It’s been a long time since I posted Fat Cat Art by Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat / FatCatArt.com. Dakinikat posted a comment on Thursday about St. Gertrude, the patron saint of cats, whose feast day is the same as St. Patrick’s day. I was looking for paintings of her when I came across this one at the Fat Cat Art site. The other images in this post are also by Petrova and her late beloved ginger cat Zarathustra.
The Ukraine war rages on, as Putin continues to commit ghastly war crimes by attacking civilians. Reading about what’s happening, let alone watching the images on TV is horrifying. It’s a terribly helpless feeling, and there’s a temptation to want the U.S. to get more actively involved, but that is simply impossible.
Last night on MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell gave a powerful explanation of what the U.S. trying to enforce a no fly zone over Ukraine would mean. You can watch it on The Last Word website. It lasts about 7 minutes. Basically, O’Donnell said that the very idea is a fantasy and that a no fly zone has never been enforced against a nuclear power. It would mean U.S. and Russian pilots being shot down and killed and would also involve U.S. planes flying over Russian territory. I recommend watching it if you didn’t see it last night.
For the latest news on Ukraine, I recommend The Guardian’s summary of the latest updates: Russia-Ukraine war: what we know on day 24 of the invasion.
- Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy says the time has come for peace talks, warning that it will otherwise take generations for Russia to recover from losses suffered during the war. He released a video address saying Ukraine wanted meaningful and honest negotiations with Moscow on peace and security without delay, Reuters reported. “The time has come for a meeting – it is time to talk.” Zelenskiy said Russian forces were deliberately blocking humanitarian supplies to cities under attack.
- Ukraine’s position is unchanged in talks with Russia, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said. Earlier today, a member of Russia’s negotiating team said Moscow and Kyiv were most aligned on Ukraine’s neutrality and giving up on joining Nato. Podolyak accused Russian statements of attempting “to provoke tension in the media”.
- Russia says it has used a hypersonic weapon for the first time, to destroy an underground military depot in western Ukraine. Hypersonic missiles are fast weapons that can evade detection by missile defence systems. The defence ministry said it had destroyed a large underground depot for missiles and aircraft ammunition in the Ivano-Frankivsk region.
- Ukraine’s interior minster told Associated Press it would take years to find and defuse all of the unexploded ordnance from the country. Denys Monastyrsky said: “A huge number of shells and mines have been fired at Ukraine and a large part haven’t exploded. They remain under the rubble and pose a real threat. It will take years, not months, to defuse them.”
- Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, praised Fox News for its coverage of the war in Ukraine during an in-studio interview with the Russian state-controlled RT network. “We know the manners and the tricks that are being used by the western countries to manipulate media … If you take the United States, only Fox News is trying to present some alternative point of view,” he said.
Click the link for more updates.
In other news, Republicans are of course trying to smear Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson and it is sickening.
Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post: Opinion: How low will the GOP go in taking on Ketanji Brown Jackson? Josh Hawley lets us know.
“I’ve noticed an alarming pattern when it comes to Judge Jackson’s treatment of sex offenders, especially those preying on children,” Hawley tweeted. “I’m concerned that this [is] a record that endangers our children.” [….]
In the cherry-picked, context-free Hawley-verse, Jackson has been lying in wait to foist this child-endangerment scheme on the country since her law school days. Count one is her writing as a student editor on the Harvard Law Review, about sex-offender registries, DNA databanks and civil-commitment laws that states were busy enacting.
In her article, Jackson grappled with the tension between constitutional limits on permissible punishment and the community’s need for self-protection. Given conservatives’ focus on analyzing the text of a law rather than divining lawmakers’ intent, you might have thought that Hawley would cheer Jackson’s argument that in assessing the constitutionality of sex offender laws, “courts have relied too heavily on the legislatures’ intent.” But no.
Instead, Hawley wrenches a few lines out of context. “As far back as her time in law school, Judge Jackson has questioned making convicts register as sex offenders — saying it leads to ‘stigmatization and ostracism.’ ”
Hello, Senator? That is in a section headlined “The Critics” that outlines the views of the statute’s opponents. Hawley might just have easily quoted from the previous section — “commitment legislation literally immobilizes dangerous sexual deviants and, thus, presumably promotes both immediate and long-term public safety.”
And that’s just from Jackson’s law school days. Hawley also attacks Jackson for supporting a review of minimum sentencing guidelines for child porn along with every other member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Finally he criticizes her work as a judge:
The final count against Jackson involves how she, in Hawley’s assessment, “put her troubling views into action. In every single child porn case for which we can find records, Judge Jackson deviated from the federal sentencing guidelines in favor of child porn offenders.”
Sounds terrible, right? Except because the guidelines are so outdated and therefore unfair, that’s what judges do in almost every case — 70 percent, according to the latest statistics.
According to data compiled by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, judges imposed below-guidelines sentences in nearly 80 percoent of child pornography cases in the District of Columbia, where Jackson was a trial court judge before being elevated to the appeals court. In Missouri, Hawley’s home state, judges imposed sentences below the guidelines in more than 77 percent of cases.
For more background on Jackson’s record on these issues, you can read this article by Tierney Sneed at CNN: GOP senators push misleading portrayal of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s record on child porn cases.
After Hawley posted a Twitter thread enumerating his false accusations, right wing “news” outlet OAN took the smears even further. Media Matters: Baseless OAN attack on Ketanji Brown Jackson echoes QAnon conspiracy theory.
Following Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) Twitter rant yesterday against Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a segment on OAN took his unfounded and misleading attacks against her record in a more deranged direction. The host and her guest falsely accused Jackson of being “kind” to pedophiles, echoing the long-running QAnon conspiracy theory accusing liberal elites of engaging in pedophilia.
