Saturday, June 20, 2015
Donald Trump's entry into the GOP presidential clown car promises to bring lots of entertainment value - especially as other Republicans launch attacks on Trump. Perhaps the highest entertainment, however, will be how Trump may force other candidates to address his racist statements and other batshitery. Karl Rove - not my favorite person by any means - has joined those attacking Trump and has described Trump as a "complete idiot" and "moron." The Chicago Sun Times looks at Rove's attacks on Trump. Here are highlights:
During a visit to Missouri on Monday, noted Republican strategist Karl Rove had some choice words for newly declared presidential candidate Donald Trump.
While speaking at a Missouri Boys State event (which was closed to the media), Rove offered his take on the massive GOP field, which he described as having three “tiers” of candidates.
Trump, according to Rove, is not only a “third tier” candidate, but also a “complete idiot.”
Here’s a full transcript of what Rove said, via the Show Me Progress blog.
I do think there are sort of three tiers of candidates. There are three candidates who, in reverse alphabetical order, Walker, Rubio, Bush, or alphabetical order, Bush, Rubio, Walker, or inside out order, Rubio, Walker, Bush, or Rubio Bush, Walker – that’s the top tier. We’re likely to see the nominee come out of that group.
We have a second tier which includes people like Ted Cruz and Governor [Rick] Perry and Ben Carson and maybe a couple of others. And one or two, you know, one or, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum. Maybe one of those gets into the top tier. But right now they’re on the second tier.
And then we’ve got sort of the third tier which are people who really are unlikely to break through. They’re good people, some of them, but they’re unlikely to break through. Or, in the case of Donald Trump, they’re complete idiots. [laughter, applause]
So, it’s early, but I think the first we’re likely to see somebody win the nomination out of the first tier. And we’re likely to see one or two surprises out of the second tier. And the third tier is gonna be mostly entertaining, except for that guy Trump who’s a complete moron. [laughter]
Get out the popcorn!!
One never knows with absolute certainty how a Supreme Court justice will rule in a case, but there is growing speculation that Chief Justice John Roberts may break with his conservative brethren and vote to uphold the Affordable Health Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare. Personally, I think Obamacare went nowhere near far enough and support a single payer system - i.e., a national healthcare plan. Meanwhile, Obamacare is better than the GOP alternative which is no plan at all. A piece in Mother Jones looks at the consequences of a ruling against Obamacare and why Roberts may opt to uphold the law. Here are article highlights:
As the end of the Supreme Court term nears, there's a growing anxiety surrounding the fate of the Affordable Care Act—and for good reason. If the court rules for the plaintiffs in the case of King v. Burwell, more than 6 million people could lose their health insurance subsidies, which would likely make their insurance plans unaffordable. National insurance markets could enter a death spiral that would cause many more to lose coverage.
But despite all the legitimate concern, it seems unlikely that the Supreme Court will kill off President Barack Obama's signature health care reform law. And that's largely because of Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.
[T]here are a number of reasons why he's not likely to join his fellow conservatives jurists in knocking down the tax subsidies that now make insurance affordable for millions of people.
The King case is hitting the court late in the game. The previous challenge to the ACA was a fierce ideological battle over a health care law that was still largely hypothetical. Most of its major provisions hadn't yet kicked in, so killing it off didn't seem to have quite the same dire consequences as it would now that the nation's insurance system has been reshaped and millions of people have gained access to care.
This time, the fight over the ACA isn't so much an ideological dispute as it is a financial one. Billions of real dollars currently flowing to insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, and drug companies are at stake in the King case. With that much money involved, the players are also far more powerful and have much more to lose.
The case has pitted big businesses against the tea party, and in that fight, Roberts is much more likely to come down on the side of business.
Overall, the Roberts court is far more business-friendly than any of of its modern predecessors. And Roberts has been a reliable vote for litigants backed by the US Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest business lobby.
"Chief Justice Roberts has certainly been responsive to the interests and concerns of the business community in his first decade on the Court," says CAC founder Doug Kendall. "In King, all the businesses to weigh in are on the side of the Obama administration."
