Thursday / May 5, 2016

Image result for bonhoeffer

“If you board the wrong train , it is no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction.”

— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian and Nazi resister.

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Hostile Takeover: Trump Has Bought, Broken & Conquered The Republican Party

Scan 37

 (Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor. Open source and free to use with link to )

Republican politics boils down to ethno-nationalistic passions ungoverned by reason.

By Jonathan Chiat
New York Magazine (5/3/16)

It is fitting that Donald Trump has essentially locked up the Republican presidential nomination on the same day he made yet another bizarre and senseless (that is, lacking any discernible purpose) comment by accusing Ted Cruz’s father of having conspired to kill President Kennedy. The accusation, which originated from the pro-Trump National Enquirer,neatly encapsulates his peculiarity. There are a number of lunatic theories professed by most Republicans: the theory of anthropogenic global warming is a conspiracy concocted by scientists worldwide; the Reagan and Bush tax cuts caused revenue to increase; George W. Bush kept us safe from terrorism. But Trump advocates an entirely different set of crackpot beliefs that lie outside conservative ideology, and every attempt by his rivals to expose them has failed spectacularly. Having won Indiana, the last state where his rivals stood a chance to potentially derail him, and where they spent heavily to do so, Trump has a glide path to the convention. The largest trove of remaining delegates lies in California, which he no longer even needs to win, and where his lead has grown to some 30 points. It is as if Trump in his moment of conquest wants the Republicans to know that no quarter will be given, that he has conquered the party on his own, loopy terms.

The most surreal and characteristic moment of Trump’s presidential campaign may have taken place two months ago. That week, Mitt Romney had mocked Trump’s business acumen, highlighting his many failed ventures, including Trump Steaks, in a well-regarded and highly publicized speech that articulated both the horror with which Republican elites regarded Trump and their strategy for preventing him from capturing the nomination. A few days later, having won a series of victories, Trump appeared in his Mar-a-Lago resort to insist Trump Steaks were indeed a going concern. “Do we have steaks? We have Trump steaks. He said the steak company, and we have Trump steaks. And by the way, if you want to take one, we’ll charge you about, what, 50 bucks a steak?” It was not only a blatant lie, but a lie that required no sophistication at all to see through. One did not need a grasp of economics or public policy to understand that Trump Steaks is a no-longer-extant product. There are no advertisements for these steaks. They are not available for purchase anywhere. They do not exist. Trump simply had his staff purchase a bunch of steaks at a supermarket and display them on a table, and call them “Trump Steaks.” But — and here is the most incredible detail of all, the one that reveals just how blunt the Trump con is — his campaign did not even bother to completely remove the wrappers from the steaks they purchased. The steaks still had the labels from the local butcher from which they were purchased.

Most of America, including a significant minority of Republicans, have seen Trump’s candidacy exactly for the con it is. Trump for President is a category error. He is, as his rivals have described him, a charlatan, a con artist, a congenital liar, a man self-evidently unfit for office at any level, and especially the presidency. As George Will has argued, his unfitness is so manifest that it applies to anybody who considers him suitable for the office; a person is “unqualified for high office because he or she will think Trump is qualified.”

Even after those of us who initially dismissed Trump’s appeal came to terms with it, it seemed as though the anti-Trump wing of the party would at least put up a strong fight. It was only a few weeks ago that projections had Trump falling well short of the 1,237 delegates he would need to win a first-ballot vote. (In mid-April, Nate Silver, whose findings were typical, projected Trump finishing with around 1160.) Trump’s lead in California, the largest remaining source of delegates, was tenuous. Some semblance of order seemed likely to prevail. Even if that order took the form of the extremist Ted Cruz wrenching the nomination in some kind of chaotic scene, the Republican Party would still have wound up fulfilling the basic threshold duty of a functioning party: ensuring its presidential nomination had remained in the hands of a reasonably well-informed and indisputably sane person — not a giant, not a Lincoln, but at least one of the 10 or 20 million most qualified people in America, or at minimum, a certifiable non-sociopath.

But actual Republican voters have not seen things this way at all. Indeed, as the campaign has gone on, they have seen things this way less and less. Watching this happen has been astonishing. The GOP’s efforts to impose normalcy, or some facsimile thereof, have not only failed but backfired. Cruz and John Kasich finally split up the remaining territory in an attempt to jointly deny Trump a majority. Cruz also announced a joint ticket with Carly Fiorina, an effective performer who had avoided any attacks on fellow Republicans in the course of auditioning for a spot on the ticket. This was supposed to cast a vision of a broad-based, anybody-but-Trump ticket behind which a wide array of non-Trump Republicans could rally. The opposite occurred. In a recent recent poll, a mere 8 percent of Republican voters described themselves as “enthusiastic” about the ticket, and another 20 percent “comfortable”; a staggering 70 percent said it made them “uncomfortable” or “angry.” Republicans across the country have watched Cruz take the fight to Trump, and concluded that they really disliked … Cruz. The Texas senator has seen his favorable ratings plummet, while Trump’s have spiked upward:

Indiana seems to have proved that stopping Trump has the effect of making him stronger. Go along with Trump, and he wins; fight Trump, and he wins by even more. The only thing they can do now is further cripple their already historically weak nominee.

