Posts Tagged ‘Conservative Shenanigans’

Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post reports on the last gasps of the Trump campaign in North Carolina.

FLETCHER, N.C. — As he took the stage here in this mountain town Friday afternoon, Donald Trump was as subdued as the modest crowd that turned out to see him. He complained about the usual things — the dishonest media, his “corrupt” rival Hillary Clinton — but his voice was hoarse and his heart didn’t seem in it.

He also promised to do all that he could to win, but he explained why he might lose.

“What a waste of time if we don’t pull this off,” Trump said. “You know, these guys have said: ‘It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. There’s never been a movement like this in the history of this country.’ I say, it matters to me if we win or lose. So I’ll have over $100 million of my own money in this campaign.”

“So, if I lose,” Trump continued as the crowd remained unusually quiet, “if I lose, I will consider this —”

Trump didn’t finish his sentence, but he didn’t really need to. After weeks of controversy and declining poll numbers, Trump and his campaign have settled into a dark funk. Even as he vows to prevail in the race, the GOP nominee’s mood has soured with less than three weeks to go until Election Day.

His final debate performance this week was a bust, with him snarling that Clinton was “such a nasty woman” and gritting his teeth as he angrily ripped pages off a notepad when it was over. He is under fire from all quarters for refusing to say he will honor the election results if he loses, while 10 women have now come forward accusing him of groping or kissing them without consent. The capper to Trump’s bad stretch came Thursday night, when a ballroom full of New York City’s glitterati booed him as he gave remarks attacking Clinton at a charity roast.

The gloomy mood has extended to his signature rallies, which Trump used to find fun. During the primaries, he would bound onto rally stages bursting with energy and a sense of excitement that intensified as the crowds chanted his name and cheered his every word. He would regularly schedule news conferences, call into news shows and chat with reporters, eager to spar with them. He would say politically incorrect things and then watch his polling numbers soar. He used to be the winner.

But no more. In recent days, Trump has tried to explain away his slide in the polls as a conspiracy carried out by the media, Democrats and Republicans. If he loses, it will be because he was cheated, Trump has repeatedly told his supporters, urging them to go to polling places in neighborhoods other than their own and “watch.”

Of course, it must all be lies, given that Johnson works for the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, North Carolinians are so anxious to vote that they are waiting hours in lines in order to vote early. Of course, North Carolina’s Republican-controlled government has done its best to curtail early voting. You wouldn’t want people to vote, you know! Well, you wouldn’t if you’re a Republican. That’s conservatism for ya! I don’t know about you, but I’ve never spent more than five or ten minutes waiting to vote.

By the way, I took a gander at B4V. Where’s Rusty? Has he tapped out already? No shame in that, I guess.

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From a Trump supporter at a Ted Cruz rally in Houston:

“Nationalism is the new thing, man,” said Jordan Voor, 30, a Trump supporter who works nearby and wore a longhorn belt buckle the size of a miniature football.

“I just kind of want to watch the establishment burn,” Mr. Voor added. “What’s the point of being conservative anymore? It’s a failing ideology.”

Kinda sums it up in a nutshell.

Yup. He won second place in the Nevada caucus last night. Which is like winning first place in Rubio-land. He said on the TV this morning that he feels “good about our second-place finish.” Congratulations!

Meanwhile, in the real world, Trump won again. The inevitability of his nomination is beginning to seem, well, inevitable. But a glimmer of hope for sane Americans can be found in the 1992 presidential campaign, where Bill Clinton lost the first four primaries, and nine of the first ten. Bob Dole lost four out of the first five on the Republican side in 1996. So I guess Rubio isn’t out of this thing entirely.

How about Ted Cruz? Hard to see a path for him.

John Kasich today: “Of course I’m staying in. Why would I drop out when I’ve got the best chance to be the nominee outside of Trump?” Memo to John: You’re gonna need to win at some point. Or at least come in second so that you can claim you won.

And we can’t forget Ben Carson, another card carrying member of the deep bench. Apparently he’s finally come to the realization that his campaign is nothing but a scam. “We had people who didn’t really seem to understand finances,” a laughing Carson told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on “CNN Newsroom,” adding, “or maybe they did—maybe they were doing it on purpose.”

And lastly: Whomever is the Democratic nominee had better not take Trump lightly, assuming he is the Republican nominee. Paul Waldman outlines Trump’s potential strengths in the general election.

