Saturday, September 19, 2015

More Saturday Male Beauty

New Evidence That Football Destroys Players' Brains

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
I will confess at the outset that I am NOT a fan of football, especially at the pro-level for a number of reasons.  First, I see pro-football as the current incarnation of the Roman gladiatorial games of old.  In my view, the wider public should not get sport and entertainment out of seeing others injure one another.  And then there are the obscene salaries that pro-football players make that are totally out of any relation to their positive contributions to society.  Adding to my aggravation is the fact that many members of the public pay not attention to world events, politics and other things that really matter in where society and the globe are headed, yet they know every detail about dumb lug football players some of whom strike  me as having the same intellect as a Percheron or a  Clydesdale (maybe even less).  Now, with a grandson, I worry the he - or more likely his father - may want him to play football when he gets older.  Therefore, I am happy that more and more studies are revealing that the sport is inherently injurious to players. Mother Jones looks at new study findings:
A new joint study by the US Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University found that 87 out of 91 former NFL players who donated their brains for examination showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease also known as CTE. The report out of the nation's largest brain bank, which received a $1 million research grant from the NFL in 2010, supports prior research suggesting that playing football could have long-lasting neurological effects over the course of an athlete's life.

As reported first by Frontline:
In total, the [Boston University] lab has found CTE in the brain tissue in 131 out of 165 individuals who, before their deaths, played football either professionally, semi-professionally, in college or in high school.

Forty percent of those who tested positive were the offensive and defensive linemen who come into contact with one another on every play of a game, according to numbers shared by the brain bank with FRONTLINE. That finding supports past research suggesting that it's the repeat, more minor head trauma that occurs regularly in football that may pose the greatest risk to players, as opposed to just the sometimes violent collisions that cause concussions.
CTE can only be accurately identified posthumously, and it's important to remember that many of the ex-players who donated their brains to BU did so because they thought they might have the disease. Still, the results are more bad news for the NFL, which for years has been criticized over its handling of concussions and brain research. The league has long denied a link between the sport and long-term brain disease . . . but in April it gained approval for a $1 billion settlement with about 5,000 retired players, resolving concussion-related lawsuits.

Dr. Ann McKee, who is the chief neuropathologist at the brain bank, told Frontline: "People think that we're blowing this out of proportion, that this is a very rare disease and that we're sensationalizing it. My response is that where I sit, this is a very real disease. We have had no problem identifying it in hundreds of players."

Evangelicals and the Carson Illusion

I typically disagree with most everything columnist Ross Douthat has to say.  He's far too believing in religious fairy tales and too often believes that "godly Christians" deserve undeserved deference or, worse yet, special rights.  But on occasion, he does to get things at least partly right.  In this case, it's his analysis of the idiocy of the evangelical Christian crowd and their growing attachment to retired surgeon Ben Carson who one of my sisters (a nurse practitioner) once knew when they both worked at Johns Hopkins medical center. - she thinks Carson has gone crazy compared to the man she once knew.  When one bases one's life on fantasy and myths, one is likely to be hoodwinked by frauds and charlatans - and the down right crazy.  Here are highlights fro Douthat's column in the New York Times:

Over the last month, as Donald Trump expanded his polling lead, prominent conservatives passed from a mild bemusement to a weary patience to a slow-burning fury with the voters — the “Trumpen Proletariat,” as National Review’s Jonah Goldberg memorably dubbed them — who support him.The fed-up columnists have reasonable questions for Trump-supporting Republicans.

But if you’re looking for the candidate whose polling surge looks most like a march of voter folly, the Donald and his Trumpistas wouldn’t be the place I’d start. Instead, I would pick the Ben Carson phenomenon, and the evangelical Christians who increasingly form the core of his support.

[T]he growing evangelical embrace of Carson is arguably a greater folly than Trumpmania. That’s because the Donald, for all his proud ignorance about policy detail, is actually running an ideologically distinctive campaign:  . . . .

It’s a class revolt, driven by a sadly-justifiable sense that Republican elites don’t have working-class interests close enough to heart. And it’s already won some (very) modest victories for populism — by prodding Scott Walker to make an economic case against low-skilled immigration, for instance, or by encouraging Jeb Bush to go after hedge fund managers in his tax plan.

Carson, on the other hand, is running a more content-free campaign. Like Trump, he’s underinformed and prone to wild rhetorical flights, but unlike the Donald he doesn’t have a distinctive platform. He’s offering a collection of pieties and crankery; mostly, his candidacy is just about the man himself.

And unfortunately evangelical voters have a weakness for this kind of pitch.  . . .
the evangelical tendency has been to look for a kind of godly hero, a Christian leader who could win the White House and undo every culture-war defeat.

