March 12, 2016

Hillary, AIDS, dogwhistles and Overton Windows

I said from the first I heard of Hillary Clinton's claim on Friday that Nancy Reagan was a leader in speaking out about AIDS in the 1980s that it wasn't just the "misspeaking" she later claimed. Being stronger, or harsher, on this than Brains, because I'm at the point where I naturally take the least charitable interpretation of things like this — one of those people who dings her in general for honestly and integrity — I think it was a dogwhistle.

(And, the claim of "misspeaking"? It was itself misspeaking; Reagan vetoed stem cell research, too.)

More examples of Hillary's dishonesty? She said today she didn't know where Bernie was on health care 20 years ago. Erm, he was ... "with her"!

Per Twitter, in case you're unaware:
There he was, right with you, just as pictured below.

I mean, with this issue on top of the AIDS issue, per Jaguar in comments, yes, it's a dogwhistle.

Or (and not mutually exclusive), per other links in Brains' piece, it's the old Overton Window:

Brains himself has added links in an update; Steve Thrasher agrees that it was a dogwhistle.

So, why? Cui bono?

Hillary herself benefits, or at least she thinks she does. That's the bottom line. Of course, she is less subtle about this than Bill.

To be more specific?
And, yes, establishmentarian pundits are trying to spin away the "misstatement" on AIDS by claiming establishment Dems thought that way in the 1980s.

No they didn't. Either that's two kiddos of the modern Inside the Beltway Brat Pack practicing something loosely related to journalism from being too young to know the 80s, or else, it's David Brock type spinmeistering. In either case, it's wrong.

Not just Ronnie, but a lot of Congressional Republicans were excoriated in the 1980s for their homophobia by Democrats. Maybe the party wasn't "gay friendly" in terms of promoting gay marriage 30 years ago, but it was gay friendly in the sense of calling out bigotry. Let's advance a decade and look at her own history, and Bill's, on DOMA, while we're at it. Democratic Underground has more.

Back to the Overton Window and dogwhistles plus today's spinmeisters.

Clinton's already adopted the strategy of trying to campaign past Sanders and campaign toward the general election, except in places like Rust Belt/Great Lakes states, where she's worried about him winning next Tuesday's primaries.

She's chasing those alleged centrist votes, espectially ones she thinks will shy away from voting Trump if the's the Republican nominee.

In other words, the same old shit that Democratic presidential nominees, and other A list national Dems, have done for 30-plus years. The reality is that most of Trump's support is from inside typical Republicans, just ones who haven't turned out to vote in past presidential primaries in some cases. Add that to repeated documentation that, at the Congressional level, Congresscritters of both parties think their constituents are even more conservative than is true, and Democrats who chase that Overton Window are on a mission as foolish as looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

But, Dear Leader also dogwhistled about his love for Ronnie eight years ago.

There they are again. So, did Hillary contract Alzheimer's from Ronnie?
Maybe Jean Houston forgot to "channel" this at Nancy's funeral?
On the health care?

As we look at another picture of Bernie quite clearly showing #ImWithHer in 1993?

Snark in the caption aside, this is no gaffe. It's a sign of desperation. It's a kitchen sink that she's now throwing herself, without benefit of, or "distancing" via, intermediaries. Such things are always dangerous politically.

Especially because of the polling that sites credibility as the No. problem people have with her.

March 11, 2016

What next for Ted Cruz? And a #GOPDebate wrap

Even in South Carolina, the wheels were starting to come off.

Accepting the resignation of/firing his communications director just before Nevada didn't help.

Per this post-Nevada post-mortem, it was clear the wheels had really come off the Cruz campaign, and that the "liar" angle was a primary reason why, counting fake Photoshopping as another version of lying, of course.

Beyond that, it's clear that Cruz's campaign staff was clueless on strategy. Yes, most other GOP candidates expected The Donald to fold; however, nobody else explicitly predicated their strategy on that happening. Rich Lowry nails it in that link; Cruz's plan to "draft" behind Trump, like a car behind a semi on the freeway, was a massive failure. Cruz's staff recognized that too late, and adapted way too late, and by that time, Cruz was already struggling with the liar burden.

