Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty


Jeb Bush Embraces Risky Fight with Donald Trump


With Jeb "Jebbie" Bush in the basement in recent polling results and The Donald still riding high, the coronation of Jebbie anticipated by the so-called GOP establishment and most of all the Bush family is in serious question.  Oodles of money has not translated into high polling results and Jebbie and his sycophants, despite outward calm, must be in panic.  Hence Jebbie's decision to attack Donald Trump.  The prospect of the coming fight has great entertainment value for those disgusted with what the GOP has become.  At the same time, given the pervasive insanity of the GOP base, Bush is taking a huge risk.  An article in the Washington Post looks at the coming spectacle.  Here are highlights:
Jeb Bush went on the offensive Tuesday against GOP presidential front-runner and frequent antagonist Donald Trump, releasing an attack video portraying the mogul as a closet liberal and signaling that he will attempt to bring Trump down in coming weeks.

“He attacks me every day. He attacks me every day with barbarities,” Bush said in Spanish in response to questions from reporters at a Presbyterian school here. “They’re not true. What we did today was to put out in his words to show that he’s not conservative.”

But in fully embracing a fight against Trump, Bush is embarking on a risky strategy that could further fuel Trump’s unexpected rise and complicate his own path to the nomination. Allies of the former Florida governor insist that he had no choice but to adopt a more aggressive posture, elevating his feud with Trump to the marquee contest in the GOP primary contest.

Republicans said the dilemma for Bush is obvious. If he hangs back, voters may conclude he is weak. If he attacks, he engages a candidate who has proved to be an effective counterpuncher.
The escalation came after Trump released an aggressive video Monday that flashed mug shots of men charged with or convicted of murder as Bush’s comments that undocumented immigrants enter the United States as “an act of love” played in the background. 

The video Bush released Tuesday strings together clips from past interviews of Trump praising Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and voicing support for abortion rights, tax increases for wealthy Americans and the 2009 economic stimulus program.

Some Republicans are skeptical that Bush’s issue-based strikes will undercut Trump’s appeal, which is based less on ideology than on broad anger about the direction of the nation.  “We have reached a moment where conservatism isn’t defined by issues anymore for a big percentage of the country,” said Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential campaign.

“Yet another weak hit by a candidate with a failing campaign,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “Will Jeb sink as low in the polls as the others who have gone after me?” 

“We’ve gotten out our popcorn. It’s wonderful,” said a strategist for a rival campaign, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter frankly. “I don’t think it’ll work.”

Bush’s focus on Trump is partly a response to donors who have been clamoring for a more aggressive posture. Once Bush began his first, hesitant criticism of Trump two weeks ago in New Hampshire, several surrogates and donors suggested it was long overdue.

Bush, running against a deep and well-funded field, has not received the level of support that Romney had. Romney also never had to contend with a rival quite like Trump, who has upended conventional thinking about modern campaigns.

“Trump is completely, absolutely and utterly in command of the political battle space,” Schmidt said. “He is controlling the entire tone and tenor of the campaign.”
As the one campaign strategist said, get out the popcorn.

The GOP's Wrong Headed Obsession with Iran

Listen to conservative talk radio or read the works of "conservative" pundits and the spittle flies as they attack the proposed Iran nuclear agreement and depict Iran as the number one purveyor of Islamic terrorism.  They all conveniently ignore the reality that it wasn't Iranians who perpetrated the 9-11 attacks on America.  No, that attack was undertaken by Saudi Arabians and despite this fact the always incompetent George W. Bush allowed plane loads of Saudi's to leave America even as all other air traffic was grounded.  A column in the New York Times looks at the GOP's obsession with Iran and the conscious effort to ignore the reality that when it comes to sponsoring Islamic extremism, it is America's alleged ally, Saudi Arabia that is the largest backer of terrorism and Islamic extremism.  Why?  In my view, one word: oil.  Here are column highlights:
There are legitimate arguments for and against this [Iran] deal, but there was one argument expressed in this story that was so dangerously wrongheaded about the real threats to America from the Middle East, it needs to be called out.

That argument was from Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, the retired former vice commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, who said of the nuclear accord: “What I don’t like about this is, the number one leading radical Islamic group in the world is the Iranians. They are purveyors of radical Islam throughout the region and throughout the world. And we are going to enable them to get nuclear weapons.”

Sorry, General, but the title greatest “purveyors of radical Islam” does not belong to the Iranians. Not even close. That belongs to our putative ally Saudi Arabia.

