Friday, September 25, 2015

The Incredibly Shrinking Honesty of Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina, pausing to visualize sugarplum fairies and fetuses dancing in her head.

At some point, Carly Fiorina with have to pay some piper or another for the vacation from truth and beauty she has taken at our expense. Hopefully, it will be repaid at her expense, I don't know, by her being cast out into the hinterland where such prevaricators deserve to be tossed.

But maybe not just yet, as it seems a rabid Republican base has found her momentarily useful. Perhaps they find her useful as the arbiter of what pro-lifers can hold up as symbols of their disdain for women having any sense of control over their bodies. Because, dynamic woman that Carly Fiorina ostensibly is, all the other dynamic women are supposed to take their turn as vessels for reproduction whether they like it or not. I wonder how pro-life Carly managed to spend a life as a woman without letting her uterus kick into high gear. Just asking.

Dahlia Lithwick of Slate doesn't ponder these questions of womanhood so much as question how Carly Fiorina, currently in second place in polling for the GOP nominee in 2016, can get away with pressing forward in a fact-free zone:
Not even the most robust defenders of Fiorina’s defense can say much more than that some of the images grafted onto the sound bite might not be completely false. And yet there is still no word from Fiorina, her campaign, or her super-PAC to indicate that she misspoke, or misremembered, or confused some other video with a video about Planned Parenthood. There seems to be no place in the middle for Fiorina to just put out a statement saying, “Hey, I misspoke. Sorry.”
This is an extraordinary moment in the annals of political deception. No walk-back, no clarification, just a persistent insistence that a video that doesn’t exist and can’t even be manufactured in the underground labs of political deception is really out there but, like the Emperor’s new clothes, only the virtuous can see it. In Fiorina’s world and the world posited by Goldberg, if people want to believe the big lie about the kicking fetus and the brain harvesting badly enough, who are we to tell them it couldn’t have happened?
Who are we to tell them indeed. Let's at least take solace that we are free of her machinations, just as the corporate world has managed to remain free of her machinations in the ten years since her #EPICFAIL at Hewlett-Packard. We'll just let that bit of business history speak the volumes of condemnation of Carly Fiorina's character that the mainstream media deems fit to leave unchallenged.

For a glimpse of the extent of Fiorina's contempt for the truth (and by extension contempt for us all), let's go to her YouTube concoction:

Let's let Lithwick finish this horrid display:
Even if you like to take your facts on some kind of sliding scale, Fiorina’s Big Lie is beyond appalling: She wants to give as much weight to a fabrication she thinks you would like to believe as you would give to the actual health care provided by Planned Parenthood to real women who can’t afford it elsewhere.
We may wish we lived in a world where a candidate could say, “Wow, hey, I misremembered,” and the polity would say, “Respect.” Perhaps we don’t. But we can’t give a candidate a pass for simply fabricating a story and cynically hoping that it resonates enough to eventually feel real; not when actual people will suffer catastrophic health consequences as a result.
We have at least one true thing to hold on to: Carly Fiorina's moment in the spotlight will be relatively short before she goes back to whatever cave she hides out in while the corporate world is busily not offering her another chance to screw up a company. We certainly shouldn't -- and won't -- give her a chance to screw up our country.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ahmed in Texas Builds a Digital Clock. Adults Around Him Go Insane.

I assume that during the hours the clock was at school before Ahmed was arrested,
someone would have figured out there were no explosives in the case. Or not.

Enough is enough.
Posted by Sarah Palin on Sunday, September 20, 2015

Kyle Smith of the New York Post decided a kid named Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for show-and-tell with a digital clock for proper reasons. His brown skin and his name had nothing to do with it. Instead, we should sympathize with all the white kids mistreated by zero-tolerance polices. Hey Kyle, don't you think zero-tolerance policies are one of the problems to be addressed? Don't you think that living in a town with a mayor who made her name saying she'd stand up against Sharia law being imposed on Texans might be another part of the problem? (The mayor, Beth Van Duyne, later stood by school officials and the police.)