I notice that our dear friend Amazona asks, “Just curious—does anyone know what impact losing state funding has had on Planned Parenthood activity in Texas?” Well, since you asked…

Before answering her question, we should probably clear up one thing. She seems to be under the impression that Texas defunded Planned Parenthood clinics only since October 2015. Ergo, the span of four months is not long enough to demonstrate any effect on pregancies since it takes longer than that to make a human baby. Of course, she’s wrong again. Not about gestation, but about when Planned Parenthood clinics began to lose funding in Texas.

The fact is, Since Texas slashed funding to Planned Parenthood in 2011, more than half the state’s abortion clinics have shuttered — and data show births among poor women have surged.

You see, Amazona? It was 2011, not October 2015. And some folks have actually studied the situation, as opposed to making up suppositions off the top of their heads to support their ideology. You should try it sometime.

Since Texas slashed funding to Planned Parenthood in 2011, more than half the state’s abortion clinics have shuttered — and data show births among poor women have surged.

Researchers looked at fertility trends among women who qualified for birth control through the state’s public family planning programs in the two years before and after Texas lawmakers booted Planned Parenthood from its payroll. Each woman lived in a county that lost a Planned Parenthood clinic and had, at some point, received an injectable contraceptive from an affiliate before it closed.

The group’s birth rate shot up.

Between 2011 and 2014, the number of these births, covered by Medicaid, climbed 27 percent, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine. (Medicaid coverage for healthy pregnancies — prenatal care, labor and delivery — typically costs at least $8,000 per baby.)

The birth increase coincided with a 36-percent drop in claims for long-acting contraceptives, including implants and intrauterine devices — meaning significantly fewer women started using what gynecologists consider the most effective form of birth control. Claims for injectable contraceptives fell 31 percent. No significant change emerged in women obtaining birth control pills and contraceptive rings.

Joseph Potter, an economist at the University of Texas at Austin who co-authored the study, said there’s no way to prove the Planned Parenthood closures sparked a baby boom.

Perhaps more women simply decided, at higher-than-previous rates, to have babies. Or perhaps they couldn’t find or fund another contraceptive shot, which need to be taken every three months to stay effective. Perhaps they simply lost access to reliable birth control, in general.

“You’ve got a very strong signal that there was an impact of [the Texas exclusion of Planned Parenthood],” Potter said. “The thing about this study, it more or less contradicts the claim you can’t implement that policy at no cost, without hurting people.”

The study, which comes as the national debate over abortion rages on and Planned Parenthood stays firmly in the spotlight, received funding from the Susan T. Buffett Foundation, a Planned Parenthood supporter. Potter said the foundation wasn’t involved in the research and did not ask to see the study.

In 2011, Texas became the first state to block funding to Planned Parenthood, cutting its family-planning funds by 66 percent and redirecting the rest to general health-care providers. After excluding Planned Parenthood, a qualified provider under federal law, the state lost all federal funding for its women’s health program. The new, entirely state-run Texas Women’s Health Program bars funds from clinics that offer abortions.

In 2013, former Gov. Rick Perry pushed harder to quash abortion access in Texas, signing a law requiring all providers to meet ambulatory surgical center standards and physicians to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The move delivered another financial blow to women’s health clinics across the state, forcing many to close their doors. From 2012 to 2014, the number of abortion providers in Texas shrank from 42 to 18.

“To be clear, my goal, and the goal of many of those joining me here today, is to make abortion, at any stage, a thing of the past,” Perry said of the policy.

Proponents of the regulations under House Bill 2 say they wanted to protect women’s health. Abortion rights supporters, however, say the mandates are unnecessary, expensive and an “undue burden” on women’s rights. Some Texas women now have to drive 250 miles to get the procedure.

The Supreme Court is slated to review the law this year, with a hearing scheduled for March.

The trend Texas started carries national implications, Potter said. Alabama, Arkansas, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Louisiana and Utah have also taken steps to block public money from Planned Parenthood clinics. Ohio is now considering similar action.

The Congressional Budget Office said in a report last year that cutting off Planned Parenthood from federal money would increase public spending by an estimated $130 million over 10 years. The clinics serve more than 40 percent of women who receive birth control from safety-net providers in 18 states, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit reproductive health advocacy organization, and more than half of such women in 11 states.

The CBO, a nonpartisan watchdog, asserted that defunding Planned Parenthood, which counts roughly 2.6 million women as clients, would lead to more unplanned births as patients lost access to birth control.

Though Republicans in Texas and across the country have long spoken out against Planned Parenthood, their efforts to defund the organization found new energy last year after anti-abortion activists released video of Planned Parenthood employees discussing the cost of donating fetal tissue.

David Daleiden, the filmmaker behind the videos, claimed the organization was selling fetal tissue for profit – a charge the organization has denied.

