The Dead End Kids

The Dead End Kids were charming on Broadway in Dead End in 1935, and in 1937 Samuel Goldwyn brought them to Hollywood and turned that play into a film – followed by Little Tough Guys the East Side Kids and the Bowery Boys films. The wisecracking young punks who disrupt everything – in the end, in a good way – became a Hollywood staple, as in 1938 with Angels with Dirty Faces – James Cagney nailed the type in that film and that sort of became his career. He became the guy who has nothing to lose but who never loses his integrity. But he is a pain in the ass. But he really is charming, and right about more than a few things.

This works pretty well in Hollywood movies. In real life there’s Bernie Sanders, who has become the head Dead End Kid in the Democratic race, with his gang of other dead-end kids, and that turned out to be not charming at all. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank tells this real-life tale:

Let’s examine what Bernie Sanders supporters did in his name over the weekend.

As the Nevada Democratic convention voted to award a majority of delegates to Hillary Clinton – an accurate reflection of her victory in the state’s February caucuses – Sanders backers charged the stage, threw chairs and shouted vulgar epithets at speakers. Security agents had to protect the dais and ultimately clear the room.

And that’s not all:

Sanders supporters publicized the cellphone number of the party chairwoman, Roberta Lange, resulting in thousands of abusive text messages and threats:

“Praying to God someone shoots you in the FACE and blows your democracy-stealing head off!”

“Hey bitch… We know where you live. Where you work. Where you eat. Where your kids go to school/grandkids… Prepare for hell.”

Veteran Nevada reporter Jon Ralston transcribed some of the choice voicemail messages for the chairwoman, some with vulgar labels for women and their anatomy:

“I think people like you should be hung in a public execution. … You are a sick, twisted piece of shit and I hope you burn for this!”

“You fucking stupid bitch! What the hell are you doing? You’re a fucking corrupt bitch!”

The day after the convention, Sanders supporters vandalized party headquarters with messages saying, among other things, “You are scum.”

And the response:

Asked by reporters Tuesday about the convention chaos – in which operatives from his national campaign participated – Sanders walked away in the middle of the question.

Finally, mid-afternoon Tuesday, Sanders released a statement saying “I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals.” But he blamed the Nevada party for preventing a “fair and transparent process,” and he threatened Democrats: “If the Democratic Party is to be successful in November, it is imperative that all state parties treat our campaign supporters with fairness and the respect that they have earned.”

Milbank:

It is no longer accurate to say Sanders is campaigning against Clinton, who has essentially locked up the nomination. The Vermont socialist is now running against the Democratic Party. And that’s excellent news for one Donald J. Trump.

That seems a fair assessment, and Milbank also reports this:

“The Sanders Campaign spent its time either ignoring or profiting from the chaos it did much to create,” the Nevada Democratic Party wrote in a formal complaint to the Democratic National Committee. The state party wrote, “Part of the approach by the Sanders campaign was to employ these easily-incensed delegates as shock troops.” The Sanders representatives “at the times of most intense crisis offered little more than shrugs and smirks.”

The Nevada Democrats, warning of similar disruptions at the national convention in July, accused the Sanders campaign of “inciting disruption – and, yes, violence,” and said, “the goal of many of these individuals, sanctioned or encouraged by the Sanders campaign, is not party-building but something more sinister.”

Yeah, this is Donald Trump stuff, and Milbank is not impressed:

A few weeks ago, I wrote that I wasn’t concerned about Sanders remaining in the race until the very end, because he doesn’t wish to see a President Trump and will ultimately throw his full support to Clinton. Sanders has, indeed, lightened up on Clinton and is instead trying to shape the Democrats’ platform and direction. But his attacks on the party have released something just as damaging to the causes he professes to represent. Coupled with his refusal to raise money for the party, his increasingly harsh rhetoric could hurt Democrats up and down the ballot in November and beyond.

“We are taking on virtually the entire Democratic establishment,” Sanders proclaims.

“The Democratic Party has to reach a fundamental conclusion: Are we on the side of working people or big-money interests?” he asks.

“The Democratic Party up to now has not been clear about which side they are on, on the major issues facing this country,” he announces.

This was Ralph Nader’s argument in 2000: There isn’t much difference between the two parties. It produced President George W. Bush. Sanders said at the start of his campaign that he wouldn’t do what Nader did, because there is a difference between the parties.

