Posts Tagged ‘Kirsten Gillibrand’

Civil War in the Democratic Party

March 1, 2018

Bernie Sanders was a portent of the populist left’s rise. Now even Dianne Feinstein looks vulnerable.

 Image result for Bernie Sanders, photos

The rise of Donald Trump has prompted endless analysis about the populist right, what it is and what it wants. Now it’s time to consider a neglected segment of the electorate—the populist left.

Progressive populists scored an upset this past weekend, when California Democrats at their annual convention declined to endorse liberal stalwart Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is seeking a fifth full term. “The outcome of today’s endorsement vote is an astounding rejection of politics as usual, and it boosts our campaign’s momentum as we all stand shoulder to shoulder against a complacent status quo,” crowed her progressive opponent, state Senate leader Kevin de León, who along with Ms. Feinstein will face voters in June.

A civil war rages among Democrats in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Mainstreamers are coming under attack from their left flank, with the sharpest broadsides emanating from the postindustrial Midwest. “We need to unite the agenda and unite the Democrats right now around a strong economic agenda,” Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, who tried in 2016 to depose Nancy Pelosi as House minority leader, said in February. The left has growing numbers, enthusiasm and a potent small-contribution fundraising model. As they pull the party away from the center, the perpetually lamented polarization of America will continue.

Excluded from both parties, left populists are a significant slice of the 37% of Americans who prefer socialism or even communism over capitalism, according to a 2017 YouGov survey. Like their counterparts on the right, left populists resent political, cultural and economic elites. They distrust big business, academia, the major political parties and corporate media outlets that prop up a self-interested establishment. They believe the system exploits hardworking Americans to fatten corporations and wealthy individuals.

Civil War in the Democratic Party

Left populism is distinguished from the left centrism that currently dominates the Democratic Party. Left centrists seek reform, not revolution. President Obama wanted to regulate Wall Street, not replace it. The Clintons cashed checks from Goldman Sachs ; last year Mr. Obama accepted one from Cantor Fitzgerald.

Left populists focus on class-based perspectives. What matters to them most is the struggle between the 1% and the 99%, especially over globalization. Working-class lives matter; banks are evil. Identity politics—race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.—don’t excite left populists much.

These were the voters who supported Bernie Sanders. Team Hillary never understood them. “What happened” was that the history-making potential of the first female president left almost half the party, not only white males, unmoved.

One point of disagreement is a question that also divides Republicans: immigration. During this year’s budget talks, Democratic leaders were determined to prevent deportations of “Dreamers,” whose parents brought them to the U.S. illegally when they were children. Populists sympathize with Dreamers, but they don’t see a hill worth dying on. Budgetary brinkmanship on behalf of illegal aliens risks alienating a growing left-populist base, whose members worry more about their own long-suffering bank balances.

As Mrs. Pelosi garnered liberal accolades for her eight-hour pseudo-filibuster over Dreamers—when did she showboat over, say, distressed homeowners during the housing crisis?— Mr. Ryan fumed that the stunt’s identity-politics-oriented optics, featuring female congressmen standing behind her, could alienate left populists. “If you’re going into a budget battle like this, you can’t go in with just a million Dreamers,” Mr. Ryan said. “You need the retired coal miners, the retired Teamsters.”

Until a few years ago, the potential of the populist left manifested itself primarily in spasmodic street demonstrations such as the antiglobalization “Battle of Seattle” in 1999 and the ragtag Occupy encampments in 2011. Mr. Sanders capitalized on it, transforming from a rumpled fringe candidate into the most popular politician in America. He rocketed from around 6% in the polls among Democrats in 2015 to a 53% favorability rating among all voters last year.

And left-populist voters were decisive in November 2016. Some 12% of those who supported Mr. Sanders in the primaries cast their votes for Mr. Trump, according to political scientist Brian Schaffner. “I’m with her,” Mrs. Clinton’s bumper stickers proclaimed. But populists wanted a candidate who was with them. From her decision not to consider Mr. Sanders for the ticket to her failure to pick up his call for a $15 minimum wage, from her focus on identity politics over pocketbook issues to her campaign’s outreach to anti- Trump Republicans in the suburbs, Bernie voters got the Big Snub.

They snubbed back. Many Sanders supporters stayed home on Election Day. “Donald Trump probably would have lost to Hillary Clinton had Republican- and Democratic-leaning registered voters cast ballots at equal rates,” wrote Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight.

Mr. Trump owes his presidency to the populist left. But he’s not respecting them either. He brags about stripping away regulations and a $1.5 trillion tax cut whose benefits mostly go to the wealthy and big corporations, not to mention a stock market whose gains are leaving many Americans behind. It all tells Bernie America that Hillary America was right about the Republicans and Mr. Trump.

Tom Perez

Fortunately for the GOP, the national Democrats are as clueless about the populist left as they were in 2016. The choice of Clintonite Tom Perez to run the Democratic National Committee broadcasts the Democrats’ determination to nominate another identitarian left-centrist standard-bearer— Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, maybe even Oprah Winfrey. Anyone but Bernie!

