Monday, February 29, 2016

Illusion Shattered

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone last week wrote "The press went gaga for Rubio after Iowa because Рwhy? Because he's an unthreatening, blow-dried, clich̩-spouting, dial-surveying phony of the type campaign journalists always approve of."

That undercuts the argument of Amanda Marcotte, who recognizes Marco Rubio as a viable general-election candidate, that "Cruz is still considered by both the Republican establishment and the mainstream media to be a more acceptable candidate than a bully like Trump."  Evidence has emerged that the GOP establishment is coming to terms with the possibility of a Trump nomination, in large measure becasue it realizes the alternative may be a Cruz nomination.

Nonetheless, Marcotte recognizes Trump's "policies are nonsensical, he clearly would rather burn this country to the ground than have anything approaching justice or equality in it, he is racist to his core, and he has no respect for anyone but himself and people who are just like him."  Consequently, she "can’t help sharing in the pleasure" which his supporters "take with the way that Trump’s very existence exposes the smarmy two-faced hypocrisy of the modern Republican Party."

Citing voter suppression and immigration, Marcotte observes that the policies of both Cruz and Rubio are "arguably worse" than even those of Trump.   Left unsaid is that the take no prisoners approach of Cruz and Rubio portends a foreign policy at least as expansionist as that of the frontrunner.

Recognizing that the "main problem" establishment Republicans have "with Trump is he puts his dirty shoes on the couch,"  Marcotte maintains they want" to be able to pursue nasty, bigoted policies while maintaining an air of gentility that garners respect in the mainstream media." Party leaders know that is imperiled by a candidate who "calls people 'pussy,' which is far worse than letting people die in the street."

And so Marcotte finds telling the exchange in the Texas debate in which Trump admits "I will not let people die in the street if I'm president" and Cruz responds "have you said you're a liberal on health care?"   Rubio is presumably the candidate whom establishment journalists are "easily swayed" by because he chooses to "wear nice shoes and can somewhat imitate the facial expressions of people who feel empathy,  Annoyed by Trump's apostasy,he could remark only "This is a Republican debate, right? Because that attack about letting people die in the streets..."

Marcotte did not have to mention gun safety. Or reproductive rights. Or cutting taxes on the wealthy. Or Wall Street regulation. Or the myriad of other issues to which Rubio and Cruz can offer only right-wing solutions.

She did not have to because the GOP perspective on health care- if you haven't worked hard enough to make the money to stay alive you're on your own- is something of a metaphor for the Party's governing ethos.  It is one in which Donald Trump has had to take a crash course to repeat in his quest for the nomination of the Party of greed and selfishness. If he makes it through Cleveland, Marcotte realizes, it "would puncture any remaining illusion that the Republican Party is a home for serious people, instead of a den of misanthropes and bullies that see politics solely as a way to preserve their own privilege while screwing over everyone else."

"That," she concludes, "and it will probably be easier for Clinton to beat Trump than either of his opponents."

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

This Time, A Vote For Apple

On Friday night's Real Time, Bill Maher realistically maintained that Donald Trump would defeat hillary Clinton if and only if, there is a major case of Islamic-inspired terrorism in the months preceeding the election.

Less realistic is Maher's confidence that Trump actually would be nominated, as well as his criticism of technology giant Apple Inc.  The company is challenging a court order in which, according to Politico, it is to "create and install special software onan iPhone found near the site of the December massacre in California that killed 14 people,so that federal  investigators can try to crack Apple’s security without risk of wiping the device’s contents."

In an interesting twist, Donald Trump had already tweeted his recommendation that Apple be boycotted. The tweet was posted on his iPhone, born and bred in the mainland China Trump so often complains about.  The less-hypocritical Maher Friday contended

Let’s talk about that big applause for Apple.  I think people in this country are spoiled, I think they’re uninformed, I don’t think they really know what the threats are out there. I think partly you’re a victim of your own success: 9/11 was pretty horrible, but compared to what happens in the rest of the world often, we’ve gotten away pretty easy. I don’t think people really think about the fact that there are a lot of people looking for nuclear weapons—that they would use them right here in this country—and that having your pictures safe wouldn’t really stack up to being killed by a nuclear event here in Los Angeles or any other major city.

In "a message to our customers," Apple CEO Tim Cook ten days earlier had written

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

Similarly, C.I.A. whistleblower John Kiriakou, who served 23 months in federal prison for being a whistleblower, explained to Salon's Andrew O'Hehir

People just don’t seem to understand that this case has very broad civil liberties connotations. This is not a fight between Apple and the FBI. If Apple allows the FBI in this one time, what’s gonna stop them from asking another time? Indeed, the FBI has now asked for access to nine different phones in nine different cases. All the other cases are drug cases. So that has started already. Then, if such a back door exists, repressive regimes are going to use it and hackers are going to use it and the next thing you know everybody’s got access to your phone. I mean, haven’t we given up enough of our civil liberties already? All these incremental losses of our civil liberties over the years, that people either don’t sense or don’t care about, are bad enough. Now we have to worry about the FBI going into our phones anytime they want.

But if Kiriakou is to be believed, it's not only the FBI. It's Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Xi Jinping. It's also Hamas, Boko Haram, and ISIL.

And it's also, in a manner, Barack Obama. O'Hehir recognizes "Although the president has taken no visible role in the iPhone struggle, it exemplifies what you might call the Obama line: "I’m a reasonable guy and this is a special case. Don’t you trust me with your secrets?" Despite his lousy record on balancing civil liberties and national security, we probably should trust him. As for trusting the rest of the world, not a chance.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Let 'Em Die

In September, 2009 Representative Alan Grayson of Florida stood on the House floor and maintained

It’s my duty and pride tonight to be able to announce exactly what the Republicans plan to do for health care in America… It’s a very simple plan. Here it is. The Republican health care plan for America: “don’t get sick.” If you have insurance don’t get sick, if you don’t have insurance, don’t get sick; if you’re sick, don’t get sick. Just don’t get sick. … If you do get sick America, the Republican health care plan is this: “die quickly."

Oh, yes- Grayson is a Democrat, which at the time seemed obvious, but perhaps not so now.

Following Grayson's statement (below), House Republicans threatened, but later declined, to "introduce a resolution condemning Grayson for breaching House decorum," according to CNN at the time.

After initially being repulsed by the Representative's truth-telling, Republicans may have decided it wasn't entirely insulting.  When the GOP debate Thursday night in Houston (Houston in song here, here, and here; Trump below) turned to health care, Donald Trump made the obligatory nod to free enterprise and implied criticism of Europe, asserting "I do not want socialized medicine" and denying he ever had suggested health care in the USA should be anything like that in Canada or Scotland.  A portion of  the argument, however, included

CRUZ: Did you say if you want people to die on the streets, if you don’t support socialized health care, you have no heart.

