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"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." -- Sinclair Lewis

Last Build Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2016 01:45:30 +0000


Putin Would Be A Much Worse Problem For Trump Than Adderall Or Even Cocaine

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 01:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">A NYTimes intrepid team of reporters-- Patrick Healy, Ashley Parker and the indefatigable Maggie Haberman-- talked to a gaggle of Trump advisors who are tiptoeing through the mine-field of getting a little teensy-weensy pivot out of Trump about how he approaches debates. "A delicate approach to the candidate," they wrote, "is now in the works. Before his advisers can shape Mr. Trump’s performance for the next debate, on Oct. 9 in St. Louis-- which, contrary to speculation, he does plan to attend, a top aide said — they need to convince him that he can do better than he did in the first one and that only a disciplined, strategic attack can damage Mrs. Clinton with voters." No one wanted to mention Trump's obvious drug problem and how it manifested itself Monday night but, they reported that "even as Mr. Trump’s advisers publicly backed him on Tuesday and praised his debate performance, they were privately awash in second-guessing about why he stopped attacking Mrs. Clinton on trade and character issues and instead grew erratic, impatient and subdued as the night went on. In interviews, seven campaign aides and advisers, most of whom sought anonymity to speak candidly, expressed frustration and discouragement over their candidate’s performance Monday night."But Trump may have bigger problems than his horrible demeanor or an addiction to cocaine dating back to his man-about-town Studio 54 days. Most Americans are unaware of Trump's close ties to Russia but they have told pollsters that that would be a deal breaker. A national post-convention poll from the very end of July shows that "the Vladimir Putin/Russia issue has the potential to cause Donald Trump a lot of problems in the weeks ahead. Only 7% of Americans view Putin favorably to 69% with a negative opinion and only 14% see Russia as a whole favorably to 52% with a negative view. By a 47 point margin-- 5% more likely, 52% less likely-- voters say they're less likely to vote for a candidate if it's perceived Russia is interfering in the election to try to help them. And by a 26 point margin-- 9% more likely, 35% less likely-- they're less likely to vote for a candidate seen as being friendly toward Russia. If Democrats can effectively leverage this issue in the weeks ahead it has the potential to help turn this into a more lopsided race."Watch Olbermann-- the tip of the spear-- up top and look at the independent ad that started running today at the bottom. Many people claim-- and with good reason-- that Trump is willing to take a pummeling for not releasing his tax returns because they would disprove his assurances that he has no binding ties to Russia. Even the ultra-conservative Arizona Republic cited Trump's Russia/Putin problem when they endorsed Clinton this week, the first time they've endorsed a Democrat since their founding in 1890! Trump has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, a thug who has made it clear he wants to expand Russia’s international footprint.Trump suggested Russia engage in espionage against Hillary Clinton-- an outrageous statement that he later insisted was meant in jest.Michael Isikoff reported a few days ago that U.S. intelligence officials are trying to determine if a Trump campaign official, Carter Page, has promised close Putin cronies Igor Diveykin and Igor Sechin, that if Trump is elected president he will lift U.S. economic sanctions. That would be illegal. The activities of Trump adviser Carter Page, who has extensive business interests in Russia, have been discussed with senior members of Congress during recent briefings about suspected efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential election, the sources said. After one of those briefings, Senate minority leader Harry Reid wrote FBI Director James Comey, citing reports of meetings between a Trump adviser (a reference to Page) and “high ranking sanctioned individuals” in Moscow over the summer as evidence of “significant and disturbing ties” between th[...]

How about MISTER Piggy? How Trump Uses Expensive Doctors To Make Himself Look Less Porcine

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 21:00:00 +0000

By now, everyone knows the story of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado-- first explained at this blog in last June-- but the way Trump treated her was not unique to his attitude-- and actions-- towards women he did business with. He has a long, ugly history of discriminating against women who he didn't judge as attractive enough. This morning the L.A. Times reported that when Trump visited his golf course in Rancho Palos Verdes "the club’s managers went on alert. They scheduled the young, thin, pretty women on staff to work the clubhouse restaurant-- because when Trump saw less-attractive women working at his club, according to court records, he wanted them fired... Employees said several women quit or were fired because they were perceived as unattractive." Employees and ex-employees are still afraid to speak on the record about their experiences in fear of being sued by the suit-happy Trump, whose lawyers routinely terrorize anyone and everyone who tells the truth about him. In their sworn declarations, some employees described how Trump, during his stays in Southern California, made inappropriate and patronizing statements to the women working for him.On one visit, Trump saw “a young, attractive hostess working named Nicole ... and directed that she be brought to a place where he was meeting with a group of men,” former Trump restaurant manager Charles West said in his declaration.“After this woman had been presented to him, Mr. Trump said to his guests something like, 'See, you don't have to go to Hollywood to find beautiful women,'” West said. “He also turned to Nicole and asked her, ‘Do you like Jewish men?’"...Female employees said they faced additional pressures.Strozier, the former catering director, said Vincent Stellio-- a former Trump bodyguard who had risen to become a Trump Organization vice president-- approached her in 2003 about an employee that Strozier thought was talented.Stellio wanted the employee fired because she was overweight, Strozier said in her legal filing."Mr. Stellio told me to do this because 'Mr. Trump doesn't like fat people' and that he would not like seeing [the employee] when he was on the premises,” wrote Strozier, who said she refused the request. (Stellio died in 2010.)A year later, Mike van der Goes-- a golf pro who had been promoted to be Trump National’s general manager-- made a similar request to fire the same overweight employee, Strozier said.“Mr. van der Goes told me that he wanted me to do this because of [the employee's] appearance and the fact that Mr. Trump didn't like people that looked like her,” Strozier wrote.When Strozier protested, Van der Goes returned a week later “and announced he had a plan of hiding [the employee] whenever Mr. Trump was on the premises,” Strozier wrote.West, who worked as a restaurant manager at the club until 2008, wrote that Van der Goes ordered him “to hire young, attractive women to be hostesses.” West also said Van der Goes insisted that he “would need to meet all such job applicants first to determine if they were sufficiently pretty."Even Trump supporters find his behavior towards women repulsiveConservative Democrat Claire McCaskill (MO) tried turning the tables on Trump Wednesday with some reverse fat shaming, jokingly asking for "a public daily weigh-in" for the obese Trump. At the debate Monday he may have made fun of some unnamed 400 pound hacker on a bed he knows-- a governor?-- but when Trump was barking about how the extremely beautiful and dignified Alicia Mercado was too fat and ate too much, he was getting cosmetic surgery done regularly to make himself appear younger and less of a fat slob on a Chris Christie level of rotundity. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Remember the big commotion when child molester Mark Foley went to some Trumpist hate rally in Ft Lauderdale, Florid[...]

Congress Overrides Obama Veto; 9/11 Families Can Sue Saudi Officials — and Associated U.S. Companies?

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:00:00 +0000

President Barack Obama and Saudi Arabia's King Salman walk together to a meeting at Erga Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster (source)by Gaius PubliusThis story is straight-forward but has two interesting wrinkles. The House and Senate recently (and unanimously) passed a bill that drills a loophole into the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and allows victims of terrorism to sue foreign sponsors of attacks on U.S. soil.The families of 9/11 victims had pushed hard for it. Most congressional Democrats and Republicans were united in supporting it. Only the executive branch, meaning President Obama, was opposed (more on that in a moment). So the bill passed ... and Obama vetoed it.The Senate has now overridden his veto, 97–1 (only Harry Reid opposed; two not voting), quickly followed by the House override (348–77). Here's the write-up via The Hill:Senate overrides Obama 9/11 veto in overwhelming voteThe Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to override President Obama’s veto of a bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia.The 97-1 vote marks the first time the Senate has mustered enough support to overrule Obama’s veto pen.Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was the sole vote to sustain Obama’s veto. Not a single Democrat came to the Senate floor before the vote to argue in favor of Obama’s position. ...The White House lashed out at the Senate vote, calling it "embarrassing."“I would venture to say that this is the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done, possibly, since 1983,” Obama spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One. Here's what the legislation (acronym: JASTA) would do: The legislation ... was crafted primarily at the urging of the families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks who want to sue Saudi Arabian officials if they are found to have links to the hijackers who flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Which means the Saudis, naturally, were opposed:The Saudi Embassy and a high-priced team of lobbyists it hired waged an intense campaign to persuade lawmakers to sustain the override, but it came too late.So there's money involved, and given the wealth of the Saudis, a lot of it. Still, not enough to "persuade" either house of Congress to support the president's veto. The Saudi government's opposition is easy to understand — they don't want to be sued for ginning up anti-U.S. terrorism while selling us oil. But what about Obama's opposition? Obama's OppositionI'll give you two data points, in the form of administration quotes, that offer an explanation for Obama's veto. First, Obama says he doesn't want to put what's been characterized as "U.S. military, intelligence and foreign service personnel [and] U.S. government assets" at risk. The Hill again:Obama warned in a veto message to the Senate last week that the bill would improperly give legal plaintiffs and the courts authority over complex and sensitive questions of state-sponsored terrorism. He also cautioned that it would undermine protections for U.S. military, intelligence and foreign service personnel serving overseas, as well as possibly subject U.S. government assets to seizure. ...“The consequences of JASTA [the bill] could be devastating to the Department of Defense and its service members — and there is no doubt that the consequences could be equally significant for our foreign affairs and intelligence communities,” [Obama] wrote in the letter, which was later circulated by a public affairs company working for the embassy of Saudi Arabia.From the last sentence, you can see that the Saudis and Obama are working together on this. No surprise. A little more on what Obama says he fears, via USA Today:The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, would provide an exception to the doctrine of "sovereign immunity," which holds that one country can't be sued in another country's courts. ...The White House has argued t[...]