How Conservative Intellectuals Falsely Frame Their Arguments

An advertisement, from colonial times, for "prime, healthy Negroes."

The Volokh Conspiracy -- a conservative and libertarian law blog I've been reading for years and which some time ago was elevated to a Washington Post blog -- has always provided me with glimpses of how conservative intellectuals justify the basis for their legal arguments. I've rarely agreed with their viewpoint, but, because many if not all of the contributors are law professors of some standing, I've had to respect the validity of their arguments. At least until today.

David Post, writing on the "Conspiracy" in today's WaPo, makes an argument busting the "slavery myth," maintaining that slavery was not in fact a "national institution."
Historian Sean Wilentz had a wonderful op-ed (“Constitutionally, Slavery Is No National Institution”) in the NY Times a few days ago, about what he properly refers to as the “myth” that “the United States was founded on racial slavery.”  It’s a view of the nation’s founding that, oddly and ironically, aligns many on the Left (like Bernie Sanders, whom Wilentz quotes as saying that “the United States in many ways was created, and I’m sorry to have to say this, from way back, on racist principles, that’s a fact”) with South Carolina’s pre-Civil-War Senator John Calhoun, who was the staunchest and most eloquent advocate for slavery, and opposed to (among others) James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass.
Fine. This is a straw-dog argument, embedded in the op-ed by Wilentz that Post uses to make his point. If you read the whole post, it's clear that Post is celebrating the notion that pro-slavery factions failed to get the Constitution to include language that would legitimize slavery as a national institution. To him, this means that slavery was never a national institution.

That's nonsense, and any academician worth his salt would never base his or her argument on it. The fact is that slavery was an American institution long before the Revolutionary War and long after the Constitution barely addressed it, and is a major factor in the state of race relations today.

I can't help but believe that the purpose from an historical perspective of Wilentz' premise and Post's support of it is to somehow delegitimize the views of those, like Bernie Sanders -- or Black Lives Matter, for example -- that we bear continuing responsibility, as a nation, to fix what we broke so long ago.

The struggle continues, in more ways than one.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mainstream Media Flunks Honesty in Carly Fiorina Coverage. Can't Trust them Anymore.

Paper of Record setting record for failing the public.

Daily Kos joins me in condemning the press for giving Carly Fiorina a pass on her false representations of the monstrously deceptive, heavily edited, fraudulent videos foisted on the American public by the Center for Medical Progress, which is, essentially, a bogus group created to add legitimacy to an otherwise corrupt support of the anti-abortion crowd.

The worst two zingers:
According to CNN, this fabrication was "true but misleading." Except for the part where it was false. The New York Times has a special take on it as well, headlined Carly Fiorina Said to Exaggerate Content of Planned Parenthood Video. Said to? And check out how the article kicks off:
Carly Fiorina set off some fact-check alarm bells on Wednesday when she dared Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Obama to watch undercover Planned Parenthood videos that show dead fetuses. While the authenticity of the videos remains a subject of debate, Mrs. Fiorina appears to have exaggerated their contents.
As Hunter of Daily Kos points out, that second sentence is a true howler, a riot if it weren't such a maddening bit of dissembling on NYTimes' part. The entire set of CMP videos have been repeatedly investigated and repeatedly debunked. The contents that Fiorina "appears to have exaggerated" was unidentified stock footage that doesn't resemble her description of it. It clearly wasn't taken at a Planned Parenthood because if it had been, the CMP would have turned triple cartwheels making sure everyone knew it.