The nation's multibillion-dollar health insurance industry has also weighed in on the case on the side of the government. So has the Catholic Health Association, the American Hospital Association, and a host of other health care and doctors' groups, who argue that the plaintiffs have completely misinterpreted the law or its history.
On the side of the King plaintiffs? A couple of libertarian think tanks and the tinfoil-hat Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which has a statement of principles that says it's immoral for doctors to participate in Medicare and Medicaid.
Is establishment lawyer John Roberts really going to side with these guys over a business sector that accounts for nearly 20 percent of US GDP? Probably not.
The sickness of the far right continues to be demonstrated by the unbelievable thinks being said by Republicans and others to avoid admitting that the mass murders in Charleston were a racially motivated act of domestic terrorism. It seems that any and every excuse is more acceptable than admitting reality - and the responsibility of the GOP's dog whistle racism and refusal to pass laws that would lessen the insane number of guns in the hands of those who do not need to have them. As Barack Obama noted, no other advanced nation has the gun carnage that is the norm in America. Exemplifying the right's batshitery, Rick Perry (there REALLY must be something in Texas' water) described the murders as an "accident" fueled by drugs that Barack Obama has manipulated. True to form, Perry later claimed he had "misspoken." Meanwhile, Charles Cotton, a longtime board member of the National Rifle Association, blamed the deaths on one of the victims for opposing concealed carry laws. Right Wing Watch looks at Perry's lunatic comments:
In an interview today with Steve Malzberg of Newsmax, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry described the mass shooting at an African American church in Charleston earlier this week as an “accident” that was possibly caused by the over-prescription of medication. A Perry campaign aide now says that the former governor misspoke in the interview when he used the word “accident.”Perry and Malzberg kicked off the discussion of the shooting by attacking President Obama for mentioning the failure to pass gun reform. Perry, a GOP presidential candidate, said that the president is trying to “take the guns out of the hands of everyone in this country.”“This is the MO of this administration, any time there is an accident like this — the president is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message,” Perry said.Instead of talking about guns, Perry said, we should be talking about prescription drugs. . . . He added that while the shooting was “a crime of hate,” he didn’t know if it should be called a terrorist attack.
As for Cotton's batshitery, here are excerpts from Mother Jones:
Gun rights activists have been out in force since the massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, once again blaming the slaughter on so-called gun-free zones, and claiming that an armed citizen could have otherwise stopped the attack. It's an argument that the gun lobby has used for many years, but on Thursday afternoon it was marked by a brazen new low with comments from Charles Cotton, a longtime board member of the National Rifle Association. Cotton wrote on a Texas gun-rights forum that slain pastor and South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pinckney was responsible for the murders of his congregants because of his opposition to looser concealed-carry laws.
"Eight of his church members, who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church, are dead," Cotton said. "Innocent people died because of his political position on the issue."
No one who has watched the horror unfold in Charleston doubts that the killer's motivation was infused with racial hatred. And to suggest that gun restrictions were the root cause of the bloodbath isn't just callous—it's also plain wrong.
As Mother Jones has previously reported, there has never been any evidence that mass shooters picked their targets based on gun regulations; to the contrary, data from scores of cases shows perpetrators had other specific motivations for where they attacked, including racial hatred. The idea that armed citizens stop crimes in the United States has also been wildly exaggerated by the gun lobby, as a new study based on federal data reaffirms.
Cotton's comments have since been deleted from TexasCHLforum.com, where he is listed as a site administrator. He did not reply to a request for further comment. In a statement on Friday to Politico, the NRA distanced itself from Cotton's rhetoric, saying individual board members "do not have the authority to speak for the NRA."
