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October 10, 2016

Is supposedly "tough-on-crime" GOP Senator (and former federal prosecutor) Jeff Sessions actually not-so-tough on sexual assault?

The provocative question in the title of this post is my reaction to seeing these two new (right-leaning-source) stories about comments made last night by Alabama GOP Senator (and former US Attorney) Jeff Sessions:

From RedState here, "Senator Jeff Sessions Unsure Whether Grabbing Women by Their Genitals is Sexual Assault"

From the Weekly Standard here, "Jeff Sessions: Behavior Described by Trump in 'Grab Them by the P---y' Tape Isn't Sexual Assault"

One of many notable aspects of GOP Prez candidate Donald Trump's campaign has been the fact that his three most-prominent political surrogates are all former US Attorneys: Chris Christie was US Attorney for New Jersey from 2002 to 2008, Rudy Giuliani was US Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1983 to 1989, and Jeff Sessions was US Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama from 1981 to 1993.  I have long assumed that this notable troika of US Attorneys advising Trump has played a significant role in Trump's effort to brand himself as the "law-and-order" candidate.

As regular readers surely know, I often have a number of different perspectives on a number of crime and punishment issues than do many current and former US Attorneys.  As I also hope readers also realize, I always have had a significant amount of respect for the professional honesty and personal integrity of current and former US Attorneys.  But Senator Sessions' statements reported above (as well as some other actions by Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani in recent weeks and months) has really dealt a significant blow to my continued ability to have continued respect for the professional honesty and personal integrity of at least some former US Attorneys.

UPDATE: This local article reports on Senator Sessions' effort to clarify his remarks under the headline, "Sen. Jeff Sessions denies dismissing Trump's lewd video comments: 'Crystal clear' sexual assault unacceptable."

October 10, 2016 at 04:24 PM | Permalink


I have had clients over the years who have served various terms of imprisonment for sexually touching women without consent. They will be greatly comforted in knowing that what they were convicted of was not criminal at all.

Posted by: Michael R. Levine | Oct 10, 2016 4:47:14 PM

This post is tendentious as hell--look at the quote: "And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything." Piggish and misogynist. But it presupposes consent in the "let you do it."

Doug and Michael, please stop with the pearl-clutching.

And given the out and out flouting of the law by Hillary, I'm wondering your views on Loretta Lynch and BHO.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 10, 2016 5:04:54 PM

Federalist, greetings! I admit I am getting old, and you sent me to the dictionary for "pearl-clutching" I guess it means feigning indignation at something that is now commonplace? Younger folks, please correct me if I'm wrong. In any event, Federalist, you left something out of the quotation. What Trump said was "You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything." Forgive my ignorance, but isn't grabbing women "by the pussy" sexual assault? I repeat that several of my clients will be comforted in knowing that certain very tough, law and order, U.S. Attorneys think it is not. Perhaps they will write amicus briefs on the petitions for habeas corpus that are bound to follow.

Posted by: Michael R. Levine | Oct 10, 2016 5:26:32 PM

Federalist, Mr. Levine is talking about Jeff Sessions' (Trump's shill ex-U.S. Attorney) professed uncertainty about whether grabbing a woman by the "pussy" is sexual assault (which it obviously is). You counter argue " given the out and out flouting of the law by Hillary, I'm wondering your views on Loretta Lynch and BHO." Sounds to me as if you are deflecting--just the way Trump did in the debate last night. That kind of counter-argument doesn't work for Trump, and it doesn't work for you.

Posted by: Dave from Texas | Oct 10, 2016 5:33:08 PM

Mr. Levine, I think you have the definition just about right:

pearl-clutching. 1. adjective Scandalized or mortified about some event, situation, thing, etc., that was once salacious but is now relatively common; morally conservative, stuffy, prudish, or unfashionable.

Pearl-clutching - Idioms by The Free Dictionary

Posted by: Emily | Oct 10, 2016 5:35:33 PM

Mr. Levine, I think you're spot on. Here's one definition:

clutch (one's)/the pearls

To react in a scandalized or mortified manner to once-salacious but now relatively common things, events, situations, etc. Parents should try not to clutch the pearls every time their teenagers come out of their room dressed outrageously—it only makes them want to push the envelope even further. My mother would always clutch her pearls whenever I began telling her about a new boyfriend, so eventually I stopped filling her in altogether.
See also: clutch, pearl
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

Posted by: Heather | Oct 10, 2016 5:39:46 PM

Federalist, you charge the Professor and Mr. Levine with "pearl-clutching." I don't think so. Former model Jill Harth recently spoke to New York Times columnist Nick Kristoff about having felt victimized by Trump. She said Trump groped her under a table and grabbed her crotch during a trip to Palm Beach, Florida. “I didn’t know how to handle it. I would go away from him and say I have to go to the restroom. It was the escape route,” she told the Times. I don't know about your state, Federalist, but in many, Trump would get a mandatory five for grabbing Harth's crotch, or it "pussy?"

See also today's Huffington Port Article:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump flatly denied during the presidential debate on Sunday that he had ever engaged in the sort of aggressive sexual behavior he detailed during a 2005 taped conversation with Billy Bush, at the time an “Access Hollywood” host.

“Are you saying that ... you did not actually kiss women without consent or grope women without consent?” debate moderator Anderson Cooper asked, referring to what Trump can be heard saying in audio The Washington Post published Friday.

Trump stumbled, and Cooper repeated the question: “Have you ever done those things?”

“Women have respect for me, and I will tell you: No, I have not,” Trump replied, adding, “I’m going to make our country safe.”

Yet a review of legal records, investigative reporting and Trump’s own books reveal that the GOP nominee has behaved in precisely the way he denies ― kissing and groping women without their consent ― since at least the 1970s.

Below is a brief summary of what some women have reported about Trump.

In May, The New York Times quoted Temple Taggart, who had been a contestant in a Trump-owned beauty pageant.

“He kissed me directly on the lips,” the 1997 Miss Utah USA told the publication. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, gross.’ He was married to Marla Maples at the time. I think there were a few other girls that he kissed on the mouth. I was like ‘Wow, that’s inappropriate.’”

Trump refuted Taggart’s account, telling the Times that no such interaction had occurred ― and moreover, that he was reluctant to kiss strangers on the lips.

In the newly released tape, however, Trump can be heard saying just the opposite.

“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says before meeting a woman. “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

CNN host Erin Burnett reported a similar story last week, saying one of her friends described a nonconsensual kiss with the real estate mogul.

Burnett relayed what she said her friend had told her:

“Trump took Tic Tacs, suggested I take them also. He then leaned in, catching me off guard, and kissed me almost on lips. I was really freaked out. ... After (the meeting), Trump asked me to come into his office alone. Was really unsure what to do. ... Figured I could handle myself. Anyway, once in his office he kept telling me how special I am and gave me his cell, asked me to call him. I ran the hell out of there.”

Former model Jill Harth recently spoke to New York Times columnist Nick Kristoff about having felt victimized by Trump.

She said Trump groped her under a table and grabbed her crotch during a trip to Palm Beach, Florida. “I didn’t know how to handle it. I would go away from him and say I have to go to the restroom. It was the escape route,” she told the Times.

At the time, Harth and her then-boyfriend ran a pageant company that Trump was interested in forming a business partnership with. A subsequent lawsuit alleged that Trump also tried to have sex with a female friend of theirs, but that she fought him off.

But Harth’s description of Trump grabbing her by the crotch reads like a near-exact account of the kind of behavior Trump bragged about in the 11-year-old tape released Friday.

“When you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump can be heard telling Bush. “You can do anything. ... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Trump and his presidential campaign have denied the allegations made by Harth, Taggart, Burnett’s source and other women who have complained about Trump’s behavior in the workplace.

This list includes a number of former contestants and staffers on Trump’s hit NBC reality show “The Apprentice,” who were quoted anonymously in a recent Associated Press story describing what they called Trump’s lewd and often demeaning treatment of women.

USA Today on Sunday published a story detailing more than 20 lawsuits alleging Trump and his companies of mistreating women ― with cases spanning more than 40 years.

Pearl-clutching? I don't thinks so. Trump is a sexual predator Lock him up.

Posted by: anon12 | Oct 10, 2016 5:49:21 PM

Federalist, it appears to me that Donald Trump is no different from Cosby: a man who uses his celebrity, status, power and money to take advantage of women and satisfy his sexual obsessions; in short, a serial sex offender, and a particularly odious one at that. I agree with anon12. Lock him up.

Posted by: anon11 | Oct 10, 2016 6:02:18 PM

Politics demeans some people, be it those in the defense community or those who were once US attorneys. Conservatives surely know enough about human nature to know that as do non-conservatives. But, I think Doug Berman is a bit tongue in cheek since so does he.

Conservatives should know that as noted at PrawfsBlawg, additional write-ins are not possible in many states at this late date, plus various states won't let you write-in someone already on a ticket (e.g., "Pence"). OTOH, Evan McMullin is either on the ballot or able to be written in many places -- over 30 at this point. For those keeping their options open and like Ron Paul don't like Gary Johnson that much.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 10, 2016 6:23:12 PM

I liked Robert De Niro's viewpoint of Trump better.


Posted by: frank | Oct 10, 2016 7:03:02 PM

Sessions is a clod, a hypocrite, and a Trump shill from Alabama, which gives conservatives worldwide a bad name. He's about as bad as Trump, but actually wields political power.

And Federalist can't seem to avoid personalizing just about every post he makes on here.

Posted by: Fat Bastard | Oct 10, 2016 8:48:45 PM

Doug, there's a remarkable similarity between Donald Trump's attitude toward women and, ironically, the statement from the jury deliberation in tomorrow's SCOTUS argument in Pena-Rodriguez. One of the two statements at the heart of the case is "Mexican men had a bravado that caused them to believe they could do whatever they want with women."

Should be an interesting oral argument. Actually, I will follow Pena-Rodriguez closely since I have a case I'm certing up to the Court of Appeals dealing with a prejudicial statement made by jurors during deliberation.


Posted by: bruce cunningham | Oct 10, 2016 10:06:11 PM

Ah, the classic bait and switch. We were originally talking about Trump's crude locker-room braggadocio. Now we're talking about actions.

If Trump, without consent, had grabbed some woman's crotch, then, by all means prosecute him. But calling him a Cosby? Um, no.

So now, I assume all of you will look at Hillary's actions regarding all of the women who have credibly alleged sexual misconduct by Bill Clinton. So what do you think about that Doug?

Posted by: federalist | Oct 11, 2016 7:42:19 AM

I think, federalist, that Donald Trump and Bill Clinton are cut largely from the same lothario misogynist cloth, and I have long been deeply disappointed by those persons who claim to be concerned about misogyny providing cover/support for Bill Clinton and all his enablers (which includes Hillary). Indeed, I have angered many persons by calling them out for their defense of both Clintons (and others) on this front.

That said, the reason I did this post is because it seems that a number of reputable RIGHT-leaning sources interpreted the comments by Sen Sessions as an effort to deny that, in the words of the Weekly Standard headline, the BEHAVIOR described by Trump does not qualify as sexual assault. That kind of comment --- seeking to deny that plainly unlawful behavior may not be a certain type of crime --- struck me as particularly disconcerting coming from an elected official who is an aggressive "tough-on-crime" advocate.

For me the most enduring story, especially as we reflect on the realities of Bill Clinton and Donald Trump and Bill Cosby, is that "rich/powerful male privilege" still provides enduring cover for certain men to conduct themselves (and later get away with such conduct) in ways that hurt many women.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 11, 2016 9:41:33 AM

Doug, you're dissembling.

First of all, you ragged on Rudy etc.--but is he really supposed to look at a locker-room boast and deduce that Trump actually committed assault? And as for Sessions, once again, it's an attempt to create an issue where there's none--Trump, it seems to me, was half-serious and was bragging--to turn that into a hypothetical of an unwanted touching seems a stretch and not remotely fair.

This is pearl-clutching.

Second, you may have said some things about Bill Clinton, but I don't see quite the vituperation. Have you lost respect for Hillary for trashing people like Juanita Broadderick? Have you lost respect for Loretta Lynch for meeting with Bill Clinton? Have you lost respect for the DoJ due to the kid glove treatment of Hillary's email investigation? No. But you'll look at a lockerroom boast and yammer about non-pitch perfect answers to tendentious hypos.

You know what's funny--I take on all comers in here--I debate on everyone's turf and I don't come out worse for wear. My answers aren't filibusters, nor are they a miasma of words and endless pivoting. That, in my view, than each and every one of your liberal commenters. Of course, debating is easy when one is right.

Democrats basically have lost every right to whine about Trump's comment. They, without comment, shared a stage with Al Sharpton who called a rape victim beaten to within an inch of her life a "whore." No Dem said a word. Hillary has met the guy, and said not a word. But now a hot-miked comment brings out the scolds--s'il vous plait, donnez-moi un moment de repos.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 11, 2016 10:11:38 AM

I'd say rather than using the term pearl-clutching, this sounds more like ball-clutching as far as Trump and federalist are concerned.

Posted by: frank | Oct 11, 2016 2:18:23 PM

It never ceases to amaze and amuse me that you accuse me of "dissembling" by mischaracterizing what I say and what I post. First, I did not "rag" on Rudy concerning Trump's hot-mike 2005 comment, rather I referenced "other actions" recently by Rudy that has reduced my respect for him. As for Sessions, I was not here "attempt[ing] to create an issue where there's none"; I was reporting that two right-leaning sources were assailing his post-debate comments and then noted the interesting professional history of Trump's leading prominent political supporters.

I get that you federalist want all comments to be about attacking the Dems you dislike. Fine, and for the record, I often enjoy beating up on Dems too, when justified (e.g., you should hear me rail on Ohio Ds based on their choices for Gov and US Senate in last two big state-wide elections). In addition, I share your perspective that many Dems have been robust and persistent hypocrites when it comes to sexual misbehavior and Bill Clinton (a person for whom, if you care, I have long disrespected and will always disrespect more than Trump). And my deep disaffinity for Bill Clinton grew when he met with Loretta Lynch, and my sense was Bill kind of ambushed her. Moreover, my anti-Bill views make it soooooo hard for me to feel comfortable voting for HRC.

