Monday Reads: Babies for Hillary

trump_w_babiesGood Afternoon Sky Dancers!

It’s been another weird week in the good ol’ USA.  New Jersey seems to be the epicenter of cray cray these days. It doesn’t quite rival Florida yet, however.  The coverage of the US presidential election may have taken a turn and a few of the polls are looking up for the future of all civilization.  Meanwhile, I’m still down here in the swampland of America in need of a plan.  Let’s look at some of the weirdness that is the news these days.

Peter Beinart–writing for The Atlantic–has noticed a distinct change of tone at the NYT since they got played good by Trump on Friday’s extended advertisement for a hotel.  They may have gotten their mojo back.  Or not.  Beinart is hoping some of the worst of modern journalism is going away.  We have a ray of hope that there may be some Fourth Estate left in the old girl yet!

But the Times, once a champion practitioner of the “he said, she said” campaign story, discarded it with astonishing bluntness. The Times responded to Trump’s press conference by running a “News Analysis,” a genre that gives reporters more freedom to explain a story’s significance. But “News Analysis” pieces generally supplement traditional news stories. On Saturday, by contrast, the Times ran its “News Analysis” atop Page One while relegating its news story on Trump’s press conference to page A10. Moreover, “News Analysis” stories generally offer context. They don’t offer thundering condemnation.

Yet thundering condemnation is exactly what the Times story provided. Its headline read, “Trump Gives Up a Lie But Refuses to Repent.” Not “falsehood,” which leaves open the possibility that Trump was merely mistaken, but “lie,” which suggests, accurately, that Trump had every reason to know that what he was saying about Obama’s citizenship was false.

The article’s text was even more striking. It read like an opinion column. It began by reciting the history of Trump’s campaign to discredit Obama’s citizenship. “It was not true in 2011,” began the first paragraph. “It was not true in 2012,” began the second paragraph. “It was not true in 2014,” began the third paragraph. Then, in the fourth paragraph: “It was not true, any of it.” The article called Trump’s claim that he had put to rest rumors about Obama’s citizenship “a bizarre new deception” and his allegation that Clinton had fomented them “another falsehood.” Then, in summation, it declared that while Trump has “exhausted an army of fact checkers with his mischaracterizations, exaggerations and fabrications,” the birther lie was particularly “insidious” because it “sought to undo the embrace of an African American president by the 69 million voters who elected him.”

Insert Mic Drop here.14333838_10154033897518512_306036228290653814_n

Hillary Clinton volunteers here in Louisiana are working diligently to GOTV in Florida. This is why I’m watching the polls of that state carefully. It’s also because it may be the only state that can shut down a potential Trump presidency completely.  Sound familiar?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump are nearly tied in a four-way race for Florida’s key electoral votes, according to a New York Times Upshot/Siena College Research Institute poll of likely Florida voters released today.  Clinton currently has the support of 41 percent of likely voters to Trump’s 40 percent with former Governor Gary Johnson garnering 9 percent and Green Party Candidate Jill Stein with 2 percent.  Senator Marco Rubio leads his Democratic challenger, Congressman Patrick Murphy by 48 to 42 percent.

Likely voters support passage of additional federal gun control legislation (49-43 percent), oppose building a wall the length of the Mexican border (50-43 percent), and favor, rather than oppose government stimulus programs (44-37 percent).  But, they disapprove of the Affordable Care Act (51-42 percent), and are evenly divided when it comes to deporting undocumented immigrants here illegally (44-43 percent).

“Trump has as large a lead among Republicans (78 points) as Clinton does with Democrats (77 points) and independents are evenly split at 34 percent for Trump and 32 percent for Clinton with 18 percent for Johnson.  Women lean towards Clinton but men tend to support Trump,” said Siena College Poll Director Don Levy. “Trump leads in the North, Bay Area and Central portions of the state, while Clinton leads in the vote rich Southeast and the Southwest is a toss-up.

“There is not only a significant gender gap in this race, but also large racial divides,” Levy said. “Trump is up 51 to 30 percent among white voters, while Clinton has a commanding 82-4 percent lead with African-Americans and 61-21 percent among Hispanics/Latinos.”

“Both candidates suffer from a majority of Florida voters having an unfavorable opinion of them.  Clinton is viewed favorably by 40 percent and unfavorably by 53 percent while Trump’s numbers are 39 positive and 55 percent negative.  Equal percentages, 37 percent, view one of the candidate’s favorably and the other negatively while 15 percent view them both unfavorably and only 2 percent have a favorable opinion of both.  Majorities of Blacks and Latinos view Clinton favorably while half of white likely voters have a favorable opinion of Trump.  Of those with an unfavorable opinion of both, a third say they will vote for Johnson, 22 percent for Clinton and 17 percent for Trump,” Levy said.

trumpbabyI still don’t understand how any one but a card carrying member of the KKK could have a favorable opinion of Trump unless you haven’t been paying attention to what comes out of his mouth.  But, evidently some white people are just very fragile and cannot properly identify the source of their stress.  (ProTip:  If you’re blaming immigrants and African Americans you’re a racist.)

Florida is one of those states where a lot of people seem to be on the edge of crazy a lot of the time.  There just seems to be a lot of this running about the state:  Deputies: Naked man breaks in home, bites resident, then dies.  I never know when I call there if I’m getting a nice retiree, a nice university student or a “Florida man”.  But, Florida is key to the election.  Sane Louisianans all over the state are trying to reach out to our sane counterparts in the Sunshine State.

Florida is a make-or-break state for Donald Trump. To win the presidency, he needs to lock down the Sunshine State — or else beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada, and New Hampshire, plus a state like Michigan or Virginia, where she is currently comfortably ahead in the polls.

And according to analysis by The New York Times‘ Upshot, Florida is going to be a nail-biter of a contest come November. The New York Times Upshot/Siena College poll reports that in a four-way race with the Libertarian and Green Party candidates, Clinton leads 41 to 40, and in a head-to-head, it is a tie at 43-43.

Instead of being a mix of purple cities, the Upshot’s analysis shows that most regions are almost cleanly divided as red or blue voting pockets based on demographics. In Florida, Trump keeps his hopes alive with white voters, both college educated and not — he leads 51 percent to Clinton’s 30 percent. But when it comes to Hispanic communities, Clinton has a 61 percent to 21 percent lead, doing even better with the demographic than President Obama in 2012. Black voters also overwhelmingly back Clinton, 82 percent to 4 percent.

Many regions of the state are becoming less competitive, with Miami-Dade County looking to be a Democratic hold and north Tampa and Daytona Beach solidifying as Republican. A retirement community, The Villages, with a population of 150,000, looks to be a comfortable win for Trump; older voters in the state strongly prefer him. Young voters back Clinton by a healthy margin, although over half say they don’t view her favorably.

I cannot figure out for the life of me why the Woodstock Generation is going for such an asshole.   Oh, btw, if you haven’t followed Michigan’s own Little Miss Flint on Twitter, please do so!  That little girl has leadership potential!  She also recognizes leaders from assholes that shouldn’t be anywhere near children or the public.

baby7You know, you can always tell something about the character of a person by the way young children respond to them and by the way they respond to young children.  I had a friend talk about visiting her grandchild the other day. She basically said her grandaughter wanted to make sure the nice lady won for her instead of the scary man.  (That’s our own JSLAT by the way who came out and corrected me on the gender assignment btw which I just did.)  Out of the mouths of babes, my friends, out of the mouths  of babes.missflinttrump


Another state seemingly going off the rails this weekend is New Jersey who has a nutter for a governor and what appears to be a home grown terrorist cell.11-hillary-clinton-with-kids-w529-h352   The gang that–luckily–couldn’t shoot straight may have been motivated more by local treatment of them than by much else.  Anyway, to our dear Sky Dancers in NJ, please stay away from rogue pressure cookers.


The FBI took five people with possible links to the Chelsea explosion into custody Sunday night in Brooklyn as authorities shut down a busy New Jersey rail station after finding multiple pipe bombs in a garbage can, police and New Jersey officials said.

The weekend trail of terror continued along the Belt Parkway where federal agents nabbed several people of interest with a weapons stash inside an SUV, according to law enforcement sources.

The five taken into custody had come over the Verrazano Bridge from Staten Island. Investigators were trying to determine if the occupants of the SUV were about to drive out of town or take a plane, sources said.

The main suspect is a naturalized citizen from Afghanistan who claims a history of persecution by the police and the neighborhood for his religion and ethnicity.

The prime suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings sued his local police force and claimed they were persecuting him for being a Muslim.

Ahmad Rahami said in a lawsuit that cops in Elizabeth, New Jersey subjected his and his family to discrimination and ‘selective enforcement’ based on their religion.

The family claimed that police tried to shut down their chicken restaurant, called First American, too early each night with ‘baseless’ tickets and summonses.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gets a hug from fifth-grader Hannah Tandy during a town hall meeting at Keota High School, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in Keota, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

New Jersey is also looking forward to the Trial for Bridgegate where it may be shown that Chris Christie’s involvement was a factor in either a cover up or the occurrence itself.  Federal Prosecuters believe Christie knew about the closures.  What did he know and when did he know it?

Gov. Chris Christie was told of the George Washington Bridge lane closures as they were occurring in 2013, a federal prosecutor told jurors on Monday in U.S. District Court.

David Wildstein, who has already pleaded guilty to playing a role in the incident, and Bill Baroni, who is now on trial for his alleged role in the scheme, “bragged” about the traffic gridlock that lane closures were causing when they spoke with the Republican governor at a Sept. 11 memorial in Lower Manhattan, Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna said.

The two Christie-appointed former Port Authority officials mentioned the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, whom they are accused to trying to punish after he refused to endorse Christie’s reelection campaign, the prosecutor said.

“The evidence will show that Baroni and Wildstein were so committed to their plan that, during the precious moments they had alone with the governor, they bragged about the fact that there were traffic problems in Fort Lee and that Mayor Sokolich was not getting his calls returned,” Khanna told jurors during his opening remarks on Monday morning.

Khanna did not elaborate on what was allegedly said during the conversation with Christie, but told jurors that “evidence in this case may show that others could have, should have, perhaps knew certain aspects of what was going on.”

Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, were indicted last May on charges of conspiracy, fraud and civil rights violations.

Well, the real place to notice the meltdown in the Republican party is ritzy cocktail dates, I guess. I know that I frankly will not deal with any one that would vote for Trump. I consider it the acid test for if you’re with or against humanity.  Even America’s babies know better than get close to the orange Creepazoid.  BTW, I really just did a Google search for images of babies with Trump and got all these poor screaming kids standing next to a grown man sporting a similar sour puss face.  What exactly does that say?donald-trump

A few months ago, Matt Schlapp, the former White House political director under President George W. Bush, walked into a cocktail party and tried to join a conversation with Republican consultants he has known for years.

