It’s coming up on the weekend here in Louisiana and we will be voting for Governor tomorrow. It really, really looks like we will have a Blue Dog Democrat for governor. The polls are consistently showing Senator David Vitter losing the race. You can tell how badly Vitter’s doing by the way his ads have gotten increasingly shameful on so many levels. They are full of lies, distortion, racism, and hate. A number of Republicans from Vitter’s home parish and congressional district have come out in support of his Democratic opponent John Bel Edwards. Edwards is not my idea of a Democratic candidate, but I’m firmly in the any one but Vitter column. I will go to the polls tomorrow. The fact that Louisiana could be creeping back into the purple state category should be a lesson for many. The fact the vitriol is not working should also. Bel Edwards is dishing it right back out to him with a cherry on top.
Edwards is a Democrat, Vitter a Republican, and both are Catholics in a state with a strong evangelical presence—and a state that thrives on politics as blood sport. The central issue in this election campaign is a 2007 prostitution scandal that Vitter thought he had put behind him.
This election has become the dirtiest slug fest since the 1991 “race from hell” when Edwin Edwards (no kin to John Bel), though trailed by corruption scandals, won a record fourth term, crushing David Duke, the former Klan leader and closet Nazi. Both men later went to prison. Duke for mail fraud, Edwards for extortion tied to casino licenses. Such are the vagaries of democracy in the Bayou State.
The pivotal question this year is whether Edwards’s growing lead is a purely anti-Vitter phenomenon—and whether the senator is capable of reversing it. Vitter does possess samurai-level skills in slash-attack politics.
But a November 12 University of New Orleans (UNO) poll has Edwards at 54 percent, with a 22 point lead, gaining two points since the Tuesday debate.
A larger question looms: If the margin holds, does the Edwards surge signal a sputtering of the Republican Southern strategy that exploits racial division by demonizing President Obama?
Either way, if Edwards wins big, you can bet the car that Hillary Rodham Clinton will try to make him her new best friend.
A lawyer and West Point graduate who frequently cites the military academy’s honor code and touts himself as “pro-life and pro-gun,” Edwards is a blue dog Democrat—one of the last of the centrist-conservative Democrats, blue dogs being an endangered species in Congress and nearly extinct in statewide offices across the beef red South. But there is nothing cookie-cutter about Edwards’s views: Since taking his seat in the state legislature in 2006 and particularly since 2012, when he became state House minority leader, Edwards has spearheaded the opposition to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s deep cuts to higher education and his refusal to take Medicaid funds under Obamacare—to no avail.
The state race isn’t the only one where lies, distortion, racism, and vitriol is rampant. Donald Trump’s rhetoric is just the most overt example of
what’s left in the Republican Party. His suggestion to keep a federal register of Muslims in the U.S. is rightly drawing comparisons to the registrations of Jewish populations in Hitler’s NAZI Germany. I’m not one to appreciate the tendency of folks to Godwin but Trump has clearly jumped into the fascism part of the political spectrum and should be shamed. Hillary tweeted condemnation of Trump’s suggestion yesterday and characterized his rhetoric as “shocking”. She was joined by the other Democrats in the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
Hillary Clinton condemned Donald Trump’s call to require Muslims to register in a database, calling his idea “shocking.”
“This is shocking rhetoric. It should be denounced by all seeking to lead this country. –H,” she tweeted, linking to a New York Times story, quoting Trump as saying he’d “absolutely” require Muslims to do so.
In an interview with NBC news Thursday night, Trump was asked to clarify comments he had made to Yahoo News, saying he would not rule out such a registry for Muslims if he were president.
“Should there be a database system that tracks the Muslims in this country?” an NBC reporter asked Trump at an event in Newton, Iowa.
“There should be a lot of systems. Beyond database, we should have a lot of systems. And today, you can do it,” Trump said. “I would certainly implement that — absolutely.”
He said the database would stop people from coming into the United States illegally. And he could accomplish it with “good management procedures,” he said.
The other two Democratic presidential candidates also rebuked Trump.
Bernie Sanders called the statement “outrageous and bigoted.”
“What an outrageous and bigoted statement. @realDonaldTrump should be ashamed of himself,” the Vermont senator tweeted.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley addressed Trump’s comments Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“When you hear people like Donald Trump talking about wanting to do ID cards based on religion, what the hell is that? I mean, how is that at all American?” he asked.
Even Texas whackadoo Ted Cruz rejected the idea. Cruz may be getting a whiff of doom for the Donald.
Ted Cruz on Friday disavowed Donald Trump’s support for requiring American Muslims register as such, a rare public break with the current GOP frontrunner.
“I’m a big fan of Donald Trump’s but I’m not a fan of government registries of American citizens,” he told reporters of a plan Trump said he backed a day earlier. “The First Amendment protects religious liberty, I’ve spent the past several decades defending religious liberty.”
Marco Rubio, however, has adopted similar over-the-top xenophobic and unconstitutional policy calling for a shut down of any place where Muslims might gather and be inspired. This leaves Jeb Bush as the voice of reason in the little tent of horror.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) seems to be going further than even Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in advocating the crackdown of U.S. Muslims. He doesn’t just want to consider shutting down mosques, as Trump says, but wants to shut down “any place where radicals are being inspired.”
“It’s not about closing down mosques. It’s about closing down any place — whether it’s a cafe, a diner, an internet site — any place where radicals are being inspired,” Rubio said on Fox News’ The Kelly File on Thursday night when asked if he agreed with Trump. “The bigger problem we have is our inability to find out where these places are, because we’ve crippled our intelligence programs, both through unauthorized disclosures by a traitor, in Edward Snowden, or by some of the things this president has put in place with the support even of some from my own party to diminish our intelligence capabilities.”
“So whatever facility is being used — it’s not just a mosque — any facility that’s being used to radicalize and inspire attacks against the United States, should be a place that we look at,” he continued.
Trump first articulated potentially shutting down U.S. mosques on Monday during a call in to MSNBC’s Morning Joe, when hosts asked if he would consider doing the same thing France did and shut down U.S. mosques with direct terrorist ties. Trump said he would “strongly consider” it, then lamented NYPD shutting down its domestic surveillance program targeting Muslims in New York City. Later this week he suggested the U.S. would “absolutely” create a federal database of Muslimsif he were elected president.
Both Trump and Rubio could be putting forth these ideas because polling suggests that limiting rights of Muslims is popular with Republican voters. A poll released this week found that 25 percent of Rubio supporters liked the idea of shutting down U.S. mosques.
Meanwhile establishment candidate Jeb Bush has resisted targeting of U.S. mosques: “You talk about closing mosques, you talk about registering people, that’s just wrong …. it’s manipulating people’s angst and their fears. That’s not strength. That’s weakness.”
These are typical chicken hawks. They speak of bombing everything in sight and the run in fear of widows and orphans and healthcare workerstending to the Ebola stricken. Paul Krugman is quick to point to the right wing’s tendency to panic under infinitesimally small odds of bad things. His op ed today is focused on the Erick Erickson who is very high on my list of worst human being on the planet.
The French themselves are making a point of staying calm, indeed of going out to cafes to show that they refuse to be intimidated. But Mr. Erickson declared on his website that he won’t be going to see the new “Star Wars” movie on opening day, because “there are no metal detectors at American theaters.”
Lightsabers aside, are Mr. Erickson’s fears any sillier than those of the dozens of governors — almost all Republicans — who want to ban Syrian refugees from their states?
Mr. Obama certainly thinks they’re being ridiculous; he mocked politicians who claim that they’re so tough that they could stare down America’s enemies, but are “scared of widows and orphans.” (He was probably talking in particular about Chris Christie, who has said that he even wants to ban young children.) Again, the contrast with France, where President François Hollande has reaffirmed the nation’s willingness to take in refugees, is striking.
