Donald Trump says he loves the troops. He says it over and over again. Someone ought to ask him if he loves this guy:
Private First Class Andres De Leon, 72, signed up for the U.S. Army to fight in Vietnam when he turned 18-years-old at a time many were trying to avoid the war. He served for 12 years and spent two full years overseas before being honorably discharged. Like many veterans, he suffers from depression, that spiraled out of control when his mother passed away. But unlike most veterans, his depression led to him being deported.
De Leon may have moved to Madera, California with his family legally when he was 12-years-old but he was deported when he became addicted to heroin to medicate his depression and was eventually arrested for possession. Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) lists this as a valid reason for deportation and three years into his sentence at Soledad State Prison, ICE came knocking.
By 2009, an immigration judge ordered De Leon back to Mexico where he hasn’t lived for over 50 years. He’s living in Tijuana today in a one room apartment after spending his first few weeks homeless and on the streets. With no friends or family and certainly no veterans benefits, his sister fears that his type-2 diabetes isn’t being taken care of.
“I got no choice,” he told a local TV station Fox40 back home. “I have to stay here but I’m doing the best I can.”
His story is sad enough and you would think that there aren’t many like him, but you’d be wrong. Once back in Mexico he met Hector Barajas, a former paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne who told De Leon there were dozens like them. In 2013, Barajas started a safe house for veterans from the United States that are deported to Mexico.
“We believe none of these men should be left behind,” he said. “We talk about supporting the troops, let’s keep supporting these men. Treat these men with honor.”
One in six veterans who served in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from a substance abuse issue. Those veterans who seek treatment for PTSD report alcohol-use disorders to the tune of 60 to 80 percent, according to the National Center for PTSD.
De Leon, Barajas and their friends are victims of cracks in a complicated system. Justice For Vets is an organization that works to help veterans that end up in the courts because of drug and alcohol abuse. They work with veteran treatment courts that require mandatory treatment and court appearances to help incentivize veterans to get clean and sober. But immigrants aren’t eligible if they break the law. They’re simply deported.
“I’ve been told the only way I can return is dead. So, if dead is the only way I can return, I would like to be buried with my friends in the Catholic Cemetery in Madera, California,” De Leon said.
“Why would they honor us only when we die? They’re going to give an American flag to our families and say, ‘Thank you for your service to your country,'” Barajas said. “If you want to honor our men, let them get their treatment. Let them live with their families.”
Everything about that is wrong. From Vietnam to the drug war to the immigration laws, this guy got it coming and going. There's no excuse for the US Government not taking care of him in his old age. None.
And while we're asking Trump about this, maybe we should ask all the other candidates about it too, including Sanders and Clinton. And President Obama too.
Ben Carson compared Ted Cruz's mea culpa for spreading rumors about his campaign to the "attitude" Hillary Clinton expressed after the Benghazi attacks, Buzzfeed reported.
Carson was asked by Todd Starnes on a podcast posted Thursday night about whether Cruz "handled himself as a Christian" in response to reports that the Cruz campaign circulated rumors among supporters the night of the Iowa caucus that Carson was suspending his campaign.
Carson took issue with Cruz failing to take what Carson called "corrective action."
"Not to take corrective action is tacitly saying it’s okay, or it’s sort of like, as Hillary Clinton said after Benghazi, ‘What difference does it make,'” Carson said.
Starnes followed-up with Carson on the comparison, to which Carson added, "I’m not saying that it rises to the level up Benghazi, I’m saying it’s the same kind of attitude."
He was leading or in second place for a good part of the primary season. He's still polling better than Bush, Kasich and Christie combined nationally.
A wooden cross and cowboy hat appeared on the side of a remote Oregon highway just days after Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was shot by a state police officer.
For weeks, Finicum was the public face of the armed occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, until his death marked the violent culmination of the standoff. Leaders of the occupation were arrested that day, and most of the people who hunkered down for nearly a month there trickled out as the FBI surrounded the compound.
The weeks-long standoff seemed to be winding down.
But rather than an end, the death of the Arizona rancher at the hands of state police has marked the continuation of a simmering anti-government movement that manifested in Oregon, and a rallying cry for a growing number of armed militias across the country.
Memorials for Finicum have since spread through social media. Facebook posts hail the rancher as a hero against government tyranny. Songs have been written about the Arizona rancher, and conspiracy theories about how his final encounter with police have swirled online after his death.
“The more radicalized individuals are going to look at Finicum as a martyr,” Robert Harris, a former case manager for the Federal Bureau of Prisons told BuzzFeed News.
I'm pretty sure this is exactly why all those guys did their suicide videos.
“He put things in plain English so that people could understand,” Jordan Page, a musician whose songs carry a strong political message of freedom, Second Amendment rights and limited government, told BuzzFeed News. “Whether you agreed with him or not, he lived a life based on principles.”
Hours after the shooting, Page wrote a song as a tribute to Finicum, called A Cowboy’s Stand For Freedom. He didn’t agree with the decision to take the refuge at first, but said he began to sympathize with their tactics when he learned more about their grievances on federal management of lands.
“Once I understood what they were trying to do I was more supportive,” Page said.
“He left his home to go and take a stand, his voice voice rang out across the deafening land,” he sings in a YouTube video shared more than 21,000 times. “In the end it was a bullet that exposed a lie. A truth remembered is a battle won, though his murder cannot be done.”
Page has viewed the video released by the FBI of the shooting, and like some, believes the use of force wasn’t justified.
“I think he was trying to draw the fire away from the truck because there were women and friends in the truck,” he said. “I think he probably knew it was his time”
Page doesn’t believe Finicum was reaching for a weapon, but instead grabbing a wound after being shot first. He also questions the FBI’s statement that Finicum reached for a gun on his left side, pointing out similar social media postings that the rancher wore a holster on his right side.
The FBI, however, states Finicum reached toward his left side at least twice before a state police officer fired. A video released by the agency seems to back up that claim.
“So many people in this country are distrustful of government, and scared of government, and that’s not the way it’s supposed to be,” Page said. “They’re supposed to be scared of us.”
“So many people in this country are distrustful of government, and scared of government”
After Finicum’s death, however, several militia leaders appeared to be doubling down on their efforts.
