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Why Hillary Clinton Lost

  • There’s an old saying reported to have originated with the Roman Senator and historian Tacitus that ‘success has a hundred fathers, while failure is an orphan.’ If there is any modern arena where this old aphorism is true, it’s politics and the way that people react to a winning campaign versus a losing campaign.
  • Most recently, of course, this phenomenon has been on display with regard to the 2016 Presidential election, and as we hit the six month anniversary of Donald Trump’s stunning and surprising Electoral College win, the effort to determine why Trump won and, perhaps more interestingly, why Hillary Clinton lost has been ramping up and is only likely to continue.
  • James Joyner highlighted one of those theories in his post about Kevin Drum’s two posts over the weekend — here and here — regarding the impact that James Comey had on the outcome of the election.
  • [I]t’s worth noting what happened between the July press conference and the late-October release of the letter regarding the reopened investigation.
Doug Mataconis / Outside The Beltway | April 24, 2017, 1:46 pm

Hey Jeff Sessions: Alabama Is 2 To 3 Times More Dangerous Than NYC

  • Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who spent years as the Senator from Alabama, accused New York City cops last week of being “soft on crime.”
  • While I was living in New York City, I felt far safer than I ever did in Washington, DC.
  • Violent crime: You are 1.7x more likely to be a victim of a violent crime in Huntsville than in NYC.
  • So, it would appear that Alabama could learn a thing or two from New Yorker.
John Aravosis / AMERICAblog | April 24, 2017, 1:42 pm

What If Hundreds Of Thousands Of People Marched For Scientific Truth—and The Media Yawned?

  • If you watched the round of Sunday talk shows, it was easy to miss the fact that hundreds of thousands marched across the country and around the world this weekend in defense of science, reason, logic, and the value of facts.
  • In hundreds of "March for Science" events from Boston to Sydney, Australia, engineers, researchers and teachers took a break from the lab to apply their ingenuity to colorful protest placards.
  • While the events were non-partisan according to organizers, many marchers were in effect protesting Trump's proposal to sharply cut federal science and research budgets and his administration's skepticism about climate change and the need to slow global warming.
  • Most of the Sunday news shows failed to cover the worldwide March for Science protests, an international demonstration partly meant to draw attention to President Donald Trump’s “disregard for evidence-based knowledge” and climate change denial. (Mark Sumner) / Daily Kos | April 24, 2017, 12:04 pm

The Opioid Epidemic, The Border Wall, And Magical Thinking

President Trump knows that the United States is suffering through one of the worst drug epidemics on record. Its breadth was captured well by Christopher Caldwell, who looked back for comparisons. “A heroin scourge in America’s housing projects coincided with a wave of heroin-addicted soldiers brought back from Vietnam, with a cost peaking between 1973 and 1975 at 1.5 overdose deaths per 100,000,” he began by way of context. “The Nixon White House panicked. Curtis Mayfield wrote his ballad ‘Freddie’s Dead.’ The crack epidemic of the mid- to late 1980s was worse, with a death rate reaching almost two per 100,000. George H. W. Bush declared war on drugs. The present opioid epidemic is killing 10.3 people per 100,000, and that is without the fentanyl-impacted statistics from 2016. In some states it is far worse: over thirty per 100,000 in New Hampshire and over forty in West Virginia.”

Roughly 52,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2015.

And drugs came up in Trump’s interview with the Associated Press. This is how they came up:

TRUMP: Well, first of all, the wall will cost much less than the numbers I'm seeing. I'm seeing numbers, I mean, this wall is not going to be that expensive.

AP: What do you think the estimate on it would be?

TRUMP: Oh I'm seeing numbers — $24 billion, I think I'll do it for $10 billion or less. That's not a lot of money relative to what we're talking about. If we stop 1 percent of the drugs from coming in — and we'll stop all of it.

But if we stop 1 percent of the drugs because we have the wall — they're coming around in certain areas, but if you have a wall, they can't do it because it's a real wall. That's a tremendously good investment, 1 percent. The drugs pouring through on the southern border are unbelievable. We're becoming a drug culture, there's so much. And most of it's coming from the southern border.

The wall will stop the drugs.

This is a remarkable amount of nonsense to pack into one answer. There are so many layers to it.

