Friday Reads: Facts, Lies, Damned Lies, and then there’s the Media

history_kennedy_and_nixon_4th_debate_speech_sf_still_624x352Good Afternoon!

We’re closing in on the first general election debate of the season and speculation is running hot and heavy in the pundit class.  I think they’re actually taking bets as to which one of Donald Trump’s persona will appear on stage.  They’re also trying to find out who is standing in for Trump at Clinton’s practice debates. That’s just soooooo scoopworthy and newsworthy and très importante.

As usual, Hillary is off doing her homework,prepping for the big day, and getting her facts down since hope isn’t too high that Lester Holt will do much of that being the News Reader of the Day given work that should be above his pay grade.  The big questions of the day for Hillary Clinton and the debate can be seen on Between Two Ferns as BB posted yesterday.  What will she wear?  Will she smile enough?  Will her eyes wobble to and fro and her cankles hang low?  Inquiring Lester Holt will probably ask (sigh) and the journalists (sic) will discuss it endlessly until the next debate.

Lying, Crooked, Scumbag*  Donald Trump has already told Holt not to fact check the debate.   * Hey, just mimicking his debate and speech style.

Donald Trump says NBC’s Lester Holt should not correct his or Hillary Clinton’s facts while moderating the first presidential debate.

“I think he has to be a moderator,” the Republican nominee said on “Fox & Friends” Thursday.

“I mean, if you’re debating somebody and if she makes a mistake or I make a mistake … we’ll take each other on,” he added. “But I certainly don’t think you want Candy Crowley again.”

I’m never quit sure why they actually pick “news” personalities to do these things rather than ask a few experts to grill the candidates on their subject of expertise. But, like anything on TV news poof these days, it’s a ratings game and they’re after those sound bytes from hell.  Josh Vorhees from Slate has done Lester’s homework for him which is usually what the bright kids do for the rest of the planet.    Don’t forget, we’ve got letters from economics experts, foreign policy experts, diplomats and military experts and scientists all begging folks to leave Donald Trump to the trashbins of TV and scams.  Really, check my links that’s about 300-400 of the world’s biggest brains flashing a don’t go there America sign!!!  It’s like between 50 -100 of them per link up there.

The list of lies covered by Vorhees include lies that that Donald Dumbf tells about himself, the country, the economy, the world, the criminal justice system, the state of US inner cities and a host of topics.  Go check them out. kennedy-nixon-debate-hThey’re full cited.  Here are the lies he tells about our country and our extremely good economy.

Lies Trump Tells About the Country

Immigration

Lie: There could be as few as 3 million or as many as 30 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Truth: The Department of Homeland Security last estimated the size of the undocumented population at 11.4 million at the start of 2012, down from a peak of 12.2 million five years earlier. As PolitiFact points out, that figure is line with the most recent estimates from the Pew Research Center (11.3 million in 2014), the Center for Migration Studies (10.9 million in 2014), and the Center for Immigrations Studies (11.7 million in 2016). While the government does not know the exact number of undocumented immigrants in the United States, there are no credible estimates that approach either Trump’s high- or low-end numbers.

Lie: Assimilation among American Muslims is nearly “non-existent.”

Truth: The Pew Research Center conducted a major survey on the topic in 2011 and concluded “Muslim Americans appear to be highly assimilated into American society.” Public polling of Muslim Americans likewise suggests that a majority identify strongly with the United States.

The electoral process

Lie: The general election debates are “rigged” against him because two overlap with NFL games.

Truth: The Commission on Presidential Debates consulted with both parties before setting the fall schedule for the three presidential debates and the single vice presidential one. Furthermore, the bipartisan panel announced the dates in September of last year, more than four months before this year’s first nominating contest and nearly seven months before the NFL released its schedule for the season. Scheduling conflicts between major sporting events and the general election debates are also neither new—there were two NFL conflicts in 2012 alone—nor easily avoidable, given the NFL now plays on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, while MLB playoff games up to and including the World Series can fall on any day of the week. (Bonus lie: Trump claims the NFL sent him a letter alerting him about the conflict; the NFL says that didn’t happen.)

Lie: The election itself is “rigged” against him.

Truth: Trump’s claim was, in the words of the usually staid Associated Press, an “unprecedented assertion by a modern presidential candidate,” one that could “threaten the tradition of peacefully contested elections and challenge the very essence of a fair democratic process.” Trump has laid the groundwork for only two possible outcomes in the eyes of his most passionate supporters: He wins the presidency, or he has it stolen from him. Meanwhile, his campaign has produced no credible evidence to support the extraordinary claim that the outcome of an election that has yet to happen will be illegitimate.

The economy

Lie: The United States is one of the highest taxed nations in the world.

Truth: This is a slightly softer version of his original claim that America is the most  taxed nation, though the rewrite still isn’t enough to save it. According to a Pew Research Center report from this year—based on 2014 data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development—Americans’ tax bills are below average among developed nations.

Lie: The true unemployment rate is as high as 42 percent.

Truth: The Bureau of Labor Statistics latest estimate pegs the nation’s unemployment rate at 4.9 percent, roughly where it has been for the past year. That figure does not factor in those Americans who are unemployed but not currently looking for work. BLS, however, offers a second statistic—known as the labor underutilization rate—that in addition to the officially unemployed, also counts part-time workers who would like to be working more and those who want to work but are not currently looking for a job. That figure was 9.7 percent in August.

Lie: The black youth unemployment rate is 59 percent.

Truth: Again, no. According to BLS, the unemployment rate for blacks between 16 and 24 years old was 26.1 percent in August. While Trump has never said where his figure came from, the most likely scenario is that he is relying on a metric that misleadingly factors in those who don’t work and aren’t looking for a job, including high school and college students.

With his wife Rosalynn Carter looking on at center, Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, center left, shakes hands with President Gerald Ford at the conclusion of their debate at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, Oct. 6, 1976, San Francisco, Calif. Others unidentified. (AP Photo)

With his wife Rosalynn Carter looking on at center, Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, center left, shakes hands with President Gerald Ford at the conclusion of their debate at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, Oct. 6, 1976, San Francisco, Calif. Others unidentified. (AP Photo)

Meanwhile, Clinton picks up the endorsement of another of the nation’s major newspapers.  This time it’s the LA Times.  No one in the know or a functioning brain wants Donald Dumpf near the White House.  No.One.  How’s this for a headline? “Hillary Clinton would make a sober, smart and pragmatic president. Donald Trump would be a catastrophe.”

American voters have a clear choice on Nov. 8. We can elect an experienced, thoughtful and deeply knowledgeable public servant or a thin-skinned demagogue who is unqualified and unsuited to be president.

Donald J. Trump, a billionaire businessman and television personality, is the latter. He has never held elected office and has shown himself temperamentally unfit to do so. He has run a divisive, belligerent, dishonest campaign, repeatedly aligning himself with racists, strongmen and thugs while maligning or dismissing large segments of the American public. Electing Trump could be catastrophic for the nation.