During the March 17 segment on OAN’s Tipping Point, host Kara McKinney outlined the conspiratorial accusations against Jackson before RedState editor Brandon Morse immediately dove into QAnon-like commentary about what he described as “the pedophilia problem that is currently happening in the left”
Here’s what Morse had to say:
Morse claimed that the “corporate media” is ignoring this issue because of self-interest:
They have been doing their absolute best to try to eliminate any substantial talk about the pedophilia problem that is currently in the left and especially the radical left. They have been trying to make this almost a normal thing for some time. And if they come down hard on it, then it’ll reinforce the idea to society that pedophilia is a bad thing. And it is a very bad thing. It should be come down on hard. But they’re not.
And I’m afraid that the reason that they’re not doing this is because there’s probably more pedophiles, or at least people who are friendly to pedophiles out there, than we might think in positions of power, especially on the left. You know, you had a ton of people suddenly go into hiding or shut up, you know, once Jeffrey Epstein was back in the spotlight for this. And it’s scary to think that you have a lot of these leftists, these Democrats, politicians, activists, media figures who have been caught, or who have been trying to ease the pain of any of these pedophiles who are to be — who should be suffering for their crimes. You see this a lot, lately.
And it’s scary to think that this new judge that’s come up here is one of these people who is going to be very kind to them.
It sounds like the upcoming hearings on Jackson’s nomination are going to be an embarrassing clown show.
From the AP, some horrifying news from South Carolina: Firing-squad executions get the greenlight in South Carolina.
South Carolina has given the greenlight to firing-squad executions, a method codified into state law last year after a decade-long pause in carrying out death sentences because of the state’s inability to procure lethal injection drugs.
The state Corrections Department said Friday that renovations have been completed on the death chamber in Columbia and that the agency had notified Attorney General Alan Wilson that it was able to carry out a firing-squad execution.
Lawmakers set about tweaking state law to get around the lethal injection drug situation. Legislation that went into effect in May made the electric chair the state’s primary means of execution while giving inmates the option of choosing death by firing squad or lethal injection, if those methods are available.
During South Carolina’s lengthy debate, Democratic state Sen. Dick Harpootlian — a prosecutor-turned-criminal-defense lawyer — introduced the firing squad option. He argued that it presented “the least painful” execution method available.
“The death penalty is going to stay the law here for a while,” Harpootlian said. “If we’re going to have it, it ought to be humane.”
According to officials, the death chamber now also includes a metal chair, with restraints, in the corner of the room in which inmates will sit if they choose execution by firing squad. That chair faces a wall with a rectangular opening, 15 feet away, through which the three shooters will fire their weapons.
State officials also have created protocols for carrying out the executions. The three shooters, all volunteers who are employees of the Corrections Department, will have rifles loaded with live ammunition, with their weapons trained on the inmate’s heart.
A hood will be placed over the head of the inmate, who will be given the opportunity to make a last statement.
Finally, the House isn’t keen on the Senate’s permanent daylight saving time bill, according to Dan Diamond of The Washington Post: Senate plan for permanent daylight saving time faces doubts in the House.
The House is set to hit the snooze button on the Senate’s plan to permanently change the nation’s clocks.
“It could be weeks — or it could be months” before House Democratic leaders decide whether to tee up a vote on eliminating the biannual clock changes that have governed daily life in most states for decades, said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D.-N.J.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee that oversees time change policies. While the Sunshine Protection Act, which unanimously passed the Senate on Tuesday, would nationally shift clocks an hour later to maximize daylight, some doctors have argued that adopting permanent standard time would be a healthier option and better align with humans’ natural rhythms.
Pallone, who held a hearing last week on daylight saving time, said he shares the Senate’s goal to end the “spring forward” and “fall back” clock changes linked to more strokes, heart attacks and car accidents. But he wants to collect more information, asking for a long-delayed federal analysis on how time changes might affect productivity, traffic and energy costs, among other issues.
“There isn’t a consensus, in my opinion in the House, or even generally at this point, about whether we should have standard versus daylight saving as the permanent time,” Pallone said. “Immediately after the Senate passed the bill, I had members come up to me on the floor and say, ‘Oh, don’t do that. I want the standard time,’ ” he added, declining to identify the lawmakers.
The White House also has not communicated its position on permanent daylight saving time, congressional aides said. While President Biden, as a freshman senator, voted for that in December 1973 — the last time that Congress attempted to institute the policy nationwide — he also witnessed the near-immediate collapse of support amid widespread reports that darker winter mornings were contributing to more car accidents and worsened moods. Members of Congress introduced nearly 100 pieces of legislation to change or do away with the law before it was finally repealed in October 1974.
A few more stories to check out:
The Washington Post: It’s 70 degrees warmer than normal in eastern Antarctica. Scientists are flabbergasted.
Greg Bluestein at Politico: How Brian Kemp Resisted Trump’s Pressure to Overturn the Georgia Election Results.
That’s it for me today. What are you thinking and reading about? Take care Sky Dancers!
I had quite the weekend. It was so hectic I managed to miss a wedding because I got the dates totally confused. I’m trying to undo some of my karma this morning and that’s definitely going on the list. I’m so scatter brained these days I don’t even feel like me at times. I had friends in from NYC and lots of Hillary work to do. It’s just been super crazy here.
Most everyone knows that the New Orleans Hillary peeps–including me–have been making phone calls to GOTV. We’ve had all kinds of stuff going on on the ground related to actually getting people to the polls. I’ve not gotten any calls from the other side but several folks showed up for a march around the French Quarter for Bernie. As you probably know, our city is like 60% black. There might have been 100 or so people in the march. I only saw white faces there. This continues to be sadly telling.