As regular readers know, I view Pope Francis with a great deal of skepticism. I've even noted that he seems bi-polar as he swings form rational, progressive statements to again embracing the Church idiocy in the form of 13th century understanding of the "natural law." But I do enjoy seeing Francis lob bombs at the Republican Party's agenda of vulture capitalism and environmental destruction. And as a piece in Salon notes, Francis' new encyclical on climate changes will certainly expose the con-artist hypocrisy of a number of Republicans, including a number of the occupants of the GOP 2016 clown car. Here are article highlights:
Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard the initial cannon volleys from the parapets of the GOP hurled in the direction of Pope Francis. But as of yesterday, when the Pope delivered a major encyclical on the climate crisis, there was a thermonuclear freakout, from not just Fox News and AM talk radio, but nearly every Republican with internet access. Already, Greg Gutfeld from Fox News Channel’s The Five referred to the Pope as the “most dangerous man in the world.”
Pope Francis’s encyclical was specifically intended as a call to action on man-made global warming. And this particular call to action contains, among other things, the following groundbreaking line:
We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us. This allows us to respond to the charge that Judaeo-Christian thinking, on the basis of the Genesis account which grants man “dominion” over the earth (cf. Gen 1:28), has encouraged the unbridled exploitation of nature by painting him as domineering and destructive by nature. This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church.That low rumbling noise you just heard was the sound of a million paleoconservative collapsing on their fainting couches. The Pope, here, is completely undermining the religious cornerstone for the entire GOP position on the climate, as well as pollution, animals and nature in general. Simply put: Sorry, no, the Bible doesn’t give us the power to ruin the planet for humans or other forms of life.
This of course presents a massive problem for Catholic Republicans everywhere, not to mention the handful of Catholic Republicans who are running for president, partially on an anti-climate platform.
At this point, there are three candidates officially bungee-corded into the overstuffed clown car that is the GOP primary: Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. Catholics Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal haven’t declared yet. All five Republicans deny that human activity has precipitated the crisis. In fact, both Santorum and Jindal believe the whole thing is a hoax.
[I]f there’s one crucial aspect of this which ought to be hammered by anyone within shouting distance of the Catholics in the race, it’s the issue of faith and consistency. Simply put: If it’s okay for Bush, Santorum and Rubio to simply waive the Church’s teachings on the climate crisis, why is it impossible for them to do the same when it comes to their religion-based positions on abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage?
Why is it okay for persons of faith to ignore the crap they don’t like, while outright legislating the crap they do like?
It’s really no wonder the Republicans hate this Pope in spite of their self-branding as religious zealots. Bottom line: Francis makes them look ghoulish. I’m not religious now, but I was raised Catholic. I don’t like every word that comes out of the Pope’s mouth, but I much prefer Pope Francis’ God, and don’t have any interest in knowing Rick Santorum’s God.
The ultimate incongruity is this: The Pope has consistently, though not always, illustrated exactly how people of faith can serve the common good, while the GOP is more interested in exploiting religion to oppress, restrict and demonize. This really what’s freaking them out. And after Thursday, the rage will be thick and it’ll set new records for ugliness.
In more positive news, a new survey finds that Americans' confidence in organized religion is justifiably at an all time low. Not that the Republican Party will get the message that it is clinging to a sinking ship. Personally, I hope the decline continues and that eventually the toxic poison peddled under the smoke screen of "religious belief" will play a declining role in American politics. Newsweek looks at the trust in organized religion's dramatic drop. Here are excerpts:
Confidence in organized religion is at an an “all-time low” among Americans and the church has fallen in a ranking of the country’s most trusted institutions, according to new polls.Only 42 percent of Americans now have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in organized religion and the church, according to the Gallup poll. The church stands behind the military, small business and the police in a list of institutions in which Americans have the most confidence; but Americans do still trust the church more than the medical system, Congress and the media, Gallup said in a separate poll on Monday.While confidence among Protestants fell to a new low this year, at 51 percent, confidence among Catholics, also at 51 percent, has reached a “steadying after more than a decade of varying confidence” that dropped as low as 39 percent in 2007, said Gallup.
“Poor behavior on the part of some religious leaders has caused serious self-inflicted wounds for the church and organized religion—damaging its image among Protestants and Catholics as well as many non-Christians,” said Gallup.
