Sunday, August 30, 2015

Time To Remove Debbie Wasserman Schultz As DNC Chair? WAY Past Time!


There are far too many self-serving careerist Democrats in politics to be able to say Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the worst. But people do say it. And she is certainly one of the worst. When she was a state senator in Florida she cut a gerrymandering deal with the Republicans that gave her an unassailably Jewish congressional district made for her forever. In return the GOP got far more narrowly safe congressional seats than their share of the statewide vote would make reasonable. And in the state legislature, as in Congress, she was and has been a deal-maker with all the worst crooks with special interests they needed taken care of-- from the private prison industry to the Fanjul brothers and their sugar empire.

Politically, her conservatism has been a catastrophe for Florida Democrats. As the head of the DCCC's Red to Blue program, she endorsed three corrupt conservative Republicans instead of their Democratic challengers! She has been disrespectful-- and downright evil-- towards Democratic candidates who were not conservative self-funders. A New Dem sleazebag, she is constantly pushing the Democratic Party to the economic right from within. And she's been rewarded for her efforts with the chairmanship of the DNC.

As chair of the DNC she has raised immense sums of money for herself and has undermined Democratic Party values and principles and pushed her own reactionary agenda, giving credence to right-wing nonsense from the "dangers" of medical marijuana to the "dangers" of opening up to Cuba.

Yesterday Dan Balz and Philip Rucker reported in the Washington Post that Wasserman Schultz used her position as party chair to block a resolution at the DNC conclave in Minneapolis backing Obama on the Iran deal.
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz prevented consideration of a resolution at the party’s summer meeting here that praised President Obama and offered backing for the nuclear agreement with Iran, according to knowledgeable Democrats.

The resolution was drafted with the intention of putting the national committee on record in support of the agreement as Congress prepares to take up the issue when members return from their August recess.

As a fallback, James Zogby, the co-chair of the Resolutions Committee, led a move to prepare a letter of support for the president and the Iran agreement that eventually gained signatures from a sizable majority of the members of the national committee. Zogby said Saturday that, in the end, this produced a satisfactory outcome.

“We wanted to show support for the president,” he said. “We found that the best way to show support was a letter that members would sign on to, and the overwhelming majority of DNC members signed onto the letter. This is the President Obama we elected in 2008 who said, ‘I choose diplomacy over conflict,’ and he did it.”

...Some Democrats on the national committee who were unhappy that the resolution did not come up for consideration said that, as DNC chair, Wasserman Schultz owed her allegiance in this instance to the president, regardless of her own local political considerations. had a petition up within hours to remove her as DNC chair. You can read it and sign it here. Isn't one Republican Party enough?

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Palin Does Trump-- And She Speaks For All The Paranoid Racist Misanthropes Of America


Part of the reason Trump has shot to the top of the polls-- and has increased his standing while elite journalists and pundits consistently predicted he would implode-- is because media consumers can't get enough of him. He's an outspoken TV celebrity who can get away with saying outrageous things and making up his own facts-- the way Reagan used to do-- and the media covers him as if he were an OJ Simpson car chase. He's great for ratings. It might not compute in my own world-- I never slow down to stare at a highway accident-- but I know that people with sad, shallow lives get something out of identifying with a brash in-your-face asshole and bully like Donald Trump.

Perhaps overexposure will eventually kill off his run, in which case the GOP nomination will go to Trump favorite and fellow fascist Ted Cruz. But watching the embarrassingly pedestrian interview Sarah Palin did with Trump Friday night on some network no one had ever heard of before, OAN (above), maybe people will eventually just grow bored with his antics. There's plenty of time. The Iowa caucuses aren't till the beginning of February. The New Hampshire primary is a week later. The South Carolina Republican primary is February 20-- Dems go a week later-- and the Nevada Republican caucuses are February 23 (three days after the Democrats caucus in that state). So we have five full months before any voting even gets started. 

I was interested in one number from the latest Reuters-Ipsos poll released yesterday. It wasn't that the give-day moving average showed Trump at the head of the pack with 28.4% (with almost five times more support than Establishment fave Jeb Bush) but that in the #2 spot was "wouldn't vote"-- 25.2%.

One would like to think that Trump's compulsive lying would do him in, but we're talking about a thoroughly Foxified, dumbed-down Republican primary electorate, so... facts don't matter. When Trump says "millions" of "illegals" are streaming over the southern border, he's appealing to ugly, naked fear, not trying to score points in a debate. The facts-- that deportations of undocumented Mexican immigrants soared after George W. Bush left office, that the number of Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. illegally has declined, and that more Mexicans have left the U.S. than arrived since Obama became president-- aren't something Trump (or Fox) would ever deem information to impart to Republican primary voters. Why confuse them further?

A few weeks ago we started looking at the similarities between Trump's appeal and the classic appeals fascists were using to reach voters in Europe before World War II. More and more of the mainstream media is starting to notice the same thing. Evan Osnos, writing in The New Yorker, remarks on Trump's flirtation with fascism by noting that his "nationalist coalition" is taking shape.
What accounts for Donald Trump’s political moment? How did a real campaign emerge from a proposition so ludicrous that an episode of The Simpsons once used a Trump Presidency as the conceit for a dystopian future? The candidate himself is an unrewarding source of answers. Plumbing Trump’s psyche is as productive as asking American Pharoah, the winner of the Triple Crown, why he runs. The point is what happens when he does.

In New Hampshire, where voters pride themselves on being unimpressed, Fred Rice, a Republican state representative, arrived at a Trump rally in the beach town of Hampton on an August evening, and found people waiting patiently in a two-hour line that stretched a quarter of a mile down the street. “Never seen that at a political event before,” he said. Other Republicans offer “canned bullshit,” Rice went on. “People have got so terribly annoyed and disenchanted and disenfranchised, really, by candidates who get up there, and all their stump speeches promise everything to everyone.” By the night’s end, Rice was sold. “I heard echoes of Ronald Reagan,” he told me, adding, “If I had to vote today, I would vote for Trump.”

To inhabit Trump’s landscape for a while, to chase his jet or stay behind with his fans in a half-dozen states, is to encounter a confederacy of the frustrated-- less a constituency than a loose alliance of Americans who say they are betrayed by politicians, victimized by a changing world, and enticed by Trump’s insurgency. Dave Anderson, a New Hampshire Republican who retired from United Parcel Service, told me, “People say, ‘Well, it’d be nice to have another Bush.’ No, it wouldn’t be nice. We had two. They did their duty. That’s fine, but we don’t want this Bush following what his brother did. And he’s not coming across as very strong at all. He’s not saying what Trump is saying. He’s not saying what the issues are.”

Trump’s constant talk of his money, his peering down on the one per cent (not to mention the ninety-nine), has helped him to a surprising degree. “I love the fact that he wouldn’t be owing anybody,” Nancy Merz, a fifty-two-year-old Hampton Republican, told me. She worked at a furniture company, she said. “But the industry went down the tubes.” Her husband, Charlie, used to build household electricity meters at a General Electric plant, until the job moved to Mexico. Now he parks cars at a hospital. Trump, in his speech, promised to stop companies from sending jobs abroad, and the Merzes became Trump Republicans. They are churchgoers, but they don’t expect Trump to become one, and they forgive his unpriestly comments about women. “There are so many other things going on in this country that we’ve got be concerned about,” Nancy said. “I’ve seen a lot of our friends lose their houses.”

Trump’s fans project onto him a vast range of imaginings-- about toughness, business acumen, honesty-- from a continuum that ranges from economic and libertarian conservatives to the far-right fringe. In partisan terms, his ideas are riven by contradiction-- he calls for mass deportations but opposes cuts to Medicare and Social Security; he vows to expand the military but criticizes free trade-- and yet that is a reflection of voters’ often incoherent sets of convictions. The biggest surprise in Trump’s following? He “made an incredible surge among the Tea Party supporters,” according to Patrick Murray, who runs polling for Monmouth University. Before Trump announced his candidacy, only twenty per cent of Tea Partiers had a favorable view of him; a month later, that figure had risen to fifty-six per cent. Trump became the top choice among Tea Party voters, supplanting (and opening a large lead over) Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Governor Scott Walker, of Wisconsin, both Tea Party stalwarts. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted last month, the “broad majority” of Trump’s supporters hailed from two groups: voters with no college degree, and voters who say that immigrants weaken America. By mid-August, Trump was even closing in on Hillary Clinton. CNN reported that, when voters were asked to choose between the two, Clinton was leading fifty-one per cent to forty-five.