I didn’t hear similar rhetoric when folks in a theatre were shot up and many murdered in either Colorado or Louisiana. I just read calls for more armed citizens to join in the shoot ups. But, Krugman believes the paranoia is part and parcel of their basic reaction to what goes on framed in terms of an Obama Presidency. As mentioned in the Vitter-Edwards fight above, Republics seem to connect every little bad thing to the President and state it in completely hyped up terms. Connecting Mary Landrieu to Obama certainly worked in the negative Louisiana Senatorial race last year.
What explains the modern right’s propensity for panic? Part of it, no doubt, is the familiar point that many bullies are also cowards. But I think it’s also linked to the apocalyptic mind-set that has developed among Republicans during the Obama years.
Think about it. From the day Mr. Obama took office, his political foes have warned about imminent catastrophe. Fiscal crisis! Hyperinflation! Economic collapse, brought on by the scourge of health insurance! And nobody on the right dares point out the failure of the promised disasters to materialize, or suggest a more nuanced approach.
Given this context, it’s only natural that the right would seize on a terrorist attack in France as proof that Mr. Obama has left America undefended and vulnerable. Ted Cruz, who has a real chance of becoming the Republican nominee, goes so far as to declare that the president “does not wish to defend this country.”
The context also explains why Beltway insiders were so foolish when they imagined that the Paris attacks would deflate Donald Trump’s candidacy, that Republican voters would turn to establishment candidates who are serious about national security.
Who, exactly, are these serious candidates? And why would the establishment, which has spent years encouraging the base to indulge its fears and reject nuance, now expect that base to understand the difference between tough talk and actual effectiveness?
Sure enough, polling since the Paris attack suggests that Mr. Trump has actually gained ground.
The point is that at this point panic is what the right is all about, and the Republican nomination will go to whoever can most effectively channel that panic. Will the same hold true in the general election?
The fact that all of the Paris bombers were European nationals is completely ignored by the right wing media. I grew up in a a hell hole of backwardness called Omaha, Nebraska. Most of the folks that I know that basically never left or moved into neighboring hellholes are putting up some of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen including linking refugees to the Fort Hood Shooter who was born in Virginia. I also actually had some one point out to me that if we didn’t stop the Syrian refugees we might go the way of Native Americans when the Colonists came over. I’ve never seen such an level of panic that people appear to have left any sense of proportion in a gutter somewhere. It seems worse than the Ebola hysteria of a few years ago.
We’ve had an attack today on a Western Hotel in Malia. Additionally, there have been recent attacks in Kenya and Lebanon that appear to be Isis-inspired and possibly planned. I can understand being extremely careful in places like this. How do these events or events in Paris translate to being paranoid in small towns in the middle of the country where even most Americans wouldn’t and don’t want to live? We’ve had plenty of pressers by NYC officials–NYC is definitely always a potential terrorist target–and they’re doing their usual thing and not particularly worried.
What should be worrying is the weird attraction of any extremist philosophy–including fundamentalist religions of all types–to young people. What is it that is causing many young people to feel so disenfranchised from the mainstream they hook up with cults? This has always been a challenge in the developed world.
You may want to spend some time with a profile at the Daily Mail on the female jihadi killed in St.-Denis. People who do not live countries with abject poverty and little opportunity for education and economic advancement are less of a concern than our homemade terrorists. This includes folks drawn to white supremacy as well as the violent jihadi mentality.
The woman killed in the Saint-Denis siege was a party animal with a string of boyfriends who had shown no interest in religion, it emerged today.
Hasna Ait Boulahcen, 26, was blown to bits when a second unnamed terrorist detonated a bomb after anti-terror police closed in on the safehouse where she was hiding with her cousin, the mastermind of the Paris attacks.
Just a day after her death, family and acquaintances gave extraordinary accounts of a young woman with a ‘bad reputation’ who was known for her love of alcohol and cigarettes rather than devotion to Islam.
Her brother Youssouf Ait Boulahcen said that she had had no interest in religion, never read the Koran and had only started wearing a Muslim veil a month ago.
A photograph has also emerged of Ait Boulahcen posing for a selfie in the bath. Her face is covered in heavy make-up and she wears nothing but jewellery.
She’s not exactly the posterchild for your basic practicing cafeteria Muslim let alone a Jihadi. What on earth happened to flip her?
Home grown white male christian extremists are far more of a danger here in this country yet, law enforcement has to keep its concerns underwrap for fear of inciting a Fox Nation backlash. The NRA isn’t concerned about any terrorist, felon, or mentally ill person getting access to an arsenal. How do we explain right wing paranoia in light of that? In this country, toddlers kill more people that radical jihadists.
All I know is that I’m very sick and tired of this racist, hateful, unconstitutional and down right UnAmerican response to the latest panic from the right. A few years ago it was stopping all flights from an entire continent. Now, it’s stopping refugees from one single country that’s in the middle of a civil war.
It’s ridiculous and it’s unbecoming.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
The one thing Martin O’Malley said Saturday night that really stayed with me was his assertion that the symbol of the United States is not the barbed wire fence but the Statue of Liberty. We’re having our principles and values tested and many of our elected leaders are coming up short. This includes my absentee Governor Bobby “the Jingoist” Jindal and the Governor of Texas both who profess to belong to a religion where the guru clearly states this:
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’…
I am not one to quote folks’ imaginary friends. But, this is ridiculous. You can’t profess that religion and then totally ignore the overwhelming message of its primary teacher which is basically to love one another and help the least among us.
Unlike the self aggrandizing election propaganda pushed by the likes of David “Spy Master and professional John” Vitter and Bobby Jindal (alleged christians), there have not been 10,000 Syrian refuges sent to Louisiana. There have been 14 relocated to the state. Jindal and others want our doors slammed shut to the refugees fleeing an enemy of our own creation.
A day after Gov. Bobby Jindal sent a letter to the White House demanding to hear from President Barack Obama the number of Syrian refugees who have been allowed into Louisiana, the State Department confirmed the number this year was 14.
“As Governor of Louisiana, I demand information about the Syrian refugees being placed in Louisiana in hopes that the night of horror in Paris is not duplicated here,” Jindal wrote in his letter Saturday.
Jindal’s letter came at the end of a day in which multiple blogs reporting that 10,000 Syrian refugees had already made their way to New Orleans went viral. Many of the blogs were published earlier this month but appeared to gain new life following Friday’s terror attacks in Paris.
Seven Syrian refugees have been resettled in Kenner, while six have been placed in New Orleans with one placed in Baton Rouge, a State Department spokesperson said Sunday in response to a request for the numbers from WWL-TV.
The blogs that cited the figure of 10,000 refugees also include an image, purportedly of Syrian men in New Orleans, which actually is a photograph of migrants protesting outside of a train station in Budapest, Hungary, on Sept. 3.
While the Obama administration has announced plans to resettle 10,000 Syrian refuges in the United States in 2016, the State Department on Sunday said those people will be spread across the country, not in one area.
“We do not have projections on how many Syrians will be resettled in each state. However, those allocations are made in close collaboration with the nongovernmental organizations that resettle refugees as well as with state and local government officials,” the State Department said in a statement.
Indeed, the State Department already has a rigorous background check and process in place to assure that our country is safe and that we can welcome refugees and folks that want to become part of the United States. Here’s a transcript of a briefing on the process. You can read more to find more about the programs in each of the countries generally impacted by the current refugee crisis.
So we refer to the program as the USRAP, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, so if I use that acronym that’s what that means. So the USRAP is an interagency process that includes three primary U.S. Government agencies. That’s us, the Department of State, as the primary lead agency; the Department of Homeland Security, specifically U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; and the Department of Health and Human Services, their Office of Refugee Resettlement.