As for HRC on her own merits, her affinity for lies and cover-ups has garnered my disrespect. But I am not aware of examples of her "trashing people like Juanita Broadderick." I know Broadderick interpreted a single "thanks" statement as a threat, but that always struck me, to use your words, as "a stretch and not remotely fair." I do think it fair to attack HRC for permitting/enabling her husband's lothario misogynist activities, and that is yet another reason I wish both major parties had provided much better options for voters like me this time around.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 11, 2016 2:41:55 PM

I am entirely with Federalist in this matter. The fact that this incident by Trump more than a decade ago is even relevant to our political discourse is yet more evidence of the decline and decay of American cultural life.

Posted by: Daniel | Oct 11, 2016 2:46:03 PM

Doug, I'm a little baffled by your criticism. You lumped in Giuliani, Christie and Sessions. You'll note I omitted Christie--Bridgegate, 'nuff said. With respect to Giuliani, all I did was to ask what could he have said in response. I don't believe that I said that you criticized him for Trump, although you mentioned him as a Trump supporter in the context of Trump's comment. I probably should have been a little more clear--although it should be somewhat obvious that I differentiated the two.

But you fail to answer a few questions:

(1) Is Sessions really condoning sexual assault, given the full context of the Trump comment (and, by the way, Trump's denial)?

(2) Shouldn't Dems generally be tested for Berman respect based on whether they defend (or remain mute about) HRC's trashing of the various women who have made allegations of sexual misconduct against Bill Clinton?

(3) I see you say that you've lost respect for Bill Clinton over the Lynch meeting, but isn't Lynch the sitting AG? And isn't she responsible for the FBI barring pictures of the meeting? So why haven't you lost respect for Loretta Lynch for the meeting? I don't think that the "ambush" excuse flies--do you?

(4) Do Dems really have the right to whine about Trump and his comment given the Dems' embrace of the foul Al Sharpton who called the Central Park Jogger a "whore."

(5) And what of the highly unusual grants of immunity and ground rules for the Clinton email investigation---you ok with those? Would ordinary people get that treatment?

(6) Isn't it problematic for Lynch/Obama that Obama lied about when he knew about Hillary's server?

You take a weak shot at Sessions, but are hardly exercised about the deep issues presented by recent events.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 11, 2016 7:26:37 PM

federalist, you raise a host of good questions, but only #1 is germane to my post and it again mistakes the point of this post. This post sought to highlight that right-leaning publications were quick to assail a GOP "tough on crime" stalwart for sounding dumb and contrary to his oft-stated commitments when trying to defend/deflect lousy Trump comments. The same foolish behavior has also been displayed at times when Rudy and Christie try to defend/deflect lousy Trump comments.

I do not think anyone really believes Sessions means to or wants to condone sexual assault, and I certainly do not think that is the point of the articles linked here. Rather, again, the point is that people look really bad when they seek to defend rather than condemn that which ought to be condemned.

I will try to briefly answer all you other points, federalist, by stressing that there is much to criticize in the conduct and comments of the Clintons and other Dems who defend rather than condemn that which ought to be condemned (such as soooo much of Bill's sexual behavior and HRC's lies). And I am plenty exercised about the cover-up that has surrounded HRC's emails, although this fiasco still pales for me in comparison to Slick Willie lying to Americans and under oath about fooling around with an intern in the Oval Office. And, after being encouraged that GWB and BHO and their lovely families had returned some measure of personal moral integrity to the White House, it seems we are presented a choice this time around from the major parties that ensures the moral sewage will flow anew through "our" house.

Also, to speak to one last issue on #5: all folks of power and privilege, on both the left and the right, benefit in ways that "ordinary people" do not. In the arena of criminal justice, Scooter Libby and Elliot Spitzer and Judge Jack Camp are just a few names that come to mind if we just want to go back a few years. I would have time to write about nothing else if I focused on the special treatment that special people so often get in the system.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 12, 2016 6:48:03 AM

Scooter Libby---one wonders if justice was really served in that case . . . . the prosecution was far more aggressive than the Clinton emails.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 12, 2016 9:17:53 AM

Doug, you say that BHO has personal moral integrity---what sort of person with moral integrity lies directly to military families:


Where are all the Dems to utterly condemn this lie?

Posted by: federalist | Oct 12, 2016 11:43:02 AM

I find this thread illuminating. Doug posits that he has lost respect for Sessions because, it seems that Sessions didn't give a pitch perfect answer to what appears to be locker room type boasting. Like I said, pearl-clutching.

Putting aside the minor dispute about whether I said that he lost respect for Giuliani based on the recent Donald quote (I didn't, but I admit I could have been a little clearer, although I thought I was clear enough.) Let's look at where we are--Doug Berman has lost respect for Sessions whose transgressions seem very minor---but not for Loretta Lynch who meet with Bill Clinton when his wife was being "investigated"--after all Clinton "ambushed" her. Really Doug? Sessions is worthy of criticism and Lynch is worthy of a defense?

Now let's look at Doug's "privileged" response. Yeah, all those guys (let's include Berger) appear to have gotten a break (other than Scooter), but none of them are running for President. No one thinks those guys are qualified. So, yes or no, do you think that the distortion of the justice system on behalf of Hillary disqualifies her? And what about Loretta Lynch--she seems to have helped that---is that remotely ok? And where are the Dems? They defend this. This, compared to Sessions' comments, seem a lot worse---but none of them get a peep of criticism here.

And no we have the four pinocchio quote from your president, Barack Obama, to a widow of a veteran who was killed by VA indifference. Is Trump's "pussy" comment remotely close to as evil as that? Of course not, but you've vouched for Obama's morality-- care to revise your assessment?

Posted by: federalist | Oct 12, 2016 7:59:44 PM

federalist, you are remarkably eager yet again to mischaracterize and then attack based on the mischaracterization. Where did I assert "Lynch is worthy of a defense" for the Bill Clinton meeting? I merely noted my sense that Clinton was "the aggressor" (so to speak). And this post was not meant as a discussion of either Trump or Hillary as being disqualified to be Prez based on past behavior. I have very little respect for either of them, and I sincerely wish the major parties provided better choices. But, despite your eagerness to discuss anything but what this post was about, I still think it notable that two right-leaning publications thought it worthy of criticism how Senator Sessions talked about the Trump tape.

As for BHO, he is your Prez, too, even if you did not vote for him. And I stand by my statement that both GWB and BHO and their lovely families have a greater "measure of personal moral integrity" than either of the major party candidates seeking to live in the White House. I surmise you disagree, but it often seems you consider any and every member of the GOP to be more virtuous than any and every Dem. So be it, and I know plenty of party-line Dems who make like judgments based solely on their views of the parties. But for me, there is so much more to my personal moral judgments and my feelings of respect than just party affiliation.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 12, 2016 10:03:42 PM

Federalist, you wrote above, "f Trump, without consent, had grabbed some woman's crotch, then, by all means prosecute him. But calling him a Cosby? Um, no." Well, apparently he is a Cosby as the following online article suggests:

More Women Come Forward With Donald Trump Groping Allegations
Trump says his boasts of sexual assault were just talk. These women say it happened to them.
10/12/2016 07:44 pm ET | Updated 10 minutes ago

Mollie Reilly Deputy Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

Four women came forward Wednesday night with allegations of Donald Trump sexually assaulting them.

The New York Times began the wave of accounts with a bombshell report on two women, Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks, who say Trump groped them. Both had told close friends of being assaulted by Trump, but neither had gone public with their story until Wednesday. A third woman, Mindy McGillivray, also accused Trump of groping her in a story published by the The Palm Beach Post shortly after the Times article appeared. And later Wednesday, People writer Natasha Stoynoff said Trump had attempted to force himself on her while she was interviewing him.

Three of the alleged incidents happened in the early to mid-2000s, while one was 30 years ago. Two occurred at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s estate in South Florida. All four paint a disturbing picture of a man who 11 years ago was recorded boasting he can sexually assault women at will because of his fame.

Leeds, now 74, said she was seated next to Trump on an airplane three decades ago when the businessman grabbed her breasts and attempted to reach up her skirt.

“He was like an octopus,” she told the Times. “His hands were everywhere.”

Crooks, who was working as a receptionist for a firm located in Trump Tower in 2005, said she met Trump outside an elevator in the building. According to Crooks, Trump shook her hand and would not let go, and then started kissing her on the mouth.

Trump’s senior communications adviser, Jason Miller, called the Times article “fiction” and appeared to accuse the newspaper of plotting on behalf of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“For the New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous,” Miller said in a statement. He added: ”It is absurd to think that one of the most recognizable business leaders on the planet with a strong record of empowering women in his companies would do the things alleged in this story, and for this to only become public decades later in the final month of a campaign for president should say it all.”

Trump himself vehemently denied the allegations in an interview with the Times. He threatened to sue the paper if it published the story and called a Times reporter a “disgusting human being.”

“I don’t do it. I don’t do it,” he told the paper of his remarks about groping women on a 2005 recording that was released Friday. “It was locker room talk.”

McGillivray, the Florida woman who spoke to The Palm Beach Post, said Trump groped her at his Mar-a-Lago resort in 2003.

“This was a pretty good nudge. More of a grab,” McGillivray told the paper. “It was pretty close to the center of my butt. I was startled. I jumped.’”

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied McGillivray’s allegations.

On People.com, Stoynoff detailed a 2005 trip to Mar-a-Lago to interview Trump. Trump took the reporter on a tour of the Florida estate, and stopped in one room he said she had to see.

“We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat,” she wrote.

The Washington Post on Friday published the 2005 recording in which Trump boasted of kissing women without their consent and grabbing them “by the pussy.” The recording upended the presidential campaign and many people, including Vice President Joe Biden, pointed out that Trump’s brag constituted sexual assault.

Asked about the tape during Sunday’s debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump denied sexually abusing anyone.

“Women have respect for me, and I will tell you: No, I have not,” Trump replied when asked by moderator Anderson Cooper if he had actually done the things he talked about in the recording.

Trump has been repeatedly accused of groping women, with allegations dating back decades. Temple Taggart, a contestant in a Trump-owned beauty pageant, said earlier this year he kissed her on the mouth without her consent in 1997. CNN’s Erin Burnett recounted a similar story last week about a friend who said Trump tried to kiss her during a meeting in 2010.

“Trump took Tic Tacs, suggested I take them also,” Burnett said her friend told her. “He then leaned in, catching me off guard, and kissed me almost on lips. I was really freaked out.”

Cassandra Searles, who was crowned Miss Washington in a Trump-owned contest in 2013, wrote on Facebook earlier this year that Trump had “continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room.”

Trump’s ex-wife, Ivana, also accused the hotel magnate of raping her in a divorce deposition. She later backtracked on that claim, but said she felt “violated” while having sex with her then-husband.

And Jill Harth, a former model, said Trump groped her under a table and attempted to force himself on her at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Trump has denied these allegations.

In the wake of Wednesday’s allegations, the Trump campaign plans to amplify attacks on former President Bill Clinton, telling Bloomberg the campaign has found women who say they were assaulted by the former president.

“We’re going to turn him into Bill Cosby,” said campaign CEO Steve Bannon, according to Bloomberg.

“This disturbing story sadly fits everything we know about the way Donald Trump has treated women,” said Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri. “These reports suggest that he lied on the debate stage and that the disgusting behavior he bragged about in the tape are more than just words.”

Federalist, what say you now?

Posted by: anon12 | Oct 12, 2016 11:37:14 PM

anon12, I'd say the timing is suspicious, but that I don't reject the charges out of hand. What else do you want? I will note that the charges are less credible than Juanita Broadderick's.

Doug: Your comment that Bill ambushed Lynch sure seemed like a defense to me. Lynch's meeting completely undermines the confidence in DoJ to any neutral observer (coupled, of course, with the FBI telling people they couldn't film the meeting--um, what??). And you have nothing to say--other than she was "ambushed". But you'll bring up a non-pitch perfect response from Sessions?

With respect to BHO, he ceased being my President the day Musa Ali Daqduq was released from custody. But it is very interesting to me--a military widow whose husband was killed by the indifference of the VA was given a four Pinocchio answer by the Obama. Let that sink in Doug. And not only that--this is a guy, when it suited his political ends, touted the "sacred bond" between the commander-in-chief and the military. And you still say he's got outstanding integrity? Seriously? And what about all the sycophants? You guys good with this?

Posted by: federalist | Oct 13, 2016 10:28:05 AM

And Doug, there's no basis to suggest that I play it nothing but straight when it comes to moral judgments---if so, please point to one.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 13, 2016 10:29:34 AM

Let's keep it simple, federalist, so I can assess readily your moral compass: who do you consider more moral, Obama or Trump?

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 13, 2016 12:58:17 PM

Well, first of all, I despise Donald Trump. Second, Obama is POTUS, not Trump, and so we've never seen Trump in a similar position. Obama is a moral pygmy for a lot of reasons, and I doubt you can find a quote of his that approaches the studied evil of lying to the face of a widowed vet.

I also don't know certain things that would inform my judgment---did Obama know that Haitian criminals would be loosed on America as a result of his no deportation to Haiti policy?

Also, what kind of human being would yammer about bringing about racial harmony but then make All Sharpton his go to guy on civil rights?

They both are immoral. Maybe Trump would be worse---he hasn't been given the keys to the kingdom.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 13, 2016 8:03:48 PM

a quote of Trump's

Posted by: federalist | Oct 13, 2016 8:18:03 PM

A whole lot of words without a clear answer to the simple. question, federalist. Reading your miasma of words, I think you are answering Trump, but I try hard to avoid mischaracterization of the views of others. So I will ask a simple clear question again hoping this time to get a simple clear answer:

Who do you consider more moral, federalist, Obama or Trump?

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 14, 2016 6:34:09 AM

I answered the question--I don't know. I don't have all the facts, and I don't what Trump would be like if he were the most powerful guy in the world.

