Thursday, March 31, 2016

DC Madam scandal heats up - who's on the list of phone numbers?

Rachel Maddow is covering this one as it unfolds. Here is some of Steve Benen's text.

The scandal surrounding the “D.C. Madam” may seem like old news, but if you missed last night’s show, you may not realize that this story is suddenly quite relevant again.

[snip]

Deborah Jeane Palfrey ran a DC-area escort service for several years, before getting caught by the police. As part of her legal defense, Palfrey’s lawyers said they would expose the service’s client list – not by releasing a list of names, but by releasing phone records.

One of those numbers, we now know, was traced back to Louisiana’s right-wing Republican senator, David Vitter, who ran on a “family values” platform.

But there is lots more to come, possibly.

But what’s easy to forget nearly a decade later is that the matter wasn’t fully resolved: the full phone records were never released.

Palfrey was eventually convicted, and in 2008, she committed suicide. Her attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, says he’s the sole legal custodian of the escort service’s phone records, which he still has, and which he’s now eager to release.

So why doesn’t he just hold a press conference and share the materials? Because in 2007, as part of the case, a judge issued a court order, keeping those phone records under wraps.

Sibley, however, now wants to release the documents, and in fact, believes it’s in the public’s interest for him to do so. As Rachel explained last night, Sibley argued in his court filings that the materials from the D.C. Madam case “contain information relevant to the upcoming presidential election.”

In his latest filing with the Supreme Court, the lawyer added, “Time is of the essence. Given the significance of the upcoming political primaries and caucuses, in the looming Republican and Democratic conventions on July 18th and July 25th respectively, and given the impact of the presently sealed from the public record that this attorney seeks to release, upon those electoral deliberations, expedited resolution to this application is incumbent upon this court.”

Sibley went on to argue, “The delay by this court and resolution of this application in hindsight will intentionally favor one presidential candidate over others by protecting that candidate from the release of the D.C. madam phone records, which the attorney maintains are relevant to this election cycle.”

The attorney added that he may release the materials fairly soon, whether the court gives him permission or not.

It’s the kind of story that raises all kinds of questions, for which there are no publicly available answers. But as we’ve seen, the D.C. Madam scandal has already affected many lives, and its political significance was obvious when Vitter lost his gubernatorial election last fall by double digits.

All of this appears likely to play out over the next two weeks. It’s not getting a lot of media attention just yet, but it’s worth keeping an eye on this one.

AZ Speaker of the House issues "00" numbers to Representatives, Senate may follow suit allowing legislators to carry handguns during legislative sessions.

GREEN VALLEY (SkyIslandScriber blog). AZ House Speaker Republican David Gowan announced that Representatives wishing to carry handguns on the floor of the House would be permitted to do so providing they apply for a 00 (double zero) number. When challenged by a news reporter, Gowan admitted that he got the idea from the James Bond series. Gowan said he appropriated James Bond's 007 number for himself.

Democratic Rep. Randy Friese is putting pressure on Gowan to identify his 00 move as a publicity stunt. Gowan countered that Friese would not be receiving a 00 designation. Gowan explained that his actions were consistent with the 2nd Amendment.

"My reading of the 2nd Amendment is that I can declare the House to be a militia," said Gowan. "Such a militia is to be 'well-regulated' and my 00 designations do just that. If a member of the House objects to the numbering plan, I will well-regulate that member."

Female members of the house were already carrying handguns concealed in their purses according to the report from the Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required). After receiving their 00 designations, they no longer have to hide their weapons.

Anonymous sources claim that Gowan considered the alternative of requiring male members of the House to carry purses to conceal their guns. Gowan, however, is reported to have rejected that idea because it would be too difficult to determine which bathroom the members should be using.

Senate President Andy Biggs admitted that the Senate already has a "don't ask, don't tell"policy toward concealed carry by Senators. It is not clear if the policy extends to bathroom use.

END SATIRE: See the Capitol Times report for the story also reprinted in this morning's Daily Star.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Bathroom Republicans Sing Old Songs with New Refrains

To paraphrase the TV ad: what's in your stall? You might respond that it is none of my effing business and you would be right. But the real answer is: Republican legislators - now in North Carolina and Georgia and soon to come to a state near you. Mary Sanchez takes on this matter in an op-ed this morning in the Daily Star.

Across the land, heroic male legislators are rising up to protect the lives and virtue of women and girls from sexual predators.

They are not, as one might hope, enacting laws that would prevent men convicted of domestic violence from owning firearms, even though that would surely save precious female lives.

Nor are they working with colleges and universities to ensure fair investigations of campus sexual assault, even though this would greatly help many a female coed. And, alas, they aren’t doing anything to help or prod police agencies to process the backlogs of rape kits, even though this would surely put many more violent sex offenders behind bars.

No, the state legislators — instigated mostly by Republican members — are obsessed with women and girls’ use of the bathroom. They’re freaked out that someone who was born male but who now identifies as female could wind up in the neighboring stall.

WTF? The male GOPlins are riding to the defense of female bathrooms? They have nothing better to do? There used to be two kinds of Republicans: boardroom and bedroom. Now we have Bathroom Republicans.

North Carolina passed the kind of law that Sanchez references. CNN has a recap of the law and a lawsuit.

A federal lawsuit was filed Monday against the North Carolina governor and other state officials over a new law that blocks transgender individuals from using public bathrooms that match their gender identity and stops cities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances to protect gay and transgender people.

Two transgender men, a lesbian, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina and Equality North Carolina want a judge to declare the state law, House Bill 2, unconstitutional and a violation of federal laws banning sex discrimination.

... The defendants are Gov. Pat McCrory, state Attorney General Roy Cooper III, the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina and board Chairman W. Louis Bissette Jr. Two of the plaintiffs are university system employees, and one is a university student.

McCrory signed the bill, called the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, on Wednesday. The General Assembly went into special session that day to push through the legislation.

The law came in response to the city of Charlotte's nondiscrimination ordinance that, among other things, made it possible for transgender individuals to use public bathrooms of the sex with which they identify.

So in addition to the specific issue concerning transgender use of "public" bathrooms, there is the issue of Republican hypocrisy over local control. Republican legislators rail against federal overreach but then act as authoritarians when it comes to local government.

Governor Pat "Bathroom" McCrory showed no spine at all in signing this travesty. Contrast that with what the Georgia Governor, Nathan Deal, did.

Georgia's term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal took a stand against his own party and averted threatened boycotts by major corporations on Monday by announcing his veto of a "religious freedom" bill.

"I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia," the Republican governor declared.

... "If indeed our religious liberty is conferred by God and not by man-made government, we should heed the 'hands-off' admonition of the First Amendment to our Constitution," Deal said. "When legislative bodies attempt to do otherwise, the inclusions and omissions in their statutes can lead to discrimination, even though it may be unintentional. That is too great a risk to take."

Deal's veto stands in sharp contrast to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's signature last week on a law that prohibits local anti-discrimination ordinances and obligates transgender people to use restrooms matching their birth certificates. The outcomes highlight the increasing conflicts between the twin pillars of the GOP's power structure — religion and business — in legislatures where Republicans have overwhelming majorities.

Unfortunately, Deal's veto is not the last word. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal's plan to veto a "religious freedom" bill has supporters vowing that the issue isn't going away. Moreover, other states are doing the same things.

North Carolina and Georgia aren't alone in their efforts to curb policies based on gender identity and weigh in on transgender bathroom use.

Tennessee and Arkansas have laws that prevent local governments from creating their own measures outlawing such discrimination.

Sanchez nails it.

Here is what proponents of the bills do not tell you: Sexual orientation and gender identity are not universally protected in America. In many cities and states, you can be fired or denied housing simply because the boss or seller or landlord believes that you are gay.

The lack of legal protection for the LGBT people is what these disingenuous legislators are using as a basis for further deceiving constituents. They want the right to discriminate, enshrined, and in many cases, codified, as a religious right, even when they are operating in a public square.

Sanchez concludes:

That’s what is most offensive — invoking God as a pretext.

Those who stood for slavery and against civil rights tried that ploy. Proponents of the anti-LGBT measures don’t like the comparison, but the shoe fits.

Ratcheting up fears in response to social change and then claiming that it’s your religious right to discriminate is an old trick. Alongside housing covenants, bank redlining and scare tactics about crime, including sexual assault by black men, these arguments were shamefully hypocritical. These are old songs, with new refrains.

Old songs with new refrains. Sanchez's op-ed reminded me of Joan Baez's song "With God on Our Side". She sings it here on YouTube and some of the lyrics are below.

