Friday Link Dump-A-Rama 

winner winner

Good…(insert pertinent timely greeting here.)

As I am on very little sleep and barely able to function on a normal basis, here is your post for this Friday.

April 1st!!!!!

April Fool’s Day!

But how can I give you a joke or prank when I wake up every day to what seems to me like an April Fool’s Day?

The Gawds are playing one hell of a joke on us, can’t you see them now laughing down from Mt. Olympus…they are angry my friends.

Oh wait, I need to put this in terms that a Christian Nation would understand…cause that comment about Mt. Olympus is not “Jesusy” enough.

Who needs a forty day rain to create a flood, when you’ve got Trump’s lips as your flood gates?

Why bring down a plague of locusts when Cruz can simply mass produce them from his nostrils of doom? He just needs to learn how to aim them at his victims better….instead of ingesting them himself to gain their negative power boost.

Can you see a trend here, I am using Holy Fetish ideology to explain reasons for Trump’s and Cruz’s rise in the GOP process to nominate the worst possible asshole for president, so they can satisfy the Fools among us.

Chicken-Dinner-Candy-Bar-150x150The Right isn’t the only source of Fools this April Fool’s Day, the Left has its own share of idiots. Oops…I should find another word there…chump. That has a better ring to it.

These chumps, bullies, and all around closet fascists wearing their Vermont Faux-Socialism Green Khaki in support of Bernie Sanders are showing the world, (and proving some right-wing assholes’ points btw) that there are parts of the Democratic Party that are relentlessly one issue, blind and oblivious to the bigger picture. Or, maybe a better way to say this, there is more than Monsanto. More than 15 dollar minimum wage….and fucking hell…women rights dammit. Get the fuck real about that!!!!

I’ve said from the very beginning, that to me…Sanders was shitting all over women. And every few weeks, something happens to prove my first opinion of Bernie was the right one.

Ugh.

Ugh.

That is it. Enough of the rant, I am exhausted.

chickendinnerHere are your links for this foolish fuckers day of days:

It’s Really Hard To Get Bernie Sanders 988 More Delegates | FiveThirtyEight

A divided party for Democrats? | TheHill

When Did the Democratic Party Become Such a Nervous Wreck? | Vanity Fair

Donald Trump is terrorizing America: Why his lurid media spectacles have something in common with ISIS – Salon.com

Ted Cruz is no savior: Sorry, Republicans, you’re (probably) still screwed and stuck with Trump – Salon.com

download (2)‘It’s a civil war in slow-mo’: how Trump’s rise is cracking Hollywood conservatives | US news | The Guardian

Donald Trump Clears the Air With Republican Leaders – First Draft. Political News, Now. – The New York Times

Delegates ready to flee Trump at contested convention – POLITICO

New York a Coveted Apple for Sanders, Clinton – WSJ

Clinton Offers Predictability in an Erratic Political Year

HILLARY CLINTON: I don’t trust Trump with US military – Business Insider

Sex-scandal double standard: Keeping with misogynist tradition, Alabama Gov. Bentley makes sure his alleged mistress suffers more for sexual sin – Salon.com

Gov. Bentley of Alabama shows his sexist side, refusing to resign while his alleged mistress loses her job

This problem is much bigger than Trump: Why abortion rights in America are becoming more endangered by the day – Salon.com

Even A Landslide Trump Victory Won’t Change Our Rigged Congressional Map

imagesFukushima on the Hudson? The Growing Dangers of Indian Point – Truthdig

Campbell’s soup cans to drop hormone-mimicking chemical | Environment | The Guardian

People Claim Disastrous Consequences With Gmail’s April Fools’ Prank Gone Wrong | Mediaite

Who needs sex to make babies? Pretty soon, humans won’t | Henry Greely | Opinion | The Guardian

WHOOPS!: CIA admits they left explosives on borrowed special needs kids’ school bus for two days

BB, you may find this one interesting: Kate Tempest: ‘It’s difficult to look at words as pegs to hang a plot from’ | Books | The Guardian

Is this a joke: Death by smartphone: the .38 calibre mobile that really sends a message | Peter Bradshaw | Opinion | The Guardian

imageInside Mick Jagger and Keith Richard’s Five-Decade Bromance | Vanity Fair

Iman’s mother dies two months after death of David Bowie – NY Daily News

Florida Panthers penalized for too many rats on the ice | Sport | The Guardian

Here’s How This Single Gay Dad Created His Beautiful Family

Watchdog group alleges Trump illegally promised position to Carson – POLITICO

Meet the drug-dealing Indianapolis pastor who outdid ‘Breaking Bad’

Ted Cruz ‘Cleverly’ Announces Donald Trump Has Accepted His Invitation to Debate | Mediaite

Fox News Hosts Blame Chris Matthews For Trump’s Abortion Gaffe | Crooks and Liars

This…I have no words…about the last two paragraphs, Cannonfire.

No, Really. Carly Fiorina Is On The Short List For RNC Chair | Crooks and Liars

Susie Madrak» Blog Archive » Also known as ‘AssoL’

George Mason University School of Law has been renamed. It is now the Antonin Scalia School of Law.

This is NOT an April Fools’ joke. They’re serious. $30 million serious.

Read the rest at the link…

Mike’s Blog Round Up | Crooks and Liars

This is no April Fools: Susan Sarandon got under the skin of our bloggers today and so we have three very smart, well-argued takes for you to consider; and then we think about the trajectory of Republican politics and conclude with some beloved children’s stories… in our modern age.

So be sure to check that one out.

Speaking of Ted Cruz…and his nostrils of Doom: Pro-Kasich Super PAC’s Attack Ad on Cruz Brings Forth the Stuff of Nightmares | Mediaite

And I will end it with these two links from Mediaite:

Sanders Hits Back on Hillary’s Slams Over Abortion: She Took Me ‘Out of Context’ | Mediaite

Here’s Where Hillary Clinton Got Her ‘Out of Context’ Attack on Bernie Over Trump’s Abortion Comments | Mediaite

You can take it from there….

This is an open thread.

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Thursday Reads: Only One Presidential Candidate Understands The Full Significance of Reproductive Rights

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Good Afternoon!!

The political issue that is most on my mind today is the reactions of the candidates to remarks Donald Trump made on abortion in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews yesterday. You can read the full transcript at The Guardian. An excerpt:

MATTHEWS: If you say abortion is a crime or abortion is murder, you have to deal with it under law. Should abortion be punished?

TRUMP: Well, people in certain parts of the Republican Party and Conservative Republicans would say, “yes, they should be punished.”

MATTHEWS: How about you?

TRUMP: I would say that it’s a very serious problem. And it’s a problem that we have to decide on. It’s very hard.

MATTHEWS: But you’re for banning it?

TRUMP: I’m going to say — well, wait. Are you going to say, put them in jail? Are you — is that the (inaudible) you’re talking about?

MATTHEWS: Well, no, I’m asking you because you say you want to ban it. What does that mean?

TRUMP: I would — I am against — I am pro-life, yes.

MATTHEWS: What is ban — how do you ban abortion? How do you actually do it?

TRUMP: Well, you know, you will go back to a position like they had where people will perhaps go to illegal places

MATTHEWS: Yes?

TRUMP: But you have to ban it

MATTHEWS: You banning, they go to somebody who flunked out of medical school….

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Trump begins talking about the Catholic Church’s position, interrogating Matthews on whether he agrees (Matthews is a Catholic).

MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no as a principle?

TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment

MATTHEWS: For the woman

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form

MATTHEWS: Ten cents? Ten years? What?

TRUMP: Let me just tell you — I don’t know. That I don’t know. That I don’t know.

MATTHEWS: Why not

TRUMP: I don’t know.

MATTHEWS: You take positions on everything else.

TRUMP: Because I don’t want to — I frankly, I do take positions on everything else. It’s a very complicated position.

MATTHEWS: But you say, one, that you’re pro-life meaning that you want to ban it

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More efforts by Trump to deflect to the fact that Matthews is a Catholic.

MATTHEWS: I’m asking you, what should a woman face if she chooses to have an abortion?

TRUMP: I’m not going to do that.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: I’m not going to play that game.

MATTHEWS: Game?

TRUMP: You have…

MATTHEWS: You said you’re pro-life.

TRUMP: I am pro-life.

MATTHEWS: That means banning abortion

TRUMP: And so is the Catholic Church pro-life.