Eleven states opened investigations into Planned Parenthood. None found evidence of wrongdoing – and last week, in a surprise move, a Texas grand jury indicted Daleiden on felony charges related to creating a fake ID and trying to buy human tissue. He turned himself over to authorities on Thursday.

After today’s rant, my guess is that the people of Iowa are not stupid enough to vote for The Donald. Ya gotta read this account from The Washington Post describing Trump’s speech in Fort Dodge, Iowa today. The man is truly delusional.

FORT DODGE, Iowa — For an hour and 35 minutes, Republican front-runner Donald Trump vented about everything that’s wrong with this country and this election.

He said he would “bomb the s—” out of areas controlled by the Islamic State that are rich with oil and claimed to know more about the terrorist group than U.S. military generals. He ranted about how everyone else is wrong on illegal immigration and how even the “geniuses at Harvard” have now backed his way of thinking. He accused Hillary Rodham Clinton of playing the “woman’s card,” and said Marco Rubio is “weak like a baby.” He signed a book for an audience member and then threw it off the stage. He forgot to take questions like he promised. And he spent more than 10 minutes angrily attacking his chief rival, Ben Carson, at one point calling him “pathological, damaged.”

Gone was the candidate’s recent bout of composure and control on the campaign trail. As Trump ranted on and on, campaign staffers with microphones who were supposed to take questions from the audience instead took a seat, trying to cheer their boss here and there. The audience laughed at times and clapped for many of Trump’s sharp insults. But an hour and 20 minutes into the speech, people who were standing on risers on the stage behind Trump sat down. The applause came less often and less loud. As Trump skewered Carson in deeply personal language, a sense of discomfort settled on the crowd of roughly 1,500. Several people shook their heads or whispered to their neighbors.

Carson wrote in his autobiography that as a young man he had a “pathological temper” that caused him to violently attack others — going after his mother with a hammer and trying to stab a friend, only to have the blade stopped and broken by the friend’s belt buckle. In recent days, those accounts have come under scrutiny, and Carson has had to clarify or correct some of the details.

Trump said he doesn’t believe Carson is telling the truth and questioned how a belt buckle could stop a blade. He stepped away from the podium and acted out how he imagined such an attack would happen, with his own belt buckle flopping around. He asked if anyone in the audience had a knife to try out his theory. His Secret Service agents, who just joined his detail this week, stood guard.

“Carson is an enigma to me,” Trump said. “He said that he’s ‘pathological’ and that he’s got, basically, pathological disease… I don’t want a person that’s got pathological disease.”

Trump repeatedly said he doesn’t believe there’s any cure for such a disease, and he said he doesn’t believe that Carson was truly changed by divine intervention, as he writes in his book.

“If you’re a child molester — a sick puppy — a child molester, there’s no cure for that,” Trump said. “If you’re a child molester, there’s no cure. They can’t stop you. Pathological? There’s no cure.”

And yet Carson is doing well in the polls, Trump said in disbelief.

“How stupid are the people of Iowa?” Trump said. “How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?”

Trump started the speech looking exhausted, his voice hoarse. This was his fourth state in four days. A sense of anger built as Trump listed off everything wrong with the country and everything wrong with his rivals. His voice got louder and stronger, his hands gripping the podium. He would be a unifier, he said, a winner. Then he wondered aloud if he should just move to Iowa and buy a farm.

“I’ve really enjoyed being with you,” Trump said as he drew to a sudden but long awaited end. “It’s sad in many ways because we’re talking about so many negative topics, but in certain ways it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful.”

And there’s this from Trump’s nine-minute(!) rant against Ben Carson:

But at the same time, Trump expressed disbelief at Carson’s 50-year-old stories, including that a friend’s belt buckle somehow stopped Carson’s camping knife from sinking in. Trump reenacted a young Carson in order to mock the stories, and at one point he walked away from the podium to show how ridiculous he felt the stabbing story was.

“Give me a break, the knife broke,” he said. “The belt moves this way. It moves this way! It moves that way! He hits a belt buckle! … Believe me, it ain’t gonna to work. … But he took the knife, he went like this! And he plunged it into the belt! And amazingly, the belt stayed totally flat and the knife broke.”

And Trump discounted how Carson could have had an epiphany had he truly been as violent as his book described.

“He goes into the bathroom for a couple hours, and comes out, and now he’s religious. And the people of Iowa believe him,” he said. “Give me a break. Give me a break. It doesn’t happen that way. It doesn’t happen that way.”

He added: “Some people might not like it: ‘Oh, that’s not really nice what you say.’ Don’t be fools. Don’t be fools, OK?”

