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Columns
Harrop: Must we 'believe' Juanita Broaddrick? No.

Whenever charges of sexual misconduct shoot through the air, an arrow or three hit Bill Clinton. That’s inevitable, given his history of philandering capped by the notorious Oval Office tryst with Monica Lewinsky.

What was not inevitable, but surprising, is the crush of liberals swallowing whole a fishy story that Clinton raped a woman.

In a New York Times column titled “I Believe Juanita,” Michelle Goldberg writes, “We should look clearly at the credible evidence that Juanita Broaddrick told the truth when she accused Clinton of raping her.”

She goes on to cite no credible evidence. Nor does she point to a source that does.

In The Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan asserts that Broaddrick “very credibly accused” Clinton of a sex crime. Did she? All Flanagan offers is a retelling of Broaddrick’s version of events. That is not enough.

The demand that any woman’s claim of rape be automatically believed can have tragic consequences. How many black men have been lynched on false charges of raping white women?

Make no mistake. Any charge of rape must be seriously investigated. Prosecuting sex crimes does pose a special set of difficulties. It doesn’t follow, however, that the woman’s statement is beyond scrutiny.

We cannot know for sure whether Clinton physically attacked Broaddrick. We do know that independent counsel Ken Starr included her claims in his microscopic investigation of Clinton’s sexual transgressions. His report deemed the findings on the Broaddrick case to be “inconclusive.”

Why would that be? Here are some reasons:

Broaddrick had submitted an affidavit calling her story of sexual assault “untrue.” She later recanted. Appearing on “Dateline” in 1999, Broaddrick couldn’t remember the month of the alleged violent assault.

In “The Hunting of the President,” Joe Conason and Gene Lyons describe the concerns over Broaddrick’s witnesses. Two were sisters enraged that Clinton had commuted the death sentence of their father’s convicted killer. A third was the man with whom Broaddrick was having an affair at the time, a man she later married.

Another woman insisted she had seen her friend’s swollen lip and torn pantyhose the day of the alleged crime. But Broaddrick’s then-husband said he had not noticed an injury. Nor did he recall her telling him about the incident as she said she had.

More surprising than the casual acceptance of a questionable rape charge against Clinton are liberals using the occasion to declare that Clinton should have resigned from the presidency over the Lewinsky affair. Can’t they tell the difference between rape and marital infidelity?

If Democrats want to do a “reckoning” over Clinton’s sexual conduct, they do have material to work with. Few doubt that Clinton behaved at times in a piggish manner. And his conduct with Lewinsky was inappropriate and vulgar.

But Lewinsky has said over and over again that their sexual encounter was totally consensual. The gap in age and power may have been large, but Lewinsky was a college graduate in her 20s.

Again, this is adultery, not rape. By the way, why do so many members of the Clinton hanging party choose to believe Juanita but not Monica?

It’s a total rewriting of history to say that Democrats gave Clinton a pass back then. They were furious. But they saw Starr’s investigation as a politically inspired perjury trap to undo the successful Clinton presidency.

Look, if we are entering a new era in which powerful men pay a price for harassing women or abusing their dignity, that’s great progress. But this pileup on Clinton over a dubious accusation of rape is unseemly. Many of Clinton’s tormenters are getting intellectually sloppy, and that could boomerang on what’s otherwise a good cause.


Letters
Your Views: Tax 'reform' is about ceding more power to corporations

Does anyone really think that giving large corporations millions in tax breaks will suddenly incentivize them to invest in capital or hire more people? If so, Rep. Paul Ryan has a tax plan for you. These corporations are literally swimming in cash now.

The basic theory of supply and demand is clear that the way to create economic growth is to increase demand. Millionaires typically don’t spend their marginal income on goods that create huge demand. People who are living paycheck to paycheck do.

Trust me, corporations will invest and grow their businesses when they see markets grow based on increased consumer demand. By and large, corporations don’t create demand; they respond to it.

If this tax “reform” fraud was really about growing the economy, it would benefit consumers and smaller businesses--the real job creators in our economy. This deceit is about sustaining the control that the top 1 percent has over the direction of our country by giving them millions more so that they can contribute even more to their political patsies. Giving it to the bottom 99 percent would only empower those committed to more progressive change.

MARK S. HAMEL

Town of Fulton


Other_views
Our Views: Should slogan change really be a priority?

For more than three-quarters of a century, Wisconsin’s license plates have been stamped with the “America’s Dairyland” label.

Though drivers now have a host of special plate options, the default since 1940 remains a testament to the state’s dairy industry.

Kurt Bauer, executive director of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, recently questioned the relevance of the slogan. He initially brought up the idea last year in a column run in the WMC publication “Wisconsin Business Voice.”

“Wisconsinites are known as ‘Cheese-heads,’” Bauer wrote. “There is a barn, silo and the phrase ‘America’s Dairyland’ on our license plates. We put a cow, corncob and a wheel of cheese on our state quarter.