In Hampton, I dropped by Fast Eddie’s Diner for the breakfast rush. “He has my vote,” Karen Mayer, a sixty-one-year-old human-resources manager, told me. Already? “Already,” she said. Her husband, Bob Hazelton, nodded in agreement. I asked what issue they cared about more than any other. “Illegal immigration, because it’s destroying the country,” Mayer said. I didn’t expect that answer in New Hampshire, I remarked. She replied, “They’re everywhere, and they are sucking our economy dry.” Hazelton nodded again, and said, “And we’re paying for it.”

When the Trump storm broke this summer, it touched off smaller tempests that stirred up American politics in ways that were easy to miss from afar. At the time, I happened to be reporting on extremist white-rights groups, and observed at first hand their reactions to his candidacy. Trump was advancing a dire portrait of immigration that partly overlapped with their own. On June 28th, twelve days after Trump’s announcement, the Daily Stormer, America’s most popular neo-Nazi news site, endorsed him for President: “Trump is willing to say what most Americans think: it’s time to deport these people.” The Daily Stormer urged white men to “vote for the first time in our lives for the one man who actually represents our interests.

Ever since the Tea Party’s peak, in 2010, and its fade, citizens on the American far right-- Patriot militias, border vigilantes, white supremacists-- have searched for a standard-bearer, and now they’d found him. In the past, “white nationalists,” as they call themselves, had described Trump as a “Jew-lover,” but the new tone of his campaign was a revelation. Richard Spencer is a self-described “identitarian” who lives in Whitefish, Montana, and promotes “white racial consciousness.” At thirty-six, Spencer is trim and preppy, with degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago. He is the president and director of the National Policy Institute, a think tank, co-founded by William Regnery, a member of the conservative publishing family, that is “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of European people in the United States and around the world.” The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Spencer “a suit-and-tie version of the white supremacists of old.” Spencer told me that he had expected the Presidential campaign to be an “amusing freak show,” but that Trump was “refreshing.” He went on, “Trump, on a gut level, kind of senses that this is about demographics, ultimately. We’re moving into a new America.” He said, “I don’t think Trump is a white nationalist,” but he did believe that Trump reflected “an unconscious vision that white people have-- that their grandchildren might be a hated minority in their own country. I think that scares us. They probably aren’t able to articulate it. I think it’s there. I think that, to a great degree, explains the Trump phenomenon. I think he is the one person who can tap into it.”

Jared Taylor, the editor of American Renaissance, a white-nationalist magazine and Web site based in Oakton, Virginia, told me, in regard to Trump, “I’m sure he would repudiate any association with people like me, but his support comes from people who are more like me than he might like to admit.”

...Ann Coulter, whose most recent book is ¡Adios, America! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole, appeared on Sean Hannity’s show and urged fellow-Republicans to see Trump’s summer as a harbinger. “The new litmus test for real conservatives is immigration,” she said. “They used to say the same thing about the pro-life Republicans and the pro-gun Republicans, and, ‘Oh, they’re fringe and they’re tacky, and we’re so embarrassed to be associated with them.’ Now every one of them comes along and pretends they’d be Reagan.”

From the pantheon of great demagogues, Trump has plucked some best practices-- William Jennings Bryan’s bombast, Huey Long’s wit, Father Charles Coughlin’s mastery of the airwaves-- but historians are at pains to find the perfect analogue, because so much of Trump’s recipe is specific to the present. Celebrities had little place in American politics until the 1920 Presidential election, when Al Jolson and other stars from the fledgling film industry endorsed Warren Harding [who ran on deporting Mexican immigrants and promptly did so after he was elected]. Two decades ago, Americans were less focussed on paid-for politicians, so Ross Perot, a self-funded billionaire candidate, did not derive the same benefit as Trump from the perception of independence.

Trump’s signature lines-- “The American dream is dead” and “We don’t have victories anymore”-- constitute a bitter mantra in tune with a moment when the share of Americans who tell Gallup pollsters that there is “plenty of opportunity” has dropped to an unprecedented fifty-two per cent; when trust in government has reached its lowest level on record, and Americans’ approval of both major parties has sunk, for the first time, below forty per cent. Matthew Heimbach, who is twenty-four, and a prominent white-nationalist activist in Cincinnati, told me that Trump has energized disaffected young men like him. “He is bringing people back out of their slumber,” he said.

Ordinarily, the white-nationalist Web sites mock Republicans as Zionist stooges and corporate puppets who have opened the borders in order to keep wages low. But, on July 9th, VDARE, an opinion site founded to “push back the plans of pro-Amnesty/Immigration Surge politicians, ethnic activists and corrupt Big Business,” hailed Trump as “the first figure with the financial, cultural, and economic resources to openly defy elite consensus. If he can mobilize Republicans behind him and make a credible run for the Presidency, he can create a whole new media environment for patriots to openly speak their mind without fear of losing their jobs.” The piece was headlined “WE ARE ALL DONALD TRUMP NOW.”

Trump has succeeded in unleashing an old gene in American politics-- the crude tribalism that Richard Hofstadter named “the paranoid style”-- and, over the summer, it replicated like a runaway mutation. Whenever Americans have confronted the reshuffling of status and influence-- the Great Migration, the end of Jim Crow, the end of a white majority-- we succumb to the anti-democratic politics of absolutism, of a “conflict between absolute good and absolute evil,” in which, Hofstadter wrote, “the quality needed is not a willingness to compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Nothing but complete victory will do.” Trump was born to the part. “I’ll do nearly anything within legal bounds to win,” he wrote, in The Art of the Deal. “Sometimes, part of making a deal is denigrating your competition.” Trump, who long ago mastered the behavioral nudges that could herd the public into his casinos and onto his golf courses, looked so playful when he gave out Lindsey Graham’s cell-phone number that it was easy to miss just how malicious a gesture it truly was. It expressed the knowledge that, with a single utterance, he could subject an enemy to that most savage weapon of all: us.

Trump’s candidacy has already left a durable mark, expanding the discourse of hate such that, in the midst of his feuds and provocations, we barely even registered that Senator Ted Cruz had called the sitting President “the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism,” or that Senator Marco Rubio had redoubled his opposition to abortion in cases of rape, incest, or a mortal threat to the mother. Trump has bequeathed a concoction of celebrity, wealth, and alienation that is more potent than any we’ve seen before. If, as the Republican establishment hopes, the stargazers eventually defect, Trump will be left with the hardest core-- the portion of the electorate that is drifting deeper into unreality, with no reconciliation in sight.
Meanwhile, the Des Moines Register published the newest Iowa Poll today and it looks like dissatisfaction with the Establishment isn't just a Republican thing. Iowa Democrats have swung strongly away from Establishment candidate Hillary Clinton and towards... Bernie:

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Fasten your seatbelts, buckos -- it's going to be a banner election season for the madly whirling Candidate Shuffle


I just love this headline, which shows us that the Candidate Shuffle season is in full whirl. You can see the full article below.

by Ken

It's hardly a new-for-2016, the Candidate Shuffle. One of the reasons God created political "handlers" is to help candidates figure out what potential voters want to hear them say. It's a pretty astonishing thing at the presidential level, where you figure the parties are trotting out their most seasoned and mature candidates, who will be standing on their history of principle and accomplishment. But sometimes a candidate might want to know what little bits of emphasis and deemphasis to apply to his/her record to suit the present mood of the electorate.

Ex-Shuffle champ McCranky
Who am I kidding? By and large candidates are willing to say or do anything their consultants say will give them an edge. Still, you'd have thought that nobody could top the whirligig that was the 2008 presidential campaign of Young Johnny McCranky, who managed to stake out a minimum of three positions -- all of them nuts -- on just about every interest he mentioned in the campaign.

