Within Normal Parameters

Attention, Hillary haters…

I disagree with much, if not most, of Charles Murray’s scholarship, but he–and the (very) conservative publication National Review– have done something I’ve been struggling with: in a pointed essay debunking attempts to equate the Presidential candidates, they have provided language that explains the reality of November’s ballot choices.

In his response to those who assert that “Hillary is no better” or “Hillary would be even worse” Murray begins by acknowledging what most political observers know, that we have rarely if ever elected people who don’t have serious flaws. After listing several examples, he says

Candidates who lie? This is a little more complicated. Yes, many candidates for president have lied. Hillary Clinton has — with stupefying ineptitude — told and continues to tell whoppers. But Trump takes first prize for sheer bulk, averaging one factual untruth every five minutes, according to a systematic fact-check of over four and a half hours of stump speeches and press conferences….

It’s one thing when a candidate knowingly deceives the public on a few specific topics. Hillary Clinton has knowingly tried to deceive the public about her flip-flop on gay marriage and her misuse of her e-mail server. That’s bad. It should be condemned. This aspect of her character should affect one’s deliberations about whether to vote for her. It’s another thing entirely when a candidate blithely rejects Pat Moynihan’s (attributed) dictum, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts.”

Trump’s indifference to facts is an example of why he is unfit for the presidency — not dispositive in itself, but part of a pattern. That pattern is why “Hillary is even worse” misses the point. P. J. O’Rourke recently announced that he is voting for Clinton. “She’s wrong about absolutely everything,” O’Rourke said. “But she’s wrong within normal parameters!” Similarly, I am saying that Clinton may be unfit to be president, but she’s unfit within normal parameters. Donald Trump is unfit outside normal parameters.

I encourage you to click through and read the entire essay–especially if you are a political conservative who is trying to convince yourself that Donald Trump is an acceptable recipient of your vote (or a “purist” whose vote for a third party candidate is effectively a vote for Trump.)

Unfortunately, it is an increasingly rare occurrence when informed voters go to the polls enthusiastic about voting for someone. But the fact that there may be reasons to be unenthusiastic about our choices is not the same thing as saying that there isn’t a lesser of two evils.

In this case, for rational Americans, no matter what one’s opinion about Hillary Clinton, a vote for Donald Trump– the far, far greater of these “two evils”– is simply unthinkable. It is not just a vote for a dangerously ignorant narcissist, it is a vote for abandonment of the American ethos.

Thanks to Charles Murray and P.J. O’Rourke, I now have language to express my conviction  that we must recognize and act upon differing degrees of risk, and vote for the candidate whose flaws fall within normal parameters.

52 thoughts on “Within Normal Parameters

  1. Bernie Sanders is leading every poll against Trump whereas Hillary Clinton is losing to him. Show me the baggage Sanders brings with him. To accept political subterfuge “Within parameters ” is once again promoting the “Lesser of two evils. That is still evil and a lot of us are fed up with that. Want to stop Trump? Stop Clinton.

  2. I think the main problem with the lies about the email server is it confirms a view that majority already hold, that when its convenient her and Bill will lie their asses off. You say that Trump lies even more. I do not doubt this but, in a change election year if the public decides they are both congenital liars, we have basically evened the playing field on honesty. The main attraction of Sanders is his passion, honesty and authenticity. This issue will dog her for the rest of the campaign. The Democrats that have been telling me for months that this is the biggest non-issue imaginable, didn’t seem to anticipate such a damning Inspector General report. I am not sure why we should believe these same folks that this will not turn into an issue in which the FBI makes a criminal referral out of. If Hillary already has secured the nomination by the time this happens, is there a process with which she can be replaced?? Just maybe our Super-delegates that are supposed to safeguard my party ought to do what they are meant to do and save us from this fatally flawed candidate.

  3. “…vote for a third party candidate is effectively a vote for Trump”

    Um, NO. A vote for a third party candidate is a vote for a third party candidate. It’s a rejection of the herd mentality which says we must vote for a bad candidate to take votes away from the worst candidate.

    If Hillary Clinton is bad within normal parameters, then we need to improve our criteria for “normal”.

