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Bernie Sanders Needs A Shot Of Dignity

I have never been a big fan of Bernie Sanders. His authoritarian tendencies and aggressive attacks on any who would disagree have outweighed the good in him.

The good is his working-class voice, emphasis on economic issues, and some solid ideas. But his recent lashing out at The Washington Post, where he accused the progressive beacon of punishing him, carried an air of populist paranoia — so much so he’s being likened to Donald Trump.

Sanders’ day in the sun was the 2016 presidential race when he seriously challenged Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton for the party nomination. That day is past.

Among Democrats, Sanders trails Joe Biden by 13 percentage points, according to a recent Morning Consult poll. Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, is almost nipping at his heels.

Sanders may do OK in the first two contests, Iowa and New Hampshire, where the liberal white gentry wields many Democratic votes. But he will undoubtedly crash in the Southern primaries to follow, where African Americans are the deciders. Sanders generally does not bond with black voters, who tend to be more conservative. Quinnipiac puts him at only 8 percent among black Democratic primary voters.

Sanders did himself no good in 2016 when, having been trounced by Clinton in the Southern primaries, he waved away those contests as unimportant. In his worldview, what helps him matters. What doesn’t help him doesn’t matter. You’re for him or against him.

Still, it was surprising to hear Sanders decry persecution by the Post. Amazon paid no taxes last year, he told a crowd in New Hampshire. “And then I wonder why The Washington Post — which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon — doesn’t write particularly good articles about me.”

The Post publishes far less good articles about Trump. And Trump wields a far greater threat against Bezos’ business interests than Sanders ever could. The parallels between Trump and Sanders blaming liberal news sources for their setbacks is pretty glaring. Trump issues frequent Tweets against “the Amazon Washington Post.”

But it’s not just The Post’s picking on Sanders, according to his campaign. It’s “the media.”

“The hyper-overreaction from many in the media to Senator Sanders’ critique reveals a bias,” according to campaign manager Faiz Shakir, as reported by Politico. “There is a sneering, contemptuous disdain that infuses those comments and a willingness to put words into Bernie’s mouth that he just didn’t use.”

Whoa.

The Post‘s executive editor, Marty Baron, would have none of this.

“Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians — of every ideology — who complain about their coverage,” Baron said in a statement. “Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.”

For the record, Biden reportedly isn’t so happy with his general coverage, either.

Sanders supporters now have Elizabeth Warren to carry the torch on such ideas as “Medicare for All.” Not that it’s wise politics. It polls poorly once the public understands it would mean losing private coverage. Warren does have an electoral advantage over Sanders in calling herself a capitalist as opposed to a socialist. Her speeches are also less of a looping tape.

Interestingly, though, more Sanders supporters back Biden as their second choice than they do Warren. This may reflect Sanders’ populist appeal to working-class voters rather than interest in his programs.

Sanders was never much of a team player in the Democratic Party. Indeed, he seeks the affiliation only when he’s running for office.

Anyhow, his comet is on the way down. It’s legacy time. Sanders should stop the angry thrashing and start a slow stroll for the gates with dignity.

Survey Shows Most Trump Voters Don’t Find ’N-Word’ Offensive

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

One of the most offensive slurs in modern American language is the n-word. It has a long and ugly history and is offensive to most people.

But as on most issues, many Trump voters have a different point of view.

The Washington Post‘s Michael Tesler on Tuesday took a long look at Trump voters and their perception of what is racist. (It’s important to note that only about 5 percent of Black voters are Trump voters.)

In a post titled, “Republicans don’t think Trump’s tweets are racist. That fits a long American history of denying racism,” the Post notes, “Even under Jim Crow, most whites thought that blacks were treated fairly.”

That likely helps explain the disturbing revelation that “in the past several years, Democrats and Republicans have moved further apart on questions of race.”

Take one other seemingly clear-cut example of racism: the use of the n-word to describe African Americans. Polls show that Democrats and Republicans increasingly disagree on whether the n-word is offensive. Indeed, the percentage of Republicans who consider the word offensive or unacceptable has actually declined in recent years.

The Post reports that just one-third (33 percent) of Trump voters now consider it racist to use the n-word. By comparison, 86 percent of Hillary Clinton voters believe it is racist to use the n-word.

Tesler provides graphs that show just over the past three years Republicans find the use of the n-word decreasingly offensive. Democrats, and at a faster rate, increasingly find it offensive.

