First Republican Primary “Debate” open thread

The “Phony Express” clip seems most appropriate here…dunno why…

If there’s enough alcohol on the planet, a couple people might take on the Alternet GOP drinking game, but — FAIR WARNING — if you do, you will die.

gopdrinkinggame

You have been warned!!

Here’s the deal:  All y’all are on your own for watching the Clown Car Clusterfuck, but please feel free to leave your in-the-moment thoughts and impressions in the comments section.  Sarcasm, temper tantrums, and snide comments are welcome — in fact, they’re encouraged!

Do your worst, my Critters and Zoosters, cuz you know the GOP clowns will be doing the same.

Hat tip to our EV for the Three Stooges idea!!

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, August 5th, 2015: What’s My Line/Lie?

A ThinkProgress thread from yesterday list the following eleven lies expected to be trotted out during tomorrow’s Republican 2016 Presidential Candidate debate:

“[Obamacare] has failed to accomplish its prime objective: Containing health care costs.”
(Piyush “Bobby” Jindal)

“We need a president who will finally act to secure the border after decades of failed leadership in Washington, D.C.” (Rick Perry)

“Planned Parenthood is possibly selling the body parts of the babies it has aborted.” (Ted Cruz)

“The satellite data demonstrate that there has been no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years.”
(Cruz, Trump, Scott Walker)

“Our biggest threat [in this country] is radical Islamic terrorism.”
(Walker, Jindal)

“Obama’s plan should be called the Costly Power Plan because it will cost hard-working Americans jobs and raise their energy rates.” (Walker)

“[Common Core is] a scheme to drive education curriculum from Washington, D.C.” (Jindal, Cruz, Huckabee)

“This is not a good deal, but a recipe for disaster and the first fateful step toward a frenzied nuclear arms race in the Middle East.” (Ben Carson, Chris Christie)

“Instead of a safety net to cushion our occasional falls, they have built a spider web that traps people in perpetual dependence.”
(JE Bush, Carson)

“It’s sad to see the Democrats take a horrific crime and try to use it as an excuse, not to go after people with serious mental illness or people who are repeat felons or criminals, but instead try to use it as an excuse to take away Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens.” (Cruz, Perry)

“Instead of fighting over the minimum wage, why don’t we focus on solutions that help every American earn his or her maximum wage.”
(Huckabee, Bush, Christie)

I expect that there will be a whole lot more bullshit, dog-whistle, chest-beating, wink-wink lines from this gaggle. What other talking-point lines do YOU expect to hear from each of them?

This is our daily Open Thread–have fun!

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 3, 2015: The Unhidden Racism of Donald Trump

Pelt-wearing Republican Presidential Wannabe Gadfly Donald Trump lent his voiceover talents to ABC’s This Week without George Stephanopoulos when he literally phoned in an interview with substitute host Jonathan Karl. Scrutiny was recently drawn to a tweet The Donald made last year about President Barack Obama. In it, he said, “Sadly, because President Obama has done such a poor job as president, you won’t see another black president for generations.” And there it is. Plain as day for anyone to see. Anyone, that is, except The Donald Himself. He seems to be of the belief that however Barack Obama’s performance may be, it will totally and exclusively reflect on any future African-American candidates for POTUS. If there were any validity to that, and if it was such a widely held belief among other conservatives, then why is Dr. Ben Carson running for POTUS (a decision the doctor himself has publicly questioned)? According to Trump, Obama has performed so badly that Carson could never get elected (much to the delight of Mrs. Ben Carson, who was looking forward to a nice, quiet retirement), and that it would be solely because of the color of his skin. FTR, by every account I can find, Dr. Ben Carson really was a brilliant pediatric neurosurgeon, and I never want to demean that accomplishment in any way. I do not claim that I could ever do anything of the sort, so I have nothing but respect and admiration for Dr. Carson’s medical career and accomplishments. It’s his viewpoints on things unrelated to medicine that concern me. But in no way, shape, or form, do I, or for that matter, almost all Liberals, think that Dr. Carson’s inability to be elected POTUS has anything to do with the color of his skin. It’s the fact that he’s a lunatic that makes him unqualified.

