Saturday, February 6, 2016

Liz Cheney makes same mistake again

This isn't about politics.   It's about ridicule and Schadenfreude.

Four years ago, Dick Cheney's daughter, Liz, decided to run for the U. S. Senate against the well-liked incumbent, Republican senator from Wyoming, Mike Enzi.  The Cheneys came from Wyoming and dad Dick was once a congressman from there himself.   But Liz grew up in the Washington, DC area where her dad was in government.   She worked in government herself and has always lived in the DC suburb of Arlington, Virginia.

Still, four years ago, she sorta established residency in Wyoming by buying a house there -- just before she announced her campaign.  Then, as the campaign was getting started, she got bad publicity.   She thought it would help to get a Wyoming fishing license.

Wyoming has pretty strict residency requirements for regular hunting and fishing licenses, unlike the temporary ones out-of-staters can get.   So Liz filled out an application, claiming to be a resident, and put "10 years" in the box for how long.  Now this was a small town, and they knew damn well she had not lived there until a week or so ago, if at all.  So they denied her a resident's fishing license, saying she didn't meet the residency requirements. 

It was a big embarrassment.   Liz tried to blame the license clerk, but everybody knew she had lied.  So then, in an attempt to brand herself as a native and meet people, she took to going around the state in cowboy boots and Western attire, but that didn't take either.   She lagged way down in the polls and dropped out of the race before the primary to avoid a humiliating defeat.

That was four years ago.   Now Liz says she's going to run for congress to fill the seat of a retiring congressman from Wyoming.   The announcement was put on her Facebook page, which automatically posted the location from where it was posted:   Arlington, Virginia.

Oops !!!

Someone from Wyoming noticed  -- and now it's all over the news.   Once again Liz is getting off to a bad start with the Wyoming people over whether she qualifies as One of Them.

She doesn't.   Really.   And they know it.


The people speak their minds about gun control . . and politicians ignore them

Quoting from Jay Bookman's Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week about allowing guns on college campuses:
"In an AJC poll two years ago, Georgia voters were asked a question:  'Do you favor or oppose allowing students to carry guns on college campuses and in college dorms?'

"Just 20 percent supported allowing guns on campus; 78 percent opposed it. Seventy-one percent of Republicans opposed it; 71 percent of voters in North Georgia opposed it; more than 80 percent of those in South Georgia opposed it. Male, female, black, white, Republican, Democrat, urban, rural, old, young: Georgians overwhelmingly opposed it.

"Yet this week, House Republicans introduced legislation that would legalize firearms on campus anyway. House Bill 859 has already been embraced by House Speaker David Ralston, who argues that 'getting a college degree should not mean abdicating your Second Amendment rights.'"
Bookman points out that Ralston is an attorney and should know that, even in the 2008 Supreme Court decision that affirmed an individual right to own firearms, the author of the majority opinion, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, took the time to write in it this explicit clarification:
". . . nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on . . .  laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”
Thus, as recently as 2008, SCOTUS has said the Second Amendment does not give the right to carry any firearm just anywhere.  Bookman continues:
"So imagine if you’re a professor meeting a student angry about a grade, and the student shows up at your office with a sidearm. . . . Imagine that after a heated classroom discussion, one of the angry students shows up armed at the next scheduled class. . . .  neither the professor nor fellow students would have legal recourse to object. . . .

"In that same AJC poll, 82 percent supported requiring a gun-safety course as a condition of receiving a permit. . . .  Three bills creating such a system have been introduced in the current legislative session, but they are doomed. . . .  the odds of passage are about the same as a resolution making Barack Obama president for life."
*     *     *
It seems that conservative politicians absolutely lose their minds when it comes to guns.   Or maybe they don't lose their minds.   They know what they're doing is dangerous and wrong.   But the power of NRA money is just too much for them to resist

When those same people rant and rave about the sanctity of the Founding Fathers and their intent, someone should remind them that those wise men began our Declaration of Independence with "We the People."   Do you think they only meant the people who were living in 1776?   Doesn't the will of We, the Living People, count?

The sad thing is that in Georgia our legislative districts are so politically drawn that this saying is literally true:  "Voters no longer choose their representatives;   politicians choose their voters."    We need to get rid of the corrupting influence of money in politics;  and we need to have an independent, unbiased commission to draw up district lines.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Democratic debate: one of the best political debates . . . ever.

The best comment on the debate was what Senator Sanders said near the end, referring both to Secretary Clinton and himself:
"On our worst nights, I think it is fair to say, we are one hundred times better than any of the Republican candidates." 