TRUMP: Correct. I will not let people die on the streets if I’m president.

CRUZ: Have you said you’re a liberal on health care?

TRUMP: Excuse me. Let me talk. If people...

CRUZ: Talk away. Explain your plan, please.

TRUMP: If people — my plan is very simple. I will not — we’re going to have private — we are going to have health care, but I will not allow people to die on the sidewalks and the streets of our country if I’m president. You may let it and you may be fine with it...

CRUZ: So does the government pay for everyone’s health care?

TRUMP: ... I’m not fine with it. We are going to take those people...

CRUZ: Yes or no. Just answer the question.

TRUMP: Excuse me. We are going to take those people and those people are going to be serviced by doctors and hospitals. We’re going to make great deals on it, but we’re not going to let them die in the streets.

CRUZ: Who pays for it?

RUBIO: Well, can I just clarify something?

BLITZER: Gentleman, please.

RUBIO: Wolf, no. I want to clarify something.

BLITZER: Gentlemen please. I want to move on.

RUBIO: This is a Republican debate, right? Because that attack about letting people die in the streets...

That was unsettling to Marco, who believes Republicans wouldn't care about people dying in the streets. He might be right, too, because Trump's references to not letting people die under those circumstances were among the few statements last night which got no applause or whoops of support. They did, though, make it easier for Rubio to complain that the front-runner had repeated himself four times.

The real problem, of course, was not in the repetition but in what was being repeated. Part of that was Trump implying that we should stick to conservative principles but only up to a point where individuals actually would perish in front of us.

For Marco Rubio (and Ted Cruz), that point hasn't been reached and apparently never would be.  All of that either makes Alan Grayson insightful, psychic, or just one to state the obvious.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

They Should Be Thankful

Former H. Clinton adviser and CEO of True Blue Media Peter Daou operates Blue Nation Review, from which he attacks Bernie Sanders on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

"Anyone on the left who smears Hillary with evidence-free attacks when we’re facing a potential Trump presidency," writes Daou, "should be ashamed of themselves. And Bernie Sanders should resist the impulse to surf this ugly anti-Hillary wave."  He insists "some of Bernie Sanders’s supporters" are "going after Hillary Clinton’s integrity with false accusations and innuendo."

Former conservative Republican David Brock, founder of the pro-Clinton Media Matters and Correct The Record and of Super PACS American Bridge and Priorities USA, is an unabashamed Clinton supporter and surrogate. In a recent Time magazine interview, Brock was asked about the remark by Clinton pollster Joel Benenson that Sanders is conducting "the most negative campaign" of any Democrat in presidential primary history. He responded

I think so. … All of these attacks on Secretary Clinton at the end of thee day are character attacks. They’re very personal they’re totally unwarranted and it’s especially troubling because he’s using the Republican playbook against Secretary Clinton these are exactly the kinds of attacks certainly after she wins the nomination that they will be launching, and I think it’s very troubling that he’s using these same tactics.... 

One can be forgiven for wondering what these tactics are.  It wasn't Bernie Sanders who set up the House's Special Committe for Benghazi. Nor was it Sanders, but rather Marco Rubio who- after Clinton's splendid defense in front of the committee- (falsely) claimed "she got exposed as a liar." And it was Republican consultant Ed Rogers who last month remarked of Mrs. Clinton's e-mail scandal "There is no question among the experts I talked to about whether she is guilty; there is only a question of whether the Justice Department will indict, slow-walk the case or stiff-arm the FBI."

When Bernie Sanders was asked at debate in October about the e-mails, he remarked "I think the secretary is right. And that is, I think the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails."  When in the most recent debate talk turned to the impact of the criminal justice system on African-Americans, Sanders could have turned to Mrs. Clinton and asked if she had changed since in 1996 she spoke of urban youth as "super-predators," who must be brought" to heel." He did not.

Even when the Vermont Senator has the former Secretary of State on the ropes, he doesn't go in for the kill.  A defining moment may have come, and passed, in the Milwaukee debate when Mrs. Clinton argued

But I want to — I want to follow up on something having to do with leadership, because, you know, today Senator Sanders said that President Obama failed the presidential leadership test. And this is not the first time that he has criticized President Obama. In the past he has called him weak. He has called him a disappointment. He wrote a forward for a book that basically argued voters should have buyers’ remorse when it comes to President Obama’s leadership and legacy. And I just couldn’t agree — disagree more with those kinds of comments. You know, from my perspective, maybe because I understand what President Obama inherited, not only the worst financial crisis but the antipathy of the Republicans in Congress, I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves for being a president...

Sanders gave an extended reply, respectfully beginning with "Madam Secretary, that is a low blow." He then went on to praise President Obama (which Clinton does with greater strategic effect), state  "a United States senator has the right to criticize the President," and talk about that "blurb," which few people know about and fewer still care about.

Then he got close:  "President Obama and I are friends. As you know, he came to Vermont to campaign for me when he was a senator. I have worked for his re- election. His first election and his re-election." Was Sanders about to have a Lloyd Bentsen moment (video below)?  Hardly, as he then went on to complain "I think it is really unfair to suggest that I have not been supportive of this president."

Sanders should have channeled the late Texas senator and stated "President Obama and I are friends. As you know, he came to Vermont to campaign for me when he was a senator. I have worked for his re-election. His first election and his re-election. Madame Secretary, you are no Barack Obama."

It could have fallen flat. However, his bid for the nomination always has been a long-shot, and Senator Sanders should have taken that shot. It might have turned the campaign around.

The likes of Daou and Brock imply that the Senator is not quite the Democrat Hillary Clinton is. All the whining and wailing has obscured the likelihood that Bernard Sanders has known from the start that he likely would fall short. However, he is a Democrat loathe to open a wound which might be exploited by the GOP in the fall campaign or to give the Republican Party fodder for an effective video to be used against her. He seems to lack the killer instinct and he might not be a typical Democrat. But he is the best kind.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Mental Health Dodge Has Come To A Republican Near You

John Kasich is the GOP's most rational presidential aspirant. He said he attended the wedding of a gay friend. (Perhaps he liked the reception hall- or the open bar.) At one point, he agreed he would prohibit sales of firearms to people on the no-fly list (though not on the Terrorism Screening Database).  The Ohio governor approved expansion of Medicaid (not afraid to accept free money from the federal government to insure your residents).   The bar has been set very low for Republican candidates.

Following the mass shooting in Kalamazoo on Sunday, Kasich was asked by Think Progress

how he would bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans on the issue of gun control, Kasich pivoted to mental health, saying access to care was the real issue surrounding America’s mass shooting problem.