However, I can tell you about the time I’ve spent with the Hillary campaign this last few weeks. I’m so proud of the diversity of her supporter base. I was on the phone yesterday and there were two of us aging boomers in the room. Both of us were women. One white. One black. The diversity of the young supporters was amazing and there was a good size group. There were two Asian Americans, a Hispanic, three young black women, a young white woman and a black man. I know that many were from the GLBT community too. They were all millennials, so don’t believe it when they say there are no young people supporting Hillary. She has a rainbow of them right down here in New Orleans. I also spent the evening talking to Dr. Son in law who is a strong Hillary supporter along with Dr. Daughter. As you know, Dr. Daughter had a Japanese Grandmother and Dr. Son-in-law’s family hails from the Bengal region of India. Both are avid Hillary supporters.
BB mentioned the stages of grief. I’m pretty sure folks I know in the Sanders camp are somewhat stuck between denial and anger. The South Carolina primary should’ve been a wake up call for the narrowing path to victory for their candidate. The Team fighting here for Hillary on the ground definitely matches these kinds of numbers.
A bruising, nearly 48-point loss to Hillary Clinton in South Carolina on Saturday night dramatically narrowed the path forward for Bernie Sanders, raising serious doubts about his ability to win the delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination.
South Carolina will widen Clinton’s delegate lead, which stood at one after her Nevada win on Feb. 20. But more significantly, the contest here demonstrated that the Vermont senator has failed to make any headway at all with African-American voters in the South. Even with 200 paid Sanders staffers on the ground and nearly $2 million in television spending, Clinton swept the black vote by a 5-to-1 ratio, according to exit polls. Among black voters 65 and older, Clinton won by a stunning 96 percent to 3 percent.
“When we stand together, there is no barrier too big to break,” Clinton said at her victory rally in Columbia, where, for the first time on a 2016 election night, she took the stage without Bill or Chelsea Clinton by her side. “Tomorrow, we take this campaign national.”
Now, heading into Super Tuesday, when 11 states will cast ballots on March 1, Sanders will face possibly insurmountable contests in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Virginia, all states with sizable black populations in which he has not invested as much time or money.
“Delegates determine the presidential nomination, and I don’t see a path for Sanders to get there,” said Jeff Berman, a consultant to the Clinton campaign who ran Barack Obama’s 2008 delegate strategy.
Running through a best-case scenario for Sanders, Clinton operatives said they expect Sanders could win Colorado, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Vermont — states tailor-made for the democratic socialist because they hold caucuses, are predominantly white, located in New England or have a history of electing progressives.
But even if Sanders manages to pull out significant wins in all five, the delegate math will make it difficult for Sanders to catch up: They represent only one-third of the delegates up for grabs on Tuesday. And the Clinton campaign has invested heavily in states like Colorado and Minnesota in order to limit Sanders’ margins.
Sanders’ operatives said they are looking beyond Super Tuesday, to the friendlier terrain of Kansas, Nebraska and Maine to deliver them wins. But by then, Clinton operatives predicted, it could be too little, too late to close the delegate gap.
BB has been insistent that Mass. will go for Hillary. It seems that recent polls back her up.
Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton holds an eight-point lead over Bernie Sanders in a new poll of Massachusetts Democratic primary voters, suggesting that the Vermont senator needs to attract significant support during the final push to eke out a much-needed win in Tuesday’s Massachusetts presidential primary.
Clinton draws 50 percent of the vote, while Sanders picks up 42 percent and eight percent remain undecided, according to the Suffolk University poll released Sunday. The poll was conducted Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
I expect record turnout to continue with the nation’s Black voters because they know what’s at stake. The dismantling of the Voting Rights Act is a not something trivial. This will not go away. Here in Louisiana and in New Orleans, turning out the Black vote is important. The community is coming together for Hillary as she stands as the symbol and the promise of continuing President Obama’s legacy. This is something not lost on any of us that were active in 2007 and 2008 from either the Clinton or Obama Camps.
As voters in South Carolina’s Democratic primary cast ballots that would ultimately lead to a landslide victory for Hillary Clinton against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton deployed surrogates in an attempt to expand that winning strategy to Louisiana.
Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stumped for Clinton in Louisiana, hoping to increase turnout among black voters.
That bloc proved key to Clinton’s win in South Carolina. There she picked up 86 percent of the African-American vote, according to ABC News exit polling data.
Nutter was in Baton Rouge Friday (Feb. 26) to host a round table discussion with business leaders before campaigning with Landrieu at Dillard University.
Foxx, who joined the Obama administration in 2013, spent Sunday touring African-American churches in New Orleans.
There’s still one HUGE deal. The Donald and his goosestepping followers really trouble me. There are two things that have popped up that are just beyond the pale. Let’s start with this one:
Don Trump Jr. said he would happily pay for some of his father’s black critics to leave the United States.
The Republican presidential candidate’s son appeared Monday morning with his brother, Eric Trump, on “Fox and Friends” to discuss the “Super Tuesday” primary elections and the concerted attacks on their father by his GOP rivals.
And then there’s this one. His earpiece made him all confused about not knowing about David Duke and his association with the KKK. This guy blames every one and every thing for his own damned ignorance, I swear!
Donald Trump on Monday blamed a poor earpiece for sparking a misunderstanding over white nationalist David Duke’s support of the GOP presidential front-runner.
“I’m sitting in a house in Florida with a very bad earpiece they gave me,” he told hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s “Today” show.
