Did Donald Trump Hire Someone To Bomb New York City And New Jersey? Some People Are Saying He Did.

Just think about it. Donald Trump had a bad day on Friday. He not only got a lot of hyper-negative press for pulling a con on journalists—by pretending he was going to have a press conference and renounce his birtherism when he really used the event to get free publicity for his new hotel and himself—he also got a lot of bad press for launching yet another Big Lie that it was Hillary Clinton who was responsible for the birther movement (a lie his surrogates spent Sunday perpetuating with Goebbels-like intensity; more below). By all measures, it was a bad day and a bad weekend for Trump.

And there was no better way to make everyone forget about birtherism and Trump’s pathological lying—and, of course, look to him for “tough and smart and vigilant” leadership—than to get a shiny new terrorist attack in the news.  And since terrorists didn’t seem to be cooperating, Trump had to do something. He had to act fast. There was no time to lose.

Now, rightly, you should demand to see just what evidence there is to support the claim that Trump may have been involved in the terrorist attacks on Saturday night. Well, I will use a patented Trumpian analysis of the “facts” and list the evidence for you:

  1. Some people are saying Trump was involved.
  2. Trump’s campaign had riled the press on Friday and he was getting a lot of negative coverage, including journalists actually saying, finally, that he was lying about birtherism. Motive.
  3. Before any local official confirmed what had happened Saturday night, Trump stepped off his plane in Colorado and unequivocally stated that “a bomb went off in New York.” How did he know that? How did he know the explosion wasn’t some kind of gas leak that got ignited and not a bomb at all?
  4. The first blast was in Manhattan. Trump lives in Manhattan.
  5. Other explosions happened in New Jersey. Trump once had casinos in New Jersey and admits he has lots of connections there.
  6. A person police say may be involved in the bombings is a naturalized citizen originally from Afghanistan who now lives in New Jersey. That fits nicely, so nicely, into Trump’s narrative about why we should be scared of all such people.
  7. Dotrump-and-terror-suspecdtnald Trump said almost exactly a year ago—coincidence?—the following to CNN’s Jake Tapper: “I have friends that are Muslims.” Was one of his friends the bomber (or bombers) in New York and New Jersey? Some people are saying they might be.
  8. In December of last year Trump said, “Many Muslim friends of mine are in agreement with me. They say, ‘Donald, you brought something up to the fore that is so brilliant and so fantastic.'” What could be more brilliant and fantastic than a terrorist attack executed just in time to change Trump’s negative coverage on the campaign trail?
  9. Again in December of last year he said, “I have been called by more Muslims saying what you are doing is a great thing, not a bad thing. Believe it or not, I have a lot of friends that are Muslim, and they call me…” So, Trump has admitted he talks to a lot of Muslims. Did he talk to the bomber or bombers in New York and New Jersey? Somewhere, some people are saying he may have.
  10. Trump recently had killing on his mind when he suggested we take the guns away from Hillary Clinton’s security detail and, “Let’s see what happens to her.”

In addition to this “evidence,” we can also see that the Trump campaign, as mentioned, has resorted to keeping alive a Big Lie about Hillary Clinton starting the birther movement, a lie so big and brazen that it would make Joseph Goebbels blush. To remind you, Goebbels was Hitler’s Reich Minister of Propaganda. He famously said,

The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.

Just look at the Big Lie repeated on Sunday by some of Trump’s top propagandists:

♦ Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager, told Face the Nation: “This started with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, number one. Number two, it was Donald Trump who put the issue to rest when he got President Obama to release his birth certificate years later…”

♦ CNN’s Jake Tapper tried to correct the record with Chris Christie, the biggest Trump hack in the country:

TAPPER: Just as a point of fact, Donald Trump did not accept when Barack Obama released his birth certificate in 2011. He kept up this whole birther thing until Friday, that’s five years.

CHRISTIE: That’s just not true. It’s just not true that he kept it up for five years.

TAPPER: Sure he did.

CHRISTIE: It’s just not true.

TAPPER: It is true.

CHRISTIE: No, Jake. It wasn’t like he was talking about it on a regular basis until then. And when the issue was raised, he made very clear the other day what he position is.

WORN OUT TAPPER: Okay.

♦ Finally, there was the chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus. He said on Face the Nation:

People get convicted every single day with circumstantial evidence that is enough to tip the scale. And by the preponderance of evidence before us, Hillary Clinton or her campaign were definitely involved in this issue. We can’t keep saying it’s not true. That’s ridiculous.

