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Friday, August 28, 2015

Jimmy and the vote

by digby

Rick Perlstein is working on a book about the late 70s and the rise of Reagan, so is immersed at the moment in Jimmy Carter's presidency.On the news of Carter's cancer diagnosis, he wrote this piece for the Washington Spectator about an episode I'd guess most of us have forgotten if we ever knew it at all:

Frequently, Carter’s approach to those complexities produced political disasters; “The Passionless Presidency,” James Fallows’s classic 1979 essay on his time as one of Carter’s White House speechwriters, will forever remain the best account of that. But Carter’s approach to governing also could lead to a glorious kind of democratic prophetic witness. Coincidentally, I was writing about one of those moments, from the spring and summer of 1977, last week when the news of Carter’s diagnosis broke. This moment reveals Carter at his very best. It also reveals American conservatives at their venal worst—and provides one more precedent to help us understand and contend with their ongoing deformation of our democracy now.

It was March 22. President Carter, concerned that America ranked 21st in voter participation among the world’s democracies, transmitted a package of proposed electoral reforms to Congress. He had studied the problem. Now he was ready to administer a solution.

Everyone loved to talk about voter apathy, but the real problem, Carter said, was that “millions of Americans are prevented or discouraged from voting in every election by antiquated and overly restricted voter registration laws”—a fact proven, he pointed out, by record rates of participation in 1976 in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, where voters were allowed to register on election day. So he proposed that election-day registration be adopted universally, tempering concerns that such measures might increase opportunities for fraud by also proposing five years in prison and a $10,000 fine as penalties for electoral fraud.

He asked Congress to allot up to $25 million in aid to states to help them comply, and for the current system of federal matching funds for presidential candidates to be expanded to congressional elections. He suggested reforming a loophole in the matching-fund law that disadvantaged candidates competing with rich opponents who funded their campaigns themselves, and revising the Hatch Act to allow federal employees “not in sensitive positions,” and when not on the job, the same rights of political participation as everyone else.

Finally, and most radically, he recommended that Congress adopt a constitutional amendment to do away with the Electoral College—under which, three times in our history (four times if you count George W. Bush 23 years later), a candidate who received fewer votes than his opponent went on to become president—in favor of popular election of presidents. It was one of the broadest political reform packages ever proposed.

It was immediately embraced. Legislators from both parties stood together at a news briefing to endorse all or part of it. Two Republican senators and two Republican representatives stepped forward to cosponsor the universal registration bill; William Brock, chairman of the Republican National Committee, called it “a Republican concept.” Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker announced his support, and suggested going even further: making election day a national holiday and keeping polls open 24 hours. House Minority Leader John Rhodes, a conservative disciple of Barry Goldwater, predicted it would pass “in substantially the same form with a lot of Republican support, including my own.”

A more perfect democracy. Who could find this controversial?

You guessed it: movement conservatives, who took their lessons about Democrats and “electoral reform” from Republican allegations that had Kennedy beating Nixon via votes received from the cemeteries of Chicago.

Ronald Reagan had been on this case for years. “Look at the potential for cheating,” he thundered in 1975, when Democrats proposed allowing citizens to register by postcard. “He can be John Doe in Berkeley, and J.F. Doe in the next county, all by saying he intends to live in both places … Yes, it takes a little work to be a voter; it takes some planning to get to the polls or send an absentee ballot … That’s a small price to pay for freedom.” He took up the cudgel again shortly after Carter’s inauguration, after California adopted easier voter registration. Why not a national postcard registration program? “The answer to that is the one the American general gave to the German demand for surrender at the battle of Bastogne in World War II: Nuts.…. Government by the people won’t work if the people won’t work at it.”

He continued. “Why don’t we try reverse psychology and make it harder to vote?”

Then came Carter’s electoral reform package. There had always been a political subtext to such arguments. Now, the subtext came to the fore: “Election ‘Reform’ Package: Euthanasia for the GOP,” blared a banner atop an issue of Human Events. The current system, the conservative newspaper argued, had never disenfranchised a single person—at least “no citizen who cares enough to make the minimal effort.” So why was Carter proposing to change it? Not because he was a reformer, but because he wanted to steal elections. Carter, after all, had won Wisconsin by a tiny margin, defying electoral predictions. So why wouldn’t he want to expand the scam to all 50 states?

There also had always been a racial subtext to such arguments. Now, that subtext, too, came to the fore.

Human Events cited a Berkeley political scientist who said national turnout would go up 10 percent. They observed that it was “widely agreed that the bulk of these extra votes will go to Carter’s Democratic Party”—“with blacks and other traditionally Democratic voter groups accounting for most of the increase.” The Heritage Foundation put out a paper arguing that instant registration would allow the “eight million illegal aliens in the U.S.” to vote. In his newspaper column, Reagan said the increase in voting would come from “the bloc comprised of those who get a whole lot more from the federal government in various kinds of income distribution than they contribute to it.” And if those people prove too dumb to vote themselves a raise, “don’t be surprised if an army of election workers—much of it supplied by labor organizations which have managed to exempt themselves from election law restrictions—sweep through metropolitan areas scooping up otherwise apathetic voters and rushing them to the polls to keep the benefit dispensers in power.”

And Electoral College reform? All but ventriloquizing the argument John C. Calhoun made in the 1840s, Reagan responded: “The very basis for our freedom is that we are a federation of sovereign states. Our Constitution recognizes that certain rights belong to the states and cannot be infringed upon by the national government.”

Fascinating, no? And very familiar.

It's always something,isn't it? They know that those they've marginalized and treated with disdain are hardly likely to vote for them if they are given the chance. Why would they? So they have to keep them from doing it.

One of Carter's post-presidency projects was going all over the world to monitor elections.

Click over to the whole story. You won't be sorry.
Village talking points

by digby

This is a useful little article that tells you what the Village decrees to be important and true, saving you lots of time and energy. It was tweeted out by Meet the Press so you can probably also skip watching that on Sunday and go to the beach instead.

What mattered

1. Biden's my heart and soul "are pretty banged up": Different people could interpret Joe Biden's remarks on that DNC conference call differently. But they - along with NBC's and Politico's additional reporting - suggest that Biden, at the very least, is trying to calm down the presidential speculation. The 2016 door remains open, but he's not running through it just yet.

2. Jeb mixes it up with Trump: Bush's decision to engage Donald Trump - again - appears to be an effort to diminish the rest of the field, as well as to show some strength to Republican voters. But it has a clear drawback, too: If Jeb is willing to draw a rhetorical sword, Trump is always going to pull out a gun - or a cannon - in response.

3. "Anchor babies" = Asians: Jeb Bush was factually correct that wealthy Chinese nationals come to the United States to have children who will be American citizens. But extending the "anchor baby" debate to Asians is also a sure-fire way to alienate Asian Americans, who have been swing voters in the past.