“I sit down and I have a lousy earpiece provided by them,” Trump continued. “You could hardly hear what [CNN anchor Jake Tapper] was saying.
“What I heard was ‘various groups.’ I have no problem disavowing groups, but I’d at least like to know who they are. It’d be very unfair disavowing a group if they shouldn’t be disavowed.”
Trump waved off questions about Duke during a Sunday morning appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He repeatedly told Tapper he is unaware of the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard’s background and stances.
The outspoken billionaire on Monday lashed out at CNN for ignoring his multiple rejections of Duke’s support over the weekend.
“I’ve disavowed David Duke all weekend long on Facebook and Twitter, but it’s obviously never enough,” Trump said. “I disavowed David Duke the day before in a major news conference.
They weren’t hard questions to answer.
“Do you condemn David Duke? And the Ku Klux Klan?”
A simple “yes” would have worked. But on Sunday, Donald Trump swatted away the easy answers and instead feigned ignorance about the KKK and its most infamous Grand Wizard. The Republican frontrunner’s failure to provide what should have been a simple answer has raised even more disturbing questions about the man who is on course to lock down the GOP’s nomination for president.
The first question is why would Trump pretend to be so ignorant of American history that he refused to pass judgment on the Ku Klux Klan before receiving additional information? What kind of facts could possibly mitigate a century of sins committed by a violent hate group whose racist crimes terrorized Americans and placed a shameful blot on this nation’s history?
Why would the same man who claims to have “the world’s greatest memory”say “I don’t know anything about David Duke” just two days after he condemned the former Klansman in a nationally televised press conference? And with that amazing memory, how could Donald Trump have forgotten that he himself refused to run for president as a Reform Party nominee in 2000 because “Klansman” David Duke was a member of that same party?
These are questions that have no good answers for a Republican Party on the verge of nominating a man who sounds more like a Dixiecrat from the 1950s than the kind of nominee the GOP needs four years after losing Hispanics by 44 percent, Asian-Americans by 47 percent, and black Americans by 87 percent.
As I said, ask any black voter in the South and you’ll hear exactly what’s at stake. Women, minorities, and the GLBT community do not want to go back to the kind of American that Trump’s voters represent because we all know what that means. Will the Republican Party really implode? How far can Trump go in the General and what will he say and do once he faces former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? This is Philip Rucker and Robert Costa writing at WAPO.
The implosion over Donald Trump’s candidacy that Republicans had hoped to avoid arrived so virulently this weekend that many party leaders vowed never to back the billionaire and openly questioned whether the GOP could come together this election year.
At a moment when Republicans had hoped to begin taking on Hillary Clinton — who is seemingly on her way to wrapping up the Democratic nomination — the GOP has instead become consumed by a crisis over its identity and core values that is almost certain to last through the July party convention, if not the rest of the year.
A campaign full of racial overtones and petty, R-rated put-downs grew even uglier Sunday after Trump declined repeatedly in a CNN interview to repudiate the endorsement of him by David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Trump had disavowed Duke at a news conference on Friday, but he stammered when asked about Duke on Sunday.
Marco Rubio, who has been savaging Trump as a “con man” for three days, responded by saying that Trump’s defiance made him “unelectable.” The senator from Florida said at a rally in Northern Virginia, “We cannot be the party that nominates someone who refuses to condemn white supremacists.”
The fracas comes as the presidential race enters a potentially determinative month of balloting, beginning with primaries and caucuses in 11 states on Tuesday. As the campaign-trail rhetoric grew noxious over the weekend, a sense of fatalism fell over the Republican firmament, from elected officials and figureheads to major donors and strategists.
“This is an existential choice,” said former senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota, who is backing Rubio. Asked how the party could unite, Coleman said: “It gets harder every day when you hear things like not disavowing the KKK and David Duke. It’s not getting easier; it’s getting more difficult. . . . I’m hopeful the party won’t destroy itself.”
The choice for voters is not simply one of preference but rather a fundamental one about the direction they want to take the country, with the insurgent Trump promising utter transformation.
“For many Republicans, Trump is more than just a political choice,” said Kevin Madden, a veteran operative who advised 2012 nominee Mitt Romney. “It’s a litmus test for character.”
Madden, like some of his peers, said he could never vote for Trump. If he is the nominee, Madden said, “I’m prepared to write somebody in so that I have a clear conscience.”
More splintering came late Sunday when freshman Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who has been a vocal Trump critic, declared on Twitter that if the reality TV star is nominated, he will “look for some 3rd candidate — a conservative option, a Constitutionalist.”
With all Trumps’ issues, I agree with Amanda Marcotte on this one. He’s not less crazy than the Cruz and Rubio boys. I recommend reading her latest just for the linky goodness. She’s documented some pretty unpalatable stuff.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I like Trump — I hate him with the passion of a thousand burning suns — or that I want him to be president. But yes, I think he should win the Republican nomination. He’s run the best campaign, one that speaks to what Republican voters want to hear, and, by that measure, he deserves to win the nomination, so that Hillary Clinton can wipe the floor with him in November.This is not a popular opinion, and not just with the establishment Republicans who can’t help acting like the main problem with Trump is he puts his dirty shoes on the couch. The common wisdom in most of the media — conservative, mainstream and liberal — is that a Trump nomination would be a ruinous thing, a blow to both the Republican Party and the political system as we know it. To which I can’t help but say, “So what?”I don’t agree with Trump supporters on, well, almost anything, but I can’t help sharing in the pleasure they take with the way that Trump’s very existence exposes the smarmy two-faced hypocrisy of the modern Republican Party. Modern conservatism is built on a base of protecting men’s dominance over women, white people’s dominance over people of color and rich people’s dominance over everyone else, but it’s generally considered impolite to say so bluntly. Instead, it’s standard for Republicans to pretend that policies obviously designed to screw people over are meant to help. That puts journalists in this terrible situation of having to pretend that Republicans mean well, since it’s generally considered impolitic to call someone a liar.Trump doesn’t play that game, at least not as much, and it is nakedly obvious that this, and not his actual beliefs and policies, is what angers many of his detractors. Take, for instance, Jonah Goldberg of the National Review on Fox News recently, complaining that Trump is “completely overturning what the Republican reset was supposed to be about after 2012, which was this idea that it was going to be a more consistently conservative but more inclusive and nicer toned party.”“And instead it’s going to be a less conservative but meaner toned and less inclusive party,” he added.
