Saturday, May 09, 2015
The right wing noise machine continues to bluster about the book "Clinton Cash" even though the books author has been forced to admit that he found no "smoking gun." Meanwhile other detractors of Hillary Clinton often make unattractive pundits - think Ann Coulter who looks like an anorexic drag queen in my view - and run the risk of alienating women if the appear to beat up on the only viable female presidential candidate to date. A piece in The Daily Beast suggests that efforts to attack Hillary Clinton's character will likely fail - or backfire. Here are excerpts:
If you’re Martin O’Malley, or one of the other potential Democrats pondering a race against Hillary Clinton, you’ve been presented with an unexpected opportunity—and a very, very tricky challenge.
The spate of stories about the interconnections between the Clinton Foundation, the Clintons’ wealth, and Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State have opened up a line of attack against the prohibitive Democratic favorite that was once the province of her ideological foes. For close to a quarter-century now, the willingness—make that eagerness—of voices on the Right to embrace every accusation against the Clintons has proven to be a pearl of great price for Bill and Hillary, serving to insulate them politically from allegations that were, in fact, credible.
Throughout their political lives, the Clintons have successfully—and often accurately—argued that the criticism have come from those opposed to their agenda. Now, two news outlets that embody the “Mainstream Media” so much scorned on the Right have weighed in with stories that undergird precisely the same argument.
And herein lies the opportunity—and the dilemma—for O’Malley or any of the other possible Democratic challengers: what do you do with the argument that the case against Hillary Clinton is a matter not of ideology, but of character?
As far as I can tell, no intra-party campaign against a prohibitive favorite has ever been waged on such grounds.
Up to now, Clinton’s potential rivals have been taking the traditional route of arguing that she does not truly reflect the Democratic base on issues like income inequality and corporate regulation. Now, they have been handed a much more potent argument: that the financial behavior of the Clintons demonstrates that they identify with the one per cent—or one-tenth of one per cent—and that their conduct will be as big a liability to Hillary Clinton as Mitt Romney’s business career and tax returns were to him in 2012.
But, as with nitroglycerin, a potent substance can also be highly dangerous. Bill Clinton is the most admired man in America; and among Democrats, his approval rating is stratospheric. Up to now, there has been no significant unhappiness within her party at the prospect of a Hillary Clinton nomination—not to mention the significant cohort of voters eager to see a woman elected President.
[N]othing is more likely to rally Democrats around Clinton than the assaults from across the political divide. Throughout their public lives, Bill and Hillary Clinton have benefitted enormously from the fury of their ideological enemies. Making a case that will persuade Democrats to move away from Clinton on character grounds will be the political equivalent of defusing a ticking bomb.
I have always felt that if a politician will resort to any despicable pandering and self-prostitution to get elected, they most likely will not be trustworthy in office if elected. A case in point? Jeb "Jebbie" Bush who, in addition to relying on his cretin like older brother for Middle East policy advice, is going to prostitute himself to the Christofascists by speaking at this year's commencement ceremonies at Liberty University, a blight on the reputation of Virginia and higher education in general. Jebbie so wants to win the Christofascists over that he will speak at a university - and I use that term loosely - where religious ideology trumps logic, reason and science. A tawdry whore has more integrity than Jebbie. A piece in the Washington Post looks at Jeb Bush's willing self-prostitution. Here are excerpts:
Jeb Bush, not yet an official candidate for president, will make what has become an essential campaign stop for Republicans seeking the White House when he speaks at Liberty University on Saturday.The former Florida governor will deliver the commencement address at the booming evangelical university launched by Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell.Of the dozen or so declared or likely GOP presidential contenders, Bush might seem the most out of place on the conservative campus in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Despite his conversion to Catholicism and opposition to abortion, Bush is viewed warily by his party’s right flank for his relatively moderate views on immigration and Common Core educational standards and for his failure to take as hard a line in his opposition to same-sex marriage as some of the rest of the GOP field.Bush has a long way to go to win over some religious conservatives. Some were particularly irked by his reaction in January, when Florida began allowing same-sex marriages. Bush issued a statement that reiterated his support for religious liberty but also urged respect for “the rule of law” and for “couples making lifetime commitments to each other.”In his speech, Bush is expected to praise the power of Christianity in action. “Today, by the thousands, Liberty is sending forth across America civilized, confident, true-hearted men and women — which happens to be just what America needs,” Bush will say, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks provided Friday by Bush’s Right to Rise PAC.Bush’s scheduled visit to Liberty is a more overt effort to win the Christian right. It comes less than two months after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) chose the campus to announce his own bid for the presidency — and at the end of a week that saw the Republican field swell by three.Many of those are expected to find their way to Liberty, whose thrice-weekly convocation speeches — mandatory for the nearly 14,000 on-campus students — guarantee an impressive crowd. “Several of them are figuring out right now, when is their Liberty appearance?” said Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia.
