Lundi Gras Reads

Proteus floatSo, we’re headed into Mardi Gras 2016 down here in New Orleans.  Some big football game in some other city just wrapped up the season.  New Hampshire has its first in the country presidential primary tomorrow and somewhere out there Marco Rubio is having a terrible very bad day!  Yasssssss!!!  Oh, and Happy Year of the Male Fire Monkey!!! Tashi Losar! This is a very eventful lunar period in many ways.

Lundi Gras is the traditional resting day for us before the big day. My plans include making groceries at Rouse’s and picking up dog food at Bark Market. The Kings of Rex and Zulu will appear today. Today there is one parade. It’s the Krewe of Proteus which was founded in 1882.  Their floats are quite historical as they use the original chassis and keep many of their traditional designs.

The Krewe of Proteus parade is based on Egyptian mythology. Proteus was the son of Poseidon, herded Poseidon’s seals, the great bull seal at the center of the harem. He can tell the future, change his shape and will only answer to someone who can capture him.

The images today are historical drawings of old floats and costumes from Proteus.

Here’s some more information on Proteus from the NOLA History Guy.  One of the things he mentions is the Ordinance passed by the City Council to get Krewes to be more racially diverse.  The New Orleans Celebration does have some really deep roots in racism as well as class.

The Council’s unanimous vote came after leaders of six prominent, mostly white parade clubs had pledged to begin trying to integrate “racially and ethnically” by 1993.

Despite objections from civil rights advocates, the Council followed the recommendation of a committee appointed by Mayor Sidney Barthelemy to study the issue. The committee began its deliberations during the furor that arose after the law was proposed last fall by Councilwoman Dorothy Mae Taylor, who is black.

As passed by the Council in December, the ordinance, which takes effect in 1994, would have denied parade and liquor permits to any Carnival clubs, called krewes, that had membership barriers based on “race, creed, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex or sexual orientation, age, physical condition or disability.”

Krewes would have had the burden of proving they did not discriminate, and leaders of clubs found to be in violation would have been subject to a $300 fine and up to five months in jail. Watered Down Twice

In February, the Council deleted the jail-sentence provision and removed the burden of proof from the clubs, placing it instead on their accusers.

On Thursday the Council allowed krewes to remain all-male or all-female and softened enforcement of the law. The city now must dismiss any discrimination complaint against a krewe if the club submits an affidavit pledging that it does not discriminate. Change Called ‘Absurd’

If you’d like to read more on this, I suggest  Jame’s Gills’ Book Lords of Misrule: Mardi Gras and the Politics of Race in New Orleans. I read it last year and it was quite enlightening.

I’ve been thinking about these things because of Beyonce and the release of her new video Formation which is fierce by any standard09oc-archives-1jpg-6b58d99c866504f9.  She’s gone full throttle social justice advocate for women, girls, and African Americans. It’s got slaps at the response to Katrina and a major nod to BLM.  It openly celebrates female sexuality too. She sang at that football game whose name I just can’t quite recall.  Responses to both video and performance include a plethora of items that show our country just cannot get beyond the racial divide. Panther’s quarterback Cam Newton and Beyonce have both been the subject of some rather nasty Twitters and such.

Members of the National Sheriffs’ Association meeting in Washington turned their backs on Beyonce during a Super Bowl halftime party, angered the NFL allowed her to sing a song they consider anti-police.

The Association told Secrets that when Beyonce performed a snippet of her hit “Formation,” the sheriffs holding their annual legislative meeting at the J.W. Marriott turned off the volume and video.

The video is marvelously controversial and includes scenes of New Orleans and the wonderful voice of our own Queen Diva Big Freedia.   You can believe the internet is alive with chatter.

Dee: Beyoncé has been accused of not caring enough about Black Lives Matter and of being a bad feminist (or not one at all); on “Formation,” she raises two middle fingers to all sides of her Illuminati-truthing haters with a bold intersection of the two fights. She is a black feminist, full stop. This is a video made for women — she speaks directly to “ladies” in the song’s blazing call to action — and it is clear she is done living for the will and want of men (and has been for a minute, actually). She’s “so possessive” of Jay Z’s love and his power that she wears his “Roc necklaces.” (Still, Hov’s got the hottest chick in the game wearing his chain.) She won’t stand by and watch young black women snatch their noses so far that they can no longer take pride in their Jackson 5 nostrils.

