I think one of the most astonishing ironies of the House speakership brou-ha-ha is the fact that member of the so-called "Freedom caucus" are backing a member of the Duggar's authoritarian fundamentalist cult. You cannot make this stuff up.
Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) is running as the alternative to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to succeed John Boehner as Speaker of the House. He also has a decades-long affiliation with the Institute in Basic Life Principles, the controversial ministry whose founder, Bill Gothard, resigned last year after more than 30 women accused him of sexual harassment. As TPM reported earlier this month, IBLP subjected young followers to victim-blaming “counseling” for rape, as well as grueling work schedules at its facilities for little or no pay, requiring women to engage in gendered tasks that included scrubbing carpets on their hands and knees.
Webster’s association with IBLP and its homeschooling program, the Advanced Training Institute, made national headlines when he first ran for Congress in 2010. Alan Grayson, the firebrand incumbent Democrat, criticized Webster, who had served 28 years in the Florida legislature, in an ad characterizing him as “Taliban Dan.” The ad showed clips from a Webster speech to an IBLP conference during which he spoke of a biblical command that wives submit to their husbands. Webster, who went on to win the election, insisted the clips were taken out of context.
But IBLP’s teaching on wifely submission is just the tip of the iceberg of the ministry’s authoritarian ideology, which includes opposition to, among other things, public education, “humanistic” laws, contraception, and even rock music. Despite downplaying his adherence to a core Gothard teaching, Webster has been, as a 1997 St. Petersburg Times article put it, “an enthusiastic supporter” of IBLP.
Webster’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
In a 2003 speech at an IBLP conference, “Discover the True Qualities of Leadership,” Webster boasted of how he diligently conducts both his private and public life according to the “commitments” he made to the principles he learned at IBLP seminars. By his own account in the speech, and according to statements in ATI newsletters, Webster began his affiliation with IBLP when he attended a seminar for legislators at IBLP’s Northwoods Conference Center in Watersmeet, Michigan, in 1984. A few months later, Webster said during the speech, he attended an IBLP “basic seminar” in Tampa, Florida. His family later joined ATI, and his wife homeschooled their six children with the curriculum. (Webster’s first legislative achievement in Florida was a bill legalizing homeschooling, which became law in 1985.)
In the 2003 speech, Webster said he “made every commitment” Gothard asked of attendees at his seminars. “I raised my hand every time, because it absolutely changed my life,” Webster said.
There's more. You have to read the whole thing to really understand just how extreme this man is. He's running for Speaker of the House. Meanwhile, recall that Ben Carson insists that Muslims must repudiate the beliefs of their most extreme members before they can be considered for office.
When you think about it maybe his being a member of the Freedom Caucus makes some sense after all. A patriarch is pretty much free to do whatever he wants, amirite?
The controversial House Majority Leader in Indiana — he cosponsored the state’s “religious freedom” law — resigned suddenly on Tuesday after a sexually compromising video was sent to all of the people on his “Contacts” list, the Advocate’s Bill Browning reports...
During his five years in the legislature, McMillan has crusaded to “protect the integrity of the institution of marriage,” but the Advocate reported that the woman on the video he texted was not, in fact, his wife. According to his campaign website, he claimed that “the family has always been the foundation of our strength of community” and that “[i]n these times of turmoil the rest of the country could learn something from our example.”
If you want to understand just how badly Kevin McCarthy gave away the game with his Benghazi gaffe, read this piece by Joe Conason in which he pulls up Boehner and Gowdy's lugubrious comments about the integrity of their expensive witch-hunt:
Even Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace sounded skeptical when he interviewed the Speaker last February:
Wallace: Finally, you have set up a select committee to investigate what happened in Benghazi, even though there have been about a half dozen investigations; the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee basically said there was no there there — like this last year. Some people have questioned: is all of this an effort to hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign?
Boehner: No, Chris, it’s — the idea here is to get the American people the facts about what happened.
Here's the part about Gowdy:
For the rest of us to fully understand this craven betrayal of the solemn responsibilities entrusted to congressional leadership, let’s begin with Gowdy’s own remarks on the day that his committee’s work began last January.
“I remain hopeful there are still things left in our country that can transcend politics. I remain convinced our fellow citizens deserve all of the facts of what happened before, during, and after the attacks in Benghazi and they deserve an investigative process worthy of the memory of those who died and worthy of the trust of our fellow citizens…
“The people we work for yearn to see the right thing done, for the right reasons, and in the right way. They want to know that something can rise above the din of politics. They want to trust the institutions of government. So to fulfill the duties owed to those we serve and in honor of those who were killed perhaps we can be what those four brave men were: neither Republican nor Democrat. We can just be Americans in pursuit of the facts, the truth, and justice no matter where that journey takes us.”
Golly, that made me want to break into a chorus of "God Bless America" and if it weren't 88 degrees in my house right now I'd have run into the kitchen and immediately baked an apple pie.
It's not that we didn't know they were leaking like seives and using the committee's investigative powers for political purposes. We have. As Conason points out:
There is little doubt, for instance, that Gowdy’s crew was behind the false “criminal referral” leak last summer that so badly embarrassed its enthusiastic recipients at the New York Times. The committee members spent hours (and taxpayer dollars) behind closed doors, grilling Clinton advisor Sidney Blumenthal not about Benghazi, a topic on which he had no personal knowledge, but about his work with Media Matters for America and American Bridge. Of approximately 550 questions posed to Blumenthal, less than two-dozen concerned the terrorist attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
In fact, the pertinent questions that Boehner and Gowdy claimed to be exploring were already answered by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI, now retired). The HPSCI report concluded last November that there was no “stand-down” order, as Boehner once claimed, no intelligence failure, and no inappropriate conduct by any responsible officials before, during, or after the terrorist assault.
None of that matters of course. They want to get their grubby mitts on Clinton's personal emails and they won't stop until they've pawed through every single one for evidence of something dirty or corrupt -- or at least can make it look it that way with selective leaks and insinuations. And they'll have the full cooperation of the press which, according Ruth Marcus on Andrea Mitchell this morning, they just can't help obsessing over like a bunch of hungry vultures, to the exclusion of virtually everything else, because there are emails.