DNC-approved “mainstream” presidential prospects have adopted left-leaning positions on a variety of issues. Yet the populist left doesn’t trust them, and for good reason. Ms. Harris was caught fundraising in the Hamptons; Mr. Booker is too close to bankers; Ms. Gillibrand may have vested too much in #MeToo; Ms. Winfrey is a billionaire arriviste. They’re all silent on the working class.

The populist left won’t flip to the GOP again in 2020. But they won’t turn out for another regular Democrat either. This November? They’ll probably stay home with Netflix .

Mr. Rall is co-author, with Harmon Leon, of “Meet the Deplorables: Infiltrating Trump America,” and author of “Francis: The People’s Pope,” forthcoming in March.


Poor Chuck Schumer

January 30, 2018

The Senate Minority Leader made it to the top, but at the worst possible moment.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Capitol Hill, Dec. 19, 2017.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Capitol Hill, Dec. 19, 2017. PHOTO: ALEX BRANDON/ASSOCIATED PRESS

In only one year as Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer has managed to pull off some large but dubious achievements.

The biggest came last week, when New York’s senior senator became the only Democrat in recent memory to lose a government shutdown fight. The way he lost was as distinctive as the loss itself. Having vowed on a Friday not to agree to a funding bill until Congress had a bipartisan agreement to protect the so-called Dreamers (immigrants who came to America illegally as children), by Monday he was crying uncle. By Tuesday angry protesters appeared outside his Brooklyn apartment building, shouting that Mr. Schumer had sold the Dreamers out.

In short, Mr. Schumer’s hard-line start and surrender finish produced the worst of all worlds. To begin with, he provoked more ridicule from a president who seems to enjoy taunting him, especially on Twitter . And Mr. Trump continues to do so, recently tweeting that a legislative solution for the Dreamers “has been made increasingly difficult by the fact that Cryin’ Chuck Schumer took such a beating over the shutdown that he is unable to act on immigration!”

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump also offered a framework for an immigration deal that contains genuine concessions, such as a path to citizenship for all 1.8 million people who qualified for DACA—not just the 800,000 who had enrolled. The president has also suggested, plausibly, that Mr. Schumer refuses to cut a deal because the Democrats prefer to exploit the plight of the Dreamers rather than reach a genuine bipartisan solution.

On the eve of Mr. Trump’s first State of the Union, it puts him in an interesting place. Here’s a what-if: What if Mr. Trump looked up at the gallery full of Dreamers during his address and said, “I have offered a good-faith compromise that would not only resolve your place in America but open to you the precious gift of American citizenship. All I ask is that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi meet me halfway”?

Still, as trying as Mr. Trump must be, even worse for Mr. Schumer is the split in his own party. It might roughly be characterized as between those looking at 2018 and those looking to 2020.

In the 2018 midterms, Democrats will be defending 26 Senate seats—10 of them in states Mr. Trump carried. Most of these Democrats were irritated by how Mr. Schumer’s stand opened them up to accusations (and the inevitable attack ads) that they’re willing to shut down the government to protect illegal immigrants. So upset were these Democrats by Mr. Schumer’s uncompromising stand that before the weekend was out they had abandoned him for a deal with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reopen the government.

In the opposite corner are the 2020 Senate Democrats, i.e., those eyeing a White House run. They sense, correctly, that their party’s base is in full resistance mode. It is no coincidence almost all these Democratic senators—including Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand —voted against ending the shutdown. Some are further embellishing their purist credentials by voting against almost every Trump nominee.

Indulging anti-Trump absolutism is not without its price. Notwithstanding the prevailing orthodoxy that Republicans will be overwhelmed by a blue wave in the 2018 midterms, vulnerable Democratic incumbents such as North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp and Indiana’s Joe Donnelly don’t seem so sure.

Republican leaders faced this same dynamic themselves, notably in 2013 when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz persuaded enough Republicans that if they would only shut down the government, they could force Mr. Obama to agree to defund his signature legislative achievement, ObamaCare. Republicans who opposed the shutdown found themselves traduced as RINOs—Republicans in name only. It too ended in humiliating retreat.

Of course, it’s one thing for an individual senator to push his caucus into a futile gesture. It’s quite another for a party leader to do so.

The irony is that by nature Mr. Schumer inclines more to deal-making than suicidal last stands. His problem is that Mr. Trump is an even more polarizing figure for Democrats than President Obama was for Republicans, and what these Democrats want now is to resist. But if Mr. Schumer allows the Democratic zeal for resistance to take the form of rejecting every Trump offer for compromise, Mr. Schumer may well pull off another miracle by making Donald Trump look like the reasonable one in Washington.