“I got pissed, in super capital letters,” Gary Hunt, of Operation Mutual Defense told BuzzFeed News. “I don’t know how many times they (law enforcement) said they wanted a peaceful solution.”
A network of regional militias, the group helps organize response to “assist patriots in the defense of lives, individual liberties and property.”
After the shooting, Hunt said he put out a call to militia members to flock to Harney County to support the remaining occupiers.
“Everybody said, ‘Yes, hell yes,’” he said. “There was an echo almost.”
Hunt decided to rescind the order when he realized the FBI was already surrounding the compound.
Still, he said similar standoffs are all but certain to continue to make sure Finicum’s life was not lost in vain.
He was actually armd and waving a gun around. You'd think these people who are so concerned about overzealous government authorities would be a little bit more concerned about them shooting unarmed black teenagers. But they don't appear to care about that. The Oath Keepers did show up in Ferguson. To protect the property owners.
GOP leaders in Washington, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), had grown increasingly concerned about how little Paul was raising for his Senate race while running for president. Paul raised just $156,000 for the reelection race at home in the third quarter, a paltry sum that would not be enough for a competitive House race.
They went to a lot of trouble in Kentucky to change the process so that Paul could run for president while also running for the Senate and now that he’s clearly going nowhere fast they would like to see him start to ding his supporters for money to keep himself in the job he already has. Undoubtedly, McConnell would like him to raise a few bucks for his fellow senators too. It’s bad enough that Cruz and Rubio are sucking the donors dry — and at least they have a chance to win the presidency.
There were many requiems for the Paul campaign yesterday and for good reason. There was a time when he was seen as the inevitable future of the Republican Party, a “different kind of Republican”who could appeal to “the youth” and bring a whole new constituency for what was assumed to be, for reasons never spelled out, an embrace of social liberalism and a return to isolationism among Republican voters. Where they got the idea that this philosophy transforming the GOP of 2015 remains a mystery.
Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress wrote one of the best “Rand, we hardly knew ye” pieces yesterday, in which he examined his strategy and explained something that many people may not have fully understood before. Despite his history of opposition to some of the most important civil rights laws in our history, including the Civil Rights Act itself, Paul was actually trying to recruit racial minorities to his side by offering a deal that nobody really understood on the left and nobody cared about on the right.
Millhiser describes it this way:
If you shrink the government, Paul promises, you will shrink the criminal justice system too. And Paul has offered more than simply rhetoric in support of his idea that less government is the solution #BlackLivesMatter is looking for. He’s also sponsored criminal justice reform legislation, including a bill that would restore voting rights to many people convicted of non-violent offenses.
Paul’s call for less overbearing police forces, however, comes at a high price — and not just to people of color who risk being excluded from hotels and lunch counters. In his speech praising the Buchanan decision, Paul also likened this case to another Supreme Court precedent that he would like to restore: the Court’s 1905 decision in Lochner v. New York.
Lochner is anti-precedent, a decision that is literally taught in law schools as an example of how judges should not behave. Relying on a fabricated “right to contract,” Lochner gave employers broad immunity from laws intended to protect workers from exploitation. The Lochner decision itself struck down a law limiting New York bakery workers to a 60 hour work week. Subsequent decisions applying this fabricated right invalidated minimum wage laws and laws protecting workers’ right to organize.
According to Paul, this is the way things should be.
Unsurprisingly, this bargain did not catch on with African-Americans or anyone else. It’s great that he would end the War on Drugs and support criminal justice reform. One hopes he continues to do so in the Senate if he wins reelection. But his desire to return to the antediluvian Lochner era, which allows businesses to exploit their workers at will and discriminate against anyone they choose is not an acceptable trade, particularly since no such trade is necessary. A decent society would simply end the War on Drugs and enact criminal justice reform while maintaining its commitment to workers; rights. This is not a zero sum game.
I wrote about Paul’s inevitable demise back in August when it was clear that he had bought into the Village hype about his presidential prospects and had thus decided to run as a hardcore Republican with a few eccentric quirks, rather than a principled libertarian. He was flogging the Planned Parenthood hoax videos as if they were proof of women’s inherent evil, and his alleged isolationism was nowhere to be found. He was being a regular old Republican “running to the right,” and it sunk him. Nobody’s quite sure where all his young male followers went but they sure didn’t show up for him.
Perhaps they recognized what Libertarian writer Justin Raimondo saw when he said,
“The “libertarian-ish” Senator from Kentucky is just another Ted Cruz, albeit less loud (and with less book sales) than the Canadian performance artist-cum-politician.”
The real Ted Cruz, as it happens, is doing quite well.
So Paul is now headed back to Kentucky, where he will be fighting to retain his seat against the mayor of Lexington, a self-financed gay millionaire, which should be fun.
The real question about Rand Paul is why so many political observers were convinced that he was leading a new Republican Party in the first place. Back in 2014, he was on the cover of Time magazine, touted as “The Most Interesting Man in Politics,” who has been embraced by his party because they realized that they would need to grapple with “emerging demographics, the young minorities, the urban shifting away from older generations and embracing of more libertarian views on privacy, drug sentencing and foreign intervention.” The New York Times Magazine published a piece by Robert Draper titled “Has the Libertarian Moment Finally Arrived?” in which he observed:
After eight years out of the White House, Republicans would seem well positioned to cast themselves as the fresh alternative, though perhaps only if the party first reappraises stances that young voters, in particular, regard as outdated. Emily Ekins, a pollster for the Reason Foundation, says: “Unlike with previous generations, we’re seeing a newer dimension emerge where they agree with Democrats on social issues, and on economic issues lean more to the right. It’s possible that Democrats will have to shift to the right on economic issues. But the Republicans will definitely have to move to the left on social issues. They just don’t have the numbers otherwise.” A G.O.P. more flexible on social issues might also appeal to another traditionally Democratic group with a libertarian tilt: the high-tech communities in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, whose mounting disdain for taxes, regulations and unions has become increasingly dissonant with their voting habits…
The party went in a different direction, to say the least. Their “fresh alternative” is a white nationalist billionaire. And his strongest competitors are hardcore social and economic conservatives of the kind who have populated the right wing of the party for decades. The libertarian moment, if it ever existed, turned out to be fleeting indeed.
