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“Oh No, Non-Sense Noonan, Again”: Conservative Pundit Blames Obama For Trump’s Rise

Those familiar with Internet memes have probably come across the “Thanks, Obama” phenomenon. President Obama himself has even had some fun with it.

The basic idea is simple: the president’s critics have grown to detest Obama with such blinding and irrational hatred that they have a habit of blaming him for things he has nothing to do with. When anything goes wrong with any facet of anyone’s life, just point the finger at the White House and say, sarcastically, “Thanks, Obama.”

The meme came to mind this morning reading Peggy Noonan’s latest Wall Street Journal column in which she blames the president for, of all things, Donald Trump’s rise as a Republican contender.

The only thing I feel certain of is how we got here [with Trump’s standing in GOP polls]. There are many reasons we’re at this moment, but the essential political one is this: Mr. Obama lowered the bar. He was a literal unknown, an obscure former state legislator who hadn’t completed his single term as U.S. senator, but he was charismatic, canny, compelling. He came from nowhere and won it all twice. All previously prevailing standards, all usual expectations, were thrown out the window.

Anyone can run for president now….

Look, Noonan’s contempt for the president is hardly a secret, but blaming Obama for Trump is silly.

For one thing, the president wasn’t a “literal unknown.” He was a rising star in Democratic politics who gained a national profile at his party’s 2004 national convention. It’s true that Obama only had 12 years of experience in public office when he was elected president, but (a) that’s triple the number of years Mitt Romney had under his belt; (b) it’s largely consistent with the historical average for modern American presidents; and (c) and it’s more than many of the leading Republican presidential hopefuls have this year.

Noonan complains, “Anyone can run for president now.” Well, yes, and anyone could run for president before. President Obama has had an enormous impact on the nation’s direction, but eligibility standards for the White House remain unaffected.

The argument seems to be that Obama, by having the audacity to easily win two national elections with only 12 years in elected office and without earning the praise of Republican pundits, has made it easier for unqualified candidates to excel. The fact remains, however, that voters have seen all kinds of inexperienced and ill-prepared candidates over the years – before and after President Obama – and it’s up to Americans to decide whether or not those candidates are worthy of power.

Obama earned their trust and his successes and accomplishments should speak for themselves. Plenty of less prepared candidates have fared far worse.

As for holding the president responsible for Trump, let’s not forget that the reality-show host entered the 2016 contest as something of a joke. We’re not talking about “a literal unknown” taking advantage of lowered standards; we’re talking about a well-known celebrity who entered the race with roughly 3% support.

His numbers soared, however, when far-right voters liked what they heard from the candidate.

Given this, it seems Peggy Noonan is blaming the wrong culprit. Trump’s rise isn’t the result of President Obama’s two decades of public service; it’s the result of the Republican base embracing a clownish candidate.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 16, 2015

October 17, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Peggy Noonan | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Will Jindal Make It To Caucus Night?”: In Weaker Financial Position Than Candidates Rick Perry And Scott Walker Were Before They Quit

On January 10, 2016, Bobby Jindal will without question obtain one of his heart’s great desires: liberation from any further obligation to the People of the Gret Stet of Loosiana. As noted here often over the past couple of years, the Gret Stet has become less and less fond of its often-absentee governor, and at the moment he’s doing better in presidential polls in Iowa than he is among the Republicans who know him best.

Three weeks after he becomes a former governor, Iowa will hold its Caucuses. But as third-quarter fundraising numbers drift into view, the question is whether Bobby has enough money to super-size his lunch order, much less organize an effective Caucus performance. Here’s The Hill’s Jonathan Swan:

The presidential campaign of Republican candidate Bobby Jindal looks barely viable, with the Louisiana governor finishing the most recent fundraising quarter with just $261,000 in the bank.

Jindal’s campaign spent more than it raised, taking in $579,000 and spending $832,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30.

And here’s the hammer:

The Louisiana governor is arguably in a weaker financial position than former candidates Rick Perry and Scott Walker were before they quit the race last month.

While Perry had less cash in hand than Jindal — the former Texas governor had just $45,000 in his campaign account last quarter — he at least had a well-funded supporting super-PAC.

Both Perry and Walker benefited from super-PACs that had more than $15 million that they could spend to boost the candidates. But the main pro-Jindal super-PAC, “Believe Again,” disclosed contributions of $3.7 million in its midyear report.

Now Bobby’s also got a “dark money” 527 nonprofit group plumping for him, and all the outside groups pulled in a reported $8 million as of July. But the Super PAC’s been spending some serious coin on Iowa ads, where Bobby’s actually been doing more paid media than anybody else. So it’s unclear how much is left to get Jindal to the end of the year (Super-PACs and 527s only report semi-annually). What he really needs is some fresh evidence he’s doing as well in Iowa as a September NBC/WSJ poll indicated, which placed him tied with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio at 6%.