Karen Tumulty of WaPo penned a tribute to Fiorina's post-debate status with a headline in the same vein as NYTimes' coverage, reading "For Carly Fiorina, capitalizing on post-debate buzz brings new tests." The new tests?
One of Fiorina’s gifts is her quickness and agility when the spotlight is on her. But with Fiorina now seen as a viable contender for her party’s nomination, her comments will be examined more closely.
For instance, one crowd-pleaser at Wednesday’s GOP debate also came under fire Thursday as inaccurate.
She had graphically described watching a video of a fetus with a beating heartbeat have its brain removed at a Planned Parenthood clinic, and challenged Democrats to have the courage to watch it.
“Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,” Fiorina said.
In fact, no such footage has surfaced in the controversy over secretly recorded videos by the antiabortion group called the Center for Medical Progress.
The video to which Fiorina referred has an interview with a biotechnology technician, whose company partnered with Planned Parenthood, describing such a scene as images of a fetus are shown.
This section, discussing the likelihood of Fiorina's being "examined more closely," came late in a rather lengthy article. If there's any good take-away from the coverage of Fiorina in the mainstream press it's that commenters on the articles almost uniformly detest Fiorina. Seriously. Why would that be?

Persona? One of contempt. People notice. So did Trump.

Don't want to comment on her looks, except that contemptuous superciliousness is not attractive. Might have something to do with people's negative take on her. (Not counting the press, because they are narrative-driven, and they like the Fiorina-rips-Trump-a-new-one meme.)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Wall St. Journal: Fiorina Not Truthful. Is She Finished? Of Course Not!

Carly Fiorina, smiling sometime before or after her whoppers.

I was surprised how many people called out Carly Fiorina for her dissembling -- that means lying, put nicely -- about fetuses and stuff during the debate. A lot of people chimed in. When the Wall Street Journal reported her deception, that somewhat cinched it.

Cinched what? That she lied? Uh, yeah. But did it cinch that she would need to abandon her campaign in disgrace? Of course not. Lying, even when everyone points it out, remains, in our world of journalism, a he-said-she-said proposition.

So, Carly, lie on! Good as gold! Hard-nosed liar, ready to take on the Donald, ready to lie repeatedly, maybe daily, about Hillary! Good on ya, girl. Pit bull material! It's your M.O.!

For example, she lied her ass off in her remarks about Syria, but she did it so confidently that, hell, it must be true! Here's Politico:
Carly Fiorina: “The reason it is so critically important that every one of us know General [Qasem] Soleimani’s name is because Russia is in Syria right now because the head of the Quds force traveled to Russia and talked Vladimir Putin into aligning themselves with Iran and Syria to prop up [Syrian President] Bashar al Assad.”
Fiorina was referring to the late July visit to Moscow by the chief of Iran’s Quds Force, a special forces unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, in violation of a United Nations-imposed travel ban. She also worked in a jab at Donald Trump’s mixing up of the Quds Force and the Kurds during a recent interview with Hugh Hewitt, one of the moderators of tonight’s debate.
But the claim that Iran orchestrated the deployment of Russian forces to Iran’s ally in the Middle East appears to be based on a single unnamed source cited by the Israeli news site,7340,L-4699809,00.html that has not been independently verified.
Russia has also had long-standing ties to the Syrian regime and been a primary provider of arms to the Syrian army in its four-year war against a series of rebel and Islamic terrorist groups.
Substantiated claims? Who needs them? Not GOP candidates named Carly...

Why Does Carly Fiorina Have to Play the Liar-in-Chief? To Win? Win What?

Hmm. I wonder how long I can get away with this crap.
Cheney proved the truth is overrated, so who knows?

We know that presidential candidates run for a variety of reasons. Carly had a book out. Maybe she wants to just keep her profile high for some later opportunity. Maybe she relishes her Hillary attack-dog status. I don't know. She comes off competent, it's true, but she sure seems pretty mean.

It doesn't help that she relies on serious untruths to appear decisive in her attacks. Here's George Stephanopoulos pointing out that she's making up key points in her attacks on Planned Parenthood, which she turns into attacks on Obama and Clinton:

Numerous investigations into Planned Parenthood, stemming from the heavily edited videos purporting to show that the women's health organization "sells" fetal tissue, undertaken by states, have turned up nothing. The videos, concocted by an obscure anti-choice group dubbed Center for Medical Progress, don't reveal any actual wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.

That doesn't stop Carly Fiorina from making stuff up. If you watch what she says to Stephanopoulos, she doesn't actually says she saw it in the actual CMP videos. She just said she "saw them," not saying what and where. Typical. Here's a breakdown by's Sarah Kliff.

