ON THE RECORD ....

“In the America that the Republican presidential front-runner would create, our republic would become a sectarian war zone. Our democracy would become a place where those with different views would be treated as enemies ruled by a bully who campaigns on a cult of negativity and has recently been called liar of the year by a nationally respected fact-checker.” -- Brent Budosky 12/31/15 

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Oligarchy, rule by the few, also tends to become rule by the monstrously self-centered. Narcisstocracy? Jerkigarchy? Anyway, it’s an ugly spectacle, and it’s probably going to get even uglier over the course of the year ahead.” -- Paul Krugman about the power of money in politics and the way it lets the wealthy rig the system and distort policy priorities. 1/01/16 

“I just don’t like to use the same thing twice on one of my enemies, because I consider them enemies. We view this as war. Don’t we view this as war? It’s war, it’s war!” — Donald Trump, explaining why he won’t call Hillary Clinton “low energy” as he did with Jeb Bush. 

"Nobody has proven that he's killed anyone. ... He's always denied it. It's never been proven that he's killed anybody. You're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, at least in our country. It has not been proven that he's killed reporters." -- Trump on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday

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“You can’t use hairspray because hairspray is going to affect the ozone.” -- Donald Trump said that President Obama’s concerns about the environment were infringing on his rights to use aerosol hairspray however, aerosol sprays were actually phased out in the United States in the 1990s, years before Obama was president. 

"I hate some of these people. I hate 'em,. I would never kill them. I would never do that." -- Trump, who may hate America's journalists, but as he assured a crowd that he wouldn't kill "such lying disgusting people." 12/22/15 

"He (Trump) would not exist were it not for Barack Obama. He is the [antidote] in some people's minds to the politically correct, divisive policies of Barack Obama." -- Jeb!, who seems to be enjoying all the attention he’s getting for attacking Donald Trump, is now trying to drag President Obama into that mess: 12/22/15 

"He was born in Canada. If you know and when we all studied our history lessons, you are supposed to be born in this country, so I just don't know how the courts would rule on it. It's an additional hurdle that he has." -- Trump about Ted Cruz. 1/05/16 

 

 

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. GunFAIL
2. Jerry Seinfeld’s "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” with Barack Obama
3. The DAILY GRILL
4. Stephen Colbert: The End of Jeb!
5. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
6. Rubio Helped Ex-Con Get Real Estate License
7. Koch network rivals the GOP
8. Reuters/Ipsos poll: Republicans trail Democrats in percentage likely to vote in 2016
9. The Borowitz Report: Trump Calls His Al Qaeda Recruitment Video Highest-Rated Terror Video Ever
10.Why Fact-Checking Donald Trump Doesn’t Work
11. Terrorists? Freedom fighters? Oregon standoff poses quandary for media
12. Chris Christie Refuses To Help Unemployed New Jersey Residents Hold Onto Food Stamps 
13. Audubon Society of Portland Statement on the Occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
14. GOP Candidates Quiet on Oregon Standoff
15. Most see climate change as a serious issue - Republicans, not so much
16. GOP scrambles for response to Obama's gun control actions
17. "The Daily Show" w/Trevor Noah: With Love To The Oregon Militia 

OPINION

1. Matt Taibbi: How the campaign's biggest laugh turned ugly in 2015. In the Year of Trump, the Joke Was On Us
2. Joan Walsh: How to Understand Donald Trump’s Sexist New Low
3. Dana Milbank: From Kim Davis to Oregon, the GOP’s love affair with lawbreakers
4. Josh Israel: Donald Trump Thanks Conspiracy Site For ‘Amazing Honor’ Of Being Its Man Of The Year
5. NY Times Editorial Board: The Pentagon’s Insubordination on Guantánamo
6. Alexander Hurst: Donald Trump and the Politics of Disgust
7. Ryan Cooper: How to beat back 2015's ugly spread of inequality, hate, and proto-fascism 
8. Alex Isenstadt: Trump and Cruz send shivers down GOP spines 
9. Michael Grunwald: Everything Is (Even More) Awesome! 

   
FYI
 
   

1. GunFAIL

GunFAIL CLXX 

36 guns were discovered by TSA agents at airports across the country, during the week of 11/27 to 12/03.