By contrast, Hillary Clinton is one of the best prepared candidates to seek the presidency in many years. As a first lady, a Democratic senator from New York and secretary of State in President Obama’s first term, she immersed herself in the details of government, which is why her positions on the issues today are infinitely better thought-out than those of her opponent.

She stands for rational, comprehensive immigration reform and an improvement rather than an abandonment of the Affordable Care Act. She supports abortion rights, wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour, hopes to reform the sentencing laws that have overcrowded American prisons, would repair the Voting Rights Act and help students to leave college without enormous debt. Abroad she would strengthen America’s traditional alliances, continue the Obama administration’s efforts to “degrade and ultimately defeat” Islamic State and negotiate with potential adversaries such as Russia and China in a way that balances realism and the protection of American interests. Unlike Trump, Clinton accepts the prevailing science on climate change and considers the issue to be “the defining challenge of our time.”

The racists are out in droves over the protests in Charlotte, N.C. which is one of the key swing states in this election. The first two nights of protests saw some vandalism and even a shooting.  However, last night was peaceful.  I fe73c13f32d25e27af454f6763909589noticed that the presence of the National Guard mixed in with Police in NOPD after Katrina was a good thing.  The police behaved when they were being monitored by the Guard.  People also were more calm and the usual agitators and criminals that follow protests around to take advantage were gone last night.  I’m beginning to think that a state’s national guard is key to policing in places where the police aren’t all that professional.  Anyway, here’s the latest idiots suggesting protesters should be harmed or are some how doing something illegal.  This one is from a Tennessee (no surprises there) Law Professor.

The University of Tennessee is investigating a tweet by one of its law professors after the faculty member and contributing columnist for USA TODAY and the Knoxville News Sentinel urged motorists to run over demonstrators blocking traffic in Charlotte, N.C.

Twitter briefly suspended Glenn Reynolds’ account after he responded to a tweet from a TV news station in Charlotte that showed protesters on Interstate 277.  “Run them down,” he wrote.

Reynolds, the creator of the Instapundit blog, tweets from the handle @Instapundit.

He posted to Twitter shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday that his account had been unblocked after he agreed to delete the offending tweet.

UT College of Law Dean Melanie D. Wilson said in a statement Thursday morning that she and university administrators are investigating the matter, calling Reynolds’ post an “irresponsible use of his platform.”

“The university is committed to academic freedom, freedom of speech, and diverse viewpoints, all of which are important for an institution of higher education and the free exchange of ideas,” she wrote. “My colleagues and I in the university’s leadership support peaceful disobedience and all forms of free speech, but we do not support violence or language that encourages violence.”

She called the concerns about the tweet from students and staff, along with those from citizens across the country, “serious and legitimate.”

Chancellor Jimmy Cheek released a statement about an hour later supporting Wilson and her comments.

“Wilson’s statement about the faculty member’s social media post reinforces the university’s commitment to fostering a civil and inclusive learning environment,” he said in a news release.

959f5c5c-c78c-4f02-b54c-fea4961be96a-2048A North Carolina Congressman suggested that “Charlotte protesters ‘hate white people’.”  That sounds like something straight out of the Alt-Reich handbook of racism.

U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger apologized Thursday after saying the violence in Charlotte stems from protesters who “hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not.”

Pittenger is a Republican whose district includes parts of the city where protests have turned violent in the wake of a police shooting of a black man.

He made the statement on a BBC-TV news program Thursday when asked to describe the “grievance” of the protesters.

“The grievance in their minds – the animus, the anger – they hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not,” Pittenger said. He then criticized people who receive welfare. It is a welfare state. We have spent trillions of dollars on welfare, and we’ve put people in bondage, so they can’t be all they’re capable of being.”

He later apologized on Twitter, saying his answer “doesn’t reflect who I am. I was quoting statements made by angry protesters last night on national TV. My intent was to discuss the lack of economic mobility for African Americans because of failed policies.”

1228f400721a0b623e2d98adf6f6fdb9Yeah. Right. Lack of “economic mobility” because “they all hate white people”, I suppose.

Then there was this doozy from a USA Today columnist who suggested you should just run people over with your car if they get in your way.

Which brings us to Glenn Reynolds, known online as InstaPundit, one of the most prolific bloggers on the Internet. On Wednesday night, Reynolds tweeted this.

The tweet involved protesters who were blocking a highway near Charlotte in protest of the killing of Keith Lamont Scott.

Twitter suspended Reynolds’ account, on the grounds that his tweet was an incitement of violence.

After being suspended, however, Reynolds defended his tweet. He allowed that “run them down” didn’t capture his intent “fully” — but he blamed Twitter’s character count, not his own judgment, for the message.

But riots aren’t peaceful protest. And blocking interstates and trapping people in their cars is not peaceful protest — it’s threatening and dangerous, especially against the background of people rioting, cops being injured, civilian-on-civilian shootings, and so on. I wouldn’t actually aim for people blocking the road, but I wouldn’t stop because I’d fear for my safety, as I think any reasonable person would.

“Run them down” perhaps didn’t capture this fully, but it’s Twitter, where character limits stand in the way of nuance.

Reynolds’ tweet was just 14 characters — far below Twitter’s limit of 140, which could have allowed for at least a little more nuance.

He then appeared on the Hugh Hewitt show and made clear that, upon reflection, he did not apologize for his tweet.

Can I just say I’m really tired of these white dudes trying to swing their lily white, tiny dicks in every one’s face?  So, what explains the current state of the voting public and the inability of some voters to see Trump for what he is? tdih-debates_lobby

What makes white people tick? This question will occupy campaign strategists and forecasters through November. Given that voters of color have, on the whole, decided resoundingly against Donald Trump, the coveted swing voters who will decide this election are overwhelmingly white. This is nothing new, of course, but in the wake of a campaign season that has played heavily on white identity politics, rejection of diversity and race-baiting dog whistles, the specific concerns of white voters have taken on a renewed salience.

It’s an open secret in electoral politics that you can guess someone’s vote pretty accurately based only on her census form. So rather than trying to suss out the sentiments and ideological profiles of voters based on individual testimony, let’s tackle a simpler question: Which demographic traits affect how white Americans vote?

Instead, the two most predictive variables are religious attendance and education. Crucially, these two variables are still more explanatory when considered together. Roughly speaking, a white voter will lean left if she is “more college than church” and will lean right if she is “more church than college.”4

More precisely, we can assign an educational score (no college = 0, some college = 1, college degree = 2) and religious attendance score (never attend = 0, sometimes attend = 1, attend weekly = 2) to each white American. Those with a higher education score are likely to support Clinton, those with a higher religious attendance score are more likely to support Trump, and those with equal scores are more divided.