So this USRAP involves those three government agencies as well as international organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, a number of nongovernmental organizations – these we normally refer to as resettlement agencies in the United States – as well as U.S. states, cities, private citizens, churches and mosques, and community groups. So it’s a lot of people involved, big process, fairly standard procedures.
So there are a number of processing requirements within the USRAP that cannot be waived, such as an in-person DHS interview, security checks, and a medical exam, including a TB test. And this is one way – one of the many ways in which our Refugee Resettlement Program differs from a lot of other countries’ resettlement programs. A lot of other countries can do things like waive an in-person interview. They can take a case based on dossier. They do very few security checks in some cases. Those are not options that are available to us. So because of these very strict requirements that we have and because at any given time we’re processing cases in 70 or more locations worldwide with a limited amount of resources, it currently takes anywhere from 18 to 24 months or even longer to process a case from referral or application to arrival in the United States.
And I want to focus on that for just a second and repeat that, because it’s an important point. If we had a much smaller case load – let’s say if we processed 5,000 or 10,000 or even 20,000 people a year, and if we only processed in capitals where we have a physical presence, like Amman or Nairobi – processing times would be much shorter. But because we accept referrals from UNHCR for refugees in remote locations and camps all over the world – places like eastern Chad and western Tanzania that are pretty difficult to get to – we can’t send our staff up to interview a case as soon as we have one referral or ten referrals or even a hundred referrals. We’re constantly looking for a critical mass of cases before we go and start processing those cases.
The USRAP is a labor-intensive program. Between the three government agencies, we spent last year a little bit more than $1.1 billion, so it is a labor-intensive and fairly resource-intensive program.
So I’m going to go over the main steps on the overseas processing side first. And the first important step in getting access to the USRAP is either a referral or an application. The vast majority of our referrals come from UNHCR, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, also known as the UN Refugee Agency. U.S. embassies and certain NGOs are also qualified to refer cases to us, but we get very few from those two sources. About 75 percent of our referrals to the program come from UNHCR. Another 25 percent of the program – so about a quarter of the program – a quarter of our applicants gain access through direct applications. And so some of you are probably familiar with some of these direct application programs.
At least four Republican governors are moving to block Syrian refugees from entering their states after Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris that killed more than 125 people and wounded hundreds more.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday joined Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in refusing to accept refugees from Syria. “A Syrian ‘refugee’ appears to have been part of the Paris terror attack,” Abbott wrote in a letter informing President Barack Obama of his plans not to allow Syrian refugees into Texas. “American humanitarian compassion could be exploited to expose Americans to similar deadly danger.”
Abbott argued that neither the president nor any federal official could guarantee the refugees wouldn’t be part of any terrorist activity. “As such, opening our door to them irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans to unacceptable peril,” he wrote.
Despite Friday’s deadly attacks, the White House has said Obama still plans to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016.
Hutchinson, Bentley and Snyder have also announced their intentions to halt Syrian refugees from entering their states, with the latter two stating their opposition Sunday.
I cannot be happier that my governor is on his way to oblivion given this executive order. He is a small minded, mean little man who is full of self loathing and hypocrisy. It also looks like Senator David Vitter is about to join him in anonymity and no more jobs based on tax payer dollars. These men can’t even self govern their demons let alone the interests of other people.
Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order Monday (Nov. 16) to prevent Syrian refugees from being resettled in Louisiana.
In issuing the order, Jindal referenced last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 people and injured hundreds more. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Jindal said the introduction of Syrian refugees into the U.S. without “proper prior screening and follow-up monitoring could result in a threat to the citizens and property of this state.”
He cited a section of the Louisiana Constitution that says “during times of emergency… the governor has emergency powers to protect the citizens and property of the state of Louisiana.”
Jindal also sent a letter to the Obama administration on Saturday demanding information about the refugees being placed in Louisiana.
The Governors of Alabama and Michigan joined in the lunacy. Way to let the terrorists win dudes!!!! This is mostly symbolic which makes it even more shameful.
Legally, the states have limited power to control the flow of foreigners into their states; that authority is reserved largely to the federal government under the Constitution.
This is especially shameful because we’ve found out that the passport of a supposed Syrian refugee involved in the Paris Massacre was in fact, a false flag operation. It was a falsified document. The people who staged the Paris attacks are primarily native French and Belgians. They were not Syrian refugees.
As the dust settles on the Paris attacks, intelligence agencies are scrambling to gather information on the reported attackers. Passports collected on-scene have helped identify the nationalities of a few of the attackers, most of whom are from the European Union. A Syrian passport has also been found, though authorities have warned it could be fake.
French authorities believe that as many as 20 people were involved in planning the attack, claimed by ISIS (also known as ISIL or the Islamic State). Most of the released information indicates that the attackers were born and raised either in France or Belgium. Omar Ismail Mostefai (1) and Salah Abdeslam (2) — who is still at large — are the two names to be officially released so far. Mostefai, who detonated himself in a suicide attack on Friday, was a French national who grew up south of Paris while Abdeslam was born and lived in Brussels.
The passport of an Egyptian national was also found. That man was a victim of the attacks and is critically injured.
Additionally, it shows a shameful lack of understanding of ISIS which is a radical Sunni element that is against ANYONE that’s against its interpretation of Islam. The primary military battles right now are with other ethnic Muslims, notably the Kurdish. ISIS has its own strategy and agenda. It is an apocalyptic cult–much like that of many fundamentalist christian sects in our country–with the goal of establishing a path to the end times and a theocracy based on its interpretation of Muslim theology. It’s at war with every one that’s not ISIS. It has not singled out the west or its culture which is why it also did suicide attacks in Lebanon in close proximity to the Paris attacks. All of the Republican candidates for President are terribly ill-informed when it comes to affairs of state as is their base.
But ISIS isn’t a civilization. In parts of Iraq and Syria, it’s a self-declared, though unrecognized, state. Elsewhere, it’s a network of terrorist groups linked by a common ideology. “Civilizations” are cultural groupings. In calling the Paris attack a “clash of civilizations,” Rubio evoked Samuel Huntington’s famed 1993Foreign Affairs essay of the same name. In that essay, Huntington defined “civilization” as “the broadest level of cultural identity people have.” And he suggested that the world contains “seven or eight” major ones: “Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African.”
The most straightforward way to interpret Rubio’s statement, therefore, is that the civilizational “they” that attacked Paris is Islam. Among the grassroots conservatives Rubio is wooing in his campaign for president, that’s a popular view. After all, recent polling in states like Iowa and North Carolina suggests that upwards of one-third of Republicans would like to make Islam illegal in the United States.
Ben Carson and Donald Trump have indulged that sentiment crudely. Rubio, typically, is doing so more subtly. But it’s worth noting how fundamentally his analysis diverges from that of both of America’s post-9/11 presidents. George W. Bush said America was at war with an ideology that had “hijacked Islam” in the same way Nazism had hijacked Germany or communism had hijacked Russia. Barack Obama has argued that even this assessment gives violent jihadists a stature they don’t deserve. Rubio, by contrast, is going far beyond Bush. And he’s doing exactly what the Islamic State wants: He’s equating ISIS with Islam itself.
These Republican governors are playing into ISIS’ hand. They want the west to look bad to Muslims all over the world. They want us all characterized as ‘Crusaders’ and not loving humanitarians capable of discerning evil from ordinary people. Europe has its own set of right wing xenophobes which parrot similar tropes.
The Islamic State’s strategy is to polarize Western society — to “destroy the grayzone,” as it says in its publications. The group hopes frequent, devastating attacks in its name will provoke overreactions by European governments against innocent Muslims, thereby alienating and radicalizing Muslim communities throughout the continent. The atrocities in Paris are only the most recent instances of this accelerating campaign. Since January, European citizens fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have provided online and material support to lethal operations in Paris,Copenhagen and near Lyon, France, as well as attempted attacks in London,Barcelona and near Brussels. Islamic State fighters are likely responsible fordestroying the Russian airliner over the Sinai. These attacks are not random, nor are they aimed primarily at affecting Western policy in the Middle East. They are, rather, part of a militarily capable organization’s campaign to mobilize extremist actors already in Europe and to recruit new ones.