This is a new negro spiritual hymn, one that hits me deeper than Kendrick’s “Alright,” because every look, every lyric, every outfit, every moment is a statement of Black Girl Magic. Of course, I’m moved by that fly little black boy in a hoodie who joyfully dances in front of a barricade of white cops in riot gear. But I’m politically inspired when Beyoncé gives the Black Power salute atop a New Orleans cop car. Am I reaching to call this a protest song? I just can’t get “Mississippi Goddam” out of my head when I see it.

Then, there’s the Cam  “controversy”.   I admit to seeing none of it but being caught in the Twitterstorm that followed.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton showed his personality all season with his dabbin’ and dancing.

Many loved him for it.

Some criticized him for it.

The 2015 league MVP showed his personality again after Sunday night’s 24-10 loss to Denver in Super Bowl 50 with short answers and an abrupt exit from his postgame news conference.

It wasn’t pretty. The player known for his infectious smile and designer attire answered seven questions with a frown and black hoodie pulled over his head.

It’ll get Newton more criticism than love.

But it was raw emotion just like his dabbin’.

Newton hates to lose, and he wears that emotion on his sleeve as boldly as he wore those Versace zebra-print pants on the trip to California.

Continue reading that article and you’ll see that Cam’s labelled as having “childlike behavior”.  Now the best I can be is a white ally but that description is not what I’d imagine one should say about a grown black f1b82a2fef3a2ee2f0dd92581a464875man who even thought he makes that much money basically tossing balls around in a game. With so much shit coming down in the world and this country, you would think that folks could be more upset by the level of child poverty in the country, the poisoning of children in a poor community by a state government, or say sending drone attacks down on a village.  But, no, we get all excited about a game and some artistic expression. And, it variably turns into a white denial of institutional racism on parade.

Or, you could be like me and be genuinely upset by assholes running to be the leader of the Free World like the aforementioned Marco Rubio.  I really hope the man has a horrid week because THIS. I want his goose cooked until its cinder.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) promised on Sunday that he would sign an abortion ban as president that provided exceptions for rape even though he preferred for pregnant victims to have their rapists’ babies.

Following a Saturday night’s Republican Presidential Debate on ABC News, host George Stephanopoulos noted during a Sunday interview that Rubio had been hammered for his belief that abortion was wrong even in cases of rape or incest.

“Abortion to me is not a political issue,” Rubio insisted. “It’s a human rights issue. And so, if [Jeb Bush] wants to make it a political issue, that’s his right. For me, it’s not.”

“I do require an exception for life of the mother because I’m pro-life,” he continued. “Number two, as I’ve said, if they pass a law in Congress that has exceptions, I’ll sign it. Because I want to save lives.”

“What do you say to that mom when you look her in the eye?” the ABC host wondered.

“It’s a terrible situation,” Rubio replied. “I mean, a crisis pregnancy, especially as a result of something as horrifying as that, I’m not telling you it’s easy. I’m not here saying it’s an easy choice. It’s a horrifying thing that you’ve just described.”

“I get it,” he added. “I really do. And that’s why this issue is so difficult. But I believe a human being, an unborn child has a right to live, irrespective of the circumstances of which they were conceived. And I know that the majority of Americans don’t agree with me on that.”

“And that’s why any law that passed will almost certainly have exceptions. And I’ll sign it.”

ed36c3a2d6a677d0aac1ad3ef3729a6eThat’s right neighborly of him.

Those of you that actually watched the debate with us on Saturday night know that Chris Christie went after Rubio with a relish and Rubio folded like an empty sack of flour.  We’ve frequently talked about Rubio’s penchant for sounding like he’s speaking from memorized 3×5 index cards.  You know, the kind that they used in high school bates backed in the day. Christie nailed him on it and all Rubio did was repeat the same thing over about 4 times.   The polls have taken a turn. Rubio is no longer the flavor of the month and the Twitter and Gifs have not been kind either.

