Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Good Start; Or At Least, A Start

Ask RoseAnn DeMoro, head of National Nurses United, which actively supported Bernie Sanders, about the draft Democratic Party Platform, and she will describe it as a failure.   "It's a shame," she tweeted, "to see the Democrats betray their values and vote against policies that help Americans." She lists rejected policy proposals, including for a $15 minimum wage, ;pension protection, a carbon tax, fracking single-payer health care, Syria.

The host committee for the Democratic National Convention has put out a summary of the draft. As expected, it put the most positive spin on the product, writing, for example

Acknowledging that the current minimum wage is a starvation wage, the platform draft already included language declaring that Americans should earn at least $15 an hour, that the minimum wage should be raised and indexed, and that all workers have the right to form and join a union.  It also includes a call to end sub-minimum wage for tipped workers and people with disabilities.

You would hardly guess, let alone know, that the proposal by Sanders' representatives for a $15/hour federal minimum wage was defeated.

The draft does, however, call for an end to capital punishment, which the federal government cannot order the states to effect. Currently, there are 62 individuals on death row in federal prisons, most of whom, it is likely, actually murdered  at least one individual with premeditation. The last person executed by the federal government met his demise in 2003 and there were 28 executions in the entire nation last year. Count me impressed by this world-changing recommendation.

Nonetheless, there seems to have been significant progress on criminal justice, while the process moves to Orlando and ultimately to the convention in Philadelphia. The Platform Drafting Committee recommended

ending the era of mass incarceration, shutting down private prisons, ending racial profiling, reforming the grand jury process, investing in re-entry programs, banning the box to help give people a second chance and prioritizing treatment over incarceration for individuals suffering addiction.

"Ending the era of mass incarceration" and "ending racial profiling," as cliches, are necessarily vague, and there may be little the federal government can do to get sates to prioritize treatment over incarceration., especially in those states which now prefer incarceration.  However, "shutting down private prisons" is meaningful given both that many suspected immigration violators are housed by the federal government in private prisons and that curbing privatization of government functions should be a dominant issue for the Party.

Additionally, "reforming the grand jury process" might be an important reform, though here even more than in most cases, God is in the details.  The first step in incarcerating an individual begins with indicting him or her, as easy as indicting a ham sandwich or getting a grand jury to agree with the prosecutor when the other side is barred from presenting its case. The grand jury system has been remarkably underrated as a factor in mass incarceration.

Some planks, such as urging the end to the Hyde Amendment and reportedly rejecting all efforts to cut Social Security, are very significant, as is the failure to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Still, the status of the platform process may have been best explained by Sanders appointee Bill McKibben, who notes

No one wants Trump to win. But many of us look at the Brexit vote and see that unenthusiastic centrism has a hard time beating zealous craziness. We need unions and working people and environmentalists fully engaged this time around, backing the Democrats with passion and energy. Above all we need young people, who voted for Bernie by a 7-to-1 proportion.

Which is why we need not platitudes but a platform. Not aspirations but commitments. Not happy talk, but the fully adult conversation that Sanders engaged the country in for the past year.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Blame Congress

"It's time to move on," Hillary Clinton says, because

I understand that after two years and $7 million spent by the Benghazi Committee out of taxpayer funds, it had to today report it had found nothing, nothing to contradict the conclusions of the Independent Accountability Board or the conclusions of the prior, multiple earlier investigations carried out on a bipartisan basis in the Congress.

As Clinton understands, in politics as in sports it's always preferable to play on your own turf. So she is is eager to move past Benghazi which, with the mistakes committed by the US government, is clearly not her turf.

But she shouldn't move on with "I'll leave it to others to characterize this report." The American people are in no mood, as Donald Trump has shown us, for a passive-aggressive response to political issues or government scandals.  Mrs. Clinton's response should be more on the lines of "these are the games Washington plays" or "typical behavior by Congresss, wasting $7 million of taxpayers' money."

Admittedly, more problematic would be linking the attack on the American compound in Libya to terrorist attacks committed upon similar facilities under other presidents. Investigating a claim by a Democratic congressman 26 months ago, Politifact found that there were during the Bush Administration separate 20 attacks on U.S. embassies or embassy personnel resulting in at least one death. The total number of fatalites was 97, though at embassies and consulates proper, the number was 31 fewer.

Of the 97, 63 were either of non-Americans or of unknown nationality, three were U.S. citizens, and 21 "were workers at the US  embassy or consulate, either of American or foreign nationality."

But more relevant to Clinton's failure to link Benghazi accusations to today's venomous partisanship in Congress is Reagan-era Lebanon. Jane Mayer has recalled that in April 1983

militants had bombed the U.S. embassy in Beirut, too, killing sixty-three more people, including seventeen Americans. Among the dead were seven C.I.A. officers, including the agency’s top analyst in the Middle East, an immensely valuable intelligence asset, and the Beirut station chief.

Six months later

a suicide bomber drove a truck laden with the equivalent of twenty-oone thousand pounds of TNT into the heart of a U.S. Marine compound, killing two hundred and forty-one servicemen..... thirteen more American servicemen later died from injuries, making it the single deadliest attack on American Marines since the Battle of Iwo Jima.

In a stunning contrast to its reaction to Benghazi, Congress then conducted one investigation and issued a bipartisan report in January 1984 which, Mayer writes, "called for better security measures against terrorism in U.S. government installations throughout the world."   Nonetheless

three months after Congress issued its report, militants struck American officials in Beirut again, this time kidnapping the C.I.A.’s station chief, Bill Buckley. Buckley was tortured and, eventually, murdered. Reagan, who was tormented by a tape of Buckley being tortured, blamed himself. Congress held no public hearings, and pointed fingers at the perpetrators, not at political rivals.

Remarkably, on September 20, 1984

for the third time in eighteen months, jihadists bombed a U.S. government outpost in Beirut yet again. President Reagan acknowledged that the new security precautions that had been advocated by Congress hadn’t yet been implemented at the U.S. embassy annex that had been hit. The problem, the President admitted, was that the repairs hadn’t quite been completed on time. As he put it, “Anyone who’s ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would.” Imagine how Congressman Issa and Fox News would react to a similar explanation from President Obama today.

Reviewing this history, Steve M. notes that on September 21  President Reagan "made three campaign appearances in Iowa," in which he led Democrat Walter Mondale by approximately 23 points.

After 272 Americans were killed in four attacks against U.S. assets, three of which targeted embassy personnel, in the 19 months preceeding the election in 1984,  Ronald Reagan was rewarded with 525 electoral votes after defeating Mondale by 18%.