Oh my name it is nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I's taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And the land that I live in
Has God on its side.

Selected refrains:
With guns in their hands
And God on their side.
For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side.
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.

Monday, March 28, 2016

What the AZ Iodioture has on its plate in the week ahead

First, our lawless Idiotors want schools to teach cursive writing. Like cursive writing will help send text messages on iPhones. Like cursive writing will put more money into pubic schools. Like cursive writing will solve the probems some students have with math. Which brings me to the next item.

Second, our feckless Idiotors are poised to pass laws forbidding the teaching of algebra. Some students, you see, apparently can do some forms of math (like statistics) but stumble on algebra problems, like factoring equations. And those problems with understanding algebra interfere with said students' educational advancement. The obvious solution, now being bruited about by the Phouls in Phoenix, is to drop algebra requirements and, according to some of those Phouls, accomplish that goal by legislating against algebra.

Both of the above items are based on stories in this morning's Daily Star. Scriber bets you cannot figure out which one is true and which one is satire. Stop! No cheating. Make your selection BEFORE reading the Star.

Quote of the day: What Republicans do not understand about Republicans, a story ripe for cartoons

The Quote: “People don’t think like that,” [Paul Ryan] said. “People want to know the deck is fair. Bernie Sanders talks about that stuff. That’s not who we are.”

The New York Times has a story about the disconnect between Republican Elites and the blue-collar workers whose votes they take for granted. Here is an example.

But [Trump's successes] has done little to convince Republican leaders that they need to rethink their approach or devise new proposals for blue-collar workers who are hurting.

During a recent interview with CNBC, Mr. Ryan was asked if Republicans needed to respond to less-affluent voters who believed that Republicans were tending only to the interests of those at the top.

Mr. Ryan, who during the same interview called again for the overhaul of entitlements and the reduction of debt, rejected that idea.

“People don’t think like that,” he said. “People want to know the deck is fair. Bernie Sanders talks about that stuff. That’s not who we are.”

If that is too opaque, you can read the Times' report for more evidence of just how the party of big money and big business is so removed from the voters they need, the voters who are voting for Trump.

If you are too busy to read the long Times report, here is the message in one cartoon from AZBlueMeanie - who has lots more in the Monday cartoons.

 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Steller: Legislature's new mission — keep cities from governing

AZ Daily Star columnist Tim Steller exposes another instance of the hypocrisy of the AZ legislature and the AZ monarchical Guv Doug "Il Duce" Ducey. The lege is increasing its attacks on local control and the power-mad Guv signs them.

The logical next step is for Il Duce to appoint city managers. Michigan shows how well that works.

A little bird alights, Bernie laughs, and the crowd goes wild

Take a moment to appreciate this video courtesy of Rachel Maddow (before the conspiracy gang starts spinning it).

h/t Sherry Moreau who wrote:

I'm sure you saw the magical moment when the little bird landed on Bernie's podium and you watched as Senator Sanders immediately became soft, warm and totally charmed. And the crowd went wild.

I'm guessing it won't be long before Fitz offers a cartoon of a Black Vulture perched atop the Trump and Cruz podiums.

There was another funny moment. The video clip starts with Bernie talking about coming from a poor family - one of his standard talking points. The audience, noticing the bird, starts to giggle. Bernie is obviously puzzled as to why his message is eliciting snickers, and then he sees the bird and laughs along with the audience.

Quote of the day: Why does Trump evoke such intense rapture and equally intense revulsion?

The Quote: "Trump has simply pitted the Republican brain against the Republican brain stem."

That is the bottom line thought from Jonathan Chait at the New York Magazine.

The true source of the schism is between Republicans who intellectualize conservative impulses and those who do not. The strongest demographic predictor of Republican support for Trump is education, with college-educated Republicans far less likely to support him than those without degrees. He epitomizes low-brow, reality-show values, making himself a kind of one-man cultural wedge.

But there is more to Trump’s high-low divide than that. The conservative movement has succeeded for decades by channeling racial resentment, nationalism, and authoritarianism into traditional policy proposals that can be justified in white papers on foreign policy, welfare, crime, taxes, and so on. Trump has made a mockery of this whole process, substituting boundless faith in his personality for a policy architecture constructed over generations. Conservative intellectuals understand and care about these ideas. They have articulated serious reasons for, say, restricting immigration levels, but Trump grasps the embarrassing reality that most Republican voters are driven by base animus toward immigrants. The rupture he’s opened does not divide one set of ideas from another. Trump has simply pitted the Republican brain against the Republican brain stem.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Addendum: More on Prop 123 at Blog for Arizona.

AZBlueMeanie also featured Diane Post's op-ed in the Arizona Capital Times. Remember also the bills already before the legislature that would expand the voucher program thus increasing the flow of public funds to private schools. Linda Lyon comments on the voucher bills.

These efforts aren’t about the individual child, or even children in general. What they are about is shrinking the government and reducing the ability of the people to participate in their democracy. Our Tea-publican Legislature won’t be happy until they have total control over every aspect of an extremely limited government which is all about keeping them in power and making their wealthy supporters even more wealthy. That’s the real bottom line and anyone who believes otherwise is living in La-La Land.

Just watch who votes for these travesties and then vote those GOPlins out of office.

More back-and-forth on Prop 123

Before I get into the target commentary, let me put in a word for an upcoming DCSRA program on April 9th at 3:00PM in the upstairs room (#248) in the Continental Shopping Plaza in Green Valley. The focus of the forum is on public education funding and the pros and cons of Prop 123. The proposition is the subject of a special election on May 17th. The forum will be moderated by Bill Maki and features panelists David Safier, Dr. Scott Hagerman, Morgan Abraham, and Senator Steve Farley.

The Arizona Capital Times (subscription required) featured an opinion piece on Prop 123 from Diane Post, a piece that occasioned a couple of comments.

While many good-hearted people have encouraged supporting Prop. 123 because they claim it is a good start and injects badly needed money immediately into the classroom, unfortunately, they are wrong. First, there will be a lawsuit regarding whether or not the enabling act requires Congressional approval to implement the Proposition. During the lawsuit, which could take several years, no monies will be sent to classrooms.

Even if the Legislature paid everything ordered and agreed to, it will not change Arizona’s ranking on education. It will not fix the education problem in Arizona, and it will not provide sustainable funding for our schools. For 20 years our pupil-teacher ratio has steadily worsened and is now 40% greater than the national average. In 1992, Arizona funded our students at 80% of the national average for state-sourced funding; today it is 55%, the worse in the country. Our state-sourced funding per teacher has dropped from 70% to 40% of the national average.

[snip]

... the proposition includes in it a permanent change to the Constitution to reduce voters’ power. The Voter Protection Act says a referendum passed by the voters cannot be repealed and can only be amended if the amendment furthers the purpose of the law and has 75% of the legislators’ approval. The intent of the Legislature is nakedly visible with four bills introduced this session: HCR2023, HCR2024, HCR2043, HCR2047. These bills would make it easier to repeal voters’ intent and put several hurdles in the way of passing a voter initiative. By refusing to fund the mandatory 2% inflation increase (which was a voter passed initiative) and not funding the base level, the Legislature re-directed (stole) the money specifically earmarked for education by the voters and used it for tax breaks to corporations. They got caught and sued. Now they want to make sure that doesn’t happen again by changing the Constitution to reduce voter power.

It’s hard to say no to our struggling schools but in reality they won’t get money immediately anyhow. The money they eventually will get is minuscule compared to what is needed to bring Arizona up to par. The legislature has clearly signaled they have no intention of coming up with a plan for permanent, sustainable and sufficient funding for public schools and they want to decrease voter power to make sure we can’t force them. Vote no on Prop. 123 and let’s elect legislators who truly care about Arizona’s kids and Arizona’s future.

Here are two comments.

[From Exctyenger]: While Ms Post is undoubtably correct in her assessment, there is no alternative. If the citizens go back to the courts it too will be a long and expensive ordeal with no clear outcome. The Gov already has appointed Clint Bolick a Goldwater Institute lackey to the State Supreme Court and wants to increase the bench by three, you know what kind of folks he will appoint all this means is that our schools will lose in court. All I see is a lose – lose situation. I say take the money and run.

[From Brian Clymer]: I’m responding to “Exctyenger”. You won’t be able to “take the money and run” if Prop 123 passes because there will be litigation over whether Prop 123 violates the Enabling Act. Prop 123 is no quick fix; it simply creates more long term problems. Vote no on Prop 123.

