The Moderate Voice http://themoderatevoice.com An Internet hub with domestic and international news, analysis, original reporting, and popular features from the left, center, indies, centrists, moderates, and right Fri, 28 Aug 2015 07:14:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Denial Won’t Defeat Trump http://themoderatevoice.com/208208/denial-wont-defeat-trump/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208208/denial-wont-defeat-trump/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 06:54:54 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208208 WASHINGTON — I know you haven’t heard enough about Donald Trump recently, so here’s more: At this point, anyone who says he can’t win the Republican nomination is in deep denial. Trump announced his candidacy on June 16 and immediately vaulted into the top tier of candidates. On July 14, a USA Today poll put [...]

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WASHINGTON — I know you haven’t heard enough about Donald Trump recently, so here’s more: At this point, anyone who says he can’t win the Republican nomination is in deep denial.

Trump announced his candidacy on June 16 and immediately vaulted into the top tier of candidates. On July 14, a USA Today poll put Trump in the lead by three points — and he has led every survey since. A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday said he had the support of 28 percent of GOP voters — which is huge in a field this big.

The new poll gave trump a 16-point lead over his nearest competitor, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Jeb Bush, whom Trump has begun describing as a “low-energy person” — and who campaigns at times as if he were the nominee of destiny — stood at a measly 7 percent. Yikes.

That jolt you felt Thursday morning wasn’t an earthquake, it was the detonation of the Quinnipiac bomb.

The Republican establishment seems to be slowly going through Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief, with many politicians and pundits unable to get past the first: denial.

When it became clear that Trump could not be ignored, party leaders and conservative columnists looked hard for evidence that the combed-over mogul’s political ascendancy was bound to fizzle. The establishment didn’t search at all for signs that it might be deeper and more lasting — forgetting an elementary rule of social science, which is that what you look for sets the parameters of what you’ll find.

So the lords of the GOP counted all the ways that Trump was unlike a traditional politician and decided he would soon be toast. He didn’t issue long, turgid position papers that no one would read. His rhetoric was miles over the top. He used to be a Democrat. He picked fights with a venerated senator and, worse, a Fox News anchor. There was no way this guy couldn’t fail.

But Trump’s numbers in the polls have gone steadily up. And if you add his numbers in the Quinnipiac survey to Carson’s, you see that a full 40 percent of Republican voters want their party to nominate for president someone who has never run for office before, let alone held it.

This ought to be enough to shock most of the party establishment into Kubler-Ross’ second stage: anger.

Some of our more perspicacious conservative observers have been in stage two for a while, and it’s producing some terrific prose. My favorite so far is the opening line of my colleague George F. Will’s column this week: “Every sulfurous belch from the molten interior of the volcanic Trump phenomenon injures the chances of a Republican presidency.”

I’m guessing the party establishment doesn’t ever want to get to the next stage of grief — bargaining — because the guy who would be on the other side of the negotiating table wrote “The Art of the Deal.” And I’m sure they never want to experience the final two stages: depression and acceptance.

But Trump is leading in the early-state polls. He can avoid one of the biggest expenses of running for president — buying television ads — since he gets 24/7 media coverage for free. Instead, he can use his cash to build state-level campaign organizations and keep gassing up his 757.

What if he were to win in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina? Who could stop him then? And how?

If the Republican establishment is going to defeat Trump, it first has to understand why he and Carson are doing so well. It is simply political malpractice not to take this outsider phenomenon seriously.

We get it, Jeb Bush, that you think it’s unbelievable these guys are beating you. Now deal with it. I don’t think pointing out the myriad flaws and injustices in Trump’s immigration proposals will get you very far. He’s doing a better job of selling his ridiculous, impossible ideas than you are of selling your sensible, practical solutions. And stop trying to convince voters that you, like Trump, are “tough” on immigration. Say what you believe, not what you think people want to hear. And work on that “low-energy” thing.

At present, Bush does seem to be emerging as the anti-Trump. But you can’t beat somebody with nobody. Much of what Trump says may be appalling, but he’s definitely somebody — and no one else in the field has achieved that distinction.

Eugene Robinson’s email address is eugenerobinson@washpost.com.

Photo by Michael Vadon [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Cartoons: NRA and Gun Violence http://themoderatevoice.com/208206/cartoons-nra-and-gun-violence/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208206/cartoons-nra-and-gun-violence/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 06:42:59 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208206 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Why Challenging Trump’s Misogyny Will Backfire http://themoderatevoice.com/208103/challenging-trumps-misogyny-will-backfire/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208103/challenging-trumps-misogyny-will-backfire/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 22:29:02 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208103 Amanda Marcotte explains on Talking Points Memo. Conservative media and Fox News in particular have spent years – decades, if you count talk radio – training their audiences to believe that exhortations against sexism and racism are nothing but the “political correctness” police trying to kill your good time. Indeed, one reason that Trump was [...]

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Amanda Marcotte explains on Talking Points Memo.

Conservative media and Fox News in particular have spent years – decades, if you count talk radio – training their audiences to believe that exhortations against sexism and racism are nothing but the “political correctness” police trying to kill your good time. Indeed, one reason that Trump was able to get so much attention for his presidential run in the first place is that Fox has spent years building him up, knowing that their audience enjoys vicariously needling imagined liberals and feminists with his loud-mouthed insult comic act.

 

As Jill Filipovic as Cosmopolitan recently explained in a feature piece about the conservative website Twitchy, there are entire sectors of the conservative media dedicated to getting the audiences to spend all day and night trying to piss off liberals, believing themselves to be courageous freedom fighters against the P.C. police. Women, in particular, are favorite targets. There’s apparently no getting tired of the pleasure of feeling naughty because you say mean things about women and racial minorities for conservative audiences.

 

Well, conservative media built Twitchy Nation, and now it looks like they have to live in it. You can’t tell people, day in and day out, that nothing is more fun than putting some mouthy broad in her place and then get upset when they continue to think it’s fun, even when the mouthy broad is one of yours.

 

“Bossy” women are treated, in conservative media, like the great Darth Vaders of the world who need to be harassed and resisted and abused at all costs. Of this, there can be no doubt. Michelle Obama started a program to encourage exercise and healthy eating, and conservative media reacted like she was holding a gun to your dog’s head and telling you to eat broccoli or the pooch gets it. The news that women sometimes make more money than their husbands was treated like a national emergency on Fox, with Lou Dobbs suggesting that “society” is “dissolv[ing] around us” and Erick Erickson arguing that women’s inability to stay in our place is “tearing us apart.” The possibility of women being Army Rangers has created a similar meltdown at the network, with Andrea Tantaros whining, “men can’t have anything to themselves anymore.”

 

Hell, this is a network where a man literally told a female host, “Know your role and shut your mouth.”

 

The position at Fox News and elsewhere in the conservative media on women who talk back to men, or even just have the power to talk back to men, is not obscure or confusing. They are to be put in their place, with a vengeance. Any woman who has been targeted the right wing flying monkeys of Twitter can attest to how well the audiences have absorbed this lesson. Screaming at bitches who don’t know their place is both a sacred cause and just a rowdy good time, in right wing circles.

 

And if you push back and criticize that behavior? That’s treated as an invitation to double down.

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

http://thesensiblecentercom.blogspot.com/2015/08/why-challenging-trumps-misogyny-will.html

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Movie review: Flee from ‘No Escape’ http://themoderatevoice.com/208199/movie-review-flee-from-no-escape/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208199/movie-review-flee-from-no-escape/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 20:12:14 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208199 If you’ve really been wanting to see endless shots of Owen Wilson running, sometimes while carrying a medium-sized child, the thriller “No Escape” might be just for you. Those looking for nuanced screenplays, believable characters, and movies that don’t feature the offhand dismissal of hundreds of people being brutally killed, might want to go elsewhere. [...]

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If you’ve really been wanting to see endless shots of Owen Wilson running, sometimes while carrying a medium-sized child, the thriller “No Escape” might be just for you. Those looking for nuanced screenplays, believable characters, and movies that don’t feature the offhand dismissal of hundreds of people being brutally killed, might want to go elsewhere. Yes,…

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Immigration Questions That Democrats Should Answer http://themoderatevoice.com/208166/immigration-questions-that-democrats-should-answer/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208166/immigration-questions-that-democrats-should-answer/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 20:00:18 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208166 Republicans are being grilled about immigration. Democrats need to be grilled as well. If Americans are going to have a debate about immigration, then Democrats need to contribute by answering a few questions. Here they are. 1) Do you always support the rule of law? 2) If your answer to Question #1 is No, then [...]

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US border notice

Republicans are being grilled about immigration. Democrats need to be grilled as well.

If Americans are going to have a debate about immigration, then Democrats need to contribute by answering a few questions. Here they are.

1) Do you always support the rule of law?

2) If your answer to Question #1 is No, then what standard do you use to determine whether or not you will support the rule of law?

3) Do you support the rule of law in regards to the USA’s immigration laws?

4) Regarding adult immigrants who are in the USA illegally, do you want them to get away with violating the USA’s immigration laws?

5) Do you support the US government giving some kind of punishment to adult immigrants who are violating the USA’s immigration laws?

6) If a wall all along the northern side of the US-Mexican border were to be effective in preventing people from entering the USA illegally, then would you be in support of such a wall existing?

7) If you had friends and/or relatives living in a nation other than the USA, and if they wanted to enter the USA legally but were prevented from doing so, then would you approve of them entering the USA illegally?

8) If you currently have friends and/or relatives who are in the USA illegally, then do you condone their being in the USA illegally?

9) Do you believe that the USA’s current immigration laws are unfair?

10) It is right for one to ignore laws that one believes are unfair?

Adult immigrants who are in the USA illegally could not remain in the USA illegally if they did not have enablers who reside in the USA legally. The above-state questions are written so as to find out which Americans are enablers and which aren’t.

It should be noted that not all such enablers are Democrats.

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This post sponsored by . . .

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Faces of the Fallen http://themoderatevoice.com/208192/faces-of-the-fallen/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208192/faces-of-the-fallen/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 19:44:32 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208192 It has been a while since we received a “casualties report” from what now seems to be the forgotten war, over in that place called Afghanistan. And when we do it is a short, terse announcement such as the one below: DoD Identifies Air Force Casualties The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of [...]

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Afghanistan two airmen killed

It has been a while since we received a “casualties report” from what now seems to be the forgotten war, over in that place called Afghanistan.

And when we do it is a short, terse announcement such as the one below:

DoD Identifies Air Force Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two airmen who were supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. They died of wounds suffered Aug. 26 when the vehicle they were traveling in was attacked near Camp Antonik, Afghanistan.

Killed were:

Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, of Lexington, Kentucky. He was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, of Pensacola, Florida. He was assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina.

For more information, media may contact the Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office at 850-884-5515.

But this time, the U.S. Air Force immediately followed up with a separate announcement that included the photos of the two fallen.

AFgha Sgt. Sibley

Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley (Courtesy photo)

Afghanistan Capt Roland

Capt. Matthew D. Roland(Courtesy photo)

What makes this tragedy even worse is that it once again could be one of those so-called insider attacks as the lone gunman was dressed in an Afghan security forces uniform. Other reports claim there were two attackers. An investigation is underway.