History, it is said, is written by the victors and in this case, Steve M. recognizes, "by the propaganda victors" as Hillary  Clinton is "demonized by a party that regards Ronald Reagan as a god among men." However, Mrs. Clinton doesn't have to condemn the saintly Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6)). She can instead denounce Congress, which, voters understand, no longer works for  the American people and simply plays partisan games while getting in the way of the people's interest.

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Good News From The Nation's Capital

The US Supreme Court has issued its decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, with the five-vote majority ruling Texas' TRAP law

placed unconstitutional burdens on women seeking abortion. It marks the first time the court has imposed limits on state abortion restrictions in more than 15 years and pushes back against a wave of restrictive state laws enacted in recent years.

"We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court. "Each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access and each violates the federal Constitution.”

Responses from critics of the decision were predictably disingenuous. Texas governor Greg Abbot contended "the decision erodes states' lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost."   However, Amanda Marcotte notes

These regulations included things like requiring abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges, even though most hospitals only give these to clinics that actually admit patients, something abortion clinics don’t do, because abortion is incredibly safe. The law also requires abortion clinics to have a full surgical suite, on par with what a hospital would need. This is particularly ludicrous as abortion is either done with a pill or with a short procedure that involves no cutting and can’t really be understood as surgery.

In her concurring opinion, Justice Ginsburg recognized "Many medical procedures, including childbirth, are far more dangerous to patients, yet are not subject to ambulatory surgical-center or hospital admitting-privileges requirements."

Vice President of Legal Affairs of Americans United for Life Denise Burke claimed

Today's abortion clinics are the true 'back alleys' of abortion mythology. They consistently operate in the 'red light district' of American mediciane where the problem of substandard abortion providers is longstanding and pervasive. The fight against this public health crisis will continue, despite today's ruling.

The charge that abortion is lethal for women was challenged by one activist almost two years to the day when she explained

If we were to argue, for instance, that abortion should be banned at, say, 20 weeks because late abortions are dangerous to the mother’s health, let’s look at the fact of abortion. You know that a mother’s risk of death by abortion after a particular time—in this instance let’s say 20 weeks pregnant—the risk to the mother’s life rises to .09 [for] every 1,000 abortions. But let’s compare the other risks of a woman’s health. We know, for instance, that if she was to get liposuction that there’s .19 deaths for every 1,000 procedures. If you look for facelifts, it’s .2 per 1,000 procedures. For C-sections, 1.98 per 1,000, versus vaginal deliveries, which are .63 per 1,000

That was Mary Spaulding Baulch (photo from C-Span via Rewire), state legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee at the organization's convention in July, 2014. (The NRLC focuses on what it believes is the life of the baby.)

It would be too much to ask for the anti-choice movement to propose elimination of childbirth as a safety measure for women.  But when forced-birth advocates prohibiting liposuction and facelifts, I'll be impressed with their sincerity.

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

At Least The Scots Aren't Delusional

When Donald Trump returned from Scotland after speaking at his failure of a golf course, Steve M. concluded

Over and over and over again. I'm sorry, but that's all some voters want to hear. They don't want to hear a well-informed candidate make anunemotional statement of concern combined with reassurance. They think people who make statments like that in situations like this are the people who've ruined everything in the world.

I'm not saying that the people who responded well to Trump are a majority of American voters. I'm just saying that if you like the sort of thing Trump regularly does, then you probably liked what he did yesterday. If not, not. 

And if you're like a lot of American voters, you don't care much about what happens in Europe, which may give them half a leg up on Americans who knew nothing of the European Union. It has been that way quite a few years now since "freedom fries" were such a sensation and distaste for Europe became all the rage.

Trump's visit to Scotland and his remarks there will have no impact. That's a shame, of course., and not only because he neatly encapsulated his priorities when he declared "When the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry."

We can be thankful, though, that Trump had tweeted "Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!"  That gave rise to some interesting retorts, the best of which was from Barstool Sports:

Slight problem with that: Scotland voted to remain. They voted to remain rather overwhelmingly, with 63% voting to stay in the EU and 36% voting to leave. Saying that country is going wild over taking their country back is like saying America went wild after electing Mitt Romney in 2012. That’s not what the country voted to do.

The conclusion "But, things like facts have never stopped Trump from firing off a tweet or delivering a statement" may summarize the candidate as well as anything has.  To a question about the possibility of Scotland separating from the United Kingdom, the candidate responded in part

People want to take their country back. They want to have independence, in a sense, and you see it with Europe, all over Europe. You're going to have more than just — in my opinion, more than what happened last night, you're going to have, I think many other cases where they want to take their borders back. They want to take their monetary back.

To take their monetary back?   Trump was referring to the monetary policy- assuming he event meant policy- of a nation which has its own currency, given that the British never gave up the pound sterling for the euro and thus retained its own monetary policy. Presumably, Trump merely got all caught up in his excitement over borders and excluding immigrants and refugees. Presumably.

The British exit may not in and of itself prove disastrous. However, there already are secessionist rumblings from the French and the Dutch, motivated by their own far-right politicians. Were a couple of more countries to exit, the European idea of unity and tolerance across borders probably would be on its death bed, not unlike the American ideal of tolerance and acceptance if you-know-who is elected.

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Saturday, June 25, 2016


The media, mainstream and alternative, serious and comedic, have stressed the previous couple of days the parallel between British rejection of the European Union and Donald Tump's support in the USA.  Withdrawal of the UK from the EU is likely to have a dangerous impact internationally, as would election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the USA.

Additionally, as Brian Fung reports for The Washington Post

"Even though I voted to leave, this morning I woke up and I just — the reality did actually hit me," one woman told the news channel ITV News. "If I'd had the opportunity to vote again, it would be to stay."

That confusion over what Brexit might mean for the country's economy appears to have been reflected across the United Kingdom on Thursday. 

The UK's Independent learned

Electoral services workers have reported calls from people asking if they could change their decision after Friday’s result became clear, while some publicly admitted they intended to use a “protest vote” in the belief the UK was certain to remain in the European Union.

The anxiety – dubbed “Bregret” – emerged as the value of the pound tumbled and markets crashed, while somefelt betrayed by Nigel Farage’s admission that a Vote Leave poster pledging to spend millions of pounds supposedly given to the EU on the NHS was a “mistake”.

There seems to be a huge amount of buyer's remorse in Great Britain.  The Independent added

Mandy Suthi, a student who voted to leave, told ITV News she would tick the Remain box if she had a second chance and said her parents and siblings also regretted their choice.

“I would go back to the polling station and vote to stay, simply because this morning the reality is kicking in,” she said.