Shkreli blows off congressional committee

[Note to readers:   The political scene is just too hot right now to take time out;  so I'm going to compromise.   For the next few days, I will post two articles each day, one political and one not.   So if you want to skip one or the other, just scroll down to the other.  Today, following this, there is a new article about the awful Ted Cruz and his dirty tricks"The Price of Assholery"] 

A smirking, eye-rolling Martin Shkreli took the 5th amendment at his subpoenaed appearance before a congressional committee hearing yesterday on pharmaceutical price gouging.   He spoke no words except to assert his right against self-incrimination, but he spoke plenty with his facial expressions, reacting with disdain and utter disrespect for committee members as they spoke throughout the hearing.
Photos by Getty Images  

Shkreli is the former pharmaceutical CEO who bought a company that manufactured a life-saving antiparasitic drug needed by AIDS patients and others -- then he hiked the price per dose from $13.50 to $700.00, which is over 5000%.  Of course, that is not illegal, but Shkreli showed the same reaction to criticism for that unconscionable decision as he showed here in the hearing.

He was arrested -- and is out on $5 million bail -- on unrelated charges of securities fraud for running what amounted to a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors in his other failing businesses. 

Shkreli's facial disdain for the proceedings got so extreme at one point that his lawyer tried to intervene, only to be shut down by the committee chair.    As if that weren't enough, Shkreli later tweeted:  "Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government."

Well, sometimes I feel the same way about Republican investigative committees, but I wouldn't want to find myself associated with this young man, who seems so intent on making himself the most hated man in America.


The real Ted Cruz 2: "The Price of Assholery"

"The Price of Assholery" is the title of a post from Josh Marshall, editor of, on Feb. 4, 2016.  Here's the gist of what he wrote: 
"It took a day or two for it to really crystallize for me. But has there ever been a candidate who not just won Iowa but won it unexpectedly and fairly decisively and yet got so little positive bump, momentum, attention or even simple human empathy because of it? The rather strong, though unstated assumption from the commentariat seems to be: Yeah, you won Iowa. Great. Good luck ever winning anywhere else."
The post-Iowa focus has been on Rubio's outperforming and Trump's under performing of expectations.   Rubio's star is rising, Trump's is maybe setting.   Even more, the post-Iowa focus on Cruz has been largely negative.

First there is the dirty tricks memo the Cruz campaign circulated just prior to the start of the caucuses, saying that Ben Carson is dropping out and asking his supporters to vote for Cruz.   This had been preceded by a letter that had gone out to a wide number of Iowans on what was intended to look like an official government letter, which was rather intimidating by citing how often each of them -- and their neighbors -- had voted in recent years.   It actually implied some vague sort of threat if they didn't go to the caucuses.   It was another blatant, dirty trick kind of fradulent effort to increase the numbers of votes for Cruz.

So there was that.   Then Rick Santorum pointedly endorsed Rubio, not Cruz, even though he is more ideologically aligned to Cruz's positions.   Tracking polls in New Hampshire show Trump holding on to his lead and Rubio and Cruz neck and neck for second place.   Ironically, it's Rubio, who finished third in Iowa, not the winner Cruz, who seems to be getting the bounce of our Iowa.

On top of that, at least one group of Christians is challenging Cruz's appropriating them as his base and attributing his win in Iowa to Christians.  The online goup "Faithful America," which is "the largest and fastest-growing online community of Christians putting faith into action for social justice," has put out a statement saying: 
"Our members are sick of sitting by quietly while Jesus' message of good news is hijacked by the religious right to serve a hateful political agenda. We're organizing the faithful to challenge such extremism and renew the church's prophetic role in building a more free and just society."
They did not name Ted Cruz specifically, but the shoe fits, as it does for most of the Republican agenda these days.    This sounds like a group that might lead the way toward reasserting the true values of the message of Jesus, thereby challenging the high-jacking of the mantle of "Christian" by the religious right -- when they do not deserve it.
It's not just Christian groups challenging them.   Jimmy Kimmel did a sketch with a man dressed to represent the usual image of Jesus of Nazareth speaking line after line of quotes from Republican politicians.    The irony of hearing these lines come from the teacher who emphasized feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, helping your neighbor, and taking in the stranger made for a very pointed message.

But lest we put this all on Ted Cruz, what are we to make of Rubio's headline grabbing statement about President Obama's visit to a mosque Wednesday, during which he denounced anti-Muslim rhetoric?    Rubio accused Obama of "pitting people against each other."   I don't quite get his point:   We should all be united in our bias and rejection of all Muslims?   Is that his point?

Let's not forget that, with the exception of Jeb Bush and John Kasich and Rand Paul, all of the others would probably agree with Rubio's statement.    So bring it on.   Let's show them in November that it is the Democrats who represent the values and the positions of the Christians, the Muslims, the Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and the atheists and agnostics as well.

The Republican agenda is, in the words of a blogger on Daily Kos, "the coalition of cruelty."  And I don't know any recognized religion that is based on cruelty as its central tenet.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

The real Ted Cruz is beginning to leak through . . . with consequences

OK, so this is more politics.  But it can't wait.

We've long known that Ted Cruz is a mean snake, albeit a smart one.   But his slick manner, which has always seemed slimey to me, apparently fools a lot of people, particularly conservative evangelicals.    Maybe because so many of their preachers have this same inauthentic public persona, while having a hidden dark side that often gets them in trouble.

