Lie Big, Lie Often, Never Back Down: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Real Reason Why Right-Wing Lies Stick

Source: AlterNet

Author: Arbin Rabin-Hyat/Salon

Emphasis Mine

Nearly seven years ago, in July 2009, conservative researcher Betsy McCaughey appeared on Fred Thompson’s radio show and suggested that President Obama’s health-care bill would encourage seniors “to do what’s in society’s best interest or your family’s best interest, and cut your life short.”

A few weeks later in early August, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook, “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.”

Thus, the “death panels” lie was born, and seven years later it still remains potent. According to a new poll from Public Policy Polling, 60% of Americans—including 74% of Republicans and even 51% of Democrats—still either believe in or are unsure about the existence of death panels.

Why are so many Americans still clinging to 2009’s “Lie of the Year?” Tens of millions of people are receiving health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act, with no evidence of seniors or disabled citizens being forced to end their lives early due to a panel of government bureaucrats.

I commissioned this poll to clarify a key point in my new book, Lies, Incorporated: The World of Post-Truth Politics. Discussions about corruption of our political processes often center around money and lobbying. Yet a third element, lies, specifically those lies that are strategically designed to distort the policy-making process, are ignored. There is in fact a group of individuals who have intentionally used falsehoods to hack our democracy for both financial and ideological gain, thus the title. In Lies, Incorporated, I chronicle a series of these lies, profile the people who created them and assess the damage they have caused.

I could never have imagined a figure like Donald Trump would emerge a leader in the primary, even though I was familiar with his type. Like Trump in 2016, Betsy McCaughey in 2009 combined brazen falsehoods with a shamelessness that meant she never has to apologize for them.

Betsy McCaughey also shared Trump’s thirst for the spotlight. A former staffer from her time as lieutenant governor of New York said, “A lot of politicians are out for the limelight, but Betsy’s constant need twenty-four hours a day was something I’d never seen.”

Although a mini fact-checking industry immediately sprang up to correct the record on death panels, the story—like many of Trump’s claims today—proved stubborn. Even before Sarah Palin coined the term “death panels,” Politifact already declared the theory a “ridiculous falsehood” rating it “pants on fire.” And McCaughey’s death-panel lie was debunked within days by groups as diverse as the AARP and Media Matters for America, as well as by more than 40 major media outlets including the New York Times, USA Today, Associated Press, the Washington Post, CBS and MSNBC.

In the Washington Post, Ezra Klein explained why Betsy McCaughey’s lie caught fire in the media, a reason extremely familiar to those of us watching Trump in 2016: “She’s among the best in the business at the Big Lie: not the dull claim that health-care reform will slightly increase the deficit or trim Medicare Advantage benefits, but the claim that it will result in Death Panels that decide the fate of the elderly, or a new model of medical ethics in which the lives of the old are sacrificed for the good of the young, or a government agency that will review the actions of every doctor,” Klein wrote. “McCaughey isn’t just a liar. She’s an exciting liar.”

Being an exciting liar led to media attention and numerous bookings not only with the conservative media, but also with ostensibly liberal venues like “The Daily Show.” It forced progressive organizations and news outlets like MSNBC to devote countless segments to debunking her falsehoods. Yet this seemed to instead perpetuate the lie, keeping it active.

A further similarity between Trump and McCaughey is that she was already known as someone who played fast and loose with the truth about a Democratic president’s health-care policies.

In 1994 as a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, McCaughey excoriated the Clinton White House health-care proposal in an article in the New Republic titled “No Exit.”

Newt Gingrich said McCaughey’s New Republic piece was “the first decisive break point” that led to the defeat of what conservatives derided as “Hillarycare.”

“If these facts surprise you, it’s because you haven’t been given a straight story about the Clinton health bill,” she wrote. But it was McCaughey who wasn’t telling it straight.

James Fallows of the Atlantic later declared that New Republic piece the “most destructive effect on public discourse by a single person” in the 1990s.

Despite this performance, the following decade saw Betsy McCaughey welcomed back into the media fold to continue spreading her lies, now about Obamacare. Her quotable and stirring attacks made her a welcome guest. Republicans loved her talking points, which confirmed their worst fears about President Obama’s true intent, and Democrats loved to hate her because she was one of many conservative boogeymen who could easily be attacked for their outrageous lies.

As we’re seeing now with the Trump campaign, 2009’s part media frenzy, part goat rodeo was compelling content for liberals and conservatives alike. But it was not beneficial to our public discourse.