The impulse to vote in protest is a threat to Hillary Clinton. A significant number of Americans may vote for Donald Trump to register their anger against immigration, stagnating wages, trade pacts, the general darkenization of society and related "political correctness," or the standard boogeyman, "Washington."  

Keith O'Brien visited Cambria County, an area in southwestern Pennsylvania hard hit by decline of the coal and steel industries.  In this region of a key swing state, he found strong pro-Trump sentiment among voters from traditionally Democratic families, many of whom, through good times and bad, have voted for Democratic presidential nominees as well as Democrats down-ballot.

O'Brien interviewed former longtime union leader Terry Havener, whom he believes reflects the views of quite a few other people, and who "in the end" will "probably vote for Hillary." Havener remarks of the prospect of a Trump presidency

"It would be devastating for the country, as far as I'm concerned," he said. "There's a little piece of me," he said, "that wants to see Trump win. So I can say, 'There you go- you got what you want now."

If voters view the election as a chance to send a message rather than to elect the next leader of the Free World, the next President may hold his news conferences in Trump Tower. However, after the British voted, Fung noted

Google reported sharp upticks in searches not only related to the ballot measure but also about basic questions concerning the implications of the vote. At about 1 a.m. Eastern time, about eight hours after the polls closed, Google reported that searches for "what happens if we leave the EU" had more than tripled.

Americans already have a reasonable body of knowledge about the presumptive GOP nominee, more information that British voters had about the implications of departure from the European Union.   In the unlikely event voters in November choose to ignore the consequences, they will find themselves in the same position as many British votes do today as their reality starts to set in.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

His Eye On Profit

In May The Guardian reported

Trump explicitly linked continued British membership to concerns about “migration”. He said: “I think the migration has been a horrible thing for Europe. A lot of that was pushed by the EU.” Trump added: “I would say that they’re better off without it, personally, but I’m not making that as a recommendation. Just my feeling.”

Then on Tuesday, two days before Britons "leapt at a chance to vote against the monsters in their heads (and) may have tanked their economy in the process,"  the Trump campaign, in the person of spokesperson Katrina Pierson, reiterated its support for Great Britain's exit from the European Union.

Something different than ignorance about global economics or the (overwrought) parallel between Trump's xenophobic and anti-establishment campaign and Brexit may have been at work. The New York Times Tuesday revealed

According to documents submitted to the Federal Election Commission, Mr. Trump, whose campaign has just $1.3 million cash on hand, paid at least $1.1 million to his businesses and family members in May for expenses associated with events and travel costs. The total represents nearly a fifth of the $6 million that his campaign spent in the month.

The spending raised eyebrows among campaign finance experts and some of Mr. Trump’s critics who have questioned whether the presumptive Republican nominee, who points to his business acumen as a case for his candidacy, is trying to do what he has suggested he would in 2000 when he mulled making an independent run: “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”

The National Review's Ian Tuttle credited the Daily Beast for the "partial list" of the businessess profiting:

Trump Plaza, Trump SoHo, Trump CafĂ©, Trump Grill, Epic Trump Wine Manufacturing, Trump Restaurants, Trump National Golf Club, Trump International Golf Club, Trump International Hotel, Trump Ice. And, on top of all of this, it appears that Trump may be taking a salary. There’s obviously an element of incompetence here, the exigencies of national campaigning being just one of the panoply of things about which Trump is utterly and proudly ignorant. 

There’s also an element of sloth. Fundraising is the drudgework of political life, and Trump hates drudgery. But there’s also the specter of unseemliness — which hangs around Donald Trump with unusual persistence. There is the Trump Network (his maybe-a-pyramid-scheme vitamin operation) and the American Communications Network (the maybe-a-pyramid-scheme tech company he promoted) and Trump University. It was just last month that Trump was facing questions about $6 million supposedly raised for various veterans’ organizations.

And so it was that the British voted to leave the European Union and Donald Trump said nothing to alleviate concerns that his campaign is primarily a money-making scheme.  NPR:

At a press conference from the 9th tee of the golf course, a lighthouse along the rocky coast in the southwest of Scotland in the distance, Trump seemed unconcerned about the precipitous, overnight drop in the British pound. the pound fell to a 30-year low following the vote, but Trump said it could be a good thing — at least for businesses like his.

"Look if the pound goes down, they're gonna do more business," Trump said. "You know, when the pound goes down, more people are gonna come to Turnberry, frankly, and the pound has gone down, and let's see what the impact of that is."

"And maybe today," Nicolle Wallace observes in remarks in remarks beginning at approximately 6:27 of the video below, "his job is to sell those two most beautiful suites and to get them booked."

Trump, whose slogan "Make America Great Again" betrays a belief that the USA is not great, probably does want to make America great, albeit primarily for whites and beautiful women. Regrettably, he believes America is synonymous with his portfolio.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Different Kind Of Christian Candidate

"Long confident but carefree, Politico's Elis Stokols writes, "Trump looked different Wednesday morning as he stood behind a lectern in his Soho hotel; he looked like a candidate serious about trying to win in November."

That might be. The Washington Post reports that at his evangelical summit in New York City on Tuesday

Donald Trump won a standing ovation from hundreds of Christian conservatives (who) see him as more of an ally than they do Clinton, and many are attracted to his nostalgic framework about taking America “back” to a better time. Some are hopeful that Trump, as a political neophyte, is open to their perspective.

Overall, there was a mixed reception for Trump at the meeting with evangelical leaders, though none of the Christians noted the irony of holding the event of followers of Christ at the monument to excess called Trump Tower.  Perhaps the most positive assessment was made by Gary Bauer, evangelical Christian, 2000 presidential candidate, and Cruz 2016 supporter, who argued "Who is it that they're holding up as this paragon, a man or woman without sin that they could have nominated for president?"

Let the record show: neither Bauer nor any evangelical leader ever said that of Bill Clinton- or practically any Democrat. Fundamentalist Christians can consider for endorsement only a Republican politician who is uniquely self-absorbed and whose life has exemplified licentiousness, greed, and self-aggrandizement.

Recall that this is the guy who once spoke of "two Corinthians," "my little wine" and "my little cracker" of communion," admitted he has never asked God for forgiveness, and announced "nothing beats the Bible." At the gathering, Trump addressed his claimed devotion to Christianity, maintaining "I owe so much to it in so many ways," thus becoming the first alleged believer to express gratitude and devotion not to Jesus or God the Father but to the religion itself.

"I am the way, the truth, and the life," committed believers will quote.   The cornerstone of their faith, they will assure you, is not Christianity, but Jesus Christ himself.  They "owe so much," they'll agree, not to religion but to the cornerstone they consider a deity.