For years, Mr. Schumer has been climbing the greasy pole, finally reaching the top last year when he replaced retiring Sen. Harry Reid as leader of the Senate Democrats. Normally the priority of a minority leader would be to regain control of the chamber in which he serves. Alas for poor Mr. Schumer, his tragedy is to have reached the top at precisely the worst moment, caught between a Republican president who can’t stop demeaning him and a Democratic Party that seems determined to ensure he remains a minority leader.

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Appeared in the January 30, 2018, print edition.

US federal workers to return after Congress ends 3-day government shutdown

January 23, 2018

Above, a notice alerts visitors that the National Archives building in Washington DC is closed due to a government shutdown. (AFP)
WASHINGTON: US federal workers prepared to return to work Tuesday after Congress ended a three-day government shutdown, with President Donald Trump claiming victory in his standoff with Democrats.
The House voted 266 to 150 to extend federal funding for another three weeks, hours after Senate Democrats dropped their opposition to the plan after winning Republican assurances of a vote on immigration in the coming weeks.
Trump signed the measure into law Monday night and government operations were essentially to return to normal on Tuesday.
“I know there’s great relief that this episode is coming to an end,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told colleagues. “But this is not a moment to pat ourselves on the back. Not even close.”
The stalemate consumed Washington for the better part of a week, as lawmakers and the White House feuded over immigration policy and the nation’s two main political parties exchanged bitter barbs before finally reaching a deal.
The shutdown began at midnight Friday and thus affected only one regular workday — Monday — but it made both parties look bad. If it had continued, hundreds of thousands of federal employees would have been furloughed.
Democrats decided to end the shutdown after making progress with ruling Republicans toward securing the fate of hundreds of thousands of so-called “Dreamers” brought to America as children, many of them illegally. They had been protected from deportation under an Obama-era program known as DACA, which Trumps wants to end.
With Democratic support, a bill keeping the government funded until February 8 easily passed the Senate, where different versions of the funding had languished for days.
Word of the compromise deal struck in Washington sent US stocks surging to new highs.
Earlier, the White House appeared in no mood for bipartisanship or magnanimity after a shutdown that overshadowed Trump’s first anniversary in office.
Trump moved to undercut Democrats, saying he would only accept a comprehensive immigration reform — one that notably addresses his demands for a border wall with Mexico as well as the fate of the “Dreamers.”
“We will make a long-term deal on immigration if, and only if, it is good for our country,” he said in a statement.
And in a tweet late Monday, he again cried victory over the Democrats.
“Big win for Republicans as Democrats cave on Shutdown,” he wrote on Twitter.
Trump added: “Now I want a big win for everyone, including Republicans, Democrats and DACA, but especially for our Great Military and Border Security. Should be able to get there. See you at the negotiating table!“
In a sign of the poisoned politics of Washington, when top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer announced his party would vote with Republicans to end the shutdown he also pilloried Trump.
“The White House refused to engage in negotiations over the weekend. The great deal-making president sat on the sidelines,” Schumer said.
Trump spent the weekend stewing at the White House when he had planned to be among friends and family at his home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida for his anniversary bash.
And with the fundamental row on immigration and funding of Trump’s border wall unresolved, Republicans and Democrats may very well find themselves back in a similar stalemate come February 9.
Schumer told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he expected Republicans to make good on a pledge to address Democrats’ concerns over the Deferred Action on Child Arrivals (DACA) program. This shields immigrants brought to the country as children from deportation but expires on March 5.
There are an estimated 700,000 “Dreamers” whose fates are up in the air.
“If he does not, of course, and I expect he will, he will have breached the trust of not only the Democratic senators but members of his own party as well,” Schumer said.
Trump has staked his political fortunes on taking a hard line on immigrants, painting them as criminals and scroungers.
Senator Tim Kaine summed up the view of the more optimistic Democrats: “We got a commitment that I feel very, very good about.”
But if no progress is made on an immigration bill, Molly Reynolds of the Brookings Institution warned, “Democrats still have the ability to potentially force another shutdown over the issue.”
The House is under no obligation to pass any Senate bill generated as a result of McConnell’s pledge to cooperate with Democrats — although Speaker Ryan did say his chamber needs to “move forward in good faith” on DACA and immigration.
Notably, many of the Senate Democrats who voted against the funding agreement included a litany of potential 2020 presidential candidates, including Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren.
Ahead of the deal, Trump had goaded Democrats from the sidelines, accusing them of shutting down the government to win concessions on immigration, in service of “their far left base.”
There have been four government shutdowns since 1990. During the last one, in October 2013, more than 800,000 government workers were put on temporary leave.
Essential federal services and the military were operational on Monday.


Trump’s biggest enemy isn’t the media — it’s himself

December 21, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person, suit

By Michael Goodwin
New York Post

Speaking as Congress neared final approval of the historic tax bill, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders hailed the culmination of a year of major accomplishments. She cited the defeat of the Islamic State, the creation of 1.7 million new jobs, the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years, a rollback of excessive regulations, and more than 60 record highs of the stock market.