I am NOT answering Trump---Trump's failings (Trump University for one) are well-known and numerous--so I didn't see the need to repeat them here. Obama, despite being POTUS, is not judged as he should be. I suspect in everyday life, Trump is far more immoral. I suspect, as President, Obama would suffer in an honest comparison if Trump ever gets the keys to the kingdom.

I see how badly you want to avoid rendering judgment on Obama's four Pinocchio answer to the widow of a military guy killed by the indifference of the VA, particularly after Obama has yammered about the "sacred bond." Also, it's not like the VA scandal is some obscure thing and Obama was caught off guard--this has been an issue for years, and so Obama is thoroughly familiar with the facts.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 14, 2016 9:50:29 AM

Ah, federalist, now you turn into a (Clinton-esque?) evader by saying you need more information to answer this simple question. Still, I read your latest miasma of words as saying: (1) in private life, "Trump is far more immoral" than Obama, but (2) you expect a Prez Trump would be more moral than Prez Obama.

This strikes me as the clearest proof that your moral judgments about people/politicians are, as I said, driven by party affiliation. Otherwise why would you expect the "far more immoral" person in private life (Trump) would become somehow more moral when taking office UNLESS it is their party/political commitments.

Please understand, federalist, I am not asserting you are misguided or in some way bad for having your moral compass about people/politicans (and judges) extremely influenced by political/party affiliations. The vast majority of people I know have their moral compass about people/politicans (and judges) actors extremely influenced by political/party affiliations. But that is not how my moral compass works (and that is why I am very eager to assert to the chagrin of many of my liberal pals that, e.g., I consider Bush-family elected officials based on what I know about them to be a more moral group than Clinton-family elected officials.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 14, 2016 10:37:34 AM

First of all, I don't see how this is a miasma of words. I don't know how I can say it more clearly--I loathe Donald Trump, and I think he's a thoroughly immoral guy in his personal life and business dealings. But comparing him to Obama, who is POTUS and 8 years of seeing his public morality? That's a tall order to do thoughtfully--so your "a-ha" is nothing more than BS.

As atrocious as I think Donald Trump is, it's hard for me to believe that he, as Commander-in-Chief, would give a four Pinocchio answer to a grieving military widow. It's hard for me to believe that anyone would do it--but Obama did do it. It's also hard for me to believe that someone would trash his own grandmother, but Obama did ("typical white person.") I don't say that Trump couldn't do things like this as POTUS (or running for POTUS)--I do say that the first thing is profoundly evil and callous, and a lack of temerity alone would dissuade most people (even bad guys like Trump) from doing something like that. That is a fair basis for saying that I suspect that Obama's POTUS morality may be worse than a hypothetical Trump's.

That isn't Clintonian--it's forthright. And I suspect that you know that the four Pinocchio answer shows that the person you voted for twice (Obama) is a disgrace. That's why you're attacking me and trying to trap me. It's pretty obvious.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 14, 2016 11:45:35 AM

federalist, it is telling you find my effort to assess how party/politics impact your moral judgments to be an "attack" or "trap." I just want to better understand your moral metrics. If you do not want me to better understand your views, you can leave this space --- like Tarls did when I tried to better understand why he thought 95% of commentors here "hate Amerikkka." But I sincerely appreciate your continued effort to explain your moral views.

I had thought/hoped I could better understand your moral metrics through a simple answer to a simple question: do you consider Obama or Trump more moral. But you have now written 10+ paragraphs in response, and I am still unsure of your answer. Trying to simplify your miasma of words, I think this is your nuanced answer to my simple question:

federalist believes (1) in private/everyday life, "Trump is far more immoral" than Obama, but (2) Prez Trump would likely be more moral when in the Oval Office than Prez Obama has been.

So, a couple of questions that can help me now: (A) have I fairly described your answer to my simple question, and (B) if so, what is the basis/reason for your belief that the "far more immoral" everyday Trump would become the more moral one if/when he becomes Prez?

Again, federalist, I am not trying to trap or attack you, it just helps me to have you explain/confirm your views. I try really, really hard not to mischaracterize or misconstrue the actions and thoughts of others, especially when I have a forum enabling further explanation. So I hope you will confirm that I understand your nuanced answer to my simple question, and if so, then explain the basis/reason for thinking the "far more immoral" everyday Trump would become the more moral one if/when he becomes Prez.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 14, 2016 1:11:11 PM

Oh good grief. I have tried to explain--let me try again, and there's nothing in anything I've written that isn't crystal clear.

I don't know either man (thankfully), and hence it is incredibly difficult to compare two people, not similarly situated in terms of morality. Starting from that point, I noted that Obama is POTUS and Trump is not, and hence "morality" doesn't really mean the same thing for the two--in ordinary interpersonal relationships, my guess is that Obama is the more moral guy--although the grandma trashing thing gives me pause.

However, there's Obama's record as POTUS (and Senator and state elected official). And it's hard to know what Trump would do in those situations since he hasn't been there, and often people are really different. Notwithstanding the depths to which Trump has shown he will plunge---I find it incredibly difficult to believe that he would actually give the widow of a vet killed by VA indifference a four Pinocchio answer. Maybe I am naïve, but I think it's wrong to ascribe to someone that level of wrongdoing. And so, and coupled with some other Obama things (e.g., his fighting the BAIPA), I conclude that Obama's "public morality" for lack of a better term, may be worse than a hypothetical Donald Trump's.

The trap, by the way, I was referring to is the "a-ha" conclusion that ideology drives my assessment of morality. My sense is that is a far worse problem on the "D" side--the Ds lionized Ted Kennedy. 'Nuff said.

I don't know how I can explain myself any better. I find both Obama and Trump distasteful from a moral standpoint. And a hypothetical Trump vs. actual Obama as POTUS, from a moral standpoint, um hard to say. Like I said, yapping about a "sacred bond" when it suited his base political ends and then giving a four Pinocchio answer to a widow of a dead vet on an issue that he had every opportunity to get right. Do you think Trump would do such a thing?

You know that the four Pinocchio answer shows that the guy you voted for twice is a disgrace. Hence your weak attempt to try to undercut my assessment.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 14, 2016 5:13:44 PM

I do not view Obama as a disgrace, federalist, and his dumb statement you keep harping on pales in comparison to so much of what Trump has said and done on the birther issue alone. Indeed, the fact you are so very eager to harp on that comment is still more proof that your favorite thing to do is beat on Dems and defends GOP folks like Sessions due to you strong partisan bias.

Having a partisan bias is fine, but be honest and own it. Your effort to contend that your partisan commitments do not color your views, which leads you to think Trump might get so much more moral as Prez when the evidence suggests obviously otherwise, is comical in many ways. I get you think Dems are worse in this respect, and I largely agree in the Kennedy/Clinton era. Put the fact that others may have their moral compass even more shaped by party than you is not any kind of evidence that your moral judgments are free of party bias. And all you statements here about 'rats is itself such an obvious part of the story.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 14, 2016 5:55:38 PM

More later---with respect to Sessions--seriously? He doesn't come out with a pitch-perfect statement, and you're all over him? That looks a lot like partisan bias, particularly since you didn't spill a whole lot of ink over the appalling optics of Lynch meeting with Bill Clinton--Doug, that sort of thing starkly calls the DoJ into disrepute---it's tangible evidence of a rigged system. And it's not like that's the first problem for Obama's DoJ. Compare your silence to that (in an area in your bailiwick) and you're going to pearl-clutch over Sessions' statement? Seriously???

Wow. Like I said, more later.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 14, 2016 6:20:21 PM


In this thread, I rag hard on Judge Sutton. (There was another one that I couldn't find quickly on his Mitts concurrence in en banc denial.)

You'll note also--when I talk in terms of 'rats, I almost always back it up with cogent argument.

Like I said, more to come.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 14, 2016 6:26:43 PM

I was not "all over" Sessions, rather I flagged that respectable right-oriented commentators were noting how foolish he can sound when trying to go to bat for partisan reasons in defense of Trump. And you know I go after Obama and DOJ and many others when I see them saying what I view as stupid sentencing stuff. And, the very fact that you brand so many as 'rat judges is itself a mark of your party-based judgments.

You do sometimes go after other judges --- such as your foolishly persistent attack on Kennedy based on your misrepresentation of a line in his Plata opinion. But your manner and rhetoric when bashing Obama, as well as a comical suggestion that tiger Trump might change his moral stripes in the Oval Office, makes it plan to see how partisan glasses color your world even if you might be eager here or in you own mind to deny that obvious reality. At the very least, though, it has led Tarls to think you do not hate Amerca even though you hate ithe current and likely future Prez Americans have been voting into office.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 14, 2016 8:15:06 PM

"I am entirely with Federalist in this matter. The fact that this incident by Trump more than a decade ago is even relevant to our political discourse is yet more evidence of the decline and decay of American cultural life."

"This incident" is relevant since it is not a one-off, but reflective of his overall character and actions with women. His response -- dissembling and then blaming the HUSBAND of his challenger is pretty telling too. People care in this country if candidates have misogynistic characters, especially when there are repeated evidence now of bad actions too. They care more now than they did in 1992 too.

If Clinton had Trump's lack of experience and all the rest, had similar replies AND multiple cases of not mere adulterous affairs but the bad conduct not involving consensual behavior came out, he very well could have had comparable problems. He did not though; you can find his behavior hypocritical, but he knew enough not do the things Trump is doing now. Politics involves knowing how to play the game and handling people with some degree of respect and care that Trump does not provide. So, it matters.

Nothing new there either -- you think the tabloid antics of Trump wouldn't of mattered in the past? Candidates were supposed to have a degree of public character there, even if behind the scenes they were cheating on their spouses etc. Clinton however was hurt by his character flaws too and he made his bed there, in part by appealing to modern culture including playing an instrument t.v. like a Blues Brother.

Doug B. tosses in at one point that "will always disrespect more than Trump" in respect to Clinton. Clinton, the guy who has some ability to follow basic norms of public figures. Some restraint. Some ability to admit when he's wrong. Isn't trying to win an office he simply is unqualified on a basic level. I can go on. Why? Because Clinton has various qualities you disdain including the incident with Lynch? The fact he is open to criticism in various respects doesn't change Trump's problems. I figure part of the Trump problem is some inability to control himself. But, if that is an "excuse," it is (as far as one would use it, blah) applicable to Clinton. And, given his biography, he has a bit more mitigation than the privileged life Trump started out with.

This attempt to prove his "I'm not some left lover" bona fides is a lost cause given his sparring partner at any rate.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 14, 2016 11:13:20 PM

Joe, Bill Clinton committed the most selfish of acts in the Oval Office while Prez and then lied to everyone and under oath(!) once caught. (Even Nixon arguably could believe in his own mind that his misdeeds were for the good of the nation; Clinton could never even claim as much and so he tried the cover-up route AND then essentially required all Ds to go to bat for him after he lied to everyone and under oath about his selfish act). This sequence of events is why I will always disrespect Bill Clinton more than any major political figure I can think of (though the ilk of Elliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner perhaps can give him a modern run for his misogynistic selfishness).

The key to my disaffinity for Slick Willie is a unique kind of personal selfishness and lawbreaking while serving in the highest public office. Among the reasons I worry about Prez Trump is because he likewise has shown a tendency toward personal selfishness in his private life, and I suspect that character tendency will continue if he gets into public office. And this is not an effort to show I am not a "left lover," but rather an effort to simply call out what I consider the worst (and least defensible) moral crap --- personal selfishness and lawbreaking while in the Oval Office --- I have seen in my lifetime.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 15, 2016 7:30:35 AM

This is not about Bill Clinton being a good person but companions.

Reference was made to "the most selfish of acts in the Oval Office." He had a sexual affair with an adult. I can imagine "more selfish" acts than that. Him lying about it is also not great, but again far from the more reprehensible act imaginable especially given the exaggerated & yes hypocritical (especially given the acts of various leading Republicans) response.

This is the "lawbreaking" we are talking about? George Bush personally might be a better person in various respects (though signs of him being an asshole there even if he was nice to his family etc. also can be found) but torture etc. seems worse on the despicable meter. Trump has repeated instances of harm in his business dealings that hurt lots of people. Around ten women have come out, and that's just those willing to bare publicity etc., about what he did to them. Not just consensual sex. A few women accused Clinton of that too (one case from the '70s with hard to judge as a whole involve rape allegations), but they at least offset.

And, Trump in no way compensates in positive ways as Bill Clinton does in his public role, including post-presidential charity work. You can criticize Clinton all you want. It is saying he is WORSE than Trump, who has all of that (and in no way is their evidence his level of self-restraint would stop while in the Oval Office) and more. It is not that Bill Clinton's actions were simply ignored. Al Gore if anything might have arguably lost by distancing himself from Clinton in 2000. And, he's just one example. So, there is some overcorrection here even if it is just to keep Dems honest.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 16, 2016 1:51:00 PM

Joe, against a backdrop of a significant history of adultery and sexual misconduct, Prez Clinton had sex with a subordinate over whom he had considerable power at his workplace. He then lied to the American people about this AND lied under oath (which is a federal crime and the reason he was disbarred). We can all "imagine" more selfish acts, but can you give any example of a more selfish series of behaviors by a sitting Prez? Say what you want about Nixon, but I suspect at least in his mind he thought all his actions/misdeeds were for the good of the nation. Can you tell any story that even suggests Bill Clinton could have thought his affair in the Oval office and then lying to the American people about this AND lying under oath was for the good of the country? Further still, Nixon had the moral character to resign rather than drag the nation through his political mud; Bill Clinton, in contrast, seemed to enjoy taking the nation on a muddy ride through his personal sewer despite having indisputably broken a federal criminal law (perjury) while serving as Prez.

As for torture, the Israelis are willing to do it, and GWBush had a legal memo saying it was lawful to do what he authorized. And, again, I have every reason to believe GWBush made the waterboarding decision with the good of the American people on his mind, not his own selfish interest in getting some nookie with a subordinate and then covering it up no matter what it did to the nation's politics and polity. In addition, other than (1) make himself and his family VERY rich and VERY powerful through a self-serving foundation, and (2) require Ds to continue to license immoral AND ILLEGAL behavior in the White House, I am not so sure Bill Clinton has done so much all that great since he served as Prez UNLESS you let your own political bias shape your views.