4. Democratic leaders are increasingly nervous about Hillary's emails: Two points to make about this week's New York Times story: One, Democrats are nervous creatures by nature (remember the handwringing over Obama's debate performance in Denver?). Two, this nervousness will become a MAJOR problem if the FBI doesn't quickly close the door on its investigation. But Clinton backers received some encouraging words from national-security writer David Ignatius: "Using the server was a self-inflicted wound by Clinton, but it's not something a prosecutor would take to court."

What didn't matter as much

1. Last Saturday's Biden-Elizabeth Warren meeting: Yes, the news fanned the flames of the Biden presidential buzz. But be sure to read the Boston Globe to see that Biden and Warren aren't exactly BFFs - or a presidential-campaign team in the making.

2. Hillary takes "responsibility" for not using two different emails: Sure, it was a change in her rhetoric for using a private email account (and server) as secretary of state. And it signaled some contrition. But shouldn't she have said this months ago?

3. Trump and Cruz teaming up to oppose the Iran deal: The announcement that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz will appear together in DC next month to oppose the Iran deal probably isn't the best way to convince fence-sitting Democrats to nix the deal, right?

I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Cruz and Trump are doing this as a joint presidential campaign event more than an actual attempt to influence legislation.

And of course it doesn't matter what Clinton said about the mails. Nothing she says matters and neither does the truth, practice or reality.

The good news is that one hopes Clinton is getting a first hand reminder of just how intrusive the government is when they want to be --- and perhaps she'll have some sympathy for the average American's concerns about mass surveillance that requires all of our communications to be stored just in case the authorities want to make a case against you or humiliate you in public.


Tales from the crypt

by digby

Marcy Wheeler has a piece up at Salon today about why anyone who listens to Dick Cheney on the issue of Iran has rocks in his head:
Before joining the Bush Administration, Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney opposed sanctions against Iran because American businesses would be “cut out of the action” (Halliburton is still one of the biggest likely beneficiaries of the easing of Iran sanctions).

Cheney spent much of the Obama Administration thwarting negotiations with Iran at a much earlier stage in its nuclear program. Had those negotiations happened then, they might have mitigated the concerns he and others now express about the nuclear deal. Indeed, as Poindexter had years earlier, Cheney’s office reportedly worked back channels to undercut the Iranian regime just as negotiations began.

Cheney’s real contribution to the Iran situation he claims to despise, however, was in championing a war against Iraq to undercut Weapons of Mass Destruction — including a nuclear program — that didn’t exist. The war created a vacuum of power in the region and a Shia-led government in Iraq, both of which Iran managed to exploit to increase its regional posture. While railing against Iran, Dick Cheney made it stronger. At the same time, the Bush (and Obama) Administration’s successful regime change in Iraq and Libya, but not in North Korea, showed the value of a nuclear program as a deterrent against US-led regime change.

Yeah, he's the guy we really need to hear from on this issue.

10 years ago today

by digby

This was happening:
MORNING — LOUISIANA NEWSPAPER SIGNALS LEVEES MAY GIVE: “Forecasters Fear Levees Won’t Hold Katrina”: “Forecasters feared Sunday afternoon that storm driven waters will lap over the New Orleans levees when monster Hurricane Katrina pushes past the Crescent City tomorrow.” [Lafayette Daily Advertiser]
EVACUATION OF NEW ORLEANS:“We’re facing the storm most of us have feared,” said Nagin. “This is going to be an unprecedented event.” [Times-Picayune] 
AFTERNOON — BUSH, BROWN, CHERTOFF WARNED OF LEVEE FAILURE BY NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR: Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center: “‘We were briefing them way before landfall. … It’s not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped.’” [Times-PicayuneSt. Petersburg Times] 
4PM CDT — NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ISSUES SPECIAL HURRICANE WARNING: In the event of a category 4 or 5 hit, “Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer. … At least one-half of well-constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail, leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed. … Power outages will last for weeks. … Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards.” [National Weather Service] 
LATE PM — REPORTS OF WATER TOPPLING OVER LEVEE: “Waves crashed atop the exercise path on the Lake Pontchartrain levee in Kenner early Monday as Katrina churned closer.” [Times-Picayune] 

The horror was beginning. We knew it was bad. But we had no idea how bad it was going to get.

I can still hardly believe it.

This is what I wrote that day:

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Battle Of New Orleans

This hurricane looks to be a living nightmare. I went through a bad one in the same area in 1965 --- Hurricane Betsy --- and these things are scary. My father was working on a NASA test site in Mississippi and had word that the storm was going to be bad so he moved us up north before it hit --- ahead of everyone else. We were lucky. The town we lived in was pretty devastated.

I was just a kid, and the creepiest thing I remember about it was that when we returned to our house there were snakes all over the place. And we had a rather large boat in our front yard --- that had been in the bay several blocks away.

Man, I hate to see New Orleans get hit. It's one of the greatest cities in the world with some of the greatest people in the world. Let's hope this thing isn't as bad as they say it's going to be.


From commenter antifa later that night:

I called Mama Marisol, got her on her cell phone. She had her crystal ball in the front seat, and she was 'leavin-leavin, cher.'

Heading up Basin Street past St. Louis 1, she saw all the skeletons sitting on top of their tombs, rolling their bones and readin' em, shakin' their heads at her.

This won't end well.

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
And the water gonna come in, have no place to stay

Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan
Thinkin' 'bout my baby and my happy home

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
And all these people have no place to stay

Now look here mama what am I to do
I ain't got nobody to tell my troubles to

I works on the levee mama both night and day
I ain't got nobody, keep the water away

Oh cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do no good
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to lose

I works on the levee, mama both night and day
I works so hard, to keep the water away

I had a woman, she wouldn't do for me
I'm goin' back to my used to be

I's a mean old levee, cause me to weep and moan
Gonna leave my baby, and my happy home

*by Kansas Joe McCoy and famously covered by Led Zeppelin. 