If you are confused by all this and don't understand the dynamic surrounding this inane email controversy, you should read Conason and Gene Lyons' ebook The Hunting of Hillary, which recounts the true history of the “vast right-wing conspiracy.” Even if you loathe Clinton with every fiber of your being you should be concerned about this. They'll use these methods against anyone, just ask John Kerry or Al Gore. If you like Bernie or Biden don't think they won't find a way to get them with this stuff or that the press won't eagerly swallow every tid-bit they give them if they sense blood in the water. The desire to get Clinton is even stronger among both the Republicans and the press, of course, because she and her husband survived the earlier attempt to destroy them and they are frustrated. But don't think it can't happen to any Democrat if the media decides to join in. Character assassination by a thousand cuts is their MO and it's very powerful.
Oh, and by the way, their 9th witchhunt committee has spent 4 million dollars and counting. And that's on top of all the money they spent on the previous 8 investigations.
Judging from the amount of airtime and column inches devoted to the subject, most members of the press are deeply concerned with which dates Hillary Clinton actually started using a personal email server and whether or not what she considers a personal email is actually a personal email. One assumes that their obsession with such tedious minutiae is indicative of a well-founded suspicion that the candidate is engaged in a deception so outrageous that when it is fully revealed will show dishonesty and corruption on a level that will lead to criminal indictment, if not a trial for treason. So perhaps they simply don’t have the time and resources to devote to covering Republican candidate Carly Fiorina’s willingness to unrepentantly and repeatedly lie to their faces.
You’d think that after implying she rose to the top of Hewlett Packard from the bowels of the typing pool when she was actually a business school graduate who rose through their management training program, the press would have given Fiorina more than a side-eye. And after she boldly asserted that her time as CEO there was actually a success when by all meaningful measures it was an abject failure she would have been subject to daily cable news segments in which talking heads discuss her basic honesty and integrity. Certainly the thorough fact-checking by many news organizations proving her deceit (or delusion) about what she claimed in the Republican debate to have seen on those notorious Planned Parenthood videotapes (and the abject denial of reality when confronted with the truth last week-end on “Meet the Press”) should have led to a frenzy of attention to her serious problems separating fact from fiction. But for the most part, the media seem to have moved on.
Still a few members the press do seem to be nonplussed by her behavior on the campaign trail. Dahlia Lithwick probably best expresses their bafflement in this piece at Slate:
The enormity of the fabrication surprised me; the fact that nobody had ever seen this extraordinary smoking gun before stunned me; the fact that not one of the journalists moderating the debate followed up on her claim surprised me. The fact that contemporaneous mainstream media reports of the debate—more theater criticism than journalism—failed to fact-check it surprised me. The people who did fact-check it all immediately agreedthat itwasn’t true, and yet Fiorina’s word-picture was touted for days as the emotional zenith of the debate. This all surprised me: the notion that journalism and fact-finding are demonstrably unrelated enterprises.
That is surprising. As Lithwick writes later in the piece, “it’s truthiness elevated to almost cosmic levels.” But again, the press can’t be everywhere and with the full court press on Clinton’s vastly important email story it’s understandable that they would be unable or unwilling to push Fiorina any further than they have. There are only so many hours in the day. Nonetheless Fiorina does merit some extra attention if only because it takes a very special kind of person to go on “Meet the Press” and look the directly into the camera and tell the country “you can believe me or you can believe your lying eyes”.
Of course, she’s not the first special person to do that, is she? Indeed, lying to the press is so common that it’s almost not worth mentioning. But as Lithwick points out, there is something unusual about insisting that you are telling the truth when the facts clearly contradict you. You wonder where someone like Fiorina would get the idea that she could get away with such a thing until you remember that people far more powerful and important than she is have gotten away with much, much worse:
Recall Dick Cheney appearing in September of 2002 and saying this:
We do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon.”
So, as you can see, Carly Fiorina has learned from the best. Just like Dick Cheney, she makes outrageously dishonest claims, refuses to admit it when she’s caught and stubbornly barrels ahead confidently insisting that her claims are true even when presented with proof that they are not. Dick Cheney is still considered respectable, an elder statesman, and he’s treated with respect among the political elite so why not her?
Indeed, the right actually appreciates this unwillingness to ever say you’re sorry. It shows commitment to the cause. And just as they consider hypocrisy to be the price vice pays to virtue, they consider lying to be fine if they believe it reveals a larger truth. In Cheney’s case, waterboarding may be torture and it may be illegal, but the larger truth is that they believe those people who were tortured deserved it. Fiorina may be lying about the videotape and even about the specifics of the Planned Parenthood practices, but the larger truth is that they believe abortion is immoral and anything that brings that home to people, true or not, is perfectly appropriate. The larger truth justifies the smaller lies.
In this piece about the conservative movement’s “Long Con”, Rick Perlstein explains how lying helps someone like Fiorina take her place as a conservative star:
Lying is an initiation into the conservative elite. In this respect, as in so many others, it’s like multilayer marketing: the ones at the top reap the reward—and then they preen, pleased with themselves for mastering the game. Closing the sale, after all, is mainly a question of riding out the lie: showing that you have the skill and the stones to just brazen it out, and the savvy to ratchet up the stakes higher and higher. Sneering at, or ignoring, your earnest high-minded mandarin gatekeepers—“we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” as one Romney aide put it—is another part of closing the deal.
Fiorina may have been a miserable failure as a CEO but nobody has ever denied that she was a hell of a saleswoman.
More at the link about Fiorina's latest attempt to follow in her mentor's footsteps on the subject of torture. Why wouldn't she?
The video that Carly Fiorina graphically described at the last Republican presidential debate, depicting a moving fetus on a table following an apparent abortion, was released online in its entirety Tuesday morning, according to Gregg Cunningham, the founder of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, who collected the footage.