This idea Trump has, that there’s not only nothing wrong with judging a POTUS candidate by the color of his skin, but that it’s what everyone will do, is why racists often do not understand why they are racist. I think they honestly believe that everybody else sees the world as they do, so everybody in the world is as racist as they are (if they are at all), so what’s wrong with just saying what everybody’s thinking? I can field that one easily enough. We, the ones you hate so much because of the way we think, do not think the way you do. We do not look at someone’s skin color and decide everyone else just like him will be the same. What’s weird is that while this is exactly what you did in the case of Obama, you would never look at President George W. Bush, widely and accurately regarded as one of the worst presidents in our nation’s history, and say, “Sadly, because President Bush has done such a poor job as president, you won’t see another white president for generations.” You would never say it because for you, the accomplishments and failures of white people has nothing to do with the color of their skin. That only applies to People of Color in the minds of people who divide people by skin color – you know, racists.

KARL: So let me ask you about something you tweeted last year. You said of Barack Obama, “Sadly, because President Obama has done such a poor job as president, you won’t see another black president for generations.”

What did you mean by that?

TRUMP: Well, I think he’s been a very poor president. I think he has done a very poor job as president. We have $18 trillion right now in debt and going up rapidly.

KARL: But what did you mean? What —

TRUMP: Wait a minute.

The world is — we don’t have victories anymore. China is killing us on trade. Mexico’s killing us at the border and also killing us on trade. Mexico’s doing unbelievably against us in trade.

You look at what’s going on with Japan. You look at what’s going on with Vietnam. You look at Saudi Arabia, makes $1 billion a day and we defend them. We get nothing.

KARL: I understand your critique. But why do you say that means we won’t see another black president for generations?

TRUMP: Because I think that he has set a very poor standard. I think that he has set a very low bar and I think it’s a shame for the African American people.

And by the way, he has done nothing for African Americans. You look at what’s gone on with their income levels. You look at what’s gone on with their youth. I thought that he would be a great cheerleader for this country. I thought he’d do a fabulous job for the African American citizens of this country.

He has done nothing. They are worse now than just about ever and —

KARL: But —

TRUMP: — they are — excuse me. They have problems now in terms of unemployment numbers, look at their unemployment numbers. And you have — here you have a black president who’s done very poorly for the African Americans of this country.

And I think that I will win the African American vote and I think I will win the Hispanic vote. And if you see the recent polls that came out, Jon, you’ll see that because I’m leading in the Hispanic vote.

Naturally, because he had so many other important upon which he wanted to give quick questions for quick answers, he could not continue asking The Donald why he believes race is the sole determining factor for anybody’s assessment of a candidate? Instead, The Donald solidified his non-credentials to be the President of the United States. A longer version of teh trump Interview can be found here.

KARL: All right. We’re almost out of time. I want to go through a couple of lightning round, quick questions, to get a sense of what a Trump presidency would look like.

First of all, Supreme Court, who is your model for a Supreme Court nomination?

TRUMP: Well, I have a number of people that I like. But I will say this, when it comes to the Supreme Court, I’d want high intellect, and I’d want very conservative. I would like really high intellect and very conservative.

KARL: Would President Trump authorize waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques, even torture?

TRUMP: I would be inclined to be very strong. When people are chopping off other people’s heads and then we’re worried about waterboarding and we can’t, because I have no doubt that that works. I have absolutely no doubt.

KARL: You’d bring back waterboarding?

TRUMP: …you mention waterboarding, which was such a big subject. I haven’t heard that term in a year now, because when you see the other side chopping off heads, waterboarding doesn’t sound very severe.

KARL: OK. I want to get a sense of what a Trump cabinet looks like, so very quickly, throughout a couple of names: Secretary of State. Who can we see? Who would you consider?

TRUMP: I wouldn’t want to put any names out there right now. I think it’s far too early. I want to see. And I’m certainly looking at the field. And there are certainly some tremendous people that we could put in, but it would be somebody that’s very strong, very smart, and you know what else would be important, very energetic. You need a lot of energy.

