Saturday, June 14, 2014
As lunatics like John McCain shout that American troops need to return to Iraq and/or blame Obama for recent events, saner minds have connected the dots - a task that truly isn't difficult - and lay the blame for today's disaster in Iraq where it really belongs: at the feet of Chimperator George W. Bush and Emperor Palpatine Cheney and their minions who lied to the American people and launched the nation on a fool's errand 11 years ago. Not only was the invasion ill planned, but not apparent thought was ever really given to the issue of what happen after Saddam Hussein was toppled from power. Meanwhile, thousands of young Americans lost their lives for ultimately nothing and America went a go way towards bankrupting itself. Yet the GOP seemingly still hasn't learned. A piece by Agence France-Presse reprinted in The Raw Story should be mandatory reading for everyone in Congress. Here are article excepts:
As for McCain, if he thinks America "won" in Iraq, then I guess he thinks we "won" in Vietnam. The man needs his head examined.The rise of Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Iraq can be traced to America's invasion of the country more than a decade ago, as it left a power vacuum and unleashed sectarian bloodletting, experts said Friday.With television footage of Sunni extremists sweeping across Iraq this week, critics of former president George W. Bush's decision to invade in 2003 said the onslaught offered yet more proof of the war's disastrous fallout.Neoconservatives who backed Bush's decision touted the war as a way to build a model for democracy in the Middle East. Instead, it has fueled an explosive Sunni-Shiite divide that is still sending shockwaves through the region, experts said.For University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole, events in Iraq are "an indictment of the George W. Bush administration, which falsely said it was going into Iraq because of a connection between Al-Qaeda and Baghdad." "There was none," said Cole, an outspoken opponent of the invasion.But by occupying and "weakening" Iraq, the Bush administration ironically created conditions that allowed Al-Qaeda "to take and hold territory in our own time," he wrote.The late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was long painted as an arch-enemy by the United States, but more than ten years since US-led forces toppled his regime, his era appears relatively stable and innocuous compared to the virulent threats now engulfing Iraq and causing alarm in Washington.Saddam's fall opened the door to an emboldened Iran extending its reach across the region, a Shiite-led government that has alienated Sunnis and helped give birth to Al-Qaeda linked extremists now entrenched in Iraq and Syria, analysts said.Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow had foreseen a fiasco from the outset."We warned long ago that the adventurism the Americans and the British started there would not end well," Lavrov said Thursday.Without referring to Bush by name, Lavrov said the situation in Iraq has been "deteriorating at an exponential rate" ever since the Americans ousted Saddam. Other commentators blamed the Bush administration for the wholesale dismantling of Baghdad's entire government apparatus without building an alternative."There's plenty of room for finger-pointing for the debacle in Iraq. Let's not forget the disastrous decision to start the war in 2003 as the place to begin finger-pointing," Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former CIA officer, told AFP.
I will be candid. I find David Brat, the Tea Party hero who defeated Eric Cantor last week in the GOP primary, in many ways to be down right scary. He's in bed with the Christian Right - the Tea Party is after all 85-90% far right Christian - and certainly is no friend to gays or anyone who isn't a white heterosexual conservative Christian. But, as a piece in Politico notes - he also is no friend of those in the GOP who are striving to return America to the Gilded Age of 100+ years ago. In fact, a some of his economic positions almost sound liberal when he is condemning wealth disparity and rapacious big business. Thus, Brat may well be the unexpected leader of a revolt against the agenda of the Koch brothers and others of their ilk within the GOP who see themselves as a reincarnation of the robber barons of old. Here are some article highlights:
All of these explanations [as to why Cantor lost] may be at least partially true. But perhaps the enduring significance of this election will be that Brat’s campaign was a textbook example of the new right-wing populism. It also revealed affinities with populist campaigns going back to the 19th century as well as curious similarities with left-wing populism in more recent years.The most striking aspect of Brat’s core stump speech is that while he is caustically critical of politicians from both parties, his main target is business and the “gazillionaires” who suck up a disproportionate share of America’s wealth. He blasts his opponent for having voted for TARP (thereby rewarding the big banks, Wall Street and America’s Chinese creditors) and the farm bill (enriching huge agribusiness), as well as for watering down the STOCK Act, which would have prevented members of Congress from engaging in insider trading. But Cantor’s real puppet-masters, according to Brat, are the “crony capitalists” on K Street and nefarious business organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable. Cantor is “completely beholden to corporate interests” and seeks “to sell America to the highest bidder.”There’s some truth to this critique. As one Wall Street Journal headline on his big-money ties succinctly put it, “Eric Cantor’s loss a blow to Wall Street.”But Brat goes further. Business influence is so entrenched and widespread on Capitol Hill, he says, that “There is just one party up in D.C. right now”: the money-and-power party. While the “donor class” has easy access to Congress, the business-controlled government is not just indifferent to average citizens but actively despises them and wants to take away their freedoms. The government is actively persecuting ordinary people through NSA spying, IRS investigations and regulations that force families to spend their money on expensive light bulbs rather than food. And the public has no voice, since business controls the media while establishment Republicans like Cantor silence voters through “slating”and other machine-politics tactics. The result is that the United States has become a ruined, broken country . . . . .