Freedom-loving Chicagoans are surely excited to finally be able to carry concealed firearms, especially folks with a particularly pressing need to protect themselves. Like the cell phone store owner who, defending himself from an armed robber, sprang into action to put a bullet in the chest of an innocent 27-year-old man at the bus stop across the street, and another through the wall of the apartment of a nearby family of five (and into their TV set). Take that, knave! Whoever you are, that is. Because he left the scene, unharmed. But he didn’t get away with the money! Which is a good thing, because maybe the store owner should pick up the hospital tab for the poor fellow across the street, or the repair bills for his neighbor’s walls, not to mention the TV. Still, freedom! Where else but in America could 16 hours of training buy you such deadly accuracy? Assuming you think public transportation and private consumer electronics are tyrannical, that is. Read more at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/12/23/1455178/-Chicago-shop-owner-finally-allowed-to-defend-himself-shoots-everyone-but-the-robber-GunFAIL-CLXX

GunFAIL CLXXI

47 guns were discovered by TSA agents at airports across the country, during the week of 11/4-10/15.

Just as we noted during the last installment, there’s no off season for accidentally shooting yourself, family members, or nearby children. Twenty-two people accidentally shot themselves, 12 kids were accidentally shot, and 10 of our original 45 listings ended in fatalities. Three people accidentally fired into the homes of their neighbors, and three accidentally fired guns they were cleaning at the time. Just two accidents involved law enforcement officers and/or members of the military. Read more at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/12/26/1457587/-What-can-Brown-shoot-for-you-GunFAIL-CLXXI

NOTE: In four days before President Obama announced his new executive actions at least 147 people were killed by guns, according to a Vocativ analysis. 1/05/15 Read more at http://www.vocativ.com/news/267453/guns-have-already-killed-at-least-147-people-in-2016/

2. Jerry Seinfeld’s "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” with Barack Obama

http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com/president-barack-obama-just-tell-him-you-re-the-president

3. The DAILY GRILL 

"He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists." -- Hillary Clinton 12/19/15 

VERSUS

"I will demand an apology from Hillary," -- Trump on NBC's "The Today Show." 12/21/15 

VERSUS

Al-Shabab, al-Qaeda's Somalia-based affiliate, has released a 51 minute propaganda video which includes Trump's December 7th rally in South Carolina, where he called for his now-notorious Muslim immigrant ban." -- TPM 1/01/16 

 

"He'll stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for." -- Narrator of Trump ad with video footage that shows dozens of people streaming across the border, as if they were ants fleeing an anthill. 

VERSUS

Trump’s television ad purports to show Mexicans swarming over "our southern border." However, the footage used to support this point actually shows African migrants streaming over a border fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla, more than 5,000 miles away. -- Politifact, which rated the ad “Pants on Fire.” 

 

TED CRUZ CAN RUN FOR PRESIDENT! I worried on @seanhannity @ his Calgary birth, But his mother was a US citizen, so he was born a citizen. -- Ann Coulter @AnnCoulter 14 Feb 2013

VERSUS

NYT: Cruz was born outside the U.S. to 1 American parent: "Under the Constitution this makes him a 'natural born citizen.'” Absolutely false-- Ann Coulter @AnnCoulter 6 Jan 2016

 

“As a general rule, people in the United States who are here without documents should not benefit from programs like in-state tuition.”-- Marco Rubio October 2011 

VERSUS

A law permitting in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants “should be something they could consider... I think the better approach is to solve the immigration problem at the federal level.” -- Marco Rubio 2014 


“You know, there is a loophole here. We should address that.”— Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2013, on the gun show loophole. 

VERSUS

“There is no loophole… This is a distraction.” — Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), quoted by the AP 1/06.16. 

4. Stephen Colbert: The End of Jeb!

https://youtu.be/T9xoVdRgDiU

5. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

For the 15 most ridiculous things conservative media said about climate change in 2015 go to: http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/12/30/the-15-most-ridiculous-things-conservative-medi/207669

How Shoddy NY Times Journalism Has Already Marred Campaign Reporting - Hillary Clinton The Target Of All Three Botched Hits http://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/01/02/how-shoddy-ny-times-journalism-has-already-marr/207685

Fox News: Where Protests Against Racial Discrimination Are Anarchy But Armed Protests Against Federal Law Are "Patriotic" http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/11/12/fox-news-where-protests-against-racial-discrimi/206819