    The Democratic and Republican parties have successfully hoodwinked the electorate into believing that only they offer a viable path to the presidency. Until we reject this lie and stop voting for their bad candidates, we’ll continue to surrender our rights and our humanity to corporate servitude.

  4. Mr Murray’s National Review article presents us with a fait accompli, a ‘done deal’ sort of situation whereby he omits any mention of Bernie Sanders being a viable candidate for the Democrat nominee. I’m unsure if I’d call Mr Murray’s article scholarly when he dismisses the fact that Bernie Sanders indeed continues to be a Democrat choice for the nominee.

  5. I bet Berta Cáceres would have a differing opinion of Hillary Clinton and of her acceptable parameters.

    People such as Charles Murray and P.J. O’Rourke don’t have much “skin in the game” when it comes to any negatives from Hillary’s misguided policies. They’re safely ensconced within their gated communities.

  6. We, the public, will never know the full truth of Hillary’s E-mail “situation” due to lack of government and her personal transparency plus the conflicting, convlulted and sometimes deliberate lying in media reports.

    Remember that much of the information in the Warren Commission investigation of President Kennedy’s assassination was buried in the National Archives for 100 years. This government, like all governments and government officials, have things to hide from the public…and from members of other government departments. Right or wrong doesn’t enter into this equation; it simply IS WHAT IT IS.

  7. If you think that the polls that say Bernie wins are correct, please consider that Bernie has never been on the national stage before. He has never been subjected to the sort of scrutiny that Hillary has endured for 25 years. Most of the “charges” against Hillary have found no basis in fact over those 25 years, but they have made you distrust her and that was the real goal.

    I know many of you think I am just a “Hillary lover”, but what I am is a pragmatist. I will tell you that the Republican marketing macine is salivating over the prospect of a Bernie candidacy. Hillary never really went after him in the primaries.

    The main reason I am for Hillary, is that she has consistently focused on policy, not grand statements of positions without any idea of how to carry them out. Whenever he is asked how he will accomplish any of his grand goals, Bernie says he’s starting a revolution. What exactly does that mean? His revolution willl only go as far as the House of Representatives, where it will die time and time again. Ideological purity doesn’t work in Washington.

  8. I can still hope that something will lead us to Bernie. I voted FOR Bernie, not against anyone else. Bernie brings a bright POSITIVE mentality to the race. I yearn for that in our politics. Go Bernie.

  9. In 2016 we Americans will vote for a head of state, a chief magistrate, and a commander in chief. We will not be electing a policy wonk or a professor.

    “The political press waits with bated breath for candidates to lay out their ideas. Here’s why ideas don’t matter.” The candidate who best captures the mood of the voters will win. See below Salon article for explanation.


  10. Bernie has yet to be thoroughly scrutinized, and I guarantee you, if he becomes the nominee, “they” will come up with plenty of baggage!

  11. I’ve heard people say that they “don’t like” Clinton. To me it’s either voting for someone because you don’t like them, or voting for the other because you don’t like the republic.

  12. Bernie Sanders presents a positive vision for the future of America and humankind on this planet. And as a member of the human family, I join the billions who believe we need leaders and citizens across the globe who are committed to finding and implementing the positive solutions necessary for our survival. So while we still have a chance to get Bernie nominated by the Democratic party that is the chance I believe we need to be focused on. This is not about Hillary haters, and excuse me for being offended by your use of that term. This is not about Trump. It is about using the nominating process in the next several weeks to select the best candidate for president. Like so many other Americans, I hope that will be Bernie Sanders and will continue to work for that end.

  13. As Peggy and Joy have tried to warn, Bernie Sanders the [Jewish + Socialist = Communist] will be “torn to threads” if he is ever nominated.

  14. Peggy Hannon said it all. Re-read her post above.
    We need Hillary. Quit your bitchin. No candidate has ever had her credentials.
    We overwhelmingly want to kick the GOP bums out.

