Saturday, November 28, 2015

Other Countries Aren't Waiting For Trumpf To Start A Fascist Resurgence-- Take Poland


Some people never learn-- not a Trumpf rally though

Before 1918 Poland hadn't existed as a country since a series of partitions from 1764-1795 left it divided up between the Russian Empire, the Prussian Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After World War I, which saw the dissolution of the 3 empires, Poland emerged as a weak, chaotic democracy that lasted until warlord Józef Piłsudski seized power in 1926. Democracy never really caught on and Poland, pretty much a basket case, and it was partitioned again in 1939 by Nazi German and Soviet Russia. The Soviets eventually defeated Germany and took over all of Poland in 1945, setting up a puppet government which lasted until 1990, when Lech Wałęsa was elected president. He was defeated for reelection in 1995 and the country's politics have been chaotic ever since, with a very right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS) in and out of power in extremely low turn-out elections. The opposition parties are primarily right-wing parties as well, just not as right-wing.

Just over a week ago, PiS, further right and more authoritarian than ever, was voted back into power over a center-right party, winning an outright majority in the lower House of Parliament. These were the results:
Law and Justice (PiS)- 5,711,687 (37.58%) 235 seats (far right)
Civic Platform (PO)- 3,661,474 (24.09%) 138 seats (center-right)
Kukiz'15- 1,339,094 (8.81%)- 42 seats (right-wing)
.Modern (.N)- 1,155,370 (7.60%)- 28 seats (centrist)
United Left (ZL)- 1,147,102 (7.55)- 0 seats (center left)
Polish People's Party (PSL)- 779,875 (5.13%) 16 seats (center-right)
And PiS has wasted no time in a virtual coup d'état against the Polish constitution. Try to follow the names; there are some especially bad characters here:
Beata Szydlo, prime minister of Poland since November 16, set the precedent for defied expectations with her choice of cabinet members.

As defense minister she appointed Antoni Macierewicz, who shares his hardline stance towards Moscow with the chief of the ruling Party for Law and Justice (PiS) Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Macierewicz eagerly spreads conspiracy theories about the plane crash in the Russian city of Smolensk five years ago that killed former President (and Jaroslaw's twin) Lech Kaczynski as well as a number of other high-ranking dignitaries. Worried he would scare away moderate conservative voters, Syzdlo promised in her campaign that Macierewicz would not take part in her government. And now he is in office.

Then there is the new secret service coordinator, Mariusz Kaminski. Former head of Poland's Central Anti-Corruption Bureau, Kaminski was convicted for abuse of office in March with a three-year prison sentence - barring him as well from public office. Kaminski has since appealed the ruling. In any case, the new prime minister was not bothered and has brought him into the government too. Immediately thereafter the president issued him a pardon.

Critics fear that the head of state's unprecedented move will prompt other officials to support the party so they too may secure legal impunity.

The move itself was illegal, believes Piotr Kladoczny of the Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights in Warsaw. "The president can pardon a conviction, but not the defendant himself," Kladoczny said.

In the meantime, judges from the court of appeals in Warsaw have spoken up. A council released a statement decrying the use of the justice system as a political instrument. Recalling the constitution's division of powers, it wrote: "The judiciary and the executive should not compete with each other and the president cannot release the courts of their constitutional duties."

But the decision of what is just and what is unjust will rest in new hands.

Only a few days after the swearing-in of the new Sejm-- the lower house of the Polish parliament-- the ruling PiS party pushed through both houses of parliament an amendment that would vindicate the president's legal maneuvering. Representatives and senators of the PiS voted in an nighttime session to appoint replacements for five recently nominated constitutional judges. With the help of the Kukiz'15 faction they gathered the necessary two-thirds majority to get their way. There was no hearing for constitutional judges. Amendment proposals were rejected. The opposition spoke of a shameful coup against the constitutional court and walked out before the vote in protest.

"It is very unnerving how the new leaders are moving forward, Kladoczny said. "It now looks like they want subordinate the constitutional court. That would be lethal," as the highest court is "the last reserve of jurisdiction."

Now the PiS has set its eyes on the media.

Shortly before a Breslau theater was set to premier its staging of Austrian playwright Elfriede Jelinek's "Der Tod und Das Mädchen," newly installed Culture Minister Piotr Glinski urged the performance to be called off amid talk that pornographic scenes would occur on stage. "Government money for culture will not be spent on pornography," he said.

When a television moderator from the channel TVP asked about the legal basis of his threat, Glinski dodged the question before offering threatening TVP in turn: "This program is propaganda, just like the propaganda and manipulation that your channel has been pushing for years," he said. "That will end soon. Public television is not allowed to function like that."

The journalist was pulled as the program's moderator and the culture minister soon announced that reform for rules governing the media were already in their "final phase." It is so far known that state television and radio channels, as well as the Polish press agency PAP, will be cast as "national cultural institutions." Their current boards will be swiftly replaced with people who in turn could be dismissed at any time.
Szydlo immediately rejected EU quotas for Syrian refugees and almost Trumpf-style (though not as drastic and extreme) is refusing the allow them into Poland. Surprise? No, of course not.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Is TPP Already Emboldening Outrageous Corporate Behavior And Encouraging Them To Trample On Accepted Community Standards?


This was a comment posted by Roua Naboulsi right after the attacks in Paris. Read it first and then let's think about why Facebook removed it... and then restored it.

What happened in Paris last night was awful. I stayed up late following the news in disbelief and I am so sorry to anyone who has been affected by these horrible attacks. The international community has responded, as predicted, by showing their unwavering solidarity with Paris.

The night before that, a bomb went off in my country, Lebanon, killing 43 people. No one prayed for us. No one kept us in their thoughts. No world leaders made late-night statements about us. No one changed their profile pictures. There was no hashtag. No option to be "marked as safe" by Facebook. Just silence.

Syria has suffered more than can be quantified in words and distilled into a Facebook status. They get nothing. Just more silence.

73 Palestinians were killed by Israel in October alone. Silence.

Nearly 100 people were killed by explosions at a peace rally in Ankara last month. Just silence.

At least 3,500 people have been killed in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger in conflict this year. Silence.

I'm not even angry at this point, just tired. Exhausted. Exhausted that an assault on an open air prison like Gaza which leaves 2300 people dead gets little to no attention but the minute something happens in Europe, something happens to white people, everyone is so (I think quite genuinely) broken up about it.  I'm not saying don't be. I'm not saying that the people who lost their lives last night do not deserve to be mourned because of course they do.

They were innocent and now they are dead. As an Arab, we know better than anyone how it hurts and we should all continue to keep them in our thoughts.  But what about us? Don't we deserve to be mourned? Are we not human enough?  Are we too Arab for you? Too black for you? Too Other for you? Do you find it impossible to empathise with us because of the colour of our skin?

There's a word for that.

And then, after all of this, after all is said and done. After it hits us, just how little we matter. Just how insignificant and inferior we are as human beings. That's when the best part comes. My favourite part.