[A]lthough Brat depicts illegal immigration as the No. 1 national problem, he focuses his ire not so much on the immigrants themselves as on the corporate interests that require their political lackeys to vote for open borders and amnesty. The “big guys” thereby get to enjoy cheap immigrant labor while also benefiting from immigrants driving down wages for American workers.Much of Brat’s rhetoric could have been lifted directly from the 1892 platform of the People’s Party, better known as the Populists. Like Brat, the Populists of old declared that they were living in “a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin.” At the root of this corruption were big businesses and great fortunes that dominated both parties, silenced public opinion and “subsidized or muzzled” the media.
I suspect that the so-called GOP establishment does not want to see too many more David Brats come to the fore.
As noted in previous posts, one of the favored memes of the Christofascists currently is that Christians are facing persecution and, if one listens to demagogue and hate group leaders Tony Perkins, soon gays will loading Christians into box cars and subjecting them to a revised version of the Holocaust. Of course, none of the claims of persecution are true. They are merely more of the many lies knowingly disseminated by what I call the professional Christian crowd which needs to whip increasingly high levels of hysteria in order to keep shaking down the ignorant and gullible for money. The irony, of course, is that nowadays, no one lies and is more dishonest than the "godly Christians." As I have said many times, if their lips are moving, it is a pretty safe bet that they are lying. A new study looks at the Christian persecution myth and, as one might expect, finds it to be totally untrue. If Christians are facing anything socially, it is merely increased opposition to their persecution of others, gays naturally being among the favored targets of Christian hate and mistreatment. Having one's ability to persecute others does not mean that one is being persecuted. Here are some of the study findings:
The tales of horror keep pouring in: Two middle school girls are forced into a lesbian kiss as part of an anti-bullying program; an Air Force sergeant is fired because he opposes same-sex marriage; a high school track team is disqualified from a meet after an athlete thanks God for the team’s victory; a Veterans Affairs hospital bans Christmas cards with religious messages; a man fixing the lights in a Christmas tree falls victim to a wave of War-on-Christmas violence; an elementary school student is punished for praying over his school lunch; a little boy is forced to take a psychological evaluation after drawing a picture of Jesus.None of these stories is true. But each has become a stock tale for Religious Right broadcasters, activists, and in some cases elected officials. These myths – which are becoming ever more pervasive in the right-wing media – serve to bolster a larger story, that of a majority religious group in American society becoming a persecuted minority, driven underground in its own country.This narrative has become an important rallying cry for a movement that has found itself on the losing side of many of the so-called “culture wars.” By reframing political losses as religious oppression, the Right has attempted to build a justification for turning back advances in gay rights, reproductive rights and religious liberty for minority faiths.The frantic warnings, fueled by individual persecution myths, range from the insistence that conservative Christians are losing their right to free speech to the claim that the U.S. is on the verge of instituting unconstitutional hate speech laws to dire predictions that religious faith itself might soon be criminalized.The claim that efforts to draw a line between church and state represent a suppression of the individual exercise of religion is key to the Right’s persecution narrative. In order to convincingly argue that being on the losing side of a policy debate or a legal argument amounts to religious persecution, you must first establish that the media, government and the culture at large are actively hostile to people of faith.The most prolific manufacturer and promoter of apocryphal stories of American Christian persecution working today is Fox News reporter Todd Starnes. If a story emerges about a service member punished for his or her Christian beliefs or a schoolchild banned from talking about Christmas, it most likely originated with or was promoted by Starnes. And there’s a good chance the facts have been either severely distorted or completely fabricated.No matter how quickly they are debunked, however, these stories are used to build a narrative that bolsters the Religious Right’s political goals…and benefits Starnes himself.Warnings about the persecution of conservative Christians have gone hand in hand with the rapid success of the gay rights movement in politics, courts and public opinion. This is not a coincidence.In a 2013 report for Political Research Associates, scholar Jay Michaelson documents how the persecution narrative was at the core of religious conservatives’ response to desegregation, the end of school-sponsored school prayer and the victory for abortion rights in Roe v. Wade.
But nowhere has the Religious Right lost more ground in recent years than on the issue of gay rights. . . . As the anti-gay movement found itself on the defensive, it began to increasingly embrace the “religious liberty” theme. While dire warnings about persecution of conservative Christians have been in the Religious Right’s vocabulary for decades, the success of the gay rights movement has brought them to the center of its strategy.The goal of the Religious Right’s persecution narrative is not only to carve out broad exemptions to civil laws; many use it to promote policies that suppress the free exercise rights of those who do not share a specific set of conservative Christian values.The Religious Right’s “religious liberty” argument too often translates into an effort to suppress the liberties of people who don’t share their specific religious beliefs: people of other faiths, atheists, women seeking reproductive freedom, LGBT people and Christians who don’t share the Religious Right’s political agenda.[U]sing the resonant rhetoric of religious persecution, bolstered by often-bogus stories of purported anti-Christian activities, the Religious Right has attempted to tip this balance away from pluralism and accommodation to a legal system that allows individuals and businesses to broadly exempt themselves from policies they disagree with – even when that means trampling on the religious rights of others.