Or so they say.  Though extremely politically conservative, as chairperson of the Home School Legal Defense Association and one who helped found the Moral Majority, Michael Farris found even the acceptance of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee at the gathering unacceptable. He recognizes

Today, a candidate whose worldview is greed and whose god is his appetites (Philippians 3) is being tacitly endorsed by this throng.

They are saying we are Republicans no matter what the candidate believes and no matter how vile and unrepentant his character.

They are not a phalanx of God's prophets confronting a wicked leader, this is a parade of elephants.

In 1980 I believed that Christians could dramatically influence politics. Today, we see politics fully influencing a thousand Christian leaders.

Nor were Farris' concerns assuaged upon viewing a photograph of the candidate with Jerry Falwell Jr. (a member of Trump's newly announced "evangelical executive board") and wife Becki Falwell. The background includes a framed picture of Playboy magazine with Donald Trump on the cover.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Great Pretender

The question which must be asked of Rush Limbaugh is one which has been begging to be asked for decades: Do you really think your audience is as stupid as you appear to believe?

On Tuesday, Limbaugh contended 

But now it's ISIS!  Now, why change?  Why do this?  I mean, climate change and the Democrat Party are inseparable.  And the Democrats are making it the number-one issue. There are reasons -- absurd, of course, 'cause there isn't any evidence that it's happening.  

Although its meterologists are loathe to emphasize it, The Weather Channel evidently would disagree because

May 2016 was the warmest May on record for the globe, making it the 13th consecutive warmest month on record.

NOAA's global State of the Climate report released Thursday found May's temperature over the Earth's surface was 0.87 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average. This beat out the previous record warm May set just last year by 0.02 degrees Celsius.

The 13-month streak, which dates back to May 2015, is the longest stretch of months in a row that a global temperature record has been set, according to NOAA's dataset which goes back to 1880.

NOAA reports "The May temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.57°F above the 20th century average of 58.6°F. This was the highest for May in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.04°F."

May 2016 (NASA temperature map, above via the U.K.'s Independent) was not the warmest month on record, merely the warmest month. Still, it was no anomaly given that it

tied with June 2015 and August 2015 as the 12th highest monthly temperature departure among all months (1,637) on record. Overall, 13 of the 15 highest monthly temperature departures in the record have all occurred since February 2015, with February 1998 and January 2007 among the 15 highest monthly temperature departures.

Rush doesn't understand- or pretends not to understand- distinguishing between climate and weather when he remarks

See, here we have this little heatwave out in the Southwest the past three or four days. "See?  See? It's never been hotter!" I'll bet you if you go look into historical temperatures, you'll find days at this time of year since records have been kept where temperatures were as high, maybe even higher, than what they've been.  

It was 117 degrees in Phoenix on Sunday and Monday and until July 7, the high temperature is expected to be below 110 degrees only on June 30.  Limbaugh won't tell his audience that because his argument is based on the idea that weather and climate are synonymous, that 117 degrees on June 19 in Arizona would mean the earth is warming and snow on January 15 in International Falls means it is cooling.

Surely he couldn't be that ignorant. But he informs his audience that young individuals, a tiny portion of his audience, are. He continues

But to young people who don't have that historical perspective, "Oh, my God, it's never been this hot! Oh, my God, climate change! Oh, my God, global warming! Oh, my God, we're frying! Oh, my God, we're broiling! Oh, my God, it's over! Oh, my God, the climate change people are right.

And they're not. 

That's clever use of the straw man tactic.  His audience has been trained to believe that weather is climate and that there is no warming. Hence, without specifying the abnormally high temperatures occurring- which would be of out-sized importance to the audience he consistently misleads- he ascribes lack of historical perspective to young people.  It would be a cheap shot were it accurate.

It's ironic because historical perspective would demonstrate that climate change is real, and extraordinary.   2016 is expected to be (by far) the warmest year on record, as 2015 was prior to that. And 2014 prior to that. Further

Of the hottest years on record, 15 out of 17 have come since 2000. By contrast, more than a century has gone by since the planet had a record cold year (1911). In addition, this marks 39 years in a row with above average global temperatures and 372 months in a row with global temperatures above average. 

That's all coincidence, as it is when Rush Limbaugh continues to deceive and cheat listeners who deserve far better.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

One-On-One Vital

There are three ways Hillary Clinton can be defeated by Donald Trump in November.

It was always assumed that a terrorist attack on America's shores would boost the Republican nominee. Surely it would have, if that nominee's name weren't "Trump," a clearly unsteady hand.   Democrats should shudder at the thought of the political benefit which would have accrued to a Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, even a Chris Christie with the terrorist attack in Orlando.   Though Trump squandered his recent opportunity with irresponsible rhetoric, it is likely that terrorist groups in the Mideast would welcome his election (video below) and act accordingly.

A searing report from the FBI about Secretary of State Clinton's private e-mail server also would be politically damaging and in the unlikely charges were recommended, perhaps fatally so.

There is a third, completely ignored, path to victory for Mr. Trump.   Politico reports that Clinton led Trump by five points in the most recent CNN/ORC poll but that her lead dipped to four points when Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Jill Stein were included.

That is not a huge drop, nor are the two likely to poll in total in November the 16 points they did in the latter survey.  Nonetheless, the inclusion of either or both (especially Stein, who would take mostly Clinton voters) in one or more presidential debates would be highly problematic for any candidate facing Donald J. Trump.

Out of the corner of his eye, Paul Krugman evinced a little of the truth about the GOP primary race when, assessing the difference between the two political parties,  he noted

.....the Democratic establishment in general is fairly robust. I’m not saying that its members are angels, which they aren’t. Some, no doubt, are personally corrupt. But the various groups making up the party’s coalition really care about and believe in their positions — they’re not just saying what the Koch brothers pay them to say.

If the GOP establishment really doesn't believe the Koch brothers but merely is responding favorably to them out of political necessity, it would explain a fair chunk of the inability to coalesce around an alternative to Trump, widely regarded as an apostate to the conservative, Republican cause. (He's beginning to get onboard now, partly by pleasing the RNC by firing Corey Lewandowski.)

Disregard all of the other explanations for Trump's conquest. He was the loudest mouth, the most glaring demagogue, the individual who most viscerally hated forces hated by conservatives, and he kept repeating "poltical correctness."    He stood out, literally and figuratively, against the others. In a two-way race against Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, even John Ellis Bush or the most loathsome human being in America, Donald Trump would have been defeated.   Response to Trump's personal insults was belated and half-hearted because a more robust defense or attack would have hurt both candidates. In a two-way race, that might have been strategically advantageous.