But it looks like the 2016 fun and games are going to make Young Johnny look like a steadfast man of principle, hilarious as that idea is. With the country, and the party, in a mood like they're in, and a field as crazy as the 2016 GOP presidential field, it's hardly surprising that we're going to see posturing and pandering at record levels. The joker in 2016 is the combination of the whacked-out mood of the GOP base and the so-far-successful demonstration that you can get record levels of attention by saying crazier stuff than anyone is accustomed to saying or hearing outside the walls of a mental institution.

Which is why I love that headline on Dave Weigel's piece: "In a shift, Mike Huckabee is open to ending 'birthright citizenship.' " The key phrase there is "is open to." I can barely imagine what we're going to see candidates "open to."

The spinning is going to come in two forms: stuff that these, er, people have always in fact believed but though they didn't dare say publicly, and wackiness they don't believe but now feel empowered, or even obliged, to say.

It's not entirely clear which category Minister Mike Hucksterbee's whirling dervish act on birth citizenship fits into, and his history with the issue only makes it murkier. I guess the key thing is just to sit back and watch him whirl. (Find lotsa links for the following article onsite.)
Post Politics

In a shift, Mike Huckabee is open to ending ‘birthright citizenship’

By David Weigel

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said Friday he is open to ending "birthright citizenship" for children of immigrants born in the United States.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said Friday that he was open to laws that would end the "birthright" citizenship granted to children by the 14th Amendment, joining several other GOP candidates in endorsing the idea.

The comments came in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who asked the question twice to be clear that Huckabee really would "abrogate" that right.

"I would," said Huckabee, "because I think that when we see advertisements in China, advertising essentially ‘birth tourism,’ where people are able to purchase packages so they fly to the U.S., have their baby in the U.S. so it has dual citizenship – these aren’t people who are impoverished, looking for a Medicaid payment. These are very wealthy people who are coming here so their child will in essence be put a foot down and say ‘I have American citizenship.’”

The "birthright" issue has bedeviled Huckabee since his first campaign for the presidency. In 2007, he told Washington Times reporter Stephen Dinan that he would support changing the policy that grants citizenship "just because a person, through sheer chance of geography, happened to be physically here at the point of birth." Early in 2008, Minutemen Project founder Jim Gilchrist claimed that Huckabee favored a new amendment to the Constitution to codify that.

A day later -- as he was riding high from a victory in the Iowa caucuses -- Huckabee walked back Gilchrist's comment. Two years later, Huckabee told NPR's Tom Ashbrook that he opposed major changes to the 14th Amendment. "I don't even think that's possible," he said.

But in the new interview, Huckabee seemed to rediscover his enthusiasm for reforming the "birthright" process.

"It has been the practice that we’ve had for over 100 years," he told Hewitt. "I think if we’re going to change that, then we need to be able to declare why we’re going to change it. I know that there’s the language about jurisdiction, there have been questions about it. The diplomat's child was born here -- does that make that person a citizen? I don't think that it's an ironclad-type decision, but it would be helpful for there to be legislation defining what the jurisdiction clause means. I don't think a constitutional amendment is likely to happen, but it would be helpful to have a constitutional amendment."

Earlier this month, at the first televised Republican presidential debate, Huckabee said that the 14th Amendment could and should be used to treat the unborn as American citizens. "This notion that we just continue to ignore the personhood of the individual is a violation of that unborn child’s Fifth and 14th Amendment rights for due process and equal protection under the law," he said.

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Forgive Me, Father, For I Have Sinned


by Oren Jacobson

Last January I had the opportunity to travel to Pittsburgh, a city that is a model for American reinvention, and lead a weekend-long training with a group of young progressives. The weekend was the kickoff to a fellowship program designed to prepare emerging leaders to be a force for positive change in the community.

As part of the program we run each year we start the process with self-exploration. We ask our fellows to explore their own strengths, weaknesses, skills, passions, and values in an effort to the craft their own vision for their future. It’s the first step in creating a plan of action that is followed by developing the skills needed to execute that plan.

On the final day, during the final session, we turned our attention to how our values, and the values of others, manifest themselves in our politics and policies. Within the discussion an anti-LGBT bill being pushed in another state was brought up. One of the fellows quickly and passionately attacked the bill, and in strong terms attacked the legislator who sponsored it. She was eloquent and clear. The entire room, myself included, nodded along in agreement.

“Is that what you think,” I challenged, “or how you feel?”

She looked at me puzzled for a moment.

“Is your opinion derived from data or something you feel in your gut?” I rephrased. I wasn’t playing devil’s advocate on her position but rather its origin in the hopes of broadening the discussion.

“It’s what I KNOW to be true,” she expressed after a brief pause for reflection.

“And what do you imagine the state legislator who sponsored this bill KNOWS to be true?”

“The exact opposite,” she replied softly as she began to imagine what this other person’s perspective might be.

The legislator pushing that bill knew that homosexuality was a sin just as much as we know it’s not. We know the real sin is to restrict the rights of others. To not truly love thy neighbor. The bill itself was driven by someone’s values however off base those values are to us. The demonization of others, though, while making us feel moral and righteous does little else.

“Progress is won not by having the loudest voice, or by the most poignant attack, but through the power of moral truth. Those who are persuadable don’t hear the argument when we yell or call each other names,” I suggested as I proceeded to challenge them to consider a more constructive approach moving forward.

I believe that it isn’t enough for progressives to use the political process to improve our communities, but that we as progressives have the obligation to approach politics differently.

I view it as the responsibility of my generation to change the way in which we engage politically. To not only have discussions, but to create the space for those dialogues to be more healthy and productive. This is a core belief of mine. A personal value which I hold dear. A naive hope, perhaps, that those who fight to reform our system of government, and the tone by which we politic, shall win the future.

Have you ever seen two people in a fight? When one person begins to throw a punch what happens? The second person immediately pulls their hands to their face and leans back to protect themselves. In most cases that is followed by a counter punch. The same happens in our political discourse. We eliminate the space for the conversations that build trust even if they don’t build agreement.

At their worst our current leaders sow the seeds of division amongst us and at their best take advantage of divisions that exist. Rather than seeking first to understand, then to be understood, we approach our politics in a talk at you fashion. We discount your point and immediately hit you back. When you punch the only response is to defend and counter.

Several weeks ago I wrote a post about Donald Trump when his rise in the polls coincided with his inflammatory rhetoric about Mexicans. In that post I went on, after examining the GOP’s approach to comprehensive immigration reform, to suggest that Trump’s rise said more about the base of the Republican Party than about Trump himself. In doing so I called the GOP base a hyper-nationalistic, xenophobic group.

I’ve reflected a lot since writing that post and admit to feeling a little torn about it now. On the one hand I feel like we have to aggressively call out bigotry. On the other I feel that in casting a xenophobic net on the entire GOP base I compromised my own standards and in doing so failed to live up to the challenge I proposed in Pittsburgh.

Let me be clear. I believe that where intolerance exists it should be called out and we must protect and defend those who are targeted. You cannot passively defend equality or justice and the ONLY justifiable intolerance is of the intolerant. Additionally, I will not suggest that any who have tasted the bitter pill of oppression approach the fight in any way other than what feels right to them. No person has a right to tell another how to feel or what response is appropriate, especially in the face of long standing injustice.

Let me further state that I believe that some portion of the GOP base is indeed xenophobic and I am not recanting that. But, I also know plenty of decent people who consider themselves conservative, or are simply registered Republicans, and have demonstrated personally over the years that they are filled with love, not hate. Their opposition to certain policies alone doesn’t make them bigots even if we believe the only non-political reason to oppose immigration reform is on xenophobic or nativist grounds.

Nonetheless, the Republican Party knowingly include these people in their political tent. In doing so the Party, and all who vote for it, give backing to the policies and sentiments that oppress others. For that it should rightfully be criticized. That these people hold sway on the process is obvious and sad. Major candidates are proposing changing the constitution’s protection of birthright citizenship, openly using derogatory terms like “anchor baby," and refusing to rule out the deportation of the children of undocumented immigrants who were born here and are constitutionally considered citizens under the 14th Amendment (start 9:35 into this video). Is there an explanation for this trend besides feeling a political need to play to the fear of others that exists inside a strong vocal faction of the base? Clearly not.