I have no idea what Trump might do as Prez, and I hope we do not have to find out. But I do know Bill Clinton should have long been facing the kind of moral/political attacks that Trump is now getting, and all those who refuse to see their sexual misconduct history as quite similar are plainly influenced, at least in part, by partisan biases. Like I said to federalist, I have no problem with partisan biases --- most people have them, myself included a bit, though I try really hard to be aware of them and admit their influence -- but I think it very valuable to encourage people to own their biases rather than deny how they shape their opinions.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 16, 2016 6:21:26 PM

"You do sometimes go after other judges --- such as your foolishly persistent attack on Kennedy based on your misrepresentation of a line in his Plata opinion."

Really Doug? Turning bland, pro forma statements that overcrowding increases recidivism into evidence that releasing overcrowding-hardened criminals from prison will improve public safety--only appellate judges would swallow that tale. [Note: that's one of Scalia's best one-liners.] And lo and behold, the California jailbreak is jacking up crime there.

But back to the thread at hand:

You criticize me for "harping" on the recent Obama statement--um, we're talking about it in one thread--I do harp on Musa Ali Daqduq (a release not even Joe can defend), but your characterization here is weak. And then you compound your error by stating that Obama's comment to the widow was "dumb"--well, yeah it was that--but we're not talking about that. We're talking about the morality of it, and while the "birther" stuff is ugly (although, didn't Obama's autobio say that he was born in Kenya?), Obama is a political figure and therefore part of the game--therefore, almost by definition, an attack on a political figure cannot be as bad as a four Pinocchio answer to a military widow, i.e., someone not at all part of the game. (Note: Trump's tete a tete with the dad of a military casualty, while bad, wasn't anywhere close either since the dad launched a political attack on Trump.) And not only that, Doug, remember, when it suited his own cynical political purposes, Obama invoked the "sacred bond" between C-in-C and military. The VA question did not catch him off guard either (not that that would be an excuse). By the by, speaking of "sacred bonds"--one would think that the C-in-C would not preside over a DoJ that gives people like Hillary Clinton favorable treatment as compared to military people when it comes to handling classified info. But he does. Disgraceful.

All in all, that's a wee bit more than dumb--and you know it--and it was disgraceful--let's at least get that right Doug. And yes, I loathe people who release those who murder American servicemen by perfidy, especially when they speak in terms of a "sacred bond." Yuck.

What is laughable is that you suggest that I said that Trump would grow morally in office ("change his stripes). Um no. Go back and read. It's possible for someone to be worse morally in one's personal relations, but better morally in public life. And I am saying that I don't know that Trump would give a four Pinocchio answer to a military widow, an appalling act. That's a fair basis more me to say that Trump is worse in private sphere but could be better in public if he gets elected (and better does not mean "good").

Last, you want to take issue with the 'rat judges thing--ok, try defending some of the nonsense on strictly legal terms. If you do, we'll probably have a reprise of the "obsessed with procedure" nonsense you spouted a few years back.

I suspect your partisan bias leads you to characterize Obama's four Pinocchio answer as just dumb when it's actually a disgrace. That you cannot seem to get that shows that your moral compass is off by a lot.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 17, 2016 10:01:54 AM

Doug, I really have to say I am dumbfounded---how you cannot see the moral issues with a four Pinocchio answer to a military widow whose husband was killed by the indifference of the VA is simply beyond my comprehension. It really is. I don't mean to be harsh, but the facts are damning here:

(1) Obama has touted the "sacred bond."
(2) The VA's problems are well-known, and there has been very little done.
(3) Obama could not have been surprised by the question.

The brazenness is just breathtaking--and all you have to say is that it was "dumb"? Seriously? Am I really so off base to consider this appalling and wonder whether Trump would do such a thing?

Posted by: federalist | Oct 17, 2016 3:02:51 PM

In order, federalist:

1. California crime was going down and kept going down through the Plata litigation, hitting record low levels in 2014. It has started going back up, but most folks "on the ground" (prosecutors, police) have blamed Prop 47 passed in 2014, not Plata decided in 2011.

2. I get why, given your partisan bias, federalist, you want to keep claiming that Prez Obama's "four Pinocchio answer to a military widow" is morally worse than anything Trump has ever done "in public." But Trump is, as the GOP nominee for Prez, a public actor now and in that role recently he has, e.g., (1) falsely and repeatedly asserted HRC started the ugly birther stuff, and (2) falsely and repeatedly asserted that this November's election is "rigged."

Again, a partisan like you, federalist, obviously can and will keep claiming that what Prez Obama said is worse morally than stuff Trump has said while in the PUBLIC role as GOP nominee. But I see little evidence from anyone else that they perceive Prez Obama's statement to be so much more immoral than stuff Trump has said since becoming the official GOP nominee. Have any military families asked for an Obama apology, as they did after Trump's statements about a Gold Star family: http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/08/02/military-families-trump-apologize-comments-khans.html? Have any GOP leaders assailed Prez Obama for his comment while many these days are assailing Trump for his recent "rigged election" public comments?

3. The point of all this, federalist, is NOT to defend Obama and or to deny there are "moral issues with a four Pinocchio answer to a military widow." Indeed, I am glad you highlighted this "four Pinocchio answer," because it showcases the reality that even a Prez with a (relatively impressive) personal moral record can and will sometimes, presumably for political reasons, make immoral statements and engage in immoral actions.

Joe's recent comments highlight, in the same vein, the ways he thinks GW Bush (who I think has a relatively impressive personal moral record) was a less moral Prez than Bill Clinton (let alone Obama). In Joe's view, the way GWB pursued the war on terror places him high on the "despicable meter." I wonder what you think of that assessment? More fundamentally, my enduring point here has only has been that partisan bias has a way of coloring/influencing moral judgments --- so that what you or Joe or William Brennan or Antonin Scalia or Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton thinks is "morally disgraceful" or registers on the "despicable meter" is often impacted strongly by partisan/political commitments.

4. The point about your reference to "'rat judges" HERE in this dialogue about partisan perspective has nothing to do with whether some decisions are sound "on strictly legal terms." The point is you do not use the adjective "bad" or "dumb" or "old" judges or even "criminal loving" or any other label/adjective when attacking these judges. Instead you adopt a partisan label ('rat) because, as is obvious based on YOUR OWN WORDS, you tend to look/assess the work of judges through a partisan lens. And that is fine, but OWN IT rather than try to deny what your own choice of pejorative adjectives reveals.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 17, 2016 6:09:59 PM

1. Prop 47 got a nudge from Plata, and Plata would have caused the jailbreak anyway--the point, of course, is not that Plata directly caused the increased crime, but rather whether releases of tens of thousands of "overcrowding-hardened" criminals would create upward pressure or downward pressure on the crime rate. The Court suggested that, on the basis of throwaway testimony that overcrowding increases recidivism, there was evidence that releasing 10,000s of criminals would result in more safety. Balderdash.

2. First of all, Doug, are you really comparing standard fare political nonsense--note Dems have been yapping about rigged elections for a while now--and there are a lot of illegals who are registered to vote, think none ever do--with looking in the eye of a military widow whose husband died as a result of the indifference of the VA and giving her a four Pinocchio answer. The two things are not remotely comparable. And no, I have a hard time believing Trump would do such a thing--not because I think Trump moral, but that what Obama did is so appalling, and it's hard to imagine people having the testicularity to do it--even a cretin like Trump. And by the by, Obama has a lie of the year award on Obamacare which, predictably, has resulted in a lot of people getting seriously screwed.

3. Well, you have gone from "dumb" to "immoral"--so there's progress--of course, I had to drag that out of you. But I am still dumbfounded--you equate Obama's four Pinocchio answer to standard political BS? Seriously? Remember, this is a guy who said that there was a "sacred bond." Was that just cynical BS? You accuse me of being partisan and having it cloud my judgment--but it seems that you should look in the mirror--either your judgment is seriously lacking or you cannot admit that the guy you voted for is a disgrace.

4. Joe's a doofus. So what?

5. As for the 'rat judges--well, Doug, I take a look at the summary reversals and the BS votes for stays--there does seem to be a problem with Dem appointees--wouldn't you agree? If not, why not? Why can't the Sixth Circuit get AEDPA right? The prob isn't the GOP judges. So why is it a problem for me to mention party affiliation. Just like Fannie/Freddie--Rahm, Jamie Gorelick and Franklin Raines weren't GOP.

6. GOP pols are criticizing Trump--politics--as for not criticizing Obama, so what? The rightness or wrongness of something isn't dependent on that, and you've already conceded it was immoral. As for Trump and Khan, let's not forget that Khan spoke at the DNC and basically spouted nonsense. Trump's response was dumb, and the Dems deserve a ton of criticism for using the guy.

what's truly stunning--POTUS, a man who spoke in terms of a "sacred bond" between C-in-C and troops could lie through his teeth to a military widow, and it's just not that big a deal. As another guy said, "Dude, where's my country?"

Posted by: federalist | Oct 18, 2016 9:58:37 AM

Doug, I forgot to mention the "who moi?" aspect--your post spoke in terms of "integrity" and "personal honesty" and your loss of respect. Then you say that you were pointing out how foolish other people thought he was. ("rather I flagged that respectable right-oriented commentators were noting how foolish he can sound when trying to go to bat for partisan reasons in defense of Trump.") Can you see how that would drive anyone trying to have a discussion with you crazy? You facilely deny exactly what you did. I said you "ragged" on Sessions, and you did--so how come you denied it? I suspect the answer is you just want to win debating points with the miasma of words.

I am glad that you have seen the lack of morality with Obama--now will you say that you've lost respect for him for his lack of integrity and personal honesty?

Posted by: federalist | Oct 18, 2016 11:45:29 AM

And it's funny how Sessions doesn't get the benefit of "reality" but Obama does.

Nice moral compass you got there.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 18, 2016 11:46:42 AM

federalist, I can/will respond in more detail later, but I agree that FOR BOTH OF US AND NEARLY EVERYONE ELSE some measure of partisan bias impacts what we "excuse" as "standard political BS" versus what we find deeply offensive as "immoral." That said, I think you eagerness to assail Obama as "immoral" and a "disgrace" while defending Trump again and again in this thread is much more a commentary on your unique/distinctive moral compass than mine. Only a very small number of folks --- and mostly alt-right folks, I think --- seem to share your belief that Barack Obama is much more "immoral" and a "disgrace" than Donald Trump. The vast majority of folks I know --- even many hard-core GOP partisan --- share my perspective that Barack Obama is much less "immoral" and a "disgrace" than Donald Trump.

Now, if we are/were comparing either Clinton to a Trump, the story gets a lot more complicated for a lot more people. But that is why this lengthy thread started with my simple effort to assess your moral compass by asking who you consider more moral, Obama or Trump. I continue to surmise that your answer is, at least in a sense, Trump. And that answer is a revealing and useful window into your perspective on the world.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 18, 2016 1:37:19 PM

Might we please start by getting a few things right:

(1) Trump's yapping about rigged elections and the birther stuff (and you should check--didn't Obama's autobio mistakenly say he was born in Kenya) is no different from standard politician yapping about god knows what in so many situations. Certainly, no different from Obama's SOTU mischaracterization of Citizens United, and not even close to as bad as McCaskill's nasty comments about Bush wanting black people to die or Obama's "Latinos punish their enemies" comment--it's not an excuse for this crap, it just doesn't register as anywhere close to lying to the face of a widow of a military vet killed by VA indifference. Why don't we start by getting that right?

(2) Please point to where I stated that "Barack Obama is much more 'immoral' and a 'disgrace' than Donald Trump." You cannot because I didn't. I just said that (a) Trump's private morality is worse and (b) I cannot judge Trump's POTUS morality, and I have a hard time believing that even a cretin like Trump would lie to the face of a widow whose hub was killed by the VA.

(3) I don't particularly care what the conventional wisdom says--Obama's statements to the widow were a disgrace in and of themselves--what makes them even worse is the "sacred bond" stuff, and the fact that military guys are being ruined while Hillary skates. (Notice how you cannot answer that one Doug).

I get it Doug--in the faculty lounge, you cannot say that Obama's four Pinocchio answer was a disgrace--but that's not a reflection on me. Under ANY standard, it is. Yet, you criticize me for saying that and trying to argue that me coming to that conclusion shows partisanship.

Of course, I do mention a few more things about the Obama record (BAIPA), Musa Ali Daqduq (sacred bond???) and presiding over a DoJ that gives Clinton better treatment than military guys (and while we're at it, that the DOJ blew off USERRA--how is that consistent with the "sacred bond"?).

And maybe Doug you could tell me how "moral" it was for Obama to back Martha Coakley, whose record on innocent people being locked up is about as atrocious as any in America. Maybe Trump is that bad, and maybe he doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt, but I have a hard time believing he would stick it to Bernard Baran the way she did. And Obama vouched for her. Politics I guess. And you know what--if pols like Obama refused to vouch for crap like that--then we'd have less of it.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 18, 2016 2:26:53 PM

while defending Trump again and again in this thread is much more a commentary on your unique/distinctive moral compass than mine

please, oh please please please point out where I defended Trump--somehow I don't think that giving him the benefit of the doubt with respect to giving four Pinocchio answers to military people is "defending" nor is pointing out that there are comments that are worse . . . .

Posted by: federalist | Oct 18, 2016 2:59:29 PM

Let's review the obvious partisanship in your latest miasma of words, federalist, using your numbering:

1. Through your obviously partisan lens, everything Trump (a GOP guy) has said is just "standard politician yapping" and "not even close to as bad" as stuff said by Obama (a D) and McCaskill (a D).

2. You concede Trump's private morality is worse than Obama's, but "have a hard time believing" Trump as a (GOP) Prez could be as immoral as Obama (a D). And you just label Joe a "doofus" when he makes a claim that (GOP) Prez GW Bush was more immoral than Obama

3. Who cares how other people --- on both the left and the right --- make moral assessments, you say, because you think what Obama and Hillary (two Ds) are up to and say is obviously to you the lowest rung of moral disgracefulness.