For now, I’d guess Bobby’s staff probably isn’t going to get paid for a while, and non-campaign groups will do more and more of what the campaign ought to be doing. But his money troubles have already caught the attention of media vultures, who will be watching his campaign closely for signs of non-vitality. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, The Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, October 16, 2016

October 17, 2015 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, GOP Campaign Donors, Iowa Caucuses | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Democrats, Republicans And Wall Street Tycoons”: Financiers Resent Any Constraints On Ability To Gamble With Other People’s Money

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had an argument about financial regulation during Tuesday’s debate — but it wasn’t about whether to crack down on banks. Instead, it was about whose plan was tougher. The contrast with Republicans like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, who have pledged to reverse even the moderate financial reforms enacted in 2010, couldn’t be stronger.

For what it’s worth, Mrs. Clinton had the better case. Mr. Sanders has been focused on restoring Glass-Steagall, the rule that separated deposit-taking banks from riskier wheeling and dealing. And repealing Glass-Steagall was indeed a mistake. But it’s not what caused the financial crisis, which arose instead from “shadow banks” like Lehman Brothers, which don’t take deposits but can nonetheless wreak havoc when they fail. Mrs. Clinton has laid out a plan to rein in shadow banks; so far, Mr. Sanders hasn’t.

But is Mrs. Clinton’s promise to take a tough line on the financial industry credible? Or would she, once in the White House, return to the finance-friendly, deregulatory policies of the 1990s?

Well, if Wall Street’s attitude and its political giving are any indication, financiers themselves believe that any Democrat, Mrs. Clinton very much included, would be serious about policing their industry’s excesses. And that’s why they’re doing all they can to elect a Republican.

To understand the politics of financial reform and regulation, we have to start by acknowledging that there was a time when Wall Street and Democrats got on just fine. Robert Rubin of Goldman Sachs became Bill Clinton’s most influential economic official; big banks had plenty of political access; and the industry by and large got what it wanted, including repeal of Glass-Steagall.

This cozy relationship was reflected in campaign contributions, with the securities industry splitting its donations more or less evenly between the parties, and hedge funds actually leaning Democratic.

But then came the financial crisis of 2008, and everything changed.

Many liberals feel that the Obama administration was far too lenient on the financial industry in the aftermath of the crisis. After all, runaway banks brought the economy to its knees, causing millions to lose their jobs, their homes, or both. What’s more, banks themselves were bailed out, at potentially large expense to taxpayers (although in the end the costs weren’t very large). Yet nobody went to jail, and the big banks weren’t broken up.

But the financiers didn’t feel grateful for getting off so lightly. On the contrary, they were and remain consumed with “Obama rage.”

Partly this reflects hurt feelings. By any normal standard, President Obama has been remarkably restrained in his criticisms of Wall Street. But with great wealth comes great pettiness: These are men accustomed to obsequious deference, and they took even mild comments about bad behavior by some of their number as an unforgivable insult.

Furthermore, while the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill enacted in 2010 was much weaker than many reformers had wanted, it was far from toothless. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proved highly effective, and the “too big to fail” subsidy appears to have mostly gone away. That is, big financial institutions that would probably be bailed out in a future crisis no longer seem to be able to raise funds more cheaply than smaller players, perhaps because “systemically important” institutions are now subject to extra regulations, including the requirement that they set aside more capital.

While this is good news for taxpayers and the economy, financiers bitterly resent any constraints on their ability to gamble with other people’s money, and they are voting with their checkbooks. Financial tycoons loom large among the tiny group of wealthy families that is dominating campaign finance this election cycle — a group that overwhelmingly supports Republicans. Hedge funds used to give the majority of their contributions to Democrats, but since 2010 they have flipped almost totally to the G.O.P.

As I said, this lopsided giving is an indication that Wall Street insiders take Democratic pledges to crack down on bankers’ excesses seriously. And it also means that a victorious Democrat wouldn’t owe much to the financial industry.

If a Democrat does win, does it matter much which one it is? Probably not. Any Democrat is likely to retain the financial reforms of 2010, and seek to stiffen them where possible. But major new reforms will be blocked until and unless Democrats regain control of both houses of Congress, which isn’t likely to happen for a long time.

In other words, while there are some differences in financial policy between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders, as a practical matter they’re trivial compared with the yawning gulf with Republicans.


By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, October 16, 2015

October 17, 2015 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Financial Industry, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Tell The Truth And Shame The Devil”: Why Diehard Defenders Will Never Stop Believing Bill Cosby Is Innocent

My grandmother loved her Jesus, her husband, and her pastor—and not always in that order. Say a foul word about one or the other and you had better tell it walking.

Bill Cosby is not a pastor and, if your name is not Camille, he almost certainly is not your husband. But for some people, it seems, Cosby is a god—deified based on his career as a legendary comedian and actor, a Hollywood icon who generously invested countless millions in historically black institutions.

When I was invited to write a cover story for Ebony magazine and offer an analysis of that legacy, I accepted the assignment with both honor and trepidation. My focus was not on the allegations but on how Cosby’s widely acclaimed, record-breaking television show came to be the standard against which black families would be measured—by others and by us. What social model did it reinforce, and does its power endure in the face of Cosby’s crumbling public reputation?