Meanwhile the premise of the anti-Trump campaign — that his personality and moral character fundamentally make him unfit the the presidency — has crumbled. It is not that Trump had disproved these criticisms. Far from it. Rather, more and more Republicans could not bring themselves to make this case. Indiana governor Mike Pence, whom conservatives hoped would rally conservatives in his state in the same way Scott Walker had in Wisconsin, instead served up an endorsement so tepid it may have done more harm than good. (“I’m not against anybody, but I will be voting for Ted Cruz in the upcoming Republican primary. I urge everyone to make up their own mind.”)

The Wall Street Journal editorial page disavowed a third-party right-wing candidacy, which conservatives had hoped to use as a fallback to rally the base. Even Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, who had thrown himself into the anti-Trump cause with his customary Churchillian fervor— finally a case where his favorite historical analogy did not seem hysterically overwrought! — has begun edging away from the front lines. Asked about his professions to never support Trump, Kristol equivocated, “I mean, I guess never say never. On the one hand, I’ll say #NeverTrump, and on the other hand, I’ll say never say never.” Of course, the whole point of “Never Trump” is that you actually do have to say “never.”

Virtually the entire Republican apparatus will follow Trump sooner or later, because without the voters, they have no power. And those voters have revealed things about the nature of the party that many Republicans prefer to deny. Whatever abstract arguments for conservative policy — and these arguments exist, and a great many people subscribe to them earnestly — on the ground, Republican politics boils down to ethno-nationalistic passions ungoverned by reason. Once a figure has been accepted as a friendly member of their tribe, there is no level of absurdity to which he can stoop that would discredit him. And since reason cannot penetrate the crude tribalism that animates Republicans, it follows that nothing President Obama could have proposed on economic stimulus, health care, or deficits could have avoided the paroxysms of rage that faced him.

The paranoid mendacity of Joe McCarthy, the racial pandering of Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and George Bush, the jingoism and anti-intellectualism of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Sarah Palin — all these forces have embodied the essence of American conservative politics as it is actually practiced (rather than as conservative intellectuals like to imagine it). Trump has finally turned that which was always there against itself.

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“Slickest Con Man Out Of NYC”: Donald Trump Set To Be GOP Nominee Despite Links To Organized Crime

Democracy Now! (5/4/16)

As Donald Trump virtually clinches the Republican presidential nomination after Senator Ted Cruz suspends his campaign following a devastating defeat in the Indiana primary, we are joined by Tom Robbins, investigative journalist in residence at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, who has reported on Trump’s history of close relationships with organized crime figures in the United States. We examine some of the characters and connections Robbins helped expose as a reporter who covered politics, labor and organized crime for the Daily News and The Village Voice from 1985 to 2011. His recent article for The Marshall Project is “Trump and the Mob.” Robbins also critiques the media’s coverage of Trump on the campaign trail.

Link to Story and 22-Minute Video

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Koch Brothers Turn Their Big Money Attack Machine On Feingold

By Mark Sumner
Daily Kos (5/3/16)

The Koch brothers may not be that enthusiastic about any of the Republican presidential candidates this cycle, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to let their billions sit idle. When they’re not busy stopping public libraries in poor communities they still have time to go after their most-hated candidates. Like Russ Feingold.

A group backed by the Koch brothers is spending $2 million on ads featuring a Department of Veterans Affairs whistleblower criticizing former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold over a scandal at the department’s Tomah clinic.

According to the ad, over-prescription of painkillers at the clinic back in 2009 led to three deaths. A memo was circulated warning about the problem, but Feingold ignored the memo “while veterans were dying.”

However, back in the non-Koch-sponsored real world, Feingold never got the memo. Because he was never sent the memo. That’s not just Feingold talking, the author of the memo agrees. The ad also fails to mention that the same group has made thesame accusation against Republican Ron Johnson, the guy Feingold is running against to regain his old Senate seat.

Oh, and if the real motivations behind the ad weren’t clear, here’s the guy making the accusations against Feingold.

Honl said members of Congress should take bold action by allowing veterans to access use their health care benefits at private hospitals. He said they should also abolish unions for federal workers.