As I have maintained for some time now, the Christofascists are not nice or decent people. They are selfish and their principal message is one of hate, division and discrimination. They are a cancer that needs to be suppressed in society. Their ultimate goal is to subvert the U.S. Constitution and to deprive other citizens of their legal rights and protections.
I for one always opposed the Iraq War. First and foremost because the U.S. went to war on the basis of deliberate lies formulated and disseminated by the evil Bush/Cheney regime, lies that a diligent press could have and should have totally exposed had it not for the most part acted as a lap dog to Bush/Cheney. My second reason for opposing the war was because no one seemed willing to face the question of what would happen once the Hussein regime was overthrown. Short of a permanent U.S. occupation, nothing was going to keep the country from ultimately blowing apart - something we are seeing take place before our eyes currently. With a son-in-law who did three tours in the Middle East and who suffered sever wounds on his last tour, I can understand the feeling of veterans who are saddened if not distraught to see Iraq spiraling out of control. They lost friends and loved ones and often spilled some of their own blood in a war that should never have been waged. I can only hope that if they feel anger that the anger will be directed at the right target: Bush/Cheney and the rubber stamp GOP controlled Congress that set this disaster in play. More importantly, they need to realize that the failed GOP policies continue and that if they want justice, they need to throw Republicans out of office everywhere. Better yet, they could start demanding that Bush, Cheney and others be put on trial for war crimes. A piece in the New York Times looks at the ongoing disaster and the frayed emotions of many veterans:
A few weeks before their battalion was to get new mine-resistant vehicles, Capt. Adam P. Snyder, Pvt. Dewayne L. White and Sgt. Eric J. Hernandez were speeding toward a mission in Baiji, Iraq, when a roadside bomb engulfed their Humvee in flames, killing the two enlisted men. Captain Snyder, 26, died the next day, Dec. 5, 2007.Matthew Adkins, then a self-described “butterbar” lieutenant, regarded the captain as a mentor, and his death leveled him. Hearing this week that Baiji was on the brink of being overrun by Sunni militants, he immediately thought of Captain Snyder, phoned his girlfriend, and cried.“You think about those costs that can never be recouped,” Mr. Adkins said in an interview from Talkeetna, Alaska, where he works as a field manager for pipeline surveys. “I remember driving those Humvees to Balad Air Base to get our new MRAPs, and thinking if we had these things two weeks ago, they’d still be alive.”About 800 American troops lost their lives, and many more were wounded, in those territories, the homeland of Saddam Hussein and his Baathist loyalists. For the comrades of those fallen troops, the grim news this week has left them struggling to reconcile the sacrifices that were made with the speed and magnitude with which northern Iraq is falling to insurgents.For these soldiers, it brought the same wrenching dismay to the Army that Marines felt when Falluja fell to insurgents in January. But there is also a clear sense among many that this is different, and worse: Iraq could still be a functioning state after rebels seized parts of Anbar Province, but the capture of so many northern cities has imperiled everything the military once thought it might have accomplished.Phillips McWilliams, a platoon leader now studying for the bar in Columbia, S.C., . . . . had predicted the eventual implosion of Iraq, his parents reminded him recently. And he always had doubts about whether the Iraqi forces they were training could ever secure the country after American forces left. But he is still struggling to reconcile the developments of the past few days.“Part of me wants to say that everything we did or attempted to do is being torn asunder, that it is all for naught,” he said. “But I’m certainly very proud of what we did; I just don’t know how I feel yet. I’m very conflicted. I just don’t know what is going to happen, but it doesn’t look good.”Mr. Sykes is now several years out of alcohol addiction and PTSD treatments he entered after a breakdown following a 2010 trip to Fort Pierce, Fla., where Captain Snyder is buried beneath a marble obelisk. “I drank myself into oblivion, and basically lost it” after the visit, Mr. Sykes said.He is better now, married, and working as a policy aide on Capitol Hill. It was a hard road back, especially because he now considers the occupation of Iraq “one giant boondoggle.”“Some guys just let it become all-consuming and they can never get past it, and their lives become one big rehashing of the same things,” said Mr. Sykes, who talks to Captain Snyder’s mother regularly. “You have to acknowledge it and not fill up with hate, or your anger will consume you.”Sitting at his office in Alaska after a long day visiting crews, Mr. Adkins said he hoped the Iraqi government could claw back some of what it lost this week, otherwise “all that human capital spent on it was possibly for nothing.”“That’s what I’m holding onto right now,” he said.
We need to NEVER forget that every American who died was as good as murdered by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. If we forget this reality and fail to hold these foul men accountable for what they did, America is one step closer to another Iraq like disaster.
|Kinser with George Allen - 2011|
Virginia Chief Justice Cynthia Kinser has announced that she will step down from the court this year. Kinser, who was a law school classmate appointed to the court by our mutual classmate, George Allen, proved herself to be no friend of LGBT equality when I argued before the Court in Moore v. Virginia Museum of Natural History and, indeed seem outraged by my suggestion that anti-gay discrimination should be ruled illegal under Virginia's laws banning employment discrimination based on religious belief. As the plethora of same sex marriage cases have made clear, the sole motivation to discriminate and against gays always proves to be religion. Sadly, Kinser displayed a mindset much like that of the members of the Virginia Supreme Court who twice upheld Virginia's ban on interracial marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in an struck down the law in Loving v. Virginia. Virginia has a long history of being on the wrong side of history and Kinser maintained that tradition during her tenure on the Court. Here are highlights from the Washington Post:
The first female chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court plans to retire this year.
