Lazy Saturday Reads: Primary Voting Moves West

Arizona Landscape, Jose Aceves

Arizona Landscape, Jose Aceves

Good Afternoon!!

On Tuesday, Democratic voters in the West will be voting in the Arizona primary and the Idaho and Utah caucuses. In each of these states, only registered Democrats can vote. The biggest delegate prize is in Arizona, where 85 delegates will be up for grabs. Republicans will also vote in the Arizona and Utah caucuses. For Republicans, Arizona is winner take all and Utah is proportional. All Democratic primaries are proportional.

I was hoping we were finally done with TV debates and town halls, but CNN has announced it will hold a town hall on Monday night that includes the five remaining candidate from both parties. CNN press release:

CNN announced today that Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer will host a three-hour primetime event with both Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls on Monday March 21 from 8 to 11 pmET. The event will take place just before the ‘Western Tuesday’ primary contests in Arizona, Utah and Idaho (D). 

Donald Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will each be individually interviewed in the CNN Election Center in Washington, D.C. while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will be interviewed from the campaign trail.

The event will air from 8-11 pm ET on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Espanol, and will be live-streamed online and across mobile devices via CNNgo

Scattered Rain, Grand Canyon, Ed Mell

Scattered Rain, Grand Canyon, Ed Mell

The Sanders campaign believes that Western states will provide good opportunities for him to pick up delegates, but there won’t be masses of Independents voting for him this time. He’ll have to appeal to Democrats. As of today, FiveThirtyEight estimates that Clinton has a 51.1 percent chance of winning Arizona and Sanders has a 22.7 percent chance. RealClearPolitics has Clinton leading 48.5 to 21.5. There hasn’t been much polling of the state though. Donald Trump is strongly favored on the GOP side.

As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, the Sanders campaign is still claiming the Hillary can only win in red states in the Deep South. Never mind that she won Iowa, Nevada, Massachusetts, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, and Ohio. He is also still peddling the fantasy that he is the candidate who is better equipped to defeat Trump in the general election, even though he has so far won far fewer popular votes than either Clinton or Trump. He bases this claim on his big rallies, his supposed ability (not demonstrated so far) to increase voter turnout and the media-generated meme of an “enthusiasm gap.”

Grand Canyon, Maxfield Parrish

Grand Canyon, Maxfield Parrish

At FiveThirtyEight, Harry Enten explains why primary results can’t be used to project general election turnout: Primary Turnout Means Nothing For The General Election.

Republican turnout is up and Democratic turnout is down in the 2016 primary contests so far. That has some Republicans giddy for the fall…And some commentators are saying that Democrats should be nervous.

But Democrats shouldn’t worry. Republicans shouldn’t celebrate….voter turnout is an indication of the competitiveness of a primary contest, not of what will happen in the general election. The GOP presidential primary is more competitive than the Democratic race.

Indeed, history suggests that there is no relationship between primary turnout and the general election outcome. You can see this on the most basic level by looking at raw turnout in years in which both parties had competitive primaries. There have been six of those years in the modern era: 1976, 1980, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008.

Check out Enten’s charts and detailed analysis of the question at the link.

Moon Rising, Barbara Gurwitz

Moon Rising, Barbara Gurwitz

This one is for Dakinikat. Eric Levitz at New York Magazine: The Republican Party Must Answer for What It Did to Kansas and Louisiana.

In 2010, the tea-party wave put Sam Brownback into the Sunflower State’s governor’s mansion and Republican majorities in both houses of its legislature. Together, they implemented the conservative movement’s blueprint for Utopia: They passed massive tax breaks for the wealthy and repealed all income taxes on more than 100,000 businesses. They tightened welfare requirements, privatized the delivery of Medicaid, cut $200 million from the education budget, eliminated four state agencies and 2,000 government employees. In 2012, Brownback helped replace the few remaining moderate Republicans in the legislature with conservative true believers. The following January, after signing the largest tax cut in Kansas history, Brownback told the Wall Street Journal, “My focus is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, ‘See, we’ve got a different way, and it works.’ ”

[…]

Louisiana has replicated these results. When Bobby Jindal moved into the governor’s mansion in 2008, he inherited a $1 billion surplus. When he moved out last year, Louisiana faced a $1.6 billion projected deficit. Part of that budgetary collapse can be put on the past year’s plummeting oil prices. The rest should be placed on Jindal passing the largest tax cut in the state’s history and then refusing to reverse course when the state’s biggest industry started tanking. Jindal’s giveaway to the wealthiest citizens in the country’s second-poorest state cost Louisiana roughly $800 million every year. To make up that gap, Jindal slashed social services, raided the state’s rainy-day funds, and papered over the rest with reckless borrowing. Today, the state is scrambling to resolve a $940 million budget gap for this fiscal year, with a $2 billion shortfall projected for 2017. Like Bizarro Vermont, Louisiana can no longer afford to provide public defenders for all its criminal defendants. Its Department of Children and Family Services may soon be unable to investigate every reported instance of child abuse. Education funding is down 44 percent since Jindal took office. The state’s hospitals are likely to see at least $64 million in funding cuts this year.

Superstition Mountains, Carol Sabo

Superstition Mountains, Carol Sabo

As we all know, Brownback’s and Jindal’s policies brought both states to their knees economically. For more detailed analysis, go to the link and read the entire piece. So why haven’t Republican presidential candidates been asked to explain why they are pushing the same tired policies that destroyed two states?

What has happened to these states should be a national story; because we are one election away from it being our national story. Ted Cruz claims his tax plan will cost less than $1 trillion in lost revenue over the next ten years. Leaving aside the low bar the Texas senator sets for himself — my giveaway to the one percent will cost a bit less than the Iraq War! — Cruz only stays beneath $1 trillion when you employ the kind of “dynamic scoring” that has consistently underestimated the costs of tax cuts in Kansas. Under a conventional analysis, the bill runs well over $3 trillion, with 44 percent of that lost money accruing to the one percent. John Kasich’s tax plan includes cutting the top marginal rate by more than ten percent along with a similar cut to the rates on capital gains and business taxes. Even considering Kasich’s appetite for Social Security cuts, his plan must rely on the same supply-side voodoo that Kansas has so thoroughly discredited. As for the most likely GOP nominee, even with dynamic scoring, his tax cuts would cost $10 trillion over the next ten years, with 40 percent of that gargantuan sum filling the pockets of Trump’s economic peers.

If any of these men are [sic] elected president, they will almost certainly take office with a House and Senate eager to scale up the “red-state model.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said of Brownback’s Kansas, This is exactly the sort of thing we (Republicans) want to do here, in Washington, but can’t, at least for now.” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s celebrated budgets all depend on the same magical growth that has somehow escaped the Sunflower State.

Maxfield Parish Cowboys' Hot Springs AZ

Maxfield Parish, Cowboys’ Hot Springs AZ

In an important op-ed at The Washington Post, Mark Barden and Jackie Barden respond to comments Bernie Sanders made during the Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan. The Bardens’ son Daniel was murdered in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School  in Newtown, Connecticut.

Sanders is wrong about the lawsuit we filed after our son’s murder in Newtown.

Our son, our sweet little Daniel, was just 7 when he was murdered in his first-grade classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. We are among the 10 families suing the manufacturer, distributor and retail seller of the assault rifle that took 26 lives in less than five minutes on that terrible day.

We write in response to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s comments about our lawsuit at the recent Democratic presidential debate in Michigan. Sanders suggested that the “point” of our case is to hold Remington Arms Co. liable simply because one of its guns was used to commit mass murder. With all due respect, this is simplistic and wrong.

This case is about a particular weapon, Remington’s Bushmaster AR-15, and its sale to a particular market: civilians. It is not about handguns or hunting rifles, and the success of our lawsuit would not mean the end of firearm manufacturing in this country, as Sanders warned. This case is about the AR-15 because the AR-15 is not an ordinary weapon; it was designed and manufactured for the military to increase casualties in combat. The AR-15 is to guns what a tank is to cars: uniquely deadly and suitable for specialized use only.

We have never suggested that Remington should be held liable simply for manufacturing the AR-15. In fact, we believe that Remington and other manufacturers’ production of the AR-15 is essential for our armed forces and law enforcement. But Remington is responsible for its calculated choice to sell that same weapon to the public, and for emphasizing the military and assaultive capacities of the weapon in its marketing to civilians.

Indeed, Remington promotes the AR-15’s capacity to inflict mass casualities. It markets its AR-15s with images of soldiers and SWAT teams; it dubs various models the “patrolman” and the “adaptive combat rifle” and declares that they are “as mission-adaptable as you are”; it encourages the notion that the AR-15 is a weapon that bestows power and glory upon those who wield it. Advertising copy for Remington’s AR-15s has included the following: “Consider your man card reissued,” and “Forces of opposition, bow down. You are single-handedly outnumbered.”

Please go read the rest at the WaPo. I really hope Bernie Sanders reads it carefully.

Arizona, Jose Aceves

Arizona, Jose Aceves

Finally, here’s just one reason I believe Hillary Clinton will crush Donald Trump or any other GOP candidate in November.

CNN: Obama plans to campaign hard, with legacy on his mind.

Expect to see a whole lot of President Barack Obama this campaign season as he works to spell out what he sees as the stakes in the 2016 election and tries to defend his legacy.

As he approaches the end of his term in the midst of an election year that has been defined by heated, often controversial rhetoric coming from the leading Republican candidates, like GOP front-runner Donald Trump, the President is vowing to do all he can to make sure a Democrat replaces him at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He also wants to retake the Senate and win more seats in the House of Representatives.

So far, he has headlined 35 fundraisers since the 2014 midterm elections and he has already endorsed 10 candidates at the state level, according to the Democratic National Committee.