So why am I granting space to the "no on 123" side of this debate? I've been up in Tucson for the last two days. On just about every street corner there is a sign urging a "yes" vote on 123. Those signs are paid for by the $4 million raised by the mostly big money folks. And that's just the beginning of the big money push. The "no" side of this has a paltry several hundred dollars, so the only way they can be heard is through the press.

Come to the April 9th forum and learn more about Prop 123 and the choice, Ducey's Choice, you will face on May 17th.

Scriber's tip for getting more out of this blog: Try using the search feature to find related previous posts. It is a widget in the right-hand column labeled "Search this blog".

Quote of the Day: Cruz and Trump continue War of the Wives

The Quote: "Donald may be a rat but I have no desire to copulate with him," said Cruz. "This garbage does not belong in politics." Ted Cruz refuting a National Enquirer report on extramarital affairs.

You can read the slime on your own in pieces in today's Daily Star. One is about Trump alienating female voters and the other on Cruz's reaction to the Enquirer's story.

No Trump: The battle for convention delegates and a "white knight" alternative to Crooze

The battle for delegates to the Republican national convention is happening behind the scenes; Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) has the story. The Trump operatives are already working the phone lines.

If Trump falls short of the magic number, many believe it will create the opening anti-Trump forces need to nominate someone else. NBC News reports today on Team Trump’s effort to make sure that doesn’t happen.

While Trump publicly dismisses talk of a battle in Cleveland, he is quietly assembling a team of seasoned operatives to manage a contested convention. Their strategy, NBC has learned, is to convert delegates in the crucial 40 days between the end of the primaries and the convention - while girding for a floor fight in Cleveland if necessary.

The outreach is already underway. “We are talking to tons of delegates,” says Barry Bennett, a former Ben Carson campaign manager now leading the delegate strategy for Trump.

[However] plenty in the party are still dreaming of a scenario in which there’s a contested convention and the nomination goes to a white-knight candidate who isn’t even in the race right now.

It’s something to keep in mind as the GOP establishment continues to rally behind Ted Cruz, a candidate party leaders have actively and fiercely hated for several years. Some see the Texas senator as a less-ridiculous option to the current Republican frontrunner, but many also see him as a means to an end: if they can boost Cruz and he does well enough to keep Trump below 1,237, it may open the door to keeping the nomination out of Trump’s and Cruz’s hands.

So who is the "white knight"? Would you believe Speaker of the House Paul Ryan? If you think that's impossible, perhaps because Ryan is (supposedly) not running, Charles Pierce has some words for you about Ryan's latest speech.. Ryan and other candidates spoke at the recent AIPAC conference.

Ryan said: "Israel, like us, is a liberal democracy in a sea of authoritarian regimes. So when America helps Israel, both countries become stronger. Both countries are protecting our way of life.

Wait, whoa. The United States is "a liberal democracy in a sea of authoritarian regimes"? Why does Paul Ryan hate Canada so much? Or the U.K.? Or Ireland? Or the Finns, the Danes, the Swedes and the Norwegians? What is this man talking about? He's talking about delegates from Florida, is what he's talking about.

Granted, he did not directly ask for votes. Maybe he was just asking for money.

h/t Sherri Moreau for the Charles Pierce essay via ReaderSupportedNews.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Freaky Friday

Here are some items worth mention. (They are short ones because Scriber is back to being an academic, Friday being my UofA Day.)

A litmus test for your vote

Jim Nintzel (Tucson Weekly/The Range) lists "10 terrible bills" in the AZ Idioture. h/t AZBlueMeanie

Scriber is tracking votes on these and many more. Stay tuned for a comprehensive report on the voting behaviors of so-called moderates.

Who's afraid of Joe McCarthy?

Not Ted Crooze!

Steve Benen (MSNBC MaddowBlog) offers some choice comments on politicians wrapping themselves in McCarthyism.

There was a point in the not-too-distant past that both parties considered McCarthyism and the former senator’s legacy to be a scourge to be avoided forevermore.

But as Republican politics has shifted to the even-further-right, conservatives have begun to rethink their attitudes on McCarthy. Missouri’s Todd Akin, for example, compared himself to McCarthy two years ago, and he meant it in a good way.

In 2010 in Texas, conservative activists rewriting the state’s curriculum recommended telling students that McCarthy was a hero, “vindicated” by history. Around the same time, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) endorsed bringing back the House Un-American Activities Committee.

As we discussed a couple of years ago, when the political world considers how much the Republican Party has changed over the last generation, look no further than those who’ve decided McCarthyism wasn’t so bad after all.

And what does Crooze say about all that?

Exactly three years ago this week, a reporter from the Dallas Morning News told Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) he’s been compared at times to Joe McCarthy. Cruz said that criticism “may be a sign that perhaps we’re doing something right,” ...

Actually, it's much, much worse. Check out Charles Pierce's essay in Esquire on Crooze and McCarthy.

I wonder what Trump might say about that once the War of the Wives is settled. From a Google search on "Trump McCarthy" one could infer the answer.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Quote of the day #1: "end of the line for GOP"

That's part of the headline from an op-ed in the Daily Star this morning by Jonah Goldberg, the full headline being It’s the end of the line for GOP as we know it.

We all ought to pay attention to this one. Here is why. "Jonah Goldberg is an editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute." In other words, he is a serious conservative. His article is a damning indictment of the Republican party and a chilling prediction of how Trump's candidacy presents the Republicans with a lose-lose scenario.

Nominating Donald Trump will wreck the Republican Party as we know it. Not nominating Trump will wreck the Republican Party as we know it. The sooner everyone recognizes this fact, the better.

Denial has been Trump’s greatest ally. Republicans and commentators didn’t believe he would run. They didn’t believe he could be an attractive candidate to rational people, no matter how angry with “the establishment” voters said they were. They — which includes me — were wrong.

[snip]

Trump’s response to [the] floor-fight talk was to vomit up the usual word salad.

“All I can say is this, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Trump told ABC’s “This Week.” “But I will say this, you’re going to have a lot of very unhappy people (if I’m denied the nomination). And I think, frankly, for the Republicans to disenfranchise all those people because if that happens, they’re not voting and the Republicans lose.”

Even through the syntactical fog, Trump’s point is clear: If he can’t reach 1,237, he should get the nomination anyway. Because he is Trump. If that doesn’t happen, his supporters will stay home, defect from the party, riot or all three.

And he’s right. Not about deserving the nomination even if he doesn’t have the delegates. That’s typical Trumpian whining. But he’s right that if he’s denied the nomination, many — not all, but many — of his supporters will bolt from the convention and the party.

Left out of Trump’s unsubtle threat: Many anti-Trump Republicans will desert the convention and the party if he’s not denied the nomination.

There are only three possible ways to avoid a calamitous walkout. Ted Cruz can win the nomination outright before the convention. That’s very unlikely given that he’d need to win roughly 80 percent of all the remaining delegates.

Second, Trump could reveal he has a hidden reservoir of magnanimity and patriotism, and rally his faithful to the consensus nominee. Stop laughing.

Third, the delegates could pick someone sufficiently attractive that Trump followers get over their understandable bitterness and support that candidate despite Trump’s objections. Who would that be? Certainly not Mitt Romney. Maybe a reanimated Ronald Reagan. Or Batman? I have no idea.

All of these scenarios are so unlikely in part because the split in the GOP isn’t merely about a single personality. Trump represents just the most pronounced of a spiderweb of ideological and demographic fault lines that are increasingly difficult to paper over.

That set of fault lines, as I've written about them before, is the divide between the Republican Elites and the new American Authoritarianism. Or, as Goldberg put it, "Put simply, and with the incessant and obtuse comparisons of Trump to Reagan notwithstanding, you cannot have a party that’s both Reaganite and Trumpish."

So ends the GOP as our parents knew it.

Quote of the Day #2: Trump is a national problem - because the Republicans made it one

The Quote: "This newspaper has made no secret of its distaste for Trump. Thus we feel it our duty to warn that Trump is not a Republican problem. He’s a national problem." Editorial in The Republic (azcentral.com), March 23, 2016.

Snippets follow.

The Arizona results sharpen the dilemma for the GOP. Trump’s lead expanded on Tuesday night and frantic efforts by party elders to derail his campaign were made that much harder.

Democrats are buoyed by the knowledge that polls heavily favor Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head contest with Donald Trump. They also believe the Republican Party is self-destructing. One Democratic strategist writing in Politico even argues “2016 is already decided” and Clinton has won.