Note the quote of the always evil Victoria Cobb, president of Virginia's leading hate group, The Family Foundation, which is the circus master of the Virginia GOP.
Today is Victory Day in Russia - the day that marks the remembrance of the defeat of Nazi Germany. The irony is that if one looks at Russia and Germany today, it is the German people who ultimately won the war through defeat. Germany is a rich and prosperous nation and its people enjoy a enviable standard of living. The cannot be said for Russian and its people. Russia's leaders over all have squandered the victory of World War II just as so many prior leaders failed to put the interests of the Russian people. One can argue that Vladimir Putin's Russia is governed by fear more than during many of the reigns of Russian Tsars. I noted in the past I read the book "Red Fortress, History and Illusion in the Kremlin," and the over arching take away is that Russia people have been repeatedly condemned to substandard lives by Russia's leaders who typically use nationalism to distract attention from their failed leadership. Putin is but the latest leader to do so . A column in the New York Times bemoans this sad reality. Here are excerpts:
Every year on May 9, Victory Day in Russia — marking the anniversary of the day that news of the German surrender in 1945 reached Moscow — my father would go to the closet and take out his sailor’s uniform, which required regular alteration to accommodate his growing belly, and pin on his medals. It was so important to me to be proud of my father: There had been a war and my papa had won it!My father fought the evil of fascism, but he was taken advantage of by another evil. He and millions of Soviet soldiers, sailors and airmen, virtual slaves, brought the world not liberation but another slavery. The people sacrificed everything for victory, but the fruits of this victory were less freedom and more poverty.My father was 6 when his father was arrested. A son wants to be proud of his father, but his father was called an enemy of the people. My grandfather perished in the gulag.When the war began, the persecuted population heard from the loudspeakers, “Brothers and sisters!” The baseness of Russia’s rulers lies in the way they have always taken advantage of this remarkable human emotion: the love of homeland and the willingness to sacrifice everything for it.So my father went off to defend his homeland. He was still a boy when he went to sea, in constant terror of drowning in that steel coffin. He ended up protecting the regime that killed his father.The victory gave the slaves nothing but a sense of the grandeur of their master’s empire. The great victory only reinforced their great slavery.During the Gorbachev era, we had lean times, and my father, as a veteran, received a ration that included items from Germany. For him, this was a personal insult. He got drunk and hollered: “But we won!” Then he quieted down and began to weep. “Tell me,” he kept asking no one I could see, “did we win the war or lose it?”I wish my homeland victory. But what would constitute a victory for my country? Each one of Hitler’s victories was a defeat for the German people. And the final rout of Nazi Germany was a victory for the Germans themselves, who demonstrated how a nation can rise up and live like human beings without the delirium of war in their heads.Russians have been called, once again, to fight a war against fascism. The patriotic hysteria on the television is the regime’s miracle weapon. Thanks to the “zombie box,” the population now has a make-believe idea of the world: The West wants to destroy us, so we are compelled, like our fathers and grandfathers, to wage holy war against fascism and we must be prepared to sacrifice everything for victory.Once again, the rulers are rewriting history and leaving in it only military victories and martial glory. They have added a chapter to school textbooks about Crimea’s glorious return. A stream of hysteria flows from TV screens: “Great Russia,” “Defend the Russian language,” “Gather in the Russian world” and “We will save the world from fascism.” Anyone who objects is a “national traitor.”In the 16th year of his rule, President Vladimir V. Putin has achieved everything a dictator could strive for.[T]he Putin regime has set our peoples against each other. Sometimes, I think it’s good my parents did not live to see how Russians and Ukrainians are killing one another. It is impossible to breathe in a country where the air is permeated with hatred. Much hatred has always been followed in history by much blood. What awaits my country? Transformation into a gigantic version of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region?Once again, the dictatorship is calling on its subjects to defend the homeland, mercilessly exploiting the propaganda of victory in the Great Patriotic War. Russia’s rulers have stolen my people’s oil, stolen their elections, stolen their country. And stolen their victory. Father, we lost the war.