An internal poll conducted on Sunday suggests that Marco Rubio’s fumbled debate performance has damaged his prospects heading into the New Hampshire primary.

The poll, conducted by the pro-John Kasich New Day for America Super PAC, shows Rubio plummeting to fourth place in the primary here, with 10 percent of the vote. Most of the polling conducted in the immediate days before the debate showed Rubio in second place.

The survey, which was based on phone calls to 500 likely voters (margin of error plus or minus 3 percent), was conducted Sunday, the day following the latest Republican debate. Rubio came under scathing attack from Chris Christie, who cast the first term Florida senator as too unready, ambitious, and superficial to occupy the Oval Office.

Donald Trump holds a wide lead in the survey, receiving 35 percent. He more than doubles runner-up Kasich, who has 15 percent. In third is Jeb Bush, with 13 percent. Behind Rubio in fifth and sixth place, respectively, are Christie and Ted Cruz. Both receive 8 percent.

The results are welcome news for Kasich and Bush, both of whom have made New Hampshire the centerpiece of the primary campaigns. Strong performances on Tuesday will give them reason to fight on to the South Carolina primary, which will be held Feb. 20.

So, what’s more important in the scheme of things?  A football game, a video, the potential return of another Bush?  Oh, and of course, Rubio’s a Republican so it’s the media’s fault for emphasizing that he repeated10562275-large the same damned thing about Obama 4 times.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a fundraising email Monday that passed off New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) attacks on the freshman senator’s canned talking points as a controversy ginned up by the media.

The email said the media pounced on the Rubio campaign’s “building momentum” by making hay out of the fact that the senator “pointed out a few times” during Saturday’s Republican presidential debate “that President Obama has been very deliberate about achieving his bad policies.”

“This isn’t the first time the media has tried to distract people,” the email read. “We can’t afford to let the media get away with this.”

Rubio had said some variation of the line, “Barack Obama is undertaking an effort to change this country, to make America more like the rest of the world,” four times during the debate. Christie repeatedly attacked Rubio’s repetition on the stage, calling the Obama line the senator’s “memorized 25-second speech.”

In the fundraising email, which didn’t mention Christie, Rubio said he would stick with the language.

Good luck with that.

If I wanted to give you all a headache, I’d start in on how horrible MoDo was this weekend.  But, BNR has done it for me so I’ll leave it at that.

Dowd is the leading purveyor of Rovian anti-Hillary memes, sophisticated negative character frames crafted in conservative oppo shops to undermine Hillary’s candidacy. Dowd believes that as a woman, she is immune from claims of sexism, so her Hillary-bashing screeds are bursting at the seams with blatantly sexist language, lies and innuendo.

Her latest column includes the following verbatim phrases:

  • Hillary still has not learned the art of seduction on stage
  • Overplays her feminist hand
  • Feels too competitive with her husband
  • Bill could tell her not to shout her way through rallies, adding to her authenticity problem
  • Her campaign cries sexism too often
  • Hillary huffily said…
  • And she’s still not likable enough for the young women who were supposed to carry her forward as a Joan of Arc.
  • With Hillary, there are three things [that make her stupid]: sex, money and the need for secrecy.
  • Nixonian obsession with secrecy by the woman who was once an idealistic lawyer
  • Hillary was there sucking at the teat
  • She tried to drag in others to excuse her own ethically lax behavior

Dowd’s hate masquerading as an editorial is nothing new. She’s been doing this for two decades. But she got sloppy this time, slipping in a line accusing America’s first African American president of “using race” to get elected:

Then there’s the pile on the Big Dawg for a few things he said in a speech and what Madeline Albright said in a speech and what Gloria Steinem said in a speech. Yes, BernieBros, the Clintons control the media narrative. You can sure tell it by the nasty ass coverage of all this including the ginning up of your basic catfight.