Yet now his supporters, the Nevada Democratic Party says, are behind “physical threats and intimidation,” “scuffles, screams from bullhorns, and profane insults” and “numerous medical emergencies among delegates pressed up against the dais.”

This is Ralph Nader on steroids, even though that Ralston fellow writes that “the Sanders folks disregarded rules, then when shown the truth, attacked organizers and party officials as tools of a conspiracy to defraud the senator of what was never rightfully his in the first place.”

And oddly, only two additional delegates were at stake, which would not have made any difference either way. Bernie has a lot to answer for, and Salon’s Amanda Marcotte does the dead-end kids thing:

A lot of the problem is because the Sanders campaign is a dead campaign walking. There’s no way Sanders can win at this point. It creates a situation where some of the more realistic and sober-minded Sanders supporters are cutting their losses and moving on. (This is probably why Sanders had so much trouble filling out all his delegate seats but Clinton did not.) Without the moderating force of the more realistic Sanders supporters, the voices of the dead-enders – who are more prone to rage, misogyny, and conspiracy theories – have a disproportionate influence.

Still, it’s not like the campaign has been whittled down to nothing but dead-enders. Sanders could, if he wanted to, do a lot to rein in the worst elements, by asking people to chill out and behave respectfully.

Unfortunately, there’s no sign that the campaign really wants to do that. Sure, they are issuing rote condemnations of violence, but beyond that, the Sanders camp seems unwilling to ask people to dial down the sexism and conspiracy theories to focus on the issues.

That won’t do:

In a statement responding to the Nevada convention, for instance, the Sanders campaign said that while they don’t condone violence, they encourage the party “figure out a way to welcome people who have been energized and excited by his campaign into the party.”

Sorry, but calling a woman at home to spew misogynistic vitriol at her isn’t being “energized and excited”. It’s being hateful and bigoted. The Democrats should prioritize making the party safe for women, not safe for men who like to yell “cunt” at them.

And it got worse:

Disturbingly, Sanders’s top aide, Jeff Weaver, couldn’t bring himself to issue a full-throated denunciation of these antics on CNN Tuesday, either. Instead, he played footsie with the conspiracy theorists, accusing the party of being run “undemocratically” and insinuating that it’s due to the “unwillingness on the part of the Nevada Democratic Party to bring in all of the new people that Bernie Sanders has brought into the process.”

That won’t wash:

It is worth remembering at this point that Clinton won the Nevada caucus and that the Sanders folks were able to manipulate the system to get him more delegate seats at the convention, which would have netted them more delegates if Sanders people had bothered to show up. It’s true that the system is a disaster, but it’s also true that the claims that it’s “undemocratic” were not coming from Sanders supporters when they thought they had a chance at chipping away at the victory that actual voters gave Clinton earlier this year.

Marcotte is not happy with any of this:

Sanders himself had a perfect opportunity to put a kibosh on all the craziness on Tuesday, when asked about it by NBC News. He could have played the role of the conciliator, telling his supporters they fought the good fight but you can’t win them all – Clinton’s concession speech to Barack Obama from 2008 is a good model – Sanders simply walked away.

This is irresponsible of Sanders and his campaign. They know full well that they have lost this campaign and that Clinton has millions of more votes than he does. Sanders needs to issue a full-throated denunciation of not just the violence, but of the misogyny and the conspiracy theories. The refusal to do so, even when directly offered an opportunity, speaks volumes.

Perhaps Bernie Sanders just threw away the nomination, and Josh Marshall explains why:

With this new blow-up over whatever happened over the weekend in Nevada we see the pretty real and even dire consequences of lying to your supporters. The Sanders campaign, especially campaign manager Jeff Weaver, has been saying for weeks that Sanders can still win and that the system is ‘rigged’ against Sanders. But to the extent the system is ‘rigged’, it’s mainly rigged in Sanders’ favor.

And this particular grievance makes no sense at all:

Step back from the immediate controversy over this weekend. Back in February, Hillary Clinton won the Nevada Caucus 53% to 47%. But over the intervening months the Sanders campaign out organized the Clinton camp on the subsequent conventions and meetings where actual delegate allocations get determined. That’s not cheating. It just is how it is. We saw Ted Cruz do the same thing with Donald Trump. It’s totally legit as the rules now operate.