The Stars and Stripes:

If the investigations determine the shootings were the result of an insider attack, it will have been the third such attack against American and NATO troops since the end of the coalition’s combat mission last year.
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In April, Army Spc. John Dawson was killed and eight other soldiers were wounded when an Afghan soldier opened fire on American troops in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. Dawson was the first U.S. military fatality since the end of NATO’s combat mission.
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In January, three American contractors were shot and killed by an Afghan soldier at the coalition’s compound at Kabul airport.

Tragedies like these remind us — in the midst of our political debates and “drama” — that our troops are still fighting and dying in faraway places and that we still have 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan “training and advising Afghan national security forces, as well as conducting a counterterrorism mission.”

Let us keep them in our minds and prayers.

The U.S. Air Force announcement:

HURBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFNS) — Two special tactics Airmen, who were deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, were killed near Camp Antonik, Afghanistan, Aug. 26.

Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, and Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, were at a vehicle checkpoint when two individuals wearing Afghan National Defense and Security Forces uniforms opened fire on them. NATO service members returned fire and killed the shooters.

“The losses of Matt and Forrest are a terrible blow to everyone who knew them,” said Col. Wolfe Davidson, the 24th Special Operations Wing commander. “These two combat controllers were incredible warriors who not only volunteered to join our nation’s special operations forces, but earned their way to the tip of the spear in defense of our nation.”

Roland was a special tactics officer at the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron here. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2010. Upon completing the rigorous STO training program in 2012, he was a team leader who supervised real-world combat preparedness training of a 35-member team. He deployed three times in his five years of service to multiple locations around the globe. He is survived by his parents.

Sibley was a combat controller at the 21st STS, Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina. He was a four-time Bronze Star medal recipient, once with the valor device, and he deployed four times to sensitive locations around the world in his nearly seven years of service. He is survived by his parents.

Due to their extensive special operations training, both were military qualified static line jumpers, free fall jumpers, combat scuba divers and qualified in joint terminal attack control.

Special tactics Airmen integrate, synchronize, control air and space power to enable global access, precision strike and personnel recovery for special operations.

“The risks that these men and their teammates endured in combat and in training are all too well known to the special tactics community, but it does not make this great loss any easier to bear,” Davidson said. “We will honor Matt and Forrest for the legacy they left behind, embrace their families as our own, and thank them eternally for their ultimate sacrifice for American freedom.”

The 21st and 23rd STS fall under the 720th Special Tactics Group, 24th SOW, the only wing solely dedicated to special tactics in the Air Force.

May God bless these heroes and our prayers are with their families.

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Cartoon: Planned Parenthood http://themoderatevoice.com/208195/cartoon/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208195/cartoon/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 19:25:53 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208195 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

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Modern Medicine And Return On Investment http://themoderatevoice.com/208186/modern-medicine-and-return-on-investment/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208186/modern-medicine-and-return-on-investment/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 18:18:24 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208186 Just to be clear my living will calls for enough opiates to make final final days or months comfortable with limited medical interventions.  My late father had multiple medical interventions in the final decade of his life which for the most part only resulted in a hell on earth.  My late uncle had lung cancer [...]

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shutterstock_184787189Just to be clear my living will calls for enough opiates to make final final days or months comfortable with limited medical interventions.  My late father had multiple medical interventions in the final decade of his life which for the most part only resulted in a hell on earth.  My late uncle had lung cancer which had spread to his spine.  He had 100s of thousands of dollars in chemo therapy which also resulted in a hell on earth in his final years. He eventually died from multiple organ failures as a result of the chemo therapy.  The one thing that is missing from US healthcare is an analysis of return on investment.

A study published Thursday in JAMA Oncology aims to answer that question by examining necitumumab, an experimental lung cancer drug made by Eli Lilly & Co. The drug isn’t approved yet, and Eli Lilly has not set a price. But there is data on how well it works: in a clinical trial, researchers found that adding the drug to chemotherapy extended life by 1.6 months, on average, for patients with a dire prognosis — a type of non-small cell lung cancer that has spread.

In order to estimate what the price of this drug “should” be based on its value to patients, the research team modeled various scenarios. Generally, economists suggest that one additional year in perfect health in the U.S. is worth somewhere between $50,000 and $200,000 a year. Although patients taking necitumumab lived longer, people with advanced cancer often have a lower quality of life than healthy people and the researchers took that into consideration.

With a limited healthcare budget should we really be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep someone in their late 80 s alive for a few more months especially if their quality of life is reduced?

“Currently, the prices of cancer drugs are increasing, and the prices are not linked to the benefit that the drug provides,” Daniel Goldstein, an oncologist at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University who led the study, said in an e-mail.

“We propose that drugs that provide a minimal benefit should have a low price, while drugs that provide a major benefit should have a high price. This method of value based pricing will financially incentivize researchers and industry to develop truly game-changing innovations.”

I think the same applies to cardiovascular medical interventions for those in their late 80 s and 90 s.  My late father may have lived longer but did he really live.  I’m not so sure.

Image via Shuterstock

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Undercover Planned Parenthood Videos Were Altered, Analysis Finds http://themoderatevoice.com/208188/undercover-planned-parenthood-videos-were-altered-analysis-finds/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208188/undercover-planned-parenthood-videos-were-altered-analysis-finds/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 18:10:39 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208188 Appearance may not always equal reality, particularly when it comes to 21st century politics and the way the new media and political media that can mean big bucks, hits, and political gain operate. The New York Times: Planned Parenthood on Thursday gave congressional leaders and a committee that is investigating allegations of criminality at its [...]

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Appearance may not always equal reality, particularly when it comes to 21st century politics and the way the new media and political media that can mean big bucks, hits, and political gain operate. The New York Times:

Planned Parenthood on Thursday gave congressional leaders and a committee that is investigating allegations of criminality at its clinics an analysis it commissioned concluding that “manipulation” of undercover videos by abortion opponents make those recordings unreliable for any official inquiry.

“A thorough review of these videos in consultation with qualified experts found that they do not present a complete or accurate record of the events they purport to depict,” said the analysis of a private research company.

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, underscored that message in a cover letter to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker John A. Boehner, both Republicans, and to Senator Harry Reid and Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leaders.

Shortly after release of the analysis, the anti-abortion group responsible for the videos dismissed the attempted debunking as “a complete failure,” and attributed gaps identified in the videos to “bathroom breaks and waiting periods.”

With Mr. Boehner’s urging, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July opened an investigation of Planned Parenthood after the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group, began posting online secretly recorded videos that the center claims show Planned Parenthood affiliates illegally profit from selling tissue from aborted fetuses to researchers and, in some late-term abortions, prevent a possible live birth.

Planned Parenthood denies the charges, and says that the videos were deceptively and misleadingly edited.

The analysis was by Fusion GPS, a Washington-based research and corporate intelligence company, and its co-founder Glenn Simpson, a former investigative reporter for The Wall Street Journal.

Of course, this doesn’t mean all of the comments by Planned Parenthood officials were false, but alterting interviews in this kind of serious case when it’s used is a political tool is a no no and makes the accuracy of what was put out there originally questionable.

But in 21sts century politics, facts simply do NOT matter.

It’s all about either repeating a political mantra over and over again (like Lucy in Peanuts insisting snow comes up from the ground) or ignoring any new facts that question or negate what has been presented as facts.

It’s about getting something to use as bludgeon to bring about a kind of change. Facts simply don’t matter, saying it, showing it and then acting in-your-face-I-won’t-back-down-no-matter-what-you-show-me-or-say does.

Which partially explains Donald Trump’s appeal (to certain people).

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New Poll: Biden is more competitive in general election than Hillary Clinton http://themoderatevoice.com/208183/new-poll-biden-is-more-competitive-in-general-election-thatn-hillary-clinton/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208183/new-poll-biden-is-more-competitive-in-general-election-thatn-hillary-clinton/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 17:20:43 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208183 A new poll shows Vice President Joe Biden would do better in the general election than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It should help spur on the nervous Democrats who feel a)Hillary Clinton is not a stellar candidate, b)they’d be better off going with Joe Biden who has carved out a favorable image c)Clinton’s [...]

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A new poll shows Vice President Joe Biden would do better in the general election than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It should help spur on the nervous Democrats who feel a)Hillary Clinton is not a stellar candidate, b)they’d be better off going with Joe Biden who has carved out a favorable image c)Clinton’s problem is that some don’t trust her and her honesty while Biden’s problem isn’t trust but at times being a little too honesty verbally.

Here’s one more reason to continue speculating about whether Vice President Joe Biden will enter the presidential race: he polls better nationally against the leading three Republican candidates than Hillary Clinton, and has a higher favorability rating, too.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, if Biden was the democratic candidate, he would beat Donald Trump by eight points (48 – 40 percent), former Florida Governor Jeb Bush by six points (45 – 39) and Senator Marco Rubio by three points (44 – 41). Clinton only beats Trump by four points (45 – 41), Bush by two points (42 – 40) and Rubio by one point (44 – 43).

Eighty-three percent of Democrats view Biden favorably, compared to 76 percent and 54 percent who approve of Clinton and Vermont Senator Sanders, respectively. Among all registered voters, Biden has a 48 percent favorability rating, while Clinton came in at 39 percent and Sanders at 32 percent.

“Note to Biden: They like you, they really like you, or they like you more than the others,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a press release accompanying the poll. “If he is sitting on the fence, his scores in the matchups and his favorability ratings may compel him to say, ‘Let’s do this.’”

The good news for Clinton is that she’s still leading the race to become the Democratic nominee—45 percent of Democrats polled would choose Clinton as the party nominee, 22 percent would choose Sanders and 18 percent would choose Biden. No other Democrat polls above 1 percent.

Unlike many pundits, I know punditry is partially informed guesswork and political intuition. If I had to predict now, I’d predict that at the last minute Biden does not run.

A new CNN story says Biden isn’t sure he has the “emotional fuel” to run. He or she who ISN’T SURE about having the emotional fuel is setting he or she and his or her family up for a tough nearly two years.

On the other hand, concerned Democrats and his late son reportedly urging him to run could tilt it the other way. I suspect in the end, he won’t. If you don’t sense the fuel and know how it works, it can be daunting.

UPDATE:
And he isn’t sure his family wants him to run.
graphic via shutterstock.com

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Why America Needs Worker Co-Ops More Than Ever http://themoderatevoice.com/208177/why-america-needs-worker-co-ops-more-than-ever/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208177/why-america-needs-worker-co-ops-more-than-ever/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:27:14 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208177 America is no longer a representative democracy—a fact underscored by decades of grotesque and steadily worsening economic inequality and an election process that depends more on wealthy donors than on an informed electorate. Case in point: the middle class has been shrinking for decades and is now in the process of disappearing altogether. Since 1979, [...]

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America is no longer a representative democracy—a fact underscored by decades of grotesque and steadily worsening economic inequality and an election process that depends more on wealthy donors than on an informed electorate.

Case in point: the middle class has been shrinking for decades and is now in the process of disappearing altogether. Since 1979, 90 percent of the economically-challenged have lost money each year, while the wealthiest 10 percent have posted huge gains, according to Forbes (and any reputable economist). The American dream is all but dead for the vast majority of us, with 1% of the population controlling 43% of the nation’s wealth.

