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Thursday, August 27, 2015

They love him

by digby

I won't link, but this is from the Stormfront site:

To be fair, some of the commenters said this was ridiculous. So he still has some work to do to convince the actual nazi constituency.

The epidemic we know how to cure

by digby

I wrote about yesterday's horror show and the disease of American gun violence today at Salon:
Chris Hayes featured some alarming statistics on his show last night. He pointed out that despite the fact the US is average among other industrialized countries in virtually every crime and only have 5% of the world’s population, we have had 31% of the mass shootings since 1966.  You don’t have to be an expert to see that the the fact that we lead the world in  civilian gun ownership with 88.8 guns per 100 people  (the next highest is Yemen at 54.8 per 100) has something to do with it.
Our leaders and would-be leaders reacted to this terrible crime in various ways. President Obama, clearly depressed at having to make yet another statement like this, said, “It breaks my heart every time you read or hear about these kinds of incidents.” He then added, “What we know is that the number of people who die from gun-related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism,” which may be the most radical thing he’s said while in office. It’s obviously true, but it’s been taboo to say it.
Jeb Bush very weirdly shrugged his shoulders, signed autographs and smiled for pictures as he impatiently responded to reporters’ questions. Most of the others on the GOP side tweeted condolences and made the expected statements of support for the families and co-workers. 
Bernie Sanders told the Hill,”I am saddened by the senseless deaths of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Jane and I have their families and friends in our thoughts.” Hillary Clinton went even farther, expressing her personal horror at the event and then, as she did after Charleston, gave a very strong statement: 
There is so much evidence that if guns were not so readily available, if we had universal background checks, if we could just put some time out between the person who’s upset because he got fired or the domestic abuse or whatever other motivation may be working on someone who does this, then maybe we could prevent this kind of carnage…We have got to do something about gun violence in America and I will take it on.” 
Unfortunately, even the shock of a man gunning down rooms full of first graders was not enough to get us to face up to our problem. And there’s really one man who bears most of the responsibility for that: the head of the NRA Wayne LaPierre. After the Newtown massacre, most Americans believed it was inconceivable that nothing would be done. There was tremendous momentum to start making some necessary changes. But as a recent PBS Frontline documentary called “Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA” put it, LaPierre would have none of it: 
NARRATOR: His advisers wanted him to lie low, but LaPierre had a very different idea. Expecting trouble, he hired personal security guards, and headed into Washington. 
ROBERT DRAPER, The New York Times Magazine: Without telling anyone, LaPierre himself staged a press conference in Washington, D.C. 
NARRATOR: The media gathered. Many expected a chastened and conciliatory LaPierre. 
ROBERT DRAPER: I think there was an assumption that, surely, he’s going to throw the gun safety advocates, and for that matter the Newtown parents, some kind of bone. 
NARRATOR: But LaPierre had something else in mind. 
WAYNE LaPIERRE: The only way — the only way — to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. 
ED O’KEEFE: And he almost immediately goes right back to what they usually say, which is that the answer to this is more guns. 
WAYNE LaPIERRE: What if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook elementary school last Friday, he’d been confronted by qualified armed security? 
SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, The New York Times: His comments are aimed directly at the gun owners of America, to rile them up, to get them behind the NRA’s no holds barred, never say die, you know, no compromise position. 
WAYNE LaPIERRE: Our children— we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it and exploit it. 
NARRATOR: In Washington, they said the speech was a political disaster. 
PROTESTER: The NRA stop killing our children! 
NARRATOR: In New York City, LaPierre was called the craziest man on earth and a gun nut. But those who know LaPierre say the speech was no miscalculation. 
PAUL BARRETT: This was not off the cuff. He didn’t lose it. This was very thought out. And they decided on a strategy and they executed the strategy. 
JOHN AQUILINO: Because the people that it resonated with gave more money, and this is what you need to do in order to keep that— that tough persona. 
PAUL BARRETT: And we’ve got to send the signal that this is not the time to compromise, that Obama is the enemy, and they want to take your guns away. Yes, it’s too bad about the kids, but we are not going to back down.

And that was that.

Read on.  This is a terrible deadly problem that we know how to solve.  It's not complicated.  Others have solved it.  But we won't.

Marco's ride in the tank

by digby

This is not photoshopped.  It happened at a furniture store in New Hampshire today:

These images hurt when they reinforce a vulnerability. This one could haunt Rubio. It doesn't make him look "youthful and vigorous", it makes him look infantile.

Trump's Achilles heel: Will stories of mob ties and crooked deals sink him?

by Gaius Publius

The Trump phenomenon is taking off and shows every sign of "having wings," to not mix a metaphor. According to this excellent analysis by Lee Drutman, "What Donald Trump gets about the electorate," Trump has found a policy sweet spot with Republican voters (as opposed to the party's money-bought leaders):

As the punditry attempts to make sense of the continued popularity of Donald Trump, the prevailing establishment narrative has been simple: He's an anti-establishment buffoon; he's channeling an angry mood; his moment will pass. But as Ezra Klein argued on Monday, this narrative may be wrong. What if Trump actually represents a sizable electorate that Beltway elites have marginalized?

The data on this is pretty clear. Put simply: While most elite-funded and elite-supported Republicans want to increase immigration and decrease Social Security, a significant number of voters (across both parties) want precisely the opposite — to increase Social Security and decrease immigration. So when Trump speaks out both against immigration and against fellow Republicans who want to cut Social Security, he's speaking out for a lot people.

By my count of National Election Studies (NES) data, 24 percent of the US population holds this position (increase Social Security, decrease immigration). If we add in the folks who want to maintain (not cut) Social Security and decrease immigration, we are now at 40 percent of the total electorate, which I'll call "populist." No wonder folks are flocking to Trump — and to Bernie Sanders, who holds similar positions, though with more emphasis on the expanding Social Security part and less aggression on immigration.

The underlying data is fascinating. A taste — here's how the electorate feels about Social Security:

▪ Increase Social Security benefits: 50.7%
▪ Keep Social Security benefits the same: 43%
▪ Decrease Social Security benefits: 6.2%

And here's how the electorate feels about immigration:

▪ Increase immigration a lot: 4.4%
▪ Increase immigration a little: 9.9%
▪ Leave immigration as is: 42.9%
▪ Decrease immigration a little: 20.5%
▪ Decrease immigration a lot: 22.9%

Add the middle group to the top group on Social Security and you get a whopping 93% of the electorate. Add the middle group to the bottom two groups on immigration and you get a similarly impressive 86%. Trump is simultaneous selling to both of these large groups.

In addition, unlike all of the other top candidates, Trump is his own billionaire, more or less, and the billionaires backing the rest of the candidates hold exactly opposite views — they want to decrease Social Security benefits (to keep taxes low, among other reasons) and increase immigration (to make available the cheapest non-union labor possible). Thus, while all of the other Republican candidates have to mouth words crafted for them by the wealthy who pull their strings — words that hold little appeal for voters, including Republican ones — Trump, who pulls his own strings, can freely offer policies counter to what elite Republicans want.

He's on a roll in the polls, he's a natural crowd favorite for a certain kind of crowd, and he's apparently having a wonderful time. So what's likely to bring him down politically?

David Cay Johnston on Trump and the Mob

Arrogance is unlikely to do it; that may be his strong suit. And as others have argued, his vicious (and expensive) nativism is a feature to Republicans who live at the intersection of extreme economic insecurity and frightened-male racism. Does Donald Trump have an Achilles heel? David Cay Johnston thinks so; he thinks Trump has several in fact.