As you can see, Trump and his campaign officials and surrogates (and many conservative media outlets) are willing to employ propaganda techniques in the Goebbels style, “even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”

Let’s be clear: Every journalist in the country knows that Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with the birther movement. In fact, the Trump campaign, accidentally, proved she had nothing to do with it when it released a transcript of an interview with Clinton’s 2008 campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle. She said that either a volunteer or a paid staffer forwarded “an email that promoted the conspiracy” and that Hillary Clinton “made the decision immediately to let that person go.” Immediately. She didn’t need five years.

And that would be the end of the Hillary-started-it lie in any other universe except a Trump-Goebbels one. And if Trump and his campaign are willing to use such appalling Reich-like tactics, who could put it past them to hire a bomber or two in New York and New Jersey as a way of changing the subject? Let me paraphrase Priebus:

People get convicted every single day with circumstantial evidence that is enough to tip the scale. And by the preponderance of evidence before us, Donald Trump or his campaign were definitely involved in the terrorist attacks in New York and New Jersey. We can’t keep saying it’s not true. That’s ridiculous.

I want to end this piece of Trumpish speculation with something Vin Weber—a former GOP congressman from Minnesota and once a top adviser to then-Speaker Newt Gingrich—said to Jonathan Martin of The New York Times about Donald Trump:

It’s frightening. Our politics, because of him, is descending to the level of a third-world country. There’s just nothing beneath him. And I don’t know why we would think he would change if he became president. That’s what’s really scary.

“There’s just nothing beneath him,” says a fellow Republican. Case closed.

This Is How Trump Stays Viable

On his MSNBC show this morning, Joe Scarborough was, as is his wont and as is the wont of nearly every cable television pundit outside of Hayes, Maddow, and O’Donnell, giving Donald Trump advice. Usually Scarborough’s advice to Trump relates to how the 70-year-old fool and likely GOP presidential nominee ought to behave, how he should “pivot”—mainstream media’s favorite word designed to shkreli.jpgcommunicate to Trump that he needs to stop being so childish, stupid, and nasty—from the primary to the general election.  Today, though, Scarborough was giving advice on whom Trump should pick as his running mate, which, as we all can see, is pretty slim pickings. When Newt Gingrich is one of the options, that means Martin Shkreli said he doesn’t want any part of it.

In any case, about right-wing zealot Mike Pence, who to me is the obvious choice for those people who give a shit who Trump picks, Scarborough said the following:

My concern about Mike Pence is you never know how somebody’s gonna act on the national stage…On the national stage it’s easy to get out there and say some pretty dumb things even if you’re a pretty smart guy. Same thing with the General [Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn]. I would warn everybody away from the General…[because] you want somebody who has been on the big stage, who excels on the big stage. And, really, you’ve got Newt Gingrich who’s all over the place. But then you’ve got the guy who was one of the best campaigners in the fall and the guy who finished Marco Rubio’s campaign single-handedly, and that’s Chris Christie….I will tell you Chris Christie’s a guy you know you can put out there, he’s not going to embarrass you and chances are pretty good he’s going to embarrass the other side.

So, there you have it. If Donald was listening—and we know he was because he is obsessed with those people on cable television who are obsessed with him—he now knows who Joe Scarborough thinks he should pick. He should pick a guy who got his ass thoroughly kicked in the primary and who doesn’t embarrass Trump [!!!] by saying dumb things! Of course!

It is quality analysis like that, coming from one of the most popular political insiders on television, that keeps the Pumpkin Punchinello’s hopes alive that he will one day sit in the White’s House and restore the country to its former greatness as an isolated, xenophobic nation that will embrace the coat hanger as a national symbol for women’s reproductive rights, burn fossil fuels faster than ever, and make white supremacists feel like, finally, they’ve got their country back.

Keep it up, Joe and other pundits on television, you may get your wish.

Let’s Dispel With This Fiction That Marco Rubio Doesn’t Know What He’s Doing

Chris Christie, whose San Andreas-size faults should scare away any trembling voter, has nevertheless done the country, as well as his party, a big favor. He has exposed Marco Rubio as a shallow opportunist, something those of us who have followed his Tea Party career have always known.

marcobotBut as some critics have noted, Christie’s gift wasn’t just in the way he got Rubio to repeat the same phrase time after time (“Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing“) on the debate stage a few days ago. It was getting him to repeat an idea that is so utterly stupid and anti-American that it will be difficult for any Republican nominee to utter it again, at least in the form Rubio did. They’ll have to be more creative when they want to claim that Obama, and by extension the eventual Democratic nominee, purposely want to destroy the country. And for that, the Republican Party itself owes Chris Christie, who will never be president, some props.