Nearly defeated in Iowa, trailing in New Hampshire, and worried about everywhere else,Hillary Clinton’s campaign is bringing out the big guns, releasing political kraken Bill Clinton and summoning feminist icons Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright to reclaim young female voters who have flocked to Bernie Sanders.

In a sign that the formerly inevitable nominee is growing anxious, Bill went all-out against Sanders during a speech Sunday in New Hampshire that sparingly mentioned the Vermont senator by name, but implied that he was a hypocrite whose ideals were untethered to reality. “When you’re making a revolution, you can’t be too careful with the facts,” he sniped, according to The New York Times. But Bill didn’t stop there, accusing the Sanders campaign of fomenting the alleged “Bernie Bro” phenomenon, described by Politicoas a group “who harass female Clinton supporters online and accuse them of ‘voting with their vagina’ and call them ‘bitches.’” Condemning what he called “vicious trolling,” Bill said the attacks on his wife are “literally too profane … not to mention sexist.” (Sanders has denounced any sexism among the ranks of his supporters, saying misogyny has no place in his campaign.)

But Bill was not alone in his unusually harsh words for Sanders and his supporters. The Clinton campaign also tapped Steinem and Albright, two prominent, glass-ceiling-shattering women, to join in chastising young female voters for not supporting one of their own. “We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done,” Albright said Saturday during a Hillary event, according to The New York Times. “It’s not done. There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!” Steinem, never one to mince words, suggested Friday on Real Time with Bill Maher that young women are supporting Sanders’s campaign because “the boys are with Bernie.” Steinem and Albright both received significant backlash for their comments, with the Times reporting that some young women were insulted by the suggestion that they were “misinformed and stupid” for not voting along gendered lines.

The series of seemingly coordinated moves underscores how much Clinton, who made women’s rights a core mission during her time as secretary of state, has stumbled with female voters. Recent polls suggestthat women under 35 overwhelmingly prefer Sanders by a 20-point margin, citing their disapproval of Clinton’s Wall Street ties and her less progressive positions on economic problems like student debt and a weak job market for entry-level positions. Hillary hasn’t recovered well from these attacks, recently refusing to release transcripts of her speeches to large banks and organizations—for which she received compensation well into the six figures—unless everyone else “who’s ever given a speech to any private group under any circumstances” does so as well.

Since this is getting long, I’m going to let you add the links to the criticism for all that if you want along with your thoughts.  Or, we can talk about what kind of challenges we have in this country and who is the best to deal with them.

Meanwhile, did you know there’s a video with a black woman suggesting that the police should stop killing unarmed black people and that a black quarterback with his own kind’ve style upset reporters by leaving a presser early?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: He’s very fierce…

Ted Cruz is anxious to move on to New Hampshire.

Although I doubt Teddy Boy would be so “eager” to follow.

Yeah, we all are aware of the results of this week’s Iowa Republican caucuses. Don’t you wonder what will happen next?
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As for what is going to happen to Hillary and Bernie?

 

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This is an open thread.

 

 


Iowa Caucus Monday Reads

Let the Games Begin!!!

Waverly_iowaToday are the Iowa Caucuses that will likely make or break a lot of the more iffy candidates hanging on to the slim hope that somebody takes them seriously.  Iowa first is a long tradition with some interesting twists. Some of the things that I learned so far in the 2016 silly season include the idea of a “kiddie table” debate and that pundits take Uber and that all those Iowa Uber drivers seem to be the source of anecdotal evidence on voting patterns.

This Iowa Caucus is not the Iowa Caucus of my parents. My father was the Ford Dealer in Council Bluffs, Iowa for over 25 years.  They voted in the same elementary school where I practiced “duck and cover” during the Cuban Missile Crisis and saw my second grade teacher Miss Irma Long cry as she announced we’d be sent home because our President, Mr. Kennedy, had been shot in Texas.  Most of the candidates of the ilk we have today would’ve been a really odd sight on the stump back then.