Apologise. We are told to apologise. It is demanded of us. WE need to apologise for the actions of barbarians who have been doing their worst to us for so long now. We are the victims. What you experience at the hands of these extremists is a fraction of what Syria experiences. Of what Lebanon experiences. We put up with it every single day. And now, in some kind of sick, twisted joke, we are asked to apologise. We are to be held accountable. The main victims and refugees of this tragedy must pay. As if we have not yet paid enough in blood and land and dignity.

Sorry. We're sorry that you have occupied our lands, pillaged them, divvied them up between you like gold. We're sorry that you've robbed us of our wealth, dignity and freedom. We're sorry that you've left nothing in your wake except rubble and anger. We're sorry that those disillusioned and disenfranchised people you left in your wake hurtle into extremism. We're sorry that you benefit from their barbarity. We're sorry that you allow them to do these things to us, that you encourage them and provide them with the resources they need to do us harm. We're sorry they turn against you in the end. We're sorry they came back for you. We're sorry.

We hope you can find it in you to forgive us.
RT-- Russian Today, a Russian government-funded television network-- wondered why this statement by 21 year old University of Sussex student Roua Naboulsi had been taken down by Facebook... and then saw Facebook, citing "human error," put it back up again after RT contacted them and asked why. Naboulsi had put it up on Saturday morning, condemning the violence in France, while also lamenting the lack of international attention given to the suicide bombing in Beirut the day before and there were 9,000 "shares" and 12,000 "likes" before Facebook took it on itself to remove it Monday afternoon for not meeting their "Community Standards."

Is it possible that Facebook's "Community Standards" were offended that Naboulsi included the Syrian civil war, the occupation of Palestine and Gaza, the disregard for human life and suffering in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger and the hundred deaths in Ankara a few weeks earlier, all of which were routinely ignored by western mass media? Naboulsi dared to challenge western readers to question why the world is seemingly cold to the suffering of Middle Eastern and African people. Maybe Facebook didn't like that?
“But what about us? Don’t we deserve to be mourned? Are we not human enough? Are we too Arab for you? Too black for you? Too Other for you? Do you find it impossible to empathize with us because of the color of our skin? There’s a word for that,” she said.

Despite receiving thousands of likes and shares, the post was suddenly removed by Facebook on Monday afternoon after a user reported it to the site.

When RT contacted Facebook for comment on Tuesday, a spokesperson said it would investigate the incident. Hours later the post was republished.

Facebook told RT it doesn’t comment on individual cases, but said the post was deemed to have breached its Community Standards in error.

The company said its staff check more than one million reported posts each week and occasionally make mistakes.

Speaking to RT, Naboulsi said she was disappointed the post had been removed in the first place.

“I’m quite disappointed that Facebook both removed and republished the post without communicating with me at all.

“More importantly, their community guidelines were pretty straightforward and clear when I read through them so I don’t see how a moderator could have mistakenly concluded that I was in breach of them.

“It seems to me that if I had stayed quiet about this nothing would have happened. Honestly, the whole situation just feels to me like they realized they couldn’t get away with it and so they republished my post. I just can’t know for sure what exactly happened but I’m glad it's back up of course,” she added.

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Much Of The GOP Base Doesn't Mind Trumpf's Lies-- They Revel In Them


In my neighborhood there aren't many election campaign signs on peoples' lawns yet-- half a dozen for Bernie scattered around. One weirdo put up a Hillary sign up the block but only for one day. I don't know if she was embarrassed and took it down herself or if someone ripped it down-- although this isn't that kind of neighborhood. But what happens if some reclusive old bigot-- and I suspect someone up the hill of being that guy-- puts up a Trumpf sign? What happens then? Is Trumpf so beyond the pale with normal people-- we don't have Republicans here-- that even a campaign sign wouldn't be tolerated in such a tolerant area? I mean, Los Feliz isn't exactly Trumpf territory... and nothing like Colorado Springs or Birmingham, Alabama.

As Matt Taibbi reminds us in the new Rolling Stone, Al Gore never even said he invented the internet, but a vicious and partisan media was able to pin that on him and forever brand him a liar. The actual lie-- that he said it-- has "followed him around like as STD for the rest of his (largely unsuccessful) political life." Now media has to figure out how to deal with a bunch of bona fide pathological liars running with an utter disregard-- or, in Trump's case, disdain-- for the truth. And the media is incapable of doing anything about it. Republican primary voters are so filled with anger and hatred and frustration about anything and everything "establishment," that they seem to delight in Trump's defiant lies. And the rest of GOP field has caught on. It's open season on The Truth.
Politicians are quickly learning that they can say just about anything and get away with it. Along with vindication, apology and suffering, there now exists a fourth way forward for the politician spewing whoppers: Blame the backlash on media bias and walk away a hero.

This season has seen an explosion of such episodes. Carly Fiorina, in a nationally televised debate, claimed to have watched a nonexistent video of evil feminists harvesting fetal brains. Ben Carson has been through a half-dozen factual dustups, including furious debates over whether or not he stabbed someone and whether or not he once won $10 for being the only honest student in an (apparently nonexistent) Yale psychology class.

Trump, meanwhile, has been through more of these beefs than one can count, even twice blabbing obvious whoppers in live televised debates. Once he claimed the Trans-Pacific Partnership was designed to help China, moving Rand Paul to point out that China isn't in the TPP. Another time he denied that he once called Marco Rubio "Mark Zuckerberg's personal senator." The line was on Trump's website as he spoke.

In all of these cases, the candidates doubled or tripled down when pestered by reporters and fact-checkers and insisted they'd been victimized by biased media. A great example of how candidates have handled this stuff involved Fiorina.

The former HP chief keeps using a roundly debunked line originally dug up by the Romney campaign, about how 92 percent of the jobs lost under Obama belonged to women. The Romney campaign itself ditched the line because it was wrong even in 2012. When confronted this year, Fiorina simply said, "If the liberal media doesn't like the data, maybe the liberal media doesn't like the facts."

This latest episode with Trump and the 9/11 "celebrations" was fascinating. When Trump started to take heat, he at first did something one journalist I know calls "panic-Googling." Panic-Googling is saying or writing something dumb, then frantically rushing to the Internet to see if you can luck out into evidence for what you've already blabbed in public.

Trump thought he lucked out, digging up a September 18, 2001, Washington Post article by reporters Serge Kovaleski and Frederick Kunkle. The old clip claimed a few people had been detained after allegedly being spotted celebrating in "tailgate-style" parties on rooftops in northern New Jersey.

Seizing upon this factoid, Trump tweeted, "I want an apology! Many people have tweeted that I am right!"

Forgetting that this didn't come close to being an affirmation that he'd seen "thousands" of people celebrating on television, Trump's supporters howled in outrage. Who were these biased witch-hunters to accuse him of lying? The Donald was right all along!