MATTHEWS: But they don’t control the — this isn’t Spain, the Church doesn’t control the government

TRUMP: What is the punishment under the Catholic Church? What is the…

MATTHEWS: Let me give something from the New Testament, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Don’t ask me about my religion.

TRUMP: No, no…

MATTHEWS: I’m asking you. You want to be president of the United States.

TRUMP: You told me that…

MATTHEWS: You tell me what the law should be.

TRUMP: I have — I have not determined…

MATTHEWS: Just tell me what the law should be. You say you’re pro-life.

TRUMP: I am pro-life.

MATTHEWS: What does that mean

TRUMP: With exceptions. I am pro-life.

I have not determined what the punishment would be.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: Because I haven’t determined it

MATTHEWS: When you decide to be pro-life, you should have thought of it. Because…

TRUMP: No, you could ask anybody who is pro-life…

MATTHEWS: OK, here’s the problem — here’s my problem with this, if you don’t have a punishment for abortion — I don’t believe in it, of course — people are going to find a way to have an abortion.

TRUMP: You don’t believe in what?

MATTHEWS: I don’t believe in punishing anybody for having an abortion

TRUMP: OK, fine. OK, (inaudible)/

MATTHEWS: Of course not. I think it’s a woman’s choice.

TRUMP: So you’re against the teachings of your Church?

MATTHEWS: I have a view — a moral view — but I believe we live in a free country, and I don’t want to live in a country so fascistic that it could stop a person from making that decision.

TRUMP: But then you are…

MATTHEWS: That would be so invasive.

TRUMP: I know but I’ve heard you speaking…

MATTHEWS: So determined of a society that I wouldn’t able — one we are familiar with. And Donald Trump, you wouldn’t be familiar with.

TRUMP: But I’ve heard you speaking so highly about your religion and your Church.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TRUMP: Your Church is very, very strongly as you know, pro-life.

MATTHEWS: I know.

TRUMP: What do you say to your Church?

MATTHEWS: I say, I accept your moral authority. In the United States, the people make the decision, the courts rule on what’s in the Constitution, and we live by that. That’s why I say.

TRUMP: Yes, but you don’t live by it because you don’t accept it. You can’t accept it. You can’t accept it. You can’t accept it.

MATTHEWS: Can we go back to matters of the law and running for president because matters of law, what I’m talking about, and this is the difficult situation you’ve placed yourself in.

By saying you’re pro-life, you mean you want to ban abortion. How do you ban abortion without some kind of sanction? Then you get in that very tricky question of a sanction, a fine on human life which you call murder?

TRUMP: It will have to be determined.

MATTHEWS: A fine, imprisonment for a young woman who finds herself pregnant?

TRUMP: It will have to be determined.

MATTHEWS: What about the guy that gets her pregnant? Is he responsible under the law for these abortions? Or is he not responsible for an abortion?

TRUMP: Well, it hasn’t — it hasn’t — different feelings, different people. I would say no.

MATTHEWS: Well, they’re usually involved.

I applaud Chris Matthews on forcing Trump to demonstrate some of the problems with banning abortion. Trump actually said that we would go back to the time when women had to get illegal abortions, and that they should be punished if they made that choice. But the men who were also involved in the creating unwanted or dangerous pregnancies and in making the decision to end those pregnancies should not be punished. 

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Matthews could have been talking to any “pro-life” candidate, and if he or she were pushed on the practical results of their policies they might be similarly confused. Because that might mean sending women to jail. As Matthews pointed out, the Church does not control the U.S. government, and candidates who think abortion is a crime should not make decisions about women’s bodies and their choices. These choices are complex and they should be private.

How did the Democratic candidates respond to Trump’s remarks?

From CNN:

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton pounced on Donald Trump’s comment Wednesday on MSNBC that abortion should be banned and women who receive one should should face “some form of punishment,” seeking to tie it the entire GOP field.

Hours later, Trump reversed his initial position — criticized as extreme by both supporters and opponents of abortion rights — saying only the doctors should be held liable.
“The Republicans all line up together,” Clinton said in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
“Now maybe they aren’t quite as open about it as Donald Trump was earlier today, but they all have the same position,” she said, noting anti-abortion positions taken by both John Kasich and Ted Cruz. “If you make abortion a crime — you make it illegal — then you make women and doctors criminals.”
“Why is it, I ask myself, Republicans want limited government, except when it comes to women’s health?” she said.
Many Trump’s critics have sought to paint him as hostile to women, and Clinton said she largely agreed with that assessment.

Hillary-Clinton-Women-Rights-Quotes

You can watch Clinton’s full interview with Anderson Cooper at the link. I couldn’t find a full interview with Sanders on this other than the one he did with Rachel Maddow. He apparently sent out a tweet calling Trump’s remarks shameful. This is what he told Maddow in a lengthy interview yesterday.

MADDOW:  After, uh, the word spread that Donald Trump had made those remarks today about abortion, that a woman needs to be punished, uh, if she seeks an abortion and abortion should be banned, you said today that was shameful.

What is shameful about it?

SANDERS:  Well, I think it is — shameful is probably understating that position.  First of all, to me, and I think to most Americans, women have the right to control their own bodies and they have the right to make those personal decisions themselves.

But to punish a woman for having an abortion is beyond comprehension.  I — I just — you know, one would say what is in Donald Trump’s mind except we’re tired of saying that?

I don’t know what world this person lives in.  So obviously, from my perspective, and if elected president, I will do everybody that I can to allow women to make that choice and have access to clinics all over this country so that if they choose to have an abortion, they will be able to do so.

The idea of punishing a woman, that is just, you know, beyond comprehension.

Maddow tried to press Sanders, asking if Cruz may be even worse on the abortion issue than Trump.

Uh, look, they have nothing to say.  All they can appeal is to a small number of people who feel very rabid, very rabid about a particular issue, whether it’s abortion or maybe whether it’s gay marriage.  That is their constituency.  They have nothing of substance.

You know, you mentioned a moment ago, Rachel, that the media is paying attention to Donald Trump.

Duh?

No kidding.  Once again, every stupid remark will be broadcast, you know, for the next five days.

But what is Donald Trump’s position on raising the minimum wage?

Well, he doesn’t think so.

What is Donald Trump’s position on wages in America?

Well, he said in a Republican debate he thinks wages are too high.

What’s Donald Trump’s position on taxes?

Well, he wants to give billionaire families like himself hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks.

What is Donald Trump’s position on climate change?

Oh, he thinks it’s a hoax perpetrated, shock of all shock, by the Chinese.  You know, on and on it goes.

But because media is what media is today, any stupid, absurd remark made by Donald Trump becomes the story of the week.  Maybe, just maybe, we might want to have a serious discussion about the serious issues facing America.  Donald Trump will not look quite so interesting in that context.

MADDOW:  Are you suggesting, though, that the media shouldn’t be focusing on his call to potentially jail women who have abortions?  Because that’s another stupid —

SANDERS:  I am saying that every day he comes up with another stupid remark, absurd remark, of course it should be mentioned.  But so should Trump’s overall positions.  How much talk do we hear about climate change, Rachel?  And Trump?  Any?

I heard that as exactly what Maddow suggested: To Sanders, the issue of women’s reproductive rights is just another “stupid” social issue–nowhere near as important as income inequality, increasing the minimum wage, and the other economic issues that Sanders focuses on.

hrcabortion

And here is what Hillary Clinton told Rachel Maddow last night, from Politicus USA.

“What Donald Trump said today was outrageous and dangerous. And you know I am just constantly taken aback by the kinds of things that he advocates for. Maya Angelou said, ‘When someone show you who they are, believe them.’ And once again he has showed us who he is. The idea that he and all of the Republicans espouse that abortion should be illegal is one that is not embraced by the vast majority of Americans. And in fact as he pointed out, if it were illegal, then women and doctors would be criminals.”

“I think not only women, men, but all Americans need to understand that this kind of inflammatory, destructive rhetoric is on the outer edges of what is permitted under our Constitution, what we believe in, and people should reject it.”

“Women in particular must know that this right which we have guaranteed under the Constitution could be taken away, and that’s why the stakes in this election couldn’t be higher.”

Maddow explained that Trump walked it back and then wanted to punish doctors. Clinton made the point that women have the right to their own autonomy. Criminalizing doctors for helping women have medical authority over their own bodies doesn’t make this better.