“The conversation quickly ended,” Schlapp, the chairman of the nation’s oldest conservative grassroots organization, told The Hill in a recent interview. “Everyone looked down at their expensive loafers.”

“I hadn’t had that happen to me in a professional setting before,” he added. “It’s one of those moments when you wonder, ‘Hey, do I have something on my face?’”

Schlapp’s decision to support Donald Trump for president has cost him friends in Washington’s elite Republican circles. Invitations he would normally receive no longer arrive. The vibe he says he’s getting is: “You’re out of the club.”

He’s hardly alone. Old allies in Washington and across the establishment Northeast are no longer on speaking terms because one backs Trump and the other loathes the nominee. Divisions have run so deep in some cases that they could take years to heal.

All I have to do is listen to Kellyann Conway to know that people will sell their souls for some amount of money.  We’ll have to wait for campaign finance reports to see exactly how much.  There’s an entire group of right wing ‘christians’ out there that no longer have theirs. I’m certain of that.

Something remarkable happened on Sunday morning’s Face the Nation, or rather, something that would be remarkable in any normal presidential election. Host John Dickerson got Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway to issue two stunning tacit admissions that her candidate is a liar, and then Dickerson remarkably sort of apologized for it.

On Friday morning, Donald Trump ended his years-long crusade to smear President Obama by lying about Hillary Clinton, lying about his own actions, and finally stating the obvious fact that everyone else already knew: that Barack Obama was born in the United States. When Dickerson confronted Conway with the lie that Trump’s campaign put out and Trump repeated, that Trump had put an end to the controversy in 2011, she didn’t challenge that the lie was a lie, and when Dickerson followed up by asking Conway why Trump promoted a lie for five years, Conway similarly accepted that characterization as truth (emphasis mine):

article-2611338-1d31396500000578-885_634x524Supposedly, the Trump team is now shaking in their boots over the Trump Foundation investigation also.  No wonder all the babies cry around Trump. He steals their candy.

Those in Donald Trump’s orbit appear to be nervous about the swirling scandal around the Trump Foundation—and they should be: The stakes are incredibly high.

The allegations of a quid pro quo between Trump and Florida Attorney General, improper use of the charity for personal benefit, and employment of the charity for political purposes have serious penalties beyond mere campaign optics—the possible consequences range from hefty fines to jail time.

The last seven days has been all bad news on the Trump Foundation front: House Democrats have publicly sought a Justice Department investigation into the charity, while left-leaning watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington alleged that Trump appeared to have bribed Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi by giving her a $25,000 contribution so that she would not join a lawsuit against Trump University.

And a New York Times investigation this past week showed that Trump had personally signed the check that constituted the illegal campaign contribution from his charity to Bondi.
Add this to a dose of personal animosity: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told CNN this week that “we have been looking into the Trump Foundation to make sure it’s complying with the laws governing charities in New York.” The Trump camp already despises Schneiderman due to his legal crusade on the controversial Trump University business.
“This reaches above a distraction for them due to the legal implications of it and long litigation possibility,” a former senior aide to Trump said. “Look, Donald signed those checks… he’s on there. He’s liable.”

I mentioned this over the weekend in comments, but want to mention it again.  If you didn’t see the President’s speech to the CBC, go do it.  He was amazing.enhanced-26660-1446522731-1

On a September night when he gave a rousing valedictory speech to the famed Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) at the dinner for its annual legislative weekend, as awareness is setting in about how adroit and blessed Barack Obama has been as our national leader, with reported numbers showing a giant drop in poverty, a rise in jobs, and growth in family income despite the legislative blocks that stubbornly refused to fund stimulative policies for labor, wages and jobs, the President in his remarks took an unusual tact for him: the first black President, Barack Obama openly reclaimed his history and legacy and put it firmly in the history of race in America. He shared the historic challenges of a historically oppressed community formed in America when they were imported to be slaves—humans sold as property, controlled without rights for the benefit of the privileged. He described how this historical beginning was a force within him and within the community itself. How it gave birth to a driving passion for justice.

Because of this remarkable precedent, his speech deserves a close reading. It is an oratory triumph! It is also the historical moment many have been waiting for—the moment when the nation’s first African-American President put himself, by his own words, into a history of America where race mattered and still matters. His speech cast light on the veil and shadows that fall on the African-American character. It highlighted African success, including his own.

His speech was masterful storytelling: examples, irony, metaphor, repetition/analepsis, contrasts, even ridicule and anticlimax; bathos and epistrophe were among the rhetoric devices he used to deconstruct the competing versions of history used to deny his place as he built the case for a new Americal historical centerpiece, one arranged by truth and merit, admired for its accomplishments, as unique as America’s deeply rooted dream. His words were remarkably clear of gestures and insults. He cast no blame. He relied on the oral tradition, the method for teaching and transmitting ideas when the enslaved were punished for being able to read or write. The oral tradition shared and stored the community’s most valuable lessons. It emphasized performance and creativity.

He also had a compelling argument for Hillary and a huge African American Voter GOTV effort.  Again, go watch the entire thing.  However, just look at the face of those babies and you’ll see who the future of America supports and loves.  Spoiler Alert!  It had a lot to do with telling every one that we all had a lot to lose if we got sent back in time!

So, that’s my two cents today!  What’s on your reading and blogging list?

Oh yeah is it Sunday, Open Thread?

(That message above is my projected thought to Trump BTW…)

Holy shit! I completely forgot what day it was…

Today is Sunday and it is my turn to write the post. 

So, here is an open thread:

I will post some links in the comments below. 

Saturday Morning Open Thread


Good Morning!!

I’m on the road to Boston in Utica, NY. I’ll be home later this afternoon, and I’ll make every effort to post something more then. In the meantime, here’s an open thread.

Is it possible that the media has finally changed its tone toward Donald Trump? Yesterday I heard NPR announcers say several times that Trump’s claim that Hillary Clinton started the birther controversy was “false” or “not true.”

Apparently the media was enraged at the treatment Trump gave them yesterday when he tricked them into thinking he would admit he was wrong to push the horrid birther story for five years at a press conference. It turned out he didn’t answer any questions and didn’t produce anything resembling an apology. Then he refused to allow the media to accompany him on a tour of his new hotel in Washington DC. He had only wanted free media for his business interests.

CNN: Donald Trump’s Birther Game.

Just as Donald Trump gained on Hillary Clinton this week, he returned to his old ways of self-sabotage.

As the “birther” controversy swelled around him, he stood before a national television audience seemingly poised to address the issue that launched his political career — and then he spent 30 minutes delivering an infomercial about his new hotel. As the event was about to wrap, he tossed out a near-throwaway line: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.” ….

Black congressional leaders, along with Clinton’s campaign, pilloried Trump’s brief statement on Obama’s birthplace — which was not an apology, an explanation or even an admission that he was the loudest promoter of the birther movement.
At a press conference, member of the Congressional Black Caucus urged voters to register and get out and vote this November.

“We are used to dog whistles, but the thing we are not used to are the howls of wolves. These are howls, not whistles,” said Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina….

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, called Trump’s actions “disgraceful.”
“After five years of pushing a racist conspiracy theory into the mainstream, it was appalling to watch Trump appoint himself the judge of whether the President of the United States is American,” Mook said in a statement. “This sickening display shows more than ever why Donald Trump is totally unfit be president.”

To top off his awful day, last night Donald Trump for the second time called for Hillary Clinton to be assassinated. NBC News:

MIAMI — Donald Trump mixed policy with intimations of violence in Miami on Friday, reversing his position on re-engaging with Cuba and pushing for Hillary Clinton’s security to disarm because of her proposed firearm reforms.

Trump represented Clinton’s position on gun rights as wanting to “destroy your Second Amendment” and said that her bodyguards should no longer carry firearms in light of her policy stance, which includes expanded background checks for gun sales.

“She doesn’t want guns, take their — let’s see what happens to her,” Trump said. “Take their guns away, okay? It’ll be very dangerous.”

Trump’s comments were slammed by Clinton’s campaign on Friday night:

“Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, has a pattern of inciting people to violence. Whether this is done to provoke protesters at a rally or casually or even as a joke, it is an unacceptable quality in anyone seeking the job of Commander in Chief,” Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, wrote in a release.

“This kind of talk should be out of bounds for a presidential candidate, just like it should be out of bounds for a presidential candidate to peddle a conspiracy theory about the President of the United States for five years,” Mook added.

“But we’ve seen again and again that no amount of failed resets can change who Donald Trump is. He is unfit to be President and it is time Republican leaders stand up to denounce this disturbing behavior in their nominee.”

Even the media’s sudden willingness to call Donald Trump out on his lies may not be enough. Trump is actually moving up in the polls. Hillary would still win if the election were held today, but the media’s bias against her is taking its toll. It’s time for the media to stop playing Trump’s game and get serious about reporting on the issues.

More interesting stories to check out this morning:

Raw Story: Charles Blow: Trump ‘became the grand wizard of birtherism — that is simply a fact.’

Dan Gillmor at The Atlantic: Fighting Politicians’ War on Truth.

Margaret Sullivan at The Washington Post: It’s time for TV news to stop playing the stooge for Donald Trump.

Media Matters: CNN’s Corey Lewandowski Wants President Obama To Apologize To Donald Trump For “The Incendiary Things He’s Said.”

Slate: Jimmy Fallon Mussing Donald Trump’s Hair Is the Point of No Return.

Talking Points Memo: Trump Introduced By A Birther At Event Where He Walked Back Birtherism.

Peter Daou: The most graceful and dignified indictment of the U.S. media you’ll see in 2016

Joseph Stiglitz at Medium: Why TPP Is a Bad Deal for America and American Workers.

Now I have to get ready to hit the road. I’ll check in with you later on. What stories are you following today?



Friday Reads: FYI

Good Morning!play-flappers-on-rocks-beach-vintage-women-fun

So, I promised I’d try to avoid politics today even though that’s very difficult given our proximity to the elections and the fact that one of the candidates is uniquely unfit for office.  I’m trying to avoid it as much as possible but it just seems that I can only do it for so long.  So, let’s start out with some other news and then, I have to go there because like most sane Americans, I know my President was born in Hawaii, earned his way into top Ivy League Schools, and practices a form of agnostic,secular Christianity like a good portion of the country and who cares about that sort of thing any way?  We sorta kinda heard that from the nation’s most visible conspiracy theorist and white nationalist today. But let me save that for last!