I am not saying just your criticism of Obama shows partisanship; rather it is your contention that nothing GOP Trump has said is "even close to as bad" as stuff Ds have said. That shows your core partisanship --- which is just like Sessions going to bat for Trump when he says stupid sexual stuff (the point of this post) or like Ds going to bat for Bill after all his immoral acts.

Then you go on to bash Obama's record re the military and backing Martha Coakley (another D).

Again, I get that in your mind, federalist, you are the pure one and "conventional wisdom" is all wrong. But, again, your supposedly pure thinking has you persistently defending the likes of Trump with rank silly statements --- e.g., birther talk (and blaming HRC for birther talk) is NOT "standard politician yapping" and you cannot point to a single "standard politician" who has "yapped" this way (though I can point to a lot of alt-right folks who yap this way).

I share your interest in wanting "pols to refuse to vouch for crap," WHICH WAS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE MAIN POST HERE. I have been disappointed with Sessions and Rudy and Christie for vouching for Trump "crap" just like I have long been deeply disappointed with so many Dems vouching for Bill Clinton crap. Notably, the Bushes and Romney and a few other notable GOP folks have garnered increase respect from me for NOT vouching for Trump "crap," and I sincerely wish there were many more Dems who would refuse to vouch for Clinton (Bill and Hillary) crap.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 18, 2016 6:13:15 PM

Doug: I know it's tough--after all, if the faculty lounge probably wouldn't like the heresy because you labeled Obama's four Pinocchio answer to a widow of a vet "immoral."

But I think we should start, yet again, by getting some things right: Your disingenuousness is breathtaking

First and foremost, if you read upthread, you'll note that I didn't defend Trump's "birther" comments or anything he said---what I said is that they are qualitatively different from the C-in-C (who has touted the "sacred bond") giving a four Pinocchio answer to a widow of a military vet killed by the indifference of the VA. I noted that the targets of Trump's nonsense were political players or those who took an overtly political role and that, therefore Trump's comments weren't in the same league, morality-wise as Obama's because Obama's were far worse because they were so far out of bounds in terms of the person to whom the comments were made and Obama's position. NOTHING YOU HAVE SAID REMOTELY REFUTES THIS PROPOSITION. Instead you criticize me for saying that Trump wasn't as bad as Obama---but on that point I am 100% right.

Second, why is pointing out where Trump's comments fall on the continuum of what passes for political discourse somehow defending Trump? Trump's comments are bad, but are they worse than McCaskill's? Are they worse than the bogus CU comments made at SOTU? You bring up that I mention Dem comments--so what? What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

Third, you utterly fail to address your obvious double-standard and your weak attempt to deny what you said about Sessions. You questioned Sessions on moral terms for his comment and said that you now have lost respect---but Obama's four Pinocchio answer to a grieving widow---barely registers, when I think we can all agree that Obama's transgression was far worse than Sessions'. And this doesn't even take into consideration the "sacred bond", the fact that his DoJ is giving Hillary a pass but hammering military people for less AND handing over Musa Ali Daqduq. And then I am so bad for calling this spectacle a "disgrace"? Check your compass.

Fourth, go back and read what I have written--my proposition is simple---I don't know that Trump could possibly give a four Pinocchio answer to a grieving widow. If he could not, then the birther talk doesn't make him worse than Obama. This isn't hard Doug.

Fifth, your definition of a concession is interesting. I started up front by saying that Trump's private morality is worse than Obama's.

Sixth, you lump in Trump's comments as being far worse than what Ds have said---but I only compared them favorably to Obama's four Pinocchio statement and McCaskill's imputation that Bush wanted to kill blacks in New Orleans. Once again, get your facts right.

Seventh, your use of caps about Trump's supporters not calling him out on crap---but that crap is qualitatively different from sticking it to an innocent man. I mean seriously Doug--as bad as Trump is--is anything he's done remotely as horrible as what Coakley did to Mr. Baran. Yet Obama, the so-called paragon of virtue supported Coakley. If you are going to criticize Sessions, doesn't Obama deserve 50 times more for the support of Coakley? How did you miss the difference?

Eighth, you say I cannot point to a single "standard politician" who has yapped like Trump? Oh really? Harry Reid on Romney and on Clarence Thomas. Obama: "Typical white person." and punishing enemies. Claire McCaskill on Bush. Or every single Dem pol who imputed that Bush knew of Ken Lay's crimes. Or to go back, the smearing of Judge Bork. Or what about Allan Grayson, Mark Dayton (B+ white citizens) and the list goes on and on. And then there's Al Sharpton.

Ninth, I label Joe a doofus because of his posts.

Tenth, no answer on the responsibility of the Sixth Circuit and blowing off AEDPA--'rat judges.

This really isn't hard. Trump is a moral cretin and appalling on many levels. But the evidence isn't there that as POTUS he'd be definitively less moral than Obama, and there is actually evidence to the contrary. And you can make all the ad hominem arguments you want about me--you can falsely characterize your own post--you can say Im defending Trump when I am not, but the bottom line, and NOTHING YOU HAVE SAID REFUTES THIS, Obama's four Pinocchio comment is worse than the birther crap. And Obama's support of Martha Coakley is far more indicative of a lack of morality than Session's comments.

I still can't believe you're defending Obama from me calling his four Pinocchio answer a "disgrace." What is it, if not a disgrace?

Posted by: federalist | Oct 18, 2016 7:49:23 PM

couple more things:

Obama, BAIPA--Born Alive Infants Protection Act--pretty immoral and the fact that he tossed his own grandmother under the bus.

But you keep citing that conventional wisdom.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 18, 2016 9:11:40 PM

federalist, you are so obtuse in this conversation it is really hard to continue. It fundamentally matters that you keep mentioning "Dem comments," because my claim from the outset has been that, as a partisan, you criticize Dems (and "'rat judges") with a unique severity and intensity. This strikes me as so obvious as you just keep attacking new Dems with each new comment in this thread, and especially now that your latest miasma has you spouting off that Trump's birther stuff is comparable to statments by "Harry Reid ... Obama ... Claire McCaskill ... every single Dem pol ..... Allan Grayson, Mark Dayton ... and the list goes on and on."

For you, federalist, surely the list of Dems you abhor "goes on and on," because as a partisan, you criticize Dems with a unique severity/intensity. That is fine, but own it. Your defense of Sessions in defense of Trump is more of the same --- you want to attack Obama (and want me to attack Obama) on issues that are entirely different than the subject matter of this blog or post. And that is what partisans do: they keep attacking "the other team" even if it means going off-topic so that they can keep attacking.

It is true I judge "tough-on-crime" folks like Sessions by a different standard when they are talking about criminal activities than those who do not preach a toughness mantra. Similarly, I judge "smart-on-crime" folks by a different standard when they are talking about criminal activities (e.g., I think Holder/Lynch/Obama and others who claim to want to pursue "smart on crime" federal initiatives ought to be seeking to make federal marijuana law a whole lot "smarter" in light of state reforms. And they have lost my respect for failing to do so).

If it makes you feel better, you are welcome to use the comments to keep listing all the Dems you think are as bad or worse than Trump. I am sure for a partisan like you, federalist, the "list goes on and on." But the list that really shows how partisan/quirky your views are on this front is the ever-growing list of prominent GOP folks and right-leaning publications that have concluded that GOP nominee Trump is even worse than "crooked Hillary." That is not just "conventional wisdom," but rather it is evidence than even traditional political/media partisans are not as partisan as you are in this context.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 18, 2016 10:25:31 PM

No Doug--it is not I that is being obtuse, but you who wants to shoehorn what I've said into your canned argument.

The GOP reaction against Trump is largely born by some disgust AND the fact that he is an incompetent candidate. It doesn't mean that his comments are somehow the worst we've ever seen. They're bad, and, unfortunately for our polity, consistent with a lot of the nasty talk we have seen over the years, much of which is from Democrats. McConnell doesn't talk the way Harry Reid does, and nor does any GOP official with national prominence. Akin's comments were loathsome--and Angus King (an independent) is a hothead---but other than that, I can't think of national GOP figures who have even said anything like "Latinos punishing their enemies" or Claire McCaskill's comments about Bush. If you can,I am all ears. But even if my memory is failing me, and there is a GOP figure with similar quotes, using some off the top of my head quotes ONLY PUTS TRUMP'S QUOTES INTO CONTEXT. Yes, they are bad, but NO THEY ARE NOT UNIQUELY BAD, AND THEY ARE COMPARABLE TO OBAMA'S "PUNISH YOUR ENEMIES" QUOTE.

Of course, you have no answer to that--so what do you--call me obtuse. Nice trick.

You also looked completely foolish with the idea that somehow I was confirming your point about Sessions when I brought up the support of Coakley. You can't answer that point--so what do you do, ignore it.

You facilely assume that Trump's comment refers to actual criminal activity. But that's not necessarily the case, and I think you know it. And Sessions DID say that criminal activity is not tolerable.

But the biggest point you fail to address--Obama's four Pinocchio answer, which you have conceded (note my proper use of that term) is immoral--and it is worse than anything Trump has said for the reasons which I have exhaustively and repeatedly explained. YOU DO NOT DISPUTE THAT. And I know it's tough--because if you acknowledge that, then your whole argument fails, but it's indisputable that I am right that it is worse. I got you in a box there--so what to do---call me obtuse and whine about my vehemence about criticism of Ds.

But of course, you can't debate on the merits about the criticism---for example, AEDPA and the Sixth Circuit--it's a "D" judge thing, and it's either the result of stupidity and willfulness (e.g., Judge Clay). I am right about that--and so what if I am harsh and unsparing with the criticism.

I do love your "appeal to authority" method of argument. It's weak.

And you cannot answer the most basic question--is Obama's four Pinocchio answer a disgrace? And if not, why not?

Have fun Doug. The beauty of the written word is that everyone can read it---any fair observer reading this back and forth sees that you cannot answer the questions I have posed to you.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 19, 2016 8:32:31 AM

"It fundamentally matters that you keep mentioning "Dem comments," because my claim from the outset has been that, as a partisan, you criticize Dems (and "'rat judges") with a unique severity and intensity. This strikes me as so obvious as you just keep attacking new Dems with each new comment in this thread, and especially now that your latest miasma has you spouting off that Trump's birther stuff is comparable to statments by "Harry Reid ... Obama ... Claire McCaskill ... every single Dem pol ..... Allan Grayson, Mark Dayton ... and the list goes on and on."

You never really explain why. If I am right that Donald Trump's nonsense fits comfortably into comments made by Claire McCaskill, Harry Reid and Barack Obama, then your approach is simply shooting the messenger. I don't like Trump either, but the idea that his commentary is uniquely bad just doesn't bear scrutiny. It seems to me that you're simply projecting--you have an ideological affinity for people like Claire McCaskill, so her comments just don't register.

Like I said--I think the issue isn't with me on this thread--I think it's with you. If you're going to argue fairly, you either:

(1) Say that Trump's birtherism (and many other comments) are somehow worse than Barack "Sacred Bond" Obama's four Pinocchio answer to the military widow or

(2) Concede that Obama's answer was a disgrace.

Option 1 is unpalatable because it's a hard sell--political mudslinging, unfortunately, is part and parcel of our political discourse==playing politics with legitimate questions from a military widow is not.

Option 2 is unpalatable because if you concede that, you basically concede that I was right.

So what do you do? Whine about me and my meanie partisanship. But that's just ad hominem argument--the weakest form of argument.

Just like I did to your buddy Professor Bibas--I am cleaning your clock here--and I don't let go--I've got you in a box. And I chuckle at your attempts to wriggle out of it.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 19, 2016 9:52:37 AM

No box and no need for me to wiggle, federalist. It seems to me obviously far, far, far, far more immoral to allege, as Trump has as prominent public figure and without any evidence, that the twice duly elected Prez has perpetuated the greatest fraud in American constitutional history --- and to do so while affiliating and legitimating claims of the worst elements of the alt-right community. (Funny how you and Tarls were so quick to be "pearl-clutching" when I merely suggested you might participate in alt-right discussions, but now you view Trump promoting the ugliest stuff the alt-right peddles is just standard yapping. If so standard, why did you demand an apology based in the hint that any alt-right affiliation was a smear of your delicate moral standing.)

Moreover, though I think it immoral how Obama sought to puff the story of the response to the VA crisis, both the purpose and context of Obama's statement puts it, for me and seemingly for everyone but those who embrace the alt-right, of a completely different nature. Again, if birther talk is just standard political yapping, why is it only the worst of the alt-right who yaps this way? I feel very comfortable saying that the worst of the alt-right is far, far, far, far more immoral than Obama. You and Tarls attacked me because you though it was a smear to even suggest you talked with alt-right types. And now you contend that the worst alt-right talk is more moral than Obama.

This would be funny if I thought you were just joking, but I find it sad that you seem to believe it. And because I fear you do seem to believe it, the end of this thread has led me to have a whole lot less respect for you.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 19, 2016 6:00:47 PM

And, to respond to your "fair observer" silliness, federalist, I remain amazed that in one comment you can complain about "appeal to authority" and then try the same move but have to make up your own authority ("fair observer") to appeal to because no real authority supports your claim that Trump will likely be a more moral Prez than Obama (unless, I suppose, you consider the worst of the alt-right to be authority).

I now have come to realize via my simple question comparing Trump/Obama that you truly are a variant on Trump: you just make stuff up to claim you are winning no matter how badly you are losing. But since he is apparently a kind of moral compass for you relative to Prez Obama, I suppose I should not be surprised by your Trumpian moves.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 19, 2016 7:17:11 PM

First rule of holes--stop digging. But of course, you're an HLS grad, so you cannot admit defeat. So what will you do? Engage in ad hominem argument.

I would think it axiomatic that the Commander-in-Chief lying to the face of a military widow whose hub was killed by the indifference of an agency with well-known problems would qualify as a disgrace. (You, of course, euphemize it as puffing.) But you can't bring yourself to say that (guess that faculty lounge enforces the rules). I guess that is progress because, after all, it was first characterized as dumb. Of course, that's bad enough, but it's made even worse by the "sacred bond" stuff and the other things I mentioned.