“You know, it’s another issue of mental illness,” Kasich said. “And frankly, I’m doing everything I can in my state to make sure we can take relief to those who, you know, who live on the edge like that."

Blaming firearm violence on mental illness is an easy way out. It allow the politician to steer clear of attack by the gun lobby, and the mental-health community won't compalin about the attention it gives to emotional issues. Sometimes reality intrudes, however, as in a study published in the February, 2015 issue of the American Journal of Public Health which found

little population-level evidence supports the notion that individuals diagnosed with mental illness are more likely than anyone else to commit gun crimes. According to Appelbaum, less than 3% to 5% of US crimes involve people with mental illness, and the percentages of crimes that involve guns are lower than the national average for persons not diagnosed with mental illness. Databases that track gun homicides, such as the National Center for Health Statistics, similarly show that fewer than 5% of the 120 000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness.

We don't know yet to what extent mental illness and other factors were at play in the Kalamazoo massacre, though Uber driver Jason Dalton did not have a history of mental illness.  On the macrol level, however, we know that the proliferation of firearms is a more important factor than mental illness. The researchers explained

A number of studies suggest that laws and policies that enable firearm access during emotionally charged moments also seem to correlate with gun violence more strongly than does mental illness alone. Belying Lott’s argument that “more guns” lead to “less crime,” Miller et al. found that homicide was more common in areas where household firearms ownership was higher. Siegel et al. found that states with high rates of gun ownership had disproportionately high numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides. Webster’s analysis uncovered that the repeal of Missouri’s background check law led to an additional 49 to 68 murders per year, and the rate of interpersonal conflicts resolved by fatal shootings jumped by 200% after Florida passed “stand your ground” in 2005.56 Availability of guns is also considered a more predictive factor than is psychiatric diagnosis in many of the 19 000 US completed gun suicides each year.11,57,58 (By comparison, gun-related homicides and suicides fell precipitously, and mass-shootings dropped to zero, when the Australian government passed a series of gun-access restrictions in 1996.59)

On the matter of taste and integrity, the Ohio governor has the edge on his rivals. However, when it comes to jumping to conclusions about criminal behavior, John Kasich, PsyD is just as hard to beat.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Daunting Task Sanders Has Faced

The situtation is dire. Recently, it has has gotten better, one candidate (accurately) maintains.

Some people believe the Bernie Sanders campaign, after narrow defeats in the Iowa and Nevada caucuses and an impending substantial defeat in the South Carolina primary, is tanking. Among the reasons noted, one virtually ignored is suggested in the video referred here by a Sanders' upstate New York supporter.

As you can see, Senator Sanders appears with former NAACP head and Sanders surrogate Ben Jealous before a group of adult blacks at a church supper in South Carolina, where he is met with less enthusiasm than a major presidential candidate usually is. After brief remarks drawing upon Martin Luther King's concern about "racism, militarism, and greed," Jealous introduces the Senator, who then criticizes a criminal justice system with a disturbing and disproportionate number of black and Latino inmates.

Sanders then launches into his usual indictment of the economic system.  There is, however, a slightly different emphasis here, one unavoidable when running in a state nearly half of whose Democratic primary voters are black. Sanders maintains "we have an economy today which, thankfully, is a lot better than it was seven years ago, thanks to President Obama."

Following is applause, nearly inevitable speaking to a group of blacks, but also quite likely if speaking to virtually any predominantly Democratic group.   Here is a Democratic president whom congressional Republicans long ago agreed to oppose (even to blocking his constitutionally-mandated responsiblity of nominating someone for a Supreme Court vacancy) being commended for turning an economy around.  Any way it's phrased, it's an applause line.

Do you notice the problem here?  Former US Senator Hillary Clinton is the wife of "the first black President"-  wildly popular among Democrats generally- and served as Secretary of State under the first black President.  (She is typically, by both the media and Sanders, referred to as "Secretary Clinton," reinforcing the understanding she is Obama's choice.) She is, more so than eight years ago, the embodiment of the Democratic establishment. Not only has HRC now served in a Democratic Administration, she is facing a candidate more at odds with that establishment than (notwithstanding clever positioning) Barack Obama ever was.

In the last debate, Clinton's most damning (among Democratic voters) charge against Sanders was " this is not the first time that he has criticized President Obama. In the past he has called him weak. He has called him a disappointment.'

Before that, moreover, Clinton had commended President Obama for having "set a great example" on race relations and lauded the "great effort made by the Obama administration and others to really send a clear message" to refugees from Central and South America. She linked herself at every opportunity to the President. She is "a staunch supporter" of the Affordable Care Act, contending "before it was called Obamacare, it was called Hillarycare." She argued both she and President Obama would "take on any vested interested, whether it's Wall Street, or drug companies, or insurance companies, or frankly, the gun lobby to stand up to do what's best for the American people."   (We're still waiting, but that's beside the point.)

Obviously, Clinton is running to be Obama's successor and stressing that she will continue the legacy of a President who is extremely popular among Democrats. Sanders, on the contrary, has been saying, as he must: the situation is critical but improving. The Vermont senator understands that even after the last seven years of a Democratic presidency, (growing) income inequality, control of the electoral process by corporate interests, and racial inequities in the criminal justice system persist.

Good luck selling that to a Democratic electorate in the primary campaign. Assuming she is nominated, Mrs. Clinton will face the challenge, not insurmountable, of balancing her everything is beautiful in its own way under President Obama theme with the sour, somewhat fearful, and anti-Establishment mood among voters nationwide.  However,she will have gotten betond the nominating stage, far easier than for a candidate who has to argue that the President has put us on the right track while we're headed down the wrong track in the long run.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Unintentionally Making A Case For Donald Trump

He may be, as Charlie Pierce describes him, "a vulgar talking yam with a supreme instinct for the zeitgeist."  But he's still the best of the lot, as Erick Erickson (photo below from Fox News via Salon) inadvertently demonstrates when he writes on his website

When I wrote in National Review that I was against Donald Trump, I said and have maintained since his entry into the race that if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, I would support him. No longer.

Donald Trump believes the federal government should fund Planned Parenthood. Donald Trump believes there are good things the child killers do. 

That's reason #1. Although Donald Trump says he believes Planned Parenthood should lose its federal funding, he is the one GOP candidate- in the current, abridged field or in the original group- who has said something positive about Planned Parenthood.

"For eight years," the RedState founder wrote,

the conservative movement compromised itself as a wing of George W. Bush’s Republican Party. The movement became ill defined and conservative became a synonym with Republican.