Justice Cynthia D. Kinser — first appointed to the state’s high court in 1997 and elected by her peers as chief justice in February 2011 — announced in a news release that she intends to step down from her post this year. Kristi S. Wright, a court spokeswoman, said Kinser wants to spend more time with her husband and travel.
Kinser, a Lee County, Va., native who received her law degree from the University of Virginia, was the first woman to be selected as chief justice of Virginia’s Supreme Court. She worked previously as a federal magistrate judge and as the commonwealth’s attorney for Lee County.
The Court continues to be reactionary overall and one can only hope that Gov. McAuliffe will nominate a replacement who understands that Virginia needs to move forcefully into the 21st century rather than try to maintain the 19th century.
Friday, June 13, 2014
As the post mortems continue in the wake of Eric Cantor's primary defeat on Tuesday, many excuses are being made - e.g., Cantor lost touch with his constituents - that try to avoid the fundamental reason that Cantor lost: the GOP is now the party of unreason and extremism. The GOP that many of us grew up with simply no longer exists. What killed it? The Christofascists, both those who parade around as "family values" advocates and those who hide under the Tea Party label. Even when not winning primaries such as the one that sealed Cantor's fate, the truth is that what now passes as "moderate" positions are far to the right of what the GOP once stood for. Religious fanaticism and thinly veiled white supremacist positions were once not mainstream GOP values. And most certainly, the proud rejection of knowledge and reason were not GOP values as I was growing up in a family of Republicans. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the slow death of the GOP at the hands of its self-created Frankenstein monster. Here are excepts:
The GOP of old is dead and gone. I do not see how it can be saved from the monster that the "GOP establishment" allowed to infect the party.
The Republican Party’s reliance on tea party support is like an addict’s dependence on a dangerous drug: It may feel good at first, but eventually it eats you alive.No House majority leader had ever been ousted in a primary before Eric Cantor’s shocking defeat on Tuesday. Republicans who tell themselves it was Cantor’s own fault — he lost touch with his Virginia district, he tried to have it both ways on immigration, he came to be seen as part of the Washington establishment — are whistling past the graveyard.[A] powerful incumbent, running in a district whose boundaries were custom-designed for his benefit, lost by an incredible 11 percentage points.There can be no doubt that the tail is now wagging the dog. The tea party should no longer be thought of as just a faction of the GOP. It’s calling the shots.Certainly, other Republican incumbents have managed to survive this primary season, with the possible exception of Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who is thought likely to lose a runoff against tea-party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel. But many establishment Republicans have hung on by claiming the tea party’s radical vision as their own.Brat believes in fiscal restraint, which is a standard Republican position — until it veers into nihilistic territory such as refusing to raise the debt ceiling, as most tea party Republicans in the House have consistently voted. He questions the federal role in setting education policy — at a time when U.S. schools, by almost any measure, are falling behind.Brat also opposes comprehensive immigration reform that could provide a path to citizenship for the more than 11 million men, women and children who are in the United States without papers. This is the issue that brought conservative radio talk show hosts Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin to endorse and campaign for him.Republican intransigence on reform threatens to make Latinos — the biggest minority group in the nation — a longtime loyal constituency of the Democratic Party. If this happens, simple arithmetic makes it hard to imagine how Republicans will be able to compete in national elections.In other words, the tea party is pushing the GOP toward ideological purity and electoral marginalization. Smart Republicans don’t want to walk off the cliff. But deviating from the tea party path, as Cantor did, can mean being sent home.The GOP has to decide whether it intends to participate responsibly in the enterprise of government or stand on the sidelines, shouting invective and throwing stones. One of which just hit the majority leader of the House of Representatives in the head.
Despite the howls of protest that come from opponents of same sex marriage who refuse to admit that their opposition to marriage equality is no different than that which motivated those oppose to interracial marriage, the reality is that both are based on animus towards a group and a desire to keep the hated group inferior under the civil laws. Moreover, in both instances, religious arguments were/are used to justify discrimination. A piece in Slate looks at the echos from 47 years ago. Here are highlights:
Forty-seven years ago today, the Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Loving v. Virginia, striking down all interracial marriage bans as a violation of the 14th Amendment. The famous case has since served as the cornerstone of the legal battle for marriage equality: Gay marriage proponents seized upon Loving’s due process and equal protection rationales to make their case at the court.Opponents of marriage equality, on the other hand, predictably tried to cordon off Loving, insisting that it was more a case about race than a case about marriage. Yet the legal teams dedicated to combatting gay marriage could never quite shake off the lingering legacy of Loving. Compiled below are highlights from oral arguments at the Supreme Court in Loving, side-by-side with arguments from the Proposition 8 and DOMA cases. See if you experience a sense of déjà vu hearing the arguments that didn’t work the first time being trotted out for another round of battle.