“The President has been clear that as we get closer to the general election, it will become even more important that the American people understand what is at stake,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Jennifer Friedman. “Do we continue to build on the policies that reward hard-working American families, advance our economic and national security, and address challenges for future generations, or do we stop in our tracks, reverse our progress and move in the wrong direction? This is a choice that the President does not take lightly, and is something he will lay out for the American people with increased frequency in the weeks and months ahead.”

Obama has implicitly endorsed Hillary four times now, and he has said he would not campaign for any candidate who doesn’t support “commonsense gun laws.” If she is the nominee, there will be an awesome team behind her–President Obama, former President Bill Clinton, as well as other prominent Democrats. Can you just imagine what a team Barack and Hillary will make on the campaign trail? I can’t wait.

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great weekend!


Friday Reads: This and That, Good and Bad, Policy and Empty Promises

Good Afternoon!

32-Harper-Lee-Split-v2We heard this morning of the passing of the great writer Harper Lee.

Harper Lee, the author of the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, has died in her hometown of Monroeville, Ala. The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer was 89.

Monroeville city officials confirmed reports of Lee’s death to Alabama Public Radio. Her publisher, HarperCollins, also confirmed the news to NPR.

Her famous novel about a young girl’s experience of racial tensions in a small Southern town has sold tens of millions of copies and been translated into dozens of languages.

Lee’s family issued a statement Friday morning saying that Lee “passed away in her sleep early this morning. Her passing was unexpected. She remained in good basic health until her passing.”

Family spokesman Hank Conner, Lee’s nephew, said:

“This is a sad day for our family. America and the world knew Harper Lee as one of the last century’s most beloved authors. We knew her as Nelle Harper Lee, a loving member of our family, a devoted friend to the many good people who touched her life, and a generous soul in our community and our state. We will miss her dearly.”

The family says that as Lee had requested, a private funeral service will be held.

Lee’s novel is probably one of the greatest stories showing American Life ever written.  It is studied by students and beloved by all that read about Scout and see the movie adaptation.

More than a half-century after its publication, the novel continues to be studied by high school and college students. It has sold more than 30 million copies—still selling nearly a million copies per year by the 50th anniversary of its publication in 2010, according to Publishers Weekly–and has been translated into more than 40 languages.

The film adaptation of the novel, with Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Mary Badham as Scout, opened on Christmas Day of 1962 and was an instant hit. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four, including Best Actor for Peck and Best Screenplay for Horton Foote, who wrote the screenplay for the movie based on the book. Lee became close friends with both of them.

The novel also inspired a generation of lawyers with its portrayal of the gentle, wise Atticus Finch, who defends a black man, Tom Robinson, falsely accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman. Meanwhile, the Finches’ strange neighbor, Boo Radley, who strikes fear in Scout’s and Jem’s hearts, turns out not to be the monster the children expect him to be.

Though Lee denied that the novel was autobiographical, many parallels exist between “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Lee’s own childhood. Her father was also a lawyer who owned the town newspaper.  Comparisons have been made between Lee and Scout, the 9-year-old tomboy protagonist, especially in her friendship with Dill, a character widely considered to have been based on Lee’s own childhood friend, Truman Capote.

When he was a child, the author of “In Cold Blood” often stayed with his cousins, who lived next door to the Lees. Capote and Lee collaborated on the early stages of his novel and remained lifelong friends.

The interior of the Monroe County Courthouse was reconstructed on a movie set in Hollywood for the film’s pivotal courtroom scenes, and local actors bring the book to life each spring at the courthouse itself, where they stage “To Kill a Mockingbird” to sellout crowds.

BB wrote extensively about Lee’s publication last year of a novel that delves back into the lives of the Finch family .o-GREGORY-PECK-facebook

A Chicago court is scheduled to hear a lawsuit asking for Cruz to be removed from the ballot in Illinois.

A judge will hear arguments on Friday from an Illinois voter alleging that Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz is not a “natural-born citizen” and should be disqualified for the party’s nomination.

Lawrence Joyce, an Illinois voter who has objected to Cruz’s placement on the Illinois primary ballot next month, will have his case heard in the Circuit Court of Cook County in Chicago. Joyce’s previous objection, made to the state’s Board of Elections, was dismissed on February 1. He appealed the decision and was granted a hearing for Friday before Judge Maureen Ward Kirby.

Joyce challenges Cruz’s right to be president in the wake of questions put forth by GOP rival Donald Trump about being born in Canada. Cruz maintains he is a natural-born citizen since his mother is American-born.

“What I fear is that Ted Cruz becomes the nominee, come September, Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida will go forward with his threats and probably several other Democrats will file suit to prevent Ted Cruz from being on the ballot,” Joyce, a pharmacist and attorney from Poplar Grove, Ill, told USA TODAY.

Grayson, a Democrat, has told reporters that he will file a lawsuit contesting Cruz’s citizenship if the senator from Texas wins the GOP nomination.

“What Democrats will do at that point is cherry pick which county courthouse they are going to show up in order to file these petitions,” Joyce said. “And at that point, I fear they’ll get a string of victories in the lower courts and the funding for Ted Cruz would dry up, his numbers would plummet in the polls, he may be forced to give up the nomination.”

1000509261001_1313081582001_Bio-Mini-Bio-Writers-Lee-SFThe primary and caucus tomorrow continues to be the top headline grabber.  I liked this Charlie Pierce item describing the relationship between the Trump Candidacy and the late Lee Atwater.  It’s an excellent essay into Atwater’s legacy and life.

What Atwater did was more than inject into Republican politics a modern form of strategic viciousness. With it, he injected an entirely new form of strategic unreality. From that has come the party’s inability to recognize or acknowledge the empirical. By creating an entirely new Dukakis in which his voters could believe, Atwater showed them how to build the bubble and to armor it against reality. The combination of strategic viciousness and strategic unreality has come full flower this year. We have Donald Trump, who is one ring of the circus all to himself, calling his opponents liars and Mexicans rapists, and threatening to sue Ted Cruz, who responds by telling Trump to bring it on, and that he, Cruz, would be happy to depose Trump in discovery personally. And Marco Rubio is telling people that the United States is at the edge of the abyss and that only he can restore it to its former glory. What seemed crude and nasty in 1980 has become sleek and edgeless and as common as milk now.

Both my daughters and I went to public universities where football is so central to the university’s life, fundraising, and culture that everything else seemed underfunded and small by comparison.  As a professor and a student I have experienced things that still make me shake my head. Local investigative reporter Lee Zurik dug some things up in our state’s colleges--not the flagship LSU–that will make your toes curl. This is really disheartening given the drain of funds from university’s missions due to the Jindal-caused financial crisis.

Professors laid off. Classes cut. Campus buildings falling apart, and students left wondering why.

These are not simply the risks to higher education in the future. This has been happening, in slow and painful stages, for the last eight years across the state of Louisiana.

Mary Brocato can attest to it.

“I say that I’m the Angelina Jolie of dogs,” she jokes with us at her home in northwest Louisiana, surrounded by her six dogs.  “They’re a lot of company for me.”

Brocato lived in New Orleans for 20 years before moving to Natchitoches, where she spent 12 years teaching journalism at Northwestern State University. In the past eight years, Brocato has lost both her job and her husband.

Cutbacks at Northwestern State eliminated the journalism program there; the university fired Brocato, a tenured professor, in the spring of 2011.

“The real sin or crime there was those students… who had started and who had been  in the program and got caught in the middle,” Brocato tells us. “And they could not get a degree in journalism.”

The year before Northwestern State cut journalism, chemistry, economics, physics and other programs, the school sent $3,689,522 from its operating budget to athletics. By the time Brocato left, that athletics supplement had increased by almost $300,000.

That’s roughly the same amount as her journalism department’s annual budget; Northwestern State raised its monetary support to athletics while cutting a program that cost about as much money.

“It shows where the emphasis is,” Brocato says, “that there seems to be more emphasis and more accommodation for athletics than there is for academics.  And I don’t like it. I think it’s very dishonest… because I don’t think people understand that.”

Brocato’s professorship paid her $77,600 a year. A year after they let her go, the athletics department paid Mississippi Valley State University nearly the same amount of money, $75,000, to come play them in football.

While the school cut professors and programs, administrators paid $75,000 for what’s called a “game guarantee” – essentially trying to guarantee the school a home win in football.

Such guarantees are a surprise to some of the NSU students we spoke with, on campus in Natchitoches.

“I would cry,” one tells us. “Is that like Information that everybody knows? That should be known by everyone.”

Also in 2012, Northwestern State paid another football opponent, Arkansas-Monticello, $37,500. That comes to roughly $112,000 in game guarantees – for a football team that finished that season with a 4-7 record.

“That’s literally throwing money away,” says the student.

“It blows my mind,” says another co-ed.

I taught at one of these regional universities where the football team is like another extension of the local highschool.  Maintaining athletics programs at the expense of the education mission of the school is really aHarper_Lee_Victim-of-Elder_Abuse disservice to the community and the students.  However, most administrators are convinced the school has to try to support the various programs. I’ve basically seen from the viewpoint of student and professor the major coddling these students get.  It’s really time and resource intense and as a brainy little girl, I did not appreciate being frequently circled by athletes trying to “borrow” my work.

Schools aren’t the only thing still suffering from the Jindal Reign of Terror.  We face the clear possibility that the poorest among us will no longer have access to health care all over the state.  Doctor and nurse training are in jeopardy also.

Several of Louisiana’s privatized safety net hospitals, including University Medical Center in New Orleans and Our Lady of the Lake in Baton Rouge, are considering walking away from their contracts with the state under “best case” budget cut scenarios being debated in the Legislature.

The CEOs of seven hospitals told Senate Finance members Wednesday that the $137.8 million in proposed cuts would either cause steep dropoffs in their ability to deliver care to the poor, or cause them to halt operations altogether. All of the hospitals, which represent every major population center in the state, play a pivotal role in treating the poor and uninsured and are considered a centerpiece of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Medicaid expansion policy. Many of the hospitals educate hundreds of new doctors annually and place them in jobs across the state.

