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Our Democracy Is Doomed: Match the Plutocrat to the GOP Candidate He Owns

May 14, 2015 in Blogs

By Evan McMurry, AlterNet

The 2016 GOP race is expected to bring out billionaires bankrolling their candidates.

“Whether it's the Koch brothers or Soros on the left or Sheldon,” former GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich recently said, “if you're going to have an election process that radically favors billionaires and is discriminating against the middle class—which we now have—then billionaires are going to get a lot of attention.”

Those are, pun intended, rich words coming from a man whose 2012 candidacy was almost single-handedly bankrolled by a billionaire casino magnate. More than anybody, Gingrich profited from the new limitless heights of election spending, as $15 million turned Gingrich from a disgraced former speaker to a viable presidential contender, the first in four decades to win South Carolina without taking the White House.

The 2012 GOP race was marked by the presence of billionaires anointing candidates with their millions and gaining outsized influence over the outcome, duration, and policies of the GOP primary. The 2016 race, only a couple months old, looks to be following the same course. Here are the candidates the billionaires are looking at so far.

Sheldon Adelson

Adelson, the 12th richest man in America at an estimated $32 billion, may be the biggest single figure in Republican politics. With seemingly endless amounts of money to spend and a monomaniacal focus on neoconservative foreign policy, Adelson not only gains the attentions of GOP candidates but also skews their policies. The right doesn’t lack for pressure to support Israel, but Adelson makes that support a dealbreaker.

Is there a more gauche way to put that? “It is not complicated for Republican politicians to come to the RJC and say they’ll stand with Israel,” said Senator Ted Cruz, speaking at Adelson’s summit in as Vegas recently. “Unless you’re a blithering idiot, that’s what you say when you come to the RJC.” Yes, but usually that’s the part you don’t say out loud.

In 2012 Adelson spent $100 million, the most of any single donor, with $15 million ultimately going to Gingrich’s otherwise floppy campaign. This year hopefuls like Cruz, Rick Perry, and Scott Walker, …read more


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I’m Saving Myself for God: True Stories From Evangelical Purity Culture

May 14, 2015 in Blogs

By Donna Freitas, Salon

Sex and the single evangelical: “God commands us to save sex for a reason. It’s not just a stupid rule to follow”.

‘Ooooh, sex is wonderful!’’ gushes Emily Holland, an unusual confession for someone at an evangelical college. Emily wears a smart,  pale green suit, dressed as if our meeting is really a job interview. Her cheeks turn pink, her long eyelashes flutter, and her blue eyes dance as she draws out each syllable.

My eyes open wide as I try to hide my surprise.

It’s not that I haven’t met other evangelical students who have had sex. But they are typically regretful, mortified, angry, or fearful. Emily is decidedly different.

Like most of her peers, Emily grew up in a ‘‘very religious’’ household, went to church every Sunday (sometimes more than once), prayed and studied the Bible at home with her family, and was part of a youth group. She describes herself  as ‘‘very involved and very religious and very spiritual.’’ In her journal, she writes that she has ‘‘religious experiences all the time’’ because she ‘‘walk[s] every day with God.’’ Emily  decided to attend an evangelical college because she wanted to ‘‘surround herself ’’ with fellow students and faculty who would ‘‘hold her accountable’’ in her faith.

Nonetheless, Emily is effusive about sex.

‘‘I have a very healthy sex life,’’ she continues happily.  She then does something that makes me understand why she is not conflicted about sex: she takes her left hand from her lap and displays it on the table between us, revealing a big diamond ring. At 21, Emily is already married.

In Emily, I met what most evangelicals would call a true princess of purity: an unblemished, unspoiled young woman who—at least, according to the purity culture in which she lives—had  every right to wear a white dress and to hold her head high as she walked  down the aisle on her wedding day. Emily had done everything right: she not only remained  a virgin until her wedding night, she also made it to the special day uncorrupted by any sexual intimacy aside …read more


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Is Jeb Joking on Iraq Denials? 6 Instances Where He Clearly Supported the Invasion

May 14, 2015 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Jeb Bush has long called the Iraq a moral cause.

Jeb Bush says he’s running for president in 2016, not in 2004, after his brother invaded Iraq. But he keeps defending ex-President George W. Bush’s war of choice—and not just on Fox News this week, where he endorsed the war but backtracked later that day.

Let’s go through a half-dozen statements that Jeb Bush has made, showing this foreign policy compass has long supported that war even if it’s an convenient truth in 2016.

1. First The Fox News Admission. Host Megyn Kelly asked, “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?” Bush replied, “I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.”

The first part of that quote got him in trouble, but the follow-up was more telling. Kelly asked, “You don't think it was a mistake?” He replied, “In retrospect, the intelligence that everybody saw, that the world saw, not just the United States, was faulty. And in retrospect, once we invaded and took out Saddam Hussein, we didn't focus on security first, and the Iraqis in this incredibly insecure environment turned on the United States military because there was no security for themselves and their families. By the way, guess who thinks that those mistakes took place as well? George W. Bush.”

2. Bush Backed The War Then. There’s a long line of quotes from Bush where he said the invasion and war effort were the right choice. As reported, he said at  a 2003 news conference in Pensacola that the war was the correct moral choice. “It is the last thing that a commander in chief, a president of the United States, wants to do. But in his heart, I know he is doing what he thinks is right, and I concur with him.”

3. He Backed It As Florida Governor. In his 2004 State of the State speech, he praised the war effort. “Last month, we welcomed home almost 2,000 …read more


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We’re Living in an Anti-Choice Nightmare: 25 Ways Anti-Women Warriors Are Playing Doctor

May 14, 2015 in Blogs

By Katie McDonough, Salon

Kansas says it’s a crime for doctors to use the safest and most common method to perform a second trimester abortions.

House Republicans voted on Wednesday to pass a modified but still terrible version of their 20-week abortion ban. The measure no longer includes a provision forcing rape victims to report the assault to the police in order to access care, but it still makes them jump through hoops. Instead of mandatory reporting to law enforcement, the updated bill requires victims to seek mandatory counseling — effectively a waiting period. It is still unconstitutional. It is still based on phony science.

Elsewhere in the country, numerous other restrictions have passed at least one legislative chamber or have already become law:

Arizona says doctors must tell patients that medical abortions can be reversed. (Junk science.)

Arkansas says rape victims under the age of 18 must file a petition in court to terminate their pregnancies.

Arkansas says that fetuses at 20 weeks can feel pain. (They can’t.)

Arkansas also says that doctors must tell patients that abortions can be reversed. (Still junk science.)

Arkansas also says that any facility that provides abortion referrals can no longer receive public funding.

Kansas says it’s a crime for doctors to use the safest and most common method to perform a second trimester abortions.

West Virginia says abortions after 20 weeks are illegal, but because there aren’t any clinics in the state that perform the procedure at 20 weeks, it’s a bill aimed at denying care to women in emergency medical situations.

Oklahoma says exactly what Kansas says about the safest method used in second trimester abortions.

Texas says that teens in abusive or unsafe homes must endure an even stricter judicial bypass process if they have to obtain an abortion without parental consent.

Idaho says that women seeking medication abortion must make multiple and expensive trips to see their doctors rather than safetly completing the termination at home.

Florida says women must wait 24 hours before being able to access an abortion.

Tennessee says women must …read more


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Robert Reich Eviscerates Right-Wing Lies on Social Security and Explains Why It Should Be Expanded (VIDEO)

May 14, 2015 in Blogs

By Adam Johnson, AlterNet

The former Labor Secretary breaks down why you should ignore right-wing scare tactics on Social Security .

For the past 30 years, scores of conservative and centrist think tanks, pundits and propagandists have worked hard to convince people that Social Security is “running out of money” and that in order to “save” it we must cut benefits or raise the retirement age. Like most right-wing “starve the beast” approaches, the assault on our social safety net is based on a mixture of misinformation, scare tactics and downright shoddy math. 

To counter this and other far-right memes, Robert Reich, in partnership with, has created a series of pretty cool explainer videos that do a great job breaking down why so much of our economic conventional wisdom is wrong. In the latest video, Reich explains why getting rid of the cap on Social Security taxes—a feature that has billionaires paying the same Social Security taxes as someone making $118,000 a year—is a long-overdue corrective that can not only preserve Social Security but radically expand and improve it.

Check out the video below and share the next time someone hysterically insists Social Security must be gutted to save it.   

…read more


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Gulf States Undermine U.S. Interests, Demand Special Favors: Washington Should Tell Whiny Allies No

May 14, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

What if they gave a summit and no one came? That was the reaction of some to the news that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was not attending today’s Mideast conference at Camp David. In fact, several of his fellow monarchs also skipped the meeting, suggesting that the event’s outcome will be modest at most. Which might be best, since America should be doing less, not more, for its dubious “allies.”

Washington’s determination to defend much of the globe has made the U.S. an international sucker, especially vulnerable to manipulation by supposed friends. Even America’s closest and oldest allies are never satisfied, always demanding greater “reassurance” from their protector, whether formal security agreements, new arms transfers, additional troop deployments, or other “concrete” measures.

At least many of Washington’s Asian and European allies are liberal democracies which share values, histories, and traditions. In contrast, most U.S. Middle Eastern allies are embarrassments, including the assorted Persian Gulf monarchies ranging from quasi-liberal to totalitarian. Yet all want constant aid and affirmation.

Which is the basis of the Mideast summit. The Gulf States are upset. King Salman’s absence may or may not be a diplomatic snub, but it matters not. The basic “problem” in their view is that Washington is pursuing the interests of America, not Saudi Arabia & Co., which is seeking hegemony over the Gulf. The visiting monarchs believe the U.S. should sacrifice its interests for their benefit. Their complaints are many.

First, Washington negotiated to prevent Iranian acquisition of a nuclear weapon rather than demanded Tehran’s surrender and bombed Iran when that country said no, as it almost certainly would have. An American war against Iran actually is Riyadh’s preferred policy, since that would take out the latter’s most important rival.

Second, even though forestalling development of an Iranian nuke would dramatically improve the region’s security environment, especially for Tehran’s antagonistic neighbors, they complain that eliminating sanctions would increase Iranian revenues, allowing Tehran to meddle more. In short, the Gulf States are anti-Iran, not anti-nuclear Iran. They would prefer permanent sanctions unrelated to nuclear weapons.

Third, Syria’s Bashar Assad must be overthrown, even though he has not threatened the U.S. The monarchical gaggle believes that he must be defenestrated even if what replaces him is worse, much worse—a mix of the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front and ostentatiously murderous Islamic State. Indeed, America’s nominal allies, including Turkey, have been variously aiding Syrian radicals with funds, sanctuary, transit, and …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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American Stalin — ‘Joe Steele’ book review

May 14, 2015 in Blogs

By Political Zach Foster

I’ve been a fan of Harry Turtledove’s writing ever since I picked up a copy of Great War: American Front back in 2009. Turtledove has the ability to weave the stories of numerous ordinary people together to make one large patchwork fabric of an impressive, epic tale. Such is the case with his 2015 novel, Joe Steele.
Joe Steele is based on a short story of the same name written in 2003, and expanded in 2014 to be a long, standalone novel. In this novel, the man who would become Stalin is an American, a Democrat congressman from California rather than a Georgian-born Communist Party bureaucrat in Russia. Born and raised among farm laborers in Fresno, Joe Steele is a dedicated socialist and is militantly pro-labor.
The story follows the Sullivan Brothers, reporters both, over a twenty year period. One will unwillingly become a propagandist for the regime while the other is deported to a labor camp and must later fight on the front lines to atone for his political crimes. Our story begins at the height of the Great Depression.

When the nominating process at the 1932 Democratic National Convention comes to complete gridlock between Franklin D. Rooseveltand Joe Steele, no one knows who will challenge Herbert Hoover for the Presidency. The sudden death of FDR in a house fire leaves Joe Steele the uncontested nominee and the eventual landslide victor over Hoover.
President Steele immediately begins a series of economic reforms under the first Four Year Plan—an allusion to Stalin’s Five Year Plan but tailored to the President’s term in office—with makes FDR’s New Deal look like a children’s game. The federal government begins confiscating property under eminent domain for large-scale collective farming. The Supreme Court justices who rule the new policies unconstitutional suddenly find themselves in front of a military tribunal for a show trial, and promptly sentenced to death by firing squad. Joe Steele then moves on to purge the military establishment and key political opposition (as well as purging loyal followers who pose a future potential threat to the regime).
<td style="text-align: …read more