Saturday, September 05, 2015

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

The Lawlessness of Ted Cruz and the GOP

The Kim Davis spectacle is revealing another aspect of the far right: the unfitness of a number of elected officials to hold their office due to their violation of the oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution.”  Like Davis, they need to either obey the law of the land or resign.  Leading the pack of those unfit for office is Texas Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz who is advocating defiance of federal court orders.  Even id Cruz's motivation is to whore himself to the Christofascist base of the Republican Party, his behavior is inexcusable and someone needs to hold him accountable.  A column in the Washington Post looks at Cruz's lawlessness and violation of his oath of office.  Here are excerpts:
What Kim Davis did was troubling. What Ted Cruz did was downright alarming. . . . . Davis, at least, is facing the consequences of her actions. Not so Cruz, senator from Texas and Republican presidential candidate. 

“Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny,” he said. “Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. . . . I stand with Kim Davis. Unequivocally.” 

Tyranny? Our system of government gives the Supreme Court final say over constitutional matters, and, though Cruz doesn’t like it, the court ordered states to recognize same-sex marriages. In fact, the high court specifically declined to give relief to Davis, and the federal judge who ordered her jailed for contempt of court is a George W. Bush appointee and son of a former Republican senator. 

Now Cruz, who took an oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution,” wants people to defy the Supreme Court’s authority? Who is the lawless one?

Cruz isn’t the only Republican candidate seeking the nation’s highest office while encouraging people to ignore its laws. Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, declared: “I thank God for Kim Davis, and I hope more Americans will stand with her.” 

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, too, supported Davis, and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) called her jailing “absurd” and said stands such as Davis’s are “an important part of the American way.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said that “you have the freedom to practice religious beliefs out there. It’s a fundamental right.”

[N]obody is denying Davis freedom to believe what she wishes; she’s merely being ordered to do what she swore to do: “faithfully execute the duties of my office without favor.” Refusing to do so doesn’t make her Martin Luther King Jr. It makes her George Wallace. 

 “When they put their personal beliefs above their responsibilities as public servants, that’s not civil disobedience, it’s abuse of power,”

Huckabee and Rick Santorum, another GOP presidential candidate, signed a pledge not to “respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law.” Huckabee is on record saying that “the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being, and they cannot overturn the laws of nature or of nature’s God.” Huckabee floated the notion of using federal troops to block people from getting abortions. He also said: “I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch.”

It’s fitting that, as Kim Davis undermines the rule of law, Joe Davis threatens violence. When you lose the former, all you are left with is the latter. 

Kim Davis: Canary in the Mine Called Theocracy

The spittle flecked hysteria of the Christofascists and parasites of the professional Christian crowd is off the charts in the wake of the much deserved jailing of Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk, Kentucky clerk of court who views herself to be above the law of the land because of her bizarre and warped religious beliefs.  From faux historian David Barton, to Fox News provocateur Todd Starnes, to con-artist pastors, the shrieks that there is a war against Christians and that America is now like Nazi Germany have reached a crescendo - as have the money begs from the usual suspects.  Mike Huckabee has joined the money beg crowd with donations going directly to his presidential campaign site.  The common thread throughout the bluster and theatrics is that these people want a fundamentalist Christian theocracy and their insanity would be almost humorous if they were not so potentially dangerous.  As I have questioned before, when will there hate speech lead to violence or deaths of those they deem enemies of their theocratic agenda.  A column in the Huffington Post by an Episcopal priest looks at the danger these people pose to constitutional government and the rule of law.  Here are excerpts:
As one commenter on my Facebook page put it "This is the appropriate response. Don't condemn her for hypocrisy, don't make fun of her clothes; just jail her for contempt of court until she either does her job or quits her job. That's how the state should have handled George Wallace and Ross Barnett fifty years ago, and that's how they should handle their anti-gay counterparts now."

Exactly. But do not for a moment think that this is the end of the story. Ms Davis has auditioned for and has now won the role of Poster Child for the "Religious Liberty" movement. It is a movement that includes the scores of RFRAs (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) pending in state legislatures around the country designed to do nothing to protect actual religious liberty and everything to turn a fundamental protection of the First Amendment into a weapon of mass discrimination. 

Kim Davis is arguably the canary in the coal mine called Theocracy -- "a form of government in which God or a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler." Her case is a test case for those who confuse their theology with our democracy and would replace liberty and justice for all with "liberty and justice for those who believe what I believe." And make no mistake about it: the threat is very real.  