However, Donald Trump’s rise isn’t simply about a group of intolerant people. It’s clear now that the appeal exceeds that. He is attractive to many people including some Democrats I know. People are just tired of politics and politicians in general. His lack of caution exudes authenticity in an era of poll-tested politicians afraid to make mistakes and taps into a broader anger with Washington. That perceived authenticity, and anger, is pulling people in. They are attracted to him in spite of what he says in many cases, not necessarily because of it.

What does all of this mean? Will he last? I don’t know. What I do know is by casting a net that was wider than the reality of the issue I failed to uphold my own standards. In doing so I became momentarily blind to a broader truth about his appeal. A truth that speaks to how some Americans feel about their political system, and its leaders, even if they disagree with Trump’s positions and rhetoric.

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.

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Does Trump REALLY Want To Make The Rich Pay Their Fair Share Of Taxes?


Jimmy Kimmel picked up on the fact that-- with the exception of Jeff Sessions' (KKK-AL) immigration plan-- Trump hasn't given the morons backing him for the GOP nomination any specifics about anything. Everything he does will be the greatest or fabulous-- from the wall he plans to build to the replacement for Obamacare he plans to wave his magic wand and bring into being, to everyone he hires to work for him, like Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter. That's the genesis of the video above.

Not exactly a revered figure among the Trumpists, former Republican Majority Leader-- and former congressman-- Eric Cantor pointed out this week that aside from the absurdity of the $600 billion wall, Trumpy wants to upend sacrosanct Republican fiscal policies that benefit the very rich at the expense of everyone else. Trump, for example, has expressed an intention of doing away with carried-interest deductions, a mainstay of hedge-fund managers' ability to grow fortunes that have historically taken generations to accumulate. Trump:
I would take carried interest out, and I would let people making hundreds of millions of dollars a year pay some tax, because right now they are paying very little tax and I think it’s outrageous. I want to lower taxes for the middle class.…

The middle class is getting clobbered in this country. You know the middle class built this country, not the hedge fund guys, but I know people in hedge funds that pay almost nothing and it’s ridiculous, okay?
Greg Sargent picked right up on it for his Washington Post column Friday morning. Would Trump's vague promises to tax the rich cause Republicans to finally turn on him-- when his misogyny, his racism, his dumbed-down approach and his childish insults towards Republican Establishment figures have only increased his ratings? Sargent disagreed with the assessment by Justin Green, political editor of Independent Journal Review, who figured Trump's threats to tax the rich "might frighten the donor class, but the bulk of conservative voters aren’t especially worried about protecting low taxes for rich people." Sargent found polling data that shows that Republicans are worried about protecting low taxes for rich people.
A Gallup poll this spring found that while a majority of Americans overall favors redistributing wealth with higher taxes on the rich, only 29 percent of Republicans agree, while 70 percent disagrees. Among conservatives it’s 32-66. A Pew poll in 2014 found that while a majority of Americans favors raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations to expand programs for the poor, only 29 percent of Republicans agree, while 59 percent of Republicans favor lowering taxes on the wealthy to encourage investment and growth.
What Trump is proposing is gutting the whole idea-- failed idea-- of trickle-down economics. Apparently in his universe the whole bogus pretense of job creators needing special tax incentives is... just as bogus as it is in Bernie Sanders' world. If Trump ran against Hillary Clinton, his economic agenda could be more populist and further left than hers! Back to Sargent:
Trump does seem to have broken with GOP dogma here, and to my knowledge, none of his Republican rivals have responded directly to it. But Marco Rubio is justifying his call for eliminating taxes on capital gains and dividends by arguing that investment creates jobs for people like his bartender father. It’s an interesting contrast.

One of the odd paradoxes of Trump’s rise has been that even as he is little more than an entertainer, his willingness to say what other Republicans won’t has forced out into the open genuine policy debates among Republicans that had previously been shrouded in vagueness or imprisoned within party orthodoxy. His call for mass deportations has unmasked GOP evasions over what to do about the 11 million, forcing something close to a real debate on that question. His vow not to cut Social Security benefits has led some to ask whether GOP voters might actually disagree with party dogma on the need to cut them.

If Republicans respond to Trump’s (apparent) apostasy on taxes, the debate would be useful, not to mention fascinating, and could shed more light on whether Republican voters really agree with GOP orthodoxy on “protecting low taxes for rich people,” as Green puts it, in the name of job creation.
This all depends on who, exactly, these Trump supporters who have rocketed him to the top of the heap are. Do they actually vote in Republican primaries? You probably remember the video below, shot by Nancy Pelosi's daughter for Bill Maher's show. 

Long before Trump decided to run for the Republican nomination, Alexandra Pelosi interviewed the kind of people who were already ready for Trump. Recall the fella living in squalor with no front teeth who, when Pelosi pointed out that being a Republican hasn't worked for him, insisted that Republican policies could work for him. He and the rest of these poor doofuses are the Trump base, far more than the wealthy or educated Republicans who dominated the party when your grandfather looked at the GOP.

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Which Republicans In Congress Will Be The First To Endorse Trump?


Every endorsement for Trump is a loss for Tailgunner Ted Cruz

Thursday night we looked at how racist Republicans in Congress could help legitimize Trump by echoing his Know-Nothing immigration platform, generally ugly positions they have been espousing for years anyway. We focused on one of the worst of the worst: Santa Clarita/Antelope Valley/Simi Valley reactionary Steve Knight. But yesterday Roll Call went straight for the Old Confederacy, at least for the most part, when looking for the 5 most likely Republican congressionals to endorse Trump's candidacy.

First and foremost, of course, was KKK Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III of Alabama, who actually wrote much of Trump's racist immigration plank. Many people consider him already having endorsed Trump by donning a Trumpian baseball cap and getting up on the stage with him in Mobile last week. "At the rally," wrote Zaid Jilani, "Sessions became the first member of Congress to endorse Trump."

Matt Fuller at Roll Call doesn't see that as an endorsement, at least not an explicit one. But he thinks one may be coming.
To date, not one member of Congress has formally endorsed the GOP front-runner. Perhaps that’s part of Trump’s charm for some voters. He’s a Washington outsider-- as much as a New York billionaire can be, at least-- and voters have taken to his monkey-wrench style of politics.

Then there’s Congress. Even if members like to rail against the institution, this is the political system that brought them to power. As fiery as some conservatives are, there may be some recognition that some of the things Trump says could be, you know, like, damaging to the Republican brand.

Of course, if Trump keeps polling this well, Republicans will start to fall in line behind the billionaire. At least some of them will, anyway. (It’s hard to imagine every Republican actually endorsing Trump if he becomes the nominee. It’s entirely possible fewer congressional Republicans would endorse their party’s nominee than ever before if that GOP-contender turns out to be Trump.

But if Trump’s support really is steadfast-- if Frank Luntz’s legs cease to quiver-- members will endorse him.
Fuller has two pretty overt Alabamian racists as likely to lead the way: Sessions, of course, and willfully ignorant far right extremist Mo Brooks.
Brooks hasn’t officially thrown his support behind anyone, but he’s one of the staunchest opponents of illegal immigration in Congress-- and his own populist, anti-GOP-establishment streak could lead him to support Trump. It’s no secret Brooks is close with Cruz, but he told an Alabama crowd at the end of July there were some people running “who have never held public office before that intrigue me-- and I like what they’re saying.”

Asked about supporting Trump, Brooks told CQ Roll Call Thursday that he wouldn’t consider endorsing anyone until November at the earliest.

“Do think Cruz would make an excellent, winning nominee and president,” he said via text, adding that he has similar thoughts about three or four other candidates.

While it’s clear Brooks has a soft spot for Cruz, November could be a different world in the presidential debate. Trump could have fallen off by then-- or he could be an even more dominant candidate. Either way, Brooks doesn’t sound closed off to Trump, even if he isn’t his first choice.

It seems as if Brooks is maintaining some level of skepticism at this point, but he’s not ruling out Trump. Another Republican in that category?

