About Wanderings

Each week I will post my current syndicated newspaper column that focuses upon social issues, the media, pop culture and whatever might be interesting that week. During the week, I'll also post comments (a few words to a few paragraphs) about issues in the news. These are informal postings. Check out http://www.facebook.com/walterbrasch And, please go to http://www.greeleyandstone.com/ to learn about my latest book.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Division in the Nation’s Political Parties

by Walter Brasch

      Hillary Rodham Clinton limped into the Democratic National Convention with enough pledged delegates to claim the Democrats’ nomination for the presidency and enough hubris that forced her and her senior advisors to spend time and resources dealing with her own party rather than targeting Donald Trump.
      She had emerged from numerous Congressional hearings about Benghazi and the e-mail scandals with minimal or no culpability, but was sprayed by maximum venom by Trump, other Republican nominees for the presidency, and almost every conservative in the country who regularly watches Fox News and listens to partisan talk radio.
      Numerous polls had revealed about 58 percent of voters disliked both Clinton and Trump, with the numbers of voters favoring each of them trending downward.
      The Republican convention had been marked by a sharp division among Trump, Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and moderates who didn’t like either of the last two remaining Republicans for their party’s nomination. Many of Cruz’s both ardent supporters were thinking about voting for Gary Johnson of the Libertarian party.
      The Democratic convention, which closed this past Thursday, was also marred by a major split. Clinton—a child and social justice advocate, First Lady, U.S. senator, and secretary of state—is seen as more conservative and less trustworthy than Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a Democratic Socialist who has led a major revolt against establishment politics and policies. During the primaries, he accumulated about 12 million votes and 1,894 delegates to Clinton’s 16 million votes and 2,807 delegates. For much of the campaign, while Sanders was drawing as many as 20,000 to his rallies, and was broadening his appeal to those who wanted to follow his leadership on liberal issues, the national media gave him significantly less coverage than they gave to the Tweeting Trump.
      Three days before the convention, Clinton, who would become the nation’s first female candidate from a major political party, announced that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who had been chair of the Democratic National Committee, 2009–2011, was her choice as vice-president, angering the Sanders’ supporters who saw Kaine as representing the established Democratic leadership.
      On the Sunday afternoon before the convention, a protest and a resignation furthered the division. The protest was carried out by more than 10,000 anti-fracking activists who marched a mile from City Hall to Independence Hall; the march was barely covered by the major national media. Clinton favors fracking as one part of an “all of the above” approach to energy exploration and delivery. Sanders is adamant there should be a ban on fracking and a greater push for renewable energy.
      The DNC platform committee closed some of the division between Sanders and Clinton’s supporters by accepting or modifying some of what Sanders and his 12 million voters were fighting for, including a federal minimum living wage of $15 an hour, plans to break up large Wall Street banks, free tuition for most students attending public colleges, and several policies that would protect the environment and enhance medical coverage for citizens.
      The resignation was from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the DNC chair who was caught in an e-mail scandal of her own. Among thousands of internal e-mails among Democratic politicians and senior staffers that were hacked, and then posted on Wikileaks, were those that had revealed a partisan campaign by DNC officials to discredit Sanders and to support Clinton. The release of the e-mails occurred three days earlier. The FBI said that cyber-tech experts hired by the DNC believed the hacking was done by Russians who preferred to deal with a Trump presidency.
      Trump, on the third night of the Democrats’ convention, grabbed the media spotlight by suggesting Russia could hack into DNC and Clinton e-mails and make them available to the American citizens. A senior campaign aide hours later said Trump was being sarcastic.
      Trump’s campaign staff had choreographed much of the Republican convention. Seeking to unify the party, they gave Cruz a speaking slot on the third night. Cruz, who was expected to endorse Trump, listened to his followers, spoke about Republican issues, did not endorse Trump, and told the 2,472 delegates they, and the nation’s Republican voters, should “vote your conscience.” There was only one day to counter the stinging rebuke by a large segment of the party that was divided before and during the convention, and is likely to remain divided for at least the next three months.