From a recent National Memo article, Johnston writes:
I have covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years — including breaking the story that in 1990, when he claimed to be worth $3 billion but could not pay interest on loans coming due, his bankers put his net worth at minus $295 million. And so I have closely watched what Trump does and what government documents reveal about his conduct.

Reporters, competing Republican candidates, and voters would learn a lot about Trump if they asked for complete answers to these 21 questions.

So, Mr. Trump… 
There follow his 21 questions. The whole piece reads well — Johnston has a unique gift for making his subject clear — but I want to focus on just a few of them:

▪ Regarding Trump and the mob:
6. Trump Tower is not a steel girder high rise, but 58 stories of concrete.

Why did you use concrete instead of traditional steel girders?

7. Trump Tower was built by S&A Concrete, whose owners were “Fat” Tony Salerno, head of the Genovese crime family, and Paul “Big Paul” Castellano, head of the Gambinos, another well-known crime family.

If you did not know of their ownership, what does that tell voters about your management skills?

8. You later used S&A Concrete on other Manhattan buildings bearing your name.

11. You sent your top lieutenant, lawyer Harvey I. Freeman, to negotiate with Ken Shapiro, the “investment banker” for Nicky Scarfo, the especially vicious killer who was Atlantic City’s mob boss, according to federal prosecutors and the New Jersey State Commission on Investigation.

Since you emphasize your negotiating skills, why didn’t you negotiate yourself?

12. You later paid a Scarfo associate twice the value of a lot, officials determined.

Since you boast that you always negotiate the best prices, why did you pay double the value of this real estate?

13. You were the first person recommended for a casino license by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Gaming Enforcement, which opposed all other applicants or was neutral. Later it came out in official proceedings that you had persuaded the state to limit its investigation of your background.

Why did you ask that the investigation into your background be limited?
▪ On Trump and crooked deals:
1. You call yourself an “ardent philanthropist,” but have not donated a dollar to The Donald J. Trump Foundation since 2006. You’re not even the biggest donor to the foundation, having given about $3.7 million in the previous two decades while businesses associated with Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment gave the Trump Foundation $5 million. All the money since 2006 has come from those doing business with you.

How does giving away other people’s money, in what could be seen as a kickback scheme, make you a philanthropist?

2. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman successfully sued you, alleging your Trump University was an “illegal educational institution” that charged up to $35,000 for “Trump Elite” mentorships promising personal advice from you, but you never showed up and your “special” list of lenders was photocopied from Scotsman Guide, a magazine found at any bookstore.

Why did you not show up?
9. In demolishing the Bonwit Teller building to make way for Trump Tower, you had no labor troubles, even though only about 15 unionists worked at the site alongside 150 Polish men, most of whom entered the country illegally, lacked hard hats, and slept on the site.

How did you manage to avoid labor troubles, like picketing and strikes, and job safety inspections while using mostly non-union labor at a union worksite — without hard hats for the Polish workers?

10. A federal judge later found you conspired to cheat both the Polish workers, who were paid less than $5 an hour cash with no benefits, and the union health and welfare fund. You testified that you did not notice the Polish workers, whom the judge noted were easy to spot because they were the only ones on the work site without hard hats.

What should voters make of your failure or inability to notice 150 men demolishing a multi-story building without hard hats?
About that last, it's not the hard hats; it's the illegal Polish workers and his lack of "labor troubles" at the site. What kind of deal do you have to cut, and whom do you have to cut it with, to fly that low under the construction radar?

▪ Regarding his gaming licenses:
13. You were the first person recommended for a casino license by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Gaming Enforcement, which opposed all other applicants or was neutral. Later it came out in official proceedings that you had persuaded the state to limit its investigation of your background.

Why did you ask that the investigation into your background be limited?

14. You were the target of a 1979 bribery investigation. No charges were filed, but New Jersey law mandates denial of a license to anyone omitting any salient fact from their casino application.

Why did you omit the 1979 bribery investigation?
David Cay Johnston is not alone in asking these questions.

CNN on Donald Trump and the Mob

A simple Web search on "trump mafia new jersey" produces a number of links, including this one, from CNN:

Donald Trump and the mob

Chris Frates, CNN Investigative Correspondent
Updated 12:37 PM ET, Fri July 31, 2015

Donald Trump's glittering empire of New York skyscrapers and Atlantic City casinos have long had a darker side, allegations that the mob helped build them.

Trump's alleged ties to New York and Philadelphia crime families go back decades and have been recounted in a book, newspapers and government records.

"The mob connections of Donald are extraordinarily extensive," New York investigative journalist Wayne Barrett told CNN in an interview.

Barrett, the author of the 1992 unauthorized biography "Trump: The Deals and the Downfall," wrote that Trump's life "intertwines with the underworld."...

In a recent Federalist article, David Marcus writes that Trump bought the property that his Atlantic City casino Trump Plaza would one day occupy -- for twice market price -- from Salvatore Testa, a Philly mobster and son of one-time Philly mob boss Philip "Chicken Man" Testa. (Springsteen fans might recognize the elder Testa from the opening lines of the song, Atlantic City.)

In his book, Barrett writes that Testa and a partner, who together headed a Philly mafia hit-squad called the Young Executioners, bought the property for "a scant $195,000" in 1977. In 1982, Trump paid $1.1 million for it.

"The $220 per square foot that Trump paid for the Testa property was the second most expensive purchase he made on the block, even though it was one of the first parcels he bought," Barrett wrote.

The casino was built with the help of two construction companies controlled by Philly mobsters Nicademo "Little Nicky" Scarfo and his nephew Phillip "Crazy Phil" Leonetti, according to, as Marcus notes, a New Jersey state commission's 1986 report on organized crime.

Trump also had a decade-long relationship with Scarfo's investment banker, according to Barrett's book. ...

There's much more in this article, and there are more articles.

What's the Next Move?

For those who call the shots in the Republican Party, what's the next move? They may or may not want to allow Trump to be their nominee, but they certainly won't let him run third-party. (I'm guessing the former won't be permitted and the latter will get Trump "an offer he can't refuse," but that's just me.)

So what do they do, these party bosses and owners, these Kochs and Friesses and Adelsons? Do they wait for Trump fever to die down (to mix a metaphor begun at the top of this page) and risk it growing stronger instead? Or do they make a move?

If it were me and I wanted him gone, I'd make the move and soon. There seems to be plenty to work with, to use for both behind-the-scene threats and for on-camera deep-fat frying. Would even the party's economically insecure racists follow Trump all the way to mobtown, or would they abandon him at the border? What's a bridge too far for Trump supporters? Whatever the answer, this may be the party's strongest move, short of a "friendly" DA filing a RICO indictment.

If I'm right — if big-money Republicans, those backing all other candidates, want to make him gone; and if they're willing to destroy Trump economically and as a brand to do it — this fall's Republican story will be even more interesting than what we've seen already. Republican oppo research is relentless, and Republican tactics seem to have little short of murder as an upper bound. R-on-R violence is violent indeed.

Of course, those are two big ifs in the paragraph above. Ann Coulter, for example, wants to see Trump nominated. How many in that small group of Republicans in a position to decide actually share her view? I think we're about to find out.

Springsteen's "Atlantic City." As noted in the article, Mob boss Philip "Chicken Man" Testa is mentioned (as "Chicken Man") in the first line of the song.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)



"Something's come dreadfully loose in the country"

by Tom Sullivan

The usually jocular Charlie Pierce appeared shaken last night on Chris Hayes' show when he spoke about the on-air shootings yesterday in Virginia. He came packing the truth. "Something's come dreadfully loose in the country right now," Pierce said, glancing at the floor. "A lot of stuff that was in the kind of foul tributaries of American life has made it into the mainstream."