So, I’m not going to comment in the post about that but you can read more at the FiveThirtyEight link above.  There’s more in depth analysis from Milo Beckman there.   I’ll be more open with my thoughts downthread but needless to say, if you’re already gullible enough to take iron age myths literally, you’re pretty far removed from reality.  If you’ve never really studied science and learned about how theories come about and hypotheses are tested, you’re going to be doubly vulnerable to scam artists.  Opps … I went there.

So, don’t forget to join us for the first debate next week and our live blog!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Happy Note: There’s a full page in the New York Times today with just this poem by Langston Hugheslangston-hughes

I, Too, Sing America

Langston Hughes, Lincoln University ’29

Poet, Social Activist, Novelist and Playwright

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.


Lazy Saturday Reads: Clinton’s Embarrassing Memory Error and Escalating Violence at Trump Rallies

Probably nothing to worry about: People raise arms pledging to vote for Trump at the University of Central Florida on March 5, 2016 in Orlando (h/t Slate) Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Probably nothing to worry about: People raise arms pledging to vote for Trump at the University of Central Florida on March 5, 2016 in Orlando (h/t Slate) Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Good Morning!!

It has been a long and disturbing week for us political junkies. On Sunday night there was the Democratic debate from Flint. We’ve had a number of presidential primaries and caucuses, two Democratic debates and a Democratic town hall, and a Republican debate.

We watched one of the most famous and accomplished women in the world be shushed at the debate in Flint, MI by the 74-year-old not-quite-so-accomplished white man who is running against her.

We watched as debate moderators in Miami asked her “who gave you permission” to use a private email server; and suggested she might be indicted for doing what past Secretaries of State and high level government employees have been doing forever. We cringed as she was forced to respond to insulting questions about why some people don’t like or trust her.

Yesterday we saw her viciously attacked after she made an embarrassing mistake while trying to say something kind about Nancy Reagan at the latter’s funeral. Yes, she made a serious gaffe, but she immediately apologized with no hedging or excuse-making. Note that her opponent has never apologized for a single thing he has said or done–including his sexist behavior and comments.

On the Republican side, we watched another shudder-inducing debate and the country witnessed escalating violence and hate speech at Donald Trump’s rallies.

Rock Hudson at the White House a year before his death from AIDS

Rock Hudson at the White House a year before his death from AIDS

On the Nancy Reagan story, I think what Hillary was probably thinking of was Nancy’s efforts later in the Reagan years to convince her husband to soften his stance on funding AIDS research. It was too little, too late, but it did in fact make a difference in terms of making the AIDS epidemic more visible to the millions of Americans who had previously been ignorant about it. From The Advocate: Remembering Nancy Reagan, Her Involvement in AIDS Crisis.

She is being remembered today as the creator of the “Just Say No” to drugs advertising campaign, but most importantly as a powerful ally for her husband, not shy about speaking her mind on political matters affecting Ronald Reagan throughout his career, including as governor of California.

Her husband, though, is notorious among LGBT activists who survived the Reagan presidency, when the AIDS crisis raged, and when the president largely ignored the problem. Reagan didn’t give a formal speech about the epidemic until 1987, after thousands had died. In 1985, he was named The Advocate’s Homophobe of the Year and repeatedly made that annual list.

Nancy Reagan is sometimes credited with pushing her husband to do something about AIDS, and he eventually supported some funding for research. The death of their friend, actor Rock Hudson, is often referred to as a pivotal moment.

But, the Advocate notes, the Reagans refused to help a dying Hudson when he begged them to get him admitted to a French military hospital that supposedly had a “special treatment.” Nancy’s friend Elizabeth Taylor reportedly asked Nancy to get in involved in the AIDS issue, and Nancy was “frosty” about it. However, Nancy later supported marriage equality, according to her daughter Patti.

“She does,” Davis said during a radio interview with Michelangelo Signorile. “I’m hesitant to speak for anyone else, and she’s not comfortable going out in the public eye and getting in the firing line of anything. So, you know, I want to be cautious about speaking on someone else’s behalf. But let me put it this way: I think if she had disagreed with what I said publicly about my father she would have said something publicly. … Let’s just put it that way. That’s the most sort of politically correct way I can answer that question.”

The first same-sex couple to room together at the White House might also be due to Nancy Reagan. According to a 1984 column reportedly published in the Washington Post, interior decorator Ted Graber spent the night with Archie Case while celebrating Nancy Reagan’s 60th birthday.

The Advocate also linked to some PBS clips about Nancy’s role in the AIDS crisis.

C. Everet Koop

C. Everet Koop

Ronald Reagan’s Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, a right wing Christian, also made efforts to deal with the AIDS epidemic. From Slate:

When C. Everett Koop accepted his post as the U.S. surgeon general in 1982, few thought he would become one of the most outspoken advocates of sex education in public schools. Koop was an emerging leader within the Christian pro-life movement, and his conservative credentials caught the attention of Ronald Reagan’s team, who approached him about serving as surgeon general even before the 1980 election. Koop’s appointment reflected Reagan’s appreciation for the conservative evangelicals who voted him into office.

Koop would eventually defy expectations from both the left and the right through his bold approach to addressing AIDS, including his call for frank talk and comprehensive sex education. He has been remembered this week for the distance he created between himself and his former allies on the Christian Right. But far from leaving his religious friends behind, Koop drew upon his role as a Christian and as surgeon general to pull conservative religious groups into the fold of AIDS education, calling upon religious groups to take an active role in defining sexual morality and public health, an effort that reverberates today.

Much more at the link.

Hillary’s words were hurtful to many people, and everyone has the right to feel anger, disappointment, forgiveness, or any other emotional reaction. However, she did quickly realize her mistake and she immediately apologized. I hope she isn’t going to be crucified for it. History is complex and so are people, and human memory is often inaccurate.

Now on to another issue that involves not just words, but actions–the escalating violence at Donald Trump’s campaign rallies.

Last night hundreds of protesters disrupted a Trump rally in Chicago, causing Trump to abruptly cancel his appearance at the University of Illinois Chicago. CNN reports:

Donald Trump’s campaign on Friday postponed a rally in Chicago amid fights between supporters and demonstrators, protests in the streets and concerns that the environment at the event was no longer safe.

The announcement, which came amid large protests both inside and outside the event at the University of Illinois at Chicago, follows heightened concerns about violence in general at the GOP front-runner’s rallies. Illinois holds its Republican primary on Tuesday.

Hundreds of demonstrators packed into an arena, breaking out into protest even before Trump had shown up. At least five sections in the arena were filled with protesters.

“Mr. Trump just arrived in Chicago, and after meeting with law enforcement, has determined that for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight’s rally will be postponed to another date,” the Trump campaign said in a statement. “Thank you very much for your attendance and please go in peace.”

Demonstrators celebrate after Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump cancelled his rally at the University of Illinois in Chicago March 11, 2016. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

Demonstrators celebrate after Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump cancelled his rally at the University of Illinois in Chicago March 11, 2016. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

Chicago police later said they did not recommend cancelling the rally. That was Trump’s decision.