Such unrealistic ideas are hardly unique to the religious right. But evangelical culture, as James Davison Hunter notes in “To Change the World,” his magisterial account of recent Christian engagement with American politics, has a particular fondness for the idea of the history-altering individual, the hope that “one person can stand at the crossroads and change things for good.”
As Hunter’s book points out, neither political nor cultural change usually happens like this.
In this election cycle, though, the evangelical hero quest is particularly self-defeating. With same-sex marriage established nationwide and social liberalism ascendant, religious conservatives have a clear policy “ask” they should be pressing every major Republican contender to embrace. They need guarantees that the next G.O.P. administration will move proactively — through something like Senator Mike Lee’s evolving First Amendment Defense Act — to protect religious schools and charities from losing grants or accreditation or even tax-exempt status because they maintain a traditional position on sexual ethics.

I’m sure that a President Ben Carson would deliver these protections. I’m equally sure that the longer the fantasy of a Carson presidency persists, the less likely it becomes that religious conservatives will get them.

Sadly, Douthat still cannot get beyond his own religious beliefs and realize that the only Americans who have their religious freedom under attack are those who are not the evangelicals and Christofascists.  Having one's ability to inflict ones beliefs on the rest of the populace is not persecution. Indeed, such restricts merely stop the Christofascists from persecuting others.  Perhaps if Douthat and like minded far right Christians were not so self-centered and selfish, they would be able to grasp this simple reality.

Saturday Morning Maler Beauty

Fantasies and Fictions at G.O.P. Debate

In an op-ed in the New York Times, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman adds to the slaps downs being give to the Republican Party and its would be nominees in the wake of the GOP presidential debate on Wednesday evening.  As noted in an earlier post yesterday, the Republican Party is increasingly un-tethered from reality and now is most focused on restating talking points that will win points with the racist, homophobic, misogynist base of the party or adhere to an fantastical ideology that wants to recreate a version of the 1950's that never existed except perhaps for the privileged positions held by whites.  Here are column highlights:
I’ve been going over what was said at Wednesday’s Republican debate, and I’m terrified. You should be, too. After all, given the vagaries of elections, there’s a pretty good chance that one of these people will end up in the White House.

Why is that scary? I would argue that all of the G.O.P. candidates are calling for policies that would be deeply destructive at home, abroad, or both. But even if you like the broad thrust of modern Republican policies, it should worry you that the men and woman on that stage are clearly living in a world of fantasies and fictions. And some seem willing to advance their ambitions with outright lies.

You’re probably tired of hearing this, but modern G.O.P. economic discourse is completely dominated by an economic doctrine — the sovereign importance of low taxes on the rich — that has failed completely and utterly in practice over the past generation.

Think about it. Bill Clinton’s tax hike was followed by a huge economic boom, the George W. Bush tax cuts by a weak recovery that ended in financial collapse. The tax increase of 2013 and the coming of Obamacare in 2014 were associated with the best job growth since the 1990s. Jerry Brown’s tax-raising, environmentally conscious California is growing fast; Sam Brownback’s tax- and spending-slashing Kansas isn’t.

Yet the hold of this failed dogma on Republican politics is stronger than ever, with no skeptics allowed. . . . . The only candidate talking sense about economics was, yes, Donald Trump, who declared that “we’ve had a graduated tax system for many years, so it’s not a socialistic thing.”

If the discussion of economics was alarming, the discussion of foreign policy was practically demented.

Indeed, the only candidate who seemed remotely sensible on national security issues was Rand Paul, which is almost as disturbing as the spectacle of Mr. Trump being the only voice of economic reason.

The real revelation on Wednesday, however, was the way some of the candidates went beyond expounding bad analysis and peddling bad history to making outright false assertions, and probably doing so knowingly, which turns those false assertions into what are technically known as “lies.”

Mr. Christie’s mendacity pales, however, in comparison to that of Carly Fiorina, who was widely hailed as the “winner” of the debate.
Some of Mrs. Fiorina’s fibs involved repeating thoroughly debunked claims about her business record. No, she didn’t preside over huge revenue growth. She made Hewlett-Packard bigger by acquiring other companies, mainly Compaq, and that acquisition was a financial disaster.
But the truly awesome moment came when she asserted that the videos being used to attack Planned Parenthood show “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” No, they don’t. Anti-abortion activists have claimed that such things happen, but have produced no evidence, just assertions mingled with stock footage of fetuses.

So is Mrs. Fiorina so deep inside the bubble that she can’t tell the difference between facts and agitprop? Or is she deliberately spreading a lie? And most important, does it matter?

I began writing for The Times during the 2000 election campaign, and what I remember above all from that campaign is the way the conventions of “evenhanded” reporting allowed then-candidate George W. Bush to make clearly false assertions

Now we have presidential candidates who make Mr. Bush look like Abe Lincoln. But who will tell the people?