Pierce wrote earlier about the shooting at Esquire:

A news crew, doing a completely ordinary happy-face morning feature at a mall get blown away on camera. If this had happened in Somalia, we'd have a lot of earnest talk about the dangers of a failed society. If it had happened in Syria, Lindsey Graham might liquefy entirely and disappear in a rush down a storm drain. But it happened here, in the exceptional home of American exceptionalism, so, once again, we will be told that Alison Parker and Adam Ward are merely more of the price we pay for the exceptional exceptionalism of a free society.

The killings of a reporter and cameraman as they covered a "happy-face" news story brought gun violence perilously close for both Hayes and Pierce. Pierce was blunt about it:

"It is worrisome to be out on the campaign trail now. It is not terrifying. It's nothing like following a rifle platoon into the Hindu Kush or something, but there's something unsettling and something that's come loose in the body politic. And, frankly, I'm worried about it."

We are a country now where more money equals more speech for the elite, and more guns equals more freedom for the rest, and murderers post their snuff films on social media. (Next time it will be streamed live.*) What's to worry about?

Somewhere in the flood of post-September 11 articles about how the attacks happened, what we would do next, and why terrorists hate us, one writer asked, Would America keep its head? Uh, no. Except the country's post-September 11 temporary insanity seems, like untreated depression, to have settled in and taken a "set." The governor on the engine has broken. No, that's not right. It has been sabotaged. Now it is racing out of control. Or at least, that's how it feels.

Futurist Sara Robinson periodically reassesses the country's drift towards the abyss. With daily mass shootings, with Donald Trump threatening to round up and deport millions, and with his "passionate" followers beating the homeless, calling for "white power," and demanding that Latino citizens "Get out of my country," it might be time to re-check the cultural doomsday clock and see how many minutes it is to midnight.

* when Howard Cosell went live to cover the assassination of "El Presidente," it was in Woody Allen's fictional banana republic.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

QOTD: Jeb!

by digby

"This guy is now the front-runner. He should be held to account just like me. He should be asked — as he was yesterday — how are you going to pay for it? Why do you think this is not going to be — prove to me that it's not impractical. Explain to me how you're going to stop all the remittances without violating peoples' civil liberty...

Go through these questions and what you'll find is that this guy doesn't have a plan. He's appealing to peoples' angst and their anger."

These are all good questions. And he does have a plan: tell the police to round up all the "illegals" and dump them in Mexico. Like Operation Wetback.  And yes a bunch of Americans will get caught up in it but we'll deport first and sort out any paperwork problems later.

God knows Trump supporters don't want to hear about the civil liberties of Mexicans. And they sure don't agree with this:

"I want to solve problems so that we can fix this and turn immigration into what it's always been: An economic driver for our country."

In their minds immigration is a job stealing, culture destroying threat to all they hold dear. Hasn't he been listening?


Torturing the agitators

by digby

That poster depicts the forced feeding of suffragists who were jailed for agitating for the right to vote.

Alice Paul led the more radical wing of those who were working for women's suffrage in 1917. Paul had taken part in more militant suffrage activity in England, including hunger strikes that were met with imprisonment and brutal force-feeding methods. She believed that by bringing such militant tactics to America, the public's sympathy would be turned towards those who protested for woman suffrage, and the vote for women would be won, finally, after seven decades of activism.

And so, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and others separated in America from the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), headed by Carrie Chapman Catt, and formed the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU) which in 1917 transformed itself into the National Woman's Party (NWP).

While many of the activists in the NAWSA turned during World War I either to pacifism or to support of America's war effort, the National Woman's Party continued to focus on winning the vote for women.

During wartime, they planned and carried out a campaign to picket the White House in Washington, DC. The reaction was, as in Britain, strong and swift: arrest of the picketers and their imprisonment. Some were transferred to an abandoned workhouse located at Occoquan, Virginia. There, the women staged hunger strikes, and, as in Britain, were force-fed brutally and otherwise treated violently.

I've referred to this part of woman suffrage history in other articles, notably when describing the history of the suffragist split over strategy in the last decade of activism before the vote was finally won.

Feminist Sonia Pressman Fuentes documents this history in her article on Alice Paul. She includes this re-telling of the story of Occoquan Workhouse's "Night of Terror," November 15, 1917:

Under orders from W. H. Whittaker, superintendent of the Occoquan Workhouse, as many as forty guards with clubs went on a rampage, brutalizing thirty-three jailed suffragists. They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head, and left her there for the night. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed, and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate Alice Cosu, who believed Mrs. Lewis to be dead, suffered a heart attack. According to affidavits, other women were grabbed, dragged, beaten, choked, slammed, pinched, twisted, and kicked.

After the 1920 victory for women's right to vote, Paul became involved in the campaign to introduce and pass an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). It only took 50 years and in 1970 it was sent to the states to ratify. However, the required number of states required didn't ratify within the time limit and the Amendment failed.

I remember back in the dark ages handing out leaflets for the ERA when I was a teen-ager and being told that it was a very bad thing because women would be forced to urinate in front of strange men. Or something.

Anyway, today is the 95th anniversary of the day women finally got the right to vote. Maybe in another 95 years we'll have more than 20% representation in the government. Maybe even a woman president, who knows? No hurry, though. These things take time. A very long time.


Who cares about guns?

by digby

I keep hearing from various folks that Clinton is an inauthentic, cold, emotionless, calculating robot who is hardly even a human being much less a person to whom a normal American could relate. She doesn't seem any "colder" than Obama to me, but then that's usually seen as "coolness" in his case and is widely considered an asset so I guess it really  is a matter of perspective.  Whatever. I don't know about her deepest emotions (or any politician's)  and frankly I don't give a damn.

But it does seem to me that she is serious about taking on the gun issue, which I think is important. Her comments today were about the shooting in Virginia were quite emphatic:

On the right we've got Limbaugh saying that journalists should be packing heat. Not kidding.
"You can't endorse me, but I want you to know that I endorse you"

by digby

This piece at TPM is a very helpful reminder about the origins of the Christian Right:
On August 22, 1980, a massive National Affairs Briefing organized by preacher James Robison brought 15,000 evangelicals to Dallas to demonstrate their newfound political clout. Robison, who had been forced off the airwaves after he claimed that gays recruit children for sex, announced that day, “I’m sick and tired of hearing about all of the radicals and the perverts and the liberals and the leftists and the Communists coming out of the closet. It’s time for God’s people to come out of the closet.”

The next speaker was Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan, who told the crowd, “I know you can’t endorse me. But...I want you to know that I endorse you.”
Also a reminder of the fact that the right has been speaking in these derogatory terms about their political enemies forever. Reagan may have been the "cheerful" upbeat conservative but the people who elected him were angry about everything. Aren't they always?

There's lots more at the link, including this:
The Christian Right changed how we talked about race. The Christian Right emerged from school desegregation—and forged a movement around taxes and religious freedom. In 1978, the Internal Revenue Service sought to revoke tax exemptions for schools formed as white-flight havens from the public schools. The backlash was overwhelming. The IRS received more than a quarter of a million letters against the proposed rules. Congressional hearings reframed the issue from an attack on segregation to an attack on religion by meddlesome bureaucrats. As Newt Gingrich, then a freshman representative, explained, “The IRS should collect taxes—not enforce social policy.”