Now, you gotta hand it to Rubio. He ain’t backing down. He and most Republican Party primary voters actually believe this dookey, even if many of them will reject Rubio’s robotics in saying so. This morning, on CNN’s New Day, Rubio’s Communications Director—I repeat: this guy is the director of communications for Marco Rubio—said this stuff “Is what Marco believes,” then bizarrely but quite accurately cited a number of talk radio nuts as support. CNN’s Chris Cuomo cleared up exactly what the message is, when he asked the communications director, “So, the senator really believes that President Obama is intentionally trying to destroy the country?” And the communications director said, “Absolutely. And all the evidence confirms that.”

Below is part of the segment, and as you watch it, keep in mind that as dumb as Marco Rubio sounded repeating it during the last debate, and as dumb as his communications guy sounded defending it and expanding on it this morning, the accusation that Democrats want to destroy their own country will most definitely exit the lips of some future Republican nominee, in some form or another:

The Androcentric Universe

You no doubt remember Wendy Davis, former member of the Texas legislature who, before she unsuccessfully ran for governor, conducted a well-publicized filibuster over anti-choice legislation Republicans were pushing in her state. For her efforts, she was labeled “Abortion Barbie,” among other derogatory things. So, clearly she understands something about how female politicians are treated in the political workplace.

Davis recently discussed Megyn Kelly’s famous questioning, in that first Fox debate, of Donald Trump about the terrible things he has said about women throughout his career. Davis said she wasn’t surprised by how Trump responded or how the men, both on the debate stage and in the audience, reacted. But she was surprised by something else:

So when Megyn Kelly pointed out his derogatory statements, he doubled down on them. And when he did, he got great laughter and applause. And if you remember, the camera panned the audience, and what was so disappointing was to see the number of women who were applauding and laughing at those comments.

I remember that, too. The audience seemed to turn on Megyn Kelly for daring to suggest that it wasn’t okay to call women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.” It was really a remarkable moment in what it said about the Republicans, both men and women, in that room, if not in the country at large.

This morning, I witnessed something similar on MSNBC’s version of Fox and Friends, a program called Morning Joe. For those of you not condemned to watching the program, let me give you an idea of how the show works. The host, right-winger Joe Scarborough, praises Donald Trump every other segment, bashes Hillary Clinton every other segment, and generally bullies every panelist until they just stop talking. All the while, Scarborough’s co-host, Mika Brzezinski, mostly sits beside him and either nods or otherwise affirms Joe’s point of view. Mika, who is supposed to represent a Democratic point of view, isn’t exactly a feminist icon, if you know what I mean.

During a segment this morning, the panel was discussing, as they often do, Hillary Clinton. And as they often do, they were trashing her. Three women and two men sitting around the table trashing the winner—I repeat: winner—of the recent Iowa contest, as if she hadn’t won and as if she wasn’t capable of winning any election. One of the panelists was the much-overrated Bob Woodward, whose quality of analysis is shriveling up faster than a wiener in a hot tub. At one point he said,

I think a lot of it with Hillary Clinton has to do with style and delivery, oddly enough. She shouts. There is something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating, and I think that just jumps off the television screen. […]  I’m sorry to dwell on the tone issue, but there is something here where Hillary Clinton suggests that she’s almost not comfortable with herself…

He then later said, she needed to “lower the temperature” and “kind of get off this screaming stuff.”

christy in new hampshire and bubble boyNow, I must point out that just before this discussion, Morning Joe played a long portion of Chris Christie rather forcefully telling reporters in New Hampshire that Marco Rubio was a “boy in the bubble” and those reporters had better force him to answer some tough questions. And we all know how Christie has talked in the past. He isn’t much for lowering the temperature or getting off the screaming stuff. Funny thing, though. No one on the panel said a word about his style and delivery. No one accused him of being unrelaxed or that his tone indicated he wan’t comfortable with himself.

When Howard Dean, a third man on the panel who is a Clinton supporter, dared to defend her against what was clearly sexist criticism, he was almost laughed off the set. And he was almost laughed off the set not just by the men, but by the three women.

From Wendy Davis’s “Abortion Barbie” experience, to the Megyn Kelly debate episode, to the double-standard that Hillary Clinton constantly has to endure on the campaign trail— the fascination with her hairstyle and clothing and her “tone”—clearly our politics and some of the punditry that surrounds it is still an androcentric universe. And, sadly, there are still too many women willingly orbiting around male dominance.