Tired of waiting for his one-on-one matchup with the real estate guy, Ted Cruz dropped out during his own concession speech after Indiana. John Kasich followed suit less than 24 hours later, smoothing the way to a Trump nomination. Now, with the presidency on the line, there is a chance either Stein or Johnson (more likely the latter) will muddy up any presidential debate there may be.   The time to send a message to Washington or the establishment has given way to making a serious choice between two individuals, one radical and incendiary, the other not.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Radical Islamic Terrorism

Radical Islamic terrorism, Radical Islamic terrorism, Radical Islamic terrorism.

As a great crooner of Polish and Lithuanian background put it decades ago: there, I've said it again.

Some Republicans are exorcised because President Obama refuses to use the term "Islamic terrorism." Unfortunately for them, they have a (presumed) nominee who takes it about 37 steps further when he claims

Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind—you know, people can’t believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.

There is nothing going on, he's tough enough to have beaten the Republican Party in two elections and withstood their single-minded obsession with destroying him, and he's very, very smart. Last Tuesday, the President responded to individuals criticizing him for avoiding the term when he argued

What exactly would using this label would accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to try to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?

The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.

It is largely- but not entirely- a political distraction. As Obama continued, he revealed his core reason for not using the phrase, stating "Since before I was president, I have been clear about how extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism."

No, he has made it clear he believes extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism.   There are individuals who know more about Islam than he and much more than I, who maintain that the fundamentalist beliefs of such terrorists are fundamental to the Muslim faith.  The large minorities, in some cases majorities, of Muslims in particular nations which hold to beliefs similar to those of classic Islamic terrorists contradict the President's assumption.

There is a benefit, albeit limited, to calling a spade a spade, an extremist an extremist, and a radical Islamist a radical Islamist.  The GOP, however, lacks the credibility to make this argument, one which insists that words and details have meaning.

In the wake of the Orlando attack, John McCain initially claimed "Barack Obama is directly responsible" for the atrocity. Senator McCain- a former GOP presidential nominee, member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and generally possessed of sobriety- soon clarified

I and others have long warned that the failure of the President’s policy to deny ISIL safe haven would allow the terrorist organization to inspire, plan, direct or conduct attacks on the United States and Europe as they have done in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino and now Orlando.

That was a clarification, one issued with the assumption that Omar Mateen had taken orders directly from the Islamic State in the Levant. John Podhoretz in The New York Post also reinforced the fear that ISIL was behind the attack when he wrote

An Islamist terrorist waging war against the United States killed and injured 103 people on our soil. We Americans do not bear collective responsibility for this attack. Quite the opposite.The attack on the Pulse nightclub was an attack on us all, no less than the World Trade Center attack. 

It can be done directly or by innuendo.   Any attack evidently committed by a Muslim must have originated with ISIL, even though the group itself has not taken credit, a significant omission from an organization dedicated to spreading terror.   The right has never acknowledged that the attack in San Bernardino, California was not organized and directed by ISIL. If, however, a terrorist attack is not committed by Muslims, it is, axiomatically, not a terrorist attack.

So: radical Islamic terrorism, radical Islamic terrrorism, radical Islamic terrorism.  Let's call it for what it is, and then let's label as a suspected terrorist Robert Lewis Dear, who reportedly murdered several black parishioners at a Charleston, S.C. church, and the fanatically anti-abortion Dylan Roof of Colorado Spring infamy. Once conservatives look in the mirror, Barack Obama should start referring to "radical Islamic terrorism." Rest easy, Mr. President. It's not happening.

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Dangerous Attorney General

We all make silly little mistakes, and I understand that news organizations face fiscal problems and dilemmas. Still, it was a little unsettlint to read this morning in Politico (emphasis mine)

Lynch also said the Department of Justice will release portions of the Orlando shooter’s calls to 911 during the shooting. She said the gunman’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State will not be included in that release, but the transcripts will shed light on his motivations for carrying out the attack.

In a wave of appearances across the Sunday morning political talk shows, Lynch defended the FBI’s previous interactions with Orlando shooter Loretta Lynch and explained why a tip from a Florida gun shop owner that a person, who later turned out to be the shooter, had acted suspiciously inside the store did not yield a more thorough investigation.

This article, unedited, was still up on Politico's website as of 7:51 p.m. Eastern time Sunday. If the Attorney General (photo from Politico) truly was the Orlando shooter or any Orlando shooter, we have a big problem in the federal government.

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Using Each Other

Sometimes a pox on both their houses is in order. A Crooks and Liars contributor reports

Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz suggested on Sunday that CNN's Anderson Cooper had provided biased coverage of the recent Orlando nightclub massacre because he is a gay man like many of the victims.

"Do gay journalists feel a special anguish over the senseless slaughter of 49 mostly-gay Americans?" Kurtz asked on his Media Buzz program, noting that Cooper had "choked up" while reading the names of the victims and had "grilled" Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi over her record of opposing rights for LGBT people.

Presumably, gay journalists such as Cooper do feel a special anguish over the senseless slaughter of 49 mostly-gay Americans. The trick is to act as a professional journalist, even relentless inquisitor, while maintaining objectivity. Kurtz continued

"I respect Anderson Cooper and I think he's generally fair," Kurtz told Fox News contributor Guy Benson. "Do you think he was acting as more than just an aggressive journalist?"

"He seemed like an activist," Benson agreed. "Of course, I only watch Fox all the time. But I've heard that he's very good at his job, he's a versatile journalist [but] in this circumstance, I thought the line of questioning for the attorney general of Florida, under the circumstance and given the context of what had just happened in that state, it was a bizarre non sequitur."

"It seemed like he was browbeating her for unrelated political thought crimes in her past," Benson added, "which did not relate to the to the task at hand, which is roundly condemning the horrific atrocity that happened."

It is not completely clear what Benson, who identifies himself in the video above as gay, meant by "unrelated political thought crimes in her past," but it unfortunately appears that he was referring to the confrontation over same-sex marriage.  That's ironic because  inquiring, even "grilling," Attorney General Bondi over the effort of her office to stymie same-sex marriage was appropriate, even professional, unlike the other topic Cooper raised.  Same-sex marriage has been a big and controversial issue (too big in my opinion, but nonetheless....) and Bondi was on the side contrary to the interests of gay people.

But then Cooper went off the rails (transcript from Media Matters):

COOPER: It's just that -- I will say I have never really seen you talk about gays and lesbians and transgender people in a positive way until now. I read your Twitter history for the last year, and I saw you tweeting about, you know, national dog month and national shelter dog appreciation day or adopt a shelter dog month. It is gay pride month. You’ve never even tweeted about gay pride month.