Non-Christians and non-religious Americans had even lower levels of confidence in the church. Fifty percent of non-Christians and the non-religious had “very little” confidence in organized religion, while only 10 percent had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence.
More than a fifth of Americans are unaffiliated with any religion, with the number jumping to 22.8 percent in 2014 from 16.1 percent in 2007, according to a study from the Pew Research Forum published in May. The number of Americans involved with non-Christian faiths increased to 5.9 percent in 2014, according to the study.
As the Virginia GOP has become increasingly out of step with a majority of Virginians and changing demographics have made winning state wide elections nearly impossible, rather than change its agenda and enter the 21st century, the Virginia GOP has opted instead to work to disenfranchise voters hostile to the party's extremist and racist policies. One example id the voter ID law rammed through the GOP dominated Virginia General Assembly where Republicans hold sway thanks to gerrymandered districts. Now, Attorney General Mark Herring has brought in outside counsel to avoid a conflict of interest as Democrats challenge the Virginia GOP's anti-democratic handiwork. Here are highlights from the Daily Press:
Attorney General Mark Herring will outsource the legal defense of the state's voter ID laws and other election practices, Herring's office announced Friday afternoon.
The move allows Herring, a Democrat who voted against voter ID when he was in the state Senate, to avoid arguing directly in the law's defense. His office said Mark F. "Thor" Hearne II, a partner in the D.C. offices of Arent Fox, will handle the case, which Democratic groups filed against the state earlier this month.
Democrats challenging the law argue that Virginia's photo ID law is unconstitutional, but their case is much broader than that. It challenges long waits times on election day and says the Republican-controlled legislature deliberately targeted minority voters, young people and other likely Democratic voters when it rewrote voting rules.
The case was brought by Mark Elias of Perkins Coie, an attorney and firm with deep Democratic ties. The suit is part of a multi-state effort to challenge voting rules ahead of the 2016 elections. The firm is also challenging Virginia's election districts in a pair of ongoing suits.
Herring said in a statement Friday that outside counsel for the voter ID case was needed to avoid "any concern that my previous advocacy would result in anything less than a vigorous defense."
"Nothing is more fundamental than the right to vote and my position on these issues is clear," Herring said in the statement. "I have consistently opposed these measures and worked hard in the legislature to combat them."
The speaker's office declined to comment Friday on Hearne's selection. Howell and other Republican legislative leaders may hire their own attorney in this case, as they did in the cases challenging Virginia's election districts.
The Virginia GOP needs to grasp the simple concept that if your platform cannot win a majority of voters, it's the platform that needs to change rather than changing rules so as to keep people from voting.
|Tropical Storm Bill|
Just when you think the base of the Republican Party cannot get any more insane, these demented folks take it to a new level. Now, some on the far right are afraid that Tropical Storm Bill that just lashed much of Texas was a government induced storm aimed at weakening Texas ahead of a July 2015 "federal military invasion" known as Operation Jade Helm. I swear, you cannot make stuff up this crazy!! And note who the ultimate villain is - America's first black president. Meanwhile, the far right continues to claim the massacre in Charleston was an attack on Christians and not racially motivated. These folks belong in a mental asylum!! Here are highlights from the Houston Chronicle:
In some deep, dark corners of the Internet, folks are crying foul at the weather, and pointing fingers at Uncle Sam.
Could it be, they wonder, a secret plan to pummel Texas with crippling rains, weakening its civilian defenders before the troops swoop in for operation Jade Helm on July 15? That's the latest from many of the first websites to foment Jade Helm fervor in Texas.
"Speculation and actual evidence has been released in the last two days that has many believing that Texas is under attack with weather manipulation technology," wrote the website Intellihub, the "Civilian Intelligence Agency," on Wednesday. "Some believe the reason for this attack is to soften up the area in advance of Jade Helm 2015 going live."
"HAARP Attack: Tropical Storm Bill to Get Stronger Over Texas," wrote the website Before It's News on Monday. HAARP, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, is a real but decomissioned Alaska-based research facility for the U.S. Air Force that studied the highest levels of the atmosphere—or at least that's what they told NBC News in 2014. But a certain bloc believes it is a project for weather manipulation, from which the military can cast great storms unto their enemies.