Trump's Jesus

by digby

I wrote about Trumps religious right outreach today for Salon. It's much more strategic and long standing than you probably knew:

I noted the other day that Sen. Ted Cruz is very effectively working the Religious Right, making sure they know he is one them. (And he is.)   But it appears that he’s got some serious competition — and it’s not from Scott Walker or Mike Huckabee, the two candidates previously assumed to have the inside track with the conservative evangelical crowd. (As with most every constituency that was presumed to naturally be in his corner, Walker has stumbled badly with this group, but he’s plugging away. Huckabee just seems like old news.) Instead, Cruz — whose Iowa state chairman introduces him by saying that “God has prepared” him to “go to Washington and throw the money-changers out” — is being challenged for evangelical affections by none other than the billionaire braggart Donald Trump. 
In South Carolina this week, Trump explained that evangelicals love him, and he loves them. And he loves the Bible more than anything, even his own book, “The Art of the Deal,” which he loves very, very much. He declined to identify his favorite Bible passages, because he says the Bible is so intensely personal to him, but he was more forthcoming awhile back when pollster Frank Luntz asked him if he’d ever asked God for forgiveness. 
“I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t…” Trump said. “When I drink my little wine — which is about the only wine I drink — and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed. I think in terms of ‘let’s go on and let’s make it right.'” 
His piety and spirituality are very moving. 
The funny thing is that while it may not be quite correct that evangelicals “love” him, they are, so far, supporting him over the other candidates in the race. Last month a Washington Post poll had him at 20 percent support among evangelicals, followed by the far more doctrinaire Walker and Huckabee at 14 and 12 percent respectively. His poll ratings went up dramatically among Iowa evangelicals after his debate performance and leaders such as Franklin Graham have publicly praised him on Facebook for “shaking up” the race. This is a man who has been married three times, previously supported abortion and gay rights and has pretty much been a poster boy for urban, elite decadence. So what gives? 
According to writer Amy Sullivan, who covers the religion beat, evangelicals are not that different from other Republicans, in that they are perpetually let down and disappointed in their leaders, but more than anything are just looking for a winner after 8 years of living in a liberal horror movie. Apparently, they are just as mad as hell as the rest of the GOP base and Lord knows Trump is the one who’s most effectively channeling that rage. 
But this article in The Daily Beast, by Betsy Woodruff, shows that Trump has surprisingly been cultivating the religious right for several years, making substantial donations to various Christian organizations and reaching out to Christian leaders and organizations. All the way back in 2012, he spoke at Liberty University where Jerry Falwell Jr. called him “one of the great visionaries of our time” and praised him for his leadership and political skills in “singlehandedly forcing President Obama to release his birth certificate.”

There's more at the link.

Conservatives like it when people pander to them --- it is a demonstration of their power. Indeed, they actually trust hypocrites more because they believe they will not take them for granted. And Trump seems to have a goo feel for how this works.


by digby

You may or may not have seen this 1990 profile of Trump but this is certainly interesting in light of ... a lot of things, not least of which is his huge popularity among white supremacists:

Last April, perhaps in a surge of Czech nationalism, Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed. Kennedy now guards a copy of My New Order in a closet at his office, as if it were a grenade. Hitler’s speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist.

“Did your cousin John give you the Hitler speeches?” I asked Trump.

Trump hesitated. “Who told you that?”

“I don’t remember,” I said.

“Actually, it was my friend Marty Davis from Paramount who gave me a copy of Mein Kampf, and he’s a Jew.”

“I did give him a book about Hitler,” Marty Davis said. “But it was My New Order, Hitler’s speeches, not Mein Kampf. I thought he would find it interesting. I am his friend, but I’m not Jewish.”

Later, Trump returned to this subject. “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them.”

Uh huh.

Looking before leaping

by Tom Sullivan

Many refugees. Fewer solutions. Even fewer explanations.

Grim news from Austria:

A truck full of refugees discovered abandoned on an Austrian motorway on Thursday contained more than 70 bodies, the interior ministry said on Friday, announcing an updated death toll.

Austrian police had originally put the toll at up to 50 and are due to announce the exact number within hours. The vehicle had come to Austria from Hungary.

Dozens more perished in a sinking off the coast of Libya:

A boat reportedly packed with people from Africa and South Asia bound for Italy has sunk off the Libyan coast, raising fears that dozens have died.

A security official in Zuwarah, a town in the North African nation's west from where the overcrowded boat had set off, said on Thursday there were about 400 people on board.

While an official death toll has not been announced, sources told Al Jazeera that dozens of people died in the incident, with many reported to have been trapped in the cargo hold when the boat capsized.

In Vienna, just east of the truck filled with bodies, European leaders at a scheduled summit struggled with a response:

"Never before in history have so many people fled their homes to escape war, violence and persecution," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. "And given the large number of unresolved conflicts in our neighborhood, the stream of refugees seeking protection in Europe will not abate in the foreseeable future."

The gruesome discovery of the truck brings the total of refugee deaths to more than 2,390 this year, according to the International Organization for Migration, compared to 2,081 on the same date in 2014. Many die aboard boats or rubber dinghies on the Mediterranean Sea, or while jumping onto trains as they try to reach the United Kingdom from France’s port city of Calais, where about 3,000 people live in squalid camps near the Eurotunnel entrance.

The BBC has this explainer on the source of the migrants and refugees. The Guardian attempts to dispel some of the misinformation: "Far from being propelled by economic migrants, this crisis is mostly about refugees." Nearly two-thirds are fleeing "countries torn apart by war, dictatorial oppression, and religious extremism."

What you won't find is much analysis about what precipitated the conflicts in Libya and Syria, and one of the largest refugee crises since the end of the Vietnam War, from which we apparently learned little about looking before leaping. Hullabaloo readers can probably fill in those blanks without much prompting. Then again, one London tabloid has an explanation to warm chickenhawks' hearts: We didn't intervene enough.

So it goes.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What are these facts you speak of? 

by digby

Can you see what's wrong with this picture?

Hugh Hewitt retweeted that obviously without seeing the picture and the real headline.

Not that it matters.  The Planned Parenthood jihad is underway and fact don't matter to the Republicans as Hewitt demonstrates.

Here are the facts as they see them. Women are the worst mass murderers in the history of the world. Of course.

Money, money, money

by digby

Now this is some top flight trolling:


Challenging the autopsy

by digby

Remember when the Republicans did their famous post 2012 autopsy and decided they need to seriously change their policies toward latinos if they expect to win national elections?

Well ...

Lindsay Graham, by the way, famously complained about Mexican women coming over the border to "drop a baby" as if they are animals so ...

And the chart doesn't include trump's most popular policy: deportation of all undocumented immigrants and their American children.

They love him

by digby

I won't link, but this is from the Stormfront site:

To be fair, some of the commenters said this was ridiculous. So he still has some work to do to convince the actual nazi constituency.