Maddow said that she spoke with Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s 2016 primary opponent, and that Sanders was critical of Trump’s remark but he also thinks it’s another “Donald Trump stupid” remark that will be covered by the media ad nauseam as opposed to issues like taxes, climate change, minimum wage that might be more deserving of extended attention.

Maddow asked Clinton if she agreed, and Clinton said she doesn’t think the media is making too much of this, “No, absolutely not. I’ve been on the front lines of the fight to preserve a woman’s choice and ability to make these difficult decisions… I’ve been a leader in trying to make sure that our rights as women were not in any way eroded.”

“To think that this is an issue that is not deserving of reaction just demonstrates a lack of appreciation for how serious this is,” Clinton said. “This goes to the heart of who we are as women, what kinds of rights and choices we have, it certainly is as important as any economic issue because when it’s all stripped away so much of the Republican agenda is to turn the clock back on women.”

It is easy for even liberals and progressives to forget that without legal and safe abortion, women die. This is no small issue. This is one of the issues of 2016. It is economic, it is about personal freedom, it is a matter of life and death. Hillary Clinton punches back even when others will not. She sees this issue for what it is.

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This is why we need a woman POTUS. This is why we need Hillary. These interviews by Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow represent the first time anyone at a debate or “town hall” has seriously asked candidates to talk about women’s reproductive rights.

Donald Trump showed us why putting a Republican in the White House in 2016 would be dangerous for women.

Bernie Sanders showed us that he “supports” abortion rights, but doesn’t think this issue rises to the importance of his rants on economic issues like income inequality, Wall Street corruption, and the minimum wage. He clearly doesn’t understand that abortion and birth control are also important economic issues.

Hillary Clinton is the only presidential candidate who understands the important of these so-called “women’s issues.” She is the only one who will speak for women and girls in a serious way if she is elected to the presidency.

What do you think? Please discuss this post or any other topic you wish in the comment thread, and have a terrific Thursday.


Wednesday Reads

Good Afternoon!10252013_GOP_Elephant_Drinking

Well, I’m holding down the fort today!   Both BB and JJ are off surfing samsara which is my little way of saying they’re dealing with a series of life’s little unpleasantness.  That seems to be the order of the day.  There’s a war on life’s pleasantries out there!  The majority of us are losing the fight.

So, I watched the Republican Townhall last night. One hour with each of them is an hour wasted in Bizarro.  Ted Cruz is a sociopath. He dodged all questions choosing to spin a series of anecdotes with no relation to the question asked by Anderson Cooper or the participants.  The fact he thought these anecdotes charming given his self congratulatory manner–when they definitely were not–says a lot about his inability to even fake being human for short periods of time. He’s positively reptilian. Donald Trump is walking, savage ID.  He has no conception of anything remotely related to the rest of the world that hasn’t been directly in his face and interests.  The sentence I bolded below pretty much sums the Trump exchange.

During a CNN town-hall forum Tuesday night, Donald Trump reiterated the falsehood that Sen. Ted Cruz was responsible for spreading around an image of his wife Melania in a nude pose. “I thought it was a nice picture of Heidi,” Trump said of an image he retweeted clearly meant to make her look unattractive compared to his wife. “Come on,” Anderson Cooper responded. “I thought it was fine,” Trump insisted. Continuing to deny culpability, he said “I didn’t start it.” Cooper sensibly retorted, “That’s the argument of a 5-year-old.”

That sentence pretty much sums up the behavior of most of the politicians associated with the Republican Party who basically have not been doing their actual jobs for some time. They won’t examine or confirm SCOTUS nominees. They continually vote to get rid of the ACA when they know the bill will go no where. They are obsessed with Planned Parenthood based on outright lies. They deny the impact and causes of Climate Science. It’s the behavior of a 5-year-old that doesn’t get his way.

The unraveling of the Republican party is not good for this country.  Candidates like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are signs that something has gone supremely wrong.  Kasich appears to be the only sane one left unless you count Rubio who seems to be angling to hold on to his delegates in some weird hope that a brokered convention will anoint him. Both may be sane. Neither are presidential material. Rubio is dumb and Kasich wanders that ethereal wasteland between being pragmatic and preaching radical religious right sermons worthy of any common religious fanatic.

It is a full on war between the Republican Establishment and the white, working class base it has used as a foil to push through bad tax policy since the Pied Piper of Hollywood spun a tune to romance them into the Republican fold. Ronald Reagan’s dogwhistles and tales of a white utopia, a city on the hill, enticed them to vote Republican for a few decades. Dubya’s uncanny ability to sound homespun and create wars to appeal to their patriotic nature may have held them for awhile. But now they are unleashed with wide open eyes and a distaste of all things Romneyesque. The want real brutes. Karl Rove no longer can manipulate their lesser angels with empty promises and heads. They want the real deal.

If you listen to establishment gurus, you’d be led to believe that the Republican primary voter revolt was birthed by the governance of President Obama, creating fertile ground for the emergence of one Donald Trump. This fairy tale version of reality casts Trump as the villain who has swept in to capitalize on voter frustration with Obama’s alleged weakness, lawlessness and rampant liberalism.

The villain must be stopped or the Republican Party will be destroyed. Or so we are told.

The old saw that you have to first acknowledge that you have a problem to solve the problem applies here. What the GOP “leaders” refuse to accept is that Trump is not the problem. They are.

The dissatisfaction among a large cohort of GOP voters is directly attributable to their unhappiness with a party that they believe does not represent their interests. In exit polls, high percentages of GOP voters registered displeasure with their leadership. In Tennessee, 58% of Republican voters said they felt “betrayed” by their leaders, as did 47% in New Hampshire52% in South Carolina and 54% in Ohio.

Those who feel betrayed have been most likely to vote for Trump. Trump has been a particular draw to white working-class voters who feel left behind economically. Such voters have been treated with dismissal and outright contempt by the GOP establishment even as this group has become more critical to Republican success. Pew reported in 2012 that “lower-income and less educated whites … have shifted substantially toward the Republican Party since 2008.”

In other words, their peasants are revolting. Given this, how can the party’s elite make their way through a brokered convention when the party itself is so positively unmoored?  Its main policy goal is tax avoidance for the very wealthy.  After that’s accomplished, they throw bits and pieces of radical religious bills at the wall to see what will stick while railing against minorities, women, and immigrants.

The modern Republican Party has devolved into a tax avoidance scam for rich people. The scam is a masterpiece of psychological manipulation, in which the racial, cultural and economic anxieties of (mostly white) voters are exploited, in order to get those voters to support policies that transfer ever-greater percentages of wealth from themselves to the top 0.1 percent.

 It really isn’t any more complicated than that. Everything else – the “culture wars,” the continual hysteria about terrorism, the non-stop rhetoric about how the mainstream media, the universities, the scientists, and basically the rest of the modern world are all biased against conservatives – it’s all just so much noise, designed to solve the tricky problem of how to get ordinary people to support economic policies that make them poorer and rich people richer.

You couldn’t come up with a better illustration of this principle than the ongoing GOP campaign to eliminate the estate tax. Last year the House voted to get rid of it, and a majority of Republican senators have pledged to do the same.

The Republican propaganda machine has waged a multi-decade war against the estate tax, which it has rebranded the “death tax.” Because of these efforts, the tax has been watered down to the point where, under current law, only a tiny group of wealthy people will ever pay any estate taxes at all.

But of course that isn’t enough, since it means that some taxes still have to be paid on truly enormous inheritances, and protecting the economic interests of people who have a net worth in the eight, nine, 10 or 11 figures is the contemporary GOP’s entire reason for being.

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

The emergence of Trump as a leading Republican candidate is something found incredulous by enabling media types who have been equivocating between Democrats and Republicans for some time.  They’ve refused to hold any one accountable for outright lies.

One of the most amazing things to see is the panic in our allies as major Republican candidates want to dump NATO, dally with war crimes and nuclear weapons, and ignore treaties and trade agreements. That’s how equivocal Republicans and Democrats really are from the view here on USA Main Street.  The one thing that’s been fairly consistent in American governance is the respect for pre-existing foreign agreements and diplomacy.  Each President–even while holding different visions of the country–basically finds value in remaining on a stable and predictable path in foreign affairs.  The Republican historical area of expertise used to be foreign policy until now.