To which I must again say, “So what?” People who value kindness and inclusivity already have a party. They’re called the Democrats.
I can certainly attest to that down here in the Mississippi River melting pot of America called New Orleans. The line’s in Hillary speech that got the most applause for the night were just about that. Our country is a great country but unless is kind and inclusive of all its peoples, we’re not being the sort’ve of country that’s the shining beacon on a hill.
So, you’re seeing pictures of the folks working for Hillary here in New Orleans. I added one of the Honorable Anthony Foxx for good measure. I see lots of YOUNG people with energy, smiling faces, and enthusiasm!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today? Be sure to holler out about the upcoming primaries in your states! I know we’ve got lots of Sky Dancers out there ready to vote for Hillary this week and this month!!!
The main stage debate of the Republican party Presidential wannabes will showcase seven candidates. Four candidates were sent to the kiddie table but Rand Paul has decided to stay home since this time he couldn’t whine himself out of his basement level poll numbers . The main debates starts at 9 pm eastern. It’s on the Fox Business News Network so be prepared to hunt for it or to stream it. (EWWWWWWWWWW)
Seven Republican candidates are set to clash in the sixth GOP presidential debate Thursday night, hosted by FOX Business in Charleston, SC. The debate, slated to begin at 9pm ET, will feature Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich.
Another four candidates who did not meet the network’s public polling requirements qualified for an undercard debate at 6pm ET: Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. But Paul has announced that he will boycott the event, accusing the network and the RNC of picking winners and losers in the GOP field.
Fiorina already said something completely objectionable in the currently running kiddie debate.
Unlike another woman in this race, I WAS actually spending time with my husband.”
Newsweek is live blogging both the debates here and she’s a mean one, Ms. Grinch.
“Unlike another woman in this race, I actually like spending time with my husband.” Thus did former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina open the sixth Republican primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina, on Thursday. It was a barb aimed squarely at Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, whom pundits and analysts expect to be a popular topic of discussion throughout the evening. Fiorina also criticized Clinton’s response to the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead—an event recently immortalized in a factually dubious film directed by Michael Bay, of Transformers fame.
“We should stop letting refugees into this country,” Fiorina continued. A similar proposal to refuse refugees, floated by Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, earned him a bump in the polls, but has garnered widespread criticism from the political class.
As the night went on, Fiorina did not let up on Clinton. “Mrs. Clinton, you cannot wipe a server with a towel,” she said, referring to the Democratic candidate’s ongoing private email server scandal.
As this state prepared to host GOP primary debates on Thursday and next month, many Republicans are rooting for South Carolina to reclaim its kingmaker role in 2016.
Polls currently show celebrity businessman Donald Trump with a commanding lead, followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. But voters here are widely considered up for grabs, likely to be influenced by earlier contests in Iowa and New Hampshire and the unpredictable 11 days of the campaign after those votes and before the Feb. 20 GOP primary.
Candidates who are struggling in Iowa—such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose father and brother won victories in South Carolina that helped them clinch the nomination—are jockeying for better-than-expected showings in New Hampshire, hopefully followed by a strong finish in South Carolina.
“It’s a chance to reset the race,” said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who quit running for president last month and has questioned Mr. Trump’s ability to build a winning national coalition in the general election. “My goal for South Carolina Republicans is get back to our roots. Let’s pick a conservative who can actually win the race because winning matters.”
South Carolina Republicans say they have had better luck picking candidates who end up winning the GOP nomination because the electorate is broader and more representative of the country than in the smaller states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
There are evangelical Christians in the northwestern part of the state near Bob Jones University in Greenville; affluent, more moderate professionals and retirees around the capital in Columbia and along the Atlantic coast in Charleston, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, and foreign policy hawks concentrated around the military bases in the central and southern parts of the state.
“South Carolina is a test for every facet of a campaign,” Mr. Moore said. “It’s not just about organization. It’s not just about message. It’s about winning a state with a broad and diverse electorate, so really it’s a test if you can win beyond South Carolina.”
In particular, South Carolina looks like a gateway to a potentially pivotal cluster of nearby southern states that will vote on March 1.
So, pull up a seat and join us for a lively discussion!!
You’ve probably seen the latest police violence story out of South Carolina. From Mother Jones: Disturbing Video Shows School Cop Body Slam and Drag a Black Female Student.
Authorities in Richland County, South Carolina, are investigating a video that surfaced Monday showing a uniformed officer aggressively confronting a high school student. Local station WIS-TV reports that county sheriff’s deputies are investigating the incident, which took place on Monday at Spring Valley High School, according to school officials. The video, which appears to have been recorded on a cellphone by a classmate, shows a white male officer standing over a black female student sitting at her desk; moments later he grabs the student and flips her on her back. After dragging her across the floor, the officer says, “Hands behind your back—give me your hands.” The video has no additional context as to what led to or followed the altercation.