Her other big lies are about Hillary Clinton, specifically Benghazi and email. None of what she says is true or proven. In fact, the Benghazi scandal was put to bed after no wrongdoing was found (by two House committees!), only to be brought back to life by the completely phony Trey Gowdy special committee. As for the email scandal, that's essentially a DC media narrative that has a life of its own, independent of any actual wrongdoing, either.

Here's Fiorina going after Hillary -- all lies -- in last night's debate:

So why does Fiorina do it? Some have said it's because other candidates give her money to do it. That gives her status in the race -- the one who goes hard after Hillary -- regardless of the truth of the accusations. Of course, not being truthful isn't a dealbreaker for Republicans. If you listen to how many times the candidates say that Obama was the worst president in history and Clinton and Kerry the worst Secretaries of State the country has ever known, you get a sense that truth isn't relevant.

I'm curious. Where does Carly Fiorina go from here, and will George Stephanopoulos be the only one to call her out?

Update. The usual suspects -- progressive blogs -- begin to present information and analyze Fiorina's habit of departing from the truth here, here, here, and here. For what it's worth, these blogs are all reputable, meaning you can believe them because, unlike Carly Fiorina, truth and reputation mean something to them.

Fact-checkers begin to weigh in. The fetus statement? Mostly false. Reiterated as false by Politico. It's interesting that no one seems to be fact-checking the Benghazi and email claims, probably because they are mainstream media narratives that are repeated ad nauseum. The media occasionally points out that they might not be true, but they're having too much fun with them to give them up yet. They will, and the stories will melt, except on Faux News.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Oklahoma Police Admit Justice Is Not their Concern.

I-40 corridor in Oklahoma: Police don't want
the free-money spigot turned off.

We've heard plenty about asset forfeiture, in cash, cars, and even houses, that the police have been conducting for years. After the big exposé in the Washington Post earlier this year, the Justice Department and a number of state governments worked to stop the abuse. It has been, literally, highway robbery.

Police stop someone. They have a lot of cash. Police seize the cash based on laws that were supposed to help stop "the bad guys" in the War on Drugs. When, nonetheless, no offense is determined to have been committed and no arrest, in the end, is made, the police simply keep the money. And it's nearly impossible to get all or even some of it back.

This article in The Week about goings-on in Oklahoma reminded me of how odious the practice is. But what caught my attention was this: 
The ACLUOK figures do not include additional seizures of property, like cars and houses, or confiscations by federal (as opposed to state) officers. A Republican state senator, Kyle Loveless, has introduced a bill which would prohibit police from seizing money or assets from people without charging them with a crime. Oklahoma police have opposed the bill.
Of course the police don't want the gravy train to stop. But choosing to openly oppose the bill means that the police are more concerned with money than justice. Where am I wrong here? This is a no-brainer.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ruth Marcus Says It's Okay to Stop Talking about Hillary's emails. Alrighty Then.

DC pundit policewoman Ruth Marcus: We're bored with all this email stuff, okay?

The Great and Powerful Ruth Marcus has spoken: We can ditch the email story and talk about policy:
A good deal of this is the candidate’s own fault — her decision to wipe the server, her prolonged insistence that she did nothing wrong — and could have been mitigated had she adopted a different tone and strategy at the start.
But much of it is the product of a 24/7 political and media culture that, once it gets itself spun up over something, has a hard time distinguishing degrees of culpability.
The irony here — the hypocrisy, if you’re feeling less charitable — is that throughout the Summer of E-mail, Clinton has been churning out the kind of serious policy proposals, on everything from college affordability to substance abuse to renewable energy, that we in the media purport to want from candidates.
Yes, Ruth, Hillary has been churning out serious policy proposals, and so has Bernie Sanders. What's missing from the policy discussion is the input of any consequence from the Republican side. Most GOP candidates offer thin gruel on their websites. Okay, Jeb Bush this week actually presented his tax-cut proposal. But that's not an actual policy position. One, it's an offer of tax cuts from a Republican in order to spur gobs of economic growth. Two, it also has those "unspecified loopholes" that he'll plug, once he gets around to saying what they are, something Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan never did, but, hey, that's what Republican candidates do, offer tax cuts and never really getting around to what they really mean except, as Atrios would say:
  1. Tax cuts!
  2. ???
  3. Everyone is rich!
 The truth is that the national debt would balloon by $3.4 trillion or we'd need to cut, oh I don't know, Social Security? Medicaid and Medicare? Obamacare? You know it's not going to be defense spending.