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Lobbyists in Washington say they are being flooded with questions and concerns from foreign governments about the rise of Donald Trump.Officials around the globe are closely following the U.S. presidential race, to the point where some have asked their American lobbyists to explain, in great detail, what a contested GOP convention would look like. There is nothing conservative about Trump or the Republican party these days other than their tax avoidance schemes.  They are a party of insurgents and radicals hellbent on an agenda to turn back modernity.

The questions about Trump are “almost all-consuming,” said Richard Mintz, the managing director of Washington-based firm The Harbour Group, whose client list includes the governments of Georgia and the United Arab Emirates.

After a recent trip to London, Abu Dhabi and Beijing, “it’s fair to say that all anyone wants to talk about is the U.S. presidential election,” Mintz added. “People are confused and perplexed.”

The Hill conducted interviews with more than a half-dozen lobbyists, many of whom said they are grappling with how to explain Trump and his unusual foreign policy views to clients who have a lot riding on their relationship with the United States.

“We’re in uncharted territory here,” said one lobbyist with foreign government clients who asked not to be identified.

“The questions coming from the international community are not different than the things, categorically, we’re asking ourselves,” said Nathan Daschle, the president and chief operating officer of the Daschle Group, a firm run by his father, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.).

“There’s an added level of bafflement because this is not the United States that they’ve been living with for so long,” Daschle said. “This is not the image the United States has been projecting.”

The questions about Trump often concern his foreign policy positions.

The businessman has boasted about keeping his options open on many crucial foreign policy questions, including on trade, troop-sharing agreements and the U.S. posture toward China.

“I don’t want to say what I’d do because, again, we need unpredictability,” Trump told The New York Times in an interview published over the weekend.

A second lobbyist who represents countries in Latin America, Asia and the Muslim world said answers like that have made Trump a “wild card” for leaders around the world.

“Nobody knows whether he believes anything of what he says because he’s changed his position so many times,” the lobbyist said.

Some of Trump’s comments — especially about Mexico, Muslims and trade with countries such as Japan and China — have also angered foreign leaders.

A third lobbyist for governments in Asia said part of his job has been telling countries how to react to some of Trump’s controversial remarks.

“If you come out and blast Donald Trump — for the people who are going to vote for Donald Trump, that could make them like him more,” the lobbyist, who also represents foreign companies with a large presence in the U.S., said he has told foreign leaders.

090415coletoonBut it’s not just Trump making these comments.  Cruz has suggested we carpet bomb all areas around ISIS including areas containing huge numbers of civilians leading our military leaders to suggest that they’ve trained their soldiers to disobey illegal and unconstitutional orders.  Kasich discussed redefining NATO in the debate last night.  There is nothing moderate or rational about any of these men.  But, how out of line are these outrageous views with Americans?  Polls still find that Americans approve of torture even though it violates our nation’s commitment to the Geneva Convention.  Chances are that this poll reflects a huge number resident in the Republican base.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe torture can be justified to extract information from suspected terrorists, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, a level of support similar to that seen in countries like Nigeria where militant attacks are common.

The poll reflects a U.S. public on edge after the massacre of 14 people in San Bernardino in December and large-scale attacks in Europe in recent months, including a bombing claimed by the militant group Islamic State last week that killed at least 32 people in Belgium.

Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, has forcefully injected the issue of whether terrorism suspects should be tortured into the election campaign.

This can only be the result of years of letting our political discourse sink to bottom feeder levels through vehicles like Fox News, right wing radio and blogs, and astroturf organizations like the Tea Party.  Former SOS Clinton indicated earlier this month that she was receiving tweets from World Leaders offering any help they can to her in the effort to defeat Trump in the general.  Its hard to imagine Trump, Cruz or Kasich receiving tweets from any one on that level even as one of them caroms towards their party’s nomination.

Hillary Clinton  says foreign leaders are privately reaching out to her to ask if they can endorse her to stop Donald Trump from becoming president of the United States.

“I am already receiving messages from leaders,” Clinton told an Ohio audience at a Democratic presidential town hall on Sunday night.

“I’m having foreign leaders ask if they can endorse me to stop Donald Trump.”

Trump has demonstrated virtually no knowledge of foreign policy.  How dangerous is his world view? 

He’s suggested using economic warfare to halt China’s territorial moves in the South China Sea and raised the prospect of a fundamental reconsideration of nuclear doctrine by musing about South Korea and Japan acquiring their own atomic arsenal. He says the U.S. should boycott Saudi Arabian oil if the kingdom doesn’t send ground troops to fight ISIS and believes NATO is an anachronism. And he warns he will renegotiate bedrock free trade deals, a prospect that could send serious reverberations through the global economy.

“It is rattling the windows of foreign ministries all over the world,” said CNN’s senior political analyst David Gergen, who has worked for a string of Democratic and Republican presidents.
Trump has gone to great lengths over the past week to explain his foreign policy views, which are often criticized as overly vague. He’s participated in extensive interviews with The Washington Post and The New York Times and delivered a speech — notable because it was carefully pre-written — to the leading pro-Israel group in Washington. He’ll have another opportunity to address foreign policy Tuesday night during a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The interviews reveal Trump as someone who is just as willing to flout the foreign policy establishment as he is the GOP elite. His statements appear to fly in the face of the longstanding assumption underlying U.S. foreign policy — that supporting allies financially, diplomatically and militarily promotes a global system of unfettered free trade, democracy and stability that is overwhelmingly in the national interests of the United States.

Andrew J. Bacevich–writing for The Nation today–argues that Ted Cruz is worse and represents the degeneration of Republican Foreign lk012216dAPC_363_264Policy conservatism.

As the embodiment of this truculence, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, today finding favor among Republicans desperate to derail Donald Trump’s bid for the GOP nomination, stands alone. From the very outset of his candidacy, Cruz has depicted himself as the one genuinely principled conservative in the race. And in comparison to Trump, who is ideologically sui generis, Cruz does qualify as something of a conservative. When it comes to foreign policy, however, Cruz offers not principles but—like Trump himself—raw pugnacity.

Cruz has gone out of his way to deride the pretensions of democracy promoters, mocking “crazy neocon invade-every-country-on-earth” types wanting to “send our kids to die in the Middle East.” On the stump, Cruz advertises himself as Reagan’s one-and-only true heir. As such, he endorses “the clarity of Reagan’s four most important words: ‘We win, they lose.’” Upon closer examination, Cruz is actually advocating something quite different: “We win, they lose, then we walk away.”

The key to “winning” is to unleash American military might. “If I am elected president, we will utterly destroy ISIS,” Cruz vows. “We won’t weaken them. We won’t degrade them. We will utterly destroy them. We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion…. We will do everything necessary so that every militant on the face of the earth will know…if you wage jihad and declare war on America, you are signing your death warrant.”

Yet rather than Reaganesque, Cruz’s prescription for dealing with Islamist radicalism represents a throwback to bomb-them-back-to-the-Stone-Age precepts pioneered by Gen. Curtis LeMay and endorsed by the likes of Barry Goldwater back when obliteration was in fashion. The embryonic Cruz Doctrine offers an approximation of total war. “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out!” he promises with evident enthusiasm.

Nowhere, however, does his outlook take into account costs, whether human, fiscal, or moral. Nor does it weigh the second-order consequences of, say, rendering large parts of Iraq and Syria a smoking ruin or of killing large numbers of noncombatants through campaigns of indiscriminate bombing. In essence, Cruz sees force as a way to circumvent history—a prospect that resonates with Americans annoyed by history’s stubborn complexities.

 Kasich is implying that he’s got the best creds for the job of commander in chief and America’s Top Diplomat.  He may have a better command of geography and history, but is his foreign policy any more sane?

Kasich has survived so far by keeping his head down and winning his home state of Ohio. But now that he is one of only three candidates remaining in the race, the former congressman and current Governor of Ohio will face the kind of media scrutiny that he has managed to avoid since he announced his candidacy. It will show that he is an outright mediocrity.

Kasich served on the House Armed Services Committee for eighteen years, where his strong beliefs on fiscal responsibility and budget cutting earned him the moniker of the “cheap hawk.” He accomplished next to nothing, apart from limiting the procurement of B-2 bombers.