Already we are seeing pastors and religious leaders compromising their integrity to vote for Donald Trump. Jerry Falwell, Jr. has joined the whores of Moloch, defending Trump’s Planned Parenthood statement on Twitter. Falwell presides over an institution that expels students who have abortions, but is willing to give positive lip service to Trump saying there are good things Planned Parenthood does.

If Trump were elected President, there would be members of the pro-life movement who would compromise their convictions for access to power.

That's reason #2- members of the forced-birth movement would compromise their convictions if Donald Trump were President. Presumably, Falwell Jr. is supporting "the whores of Moloch" because the only other Republican in the race determined to stick it to Democrats is Ted Cruz, and no one likes Ted Cruz..

With a straight face, Erickson argues "If Trump were elected, portions of the conservative movement would compromise the movement to be one degree from Donald Trump. The intellectual institutions on which we have made our case for limited government and freedom would crumble."

That's reason #3- whatever "intellectual institutions," which remain unnamed, would "crumble." The intellectual values would be keeping taxes low, unless they go to the Pentagon or, better yet, military contractors; and ggutting overnment regulations, except when the government is in your bedroom.

He adds

I have become convinced that Donald Trump’s pro-life conversion is a conversion of convenience. Life is the foremost cause in how I vote. Therefore I will not be voting for Donald Trump at all. Ever.

 .... if Trump is able to get the nomination, the Republican Party will cease to be the party in which I served as an elected official. It will not deserve my support and will not get it if it chooses to nominate a pro-abortion liberal masquerading as a conservative.
Reason #4; The Republican Party, one of its foremost bloggers claims, "will cease to be the party" he himself has served if it nominates "a pro-abortion liberal masquerading as a conservative."  Sadly, that is not likely, though he should know better than I, so we can allow ourselves some wishful thinking.

Voting for Trump, Erickson states, "requires compromises of conviction that I in good conscience cannot and will not make."  Erickson is a man of such great conscience that he has charged of Planned Parenthood, "doctors have been killing children and harvesting the children’s organs" and "in some cases, the children are born alive.  In some case, whole children are born and then carved up."  He also recommends women seeking abortions consider coat hangers, has likened an Obama adviser to an infamous Nazi, called Michelle Obama "a Marxist harpy wife" and then-Supreme Court Justice Eric Souter "a goat-fucking child molester." (There is nothing more entertaining than sexual fantasies of family-values conservatives.)

Supporters of Trump, Erickson writes, will "find themselves slowly compromised on both their integrity and values." That's a bad thing to the fellow who says feminists "have no sense of humor but clearly God did in creating feminists."

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Kennedy And Clinton Were Wrong. Hillary Still Is.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fundamentally agree about the twin issues of immigration and illegal immigration. However, at their recent debate in Milwaukee, Clinton maintained

I am against the raids. I'm against the kind of inhumane treatment that is now being visited upon families, waking them up in the middle of the night, rounding them up. We should be deporting criminals, not hardworking immigrant families who do the very best they can and often are keeping economies going in many places in our country.

No doubt the do. Generally willing to accept lower wages, they are more attractive for employers trying to maximize income; for those individuals looking for work, not so good.

Clinton continued

I'm a strong supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. Have been ever since I was in the Senate. I was one of the original sponsors of the DREAM Act. I voted for comprehensive immigration reform in 2007.

Senator Sanders voted against it at that time. Because I think we have to get to comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. And as president I would expand enormous energy, literally call every member of Congress that I thought I could persuade.

Sanders replied

In terms of 2007 immigration reform, yeah, I did vote against it. I voted against it because the Southern Poverty Law Center, among other groups, said that the guest-worker programs that were embedded in this agreement were akin to slavery. Akin to slavery, where people came into this country to do guest work were abused, were exploited, and if they stood up for their rights, they'd be thrown out of this country.

So it wasn't just me who opposed it. It was LULAC, one of the large Latino organizations in this country. It was the AFL-CIO. It was some of the most progressive members of the United States Congress who opposed it for that reason.

Comparing guest-worker programs to slavery is a little- a little- extreme, but only because there are very, very few things which should be compared to slavery. In her reply,  Mrs. Clinton demonstrated she believes Barack Obama is not the only man who can do wrong when she added  "and with respect to the 2007 bill, this was Ted Kennedy's bill. And I think Ted Kennedy had a very clear idea about what needed to be done. And I was proud to stand with him and support it."

Not that she knew, or knows, what needed to be done. Ted Kennedy was for it, and that was good enough for her. But Kennedy erred in strongly supporting No Child Left Behind and he was wrong to support temporary worker programs.

"I loved Ted Kennedy," Sanders then stated, but

.... on this issue, when you have one of the large Latino organizations in America saying vote no, and you have the AFL-CIO saying vote no, and you have leading progressive Democrats, in fact, voting no, I don't apologize for that vote.

There is no reason to apologize for the vote, Senator.  Tied to an employer, guest workers lack the freedom of other workers, leaving them vulnerable to abuse by an employer. The primary problem in the nation is not insufficient immigration, nor insufficient labor or lazy American-born workers. . Stagnant wages, deteriorating benefits, and job insecurity contribute to the income inequality Hillary Clinton claims to deplore. Guest worker programs are but one part- but are a part- of the decline of the American workforce.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Proper Sentiment

It won't matter of course, because it makes sense. And in this season in which common sense is out of vogue within the GOP electorate and among the Party's candidates, reason is not a virtue, but a bug.

One day, Donald Trump- demonstrating the cliche that even a stopped clock is right twice a day- would assert "No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith' after Pope Francis declared that remarks about immigration made by the candidate precluded him from being a Christian (christian).

Of course, Trump was right only once because he remarked also "if and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened,"

The next day, a Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, issued an explanation- not denial- of the Pope's comments of the previous day, maintaining

The Pope said what we already know, if we followed his teaching and positions: We shouldn't build walls,but bridges. He has always said that, continuously. He also said that in relation to migration in Europe many times. So this is not a specific issue, limited to this particualr case. It's his generic view, coherent with the nature of solidarity from the Gospel.    
Shorter Lombardi: You, Donald Trump, aren't the only person violating the teachings of Jesus. Capitulating, Trump termed the statement "beautiful."  Tough guy.

One person had it right from the start, however.  In a statement, Trump foil John Ellis Bush quipped "The Swiss Army Guard is probably taking pretty good care of the pope, so I'm not worried about it." In what appears to have been a separate remark, Bush told reporters "Christianity is between he and his creator. I don't think we need to discuss that."

The message is far better than the grammar.  John E. Bush might well be regretting that he didn't realize- as we have now discovered- that the way to shut up Donald Trump is to question his religious faith, wait for the reaction, and then criticize him again, if less directly. After all, it worked like a charm for a 79-year-old guy living 4,000 miles away.