So, to sum up:
  1. Ruth says stop with the emails and pay attention to Hillary's policy proposals because she's put out a boatload of them.
  2. We're still supposed to remember Hillary was so wrong about the email, even if it's seems that maybe she didn't do anything wrong at all and this is a faux scandal. Ruth says faux scandals and how you handle them is a character issue, and Hillary has a flawed character because she didn't do anything wrong except the way she didn't do anything wrong was wrong. Wow, that's sort of it, isn't it?
  3. Okay, I did sort of go on a rant about Jeb!'s tax cut proposal because we all know it's a payoff to his rich buddies (and himself) and was TOTALLY EXPECTED and then he did it. And this makes him special, uh, how?
Remember the rule with Bushes is: Don't do what Poppy did -- raise taxes -- or you'll lose a presidential election, maybe even to a Clinton.

Yes, Poppy, we did read your lips.

 Bonus comment from Ruth Marcus article:
8:11 AM PST
Ruth, Hillary is a liar and under criminal investigation by the FBI recommended from 2 impartial inspector generals. Why would you want someone with that cloud for president. Ruth I believe you and many of your Demorat idiots will vote for Hillary while she is serving 3 to 5 in San Quentin
Sheesh, Dude can't even spell his own handle.

Final thought: Ruth has spoken, but do you think the email (non-)scandal will end now?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Jeb! Tax Cuts: Same as the Old Tax Cuts. $3.4 Trillion Added to the Debt.

Whaddya mean my tax cuts didn't work? They worked for my people.

Finally some real policy ideas out of Jeb Bush, and what do we get? Tax cuts, mostly for business and the wealthy -- with just enough tax credits for the poor to bamboozle the plebeians -- that will explode the debt. Of course, there's the voodoo magical reasoning that tax cuts will grow the economy by letting loose the power of the job creators, which, er, never happens, but whatever.

That's a giant whatever. Read about it at Daily Kos, and read about it at Paul Krugman's joint. Hell, even the Washington Post couldn't find much to like:
The plan would add $1.2 trillion to the deficit, even when using a system favored by Republicans that takes into account any potential growth the tax changes could encourage, according to Republican economists who reviewed the plan on Bush's behalf. The plan would lose closer to $3.4 trillion using traditional methods.
Given the high price tag and some of the details, Bush's tax plan is fraught with political peril. His brother, former president George W. Bush, focused much of his 2000 presidential campaign on plans to slash taxes and jump-start economic growth. Those tax cuts contributed to the record deficit spending that even Jeb Bush criticized Tuesday night on Stephen Colbert's new late-night talk show. In 2012, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney had similar ideas on tax reform that were widely dismissed by voters, who believed he was pushing policies that would mostly help wealthy people.
New bullshit, same as the old bullshit. We get that. But what's Jeb's point, that he can walk and talk like Mitt Romney and then lose like Mitt Romney?

Don't Republicans EVER have an original thought?

I'm a Bush son. Whaddya expect? Look what happened when Dad raised taxes.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Trump, the Champion of the Angry White, Should Court the Black Vote?

The African-American voter: Trump's ace in the hole?