So, destroy federal unions and privatize the VA. That’s 100 percent uncut Koch.

Send $3 to help put Russ back in the Senate where he can stop the Koch agenda.

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Know Where You Stand: Decades Ago, The Ever-Prescient Daniel Berrigan Lamented That The Dream Of Israel Had Become A Nightmare

By Abby Zime
Common Dreams (5/2/16)

In so many ways we mourn the indomitable poet, priest and activist Daniel Berrigan, who died at age 94 on the 41st anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War he decried and defied for years, starting with his famous 1968 burning – with homemade napalm – of Catonsville draft files with his brother Philip and other pacifists. “Our apologies, good friends,” he wrote in his play The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, “for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise.” Father Berrigan got three years in federal prison for the action; when the appeals ran out, he refused to show up, spent four years opposing the war from underground, and went on to assemble an impressive rap sheet of  arrests and convictions for protesting war, weaponry, nuclear power and the world’s other unholy ills. Thus did Kurt Vonnegut crown him, “Jesus as a poet.”

Known for his fearless insights, Berrigan’s mantra was to, “Know where you stand, and stand there.” He remained true to it in a much-criticized 1973 speech to the Association of Arab University Graduates, where he denounced an Israel that had become “a criminal Jewish community” and, alongside a South Africa under apartheid and a U.S. embroiled in Vietnam, “a settler state (seeking) a Biblical justification for crimes against humanity.” He

lamented the tragedy of Jews who after enduring the Holocaust “arose like warriors, armed to the teeth, (who) entered the imperial adventure and spread abroad the imperial deceptions,” going from slaves to masters who created slaves of “the people it has crushed”- Palestinians. Finally, he cites the “savage triumph” of a “model (that) is not the kingdom of peace; it is an Orwellian transplant, taken bodily from Big Brother’s bloody heart.” After the speech raised a furor, he defended it as “an act of outraged love.” At his passing, Berrigan’s family quotes his belief that, “Peacemaking is tough, unfinished, blood-ridden. We walk our hope and that’s the only way of keeping it going.” Today, they add, no one person can pick up his burden, but there is enough work for us all: “His spirit is free, it is alive in the world, and it is waiting for you.”

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  • Journalist Jeremy Scahill Remembers His Longtime Friend, Father Daniel Berrigan: “The Man was a Moral Giant” — “I may not be here if it wasn’t for Dan Berrigan,” says journalist Jeremy Scahill as we remember the legendary antiwar priest, Father Daniel Berrigan, who spent his lifetime nonviolently protesting militarism, nuclear proliferation, racism and poverty. Berrigan died Saturday in the Bronx, just short of his 95th birthday. Scahill was a college student when he first met Berrigan, and went on to become close friends with him and his brother, Philip. The conversations they had inspired him to pursue fiercely independent journalism. “This man was just a moral giant,” Scahill says, “the closest thing we have in our society to a prophet.” Link to Story and 16-Minute Video
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“This Isn’t a War on Leaks, It’s A War on Whistleblowers”: Snowden Pens Foreword To Jeremy Scahill’s New Book “The Assassination Complex”


Democracy Now! (5/3/16)

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden wrote the foreword for the new book by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, “The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program,” which is based on leaked government documents provided by a whistleblower. Snowden writes, “These disclosures about the Obama administration’s killing program reveal that there’s a part of the American character that is deeply concerned with the unrestrained, unchecked exercise of power. And there is no greater or clearer manifestation of unchecked power than assuming for oneself the authority to execute an individual outside of a battlefield context and without the involvement of any sort of judicial process.” We speak with Scahill, who says the Obama administration has targeted Snowden for being a whistleblower, while allowing others to leak information that benefits it. Link to Story and 10-Minute Video

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Don’t Look Now: Who Is More Electable?

By Scott Galindez
Reader Supported News (5/4/16)

Don’t look now, but in the latest hypothetical general election poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports, Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton.

According to the survey, which was conducted from April 27 to 28 among 1,000 likely voters:

Trump now has the support of 73% of Republicans, while 77% of Democrats back Clinton. But Trump picks up 15% of Democrats, while just eight percent (8%) of GOP voters prefer Clinton, given this matchup.

Among voters not affiliated with either major party, Trump leads 37% to 31%, but 23% like another candidate. Nine percent (9%) are undecided.

Hmmm, I do not think 32% are lining up to vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. So these are voters who at this point are not supporting anyone likely to be on the ballot in November.

Give the voters the option of staying home and the same poll has the race tied.

Rasmussen Reports did not poll a hypothetical Sanders versus Trump matchup. Other polls all show Sanders beating Trump by more than 10 points. Those same polls have the race closer between Clinton and Trump.