  1. As this MIT analysis persuasively shows, there is no chance that Trump can build a wall of the sort that he promised his voters for anything close to $10 billion.
  2. At one point Trump suggests that the wall—or perhaps the wall plus other measures—will stop all of the drugs entering the United States from Mexico. There is zero chance that Trump will achieve anything close to that and he knows it.
  3. That is why, for most of the answer, he makes a much more plausible claim: that his border wall with Mexico will stop 1 percent of drugs coming across the border. I have my doubts about that claim.
  4. Trump then strays into the absurd again, arguing that stopping 1 percent of drugs flowing across the border would alone justify a $10 billion price tag. That would, of course, be substantially less than 1 percent of total drugs entering the country, since drugs enter in so many ways besides from Mexico by land. For that minuscule total, which would do virtually nothing to help Americans with drug abuse or addition, Trump thinks $10 billion is a steal.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Trump administration drug policy, “The top government lawyers from 19 states, including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, are telling President Donald Trump and the Republican leaders of Congress not to pass health insurance changes that would stop the flow of federal drug treatment money.”

The Associated Press story continues:

The attorneys general’s letter said that a bill that died last month could have eventually cut more than $13 billion a year in treatment funding through a combination of direct cuts and caps on Medicaid. Medicaid changes could have ended coverage for an estimated 24 million people; for many with addictions, the taxpayer funded health insurance program is the only way to pay for treatment. They attorneys general warned any plan like that would be a blow to a country dealing with an epidemic of addiction to opioids including heroin, fentanyl and prescription pain drugs.

Taken together, this is quintessential Trump. He persuaded his credulous base that he really cares about addressing the “drug culture” that has devastated so many communities.

Yet he is so ignorant of policy, or duplicitous, or obsessed with building a wall, or perhaps all three, that $10 billion to stop a fraction of 1 percent of illegal drug imports strikes him as a deal, so long as that sum comes in the form of a wall—even as he joined Republicans in pushing a bill that would cut $13 billion to help addicts get off drugs.

Amid a national catastrophe as serious as the opioid drug crisis, Trump lacks the knowledge and discipline to pursue the sorts of policies that would save more lives or do more good, even when the flaws of his alternative approach are glaringly obvious. The full consequences of his frustrating shortcomings may prove terrible, indeed.

Macron And Le Pen Advance To Runoff In French Presidential Election

  • When the smoke cleared after Sunday’s first round in the French Presidential election, the French people were left with a rather clear choice between the rather mainstream center-left politics of Emmanuel Macron and the right-wing politics of National Front leader Marine Le Pen in a runoff that is likely to have major implications for both France and the rest of Europe:
  • PARIS — In France’s most consequential election in recent history, voters on Sunday chose Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen to go to a runoff to determine the next president, official returns showed.
  • The result was a full-throated rebuke of France’s traditional mainstream parties, setting the country on an uncertain path in an election that could also decide the future of the European Union.
  • It is the first time in the nearly 59-year history of France’s Fifth Republic that both of the final candidates are from outside the traditional left-right party structure.
Doug Mataconis / Outside The Beltway | April 24, 2017, 10:39 am

AP Interview Provides Your Handy Reminder That Donald Trump Is Nucking Futs

  • This cartoon was initially inspired by Trump’s “Obama tapped my wires” tweets, and the laughably supportive GOP response.
  • TRUMP: A little before I took office there was a terrible article about the F-35 fighter jet.
  • TRUMP: Now if you multiply that times 3,000 planes, you know this is on 90 planes.
  • But he now relates doing nothing as a great, unprecedented triumph—his example for one of the most important things to happen in his presidency. (Mark Sumner) / Daily Kos | April 24, 2017, 9:02 am

Don't Grade A President On His First 100 Days

The election of Donald Trump, and the early days of his presidency, have driven many Americans to rummage through history in search of context and understanding. Trump himself has been compared to historical figures ranging from Ronald Reagan to Henry Ford, and from Andrew Jackson to Benito Mussolini. His steps have been condemned as unprecedented by his critics, and praised as historic by his supporters.

To place contemporary events in perspective, we turned to a pair of historians of the United States. Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author, most recently, of The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society. Morton Keller is a professor emeritus of history at Brandeis University. He has written or edited more than 15 books, including Obama’s Time: A History. They’ll be exchanging views periodically on how to understand Trump, his presidency, and this moment in political time. —Yoni Appelbaum

Julian Zelizer: President Trump’s first 100 days in office are coming to a close. The grades will soon come out. Politicians, journalists, historians are all starting to evaluate how well or how poorly he has done. This does not go down in the “unprecedented” part of this presidency. Ever since President Franklin Roosevelt pushed through Congress a historic legislative agenda in the early part of his term, the 100-day mark has been a standard part of the political lexicon.