Democrats should tread cautiously. Trump has no doubt split the Republican Party, but his blade may not cut vertically through the Republican silo, but horizontally through both parties, splitting the country, not by party, but by class.

There is strong evidence Trump is drawing the favor of working-class Democrats, unionists, men, whom he will court in the fall.

This newspaper has made no secret of its distaste for Trump. Thus we feel it our duty to warn that Trump is not a Republican problem. He’s a national problem.

Yes, that is true. Trump is a national problem. But it is also true that the Republicans have made it so in two ways. (1) They have sown the seeds of hate and racism and obstructionism and economic insecurity thus creating a witches' brew of discontent and anger that aroused the worst of Authoritarian tendencies in the electorate. (2) Their belated attempts to stop Trump are most kindly characterized as incompetent and less kindly (but more accurately) as a pathetic joke - as Eugene Robinson called them.

Robinson gives some advice to the GOP.

The party establishment has no hope of defeating Trump if it is not willing to coalesce around one of his opponents. I understand that Cruz — the logical choice, since he has actually beaten Trump multiple times in primaries and caucuses — is widely disliked and almost certainly too conservative to win the general election. I understand that Kasich is seen as too moderate and has not demonstrated much appeal to the base. But if party leaders can’t bring themselves to choose one or the other, Trump will continue to roll.

AZBlueMeanie has the short version of where that leaves us.

Apparently The ‘Stop Trump’ movement is falling apart, so the only alternative for the GOP establishment is to grovel at the feet of the most hated man in the U.S. Senate, who hates the GOP establishment — “right back actcha!” — even more. The GOP establishment doesn’t want “Calgary” Cruz as their nominee mind you, they just want to deny Donald Trump enough delegates to force a brokered convention. And then we will see if “The Donald” makes good on his threats of riots at the convention.

Should that happen, I fear that the outcome in Cleveland 2016 will greatly eclipse the events in Chicago 1968.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Observations on Tuesday's primary

Here are snippets from the NY Times report.

Turnout by voters in Arizona, Utah and Idaho was unusually high, with long lines — some snaking for several blocks — at polling places and caucus sites.

Can Trump be stopped?

Increasingly, it does not appear so. Trump won all the AZ delegates.

Republicans hoping to stop Mr. Trump suffered another blow as he carried Arizona by a wide margin: He was on a course to receive more votes than Mr. Cruz and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio combined. If his opponents fail to defeat him in Wisconsin, where voters go to the polls in two weeks, they are unlikely to stop him from clinching the nomination on the last day of voting in June.

Mr. Trump’s easy victory in Arizona also provided a sharp rebuttal to assertions by Mr. Cruz that he would struggle in the remaining contests because so many of them allow only Republicans to vote. Aided by Arizona’s generous early-voting laws, Mr. Trump showed that he can win handily in states with closed Republican primaries, where Democrats and independents are barred from voting.

Mr. Trump’s more precise vulnerability appears to have been in states holding caucuses, where organizational strength can be decisive. But after Tuesday, there are no such contests left.

Is Kasich a viable alternative?

Not if you do the primary math. My friends rely on Kasich's reputation as a very conservative but "sane" candidate. That reputation did not translate into votes on Tuesday.

In a sign of how many Republicans had already voted, with 80 percent of Arizona precincts reporting, Mr. Kasich had received fewer votes than Senator Marco Rubio, who withdrew from the race last Tuesday.

Losing to a candidate with a dead campaign is not a good sign.

Clinton still front-runner

Arizona was the most heavily contested of the three states voting on Tuesday in the Democratic race, in which Mrs. Clinton has opened a nearly insurmountable lead after sweeping all five states that voted on March 15.

Only registered Democrats were allowed to vote in Arizona, posing an obstacle to Mr. Sanders, who typically overwhelms Mrs. Clinton among independents.

Utah and Idaho, by contrast, were voting through caucuses, not primaries, and have largely white populations — two frequent indications of success for Mr. Sanders.

But with Democrats allocating their delegates on a proportional basis, Mr. Sanders’s share of the combined 64 delegates offered by Utah and Idaho will do little to dent Mrs. Clinton’s lead of 319 pledged delegates heading into Tuesday’s votes.

So it does keep looking like Clinton vs. Trump in November.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Staring into the Awful Abyss of Authoritarian America: Donald Trump is not breaking the Republican party - he IS the Republican party.

If you think that Donald Trump is trashing the Republican party, think again. He is giving voice to a portion of the electorate who are suffering through extreme economic inequality and who have lost faith in their political parties and do not trust their political leaders. On some accounts, Trump is doing nothing more than pushing the Authoritarian buttons of the voters - what the Republican Establishment has been doing for decades. Ever since the 1970s, the Republican Elites have sown the seeds of Trumpism (Authoritarianism, really). Now they reap - and weep.

Here I offer some thoughts - mine and others' - on Trump's emergence as the leader of the Republican party. We'll look at the why this happened, how it happened, and who let it happen.

We start with snippets from a very long essay by Frank Rich in the New York Magazine, reprinted by Reader Supported News. (h/t Sherry Moreau)

Why did the GOP Elites fail to stop Trump?

The answer is short and simple: the Republican Establishment made the party what it is today, a party of hate and obstructionism, and thereby created the circumstances favoring the rise of an Authoritarian leader. Frank Rich expands.

The Republican Elites. The Establishment. The Party Elders. The Donor Class. The Mainstream. The Moderates. Whatever you choose to call them, they, at least, could be counted on to toss the party-crashing bully out.

To say it didn’t turn out that way would be one of the great understatements of American political history. Even now, many Republican elites, hedging their bets and putting any principles in escrow, have yet to meaningfully condemn Trump. McCain says he would support him if he gets his party’s nomination. The Establishment campaign guru who figured the Trump problem would solve itself moved on to anti-Trump advocacy and is now seeking to unify the party behind Trump, waving the same white flag of surrender as Chris Christie. Every major party leader — Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Reince Priebus, Kevin McCarthy — has followed McCain’s example and vowed to line up behind whoever leads the ticket, Trump included. Even after the recurrent violence at Trump rallies boiled over into chaos in Chicago, none of his surviving presidential rivals would disown their own pledges to support him in November. Trump is not Hitler, but those who think he is, from Glenn Beck to Louis C.K., should note that his Vichy regime is already in place in Washington, D.C.

Since last summer, Trump, sometimes in unwitting tandem with Bernie Sanders, has embarrassed almost the entire American political ecosystem — pollsters, pundits, veteran political operatives and the talking heads who parrot their wisdom, focus-group entrepreneurs, super-pac strategists, number-crunching poll analysts at FiveThirtyEight and its imitators. But of all the emperors whom Trump has revealed to have few or no clothes, none have been more conspicuous or consequential than the GOP elites. He has smashed the illusion, one I harbored as much as anyone, that there’s still some center-right GOP Establishment that could restore old-school Republican order if the crazies took over the asylum.

The reverse has happened instead. The Establishment’s feckless effort to derail Trump has, if anything, sparked a pro-Trump backlash among the GOP’s base and, even more perversely, had the unintended consequence of boosting the far-right Ted Cruz, another authoritarian bomb-thrower who is hated by the Establishment as much as, if not more than, Trump is. (Not even Trump has called McConnell “a liar,” which Cruz did on the Senate floor.) The elites now find themselves trapped in a lose-lose cul-de-sac. Should they defeat Trump on a second or third ballot at a contested convention and install a regent more to their liking such as Ryan or John Kasich — or even try to do so — they will sow chaos, not reestablish order. In the Cleveland ’16 replay of Chicago ’68, enraged Trump and Cruz delegates, stoked by Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Matt Drudge, et al., will go mano a mano with the party hierarchy inside the hall to the delectation of television viewers while Black Lives Matter demonstrators storm the gates outside.

[big snip]

For all the Republican talk about “personal responsibility,” the party’s leaders have worked overtime to escape any responsibility for fanning the swamp fevers that produced Trump: They instead blame him on the same bogeymen they blame everything on — Obama and the news media. What GOP elites can’t escape is the sinking feeling that a majority of Republican voters are looking for a president who will repudiate them and, implicitly, their class. Trump refuses to kowtow to the Establishment—and it is precisely that defiance, as articulated in his ridicule of Romney and Jeb Bush and Megyn Kelly and Little Marco, that endears him to Republican voters and some Democrats as well. The so-called battle for the “soul” of the Republican Party is a battle over power, not ideology. Trump has convinced millions of Americans that he will take away the power from the pinheads on high and return it to people below who feel (not wrongly) that they’ve gotten a raw deal. It’s the classic populist pitch, and it will not end well for those who invest their faith in Trump. He cares about no one but himself and would reward his own class with extravagant tax cuts like any Republican president. But the elites, who represent the problem, have lost any standing that might allow them to pretend to be part of the solution.

