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MN lege: Some pro-women legislation

by Dan Burns on February 15, 2017 · 0 comments

declarationThe Minnesota NOW e-newsletter, to which you can subscribe on their website, drew my attention to some worthy proposals. They probably won’t get far this session, but it’s good to spread the word anyway. Stuff like this really reinforces the need to get things turned around in the matter of voter participation. I’ve added links to the legislative web pages.
 

The Comprehensive Contraception Act will work to increase access to birth control by requiring health plans and public health care programs to cover a 12-month supply of prescription contraceptives and requiring health plans to cover all contraceptive methods, sterilization, and related medical services, patient education, and counseling.
 
The Protect Physicians’ Integrity Act removes barriers to abortion care by authorizing health care providers to provide patients with health information and services that are medically accurate, evidence-based, and appropriate for the patient, and by repealing informed consent requirements.

In my estimation, it’s misguided to characterize women who voted for Trump, and unfortunately there were a lot of them, as just mindlessly submissive and self-abasing. That won’t help get them to see the error of their ways. They had their reasons…not good reasons, by any rational standard, but they weren’t grounded in some kind of complete deficiency of self-respect. They honestly thought they were making the better choice.
 

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Trump-Respects-Women“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

 

The Women’s March on Washington ten days ago was an historic and powerful event by any measure.

 

Now the organizers and participants need a quick follow-up action to ensure that it isn’t just as quickly forgotten. Our elected leaders in the US, particularly those on the political right, have the collective memory of a goldfish.

 

A quick follow-up action will keep the energy focused and the momentum going for a movement that is likely to become a major political power-center in the future – but only if the leadership takes steps to maintain focus and momentum. Otherwise, the power-collective will be dissipated and the opportunity to build momentum will be squandered. To that end, I’m proposing for the leaderships’ consideration a one-day work walk-out on President’s Day, February 20, twenty days from now.

 

Call it the “Code Red Walk-out,” or something similarly dramatic, easy to remember, and media-friendly.

 

A “Code Red Walk-out” would be a $50 billion slap in the face to the Pussygrabber-in-Chief. A $50 billion hit to the economy would send a powerful message to business, government and media; it would be a message that can’t be ignored and won’t be forgotten. Some of the merits of the idea include:

 

– A work walk-out would be powerful protest that demands much less of the organization, money and logistics of planning, permits, travel, food, lodging, etc. that organized marches require. The Women’s March used social media and on-line communications to organize protests worldwide in little more than two months. Those channels of communication remain intact. A work walk-out could be similarly organized and executed in 20 days.
– A work walk-out would free participants to gather in local parks, town squares, community centers and other public places for “teach-in’s,” “love-in’s,” and “be-in’s” that would demonstrate political strength and build solidarity for future action. Political leaders, religious leaders and thought leaders could be invited to speak and to listen. It would capture media attention and distract them from their habit of “chasing rabbits.”
– A work walk-out could include students, athletes, entertainers, and others who walk-out in sympathetic action.
– A work walk-out would spotlight the enormous contributions of women to our culture and to the economy. It would draw attention to issues of equal access, equal pay, and equal rights.
– Business and finance leaders could not fail to take notice. A one-day loss of productivity directly impacts profits. A successful walk-out would prove that other walk-outs, or business boycotts, could be successfully called in the future.
– When the captains of industry feel threatened, the political leaders who support them, and are supported by them, also feel threatened – particularly those on the political right.
– Combine a work walk-out with a same-day moratorium on spending and the stock market would likely take a significant temporary hit. Women control 80% or more of household spending.
– It would draw a sharp contrast between the great president’s, who are honored on President’s Day, and the current resident of the Oval Office.
– It would signal the rest of the world that Americans are better than the worst among us, including our elected leaders. It would serve as a declaration that our values remain intact despite the outcome of the last election.
– It would be an act of courage and self-sacrifice that demonstrates to our children that the messages of greed, fear, hatred, sexism, racism, religious intolerance, and exploitation of others are not the values that we choose to uphold. Since it would be a non-violent protest, it would uphold the values of compassion over hatred and of community over greed. It would provide a better adult example of how to be a good neighbor and a good citizen than what we see among some of our elected leaders and business executives.
– Since it would take place on a federal holiday, government workers couldn’t be penalized for participating, or forced to work by executive order.
– Those who cannot participate due to the kind of work they do (e.g., police, military, health workers, etc.), or because they can’t afford it, can still participate with a work slow-down, or by scheduling a doctor’s appointment that day, calling in sick or leaving work early, etc.
– If a protest of this kind became an international event, it might help to re-direct the drift of nations toward “… preparing for war,” as former Prime Minister of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, believes is happening now.