And that’s really because there just aren’t very many libertarians out there. This Pew Poll from 2014 found that only 11 percent of Americans are libertarians. And the young millennials the libertarian moment was supposed to produce for the GOP turn out to be much more interested in the socialism of Bernie Sanders.
According to Michael Lind, Milton Friedman’s grandson Patri, reluctantly accepting that libertarians are such a small minority, has tapped billionaire Peter Thiel to fund something called the Seasteading Institute to create city-states at sea that could be colonized by libertarians running from the horrors of reasonable taxation. Apparently, this is just the latest on a long line of failed efforts over the course of many decades to create “Liberland,” a utopia somewhere in the world outside of existing governments.
If Donald Trump or Ted Cruz somehow make it to the White House, Liberland may end up dealing with a refugee crisis of its own. Libertarian exiles won’t be the only ones looking for a sanctuary.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren brushed off liberal efforts last year to get her to run for president in 2016. It is not hard to guess why. For one, she is smart enough to know that at this point she lacks the depth — especially in foreign policy — to do the job well. (After a quarter century in Congress, Bernie Sanders struggled with foreign policy in the Democratic debate last night.) Second, if she stays in the Senate, Warren can be a thorn in the side of all the right people as an advocate for working Americans for a couple of decades. It's what she does. She's very good at it. And it's fun watching Elizabeth Warren do what she is so good at.
In an interview with The Nation, Warren spoke again about the "rigged game" in Washington. In particular, the bipartisan effort to reform sentencing laws that some Republicans are using the bill as a means of protecting corporate criminals from even the nearly nonexistent prosecutions to which they are now exposed. On the floor of the Senate, Warren said,
[F]or these Republicans, the price of helping out people unjustly locked up in jail for years will be to make it even harder to lock up a white-collar criminal for even a single day. That is shameful, shameful. It’s shameful because we’re already way too easy on corporate lawbreakers.
“The Republicans think no one is looking right now, that all of the public attention is somewhere else, and that this is a chance to try to slip through an amendment to make it harder to prosecute white-collar criminals,” she said. “It’s like you can’t make this stuff up, right? The idea that the Republicans are trying to gut one of the main laws to prevent bank fraud—that’s their response to the 2008 financial crisis.”
Warren said she also believes the Republicans have overreached, and are inviting a serious public blowback during a crucial political year. “If the Republicans succeed in further undercutting the laws to hold big banks accountable, I think it will become a major issue by next November.”
Warren released a report last week detailing 20 cases where federal prosecutors caught big companies violating the law, but imposed only modest fines and did not require the offending corporations to admit guilt.
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was feeling the heat enough to say Bernie Sanders represents a “dangerous moment” in American history. Sanders has called out Blankfein by name, and his company "a poster child for the greed and recklessness he says is endemic in finance," according to The Hill. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders called out the Koch brothers repeatedly in the Democratic debate last night. Blankfein apparently doesn't have the same stomach for the public heat that the Kochs do.
You can watch Elizabeth Warren's recent Senate speech below.
Last Fall, Cruz appeared in Iowa alongside a pastor who has called for the government to use the death penalty to punish homosexuality. Not stung from the criticism he received for courting the radical pastor, Kevin Swanson, Cruz he later released a statement touting the support of an anti-abortion extremist, Troy Newman, who has said that a just government would punish abortion providers with death. Again facing criticism, Cruz doubled down and appointed Newman co-chair of his “pro-life coalition.”
As it turned out, Newman was just one of the first of many extremists whose support has been touted by Cruz’s campaign.
Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT hate group, helped coalesce Religious Right support behind Cruz and campaigned with the senator in Iowa. Cruz apparently sees it as helpful to campaign alongside Perkins, who has defended Uganda’s “kill-the-gays” bill and claimed that gay rights advocates are pawns of the Devil.
Perkins joined Cruz on the trail in Iowa along with Glenn Beck, the conspiracy theory radio host; David Barton, the right-wing pseudo-historian who heads one of the leading pro-Cruz super PACs and who, like Beck, has declared Cruz to be God’s answer to his prayers; reality TV star Phil Robertson, notorious for making bigoted remarks; James Dobson, the anti-gay radio personality who founded Focus on the Family; Rep. Steve King, the congressman known for his anti-gay and anti-immigrant tirades; Bob Vander Plaats, the Iowa political organizer who describes homosexuality as a “public health risk” similar to smoking; and far-right radio broadcaster Steve Deace.
Other endorsers touted by the Cruz campaign have included North Carolina activists who have referred to gay people as Satan’s minions; a North Carolina pastor who has likened gay people to “maggots” and linked them to Ebola; an Oklahoma preacher who warns that homosexuality is part of a demonic communist conspiracy to bring down America; a Virginia radio host who has blamed gays for everything from terrorism to train derailments; and a Virginia lawmaker who has sponsored an assortment of bizarre anti-gay bills.
Most recently, Cruz welcomed the endorsement of Mike Bickle, the leader of a church that many have criticized for using cult-like practices, who has referred to Oprah Winfrey as a harbinger of the Antichrist, called gay rights as a Satanic plot that will usher in the End Times, and explained that Adolf Hitler was raised up by God to be a “hunter” of Jews.
Cruz’s decision to tout such radical activists — not to mention his own extreme policy positions, such as promising to defy the Supreme Court on marriage equality and abortion rights — is no accident, as he is basing his campaign strategy on the hope that he can motivate tens of millions of conservative evangelicals to go to the polls.
And he's out there trying to scare monger about Trump and the nuclear button. He's the one who's trying to bring on the rapture ...
State Department officials have determined that classified information was sent to the personal email accounts of former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the senior staff of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, NBC News has learned.
In an interview with NBC News, Powell challenged the conclusion, saying nothing that went to his personal account was secret. A Rice spokeswoman said the emails were about diplomatic communications.
In a letter to Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy dated Feb. 3, State Department Inspector General Steve Linick said that the State Department has determined that 12 emails examined from State's archives contained national security information now classified "Secret" or "Confidential." The letter was obtained by NBC News.