When it comes to Iran’s involvement in terrorism, I have no illusions: I covered firsthand the 1983 suicide bombings of the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, both believed to be the handiwork of Iran’s cat’s paw, Hezbollah. Iran’s terrorism, though — vis-à-vis the U.S. — has always been of the geopolitical variety: war by other means to push the U.S. out of the region so Iran can dominate it, not us.

I support the Iran nuclear deal because it reduces the chances of Iran building a bomb for 15 years and creates the possibility that Iran’s radical religious regime can be moderated through more integration with the world.

[I]f you think Iran is the only source of trouble in the Middle East, you must have slept through 9/11, when 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Nothing has been more corrosive to the stability and modernization of the Arab world, and the Muslim world at large, than the billions and billions of dollars the Saudis have invested since the 1970s into wiping out the pluralism of Islam — the Sufi, moderate Sunni and Shiite versions — and imposing in its place the puritanical, anti-modern, anti-women, anti-Western, anti-pluralistic Wahhabi Salafist brand of Islam promoted by the Saudi religious establishment.

It is not an accident that several thousand Saudis have joined the Islamic State or that Arab Gulf charities have sent ISIS donations. It is because all these Sunni jihadist groups — ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Nusra Front — are the ideological offspring of the Wahhabism injected by Saudi Arabia into mosques and madrasas from Morocco to Pakistan to Indonesia.

And we, America, have never called them on that — because we’re addicted to their oil and addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.

“While Iran has been a source of terrorism in supporting groups like Hezbollah, many American allies have been a source of terrorism by supporting Wahhabi ideology, which basically destroyed the pluralism that emerged in Islam since the 14th century, ranging from Bektashi Islam in Albania, which believes in living with other religions, to Sufi and Shiite Islam. 

[W]hen there is only one legitimate path [to God or Allah], “all others are open to being killed. That has been the single most dangerous idea that has emerged in the Muslim world, and it came out of Saudi Arabia

For decades, Saudi Arabia has poured billions of its oil dollars into sympathetic Islamic organizations around the world, quietly practicing checkbook diplomacy to advance its agenda. But a trove of thousands of Saudi documents recently released by WikiLeaks reveals in surprising detail how the government’s goal in recent years was not just to spread its strict version of Sunni Islam — though that was a priority — but also to undermine its primary adversary: Shiite Iran.” 

Saudi Arabia’s export of Wahhabi puritanical Islam has been one of the worst things to happen to Muslim and Arab pluralism — pluralism of religious thought, gender and education — in the last century. 

Iran’s nuclear ambition is a real threat; it needs to be corralled. But don’t buy into the nonsense that it’s the only source of instability in this region. 
If American conservatives were the patriots they like to see themselves as, they'd be selling their gas guzzling SUV's and huge pickup trucks and buying fuel efficient cars to accelerate America's energy independence from Saudi oil.  They'd also be supportive of alternate fuel programs  and energy conservation efforts.  The fact that they are not doing this shows that as is the case in so many areas, the conservatives are false patriots and hypocrites.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

More Tuesday Male Beauty


New Survey Unscores the Insanity of the GOP Base

The results of a new Public Policy Polling survey confirm that the swamp fever gripping the Republican Party base is even worse than many would have liked to believe.  The GOP of my parents' generation or even of 25 years ago is gone and a near insane asylum has taken its place.  Now, ignorance is a virtue, bigotry is a virtue and many KKK members no doubt feel completely at home in the party.  If one has ever wondered how the civilization of the Roman Empire descended into the horrors of the Dark Ages, the decline of the GOP provides a glimpse in microcosm.  How does one even begin to try to reason with those who are so utterly detached Here are some of the survey findings:
Our new poll finds that Trump is benefiting from a GOP electorate that thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim and was born in another country, and that immigrant children should be deported. 66% of Trump's supporters believe that Obama is a Muslim to just 12% that grant he's a Christian. 61% think Obama was not born in the United States to only 21% who accept that he was. And 63% want to amend the Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship, to only 20% who want to keep things the way they are. 
 
Trump's beliefs represent the consensus among the GOP electorate. 51% overall want to eliminate birthright citizenship. 54% think President Obama is a Muslim. And only 29% grant that President Obama was born in the United States. That's less than the 40% who think Canadian born Ted Cruz was born in the United States. 
 
Trump's supporters aren't alone in those attitudes though. Only among supporters of John Kasich (58/13), Jeb Bush (56/18), Chris Christie (59/33), and Marco Rubio (42/30) are there more people who think President Obama was born in the United States than that he wasn't. And when you look at whose supporters are more inclined to think that the President is a Christian than a Muslim the list shrinks to just Christie (55/29), Kasich (41/22), and Bush (29/22).
 