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Trump may defund Violence Against Women Act

by Dan Burns on January 25, 2017 · 0 comments

Womens-March-55I suppose every person of enlightened intelligence and sensibility will have her personal picks for the most appalling acts by the Trump Administration, out of a great, great many candidates, before this is over. This would without question be one of mine.
 

The Violence Against Women Act, which was passed in 1994, currently administers 25 grant programs aimed at helping women who become victims of violence. According to the Department of Justice website, those grants funnel money to programs “designed to develop the nation’s capacity to reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking by strengthening services to victims and holding offenders accountable.” And based on a new report, they could be on the budgetary chopping block under Donald Trump’s administration…
 
Although it’s unclear how closely Trump’s team will follow the Heritage model, the choice to abolish federal VAWA grants — which put money toward teaching law enforcement how to respond to domestic violence and sexual assault, and providing resources for victims — could have consequences for women who are at risk. A report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that, in the decade-plus after the Violence Against Women Act passed, the overall rate of intimate partner violence in the United States declined by 64 percent.
(New York Magazine)

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While they like to give lip service to being the party of small government, and moan and groan about government over-reach ad nauseum, the GOP is the worst offender for unwarranted intrusion into the lives of citizens minding their own business.  The right is obsessed with controlling our sexual and gender identity, sexual orientation, and reproductive choices, attempting to variously criminalize those decisions, or to make them for us.  These are things which largely cannot be legislated, as gender and sexuality, and individual body autonomy are intrinsic and inherent parts of each human being.  The GOP, particularly the MN GOP, must get out of our bedrooms, our bathrooms, our locker rooms, and our pants.

 
It should be an accepted premise of government that any legislation that interferes with the free will and action of citizens should serve a demonstrated NEED for such legislation.  In the case of the transgender and bathrooms, there have been more instances of Republican politicians arrested for sexual misconduct in bathrooms than there have been documented incidents, much less arrests or convictions, of transgender persons behaving inappropriately or illegally.  One of those GOP pols, Larry Craig, was arrested right here in Minnesota, at the International Airport.

 

As noted by the Intellectualist:

 

According to Media Matters, there haven’t … been any reports of men ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them. You know who have been arrested in public bathrooms for sexual misconduct?Republican politicians.
Without even diving too deep, we found three GOP legislators who were picked up for lavatory indiscretions.
Their names: Larry Craig …, Jon Hinson, and Bob Allen.

We may need laws against GOP politicians using public bathrooms. By contrast, trans people are doing just fine.

It has long been my contention that not only are a number of conned-servatives are controlling, authoritarian hypocrites, but also that many are bigots, (bigotry being defined as “sincerely” believing broadly denigrating and factually false things about a broad group of people in order to in some way demean or discriminate against them). In the case of transgender people, American or otherwise, it is a fact that there have been more Republican members of Congress arrested for illegal sexual conduct in public bathrooms than there have been arrests of transgender people for either sexual assault or sexual harassment, both of which are the justification for transgender bathroom bill legislation.

 

The most recent example of that is HB 41, a bill introduce by three of the most consistently stupid members of the state legislature since the super star of MN lege stupid, Michele Bachmann, moved on to a larger public platform for embarrassment. Her most recent public embarrassment was the lie that President Obama had extorted foreign governments to walk in gay pride parades.  Because you can’t make up stupid, especially dishonest stupid, the way Michele Bachmann can.  Sadly all too often, when the facts are not on the side of conservatives, like Bachmann, like the authors of HB 41, they just make up stuff; worse they come to believe their lies.