I can only imagine what my parents and their friends would say if this crazy looking man from Northern Louisiana showed up looking as he does–which is like someone who’s been lost on an island for years ranting crazily from too much sun–to rally for a candidate. But, the same group of Baptists that harassed one of my father’s clerks for doing laundry on Sunday because they saw the steam coming out of the dryer vent is probably uber excited about Ted Cruz and the duckstasy of religious fever.  They want to holy roll all gay marriage supporters off the planet, I guess.

While stumping in Iowa for Ted Cruz on Sunday, “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson declared that gay marriage is a sign of growing “depravity” and “perversion” in America.

Robertson, notorious for his racist and anti-gay remarks, said of marriage equality: “It is evil, it’s wicked, it’s sinful and they want us to swallow it.”

“We have to run this bunch out of Washington D.C.,” Robertson said. “We have to rid the earth of them. Get them out of there.”

Cruz followed Robertson on stage, calling the reality TV star “a joyful, cheerful, unapologetic voice of truth.”

Cruz is in hot water for a number of things.  First, there are many they are still not convinced he meets the “natural born” qualification stated in the Constitution and Donald Trump mentions it every chance he can.  Additionally, Cruz has used a push piece that has come under criticism by the Iowa Attorney General. The Strump is making a lot out of Cruz’s possibly illegal mailer.2_0.685694001389844425_osage_iowa

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump condemned mailers sent by Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential campaign over the weekend, which implied Iowa voters had violated election law.

The mailer, which uses social pressure to urge potential voters to the polls, “grades” Iowa voters on their voting history — a practice not done by the state.

“I think it’s one of the most disgraceful things I have seen in politics,” Trump told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Sunday’s “Hardball.” “When you say violation, and then they’re giving you F’s for your voting records and they’re saying immediately come and vote. I think it’s one of the most horrible things that I have seen in politics.”

You can follow the link to TPM to see an example of the mailer.  Meanwhile, every time Trump uses music, another musician tells him to cut it out.  This time it’s Adele.

The Republican presidential candidate, whose slogan is “Make America great again”, has recently been playing Adele’s hit Rolling In The Deep as his “warm-up” music.

“Adele has not given permission for her music to be used for any political campaigning,” her spokesman confirmed.

It is not the first time Trump has been criticised for appropriating pop songs.

Lawyers for Aerosmith star Steven Tyler sent Trump’s campaign a cease-and-desist letter last year, after the politician played the band’s hit single Dream On at numerous rallies around the US.

The letter said Trump’s use of the song gave “a false impression” he endorsed Mr Trump’s presidential bid.

Trump responded on Twitter, saying he had the legal right to use the song, but had found “a better one to take its place”.

“Steven Tyler got more publicity on his song request than he’s gotten in 10 years. Good for him!” he added.

Blizzard conditions will be heading tonight to my childhood home in Council Bluffs which basically means there will be no fair weather turnout in a good deal of Eastern Iowa.  It also means that youngest daughter will be digging out on Tuesday since she’s out there in the Omaha Boonie Suburbs.

My continued fascination with the parallels between Bernie and the Strump has me thinking on how the both of them seemed to have made the Super Pac and the billionaire donor class appear irrelevant. Trump is self-financing his campaign. Sanders has just passed a record for collecting money from small donors. It’s amazing to watch Jeb Bush struggle for attention while swimming in all that money. 

With billionaire Donald Trump sitting firmly atop the Republican field, the willingness of big establishment donors to underwrite his competitors’ war chests has fizzled.

About 17 donors gave $1 million or more to groups backing Republican presidential candidates in the last six months of 2015, 60 percent fewer than the number who gave that much in the first half of the year, according to Federal Election Commission filings. And outside groups that can accept unlimited contributions accounted for about 27 percent of Republican fundraising in the second half, down from 78 percent.

Many donors contributed large sums early to create the perception that their candidate was financially viable to go the distance. Now, with the first-in-the-nation caucuses taking place today in Iowa and several other primaries happening in the coming weeks, much of that money isn’t being replenished as candidates enter a grueling and expensive phase of the campaign.

“Part of this is the Trump effect,” said Tony Corrado, a government professor at Colby College. “Some major establishment Republican donors are undoubtedly waiting to see which candidate will emerge as the best alternative to Trump.”