Early in 1979, Jerry Falwell formed Moral Majority, the premier organization for the new Christian Right. Falwell ran a segregated academy that would almost certainly have run afoul of the IRS guidelines. In 1967, the same year the local public schools desegregated, Lynchburg Christian Academy opened its doors. As of the fall of 1979, it had an all-white faculty, and only five African-Americans among the 1,147 students.

In August 1979, Congress inserted riders into the appropriations bill for the Treasury Department to prevent the IRS from implementing the proposed regulations. A fight over desegregation had galvanized white evangelicals to oppose meddlesome bureaucrats, and the movement was born.

It made abortion a partisan issue. The Christian Right made opposition to abortion—which until the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973 had been a Catholic issue—into an evangelical and Republican cause. The Bible’s text says nothing about abortion per se. Even W. A. Criswell, known as the “Baptist Pope,” initially praised Roe. “It was only after a child was born and had life separate from its mother,” he argued, “that it became an actual person.” Until the mid-1980s, Republicans in the electorate favored fewer restrictions on abortion than did Democrats; in Congress, partisan divides between pro-choice and pro-life votes grew threefold in the two decades after Roe.

The Christian Right found in abortion an issue to bind evangelicals together with conservative Catholics under the Republican banner. Paul Weyrich, a founder of the Heritage Foundation and a deacon in the Eastern Rite Catholic Melkite church, first grasped that a new conservative majority to supplant the teetering New Deal coalition would need white evangelicals—and that opposition to abortion could unite conservative Christians. So Weyrich recruited leading white evangelical ministers to politics, and even coined the term Moral Majority.

And if you want to know who's working this constituency the best in 2016, read my piece in Salon today.  The Dark Horse is very dark indeed.

Round 'em all up!

by digby

I have been wondering whether any Trump followers gave a damn whether or not an immigrant is in the country legally or even if they are a citizen and I think we've answered that question.

Univision later posted video of what happened after Ramos was escorted into the hall by security: A Trump supporter confronted him and said, "You were very rude. It's not about you.  Get out of my country.
Ramos noted that he's a U.S. citizen and the man responded, "Well, whatever. No, Univision, no. It's not about you."

"It's not about you. It's about the United States," Ramos replied.

I just love that a Trump supporter is complaining about "rudeness." How politically correct of him.

Of course it doesn't help that a bunch of sycophantic Washington reporters are wringing their hands over Ramos' dogged questioning of Donald Trump's plan to deport millions of Latinos "so fast your head will spin" --- by letting the police take the gloves off. You see they're worried that Ramos looks "biased" for actually trying to pin down a racist demagogue about how he plans to round up all his relatives and that reflects badly on them. I'm not exaggerating.

These elite journalists would have been checking their hair in the mirror while the black-shirted thugs beat people right in front of them.

Greenwald has written all about this embarrassing journalistic episode. It's just so --- predictable.

Danger on the job

by digby

Amanda Marcotte wrote about Megyn Kelly, Trump and the sexism that Fox sells every day:

Donald Trump has reignited his sexist harassment campaign against Megyn Kelly, and the folks at Fox News are, in seemingly coordinated fashion, striking back. Fellow Fox News hosts and pundits are asking Trump to cool it, and even Roger Ailes has released a statement calling Trump’s abuse “unacceptable” and “disturbing." It’s almost touching, watching all these conservative media people who usually profit at peddling sexism choose, this time at least, to join together in an effort to stop this one particular instance of it.

It’s also going to backfire.

Conservative media and Fox News in particular have spent years - decades, if you count talk radio - training their audiences to believe that exhortations against sexism and racism are nothing but the “political correctness” police trying to kill your good time. Indeed, one reason that Trump was able to get so much attention for his presidential run in the first place is that Fox has spent years building him up, knowing that their audience enjoys vicariously needling imagined liberals and feminists with his loud-mouthed insult comic act.

As Jill Filipovic as Cosmopolitan recently explained in a feature piece about the conservative website Twitchy, there are entire sectors of the conservative media dedicated to getting the audiences to spend all day and night trying to piss off liberals, believing themselves to be courageous freedom fighters against the P.C. police. Women, in particular, are favorite targets. There’s apparently no getting tired of the pleasure of feeling naughty because you say mean things about women and racial minorities for conservative audiences.

Indeed they are.

As we've seen today, they are often literally targets as well. The Virginia shooter seems to have had animus toward both victims, but he did reportedly say "bitch" under his breath as he aimed. So sick. And then he took to twitter to whine and brag about it.

The statistics about work related gun violence are alarming in this regard:

About 4 out of every 5 workplace homicide victims in 2010 were men. The type of assailants in these cases differed, depending on whether the victim was a man or a woman. Robbers and other assailants accounted for 72 percent of homicides to men, for example, and only 37 percent of homicides to women. A substantial difference exists when relatives and other personal acquaintances are the assailants: only 3 percent of homicides to men, but 39 percent to women.

Not that being mean to Megyn Kelly even remotely equals this horrific event today. But you can't help but notice that Trump seems to have a particular problem with her behavior in the debate when neither Brett Baier or Chris Wallace were exactly easy on him. Some people develop a particular angry fixation on women they believe have disrespected them. And sometimes they take lethal action.

Update: Oh man

A man claiming to be Bryce Williams called ABC News over the last few weeks, saying he wanted to pitch a story, and wanted to fax information. He never told ABC News what the story was. This morning, a fax was in the machine (time stamped 8:26 a.m.) almost two hours after the shooting. A little after 10 a.m., he called again, and introduced himself as Bryce, but also said his legal name was Vester Lee Flanagan, and that he shot two people this morning. While on the phone, he said authorities are “after me,” and “all over the place.” He hung up. ABC News contacted the authorities immediately and provided them with the fax.

In the 23-page document faxed to ABC News, the writer says “MY NAME IS BRYCE WILLIAMS” and his legal name is Vester Lee Flanagan II” He writes what triggered today’s carnage was his reaction to the racism of the Charleston church shooting:

“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…”

“What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them."

It is unclear whose initials he is referring to. He continues, “As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” He said Jehovah spoke to him, telling him to act.

Later in the manifesto, the writer quotes the Virginia Tech mass killer, Seung Hui Cho, and calls him “his boy,” and expresses admiration for the Columbine High School killers. “Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got…just sayin’.

In an often rambling letter to the authorities, and family and friends, he writes of a long list of grievances. In one part of the document, Williams calls it a “Suicide Note for Friends and Family”.

--He says has suffered racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying at work. --He says he has been attacked by black men and white females. --He talks about how he was attacked for being a gay, black man

“Yes, it will sound like I am angry...I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace....”

“The church shooting was the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily...I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!!”.

Exceptionalism in full effect

by digby

In the wake of a shooting like the one this morning in which a reporter and her cameraman were shot and killed live on the air, we re not allowed to talk about gun violence because it's considered inappropriate by all the people who profess to hate political correctness so much.

So, I'll just draw your attention to this and say nothing:


"Clinton's the One We Want to Run Against ... We love Hillary ... I want Donald Trump running against Hillary"

by Gaius Publius

As the video below makes clear, Ann Coulter wants a Donald Trump–Hillary Clinton contest in the general election and fears a Bernie Sanders matchup:

Ann Coulter on Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and whom she'd rather run against (h/t Justin Lane at the Ring of Fire Radio site)

Since she's speaking with Lou Dobbs in the friendly confines of Fox News, I take her as sincere, not blowing smoke. The key quote:

I wish Fox News would go a little easier on Hillary Clinton. She’s the one we want to run against. ... Our next president could be Bernie Sanders if you people keep this up. ... We love Hillary ... I want Donald Trump running against Hillary.