The strategy is explicit. The Islamic State explained after the January attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine that such attacks “compel the Crusaders to actively destroy the grayzone themselves. . . . Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one of two choices, they either apostatize . . . or they [emigrate] to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution from the Crusader governments and citizens.” The group calculates that a small number of attackers can profoundly shift the way that European society views its 44 million Muslim members and, as a result, the way European Muslims view themselves. Through this provocation, it seeks to set conditions for an apocalyptic war with the West.
Unfortunately, elements of European society are reacting as the Islamic State desires. Far-right parties have gained strength in many European countries. France’s National Front is expected to dominate local elections in northern France this winter; on Saturday, Marine Le Pen, its leader, declared “those who maintain links with Islamism” to be “France’s enemies.” The Danish People’s Party gained 21 percent of the vote in national elections in June on a nationalist, anti-Islamic platform. The anti-foreigner Sweden Democrats is steadily growing in popularity.
I remember taking American History in Junior High School. We were beginning to delve into World War 2 in a much more nuanced way. Since I eventually became a history major, I was fascinated by all aspects of history including our culpability in genocides and injustice. I was horrified to find out that we turned away many European Jewish immigrants prior to the NAZI take over. That, and our internment of Japanese citizens was my first experience at critically looking at our country’s modern history of White Christian Male privilege. I discovered the genocide of indigenous people and the horrors of slavery earlier but had thought we’d evolved with the Civil Rights Era.
I do not want our children to ask us why we did not act to save innocents from evil. Being Jewish in German-occupied Europe was a death sentence for those folks. We were complicit. We should not be complicit in this again because we can do something.
Just as my mind knows the faces of Jewish friends who lost family in Germany, I know Syrians with family dead, dying, and trying to escape the horror there. I condemn strongly the hatred, bigotry, and ignorance of any one playing into the hands of ISIS. This is not the Iron Age. This is not the Dark Ages. American is better than people like David Vitter, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio and the likes. Notice that TWO of these folks are the children of immigrants too! What if we had closed our doors on them because they were Catholic? They were dark skinned and from India? How dare they redefine our country?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
H/T to Winter Claire Randall for the Matthew quote and to David Bernstein for the State Department link.
Boy did I ever oversleep this morning! I’m going through my usual post-road-trip recovery process. The exhaustion usually hits me a couple of days later. There doesn’t seem to be any breaking news today. The Republicans are still insane, gun violence continues unabated in the USA, as do disasters around the world. What else is new?
Well, for one thing it looks like the Republican Party will either nominate Ben Carson or Donald Trump, unless the people who used to be in charge figure out a way to pick Marco Rubio. I can’t see Ted Cruz getting the nomination, because everyone in Washington DC seems to hate his guts. Jeb! Bush has shown himself to be a terrible candidate, and I doubt if he’ll be around much longer. So that leaves Rubio, who is a complete crackpot and likely a crook. Fortunately, Hillary Clinton will probably wipe the floor with him. But he’s still dangerous.
Ultimate Villager Chris Cillizza thinks Trump or Carson may actually win the nomination, despite strenuous efforts by the GOP “political class.”
I’ve written before in this space that there is more distance between the Republican base and the professional political class than at any time in modern memory. Consider:
* The establishment was convinced until a month or so ago that Jeb Bush was going to be the party’s nominee — totally ignoring the fact that in poll after poll the base made clear that it wasn’t even close to enamored with Bush.
* The establishment regarded Trump as a flash in the pan who should be ignored by “serious” political people. He has now been at or near the top of the Republican field for more than 100 days.
* The establishment dismissed Carson as a candidate with a narrow appeal among social conservatives. He has led the field in each of the past two national polls released on the race.
This is the new “normal,” writes Cillizza.
The idea that things are going to return to “normal” sometime soon presumes that the average Republican voter finds the current definition of normal acceptable. They don’t. In fact, exactly the opposite.
Of the four candidates with a real shot today of being the party’s nominee, two have never held elective office — and in fact have never even run before. A third, Cruz, has spent the past three years in the Senate doing everything he can to make clear that he thinks it’s all broken and that his party’s leadership has been co-opted by Democrats. Of the quartet, only Rubio comes close to fitting the definition of a “normal” candidate — and even he, at 44 and having spent just five years in the Senate, would have been considered far too inexperienced to run for president in the pre-Obama era.
We have to assume that the GOP insiders–with help from billionaire donors–will find a way to nominate Rubio. The trouble is that Rubio is almost as crazy as Trump and Carson, even though he appears to many observers to be a “moderate.”
Rubio is impressing some of the big money men. Digby at Salon yesterday: Marco Rubio, the billionaire whisperer: How he became the plutocrats’ favorite candidate (and why we should be scared)
…despite all the big political news of the week, there was a another political story that garnered no attention on the SundayMorning GOP love fest: The decision by vastly wealthy hedge fund manager Paul Singer to back Marco Rubio.
Now it must be noted that so far Rubio has not shown any real strength with voters. He’s still mired down with the pack, usually somewhere around 3rd, 4th or 5th place. By comparison with Bush he’s holding his own, but in the field still dominated by the outsider weirdos, he doesn’t seem to be registering all that effectively in the polls. But there is one group of GOP voters who have been dazzled by him for a while: the billionaires.
He seduced one mega-donor by the name of Norman Braman, a wealthy South Florida car dealer, early on. (Yes, car dealers now become billionaires — amazing what your millions can do when they’re allowed to make money for you.) Braman came out for Rubio before he’d even announced saying, “I just think he’s the candidate of today and tomorrow, and he’s the only one, the only candidate that has come up with specific proposals dealing with the issues facing this nation. Read his book and you’ll see.” Braman hasn’t shared exactly what proposals and what issues to which he’s referring, but the fact that he’s is known as an”eclectic” donor, offering financial support to both Democrats and Republicans over the years, told the party that Rubio had fully shed his early doctrinaire Tea Party image (which had been fraying for some time) to become the kind of establishment candidate who could win the general election.
But Braman isn’t the only octogenarian billionaire who finds Rubio’s smooth charm alluring:
Since entering the Senate in 2011, Rubio has met privately with the mogul on a half-dozen occasions. In recent months, he‘s been calling Adelson about once every two weeks, providing him with meticulous updates on his nascent campaign. During a recent trip to New York City, Rubio took time out of his busy schedule to speak by phone with the megadonor.
And, Adelson is listening. Read the rest at Salon.
More signs that Rubio may end up with the nomination:
Brett Arends’s Roi at MarketWatch: Opinion: Why the money’s now betting on Rubio.
Ben Geier at Fortune: Marco Rubio may be the default candidate for big business.
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: Why Marco Rubio is so effective and dangerous.
Rubio may look like a guileless young fellow, and he really doesn’t know much about policy; and he’s shown that he’ll change his positions to please the big money guys. He may also be financially corrupt.
Amanda Marcotte at Salon last week on the second GOP debate: We must now fear Marco Rubio: The GOP’s best bet is sneaky, slippery and deceptively dangerous.
A lot of pundits are casting around for politicians to compare Rubio to—names like John Edwards (for empty suitness) or Barack Obama (for being young and non-white) come up—but the politician he actually evokes the most is Jeb Bush’s brother, George W. Bush. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post doesn’t mention W. Bush, but consider his very convincing description of Rubio’s strengths as a politician.