Cunningham, an anti-abortion activist, declined to identify the date, location or authors of the video in an interview with TIME Monday night, saying his group makes agreements of confidentiality in an effort to acquire images of abortions. He also made no claim that the images shown in the video had anything to do with Planned Parenthood, the organization that Fiorina and others have targeted for federal defunding. “I am neither confirming or denying the affiliation of the clinic who did this abortion,” Cunningham said.
During the debate on Sept. 16, Fiorina denounced the images on videos that had been produced by a separate group, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). “As regards [to] Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes,” she said. “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”
No video released by the Center for Medical Progress showed the image Fiorina described, but one of the CMP videos does include a brief edited clip from the video Cunningham released on Tuesday, showing a fetus on a stainless steel background with its leg moving.
David Daleiden, who created the Center for Medical Progress videos, edited in the Cunningham footage to illustrate a story that he had been told on camera of a medical technician witnessing an abortion that resulted in an extracted fetus with moving legs and beating heart.
The full source video, which is extremely graphic, lasts about 13 minutes, and shows a fetus being extracted from the mother, placed in a metal bowl, prodded with medical instruments and handled by someone in the room. At times the fetus appears to move, and at other times it appears to have a pulse. There are no images on the full video of any attempt to harvest the brain of the fetus, and there is no sound. Cunningham said the jump cuts in the video are the result of the camera being turned off and on.
Cunningham says he is confident the procedure was an abortion, and not a miscarriage, owing to the lack of medical treatment offered to the fetus. He said he estimated the age of the fetus at about 17 and a half weeks. “It is unimaginably more horrifying than the clip that we licensed for CMP to use and that Carly Fiorina made reference to in the debate,” Cunningham said.
There were a couple more paragraphs with quotes from Cunningham, who is an ex Air Force colonel and wingnut GOP politician and that's it. Can you see what they forgot to do? That's right, they forgot to ask an actual doctor if what this zealot says makes any sense.
Today there's this update, which is the least they can do:
UPDATE: Hours after the publication of the video, several medical experts raised questions about whether the video showed an abortion or a miscarriage. Current medical guidelines do not call for resuscitation of a fetus at 17 and a half weeks. For a fuller discussion of the accepted medical practice, click here.
The Center for Bio-Ethical reform released the full video of Fiorina’s “fully formed fetus.” It’s a premature delivery.
Slate has a good summary of the issues involved and has a wonderful conclusion about what the full video adds, “the revelation that the fetus came out of a woman’s body.”
Greg Cunningham, the curator of the illegally obtained video and the founder of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, told Time magazine that it had to be an abortion “owing to the lack of medical treatment offered to the fetus.” The statement underscores the fact that Cunningham has no idea what he is talking about as the fetus is 17-18 weeks and hence pre viable so no one would render care. It is highly atypical to offer neonatal care before 23 weeks. A neonatologist who attempt to resuscitate a 17 week delivery would be considered unethical.
It is easy to see how someone who has no obstetrical training might think this could be something other than a previable premature delivery. Cunningham’s statements clearly show he is no medical expert and isn’t in the position to explain it. However, I am.
Here are all the issues with the video from start to finish:
It is illegally and clandestinely shot. I feel very badly for the poor woman in question and wonder why Fiorina and our elected officials are not as outraged as I am about her violation and exploitation. I had second thoughts about watching it myself given the lack of consent from the woman, however, I felt if I could end the conversation about it faster by weighing in. Time magazine or Slate have links.
The prep of the patient. The physician (I’m assuming) pours surgical prep/cleaner on the woman’s perineum. We don’t do that anymore for spontaneous deliveries or for abortions that involve induction of labor. This tells me this video is at least 15 years old or from another country.
The delivery. It is a spontaneous delivery as the operator waits for the fetus to be expelled.
This is what we do with a previable premature delivery. If this were shot mid way through a 2nd trimester abortion (meaning the Laminaria in the cervix, which are osmotic sticks that help the cervix dilate, had just been removed) it is highly unlikely the operator would have waited for a spontaneous expulsion.
The cord is clamped on the fetal side. If this were an abortion it would just be cut. Really. No one ever does this with an abortion as it serves no purpose.
Waiting for the placenta. The clamp is left on the placental end and at the end of the video the placenta still hasn’t delivered. If this were an abortion the placenta would be removed with suction immediately, no one would wait 11 minutes. Ever. Every abortion clinic has a suction machine.
There is no proof this video is in a Planned Parenthood clinic never mind in the United States. This could easily be an operating room.
Instead of wasting tax payer dollars over highly edited videos our government should be investigating who illegally taped this woman’s delivery. If Cunningham says he didn’t take the video then of course he also can’t be sure what was going on. He can’t have it both ways.
Just so you know. They're lying. At this point, the assumption among the press should be that they are lying until proven otherwise.
"Crony capitalism is alive and well," she told Beck. "When you have big, powerful, complicated, costly government, only the wealthy, the powerful, the big and the well-connected can handle it and all the rest of us are getting crushed. And people see that, they feel it in the bones. In their bones, people know if something is so complicated I don't understand it, I'm getting screwed."
As outcry grows over executives who reap millions in severance bonuses in the face of their companies' downfalls and bail-outs, TIME takes a look at other golden parachutes — and the people who opened them.
With Fiorina as chairman and CEO, Hewlett-Packard's value declined significantly and the technology giant endured massive layoffs. Fiorina led a largely unsuccessful merger with Compaq in 2002, going against the wishes of company founder Walter Hewlett. Asked by the board of directors to step down in 2005, Fiorina left with $21 million in cash, plus stock and pension benefits worth another $19 million. According to HP executive compensation rules, departing executives are entitled to no more than 2.99 times their base salary; anything more requires stockholder approval. Fiorina's parachute was more than that, so the stockholders filed a class action suit (a federal judge dismissed it in April 2008).