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Trump And Pope Francis Clash- Sort Of

Sixteen hours ago, I had planned a post which would both criticize Pope Francis' remark suggesting Donald Trump is not a Christian and would defend Donald Trump.

The Pope was not clear when he said "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian." Because he  was responding to a question, his remark was not written but rather verbal. Hence, although the context implied that the word "Christian/christian" was meant to be in lower case rather than upper case, it is uncertain.

There is a major difference.  Charging the xenophobic Trump with not being "christian" infers that he differs from Jesus Christ in being unconcerned about the poor, the sick, refugees, and prostitutes. Not being "Christian," however, means that the subject of the comment is not on the same page as the fellow who reportedly maintained "I and the Father are one."

Initially, Trump's response at a rally in South Carolina included "For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian.  No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith."

For eight years, we've been hearing from numerous conservative Republicans that Barack Obama may not be a Christian and may even be a Muslim. And now, we hear from a religious leader that Donald Trump "is not Christian (christian?)."   It has been appalling the past seven years and it is apalling now, and it's no less or more so because it comes from a revered religious figure.

To be sure, the Pope added "I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”   However, this sounds a little like a classic hypothetical question on a push poll: "if you learned that a candidate was a pedophile, would you be more or less likely to vote for him?" If the pontiff was not clear that Trump had "said things in that way" (which, of course, he has), he could have passed on answering the question.

Pope Francis could have taken his cue from the response of Senator Obama to a question from Reverend Rick Warren at a town hall meeting in August, 2008 about when a baby receives "human rights." He replied  “… whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question  with specificity … is above my pay grade."  In that instance, Obama chose not to be straightforward. However, in the manner of remarks about immigrants, the Pope should have taken the same approach and recognized that whether someone is a Christian (christian?) is beyond his pay grade- or anyone's.

Events move rapidly, however, and perhaps no more so than when one who condemns "political correctness" and consciously projects strength and "winning" above all else is confronted by a popular religious leader. So now we read

Well you never know, George. I mean, with me it’s illegal immigration," Trump said, referring to the first issue he brought up more than eight months ago when he launched his campaign: "We want to have the wall, we have to have the wall, we have to stop the drugs from pouring in and the illegal immigrants from just absolutely pouring into our country."

Repeating his usual rhetoric about building a wall to keep out drugs and undocumented immigrants, Trump commented that Francis' remarks were "a little bit lighter ... than the press portrayed after I read a transcript." The pope's precise words do not specifically mention Trump but rather speak in general religious terms about anyone who constructs a wall instead of building bridges.

During Thursday night's town hall event on CNN, the businessman had already begun dialing back his rhetoric, calling Francis "a wonderful guy."

After months on the campaign trail, Donald Trump evidently has learned what it means to be a Republican. When cornered, blame the press. We don't know how Pope Francis' comments were "a little bit lighter... than the press portrayed." The mitigating portion nof the pontiff's remarks were "this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way," suggesting that Francis had not read or heard Trump's statements firsthand, but instead had been notified of them. That purports with- not refutes- Trump's original charge that the Mexican government had influenced Pope Francis.

Yet, Trump decided to back off his original, angry refutation of a reprehensible statement. Either the Pope contended that in denouncing illegal immigration the presidential candidate contradicts Jesus Christ's famous support for the downtrodden, a questionable proposition which (presumably) Trump rejects.  Or the Pope was arguing that Trump's approach to immigration renders him something other than a Christian, not unlike the allegations that President Obama is a Muslim.

At this point, we have no clarification from the Vatican, no assertion that Francis was not referring to the candidate's religious affiliation. Therefore, when Trump initially pointed out "No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion and faith," he should have left it at that.  Yet, Donald Trump has backed off, demonstrating that in the face of a scurrilous charge, he turns into a weak-kneed coward- or as he himself would put it, "politically correct."

Next up: not everyone was wrong in this episode.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Accomodating Republicans

It is, at first glance, a rather routine statement made by President Obama's #2 when he in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio he remarked

The Senate gets to have a say, and so in order to get this done the president is not going to be able to go out (nor would it be his instinct anyway) to pick the most liberal jurist in the nation and put them on the court,    There are plenty of judges are on high courts already who have had unanimous support of the Republicans.

Innocous sounding, it nevertheless provides insight into Joe Biden's decision not to make the run against Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, presumably his last opportunity for a shot at becoming President of the United States of America.   Surely he would  not have been endorsed by one Anita Hill.  For as Hill could tell you and others have, if a Democrat with backbone had been chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committe at the time, Clarence Thomas would not have been gotten to the Supreme Court. He would have crawled back into the sewer from which President George HW Bush had plucked him.

If it is uncertain whether Biden thought about the Thomas-Hill affair (not the type of affair Thomas probably wanted), before deciding not to make another run at the presidency. More significantly, Biden might have been offering us a hint when he remarked "there are plenty of judges are (sic) on high courts already who have had unanimous support of the Republicans."

If so, speculation about the possible nomination of Sri Srinavavan, Loretta Lynch, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker (the first two much more realistic) and other neo-liberals or centrists has a disturbing basis in fact.  These are individuals who if nominated, might possibly convince Republicans to consider- consider- granting a hearing before GOP senators overwhelmingly reject them.

There still is a possibility that the President will nominate someone genuinely progressive to the High Court. But going along to get along, which the Vice-President evidently expects the President to do, is an Obama specialty.  Notwithstanding the solid selection of Sonia Sotomayor and of  Elena Kagan, President Obama usually (out of naivete or ideology)  has acted as if he believed that if he would only go halfway, the GOP will, also.

Now that the Republican Party- contrary to its approach when one of its own has been President- has condemned the notion that Obama should nominate anyone to replace Justice Scalia, the gauntlet has been thrown down.  We know how a President Biden would have responded, and can only hope he doesn't know the Presdient's mind.

Next up: Pope Francis and Donald Trump go at it.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Nothing New Under The Sun With Stephen Colbert

Scott Timberg, a "staff writer for Salon, focusing on culture," is utterly baffled that Donald Trump could be interviewed by Stephen Colbert (video below) and not be "demolished."He shouldn't be.

Trump "has a nice sense of humor about himself" and "has become bulletproof," laments Timberg, who realizes the candidate

made this clear last night when he called in to “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” This should have allowed Colbert – one of the nation’s finest political satirists and the sharpest interviewer on late night – to skewer Trump hard. He set the bit up looking like he’d get the best of Trump, with an orange Trump wig on his bat phone.