...[Steve] King, who could be a key endorsement in his state’s first-in-the-nation caucus, certainly seemed to like what he saw from Trump’s immigration plan. While many have figured King would endorse Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump’s immigration positions and popularity could give the Iowa congressman something to think about. In fact, there are a number of anti-immigration Republicans who could be attracted to Trump’s immigration plan (though many of those congressional Republicans have already endorsed candidates).
Now that Jeb! has rolled out ex-Majority Leader/ex-Congressman Eric Cantor as a surrogate, it seems even more likely that anti-immigrant fanatic Dave Brat may go for Trump. (Trump mentioned him admiringly the other day, but it went unmentioned in the media because Trump mangled his name.) He told Roll Call that before he decides who to endorse he's "waiting for the first one to reference 127 trillion in unfunded liabilities and that all federal revenue will go toward only the four entitlement programs and interest payments by 2027. So no endorsements yet, but the first one that weighs in on that topic will grab my attention very quickly."

New to the list of possible early Trumpettes is Florida extremist Ted Yoho, a whacked-out teabagger who represents a big empty chunk of KKK territory in northern Florida that includes whites-only suburbs of Jacksonville and Gainesville all the way up to a secessionist-minded stretch along the Georgia border. Although Obama beat Romney statewide, many of the counties where Obama had the weakest support are in Yoho's district-- like Dixie (26%), Gilchrist (24%) and Union (25%).
While Yoho may have a style that at times resembles Trump’s, the firebrand Republican who offered himself as an alternative to Speaker John A. Boehner earlier this year-- and recently signed on as cosponsor of a motion to vacate the chair-- seems to understand that presenting Trump as the GOP presidential candidate comes with some pitfalls. But he also understands that voters are frustrated.

“I think it’s an indication to see Donald Trump leading in the polls of what the American people feel,” Yoho told CQ Roll Call just before the August recess. “They’re fed up. I mean, they are fed up to put Donald Trump at the top of the polls? That’s pretty scary.”

Yoho was talking about a fracture in the Republican Party, and he brought up Trump without prompting to explain that divide. And even though Yoho might think it’s “scary” that voters are supporting Trump in large numbers, he seems to understand the frustration.

And as Yoho points out, Trump’s candidacy-- which Republicans endorse him and, if he is the nominee, which Republicans refuse to support him-- might more clearly reveal some of the fault lines in the party.
11 Floridian Republicans-- Bilirakis, Buchanan, Crenshaw, Curbelo, Diaz-Balart, Jolly, Miller, Mica, Ros-Lehtinen, Ross and Webster-- have endorsed former Florida Governor Jeb and one-- Tom Rooney-- has endorsed Rubio. I could see Curt Clawson, a Trumpian figure himself, and possibly Richard Nugent getting on board the Trump train at the same time Yoho does.

Or maybe it won't even be some Confederate maniac who's the first to back Trump. Yesterday, the House's newest Republican, Daniel Donovan, who replaced Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm, praised Trump, who he called a "personal friend," although he didn't make a formal endorsement yet.
Right now, I think he’s resonating with voters, it’s obviously in the polls, because he’s saying things to America that many Americans are frustrated with... They’re frustrated with government, and I suspect there’s a lot of people home when they watch him on TV, start nodding their heads up and down and don’t even realize it. With so many people in the race, I don’t think anybody’s gotten an absolutely, an opportunity to distinguish themselves and talk about their issues.
Donovan is best known as the district attorney who refused to indict the white policeman who murdered Eric Garner, a black grandfather who was selling loose cigarettes.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Night


I spent much of the summer in the hospital getting stem cell transplants so that the cancer I was treated for since November-- now in remission-- doesn't come back. I still have peripheral neuropathy, but I'm feeling a lot better overall now, and my doctor at City of Hope seems astounded how rapidly I'm recuperating from the intense treatments. Brutalism's music (above) was part of my get-well therapy. I'd blast their songs, especially "Friday Night," in the hospital and the nurses would come in and dance. What more could anyone want?

Well... after a while I started wanting my hair and beard to start growing again. That's what I wanted-- that and my taste buds to start functioning again. Not that I love shaving, but after a couple of months of no facial hair growth, it starts to feel weird. I promised myself that I would switch the DownWithTyranny schedule back to five posts a day-- Ken had wisely cut it back to four while I was in the hospital-- as soon as I started shaving again. That happened yesterday-- both, the old schedule (with a first post at 6am PT and a last post at 9pm PT) and the shaving. Actually, some facial hair had started growing in on Monday, but when I washed it and dried my face with a towel, it just fell out. Now it's a little more substantial, although just a little.

Back to Brutalism's music for a moment. I know "Friday Night" sounds like dance music-- in fact, it is dance music-- but be sure to listen to the lyrics. Those lyrics are not what anyone usually hears in a dance club, as far as I know. They're subversive. But it makes sense when you know that one of the guys in the band is HuffPo writer Zach Carter.

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Will it matter to the anti-Planned Parenthood witch hunters that the frame job is even crookeder than we knew?


It turns out that the "original" versions of the Planned Parenthood sting videos are already tampered with. What a surprise!

by Ken

The good news is that Planned Parenthood is fighting back against the crusade of lies being waged against it. The bad news is that the anti-Planned Parenthood witch hunters are the kind of people who not only don't care about but actively despise the truth when it comes in conflict with their ideological psychoses. And right now the right-wing sociopaths see an opportunity to destroy their enemy. Why should the truth matter to them more here than it does in any other aspect of their lie-based lives?

The startling disclosure here is that, according to the independent investigator hired by Planned Parenthood, the supposedly "full" versions of the videos that were so deceptively edited down to produce the bogus videos circulated by the witch hunters are themselves edited.  When you consider that the people who produced these videos are confirmed, dyed-in-the-wool liars, the discovery that the theoretically "unedited" versions are in fact edited leads inescapably to the conclusion that they're already bogus -- that what we're in fact dealing with here is literally lies upon lies. (And, oh yes, some of the "transcripts" circulated by the sting perpetrators are doctored. Ho-hum.)

But again, will it matter? It might if these people had any interest in the truth. I wouldn't hold my breath, though.
Videos deceptively edited, Planned Parenthood tells Congress

Antiabortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol in Austin, Tex., to condemn the use of tissue samples from aborted fetuses in medical research. (Eric Gay/AP)

By Sandhya Somashekhar | August 27 at 10:12 PM

Officials at Planned Parenthood mounted an aggressive defense in a letter to Congress on Thursday, offering evidence from an outside investigator that undercover videos targeting the women’s health organization were heavily edited and should be considered unreliable.

The letter, written by the ­organization’s president, Cecile Richards, comes as four congressional committees are pursuing investigations into allegations that Planned Parenthood sells ­fetal tissue for profit, which is prohibited by law, and that it has changed its abortion procedures to extract better specimens. The accusations stem from an elaborate undercover investigation by antiabortion activists, who recorded Planned Parenthood employees while posing as representatives of a tissue procurement company.

Planned Parenthood has repeatedly denied the allegations. On Thursday, the group attempted to go on the offense, with Richards accusing the activists from the Center for Medical Progress of acting “fraudulently and unethically — and perhaps illegally.”

Her letter was accompanied by a 10-page report commissioned by Planned Parenthood and penned by an independent investigator, former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson. Through his firm Fusion GPS, Simpson enlisted experts who analyzed both the short, highly produced videos publicized by the antiabortion group, as well as hours of “full” footage the group posted on YouTube.

The implication is that the longer footage was unedited. But Simpson said he found significant gaps.

“Anytime someone removes a piece of audio or video tape . . . that renders the file unreliable,” Simpson said during a teleconference for reporters.

Simpson said he also discovered discrepancies between transcripts posted by the antiabortion group and dialogue in the video. And he said he found instances in which the undercover actors goaded Planned Parenthood officials into making flippant remarks, and where inaudible dialogue was transcribed in a way that represented “wishful thinking” — for example, when a lab technician is said to have looked at a fetus and said, “It’s a baby.”

David Daleiden, project leader at the Center for Medical Progress, said the gaps in the longer video were bathroom breaks taken by the actors wearing hidden cameras, or long periods during which an actor sat silently in a waiting room.

He said the group has made that fuller raw footage available to law enforcement authorities as well as congressional investigators. A judge’s order in California, however, has restricted the release of some footage, he said.

Daleiden accused Planned Parenthood of skirting the heart of the issue: whether it is selling fetal tissue or participating in other illegal activities, such as employing an abortion procedure commonly known as partial-birth abortion, which is outlawed in most circumstances.