“Rubio knows how to feed the angry preoccupations of many GOP base voters while simultaneously coming across as hopeful and optimistic,” he writes. “Last night, Rubio, in what appeared to be an appeal to the deep resentment of many of these voters, skillfully converted legitimate questions about his personal financial management into evidence of Democratic and elite media contempt for his relatively humble upbringing, which he proceeded to explain he had overcome through hard work. Rubio’s narrative is both laden with legitimate resentment and inspiring!”
Playing to angry conservatives while simultaneously coming across as a nice, if bland guy to more mainstream crowds? That sounds exactly like the formula that Bush employed against Al Gore in the 2000 campaign. While Rubio avoids the now-loaded term “compassionate conservatism”, his pitch, that he supports conservative policies because he thinks they help working class people, hits exactly the same note.
If Rubio wins, there’s a strong chance that the 2016 election will be a redux of the 2000 campaign: A dim but affable-seeming Republican who comes across as kind of harmless against a smarty-pants Democrat that the media can’t help but portray as high-strung. That combination not only leads to a rather boring campaign, with debates between the nerd and the aw-shucks guy putting everyone to sleep, but it suppresses voter turnout.
But he’ll probably appoint good advisers, like Bush did right? Like these guys maybe.
The Daily Beast: Marco Rubio’s Slimy Pal Slithers Back.
As Sen. Marco Rubio emerges as a strong contender for the presidential nomination, the ghosts that have haunted his past are threatening to come back around for another pass.
It’s the scandal-ridden gang that won’t leave him alone: former Rep. David Rivera and former state Rep. Ralph Arza, who have been allies with Rubio since their political infancies, are both individuals with controversial pasts. Rivera has been under investigation as the alleged mastermind of a campaign finance scheme, and Arza was forced to resign from the Florida legislature in 2006 following two felony charges related to leaving a racial slur on a fellow representative’s voice mail.
The cloud of impropriety that hangs around Rivera and Arza should be noxious to a rising campaign with its eye on the White House. But both Arza and Rivera were spotted among other Rubio supporters as recently as the Republican presidential debates in Cleveland in August, three Republican sources tell The Daily Beast….
The two may not realize that they are a liability for the Rubio campaign—or they may simply not care. There are certainly figures within the Rubio orbit who think the two are a distraction, and were irritated by their presence in Cleveland, but feel there is little they can do to prevent these former lawmakers from supporting him.
“Both Arza and Rivera would create political perception problems for Rubio,” wrote Manuel Roig-Franzia in the 2012 biography,The Rise of Marco Rubio. “But he had a tendency to stand by them, sometimes to his own detriment.”
More at the link.
The Washington Post’s Philip Bump is a dissenter–he still thinks Trump may win in the end: Is Donald Trump 2016’s Mitt Romney?
As Bump writes,
The tricky thing at this moment is that even consolidation won’t do much for the one-time top tier of the GOP. If Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina and John Kasich and Chris Christie and George Pataki drop out, throwing their support to Marco Rubio, Rubio goes from 11 percent support in this new poll to … 28 percent, still one point behind Ben Carson.
That’s now, in this moment…maybe Rubio is actually doing better than this. But [the NBC/WSJ poll is] also comparing him to Ben Carson who, unlike Donald Trump after these 108 days, looks more like a 2012 boom-and-bust candidate. It’s feasible that this Carson surge will be met by a Carson slide, in the manner of Rick Perry and Herman Cain four years ago. Leaving the one candidate with a consistent level of support back at the front of the pack: one Donald Trump.
But, again: Political predictions in 2015 are a fool’s errand.
Only time will tell.
So….what do you think? What stories are you following today?
How low can they go? Only time will tell. We are still about four months away from the primaries, and it could get a whole lot worse. Recently passengers in the GOP clown car have been calling each other clowns and freaks, but none of them seem to see their own ridiculousness.
A few days ago, Donald Trump called Mario Rubio a “clown” at the Values Voters Summit, and got booed for it.
“I’ve been so nice to him. I’ve been so — but he’s in favor of immigration,” Trump said at the Value Voters Summit, before quickly moving on.
The audience had heard Rubio speak just two hours earlier and gave him several rounds of enthusiastic applause.
Yesterday, Rubio told NPR he didn’t want any part of Donald Trump’s “freak show.” CNN reports:
The two candidates have battled through sound bites for the past week, after essentially staying muted on each other for most of the campaign. As Rubio has enjoyed a marked boost in the polls since his performance in the second debate, Trump has gone after Rubio with insults including calling him a “kid” and dinging his voting record this year.
The Florida senator has willingly dished it back at Trump, calling him unserious and “touchy.” That continued in an NPR interview on Monday.
“I’m not interested in the back and forth to be a member or part of his freak show,” Rubio told NPR.
But despite that statement, Rubio quickly ticked off a list of Trump’s recent foibles, including mentioning a speech in South Carolina that had many empty seats and Trump getting booed at Friday’s Value Voters Summit when he called Rubio a “clown.”
“He is a very sensitive person,” Rubio said. “He doesn’t like to be criticized. He responds to criticism very poorly. … His poll numbers have taken a beating, and he was embarrassed on national television at the debate by Carly Fiorina and others.”
Also yesterday on CNN, Rand Paul said of Trump, “How could anyone in my party think this clown is fit to be president?.”
While out on the trail talking to reporters, the mogul picked Paul as one of the next candidates to drop out of the race, after two governors have left the race in recent weeks.
Paul called Trump a “clown” and said the attacks on his campaign were similar to the last presidential debate, when the mogul kicked off his first answer with a volley on Paul and a critique of his inclusion in the top-tier debate.
“It kind of reminds me of the funniest moment, I think, of the second debate, where out of nowhere, complete non sequitur, he starts going after me. And I guess it’s part of his bravado, his shtick,” Paul said. “I’m thinking, how did we get the race for the most important office in the free world to sink to such depths, and how could anyone in my party think that this clown is fit to be president?”
Paul said there’s no truth to Trump’s assertions that his campaign is having trouble fundraising. In fact, he said, his campaign is focused on organizing on the ground in key primary states and pleased with how that’s going.
As The National Memo notes, “A few years ago, that was the same stuff people used to say about Rand Paul.”
Of course Bobby Jindal and some of the other clowns have been attacking Trump as a clown for quite awhile. It’s the only way some of them can get any media attention. From The Guardian on September 10:
In a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, followed Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham and Rick Perry in targeting Trump, who has become the clear frontrunner in polls concerning the 17-strong GOP presidential field despite a succession of controversies over his remarks and policy positions.
In his speech, Jindal called Trump a “narcissist and egomaniac”, whom he said was “unserious and unstable”.
“Donald Trump is for Donald Trump,” Jindal said, adding in reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan: “Donald Trump is not for making America great. Donald Trump is for making Donald Trump great.”
Jindal even dipped into some of Trump’s trademark insult comedy, saying: “You may have recently seen that after Trump said the Bible is his favorite book. He couldn’t name a single Bible verse or passage that meant something to him.
“And we all know why, because it’s all just a show, and he hasn’t ever read the Bible. But you know why he hasn’t read the Bible? Because he’s not in it.”
He also avoided a commitment to supporting Trump if he were to secure the Republican nomination, saying “he cannot be our nominee”, and predicted that if Trump did become the Republican standard bearer in 2016, he would “implode” and “hand the election to Hillary Clinton.”
All very true, but much of it applies to Jindal as well. These guys are both horrifying and fascinating at the same time. I can hardly wait for the next GOP “debate.” Maybe the clowns will actually come to blows.
As Melissa McEwan writes, none of these fools running for the Republican nomination have any illusions about the voter base they are trying to appeal to–a bunch of poorly educated racists, nativists, gun nuts, and fetus fetishists who can be easily conned into voting for whatever the Koch brothers and Wall Street want. From Shakesville:
Rubio is merely the latest, and most brazen, of Republicans to talk about Trump as though he and his fetid campaign exist somehow outside the Republican mainstream, instead of being the uncensored id of their disgusting party that he really is.