Blogs For Victory’s Mark Edward Noonan never misses an opportunity to prove he isn’t a scientist, repeating the latest climate change denialism talking points. And this week he was true to form, dutifully repeating a canard that’s been making the rounds of conservative blogs and websites lately:

A bit of a Global Warming Climate Change update – turns out that Antarctic ice mass isn’t actually declining. There are 6.36 million cubic miles of ice in Antarctica; the average thickness of the sheet is 6,500 feet (that is well more than a mile, folks) – we’re going to have to warm up more than a degree or two by 2100 to make a real dent in that.

It’s almost as if Noonan trolls the Internet for his talking points…

Anyway, Noonan’s secondhand source is Watts Up With That, not exactly a paragon of science. And Mark Edward Noonan, being a twenty-first century conservative, uncritically accepts anything that denigrates science. After all, science is, in his mind, a grand leftist liberal conspiracy to steal money from those who earned it.

Not surprisingly, Watt’s claim relies on a faulty and incomplete interpretation of partial data that is favorable to climate deniers, which they know the Noonans of the world will eat up. (This is also the way he wrote 150 Reasons Why Barack Obama Is the Worst President In History, by the way.)

Here’s what’s actually going on, courtesy Phil Pliat at Slate:

A new study just published in the Journal of Glaciology is causing some buzz in climate circles, because it appears to claim that Antarctica—long thought to be losing ice at extremely alarming rates—is actually gaining ice.

However, note the word appears. The reality is more complicated, and in the end the important aspect of this is that the study only talks about part of Antarctica, and only used data up to 2008. Both of these points are critical.

Here’s what’s what.

The authors looked at satellite altimeter data, using that to track how much snow accumulated over a given time period. Looking at different satellites, they found that enough snow fell over some parts of the southern continent (most importantly the vast area of East Antarctica) to more than balance the ice lost via melting.

In other words, East Antarctica (and parts of West) was gaining mass. That’s interesting!

But the authors note that the accumulation rate is steady while losses are increasing. As they mention in their conclusion, this gain in mass over the regions studied can’t keep up with losses, and they’re likely to balance in about 20 years. After that, losses win.

There’s more. They looked at data going from 1992–2008. Starting right around that time, mass loss due to melting ice in Antarctica (mostly in the west) has accelerated. It’s actually been speeding up for some time, but in recent years it’s really kicked in. Every year, about 6 billion more tons of ice are lost than the year before. In the past two decades, the loss rate has doubled.

This is enough to easily outpace the mass gained by snowfall over East Antarctica. Using data taken by the Grace satellites (which measure how mass underneath them changes over time), we know that overall, Antarctica is currently losing more than 130 billion tons of ice per year, and again, that number is increasing every year. Since 2002 it’s lost about 2 trillion tons of ice.

Mind you, this isn’t including Greenland, which is losing ice at an even more staggering 280 billion tons per year, and has lost well over three trillion tons over that same time period.

So no matter how you slice it, Antarctica is losing ice, and losing it fast.

Plait goes on to say (my emphasis added):

Of course, the usual suspects in the global warming–denying noise machine are jumping all over this study, claiming triumph … but, as usual, they obfuscate, they cherry-pick, and they ignore evidence that contradicts their claims that everything is rolling along just fine.

Here’s the difference between real science and what they do: When I first read about this Antarctic study, my reaction was one of hope. Although I knew that sea levels were rising, and that this must be coming from somewhere, if Antarctica was actually gaining ice, that could provide a good buffer against catastrophic melting.

But upon further examination it became clear that this was not the case. I was happy to entertain the notion that I might be wrong in my conclusions, and I still am. But all the evidence points to the conclusion that Antarctica is still losing hundreds of billions of tons of ice per year, will lose more every year, and it’s joined (and even outpaced) by Greenland.

The world really is warming up. We really are losing ice. The sea levels really are rising. Oceans really are getting more acidic as they absorb some of the 40 billion extra tons of carbon dioxide we humans pump into the atmosphere every year.

Another installment of the travails of the Republican “deep bench.” How deep is it? “I am running for president, so get over it!” Yes, that deep:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) doesn’t seem to be having a lot of fun running for president.

The Kentucky senator live-streamed an entire day on the campaign trail on Tuesday, but things went a little awry when Paul answered questions that people had Googled about him.

Paul did not seem too amused when he answered those who used a Google search to ask whether he was still running for president.

“I don’t know. I wouldn’t be doing this dumbass live streaming if I weren’t. So yes, I still am running for president, get over it.”