  15. Listen, a President can only do so much as we’ve witnessed the past 8 yrs. We need to focus on the down ticket people to get rid of the tea party and their ilk more than we need a leader that will be hamstrung again.
    Yes, I’m still rooting for Bernie because obviously, he’s the one on our side that has the momentum, honesty and commitment to make our government work for us, not them, the lobbyists, the establishment, the rich and the powerful.
    We the People…and we need to stay involved after the election!

  16. Ditto the dittoes above. Can I do that? Marv, Peggy, and OMG…Thanks!

    Oh, and that thing about the National Archives and 100 years…JFK has been gone a mere 53 years come this November 22nd. It seems like only yesterday that I was walking across the campus of my university when I began hearing the horrible news. It is no less painful today.

  17. No. And for once, Sheila, you are so far off the mark it’s disgusting. Voting for Hillary is voting for the same Washington that has been killing America already.

    Oversized government, endless military spending, pandering to corporations and Wall Street, low wages, low to no worker rights, revocation of rights to feed the nanny state, corruption, spying on citizens and allies, and I could go on.

    Trump doesn’t risk anything that Hillary doesn’t, and his crazier xenophobic/sexist Ideas still have to face getting past the rest of the legislative process.

    Voting for Hillary, gives consent. And the only right thing for an American citizen to do when they don’t agree is to revoke that consent. If the DNC really worried about a Trump presidency, they would produce candidates worth more than crap.

    I will never vote for Hillary. If my choices are between Trump and her, I just won’t vote. I will revoke my consent. Hillary is not better than Trump, and you’re lying to yourself if you think otherwise.

    Frankly trying to bully/scare people into supporting a candidate they don’t want is deplorable and I thought beneath you Sheila.

    Absolutely disgusted.

  18. STILL holding out hope that the dems will put aside ‘winning’ within the party, i.e. Nominating Ms Clinton, look at the polls, read the MOOD of the electorate, come to their senses and nominate BERNIE.

  19. If Hillary has been under “scrutiny” for 25 years it was a result of Hillary’s and Bill Clinton’s own actions – Travelgate, White Water, Monicagate, etc. It was Hillary who voted to put a gun in the hands of GWB so he could invade Iraq. How is that worked out??? Overthrowing Qaddafi and Hillary’s giddy response to Qaddafi’s death- We came, We saw, He died. How is that working out in Libya???

    Marv, your comment is particularly distasteful – Bernie Sanders the [Jewish + Socialist = Communist]. The equation is usually Liberal=Socialist=Communist=Castro=Stalin=Mao. You have added Jewish.

    Some of you seem to think the Democratic Party is some kind of piece of equipment where you can swap out the Bernie and replace it with the Hillary parts. Sorry, the Hillary parts have failed the inspection process.

  20. I am not voting against Trump; I am voting for Hillary. The plain if brutal fact is that the man doesn’t know what he is talking about, and she does know what she is talking about. As for Bernie, I agree with many of his would be policy positions but he has not come up with how he is going to implement any such ideas with a hostile House, and while ideas are important, one must have a means of implementing them, otherwise such ideas sound like blowing smoke. Bernie has not revealed just how he will implement such ideas, referring to a “political revolution.” Most of the policy proposals he has made are good, but without the means to bring them to reality via legislative (and perhaps Supreme Court) approval (speaking of reality), his good intentions are destined to flounder. As with Trump, I am not voting against Bernie, I am voting for Hillary, clearly the most accomplished of the lot.

  21. Louie,

    “Marv, your comment is particularly distasteful – Bernie Sanders the [Jewish + Socialist = Communist]. The equation is usually Liberal=Socialist=Communist=Castro=Stalin=Mao. You have added Jewish.”

    Your comment is so ludicrous, it’s not worth answering. I guess, Senator Joseph McCarthy and his Communist witch-hunt never existed. I must have been dreaming about all those Jewish writers that were blacklisted in Hollywood.

    How could I have insinuated that [Jewish + Socialist = Communist] could ever be an equation in the U.S.

  22. Bernie’s my hero. He has restored almost single handedly the other half of the national political conversation, the left half, making it whole once again. We as a nation should ever be greatful.

    “We were lost and now are found.”

    Vote for your favorite Democrat in the primaries, now almost over. Watch the Democratic Convention as their nomination process unfolds and the choice is made.