The epidemic we know how to cure

by digby

I wrote about yesterday's horror show and the disease of American gun violence today at Salon:
Chris Hayes featured some alarming statistics on his show last night. He pointed out that despite the fact the US is average among other industrialized countries in virtually every crime and only have 5% of the world’s population, we have had 31% of the mass shootings since 1966.  You don’t have to be an expert to see that the the fact that we lead the world in  civilian gun ownership with 88.8 guns per 100 people  (the next highest is Yemen at 54.8 per 100) has something to do with it.
Our leaders and would-be leaders reacted to this terrible crime in various ways. President Obama, clearly depressed at having to make yet another statement like this, said, “It breaks my heart every time you read or hear about these kinds of incidents.” He then added, “What we know is that the number of people who die from gun-related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism,” which may be the most radical thing he’s said while in office. It’s obviously true, but it’s been taboo to say it.
Jeb Bush very weirdly shrugged his shoulders, signed autographs and smiled for pictures as he impatiently responded to reporters’ questions. Most of the others on the GOP side tweeted condolences and made the expected statements of support for the families and co-workers. 
Bernie Sanders told the Hill,”I am saddened by the senseless deaths of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Jane and I have their families and friends in our thoughts.” Hillary Clinton went even farther, expressing her personal horror at the event and then, as she did after Charleston, gave a very strong statement: 
There is so much evidence that if guns were not so readily available, if we had universal background checks, if we could just put some time out between the person who’s upset because he got fired or the domestic abuse or whatever other motivation may be working on someone who does this, then maybe we could prevent this kind of carnage…We have got to do something about gun violence in America and I will take it on.” 
Unfortunately, even the shock of a man gunning down rooms full of first graders was not enough to get us to face up to our problem. And there’s really one man who bears most of the responsibility for that: the head of the NRA Wayne LaPierre. After the Newtown massacre, most Americans believed it was inconceivable that nothing would be done. There was tremendous momentum to start making some necessary changes. But as a recent PBS Frontline documentary called “Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA” put it, LaPierre would have none of it: 
NARRATOR: His advisers wanted him to lie low, but LaPierre had a very different idea. Expecting trouble, he hired personal security guards, and headed into Washington. 
ROBERT DRAPER, The New York Times Magazine: Without telling anyone, LaPierre himself staged a press conference in Washington, D.C. 
NARRATOR: The media gathered. Many expected a chastened and conciliatory LaPierre. 
ROBERT DRAPER: I think there was an assumption that, surely, he’s going to throw the gun safety advocates, and for that matter the Newtown parents, some kind of bone. 
NARRATOR: But LaPierre had something else in mind. 
WAYNE LaPIERRE: The only way — the only way — to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. 
ED O’KEEFE: And he almost immediately goes right back to what they usually say, which is that the answer to this is more guns. 
WAYNE LaPIERRE: What if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook elementary school last Friday, he’d been confronted by qualified armed security? 
SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, The New York Times: His comments are aimed directly at the gun owners of America, to rile them up, to get them behind the NRA’s no holds barred, never say die, you know, no compromise position. 
WAYNE LaPIERRE: Our children— we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it and exploit it. 
NARRATOR: In Washington, they said the speech was a political disaster. 
PROTESTER: The NRA stop killing our children! 
NARRATOR: In New York City, LaPierre was called the craziest man on earth and a gun nut. But those who know LaPierre say the speech was no miscalculation. 
PAUL BARRETT: This was not off the cuff. He didn’t lose it. This was very thought out. And they decided on a strategy and they executed the strategy. 
JOHN AQUILINO: Because the people that it resonated with gave more money, and this is what you need to do in order to keep that— that tough persona. 
PAUL BARRETT: And we’ve got to send the signal that this is not the time to compromise, that Obama is the enemy, and they want to take your guns away. Yes, it’s too bad about the kids, but we are not going to back down.

And that was that.

Read on.  This is a terrible deadly problem that we know how to solve.  It's not complicated.  Others have solved it.  But we won't.

Marco's ride in the tank

by digby

This is not photoshopped.  It happened at a furniture store in New Hampshire today:

These images hurt when they reinforce a vulnerability. This one could haunt Rubio. It doesn't make him look "youthful and vigorous", it makes him look infantile.

Trump's Achilles heel: Will stories of mob ties and crooked deals sink him?

by Gaius Publius

The Trump phenomenon is taking off and shows every sign of "having wings," to not mix a metaphor. According to this excellent analysis by Lee Drutman, "What Donald Trump gets about the electorate," Trump has found a policy sweet spot with Republican voters (as opposed to the party's money-bought leaders):

As the punditry attempts to make sense of the continued popularity of Donald Trump, the prevailing establishment narrative has been simple: He's an anti-establishment buffoon; he's channeling an angry mood; his moment will pass. But as Ezra Klein argued on Monday, this narrative may be wrong. What if Trump actually represents a sizable electorate that Beltway elites have marginalized?

The data on this is pretty clear. Put simply: While most elite-funded and elite-supported Republicans want to increase immigration and decrease Social Security, a significant number of voters (across both parties) want precisely the opposite — to increase Social Security and decrease immigration. So when Trump speaks out both against immigration and against fellow Republicans who want to cut Social Security, he's speaking out for a lot people.

By my count of National Election Studies (NES) data, 24 percent of the US population holds this position (increase Social Security, decrease immigration). If we add in the folks who want to maintain (not cut) Social Security and decrease immigration, we are now at 40 percent of the total electorate, which I'll call "populist." No wonder folks are flocking to Trump — and to Bernie Sanders, who holds similar positions, though with more emphasis on the expanding Social Security part and less aggression on immigration.

The underlying data is fascinating. A taste — here's how the electorate feels about Social Security:

▪ Increase Social Security benefits: 50.7%
▪ Keep Social Security benefits the same: 43%
▪ Decrease Social Security benefits: 6.2%

And here's how the electorate feels about immigration:

▪ Increase immigration a lot: 4.4%
▪ Increase immigration a little: 9.9%
▪ Leave immigration as is: 42.9%
▪ Decrease immigration a little: 20.5%
▪ Decrease immigration a lot: 22.9%

Add the middle group to the top group on Social Security and you get a whopping 93% of the electorate. Add the middle group to the bottom two groups on immigration and you get a similarly impressive 86%. Trump is simultaneous selling to both of these large groups.

In addition, unlike all of the other top candidates, Trump is his own billionaire, more or less, and the billionaires backing the rest of the candidates hold exactly opposite views — they want to decrease Social Security benefits (to keep taxes low, among other reasons) and increase immigration (to make available the cheapest non-union labor possible). Thus, while all of the other Republican candidates have to mouth words crafted for them by the wealthy who pull their strings — words that hold little appeal for voters, including Republican ones — Trump, who pulls his own strings, can freely offer policies counter to what elite Republicans want.

He's on a roll in the polls, he's a natural crowd favorite for a certain kind of crowd, and he's apparently having a wonderful time. So what's likely to bring him down politically?

David Cay Johnston on Trump and the Mob

Arrogance is unlikely to do it; that may be his strong suit. And as others have argued, his vicious (and expensive) nativism is a feature to Republicans who live at the intersection of extreme economic insecurity and frightened-male racism. Does Donald Trump have an Achilles heel? David Cay Johnston thinks so; he thinks Trump has several in fact.

From a recent National Memo article, Johnston writes:
I have covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years — including breaking the story that in 1990, when he claimed to be worth $3 billion but could not pay interest on loans coming due, his bankers put his net worth at minus $295 million. And so I have closely watched what Trump does and what government documents reveal about his conduct.

Reporters, competing Republican candidates, and voters would learn a lot about Trump if they asked for complete answers to these 21 questions.