Then, with flawed moral compass in hand, you decide to wage a blog-jihad against me to try to prove what---that I defend Trump (I don't.), that I don't think Trump is bad (I find him disgusting) and that I somehow have said that Obama is worse than the alt-right (I haven't).

You apparently think (because you say so breathlessly) that the birther stuff is beyond the pale--well, yeah, it is (and it should be painfully obvious from reading this thread that I don't condone it and that I reject it out of hand). But the suggestion that (a) it's somehow worse than lying to the face of a grieving widow killed by an agency you control and (b) that it, in the face of numerous examples to the contrary, is somehow sui generis in terms of what mainstream politicians say is, in the case of (a) ridiculous, in in the case of (b) simply delusional.

In your zeal to be some sort of morality truth-squadder, you also miss a few other things. First since you seem unable to grasp the simple fact that I have said, numerous times that Trump is a cretin and with respect to his private life is not as moral as Obama. Second, you take my reticence in concluding that Trump would actually lie to military widows this horrible sin--um wow. Third, you utterly fail to take into consideration, with respect to the moral calculation, other things Obama has done, e.g., his sickening opposition to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. Fourth, you failed to appreciate the difference between the "crap" of political discourse and abusing a person like Bernard Baran (talk about a profile in courage by the way). Obama supported Coakley--one of his tormentors.

My sin is not that I like Trump--I don't. My sin is that I don't subscribe to the notion that he is somehow this beast that is so far worse than all others (save Hillary) that we all, as a matter of civic orthodoxy, have to announce our hatred for the guy. But, as sad as this is for American, he is not. Is he more awful than Dick Durbin, who impugned military members and who threatened FCC licenses for the running of attack ads? Is he more awful than Martha Coakley? And what about Obama palling around with Al Sharpton? Am I supposed to think that, oh gee, Trump , if POTUS, would, without question be worse morally than Obama---that's a stretch. I guess, Doug, I just have a different opinion of the morality of politicians.

I do think this whole thread is funny---you accuse me of being partisan, but you cannot bring yourself to come right out and say that the VA lie was a disgrace. You cannot acknowledge that the endorsement of Coakley should sicken anyone. You cannot look at appalling comments like "Latinos punishing their enemies" etc. and say how bad they are--all because what, Trump violated some sort of lese-majeste rule applicable to Obama?

The sad thing--it used to be that the four Pinocchio answer to a grieving widow would be so beyond the pale that all would be shocked. Now it's puffery.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 19, 2016 7:57:39 PM

I don't think that Trump would lie to a military widow, and I don't think he'd make Al Sharpton a go to man on civil rights. So sorry, I am not going to vouch that he'd be less moral as POTUS than Obama. And I loathe Trump.

I made up nothing here.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 19, 2016 8:03:14 PM

federalist, I never accused you of making up stuff. Rather, I assert you of having a peculiar/partisan moral compass when claiming that Trump's persistent birther talk --- which he has promoted from March 2011 through Sept 2016 and which at all times has been debunked/disregarded by EVERY respectable moral politician/person and persists only among the worst moral corners of the alt-right (and which Trump only back away from by repeatedly falsely accusing Hillary of "starting it") --- is somehow morally less bad than the comment made by Prez Obama or other stuff he has done as Prez.

Can you find any "fair observers" who would openly agree with your moral contention that Trump's birther actions are more moral than the comment made by Obama? How about you, using your real name, write a simple short statement articulating this moral view, and we can send it to "fair observers" and ask whether they would sign on to this view or resist it.

I am not waging a "blog-jihad" against you, federalist (though I love your notion that I am a blogging terror). I just asked a simple question concerning your moral views of Trump and Obama. And miasmas of words later, it seems you believe Trump could/would be a more moral Prez than Obama even though you keep saying "Trump is a cretin and with respect to his private life is not as moral as Obama." The only ready explanation I can see for these views, federalist, is a partisan one. But you think "fair observers" would embrace your moral perspective here. So write up your claims however you see fit, and we can find try to find out what "fair observers" might say about them.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 19, 2016 9:09:24 PM

Some points: (1) "but have to make up your own authority"--that's what I was referring to, so we probably talked past each other.

(2) You act as if I somehow don't deplore the birther talk, and your point is well-taken that he had persisted in it. But, and this is crucial, the "birther" is virtually indistinguishable from Claire McCaskill's comments, from the "Latinos punish their enemies" talk, the "rural America" nonsense, Durbin's heavy-handed threats against free speech, Reid's comments about Romney and Thomas, Michelle Obama's comment about some crazed racist shooting Obama at a gas station (which was ridiculous, divisive and plain wrong--non-Hispanic white on black murders are statistically extremely rare), the smearing of Darren Wilson and a whole host of just awful stuff that passes for political discourse in this country. My points, which you don't even address, are (a) that Obama and Hillary are "in the game"--you know the whole politics ain't beanbag thing-- and (b) our political discourse is a sewer--Trump didn't start it, and his targets have participated in it. Instead you invoke some weird lese-majeste idea that the waste Trump has put in the sewer is somehow so much more worse than the examples I've provided. And, not to be partisan about it, other than Trump, this really seems to be a "D" problem--you haven't addressed that.

(3) Now look at the VA comment. First, the victim (for lack of a better word) isn't in the game; second, Obama, ultimately, is responsible for the poor care her dead husband got (and by the way, hardcore federal civil service protections are a "D" thing more than a "R" thing), third, this involves the military, and Obama invoked the "sacred bond" thing (the hypocrisy angle that you mentioned upthread, which, of course, you don't address) and fourth, he had to know he was "puffing" to use your euphemism. You've conceded its immorality (although I had to drag that out of you)--but you still cling (get the reference?) to the idea that the repeated chucking of a turd other turd chuckers is somehow so much worse than giving a grieving widow the business.

(4) You of course packed up and left on the whole Coakley issue--remarkable, given your use of CAPS upthread. Where are you on that, Professor?

(5) Back to Trump's repeated use of the "birther" stuff--definitely aggravating circumstances, but if aggravators are a problem for Trump, they need to be a problem for Obama. The VA comment isn't in a vacuum. Obama cynically invoked the "sacred bond" stuff when it suited his political ends (one would think that out of bounds), but a lot of his actions are completely at odds with that--to name a few:

(a) Musa Ali Daqduq--how was the release of this guy emblematic of a C-in-C who thinks in terms of a "sacred bond"?

(b) Remember his casual denigration of US troops who take extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties--"just" running around the country and bombing villages?

(c) And what about the DoJ going easy on Hillary, but hard on military guys--yeah, some "sacred bond."

The upshot is, Doug, two can play at that game. You want to referee turd-chucking among turd-chuckers and call out just one and euphemize really awful conduct that, given the history, isn't a one-off. And then we get into the Al Sharpton stuff . . . .

(5) I meant jeremiad, not jihad.

(6) Hmm, the alt-right--hmmm, well Doug, perhaps you don't realize that Obama posted on the DailyKos--that's a sewer ("screw 'em"), so I wouldn't throw around that "worst moral corners" stuff given the glass house your guy is in.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 20, 2016 10:07:33 AM

Re: No. 4--why are Sessions', Giuliani's and Christie's integrity on the line for supporting Trump, but Obama's isn't for supporting Coakley?

Posted by: federalist | Oct 20, 2016 12:59:05 PM

A few quick (and final?) thoughts:

1. I do not see the "birther" stuff as "virtually indistinguishable" from other rough-and-tumble "awful stuff that passes for political discourse in this country." Saying, e.g., Obama was "palling around with terrorists" (Palin) or "you lie" at SotU (Wilson) can and I think should be considered "virtually indistinguishable" from other rough-and-tumble "awful stuff that passes for political discourse in this country." But perpetuating and enhancing the ugly birther stuff is, in my view, of a whole different character and I think EVERY reasonable serious person/politician agrees or else other reasonable folks would have promoted it. (And let's not forget how Trump tried to go birther on Cruz and even suggest his Dad was involved in killing JFK.)

2. Plenty of Rs stay lots of ugly things, and D partisans are good at collecting ugly R statements:

And your ability to rattle off ugly D statements AND then follow with the silly statement that ugly statements "really seems to be a "D" problem" is yet another example of my point all along: you are a partisan who, like those who assembled the lists about of ugly GOP statements, sees the world through partisan lens.

3. I agree that "chucking ... a turd" at a civilian is a different kind of awful thing to do, and that reality got me comfortable using your strong label "immoral" after I reflected on your point. But was this "turd" so obviously worse than, say, Trump false asserting the the former Miss Universe was on a "sex tape"? Again, I see how your Obama disaffinity leads you to see all his statements as categorically worse that others' statement, but yet again that seems to me to be a product of your tendency to view all that comes out of his mouth with a jaundiced eye.

4. On Coakley, I have long thought she was terrible and had little or no respect for those who go to bat for her. But I also think Bill Clinton is MUCH, MUCH worse and I have long had ZERO respect for any Ds who go to bat for him. I respect Obama in part for being the only D even willing to really take on the Bill and the Clinton machine, but in the end I lost a lot of Obama respect for his decision to cater to the Clintons by making HRC SoS and otherwise keeping the Clinton brand going. I am glad the Coakley brand is dead, and I wish the Clinton one would die, too.

5. Defending Trump, I will continue to assert and believe, does in fact involves defending a "turd-chucker" of a whole different order than Obama or Palin or GWB or any other leading politician of my lifetime. As a result, I have garnered respect for all those on the GOP who do not defend him (just like I have respect for all on the D side who take on the Clintons, especially Billy, which itself may be the reason I have a "soft-spot" for Obama going back to 2008). In sort, Trump does not seem to me to be on the same level morally than other politicians. Perhaps, with so much sewage around, it is wrong to expect others to consider Trump's turds to be a unique kind of smelliness, but I sense that many more folks --- both on the left and right --- share my basic sense that Trump's moral stink is of a whole different ugly character. And Sessions, Giuliani and Christie --- all of whom start with some extra respect from me based on their time as US Attorneys --- are now stinking more in my nose due playing with Trump's uniquely smelly turds.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 20, 2016 6:15:30 PM

1. Fair point re: bad quotes from GOP--although I don't think you overcome the "D" problem. I didn't include crazy offensive stuff from the likes of Corinne Brown or Rep. Young ("wetback") or Robert Byrd or Akin, not because they aren't offensive, but because they are not really part of the discourse, and that's what I was talking about. I probably shouldn't have included Grayson--although he got mucho ink. And I limited my stuff to pols of prominence--bit players don't count. Read upthread--I made this clear. Plus, Doug, whenever a GOP says something bad, the rest of the party generally criticizes--see, e.g., Akin.

And while you make an effective case that Trump's birther comments are awful, you really don't show how they are worse than Reid's, Durbin's or the "punish enemies" stuff.

2. Palin's comment re: "pal around with terrorists" happens to be true---Bill Ayers. The "you lie" comment--um defensible, although the forum may not have been appropriate (of course, Obama abused the SOTU, so that's a wash. . .) so therefore, not falling within my comment.

3. The Miss Universe, bad, but nowhere close to the four Pinocchio statement. And certainly less bad than the smearing of Darren Wilson.

4. You praise Obama for taking on the Clinton machine--just like you praise never Trumpers---but Obama is campaigning for Clinton. So you lump in Obama with those who oppose Trump when the circumstances are different. Nice try, especially when you consider the Obama DoJ's treatment of the Clinton email scandal.

5. I am curious your view of Obama's "just" bombing villages comment---that denigrated a war effort (wrongly to boot). I found that appalling. Curious why you don't.

Quite simply, your posts on this thread confirm that, in reality, you are far more blinded by "soft spots" and partisanship than I could ever be. You pooh pooh Obama's endorsement of Coakley and ignore his campaigning for Hillary. You barely concede that Obama's lying to a widow is immoral, and you bring up Palin's colorful but true comment about Ayers.

You whine about my vehemence--well boo hoo. Everything I say is backed up by cogent argument, and I, more than anyone in here (and that includes you) forthrightly answer all criticisms.

I loathe Trump--despise him--so really your criticism boils down to the back that I don't acknowledge the alleged morality of Obama. But I have catalogued enough instances of Obama's lack of morality that my judgment of him is well-considered and well-founded.

A lot of the reason you dislike Trump, I suspect, is because he is gauche and not polished. And I suspect that my pugnacious style is not to your liking. Oh well. I suspect you've gained a much different perspective than you get otherwise and may have learned a few things.

The bottom line, Doug, is that people who cravenly lie to military widows like Obama did are a disgrace, or at least would be considered so in ordinary life--that Obama did it for ostensibly political reasons, if anything, is an aggravating factor given the unique responsibility POTUS owes to the military. Your "soft spot" ain't a reason to pillory me.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 20, 2016 9:06:51 PM

You say you "loathe" and "despise" Trump, federalist, so what I have learned from you is that you seemingly "dislike" Trump much more than I do. (For the record, I can and do "like" some public/celebrity figures I have never actually met for some of what they do even if/when I think they have done a lot of ugly immoral stuff --- Ty Cobb and Tiger Woods and Mel Gibson and Steve Jobs and George W. Bush are some examples that come to mind. And, so you do not misunderstand at the outset, the immoral GWB stuff I am thinking about here involves what his team did to John McCain during the 2000 GOP primaries.)

As for why I "like" some of what Trump has done despite his immoral birther stuff and his lothario misogyny: I have enjoyed greatly how Trump has been so willing and so eager and so able to slash/burn/expose so many phony political and media and religious elites of all stripes --- especially folks like the Clintons and Bill's most rabid supporters, certain leaders of the so-called "religious" right, and "political experts" on the left and the right who persistently failed to appreciate the power and appeal of a nativist, big-govt advocate who refuses to play by "polite" rules.

Indeed, if Trump had the good sense to take a libertarian turn after securing the GOP nomination, had candidly admitted birther talk was just to get publicity and to appeal to the nativist GOP base, and then talked seriously about radically reducing the size of the federal govt, he might have still had a real chance to get me to think seriously about his candidacy. (I also think, FWIW, Trump's embrace of term limits and his release of many possible SCOTUS appointments are commendable moves for a major party Prez nominee. Indeed, I likely would vote for Gary Johnson if he had the sense to make similar moves and did not seem so dopey on so many other fronts.)