      The Democrats had learned a lesson. The liberal wing of a liberal party got prime-time speaking slots the first day of the convention. If there was any problem, it could be addressed the next three days and, hopefully, forgotten by Friday.
      Addressing the delegates during the prime-time first night, which carried the theme of “Unite Together,” were Michelle Obama, Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.), all of whom enthusiastically praised Clinton, all of whom attacked Donald Trump, but didn’t mention his name. Sanders, who had previously endorsed Clinton and spoke on her behalf the first night of the convention, had angered many of his followers who wanted him to defect to an independent race or, at the least, support Jill Stein, the Green Party’s nominee.
      Nevertheless, the delegates pledged to Sanders were still largely loyal to the 74-year-old fiery politician who spoke of social justice and could be anyone’s nice Jewish crotchety grandfather. The delegates were still upset by party rules that favored Clinton, who Sanders’ supporters believed was too close to corporate interests and corporate money to earn their trust; many believed that Sanders, who enthusiastically endorsed Clinton and said he’d work for her, as a sell-out. When speakers mentioned her name, they booed. More important, they correctly perceived Sanders’ campaign as one of a bottoms-up political revolution, swelling from and empowering the grassroots masses, similar to the one carved out by Sen. Gene McCarthy against President Johnson in 1968; Clinton, they also knew, was a “top-down” politician. Their rebuke, and possible defection to the Green Party or staying at home for the general election, came not from the politicians, but from a comedian. Sarah Silverman, a strong supporter of Sanders, in one sentence on stage silenced many of them—“Can I just say to the Bernie or Bust people: You’re being ridiculous.”
      The Republicans paraded a couple of actors, Scott Baio and Antonio Sabato Jr., to praise Trump. The Democrats countered with Meryl Streep, Angela Bassett, Susan Sarandon, Sigourney Weaver, Debbie Massing, Lena Dunham, America Ferrara, and the support of most of Hollywood’s “A-list.”
      Bill Clinton spent the first 25 minutes of his speech on the convention’s second day rambling about how he and Hillary Clinton met and were intertwined as a team, perhaps hoping to humanize the woman who constantly faced claims, by persons across a wide political spectrum, that she was cold, calculating, untrustworthy, and someone who was well-shielded by layers of gatekeepers who kept the public away from her except for photos.
      The stars on the third night of the Democratic convention were people the Republicans wished they had—the president and vice-president of the United States. The president told the delegates that “homegrown demagogues will always fail,” a blunt reference to Trump. He brought even more cheers when he talked about Teddy Roosevelt’s idea of a great leader being one who “strives valiantly, who errs, but who in the end knows the triumph of high achievement,” and said he knows Clinton is such a leader. But, even having Barack Obama and Joe Biden didn’t mend the Democrats’ division; the DNC revoked credentials of several dozen delegates who were pledged to Sanders, and walked out of the convention hall after the votes were recorded the day before.
      For three days, the TV cameras recorded a sea of delegates who reflected America—Christians, Jews, and Muslims; straight delegates and those who were part of the LGBTQ community; working class Americans who were supported by labor unions, and business executives who drew six-figure salaries; Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and persons whose parents came from Asia. No one had to say it, but the cameras showed a difference between Democratic and Republican issues and values.
      For much of the four-day convention, senior retired military officers, law enforcement officers, and the mothers of children killed by gun fire on America’s streets and mothers of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, told the delegates why they supported a Clinton presidency. For much of the convention, teachers, politicians, musicians, social workers, and middle-class union workers addressed the delegates. But, it was Hillary Clinton who brought the delegates to the feet, shouting and clapping and laughing in all the right places, and closing the last night of the last convention.
      Donald Trump has preached the doctrine of fear; Hillary Clinton has calmly explained her vision of strength and improvement. Trump, who egotistically proclaimed, “I, alone, can fix it,” was diminished by Clinton’s “It takes a village” approach to solving problems.
      And that’s just two of the major reasons the next president will be the first woman elected to the office—division or no division.
      [Dr. Brasch has covered politics and government for more than four decades. His current book, his 20th, is Fracking America: Sacrificing Health and the Environment for Short-Term Economic Benefit.]