And this bloc is connecting the dots. Memorial Day floods. Rainiest May in Texas history. Tropical Storm Bill. Jade Helm 15. Something is afoot, conspiracy theorist say. Is this heavy-handed punishment for the sly Texans who saw through the thin veil of conspiracy by which Obama thought he could sneak his invasion forces into the Lone Star State?
Jade Helm is a seven-state 1,200-person military special operations drill which will bring among the nation's most elite warriors—Navy SEALS and Green Berets—to more than a dozen Texas cities for eight weeks. In March, fears spread online that the U.S. Military was deploying soldiers to Texas to suppress resistance ahead of the implementation of martial law. By May, rumors became so pervasive that Gov. Greg Abbott sought to qualm Texans' fear by ordering a branch of the Texas Military to monitor the exercise.
Greg Abbott is as nuts as the conspiracy theorists. Having lived in Texas in the past, I now wonder what has been added to the water supply to trigger such lunacy.
Friday, June 19, 2015
While I hold the Vatican in less than high esteem, in one of his "Dr. Jekyll" phases Pope Francis has issued an encyclical on climate change that has immediately garnered attacks from Rick Santorum and Jebbie Bush, both of whom like to wear their Catholicism on their sleeves, especially for campaign purposes, and reactions from the GOP that make the party faithful seem either severely constipated and/or in need of extra strength Midol. As much as the Koch brothers and their allies in the carbon fuels industry spin out misinformation - a polite term for lies - most Americans do seem to be catching that the climate is indeed changing. A column in the Washington Post looks at Poper Francis' encyclical and things that can be done to begin to make a difference in mankind's contribution to climate change. Here are highlights:
The document is eloquent and intelligent, especially in its handling of science. “Most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity,” it says. “Concentrated in the atmosphere, these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space.” That is as lucid a two-sentence description of the mechanism of global warming as I have read.The encyclical is gloomy. But in fact, remarkable changes are taking place that could put the planet on a much more sustainable path. You get a sense of them if you read another important report that was issued this week, to much less fanfare than the pope’s missive — the International Energy Agency’s special report on energy and climate change.The report points out that last year the global economy grew at 3 percent but that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions stayed flat, the first time this has happened in 40 years. Renewables accounted for nearly half of all new power generation last year, and the energy intensity of the global economy dropped by twice as much as it has on average annually over the past decade. With concerted action, we could actually push global emissions downward in the next few years.The cost of solar cells has plummeted, leading to their widespread use. Cars, buildings and machines are becoming much more energy efficient. And over the horizon, one can see progress in batteries, nuclear power and biofuels, which could collectively produce a new energy ecosystem.We need a revolution in public policy as well. Fred Krupp, head of the Environmental Defense Fund, points out that most of the improvements that have been made in technology and efficiency would not have happened without rules and laws. And a series of smart policies — which are not very costly or disruptive — could dramatically accelerate the shift to a cleaner economy. First, stop doing harm.Even Bjorn Lomborg, a skeptic about many efforts to tackle global warming, argues for a reduction in the massive, market-distorting subsidies for fossil fuels. The IEA estimates that last year these subsidies globally amounted to $510 billion, about four times those provided to renewable energy.[S]olar power could become far more widespread if governments were not as beholden to utility companies and their phalanx of lobbyists. “There are lots of nonmarket barriers to renewables, placed at the behest of the established players,” he said.Natural gas is better than coal, but its production, transport and use release significant amounts of methane, which has much worse effects on the climate than carbon dioxide. The good news is that serious studies have found that these emissions could be reduced relatively cheaply with new regulations.The smartest new policy would be the simplest, . . . a carbon tax — effectively putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions to encourage companies to adopt cleaner technologies. This seems impossible to imagine — yet this month, several major oil companies in Europe [BG Group, BP, Eni , Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and France's Total] came out in favor of a price on carbon, whether through a tax or an emissions trading system like those used in California and Europe.