Self-determination in the workplace could be one of the keys we need to empower and grow the working class in our nation and re-igniting the American dream. And worker-owned cooperatives could be the match that lights that flame.

The average annual income of the top 1 percent of Americans is $717,000, while the average income of the rest of us is $51,000 annually. That 1 percent of the population has a net worth that averages around 70 times the net worth of the other 99 percent of us. Americans used to believe that anyone could become part of the wealthy 1 percent simply by working harder and longer (some misguided souls still believe this in the year 2015). Increasingly, most realize that notion is no longer a reality in the United States of America.

The unequal distribution of wealth is at the core of many of our Nation’s social issues. We cannot survive as a democratic union if the majority of our citizens have become disenfranchised and disengaged from society. With more people voting for American Idols than American Presidents these days, it looks like we’re already headed down that road, our dreams of upward mobility and class-equality out the window along the way.

America was meant to be a land of endless possibilities and self-determination. This country was established to give religious and economic freedom to its citizenry. Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, and other signers of the Declaration of Independence knew their proclamations would mean very little without economic freedom. Money is and always has been a major part of the “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that was promised to Americans. Worker-owned companies can fulfil that promise.

Rather than waiting for wealth to “trickle down” to 99 percent of our citizens, we need to generate greater income for everyone willing to work reasonable hours to attain it. This can be accomplished through worker ownership. When companies are run by the people that work there, wealth is automatically re-distributed to those that earn it. Worker-owned companies have an incentive to succeed in the long-term rather than just profit in the short-term, as the business model of today demands. And this is just the time to do it, too; the middle class seems to be rallying slightly, with foreclosures in 2014 hitting the lowest levels since 2006, despite some horror stories from certain parts of the country. It’s time to harness the momentum of our economy’s modest but encouraging growth and help the middle class rise to their potential.

Even Ronald Reagan, renowned conservative and hero to the Republican right, believed in the power of worker-owned companies. In 1987 Reagan said:

“I can’t help but believe that in the future we will see in the United States and throughout the Western world an increasing trend toward the next logical step, employee ownership. It is a path that befits a free people.”

When short-term return on investment is a business’s only goal, the rich become richer and the poor become poorer, which is exactly what’s been happening in America for half a century. The business model of 2015 calls for wealthy investors to become even wealthier by buying successful companies, pillaging their assets, and promptly closing them to realize huge profits. This is bad for workers, bad for communities, and it contributes to economic inequality by concentrating wealth in the hands of just a few. In America today, you can’t borrow money unless you don’t need it and you can’t make money if you don’t have it to invest. It’s the very worst example of a Catch-22, and we’ve decided to let it dictate how our economy and government operate.

So maybe it’s time to take a look at the alternative.

Worker co-ops are businesses that are owned and operated by the people who work there, and they’re an important step in bridging the gap between the rich and poor in the America of today. Rather than squeezing a business dry to benefit a few wealthy investors, worker-owned businesses benefit the many by focusing on long-term growth and stability, in the same way that real estate investors position themselves to realize growth long-term. The workers/owners are invested in the local community where they work and live and are financially rewarded when the business succeeds and survives. That is good for workers and businesses and it benefits Main Street over Wall Street.

Last year Senator Bernie Sanders wrote “An Agenda for America” that included a proposal for worker cooperatives to increase job creation and productivity. “Instead of giving huge tax breaks to corporations which ship our jobs to China,” Sanders proposes to instead “provide assistance to workers who want to purchase their own businesses by establishing worker-owned cooperatives.” This is an idea that could change the world for 99 percent of America’s population and one that Bernie Sanders hopes to sell to American voters in 2015.

Distribution of wealth must be addressed for our nation to survive the future. Worker-owned cooperatives are an important step in healing the great economic divide that is killing America. Most companies today pay their CEO more than 300 times what they pay their workers. This disparity lays the foundation for economic inequality. The Worker Cooperative business model calls for executives to be paid no more than 3-6 times what the workers are paid, paving the way for a fairer and more level playing field for the American working class. This is the road to survival for America and economic freedom for its citizens.

The future is already looking brighter with politicians like Sanders calling for change and building grassroots movements to wrest the economy out of the hands of the wealthiest 1 percent and back into the hands of working Americans. In addition, the United States Federation of Worker’s Cooperatives was established to empower our nation’s workers, offering guidance in creating democratic worker-ownership. The USFWC hopes to advance worker-owned and governed businesses through advocacy, development, and education with the goal of bettering the lives of working Americans. They represent over 100 worker-owned businesses and could even help you and your co-workers affect change where you work and live.

With national elections looming, it’s time for Americans to address the future and embrace a much needed change to the American business model. And make no mistake; this is a moral issue, plain and simple, wherein the central question is this: “Is it okay that our economy is rigged to benefit just a tiny few?” Excuses like “Life isn’t fair” and “That’s just the way it’s always been” will continue to ring false until we address these issues in responsible ways.

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Republican Economic Theories Fail In The Real World http://themoderatevoice.com/208169/republican-economic-theories-fail-in-the-real-world/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208169/republican-economic-theories-fail-in-the-real-world/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:00:19 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208169 Liberal Values is often listed as a libertarian-leaning blog, (or Libertarian Democrat at Wikipedia) and that is certainly true in terms of civil liberties, social issues, and opposition to unjust wars. However I (and other left-libertarians) must differ from libertarian views when it comes to economics. This is both due to concern for the influence [...]

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Liberal Values is often listed as a libertarian-leaning blog, (or Libertarian Democrat at Wikipedia) and that is certainly true in terms of civil liberties, social issues, and opposition to unjust wars. However I (and other left-libertarians) must differ from libertarian views when it comes to economics. This is both due to concern for the influence of unrestricted corporate, as well as government, power, and because of a respect for the realities of a modern market economy. While we would love to be able to get rid of the rules and pay less (or no) taxes, this just is not realistic.

Conservatives and libertarians often argue that tax cuts will pay for themselves to justify lowering taxes. In rare cases where tax rates are high that can occur, but this has no relevance to our current situation. The Hill reports that the Republican-appointed director of the CBO has verified this:

The director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), who was appointed by GOP lawmakers earlier this year, said Tuesday that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves.

At a press briefing, a reporter asked Keith Hall about that theory.

“No, the evidence is that tax cuts do not pay for themselves,” Hall said. “And our models that we’re doing, our macroeconomic effects, show that.”

Libertarian and conservative economic theory holds that virtually government spending is bad, and is totally oblivious to the multiplier effect of government spending on the economy. Jay Bookman looked further into the CBO report on Obama’s budget proposal:

Yesterday, under Hall’s leadership, the revamped CBO released its analysis of President Obama’s proposed 2016 budget. Here’s what it had to say:

“CBO estimates that, under the President’s proposals, the nation’s real (inflation-adjusted) gross national product (GNP) would be 0.4 percent higher, on average, during the 2016–2020 period, and 1.7 percent higher during the 2021–2025 period, than under current law. After incorporating the proposals’ macroeconomic feedback into the budget, CBO estimates that deficits under the President’s proposals would be $1.4 trillion smaller during the 2016–2025 period than in CBO’s baseline, which is a projection of the paths that federal revenues and spending would take over the next decade if current laws generally remained unchanged.”

You read that correctly. Under the president’s proposals, which include more spending on social programs and infrastructure as well as slightly higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, the country would experience significantly higher growth than under current law, and deficits would be lowered by $1.4 trillion over the next decade. Or so says the conservative-run CBO.

If you want a stronger economy and a lower deficit, Democratic economic plans will beat Republican economic ideas.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Katrina: A 10-Year Review http://themoderatevoice.com/208175/katrina-a-10-year-review/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208175/katrina-a-10-year-review/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 11:00:07 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208175 This week is the 10th anniversary of the destruction of the southeastern gulf coast by Hurricane Katrina. More than 1,800 people died. There is no estimate for the number of pets and wildlife. Damage was estimated at more than $100 billion. About 80 percent of New Orleans was flooded. In Mississippi, the water surge flooded [...]

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This week is the 10th anniversary of the destruction of the southeastern gulf coast by Hurricane Katrina.

More than 1,800 people died. There is no estimate for the number of pets and wildlife. Damage was estimated at more than $100 billion.

About 80 percent of New Orleans was flooded. In Mississippi, the water surge flooded as much as 10 miles from the beaches.

The Category 3 storm should not have caused that much damage, but it exposed poorly-designed levees that should have protected New Orleans.

Sanctimonious critics, many of them conservative politicians, claimed that if the residents had evacuated New Orleans like they were ordered, the death toll and suffering would have been significantly less.

What they didn’t say, however, was that almost all roads were blocked or destroyed. Even if the roads weren’t damaged, evacuation would have been difficult. Many of the residents who remained were poor, Black, an often relied upon public transportation, as do many residents of urban areas. Hundreds of school buses that could have evacuated the residents were in the flood. Even if they weren’t, there weren’t enough drivers—most were in their own houses, which were flooded, or at the SuperDome or Convention Center, both of which sustained damage.
The media—and numerous conservative radio and TV pundits—reported looting.

But, most was for food and supplies needed to sustain the people through what would be several days of terror. Not reported was that the stores would have had to throw away the food and supplies, but would still get insurance reimbursement, whether the supplies were damaged by the flood or taken from the shelves by the storm victims.

Prisoners were left locked in flooded cells—the guards had abandoned them. Police deserted their duties. The attendants and staff of at least one nursing home fled, leaving the infirm and elderly to struggle or die. And almost everywhere was the inhumane greed of thousands who filed false claims, set up phony Katrina victim websites to collect money that never went to the victims, or were in collusion with local and state governments to make obnoxious profits on contracts that were supposed to help return the Gulf to at least the level it was before the storm.
Hospitals sustained heavy damage. Only heroic efforts by medical staff and other employees to evacuate the patients kept the death and injury toll down.

The damage might have been less if fossil fuel corporations, aided by state and federal governments, had not drilled into the sand bars, natural protection against storms. But, oil was too lucrative, and protection of the coastline not even an afterthought.

Plywood was not available to cover windows before the storm hit; much of it had been sent to Iraq. Deep water vehicles were not available; they were in Iraq to sustain the war. National Guard troops, who would have been called out in force, were serving in Iraq.

The Army Corps of Engineers and local and state officials several times before Katrina hit had begged for funds to improve the poorly-designed levee system. But, there wasn’t enough money because it was encumbered in a war economy.

FEMA’s response time was far too long, its effectiveness diminished by political decisions that were made in the Bush–Cheney administration. Many local and state officials—of both major political parties—showed the nation that ineptness wasn’t confined to the federal government. Supplies were rerouted or never delivered; communications between agencies was dismal. However, the Coast Guard, National Weather Service, and National Hurricane Center stood out for excellence—as did the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and numerous other volunteer organizations, many of which were on the scene before FEMA.

Homeland security needs to be a lot more than just protecting our country from ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorists. The budget for the Department of Defense this year is about $600 billion, about 54 percent of the entire federal budget. Natural disasters—from forest fires in Oregon to the severe drought in California and the Southwest to floods in Louisiana—have taken more lives and caused more damage than all the terrorists combined. But the budget for disaster relief is about $7 billion, slightly more than 1 percent of the Defense department budget. Even if all the $50 billion spent in Katrina disaster relief during the past decade is figured into the total, it’s still less than 10 percent of one year’s Defense appropriation.