For some, that’s already begun. Marco Rubio, who has emerged as the leading establishment candidate in recent months, won the backing of two major conservative hedge fund donors — Paul Singer and Ken Griffin — each of whom gave $2.5 million in late 2015 to a super-PAC supporting Rubio, Conservative Solutions PAC.

Rubio’s also winning over some big money that previously backed Bush, who, as a frequent target of Trump’s jibes, has struggled to get traction with voters. After raising a record $103 million in the first half of the year, the super-PAC supporting Bush, Right to Rise USA, pulled in only $15 million over the next six months, the bulk of it from one donor.

iowa-grantsRubio joins Clinton and Sanders as the top fund raisers.

The former secretary of state brought in over $37 million in the final three months of 2015 and started the year with $38 million in the bank. At the same time, the campaign spent $35 million in those three months. She continues to benefit from millions of dollars raised by her super PACs, including Priorities USA, which said Friday it has raised $50 million through this month. Two other groups supporting Clinton, American Bridge and Correct the Record, brought in an additional $6 million total.

And while Sanders has sworn off super PACs and criticizes Clinton’s largesse, a group run by National Nurses United is backing the Vermont senator regardless and has raised $2.3 million, with about half of that remaining, the group reported.

Clinton’s haul also meant a windfall for the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties across the country, who worked with Clinton’s campaign to raise money for the Hillary Victory Fund. In total, Clinton’s campaign raised $18 million for the DNC and state parties.

“We’re heading into the first caucuses and primaries with an organization second to none thanks to the support of hundreds of thousands of people across the country,” said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager. “We will have the resources necessary to wage a successful campaign in the early states and beyond.”

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver touted the number of individual contributions — 3.25 million — the campaign has received. “As Secretary Clinton holds high-dollar fundraisers with the nation’s financial elite, our supporters have stepped up in a way that allows Bernie to spend the critical days before the caucuses talking to Iowans about his plans to fix a rigged economy and end a corrupt system of campaign finance,” Weaver said in a statement.

It looks like Hillary and the Strump are the expected winners tonight.  Sanders, Cruz and Rubio all appear poised to close with some delegates since Iowa is not a winner take all state.roseman-covered-bridge

It would be entirely reasonable to presume that Bernie Sanders has momentum in Iowa. He’s gained on Hillary Clinton in national polls. Hekeeps pulling further ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire. And he’s made substantial gains in Iowa relative to his position late last year. December polls of Iowa showed Sanders behind by an average of 16 percentage points; the race is much closer now.

There’s just one problem: Sanders’s momentum may have stalled right when it counts the most.

The Des Moines Register’s Iowa poll released Saturday, for example, had Clinton leading Sanders by 3 percentage points. That means Iowa is close and winnable for Sanders; polling errors of 5 or even 10 percentage points are not uncommon in the caucuses. But it also means that Sanders hasn’t gained on Clinton. The previous Des Moines Register poll, released earlier in January, showed Clinton up by 2 percentage points instead.

The same story holds for other polling companies that have surveyed Iowa twice in January. A couple of these pollsters — American Research Group and Quinnipiac University — show Sanders leading. But they don’t show him gaining; Sanders also led in the previous edition of the ARG and Quinnipiac surveys.

Location_Des_Moines_IowaClinton and Cruz are relying on a substantive ground game and good commit to caucus plans for GOTV activities.  Sanders and Trump are hoping for a large turnout and the ability to overwhelm the caucuses where they do have a base. Cruz appears to be the one Republican with a substantive ground game.  Cruz has a natural base with evangelicals that Trump has somewhat eroded.  Cruz goes after the right wing religious voters.

It’s little more than 24 hours before the pivotal Iowa caucuses begin, and the presidential campaigns are still going strong. Especially for Ted Cruz, who TIME reporter Alex Altman says digs deep to his religious roots to connect with his conservative voters on the trail.

“Ted, the voice of sanity, in this time of calamity!” a voter exclaims at a campaign stop in a public library in northwest Iowa.

Cruz has been touring several towns in Iowa, and is one of the few candidates who planned to stop in all of the state’s 99 counties.