During his long tenure in Congress, Kasich casted a number of votes on war-and-peace issues, voting for the Gulf War in 1991 but opposing Ronald Reagan’s decision in 1983 to send U.S. Marines to Lebanon for a peacekeeping mission. He reminds voters during town hall meetings and debates that the United States should get out of the business of nation-building and should stay far away from manufacturing democracies around the world. But he also floated the preposterous idea that the way to stop ISIS in its tracks is for the next president to create a new government agency to “beam messages around the globe” about the American credo of liberty.

At times, it is difficult to pinpoint what kind of foreign policy doctrine a potential President John Kasich would follow. He’s asserted that Russian President Vladimir Putin has gotten away with far too much during the Obama administration, including his annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, his military and economic support to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, and his decision to send fighter jets into Syria to strengthen the defenses of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. “[I]t’s time that we punched the Russians in the nose,” Kasich told radio host Hugh Hewitt during a December presidential debate. “They’ve gotten away with too much in this world, and we need to stand up against them . . . in Eastern Europe where they threaten some of our most precious allies.”

On other issues, like the nuclear agreement with Iran, Kasich has oscillated between common sense (“You’re going to rip it up and then what?”), depressed resignation (“I’m sort of sick to my stomach about it because . . . Iran’s going to get a ton of money”) to defiant opposition (“if I were president, I would call them and say, I’m sorry, but we’re suspending this agreement”). With respect to the Islamic State, Kasich has emphasized coalition building with Arab allies similar to George H.W. Bush’s alliance building during the Persian Gulf War—a safe position that is just muscular enough to pass muster with Republican voters, but benign enough that it wouldn’t raise the eyebrows of realists who call the party home.

The looming question is whether John Kasich is hawkish enough for the GOP foreign policy establishment, a club that has been heavily influenced by neoconservative thinking for the past fifteen years.

At least “outright mediocrity” wont scare the children. It won’t scare ISIS either.ted-cruz-cartoon-sack

It’s been incredible to watch Bernie Sanders with his generalities and overreaching promises dodge serious foreign policies questions through out the Democratic Debates.  He tends to fall back on insisting that his vote against the Iran Resolution just says it all.  It doesn’t, however. His generalities fall way short of Clinton’s recall of names and her credentials as the nation’s chief foreign policy negotiator. I have to say that I learn a little bit more about the entire world each time she steps to the podium and takes a foreign policy question or makes a foreign policy speech.

Imagine what the debates and town halls in the general will look like when she takes on one of these candidates from the party in total disarray. My guess is that entire countries will be cheering for her.

I should close here but I’d like to share this with you so you can see that she will be our candidate for the fall despite the bleating and chest thumping of the cult of Bern. Here’s Nate Silver’s estimate of Bernie’s long shot path from today.  It is beyond improbable that he can get 988 more pledged delegates and romance the Super D’s. Yes, there is one more campaign out there in Bizarro and it’s not a Republican one.

If you’re a Sanders supporter, you might look at the map and see some states — Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Montana and so forth — that look pretty good for Sanders, a lot like the ones that gave Sanders landslide wins earlier in the campaign. But those states have relatively few delegates. Instead, about 65 percent of the remaining delegates are in California, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland — all states where Sanders trails Clinton in the polls and sometimes trails her by a lot.

To reach a pledged delegate majority, Sanders will have to win most of the delegates from those big states. A major loss in any of them could be fatal to his chances. He could afford to lose one or two of them narrowly, but then he’d need to make up ground elsewhere — he’d probably have to win California by double digits, for example.

Sanders will also need to gain ground on Clinton in a series of medium-sized states such as Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky and New Mexico. Demographics suggest that these states could be close, but close won’t be enough for Sanders. He’ll need to win several of them easily.

None of this is all that likely. Frankly, none of it is at all likely. If the remaining states vote based on the same demographic patterns established by the previous ones, Clinton will probably gain further ground on Sanders. If they vote as state-by-state polling suggests they will, Clinton could roughly double her current advantage over Sanders and wind up winning the nomination by 400 to 500 pledged delegates.

The nation and the world should breathe a collective sigh of relief when Clinton wins the nomination and the presidency.  The alternatives to Hillary are the stuff of national nightmares.  In fact, they would be a global nightmare and the majority of the US and the world knows it.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Live Blog: Republican Town Hall Zone Extreme Wrestling Edition The Talkie in Milwaukee!!!!

trump-wwe

Good Evening and Welcome to yet another Live Blog!

 What exactly will happen when Donald Trump and  Ted Cruz get a chance to air the acrimony between them in a town hall setting tonight in Milwaukee is any one’s guess,  My guess it that it will be Extreme Wisconsin!  Yes, it’s a live blog on The Talkie in Milwaukee!  CNN’S Anderson Cooper will moderate. Ohio Governor John Kasich–card boy for the evening–also continues his attempts to remain relevant.  The Town Hall comes a week before Wisconsin’s April 5th primary.
Trump and Cruz are in the midst of the campaign’s most bitter, personal fight. It started when Trump blamed Cruz for an unaffiliated super PAC’s ad featuring a nearly naked Melania Trump, without any evidence that Cruz was behind it. Then Trump attacked Heidi Cruz.
It’s gotten bad enough that Cruz wouldn’t say in an interview with CNN’s Sunlen Serfaty on Monday whether he’ll still back Trump if he wins the Republican nomination.
I’m not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my family,” Cruz said. “Donald Trump is not gonna be the nominee. We are gonna beat him for this nomination.”
Trump, meanwhile, has threatened lawsuits over the Cruz campaign’s success in picking up 10 extra delegates in Louisiana, even though Trump actually won the state.
 cruzjpeg-6080818af218b6feThere are several issues that will be looming in the air. The question is if the topic will come up.  Topic number 1 is the National Enquirer rumors about Cruz’s extramarital romps.donald-trump-sumo-300x170

The National Enquirer accused Ted Cruz of having five mistresses, John Kasich somehow managed to offend both the overeducated and the undereducated, and Donald Trump’s campaign manager has been charged with assaulting a journalist. Expect roughly zero of those things to be mentioned tonight if all goes according to plan.

 Tonight’s questions will be coming from The People™ so we can safely bet on three things: 1) Donald Trump will accuse anyone giving him anything approximating a tough question as being a Republican establishment plant, 2) Cruz will answer the question he wished he was asked rather than the one he’s actually asked, and 3) Kasich’s answers will be roughly 80 percent less exciting than the list of side effects you hear during tonight’s drug commercials.
cruz-wwf-FILLIBUSTER-1Topic Number 2 is the misdemeanor battery charge against Trump Campaign Aid Corey Lewandowski.  Will this story have legs?

Nearly a month of jousting on social media culminated Tuesday in the arrest of a top Donald Trump presidential campaign aide on misdemeanor battery charges following a March 8 incident involving a reporter.

Michelle Fields, then with the online Breitbart News Service, alleges that Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski forcefully grabbed her at a news conference at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter.

Lewandowski — who has denied wrongdoing and who the Trump campaign said will plead not guilty — turned himself in to town police just before 8 a.m. Tuesday, in what Jupiter Police Chief Frank Kitzerow described as “a very straightforward procedure.”

Lewandowski was issued a notice to appear on a misdemeanor battery charge. The New York City resident is expected in Palm Beach County Circuit Court May 4.

Fields filed a report with police within a week of the incident. On Tuesday, town police released surveillance footage of the alleged battery they said corroborated Fields’ claims, prompting them to file the battery charges.

Hang in here with us if you can stomach it!   We’ll bring the smelling salts.  They’ll bring the EXTREME!!!

Tuesday Reads: Today’s News and Old Barns

Barn and blue sky in North Dakota

Old barn and blue sky in North Dakota

Good Morning!!

What I’ve got for you this morning is mostly a link dump. There is so much interesting news today that it’s difficult to pick and choose. So here we go.

Ancient History

The “fossilized remains” of a real unicorn have been discovered, according to CNN.

New research has revealed the ‘Siberian unicorn’ roamed the planet far more recently than we originally thought….This real unicorn, or ‘Elasmotherium sibiricu’, was originally thought to have gone extinct 350,000 years ago.

But a well-preserved fossilized skull found in Kazakhstan reveals the shaggy creature was still alive and walking this earth a mere 29,000 years ago, according to a study published this month in the American Journal of Applied Sciences….
The team are hoping the find will help them understand what environmental factors played a part in the eventual extinction of the species, and what role migration played in its survival up until that point.
Something they think might come in useful considering our current climate change situation.

Check out the drawing of what this animal may have looked like at the link.