Whether it's denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples or denial of reproductive health care to women, the trend of conflating individual religious beliefs with public policy decisions is a slippery and dangerous slope to the erosion of genuine religious liberty -- which is both the freedom of religion and the freedom from religion.

Because here's the deal: Religious persecution is when you're prevented from exercising your beliefs, not when you're prevented from imposing your beliefs.  

Because the Founding Fathers knew what they were doing when they wrote the First Amendment -- and what they were doing was making us a nation founded on the bedrock value of religious liberty that provides both freedom of and freedom from religion -- not only protecting each and every one of us to believe what we choose but also protecting us from discrimination based on the beliefs of others.

And my religious liberty as a Christian is only as protected as the religious liberty of every other person of every other faith -- and yes, that includes the liberty of those who choose "none of the above." And all of our liberty is threatened when the religion of any American citizen is misused to discriminate against the equal protection of any other American citizen.

Kim Davis may indeed be a victim -- but she is most certainly not the victim of religious persecution. She is the victim of theocrats in patriots' clothing exploiting her as a canary in the coal mine called Theocracy as they continue to see just how far they can go in turning this nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal into "a form of government in which God or a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler."
As I have argued for years now, militant fundamentalist Christians are a clear and present danger to the nation.  As they become increasingly marginalized and more citizens flee their ugly version of Christianity, the likelihood for violence will increase. 

Friday, September 04, 2015

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Republicans Bash China at America's Risk

The insane Christofascist/Tea Part base of the Republican Party has not only thrown logic and reason out of domestic policy initiatives.  It has also transformed the GOP which once viewed itself as the home of thoughtful foreign policy experts into a band of xenophobic nativists who specialize in denigrating non-Americans, especially those who are non-white.  In addition to Mexico and Iran, a favored target of GOP bashing is China.  As a piece in the Washington Post notes, such behavior is not only short sighted, it is also potentially harmful to America's best interests.  Here are column highlights:

As 17 Republican candidates try to get noticed, and 16 of them struggle to compete with The Donald, perhaps we should not be surprised to hear crazy rhetoric and outlandish ideas. In recent days, Chris Christie has proposed that all legal visitors to the United States be tracked every minute, like FedEx packages. Mike Huckabee has compared Planned Parenthood to the Islamic State because they both “take people’s heads off.” And I haven’t even gotten to Donald Trump. 

The brunt of this extremism has been borne by immigrants, especially Mexicans. It’s crude and obnoxious but ultimately inconsequential. The policies being proposed could never be enacted or implemented. And although Mexicans might be deeply offended — and rightly so — their country has to find a way to make peace with its gigantic neighbor to the north. None of this is true about China, the new target of irresponsible Republican rhetoric. China is the world’s second-largest economy, almost 2½ times the size of the next largest, Japan. Even if growth slows substantially, China will continue to have seismic effects on the global system.

I asked the senior-most foreign policy statesman in the Republican Party, Henry Kissinger, what he makes of this rhetoric. “It is foolishness,” he said, “but dangerous foolishness. It could have extremely grave repercussions.” I also asked Hank Paulson, the most recent Republican treasury secretary, who has visited China more than 100 times over the past 25 years and negotiated with the Chinese as a businessman, government official and conservationist. “This summit means a lot to both countries and provides an opportunity to get important things done,” Paulson said. “But particularly, because China is experiencing some economic problems at home, if we slight them or overplay our hand, they may leave questioning their ability to work with us. That would be terrible for both nations.”   

“From the rhetoric I hear,” Kissinger told me, “one would imagine that China has decided to embark on a series of policies, economic and military, that threaten the United States. What is really going on is that China is in the midst of an enormous transformation, economic and political. . . . The internal turmoil in the country today is comparable only to the Cultural Revolution.” And, he noted, it would be far better for the United States if China makes this transition to a more stable economy successfully.

The Republican rhetoric on China, Mexico and immigration reveals a breakdown of the party’s ideological vision and internal discipline. For decades, Republicans have favored internationalism, engagement and free markets. In 2016, it is quite possible that the party’s nominee will be populist, nativist and protectionist.

The consequences of this new climate of China-bashing could be serious. . . . .  we should exhaust every effort to have a serious, constructive relationship. If not, the tensions will build, misunderstandings will grow, and I worry that we would find ourselves in an atmosphere similar to that of Europe before World War I — a war no one wanted but no one knew how to stop.”