As if Rubio doesn’t know the truth about his party. Of course he does. Every single time he dogwhistles “tradition” or “values” to his base, he’s evoking that truth. He, like Governor Bobby Jindal, is just mad that Trump has the spine and the indecency to be straightforward about what that truth really is.
If Rubio, Jindal, or any of their other fellow candidates for the US presidency are really operating under the misapprehension that their base isn’t voting for them because of fear, hatred, and bigotry, but because of smaller government and lower taxes, then they are too fucking ignorant to be trusted to tie their own shoes, no less elected to lead the nation.
Speaking of ignorant racists, George Zimmerman is back in the news. Isn’t he a perfect example of the kinds of people Republicans appeal to?
From The New York Daily News: George Zimmerman goes on depraved Twitter rant after retweeting picture of Trayvon Martin’s corpse.
George Zimmerman’s Twitter trolling has reached a new low.
Days after retweeting an image of Trayvon Martin’s corpse, Zimmerman went on a depraved Twitter tirade Monday afternoon, spewing racist rants and boasting about “mocking all you trolls.”
The man who shot and killed Martin three years ago also gave out an apparent stranger’s phone number, referring “all media inquiries” to the unsuspecting man.
“Gee..I sure hate offending people that have plotted and tried to kill me and my family…” Zimmerman wrote with one tweet, with a photo matching President Obama with Virginia murderer Vester Flanagan.
Zimmerman flew off the handle days after he seemed to boast about killing the 17-year-old Martin.
Over the weekend, an admirer tweeted him a photo of Martin’s body, which was used as evidence for Zimmerman’s trial. The user called Zimmerman a “one man army.”
Ugh. Why isn’t this disgusting man in prison?
I’m going to give you the rest of the news as headlines as links only, because I have to do some things for my mother this morning. Here we go:
Reuters via The National Memo: Biden Eligible For Democratic Primary Debate: If He Decides To Run.
Ezra Klein at Vox: A theory of how American politics is changing.
Politico: Schumer in talks with Ryan on major tax, infrastructure deal (Count me as not looking forward to Schumer leading the Senate Democrats.
Have I told you lately how much I hate Bill Maher?
Vanity Fair: A Terrifying Look at Our Eventual Trump Presidency.
David Weigel at The WaPo: Trump’s tax plan calms conservatives worried about a populist moment.
What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread, and have a great Tuesday!
As promised…I bring you the latest edition of The Woman in Red….(It has taken me days, in fact almost the last 24 hours has been straight on through.)
You can read the earlier issues at these links:
As before, click the image to see the full size…and then click on the image itself to enlarge the picture, otherwise you will not be able to read the captions.
So….here we go!
Woman in Red:
Debate, Election and the Shutdown…
The GOP’s Albescent-churian Candidate
Tonight is the Republican Presidential Candidate Debate…..
Let’s take you to the debate venue, shortly before the event is to begin……
Bloody hell, I am exhausted!
Hope you enjoyed this edition of The Woman in Red, and the introduction of the new arch nemesis…S.P.Ermand…The Sperm Man!
This is an open thread.
In this today’s Washington Post, Dana Millbank belatedly latches onto a very old meme–The Republican field is a clown car–in order to promote one of the clowns.
“If you can’t take a joke,” Lindsey Graham has said , “don’t run for president.”
Graham, a senator from South Carolina and one of umpteen Republicans running for president, can take a joke — which is why he appreciates the absurdity that is the GOP field. There are far too many candidates (so many that there are concerns they won’t all fit on a debate stage), and to gain attention they are juggling, tooting horns and blowing slide whistles like so many painted performers emerging from a clown car.
“I do bar mitzvahs, birthday parties, weddings, funerals — call me, I’ll come,” Graham told a crowd in New Hampshire last month. He said voters should ignore Hillary Clinton and “look to the 35 people running for president on the Republican side. And just shoot up among us until you get one of us out of the tree.”
But what if you are the joke? Just think, Graham could be the first obviously closeted gay man to win the nomination of the party that hates gays and wants them to be second class citizens.
Ted Cruz tried for his 15 minutes of fame by holding the first announcement. Marco Rubio drew thousands to Miami’s Freedom Tower. Mike Huckabee brought in aging crooner Tony Orlando but was easily eclipsed by Ben Carson, who had a musical extravaganza and a video putting the candidate in the company of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.
Former New York governor George Pataki, perhaps the smallest of the GOP Lilliputians, announced on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” last week that . . . he will make his announcement on May 28. Donald Trump announced over the weekend that he would make an announcement in June and that “the announcement is going to surprise a lot of people.”
It would probably surprise a lot of people if Trump said something that made sense.
Sigh . . . .
Also in this morning’s WaPo, Bobby Jindal hints that he too will have an important announcement soon: Bobby Jindal launches presidential exploratory committee.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) on Monday formally launched a presidential exploratory committee, the clearest indication yet that he is gearing up for a White House run.
“For some time now, my wife Supriya and I have been thinking and praying about whether to run for the Presidency of our great nation,” Jindal said in a statement. “If I run, my candidacy will be based on the idea that the American people are ready to try a dramatically different direction. Not a course correction, but a dramatically different path.”
The Louisiana Republican has made frequent visits to key early voting states in recent months, testing a message centered on the need to “restore the American Dream,” which he says President Obama’s “weak leadership” has diminished. But despite his experience as governor and a compelling personal background as the American-born son of Indian immigrants, Jindal has struggled to make an impact in national polls of potential Republican candidates.
If Jindal does anything “dramatically different,” I’d be stunned. But he’ll just be peddling the usual Koch brothers gibberish to very small audiences.
What are the other clown car occupants up to?
Rick Sanatorum has been busy either grossly misinterpreting or blatantly lying about a book he supposedly read.
Last week, former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum called men who father children with multiple women “sexual predators.”
When making his argument to the socially-conservative Cornerstone organization in New Hampshire, Santorum cited statistics on marriage from Harvard professor Robert Putnam’s book, Our Kids.
“Another new statistic just came out in his book. A majority of children being born out of wedlock today in America are born in families where the father is in the home. But they’re not married,” said Santorum. “So they are born to cohabiting couples. So the majority of children born out of wedlock are born to cohabiting couples. And what does Putnam say about these? They stuck to them longitudinally, they never get married. Let me use that term, never, like one or two percent ever get married.
“And he compared it when he was growing up in the 1950s and when children were conceived out of wedlock, what happened in the 1950s,” added Santorum. “We all know what happened in the 1950s and here is the amazing thing, this is Putnam saying this, 80 plus percent of these marriages succeeded.
“And children were raised in stable homes. Now these fathers leave the home and not just father children with that particular women, they father a child with another women, and another and another. We have created predators, sexual predators particularly where, again, Putnam—low income America.”
Here’s what Putnam had to say about Santorum’s comments.
“I’m a progressive and I think the evidence is that first of all, there has been a collapse in the working family class family, black and white, and that’s bad for kids,” Putnam said responding to Santorum in a speech to promote his book last week.
Putnam said Santorum misinterpreted what he was saying and took advantage of “the fact I was trying to be open.”
“But there is a presidential candidate, who yesterday quoted me as saying therefore—he’s quoted me as saying all black men are sexual predators. I’m not going to say who it is but what I’m trying to say is, he’s a conservative and he took what I was saying and sort of so misinterpreted it that it’s nothing like—it’s just isn’t even in the universe of what I said. But that’s an example of how at least this one guy was in effect taking advantage of the fact that I was trying to be open. He says ‘isn’t it amazing that this liberal’, actually he said ‘this extreme leftist at Harvard acknowledges that blah, blah, blah.’”