There are many reasons for why we keep using this measure. Once FDR set the bar, it became difficult not to make this comparison. For journalists the 100 day-mark is a nice, clean, and simple way to measure how things are going, while politicians look for ways to gauge the strength of the commander in chief. In our current culture of quick, instant satisfaction, we want presidents to deliver on promises right away—and we have little patience for waiting.

But the first 100 days in office don’t really tell us much. Some presidents who get off to a strong start, like Jimmy Carter, go on to struggle during the remainder of their terms. Others, like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, have tough early months, but then go on to serve two terms and end their term with strong approval ratings. Some of the biggest presidential achievements, like President Richard Nixon’s trip to China or President Obama’s health-care reform, come long after the 100 days are over.

It’s also not clear what we should measure. In the current era of strong presidents, executive orders and action should certainly be part of what we evaluate. So, too, should actions by Cabinet leaders, as we see in the current administration when rightward leaning agency secretaries are working hard to undercut the missions of their own programs.

Putting too much pressure on success in the first 100 days creates incentives for quick, and sometimes hasty, action. Great legislation can take time to produce. The legislative process requires what political scientist Nelson Polsby called periods of policy incubation when experts revise and strengthen ideas, where policy makers build support for a bill, and when elected officials can evaluate what kind of legislation will work best. Doing everything up front and right away is often antithetical to success especially in a polarized age when “no” is usually the easiest answer to new ideas.

I am as guilty as anyone else for still using this concept but it is probably time to move on to other measures. Asking how presidents did in the first 100 days usually tells us little about what is to come and might even create the exact political incentives we need to avoid.

Morton Keller: The concept of the 100-day marker appears to have originated in the time between Napoleon’s leaving Elba and reinstatement as emperor in Paris, and the restoration of the French monarchy after Waterloo. It appeared in American politics with FDR’s first three months in office after his March 1933 inauguration. In both cases the term’s appeal lies in its implication of a revolutionary turnover in political events: Napoleon’s final removal from power, Roosevelt’s first New Deal.

The term has been applied in more recent times, and to more normal leaders, to describe their pivots from a determination to fulfill what were seen as their electoral mandates (usually without success) to more nuanced or even quite different policies (usually with some success). This was true of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

And what about Trump? You are quite right, Julian, to reserve judgment on that score. Initially, the new president seemed hell-bent on fulfilling his most fearsome nationalist, xenophobic, isolationist rhetoric. More recently, he has shown signs of leaning toward policies, personnel, and politics that are more mainstream than slipstream.

Which is it to be? Reinstatement of the Trumpian Revolution in all its often maleficent character, a la Napoleon after Elba? A modified, and ultimately more successful, reshaping of his initial policy intent, a la Reagan? Or a sea change in policy a la FDR or, less sweepingly, Clinton?

I am in full agreement with you that this is no time to attempt a conclusive assessment of what the Trump presidency is up to, and where it is heading. The media savants who explain politics to the masses appear to be quite certain of their positions, varied though they are. As historians, we are duty-bound to withhold judgment when the available evidence is as varied and conflicting as, just now, it is.

Zelizer: I’m glad we are in agreement on this one. I would add that the entire concept, as we commonly use it, does reflect a problem with our current approach to politics generally. As you taught me many years ago, and I keep learning, legislating just takes time and many tries. I was always struck when writing about the history of Medicare, that it really took almost a decade until legislators got it right. Many versions were tried, voted on, and revised until we reached the breakthrough of 1965.

I do think we have a president who has especially little appreciation for that, and won’t put much work into doing this with policies. But that’s for another conversation. At a minimum maybe we can give presidents 200 days?

Keller: When Harold Macmillan was asked what determined the course of British politics, he is supposed to have replied: “Events, my dear boy, events.” That was certainly the case with Clinton, who was shaken into a new policy course by the 1994 bye-election results (and perhaps by the spectacular failure of Hillarycare). Similarly, 9/11 turned George W. Bush from a rather inert president to one whose new-found reputation as a leader in the fight against terrorism may well have been the determining factor in his 2004 defeat of John Kerry.  

So why substitute the 100 days invention with a 200 days one? Why don’t we wait on events, and when in our judgment a substantive pattern is emerging, say so?