Exodus of Syrian Refugees Highlights the West's Failure

While American Christofascists are applauding Kim Davis, fabricating a myth that Christians are facing persecution in America and, of course, making money begs to support their comfortable lifestyles, pictures of drowned Syrian refugee children have underscored not only the failure of western nations to address the brutality unfolding in Syria and the rest of the Middle East, but also the sick values of American Christians.  Sadly, the Mat Stavers, Maggie Gallaghers, Tony Perkins, and others of the parasitic professional Christian set  don't give a damn about drowned Syrian children.  If one isn't a white conservative Christian, one simply doesn't matter.  Indeed, for much of the Christofascist base of the GOP, nothing warms their hearts more than seeing Muslims killed, hence their rush to support war with Iran. Take a look at the image above.  Those pictured are just as human as you or me, but for too many, they and their lives do not matter.  For too many they just don't matter.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the political and moral failure of the West.  Here are highlights:
Arresting images of desperation on the West’s doorstep have brought Syria, for the moment, back to worldwide attention: refugees cramming into train stations and climbing border fences; drowned Syrian toddlers washing up on beaches, a girl in polka dots, a boy in tiny shoes.

It was never any secret that a rising tide of Syrian refugees would sooner or later burst the seams of the Middle East and head for Europe. Yet little was done in Western capitals to stop or mitigate the slow-motion disaster that was befalling Syrian civilians and sending them on the run.
“The migrant crisis in Europe is essentially self-inflicted,” said Lina Khatib, a research associate at the University of London and until recently the head of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. “Had European countries sought serious solutions to political conflicts like the one in Syria, and dedicated enough time and resources to humanitarian assistance abroad, Europe would not be in this position today.”

The causes of the current crisis are plain enough. Neighboring countries like Lebanon and Jordan became overwhelmed with refugees and closed their borders to many, while international humanitarian funding fell further and further short of the need. Then, Syrian government losses and other battlefield shifts sent new waves of people fleeing the country.

Now those departing include more middle-class or wealthy people, more supporters of the government, and more residents of areas that were initially safe.  One of those, Rawad, 25, a pro-government university graduate, left for Germany with his younger brother Iyad, 13, who as a minor could help his whole family obtain asylum.

As the numbers of displaced Syrians mounted to 11 million today from a trickle in 2011, efforts to reach a political solution gained little traction. The United States and Russia bickered in the Security Council while Syrian government warplanes continued indiscriminate barrel bombing, the Islamic State took over new areas, other insurgent groups battled government forces and one another, and Syria’s economy collapsed.

For years, Yacoub El Hillo, the top United Nations humanitarian official in Syria, has been warning that with the Syrian crisis — the “worst of our time” — the international system of humanitarian aid has “come to the breaking point

“This is the price of political failure,” he said in Beirut in March, declaring that the breakdown of the aid system results from the strategic stalemate over Syria. “This is a direct affront to international peace and security.”

He said that it cost the United States $68,000 an hour to fly the warplanes used to battle the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, while the United Nations has received less than half of the money it needs to take care of the half of Syria’s prewar population that has been displaced.

Few refugees have been accepted by the regional and global players that have helped fuel the conflict — not by the United States, Russia, Iran or the Gulf Arab states, some of which, despite their wealth, have pledged just tens of millions toward the billions of dollars Syrians need.  

Syrians have so little hope for a solution in the near future that talk in the capital, Damascus, among supporters and opponents of the government alike, has turned to plans for getting overseas, especially to Europe. It is a route taken by everyone from the wealthy, whose money cannot always buy them visas, to the poor, who often sell everything to finance the trip.

But not all families are that lucky. Aylan Kurdi, 3, was found lying face down in the surf on a Turkish beach, one of at least 12 Syrians who drowned nearby.

The boy’s father, Abdullah Kurdi, said in an interview that the family had fled first from Damascus and later from their ancestral home, the Kurdish town of Kobani that has been attacked repeatedly by the Islamic State. They were trying to immigrate to Canada, but could not get permission to travel legally. His son Ghalib, 5, and his wife, Rehan, also drowned.

“If they can’t work together to save these children,” Adnan Hadad, an activist from the Syrian city of Aleppo, wrote on Twitter as the image of the boy went viral, “the world leaders better find another planet to rule.”