The Money Behind Fox's Promotion Of Cliven Bundy's Battle With The Feds http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/04/25/the-money-behind-foxs-promotion-of-cliven-bundy/199034

Limbaugh Speculates That Hillary Clinton "Would Donate Enough Money To A Terror Group" To Create A Recruitment Video Featuring Donald Trump http://mediamatters.org/video/2016/01/04/limbaugh-speculates-that-hillary-clinton-would/207719

Vanity Fair's Glowing Megyn Kelly Profile Inadvertently Reveals Why She's Fox News' Most Dangerous Host though Kelly bills her show "as a 'news' show as opposed to an opinion show, like Hannity or The O'Reilly Factor, [it] is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows at any other time." In other words, beneath Kelly's veneer of credibility lies the same partisan misinformation typical of the network: http://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/01/04/vanity-fairs-glowing-megyn-kelly-profile-inadve/207715

Fox Contributor Deneen Borelli Cites "Government Gone Wild" To Justify Oregon Standoff http://mediamatters.org/video/2016/01/04/fox-contributor-deneen-borelli-cites-government/207712

Conservatives Mock Obama For Crying About Child Victims Of Gun Violence During Speech http://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/01/05/conservatives-mock-obama-for-crying-about-child/207764

NRA Says Executive Action On Gun Violence Is Frivolous, Terrifying http://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/01/05/nra-says-executive-action-on-gun-violence-is-fr/207779

Fox host: President Obama put a ‘raw onion’ in his podium so he could cry fake tears for kids killed by guns http://www.rawstory.com/2016/01/fox-host-president-obama-put-a-raw-onion-in-his-podium-so-he-could-cry-fake-tears-for-kids-killed-by-guns/

The Background Check System Has Stopped More Than 2.1 Million Sales To Prohibited Persons Over The Past 20 Years. Even with loopholes such as the "gun show loophole," the federal background check system has stopped more than 2.1 million prohibited sales since its inception, according to a report from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. http://mediamatters.org/research/2016/01/05/myths-and-facts-surrounding-president-obamas-ex/207782#section2

NRA Says Executive Action On Gun Violence Is Frivolous, Terrifying http://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/01/05/nra-says-executive-action-on-gun-violence-is-fr/207779

6. Rubio Helped Ex-Con Get Real Estate License

“When Marco Rubio was majority whip of the Florida House of Representatives, he used his official position to urge state regulators to grant a real estate license to his brother-in-law Cicilia, a convicted cocaine trafficker who had been released from prison 20 months earlier.

Cicilia, who was convicted in a high-profile 1989 trial of distributing $15 million worth of cocaine. The federal government seized Cicilia’s home; the money has never been found.” 12/30/15 Read more at https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/how-marco-rubio-helped-his-ex-con-relative-get-a-real-estate-license/2015/12/30/a1d96816-ae7f-11e5-9ab0-884d1cc4b33e_story.html

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7. The Koch network rivals the GOP

Koch and his brother David Koch have quietly assembled, piece by piece, a privatized political and policy advocacy operation like no other in American history that today includes hundreds of donors and employs 1,200 full-time, year-round staffers in 107 offices nationwide. That’s about 3½ times as many employees as the Republican National Committee and its congressional campaign arms had on their main payrolls last month, according to POLITICO’s analysis of tax and campaign documents and interviews with sources familiar with the network. And the staggering sum the network plans to spend in the 2016 election run-up ― $889 million ― is more than double what the RNC spent in the previous presidential cycle. 12/30/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/12/koch-brothers-network-gop-david-charles-217124


8. Reuters/Ipsos poll: Republicans trail Democrats in percentage likely to vote in 2016

The percentage of Republicans among those likely to vote in the 2016 election lags Democrats by 9 percentage points, compared with a 6-point deficit in the year leading up to Barack Obama’s 2012 victory. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-republicans-idUSKBN0UD0X220151230

9. The Borowitz Report: Trump Calls His Al Qaeda Recruitment Video Highest-Rated Terror Video Ever

Just minutes after the Somali-based Al Qaeda affiliate Shabaab group released a propaganda video featuring a clip of Donald Trump, the Republican Presidential front-runner boasted that the video would be the highest-rated terror video of all time.