Today's House Financial Services Committee Meeting Will Demonstrate Why Not All Democrats Measure Up

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 13:00:00 +0000

Sleaze bag Sean Duffy is chair of the Financial Services' Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations-- Wells Fargo singled him out for this year's biggest bribe. Wonder why!Today the most corrupted corner of Congress, the House Financial Services Committee, gets to "question" crooked Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, who Elizabeth Warren made mince-meat out of last week. Don't expect too many serious holding feet to the fire moments today. Members request getting onto the House Financial Services Committee primarily to be in position to be on the receiving end of the most gigantic flow of bribes in the history of Congress. Since 1990 the Financial Sector has doled out $2,375,923,205 in bribes to members of Congress and candidates for Congress. That's 2.3 BILLION dollars in flat-out bribes. And that's not because banksters are civic-minded! The surest way to get on that gravy train is to get on the House Financial Services Committee. Is it any wonder there is so little oversight of Wall Street predators?The OpenSecrets chart above-- which only covers 2015-16-- shows the 25 Members of the House who have solicited and taken the most in bribery from the banksters. Shockingly-- or, alas, maybe not-- 13 of the most corrupt are members of the committee that's supposed to be keeping the banksters from ripping off the country, 10 typically crooked Republicans and the 3 most corrupt New Dems in Washington: Patrick Murphy (FL), Kirsten Sinema (AZ) and Jim Himes (CT). Some in Washington joke that when the House Financial Services Committee meets there's quorum for a meeting of the Wall Street owned and operated New Dems, the Republican wing of the Democratic Party.Thanks to Warren's very public grilling-- flambé-ing?-- of Stumpf last week, on Tuesday Wells Fargo's board of directors announced that they are clawing back $41 million in stock options from the crooked CEO and $19 million from the retired bankster who was directly responsible for the scandal, Carrie Tolstedt. Neither gets a bonus this year and Tolstedt gets no golden parachute severance package. The board also hired a law firm to do an independent investigation. The Labor Department has also launched an investigation of its own. What about the SEC and the Justice Department. What are they waiting for? Sworn affidavits of guilt from Stumpf, Tolstedt and the other top brass at Wells Fargo who ordered the theft of millions of dollars from the bank's customers to boost their annual bonuses?But who at tomorrow's hearings can we expect any serious oversight from? Certainly not from one of the biggest crooks on the committee of all, Sean Duffy, the head of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Duffy took more in bribes from Wells Fargo this cycle than any other member of the committee-- $15,000 this year alone! His Democratic opponent this year back in Wisconsin's 7th CD, Mary Hoeft, issued a statement to residents of northwest Wisconsin saying that "Sean Duffy, chair of a congressional banking oversight subcommittee, accepted more than $400,000 in political contributions from bankers to use against me in this campaign. At the very least, Sean should have acknowledged the ethical dilemma he faced when accepting money from the bankers he oversees. That doesn't appear to be the case. He is doubling down on his efforts to cripple the Consumer's Financial Protection Bureau, the very agency designed by Elizabeth Warren and others to make sure Big Banks are never able to bring our economy to its knees again--an economy where 7 million Americans lost their homes to bankruptcy." (You can contribute to Mary's campaign to replace Duffy here.)Will Murphy even show up?All the Republicans on the committee are Wall Street stooges-- them! They will be defending Wall Street with all their might today-- pushing Wall Street's #1 agenda item of destroying the CFPB-- while pretending to be as stern with Strumpf as they sometimes make believe they are with Drumpf. T[...]

Who Wants To Double Down On The Catastrophically Failed War On Drugs?

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000

Monday we learned exactly who. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy scheduled a debate on Charlie Dent's Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act (H.R. 3537) for Monday. It puts 22 synthetic compounds-- including 11 used to create synthetic marijuana (K2 or Spice)-- on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), forcing mandatory minimum sentences on violators. Proponents of the legislation claim it's meant to combat drug abuse. The vote was 258-101 but it was an interesting breakdown. Most Republicans voted YES and most Democrats voted NO, but that doesn't really tell the story at all. McCarthy and Dent led 192 Republicans to back it and they were joined by 66 mostly right-wing Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- Blue Dogs like Gwen Graham (FL), Henry Cuellar (TX), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Jim Cooper (TN), and Brad Ashford (NE) and New Dems like Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), Ann Kuster (NH), Patrick Murphy (FL), Gerald Connolly (VA), John Delaney (MD), Jim Himes (CT), Scott Peters (CA), Denny Heck (WA) and drugged up mess Pete Aguilar (CA). Meanwhile, the House Liberty Caucus led the opposition and 20 Republicans joined 81 Democrats in voting against the bill. 72 members-- 33 Republicans and 39 Democrats-- weren't able to vote on the bill at all, many because of air traffic delays.Most, though not all of the progressives joined Pelosi in voting NO, including Raul Grijalva (AZ), Barbara Lee (CA), Matt Cartwright (PA), Mark Pocan (WI), Judy Chu (CA), Donna Edwards (MD), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), John Conyers (MI), Mike Honda (CA), and John Lewis (GA). After the vote, Mark Pocan of Madison told us why he and many of his colleagues opposed the legislation. "This bill significantly expands mandatory minimum sentences. We are talking about ruining people’s lives with 20 year mandatory sentences without really thinking through the real issues of the war on drugs. Many of us in Washington are desperately trying to find ways to reform our criminal justice system and rectify the devastating effects of drug addiction, and adding these synthetic drugs as Schedule I is missing the larger point." allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Similarly, Donna Edwards told us she sees the bill as "a sad step backwards at a time that the nation should be focused on reforms that roll back the flawed policies of mandatory minimum sentencing that contributed to mass incarceration. The bill adds 22 synthetic drugs to the federal schedule that could result in the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences. The problem of drug abuse that is so destructive to families and communities must be met with smart, fair, and balanced policies that invest in treatment rather than more incarceration."The companion bill in the Senate was proposed by noted anti-civil libertarians Chuck Grassley and Chuck Schumer. Among the House Republicans more enlightened about how the criminal justice system is evolving than the very involved Schumer, not to mention Grassley, were pretty far right members of Congress like Dave Brat (VA), Tim Huelskamp (KS), Jason Chaffetz (UT), Mark Sanford (SC), Barry Loudermilk (GA), Mick Mulvaney (SC), Justin Amash (MI), Tom McClintock (CA), Raul Labrador (ID), Scott Garrett (NJ) and Mo Brooks (AL), not exactly "bleeding heart liberals." allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">[...]

How to keep track of the ways a Trump vote is a declaration of suicidal cretinism? "New Yorker" cartoonist David Sipress spotlights one

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 01:00:00 +0000

She asked totally unfair questions and
someone purposely broke my pencil.

by Ken

As I expected, quarantining myself from The Debate didn't protect me from it. As I always say when I explain that I just don't watch campaign debates even when both parties fall within the expanded-normal spectrum of humanity, whatever I need to know about them finds its way to me, in spades. From what I'm gathering, even the astoundingly low expectations The Donald created for himself didn't shield him from a disastrous performance. At the same time, though, as far as I can tell, it doesn't seem to be making any difference in the grand scheme of things.

Understanding the Trump Voter has become a new cottage industry, but it's not enhancing my understanding, which continues to put me in mind of the all-too-forthcoming declaration my college roommate Brian recalled a local pol in his hometown of Manchester, NH, declaring: "Once I make up my mind, I don't let facts get in the way of my opinion."

I understand that those Trump Voters are feeling left out and are willing to sign on to just about any program that offers hope of systemic change. What I don't understand is how they manage not to see -- among the thousands of way sin which even thinking about voting for such a creature is an act of suicidal cretinism -- is that nobody in history has more enthusiastically supported and profited from that system.

Anyway, above we have David Sipress's Daily Cartoon, spotlighting a quality that, again, you'd think would jump out at even the most obstinately unobservant observer: the man's automatic and invariable practice of blaming everything that happens in his miserable existence on somebody else.

How Do You Feel About Trump-- Or Any President-- Being Able To Launch A Nuclear First Strike Without Congressional Approval?