Fox News Fires Ailes, O'Reilly Over Sexual Harassment Claims. Will Sean Hannity Be Next?

  • There's no way Fox News could have persisted with culture of sexual harassment and cover-ups lasting for as many years as the Roger Ailes era did unless there were a lot more individuals involved than just Roger Ailes.
  • So it was no surprise when, lo and behold, it turned out that Fox host Bill O'Reilly had a laundry list of accusations against him as well.
  • Columnist, attorney, and former Fox News contributor Debbie Schlussel appeared on today’s Pat Campbell Show and accused Fox News Prime Time Host Sean Hannity of the same type of behavior that lead to Bill O’Reilly leaving the beleaguered network earlier this week.
  • Schlussel says that after she turned down his advances, she was not invited back on his program. (Hunter) / Daily Kos | April 24, 2017, 6:01 am

Who Does The Anne Frank Center Represent?

Sean Spicer was in trouble. In a press conference addressing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people, the White House press secretary had fallen into one of his signature slow-moving train-wrecks of an analogy: “You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” he said, later clarifying that he understood Hitler did use them in “the Holocaust centers” but didn’t use them “on his own people.” The claims were wrong in just about every way: Adolf Hitler used gas chambers to murder millions of Jews in concentration camps across Europe, including German citizens.

“BREAKING NEWS: SEAN SPICER DENIES HITLER GASSED JEWS DURING THE HOLOCAUST,” the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect wrote in all-caps on Facebook. “MR. PRESIDENT, FIRE SEAN SPICER NOW.” Weeks earlier, the center had slammed Donald Trump for being slow to condemn a recent wave of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers—“a Band-Aid on the cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected his own administration,” it said—and the White House’s failure to mention Jews in its statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Dozens of news outlets picked up the statements, and the group’s executive director, Steven Goldstein, was all over television. After all, this was the American organization that speaks for Anne Frank, the teenaged author of the world-famous diary about her life in hiding in Amsterdam before she was murdered in a Nazi concentration camp.

Or does it speak for her? The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, known until about a year ago as the Anne Frank Center USA, is a small organization of about nine staffers. It is independent from the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, which memorializes Anne’s hiding place, and is not connected at all to the Anne Frank Fonds, the Swiss organization that owns the rights to Anne’s diary. Before Goldstein officially became executive director in June 2016, the center was an obscure educational organization with a tiny storefront museum in New York City that few visited. And though the organization claims it was founded by Anne’s father, Otto Frank, in 1959, the organization’s own historical documentation and people who were part of its founding say it was actually started in 1977, and Otto Frank had no direct involvement.

The Jewish world is full of organizations that advocate against anti-Semitism and discrimination, including groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee. Unlike the Anne Frank Center, these organizations have years of experience, dozens of offices, and sizeable grassroots support. They also have clear frameworks for defining and combatting anti-Semitism—even the ADL, which is known for its strongly worded statements, didn’t call Spicer’s ill-advised comments “Holocaust denial.” The Anne Frank Center has reliably been willing to criticize the Trump administration in more aggressive and hyperbolic terms than any of these well-established groups, and media outlets have credulously rewarded it with extensive coverage.

The center’s transformation was no accident. It recently got a new board chair, a private-wealth manager named Peter Rapaport, and he brought on Goldstein, who has a background in political organizing. It shuttered its small museum and disbanded its board of advisers comprised of Holocaust experts. All of the staffers who were working there when Goldstein arrived have left.

With just its famous name and a savvy social-media strategy, the Anne Frank Center has transformed into a putative authority on anti-Semitism and American politics. But it’s not at all clear the organization speaks for anybody other than its own leaders—not Holocaust scholars, Anne Frank’s family, or the Jewish community. Ultimately, by politicizing Anne Frank, the group may undermine her legacy.

* * *

The history of Anne Frank organizations is complicated. After World War II, Anne’s diary was published and became an international sensation. A Hollywood adaptation won three Oscars and a Broadway play endeared Anne to the New York City theater crowd. In 1957, the Anne Frank Foundation, or Stichting in Dutch, was created to preserve the house where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis between 1942 and 1944. A few years later, Otto Frank established the Anne Frank Fonds in Basel as his family’s foundation and universal heir.