This, combined with digby's recent observation that some Democratic movers and shakers may be getting nervous about a Clinton candidacy, raises again the question about whether Democrats would rather lose with an insider-friendly candidate than win with someone who wants to dismantle — or at least seriously modify — the insider-controlled DC game.

To be fair, I take digby's point to be that even among Dem circles, the Clintons are seen and treated differently than most mainstream Democrats; thus the temporary "Biden boomlet" as she calls it. Still, she sees as I do that the real competition for Clinton is Sanders, not Biden or anyone like him (my emphasis):
But going back to the 90s the Democratic elite have always been ready to abandon Clinton at the first sign of trouble. The pseudo-scandals turn them into nervous nellies every single time.

Do I think it will make a difference? No. If Clinton has a real rival it's Sanders, who has captured the imagination of the large liberal faction of the Party. Biden could jump in and it would be a thrilling story for the media, but having the support of a bunch of rich guys and timorous political types won't get the job done.
So let's go back to Coulter's point. If she and at least some others in Republican circles prefer not to run against Sanders, why is that?

What Bernie Sanders Offers Voters

Bernie Sanders offers voters what Donald Trump offers — he agrees with them on the issues, unlike the "deciders" in both parties. Thom Hartmann (my emphasis):

Why Republicans Vote for Bernie

... You won't hear me say this often, but Ann Coulter is right.

If Bernie Sanders ends up being the Democratic nominee for president, and it looks more and more every day like he will be, his Republican opponent is going to have a very hard time beating him.

And that's because of all the Democratic candidates running, Bernie Sanders has the best chance of capturing Republican votes.

While Americans disagree on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, they're actually pretty unified on the bread and butter economic issues that Bernie has made the core of his campaign.

In fact, a recent poll by the Progressive Change Institute, shows that Americans overwhelmingly agree with Bernie on key issues like education, health care and the economy.

Like Bernie, 75 percent of Americans poll support fair trade that "protects workers, the environment and jobs."

Seventy-one percent support giving all students access to a debt-free college education.

Seventy-one percent support a massive infrastructure spending program aimed at rebuilding our broken roads and bridges, and putting people back to work.

Seventy percent support expanding Social Security.

Fifty-nine percent support raising taxes on the wealthy so that millionaires pay the same amount in taxes as they did during the Reagan administration.

Fifty-eight percent support breaking up the big banks.

Fifty-five percent support a financial transaction or Robin Hood tax.

Fifty-one percent support single payer health care, and so and so on.

Pretty impressive, right?

And here's the thing - supporting Social Security, free college, breaking up the big banks, aren't "progressive" policies, they're just common sense, and 60 years ago they would have put Bernie Sanders smack dab in the mainstream of my father's Republican Party.

This is why Ann Coulter is so scared of Bernie becoming the Democratic nominee.

I've been in a number of discussions with progressive activists about Clinton's electability. The contention is that with very strong support from women, Clinton's electoral advantage over Sanders is considerable. As digby wrote in Salon:
It’s worth noting, however, that in the latest Fox poll, Clinton leads Sanders by 6 points among Democratic men and a staggering 44 points among Democratic women. That’s not enough to win the general election, but it’s a fairly good indication that for a large number of Democrats, this “first” is worth the risk.
That's one case that can be made.

The contrary case is that Hillary Clinton's increasingly obvious "friend of money" status will depress Democratic turnout overall, the way that turnout was depressed in 2014 when voters were offered a field of predominately "mainstream" (insider, friend-of-money) candidates. They voted for progressive ballot measures (marijuana reform and minimum wage measures, for example), yet voted against Beltway-blessed, Wall Street–friendly Democrats who favored them.

It seems every day I see a new piece like this:

Or this:

Hillary Clinton Has Hired a Former Keystone Pipeline Lobbyist

Hillary Clinton has hired a former lobbyist for the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, further upsetting environmentalists who have long been wary of her commitment to fighting climate change.

BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith reported on Wednesday that the Clinton campaign has hired Jeffrey Berman as a campaign consultant. Berman, who began working for the campaign earlier this month, once lobbied on behalf of TransCanada, the company that hopes to build a pipeline carrying tar sands oil from Canada to the southern coast of the U.S.

R.L. Miller of Climate Hawks Vote said Berman's hiring "is a disappointment—especially as Martin O'Malley is taking flight based on the best climate plan I've seen from a candidate, and Bernie Sanders continues to soar."

Has this information percolated down to low-interest voters? Likely not in the details. But the narrative has been set for a while, new stories keep coming, and "Hillary Clinton, friend of Wall Street" is not going to inspire much loyalty among any but the big-money set.

Even Joe Biden, the "senator from MBNA," is now having "Clinton, friend-of-money" fears:
It's not just Hillary Clinton's trouble shaking criticism over her use of a private email account while secretary of state that he's watching. Biden has also expressed concerns in conversations with fellow Democrats that Clinton won't be able to effectively push issues like economic inequality, owing to her time at the Clinton foundation and the paid speeches she's given since leaving the State Department.
Could Ann Coulter could be right? If Sanders gets a chance in the primary to make his case to voters, and isn't defeated ahead of time by money-friendly party insiders, we may find out. (If you like, you can help him here; adjust the split any way you wish at the link.)

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)



Biden time, or what?

by Tom Sullivan

Speculation in the press about a Biden run for president caught fire after Vice President Joe Biden met with Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Saturday. But Politico reports that Biden will not attend this week's Democratic National Committee meeting in Minneapolis. That should dampen the speculation unless Biden turns up by surprise. All the major Democratic contenders are expected.

If Biden decides to run, writes Michael Tomasky, the Warren meeting was brilliant press. But things could get ugly fast. The Obama-Clinton primary fight of 2008 was ugly enough. In the end, Tomasky believes, "Obama had the larger and more morally urgent historical claim to make in the minds of most Democrats and liberals. The woman would have to wait, as women so often do." Making women wait again while yet another white guy takes the White House could be a gut punch to women who believe it's now Clinton's turn. Whatever their policy differences with Clinton, too many of the male persuasion on the left don't seem to appreciate that. Remember the PUMAs?

The Washington Post offers several more reasons why a Biden run would be risky for his legacy. Also, as pretty much everyone observes, it is pretty late in the game for Biden to get in, unless he is positioning himself, as Tomasky suggests, to be the contingency candidate should Clinton succumb to some new "scandal," as she never has before.

There is a wide-open city council race where I live, in a town where Democrats dominate. The question I ask myself about every candidate is: What does this lefty bring to city council that we don't already have? As the panel last night on All In with Chris Hayes noted, that's really the question to answer about a Joe Biden race for president. There's really nowhere for Biden to go in this field. Where's his opening?

But the speculation about a Biden-Warren ticket seems outlandish. Warren has already declined a draft movement herself and seems convinced that she will have more clout over a longer term right where she stays in the Senate. Being President of the Senate would take Warren out of the main action. And as NPR reminds us, Biden's past support for the credit card and banking industries might not make Biden her first choice to champion her issues. Bernie Sanders is already doing a good job of moving the needle on those, even if mostly with the progressive base so far.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What the meaning of "illegal" is

by digby

I keep hearing Trump go on and on about "getting all the bad people out" and he's not always explicit that these are "bad" undocumented workers. In fact, when he's talking about the gang members he plans to deport it's not at all clear that he's talking about non-citizens.