Once again, part of the problem is easily identified: the mainstream media that refuses to expose and call out GOP lies.   This conduct lead to the Iraq War fiasco, yet the media has learned nothing.  If anything, it has become even more irresponsible. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Jeb, Your Brother Did Not Keep Us "Safe"

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As noted in the prior post, one of the most idiotic things said during the GOP presidential "debate" on Wednesday was Jeb "Jebbie" Bush's delusional statement that his brother had kept Americans "safe."  That kind of statement is only true in the alternate universe of today's GOP and ignores the reality that George "Chimperator" Bush had warnings of a threat of an major Al Quaeda attack and ignored it.  After allowing 9-11 to happen, Jebbie's idiot brother lied and mislead the nation into an unnecessary War that took the lives of thousands of Americans and cost the nation billions and billions of dollars better spent on rebuilding America domestically.  Oh, and did I mention that the Chimperator set the stage for the rise of ISIS?  Only in an alternate universe is this keeping us "safe."  Think Progress delves further into the insanity of Jebbie's statement which shows his total unfitness for the White House.  Here are excerpts:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush doubled down on the idea that his brother “kept us safe” as president on Thursday — making an even more explicit connection to the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center — the day after he made the claim during the second Republican presidential debate on CNN.

His campaign tweeted a graphic with the phrase “he kept us safe” paired with the carnage after the attacks. . . . . It’s a whitewashed version of history. 

Much of the analysis following the World Trade Center attacks revealed that the Bush administration ignored warnings that such a plot could be in the works. Declassified documents indicate that Osama bin Laden had been planning the attacks for years. But rather than preparing for potential terrorist attacks, reports indicated that the Bush administration was more focused on missile defense. 

Furthermore, even if Bush is trying to argue that it was his brother’s post-9/11 counterterrorism strategy that kept America “safe,” most evidence indicates that the war in Iraq was dangerously misguided. The Iraq war wasn’t linked to the attacks on U.S. soil, and a 2006 intelligence report indicated that the U.S. presence in Iraq actually worsened the threat of terrorism. Ultimately, nearly 5,000 American troops and other allied troops gave their lives during the war in Iraq. 

The Fact Free World of Today's GOP

I have long said that today's Republican Party no longer functions in world of facts and objective reality.  Instead, much of the party and certainly a majority of the GOP base lives in a fantasy world.  It wasn't always this way, but the slide to lunacy began, in my view, when the Christofascists began their insidious hijacking of the GOP grassroots more than 25 years ago.  And as those who base their lives and world view on ancient myths authored by unknown, ignorant individuals have increased in the party, sane and rational individuals have felt compelled to escape the asylum.  The result is the on going spectacle of the GOP presidential nominee field which would have horrified Republicans of forty or fifty years ago.  The New York Times looks at the fact free world in which today's GOP functions.  Here are highlights:

Eleven presidential candidates had three prime-time hours on the national stage on Wednesday to tell the American people why they should lead the country. . . . . the Republican Party’s “A-Team,” as one of them, Mike Huckabee, said at the outset.

And that, America, is frightening. Peel back the boasting and insults, the lies and exaggerations common to any presidential campaign. What remains is a collection of assertions so untrue, so bizarre, that they form a vision as surreal as the Ronald Reagan jet looming behind the candidates’ lecterns.

It felt at times as if the speakers were no longer living in a fact-based world where actions have consequences, programs take money and money has to come from somewhere. Where basic laws — like physics and the Constitution — constrain wishes. Where Congress and the public, allies and enemies, markets and militaries don’t just do what you want them to, just because you say they will.

Start with immigration, and the idea that any president could or should engineer the mass expulsion of 11 million unauthorized immigrants. Not one candidate said that a 21st-century trail of tears, deploying railroad cars, federal troops and police dogs on a continental scale, cannot happen and would be morally obscene.

On foreign affairs, there was a lot of talk about not talking with bad people. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said his first act would be to tear up the Iran deal, throwing the nuclear race back to the ayatollahs and rupturing global alliances — but making a point! Carly Fiorina said: “What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic States. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message.”

We get the message, and it’s scary.

Jeb Bush spun a particularly repellent fantasy. Speaking reverently of his brother the president, he said, “He kept us safe,” and invoked the carnage of 9/11. Wait, what? Did he mean George W. Bush, who was warned about the threat that Al Qaeda would attack? Who then invaded a non sequitur country, Iraq, over a nonexistent threat?

When the A-Team got around to science and health, many of them promised to help Americans by killing the program that gives millions of them medical insurance.