It is an impressive list, yet a catch was reflected in a question. Why, a reporter asked, in the face of such accomplishments, do polls show President Trump’s approval stuck at under 40 percent?

Sanders is good on her feet, and her answer was aggressive without being incendiary. She blamed the media for its lopsided coverage, saying it ignores accomplishments to focus on “other things” and echoed studies showing that 90 percent of TV coverage of Trump “has been negative.”

She’s absolutely right — in fact, she understated the bias that drives much of the anti-Trump coverage around the clock and around the country. And she’s right to hope that the tax bill’s help for families will help Trump’s standing in the polls.

But there’s more to the answer than media bias, and while Sanders can’t say it, I will.

Her boss remains his own biggest problem.

Trump has dug himself in a hole with large segments of the American public, and needs to step away from the shovel if he hopes to get out. A year in office, his accomplishments still are being overshadowed by bad habits and unlikable aspects of his personality.

Knowing that much of the media is out to get him, he should stop giving them ammunition. Most important, Trump must stop attacking individual Americans on Twitter.

His recent attack on New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is a perfect case study. Trying to make a national name for herself, she’s aiming to galvanize the female vote by focusing on sexual harassment. So she attacked Trump over the allegations against him.

He responded, on Twitter, by calling her a “lightweight” and a “flunky for Chuck Schumer,” which are widely held views in New York political circles, including among Democrats.

But then Trump wrapped the rope around his own neck, saying she “would do anything” for campaign contributions. It was vague enough to let the jackals turn it into red meat.

The Washington Post called the line “sexually suggestive” and Gillibrand called it a “sexist smear.” The media piled on Trump and soon headlines appeared saying the incident had raised Gillibrand’s profile.

That’s a neat trick — in a few badly chosen words, Trump lifted her and made himself look small and mean.

While all Americans want a tough president, few want a mean one, even rhetorically.

In fairness, Trump has steadily gotten more disciplined, but there are still too many Twitter eruptions, making it hard to change public perceptions. Examples of his deep-seated problem are evident in the latest Quinnipiac poll, which shows voters disapprove by 59 to 37 percent of the way he is doing his job.

Although 63 percent say the economy is “excellent” or “good,” they give him a thumbs-down on his handling of the subject by seven points, with 51 percent disapproving and only 44 approving.

Many of those are “resistance” Democrats, of course, and they will never give Trump credit for anything. But I also believe he is being penalized for personal fouls by Americans who want him to succeed. They just need to be confident he’s not going to embarrass them five minutes after they say something nice to a pollster about him.

Other numbers in the survey reflect his deficit. He gets low grades on most character traits, from honesty to leadership, and only 28 percent think he is levelheaded.

Polls are not destiny, as Trump proved last year, and he worked with congressional leaders to keep 99 percent of Republicans on board for the tax reform despite those low approval numbers. No small feat, given his nasty battles with some of them.

But the stakes grow larger once the calendar turns. Republicans are facing an uphill fight to keep Congress next fall, and if either chamber flips, the anti-Trump knives will be in charge.

A Democratic House would probably push impeachment. If the Dems take the Senate, Trump’s reshaping of the federal courts would come to a stop. If the GOP loses both chambers, Katie bar the door.

Trump’s first year has been one of significant accomplishments, but the climb from here gets harder, not easier. If he can harness his combative instincts and keep his eye on the ball, he’ll have a chance to keep a GOP Congress for four years — and really have the chance to do great things for America.

It’s up to him.

Trump Rips Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Over Her Calls for His Resignation

December 12, 2017

President calls senator a ‘flunky’ who ‘would do anything’ for campaign donations

President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized a Democratic U.S. senator who has called for his resignation over allegations of sexual misconduct as a “total flunky” while dismissing the accusations as “fabricated.”

In a pair of tweets Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump accused Democrats of promoting the allegations of more than a dozen women that he engaged in sexual misconduct. He targeted New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who in a CNN interview Monday said the allegations against the president were credible and heartbreaking and…

Al Franken Departs Without Grace

December 8, 2017

And a reminder for Alabama voters and social conservatives that character is crucial.

Al Franken leaves the Capitol after speaking on the Senate floor, Dec. 7.
Al Franken leaves the Capitol after speaking on the Senate floor, Dec. 7. PHOTO: ANDREW HARNIK/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Al Franken has promised under pressure to step down from the U.S. Senate “in the coming weeks.” He was not accused of such grave crimes as rape or preying on underage children. He was accused instead of grabbing, fondling, lunging at and humiliating seven women. If true, and I think we see a pattern here, this would make him a pig, a bully and a hypocrite. His departure, while personally sad, is no loss to American democracy.

It was not mad Puritanism that chased him from office; it was his colleagues’ finally, belatedly announcing and establishing standards of behavior. This is not an unreasonable or unhelpful thing to do.