“We’re now seven weeks into this news story. They spent 11 pages now talking about camera Number One or camera Number Two,” Daleiden said. “What they still haven’t spent any time addressing is the questions over their use of partial-birth abortion or giving any type of detailed accounting of the costs and how much they’re actually getting paid.”

In the letter, Planned Parenthood officials write that only two affiliates still participate in tissue donation, a service provided to women who decide to donate fetal material for medical research. Before the video sting, four other affiliates — all in California — participated in tissue donation but stopped because of threats or other issues.

The letter says the lone California affiliate that still donates tissue receives $60 per specimen, a “modest reimbursement” to recover costs. Such a charge is permitted under state and federal law.

Planned Parenthood officials acknowledge that doctors sometimes make minor adjustments to abortion procedures to extract specimens. However, Richards contends in the letter that the adjustments do not make the procedure more risky. Moreover, she said, there is no federal prohibition against making these adjustments as long as the research is not federally funded.

Still, she wrote, Planned Parenthood has adopted voluntary guidelines against any “substantive alteration in the timing of terminating the pregnancy or of the method used . . . for the purpose of obtaining the blood
and/or tissue.”

“Mr. Daleiden and his associates have sought to infiltrate Planned Parenthood affiliates and unsuccessfully to entrap Planned Parenthood physicians and staff for nearly three years,” Richards wrote. “Yet it is Planned Parenthood, not Mr. Daleiden, that is currently subject to four separate congressional investigations.”
This Daleiden thug apparently can't draw breath without lying. Planned Parenthood has repeatedly addressed its tissue-selling practices, which were not, in fact, illegal, and which don't appear to have been in any way unethical either, but simply reflect standard scientific research practice. But Daleiden is a lying sack of garbage, whose life is devoted to lies. Why would he be in any way embarrassed about conducting a crusade of lies?

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It Wasn't Enough For The GOP Clown Car To Alienate Latinos. Now They Want To Target Asian-Americans


The last thing the Republican Party Establishment wanted was a raucous racist primary that highlights the disdain with which Republican candidates view minorities. But the party's angry, confused base had their own ideas-- and plenty of power-mad candidates to pander to them, one of whom is a celebrity TV reality star who knows how to command an audience and daily headlines.

It doesn't matter what Reince Priebus wants, or what the GOP's 2012 autopsy mandated, or even-- perhaps (we'll see)-- what the billionaire insurgent Koch family wants. After two Bushes and McCain and Romney, the base will not be denied; they want someone as crazy and bigoted and filled with hatred as they are-- or at least someone willing to make a spectacle out of themselves faking it-- and they have not just Trump, but a whole clown car filled with exactly what they want.

Tuesday Trump tweeted that "Asians are very offended that JEB said that anchor babies applies to them as a way to be more politically correct to hispanics. A mess!" Then he promptly pantomimed long-outmoded but still ugly Asian stereotypical speech patterns, proving, I suppose, to the base that no matter how racist Jeb goes, he'll never be able to catch up with the puerile Trump. 

Republican Establishment propagandist George Will was on the warpath against Trump again Thursday, bemoaning how he's ruining the party that Will remembers the GOP once being. He seems to have as much disdain for the unwashed Republican masses as they have for immigrants and minorities. "Every sulfurous belch from the molten interior of the volcanic Trump phenomenon," he wrote, "injures the chances of a Republican presidency. After Donald Trump finishes plastering a snarling face on conservatism, any Republican nominee will face a dauntingly steep climb to reach even the paltry numbers that doomed Mitt Romney."
The white percentage of the electorate has been shrinking for decades and will be about 2 points smaller in 2016 than in 2012. In 2008, Barack Obama became the first president elected while losing the white vote by double digits. In 2012, Hispanics, the nation’s largest minority, were for the first time a double-digit (10 percent) portion of the electorate. White voters were nearly 90 percent of Romney’s vote. In 1988, George H.W. Bush won 59 percent of the white vote, which translated into 426 electoral votes. Twenty-four years later, Romney won 59 percent of the white vote and just 206 electoral votes. He lost the nonwhite vote by 63 points, receiving just 17 percent of it. If the Republicans’ 2016 nominee does not do better than Romney did among nonwhite voters, he will need 65 percent of the white vote, which was last achieved by Ronald Reagan when carrying 49 states in 1984. Romney did even slightly worse among Asian Americans-- the fastest-growing minority-- than among Hispanics. Evidently, minorities generally detected Republican ambivalence, even animus, about them. This was before Trump began receiving rapturous receptions because he obliterates inhibitions about venting hostility.

...In 2011, when Trump was a voluble “birther”-- you remember: Obama supposedly was not born in the United States, hence he is an illegitimate president-- an interviewer asked if he had people “searching in Hawaii” for facts. “Absolutely,” Trump said. “They can’t believe what they’re finding.” Trump reticence is rare, but he has never shared those findings. He now says, in effect: Oh, never mind. If in November 2016, the fragments of an ever smaller and more homogenous GOP might be picked up with tweezers, Trump, having taken his act elsewhere, will look back over his shoulder at the wreckage he wrought and say: Oh, never mind.
Gregory Cendana, executive director of the AFL-CIO's Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, was disgusted by the Republican Party's recent verbal assaults against minority communities.
Trump’s sheer disrespect and prejudice coincides with the glaring racist ideologies that the GOP has exhibited throughout their campaigns. Jeb Bush’s derogatory comments and Donald Trump’s bigoted actions will serve as another reminder that the Republican Party does not represent the interest of communities of color and our country.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka backed them up with this video he put out Thursday morning.

And referencing Jeb's bungled outreach to minorities, L.A.-area Congressman Ted Lieu, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve who was elected president of the congressional freshman class, was equally mortified. This is the note he sent to his constituents Wednesday:
In the same breath that Jeb Bush calls for Americans to 'chill out' on political correctness, he accuses Asian immigrants of engaging in an 'organized effort' to have 'anchor babies.'

Anyone who has served in elected office knows they have a duty to lead by example. Jeb Bush’s comments about Asian immigrants are a dangerous mischaracterization of an entire minority, plain and simple. It clearly doesn’t reflect my story. My parents immigrated to the United States to achieve the American dream. My parents went from being poor to owning a thriving small business. Their journey of hard work, sacrifice, success and contribution is as central to the American story as any other.

Unfortunately, Jeb’s insulting remarks about immigrants are matched by equally-insulting policy ideas. He has no viable plan for comprehensive immigration reform. He wants to repeal our national health care law that's protecting millions of Americans and his big idea to grow the economy is to offer corporations more tax cuts.

It is sad to think this all comes from the moderate Republican presidential candidate. Jeb Bush is trapped by an influential Tea Party that continues to advocate for policies that help the few at the expense of the many. My fellow Democrats and I are fighting for something different-- an America that cherishes and works for everyone.

Bao Nguyen's Vietnamese mother was pregnant with him when she escaped to Thailand. He was born in a refugee camp, and they came to America when he was still an infant. Now he is the mayor of Garden Grove in Orange County and is the progressive candidate running for the congressional seat Loretta Sanchez is giving up. Like L.A.-area Asian-American congressmembers Ted Lieu and Judy Chu, he was shocked to feel the Republican candidates attacking immigrant communities, Hispanics as well as Asians. "As an American immigrant," he told us today, "it disgusts me when I hear how Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and the other Republican Presidential candidates have been talking about immigrants."
It’s despicable, and disgraceful. Immigrants are the backbone of this country. They built this country and continue to add to it in so many ways. I was born in a refugee camp, and came to this country when I was three months old. We didn’t have much-- let’s be honest, we were just poor. But we found a welcoming and supportive community of all nationalities and backgrounds, and with help and hard work, I was able to build a life here in California. But my story is no different from that of millions of immigrants who came to America in search of a better life-- who knew they needed to work hard and play by the rules in order to get a fair shot at the American Dream. We need to celebrate the accomplishments of our immigrant neighbors, and we need to bring everyone out of the shadows, so they can be full participants in the American Dream.

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Earthquakes, the "Big One" & the Pacific Northwest


An earthquake preparedness film produced in Victoria, British Columbia (source)

by Gaius Publius

This is not quite a political story, but it's an important one. Most people west of the Mississippi and many people east of it assume that the so-called "Big One," the mother of all American earthquakes, will occur in southern California along the San Andreas fault.