Within an hour of the video’s appearance, Trump took to Twitter to crow about his role in the jihadist promo, and tweaked his G.O.P. rivals for failing to be chosen by Shabaab.

“Shabaab would never put Jeb in video,” Trump tweeted. “Knows he is loser!” 

Elsewhere, Obama Continued to Stubbornly Link Gun Violence with Guns

 In campaign stops across Iowa and New Hampshire, the G.O.P. hopefuls pounded the President for irrationally concluding that guns have played a role in the nation’s epidemic of mass shootings.

“How any reasonable person could look at gun violence and say that guns are involved is beyond me,” said Texas Senator Ted Cruz. “And yet, somehow, President Obama always finds a way.”

“I would very much like to have a conversation about gun violence, as President Obama has said he wants to have,” said Florida Senator Marco Rubio. “But as long as he keeps falling back on this tired, unproven connection between gun violence and guns, there’s just no point.”

The former Hewlett-Packard C.E.O. Carly Fiorina said that Obama’s persistent linking of gun violence with guns was “sad but not surprising, from a man who believes that people’s health can be improved by access to health care.” Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

10. Why Fact-Checking Donald Trump Doesn’t Work

There are similarities in the behavior of Donald Trump supporters and people who are committed to anti-science beliefs.

In a 2014 study, Brendan Nyhan and several other researchers found that when parents with negative feelings about vaccines were presented with evidence that vaccines do not cause autism, they actually reported being less likely to vaccinate their children. The corrective information had a negative effect.

For highly controversial issues and political figures, there’s a risk that correct information is not only ineffective, but can make misconceptions worse. People who are exposed to correct information in the context of a debate over a controversial issue can end up believing more strongly in the misperception than people who never saw the correct information. 1/02/16 Read more at http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/12/fact_checking_trump_can_backfire_due_to_motivated_reasoning.html?wpsrc=sh_all_mob_em_top

11. Terrorists? Freedom fighters? Oregon standoff poses quandary for media

The media’s attempts to find a neutral formulation were in stark contrast with the partisan fray on social media, where supporters and detractors of the protest group found their own adjectives. The majority of those posting under the Twitter hashtag ­#OregonUnderAttack seemed to prefer more loaded phrases, such as “domestic terrorists.”

Scott Wilson, The Washington Post’s national editor, said the paper is using the terms “occupiers” and “militia members” when those involved identify themselves that way. 1/03/15 Read more at https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/terrorists-freedom-fighters-oregon-standoff-poses-quandary-for-media/2016/01/03/3fe21342-b26c-11e5-9388-466021d971de_story.html

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12. Chris Christie Refuses To Help Unemployed New Jersey Residents Hold Onto Food Stamps

About 11,000 New Jersey residents are set to lose their food stamps after Gov. Chris Christie’s administration said it won’t seek any waivers from the program’s work requirements.

Since 2009, state governors have been encouraged to get waivers from the federal government for the requirement that able-bodied, childless adults work at least 20 hours a week to enroll in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, thanks to a weak economy where jobs have been scarce. Those waivers are now being rescinded in states with unemployment levels below 10 percent.

This population is already extremely vulnerable: unemployed, able-bodied, childless adults on SNAP have an average gross income of just $2,200 a year for an individual. Their job prospects are also limited, as they are more likely than others who receive food stamps to lack basic skills like reading, writing, and math. 1/02/15 Read more at http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2016/01/02/3735561/christie-food-stamps-waiver/

13. Audubon Society of Portland Statement on the Occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt to protect the vast populations of waterbirds that were being decimated by wanton killing by the plume trade. The 188,000 acre refuge represents some of the most important bird habitat on the Pacific Flyway. It is one of the crown jewels of the National Wildlife Refuge System and belongs to all Americans. In 2013, the Refuge adopted a long-term management plan developed through an inclusive collaborative process that brought together the local community, tribes, conservation groups, state and federal agencies, and other stakeholders. These stakeholders have continued to work together to implement this strategy which includes one of the biggest wetland restoration efforts ever undertaken.