Argument: The state has a rational basis in keeping (interracial/gay) couples from getting married.
In Loving, R.D. McIlwaine III, the assistant attorney general of Virginia, repeatedly returned to the idea that its anti-miscegenation laws were perfectly “rational,” which would mean that the state had every right to adopt them without judicial interference. Here, he makes the case quite forcefully.
Now here’s Paul Clement, defender of DOMA, making a similar argument about rational basis
Argument: The framers of the 14th Amendment never expected it to protect (interracial/gay) couples.
Loving’s dual due process and equal protection arguments both spring from the 14th Amendment, drafted and ratified shortly after the Civil War. Although the amendment was originally designed to protect free blacks, its protections have since been extended to women and, to some extent, gays. Originalists, of course, have no truck with such extensions, and opponents of women’s rights and gay rights have long pointed to the amendment’s history to make their case.
Here, McIlwaine argues that the Civil Rights Act of 1866—a direct predecessor of the 14th Amendment, whose protections the 14th Amendment aimed to codify into the Constitution—was not designed to protect interracial couples.
And here is Justice Antonin Scalia questioning—or really, lecturing—Ted Olson about the constitutionality of gay marriage at the time when the 14th Amendment was adopted.
Argument: The children of (interracial/gay) couples are disadvantaged because of their parents.
McIlwaine vigorously argued that children of interracial couples “have almost insuperable difficulties in identification” that cause “damage.” He also notes that biracial children are often referred to as “the victims of intermarried parents and as the martyrs of intermarried parents.”
Scalia need not call these children “victims”; the phrase “deleterious effect” carries his meaning well enough on its own. But while the precise terminology has changed, the arguments themselves have barely shifted. No matter how deftly they dress up their language in polite euphemisms, gay marriage opponents are still stealing directly from the Loving playbook. And it’s working no better today than it did 47 years ago.
Watch the video clips in the piece. Some things truly do not change.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
As part of my new job I will be traveling to corporate headwaters in New England. My flight in the morning leaves before light and I have a full day ahead both tomorrow and Friday before I return to Hampton Roads on Friday evening. I will uploads posts as time permits.
After having my own firm for eight years, it is going to be a big change to no longer being the boss. On the other hand, a steady base salary and better benefits are hard to turn one's nose up at.
Granted, not all of the shooters who go on rampages killing innocent people are wrapped up in war right and gun obsessed ideologies. But, that said, there seem to be some striking similarities between the killers who murdered two policemen and a bystander in Las Vegas and the student who went on a shooting spree in an Oregon high school. In both cases the guns used were legally secured - which seems to always be the case - and the shooters seemingly clung to extreme ideologies that included an obsession with guns. What I find very frightening is the fact that Padgett, like the shooters in Kas Vegas outwardly looked "normal." The Daily Mail reports on the Oregon shooter:
Jared Michael Padgett, 15, the gunman who killed a Reynolds High School student in Portland, Oregon was a gun-obsessive who became furious with his classmates over his presentation about Hitler one week before his shooting spree.
This comes as Troutdale Police Chief Scott Anderson revealed that Padgett was armed with a legally owned AR-15 rifle, which he stole from his home and used to open fire and kill Emilio Hoffman, 14 and wound PE teacher Todd Rispler.
Police also revealed that Padgett arrived for his shooting spree on the school bus and was heavily armed, with nine loaded magazines, holding several hundred rounds carried in a guitar case - raising the possibility that he planned on committing mass murder.
Padgett, who took his own life in a locker toilet after killing Hoffman, was also carrying a handgun which he did not fire and a knife.
|Brent Bozell - Right wing lunatic|
If one wants to see the ugly face of the underbelly of the GOP base that will be emboldened by Eric Cantor, look no farther than a group of extremists who were at a dinner gathering that turned into a celebration as it became obvious that Cantor was going down to defeat. The group consisted of a who's who of what is wrong with today's Republican Party, including the mentally disturbed Brent Bozell and hate group leader Tony Perkins, a racist and homophobe extraordinaire. BuzzFeed looks at the coven of lunacy and hate. Here are excerpts:
A small contingent of right-wing elites was gathered for an intimate dinner party at the Great Falls, Va. home of ForAmerica chairman Brent Bozell when returns first started trickling in from Rep. Eric Cantor’s primary race. They weren’t there to watch election coverage, but Tea Party Patriots president Jenny Beth Martin couldn’t help but check her phone for the early numbers. With the first two precincts reporting, she told the group, Cantor was trailing his obscure opponent, an economics professor named David Brat.“Cantor should give his concession speech now!” Bozell joked.
Everyone laughed, but it wasn’t long before their phones started buzzing with the startling news: The House Majority Leader was about to lose his primary to a grassroots insurgent — upending the common wisdom in Washington that the Tea Party was dead, and serving notice to the old guard that the grassroots wasn’t done with the Republican civil war.