And yet, conservative politicians have questioned why the nation needed to put money into Katrina relief. They are the same ones who unquestioningly advocated for more funds for defense while questioning the need for federal funds to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Yet, when heavy rains flooded Texas in May, both of Texas’s senators, who had voted to deny funds for the Jersey coast, were first in line to demand federal funds for their own state.

Have we still not learned anything in the past decade?

[Dr. Brasch is author of ‘Unacceptable’: The Federal Government’s Response to Hurricane Katrina, the first major book that looked at the causes, problems, and effects of the storm. He and Rosemary Brasch, two years before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, had written a series of articles that predicted the United States was not prepared for a major disaster.]

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Politix Update: Everybody Knows That Emperor Christie Has No Clothes http://themoderatevoice.com/208144/politix-update-everybody-knows-that-emperor-christie-has-no-clothes/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208144/politix-update-everybody-knows-that-emperor-christie-has-no-clothes/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 09:56:11 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208144 Occasionally in politics, ego-driven windbags who have created auras of inevitability around themselves fall to earth. Their balloons burst, the wheels come off their wagon, the wind goes out of their sails. But they are the last people in the room to get the joke, so evidentually fraudulent that they think they’re wearing a custom-tailored [...]

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Occasionally in politics, ego-driven windbags who have created auras of inevitability around themselves fall to earth. Their balloons burst, the wheels come off their wagon, the wind goes out of their sails. But they are the last people in the room to get the joke, so evidentually fraudulent that they think they’re wearing a custom-tailored twill suit with a snappy designer necktie when they step to the podium at a rally but people in the audience see an overbearing jerk wearing boxer shorts and a sweat-stained t-shirt several sizes too small with an all-day sucker and not a microphone in their hand. And so it is with Chris Christie.

Politix Update has paid especial attention to Christie. We love the Garden State, as wild, crazy and idiosyncratic as it can be, not to mention being kind of schizophrenic as it is sandwiched between Philadelphia and New York.

And New Jersey is hands down the most corrupt state in the union, with politicians seldom out of the news for all the wrong reasons. (Move over Louisiana, you’re bush league by comparison.) So when Christie vaulted from being a tough-on-crime-and-corruption U.S. attorney in Newark to the Statehouse in Trenton, we knew that it would be only a matter of time before the newly-minted Republican governor became mired in a Superfund site-sized cesspool of politics and the attendant intrigue, and his squeaky-clean image would become tarnished.

How wrong we were. This is because Christie brought to the job a predilection for playing dirty that was awesome by even New Jersey standards, and in one and a half terms he has proven to be the most corrupt and ethically challenged denizen of the Garden State since Richard “Iceman” Kuklinski. (You can look it up.)

Christie, however, was adept at that aura of inevitability thing, and early in his first term began talking up what a swell alternative he would be to the off-the-rack conservatives who were driving the Republican Party even deeper into the national electoral wilderness. He graciously refused to run for president in 2012 and said he would bide his time. (Actually, he knew he didn’t have a woodchuck’s chance in a Pine Barrens wildfire to be nominated, let alone elected.)

But 2016 would be different, and so Christie waddled onto the national stage this past spring and set about burnishing his tough-guy image with statements like “If you’re ready to start offending people in order to achieve a greater goal, you’ve found the right guy. I’m here to help offend people with you,” and threatening to punch out school teachers because their union endorsed Hillary Clinton, perhaps because of his harsh and disdainful treatment of public employees back home, including cops and firefighters, and his repeatedly broken promises to fully fund their pension fund.

Prospective voters on the stump have been underwhelmed by Christie, his seamy past (and present) keeps catching up to him, and he got blindsided by Donald the Trump. And so the biggest news about the Christie for President campaign these days is that it may be over by Labor Day.

While Christie fit right into the culture of corruption in New Jersey, he was a tough fit for the GOP as a presidential contender from the start. New Jersey is perhaps the most liberal state of all, and while Christie has tried to squeeze into conservative mufti as he sells himself in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere, it isn’t working and his past policy positions opposing the gun lobby and supporting gay rights don’t pass the Republican litmus test, he believed in human-made climate change before he didn’t, while he had the temerity to appoint a Muslim, for cryin’ out loud, to a state court judgeship.

Better for Christie to be getting out when he is. It’s just that he doesn’t know it yet.

In 2010, Christie singlehandedly killed a planned $8.7 billion commuter train tunnel under the Hudson River that virtually everyone else believed would ensure the future health of the New York region’s economy. Christie argued that it was just too damned expensive for the frugal times in which he governed, an argument that held little water then and sprang a ginormous leak when it turned out that he planned all along to use New Jersey’s share of tunnel construction dough to bail out the state’s highway and bridge system, which under his “leadership” had been driven deeply into debt.

That desperately needed third tunnel would be a couple of years away from opening had Christie not taken the money and run. In 2012, the existing rail tunnels were badly damaged by salt water during Superstorm Sandy. The region’s frail commuter infrastructure would collapse — and the economies of New Jersey and New York would suffer grievous body blows — if either or (heaven forbid) both tunnels had to be closed.

This catastrophe in the making is the fault of one man and one man only, and makes Christie’s infamous George Washington Bridge lane closing shenanigans so much child’s play.

Christie, a bully without peer, knows only one way to get things done. No, make that two: By lying and being underhanded. While he may not have directly engineered the closing of several lanes of traffic on the George Washington Bridge approach at Fort Lee, New Jersey — one of the nation’s busiest bridges and the key car-and-truck link between New Jersey and New York City — into four days of gridlock as a payback for the Democratic mayor of the burg refusing to endorse him when he ran for a second term of governor in 2013, key staffers did with his full knowledge and approval, and two are now under federal indictment. In New Jersey street parlance, Christie got a slide on what is dubbed Bridgegate despite his unconvincing efforts to portray himself as the victim (his variation on Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” defense was a real howler), but the incident did lead to a flurry of revelations about his other forays into retributive justice, including dolling out Superstorm Sandy relief money to political allies while screwing his enemies.

Finally, Christie’s attempts to paint himself as an able custodian of New Jersey economy are laughable. He has, in a word, trashed the economy of the nation’s once most affluent state by cooking the books and a co-mingling of official businesses and GOP favoritism extraordinary even in a state where the official motto might as well be “Pay to Play.”

Not only can Christie not point to economic success back home as did then-Texas Governor George W. Bush when he ran for president in 2000, but New Jersey’s credit rating has been downgraded eight times on Christie’s watch — more than under any governor in the state’s history. In the eighth downgrading, Standard & Poors belabored the obvious in stating that “New Jersey continues to struggle with structural imbalance . . . New Jersey will face increased long-term pressures in managing its long-term liabilities, and that the revenue and expenditure misalignment will grow based on reduced funding of the state’s unfunded actuarial accrued liability.”

Christie has become such an also-ran that The Associated Press and New York Times have reassigned the reporters who were covering him fulltime to other beats. And it’s not that plain-talking governors are struggling to stay afloat in the 17-candidate field because John Kasich of Ohio, who is probably closest to Christie policy wise, continues to surge.

Christie sat with the grown-ups at the first Republican debate, but he’s probably headed for the kiddie table at the second debate on September 16 if he’s still in the race. And if he is, he’s just delaying the inevitable.

MY ANSWER IS ‘ALL OF THE ABOVE’

With Donald the Trump tossing Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos from a press conference in Iowa this week — and then relenting in a piece of theater on the part of both men that almost seemed scripted — immigration remained firmly atop the I Wish We Were Talking About Something Else list for most of the candidates in the overstuffed Republican presidential field, but no more so than for Scott Walker. Jeb Bush is a close second.

The Wisconsin governor seems incapable of checking his slide in the polls, or coming up with coherent, let alone consistent answers. On the issue of birthright citizenship, which Trump wants to abolish, Walker has come up with three distinctly different answers in recent days: He’s for it, he’s against it, and he has no opinion on it.

Meanwhile, immigration should be a winner for Jeb! among the half dozen or so Republicans not supporting Trump. He has long advocated a path to citizenship for hard-working illegals, supported birthright citizenship, is fluent in Spanish and is married to a Mexican. But there he was at an event at a border town in Texas trying to distance himself from himself while ingratiating himself, and in the end insulted Asian-Americans over the comparatively minor issue of Asians who enter the U.S. on tourist visas through organized rackets and give birth babies who are by birthright Americans.

Bush quickly backpedaled, which has become an oft-used gear, as quick-on-his feet Trump tweeted, “In a clumsy move to get out of his ‘anchor babies’ dilemma, where he signed that he would not use the term and now uses it, he blamed ASIANS.”

THE GOP’S VERY OWN MONSTER

Following the 2012 Romney-Ryan debacle, the Republican National Committee spent a bunch of dough to do some research into why the GOP was fading as a national political entity. The result was the Growth and Opportunity Project, a soul-searching examination of what the party could do to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.

The most far-reaching conclusion was that:

“The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.

“Instead of driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac, we need a Party whose brand of conservatism invites and inspires new people to visit us. We need to remain America’s conservative alternative to big-government, redistribution-to-extremes liberalism, while building a route into our Party that a non-traditional Republican will want to travel. Our standard should not be universal purity; it should be a more welcoming conservatism.”

While it is widely acknowledged that virtually everyone associated with the GOP nodded thoughtfully when the paper was published and then promptly ignored it, one convert to the cause did not: The GOP-created monster called Donald the Trump, who has fulfilled the objectives of the Growth and Opportunity Project and then some.

Republican pollster Frank Luntz is saying as much after he conducted a recent focus group that found Trump’s support to be . . . well, monstrous.

“You guys understand how significant this is?” Luntz asked breathlessly. “This is real. I’m having trouble processing it. Like, my legs are shaking.”

Politix Update is an irregular compendium written by veteran journalist Shaun Mullen, for whom the 2016
presidential campaign is his (gasp!) 12th since 1968. Click here for an index of previous
Politix Updates.

IMAGE FROM DONKEYHOTEY/FLICKR. USED WITH PERMISSION.

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Trump’s video game mastery http://themoderatevoice.com/208171/trumps-video-game-mastery/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208171/trumps-video-game-mastery/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 05:12:04 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208171 WASHINGTON — This summer’s political madness was nicely captured by a confluence of events over the last few days: While global financial markets teetered, the campaign news was dominated by Donald Trump’s personal feuds with journalists. Trump’s insults directed toward Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and his confrontation with Jorge Ramos, Univision’s anchor, were bound to [...]

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WASHINGTON — This summer’s political madness was nicely captured by a confluence of events over the last few days: While global financial markets teetered, the campaign news was dominated by Donald Trump’s personal feuds with journalists.

Trump’s insults directed toward Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and his confrontation with Jorge Ramos, Univision’s anchor, were bound to get some attention, especially from journalists inclined to stand up for our colleagues. But the tale wasn’t primarily about journalism. It was just another episode in a TV series, a sign of how brilliantly Trump has succeeded in transforming a battle for the presidency into a reality show starring himself.

In the late 1980s, the journalist Martin Schram wrote a book about presidential politics in the television age called “The Great American Video Game.” The Trump obsession shows just how prophetic Schram’s title was. Television is about ratings; Trump delivers ratings; therefore, Trump, whose speeches are 90 percent about Trump — his feelings, experiences, feuds, grudges and, of course, genius — is on television nonstop.