Colbert is an excellent political satirist, which he demonstrates each night on The Late Show- as he did on "The Colbert Report"- when he does his stand-up (or, rather, his sit-down).  However, as an interviewer, he is poor, and not unintentionally.  On Comedy Central, Colbert did interviews strictly for laughs while presenting a facade of gravitas. Now on CBS, he plays the interviews mostly for laughs. As on "The Colbert Report,", he does "set the bit up" in such a way that he can be expected to skewer the interviewee, but backs off before he has a chance to offend his subject.  the commercial success which comes with ratings is key.

Timberg notes: “'I’ve got a suggestion,'” Colbert offers. 'Why don’t you have a swear jar? Every time you say a bad word, you put a billion dollars in it.” The crowd goes wild. Trump sheepishly agrees. “I’m gonna do that, I like that.' But he’s not defeated. He seems, oddly, like a good sport.'" That shouldn't be surprising, given that every guest on TCR learned what each one on The Late Show is learning: one needs only to be "a good sport" when interviewed by Stephen Colbert to look good.

Timberg acknowledges

When the two discuss politics, Trump mentions that he would, if he were president, push for a new Supreme Court justice to replace Antonin Scalia even if it was an election year — and then contradicts himself by saying that President Obama should wait for the next president to do it. (Colbert doesn’t call him on it the fact that this makes no sense, either.) Alright, sounds good!

Of course he didn't call the guest on a contradiction, though occasionally he will do so. However, Donald Trump may (although won't) become the next President. Additionally, he has a habit of condemning or viciously ridiculing people he doesn't like.  John Ellis Bush still is looking for his manhood and Megyn Kelly still is searching for her self-respect- or would be if she had any to find.

The Salonist adds

The audience had its laugh and Colbert got some good lines across. But the strange thing is that Trump won the exchange. He was mocked, laughed at, and booed by the audience. “You’re not making any friends here, Donald,” Colbert said as the crowd groaned. He may not have convinced the liberals and progressives gathered in the studio. But for a lot of people watching on television, this came across as just riffing. For them, this was just fun. For Trump it certainly seemed to be.

Just as Kanye West and Taylor Swift manipulate their public presences, alliances and feuds, Trump appears to know exactly what he’s doing, too. He’s spinning us all – even Colbert.

There is nothing strange about Trump winning the exchange. Nor is there anything unusual about spinning the extraordinarily smart Colbert. It's the way he wants it, and it occurs continually. It's the way he rolls and it's commercially successful. His synchophantic audience eats it up while clueless it is being played.

Concluding, Timberg remarks

What’s dangerous is that Trump can get in and out of an interview with someone as sharp as Colbert without being demolished. Colbert fans came out of this thinking their guy won, but Trump fans have every reason to think the same thing.

It’s not quite charm, but something more unusual, and more pernicious. If he’s elected, could Trump become the real Teflon president? Let’s hope we don’t find out.

What's really dangerous is that the more consistently right-wing Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio also "could get in and out of an interview with someone as sharp as Colbert without being demolished." Smile a lot; laugh a little; be charming throughout, the sort of thing jsut begging to be pulled off by shallow Marco.  It's not a complicated formula and it works every time with Colbert. And it will keep working as long as media members like Scott Timberg don't recognize their idol's own formula.

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And It's A Big One, Too

You have to hand it to John Ellis Bush. Or at least, as Will Bunch puts it, "Hey, maybe you can’t blame the former Florida governor — whose very manhood has been under attack from Republican frontrunner Donald Trump out on the campaign trail for months — for, um, overcompensating with his shiny, 5.3-inch new toy."

After he appeared on Tuesday at high-security firearm company FN Manufacturing, Bush tweeted a picture of an FNX-45 pistol emblazoned with "Gov. Jeb Bush," though later (according to CNN) he "said he didn't know about the tweet but said it was a tribute to his appearance at the company.

Until the media fell in love with the Senator who is his fellow Floridian, Bush had been hailed as a moderate, and until the town hall in South Carolina Tuesday had been the only GOP presidential candidate without a firearm. Hence, his tweet illustrated as well as almost anything could have the validity of Barack Obama's remarks Tuesday- ostensibly about Donald Trump- when the President noted

This is not just Mr. Trump. Everyone's focusing on Trump because he says it in a more interesting way. He may up the ante in anti-Muslim sentiment, but if you look at what the other Republican candidates have said, that's pretty troubling, too. They're all denying climate change and that's troubling to the scientific community.

It seems, further, that the curiously named "FN America" is not even American-owned. Bunch points out that The Washington Post found (as reported in an article behind a paywall) that FN America is owned by a Belgian company "that was requisitioned during World War II to make firearms for Nazis as well as the Allies."

Still, it was quite a coup by the ex-governor, one which says much about both the GOP base to which the candidate was pandering and the abysmal quality of the Republican "bench," celebrated by the media until we actually got to see it in action.   It's not only Trump, and it's not only anti-Muslim sentiment and climate change. In a field which includes Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco "the World Trade Center came down because (of) Bill Clinton" Rubio, it really is everyone.

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Voter Identification And Lengthy Lines

On Sunday's commentary (video below), John Oliver summarized the problems with requiring voter identification: the difficulty in many states of obtaining I.D.; the disproportionate impact on black and hispanic voters; inapplicability of the remedy to anything but voter impersonation, which a study found occurred at most 31 times of more than a billion votes cast from 2000 through 2014; the evidence that it may be used as a partisan effort to elect more Republicans.

There may be only one pitfall in requiring voter identification which went unmentioned, and that possibly only because of time limitations.  The day before the last off-year congressional election, Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones posted an article detailing what she considers the most "subtle" means of disenfranchising black and hispanic voters: "polling places without enough voting machines or poll workers." She found

Nationally, African Americans waited about twice as long to vote in the 2012 election as white people (23 minutes on average versus 12 minutes); Hispanics waited 19 minutes. White people who live in neighborhoods whose residents are less than 5 percent minority had the shortest of all wait times, just 7 minutes. These averages obscure some of the unusually long lines in some areas. In South Carolina's Richland County, which is 48 percent black and is home to 14 percent of the state's African American registered voters, some people waited more than five hours to cast their ballots.

A recent study from the Brennan Center for Justice suggests that a big factor behind these delays was inadequately prepared polling places in heavily minority precincts. Looking at Florida, Maryland, and South Carolina, three states that had some of the longest voting lines in 2012 , the center found a strong correlation between areas with large minority populations and a lack of voting machines and poll workers. In South Carolina, the 10 precincts with the longest waits had more than twice the percentage of black voters (64 percent) as the state as a whole (27 percent).

When individuals have to wait to vote, they are tempted to turn around and go home, especially because in the vast majority of elections the likelihood of one vote (or even a few votes) deciding an election is virtually nill.  One study, Mencimer found, " suggested that roughly 130,000 would-be voters were turned away thanks to long lines" in Franklin County (home to Columbus), Ohio, in 2004. (Mencimer adds "Those missing votes would not have been enough to swing the state for John Kerry." WrongThis way, too.)