Several fistfights between Trump supporters and protesters could be seen after the announcement, as a large contingent of Chicago police officers moved in to restore order.

Supporters of Trump still inside chanted “We want Trump” after the event was canceled. Protesters, meanwhile, shouted “We shut s*** down” and “We stumped Trump.” Others chanted “Bernie” as supporters whipped out Bernie Sanders campaign signs.

Some protesters were being detained and forcefully carried out.

Earlier in the day there were problems at a Trump rally in St. Louis. KTLA reports: Violence Erupts at Donald Trump Rally in St. Louis; At Least 32 People Arrested.

Thousands of people attended the Missouri rally, and “battle lines” were drawn between supporters and protesters, MSNBC reporter Trymaine Lee tweeted.

At least 32 people were arrested in protests both inside and outside Trump’s rally at the Peabody Opera House, police said.

Thirty-one people were charged with disturbing the peace, and one was charged with third-degree assault. St. Louis police declined to provide further details….

At the scene in St. Louis, one man was seen with a blood-spattered shirt and tissues inside his nose, apparently stopping blood from flowing.

In video posted online, he could be heard saying, “he sucker punched me.”

It was not clear what led to his injury, and he was receiving medical treatment, according to a Black Lives Matter supporter who used the Twitter username @southards_3.

Protesters outside Trump's rally in St. Louis yesterday. Getty images.

Protesters outside Trump’s rally in St. Louis yesterday. Getty images.

Here’s what Trump was saying during the St. Louis event, according to the Chicago Tribune:

Facing intensifying criticism for the violent clashes between supporters and protesters that have come to define his rallies, GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Friday continued to taunt those who interrupt his events while promising that police and security would be “gentle” as they removed them.

“They’re allowed to get up and interrupt us horribly and we have to be very, very gentle,” Trump said in response to one of nearly a dozen interruptions as he spoke in St. Louis at the regal Peabody Opera House. “They can swing and hit people, but if we hit them back, it’s a terrible, terrible thing, right?”

Throughout his speech, Trump was deeply critical of the protesters, all of whom appeared to leave the venue largely without incident. Police later said that 31 people were arrested and charged with general peace disturbance, and one person was charged outside the venue with third-degree assault.

He panned the protesters as weak “troublemakers,” ordered them to “go home to mommy” or “go home and get a job” because “they contribute nothing.”

“These are not good people, just so you understand,” Trump said. “These are not the people who made our country great. These are the people that are destroying our country.”

This kind of encouragement of attacks on protesters has become standard behavior for Trump at his campaign appearances.

As Trump attempts to unify a fractured Republican Party, racially charged images of his supporters attacking protesters and allegations that he’s inciting violence have cast new attention on the divisive nature of his candidacy.

It intensified this week, when a North Carolina man was arrested after video footage showed him punching an African-American protester being led out of a rally in that state on Wednesday. At the event, the billionaire real estate mogul recalled a past protester as “a real bad dude.”

“He was a rough guy, and he was punching. And we had some people — some rough guys like we have right in here — and they started punching back,” Trump said. “It was a beautiful thing.”

Is this man really someone Americans want in the White House with access to nuclear codes?

For comparison: Ovation for Hitler in the Reichstag after announcing the successful Anschluss, 1938

For comparison: Ovation for Hitler in the Reichstag after announcing the successful Anschluss, 1938

Nick Gass at Politico on the St. Louis speech: Trump: ‘There used to be consequences’ for protesting.

“Part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long [to kick them out] is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore,” Trump said during a speech at the Peabody Opera House — around 12 miles from Ferguson, Mo., the site of racially charged mass protests in 2014.

“There used to be consequences. There are none anymore,” Trump said. “These people are so bad for our country. You have no idea folks, you have no idea.” ….

“These people are so bad for our country, folks. You have no idea,” Trump continued during a longer break in the action. “They contribute nothing. Nothing. And look at the police, they take their lives in their hands.”

“We don’t even win here, with protesters anymore” he complained. “The protesters end up taking over. And frankly, I mean, have to be honest: From my standpoint it makes it a little more exciting, and it gives me time to think about where I want to go next. It’s beautiful. It’s like intermission. And the guys that are near the event, they see some pretty good stuff.”

Then Trump lashed out at the media.

“And these people in the media, the most dishonest human beings on Earth. They are the worst. They are the worst. So what they’ll do is they’ll take 10 minutes worth of clips of that and if one policeman accidentally moves a finger and touches this wiseguy, it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen.’ And yet the police are being abused for 10 minutes, OK? ” he said. “Give me a break. Give me a break. We better toughen up, we better smarten up, and we better stop with this political correctness because it’s driving us down the tubes.”

After the events in St. Louis and Chicago, Trump cancelled an appearance in downtown Cincinnati. He has now rescheduled it at a suburban location.

A couple more links:

Mashable: All the times Trump has called for violence at his rallies.

Mother Jones: This Is What It Looks Like to Get Beat Up at a Trump Rally. Here are 10 really ugly incidents.

What are your thoughts on Hillary’s gaffe and Donald’s inciting of violence? What other stories are you following today?


Sally Quinn: Only Believers Can Be American Citizens

Sally Quinn is insane

Why does the Washington Post keep publishing the bizarre rantings of an insane person like Sally Quinn? Does Ben Bradlee still have that much influence, or is it Bob Woodward’s attachment to Bradlee that ensures that Quinn can keep vomiting forth her hate-filled screeds in, of all things, the “On Faith” column?

Forgive me if you’ve already heard enough about Quinn’s reaction to Wednesday’s presidential debate. Somehow I missed her latest nonsensical frothings until this afternoon. If only I’d continued on, happily unaware! But instead, I clicked on a link and soon learned that, according to Quinn, Mitt Romney won the first debate because he mentioned god. I also found out that Quinn believes that atheists can’t be American citizens!

When Mitt Romney mentioned the “Creator” in the debate Wednesday, he owned it. “We’re all children of the same God,” he said.

That’s about 85 percent of the country he was talking to. That should have been President Obama’s constituency but he let Romney have it as he let Romney have the debate.

Is that so. Is she really claiming that 85 percent of voters are suddenly going to vote for Mitt Romney now because he mentioned god?

Moving on:

Citing the Declaration of Independence, Romney said: “Second, is that line that says we are endowed by our Creator with our rights, I believe we must maintain our commitment to religious tolerance and freedom in this country. That statement also says that we are endowed by our creator with the right to pursue happiness as we choose. I interpret that as, one, making sure that those people who are less fortunate and can’t care for themselves are cared by — by one another.”

Like most of what Sally Quinn writes, and much of what Mitt Romney says, that makes absolutely no sense, but I’ll have more to say about that in a minute.