The dinner guests — which included Andy Roth of the Club for Growth, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Mike Needham of Heritage Action, David Bossie of Citizens United, and prominent conservative fundraiser Richard Norman — began hurriedly making calls to activists on the ground, and scanning their phones for updates.
“Can you think of a greater political upset in your life? I can’t think of one,” Bozell said over the phone, as his guests chattered excitedly in the background. “This is stunning. This is the conservative movement on fire.” Bozell described the group’s mood as “ebullient,”
[W]ith Cantor’s defeat, the leaders at Bozell’s dinner table had proof that the movement was still very much alive — a fact that warranted some gloating.
“Is the establishment going to get questions for the next week and a half asking whether they’re dead?” Martin asked sarcastically. “The fact of the matter is freedom is alive.”
As they dined on vegetable lasagna, the guests plotted their next moves — from beating Thad Cochran in the Mississippi Senate runoff, to marshaling an army of activists that would make sure the GOP nominated a true conservative for president in 2016.
“This is good for anyone who has a connection with the grassroots,” Bozell said. “It’s good for [Ted] Cruz, it’s good for Rand Paul.”
“The sound you just heard was the death knell of the immigration reform within the establishment of the Republican Party. It’s kryptonite,” Bozell said, by way of warning to Paul.
He added, “It’s time for Grover Norquist and the Chamber of Commerce to think of Plan B, because their agenda is dead.”
As his guests basked in victory, the host briefly retreated from the celebration with his public relations consultant, Greg Mueller, to craft a statement that they would soon blast out to reporters. The result was thoroughly triumphant: “Eric Cantor’s loss tonight is an apocalyptic moment for the GOP establishment. The grassroots is in revolt and marching.”
When he returned to the dinner, Bozell was struck by the weight of the moment. “If you looked around that table and you looked at the organizations represented, it was virtually every major conservative group in America,” he said. “There was real muscle in that room, and a real sense that something historic happened tonight.”
These people and groups are delusional enough as it is. If they are emboldened, it spells bad things for both the GOP and the nation.
Here in Virginia one does not register by political party. Hence at primary time, one can vote in either party primary but not both. Some speculate that Democrats may have voted for Cantor's challenger in the hope that a more extreme GOP candidate might be easier to defeat in November. Here's a sample of speculation via Andrew Sullivan:
A reader writes:
I live in the 7th District in Virginia, and I am a Democrat who voted for David Brat in the open primary. There has been a whisper campaign going on among the Democrats in the district for the last few weeks and it resulted in many Democrats coming out to vote for Brat. We felt especially encouraged after the 7th District committee nominated Jack Trammell to be the Democratic candidate for the seat last Sunday. We now feel we at least have a fair chance at winning it. (By the way, Jack Trammell is a professor at the same small college as Brat, Randolph-Macon.)
Here’s a theory to support your reader who, though a Democrat, voted for Brat: in 2012, roughly 47,000 people voted in the 7th District Republican primary. This time, roughly 65,000. Now let’s assume that of those 18,000 new voters, 16,000 were Democrats voting to axe Cantor, then rework the numbers if they hadn’t voted: Cantor would then have had around 29,000+ votes, and Brat would have had around 20,000+. Which would have worked out to approximately 59% for Cantor, which is where he was at in 2012 and much closer to his internal polling showing him with a lead of 34% among likely REPUBLICAN voters.
I’m thinking time will show that Democrats in his district were fed up with him, and decided to do something about it.
Based on past experience when Democrats have voted in GOP primaries - usually to ensure the victory of the moderate GOP candidate such as former Senator John Warner - the speculation is within the realm of the possible.
The pundits and talking heads on both sides of the political aisle totally missed the coming defeat of Eric Cantor by a largely unknown and poorly funded Tea Party warrior. Over at Bearing Drift, the various elements of Teabagistan are exulting in Cantor's demise. Meanwhile the GOP establishment has learned that it is dangerous to be cocky and that there is still life in the Frankenstein monster known as the Tea Party. What's frightening is that Cantor's loss will embolden the lunatic elements of the GOP. Meanwhile, being well of aware of the religious extremism of the Tea Party which has about an 85% identification with far right Christians, I cannot help but wonder if Cantor's Jewish faith wasn't somehow in play. Here in Virgina, there is little doubt that the far right of the GOP wants a Christian theocracy. Here are excepts from the Washington Post on the shock waves following Cantors rout last night:
The defeat of the second-ranking Republican in the House by an ill-funded, little-known tea party-backed candidate ranks as the biggest Congressional upset in modern memory and will immediately generate a series of political and policy-related shockwaves in Washington and the Richmond-area 7th district.
"People don't know how to respond because it's never been contemplated," said one Virginia Republican strategist, granted anonymity to speak candidly about Cantor's loss. (Worth noting: Cantor didn't just lose. He got walloped; David Brat, his challenger, won 56 percent to 44 percent.)
In conversations with a handful of GOP operatives in the aftermath of Cantor's loss -- a loss blamed largely on an inept campaign consulting team that misread the level of vitriol directed at the candidate due to his place in Republican leadership and the perception he supported so-called "amnesty" for illegal immigrants -- there were several common threads about what it means for politics inside and outside the House.