So what is the embattled GOP Establishment to do? On Super Tuesday morning, Ross Douthat, who had long foreseen a Rubio victory and Trump collapse, offered this tweet: “The forces that Trump is pandering to/unleashing will prevent him from ever consolidating elite conservatives. Period.” But I suspect a more accurate prediction of what’s to come could be found in Rupert Murdoch’s tweet the next afternoon, following Trump’s latest multistate victory: “As predicted, Trump reaching out to make peace with Republican ‘establishment.’ If he becomes inevitable party would be mad not to unify.” Murdoch’s use of scare quotes around Establishment is appropriate: It barely functions now, and the pretense of its existence is unlikely to survive Election Day.

The Republican appeasement

The conventional wisdom that Trump is “destroying” the GOP may prove as wrongheaded as the assumption in 1964 that Barry Goldwater had done the same. Win or lose, Trump, like Goldwater, may be further hastening the party’s steady consolidation rightward. For all their blustery threats of third-party campaigns, defections to Hillary, and other acts of rebellion, Republican elites in the political game are more likely to bend to Trump than the other way around, no matter how many conservative op-ed columnists beg them not to do so. They still want to preserve any shred of power they can, and to do that, they must pitch in and try to win. You’ll notice that just about the only Republican politicians or campaign operatives who are vocal in the #NeverTrump claque are either congressmen who are retiring this year, party potentates who have long been out of power (Christine Todd Whitman, Ken Mehlman, J. C. Watts, Mel Martinez), or, as Trump would say, losers (anyone who served in the campaign hierarchies of Romney or Jeb, any neocon who served as a Bush-Cheney architect of the Iraq War). Everyone else will keep on doing what senators and governors like Orrin Hatch and Jeff Sessions and Paul LePage have steadily been doing: They will appease Trump or surrender to him altogether on the most favorable terms they can, for “the good” of the party and the ticket in November. They will make their peace with the art of the deal.

A third party rising from the ashes?

In an earlier post, I predicted that the Trump campaign was headed toward being a third party. We may yet have a 2-party system, but one of those parties, the one led by Trump, will be most unlike what our parents knew. In that sense, Trump is fashioning a third party. And the mainstream media blew it. They continue to cover Trump the candidate and fail to understand Trump the party. Neil Gabler at billmoyers.com explains.

Ah, the crescendo of complaint! The Republican establishment and the mainstream media, working hand in hand in their unprecedented, non-stop assault on the “short-fingered vulgarian” named Donald Trump, would have you believe that Trump augurs the destruction of the Republican Party. Former Reagan speechwriter and now Wall Street Journal/CBS pundit Peggy Noonan expressed the general sentiment of both camps when she said on Super Tuesday that “we’re seeing a great political party shatter before our eyes.”

But here is what no one in the GOP establishment wants you to know, and no one in the media wants to admit: Donald Trump isn’t the destruction of the Republican Party; he is the fulfillment of everything the party has been saying and doing for decades. He is just saying it louder and more plainly than his predecessors and intra-party rivals.

The media have been acting as if the Trump debacle were the biggest political story to come down the pike in some time. But the real story – one the popularity of Trump’s candidacy has revealed and inarguably the biggest political story of the last 50 years — is the decades-long transformation of Republicanism from a business-centered, small town, white Protestant set of beliefs into quite possibly America’s primary institutional force of bigotry, intellectual dishonesty, ignorance, warmongering, intractability and cruelty against the vulnerable and powerless.

In my book, that transformation of the Republican party is the political story of our time. The transformation was not an accident. The GOP leaders pushed all the buttons that activated an Authoritarian base in their pursuit of power and privilege. In so doing, they created a chasm between the Republican Elites and the Republican voters that is now filled by Donald Trump, #OldBeachApple.

Dave Johnson at commondreams.org describes that rift between the Elites and the people in terms of economic inequality.

For some time now most of the people in this country have been under economic pressure. Pay is not going up very much or at all, while living costs keep rising. One recent statistic stands out – 63 percent of Americans would have difficulty raising $500 to cover an emergency, like a sudden need for car repair so they can get to work. Around them the community’s roads and schools and services are in decline.

Most of the public can see this clearly, yet so many elites can’t see at all, and see it or not, they do little or nothing to make things better. This arrogance of our blind, well-fixed elites is helping drive the Donald Trump phenomenon.

Among the “establishment” – the people “in charge” of our “system,” including the news and opinion elites who serve as gatekeepers of information – there is willful blindness to how things have been getting worse for millions of Americans and their communities. They tell the voters they are wrong, that our trade policies are actually good for them.

The voters turn to Trump, who promises he will make it all better, that it will be beautiful.

No one else is offering hope.

Johnson then proceeds to "factcheck" the arrogance of the Elites by challenging these claims.

If [Trump's supporters] would only read more magazines they would understand why moving their jobs out of the country is good for all of us.

... moving the jobs out of the country is good for us because we all get to pay lower prices. [Washington Post columnist Glenn] Kessler also says all those jobs aren’t gone because we moved millions and millions of jobs out of the country so investors could pay lower wages, pollute all they want and pocket all of the savings; no, the jobs are gone because of “increased productivity.”

Kessler also explains to ignorant, laid-off auto workers whose jobs were moved to Mexico why this was good for them. ... (Visit Flint, Detroit, other places where workers were laid off and factories were shut down and moved to Mexico. Look at the devastation that resulted, and tell people why this is good for them.)

Here's my favorites of Johnson's observations.

The American workforce consists of:

1) People whose jobs were moved out of the country, who when took forever to find a new one (if they ever did) and who get paid much less now. In the process, maybe they lost their house or their retirement savings.

2) People who know someone this happened to.

3) People who are afraid this will happen to them. This creates a climate of fear. They don’t take vacations or sick days. They take on extra work at nights or weekends. They work “on call,” never far from the phone and checking work email into the night. They try to make everyone else look bad so they’re not first on the firing line.

4) People who don’t get raises as a result of 1, 2 or 3. Meanwhile the cost of living, rent, health insurance co-pays, etc. keeps going up and up. Pressure builds. (Trump beckons…)

5) People who are doing really well, maybe write op-eds for a living, have a great stock portfolio, don’t believe 1, 2, 3 or 4 exist at all, and believe “everyone is better off because of free trade.” (They also read magazines, apparently.)

The people in categories 1, 2, 3 and 4 are potential Trump voters. People in category 5 just don’t get it. Kessler and similar elites are in category 5.

And the biggest arrogance of all is to blame the people who have been so badly served by the Elites.

Our elite class loves to explain to laid-off workers why their woes are their own fault. They don’t have a college degree. They should have started their own companies. They’re on drugs. They don’t know how to program computers. They’re too fat or lazy or dim to quickly adapt.

Trump beckons ...

Johnson concludes:

Trump voters are “a coalition of the dispossessed.” Government has done nothing for them. Elites: You’re not going to stop Trump by telling his voters how wrong they are about the economy and the effects of our country’s trade policies. They’re not wrong. You are. They’re not stuck in a time warp. You are.

The nutshell

If you have stuck with me this far, I must apologize. I could have saved you some time. Here it is in a nutshell.

Starting around 1970, two things started happening. (1) The rich started getting richer, and poor got poorer, and the middle-class started disappearing. In short, in the ensuing years economic inequality became, in Trump's terms, huge and left the electorate to fall further and further behind. (2) In pursuit of political power, the Republican leaders and strategists employed messaging that activated Authoritarian tendencies among the Republican voters. That left said voters seeking a strong leader who would promise more than the Republican Elite was able to deliver. Economic inequality and aroused Authoritarianism - both spawned by the reckless, feckless, factless Republican Elite - are the conditions that led to the ascendance of Donald Trump and are the reasons why we are now staring into the Awful Abyss of American Authoritarianism.

Quote of the day: Words to describe the Republican reaction to Merrick Garland's nomination - illogical, circular, extremism, cowardice.

The Quote: "What the Republican senators seem to be asserting, or deferring to, is not the power of the Presidency or of the legislature but of a body that is not one of the three branches at all: the Republican Party." From Who’s Afraid of Merrick Garland? by Amy Davidson in the New Yorker.

A close second from the same source: "The G.O.P.’s Garland game plan ... illustrates a truth about the G.O.P. today: it is increasingly hard to tell the difference between usurpation and abdication—between extremism and cowardice."