I tweeted about this and got this interesting response:

If you watch that video for a few minutes you'll see that he claims the 9/11 hijackers were all in the country illegally and that hordes of middle eastern psychos were coming over the border all the time.

The 9/11 hijackers were not in the country illegally. They had legitimate visas, although in fairness, Trump isn't the only one lying/mistaken on this count. This is a very creepy "misunderstanding" in that it suggest people think that forein=gners in the country on visas are not actually legal.

The point is that I think someone needs to ask The Donald and, by extension, his slavering followers, what they consider to be an "illegal alien" and how they would go about deciding who is and isn't one. Trump often sounds like he just wants to round up people he thinks are "bad" and deport them "so fast it will make your head spin" and I'm not sure he's too picky about the paperwork.

"Go back to Univision!!"

by digby

So, Trump had Jorge Ramos escorted out of his press conference and said "go back to Univision!" Not kidding.

He let him back in and Ramos asked for specifics about his immigration plan and Trump said he'd go and get all the illegal gang members in Ferguson and they'd be out of here so fast your head would spin because he knows how to manage. Then he told Ramos that "the Hispanics" love him.

Reporters there acted like potted plants.

Here's Reince Preibus on Trump's contribution to the race. I think that's working out well.

"Dear President Carter, Thank You"

by Gaius Publius

I've taken President Carter to task from time to time — as "proto-neoliberal" for his embrace of deregulation; for his policies regarding East Timor — but there's no questioning the good he's done as well, and continues to do.

I've read no more moving tribute to President Carter than this one, by film-maker Angela Combs. Part of its strength is in the writing itself, part in the ways her early struggles were influenced by Carter's example, and part by the reminders of what Carter himself did — and had not Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and William Casey sabotaged their own government — what he would have continued to do as president in 1981.

Consider — Would we still be drowning in oil, and burning because of it, if Carter's re-election had not been sabotaged by Reagan and his team?
"There is something I want to tell you," [PLO leader Yasser] Arafat said, addressing [President] Carter at a meeting in Arafat's bunker in Gaza City in the presence of historian Douglas Brinkley. "You should know that in 1980 the Republicans approached me with an arms deal [for the PLO] if I could arrange to keep the hostages in Iran until after the [U.S. presidential] election."
But that was then, and this is about Carter, and not about the second Republican president in a row to knee-cap the country to gain his office.

Angela Combs, writing at Huffington Post, begins her tribute like this:

A few years ago, a dear friend left us too soon after succumbing to cancer. I resisted articulating my love and admiration to her as I witnessed an unseemly parade of tearful remembrances at her bedside. I know now that it was a mistake not to have found a way to convey to her how her art and being had influenced and inspired me. Recent news of your diagnosis, Mr. President, has reminded me of those regrets, so now I want to send my good wishes for your health, and tell you how much you have inspired and guided me. I cannot possibly convey the entire story in a thousand words, but here is one tiny thread.

A young girl whose family had fled post-war Vietnam was placed in my class in middle school. We called her "Grace" and she did not speak any English at first and kept to herself. For years I had seen the pictures of war and bloodshed behind the glass windows of newspaper vending machines on my walk to school, and my teachers discussed the conflict with us in class. I had a vague intellectual sense of war but I was living in my own desperate circumstances with my parents divorcing and struggling for employment. Stress and violence were routine in my home and we survived on food stamps; but meeting Grace at my local public school put the war into perspective.

The horrors she must have seen I did not know or understand, until one day she smiled at me and I discovered that the flashes of dark gray in her mouth were not the braces I had assumed, but in fact were her teeth, rotted black. I soon learned of Grace's family, who for most of her life had hidden, run and starved before attempting their escape on a raft by sea. She later told me that they all believed their raft would carry them to a watery grave, and yet they gladly climbed aboard, so desperate were they for peace. When your policies made it possible for the émigrés of that bloody war to seek refuge on our soil, I understood.

Combs too remembers the call to use less oil:

When you asked Americans to do uncomfortable things in sacrifice for future generations, I listened. You weren't talking about bravery of the kind that Grace's family had exhibited; your call was to sacrifice comfort by consuming less oil. You said that we could move forward by preserving rather than destroying. ... You said the answer to our socio-economic and humanitarian woes was not in plundering the earth, but in protecting it. You made us brothers and sisters in the same uncertain boat of humanity.

"... not in plundering the earth, but in protecting it." Ronald Reagan, of course, stood for just the opposite, for the gospel of the new, anti-hippie era. He has much to answer for, Mr. Reagan, this burning world for one.

It should not be underestimated how one life touches another. This is where Combs' personal story intersects with Carter's call to value others. A part of that intersection:

I returned to college in 1993, as a newly divorced single mother, raising my children in Los Angeles after being accepted to UCLA. I went to school on loans and grants and had no choice but to ignore the naysayers with their xenophobic whisperings against the dangers of sending my children to Los Angeles Public Schools. I was told the schools were undesirable and that I could fudge my address to get my kids into a "better" district. But I knew full well that what LAUSD offered could not be taught in a history book and that my children would have the privilege of developing friendships with people of all colors and creeds, and learning from the inspired teachers who made it their life's work to serve the most underserved. ...

My oldest son is a progressive organizer who works for the AFT, because he believes that public school is the only place where our nation's children can come together in such diversity and empathy under the educational leadership of dedicated professionals (who would suffer the abuse and scorn of an ungrateful nation). My daughter, an artist and arts educator, recently said to me "I can no longer participate in the slave labor clothing market" and vowed that she would only buy clothing that was produced humanely. This is a sacrifice for her (a college educated young woman who makes barely more than minimum wage) to pay much higher prices for the sake of others. My youngest son studied sociology at American University and once called me, lamenting the political mucking of the word "feminist" because he could not understand how equity could be a controversial notion.

The close, which begins this way, summarizes the intersection perfectly:

When I had no safety at home, when food was scarce and my life seemed impossibly violent and out of control, you became President. You instilled a belief in me that moral leadership will win. ...

Please do read the rest. It's just a thousand words, and one of the best tributes I've seen to the good one person can do.


Why they love him

by digby

Frank Luntz's legs are shaking:

Luntz conducted a focus group of 29 people from Washington, D.C. and its suburbs that either like or adore the GOP front-runner, paying each participant for the more than two-hour session Monday night, the magazine reported.

“I used to sleep on my front porch with the door wide open, and now everyone has deadbolts,” one man said during the session, according to TIME. “I believe the best days of the country are behind us.”

“I’m frustrated beyond belief. I feel like I’ve been lied to,” a woman said. “Nothing’s getting better.”

“We know his goal is to make America great again,” another woman said. “It’s on his hat. And we see it every time it’s on TV. Everything that he’s doing, there’s no doubt why he’s doing it: it’s to make America great again.”

After the group watched recordings of Trump's political flip flops and remarks on women, the individuals reportedly said they liked Trump even more.

“You guys understand how significant this is?” Luntz asked reporters, according to TIME. “This is real. I’m having trouble processing it. Like, my legs are shaking.”

“I want to put the Republican leadership behind this mirror and let them see. They need to wake up. They don’t realize how the grassroots have abandoned them,” Luntz continued. “Donald Trump is punishment to a Republican elite that wasn’t listening to their grassroots.”
TIME reported that most people in the room Monday night are angry about national security, including the nation's porous southern border with Mexico, and complained about the U.S. falling behind in the world.

People in the room also panned Congress. But when asked to describe Trump, they used words such as "tough," "successful," "has guts" and "kicks ass and takes names.