That, too, appears to be from his campaign manager, who, despite allegedly being a "winner," has lost a number of races, too.

Yes, Cruz theoretically has a path to winning. But, other than Florida, the GOP largely moves out of the South and the heartland of the Religious Right for the rest of the primary cycle. And, he's got to face Rubio in Florida, too. Theoretically, he still has a path to the nomination, but really?

Especially when he's now claiming the idea that god is hinting Rubio (and Carson, and Kasich) should drop out.

And, irony of ironies, he told another lie in that, because Rubio beat Trump (and Cruz) in Minnesota.

Yes, Rubio is now folding, but Cruz struggled to an approximate tie with Kasich in Michigan, who now looks more and more credible as the "establishment alternative."

And, yet, the Senate's own most hated Senator, by his own party as well as Democrats, still is the choice of the so-called Republican establishment. Brains has more.

From what I see of Trump backers on Twitter, the GOP establishment officially endorsing Cruz in some way would probably be his kiss of death. It's looking more and more like they'll have to accept The Donald.

Getting beyond this, at last last night's GOP debate wasn't as puerile as the previous one, though it was about as fact-free.

Climate change? Kasich did the schwaffle of "manmade, but we have no idea how much." Rubio, asked the question because Miami's GOP mayor (younger Cubans will keep turning Dem, you'd better too, your honor) is worried about it, flat-out lied, because a carbon tax + carbon tariff can indeed address it. Cruz and Trump weren't even asked it, which is one of many CNN head-scratchers.

Palestine? Well, there's not a national GOP figure alive who can tell an honest thing about Israel-Palestine issues. From Rubio's pandering 'Judea and Samaria" to others (I last track of whom) claiming that the Palestinian Authority is allied with Hamas (a clear surprise to Abu Mazen) to insinuations the PA is a terrorist group itself, there wasn't one bit of honesty.

Fact is the US — and the Department of State under Hillary Clinton (and John Kerry) — has made the PA dance like a puppet during Dear Leader's entire presidency, yanking its foreign aid purse strings whenever it won't dance to the Israeli tune. (Oh, and you won't hear that fact at a Democratic debate, either, not from Clinton, and not from Bernie Sanders, either.)

And, looking through my Twitter feed, two other notes. First:

I think a certain amount of Dems know that, even if they don't truly try to get inside GOP mindsets. Second, I'm not a Democrat.

Speaking of, there was a seemingly neoliberal Clintonista backer who accused Henwood of being a hypocritical Marxist for continuing to promote his book. He blocked me after one tweet by me to him; the one I shot off after first not realizing I was blocked said I'm not a liberal. I'm not. I'm a left-liberal, at least for America. I'm a shade left of Sanders on domestic policy, overall, and many shades left of him on foreign policy.

That said, I think Doug Henwood is an interesting kind of Marxist, and I'll write more on that later.

March 10, 2016

Miami Heat from #FeelTheBern

Yes, I do feel that Bernie Sanders missed a clear change, or rather, deliberately chose to bypass a clear chance, to distinguish himself further from Hillary Clinton on foreign as well as domestic policy at last night's Miami debate. It IS a revolution, right?

That said, overall, and especially if we acknowledge once and for all that Bernie wants to remain inside the bipartisan foreign policy establishment box?

I agree with Bloomberg's grades that he won. Matt Yglesias says the same at Vox, while also saying that Univision, in various ways, was a loser, in part from what he calls "faux hardball" questions. And, while I'm not an MSM conspirator, he won despite getting less airtime, and despite not even getting to answer one or two questions himself.