The threat of canceling contracts with the nine safety net hospitals could mean a major setback for Legislators looking to close the state’s $940 million budget gap through a mix of tax increases and spending cuts. If the contracts are canceled, lawmakers risk leaving Baton Rouge after the special session in March to face constituents angry over health care worker layoffs and patients being told they are losing access to care.

“We’re going to have to hit the reset button,” said state Sen. Fred Mills, a Republican who represents Acadiana. “It would be devastating for my area.”

University Medical Center in New Orleans, which is facing a $44 million cut under the best-case scenario, could present the biggest crisis in the entire partnership system if it terminates its agreement. In addition to scattering indigent patients to surrounding emergency rooms that would be flooded with new people seeking care, the hospital is also leasing a brand new facility on Canal Street that represents a $1.1 billion investment for the state.

The hospital also makes millions of dollars in lease payments to the state.

Asked if UMC would be able to continue operating under the $44 million cut, UMC’s CEO, Greg Feirn, told the Senate Finance committee that the funding cut would be “devastating” to nearby university teaching programs. Losing funding would likely mean the system would cancel the contract.

“We can’t risk our balance sheet to fund what’s otherwise a state obligation,” Feirn said. “If we have significant capital investment by way of these payments, or capital expenditures in the future, why would we continue to make those with an uncertain revenue stream?”

We have Jindal, Grover Norquist, and the basic agenda of the Koch Brothers to thank for this.  Here’s the one big reason we don’t bring in funds any more to run our most basic services.  A close look at Kansas shows similar trends too.  Our spineless leges still won’t face up to the damage they’ve done and work to correct it.

Louisiana’s taxes on business are supposed to help government provide its many services.

But the state has paid out $210 million more in tax credits and rebates to corporations so far this year than it has collected in corporate income and franchise taxes, reports the Department of Revenue. That shortfall is contributing to the massive budget gap that the 25-day special legislative session is supposed to address.
Gov. John Bel Edwards is asking lawmakers to raise more money for the state treasury by approving several measures that would close or reduce corporate tax giveaways. Those measures are expected to get their first hearing on Friday before the tax-writing Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee.

No one is claiming that large numbers of corporations are violating the law to avoid paying taxes. What has happened is that state lawmakers over the years — and especially during Gov. Bobby Jindal’s two terms – have been increasingly generous in creating the tax subsidies, at the behest of corporate interests and their lobbyists in Baton Rouge.

A tax break here and a tax break there, over time they have added up, as The Advocate reported in a 2014 series of articles: Tax breaks for six major programs alone cost the state $1.08 billion in 2014, up from $207 million in 2004.

You can read more indepth about how Jindal and his cronies gave our state away in this extremely good article from two years ago. It’s the one referenced above. I wrote about it at the time.

e6e2d166cafebf44493a4755eedfad30I really meant to spent some time today on the incredible criticism of wonks and economists on the Sanders’ policy suggestions but I’m seriously to tired to do it.  I’ll just throw this latest link and we can discuss it down thread.  Those of us joining the criticism have been facing charges of being too close to industry to have any kind of integrity.

Bernie Sanders has a problem with the liberal wonkosphere — or, more precisely, the liberal wonkosphere has a problem with Bernie Sanders.

With every upward tick in Mr. Sanders’s poll numbers in the last few months, there has been a corresponding rise in a very specific type of commentary: Left-of-center policy experts and former staffers for Democratic officials have questioned his plans as unwise, unrealistic or both.

On Wednesday, it took the form of a joint letter from four people who led the White House Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton and Obama administrations. They criticized projections by Gerald Friedman, an economist who has advised Mr. Sanders, of what the candidate’s policy proposals would achieve. Their comments were quickly echoed by the liberal economists Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman. The health care experts Kenneth Thorpe of Emory University and Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution have also been tough on Mr. Sanders’s health care plan.

Behind the critiques: Mr. Sanders’s advisers have often worked off assumptions that their policies would sharply increase economic growth, reduce health care costs and create other salutary effects, making the policies in question look more affordable and desirable than they would with more cautious assumptions.

This is the analysis that really appealed to me as I watched Christie Romer get criticized last night on twitter for not having particularly good analysis about the financial crisis and need for stimulus.  Actually, her number krunching was fine and she had suggested a much bigger stimulus.  It was the politics that silenced her and nothing else.

The wonkosphere vs. Bernie clash is not just a story of center-left versus left-left. It is also a clash between those who have been in the trenches of trying to make public policy for the last seven years versus those who can exist in a kind of theoretical world of imagining what public policy ought to be.

Suppose, for a moment, that you worked as a staff member to a Democratic member of Congress, or perhaps in the Obama administration, or in the world of academics and think tank experts advising both.

Perhaps you worked countless all-nighters on the language of the Affordable Care Act or the Dodd-Frank Act — or maybe you were at an agency trying to write the thousands of pages of regulations to institute those laws, or even an advocacy group trying to nudge all of the above to the left.

You know the compromises that were made back in 2010 and why — uniting 55 or 60 senators with wildly different political temperaments and local politics was really hard. You had to come up with a bill that could get a “Yes” vote from both a centrist like Joe Lieberman or Joe Manchin and, well, a democratic socialist like Bernie Sanders.

You’re convinced that those laws — much hated by both conservatives and the industries they overhauled — made the United States a better place, helping millions more people afford health care and reining in the financial industry. You know the laws aren’t perfect — but also believe that future presidents and Congresses should build on them, much as Social Security and Medicare are now much expanded from their original charters.

Now comes a man who has had to answer only to voters in the most liberal state in the nation, who has never had the responsibility to actually pull together the disparate center-left coalition that is the Democratic Party to enact concrete legislation.

When Mr. Sanders argues for scrapping Obamacare’s intricately constructed mix of private health insurance with public subsidies for a single-payer government program, he’s essentially saying your efforts were useless, hopelessly corrupted by the health insurance industry. Same with Mr. Sanders’s call to break up the largest banks, as opposed to the current approach of just regulating them more intensively.

Then, if you criticize Mr. Sanders’s plans, or question their political feasibility, his supporters assail you as a member of a corrupt establishment.

Anyway, there’s a lot here for you to consider.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today? 


Monday Reads: Ch-ch-ch-changes

3040870-poster-p-2-the-faces-of-bowieGood Afternoon!

The year is young but I’ve already had more lessons in impermanence than normal.  Late last night, I got the news that David Bowie–icon of my youth and as I’m learning the icon of nearly everyone around my age and younger–died after 18 months of living with cancer.   I’ve been listening to Bowie’s new album with its haunting images and melodies.  The accompanying videos aren’t easy to process.  Blackstar felt like it was bringing many things full circle to me. Now I realize that’s what Bowie was about especially after reading a press release from his producer.  I woke this morning to find that Bowie’s final body of work was labelled a “gift to fans”.  Bowie was the consummate artist and public intellectual.  I feel blessed to live in a time when I could see him unfold and that he could provide nuance, context, and soundtracks to my life and loves.

David Bowie’s last release, Lazarus, was ‘parting gift’ for fans in carefully planned finale

The producer of Blackstar confirms David Bowie had planned his poignant final message, and videos and lyrics show how he approached his death.

Like most kids my age, I heard Bowie’s Space Oddity from a small am radio and found it odd but compelling. It wasn’t until my freshman year in college I found myself in love with some one quite obsessed with the newly released Diamond Dogs and the older Ziggy Stardust music.   I loved the Movie “Man who Fell to Earth”.  I saw it several times because it was so fascinating. My favorite album will always be Changes.  So, early Bowie will always be my Bowie. To my daughters, Bowie is the Goblin King.

Bowie threaded together lots of interests of mine.  He had an amazing sense of fashion and the theatric along with with his gift for composing and arranging music.  He didn’t have a great voice but it was 12440557_965940580158088_6917408587215100945_oexpressive and worked well with what he tackled. He also managed to lace things with social commentary and a vision for a freer society as well as a love of science fiction.  Every project of Bowie’s was intelligent and visually arresting. He kept my attention with each one over my entire romance with his body of work of over 40 years.

The singer-songwriter and producer excelled at glam rock, art rock, soul, hard rock, dance pop, punk and electronica during an eclectic 40-plus-year career.

David Bowie died Sunday after a battle with cancer, his rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 69.

“David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief,” read a statement posted on the artist’s official social media accounts.

The influential singer-songwriter and producer excelled at glam rock, art rock, soul, hard rock, dance pop, punk and electronica during his eclectic 40-plus-year career. He just released his 25th album, Blackstar, Jan. 8, which was his birthday.

Bowie’s artistic breakthrough came with 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, an album that fostered the notion of rock star as space alien. Fusing British mod with Japanese kabuki styles and rock with theater, Bowie created the flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust.

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The BBC has a great tab full of all things Bowie including interviews.  You can find many things because Bowie was and did many things. Will Gompertz, BBC Arts editor had this to say about the artist.  (I have to let you know that Merce Cunningham–one of his influences–was my brother-in-law’s Uncle.)  Bowie did continue the avant-garde tradition of the early 20th century and carried it into a future yet to be realized.

David Bowie was the Picasso of pop. He was an innovative, visionary, restless artist: the ultimate ever-changing postmodernist.

Along with the Beatles, Stones and Elvis Presley, Bowie defined what pop music could and should be. He brought art to the pop party, infusing his music and performances with the avant-garde ideas of Merce Cunningham, John Cage and Andy Warhol.

He turned pop in a new direction in 1972 with the introduction of his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Glam rock was the starting point, but Ziggy was much more than an eyeliner-wearing maverick: he was a truly theatrical character that at once harked backed to pre-War European theatre while anticipating 1980s androgyny and today’s discussions around a transgender spectrum.