Another clown car occupant, Rand Paul wants to eliminate the Department of Education (Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee do too). Think Progress explains: What Would Actually Happen If Rand Paul Eliminated The Department Of Education. According to TP,
We wouldn’t have a federal department to administer Pell Grants to students….
There wouldn’t be any oversight over states when they break civil rights laws….
There wouldn’t be a department to check on rampant inequality between low-income school districts and wealthy districts.
We would have inconsistent education data, as the quality of data would vary among the states….
There would be more gender discrimination within schools….
There would be no way to hold schools accountable for the funds they receive.
Of course for the GOP clowns, those are goals that should be wholeheartedly supported.
Jeb Bush stumbled out the block and has continued to stumble and stagger on his path to an as-yet unannounced presidential candidacy. Here’s the latest from Reuters, via Yahoo News: Jeb Bush sees no constitutional right to gay marriage.
(Reuters) – Republican Jeb Bush said in a weekend radio interview that he does not believe the Constitution grants a right to gay marriage, emphasizing his support for “traditional marriage.”
The Supreme Court is expected by the end of June to make a landmark ruling that could make gay marriage the law of the land or return the decision to individual states.
“It’s at the core of the Catholic faith and to imagine how we are going to succeed in our country unless we have committed family life, (a) committed child-centered family system, is hard to imagine,” Bush told the Christian Broadcasting Network show, “The Brody File, in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
“So, irrespective of the Supreme Court ruling because they are going to decide whatever they decide – I don’t know what they are going to do – we need to be stalwart supporters of traditional marriage,” said Bush, who converted to Catholicism 20 years ago….
Bush also said in the radio interview that Christian business owners should be able to refuse, “if it’s based on a religious belief,” to provide services to same-sex couples.
But at Slate, Mark Joseph Stern notes that: Jeb Bush Accidentally Made a Brilliant Argument Against Anti-Gay “Religious Liberty” Laws.
Jeb Bush has an odd conception of liberty. As governor of Florida, Bush strongly opposed same-sex marriage, preferring to force committed gay couples to live as legal strangers with no ability to formally adopt their own children. As his presidential campaign warms up, though, Bush has taken a selectively expansive view of liberty.According to Bush, anti-gay business owners should have a legal right to refuse service to same-sex couples seeking to celebrate their relationship.
Bush’s support for anti-gay “religious liberty” laws are no surprise—unless you happen to have believed that silly BuzzFeed report that he would be “2016’s gay-friendly Republican.” What is surprising is that Bush framed his endorsement of such laws in a way that beautifully illustrates exactly why the usual argument for such laws is so fatuous. Take a look at his comment:
A big country, a tolerant country, ought to be able to figure out the difference between discriminating against someone because of their sexual orientation and not forcing someone to participate in a wedding that they find goes against their moral beliefs. This should not be that complicated. Gosh, it is right now.
At bottom, Bush is arguing that the law should differentiate between identity and conduct. He believes the state may protect gays from discrimination because they’re gay (identity), but not because they’re celebrating a gay relationship (conduct). Unfortunately for Bush, this argument fails quite spectacularly in the wedding context, because homosexuality is an identity defined by its conduct. To be gay is to be attracted to, and maybe marry, someone of the same sex. There is no more fundamental way to discriminate against a gay person than to refuse to serve them based on the fact that they are marrying someone of the same sex.
Koch brothers favorite Scott Walker is having some not-so-funny (from his point of view) problems. He has been a target of corruption investigations for the past couple of years. Now this from The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Records indicate Scott Walker was copied on letter promising loan to donor.
Madison — State records say that Gov. Scott Walker received a copy of a 2011 letter pledging a $500,000 taxpayer loan to a now-defunct Milwaukee construction company headed by a Walker donor, seemingly contradicting statements by the governor and his aides that he was not aware of the award.
A spokeswoman for Walker said that, in spite of the records, a copy of the letter from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. was never delivered to the governor’s office.
The Sept. 9, 2011, letter from Paul Jadin, WEDC’s chief executive officer at the time, was sent to William Minahan, owner of Building Committee Inc., a company that is now being sued by WEDC for defaulting on the unsecured loan without delivering the promised project and the jobs it was supposed to create.
Jadin said in his letter of intent that he was writing “on behalf of Governor Scott Walker” and noted “cc: Scott Walker, Governor” at the bottom.
Walker’s top cabinet appointee, then Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, urged WEDC officials to provide the loan, and Walker’s then-chief of staff Keith Gilkes attended an initial meeting on it, according to records provided to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by the Walker administration.
“In closing Governor Walker and I are firmly committed to doing everything possible to expedite the processing and awarding of this incentive award,” Jadin wrote in the letter.
Read the details at the link.
And from the La Crosse Tribune: Hours after damning audit, Scott Walker calls off WEDC-WHEDA merger.
Gov. Scott Walker has cancelled a planned merger of two economic development agencies after a new audit said Walker’s job-creating entity failed to follow statutes or its own policies when making financial awards.
The audit released Friday also says the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. failed to meet all statutory requirements related to program oversight and that staff “did not consistently comply with policies established by WEDC’s own governing board” which is chaired by Walker.
The audit comes as Walker had been calling for a merger of WEDC and WHEDA, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.
Within hours of the audit release, Walker issued a statement calling for that merger to be removed from the state budget along with a merger of two other state agencies.
“After hearing concerns from legislators, stakeholders, and the WHEDA and WEDC boards, we asked legislators to remove the proposed agency mergers from the state budget and we asked the bill authors to not move forward with the proposed separate legislation,” Walker said.
Walker also had proposed a merger of the Department of Financial Institutions and the Department of Safety and Professional Services into one regulatory agency. That merger is also cancelled, he said.
Wisconsin Democrats are gloating . . .
“While Scott Walker has completely abandoned Wisconsin to advance his presidential ambitions the continued incompetence and ineptitude at his Economic Disaster Corporation is bordering on criminal negligence at this point,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said in a statement.
That’s all the clown car news I have room for today. What else is happening?
The 2016 primaries are nearly a year away, and yet it’s beginning to feel as if the campaign has already begun. As Pat J said yesterday, following Bette Davis, “fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!” At least we finally have something to be excited about.
Today big media has slowed down its attacks on Hillary in order to drool over newly announced candidate Marco Rubio.
Here’s the Washington Post’s adoring introduction to the new media darling, written by Mary Jordan.
You can see it in his bouncing leg, his restless energy, his rapid-fire answers. Marco Rubio wants things now, now, now.
He has just left the Senate floor, where he ripped President Obama’s Israel policy, and now, seated in his grand Capitol Hill office, he dives headlong into explaining why, at just 43, he is ready to run for president.
“I have never understood that ‘wait your turn,’ ” logic, the Florida Republican says. “The presidency is not like a bakery, where you take a number and wait for it to be called. You’re either compelled to run for it because you believe it’s the best place to serve your country” or you stay out of the race.
Never mind that his mentor, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, 62, is gearing up to run, too. Or that he has not even finished his first term as senator. Or that the GOP has a long tradition of picking older presidential nominees who have paid their dues.
Rubio is a man in a hurry, whose dizzying political ascent — he has never lost a race — is a testament to his quickness to spot openings and go for them. “If you told me seven or eight years ago I would be in the Senate, I wouldn’t believe it,” Rubio says. “Sometimes opportunities come up that you could never have anticipated.”
More Rubio love at the link. Be sure to have your barf bag close at hand.
Should Rubio actually get the GOP nod, voters will likely see a lot of this embarrassing video of the young “man in a hurry” giving the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address in 2013.
And here’s The New York Times’ glowing profile of the first term Senator, written by Ashley Parker and Jonathan Martin.
MIAMI — Senator Marco Rubio, the 43-year-old son of Cuban immigrants, on Monday declared that it was time for his generation to lead the country, portraying himself as the youthful future of a Republican Party that has struggled to connect with an increasingly diverse electorate.