“This is part of Cruz’s strategy to win it the old fashioned way,” Altman said, “which is to go hand-to-hand in small towns, visit people, and tell them why he wants their vote.”

Iowa is primarily a rural state although there are vast differences between the east and western sections of the state.  It is home to several really good universities and to the Amish. There are still plenty of farmers there including the grandfather of my future son-in-law who used to buy his F150s from my dad.   Iowa folks are also very fond of their agriculture and ethanol subsidies.  It’s going to be interesting to see how they weigh in tonight. I’m seeing lots of pictures and shots from places I recognize that don’t seem to have changed much in my 60 years on the planet. Parts of the state do not have reliable wifi still.  There is also a large contingent of immigrants that work the slaughterhouses.   It’s a state that looks like Mayberry in many ways.  We’ll just have to see.

We will be posting a live blog with the returns later tonight.  Caucus doors lock down around 8:30 cst.  The weather will be important as will the intensity of the supporters.  Who do you think is going to win tonight?


Friday Reads: Perpetuating Lies, Hate, and Stereotypes

a8Happy Friday!!!

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

The U.S. has committed at least 15,000 combat troops and billions of dollars to extend the war of Afghanistan another 10 years, to 2024. Imagine what Americans would have thought if Bush had told them what was in store after 9/11.

The U.S. has committed at least 15,000 combat troops and billions of dollars to extend the war of Afghanistan another 10 years, to 2024. Imagine what Americans would have thought if Bush had told them what was in store after 9/11.

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.

capamericaEven 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 workersexflagtending 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.tta40-hijacker  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?

(Update: She was not a suicide bomber but was blown up when a man next to her detonated his suicide vest.)

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?


Monday Reads: The Barbed Wire Fence Treatment

Statue_of_Liberty_7It’s a Monday and it feels like it!!!

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.’…

Matthew 25:42

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.Emma_Lazarus_plaque

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.

Four right-wing, hysterically christian governors are shamefully refusing to resettle Syrian refuges. 

Statue-of-liberty

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.

936365-statue-liberty_14196_600x450This 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.statue-of-liberty-sunset

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.


Tuesday Reads: Will Rubio Win the GOP Nomination?

Couch on the Porch, Cos Cob, by Frederick Childe Hassam

Couch on the Porch, Cos Cob, by Frederick Childe Hassam

Good Afternoon!!

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.”

The Fix: Donald Trump and Ben Carson are top-tier GOP candidates. Get used to it.

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.

marco_Rubio

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.

Marco Rubio2

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 for Rubio

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.

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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.

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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?

 


Tuesday Reads: Clowns and Freaks on Parade and Other News

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Good Morning!!

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.

Donald Trump earned a round of boos when he attacked fellow Republican candidate Marco Rubio — calling him a “clown” — at an event Friday for conservative, faith-based voters.

“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.

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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.”

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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.”

Bobby Jindal (Gov. R-L)

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.

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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.

Ben Carson Clown

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?

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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:

CNN: Hillary Clinton knocks Jeb Bush over ‘free stuff’ remark.

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: Bush camp moves to ease donor angst. Assessing the state of anxiety on a scale of one to 10, one donor puts the panic level at a ‘six or seven.’

Politico: Schumer in talks with Ryan on major tax, infrastructure deal (Count me as not looking forward to Schumer leading the Senate Democrats.

Salon: Donald Trump is the glib hero the right has been waiting for: What his “60 Minutes” interview revealed about his terrifying appeal.

Have I told you lately how much I hate Bill Maher?

Salon: Bill Maher lights into 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed again: “He didn’t invent anything!” “Liberals who have glommed on to him as some kind of mascots are ninnies,” Maher said.

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.

The Atlantic: When America Was ‘Great,’ Taxes Were High, Unions Were Strong, and Government Was Big.

Politico: Boehner unloads on GOP’s ‘false prophets.’

Raw Story: Gay couple tricks anti-LGBT Indiana pizzeria into catering their wedding celebration.

What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread, and have a great Tuesday!