Kansas barn and windmill, by Dan Heddon

Kansas barn and windmill, by Dan Heddon

Apple vs. FBI Battle

After a months-long legal battle, the “FBI has accessed San Bernardino shooter’s phone without Apple’s help.”  Washington Post:

In a three-sentence filing, prosecutors wrote that they had “now successfully accessed the data” stored on Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone and that they consequently no longer needed Apple’s court-ordered help getting in. The stunning move averts a courtroom showdown pitting Apple against the government — and privacy interests against security concerns — that many in the tech community had warned might set dangerous precedents.

It is unclear how, precisely, investigators got into the phone, or what FBI agents learned about the plot from the materials they were able to review. On the eve of a hearing in the case last week, the FBI had signaled that it might have found a way into Farook’s device, writing in a court filing that “an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method.” But government officials said they wanted to test that method further before employing it in Farook’s case, and they did not offer details about who proposed it or how it would work.

I’m glad this happened, because I don’t think technology companies should be able to make their devices completely inaccessible to law enforcement. Of course a warrant should be required; but if cell phones and other portable devices are made completely secure—-it will be nearly impossible to catch terrorists, child pornographers, and other such vicious criminals who attempt to conceal their crimes with encryption.

And making their phones inaccessible even to hacking by Apple itself is what this company is working toward, according to a story I heard on Radio Boston (NPR) last week. They eventually hope to design encryption such that only the user has access to the data on his or her phone–even Apple would not be able to break in. Farook’s phone was an iPhone 5. If it had been an iPhone 6, it would have been even more difficult to hack.

More links:

Fortune: FBI Might Not Tell Apple How It Cracked the iPhone.

This one is from a privacy obsessive. Trevor Timm: The FBI may have dropped one case against Apple, but the battle is far from over.

LA Times: FBI hacks iPhone: Does this make your phone less private?

Barn in Southhampton, by Ellsworth Kelly

Barn in Southhampton, by Ellsworth Kelly

Stalker Hijacks Plane to Get to Ex-Wife

USA Today: Hijacker arrested after EgyptAir plane diverted to Cyprus airport.

CAIRO — An Egyptian man hijacked a passenger plane and forced it to land at Larnaca airport in Cyprus on Tuesday in an incident that Cyprus’ president said was related to a woman, not terrorism….

Egyptian authorities told a news conference that little more than a half hour after takeoff, a passenger confronted the pilot with a bomb threat. The man originally wanted to land in either Turkey or Cyprus, and after some negotiation they agreed on Larnaca. The plane touched down at 7:50 a.m.

The man did not have a gun, but there was still a danger to passengers and crew because officials were unsure if the bomb was real or fake, authorities said. Officials reached out to the families of the hostages to let them know what happened….

Cyprus’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs named the suspected hijacker as Seif Eldin Mustafa. The Egyptian government apologized to a man it earlier wrongly named as the hijacker, Al Arabiya reported.

Cypriot state media reported that the hijacker’s ex-wife was taken from Larnaca to the airport to talk with the man, who was asking authorities deliver a 4-page-letter to her or he would detonate explosives strapped to his body.

More info fromCyprus Mail: Hijacker used mobile phone covers in fake suicide belt.

Falling Barn, by Dana Middleton

Falling Barn, by Dana Middleton

Washington DC Shooting

Washington Post: Alleged Capitol gunman charged in shooting incident.

A man who authorities said took out a gun and pointed it at officers as he tried to enter the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on Monday was shot by police, prompting a scramble by law enforcement amid heightened security after terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris.

Authorities identified the wounded suspect as Larry Russell Dawson, a minister from Tennessee. The 66-year-old Dawson previously was arrested in October in the District after he allegedly disrupted Congress by shouting that he was a “prophet of God.”

Police said Dawson walked into the visitor center about 2:40 p.m. Monday and was going through security screening when at least one officer opened fire. In the chaotic moments that followed, loudspeaker alerts warned tourists in the center of an “active shooter,” and officers yelled at people to get down.

Police swarmed the Capitol grounds, raised barricades and put the Capitol building and, briefly, the White House under lockdown, upending an otherwise tranquil day when Congress was in recess and tourists were flocking to the cherry blossoms and the White House Easter Egg Roll. Officers with long rifles stood guard at District intersections.

Two hours later, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa calmed nerves by saying that investigators “believe this is an act of a single person who has frequented the Capitol grounds before. There is no reason to believe this is anything more than a criminal act.”

Monday night, police said Dawson had been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a police officer while armed. They said he was in stable but critical condition and would appear in D.C. Superior Court after his release from the hospital. Two officials familiar with the case said Dawson was shot in the chest and thigh.

Washington Post this morning: Streets around U.S. Capital Visitor Center reopened after suspicious packages.

Old barn in Nebraska

Old barn in Nebraska

Politics News

Thankfully, we’re in the midst of a break from the presidential primaries, but here’s today’s news on the political front. First up, fallout from Bernie Sanders surrogate Susan Sarandon’s bizarre interview on Chris Hayes MSNBC show last night. The Daily Beast quotes the gist of it:

“I think, in certain quarters, there’s growing concern that the folks that are into Bernie Sanders have come to despise Hillary Clinton or reject Hillary Clinton and that should she be the nominee, which is as yet undetermined, they will walk away,” Hayes said.

“That’s a legitimate concern,” Sarandon replied. “Because they’re very passionate and principled.”

“But isn’t that crazy?” the host asked. “If you believe in what he believes in?”

“Yeah but she doesn’t,” Sarandon shot back. “She accepted money for all of those people. She doesn’t even want to fight for a $15 minimum wage. So these are people that have not come out before. So why would we think they’re going to come out now for her, you know?”

…Hayes pressed Sarandon to see the election as potentially a choice between Clinton and Trump, arguing that Sanders himself would “probably” urge his supporters to vote for her.

“I think Bernie would probably encourage people, because he doesn’t have any ego in this thing,” Sarandon told him. “But I think a lot of people are, ‘Sorry, I just can’t bring myself to [vote for Clinton].’”

“How about you personally?” Hayes asked.

“I don’t know. I’m going to see what happens,” Sarandon said.

That bit of honesty prompted Hayes to stop in his tracks. “Really?” he asked incredulously.

But this is the most incredible statement from Sarandon.

“Well, you know, some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately,” Sarandon said. “If he gets in, then things will really explode.”

Old barn near Yorktown, Indiana

Old barn near Yorktown, Indiana

Jonathan Capehart: What Susan Sarandon said about Trump was out of this world.

When Hayes asked Sarandon if she didn’t think that argument was “dangerous,” she said, “The status quo is not working, and I think it’s dangerous to think that we can continue the way we are with the militarized police force, with privatized prisons, with the death penalty, with the low minimum wage, with threats to women’s rights and think that you can’t do something huge to turn that around.” ….

But the Academy Award-winning actress displayed the downside of such fervent participation: the inability or unwillingness of too many to see that their insistence on political purity could lead to calamity.

This is not Sarandon’s first time making the perfect the enemy of the good. In the 2000 presidential campaign, when misguided progressives believed that a vote for Vice President Al Gore was the same as voting for then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush, she was an active supporter of Ralph Nader. And we all know how that turned out.

It defies logic that a progressive would find anything redeeming about the Trump candidacy. Sure, the Republican presidential front-runner “will bring the revolution immediately” if, God help us, he’s elected. But that revolution would be fueled by a campaign that thrived on racism, xenophobia and misogyny. And, as far as we know, that revolution would involve deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants, restricting all Muslims from entering the United States and alternately treating women like pretty prized possessions or objects of ridicule.

Clinton is not perfect. We all know it. And she would be the first to admit it. But it is monumentally insane to argue that a Trump in the White House would be preferable to a Clinton in the Oval Office.

No kidding. Both MSNBC and Chris Hayes own this now. MSNBC has been allowing Trump and Sanders to dominate their airwaves throughout this campaign. The Morning Joe Show has acted as cheerleader for Trump, and the prime time programs have run numerous Trump speeches in full. Hayes and Rachel Maddow have been openly backing Sanders. And now Hayes has invited this freak onto his show to spout her vile idiocy. Sarandon is worth $50 million. She would do just fine under a Trump presidency, and clearly she doesn’t give a shit what happens to the rest of us.

Old barn in Northern California

Old barn in Northern California

More politics stories:

NBC News: Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski Charged With Battery for Incident With Reporter.