In a related post, AZBlueMeanie reveals the extent of the Republicans' judicial activism.

Monday, March 21, 2016

"Trump’s Storm Troopers and the Possibility of American Fascism"

Sunday morning on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos Donald "OldBeachApple" Trump was caught lying about an incident at one of his rallies on an audio hook-up while the video of the incident was being replayed simultaneously on that program. Here are snippets from the ABC News report.

In an interview with “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump defended his campaign manager for an alleged incident at a campaign rally in Tucson, Arizona Saturday night in which he appears to grab the collar of a protester.

He also called the protesters "sick" and didn't appear to back down about the notion that there would be riots if he were denied the nomination at a contested convention

During the incident, which was captured on video, [Corey] Lewandowski appears to grab the collar of a protester at the same time as a member of Trump's private security team. The protester and his companion had been escorted out earlier in the rally. It is unclear how they came back in.

Despite what can be seen on multiple sources of video, Trump's campaign said in a statement Saturday night that Lewandowski made no contact with the protester and Trump made no mention of any footage during “This Week."

Scriber thinks the instant replay trumps the call by Trump, the would-be ump.

BTW: Trump has campaign staff circulating on the floor of those rallies - unusual, I believe. And this incident is not the first.

Lewandowski, in a move that could be considered unusual for most campaign managers, often patrols the crowd at events.

On March 8, Lewandowski was accused of grabbing the arm of reporter Michelle Fields, who at the time worked at conservative website Breitbart. Lewandowski and the campaign denied having touched her, though a Washington Post reporter supported her claim, and audio seemed to bolster her version of events.

Also recall the punching and kicking of a protester by one of Trump's supporters. And Trump refuses to condemn that violence.

Add to that: Trump predicts riots if he is not the Republican nominee, and when asked for a right-handed show of support, his followers raise their right hands in the manner of the Sieg Heil in Nazi Germany. Other writers have noted the parallels between modern day America and the events leading to the rise of Hitler (Robert Reich, for example).

And all this brings us back to the two themes raised in the title - which is a subtitle of an essay by Bob Dreyfuss at CommonDreams.org.

The first theme is a riff on the Authoritarian America/Nazi Germany parallels. Dreyfuss compares the two point by point.

... what ingredients, if any, are still needed for the emergence of an authentic twenty-first-century American fascist movement? To think about that question, I recently read Richard J. Evans’ book, The Coming of the Third Reich. It spans the era from 1871 to 1933, describing in exquisitely painful detail the gestation and growth of the Nazi party. If you decide to read the book, try doing what I did: in two columns in your head draw up a list of similarities and differences between the United States today and Weimar Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s.

In this edgy moment in America, the similarities, of course, tend to jump out at you. As Trump repeatedly pledges to restore American greatness, so Hitler promised to avenge Germany’s humiliation in World War I. As Trump urges his followers, especially the white working class, to blame their troubles on Mexican immigrants and Muslims, so Hitler whipped up an anti-Semitic brew. As Trump -- ironically, for a billionaire -- attacks Wall Street and corporate lobbyists for rigging the economy and making puppets out of politicians, so Hitler railed against Wall Street and the City of London, along with their local allies in Germany, for burdening his country with a massive post-World War I, Versailles Treaty-imposed reparations debt and for backing the Weimar Republic’s feckless center-right parties. (Think: the Republican Party today.) As with Trump’s China-bashing comments and his threats to murder the relatives of Islamist terrorists while taking over Iraq’s oil reserves, Hitler too appealed to an atavistic, reckless sort of ultra-nationalism.

The second theme in the title is Trump's Storm Troopers. What might that look like in America in the not too distant future? Dreyfuss answers.

The Second Amendment Society

But don’t forget the differences, which are no less obvious. The United States has a long-established tradition of democratic republicanism, which 1920s Germany did not. The economy of the planet’s last superpower, while careening into a near-depression in 2008, is incomparably too strong to be put in the same category as the hyperinflation-plagued German one of that era.

There is, however, another difference between Donald Trump of 2016 and Adolf Hitler of 1921 (when he took over the leadership of the fledgling National Socialist German Workers Party) that overshadows the rest. From the beginning, Hitler wielded the support of a brutal, thuggish armed paramilitary wing, the notorious Sturmabteilung (SA), the Storm Detachment (or storm troopers). Also known as the Brown Shirts, the SA often used violence against its opponents in the streets of Germany’s cities, and its sheer presence intimidated Germans across the political spectrum.

And that got me thinking. Would it be possible for Donald Trump or some future Trump-like figure to build an armed following of his own? Frighteningly enough, the answer is certainly: yes. And it might not even be that hard.

Bear with me a moment here. Back in 2010, in Alexandria, Virginia, radical partisans of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, bolstered by Virginia’s egregiously anything-goes open-carry laws, held a Restore the Constitution Rally in Fort Hunt Park on the Potomac River -- and they came armed. The event was, by the way, scheduled for April 19th, the anniversary of Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. At the time, I lived a mile or so from that park, and the combination of fear, anger, and disgust that such a weapons-displaying political demonstration could happen in the virtual shadow of the Capitol was palpable.

Admittedly, only about 50 armed people took part, though 2,000 others held an unarmed, parallel rally in Washington, D.C., where carrying weapons is forbidden. Think about how many more might turn out today in a country where there have already been a number of armed rallies and demonstrations by Second Amendment activists, and in 2016, thanks to effective lobbying by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the majority of states have enacted complete or partial open-carry laws. Meanwhile, all 50 states now have concealed-carry laws, meaning that pistol-packing is lawful in most public places other than Washington, D.C.

So imagine this scenario for a moment: Donald Trump (or a future Trump-esque demagogue) announces that he’s convening a rally in a state where open-carry is permitted -- say, in Dallas, at the Cowboys' AT&T Stadium -- and adds that he wants his supporters to come armed. (Trump has loudly defended the NRA’s interpretation of the Second Amendment during the primary season and on his website there’s a plank called “Protecting Our Second Amendment Will Make America Great Again.”) Under Texas law, it would be perfectly legal for his supporters in the thousands to attend such a rally armed with semi-automatic weapons. And there, at the podium, looking out over the crown of gun-wielding militants would be The Donald, smiling broadly.

And that is a recurring horrifying daydream of mine. #OldBeachApple stirs up the mob and the NRA arms them. Both those things are happening now, in real time.

Dreyfuss has more to say about the conditions that would lead to such a scenario. Put down your Steven King novel and read Dreyfuss' essay to get your juices flowing.

Legislative agenda for the week (aka the week ahead in Authoritarian Arizona)

Here's a striker in the Senate to HB2163. "Establishes requirements and prohibitions regarding pet dealers and the sale of dogs and cats. Prohibits cities or towns from imposing local law, rule, regulation or ordinance prohibiting sale of dogs or cats."

The GOPlins like local control, that is, when they control the locals.

hyp·o·crite /ˈhipəˌkrit/ noun Synonymous with Republican.

Here is the rest of the agenda from Craig McDermott at B4AZ.

Cartoons to help you through the week

From AZBlueMeanie, of course. Here is a sample.

You might recognize one of my themes here. After the primaries are done, the one way Democrats can guarantee "President" Trump is to throw a snit fit and stay home. I implore all: commit right now, regardless of the primary outcome, to vote and vote Democratic from top to bottom.

 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Billionaires chip in millions to buy votes on Prop 123

You think that's harsh? Read this report in the Daily Star from Howard Fischer about the funding for PR favoring a "yes" vote on Prop 123.

Led by a pair of billionaires, proponents of Proposition 123 have raised more than $4 million so far to persuade voters to approve the measure.

If approved in a May 17 special election, the plan would pump $3.5 billion into public schools over the next decade. It also would bring an end to a lawsuit that schools and education groups filed against the state in 2010.

Reports filed as of the deadline late Friday showed the pro-123 forces had picked up $3.7 million from the time the campaign started through Feb. 23. That’s the last date for which they are required to account for donations.

But Capitol Media Services has identified another nearly $368,000 in major donations since that date.

To this point, there appears to be no active opposition, at least on the financial front. The one committee, organized by Tucsonan Andrew Gardner, reported taking in only $617.

Gardner said he hopes to do better once Arizona’s presidential preference election is over on Tuesday and voters begin to pay more attention to the May election. Still, he conceded he’s never going to come anywhere close to the war chest already amassed by backers.

“I don’t have any billionaires on speed dial,” Gardner said.