Yesterday, a long list was released of the candidates for The National Book Awards.  It’s a rare occasion when I get to read things not associated with research but I always look forward to this list and picking up a few choice bits of fiction to welcome the change of weather.

The National Book Foundation announced Thursday its longlist of 10 titles in the running for the National Book Award for fiction, which celebrates the best in American literature over the past year.

Garth Greenwell (What Belongs to You) is the sole debut novelist in this year’s longlist, released in The New Yorker. There are veteran writers in the form of Chris Bachelder for The Throwback Special, his fourth book; Paulette Jiles for News of the World, Karan Mahajan for The Association of Small Bombs, Elizabeth McKenzie forThe Portable Veblen, and Lydia Millet for the Sweet Lamb of Heaven.

Previous finalists also made the list, including Adam Haslett, (also previously nominated for a Pulitzer Prize) for Imagine Me Gone, Brad Watson, for his second novel, Miss Jane, and Jacqueline Woodson, who previously won in the Young People’s Literature category for her 2014 memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, this time longlisted for her novel Another Brooklyn. Colson Whitehead  is nominated for the critically acclaimed The Underground Railroad, which follows a slave’s adventures in the antebellum South.

The fiction longlist follows a week full of announcements, with the National Book Foundation unveiling the contenders for the Young People’s Literature, Poetry, and Nonfiction categories. The 40 books in the running this year span a diverse range of genres, writers, and experiences.

tumblr_lpmz1avya91qbsbnoo1_500So, I guess I will add a little bit on politics in here but not any race horse coverage. I’m not sure if you heard, but Wisconsin’s Governor Scot Walker is under investigation for campaign finance irregularities.  One of the fascinating things about the links is that they uncover a web of deceit and dark money.  Will this investigation lead to a case before the Supreme Court and trouble for one of the Koch Puppets?  The documents show the influence of right wing mega donors in the Republican Party.

Rarely do members of the public get to see behind the closed doors of political nonprofits, which may receive unlimited amounts of money from mega-donors without disclosing anything about their operations. But a trove of leaked documents from an investigation into Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s 2012 recall election campaign has offered an unprecedented look at how politicians operate in a post-Citizens United world that features record levels of undisclosed political money.

The documents, leaked to The Guardian newspaper, detail the allegedly illegal coordination between Walker’s campaign and an outside group.

Walker, in a scramble to win a bitterly contested election, asked a slew of right-wing billionaires in 2011 and 2012 to pour money into the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a dark money group working closely with a top aide to the governor. After Walker won, a special prosecutor opened an investigation into the campaign’s alleged coordination with the group. The leaked documents come from that controversial investigation, which Walker and his allies had dismissed as a partisan witch-hunt.

In 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court even shut down the investigation, ruling that the Walker campaign did not violate the law because coordination between candidates and outside groups is only prohibited for so-called express advocacy—direct calls to vote for or against a specific candidate. The Walker campaign only coordinated with Wisconsin Club for Growth on issue advocacy ads, which don’t expressly tell voters how to vote, the court ruled, and the activity was therefore legal. The decision infuriated government watchdogs, especially since two conservative justices refused to recuse themselves despite having received outside support from the Wisconsin Club for Growth during their own previous judicial elections.

Not only has the Walker scandal roared back into the spotlight, it may be headed for the Supreme Court. In April, the special prosecutor in the case called on the high court to overturn the state Supreme Court’s decision to end the investigation, arguing that coordination on issue advocacy is, in fact, illegal, and that the plaintiffs didn’t receive a fair trial because the two justices failed to recuse themselves. The Supreme Court is expected to announce later this month whether it will hear the case.

The documents revealed by The Guardian provide a detailed look at how Walker and his aides used Wisconsin Club for Growth to circumvent traditional campaign contribution limits, and get around a state ban on political donations from corporations.

In one leaked email, Walker casually mentions that he got John Menard, CEO of the home improvement chain Menard’s, to contribute $1 million directly from his corporation to the Wisconsin dark money group. A $10,000 check to the group from a wealthy financier had the words “Because Scott Walker asked” written on the memo line.

summerjaynereadingonbeachA report on shows other mega donors solicited by Walker that then sent contributions to The Club for Growth.  These contributions would not have to be exposed and are not subject to the usual restrictions. I’d really love to see all these folks taken down and sent to jail.

Another previously undisclosed check to Wisconsin Club for Growth for $10,000 from finance executive Frederick Kasten Jr. includes a memo line that reads: “Because Scott Walker asked.”

The documents show Walker also solicited donations from several wealthy individuals, many of whom or their companies made contributions to the Club, not Walker’s campaign. Contributions from Wisconsin donors and companies included $25,000 from Brookfield-based Hammes Co., $25,000 from Green Bay-based Schneider Enterprise Resources; and $100,000 from Ted Kellner, CEO of Milwaukee-based Fiduciary Management.

Among others from whom Walker sought money, the records show, were business magnate T. Boone Pickens and Lowry Mays, then-chairman of Clear Channel Communications.

In an August 2011 email, after the first wave of Senate recalls, Walker asked “did I send out thank you notes to all our (c)4 donors?”

The s0-called “John Doe investigation” has been going on since August, 20102 and no charges have been filed yet.

A huge pipeline leak has happened in Alabama causing the Governor to declare a state of emergency. 51239956

Gov. Robert Bentley issued an executive order Thursday declaring a state of emergency in Alabama over concerns about fuel shortages in the wake of a gasoline pipeline spill that released about 250,000 gallons of gasoline south of Birmingham and shut down a major pipeline connecting refineries in Houston with the rest of the country.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued a similar executive order for his state on Tuesday.

The pipeline operator, Colonial Pipeline, released the following information Thursday afternoon:

“Based on current projections and consultations with industry partners, parts of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina will be the first markets to be impacted by any potential disruption in supply.”

“Colonial has briefed officials in these states and will continue to provide timely information to the public so that they can plan accordingly.”

The executive orders will allow fuel delivery truck drivers in each state to work longer shifts and exceed maximum hour limits established by the U.S. Department of Transportation in order to prevent gasoline outages.

The orders apply only to trucks that are transporting fuel to areas served by the pipeline.

In addition, some suppliers have begun shipping refined gasoline by water to New York from Houston while the pipeline is shut down.

The pipeline has been shut down since Friday and normally transports 1.3 million barrels per day of refined gasoline and other petroleum products from refineries in Houston to the south and eastern seaboard. The pipeline terminates at New York Harbor.


Nothing wrong with using massive amounts of toxic sludge, oh no!  Oh, and did you hear that California is likely in a permanent state of drought?

A grim new study led by a UCLA geography professor revealed that the current 5-year drought in California could last indefinitely, with the resulting arid conditions becoming “the new normal” for the state.

The study, which looked at prolonged periods of dryness in California over the past 10,000 years, was published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.

It noted that the state’s drought in the 21st century has been the most intense ever recorded, with drier than normal conditions in 10 of the past 14 years; the last three years have also been the hottest and driest in about 120 years.

The study investigated how natural climatic forces such as sun spots, a slightly different earth orbit and decreased volcanic activity intermittently warmed the region through radiative forcing, contributing to historic periods of dryness that lasted for hundreds and even thousands of years.  It also looked at the presence and impact of greenhouse gases, another more recent warming force.

A grim new study led by a UCLA geography professor revealed that the current 5-year drought in California could last indefinitely, with the resulting arid conditions becoming “the new normal” for the state.

Maybe they can find other uses for golf courses, avocado and almond farms, and swimming pools in the state.

The NYT editorial board is horrifyed by Missouri’s recent move to pull down any form of gun safety laws. Here’s a few reasons I won’t be driving through Missouri any time soon.d95547693a61d68ca15dffe0db8a13bb

In an alarming victory for the gun lobby, Missouri’s Republican-controlled Legislature voted Wednesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto and enact a wholesale retreat from gun safety in the state.

The law will let citizens carry concealed weapons in public without a state gun permit, criminal background check or firearms training. It strips local law enforcement of its current authority to deny firearms to those guilty of domestic violence and to other high-risk individuals. And it establishes a dangerous “stand your ground” standard that will allow gun owners to shoot and claim self-defense based on their own sense of feeling threatened.

The measure has drawn no great national attention, but it certainly provides further evidence that gun safety cannot be left to state lawmakers beholden to the gun lobby. Democrats opposed to the Missouri bill called it a “perfect storm” of lowered standards for the use of deadly force and an invitation for people to be armed without responsible controls. The measure was enacted by the Republicans, despite strong public opposition and warnings about the threat to public safety from the state Police Chiefs Association. Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the groups fighting the gun lobby, noted that stand-your-ground laws result in disproportionate harm to communities of color.

Mr. Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed the measure in June, saying it would allow individuals with a criminal record to legally carry a concealed firearm even though they had been, or would have been, denied a permit under the old law’s background check. Mayors Sly James of Kansas City and Francis Slay of St. Louis warned against restricting the power of the local police to deny guns to those who commit domestic violence. They cited sharp spikes in domestic violence homicides in their cities, and they noted that the police would be left at greater risk by this bill.

Republican legislative leaders, who cut short debate on the override vote on the last day of the session, were ebullient in overriding a variety of the governor’s vetoes beyond the gun measure, including one that will force voters to show a government photo ID.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has put together policies aimed at curbing the Heroin probelm in places like New Hampshire and Ohio.fresh_reading

The Justice Department is preparing to launch a renewed strategy to address the unrelenting scourge of heroin and opioid addiction, in part by placing greater emphasis on identifying links between over-prescribing doctors and distribution networks across the country.

The plan, outlined by Attorney General Loretta Lynch in an interview with USA TODAY, is part of an eleventh-hour push by the Obama administration against a public health crisis that continues to claim nearly 100 people each day in the United States.

In a memo that is expected to be circulated next week to all 94 U.S. attorney offices, Lynch said prosecutors are being urged to more readily share information across state lines about prescription drug abuses by physicians that could identify traffickers and far-flung trafficking routes more quickly.

At the same time, Lynch said federal prosecutors will be directed to coordinate their enforcement efforts with public health authorities in their districts as part of an overall strategy that puts equal emphasis on prevention and treatment.

“I’m not calling anybody out, because I think the people who look at this problem realize quickly how devastating it has been to families, to communities, to public health dollars, to law enforcement resources,” the attorney general said. “There is no one magic bullet for this.”