He was a great singer, songwriter, performer, actor, producer and collaborator. But beyond all that, at the very heart of the matter, David Bowie was quite simply – quite extraordinarily – cool.

I still like to think of him as more than an artist because of his sense of social justice.  He was an important figure in bringing GLBT culture into the mainstream as well as bringing the sexual revolution into every images (3)one’s face.  He also had a political side.  Bowie was all about freedom of expression in all forms.

In June 1987, David Bowie returned to the divided city of Berlin for a concert that some Germans, rightly or wrongly, still view as having helped change history.

Bowie knew West Berlin well. He’d lived there for three years in the late 1970s, sharing an apartment in the Schöneberg neighborhood with Iggy Pop, escaping from the drugs and over-the-top glam of his early career into the city’s expressionism and art pop. It was there that Bowie recorded three of the albums for which, upon his death today from cancer at the age of 69, he is still remembered and cherished.

In 1977, the year Bowie recorded Heroes, the second of his three Berlin albums, East German border guards shot and killed 18-year-old Dietmar Schwietzer as he tried to flee west across the wall; a few months later, 22-year-old Henri Weise drowned trying to cross the Spree River. Heroes was haunted by the Cold War themes of fear and isolation that hung over the city. Its still-famous title track tells a story of two lovers who meet at the wall and try, hopelessly, to find a way to be together.A decade later, when, in 1987, Bowie returned for the Concert for Berlin, a three-day open-air show in front of the Reichstag, he chose “Heroes” for his performance. By then the city’s Soviet-dominated East had become safer, but it had not become more free. Rock music was treated as a destabilizing threat.

But the wall couldn’t keep out radio waves; the West German–operated, US-run radio station Radio in the American Sector was popular in the East, and had secured rare permission from the performing acts to broadcast the show in its entirety. (Record labels typically opposed this in the 1980s, knowing listeners would record the broadcasts, undercutting album sales.) The concert was held near enough to the border that many East Berliners crowded along the wall to listen to the forbidden American and British music wafting across the city, allowing these two halves of the city to hear the same show, divided but together.

I love this tribute to him. It’s a thanks from all the “weird kids” who can count me in their number.  I spent my youth feeling totally out of place and time.  Bowie made being out of images (4)place and time feel special and easier to bear.

I do not believe it is a wild exaggeration to say that there are on this earth today many people who would not be here without David Bowie — either because their parents procreated to his music or because (and this is I believe the more important group) he gave them a reason to stay alive when perhaps they did not want to. He was the patron saint of all my favorite fellow travelers: the freaks, the fags, the dykes, the queers, the weirdos of all stripes, and that most dangerous creature of all: the artist. He was the crown prince(ss) of the unusual. He was so marvelously, spectacularly weird, and he gave so many oddballs, including this one, hope.

So, 2016 is resplendent in lessons for me on surfing Samasara as I’ve mentioned before. While the world processes the news over David Bowie with awe and grief, Louisiana celebrates being a rid of “Governor” Bobby Jindal.  We are officially out of his clutches but not out of the huge mess the man leaves all around us.  Our new Governor was sworn in today and has promised to at least stabilize the budget.

Saying he won’t be a “business-as-usual” leader, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards took his oath of office Monday, promising to stabilize the budget and end cycles of financial crises that threaten public health services and colleges.

As he placed his hand on the family Bible for the swearing-in ceremony, Edwards became the only Democratic governor in the Deep South after an improbable victory.

He follows term-limited Republican Bobby Jindal, inheriting a budget mess that will require him to work with a majority GOP Legislature. Edwards pledged bipartisanship in his approach, which he said needed to end Louisiana’s use of stopgap, short-term financial maneuvers that create new budget troubles annually.

“We can no longer afford to lurch from year to year, cobbling together temporary fixes and expecting to realize permanent sustainability. If we don’t fix the structural budget deficit, we can’t fix any of our other problems,” the new governor said at the inaugural ceremony held on the steps of the Louisiana Capitol.

The Edwards administration estimates Louisiana faces a shortfall of up to $750 million in the state’s $25 billion budget for the remaining six months of the current fiscal year and a gap more than twice that amount for next year.

While he talked of working across party lines, however, Edwards also outlined a decidedly Democratic agenda.

He said he will ask lawmakers to increase the minimum wage, pass a new equal pay law and work to make college more affordable, to combat poverty in Louisiana. And he said he’ll start the process for expanding Medicaid on Tuesday, as allowed under the federal health care law.

“Your tax dollars should not be going to one of the 30 other states that have expanded Medicaid when we are one of the states that expansion will help the most,” he said.

But the governor called addressing the financial mess his top priority, saying he’ll seek to make budget cuts and “rework the failed system of tax incentives, credits and rebates, which bleed the state’s revenue and too often leave little to show for the spending.”

images (5)I’m not sure all our idiot Republicans are going to go along with this but hopefully, enough will that we can start digging out.

So, I’m really late today and I’m anxiously awaiting how you’re processing the world without David Bowie.  

I’m releasing it all to the Greater Ethos for the moment.

Be well and love yourself and others.  We really don’t have as much time as we think.


Monday Reads

165623_600Hello Monday and Sky Dancers!!!

I’m beginning to think we should offer free psychotropics and mental health screenings for folks voting Republican these days. You might consider putting a candy bowl of them out for your crazy uncle and cousins still voting Republican as a holiday treat.  Tolerance and displays of so much delusion should definitely be on the radars of what’s left of our mental health systems.  It’s hard to know where to start but the fact that Donald Trump is the leading presidential candidate and basically doing it by taking pages and policies out of Hitler’s playbook is one example worthy of discussion.

However, let me start locally with Slum Dog Governor Piyush Jindal who has decided he needs to take a “victory lap” around the state before he fades into oblivion.  You might think I’m kidding on this so I’m going to include some quotes from the state’s major newspaper for good measure because  I am not kidding.  He’s finally retreated  from the cornfields of Iowa. We’re expecting a huge budget deficit mid term thanks to his stupid accounting tricks and tax giveaways.  A Blue Dog Democrat–John Bel Edwards–supported by many Republicans is set to follow him into the statehouse.

Jindal wants to travel the state for some local accolades.  Good luck with that Governor!  All but about 20% of us can’t stand the sight or sound of you.

With only weeks remaining in office, Gov. Bobby Jindal has returned home to try to shore up his Louisiana legacy after his presidential campaign ended unsurprisingly with him headed to a new home in Baton Rouge, rather than the White House.

A statewide tour and press releases touting his accomplishments might be too little too late to win kind thoughts from the folks in Louisiana, where his approval ratings have dropped to record lows.

The term-limited Republican is seeking to exit the governor’s mansion in January with Louisiana residents remembering his economic development wins and education overhaul, rather than prevailing criticisms that he put his national ambitions over the state’s needs.

Jindal dismissed such criticisms in the press conference he held in Baton Rouge, a post mortem of sorts, after scrapping his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

“We’ve continued to work every single day that I’ve been governor to work hard to move our state forward. I’m proud of the result,” he said. He added: “I think that I will be leaving our state better off than we were eight years ago.”

Yes indeed!  Well, about that leaving the state better that it was eight years ago part …

Now that his campaign is officially dead, however, it’s worth highlighting Jindal’s record as governor of Louisiana. This is what the man did. This is what he accomplished. This is what he leaves behind. And this what he should be remembered for.

  1. He entered office with an $865 million surplus and he will exit with a $1.6 billion deficit.
  2. Funding for higher education has been cut by more than 80 percent, and the entire system is experiencing a fiscal crisis.
  3. Funding for youth services has been cut by 40 percent.
  4. Funding for Veterans Affairs programs has been cut by 69 percent.
  5. The Department of Environmental Quality has been cut by 96 percent (in a state with a rapidly eroding coastline).
  6. He rejected a Medicaid expansion in order to protest Obamacare, and thousands of low-income Louisianans remain without health care as a result.
  7. Louisiana has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation; the highest diabetes-related death rate; the highest rate of death from breast cancer; the third highest rate of cancers deaths overall; and the eighth highest rate of teenage pregnancy.
  8. He rejected $300 million of federal stimulus money (one his favorite talking points at the time), despite Louisiana’s underfunded and crumbling infrastructure.
  9. He issued a symbolic executive order that defended discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom.”
  10. He sold out his state to protect BP against legitimate lawsuits. (Side note: Jindal’s brother is a lawyer for the firm representing BP).
  11. He held a massive “prayer rally” on the state’s flagship campus, a rally that promoted his presidential campaign and distributed materials blaming gay people for hurricanes and natural disasters.
  12. He signed the Louisiana Science Education Act, which allowed creationism to be taught in science courses at public schools.

There are countless other examples of Jindal’s failures, but this list is fairly illustrative of his career as Governor of Louisiana. This is what he did in order to pitch himself as a fiscally responsible, small government conservative in GOP primary states. It explains why 70 percent of Louisianans now disapprove of the job he has done. And it explains why he won’t be missed and why the Republican gubernatorial candidate following him, David Vitter, has tried unsuccessfully to run away from Jindal’s record.

The stench of Jindal’s administration will linger for years in Louisiana, and everyone here knows it. His presidential campaign was and is a punchline, but his governorship was a moral and political failure, and a tragedy for thousands of Louisianans. If he’s ever elected again for public office, I can assure you it won’t be as a Louisianan.

I’d say Sean Illing’s list is a pretty decent capsule of the wreckage.  I’d have to add that you can put many a sad face on how bad life has gotten with Jindal administration including mine.bobby_Jindal_No_Go_Zone_ColorWEB

We have a kinda sorta Democrat now whose first act was to appoint the former Republican State Senator responsible for the Creationism in public schools disguised as science to be his chief of staff.  His transition team is remarkably full of Republicans.  However, he still says that the Medicaid expansion is priority one and it could be one of the reasons why Nevers got the job.   I’m trying to be optimistic here.  You can hold my hand if you want to help.