From lgbtqnation:

 

Former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann appeared on the Family Research Council‘s “Washington Watch” radio program late last week to discuss the incoming Trump Administration.
In her appearance, which was captured by RightWingWatch, she denounced the State Department for forcing foreign government ministers to march in gay pride parades. It is unclear what she is referring to.

Financial incentives are withheld from countries unless they advance, for instance, the gay agenda. In a country that doesn’t believe in the gay agenda, the Obama State Department has said, “Look, you have to have a Gay Pride parade. You have to make sure that you can show us that ministers are marching in this Gay Pride parade.” What? The US government is telling another government, “You have to have Gay Pride parades”? That’s unbelievable! “You won’t get your PEPFAR money, you won’t get your USAID money, unless you follow our radical social agenda”?

HB 41 is the latest effort at a bathroom bill, a bill to make life more of a living hell for transgender students.

From OnTop magazine:

 

Three Republican members of the Minnesota House have introduced a bill that targets transgender students.
The Student Physical Privacy Act (HF 41) seeks to “protect and provide for the privacy and safety of all students enrolled in public schools and to maintain order and dignity in restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, showers, and other facilities where students may be in various states of undress in the presence of other students.”
It defines “sex” to mean “the physical condition of being male or female, which is determined by a person’s chromosomes and is identified at birth by a person’s anatomy.” The bill would designate restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms and shower rooms for the “exclusive use by students of the male sex only or by the students of the female sex only.”
The bill’s authors are Representatives Duanne Quam of Byron, Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa and Eric Lucero of Dayton.
Introduced on Thursday, the proposed legislation has been referred to the Education Innovation Policy committee.

 

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Facing reality about the election

by Eric Ferguson on December 14, 2016 · 0 comments

trump3Hillary Clinton’s popular vote lead continues to increase as states continue to process absentee ballots and provisional ballots, and we certainly can take some comfort in Hillary winning by the standard used in healthy democracies, but we also have to face a structural problem. This is twice in this young century this has happened to the Democratic candidate. This strains the idea this is a statistical oddity. For all that it lets us push back when Trumpers claim he won some sort of landslide or mandate, we have the same problem with the electoral college we have with the Senate, the House, and most state legislatures: the way those bodies are structured favors Republicans. Both the way districts are drawn and just how the current US population is spread among the various states results in Republican voters being efficiently distributed. That’s most clear when looking at how congressional and legislative seats are gerrymandered in so much of the country, but the structure of the Senate does the same thing. Since each state is equally represented, and small states tend to be populated by the demographic groups that lean Republican, the Senate overrepresents conservative areas. The electoral college isn’t as bad since population counts too, but there would be no President Trump, as there would have been no President Bush Jr., without an efficient distribution of people inclined to vote Republican.
 

Democrats have an obvious partisan interest in reforming American elections so one person’s vote is equal to anyone else’s, but we can point out that no modern democracy values some votes more than others. This anachronism from the 18th century unfortunately serves Republicans well. In fact, they would not only not hold the presidency without it, but they would not hold the Senate either. That means we’re unlikely to modernize our elections and government structures unless Republicans find themselves disadvantaged. We’re going to have to find ways to win anyway.
 
And I wish that were all the tough lessons from this election.
 
Voter suppression laws are working. The author of that linked article, Ari Berman, mentioned in a radio interview (sorry, that means nothing to link to) that most of the people in Wisconsin who didn’t vote because of photo Id restrictions actually did have ID that would have let them vote. They didn’t vote because they wrongly thought they couldn’t or they were unsure and didn’t want to deal with being turned away from the polls. So even just the legal battles, court orders and failure of the Republican government to comply with court orders regarding rules and publicity, did the job of keeping people away from the polls. I haven’t seen the numbers to know how much that holds true for other states, or if the numbers were sufficient to flip the election result, but at least Democrats lost votes because of suppression. So for Republicans, suppression worked. I wish I could say Democrats didn’t pay attention and didn’t do all they could to combat it, but I have a terrible feeling Democrats DID pay attention and do all they could, and it just wasn’t enough.
 