“This is live, we can’t edit this right?” Paul continued.

Even though Paul’s campaign touted the live stream as a way to get behind-the-scenes access to Paul, the senator himself didn’t really seem to understand why it was being done.

Asked by a reporter why he was live-streaming the entire day, Paul said that he wasn’t quite sure.

“I wish I knew,” he said. “I’ve been saying, I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this and now we’re doing this,” he said, according to The Washington Post.

Sergio Gor, a spokesman for Paul’s campaign said that the comments were meant to be taken as a joke and that the senator was poking fun at himself.

“Context is important, and Senator Paul was reading mean tweets and taking other questions when that question came up, most media outlets realize he was being playful and trying to make a joke,” he said in an email. Gor also included a link to Paul’s website, where his campaign is now selling T-shirts making fun of his comments.

According to HuffPost Pollster, which aggregates publicly available polling data, Paul has the support of 3.5 percent of likely Republican primary voters. Politico reported last week that Republicans are putting pressure on him to end his presidential campaign and focus on keeping his Senate seat in Kentucky in 2016.

His campaign is now selling T-shirts making fun of his comments. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Not that McCarthy had distinguished himself as anything other than a partisan hack–and not a very good one–but good grief. The Republicans are in total disarray. They can’t even work amongst themselves, let alone members from another political party. And these are the people we want running the country? They can’t run themselves.

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Representative Kevin McCarthy on Thursday abruptly took himself out of the race to succeed John A. Boehner as House speaker, apparently undone by the same forces that drove Mr. Boehner to resign.

Mr. McCarthy’s candidacy was damaged when he suggested in an interview on Fox News last week that the House committee investigating Benghazi had the political aim of damaging Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign.

As shocked members left the room there was a sense of total disarray, with no clear path forward and no set date for a new vote. Representative Peter King, Republican of New York, said that in dropping out of race, Mr. McCarthy told the room, “I’m not the one to unify the party.”

A group of about 40 hard-line House conservatives announced Wednesday night that they would support Representative Daniel Webster of Florida, making it unclear whether Mr. McCarthy could assemble the 218 votes on the floor that he would need to be elected later this month.

Representative David Jolly, Republican of Florida, a member of the hard-line Freedom Caucus, which opposed Mr. McCarthy, was asked how the party could unify. “It’s going to take a hard family conversation,” he said.

*UPDATE*

Shortly after posting this, I heard one congressman explain that McCarthy is actually one of the few Republicans capable of working collaboratively. (He said Paul Ryan was another, but Ryan is smart enough to avoid the speakership as well.) So maybe McCarthy would have been the best choice of a sorry lot. But then he made his Benghazi gaffe. (Is a gaffe a gaffe when you merely state the truth?) Anyway, this is what happens when you elect a bunch of clowns who don’t know how to govern. Thanks, Tea Party!

That Republican bench is awfully deep, so we’ve been told ad naseum. Today we bring you Ben Carson, currently second in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination. Once upon a time, Carson was a highly respected medical doctor. Now he seems to be trying to prove just how ill-informed a medical doctor can be in every other part of life.

His comments in the aftermath of the Oregon mass shooting are idiotic enough, but today he demonstrated that he does not understand what the debt ceiling is. That would seem to be kind of important for someone managing the federal government.

Ryssdal: As you know, Treasury Secretary Lew has come out in the last couple of days and said, “We’re gonna run out of money, we’re gonna run out of borrowing authority, on the fifth of November.” Should the Congress then and the president not raise the debt limit? Should we default on our debt?

Carson: Let me put it this way: if I were the president, I would not sign an increased budget. Absolutely would not do it. They would have to find a place to cut.

Ryssdal: To be clear, it’s increasing the debt limit, not the budget, but I want to make sure I understand you. You’d let the United States default rather than raise the debt limit.

Carson: No, I would provide the kind of leadership that says, “Get on the stick guys, and stop messing around, and cut where you need to cut, because we’re not raising any spending limits, period.”

Ryssdal: I’m gonna try one more time, sir. This is debt that’s already obligated. Would you not favor increasing the debt limit to pay the debts already incurred?

Carson: What I’m saying is what we have to do is restructure the way that we create debt. I mean if we continue along this, where does it stop? It never stops. You’re always gonna ask the same question every year. And we’re just gonna keep going down that pathway. That’s one of the things I think that the people are tired of.

Ryssdal: I’m really trying not to be circular here, Dr. Carson, but if you’re not gonna raise the debt limit and you’re not gonna give specifics on what you’re gonna cut, then how are we going to know what you are going to do as president of the United States?