I find what has happened to Russia to be immeasurably sad. Meanwhile, Americans need to be mindful to never allow themselves to be exploited by calls for patriotism and nationalistic agendas that only will further the interests of cynical leaders and plutocrats. Russia can teach Americans a much needed lesson.
Friday, May 08, 2015
As yet undeclared Republican presidential candidate - and closeted gay - Lindsey Graham, a/k/a the Palmetto Queen, today decried the GOP's inability to attract non-white voters and predicted that the GOP would lose the 2016 presidential election absent serious immigration reform. Immigration reform, of course, is anathema to the Christofascists/white supremacists who control the base of the Republican Party. A piece in The Hill looks at the Palmetto Queen's plaintive Cassandra act. Here are highlights:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) predicted Thursday Republicans will lose the 2016 presidential election without major immigration reform, saying the party is struggling to win minority voters.“The only way we lose this election is if we beat ourselves and that is very possible, but we are getting creamed with non-white voters,” Graham, a likely 2016 presidential contender, told host Susan Page on USA Today’s “Capital Download.”“We’ll lose,” he said, if the party doesn't improve its prospects with minorities.“I mean, we’ve got a big hole we’ve dug with Hispanics,” he added. “We’ve gone from 44 percent of the Hispanic vote [in the 2004 presidential election] to 27 percent [in 2012].“You’ll never convince me ... it’s not because of the immigration debate,” said Graham.Graham said he was “98.6 percent sure” he would seek the Oval Office next year. If he does, the South Carolina lawmaker has made up his mind on immigration reform.“If I were the president of the United States, I would veto any bill that did not have a pathway to citizenship,” Graham said.“You would have a long, hard path to citizenship... but I want to create that path because I don’t like the idea of millions of people living in America for the rest of their lives being the hired help,” he added. “That’s not who we are.”Graham also lashed out at Republicans who believe a secure border is necessary before tackling citizenship for illegal immigrants.“That’s not practical,” Graham said of addressing the border before amnesty.Graham also compared Democratic 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.“She’s doing a listening tour from North Korea,” he joked of Clinton’s media availability. “There’s more access to him than I think there is to her."Graham touted his own credentials for the White House.
It goes without saying that the Palmetto Queen's message on immigration reform will not be well received by the GOP base. Meanwhile, if he runs for the presidency, I hope Graham gets outed.