Journalists and political figures of my generation have been wryly remembering what we had to put up with in the old days—how a woman couldn’t get on an elevator with Sen. Strom Thurmond without being pinched or patted. All true. But even Thurmond would not have survived a photo of him leering over a sleeping woman and posing—deliberately, perhaps sadistically, so the moment could be memorialized—as he grabbed or simulated grabbing her breasts, which is what Mr. Franken did. The Franken case represents not a collapse of tolerance for flawed human behavior but a rise of judgment about what is acceptable.

People speak of mixed motives and say it’s all brute politics. The Democrats are positioning themselves for the high ground should Republican Roy Moore be elected. They’re aligning themselves with the passions of their base, while clearing the way for a probe into sexual-harassment accusations against the president. New York’s Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who led the charge that forced Mr. Franken’s departure, hopes to run for president in 2020 as a champion of women, so the move was happily on-brand. I don’t doubt all of this is true. Little in politics comes from wholly clean hands.

The speech in which Mr. Franken announced he would leave was too clever. Rather than a quick, dignified statement in which he put the scandal on his back and bore it away, he spoke on the Senate floor for 11 minutes. He milked it. Modesty was called for, but he wasn’t modest. He spoke of hard work and sacrifice, said it often wasn’t fun, asserted he “improved people’s lives.” Of the charges: “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others, I remember very differently.” He seemed to want the female Senators who’d asked him to step down to feel guilty. As a senator, “I have used my power to be a champion of women, and . . . I’ve earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside every day.”

He named as a key issue fighting for “kids facing bullying.”

He took a hard shot at President Trump and Mr. Moore, finding “irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assaults sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.” The latter is not true, and a professional like Mr. Franken would know it. If Mr. Moore had the full support of his party, the polls would not be close, and Mr. Moore’s supporters would not be daily denouncing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment.

The bitter tone was odd in a speech summing up a political life, but perhaps he means to extend it. We’ll see. He spent a lot of time lauding the people of Minnesota.

Mr. Franken’s weakness as a political figure was having no sympathy for those who disagree with him, not bothering to understand how the other side thinks, while always claiming for himself the high moral ground. This now common attitude frays political bonds; once it was considered poor political comportment.

Mr. Franken is a media master who has spent his entire adult life in front of a camera. He will no doubt go on to write books, teach, go on television. “I’ll be fine,” he said. Who would doubt it? In coming years he may slyly position himself as the victim, long ago, of a mindless moral backlash. He is talented and this may come to be believed.

As for the Alabama Senate election, in a strikingly good New York Times essay this week, Commentary’s Sohrab Ahmari told Christian conservatives, especially those who’ll vote next week, some things they needed to hear. Mr. Ahmari stated forthrightly what many, including in this space, have been casting about for and not quite achieved.

Calling himself “a staunch social conservative,” Mr. Ahmari addressed evangelicals and social conservatives—“people I consider allies”—about their embrace of Mr. Moore, the subject of credible charges of sexual predation.

The question of how social conservatives “should practice politics in the age of Trump” has again presented itself, Mr. Ahmari observes. The president offers them “an appealing menu of policies and judicial nominations,” and it is understandable that they’d find them attractive “after a decade during which the left embraced a new, aggressive mode of secular progressivism and continued its war against tradition long after it had won most courtroom and ballot-box battles.”

But “vulgar populists” exact too high a price, Mr. Ahmari adds—namely, “complicity in the degradation, conspiracism, thinly veiled bigotry and leader-worship that is their stock in trade.” A public culture “informed by the Bible and traditional morality is essential to America’s constitutional order,” but the answer is not to accept “a terrible bargain” by backing men such as Moore.

Putting conservative judges on the federal bench “is not the only path to political success in America.” Mr. Trump picked Neil Gorsuch, to his credit. But any of the 2016 GOP contenders would have picked someone similar. We look to our leaders not only to enact policies but “to represent our nation on the global stage with the dignity that their offices demand.” American exceptionalism takes a hit every time the president demeans someone on Twitter; the Senate will be harmed if Mr. Moore is seated.

“Idolatry of class, nation, race and leader is a constant temptation for people of faith, and too many are succumbing to it today,” Mr. Ahmari writes. Supporters of Messrs. Trump and Moore are deeply and understandably pessimistic: “Many fear that under secularism’s relentless onslaught, Judeo-Christianity will be banished,” in time, from the public square. “I feel similar angst.”

But in our time “the Christian idea bested Soviet Communism, an ideology that was far more hostile to religious faith than America’s Enlightenment liberalism has ever been.” In America, Christians have “the First Amendment and freedom of conscience.” And there are other reasons for optimism. The sexual abuse scandals themselves suggest liberals may be rethinking “some aspects of the sexual revolution.”

Noting that “Christians are called to live in faith, hope and charity,” Mr. Ahmari urges them not let fear drive them to tie their fate to insufficient and inadequate leaders.

