vote via absentee ballot, and helped arrange for others to help still others. Two of those ladies were my Lynn and my own mom, both of home reside in nursing facilities. My little mom had always told me, all my life, that she wasn't registered to vote but that "if they ever run a woman for President, I want to register and vote."
BOOM. So, I helped mom vote! And, I was glad Lynn got to vote again. (Like me, Lynn had voted for Gore in 2000, managing to hobble in the rain to the polls using a cane.)
We were once again up against the Bush family, and, both times he ostensibly "won", there had been and continue to be, significant doubts as to his win.

Anyway, I never directly worked for Bill Clinton. About the only thing I can say, in his behalf, in the midst of the newest allegations the GOP has revived or magnified recently in light of the disgusting Roy Moore antics in Alabama, is that at the time of his terms of office, no one ever alleged rape and really the charge was not, at that time, harassment or rape, but more just that he'd been cheating on Hillary. Allegations of murder, however, dogged his heels, and I haven't hesitated to investigate and further investigation of, those allegations. Now, a new or repeated allegation of rape by Juanita Broderick, who had at one time claimed a rape, and then recanted her claim, has surfaced.

Once again, we must ask troubling questions about top Democrats on a progressive issue, that of sexual harassment and whether the allegations are true or trumped up for political or sociopathic reasons. 

During my presentation for my Master of Arts degree, one of my professors stated "I can't stand Bill Clinton, Max" seemingly in response to my statements about how "funny looking" George H. W. Bush's WW2 records are. Apparently, he was uncomfortable withe allegations about Bush, because, like many people, he had "bought" Bush. But, aside from that, was the troubling realization he, like some of my classmates, was assuming that, because I was extrapolating negative possibilities about Bush in WW2, I must, therefore, have been supporting Clinton.

But by 1998, when I made my presentation, the 1996 campaign was even over, and Clinton hadn't been opposed by Bush, but by Dole. Nevertheless, some people's thinking required them to tie me to Clinton, though I'd never worked for his campaign as I had for Dukakis, Bush's original opponent.

So, with this climate, the classmates and the late professor, are going back into their usual conspiracy theories about me and Bill Clinton, I suppose. But this time around, they can explain their thinking. I don't think I'm going to have to explain mine.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Republican Base--or CONSERVATIVE Base?

Pundits and analysts say the 35 or 37 percent Trump approval crowd is a "Republican base" but its history suggests otherwise. While people in said group are conservative, their voting history is more skittish. Ross Perot, Ron Paul, Dixiecrats, and other Independent candidates have won their votes instead of GOP candidates --and still others have won their votes in state level races.

As far as being reliably conservative, they are; as far as being reliably Republican, not so much.

So a 35% vote becomes more like 17% when you look at reliability of  the conservative base vote as GOP fans.

Such phenomena best  explains "moderate Republicans"--and why the GOP is never going  to give this "base" 100% of what it  wants. Even when GOP has been reliably conservative itself, it has found it self left in the lurch sometimes.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

What Grover Cleveland's political history really reveals about Electoral-only victories

I just watched a discussion on "Meet the Press" about the "failed" Clinton campaign of 2016 in which various persons blamed Hillary for the "failure" of the campaign.
With a nearly 3 million Popular vote lead over Trump, it is difficult to call Hillary a "loser" in the campaign.
Yet, corporate talking head shills found a way to rationalize such a fluke as if it were under the control of the politicians involved.
Some of the participants put down Hillary's bringing in anti-woman sentiments as a factor, but, the truth is, even doing that is putting the outcome on a level of discussion it doesn't really deserve.
The political career of President Grover Cleveland is the best illustration of what is really involved when there is a gap between Electoral and  Popular vote.
In 1884, Cleveland was elected President, in both the Popular and the Electoral vote.
In 1888, he was up for re-election, but failed to achieve a lead in the Electoral College, though a modest lead in the Popular vote.
Cleveland came back in 1892 and won election again, in both the Popular and Electoral vote. In each case, historians and journalists found that the whole thing was best explained by FLUKES in the election system--oddball failures of election machines (newfound gadgets) and election clerk errors around the nation, but most especially in one or two states.
The real lesson in 2016, has also been that--as, indeed, errors or manipulations best explained the outcome in the other three Electoral gap elections since our two parties have existed, 1876, 1888 a and 2000.
In 1876, even many Republicans have acknowledged that a fishy "Electoral Commission" which worked in several ways to ensure the election of "Rutherfraud" B. Hayes, by shifting a single Electoral vote to Hayes, a Civil War general opposed to slavery versus Tilden a Democrat who had advocated removal of US troops from the Reconstruction South.
In 1888, flukes and errors explained the Electoral/Popular gap.
In 2000, a complex failure by the news media in "calling" Florida too soon for Gore, caused some w. Florida panhandle voters to leave the poll lines a bit too early, while a computer in s. Florida was videotaped "counting backwards" to favor W. Bush. And the counts got down to as low as 34 votes in later media recounts using each of the four "ballot interpretation" methods in Florida that were forbidden of carrying forward when the Supreme Court, dominated by Republican appointees, shut down any future recounts in Florida and gave the Electoral College--though not the Popular vote--to W. Bush.
Ironically, in 2004, Bush seems by many new and old pieces of evidence to have similarly won a lead in the Popular vote--partly in the wake of 911--but possibly failed to legally win the Electoral College, as Kerry got an apparent lead in Exit polls in Ohio, which, combined with data now about uncounted Provisional ballots and some locked up voting machines in Cuyahoga County there (which resulted in some OH election officials being convicted of violating the Voting Rights Act) strongly suggest Kerry was the first and thus far only Democrat to win the Electoral College but lose the lead in the Popular vote, with Bush playing Gore's role in an even bigger Popular vote lead over Kerry while losing in the Electoral College. (That, in turn, might be a cautionary tale to the GOP as to whether they should support efforts to abolish or amend interpretation of the Electoral versus Popular vote).
Now, in 2016, we see a series of odd looking failures to adequately examine ballots in at least 5 states, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, deprived America of an accurate election outcome.
Was Russia involved? Perhaps, we don't know but it's looking like it. But key here, is understanding that, when one candidate fails to achieve the Popular vote, they have likely failed in the Electoral College and an adequate examination of the outcomes after the fact has repeatedly revealed that.
There is no "failure" by a candidate to explain this, it is a product of flukes and fishiness.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Another Example of An Impossible "Coalition"