“Parents are heartbroken as this is just another example of the intolerance that continues to be of issue in Richland County School District Two, particularly with families and children of color,” a local black parents group wrote in a statement responding to the video.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told WIS-TV that the school resource officer (SRO) was responding to a student who was refusing to leave class. “The student was told she was under arrest for disturbing school and given instructions, which she again refused,” Lott said. “The video then shows the student resisting and being arrested by the SRO.”
Here’s the video.
Why on earth was that level of violence necessary? It’s not even clear what this young girl did to cause the teach to order her to leave class. From WISTV10: Sheriff contacts FBI, DOJ to investigate violent incident involving deputy at Spring Valley.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says he’s asked the FBI to investigate an incident involving a school resource officer at Spring Valley High School.
Monday night Lott called the Special Agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations for South Carolina, Dave Thomas to request an independent investigation of the incident. Tuesday morning the Sheriff followed up with a formal written request to U.S. Attorney William Nettles and Thomas for the US Justice Department asking for a formal investigation.
Richland School District 2 school officials have banned the officer from the district in response to a video supposedly taken at Spring Valley High School showing the officer slamming and dragging a student from her desk.
School officials confirmed the incident happened on Monday between a female student and school resource officer Ben Fields.
You can watch other angles of the violent attack at the link.
Sheriff Lott says he wants to know what happened beyond the video. He said his department will cooperate with the federal investigation.
“The public wants answers. I want answers too and we’re going to get them very quickly, and we’re going to make sure the public knows what we’re going to do and why we’re going to do it. There’s nothing that we’re going to hide at the Sheriff’s Department,” Lott said. “His actions reflect on all of us and I’m about as upset as anybody can be right now.”
Fields will not be back at any school pending the results of an investigation, Lt. Wilson said. Fields is currently on unpaid leave.
According to Heavy.com, the girl was using her cell phone in class and refused to get off it. Then a teacher and administrator told her to leave class. I have to believe there was more going on between this girl and the teacher/administration. We’ll probably learn more in the days to come. Also from Heavy, a student named Aaron Johnson who was in class when the incident happened said the girl was new to the school and was “sitting quietly.”
Johnson said, “When I asked (their teacher) Mr. Long if he felt bad for what happened to her … his reply was ‘she should have cooperated.’”
He added, “I think we were all in shock and afraid they would say something to us, he put another girl in handcuffs for standing up, like standing up for the girl.”
Apparently a boy in the class was also arrested and was still being held yesterday. Read more about Ben Fields past history and more videos at the Heavy link.
The family that owns Hobby Lobby created some bad Karma for itself with its lawsuit over having to provide access to birth control in its health insurance plans, and no it’s coming back to bite them. Exclusive from The Daily Beast: Feds Investigate Hobby Lobby Boss for Illicit Artifacts.
In 2011, a shipment of somewhere between 200 to 300 small clay tablets on their way to Oklahoma City from Israel was seized by U.S. Customs agents in Memphis. The tablets were inscribed in cuneiform—the script of ancient Assyria and Babylonia, present-day Iraq—and were thousands of years old. Their destination was the compound of the Hobby Lobby corporation, which became famous last year for winning a landmark Supreme Court case on religious freedom and government mandates. A senior law enforcement source with extensive knowledge of antiquities smuggling confirmed that these ancient artifacts had been purchased and were being imported by the deeply-religious owners of the crafting giant, the Green family of Oklahoma City. For the last four years, law enforcement sources tell The Daily Beast, the Greens have been under federal investigation for the illicit importation of cultural heritage from Iraq.
These tablets, like the other 40,000 or so ancient artifacts owned by the Green family, were destined for the Museum of the Bible, the giant new museum funded by the Greens, slated to open in Washington, D.C., in 2017. Both the seizure of the cuneiform tablets and the subsequent federal investigation were confirmed to us by Cary Summers, the president of the Museum of the Bible.
If the investigation ends with a decision to prosecute, on either criminal or civil charges, the Greens may be forced to forfeit the tablets to the government. There may also be a fine involved. The Green family, who successfully forced the federal government to legally recognize their personal moral standards, now find themselves on the other side of the docket, under suspicion of having attempted to contravene U.S. laws.
It’s not yet clear if a crime has been committed, but the fact that the investigation has gone on so long suggests that some of the antiquities may have been illegally purchased and imported. Read the rest at the link.
Ben Carson has surpassed Donald Trump and now narrowly leads the Republican field in the race for the nomination in the latest national CBS News/New York Times Poll.
Twenty-six percent of Republican primary voters back Carson, giving him a four-point edge over Trump (22 percent). Support for Carson has quadrupled since August.
The rest of the Republican presidential candidates lag far behind in single digits. Marco Rubio is now in third place (eight percent), followed by Jeb Bush (seven percent) and Carly Fiorina (seven percent). All other candidates are at four percent or lower.
Carson has made gains across many key Republican groups. In a reversal from earlier this month, he is now ahead of Trump among women and is running neck and neck with him among men. Carson’s support among evangelicals has risen and he now leads Trump by more than 20 points with this group.
Carson performs well among conservative Republicans and those who identify as Tea partiers. Trump does well with moderates and leads Carson among those without a college degree – although Trump had a larger advantage with non-college graduates earlier this month.
Perhaps we’re going to go through a cycle that resembles what happened in the Republican race in 2012–except that the cycles are longer. Could it be that Donald Trump is on his way out? Of course Trump is claiming the polls are mistaken. From Mediaite:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump explained on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that the reason rival Ben Carson had surpassed him in recent polls was because they weren’t “scientific.” ….