Other supporters referenced an article by Debbie Schlussel, Detroit's schlocky Ann Coulter knockoff, who long ago insisted in print that she once watched an MTV news report describing post-9/11 celebrations by Arabs in Paterson, New Jersey. It wasn't Jersey City, Schlussel said, and Trump got the numbers wrong, but aside from those minor issues, he was dead right.

Next in the progression came Rush Limbaugh, who came to Trump's defense by saying that "regardless of the specific details," Trump was right about Muslims on American soil celebrating the collapse of the towers on 9/11. "The bottom line is that a lot of Americans are well aware that Muslims were cheering," Rush said. "Maybe not in New Jersey in great numbers, but around the world they were because we saw the video."

As if the "regardless of the specific details" excuse wasn't weird enough, Trump spokesman Corey Lewandowski next went on Breitbart radio to explain that the campaign had in fact provided material about celebrating Muslims to mainstream news outlets, who were now collectively declining to run it because of an ongoing conspiracy against Trump.

"They want to try and discredit as many people as possible so they can have an establishment candidate come in," he said. "Because they are all controlled by special interests and all controlled by the media."

This is a horrible thing to have to say about one's own country, but this story makes it official. America is now too dumb for TV news.

It's our fault. We in the media have spent decades turning the news into a consumer business that's basically indistinguishable from selling cheeseburgers or video games. You want bigger margins, you just cram the product full of more fat and sugar and violence and wait for your obese, over-stimulated customer to come waddling forth.

The old Edward R. Murrow, eat-your-broccoli version of the news was banished long ago. Once such whiny purists were driven from editorial posts and the ad people over the last four or five decades got invited in, things changed. Then it was nothing but murders, bombs, and panda births, delivered to thickening couch potatoes in ever briefer blasts of forty, thirty, twenty seconds.

What we call right-wing and liberal media in this country are really just two different strategies of the same kind of nihilistic lizard-brain sensationalism. The ideal CNN story is a baby down a well, while the ideal Fox story is probably a baby thrown down a well by a Muslim terrorist or an ACORN activist. Both companies offer the same service, it's just that the Fox version is a little kinkier.

When you make the news into this kind of consumer business, pretty soon audiences lose the ability to distinguish between what they think they're doing, informing themselves, and what they're actually doing, shopping.

And who shops for products he or she doesn't want? That's why the consumer news business was always destined to hit this kind of impasse. You can get by for a long time by carefully selecting the facts you know your audiences will like, and calling that news. But eventually there will be a truth that displeases your customers. What do you do then?

In this case, as Rush said, "Americans are well aware Muslims were cheering" after 9/11. Because America "knows" this, it now expects the news media to deliver that story. And if reporters refuse, it can only be out of bias.
I get that so many of the GOP primary voters are just so angry and damaged that they are supporting Trumpf as a way of "getting back at the system." Filled with hatred, bigotry, frustration, anomie, unfocussed aggressiveness, pitiful hopelessness... they don't care how badly they hurt themselves and their own families as long as the hurt "the man," especially the black man. Arguments about how many fewer people are uninsured now or how much the unemployment rate has dropped since Obama became president doesn't matter at all-- unless to make them even angrier that someone else appears to be doing well. And to tell them that Obama is going to push for regulations to protect ordinary American families in his last year just makes the pot boil over. These are people for whom the world has moved too fast and left them behind. It's part of what self-identifying as a Republican-- albeit a Republican who loathes the Republican establishment-- means.

In The Atlantic yesterday, Molly Ball, covering Trumpf, wrote that "as the public’s fear and loathing surge, the frontrunner’s durable candidacy has taken a dark turn." His fans, she writes, are "rapturous," their anger and fear intensifying. One old white guy tells her, "The fact is, politicians have not done anything for our country in a lot of years... Like he says, people have got to abide by the law. And unfortunately, a lot of minorities don’t" and he's wearing a button that says "TRUMP 2016: FINALLY SOMEONE WITH BALLS." Someone else is waving a giant homemade sign that says "TRUMP: FOR THE VOICE OF THE AMERICAN WORKING CLASS CITIZENS."
I hear, over and over again, that illegal immigration is the biggest problem we face. Almost everyone says their second-choice candidate is Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas; many express a wish that he and Trump would run on the same ticket.

...The people wave and make faces at the press as they go by. One gray-haired lady in a sweatshirt keeps pointing at her butt and sticking out her tongue at us as she ambles by. She has a savage look on her face.

This is the thing Trump knows: You can stand around fretting about truth and propriety and the danger of pandering to baser instincts.

Or you can give the people what they want.
A normal person reads or hears that "President Obama is moving to complete scores of regulations as he looks to cement key parts of his legacy in the face of a Republican-controlled Congress openly hostile to many of his top priorities" is optimistic that something good might come of it. These Trumpf-Republicans hear it and it further infuriates them. That "the White House quietly released its formal rulemaking schedule late last week, revealing the administration’s latest plans for regulations currently in the works at agencies across the federal government," drives them even more insane. And that "the fall Unified Agenda suggests Obama has no intentions of slowing down the process during his final year in office" is like waving a red banner in front of a bull who's been worked over by the picadores. Time is running out for Obama to put in place environmental, financial, health and safety regulations-- one everything from food safety (like a rule requiring importers to verify that foreign suppliers are meeting U.S. safety standards), drones, electronic cigarettes and workers’ exposure to silica dust to the rules Wall Street is spending millions of dollars in campaign bribes (called "contributions") to prevent, like the ones that will force companies to compare top executive pay with overall company performance and a rule requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their hedging policies. This is all good stuff for ordinary Americans. But the Trumpfites want nothing to do with it. Regulations-- even regulations that help them and their families-- just further infuriate and inflame them. And their revenge is Trumpf. As for Politifact and their "Pants on Fire" decisions... well just look who has nearly all of them and see how that computes with the Republican polls.

And, yes, Ted Cruz's neo-fascist campaign has already cut this up into an ad that he's using to lure the sheeple-- or at least prepare them for the eventual and inevitable slaughter:

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The Spirit Moves Me: My 2015 Holiday Gift Suggestions


Including Fantasy Gift Ideas For Republicans!
By Noah

The ads! The ads! These retailers! It’s worse than the political ads!

Then, there’s the usual endless local news coverage of the pillaging, people camping out in the cold just to be the first in the store. The Visigoths were better behaved.

I’m already so sick of hearing “It’s that most wonderful time of the year”. I’m so sick of Kay Jewelers ads. "Every 'kiss' begins with Kay?" I’m so sick of hearing the word 'door-buster' and terms like Black Friday and Giving Tuesday, and all the rest. Mayhem Monday is only a matter of time, except that that’s what the whole "shopping season" has become.

If you ask me, I’m into Fuck You Thursday followed by Fuck You Friday followed by Fuck You Saturday. You get the drift, and, well, if you don’t… I’m getting in a great mood for the holidays. I long for a long ago time when there were just 12 days of Christmas. Now, it’s 55. It starts with the boom of the last cherry bomb in a pumpkin on Halloween, even sooner on TV shopping channels.