It is sound if hard advice: Don’t let your fears—even wholly legitimate ones—drive you. Hold on, have faith, retain standards.

In the short term this can be difficult. In the long run it’s the only way to win.

Announcement coming from Sen. Franken amid fresh accusations

December 7, 2017

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Minnesota Democrat Al Franken, facing fresh allegations of sexual misconduct and vanishing support from fellow Democrats, appears on the brink of resigning from the Senate.

Franken’s office said he will make an announcement at 11:45 a.m. Thursday in a speech on the Senate floor. His office tweeted Wednesday evening that he had not made “a final decision” on resigning.

But a majority of the Senate’s Democrats called on the two-term lawmaker to quit after a woman emerged Wednesday morning saying he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006. Hours later, another woman said Franken inappropriately squeezed “a handful of flesh” on her waist while posing for a photo with her in 2009. That brought the number of women alleging misconduct by Franken to at least eight.

Franken, the former comedian who made his name on “Saturday Night Live,” faces a chorus of calls to step aside, and Democratic senators said they expected their liberal colleague to resign.

“Enough is enough,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK, none of it is acceptable, and we, as elected leaders, should absolutely be held to a higher standard.”

Gillibrand was the first to call for Franken’s resignation on Wednesday, but a torrent of Democrats quickly followed.

Led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-I.L., lawmakers from across the political spectrum spoke Wednesday against sexual harassment in the workplace. They took aim at forced arbitration clauses in many work agreements. (Dec. 6)

“I’m shocked and appalled by Sen. Franken’s behavior,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state. “It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time. It’s time for him to step aside.”

Though the writing appeared to be on the wall, Franken’s departure was not certain. A tweet posted Wednesday evening on Franken’s Twitter account said: “Senator Franken is talking with his family at this time and plans to make an announcement in D.C. tomorrow. Any reports of a final decision are inaccurate.”

Late in the day, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York added his voice.

“I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately,” Schumer said.

The resignation demands came in rapid succession even though Franken on Wednesday vehemently denied the new accusation that came from a former Democratic congressional aide, who said he tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006.

The woman, who was not identified, told Politico that Franken pursued her after her boss had left and she was collecting her belongings. She said that she ducked to avoid his lips and that Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”

Franken, in a statement, said the idea he would claim such conduct as a right was “preposterous.”

But it was clear his position had become untenable.

Fellow Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who spoke to Franken, wrote on Twitter, “I am confident he will make the right decision.”

The pressure only mounted Tuesday, when Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., resigned after numerous allegations of sexual misconduct. Rep Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., faces pressure to resign as well over allegations reported by Buzzfeed that he repeatedly propositioned a former campaign worker.

While Franken apparently is departing, Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore could be arriving, if he prevails in a Dec. 12 special election. Multiple women have accused the 70-year-old Moore of sexual misconduct with them when they were teens and he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s. If Moore is elected, it could create a political nightmare for Republicans, who have promised an ethics probe.

A national conversation about sexual harassment has intensified this fall after the heavily publicized case of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of many acts of sexual misconduct, including rape, by actresses and other women. Just on Wednesday, Time magazine named as its person of the year the “silence breakers” — women who have come forward on sexual harassment.

Punishment has been swift for leaders in entertainment, media and sports while members of Congress have tried to survive the onslaught of allegations.

Franken already faced a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into previous claims by several other women that he groped them or sought to forcibly kiss them.

The allegations began in mid-November when Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio anchor, accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour in Afghanistan.

Other allegations followed, including a woman who says Franken put his hand on her buttocks as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Two women told the Huffington Post that Franken squeezed their buttocks at political events during his first campaign for the Senate in 2008. A fourth woman, an Army veteran, alleged Franken cupped her breast during a photo on a USO tour in 2003.

Franken has apologized for his behavior but has also disputed some of the allegations.


Associated Press writers Juliet Linderman in Washington and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, contributed to this report.

Democrats turn on Al Franken

December 6, 2017
By Carter Sherman Dec 6, 2017
 Image result for al franken, photos

Six female Democratic senators called Wednesday for Sen. Al Franken’s resignation, just hours after Politico published a report detailing how Franken tried to forcibly kiss a former Democratic congressional aide.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, California Sen. Kamala Harris, and Washington Sen. Patty Murray all called for Franken to resign.

Gillibrand, the first Senate Democrat to call for Franken’s resignation, wrote in a Facebook post that she was “shocked and disappointed” to have learned of his behavior, which include multiple allegations of groping and forcible kissing.

But, she wrote, “While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve.”

McCaskill was more direct: “Al Franken should resign,” she tweeted.

Franken denied the aide’s accusation Wednesday, telling Politico, “This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”

The aide is the seventh woman to accuse Franken of groping or forcible kissing. Radio news host Leeann Tweeden became the first woman to come forward in November, when she wrote an essay detailing how Franken kissed her against her will during a 2006 United Services Organization tour and published a photo of Franken groping her as she slept.