What happened over this weekend was that that Sanders effort to take the majority of the delegates even after losing the caucus got denied. Getting mad about that is pretty tough if you’re running under the banner of ‘democracy’. As I’ve said, I don’t think there should be caucuses in the first place. They’re inherently anti-democratic, highly effective voter suppression mechanisms. I also think there should be as little post-election-day complexity and rigmarole as possible. If I show up and vote for my candidate on Election Day, the impact of my vote shouldn’t be hostage to whether someone oversleeps, or shows up late at some county meeting three weeks later. There’s just no justification for that.

For now though, that’s how it is.

And that means there’s no point in lying about it:

The Sanders campaign and particularly the supporters in Nevada are claiming that the Nevada party bosses deprived them of ‘democracy’ over the weekend. The reality is that the Sanders folks were trying to overturn the outcome of the election. You can do that in the current system. It’s not cheating. But if your banner is ‘democracy’ and ‘transparency’ you just haven’t got jack.

As I said in the lede, this is the problem with lying to your supporters. Losing is hard. If you pump people up with bogus arguments that they’re losing because they got cheated and the system was rigged, you get people who are really angry, genuinely angry, even though they’re upset that their efforts to reverse the result of the actual election didn’t work.

In fact, you get Trump Republicans, and Bernie sounding like Donald:

Bernie Sanders says the Democratic Party needs to “understand that the political world is changing and that millions of Americans are outraged at establishment politics and establishment economics.” The candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination fired off what is being described as a “belligerent” and “angry” statement Tuesday afternoon in response to a four-page letter representing an official complaint by the Nevada Democratic Party against the Bernie Sanders campaign.

“The Democratic Party has a choice,” Sanders says in his missive. “It can open its doors and welcome into the party people who are prepared to fight for real economic and social change – people who are willing to take on Wall Street, corporate greed and a fossil fuel industry which is destroying this planet. Or the party can choose to maintain its status quo structure, remain dependent on big-money campaign contributions and be a party with limited participation and limited energy.”

Okay, the world is changing, but roving bands of thugs don’t have to be part of that change, and that’s what this was:

Sen. Barbara Boxer, a veteran of Democratic politics, says she never saw anything quite like this before – loud cursing, shouting, obscene gestures and vile insults, including crude comments about the female anatomy. It was all on display over the weekend as supporters of Bernie Sanders turned the Nevada State Democratic Convention into chaos.

“I was not able to stop these people for doing what they did,” Boxer, a Hillary Clinton supporter, told CNN. “Apparently they’ve done it before… This group of about 100 were very vocal, and I can’t describe it – disrespectful doesn’t even explain it, it was worse than that.”

Boxer is hardly the lone Clinton supporter to experience such harassment on the campaign trail. Several top Democrats told CNN publicly and privately that the energy and enthusiasm of Sanders supporters has at times descended into incendiary attacks that threaten to tear apart efforts to unite Democrats against Donald Trump. Several female senators told CNN the attacks have been misogynistic.

What’s more, many Democrats fear that if Sanders does not rein in his supporters, the same ugly scene that occurred in Las Vegas last weekend could replicate itself in the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Donald Trump did slyly threaten riots at the Republican convention in Cleveland if the party took the nomination away from him, and that seems a possibility in Philadelphia now, and this Nevada thing was actually planned:

New audio obtained by CNN shows a senior Sanders aide – on the eve of the Nevada convention – encouraging the senator’s supporters try to “take over” the convention, change party rules and continue the “revolution” that Sanders has long campaigned on.

“You should not leave,” Joan Kato, the national delegates-director, told Sanders supporters in a meeting last week at the Rumor Boutique Hotel. “I’m going to repeat that, unless you are told by someone from the campaign… that you can leave, you should not leave.”

The Sanders campaign hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

Is that the plan for Philadelphia too? A rationale is already in the works:

Bernie Sanders revealed Tuesday that shots were fired into his Nevada campaign office and that an “apartment housing complex my campaign staff lived in was broken into and ransacked.” The Democratic presidential candidate did not explicitly blame his rival, Hillary Clinton, for the actions.

Sanders made the statement in response to “criticisms made against my campaign organization.”