So, Mr. Trump… 
There follow his 21 questions. The whole piece reads well — Johnston has a unique gift for making his subject clear — but I want to focus on just a few of them:

▪ Regarding Trump and the mob:
6. Trump Tower is not a steel girder high rise, but 58 stories of concrete.

Why did you use concrete instead of traditional steel girders?

7. Trump Tower was built by S&A Concrete, whose owners were “Fat” Tony Salerno, head of the Genovese crime family, and Paul “Big Paul” Castellano, head of the Gambinos, another well-known crime family.

If you did not know of their ownership, what does that tell voters about your management skills?

8. You later used S&A Concrete on other Manhattan buildings bearing your name.

11. You sent your top lieutenant, lawyer Harvey I. Freeman, to negotiate with Ken Shapiro, the “investment banker” for Nicky Scarfo, the especially vicious killer who was Atlantic City’s mob boss, according to federal prosecutors and the New Jersey State Commission on Investigation.

Since you emphasize your negotiating skills, why didn’t you negotiate yourself?

12. You later paid a Scarfo associate twice the value of a lot, officials determined.

Since you boast that you always negotiate the best prices, why did you pay double the value of this real estate?

13. You were the first person recommended for a casino license by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Gaming Enforcement, which opposed all other applicants or was neutral. Later it came out in official proceedings that you had persuaded the state to limit its investigation of your background.

Why did you ask that the investigation into your background be limited?
▪ On Trump and crooked deals:
1. You call yourself an “ardent philanthropist,” but have not donated a dollar to The Donald J. Trump Foundation since 2006. You’re not even the biggest donor to the foundation, having given about $3.7 million in the previous two decades while businesses associated with Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment gave the Trump Foundation $5 million. All the money since 2006 has come from those doing business with you.

How does giving away other people’s money, in what could be seen as a kickback scheme, make you a philanthropist?

2. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman successfully sued you, alleging your Trump University was an “illegal educational institution” that charged up to $35,000 for “Trump Elite” mentorships promising personal advice from you, but you never showed up and your “special” list of lenders was photocopied from Scotsman Guide, a magazine found at any bookstore.

Why did you not show up?
9. In demolishing the Bonwit Teller building to make way for Trump Tower, you had no labor troubles, even though only about 15 unionists worked at the site alongside 150 Polish men, most of whom entered the country illegally, lacked hard hats, and slept on the site.

How did you manage to avoid labor troubles, like picketing and strikes, and job safety inspections while using mostly non-union labor at a union worksite — without hard hats for the Polish workers?

10. A federal judge later found you conspired to cheat both the Polish workers, who were paid less than $5 an hour cash with no benefits, and the union health and welfare fund. You testified that you did not notice the Polish workers, whom the judge noted were easy to spot because they were the only ones on the work site without hard hats.

What should voters make of your failure or inability to notice 150 men demolishing a multi-story building without hard hats?
About that last, it's not the hard hats; it's the illegal Polish workers and his lack of "labor troubles" at the site. What kind of deal do you have to cut, and whom do you have to cut it with, to fly that low under the construction radar?

▪ Regarding his gaming licenses:
13. You were the first person recommended for a casino license by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Gaming Enforcement, which opposed all other applicants or was neutral. Later it came out in official proceedings that you had persuaded the state to limit its investigation of your background.

Why did you ask that the investigation into your background be limited?

14. You were the target of a 1979 bribery investigation. No charges were filed, but New Jersey law mandates denial of a license to anyone omitting any salient fact from their casino application.

Why did you omit the 1979 bribery investigation?
David Cay Johnston is not alone in asking these questions.

CNN on Donald Trump and the Mob

A simple Web search on "trump mafia new jersey" produces a number of links, including this one, from CNN:

Donald Trump and the mob

Chris Frates, CNN Investigative Correspondent
Updated 12:37 PM ET, Fri July 31, 2015

Donald Trump's glittering empire of New York skyscrapers and Atlantic City casinos have long had a darker side, allegations that the mob helped build them.

Trump's alleged ties to New York and Philadelphia crime families go back decades and have been recounted in a book, newspapers and government records.

"The mob connections of Donald are extraordinarily extensive," New York investigative journalist Wayne Barrett told CNN in an interview.

Barrett, the author of the 1992 unauthorized biography "Trump: The Deals and the Downfall," wrote that Trump's life "intertwines with the underworld."...

In a recent Federalist article, David Marcus writes that Trump bought the property that his Atlantic City casino Trump Plaza would one day occupy -- for twice market price -- from Salvatore Testa, a Philly mobster and son of one-time Philly mob boss Philip "Chicken Man" Testa. (Springsteen fans might recognize the elder Testa from the opening lines of the song, Atlantic City.)

In his book, Barrett writes that Testa and a partner, who together headed a Philly mafia hit-squad called the Young Executioners, bought the property for "a scant $195,000" in 1977. In 1982, Trump paid $1.1 million for it.

"The $220 per square foot that Trump paid for the Testa property was the second most expensive purchase he made on the block, even though it was one of the first parcels he bought," Barrett wrote.

The casino was built with the help of two construction companies controlled by Philly mobsters Nicademo "Little Nicky" Scarfo and his nephew Phillip "Crazy Phil" Leonetti, according to, as Marcus notes, a New Jersey state commission's 1986 report on organized crime.

Trump also had a decade-long relationship with Scarfo's investment banker, according to Barrett's book. ...

There's much more in this article, and there are more articles.

What's the Next Move?

For those who call the shots in the Republican Party, what's the next move? They may or may not want to allow Trump to be their nominee, but they certainly won't let him run third-party. (I'm guessing the former won't be permitted and the latter will get Trump "an offer he can't refuse," but that's just me.)

So what do they do, these party bosses and owners, these Kochs and Friesses and Adelsons? Do they wait for Trump fever to die down (to mix a metaphor begun at the top of this page) and risk it growing stronger instead? Or do they make a move?

If it were me and I wanted him gone, I'd make the move and soon. There seems to be plenty to work with, to use for both behind-the-scene threats and for on-camera deep-fat frying. Would even the party's economically insecure racists follow Trump all the way to mobtown, or would they abandon him at the border? What's a bridge too far for Trump supporters? Whatever the answer, this may be the party's strongest move, short of a "friendly" DA filing a RICO indictment.

If I'm right — if big-money Republicans, those backing all other candidates, want to make him gone; and if they're willing to destroy Trump economically and as a brand to do it — this fall's Republican story will be even more interesting than what we've seen already. Republican oppo research is relentless, and Republican tactics seem to have little short of murder as an upper bound. R-on-R violence is violent indeed.

Of course, those are two big ifs in the paragraph above. Ann Coulter, for example, wants to see Trump nominated. How many in that small group of Republicans in a position to decide actually share her view? I think we're about to find out.