Similarly, if you were not so quick to jump to wrong conclusions about the "likes" of those who disagree with you on some fronts, perhaps you would also readily realize that I actually like your pugnacious style. (Why else would I keep engaging you? Why else would I miss Bill Otis so much here?) I genuinely wish many others were also willing and eager to be pugnacious here and elsewhere in discussion of important matter of public policy --- though, ideally, without your often gratuitous name calling.

And if you were as smart as you think you are, federalist, you would also understand how comical and foolish it is to assert Trump --- a billionaire child of privilege with an ivy degree and business/branding success who is now the GOP nominee --- is somehow "not polished." You must be drinking liberal Kool-aid if you think Trump is not polished simply because he is not "politically correct." There is a huge difference between being impolite and being not polished, but you (like far too many) apparently conflate these matters. Indeed, another reason I find Trump to be such an interesting/important figure in our modern political landscape is that he has shown that a polished form of impolite talk can garner a remarkable base of political support without any real policy chops to back up the impolite talk. (He has shown also that his kind of polish can readily lead people to assume you mean what you say now not what you said 5 or 10 or 15 or 25 years ago.)

Now, to parrot your own ad hominem silliness while being much more accurate: a lot of the reason you dislike Obama, I suspect, is that he has had a much more successful legal career than you (even though you likely believe you are smarter than he is) AND because his perspectives have the support of a majority of voting (and non-voting) Americans while yours obviously do not.

The bottom line, federalist, is that you are such an extreme partisan in part because you apparently sincerely believe that you are not one. And I will close by noting you have not yet shown any interest in taking up my challenge to subject your partisan moral claims about Trump and Obama to any "fair observers."

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 20, 2016 11:04:10 PM

Odd turn of the thread Doug.

Trump is not a polished candidate, and he is gauche. He's arrogant, and he's done some things that, in my mind, should keep him out of polite company.

As for Obama, I don't envy his legal talent, and I guarantee you that I would not have made the mistake about not exempting criminal Haitians. His letter regarding affirmative action as Harvard Law Review President was pathetic, and anyone who doesn't know the difference between liability insurance and casualty insurance is, to be blunt, not someone whose intellect I'd envy.

Personally, I think Obama is an effete, urbane phony (that's why I don't like him personally). I loathe him for lying to military widows and a host of other things.

Why in the world would I subject myself to endless debate over the "who is more moral" question? Anyone who wants to join in the fray can do it here--so yeah, I have no interest.

Sorry I got the wrong impression about you and Trump--didn't know you had such feelings for him.

Bottom line, Doug, there are so many points of mine that you did not remotely address. And I've shredded some of your arguments---I mean seriously, criticizing Palin for making a comment about Obama hanging out with Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers? That all you got?

You think I engage in gratuitous name-calling? Well, given what some of the 'rat judges do, they should be called names.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 21, 2016 9:41:17 AM

Trump is a VERY "polished candidate" when it comes to promoting his brand, and that is why he prevailed in stunning fashion over the rest of the (also polished) GOP field. I am also not sure I would use the adjective "guache" because it is defined as "lacking ease or grace; unsophisticated and socially awkward." Again, I struggle greatly with a description of Trump --- a billionaire, child of privilege with an ivy degree and business/branding success who is now the GOP nominee --- as "lacking ease or grace; unsophisticated and socially awkward." The adjective "crude" might be what you mean when defined as "offensively coarse or rude, especially in relation to sexual matters." And certainly "impolite" fits DJT.

I have "feelings" for everyone in the public eye, federalist, but your partisan perspective (and your inaccurate assumptions about my views and "likes") blind you from understanding all the nuances behind those "feelings." It also leads you, yet again, to mischaracterize what I say, as I have not here engaged in "criticizing Palin for making a comment about Obama." I rather referenced Palin's comment as an example of rough-and-tumble shots at Obama that seem to me different in kind (i.e., not immoral with an element of truth) than birther talk (immoral without any element of truth).

Indeed, Palin is one of my feminist political heroes --- in large part because she has a "pugnacious style" that I think more female politicians on both sides of the aisle ought to willing to adopt in order to raise their profile and thus enhance their relative power. (Also, I still especially "like" that Palin honored HRC for putting cracks in the glass ceiling in her 2008 speech when named as McCain's running mate. And, I think HRC's enduring success despite so many of her own moral failings is largely a product of her "pugnacious style" --- though I wish she extended that style to her pug of a husband.)

I agree that I did not address much in your miasma of words about topics other than the one I wanted to focus on --- namely your views on the morality of Trump v. Obama. And, fittingly, when I challenged you to subject your obviously partisan perspective on that front to the judgment of "fair observers," you suddenly "have no interest" because it will make it that much harder for you to remain a legend in your own mind. No surprise there, as it fits with your unwillingness to sign your real name to all your comments here and elsewhere.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 21, 2016 11:30:33 AM

I know Doug that you like to play at argument as a sporting exercise. This post and the subsequent commentary make that abundantly clear.

You said there was "a significant blow to my continued ability to have continued respect for the professional honesty and personal integrity of at least some former US Attorneys." I objected based on the fact that Trump's quote was half-serious and that consent appeared to be embedded in the commentary. But that's not the point---the point is that these are very strong words on your part for what seems to be a relatively minor transgression. You then went on to pillory the birther talk. Now you're saying that Trump would have been all good had he taken policy positions you agree with and admitted the birther talk.

Whatever. It seems to me that where we are on the merits is:

(1) You think that Trump's birther talk is somehow sui generis when it comes to the political discourse in this country---that, notwithstanding truly ugly comments from Obama and others (note: you do not dispute that "Latinos punish their enemies" isn't truly ugly, nor do you take issue with my characterization of other quotes.

(2) Some of the side issues you've lost--for example when you said that you didn't "rag" on Sessions--yeah, you did. Another example is equating the never Trumpers with Obama because Obama went for the Dem nomination---Obama is campaigning for Clinton. Or when you missed the point about the crap that Coakley did and the crap that Trump said. That was weak Doug, and it's interesting that you insult my intelligence---well, don't you look silly?

(3) You have this weird obsession with trying to make me vouch for Obama's morality. To that end, you pooh-pooh Obama's reprehensible four Pinocchio statement to a military widow--a statement whose context makes it even worse. You can't address those points, so what do you do--whine because I don't like effete urbane professor types like Obama. So what? I didn't judge Obama on that--I just remarked that I don't like him for that, and I separated that from the moral judgment.

(4) The citation of Palin was weak. She was right about Obama's association with Ayers and Dohrn. Yet another example of your view that lese-majeste rules apply to Obama. Why can't you admit you were wrong?

(5) Trump--he's certainly not a polished candidate, and he's coarse (gauche is often used as a synonym for gauche). Your points about his pedigree don't shake my assessment one iota.

(6) HRC--what success? Making a mess of Libya? The "reset" button?

(7) The partisan charge--it seems I've batted away that charge again and again. The poisoned discourse in America (at least nationally) is largely a D issue, and the two things you cited as counterexamples just don't get it done. And Doug, I don't recall you calling into question Obama's integrity etc when he endorsed Coakley. The upshot--I think you ascribe your partisanship to me.

I have pointed out numerous examples--factual examples--you don't dispute what they show--and they are directly germane to the issue at hand, the Trump v. Obama morality comparison. Does casual (and wrong) denigration of American servicemen have bearing on morality in someone running for POTUS. The fact is, and you can't say it, that the examples I've given of Obama bear on the question.

Thus, your whole "federalist is anonymous" and "federalist won't put it out there for the world"---well, I am right here, and you think yourself capable--then deal with the arguments on a forthright basis. You want to vouch for Obama, then deal with the examples I've chosen. If you can't, your "of course, Obama is more moral than Trump" is just a recitation of polite opinion, not the product of any serious analysis.

One example can show the flaw of mainstream polite opinion. Do you remember how Michelle Obama talked about being proud of her country for the first time? The media leapt to her defense--deeming criticism of that ugly statement to be unfair because it had only been a slip of the tongue. The problem with that narrative is that she had that same slip of the tongue in Madison Wisconsin and Milwaukee Wisconsin. (It's hard to call something a tongue-slip when it happens twice.) Thus, it appears that the criticism was valid.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 22, 2016 12:13:36 PM

Lots more words, federalist, while still failing to confront the plain reality of your responses to my simple inquiry as to how you assessed the morality of Trump and Obama. Your latest amusing claim, after ever more D bashing, is that " 'Obama is more moral than Trump' is just a recitation of polite opinion." No, federalist, this is nearly EVERYONE'S opinion -- including yours, because you indicated that in private life, "Trump is far more immoral" than Obama.

But, ever the partisan, you pivot to huff/puff that the "poisoned discourse in America (at least nationally) is largely a D issue." Along the way, you engage only in D bashing and GOP defense --- revealing again your partisan tendencies. Consequently, I have come to conclude you are not as smart as I thought because I know of few very smart people --- save perhaps Trump himself --- who live in such a self-created world of extreme self-delusion.

Finally, I do not have a "weird obsession with trying to make [you] vouch for Obama's morality." Rather, I have been trying to help you appreciate that, especially given Trump's extended birther history, the only folks who currently believe/claim that "Trump would be a more moral Prez than Obama" are partisans. I did not think this would be a hard reality for you to grasp, but apparently it is. So be it.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 22, 2016 4:53:59 PM

I already explained how I came to the conclusion---Trump, on an interpersonal level, is immoral and more immoral than Obama (although I'd argue that Obama's interpersonal morality may not be so great given his comments about his own grandmother who helped to raise him). What I cannot assess is Trump v. Obama as POTUS, since Trump has never held any public office.

You whine that I am off topic with respect to public discourse--but you were the one who brought up the birtherism (which apparently would be all good if Trump would just make the argument you want). I simply contextualized it. And I've noted it's a largely D problem when it comes to senior politicians. It's hard say otherwise, given the evidence I have cited. And it's hard to make the argument, as you have, that somehow Trump's birther talk is worse than the numerous examples I have provided.

You cite what I have called polite opinion--which is the opinion of the yapping class. To see just how badly the yapping class has failed, check out the reaction to Joe Biden's take Trump behind a gym comment. Personally, I am not going to lie and proclaim myself horribly offended--but Biden's comment was wrong. And look at the reaction of the yapping class--with Biden, of course, there is the hypocrisy angle as Biden is handsy often with teens (yeah, there's video) and Trump supporters have been subjected to violence fomented by Dem operatives.

Of course, the news reports on Biden's comments omit his handsiness and the violence against Trump supporters. So forgive me my skepticism about polite opinion.

You continue with your odd Trump's birtherism is sui generis--I don't know why. It's like you're some self-appointed enforcer of lese-majeste rules. The facts: (a) our political discourse is very bad, (b) Trump's birtherism are certainly no worse than comments made by numerous Dem pols and (c) Obama himself has participated in the sewer. You can't deal with that. And in your last post, you cannot even acknowledge that the four Pinocchio answer isn't worse than Trump's birther comments.

(By the way, Doug, how bad should we feel about birther comments directed at a guy who spoke so harshly about rural America?

And you continue with your studied ignorance of things that bear on Obama's morality. Certainly, that is germane to our little discussion.

Your tactics are patently obvious:

(1) In talking about the relative morality between Trumo and Obama let's hyper focus on the birther stuff and ignore or discount stuff on the Obama side of the ledger. Query: how do you justify that? Certainly, if you're going to take the position that Obama is more moral, then how do you ignore some of the stuff I have raised about him?

(2) let;s whine about federalist's partisanship because he's "defending" the GOP--um, Doug, Palin was right about Obama--so do you just disagree with the tone? (More lese-majeste enforcement.)

(3) Let;s quietly walk away from defeats on side issues like comparing Obama to the never Trumpers.

(4) Let's not make explicit your implicit assumption that Trump WOULD lie to a military widow.

(5) Whine about pivoting---um, I'm not--the discourse issue is germane because it puts Trump's comments in context.

This isn;t hard.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 23, 2016 12:11:21 PM

I agree this it is not hard, federalist: it is easy to see from this dialogue what I suggested at the outset, namely that your partisan commitments influence your moral views. I am not "whining" about this obvious reality, federalist, but rather just keep pointing it out as you continue to attack new Dems (now Biden).

I don't need to "hyper-focus" on the birther stuff given all that Trump has done recently, e.g., attacking a Gold Star family, besmirching a federal judge based on his heritage, falsely suggesting a woman was in a sex tape. Trump's birther stuff just provides the most tangible basis for seeing that the only ones likely to think that "Trump could be a more moral Prez than Obama" are partisans like you.

What is hard, federalist, is why such a miasma of words comes from you when I merely note what you own words make plain --- namely that your partisan commitments influence your moral views.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 23, 2016 5:19:00 PM

Oh good grief, Doug, the comment on Biden was to show that polite opinion is demonstrably bad.

As for Trump and the Khans, we've been over that plowed ground---it's not anywhere close to lying to a military widow. As for the federal judge, like I have said before, other than tone, it's difficult to discern the difference between Trump's comment and Sotomayor's "wise Latina" comment--that's no defense to Trump, as his comments are indefensible, but it does show that he's not unique--and Obama has the same problem with rural America. The sex tape stuff is indefensible.

But that's only one side of the ledger---there are a lot of indefensible things that Obama has done, and if we are going to get into Trump v. Obama morality comparison, then Obama's stuff is decidedly part of the issue, and Doug, you studiously ignore that, and simply drone on that I am partisan. But last I checked, falsely denigrating a US war effort (and insulting US troops prosecuting the war effort) is deeply wrong--Obama did that with his statement that America was "just" bombing villages and killing people in Afghanistan. He never apologized for that. I think that's pretty bad on the morality scale.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 24, 2016 9:03:07 AM

Oh good grief, federalist, my comment on your comment on Biden was to show that, AS A PARTISAN, you are quick to bash a Dem in order to showcase that "polite opinion is demonstrably bad." And I am not droning on, federalist, that you are a partisan but rather showcasing, over and over and over and over again USING YOUR OWN lengthy comments here, that it is foolish for you to believe or assert, as you said above, that "there's no basis to suggest that I play it nothing but straight when it comes to moral judgments."