The Christofascists truly do not like Jeb Bush and it is beyond entertaining to watch them dredge up whatever dirty they can find to damage Bush - even as sane and rational people worry instead about Jebbie's use of his idiot brother, George W. Bush, as his top Middle East adviser. Jebbie's knuckle dragging opponents are agog about the Bush Florida administration's investment if state pension funds in a film distributor, Movie Gallery, a small portion of whose inventory included X-rated titles. The International Business Times looks at the investment history while Jebbie was governor of Florida. The irony, of course, is that evangelical Christians in the Bible Belt have the highest use of Internet porn and, back in the era of Jebbie's term as governor of Florida, these same folks were likely making high use of Movie Gallery's x-rated products. Here are excerpts:
Conservatives in Florida were aghast: State documents said that Gov. Jeb Bush and other overseers of Florida's pension system had shifted retirees' money into a company called Movie Gallery, one of the largest film rental firms in America. Most of the titles were standard comedy and action fare, but a fraction were X-rated titles.In short, the state of Florida was investing taxpayer money in pornography.Bush recently released 280,000 emails from his two terms as governor, and buried in the trove are exchanges about the Movie Gallery investment that highlight the tension between Bush’s stance as a firm social conservative and his readiness to align himself with the Republican Party’s pro-businesses sensibilities -- even at the cost of right-wing ideals.“Have you people lost your minds?” one outraged voter wrote in an email to Bush and the State Board of Administration (SBA), which made the investment. Another angry voter emailed that pornography was “enslaving men and women to its addiction.”The Bush administration would not let political ideology shape pension decisions, the director explained, saying the state’s pension trustees were “required to act solely in the best interest of the [pension] beneficiaries.”With right-wing heroes like Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum moving to enter the 2016 presidential race, Bush's backers are working to present the former Florida governor as a reliable conservative. They note that he publicly opposed same-sex marriage, funded crisis pregnancy centers and backed proposals to fund vouchers for private and religious schools.In a mass email, AFA founder Donald Wildmon touted his group’s new website www.stopmoviegalleryporn.com, and urged the AFA’s 200,000 members to sign a petition and express their anger at Bush for moving $1.3 million of state money into the company.“Movie Gallery shades hundreds of its stores with ‘back rooms,’ filled with thousands of videos and magazines exhibiting morbid depictions of sex,” Wildmon wrote. “By investing in Movie Gallery stock, the state of Florida is giving its stamp of approval on hard-core porn. Tell the Florida Board of Administration to get out of the porn business by divesting itself of Movie Gallery stock.”
As I have asked before, why is it that for every sex scandal involving a Democrat, it seems as if there are ten to twenty involving Republicans. Why is it that the members of the party of "family values" seem to find it nearly impossible to avoid sexual peccadilloes? The latest example comes from Vermont where Vermont GOP state senator, Norman McAllister, apparently allowed tenants behind in their rent to make up for rent delinquencies by offering sex acts. The Raw Story looks at the sorid details. Here are highlights:
A conservative lawmaker in Vermont was arrested for sexual assault, human trafficking, and other charges. The Vermont state senator, Norman McAllister, was scheduled to be arraigned on Friday at the Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans, the Burlington Free Press reports.
Police arrested McAllister, 63, of Highgate on Thursday evening after he spent the day at the Statehouse working on legislative issues. Allegations against McAllister include “that he either accepted or solicited sex from two women in exchange for overdue rent,” writes the Free Press.
McAllister made his money in dairy farming. He has advocated imposing mandatory drug testing on people who receive government benefits.
“We want to take care of our people, but we also don’t want to support a habit,” McAllister told WPTZ on his March of his championing of random drug testing for poor people in Vermont.
|Virginia 2013 vote when Democrats won every statewide office|
Once upon a time Virginia was so predictable in how it would vote in presidential elections that the elections in the state were almost boring. Now, with the Republican Party increasing unable to win statewide - the urbanized areas now can out vote the extremists in the rural areas - and Obama having won the state in 2008 and 2012, things have become more interesting and tumultuous. For political junkies, that's a good thing, even if more nerve wracking. A piece in the Virginian Pilot looks at the coming presidential battle for Virginia. Here are some highlights:
Virginia has so far mostly been flyover country for presidential contenders zooming between New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa - the early primary and caucus states in next year's election.
But it won't stay that way: Virginia is viewed as key to victory in 2016. As one of a handful of "must win" states, several in the growing field of presidential candidates are building campaigns in the Old Dominion.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz launched his bid for the Republican nomination in March at Liberty University in Lynchburg. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is the school's commencement speaker Saturday. Those appearances likely have more to do with wooing support from conservative Christians who flock to the school, founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, from around the country.
What isn't yet evident is the money that's beginning to flow and the strategies that are beginning to form as political consultants try to figure out the key to winning a state that twice voted for President Barack Obama.