KARL: Runningmate: Sarah Palin said some very nice things about you, you’ve said some nice things about her. Will you consider her as a possible runningmate?

TRUMP: Well, I don’t think she’d want to, because at the — the answer is — you know, I like Sarah Palin a lot. I think Sarah Palin has got the very unfair press. I think the press has treated her very unfairly. But I would pick somebody that would be a terrific — you know, you have to view it as really who would be a good president in case something happened. But I would — there are many, many people out there that I think would be very good.

KARL: OK. Last question very quickly, Reince Priebus, chairman of the party, has said that all candidates should pledge not to run as a third party if they don’t win the nomination. Will you take that pledge this morning? Will you pledge not to run as a third party candidate?

TRUMP: I will tell you this, I am leading in every poll, and in some cases by a tremendous margin, and people are a little bit surprised, but I’m not surprised. And people that know me aren’t surprised, because they see what’s going on with this country.

If I’m treated fairly by — and don’t win, but if I’m treated fairly by the Republican Party, I would have no interest in doing that. If I’m not treated fairly by the Republican Party, I very well might consider that. And I would certainly not give that up.

KARL: OK. Donald Trump, thank you for joining us.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Donald Trump, Ben Carson, other famous pelt wearers, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 27th, 2015: The (R) Debates

A little over a week from now, the first of the planned nine 2016 Republican Presidential debates, this one being held in Cleveland, Ohio, will kick off the start of the season. Fox will be airing the August 6th debate, which will be limited to the the top ten candidates, their inclusion being based on an average of several national polls.

Wait a second, that’s not exactly true. Fox will also air, prior to the ‘main event’, an hour-long debate amongst the second-tier candidates, according to AP via YahooNews. As of yesterday, those ‘also running’ will be: Carly “I tanked Hewlitt-Packard” Fiorina, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, Elmer “George” Pataki, Rick “Frothy” Santorum, Lindsey “The Vapors” Graham, and possibly John “Republicans don’t like to wait in line” Kasich, Chris “Sit down and shut up!” Christie, and Rick “Oops!” Perry.

A few excerpts from the article:

Frank Luntz:

“If you’re not on the stage [in the first-tier debate] you’re irrelevant, you don’t matter. Unless you have some serious ad dollars, it’s not a glass ceiling. It’s a concrete ceiling.”

Well, we all know that if there’s an election coming, Frank Luntz is always going to be involved.

Rick Perry:

“Perry unloaded on Wednesday when he called Trump’s campaign a “barking carnival act” and “toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense.”

OMG, I think that’s the one time we can all agree with Rick Perry on something!

Jindal campaign:

“Curt Anderson, a strategist advising Jindal’s campaign, wrote in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal that the Republican Party was sabotaging itself by controlling the debates too much, after concluding that marginal candidates dragged 2012 nominee Mitt Romney too far to the right.”

Now hold on there, Anderson, Romney wasn’t pulled ‘too far to the right’, he tanked his chances all by himself with his own words.

I think that both debates should be highly entertaining. However, one thing I’m wondering: with all of the recent racial issues that have occurred in Cleveland, in particular the “Black Lives Matter” conference and protest, during which a white cop decided to pepper-spray protesters, will ANY of the candidates be asked about race relations and/or police violence? I don’t know who the moderator will be in either debate, but if they’re airing on Fox…well, we’ll just have to see.

All I can say is, after the 25+ debates during the 2012 election season, I am SO glad that there’s only supposed to be nine this time!