Further illustrating the difference in how Trump voters view race, less than one in four Trump voters disagreed with this statement:

“I prefer my close relatives marry spouses of their same race.”

Sixty-three percent of Clinton voters disagreed with the statement.

“These gaps help explain why, overall, Trump voters think that discrimination against whites is more pervasive in the U.S. than discrimination against blacks,” the Post adds.

Data Show Most Trump Voters Were Middle Income, Not ‘Working Class’

In the months since Donald Trump’s stunning presidential victory, media outlets have obsessed over his voters—who they are and what their motivations might have been. Many have credited his win to “working-class whites,” a segment of society that has been laid low by opioid addiction and income inequality, in part because it made a compelling narrative.

The data tell a different story. According to an analysis by the Washington Post, Trump’s voting bloc was primarily comprised of middle- and upper-income Americans. An NBC poll of Trump voters from March 2016 showed that only one-third of his supporters had incomes lower than $50,000, while the other two-thirds made more than $50,000.

A similar trend arose in the general election as well. According to the American National Election Study, 35 percent of people who said they voted for Trump had household incomes under $50,000. The other two-thirds of Trump voters “came from the better-off half of the economy.”

According to a new report, despite what Ivanka Trump says, her father's administration isn't doing much for families of people who voted for him. A report from the Center for American Progress says that in swing counties won by Trump in the 2016 election, a family of four with two young children would only take in an additional $5.55 a year under Trump's tax plan if they spend an average of $6,037 per year on child care. The reason for this is that Trump's child care proposal is nothing more than a tax credit based on an assumption that families can afford to pay the full cost out of pocket.

Another component of the “working-class whites” narrative was the lack of a college education among most Trump voters, as 69 percent of his supporters in the general election did not have a college degree. But polling data from NBC also showed that about 70 percent of Republicans had not graduated from a college or university, so that number was not an aberration.

It is also the case that the lack of a college degree is not intrinsically tied to a person’s income—less education does not necessarily equate to being a member of the poor or working class. Only 25 percent of Trump voters were white people without college degrees making below the $50,000 median income. In fact, nearly 60 percent of white Trump voters without college degrees were making over $50,000, placing them in the “top-half of income distribution.” Data also show that one in five Trump voters actually made over $100,000 in household income, again exposing gaping holes in the narrative that the white working-class is mostly responsible for Trump’s win.

Celisa Calacal is a junior writing fellow for AlterNet. She is a senior journalism major and legal studies minor at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Previously she worked at ThinkProgress and served as an editor for Ithaca College’s student newspaper. Follow her at @celisa_mia.

IMAGE: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears at a campaign rally in Miami, Florida, September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Trump Used His Aliases For Much More — And Worse — Than Gossip

Donald Trump told a real whopper this week — and we’ve got fresh proof right here.

What we can show is that when Donald Trump made deceptive phone calls over decades — posing as a Trump Organization vice president named “John Miller” or “John Barron” — he was not always puffing up his reputation as a philandering ladies’ man. In his fictional identities, Trump could also be quite threatening, as revealed in the brief clip below from Trump: What’s The Deal?a documentary film that he successfully suppressed for 25 years with threats of litigation.

The story erupted Thursday when The Washington Post put online a recording of Trump posing as “John Miller,” in a 1991 interview with People magazine reporter Sue Carswell. The fictitious “Miller” described himself as a newly hired Trump Organization publicist for the company boss.

Carswell was reporting a story about Trump’s pending divorce from his first wife, Ivana, and whether he planned to marry his longtime mistress, Marla Maples. Their relationship was really hot news at the time, at least in the tabloid newspapers and the tabloid television shows that Trump follows closely whenever they mention him, his self-proclaimed sexual desirability, and the notion that the world’s most gorgeous women cannot resist him.

Even though “John Miller” told Carswell that he was brand new on the job he gave lengthy, detailed and nuanced observations on Trump’s emotional state, various women in his life and whether he was ready to commit to another marriage. “Miller” must have been a really fast study. No publicist I have known in the past 49 years would dare to mention such intimate details about a brand new boss, much less so with the bold authority displayed by “John Miller.”

The morning after the Post story was posted online Trump called the NBC Today show to deny posing as “Miller.” He insisted – emphatically, repeatedly and unequivocally –that his voice was not on the recording. He even offered a conspiracy theory, suggesting it was one of many Trump impersonators trying to harm his reputation.