What you keep providing a "basis" for throughout this thread, federalist, is my view that you are an impressively nimble and persistent partisan eager and able to bash Obama and other Dems for sooooo much. In addition to providing a forum and inspiration for your Dem bashing, I have been truly amazed and impressed by just how much anti-D ammo you have so ready to deploy. In am now thinking, federalist, you missed your calling: I find your impressively nimble and persistent bashing of Obama and other Dems far more effective and astute than than what comes from the likes of partisans such as Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. I surmise that folks like Coulter, Hannity and Limbaugh make high 7-figure salaries from bashing Obama and other Dems in ways that seem to me much, much weaker than what you have put on display throughout this thread.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 24, 2016 10:02:24 AM

Few points:

(1) We are talking about Trump v. Obama on a morality scale--so clearly Obama's actions are relevant to this discussion.

(2) We got into a discussion about mainstream/polite opinion (whatever you want to call it). I then showed why there is room to criticize it.

(3) Biden. Bottom line--his recent comment (combined with the context) shows just how distorted this polite opinion is---very fair game for this thread.

At the end of the day, I do play it straight--you don't see me defending the indefensible, and you don't see me ignoring anything you've written.

Coulter is clearly a talent--I don't listen to either of Hannity or Limbaugh.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 24, 2016 10:27:34 AM

A few response points:

1. I agree Obama's actions are relevant, but how relevant are actions/statements by all the other Dems you bash --- e.g., McCaskill, Reid, Durbin, Biden "every single Dem pol," Allan Grayson, Mark Dayton, Al Sharpton, etc? Again, what your comments show is that, as a partisan, you are eager and able to bash Dems whenever you get the chance.

2. You federalist are the one who brought up "mainstream/polite opinion" whereas I noted that EVERYONE's opinion (save perhaps some alt-right folks) is that Trump's extended birther talk is "different in kind" and reflects poorly on his morality (as does lots of other public stuff he has done in just the last few months). Again, what your comments show is that, as a partisan, you think what Trump has done is no worse morally than what Obama has done.

3. And what all partisan's are quick to do, as you show here, is label others' different opinions and say they are wrong. So you use "polite" (and now add "mainstream") to label contrary opinions and then criticize them as "distorted." Again, what your comments show is that, as a partisan, you think what others believe is wrong unless/until it is in accord with your partisan perspective.

I doubt Coulter denies she is a partisan, and thus I continue to wonder why you continue to spend so much time trying to deny the obvious on this front. And, at the end of the day, federalist, you have shown yourself here to be a more nimble, astute (and thus "talented") partisan attacker of Obama and other Dems than Coulter or Hannity or Limbaugh.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 24, 2016 11:28:03 AM

Ok, so you concede that Obama's actions are relevant---so I've got things like making Al Sharpton his go-to guy, all the military stuff etc.---you apparently think that the birther stuff is somehow worse than anything Obama has ever done (and by the way, that's a condition precedent to your opinion btw). Where have you made that case--oh, that "reasonable opinion" says so. Well, I guess I'm unreasonable since:

(1) I don't understand the basis of the "of course, Obama is more moral than the hypo Trump POTUS" given the things Obama has done. You've never remotely addressed that--other than to come late to the party in conceding that the four Pinocchio answer was immoral.

(2) I don't understand the basis of the idea that Trump's statement is so much worse than "typical white person", "rural America," saying that Bush wanted to kill people in NO, threatening FCC licenses for political ads and all the sundry things I have mentioned. Yes, Trump's statement is bad--but his target has himself joined the fray of nastiness. And how bad does Trump's comment look when viewed in the context of the sewer that passes for American political discourse?

You continue to say that I am partisan--but that just doesn't obtain since everything I've said in here is germane to the discussion.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 24, 2016 1:00:44 PM

The birther stuff, federalist, is not just a "statement" or a "comment" -- it is perpetuating and validating, in varying ways, an established falsehood for 5+ years in order to foster a divisive myth that the duly elected Prez has been committing the greatest constitutional fraud in US history. Everyone save you (and perhaps a handful of alt-right folks) view Trump's actions here as "different in kind" and reflecting poorly on his morality. As a partisan, you see it as comparable to stuff Obama has done, but I am unaware of any example of anyone who is not a partisan who sees it this way.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 24, 2016 9:07:39 PM

So there you have it:

The birther stuff is worse than: (a) four Pinocchio answers to military widows and (b) denigrating a US war effort falsely while running for president.

people can see things any way they want---but an assessment of morality involves judgment. And you've exercised precious little here.

And there you go again with the alt-right---well, like I said, your president posted on the sewage-filled DailyKos website.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 25, 2016 8:25:28 AM

Yes, federalist, I think --- as does seemingly everyone else except hard-core partisans like you --- think the birther stuff is morally worse. If/when you can show me JUST ONE "non-partsan" person who has expressly asserted what Obama has said is morally worse than Trump's birther stuff, I will readily admit that your perspective can be held by at least one "non-partisan." But, until you do, I stand by my claim that only a partisan is going to embrace your moral perspective on the relative moral standing of Trump v Obama.

For the record, I can point to many, many, many folks who plainly are not Dem partisans --- indeed, many who are happy and eager to admit they are hard-core conservative who are GOP partisans --- who share my perspective on the relative moral standing of Trump v Obama. Indeed, our pals Tarls and Bill Otis like are in that camp, though I do not want to make are firm assumptions about their moral views without hearing from them directly on the relative moral standing of Trump v Obama.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 25, 2016 9:21:30 AM

The classic appeal to authority.

So what you are saying, just so I am clear, is that Trump's "birtherism" directed as it is towards Obama, a guy who has said plenty of divisive stuff ("typical white person", "Latinos punish their enemies" "rural America") and a guy who backs up his divisiveness by making Al Sharpton his "go to guy on civil rights" and a guy whose administration trashed a law enforcement officer who was defending himself while doing his job (Darren Wilson)--Note, the fact that Obama is "in the game" (as in a politician) and has participated in the sewer that is our discourse is somehow worse than telling a four Pinocchio whopper to a military widow asking a legitimate question about accountability for the death of her husband with the aggravating factors of preaching about the sacred bond and the fact that the stuff happened on his watch.


What you're doing here Doug is using an appeal to authority (and ad hominem) to avoid having to actually defend Obama statements. If I were sucked into the partisan maw, I would do the same--but me, I am not, so I don't get stuck being put in a spot where I either have to defend the indefensible or resort to logical fallacies.

And to boot, Obama denigrated a war effort--do you dispute that he did that? Do you argue it was moral?

And I am not even getting into the fact that Durbin threatened FCC licenses--how is that less bad than birtherism?

You conveniently ignore all of that, as well as the smackdowns you've endured here--Doug, to pick one, you criticized Palin for calling out Obama on Ayers----but she was 100% right about that, so how was that a valid criticism? And how is that remotely comparable to McCaskill or any of the other things I have cited.

What this thread reveals--you are the partisan. You are unwilling to forthrightly admit that the guy you voted for has done some disgraceful things--some of which he did before you cast your vote.

And I don't particularly care for the "sensible conservative" types--Hillary is far worse than Trump, and Obama's DoJ gave her a pass.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 25, 2016 5:14:00 PM

I am not "appeal[ing] to authority," partisan federalist, I am highlighting a telling reality. That telling reality is that NOBODY save you (and perhaps other partisans like Coulter or Hannity or Limbaugh) has even tried to make a serious argument in a serious setting that Trump might prove to be a more moral Prez than Obama. It is really that simple, though you keep using all sorts of partisan blathering to complicate matters to avoid the simple reality.

Meanwhile, I am readily able to admit when the guys and gals I vote for do immoral stuff -- e.g., I voted for Bill Clinton twice, holding my nose while doing so because of his obvious personal immorality. I also will be holding my moral nose while voting this fall. And I also agree Obama has done a lot of ugly stuff (some I might call "immoral" other I would give a different label) while Prez (and before), just as did GWB and GHWB and RWR and JEC and RMN and so on and so on. I am not one to claim that anyone (myself included) is morally pure --- indeed, I am not sure any successful politician can remain successful in our modern era while preserving their morality fully in tact. But that is all besides the point, because the question we have been discussing, in an effort to assess you partisanship nature, was your views on the relative morality of Trump v. Obama. You never-ending Dem bashing responses served to continuously make my point and to continuously reduce my respect for your ability to admit and face up to reality when it does not serve your peculiar self-created inflated personal opinion.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 25, 2016 6:48:36 PM

Also, partisan federalist, your eagerness now to bring this silly extended conversation into another thread strikes me as still more proof that (a) you are a partisan, and (b) you are dealing very poorly with the fact that you keep proving your partisan nature through your own partisan miasma of words.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 25, 2016 6:49:53 PM

"appeal to authority" is a logical fallacy . . . . and believe me, you're engaged in it. You should start by getting that right.

Trump v. Obama morality--everything I've said on this post is germane to that issue.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 26, 2016 10:04:47 AM

Wow, your Trumpian tendencies now extend, partisan federalist, to now saying "believe me" when you make a silly point and avoid an important simple one, namely that your moral judgments are obviously influenced by your partisan perspectives.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 26, 2016 4:08:35 PM

Wow--all I said was that I couldn't be sure that Trump would lie to the face of a military widow, and therefore I am a partisan. How do you know that I'm just not a big-time supporter of the military?

Posted by: federalist | Oct 26, 2016 6:23:18 PM

Actually, I assume you are, federalist, given your military history. But if you were not a pure partisan, I think you would have said something like I am hopeful, based on his recent stated affinity for the military, that Trump will treat the military in a more moral and honorable way than has Obama. That would be a nice nuanced statement that would, inter alia, "suggest that [you] play it nothing but straight when it comes to moral judgments." But we did not get anything like that, instead we got all sorts of week defenses of Trump public comments/act and all sorts of attacks on all sorts of Dem statements.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 26, 2016 7:08:01 PM

Doug, you posit a nuanced statement---but there's no daylight between my "Hey, I don't know that Trump would give a four Pinocchio answer to a military widow." and your "I would hope . . . ."

So, at long last, you've seen the light on that.

As for "weak defenses"--I hardly think that comparing Trump's birtherism statements to the "typical white person," "Latinos punish their enemies", "broadcast an ad we don't like and we'll yank your license", and all the other statements I've mentioned is defending them. It's saying they are bad--but what you're saying is that Trump's birther stuff (which you would have looked past if he had just walked it back in the way you wanted) is sui generis. And that is just not the case. No amount of appealing to chattering class opinion can change that.

The Dem statements I raised contextualized Trump's comments in two significant ways--(1) they utterly refute your argument that Trump is somehow unique in the ugliness of his political discourse and (2) they show that Trump's target is not just part of the game (which doesn't aggravate the immorality, unlike Obama's statement to the widow), but that his target plays that sewer game himself.

Once again, this isn't hard. All of these issues are completely germane to the discussion at hand--Trump v. Obama.

You have a partisan blind spot---you cite all this nonsense about Palin and Obama's pal around comment. Hmmmmm. He did fundraise with Ayers and they ran in the same circle. "pal around" is fair commentary, and the "fact check" stuff is utterly ridiculous--it's flyspecking a half-tongue in cheek comment that is basically accurate. You clown yourself by relying on that nonsense.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 27, 2016 1:42:46 PM

So now your defense, partisan federalist, is that there is no difference between a proper nuanced criticism of Obama and your foolish claim that Trump could be a more moral Prez than Obama. But if you really believed bad/foolish word choices/statements do not matter substantively or morally, you would have no basis to criticize so severely all the Dems you bash for their bad/foolish word choices/statements. But you do not see the contradiction because you are such a partisan.

Again, that has been my only point again and again and again. The only way I can be predict what you say and think in this setting is based on your partisan commitments e.g., despite the fact that your persistent attack on Obama is based on one "fact check" source that rates on a four Pinocchio scare, you then assert the the "fact check stuff is utterly ridiculous" when it criticizes Palin. Hmmm, so appeal to that authority is critical for you when it calls out a Dem, but it is "ridiculous" when it call out a GOP.

Ever the Trumpian, partisan federalist, I look forward to hearing you start claiming that it is so obvious you are a partisan only because the internet is biased against you and the comment space here is rigged. ;-)

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 28, 2016 7:41:02 AM

Doug--are you taking issue with the WaPo fact check? It's right. Everyone knows that nothing really has been done about the horrible stuff that has gone on at the VA. By referencing that fact check, I am not vouching for every fact check in the press. And I am not appealing to authority---the fact check is right in Obama's case.

With respect to Palin's comment--Obama attended Ayers' home and held a fund-raiser there, and he ran in the same leftist/progressive circles in Chicago as Ayers and Dohrn. "Palling around" is not inconsistent with that, particularly given the semi-tongue in cheek nature of the comment. In other words, the "fact check" gets out of fact checking and into refereeing the "poetic license" so to speak. That's garbage. And no, Doug, it's not ugly. Bill Ayers is a loathesome creature (I loved your "political criminal" euphemism).

You characterized my attack as based on one thing---but no no no no no, that is flat out wrong (are you really this disingenuous?). I criticized him for "typical white person" (his own grandmother who helped to raise him), "Latinos punish their enemies", "just" running around Afghanistan and bombing villages. The four Pinocchio statement IS a big deal, and I am not willing to assume that Trump would do such a thing. And I am also not sure that Trump would lead the charge to prevent the protection of babies that survived an abortion, as Obama did.

Obama's morality as an elected official is definitely open to question and to assume, like you do, that Trump would be worse, is partisan nonsense.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 28, 2016 10:00:35 AM

When not tapping their toes in airport mens rooms for gay sex, molesting their sisters, stepping out on their wives or having sexual relationships with high school boys, Rightists are busy pretending to corner the market on morality and family values.

Be it a talking orangutan suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, or an effeminate southern bigot, they are all hypocrites who wouldn't recognize the truth if the truth walked up to them and kicked them in their long balls.


Posted by: Huh? | Dec 5, 2016 5:50:18 PM

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