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Lessons from the Trump-a-Thon

by Walter Brasch
      The four day Trump-a-thon, sometimes noted as the Republican National Convention, ended this week in Cleveland, with the Republican party still divided and Donald Trump’s ego inflated larger than a Macy’s parade balloon. Trump was all over the convention hall, the hotels, and in the media, chatting, arguing, scowling, and boasting. It was Trump’s convention, and he knew it.
      Trump had begun his run for the nomination with a simple but powerful campaign theme, “Make America Great Again,” refusing to accept the reality that most countries see the United States as the world’s most powerful country and its president is one of the world’s most respected leaders. Slipping into the campaign, promoted by the Tea Party wing, is a plea to “Take Our Country Back.” Back to what? To the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s and the House Un-American Activities Committee witch hunts of the 1950s? To the worst recession since the Great Depression that had begun in 1929? To the race riots of the late 1960s? The two slogans, appearing on almost every piece of campaign memorabilia, are part of what “communicologists” call “branding.”
      In his run to make America great, Trump used vulgar language to ridicule a Fox News female anchor, questioned the integrity of a judge who has Mexican parents, mocked a disabled reporter, declared he would build a wall on the U.S./Mexican border and require Mexico to pay for it, demanded that the U.S. block the entry of anyone who is a Muslim, declared if he was president he would abolish Obamacare, claimed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was no hero for enduring almost seven years in a Vietnamese prison camp, boldly stated he would be able to destroy ISIS, demanded that his potential vice-president candidates submit 10 years of tax returns while he refused to release any of his own financial reports, and juggled the facts worse than any circus clown with grease on his hands.
      State after state, Trump energized the disgruntled and disillusioned who believed they were ignored by the leadership of their party and who opposed just about anything the Obama administration tried to do. He got sustained applause when he attacked the “lyin’ lib’ral media,” but was adept at using the media to get his message to the conservative wing of the party. His speeches and constant Twitter messages established him not as a savior of Republican values, but as a populist demagogue. However, his greatest trick was to convince Republican voters that a billionaire real estate tycoon who had a small fleet of airplanes and boats, who once was a Democrat, and who once praised Hillary Clinton, was an outsider who could relate to them.
      In December, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) condemned Trump for his bigotry—which was embraced by several million Americans who had given him the nomination. “It’s not who we are as a people or a country,” said Ryan, who now in the convention gave Trump his endorsement. Ironically, while the conservative base refuses to accept LGBTQ individuals and condemns same-sex marriage, Trump has repeatedly said they have civil rights that must be acknowledged. There is just enough in Trump’s political beliefs to entice moderates and even liberals.
       On the first day of the convention, long after Trump had secured enough votes to be the party’s nominee, the Colorado delegation, which supported Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), walked out, showing disrespect for the leadership that wasn’t open to modifying party rules.
       Boycotting the convention were several prominent Republican leaders, including six governors and 21 senators, as well as former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, Sen. McCain, the party’s nominee in 2008, and Mitt Romney, the party’s nominee in 2012, none of whom were pleased that Trump would be the 2016 standard bearer.
      Also missing was Ohio Gov. John Kasich. About one-fifth of the Ohio delegation told the Columbus Dispatch they would not vote for Trump under any condition; about two-fifths of the Ohio delegation said they would not campaign for him. About 85 percent said Trump—who has been married three times, who has committed adultery, whose profanity-laced rhetoric and outrageous comments about other Republicans in the primary race—was not the best choice to lead the self-proclaimed “family values” party into the November general election. To blunt those who wanted their candidate to reflect the family values that pervaded 1950s TV shows, Trump constantly praised his wife and children, something necessary to establish the nominee as a family member and keep any more delegates from defecting.
      The division became more hostile on the third night of the convention when Cruz, the last of a field of 17 major Republican candidates to seek the Republicans’ nomination, and a strong supporter of Tea Party politics, didn’t endorse Trump and asked the nation to “vote your conscience.” His declaration of separation was greeted by cheers, boos, and phrases that aren’t usually published or aired by establishment media.
      The prime-time speeches were short on substance and heavy with hyperbolic rhetoric, filled with fear-mongering and jingoistic appeals to a conservative base that is largely middle-class whites. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) summed up much of the Republican grassroots base when he claimed whites contributed more to civilization than any other group.