Cooper must be aware that an Attorney General would tweet about the likes of national dog month, national shelter dog apreciation day, and adopt a shelter dog month precisely because they are not controversial.  Even cat lovers will understand that a public official has to give a plug to dogs; there appears to be even a National Hug Your Cat Day, which is a little hard to believe.

Gay Pride Month is on a different order, and not only because it celebrates sexuality and a status conveyed by nature (not nurture), which is an accident of birth, not unlike heterosexuality.  It gets worse, however, as the interview unfortunately proceeds as

BONDI: Well actually if you look at my website now, we have hands clasped together, all different colored rainbow hands, people.

COOPER: So you just put that up now.

BONDI: Yeah I did, after this horrible tragedy, absolutely. The only thing I'm championing are human beings whose lives were lost to terror.

COOPER: So that’s your message to gay and lesbian people here. Because again, I'm telling you what people have been telling me to ask you, moving forward, do you see yourself as being a vocal champion for gay and lesbian citizens in this state?

Different colored rainbow hands clasped together is a little hard to take, especially when it appears only in the wake of a horrid tragedy and crime.  However, a state Attorney General is expected to enforce the law and the state constitution, not to "champion" people on the basis of their sexual preference.

Additionally, Cooper's preference that she be a "vocal champion" suggests that he is really little different than Bondi in one important sense.  "Today," Bondi stated, "you know what today is about? Human beings. Today's about victims."

Two days later, Bondi would complain to Fox News "to incite anger and hatred was not the time nor the place in front of a hospital." The Attorney General, as politicians are wont to do, wanted to use the interviewer as a pawn in a public relations effort. Cooper himself wants her to pursue a public relations offensive. He just doesn't want to be a part in her effort.

He wants the Attorney General to put on a public relations offensive- only for gay individuals, not her preference.  "The two parties," Politifact observes, " as we see it, are essentially talking past each other."   They have two different agendas which they were pursuing, one person for the state and herself, the other for journalism and a cause.

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Unsealed Borders

"Is it a good day for dinosaur news? It's always a good day for dinosaur news!" exclaims Charlie Peters every week or two.

Is it a good day to hear John Oliver? It's always a good day to hear John Oliver! And that's even when he's only about 80 percent right, as he was when he took on Donald Trump's Mexican wall. That was in April but a little attention turned this past week to immigration following the murder at a gay nightclub in Orlando of 50 individuals by a resident of Port St. Lucie, Florida.

It turns out the wall is not the "infinitely bad idea" Matt Miller termed it when he reported favorably on Oliver's essay. Its cost, at least, is finite, however exorbitant.

Trump, as we all know, claims that Mexico would pay for the "beautiful" wall, which would have to be roughly 1,300 miles. The government of Mexico would be extremely resistant and if it ever did agree, what it would extract in concessions from the USA would be extraordinary, even unprecedented, and clearly prohibitive.

Oliver states that Trump has deduced it would be anywhere from 35 feet to 100 feet high and found a construction economist who evaluated its likely cost at the low end of 35 feet over 1,000 miles.  It would include approximately

- $10 billion for the concrete p;anels and $5-6 billion for steel columns to hold the panels, including labor

- $1 billion for the concrete footinf for the columns and a concrete foundation

- $2 billion for a road to enable 20-ton trucks to deliver the materials

- "another 30 percent" for engineering, design, management, and the like

- maintenance costs which within seven years would exceed initial construction costs (according to      the Congressional Budget office)

That's a lot of money- even more than Donald Trump claims he himself is worth- and Oliver remarked "so it's a big, dumb thing that only gets more expensive over time."

It's huge, gets far more expensive over time, and would deserve to be considered dumb, if only we could be confident its most vociferous critics understood that the objective of establishing a somewhat secure border were worthwhile.

But we cannot be.  We see in the video below a Paul Bebar claiming Border Patrol believes "if you build a 30-foot wall, all it's going to do is create a market for a 31-foot ladder."

Say it ain't so. I fear for the Border Patrol if the agency actually believes there will be ever be an unregulated market market for a 31-foot ladder, used only by smugglers of people and drugs, And if it were commonly used, I'd like to see the unathletic, pregnant woman (or man, minus the pregnancy) climbing that ladder and shimmying down to the other, USA, side with a rope.  That would be worth the price of admission.

That scenario is unlikely, at least on a large scale, but a wall would forever remind us of Red China's Great Wall or Communist East Germany's Berlin Wall.

There is, however, an alternative.  Consider that even with municipal, county, or state law enforcement patrolling our streets and highways, speeding and other motor vehicle violations occur on a regular basis. We do not halt police activity because some motorists have devised one way or another to avoid detection.

Enforcement of motor vehicle codes is not accomplished with a wall or anything similar, but with personnel,traversing our roadways. Upon probable cause, other members of law enforcement occasionally conduct raids.

The analogy is simple. We could sink northward of 40 billion dollars into walling ourselves off from our southern neighbor, with all the ugly symbolism.  Or we could invest in increased personnel patrolling our southern (and, as needed, northern) border and raiding workplaces which authorities have reason to believe harbor a large number of illegal immigrants, with serious consequences for employee and employer ensuing.  There is a way to stem and discourage illegal immigration without a wall.

Donald Trump has practically told us he would not build a wall. Mexico would not pay for it, leaving a President Trump an excuse to do nothing. There will not be a sufficient expansion of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or of the U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement because Democrats are not keen on enforcement and Republicans not willing to expand the size of the federal government. (Weapons of war are manufactured by the private sector.)

Human capital is, alas, so 1970s. Expect continued immigration, legal and illegal, lots of rhetoric and hand-wringing, and little done.

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Friday, June 17, 2016


This is not about the fraud that is Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Nor is it about the fraud which is Florida Governor Rick Scott, nor the fraud answering to the name of Senator Marco Rubio. (Florida is a huge state, and they evidently grow con artists like they do citrus fruit.)

On Tuesday, 2-3 days after the mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub, Anderson Cooper interviewed Attorney General Bondi and suggested the latter's rhetoric reflected a "sick irony" in view of her office's tireless effort to defend Florida's anti-gay marriage amendment.  As Think Progress' Josh Israel summarized (and Cooper explained Wednesday, below), Bondi was not amused, and on Wednesday and on Thursday criticized the anchorman's approach. On the latter occassion

She conceded that Cooper “did not know in advance” that she wanted to talk about scams, but objected to the fact that he “just flipped on me.” “There’s a time and place for everything. If he wants to ask me about doing my job, defending the constitution. But to incite anger and hatred — was not the time not the place in front of a hospital.”