“I think you have to understand polls…” Trump said. “I believe in polls. I generally believe in polls. The thing with these polls, they are all so different. They are coming from all over the lot where one guy is up here, somebody else is up there, you see swings of ten and twelve points immediately, even the same day.”
Trump actually may have a good point. Anyway, the problem with Ben Carson taking over the lead is that he is even scarier than Trump. Paul Waldman at The Week: How Ben Carson’s snoozy demeanor masks his bonkers views.
Ben Carson is calm — calm like a cool spring breeze, or a long nap on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The Republican presidential hopeful speaks softly and slowly. He doesn’t wave his arms about. He shows barely any emotion at all. But Ben Carson is also the possessor of ideas that are positively bonkers, not just about policy questions, but about the world and how it works.
This odd combination of a gentle manner and extremist ideas seems to be just what a healthy chunk of the Republican electorate is looking for. Carson is running a close second to Donald Trump nationally, and leading in Iowa. As The New York Times recently reported, Iowa voters in particular are enraptured with Carson’s manner. “That smile and his soft voice makes people very comforted,” said one farmer. “I believe someone as mild-mannered and gentlemanly as Ben Carson is just about the only kind of person that could” get things done in Washington, said another Iowan.
You’d think they were talking about someone with moderate views who’d be able to get along and work with anyone, not someone who wants to outlaw abortion even in cases of rape and incest, thinks we should ditch Medicare, and holds to all manner of weird conspiracy theories. And that’s not to mention all the stuff the retired neurosurgeon says about slavery and Nazis, his belief that Muslims should be barred from the presidency unless they offer a public disavowal of their religion, or his latest proposal to turn the Department of Education into something that sounds like it comes out of China’s Cultural Revolution, in which he would have students report professors who displayed political bias to the government so universities’ funding could be cut.
Read the rest at The Week.
More interesting Ben Carson links:
Inside Higher Ed: Ben Carson explains how he would have education department identify and end “extreme views” on campus.
Dakinikat told me about this amazing and fascinating story about a historical find related to Thomas Jefferson. From NPR: Historic Chemistry Lab With Links To Thomas Jefferson Discovered Behind Wall.
A hidden chemistry lab was unearthed by a worker doing renovations to the iconic Rotunda at the University of Virginia, and school officials say the room is directly linked to the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, who helped design the building.
The “chemical hearth,” which dates back to the 1820s, is thought to be one of the few remaining in the world. It featured two sources of heat for conducting experiments and a system for pulling out fumes.
According to the University of Virginia press release, the room, described as “a semi-circular niche in the north end of the Lower East Oval Room,” was preserved because the walls of the hearth were sealed shut in the mid-1800s:
“The University of Virginia’s Rotunda still has its secrets, as conservators are discovering amid the building’s ongoing two-year renovation.
“One of them is a chemical hearth, part of an early science classroom. It had been sealed in one of the lower-floor walls of the Rotunda since the 1850s, and thus was protected from the 1895 fire that destroyed much of the building’s interior.
“Two small fireboxes of the hearth were uncovered in a 1970s renovation, but the hearth itself remained hidden until the current round of renovations. When preparing for the current renovations, workers examined some of the cavities in the walls and found the rest of the chemistry hearth.”
The discovery was made by Matt Scheidt, who is a project manager for the company overseeing the renovations to the rotunda, according to the Charlottesville Newsplex. Scheidt told the publication he wanted to know how thick the walls were.
What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of your Tuesday.
The Confederate Flag Debate in South Carolina
The South Carolina House has voted to remove the Confederate flag from the state capital grounds, according to The Charlotte Observer. The bill will now go to Governor Nikki Haley. Once she has signed it, I hope the flag will be taken down immediately.
The Confederate flag will leave the South Carolina State House grounds after five decades this week after the House overwhelmingly approved a bill to remove the Civil War icon early Thursday morning.
The House voted 94-20 to banish the flag from the Capitol after more than 12 hours of debate over the historic measure.
The bill now heads to Gov. Nikki Haley for her signature. Haley started the call for removing the flag in the days after nine African-Americans were shot and killed in a historic Charleston church last month.
“It is a new day in South Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state,” Haley said in a Facebook post.
If Haley signs the bill Thursday, the flag could be taken down Friday.
A two-thirds majority vote in the House was needed for final passage, a requirement of the the 2000 law that took the flag off the State House dome and put it next to the Confederate Soldier Monument on the north side of the Capitol.
The House gave final approval to the final two readings of the bill within minutes of each other at 1 a.m. Thursday. The Senate approved removing the flag on Tuesday.
Republicans fought tooth and nail, but
The House did not change the Senate bill after spending much of Wednesday considering amendments from Republicans who insisted on finding another way to honor the Confederate dead if the controversial banner was removed from the State House grounds.
More than 25 amendments were voted down or rejected before they came for a vote.
Democratic presidential contender Jim Webb, a former senator from Virginia, sought Thursday to clarify his views on the Confederate battle flag, saying it has “long been due to come down” from the capitol grounds in South Carolina.
Webb’s position was more opaque in a Facebook posting last month in which he called for respecting “the complicated history of the Civil War” at a time when emotions were running high following the shootings at an historic African American church in Charleston, S.C.
During an appearance Thursday on “CBS This Morning” — billed as Webb’s first interview since declaring as a long-shot presidential candidate last week — he spoke approvingly of the South Carolina legislature’s overnight vote to take the flag down.
“It assumed a lot of unfortunate racist and divisionist overtones during the civil rights era,” Webb said.
I don’t see how the flag could have been more racist or divisive in the 1960s that it was 100 years earlier when it represented the fight to preserve slavery and secession.