Talk about a race to the bottom, the two most unpopular candidates in either party will likely be the nominees of the two major political parties.

Now let’s look at some other indicators of electability.

Favorability: (Huffington Post average)

Sanders: 52%
Clinton: 47%
Trump: 35%

Unfavorability: (Huffington Post average)

Trump: 61%
Clinton: 55%
Sanders: 40%

Honesty: ( poll)

Sanders: 47%
Trump: 29%
Clinton: 27%

Dishonesty: ( poll)

Clinton: 56%
Trump: 52%
Sanders: 24%

When asked by Peter Hart and Associates in an April poll, all voters chose Sanders as the candidate they could support at higher levels than any other candidate.

Here is the exact question, Q13: “I’m going to mention a number of people running for president in 2016. For each one, please tell me, yes or no, whether you could see yourself supporting that person for president in 2016. If you don’t know the name, please just say so.”

Sanders: 49% yes 48% no
Clinton: 41% yes 58% no
Trump: 31% yes 68% no

If these numbers are true, why isn’t Sanders winning? The answer is simple: These numbers are among all voters, many of whom are shut out of the nominating process. Hillary Clinton’s numbers are better if you only ask Democrats. Donald Trump does better among Republicans.

I hear you: these are the party primaries not the general election. I would say you were right if there were a level playing field for all political parties. We have a two party system, and it is becoming clear that the two parties do not represent the views of the whole country.

According to the Pew Research Center, based on 2014 data 39% of Americans identify as Independents, 32% as Democrats, and 23% as Republicans. This is the highest percentage of Independents in more than 75 years of public opinion polling.

As we are seeing in the open primaries, Bernie Sanders beats Hillary Clinton with Independents in state after state. The strongest candidate for President in November is Bernie Sanders. If all voters had a chance to weigh in during the nominating process we would likely see a race between Trump and Sanders. If we had a multi-party system Sanders, would have a chance to win as an Independent or as a candidate of another party.

The reality is that the system is rigged in favor of the two major political parties, and we will probably be stuck choosing between the two most unpopular candidates for President. It is time for a democracy movement in America. We don’t have a real democracy now.


(Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.)

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Defiance: Woman Who Defied 300 Neo-Nazis At Swedish Rally Speaks Of Anger

A lone woman stands with raised fist opposite the uniformed demonstrators in Sunday’s Nazi demonstration in Borlange, Sweden.

Tess Asplund stands with raised fist opposite protesters from the Nordic Resistance Movement in Borlänge. (Photograph: David Lagerlöf/Expo/TT News Agency/Press Association Images)

By David Crouch
The Guardian (5/4/16)

The lone protest of a woman defying a march of 300 uniformed neo-Nazis is set to become an iconic image of resistance to the rise of the far-right in Scandinavia.

A photograph of Tess Asplund, 42, with fist raised against the shaven-headed leadership of the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) in Borlänge, centralSweden, on Sunday has gone viral in the country.

“It was an impulse. I was so angry, I just went out into the street,” Asplund told the Guardian. “I was thinking: hell no, they can’t march here! I had this adrenaline. No Nazi is going to march here, it’s not okay.”

After joining a large counter-demonstration she took the train back to Stockholm and did not think about what happened until Monday evening, when the photograph spread on social media.

“Now it’s a circus. I am in shock,” said Asplund, who is 5ft 3in and weighs just 50kg (eight stone). “The Nazis are very angry, so I am a little ‘Oh shit, maybe I shouldn’t have done that, I want peace and quiet.’ These guys are big and crazy. It’s a mixed feeling, but I am trying to stay calm.”

Asplund’s lone protest comes at a time when the far-right in Sweden is increasing its activities, according to Daniel Poohl of Expo, the anti-racist foundation in Stockholm, whose photographer David Lagerlöf captured the image.

The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party polls between 15% and 20% and holds the balance of power in parliament, while racist sentiments are fuelled by a fragmented landscape of internet hate sites. The avowedly antisemitic National Socialists of the NRM are the extreme wing of this spectrum, Poohl says.

“We live in a Europe where far-right ideas are becoming more popular, and there is also a reaction against them. It is a time when people are longing for something to channel their urge to resist the Europe that builds borders against refugees, the Europe that cannot cooperate any more. Tess has captured one of the conflicts of our time,” he said.

Swedish media have compared the photograph to a famous image from 1985 known as tanten med väskan, “the lady with the bag”. The image, taken by Hans Runesson, shows a woman hitting a skinhead from the Nordic Reich party with her bag.

The picture of Asplund is in many senses more powerful in the Swedish context today, Poohl says. “We now live in a multicultural society, so it makes sense that it was a black woman.”