They started it!

That’s the sort of thing Donald Trump keeps saying, but things did finally ease up:

Bernie Sanders will work around the clock to make sure Donald Trump is not elected president, regardless of whether the Vermont senator wins the Democratic presidential nomination, his campaign manager said Tuesday.

“Well, he certainly has said that he will do everything – he will work seven days a week, night and day, to make sure Donald Trump is not president, and I’m confident that he will do that,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told CNN. “Bernie Sanders, as you know, is a very effective campaigner on the stump.”

Weaver said Sanders has rallied millions of people, including young voters, independents and working-class people. “And I think he’ll take the message to them that Donald Trump would be a disaster for working-class and middle-class families in this country,” Weaver continued. “Putting the Republicans back in control of Washington is not a good strategy.”

The Donald was not happy with that:

Trump tweeted again Monday morning that Sanders should run as an independent.

“Bernie Sanders is being treated very badly by the Dems. The system is rigged against him,” Trump wrote. “He should run as an independent! Run Bernie, run!”

Okay, given that, Bernie Sanders can’t run as an independent. What can he say? Donald Trump told me to?

The Donald didn’t think that through, or he was just kidding around. Still, Bernie Sanders has a point about Hillary Clinton. He’s the bad boy, the Dead End Kid from the bad side of town, and the New York Times’ Emma Roller notes that Hillary Clinton is the Goldwater Girl:

“How did a nice Republican girl from Park Ridge go wrong?”

That was the question Hillary Clinton posed in March 1992, when she visited her old high school in suburban Park Ridge, Ill., with her husband, who was then running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Mrs. Clinton made her first forays into politics as a teenager in Park Ridge, as an ardent supporter of Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, the ultraconservative Republican nominee for president in 1964.

Now she’s the one running for president. The Goldwater Girl chapter is in the past, though it is something the veteran Democratic politician talks about as formative to her political identity. “My political beliefs are rooted in the conservatism that I was raised with,” she said in a 1996 interview.

What can Hillary Clinton’s past as a Goldwater Girl tell us about her effort to win over Republicans in the general election?

The Clinton campaign seems to be subtly tapping into her conservative past in the hopes of appealing to anti-Trump Republicans in the general election. In recent weeks, her campaign has started courting Jeb Bush’s donors, and has sent out a flurry of news releases playing up the “risk” posed by a Donald J. Trump presidency and quoting Republicans who have voiced concerns about their presumptive nominee.

That’s not going well, but at least she understands them:

Mrs. Clinton grew up in a culture permeated by the threat of creeping Communism – and later, the Vietnam War. The jewelry artist Bonnie Klehr met Hillary Rodham when she was 13, and they served on a class council together. Ms. Klehr said Park Ridge “was a very lovely place to grow up, and it just was a very peaceful time. Except for when we had to hide under our desks because we thought the Russians were going to bomb us.”

In her junior year of high school, the Goldwater campaign tasked Hillary Rodham and her best friend, Betsy Ebeling, with checking for “voter registration fraud” in predominantly poor, black Chicago neighborhoods…

Yes, she was out there trying to suppress the black vote, but things change:

During her senior year, in 1964, her government teacher staged a mock election, and assigned young Hillary – to her horror – to play the part of Lyndon B. Johnson.

“I immersed myself – for the first time – in President Johnson’s Democratic positions on civil rights, health care, poverty and foreign policy,” Hillary Clinton wrote in her memoir, “Living History.” “As I prepared for the debate, I found myself arguing with more than dramatic fervor.”

After arriving at Wellesley College in 1965, Hillary Rodham joined its Young Republicans Club. But by then, she was a Rockefeller Republican, out of step with most members of her father’s party. Like many college students at that time, she had doubts about the government’s handling of civil rights and the war in Vietnam. By her senior year, the Rockefeller Republican had become a Eugene McCarthy Democrat.

Those of us who also arrived at college in September 1965 saw that happen to lots of kids from solidly Republican families. We forgive her. It seems that Bernie won’t. Bernie doesn’t forgive. His folks don’t forgive. That may be why he just lost this nomination. We’re not talking about “angels with dirty faces” or any of those other romanticized charming Dead End Kids, who were entirely fictional. The real ones are just nasty. This is over.

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About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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