Politico: Obama scolds media for enabling Trump. The job of a political reporter, Obama said, is ‘more than just handing someone a microphone.’

Nate Cohn at the NYT: Bernie Sanders Faces Tougher Terrain After a Big Week.

Politico: Clinton camp on Sanders: ‘What kind of a campaign is that?’

XOJane: An Open Letter to Trump Supporters From His Top Strategist Turned Defector.

Bloomberg: Trump Struggles With Presidential Demeanor Ahead of Wisconsin Primary.

Politico NJ: Heidi Cruz cancels N.J. campaign events.

The Atlantic: A Narrow Escape for Public-Sector Unions. The justices split 4-4 in Friedrichs v. CTA, leaving a pro-union ruling in the lower courts intact.

What stories are you following today?


Monday Reads: Sing! Sing! Sing! Sweet Fat Lady!

Amalie_Materna_as_Brünhilde_1876_-_IL1

Good Afternoon!

We’re beginning to make that transition from primary season to the lull before the General Election.  I thought I’d celebrate the shift with some reads that signal the shift or should signal the shift.   I’ve really been struck by the number of people that really don’t understand how parties choose their candidates and seem to be following the overall results on a state by state basis even when that state basically doesn’t add much to the delegate count.  The other thing that’s rather astounding is the number of people that seem to think that a party sponsored election for delegates is akin to a normal election. This is when I really feel the irony of the situation.

We have two outsider populist candidates running for election within a party system. Neither of them has been either active or genuine members of that party.  Their followers are apoplectic by the scent of cigars in the backrooms and conventions of the state and national parties. I’m being somewhat cynical in that I think both of these candidates had to realize at some point that the parties were not going to be all that accommodating to them running amok.  Their voters, however, appear to be completely stumped and angered because it’s pretty much the kind of behavior that has driven them straight to the arms of populist charlatans.

So by now, you’ve figured out that it’s Bernie and Trump and their voters with the lack of knowledge and understanding of primary and party dynamics.  Let me get started by saying that I’ve always supported a national set of primaries with openness to any party that can get to some kind of threshold TBD.  I have felt that they should be regulated by the Feds to ensure that no one is disenfranchised and that they should be in keeping with the spirit of the Voting Rights Act.  So this viewpoint is not in the interest of the duopoly that is our two party system,  It’s also not in keeping with the philosophy of the party that loves “local control” and “states’ rights”.

Irony is not lost on me when I read that Trump is talking about suing the State of Louisiana over the tricks that the Cruz campaign pulledyogi-art1 at the party convention.  His voters tend to hate big gubermint, yet it’s federal control of primary elections that would eliminate these back channel deals. The problem in Louisiana is basically the delegates won by Marco Rubio. Rubio suspended his campaign. He has delegates that were basically elected but they now have a dead candidate. They’ve essentially become free agents as zombie delegates.

Following a report that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may win more delegates in Louisiana’s primary than Donald Trump, even though Trump won the state, the Republican presidential frontrunner threatened to file a lawsuit on Sunday.

Trump complained about the “rotten political system” during a Sunday interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

“The Republican tabulation system is a broken system. It’s not fair,” he said.

“I won Louisiana and now I hear he’s trying to steal delegates,” Trump added, referring to Cruz. “What’s going on in the Republican Party is a disgrace. I have so many more votes and so many more delegates.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Republican in Louisiana expect the five unbound delegates that had been awarded to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to back Cruz now that the Florida senator is out of the race. Cruz’s supporters have also secured key positions on convention committees, which could help the Texas senator at a contested convention, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Jason Doré, the executive director of the Louisiana Republican primary, told the Times-Picayune that the party is “really confident in the rules” and is prepared for a lawsuit from Trump.

Doré said that any disagreement over Rubio’s delegates is “is between Mr. Trump and those guys,” and added that the delegates have not yet made any final decision.

Zombie delegates may also wind up being very important should Trump not achieve the proper amount prior to the Republican National Convention.   If Trump can’t win on the first ballot, then Zombie delegates can go anywhere.

“Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd took on the issue Sunday of why Donald Trump needs to score a first-ballot win at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer.

The reason?

Delegates who may support Trump on the first ballot, but could abandon him after that.

Here’s the transript from the show:

CHUCK TODD:

Donald Trump is in a race to 1,237. It’s a number now we’re all getting used to and familiar with. And he can’t afford to miss hitting that magic number. And here’s why. Because there’s already an effort underway to stop him on a second ballot at the convention in Cleveland. Right now, Trump has 752 delegates and a 282 delegate lead over Ted Cruz.

In order to hit the magic 1,237 majority number and earn that glide path the nomination, Trump has to win 54 percent of the remaining delegates. And he has some favorable contests coming up, like his home state of New York, which has 95 delegates up for grabs, and a winner-take-all state of New Jersey, where maybe his buddy Chris Christie can help him win those 51 delegates.

But, the race is already on to create sort of delegate double agents. If Trump fails to win that majority on the first ballot these are people who will promise to dump Trump on the second ballot. And then there’s an effort underway to mobilize zombie delegates. These are delegates who are pledged to candidates who have dropped out of the race.

They could switch their vote over to someone else in the race, maybe even on the first ballot. Maybe it’s Cruz, maybe it’s Trump. So to discuss all of this, I’m joined by our resident zombie expert, Ben Ginsberg, Republican delegate guru, who served, of course, as lead counsel to the Bush/Cheney campaign of 2000 and he was Mitt Romney’s lawyer in 2012. So the zombie apocalypse will hit Cleveland.

So we have free-agent delegates, we have zombie delegates. I want to talk about the free-agent delegates first, because we have Donald Trump this morning already angry about this. Louisiana, he wins the primary big, he should get a lion’s share of the delegates. The Cruz campaign claims they actually are going to have more delegates out of Louisiana, a state they lost, than Trump. How did they do it? Explain.

BEN GINSBERG:

The way they managed to do it is that 44 of the 56 states and territories give the candidates no role in choosing who the delegates will pick.

CHUCK TODD:

Who the individuals are.

BEN GINSBERG:

Who the individuals are. And so a well-organized campaign will go into all these state conventions and state executive committee meetings and manage to get supporters of theirs. They’ll be bound on the first ballot to the winner of their state primary, but not for any of the procedural rules issues, and not for the second ballot.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. So they’re the double agents. Now, let’s talk about zombie delegates. These are the people, and I want to put up a graphic here. There are a group of unbound delegates. We know there were always going to be over about a hundred, we’ve done the math here, over about a hundred of them, 169 of them come from states that have chosen not to hold a contest, Colorado chief among them. And then there’s another 175 of the zombie delegates. These are people, mostly Marco Rubio delegates out of Virginia and Minnesota, but there a handful of Carson, maybe one or two Jeb Bush’s. What is their role in all of this?

So basically, this is a problem with free delegates, zombie delegates and double agents.   I learned about all of this from Ginsberg and Todd on Sunday.

Bernie’s issues are different.  He’s way behind but his campaign has decided to try to hype up his supporters, continue fundraising, and fat-lady2whine about the delegate math set up by the Democratic Party.  We’ve been seeing the Deadenders for Bernie for some time now.   It’s been basically over since the Steel Magnolias of the South Sung.  But, we’ve been seeing all kinds of attempts by the campaign to spin a different tune.   Sanders–who was once berating superdelegates–has been actively courting them.  However, that’s backfiring according to Reuters. It seems that we have more instances of BernieBro Bullying.

Interviews with 10 of the 505 super delegates supporting Clinton Reuters has reached show that nine of them have been approached by people purporting to back Sanders, and nearly all were displeased by the tone of the outreach.

Isabel Framer of Ohio, a superdelegate for Clinton, for example, got a voice mail last week urging her to vote for Sanders “in accordance with the will of the people.”

On the voice mail, heard by Reuters, the anonymous male caller says: “I think it’s crap that you get to vote whichever way you want… I’ll be watching your vote.”

“I’m not easily frightened,” Framer told Reuters. “I’m not going to change a vote over threats.”

Akilah Ensley, a North Carolina superdelegate, said she started hearing more often from Sanders supporters after her name appeared on a Wikipedia list noting her support for Clinton. “Some of them were nice, and some were rather abrasive,” she said, adding “attacking my decisions is probably not the best way” to change her mind.