…READ MORE

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Sadly with the rise of fascism in governments, not only in the US with our president elect and many of those on the right who are his advisors or in congress, protecting civil right, HUMAN rights is more important than ever. Our conned-servative fellow human beings are unwilling to accord those who they perceive as “other” and therefore less human, for their race, for their religious beliefs, for their socio-economic background, or for their gender or sexual orientation, among other pretexts for bigotry.

From the official UN web site:

Human Rights Day
10 December

Stand up for someone’s rights today!

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.

This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone’s rights! Disrespect for basic human rights continues to be wide-spread in all parts of the globe. Extremist movements subject people to horrific violence. Messages of intolerance and hatred prey on our fears. Humane values are under attack.

We must reaffirm our common humanity. Wherever we are, we can make a real difference. In the street, in school, at work, in public transport; in the voting booth, on social media.

The time for this is now. “We the peoples” can take a stand for rights. And together, we can take a stand for more humanity.

It starts with each of us. Step forward and defend the rights of a refugee or migrant, a person with disabilities, an LGBT person, a woman, a child, indigenous peoples, a minority group, or anyone else at risk of discrimination or violence.

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MN lege: GOP makes a hater Senate Majority Leader

by Dan Burns on November 16, 2016 · 0 comments

gazelkaErstwhile Minnesota Senate Republican leader David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) lost his reelection effort, and Sen. Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) is the new guy. (The GOP has a 34-33 majority, pending a couple of recounts that are unlikely to change anything.) Gazelka is a head case.
 

Take his appearance nearly a year ago at the Now is the Time! Now is the Season! Jubilee! Chuck Pierce and Dutch Sheets, Duluth MN in Duluth, at which the state senator joined other Christian dominionists to pray for the Zenith City. (For a quick look into the mind of Dutch Sheets, check out his Baal Teachings, which equate LGBTQ people with demons; someone should find out in Gazelka–who in 2010 grabbed the endorsement from the MNGOP’s only openly gay legislator–if he agrees).
(Bluestem Prairie)

I don’t know that there was a lot of thought put into this. Mostly I figure that Gazelka wanted the job when it unexpectedly opened up, and he gets along with most everyone in the caucus, so they gave it to him.
 
It’s not like most people even know, much less care, who the state Senate Majority Leader is. But I will note that not long ago I would have mocked the MNGOP for putting an openly bigoted extremist into a position like this, given the longer-term political winds. Right now, I’m not so sure.
 

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GOP Hypocrisy on Parade

by Dog Gone on November 4, 2016 · 0 comments

The WaPo came out with a news piece covering “Melanoma” Trump, speaking about what she will do when she is first lady.

 

No porn-posing illegal immigrant (allegedly) has any business in our White House. This is NOT a woman who should be held up as a model for American men, women and children.

 

But there can be no greater hypocrisy than Melanoma’s chosen issue – cyber-bullying.  Donald J. Drumpf is the very WORST example of cyber bullying and bullying generally.  This man is himself a deplorable human being.

 

This should result in Melanoma Trump being laughed off of any stage upon which she chooses to posture and plagiarize.

 

From the WaPo:


Melania Trump vows to take on cyberbullying as first lady

November 3 at 7:59 PM

BERWYN, Pa. — Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Thursday, pledging to focus on combatting online bullying and serve as an advocate for women and children if her husband is elected to the White House.
Her description of the perils of social media seemed at odds with her husband’s divisive and bullying rhetoric throughout the campaign.

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Image result for wrecking ball, Trump

I have a funny to share with you, dear readers.

 

I was reading about how Trump is the radical right wing evangelicals’  and God’s chosen “Chaos candidate”.

 

Iwas reading about this on a crazy Christian web site, Charisma. They kept referring to Trump as God’s “anointed wrecking ball” with other references to “Cyrus”.

 

Not Miley Cyrus, just ‘Cyrus’.