Springsteen's "Atlantic City." As noted in the article, Mob boss Philip "Chicken Man" Testa is mentioned (as "Chicken Man") in the first line of the song.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)



"Something's come dreadfully loose in the country"

by Tom Sullivan

The usually jocular Charlie Pierce appeared shaken last night on Chris Hayes' show when he spoke about the on-air shootings yesterday in Virginia. He came packing the truth. "Something's come dreadfully loose in the country right now," Pierce said, glancing at the floor. "A lot of stuff that was in the kind of foul tributaries of American life has made it into the mainstream."

Pierce wrote earlier about the shooting at Esquire:

A news crew, doing a completely ordinary happy-face morning feature at a mall get blown away on camera. If this had happened in Somalia, we'd have a lot of earnest talk about the dangers of a failed society. If it had happened in Syria, Lindsey Graham might liquefy entirely and disappear in a rush down a storm drain. But it happened here, in the exceptional home of American exceptionalism, so, once again, we will be told that Alison Parker and Adam Ward are merely more of the price we pay for the exceptional exceptionalism of a free society.

The killings of a reporter and cameraman as they covered a "happy-face" news story brought gun violence perilously close for both Hayes and Pierce. Pierce was blunt about it:

"It is worrisome to be out on the campaign trail now. It is not terrifying. It's nothing like following a rifle platoon into the Hindu Kush or something, but there's something unsettling and something that's come loose in the body politic. And, frankly, I'm worried about it."

We are a country now where more money equals more speech for the elite, and more guns equals more freedom for the rest, and murderers post their snuff films on social media. (Next time it will be streamed live.*) What's to worry about?

Somewhere in the flood of post-September 11 articles about how the attacks happened, what we would do next, and why terrorists hate us, one writer asked, Would America keep its head? Uh, no. Except the country's post-September 11 temporary insanity seems, like untreated depression, to have settled in and taken a "set." The governor on the engine has broken. No, that's not right. It has been sabotaged. Now it is racing out of control. Or at least, that's how it feels.

Futurist Sara Robinson periodically reassesses the country's drift towards the abyss. With daily mass shootings, with Donald Trump threatening to round up and deport millions, and with his "passionate" followers beating the homeless, calling for "white power," and demanding that Latino citizens "Get out of my country," it might be time to re-check the cultural doomsday clock and see how many minutes it is to midnight.

* when Howard Cosell went live to cover the assassination of "El Presidente," it was in Woody Allen's fictional banana republic.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

QOTD: Jeb!

by digby

"This guy is now the front-runner. He should be held to account just like me. He should be asked — as he was yesterday — how are you going to pay for it? Why do you think this is not going to be — prove to me that it's not impractical. Explain to me how you're going to stop all the remittances without violating peoples' civil liberty...

Go through these questions and what you'll find is that this guy doesn't have a plan. He's appealing to peoples' angst and their anger."

These are all good questions. And he does have a plan: tell the police to round up all the "illegals" and dump them in Mexico. Like Operation Wetback.  And yes a bunch of Americans will get caught up in it but we'll deport first and sort out any paperwork problems later.

God knows Trump supporters don't want to hear about the civil liberties of Mexicans. And they sure don't agree with this:

"I want to solve problems so that we can fix this and turn immigration into what it's always been: An economic driver for our country."

In their minds immigration is a job stealing, culture destroying threat to all they hold dear. Hasn't he been listening?


Torturing the agitators

by digby

That poster depicts the forced feeding of suffragists who were jailed for agitating for the right to vote.

Alice Paul led the more radical wing of those who were working for women's suffrage in 1917. Paul had taken part in more militant suffrage activity in England, including hunger strikes that were met with imprisonment and brutal force-feeding methods. She believed that by bringing such militant tactics to America, the public's sympathy would be turned towards those who protested for woman suffrage, and the vote for women would be won, finally, after seven decades of activism.

And so, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and others separated in America from the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), headed by Carrie Chapman Catt, and formed the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU) which in 1917 transformed itself into the National Woman's Party (NWP).

While many of the activists in the NAWSA turned during World War I either to pacifism or to support of America's war effort, the National Woman's Party continued to focus on winning the vote for women.

During wartime, they planned and carried out a campaign to picket the White House in Washington, DC. The reaction was, as in Britain, strong and swift: arrest of the picketers and their imprisonment. Some were transferred to an abandoned workhouse located at Occoquan, Virginia. There, the women staged hunger strikes, and, as in Britain, were force-fed brutally and otherwise treated violently.

I've referred to this part of woman suffrage history in other articles, notably when describing the history of the suffragist split over strategy in the last decade of activism before the vote was finally won.

Feminist Sonia Pressman Fuentes documents this history in her article on Alice Paul. She includes this re-telling of the story of Occoquan Workhouse's "Night of Terror," November 15, 1917:

Under orders from W. H. Whittaker, superintendent of the Occoquan Workhouse, as many as forty guards with clubs went on a rampage, brutalizing thirty-three jailed suffragists. They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head, and left her there for the night. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed, and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate Alice Cosu, who believed Mrs. Lewis to be dead, suffered a heart attack. According to affidavits, other women were grabbed, dragged, beaten, choked, slammed, pinched, twisted, and kicked.

After the 1920 victory for women's right to vote, Paul became involved in the campaign to introduce and pass an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). It only took 50 years and in 1970 it was sent to the states to ratify. However, the required number of states required didn't ratify within the time limit and the Amendment failed.

I remember back in the dark ages handing out leaflets for the ERA when I was a teen-ager and being told that it was a very bad thing because women would be forced to urinate in front of strange men. Or something.

Anyway, today is the 95th anniversary of the day women finally got the right to vote. Maybe in another 95 years we'll have more than 20% representation in the government. Maybe even a woman president, who knows? No hurry, though. These things take time. A very long time.


Who cares about guns?

by digby

I keep hearing from various folks that Clinton is an inauthentic, cold, emotionless, calculating robot who is hardly even a human being much less a person to whom a normal American could relate. She doesn't seem any "colder" than Obama to me, but then that's usually seen as "coolness" in his case and is widely considered an asset so I guess it really  is a matter of perspective.  Whatever. I don't know about her deepest emotions (or any politician's)  and frankly I don't give a damn.

But it does seem to me that she is serious about taking on the gun issue, which I think is important. Her comments today were about the shooting in Virginia were quite emphatic:

On the right we've got Limbaugh saying that journalists should be packing heat. Not kidding.
"You can't endorse me, but I want you to know that I endorse you"

by digby

This piece at TPM is a very helpful reminder about the origins of the Christian Right:
On August 22, 1980, a massive National Affairs Briefing organized by preacher James Robison brought 15,000 evangelicals to Dallas to demonstrate their newfound political clout. Robison, who had been forced off the airwaves after he claimed that gays recruit children for sex, announced that day, “I’m sick and tired of hearing about all of the radicals and the perverts and the liberals and the leftists and the Communists coming out of the closet. It’s time for God’s people to come out of the closet.”