On its website, the American Anne Frank Center claims it was created in 1959 “with Anne’s father Otto Frank among its founders.” Goldstein provided me with a letter from 1958 as proof of the center’s origins. The letter appears to be a fundraising appeal from the Anne Frank Stichting in Amsterdam; at that time, it was trying to raise money to save Anne’s house from demolition. “It is contemplated that after this first fund raising no further appeals for large funds will be needed,” the letter said. Otto Frank is not its author. He is only mentioned once, toward the end: The upkeep costs of the house in Amsterdam would “be met by small contributions from school children in many countries and from a few private sources, including Anne’s father, Otto Frank,” it says. The letterhead bears the name of the “American Committee for the International Anne Frank Youth Center,” but the text goes on to call it a “temporary committee.”

“I don’t think Otto Frank had anything to do with any organization … in the ’50s or ’60s. I’m pretty sure. I would have known that.”

Bauco van der Wal, who oversaw the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam during the late 1970s and ’80s, said he does not think any American Anne Frank organization existed in 1959. “I don’t think Otto Frank had anything to do with any organization set up with his approval or his initiative anywhere in the ’50s or ’60s,” he said. “I’m pretty sure. I would have known that.”

According to van der Wal, the U.S. organization now known as the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect wasn’t started for another two decades—and it was his job to start it. At the time, the Anne Frank Stichting was hoping to build an American fundraising arm: “We tried to see if we could find a foothold in the United States,” van der Wal said. He established the American Friends of the Anne Frank Center in New York City with the help of several Holocaust survivors, including a man from Austria named Ernest Nives and a man from the Netherlands named Jack Polak. Otto Frank was not part of that effort: “I went to see him every two or three months in his home in Basel to tell him what was going on, but that was basically as far as his involvement was. He didn’t okay it, and he didn’t say it was not allowed,” van der Wal said. “He was also an old man in those days.”

The contemporary organization tells the story differently. On its website, in emails to its supporters, and in the media, the center says it was started directly by Otto Frank. In a June 2016 email announcing a “new era” at the Anne Frank Center, Goldstein made this claim clear: “Otto Frank, Anne’s father, founded our organization—ours, right here in the United States—to partner with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and the Anne Frank Fonds in Basel,” he wrote.

But other people who were around during the organization’s early years were also skeptical that Otto Frank was one of the founders in 1977. Grayson Covil, who served as a staffer and, later, as executive director during the late ’80s and ’90s, said 1977 was when the organization obtained its 501(c)(3) status. “I don’t believe that Otto Frank started the American Friends of the Anne Frank Center,” its name at the time, she said. Nives, the first president of the organization, died in 2006, but his wife, Fanny, told me she didn’t think Otto Frank was involved, either. “I think my husband met with him once or twice,” she said.

“Nobody says that he went door to door to build this organization. That was left to Americans.”

Goldstein pointed me to documents from 1977 to demonstrate that Otto Frank was involved, but these also did not conclusively prove his claims. In a letter, Nives announces that “a U.S. tax-exempt organization has recently been formed to support various projects of the Anne Frank Center in Amsterdam.” He only mentions Otto Frank once, in a postscript noting that the names of people who received the letter were “furnished to us by the Anne Frank Center, Amsterdam and/or Otto Frank.” This fits van der Wal’s telling of the history: Otto Frank may have been aware of the organization’s creation, and contacts he provided to the Stichting may have been used in an initial fundraising appeal for the American center, but it’s not clear that Frank did anything beyond that. “Nobody says that he went door to door to build this organization,” Goldstein said in response. “That was left to Americans.”

There are other, more anodyne apparent errors in the way the organization tells its history. For example: On the website, the organization claims that it took the name Anne Frank Center in 1977. That’s not right, said Covil: It started out as the American Friends of the Anne Frank Center, referring to the Stichting in Amsterdam, and didn’t drop the “American Friends” part until the late ’80s or early ’90s while she was at the organization. The documents Goldstein provided also say this was the group’s name starting in 1977.

Goldstein attributes the confusion over the organization’s history to years of mismanagement. “When I looked at the historic research, I, too, saw different names for this organization from 1959 until 2016,” he told me. “I saw a vague and incoherent purpose. The organization didn’t seem to know—beyond in letter, I’m talking about in spirit—how much did it report to European organizations, how much was it a friend of the House, versus how much it was supposed to do independent work.” He told me “the questions you’re posing—these are the same questions I had. I can only give you my perspective [as] an outsider … who wasn’t around from 1959. I was born in 1962.”

“To believe that Anne Frank is a sort of Mother Teresa, or a universal symbol of tolerance and goodness—I don’t see it in the diary.”