Thursday, September 03, 2015

More Thursday Male Beauty

GOP Candidates Rush to Praise Kim Davis and Subvert the Constitution

Driving home I was listening to a constitutional law scholar on a POTUS satellite radio.  The topic?  The GOP 2016 presidential candidates flocking to support anti-gay County Clerk Kim Davis and breathlessly prostituting themselves to would be Christofascist voters in the GOP primaries. Not surprisingly, the scholar had little good to say about these candidates and he flat out slammed their ignorance about the U.S. Constitution.  Perhaps the most shocking - and desperately pandering - comments came from Mike Fuckabee Huckabee who proved he is unfit for the office of president or any other elected office.  But Huckabee is not alone in his desire to toss the U.S. Constitution into the toilet.  The Hill looks ate the GOP candidate reactions.  Here are excerpts:

The Kentucky clerk who has been jailed for refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples is getting full-throated support from several Republican presidential candidates.

Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) blasted a judge's decision Thursday to hold Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in contempt of court. 

"I think it's absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty," Paul said on CNN's "Wolf," citing his home state clerk's "heartfelt conviction.

Cruz, a vocal opponent of the Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage this summer, also rebuked the judge.  "Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny."

"Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. This is wrong. This is not America," Cruz said in a lengthy statement posted to his campaign website next to a bright red button for supporters to donate to his White House bid. 

Huckabee, the first to offer a strong defense of Davis this week, blasted putting her in custody in a series of tweets on Thursday afternoon, calling it an assault on religious liberty.
One Huckabee tweet stated:  
Kim Davis in federal custody removes all doubts about the criminalization of Christianity in this country. We must defend !  

Huckabee went on to say that he was headed to Kentucky to visit Davis.  And former Hindu, Bobby Jindal likewise jumped on the pro-Davis band wagon of political whores.

Call me a cynic, but those riding the GOP clown car who are the most vociferous in their support for Davis are all at the bottom end of the polls.  They will literally do anything to catch the eye of the unwashed masses of the Christofascists in the GOP base.  

Federal Judge Jails Renegade Clerk

Kim Davis mugshot
This blog focuses often on exposing hypocrisy.  But it also looks at the manner in which fundamentalist Christian organizations and the professional Christian crowd prey upon the emotionally troubled and those with sordid pasts to expand their cults denominations and ministries.  Sometimes the prey of this parasites are gays who have blamed their sexual orientation for the bad decisions they have made and/or their substance abuse who then find themselves being recruited to be "ex-gays" for pay.  Other times, the prey are serial adulterers and those who have failed in marriage and life who then find a sense of belonging and respectability in their lives by "finding Jesus" and embracing cult religions.  The common thread throughout is the way the "godly folk" take advantage of the emotionally and psychologically weak to grow their cults and live a comfortable life living off the monetary support of their victims.  Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis fits the pattern.  A post at Civil Commotion describes the phenomenon well:
Kim Davis confirms yesterday’s speculation that her toxic religiosity is a consequence of her checkered marital/parental history. 

So, as I said then, her sense of self-worth comes from the old children’s song: Jesus loves me, this I know …

Her bizarre religiosity, that is, is merely the next step in the progression of the emotional/psychological problems that screwed-up her marriages.

I share the view that she remains responsible for her refusal to obey the law, and if fines or even jail are what it takes to compel her to fulfill her plain responsibilities, then … OK. But let’s not misapprehend what is going on here: She is a severely troubled person, and she is being grievously misused by amoral predators whose marketing shtick is crafted to appeal to damaged people like her. Her troubles have made her the acolyte of a cult.
As I write this post, the National Organization for Marriage, Liberty Counsel and other flim flam groups are making money begs aimed at the ignorant and gullible seeking to rake money into their coffers.  Even backward states have consumer protection laws to protect citizens from con artists and charlatans.  Except in the case of religion.  Sadly, no state has laws to protect against citizens from parasites and con artist who wrap themselves in  the cloak of religion.   The time has come to end the undeserved deference given to religion and parasitic cults.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

The Pushback Against Unfair Labor Practices

As noted in a post yesterday, the wages of most Americans have stagnated over the last 40 years and most of the profits of soaring worker productivity has gone to business owners and large corporations.  The power of labor unions which helped build America's middle class has been crippled and far too many employees find themselves with no real bargaining power.  Adding to the employment racket is the practice of making employees "salaried workers" and then demanding hours of work that effective drive down the real hourly wages paid to the ridiculous with no chance for overtime pay.  Jeb Bush thinks American need to work longer hours and the GOP wants to destroy unions to further erode workers' power.  As a column in the Washington Post notes, some efforts are being made to even the playing field.  Here are highlights:

On this Labor Day, American workers may be beginning to reclaim what by right should be theirs. To be sure, the economic statistics continue to appall: In the second quarter of this year, for instance, labor costs rose at their lowest rate since the early ’80s — a measly 0.2 percent, despite steady economic growth and falling unemployment. That’s what happens when the income gains from work accrue almost entirely to owners, stock players and top executives.