The Trumpification of the news is also a reaction within the media to the initial reaction of so many in the ranks to Trump. The widespread view was that his personal insults, his nasty remarks about Mexicans (whom he now says he “loves”) and his conversion of the political speech into a form of self-involved stand-up would doom his chances.

This was wrong because (1) Trump’s celebrity, built on the idea that a smart deal-maker can get anything done that he wants, gives him a base among those who don’t care much about politics, and (2) parts of the Republican Party are so fed up with their leadership that the more in-your-face Trump is, the happier they are.

The most concise explanation for the Trump phenomenon came from Erick Erickson, editor of the popular right-wing blog RedState, in an interview earlier this month with The Atlantic’s Molly Ball. “The Republican Party created Donald Trump,” Erickson said, “because they made a lot of promises to their base and never kept them.”

Republican leaders care primarily about a low-tax, pro-business agenda. But they have kept their most conservative supporters at a very high level of angry mobilization, exploiting anxieties about demographic and social change. They kept pledging they would really and truly repeal Obamacare, even when they knew they didn’t have the votes. Trump is the revenge of the party’s non-insiders who are tired of being used.

But there’s a major problem with all of the Trump coverage: It’s based on the assumption that he is leading a formidable mass movement when his following is nothing of the sort. The Trump partisans are, in fact, a very small minority of Americans. Do the math. The polls show that Trump is supported by about 25 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who, together, account for somewhere between 40 percent and 45 percent of the country.

So, generously, the Trump insurrection is built on the backing of all of about 11 percent of Americans.

The limits of Trumpism are further underscored in one of the best deep-dives into polling on Trump by Henry Olsen in National Review. Olsen notes that Trump’s “favorable-to-unfavorable ratio is the lowest of the major candidates.” And when asked if there is a candidate they would never vote for, Republicans are more likely to name Trump than any of his major foes. Trump’s favorability ratings are especially negative among moderates and only slightly less so among Republicans who call themselves somewhat (as opposed to very) conservative.

Trump has certainly gotten further, faster than any of his Republican opponents. But all the free television time he is getting cannot be justified by a claim that he is sitting atop some broad uprising akin to the Goldwater or Reagan rebellions. His visibility is the product of circular television logic: Celebrities bring audience share and the resulting attention they get further enhances their fame.

Trump’s unique contribution has been to achieve a complete fusion of the culture of celebrity to politics. It brings to mind the mystery writer David Handler’s great line about “the power of positive self-delusion.”

Television is a business like any other, but journalism in a democracy is supposed to be about more than that. Nowhere is the tension between financial and public imperatives more obvious than in the massive coverage of the Trump spectacular and the parsimonious attention given to anything serious any other candidate might say. But hey, how often does a serious speech about our economic troubles win ratings for anyone?

E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne.
(c) 2015, Washington Post Writers Group

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Vester Flanagan’s scary employee termination and his suicide notes (Jehovah told him to do it) http://themoderatevoice.com/208165/vester-flanagans-scary-employee-termination-and-his-suicide-notes-jehovah-told-him-to-do-it/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208165/vester-flanagans-scary-employee-termination-and-his-suicide-notes-jehovah-told-him-to-do-it/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 23:50:48 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208165 In the face of tragedy — and a televised and new media broadcast shooting, and the pattern of copycats that suggest that if the revolution isn’t televised live murders will be — new facts are being released about the troubled and downright scary history of fired reporter “Bryce Williams,” whose real name was Vester Flanegan. [...]

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The killer before he was fired.

The killer before he was fired.

In the face of tragedy — and a televised and new media broadcast shooting, and the pattern of copycats that suggest that if the revolution isn’t televised live murders will be — new facts are being released about the troubled and downright scary history of fired reporter “Bryce Williams,” whose real name was Vester Flanegan. It’s clear now that Flanegan planned and stalked for his kill — even posting a murderer’s point of view video of the crime on social media, which got hits and was eventually pulled down. But it’s still being shown on some websites.

He killed Alison Parker, 24 years old and a morning reporter for WDBJ7, and Adam Ward, 27, a member of the crew, as viewers watched the Roanoke, Virginia station morning news — and Ward’s fiancee, the woman doing the newscast watched. Flanagan shot himself after a 2 mile police speed chase, and died later in the day. Here’s the WDBJ7 news story on the killing of their beloved staff members.

It turns out he was an exceptionally scary employee who had real issues. The Daily Beast reports:

Vester Lee Flanagan’s bosses called 911 on the day they fired him from WDBJ because of his volatile behavior. The incident was captured on camera by Adam Ward, the camerman Flanagan killed on Wednesday.

At a February 2013 meeting, WDBJ managers told Flanagan he wasn’t a good fit and would be terminated. Flanagan—who went by the on-air name Bryce Williams—became “agitated,” then issued a threat, according to documents obtained by The Daily Beast that were filed in Flanagan’s lawsuit against the station in 2014. (Flanagan lost.)

“He repeated … his feeling that firing him would lead to negative consequences for me personally and for the station,” former station manager Dan Dennison said. The manager said Flanagan “said he had to go to the bathroom, stood up abruptly, stormed out of the room, and slammed the door”—prompting a frightened sales team to take shelter in a locked office.

According to The Daily Beast, Flanagan told police there was a watermelon in the hallway. As he left he handed his boss a wooden cross and said: “You’ll need this.”
ABC News reports that they had gotten calls from a man claiming to be Bryce Williams and also last night what basically was a rambling manifesto/suicide note that said he was the victim of racism, triggered by the racist church killings in Charleston, and that Jehova told him to do it.
Some key parts of ABC’s report:

A man claiming to be Bryce Williams called ABC News over the last few weeks, saying he wanted to pitch a story, and wanted to fax information. He never told ABC News what the story was.

This morning, a fax was in the machine (time stamped 8:26 a.m.) almost two hours after the shooting. A little after 10 a.m., he called again, and introduced himself as Bryce, but also said his legal name was Vester Lee Flanagan, and that he shot two people this morning. While on the phone, he said authorities are “after me,” and “all over the place.” He hung up. ABC News contacted the authorities immediately and provided them with the fax.

In the 23-page document faxed to ABC News, the writer says “MY NAME IS BRYCE WILLIAMS” and his legal name is Vester Lee Flanagan II. He writes what triggered today’s carnage was his reaction to the racism of the Charleston church shooting.

“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…”

“What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”

It is unclear whose initials he is referring to. He continues, “As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” He said Jehovah spoke to him, telling him to act.

AND:

Later in the manifesto, the writer quotes the Virginia Tech mass killer, Seung Hui Cho, calls him “his boy,” and expresses admiration for the Columbine High School killers. “Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got…just sayin.'”

Then in a part he labelled as a suicide note to friends and family he complained about “racial discrimination, sexual harassment [he was gay] and bullying at work” and being attacked by black men and white females and “

He wrote he has been attacked by black men and white female” talks about how he was attacked for being a gay, black man.” He called himself a powder keg that would go “BOOM!”

And you can you already guess some of the Tweets in an age when social media has not uplifted the quality of our national dialogue. Here’s a cross section under his name:


















Some sites are showing the full video shot by Flanagan from his point of view. We’ll pass on that one.

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Foo Fighters Rickroll Westboro Baptist Church http://themoderatevoice.com/208076/foo-fighters-rickroll-westboro-baptist-church/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208076/foo-fighters-rickroll-westboro-baptist-church/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 20:00:13 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208076 The Foo Fighters have come up with a fun way to counter the antics of the Westboro protesters by using music. Billboard.com reports, “Westboro Baptist Church targeted a Foo Fighters concert at Kansas City’s Sprint Center on Friday, Aug. 21, and the band fired back — with a Rickroll. The band arrived on the scene [...]

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Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters

The Foo Fighters have come up with a fun way to counter the antics of the Westboro protesters by using music.

Billboard.com reports, “Westboro Baptist Church targeted a Foo Fighters concert at Kansas City’s Sprint Center on Friday, Aug. 21, and the band fired back — with a Rickroll. The band arrived on the scene via a pickup truck, blasting Rick Astley’s 1987 single Never Gonna Give You Up and holding up signs that read You Got Rick Roll’d Again and Keep It Clean.”

Here is a video of the incident.

This is a case of the Foo Fighters becoming the poo fighters, because poo is just what the Westboro folks keep slinging. What the latter are doing is enough to make a chimpanzee go . . .

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This post sponsored by the publisher of …

Featured Image by Christopher Simon (originally posted to Flickr as IMG_0107) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Sanders Leads Clinton In Another New Hampshire Poll, Drawing Support From Both Moderates And Liberals http://themoderatevoice.com/208162/sanders-leads-clinton-in-another-new-hampshire-poll-drawing-support-from-both-moderates-and-liberals/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208162/sanders-leads-clinton-in-another-new-hampshire-poll-drawing-support-from-both-moderates-and-liberals/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:44:50 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208162 Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton in a second poll in New Hampshire. Public Policy Polling reports: There’s been a big shift on the Democratic side since April as well. Bernie Sanders now leads the field in the state with 42% to 35% for Hillary Clinton, 6% for Jim Webb, 4% for Martin O’Malley, 2% for [...]

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Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton in a second poll in New Hampshire. Public Policy Polling reports:

There’s been a big shift on the Democratic side since April as well. Bernie Sanders now leads the field in the state with 42% to 35% for Hillary Clinton, 6% for Jim Webb, 4% for Martin O’Malley, 2% for Lincoln Chafee, and 1% for Lawrence Lessig.

The main story in New Hampshire is how universally popular Sanders has become with the Democratic electorate. 78% see him favorably to only 12% with a negative opinion- that makes him easily the most popular candidate on either side with their party’s voters. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton’s favorability numbers have taken a little bit of a hit- she was at 78/10 with Democratic primary voters in April, but now she’s at a 63/25 spread.

The ideological divide is actually not that stark on the Democratic side. Sanders is ahead with ‘somewhat liberal’ voters (45/32), ‘very liberal’ ones (46/37), and moderates (40/36) alike. And although there is certainly a gender gap Sanders is ahead with both men (44/30) and women (41/38). But the real big divide we see is along generational lines- Clinton is ahead 51/34 with seniors, but Sanders has a 45/29 advantage with everyone under the age of 65.

New Hampshire is somewhat a world unto itself in the Democratic race. We’re still finding Clinton well ahead everywhere else. But it’s clear there’s a real race now in the Granite State.

It is notable that Sanders’ support comes from somewhat liberal, very liberal, and moderate voters responding to this poll. As other evidence has shown, Sanders’ support is broad based, and not a left-wing phenomenon. Sanders’ views are far more mainstream than many Clinton supporters would like to acknowledge. This, along with the generational divide, is also consistent with what I have argued previously that Sanders represents the future for the Democratic Party.

Sanders also had a clear lead over Clinton in a Boston Herald poll earlier in the month after previously moving into a statistical tie in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll early in August.

Winning in New Hampshire, especially if Sanders also does well in Iowa, should give him a boost in polls in subsequent states, but it will still be a tough challenge to beat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. After George McGovern won the nomination in 1972, party rules were written to favor the “establishment” candidate over an “insurgent” candidate. It would be necessary for Sanders to win well over half the delegates awarded in primary and caucus states due to Clinton’s current support from the super-delegates. Barack Obama did show that Clinton could be beat, but his campaign was boosted by support from party insiders such as Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.