He came prepared to answer the issue from the previous debate, that he'd flip-flopped on an auto industry bailout, and properly said that what he voted against was a Wall Street bailout. With Ohio, Illinois and Missouri up on Tuesday, that could be big. How big? If he can win Illinois, that big.  That said, even with him

He also pinned the tail on Clinton for her trying to lump him with the Minutemen et al on immigration. And, that was a low blow. It's a sign of desperation; it's also something that, if she wins the nomination, many Sandernistas will remember, and use to excuse sitting on the sidelines — or, better yet, do Plan B and vote Green.

That said, there's many white liberals who aren't as liberal on immigration issues as some think. I remember, about a decade ago, The Nation had a cover story on immigration and got a boatload of letters to the editor about it being too "liberal" or whatever word we use. That said, most of those readers are probably older ones, and thus, Clinton backers.

As for the use of the phrase "illegal immigration"? Yes, the Associated Press has officially abandoned the phrase. Yes, it's a civil, not a criminal, law violation to cross the border "without proper authorization." That said, the word "illegal" is used with other civil law violations. And, yes, pre-1924, we didn't have immigration restrictions in general other than health rejections, and current immigration law stems only from 1965. That said, since then, "unauthorized" immigration has been against the law, and therefore, illegal.

I wrote The Nation myself about the piece. I don't believe in "control the border" nuttery, and I know why people are fleeing Mexico and, more and more, places further south — rural agriculture wrecked by NAFTA, followed by thuggish governments, one of them installed by a Hillary Clinton-backed coup.

Nonetheless, we need to have some degree of control over immigration. We also need to have improved enforcement of labor and safety standards for many of the jobs that immigrants do — and pay them a higher minimum wage.

That said, per the fact that "abortion" was raised for the first time in this Democratic cycle at Monday's Fox town hall, neither candidate mentioned the issue of birth rates as a fuel for people wanting to immigrate. The worst countries, on high birth rates, are all sub-Saharan Africa, followed by a few Arab-world nations, but Guatemala and a few others in the New World could probably stand some reduction, too.

That said, Clinton may have won some sympathy points from establishment Democrats after Jorge Ramos asked her not just about her private emails and server, but about Libya, and not just Libya, but specifically Benghazi.

On that issue, I've said many a time before that the GOP doesn't really want to grill her too carefully about that. Both parties know it was really a CIA spook shack there — which Bernie also probably could have mentioned, but didn't.

Anyway, unless Debbie Wasserman (Dancing With The) Schultz agrees otherwise, that's it.  That's the last debate or town hall of the Democratic campaign cycle. Any more momentum for Sanders will have to come from winning primaries on next Tuesday.

March 09, 2016

#MichiganPrimary quick takes: Big Mo for #FeelTheBern and the next #DemDebate

Bernie Sanders has to be seen as having momentum on his side after winning, first of all.

Second, while he still trailed Hilary Clinton among black voters, he sliced that to a 2-1 gap. Part of that is probably due to him finally getting more general name recognition.

Third, places like Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania shape up more favorably to him. Florida? Clinton's polling well ahead right now, but that can certainly shift in a week.

Speaking of, the next Democratic debate is down there, tonight, in Miami.

Getcha popcorn. Clinton knows all the things I just listed. Will her eyes be spitting daggers there, as the fight heats up for Second Tuesday? Will Bernie bring up Debbie Wasserman Schultz's support for payday lender loan sharks?

Given all of the above, this primary is going far past Second Tuesday and into April.

That's in part because, as Harry Enten of 538 notes while eating egg off his face, this means more teevee for Bernie. That's doubly true with the next debate tonight.

And, some gloating for now.

Looks like Hillary Man and Lebanese militiaman Peter Daou of Hillary Men infamy couldn't get fellow Lebanese in Michigan converted. Sanders won Dearborn, with its large Lebanese and other Arabic population, and also won Flint, which also has a fair-sized Lebanese population. GFY, Daou.

Ditto for Markos Moulitsas, the Daily Kos creator who believes secret librulz are in the CIA and is trying to do a cramdown of Clinton support among individual contributing bloggers.