Despite an abundance of serious issues to talk about, nobody offered solutions to problems like child poverty, police and gun violence, racial segregation, educational gaps, competition in a global economy and crumbling infrastructure. On looming disasters (the changing climate) and more immediate ones (a possible government shutdown over, of all things, Planned Parenthood), the debate offered no reassurance that grown-ups were at the table, or even in the neighborhood.
The insanity is the result of the rise of the Christofascists in the GOP and the years and years over which the GOP has fanned the insecurity of whites who see their era of white privilege waning.  Things did not have to be this way but for the short term cynicism of the so-called GOP establishment that welcomed in the insane and delusional in the hope of winning the next election cycle with no thought to the long term damage being done to both the party and the nation.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

More Thursday Male Beauty

Anti-Gay Animus Continues to Reign Supreme in the GOP

Despite the claims - or perhaps it is wishful thinking - of some that the Republican Party is moderating its positions on gay rights and marriage equality, one thing that last night's GOP presidential circus, a/k/a debate, made clear is that anti-gay animus is alive and well in the GOP.  The gay bashing began with Mike Huckabee's delusional defense of renegade county clerk and serial adulterer Kim Davis who Huckabee would have simpletons believe is a near reincarnation of Joan of Arc,.  Then Jeb "Jebbie" Bush couldn't rush in soon enough to prostitute himself to the Christofascists by whining that "reasonable accommodation" should be made for Davis so that she can refuse to do the job that she was elected to perform.  Jebbie made a tawdry street walker look virtuous in comparison.  Like the Catholic Church, the only thing that will bring change is the mass defection of followers. Once that happens and the money spigots slow and one election after another is lost, only then may the GOP move into the 21st Century.  A piece in the Huffington Post looks at the GOP's continued anti-gay animus.  Here are highlights:

Last night's second debate of the top tier GOP candidates -- as well as the earlier bottom feeeders' debate -- confirmed something so many pundits claimed would not be the case: Marriage equality and LGBT rights are 2016 campaign issues, and probably will be issues in the GOP for a long time to come. 

Jeb Bush agreed with Mike Huckabee that Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was jailed for refusing to give out marriage licenses, should be provided special "accommodations" so she could opt-out of serving certain members of the public. 

 This is extraordinary considering the polling that has shown the vast majority of Americans -- 63 percent in a Washington Post/ABC poll -- believe Davis should be required to give out licenses. Even some prominent religious conservative thinkers have said Davis is a disaster for their cause. 

[L]ast night showed us that Bush, rather than teaching the GOP how to talk about the issue in a new way, has been completely schooled by the Mike Huckabee crowd that you've still got to speak about it in the same old bigoted way in the GOP. Huckabee, distorting the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court while defending Davis, implied that he and Bush had the same position about the Kentucky clerk, and Bush refused to distance himself.

None of this should be surprising, however, since Bush by spring of this year had shown what direction he was going to go -- and it was decidedly not "gay friendly," earlier reports notwithstanding. In the context of marriage equality he spoke of defending "religious liberty" -- the new code word for promoting anti-gay positions -- and has since said, as he did last night, that florists and other businesses should be exempted from serving gays even where laws protect LGBT people against such discrimination.

In the second-tier debate earlier in the night, both Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal stoked the Kim Davis issue in ridiculous and ugly ways, playing to the base and clearly viewing it as their only way to get some traction.  

From immigration to foreign policy, the GOP, via it's field of presidential candidates, has shown it is as extreme as ever. And, no matter the pundits' claims or the hopes of some gay activists, that holds true on LGBT rights as well. 

Hate and division are about all the GOP has to peddle while it opposes every Democrat or Obama led initiative yet offers no credible alternative.  The GOP is bankrupt both in terms of creative ideas and basic morality and decency.

Bernie Sanders Takes on the Modern Day Pharisees at Liberty University

I make no secret of the fact that I view the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia as a foul blight on Virginia.    Liberty University and its affiliated entities make the Pharisees of the New Testament look like veritable good Samaritans and charity workers. For the most part the University and its faculty and student body flock to gay-hating, religious extremist who hate just about everyone but themselves and the support almost every reverse Robin Hood element of the GOP agenda.  They, like many of the "godly folk" are perhaps the strongest argument for disclaiming any affiliation with Christianity.  Thus, it was the height of audacity for Bernie Sanders to address the Liberty student body at a convocation earlier this week.  Surprisingly, at least some of the student body and faculty recognized their betrayal of the Gospel message when faced with Sanders' honest and compelling call out to the modern day Pharisee crowd.  Daily Kos looks at the reaction of one evangelical's reaction to Sanders' address.  Here are highlights:

An Evangelical pastoral counselor and Liberty University graduate posted a short sermon about Bernie Sanders' speech at Liberty University to reddit yesterday:
He was convicting the Christian leaders and the religious leaders in that university, and calling us out for being complicit in the abandonment of those who suffer, the least of these, and siding with the powerful and rich, the masters of this world.  And he was convicting us and calling us out, and we scorned him, and we stared him down; and, with sour faces, we thought, "Who is this wacko, and why do all these people seem to follow him, seem to like him – this wild-haired Jew, crying out from the wilderness of the political left, in his hoarse voice?"
When I heard Bernie speaking in that way, when I saw that guy on stage at Liberty University, I saw John the Baptist...crying out to the religious leaders, the Pharisees of his day, calling them corrupt and complicit with those who have all the power and all the money and all the wealth, and abandoning the people that God loves, that God cares about...
As I heard Bernie Sanders crying out to the religious leaders at Liberty University, in his hoarse voice, with his wild hair – this Jew – and he proclaimed justice over us, he called us to account, for being complicit with those who are wealthy and those who are powerful, and for abandoning the poor, the least of these, who Jesus said he had come to bring good news to. And in that moment something occurred to me.
I listened to Bernie Sanders as he said he wanted to welcome the immigrants and give them dignity, as he said he wanted to care for the sick children and mothers and fathers who do not have health care, as he said he wanted to decrease the amount of human beings who are corralled like cattle in the prisons, as he said he wanted to do justice for those who have nothing and live homeless. And I remembered the words of Jesus who warned his disciples that there will be judgement, and on that day he will look to his friends, and he will say "Blessed are you for you cared for me, for I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you cared for me, I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was in prison and you came to visit me, I was homeless and you gave me shelter." And his disciples said, "When did we do any of those things for you?" And he said, "If you have done it for the least of these, you have done it for me."
Those words echoed in my heart as I listened to that crazy, hoarse-voiced, wild-haired Jew standing in front of the religious leaders of the Evangelical Movement, calling us to account, as a Jew once did before, telling us that he intends to care for the least of these, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to care for the sick, to set the prisoners free.
I wouldn't be much of a Christian if I didn't stand on the side of gospel for the poor, because, the last time I checked, that's where my master Jesus stood, and I'll stand with Him. And,  for now, that means I stand with Bernie Sanders.
 This evangelical pastor is much more eloquent than me when it comes to focusing on the manner in which the far right Christian extremists and the parasite like professional Christian set have betrayed the Gospel message and instead focused on hate, racism, homophobia and made a mockery of what the Gospels say a Christian should be.  If Christ existed - and I do have my doubts - and if the Gospels accurately portray his message, he would be horrified to see what the "godly folk" and hate merchants like Mike Huckabee, Mat Staver, Maggie Gallagher, and a host of others have done in his name.  Kudos to Sanders!

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

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Fact Checking GOP Lies on the Iran Deal

Whether it was out of a desire to play to the open racism of the GOP base as embodied in opposition to everything Obama, to delight the Christofascists who see war with Iran with near orgasms at the thought of killing Muslims, or pandering to the defense industry and companies like Halliburton who are profiteers in wartime, the GOP carnival barkers candidates could not say enough bad things about the Iran nuclear deal last night.  Whether or not what they said was true or in touch with reality, of course, did not matter given the primary voter audience that was the real target of last night circus.  A piece in Slate fact checks the GOP claims - something that will never happen on Fox News, a/k/a Faux News.  Here are article excerpts:

Not surprisingly, the recently negotiated nuclear agreement with Iran was a major topic of conversation at Wednesday’s GOP debates, but a lot of specifics appeared to get lost in the back-and-forth among the candidates. So who was stretching the truth, getting things right, and making stuff up? Here’s some context for the claims made on the stage at the Reagan Library.

Ted Cruz:
This deal will spend $100 billion, making the Obama administration the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.
The U.S. isn’t spending $100 billion on anything. According to the Treasury Department, Iran will recover roughly $100 billion of its own money that has been piling up in international banks due to sanctions. Once the International Atomic Energy Agency verifies Iran is complying with the deal, it will be able to access that money.

Claims that the deal will accelerate or slow Iran’s nuclear program are unprovable, but for what it’s worth, quite a few prominent scientists and former military officers think it’s the best way to prevent an Iranian bomb. 

John Kasich:
If they cheat, we slap the sanctions back on. If they help Hamas, we slap sanctions on, and if we find out they may be developing a nuclear weapon, the option is on the table.
Kasich suggested in his answer that while he believes in the utility of negotiating with hostile foreign governments and would keep the deal, he doesn’t like it, though it’s not entirely clear why. Kasich’s pledges to reimpose sanctions if necessary sound a bit like the “snapback” mechanism included in the deal, which would allow U.N. sanctions to be reapplied, without a vote by the Security Council, if Iran is found to be cheating. The reference to Hamas is misleading, as the deal doesn’t lift sanctions on Iran related to its support for terrorist groups and, as GOP critics have frequently pointed out, doesn’t require Iran to cease that support.

Scott Walker:
This president allowed Iran to get closer and closer. I would love to play cards with this guy because Barack Obama folds with everything on Iran.
If Walker means that Iran is getting “closer and closer” to acquiring a nuclear weapon, that contradicts the IAEA, which has stated that Iran is complying with the interim deal negotiated in 2013 and has halted much of its enrichment activity.