Okay, um, no. But Bruce Bartlett -- a rational Republican voice -- believes otherwise:
Sooner or later, Republicans will recognize that the party’s negative image among Hispanics will keep it out of the White House indefinitely unless a new source of non-white votes can be found to replace the declining share of whites in the population. The original idea of Republican leaders was to enact immigration reform to neutralize Hispanic hostility, but Trump’s success, as well as the endorsement of his immigration views by other GOP candidates such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, makes that impossible for now. So if Republicans are stuck with an anti-immigrant message, they may as well use it to their advantage by reaching out to the black community, where it could resonate in an election in which the nominees of both parties will almost certainly be white.
I get it, I really do, that blacks might think that Latinos steal their jobs. Could a GOP candidate, presumably Donald Trump, successfully court the black vote by using a harsh immigration stand as proof that he's on the side of the blacks as far as jobs go?

Sure, in one of those alternate universes I've been hearing about.

Maybe it's feasible, but it would take a few election cycles of trashing Latino immigrants while actively working to convince a very dubious African-American community that the GOP -- not the Democrats -- are their true friends. Good luck with that.

Especially after what Steve Schmidt -- another relatively sane Republican -- said to NPR last Friday:

That contempt and anger is primarily white. It's what greases the grooves of Trump's appeal. Openly court blacks and keep the angry white vote on your side? That's a coalition too far, if you ask me. But, hey, go for it.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Yes, Donald Trump's Poll Numbers Show the GOP Is the Party of Frightened, Angry Whites.

Donald Trump, Great White Hope.

Oh, what to make of this Trump insurgency. Donald Trump is larger than life, even if only in a cartoonish, bloviating kind of way. And you can't say that he owes his success to his inheritance because a lot of kids inherit money and implode. If my dad gave me millions of dollars instead of decades of contempt -- that's another story -- would I have done as well? I don't know, but Donald Trump isn't an asshole because he took dad's money and turned it into billions.

But the fact is Trump's an asshole, but as is commonly said, he's our asshole. And that's why he's leading in the polls. He went and said it: Mexicans came here, they're brown-skinned, stealing our jobs, and, yes, raping our women. Trump will put a stop to that.

And women! For God's sake, Trump will deal with the women. As he might put it, he's been "hugely successful with women, women love me!" But he drips with that special venom of putting the women in their place. If you don't read him that way, you're either deluded or not a fan. His fans think he'll put women back in their place. You know it and I know it.

Some women like him. Sure. White women -- just like the Duggar women -- believe they're supposed to be put in their place. It's God's will. Single, college-educated women, not so much.

So there it is. There's a constituency of frightened, pissed-off whites who blame blacks, Mexicans, women and, hell, Muslims, of course, for the ills of the U.S. of A. And, for now, Trump's their man. Their angry, white man. For now.

And that's your 2015 Republican Party base. If you think I'm wrong, you're in denial. Then again, maybe I'm engaging in wishful thinking, hoping this means the GOP is going to blow up, and then they won't, and I'm screwed. But my money's on the GOP blowing up in 2016, with me watching the expected "autopsy." Won't that be fun?

Autopsy this, Priebus.

Rick Perry's Candidacy Over? Uh, When Did It Start?

There's only going to be one Republican candidate for president. So, a bunch of people are going to be disappointed. Rick Perry was a real candidate? Nah. So his being "out" isn't a shocker.

It's funny. For those of us who didn't like him, his demise is somehow heartening. Why? I really don't know, any more than I knew how he ever became governor of such a large state. Doesn't say much for Texas, does it?

Bu-bye, Rickums. Don't let the Department of Energy hit you in the ass on your way out.

Huckabee, Cruz, Walker, Paul and the Neanderthal Caucus

From left to right: Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz.
Not pictured: Bobby Jindal and Rand Paul.

Update. More hedging than I thought. Most GOP candidates say "she should follow the law, but it should be possible to not follow the law, maybe." Gutsy!

For all I know, there are other GOP candidates for president that are also in the newly assembled Neanderthal Caucus on religious rights. It's hard to say what any of them believe, or purport to believe, at any one time.

Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, and Scott Walker all took up recalcitrant Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis' cause against gay marriage. And there's Bobby Jindal, who's running for the Most Christian Indian Ever as well as for president. I'd quote him, but you'd bust too much of a gut. Okay, he said God created America or something. That's pretty Neanderthal.