In a statement to VICE News at the time, Franken said, “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, suddenly retired Tuesday following the revelation last week that he’d settled a 2015 wrongful termination complaint by a former staffer. The staffer said she was fired after she refused to “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”

Today, I am calling on my colleague Al Franken to step aside. I’ve struggled with this decision because he’s been a good Senator and I consider him a friend. But that cannot excuse his behavior and his mistreatment of women. (thread)

Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and should not occur anywhere. I believe the best thing for Senator Franken to do is step down.



Eight Democratic senators call on Al Franken to resign after latest sexual misconduct allegation

  • Eight Democratic senators are urging Sen. Al Franken to resign amid sexual misconduct allegations.
  • The Minnesota Democrat vehemently denies the latest accusation against him — by a woman who says he tried to forcibly kiss her in 2006.
  • A Senate ethics investigation into Franken’s behavior is already taking place.

Senator Al Franken talks to the media outside his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 27, 2017.

Four Democratic senators call for Sen. Al Franken to resign  

Eight Democratic senators urged Sen. Al Franken to resign Wednesday following the latest sexual misconduct allegation against him.

A former Democratic congressional aide is accusing the Minnesota Democrat of forcibly trying to kiss her 11 years ago, Politico reported Wednesday, adding to a string of allegations against him.

In a statement before the calls for his resignation started, Franken denied the latest accusation against him. He had no immediate comment following the calls for him to step down.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., listens during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on several nominees on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017.

Bill Clark | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., listens during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on several nominees on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017.

In statements Wednesday, eight of Franken’s Democratic colleagues pushed for him to step down. Among them was Patty Murray of Washington, the third-ranking Senate Democrat and the highest ranking woman. Here are the Democrats, mostly women, who have called for him to step down:

In separate statements, the senators used words like “egregious” and “unacceptable” to describe Franken’s behavior.

The unidentifed former aide who spoke to Politico said the incident took place after a taping of Franken’s radio show, before he was a senator.

“‘It’s my right as an entertainer,'” the woman says Franken told her after she avoided his kiss.

In response to the latest allegation, Franken said: “This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”

Franken is among multiple members of Congress who have faced harassment accusations recently. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., stepped down Tuesday after more than 50 years in Congress following former staffers’ allegations of misconduct.

The push for Franken’s resignation also comes as ex-judge Roy Moore runs for Senate in Alabama amid allegations of sexual misconduct with teenagers when he was in his 30s decades ago.

Time magazine on Wednesday named “The Silence Breakers” — those who have come forward with their stories about being victims of pervasive sexual harassment — as 2017 Person of the Year.

Read the full Politico story here.

The Left Changes Its Mind on Bill Clinton

November 22, 2017

It isn’t clear what is causing Democrats to re-evaluate their support for the former president.

Monica Lewinsky meeting President Bill Clinton at a White House function, released by the House Judiciary Committee, Sept. 21, 1998.
Monica Lewinsky meeting President Bill Clinton at a White House function, released by the House Judiciary Committee, Sept. 21, 1998.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday became the latest liberal luminary to scurry away from Bill Clinton some 20 years too late.

“If it happened today there would have been a very different reaction,” said the mayor in reference to the White House sex scandal involving Mr. Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. “I don’t think you can rework history. I think if it happened today—if any president did that today—they would have to resign.”

The mayor’s comments follow those made last week by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who told the New York Times that she, too, now believes that Mr. Clinton should have resigned after his affair with Ms. Lewinsky was revealed. The senator used the “things have changed” explanation as well, then added that “in light of this conversation, we should have a very different conversation about President Trump, and a very different conversation about allegations against him.”

Put differently, Ms. Gillibrand wants Donald Trump held to a different standard than the one she and her fellow Democrats were willing to hold Bill Clinton to way, way back in the 1990s. Have the liberal politicians and journalists now changing their tune about Mr. Clinton grown a conscience, or do they merely want another pretext for attacking the current White House occupant? The political left had a teachable moment two decades ago and didn’t learn anything from it.

To be fair, some Democratic partisans know rank political opportunism when they see it and aren’t afraid to say so. “Senate voted to keep POTUS WJC,” tweeted Philippe Reines, a senior adviser to Mrs. Clinton when she was secretary of state. “But not enough for you @SenGillibrand? Over 20 yrs you took the Clintons’ endorsements, money, and seat. Hypocrite.” Much the same could be said about Mr. de Blasio, who served in the Clinton administration and managed Mrs. Clinton’s successful Senate run in 2000.

Besides the party affiliation of the current president, it isn’t clear what precisely has changed in the minds of people who want to re-evaluate their support for Mr. Clinton. Back in the 1990s, was it OK for a president to be fooling around with an intern? Was it OK for Mrs. Clinton to smear her husband’s accusers in an effort to cover up his serial tomcatting?