    That is all as things should be. But when it’s over and the decision has been made please don’t let your emotions, whatever they are, diminish the fact that Donald Trump is totally and completely unqualified in almost every respect to run the country. His Presidency would not only be a disaster for us but for the entire world at a critical time in the history of the world.

    We’ll have some months to talk about that between nominations and elections but starting now is not to early to start given the magnitude of the danger we must avoid.

  23. @Gerald E Stinson, when you wrote, ” I am voting for Hillary, clearly the most accomplished of the lot” did you also hold that same belief in 2008 when the Democrat candidate Obama was selected as the nominee? Would you describe Obama as being the more accomplished Democrat candidate in 2008? Clearly, in 2008 Ms Clinton had far more documented accomplishments than Mr Obama, yet for whatever reasons, Ms Clinton’s accomplishments were not recognized by the Democrats.

  24. I am a bit surprised at the vehemence of those who are attacking Clinton. Given the opportunity I would vote for Bernie for president. I admire and support many of his positions even though I know that congress would frustrate and filibuster most if not all of them. Normally I would say that the commenters here are excellent and rational. Today is an exception. If dislike for Hillary leads one not to vote, or worse, to vote for Trump or a third party candidate then shame on you! Put aside your hatred/animus and do what is best for the country–Even if that means you have to hold your nose. Please, please, let us not commit suicide by ballot.

  25. Over the past year right-wing media bashing of Hillary has been relentless, while the coverage of Bernie has been with kid gloves. Have you listened to Fox News on any night? Why would they not also want to drive Bernie’s negatives? Bernie lovers, THINK. These are not nice people being nice to Bernie. The explanation is simple: the Right believes it can weaken Hillary by supporting Bernie, and in the best-case scenario will then run against Bernie.

    Michelle Goldman’s Slate article addressed this issue with wonderful clarity. The right is salivating at the thought of running against a “socialist”: if they made the word “liberal” a pejorative, how much easier with socialist (isn’t that a commie?) And their current politeness in not bringing up some of Bernie’s more exotic views will come to a abrupt halt, should he get the nomination. One “swift boat” add will be his vote against limiting child pornography, coupled to his libertarian views on sex, such as “Now, if children go around naked, they are liable to see each others [sic] sexual organs, and maybe even touch them. Terrible thing!”

    So try to be a bit more skeptical about why Bernie’s positives are so high. Hillary to her credit has run no negative ads against Bernie. We understand her motivations, she needs a united party. Now understand the Right’s motivation – they think they can tear Bernie limb from limb in the fall.

  26. Louie, Marv lost his marbles at the end of the “Well, THIS Certainly Ups the Stakes….” thread. Marv became totally asinine. So don’t be surprised if he starts flinging more nonsense during the next 10 days or so. We are Bernie supporters. We have/support good ideas and support a good man. All Marv’s got is empty rhetoric,stale commentary and invective.

    He believes Sanders supporters are more dangerous than the Tea Party supporters.

  27. I am concerned about some of the Sanders “true believers” who say that if Hillary is nominated, they will not vote for Hillary. Remember the election of 2000, between Gore and Bush, when the “greens” in support of Ralph Nader formed a third party. The result is we got Bush and the neo-conservatives, as well as the second Iraq war, and Bush’s Supreme Court appointments.

    The “greens” did not think that Gore was green enough and we got Bush.

    Beware of your unintended consequences.

  28. William,

    “He [Marv] believes Sanders supporters are more dangerous than the Tea Party supporters.”

    I agree with you 100% on that statement with the qualification of “some.” Thanks again for your support in helping me communicate my position.

  29. Wray, very well put.

    It doesn’t surprise me that vote only Republicans fall for GOP attacks on Hillary. After all they’re falling for Donald.

    It also doesn’t surprise me that many Democrats support Bernie. He walks the liberal walk proudly and defiantly as many who post here do.

    What does surprises me are the Democrats here who have fallen for the GOP attacks on Hillary because they are so easy to untangle and see as 90% lies intermingled with 10% truth that one has to be a committed hater to fall for them.

