New Year’s Eve ReadsPosted: December 31, 2015
Here we are on the last day of 2015. I’m going to make this a link dump, as JJ calls it, because I know it will be another quiet day and I once again overslept. I hope I can get myself back into a normal routine in 2016! So here are some stories I’ve been reading.
The National Memo: This Year In Crazy: 2015 Belonged To The Wingnuts.
As you may recall, this year kicked off with a big national conversation about the efficacy of vaccinations — setting the tone for a host of debates utterly untethered to reality, whether it was fraudulent anti-abortion videos meant to “expose” Planned Parenthood, or a U.S. senator using a single snowball to disprove 97 percent of peer-reviewed climate science.
We saw loony conspiracy theories that would be too unrealistic for an episode of 24 gaining currency with a surprising number of politicians, as when a handful of paranoid Texans thought that a military exercise was the opening salvo in a federal invasion. This delusion then gained traction and metastasized wildly in the patchwork of talk radio shows and fringe websites that have become the touchstone of our political discourse, until even Texas governor Greg Abbot and Ted Cruz voiced their concern.
The Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage was a landmark victory for civil rights, but it sent conservative Christians into an apocalyptic tizzy. Governors tried to pass legislation to legally discriminate against same-sex couples under the reprehensible camouflage of “religious liberty,” and one county clerk became a national martyr when she spent five nights in jail rather than let two men walk down the aisle.
When a racist terrorist shot up a black church with a gun,conservatives told us we could blame the attack on anything except racism and guns. Finally, we all just blamed a flag. Even so, down in Dixie and elsewhere, there were many who fought to fly it proudly — on the lawn of the South Carolina state house and over a grassy knoll in Texas just off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
It was hard to narrow it down, but based on your votes, we have assembled the top 5 crazies from this year’s archives.
Head over to the National Memo to read their top choices–it’s worth clicking the link just to see the illustration at the top of the article.
Here’s a WTF story for you from PC Magazine: Twitter Criticized For Hiring White Male as New Diversity Chief.
The microblogging service this week announced that Jeffrey Siminoff will join the company to lead global diversity and inclusion at Twitter. Siminoff has an impressive resume as Apple’s former Director of Worldwide Inclusion and Diversity, but there’s just one problem, according to critics: He’s a white male.
His appointment was criticized by diversity supporters such as Mark S. Luckie, who doesn’t seem to have a problem with Siminoff himself, but said it “makes no sense” to hire a white male for the role.
“Not saying a white guy can’t be head of diversity but for a company that hires a majority white guys it sends the wrong message,” Luckie wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “I’m sure he’s a great guy but you’ve set the company back instead of moving it forward”….
Twitter last year said its workforce is 70 percent male and 30 percent female. Fifty nine percent of its employees are white, while 29 percent are Asian. African-Americans, Latinos, and people of other ethnicities represent just a fraction of those numbers.
Why is Chris Cillizza writing for a major newspaper?
I write a weekly column awarding someone — usually a political figure — the “Worst Week in Washington.” It’s just what it sounds like. At the end of the year, I write one big piece about who had the “Worst Year in Washington.” President Obama won it in 2013 and 2014. This year, I named co-winners: Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.
How could I compare Jeb(!) with Hillary, people screamed. One is barely relevant in the presidential race; the other is a clear front-runner for her party’s nomination. Naming Clinton as a co-winner was either evidence of my “both sides do it” obsession or the latest example of me being just plain dumb.
Roughly 1 billion people sent me this tweet from ESPN’s Nate Silver, which provided further proof of my (a) bias or (b) stupidity.
It’s possible, of course, that I am biased, dumb or maybe a little bit of both. But let me explain why I picked Clinton and why I stand by it.
You’re biased, stupid, ignorant, moronic, out-of-touch, and the ultimate Villager, Chris. Read Cillizza’s convoluted defense of his stupidity at the link.
This news just broke at Politico: Two of Carson’s top aides resign.
Campaign manager Barry Bennett and communications director Doug Watts both resigned, effective immediately, on Thursday. “Barry Bennett and I have resigned from the Carson campaign effective immediately,” Watts said in a statement. “We respect the candidate and we have enjoyed helping him go from far back in the field to top tier status.”