      Melania Trump’s first night speech was so well delivered that the speech writer resigned. The Trumps refused to accept her resignation, however, saying that all people make innocent mistakes. Her mistake, as reported by almost every reporter at the convention, was that she copied a few sentences from Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic convention. Trump spent almost two days denying plagiarism charges before acknowledging the problem.
      Most of the speakers, possibly lining up to get cabinet appointments and ambassadorships in a Trump presidency, reflected Trump’s views of society. They touted his business acumen as an indicator he would be far superior than anyone else in dealing with the economy, even though most economists from all political perspectives have debunked Trump’s economic plan, which would add about $30–35 trillion to the national debt, and would rival the recession of the last two years of the George W. Bush presidency. The convention speakers didn’t mention anything about Trump’s four bankruptcies, his proposal to give additional tax breaks to millionaires and corporations, or lawsuits filed by individuals and the state of New York against Trump for illegal business practices and for defrauding students who enrolled in Trump University, which was neither accredited nor gave college credits. 
      The speakers, facing TV audiences that varied from 20 to 30 million viewers, praised Trump’s philosophy that a livable wage of $15 an hour is too much for businesses to survive, and that a low minimum wage is desirable. They didn’t mention that during the primary campaign Trump pushed for American-made products while he outsourced much of his Trump-named products to countries where 12-hour working days, unsafe work places, and low wages are common. To thunderous applause, they did mention that Trump would curb the power of unions, something that the candidate has already done with many of his properties where workers don’t have unions to protect them.
      Conservatives emphasized that they, and they alone, are patriotic Americans. For those on the far-right of the political spectrum, being a patriot to conservatives means being willing to spend more than half of the nation’s budget on defense and having the power to send youth to fight wars half a hemisphere away. It doesn’t align with Dwight Eisenhower’s philosophy that “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
      The conservative movement, represented by 2,472 delegates claimed they, and they alone, could be entrusted to defend the Constitution, although the part they know seems to be confined to nuzzling up to the NRA and the 2nd Amendment, and defending a non-existent right to own every kind of weapon short of a nuclear bomb, but were pleasantly secure within a gun-free zone that surrounded their convention.
      They frequently declared they, and they alone, would be the ones best able to lower crime, disregarding numerous studies that show a decline in crime during the the Obama administration.
      They also believe in creationism, question the theory of evolution, believe that merging religion and the state is acceptable, and Planned Parenthood isn’t. They oppose abortion, even if it’s to preserve a mother’s life, and then devote millions of dollars to oppose programs that help low-income families.
      Climate change is a liberal myth say a solid minority of delegates. Fracking is good and would make the U.S. energy-independent, they claim, skating around the facts that oil and gas corporations, which accept more than $20 billion in taxpayer subsidies a year, are exporting oil and natural gas. Fossil fuel is the past, present, and future, they claim, blindly ignoring the reality that there are more jobs in the renewable energy industry than in fossil fuels, and that most nations, especially those in the Middle East oil-exporting countries, are significantly increasing the use of solar and wind energy.
      They believe in private schools, private retirement plans, and want to sell off public land. They want to “reign in” the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, which they see as having too much regulatory power, apparently believing that oil and gas and food and pharmaceutical corporations will do what’s best for the consumer and not what’s best for the stockholders.
      Throughout the convention, the delegates and speakers unleashed their venom on Hillary Rodham Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent, calling her evil, corrupt, a liar, and someone who should be in prison. Many delegates compared her to Satan. Licking County (Ohio) Commissioner Duane Flowers said Clinton “should be hanging from a tree.” Clinton, said Al Baldasaro, a senior Trump advisor and a delegate from New Hampshire, “should be put in the firing line and shot for treason.” Their statements reflected the far-right demeanor that has been guiding the party.
      Donald Trump, who can be charming, seldom smiles, his demeanor noted by his lips, which are constantly frowning or sneering, reflecting his party’s campaign strategy of bar-room profanity-laced anger rather than substance. He is the face of what the Republican party has become.
[Dr. Brasch, an award-winning journalist and university professor, has covered politics and government for more than four decades. His latest book is Fracking America: Sacrificing Health and the Environment for Short-Term Economic Benefit.]