This is the woman who laid off 30,000 people by simply saying "the jobs should be done elsewhere" meaning overseas. She's now reportedly worth 60 million or so. And she hasn't had a job since she left HP. That's because her money is working for her these days. Nice, isn't it? And yet she's saying "only the wealthy, the powerful, the big and the well-connected can handle it and all the rest of us are getting crushed."
Not that anyone will care. She'll could just lie and say she never said anything like that and that she has no money. Waddaya gonna do?
At least he's honest. When asked by Sean Hannity to give him an example of one thing the Republicans have won he said this:
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.”
There you go.
But don't let that stop the press from eagerly gobbling up every little piece of gossip their "sources" on the committee dribble out.
This was not a slip. He said the same thing on CNN.
It's so obvious that they are using it as a political ploy that Jake Tapper didn't even bother to follow up. But that's kind of a problem, Congressional committees are supposed to be doing government oversight for the good of the country not to degrade their political opponents poll numbers, "win arguments" or otherwise use their ability to subpoena documents and testimony for political purposes.
That's called "abuse of power" and it's a big problem, especially if the future Speaker of the House is running around telling everyone it's a-ok --- indeed, something to be proud of.
North Carolina legislators were cooking up some particularly noxious potions yesterday here in one of Charlie Pierce's Laboratories of Democracy. Pay attention. North Carolina has become wingnut DARPA for this stuff.
The NC state legislature adjourned for the year about the time I got up to write this. Twitter and email lit up last night after all the turds they'd kept plugged up in the legislative pipeline until the very last all spewed out into public view at once. Much like the infamous "motorcycle vagina" bill of 2013, some of the worst appeared as surprise revisions to other bills.
Ironically, a colleague yesterday noticed that sometime after September 2012 our local GOP website had quietly removed its "Principles" page from its website. They included "I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people." Well, yesterday the "closest to the people" people in the state capitol attempted to prevent local governments in North Carolina from doing anything remotely progressive:
“This bill includes pages and pages of bans on local ordinances including banning living wage ordinances, local affordable housing ordinances and nondiscrimination ordinances,” wrote Burns, a Democrat and frequent critic of the legislature. “This bill would prevent cities such as Raleigh, Apex, Wake Forest or the County of Wake from passing and implementing many ordinances that result in progress.
North Carolina Policy Watch's Progressive Pulse spelled out what SB 279 might do:
Many of the new restrictions are highly charged, including provisions that could allow local landlords to deny housing to veterans and seniors, permit local businesses to discriminate against their customers based on their sexual orientation, and prohibit city and county governments from passing living wage and paid sick ordinances to boost their local economies. One shocking provision may even stop local governments from requiring landlords to provide heating, air, and ventilation in their properties.
That one was attached to a bill on qualifications for professional counselors. It got sent back to committee to die. For now. It was so noxious even Republicans wouldn't vote for it.
This session in Raleigh was supposed to be over long ago. But as I said the other day, the NCGOP has been out of power for so long, it doesn't know how to lead, even if it wanted to. In the New York Times,
Geoffrey Kabaservice said the same of Washington: "The extremists have the ability to disrupt the Congress, but not to lead it." Except to ruin.
A change is gonna come.
Unbelievable: Rep. Cleveland sez undocumented people have no right to police protection in NC #ncga#ncpol
Good lord, the amount of money going to Republican "outside groups" is astonishing. They're not even trying to hide it anymore. Ted Cruz has collected almost as much outside money as Hillary Clinton has collected in legitimate campaign cash. Ted Cruz. Think about that.
In case you haven't heard this is the end of the fundraising quarter. Here's a sample of Ted Cruz's fundraising
I'm sure you've heard...the crowded field of presidential candidates is beginning to thin out, and what you may not know -- money was a big factor.
That's why I'm emailing you today.
Right now, we are still more than $400,000 short of our End of Quarter Goal.
Since TWO of my fellow conservative candidates have been forced to drop out due to lack of funds, it is more urgent now than ever that I have your support before the hard cutoff of my fundraising deadline on Sept. 30th.
I've asked my staff to put a clock below to show the amount of time left before my Federal Election Commission (FEC) fundraising deadline.
FEC DEADLINE COUNTDOWN
I'm personally asking: will you to chip in $35, $50, or $250 right now -- BEFORE the clock runs out?
After September 30th, EVERY presidential campaign must file financial reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) detailing our contributions and expenditures. Once results are made public, every media outlet will have immediate access and begin scrutinizing each candidate's report.
I can feel it...Republicans across the country are fed up and will not allow the establishment to pick another "Campaign Conservative" nominee if we can offer them a proven conservative alternative!
Douglas, the bottom line is this: a grassroots campaign like ours can't afford setbacks. If our fundraising is not as strong as we need it to be -- Washington insiders will use our disappointing numbers against us.
We're building real momentum in key states, but we must keep the campaign doors open if we want to fight off the Washington Cartel and be the ones to reignite liberty.
The Washington Cartel...You've got to love these guys.
Bush and Cruz have collected the most money. Here's what it's bought them:
Bush's decline is precipitous. He was at 17% in July. Cruz at least has ticked up a little bit. But neither one of them are setting records for anything but collecting rich people's money and saying stupid things.
He further commented that this is why people are so pleased with Carly Fiorina. I guess they.want.someone.to.speak.like.a.machine.gun.
I'm not sure what they expected. Screaming in her face, "you can't handle the truth!!!"? Tie her up and throw her in a pond to see if she floats? I don't know. I think maybe they've seen to many movies. As far as I could tell Chaffetz was as rude as anyone could be, interrupting her constantly and throwing out tons of lies and egregiously phony data. It's not good enough because Richards didn't run from the room crying and wailing, "I give up, I am a baby killer, I am!"
I don't know if you know this but the only test a woman is allowed to have is a mammogram. If you need birth control, a pregnancy test or a pap smear you're obviously a slut.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney ripped him afterwards:
"I first would like to register my opposition and my objection to the chairman beating up on a woman, on our witness today, for making a good salary," Maloney said.
"The entire time I've been in Congress, I've never seen a witness beaten up and questioned about their salary," she continued. "Ms. Richards heads a distinguished organization providing health care services to millions of Americans. I find it totally inappropriate and discriminatory."