1. Immigration reform is dead. I'm not sure it was ever really alive in the House -- we've written plenty about how the average House Republican has zero incentive to support any immigration reform -- but Cantor's loss ensures that even chatter about making minor changes will disappear. Anytime an incumbent -- and particularly a well-funded incumbent like Cantor -- loses there are lots of reasons for the defeat, but this one will be cast as a rebuke of any moderation on immigration.
2. House legislative activity will cease. Again, there wasn't a heck of a lot of grand legislative plans before Cantor's loss. But, that trickle will totally dry up now as Republican members avoid doing anything -- literally, anything -- that could be used against them in the many primaries still to come this summer and fall. Members will be afraid of their own shadows.
3. The "establishment strike back" storyline will disappear.... In the space of the last week, the narrative that the establishment has finally figured out how to beat the tea party has exploded. First, state Sen. Chris McDaniel finished ahead of Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran in the state's GOP primary. Now, the Cantor loss.
4. ....Tea party challenges will surge. David Brat -- and McDaniel if he wins -- will become the newest tea party heroes, taking their places alongside the likes of Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Mike Lee (Utah). In the near term, that will embolden tea partiers who seemed dead in the water in their own attempts to take out incumbents. . . . . In the longer term, there's every reason to believe that other prominent members of the GOP leadership -- in the House and Senate -- will face tea-party challenges come 2016.
5. The race to replace John Boehner as Speaker is now wide open. We've written before about how difficult it will be for Boehner to hold on to his Speakership -- assuming Republicans keep the majority this fall. But now the heir apparent has been dragged under by a conservative uprising. The third man in command -- House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) -- is not exactly a tea party darling or stylistically speaking, the sort of hard-liner that the most conservative wing in the House likes.
Cantor's defeat will continue to send rumbles through the political system for the next few days -- and even weeks and months.
It will be interesting, entertaining and in some ways frightening to watch the GOP civil war continue. The nation truly cannot afford for the GOP to be completely taken over by party elements that openly celebrate the embrace of ignorance and out right racism and homophobia.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
A new article at The Daily Beast looks at the worsening conditions for gays in Russia as Vladimir Putin continues to use methods from Adolph Hitler's playbook for marginalizing Jews and making their lives a living Hell in general. Under Putin's regime, gays are being fired from their jobs, landlords are being pressured to break leases and force gays from their homes, and banks are closing accounts of gay customers. Some have said Putin's anti-gay policies underscore that he is a fascist at heart. I'd say Putin's a piece of foul smelling excrement. Here are some article excerpts:
LGBT organizations declared foreign agents in one fell swoop, gays being blacklisted by banks, employers, and landlords—welcome to the new reality of being LGBT under Putin.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, Tatiana Vinnichenko, director of the Russian LGBT organization Rakurs, revealed how much most of us in the West don’t know about Russia’s anti-gay crackdown. And all of it is bad news.
First, official state prosecutions and persecution of LGBT organizations has morphed and intensified. Previously, LGBT organizations were pressured to register as “foreign agents”—spies, basically—but those registrations were subject to judicial review. The results were uneven: Some courts rubber-stamped the government’s positions, but others found a lack of evidence and ruled for the LGBT organizations.
Earlier this year, says Vinnichenko, the law was quietly changed. Now the government has the power to declare an organization a foreign agent as an administrative matter. In other words, what was once a matter of law, however imperfect, is now a matter of bureaucracy. With one fell swoop—and one that can come at any moment, without warning—a gay community center, or film festival, or support group can be branded a spy.
According to Vinnichenko, Russian authorities are putting pressure on all kinds of institutions—banks, landlords, employers—not to do business with LGBT people and LGBT organizations. Because licenses are required for just about everything in Russia, this “pressure” is existential. Banks are being told, “Dump your LGBT customers, or we’ll shut you down,” she said.
Vinnichenko says all banks have been told that if they have any LGBT organizations as clients, they will lose their licenses; it’s just a matter of time until all of the organizations’ accounts are closed. And the local LGBT community center she runs, she says, is in danger of losing its lease and will have nowhere else to go. No one will rent to her.
This subcontracted homophobia has largely escaped the notice of the Western media so far. It is off the books, so to speak, propelled by threats and extortion rather than overt acts like legislation or prosecution. And it has plausible deniability. “Putin is asked about LGBT people whenever he goes abroad, and he just lies or says he doesn’t know,” said Vinnichenko. “But he knows the situation—he’s the homophobe in chief.”
What she has in mind is for the Russian businesses participating in the privatization of homophobia to be confronted overseas. She points to her own university, which frequently partners with other European and American universities. “The president should be picketed everywhere she goes,” Vinnichenko said. So, too, should the leaders of banks and other businesses.
And Vinnichenko is calling for the United States to follow Canada in providing expedited and “favored” review to LGBT applicants for asylum.
There is more to the sad piece that you should read. I find myself thinking that it's not a good thing to wish that someone would die, but like Hitler, I think the world would be a better place without Putin in it. Ditto for the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church. Fascism and religion are a truly foul combination.