Quinn continues (emphasis added):

This is a religious country. Part of claiming your citizenship is claiming a belief in God, even if you are not Christian…. We’ve got the Creator in our Declaration of Independence. We’ve got “In God We Trust” on our coins. We’ve got “one nation under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance. And we say prayers in the Senate and the House of Representatives to God.

An atheist could never get elected dog catcher, much less president….Up until now, the idea of being American and believing in God were synonymous.

I have news for Quinn. This is not a “religious country.” This is a country in which people can worship as they please, but they can’t interfere with other people doing something completely different. Our government, however, is secular and there can be no religious test for American citizenship or for public office.

Quinn wraps up her idiotic piece by announcing that if President Obama wants to win the next debate, he’ll have to “wear God, as much as it offends him to do so.”

WTF?! How do you “wear god?” Is she suggesting that Obama should wear a crucifix around his neck at the next debate? And what does she mean by claiming that Obama is offended by “wearing god?” I’m completely at a loss here.

Frankly, I think Sally Quinn needs to be evaluated by a competent psychiatrist immediately. Furthermore, as long as she continues writing for it, the Washington Post cannot ever again be considered a serious newspaper.

But I want to return to Romney’s quote on the the Declaration of Independence:

“Second, is that line that says we are endowed by our Creator with our rights, I believe we must maintain our commitment to religious tolerance and freedom in this country. That statement also says that we are endowed by our creator with the right to pursue happiness as we choose. I interpret that as, one, making sure that those people who are less fortunate and can’t care for themselves are cared by — by one another.”

That is not at all what Thomas Jefferson wrote. The Declaration of Independence says that we are all “created equal” and have innate rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” There’s nothing in there about the pursuit of happiness “as we choose,” or about who is supposed to take care of “less fortunate” people. Here’s the relevant quote:

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Romney seems to be trying to reinterpret Jefferson’s words–perhaps based on Paul Ryan’s twisted version of Ayn Randism–to mean that “less fortunate” people should help each other, while fortunate ones like Romney help themselves in any way they like. Come to think of it, that’s probably exactly what he does believe. But it’s not what Thomas Jefferson wrote.

It’s abundantly clear that Jefferson was writing about the role of government in making sure that citizens are granted the rights that come from “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” and that when a government no longer protects those rights, the citizens have a right to form a new government. If Mitt Romney doesn’t understand that, then he has no business running for public office, much less serving as President of the United States.

Although I regret reading Sally Quinn’s confused and innane thoughts on the presidential debate, I’m grateful to her for pointing out Mitt Romney’s complete ignorance of the document that laid the foundation for American independence and for the rights that are enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. I hate to think how he would interpret the Bill of Rights.

Oh, and I am a full-fledged citizen even though I don’t accept Sally Quinn’s or Mitt Romney’s twisted religious beliefs, and I have every intention of voting on November 6.


“Winning” in the Sheen/Romney mode: Does truth matter?

Okay, so my first impression of the “new” Romney was actually thinking he came off like the old Charlie Sheen. How can people be impressed with some one that continually lied, presented himself and his agenda as something diametrically opposed to what he’s been saying for the last year, and continually, frantically interrupted both the moderator and the president?  Is this really WINNING!? Are we after a debate where we learn about issues and facts or a reality show meltdown?

Obama has never been a spirited debater.  Any one that was paying attention to the 2008 primaries knows that.  The big difference that I can see in this debate performance and the 2008 performance is that Obama actually has a grasp on policy this time out and he can talk about it.  Evidently, that’s not enough for the punditry these days.  They want tingly legs. They want something akin to a reality show. IMHO, only Romney gave them that.

The morning after appears to be filled with fact checking in the print press.  Romney is losing on substance and facts.  I posted a series of fact checking posts early this morning.  There’s more today.  Here’s the shrill one.

And the fact is that everything Obama said was basically true, while much of what Romney said was either outright false or so misleading as to be the moral equivalent of a lie.

Above all, there’s this:

MR. ROMNEY: Let — well, actually — actually it’s — it’s — it’s a lengthy description, but number one, pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.

No, they aren’t. Romney’s advisers have conceded as much in the past; last night they did it again.

I guess you could say that Romney’s claim wasn’t exactly a lie, since some people with preexisting conditions would retain coverage. But as I said, it’s the moral equivalent of a lie; if you think he promised something real, you’re the butt of a sick joke.

And we’re talking about a lot of people left out in the cold — 89 million, to be precise.

Furthermore, all of this should be taken in the context of Romney’s plan not just to repeal Obamacare but to drastically cut Medicaid.

So enough with the theater criticism; Romney needs to be held accountable for dishonesty on a huge scale.

Here’s another one from Jonathan Chait.  Most of the print press is picking up on the lies big time.  However, the TV punditry personalities are still enthralled with the Romney Sheen-style “WINNING!”. Romney’s successful debate strategy was manically and aggressively lying. WINNING!!!

Romney was forceful and articulate and dodged his association with almost all the most unpopular aspects of his platform. But his success at doing so was built upon two demonstrable untruths.

The most important was taxes. Romney asserted, “I cannot reduce the burden paid by high-income Americans.” Let me explain how this is untrue even by his own campaign’s accounting.

Obama badly flubbed this topic by allowing Romney to change the baseline of the discussion. Romney is promising to extend all the Bush tax cuts and refuses to accept even slightly higher revenue as part of a deficit deal. On top of that, he is proposing a huge, regressive income tax rate cut that would reduce revenue by an additional $5 trillion, but promises to make up for it by closing tax deductions. Obama directed his fire almost entirely at the additional tax cut, leaving mostly untouched, until the end, Romney’s pledge to never bargain away any of the Bush tax cuts.

Obama’s case was sound. The Tax Policy Center has shown that the stated parameters of Romney’s plan don’t add up — even under favorable assumptions, there are not enough tax deductions for the rich to close to pay for the rate cuts. Romney has disputed this and cited a series of studies that, in various ways, change the parameters of the Tax Policy Center study. Some of these studies find that it could be theoretically possible that Romney could cut rates and, by closing loopholes, do so without losing revenue or raising taxes on the middle class — if you lower the bar on who is middle class from $250,000 to $100,000, or count the repeal of Obamacare to help pay for the tax cuts, or use really wildly optimistic growth assumptions.

None of these studies back up Romney’s claim that he won’t reduce taxes on the rich. They confirm that he will reduce taxes on the rich. They merely suggest that he could make up the revenue some other way than taxing the middle class or increasing the deficit — that the economic growth will help the tax cuts for the rich pay for themselves, or that some of the lost revenue can be made up for by cutting off subsidies for the uninsured. Romney flat-out misstated his position.

My first reaction to the opening Romney statement was “WHOA, Nellie”.  He basically made statements on policy that were 180 degree turns from everything he’s previously said.  No wonder the President look flummoxed.  You basically prepare for a man whose entire platform is based on tax cuts for the rich and calling 47% of the population moochers and the guy says he’s not going to lower taxes for the rich?  Then, he says he thinks regulation is okay?  AND, he’s back to saying that his plans actually keep the popular parts of “ObamaCare” when they don’t?  Lying is WINNING!