 

The Measles, Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp, And Your Republican Party

Surprise, surprise. There are a few Republican presidential hopefuls out there this year (here and here) who question whether the government should require people to get vaccinated for measles because, dammit, it may lead to “profound mental disorders” and is a transgression against our freedom. Yet there are people in the Republican Party who have no problem putting some women through mental anguish by making it difficult, nearly impossible in some places, for them to exercise their reproductive freedom, and there are some zealots on the right who have no problem subjecting women to government-mandated vaginal snooping. You tell me which is a greater assault on personal freedom.

___________________________

All of this vaccination talk reminded me of former GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, in 2011, attacking poor Governor Oops! for forcing Texas school girls to get a vaccine against human papilloma virus. Dr. Bachmann, apparently an expert on the subject, famously and falsely suggested the vaccine might cause “mental retardation.”

__________________________

Speaking of intellectual disabilities, televangelist (and also a former GOP presidential candidate) Pat Robertson has given his blessing to the idea that the government ought not force parents to vaccinate their kids because “natural immunity is a pretty good thing” and “we should be very careful not to force people to do stuff that they earnestly feel they shouldn’t do.” Yes, again, this same man, a Christofascist, believes women should not be able to control their own bodies because God says that “abortion is murder.”

__________________________

Speaking of even more strange GOP presidential candidates, you gotta love this recent CNN headline:

Huckabee compares being gay to drinking, swearing

Yes. It makes sense. A girl-loving guy goes out and gets drunk and the next thing you know, he has a boyfriend who cusses up a shitstorm.

___________________________

But Mike Huckabee didn’t just pass on the old lie that homosexuality is a choice people make like, say, preferring Bud Light over Bud. He said the whole matter was “a biblical issue” and the Bible did not give him permission to “evolve” and that Christian businesses ought to have the right to discriminate against the deviants:

It’s like asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli. We don’t want to do that — I mean, we’re not going to do that. Or like asking a Muslim to serve up something that is offensive to him, or to have dogs in his backyard. We’re so sensitive to make sure we don’t offend certain religions, but then we act like Christians can’t have the convictions that they’ve had for 2,000 years.

That’s interesting. Besides comparing gay people to bacon-wrapped shrimp and adulterated dogs, Huckabee says that convictions from the Iron Age ought to be honored in the law today. That would include the conviction that the bacon-wrapped shrimp and impure dogs should be executed because, as Leviticus 18:22 says,

The penalty for homosexual acts is death to both parties. They have brought it upon themselves.

Oh, but you may say: Christians no longer believe in executing bacon-wrapped shrimp and adulterated dogs for sinning against nature. Except that, remember, Huck said:

This is not just a political issue. It is a biblical issue. And as a biblical issue — unless I get a new version of the scriptures, it’s really not my place to say, OK, I’m just going to evolve.

So, without a new Bible, Huck can’t really evolve on the issue because it is a biblical issue and it says in the old Bible that you should kill the bacon-wrapped shrimp and the adulterated dogs. And if you don’t kill the deviant shrimp (or is it the bacon that is the deviant, or both?) and the adulterated dogs, then you are guilty of evolving, and I am quite sure the penalty for evolving is either death or losing the 2016 Iowa caucuses, whichever hurts the Huckster the most.

_________________________

Speaking of the Iowa caucuses, if you think all this talk about crazy Christofascist Republican candidates is just for the fun of it, the Real Clear Politics polling average for the Iowa Republican Presidential Caucus shows the Huckster leading the field by over 3 points. But if you happen to believe, like I do, that Huckabee has exactly zero chance of becoming the Republican nominee, let alone president, there is still good reason to fear some version of Christofascism will be a part of the 2016 general election campaign on the Republican side: Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker is “surging” in the latest Iowa polls.

Despite his growing and misleading reputation as a “moderate” in the party, Walker is, like the Huckster, an evangelical Christian who says his “policy decisions” are, “without a doubt, driven by my faith.” Walker not only sought the endorsement of an anti-gay group in Wisconsin last year, but the Koch-blessed, union-hating governor also believes, like Reverend Pat Robertson, that abortion should be illegal in all cases, including when a woman is impregnated by a rapist.

I don’t know if Walker thinks gay people are like “bacon-wrapped shrimp” to a Jewish deli owner, or like dogs to a faithful Muslim, but I do know he has at least some 2,000-year-old Christian convictions that ought to worry all of us.