Luis Heredia, an Arizona superdelegate for Clinton, said he has received over 30 phone calls, emails and instant messages from Sanders supporters. “The majority of them are more angry, and the tone is more demanding,” Heredia said.

Lacy Johnson, an Indiana superdelegate backing Clinton, meanwhile, said he had received a mix of messages, including one that he said threatened: “we will make you pay.”

Andres Ramirez, a political consultant in Las Vegas, Nevada, and a superdelegate supporting Clinton, said in the past campaigns would typically try to soft-sell their candidates rather than use pressure tactics.

“The way this has gone down, in my experience, has never happened before,” said.

Sanders continues to attack the party which probably isn’t the best approach when wooing party insiders.

 “Bernie’s campaign is focused on reaching out to all voters and earning delegates at primaries and caucuses,” he said in a statement, stressing that the Sanders campaign was not coordinating with supporters to contact superdelegates.

However, the unofficial push could complicate the U.S. Senator from Vermont’s efforts to woo the critical bloc in the coming months.

The effort has at times taken an angry tone, some of the messages reviewed by Reuters showed, reflecting the anti-establishment tinge of the 2016 presidential race where many voters are unhappy with Washington insiders.

Some 85 percent of the 4,763 delegate votes to the Democratic National Convention that will decide who will face a Republican rival in the November election are determined by the results of states’ nominating contests. But the remaining 15 percent are held by superdelegates, who get to vote however they like – meaning they could hold the key to a tight contest.

Superdelegates are made up of party leaders and elected Senators, members of Congress, and governors. The Democratic party adopted the system in the early 1980s as a way of giving party leaders more control over the nominating process, though they have yet to play a decisive role in a nomination.

“The idea there is that you’ve got people who have a long view … who have, arguably, the best interests of the party at heart,” said Terri Fine, a professor of political science at the University of Central Florida.

fat-lady-singing-warningBernie’s folks continue to see all states and all primary efforts as equal.  The Michigan win may have been meaningful, but this weekend’s Western Caucuses were not.  I’ve had to continually remind my Bernie friends that the Washington Caucus gave the state win to Howard Dean AFTER he’d lost the election.  But, hope and not math, springs eternal with these folks who still keep pouring money down the Bernie Drain.  It is going to give us about a week of insufferable Bernie worship.

Hillary’s popular vote lead was almost identical before and after Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii voted.

According to the website RealClearPolitics, 15.3 million Democratic primary voters had cast their ballots prior to Saturday. Of those voters, 8.9 million had voted for Hillary, and 6.4 million had voted for Bernie. This amounts to a margin of 58% vs. 42% — a blowout margin by most electoral standards.

Saturday’s voters preferred Bernie by a large margin, but these were small states. As of Sunday, official reports only showed about 60 thousand total votes in the three states, while the higher estimates of party officials still indicated fewer than 300 thousand total votes. This means that the overall popular vote remains basically unchanged: Hillary has roughly 9 million votes, while Bernie still has roughly 6 and a half million. Translated into percentages, the total effect of Bernie’s “landslide” victories was that Hillary is still winning 58% to 42%. Only if you add a decimal point does Bernie’s Western sweep even change the percentages.

The Donald has a huge woman voter problem that he may be sharing with Sanders now.  Sanders may be catching up to Trump quickly because he gave his wife a rude, public brush off with a condescending wave and a few brusque words.  Twitter was agog yesterday feeling the Bern bullying his wife. No woman whose been a wife could miss it.

There’s an awkward video of Bernie Sanders and Bernie’s interaction with his wife Jane Sanders that’s making the rounds, and it’s not a good look for Bernie. Senator Sanders was speaking in Madison, Wisconsin, when the “snub” against Jane happened. The Democratic presidential candidate spoke at a campaign stop on Saturday, March 26, with Bernie being exuberant over his recent victory — however, during that celebration, Sanders made a move against Jane that isn’t going down well over the Interwebs.

Additionally, Bernie is spending a ton of money on those huge rallies.fat-lady-sings

Bernie Sanders’ revolution may be growing directly from the grass roots, but he’s paying top dollar for the places where it’s coming together.

In February, the Sanders campaign, flush with cash from its small-donor network, spent $1.6 million on site rentals, ticketing and “sound/stage/lighting,” pursuing ever-larger venues for his followers to gather in, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

And the spending this month may well exceed February. On Friday, for instance, the Sanders campaign is staging a pep rally for the Washington state caucuses at Safeco Field in Seattle, the Mariners’ baseball stadium that holds up to 54,000 people.

It’s a sign that the Sanders campaign plans to keep spending big as it works to compete with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton across the board.

Meanwhile, the Beltway Press has moved on.  This is from The Hill today:  Who will be the 2016 running mates?  Bernie may be holding huge vanity rallies but his name is missing from this piece.

Now that GOP front-runner Donald Trump has released the names of some of his foreign policy advisers, it’s only a matter of time before pundits, reporters and voters start demanding to know whom he intends to pick as his vice presidential running mate.

When politely asked now, Trump responds, “I need to win the nomination first. After that, I’ll think about it.”

To the untrained eye, this seems like a reasonable answer; however, no insider I know believes The Donald hasn’t already begun to create a short list of possible candidates.

Ditto Hillary Clinton. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has been around the block too many times not to have several running mates in mind, even if it still is March.

Here are some more examples of folks telling Bernie to listen to that singing lady.  From the LATIMES: As California primary nears, state Democrats are uniting behind Clinton and against a common enemy: Trumpimages (8)

Most of Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ supporters in California say they expect that come November, Hillary Clinton will be elected president — and, by and large, they’re OK with that.

While both Democratic camps prepare for a final battle in the state’s June 7 primary, the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times statewide poll found that just over half of Sanders’ supporters said they expected Clinton to be the next president. About a third of Sanders’ backers said they expected the Vermont senator to emerge the winner, and 12% said they thought Donald Trump would prevail.

Close to 8 in 10 Sanders supporters said in the survey that they would vote for Clinton in a race against Trump, although many said they would do so reluctantly.

Those findings show the reality underlying the still-heated rhetoric of the Democratic primaries: By contrast with the civil war that divides Republicans,Democrats in the country’s largest state have begun to coalesce behind their front-runner.

Harshaw_Bruennhilde[1]Meanwhile, Bernie is dying for more debates.  The Clinton Campaign is beginning to pushback. They have little to gain if Bernie continues to attack her while each debate brings no new information to the table.

Hillary Clinton’s chief campaign strategist laid into Bernie Sanders’ camp on Monday for its insistence upon a debate before the April 19 primary in New York, remarking that the Vermont senator has reneged on his promise to avoid running a negative campaign and therefore does not get to dictate the terms of any future debates.

Appearing on CNN, Joel Benenson was asked about comments from the Sanders campaign over the weekend calling for another debate before the New York primary, though he said he did not see that as the most notable story out of the weekend. Instead, he referred to a Washington Post story in which Sanders’ campaign discussed possible efforts to sharpen rhetoric against the former secretary of state. “They’re talking about running harsher negatives now,” Benenson said, responding that he was not distracting from the issue but explaining the campaign’s stance.

“Because I think the real question is what kind of campaign is Sen. Sanders going to run going forward,” Benenson remarked. “He pumped $4 million in the weekend before March 15, and he lost all five states on March 15. They spent about $4 million running negative ads.”

“This is a man who said he’d never run a negative ad ever. He’s now running them, they’re now planning to run more,” he continued. “Let’s see the tone of the campaign he wants to run before we get to any other questions.”

CNN’s Kate Bolduan then inquired why the campaign would not agree to debate in New York despite agreeing in January to more debates. Benenson responded, “Because we agreed to debates up to a certain point. We’re now out campaigning in these states.”

“What’s the risk?” Bolduan asked.

“There’s no risk. She’s done very well in the debates. The debates have been very good, but Sen. Sanders doesn’t get to decide when we debate, particularly when he’s running a very negative campaign against us. Let’s see if he goes back to the kind of tone he said he was going to set early on. If he does that, then we’ll talk about debates,” Benenson said.

It seems that everyone but the Bernie Bros is getting tired of Bernie the Bully.  Listen to the chorus of singing fat ladies instead of the songs of angry men for a change!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Happy Easter! Open Thread

Happy Easter!

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While I am getting a juicy post up for you, take a look at some lovely vintage postcards….or updated looks at Virgin Mary, nuns and Saints.

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