“The expansion of health care coverage for working families is among the highest priorities. It’s something I’ve been working on for three years, and I never once during this campaign shied away from that particular issue,” Edwards said during a news conference with reporters in New Orleans. “So we are going to expand the Medicaid program in Louisiana. We’re going to do it as soon as we possibly can and as responsibly as we possibly can.”

The strongest signal yet of Edwards’ commitment to Medicaid expansion is his appointment of state Sen. Ben Nevers to be his chief of staff. Nevers has been one of the foremost advocates of Medicaid expansion in the Legislature, at times offering tearful testimony as he pleaded with colleagues to expand the federal program to cover people who aren’t paid enough to purchase their own insurance.

Asked about the significance of Medicaid expansion to the working poor, Nevers said, “it means life or death to many people across this state.”

“There are over 242,000 people without medical insurance in this state who go to work everyday; who have been dependable employees,” Nevers said. “It would mean the opportunity for them to have insurance for them and their families. I can tell you that there’s many people across this state who’ve suffered tremendously because we’ve refused to expand Medicaid.”

When asked what it means to him personally, Nevers said, “It means a tremendous amount to me.

“As you know, I filed bills the last three years to expand Medicaid and could not get them out of the Senate or the House,” Nevers said. “It’s been a very frustrating experience because I know we’re sending dollars to Washington D.C. that we refuse to take back in our own state. Now that’s just ludicrous.”

This state is among the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick.  Things certainly could not get much worse.

People here and all around the country certainly do not trust their governments.  Is this the real legacy of Reagan’s dementia and eagerness to poor shame?  cjones11072015

A year ahead of the presidential election, the American public is deeply cynical about government, politics and the nation’s elected leaders in a way that has become quite familiar.

Currently, just 19% say they can trust the government always or most of the time,among the lowest levels in the past half-century. Only 20% would describe government programs as being well-run. And elected officials are held in such low regard that 55% of the public says “ordinary Americans” would do a better job of solving national problems.

Yet at the same time, most Americans have a lengthy to-do list for this object of their frustration: Majorities want the federal government to have a major role in addressing issues ranging from terrorism and disaster response to education and the environment.

And most Americans like the way the federal government handles many of these same issues, though they are broadly critical of its handling of others – especially poverty and immigration.

A new national survey by Pew Research Center, based on more than 6,000 interviews conducted between August 27 and October 4, 2015, finds that public attitudes about government and politics defy easy categorization. The study builds upon previous reports about the government’s role and performance in 2010 and 1998. This report was made possible by The Pew Charitable Trusts, which received support for the survey from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

The partisan divide over the size and scope of government remains as wide as ever: Support for smaller government endures as a Republican touchstone. Fully 80% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they prefer a smaller government with fewer services, compared with just 31% of Democrats and Democratic leaners.

Yet both Republicans and Democrats favor significant government involvement on an array of specific issues. Among the public overall, majorities say the federal government should have a major role in dealing with 12 of 13 issues included in the survey, all except advancing space exploration.

There is bipartisan agreement that the federal government should play a major role in dealing with terrorism, natural disasters, food and medicine safety, and roads and infrastructure. And while the presidential campaign has exposed sharp partisan divisions over immigration policy, large majorities of both Republicans (85%) and Democrats (80%) say the government should have a major role in managing the immigration system.
But the partisan differences over government’s appropriate role are revealing – with the widest gaps on several issues relating to the social safety net.

165965_600 (1)That last bit certainly shows up in the Trumpettes and his followers who don’t appear to understand that offering up the same policies as Hitler isn’t a good thing.

Only about a third of Republicans and Republican leaners see a major role for the federal government in helping people get out of poverty (36%) and ensuring access to health care (34%), by far the lowest percentages for any of the 13 issues tested. Fully 72% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say the government should have a major role in helping people out of poverty, and 83% say it should play a major role in ensuring access to health care.

Moreover, while majorities of Republicans favor a major government role in ensuring a basic income for people 65 and older (59%), protecting the environment (58%) and ensuring access to high-quality education (55%), much larger shares of Democrats – 80% or more in each case – favor a large government role.

So what explains the Republican base’s fascination with some one touring the country touting a book written on the Constitution that believes the Constitution was written by Thomas Jefferson? Is this the result of whackadoo Texans controlling the nation’s textbook content or deliberate, delusional ignorance?

It’s a common misconception that Thomas Jefferson participated in drafting the U.S. Constitution in 1787. But as Republican presidential candidate and retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson points out in his latest book, “A More Perfect Union,” Jefferson was “missing in action,” serving in Paris as minister to France.

That did not stop Carson from praising Jefferson in a C-Span interview Sunday as one of the most impressive of the Founding Fathers because he “tried to craft our Constitution in a way that it would control peoples’ natural tendencies and control the natural growth of the government.”

It’s not the first time Carson has abused Jefferson’s history. “Thomas Jefferson himself said, ‘Gun control works great for the people who are law-abiding citizens and it does nothing for the criminals, and all it does is put the people at risk,’ ” he told Fox’s Neil Cavuto after the shootings at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., in  early October. Jefferson never said that.

In his book, Carson repeated a version of the same statement, noting what he called “Thomas Jefferson’s warning: ‘Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. … Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather than encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

The supposed Jefferson comment on gun control is listed among many “spurious” quotations by the Monticello Web site. “This is not something Jefferson wrote,” say the researchers at Monticello, but rather comes from a passage he included in his “Legal Commonplace Book.” The passage, they note, was written by Cesare Beccaria in his “Essay on Crimes and Punishments” and was copied by Jefferson.

Oddly, Carson’s footnote to the quote duly notes that it comes from Beccaria and not Jefferson.

Republican obsession with all things not true but that play into their views of the world is on full display in the Trump poll numbers.  The more outrageously untrue and appalling things that spew out of Trump’s Cartoon_18.14mouth yields a bump up in the polls.  I mean, what kind’ve person could get a huge number of the Jewish population volunteering to register as Muslims just to express their outrage at the suggestion we start a database of the nation’s followers of Islam.  Trump’s latest outrages include the huge lie that thousands of Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks.    This earned him another Pinnochio from WAPO’s fact checkers and the NYC police.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You raised some eyebrows yesterday with comments you made at your latest rally. I want to show them, relating to 9/11.

VIDEO CLIP OF DONALD TRUMP, IN WHICH HE SAYS: “Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “You know, the police say that didn’t happen and all those rumors have been on the Internet for some time. So did you misspeak yesterday?”

TRUMP: “It did happen. I saw it.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “You saw that…”

TRUMP: It was on television. I saw it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: “…with your own eyes?”

TRUMP: “George, it did happen.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “Police say it didn’t happen.”

TRUMP: “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don’t like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “As I said, the police have said it didn’t happen.”

— Exchange on ABC’s “This Week,” Nov. 22, 2015

This exchange demonstrates the folly of trying to fact-check Donald Trump. Even when confronted with contrary information — “police say it didn’t happen” — he insists that with his own eyes he saw “thousands and thousands” of cheering Arabs in New Jersey celebrating as the World Trade Center collapsed during the Sept. 11 attacks.

Trump has already earned more Four-Pinocchio ratings than any other candidate this year. He is about to earn another one.

The Jersey City Mayor says the “account is absurd” too. 

He also is race baiting and just bragged about his audience beating up a Black Lives Matter protester.  He upped the ante by tweeting the right wing trope that blacks are murdering blacks with an appalling racist graphic attached.  He still has yet to suggest any thing policy related. He seems perfectly happy to just spew vitriol.  That is also what the base seems to love.  His tweet about black murder rates is definitely creating consternation from every one but the Republican base.

Donald Trump is taking heat on social media for a Sunday afternoon tweet of statistics purporting to show that the vast majority of murdered black people in the U.S. are killed by other black people.

The tweet was apparently Trump’s response to a Twitter thread about support from white supremacists for the GOP front-runner.

It also comes the day after a Black Lives Matter protester said he was physically and verbally assaulted at a Trump rally.

The image Trump posted includes a list of “USA Crime Statistics ~ 2015.” The two that are highlighted are “Blacks Killed by Police ~~ 1%” and “Blacks Killed by Blacks ~~ 97%.”

A drawing of a black man wielding a sideways pistol and wearing army pants, military boots and a bandana and mask accompanies the statistics, which are sourced to the “Crime Statistics Bureau” in San Francisco.

The message immediately took off on the social media platform, with thousands of people retweeting it and liking it within an hour. But many also lashed out angrily against the real estate mogul, calling Trump a racist and questioning the veracity of the stats.

Indeed, an initial search to confirm the numbers couldn’t turn up a “Crime Statistic Bureau” in San Francisco.

However, the percentages do, in some ways, align with Department of Justice (DOJ) findings from several years ago. A DOJ study released in 2011 reported that 93 percent of black homicides were committed by other blacks between 1980 and 2008.

In 2014, that figure was roughly 90 percent in 2014, according to the latest DOJ numbers.

The category tweeted out by Trump that doesn’t fit with DOJ statistics is “Whites Killed by Whites,” which Trump’s tweet indicated was 16 percent.

According to the department’s 2011 report, 84 percent of white homicides were committed by whites between 1980 and 2008. That number was 82 percent in 2014.

Trump has been roundly bashed during his presidential campaign for disparaging comments made about Mexican immigrants, Syrian refugees, Muslims and black people.

We’ve written a lot about the alternative reality were Republicans and their elected officials and candidates reside.  I’ve noticed the disconnect is getting worse on many levels.  But, again, look at Louisiana.  People down here got fed up with it.  Maybe the rest of the places that have Republican governors that are beyond delusional–Kansas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan,Indiana etc.–will wake up to what’s actually going on.  But then again, take Kentucky.