But the pushback against the imbalances of power and income between workers (who have little) and employers (who have lots), which has been spurred by fast-food workers’ “Fight for 15,” is showing some distinctly positive results. Ordinances to raise the local minimum wage, for instance, which first popped up in liberal strongholds such as San Francisco and Seattle, have in the past few weeks been enacted in St. Louis; Kansas City, Mo.; and Birmingham, Ala. A proposed ballot measure to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2021 in California — home to one of every eight U.S. workers — commanded 68 percent support in a Field Poll survey last week.

Unions are polling better, too: In a mid-August Gallup Poll, they had a 58 percent approval rating, including 66 percent among adults under 35. That’s radically at odds, of course, with the percentage of private-sector workers who actually belong to unions, which is just 6.6 percent. The chasm between the number who approve and the number who belong stems from decades of union smashing by employers

Last week, the President Obama-appointed majority on the National Labor Relations Board ruled that a local union representing staffing agency employees at Browning Ferris, a California waste-management company, could bargain with Browning Ferris itself: The parent company, the board members said, was really a joint employer. The new joint-employer standard will help fast-food workers seeking to unionize chains such as McDonald’s, but it likely will spur even more immediate unionization efforts in such permatemp-reliant workplaces as warehouses, hotels and factories.

No effort to reduce our towering levels of inequality can succeed unless workers can amass more power. On this Labor Day, they appear to be finding ways to do just that. 

The GOP'sReal Problem - Its Voters

At the risk of sounding once again like a broken record, the current state of the Republican Party is the result of the short term cynicism of the so-called GOP establishment that invited crazies into the party base with an eye to short term election successes with no thought as to the long term effects on the GOP.  As the crazies - especially the Christofascists - flooded into the party, sane people fled in horror (I did and so did members of my extended family) leaving the inmates in charge of the asylum.  With the rise of Donald Trump, we are seeming the fulfillment of such short term thinking.  The Frankenstein monster has matured and will be difficult, if not impossible to kill.  A piece in Mother Jones looks at the sickness of the GOP base.  Here are excerpts:

Only a few weeks ago, pundits and political observers roundly proclaimed that Donald Trump, the reality-show tycoon who's mounted a takeover of the GOP, would flame out, fade, implode, or whatever. Jeb Bush's campaign aides were telling journalists that they had no concerns about Trump threatening a third Bush regime. "Trump is, frankly, other people's problem," said Michael Murphy, the chief strategist for Bush's super-PAC.

It's becoming clearer, though, that Trump, still dominating the polls and the headlines as the Republican front-runner, could well pose an existential threat to the Grand Old Party (or at least, its establishment, including the Bush campaign). But the fundamental problem for the Rs is not Trump; it's Republican voters.

Trump is a brash and arrogant celebrity who is well skilled in pushing buttons, belittling foes, uttering outrageous remarks, causing a ruckus, and drawing attention to one thing: himself. . . . But none of this would matter if there was no demand for his bombastic, anger-fueled, anti-immigrant populism—that is, if Republican voters did not crave a leader who equates undocumented immigrants with rapists and who claims that everyone else in political life is a nincompoop selling out the US of A to the Chinese, the Mexicans, and just about every other government.

Trump is tapping into a current that runs throughout the various strains of the GOP. It's a current of frustration, despair, anger, and yearning—a yearning for a time when the United States will not be confronted by difficult economic and national security challenges, and when you will not have to press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish.

[A]t least half of the GOP is unhinged and living in its own fact-free and perhaps Fox-fed reality. To top it off, many Republican voters have expected the GOPers in control of Congress to kill Obamacare, shut down the government and slash the budget, prevent Obama from issuing executive orders, and impeach the pretender who inhabits the White House. 