The scandals surrounding Clinton could alter this usual dynamic. It is also hoped that the debates will further help Sanders in the national polls against Clinton, but the DNC is protecting Clinton by prohibiting candidates from participating in any debates other than the six sanctioned by the party. In the 2007/8 debates Obama did soundly defeat Clinton on the issues, in my opinion, but there are also many conservative Democratic voters who might accept Clinton’s views.

The highly discussed prospect of Joe Biden entering the race could change the calculations considerably. This could lead to an additional voice criticizing Clinton from the left (even if as not as far left as Sanders) and, more importantly, would lead to a split in the establishment vote and super-delegates, improving the chances for Sanders to win.

In another poll, of questionable reliability considering the conservative source, Rasmussen reports that a plurality of Americans (46 percent to 44 percent) believe Clinton should suspend her campaign due to the email scandal. This includes 24 percent of Democratic voters who believe Clinton should suspend her campaign. Once again, this is Rasmussen, so I will only consider these results as meaningful if repeated by a more reliable pollster.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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Ted Cruz Needs Waaahmbulance http://themoderatevoice.com/208153/ted-cruz-needs-waaahmbulance/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208153/ted-cruz-needs-waaahmbulance/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:42:46 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208153 Ted Cruz doesn’t want to answer a question asked him by Megyn Kelly. He would rather whine about being asked it. From TheHill.com: Perhaps Lindsey Graham will answer the question that Cruz won’t answer. The former is rebuking the rhetoric about illegal immigrants coming from Donald Trump, as well as Trump’s recent attack on Megyn [...]

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Whaaambulance

Ted Cruz doesn’t want to answer a question asked him by Megyn Kelly. He would rather whine about being asked it.

From TheHill.com:

Screenshot from TheHill.com. Screenshot by post’s author.

Perhaps Lindsey Graham will answer the question that Cruz won’t answer. The former is rebuking the rhetoric about illegal immigrants coming from Donald Trump, as well as Trump’s recent attack on Megyn Kelly.

As for the question that Megyn Kelly asked Ted Cruz, it is a fair question to ask any presidential contender.

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This post sponsored by the MMC television network, now showing …

MADMINIONS

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Finally a National World War I Memorial http://themoderatevoice.com/208008/finally-a-national-world-war-i-memorial/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208008/finally-a-national-world-war-i-memorial/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:16:30 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208008 Our nation’s capital is blessed with an abundance of splendid parks, statuary, monuments and memorials. But, as pointed out by the World War One Centennial Commission (the Commission), most of them honor “generals, presidents, statesmen and other individuals of distinction” and many of these commemorate the heroes and the battles of the American Revolution and [...]

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World War One Centennial Commission logo

Our nation’s capital is blessed with an abundance of splendid parks, statuary, monuments and memorials.

But, as pointed out by the World War One Centennial Commission (the Commission), most of them honor “generals, presidents, statesmen and other individuals of distinction” and many of these commemorate the heroes and the battles of the American Revolution and the Civil War.

There are numerous monuments and memorials to the Military Services, specific units, battles and war heroes in Washington D.C. and thousands of memorials in towns and cities across the country to local residents who gave their lives in conflicts, battles and wars from the War of Independence to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars — including the war on terror.

But what was lacking in Washington, D.C. was the concept of “national” war memorials, i.e. memorials “commonly accepted as the nation’s memorial for all its citizens who died in a particular war.”

There are two memorials in Washington, D.C. called World War I memorials.

One is the in 1931 dedicated World War I memorial on the National Mall, which has inscribed on its base the names of the 499 District of Columbia citizens who lost their lives in the war and, on a cornerstone, the names of the 26,000 District residents who served.

The other one, the Pershing Park, was originally authorized by Congress in 1966 as “a memorial to the late John J. Pershing, General of the Armies of the United States, and to the officers and men under his command.” According to the Commission, Pershing Park “may be seen as the last of the ‘great man’ war memorials.”

Neither monument, however, meets the strict interpretation of what a “national” monument is or should be.

In January 2013 Congress passed and President Obama signed Public Law 112-272 establishing the World War One Centennial Commission “to ensure a suitable observance of the centennial of World War I, to provide for the designation of memorials to the service of members of the United States Armed Forces in World War I, and for other purposes.”

The Act describes “the war to end all wars” as one where “More than 4,000,000 men and women from the United States served in uniform during World War I” and a war in which the United States suffered 375,000 casualties, including 116,516 deaths.

Certainly a sacrifice worthy of a truly national memorial.

In December 2014, the National Defense Authorization Act authorized the World War One Centennial Commission to further honor the service of members of the United States armed forces in World War I, by redeveloping the Pershing Park site.

In May of this year, as part of promoting such a “suitable observance” of the centennial of World War I (from 2017 through 2019), the Commission announced an international design competition for the new National World War I Memorial to be built in Pershing Park, on Pennsylvania Avenue, one block from the White House and with a clear view of the U.S. Capitol.

The memorial envisioned by the Commission is to serve as “both a dynamic urban space and, more importantly, a fitting memorial to a generation of veterans whose service and sacrifice were no less valorous and heroic than that of the veterans of later wars – the generation that were the fathers and mothers of ‘the greatest generation.'”

During the following three months, the Commission received more than 350 design proposals and, on August 19, Robert Dalessandro, Chair of the World War One Centennial Commission, announced the five finalists (below).

The five selected concepts will now proceed to “Stage II” of the design competition where the “five finalists will work in consultation with the commission, public agencies with ultimate approval authority over the design, and other stakeholders to further develop and refine their initial design concepts.”

The Commission plans to announce the final design concept in January 2016 and hopes to open the Memorial to the public by Nov. 11, 2018, the centennial of the Armistice.

The World War I Memorial will then rightfully join three other national memorials commemorating and honoring the men and women who served and died in the three other major wars fought by the United States in the 20th century: The Vietnam War, the Korean War and World War II.

The Memorial is expected to cost between $20 and $25 million to build and it is estimated that the commission will need $20 million to $25 million over the next five years to operate.

However, the aforementioned Public Law 112-272 contains the little “but” sentence: “No Federal funds may be obligated or expended for the designation, establishment, or enhancement of a memorial or commemorative work by the World War I Centennial Commission.” It is for this reason that the Commission is asking the American public for contributions of any size.

If you want to help build this monument to remember and honor those who served and gave their lives in World War I — our fathers, grandfathers, our ancestors — please go to the World War One Memorial Fund site here.

You can also submit your views and comments on the concepts — which will be reviewed by the competition officials — here.

The following are selected aspects of all five submittals. To view the full design details, please click here.

War Memorial.indd

“The Weight of Sacrifice” submitted by Joseph Weishaar of Chicago, IL

WW1 Memorial References

WW1 Memorial References

“Plaza to the Forgotten War” submitted by the design team of Brian Johnsen, AIA; Sebastian Schmaling, AIA, LEEP AP; and Andrew Cesarz, at Johnsen Schmaling Architects, in Milwaukee, WI

World_War_One_Memorial_Concept 3


“World War One Memorial Concept” submitted by Devin Kimmel, Principal at Kimmel Studio, llc in Annapolis, MD

2015-07-13 Final Layout.indd

“An American Family Portrait Wall in the Park” submitted by STL Architects in Chicago.

WWI memorial-Heroes-Green2


“Heroes’ Green” submitted by Maria Counts of Counts Studio in Brooklyn, NY

All images with permission from the World War One Centennial Commission.

Follow Dorian de Wind on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ddewind99

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A Bizarre Election Cycle http://themoderatevoice.com/208152/a-bizarre-election-cycle/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208152/a-bizarre-election-cycle/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 17:33:03 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208152 I’m pushing 70 so I’ve been around for more than a few election cycles.  In large part because of the Vietnam War I have been politically involved for most of my adult life.  On the Wednesday following the 1968 elections I woke up to find that everyone I had voted for had lost, including family [...]

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3002776434_14ae6614e1_o-300x225I’m pushing 70 so I’ve been around for more than a few election cycles.  In large part because of the Vietnam War I have been politically involved for most of my adult life.  On the Wednesday following the 1968 elections I woke up to find that everyone I had voted for had lost, including family friend Wayne Morris, and then went down to the induction center to report for the draft.  Although I had to suffer through 8 weeks of basic training I was lucky because of my education I was recruited by the Defense Intelligence Agency and spent two and a half years on the frontiers of freedom in downtown Munich, Germany.

But this is the most bizarre election cycle I have experienced.  On the R side we have the rise of Donald Trump and his ego driven campaign where he appeals to the lowest common denominator of the American population.  Much to the amazement of many, including me, it looks like he might actually have a chance to win the Republican nomination.

On the D side we have Bernie Sanders who is now beating Hillary Clinton in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

The American people have lost faith in the established politics as usual and are looking for real change as their standard of living continues to decline.  Even the Citizens United superpacs seem to be hapless to stop it.  People have seen taxpayer money used to bail out large banks while the greed and incompetence of the banksters goes unpunished.  While it’s a populist movement there is a nasty element of bigotry on the R side.  Both Trump and Sanders are addressing the fears of the American people in their own unique ways.  Will it be a Trump/Sanders contest in November of 2016?  Far to early to tell but at this point it wouldn’t really surprise me.

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Virginia News Crew Shot, Killed While on Live Report UPDATE: Shooter former reporter shoots himself. He is dead. http://themoderatevoice.com/208148/virginia-news-crew-shot-killed-while-on-live-report-shooter-at-large/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208148/virginia-news-crew-shot-killed-while-on-live-report-shooter-at-large/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:20:09 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208148 UPDATED: The alleged shooter, William Epperly Vester Lee Flannagan II, age 41, as reported by CNN, has shot himself. He was pronounced dead at around 1pm EST. [Earlier it was not know Whether he had died, just that he was taken to hospital in critical condition.] According to most recent cable news reports, the young [...]

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Seconds before the shots.

Seconds before the shots.

UPDATED: The alleged shooter, William Epperly Vester Lee Flannagan II, age 41, as reported by CNN, has shot himself. He was pronounced dead at around 1pm EST. [Earlier it was not know Whether he had died, just that he was taken to hospital in critical condition.]

According to most recent cable news reports, the young cameraman, Adam Ward, 27, grad of Virginia Tech, was murdered– and is the fiancé of the young woman newscaster who was on air at the television station, when she suddenly saw part of the shooting on live feed.

The young female newscaster who was murdered is Alison Parker, age 24. She had just moved in with a person she loved, who has stepped forward to speak as best he can about this tragedy.

A third person, Vicky [last name not known at the moment], was also shot by the murderer. She was from the local chamber of commerce and was being interviewed by Alison on camera. She is in surgery and so far, is alive.

Alleged killer appeared to have posted shooting videos on his facebook page prior to the murders… it is reported that he uploaded, a/k/a his alias name, “bryce williams”, also the murders of the two journalists.

At first, there was confusion about there being two persons being involved in the murders, but at the moment it appears that the alleged shooter uses an alias, and has capability to post video on facebook ‘alias name’ page directly/ nearly instantly from a mobile device. It is said that William Epperly Vester Lee Flannagan II, age 41, was formerly employed at the television station.