With what I said above, here's a few other issues and questions I'd like to see at tonight's debate:
1. Foreign policy and foreign aid. Bernie, this might be one as tough for you as for Clinton, because of your support for Big Ag, but both of you need to discuss how we get a more enlightened, less neoliberal foreign policy that doesn't do cramdowns of Merika in exchange for foreign assistance, and that, along with the EU, doesn't undercut local agriculture, especially in sub-Saharan Africa
2. Policy toward Latin America, and leaders of the left. In other words, Bernie, when are you going to pin the tail on the Clinton donkey about Honduras? This is Miami, home to many Latinos from the Caribbean and from Central America, and the debate is hosted by Univision. Come out swinging.
3. Foreign policy, Latin America and the War on Drugs. See No. 2 for relevance.

That said, since Haim Saban owns Univision, hell will freeze over before any of this is brought up by the moderators, so No. 2? Bernie, it's all on you.


You can see my takes on the debate on Twitter via the feed window there.

March 08, 2016

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, ongoing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories

Once again, it's time to shoot down conspiracy theories that the mainstream media is somehow anti-Semitic in its treatment of Bernie Sanders. This is not the first, and not even the second, but the third time I've addressed it.

In the first two, I shot down the question of whether concerns about Bernie's tone of voice, etc. were hidden anti-Semitic dogwhistles. My answer? No. To many of us in flyover states, Bernie can sound at times like a loud Northeasterner. I'd say the same about Pothole Al D'Amato.

Now, it's the fact that questions of religious belief have been asked for the second time in the Democratic primary cycle.


Yes, it's possible that, at the town hall, Brett Baier knew who Denise Ghattis was to call on her. That said, the audience was fairly small, so maybe not.

As for the claims, per Chris Cuomo's question for Sanders the night before, that MSNBC is in the tank for Clinton? Puhleeze. Ask Rachel Maddow about that. The fact is, the question that Sanders doesn't talk much about his Jewishness has been on the radar screen for a while.

As for the Fox town hall? Is it also an anti-Semitic dogwhistle for Baier to ask if the label "genocide" should be used for ISIS activities against Christians? (Sanders said no, and I agreed a couple of months ago.)

And, it wasn't the second time. It was also raised, in a generic way, at the New Hampshire town hall, and I found Sanders' answer semi-cringeworthy.

Beyond all this, one of the people on my Twitter feed touting the conspiracy theory, Doug Henwood, himself backs the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions, movement against Israel, which many Zionists, and not just the hardcore, consider to be anti-Semitic itself. (Watch out for the petards, Doug.)

On my first post about this, Liza Featherstone claimed it was a big joke. Doesn't seem like it is for Henwood.

Yes, Henwood, and others like him, don't represent a huge chunk of Sanders backers. Nor do Berniebros. But, both are a percentage of Sanders backers, and the likes of Henwood have less excuse for not knowing better. Indeed, I already mentioned this in my second discussion of this issue.

It's becoming off-putting.

Actual crossing the border from anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism, even if but a bit, by Alex Cockburn, was part of why I stopped reading Counterpunch, so I think I'm aware of actual anti-Semitism, and also how anti-Zionists get tagged with that.

March 07, 2016

TX Progressives look forward from Super Tuesday

The Texas Progressive Alliance congratulates all the winners of last week's primary elections as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff explored the pros and cons of Universal Vote By Mail.

Libby Shaw contributing to Daily Kos argues that there are subtle tactics taking place at election polls, at least in Harris County, that discourage voter turnout.  The Texas Blues: The More Subtle Aspects of Voter Suppression.

Socratic Gadfly says RIP to Ponzi-scheming fracking grifter Aubrey McClendon and his apparent suicide by vehicle.

So is Democratic turnout in primary elections to date up, or is it down? PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is asking for a friend.