The anti-immigrant, anti-Obama, anti-establishment sentiment that Trump is tapping runs deep within the Republican electorate. Many Republicans clearly see the president as a foreign-born secret Muslim with a clandestine plan to weaken, if not ruin, the United States—remember the death panels—and they have a dark, nearly apocalyptic view of Obama’s America.

Voters this dissatisfied and this detached from reality will be looking for someone who can vent for them. Trump does that. He also promises quick and simple action to address their concerns: a wall (not  a fence), great trade deals at a snap of the finger, the end of ISIS, you name it.

Republicans eagerly courted the tea partiers and other dissatisfied voters. They rode that tiger into the congressional majority in the low-turnout elections of 2010 and 2014. They whipped up the frenzy.

The point is, the GOP is overflowing with voters who long for a candidate who echoes their rage and resentment. Whatever happens with Trump in the months ahead, this bloc of voters won't go away. Neither will their fury. This is the true dilemma for the Republican Party and its pooh-bahs. Trump, the deal-making businessman, is merely responding to market forces. He's just the supplier. Trump is the drug, and the voters need to score. The demand is what counts.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Wages Stagnant For 40 Years - But Not Because of American Workers

Jeb Bush thinks that American workers need to work longer hours to increase their stagnant wages. Scott Walker seeks to destroy labor unions so that workers are at the total mercy of their employers, be they private or public.  In fact, most of the Republican presidential candidates support policies that support the creation of a new Gilded Age while throwing average Americans in the gutter despite sound bite lip service to the contrary.  A piece in Think Progress looks at the stagnant wages that have plagued American workers for 40 years even as worker productivity has soared.  The take away?  Wages are stagnant, but not due to the laziness or actions of workers.  Here are excerpts:
Americans keep working harder and producing more economic growth. But they’re not getting rewarded with any extra pay for it, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

After the end of World War II, the country experienced decades of steady economic growth that also translated into steady increases in pay for the workers who were fueling it. As the report’s authors write, “For decades following the end of World War II, inflation-adjusted hourly compensation (including employer-provided benefits as well as wages) for the vast majority of American workers rose in line with increases in economy-wide productivity.” 

But that link was severed starting in 1973. Between then and now, productivity, or the amount of economic output generated by an average hour of work, grew 72.2 percent. On the other hand, pay for the typical worker rose just 9.2 percent. 

Compensation for the median worker, or the person making exactly the middle of compensation, adjusted for inflation, grew just 8.7 percent between 1973 and 2014, or a 0.2 percent annual rate. Yet net productivity grew at a 1.33 percent annual pace in the same time. Things have gotten even worse since 2000: net productivity has grown 21.6 percent since then, yet inflation-adjusted compensation for the median worker grew just 1.8 percent.

What this means is that just 15 percent of the extra growth workers generated between the early 1970s and the present has translated into higher wages and benefits for them. Since 2000, just 8 percent of productivity growth has gone back to workers.

And it means that stagnating wages aren’t workers’ fault. . . . The paper notes that there are three dynamics that can explain the divergence between growth in productivity and growth in wages and benefits: growing inequality in compensation, or skyrocketing pay for those at the top of the economy compared to everyone else; a greater share of income going toward corporate profits and not wages; and the increase in consumer prices that means wages don’t stretch as far. The first two basically indicate growing income inequality, and together they account for more than two-thirds of the divergence between productivity and pay between 1973 and 2014.

[I]ncome inequality has resulted from deliberate government policy choices, “policy decisions made on behalf of those with the most income, wealth, and power that suppressed wage growth.” Research has consistently shown that the government is more responsive to the desires of the rich than everyone else. The policies Mishel points out are those that undercut labor standards, such as allowing unemployment to remain too high, failing to raise the minimum wage, letting overtime protections erode, and the corrosion of collective bargaining rights.

[A]ny proposals that increase economic growth without also finding ways to make sure that growth translates into higher wages won’t benefit the vast majority of Americans. Otherwise, the current break between productivity and pay will simply continue.

Mark Herring to Run for Re-election as Atorney General

Today Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that he will seek re-election as Attorney General in 2017 rather than run for Governor.  Herring has been an amazing ally of the LGBT community since his election in 2013, including but not limited to his role in refusing to defend Virginia's unconstitutional gay marriage ban.  For the husband and I, Herring's announcement is welcome news for an added reason: now there will be no contest for the gubernatorial nomination between Herring and Lt. Governor Ralph Northam whom we count as a personal friend.  We have supported both men in the past and hosted a fundraiser in our home for Herring in 201 (see the image above)  and have already contributed to Northam's 2017 bid for Governor (we have offered to host an event for Northam in our home as well).  The Richmond Times-Dispatch has more on Mark Herring's announcement.  Here are highlights:
Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced Wednesday that he is running for re-election in 2017, avoiding a divisive fight with Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam for the Democratic nomination for governor.