Trump faces a serious problem: he was elected by an "impossible" coalition. These are not unheard of in U.S. politics and history.

Now, it's true that there are always factions within the two parties, and that these are sometimes at odds over a range of relatively innocuous issues. There is also the "swing" state issue, which creates the phenomena of the "Blue dog" or conservative Democrat and the Liberal or "Moderate" Republican.

But, on rare occasions, especially when a single or possible two major issues dominate the Presidential campaign, we get what we are witnessing now: an IMPOSSIBLE coalition.

One of the most recent examples of this was in 1968-72, and in that case it was the single issue of the Vietnam war.

Humphrey was attempting to form such a coalition between war hawk Wallace Democrats (former Dixiecrats in some cases) and the far Left and liberal doves, who wanted a de-escalation or  immediate exit from Vietnam.

Wallace's politically impossible position was to somehow win voters in the South who weren't being swayed by Nixon to vote Republican for the first time in a lifetime in support of strong military in Vietnam and a slowing of busing in the South, while simultaneously pulling the black support he still had to have to survive as a viable and sizable third party entity in the South and swing states.

One result was the God-awful 1968 Chicago Democratic convention, which brought to a blood soaked (literally) head the contradictory positions. The result was that divided Democrats couldn't carry Illinois--and in losing it, lost both the Popular vote and the Electoral College that year.

To use analogies from that, then, today the Tea Party represents the core in the more solidly Red states while moderate Repubs are in the Swing and border states--today's "Wallace" or conservative faction from 1968. These were pivotal to a GOP victory in the White House race.

Trump played for Tea Party support in one set of states in order to get that narrow margin of the Far Right he needed to beat out other Republicans for the GOP nomination. That would have SEEMED to have committed him to Far Right economic and political positions, across the board. Yet Trump appealed to such conservatives ONLY IN THOSE SELECT STATES. His rhetoric THERE matched the wishful thinking hopes of the Far Right, which finally thought it was hearing from someone who was 100% where they were on issues.

Yet, equally pivotal, this year, for Trump, ended up being those on the Left who balked at supporting Hillary's more centrist views on foreign policy, corporate America and limited public health care act set up under Obama. When Trump left Alabama (for example), after talking there like the conservative's conservative, he went up to Michigan and spoke exactly the OPPOSITE, saying he was interested in what Bernie Sanders, who was on the Left of Hillary's positions on several public positions including the narrow coverage of the current health care system--and that he would responsibly bring back jobs to the American industrial heartland.

New data now suggests that Russia also circulated "fake news" at key Left websites that helped to exaggerate the Left's break with Hillary. In any case, the coalition for Trump thus created put him over in pivotal Democrat and Swing states--the ones in which we saw the Green Party question and attempt to recount.

Those Left voters are simply not supporting Trump now that the Congressional Budget Office numbers show the "repeal and replace" is not an improvement over what we had already.

Meanwhile, any attempts by Trump to maintain credibility with his Left supporters, watered down his "purist" approach to "repealing" Obamacare. That, in turn, caused that purist group in the Far Right to refuse to back his own health care bill. 

Back to the drawing board means further conflict-fraught discussions, meetings, and formings and re-formings of the GOP. All in all, not a pleasant harbinger for the "Hubert Humphrey" of 2017, Donald Trump.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

And Behold, A New Heaven and a New Earth

As some have foreseen, we have dramatic new proof of life in the universe beyond Earth, as NASA announced the discovery of a new solar system containing up to seven earth-like planets. This adds to a growing list of exoplanets that could be inhabited by life, including intelligent life.
It requires us to continue to grow up in our perceptions about ourselves, our planet and our universe.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Electoral College Tragedies

So now, we begin a new scandal-ridden, incompetent , controversial, probably ultimately tragic, Electoral-only Presidential administration.

How we proceed and progress as a nation a this point may affect many generations to come

As usual, the likes of these administrations demonstrate, once again, the tragedy of our current Electoral College system.

As has been the case almost invariably in such outcomes, an incompetent extremist who could not ultimately win a general election has been given all power-- instead of merely some sharing of power in a "consolation prize"  signifying a winning of a majority of the states.

Such outcomes have not served our nation well. There have been four since 1876 and the beginning of our current two parties.