UPDATE: The Des Moines Register published a piece yesterday (“Walker tells Iowans he’s one of the ‘fresh faces’ Romney had in mind”) that discussed the death threats that Walker says he received after all the “reforms” he brought to Wisconsin. Walker is quoted as saying:

Part of me looks back and thinks that maybe God put me and my family through all this for a purpose – and it wasn’t just to get things done in Wisconsin, and it wasn’t just to win all those elections in a state that normally doesn’t go Republican. Maybe it was to set us to … help get our country on the right track.

Like Pat Robertson in 1988, like a lot of other Republicans since, Scott Walker apparently believes his candidacy is somehow tied to the Creator of the Universe. And I can’t think of anything more dangerous than that.

Humping Jerry Jones, Or, How Our “Democracy” Works

There was, in case you missed it, a celebration of American democracy on Tuesday. Family, friends, and big money folks were on Capitol Hill to usher in the latest incarnation of Congress.

Nancy Pelosi gave a gracious speech, just before she passed on the ceremonial giant gavel to the Grim Weeper, John Boehner. And as an African-American president continued to occupy the White’s House, Congressman John Conyers, an African-American Democrat who is now the longest serving member in the People’s House, swore in the Grim Weeper as Speaker.

And an anything-but-grim Joe Biden, who has more fun being Vice President than he is probably entitled to have, had a lot of fun administering the oath of office to newly-elected Senators. So happy was he in his constitutional role, that he didn’t want it to stop. He reportedly asked the television crew if any of them wanted to be sworn in. That’s a man who loves his job, whatever his job is when he’s not swearing in people.

All of this made our democratic system look good. For a day at least, everyone was gathered around the Capitol campfire and you could almost feel the warmth from the collective breath of the Founders.

But our system is not all it should be. Vox reported that over the 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections, the 46 Democrats (including the two independents who caucus with them) who will sit as a minority in the U.S. Senate for the next two years actually “got 20 million more votes” than the 54 Republicans who will control the chamber. As Vox notes, though, “Democrats got more Senate seats than their vote share suggested they should” in the 2008 and 2012 elections:

The problem isn’t that the deck is stacked in favor of Republicans. The problem is that the deck is stacked in favor of small states, which receive equal representation in the Senate despite dramatic variance in population. The Senate is a profoundly anti-democratic body and should be abolished.

I’ve preached that sermon before. Many of us know about this gigantic flaw in our system but it’s not going to change anytime soon. Thus, we don’t have a genuine representative democracy. Maybe that’s because not enough time has passed since our founding. Maybe we are still a young democracy. Maybe we are still in a protracted democratic adolescence and we will continue to grow into a more representative adulthood. Maybe someday we will fix such anti-democracy.

Or maybe we are sick. Maybe there is a disease among us that is stunting our growth. Maybe there is more wrong than just that big state-small state problem.

First, consider that although this is the most diverse Congress in history, 83% of our national legislators are white and less than 9% are black. Only 6% are Hispanic. Even more troubling is the fact that 80% of them are men.

Of the 56 new members on the Republican side, 95% of them are white—47 of them are white men and 6 are white women. Yes, I am still talking about the most diverse Congress in history. (On the Democratic side, of the 18 new members, only 61% are white—8 of them are white men and 3 are white women.)

As far as religion, while only about 73% of American adults identify as Christians, 92% of our legislators do—and only one of the 301 Republicans in Congress is not a Christian. Perhaps more disturbing, while 20% of Americans consider themselves “unaffiliated” with any particular religious group, only one person in Congress—not one percent, but one person!—dares to claim she is unaffiliated (Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona).

Now let’s look at wealth. In the last Congress, there were at least 188 millionaires, which is about 35% (and given the intentionally murky rules that govern disclosure of wealth, there is likely more wealthy legislators than we know). Go ahead, survey your neighborhood and see if 35% of them are millionaires. Nah, I’m guessing you don’t have to ask.

Maybe, though, you might want to ask your neighbors about their net worth. The median net worth for an American adult is about $45,000. Yet, according to Roll Call, last year’s “median lawmaker” had “a minimum net worth of $456,522.” Again, I’m guessing you don’t have to ask your neighbors if they’re as wealthy as a median lawmaker.

Now we get to the sickness, which is related to wealthy people and their disproportionate influence on what is supposed to be American democracy. I want to illustrate this point by way of this now famous picture of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie making love to Dallas Cowboys owner and big-time Republican Jerry Jones last Sunday:

I hope they had paper towels handy in Jones’ luxury box.

It turns out that Christie, who (along with the governor of New York) oversees the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is now in hot water over the free tickets and free travel Jones has supplied to Christie so that the governor could attend games and hump the owner, unashamedly, on national TV.