Technology and policy innovations are happening, just not on the scale that they need to be. That’s why the pope’s warnings are so useful and important . . . .
To date Jeb Bush has offered nothing more than a warmed over version of his idiot brothers policies - on foreign affairs, he has surrounded himself with the same lunatics who got America into the ongoing disaster in Iraq and set the stage for ISIS - which ought to terrify thinking, sane Americans. On economic policy, Jebbie is likewise no better than his brother as detailed in a column in the New York Times. Jebbie conveniently forgets that his brother oversaw the worse economic meltdown since the Great Depression and blew up the nation's budget deficit through massive tax cuts for the wealthy and unfunded foreign wars. Here are column excerpts:
On Monday Jeb Bush — or I guess that’s Jeb!, since he seems to have decided to replace his family name with a punctuation mark — finally made his campaign for the White House official, and gave us a first view of his policy goals. First, he says that if elected he would double America’s rate of economic growth to 4 percent. Second, he would make it possible for every American to lose as much weight as he or she wants, without any need for dieting or exercise.O.K., he didn’t actually make that second promise. But he might as well have. It would have been just as realistic as promising 4 percent growth, and considerably less irresponsible.I’ll get to Jeb!onomics in a minute, but first let me tell you about a dirty little secret of economics — namely, that we don’t know very much about how to raise the long-run rate of economic growth.Why, then, would Mr. Bush imagine that he is privy to secrets that have evaded everyone else?One answer, which is actually kind of funny, is that he believes that the growth in Florida’s economy during his time as governor offers a role model for the nation as a whole. Why is that funny? Because everyone except Mr. Bush knows that, during those years, Florida was booming thanks to the mother of all housing bubbles. When the bubble burst, the state plunged into a deep slump, much worse than that in the nation as a whole. Taking the boom and the slump together, Florida’s longer-term economic performance has, if anything, been slightly worse than the national average.The key to Mr. Bush’s record of success, then, was good political timing: He managed to leave office before the unsustainable nature of the boom he now invokes became obvious.But Mr. Bush’s economic promises reflect more than self-aggrandizement. They also reflect his party’s habit of boasting about its ability to deliver rapid economic growth, even though there’s no evidence at all to justify such boasts. It’s as if a bunch of relatively short men made a regular practice of swaggering around, telling everyone they see that they’re 6 feet 2 inches tall.To be more specific, the next time you encounter some conservative going on about growth, you might want to bring up the following list of names and numbers: Bill Clinton, 3.7; Ronald Reagan, 3.4; Barack Obama, 2.1; George H.W. Bush, 2.0; George W. Bush, 1.6. Yes, that’s the last five presidents — and the average rate of growth of the U.S. economy during their time in officeWhy, then, all the boasting about growth? The short answer, surely, is that it’s mainly about finding ways to sell tax cuts for the wealthy. Such cuts are unpopular in and of themselves, and even more so if, like the Kansas tax cuts for businesses and the affluent, they must be paid for with higher taxes on working families and/or cuts in popular government programs. Yet low taxes on the rich are an overriding policy priority on the rightThere is, of course, a term for basing a national program on this kind of self-serving (and plutocrat-serving) wishful thinking. Way back in 1980, George H.W. Bush, running against Reagan for the presidential nomination, famously called it “voodoo economic policy.” And while Reaganolatry is now obligatory in the G.O.P., the truth is that he was right.So what does it say about the state of the party that Mr. Bush’s son — often portrayed as the moderate, reasonable member of the family — has chosen to make himself a high priest of voodoo economics? Nothing good.