As I note in Lies, Incorporated, instead of discussing how to help the millions of uninsured or debating the merits or feasibility of proposed solutions, endless months were devoted to an irrelevant debate over whether President Barack Obama secretly wanted to kill grandmothers. Members of Congress were begging the White House for a response—their constituents were calling in droves, fearful of death panels. Whether they were enticed by the ratings potential of this manufactured drama or they were simply unwilling to truthfully confront the issue, mainstream reporters who lacked any understanding of health-care policy flooded the White House and pro-health-care-policy groups with questions.

Today, instead of discussing the actual problems with U.S. immigration policy, Donald Trump shifts debate to whether or not Mexicans who wish to enter the U.S. are rapists, how tall his wall is going to be and whether the federal government should ban all Muslim immigrants.

By loudly and unapologetically lying to a friendly audience of partisans in the media, at think tanks, on Capitol Hill, and to the public at large, Donald Trump has created bedlam within the Republican party—the same way that Betsy McCaughey successfully threw health-care reform into chaos.

The death panel lie helped to rile up the conservative base in such a way that it became impossible for Democrats and Republicans to reach any sort of compromise on health-care reform. It confirmed for conservatives their worst fears about Barack Obama and what his presidency would mean for their lives, leaving no space for a public discussion on how to fix America’s health-care system.

The post-truth landscape that Trump, McCaughey and others take advantage of is fueled by a bifurcated media structure, which allows misinformation to rapidly spread in ideological echo chambers. Because it is simply impossible for individuals to track down the primary source for every piece of information they consume, we by necessity rely on aggregators to report the news to us. No longer limited to anchors on the big three networks to tell us what we need to know, we flock to the outlets that best conform to our own worldview.

Thus the lies of Donald Trump and the lies of Betsy McCaughey become truth in different communities. This means that even after the existence of “death panels” had been thoroughly debunked it may never fully leave the public consciousness. Zombie lies continue to rise from the dead again and again, influencing political debate and swaying people’s opinions on a variety of issues—particularly emotionally resonant lies like the “death panels.”

The lesson of Donald Trump’s campaign is, if you are going to lie, lie big, lie often and never acknowledge your lies. Repeat them enough and certain segments of the population will accept them in such a way that they will stick.

The lesson for the rest of us (and the media) is we cannot give these liars their undeserved public platforms. It is too late to undo the damage of Donald Trump’s lies, just as there will always be a segment of the people who believe in death panels.

After her lies about health-care reform in the 1990s, Betsy McCaughey should not have been granted any platform to participate in the debate during the Obama years. Likewise once Donald Trump began his quest to discover Barack Obama’s true birthplace, he should have been laughed out of public discourse, relegated to his reality show boardroom. Yes, both McCaughey and Trump were ratings boons for television news seeking an audience, but that came at a cost to our public discourse.

See:http://www.alternet.org/media/lie-big-lie-often-never-back-down-donald-trump-fox-news-and-real-reason-why-right-wing-lies?akid=14177.123424.P67el5&rd=1&src=newsletter1054788&t=6

Trump’s Tragic Flaw May Finally Send Him Down In Flames

Donald Trump is being brought down to earth by his most powerful enemy.

Source: HuffPost

Author: Howard Fineman

Emphasis Mine

Donald Trump has defied the laws of political physics from the moment he rode down that gold-toned elevator in his own Manhattan tower to announce his candidacy last spring.

Time and again he’s proved every pundit and all of his fellow Republican candidates wrong, and he remains the only GOP contender with a plausible chance to collect a majority of delegates before the Cleveland convention in July.

But after a year of hovering above the skyline like a giant dirigible, Trump is being brought down to earth by his most powerful enemy: his own need to demonstrate his masculine “strength” by disparaging others, particularly women.

It has taken a year for relevant, campaign-related examples to accumulate, but they reached critical mass just in time for a pivotal primary in Wisconsin next week that could see the start of a slow, steady decline in his chances.

He is simply so unpopular with female voters — who make up at least 54 percent of the turnout in presidential general elections — that a victory by him this fall seems all but impossible. In a new NBC News poll, Trump is viewed favorably by only 1 in 5 female voters.

To be sure, his ratings among men aren’t dramatically better, and his main GOP rival, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, is almost as poorly regarded by women. Still, 1 in 5 doesn’t work.

“He can’t win, and women are a main reason why,” said Charlie Black, a Republican consultant advising Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Trump critics also note that, despite his vow to ferociously attack Hillary Clinton in a general election, his salvos could be countered by Democrats as just another example of his corrosive attitude toward women.