 

So as a good, well-brought up Lutheran woman, my mind went Biblical in reference. I thought maybe, just maybe, in some incomprehensible way these wacko-bird evangelicals were referring to Cyrus the Great of Persia, in the context of a powerful leader. Cyrus the Great, who ended the Babylonian captivity of the Jews and ordered the rebuilding of the Jewish temple. A prominent non-Judeo-Christian leader anointed by God. Cyrus the Great of Persia who was called the King of Kings, and named in the prophetic book, Isaiah :

 

45:1 Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;

45:2I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:

45:3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.

THAT Cyrus. Evangelicals……so logically Biblical Cyrus. Old Testament Cyrus. The anointed Cyrus, as they kept referring to him.

 

Noooooooo.

 

The crazy evangelicals were referring to the sexy music video by Miley Cyrus from back in 2013, that they probably have never seen or heard, and would not approve of if they had.  No one would accuse these numbnuts of being conversant with popular culture.

 

Because……wrecking ball.

 

After reading and re-reading, they clearly meant Trump was God’s anointed MILEY Cyrus wrecking ball intended to demolish non-evangelical-Christian opposition to things like creationism and tolerance for the LGBT. They believe Trump is supposed to restore Christian theocracy to the government of the United States.

 

Like a wrecking ball.

 

And now I’m left with the unavoidable mental image of Trump, in skimpy underwear, licking a sledgehammer for God. Orange spray-tanned, fat, old Trump, who thinks he is God’s gift to women, in skimpy underwear, brown socks and brown shoes, twerking his way to a Christian theocracy for the United States, in the name of Jesus.  Like Miley Cyrus.
And now you have that image too.

 

Yup – now just try to get that image and the MILEY Cyrus music out of your head.

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We’ve heard Donald Trump claim that Hillary shouldn’t be president because Bill Clinton had infidelities.  To be specific, Trump claims Bill Clinton was a sexual predator, the worst in the history of the presidency.  Specifically per the AP, Trump said this:

 

 “But Bill Clinton has sexually assaulted innocent women and Hillary Clinton was attacking those women viciously.”
“Bill Clinton was the worst abuser of women to ever sit in the Oval Office. He was a predator,”

There is no credible evidence that Hillary ever attacked these women, much less viciously.  She did stand by Bill through rough going, but that is arguably evidence commitment to traditional marriage, not of abuse of anyone else.  Trump in contrast has not only demeaned and vilified his accusers, he has threatened them with law suits.  (Prediction, I expect counter suits, and that Trump will drop his suits, and pay these women to settle theirs.)

 

But as to the claims against Bill Clinton, I would argue that as sexual escapades in the White House go, he’s been among the less egregious, not the worst.  More on that below, but first an examination of the allegations against “President Bubba”.

 

To get specific, Bill Clinton had five formal allegations of sexual misconduct; the claims of Juanita Broadderick, Kathleen Willey, and Paula Jones, have not been established.  They exist as accusations of dubious authenticity, given Broadderick and Willey both testified under oath that Clinton never made unwanted advances.  Further Willey had a history of false accusations, which included telling a boyfriend she was pregnant, when she was not, and then claiming a miscarriage that she didn’t have.  Linda Tripp of Monica Lewinsky scandal fame claimed it was Willey who was obsessed from day 1 with seducing the President.

 

Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky both appeared to have had some kind of sexual relationships but not apparently coitus with Lewinsky.  Bill Clinton admitted to a one time sexual relationship with Flowers. She couldn’t prove otherwise, and offered up what appeared to be doctored phone calls that did not prove a long term sexual relationship.

 

Gennifer Flowers used her notoriety for profit, to the tune of $500,000.  All of the women who have appeared with Donald Trump prior to his second debate, both alleged victims of Bill Clinton, and a very questionable rape victim, were paid to do so, to the tune of $2,5000 each, and their stories conflict with prior accounts of events, including Grand Jury testimony under oath.