The rest of the GOP field says nothing or jumbles up a sort of what-the-fuck-did-he-say response. Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina seemed to straight-ahead say follow the law, dammit. Even Antonin Scalia is on the record saying, "I don't care if it's your religion, peyote is illegal, so knock it off!"

I shouldn't have to explain it, but here's the deal: the First Amendment doesn't guarantee religious freedom per se. It says in order to guarantee freedom to follow your religion, the State chooses not to choose a religion. Get it? "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof." Therefore, in the context of the State, there is no religion.

So Kim Davis, private citizen, can do her religion, as long as it harms no one, supposedly even herself. (She can't say, "My religion says I can shoot myself in the head, so I'm free to do it."). But Kim Davis, as representative of the State, is not free to let her religion, which is not established by the State, trump laws enacted by the State.

This has been established law for a long time -- hell, it was made clear back in the time of the founding fathers -- and shouldn't be a mystery to any American, except willfully ignorant or manipulative ones.

Thus those who believe otherwise are definitely Neanderthals. So, stay the hell out of government.

I might as well add that religion is superstition and, from my perspective, totally blows hard. So it's no wonder I have little sympathy for those who live in the past, like the way, way past.

How much longer is this obsession with Moses and Issac and Abraham and all the other people that actually like totally knew God back in the day, I'm mean how much longer, huh, is this going to go on? I guess here in modern-day 21st-century America we're just getting warmed up. Sheesh...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Is UK Poverty Mirroring Our Own?

Child poverty in Glasgow, Scotland, reaches 43% in some depressed areas.

Note. While reading all this below, keep in mind the "special relationship" long touted between the UK and the US.

Caught a link in an Atrios post that highlighted the crush of poverty -- and low wages -- in David Cameron's austere UK. Here's what it looks like across the pond:
Commenting on the actions and choices of those in poverty seems to have become a national sport. It’s rare to ever have a discussion about economic hardship in Britain without a bystander or internet commenter leaning forward and opining “But they’ve all got flatscreen TVs and smoke cigarettes.” The economic choices of the very poorest are seen as ripe for public dissection.
But the psychological consequences of poverty are discussed far less. Oxford University and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have released a study that goes some way to silencing those who would argue poverty is simply a moral failing. The newly released Household Below Average Income figures for 2013/14 show no progress whatsoever on poverty rates, and a slim increase in child poverty and working families earning less than they need: so poverty is here to stay.
When facing poverty, the researchers found, individuals enter a “scarcity mindset”. When focused on short-term survival, your decision-making ability is scrambled and your attention span narrowed. The attendant worry means long–term planning and the completion of peripheral, routine tasks is downgraded as the immediate future becomes the only focus. Debt counsellors have found this for years, with people in debt struggling to understand how they ended up like that, only knowing that many short-term financial crises snowballed.
The "internet commenters" citing the poor having flatscreen TVs and cigarettes reminds me of Fox News commentators decrying the American poor who have refrigerators and cell phones. Oh, the temerity of the loser class to have items the middle class possess. Clearly the poor of Glasgow pictured above have their nerve wearing what appears to be decent shoes. And they call themselves poor?