This week's Texas Primary went as expected for most races, but Texas Leftist was happy to see some history made as Democrat Jenifer Rene Pool became the first transgender candidate to win an election in Texas. With so much news dominated by Trump and Cruz, it's great to have some Progress worth celebrating.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is sad to see the tuition at Texas public universities go up.  Oligarchs pay low taxes and greedy lenders get more student debt payoffs.  Republicans like the rich best.

Neil at All People Have Value visited the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. APHV is part of

Stace at Dos Centavos reviews his Super Tuesday predictions.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The TSTA Blog reminds us that elections especially have consequences for education.

The Lunch Tray interviews Sen. Debbie Stabenow on child nutrition.

BOR pens a letter of greeting to the new Travis County GOP Chair. And Newsdesk digs a few of the ads he's placed in the Austin Chronicle from their archives.

Grits for Breakfast laments the results of the Republican primaries for the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Better Texas Blog explains the Texas coverage gap.

The Makeshift Academic assures us there will not be a contested convention.

Texans for Public Justice continues to eyeball the planned Oncor takeover.

Tarsands Blockade questions safety claims for Keystone XL's southern leg.

Finally, the TPA maintains neutrality in the breakfast taco wars.

Scientific skepticism, like atheism, is nothing above general humanity

I've repeatedly said, in various blog posts, in response on Facebook and elsewhere to Gnu Atheists and more, that atheism is no guarantor of either moral or intellectual superiority.

I've pretty much come to the same conclusion about so-called "scientific skeptics" or "movement skeptics," with the partial allowance for them having some degree of intellectual superiority within the narrow field of scientific skepticism.

The last straw on this is (and it's public on Facebook, so I can name him) is Mark Boslaugh claiming that Ralph Nader, and Ralph Nader as a Green, cost Al Gore the 2000 election. The reality, far different, is that Al Gore cost Al Gore the election far more than anybody else, followed by Theresa LaPore and others. And, the rest of the argument is also false. There was no national Green Party in 2000; Nader was running on a mix of independent ballot lines and state Green Party ballot lines, whatever state he was in. In states that had state Green parties, he originally gave a pledge not to run hard in "swing states," which he may have broken.

Sidebar: As I've said elsewhere, I didn't vote for Nader because he had, and has, an ego bigger than either Gore or Bush, and issues related to that popped up in that election.

Boslaugh then, at the end of an argument about this, where I said that scientific skeptics shouldn't pass on urban legends, claimed I didn't know what skepticism is.

In response, in my last comment on thread, I said that I knew well what both the philosophy of Skepticism and scientific skepticism are. Beyond the issues above, I pointed out that Penn and Teller have repeatedly fused libertarian political beliefs with what they claim is scientific skepticism, that Michael Shermer has had, for years, two known racialists, Frank Miele and Vince Sarich, on the masthead of Skeptic magazine (which in turn has made me wonder about Shermer himself) and that, directly related to Boslaugh's condescension, D.J. Grothe accused me of never having read Charles Murray when I said he was a racialist, to which I responded here,

I haven't even talked about convicted con artist grifter Brian Dunning, further con artist, though not convicted, James Randi, and how many skeptics, rather than skepticism starting at home, say it's verboten to criticize the likes of them. (Any scientific skeptics responding to this in defense of this "movement skepticism" will likely pull out the "no true Scotsman" at some point.) Nor have I talked about problems with sexism in the movement.

It's no wonder that the likes of Massimo Pigliucci has moved further and further away from "scientific skepticism" or "movement skepticism."

It's certainly not an inoculator against tribalism, as this has shown. Founder's syndrome with Randi, willful refusal to look honestly at Dunning's case, and other things that indicate the depth of guruism within scientific skepticism only underscore that, as does a general lack of self examination.

And, as scientific skepticism isn't a guaranteed inoculator against tribalism, it isn't against other things, either.

And, for fair measure, per part of my response to Boslaugh, the number of scientific skeptics who have made utterances in the vein of scientism, or otherwise shown their cluelessness about philosophy, their disdain for it, or both, is certainly not low. (I think that's part of why Massimo has pretty much washed his hands.)