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 21:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) is worth following on Twitter... even if you don't live in his Los Angeles area district (which stretches from Agoura Hills and Malibu in the north, through Santa Monica, Westwood, Venice and Beverly Hills and down to El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Torrance, Redondo Beach and Rancho Palos Verdes in the south). He often follows live events unfolding and comments on them with an incredible depth of knowledge and wisdom (and humor) in real time, something few members of Congress are willing to do. This morning I asked him about a bill he and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) just introduced in both houses of Congress, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2016. The bill is designed to prohibit a President from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress. "The crucial issue of nuclear first use-- discussed in last evening’s Presidential Debate-- is all the more urgent given the fact that a majority of Americans do not trust Republican Nominee Donald Trump with our nation’s nuclear arsenal."A full Air Force Colonel in the Air National Reserves, Rep. Lieu expanded on some of his tweeting from the debate. "In last night’s Presidential Debate," he told me, "Donald Trump once again proved that he is categorically unfit to be President of the United States because he lacks the temperament and qualifications to serve as Commander in Chief.  As a result, the crucial issue of first use of nuclear weapons is all the more urgent in light of the possibility that Trump could be sworn in as the 45th President in January 2017.  That’s why Senator Ed Markey and I have introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2016.  This legislation would align America’s nuclear weapons policy with the Constitution by prohibiting the President from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress."The official press release for the bill emphasizes that "Our Founding Fathers would be rolling over in their graves if they knew the President could launch a massive, potentially civilization-ending military strike without authorization from Congress. Our Constitution created a government based on checks and balances and gave the power to declare war solely to the people’s representatives. A nuclear first strike, which can kill hundreds of millions of people and invite a retaliatory strike that can destroy America, is war. The current nuclear launch approval process, which gives the decision to potentially end civilization as we know it to a single individual, is flatly unconstitutional. I am proud to introduce the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2016 with Sen. Markey to realign our nation’s nuclear weapons launch policy with the Constitution."Markey was very much on the same page: "Nuclear war poses the gravest risk to human survival. Unfortunately, by maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict, U.S. policy increases the risk of unintended nuclear escalation. The President should not use nuclear weapons except in response to a nuclear attack. This legislation enshrines this simple principle into law. I thank Rep. Lieu for his partnership on this common-sense bill during this critical time in our nation’s history."They enlisted former Secretary of Defense William Perry to help them make the case. He told legislators that during his time at the Pentagon he "never confronted a situation, or could even imagine a situation, in which I would recommend that the President make a first strike with nuclear weapons-- understanding that such an action, whatever the provocation, would likely bring about the end of civilization. I believe that the legislation proposed by Congressman Lieu and Senator Markey recognizes[...]

Obama Administration Quietly Announces Rule Changes, Substantially Weakens Endangered Species Act

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 17:00:00 +0000

Endangered species by county in the U.S. This includes only the species that have been listed, not the many still under (very slow) review. (Source; click to enlarge)by Gaius PubliusThanks to Jeffrey St. Clair at Counterpunch for this heads-up...In related news, the Obama administration quietly announced today drastic rule changes that will substantially weaken the Endangered Species Act by placing complicated and intractable burdens on environmental groups working to protect rare species. The rule changes are deemed a huge gift to the timber, mining and oil cartels....we find another of what has to be called a betrayal by Barack Obama, once more selling out the public interest to those with plenty of cash to spread around. In this case it's the big-money people running the industries listed above — timber, mining and oil extraction. The details, from Lydia Wheeler at The Hill (my emphasis):Endangered species rule changed, angering environmental groupThe Obama administration is changing the process for petitioning the government to protect an endangered or threatened animal.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries finalized a rule Monday that changes the process by which species are petitioned for listing, delisting or reclassification under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).Under the rule, first proposed in May 2015, petitioners will be required to notify each state wildlife agency where a species is located at least 30 days before submitting a petition to the federal government. The delay will gives states an opportunity to provide agencies with pertinent information on the species.The new rule also restricts the number of species that can be petitioned for at one time. Under the rule, only one species is allowed per petition. Note that this is being done entirely within the Executive Branch, at Barack Obama's sole discretion. No congressional stimulus was needed.The lie is in the explanation of this industry-friendly change. As the article notes: "The agencies say the changes will allow them to better leverage limited resources and more effectively conserve America’s imperiled wildlife."The opposite, of course, is true. The "limited resources" are a result of budget cuts, which means the agency is underfunded, and the statement that the rule will "more effectively" conserve imperiled wildlife, they mean "less effectively." According to Brett Hartl at the Center for Biological Diversity, the change will indeed further weaken enforcement of the Endangered Species Act:These new restrictions on citizen petitions are nothing more than a gift to industries and right-wing states that are hostile to endangered species. ... These rules make it harder to get imperiled species the Endangered Species Act protections they desperately need and they do nothing to address the backlog of hundreds of imperiled species that are still waiting to get the protections they deserve.In addition, the change that requires petitioners to notify states prior to petitioning the Fish and Wildlife Service gives developers in those states a nice heads up.  The piece also notes that a legally mandated two-year process is taking more than a decade for most applications, thus the backlog. Note that the applications place species on the list — until listed, companies can do with them as they choose. Your bottom line — Would a new Trump administration be almost completely evil, in this and most other regards? Of course. (I'll write more about how it would be evil if it looks like there may be one. Trump would be worse than Bush for one unique and simple reason. He won't be the one governing.)But will a second Clinton administration be any better at protecting public resources from big-money campaign donors who want to exploit (monetize) and pillage them? Three guesses.GP  [...]

Would Trump's Cocaine Addiction Affect His Ability To Be President?

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 13:00:00 +0000

And you wonder why he only sleeps 3 hours a night?By the time I started working at Warner Bros Records I had long given up drugs, something I left behind with the 1960s, a dear old friend that was no longer part of my life. "Drugs," for the most part meant marijuana. Smoking weed had been an integral part of my college life and it ended there. I was in a sweltering parking lot in my van at the Pakistan-India border on December 1, 1969 when I had a life-changing experience. Instead of having to exercise will power top avoid drugs-- something I sometimes succeeded at and sometimes failed at-- the desire itself was ripped from my body. Thank God! And that was the end of that. A life of drug use was o-v-e-r. The pull wasn't something I had to resist; it no longer existed. And in those years I was smoking pot, I was, less regularly, using other drugs as well. I tried almost everything and I loved some, like acid, and hated others, like DMT. Cocaine was something in between-- something that gave me a lot of pleasure but that I could tell was very bad for me. It wasn't hard for me to stop using it-- considerably before by experience in my VW van on the Pakistan-India border. I never felt the slightest interest in using it since and soon it'll be 50 years!But I still remember very much what it's like to be high on coke or to be strung out on coke. What time did the debate start last night? 4-5 minutes after 6 (PT)? 10 minutes in-- check the time stamp-- I sensed something crazy about Trump-- I mean crazy in a different than normal Trump crazy way. I had heard rumors in the past that he had a prescription drug problem and certainly what could have happened last night was that he chopped up some adderall of something and snorted it before hitting the stage. Hey, don't be judgmental; different people prepare in different ways. When I was in the midst of chemotherapy, somewhere along the line my doctor prescribed adderall. I hated it. But many people love it and its supposed to be especially helpful for people who, like Trump, have short attention spans. It contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which stimulate the central nervous system and affect chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. Just sayin'. But adderall isn't what I was sensing even in the first few minutes of the debate. Nor were the diet pills (meth) he used to peddle on his pyramid scheme infomercials. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">This is what I tweeted 10 minutes in:Ten minutes later I wasn't laughing. He really was coked up! The next tweet:Right around that time Hillary was saying, "Donald, I know you live in your own reality." Yeah, he does, but what I was feeling was that at the moment he was living in a cocaine reality. 11 minutes passed and I was positive.Utterly positive... it was totally affecting his thought and speech patterns, even more than usual:So was my old friend Susan positive-- and she's very smart:I was glad I wasn't the only one who noticed. Another old friend, a Warner Bros co-worker, Steve, sent me a photo:I ran a little poll when I noticed the incoherent babbling was getting worse and worse.That's when the DWT art director sent me the photo up top. GOP strategist--and hipster-- Rick Wilson seemed to recognize the same same thing:I wondered why no one in the mainstream media was saying anything about it. Then he started blaming all the sniffing on a "defective mic," something he doubled down on the next morning when he was making a fool of himself on Fox and Friends.By the end of the night, I was suggesting that Kellyanne check him into one of those fancy Republican Party detox centers where they put their officials when everything explodes on their faces. I learned today that about an h[...]