Swedish civil society is working hard to settle tens of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Asia who sought asylum in the country last year, but there has been a spate of arson attacks on refugee accommodation, and the government has toughened up its asylum policies.

The NRM is known for targeting anti-racists, says Asplund. “I have friends who have been attacked by them and who have had to change their address. I have had calls at night from private numbers, screaming at me. It is hard to talk about the hate,” she says.

“I feel ashamed that we have this problem. The police say it is a democratic country, so they can demonstrate. But these are Nazis! It is horrible.”

Asplund, who describes herself as Afro-Swedish, is unemployed, and active in the group Afrophobia Focus. Sweden was identified by the UN last year as having a particular problem with afrophobia, defined as hostility towards people with a background from sub-Saharan Africa.

“Racism has been normalised in Sweden, it’s become okay to say the N-word,” she says, recounting how a man on the subway used the racial slur while shouting and telling her to hurry up. “But nobody paid any attention. I thought Sweden in 2016 would be more open minded, but something has happened,” Asplund says.

“I hope something positive will come out of the picture. Maybe what I did can be a symbol that we can do something – if one person can do it, anyone can.”

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Why Millennials Love Bernie Sanders



By Cenk Uygur
Huffington Post (5/4/16)

Why do millennials like Bernie Sanders so much? I love that this is a mystery to Washington. It’s the authenticity, stupid. You can’t fake a 40 year record. This is a generation that grew up in a time when entertainment and media is based on authenticity and not the fakeness of television. Like Diogenes, when millennials went on their pursuit to find the one honest man in politics, it was obvious that man was Bernie Sanders.

The older generation grew up on blow-dried anchors, plastic politicians, and an ocean of pretense. Realness seems unvarnished and unpolished to them. Bernie Sanders is a man not of his time, but of this time. He was authentic and uncombed before any YouTube star thought to make that concept cool.

Millennials are also a massively progressive generation. Frank Luntz, the top conservative pollster, says this generation is so liberal it should frighten political leaders. Sanders is as progressive as they are, but not because he crafted a slick political message to appeal to the younger generation. It’s because he is a true progressive who believed in these principles even when they were horribly out of fashion. He fought for them not out of expediency but out of conviction. That’s the thing about authenticity — you can’t fake it.

Are we seriously asking why young people don’t like the contrived politicians who are awash in donor money, privilege, and connections? That’s obvious. What’s not obvious is how older generations got so used to that pulp. They got used to news actors reading carefully-produced, establishment-engineered scripts. They got used to the unctuous career politicians that design their message to the voters while they vote with the donors. Running to the left or right during the primaries and then to the center during the general election isn’t savvy, it’s phony.

The problem in our politics today isn’t the younger generation. The problem is what the older generations have grown accustomed to and now meekly accept as fact. The younger voters are right — you can and you should expect better from your representatives.

Millennials grew up on the Internet. Older generations look at the downside of being an Internet native and carp about how kids are obsessed with their smart phones. But what about the upside? Those phones can access infinite information — more than all of the libraries of mankind put together. Yes, a lot of the younger generation check Tinder on their phones, but a lot of them also check the facts. With all of this information literally in their pocket, they’re better equipped to gauge the accuracy of political claims — much more so than older generations who get their news filtered through broad, corporate television broadcasts.

Millennials are much more informed than they get credit for and many are more politically knowledgeable than older generations. A lot of millennials know that many countries have a single payer healthcare system and understand how realistic it is in most of the developed world. Many know how serious climate change is and the need for immediate change in energy and pollution policy. They understand that incrementalism isn’t pragmatism, it’s running out the clock on a problem that only gets worse over time.

Time for older folks to check their biases

Why do so many thousands of young people show up at Bernie rallies? Do you really think it’s because they’re looking for a good time or for a date? I can assure you that there are far more efficient ways to do that than to attend political rallies. The older generations should stop for a second and examine their own biases. Isn’t it possible — and wonderful — that the younger generation cares so much about policy that they are going to attend the rallies of the one politician they believe in?

For those of us who care deeply about policy and authenticity, it’s hard to get excited by studied politicians who craft messages based on polling and who drift in the winds of time. Instead of mocking millennials for their adoration of Bernie Sanders, older generations should stop and reconsider their support for an establishment that has worked against their interests for so many years. It’s not realistic as much as it is sad that a whole generation has accepted income inequality, political corruption and the reign of the donor class as immutable facts. Instead of frowning upon your kids who are fighting back against that, perhaps you should join them.

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter:

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Artist Who Drew Donald Trump With Small Penis Claims She Was Assaulted By Trump Fan

A man hopped out of his car, punched her and yelled, “Trump 2016!”