Please.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: The Barbed Wire Fence Treatment

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

The one thing Martin O’Malley said Saturday night that really stayed with me was his assertion that the symbol of the United States is not the barbed wire fence but the Statue of Liberty.  We’re having our principles and values tested and many of our elected leaders are coming up short.  This includes my absentee Governor Bobby “the Jingoist” Jindal and the Governor of Texas both who profess to belong to a religion where the guru clearly states this:

“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’…

Matthew 25:42

I am not one to quote folks’ imaginary friends.  But, this is ridiculous.  You can’t profess that religion and then totally ignore the overwhelming message of its primary teacher which is basically to love one another and help the least among us.
Unlike the self aggrandizing election propaganda pushed by the likes of David “Spy Master and professional John” Vitter and Bobby Jindal (alleged christians), there have not been 10,000 Syrian refuges sent to Louisiana.  There have been 14 relocated to the state.  Jindal and others want our doors slammed shut to the refugees fleeing an enemy of our own creation.

A day after Gov. Bobby Jindal sent a letter to the White House demanding to hear from President Barack Obama the number of Syrian refugees who have been allowed into Louisiana, the State Department confirmed the number this year was 14.

“As Governor of Louisiana, I demand information about the Syrian refugees being placed in Louisiana in hopes that the night of horror in Paris is not duplicated here,” Jindal wrote in his letter Saturday.

Jindal’s letter came at the end of a day in which multiple blogs reporting that 10,000 Syrian refugees had already made their way to New Orleans went viral. Many of the blogs were published earlier this month but appeared to gain new life following Friday’s terror attacks in Paris.

Seven Syrian refugees have been resettled in Kenner, while six have been placed in New Orleans with one placed in Baton Rouge, a State Department spokesperson said Sunday in response to a request for the numbers from WWL-TV.

The blogs that cited the figure of 10,000 refugees also include an image, purportedly of Syrian men in New Orleans, which actually is a photograph of migrants protesting outside of a train station in Budapest, Hungary, on Sept. 3.

While the Obama administration has announced plans to resettle 10,000 Syrian refuges in the United States in 2016, the State Department on Sunday said those people will be spread across the country, not in one area.

“We do not have projections on how many Syrians will be resettled in each state. However, those allocations are made in close collaboration with the nongovernmental organizations that resettle refugees as well as with state and local government officials,” the State Department said in a statement.

Indeed, the State Department already has a rigorous background check and process in place to assure that our country is safe and that we can welcome refugees and folks that want to become part of the United States.  Here’s a transcript of a briefing on the process.  You can read more to find more about the programs in each of the countries generally impacted by the current refugee crisis.Emma_Lazarus_plaque

So we refer to the program as the USRAP, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, so if I use that acronym that’s what that means. So the USRAP is an interagency process that includes three primary U.S. Government agencies. That’s us, the Department of State, as the primary lead agency; the Department of Homeland Security, specifically U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; and the Department of Health and Human Services, their Office of Refugee Resettlement.

So this USRAP involves those three government agencies as well as international organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, a number of nongovernmental organizations – these we normally refer to as resettlement agencies in the United States – as well as U.S. states, cities, private citizens, churches and mosques, and community groups. So it’s a lot of people involved, big process, fairly standard procedures.

So there are a number of processing requirements within the USRAP that cannot be waived, such as an in-person DHS interview, security checks, and a medical exam, including a TB test. And this is one way – one of the many ways in which our Refugee Resettlement Program differs from a lot of other countries’ resettlement programs. A lot of other countries can do things like waive an in-person interview. They can take a case based on dossier. They do very few security checks in some cases. Those are not options that are available to us. So because of these very strict requirements that we have and because at any given time we’re processing cases in 70 or more locations worldwide with a limited amount of resources, it currently takes anywhere from 18 to 24 months or even longer to process a case from referral or application to arrival in the United States.

And I want to focus on that for just a second and repeat that, because it’s an important point. If we had a much smaller case load – let’s say if we processed 5,000 or 10,000 or even 20,000 people a year, and if we only processed in capitals where we have a physical presence, like Amman or Nairobi – processing times would be much shorter. But because we accept referrals from UNHCR for refugees in remote locations and camps all over the world – places like eastern Chad and western Tanzania that are pretty difficult to get to – we can’t send our staff up to interview a case as soon as we have one referral or ten referrals or even a hundred referrals. We’re constantly looking for a critical mass of cases before we go and start processing those cases.

The USRAP is a labor-intensive program. Between the three government agencies, we spent last year a little bit more than $1.1 billion, so it is a labor-intensive and fairly resource-intensive program.

So I’m going to go over the main steps on the overseas processing side first. And the first important step in getting access to the USRAP is either a referral or an application. The vast majority of our referrals come from UNHCR, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, also known as the UN Refugee Agency. U.S. embassies and certain NGOs are also qualified to refer cases to us, but we get very few from those two sources. About 75 percent of our referrals to the program come from UNHCR. Another 25 percent of the program – so about a quarter of the program – a quarter of our applicants gain access through direct applications. And so some of you are probably familiar with some of these direct application programs.

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

Statue-of-liberty

At least four Republican governors are moving to block Syrian refugees from entering their states after Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris that killed more than 125 people and wounded hundreds more.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday joined Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in refusing to accept refugees from Syria. “A Syrian ‘refugee’ appears to have been part of the Paris terror attack,” Abbott wrote in a letter informing President Barack Obama of his plans not to allow Syrian refugees into Texas. “American humanitarian compassion could be exploited to expose Americans to similar deadly danger.”

Abbott argued that neither the president nor any federal official could guarantee the refugees wouldn’t be part of any terrorist activity. “As such, opening our door to them irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans to unacceptable peril,” he wrote.

Despite Friday’s deadly attacks, the White House has said Obama still plans to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016.

Hutchinson, Bentley and Snyder have also announced their intentions to halt Syrian refugees from entering their states, with the latter two stating their opposition Sunday.

I cannot be happier that my governor is on his way to oblivion given this executive order. He is a small minded, mean little man who is full of self loathing and hypocrisy.    It also looks like Senator David Vitter is about to join him in anonymity and no more jobs based on tax payer dollars.  These men can’t even self govern their demons let alone the interests of other people.

Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order Monday (Nov. 16) to prevent Syrian refugees from being resettled in Louisiana.

In issuing the order, Jindal referenced last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 people and injured hundreds more. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Jindal said the introduction of Syrian refugees into the U.S. without “proper prior screening and follow-up monitoring could result in a threat to the citizens and property of this state.”

He cited a section of the Louisiana Constitution that says “during times of emergency… the governor has emergency powers to protect the citizens and property of the state of Louisiana.”

Jindal also sent a letter to the Obama administration on Saturday demanding information about the refugees being placed in Louisiana.

The Governors of Alabama and Michigan joined in the lunacy. Way to let the terrorists win dudes!!!!  This is mostly symbolic which makes it even more shameful.

Legally, the states have limited power to control the flow of foreigners into their states; that authority is reserved largely to the federal government under the Constitution.

936365-statue-liberty_14196_600x450This is especially shameful because we’ve found out that the passport of a supposed Syrian refugee involved in the Paris Massacre was in fact, a false flag operation.  It was a falsified document.  The people who staged the Paris attacks are primarily native French and Belgians.  They were not Syrian refugees.

As the dust settles on the Paris attacks, intelligence agencies are scrambling to gather information on the reported attackers. Passports collected on-scene have helped identify the nationalities of a few of the attackers, most of whom are from the European Union. A Syrian passport has also been found, though authorities have warned it could be fake.

French authorities believe that as many as 20 people were involved in planning the attack, claimed by ISIS (also known as ISIL or the Islamic State). Most of the released information indicates that the attackers were born and raised either in France or Belgium. Omar Ismail Mostefai (1) and Salah Abdeslam (2) — who is still at large — are the two names to be officially released so far. Mostefai, who detonated himself in a suicide attack on Friday, was a French national who grew up south of Paris while Abdeslam was born and lived in Brussels.

The passport of an Egyptian national was also found.  That man was a victim of the attacks and is critically injured.

Additionally, it shows a shameful lack of understanding of ISIS which is a radical Sunni element that is against ANYONE that’s against its interpretation of Islam.  The primary military battles right now are with other ethnic Muslims, notably the Kurdish.   ISIS has its own strategy and agenda.  It is an apocalyptic cult–much like that of many fundamentalist christian sects in our country–with the goal of establishing a path to the end times and a theocracy based on its interpretation of Muslim theology. It’s at war with every one that’s not ISIS.  It has not singled out the west or its culture which is why it also did suicide attacks in Lebanon in close proximity to the Paris attacks.  All of the Republican candidates for President are terribly ill-informed when it comes to affairs of state as is their base.

But ISIS isn’t a civilization. In parts of Iraq and Syria, it’s a self-declared, though unrecognized, state. Elsewhere, it’s a network of terrorist groups linked by a common ideology. “Civilizations” are cultural groupings. In calling the Paris attack a “clash of civilizations,” Rubio evoked Samuel Huntington’s famed 1993Foreign Affairs essay of the same name. In that essay, Huntington defined “civilization” as “the broadest level of cultural identity people have.” And he suggested that the world contains “seven or eight” major ones: “Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African.”

The most straightforward way to interpret Rubio’s statement, therefore, is that the civilizational “they” that attacked Paris is Islam. Among the grassroots conservatives Rubio is wooing in his campaign for president, that’s a popular view. After all, recent polling in states like Iowa and North Carolina suggests that upwards of one-third of Republicans would like to make Islam illegal in the United States.