While opioid and heroin addiction have earned the distinction as the single greatest drug threat in the U.S., largely due to a casualty rate that has nearly quadrupled since 1999, the federal government’s effort to counter it — or even slow it — has been spotty.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration requested nearly $1.1 billion as part of a plan to pay for drug treatment, invoking a common refrain that drug overdoses — driven increasingly by heroin and other opioids, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone — are responsible for more deaths than car crashes. Yet after Congress approved landmark legislation in July for expanded drug addiction treatment and prevention, it did not include the $181 million to actually fund the measure.

Meanwhile, the deadly drug epidemic, which shadowed the early presidential primaries in addiction-plagued New Hampshire and Ohio, has largely receded from the public discussion during the general election.

“I have never seen anything like this,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said during an appearance earlier this year before the Senate Judiciary Committee with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., to outline the human wreckage that addiction has left behind in their tiny state. “This is about real people dying.”

Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy, said Thursday that a key part of the administration’s renewed effort against heroin and opioid abuse will be to push Congress in the remaining days of the administration to provide the funding for both the legislation it approved earlier this year and the $1.1 billion in grants sought by the White House, which is staging a series of public events next week to call attention to the problem.

“The biggest area where we have fallen short is filling the gap between people who need treatment and those able to get it,” Botticelli said, adding that it remains a challenge to “keep people alive so that they can get into treatment.”

“We need more treatment capacity. We cannot wait to save people. This requires a response commensurate with the size of the epidemic,” the director said.

reading-on-the-beachOkay, on to that one last bit of news and because it’s fresh off the TV and the buzz of the day,.  Donald Trump kind’ve sort’ve walked backed his birth nonsense.  But first, let’s notice he advertised his hotel and will likely be sending campaign money to his hotel to do so.

It’s already remarkable — in a bad way — that a nominee for president of the United States has to make a major speech to disavow the racist, baseless conspiracy theory he started about the president’s birth certificate.

But it’s even stranger that Donald Trump has managed to turn it into an advertisement for his new hotel in Washington, DC:

  I am now going to the brand new Trump International, Hotel D.C. for a major statement. (via Twitter)


“Nice hotel,” he opened his remarks, which were part of a ceremony honoring

Medal of Honor winners. He went on to call it one of the best hotels, maybe, in the world.

Most presidential candidates — well, most presidential candidates wouldn’t need to make this speech in the first place. But if they did, they’d find some kind of neutral ground to do it, somewhere like the National Press Club.

Of course, Trump does own the hotel, so there’s nothing wrong with him having an event there instead of somewhere else. But using the speech, and the Medal of Honor winner’s he honoring, to actively promote his own business and brag about how great it is is part of a long history of Trump using his campaign and his foundation to personally enrich himself. (Ivanka Trump, who’s using his policy platform to promote her own brand, is following in her father’s footsteps.)

He did finally say the words.  Campaign Mommy must be proud.reading_copy

Donald Trump on Friday stated that he no longer believes President Barack Obama was born outside the United States, breaking away from a conspiracy theory that helped fuel his political rise.

“President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again,” Trump said at his new Washington hotel, flanked by Medal of Honor recipients, in an appearance that often seemed like a plug for his property and an extended endorsement of Trump by veterans.

He also blamed Hillary Clinton for raising questions about Obama’s citizenship during the 2008 campaign, despite no evidence that she did so.

“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it,” he said on Friday morning, referencing his public pressure campaign in 2011 that resulted in Obama releasing his long-form birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii.

The reversal came after his aides and allies had publicly pressured him to disavow the theories, which had furthered the racist and xenophobic undertones of his presidential campaign. But Trump had continued to play coy, often saying in interviews that the issue didn’t matter anymore, even as he refused to state outright that he no longer believed Obama could have been born in Kenya.

Many of Clinton’s allies reacted to Trump’s statement with disgust.

“Trump doubled down on lie-filled statement from his campaign last night & took no responsibility for his bigoted attacks on our President,” Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted.

2995f66da0b02bfec9dcfe3bc1d2ba26My guess is that he did this under duress. I frankly agree with TPM:  STONE COLD LIAR.  This is from Josh Marshall.

As I said earlier, birtherism is not about a factual error. It’s conscious and deliberate racist agitation. Indeed, it was birtherism which built Trump’s political profile and his base among white supremacists which enabled him to mount his successful primary campaign. His political career was built birtherism and racism. He’s never apologized. Indeed, he’s said he deserves praise for it. So he’s doubled down on more lies, apologized for nothing, and says he deserves credit for what he did. Think about that.

 Meanwhile, he’s trying to defend his son who seems to have anti-Semitic tendencies like his father also. Who the freak keeps holocaust imagery at the front of his brain for off the cuff statements?   Wonkette gets to explain it here.

Anyway, this is obviously LOL, because offhand Holocaust references are one of the best ways to show casual onlookers that your funny bone is in good, working order, at least in the dank, nasty, racist, white supremacist, neo-Nazi parts of the internet. Hey remember a few days ago when Trump Junior shared that really disgusting white supremacist meme? Good times.

But anyway, this is all a false alarm, because the Trump campaign says Baby Trumpers was clearly just talking about a capital punishment gas chamber, which is definitely, totally the most common and up-to-date way people are executed in the United States. Gosh almighty, it’s been used in the United States TEN WHOLE TIMES since 1976, so it’s definitely more seared into the public consciousness than the electric chair or lethal injection, when people think “capital punishment.” (This whole paragraph contains many Big Sarcasms, if you did not know!)

The Holocaust, on the other hand … gas chambers are kinda what comes to mind.

You can call me shocked. I figured he’d have grabbed for something like “lynching”. That would have another level of appeal to their fan boys from Storm Front and the American Nazi Party.

Meanwhile, I’m going back to the good book sitting on my nightstand.  I can’t take much more of this Trump nightmare.  The horrifying Economics “policy” speech yesterday did me in. It was like a flash back to the worst part of the 80s.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Normalizing a Maniac

816cba62f17b44613bebf8bbb00c9daf18c74810Good Afternoon!

I’m going back to ranting about the election since yesterday’s media coverage was so over the top.  We heard more about the Crackpot Republican nominee putting on a Barnum & Bailey worthy side show on the TV show of a crackpot Doctor than we heard about the solid criminal investigation into his family’s Foundation which is an obvious scam and the excellent research into his business ties with foreign agents that are not friendly to US interests. Crackpots appear to have a major footing in the 2016 Presidential Election coverage.  Dr. Oz is just the latest one.

The wonderful cartoons are from TNR’s coverage of the unqualified disasters “advising” Donald Trump.  Trump has gathered up a team of crackpots and you can read about them in the article cited below.  The illustrator is MICHAEL WITTE and I’ve lifted many of his accompanying caricatures.  You may see more of his illustrations here.  I’m sure you’ll recognize a few of them.  Rest assured, they are all losers and they are all crackpots. Every. Single. One. of. them.

The Headline of the TNR feature just speaks for itself.  ‘Trumps Court Jesters:  Meet the worst political team ever assembled’—an inner circle of outcasts, opportunists, and extremists with nowhere else to go.  How can the media treat this campaign seriously?  It’s like they normalize him for reading the words of other crackpots from a teleprompter.

With his showman’s flair, Trump has assured anyone who will listen that he will compensate for his political inexperience and policy indifference by surrounding himself with the “best people.” They’ll be the “smartest.” Not to mention the “greatest.” Unfortunately for Trump, no one with those qualifications wants to work for him. When his campaign approached hundreds of aides to the 16 losing GOP candidatesincluding more than 150 who worked for Ted Cruzthe vast majority passed on the opportunity. When Trump tried to scare up endorsements in Congress, he ended up with a handful of backbench extremists. When he cobbled together a foreign policy team, he couldn’t even find a respectable ex-general from CNN, much less a credible think-tank wonk. When he put together an economic advisory team, he found exactly one willing economist.

So Trump has been forced, for reasons of his own making, to assemble what could well be the worst political team in presidential history: a rogues’ gallery of outcasts and opportunists, has-beens and never-weres, conspiracy-mongers and crackpots. Few of the advisers in his inner circle possess any real qualifications for the positions they hold. Some have been ousted from their previous jobs for incompetence, corruption, or outright craziness. Many, exiled to the political fringes, see the campaign as a way to get back into the game. Most of them, sad to say, have sunk so low that Trump looks like a big step up.

Nicholas Kristoff also has a blunt headline today:   ‘When a Crackpot Runs for President’ – The New York Times.bece1ff7c12b1ea371c35140c502222322c3f26a-1

A CNN/ORC poll this month found that by a margin of 15 percentage points, voters thought Donald Trump was “more honest and trustworthy” than Hillary Clinton. Let’s be frank: This public perception is completely at odds with all evidence.

On the PolitiFact website, 13 percent of Clinton’s statements that were checked were rated “false” or “pants on fire,” compared with 53 percent of Trump’s. Conversely, half of Clinton’s are rated “true” or “mostly true” compared to 15 percent of Trump statements.

Clearly, Clinton shades the truth — yet there’s no comparison with Trump.

I’m not sure that journalism bears responsibility, but this does raise the thorny issue of false equivalence, which has been hotly debated among journalists this campaign. Here’s the question: Is it journalistic malpractice to quote each side and leave it to readers to reach their own conclusions, even if one side seems to fabricate facts or make ludicrous comments?

President Obama weighed in this week, saying that “we can’t afford to act as if there’s some equivalence here.”

I’m wary of grand conclusions about false equivalence from 30,000 feet. But at the grass roots of a campaign, I think we can do better at signaling that one side is a clown.

Even while explaining how Trump is a mythomaniac and a systematic cheater, Kristoff can’t help but run the narrative on Hillary Clinton that is based all of the debunked and discounted charges leveled at her for over 40 years.

What’s a voter to do?b6f8ed9504ff175bd140c2d444b9a022f67e3c98

We were regaled yesterday with two polls supposedly showing Trump ahead in Ohio.  Looking at the details and the polls themselves you’ll see the conclusions are quite spurious.  The CNN poll literally reports results on no voters under 50 because they couldn’t get a sample large enough to get reliable results.

A new poll showing Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton by 4 points in Ohio set the media buzzing, but a look at the polling data reveals that CNN under polled younger voters.

CNN touted their new poll of Ohio as Trump making gains in swing states, “With eight weeks to go before Election Day, Donald Trump holds a narrow lead over Hillary Clinton in Ohio and the two are locked in a near-even contest in Florida, according to new CNN/ORC polls in the two critical battleground states.”

Well, that certainly sounds dramatic, but a look at the crosstabs of the poll shows that things may not be exactly what CNN is suggesting they are in the Buckeye State.

There was something odd about the age of the respondents: (Note: go to the link to see the image of poll results here.)

Younger voters are not listed.