There was no indication Cooper tried to incite anger and hatred but plenty of indication that Bondi expected him to play a role in her public relations offensive.  (Mercifully, Cooper did not ask about Florida's policy of denying civil rights protection to gay people.) She gave most of it away when she referred to "defending the constitution," one of the last refuges of a scoundrel, and of conservatives who ignore the constitution. Then she gave the rest away when she noted she had placed herself  "in front of a hospital." Good optics, if you can get it.

Bondi is a very important public official in an extremely important state but she has company in her preference for appearance.  After the catastrophe in Orlando, most Republicans are doing whatever they can to stymie any gun safety legislation which might curb the carnage of mass shootings  or more regular acts of street crime. In its place, they are putting on a show of concern. At least they're good at faking sincerity.

However, as with Cooper,  most Democrats are not buying into the charade.  Asked Monday morning about moments of silence in the House chamber, Representative Jim Hines, who represents a district near Sandy Hook Elementary School, told Slate's Ruth Graham

We’ve done a half-dozen of these already this year. As I told someone else yesterday, we should be shouting the names of the people who are killed in preventable violence, not standing there in some mock and tepid ritual of sanctity—this smug “We care” statement in the face of gross negligence. I’m not going to be part of it anymore.

It turned out he wasn't kidding because

After Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) led the House in the moment of silence in honor of the 49 people who died in the massacre on Sunday, the chamber erupted into shouting as Democrats expressed frustration over the lack of votes to restrict guns after repeated mass shootings.

"Where's the bill?" Democrats chanted. 

"Show some respect!" other Democrats shouted.

Some lawmakers walked out of the House chamber before the moment of silence began in protest, including Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.). Earlier in the day, Himes declared he would not participate in any more moments of silence as a form of protest over the lack of legislative responses to mass shootings.

"The fact is that a moment of silence is an act of respect, and we supported that. But it is a not a license to do nothing," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters off the House floor afterward.

"Members have just had enough of having one minute, a moment of silence on the floor, and then take no action," she said.

At times like these, politicians and celebrities often tweet their "thoughts and prayers," Graham pointed out. Himes responded "'Thoughts and prayer'” are three words that cost you nothing. I’m sick of it. Show some courage. There’s an array of pathetic arguments with the ideologues you hear, that we can’t ever end gun violence."

He's asking a lot.  Donald Trump got clobbered by his own party (and Democrats, for a different reason) when he admitted that if abortion were illegal, the woman as well as the doctor would have to be penalized. Republicans pounced because "prosecute the abortionist" are, also, three words which cost nothing.  Republicans show no courage on that. They show no courage on gun violence. As Pam Bondi understands, it's easier to preen and pose.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ryan: He May Be A Racist, But He's My Racist

It is only a difference in policy when House Speaker Paul Ryan says at a press conference "I do not think a Muslim ban is in our country's interest. I do not think it is reflective of our principles, not just as a party, but as a country. And I think the smarter way to go in all respects is to have a security test, not a religious test."

There already is a security test. Syrian refugees undergo a screening review, usually lasting 18-24 months, more extensive than for individuals from any other country. But Paul Ryan never has been one to let facts get in the way of right-wing messaging.

Earlier this month, after Donald Trump contended he wouldn't get a fair shake in the Trump University case from Gonzalo Curiel, a native of Indiana, USA, because the Judge is "Mexican," Ryan maintained "I disavow these comments. Claiming a person can’t do the job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It’s absolutely unacceptable." Later in an interview, Ryan added "Hopefully this is an inflection point. Hopefully a lesson will be learned here.”

Ryan refused to rescind the endorsement of Trump he had offered the week before.  That which was unacceptable became acceptable and the lesson learned is that Paul Ryan is a paper tiger.

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Thursday, Ryan remarked "I hope he improves the tone of the campaign. But I made my decision as the speaker of the House and a leader in our party, based upon the belief that I did not want to be a party toward ripping our party in half, and basically denying us the White House and harming us in securing our majority again."

As to his critics, the Wisconsin Republican

would just simply remind people that as the speaker of the House, I don't think it's ever been done before where the speaker has not supported the party's nominee who was selected by the voters, the Republican voters, to be the nominee ... didn't want to be a leader of guaranteeing that our party is disunified in the fall.

Of course not. But this also has never "been done": a Speaker of the House accuses a presidential candidate of making a racist statement, asks him in vain to disavow the statement, then reiterates his support for the candidate.

The trite line is "you are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts." Paul Ryan is entitled to claim that he himself is not a racist or that he is not a hypocrite. He cannot, however, claim both.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Change Unlikely And Almost Irrelevant

Much ado about nothing.

Kyle Cheney of Politico utilized 26 paragraphs and 144 lines (go ahead and count; I dare you) to suggest that the Republican Party may be, just may be, on the verge of moderating its view on same-sex marriage.   As the saying, modified, goes: that's ten minutes of my life I'll never get back (except as fodder for a blog post).

The hope of some Republicans to alter their platform so as not to include an explicit rejection of same-sex marriage is buoyed by the impending nomination of a candidate who has never specifically advocated a constitutional amendment to define marriage as limited to one man and one woman.( It is also likely- though unstated- that many Republicans cannot imagine an irreligious libertine opposing same-sex marriage, or any relationship that includes sex.)  Still, the primary reason to believe there is any chance in moderating the Party's stance is that

The American Unity Fund has largely spearheaded the organization to remove language in the party’s platform that condemns same-sex marriage. The group, funded by billionaire GOP financiers like Paul Singer, Dan Loeb, Seth Klarman and Cliff Asness, has been pushing for a middle-ground approach – striking the anti-LGBT language in the party’s platform and replacing it with an acknowledgment of the widely varying opinions on the issue.

“I think Donald Trump has his finger on the pulse of the Republican Party. I think he is reflecting the sentiment that people have about LGBT issues, and in reflecting that he’s showing that it’s time to move on,” said Tyler Deaton, a senior advisor to the effort. “He’s said that in many different ways. He says that in a style that only Trump can do it.”

The gay rights community isn't buying it.  Another Politico reporter writes

Trump is “no friend of the LGBTQ community,” Jay Brown, a spokesperson for Human Rights Campaign, said Monday. “Donald Trump has vowed to roll back marriage equality, pass Kim Davis-style discrimination and allow governors from coast to coast to pass laws like North Carolina’s HB2,” he said.