By David Moye
Huffington Post (5/3/16)

A Los Angeles-based artist claims she was punched in the face over the weekend because her drawing of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump shows him with a small penis.

Illma Gore, whose pastel “Make American Great Again“ has been widely shared on social media, said a man attacked her Saturday near her LA home. The man drove up, got out of his black Honda Civic, hit her and yelled, “Trump 2016!” she wrote in an Instagram post with a photo showing her with a black eye. She said she wasn’t seriously hurt.

Gore reported the assault to police, and shared the police reportwith the New York Daily News. LA police couldn’t immediately comment on the investigation. Gore asked anyone with information about the attack to contact authorities.

Gore’s nude portrait of Trump shows him with the wrinkles and folds befitting a 69-year-old man — and a very small male sex organ. She said she debuted the drawing in February, before Trump defended his penis size at the March 3 Republican debate.

Gore, 24, insists the portrait wasn’t necessarily calling out Trump on the size of his genitalia.

The work “was created to evoke a reaction from its audience, good or bad, about the significance we place on our physical selves,” Gore wrote on her website. “One should not feel emasculated by their penis size or vagina, as it does not define who you are. Your genitals do not define your gender, your power, or your status.

“Simply put, you can be a massive prick, despite what is in your pants.”

HuffPost’s efforts to reach Gore have been unsuccessful.

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Ted Cruz’s Bitter End


It’s time for Cruz to rest in peevishness.

By Frank Bruni
The New York Times (5/3/16)

If you listened much to Ted Cruz over these last furious months, you heard him talk frequently about “the abyss,” as in what this country was teetering on the edge of. If you listened to him over these last furious hours, you heard him mention the “yawning cavern of insecurity” that motivates Donald Trump and other bullies.

Cruz should take up spelunking. He’s obviously fascinated by unfathomable depths, and with his loss in Indiana on Tuesday, his candidacy for the presidency is finished, giving him a whole lot of extra time. A new hobby is definitely in order.

As we bid Cruz adieu, we should give him his due: He took a mien and manner spectacularly ill suited to the art of seducing voters about as far as they could go. He outlasted the likes of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. He outperformed Rick Santorum in 2012 and Mike Huckabee in 2008.

Like him, Santorum and Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses and built from there, courting the religious right with particular fervor. But they lacked the intensity of Cruz’s professed disdain for Washington, which was his other big sales pitch, made at its moment of maximum potency. He peddled extravagant piety and extreme contempt in equal measure.

If that sounds paradoxical, it is, and the tension between contradictory Cruzes is what ultimately did him in.

He spoke out of both sides of his scowl, itching to be the voice of the common man but equally eager to demonstrate what a highfalutin, Harvard-trained intellect he possessed. He wed a populist message to a plummy vocabulary. And while the line separating smart and smart aleck isn’t all that thin or blurry, he never could stay on the winning side of it.

He wore cowboy boots, but his favorites are made of ostrich.

Two peacocks in a pod, he and Trump, and what ghastly plumage they showed on Tuesday.

Trump somehow saw fit to bring up a National Enquirer story linking Cruz’s father to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Cruz exploded, branding Trump a “pathological liar” and “serial philanderer.” He also brought up an interview from many years ago in which Trump told Howard Stern that his effort to steer clear of sexually transmitted diseases was his “personal Vietnam.”

A wager that failed

Where was this rant six months ago, when the Republican field was crowded and Cruz played footsie with Trump? Back then he was wagering that Trump would fade, and he wanted to be in a friendly position to inherit the billionaire’s supporters.

But by Tuesday, Trump was the main obstacle between Cruz and the Republican presidential nomination, and Cruz has just one true compass: his own advancement.

The nakedness of his vanity and transparency of his ambition were always his biggest problem. He routinely excoriated other politicians for self-centeredness while repeatedly hogging center stage, his remarks interminable — after his Iowa victory, for example, or when he presumptuously introduced Carly Fiorina as his running mate — and his pauses so theatrically drawn out that you could watch the entirety of “The Revenant” during some of them.

He trashed “the establishment” and wore its rejection of him as a badge of honor only until it stopped rejecting him and its help was his best hope to wrest the nomination away from Trump. At that point he did dizzy cartwheels over every prominent endorsement that came his way.

He took great pride in an adversarial relationship with the media, decreeing us irrelevant, until he went in hunt of a fresh excuse for losing to Trump and decided over the last few days that it was all our fault. We didn’t matter and then we did, depending on which estimation flattered him.

Calorie bombs and second chins

He purported to be more high-minded than his peers but pettily mocked Michelle Obama for urging schoolchildren to eat leafy greens. When Heidi Cruz is first lady, he pledged, “French fries are coming back to the cafeteria.” Heidi Cruz is not going to be first lady, so she’ll need some other platform for the promotion of calorie bombs and second chins.