Long waiting lines, most prevalent in urban and minority areas, discourage turnout, primarily of Democratic voters. Given the most common reasons for those lines, racial discrimination is not the primary motivation, though there is an obvious discriminatory impact.  Mencimer notes

Charles Stewart III, a political science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied voting wait times, has posited that the problem is likely related to the poor provision of public service in minority areas in general. In other words, if you don't have good trash pick up, your polling station isn't likely to function very well, either.

Blacks and hispanics are those most likely to live in areas plagued by inadequate municipal services. They also are disproportionately unlikely to possess voter I.D., hence especially likely to be harmed by the requirement that identification be presented at the polls.  Additionally, the mere presentation of identification, along with verification (albeit a relatively brief process in most cases), lengthens the time required for voting. Lines inevitably are longer and some discouraged voters will return home without casting a ballot.

The impact on minority voters severely hampers Democratic fortunes. It should be a bigger issue in the presidential race, and would be if only there were a Democrat countering her opponent's campaign with a race-based appeal.

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

When Donald Trump Is The Realist, There Is A Real Problem

Admittedly, it was a little silly when Donald Trump, attacking John Ellis Bush during the debate in Greenville, South Carolina on Saturday, charged "Two days ago, he said he would take his pants off and moon everybody. And that's fine- nobody reports that. He gets up and says that. And then he tells me that, oh, my language was a little bit rough."

Trump was severely distorting (not "severely conservative") a statement made by Bush complaining about the alleged lack of coverage of his campaign.  Still, an exchange Trump had with a media-designated moderate, Young Marco, demonstrated yet again that a Trump Administration probably would be less devastating than any led by one of his rivals.

It started when Senator Rubio used terrorism as an excuse to invoke God. "I just want to say," Rubio remarked "at least on behalf of me and my family, I thank God all the time it was George W. Bush in the White House on 9/11 and not Al Gore."  He added of President 43 "I think you can look back in hindsight and say a couple of things, but he kept us safe" (photograph via CNN of President Bush keeping "us safe," below).

Less of a politician than most of the media have come to believe, Trump (after Rubio made a couple of more comments) failed to begin his response with "it's personal with me," a sure-fire hit from any Republican, Democrat, or celebrity. However, he did counter with

How did he keep us safe when the World Trade Center -- the World -- excuse me. I lost hundreds of friends. The World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush. He kept us safe? That is not safe. That is not safe, Marco. That is not safe.

Pointing out that presiding over the largest terrorist attack in world history does not constitute keeping the nation safe did not sit well with the Republican National Committee's largely hand-picked audience of Bush and Rubio supporters.  However, the party officials and donors who packed the Peace Center did show their appreciation with Marco Rubio when he responded  "The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn't kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him."

Marco Rubio will never be a history professor.  Though President Clinton's effort to kill Osama bin Laden and destroy Al Qaeda's camps were insufficient, they were far more strenuous than those of the guy Rubio is happy kept the White House from Al Gore. On Meet The Press in 2004 Richard Clarke, who had served both Clinton 42 and Bush 43 as counter-terrorism chief, put it into perspective when he explained

We began looking with the CIA and Delta Force at options to snatch bin Laden in 1996, 1997, 1998, and they were unable do so.  And this is one of the things I talk about in the book, the need to strengthen our intelligence and military capability so that we can do things like that.

What else did Clinton do, however?  We had Iraqi-sponsored terrorism against the United States; he used military force, and they stopped.  We had Iranian-sponsored terrorism against the United States; he used covert action against them, and they stopped.  We had al-Qaeda attempts to blow up things in the United States during the millennium period, attempts to blow up embassies around the world, attempts to take over Bosnia during the jihad in Bosnia. And all of those attempts were thwarted.

Now, that doesn't mean that he did everything he should have done, but the president of the United States was active on these issues in the Clinton administration.  The president of the United States was not active on these issues prior to 9/11 in the Bush administration.

In Marco Rubio's imagination, Bill Clinton was responsible for Osama bin Laden being able to blow up the World Trade Center. And then, praise be to God (or as Islamists would put it, "praise be to Allah"), George W. Bush was around to invade Iraq to get back at terrorists, who were sheltered in Afghanistan and most of whom were ethnic Saudis.   Or as Clarke advised officials shortly after the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon, "invading Iraq after 9/11 is like invading Mexico after Pearl Harbor."

"It's not Trump, boys," Charlie Pierce observes of "a debate in which Donald J. Trump was on the side of empirical reality, so much the worse for empirical reality." Still, given the announcement only a few hours before the debate of the sudden death of a Supreme Court Justice: Marco Rubio could have remarked "I thank God all the time it was George W. Bush who was selected for the White House instead of Al Gore."

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On Immigration, Rubio Goes Down

Give it to Ted Cruz. However the Saturday night debate in Greenville, South Carolina affected his fortunes or those of Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, John Ellis Bush, John Kasich, or Ben Carson, he made known what he wished about illegal immigration.

"I studied nearly every word the Texas senator uttered during the immigration shutdown," Slate's William Saletan wrote last month." He may be the most spectacular liar ever to run for president," the point Ben Carson, Doanld Trump, and Marco Rubio are trying to make, though it's a trait which should aid him in the GOP primaries.

As Saletan demonstrated, we still don't know what Ted Cruz believes about legalization, Still, if "to the victor go the spoils," in a GOP primary, to the candidate who most often utters "amnesty" goes the victory (video below). Linking  your opponent to Democrats doesn't hurt, either.  "When Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer and establishment Republicans," Cruz maintained, "were leading the fight to pass a massive amnesty plan, "I stood with Jeff Sessions and Steve King and the American people and led the fight to defeat that amnesty plan."

He hit the Republican sweet spot when he asserted

The Rubio-Schumer amnesty plan passed the Senate and it was on the verge of passing the House.

House leadership intended to take it up and pass it with the Democrats overruling most of the Republicans. And the question for anyone on illegal immigration is where were you in that fight? Where did you stand?

It's obvious, though, where Kasich and Bush both stand, and it's for legalization and not citizenship. Kasich explained

I'm for a guest worker program. People can come in, work, and go back home. We haven't closed the border because special interests, I believe, blocked it. Then, we have 11 and a half million people here. If they have not committed a crime since they've been here, make them pay a fine, and some back taxes, and give them a path to legalization, never to citizenship.

Bush added that he favors "controlling the border, dealing with the visa over-stayers, making sure that we have a path to legal status, not to citizenship, for those that come out from the shadows and pay a fine, learn English, don't commit crimes, work and pay taxes."