Activist, advice columnist, and pundit Dan Savage argues "you can't draw a clean line between the LGBT community and the Muslim community because there are LGBT Muslims in the United States and all over the world."  He recognizes Donald Trump "has pledged to undo marriage equality" and "is the enemy of the LGBT community just as he is the enemy of the Muslim community."  Savage added "Donald Trump attempting to pit the queer community against the Muslim community is not going to fly (because) beating up on what is, in the United States, a vulnerable minority group isn't the way that you impress other members of other vulnerable minority groups to win their support."

Dividing groups against each other, such as blacks against whites, the affluent against the struggling, Christians against non-Christians, is what conservative Republicans do.  Even culturally moderate Republicans now are hard at work trying to protect prvilege based on religious proclamation.   Neither Donald Trump- as Jay Brown noted- nor many Republicans known nationwide have criticized the proliferation of religious discrimination laws, nor has it been open to debate.

Politico's Cheney downplays the probability that the GOP won't repeal its support for an amendment banning same-sex marriage, call for returning the matter to the states, and/or suggest that well-meaning individuals have a difference of opinion on the issue. It is the most the Party even will consider, for it will not endorse the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which the Democratic Party called for in its last two platforms, and will this summer in Philadelphia.

That legislation would go further than same-sex marriage in guaranteeing equal opportunity for people. So, too, would an end to the constant effort of states to enact greater barriers to reproductive freedom. But there will be no effort to do that in Cleveland, nor will there even be an endorsement of anti-abortion laws within the context of Roe v. Wade.  The Republican Party platform likely will again support adding to the US Constitution a human life amendment which would ban all abortion and even some forms of contraception.

When it comes to restricting liberties, the GOP will not stop at a sexual-preference minority. It will continue to push for a denial of rights to the majority of the population which is female, thereby reinforcing the concentration of power in society's elite.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Too Little, Too Late

After nomination by President George HW Bush, a quarter of a century ago Clarence Thomas became a Justice of the United States Supreme Court after a vote of 52 to 48.   As Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy noted earlier this year, "In sharp contrast with what we're seeing today with the (Merrick) Garland nomination, with a Republican majority calling the shots, no one back then blocked Clarence Thomas from a hearing, from a committee vote, or from a floor vote." Significantly, Thomas' approval was facilitated by the chairperson of the Senate Judiciary Committee who currently is in another office and recently at the United State of Women Summit

called on men to speak out against misogynistic locker room talk and insisted that men who stay quiet about rape culture and sexual assaults are accomplices.

“You guys in the audience, we’ve gotta overcome this social discomfort of calling out the misogyny that happens when no women are present: the locker room talk, the bar banter, the rape jokes,” (Vice President Joseph) Biden said in a speech at the United State of Women Summit. “As a man, maybe it makes you uncomfortable, but if you let it pass because you wanna become of the one guys, you become an accomplice.”

Spare us your lecture, Joe.  The late Senator Paul Simon once explained

After we were in the hearing for a while, it became apparent that we had something huge on our hands in terms of public attention. That played a role in the Thomas nomination, because on Friday, Anita Hill testified. Friday is a limited television audience. Saturday, Clarence Thomas testified - a much larger audience. People who saw only one of the two believed the one they saw, whichever one that was. I think that was a factor in public opinion being on his side - only one of the factors - and the public opinion being on his side I think was clearly a factor in some of the votes in the Senate.

The chairperson of the committee was responsible for the committee's schedule and  chose not to call Angela Wright, a former employee of Thomas, who would have testified that Thomas often acted in a sexually intimidating manner.  Former chairperson of the United States Commission on Civil Rights Mary Frances Berry says "The only thing I blame him for is that I think we should have called the witnesses."  Otherwise, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

Republican members of the committee and Biden himself since have claimed that she voluntarily chose not to testify but Wright states

"The only reason I didn't testify is because I wasn't called to testify. I was there for for three days waiting with my attorneys for the judiciary committee to call me." Wright went on to say that she was eventually told her testimony wasn't needed, but that the judiciary committee wanted to "portray me as having cold feet and backing out."  

This is not a case of "he said, she said" because

In 1994, Florence Graves cleared up those mysteries in The Washington Post, revealing the intricate — and bipartisan — behind-the-scenes maneuvering by several Senate Judiciary Committee members to discourage the testimony of Angela Wright, a woman whose information could have helped corroborate Anita Hill’s allegations against Clarence Thomas. The article uncovered a surprising unwritten agreement among top Republicans and Democrats not to call Wright, apparently because they feared either that her testimony would create even greater political chaos or that it would doom Thomas’ nomination. It also uncovered evidence suggesting that Thomas lied to the Committee.

Nonetheless, present-day Joe Biden, with no hint of irony, remarks

As I point out to these young men on college campuses — it’s a fraternity party, you see a co-ed that is absolutely stone drunk, you see one of your brothers walking her upstairs, if you don’t have the courage to walk up and say, ‘Hey, Jack, not in my house,’ you are an accomplice. You are an accomplice.

So says the accomplice of Senators Simpson, Hatch, and Specter and enabler of Clarence Thomas. Biden in remarks since those days seems to have been most concerned with keeping the nominee from being embarrassed during the hearings and maintiaining a role as a sort of impartial magistrate. Susan Deller Ross, described by The New York Times as "a Georgetown University law professor and expert in workplace sex discrimination," argues that the GOP senaors were "playing advocate" for the nominee and

 “I’m sure you remember nobody played advocate for her. I don’t think he did well and he bears responsibility for Mr. Thomas being on the court.”

Ms. Ross, who was one of the lawyers assisting Ms. Hill, asserts that Mr. Biden treated Mr. Thomas too even-handedly because of the racially charged nature of the hearings. (Remember Justice Thomas’ charge that he had been subjected to a “high-tech lynching.”) Ms. Ross said that Mr. Biden “was accused of being labeled racist, so the Republicans were blackmailing him and he pushed the levers to make the case look like there wasn’t a case when there was.”

Senator Biden later was sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act and thrice secured re-authorization of the program. Penance, however, is not enough.   Now he notes "men often don't call out their peers because they are worried men will judge them as not being manly enough." Joe Biden had his moment in the spotlight and was intimidated, worried other men would judge him as not being fair to a guy who equated questioning under oath with "a high-tech lynching."

Due in large measure to the then-Delaware senator, the supremely unqualified Clarence Thomas became a member of the United States Supreme Court, where he can choose to remain while obstructing the interests of women, workers, and others until his death.  That should be as much a part of Joseph R. Biden's legacy as serving in the largely ceremonial post of Vice-President.

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The Natural Rights of Christian Nationalism

He's right, you know. Despite Wheerler's unearned arrogance, @HeidiReports is absolutely correct. Rights given by a god can be tak...