Media Still Unwilling To Say What Everyone Already Knows-- That Christie Ordered Bridge Closure And Coverup

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000

I don't know if politics attracts inherently corrupt individuals or if politics turns weak individuals corrupt, but I'd one of those explanations or the other covers most of the American political establishment. My informed guess is that by the time Chris Christie-- an anti-regulations lobbyist (on behalf of corrupt banksters, the energy industry and for-profit higher education), a former Morris County freeholder and then a Bush appointee to the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey job-- he was already a rotting, stinking cesspool of corruption. All of his early campaigns resulted in lawsuits based on misconduct. As State Attorney, he went after his political foes and get Big Business off again and again. But the media cover Christie as though he was born, immaculately, in the Governor's chair and, at worst, was the victim of nefarious staffers.Yesterday's NYTimes, in covering two of the country's most egregiously corrupt governors-- Christe and his pal Andrew Cuomo-- was quick to point out that of the 2 criminal masterminds who should be sharing a prison cell, "neither governor is accused of breaking the law" and that the two gang leaders claim "to have been blind to alleged acts of petty revenge and bribery at the highest levels of state government seems bad enough." The Times doesn't point out that the claims are ludicrous. Each man had cultivated a small group of trusted advisers who, driven by unshakable tribal loyalty and a hunger to see their bosses taste the White House one day, enforced the governor’s will, punished his enemies and rewarded his friends.For Mr. Christie, they included Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, the two former officials currently on trial, and Bill Stepien, his former top lieutenant, an old friend and political operative who left ears ringing across New Jersey on the governor’s behalf.They met for strategy sessions around Mr. Christie’s kitchen table in Mendham and mingled at N.F.L. games. They worked together to single out local officials who supported the governor’s 2013 re-election bid for perks and to mete out revenge to those who did not-- including Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee, N.J., a Democrat who, having declined to endorse the governor, got a catastrophic traffic jam in return, prosecutors say.Their equivalents in Albany were a group of stalwarts who had marched at Mr. Cuomo’s side, in some cases as far back as the administration of Mr. Cuomo’s father, former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, who became governor in 1983. The men, and they were all men, even had a “term of endearment” for one another, according to the federal criminal complaint released on Thursday: “Herb.” (It remains unclear why.)Chief among them was Joseph Percoco, who had started working for the elder Mr. Cuomo when he was 19. So high was his place in the family firmament that during Mr. Cuomo’s eulogy for his father in January 2015, he called Mr. Percoco “my father’s third son, who I sometimes think he loved the most.”It was Mr. Percoco who, everyone in New York’s political establishment understood, woke Mr. Cuomo up in the morning, dispensed threats for him during the day and put him to bed at night.It was also Mr. Percoco, working with another “Herb” and former Cuomo aide, Todd R. Howe, who shook down a developer and an energy company for at least $315,000 in bribes in exchange for putting his considerable power at their service, prosecutors say.There was the legal opinion that Mr. Percoco got reversed. The energy policy decisions, made by state experts, that he overrode. The $5,700 raise, the criminal complaint says, that he berated human-resources staff at the governor’s office into approving for the son of an executive who had paid him off.And there was the fact, apparent from the complaint, that no one in state government questioned his authori[...]

Mr. Trump Is Bad Man

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 01:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Over the weekend, when the NYTimes published it's largely positive endorsement of Clinton the editors promised an anti-Trump version soon. "Soon" came quickly. Monday they hit the stands with an entirely negative slam against the candidate from down the street who they've known so well for so long: Why Donald Trump Should Not Be President. Even before they could go to town on Trump, his campaign attacked The Times: "The news that the ultra-liberal, elitist, out-of-touch New York Times Editorial Board endorsed an ultra-liberal, elitist, out-of-touch candidate in Hillary Clinton has to be some of the least surprising news ever." Nor is the indictment from Keith Olbermann above-- an addendum to last week's rant-- nor the Trump-goring The Times served up yesterday.They endeavored to lay out how Trump is selling himself to the voters and "why he can't be believed, starting with the utter nonsense about him being some kind of a "financial wizard who can bring executive magic to government." Despite his towering properties, Mr. Trump has a record rife with bankruptcies and sketchy ventures like Trump University, which authorities are investigating after numerous complaints of fraud. His name has been chiseled off his failed casinos in Atlantic City.Mr. Trump’s brazen refusal to disclose his tax returns-- as Mrs. Clinton and other nominees for decades have done-- should sharpen voter wariness of his business and charitable operations. Disclosure would undoubtedly raise numerous red flags; the public record already indicates that in at least some years he made full use of available loopholes and paid no taxes.Mr. Trump has been opaque about his questionable global investments in Russia and elsewhere, which could present conflicts of interest as president, particularly if his business interests are left in the hands of his children, as he intends. Investigations have found self-dealing. He notably tapped $258,000 in donors’ money from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits involving his for-profit businesses, according to the Washington Post.No critique of Trump is complete without mentioning that he's a compulsive-- or in Ted Cruz's words, "pathological"-- liar who virtually never opens his yap without expelling utter bullshit from it. Trump, who has no experience in national security, declares that he has a plan to soundly defeat the Islamic State militants in Syria, but won’t reveal it, bobbing and weaving about whether he would commit ground troops. Voters cannot judge whether he has any idea what he’s talking about without an outline of his plan, yet Mr. Trump ludicrously insists he must not tip off the enemy.Another of his cornerstone proposals-- his campaign pledge of a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim newcomers plus the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants across a border wall paid for by Mexico-- has been subjected to endless qualifications as he zigs and zags in pursuit of middle-ground voters.Whatever his gyrations, Mr. Trump always does make clear where his heart lies-- with the anti-immigrant, nativist and racist signals that he scurrilously employed to build his base.He used the shameful “birther” campaign against President Obama’s legitimacy as a wedge for his candidacy. But then he opportunistically denied his own record, trolling for undecided voters by conceding that Mr. Obama was a born American. In the process he tried to smear Mrs. Clinton as the instigator of the birther canard and then fled reporters’ questions.Since his campaign began, NBC News has tabulated that Mr. Trump has made 117 distinct policy shifts on 20 major issues, including three contradictory views on [...]

Cruz And Trump-- Not Really That Much Of A Stretch

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 21:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Saturday afternoon Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith interviewed Ted Cruz in front of a lively audience in Austin, Texas' capital city, famously described as a big blue dot in a sea of red. When Cruz ran for the Senate he lost Austin-- badly. Travis County gave his opponent, Paul Sadler 224,070 votes (59%) and gave Cruz 133,354 (35%)-- around the same outcome that Obama and Romney had the same day. Austin voters believe in science and knowledge and don't believe in the hogwash that conservative ideologues like Ted Cruz peddle. To stifle it's voice and minimize it's electoral impact, Austin in divided up between 4 congressional districts. One of the congressmen-- far right Republican Lamar Smith, a Trump fanatic, was on the ballot that same day. He won his district, TX-21 61-35% but the Travis County part of the district was a nightmare for him. He lost in his part of Travis County 48,104 (61%) to 25,607 (32%) to Candace Duval, who spent $56,932 to Smith's $1,705,681. Point being: Austin might not be the best audience for Senator Cruz. So I applaud him for going to the University of Texas' Hogg Memorial Auditorium to be grilled-- and he was grilled-- about why he endorsed Trump. Evan Smith did a really good job.Cruz admitted his decision to endorse Trump was "agonizing." Why agonizing? Check out the video at the bottom of the page. But why did he do it? One-- he gave his word that he would endorse the winner of the GOP primary process, and, two-- he asked the campaign to guarantee him that they would pick Supreme Court nominees from an expanded list (21) of far right judicial extremists-- and they did. If you believe in Ted Cruz and his hope about being a principled, freedom-loving conservative, the story ends there.If on the other hand, you see Cruz as a crass and craven politician, who was staring at the end of his career after he tried the principled freedom-loving shtik in Cleveland, only to see it collapse catastrophically as Texas Republicans began openly debating who would be a better candidate to take him down in 2018, Rick Perry or Michael McCaul. Parenthetically, McCaul, who married into the Clear Channel fortune and is now one of the richest men in Congress, also has a chunk of Austin in his congressional district and of the 7 counties in the district only Travis County voted against him-- 51,121 (55%) for Tawana Cadien, an African-American nurse, to 37,302 (40%) for him. Cadien had spent $51,855 against McCaul's $1,075,667. On his Facebook post endorsing the same Trump he asserted "is a pathological liar" who "doesn't know the difference between truth and lies," one of his excuses for the endorsement was the time-honored conservative shibboleth-- he prayed on it. Yeah... God wants Ted Cruz to endorse the pathological liar.Anyway, if you don't see Cruz as the prayerful idealist, you might see that he decided to take the gamble that he'll be accepted back into the Republican mainstream fold now that he's kissed and made up with The Donald. Starting with Austerity-obsessed Paul Ryan, the party establishment has normalized Trump and successfully moved to paint him-- often against his will-- into a Republican-in-good-standing. The GOP grassroots now overwhelming sees him as such. Cruz keeps saying something to the effect of that no matter what one thinks of Trump, Hillary is the greater of two evils. More and more Republicans have been doing so in the last month. Cruz just came late to the party. Oh-- and that party is presided over by Cruz's biggest life-time donor, right-wing sociopath and hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer-- who also happens to be Trump's biggest donor and who was loudly pissed off that Cruz[...]