Two of the messages were sent to Powell's personal account, and 10 were sent to personal accounts of Rice's senior aides, the letter said.
None of the messages were marked classified when originally sent, and none were determined to include information from the intelligence community, Linick said in the document.
Powell told NBC News he strongly disputed that the information in the messages sent to him was classified, and characterized the contents as "fairly minor."
"I wish they would release them," Powell said, "so that a normal, air-breathing mammal would look at them and say, 'What's the issue?'"
Powell said he has read the two messages in question, having been made aware of the letter. The messages originated with ambassadors -- one in the Philippines, the other in Europe. He said they were first circulated on unclassified State Department systems, and sent to his personal account by his assistant.
"They were unclassified at the time, and they are, in my judgment, still unclassified," he said.
Huh. I'll bet Clinton would sign on to that as well.
Powell, who served as secretary from 2001 to 2005, said he used a personal email account because State's email system was slow and cumbersome. Powell is credited with modernizing State's computer infrastructure, which did not at the time allow each employee to have the internet at their desks.
"State's system at the time was inadequate," he said.
But, he added, "I did not use my email account for any classified matters because I had a classified computer on my desk."
So did Clinton, in case you were wondering. And she used it.
Rice, now a professor at Stanford University, was unavailable for comment, said her chief of staff, Georgia Godfrey.
"She did not use email as secretary nor use a personal email account," Godfey said via email. "My understanding is that the report is in reference to emails sent to her assistant reporting diplomatic conversations and they contained no intelligence information."
Linick's letter said his initial findings suggest there could be a lot more classified material in State's unclassified archives. He recommended that State take steps to find and remove it.
This is one of the stories that's been ignored in this whole mess. Powell destroyed all the emails from his personal email address on the assumption that all official business had been captured by the State Department. If these congress people who are now supposedly so concerned about security are to do proper oversight, they can have the State Department go through all of the Powell emails in their system and have them made public too. You know, for the sake of transparency.
“Oh, illegal immigrants are the backbone of our country? I don’t think so, darling,” I don’t think so. I don’t think so. No, I don’t think so. They’re not the backbone.
“Let me just tell you something. Let me just tell you something. You know what the backbone of our country [is]? People that came here, and they came here legally — people that came here to this country legally, and they worked their ass off, and they made this country great.”
He's taken to calling people darling on the stump I've noticed. It's got a little Liberace vibe about it.
For the record, migration back and forth over the southern border has been happening throughout our history with plenty of people from Mexico and other parts of Latin America participating in every single aspect of building America to what it is today. "Legality" had nothing to do with it. It didn't even exist until the 20th century.
First dubbing Rubio “the boy in the bubble” Tuesday morning, Christie has issued a series of critiques on Rubio and accused him of ducking the media’s questions and sticking to closely choreographed stump speeches.
Chris Christie Promises New Hampshire He'll 'Be Like Gum on the Bottom of Your Shoe'
Chris Christie Expects to 'Over-Perform' in Iowa Compared to Polls
“This isn’t the student council election, everybody. This is an election for President of the United States. Let’s get the boy out of the bubble, and let’s see if he’s ready to play next week in New Hampshire, I’m ready to play,” Christie told reporters Tuesday.
And so began a series of insults delivered in rapid-fire succession against Rubio, by which Christie has sought to drive home his case for why the first-term U.S. senator is “simply not ready to be president.”
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” Christie said Wednesday morning, warning the outcome of a Republican first-term senator in the Oval Office will be no different in practical terms than the last seven years of an Obama administration.
By early afternoon on Wednesday, Christie had accused Rubio of having left “no footprint” of accomplishment in the U.S. Senate.
“I would challenge anyone to show me the significant accomplishment that Sen. Rubio has done while he is in the United States Senate; I can’t find one,” Christie said at a news conference after accepting the endorsement of the New Hampshire Speaker of the House.
During the same news conference, Christie called Rubio “the master of the drive-by town hall” for meetings that run shorter in length compared to Christie's typical two-hour-long town hall and quipped that “every day is Groundhog Day for the Rubio campaign," with Rubio sticking to scripted remarks.
On Wednesday evening, Christie told Fox News that Rubio “acts like the king of England” and compared his campaign strategy to a witness protection program.
Defending his attacks on Rubio in an interview on ABC News' “Good Morning America” this morning, Christie said “Marco can say whatever he wants about that but this is his experience or lack thereof."
"He just doesn't have any experience, George,” Christie told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.
While the polling puts Rubio steadily ahead of Christie heading into Tuesday’s primary, Christie’s offensive comes as Christie tries to make the case that New Hampshire primary is a two-man race between he and Rubio.
“This New Hampshire primary is now down to a choice between me and Marco Rubio, and everybody knows it,” Christie said Wednesday. “Sen. Rubio knows it. I know it. That’s why he is engaged with me and why I am engaged with him.”
Christie was, after all, going to be the Northeastern mook in the race before Trump and along and stole his thunder.
You will be tempted to feel sorry for Jeb! after watching this clip. It is a pathetic moment. But don't. He is the man who ruthlessly guided the election apparatus of his state to steal the election in 2000 for his brother. And we know what happened:
This happened too:
Sitting recently on his brick back patio here, Michael Schiavo called Jeb Bush a vindictive, untrustworthy coward.
For years, the self-described “average Joe” felt harassed, targeted and tormented by the most important person in the state.
“It was a living hell,” he said, “and I blame him.”
Michael Schiavo was the husband of Terri Schiavo, the brain-dead woman from the Tampa Bay area who ended up at the center of one of the most contentious, drawn-out conflicts in the history of America’s culture wars. The fight over her death lasted almost a decade. It started as a private legal back-and-forth between her husband and her parents. Before it ended, it moved from circuit courts to district courts to state courts to federal courts, to the U.S. Supreme Court, from the state legislature in Tallahassee to Congress in Washington. The president got involved. So did the pope.