Larry Sabato, a University of Virginian political scientist, stressed that it's "ridiculously early" to draw any conclusions about what might happen given the large field of [GOP] candidates. Three more Republicans entered the contest this week: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former high-tech executive Carly Fiorina and neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
There no sense in trying to handicap the race at this point, Sabato said, noting that the parties' primary debates begin in August. "Some of these candidates won't even make it to Iowa," he said.
Nonetheless, says Curtis Colgate, GOP chairman for the 2nd Congressional District, "Your hardcore activists are already choosing sides."
The first critical decision may come in June, when Virginia Republicans will determine what method they'll use to decide whom to back at the national convention, Colgate said. The state central committee is expected to decide whether to conduct a preference primary on March 1 - as the Democrats expect to do - or to assign their national delegates through a state convention.
The convention can be moneymaker for the state party, as presidential candidates reach out to local party groups and individuals rather than conducting broad media campaigns aimed at all voters. A convention also can give committed GOP activists more say than a primary that is open to all voters.
In the competition for the Democratic nomination, Clinton has a lock on support from top state Democrats.
Sabato, who leads U.Va.'s Center for Politics, predicted that once the parties have their nominees, Virginians can expect to see a lot of them and their surrogates during the general election.
Virginia will be one of seven states that will decide the presidency, "unless it turns into a landslide," he said.
Look for the presidential campaigns and their supporting PACs to spend considerably more in 2016 than they unloaded in 2012, when a blizzard of ads and voter outreach efforts on behalf of President Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney blanketed the state, Sabato said. The two campaigns collectively spent roughly $2 billion.
"Believe me, if I had the cash right now, I'd invest in any TV station in Virginia," Sabato said.
As noted in a post yesterday, a new poll shows that more Americans say they would be with a gay presidential candidate than they would with one who is an evangelical Christian. The evangelical crowd is truly killing the Christian brand and fueling the rise f the so-called "Nones" who have completely walked away from organized religion and for good reasons. The family values crowd has made being an evangelical Christian synonymous with being hate filled, bigoted, most likely racist, and demanding of special rights while trampling on the rights of everyone else. In the minds of more and more Americans, evangelical Christians simply are not nice and decent people (an accurate view, in my view). A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the decline of the Christian brand and argues that these people could learn from the success of the gay rights movement, something like to be anathema to them. Here are highlights:
[T]he Christian right still wields considerable political power in this country. But outside the realm of the Republican presidential primary process—and maybe soon within it—the religious right is losing wattage fast, and I can report to you happily that the movement has only itself to blame.
Here’s a fascinating little politico-cultural data point that may have blown past you this week and would have me were it not for Rod Dreher at The American Conservative: A new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows that more Americans say they feel enthusiastic about or comfortable with an openly gay or lesbian presidential candidate than an openly evangelical Christian one. Yep. Three out of five, or 61 percent, said they’d welcome a gay candidate, while just 52 percent would say the same of an evangelical.
The comparison is instructive, because if you contrast these two movements and their relative political success in recent years, you see a very clear distinction that should (and does) make Republicans nervous. You see why the LGBT movement is winning and why religious conservatives are losing—and further, why evangelicals, the foot soldiers of the religious right, probably can’t do anything about it without in effect ceasing to be evangelicals (at least of the stripe they’ve been for 30-plus years).
[A] very long story very short, but in essence, over time, the leaders of the [gay rights] movement saw that it was more important to persuade public opinion than to shock it. And so the public-relations strategy around the movement for same-sex marriage became “we’re just like you.” And it worked, in all the ways you already know about.
In other words, the LGBT movement figured out that it had to find a way to get people who didn’t agree to agree.
Now let’s look at the Christian right. Has it done anything over the years to change its approach, try to widen its reach? Basically, no. Evangelicals care about the issues they’ve cared about for three decades.
Lately, the big issue for Christian conservatives is religious freedom. Are they winning that one? No. Public opinion is divided . . . . But many polls, like this one by Reuters, find that majorities oppose even a private employers’ “right” to deny contraceptive coverage to women. Americans are against the religious right, too, on state laws like the one Governor Mike Pence originally tried to pass in Indiana, and which evangelical conservatives are pushing elsewhere.