This could be a mistake in the CNN/ORC Poll crosstabs, but it is also easy to understand how Trump suddenly got a lead in Ohio when CNN under polled younger voters.

The CNN poll is a good reminder that all polls, whether they contain good or bad news for the candidate that you support, should be taken with a big grain of salt.

1af5c8ef9eb58c3150ec7000287de7c9da705d57The Bloomberg poll uses a distribution based on 2004 when turnout by Republicans was unusually high.  How do we know that this and not the two most recent presidential elections will be the likely pattern?  What’s the rationale here?  I frankly can’t imagine any racial or religious minority NOT rushing to the polls to ensure a Trump loss. I frankly expect Hispanic turnout to be at an all time high although there may be only a few states where this matters. But still, the media are going crazy over two polls with extremely dubious polling methodology.

The Bloomberg poll differs from most other Ohio public polling in the race. A CBS News/YouGov poll, which was conducted via the internet last Wednesday through Friday and overlaps with the Bloomberg poll by one night, gave Clinton a 7-point lead over Trump, 46 percent to 39 percent.

A Quinnipiac University survey, conducted in late August and early September and released last week, showed Trump ahead of Clinton in Ohio by 1 point in a head-to-head matchup. But Trump held a 4-point lead in a subsequent question that gave respondents the option of choosing Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

In the Bloomberg poll, Trump maintains a 5-point advantage over Clinton with Johnson and Stein included, 44 percent to 39 percent, with Johnson at 10 percent and Stein at 3 percent.

Incumbent GOP Sen. Rob Portman holds a big lead in Ohio’s closely watched Senate race, the poll also shows. Portman, who is seeking a second term, leads former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, 53 percent to 36 percent.

Recent polls have given Portman a significant advantage, but not to this degree. His previous high-water mark in a live-interview survey had been an 11-point lead in last week’s Quinnipiac poll.

Ann Selzer, the well-respected Iowa pollster who produced the survey, provided Bloomberg with a possible explanation for its divergent results: Voters who identified as Republicans were more likely to be classified as likely voters than those who said they identified as Democrats. Including those who lean toward one party, Republicans comprised about 43 percent of the sample, while Democrats made up roughly 36 percent.

“Our party breakdown differs from other polls, but resembles what happened in Ohio in 2004,” Selzer told Bloomberg, pointing to exit polling from 12 years ago when George W. Bush carried the state. “It is very difficult to say today who will and who will not show up to vote on Election Day. Our poll suggests more Republicans than Democrats would do that in an Ohio election held today.”

38a4cc5b78f7394f4f9ca8bffbcc374438cda2c2My guess is that Ohio is a dead heat with a slight advantage to Clinton given the Republicans in office don’t like Trump and won’t campaign for him. This is one of the reasons why I don’t put much faith in any one poll at any one point in time but prefer to defer to two mathematical laws:  the law of large numbers and the law of averages. I’ve been trained through 4 degrees to evaluate trends and averages based on time series only. This suggests the methodology used by Nate Silver and Sam Wang who forecast based on using all polls and producing an average and trend based on all polls with weights based on reliability of methodology.  They are also quite aware of the tricks used by various pollsters which depends heavily on their political affiliation. It appears Trump could have a route to the White House without winning the popular vote according to FiveThirtyEight writer David Wasserman.  This path is unlikely but frightening.

OK, before I say anything, a quick disclaimer: This piece is not a prediction. In fact, I’m a religious (maybe fanatical) adherent of FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 election forecast model, which I find to be both methodologically rigorous and intellectually honest. I don’t dispute its assessment that Hillary Clinton has a 63 or 64 percent chance of winning the election.

That said, in the event this race does tighten to a coin flip by Nov. 8, there is an unusually high chance Donald Trump could win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote — basically, Democrats’ version of the apocalypse.

Here’s why: Several of Trump’s worst demographic groups happen to be concentrated in states, such as California, New York, Texas and Utah, that are either not competitive or that aren’t on Trump’s must-win list. Conversely, whites without a college degree — one of Trump’s strongest groups — represent a huge bloc in three blue states he would need to turn red to have the best chance of winning 270 electoral votes: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

A repeat of 2000’s split verdict — except with more potential to plunge this much more polarized and anxious country into chaos — is still not very likely. Right now, the FiveThirtyEight polls-only model posits a 6.1 percent chance of Trump winning the Electoral College while losing the popular, and a 1.5 chance of the reverse outcome. But that’s not so remote, either, and if the national ballot were ever to tighten further, both “crazy” scenarios’ odds could rise.

The secret to how Clinton could win more votes nationally yet still fall short of the White House lies with Trump’s weakness among three geographically disadvantaged groups of voters:

You can go read the analysis or not depending on the strength of your heart.  Larry Sabato of Rasmussen Reports has some additional analysis on the fundamentals as they exist today.  He even refers to this a “strange race” which is probably why the press seem completely unable to cover the maniac in the room.bf18974b0e304ff3df3926ac5d78701fc13fc3c2

Nonetheless, the defining difference in this election is not Clinton but Trump. Forget Wendell Willkie: There has never been a presidential nominee like him. He has divided the Republican Party — separating party elites from much of the party’s populist base — and he has rearranged the electorate in ways we haven’t ever seen, at least to this extent. Minority groups appear to be rejecting him by margins as bad or worse than recent GOP nominees. Trump is having trouble winning a group that isnormally quite Republican: college-educated whites. At the same time, he has drawn very sizable, exceptionally intense backing from non-college whites and, disproportionately, blue-collar white men, and he has the potential to out-perform Mitt Romney’s 2012 showing among that group.

Regular readers will have noticed that we have been publishing political scientists’ predictive models for 2016, the quadrennial attempt to use certain variables to project the election results (at least the popular vote) months in advance. We’re publishing our final update on these models this week. They are mostly derived from election fundamentals that don’t change much over time — economic conditions, the number of consecutive terms a party has held the White House, and so on. Averaging all the forecasts together shows a two-party vote of Clinton 50.5% and Trump 49.5%. Obviously, that’s very close, and taken together these models produced a very similar prediction in 2012 (Obama 50.2%, Romney 49.8%). That undersold Obama, who won with 52.0% of the two-party vote.

The problem in 2016 is that the assumptions that undergird some models are disputable. Take our senior columnist, Alan Abramowitz of Emory University. His “Time for Change” model has an admirable record of prediction over many years, nailing the popular-vote winner in every cycle going back to 1988. Yet this time, Abramowitz has declared that his model will probably miss the mark. Why? As Abramowitz explains it, the assumptions upon which the model is built are unsound: “First, that both major parties will nominate mainstream candidates capable of unifying their parties and, second, that the candidates will conduct equally effective campaigns so that the overall outcome will closely reflect the ‘fundamentals’ incorporated in the model.”

Abramowitz’s model predicts a modest Republican victory this November, and considering Clinton’s myriad weaknesses and a competitive political environment, it is easy to imagine it if the GOP had nominated a mainstream candidate. (We’ll let you go through the 17 contestants and decide which ones might have been able to unite the party, run a solid campaign, and win.) Trump is neither mainstream nor conducting a campaign that is anything close technologically and financially to the Clinton effort.

In our view, this is why — along with strong partisan polarization — the contest, while close, has had Clinton pretty consistently in the lead: Trump is underperforming the fundamentals and reducing the odds of a GOP win. In another era, say the 1960s through the 1980s, the 2016 contest might well have produced a Democratic landslide much as outlier candidates in 1964 (Barry Goldwater) and in 1972 (George McGovern) generated big swings to the other party. Yet dislike of Clinton and polarization have kept her margin to a few points, excepting the post-convention bounce period. Clinton also faces an unprecedented challenge: She is not simply seeking President Obama’s third term and, in a sense, being responsible for the Obama record (good and bad), but in a way she is also pursuing Bill Clinton’s third term, too. Never before has a party nominee been held accountable for two two-term presidents.

It may be that Clinton, if she does indeed win, will mimic one of Obama’s victory margins (four percentage points in 2012 or seven in 2008). Polarization was especially evident in Obama’s reelection contest. A four-point margin would be consistent with the Electoral College map the Crystal Ball has largely maintained since March: Her total of 348 electoral votes would place her performance in between Obama 2012 (332) and Obama 2008 (365). For Clinton to duplicate Obama’s 2008 broader sweep, Trump would probably have to collapse in the final weeks because of the accumulation of controversies and the lack of preparation in the ground game. If Clinton barely wins or Trump pulls an upset to rival 1948 (Harry Truman over Thomas Dewey), it probably means that Trump did something to improve voters’ perceptions of his qualifications for office — right now, a majority of the electorate does not believe he’s qualified — and Clinton, through a combination of mistakes, controversies, and Democratic apathy, can’t generate the kind of Democratic turnout she needs.

The challenge for the Democrats is to keep 2016 from becoming a change election, which it might have been without Trump (and could still become). Prospective Clinton voters will have to be reminded constantly why she believes Trump is unacceptable and why they have to swallow hard and vote for a candidate many are not enthused about. While our Electoral College ratings still show a Clinton victory, the polls have clearly gotten closer in recent weeks. Clinton is generally up about two-to-four points nationally in polling averages (based on RealClearPolitics and HuffPost Pollster ), considerably tighter than the lofty eight-point lead she enjoyed in both averages about a month ago, when she was still basking in a post-convention glow and Trump was making mistake after mistake. In the lead-up to Labor Day, Clinton faced several questions about her emails and the Clinton Foundation, and Trump’s coverage became less negative by comparison.

091a90affb5c531feb838e2b00f61d0421c06243There is actually rumbling among Republicans who really really don’t want Trump to win and a few little glimmers of hope like the fact that the New Hampshire Union Leader just endorsed spacey, libertarian pothead Gary Johnson.   I’m sorry, the man just reminds me of every freaking pot dependent person I’ve ever known.  “Allepo, man, what’s that, man?”  I have no idea why William Weld wasn’t put at the top of that ticket other than every libertarian I’ve ever met these days seems to hate the idea of being drafting and loves the idea of legal pot. Maybe they’re all potheads these days.

The most joyful day moment of the day was watching a Flint Methodist Minister kick Trump’s political grandstanding at her church to the ground.   She totally caught him reading prepared remarks that were just more vile anti-Hillary bile.  He was so unable to make a comeback that he flipped the page and read the last bits rather than doing what he was invited to do which was praise her community for coming to the aid of Flint Residents who still can’t drink their water.  Brian Williams said Trump “pivoted”.  No, he did not.  He was basically totally flummoxed and he had that “bad dog” look on his face.