There are plenty of examples already: his long-running firefight with Fox anchor Megyn Kelly, which included a veiled reference to menstruation; his high-school-level disparagement of Carly Fiorina’s looks; his vow to “spill the beans” on Cruz’s wife, Heidi; and Trump’s full-throated defense of his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who was arrested this week in Florida and charged with using unwanted physical force to yank a female reporter away from his boss.

Trump’s own family and close advisers have been worried about Lewandowski’s short fuse and aggressive behavior for months, but Trump is sticking by him in the din.

Then, on Tuesday, Trump struck a match to the whole pile, telling MSNBC host Chris Matthews that women who get “illegal” abortions (and Trump wants to make them all illegal) should face “some form of punishment” — details unspecified.

In the hourlong face-to-face interview — no phone-ins this time — Matthews pressed Trump on whether he thought abortion should be illegal. The answer was “yes.” So if it is, should women be punished in some way? After hesitating several times, Trump answered “yes.”

After meandering around on the issue for years, Trump in the campaign has run as somewhat of a hard-liner: in favor of repealing Roe v. Wade and of banning so-called partial-birth abortions, but not endorsing a human life amendment or a ban on abortions even in cases of rape or incest.

But the comments to Matthews took him much further to the right, and away from the mainstream of female voters, 55 percent of whom think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Minutes after the taping of the show, and the airing of that key excerpt, the Trump campaign tried to walk the comments back, but it was too late. Democrats, liberals and leaders of women’s rights groups attacked with gusto.

So did Cruz, though his complaint came from the opposite political direction: that Trump was masquerading as a totalitarian foe of abortion, a role that rightly belongs to the Texan.

We’ll know soon enough whether Trump is on trouble, let alone going up in flames, when Wisconsin primary voters go to the polls on Tuesday.

The most recent poll, out on Wednesday and taken during the days that the Lewandowski story dominated the political news, showed Trump falling behind Cruz by 10 points.

Look out below.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

 

See:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-women-flames_us_56fc47efe4b0a06d5804b0b4?

Brussels: Just the Latest Failure of the ‘War on Terror’

The two major aspects of the West’s ‘War on Terror,’ an enormous amount of violence and the demonization of Muslims, are only recipes for increased terrorism.

Source: RSN

Author: Paul Gottinger – Reader Supported News

Emphasis Mine

Once again the West has been stirred to outrage. Two bombs were set off in a bustling airport and one in crowded subway car in Brussels. Now we #PrayForBelgium.

The West has long turned a blind eye to the violence it wages around the world, but this is different. Once again, ‘they’ are attacking ‘us’ here at home.

The attack is tragic, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. To say the West’s ‘War on Terror’ has been an extraordinary failure is inaccurate. In actuality, it is accelerating terrorism.

In fact, during the 14 years of the ‘War on Terror,’ the West has failed to eliminate even one terror organization, yet groups like ISIS have risen from the ashes of the West’s counterterror policy.

My analysis of US State Department data shows that terror attacks have increased by a staggering 65 percent since 9/11. This massive escalation in terror really skyrocketed during the US War in Iraq. British Intelligence has dubbed this the ‘Iraq Effect.’

According the US State Department, in 2003 there were 208 terror attacks around the world, but that number had jumped to 11,000 attacks just two years later. In the years since, the number of attacks has generally been above 10,000.

It’s tragically fitting that the attack in Brussels occurred just 2 days after the 13th anniversary of the War in Iraq. That war, the centerpiece of the US ‘War on Terror,’ gave rise to ISIS, the very terror organization that claimed responsibility for the attack in Brussels.

Many of the US’s counterterror failures have their roots in the colossal disaster that was the Iraq War. ISIS exploited the destruction and instability of war to attract foreign jihadists, gain local support, and create a deeply rooted organizational structure.

Anger over the Iraq War is a common motivation cited for why individuals join ISIS, according to interviews with captured militants.

Most of the leadership of ISIS is Iraqi, and the group’s rise reflects the political failures in Iraq and Syria. The discrimination and violent repression of the Sunni community by the Iraqi government and the Assad regime in Syria created a situation where many Sunnis see ISIS as a preferable option to the state structures ISIS has replaced.

In response to the rise of ISIS, the West has taken its preferred form of action, violence. The US-led coalition has launched almost 11,000 strikes, which have killed 10,000 ISIS fighters in an ISIS military force that the CIA officially estimates to be 30,000, though this is likely a large underestimate.