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead, discuss things!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 25, 2015: We Told Us So

In January 2009, the Strategic Analysis Group, Homeland Environment and Threat Analysis Division of the Department of Homeland Security issued a report on Left Wing Extremism. The purpose of the report was to “to facilitate a greater understanding of the emerging threats to the United States. The information is provided to federal, state, and local counterterrorism and law enforcement officials so they may effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States.” It said that the primary concern over the next ten years would be non-violent cyber-terrorism targeting chiefly economic entities. The report clearly stated right at the beginning that it was one of a series of reports on threats to homeland security. Nobody appeared to pay it much attention. In fact, DHS had to remind people of its existence when they followed up three months later with a report on Right Wing Extremism. And in typical right wing fashion, Republicans and Conservatives went ape shit and bullied the DHS to retract the report (as if that would make the words in it go away.) Because that’s what bullies do – they scream and shout and stamp their feet and threaten violence if they don’t get their way. They mischaracterized the report’s recommendations in a number of ways. One was by taking the suggestion that disgruntled military veterans (note the word “disgruntled”) were prime recruiting targets for extremist groups looking to use violence. It did not in any way, shape or form say that ALL veterans were candidates for extremism, but that is how the right wing portrayed the report’s findings. They demanded an apology to veterans (which Secretary Napolitano eventually gave) even though she insulted none of them (except, perhaps, the extreme white nationalist, anti-immigration kind – IOW, people just like today’s Republican Party). And they demanded that the report, the one that said people just like them might resort to physical violence, go away because they said it wasn’t true. Except it was. And the fallout was that DHS eventually reduced to one person the number of people following left or right wing extremism in America. Way to keep us safe, Republicans.

The straw man argument is a tactic the right wing uses a lot in political discourse, especially when they’re wrong from the beginning. They made it seem as if the report was saying that every veteran returning from war was going to commit acts of terrorism. Nothing of the kind was true, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone with an IQ in the three-digit range. When the Affordable Care Act was being debated, the right decided that the section which said Medicare would pay for your doctor’s time to sit down with you and discuss your end-of-life options really amounted to a “Death Panel.” This, BTW, was one of several things they referred to falsely as a Death Panel – you and your doctor discussing what happens if you get a terminal illness. Another was a board that would look for ways to spend taxpayer money more effectively and efficiently. That was also a Death Panel. That there is nothing even remotely describing a Death Panel in the PP/ACA never once deterred them from saying there were several. In his dissent in the recent Obergefell v. Hodges decision, Justice Thomas said, “It appears all but inevitable that [civil marriage and religious marriage] will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.” Again, this is a straw man argument. In the first place, marriage in the United States is a civil arrangement, not a religious one. You can be married without it having any connection to any religion. (As in the case of my marriage by a Justice of the Peace at the restaurant where we held the reception.) Second, no individual has to participate in any wedding if he or she doesn’t want to participate. And third, in every state where marriage equality was enacted by a state legislature, an exemption was written into the law stating that no religious entity could be forced to perform a same-sex marriage if it violated their religious beliefs. Not one state was going to force churches to perform same-sex weddings if they thought gay sex was icky. Yet here’s Justice Thomas (who, BTW, ought to be removed from the bench for voting on issues before the court where he had a clear conflict of interest, such as one side paying his wife to be their advocate) claiming that churches were now going to be forced to participate in same sex weddings even if they don’t want to do it. Totally untrue. Conservatives seem to have a hard time with options. They act as if the choice to do something is equivalent to it being a government mandate to do that something. They have a binary way of thinking that tells them everything is one way or the other, there’s no in-between. Except life is filled with in-betweens and there’s rarely that many black-or-white, yes-or-no options. As former President George H.W. Bush once said, “Either you’re for it or you’re against it.” I forget what the “it” was but it makes no difference because that’s how the right feels about everything.

So because the right was all butthurt over the Right Wing Extremism report, they demanded that it not only be retracted, but that no further discussion of the subject by the government could take place. And so insufficient resources were devoted to tracking the rise of right wing extremism, and more and more people died as a consequence. The same month the report was released, Joshua Cartwright (who was “severely disturbed” that Barack Obama was elected president) shot and killed two sheriff’s deputies. The next month Scott Roeder (an anti-abortion extremist connected to the sovereign citizens movement) shot and killed Dr. George Tiller in the entrance to a church. The very next month James von Brunn (a neo-Nazi and white supremacist) walked up to the Holocaust Museum and shot and killed a guard. And the violence by right wing extremists continued month after month. Since the criminal attacks of 9/11 (they were crimes, not acts of war), anti-government, racist and non-jihadist extremists have killed nearly twice as many people as those by Islamic jihadists, yet the right would have you believe ISIS is more of a danger to us than they are. It is simply untrue. As this last Thursday showed.