The pastor who hosted Donald Trump at her church in Flint, Michigan, interrupted the Republican presidential nominee during his speech Wednesday to ask him to refrain from attacking his rival Hillary Clinton.

“Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we’ve done in Flint, not give a political speech,” Rev. Faith Green Timmons of the Bethel United Methodist Church told Trump after walking to the podium while Trump was speaking.
“OK. That’s good. Then I’m going back onto Flint, OK? Flint’s pain is a result of so many different failures,” Trump said.
Timmons, in a statement provided at the event, noted her church welcomes “all people.”
“This public event is open to all and today Donald Trump came to observe. Trump’s presence at Bethel United Methodist in no way represents an endorsement of his candidacy,” she had said.
On Thursday, Trump told Fox News “something was up” with Timmons, but he wasn’t bothered because “everyone plays their games.”

Trump was responding to the host’s question about whether he was “bothered” by the fact that she purportedly had written on Facebook (according to the Fox hosts, who noted it was later erased) that she hoped to “educate” Trump on what had been going on in Flint.

“She was so nervous, she was shaking. And I said, ‘wow, this was kind of strange.’ And then she came up. So she had that in mind, no question about it,” Trump said, adding that he suspected that he might face an unfriendly reception at the church.

Trump not only accused the Pastor of sabotaging him but went on to fat shame her after the entire day’s news cycle basically discussed his obesity with the encouragement of Fox and Frauds.  You can watch Pastor Faith Green Timmons of the Bethel United Methodist Church of Flint lecture the nasty orange one.  Trump’s outreach to minority voters continues to fail as well it should.  They certainly know a racist when they see one.  Plus there is this, the Trump Campaign accepts and doesn’t return donations from known White Supremacists.


Now this is how I want my pastor to deal with a hater, not get on TV and proclaim him the candidate of Christians.

So, I’m going to give us a break from all of this again tomorrow, I promise.   I will leave you with some words from the great poet Wendell Berry who has written a beautiful essay on racism in the age of Obama in the Lexington Herald Leader.wendell-berry-300x169

A good many people hoped and even believed that Barack Obama’s election to the presidency signified the end of racism in the United States.

It seems arguable to me that the result has been virtually the opposite: Obama’s election has brought about a revival of racism.

Like nothing since the Southern Strategy, it has solidified the racist vote as a political quantity recognizable to politicians and apparently large enough in some places to decide an election.

I grant the polite assumption that not one of the elected officers of the states or the nation is a racist. But politicians do not need to be racist themselves in order to covet, to solicit, or to be influenced by the racist vote. This is shown by the pronounced difference between two by-now established ways of opposing the president.

There is the opposition that is truly political and varyingly respectable. This opposition is identifiable by its incompleteness, which is to say by its focus upon particular issues about which a particular case or argument can be made. Such opposition is credible as such because it implicitly concedes the president’s humanity: Like the rest of us, he is a partial and fallible mortal who, if he is partly wrong, may also be partly right.

The other way of opposition is total. The president must be opposed, not on this or that issue, but upon all issues.

This opposition is often expressed in tones of contempt, not only of the president himself, but of the office he holds so long as it is held by him. Opposition to the president on a particular issue is understood by these opponents as incidental to a general condemnation: the intent, not only to defeat the president in any and all disagreements with him, but entirely to discredit and punish him and to nullify his administration.

This opposition is never mitigated by tokens or gestures of respect for the president’s office, any of his aims or programs, his character, his person or his family. An opposition so complete and so vividly emotional cannot be, in any respectable sense, political.

Some of the president’s congressional enemies – and these may be the most honest of them – have openly insulted him. But such candor is not necessary. Elected officials or candidates seeking the support or the votes of racists do not need to question the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate or to call him a Muslim, a communist, a Nazi or a traitor.

They need only to stand silently by while such slurs and falsehoods are loudly voiced in public by others. To the racist constituency, their silence is a message that secures votes. Their silence declares that no truth or dignity is worth as much as a vote.

Nobody can doubt that virtually all of the president’s political enemies would vehemently defend themselves against a charge of racism. Virtually all of them observe the forms and taboos of political correctness. If any very visible one of their own should insult the president by a recognized racial slur, they would all join in the predictable outrage. But the paramount fact of this moment in the history of racism is that you don’t have to denominate the president by a recognized racial slur when his very name can be used as a synonym.

This subtilized racism is not only a perhaps unignorable lure to Republican politicians; it can also be noticeably corrupting to Democrats.

You can read the rest of his essay at the link.  BostonBoomer is on her way back to Boston so hopefully, she’ll have some great comments to add tonight when she gets to her motel and the half way point some where in Ohio!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today Sky Dancers?

Wednesday Reads: Farewell Goddess Chablis and Goddess Arquette


arquette_52007’s Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother. In an outtake posted to YouTube, Arquette declared “No one in my life or on the streets can say or do anything that’s going to persuade me from becoming … who I am.”



In fact, the only label she ever truly embraced was the one she gave herself – The Lady Chablis. theladychablis1“I just try to be who I am without all the labels people try to put on you,” she told the reporter at Savannah Magazine.


“The legacy that she wanted to leave was one of ‘believe in who you are and never let the world change who you are,'” [her sister Cynthia]Ponder said. “Love yourself first and respect yourself first and others will love and respect you.”

The leaves are starting to change their colors here in the mountains. That normal process that creates a marvelous paint of brilliant transformation has begun. Same trees…same hills…same mountains. Whatever nature has planned, that innate process that happens when the leaves change from green to vivid hues of crimson and gold, radiant orange and fire…colors that you could describe with names that sound more like MAC lipstick color hues…than the shade of leaves hanging from the trees. Which seems appropriate, because this post is a tribute to two ladies who gave glam to transgender before hashtags and tweets.






I think the best way to start the ball rolling is with this article from The Guardian.

Alexis Arquette and The Lady Chablis: deaths a reminder of barriers they broke | Film | The Guardian

The two transgender women were activists and entertainers who dared to be themselves – and set the tone for future generations

105115183In the last week, America lost two pioneering transgender women entertainers:Alexis Arquette and The Lady Chablis. Both died relatively young, Arquette at 47 and Chablis at 59. Then again, perhaps that’s actually rather old, given the world they were born into: although there’s no good data on life expectancies for trans and gender non-conforming people in the United States, the statistics we do havesuggest that they face greater health concerns with fewer resources than their cisgender counterparts, and that they are therefore more likely to die younger as well. Yet both Arquette and Chablis lived outsized lives despite their short durations, and along the way, they managed to break barriers for transgender artists everywhere.

In the 1990s, if you wanted to see a trans actor on the big screen, you had remarkably few options. Despite a plethora of films with large transgender roles, ranging from the deplorable (Ace Ventura Pet Detective), to the complicated (The Crying Game), to the tragic (Boys Don’t Cry), trans actors were almost entirely sidelined from major productions. Today, a small handful are gaining traction in mainstream film and television projects, such as Laverne Cox, Tom Phelan, Mya Taylor, Jamie Clayton and Trace Lysette. And if a cisgender actor does play a transgender character, there’s bound to be some uproar, as there was when it was recently announced that Michelle Rodriguez would play a transgender assassin in the new Walter Hill film, (Re)Assignment.

But that wasn’t even a conversation in the 90s, when Arquette and Chablis became two of the first trans actors to play trans roles in major mainstream films – Arquette as the gender non-conforming George (based on Boy George) in Adam Sandlers’s The Wedding Singer (1998), and Chablis as herself in the 1997 docu-thriller, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

alexis_arquette_1200Both women had nuanced, complicated and shifting understandings of their own genders. Perhaps reflecting the time in which they grew up, over the course of their lives both used (or had applied to them) a wide variety of labels, from “drag queen” and “female impersonator”, to “transgendered” and “gender suspicious”. Yet no matter what words they used, both were always vocal advocates for trans people, rights and representation.


Arquette came to movie work early in her career, thanks in part to her famous family. mg-606The Lady Chablis, on the other hand, was a well-known performer in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, but it wasn’t until the publication of the true-crime book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (in 1994), that she gained wider notoriety. After spending over 200 weeks on the New York Times’s bestseller list, the book was made into a film starring Kevin Spacey and a young Jude Law. Chablis was shocked when they asked her to audition for the role of herself. In an interview with NPR, Chad Darnell, the film’s casting director, recalls that she informed him “there’s nobody else who can play me but me”. When he suggested Whitney Houston, she slapped him so hard she drew blood – and got the role.

Like the leaves on the trees, both The Lady and Arquette lived life being who they truly are…as nature intended. Here are some quotes from articles over the past few days that will be good to read.

socialfeed-savannah-icon-lady-chablis-has-diedThe Lady Chablis, Sassy Eccentric in ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,’ Dies at 59 – The New York Times

The Lady Chablis, the transgender performer featured in the 1994 best seller “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and in the film version, died on Thursday in Savannah, Ga. She was 59 and had been working until about a month ago.

The cause was pneumonia, said Cale Hall, a longtime friend and an owner of Club One, where she had performed for three decades.

Ms. Chablis was a standout character in the book, in which the author, John Berendt, introduced the world to Savannah and the sometimes eccentric people who live there.

“She was The Lady Chablis from morning to night,” Mr. Berendt said in an interview on Thursday. “She had a great repartee,” he said, “and she had a way with words. She was creative.”

They first met when Ms. Chablis, who had just received her biweekly estrogen shots, insinuated herself into Mr. Berendt’s car for a ride home.


“She had both hands on her hips and a sassy half-smile on her face as if she had been waiting for me,” he wrote.


She would become the book’s most popular character, Mr. Berendt said. She was also his favorite.

“It’s not as if she died without knowing,” he added. “She knew. And she also knew she was everybody’s favorite.”

After the book came out, Ms. Chablis appeared on “Good Morning America” and “Oprah.” Readers from around the country went to see her at Club One. She published an autobiography, “Hiding My Candy,” in 1996 and the next year played herself in Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation of the Berendt book.

She was born Benjamin Edward Knox in Quincy, Fla., on March 11, 1957, and never finished high school. She took the name Chablis as a teenager. As she recalled in Mr. Berendt’s book, her mother, inspired by a wine bottle label, had intended the name for a younger sister but had had a miscarriage. Ms. Chablis immediately expressed interest in the name.

1“I said, ‘Ooooo, Chablis. That’s nice. I like that name,’ ” she was quoted as saying in the book. “And Mama said, ‘Then take it, baby. Just call yourself Chablis from now on.’ So ever since then, I’ve been Chablis.” She had her name legally changed to The Lady Chablis.