Friday, July 15, 2016

Bathrooms are the New Battlefields for Politicians

by Walter Brasch

      When I was a junior at San Diego State, I had a sudden urge to need a restroom. The closest one was clearly marked, “Faculty Men Only.” The nearest one for male students was on the other side of the building.
      I did what any rational person would do—I used the faculty restroom.
      One of the professors, who was using a urinal a couple spaces away, told me the restroom was for professors only. (I assumed there were separate restrooms for staff.) “What department are you in,” asked the prof.
      In my deeper voice, I responded I was with sociology, hoping he knew little about the sociology faculty.
      “Just out of grad school?” he asked.
      “Yeah,” I replied, hoping that I looked much older than my 19 years. I wasn’t lying. I was “with sociology”—as a student, though. And, since I had no plans to go to grad school, I was truly “out of grad school.”
      The prof. said nothing more, apparently finished with emptying his bladder and, hopefully, needing to rush to the sink and then a class.
      That brief encounter burnished a memory into my mind.
      San Diego State no longer separates students from staff or faculty, but states do discriminate.
      Twenty-two states have filed suits in federal courts to block a federal government regulation requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use the restrooms of whichever sex they identify with.
      The Department of Justice says the new regulation conforms to the will of the Civil Rights Act. The attorneys general of the states that filed the suit claim the government’s regulation is an over-reach that violates the authority of local school districts while also violating student, staff, and faculty privacy. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the regulation is enforceable. Jay Kaplan, an attorney with the Michigan ACLU, told the AP the suits are not only a waste of taxpayer funds but also “an assault on the dignity of transgender youth.” Perhaps society is best served by separating politicians from the public—straight male Democratic politician; lesbian female Republican politician; there could be 10 or so such restricted restrooms to identify most sexual and genetic orientation.
      Unlike gays and lesbians (who identify with persons of the same sex), transgender individuals—unlike actors and entertainers (many known as drag queens or drag queens) who portray persons of the opposite sex—are those whose fetal brains and gene structure, rather than external anatomy, identify them by gender rather than sexual orientations. Transitioning requires more than surgery; the anatomy and genetics are just a part of who an individual is.
      Both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association in the mid-1970s determined that LGBT individuals did not suffer from psychological disorders or mental illness and had to be “cured.”
About 6 percent of Americans (1.4 million) identify as transgender, with California, Florida, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Texas, having the highest proportion of transgender individuals, according to a study from UCLA.
Like gays and lesbians, most transgender individuals hide their identities until at least when they become adults because of the fear of discrimination. A study by Angela Dallaria for GLAAD revealed about 90 percent of all transgender individuals believe they are discriminated at work and in receiving health care. They are not protected under civil rights laws of most states. However, in 2010, New York extended equal rights to the LGBT individuals.
Numerous scientific and criminal justice studies have discredited the belief that LGBT individuals have any tendency toward bestiality, child abuse, incest, or pedophilia. “Such claims, innuendoes, and associations,” according to GLAAD, “often are used to insinuate that LGBT people pose a threat to society, to families, and to children in particular.”
      Discrimination against LGBT individuals because of dictates in the Bible or Koran are easily dismissed. As their societies have become enlightened, there are numerous verses and requirements of daily living that are no longer practiced by Christians and Muslims, nor any other religion. Both Jews and Christians, using the same Old Testament, have different interpretations of their religious literature. Most Jews, as well as several Protestant denominations, tend to be more tolerant and accepting of the LGBT community; most evangelical Christians tend to be more discriminatory. Pope Francis urged Catholics to be more tolerant and accepting of non-heterosexual individuals, writing, “A pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws . . .  as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives.”
      And yet, 22 U.S. states have filed suits to force those who honestly believe they are a different gender than their external anatomy to use “gender-appropriate” restrooms.
      Pre-pubescent children of all sexual and gender identities play together—and accept each other. Discrimination later in life comes from parents, relatives, the media, and general society. Most children, probably from fears of bullying and harassment, will still use restrooms that are marked the same as their external anatomy.
      It is time to have teachers and school boards retrained, using psychological and medical studies, and for the federal rules to be implemented for those who identify as LGBT individuals. Perhaps in another generation or two, public restrooms for all individuals will be acceptable, unlike the classrooms that were once common and accepted at my undergraduate university, and are still accepted throughout the country. In the meantime, politicians should be focusing more on greater issues than who uses a bathroom.
      [Dr. Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor emeritus from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. His latest book is Fracking America: Sacrificing Health and the Environment for Short-Term Economic Benefit.]