Just FYI Republicans, women love it when men shush them after asking them a question. We love that. It's an awesome electoral ploy. Keep it up boys.
Are we ready for a Duggar as Speaker of the House?
I wrote a lot about Congressman Daniel Webster's extremist fundamentalist faith when he was running against Alan Grayson in 2010 and beyond. He's not a member of the Duggar family directly but follows the teaching of their guru Bill Gothard and is related to the family friends of the Duggars who were also featured on TLC. So he's "family" no doubt about it.
Right Wing Watch reported Monday that the Freedom Caucus and other right-wing Republicans in the House are pinning their hopes on Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL), an evangelical Christian with ties to the same ministry as the scandal-plagued Duggar family.
Julie Ingersoll of the Annenberg Institute said that Webster’s views are “well outside the mainstream.” Some voters find Webster’s views so medieval that they have nicknamed him “Taliban Dan,” although Ingersoll said that may be too far.
However, she said, “Webster has aligned himself with an organization that espouses an orientation to the Bible and its role in civil society that is certainly relevant to his campaign for public office” in that he is a follower of Bill Gothard and his Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP), which prescribes strict rules for the sexes and urges women to be submissive to their male family members in all things.
Writer Sarah Posner described Gothard’s views thusly:
“[S]ubmission is a central tenet of Gothard’s teachings. His evangelical critics have described the insular world of Gothard’s organization as “a culture of fear” and Gothard’s teachings as a “parody of patriarchalism,” the “basest form of male chauvinism I have ever heard in a Christian context,” and “anti-woman.” The core of Gothard’s authoritarian teachings is a chain of command of spiritual authority from God to the husband and father, who is responsible for seeing to his wife’s and children’s obedience in order to ensure their eternal salvation.
The Duggar family are followers of the IBLP and Gothard’s teachings, which place the blame for inappropriate male sexual behavior on women for not meeting the men’s needs properly, for tempting them unduly and for being the vessels through which evil enters the world.
Webster has a highly unusual belief system in which he prays to the Christian God to erect a “hedge of thorns” around him for protection. To this end, he observes a number of rituals, including never sleeping late, never watching television in hotel rooms and engaging in multiple prayer sessions per day.
“(T)hat hedge of thorns has protected me all these years,” said Webster in a video for Gothard’s organization.
Webster’s son John is married to Alyssa Bates, a daughter of a so-called Quiverfull family like the Duggars. Alyssa Bates Webster is one of 19 children. Her family was featured in two TLC shows, “United Bates of America” and “The Bates Family: Baby Makes 19″ in 2012.
If you are wondering who in the world might please the Republican right wing, here's your answer. It would be awesome if a reporter would fill in Ben Carson on Webster's beliefs and then ask him if it's appropriate for him to run for Speaker.
There's a lot of anti-PC talk in the GOP campaign. From Trump on down, it's one of the big crowd pleasers. But nobody does it with more flair than Ben Carson. There simply are no limits with him. He simultaneously says that flying the Nazi flag is perfectly ok and that Muslims cannot be trusted to follow the constitution. He checks off all the boxes.
Tony Benn's Ten-Minute History Lesson on Neoliberalism
by Gaius Publius
I had a different group of pieces I've been working on recently, revolving around a recent interview by Noam Chomsky that touches on our so-called "capitalism" and also on the Bernie Sanders candidacy. But this video sets that up nicely. It's a ten-minute speech by long-time British politico and Labour Party member Tony Benn, sadly recently deceased.
Our thanks to the people at Naked Capitalism for bringing this to our attention. There it's presented without comment. I'd like to print some of the text, just to emphasize some of its points.
First the video. (I've bumped the start to about two minutes in, but you can back it up if you like.)
And now from a self-made transcript. You've seen all of these points before, but to see them assembled and rounded back to where it all begins is quite striking. My emphasis below:
This country and the world have been run by rich and powerful men from the beginning of time. ... The only real wealth in the world is land, and resources that lie under it, and the people. ...
In 1834, only 2% had the right to vote ... Out of trade unionism came the change ....
The [20th century] slumps were not acts of god ... but a direct result of too much economic power in the hands of too few men who behaved like a totalitarian oligarchy in the heart of our democratic state. The had and they felt no responsibility to the nation. ...
In wartime there are no economic arguments at all. I've never heard a general say, "I can't bomb Baghdad this month because I've exceeded my budget." In wartime you do whatever is required. We should adopt the principle that in peacetime you do whatever is required. People want jobs, they want homes, want a decent income, a good education, health care ...
When you come to the Thatcher period, this is what's so interesting. Thatcher was a much cleverer woman than we give her credit for. She knew perfectly well the strength of the labor movement lay in three sources of power. One was the trade union movement. So she took on the miners ...
What she said, and this is very clever, "You can buy your council house so you'll be a property owner. You may not be able to get a wage increase, but you can borrow." And the borrowing was deliberately encouraged because people in debt are slaves to their employers. That's how the whole thing began. The borrowing was a deliberate policy ...
She also attacked local government ... Local councilors now are agents of the Treasury. They can only spend money the Treasury give them on things the Treasury tells them they can spend it on. ...
And she attacked the public sector and privatized it. And this privatization is international. I met an old friend of mine, Kenneth Kaunda, the president of Zambia. ... He said, "We had a great debt and the IMF came along and said, 'We'll lift your debt if you sell off all your schools and hospitals to multinational corporations.'"
So privatization is a deliberate policy, along with the destruction of local democracy and the destruction of the trade unions to restore power back to to where it was. And what we're now back in, that's what the whole crisis is about, the restoration of power to those who've always controlled the world, the people who own the land and the resources and all the rest of it. And that is something we need to understand. ...
There's more in the speech besides just this. Check out his action as Postmaster (at 8:00). And his plan for the banks. And his statement about how popular his ideas are among actual voters. (Reminds us that Sanders has the same wind at his back; actual wishes of the people.)