At small organizations like this, historical memory can easily get lost. Polak, the Holocaust survivor and long-time board member, died in 2015. Even his son, Tony, who serves as a board trustee, couldn’t remember details about when the group was founded—he had to ask Goldstein. There’s an argument to be made that it doesn’t really matter what year the center started or whether Otto Frank was involved, anyways: It has clearly set a new direction and goal for itself.

On the other hand, the newly reinvented center is using Anne Frank’s name for moral credibility and historical authority, which many news organizations have taken at face value over the last several months. It’s also associating Anne Frank with specific political statements—ones that are stridently partisan.

* * *

The debate over how to use Anne’s legacy is long standing in the Holocaust-education world. For all his disagreements with the organization’s historical narrative, van der Wal said he supports what Goldstein’s Anne Frank Center is doing. In fact, during van der Wal’s tenure, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam was also politically outspoken on issues like apartheid, nuclear armament, and what he called neo-fascism. “My position has always been that the fate of Anne Frank is an example of what might happen if people don’t let other people live in freedom and equality,” van der Wal said. “To make statements about discriminatory remarks or racist remarks or anti-Semitic remarks, evoking the name of Anne Frank, is right.”

But just as Goldstein’s approach has rankled some people in America—Alan Dershowitz, the emeritus Harvard law professor, told me Goldstein is making “over-the-top, irresponsible, exaggerated statements designed to bring him publicity”—the Anne Frank House’s political activity in the ’70s and ’80s upset folks. “It got a lot of people’s backs up,” said Rolf Wolfswinkel, a scholar who studies Anne Frank’s diary and teaches at New York University. During this period, he often brought students to visit the House. “I think that we have to tread carefully if we want to make the diary part of a political agenda,” he said. “The danger is to read things into her diary that are not there. It’s a 15-year-old girl. … To believe that Anne Frank is a sort of Mother Teresa, or a universal symbol of tolerance and goodness—I don’t see it in the diary.”

Goldstein disagrees that it is “‘politicizing’ our organization to be tough on Sean Spicer,” he told me. “I believe that Donald Trump has an astounding insensitivity to the Jewish community that boggles the mind.” He thinks it would be irresponsible not to call out the administration. “How many times are [we] supposed to say, ‘Well, that’s just a mistake, there’s nothing anti-Semitic going on here’?” he said. “If it talks and quacks like a duck tinged with anti-Semitism, it’s a duck tinged with anti-Semitism.”

“I would hate to see her being abused as a rubber doll who you can shake and prod any way you like.”

To some extent, Otto Frank himself might be responsible for the disagreement over how to use Anne’s name. As Goldstein repeatedly pointed out, Otto Frank was a passionate advocate for human rights and urged people to fight prejudice and anti-Semitism in the latter years of his life. According to Wolfswinkel, Otto “felt that if his daughter’s diary had to have any significance beyond what she had written, the message should be universalized. It should be an activist message.” Over the years, this has led to criticism that Otto was making Anne’s story less distinctively Jewish, Wolfswinkel said: “In Jewish circles, that was always considered a little fraudulent. By taking the Jewishness out of the Holocaust, are we still talking about the same thing?”

There’s also the fear that trying to universalize and politicize Anne Frank’s story actually undermines her. “Part of the Holocaust-denial mantra is that the Anne Frank diary is a forgery,” said Dershowitz. “There’s a great effort to destroy the legacy of Anne Frank. That’s part of Holocaust denial. Inadvertently or advertently, this guy contributes to harming the true Anne Frank legacy and heritage.” Wolfswinkel agreed. Is “an agenda of political activism fodder for Holocaust deniers? Yes. I do think that opens up the diary for all kinds of unwanted interpretations,” he said. “I would hate to see her being abused as a rubber doll who you can shake and prod any way you like.”

Both Otto Frank’s intentions and Anne Frank’s legacy remain contested. The two primary Anne Frank organizations in Europe, the Fonds and the Stichting, were circumspect about their American cousin’s present-day activities. The one thing Yves Kugelmann, a Swiss journalist and publisher of Jewish magazines who serves on the board of the Fonds, made clear was this: “Anne Frank is not for politics. Anne Frank is for education.” Otto Frank stepped away from organizations or events “whenever there was politics involved,” Kugelmann said. “If somebody who is using Anne Frank and stepping too far away from the way Otto Frank initiated, maybe they should take another name to be active.” Maatje Mostart, the head of communications at the Anne Frank Stichting, would only say that her organization has “taken note of various recent statements by Steven Goldstein,” emphasizing that the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is independent from the Anne Frank Center in America. “We stay out of the political playing field, and see it as our task to achieve our mission—combating anti­-Semitism, racism, and discrimination—through our educational activities,” she wrote in an email.