This enormous use of force has predictably been largely unsuccessful. In fact, it actually fuels resentment by the local populations by leaving communities caught between ISIS’s harsh rule and the West’s indiscriminate violence. Military destruction without a political solution has only deepened the crisis and aided ISIS recruitment.

The US-Russia/Iran rivalry is another serious problem. It only sows division in the effort to fight terrorism in Iraq and Syria. The effect is that the US is turning its back on some of the most effective partners in the fight against ISIS.

Anyone hoping for a change of course in the West’s reaction to terror was quickly disappointed this week.

The US Secretary of Defense quickly announced that the Pentagon will increase funding for the US air strikes on ISIS, and Obama is even concerned a major terror attack in the US may force the US into a “large and costly war in the Middle East.”

But more violence abroad wasn’t the only response to Brussels the US offered. We also saw Donald Trump renewing his pledge to ban Muslims from entering the US, and Ted Cruz calling for police patrols in ‘Muslims neighborhoods.’

Not to be outdone by politicians, ordinary citizens exhibited some of that famous ‘Western civilization’ with the hateful hashtag #StopIslam, which was trending worldwide on Twitter.

Hillary Clinton also got in on the action. She called for censoring the Internet and for Muslims to rat on their friends and family if someone they know catches the ‘extremism’ bug.

Based on these responses, it seems the West will be unable to stem the tide of terror in the West, and worse yet, there doesn’t seem to even be an understanding of what drives individuals towards ‘jihadism.’

The two major aspects of the West’s ‘War on Terror,’ an enormous amount of violence and the demonization of Muslims, are only recipes for increased terrorism.

ISIS may lose territory, but if the underlying sectarian polarization and political crisis is unresolved, the conditions that allow ISIS to exist will remain in place in Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, if the vast majority of the West’s resources continue to go to escalating the risks of terror and the West continues to ignore the Persian Gulf’s funding for extremism, then all the police and intelligence integration imaginable will fail to stop terrorism. The fundamental goal of counterterror should be to prevent the conditions that draw people to become terrorists, rather than just attempting to prevent attacks from being carried out.

A seismic shift is needed in the West’s counterterrorism policy, or the attacks in Belgium are sure to be but a small taste of what is to come for Europe and the US.


Paul Gottinger is a staff reporter at RSN whose work focuses on the Middle East and the arms industry. He can be reached on Twitter @paulgottinger or via email.

See: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/35950-focus-brussels-just-the-latest-failure-of-the-war-on-terror

Trump’s Attack on Cruz’s Wife Proves He’s Too Sexist to Stand a Chance Against Clinton

Trump sneers at Cruz’s wife, showing why he’s not just going to lose female voters, but a lot of male voters, too.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Amanda Marcotte/Salon

Emphasis Mine

While most of the U.S. political world was focused on the terrorist attacks in Brussels and the primaries in some Western states Tuesday night, Donald Trump—surprise, surprise—was sitting around nursing a grudge. And he decided it needed airing out on Twitter, of course.

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There’s been a robust discussion in feminist circles about this ad that is actually a meme and how it’s unfair and slut-shaming. There’s a strong argument to be had supporting this, but you have to give the woman who made it, Liz Mair, some credit for finding and exploiting a real vulnerability when it comes to Trump and female voters, both liberal and conservative.

While it’s true that Melania Trump is smarter than a lot of people realize and isn’t doing anything wrong by taking risqué photos, this ad isn’t really about her. This ad is about Donald Trump, highlighting that he really is a cartoonish stereotype: The wealthy sexist who talks about women like they’re objects for purchase and who is probably not interested in his wife because she speaks five languages and has studied architecture and design. One can politely ignore that fact in public, but there’s simply no way women aren’t taking note of it in private.

(Conversation I heard from two women talking in public recently: “Well, she’s probably smarter than the rest of us. We’re working and she’s probably out on 5th Avenue shopping right now.” “Yeah, but him? Ugh. He can’t really think she wants him for himself.”)

Trump’s reaction to this—to try to drag Ted Cruz into a wife-measuring contest, like they are debating the merits of owning a Ferrari vs. a Toyota Corolla—just confirms the suspicions that this ad is trying to raise.

This is why those who worry that Trump’s over-the-top sexism will somehow help him in a general election match-up against Hillary Clinton are completely misreading these particular tea leaves. Sure, there are a lot of men out there who see things the way Trump does. Those men admire him for his history of categorizing women as either sex objects or wastes of space whose continued existence is a mystery to him.

But those men are not the dominant voting bloc in a general election. In fact, men, as a group, do not make up the majority of voters. Women vote more than men and have since 1980And women hate Trump. Sure, there’s a lot of sexist dislike for Clinton, which explains why her unfavorability ratings are significantly higher with men than women. But Trump’s sexism has an even more profound impact on his popularity with women, as Jon Schwartz at The Intercept explains:

Women dislike Trump with what’s likely a historically unique intensity for a national politician. Trump’s average net favorability among women over the past six weeks is minus 33 percent—far worse than the minus 2 percent net favorability among women for Marco Rubio or the minus 14 percent for Ted Cruz. Likewise, in a poll taken just before the 2012 election, Mitt Romney had a net favorability among women of minus 2 percent.

And this is before the general election even really gets underway and Trump starts pulling his “why is this woman I don’t want to have sex with even talking” act with Hillary Clinton. As Jeet Heer points out at the New Republic, the only time Carly Fiorina was really doing well with Republicans was when Trump was disrespecting her in this way. And that’s with a crowd that has way higher tolerance for overt sexism. The public at large is not going to like it, not one bit. Nor will this hurt Trump with just women, either. Sure, Trump plays well with the Maxim crowd, but he takes the sexist vitriol so far that it repulses a whole bunch of men, both liberal and conservative. The exchange with Cruz was a good example of how the way Trump talks about women is also insulting to men.

screen_shot_2016-03-23_at_4.59.36_pmMost news sources are assuming that Trump was referring to Heidi Cruz’s history of struggling with depression, and if so, then congratulations, Trump. You did the impossible: You made Ted Cruz, by far the creepiest politician on the national stage since Ross Perot, seem like a decent man who cares for and stands by his wife.

That sort of thing doesn’t just impact female voters, but a lot of men, as well. Even some men who might have some sympathy for Trump’s leering sexism are going to draw the line at treating a beloved wife like she’s a defective product who needs to be returned to the factory just because she has some health problems. Most men’s marriages are more like the Cruz marriage than the Trump marriage. They aren’t going to be keen on the idea that Trump would look down on them for that.

Six out of 10 female voters think Trump is an embarrassment, but it’s also true that 4 out of 10 male voters think that. Just wait until the general election, where his sexist antics will get even more attention (as hard as that may be to believe) than they are getting now. This is a man who can’t crack 50% of Republican voters, even in Arizona, where his xenophobic campaign should be going over like gangbusters. On a national stage, against a female opponent whose very existence counters Trump’s reductionist attitudes about women’s worth, Trump is going to look even more like an embarrassment.

Amanda Marcotte is a politics writer for Salon. She’s on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte. 

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trumps-female-problems-donald-trumps-attack-ted-cruzs-wife-proves-hes-too-sexist-stand?utm_source=Amanda+Marcotte%27s+Subscribers&utm_campaign=c6e2f1532d-RSS_AUTHOR_EMAIL&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f2b9a8ae81-c6e2f1532d-79824733

Why the Rise of Trump, Cruz and Sanders Is the Logical Result of the 1% Not Paying Taxes, and Shutting off Opportunity to the Poor

the U.S. protects “everything that deals with capital and property but we cannot deal with protecting basic human rights.”

Source:AlterNet

Author: Vijay Prashad

Emphasis Mine

You reap what you sow. The Republican Party – pushed along by large segments of the “Third Way” Democrats – crafted policies that allowed the American rich to go on tax strike, that allowed them to deindustrialize the United States and that allowed their banks to control the destiny of people from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters.

This land is their land. Democracy is the mask of the 1 percent.

The detritus of those policies created under-employment and endemic social crises. Between the prison industrial complex and the opioid crisis lies the fault line of race: otherwise these are identical. Wages plummeted, but debt-fueled consumption allowed the American Dream to remain alive. The Great Recession of 2007 awoke sections of the country from its credit card somnolence. For the first time in decades, the American Dream seemed unrealistic. The lives of American children would most certainly be economically more fragile than those of their parents.

Race stayed the hand of unity. The Tea Party movement covered itself in the old rags of racism to blame migrants and minorities for the degradation of their country. Egged on by the Republican elites, this movement took the hatred of government and of outsiders to the limit. Out of it came Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, with fire against Washington as their ammunition. It is fitting that the old Gadsden flag was taken up by the Tea Party – with its rattlesnake above the sign, “Don’t Tread on Me.”

To associate oneself with the rattlesnake is a curious gesture. This is venom incarnate.

The Great Recession hit black and Latino families hardest, but there was no room for them in the Tea Party consensus. It was Obama’s presidential campaign that became their ark. That Obama did little to constrain the banks and force the rich to pay tax was disappointing, but not sufficient for disillusionment. What choice has there been? It was organizations such as Stand Up United, Black Lives Matter, Dream Defenders, Defend the Dream, Stand Up/Don’t Shoot and Black Youth Project that drew in the more critical segments – spurred on by Ferguson.

They are the antithesis of the Tea Party, although survivors of a similar dynamic set in motion by the American rich’s tax strike.

Many of these young people have now taken refuge in the Sanders’ campaign. Hillary Clinton was part of the “Third Way” Democrats that allowed Wall Street its excesses. She does not have the compass to bring in this segment. It is fitting that the wife of Eric Garner (killed by the New York police department) supports Clinton, while their daughter – Erica Garner – who is an activist in these movements supports Sanders.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are the end-points of Republican policy. They are what emerge when the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes and the working poor cannot any longer dream of a better life. But they are particularly the salvation of the white working poor. Theirs is a populism narrowed by racism and misogyny.

Stop Trump, goes the slogan. But replace him with what? Ted Cruz, who is not only as bellicose as Trump (bomb the desert to “make it glow”), but is also a zealot? These men are mirror reflections of each other. They are Crump.

Both Trump and Sanders attract the white workers who had been battered by the trade agreements of the 1 percent. Trump’s rhetoric is familiar to the American right, which heard it from Pat Buchanan in an earlier era. Sanders comes from a long line of Democratic barnstormers who opposed these recent trade deals – whether Tom Harkin or Sherrod Brown and most recently the Sanders’ supporter Keith Ellison. These are Mid-western politicians who know how the trade deals eviscerated the working class of their heartland.

In this skepticism of the 1 percent’s trade deals there is the potential of great unity, but again race is the obstacle. Buchanan’s fulminations on the “end of White America” are far from Harkin’s 1992 objections to NAFTA on the grounds that the U.S. protects “everything that deals with capital and property but we cannot deal with protecting basic human rights.”

Exit from this current nightmare is not evident. Until the American Rich give up their tax strike, there is little hope for necessary social investments. Unity is impossible as long as the toxicity of racism diminishes social life. Trump and Cruz offer bluster, empty slogans that reduce the potential of people. Clinton and Rubio have little to offer beyond the prattle of the Beltway, which is continued adherence to Wall Street’s failed dogmas and belief in the Security establishment’s failed imagination for the world.

The Republican elite wants to sow fear of Trump in order to sneak in Cruz. Under both shells sit rotten peas.

It is better to pick neither.

Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press, 2012), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013) and the forthcoming The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016). His columns appear at AlterNet every Wednesday.

See: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/why-rise-trump-cruz-and-sanders-logical-result-americas-wealthiest-not-paying-their?akid=14080.123424.MZYW4e&rd=1&src=newsletter1052897&t=12

 

Republican Party’s Nightmare Coming True as Trump Gets Closer to the 2016 Nomination

Trump is positioned to win big on Super Tuesday.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Steven Rosenfeld

Emphasis Mine

The Republican Party is running out of time and options to stop Donald Trump after winning as expected in Nevada’s Tuesday night caucuses, although party insiders are increasingly desperate about what to do.

Trump, who was leading in Nevada polls—where he has a big Las Vegas hotel-casino—won his largest percentage yet in any of 2016’s caucuses and primaries, with 46 percent of the vote, which was almost twice as much as both Marco Rubio (24 percent) and Ted Cruz (21 percent) received.

So far, 1.2 million Republicans in four states—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada—have participated in caucuses or voted, in contests where 133 delegates have been at stake under party rules where 1,237 are needed for the presidential nomination. Cruz won Iowa. Trump has won everything since. And next week is when 12 states, with 632 delegates, will vote on March 1, so-called Super Tuesday.

Right now, the latest polls in those states listed on RealClearPolitics.com show Trump ahead in nine of those states—Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Arkansas and Vermont. Cruz is ahead in Texas and Arkansas. And Ben Carson is ahead in Colorado, but that survey was taken in November, rendering it meaningless. If Trump wins all these states, he stands to gain upward of 400 delegates, where as the prior states only had 133 delegates in play and awarded some to non-winners.

Beyond the math, the Republican Party establishment is in a real tizzy over what to do. An array of scenarios have been floated—such as pundits like Larry Sabato suggesting Rubio and John Kasich team up, creating a way to likely win Florida and Ohio in the fall. Others have pushed a Cruz-Rubio ticket. Still others have said true conservatives may need to back a third-party candidate. And other GOP strategists have suggested that maybe New York City’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg might be more acceptable than another Clinton presidency. Or they are saying principled Republicans might just have to sit this one out, while others respond that’s impossible, they cannot surrender the party’s brand.

No matter the fanciful fantasy embraced, the reality is the clock is running out on the GOP to stop Trump’s hostile takeover of the party. This is not a conclusion based on the particulars of Trump’s showing in Nevada—as he is very well-known there—but more on the weaknesses of Rubio and Cruz as seen in that state. As Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com noted, Rubio still hasn’t won a single state, and Cruz lost badly in Nevada and before that in South Carolina among constituencies thought to be his best supporters.

He carried only 27 percent of the white born-again and evangelical Christian vote, behind Trump’s 41 percent. Cruz also lost this group in New Hampshire and South Carolina,” Silver and Harry Enten co-wrote. “Cruz also trailed among ‘very conservative’ voters in Nevada, 34 percent to Trump’s 38 percent.” In short, even if Cruz wins his home state of Texas and nearby Arkansas next Tuesday, as RealClearPolitics’ latest polls have him 4 to 5 points ahead of Trump in both states, it is looking like the beginning of the end of the Cruz campaign.

Of course, the only thing certain about the 2016 campaign trail is nothing is certain. But next Tuesday’s dozen GOP contests with half of the delegates needed to secure the nomination in play is going to be a milestone that can’t be ignored. It is likely that the most virulent voters in the party’s base, who have embraced Trump’s boasts, bullying, bigotry and brashness will be on their way to vanquishing their party’s pro-corporate elites.

Where this goes next is unclear, but it’s surely not toward scenarios where cooler heads will prevail—even if Trump will surprise everyone by trying to sound more moderate after fanning the flames. Anybody who has been on the receiving end of GOP tirades (pro-choice women, LBGT individuals, voters in communities of color, climate change scientists, undocumented migrants, labor unions, etc.) or suffered from their obstructionism—as epitomized by Senate Republicans refusing to consider a Supreme Court nomination—knows the modern GOP has been extremist for years.

The difference now is Trump’s ascent seems to have brought an old and ugly form of mob rule into mainstream view, whereas pledges years ago by now-Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to impede President Obama at every turn and create a failed presidency were cloaked in more “acceptable” partisan gamesmanship under Washington’s political rules.

As many people have noted, Republicans have sown the seeds of Trump’s increasing electoral successes for years. But now they have to live with the consequences, which may mean the end of their party as many know it. The time appears to be running out to stop Trump from gaining the nomination, making the immediate future a belwether for where one of the country’s major parties is going—over the edge and toward a darkening unknown.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/republican-partys-nightmare-coming-true-trump-gets-closer-2016-nomination?akid=14008.123424.GcZEKd&rd=1&src=newsletter1051277&t=4

Ted Cruz’s Radical Supporters: He Won Iowa on the Back of the Scariest Bible-Thumpers in the Business

Cruz came on top in the Iowa caucus by presenting himself as a messiah and winning over the radical religious right.

Source:AlterNet

Author: Amada Marcotte/Salon

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: based on 2008 and 2012, the Iowa Republican caucus may not be a good predictor of the Republican nominee…)

Ted Cruz’s victory in Iowa doesn’t mean he’ll get the nomination — history shows the Republican caucus in that state is a poor predictor of eventual outcome — but for the religious right, especially the most skin-crawlingly creepy folks in the religious right, Cruz’s edging Donald Trump out at the polls represents a huge victory. Because Monday night meant that while their influence might seem to be on the decline, the religious right proved, once again, that they are still a powerful force on the right. Unfortunately, the Republican Party will still have to pay tribute to the nasty crews that use Jesus as a cover to push their lifelong obsession with controlling other people’s sex lives, especially if those people are female or queer.

A lot of attention has been paid to Trump’s oversized ego, but Cruz’s may be even worse. While Trump likes to portray himself as a “winner,” Cruz clawed his way to victory in Iowa by implying — well, more than implying — that he’s a religious messiah, a prophet who is the next best thing to the second coming of Jesus. While denouncing Barack Obama for his supposed “messiah complex,” Cruz has been suggesting that he is the real deal, and that he will win because “the body of Christ” will “rise up to pull us back from the abyss.”