Ben Carson and Donald Trump have indulged that sentiment crudely. Rubio, typically, is doing so more subtly. But it’s worth noting how fundamentally his analysis diverges from that of both of America’s post-9/11 presidents. George W. Bush said America was at war with an ideology that had “hijacked Islam” in the same way Nazism had hijacked Germany or communism had hijacked Russia. Barack Obama has argued that even this assessment gives violent jihadists a stature they don’t deserve. Rubio, by contrast, is going far beyond Bush. And he’s doing exactly what the Islamic State wants: He’s equating ISIS with Islam itself.

These Republican governors are playing into ISIS’ hand.  They want the west to look bad to Muslims all over the world.  They want us all characterized as ‘Crusaders’ and not loving humanitarians capable of discerning evil from ordinary people.   Europe has its own set of right wing xenophobes which parrot similar tropes.statue-of-liberty-sunset

The Islamic State’s strategy is to polarize Western society — to “destroy the grayzone,” as it says in its publications. The group hopes frequent, devastating attacks in its name will provoke overreactions by European governments against innocent Muslims, thereby alienating and radicalizing Muslim communities throughout the continent. The atrocities in Paris are only the most recent instances of this accelerating campaign. Since January, European citizens fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have provided online and material support to lethal operations in Paris,Copenhagen and near Lyon, France, as well as attempted attacks in London,Barcelona and near Brussels. Islamic State fighters are likely responsible fordestroying the Russian airliner over the Sinai. These attacks are not random, nor are they aimed primarily at affecting Western policy in the Middle East. They are, rather, part of a militarily capable organization’s campaign to mobilize extremist actors already in Europe and to recruit new ones.

The strategy is explicit. The Islamic State explained after the January attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine that such attacks “compel the Crusaders to actively destroy the grayzone themselves. . . . Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one of two choices, they either apostatize . . . or they [emigrate] to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution from the Crusader governments and citizens.” The group calculates that a small number of attackers can profoundly shift the way that European society views its 44 million Muslim members and, as a result, the way European Muslims view themselves. Through this provocation, it seeks to set conditions for an apocalyptic war with the West.

Unfortunately, elements of European society are reacting as the Islamic State desires. Far-right parties have gained strength in many European countries. France’s National Front is expected to dominate local elections in northern France this winter; on Saturday, Marine Le Pen, its leader, declared “those who maintain links with Islamism” to be “France’s enemies.” The Danish People’s Party gained 21 percent of the vote in national elections in June on a nationalist, anti-Islamic platform. The anti-foreigner Sweden Democrats is steadily growing in popularity.

I remember taking American History in Junior High School. We were beginning to delve into World War 2 in a much more nuanced way.  Since I eventually became a history major, I was fascinated by all aspects of history including our culpability in genocides and injustice.  I was horrified to find out that we turned away many European Jewish immigrants prior to the NAZI take over.  That, and our internment of Japanese citizens was my first experience at critically looking at our country’s modern history of White Christian Male privilege. I discovered the genocide of indigenous people and the horrors of slavery earlier but had thought we’d evolved with the Civil Rights Era.

  I do not want our children to ask us why we did not act to save innocents from evil. Being Jewish in German-occupied Europe was a death sentence for those folks. We were complicit.   We should not be complicit in this again because we can do something.

Just as my mind knows the faces of Jewish friends who lost family in Germany, I know Syrians with family dead, dying, and trying to escape the horror there. I condemn strongly the hatred, bigotry, and ignorance of any one playing into the hands of ISIS.  This is not the Iron Age.  This is not the Dark Ages.  American is better than people like David Vitter, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio and the likes. Notice that TWO of these folks are the children of immigrants too!   What if we had closed our doors on them because they were Catholic? They were dark skinned and from India?  How dare they redefine our country?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

H/T to Winter Claire Randall for the Matthew quote and to David Bernstein for the State Department link.


Friday Reads: Walking Dead Edition

halloween with esther williams
Happy Friday! It’s still October!

I’m going to binge on all things Halloween for awhile because I refuse to acknowledge the onslaught of National Crass Consumerism Season which overtakes all Autumn Holidays. Tis the season for me refusing to buy anything but the basics because I don’t want to encourage the takeover of all things autumnal.

The campaign trail continues to heat up and there’s been a death watch put out for two republican candidates.  The first one is my disastrous Governor Bobby Jindal.  The second one is for the abysmally dull Jeb Bush. The Republican field is narrowing down to people that are really unfit to govern at all and all Republican establishment eyes appear to be turning to dim, inexperienced, and very flip floppy Marco Rubio.  But, let’s go wallow in the Bobby Jindal death knell awhile.

The Louisiana governor’s campaign reported having just $260,000 to spend at the end of September after raising a little over half a million dollars and spending significantly more than that in the third quarter. It’s a paltry sum compared to his rivals, and if Jindal can’t jumpstart his White House bid soon, he could be headed the way of Rick Perry and Scott Walker, who ended their campaigns when their coffers ran dry.

Jindal’s been such a disaster for Louisiana it appears that a few Democrats actually have a chance in statewide elections including the race against David Vitter for Governor.  Sean Illing refers to this as our “nasty Bobby Jindal hangover”.   Could this be the year that Blue Dog Democrats make a come back? sandra Dee Halloween

The GOP is in serious trouble as a national political party. Demographic shifts, a crisis-driven conservative media and an ungovernable congressional caucus have tarnished the Republican brand. Increasingly, the GOP’s base is confined to the south and to pockets of rural America. But even in a conservative state like Louisiana, Republicans are being challenged by Democratic candidates. While it’s unlikely that Louisiana becomes a blue state anytime soon, there are some compelling indicators that the political winds are shifting.

First, you have the emerging gubernatorial race, which is far more competitive than many thought possible. The Democratic candidate, John Bel Edwards, is now leadingthe former Republican frontrunner, David Vitter, by a substantial margin. “

It’s almost laboratory conditions in Louisiana for Democrats,” James Carville told Salon in an exclusive interview. “You have a horrifically unpopular incumbent governor [Bobby Jindal] and the likely Republican survivor [Vitter] is one of the most flawed candidates in American politics.”

Against the backdrop of Jindal’s tenure (which began with an $865 million surplus and ended with a $1.6 billion budget deficit) and the GOP’s broader image problem, things set up perfectly for Louisiana Democrats.

In addition to the gubernatorial race, there is also the campaign for Louisiana Secretary of State. The Democratic candidate is Chris Tyson, a young progressive who many, including Carville, believe has a bright future in national politics – although Tyson himself insists his “immediate concern is winning this election.” A Baton Rouge native, Tyson would be the first African-American elected statewide in Louisiana since Reconstruction. As yet there is very little polling data, but that which exists shows the race extremely tight.

That the race is close at all is remarkable. Tyson’s Republican opponent, incumbent Tom Schedler, was thought unbeatable by most observers of Louisiana’s politics, but that’s no longer the case.

Carville, who follows Louisiana politics as closely as anyone, expected a competitive race. The Republican Party is reeling nationally, he noted, and “Chris is a once in a generation candidate…He’s a progressive Democrat in Louisiana, but he’s also the son of a federal judge, a former small business owner, a law professor, a community activist and a graduate of Howard, Harvard and Georgetown University.” Tyson may not win this election, Carville added, but “it’ll be interesting to watch because it’s a good barometer of what’s possible in this political climate…The deck couldn’t be stacked more in the Democrats’ favor.”

I watched the debate between the four candidates running for govenor and basically wanted to sell the kathouse and head for the safety of a blue state.  However, none of them could ever be as worse for the state than Jindal. At least their open to addressing some of the problems we have in the state with something other than naked ambition in mind.  So, Jindal is building a huge house in Baton Rouge.  We won’t be completely rid of him but it seems he’s gone from public life shortly.

uploads-20131017T1612Z_d9c3d8a16e07853f46edd6951c40a14f-5x65Jeb Bush is tightening his campaign belt.  Yesterday, many in the media put him on the Death Watch list.

Jeb Bush’s campaign slashed hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries over the last three months as the struggling candidate’s fundraising machine slowed to a more middling pace, new campaign-finance reports indicate.

No longer able to raise unlimited sums with his super PAC, Bush hauled in $13.4 million in the third quarter of the year for his campaign. That’s more than all of his GOP rivals except Ben Carson. But Bush also spent more than many of them, leaving him with about as much money in the bank as Marco Rubio. Ted Cruz has more.

Bush’s campaign once saw its size and staff as its strength. But the newly released campaign-finance reports indicate it could be a liability if fundraising slacks further.

More than 60 Bush staffers might have had their salaries cut or their positions changed to reduce their income, compared with the second quarter of the year when Bush announced his candidacy, the campaign-finance reports show. The campaign did not want to discuss the numbers. But the pay cuts, depending on whether the salaries are divided on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, could have saved the campaign anywhere from $450,000 to nearly $900,000 per quarter, according to a POLITICO analysis of the campaign’s payroll. The cuts have ranged from the small for some staffers ($12 a week) to large reductions for four of the top campaign chiefs who each took a $75,000 pay cut.

vintage-halloween-pinup-gloria-saundersYouGov describes Bush’s campaign as “faltering”. 

He was once the clear frontrunner for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination.  Then, while candidates like Donald Trump emerged, he was still seen by many Republicans as the likely nominee.  But now former Florida Governor Jeb Bush runs behind Trump, neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.  Bush is just about tied with Texas Senator Ted Cruz and businesswomen Carly Fiorina in the latestEconomist/YouGov Poll.

Red State has officially put him on Death Watch.  (Not linking to it.  Won’t do it.  Wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture.)

There is also some talk about no one liking Chris Christie. This includes his home state. He should be on death watch too except no one cares about him any more.

Meanwhile, the Biden Will-he-or-Won’t-he? obsession of the national media continues.

Former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, one of Biden’s closest political advisers, said Biden would soon make a decision about whether to enter the race. In an email obtained by The Associated Press, Kaufman asked former staffers to stay in close contact and said Biden would need their help immediately if he enters the race.