“Our future progress as a commonwealth requires an attorney general who is fiercely and fearlessly committed to promoting justice, equality and opportunity for all Virginians,” Herring told reporters at a news conference on Capitol Square.
Northam said in a statement that Herring, whom he calls “a good friend,” has his full support.

“In just 20 months, Mark has changed the course of our history by fighting for marriage equality, Dreamers, the Chesapeake Bay, and a host of other important issues,” Northam said.

Herring is the first attorney general to seek re-election since Democrat Mary Sue Terry. She won re-election in 1989 and then lost the 1993 contest for governor to Republican George Allen.

“This is great news for Virginia Democrats,” said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “Parties can still win despite a divisive nominating contest, but it is much easier if you have no fight for the top position and an incumbent anchoring the ticket in the AG spot.”
Not surprisingly, the voter disenfranchising, anti-gay, anti-women, anti-Hispanic Virginia GOP had less than kind things to say about Herring:
The Republican Party of Virginia said in a statement that the “new face of crusading liberalism” has decided to run again for attorney general. “Mark Herring has run the Virginia Attorney General’s Office like Barack Obama’s Justice Department. While he promised to get politics out of the office, he has done the exact opposite,” said John Whitbeck, chairman of the state GOP.  “Herring has at times refused to enforce Virginia law and instead advanced a Bernie Sanders-style progressive agenda.”
Whitbeck and those in now in control of the Virginia GOP  want gays back in the closet and invisible, women barefoot and pregnant and submissive to their husbands, and blacks back living under a defacto Jim Crow regime.  As for Hispanics, the Virginia GOP wants them to engage in "self-deportation" to use Mitt Romney's terminology.

Kim Davis and Robert Bentley - Poster Children for Chistofascist Hypocrisy

Time and time again the Christofascists who campaign against LGBT equality and same sex marriage in particular prove that it is they, not gays, who are the real threat to the "sanctity of marriage."  As the four times married Rowan County clerk faces a contempt of court hearing tomorrow, new bomb shells are underscoring her rank hypocrisy on the issue of "Biblical marriage."  U.S. News & World Reports has some of the salacious details.  Here are highlights:
The Kentucky county clerk facing potentially stiff penalties for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses has been married four times, raising questions of hypocrisy and selective application of the Bible to her life. 

The marriages are documented in court records obtained by U.S. News, which show that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis divorced three times, first in 1994, then 2006 and again in 2008. 

She gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband. They were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second. Davis worked at the clerk's office at the time of each divorce and has since remarried.

Davis has described her desire to strictly adhere to the Bible in stark terms and thus far has shown no sign of bending to court orders on same-sex marriage. She said Tuesday she fears going to hell for violating "a central teaching" of the Bible if she complies with the orders.

Staver says “it’s not really relevant, it’s something that happened in her past” and that her conversion to Christianity about four years ago wiped her slate clean. “It’s something that’s not relevant to the issue at hand,” he says. “She was 180 degrees changed.”

Davis' selective application of the Bible is akin to that of Maggie Gallagher who seems to have never gotten over her unwed mother status in college.  As blogger friend Bob Felton notes:
It doesn’t need much imagination to understand how that string of bad marriages and relationships, and the complicated paternity of her children, might have had a debilitating effect upon her judgment, her self-esteem, her sense of self and worth.

And then she encounters a predatory cult that targets the insecure and the damaged, and fastens on to it like a lamprey — because her ‘church family’ and the love of an Invisible Friend are all that she has.

Maybe that’s how it happened, and maybe not; obviously, I speculate. It’s a familiar progression, however.
Gov. Robert Bentley and
Rebekah Caldwell Mason
Davis, however, isn't the only hypocrite when it comes to marriage.  The wife of anti-gay Robert Bentley, Governor of Alabama, has filed for divorce?  Why?  Because of her husband's affair with a staffer.  Like Davis, Bentley is a complete hypocrite.  Here are details from Legal Schnauzer:
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley engaged in an extramarital affair with his former communications director, leading First Lady Dianne Bentley to file for divorce last Friday after 50 years of marriage, sources tell Legal Schnauzer.