What is the religious right’s version of “we’re just like you”? I don’t think there is one. Because they are not like the rest of us, at least when it comes to politics. The rest of us are a bunch of different things (many quite religious). But we, motley as we are, believe in separation of church and state and the principle that as far as public life goes, the Constitution quite effortlessly trumps the Bible. And those among this larger “we” who are religious think religion demands chiefly that we behave compassionately toward the less fortunate, not that we refuse to bake cakes for matrimonially minded lesbians.
At long last, the real moral majority is winning.
As I have stated many times, I look forward to the day when evangelical Christians are a detested and scorned minority unwelcome in polite society. They have ruined the lives of others for years and years, and it is far past time that they reap the treatment they have inflicted on others.
Thursday, May 07, 2015
|View north towards Cape Henry|
As noted, the husband and I attended the "SKY + PRIDE" event for Hampton Roads Pride last night at the Virginia Beach ocean front. The image above gives an idea of the amazing view from the top of the 31st Street Hilton. Besides Virginia Beach mayor Will Sessoms, also in attendance were Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, GOP House of Delegates member Scott Taylor and state Senator Lynwood Lewis. Lots of money was raised (the husband and I previously made our pledge as HR Pride sponsors). Here are but two of last nights sponsor who made pledges:
|Yours truly chatting with the former Norfolk Democrat Party Chair (south view)|
This blog has repeatedly maintained that the bulk collection of telephone metadata by the National Security Agency is illegal. Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit confirmed this view by finding that the telephone medadata collection was illegal. The scope of the now confirmed illegal domestic surveillance of Americans was first revealed by Edward Snowden who is now facing federal charges for in effect alerting the public to the fact that the NSA was breaking the law. With the new court ruling, Congress will be forced to address the lawlessness of our national security agencies. The infighting and partisanship should make for great spectator sport. Here are highlights from Politico:
A court ruling Thursday against the National Security Agency’s phone data collection sparked a war of words between the Senate’s leaders over the future of the program — with little hope of a quick breakthrough.With lawmakers facing a May 31 deadline to extend or reform parts of the PATRIOT Act, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid both refused to cede ground.“According to the CIA, had these authorities been in place more than a decade ago, they would have likely prevented 9/11,” McConnell said on the floor of the chamber. He called soon-to-expire provisions of the PATRIOT Act “ideally suited for the terrorist threat we face in 2015.”Reid, meantime, called for an immediate vote on the USA Freedom Act, a surveillance reform bill advancing in the House that would end the telephone metadata program.“Instead of bringing the bipartisan NSA reform bill up for a vote, Sen. McConnell is trying to force the Senate to extend the bulk data collection practices that were ruled illegal today,” he said. “It would be the height of irresponsibility to extend these illegal spying powers when we could pass bipartisan reform into law instead.”
The court decision injected a new element of uncertainty into the already rancorous debate in Congress over whether to extend the PATRIOT Act provisions, including Section 215, used to justify the NSA’s bulk data collection, first revealed by Edward Snowden’s leaks. If Congress doesn’t act by May 31, the provisions will expire.Reid’s office threw cold water on the idea of a short-term solution, saying he “will use the tools at my disposal to stop any attempt to extend these powers for any length of time without reforming them.”Privacy zealots from both parties on Thursday applauded the court decision, saying it should grease the skids for lawmakers to approve the USA Freedom Act.“Today’s federal appeals court ruling confirms what we’ve been saying all along: Bulk collection of data is not authorized under the law and is not accepted by the American people,” said Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who are all sponsors of the USA Freedom Act in the House.National security hawks were quick to question the ruling’s durability, citing the potential for other courts to weigh in and the possibility of an appeal to the Supreme Court.
What the NSA has been doing would have been a dream come true for Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin and other ruthless dictators. It speaks volumes as to how much freedom of privacy American citizens have lost. Currently, America ranks among the worse nations in the world when it comes to domestic surveillance and lack of personal privacy.