Law Firm Files Suit on Behalf of Government Against Giant Chemical Firms; Government Declines to Join

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 17:00:00 +0000

Victims blinded by a methyl isocyanate gas leak from a chemical factory in Bhopal, India, 1984 (source).by Gaius PubliusThis news brought to you by the hashtag #CultureOfCorruption. There's a fair amount to digest in the news story below, so I'll try to give you the short strokes first:Four huge chemical companies have been lying to the federal government about how dangerous some of its chemicals in consumer products are. These products include mattress foam.A whistleblower apparently went, not to the government, but to a law firm, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman — or at least came to the attention of the law firm, then didn't go to the government.The law firm is bringing a lawsuit against these companies, on behalf of the federal government, which has decline to join.The damages sought — $90 billion.I know there are questions around the way this is playing out. For example, why didn't the whistleblower(s) go to the government? Why isn't the government suing on its own behalf? And so on.About the first question, I think there's an obvious explanation. The Obama administration treats whistleblowers with disdain, and it also tends to give corporations, especially those with a lot of money to spread around, a considerable pass. After all, today's sued company could be tomorrow's campaign contributor, or employer. For example, Eric Holder came from and went back to a law firm that lobbies for Wall Street banks he himself failed to prosecute as Attorney General. About the second question, we'll have to see, as this story develops, what the Obama administration will do. But if they do decline to act, it may be time to look again at our hashtag.Now the story, from Lorainne Chow at EcoWatch (my emphasis):$90 Billion Whistleblower Suit Filed Against Four of the Nation's Largest Chemical CompaniesFour of the country's largest chemical companies have been accused of selling billions of dollars worth of harmful isocyanate chemicals but intentionally concealing their dangers to consumers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the past several decades.BASF Corporation, Bayer Material Science LLC, Dow Chemical Company and Huntsman International LLC have been named in a False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit brought by New York law firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP on behalf of the U.S. government.EcoWatch learned that the recently unsealed whistleblower lawsuit was served on the chemical companies on Wednesday. The lawsuit was originally filed under seal in federal court in Northern California.Kasowitz brought this action on behalf of itself and the federal government to recover more than $90 billion in damages and penalties under the FCA, which imposes penalties for concealing obligations to the government.According to a copy of the lawsuit seen by EcoWatch, "Each of these companies is separately liable to the United States Government for billions of dollars in civil reporting penalties, which continue to accumulate by tens of thousands of dollars daily, and for billions of dollars in similarly increasing breach of contract damages."In the suit, the law firm said that the defendants manufacture and sell isocyanate chemicals such as methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), polymeric MDI (PMDI) and toluene diisocyanate (TDI). These raw materials make up polyurethane products such as liquid coatings, paints and adhesives; flexible foam used in mattresses and cushions; rigid foam used as insulation; and elastomers used to make automotive interiors.Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that exposure to isocyanate can irritate the skin and mucous membranes, cause chest tightness and difficult breathing. Isocyanates also include compounds classified as potential h[...]

Herr Professor Trumpf Probably Never Heard Of Hayek, But I'm Sure Paul Ryan Will Try Explaining His Neoliberal Doctrine To Him

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 13:00:00 +0000

Ryan and his horde of congressional zombies have discovered hash tags and can't get enough of #BetterWay which is nothing more than a package of failed reactionary austerity plans that would utterly destroy the lives of working families. To Paul Ryan, whose intellectual development stopped in junior high school when he read his first Ayn Rand novela, #BetterWay is also the excuse for his support for as unqualified and dangerous a presidential candidate as Donald J. Trump. "He'll sign our legislation," he promises others interested in his goals for continuing the catastrophic neoliberal agenda Ryan has built his sorry career around.George Monbiot, writing in Friday's Guardian asked a crucial question the neoliberal disaster for working families, namely, why the left has been so ineffective in fighting it. In fact, he says, the left hasn't even bothered to define what it is and what dangers are lurking behind it. "It has," he offered, "played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has-- or had-- a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?" See how much Paul Ryan you recognize in this description: Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages-- such as education, inheritance and class-- that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.Never mind structural unemployment: if you don’t have a job it’s because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you’re feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it’s your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers....The term neoliberalism was coined at a meeting in Paris in 1938. Among the delegates were two men who came to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, they saw social democracy, exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the gradual development of Britain’s welfare state, as manifestations of a collectivism that occupied the same spectrum as nazism and communism.In The Road to Serfdom, p[...]

The Hell With Fact Checkers, The Debates Should Feature A Panel Of Psychiatrists

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000

Many in the media prepared for today's debate by doing features on how much Trump lies. People who have been paying attention for the last year-- or who have been aware of him outside of the political realm-- have long realized that virtually nothing he says is true. Before tonight, PolitiFact had investigated 259 statements he's made and found just 11 true (4%). 70% of his statements are false (and that leaves out another 15% that are half false). Look at the headline of yesterday's L.A. Times. They reported that "never in modern presidential politics has a major candidate made false statements as routinely as Trump has. Over and over, independent researchers have examined what the Republican nominee says and concluded it was not the truth-- but “pants on fire” (PolitiFact) or “four Pinocchios” (Washington Post Fact Checker). [T]he scope of Trump’s falsehoods is unprecedented, and he is dogged in refusing to stop saying things once they are proved untrue... Trump’s pattern of saying things that are provably false has no doubt contributed to his high unfavorable ratings. It also has forced journalists to grapple with how aggressive they should be in correcting candidates’ inaccurate statements, particularly in the presidential debates that start Monday. Thomas E. Mann, a resident scholar at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, said Trump appears to recognize that a faction of the Republican Party has lost respect for facts, evidence and science... “He’s a salesman,” Mann said. “He’s a con man. He’s hustled people out of money that they’re owed. He’s lived off tax shelters. He’s always looking for a scheme and a con, and in that sphere, you just fall into telling lies as a matter of course.”...Marty Kaplan, a professor of entertainment, media and society at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, has two theories on Trump’s falsehoods.Perhaps he’s just putting on  an act, like P.T. Barnum-- a “marketer, con, snake-oil salesman who knows better, knows how to get the rubes into the tent.” Or maybe, Kaplan suggested, Trump is just “completely unconstrained by logic, rules, tradition, truth, law.”“I’m confused,” he said, “whether the whole fact-free zone that he’s in is a strategic calculation or a kind of psychosis.”Over the weekend, Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns compiled a list of easily refutable whoppers Trump told-- just last week! Newspaper editorials are piling up against him; virtually all of them mention he's a compulsive liar when explaining why he's patently unfit for office. So what can we expect tomorrow? How many lies will Trump tell per question? His campaign has been screaming all week that fact-checking is unfair. There's an implicit threat he could walk out if a moderator points out that he's lying.On Sunday, Politico published a lengthy post fact-checking both candidates for a week. The headline: Donald Trump's Week Of Misrepresentations, Exaggerations And Half-Truths. At this point, his supporters are relieved when it's half-truths. We subjected every statement made by both the Republican and Democratic candidates – in speeches, in interviews and on Twitter – to our magazine’s rigorous fact-checking process. The conclusion is inescapable: Trump’s mishandling of facts and propensity for exaggeration so greatly exceed Clinton’s as to make the comparison almost ludicrous.Though few statements match the audacity of his statement about his role in questioning Obama’s citizenship, Trump has built a cottage industry around stretching the truth. According to Politico’s five-day analysis Trump averaged about o[...]

Sssshhhhh... The Debate is Starting

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 00:30:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Samantha Bee wasn't nice to Matt Lauer in her assessment of the pre-debate thing they had a week or so ago. That's cause he sucked. Lester Holt, we're assured, is supposed to be better. We'll see in a few minutes. Ever hear of Pollfish? They're a real-time mobile survey platform and they did a flash poll yesterday (400 Americans) showing that over 30% of Americans are opting to avoid the political drama to enjoy their watching their favorite TV shows or Monday night football. And although more than have the respondents said they thought Trump would be more likely to attack Hillary than Hillary would be to attack Trump, most respondents expect that issue-by-issue Hillary will win tonight.This morning, writing for Trump's son-in-law's paper, the New York Observer Matt Mackowiak. laid out laid out how Trump can "win" tonight: "all Trump has to do is perform above basement-level expectations... In a change year," he wrote, "Trump is the change candidate. Clinton is a lot of things, but she is not a change agent after eight years of Obama.The question for voters, particularly swing voters in battleground states, is whether Trump offers too much change. They need to know if he is an unacceptable risk." More Samantha Bee, since she seems to be able to explain just why some voters--many?-- don't already know how unacceptable Trump is: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Mackowiak included a little conventional wisdom on Trumpist short-comings-- "Trump can win this debate by not losing it. This will require discipline, self-control, patience, and calm. These are not his natural strengths. Serious, thoughtful debate prep would have benefitted him, but he appears to have been wholly unwilling to commit to it. This may prove to be a politically fatal error." But he went to town on the media's sexist expectational set-up of Hillary: Trump likes to call himself a counterpuncher. But not every jab needs to be countered. I expect Hillary to jab and uppercut constantly. Her team appears to believe the only way she can win the debate is by invalidating Trump as a legitimate choice.This approach has risks: She may appear too negative, too harsh, too shrill or too unlikeable. Likability is a real factor in how viewers evaluate debates. Emotions, nonverbal communications, posture, and facial gestures all play a role in how a candidate is perceived in the television era....Hillary must finally address legitimate questions of honesty and ethics. Will she directly, clearly, and honestly answer questions about her private email server-- why it was created, what were the risks it posed to national security, and why she deleted 33,000 emails. Will she answer allegations about selling access and favors at the State Department to wealthy Clinton Foundation donors? Will she demonstrate, over 90 minutes with no commercials, that she has the strength and stamina to be president, and finally put health questions behind her?These are the issues she needs to put behind her to pull away from Trump.Nate Silver's operation wanted to remind everyone before the debate starts that "eight out of 10 times, the non-incumbent party’s candidate-- that’s Trump this year-- gained in the polls after the first debate. That includes each of the last five times. There are various theories to explain this. Some people think, for instance, incumbent presidents do poorly in first debates because they’ve ha[...]