The occupation of Malheur by armed, out of state militia groups puts one of America’s most important wildlife refuges at risk. It violates the most basic principles of the Public Trust Doctrine and holds hostage public lands and public resources to serve the very narrow political agenda of the occupiers. The occupiers have used the flimsiest of pretexts to justify their actions—the conviction of two local ranchers in a case involving arson and poaching on public lands. Notably, neither the local community or the individuals convicted have requested or endorsed the occupation or the assistance of militia groups.1/03/15 Read more at http://audubonportland.org/news/audubon-society-of-portland-statement-on-the-occupation-of-malheur-national-wildlife-refuge

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14. GOP Candidates Quiet on Oregon Standoff

Republican presidential candidates are staying mum as an armed group has taken over part of a national wildlife refuge in rural Oregon — even those who supported the father of at least one of its leaders, who had his own standoff with the government in 2014, and have called for limits on federal control over Western land. 1/03/16 Read more at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/gop-candidates-stay-quiet-on-oregon-standoff/2016/01/03/b8b9806c-b239-11e5-9388-466021d971de_story.html

15. Most see climate change as a serious issue - Republicans, not so much

A new Monmouth poll finds 70% of Americans say that the world’s climate is undergoing a change leading to more extreme weather patterns and sea level rise, including 41% who call climate change a very serious problem.

Key takeaway: “There is a significant partisan divide in this view.  A majority of Democrats (63%) and a plurality of independents (42%) see climate change as a very serious issue, while just 18% of Republicans agree.  On the flip side, a plurality of Republicans (43%) believe climate change is not happening at all, compared with just 17% of independents and 10% of Democrats who feel the same.” 1/05/16 Read more at http://www.monmouth.edu/assets/0/32212254770/32212254991/
32212254992/32212254994/32212254995/30064771087/bbab2f4a-3eef-4772-9b82-8fbdd996452a.pdf

16. GOP scrambles for response to Obama's gun control actions

Congressional Republicans are scrambling for a way to halt President Obama's new unilateral actions on gun control.

Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), has threatened to block federal funding for the Department of Justice unless the president’s actions are reversed. But last year’s trillion-dollar spending deal already funds the department through September, limiting the GOP’s leverage.

“We will be using every tool in the toolkit to stop him,” said one senior Republican lawmaker who is close to leadership. "All options are on the table.” 01/05/16 Read more at http://thehill.com/homenews/house/264812-gop-scrambles-for-response-on-guns.

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17. "The Daily Show" w/Trevor Noah: With Love To The Oregon Militia

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/7vytry/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah-with-love-to-the-oregon-militia

   
OPINION
 
   

1. Matt Taibbi: How the campaign's biggest laugh turned ugly in 2015. In the Year of Trump, the Joke Was On Us

It started out as a joke: Donald Trump running for president! What better way to spoof the thinness of the Republican field than to shove a bombastic reality star with orange hair, a sixth-grade vocabulary and no behavioral filter onto the debate stage with the likes of Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker and Lindsey Graham? The only thing more perfect would have been to add a head of lettuce and Koko the signing gorilla to round out the candidate slate.

But things turned ugly less than 45 minutes into his run. In his announcement, Trump told the world that Mexican immigrants were "rapists" who needed to be stopped. Then, in an interview with CNN's Don Lemon, he doubled down on the remark instead of recanting. "Well, somebody's doing the raping," he seethed. A week later, Mexicans, to Trump, were not just rapists but "rapists and killers," and he was now adding a proposal to build a giant wall across the Mexican border to stop the Army of Darkness-style invading rape-murder horde. The wall would be "tall" and building it would be "easy," he said, adding that he would get Mexico to pay for it, because he knew the "art of negotiating" and wasn't a "clown."

All comedy is about misunderstandings. A little town gets word that a government inspector is coming, so it mistakenly rolls out the red carpet for a visiting drunk on a gambling spree.

2015 was the same kind of mistaken-identity tale. The Silent Majority has been waiting 50 years for a prophet, but this year it settled for a billionaire loudmouth with a comb-over and a personality disorder. Like all comedies, this one is bound to end with an explosion of unintended consequences. What we won't know until 2016 is whether this joke will end up being on all of us — or just those of us who waited too long to take Trump's accidental war seriously. 12/29/15 Read more at http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-year-the-trump-laughter-died-20151229

2. Joan Walsh: How to Understand Donald Trump’s Sexist New Low

Calling Clinton an “enabler” of her husband’s misbehavior, Trump brings more hate from the right-wing fever swamp into the mainstream.