Jeb Bush:
We need to re-establish our commitment to Israel, which is tattered and we make sure they have the most sophisticated weapons to send a signal to Iran that we have Israel's back.
The government-to-government political relationship has undoubtedly gotten rockier under Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, but U.S. aid to Israel has continued to increase and will amount to $3.1 billion this year.

Mike Huckabee:
To give them this agreement, that the president treats like the Magna Carta but Iranians treat like toilet paper and we must simply make it very clear that the next president, one of us on this stage, will absolutely not honor that agreement and will destroy it and will be tough with Iran because otherwise, we put every person in this world in a very dangerous place. 
This is mostly a matter of opinion, but it’s hard to see how tearing up a deal would make Iran less likely to try to develop a nuclear weapon.

Donald Trump:
I've never seen anything like it. One of the worst contracts I've seen.
Really? Worse than Trump University?
Not surprisingly, none of the GOP candidates said a word about the largest financier of Islamic terrorism: Saudi Arabia. 

The GOP Debate Circus

I missed the first few minutes of last night's GOP circus debate and kept watching until the husband finally said that he could not stand it any longer (and after he yelled back at Mike Huckabee's sicken defense of Kim Davis).  Perhaps the most frightening thing is that the clown car occupants are what a once proud and rational political party has to offer the nation in the way of candidates. Other than perhaps Kasich, none strike me as fit for the office of presidency.  Rather, they are a bunch of pandering whores and con artist charlatans who would seriously put the nation at risk if they occupied the White House.  Many of the positions underscore just how dumbed down the GOP base has become that any of these individuals can be seen as a possible American president.  Dominating it all, of course, was Donald Trump, a true egomaniac who takes self-adoration to new heights.  A column in the New York Times looks at last night's circus.  Here are excerpts:
[S]ubstance had to muscle its way through the show business, by which I mean Donald Trump’s attempt to turn everything into an adolescent popularity contest and CNN’s willingness to reward that by filtering the entire evening through the prism of the Republican field’s proven ratings magnet: Trump, Trump, Trump.

What did Trump think of something mean that someone else on the stage had said about him? What did someone else think about something nasty that Trump had said about him or her?

Trump had insulted Jeb Bush’s wife: Discuss! Trump had insulted Carly Fiorina’s business career: Respond!

So it went, somewhat tediously and surreally, for many stretches of the debate on Wednesday night and especially for the first half-hour, during which Rand Paul took the precise measure of — and raised the correct question about — the egomaniacal front-runner.

“Do we want someone with that kind of character, that kind of careless language, to be negotiating with Putin?” Paul asked.

“I think really there’s a sophomoric quality that is entertaining about Mr. Trump, but I am worried,” he added, and I nodded so vigorously at the “worried” part that I’m going to need balm and a neck brace tomorrow.

Paul went on to single out Trump’s “visceral response to attack people on their appearance — short, tall, fat, ugly. My goodness, that happened in junior high.  . . . . And “junior high” is too easy on him, too kind. Trump comes from, and belongs in, the sandbox . . . 

I mentioned my nodding, but my real injuries came from shaking my head, over and over, because I couldn’t quite believe the Trump-centric nature of it all. I’m still mystified that he’s done this well in the polls for this long.

[H]ave we sunk to a point where we’re prepared to reach for someone so careless with his insinuations, so merrily and irresponsibly ignorant,  . . . 

Are we buoyed by a bully who calls anyone who disagrees with him a “loser,” promises vaguely that his presidency will be “unbelievable” (his favorite adjective, and an unintentionally telling one), and presents little besides his tumescent ego and stagey rage?

During the second half of the debate in particular, the conversation moved far enough away from Trump for all of the candidates to strut their stuff, for whatever that stuff was worth.

Cruz predictably won the awards for Most Strident and Most Smarmy, talking directly to the  camera rather than whoever had asked him a question.

I seriously worry about the future of the nation and what lays ahead for my children and grandchildren if one of these clowns makes it to the White House.  Be afraid, very afraid.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association Launches Campaign for Medicaid Expansion

Here in Virginia, the Virginia GOP - like the national party - opposes anything related to Barack Obama, including Medicaid expansion which would extend healthcare coverage to roughly 400,000 working Virginians and give desperately needed financial relief to many of Virginia's hospitals.  Perhaps such racist inspired conduct against America's first non-white president should not be surprising in the state that pioneered "Massive Resistance" and the closure of public schools rather than allow black children attend school with withe children.  But what is amazing is the fact that the Virginia GOP is willing to threaten the continued existence of many hospitals, especially in rural areas where the GOP retains power by playing on voter racism, homophobia and anti-immigrant bigotry.  To fight back, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA), has launched  a statewide public awareness campaign to "alert Virginians to the financial challenges confronting Virginia hospitals" and indirectly to alert Virginians to the damage being done to health care in Virginia by the Virginia GOP obstructionism and willingness to kick working families into the gutter.  Blue Virginia has highlighted some top points of the campaign's message:
*Virginia hospitals are vital both to people's health and to the economy; they generate $35.8 billion in economic activity, employ 115,026 people with a payroll of $7.9 billion and rank among the top five employers in 60% of Virginia counties.