In the Iowa caucus, a story surfaced that the Cruz campaign had spread a false rumor that Ben Carson was leaving the race, and the Cruz people were asking for his supporters to vote for Cruz.   This was an email notice that went out to people just before their caucuses started on Monday night.

They really did intentionally spread a false rumor;  but at first Ted Cruz apologized to Carson and claimed that they were just passing on a news report that they claimed came from CNN.   Now it turns out there is a lot more to this story.

First, CNN has strongly denied that they said Carson was getting out of the race, but only that he was going home to Florida before going on to New Hampshire and South Carolina.   Rachel Maddow reported tonight on MSNBC that Carson's wife had come to Iowa and was in one of the caucuses, where a Cruz representative had earlier told the group there that Carson was dropping out and asked for their votes.    Mrs. Carson had to stand up and correct this misinformation.

Other caucus goers have said that they received this Cruz email just before the caucuses began -- and that the Cruz campaign did not sent out a correction after the Carson campaign told the Cruz people directly that the rumors were incorrect.

So, even if we grant that it was "an honest mistake," which it most certainly was not, there is no excuse for not trying to undo the damage by sending out a correction.

So, yes, Ted Cruz's mean, unlikeable side is showing through the pious slime.   Conservative evangelicals do like their "repentant bad boys," but I don't think they will like this kind of abject sleeziness -- especially against the nice-guy evangelicals' other favorite, Ben Carson.

Having gotten only 1% of the caucus vote in Iowa, the state he won four years ago, Rick Santorum ended his campaign -- and endorsed Marco Rubio.   One might have expected he would throw his support to Cruz, given their similar hard right, evangelical appeal.   Is this just a personal preference?   Or is Santorum sending a message to the right wing voters?

And, in fact, the first post-caucus national poll is out tonight from Public Policy Polling, one of the more respected polls.   It is not good news for Cruz or Trump.   Trump's lead is down and Cruz and Rubio are now tied for second nationally.   Here's the breakdown:

25%     Trump                       
21%     Cruz        
21%     Rubio         
11%     Carson     
   5%    Bush, Kasich, and Paul
   3%    Christie and Fiorino

Since the last PPP poll in mid-December, Trump has dropped from 34% (loss of 9%), Cruz has gone up from 18% (gain of 3%), and Rubio is up from 13% (gain of 8%).   Carson is up from 6% (gain of 5%).


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Four scenarious for the GOP Iowa caucuses

About a week ago, Nate Silver, the genius of political predictions, outlined four possible outcomes -- "Roads out of Iowa" -- for the Republican Iowa caucuses and what each will mean going forward for the party establishment.   I'll summarize the first three.

Road No. 1Trump beats Cruz, and Rubio does well.
This is the one the Republican establishment would prefer.  It would essentially knock Cruz out of the running, making a two-man race between Trump and Rubio.   Then they would work to coalesce around Rubio as "the savior" from the Trump/Cruz crowd. 

Road No. 2:   Trump beats Cruz, and Rubio does poorly.   If this happened, the party elites might try to coalesce around another -- Bush, Kasich, or Christie -- in New Hampshire.   Or they might begin to capitulate toward Trump, thinking him unstoppable.

Road No. 3Cruz beats Trump, and Rubio does poorly.  This would be a big problem for the Republican elites, because their hope was for a good showing from Rubio to stop Cruz.  In this scenario, they're left with both Trump and a stronger Cruz, without the savior they were hoping for in Rubio.

And the winner is: 

Road No. 4Cruz beats Trump, and Rubio does well.   I'll quote Nate's reasoning in full, since it turned out to be right one.

"If both Cruz and Rubio have strong nights in Iowa, however, the meaning is clearer: Trump didn’t live up to the hype. There would be questions about whether Trump’s support in polls was a mirage to begin with, whether it had collapsed at the last minute because of voter dissatisfaction with his having skipped the Republican debate, or whether his lack of a turnout operation had foiled him. Those questions would be important for determining whether Trump had a chance to recover in New Hampshire. But in terms of the media narrative, they’d all be variations on the theme that Trump had gone bust.

"In some ways, the Republican primary might even start to look fairly conventional. An 'outsider' candidate with evangelical support would have won Iowa. A couple of 'insider' candidates would be looking to emerge out of New Hampshire, with Rubio having a leg up because of his strong Iowa showing. Trump wouldn’t necessarily disappear — the media will keep writing him into the plot so long as he is willing — but it might be as more of a Newt Gingrich-esque sideshow, a candidate who wins a few states here and there but has little chance of commanding a majority. If we enter Iowa in a Trumpnado and exit it with what seems to be a fairly normal Republican race, that might be the biggest surprise of all."
Now, enough about Iowa . . . and about the election for a few days.   New Hampshire is just a week away though.


PS:   The final tally on the Democratic  side keeps narrowing.   The latest as of midnight on Tuesday is that Clinton's lead was not 0.3% but 0.2%.  And now we hear that some of the precinct caucuses were absolute ties and had to be decided by a coin toss.    So it seems a bit overdone for Hillary Clinton to keep making so much out of "winning" Iowa.