There really is only one story in this country — the "flow of funds" story, the massive passing of money to the rich from everyone else. Whatever else we've been made to suffer, and are going to be made to suffer, comes from that one story. With that in mind, I'd like to close where Benn closes, and to ask you to return to these comments as we consider Noam Chomsky's remarks later in the week.
It's very important to keep optimism. ... Progress has always been made by two flames burning in the human heart. The flame of anger at injustice. And the flame of hope you can build a better world.
Exactly. We'll come back to this when we turn to the Chomsky interview.
There seems to be a tiny insurrection happening over at the Washington Post today. First, we have Dave Weigel once again pointing out that the press is full of it on the Clinton emails. And none other than Richard Cohen calls out the bogus Benghazi Committee.
If you did something productive with your Sunday — if you went to church, took a nature hike, composted leaves from the back yard, concocted an alibi for the cops — you may have seen only the headlines about Hillary Rodham Clinton's "Meet the Press" interview. According to those headlines, she dismissed the unkillable scandal over her use of a private e-mail server as a "conspiracy theory." A sample:
The Guardian: "Hillary Clinton dismisses 'conspiracy theory' amid email server controversy"
Townhall: "Hillary Laughs Again, Dismisses Email Scandal as a 'Conspiracy Theory' "
These headlines are true, insofar as how Clinton used the phrase "conspiracy theory" as she answered one of Chuck Todd's questions. "She is now blaming a ‘conspiracy theory’ for her sinking poll numbers," grumbled a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. The "conspiracy theory" quote was even quickly tweeted by the opposition research wizards at America Rising.
What hasn't been mentioned: Clinton was actually calling back to something Todd said at the start of the interview. "I know there's always conspiracy theories out there," he said knowingly, referring to rumors that Clinton had sat down with him only after some subjects were barred from discussion. He then made absolutely clear: "There are no limitations to this interview."
Clinton agreed — "as far as I know, that's true" — and plowed through seven e-mail questions. Todd wound up the eighth question by asking whether the Democratic presidential front-runner could "respond to an alternative explanation that has sort of been circulating." Only then did Clinton laugh: "Another conspiracy theory?"
None of this will matter when it comes to the way Clinton is covered, and I already have designated a section of my inbox for the complaints that I am carrying her water here.
No doubt. I just wish all these people who are so sure of Clinton's imminent defeat (it's a matter of days, I'd guess, before we start hearing the calls for her to drop out --- Democrats always do that in primaries no matter who is running) could explain this:
If Clinton were more forthright, she might — my guess here — admit that she used a private server because she didn’t want her every thought to wind up in the hands of her political enemies. As if to prove the truth of the cliche that even paranoids have enemies, that’s precisely what’s happened. The Benghazi committee has the e-mails. But e-mails to her daughter, her husband, her staff about personal matters, biting comments, maybe even an insult or two ought to remain private. Even public officials are entitled to private thoughts.
Benghazi has become a Republican fixation. It is mentioned with utmost solemnity, virtual code for treason or something close to it. It is no longer an event, a debacle and a tragedy, but a totem: Something went wrong. Someone’s at fault. Why not Clinton? In the latest Republican debate, Carly Fiorina, she of the hallucinatory abortion procedure, accused Clinton of having a “track record of lying about Benghazi.” Yeah, sure. But give us an example, please.
He is being too kind to the press. They are leading this as much as following it, gleefully going after Clinton on this nonsense, a group of nasty boys and mean girls competing for who can finally take her down. (If you are on twitter you can feel the excitement when a new "revelation" is published by one them from the flurry of breathless tweets and retweets and snarky bon mots that go with them.) It's obvious that it's taken on a life of its own with the pursuit itself becoming the point.
Still, it's a good thing to at least have a few reporters and columnists writing about the phenomenon itself. Simply holding up a mirror might have some effect at least around the edges. This is a sickness in our media landscape and anyone who thinks it's confined to the Clintons should ask Al Gore and John Kerry how this worked out for them. Certainly any Democrat who is cackling with delight that Hillary Clinton is being skewered with this sort of nonsense should stop and think about whether it's a good idea to empower the media and the Republicans this way. You never know who might find himself or herself on the receiving end of it.
Update: More insurrection:
Iron rule of Centrist Media Guild: Press criticism is invariably motivated by partisanship, so no substantive response ever necessary.
Chuck Schumer taking advantage of Democrats' fear of hippies
People complain that Chuck Schumer is the kind of guy who consistently works to keep more liberal Senators out of office. And it's true. But it's excused by the the establishment with the old saw that "this is a conservative country" and the Democratic Party must adapt to that by electing conservatives.
But how can we explain the fact that the future Senate Democratic leader is now just outright helping Republicans to win? He's working on a deal with Paul Ryan and vulnerable Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman on a big windfall tax for corporations and infrastructure plan:
“On a political level, Schumer should be honest about the fact that striking a deal would absolutely help Portman in his race,” the person said. “Helping him secure a corporate tax deal that will be a stinker for Democrats and a talking point for Portman is only a good move if your sole goal is self-promotion, even if it comes at the expense of the caucus.”
Several other Democrats shrugged off the possibility that Schumer is hurting his own chances at becoming majority leader by collaborating with Portman. They believe that beating Portman hinges on turnout in the presidential race and the Republican’s embrace of the broader GOP agenda — not a long-shot attempt working across party lines with one of the nation’s most powerful Democrats.
Senate leaders must “do what they have to do: What’s right for their state and right for the country,” said Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, who leads the Democrats’ campaign arm.
However, Republican officials said that this type of bipartisan effort is central to the campaign of the Ohio senator, who helped craft a deal on unemployment insurance that stalled in 2014 and is eager for a major accomplishment to point to on the trail.
“This is good for Portman,” one national GOP official said.
Schumer admits that this plan is a a long shot. But by helping Portman he's giving him some "bipartisan" cred that he will need to win his tough reelection fight. Does this make any sense?