The next speaker was Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan, who told the crowd, “I know you can’t endorse me. But...I want you to know that I endorse you.”
Also a reminder of the fact that the right has been speaking in these derogatory terms about their political enemies forever. Reagan may have been the "cheerful" upbeat conservative but the people who elected him were angry about everything. Aren't they always?

There's lots more at the link, including this:
The Christian Right changed how we talked about race. The Christian Right emerged from school desegregation—and forged a movement around taxes and religious freedom. In 1978, the Internal Revenue Service sought to revoke tax exemptions for schools formed as white-flight havens from the public schools. The backlash was overwhelming. The IRS received more than a quarter of a million letters against the proposed rules. Congressional hearings reframed the issue from an attack on segregation to an attack on religion by meddlesome bureaucrats. As Newt Gingrich, then a freshman representative, explained, “The IRS should collect taxes—not enforce social policy.”

Early in 1979, Jerry Falwell formed Moral Majority, the premier organization for the new Christian Right. Falwell ran a segregated academy that would almost certainly have run afoul of the IRS guidelines. In 1967, the same year the local public schools desegregated, Lynchburg Christian Academy opened its doors. As of the fall of 1979, it had an all-white faculty, and only five African-Americans among the 1,147 students.

In August 1979, Congress inserted riders into the appropriations bill for the Treasury Department to prevent the IRS from implementing the proposed regulations. A fight over desegregation had galvanized white evangelicals to oppose meddlesome bureaucrats, and the movement was born.

It made abortion a partisan issue. The Christian Right made opposition to abortion—which until the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973 had been a Catholic issue—into an evangelical and Republican cause. The Bible’s text says nothing about abortion per se. Even W. A. Criswell, known as the “Baptist Pope,” initially praised Roe. “It was only after a child was born and had life separate from its mother,” he argued, “that it became an actual person.” Until the mid-1980s, Republicans in the electorate favored fewer restrictions on abortion than did Democrats; in Congress, partisan divides between pro-choice and pro-life votes grew threefold in the two decades after Roe.

The Christian Right found in abortion an issue to bind evangelicals together with conservative Catholics under the Republican banner. Paul Weyrich, a founder of the Heritage Foundation and a deacon in the Eastern Rite Catholic Melkite church, first grasped that a new conservative majority to supplant the teetering New Deal coalition would need white evangelicals—and that opposition to abortion could unite conservative Christians. So Weyrich recruited leading white evangelical ministers to politics, and even coined the term Moral Majority.

And if you want to know who's working this constituency the best in 2016, read my piece in Salon today.  The Dark Horse is very dark indeed.

Round 'em all up!

by digby

I have been wondering whether any Trump followers gave a damn whether or not an immigrant is in the country legally or even if they are a citizen and I think we've answered that question.

Univision later posted video of what happened after Ramos was escorted into the hall by security: A Trump supporter confronted him and said, "You were very rude. It's not about you.  Get out of my country.
Ramos noted that he's a U.S. citizen and the man responded, "Well, whatever. No, Univision, no. It's not about you."

"It's not about you. It's about the United States," Ramos replied.

I just love that a Trump supporter is complaining about "rudeness." How politically correct of him.

Of course it doesn't help that a bunch of sycophantic Washington reporters are wringing their hands over Ramos' dogged questioning of Donald Trump's plan to deport millions of Latinos "so fast your head will spin" --- by letting the police take the gloves off. You see they're worried that Ramos looks "biased" for actually trying to pin down a racist demagogue about how he plans to round up all his relatives and that reflects badly on them. I'm not exaggerating.

These elite journalists would have been checking their hair in the mirror while the black-shirted thugs beat people right in front of them.

Greenwald has written all about this embarrassing journalistic episode. It's just so --- predictable.

Danger on the job

by digby

Amanda Marcotte wrote about Megyn Kelly, Trump and the sexism that Fox sells every day:

Donald Trump has reignited his sexist harassment campaign against Megyn Kelly, and the folks at Fox News are, in seemingly coordinated fashion, striking back. Fellow Fox News hosts and pundits are asking Trump to cool it, and even Roger Ailes has released a statement calling Trump’s abuse “unacceptable” and “disturbing." It’s almost touching, watching all these conservative media people who usually profit at peddling sexism choose, this time at least, to join together in an effort to stop this one particular instance of it.

It’s also going to backfire.

Conservative media and Fox News in particular have spent years - decades, if you count talk radio - training their audiences to believe that exhortations against sexism and racism are nothing but the “political correctness” police trying to kill your good time. Indeed, one reason that Trump was able to get so much attention for his presidential run in the first place is that Fox has spent years building him up, knowing that their audience enjoys vicariously needling imagined liberals and feminists with his loud-mouthed insult comic act.

As Jill Filipovic as Cosmopolitan recently explained in a feature piece about the conservative website Twitchy, there are entire sectors of the conservative media dedicated to getting the audiences to spend all day and night trying to piss off liberals, believing themselves to be courageous freedom fighters against the P.C. police. Women, in particular, are favorite targets. There’s apparently no getting tired of the pleasure of feeling naughty because you say mean things about women and racial minorities for conservative audiences.

Indeed they are.

As we've seen today, they are often literally targets as well. The Virginia shooter seems to have had animus toward both victims, but he did reportedly say "bitch" under his breath as he aimed. So sick. And then he took to twitter to whine and brag about it.

The statistics about work related gun violence are alarming in this regard:

About 4 out of every 5 workplace homicide victims in 2010 were men. The type of assailants in these cases differed, depending on whether the victim was a man or a woman. Robbers and other assailants accounted for 72 percent of homicides to men, for example, and only 37 percent of homicides to women. A substantial difference exists when relatives and other personal acquaintances are the assailants: only 3 percent of homicides to men, but 39 percent to women.

Not that being mean to Megyn Kelly even remotely equals this horrific event today. But you can't help but notice that Trump seems to have a particular problem with her behavior in the debate when neither Brett Baier or Chris Wallace were exactly easy on him. Some people develop a particular angry fixation on women they believe have disrespected them. And sometimes they take lethal action.

Update: Oh man

A man claiming to be Bryce Williams called ABC News over the last few weeks, saying he wanted to pitch a story, and wanted to fax information. He never told ABC News what the story was. This morning, a fax was in the machine (time stamped 8:26 a.m.) almost two hours after the shooting. A little after 10 a.m., he called again, and introduced himself as Bryce, but also said his legal name was Vester Lee Flanagan, and that he shot two people this morning. While on the phone, he said authorities are “after me,” and “all over the place.” He hung up. ABC News contacted the authorities immediately and provided them with the fax.

In the 23-page document faxed to ABC News, the writer says “MY NAME IS BRYCE WILLIAMS” and his legal name is Vester Lee Flanagan II” He writes what triggered today’s carnage was his reaction to the racism of the Charleston church shooting:

“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…”

“What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them."