Bush's inability to appeal to the kind of people who hold these beliefs is what's keeping him from succeeding in the race- his overall favorability is 39/42, and with voters identifying themselves as 'very conservative' it's all the way down at 33/48.  

Quotes of the Day


A friend posted the above image on Facebook and it was too good to pass up.  At the risk of beating the story of faux "godly Christian" Kim Davis to death, I love these lines  in the image:
While he [Jesus] never said anything about gays, he did say something about your re-marrying.  You're a gal who apparently believes Christian marriage is between one woman and one man - and then another man, and a new man, and yet another man.  That makes you a serial adulterer to Jesus and a harlot to me.
While deranged Christofascists are hailing Davis as a martyr and/or heroine, I suspect many, many more people see Davis as the epitome of conservative Christian hypocrisy.  With luck, her hypocrisy will push a few more people out the church door.

John Corvino exhibited similar thoughts in a column in the Detroit Free Press: Here are excerpts:
Many have commented on the fact that Davis herself has been divorced several times. As a strategic matter, this makes her a rather poor poster child for ‘traditional Christian marriage’: Jesus himself treats divorce and remarriage as akin to adultery. But the point is not merely ad hominem: Davis’s willingness to impose a standard of marriage on gays that she does not apply to others, herself included, shows that she’s less interested in enforcing a consistent traditional Christian view than in singling out gays for disapproval. In its Obergefell decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rightly rejected such treatment as an affront to dignity and equal treatment under the law. Private citizens are free to express their religious views about homosexuality — however hypocritically and inconsistently — and to practice their faith as they see fit. But religious liberty is not a “get out of your job free” card.

Batshitery Continues to Reign in Rowan County, Kentucky

click image to enlarge
About the only explanation I can come up with for Rown County Clerk Kim Davis' defiance of federal court orders and her latest quip about obeying "God's authority" is that she is setting the stage to make a killing on the Christofascist talk and book circuit since sooner or later she will be out of her job as county clerk.  Indeed, she may actually want to be put in jail for contempt of court since it will increase her marketability with the insane fanatics of the Christian Right and GOP base.  Adding to the lunacy are statements for her fourth husband (who likewise disregards the Bible when it's convenient) implying he might use a gun against his wife's foes.  Meanwhile, the ACLU has filed a contempt of court motion against Davis found here.  Here are highlights from the requested relief:
Plaintiffs have established a prima facia case, in that they have shown by sufficient evidence that Defendant Davis, in refusing to grant Plaintiffs Miller and Roberts a marriage license following the U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of her most recent (and final) attempt to stay the August 12, 2015, preliminary injunction, has, in fact, violated a definite and specific order of this Court. 

Because Davis cannot show either that she is unable to comply with the August 12, 2015, order or that she has taken all reasonable steps to comply, this Court is left with no choice but to hold her in contempt. Plaintiffs do not seek to compel Davis’ compliance through incarceration. Since Defendant Davis continues to collect compensation from the Commonwealth for duties she fails to perform, Plaintiffs urge the the Court to impose financial penalties sufficiently serious and increasingly onerous to compel Davis’ immediate compliance without further delay.

The usual hate merchants, of course, are applauding Davis' violation of the law demonstrating yet again the Christofascists' belief that they are above the law.  

As for Davis' batshit crazy husband, ABC News has this:

The husband of a Kentucky county clerk who's refusing to issue gay marriage licenses despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling says his wife is committed to her faith and is "standing for God."

Joe Davis arrived at the Rowan County courthouse Tuesday morning to check on his wife, clerk Kim Davis, shortly after she again denied the licenses to several couples.

Joe Davis says his wife has received death threats, and the couple changed their phone number. But he says he's not afraid and believes in the Second Amendment.

He said: "I'm an old redneck hillbilly, that's all I've got to say. Don't come knocking on my door."

Joe Davis compared his wife to the biblical figures Paul and Silas, sent to prison and rescued by God.
Both Davis and her husband are (i) hypocrites, and (ii) perhaps belong in a mental ward. 