But it never would have become what it became if not for the dogged intervention of the governor of Florida at the time, the second son of the 41st president, the younger brother of the 43rd, the man who sits near the top of the extended early list of likely 2016 Republican presidential candidates. On sustained, concentrated display, seen in thousands of pages of court records and hundreds of emails he sent, was Jeb the converted Catholic, Jeb the pro-life conservative, Jeb the hands-on workaholic, Jeb the all-hours emailer—confident, competitive, powerful, obstinate Jeb. Longtime watchers of John Ellis Bush say what he did throughout the Terri Schiavo case demonstrates how he would operate in the Oval Office. They say it’s the Jebbest thing Jeb’s ever done.
So yes, he looks like a sad sack as he continues his flaccid campaign to nowhere. But don't feel too sorry. The country has dodged a big bullet. Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of other ones still coming at us.
Sure sounds like it to me. I'll made a longer deal of this later, but just the basics are stunning (my emphasis):
Sanders Vows to Reject Job-Killing Trade Deal
... “As your president, not only will I make sure that the TPP does not get implemented, I will not send any trade deal to Congress that will make it easier for corporations to outsource American jobs overseas,” Sanders said.
UPDATE: The "longer deal" I made of this story is posted here. Seems like NAFTA is similarly vulnerable to a President Sanders. Will he take that opportunity too?
(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. If you'd like to help out, go here; you can adjust the split any way you like at the link. If you'd like to "phone-bank for Bernie," go here. You can volunteer in other ways by going here. And thanks!)
As some day it may happen that a scapegoat must be found, they've got a little list. The investigations into the poisoning of Flint, Michigan are only just beginning. The FBI is now involved:
WASHINGTON — Government officials tangled on Wednesday over who was to blame for the crisis in Flint, Michigan, that allowed lead-contaminated water to flow to thousands of residents at a combative congressional hearing that devolved into a partisan fight over witnesses and no-shows.
"A failure of epic proportions," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at the first Capitol Hill hearing since the crisis in Flint emerged last year.
Flint's former state-appointed emergency manager, Darnell Earley, was a no show. He refused a federal subpoena claiming there was too short a notice for him to appear in Washington. The Detroit Free Press reports:
As the hearing before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee got underway on Wednesday, its chairman, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said he'd turn to federal marshals, if necessary, "to hunt him down" and serve the subpoena on Earley, garnering cheers in the packed hearing room.
Earley was state-appointed financial manager in Flint when it switched its water supply to the Flint River in 2014 as a temporary cost-cutting move. Because that water was not treated with corrosion control, the more corrosive river water leached lead from old pipes into residents' taps.
It's not just the water that smells. Charlie Pierce thinks he sniffs "a bag job in utero, seeking to pin responsibility for the crimes in Flint on the federal Environmental Protection Agency." For my money, the early favorite for fall guy is actually named Earley.
The New York Times Editorial Board weighs in this morning on Michigan's use of emergency managers to circumvent democratically elected leadership:
The emergency managers in Flint and Detroit schools went in as dictators, and it is not surprising they made glaring mistakes, while ignoring complaints and suggestions from the communities they were supposedly helping. Unlike the financial control boards in New York and Washington, which included people who had a stake in those cities, Michigan’s emergency managers answer only to the governor and the Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, who tend to be elected from suburban and largely white parts of the state.
Poor, disenfranchised communities make such easy prey and convenient scapegoats. Don't be surprised to see Fox News and the Right Wing Noise machine go "Lower Ninth Ward" once again on the city of Flint.
So President Obama visited a mosque today and delivered a beautiful speech about pluralism and tolerance and what it means to be American.
The right, predictably, went crazy. But their main objection seemed somewhat odd. See if you can discern why I might think that:
President Obama met behind closed doors on Wednesday with 13 Muslim leaders at a Baltimore mosque with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. And, according to a White House pool report, one of the participants is the Islamic Society of Baltimore’s anti-gay resident scholar, Imam Yaseen Shaikh.
Obama’s short trip to the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) marks his first visit to a U.S. mosque since taking office. After the meeting Obama spoke to congregants at the mosque, which he said “like so many in this country, is an All-American story.”
Introduced by ISB’s president, Muhammad Jameel, who in 2014 accused Israel of engaging in “genocide” against Palestine, praised the mosque for its inter-faith outreach efforts. He also praised the mosque’s school, “where teachers open young minds.”
But ISB’s schools, the Al-Rahma School and Qur’an Academy, are led by Imam Shaikh, a British citizen who formerly served as imam in Plano, Tex., who has said that Islam is adamantly opposed to homosexuality.
A 2013 YouTube video uncovered by The Daily Caller also shows Shaikh lamenting that gay rights activists have “hijacked” the political system to further their agenda. (RELATED: The US Mosque Obama Has Chosen For His First Visit Has Deep Extremist Ties)
“This whole subject of homosexuality in the public sphere…is no longer a religious issue, unfortunately, as much as we want to use the religious card and try to defeat this, now it’s become a politicized issue,” Shaikh said in the hour-long sermon.
“Politicians are highly influenced by people who back them, and we find that these politicians who are calling for gay rights and marriage and supporting gay rights are lobbied and campaigned by gay activists, by gay groups. And they are throwing money at it left and right to gain some acceptance in society, to be considered normal people, to be treated normally.”
Shaikh also warned that children must be taught that homosexuality is “not okay.”
“We have to counter the efforts that are taking place elsewhere,” Shaikh says in the video, adding that “if our children are taught that [homosexuality is] okay, we have to teach them it’s not okay.”
That's from Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller which appears to be very upset about this anti-gay cleric.
EARLIER this month, in Des Moines, the prominent home-schooling advocate and pastor Kevin Swanson again called for the punishment of homosexuality by death. To be clear, he added that the time for eliminating America’s gay population was “not yet” at hand. We must wait for the nation to embrace the one true religion, he suggested, and gay people must be allowed to repent and convert.
Mr. Swanson proposed this at the National Religious Liberties Conference, an event he organized. Featured speakers included three Republican contenders for the presidency: the former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
A cursory search of google will turn up dozens and dozens of instances of right wing politicians embracing anti-gay pastors and priests. But that's totally different.
This is the guy who will "Make America Great Again"?