It ain’t just a War On Christmas for me. It’s becoming a lifestyle! Fuck you Bill O’Reilly, and that one goes for every day of the year until the end of time and after the next big bang starts it all over again.

So, without further ado, I cheerfully present my 2015 gift ideas.

1. The Menorasaurus- Since Hanukkah comes before Christmas, let’s start with a very unique line of menorahs made by TheVanillaStudio in Portland, ME. Shown is the T-Rex version. It also comes in a more placid Brontosaurus version, which would suit any of your vegetarian friends or relatives. It also comes in Triceratops and other dino models. If you want something more modern, you may go for the Hippo or Elephant version. There’s even a turtle version, but, for me, it’ll have to be the T-Rex. It’s just that I’m a T-Rex kind of guy. However, there was definitely a time when the next item on my list would have been my first choice.

2. The Grav Menorah-

You like your holidays high? If so, this one’s for you. GRAV makes scientific glassware. You know, beakers and such, those things you played with in high school chemistry and teabaggers use to cook the meth they’re obviously smoking.

Fortunately for stoners, GRAV also makes a beautiful Bong Menorah. That’s right. It’s a working bong and a menorah! What will they think of next? For a demonstration, see the clip. Weed not included.

Also, the thing costs $700, so, you might want to consider that, after you by it, you might not have any money left for weed! I guess you’ll just have to stick with using old cardboard paper towel or toilet paper rolls with aluminum foil. Whatever works. I always loved to put weed into spaghetti sauce. It gets stronger by the day by the way.

Please note that it’s already too late to get your menorah for this holiday season. Both the Menorasaurus and the GRAV Bong Menorah are made to order. That takes time. But, if you’re a stoner, you’ve got time, lots of time.

3. Jingle Bells Shotgun Shells Christmas Lights- Getting ready to decorate your Christmas tree? Then, may I suggest these nifty red and green lights that look just like real shotgun shells! I’ll assume that they are NRA-approved. However, maybe not, since they can’t kill anybody.

Warning: Santa’s Reindeer may not want to land on your roof if they know you have anything that even looks like shotgun shells.

4. The Beer Belt/The Beer Bandolier- This one is real extra dumb, for more than one reason. It comes as both a belt and a bandolier style double beer can holster. They even come in camo-patterned fabric. The seller even says they’re great for hunting trips (oh boy drinks and huntin’. What could go wrong?) and make "a great gift for any beer lover or alcoholic in your life," but, I’d like to suggest that you could also buy one for that special someone you’d like to get rid of. In these edgy times, it doesn’t take much imagination to think what a nervous cop might do if he saw someone wearing one of these on a crowded downtown street or getting out of a car at the local mall or sports arena. The bandolier model, especially, just screams suicide bomber.

5. The Drone Disabler-

The real name of this fabulous product is the Drone Defender but I prefer to call it by what it actually does. This thing shoots down drones with some sort of electronic pulse or beam. Fantastic! I want one!

This is a product whose time has come. On one recent afternoon, I was waiting to cross the street at 62nd and 1st Avenue in New York when I looked up and saw a drone hovering above the intersection. To me, that was all too ridiculous being as there are already 2 or 3 cameras that catch everything that goes on in the immediate area. What was even more ridiculous to me was that no one but me even noticed that there was a drone watching our every move. People are just so unobservant. I guess I was the only one looking up, and there it was. It’s funny, so many people say they see UFOs all the time, but no one notices a drone? Maybe they won’t care until a drone that can provide an anal probe arrives. I don’t know.

As I see it, the thing that gives the Drone Disabler so much sales potential is that it looks like a gun, and Americans love guns! If this drone thing keeps up, I can see a world where the streets and yards of America are littered with drone pieces everywhere. Of course, some drones can fire back, so beware. Hmmm. Isn’t this how Terminator started?

But wait, there’s more!

Finally, I’ve been thinking about some gifts that aren’t readily available, although you could make them yourself for that special Republican you know who "thinks" that the Three Wise Men rode on the backs of dinosaurs to see the baby Jesus.

I’m thinking these ideas would be the kind of thing most Republicans would like to find under the tree.
• A DVD box set of Classic Police Shootings Of African-Americans- This would be perfect for that crazy old uncle on your list who always thought police wielding fire hoses just wasn’t enough.

• Ben Carson’s Pantry Pyramids™- Now you can store your grains properly! Feed the multitudes!

• A Voodoo Doll dressed in a Burka Gives hours of playtime satisfaction to wackjobs who watch FOX all day.

• A backyard stand-up barbecue in the shape of a cross- Gas-powered, of course.
If you’d rather not go to the trouble of making any of the above, I suppose you could wait and see if we end up with a President Cruz or President Trumpf. How’s that sound? If that happens, we’re bound to see any of the four above ideas for sale on a new FOX News shopping channel. Buy two of the three and they’ll give you a 50% discount on a home-fracking kit.

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Marco Rubio-- A Drastically Overrated And Unprepared Young Fogey


Elderly Republican establishment types thought Rubio could save them from the Trumpf-Cruz onslaught because... he has a Hispanic name? He got a weave to cover up his bald spot? Because they believe the Koch brothers can buy off Hispanic voters for him? He's got what it takes to capture the youth vote? Rubio has always appeared to me to be a mean, crusty old man trapped in a younger man's body. Spanish-language media caught on sooner than mainstream media has and routinely refers to him as "un joven viejo (a young fogey). It takes around a minute and a half of going through his positions on issues to realize he's not capturing any of the youth vote besides some poor schlubbs whose parents made them go through home-schooling-- and that segment of the vote is being contested by Cruz, Santorum, Huckabee, Dr. Ben and even Trumpy as well.

I mean millennials seem to care a lot about Climate Change, right? That's not exactly a Rubio strong suit. In fact, Climate Scientists, asked to grade all the Republican candidates on Climate Science gave Rubio a really low F. They all got F's but Rubio's F was based on being wrong 79% of the time. Yes, the Republican who's gonna excite the kids scored a 21%-- better than Dr. Ben's 13%, sure but worse than Fiorina (28%), Rand Paul (38%), Kasich (47%), Christie (54%) or the Jebster (64%). How does that hold up against Hillary. She got a 94%.