I called my dad–who could serve as an archetype of the Republican Small Businessman–immediately after the debate and nothing about the debate impressed him.   He said it wasn’t a debate at all.  He was nonplussed.  My immediate reaction was to be appalled by the degree of Romney rudeness and aggressiveness   I don’t consider ordering a moderator around and calling him out for not keeping to the exact second of the time rule to be anything but extremely rude and bullying.  I don’t like that kind of disrespectful behavior.  I don’t consider aggressive lying and hyperactive speed talking to be “WINNING!”  It certainly hasn’t taken Charlie Sheen any where but to cable reruns.  But of course, both Jim and Big Bird seem to be “likeable enough” for Romney.  Just not worthy of a few tax dollars.

Here’s “The Four Most Misleading Moment’s in Romney’s Debate Performance” from Jonathan Cohn at TNR.  These are my thoughts exactly.

The debate may not change the dynamics of the election. But if I knew nothing about the candidates and this was my first exposure to the campaign, I’d think this Romney fellow has a detailed tax plan, wants to defend the middle class and poor, and will take care of people who can’t find health insurance.

Problem is, this isn’t my first exposure to the campaign. I happen to know a lot about the candidates. And I know that those three things aren’t true. Romney has made promises about taxes that are mathematically incompatible with one another. He’s outlined a spending plan that would devastate the middle class and (particularly) the poor. And his health care plan would leave people with pre-existing conditions pretty much in the same perilous situation they were before the Affordable Care Act became law.

My standard for candor in politics is whether candidates have offered the voters an accurate portrait of what they’ve done and what they are proposing. Tonight, Romney did precisely the opposite. And that really ought to be the story everybody is writing, although I doubt it will be.

My question to every one is how does any one prepare for a debate with some one who lies and recreates himself and his positions continually?  It’s like a trying to catch a greased pig who is also shot up with methamphetamine and testosterone to amp up the squeals. Which Romney do you prepare for?  The Romney who continually says he’s going to lower the tax rates for the rich or the one who says he’s not going to lower taxes for the rich?  The Romney who wants to repeal everything in Obamacare or the Romney who insists that preconditions are covered by his health care policy which is basically pre-Obama care which means it’s NOT covered. The Romney who hates regulation or the Romney who finds things he likes in Dodd-Frank?  Romney’s statements make Charlie Sheen look decidedly un-Bi-Polar by comparison.

The only hint of Romney that actually came out in the debate was the one who insisted that he supported Medicare Vouchers but only by reassuring his older voters that the sucky plan wouldn’t impact them. Not so coincidentally, Obama’s counterargument was the best one on this topic.   Obama held a rally in Denver this morning.  He made the arguments at this rally that he should’ve made last night.  Unfortunately, that’s a little late for the TV pundits who should take notes from their print colleagues and start fact checking Romney’s “WINNING!” performance.

It didn’t impress me and it didn’t impress my father. It turned both of us off.  Are we alone on this?   I saw the bully and the liar in the Romney performance.  Didn’t you? But then, I think both of us were looking for substance and not a reality show meltdown where Obama out-Charlie Sheen’d Romney.  I wasn’t looking for “Fire-breathing Fists” or “Tiger Blood”.  Were you? It seems that Tweetie wants tingly legs and Tiger blood.  That’s not what a debate should be about.  So, shut up about already and get on with dismantling the lies and inconsistencies.


Saturday Reads

It’s Saturday morning and our country is once again saddened by a horrible, violent crime. The shootings in Colorado yesterday were tragic. Even more tragic is the fact that mass shootings have become almost commonplace in our country, but none of our so-called leaders respond by actually taking action to prevent more such massacres in the future.

I feel heartsick not only for all of the victims and their families but also for the family of the perpetrator. I can’t begin to imagine how horrible it would be to lose a family member so senselessly or to have a family member commit such a horrific crime. If only this time politicians would stand up to the bloodthirsty NRA, but I know it’s not going to happen.

I’m not going to link to any more articles about yesterday’s murders. I just can’t stand to read about it right now. So let’s see what else is happening.

Chris Cilizza asks “Who had the worst week in Washington? Rep. Michele Bachmann.”

Anytime you are compared to former senator Joseph McCarthy — he of “red scare” infamy — it’s probably not very good for your political career.

That’s the situation Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) found herself in this past week after it came to light that she and four other House Republicans had sent letters to the inspectors general of the departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice, asking them to look into whether the Muslim Brotherhood has tentacles within the U.S. government.

Bachmann focused her attack on Human Abedin, long-time friend and aide to Hillary Clinton and wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner. She also slimed fellow Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison.

In an interview with radio host Glenn Beck on Thursday, Bachmann asserted that Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, has a long record of being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis, said in a subsequent interview Thursday night with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he has no ties to the Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamic movement that recently came to power in Egypt and that some say maintains ties to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

Bachmann offered no evidence of ties between Ellison and the Muslim Brotherhood during the Beck interview. Bachmann’s spokesman, Dan Kotman, cited a 2009 Fox News report that Ellison had a trip paid for by the Muslim American Society, a group described by an expert quoted in that report as “the de facto arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S.”

It’s simply beyond me why anyone would support this woman or vote for her, yet she is one of the top fund-raisers in the House of Representatives.

I watched some of the British Open today. Please don’t get mad at me. I can’t help rooting for Tiger Woods. I find it so hard to resist a comeback story, and Woods has slowly been recovering his pre-scandal form.

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — From the time he arrived in northwest England on Sunday, it was clear Tiger Woods had a game plan for Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

He had fond memories of the place, having been low amateur here in 1996 and calling it one of his favorite courses on the Open Championship rota. He enjoyed the challenge of avoiding the numerous pitfalls of the old links. Without saying so, he appeared determined to put an end to his four-year major championship victory drought.

Part of the plan was to stay out of the numerous bunkers that give Royal Lytham its teeth. The wind was down and the course was soft, but getting into those hazards is, well, hazardous.

It obviously wasn’t part of the plan when Woods’ approach to the par-4 18th found a greenside bunker. His caddie, Joe LaCava, said the shot was one of his best of the day. But the wind played a factor, the ball drifted into the sand and … uh-oh.

Then Woods holed the shot for a birdie.

A thunderous roar echoed around the 18th green as Woods gave a fist pump. He had made his statement at the Open Championship.

The tournament continues through the weekend, and I’ll probably watch a little more of it. The scenery relaxes me if nothing else.

I’ll just give you two Mitt Romney links this morning. First, this column by conservative political handicapper Charlie Cook from early in the week: Red Alert.