Christie, according to International Business Times, “personally pushed the Port Authority to approve a lucrative contract for a firm part-owned by Jones.” That contract was “to operate the observation deck on the top floor of One World Trade Center.” Who is surprised? People don’t toss money and gifts at politicians just for the hell of it. Just ask former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell—when he gets out of the hoosegow.

At the end of last year, Politico published a piece by Kenneth Vogel (“Big money breaks out”) that began with the following:

The 100 biggest campaign donors gave $323 million in 2014 — almost as much as the $356 million given by the estimated 4.75 million people who gave $200 or less, a POLITICO analysis of campaign finance filings found.

Worst still is that Politico’s analysis did not “include nonprofit groups that spent at least $219 million — and likely much more — but aren’t required to reveal their donors’ identities.”

Politico also notes what it calls,

a surprising decline in the number of regular Americans contributing to campaigns, as well as a shift in political power and money to outside groups unburdened by the contribution restrictions handcuffing the political parties and their candidates.

Taken together, the trend lines reflect a new political reality in which a handful of superaffluent partisans can exert more sway over the campaign landscape than millions of donors of more average means. And that’s to say nothing of the overwhelming majority of voters who never spend so much as a single dime on politics.

The article quotes Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard law professor and an activist trying to rid our system of big money:

As you see that your democracy is controlled by a smaller and smaller number of funders, you have less and less interest to be engaged in it.

And if people are less engaged in democracy, then democracy is not really democracy, is it?

But the system does work for those who fund it, that’s for sure. That is why they fund it. Saint and Senator Elizabeth Warren gave an important speech on Wednesday before the AFL-CIO. Part of the speech was about what certainly will once again rear its ugly tax-cutting head now that Republicans control Congress: trickle-down economics. She said:

George Bush Sr. called it voodoo economics. He was right, and let’s call it out for what it is: Trickle-down was nothing more than the politics of helping the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful, and it cut the legs out from under America’s middle class. The trickle-down experiment that began in the Reagan years failed America’s middle class.

I have a pretty good picture of that failure, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal:

job growth from wall street journal

That ugly looking hole is voodoo economics working its magic on the American people. It’s the result of what happens when big money people get their way, sometimes by influencing both political parties. Warren said:

Pretty much the whole Republican Party — and, if we’re going to be honest, too many Democrats — talked about the evils of ‘big government’ and called for deregulation. It sounded good, but it was really about tying the hands of regulators and turning loose big banks and giant international corporations to do whatever they wanted to do.

Warren acknowledged that things are better now than when Obama took office and gave him credit. But she also said that, “Despite these cheery numbers, America’s middle class is in deep trouble.” How deep?

These families are working harder than ever, but they can’t get ahead. Opportunity is slipping away. Many feel like the game is rigged against them—and they are right. The game is rigged against them…. The world has changed beneath the feet of America’s working families.

I have another pretty good picture of what a rigged game looks like, also courtesy of The Wall Street Journal:

average hourly incomes change from previous year

Trickle-down economics leads to flatlining wages. Who could have guessed that? That’s about as easy as guessing that tossing free NFL luxury-box tickets at a hump-ready Chris Christie will get you some bidness on top of One World Trade Center.

So, what do Republicans, traditional warriors on behalf of the moneyed class, propose to do about the flat line that represents the lack of earnings growth for average Americans? What will be one of the first acts of the 114th Congress—you know, the Congress that is supposed to represent we the people but was pretty much bought and paid for by big donors? Voodoo, anyone? Yes, sir:

House Republicans on Tuesday formally adopted a controversial change to congressional math rules that will most likely make it easier to cut taxes.

As Ronald Reagan—who first brought us voodoo economics—might say, “There they go again.”

 

The Anti-Science Party And Ebola Politics

“I am scared about how health care workers will be treated at airports when they declare that they have been fighting Ebola in West Africa. I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganization, fear and, most frightening, quarantine.”

Kaci Hickox, nurse for Doctors Without Borders

Much of the Republican Party is at war with science, as its last political platform and other sources of Republican opinions would indicate. Consider:

♦ A majority of Republicans believe global warming is a hoax, therefore drill, baby, drill.

♦ The 2012 GOP platform expressly opposes embryonic stem cell research because, as many conservatives believe, embryos should be constitutionally protected people.

♦ That also means, of course, that the creation of surplus embryos used for in vitro fertilization is a no-no.

♦ Many religious conservatives falsely believe that IUDs and emergency contraception pills are abortifacients and, thus, baby-killers.