Asked by host Savannah Guthrie about news reports galore in the early 1990s that Trump routinely planted stories with journalists who received calls from “John Miller” or “John Barron,” Trump replied:

“No, and it was not me on the phone – it was not me on the phone. And it doesn’t sound like me on the phone, I will tell you that, and it was not me on the phone.” It was him, of course.

But “John Barron” didn’t just puff Trump’s sexual boasting in the press. “Barron” was also menacing, as revealed in the following film clip about his abuse of Polish immigrant construction workers – and the attorney who tried to help them.

 

 

Trump: What’s The Deal recounts a wide variety of Trump lies, exaggerations, and manipulations, but the misconduct of greatest interest to voters may be his threatening litigation in a scheme to deny payment to about 200 illegal Polish immigrants tearing down the old Bonwit Teller building on Fifth Avenue (an act of architectural vandalism). Many of the men lacked hardhats or face masks, used sledge hammers rather than power tools, had to pull out live electric wires with their bare hands, in a building laced with asbestos — all in blatant violation of worker safety laws.

A lawyer trying to get the workers paid the meager $4 to $6 per hour that Trump owed them received a bullying telephone call from one “John Barron,” as recounted in the film:

Narrator: Chapter Six. [Voiceover various images of Trump Tower and Trump]

 Threaten the lawyer that the Polish illegals hired after your cheap contractor defaults on paying them. Make sure that the threats are untraceable, in case the guy isn’t scared off.

 Interview On Camera: John Szabo (lawyer for Polish workers):

 “Mr. Barron had told me in the one telephone conversation that I had with him, ‎that Donald Trump was upset because I was ruining his credit, reputation by filing the mechanics liens [legal action intended to enforce payment]. And Mr. Trump was thinking of filing a personal lawsuit against me for $100 million for defaming his, uh…reputation.”

 Narrator: It turned out that Mr. Barron was Donald Trump’s favorite alias.

 When this was revealed Trump said, “What of it? Ernest Hemingway used a pen name, didn’t he?”

You can now view the entire 80-minute documentary, which is a superb examination of Trump’s mendacity and manipulation of journalists and politicians. It’s available for $9.99 on iTunes. If any movie chain had the backbone to show the film each seat would cost at least that much. But for the price of one theater ticket and a few beers, you can have a party, inviting Trump fans and detractors to watch the film and discuss what it reveals.

As for how we know that Trump lied to Savannah Guthrie, that’s beyond dispute. He admitted under oath in the federal lawsuit on behalf of the Polish workers that he had used the name John Barron, which resulted in a spate of news stories. In the aftermath Trump continued his deception, but using the name “John Miller.”

Later he admitted that “Miller” was a phony name, too. He confessed the truth to People Magazine, two weeks after its initial story by Sue Carswell made fun of him for trying to pass himself off as “John Miller.”

Following a lengthy trial in federal court, the real Donald Trump was found to have engaged in a conspiracy to cheat the Polish workers. The judge who decided the case found Trump liable for pay and fringe benefits and also found that his testimony — that he was unaware of what was going on during the demolition phase on Trump Tower — was not credible. Not only was he photographed at the site, but his temporary office across Fifth Avenue had a picture window view so he could observe the whole process of tearing down Bonwit’s and putting up his eponymous tower.

Ultimately the case was settled with a sealed agreement that neither side could discuss. But the record shows that what Trump denied was not just a juvenile prank, but part of a complex and lenghty stealth campaign by Trump to sell and protect himself in ways he was unwilling to do honestly.

Whether it’s the story planted on the cover of the New York Post with Marla Maples supposedly saying sex with Trump was the best ever (a quote she later denied ever uttering), his claims of multi-billionaire net worth when he could not pay his bills, or any other tall tale that puffed up the Trump name — or his ongoing efforts to suppress any fact that might tarnish his image — we now possess an important insight into the Trump mentality.

The man who wants us to give him the nuclear launch codes behaves like a child when he is caught with his hand in the cookie jar, crumbs all over his face. He denies the undeniable. And like a four year-old toddler, he thinks Americans are so gullible that they will believe him.

When Trump shifts his story and says he forgot, as he probably will, remember this: Last fall, he bragged that he has “the world’s greatest memory.”

 

 

 

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump walks past a teleprompter as he departs after delivering a foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, United States, April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Bourg