The strategic decision by the Romney campaign not to define him personally—not to inoculate him from inevitable attacks—seems a perverse one. Given his campaign’s ample financial resources, the decision not to run biographical or testimonial ads, in effect to do nothing to establish him as a three-dimensional person, has left him open to the inevitable attacks for his work at Bain Capital, on outsourcing, and on his investments. It’s all rather inexplicable. Aside from a single spot aired in the spring by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, not one personal positive ad has been aired on Romney’s behalf. The view that any day or dollar spent on talking about anything other than the economy is a waste has been taken to such an extreme that Romney has no positive definition other than that of being a rich, successful, and presumably smart businessman. People see and feel the reasons for firing Obama every day in the economic statistics and the struggle that so many Americans face daily. The Romney campaign seems focused on reinforcing a message that hardly needs reinforcing, while ignoring a clear and immediate danger to its own candidate’s electability.

The attacks on Bain, outsourcing, and his investments are sticking to Romney like Velcro, and it’s hard to see how that will change until he picks his running mate. Romney has lost control of the debate and the dialogue. Instead of voters focusing on the economy, they are now hearing about investments and accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, as well as about outsourcing and layoffs….if I were a Republican, I would be very concerned about the events of the past two weeks, questioning both strategy and tactics as well as the underlying assumptions that have led to the campaign decisions made so far.

Second, check out this slideshow of photos of “Sad Mitt Romney” at Mother Jones. In number 8, he looks like he’s about to cry–maybe because of mean bully Obama’s attacks on his “success.”

Sorry–I threw in another link there, but you don’t have to click on it.

Here’s a knee-slapper from Raw Story: Top tea partier demands Obama prove he doesn’t smoke crack and have gay sex

The president of Tea Party Nation declared on Thursday that if Mitt Romney is to release his tax returns, President Barack Obama should release medical records to prove he’s not a drug addict who smoked crack and had gay sex with a lifelong con-man.

Judson Phillips, whose for-profit group is better known to Tennessee as the “Tea Party Nation Corporation,” explained in an essay that also went out in a mass email to his followers that the American people must know whether the president had secret financial support in college due to his status as a “foreign student” — and dredged up a long-disproved story of Obama’s alleged encounter smoking crack and having sex with a gay prostitute.

At The Nation, Ari Melber reports:

A new campaign calling for “a woman moderator” for the presidential debates has drawn over 115,000 supporters online, through the social action website Change.org, and the Commission on Presidential Debates is taking notice. Janet Brown, the commission’s executive director, told The Nation she knew of the petition’s popularity and her colleagues “welcome” the input “regarding moderator selection.”

The petition, which was started by three high school students in New Jersey, Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegeland and Elena Tsemberis, casts the paucity of female moderators as an issue of equality. “We were shocked to find out that it has been twenty years since a woman last moderated a presidential debate,” the petition notes, in reference to the 1992 debate led by ABC News’s Carole Simpson. The students started the effort in conjunction with their civics class, and it is now “the largest elections-related petition” on Change.org, according to Michael Jones, the site’s deputy campaign director. A related effort on UltraViolet.org, a new organizing platform for women’s rights, has drawn another 50,000 supporters.

Now that is something I’d like to see–as long as the moderator isn’t Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer.

I’m sure you’ve heard that George Zimmerman has “gone rogue” again. He has again set up his on website talking to the media and generally appears to be ignoring his attorney’s advice. You’ll recall that he did that with his previous attorneys and they resigned from his case in a nationally televised news conference. On JJ’s Thursday night post, Northwestrain linked to an interesting wordpress blog called the Frederick Leatherman Law Blog. It’s run by an attorney who has been commenting on the Trayvon Martin case. I found his latest post fascinating. He thinks Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, should resign.

GZ is the quintessential difficult client. He is paranoid, secretive, fearful, angry, stubborn, doesn’t trust anyone, controlling, believes he’s smarter than anyone else, manipulative, and probably delusional. It’s absolutely clear that he does not feel any emotional distress or regret for having killed TM.

His claim that TM died as part of “God’s Plan” exhibits a frightening dissociation from reality and a willingness to kill without any sense of responsibility or regret, if he deems it necessary to do so. In other words, if he should find himself in another situation where he believes he is cornered and needs to kill someone to save face or save his ass, I believe he’s likely to do so and excuse what he did as just carrying out God’s will.

I think he is a danger to himself or others and he belongs in a secure mental health facility or a jail. He needs a thorough mental health evaluation.

I fear that Mark O’Mara is a potential victim and I am concerned about his safety. He’s clearly lost control of GZ despite his protestations to the contrary. GZ clearly sees O’Mara in the way and O’Mara has to be very careful how he handles the “uncharted waters” (his words) in which he finds himself.

If he pushes too hard in an effort to regain control, assuming he ever had control, things could get ugly.

I couldn’t agree more. I think O’Mara is destroying his reputation because he craves the media attention that goes along with this case. But Zimmerman is obviously a very sick man with almost no ability to control his impulses. O’Mara should cut and run.

Finally, have you heard that Elizabeth Warren may be asked to give the keynote speech at the Democratic Convention? Steve Kornacki writes:

Early in the week, NBC News and the New York Post reported that Chris Christie would be the Republicans’ featured speaker at their Tampa convention. Mitt Romney’s campaign has refused to confirm the report, though, and Christie himself was mum on the subject when questioned on Thursday. Also on Thursday, the Boston Globe reported that an Obama campaign official had confirmed that Elizabeth Warren was a candidate to deliver the Democratic keynote speech in Charlotte.

There’s no guarantee they’ll be chosen, but Christie and Warren are unusually obvious and logical candidates for the slots. Both have exploded onto the national scene during the Obama presidency by articulating their parties’ basic message and values with more charisma and precision than anyone else – including, arguably, their parties’ nominees.

That would be quite a contrast!

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Saturday Reads: Posh Fundraisers, Bizarre Cults, and More

Good Morning!!

I have some excellent reads to share with you today.

Tomorrow is a big day for Mitt Romney. He’ll be in the Hamptons attending a series of fund raisers hosted by members of the top 1% of the top 1%, and he’s expected to collect $3 million by the time it’s all over.

Mr. Romney is expected to pull in $3 million from an event at the Creeks, the estate of Ronald O. Perelman, the billionaire financier and Revlon chairman, where tickets range from $5,000 for lunch to $25,000 for a V.I.P. photo reception. Another will be held at the home of Clifford M. Sobel, an ambassador to Brazil under President George W. Bush, and a final dinner will take place at the Southampton estate of the billionaire industrialist David H. Koch, where the going rate for entry is $75,000 a couple and $50,000 a person….

At Mr. Koch’s estate, the guests will be treated to one-of-a-kind scenery as they wait for face time with a possible president. Tucked into the Southampton dunes, Mr. Koch’s home is valued at about $18 million by the real estate Web site Zillow, which reports that it has seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms. Its backyard is the sea.