“It isn’t our focus to be pro-Jewish or to be just a Holocaust-education [organization].”

The Anne Frank Center in the U.S. no longer sees itself this way. Rapaport, the organization’s new board chair, said it is neither a Jewish organization nor a Holocaust organization. Teaching about the Holocaust is “a valuable thing, but that’s not what we do,” he told me. “We teach about the thing that we think will prevent future Holocausts. … It isn’t our focus to be pro-Jewish or to be just a Holocaust-education [organization]. We want to use the knowledge of the Holocaust and go further.”

And it’s acted accordingly. Over the last year and a half or so, all of the former employees, who mostly had backgrounds in museum work, have left. At least one was fired, said Rapaport. In an email, Yvonne Simons, the former executive director, said only that “the board of directors choose a different path for the Anne Frank Center and changed its mission after my 10-year tenure.” Several longtime board members have also departed.

Shortly after Goldstein came on, the organization disbanded a long-standing advisory committee of Holocaust scholars, of which Wolfswinkel was part—nobody knew what their purpose was, Goldstein told me, and they didn’t meet very often. William Shulman, the president of the Association of Holocaust Organizations and emeritus professor of history at the City University of New York, was another adviser. He said the Anne Frank Center has been “inactive” in the association, which brings together all of the major Holocaust groups in America. The Anne Frank Center “[pays] their dues,” he said, “but rarely do we see anyone from the organization.” In general, the Anne Frank Center’s outspokenness is “an outlier,” he added. “There’s been universal distaste for doing this. … Our function is not to engage in politics. It’s to engage in Holocaust education, remembrance, and research. Anything that deviates from that damages our mission.”

Goldstein also shut down the little museum in New York City. It was serving an average of six visitors per day, Goldstein said, and people were getting “shpilkes”—Yiddish for “restless”—“going to a gallery downtown filled with thousands of words and not being able to get information quickly.” The center has opened a new office in Manhattan and Los Angeles and hired staff with backgrounds in social-justice organizing. This includes at least one colleague from Goldstein’s old days at Garden State Equality, the LGBT-rights organization he founded in New Jersey after working as a television producer and a short stint as a student at a Reconstructionist rabbinical school. The center’s new style echoes Goldstein’s organizing background. “He’s a force of nature,” said Troy Stevenson, the head of the LGBT-rights organization Freedom Oklahoma, who served as Goldstein’s number two at Garden State Equality for years. “He was very involved with the media. He’s got a long history of knowing how to get a message out.”

Goldstein claims the Anne Frank Center isn’t partisan. “So help me God, if Donald Trump were a Democrat, I would criticize him with the same gusto,” he told me. Rapaport, the board chair, describes himself at as a conservative Republican, and said he’s been going around mocking Breitbart for alleging that the Anne Frank Center has been taken over by left-wing activists. Goldstein is certainly liberal—Stevenson said he was always a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter, and “it seems like [he] took the current administration winning in a very harsh way.” But Goldstein uses different language to describe himself: “I am a social-justice activist [and] a Jewish activist,” he told me. Although the center has no official stance on Israel, Rapaport said, Goldstein noted that he is “a supporter of AIPAC, not J Street”—referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and its slightly more dovish competitor—and “an impassioned Zionist.”

“We are far more than the organization that knows how to write sound bites on Facebook and Twitter.”

Fundraising has been great over the last few months, Goldstein told me. In 2016, the organization was in the black for the first time in four years, he said, and financial statements show that it was able to do this in part because he didn’t take a salary for the first five months of his new gig and through donations from the board that were more than five times greater than in 2015. The center also put more money into educational programs and traveling exhibits than it did in 2015. For many years, this was the center’s focus: It taught lessons on Anne Frank to school children and put on theater performances about her life.

Prior versions of the organization “were doing good work, don’t get me wrong,” Rapaport told me, “but they were doing very little of it.” He and Goldstein hope to expand their educational audience from 3,000 people per year to 300,000. On Monday, the organization is announcing a new campaign to lobby state legislators to make genocide education mandatory in public schools. “We are far more than the organization that knows how to write sound bites on Facebook and Twitter,” Goldstein said.