Lady Chablis, Star Of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, Passes Away At 59

Over twenty years ago, Chablis was written in as a character in John Berendt’s non-fiction narrative, Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil. The story centralizes around Jim Williams, a noted Savannah socialite and antiques dealer who was found guilty of murdering a local male prostitute named Danny Hansford. Berendt wrote Chablis into the book as one of the many eccentric true-life characters and he uses her to better paint the picture of queer nightlife in Savannah. In both the book and the film, Chablis acts as a light-hearted contrast to the more serious themes of the story, with memorable one-liners such as “two tears in a bucket, motherfuck it” and “yes, I am a bitch, and proud of it, honey”. Her performance both on the page and on screen established her as an icon within the drag world, however, Chablis has contributed more to the community than just her work with Kevin Spacey.

tumblr_llx6obsca51qafql9In 1996, a year before she graced Clint Eastwood’s rendition of Midnight, Chablis published an autobiography entitled Hiding My Candy: The Autobiography of the Grand Empress of Savannah. In her book, Chablis spills the T on her upbringings in drag, beginning with her introduction to Miss Tina Devore in a Tallahassee nightclub. Devore would go on to become Chablis’s drag mother and in Midnight, Chablis remarks that she got her drag name from Devore, saying “my mama got the name Chablis off a wine bottle. She didn’t think it up for me though. It was supposed to be for my sister”. While in Atlanta, Chablis began her transition towards becoming a transgender woman, taking hormones and legally changing her name to Brenda Dale Knox, all while still developing a budding drag career. In his book, Berendt remarks that he meet Chablis at a doctor’s office after a routine estrogen injection, writing that “her big eyes sparkled. Her skin glowed. A broken incisor tooth punctuated her smile and gave her a naughty look”. But it wasn’t just Berendt who was captivated by the queen because after the film’s release she went on to guest on Good Morning America and the Oprah Winfrey Show. Despite her growing fame, Chablis stuck true to her roots throughout the 2000s, headlining Savannah Pride and hosting the Miss Gay Pride Pageant. chablis-1In 2013, she made an appearance on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, reading the wives to filth before a live audience.

Many have commented on the drag icon’s passing, including the book’s author John Berendt. “She’ll be remembered for her outrageous profanity-laced spontaneity and for being one of the first up-front transsexual personalities to be accepted by a wide audience.” Today we see many transgender actors and actresses beloved by millions on the big screen, however, Chablis and her role in Midnight made her a legend and a role model for others who have followed in her footsteps. And while Chablis was loved by audiences for her role on screen as well as by those who had the chance to watch her perform, the road to stardom wasn’t easy for Chablis. In her autobiography, Chablis explains that performing in Atlanta taught her about the realities of prejudice and she was even arrested for falsification of identification. “They took my purse and my gowns and they took The Doll to jail, honey…”, Chablis writes and she shows readers that performing in drag and living as a pre-operative transgender female was not as accepted at the time as it is today.


Chablis continued to perform at Club One in Savannah up until she was hospitalized on August 6th 2016. On social media, Club One paid tribute to their resident queen, sharing that “just as The Book shined the spotlight on Savannah, so too did Chablis shine the spotlight on the gay scene, and especially on Club One. She was Club One’s very first entertainer, officiating our grand opening in 1988, and paving the way for female impersonation in Savannah. No one, however, could outshine the Grand Empress herself.” And while Chablis may no longer be performing on the main stage at Club One, her legacy as a drag performer and transgender pioneer will live on for many generations to come.


I’ve always been fascinated with The Doll…something about her way of expressing herself made me feel like she was an old friend.

As for Alexis….The Arquette family has issued this statement:

gettyimages-57578927Alexis Arquette, Transgender Actress, Dead at 47 – Rolling Stone

“Our brother Robert, who became our brother Alexis, who became our sister Alexis, who became our brother Alexis, passed this morning September 11, at 12:32 am,” Richmond wrote. “He was surrounded by all of his brothers and sisters, one of his nieces and several other loved ones. We were playing music for him and he passed during David Bowie’s Starman. As per his wishes, we cheered at the moment that he transitioned to another dimension.”

Alexis Arquette’s family release poignant statement: ‘She left before we were ready to let her go’ | The Independent

The Arquette family have paid tribute to their daughter Alexis Arquette and commended her fight for the “understanding and acceptance” of the transgender community.


The Arquette family have requested privacy and asked for donations be made to organisations which support the LGBTQ community in her honour.



Her sibling’s statement in full:

“Our sister, Alexis Arquette, passed away this morning, September 11th, 2016.
“Alexis was a brilliant artist and painter, a singer, an entertainer and an actor. She starred in movies like ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’, ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Jumpin’ at the Boneyard’, ‘Of Mice and Men’, ‘The Wedding Singer’, and ‘The Bride of Chucky’. Her career was cut short, not by her passing, but by her decision to live her truth and her life as a transgender woman. Despite the fact that there are few parts for trans actors, she refused to play roles that were demeaning or stereotypical. She was a vanguard in the fight for understanding and acceptance for all trans people.
34225pcn_arquette“She fiercely lived her reality in a world where it is dangerous to be a trans person — a world largely unready to accept differences among human beings, and where there is still the ugliness of violence and hostility towards people that we may not understand.
“Alexis was born as Robert, our brother. We loved him the moment he arrived. But he came in as more than a sibling — he came as our great teacher. As Alexis transitioned into being a woman, she taught us tolerance and acceptance. As she moved through her process, she became our sister, teaching us what real love is.
“We learned what real bravery is through watching her journey of living as a trans woman. We came to discover the one truth — that love is everything.
“In the days leading to her death, she told us she was already visiting the other side, and that where she was going, there was only one gender. That on the other side, we are free from all of the things that separate us in this life, and that we are all one.
“She passed away surrounded by love. We held her and sang her David Bowie’s ‘Starman’ as she punched through the veil to the other side. We washed her body in rose petals and surrounded her with flowers.
“Alexis always had to do everything first. She left before we were ready to let her go. We are all heartbroken that she is no longer with us, but we are grateful for the grace and kindness we were all shown during this difficult time. We are comforted by the fact that Alexis came into our family and was our brother and then our sister, and that she gave us so much love. We will love you always, Alexis. We know we were the lucky ones.
“The family asks that in lieu of flowers or gifts, donations please be sent to organizations that support the LGBTQ community in honour of Alexis Arquette.
“Please respect our privacy during this time of grieving.”


gettyimages-106980631-0bf719a5-d47c-4f32-8ec6-1835cbe459ccAlexis Arquette Male Gender Pronouns: Why Did Brother And Ex-Boyfriend Use Him/He?

Actress and transgender activist Alexis Arquette transitioned to a woman in her late thirties, so why did her brother, Richard, and ex-boyfriend, Ryan Black, refer to her with male pronouns? It’s especially confusing for some, considering sister Patricia referred to Alexis with all female pronouns in the family’s press release about Alexis’ death Sunday.

GLAAD, formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, encourages the media to becautious of “pronoun confusion”: “Ideally a story will not use pronouns associated with a person’s birth sex when referring to the person’s life prior to transition. Try to write transgender people’s stories from the present day, instead of narrating them from some point in the past, thus avoiding confusion and potentially disrespectful use of incorrect pronouns.”

alexis-arquette-inline-f6b3d43d-9b24-43ce-a841-a6f691a45347The Associated Press Stylebook writes reporters should: “use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.”

So if Alexis transitioned to a female more than a decade ago, why is there confusion about her gender? Lesser known to the public, Alexis became more fluid about her gender later in life. In fact, she said she was “not transgender anymore” when Caitlyn Jenner came out last year.

“She was like, ‘Yeah, sometimes I’ll be a man, sometimes I’ll be a woman. I like to refer to myself as gender suspicious,’” her brother, David Arquette, said on “Kocktails with Khloé” in February.

David was confused. “I said, ‘You’re my sister and brother?’” he recalled asking. “[Alexis] said, ‘It depends on how I’m dressed.’”

Alexis believed there was only one gender after death. “In the days leading to her death, she told us she was already visiting the other side, and that where she was going, there was only one gender,” Patricia wrote in the family’s press release. “That on the other side, we are free from all of the things that separate us in this life, and that we are all one.”

23Final Days of Alexis Arquette: “A Tear in the Ocean” | Hollywood Reporter

Arquette remained fiercely private about her health struggles and obstinate about seeking treatments, ignoring her friends’ and family’s entreaties to take the life-saving AIDS drugs that were emerging every year. In recent weeks, the battle became a losing one: Arquette, 47, had developed an infection in her liver that spread throughout her body.

She was pronounced dead at 12:32 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11. The news was first shared in a Facebook post from her eldest brother, Richmond Arquette, 53, perhaps the least-known member of a powerhouse acting family that includes Rosanna, 57, Patricia, 48, and David, 45. “Our brother Robert, who became our brother Alexis, who became our sister Alexis, who became our brother Alexis [has] passed,” began his announcement.

comedycentralroastflavorflavarrivalspn3qb424otsxAlexis had left specific instructions for her death: David Bowie’s “Starman” was to play as her final moments approached. (Glam rock had always been her favorite genre of music, followed by new wave and punk.) And when the final breath passed her lips, she asked that everyone cheer “the moment that [s]he transitioned to another dimension.”

A few other links:

Alexis Arquette’s Death: How Do People Die from AIDS?

Alexis Arquette’s Vibrant Life and Transition, on Screen and off :

Alexis Arquette’s Life as a Trans Star, LGBT Activist – Us Weekly

Alexis Arquette, transgender activist and actress, dies at 47 – LA Times

Alexis Arquette Has Died At 47

b309cd89fdd254d8d5e1158d2f071490Two Tears In A Bucket: Lady Chablis Dies At Age 59 – Joe.My.God.

RIP Lady Chablis: Performer, Author, and LGBTQIA Legend | The Mary Sue

Lady Chablis, transgender ‘Midnight’ star, dies in Savannah | The Charlotte Observer

Alexis Arquette, Lady Chablis, Trans Health, and the Tabloid Response to HIV |

Whether or not AIDS complications played a role in either woman’s death, they can still teach us a lot about the health inequality of transgender life.


This week has seen the death of two famous transgender women. First was Lady Chablis, the 59-year-old African-American performer made famous by the best-selling book and later Clint Eastwood film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Chablis spent much of her life as an elegant and attractive cabaret performer at nightclubs in Savannah, Ga., and Columbia, S.C. Her death from pneumonia did little to diminish her star power which had grown from her role in Midnight (she played herself) to appearances on The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Bizarre Foods America: Savannah. According to The Advocate’s Neal Broverman, she continued her club performances, wrote an autobiography, and “used her fame for good, raising money for diabetes and LGBT causes. She remained beloved in Savannah, even though she lived in South Carolina.”