And where in her husband was the humility that a Christian faith as frequently proclaimed as his should encompass? It wasn’t evident when he stormed into the Senate in early 2013, an upstart intent on upstaging the veterans.

There were flickers of it on Tuesday night, as he conceded defeat not just in Indiana but in the presidential contest, announcing that he was suspending his campaign “with a heavy heart.” He articulated gratitude to those Americans — no small number of them — who had buoyed him.

He went overboard in his praise of Fiorina, merely reminding us all of what an odd and oddly timed alliance theirs was. “An incredible, phenomenal running mate,” he called her, as if they’d been on some epic journey. It was less than a week long. How many phenomena could she accomplish in that time?

He left Trump out of his remarks. There were no congratulations. There was no indication of whether he’d publicly back Trump in the months to come. There was nothing to purge the memory of what he’d said earlier Tuesday, when he described Trump as “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country has ever seen.” Yes, we have, and so has he, every day, in the mirror.

That’s why he’ll undoubtedly be back to try for the presidency again. But this bid is moribund. It’s time for Cruz to rest in peevishness.

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Dept. Of Much Needed Humor — Senate Officially Mourns Return Of Ted Cruz

By Borowitz
The New Yorker (5/4/16)

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—The United States Senate declared an official day of mourning on Wednesday to mark the impending return of Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to the legislative body.

Ordering all flags at the U.S. Capitol to half-staff, the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, announced the day of mourning in a somber proclamation. “We mark this day with a deep personal sense of loss that will never completely heal,” he said.
To recognize Cruz’s return, which is expected to be imminent, McConnell said that the Senate would suspend all work for the day. “Ordinarily our members would welcome a day off,” he said. “But not for this.”

In a rare moment of consensus for this bitterly divided chamber, both Republicans and Democrats expressed their sorrow, but the news of Cruz’s return seemed to cut the deepest among Republicans, many of whom now regret their decision not to endorse the Texas senator for President.

“If that bastard had somehow been elected President, we would have only had to see him one day a year, at the State of the Union,” Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said. “I should have done everything in my power to make that happen. And now it’s too damn late.”

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Wednesday / May 4, 2016

Posted in 2016-05-04 | Tagged | Comments Off on Wednesday / May 4, 2016

Bernie Sanders Pulls Off Shock Victory In Indiana Democratic Primary

Bernie Sanders Indiana primary

Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowd of about 3,000 in Evansville, Indiana on Monday. (Photograph: Jason Clark/AP)

Despite trailing behind Hillary Clinton in polls, Sanders once again proved his appeal to disaffected midwest voters by pulling off his 18th victory of 2016.

By Dan Roberts in Washington & Ben Jacobs in Indianapolis
The Guardian (5/3/16)

Bernie Sanders threw a last-minute hurdle in front of Hillary Clinton’s march toward the Democratic party nomination on Tuesday by clinching a surprise victory in the Indiana primary.

Despite trailing by an average of seven points in opinion polls and losing a string of bigger, more diverse states on the east coast, Sanders once again proved his appeal to disaffected midwest voters by pulling off his 18th victory of 2016, according to Associated Press projections.

Sanders seemed on track to win a narrow majority of the 83 delegates on offer. With over 80% reporting, Sanders had 52.9% of the vote to Clinton’s 47.1%.

Sanders said: “I understand that Secretary Clinton campaign thinks that this campaign is over. I’ve got some bad news for her.”

His success in Indiana was overshadowed by Ted Cruz’s decision to drop out of the Republican race, leaving the path to victory clear for Donald Trump.

The Sanders campaign hopes that Indiana will mark one last turning point in a Democratic race characterised by a series of surprise comebacks that have prolonged Clinton’s otherwise relentless path toward the nomination.

He is well placed to pull off similar wins in West Virginia on 10 May and Oregon on 17 May, before a final showdown next month in California, whose 546 delegates present the biggest prize of the contest.

But even though Sanders has pledged to keep competing until the party convention in Philadelphia this July, he has acknowledged that catching up with Clinton is an “uphill struggle”.

Before Indiana, the former secretary of state was nearly 300 pledged delegates ahead of her Vermont rival and within 200 delegates of crossing the finish line including the controversial superdelegates – party figures who are able to vote independently of election results and overwhelmingly back Clinton.

Nonetheless, the Sanders team will view the Indiana result as an important vindication of their decision to keep pressuring superdelegates to change their minds.