The announcement comes as Carson has struggled to halt a dramatic slide in his poll numbers as doubts arose about his grasp of foreign policy issues and the accuracy of his personal narrative.
At the sold out campaign event in Hilton Head, South Carolina, Trump lobbed an attack at President Obama’s action on climate change, saying Obama still flies on “a very old Air Force One…spewing stuff” despite being concerned about his carbon footprint.
“You can’t use hair spray, because hair spray is going to affect the ozone,” the billionaire mogul told crowd.
He continued, pausing to pantomime spraying and styling his shag carpet-like hair: “I’m in my room, in New York City, and I want to put a little spray…but I hear they don’t want me to use hairspray, they want me to use the pump.”
The presidential candidate very much prefers aerosol hair spray to “the pump” version, which he said “comes out in big globs and it’s stuck in your hair and you say, ‘oh my god, I’ve gotta take a shower again because my hair’s all screwed up.’”
Trump also contended that using aerosol hair products in his “sealed” apartment can’t cause harm to the environment.
“I’m sitting in this concealed apartment, this concealed unit – you know, I really do live in a very nice apartment – but it’s sealed! It’s beautiful! I don’t think anything gets out,” he concluded.
Aerosol cans haven’t contained ozone-damaging chemicals since the late 1970s, when the Environmental Protection Agency imposed regulations on the products, but other chemicals in the cans do raise your carbon footprint “ever so slightly,” according to Scientific American. Trump has also railed against EPA water regulations for ruining his signature hairdo.
I have to wonder why all those gun-toting, manly white men who follow Trump don’t find him a little effeminate talking about his hairdo all the time.
In the same speech Trump babbled a lot of nonsense about how women supposedly don’t like Hillary Clinton. Politico:
The real estate mogul told the Hilton Head crowd that Clinton has been hitting him “really hard with the women card, OK? Really hard.”
“And I had to say, OK, that’s enough. That’s enough. And we did a strong number. She’s not going to win,” Trump said, reiterating that “I love” the concept of a female president, but it “can’t be her.” ….
Hillary Clinton is “horrible,” Trump continued. “But I’ll tell you who doesn’t like Hillary are women. Women don’t like Hillary. I see it all the time,” he proclaimed to cheers in the audience. (The latest national CNN poll found that 82 percent of female registered Democrats have a favorable opinion of Clinton, while 15 percent have an unfavorable view.)
The former secretary of state is “always so theatrical” when she criticizes him, Trump observed, mimicking Clinton for saying “Mr. Trump said this and that and this.”
“I shouldn’t do it. I just have to turn off the television sometimes. She just gives me a headache,” Trump said, before remarking, “Although last night I think I gave her a big headache.
Hillary would swat Trump like an annoying mosquito.
Washington Post: How Rubio helped his ex-con brother-in-law acquire a real estate license.
When Marco Rubio was majority whip of the Florida House of Representatives, he used his official position to urge state regulators to grant a real estate license to his brother-in-law, a convicted cocaine trafficker who had been released from prison 20 months earlier, according to records obtained by The Washington Post.
In July 2002, Rubio sent a letter on his official statehouse stationery to the Florida Division of Real Estate, recommending Orlando Cicilia “for licensure without reservation.” The letter, obtained by The Washington Post under the Florida Public Records Act, offers a glimpse of Rubio using his growing political power to assist his troubled brother-in-law and provides new insight into how the young lawmaker intertwined his personal and political lives.
Rubio did not disclose in the letter that Cicilia was married to his sister, Barbara, or that the former cocaine dealer was living at the time in the same West Miami home as Rubio’s parents. He wrote that he had known Cicilia “for over 25 years,” without elaborating.
I actually don’t have a problem with ex-cons getting jobs. I hear Obama is thinking of issuing an executive order to prevent employers from asking about criminal records. I don’t think this will hurt Rubio much.
New York Times: Donald Trump’s Strongest Supporters: A Certain Kind of Democrat. (Spoiler: they are people registered as Dems who call themselves Repubs and they are mostly in the South.)
Think Progress: Another Texas Republican Under Fire For Rape ‘Joke.’
ABC News: Man Charged With Arson in Houston Mosque Fire says he was a member of the congregation.
Des Moines Register: Jeb Bush cancels Iowa TV buy, shifts money to ground game.
What stories are you following?