As for the openness and acceptance that millennials are reputed to represent... not a strong suit for Rubio either. He may look-- to some-- like a reasonable guy, he's another Republican homophobic maniac, filled with the kind of bigotry and prejudice younger voters detest and run away from. In an interview on the hip and happening Pat Robertson Christian Broadcasting Network yesterday, kewl Marco insisted that Supreme Court decisions on women's choice and gay marriage are anything but "settle law." He's ready to keep fighting and contended that red state governments should ignore the Supreme Court when they believe their rulings go against, what he called "God’s rules."
We are clearly called, in the Bible, to adhere to our civil authorities, but that conflicts with also a requirement to adhere to God’s rules. When those two come in conflict, God’s rules always win. In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin, violate God’s law and sin; if we’re ordered to stop preaching the gospel; if we’re ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it, we are called to ignore that. We cannot abide by that because government is compelling us to sin... If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you’re called on to participate in that process to try to change it-- not ignoring it, but trying to change the law. And that’s what we’re endeavoring to do here. I continue to believe that marriage law should be between one man and one woman.
I suppose what he's saying there is something like, "elect me and I'll pick Supreme Court judges who will turn back the clock and outlaw marriage equality and women's choice-- no exceptions for anything. Who knows what other reactionary policies he would use as part of his litmus test.

Policy aside, Rubio still wants non-evangelical supporters-- like gay-friendly billionaire hedge fund predator Paul Singer maybe?-- that he's fine with the gays. Even though Rubio hired crazy homo-hater Eric Teetsel as his director of faith outreach to pacify Iowa evangelicals who worry that Rubio is too beholden to Singer, he knows he can just Teetsel after the primary.
It all highlights just how politically dicey the marriage issue can be for Republicans. Same-sex marriage is supported by a majority of Americans and a growing number of Republicans, particularly younger ones. But it’s still very unpopular among white evangelicals, a major GOP voting bloc that holds a lot of sway in states with early primary contests, such as Iowa and South Carolina.

Singer, a major GOP donor, endorsed Rubio last month. When New York legalized same-sex marriage in 2011, Singer played a pivotal role in the successful effort by meeting with Republican legislators and spending significant sums on advertising to praise the move’s backers.

Just a year later, the billionaire’s future presidential favorite cut an automated phone call for an organization that fought Singer tooth-and-nail in the halls of Albany: the National Organization for Marriage, which is the country’s most energetic and outspoken group fighting same-sex marriage. NOM teamed up with the Floridian to tape robocalls about the importance of opposing marriage equality. The calls went to swing-state voters and voters in states where the issue was on the ballot.

Now Rubio is tap-dancing around the mess by hiring the toxic Teetsel. Last week the New Yorker feature on Rubio was aptly entitled The Opportunist. An alternative title could have been "The GOP's Completely Scripted Candidate." Or phony candidate. He's both. In his self-serving autobiography he admits he was an "inattentive and undisciplined student," which helps account for why he always sounds like an overly ambitious automaton who's memorized whatever he says and is just regurgitating it from memory.
Rubio, who has entered six elections and never lost, is alert to the appearance of overweening ambition. “All my life I’ve been in a hurry to get to my future,” he wrote in his memoir, An American Son, published in 2012, his second year in the Senate. In conversation, he sometimes answers so quickly that his friend Dennis Baxley, a Republican in the Florida House, once gave him a piece of advice. “I said, ‘Marco, don’t change anything you’re saying, but just wait, like, three seconds before you say it, and you’ll look so pensive.’ ” When things go wrong, Rubio’s impatience can suggest a man climbing too fast for his own good. In Washington foreign-policy circles, people remember a moment at the Brookings Institution, in April, 2012, when Rubio was delivering a major foreign-policy speech. Reaching the final page, he discovered that it had been removed accidentally from the lectern. Some politicians might have improvised; Rubio stopped awkwardly, in mid-sentence, and asked for the page to be returned.

...On several issues, Rubio has taken a position that suits the faithful in the primaries but is guaranteed to repel voters in a general election. His most obvious vulnerability is on abortion. In the first Republican debate, Rubio said that his opposition to abortion extends to cases of rape or incest – a position at odds with that of more than three-quarters of Americans. [David] Axelrod told me, “No exceptions is a position so extreme that no Republican candidate has ever held it. Presidential races are defined by moments. Maybe he will try to amend that position, but in the age of video it’s hard to extinguish a declarative statement like that.”

When I asked Rubio about it, he said, somewhat confusingly, “Look, I personally believe that all life is worthy of protection, and therefore I don’t ever require, nor have I ever advocated, that I won’t support a law unless it has exceptions.” After some more twists and turns, I sensed that we had reached the line he plans to use in a general election: “My goal is to save as many lives as possible, and I’ll support anything that does that. Even if it has exceptions.”
People who actually know about foreign policy, also know that Marco Rubio doesn't. As Michael Brendan Dougherty, who does, put it in his Rubio essay for This Week, Rubio is criminally overrated on foreign policy, basically by people who know even less about it that Rubio does. Rubio brags about his purported foreign policy expertise incessantly. Dougherty refers to Rubio's discombobulated and incoherent ideas on foreign policy as "dumber than a brick in a tumble-dryer" as well as "dangerous" and points out that the depth of Rubio's "knowledge"-- even of fundamental basics like the difference between Shiites and Sunnis-- is somewhat akin to an average junior high school kid's.
[G]iven the record of Republican hawks over the last two decades, I wouldn't be surprised if a future Rubio administration ends up [arming Islamic State fighters and providing "devastating air support" to them], through a mixture of hubris, democratizing enthusiasm, and sheer stupidity-- just as the Bush administration cheered on democratic elections that empowered Hamas, and a war that led to a destabilized Iraq where Sunni extremism now flourishes. Bush was not alone: Other GOP hawks cheered on revolutions and civil wars that led not to liberal democracies, but terrorism, extremism, and anarchy.

Rubio has a reputation for foreign policy expertise because he chooses to talk about foreign policy often, promises large budgets to the Pentagon, and mostly pronounces the words correctly. Rubio's foreign policy consists of babyish moralizing, a cultivated ignorance of history, and a deliberate blindness to consequences. This is the same "foreign policy expertise" that led to a misbegotten war in Iraq and empowered Sunni insurgencies across the Middle East.

It will be enormously popular among people who think nothing of wasting money and other people's lives. Or as Rubio may one day call them from the West Wing, "my fellow Americans."


Trumpf Trotting Out The Black Pastors Again


Had Trump announced he was being endorsed by Oregon's Pastor Pete Peters, Florida's Carl Gallups, Missouri's Dan Gayman or any of the other crackpot pastors on the fringes of the far, far right I might have laughed or yawned. But they weren't the religious figures the TV entertainer/American fascist leader has been tweeting about when he claims to have lined up 100 pastors to endorse his presidential run. With Cruz and Dr. Ben sewing up evangelical support in Iowa, Trump, who has cultivated a relationship with right-wing churches over the years but isn't a religious person himself, figured he'd have to do something so he didn't walk away from the Iowa caucuses in February a loser. (He's way up in the Iowa GOP polls right now-- with 30% against Cruz's 21%, Dr. Ben's 19% and Rubio's 11%-- but in a completely silly electorate like Iowa Republicans, anything can happen.)
When he was asked about his faith at an Iowa forum this summer, he referred to Holy Communion as “my little cracker.” Trump later told reporters in South Carolina that he still attends Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan. But the Dutch Reformed Protestant church once led by Norman Vincent Peale released a statement specifying that Trump is not an active member, although his parents were members for many years. Even calling himself a Presbyterian, the religion he was confirmed into as a child in Queens, has confused people who knew of the Trump family’s lengthy relationship with the Dutch Reformed church.