There are at least two billionaires in the pro-123 camp.

One is Bruce Halle, a Paradise Valley resident who is founder and chairman of the board of privately held Discount Tire Co. He wrote a $1 million check to the campaign in January. Forbes lists his net worth at $6 billion.

The campaign also got another $1 million in February from Bob and Renee Parsons. He is founder of the web-hosting site GoDaddy and, according to Forbes, is worth $2.3 billion.

[snip]

Education groups have lined up in support of the proposition, with the consensus being that a guarantee of getting at least some of what schools are owed is better than the alternative: dragging the lawsuit on for years — and possibly losing.

“There is no other way for this kind of money to get into the fiscal year this year, (to) protect inflation funding going forward,” said Andrew Morrill, president of the Arizona Education Association, when the deal was crafted. “We have capital needs; we’ve lost full-day kindergarten.”

Gardner, however, sees another side.

He pointed out that the plan would amend the Arizona Constitution to say that, beginning in 2024, lawmakers would not be required to increase aid to education to account for inflation any time K-12 funding exceeds 49 percent of the total state budget. And if it hits 50 percent, the Legislature actually can cut state aid.

That’s not a problem now, with current school spending at about 42 percent of state spending. But Gardner fears that figure could grow — and not because more dollars would be flowing to schools.

“The governor campaigned promising to cut taxes every single year,” he said, noting statements made by Doug Ducey during his successful gubernatorial race in 2014. Gardner said if those spending cuts reduce total state spending, it won’t take long for the school share of that to hit the 49 percent figure.

Christian Palmer, spokesman for the pro-123 campaign, said the cap is necessary.

“It’s there to protect the state’s ability to fund all the other vital services,” he said, especially if the economy tanks. And he brushed aside the possibility of someone “gaming” the system by cutting overall state spending, saying the education groups who are backing the ballot measure examined the provisions closely and are comfortable with them.

Aw, come on. Would "someone" game the system by cutting taxes and thus cutting state spending? And thus cut the ability to fund public K-12 in the future? And just who might that "someone" be?

Just wait until after the special election on May 17. Scriber predicts that that "someone" will come out with ideological sabers rattling and budgetary knives drawn. Vouchers for all? Deseg funding for none? Tax breaks forever?

George Will calls out "Invertebrate Republicans" who want Trump to pick next member of Supreme Court

Will comes down hard on the "insincerity" of the GOP senators who refuse to take up the nomination of Merrick Garland in this Daily Star op-ed.

The Republican Party’s incoherent response to the Supreme Court vacancy is a partisan reflex in search of a justifying principle. The multiplicity of Republican rationalizations for their refusal to even consider Merrick Garland radiates insincerity.

Republicans instantly responded to Antonin Scalia’s death by proclaiming that no nominee, however admirable in temperament, intellect and experience, would be accorded a hearing. ...

[snip: Will trashes the various GOPlin reasons.]

Do the Republican Senators really want a President Trump to choose then next member of SCOTUS?

Republicans who vow to deny Garland a hearing and who pledge to support Donald Trump if he is their party’s nominee are saying: Democracy somehow requires that this vacancy on a non-majoritarian institution must be filled only after voters have had their say through the election of the next president. And constitutional values will be served if the vacancy is filled not by Garland but by someone chosen by President Trump, a stupendously uninformed dilettante who thinks judges “sign” what he refers to as “bills.” There is every reason to think that Trump understands none of the issues pertinent to the Supreme Court’s role in the American regime, and there is no reason to doubt that he would bring to the selection of justices what he brings to all matters — arrogance leavened by frivolousness.

Trump’s multiplying Republican apologists do not deny the self-evident — that he is as clueless regarding everything as he is about the nuclear triad. These invertebrate Republicans assume that as president he would surround himself with people unlike himself — wise and temperate advisers. If Republicans really think that either their front-runner or the Democrats’ would nominate someone superior to Garland, it would be amusing to hear them try to explain why they do.

Garrison Keillor: Want to run away from Trump? Staying at home may be a better choice

Check out this editorial in the Daily Star this morning. Garrison Keillor is in fine form.

Republicans move to deny Old Beach Apple the nomination

OldBeachApple, aka Donald Trump, has finally aroused enough ire among Republicans. The New York Times has a longish article on the GOP's efforts to dump Trump including even a proposal to run an independent 3rd party candidate. Rick Perry? That does show the depth of their desperation. Meanwhile, against party leaders' counsel for conceding the role to Cruz, Kasich continues an active campaign for the nomination (or at least to scoop up enough delegates to deny #OldBeachApple the first vote).

The Second Donald Trump

Trump does have more substance than would be expected given his bombastic offensive sound bites used to fire up his Authoritarian base. I did some checking of his positions at his web site and quote, selectively, a few of his ideas.

Health care: Repeal ACA and return to the "freemarket"

... On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.

However, it is not enough to simply repeal this terrible legislation. We will work with Congress to make sure we have a series of reforms ready for implementation that follow free market principles and that will restore economic freedom and certainty to everyone in this country. By following free market principles and working together to create sound public policy that will broaden healthcare access, make healthcare more affordable and improve the quality of the care available to all Americans.

2nd amendment: Guns, guns, more guns

GUN AND MAGAZINE BANS. Gun and magazine bans are a total failure. That’s been proven every time it’s been tried. Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like “assault weapons”, “military-style weapons” and “high capacity magazines” to confuse people. What they’re really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans. Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.

NATIONAL RIGHT TO CARRY. The right of self-defense doesn’t stop at the end of your driveway. That’s why I have a concealed carry permit and why tens of millions of Americans do too. That permit should be valid in all 50 states. A driver’s license works in every state, so it’s common sense that a concealed carry permit should work in every state. If we can do that for driving – which is a privilege, not a right – then surely we can do that for concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege.

Immigration reform

Real immigration reform puts the needs of working people first – not wealthy globetrotting donors. We are the only country in the world whose immigration system puts the needs of other nations ahead of our own. That must change. ...

He will (try to) build the fence and wage economic war against Mexico to do it.

A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.

... Mexico must pay for the wall and, until they do, the United States will, among other things: impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages; increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats (and if necessary cancel them); increase fees on all border crossing cards – of which we issue about 1 million to Mexican nationals each year (a major source of visa overstays); increase fees on all NAFTA worker visas from Mexico (another major source of overstays); and increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico [Tariffs and foreign aid cuts are also options].

Ben Carson was right. There is a second Donald Trump. And there is as little to like about the second Trump as there is to like about the first, more public, Trump.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

"Moderate" Kasich gets awful stuff done

The establishment GOPlins are willing to go with just about anyone other than Trump. So much so, that they are willing to consider a supposed moderate: Ohio Gov. John Kasich. They are not alone. I've heard from otherwise sensible Democrats that Kasich is a sane, moderate alternative to Trump and Cruz. (Shamed admission: I fell for it too.)

That's danger-think. Over at Blog for Arizona Donna Gratehouse trashes the idea that Kasich is a nice moderate.

... my Twitter feed was teeming with liberal Kasich love when he won Ohio on Thursday. I think there are two things going on here:

  1. Liberals buying into Kasich’s “nice and reasonable” narrative out of ignorance and judging him to be the least egregious of the choices on the GOP side. Okay, but that’s not saying much, is it? And if Kasich manages to muscle his way to the nomination at the RNC convention this summer he’ll have a better chance of winning over either of the Dem candidates than Trump or Cruz. Stop helping him!
  2. Liberals who just hate Hillary Clinton irrationally and are mad that the odds of Bernie Sanders capturing the nomination have become vanishingly slim. They’ve convinced themselves of the absurdity of Clinton being more ideologically similar to Kasich than to Sanders and, in some cases, that Kasich would even be better than Clinton. If you are in that camp, do a little thought exercise here: Swap Hillary Clinton out with Joe Biden, who is practically her doppelganger on votes and positions (Iraq invasion, banks, etc.). When it’s Joe Biden do you still prefer John Kasich? Didn’t think so.

One of Donna's commenters ("WileyBud") shared a link to Samantha Bee's take-down of Kasich in which she provides evidence from public media showing that Kasich is not in any way a "moderate." Check out Samantha's video clip and then #KancelKasich. And while you are at it, #CancelCruz.

Donald's D's: Deride, Dump, and more

Fitz Derides Trump. It's a fun piece in this morning's Daily Star.

Gail Collins brings us up-to-date on Republican efforts to Dump Trump. The thing is they need an alternative candidate. And that might be?