As far as Mrs. Clinton is concerned, nothing has changed. Asked about the current spate of sexual harassment charges against politicians, she defended her husband—“it was investigated fully, it was addressed at the time, he was held accountable”—along with Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, while slamming Mr. Trump and Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama. “Look at the contrast between Al Franken, accepting responsibility, apologizing, and Roy Moore and Donald Trump, who have done neither.”

If you want to know why that Senate special election contest remains so tight in deeply red Alabama, where Mr. Moore faces credible claims from multiple individuals that he’s had difficulty in the past keeping his hands off women in general and teenyboppers in particular, look no further than Mrs. Clinton’s remarks. Mr. Moore’s supporters are Mrs. Clinton’s “deplorables.” They’re those “bitter” people who Barack Obama said “cling to guns or religion.” Perhaps they don’t appreciate such condescension from the left and its media allies. Perhaps many of them bridle at the suggestion that they should hold Roy Moore to a higher standard than liberals held Bill Clinton.

Political hypocrisy is and always has been a bipartisan phenomenon. Mr. Trump faces more than a dozen accusations of sexual harassment and has been recorded bragging about his behavior. The GOP’s Never Trumpers maintained that the behavior of both Mr. Clinton and Mr. Trump was disqualifying. But there’s no shortage of Republican officials who criticized President Clinton’s antics and now want to give President Trump a pass out of political expediency. They want to treat the current president’s accusers like Hillary treated Bill’s. For shame.

Democrats have responded to the Franken allegations by calling for an ethics committee investigation, which is the surest sign that they want to slow-walk any inquiry. Mr. Franken is beloved by the Democratic donor class and one of his party’s most effective fundraisers. Few of his colleagues are eager to push him out the door, and an ethics committee investigation is a good way to keep him around for the foreseeable future.

The last time the committee took any serious action against a senator was in the 1990s, and it wasn’t in much of a hurry. In 1995 the ethics panel voted to expel Sen. Bob Packwood of Oregon, who’d been accused of sexually harassing some 19 women. On Tuesday, CBS fired Charlie Rose less than 24 hours after the Washington Post reported that several women had accused the veteran journalist of sexual misconduct. By contrast, the Senate investigation of Mr. Packwood took three years to complete.

Iran Nuclear Deal Is in Interests of U.S., Mattis Says

October 4, 2017

Defense chief backs deal criticized by Trump

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis PHOTO: ZACH GIBSON/BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON—Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told lawmakers Tuesday that he supports the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, even though President Donald Trump has called it “one of the worst and most one-sided” agreements ever made by the U.S.

At a hearing, Maine Sen. Angus King asked Mr. Mattis whether he thought the deal was in “our national security interest at the present time.” After a pause, Mr. Mattis replied: “Yes, senator, I do.”

He went on to say that he supports a “rigorous” administration review to determine whether Iran is living by the agreement and whether it is in the U.S. interest. “I believe, at this point in time, absent indications to the contrary, it is something the president should consider staying with,” he said.

Mr. Trump must certify to Congress whether Iran remains in compliance with the deal by an Oct. 15 deadline. Last week, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified that Iran is complying with the terms of the deal and that it had successfully “delayed Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.”

Mr. Trump repeatedly has criticized the deal for overlooking Iran’s missile development and regional military involvements, including its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also has said Iran has remained in technical compliance with the terms of the deal.

One Trump administration official said Tuesday that Mr. Mattis was “put on the spot” at the hearing and isn’t at odds with the president.

Mr. Mattis made his comments before the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing held to discuss U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. On that issue, members of the committee expressed frustration that the Pentagon had not given them details of the strategy, which Mr. Trump outlined in August.

Other senators asked why the latest strategy will work in a conflict that will enter its 16th year this week.

“In the six weeks since the president made his announcement, this committee and the Congress, more broadly, still does not know many of the crucial details of this strategy. This is totally unacceptable,” Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) the committee chairman, told Mr. Mattis and Gen. Dunford, who also testified before the committee. “We expect—indeed, we require—a regular flow of detailed information about this war.”

Committee members asked for details about how the U.S. strategy would drive the Taliban to a negotiated settlement, stop Pakistan from providing havens for extremist groups and how the Trump administration defines success.

Mr. Mattis spoke broadly about the strategy, saying any details should be revealed in private.

At one point, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) asked if Mr. Mattis would be “honest with the American people” about the number of troops deployed in America’s longest war.

“No, ma’am, if it involves telling the enemy something that will help them,” Mattis said.

Mr. Mattis said that the new strategy can succeed because the U.S. is no longer putting timelines on its presence in Afghanistan but rather it’s departure will be conditions based.

The Pentagon has said it would deploy roughly 3,900 additional U.S. troops largely to bolster the U.S. train and advise mission for Afghan troops. There are currently more than 11,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Mr. Mattis told the committee.

Write to Nancy A. Youssef at

Appeared in the October 4, 2017, print edition as ‘Defense Chief Says Iran Nuclear Deal Is in U.S. Interest.’