In other words, it is a tiny organization in the process of reinventing itself. The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect and Understanding may not be a Holocaust organization, a Jewish organization, or one founded by Anne Frank’s father. Its may not have leaders with a scholarly background, a mass membership, or institutional standing among Jewish groups and Holocaust museums. But because it talks a big game and wields the name of Anne Frank, the media has awarded it authority it never earned.

'Our Children Are Dying, Every Day'

  • As governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie used his position to advocate for a revision in the state’s drug policies.
  • On the other side of the ledger, Christie did expand Medicaid to cover the cost of rehab and drug treatment programs and required private insurers to provide up to six months of inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment.
  • But even this is only nibbling around the edges of our opioid epidemic, which really calls for a revolution—a revolution in our thinking about addiction, and our decision to treat it as a crime instead of the illness that it is.
  • Ireland is considering the decriminalization of all drugs for personal use. (Susan Grigsby) / Daily Kos | April 24, 2017, 3:00 am

Open Thread For Night Owls: How To Deal With A Psychopath

  • Here is a picture we are using for no good reason, it just happened to be around and so here we are using it.
  • xAs a student of govt, int'l relations & leadership, I am aghast reading this verbatim transcript.Too much to process— Mark Hertling (@MarkHertling) April 23, 2017
  • Hours later, and apropos of nothing in particular, Time magazine tweeted a link to an October 2016 article by Eric Barker that someone on Time’s weekend shift presumably thought readers would be interested in today: 5 Ways to Deal With a Psychopath.
  • Among the embedded tips culled from a variety of works on the subject: There are many psychopaths out there whose “intelligence, family background, social skills, and circumstances permit them to construct a facade of normality.” Though obsessively narcissistic and devoid of empathy, they are experts at manipulating others by pretending to “share similar qualities.” As managers, they are eager to “create conflicts and rivalries” among those surrounding them for the purpose of “keeping them from sharing information that might uncover [their] deceit.” They tend to “kiss up and kick down”, belittling those with little power while flattering those with power or status they can use. (Hunter) / Daily Kos | April 23, 2017, 11:59 pm

Reporter April Ryan: Trump Administration's Lies Have Put "Onus" On Reporters To "Dig A Bit Deeper"

  • BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Let me turn to the missing aircraft carrier, which was now actually I believe to be on the way to the Korean peninsula.
  • STELTER: Does this mean, April, the next time President Trump says, quote, "We're sending an armada" -- that's what he said to Fox's Maria Bartiromo -- do you have to report that more cautiously, add more caveats, say, "Hey, we can't even confirm this is true?"
  • RYAN: What we will do as White House press people, reporters, we will actually take what the president says and actually go in and find out what the real truth is.
Media Matters for America / Media Matters | April 23, 2017, 10:53 pm

A Photo For Friday: Halfsies


“Halfsies” April 3, 2017 Pike Road, AL

If Trump In The White House Can't Stop Democratic Circular Firing Squads, We Really Are Finished

  • Last Monday, on Chris Matthews’ MSNBC show, the host asked Ossoff: “Are you a moderate or a progressive?
  • Ossoff replied: “I try to stay away from labels, Chris, and focus on the issues.” After the host pressed further for a choice between the two labels, the candidate from Georgia continued:
  • I’m pragmatic, and one of the things that would be refreshing about representing this district is that it is a pragmatic, moderate district, and I would be empowered to take courageous stands in the center on for example, comprehensive immigration reform ... I will ... move to the center to get big things done, whether it’s on immigration or infrastructure or tax reform.
  • It would have been helpful if Sanders had given a better answer, so that we could have avoided the unnecessary distraction of watching members of our coalition divide once again into Bernie and Hillary partisans. (Ian Reifowitz) / Daily Kos | April 23, 2017, 8:58 pm

CNN's Alisyn Camerota: "Roger Ailes Did Sexually Harass Me"

  • STELTER: This week on your program New Day, you said there was harassment at Fox.
  • STELTER: And you said on the air Bill O'Reilly never harassed you, but you didn't say that about Roger Ailes.
  • CAMEROTA: Well, I just went home and I didn't tell anybody at the time because I was embarrassed.
  • STELTER: So that's a different form of cultural rot within an organization -- bullying or emotional harassment.
Media Matters for America / Media Matters | April 23, 2017, 7:52 pm