Donald Trump, the man of the bottomless bottom, is making headlines for slurring Hillary Clinton as an “enabler” of her husband’s sexual misbehavior. Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s Hardball, who doesn’t shock easily, seemed staggered by it Monday night, insisting he’d never heard such a claim about Clinton before. “It’s beyond indecent,” he said.

Trump is doing what he’s so good at doing: dragging ugly mutant ideas from the dark, dank swamps of right-wing paranoia and setting them free in the mainstream, where they shock some journalists, disgust most Americans and whip up the GOP base. The GOP front-runner got angry when Clinton accused him of sexism (after he said she’d been “schlonged” by Barack Obama in 2008 and called her mid-debate bathroom break “disgusting.”) Of course, with typical Trump logic, he’s retaliating with one of the most sexist insults to Clinton so far in this campaign. Blaming a woman for her husband’s infidelity takes a special kind of misogyny. It will only worsen his already sizable gender gap at the polls.1/05/15 Read more at http://www.thenation.com/article/how-to-understand-donald-trumps-sexist-new-low/

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3. Dana Milbank: From Kim Davis to Oregon, the GOP’s love affair with lawbreakers

Flirting with extremists helps conservative candidates harness the prodigious anger in the electorate. A poll released this weekend by NBC, Esquire and Survey Monkey found anger is particularly intense among Republicans: Seventy-seven percent said the news makes them angry at least once a day (compared with 67 percent of Democrats). Seventy-three percent of white Americans are angered daily (vs. 66 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of African Americans).

So when some very angry people led by Ammon Bundy took over the (unoccupied) compound at the wildlife preserve over the weekend, the Republican presidential candidates reacted mostly with silence. A scan of tweets from Republican lawmakers also found nary a peep about the armed takeover of the federal facility. An admirable exception (and one whose low standing proves the rule) was John Kasich, whose strategist John Weaver suggested “a good federal compound for Bundy and his gang: a U.S. penitentiary.”

Finally, in a radio interview Monday, Marco Rubio said the militants “cannot be lawless” — though he added that he agrees with their complaints about federal lands. And Cruz, responding to a question, said he hoped Bundy’s gang would “stand down peaceably” because “we don’t have a constitutional right to use force and violence.”

That was mild criticism — Bundy had said he has no intention of using violence — but better than the usual wink.

As it happens, Cruz also released a TV ad Monday protesting inadequate enforcement of the border. “The rule of law,” he says in the ad, “wasn’t meant to be broken.” That’s a fine sentiment. But to live under the rule of law we must follow all laws — not just those we like. 1/04/16 Read more at https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/from-kim-davis-to-oregon-the-gops-love-affair-with-lawbreakers/2016/01/04/0d83394e-b320-11e5-9388-466021d971de_story.html

angry-white-men.jpg

4. Josh Israel: Donald Trump Thanks Conspiracy Site For ‘Amazing Honor’ Of Being Its Man Of The Year

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump took to Facebook on Thursday morning to thank a right-wing conspiracy website for the “amazing honor” of naming him its Man of the Year. Trump told the publication, WorldNetDaily, that he “very much” appreciates its “informative polls and coverage.”

WorldNetDaily’s founder and editor Joseph Farah is one of the nation’s leading purveyors of “birther” conspiracy theories — the repeatedly debunked notion that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya — publishing more than 600 posts on the topic. Even after Obama released his long-form birth certificate indicating his birth in Hawaii, Farah claimed that this proved nothing. Trump has frequently repeated these claims and Politico reported in 2011 that Farah frequently advised the billionaire investor and former reality show host.

But Farah’s and WND’s conspiracy theories do not end with the president’s birthplace. In a 2011 column, he accused Muslims of promoting a “homosexual agenda” to help destroy America. That same year, he called a minor earthquake in Washington, D.C. a punishment from God for “disobedience and indifference to our Creator,” while warning that the city “deserves” worse. In 2012, he claimed that Obama’s re-election would mean that he and other conservatives would be “hunted down like dogs.” And earlier this month, Farah wrote on the site that the Obama administration is “facilitating, enabling, and empowering” terrorist attacks “by jihadis.”