Friday, July 8, 2016

Clinton Drops Baggage; Conservatives looking for Another Scandal

by Walter Brasch

      Three weeks before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Hillary Rodham Clinton unloaded heavy baggage.
      In an extremely rare news conference, FBI director James Comey summarized the conclusions of a seven month FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of a personal email rather than more secure governmental servers during her four years as secretary of state.
      Clinton’s role in the attack upon the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four dead in September 2012, had been a major campaign issue. Conservatives and 16 major Republican candidates for the Republican nomination for president had used what they said was her slow defense of the consulate to attack her. However, several investigations by Congressional committees, chaired by Republicans, found no culpability on Clinton’s part. The cost is about $7 million.
      Unable to gain significant traction, the conservatives looked for another possible scandal, and found it with her use of personal email to conduct government business. For more than a year, they have hammered on this scandal. Their hope had been to pull votes from Clinton to Bernie Sanders, believing that Sanders, if nominated, was the weaker opposition to the final few Republican candidates. What has resulted is a debt incurred by taxpayers that is at least $20 million for the investigation, according to the Fiscal Times.
      Clinton hurt her campaign by delayed response to the allegations she compromised national security and then by dodging and weaving on her public comments, allowing the scandal to fester and explode. The conservatives got additional ammunition when a meeting between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Lynch fell into their laps. Both claim the meeting in Phoenix was accidental, and the main topic was grandchildren. The conservatives pounced on that; even liberals, moderates, and independents thought it was inappropriate for the attorney general who might become the prosecutor to be chatting with the husband of the presumptive nominee for president who was the target of a federal investigation.  Both Lynch and the 42nd president, who met on the attorney general’s government aircraft, later acknowledged they should not have met, even if the only conversation was social.
      In front of news cameras and the press, Comey revealed that from more than 30,000 emails the FBI read, sorted, and analyzed, “110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received.” Eight chains, said Comey, contained top secret information; 36 contained secret information; and eight contain confidential information. About 2,000 e-mails were later “up-classified.” The FBI also interrogated numerous individuals who had knowledge of, and access to, the e-mails. There was no hacking of Clinton’s server, no leaks of e-mail content, and no evidence of any deletion of the e-mails by Clinton or anyone else, said Comey. Based upon federal laws, the FBI determined, “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case [into court].” This past week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the Department of Justice would not pursue felony charges against Clinton.
      However, Clinton didn’t skate free. Comey pointed out that Clinton and the Department of State were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” that  “there is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation,”  and  that “none of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.”
      House Speaker Paul Ryan said the FBI recommendation not to prosecute Clinton “defies explanation.”
      Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) questioned Comey’s integrity, although Cruz had voted to confirm him in 2013 to be FBI director. Comey, a Republican, was first appointed U.S. Attorney and then deputy attorney general during the Bush–Cheney administration.
      Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee who had spent much of the primaries calling Ted Cruz a liar, after Cruz dropped out of the race now threw venom on Clinton, innumerous times calling her a liar and a crook. Following the press conference, Trump said “the system is rigged .  . . very unfair! As usual, bad judgment.” He then launched an attack upon Lynch, stating, without evidence, “It’s a bribe. . . The Attorney General is sitting there saying, ‘If I get Hillary off the hook, I’m going to have four more years or eight more years. But if she loses, I’m out of a job.’ It’s a bribe. It’s a disgrace.” Trump also bellowed, continuing his campaign of shoving misinformation in front of the voters, that President Obama was part of a conspiracy to drop charges against Clinton.
      The FBI’s recommendation, said Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, was “a glaring indictment of Hillary Clinton’s complete lack of judgment, honesty, and preparedness to be our next commander-in-chief, and they confirm what we’ve long known: Hillary Clinton has spent the last 16 months looking into cameras deliberately lying to the American people.”
      The conservatives, especially Trump, will continue to push Benghazi and e-mails, no matter what the evidence shows, and will be looking for anything they can find that may lead to another scandal—and several million dollars to investigate it. They who have lied to be elected and continue to chop apart truth will push to have a hearing they hope will result in Clinton being held in contempt of Congress for lying.
      As far as Clinton is concerned, there have been many lessons from the Benghazi and e-mail scandals, but the major one is that a candidate can’t allow the opposition to control the message, but must be open and, if wrong, apologize and correct a problem before it explodes.
     [Dr. Brasch, an award-winning journalist, has covered government/politics for more than four decades. His latest book is Fracking America.]