You can discover your own set of Donald's D's using this word list.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Donald "Old Beach Apple" Trump. America has seen this before.

Here is an interesting look at the Trump candidacy and what might happen in 2020 (from Politico.com).

America has never seen a presidential candidate like this before. Detractors point to his lack of political experience, his poor grasp of policy, his alleged autocratic leanings and his shady past. They believe this man without much of a political platform (but with interesting hair) has neither the qualifications nor the temperament to be president. Yet in defiance of conventional wisdom, he is leading his three main rivals in the race for the White House, and party bigwigs are at a loss how to respond. No, it’s not Donald Trump. His name is Andrew Jackson, and the year is 1824

[Big snip. _Read the history in the Politico article._]

The 1824 election has been called “a political turning point in which none of the old rules applied.” According to historian Timothy Naftali, “the shift that occurs … is that the American people don’t want their representatives to choose presidents anymore. They want to choose presidents themselves.” For GOP insiders, it’s worth remembering this. Whatever you think of Trump’s politics or his temperament, like Jackson, the candidate has energized a significant section of the electorate. As he said in Thursday Republican debate, “Millions and millions of people are going out to the polls and they’re voting. … Some of these people, frankly, have never voted before.” The facts appear to bear this out with combined turnout at the Republican primaries higher than any year since 1980.

If the lessons of 1824 are to apply today, denying Trump the nomination if he remains the front-runner will likely make his supporters angrier and more determined. It might even position Trump as the leader of an even broader coalition of America’s disaffected and marginalized, as it did for Jackson—propelling him to the nomination or even the White House four years from now.

Remember. from my earlier post, what it takes to activate Authoritarian tendencies.

Research on the authoritarian personality suggests a new alignment in American politics. The more the Establishment leans on Trump, the more alienated and defensive his Authoritarian supporters become. Similarly, the more the Democratic candidates advocate for social change and a restrained military, the more threatened the Authoritarians become. The irony here is that both the Republican Establishment and the Democrats are sources of external threat which activates Authoritarian tendencies. Usually external threat tends to draw people together and reduce intra-group differences. But in this case the threat comes from within the Republican party, a party that increasingly seems fatally divided.

If we don't get Trump in 2016 there is some chance that we will get him or a clone in 2020.

On nicknames

About Old Hickory (from Wiki):

Jackson's service in the War of 1812 against the United Kingdom was conspicuous for bravery and success. When British forces threatened New Orleans, Jackson took command of the defenses, including militia from several western states and territories. He was a strict officer but was popular with his troops. They said he was "tough as old hickory" wood on the battlefield, and he acquired the nickname of "Old Hickory."

About Old Beach Apple (from Wiki):

So why did I coin the nickname "Old Beach Apple"? that's the colloquial name for the most poisonous tree on the planet, the manchineel (Hippomane mancinella) or, in Spanish, "manzanilla de la muerte (little apple of death)."

The name "manchineel" (sometimes written "manchioneel") as well as the specific epithet mancinella is from Spanish manzanilla ("little apple"), from the superficial resemblance of its fruit and leaves to those of an apple tree. A present-day Spanish name is in fact manzanilla de la muerte, "little apple of death". This refers to the fact that manchineel is one of the most poisonous trees in the world. Manchineel is also known as the beach apple.

Old Hickory historically connotes toughness and "bravery and success." Old Beach Apple connotes none of these things. Rather, Old Beach Apple is synonymous with virulent poison which is what Trump and Authoritarianism is to America.

Trump predicts riots. It can happen here!

Trump does seem unstoppable. My sense (only that, and it may be wrong) is that Republican opposition is wavering. He's already on the attack against Hillary Clinton. He condones violence at his rallies and predict riots should the Republican National Convention pick someone other than him. Amy Goodman, writing at CommonDreams.org reminds us of the parallels between American now and Germany in the 20s and 30s.

“When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross,” goes a saying that is widely attributed to the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, Sinclair Lewis. In 1935, Lewis wrote a novel called “It Can’t Happen Here,” positing fascism’s rise in the United States. We were taught that fascism was defeated in 1945, with the surrender of Germany and Japan in World War II. Yet the long shadows of that dark era are falling on the presidential campaign trail this year, with eruptions of violence, oaths of loyalty complete with Nazi salutes and, presiding over it all, Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

[snip]

“Donald Trump shows a rather alarming willingness to use fascist themes and fascist styles. The response this gets, the positive response, is alarming,” said Robert Paxton on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. Considered the father of fascism studies, he is professor emeritus of social science at Columbia University.

Paxton gave a short history of the rise of fascism in Germany: “In the election of 1924, [Hitler] did very poorly, for a marginal party. Then you have the Depression in 1929 and 1930. ... There’s this huge economic crisis with tens of millions unemployed, and there’s also a governmental deadlock. You cannot get any legislation passed.” Paxton continued, “The German Weimar Republic really ceased to function as a republic in 1930, because nothing could be passed. ... So, between 1930 and 1933, President von Hindenburg ruled by decree. And the political elites are desperate to get out of that situation. And here’s Hitler, who has more votes by this time than anybody else. He’s up to 37 percent. He never gets a majority, but he’s up to 37 percent. And they want to bring that into their tent and get a solid mass backing. And so ... they bring him in.”

The partnership that the German elites forged with Hitler and his Nazi Party didn’t work out quite the way they hoped. He took power by subterfuge and by force, arrested and killed his opponents, and plunged Europe into the deadliest war in human history.

Donald Trump is fanning the flames of bigotry and racism. He is exploiting the fears of masses of white, working-class voters who have seen their economic prospects disappear. Should the Republican nominating process end in a contested convention this summer in Cleveland, Trump told CNN Wednesday morning, “I think you’d have riots. I’m representing ... many, many millions of people.”

Note that Trump does not condone riots - but his statement seems accepting of them. And now that the idea has been planted we should get set for a long hot summer and continuing unrest thereafter.

I emphasize another parallel in the making. Hitler partnered with the industrial powers and German elites. AP reporters Julie Pace and Steven Peoples tell us the American Republican elites still do not have a credible alternative and the groups funding anti-Trump ads are backing off. Here are snippets from the reprint in yesterday morning's Daily Star.

Despite the deep concerns about Trump within the Republican Party, there was little tangible action Wednesday that indicated a way to stop the real estate mogul's march toward the general election.

There was no rush among party leaders or donors to coalesce around Ted Cruz, the only candidate in the race with even a long-shot chance of overtaking Trump in the delegate count. A small group of conservatives moved forward with plans to meet Thursday to discuss the prospect of rallying behind a third-party option, but no candidate had been identified to lead that effort.

... During a round of calls to morning television shows, [Trump] said some of the same Republican senators who publicly criticize him have called him privately to say they want to "become involved" in his campaign eventually. He also picked up an endorsement Wednesday from Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

The three best-financed efforts to stop Trump abruptly ceased advertising after Tuesday's elections. The outside groups American Future Fund, Our Principles and Club for Growth have no Trump attack ads planned for Arizona - a crucial winner-take-all contest in six days - or in any states beyond.

Do you now see why I have the "sense" that Republicans are caving and positioning themselves to line up behind Trump?

Did Ted Cruz win an award for least likable candidate?

Nope. Not as far as I know. But Samantha Bee tells us why he should. Here's a link to her video clip.

h/t Sherri Moreau

The Borowitz Report: Obama Plans to Take Nuclear Launch Codes With Him When He Leaves Office

Sleep well tonight.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—President Obama is planning to take the nation’s nuclear launch codes with him when he leaves office, in January of 2017, the President announced in a nationally televised address on Thursday.

The President was quick to acknowledge that his decision to hold on to the launch codes was unorthodox, but said that he was doing it “to reassure the American people.”

“In recent weeks, there has been a rising level of alarm about who might have access to these codes going forward,” Obama said. “As a result, it occurred to me that the safest thing would be if I just held on to them for the foreseeable future.”

[snip - Andy ends with a report on Obama's visual.]

At the conclusion of his address, Obama held up the nuclear “football,” the briefcase containing the nation’s nuclear codes, to display it for the national television audience.

“You can all sleep well at night,” he said. “I got this.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Scriber on vacation

Mr. and Mrs. Scriber are showing our guests the wonders of Southern Arizona, like the Pyrroluxia (aka Pyrrhuloxia) we spotted on our neighbor's feeder and the White-breasted nuthatch (Madera canyon) and Vermillion Flycatcher (Santa Cruz River and Quail Creek Clubhouse).

Scriber will return to blogging in a day or two. In the meantime, here are two announcements.