    I like Sheila’s use of the term “within normal parameters”. To me the explanation that she proposes using that term is crystal clear. Democracy requires politicians to recruit voters. It’s expected in politics as in advertising that truth gets spun and presented in the most attractive way to the consumers. But we expect both advertising and politics to stay within normal parameters. In fact we grit our collective teeth when advertising becomes blatant lies pandering to those who are unable to vet them in any way.

    Thinking that Hillary is as unqualified as Donald is miles outside of normal parameters.

  30. I’m not one of those Bernie supporters that will refuse to vote for Hillary because that Trump guy is batsh*t crazy. He scares me more than Bush/Cheney ever did. Americans Abroad are watching because if Trump is voted in as President, we’re targets here. ugh.

  31. BTW, it is Memorial Day. When you think of all of the gifts that we were born into among the greatest are those gifted to all Americans and freedom leads the list. Not freedom from government but freedom because of it.

    It was an expensive gift when we were given it and it’s an expensive gift for us to give.

    We have to pay the price and be oh so thankful that our price is merely diligence and responsibility.

  32. Memorial Day has been brought up. I was combat infantryman in Vietnam 1970-71 (draftee type) and was even given orders to invade Cambodia. I knew pretty quickly that as soon as the last American Combat Troops left South Vietnam the NVA and VC would win. I came home a committed anti-war activist.

    Thus, when GWB decided with Hillary’s consent to invade Iraq I was enraged, because the result was going to be another debacle, with more American casualties. Best estimates are around 1 million casualties since Gulf War 2 including dead, wounded, missing and refugees. So more graves to decorate on Memorial Day.

    Bernie not only opposed the invasion but gave several eloquent reasons for not going to War with Iraq in Gulf War 2.

    So no way I will vote Hillary.

  33. Disappointed Joe is himself a disappointment. And those who would insult Marv, be advised: You have entered a battle of wits completely unarmed. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Get back to the issues and stop the name-calling. Surely you’re better than a bunch of five-year-olds in a sandbox throwing sand at each other.

  34. Louie, yes it’s Memorial Day and I just acknowledged my husband for his service in the US Army during the Vietnam era.

    Based upon his observing several IU Dental School grads from the class ahead of his class be drafted after they’d completed 4 years of undergrad school and 4 years of Dental School, had passed their Board examinations, had borrowed hefty amounts of money, and had set up private practices only to be drafted within a few months, he decided to volunteer for the Army immediately upon his receiving his DDS degree and upon his passing the Board exam.

    Two weeks after Dental School graduation he was sworn in as a Captain, followed by a couple of months of Army medical training at Ft Sam Houston and then 3 years at Ft Sill, Oklahoma where he saw every young draftee before they shipped out to Vietnam. His orders were to extract every tooth that had even the smallest cavity. He tells me he extracted more relatively healthy teeth than should have been allowed simply because it was a mandate to extract any tooth that might remotely cause a problem on the battlefield in Vietnam.

    As with many veterans of Vietnam, he does not enjoy speaking about the 17 and 18-year-old kids who passed through his dental clinic and who basically were scared to death.

    No, he will not vote for Ms Clinton.

  35. I should have mentioned that I’m way more concerned about future wars than past and nuclear more than conventional and local more than foreign.

    The risk of all of those even worse possibilities skyrockets with a President who’s inexperienced at statesmanship and law, ignorant of almost everything and with demonstrated extreme shortage of self control.

  36. Louie,you’ve hit the nail on the head. When one is voted/placed into office,one is given a place of privilege, and with that position there is a lot of responsibility. Unfortunately,too many politicos seem to accept such responsibility with a cavalier attitude. That’s why it’s very disappointing to hear a politician regret such actions as support for the Iraq invasion many years later. It’s also very disappointing when said politician(s) don’t learn from such mistakes and continue such “bad” decisions. To add insult to injury,there are people who will describe such a politician as pragmatic,experienced,genuine,etal.

    There is just too much herd mentality here for my liking.

  37. Gremlins in my kybrd. Or BrainFart!

    A sentence from my previous post should have read as: continue [i]making[/i] such “bad” decisions.