♦ Anti-choice Republicans also claim that abortion is more dangerous than childbirth, which is not only not true but its opposite is overwhelmingly true.

♦ A vast majority of white evangelical Republicans don’t believe in evolution and many want to teach a version of creationism in science classrooms.

So, because he wants to be his party’s presidential candidate in 2016, it should come as no surprise that Chris Christie is the first Republican governor in the country to do something utterly anti-scientific, if politically popular, regarding Ebola.

Not only did Christie forcibly quarantine Ebola-fighting super-nurse Kaci Hickox in a tent outside a hospital in New Jersey, but after receiving some fairly intense criticism from medical and health professionals, he actually defended his actions by appealing not to other health professionals in his state or elsewhere, but to the American people, who have been scared out of their wits by people like Chris Christie:

The American public believes this is common sense and we’re not moving an inch. Our policy hasn’t changed and our policy will not change.

It doesn’t matter that Christie and his policy of forcibly quarantining someone without symptoms of Ebola infection lacks any scientific or medical justification. Nor does it matter that forcibly quarantining Ebola-fighters might make it more difficult to fighkaci hickoxt the virus at its source in West Africa. What matters is that he has a frightened public behind him.

But this would be a great time for Christie to demonstrate his much-touted leadership skills and lead his party, and the American people, away from fear and misconceptions about the transmissibility of Ebola. Instead, he feeds those fears and, worse, feeds off those fears.

He ought to be ashamed of himself. But he won’t be, obviously. Maybe some journalist should shame him by asking him whether he would have ordered Kaci Hickox, who was not sick and did not test positive for Ebola, shot and killed should she have tried to leave that tent.

 

Dumb Republicans

Conservative Republicans, it being their nature, say and do some dumb things. Take, for instance, this one:

A Michigan Republican with a criminal record for breaking into cars and masturbating is urging residents to move out of state to avoid the “homosexual agenda.”

You’ll be happy to know that this guy is running for a seat in the Michigan legislature. And, if you live in Michigan, you’ll be happy to know that he thinks “as long as there are those that love God here, we can win souls and see God move in this city and state.” Yes, in case you didn’t know, legislating is all about winning souls watching God “move.”

And speaking of God moving, mysteriously he was moved yesterday to reveal to the Huffington Post a video he shot of Joni Ernst, the testicle-hating senatorial candidate from Iowa, telling folks at some gun rally in 2012 that she packed heat and reserved the right to use it against “the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.” As many have now pointed out, this is the same wacky ball-hater that wants to castrate the rights of women to control their own reproductive health.

But even slightly more sober conservatives say and do dumb things. Chris Christie recently said to his Chamber of Commerce pals that he is “tired of hearing about the minimum wage.” Then, after he realized how dumb it was to say something so dumb, he said something equally dumb:

My comments are never almost universally interpreted the way I mean them.

And we can see why.

But some Republican conservatives not only say dumb things, they say dumb and dangerous things, things that scare and mislead people. Rand Paul, plagiarist and self-certified ophthalmologist, said recently that the Obama administration has inaccurately described Ebola to the public and has “tried to downplay the transmissibility” of the disease, when, in the opinion of the self-certified ophthalmologist, Ebola “is something that appears to be very easy to catch.”

Man, that level of numb-headed irresponsibility makes Chris Christie look good, which is no small feat.

Speaking of small feats, there is my congressman Ozark Billy Long. Let me show you a still from a campaign commercial that is airing here in Hooterville, and I should tell you this commercial was actually “Approved by Billy Long. Paid for by Billy Long for Congress”:

billy long commercial

Shouldn’t the Democrat running against Long, Jim Evans, be running that ad? I mean, Long is bragging that he did something 56 times that failed. He was recently accused of being an ineffective legislator and it turns out his own ad proves it! Brilliant stuff that.

On the darker side of local politics around these parts, I present to you a scene from a campaign commercial running here in Joplin put out by Rep. Lynn Jenkins. She is a Republican from Kansas who represents my old home town and who, in August of 2009, told Kansans that “Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope.” Here is a screen shot of the ad I saw last night:

jenkins ad against wakefield

Just who is that woman in the ad? And who is that shifty and scary looking negro standing behind her? Well, the woman is Democrat Margie Wakefield, who happens to be Jenkins’ opponent and who happens to be giving Jenkins a run for her money. And I think you all know who the other guy is. He is The Scary Negro himself. And, man, doesn’t he really look like he’s up to no good? Maybe he has a gun in her back or maybe he’s about to stick a shiv in her. Maybe he’s about to rob her and take her money or, God forbid, something worse like force her to support ObamaCare. What other reason would he be standing so close and looking so creepy?