Prayers for all in need. May all be held and helped. [ed/cpe]

Updated | A morning television news team in Roanoke, Virginia, was shot and killed Wednesday while reporting from the Bridgewater Plaza in Smith Mountain Lake. Alison Parker, 24 years old and a morning reporter for WDBJ7, and Adam Ward, 27, a member of the crew, were killed by an unidentified shooter. Shots were fired around 6:45…


The two dead journalists.

The two dead journalists.

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Trump’s ‘I Can’t Be Bought’ Argument http://themoderatevoice.com/208146/trumps-i-cant-be-bought-argument/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208146/trumps-i-cant-be-bought-argument/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 14:04:05 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208146 In a recent piece, counting the “many things that should make Americans wary if not outright scared about a potential Trump presidency,” I recited a long laundry list of this very rich man’s most appalling character flaws, egregious actions and disgusting remarks. The list included Trump’s boorishness, narcissism, misogyny, xenophobia, his calumny about Vietnam War [...]

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shutterstock_171116390

In a recent piece, counting the “many things that should make Americans wary if not outright scared about a potential Trump presidency,” I recited a long laundry list of this very rich man’s most appalling character flaws, egregious actions and disgusting remarks.

The list included Trump’s boorishness, narcissism, misogyny, xenophobia, his calumny about Vietnam War hero John McCain and our prisoners of war, his flip-flopping on issues, his cavalier braggadocio on how he was “just taking advantage of the laws” — gaming the system — to pull his businesses out of the abyss without a second thought to other struggling Americans, and more.

But, more important, I asked, how will a President Trump ensure that he and his administration do not view the buying of influence by the rich and famous as business as usual — since that has been, by his own braggadocio, his modus operandi.

I added, “While some have suggested that a super-rich person cannot be easily ‘bought’ there are other ways by which influence and favors can be obtained from an incorrigible narcissist.”

A couple of days ago, a Wall Street Journal (by no stretch a liberal rag) editorial looked at Trump’s “I can’t be bought” argument from a different perspective.

The Journal maintains that while the argument — “that he’s ‘very rich’ and therefore cannot be induced to indulge a narrow special interest” — “plays into the current political frustration with Washington…it is as self-serving as it is dangerous to democracy.”

“What he’s really saying,” the Journal adds “is that nobody who isn’t wealthy should be able to run for President because only the superrich can be untainted by political corruption.”

The Journal makes the argument that most politicians aren’t rich and thus have to raise money from others, broadening their support and making it “less likely any single donor or constituency would have inordinate influence.”

After throwing some lukewarm water on the idea that accepting large donations creates an obligation to return the favor, the Journal, in my opinion, throws some definitely ice cold water on Trump’s “worst argument”:

The stolen base in the Trump argument is that if elected the other candidates would have agendas but he wouldn’t. The truth is that even if he never takes a nickel from a lobbyist, Mr. Trump will still be influenced by his largest campaign donor—himself. To say the least, he’s never been shy about pursuing his interests.
.
In business that’s fine and plastering his name everywhere has built a well-known brand and accumulated a fortune that may even be as large as he says it is. But it’s naive to examine his career and conclude that he lives only to serve others. It’s not clear to us why the agenda of one rich guy in Manhattan is superior to one that incorporates the views of a thousand rich guys across the U.S.
.
Then again, Mr. Trump is new to the presidential campaign and on Sunday he said he also is open to taking contributions, large and small, as long as there are “no strings attached.” Like any other politician.

The Journal asks, “Is it better to represent the agenda of one rich guy or 1,000 rich guys?”

Darn good question.

Lead image: www.shutterstock.com

Follow Dorian de Wind on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ddewind99

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Cartoon: Trump missing link http://themoderatevoice.com/208142/cartoon-trump-missing-link/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208142/cartoon-trump-missing-link/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 04:50:24 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208142 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Cam Cardow, Cagle Cartoons

Cam Cardow, Cagle Cartoons

See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Planned Parenthood and the Queen of Hearts (Guest Voice) http://themoderatevoice.com/208140/planned-parenthood-and-the-queen-of-hearts-guest-voice/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208140/planned-parenthood-and-the-queen-of-hearts-guest-voice/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 04:37:56 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208140 Planned Parenthood and the Queen of Hearts By Dick Polman Everyone has a beef about “the media,” and here’s mine: We typically highlight accusations of wrongdoing, but we typically bury the news when it turns out that the doer did no wrong. It’s a habit best articulated by the Queen of Hearts in Alice in [...]

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Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Planned Parenthood and the Queen of Hearts
By Dick Polman

Everyone has a beef about “the media,” and here’s mine: We typically highlight accusations of wrongdoing, but we typically bury the news when it turns out that the doer did no wrong.

It’s a habit best articulated by the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland: “Sentence first, verdict afterwards.”

That’s the deal right now with Planned Parenthood. According to last month’s headlined accusation, PP sells aborted body parts for profit, in violation of the law. Anti-abortion activists, and their credulous Republican servant have coined selling aborted body parts as rote shorthand, figuring that if they say it often enough, it will ring true. Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee spun it a step further at the Fox News debate, claiming that PP’s policy is to “rip up body parts and sell them like they’re parts to a Buick.”

But just for the heck of it, let’s follow up. In the four weeks since the lurid accusation was first floated, what actual evidence have we seen – I’m talking about chains of empirical, forensic, documented evidence – that Planned Parenthood illegally sells aborted body parts for profit? How many bills of sale have been unearthed? How much proof has surfaced thus far?

Zero, zip, nada.

It’s indeed illegal to sell aborted body parts for profit, but not a shred of evidence has turned up that PP does any such thing. However, it’s perfectly legal under federal law to donate fetal tissue for the purposes of medical research (into the causes and treatment of Parkinson’s, heart defects, hepatitis, HIV, diabetes, cancer, eyesight loss, and more), and it’s legal for PP to recoup the transportation expenses. PP hews to those laws – donating in the states that permit it, and only with the women’s consent.

But the dearth of illegality evidence hasn’t been highlighted on newspaper front pages, or on news site home pages. It has not been Twitter-bombed, and it hasn’t trended on Facebook. So as a public service, and in the spirit of fairness, I’ve pieced together the news from various underplayed stories. Here’s where things stand:

The feds have already investigated PP’s relations with federal research agencies and told the Republican Senate sleuths, in a letter, that there have been “no violations of (fetal tissue) laws in connection with research done at our agencies.”

The state of Massachusetts had investigated PP. It found no wrongdoing.

The state of Georgia has investigated. It found no wrongdoing.

The state of Indiana has investigated. It found no wrongdoing.

The state of South Dakota has investigated. It found no wrongdoing.

The state of Idaho has simply said, via a gubernatorial statement, “Since there is no evidence that a crime has been committed, there are no grounds for a legal investigation.”

Other states are still hot on PP’s trail – among them, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Kansas, and Tennessee, and Ohio – but health experts say they’re unlikely to find wrongdoing, for a variety of reasons: (a) their PP facilities don’t perform abortions, (b) their PP facilities don’t do tissue donations, (c) their state laws prohibit such donations, or (d) their PP facilities perform abortions and donate fetal tissue – but they do so legally, without selling body parts for profit.

And just to further balance the scales, here’s an editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine:

“Planned Parenthood, its physicians, and the researchers who do this (fetal tissue) work should be praised, not damned….It is shameful that a radical antichoice group whose goal is the destruction of Planned Parenthood continues to twist the facts to achieve its ends. We thank the women who made the choice to help improve the human condition through their tissue donation; we applaud the people who make this work possible and those who use these materials to advance human health. We are outraged by those who debase these women, this work, and Planned Parenthood by distorting the facts for political ends.”

That should trump the Queen of Hearts headlines. But probably not in this media climate.

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Copyright 2015 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia (newsworks.org/polman) and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Philadelphia. Email him at dickpolman7@gmail.com.

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Trump Ejects Univision Reporter Amid Illegal Immigration Exchange http://themoderatevoice.com/208138/trump-ejects-univision-reporter-amid-illegal-immigration-exchange/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208138/trump-ejects-univision-reporter-amid-illegal-immigration-exchange/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 04:06:36 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208138 Univision reporter Jorge Ramos was kicked out of a Donald Trump event Tuesday in Dubuque, Iowa, which was followed by a testy exchange over illegal immigration that put the Republican candidate’s famously combative nature on full display. Ramos was forcibly removed by security early in the press conference after he tried to ask Trump a [...]

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CNN Image: Ramos is on the far left.

CNN Image: Ramos is on the far left.

Univision reporter Jorge Ramos was kicked out of a Donald Trump event Tuesday in Dubuque, Iowa, which was followed by a testy exchange over illegal immigration that put the Republican candidate’s famously combative nature on full display. Ramos was forcibly removed by security early in the press conference after he tried to ask Trump a question…

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Trump Bullies Fox. Fox Bites Back. http://themoderatevoice.com/208136/trump-bullies-fox-fox-bites-back/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208136/trump-bullies-fox-fox-bites-back/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 03:24:13 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208136 Donald Trump continued his bullying behavior this past Monday when he used Twitter to again attack Megyn Kelly. This time around, the journalists and contributors at Fox News didn’t hesitate to fight back. As Fox News CEO Roger Ailes says in his written response to Trump, “We have never been deterred by politicians or anyone [...]

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Trump Vs. Fox

Donald Trump continued his bullying behavior this past Monday when he used Twitter to again attack Megyn Kelly. This time around, the journalists and contributors at Fox News didn’t hesitate to fight back. As Fox News CEO Roger Ailes says in his written response to Trump, “We have never been deterred by politicians or anyone else attacking us for doing our job, much less allowed ourselves to be bullied by anyone and we’re certainly not going to start now.”

From Twitter:

One might wonder if Trump’s supporters are aware of Trump’s bullying behavior when it comes to using eminent domain to get property that he wants for private use, something that is an anathema to Conservatives.

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EASY DOES IT http://themoderatevoice.com/208134/easy-does-it/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208134/easy-does-it/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 23:46:43 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208134 “Sunrise, Sunset. Swiftly flow the days.” “Fiddler on the Roof” Perspective.

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EASY NOW

“Sunrise, Sunset.

Swiftly flow the days.”

“Fiddler on the Roof”

Perspective.

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5 reasons Biden would have hard time catching Clinton http://themoderatevoice.com/208132/5-reasons-biden-would-have-hard-time-catching-clinton/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208132/5-reasons-biden-would-have-hard-time-catching-clinton/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 22:45:06 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208132 WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden would have a rough time challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. They’re too much alike. They appeal to the same Democratic constituencies. Their Senate voting records are nearly identical. They even share the same controversies — both voted for the Iraq war. Biden, who is said to [...]

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WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden would have a rough time challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. They’re too much alike. They appeal to the same Democratic constituencies. Their Senate voting records are nearly identical. They even share the same controversies — both voted for the Iraq war. Biden, who is said to be…

Denis Simonov / Shutterstock.com

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USA Today Editorial Board Condemns Clinton As Joe Biden Meets With Elizabeth Warren http://themoderatevoice.com/208129/usa-today-editorial-board-condemns-clinton-as-joe-biden-meets-with-elizabeth-warren/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208129/usa-today-editorial-board-condemns-clinton-as-joe-biden-meets-with-elizabeth-warren/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 21:49:34 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208129 Hillary Clinton’s email scandal is not going to go away, even if Clinton tries to make jokes about it. As an example of the response her actions have received from the media, last weekend the editorial board of USA Today had an editorial entitled, Clinton email controversy is no joke: Our view. The subtitle: Presidential [...]