I've been saying for some time that the issue matrix Republican voters care about right now is national security, immigration and American Exceptionalism. Trump is delivering nationalism, nativism and chauvinism in response and they like it. The Republicans have long been pointing them away from the real reasons for the loss of their status and their economic insecurity by scapegoating foreigners, liberals, African Americans, immigrants etc. The Donald synthesizes all of it into someone who has come out on top. He's a winner.


Trump is your average Fox viewer

by digby

An awful lot of people don't care to admit that they might be a little bit sexist. Liberals have made some strides in raising their consciousness about racism but many still seem to be happily unaware that many of their assumptions and stereotypes are derogatory and demeaning toward women. It's always a surprise to me when I see this among otherwise enlightened people but it's a primal attitude that runs so deeply I guess it will take a very long time to bring it all to the surface.

But my God, as frustrating as that is  --- you'd think this sort of thing would have gone out of style in the 1950s.

Today a bunch of phony Republican opportunists are condemning Trump for resuming his twitter harassment of Megyn Kelly. It is very crude. But it's no different than what their hosts and guests say every day. It's a toxic cesspool of sexism that's just fine with them unless it's a Republican rival doing it.

What good can come out of the Ashley Madison Hack?

by Spocko

Hey, did you read that Josh Duggar was on the Ashley Madison list? And it wasn't a fake email address either! He confirmed it!

I know that some people get a feeling of joy or pleasure seeing Duggar suffer more misfortune. That's nice for them. But with all the genuine suffering that this exposure will be causing innocents, can we at least get something good out of it?

The media are already using it for their headlines, therapists and divorce lawyers will be using it to get new clients. But can we get more out of this hack than media hits and billable hours?

What's the opposite of Disaster Capitalism? Disaster Socialism? 

We know that some people use disasters to profit, others to push an agenda. "We are going to turn Iraq into a free market paradise using these Heritage Foundation interns!"

 I propose we have a couple of items to push on our agenda.

First, increase the importance of privacy in both private governments and corporations. Second, use this data to show the problem with passing judgement on the private lives of ordinary people.

As Glenn Greenwald pointed out in his piece, The Puritanical Glee Over the Ashley Madison Hack,
[None of us should cheer when the private lives of ordinary people are indiscriminately invaded, no matter how much voyeuristic arousal or feelings of moral superiority it provides. We love to think of ourselves as so progressive and advanced, yet so often leap at the opportunity to intervene and wallow around in, and sternly pass judgment on, the private sexual choices of other adults. 

But, what are the concrete things we can change beyond trying to change attitudes? How about a focus on data security at the corporate and government level.

Let's start demanding the organizations that hold our private data have greater accountability to protect it and more liability when it is taken.The massive class action suit against the parent company of Ashley Madison is a start, but not enough.

We also need to demand nationwide reporting of breaches. It's ridiculous that if you don't live in a state with mandated reporting the company or organization  never has to tell you about it.

Next we need an agency who actually wants to help us protect our data. But, since the fear is no entity can be trusted, we need to push for the tools to maintain some control over our privacy.

Right now our privacy tools are hard to use and not as strong as they should be.  Our privacy policy rules for corporations are weak. This is bad for everyone except the hackers.

 I want easier to use privacy tools on desktops and phones. I want tools that my in-laws can use daily when banking or shopping. I also want better tools my nephew can use when coding. You shouldn't have to know how to encrypt your own email, but you should understand why you should be doing it.
"Follow the money" Deep Throat
      --- All the President's Men
When someone says this to current journalists I want to snark back.  "1976 called, they want their tagline back."  

The print media only "follow the money" for stories about once a year, usually for Pulitzer submissions.  But now, post Citizens United, they won't be doing that on a political story.

But there is some good news.  Someone is using the Ashley Madison data to track down dark money in politics.

My friends at the Center for Media and Democracy saw that since Josh Dugger has already admitted his use of the service, they took the opportunity to go further.

Last week they put out a story about how Koch Brothers Freedom Partners Operation shoveled millions to a conservative Christian group. They laid out the shell corporations, who got it and for what supposed purposes. I can practically hear your eyes glazing over.

But luckily for the news scanning public, the Conservative Christian Group getting the money was led by Josh Duggar! As I predicted, he used the Christian "I'm a sinner, forgive me." card.

The MSM was able to use the hypocrisy card to run the story. He was a public figure who was also a moralizing hypocrite, so they didn't have to worry about discussing someone's private sex lives.  He was all wrapped up in one easy to consume baby-faced moralizing package.

But that is as far at they will take it. They aren't going to use it to look into the sex and political money connections like the CMD did.

Let me repeat. The media do NOT WANT to stop political money flowing into their coffers. They will only talk about it in the abstract as if there is nothing they can do with it beyond sexy headlines and moralized shaming.

 If we can't stop the data from getting out and want to use this data for good, we have to help the people doing the kind of work that the media will not do. 

Nobody is going to do this but us. 

Good luck with that Donald

by digby

He's reportedly trying to mend fences:

Recognizing that he’s not making many friends within the Latino population in his bid for the White House, candidate Donald Trump is approaching powerful Hispanic media organizations in hopes of changing the conversation. Meanwhile, the Donald remains a lightning rod for Spanish-language talk radio.

Advocacy group National Hispanic Media Coalition says it was “quietly” contacted last week by the Trump Organization’s head of strategic development, proposing a peace-making meeting. Politico quotes coalition CEO Alex Nogales regarding three calls the advocacy group has received from the Trump camp—first, one threatening to sue, a second attempting to change what Trump had said about Mexicans and “the third time was ‘Let’s get together to talk so we can solve our differences.’”

Yeah, I think that ship sailed.

Jeb's got a long way to go too. The statisticians all say that the GOP needs to get around 45% of the Latino vote.



Beyond the fringe

by Tom Sullivan

Lazier pundits like to view Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump as fringe candidates. But that's Village-speak for "not establishment." What fans find attractive about both is their iconoclastic styles, which couldn't be more different. Writing for Bloomberg News, Will Leitch attended Donald Trump's event in Mobile, Alabama last weekend and found that the common thread among those standing in line in the heat was this:

They were sick of all the bulls--t. They were sick of being talked to like they’re idiots. They might not be up on the policy papers or every specific detail of the Iran deal. But they can smell bulls--t.

Trump, the flashy billionaire, the reality show host, the consummate bullshitter, uses bullshit to cut through bullshit. They like that. Leitch explains:

They hate Hillary Clinton, they hate Obama, they hate Jeb Bush, and they hate them all for the same reason: They think they’re lying to them. Many, I found, especially hated Bush for his Spanish-language campaign ads. This came up several times. Bush is “as bad as any of them,” said Tony Hamilton, a truck driver from nearby Pensacola, Florida. “I voted for his brother and his dad, but not him, never. He’s just like the rest of them.”

They hate them so much that even if incoherent — his speech was all tangent and no theme — Trump's unabashed bullshit comes across as authenticity, and that's good enough. Even when Trump asks an audience of lower-income, southern T-party voters, “anybody here have a Mercedes-Benz? They’re wonderful, right? Great, great cars,” the crowd goes with it.