Gerrymandering Creates Corrine Browns, Debbie Wasserman Schultzes and Robert Pittengers

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 21:00:00 +0000

Corrine Brown-- a two-and-half decade win-win for the Florida RepublicansJust a tad over two years ago, we looked at 24 year congressional veteran Corrine Brown' and her grotesquely gerrymandered district. I described FL-05 as one that "twists and turns down from the African American neighborhoods of Jacksonville-- that aren't even contiguous-- along a narrow strip a mile or two wide along Rt 17 (which then disappears into Ted Yoho's district and through some sparsely populated rural areas until finally finding Palatka in the east and African-American neighborhoods of Gainesville in the west before chugging down into Sanford and Pine Hills in the Orlando metropolitan area." Much like Wasserman Schultz did, Brown used her position in the state legislature to work with the Republicans to create a seat that served her own purposes-- never having to worry about being defeated-- as well as theirs-- getting thousands and thousands of black Democrats out of neighboring districts that would be safer for Republicans. Obama won the district both times with 73%. With a PVI of D+21 this district defines "safe." Republicans have trouble winning R+1 districts and they don't try-- not ever, not anywhere, when a district is D+6 or above. Brown is screaming and threatening to go to the Supreme Court because Judge Terry Lewis ordered the legislature to remove Sanford from her district, which might take her down from a D+21 to a D+19, depending on other factors. Republicans didn't bother running candidates against her in 2004, 2006 and 2008 and last year, when there was a Republican running with no support (and a campaign war chest of $19,941 against Brown's $613,190), Brown won with 71%. "We will go all the way to the United States Supreme Court," she thundered, "dealing with making sure that African Americans are not disenfranchised."Give me a break. Instead of making deals with Republicans in states to create marginally red districts by agreeing to have ethnically-cleansed districts, Democrats like Brown could spread around some of her Democratic voters, still keep a deep blue district that she would never lose, and help the Democrats defeat John Mica, Dan Webster and Ron DeSantis. Marcia Fudge should know better, even if Corrine Brown can't see beyond her own careerism.Since then, a court ruling forced her district into more rational boundaries-- east/west from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, instead of north/south, still safely Democratic and very friendly territory for an African-American Representative... except not Brown. Facing 24 criminal charges related to swindling people with a charity/personal slush fund-- not on a Trumpian level, but bad enough-- she was soundly defeated by conservaDem Al Lawson in her primary, 39,261 (48%) to 32,157 (39%), despite having outspent Lawson $465,720 to $134,206. Yesterday Fusion ran what could be the premise for a powerful film on a corrupt political system: The Rise And Fall Of Corrine Brown and had the insight into subtitling it, "The brash Florida congresswoman’s career begs the question: Do 'majority-minority' districts empower voters of color… or ghettoize them to benefit conservatives?" Brown’s dramatic rise and fall highlights the dilemmas of “majority-minority” congressional districts-- political boundaries drawn to group voters of color together. On one hand, such districts have increased opportunities for minority representation in the House. On the other hand, they’ve been used by white majorities, primarily Republicans, to increase power in surrounding districts, effectively sidelining minorities so that the GOP can maintain control of Cong[...]

First Nations Sign Trans-Continental Treaty to Fight Tar Sands Oil

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 17:00:00 +0000

A sample of pipeline projects affecting Indigenous communities across North America. Graphic courtesy of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion (source; click to enlarge)by Gaius PubliusI consider this momentous. The indigenous peoples of northern North America (called "First Nations" for the obvious reason) — ocean to ocean, in the U.S. and in Canada — have banded together to sign a treaty to oppose the transport of absolutely filthy (literally; there's arsenic in that stuff) tar sands oil from Alberta to any port or refinery.The reason this is momentous lies beyond the issue of just protecting the environment, which it does, or the climate, which it most certainly also does. A treaty of this magnitude itself is momentous.Indigenous people are called First Nations because they are, in fact, nations, sovereign peoples, with legal national standing in both countries. Yes, they've been mightily and continuously abused, partly because of their history, partly because of their decimated numbers and living conditions. But it's been more than a century since they've been united in any sense.This, for example, is the Great Sioux Nation at the time of their first contact with whites in the 1700s:A history of the Iroquois Confederacy can be found here. Historically though, none of these confederacies, leagues or nations has spanned the continent. Until now. This treaty, trans-continental, cross-border, is the first. And again, it is a treaty between nations. As I said, monumental in its implications. Via Elizabeth McSheffrey, writing at the Canadian National Observer (my occasional emphasis):First Nations across North America sign treaty alliance against the oilsandsThe thunderous pounding of Indigenous drums echoed in the air on Thursday as more than 50 Indigenous nations across North America rallied together to sign a historic, pan-continental treaty alliance against oilsands expansion in their traditional territory.The collaboration, formalized at simultaneous ceremonies in Quebec and B.C., aims to block all proposed pipeline, tanker, and rail projects affecting First Nations land and water, including TransCanada's Energy East pipeline, Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion, Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline, and Enbridge Northern Gateway.About the treaty:The document, called the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, commits its signatories to assist one another when called upon in the battle against oilsands expansion, and to work in partnership to move society towards more sustainable lifestyles. By aligning themselves with other Indigenous nations across Canada and the northern U.S., participants hope to ensure that dangerous projects are not able to "escape" by using alternative routes.“We have the right and the responsibility to stop these major threats to our lands, our waters and our peoples,” said Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon. “For example, from Quebec, we will work with our First Nation allies in B.C. to make sure that the Kinder Morgan pipeline does not pass, and we know they’ll help us do the same against Energy East.”It comes not only from a legal and cultural responsibility to protect their land, water, air, and climate from harm, said Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, but a desire to safeguard a future for all peoples, Indigenous and non-Indigenous as well.Of course:The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers however, Canada's largest oil and gas lobby group, said the Treaty Alliance will not change the way its members do business with Indigenous communities. But you expected that. The hol[...]

Christie Still Hasn't Been Arrested... However, Slowly But Surely The Law Is Closing In On Him

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 13:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Chris Christie isn't on trial yet. But the testimony on the first day, Friday, of the trial of Bridget Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff and of former Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni, indicates that Christie-- who has two years left in his term-- will likely face trial and impeachment by the state legislature. Testimony from former Christie crony David Wildstein-- who already pleaded guilty to 2 federal counts of conspiracy as part of a plea deal for his cooperation-- indicates that Christie was the mastermind behind the plot to shut down the George Washington Bridge as an exercise in political retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee.Wildstein and Christie went to Livingston High School together and both were campaign volunteers for GOP politicians. In 1985, when he was 23, Wildstein, whose family is very wealthy, was elected to Livingston's town council and subsequently served as mayor, where his abrasive style and right-wing extremism ended his electoral aspirations. Afterwards he surreptitiously ran a blog, under the pseudonym Wally Edge, financed by Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The blog is widely credited with having helped launch Christie's political career. When he became governor, Christie invented a make-believe, highly paid job at the Port Authority for Wildstein, his second highest-level Port Authority appointment after Bill Baroni (the guy on trial now). Wildstein had no job description but he functioned as Christie's spy and enforcer on the agency. Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal's trial coverage painted a picture placing Christie at the heart of a corrupt, self-serving system. At the instruction of Chris Christie, the Port Authority systematically allocated grants, vehicles and steel from the Twin Towers to Democratic elected officials from whom New Jersey’s Republican governor sought endorsements for his 2013 campaign, a former Port Authority official testified Friday.David Wildstein, a cooperating witness in the trial of two ex-Christie aides accused of creating a traffic jam as political payback, said he had received instruction from the governor’s office to use the “Port Authority goody bag” in this way.“The Port Authority was asked to play a role in helping the governor’s office secure certain endorsements,” Mr. Wildstein said.Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Cortes asked who gave this instruction.“Asked initially by Mr. Stepien,” Mr. Wildstein said, referring to Christie aide Bill Stepien. There were others, he added.“What others?” Mr. Cortes asked.“Gov. Christie,” Mr. Wildstein replied....While Friday was the first day Mr. Wildstein appeared in court, his presence has loomed throughout the first week of the trial. Defense attorneys, quoting witness interviews, have called Mr. Wildstein “maniacal,” “a miserable prick” and an “asshole,” among other labels. During opening statements, one defense attorney suggested the government had “made a deal with the devil.”Federal prosecutors have noted that while Mr. Wildstein has lied before, his incentive to tell the truth is strong because prosecutors will write a letter to the judge with a sentencing recommendation.Mr. Wildstein faces up to 15 years in prison.In court on Friday, Mr. Wildstein outlined a systematic and organized plan to use Port Authority resources to support Mr. Christie’s re-election bid. The Port Authority provided valuable resources that the gove[...]