Had the murders in Charleston the night before last been committed by a Muslim, Fox News and other right wing outlets would have been screaming about terrorist attacks to the high heavens. However, since the apparent shooter was white, there is either silence from these mouth pieces or attempts to dissemble and avoid calling Dylann Storm Roof what he is - a domestic terrorist. Be he mentally imbalanced or not, his actions were certainly no more insane than that of Islamic suicide bombers. The real issue is that the right doesn't want to admit that their ideology encourages extremist to commit acts of violence and fans hatred. A piece in the New York Times looks at this hesitancy to admit that acts of terrorism are committed by right wing Americans. Another looks at Roof's growing adherence to white supremacy views. Here are highlights from the former:
The massacre of nine African-Americans in Charleston has been classified as a possible hate crime, apparently carried out by a 21-year-old white man who once wore an apartheid badge and other symbols of white supremacy. But many civil rights advocates are asking why the attack has not officially been called terrorism.Against the backdrop of rising worries about violent Muslim extremism in the United States, advocates see hypocrisy in the way the attack and the man under arrest in the shooting have been described by law enforcement officials and the news media.Assaults like the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and the attack on an anti-Islamic gathering in Garland, Tex., last month have been widely portrayed as acts of terrorism carried out by Islamic extremists. Critics say, however, that assaults against African-Americans and Muslim Americans are rarely if ever called terrorism.Moreover, they argue, assailants who are white are far less likely to be described by the authorities as terrorists.“We have been conditioned to accept that if the violence is committed by a Muslim, then it is terrorism,” Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights advocacy group in Washington, said Thursday in a telephone interview.“If the same violence is committed by a white supremacist or apartheid sympathizer and is not a Muslim, we start to look for excuses — he might be insane, maybe he was pushed too hard,” Mr. Awad said.“We have a man who intentionally went to a black church, had animus toward black people and assassinated an elected official and eight other people,” he said. “It seems he was motivated by a desire to terrorize and kill black people.”Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines terrorism as “the use of force or threats to demoralize, intimidate and subjugate, especially such use as a political weapon or policy.”Civil rights advocates said the Charleston attack not only fit the dictionary definition of terrorism but reflected a history of attempts by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups to terrorize African-Americans.“The first antiterrorism law in U.S. history was the Klan Control Act, so really, this has been the definition of terrorism,” William Jelani Cobb, a writer and director of the Africana Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut, said in a Twitter post.Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a venerable civil rights group, said the Charleston massacre looked like terrorism to him.“While the terrorist label is often applied to attacks, plots and conspiracies carried out on behalf of designated terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, politically motivated violence is not the sole domain of supporters of designated terrorist groups,” Mr. Foxman said in a statement.
Expect more dissembling from the right as it tries to dodge the consequences of its own rhetoric.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
On a less disturbing note - although it demonstrates how insane the Republican Party has become - the National Review (hardly a liberal outlet) is carrying a piece that utterly eviscerates Donald Trump and his narcissistic campaign circus. Reports now are out that trump paid actors $50 a piece to attend his so-called campaign announcement. Here are column highlights:
Donald Trump may be the man America needs. Having been through four bankruptcies, the ridiculous buffoon with the worst taste since Caligula is uniquely positioned to lead the most indebted organization in the history of the human race.The Trump conglomerate is the Argentina of limited-liability companies, having been in bankruptcy as recently as 2009. To be sure, a lot of companies went bankrupt around then. The Trump gang went bankrupt in 2004, too, and in 2001. Before that, Trump was in bankruptcy court back in 1991 when his Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City — the nation’s first casino-cum-strip-club, an aesthetic crime against humanity that is tacky by the standards of Atlantic City — turned out to be such a loser that Trump could not make his debt payments.
Donald Trump, being Donald Trump, announced his candidacy at Trump Plaza, making a weird grand entrance via escalator — going down, of course, the symbolism of which is lost on that witless ape. But who could witness that scene — the self-made man who started with nothing but a modest portfolio of 27,000 New York City properties acquired by his millionaire slumlord father, barely out of his latest bankruptcy and possibly headed for another one as the casino/jiggle-joint bearing his name sinks into the filthy mire of the one U.S. city that makes Las Vegas look respectable, a reality-television grotesque with his plastic-surgery-disaster wife, grunting like a baboon about our country’s “brand” and his own vast wealth — and not see the peerless sign of our times?