*Virginia hospitals are facing significant economic headwinds. This is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country, receiving over 60% of its revenue from either Medicaid or Medicare. In Virginia, Medicaid pays about two thirds of what it costs hospitals to provide care, and more cuts in reimbursements are likely. "This is a non-sustainable situation."
* One-third (31 of 88) of Virginia’s acute care hospitals operated in the red in 2013.

*"We're here today to begin a dialogue to try to bring to the public's attention that there's a problem, that we are facing serious headwinds, and that there are a lot of health systems and hospitals in the state that are bailing water pretty seriously."

*The goal is to engage "all parts of the political spectrum" to come up with a "Virginia solution that will be sustainable for the long term."

*Virginia hospitals contribute to the overall health and well being of the Commonwealth, so "the ripple effects of policies that harm hospitals reach much farther and wider than hospitals or health care systems."
*"This isn't a partisan issue at all, this is truly a health care issue and a community issue."

*Today, there are "challenges that we've never faced before in the health care system, and it's becoming more and more difficult to meet the needs of the underserved while keeping our hospitals fiscally sound, and that's sometimes especially true in rural areas."
*Hospitals "want to start a dialogue about the real problems that exist and the need for resolution to preserve Virginia's vitally important work of health care...and the significant economic contributions we make."

*Rural hospitals are typically the largest employers in their area. Just about half of rural hospitals operate in the red in Virginia...and they're all very much challenged in terms of their sustainability, their ability to continue to be there for their communities..."
 I've written on this issue before and it is one of the issues addressed in my September, 2015, column in VEER Magazine which is on the shelf now.  Sadly, supporting the Commonwealth's hospital system should not be a partisan issue, but given the intransigence of the Virginia GOP, it has become one.  The one irony is that many GOP dominated rural areas will end up losing not only easily accessible health care, but will also see their region's largest employers close down.  Their stupidity, racism and overall bigotry will ultimately be the root of their own undoing.  Karma can indeed be a bitch.

Bishop of Syracuse, New York: Victims Of Predatory Priests Are "Culpable"

Syracuse Bishop Robert Cunningham - Mr. blame the victim
I grew up through high school in the Diocese of Syracuse, New York, and was an altar boy for 10 years and on a number of occasions served at mass and other services with the then Bishop of Syracuse.  At that point in time, priests were afforded god like deference and very dew adults much less minors would dare challenge the word of a priest or a bishop.  Now, the current occupant of the bishopric of Syracuse, Robert Cunningham, has testified under oath that the victims of predator priest shared in culpability with the predatory priests who sexually molested them.  The mindset is akin to that of those who are only too ready to blame female rape victims of "having asked for it."  It's disgusting and one cannot help but wonder where is Pope Francis when it comes to disciplining  this foul douche bag.  The New Civil Rights Movement looks at these despicable statements.  Here are highlights:
Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia next week, and a group of survivors who were abused by Catholic priests plan to present him with a petition to remove Syracuse Bishop Robert Cunningham from his position, after it came to light that the bishop testified in an abuse case that, in the eyes of the Church, the boys who were molested are also at fault. 

Bishop Cunningham made the statement under oath, during a 2011 deposition during a federal lawsuit brought by a man who accused a priest in Bishop Cunningham's diocese of sexually abusing him as a child.

The lawyer representing the victim asked Bishop Cunningham whether, in the eyes of the church, a child molested by a priest has committed a sin. Bishop Cunningham answered:
"The boy is culpable." 
Charles Bailey and Kevin Braney, survivors of priest sexual abuse, are planning an online petition which they will present to Pope Francis, asking to have Bishop Cunningham removed. Mr. Bailey told that he was not surprised by Bishop Cunningham's testimony:
"(Bishop) Moynihan said that right to my face – 'The age of reason is 7, so if you're at least 7 you're culpable for your actions.' That kind of floored me."
Bishop Cunningham has been desperately trying to walk back his testimony ever since it became public earlier this month - quite inopportune timing with the Pope on the way. 