Will Trump's Handlers Successfully Persuade Him Not To Throw His Spaghetti On The Wall Before The Debate Ends?

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000

Trump likes to reassure his dumbell fans that he's in the fraternity of top business leaders. But he's a joke in the business world and, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out Friday, not a single Fortune 100 CEO is backing him, or at least not contributing to his campaign. Nearly a third of them gave to Romney's campaign and during the primary quite a few gave to Bush and Rubio to try to save America from Trump. So far 11 have contributed to Hillary's campaign.I suspect that the endorsement Trump got from Cruz Friday isn't going to sway any CEOs. (Remember when Trump brayed that he wouldn't accept a Cruz endorsement? Today he says he's honored to have it. Maybe he promised Cruz's crackpot father a pardon for the JFK assassination in return for the endorsement.)The latest polls aren't going his way. The national Marist poll McClatchy sponsored shows Clinton continuing to build a lead against him. She's leads him 48-41% in a head-on contest and 45-39% in a 4-way race including Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. The AP's poll by GfK showed a similar lead for Clinton-- 41-35% of likely voters in a 4-way match-up. Shouldn't she be ahead of him 70-30%? She's not my idea of a good candidate but he really is the worst thing ever-- unthinkable. Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald gave a more serious demonstration of Trump's disengagement with truth and objective reality. He wrote that Trump either committed perjury (in court, under oath) or blatantly lied in one of the most dramatic moments of the primary debates. "There are two records," he wrote, "one, a previously undisclosed deposition of the Republican nominee testifying under oath, and the second a transcript/video of a Republican presidential debate. In them, Trump tells contradictory versions of the same story with the clashing accounts tailored to provide what he wanted people to believe when he was speaking." In the lie we are examining here, Trump either committed a felony or proved himself willing to deceive his followers whenever it suits him.Trump told the public version of this story last year, during the second Republican presidential debate.Trump had been boasting for weeks at his rallies that he knew the political system better than anyone, because he had essentially bought off politicians for decades by giving them campaign contributions when he wanted something. He also proclaimed that only he—as an outsider who had participated in such corruption of American democracy at a high level-- could clean it up. During the September 2015 debate, one of Trump’s rivals, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, verified Trump’s claim, saying the billionaire had tried to buy him off with favors and contributions when he was Florida’s governor."The one guy that had some special interests that I know of that tried to get me to change my views on something-- that was generous and gave me money—was Donald Trump,” Bush said. “He wanted casino gambling in Florida."Trump interrupted Bush:Trump: I didn’t...Bush: Yes, you did.Trump: Totally false.Bush: You wanted it, and you didn’t get it, because I was opposed to...Trump: I would have gotten it.Bush: Casino gambling before...Trump: I promise, I would have gotten it.Bush: During and after. I’m not going to be bought by anybody.Trump: I promise, if I wanted it, I would have gotten it.Bush: No way. Believe me.Trump: I know my people.Bush: Not even possible.Trump: I know my people.If Trump was telling the truth that night, so be it. But if he was lying, what was his purpose? His “If I wanted it, I would have gotten it,” [...]

The splendid piece on John le Carré is part of an embarrassment of riches in the new NYRB

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 01:00:00 +0000

The new NYRB has a terrific review-essay by Neal Ascherson on John le Carré, described by his new biographer, Adam Sisman, as "one of the most important English writers of the post-war period." To me this kind of understates le Carré's importance as a writer, but hey, that's KenThe new (October 13) issue of The New York Review of Books was in the mailbox yesterday, and such free time as I've had since then has been heavily absorbed by an issue overflowing with "must read"s. There are half a dozen or more pieces that we should probably talk about, and may yet, but for now let me rattle off some of the high points on the contents page --In the leadoff position:• an eye-opening piece by Freeman Dyson (but then, doesn't Freeman Dyson usually open eyes?) on the theoretical, cultural, and economic differences -- and their practical consequences -- in the divide on space exploration, which has existed as long as there's been space exploration, between "Big Space" (as practiced by NASA, running a program that is legitimately "too big to fail") and "Little Space" ("The Green Universe: A Vision," reviewing books by Julian Guthrie, Charles Wohlforth and Amanda R. Hendrix, and Jon Willis)On the political front:• Michael Tomasky with some striking thoughts on the question increasingly in a lot of our heads now, "Can the Unthinkable Happen?"• Nicholas Lemann on what appears to be some sort of right-to-leftward movement in U.S. politics for the first time since well before the left-ro-right shift that set in in the mid-'60s and changed the political landscape (reviewing books by Daniel Oppenheimer, Steve Fraser, and Thomas Frank in "Can We Have a 'Party of the People'?," free to subscribers only)• Geoffrey Wheatcraft on "Tony Blair's Eternal Shame: The Report" (reviewing the Chilcot Report itself and books by Peter Oborne and Tom Bower, free to subscribers only)On the scientific front, in addition to Freeman Dyson's space odyssey:• Laurence C. Smith on "Greenhouse Warming: Prepare for the Worst" (reviewing Tim Flannery's Atmosphere of Hope: Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis, free to subscribers only)On the pop-cultural front:• novelist-translator-essayist Tim Parks on "The Pleasures of Reading Stephen King" (free to subscribers only)• Nathaniel Rich on "The George Plimpton Story" (free to subscribers only), reviewing the serial-form reissue, with added commentaries, of Plimpton's books of what he dubbed, probably intentionally misleadingly, "participatory journalism"And on and on and on . . .. . . including Orlando Figes on 2015 Nobel Literature Prize-winner Svetlana Alexeivich's Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, Nicolas Pelham's "In Saudi Arabia: Can It Really Change?," David Miliband on "The Best Ways to Deal with the Refugee Crisis," Rana Foroohar on "How the Financing of Colleges May Lead to Disaster!," and pieces on art, architecture, and poetry, and actual poetry.OF COURSE (AT LEAST FOR READERS FAMILIAR MYPREDILECTIONS) THE FIRST PIECE I WENT TO WAS:• Neal Ascherson's "Which le Carré Do You Want?" (free to subscribers only), reviewing Adam Sisman's exhaustive biograhy of John le Carré, written with four years' worth of cooperation from the subject, and the subject's own new memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life-- drawing by David LevineClearly, given the amount of cooperation le Carré had given Adam Sisman over the years the biographer was working on his biography, the subject was aware that the book was in the works. At some poin[...]

Progressive Veterans Running For Congress

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 21:00:00 +0000

Unless you live in his district, you probably never heard of Ohio teabagger Warren Davidson, the Trumpist nut who won Boehner's seat when he was forced out of office. Last week Butler County's Journal-News reported that Davidson told a room full of veterans that one way to clean up the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system is to get the "moochers" out of it. "Part of the problem," he said, "is there are some vets that are moochers and they’re clogging up the system. And we do as taxpayers want to make sure the VA filters out these folks that are pretenders." A spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars responded that "Honorably discharged veterans with service-connected wounds, illnesses and injuries, or who are indigent due to circumstances beyond their control, are not moochers."If you feel, like we do, that the real moochers we have to worry about are careerist conservatives in Congress, please check out a new Blue America ActBlue page we just started to support progressive military veterans. Recently Veterans For Bernie founder and National Director, Tyson Manker, announced their endorsement of U.S. Marine Colonel Doug Applegate, the Blue America-backed progressive running for the CA-49 seat (Orange and San Diego counties) that Darrell Issa operates out of."Colonel Applegate deployed to Ramadi, Iraq in 2006," said Manker. "He shouldered the burden with the 2.5 million Americans who laced up their boots and headed down range after September 11th. I know the Colonel will ask the right questions and ensure we are only sending our forces overseas when it is the last choice, not our first option. Veterans swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic... We must elect Representatives with proven leadership. We must elect those that have the skills to reach across the aisle to end the paralysis that has brought our Congress to a stand-still. Colonel Applegate’s opponent, Darrell Issa (U.S. Army veteran), voted to authorize the Iraq war, voted to cut an increase to military benefits, and dismissed 9/11 as 'just a plane crash'. That is why we endorse our brother, retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate to be the next Representative of California’s 49th Congressional District."I came away from my long interview with Doug Applegate with a feeling that part of why he's running for Congress is because he felt that 95% of Congress who never served in a combat zone, has sent our sons and daughters to endless wars without any real strategy since 9/11. He told me clearly that he knows we "can't kill our way out of the world’s problems." He has experienced the realities and trials of war and learned firsthand how decisions to use  our military impacts our all-volunteer force and everyday Americans. An infantry officer and a military lawyer since 1980, Doug already understands and stands ready to provide the type of leadership Congress so sorely lacks. I asked him in which areas specifically he felt he could make a difference in Congress. He talked about Congress' being lacking in what he identified as "4 critical areas:1- sexual assaults in the military;2- defense contracting that wastes trillions of American taxpayer dollars,3- restructuring of the Veteran Administration that is inadequate, underfunded, overcrowded, and ill-prepared; and4- renewable energy program repeatedly needed and requested by the Defense Department."Doug doesn't sound anything like Warren Davidson. N[...]