“We always thought Indiana was a state that would absolutely be willing to listen to this message,” Pete D’Alessandro, a top Sanders operative who is overseeing his efforts in Indiana, told the Guardian in advance of the result. “Because Nafta and these terrible trade agreements have just devastated the state over the past generation.” Crediting a long active volunteer effort, he expressed confidence that Sanders would do well.

After trailing behind Clinton when votes first started to be announced in Indiana, Sanders was speaking to a rally in neighbouring Kentucky at the moment he first took the lead.

“A lot has happened over the course of the last year,” he told cheering supporters at the rally in Louisville.

“When we started this campaign, we were 60 points behind Secretary Clinton; some of the [national] polls now even have us ahead.”

Whatever happens at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in July, Sanders is increasingly focusing on how far he has come rather than how far he still has to go and the unlikely prospect he catches up in the nomination race.

“In primary after primary, caucus after caucus, we end up winning the votes of people 45 years or younger,” said Sanders in Kentucky, which votes on 17 May.

“That is important because it tells me that the ideas we are fighting for are the ideas that are the future of America and the future of the Democratic party.”

Sanders also does well in states like Indiana that have open primaries, something he says shows his ability to win over independent voters who might be more tempted to vote for Trump.

“The issue of wealth and income equality is the great moral issue of our time, the great economic issue of our time and the great political issue of our time and together we will address that issue,” he added.

Nonetheless, Clinton advisers have been downplaying expectations for some of the remaining states in recent days and do not believe the small number of net delegates that Sanders can pick up will make any difference at all to the eventual result.

On Tuesday night she ignored her Democratic opponent in favour of an attack on the man she called “the presumptive Republican nominee”.

“Chip in now if you agree we can’t let him become president,” she urged her supporters.

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BUSTED: Pro-Clinton Super PAC Caught Spending $1 Million To Attack Bernie Supporters With Paid Professional Social Media Trolls

Scan 21

Professional Trolls For Hillary

(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2016. Open source and free to use with link to )


The paid online trolls are professional communicators, coming from public relations and media backgrounds.

(Editor’s Note: The Clinton campaign is making it easier and easier for Bernie supporters to not support Hillary if she does become the nominee. — Mark L. Taylor)

By Tom Cahill
U.S.Uncut (4/21/16)

A Super PAC headed by a longtime Clinton operative is spending $1 million to hire online trolls to “correct” Bernie Sanders’ supporters on social media.

Correct The Record (CTR), which is operated by Clinton attack dog and new owner of Blue Nation Review David Brock, launched a new initiative this week called “Barrier Breakers 2016” for the purpose of debating supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders — or “Bernie Bros,” as they’re referred to in Correct the Record’s press official release — on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and other social media platforms.

Paid astroturf support

The “Barrier Breakers” will also publicly thank Hillary Clinton’s superdelegates and fans for supporting her campaign. The paid trolls are professional communicators, coming from public relations and media backgrounds.

“The task force staff’s backgrounds are as diverse as the community they will be engaging with and include former reporters, bloggers, public affairs specialists, designers, Ready for Hillary alumni, and Hillary super fans who have led groups similar to those with which the task force will organize,” CTR stated.

In a Reddit comments thread about CTR’s new project, Reddit user and Sanders supporter /u/workythehand, gave other commenters advice on how to identify and engage with one of David Brock’s paid commenters:

The best tactic to use against “professionals” is to simply downvote and move on. The more you argue with them, the more likely people will read the astroturfer’s posts.

Keep your eyes out for very young accounts, repetition of phrasing and syntax (the same “Sanders onlydiagnoses the problem…” talking points, for instance) in every post, and rapid fire posting – 10+ comments in the span of a few minutes is a good indicator.

Clinton campaign pushing through finance loop holes

Libby Watson of the Sunlight Foundation told the Daily Beast on Thursday that FEC loopholes allow the Hillary Clinton campaign and David Brock’s Super PAC to coordinate with one another, despite the Citizens United vs. FEC Supreme Court decision prohibiting a Super PAC’s independent expenditures from going directly toward a particular candidate.

“It’s not totally clear what [CTR’s] reasoning is, but it seems to be that material posted on the internet for free—like, blogs—doesn’t count as an ‘independent expenditure,’” Watson said. She continued by addressing the unprecedented nature of the project.

Going after people

She concluded with a damning assessment: “Campaign finance lawyers are not that impressed with [CTR’s] logic, but they can get away with it because the [Federal Election Commission] is deadlocked and does nothing.”

Watson also made note of the unprecedented and bizarre nature of the program, saying, “Usually places like MMFA and CTR are defending her against the media and established figures. This seems to be going after essentially random individuals online,” she said. “I don’t know that they’ve done anything like this before.”

CTR boasts on its website that it’s already “corrected” at least 5,000 Sanders supporters on Twitter.

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