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Biden Warren meeting

Hillary Clinton’s email scandal is not going to go away, even if Clinton tries to make jokes about it. As an example of the response her actions have received from the media, last weekend the editorial board of USA Today had an editorial entitled, Clinton email controversy is no joke: Our view. The subtitle: Presidential candidate can laugh all she wants, but FBI investigations can’t be dismissed.

 Now that top secret information, intelligence agency inspectors general, the FBI and federal judges are involved, the matter is far from amusing.

Clinton, though, seems to think she can dismiss the controversy by making light of it. Earlier this month in Iowa, the presidential candidate joked to a crowd of Democratic Party faithful about sending future communications over the app Snapchat, which famously makes text and photos disappear soon after they are viewed. At a testy press availability on Tuesday, Clinton went for the laugh line again after being asked whether her email server had been wiped clean. “Like with a cloth?” she replied, adding that nobody talks to her about the email controversy except reporters.

Maybe she doesn’t get asked about it at tightly controlled town meetings, but the episode raises serious questions about the Democratic front-runner’s decision-making and commitment to openness in government.  One of the many reasons that it was a bad idea to mix personal and business messages is well known to anyone with an email account: As hard as you might try, you can’t control what comes into your inbox. And if you’re the secretary of State, that’s inevitably going to include some sensitive information.

Last week, a Justice Department national security investigation kicked into higher gear after intelligence agency officials determined that top secret information had indeed passed through the private email account. The FBI has taken control of the server and thumb drives storing backup data. The number of potentially classified emails involved jumped from a handful to more than 300, according to a State Department count filed in federal court. A federal judge overseeing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit said, “We wouldn’t be here today if this employee” — Clinton — “had followed government policy.”

…Scandals surrounding Clinton and her husband have a habit of being stoked by both the Clintons’ penchant for secrecy and their political enemies’ overzealousness. Amid all the investigations and lawsuits, a resolution of the email affair will be long in coming. A couple of things, however, are already clear.

One is that Clinton and her team should have turned the server over to the State Department’s inspector general, or perhaps the National Archives, for an independent, confidential sorting of the 62,000 messages. Instead, they took it on themselves to delete about half the messages as personal and scrub the server, raising inevitable suspicions about a coverup.

Another is that, contrary to the Clinton camp’s assertion that the controversy is a lot of “nonsense,” federal computer security is no joke. Regardless of whether Clinton broke any laws, her decisions about the server represented bad judgment bordering on recklessness.

This is hardly the first time that USA Today has been critical of Clinton’s actions and of the falsehoods she has told since the scandal broke.  Last week a Fact-check article showed that pretty much everything Clinton has said in her defense is false, stating “Clinton convicted herself with a multitude of misleading and error-riddled email apologies.”

They are not the only ones to find this. Multiple fact-check articles have exposed false statements made by Clinton regarding the scandal, including Factcheck.org which found multiple untrue statements in Clinton’s CNN interview. The Washington Post Fact Checker has awarded Clinton Three Pinoccios on more than one occasion, including for Hillary Clinton’s claim that ‘everything I did [on e-mails] was permitted’. The top Freedom of Information Act official at the Justice Department has stated that Clinton was in violation of the rules and the State Department’s top Freedom of Information Act officer has called her use of a private server unacceptable.

While the email has received most of the coverage since the Justice Department took possession of the server and classified documents were found, the Clinton Foundation scandals are closely related. In May, the editorial board of USA Today had an editorial entitled Only the Clintons seem blind to foundation’s conflicts: Our view.

These scandals call into question whether Democrats can take the risk of nominating Hillary Clinton, and hopefully some are also questioning the ethics of allowing her to be their candidate.  Talk of Joe Biden running has replaced most of the non-Trump campaign news. Bidens meeting with Elizabeth Warren over the weekend further fueled all sorts of speculation, as did the  The Wall Street Journal headline:  Joe Biden Is Leaning Toward a 2016 Run.

The Washington Post directly ties this to Clinton’s scandals:

His consideration of another campaign comes as front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton has fielded mounting questions about her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

The news that the FBI is investigating whether the system put any classified information at risk has rattled some top party financiers, particularly donors who were major players in Obama’s fundraising network who have little personal history with the Clintons. In the last few weeks, e-mails and calls have been flying back and forth between top bundlers as they try to assess how serious Biden is and whether Clinton is on shaky ground.

“The network is starting to reach out,” said one major Obama fundraiser, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations. “I’m getting calls from people saying, ‘We’re waiting for him to announce.’ People are nervous and weary of the Hillary side show, of the emails.”

Update: Sanders Leads Clinton In Another New Hampshire Poll, Drawing Support From Both Moderates And Liberals

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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The First Amendment: freedom of religion and freedom from religion http://themoderatevoice.com/208127/the-first-amendment-freedom-of-religion-and-freedom-from-religion/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208127/the-first-amendment-freedom-of-religion-and-freedom-from-religion/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 20:02:15 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208127 The first part of the First Amendment to the Constitution deals with religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. With these sixteen words, the framers of the Constitution ensured that the new government of the United States would not and could not create a national [...]

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The first part of the First Amendment to the Constitution deals with religion:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

With these sixteen words, the framers of the Constitution ensured that the new government of the United States would not and could not create a national church or religion as Henry VIII had done in England. These words also ensure what many refer to as “freedom of religion” or “religious liberty”. Equally as important is that these sixteen words also guarantee freedom from religion. The new government could not require or force any citizens to belong to and financially support any religion. Freedom from religion was to the citizens creating a new government, and is to us, just as important as freedom of religion.

Forced religion was a problem in the Colonies prior to gaining independence from England. In Massachusetts Bay Colony, in particularly, the Puritan religious leaders exercised a great deal of control in the cities and towns. They had no tolerance for dissenters. Both Connecticut and Rhode Island were established by men who who did not agree with Puritan leaders.

Maryland was created as a safe haven for Catholics who were looked upon with disdain by the Anglicans, Pilgrims and Puritans in the Colonies. Pennsylvania was also established as a colony which offered religious toleration to those who did not follow the Anglican tradition or the Puritan beliefs. The southern Colonies remained faithful to the Anglican religion which meant that the citizens in those colonies were required to financially support their local churches.

The Framers of the Constitution, regardless of their own individual beliefs, chose to leave religion out of that document and include an amendment which prohibited the creation of a national religion. Unfortunately, even the first sixteen words of the First Amendment has not stopped various religious groups from attempting to influence voting and legislation based not on the law, but on their own religious beliefs. In sermons and homilies and television broadcasts from Churches throughout the country, priests, pastors and televangelists use their pulpits to command their parishioners to vote conservatively and oppose legislation which is, in the opinion of religious leaders, contrary to their interpretations of the Bible.

If the Framers had wanted Congress, the President and the Judiciary to enact, pass and review legislation based on religious views and the Bible, they would have put it in the Constitution. Instead they deliberately kept religion out of the government and so must we.

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Do Donald Trump and his supporters want the Democratic Party to win the White House in 2016? http://themoderatevoice.com/208051/do-donald-trump-and-his-supporters-want-the-democratic-party-to-win-the-white-house-in-2016/ http://themoderatevoice.com/208051/do-donald-trump-and-his-supporters-want-the-democratic-party-to-win-the-white-house-in-2016/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 20:00:06 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=208051 Watching Donald Trump rise in popularity within the GOP is like watching a train wreck, with the train being the GOP. Right now, Democrats must be on their knees thanking God for Donald Trump, because the 2016 presidential election was going to be lost by them until he jumped into the contest. Trump would be [...]

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Trumpenstein

Watching Donald Trump rise in popularity within the GOP is like watching a train wreck, with the train being the GOP.

Right now, Democrats must be on their knees thanking God for Donald Trump, because the 2016 presidential election was going to be lost by them until he jumped into the contest.

Trump would be a side-show attraction in the current political circus if it weren’t for the alleged Republicans who are cheering him on. The latter are behaving like Minions in search of a villain to serve. Well, they have found one.

Are Trump’s supporters oblivious to the fact that Trump’s rantings are as toxic as Gru’s jelly?

Charles Krauthammer writes, “If you are a conservative alarmed at the country’s direction and committed to retaking the White House, you should be concerned about what Trump’s ascendancy is doing to the chances of that happening. The Democrats’ presumptive candidate is flailing badly. Republicans have an unusually talented field with a good chance of winning back the presidency. Do they really want to be dragged into the swamps — right now, on immigration — that will make that prospect electorally impossible? Yes, I understand. The anger, the frustration, etc., etc., that Trump is channeling. But how are these alleviated by yelling “I’m mad as hell” — and proceeding to elect Hillary Clinton?”

In a Washington Post column, George Will says this:

It has come to this: The GOP, formerly the party of Lincoln and ostensibly the party of liberty and limited government, is being defined by clamors for a mass roundup and deportation of millions of human beings. To will an end is to will the means for the end, so the Republican clamors are also for the requisite expansion of government’s size and coercive powers.

Most of Donald Trump’s normally loquacious rivals are swaggeringly eager to confront Vladimir Putin but are too invertebrate — Lindsey Graham is an honorable exception — to voice robust disgust with Trump and the spirit of, the police measures necessary for and the cruelties that would accompany his policy.

In a Weekly Standard blog post, Jay Cost explains just how amateurish Trump is.

The winning political position for conservatives is to insist on proper enforcement mechanisms and a visa program that works for the whole country, and then to deal compassionately with the people who are already here illegally – some form of legal status that falls short of citizenship. To whatever extent they constitute a public policy problem, it does not justify the draconian measure of mass deportation. Instead, conservatives should focus on fixing the system that let them in.

But Trump seems incapable of such nuance. For instance, he told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that illegal immigrants in this country “have to go,” including the DREAMers (i.e. those illegal immigrants who were brought here as children, have no criminal backgrounds, and gone to college or joined the military). This is an unequivocal loser for conservatives. The DREAMers, after all, are a small cohort who receive outsized national attention because they are a politically sympathetic group. A skillful politician would gladly compromise on the DREAMers, knowing that the real goal is to ensure that effective enforcement mechanisms take effect before any legalization.

But Trump is not a skillful politician. He is an amateur, and a vain one at that. Todd baited the hook, and Trump eagerly took a chomp. He couldn’t help himself, even though it makes him look like a nativist, not to mention a statist. How many federal police officers would be needed to track down 11 million illegal immigrants? More than I care to hire, that’s for sure.

It used to be that angry villagers would attack a monster with torches and pitchforks, but the Howard Beale wing of the GOP is cheering the monster of Manhattan, despite the damage that Trumpenstein is doing to the GOP village.

Oh well, if Dr. Nefario can create a cure for Gru’s Minions, then perhaps he can create a cure for Trump’s. It’s too bad that a fart gun won’t work on Trump, because he stinks already.

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This post sponsored by the maker of Pérez’s Churros, the churros that make little kids go

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