It is unclear whose initials he is referring to. He continues, “As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” He said Jehovah spoke to him, telling him to act.

Later in the manifesto, the writer quotes the Virginia Tech mass killer, Seung Hui Cho, and calls him “his boy,” and expresses admiration for the Columbine High School killers. “Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got…just sayin’.

In an often rambling letter to the authorities, and family and friends, he writes of a long list of grievances. In one part of the document, Williams calls it a “Suicide Note for Friends and Family”.

--He says has suffered racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying at work. --He says he has been attacked by black men and white females. --He talks about how he was attacked for being a gay, black man

“Yes, it will sound like I am angry...I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace....”

“The church shooting was the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily...I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!!”.

Exceptionalism in full effect

by digby

In the wake of a shooting like the one this morning in which a reporter and her cameraman were shot and killed live on the air, we re not allowed to talk about gun violence because it's considered inappropriate by all the people who profess to hate political correctness so much.

So, I'll just draw your attention to this and say nothing:


"Clinton's the One We Want to Run Against ... We love Hillary ... I want Donald Trump running against Hillary"

by Gaius Publius

As the video below makes clear, Ann Coulter wants a Donald Trump–Hillary Clinton contest in the general election and fears a Bernie Sanders matchup:

Ann Coulter on Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and whom she'd rather run against (h/t Justin Lane at the Ring of Fire Radio site)

Since she's speaking with Lou Dobbs in the friendly confines of Fox News, I take her as sincere, not blowing smoke. The key quote:

I wish Fox News would go a little easier on Hillary Clinton. She’s the one we want to run against. ... Our next president could be Bernie Sanders if you people keep this up. ... We love Hillary ... I want Donald Trump running against Hillary.

This, combined with digby's recent observation that some Democratic movers and shakers may be getting nervous about a Clinton candidacy, raises again the question about whether Democrats would rather lose with an insider-friendly candidate than win with someone who wants to dismantle — or at least seriously modify — the insider-controlled DC game.

To be fair, I take digby's point to be that even among Dem circles, the Clintons are seen and treated differently than most mainstream Democrats; thus the temporary "Biden boomlet" as she calls it. Still, she sees as I do that the real competition for Clinton is Sanders, not Biden or anyone like him (my emphasis):
But going back to the 90s the Democratic elite have always been ready to abandon Clinton at the first sign of trouble. The pseudo-scandals turn them into nervous nellies every single time.

Do I think it will make a difference? No. If Clinton has a real rival it's Sanders, who has captured the imagination of the large liberal faction of the Party. Biden could jump in and it would be a thrilling story for the media, but having the support of a bunch of rich guys and timorous political types won't get the job done.
So let's go back to Coulter's point. If she and at least some others in Republican circles prefer not to run against Sanders, why is that?

What Bernie Sanders Offers Voters

Bernie Sanders offers voters what Donald Trump offers — he agrees with them on the issues, unlike the "deciders" in both parties. Thom Hartmann (my emphasis):

Why Republicans Vote for Bernie

... You won't hear me say this often, but Ann Coulter is right.

If Bernie Sanders ends up being the Democratic nominee for president, and it looks more and more every day like he will be, his Republican opponent is going to have a very hard time beating him.

And that's because of all the Democratic candidates running, Bernie Sanders has the best chance of capturing Republican votes.

While Americans disagree on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, they're actually pretty unified on the bread and butter economic issues that Bernie has made the core of his campaign.

In fact, a recent poll by the Progressive Change Institute, shows that Americans overwhelmingly agree with Bernie on key issues like education, health care and the economy.

Like Bernie, 75 percent of Americans poll support fair trade that "protects workers, the environment and jobs."

Seventy-one percent support giving all students access to a debt-free college education.

Seventy-one percent support a massive infrastructure spending program aimed at rebuilding our broken roads and bridges, and putting people back to work.

Seventy percent support expanding Social Security.

Fifty-nine percent support raising taxes on the wealthy so that millionaires pay the same amount in taxes as they did during the Reagan administration.

Fifty-eight percent support breaking up the big banks.

Fifty-five percent support a financial transaction or Robin Hood tax.

Fifty-one percent support single payer health care, and so and so on.

Pretty impressive, right?

And here's the thing - supporting Social Security, free college, breaking up the big banks, aren't "progressive" policies, they're just common sense, and 60 years ago they would have put Bernie Sanders smack dab in the mainstream of my father's Republican Party.

This is why Ann Coulter is so scared of Bernie becoming the Democratic nominee.

I've been in a number of discussions with progressive activists about Clinton's electability. The contention is that with very strong support from women, Clinton's electoral advantage over Sanders is considerable. As digby wrote in Salon:
It’s worth noting, however, that in the latest Fox poll, Clinton leads Sanders by 6 points among Democratic men and a staggering 44 points among Democratic women. That’s not enough to win the general election, but it’s a fairly good indication that for a large number of Democrats, this “first” is worth the risk.
That's one case that can be made.

The contrary case is that Hillary Clinton's increasingly obvious "friend of money" status will depress Democratic turnout overall, the way that turnout was depressed in 2014 when voters were offered a field of predominately "mainstream" (insider, friend-of-money) candidates. They voted for progressive ballot measures (marijuana reform and minimum wage measures, for example), yet voted against Beltway-blessed, Wall Street–friendly Democrats who favored them.

It seems every day I see a new piece like this:

Or this:

Hillary Clinton Has Hired a Former Keystone Pipeline Lobbyist

Hillary Clinton has hired a former lobbyist for the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, further upsetting environmentalists who have long been wary of her commitment to fighting climate change.

BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith reported on Wednesday that the Clinton campaign has hired Jeffrey Berman as a campaign consultant. Berman, who began working for the campaign earlier this month, once lobbied on behalf of TransCanada, the company that hopes to build a pipeline carrying tar sands oil from Canada to the southern coast of the U.S.

R.L. Miller of Climate Hawks Vote said Berman's hiring "is a disappointment—especially as Martin O'Malley is taking flight based on the best climate plan I've seen from a candidate, and Bernie Sanders continues to soar."

Has this information percolated down to low-interest voters? Likely not in the details. But the narrative has been set for a while, new stories keep coming, and "Hillary Clinton, friend of Wall Street" is not going to inspire much loyalty among any but the big-money set.

Even Joe Biden, the "senator from MBNA," is now having "Clinton, friend-of-money" fears:
It's not just Hillary Clinton's trouble shaking criticism over her use of a private email account while secretary of state that he's watching. Biden has also expressed concerns in conversations with fellow Democrats that Clinton won't be able to effectively push issues like economic inequality, owing to her time at the Clinton foundation and the paid speeches she's given since leaving the State Department.
Could Ann Coulter could be right? If Sanders gets a chance in the primary to make his case to voters, and isn't defeated ahead of time by money-friendly party insiders, we may find out. (If you like, you can help him here; adjust the split any way you wish at the link.)

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)



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