Meanwhile, for all his unhipness, Bernie Sanders has attracted a large percentage of the youth vote, Nathan Heller writes at the New Yorker. Sanders feels "open and friendly," but in a more coherent way:

... From 1981, in his first elected post, as the mayor of Burlington, he fought for corporate regulation and against big-money fundraising. He sought to lift the minimum wage. Recently, his supporters have produced old footage from his early years, as if to show that, in a field of opportunists, Sanders has held firm to his beliefs. The anachronism of his world view proves both his authenticity and his lack of hidden baggage as a candidate. For young voters, who approach the booth with shallow political memories, this “open” attitude toward Sanders’s past can come as reassurance: they don’t have to worry about being pinioned by a history that they don’t know, because history, for Sanders, is a backward projection of the behavior that they saw last week. The approach is striking in an era when even personal life is preconceived, polished, performed. Sanders is exceptional because he seems, demonstrably, the same guy who he was before the iPhone cameras first appeared.

With 37 percent favorable among under-30 voters in one poll, Sanders hardly sounds fringe. Hillary Clinton polls 40 percent among the same age group, writes Heller.

Both Sanders and Trump supporters seem tired of business as usual. But while Sanders seems like a seasoned veteran with ideas whose time has come, Trump comes off as a pitchman selling himself as "new and improved."

Monday, August 24, 2015

Funny o' the day

by digby

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has called on baristas to be extra patient with customers on Monday, given the dramatic stock market swoon that no doubt has left countless coffee addicts anxious about the state of their retirement holdings.

"Today’s financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty both at home and abroad, will undoubtedly have an effect on consumer confidence and perhaps even our customers’ attitudes and behavior. Our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern,”Schulz told staff in an email obtained by Fortune. Fusion earlier reported on the email.

“Let’s be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations,” he told his “partners,” Starbucks terminology for employees.

These people really do live in their own world ...

The views of your overlords

by digby

This article By Sean McElwee at Salon elaborates on this information.

These people used to just buy access but now they have so much money that it's a drop in the bucket to just buy politicians outright. And a whole lot of them have much more specific interests than just that.


Bush Panopticon

by digby

Just in case anyone thinks that good ole moderate Jeb! is one of those libertarian type Republicans who will take the national security state in hand here's a little dose of reality:
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Wednesday said he favors broader government surveillance of Americans, calling for private tech firms to cooperate better with federal agencies to “make sure that evildoers aren’t in our midst.”

"There's a place to find common ground between personal civil liberties and [the National Security Agency] doing its job," the former Florida governor said. "I think the balance has actually gone the wrong way."

At a national security forum in South Carolina on Tuesday, the presidential hopeful addressed the ongoing battle between Silicon Valley and the Obama administration over whether law enforcement officials should have guaranteed access to encrypted customer data at major tech firms.

Bush said encryption “makes it harder for the American government to do its job” and called for “a new arrangement with Silicon Valley” to address what he termed as a “dangerous situation.”

Prominent tech CEOs — such as Apple’s Tim Cook — have argued for strong, universal encryption, in which even the company can’t see customers’ communications. Security experts support such calls, arguing that a guaranteed “back door” weakens worldwide encryption and compromises privacy.

I'm sure whomever the Democratic nominee is will not be a whole lot better. But I haven't heard any of them saying we need to spy on Americans even more than we are in order to root out "evil-doers in our midst." There's lots of evil in this world. In fact, the line between good and evil usually manifests itself inside each human being. That's a pretty sweeping edict right there --- if you declare war on evil-doers the government is going to be very, very busy.


GOP's new minority outreach

by digby

Considering that Trump has been China bashing almost as much as Latino bashing, Bush pointed at the "asian" anchor babies today and now this, I'm going to guess the Republicans have decided they can dogwhistle Mexican hating (and, needless to say, African American hating) by attacking the "yellow peril."

They figure that to their bigoted base voters, any and all foreigners look alike so as long as they're bashing somebody they'll be fine.  Whether Latinos and Asian-Americans are equally dumb is highly unlikely.

My God. Trump really is driving the train now. He's out there saying that China is kicking our asses, they' strong, we're weak and the truth is that it's the exact opposite.  We're in bizarroworld again.

Gossip posing as moralizing

by digby

I have often said that nobody should ever judge another's marriage especially those that are long term over many years. It is the most complicated relationship of our lives and it requires privacy in order to survive and flourish. I wrote that back in the day when everyone and their mother was weighing in on Clinton's indiscretions and publicly judging both him and his wife and I still feel that way today. (It's my original reason for hating Joe Lieberman, although he gave me plenty of others over the years.) If you want to destroy the institution of marriage one good way to do it is to force everyone to expose theirs to public scrutiny.

Anyway, I think this Ashley Madison hack is nothing more than sophomoric gossip parading as moralism. I don't even care that Josh Duggar cheated on that poor wife of his --- I assume that all those patriarchal moralists do that. It's one of the perks. I feel sorry for his wife both because of what he did and the fact that she now has to be publicly humiliated all over again. I'm sure he deserves to be held up for ridicule for his hypocrisy, but in the end the whole thing is just a sordid, small town gossip fest.

Anyway, Greenwald's been following the story and wrote this up today and I thought it was very poignant:

Ever since I wrote on Thursday about the Ashley Madison hack and resulting reactions and consequences, I’ve heard from dozens of people who used the site. They offer a remarkably wide range of reasons for having done so. I’m posting below one email I received that I find particularly illuminating, which I very lightly edited to correct a few obvious typographical errors:

Dear Glenn,

Thank you for the kindness and humanity you have manifested to those of us whose data is now a source of public mockery and shame on AM.

I am female, hold a job with a lot of responsibility, have three kids, one with special needs, and a husband with whom I have not been intimate for several years due to his cancer treatments.

I also used to write about marriage law policy, encouraging traditional marriage for the good of children. My institution has a morality clause in all contracts.

Mine is a loveless, sexless, parenting marriage. I will care for my husband if his cancer spreads, we manage good will for the sake of the children, but we cannot talk about my emotional or sexual needs without him fixating on his death and crying.

I went on AM out of loneliness and despair, and found friendship, both male and female, with others trapped in terrible marriages trying to do right by their children.

My experiences have led me to soften my views of marriage as my own marriage is a deeply humbling, painful longterm commitment.

I expect to be ridiculed by colleagues, to lose my job, and to be publicly shamed, especially as a hypocrite. Yes, I used a credit card. In my case, I will get no sympathy from the right or the left as I do not fit into either of their simplistic paradigms.

I have received email from Trustify that I have been searched, and it is soliciting me to purchase its services. And I am receiving lots of spam with racy headings

That is my story. When my outing happens, I suppose I might as well take a stand for those who are trapped in bad marriages. Many of us are doing the best we can, trying in our own imperfect way to cope with alienation, lovelessness, and physical deprivation.

I do not want to hurt my children or husband. I truly wish I had a good one and I want happy marriages for others. I did what I did trying to cope. Maybe it was a bad idea but again, I have met some very decent people on AM, some of whom are now dear friends.

Thank you again.


As I argued last week, even for the most simplistic, worst-case-scenario, cartoon-villain depictions of the Ashley Madison user – a spouse who selfishly seeks hedonistic pleasure with indifference toward his or her own marital vows and by deceiving the spouse – that’s nobody’s business other than those who are parties to that marriage or, perhaps, their family members and close friends. But as the fallout begins from this leak, as people’s careers and reputations begin to be ruined, as unconfirmed reports emerge that some users have committed suicide, it’s worth remembering that the reality is often far more complex than the smug moralizers suggest.

The private lives and sexual choices of fully-formed adults are usually very complicated and thus impossible to understand – and certainly impossible to judge – without wallowing around in the most intimate details, none of which are any of your business. That’s a very good reason not to try to sit in judgment and condemn from afar.


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