This story about Trump's half-assed, underfunded, lame operation in Iowa says more about him than any analysis I've seen. He didn't want to spend money and he believed that his celebrity would automatically make people come out and caucus for him. He doesn't have a clue. The man doesn't think he politics is any different than getting TV ratings. He is wrong.
Trump's staff “got outclassed and outmaneuvered ― the Iowa team simply didn’t have the tools they needed, which is why they overpromised and underperformed,” said a source close to the Trump campaign. “The Iowa team did an amazing job with the tools that they had, but that’s like saying that Al Qaeda did an amazing job in a battle with the U.S. Army because some Al Qaeda fighters didn’t get killed.”
On the ground in Iowa last month, Trump’s operation showed signs of disorganization and acrimony as it faced mounting doubts about its ability to identify and mobilize its high numbers of previously disengaged supporters and to persuade more traditional, but undecided, Republicans to caucus for Trump.
And some Trump allies were openly expressing doubts about the largely self-funding Trump’s willingness to pay for data analytics, as well as the aptitude of the campaign’s skeletal data team back in New York headquarters. It is headed by Matt Braynard and Witold Chrabaszcz, a pair of former data engineers for the Republican National Committee who lacked high-level national campaign experience. With less than a month to go until the caucuses, sources say, Braynard was still working to assemble a team to do what he described as a combination of high-level statistical analyses and “unglamorous political grunt work.” When one experienced data engineer asked when he could start working for the Trump campaign, Braynard immediately responded: “Now.”
The campaign didn’t start seriously building a data operation to target voters until mid-October, sources said, and even then it did not act with urgency. It waited until November to begin paying a data vendor, the nonpartisan firm L2, and until late November or early December to sign an agreement allowing it to use the RNC’s massive voter file. The RNC had initially offered the arrangement back in June, and it's unclear what caused the delay in executing the agreement, but most other GOP campaigns signed similar agreements months before Trump.
At one point early in the campaign, Trump representatives talked to Cambridge Analytica ― the firm now being credited with engineering Cruz’s cutting-edge targeting operation ― about retaining the company’s services, but they decided it was too expensive. And, in early October, Trump’s Virginia state director, Mike Rubino, reached out to the nonpartisan voter data firm rVotes, writing in an email “We want to utilize this ASAP.” Steve Adler, rVotes' owner, said the Trump campaign never followed up.
Through the end of last year, the period covered by the most recent Federal Election Commission filings, Trump’s campaign had spent only about $560,000 on data-related costs, compared with at least $3.6 million for Cruz. Trump's data outlays included $235,000 to L2 for “research consulting," $17,500 to the voter data firm NationBuilder for software, and $200,000 in list rental payments to the conservative Newsmax Media. By contrast, the Trump campaign has spent at least $1.4 million on rally-related expenses and $1.2 million on hats ― presumably mostly for the now-iconic hats bearing Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
The campaign's lackadaisical data effort is seen in some quarters as coming down to Trump's lack of willingness to use his own cash on something that’s seen as essential in modern-day presidential politics. “Trump’s a businessman,” said Joe Rospars, who served as a chief digital strategist to President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. “He’s not going to spend any more money than he has to, and he made his bet.”
And we're just talking about Iowa. Imagine him at the helm of the the most powerful nation in the world.
Ted Cruz said today that he might nuke Denmark. (He didn't offer his preferred method of taking out Denmark --- carpet bombing.) But the fact is that this billionaire megalomaniac who is making all these grandiose impossible promises doesn't know what he's doing. And apparently he refuses to shake loose some of his pocket change to pay people who do.
Maybe he'll right the ship. He's not known to be stupid so perhaps he'll start spending some of those millions and get it together. But he doesn't seem like the type to admit he's wrong and re-evaluate his strategy. After his past failures he just shifted his business from real estate and casinos to branding and reality TV and he made a lot of money doing that. But this is not the same thing. He's going to have to deliver. And there's little in his background that says he actually knows how to do that.
The GOP presidential campaign has now shifted away from the heartland evangelical wonderland of Iowa to “live free or die” state, New Hampshire, where the elbows are notoriously sharp and a whole bunch of Republican establishment candidates are hunkering down to stage their last stand. It remains unlikely that any of them will be able to dislodge Trump in the number one slot — it’s much more his kind of electorate than the pious social conservatives of Iowa. There are lots of angry white right-wingers and independents there who aren’t as concerned about their religion as they are about their guns and the threat of Mexicans and Muslims “pouring over the border” to make them eat mole and follow Sharia law.
But after Iowa there a feeling of excitement in the air that the Trump balloon may have finally burst, and there’s a possibility that the air could go completely out of it over the next couple of weeks. (Nate Silver mused yesterday that Trump may just end up being like Pat Buchanan or Ron Paul.) One suspects that all the other candidates are having fever dreams about making a big last-minute move as Rubio did in Iowa to either usurp The Donald or come in a close second and be touted as this cycle’s Comeback Kid. Cruz and Rubio are, of course, the two best positioned to do this, with Rubio probably a little bit better positioned than Cruz simply because he isn’t quite as dependent on evangelical voters, even though he turned himself into the second coming of Oral Roberts in the last couple of weeks to get himself a slice of that Iowa evangelical pie.
Yesterday morning, the campaigns wasted no time with niceties, as Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich were practically waiting on the tarmac for the Iowa Three to alight from their private planes to begin the battle, mano a mano. So far they seem to be sticking with the “Trump will implode eventually” strategy and are setting their sights on one another. As is his wont, Chris Christie was the first to deliver a roundhouse punch to the man who came in third in Iowa but was declared the winner, Marco Rubio:
“Let’s get him up here – let’s get the boy in the bubble up here. Let’s see if he’ll handle your questions and take that. I don’t think he will. Now it’s time for him to man up and step up and stop letting his handlers write all of his speeches. I’m fascinated to hear his answers, and I’m sure you are too.
“Maybe he’ll answer more than two or three questions at a town hall and do more than 40 minutes and deliver something that isn’t the same canned speech he gives every time. This isn’t the student-council election everybody. This is the election for the president of the United States.
“Let’s get the boy in his bubble out of his bubble, and let’s see him play for the next week in New Hampshire. Let’s see if he’s ready to play because I’m ready to play.”