But the jewel of the day is Mr. Perelman’s. With 9 fireplaces, 40 rooms and an expansive wine cellar, his estate makes the Koch spread look modest by comparison. Sitting on 57 acres, it was built for the painter Albert Herter in 1899, and when it last went up for sale in 1991 (for $25 million), The New York Times described it as “the largest and most spectacular estate in the Village of East Hampton, with more than a mile of frontage on Georgica Pond and a view of the Atlantic Ocean beyond.” That article also said that an American Conifer Society Bulletin — for tree enthusiasts — had called its grounds “the eighth wonder of the horticultural world” and “the most outstanding private conifer collection in the United States, a living work of art.”

I wonder how that will go over in Ohio? The article says that Obama is skipping the ostentatious Hamptons fund raisers this year, but it provides descriptions previous ones hosted by Democrats. The Dems definitely attract better musical artists. But Republicans say they don’t need entertainment–they’re already excited by the prospect of throwing Obama out of the White House.

Justin Rubin of MoveOn.org has a piece at HuffPo about the Koch fundraiser. Some “progressives” plan to crash the party.

Mitt Romney may want to hide his Koch problem with the help of his super PACs, but all the cash in the world won’t be enough to stop our people power from exposing the truth. More than 7 million MoveOn members will be working hard every day between now and November to pull back the curtain and expose Romney’s 1% habit.

This Sunday, we’re staging our latest intervention. As Romney’s limo pulls up in front of David Koch’s Hamptons estate — where each $50,000 ticket will cost more than most people make in a year — our members will be there to greet him. We’ll band together with organizers and allies from a diverse array of groups united by our concern about the pernicious effects Koch cash is inflicting on our democracy.

No intervention is complete without a banner, and MoveOn’s 99airlines plane will be at the Hamptons fundraiser too, flying a banner overhead that points out the simple truth: “Mitt Romney has a Koch problem.” As more Americans find out, Romney’s Koch problem will just get worse.

At the Atlantic, Derek Thompson explains How the Richest 400 People in America Got So Rich. As you might have guessed already, they didn’t do it by actually, you know, working hard.

The New York Daily News has learned that Romney is already practicing for the first presidential debate, which is still 13 weeks away.

Romney sources told the Daily News that during a three-day retreat he hosted late last month for big-time Republican contributors and party mandarins at Park City, Utah, the candidate also found time to squeeze in the first two rounds of what staffers call “debate prep.”

Romney convened six to eight campaign aides around a conference table at the elegant Chateaux at Silver Lake. They sorted through a variety of topics sure to come up in the three Presidential debates, like the state of the economy and the war in Afghanistan, and kicked around the best “test responses” to questions they expect Obama and debate moderators will toss at the ex-Massachusetts governor.

More such encounters are expected over the summer, but what one source called “podium practices” with an Obama surrogate won’t happen for awhile — mainly because Romney doesn’t care for them all that much.
“There will be some role-playing but not as much as other Presidential candidates,” a Romney adviser said. “The traditional model doesn’t fit his style.”

Why doesn’t he just keep repeating that same non-response he used yesterday? That way he wouldn’t have to take a stand on anything.

If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, please go check out Joseph Cannon’s post on Romney’s ties to “Spooks and Death Squads.” I don’t know how else to express my reaction: I was gobsmacked by it!

If you’re fascinated by cults, as I am, you should read this lengthy article from the Hollywood Reporter on Katie Holmes’ breakup with Tom Cruise and her desire to keep her daughter away from Scientology. Here’s just a teensy taste:

Unlike [Nicole] Kidman, who kept quiet during her divorce from Cruise and has rarely commented publicly about it since, Holmes already has made a statement of sorts by filing her petition in New York and saying she wants full legal custody and primary residential custody of their Suri.

“Katie could blow Scientology wide open,” says [Marty] Rathbun, who was in the church for 22 years before leaving in late 2004. Rathbun, who calls himself an “independent Scientologist” and writes a candid blog popular with former members, was Cruise’s auditor and handled Cruise’s divorce from Kidman.

“If Tom’s smart, he won’t fight her on anything, even custody. He should just try to settle his way out of it,” says Rathbun. “She could press this sole-custody issue and litigate it, and that would be the biggest nightmare in the Church of Scientology’s history. It would be a circus they couldn’t survive.”

And speaking of cults, Alternet explains Mormon underwear–who isn’t curious about that?  Are Mormon Underwear Magic Between the Sheets?

It’s hard to get a balanced sample from active Mormons, because the Garments, as I said, are sacred, and catering to the curiosity of prurient outsiders would violate a covenant sworn during the same temple ceremony in which a Mormon gets authorized to wear the Garment. Unfortunately those who have been fantasizing about a romp in which layers of white cotton create the perfect sense of mystery (or bondage), exMormons offer few words of encouragement. Discomfort seems to be the predominant theme.

I was continuously battling wedgies–often in public; how the people would stare as I would try to wrestle crumpled material out of my crack. Lady DB

If you have ever worn the modern ones you should appreciate the distance these have come. When I first got married they came in a one piece get up with a wide neck so you could step into them. The back had a split crotch (not the kind in kinky panties) but this huge wide sloppy split that would separate under your clothes, leaving a draft in your nether region much of the time. The little panel they sew into the ladies special part was so poorly designed that it would roll and twist till you felt like you were skewered by a roll of old toilet paper. Insanad

Of all of the things about Mo-dom, the thing I miss the least is the underwear. Zapotec

Theologically, Mormon undergarments are said to be symbols of a covenant between God and the believer. Initiates pantomime their own death should they violate this sacred trust. The underwear have sacred symbols drawn from the Masonic Order into which Joseph Smith was initiated shortly before he proclaimed God’s desire that people wear the Garment. True believing Mormons avoid allowing Garments to touch the ground. They may cut off and burn the symbols when a Garment itself is worn out.

There’s much much more info at the link.

At Truthdig, Robert Scheer writes about the LIBOR scandal: The Crime of the Century.

Forget Bernie Madoff and Enron’s Ken Lay—they were mere amateurs in financial crime. The current Libor interest rate scandal, involving hundreds of trillions in international derivatives trade, shows how the really big boys play. And these guys will most likely not do the time because their kind rewrites the law before committing the crime.

Modern international bankers form a class of thieves the likes of which the world has never before seen. Or, indeed, imagined. The scandal over Libor—short for London interbank offered rate—has resulted in a huge fine for Barclays Bank and threatens to ensnare some of the world’s top financers. It reveals that behind the world’s financial edifice lies a reeking cesspool of unprecedented corruption. The modern-day robber barons pillage with a destructive abandon totally unfettered by law or conscience and on a scale that is almost impossible to comprehend.

How to explain a $450 million settlement for one bank whose defense, in a plea bargain worked out with regulators in London and Washington, is that every institution in their elite financial circle was doing it? Not just Barclays but JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and others are now being investigated on suspicion of manipulating the Libor rate, so critical to a $700 trillion derivatives market.

Read the rest at the Truthdig.

I hope you found something here that appeals to you. Now what are your reading recommendations?