 

Hillary has also been accused of laughing at the alleged victim of a rape case, presumably thereby abusing HER,  where she had no option out of defending the accused rapist, whom she got a plea deal.  She did laugh at the botched case of the prosecution, and she was recorded laughing at the unreliability of polygraph testing, which showed the accused rapist to be innocent.  But she did NOT laugh at the victim.  Further complicating the rape case, the 12 year old victim had consensual sex with a 15 year old boy prior to the accused rape, and had previously made false accusations of bodily attacks.

 

Hillary Clinton tried to get out of defending her client, but she got a good outcome for her client (a plea deal, not an acquittal)  because he passed a polygraph test, and because of lack of evidence and mishandling of evidence by the prosecution.  It was her duty as a defense attorney to do so; she did her job. The victim previously supported the defense role of Hillary before it became profitable to object to her.

 

In contrast so far as can be established, there are more women who have credibly come forward to make accusations against Trump, and NONE of them have been paid to do so, and none of them have been credibly contradicted by others in defense of Trump, except by Trump himself who makes a highly suspect denial, much less contradicted themselves.

 

In contrast Bill Clinton, who turned 70 this past August,  has had no sex scandals since Monica Lewinsky back in the 1990s.  Trump, who also turned 70 this past June, has had sex scandals pretty much right up until he decided to run for President, which he announced in 2015.  These include a law suit for multiple violent rapes of a 13 year old, to other accusations of sexual assault and sexual harassment.  Trump’s accusations are distinctive in how consistently they are not consensual – although he has had consensual affairs as well.  He admits to having cheated on Ivana, his first wife, with Marla Maples, his second wife, and to having cheated on Maples with multiple women, including his third wife.  He has been recorded multiple times admitting to have at least attempted to cheat on Melania Trump, his third wife.

 

Putting Bill Clinton’s conduct in context, and at the same time putting the claims that Hillary Clinton jeopardized the security of the country with her email problems, I offer you a few examples of bad presidential conduct. Richard Nixon – yes, Tricky Dicky – had an ongoing affair with a Communist Chinese woman with close ties to Chinese Generals.  MI-6 recorded his sex-capades and head of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover got his own dirt on Dick, and used it to blackmail him.  Trump campaign staffer and key adviser to Donald Trump was in the Nixon White House and is one of those who confirm the story.  Both JFK and Gerald Ford had affairs with an East German Communist spy, by the name of Ellen Rometsch, with both being allegedly blackmailed, again by J. Edgar Hoover. Ford was not president at the time, but allegedly was blackmailed for information from the Warren Commission on the JFK assassination.  JFK was far more of a sexual predator and serial philanderer than Bill Clinton, including alleged sexual impropriety with interns. Ronald Reagan had a credible accusation of rape while president as well – but that was while he was Screen Actors Guild president, not US president.

 

Arguably black mail of the president is a far greater danger to the security of the United States than a private email server with very low level information on it.  And if one takes a look at the totality of presidential history when it comes to inappropriate sexual conduct, there are few who pass scrutiny.  George Washington has been credibly accused of having a long term sexual relationship with a slave named Venus and a speculative one with a certain Mrs. Fairfax.  Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemmings has been established by DNA evidence, and possibly began when she was as young as 16.  This is not unique to recent presidents.  The founding fathers had more than their fair share of bastards.

 

Looking at presidents from WW II forward, the only apparent cases where there were no credible accusations of infidelity or sexual misconduct, before, during or after their presidency were Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Harry Truman.  Both Bushes appear to have had affairs – more than one, and Dubya was accused of rape. Looking back before WW II across the 19th century, there were not only heterosexual affairs, some with presidential bastard offspring, there were rumors of homosexual relationships attributed (at different times in history) to both presidents Abraham Lincoln and James Buchanan.

 

So, no, Bill Clinton is FAR from the worst president in terms of keeping himself safely in his pants, and he seems considerably less bad in that regard than the conduct of Donald Trump, past and recent past if not present.  That is IF you look at factual histories of our presidents and their most private conduct.  Just a word to the wise, before you take a look at our unsanitized history – you will NOT be able to look at Mount Rushmore, or stamps with presidents on them, or money, quite the same way again afterwards.

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