The nutty caucus in the House is accused of refusing to allow the Speaker to govern the House of representatives and so they chased him out of office. And it's true. But I don't think there's any evidence that John Boehner was ever openly helping Democrats win re-election at the expense of his own party. This is an especially bold move you must admit.
It strikes me that one of the effects of GOP craziness will be that it perversely allows centrist Dem leaders like Schumer the ability to do more of this lest Democrats be accused of being just like the looney Republicans if they get upset and object. If there's one thing the establishment Democrats don't want it's to be compared to the looney Republicans. Schumer gets that better than anyone and he's already taking advantage of it.
I design factories for a living. When I get off a job, lots of other people get jobs: building them and working in them. And in this country, too. Does that make me a "job creator"? Or, as Damon Silvers of the AFL-CIO suggests in the video below, is that really just "a polite term for plutocrats"? As he says, maybe that is why billionaires buy PR firms.
Mike Lux has a piece up at Huffington Post promoting a progressive economic agenda that just might be more important than the next loony thing a Republican candidate for president says. A video in plain-speak condenses a lot of progressive thinking on the economy to 7:25 min. Lux writes:
Contrary to the current trickle-down economic orthodoxy, our economy will only grow and strengthen over the long run if we focus on helping more poor people climb the ladder into an expanding and more prosperous middle class.
"Rules are not the enemy of markets," Sen. Elizabeth Warren observes. "Rules are the necessary ingredient for healthy markets."
That is why my business law textbook is 2-1/2 in. thick. It is chapter after chapter of real-world examples of who did what to whom, who gets paid, and who gets left holding the bag, demonstrating precisely why rules exist in business. It only works if everyone understands and plays by them. Rules need to be enforced again.
All this government focus — or is it myopia? — on protecting the incentives of the investor class, on their rewards. Yet unless the carrots are sticks, no similar care for the incentives of the working class, and on designing an economy that rewards the people who actually do the work that adds the value that creates the wealth. What's wrong with this picture?
"Anything we can create we can reinvent," says Gabriella Lemus, president of Progressive Caucus.e The economy is not a product of nature. People designed it. People built it. People crafted the rules that govern it. If it no longer serves We the People as it should, we can and should improve the design. That is the American way, isn't it?
American Family Voices holds a conference in Washington, D.C. on Friday on building a new economy. Lux concludes, "We need to make our economy grow from the bottom up and middle out, rather than from the top down."
Building a factory from the top down? Now that would be a neat trick.
This Duck Dynasty guy unendorsed Bobby Jindal and endorsed Trump this week-end:
“I do like me some Trump, I’ve gotta admit. Here’s the deal. We’re both successful businessmen. We both have pretty big shows on television. We both have wives that are 1,000 times better looking than us so I like Trump.”
Big shot Reality TV celebrities have to stick together.
I actually suspect that the same people like both of these guys and for exactly the same reason: they "know" them from TV. I'm not sure it's any more complicated than that. Trump will remain popular with them as long as he remains that guy they know. If he morphs into something else he could have a problem. The question is, how many of these people are out there? And do they know they won't be able to vote with an app on their phones?
The talking heads are all talking about this picture as if it says everything about "the relationship" between the two leaders. The amount of armchair psychology coming from these tedious gasbags today is almost worse than the endless pundit wanking last week over the political significance of the Pope's emergence from an airplane.
It's nice that they are all talking about the issue of Syria and the crisis in the Middle east. It's great that they are doing programming around something other than emails and Donald Trump. But do they have to frame it around around puerile notions of male social rivalry?
In the past, Noah has described himself as a "progressive," but on Friday he provided more details on what that means. "I'm not a political progressive, but I consider myself a progressive person," he said. "What makes me a progressive, in my opinion, is the fact that I try to improve myself and by and large improve the world that I'm in — in the smallest way possible. I know that I cannot change the entire world, but I've always believed I can at least affect change in my world. So I try and do that. Progression, in my opinion, is often identifying shortcomings — whether it's views or the things you're doing in your life, your relationships — and trying to find the places where you improve on those."
Eventually, Noah offered some specifics. "In an American context, let's say gay rights or marriage policy," he said. "That's a progressive thing. I understand that in an American context, that skews liberal. Okay, that's fine, then."
"I'm not a political progressive, but I consider myself a progressive person." --Trevor Noah
But he refused to place himself in any partisan category. "I'm neither left nor right," he said. "We don't have rural conservatives in South Africa…even in the big parties, we have very conflicting views. It's interesting to come into this space and then point out from both sides what I think is right or wrong — or really just trying to find the truth in the matter without saying I have to find this truth because this is my side."
Noah also touched on his admiration for certain stances expressed by Rand Paul during the Republican debates. "There are certain issues from Rand Paul where I say, 'Yeah, I like that, I think we can move forward with that,'" he said. "When it comes to social security reform and ways of adjusting benefits for people, there's definitely a conversation to be had there. I'm not an expert in it, which is the best thing. I just keep on reading and absorbing…but I do believe there's a conversation to be had there."
I try not to judge these things before they happen. Shows have to evolve and find their groove. So I will eagerly tune in to see how it goes. But let's just say that this doesn't reassure me. I have little doubt that a political show with a person from another country at the helm could be great. Maybe a little more of an internationalist view is just the fresh kick the old program needs. But that comment shows that Noah may be taking a very typical and tiresome approach of some younger naive folks (mostly men, for some reason) who assume that both sides are equally wrong about everything so the best way to approach this is to take on from column A and one from column B and then pat yourself on the back for your tremendously brave "independence."
In the past Stewart had the habit of saying "can't we all get along" and that was bad enough. But he shed that in recent years for a deeper understanding of just how tremendously screwed up the right really is. This sounds like something more ominous but I guess we'll see. Trying to present himself as "a different kind of progressive" is worrisome. I don't suppose they could have found someone who already understood our political ecosystem? Or perhaps already understood the show's audience?
If he's as good as his iconoclastic hero Dave Chappelle then none of us will have complaints I'm sure. But that's a very high bar.