“If he runs, he will run because of his burning conviction that we need to fundamentally change the balance in our economy and the political structure to restore the ability of the middle class to get ahead,” Kaufman said.

Calls within the Democratic Party for Biden to run have been growing for months, fueled largely by concerns that front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign was faltering under the weight of an email scandal and declining popularity. But Clinton’s commanding performance Tuesday in the first Democratic debate, coupled with Biden’s seemingly endless delays in making a decision, have put a damper on the speculation in recent days, with top Democratic leaders questioning whether it’s too late for Biden.

Kaufman’s letter to former Biden aides marked an attempt by the vice president to signal he’s still very much considering running and shouldn’t be written off. It also served to reinforce the notion that Clinton isn’t the only Democrat who could run in part on a promise to lock in policies that Obama has advanced during his two terms.

“He believes we must win this election,” Kaufman said. “Everything he and the president have worked for — and care about — is at stake.”

Clinton and her top rival in the race, Sen. Bernie Sanders, have been campaigning for months and have raised tens of millions of dollars, giving them a huge head start that would make it tough for Biden to mount a viable challenge. The first filing deadlines in some states are just weeks away and Biden currently has no operation in key states. Alluding to those concerns, Kaufman said Biden was “aware of the practical demands of making a final decision soon.”

Has any one ever seen a whackier campaign season or is it just me?  So, establishment Republican donors appear to be stumped or Trumped, depending how you wanna look at it.  I’m thinking that SuperPacs mayfcc65b1919f1a271e4dbf7073a021211 actually have a huge effect in the race because the traditional campaigns don’t seem to be flush with cash right now.

“You could have this big super PAC, but if you have limited momentum and limited money to keep the campaign going, it’s like the guy at the top of Mount Everest with two broken legs and an extra oxygen tank,” said Republican strategist Matthew Dowd. “You’re living longer, but you’re not going anywhere.”

One of the challenges for Bush and other GOP hopefuls has been the dominance of real-estate impresario Donald Trump, who has siphoned off much of the enthusiasm in the base. The businessman raised $3.8 million, even though he has pledged to self-fund his campaign and is not soliciting contributions.

“Donald Trump has basically stultified the fundraising for these candidates,” said Anthony Scaramucci, who had been Walker’s national finance co-chair and is now backing Bush. “He’s the Trump speed bump. His ratcheting up in the polls has made it very difficult for more establishment Republicans to get traction with donors.”

In all, six Democratic candidates reported raising $123.2 million for their campaign committees so far this year, while 15 GOP candidates pulled in $143.5 million overall.

Clinton and Sanders together had $60.1 million on hand at the end of September. Meanwhile, the 15 Republicans combined reported having $61.2 million in the bank.

Meanwhile, the first primary happens in February.  Who knows what will come and go between then and now?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Tuesday Reads: Clowns and Freaks on Parade and Other News

2016_Republican_Clown_Car_Parade_-_Trump_Exta_Special_Edition_(18739683269)

Good Morning!!

How low can they go? Only time will tell. We are still about four months away from the primaries, and it could get a whole lot worse. Recently passengers in the GOP clown car have been calling each other clowns and freaks, but none of them seem to see their own ridiculousness.

A few days ago, Donald Trump called Mario Rubio a “clown” at the Values Voters Summit, and got booed for it.

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

“I’ve been so nice to him. I’ve been so — but he’s in favor of immigration,” Trump said at the Value Voters Summit, before quickly moving on.

The audience had heard Rubio speak just two hours earlier and gave him several rounds of enthusiastic applause.

Marco_Rubio

Yesterday, Rubio told NPR he didn’t want any part of Donald Trump’s “freak show.” CNN reports:

The two candidates have battled through sound bites for the past week, after essentially staying muted on each other for most of the campaign. As Rubio has enjoyed a marked boost in the polls since his performance in the second debate, Trump has gone after Rubio with insults including calling him a “kid” and dinging his voting record this year.

The Florida senator has willingly dished it back at Trump, calling him unserious and “touchy.” That continued in an NPR interview on Monday.

“I’m not interested in the back and forth to be a member or part of his freak show,” Rubio told NPR.

But despite that statement, Rubio quickly ticked off a list of Trump’s recent foibles, including mentioning a speech in South Carolina that had many empty seats and Trump getting booed at Friday’s Value Voters Summit when he called Rubio a “clown.”

“He is a very sensitive person,” Rubio said. “He doesn’t like to be criticized. He responds to criticism very poorly. … His poll numbers have taken a beating, and he was embarrassed on national television at the debate by Carly Fiorina and others.”

2015-09-28-endorse-this-rand-paul-donald-trump-clown-cnn-640-668x501

Also yesterday on CNN, Rand Paul said of Trump, “How could anyone in my party think this clown is fit to be president?.” 

While out on the trail talking to reporters, the mogul picked Paul as one of the next candidates to drop out of the race, after two governors have left the race in recent weeks.

Paul called Trump a “clown” and said the attacks on his campaign were similar to the last presidential debate, when the mogul kicked off his first answer with a volley on Paul and a critique of his inclusion in the top-tier debate.

“It kind of reminds me of the funniest moment, I think, of the second debate, where out of nowhere, complete non sequitur, he starts going after me. And I guess it’s part of his bravado, his shtick,” Paul said. “I’m thinking, how did we get the race for the most important office in the free world to sink to such depths, and how could anyone in my party think that this clown is fit to be president?”

Paul said there’s no truth to Trump’s assertions that his campaign is having trouble fundraising. In fact, he said, his campaign is focused on organizing on the ground in key primary states and pleased with how that’s going.

As The National Memo notes, “A few years ago, that was the same stuff people used to say about Rand Paul.”

Bobby Jindal (Gov. R-L)

Of course Bobby Jindal and some of the other clowns have been attacking Trump as a clown for quite awhile. It’s the only way some of them can get any media attention. From The Guardian on September 10:

In a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, followed Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham and Rick Perry in targeting Trump, who has become the clear frontrunner in polls concerning the 17-strong GOP presidential field despite a succession of controversies over his remarks and policy positions.

In his speech, Jindal called Trump a “narcissist and egomaniac”, whom he said was “unserious and unstable”.

“Donald Trump is for Donald Trump,” Jindal said, adding in reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan: “Donald Trump is not for making America great. Donald Trump is for making Donald Trump great.”

Jindal even dipped into some of Trump’s trademark insult comedy, saying: “You may have recently seen that after Trump said the Bible is his favorite book. He couldn’t name a single Bible verse or passage that meant something to him.

“And we all know why, because it’s all just a show, and he hasn’t ever read the Bible. But you know why he hasn’t read the Bible? Because he’s not in it.”

He also avoided a commitment to supporting Trump if he were to secure the Republican nomination, saying “he cannot be our nominee”, and predicted that if Trump did become the Republican standard bearer in 2016, he would “implode” and “hand the election to Hillary Clinton.”

All very true, but much of it applies to Jindal as well. These guys are both horrifying and fascinating at the same time. I can hardly wait for the next GOP “debate.” Maybe the clowns will actually come to blows.

635778612484928387-bensonCOLOR--Trump-Clown-and-Fiorina-091515

As Melissa McEwan writes, none of these fools running for the Republican nomination have any illusions about the voter base they are trying to appeal to–a bunch of poorly educated racists, nativists, gun nuts, and fetus fetishists who can be easily conned into voting for whatever the Koch brothers and Wall Street want. From Shakesville:

Rubio is merely the latest, and most brazen, of Republicans to talk about Trump as though he and his fetid campaign exist somehow outside the Republican mainstream, instead of being the uncensored id of their disgusting party that he really is.

As if Rubio doesn’t know the truth about his party. Of course he does. Every single time he dogwhistles “tradition” or “values” to his base, he’s evoking that truth. He, like Governor Bobby Jindal, is just mad that Trump has the spine and the indecency to be straightforward about what that truth really is.

If Rubio, Jindal, or any of their other fellow candidates for the US presidency are really operating under the misapprehension that their base isn’t voting for them because of fear, hatred, and bigotry, but because of smaller government and lower taxes, then they are too fucking ignorant to be trusted to tie their own shoes, no less elected to lead the nation.

Ben Carson Clown

Speaking of ignorant racists, George Zimmerman is back in the news. Isn’t he a perfect example of the kinds of people Republicans appeal to?

From The New York Daily News: George Zimmerman goes on depraved Twitter rant after retweeting picture of Trayvon Martin’s corpse.

George Zimmerman’s Twitter trolling has reached a new low.

Days after retweeting an image of Trayvon Martin’s corpse, Zimmerman went on a depraved Twitter tirade Monday afternoon, spewing racist rants and boasting about “mocking all you trolls.”

The man who shot and killed Martin three years ago also gave out an apparent stranger’s phone number, referring “all media inquiries” to the unsuspecting man.

“Gee..I sure hate offending people that have plotted and tried to kill me and my family…” Zimmerman wrote with one tweet, with a photo matching President Obama with Virginia murderer Vester Flanagan.

Zimmerman flew off the handle days after he seemed to boast about killing the 17-year-old Martin.

Over the weekend, an admirer tweeted him a photo of Martin’s body, which was used as evidence for Zimmerman’s trial. The user called Zimmerman a “one man army.”

Ugh. Why isn’t this disgusting man in prison?

Bushes_2

I’m going to give you the rest of the news as headlines as links only, because I have to do some things for my mother this morning. Here we go:

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

Reuters via The National Memo: Biden Eligible For Democratic Primary Debate: If He Decides To Run.

Ezra Klein at Vox: A theory of how American politics is changing.

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

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

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

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

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

Vanity Fair: A Terrifying Look at Our Eventual Trump Presidency.

David Weigel at The WaPo: Trump’s tax plan calms conservatives worried about a populist moment.

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

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

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

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