John Russell Houser, who Little Green Footballs’ Charles Johnson described as “an anti-government loon who admired Adolph Hitler, Timothy McVeigh, white power groups, the Westboro Baptist Church and the “scientific racism” of Charles Murray’s “The Bell Curve,”” opened fire inside a Lafayette, LA, movie theater using a hand gun he legally purchased from a pawn shop, killing two women and injuring nine others. It’s exactly the kind of violent act our own government warned us was likely to happen. But did we listen? No. Even worse, the right wing told us to shut up and act like it couldn’t happen. Except it did. If only we had listened to ourselves.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the dangers of right wing extremism or any other topic you wish.

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 20th, 2015: Iran Nuclear Deal Fallout

Last week, it was announced that the long-awaited Iran Nuclear Deal was finally agreed to by the negotiating parties. The EU High Representative and the Iran Foreign Minister issued a joint statement, which included the following:

“With courage, political will, mutual respect, and leadership, we delivered on what the world was hoping for: a shared commitment to peace and to join hands in order to make our world safer.’

Apparently conservatives don’t understand most of the words and phrases in that statement. As we have seen throughout the Obama presidency, their idea of “negotiation” means “you give us everything we want, or else.” FoxNews gives a rundown on the ‘highlights'(?):

Jeb Bush: “This isn’t diplomacy – it is appeasement.”

Ted Cruz: This is a “fundamental betrayal of the security of the United States.”

Ben Carson: “A historic mistake with potentially deadly consequences.”

Scott Walker: “Will be remembered as one of America’s worst diplomatic failures.”
[According to Raw Story, Walker also stated that:

“He would terminate it as soon as possible and persuade U.S. allies to join Washington in imposing more crippling economic sanctions on Tehran…

He would dramatically increase U.S. military spending after budget cuts that military officials have complained about…

“The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in the face of our enemies,” Walker says.”]

Marco Rubio: The President made “concession after concession to a regime that has American blood on its hands.”

Now, the above presidential wannabes mainly focused their criticism on the ‘evil’ Iran, with a minor mention of our bestest friend ever in the whole wide world, Israel. Huckabee, on the other hand, is pretty much all Israel, with barely even a mention of OUR country, the United States.

Mike Huckabee: “Shame on the Obama administration…

“Shame on the Obama administration for agreeing to a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ and bring ‘death to America.’
John Kerry should have long ago gotten up on his crutches, walked out of the sham talks, and went straight to Jerusalem to stand next to Benjamin Netanyahu and declared that America will stand with Israel and the other sane governments of the Middle East instead of with the terrorist government of Iran.

As president, I will stand with Israel and keep all options on the table, including military force, to topple the terrorist Iranian regime and defeat the evil forces of radical Islam.”
[emphasis mine]

Mike, why don’t you just move to Israel and run for president there?   ‘Cause there will be no “As president” for you here.  You do realize that this agreement is about limiting Iran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon, not the unHoly war you’re salivating over.

Donald Trump: “Iran gets everything and loses nothing.”

[The Donald was also quoted by FoxBusiness as saying, without elaboration, “I think the deal is absolutely horrible for us, but it’s really, really bad for Israel”]

Rick Perry: If elected, I will “fully rescind this accord.”

“President Obama’s decision to sign a nuclear deal with Iran is one of the most destructive foreign policy decisions in my lifetime. For decades to come, the world will have to deal with the repercussions of this…”

Seriously, Rick? You think that signing a deal that means peace, that signals a willingness to negotiate instead of starting WWIII, is more destructive than deliberately and cavalierly lying our country into a wasteful quagmire of an unnecessary war?

Perry also stated: “As President, one of my first official acts will be to fully rescind this accord.”