Trump's not going to let Fiorina get away with stealing his thunder. You want lies? He's got YUUUGE lies:
Under a President Donald Trump, some Americans will pay no income tax and the corporate income tax will fall to 15 percent, while the Treasury Department will maintain or even increase current revenue.
And while Trump emphasized the hit the rich would take under his tax plan unveiled Monday, he pairs the closing of loopholes and deductions with such a large rate reduction that it would likely add up to a substantial tax cut for many of the well-to-do.
The tax plan "is going to cost me a fortune," the billionaire candidate told a gathering of reporters at Trump Tower on Monday morning.
“We have an amazing code. It will be simple, it will be easy, it will be fair," he explained.
And it has the endorsement of Grover Norquist.
"Trump's plan is certainly consistent with the Taxpayer Protection Pledge," said Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, in an emailed statement. "Trump has said he opposes net tax hikes and has made clear that the real problem is spending. This plan is a reform, not a tax hike."
Norquist's pledge requires candidates to oppose all efforts to raise marginal tax rates for individuals or businesses. In an interview with Time magazine last month, however, Trump said that he was skeptical of signing Norquist's pledge because "I may want to switch taxes around." He added that the overall effect would not result in a net increase.
I think it's fair to say that if Norquist endorses it, it's not a tax hike.
At this point I think it's fair to say that Fiorina and Trump are the frontrunners for president --- of Bizarroworld.
Last week was one for the political books. The Pope brought his message about the need to help the poor and deal with climate change to America, apparently leading Catholic Supreme Court Justices Scalia, Alito and Thomas to boycott his historic speech to a joint session of Congress. At the same time, the evangelical activist community held its annual Values Voter Summit featuring many of the GOP presidential candidates who once would have been excited to celebrate the pope’s visit but were instead rather sullen and unhappy about his apparent desire to talk about that Jesus fellow and his message of love and tolerance instead of policing the sexual habits of women and scolding gay people for being gay.
And right in the middle of all this, the Speaker of the House abruptly resigned his seat because he was about to lose his office at the hands of extremists who want to shut down the government in order to destroy Planned Parenthood. Oh, and of the leading Republican presidential candidates, Dr. Ben Carson spent the week doubling down on his contention that Muslims must renounce their religion in order to prove they will follow the constitution — which says there must be no religious test for office. It’s been a memorable week for religion in American politics.
Indeed, the pope’s visit was received with ecstatic excitement by Catholics, the news media and a good many Democrats of all faiths. Catholics are always happy to see the Pope, for obvious reasons, but this one is particularly accessible and has such a serene and open demeanor that it’s even more thrilling than usual. This visit seems to have been a tremendous success among the faithful. The news media are excited because they must believe the pope’s visit is a ratings grabber since they’ve been covering his every movement from the moment his plane set down at Andrews Air Force base. Hours of watching planes on the tarmac of various airports and convoys of official vehicles is evidently something the viewing public has been hungry to see. And finally, Democrats are happy because this Pope is addressing their concerns during a political campaign in which the issues of inequality, climate change and poverty are front and center of their agenda. (And they are undoubtedly relieved that the Pope didn’t harp on the issue of women’s rights.)
The Pope’s visit was good for everyone but Republicans, many of whom are Catholics themselves and have spent the last few decades cultivating a Religious Right movement that merged many of the issues in common with the evangelical protestant and conservative jewish communities in America. There was a time not very long ago that the Catholic Church hierarchy was so openly biased in favor of the Republican Party that the American bishops wanted the Pope to excommunicate presidential candidate John Kerry for being pro-choice. I have written before about the growing schism in that coalition and it’s never been more obvious than during this past week. As Catholics all over the country were making pilgrimages to catch a glimpse of the pope, Jeb Bush, a practicing Catholic, found it necessary to distance himself from the pope on climate change, declaring that “he is not a scientist” (actually, he is) and “put aside Pope Francis on the subject of any political conversation,” which is wishful thinking on his part. Democrats still await the Bishops’ call for his excommunication for failing to follow the Pope’s teachings on climate change.
It was fascinating to watch the Values Voter Summit try to deal with the Catholic deviation from the Republican path. Neither Jeb Bush nor Carly Fiorina attended citing “scheduling difficulties.” In Bush’s case it makes sense that he would schedule something else since everyone but the money boys find him to be squishy on all their issues. Fiorina made a big mistake since this group is extolling her for her relentless Planned Parenthood lies and she could have expected to get a very warm reception. (They admire a politician who is blatantly dishonest for their cause. It shows commitment.) The rest of the candidates mostly ignored the fact that the pope was in the country at all, which could never have been anticipated a few years ago. It appears he is officially no longer welcome on their team.
Climate Hawks Vote: Obama Should Sue Exxon Under RICO
by Gaius Publius
This is a brief follow-up to the blockbuster Exxon story, about how the company knew as far back as 1977 that burning fossil fuel was a big cause of climate change, that they studied the problem for ten years, then abandoned all that good work and started funding the climate denier campaign — all based on a treasure trove of internal documents.
Our first story, on how much Exxon knew and when they knew it, is here. Our second, on an early call for a RICO investigation into fossil fuel companies — a parallel to the Big Tobacco investigation — is here. Our third, on the op-ed written last May by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, which also calls for a RICO investigation, is here.
The calls for a RICO investigation are starting again, thanks to the Exxon revelations. Here's Climate Hawks Vote, a climate-conscious PAC that scores congressional climate votes and vets candidates, with their own RICO request. It's in the form of a petition, and you, if you like, can sign it.
Sign Now: Prosecute Exxon For Deliberate Climate Denial
Newly revealed documents show that Exxon’s own scientists were aware of and studying the dangerous impacts of greenhouse gases in the 1970s and 1980s -- until Exxon’s leadership decided to shut down the research and promote climate denial instead, in order to protect the company’s unfathomably large profits.
The United States Department of Justice has the power to prosecute Exxon’s deliberate deception under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act - just as the DOJ did to the tobacco industry for knowingly lying about the dangers of cigarette smoking.