On the substance, Trump is — how to put it gently? Oh, why bother! — an ass. Not just an ass, but an ass of exceptionally intense asininity.
Trump’s is a fill-in-the-blanks agenda: He claims to have a plan for defeating ISIS, but he cannot say what it is for reasons of operational security for the mission that exists only in his mind. He assures us the plan is “foolproof,” but whoever coined that word had never met a fool like Donald Trump. Immigration? Build a wall and force the Mexicans to pay for it.
We’ve been to this corner of Crazytown before. If we’re going to have a billionaire dope running for the presidency, I prefer Ross Perot and his cracked tales of Vietnamese hit squads dispatched to take him out while Lee Atwater plotted to crash his daughter’s wedding with phonied-up lesbian sex pictures.
The problem with messiah complexes is that there’s no way to know whether you are going to rise on the third day unless somebody crucifies you. Trump has announced, and I say we get started on that.
If the above hasn't made you laugh enough, check out Cher's twitter comments on "The Donald" here.
As noted by Crooks and Liars, just two days ago the New York Times ran an article on the dangers of right wing terrorism in America. While Republicans and the GOP base obsess over the supposed threat of Muslim terror attacks, the real danger and far higher death toll comes from right wing terror attacks and mayhem. The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks hate groups and potential right wing terror groups which are all too plentiful (there were 784 active hate groups in the United States in 2014, 19 of which are based in South Carolina - 27 are based in Virginia). One has to wonder when the Republican Party will get its head out of its ass and wake up to the hate and bigotry that it is helping to foment. Here are excerpts from the New York Times piece:
If you keep up with the news, you know that a small but steady stream of American Muslims, radicalized by overseas extremists, are engaging in violence here in the United States.The Raw Story looks at 10 of the worse right wing terror attacks and begins with this introduction:
But headlines can mislead. The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists. Just ask the police.In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations. And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.[W]e found in follow-up interviews over the past year with counterterrorism specialists at 19 law enforcement agencies. These officers, selected from urban and rural areas around the country, said that radicalization from the Middle East was a concern, but not as dangerous as radicalization among right-wing extremists.An officer from a large metropolitan area said that “militias, neo-Nazis and sovereign citizens” are the biggest threat we face in regard to extremism.Last year, for example, a man who identified with the sovereign citizen movement — which claims not to recognize the authority of federal or local government — attacked a courthouse in Forsyth County, Ga., firing an assault rifle at police officers and trying to cover his approach with tear gas and smoke grenades. The suspect was killed by the police, who returned fire. In Nevada, anti-government militants reportedly walked up to and shot two police officers at a restaurant, then placed a “Don’t tread on me” flag on their bodies. An anti-government extremist in Pennsylvania was arrested on suspicion of shooting two state troopers, killing one of them, before leading authorities on a 48-day manhunt. A right-wing militant in Texas declared a “revolution” and was arrested on suspicion of attempting to rob an armored car in order to buy weapons and explosives and attack law enforcement. These individuals on the fringes of right-wing politics increasingly worry law enforcement officials.Since 2000, . . . . 25 law enforcement officers have been killed by right-wing extremists, who share a “fear that government will confiscate firearms” and a “belief in the approaching collapse of government and the economy.”[R]ight-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities, according to a study by Arie Perliger, a professor at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. The toll has increased since the study was released in 2012.Public debates on terrorism focus intensely on Muslims. But this focus does not square with the low number of plots in the United States by Muslims, and it does a disservice to a minority group that suffers from increasingly hostile public opinion. As state and local police agencies remind us, right-wing, anti-government extremism is the leading source of ideological violence in America.
When white males of the far right carry out violent attacks, neocons and Republicans typically describe them as lone-wolf extremists rather than people who are part of terrorist networks or well-organized terrorist movements. Yet many of the terrorist attacks in the United States have been carried out by people who had long histories of networking with other terrorists. In fact, most of the terrorist activity occurring in the United States in recent years has not come from Muslims, but from a combination of radical Christianists, white supremacists and far-right militia groups.