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty


The GOP has Become Increasingly Reliant on Reality-Defying Paranoia


There have always been out of the mainstream paranoid conspiracy theorists, but generally they have been a tiny minority and have been viewed as crazy by larger society.  With the rise of the Christofascists and their Tea Party first cousins in the  Republican Party, the paranoid fringe became mainstream - at least in the GOP.   The result is the lunacy that we now see writ large in many of the GOP's policies and fear mongering.  A piece in Salon looks at how crazy became the norm with the GOP base.  Here are highlights:

In the 1960s, William F. Buckley tried to banish organized conspiracists from the conservative movement with his crusade against the John Birch Society, which tellingly organized itself secretively, just like the Communists that it believed were everywhere. In a 2008 article in Commentary, Buckley told the story of how he, writer Russell Kirk, AEI’s William Baroody, and Barry Goldwater met in 1962, and discussed “the need to excommunicate the John Birch Society from the conservative movement,” so that they wouldn’t derail a Goldwater presidential bid in 1964. As Buckley described Robert Welch, founder of John Birch Society:
His influence was near-hypnotic, and his ideas wild.
 John Stormer’s “None Dare Call It Treason,” promoted as detailing “the communist-socialist conspiracy to enslave America,” sold 7 million paperback copies, mostly during Goldwater’s campaign, at the same time that Phyllis Schlafly’s “A Choice, Not an Echo,” another multimillion-seller, gave the campaign its most memorable slogan, while promoting the conspiracy theory that the Republican Party was secretly controlled by members of the Bilderberger banking conference, who were also in cahoots with global communism. It was these us-vs.-them conspiracist narratives that pulled together the conservative movement on the ground.

[T]he Buckley/Kirk/Goldwater strategy kept the conspiracists in line, in the background, as far as D.C.-based politics were concerned, and that was key to conservative success—keeping up the appearances of being a rational, factually informed political movement. 

[T]he real story was about how Ronald Reagan became the Republican nominee—and that was very much a story about how he managed to mobilize the conspiracy-minded GOP base to secure the nomination.

In short, conspiracism was never anywhere near being excommunicated from the conservative movement or the GOP. It was, however, generally kept in line, which is why sanitized stories like Rauch, Buckley and Maddow’s can plausibly be told.

Now, however, conspiracism is virtually all the GOP has left, and it’s not just a sudden development with the emergence of Donald Trump. The attacks on Planned Parenthood were based on a multilayered conspiracy theory view of what Planned Parenthood does, with no relation to reality. Its actual purpose—providing family planning services and healthcare—seems utterly impossible for its enemies to grasp. Instead, it’s made out to be a sinister criminal enterprise . . . 

The birther response to Obama’s election is another major example of conspiracism, as is the whole parade of so-called Clinton scandals, which we’ll return to below. Neither Clinton nor Obama was a traditional liberal, much less a left-winger, so fantasy-laced conspiracy narratives had to be concocted to justify treating them as beyond the pale of reason.

In short, this kind of politics has been a big part of the GOP for quite some time now, despite all efforts to pretend otherwise. And that’s what makes Trump more of a logical development, part of a broader pattern, rather than—as he would like to be seen—as a unique figure signaling a radical new direction.

Conspiracism is surely a key element in the rise of Donald Trump. His portrayal of Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers, and disdainful dismissal of anyone who questions his lack of data, are right out of the conspiracist playbook. 

In the end, their beliefs become “self-sealing,” so that any conclusive evidence disproving their suspicions is treated as evidence that the conspiracy is even larger than previously thought.

All this systemically distorted reasoning suits the GOP just fine—they’ve used it to attack presidents Clinton and Obama virtually nonstop for their whole terms in office—only now, they can no longer control the dynamic. 

But conspiracist narratives aren’t about facts, except in the most selective of ways. They’re more about painting a picture of the world as people want it to be—not the best possible world, but the most satisfying one, given the reality of their known hopes and fears. A detailed study published in 2011 shows that FoxNews.com and Newsmax were the two most important Internet sites in propagating the term “anchor baby” from 2007 to 2010, when it moved from anti-immigrant fringe into mainstream usage. It’s no more of a commonsense term than any ethnic slur you can think of. It exists specifically to invoke a conspiracist narrative of how our country is under sneak attack. 

In the real world, there’s simply no foundation for Trump’s scaremongering. Crime has declined dramatically over the past two decades. According to the FBI data for 2013, the most recent full year for data, the violent crime rate is just 367.9 per 100,000, compared to 713.6 per 100,000 in 1994—a reduction of 48.4 percent. The murder rate is also down by 50 percent. Similarly, as data from Pew shows, the number of unauthorized immigrants has declined since its pre-recession high, while the number of those deported under Obama is the highest ever.

What’s really going on here is white conservative identity politics. Their share of the electorate is in long-term decline, and their ability to define political reality is inevitably waning. . . . Trump is offering a way for them to imaginatively deny reality—much like the Ghost Dance movement promised Native Americans in the 1890s . . 

Just don’t expect him [Trump] to stop spouting conspiracist nonsense. By now, it’s become the conservative’s lingua franca, and he speaks it like a native son. Like a birthright citizen, even. There is no other language left for any of today’s conservatives to speak.