Patrick Wall, who has testified as an expert witness in the criminal trials of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse, called Bishop Cunningham's testimony "preposterous."
"There's no way, either in law or in moral theology or in canon law which Bishop Cunningham is trained in," said Mr. Wall, "that a child can consent to that crime."
Along with his own words from the 2011 deposition, the survivors plan to complain to Pope Francis about Bishop Cunningham's refusal to publicly release the names of the priests against whom the diocese has found credible allegations of child molestation. The survivors say they will also present evidence that priests from other dioceses with child-molestation allegations against them have been sent to a retirement home for priests in Syracuse.
There is more, but the take away is that if Pope Francis is truly contrite for the world wide criminal conspiracy that allowed thousands and thousands of children and minors to be sexually abused, then action should be taken against Cunningham.   I continue to believe that those who see Francis as a wind of change are indulging in a fantasy.  I'd love to be proven wrong, but I doubt that I will be proven wrong.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Can Jeb Bush Survive Trump and His Own Reverse Robin Hood Tax Plan?

I have always viewed Jeb "Jebbie" Bush as seeing himself as entitled to the presidency.  Never mind that he has never disavowed the Policies of his cretin brother that bankrupted the country, started an unnecessary war, and threw away thousands of lives among our servicemembers.  After all, he's a Bush and what he wants should be his.  Thus, it is entertaining in a cynical way to see Jebbie languishing in the polls and being blown away by Donald Trump.  Adding to Jebbie's lack of appeal is his new tax change proposals that would give most of the tax relief to the 1%.  A piece in Politico looks at Jebbie's woes and the growing fear among the GOP donor class that his presidential ambitions may be toast.  Here are highlights:

Nobody is more nervous about this week's debate than Jeb Bush’s top fundraisers -- and no audience will have more to say about his future viability as a candidate.

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson knew it. He recognized the group assembled at his Rockefeller Center office in Manhattan last Wednesday was in need of some reassurance after Bush’s unimpressive performance in last month’s GOP debate, so Bush’s national finance chairman, recalled one attendee, gave a personal pledge: Jeb would be “well prepared” for the second debate this week.

He’d better be. Five-plus months before the first ballots are cast, Bush faces the kind of do-or-die moment most top-tier candidates confront far later in the primary process – a chance to revive a campaign that has shattered fundraising records, but sunk as low as 6 percent in recent national polls.

Bush, one former adviser to his father said, "needs to show he’s the tough-minded guy we know he is." If he doesn’t, the former aide added, "Well, you know, it might be over."

The Bush campaign privately thinks Bush’s slow-burning fuse – evidenced on the golf course and in sometimes-testy debate sessions – has at long last been lit. But the biggest fear, expressed by Bush allies, donors and party operatives to POLITICO, is that another lousy debate performance will precipitate an exodus of the big money ($100 million-plus in super PAC and campaign cash so far) that has kept the former Florida governor afloat despite his dismal poll numbers. 

Bush's problem isn’t merely a matter of being labeled the scion of the loathed GOP political elite, it’s a question of tone. He’s polite, reasonable, bilingual — and the party’s base wants a fighter like Trump who is blustery, visceral and a defiant monolingual speaker of the language his new buddy Sarah Palin calls “American.” 

Bush is fond of saying he’s his “own man,” with an emphasis on the “own” part -- to shrug off the gilded albatross of his family’s mixed political legacy -- but these days Trump is making Bush answer for the word “man” too.

In the five weeks since the first debate, he’s ceded his second-place position to Ben Carson, sinking from 10 percent of the national vote to high single-digits.

But several Bush advisers said he’s given up illusions of being a frontrunner, and of emerging from the Republican primary without getting down in “the mud” with Trump. But how far to go? The key, people close to Bush say, is coming up with a tough approach without making the candidate want to crawl out of his own, deeply civil skin. To that end, he has been huddling with his team, whenever time permits, to work out a plan of attack for the primetime showdown with Trump at the Reagan Library Wednesday.
While Bush wallows in the polls, his recently unveiled tax reform plan, as mentioned, is a bonanza for the 1% and offers little for working Americans.  The chart below says it all:

 In short, like most in the GOP, Bush wants to screw most of us while giving away the store to the very wealthy, something his brother did as well.  Will average voters allow themselves to be seduced yet again by voodoo economics and the GOP's reverse Robin Hood agenda?

Bad News For Those Who Want Special Rights fro Christofascists

While the far right, especially evangelical Christians, continue to demand special rights for religious (only if they claim they are Christians, of course), a majority of Americans reject their demands and say that equality under the law trumps religious belief, whether feigned or genuine, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll found here:

Most Americans say equality under the law trumps individual religious beliefs – a view that leads to broad support for requiring recalcitrant County Clerk Kim Davis to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

In general, 74 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll say that when a conflict arises, the need to treat everyone equally under the law is more important than someone’s religious beliefs.

In the specific case at hand, 63 percent say Davis , of Rowan County, Kentucky, should be required to issue marriage licenses despite her religious objections.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit rejected yet another frivolous appeal by Davis and her  in my view disbarment worthy attorney, Mat Staver of the parasitic Liberty Counsel.  Talking Points Memo looks at this development.  Here are excerpts: