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'Amusing Ourselves to Death' Part 2: The Story of Donald Trump and Sarah Palin

August 29, 2015 in Blogs

By Colin Greer, AlterNet

A satirical play starring two of America's biggest comic characters.

TRUMP’S chopper is landing at the Iowa State Fair Grounds for the Best Tasting Tomato competition.  HE clears the blades and he is escorted quickly to a platform where he is greeted by a crowd and an introductory welcome from SARAH PALIN.
To the crowd.
The Donald! Nothing more to say.  Here he is. 
With a nod and a hug to SARAH.
I came to a tomato competition here in Iowa, and I get the hottest tomato from Alaska to introduce me!  Twice blessed: Sarah here, on my team and you all out there cheering us on.  We are here to save America folks.  We are gonna make America great again.
Pointing to SARAH again.
Only the best!  This lady can shoot the head off a bear and with every breath I take I am pumping up America.
Lights shift to TRUMP AND PALIN alone together. 
Couldn’t have gone better than that.  HE hesitates for a moment.  Except for the fucking pork.  I hate pork.  That can’t happen again.
I’m not the caterer Donald, but the fact is, people in America like to see the candidates for President eating pork.  Especially in Iowa. You come from New York City and so people from out here expect you to want organic, maybe even Tofu.  So you gotta get past that. 
I won’t do pork again.  I’ll eat in my way.  They want someone who eats pork, let em go find him.
If you are gonna turn New York City dog turd into gold, or even bio-fuel…I don’t much care which, you gotta pick the stuff up.  You got a mouth like a latrine, it shouldn’t be so hard for you.
Done and done.  You know this was a big day for me.  I was given a Winchester rifle when I left New Hampshire and I sat with it all the way here on the chopper.  By the time I got off that chopper, I could honestly say to people, I mean really honestly, deep down from my heart, “I love guns!” That was such a great feeling today, Sarah, “I love …read more


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Trump Aside, 5 Right-Wing Nutjobs This Week: Ben Carson Hints of a 'War on Women's Insides'

August 29, 2015 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

And Peggy Noonan met a Dominican person!

1. Words come out of Ben Carson’s mouth that appear to make no sense.

Given his history of bizarre utterances, it should not come as a surprise that Ben Carson gave a speech on the steps of the Arkansas Capitol in Little Rock on Thursday that made somewhere between little and no sense. He talked about troublemakers (apparently meaning Democrats) who keep saying Republicans are waging a war on women.

“They tell you that there’s a war on women,” said Carson, according to RawStory. “There is no war on women. There may be a war on what’s inside of women, but there is no war on women in this country.”

Whatever could he mean? What part of women’s insides is there a war on? Is he admitting that there is a war on women’s uteruses? How is that an acceptable thing? And how do you make laws about women’s uteruses that are separate from laws about women? Sometimes babies are inside women. Is he saying there is a war on babies? Why?

Carson managed not to make a hell of a lot of sense on other topics as well. It’s that free-ranging, free-associating mind of his. He talked about how in the good ol' days, immigrants worked 10-12 hours a day when there was no minimum wage, and apparently that was a good thing. And before that, he pointed out, “other immigrants came here involuntarily in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less.”

As if that too was a good thing. Slavery, just another fun plucky part of making America great.

“But they [slaves, he means] too had a dream that one day their great grandsons and great granddaughters might pursue freedom and prosperity in this land.”

That is just flabbergastingly batsh*t crazy! Does he realize that people can hear him when he is talking?

He also suggested that a good way to destroy this country would be to invite people here from other nations and give them free phones.

Small reminder here, this guy may not be Trump, but his poll numbers are rising.

2. …read more


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SWAT Team Raids Home, Kills Man Over $2 Worth of Pot – Informant Exposes Police Cover-Up

August 29, 2015 in Blogs

By Jay Syrmopoulos, The Free Thought Project

Another day, another botched police sting.

A Florida family seeks justice after their son Jason Westcott, was killed by members of a SWAT team, during a “drug raid” on his house which yielded only $2.00 worth of marijuana.

An ‘internal investigation’ absolved officers of any wrongdoing though police only found .02 grams of marijuana in Westcott’s home.

“They have IA, they have internal investigations but when you police yourself, you have that veil of concern by the outsider,” said attorney T.J. Grimaldi.

On Tuesday, attorney T.J. Grimaldi, representing the family of Westcott, informed the city that family would be filing a lawsuit, after finding numerous “glaring inconsistencies” in police statements in the aftermath of the killing.

“We have developed and seen what we view to be significant inconsistencies with the way that the police department portrayed this case from the get-go all the way to its conclusion,” he said. “We have put the city and the police department on notice that we are going to be filing a lawsuit,” Grimaldi said.

Westcott became the target of an intense drug trafficking investigation after a confidential informant led investigators to believe that Westcott was a dealer, as opposed to the casual cannabis smoker he was in reality. The informant has since gone public and admitted that he was lying to police in the case.

According to the Tampa Bay Times report:

A 50-year-old felon and drug addict, Ronnie “Bodie” Coogle, was the principal Tampa Police Department informer against at least five suspects this year. He conducted nine undercover operations. In their probable-cause affidavits, his handlers called him reliable. Even Tampa’s police chief praised his “track record.”

Coogle said they were all wrong. He said he repeatedly lied about suspects, stole drugs he bought on the public’s dime and conspired to falsify drug deals.

“He wasn’t a drug dealer. He sold a few grams of pot to smoke pot and stay high,” Coogle said of Westcott. “If you could even label Jason a drug dealer, he was the lowest level drug dealer.”

Peter Zwolinski, Westcott’s landlord, told the Times that when a Tampa police officer told him on the night of the raid that Westcott and Reyes were drug …read more


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Celebrity Killer Culture: When Grandiosity, Privilege And Entitlement Turn Attention-Seeking Into Violence

August 29, 2015 in Blogs

By Arthur Chu, Salon

We see a pattern over and over again with history’s famous killers

Let me tell you a story. It’s a story inspired by the tragic events of Wednesday morning, of yet another shooting in which two innocent people were killed followed by the gunman shooting himself, all grotesquely documented on social media.

But it’s not a story about this morning. It’s a story about the 19th century.

We all know the story about the first presidential assassination, John Wilkes Booth assassinating Abraham Lincoln in 1865 in order to avenge the South. Much is made of Booth as the first of the neo-Confederate reactionaries that would form the Ku Klux Klan and similar organizations, the legacy of insurgent white supremacy he left behind.

But what’s less emphasized is that Booth was a troll. He did what he did not because he had any concrete plan for re-igniting the Civil War but because he wanted to plunge the Union into chaos and fear. He was an accomplished stage actor, the equivalent of a movie star, the younger brother of Edwin Booth, called by some the most distinguished Shakespearean actor in history. He arranged Lincoln’s murder to be as theatrical as possible, to occur immediately after the act break in the play so that he could heroically leap onto the stage shouting words of defiance, “Sic semper tyrannis” and “The South is avenged!”

He did it, above all, for the attention.

The only difference between our Internet term “troll” and the scary real-world term “terrorist” is the scale of the attention-seeker’s ambitions.

Which is why I want to talk about the second presidential assassination in history, the assassination of James Garfield by Charles Guiteau in 1881. I can think of no clearer demonstration of Karl Marx’s aphorism that history repeats “first as tragedy, then as farce.”

Tour guides and history textbooks tend to gloss over the kind of man Charles Guiteau was by calling him a “disgruntled office seeker,” just like the sanitizing use of the term “disgruntled” about this morning’s murderer, as though murderous violence were a normal response to workplace disgruntlement.

Charles Guiteau was never a serious “office …read more


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George Zimmerman Shows True Stripes in Idiotic Rantings About Virginia Media Shooting

August 29, 2015 in Blogs

By Scott Eric Kaufman, Salon

The deaths of Alison Parker and Adam Ward gave Trayvon Martin's killer an excuse to vent, and he used it with gusto

George Zimmerman, the killer of Trayvon Martin who was last seenhawking paintings of the Confederate battle flag that praised the Second Amendment, took to Twitter in the wake of yesterday’s shootings of Alison Parker and Adam Ward to condemn the “Black [piece of shit]” who murdered them and the “Ignorant Baboon” in the White House who mentioned gun control in his comments about their murders.

Presumably because he knows a thing or two about killing people in cold blood, Zimmerman expounded at Twitter-length on the murders of Parker and Ward, writing first that:

“Pansy” is, of course, a reference to the fact that the shooter, Vester Flanagan II, was a homosexual, which is relevant here because Zimmerman inexplicably chose to make it so. Flanagan’s motivations, at least as they were communicated in his 23-page-long manifesto, were based on a combination of a personal grudge against Ward and his feelings about the massacre in Charleston, South Carolina earlier this year. But Zimmerman felt it necessary to denigrate his sexuality anyway, as well as complain about what to him was the lack of timely manner in which President Barack Obama addressed the murders:

Putting aside the fact that Zimmerman’s complained, at length, that Obama jumped to conclusions about him and spoke too soon about his killing of Martin, it’s worth noting that Obama did, in fact, address Parker and Ward’s murder yesterday, saying that it “breaks [his] heart every time [he] read[s] or hear[s] about these kinds of incidents,” and that “the number of people who die from gun-related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism.”

Which was in fact a statement, but to Zimmerman’s mind, the absolute worst one he could make:


Zimmerman also retweeted a sarcastic comment that “praised” him for being a “uniter”:

Because, of course, nothing unites the country quite like racist …read more


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What is the Obama Justice Department Doing Harassing Gay Men For Having Sex?

August 29, 2015 in Blogs

By Tara Burns, AlterNet

Lots of questions remain unanswered.

On Tuesday, federal agents swarmed the headquarters of, a website that offered advertising to male escorts, and arrested seven employees. The action seems to be unprecedented – federal attention has thus far focused only on female sex workers, painting them all as helpless victims in need of arrest. Rentboy, however, openly operated and flourished on the Internet for the last eight years, expanding to offer a much different experience for advertisers than websites for female escorts, which have operated under constant shutdowns. 

The ways that male and female escorts are framed and prosecuted have created two distinct worlds of Internet escorting. Female escorts have gone from advertising on Big Doggy to Craigslist to ECCIE to Backpage, along with dozens of other regional outlets. Even the major sites are shut down or lose their payment processing every few years, causing them to take preventative measures such as limiting advertisements to 200 words, banning words that seem pretty innocuous, such as “brain” or “selective,” or retaining escort IDs for – some worry – police or hackers to find. Rentboy, conversely, sounds like an escort utopia.

“There was always a sense of community when we’d do the large events like Black Party, Hustlaball, etc.  They even had a Christmas party where rent boys could go for an open bar in NYC the few years I was there,” said Danny Cruz, who advertised on Rentboy for seven years and is currently the Interim Director for SWOP Los Angeles. Cruz explained that the website offered scholarships to members of the community who were in school and had classes on subjects ranging from doing taxes to staying safe.  Advertisers could get free credit toward their advertisements by pitching in at events or taking in-person classes.

On the other hand, male escorts don’t have screening and verification tools for new clients, such as blacklists, that abound for female escorts. 

The Rentboy bust came just weeks after Amnesty International’s decision to support the human rights of sex workers by advocating the decriminalization of every aspect of consensual adult sex workers. Lambda Legal …read more


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West Point Professor Calls On US Military To Target Legal Critics Of War On Terror

August 29, 2015 in Blogs

By Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

William Bradford argues that attacks on scholars’ home offices and media outlets – along with Islamic holy sites – are legitimate

An assistant professor in the law department of the US Military Academy at West Point has argued that legal scholars critical of the war on terrorism represent a “treasonous” fifth column that should be attacked as enemy combatants.

In a lengthy academic paper, the professor, William C Bradford, proposes to threaten “Islamic holy sites” as part of a war against undifferentiated Islamic radicalism. That war ought to be prosecuted vigorously, he wrote, “even if it means great destruction, innumerable enemy casualties, and civilian collateral damage”.

Other “lawful targets” for the US military in its war on terrorism, Bradford argues, include “law school facilities, scholars’ home offices and media outlets where they give interviews” – all civilian areas, but places where a “causal connection between the content disseminated and Islamist crimes incited” exist.

“Shocking and extreme as this option might seem, [dissenting] scholars, and the law schools that employ them, are – at least in theory – targetable so long as attacks are proportional, distinguish noncombatants from combatants, employ nonprohibited weapons, and contribute to the defeat of Islamism,” Bradford wrote.

West Point is the revered undergraduate institution north of New York City where the US army educates its future officer corps. It prides itself on the rigor of its curriculum. Representatives from the school said Bradford had only begun his employment there on 1 August.

 William Bradford. Photograph: West Point United States Military Academy

Bradford’s article, “Trahison des Professeurs: The Critical Law of Armed Conflict Academy as an Islamist Fifth Column”, appeared in the most recent issue of the National Security Law Journal, a student-run publication at the George Mason School of Law. Bradford clarifies that the term means “treason of the professors”, itself an allusion to a famous attack on French intellectuals from the 1920s.

In the paper, Bradford identifies himself as an “associate professor of law, national security and strategy, National Defense University”, seemingly his previous job before West Point. But a representative of the National Defense University said Bradford was …read more


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California More of a Welfare State than Most Countries in Europe

August 29, 2015 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner, Charles Hughes

Michael D. Tanner and Charles Hughes

When you hear the term “welfare state,” most people think of Europe and countries like Denmark or France. No doubt those countries offer a wide range of benefits targeted to the middle class, retirees and so forth.

But according to a study recently released by the Cato Institute, someone who is poor might just be better off in California.

The federal government currently funds more than 100 anti-poverty programs. While no one participates in all of them, many can and do collect assistance from multiple programs.

In California a mother with two children under the age of 5 who participates in these major welfare programs — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), housing assistance, home energy assistance, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children — would receive a benefits package worth $30,828 per year.

By creating such a big disincentive for work, our tangled, ineffective welfare system can harm the same low-income people it is supposed to help.”

Using a similar measure, Cato found that benefits in Europe ranged from $38,588 per year in Denmark to just $1,112 in Romania. The California benefits package is higher than in well-known welfare states as France ($17,324), Germany ($23,257) and even Sweden ($22,111).

In fact, California’s welfare system can be more generous than every country included, except Denmark. Moreover, this benefit package doesn’t include Medicaid, which would be worth roughly $4,459 for this household.

One of the problems with these welfare systems is that they can create situations where participants have little incentive to increase work effort because they would lose most of their earnings through lower benefits or higher taxes, while also having to bear the costs, like transportation, associated with going to work. These people would see little tangible improvement in their standard of living by taking up a job, working more hours or moving up the job ladder.

People in these programs are not lazy, but they also are not stupid. Like everyone else, they respond to incentives. If welfare pays better than work, people on welfare will be less likely to work.

Indeed, economists often discuss the danger that high marginal tax rates can discourage economic activity. But some of the highest effective marginal tax rates in the world are for someone leaving welfare for work.

By creating such a big disincentive for work, our tangled, ineffective welfare system can harm the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Waiting for the Fed Rate Rise: Beware Careless Talk

August 29, 2015 in Economics

By William Poole

William Poole

Last week, William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, was widely quoted as saying that the case for a September interest rate increase has grown “less compelling,” apparently as a consequence of turmoil in stock markets around the world. Is Dudley saying that monetary policy is dependent on the stock market?

“Data dependence” has become a mantra of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy discussion. For example, Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s statement at her June press conference says, “…although policy will be data dependent….”

It is long past time for the FOMC to make sense of what it means by “data dependence.” Dudley is not the first FOMC participant to react to events in a way that continues to muddle communication of policy strategy.

Early in my tenure as St. Louis Fed president, I gave a speech entitled “Data Dependence,” and across the years I tried to convey a sense of what this term ought to mean. The FOMC’s setting of the federal funds rate should depend in a predictable, systematic way on data available at the time of each FOMC meeting.

I wish that current FOMC participants would stop trying to predict policy actions and instead concentrate on defining a sensible and understandable long-run policy strategy.”

I followed events—especially economic news—closely. As I observed the daily flow of news and market reactions to it, I tried to think through whether the markets had it right. Markets continuously assess and reassess.

Day by day, I thought about what my policy position might be were the next FOMC meeting to be the next day. Eight times each year, the meeting was indeed the next day. And sometimes the chairman called a meeting between the regular meetings.

I was almost always opposed to policy action between regular meetings, because taking the market by surprise was a poor idea most of the time. A surprise meeting inevitably put more emphasis on the latest news than was justified. That is, a surprise meeting conveyed to the market that the news of that day had special importance to the FOMC. This is a risky way to conduct Fed policy.

An excellent example is the telephone conference call meeting on January 22, 2008, which was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The FOMC cut its target fed funds rate that evening by 75 basis points. The U.S. markets had been closed, but European markets were down …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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WATCH: Sarah Palin Interviews Donald Trump In Weird Meeting of Simpleton Political Minds

August 29, 2015 in Blogs

By Adam Johnson, AlterNet

Palin manages to squeak out 15 more minutes of relevancy as she jumps on the Trump bandwagon.

What the hell just happened?

Right-wing darling Sarah Palin evidently has a talk show and she used this talk show to interview Donald Trump Friday night . The ten-minute segment aired on something called the “One America News Network”; a network that's hard to find and whose production values are a cross between an ISIS propaganda video and a generic newscast you would see on underproduced crime drama.

The segment started out with a crude montage about how terrible things are (of course, Obama), complete with populist filler involving infrastructure crumbling, stock video of unemployment, and, of course, “millions of people flowing through our southern border”.

Sarah Palin, who was last seen quitting her job as governor for no apparent reason, goes on to lob Trump a series of softballs about his recent experiences purging critical journalists and defending him from “gotcha questions” like “what's your favorite bible verse?”, a question so tough its answer can easily be found in the crowd at any given football game.

“Since the day he made the sacrifice to hit the campaign trail” Palin sycophantically began, “voters crave the anti-establishment politician. They want results, they want a fighter. They want someone to fire all those politically correct police”.

It's unclear if Trump has the authority to fire the “politically correct police” or if such a thing even exists (it doesn't), but the rest of the bizarre interview would go on just like this: An unlettered Palin, giddy with praise, and an on-message Trump exchanging talking points and praising each other in a creepy dance of populist glee. 

Watch the clip below, if you can manage:

h/t Mediaite

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