Formally declaring his candidacy for president, Mr. Rubio entered a contest so far dominated by two aging American political dynasties — the Bushes and the Clintons — and warned Republicans and Democrats alike that it was time to start fresh.
“The time has come for our generation to lead the way towards a new American century,” he said.
“Before us now is the opportunity to author the greatest chapter yet in the amazing story of America,” Mr. Rubio told hundreds of supporters who crowded the lobby of the Freedom Tower, a historic building where many Cuban émigrés were processed on their arrival in the United States. “But we can’t do that by going back to the leaders and ideas of the past.”
Ironically, Rubio and his party actually do want to go back to the past–way back to the 19th Century. A Rubio presidency would mean rolling back women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigration reform, and handing Wall Street the keys to the White House. But never mind that. He’s a fresh face with surface charm.
It certainly sounds like Rubio has been studying then Senator Obama’s campaign for the presidency in 2008. But Rubio says he’s way more experienced than Obama was then.
Kasie Hunt writes at MSNBC:
MIAMI –Presidential candidate Marco Rubio says that he has more experience than President Barack Obama did when he won the White House in 2008, even though both launched presidential campaigns as first term senators.
“There are some significant differences between his biography and mine,” Rubio told msnbc in an interview early Tuesday morning before flying to Washington to attend a congressional hearing on Iran. “We both served in the state legislatures, he as a back-bencher in the minority, me as the Speaker of House in the third-largest state in the country.”
He pointed out he will have served six full years in the Senate if he’s elected in 2016; President Obama had served four years when he was elected in 2008.
Okay . . . . Not all that impressive though; and Obama was a hell of a lot more well known around the country in 2008 than Rubio is now. As Matthew Yglesias wrote at Vox yesterday, that’s really the problem with the entire GOP field–most normal Americans don’t know who they are. On the other hand it would be difficult to find an average vote who doesn’t know quite a bit about Hillary Clinton.
There were a few dissenting voices on Rubio at smaller media outlets. At The New Republic, Brian Beutler has a devastating piece on Rubio.
Senator Marco Rubio…was supposed to lead a GOP breakaway faction in support of comprehensive immigration reform, but was unable to persuade House Republicans to ignore the nativist right, and the whole thing blew up in his face. In regrouping, he’s determined that the key to restoring Republican viability in presidential elections is to woo middle class voters with fiscal policies that challenge conservative orthodoxy.
His new basic insight is correct. The GOP’s obsession with distributing resources up the income scale is the single biggest factor impeding it from reaching new constituencies, both because it reflects unpopular values and because it makes them unable to address emerging national needs that require spending money.
Well, we all know that isn’t going to become Republican policy, and Rubio has already demonstrated that he won’t stand up for policies the party leaders dislike.
If Rubio were both serious and talented enough to move his party away from its most inhibiting orthodoxy, in defiance of those donors, his candidacy would represent a watershed. His appeal to constituencies outside of the GOP base would be both sincere and persuasive.
But Rubio is not that politician. He is no likelier to succeed at persuading Republican supply-siders to reimagine their fiscal priorities than he was at persuading nativists to support a citizenship guarantee for unauthorized immigrants. In fact, nobody understands the obstacles facing Marco Rubio better than Marco Rubio. But rather than abandon his reformist pretensions, or advance them knowing he will ultimately lose, Rubio has chosen to claim the mantle of reform and surrender to the right simultaneously—to make promises to nontraditional voters he knows he can’t keep. My colleague Danny Vinik proposes that Rubio wants to “improve the lives of poor Americans” but he must “tailor [his] solutions to gain substantial support in the GOP, and those compromises would cause more harm to the poor.” I think this makes Rubio the most disingenuous candidate in the field.
More good insights at the link.
Here’s Jonathan Chait on Rubio:
The presidential election is still a year and a half away, but Rubio’s campaign has already gone through three distinct stages. In the immediate wake of their 2012 debacle, Republican elites glommed onto Rubio as the cure for their demographic disease. Days after the election, Republican Über-pundit Charles Krauthammerostentantiously laid his hands upon the young, telegenic senator as the party’s new avatar. “Marco Rubio. So hot right now,” tweeted John Boehner’s press secretary. By the end of 2013, Rubio had crashed and burned. A conservative revolt forced him to repudiate the immigration reform plan he had carefully built. He desperately glommed on to the anti-Obamacare shutdown, alienating party elites without winning over the activists. But now Rubio has rebuilt his campaign and is showing signs of life, by repositioning himself to the right and eliminating his vulnerabilities.
The first and most dramatic such move was Rubio’s renunciation of immigration reform. Having championed a bipartisan plan for comprehensive reform, Rubio now insists that border security must come first. Fervent restrictionists may not fully trust his sincerity, but Rubio’s maneuver follows almost exactly the same script of apostasy and penance than John McCain used in 2008 to neutralize the issue.
The bigger shift has come on economic policy. Last year, Rubio positioned himself as a “reform conservative” who aspired to aim tax cuts at middle-class families rather than the rich. Instead, when he unveiled the plan, it consisted of a massive, debt-financed tax cut that would give its greatest benefit to the rich, not just in absolute terms, but also as a percentage of their income. Even that plan proved to be too stingy for Republican plutocrats, so Rubio revised his plan to make it far friendlier to the rich. The newest version took his old plan and added complete elimination of all taxes on inherited estates, capital gains, and interest income. Grover Norquist, guardian of the party’s anti-tax absolutism, cooed his approval.
Rubio might be a bigger flip-flopper than Mitt Romney. But of course the corporate media fails to notice anything except the surface.
Fortunately for Rubio, much of the political media has covered his ideas as though they represent an important break from his party’s past. “Rubio appears to be hoping his plan will appeal to Republican voters concerned about rising economic inequality and tired of getting beaten up in the general election over plans that Democrats say would hand massive tax cuts to the rich at the expense of the middle class,” reports Politico.
This is not remotely accurate. Rubio’s original plan would have cut taxes by $2.4 trillion over a decade, making it quite similar to George W. Bush’s regressive, debt-financed tax-cut plan. It is true that Rubio would only cut the top tax rate to 35 percent, not as low as the fondest supply-side dreams would have it. But 35 percent would restore the Bush-era tax rate for the highest income earners. What’s more, Rubio’s elimination of the estate, interest, dividends, and capital gains taxes would go far beyond the Bush administration’s most plutocratic dreams. It is also true that Rubio plans to cut taxes for some middle-class families. But obviously that lost revenue has trade-offs, which he has failed to specify. The massive revenue hit would require very large cuts to existing programs. Given his party’s propensity to aim the bulk of its tax-cutting at the programs that direct their biggest benefits to Americans of modest incomes, there is no plausible way to imagine Rubio’s plan would do anything but engineer a massive upward redistribution of resources.
Read the rest at New York Magazine.
Here’s Chait on Hillary Clinton: Why Hillary Clinton Is Probably Going to Win the 2016 Election.
Unless the economy goes into a recession over the next year and a half, Hillary Clinton is probably going to win the presidential election. The United States has polarized into stable voting blocs, and the Democratic bloc is a bit larger and growing at a faster rate.
Of course, not everybody who follows politics professionally believes this. Many pundits feel the Democrats’ advantage in presidential elections has disappeared, or never existed. “The 2016 campaign is starting on level ground,” argues David Brooks, echoing a similar analysis by John Judis. But the evidence for this is quite slim, and a closer look suggests instead that something serious would have to change in order to prevent a Clinton victory. Here are the basic reasons why Clinton should be considered a presumptive favorite…
Check out Chait’s reasoning at the link.
So . . . What else is happening? Please posts your thoughts on this post and your links to recommended reads in the comment thread.