But one man of God says he does not doubt Trump’s commitment to his Christian faith-- Pentecostal Pastor Darrell Scott, a former drug dealer-turned-born-again Christian minister who has become Trump’s impromptu liaison to black ministers across the country.

...Scott stayed in touch with Trump through Michael Cohen, a longtime Trump adviser, and called when Trump announced his presidential run four years later. “As soon as I heard Mr. Trump was running, I called Cohen and said, ‘Let’s get the preachers in a room and saddle up the pony and let’s ride!”

Trump's camp accepted as he continued to step in it whenever religion came up. Favorite Bible verse? Pass. Old Testament or New? Meh. Best book ever? The Bible, followed closely by The Art of the Deal. For a man running to lead a party where evangelicals often decide the winner, Trump’s God-free candidacy was becoming a problem.

...[N]ot all in the black community see Trump as a potential savior or think the pastors should be meeting with him at all. Scott said he's been called an Uncle Tom, a sellout, and much worse since the video of the Trump meeting got out. “It’s funny, but it’s not,” he said. “I’m not trying to persuade black people to vote for Donald Trump. I want black people to make up their own minds, instead of allowing their opinion of him to be determined by hearsay.”

Backlash or not, Trump and the black pastors have another meeting set up for Nov. 30, in Trump Tower to talk about issues in black communities. “But knowing Trump,” Scott said, “It will probably go on longer.”
So... the Art of the Deal author (more or less, the author) offered some sweet deals to a bunch of black pastors and he has an even hundred giving him the thumbs up at 1 pm on Monday. They get to come by Trump Tower to publicly kiss the ring and, presumably pick up their checks. Trump wouldn't do that? Don't forget that he hired actors to play supporters when he made his presidential bid announcement. Presumably the pastors charge more.
The Republican presidential candidate has a private meeting with the group scheduled on Monday before they make their offer of support official, according to his campaign. The endorsement comes as Mr. Trump has faced criticism for stoking racial tension and has seen his support among evangelical Christians start to waver in polls as voters consider Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ben Carson.

That tension was evident this week after an activist for the group Black Lives Matter was beaten at a Trump campaign rally, and the billionaire developer said that perhaps the activist deserved to be roughed up. Mr. Trump also angered some when he sent a Twitter message that appeared to play down the recent spate of incidents of police brutality against African-Americans.

However, Mr. Trump has held several meetings with black religious leaders this year as he looks to broaden his appeal, and it appears that he has closed the deal with some of them.

Darrell Scott, the pastor of the New Spirit Revival Center in Ohio, helped organize the coalition of religious leaders and said that after meeting Mr. Trump in person he was convinced that Mr. Trump was the candidate best suited to be president. He also said that the public portrayals of Mr. Trump as a racist and demagogue seemed unfounded after they spoke.

...Mr. Trump has struggled to connect with some social conservatives because of his flashy lifestyle and the fact that he has held liberal views on some issues. But Mr. Scott said that he found Mr. Trump to be humble before God when they prayed together and that he had confidence in his faith.
Scott, a controversial businessman and registered Democrat who preaches a materialistic version of Christianity, says Trump didn't make "any donations to his congregation." And this isn't the first time Trump had these hustlers come by his NYC digs. 40 of them were there in September.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is using all the means at his disposal to curry favor with the Black community. This time, Trump had a meeting of prominent ministers who proceeded to pray for him. During the prayer, ministers laid hands on Trump, spoke in tongues and asked God for a “strong African American that will stand with him.”

To say that Trump looked uncomfortable surrounded by evangelical and prosperity ministers is a mild understatement. The groups did almost everything but anoint Trump with oil and sing an old-time gospel hymn. Trump has previously made statements about his faith and said that he is Protestant. But Trump also stated he never has asked for God’s forgiveness. “I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so … I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t,” he said.

Trump’s blatant appeal to evangelical Christians held at his skyscraper, Trump Tower, is almost insulting if it was not so funny.  Forty pastors participated in the meeting, including ministers who shared their feelings about Black voters and Trump. “I think Donald Trump changed the opinions of the African American pastors that were in the room. They saw a side of him outside of the media depiction, and that they would give strong consideration in regard to supporting his candidacy,” said Pastor Darrell Scott.

Reportedly in attendance were: Pastor Darrell Scott; Pastor E. Dewey Smith; Bishop Clarence McClendon; Pastor Mark Burns; Bishop Noel Jones; Crystal Smith, CEO Joy105; Prophet Robert Scott; Pastor James Davis; Pastor Demetrius Johnson; and Pastor Lionel Traylor.

UPDATE: Trumpf Caught Lying Again-- Endorsements Not Coming

Trumpf-- lying again! Some of the pastors listed on the Trumpf press release claiming endorsements are of pastors who oppose him and aren't even attending his rally Monday!
Bishop Corletta Vaughn, the Senior Pastor of the Holy Spirit Cathedral of Faith in Detroit, posted a message on Facebook after she said her inbox was “blowing up with inquiries” after her name was included on a list of pastors meeting Trump.

 “Let me be clear,” she wrote. “I was invited to attend a gathering of clergy to listen to Mr. Trump on Monday November 30. I respectively (Sic.) declined as I do not support nor will endorse Donald Trump.”

“I was asked 2 meet with Mr Trump too but I refused because until he learns how to respect people you can’t represent me thru my endorsement,” Bishop Paul Morton, a prominent pastor in Atlanta tweeted on Friday.

...The Trump camp’s own announcement that 100 black ministers will endorse Trump has been greeted in the black faith community with a combination of confusion and anger, particularly after a week in which Trump has mocked a New York Times reporter with a disability, suggested that a black protester who was kicked and punched at a Trump rally in Alabama “deserved it,” and when Trump himself has suggested Muslims be surveilled at certain mosques.

Recent polls show Trump getting between three and 10 percent support from African Americans. Trump has assured his crowds he will win the black vote.

“The 100 pastors they say are endorsing Donald Trump? I don’t know where those 100 are coming from,” said Rev. Jamal Bryant, a prominent AME pastor based in Baltimore. Bryant, who earlier this year ran for Congress as a Democrat, said he had spoken with a number of the pastors attending the Monday meeting who were taken aback by the Trump announcement about the endorsements. “I don’t know what policy these pastors could mobilize around. I can’t find a strand of any policy he has that the larger black community would be respond to.”