“We also put on that quarter our state motto: forward. But is our agricultural-dominated state moving in that direction?”

That may be up for debate, but the dairy industry’s critical role in the state is not.

The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board this summer highlighted the importance of the industry to the Badger State. Findings included:

Dairy contributes $43.4 billion to the state’s economy.

Wisconsin has 9,520 licensed dairy farms and 1.28 million dairy cows.

The state produces 3.17 billion pounds of cheese, accounting for 26.2 percent of the United States total.

Ninety-six percent of dairy farms in Wisconsin are family owned.

From 2006 to 2016, milk production in the state of Wisconsin increased by 28.7 percent, and cheese production by 29.1 percent.

Nevertheless, at the time of this writing state Rep. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha, was seeking co-sponsors for a bill that would call for replacing “America’s Dairyland” on license plates with a slogan culled from a contest among high school students. The 10 best designs would be determined, and the governor would pick a winner from that group.

“I think it will be absolutely fascinating to see how our young people think and how they would like to see us positioned in the state and advertised across the country,” Allen said in a Wisconsin State Journal story.

The Dairy Business Association wrote to state legislators in response to Allen’s proposal. Mike North, DBA president, didn’t mince words in criticizing the effort.

“This legislation ... would discredit our heritage, insult those responsible for one of our state’s most powerful economic sectors and foolishly undermine our state’s brand image,” he wrote.

We lean toward retaining the “America’s Dairyland” message on Wisconsin license plates. It’s patriotic and highly recognizable.

Also, it’s hard to imagine a suitable replacement. “State with a wonderful quality of life, friendly people, strong schools, abundant recreational opportunities and a skilled workforce,” simply wouldn’t fit.

“Wisconsin needs to craft an image that accurately reflects and promotes our high quality of life and economic diversity,” Bauer wrote last year.

That’s hard to do in a few words. Dairy is a critical pillar in Wisconsin’s economy, and it just seems as though this is an attempt to fix something that clearly isn’t broken.

—Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire)


Other_views
Other Views: Baldwin has chance to fix rigged system

Back in 2013, shortly after being sworn in as Wisconsin’s junior senator, Tammy Baldwin delivered a heartfelt speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate saying, “as I’ve traveled the state, Wisconsinites have told me that the powerful and well-connected seem to get to write their own rules.” A letter to two influential members of a tax committee soon followed making the case for creating a tax code “that respects and rewards hard work and not just wealth.”

Now Congress is set to dramatically overhaul the current tax code for the first time since 1986, and we will soon find out if Baldwin meant what she said, or if she plans to let politics get in the way of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rewrite the U.S. tax code to make it fairer, flatter and simpler.

The fact is the tax code pits the least fortunate against the well-connected and takes too much hard-earned money from ordinary Americans struggling to get by. In other words, the opposite of respecting and rewarding hard work.

And that’s just half the story.

Filing our taxes has also become incredibly complex and time consuming. According to some estimates, the U.S. tax code is 4 million words long requiring 6 billion hours of taxpayer time to comply.

No surprise then that the tax compliance industry is booming as the tax code balloons into a monstrosity of words and numbers.

But for those who can afford to hire well-paid lawyers, accountants and lobbyists, the current tax code is a gold mine of tax breaks, loopholes, subsidies and corporate handouts. In fact, there are about 4,000 tax lobbyists working for special interests in Washington, D.C., alone.

This rigged system is hurting ordinary Americans and killing the American Dream. Congress should overcome its partisan divide and take advantage of an opportunity that we haven’t seen in over a generation. The American people deserve a tax system that doesn’t play favorites at their expense.

They should also be able to keep more of their hard-earned money. The framework proposed by leaders in Congress and the Trump Administration would lower rates and provide relief across the board. This is encouraging because we can look to previous times to see what tax cuts mean in real dollars and jobs created. In the five-year period after President Ronald Reagan cut taxes, per-capita disposable income rose by $2,715. And after President George W. Bush cut taxes, the economy added 6.9 million jobs. Every single member of Congress should support this kind of economic growth, regardless of political party.

Of course, it’s never that simple.

Lawmakers can expect fierce opposition to tax reform. Leading the charge will include the army of special interest groups (including the well-paid lawyers, accountants and lobbyists) benefiting from the rigged system. And they have Washington politicians in their pocket who will oppose tax relief, even though the people in the states they represent would all benefit from a simpler, fairer and flatter tax code.

Opportunities to dramatically rewrite the tax code don’t come around very often. Sen. Baldwin and the rest of our congressional delegation need to deliver on their past promises and stand up to corporate cronies and the hundreds of thousands of special-interest groups benefiting from our broken tax system.

Wisconsinites deserve tax relief, and a plan to boost wages, increase competitiveness and grow the economy. A good tax plan will do just that.