It's no wonder, then, that we find articles in the British press condemning "dysfunctional families" for costing the taxpayers so many billions of pounds a year. Conservative UK reaction? Cut benefits! Oh, the inhumanity of the poor who won't fix themselves and get off the dole.
Britain’s problem families are costing taxpayers a whopping £30billion a year, it was claimed today.
The dysfunctional behaviour of half a million households in the country is resulting in a major drain on public resources, with the size of our ‘underclass’ four times larger than first thought.
Ministers have demanded an end to the ‘it’s not my fault’ culture which has allowed up to 120,000 problem families to avoid taking responsibility for their own lives.
It's good to see the Brits despise their poor just the way we hate our own losers. It's heartwarming to see that the Tories are hell-bent -- as our loving and compassionate Republicans -- on cutting the societal cost of our irresponsible "it's not my fault" culture. Yet we've known, just as the Brits have known, that poverty begets poverty as young brains wither on the vine before they get a chance to graduate from dysfunctional families:
Children raised in poverty or in orphanages experience chronic stress early in life that can have long-lasting effects on the brain, setting them up for future mental and physical ailments as adults, two studies found.
The stress of poverty may affect regions in a child’s brain that control emotion, according to research published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A second study found that children who had lived in an orphanage were more anxious than those who hadn’t.
In childhood, the brain is still immature and developing rapidly so it is more sensitive to high-stress situations than an adult brain, said Pilyoung Kim, lead study author of the childhood poverty study. The findings from both papers suggest that early intervention programs to address chronic stress may benefit these children, the authors said.
“Long-term exposure to chronic stress is likely to cause wear and tear in children’s physical and psychological systems for coping with stress over time,” said Kim, an assistant professor and director of the Family and Child Neuroscience Lab at the University of Denver, in an Oct. 20 e-mail. “Living in poverty at a young age can cause long-lasting changes in brain development, which contribute to difficulties in regulating of emotions and future devastating health outcomes, including mental illness and high mortality and morbidity in adulthood.”
Science can study these effects and we can have evidence and yet more evidence that we, both here and across the Atlantic, actually grow our impoverished classes with no hope of escape. But of course it's their own fault. Just as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan condemn the "47 percent," so do David Cameron and George Osborne do the same from their Tory perches.

Some British pundits pause long enough to see that the beloved British austerity is destructive:
The world falls in. For some unlucky people, the ceiling cracks, mould appears and there is some kind of warning that something might be happening. For others, the roof comes crashing down. It’s sudden and unexpected until one is rooting through the rubble of an old life trying to find a new one.
Accounts of what it is like to be poor mount up around us like unopened bills. Sometimes people spiral down because of benefit sanctions, a sudden rent increase, an illness. Things like a faulty boiler can tip someone from “managing” to “really not managing”. Once you have been poor, you always fear it. When people talk about their high-powered, high-stress jobs, I often wonder if they even know what stress is. To not have when others have is not just a material lack; it is to live with your children in constant anxiety.
So, for the festive season, we hear a lot about food banks. They are necessary, but they also function as the most tangible symbol of the cognitive dissonance that passes for political discourse. We live in the sixth-richest country in the world, yet the poorest among us have to live on handouts from charities. The choice that this represents is seen as a fact of life – like all inequality these days. Some choose to be rich and some choose to be poor. The poor often make themselves worse off by poor choices, apparently. Then their worlds can fall in and things no longer work at all, just like the cheap fairy lights these kind of people buy.
Once you have been poor, you always fear it. But for conservatives in America or the UK, when budget time comes, they look for yet another program to trim, another service to "defund," another social safety net that someone somewhere must be gaming with their TVs, refrigerators, and cell phones, and shoes too decent for their "class." It's galling. If they're not barefoot, they must be welfare cheats who need a benefits cut or they'll never understand how to do for themselves. Still, the UK keeps growing its poor:
One in five British children live below the poverty line with the number rising to nearly half in the most deprived areas of Manchester, according to research released today.
The Campaign to End Child Poverty published figures today showing that 20.2 per cent of British children are classified as below the poverty line, before housing costs.
In eight areas of large cities, more than four out of every 10 children lived in poverty in 2012, the research showed.
Remind you of anywhere in the U.S.?

A Baltimore neighborhood. Today. Let's cut benefits to help them, like the Brits.
 And, yes, we've already cut benefits. We also got rid of those pesky unemployment benefits extensions. And why not? The poor, it turns out don't suffer nearly enough.

Fox News, such a poor-friendly station. I looked for the British equivalent and couldn't find one, so here's a real look at expanding poverty under the Cameron-Osborne government, after which I offer the top comment on the YouTube page:

Here's one viewer's reaction:
After spending their money on cars, boozing, computers, mobile phones, plasma televisions and buying their kids designer clothes etc., it's hardly surprising that benefits dependents have little money left to buy food.I can only praise the food banks for getting these wasters off the backs of hard working tax payers.
For giggles, read more. The Brits are as nasty a bunch as our own "poors are losers" crowd.