There’s more, including comments from the lower-tier lineup of Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, and…wait, is that it? Oh, yeah, and Elmer Pataki. But there’s no need to continue wallowing in the their ignorance, I think you get the idea.

Do any of those responses reflect “courage, political will, mutual respect [or respect of any kind], and leadership”? I think it’s abundantly clear that the (R) presidential field has none of those qualities.

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 13, 2015: What Should Be Done About The Confederate Flag?

Charleston Conservative Examiner Kyle Rogers posted a column claiming Lynyrd Skynard fans were “outraged” after the band’s sole remaining original member, Gary Rossington, announced they would no longer display the Confederate Flag at their performances saying that they didn’t want to offend anyone. Since the author of that article referenced a CNN appearance by Rossington it’s safe to assume that part of the story is accurate. As for the rest? Well, it’s clear the author is not a journalist. He writes, “However, there is a growing outrage among fans. Many say they have attended Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts for decades, but will never buy a ticket again. Twitter and Facebook have exploded with condemnation. Many are now calling the band a “fake,” who just own the right’s to the original band’s name.” He does not include any examples, however. Nor does he provide any links to this so-called “outrage.” Nor does he know the difference between plurals and possessives or how to use the apostrophe correctly. But he is clearly upset that the Confederate Flag is being rejected once again.

And why shouldn’t it be? I’ve been trying to find what the justification for continuing to fly that flag is. I read a lot that it represents “Southern Pride” and “Southern Heritage,” but I’ve been having a hard time finding reliable definitions of those terms. I found this from a Texas Progressive who claims that this heritage is based on white supremacy. And considering that it took a century for black people to even have civil rights because of opposition from the former states of the Confederacy, and considering that many Southern states STILL don’t want black people to vote and have said as much, it’s hard to see anything noble about the Southern Cause. A pro-General Lee Civil War buff, Joe Ryan, opened his excellent timeline of debates in Congress that led to the Civil War with teh assertion that it was caused by Racism, “plain and simple.” I have not had the opportunity to research this further, but the author of this article says that many Northerners did not feel it was possible to live with black people, and actually wanted the slaves to be free but to stay in the South. He says that had more Northern Members of Congress supported the Abolitionists and spoken up about how to resolve the issue of ending Slavery, the war might have been avoided. I honestly don’t know what the truth is on that subject. But one thing that is indisputable is that the Confederate States of America fired upon the United States of America, and their flag is the flag of Traitors. It does not belong on the public property of the United States of America. Despite all the hysteria from the right (including Conservative Democrats), we are not looking to ban the flag outright. Our primary goal at this point is to eliminate the Confederate Flag from public property, except inside museums. I’m conflicted on allowing an exception to any actual Confederacy Museums our govt maintains. If there are any, a small replica of it on the front yard sign would be okay. But not an actual flag flying from a pole. Not on public property.

As for flying it on private property, I’ll fully support your right to do so when you admit to me that it stands for White Supremacy and Enslavement of Black People, because that is historically undeniable. I’m not at all sure what the “pride” and “heritage” of the South is that the flag is supposed to represent. If it’s all about manners and hospitality then, yeah, but only toward white people. Jim Webb, who wants to be the Democratic nominee for President, but who will likely get no further than the short list of VP running mates, thinks the talk of taking down the flag is an attack on “Southern White culture.” Some wavers of the Rebel Flag, like the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups, freely admit that’s why they fly it. I just want any other citizen who flies it to publicly admit they’re doing it for the same reason. Then I’ll exercise my First Amendment rights and tell them what idiotic assholes they are. And, yes, I’m prepared to die for saying it. As a nation, we need to stop treating every opinion as if it’s a valid one, worthy of respect. Even mine if you find no factual basis in it. But an opinion on what to do with the Confederate Flag (General Robert E. Lee said it belongs in a museum) means nothing if the person holding it believes Slavery had little or nothing to do with the Civil War, or that it was just a side issue. Because that is not an opinion based on facts.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to ridicule racist assholes who still fly the Confederate Flag, or anything you else you wish to discuss.