  38. Betty: Perhaps if you’re good little girl this year,Santa will leave you a gift under the tree. A gift you’re surely in need of, It’s called Tact!

  39. William, you seem to feel capable of predicting the herd. I’m sure that you know that in a Democracy the herd hires and fires politicians. That must be tough on folks like you never having the government that you want.

    If you could live under a government of your choosing which country/era would it be?

  40. I did not get past the title: norms are not properties, not the kind we measure with Latin and Greek rulers. All of Indiana is held in trust as property, one, of “The People” of Indiana among the United States’ property owners and trustees, renters of keys, etc. We do not yet see any names on our ballots for those volunteering, one each for jobs as individuals, each with a name, an unique identification set equal to all other citizen-inhabitants, voters being in a minority, volunteers to hold offices of trust even smaller minority — nothing outside Indiana property limits to do. Each capitol city citizen gets one vote each, too, as in ANY business at all — and not one is normative or average as 1=1.

  41. prop·er·ty
    1. a thing or things belonging to someone; possessions collectively.
    “she wanted Oliver and his property out of her house”
    synonyms: possessions, belongings, things, effects, stuff, gear, chattels, movables; More

    2.an attribute, quality, or characteristic of something. “the property of heat to expand metal at uniform rates”
    synonyms: quality, attribute, characteristic, feature, power, trait, mark, hallmark
    “healing properties”

  42. Louie,

    I was in the military also, but not in Viet Nam. I’m older than you. I missed that one. My eight-year reserve obligation ended in ’67.

    We still differ on the issue of supporting Hillary Clinton.

    However, I now fully understand and respect your position. We had no business invading Iraq, Sanders was right and Clinton was wrong.

  43. Betty,

    I know you have been listening to William very closely. He has inadvertently warned us about the direction of the Sanders campaign and especially what will more than likely transpire at the Democratic Party’s National Convention in July.

    We need to thank him for his help. Remember his statement……”So don’t be surprised if he [Marv]starts flinging more nonsense during the next 10 days or so.” He’s worried that we still have time to prepare for the worst.

    The Convention, without a change in direction, will be chaotic and the aftermath will be very much like the disastrous Anti-World Trade Organization demonstrations in Seattle in 1999. The organizer of that fiasco was a teammate of mine at the University of Pennsylvania, the environmental activist and author, Jerry Mander.

    A few years ago, I had an opportunity to have a discussion with Jerry about how he organized the demonstrations and what went wrong. I see a lot of Jerry Mander in Bernie Sanders. I’m sorry for this prediction concerning the Convention…… like Jerry Mander, Bernie Sanders will lose control of his followers and a similar fiasco will occur that will ultimately make certain the election of Donald Trump as America’s 45th President.


    I’ve mentioned earlier that I was one of the featured speakers at the Inaugural Sun Tzu “Art of War” Conference in Nashville last February. The following is a paragraph from “The Art of War—Spirituality for Conflict” by Thomas Huynh [www.Sonshi.com] the organizer of the event:

    “Another core element underlying Sun Tzu’s work is the necessity for a keen sense of FORESIGHT. Sun Tzu asserts that “those who are skilled in warfare gained victory where victory was easily gained”—that is, those who possess genuine wisdom know how to solve problems while they are still small and simple—before they develop into larger, more difficult problems. Solving large, difficult problems may earn you a reputation for skillful negotiation, but Sun Tzu asserts that this supposed achievement is actually a form of failure, and having true wisdom means preventing difficult problems from arising in the first place. Ironically, this highest form of efficacy will often go unnoticed by many people, since the leaders work seems so effortless and subtle. This foresight may not earn you a great reputation, but Sun Tzu also believed that bravery and greatness involve shunning what other people think of you, both praise and criticism, and doing what you believe is the right thing.” page xxviii

  45. I just began reading the Atlantic article profiling Mr. Trump’s personality and and what it might means should — gasp — he be elected president. Interestingly, the author points out that he (Mr. Trump) is off the charts on the low end with regard to agreeableness. If that is true — and I don’t doubt that it is — the electorate must consider what it would mean for our nation, both domestically and perhaps even more importantly internationally, to have someone so disagreeable as our head of state.

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