Cruz has been portraying his campaign, in fact, as a religious war in which the true believers will assert themselves as the rightful rulers of this nation. “Strap on the full armor of God, get ready for the attacks that are coming,” he told supporters, who are treated more like believers, at a campaign stop in Iowa.

Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, has gone even further in suggesting that his son is quite literally God’s emissary sent to turn America into a Christian nation (which tends to be defined as a nation that keeps heavy tabs on what you’re doing with your genitals, instead of one that makes sure there’s enough loaves and fishes for everyone). In an interview on Glenn Beck’s show, the senior Cruz and Beck both pushed this notion that Cruz is a prophetic figure come to save us all.

“Everybody was born for a reason,” Beck told Rafael Cruz, while sitting in — no joke — a replica of the Oval Office built for his show. “As I learned your story and saw the fruit of that story, now in your son, I am more and more convinced in the hand of divine providence.”

“Oh, absolutely,” Cruz replied. Who doesn’t want to be the father of the messiah? The last one was literally God himself, after all.

This Jesus-walks act of Ted Cruz’s worked like a charm, as Cruz sucked up a veritable rogue’s gallery of every creepy straight guy who claims he loves Jesus but has his eyes fixed firmly on the crotches of America. As Cruz noted in his victory speech Monday night, Bob Vander Plaats and Rep. Steve King are national co-chairs for his campaign. King, of course, is a notoriously loony right wing nut who has argued that legalizing same-sex marriage means people will now marry lawnmowers and has equated undocumented immigration with the Holocaust.

Vander Plaats, who heads up Iowa’s religious right behemoth, the Family Leader , has argued that his interpretation of “God’s law” should trump the actual laws of our country, that gay marriage will lead to parents marrying their children, and that Vladimir Putin was right to sign a law criminalizing those who speak out for gay rights.

Right before the caucus, Cruz launched“Pro-Lifers for Cruz,” a group that is also a magnet for the most radical elements of the Christian right. It’s chaired by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a group that is so virulently anti-gay that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has declared it a hate group.

Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue, is on the board as well. Newman is beyond a radical anti-choicer, a man who believe that abortion doctors should be executed and women who abort pregnancies, which is about 30 percent of American women by age 45, should be jailed for murder. Newman’s single-minded obsession with abortion has led him to blame everything from the California drought to HIV to 9/11 on the fact that we have legal abortion.

Cruz also enjoys the support of David Barton, a powerful crank who rose in the ranks of the religious right by feeding the masses totally false but pleasing stories about American history, designed to create the illusion that our country was basically formed as a theocracy. Barton’s willingness to lie and deceive on behalf of this claim is truly breath-taking, as the SPLC demonstrates:

Another Barton whopper is his repeated claim that John Adams supported religious control of the U.S. government. To make that point, Barton quoted the following Adams passage: “There is no authority, civil or religious — there can be no legitimate government — but what is administered by this Holy Ghost. There can be no salvation without it — all without it is rebellion and perdition or, in more orthodox words, damnation.” But Barton conveniently omits the next part of the quote, in which Adams makes it crystal clear he is mocking those with this belief.

Right before the caucus, Cruz launched“Pro-Lifers for Cruz,” a group that is also a magnet for the most radical elements of the Christian right. It’s chaired by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a group that is so virulently anti-gay that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has declared it a hate group.

And so on and so forth. Cruz has been rolling out a dizzying array of endorsements of the absolute worst of the religious right, which was enough to help push him over the top in Iowa.None of this means that Cruz will be the eventual nominee. But, as history shows, campaigns like his — and like Mike Huckabee’s and Rick Santorum’s in the past — show that the fire-breathing fundies have a lot of political power. This, in turn, means that the Republican Party will still feel obliged to pay fealty to  those who believe that it’s the government’s solemn, Jesus-instructed duty to punish you for having sex outside of their very narrow prescription of what it should look like (straight, married, only for procreation).

If there was one good thing to come out of Trump’s candidacy, it was that his apparent pull with evangelical voters suggested that the single-minded obsession with the underpants of America was finally starting to fade on the right. But the fact that Iowa voters, who are heavily evangelical, broke at the last minute to support the guy who is supported by the sex police shows that we are not quite done with these lunatics. Which is something they’ll be happy to remind party leaders of, even if Cruz eventually loses the nomination.

 

See:http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/ted-cruzs-radical-supporters-he-won-iowa-back-scariest-bible-thumpers-business?utm_source=Amanda+Marcotte%27s+Subscribers&utm_campaign=51b931879e-RSS_AUTHOR_EMAIL&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f2b9a8ae81-51b931879e-79824733