Sad thing is, this ad doesn’t really qualify as another dumb thing conservative Republicans are saying or doing these days. It’s actually pretty smart, in a Southern strategy political sense, to remind people in mostly rural Kansas that The Scary Negro is out there, ready to do something ugly. But whatever ugly thing that Barack Obama might do between now and the end of his term, it won’t be nearly as ugly as that ad.

It’s Cheap To Be Rich

Nate Silver’s new FiveThirtyEight blog posted a piece by Ben Casselman this morning with the title,

Inflation May Hit the Poor Hardest

Yeah, well, Mr. Casselman, everything hits the poor hardest. A bad economy. A good economy. Everything. You know why? Because they’re bleeping poor, that’s why. But to be fair to the author, he was making a point about the fact that not everyone experiences the same rate of inflation. He begins his piece with this:

It’s getting more expensive to be poor.

He says that “families earning less than $20,000,” because they spend a disproportionate amount of their money on things like rent and utilities,

are experiencing a higher rate of inflation than the public at large even as their wages have stagnated…

The poor experience a double whammy: stagnating wages and a higher rate of inflation that eats away a disproportionate share of their purchasing power. And it is even worse than that. Just watch last night’s 60 Minutes segment on the working poor in Virginia’s part of Appalachia. Those folks are not only victims of a faltering local economy, but they are victims of the Republican Party in Virginia, a party that refuses to allow those poor working people to get the health insurance they are entitled to under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion provision.

So, you’re damned right it is expensive to be poor in America.

But it is damned cheap to be rich.

Sheldon Adelson, from whom God sometimes has to borrow money till payday, is looking to buy himself a Republican presidential candidate for the 2016 race. Last time he spent almost $100 million in a losing effort. But don’t feel sorry for him. He made almost that much in two special hours last week. In any case, he told Forbes that this time he will “spend whatever it takes” to win. And whatever it takes will still be cheap for him.Republican Billionaire Sheldon Adelson

Unfortunately there are plenty of Republicans who want to be bought by Sheldon Adelson, including presidential hopefuls like Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, John Kasich, and the groveling Chris Christie, who if Adelson buys him will be getting a bargain, somewhere around $250,000 a pound—and that’s if Adelson only gives another paltry $100 million. Very cheap for a commander-in-chief who could blow up your enemies.

The Supreme Court, staffed by five conservative Republicans who believe that rich people should have a megaphone that matches their money, have now made it easier for Adelson and other moneyed folks to buy up what is left of American democracy. And although there ain’t much left to buy, thanks to Citizens United, what is left won’t cost those wealthy folks all that much. Last year Sheldon Adelson made about $22,000 a minute. In eleven short minutes he made enough to buy a pound of Chris Christie or a half-pound of Jeb! No problem! Cheap, cheap, cheap.

In the mean time, it remains very expensive to be poor, especially in western Virginia where, because of Republicans, folks have to rely on the occasional visits of two saintly nurses driving a raggedy 13-year-old Winnebago-turned-“Health Wagon” in order to stay alive.

health wagon2

Watch It Again. And Again. And Again.

I know we have talked about income and wealth inequality a lot on this blog. And I know that many of you, like me, have already seen the video posted below. But every time I watch it I am amazed. And every time I watch it I am encouraged that if enough of us pay attention, close attention, to the message presented, and if enough of us make ourselves and others aware of what is happening to the country in terms of the lopsided (and dangerous) distribution of income and wealth, then maybe we can (eventually, alas) change our political system enough to make real reform possible.

Last week, mocking those who dare to champion the cause of people who don’t earn but a tiny share of the nation’s income and who don’t have but an atom-thick slice of our national wealth, Chris Christie, whose demagoguery has not been slowed down by all the scandals whirling around him, claimed that Americans don’t want “income equality” and that Democrats and liberals do. Lying through his scandal-plagued teeth, he said people on the left want everyone to “have an equal, mediocre salary.”

Well, of course no one wants that, and no one wants the government to enforce some kind of standard of income equality. What we want, besides the obvious equality of opportunity for those willing to seize it—and besides a strong safety net for those who can’t work or who have fallen or will fall through the cultural cracks—is an economic system that rewards hard work with at least enough money to pursue some Founders-ordained happiness, including a decent place to live, healthful food, and access to affordable health care.

And we want a tax system that attempts to mitigate the damage being done to the country by an over-concentration of wealth in the hands of a small minority of Americans, as demonstrated so well by this video (h/t to : Jo Ann Brown):

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