Bryant said that he finds Trump’s larger message to minorities to be disturbing and troubling. “It’s a cross between Archie Bunker and reality television,” Bryant said. “It’s frightening and unnerving that the Republicans would be at this point with him as their frontrunner.”
The only pastor actually committed to going to the Trumpfist rally and endorsing is controversial ex-drug addict and big time hustler Darrell Scott, who has a financial relationship with Trumpf. Many pastors listed on Trumpf's poster were put on it without their permission or knowledge and actually oppose Trumpf and everything he stands for.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Something To Be Thankful For... And Who's Still Against Decriminalizing Marijuana?


This has been quite the year for me. Last October I was diagnosed with a rare but treatable form of cancer, Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Lucky for me I found an amazing doctor who's one of the specialists in this disease and she fought it, apparently successfully.While she fought that, I did my best to survive the treatment, treatment that was incredibly intense, in some ways the worst thing I had ever experienced in my life. Chemotherapy is no walk in the park and the "side effects: can be devastating. The cancer is in remission and the effects of the stem cell replacement are wearing off but there are still battles to fight every single day.

One that I had to fight when the chemo was finally finished involved intense pain, inability to eat and inability to sleep. It may not sound like that big a deal... but it was. Sometimes I was up after midnight screaming at the top of my lungs in pain. I lost 45 pounds and couldn't look at myself and feared I would waste away to nothing.

When I was a teenager, marijuana was an integral part of my life. In fact, there were a few years that it had been the focus of my life. But on December 1, 1969, sitting in my VW van in a desolate parking lot in the no-man's-land at the border between India and Pakistan, waiting in a very hot sun for a visa, I underwent what I always considered a miracle. I had tried to stop using drugs and sometimes I would succeed but the desire was always there and eventually I would fall back into it. But on that day almost 46 years ago, it was like a hand reached into me and pulled out the desire for drugs entirely. And, just like that-- BOOM-- I never wanted to use marijuana or any other drug again. Not that I never did it again. I just never cared about it one way or another. Years later when I worked at Warner Bros., Neil Young would want to smoke a joint when he delivered a new album. I'd take a toke and get high and be unable to work for the rest of the day but... what the hell... part of the job, and not an unpleasant part in the least. And Green Day felt that they wanted to experience smoking some pot in the president's office. Fine with me. The point, though, is that I wasn't against pot; it had been an essential part of my teen years and I appreciate what it did for me. But that was in the past and it wasn't part of my life any longer.

Then the chemo side effects. Friends and neighbors told me pot would help. I kept hearing about "medical marijuana," which I always assumed was just a ploy by pot-heads to make some headway towards legalization. But once my doctor told me it might be worth trying to relieve the symptoms, I gave it a shot. I used some marijuana oil on a piece of food. That night I slept for the first time in a long, long time. I woke up the next morning and yelled downstairs to my sister, "I'm starving." It was the first time I wanted to eat in what seemed like forever. The marijuana oil became an integral part of my recovery. If you can't sleep or eat and if you're in agonizing pain... well, you can't heal. The marijuana helped me heal. I became an advocate among other patients and helped several navigate the system of how to get it and where. And when that part of my healing was over... that was that. I'm not any more inclined to using it today than I was a year ago or ten years ago. Zero interest. But not zero interest in the politics around it. Especially now that most Americans favor legalization.

I'm so proud that several Members of Congress I'm in regular communication with understand the benefits and are working towards legalization. This year, one of L.A.'s most stalwart progressives, Ted Lieu, passed an amendment, with huge bipartisan support, partially defunding cannabis eradication operations. He is part of a group of a dozen Members-- besides Lieu, Mark Pocan (D-WI), Mike Honda (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Jan Scakowsky (D-IL), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Earl Blumenthal (D-OR), Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA)-- who have sent a letter to Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, as Speaker and House Democratic Leader, and to the two heads of the Appropriations Committee, chairman Hal Rogers and Ranking Member Nita Lowey, requesting that Lieu's amendment be adopted into the upcoming spending bill that has to be passed by December 11. The amendment takes $9 million from the DEA's Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program and redistributes it to 3 accounts that play a far more useful role in promoting the safety and economic prosperity: the Violence Against Women Act Youth-Oriented Program, the Victims of Child Abuse program, and the Spending Reduction Account. From Lieu's letter:
Throughout the country, states are increasingly turning away from marijuana prohibition and enacting alternative policies to lower crime rates, free up limited law enforcement resources , and keep drugs out of the hands of children. To date, four states have legalized recreational marijuana, and 23 states now allow marijuana for medical use. There has also been a great deal of movement on the science behind marijuana, and consequently, the marijuana policy landscape in Congress has shifted to more closely match the needs of the states we represent.

...Despite both the programs’ proven ineffectiveness and the seismic shift in attitudes on marijuana policy within Congress and across our nation, the DEA continues to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on its Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program, spending $18 million in 2014 alone.

The language contained in this amendment, supported by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Congress, is an important and needed step forward to cut waste from our federal budget and focus our limited resources on programs that have proven to be effective at preventing violence, assisting children who have been victimized, and promoting public health.

This month Bernie Sanders, the most admired senator of any of the 100 in America, introduced a bill to end federal prohibition of marijuana, removing it from the DEA's schedule of controlled substances. It's the first such bill to ever be introduced in the Senate and-- no surprise here-- he's the first presidential candidate to back the idea. Hillary, like fellow conservatives Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, wants to leave it to the states to decide. O'Malley says it should still be illegal but more in line with cocaine instead of heroin. (You can see why no one takes his candidacy seriously.) Rand Paul favors legalization for medical marijuana and thinks prison for users is a bad idea. Jeb is outspokenly against legalizing even medical marijuana. Chris Christie-- playing politics as usual-- says he'll put everyone in prison who smokes pot in states where its been legalized-- Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington. And Fiorina is confused and conflates marijuana with much stronger drugs. From the GOP debate:

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Trump Keeps Driving The GOP Primary Into Darker And Darker Places


Tuesday night Kasich's campaign posted the incredible Trump-is-a-Nazi video based on Martin Niemöller's universally admired anti-Hitler warning. Kasich's ad (above) quickly went viral. Within hours a bizarre phishing website posted this false story about Kasich dropping out of the race under the headline, "BREAKING: Kasich to suspend campaign facing bankruptcy, low polls." Authorship was attributed to "Voltova Dmitri"

Tonight was supposed to be Governor Kasich’s night. He was to do “counter speeches” to Trump, who was campaigning in his home turf. Sadly, Kasich had few attendees and even less luck raising money from the poverty stricken masses that many say his policies had put into debt.

Kasich is also facing heat from Marco Rubio, who has been mocking him and Ted Cruz as “WIMPS”

Kasich, a former banker and wall street guy, is not right for America, most voters believe.

The governor doubled down on his critiques of Trump, but few are listening.

After months of sinking in the polls and not catching on, Jon Kasich, governor of Ohio, is expected to bow out of the GOP race prior to thanksgiving.

Donald Trump, via twitter, confirmed the rumor circling DC social circles.

Trump also brought this fact up at his massive speech.