Shaded relief map of California showing the location of SAFOD [San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth]. Major historical earthquakes along the San Andreas Fault are shown, with the creeping section of the fault in blue. (© USGS, click to enlarge) [source]

But scientists who study plate tectonics have come to a surprising, and relatively recent, conclusion — the "big one" is more likely to come in the Pacific Northwest, and it's likely to be the "really big one."

I can only give you a small part of this excellent recent article in the New Yorker by Kathryn Schultz, but if this interests you at all, it's worth reading it through. There's both good science and important warning here. And if you're a resident of the region, it may qualify as a must-read.

The problem in a nutshell, from just after the start of the article (my emphasis):
Most people in the United States know just one fault line by name: the San Andreas, which runs nearly the length of California and is perpetually rumored to be on the verge of unleashing “the big one.” That rumor is misleading, no matter what the San Andreas ever does. Every fault line has an upper limit to its potency, determined by its length and width, and by how far it can slip. For the San Andreas, one of the most extensively studied and best understood fault lines in the world, that upper limit is roughly an 8.2—a powerful earthquake, but, because the Richter scale is logarithmic, only six per cent as strong as the 2011 event in Japan.

Just north of the San Andreas, however, lies another fault line. Known as the Cascadia subduction zone, it runs for seven hundred miles off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, beginning near Cape Mendocino, California, continuing along Oregon and Washington, and terminating around Vancouver Island, Canada. The “Cascadia” part of its name comes from the Cascade Range, a chain of volcanic mountains that follow the same course a hundred or so miles inland. The “subduction zone” part refers to a region of the planet where one tectonic plate is sliding underneath (subducting) another. Tectonic plates are those slabs of mantle and crust that, in their epochs-long drift, rearrange the earth’s continents and oceans. Most of the time, their movement is slow, harmless, and all but undetectable. Occasionally, at the borders where they meet, it is not.

Take your hands and hold them palms down, middle fingertips touching. Your right hand represents the North American tectonic plate, which bears on its back, among other things, our entire continent, from One World Trade Center to the Space Needle, in Seattle. Your left hand represents an oceanic plate called Juan de Fuca, ninety thousand square miles in size. The place where they meet is the Cascadia subduction zone. Now slide your left hand under your right one. That is what the Juan de Fuca plate is doing: slipping steadily beneath North America. When you try it, your right hand will slide up your left arm, as if you were pushing up your sleeve. That is what North America is not doing. It is stuck, wedged tight against the surface of the other plate.

Without moving your hands, curl your right knuckles up, so that they point toward the ceiling. Under pressure from Juan de Fuca, the stuck edge of North America is bulging upward and compressing eastward, at the rate of, respectively, three to four millimetres and thirty to forty millimetres a year. It can do so for quite some time, because, as continent stuff goes, it is young, made of rock that is still relatively elastic. (Rocks, like us, get stiffer as they age.) But it cannot do so indefinitely. There is a backstop—the craton, that ancient unbudgeable mass at the center of the continent—and, sooner or later, North America will rebound like a spring. If, on that occasion, only the southern part of the Cascadia subduction zone gives way—your first two fingers, say—the magnitude of the resulting quake will be somewhere between 8.0 and 8.6. That’s the big one. If the entire zone gives way at once, an event that seismologists call a full-margin rupture, the magnitude will be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2. That’s the very big one.

Flick your right fingers outward, forcefully, so that your hand flattens back down again. When the next very big earthquake hits, the northwest edge of the continent, from California to Canada and the continental shelf to the Cascades, will drop by as much as six feet and rebound thirty to a hundred feet to the west—losing, within minutes, all the elevation and compression it has gained over centuries. Some of that shift will take place beneath the ocean, displacing a colossal quantity of seawater. (Watch what your fingertips do when you flatten your hand.) The water will surge upward into a huge hill, then promptly collapse. One side will rush west, toward Japan. The other side will rush east, in a seven-hundred-mile liquid wall that will reach the Northwest coast, on average, fifteen minutes after the earthquake begins. By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable. Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”.
I've bolded the parts that describe the geologic stress and what's likely to happen to the land when it releases. The upward bulge of the land includes the Cascades mountain region and land west to the sea (Mount Hood, in the Cascades Mountains, is only 80 miles east of Portland). A six-foot drop in elevation of land within "a few minutes" would destroy everything built on top of it. A similar drop beneath the ocean would create a tsunami that would wipe out everything living along the coast.

Here's a picture:

The northern part of the Cascadia Subduction Zone (click to enlarge; source)

Here's another, showing the extent of the affected area:

As the source states, "Subdiction of the Juan de Fuca plate beneath the North American plate results in the formation of the Cascade Range." Click to enlarge.

And another showing the elevations:

Portland sits between the Oregon Coast Range and the Cascade Range (click to enlarge; source).

If a full rupture occurs, the impact will be devastating: "that region will suffer the worst natural disaster in the history of North America" writes Schultz.
Roughly three thousand people died in San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. Almost two thousand died in Hurricane Katrina. Almost three hundred died in Hurricane Sandy. FEMA projects that nearly thirteen thousand people will die in the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Another twenty-seven thousand will be injured, and the agency expects that it will need to provide shelter for a million displaced people, and food and water for another two and a half million. “This is one time that I’m hoping all the science is wrong, and it won’t happen for another thousand years,” Murphy says.
Devastation aside, the science on this is fascinating. Schultz writes, "Thirty years ago, no one knew that the Cascadia subduction zone had ever produced a major earthquake. Forty-five years ago, no one even knew it existed." If you want to skip to that part, find the sentence that starts, "Almost all of the world’s most powerful earthquakes occur in the Ring of Fire" and continue from there. The study of the "ghost forest" on the banks of the Copalis River and the tale it told to alert researchers makes terrific reading.

There's much more here than I can quote comfortably — the detective work that revealed the date of the last "really big one" ("approximately nine o’ clock at night on January 26, 1700"); the lack of preparation, and the cost of preparing properly to respond to an emergency of this scale.

FEMA, Disaster Preparation and Our Billionaires

Which is where I want to add a word of my own. Funding FEMA, of course, to an adequate level is a first priority. Yet we live in a time of pathological billionaires, rulers of both parties, who don't want to spend the first spare dime on any class of people but their own. The arrogance of this class, from Donald Trump to Sheldon Adelson to Jamie Dimon, is astounding — I may have some comparison video shortly. Left or right, they're mainly all the same. If you watched the Trump vs. Ramos video, you watched them all in action.

As with their arrogance, so their self-dealing. Americans are forced to use increasingly service-cutting, space-cutting airlines for long-distance travel because "our betters" say they can't afford to raise Amtrak to anything close to European standards. (Have you ridden an American passenger train lately along any but the DC–New England corridor?) Yet here's how the very very rich take to the air, financed, if they can get it, by corporate tax loopholes and compensation extras.

If they "can't afford" to give us good trains, bridges, or roadways, how will this class ever allow us to prepare for an emergency on the scale described here?

We seem to be stuck, until we don't want to be. Talk about a tectonic subduction zone — the rule of this class is a global "sticking point" of monstrous proportions. The pressure, on them and on us, to keep things as they are is enormous. I'm afraid the consequences — political, social, environmental, climatological — of coming "unstuck" from our own ruling class will be monstrous as well.

I guess this was a political story after all.


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The Murderous NRA... And The Democrats


92% of voters-- that's 98% of Democratic voters and 86% of Republican voters-- agree that there should be universal background checks for gun purchases. Even 92% of gun owners are on board with that. 91% of gun owners also say that there should be laws to prevent people with mental illness from buying guns. This week, PPP surveyed New Hampshire voters and found only 9% opposed to universal background checks on gun buyers. In New Hampshire 96% of Democrats, 82% of independents and 79% of Republicans want background checks. So why are Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Republican Rep. Frank Guinta so adamantly opposed to background checks?