Speaking again of the “very complex history of the Civil War itself,” Webb cited a statistic that only 5 percent of whites in the South owned slaves and that four slave states remained in the union during the Civil War.
“If you were a young person being called to duty during that period, this was a very complicated decision to make, and we should remember that,” Webb said.
Whatever. These days, only 1% of the population wants to turn everyone else into serfs, and they have quite a bit of power to control the public dialogue.
The GOP Clown Car
The powers that be in the Republican Party are struggling to get fake presidential candidate Donald Trump under control, and they are doing a very poor job of it.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called presidential candidate Donald Trump and asked him to pull back his rhetoric on immigration, a source familiar with the conversation told NBC News on Wednesday.
The source, who asked not to be identified, said Priebus made the request to “tone it down” during an almost hour-long conversation covering a wide range of issues when he returned an earlier call from Trump.
Trump disputed that account on Twitter, saying that Priebus said during the call that he was “doing well.”
Hahahahahahahahaha!!! They’re going to need someone a lot more powerful than Priebus to get Trump to STFU.
According to The Washington Post: GOP leaders fear damage to party’s image as Donald Trump doubles down.
The head of the Republican National Committee, responding to demands from increasingly worried party leaders, spent nearly an hour Wednesday on the phone with Donald Trump, urging the presidential candidate to tone down his inflammatory comments about immigration that have infuriated a key election constituency.
The call from Chairman Reince Priebus, described by donors and consultants briefed on the conversation and confirmed by the RNC, underscores the extent to which Trump has gone from an embarrassment to a cause for serious alarm among top Republicans in Washington and nationwide.
But there is little they can do about the mogul and reality-television star, who draws sustenance from controversy and attention. And some fear that, with assistance from Democrats, Trump could become the face of the GOP.
Rather than backing down from his comments about illegal immigrants — whom he characterized as rapists and killers, among other things — Trump has amplified his remarks at every opportunity, including in a round of interviews Wednesday.
He insisted to NBC News that he has “nothing to apologize for” in his repeated remarks about Mexicans. But he also predicted that, if he secures the GOP nomination, “I’ll win the Latino vote.”
OMG! ROFLMAF! The Republican Party’s “image” is already shot to hell. I’m not sure even keeping Trump in the Clown Car can make it much worse.
Dana Millbank: Donald Trump is the monster the GOP created.
It has been amusing to watch the brands — the PGA, NBC, Macy’s, NASCAR, Univision, Serta — flee Donald Trump after his xenophobic remarks. Who even knew The Donald had a line of mattresses featuring Cool Action Dual Effects Gel Memory Foam?
But there is one entity that can’t dump Trump, no matter how hard it tries: the GOP. The Republican Party can’t dump Trump because Trump is the Republican Party.
One big Republican donor this week floated to the Associated Press the idea of having candidates boycott debates if the tycoon is onstage. Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham and other candidates have lined up to say, as Rick Perry put it, that “Donald Trump does not represent the Republican Party.”
But actually, he does represent the party’s views. He’s just more up front about them than the rest of the mealy mouthed GOP candidates.
But Trump has merely held up a mirror to the GOP. The man, long experience has shown, believes in nothing other than himself. He has, conveniently, selected the precise basket of issues that Republicans want to hear about — or at least a significant proportion of Republican primary voters. He may be saying things more colorfully than others when he talks about Mexico sending rapists across the border, but his views show that, far from being an outlier, he is hitting all the erogenous zones of the GOP electorate.
Anti-immigrant? Against Common Core education standards? For repealing Obamacare? Against same-sex marriage? Antiabortion? Anti-tax? Anti-China? Virulent in questioning President Obama’s legitimacy? Check, check, check, check, check, check, check and check.
More good stuff at the link. BTW, Trump is topping all other GOP candidates in the South Carolina PPP poll. What does that tell you?
PPP’s newest North Carolina poll finds that Donald Trump’s momentum just keeps on building. He’s the top choice of Republican primary voters in the state, getting 16% to 12% for Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, 11% for Mike Huckabee, 9% for Ben Carson and Marco Rubio, 7% for Rand Paul, 6% for Ted Cruz, 5% for Chris Christie, 4% for Carly Fiorina, 2% for Rick Perry, 1% each for Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Santorum, and less than 1% each for John Kasich and George Pataki.
Trump’s favorability rating in North Carolina is 55/32, much higher than we were finding in national polls prior to his entry into the race. Trump’s really caught fire with voters on the far right- 66% of ‘very conservative’ voters see him favorably to only 24% with a negative view of him. Trump is polling particularly well with younger voters (29%) and men (20%).
Another racist homophobe has the highest favorability rating in SC–Mike Huckabee at 65/19.
Another popular Clown Car passenger, Jeb Bush, has put his foot in his mouth once again. In an interview with New Hampshire’s ultra-conservative Manchester Union Leader, Bush recommended that “people should work longer hours.”
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Wednesday that in order to grow the economy “people should work longer hours” — a comment that the Bush campaign argues was a reference to underemployed part-time workers but which Democrats are already using to attack him….
He was answering a question about his plans for tax reform and responded:
“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours” and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”
Already the Democratic National Committee has pounced, releasing a statement that calls his remarks “easily one of the most out-of-touch comments we’ve heard so far this cycle,” adding that Bush would not fight for the middle class as president.
Read about Bush’s “clarification” at the Washington Post.
More News (links only)
Reuters, via Raw Story: Same-sex couples to get federal marriage benefits: attorney general.
Talking Points Memo: Matthews Blasts Cruz: SCOTUS ‘Seized’ 2000 Election, ‘You Did Not Complain’ (VIDEO).