Despite its efforts to show case the good deeds it does - Pope Francis' PR push over the last year is a part of this - the Roman Catholic Church has left a wake of broken and ruined lives over the centuries as the bitter old men in dresses in Rome and in bishoprics across the world obsess over all things sexual. Indeed the Vatican continues its jihad against gays despite Pope Francis'
disingenuous seemly conciliatory statements on gays. In few places was the Church's obsession with sex and its stranglehold on society stronger than in Ireland. A piece in the Irish Times looks at the Church's history of cruelty and harm in Ireland. Here are excerpts:
The Irish psychosis whose latest expression is thousands of dead babies in unmarked graves is a compound of four elements: superiority, shame, cruelty and exclusion.It is long past time that the Church and its hierarchy be held accountable for all of the horrors inflicted on innocents over the years. Thankfully, the support for the Church in Ireland is in a long overdue free fall.
A Catholic priest writing in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record in 1922 under the pen-name Sagart, actually objected to the establishment of mother-and-baby homes, not on the grounds that they were horribly oppressive in principle, but that they might let unmarried mothers lose their proper sense of inferiority.
The institutional church, meanwhile, was a giant factory for the mass production of shame and secrecy. It was the Irish secret service. In an article in The Irish Times in 1964, Michael Viney referred to “the secret-service mother-and-baby homes” run by religious orders in Ireland.The metaphor was not strained. Viney quoted the mother superior of a home he visited as telling him that the young women never set foot outside of the grounds: “They’d rather put up with a toothache than risk a visit to the dentist in the town, where they might just meet someone who would recognise them.”The church’s genius was that it both generated the shame and controlled the secrets that resulted from it.The third element was cruelty – conscious and deliberate cruelty, aimed at the creation of fear. Catholic Ireland locked up in mental hospitals, industrial schools, Magdalene laundries and mother-and- baby homes an astonishing 1 per cent of its entire population. The cruelty of these places was not accidental.Viney reported that the homes had well-run systems for sending letters from inmates to London – they were then posted back to the young woman’s family with British stamps, as if from an accommodation address in England.Cruelty and fear survive: the law of the land still says that a teacher in a Catholic school can be sacked without redress for getting pregnant outside marriage. Contempt for poor children is thriving – one third of our children currently live in deprivation. If you think we don’t treat vulnerable children as “deterrents” any more, have a look at the system for asylum seekers. And of course, we’ve reverted to the use of mass emigration as the solution to our social problems. The past has yet to pass.
I hold no love for Congressman Eric Cantor who I have long viewed as a sleazy political whore only too willing to sell out to the ugliest elements in the GOP base. Thus, normally, I'd be happy to see him go down in electoral defeat. But today Cantor has apparently lost the GOP primary for his district to a Tea Party candidate who makes Cantor look not only sane but reasonable. Truly no one seems to have seen this coming, including his primary challenger David Brat who was out spent by Cantor many times over. With 94% of the precincts reporting, Cantor is down by more than 7000 votes. The take away for Democrats is that turning out their base in November is absolutely critical because the Republican base is like a bunch of rabid dogs that WILL turn out. Here are highlights from the Richmond Times Dispatch on today's surprising results:
Economist David Brat of Randolph-Macon College has upset House Majority Leader in a Republican primary, a stunning defeat for the veteran congressman who appeared next in line to become speaker of the House.
Brat, a professor with little name ID toppled a Republican titan who had not faced a close challenge since he was first elected in 2000.
Brat, dwarfed by Cantor in spending, drummed home the immigration issue, accusing the incumbent of favoring "amnesty" for illegal immigrants. Cantor denied the charge, saying only that children of illegal immigrants should not suffer because their parents brought them into the country.
A thunderous cheer went up at Brat's victory party at an office park in Glen Allen, when word reached people in the crowd that AP had called the contest.Brat does not want to speak publicly until he is absolutely sure, perhaps a sign that he is almost as shocked as Cantor must be.
The stormy Republican primary in the 7th District has exposed discontent among Republican Party activists and has drawn national attention. Immigration reform drew much debate during the contest that played out in voters’ mailboxes and through TV ads.
The winner of the primary will face Democrat John “Jack” Trammell.
Cantor held a massive cash advantage but Brat drew some star power, including talk radio host Laura Ingraham who held a rally for Brat in Cantor’s own backyard.
It’s one of the most stunning losses in modern House politics, and completely upends the GOP hierarchy in Virginia and Washington. Cantor enjoyed a meteoric rise that took him from chief deputy whip, to minority whip to majority leader in the span of 13 years. He had long been seen as John Boehner’s successor as speaker.
The loss will ripple across Washington, too: from political consultants who worked for Cantor to his aides who decamped for K Street, there will be reverberations.
There were warning signs that kept piling up. In April, Brat supporters vastly outnumbered Cantor allies at local GOP meetings. Then in May, tea party fueled activists knocked off Cantor’s choice for local GOP chair in Cantor’s home base of Henrico County. But Cantor’s aides consistently brushed off the challenge, telling reporters and fellow GOP aides that the contest didn’t merit the media coverage it was getting.
Brat severely trailed in fundraising, pulling in $200,000 this cycle compared to Cantor’s $2 million. But Cantor took the primary challenge seriously.