Trump Should Suspend His Campaign And Fly Herr Force One To Afghanistan For A Week Or Two

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 17:00:00 +0000

Tuesday I'm having dinner with a friend of mine, Sonia, a Berlin-born novelist and Holocaust survivor. She's written over 40 books and is working on a new novel about a family of refugees who have resettled in the U.S. from Afghanistan. Two of her early books, The Journey to America and Silver Days, are about German Jewish refugees who flee the horrors of the Holocaust and resettle in America. I've been giving her pointers, from my two lengthy stays in Afghanistan about what the family she's inventing were likely to have gone through-- and what kind of mindset they will be bringing with them-- before they arrived in the U.S. Tuesday's dinner is going to be about Pashtunwalli, the code that predates Islam Afghans live by. I sent her the post related to the mass shooting in Orlando by the son of Afghan refugees, hyper-linked above.In their list of 31 lies that Trump spouted last week, Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns in included one that's been driving me crazy-- and that I've seen Trump repeat at rallies all week-- namely that "We have cities that are far more dangerous than Afghanistan." That's not even remotely close to true. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">The first time I got to Afghanistan was in 1969, a relatively peaceful time, when Mohammad Zahir Shah was still the king and gradually introducing western ways into the country. I left just before he was deposed in a coup and the country slowly but steadily descended into chaos, coups and civil war. At the end of December, 1979, the Russians invaded. The country I loved so much has experienced almost 4 decades of non-stop mega-violence. No American whop hasn't been in a war zone-- and that includes Herr Trumpf, a draft dodger-- has ever seen anything like it. No American city-- not even Rahm Emanuel's Chicago-- is anything like Afghanistan.Even when I was there, in relatively peaceful times, Afghanistan was more dangerous than any city in America. Other than in Kabul, the capital city, an Afghan male would no sooner walk out of his house without a gun than he would walk out of his house without pants. And the aforementioned Pashtunwalli is so punitive and retaliatory that a minor misunderstanding could easily-- and often did-- result in deadly violence. Afghanistan was-- and is-- an extreme patriarchal society. Women and children are routinely and universally treated as property by men. Economic disparity between the very rich and everyone else is so enormous and plays such an immense role in power and status assignations that danger was everywhere at all times. Violence between ethnic groups, religious sects, clans, tribes, regions was pervasive. In many parts of the country, there was no law and no order. Most people outside of Kabul didn't even recognize the authority of a country called Afghanistan. I was shocked in the second biggest city, Kandahar, 4-5 hours away from Kabul by car, to find that people referred to the king as the king of Kabul.As with most things he talks about on the campaign trail, Trump doesn't have any idea what's he's talking about. He says whatever pops into his primitive skull. And if it "works," he keeps repeating it, which doesn't make it any truer. Some say he's severely addicted to prescription drugs. That could be. But that he's afflicted with narcissistic personality disorder is beyond a doubt, as anyone who has ever been in contact with him will tell you. Trump's [...]

Yeah, If You Live In A State Where Trump Has A Chance, Just Hold Your Nose And Vote For Hillary... You'll Live

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 13:00:00 +0000

This week The Nation features dueling perspectives on voting for Jill Stein, Kshama Sawant's Don't Waste Your Vote On The Corporate Agenda-- Vote For Jill Stein And The Greens and Joshua Holland's Your Vote For Jill Stein Is A Wasted Vote. Unless Trump suddenly looks like he's going to have any chance of winning in California-- Clinton is up by an average of just over 19 points here-- I plan to, once again, vote for Jill Stein. Obviously, I don't expect her to win. It's simply a protest vote to send the Democrats a message that their dishonest corporate candidate is not acceptable to me. Yes, she's much, much, much preferable to Trump. So would a steaming pile of dog poop, but, unlike Divine, I'll respectfully pass on eating it. Unless you want the Democratic Party to just keep on nominating candidates like Clinton (up and down the ballot) you won't vote for her in any state that is safe from the Trumpist contagion. I have now switched my position enough to say that if I lived in Ohio or Florida or North Carolina or any state that could be a firewall against Trump, I would unhesitatingly vote for Hillary. That said, I don't represent Holland's assurance that between 75 and 90% of those who say that they’re planning to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in November won’t follow through and that the her support "is an expression of contempt for the Democrats that evaporates in the voting booth." If I voted for her instead of Obama last time, you can count on me not voting for Clinton this time. I'm not a typical voter though. Holland makes a pointless effort to bash the Green Party, pointless to me at least, since I see them-- at this point at least-- as nothing other than a vehicle to protest unbearable Democratic Party corporatism and corruption."Many Greens," he concludes, "think that their vote isn’t wasted because it sends a powerful 'message' to Washington. But why would anyone in power pay attention to the 0.36 percent of the popular vote that Jill Stein won in 2012, when 42 percent of eligible voters just stayed home? Political parties are merely vessels. The Green Party provides a forum to demonstrate ideological purity and contempt for 'the system.' But the Democratic Party is a center of real power in this country. For all its flaws, and for all the work still to be done, it offers a viable means of advancing progressive goals. One can’t say the same of the perpetually dysfunctional and often self-marginalizing Greens."Voting for Stein in safe blue states (or even profoundly backward deep red ones where Trump will win by landslides-- say Wyoming, Idaho or Alabama) is a smart move for progressives who can then busy themselves trying to perfect the Democratic Party or the Green Party or any other party... and trying to make sure the Democratic Party reforms itself;f so that it doesn't steal the nomination from the next Bernie Sanders. Sawant sees the Green Party as a legitimate alternative to the Democrats. Good luck with that. "Most progressives," she writes, "will vote for Clinton to keep Trump out of the White House. That’s understandable, but even more important is building an alternative to pro-capitalist parties... [O]rdinary people feel disenchanted and disempowered. Donald Trump is an abomination, and consistently over 60 percent of people polled disapprove of him and his bigotry. Trump is the single-most-unpopular major-party candidate ever, and he deserves to be trounced[...]

Corbyn Wins Challenge From The U.K.'s Version Of The Blue Dogs And New Dems-- The Conservative Wing Of The Labour Party

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 04:00:00 +0000

Today, Jeremy Corbyn's 62% win was bigger than his original victory as leader of Britain's Labour Party-- 313,209 to 193,229 votes-- much to the chagrin of the establishment conservatives (and their media allies) who hold the progressive Corbyn in contempt and view him with disdain and hatred. They are England's version of the New Dems and Blue Dogs and they got their asses kicked by Labour's grassroots. As the BBC pointed out, "It is Mr Corbyn's second defeat of the Labour establishment, who many of his supporters believe have tried to undermine the leader consistently over the last 12 months."Friday we saw what happens when a purported "party of the people"-- the Democratic Party of West Virginia in this case-- gets taken over by selfish and established special interests. In England "Labour HQ deliberately threw Corbyn supporters off the voting lists to reduce the size of his victory. Corbyn supporters believe many MPs have done nothing in the past year other than try to damage his leadership and today they will be shown to have failed badly in their attempt to oust him." What was happening to Corbyn wasn't unlike what happened in the U.S. to progressives-- from Bernie, who had the nomination stolen from him by the Establishment, to candidates up and down the ballot, who have been and are being subverted and sabotaged by the Democratic Party establishment. At least they won the battle in the U.K., even if the resistance here in the U.S. has been puny and largely unsuccessful. Addressing supporters, Mr Corbyn said he and his opponents were part of the "same Labour family" and everyone needed to focus their energy "on exposing and defeating the Tories.""We have much more in common than divides us," he said. "Let us wipe that slate clean from today and get on with the work that we have to do as a party," he said....[The jackass who challenged him, Owen] Smith, who had previously ruled out returning to the front bench, said he respected the result and the onus was on Mr Corbyn to "heal divisions and unite our movement.""Jeremy has won the contest," he said. "He now has to win the country and he will have my support in trying to do so."Mr Corbyn was first elected Labour leader in September 2015, when he beat three other candidates and got 59.5% of the vote.Turnout was higher this time around, with 77.6% of the 654,006 eligible party members, trade union members and registered supporters-- 506,438 in total-- confirmed as taking part.Mr Corbyn won comfortably in each of the three categories - winning the support of 59% of party members, 70% of registered supporters and 60% of affiliated supporters. • Party members-- Jeremy Corbyn (168,216); Owen Smith (116,960)• Registered supporters-- Corbyn (84,918); Smith (36,599)• Affiliated supporters-- Corbyn (60,075); Smith (39,670)Despite winning the leadership in a vote of the wider membership and registered supporters last year Mr Corbyn, who spent three decades as part of a marginalised leftwing group of Labour MPs in Parliament, has never had the support of more than about 20% of Labour's MPs.And the contest came about after more than 170 MPs supported a motion of no confidence in their leader-- that confidence vote came after dozens quit his shadow cabinet and other frontbench roles.There has been speculation that a number of critical Labour MPs, including some who resigned from Mr Corbyn's shadow cabinet in June over his leadersh[...]