Mike Thompson, a Napa Blue Dog and gun owner, says, "The only thing standing in the way of it passing is the Republican Majority in the House... [I]f the Republican Majority would allow a vote, my bill would pass." It didn't pass; Boehner, at the behest of the gun manufacturers' lobbyist group, the NRA, refused to allow it to come to a vote

In fact, there hasn't been a vote on gun legislation on the floor of the House since 2011, and that was to hamper the feds from investigating gun crimes committed with semi-automatic weapons, an amendment that was introduced by Oklahoma Blue Dog Dan Boren (who was subsequently forced to retire from Congress or face defeat). 41 mostly conservative Democrats voted for it along with all the Republicans, and it passed, 277-149

Most of the Democrats who did the NRA's bidding that day were, like Boren, driven out of Congress. But not all of them. Still in the House today:
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Pete DeFazio (OR)
Gene Green (TX)
Brian Higgins (NY)
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
Ben Ray Luján (DCCC Chairman)
Ed Perlmutter (New Dem-CO)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Jared Polis (New Dem-CO)
Dutch Ruppersberger (MD)
Tim Ryan (OH)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
Adam Smith (New Dem-WA)
Tim Walz (MN)
Peter Welch (VT)
At the time, Boren justified his pandering to the NRA by saying:
Last December, ATF published an emergency request…It asked… for the power to collect information from firearms retailers on all sales of two or more semi-automatic rifles within five consecutive business days. This would include many of today's most popular rifles used by millions of Americans for self-defense, hunting, and other lawful purposes.…I strongly oppose granting ATF this information-collecting authority for three reasons: first, it would subject responsible firearms sellers who are often small business owners to burdensome reporting requirements. Second, ATF would catalog records on Americans who purchase rifles, thereby compromising their privacy. And, finally, ATF lacks legal authority to collect this information.
Judy Chu, a Los Angeles-area progressive, spoke for almost all Democrats when she explained why she opposed Boren's murderous NRA amendment:
Thirty thousand. That's how many people were violently slaughtered by the Mexican drug cartels in just 4 short years. One of them was Bobby Salcedo, an American citizen and rising star from my district. He was kidnapped and murdered last year with a semiautomatic rifle. I oppose this amendment because it makes it harder to stop these types of violent acts. This amendment will prevent the tracing of bulk sales of the military-style rifles, popular with cartels, that have resulted in tragic murders like Bobby's. Last year, the U.S. military announced that, if the drug war continues, it could cause the Mexican Government to collapse, and the cartel war could spread over the border into the U.S. This amendment makes the drug war worse. Every day, people are dying from this war, even American citizens. We must stop it, and we can by opposing this amendment.
Almost every Republican scored a ZERO from ProgressivePunch for their lifetime voting record on gun safety. No big surprise. But today there are 4 Democrats who score that same ZERO: Bill Foster (New Dem-IL), Gene Green (TX), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN) and Dina Titus (NV).

Last cycle alone, the NRA gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans in Congress and running for Congress. Again, no surprise. But the NRA also spent money on Democratic shills for their blood-soaked agenda. Many, like hideous Georgia Blue Dog John Barrow (in the video above), were defeated. But still in Congress today, taking NRA blood money and with their heads up the NRA's ass, are:
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)- $3,500
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- $1,000
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)- $5,950
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)- $2,000
Tim Walz (MN)- $2,000
Yes, it's easy to demonize Republicans for the gun violence in this country-- easy and appropriate-- but this is a somewhat bipartisan holocaust, even if Republicans in Congress are overwhelmingly more to blame.

Yesterday I got a frantic plea for money from conservative Arizona New Dem Ann Kirkpatrick. She's running for the Senate against the worthless John McCain. But she's pretty worthless herself-- another "Democrat" with an "A" rating from the NRA. And Schumer recruited her to run for the Senate. Why? So she can vote for the NRA's toxic, deathly agenda. Her e-mail missive said, "We could flip the Senate," but she didn't mention that she would be "flipping" it more in favor of the NRA. And she isn't the only Senate candidate Schumer recruited who is beloved of the NRA. In Ohio, Ted Strickland has been a forever supporter of the NRA, and unlike Kirkpatrick, who they rated "A," they gave Strickland an A+.

The NRA rarely endorses Democrats over Republicans but sometimes a Democrat is so subservient to them that they just go for it. And that was the case in 2010 when they backed pet Democrat Ted Strickland and his losing campaign over Republican John Kasich. Both the NRA and the Buckeye Firearms Association scored Strickland an A+ that year-- again, not an A, a much more coveted and rare A+.

What, exactly, did Strickland do to endear himself so to the gun lobbyists? Here are a few examples of his fealty to the murder machine:
Voted YES on prohibiting product misuse lawsuits on gun manufacturers
Voted YES on prohibiting suing gunmakers & sellers for gun misuse
Wrote that he opposes restrictions on the right to bear arms in a survey for the Christian Coalition in 2010
On the 1996 National Political Awareness Test, he indicated that he supports the principle of repealing all bans and measures that restrict law-abiding citizens from owning legally-obtained firearms.
And that barely touches the surface of the mutual admiration society between Strickland and the gun industry.
Ted Strickland has a pro-gun voting record in Congress. As such, he was endorsed by both the NRA and Buckeye Firearms Association in his party primary last May. In the early days of his gubernatorial campaign in Ohio, he spoke out against a Columbus ban on most semi-automatic rifles that cost the city $20 million in convention revenue, voiced support for Ohio's two year-old concealed carry law, and told legislators they should pass a bill which would prevent municipal gun control laws and make firearms laws uniform across the state.
The progressive Democrat running for the Ohio Senate seat held by Rob Portman is Blue America-endorsed PG Sittenfeld. This morning we asked him how he would differ from Portman and Strickland on issues around gun safety.
In the Senate, I will fight for common sense gun safety measures, starting with universal background checks with no gun show loopholes. Senseless killings by people who never should have had a gun in the first place must stop, and it's going to take more senators willing to stand up and do what's right  to make that happen.
If you'd like to help make sure Sittenfeld beats the NRA's Ohio Tweedle-Dum and Tweddle-Dee, you can do that right here. Needless to say, the big establishment money is all flowing to Portman and Strickland, so whatever you can spare would be immensely appreciated. Democrats can whine about gun violence till the cows come home, but as long as the party machinery is promoting NRA shills like Strickland and Kirkpatrick, nothing will ever change.

UPDATE: Report From Congress

A progressive Member of Congress read the post above and e-mailed me that I forgot to mention someone who deserved recognition for his efforts on behalf of the NRA, "Zach Space, who did far worse than vote for NRA stuff; he actually lined up votes for it." Now a lobbyist, Space was a 2 term Blue Dog from Ohio who "won" Bob Ney's seat after Ney withdrew from the race and pleaded guilty to taking bribes from Jack Abramoff (for which he went to prison). The NRA gave Space a rare A+ rating and endorsed his reelection campaign against eventual Republican victor Bob Gibbs.
As a member of Congress, Space has demonstrated his commitment to our Second Amendment rights by cosponsoring legislation to restore self-defense rights in our nation's capital, as well as signing the pro-gun congressional amicus brief to the Supreme Court supporting our individual right to keep and bear arms in the Heller case. Additionally, he is the lead sponsor of legislation to force much-needed reform of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and cosponsored the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity amendment, which would provide a national standard for carrying concealed firearms.  Space also signed a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder opposing re-enactment of the failed 1994 ban on semi-automatic firearms and ammunition magazines.

Furthermore, Space voted for an amendment that ensures access to federally-owned or administered lands for hunting, fishing, trapping and recreational shooting, as well as an amendment that allows carry permit holders to carry concealed in national parks and wildlife refuges. Most recently, he signed the pro-gun congressional amicus brief arguing that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right that protects all Americans in the McDonald case.

Zack Space's commitment to preserving our right to keep and bear arms has earned him an "A+" rating and the endorsement of the NRA-PVF.
Although Space massively outspent Gibbs in the 2010 election-- $2,931,978 to $1,090,872-- Gibbs beat him 54-40% because Democratic base voters had gotten wise to Space's conservatism and refused to show up and vote for him again. Chris Hollen, then head of the DCCC was determined to save Space-- and the other pro-NRA Democrats-- and wasted $1,559,434 on the race, while allowing progressive incumbents to sink beneath the waves of a Koch brothers spending tsunami.

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