According to Right Wing Watch, Trump is scheduled to speak at a March conference for Farah’s Western Center for Journalism, at which Farah will be honored by his own group as a “Hero of Freedom.” 12/31/15 Read more at http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2015/12/31/3735448/donald-trump-wnd-man-of-the-year/

5. NY Times Editorial Board: The Pentagon’s Insubordination on Guantánamo

In recent years, Congress and the Pentagon have stood in the way of President Obama’s goal of shutting down the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The legislative hurdles have been predictable in a Republican-led Congress that so often opposes Mr. Obama’s initiatives reflexively. The stalling at the Defense Department, where officials have used every bureaucratic trick in the book to slow down the release of inmates, is startling, though, and basically amounts to insubordination.

A Reuters article on Tuesday shed new light on the Pentagon’s obstinance on Guantánamo and the extent to which the department has sought to keep detainees locked away for years without due process in a prison established to sidestep the Constitution and international law.

Time after time, officials at the Pentagon have found ways to delay releases. For instance, Gen. John Kelly, the commander of the United States Southern Command, which oversees the naval base in Cuba, has made it unnecessarily hard for foreign delegations to visit the prison. This has stymied negotiations with countries that have been willing to explore the possibility of taking Guantánamo detainees whom the American government won’t send back to their countries because of security concerns.

Despite the Pentagon’s intransigence, the White House hopes to reduce the inmate population of 107 significantly over the next few months. Seventeen detainees who have received final transfer approval are scheduled for release in the coming weeks. Officials say that as many as 30 more could be released by the summer, reducing the count to roughly 60. The smaller the number the more likely that the detainees could be moved to a prison in the United States until a final disposition can be made in their cases.

Pentagon officials can do a lot to thwart releases during Mr. Obama’s last year in office. He can make that less likely by empowering a senior official to set clear goals and deadlines, and order defense officials to meet them. 1/02/15 Read more at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/03/opinion/sunday/the-pentagons-insubordination-on-guantanamo.html

6. Alexander Hurst: Donald Trump and the Politics of Disgust

Last week, Donald Trump was once again disgusted. Commenting on Hillary Clinton’s awkward bathroom break during the last Democratic debate, he said, “I know where she went, it’s disgusting, I don’t want to talk about it. No, it’s too disgusting. Don’t say it, it’s disgusting, let’s not talk.”

It’s not the first time that Trump has been perturbed by a bodily function. As Frank Bruni noted in his New York Times column, Trump has been publicly disgusted by Marco Rubio’s sweat and by the idea of pumping breast milk. Then there was his notorious comment about Fox News host Megyn Kelly, in which he conveyed an almost visceral revulsion: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

David Pizarro, a professor of psychology at Cornell who studies disgust, says that while it is only one component of a political ideology, he was surprised at the robustness of the connection between holding conservative views and being easily disgusted. “Trump,” he adds, “is using a strategy that I would predict would be very effective” in connecting with certain voters in a deep way. Pizarro points out that disgust is an easier emotion to elicit than anger, happiness, or sadness, and that disgust is furthermore characterized by its exclusionary and associative characteristics.

When Trump invokes “rapists, drug dealers, killers,” or talks about Marco Rubio’s sweating, or says that Hillary Clinton got “schlonged,” it presents his supporters, caught in the intersection of disgust and fear, with people against whom they can recoil. Feminism, Islam, a majority-minority society, pressing 1 for English and 2 for Spanish, Barack Obama himself—there is something bad, something impure that has infiltrated America, and it must be expelled. 

Interviewed by CNN on their response to his proposed ban on Muslim travel to the United States, Trump supporters seem eager to flaunt this disgust. “I don’t want them here, who knows what they are going to bring into this country,” one says. “Bombs, ISIS, I don’t know, they need to go.”

When reporters bring up the proposal to bomb the homes of terrorists, the reaction is even clearer. “Absolutely,” a woman says with a clear look of, well, disgust on her face. “People will continue to reproduce and they will raise their children in their beliefs.”

None of this is based in a reasoned analysis of what effective policy means. It is the primal reaction of voters to what frightens and disturbs them. 