It’s pretty clear what Christie’s saying there: Rubio’s a punk. Rubio’s campaign manager responded by calling Christie a liberal Obama lover who’s full of “hot air,” which undoubtedly made him feel very sad.
Jeb Bush meanwhile is facing a different problem: too much campaign spending on his behalf. It sounds weird, but according to this Washington Post story, Bush’s Super PAC is inundating people with expensive campaign swag to the point where it’s making them recoil from the candidate.This has happened before. In California, eBay magnate and GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman saturated the state with advertisements for many months, and it made people hate her. There is such a thing as too much exposure. (It’s worth noting that Whitman had an unusual business arrangement with strategist Mike Murphy — the same Mike Murphy who runs Bush’s Right to Rise Super PAC.)
Meanwhile, after his Super PAC ran a very unpopular negative ad against Marco Rubio and he asked them to take it down, Governor John Kasich (who is seen as a possible New Hampshire latecomer) seems to have decided that he’s going to run as the positive, optimistic guy. It makes sense since there might be a few people in New Hampshire who aren’t convinced that their country is the dark and hopeless dystopian hell-scape the other candidates insist America has become.
And then there’s Rubio, who is telling everyone who will listen that he’s the only one who can “unite both the Republican Party and the conservative movement after what has been a divisive campaign.” He seems to think if he says it enough it will be true. And a lot of Republicans in D.C. are probably hoping he’s right.
Unfortunately, he and Cruz might share the same problem in the general election. This Kasich voter gets right to the point:
Rubio and Cruz “really are too conservative, and I don’t really see them as compromisers,” said Judy Kohn, a 76-year-old retired librarian from Georges, New Hampshire.
Nobody is surprised that someone might think Ted Cruz is too conservative. But that nice young man Rubio? Well yes, as it happens, he’s just as right wing as Cruz. Sure, he joined the Gang of 8 to try to forge some compromise on immigration but that’s the only compromise he’s ever endorsed. It’s too bad for him that happens to be a litmus test issue on the right (and one which I’m not sure they can forgive).
”I like Marco but he has now turned hard right. Marco has no exception for rape and incest. I think it’s going to be very hard to grow the party among women if you’re gonna tell young women, ‘If you get raped, you’re gotta carry the child of the rapist.’”
“These programs actually weakened us as a people. You see, almost forever, it was institutions in society that assumed the role of taking care of one another…All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job.”
It’s rare to hear even a far right wing zealot or hardcore libertarian suggest that Social Security and Medicare have “weakened us as a people.” The farthest they will usually go is to suggest that the program should be privatized. That’s a scathing indictment of our national character.
I can't imagine Santorum will be relevant in any way going forward so this will be the last time I'll be able to post this wonderful video:
And this one too:
I will miss him so ...
The question is to hom Santorum is going to throw his 12 supporters. I'd guess Trump. If you read the lyrics to "Game On" except for the "faithful to his wife and 7 kids" line, it's a Trumpian ode to making America great again ---"The first time since we had Ronald Reagan."
A little historical reminder for some people who may not remember
I've been hearing some chatter about Citizens United lately among progressives who seem to think that Hillary Clinton backed the law that gutted the campaign finance regulations that had been in place. There is a grave misunderstanding there that needs to be cleared up. Whatever you may think of Clinton the idea that she backed Citizens United is patently absurd.
Here's the Wikipedia entry on the case:
Hillary: The Movie is a 2008 political documentary about United States Senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. It was produced by Citizens United. The film was scheduled to be offered as video-on-demand on cable TV right before the Democratic primaries in January 2008, but the federal government blocked it. The blocking of the film's airing was the subject of the court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The documentary interviewed various conservative figures such as Dick Morris and Ann Coulter and reviewed various scandals in which Hillary Clinton participated in, such as the White House travel office controversy, White House FBI files controversy, Whitewater controversy, and cattle future controversy.
In early 2008, the case, known as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, was brought to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. This court sided with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that Hillary: The Movie could not be shown on television right before the 2008 Democratic primaries under the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.
The Supreme Court docketed this case on August 18, 2008, and heard oral arguments on March 24, 2009. A decision was expected sometime in the early summer months of 2009. However, on June 29, 2009, the Supreme Court issued an order directing the parties to re-argue the case on September 9 after issuing briefs on larger issues. The court ruled 5-4 in 2010 that spending limits in the McCain-Feingold act were unconstitutional, allowing essentially unlimited contributions by corporations and unions to political action committees.
Here's a thing I wrote about the background of this for Salon a while back:
You have to wonder how many people in America, even those who are well informed, make the connection between the notorious Supreme Court decision that unleashed unprecedented campaign spending and the slimy political assassination outfit called Citizens United that brought the case? It’s not that people of low character have never succeeded in winning Supreme Court cases before. But it’s difficult to find a group with less integrity than this one.
You may recall that the case itself was about a film called “Hillary: the Movie,” which was produced by Citizens United in anticipation of the 2008 election and which the FEC ruled was not a movie at all but rather a 90-minute campaign commercial that was “susceptible of no other interpretation than to inform the electorate that Senator Clinton is unfit for office, that the United States would be a dangerous place in a President Hillary Clinton world, and that viewers should vote against her.” This designation as an advertisement ran afoul of elements of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation and Theodore Olson, Citizens United’s attorney, filed a case against the FEC claiming its First Amendment rights had been violated. And the rest is history.
What many people may not know, however, is the history of Citizens United. It goes all the way back to the 1980s when it was created by the notorious hatchet man from Arkansas, Floyd Brown of Willie Horton fame. In 1992, in anticipation of a flood of juicy opportunities for character assassination of fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton, he brought on David Bossie, a young and ambitious GOP operative. Their joint effort was a massive and instant success with the media, which used it as a major “source” for years. As early as 1994 some media critics were concerned about the group’s allure among the press corps. Trudy Lieberman wrote an exposé of the group called “Churning Whitewater” for the Columbia Journalism Review, although nobody in the mainstream media seemed particularly concerned.