For Kasich and Bush, if immigrants are model, law-abiding citizens, speaking English, working, and paying their taxes, they get the right not to be deported. Not to be citizens, of course, and expecially not to vote.  They can't be Americans but they have earned the right to be paid sub-standard wages to serve the rich and powerful.  Great guys, those "moderates"!

By contrast, Rubio Marco Rubio advocated being "reasonable, but responsible" about an individual "who can pass a background check, who pays a fine and starts paying taxes and all they want is a work permit. But you can't do any of that until you prove to people that illegal immigration is under control once and for all."

Too many Republicans hear that as "amnesty," though even if it means citizenship (which most Democrats want), it is not amnesty which, as Rubio noted, means "the forgiveness of wrongdoing without consequence."

Facts being optional in a GOP contest, the candidate who most often mentions amnesty (as Cruz did twice) gains the political high ground..  If Ted Cruz doesn't promptly run a commercial using Marco Rubio's words in Saturday's debate to imply the latter favors "amnesty" for "illegals," it will constitute campaign malpractice.

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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Disregarding Fair Trade

Co-moderators Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff of PBS did not mention trade during the Democratic debate Thursday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Neither did Mrs. Clinton. Fortunately, American workers were not forgotten by Clinton's opponent, who remarked

And here's what the economic issue is.

The wages that high school graduates receive today are significantly less, whether you are white or black, than they used to be. Why is that? Because of a series of disastrous trade policies which have allowed corporate America through NAFTA and Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China, Secretary Clinton and I disagree on those issues.

But (sic) view is those trade policies have enabled corporate America to shut down in this country, throw millions of people out on the street. Now no one thinks that working in the factory is the greatest job in the world. But you know what, you can make a middle class wage, you have decent health care, decent benefits.

Later, Sanders would slam Henry Kissinger, in part because he "pushed various type (sic) of trade agreements, resulting in American workers losing their jobs as corporations moved to China."

In this instance, like husband, like wife, for HRC is married to the guy who as President signed the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act while claiming "NAFTA means jobs. American jobs, and good-paying American jobs. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't support this agreement."

That statement would make Bill Clinton either ignorant, naive, or a liar. In December, 2013 the Economic Policy Institute explained the NAFTA "caused the loss of some 700,000 jobs as production moved to Mexico." Further, once it became law, some corporate managers threatened to move their companies to Mexico while others used that threat to fight union organizing efforts.  And besides harming Mexican agriculture and business, NAFTA "was a major cause in the dramatic increase in undocumented workers flowing into the U.S. labor market," leading to lower wages.

Mrs. Clinton wants to ignore the impact of "free trade" upon American workers, to the point of avoiding the issue altogether. Unfortunately, 1400 workers at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis have been swept up in the destructive impact of the trade policies the USA adopted decades ago, as indicated by this video::

Hillary Clinton evidently supports Barack Obama unquestioningly not only for strategic, but also for ideological, reasons. In late 2007 Senator Obama commented (at 1:10 of video below)

There is no dubt that NAFTA needs to be amended and I've actuallly said that I would contact the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada to make sure that the labor and the environmental agreements are actually enforceable.... And it is absolutely ture that NAFTA was a mistake.

As President Obama continues to back the extraordinarily dangerous Trans-Pacific Partnership, it is clear that believing Senator Obama was the mistake. Given the unpopularity of  "free trade," Mrs. Clinton's willlingness to acknowledge such errors as supporting the Iraq War and the 1994 crime act signed by her hustand, and the threat posed to her by the populist Sanders, it is telling that she refuses to recognize the harm that trade policies pursued by Republican and Democratic presidents alike have done to American workers.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Mrs. Clinton Prefers Wisconsin Cheddar With Her Whine

Given Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate was held in Wisconsin, it is ironic that it was U.S. Senator Carl Schurz from Wisconsin who in 1872 declared "My country, right or wrong.” In one sense I say so too. My country; and my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right."

Today's Politico headline reads "Democrats Debate: Who Loves Hillary More?'  Both candidates were sending their love when as the event was nearing a close, this exchange took place:

CLINTON: But I want to -- I want to follow up on something having to do with leadership, because, you know, today Senator Sanders said that President Obama failed the presidential leadership test. And this is not the first time that he has criticized President Obama. In the past he has called him weak. He has called him a disappointment.

He wrote a forward for a book that basically argued voters should have buyers' remorse when it comes to President Obama's leadership and legacy.

And I just couldn't agree -- disagree more with those kinds of comments. You know, from my perspective, maybe because I understand what President Obama inherited, not only the worst financial crisis but the antipathy of the Republicans in Congress, I don't think he gets the credit he deserves for being a president...


CLINTON: ... who got us out of that...


CLINTON: ... put us on firm ground, and has sent us into the future. And it is a -- the kind of criticism that we've heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans. I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama.

SANDERS: That is...


SANDERS: Madam Secretary, that is a low blow. I have worked with President Obama for the last seven years. When President Obama came into office we were losing 800,000 jobs a month, 800,000 jobs a month. We had a $1.4 trillion deficit. And the world's financial system is on the verge of collapse.

As a result of his efforts and the efforts of Joe Biden against unprecedented, I was there in the Senate, unprecedented Republican obstructionism, we have made enormous progress.


Senator Sanders then made what in the Democratic race is a truly bold statement- though one the wise Senator Schurz would have understood- when he remarked

But you know what? Last I heard we lived in a democratic society. Last I heard, a United States senator had the right to disagree with the president, including a president who has done such an extraordinary job.

So I have voiced criticisms. You're right. Maybe you haven't. I have.

Heresy! Bernie Sanders, right in front of a live audience ( I hate those dead audiences) and viewers from coast-to-coast, shocked Democrats when he maintained a United States senator has the right to disagree with the President   And President Obama has been a disappointment to liberals/progressives, except to those who haven't been paying attention.

It is the kind of criticism that we've heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans,  Mrs. Clinton claimed. Yes, because it's exactly like

This president is undermining the constitutional basis of this government. This president is undermining our military. He is undermining our standing in the world....The damage he has done to America is extraordinary. Let me tell you, if we don't get this election right, there may be no turning back for America.

That did not come from Donald Trump but from one of the "moderates," one of the establishment candidates. While Bernie Sanders remains focused as a laser on issues, the former Secretary of State complains about "personal assessments and charge."  The Vermont Senator has offended Clintonites with his condemnation of the President but has said "I think he (Obama) has done an excellent job" and on Thursday night referring to "such an extraordinary job."If Hillary Clinton believes that sounds like the criticism that would be leveled at her in the fall by a Republican opponent, she is not ready for prime time.

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Literally big, a former New York Giants offensive tackle is coming up big figuratively : So theres an active shooter and trump tells h...