Wall Street Journal:

John Kasich of Ohio, the House Budget Committee chairman whose bid for young and populist voters never caught on, is expected to announce he is dropping out of the crowded GOP field in the next couple of days, people close to the campaign said.

An older point reflects his failed 2000 campaign above.

(Visited 19,245 times, 13,230 visits today)
Then came this twitter exchange:

(I can confirm that malware including one bit from Indian hackers that is made to look like an official Safari website that can get control of your computer if you go along with their ruse.)

So is it a Trumpian site? I still can't tell. Krugman's It's A Conspiracy post yesterday is right in line with what everyone has been coming to realize about Trump and his sad, sad low-info followers. Herr Trump "just isn’t vulnerable to typical establishment attacks-- at least in the Republican primary. (The general election might be different.) Catch him making an utterly false assertion, and his supporters just see it as the liberal media conspiring against him. It’s driving the establishment Republicans wild." Krugman has no sympathy for the GOP establishment. Like I said a few days ago: they made this bed; let them sleep in it now.
But really, why should they be shocked? Think about what the establishment has to say on other issues. The chairman of the House science committee says that global warming is a fraud, perpetrated by a vast conspiracy at the NOAA, which is presumably part of a global scientific conspiracy. When the administration reported large numbers of people signing up for Obamacare, leading Republican Senators accused it of cooking the books-- and I’m unaware of any apology or even acknowledgement that they were wrong. Rush Limbaugh claimed that one of the Batman films was an anti-Romney conspiracy. And on and on.

So how are base voters supposed to know that Trump’s claims that the media suppressed films of Muslims cheering on 9/11 mark him as crazy, while all the other conspiracy theories on the right are OK? I guess someone could try to put out a cheat sheet listing acceptable and unacceptable tin-hat views; but Trump would just call that part of the conspiracy, and a lot of people would believe him.

Sorry, guys, you created this monster, and now he’s coming for you.
Finally yesterday, Christie worked up his courage to definitively shoot down Trump's bullshit about the thousands of Jersey City Muslims Trump claims to have "seen" celebrating the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11. The right-wing Daily Standard reported Christie directly contradicting Trump's audacious and false assertions: "Thousands of people did not cheer in Jersey City on 9/11. It just didn’t happen. I was there that day. Nothing like that was ever shown on the news. There’s no video of that. It didn’t happen." Earlier Guiliani was on Morning Joe also confirming that Trump's assertions are false.

Soon after Christie's report started circulating I got this Twitter "Like" for some long-forgotten, two-and-a-half month old anti-Christie tweet of mine. And, let me tell you, "Sasha Free" is not a typical Twitter follower of mine.

I know Trump isn't using his money to buy TV and radio ads. He he spending money on online campaigns to undermine his opponents? I can't wait for him to get around to Cruz, who, according to Sahil Kapur's report for Bloomberg, may be starting to identify Trump as an adversary who has to be taken down. "Cruz," wrote Kapur, "is tentatively beginning to take on the brash New York billionaire after months of cozying up. Twice in recent days, the Texan has seized opportunities to distance himself from Trump's policies and rhetoric."

First, Cruz disagreed with Trump after the New Yorker expressed openness to setting up a registry of Muslim Americans in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. “I'm a big fan of Donald Trump's but I'm not a fan of government registries of American citizens,” Cruz told reporters in Iowa, according to Politico. “The First Amendment protects religious liberty, I've spent the past several decades defending religious liberty.”

Then over the weekend, he politely chided inflammatory rhetoric from fellow Republicans on immigration, when asked about Trump during an interview with the Associated Press. “Tone matters,” Cruz said. “Are there some in the Republican Party whose rhetoric is unhelpful with regard to immigration? Yes.”

Cruz's campaign said to expect more distinctions to come.

“Senator Cruz has drawn policy contrasts with his opponents before and he will continue to do so as he shares his own record and positions with voters on the campaign trail,” said Catherine Frazier, Cruz's spokeswoman. “As the field continues to narrow, it's only natural that the contrasts between the front runners will become more evident.”

The contrast-drawing follows an unusual summer and fall bromance between Trump and Cruz that included a July meeting at Trump Tower in New York, instigated by the Texan, and a September rally on Capitol Hill headlined by the two Republican candidates. On Oct. 8, Cruz admitted his strategy was to eventually win over Trump's supporters. “In time, I don't believe Donald is going to be the nominee, and I think in time the lion's share of his supporters end up with us,” he told WABC's Rita Cosby.

Trump's persistent national lead since July, defying a steady stream of predictions about an impending implosion, has forced a strategic shift for Cruz. The Texan is looking to capitalize as he rises to the top tier of the GOP race and as former Iowa front-runner Ben Carson sinks under scrutiny. The new Quinnipiac poll of Iowa Republicans, released Tuesday, found Trump at 25 percent, with Cruz at 23 percent—a 2 percentage point gap that is inside the survey's margin of error. Carson was third in the Quinnipiac poll with 18 percent.

“Ted Cruz should be taken very seriously. He's laid out a very well thought-out grassroots and fundraising network across the country. He's been very strategic in his timing,” said Ron Bonjean, a veteran Republican operative who is not affiliated with any of the presidential campaigns.

For Cruz, Trump presents an obstacle and an opportunity. The politically incorrect New Yorker has been outperforming the Texas firebrand at his own greatest talent: deploying scorched-earth rhetoric to channel the anti-establishment sentiments in the GOP. But Trump's bravado gives Cruz a chance to paint himself as something nobody in Washington would accuse him of being: prudent and measured.

“There is massive irony here for Ted Cruz to be asking Donald Trump to tone it down,” said Bonjean. “He's trying to look like the most adult candidate in the room-- the most realistic alternative that could take away Trump voters.”

The irony is that Cruz has built an image upon angering Republican leaders with tactics like incubating the government shutdown of 2013, forcing weekend work as he makes a stand, and calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar on the floor this summer. It has been a tactical use of his Senate seat, Bonjean said, that has enabled Cruz to cultivate his conservative base and that now positions him to seize his political advantage. “He has built a foundation brick by brick for this moment.”

Bonjean said Cruz is “trying to do is marginalize Trump with Republican primary voters-- very subtly-- without tripping the wire of having Trump go nuts on him.”

Meanwhile, Trump has suggested Cruz is copying his ideas, telling conservative radio host Laura Ingraham last week that “Ted Cruz is now agreeing with me 100 percent.” The confrontational New Yorker has also indicated he'll take the gloves off if Cruz becomes a threat to his nomination.

“If he catches on, I guess we’ll have to go to war,” Trump said last Monday on CNBC's Squawk Box.
Easy enough for Trump to dispose of weak, plodding characters like Perry, Jeb, Jindal, Dr. Ben, Kasich, Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, but will he have what it takes to handle someone with his own sociopathic disregard for any semblance of human decency? We haven't seen a good fascist vs fascist death match since... Operation Hummingbird, (AKA, 1934's Night of The Long Knives).

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