Lady Chamblis (above) made Savannah a destination

In her obituary, pneumonia was listed as the cause of Chablis’s death. Pneumonia, literally an infection in one or both lungs, affects 1 million people a year in the U.S. and kills about 50,000. There’s a vaccine, but it’s usually only recommended for people over 65 or those with immune system issues like HIV.

Pneumonia, just like what Hilary Clinton has, is common and can be caused by bacteria or viruses from things like the flu, whooping cough, and chicken pox. People who have HIV are more susceptible, as are those who smoke, or have diabetes, asthma, or heart disease. When people in the HIV world hear someone died of pneumonia, and they are otherwise in decent health, we can’t help but wonder if it that pneumonia was a complication of their HIV.

Chablis died, at 59, just days before actress-turned-artist Alexis Arquette did so as well.

50732335Arquette, 47 at her death, was the second youngest of a Hollywood dynasty that began with her grandfather Cliff Arquette, a man who dressed as both Mrs. Butterworth (replete with falsetto and mustache) and a character, Charlie Weaver, that became so famous and ubiquitous he occupied the Hollywood Squares in character longer than most other stars of the time. (Cliff, in fact, was rarely seen in public without playing the Charlie Weaver character.)

The family bloodline traces back to Meriwether Lewis (half of for the the 1800s era Lewis and Clark Expedition) for whom Alexis’s own father was named. (He was on The Waltons.)

Arquette’s siblings — Rosanna, Richmond, Patricia, and David Arquette — were reportedly by her side at the end, and supportive throughout her tabloid-ridden life. But if People magazine, ex-boyfriend Robert DuPont, and “anonymous sources” are to be believed, Arquette died of complications from AIDS — an inoperable cancerous tumor and some sort of infection — at Cedars Sinai hospital, as her family played David Bowie’s “Starman.” These same “sources” reported that Arquette had been living in a West Hollywood, Calif. Actors Fund home for people with HIV, rather than with her wealthy siblings, out of a need for independence.

Here the thing about all this, and about the attendant reports debating over whether Arquette’s transition a decade ago was still relevant, whether she was misgendered by family members in death or whether she now identified as “gender suspicious” and thus open to pronouns of any sort — the thing here is that nothing about Arquette’s health or death has been confirmed by those closest to her, by her family or by her doctors, and until then we can’t say she had HIV at all. That won’t stop the tabloids though, which requires us, too, to comment.

The same can be said for Lady Chablis.

What we do know is that when we hear about transgender women dying in their 40s and 50s, and the cause isn’t violence, we know that complications from AIDS is a very real possibility. That’s because HIV disproportionately impacts transgender women, especially those, like Chablis, who are women of color. We know that the life expectancy for a a black trans woman it’s extremely low and often unlikely to be from old-age natural causes and far more likely to be violence or AIDS complications.

And, those of us in the world of HIV healthcare and activism know that for years, pneumonia and cancer have been code words for AIDS complications.

Go to the link to read the rest of that post…which also touches on the Hillary conspiracy.

This is an open thread. Please post links to whatever you like in the comments below. I just would like to end with this last bit from the very first article I discussed in this post. It phrases my thoughts and feelings:

Today, we are a little further down that road to equality thanks to pioneers like The Lady Chablis and Alexis Arquette, but our world is also a little dimmer without their light. The roles they won might seem small or stereotypical by today’s standards, but they were exceptional 20 years ago. Rest in power, Goddess Chablis and Goddess Arquette.


Rest in power is right…and may the glam be with you!

Tuesday Reads

November Wind, John Roush

November Wind, John Roush

Good Afternoon!!

A brief personal note: I’m still staying with my mother in Indiana. I was ready to go home last week, but I came down with a virus that seems similar to what Dakinikat had recently. Then my mom had a fainting episode that may have been caused by dehydration (sound familiar?). I called 911, because she collapsed suddenly and I had no idea what happened. Luckily, I was there and was able to lower her to the floor gradually. Her vital signs turned out to be fine, but she hurt her leg because of her position on the floor. She’s better now, but today my cold is the worst it has been. So I’m not sure how coherent this post will be, and it’s obviously very late.

Like other Sky Dancers, I’ve been at my wits end lately with the way the media is attacking Hillary and letting Trump slide on his racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia as well as the actual corruption around his so-called family foundation. The only redeeming factor on MSNBC yesterday was Lawrence O’Donnell’s epic rant about the media “losing it’s collective mind” over Hillary’s health. If you missed it, you must watch it as soon as you can.

Midwest Prairie

Midwest Prairie

I’ve also come to the conclusion that The New York Times and the Associate Press are deplorable and irredeemable. Surprisingly, The Washington Post is currently doing the best job of holding Trump accountable and not “losing its mind” over every single thing Hillary says or does.

I want to begin with two articles I found somewhat calming.

Stuart Rothenberg at The Washington Post: Why Clinton’s narrow lead is bigger than it looks.

Big swings in polls get the big headlines because they imply big changes in a race. But over the past three-and-a-half decades, I’ve grown skeptical of big swings in polls at this late date, and I’ve seen only modest changes in voting behavior in presidential elections.

It isn’t that big swings can’t happen during a campaign. It’s that big swings are rare because there are so few swing voters in the electorate and all swing voters rarely move in the same direction.

A little more than a month ago Gallup found 38 percent of respondents saying they were political Independents, while only 31 percent said they were Democrats and 27 percent said they were Republicans.

But once respondents who “leaned” to one party or the other are allocated, only 11 percent of Americans called themselves true Independents (and some of them probably are closet partisans). This same distribution has been found by the Pew Research Center.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey conducted after the Democratic convention (July 31-Aug. 3) showed 33 percent of respondents were independents, while 13 percent were true independents.

Dramatic events – such as a national party convention or a heavily watched televised debate  – can produce significant swings in the polls, and a bad economy, presidential scandal or unpopular war can produce substantial electoral swings, such as when normally Republican Indiana voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

But unless there is dramatic news, you should be very skeptical about any survey showing a dramatic shift in voters’ attitudes over a few weeks. Remember, not only are survey results subject to a margin of error, but 5 percent of surveys produce results outside that margin.

If you look at actual presidential election results, you may be surprised to see how little swing there is when all the votes are counted.

Prairie Storm, John Hulsey

Prairie Storm, John Hulsey

McClatchy: Why the election map has a built-in, and growing, Democratic bias.

The presidential election map is undergoing a fundamental change, with shifts that will make it easier for Democrats to win not only in 2016 but also for years to come.

Driving the change are two demographic trends: The share of Hispanic and under-30 voters, who favor Democrats in big numbers, is growing significantly in states that in the last decade were decent bets to vote Republican.

“We’re moving in a direction where the demographic map makes it harder and harder for Republican candidates to win the presidency if current conditions continue,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, the director of Hispanic research at the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

Colorado, Nevada and Pennsylvania illustrate how the demographic changes are giving Hillary Clinton an electoral advantage Democrats are unlikely to lose anytime soon. Clinton leads in Pennsylvania and Colorado, which for years were regarded as swing states, and she has a polling edge in Nevada.

Already moving toward the Democrats in the Obama era, Hispanics and younger voters are trending strongly Democratic in the Trump era.

Read more details the rest at the link.

As Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out last night, people who are already supporting Hillary are unlikely to be swayed by reports about her health, and Trump supporters are unlikely to switch sides because his racism and incompetence. They like him because they are racists too. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who fails to reject Donald Trump after the shocking things he has said over the last year is obviously supporting his racism.

Photo of abandoned one-room schoolhouse

Photo of abandoned one-room schoolhouse

Another bit of positive news from the WaPo: Middle class incomes had their fastest growth on record last year.

The incomes of typical Americans rose in 2015 by 5.2  percent, the first significant boost to middle-class pay since the end of the Great Recession and the fastest increase ever recorded by the federal government, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday.

In addition, the poverty rate fell by 1.2 percentage points, the steepest decline since 1968. There were 43.1 million Americans in poverty on the year, 3.5 million fewer than in 2014.

The share of Americans who lack health insurance continued a years-long decline, falling 1.3 percentage points, to 9.1 percent.

The numbers, from the government’s annual report on income, poverty and health insurance, suggest the recovery from recession is finally beginning to lift the fortunes of large swaths of American workers and families. The Obama administration and its allies immediately hailed them in glowing terms.

“This exceeds the strong expectation that I already had,”  Jason Furman, the chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, said in an interview, in which he called the income report the strongest ever from the Census Bureau. “The news here is the growth rates. I’ve read the last 21 reports, including this one. I have never seen one like this, in terms of, everything you look at is what you’d want to see or better.”

Trump keeps saying that America is in decline and everything about our country is terrible. But he’s just lying like he does about everything under the sun.

More Congresspeople are going on Cable news to defend Hillary. Here’s a great segment with Black Caucus Chairman Rep Gregory Meeks. Keep an eye on the facial expressions of the woman interviewer.

David Fahrenthold has a new piece today that demonstrates the Trump campaign’s confusion about how foundations and charities work: Donald J. Trump Foundation is Trump’s money, his campaign manager says. No.

Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was asked on CNN this morning to provide evidence to prove Trump’s claim that he has given generously to charity.

She didn’t.

In the process, Conway also seemed to be unaware of a key fact about Trump’s personal charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

Which is: The Trump Foundation’s money doesn’t actually come from Trump’s own pocket.

“Donald Trump has been incredibly generous over the course of his life,” Conway told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota.

“With his own money?” Camerota asked.

“With his own money, and his foundation’s money — which is his money,” Conway replied.

Platte Valley Summer, by Dale NIchols

Platte Valley Summer, by Dale NIchols

Wow. If you’ve been following Fahrenthold’s research, you know how completely wrong that is. Please go read the whole thing.

Here’s a strange suggestion that can’t be ignored because of the person who made it. Again from the WaPo: The man who discovered CTE thinks Hillary Clinton may have been poisoned.

Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who has made the NFL so uncomfortable with his discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of deceased players, suggests that Hillary Clinton’s campaign be checked for possible poisons after her collapse Sunday in New York.

Omalu, whose story was famously told in the movie “Concussion,” made the suggestion on Twitter, writing that he advised campaign officials to “perform toxicologic analysis of Ms. Clinton’s blood.”

Omalu suggests that with the Russian interference in the 2016 election this is something to be concerned about.

I doubt if it’s true, but what’s the harm in checking it out? We’ve seen some unbelievable things happening this year.

That will have to do it for me today. I may add more links in the comment thread.