When it comes to Mexicans, Muslims, and women, Trump and his supporters might be literally disgusted. “So long as he does it right,” says Pizarro, “he is tagging that emotion to other people.” The risk for Trump is that emotions go both ways. By voicing so much disgust, he might very well find that, to other voters, he has become an object of disgust himself. https://newrepublic.com/article/126837/donald-trump-politics-disgust

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7. Ryan Cooper: How to beat back 2015's ugly spread of inequality, hate, and proto-fascism

The American rich have more money, influence, and political power than at any time since the 1920s at least, and the result is a system that can barely manage to perpetuate itself. Extremist right-wing zillionaires, surrounded by idiot yes-men and ideological courtiers, now demand basically the entire welfare state be liquidated and handed over to themselves, heedless of the tremendous political and economic chaos — and threat to their own position — this would create.

Therefore, I submit that a mere facade of democracy — extrapolating out the logic of unlimited money in politics, extensive gerrymandering, and plummeting voter turnout — could be about as bad a dictatorship. And as evidenced by the rise of Trump and other right-wing parties across the globe, a failing democracy is more likely to lead to "dangerously regressive forces" as it is to a progressive revolution, as Yanis Varoufakis once argued.

Only a true democracy, with high participation, equal rights (necessarily implying an equitable distribution of economic power), and strong, decent norms holds the potential to permanently defeat the forces of white nationalism and hatred unleashed by Trump. The American system is very far from this standard, but it could be much, much worse — indeed it has been in recent history. Simply giving up in disgust promises little more than future elections in which Trump (or some future inheritor of his vile legacy) is the only choice on the ballot. 12/31/15 Read more at http://theweek.com/articles/596012/how-beat-back-2015s-ugly-spread-inequality-hate-protofascism

8. Alex Isenstadt: Trump and Cruz send shivers down GOP spines

“At some point, we have to deal with the fact that there are at least two candidates who could utterly destroy the Republican bench for a generation if they became the nominee,” said Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We’d be hard-pressed to elect a Republican dogcatcher north of the Mason-Dixon or west of the Mississippi.”

“Trump and Cruz are worrisome to most Republican candidates for governor, senator and Congress,” said Curt Anderson, a longtime GOP strategist and former Republican National Committee political director. “Some will say they are not worried, but they are.”

Romney has been calling around to former advisers to sound them out about the race, and to kvetch about Trump’s surprising durability. But in the immediate term, at least, he has expressed unwillingness to lend his hand to a stop-Trump effort — or to endorse a candidate more palatable to a GOP establishment paralyzed by his rise and worried that nominating him or Cruz would scupper an opportunity to control both the White House and Congress in 2017.

The concern is particularly acute in the Senate, where Republicans are fighting to preserve a relatively slim four-seat majority, defending more than half a dozen seats in hard-to-win swing states. Among them: Ohio, a presidential battleground state where Republican Sen. Rob Portman faces a perilous path to reelection. 01/05/16 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/donald-trump-ted-cruz-gop-fear-217345#ixzz3wQ3Jo3Zs\

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9. Michael Grunwald: Everything Is (Even More) Awesome!

As we enter 2016, Americans are still feeling grouchy. Only one-fourth of the public believes the United States is heading in the right direction. The Republican presidential debates have been malaise-a-thons, competitions to portray American decline in the most apocalyptic terms possible, while Bernie Sanders is pursuing the Democratic nomination with a message so depressing that professional curmudgeon Larry David has basically played him straight. A year after I wrote an article only somewhat ironically titled Everything Is Awesome, cable news is an endless Debbie Downer loop of terrorism fears and market jitters, periodically interrupted by a weirdly coifed nativist blowhard promising to Make America Great Again.

Ignore that guy. Ignore cable, too. America is already great, and it’s getting greater. Not everything is awesome, but in general, things are even more awesome than they were a year ago. The rest of the world can only wish it had our problems.

Start with the economy, which, if you listen to Sanders or the Republicans, is a garbage dump of existential despair. Actually, it’s doing quite well. Unemployment has dropped from 10 percent during the worst of the Great Recession to 5 percent today, thanks to a record 69 consecutive months of private-sector employment growth that has produced 13.7 million new jobs. The past two years have been the best two years for job creation in the 21st century. After a near-death experience during the financial meltdown of 2008, the U.S. auto industry enjoyed record sales in 2015. The housing market has also rebounded from the crisis, and after-tax corporate profits are at an all-time high. It can sound partisan to mention those facts when a Democrat is in the White House, but they’re facts. 1/06/16 Read more at http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/01/everything-is-even-more-awesome-213505#ixzz3wVQnqg5l