Rebekah Caldwell Mason, a married mother of three from Bentley's home base of Tuscaloosa, was the governor's mistress
in an affair that sources say raises a number of possible legal issues--including use of the state jet and a state trooper's services for personal reasons that had nothing to do with Bentley's official role.

According to Dianne Bentley's divorce complaint, the couple separated in January 2015 because of a "complete incompatibility of temperament" and a "conflict of personalities which destroys the legitimate aims of matrimony." In fact, sources say, Gov. Bentley's affair with Mason destroyed the matrimonial bonds.

The 72-year-old Bentley, a Republican serving in his second term, repeatedly has touted his Christian faith and conservative "family values" to attract voters.
He long has served as a deacon at First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa. Bentley made national headlines in 2011 when, shortly after his inauguration, he said, ""Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister. And I want to be your brother."

Rebekah Caldwell Mason, sources say, quickly became more than just a communications director to Bentley. Their affair became so widely known that it diluted any moral authority the governor might have had. 

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Jeb Bush Embraces Risky Fight with Donald Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The GOP's Wrong Headed Obsession with Iran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

More Tuesday Male Beauty

New Survey Unscores the Insanity of the GOP Base

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

Quotes of the Day

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

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

Batshitery Continues to Reign in Rowan County, Kentucky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty

The GOP has Become Increasingly Reliant on Reality-Defying Paranoia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 31, 2015

More Monday Male Beauty

GOP Freaks Out Over Trump’s Populist Tone on Raising Taxes

Donald Trump continues to be the number one spectacle in the GOP 2016 presidential clown car.  Now, he has the GOP establishment truly running scared: he is talking about the need to raise taxes on hedge fund managers and penalize corporations who use tax laws against what The Donald sees as America's best interests.  Such tax policies would cut directly against the GOP's efforts to give birth to a new Gilded Age.  Worse yet, they might educate some in the GOP base that voting Republican is against their own best economic interest.  Personally, I love it!  The New York Times looks at Trump's tax policy statements and the vapors and swooning amongst the establishment and nutty groups like the misnamed Club for Growth.  Here are excerpts:
For years, Republicans have run for office on promises of cutting taxes and bolstering business to stimulate economic growth, pledging allegiance to a Reaganesque model of conservatism that has largely become the party’s orthodoxy.

But this election cycle, the Republican presidential candidate who currently leads in most polls is taking a different approach, and it is jangling the nerves of some of the party’s most traditional supporters.

[Trump] would raise taxes in certain areas, particularly on corporations that he believes do not act in the best interests of the United States.  

Mr. Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on American companies that put their factories in other countries. He has suggested he would increase taxes on the compensation of hedge fund managers. And he has vowed to change laws that allow American companies to benefit from cheaper tax rates by using mergers to base their operations outside the United States.

The issue of taxing as ordinary income the compensation of hedge fund managers — a share of investment profits known as carried interest — played prominently during the 2012 presidential election. Financial disclosures revealed that Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, had paid a relatively low tax rate over the years because he was earning retirement income in such a way from Bain Capital, a private equity firm.

Investment managers generally pay only a 15 to 20 percent capital gains tax on profits earned from their customers holdings, a treatment that Democrats often argue amplifies income inequality. Mr. Trump wants fund managers to “pay up.”

Mr. Trump’s ideas are not new. The Obama Treasury Department supports a detailed overhaul of the corporate tax code that involves taxing hedge fund and private equity compensation as ordinary income and sweeping changes to the way American corporations are taxed overseas.
By inserting the issues into the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump has turned an obscure effort on Capitol Hill into a potentially major fight in the national Republican Party.

Mr. Trump has also threatened to make companies like Ford “pay a price” for shifting their production abroad. And while he claims to be friendly with many of them, he has called hedge fund managers “paper pushers” who tend to get lucky on the road to riches. The populist tone is playing well with a subset of the Republican electorate that is frustrated with the status quo, but there are signs that Mr. Trump is beginning to alienate some in the party’s base.

Corporate inversions are another issue on which Mr. Trump’s positions have been slippery. This practice — companies acquire smaller overseas firms and move their headquarters to countries with lower taxes — has become increasingly popular, costing the United States billions of dollars in lost revenue and drawing the ire of Democrats in Congress.