Lieberman described the scene this way:
In a cluttered office tucked away in one of the many red-brick office condominiums that ring Washington, D.C., David Bossie, source par excellence to journalists dredging the Whitewater swamp, handles one of the eighteen calls he says he gets each hour. This one is from Bruce Ingersoll, a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal. The discussion centers on bonds. “I have a whole file on bond transactions,” Bossie tells Ingersoll. “I will get a report on what I find. I know you are trying to move quickly on this. You want to come out before they come out.” A few minutes later Bossie says, “I don’t know what I have to give you,” but promises to spend the next couple of hours going through materials. “You’re on deadline, I understand that.” He then points Ingersoll in another direction. “Have you done anything on Beverly? [Presumably that is Beverly Bassett Schaffer, former Arkansas Securities Commissioner.] You guys ought to look into that. There will be lawsuits against the Rose law firm,” he adds.
“Lot 7,” Bossie tells me between calls, is the next big story. “ABC and U.S. News & World Report are looking at Lot 7. We’re the only ones that have the abstract. Wade [Chris Wade, a real estate agent who sold some of the Whitewater lots] dumped the property and got something from the Clintons.”
The phone rings again. Bossie addresses the caller as “Judge.” “That judge who called,” Bossie explains later, “called me in August and said he had a friend, [another judge named] David Hale, who was in trouble because of Bill Clinton.” It was this phone call and the charges that Hale later made through Bossie’s organization, Citizens United, that fueled David Bossie’s zealous investigation into Whitewater. Bossie’s efforts have, in turn, generated daily page-one headlines and another chapter in the saga of American pack journalism. “I’m the information bank,” he says.
The dreadful performance of the press in that era was fully exposed in the book ”The Hunting of the President” by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons and Lyons’ earlier “Fools for Scandal.” (If you are a young person who is unfamiliar with the moldy details, these are the books you’ll need to read to get up to speed before the next election.) The media claque was dazzled by the gothic and byzantine world of small state politics and there were, as usual, plenty of con artists and grifters ready to feed them exactly the kind of lurid tales that would appeal to their big city imaginations. Citizens United became a clearinghouse for all this shady material, alternating between spoon feeding enticing tidbits to the press and dumping vast amounts of incomprehensible material that sounded bad but ended up being misleading at best when the facts were untangled. This was the essence of ’90s-style “smell test” politics in which many people observed the sheer volume of complicated accusations, threw up their hands and assumed that where there’s this much smoke there must be a fire somewhere.
But David Bossie didn’t stop there. He was a major player in a later scandal of his own when he moved up the conservative ladder to serve as the chief investigator for congressman Dan “watermelon man” Burton and was eventually forced to resign in disgrace. The Washington Post reported on his sordid denouement in May of 1998:
The chairman of the House investigation into Clinton-Gore campaign financing abuses apologized to fellow Republicans yesterday for the uproar over his release of transcripts of Webster L. Hubbell’s prison conversations and removed his chief investigator under pressure from House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The move came as Gingrich sought to contain the damage, condemning “the circus” that took place within Indiana Republican Dan Burton’s Government Oversight and Reform Committee and scolding Burton at a closed Republican Conference meeting for refusing to say that he was embarrassed by the episode…
His hard-driving chief investigator, David Bossie, submitted a letter of resignation later in the day, saying that he wanted to blunt the “unjustified attacks” coming from House Democrats and the White House.
The editing and release of the Hubbell tapes, subpoenaed by the committee last year, was described by one insider as a “Dave Bossie project,” opposed by the panel’s chief counsel and other committee staffers but ultimately approved by Burton.
In meetings this week, Gingrich and other leaders have voiced their concerns over Burton’s staff. While Burton defended his senior investigator publicly and said Bossie was leaving of his own accord, Gingrich told the conference yesterday that Bossie, who had survived repeated previous attempts, had been fired.
When even Newt Gingrich thinks you’re beyond the pale, you are beyond the pale. But this is the GOP we’re talking about and its practitioners of the dark art of character assassination have more lives than a feral cat. Within a year Bossie was given the Ronald Reagan Award by the Conservative Political Action Conference for his “outstanding achievements and selfless contributions to the conservative movement” and was soon after merrily pimping conspiracy stories and cultivating his fan base in the press corps. By 2004 he was all over television talking about his lawsuit against Michael Moore, with the Federal Election commission claiming that Moore’s film “Fahrenheit 451″ violated campaign finance laws. Yes, that was the same David Bossie whose organization Citizens United just four years later made “Hillary: the Movie” into a crusade that ended up leaving the campaign finance system in tatters. You can’t make this stuff up.
Charles Pierce caught up with him at the 2012 Republican convention where he was the toast of the hall and described Bossie’s new state of grace: He “has had his life’s work blessed through the incredible naivete of Justice Anthony Kennedy by the highest court in this land. He is sanctified by it. His entire career has been made pure.” It was the highlight of a long, illustrious career of dirty tricks and hatchet jobs.
So what’s Bossie up to these days, you wonder? Well, he’s turned up in Colorado with a new film made in tandem with another longtime conservative operative Michelle Malkin about the leftist billionaires who have turned the state into a dystopian hellhole crawling with gun-grabbing potheads who are trying to destroy the energy industry. And, needless to say, once more Citizens United stands accused of selectively editing interviews to deceive the audience and give the opposite impression of what the subject actually meant.
David Bossie told Charles Pierce back in 2012:
“I think your career has different chapters. Before the Supreme Court was a chapter. Just leading Citizens United. Post-the Supreme Court decision is a different chapter. My time on Capitol Hill as an investigator was a chapter. My time as a fireman living in a firehouse was a chapter. So, you know, everybody has a chapters in their lives.
The book on David Bossie is actually a pretty unlikely tale. He’s a standard-issue Republican dirty trickster whose mundane wet work has somehow managed to have a profound effect on the American political system for more than 20 years. In the world of partisan hit men he may be the best there ever was. And he isn’t done yet.
People need to be clear about the forces at work in our politics if they want to be serious about politics. Everyone is perfectly entitled to have their opinion one way or the other about Clinton and Sanders, but unless you subscribe to a conspiracy theory so baroque that it has Clinton working with right wing operatives to set up a hit on herself in order to allow more money into politics, the idea that she was behind Citizens United doesn't make a lot of sense.