Over the course of 72 breathtaking hours, I interviewed dozens of thought leaders, cultural experts, industry veterans, and academicians about that legacy and how deeply it was intertwined with his on-screen fictional persona, Heathcliff Huxtable. An excerpt of the cover story was released online Thursday afternoon.

As the cover art began to circulate on social media, both support and pushback began almost immediately. The cover, a framed photograph of the fictional Huxtable family behind shattered glass, evoked strong feelings, even before the 3,000-word story itself hit newsstands. Some voices were glad to see the story about how Cosby’s legacy and that of his alter ego, Cliff, have been challenged in recent months. Others cried foul, angered because they believe Cosby himself is “under attack.”

“It’s difficult for black people to accept the idea that Cosby could be guilty…” University of Connecticut professor Jelani Cobb told me recently. “Certainly the long history of prominent African Americans being torn down in public lends itself to the idea that Cosby is being targeted because of his wealth and influence.”

I have been reporting on and writing about the impact of the rape allegations since comedian Hannibal Buress unceremoniously outed Cosby last year. Truth be told, Cosby’s sexual proclivities were the biggest un-kept secret in Hollywood. When he came and left town, people talked. So Buress was only saying what many already believed.

My grandmother might have been proud to see my writing land on the cover of Ebony, long heralded as the bible of black celebrity, culture, and social progress. Inarguably, though, she would not have approved of me writing about a man she revered in her living days. Still, even in her disappointment, Grandma Alice would have been quick to say, “Tell the truth and shame the Devil.”

I stuffed away my own experiences, forgot for a moment that I had been the victim of child molestation and later drugged and raped by a high school football coach. I forgot who I was and focused on the women. I interviewed two dozen people who are experts on everything from rape culture to television programming, from the evolution of parenting to the impact of the Reagan-era “war on drugs.”

I had almost grown numb to the increasing number of women who claim Cosby drugged and raped them. The allegations stretch back nearly 50 years and, if the allegations are true, he did not discriminate.

They women are black, white, middle class, wealthy, and poor. Some are household names, while others could slip in and out of the local grocery store with little notice. They have long hair, short hair. They are graying brunettes and strawberry blondes. There is even one outsize Afro. They are former supermodels, actresses, talent agency secretaries, dancers, and cocktail servers.

Frankly, I thought I was over it. I thought I had successfully put it all behind me. Then came Thursday.

As I scrolled through my Twitter mentions, raising a brow (and a mute button) to objectors who had plenty to say but who had not read the unreleased story, a colleague circulated a related news item. In the middle of our afternoon editorial meeting, I sat staring at my laptop.

“She was a gawt-damned kid,” I muttered to myself.

I kept saying it, over and over again, as I read and reread the news. Another woman had come forward Wednesday to file a civil lawsuit. It appears Renita Chaney Hill was, at the time of her alleged assault, the youngest Cosby victim.

Hill says she was still in high school when she met him. In the lawsuit, she accuses him of plying her with alcohol that caused her to black out and says she woke up “oftentimes nude, disheveled, confused and disoriented.”

She was a teenager, just a couple of years older than me. “She was a gawt-damned kid,” I said again.

Now about 50 years old, Hill is suing because she believes Cosby, his attorney, and his wife made particularly defamatory public statements after she went public with her story. According to the court filing, Hill is alleging defamation and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” She claims their actions were “egregious in nature.”

To say I was disappointed about the initial round of allegations is an understatement, even if I have always been bothered by Cosby’s brand of respectability politics. For the record, I do not question the veracity of the women’s stories based on the number of years it took them to come forward. After all, it took me nearly three decades to speak up about what happened to me.

“Mr. Cosby’s vast resources and high-priced team retaliating against his accusers—that deterred women coming forward for years, and still scares them even now,” Lisa Bloom, a lawyer for model and Cosby accuser Janice Dickinson, told me as I was researching the Ebony cover piece.

“When women speak their truth out loud, it is empowering,” Bloom continued. “Let the perpetrator hide his head in shame. Let him close the door and remain quiet.”

Dr. Cobb was right when he said, “It’s too early to tell what Cosby’s legacy will be ultimately.” It is a complicated question, but one that deserves to be asked.

However, if your defense of Cosby means blindly accepting his innocence, if it involves defaming, marginalizing, and lobbing salacious personal attacks at his accusers: Tell it walking.


By: Goldie Taylor, The Daily Beast, October 15, 2015

October 17, 2015 Posted by | Bill Cosby, Black Families, Rape, Sexual Molestation | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The House Kharijites”: The Freedom Caucus’ Forebears; The Original Islamic Extremists

So how is it exactly that even the most conservative leaders among House Republicans, such as Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), have become vilified as a bunch of sellouts by the Tea Party base and its faction in Congress, the Freedom Caucus?

The compromises of governance have truly infuriated the House GOP’s far-right wing — and now they want it all to stop. The participants in the current crisis over the speakership, with a minority fringe of House Republicans threatening to vote against the GOP leadership itself on the House floor, are now going way over the top in a variety of ways: comparing the leaders to dictators; calling for the rise of “Valley Forge Americans” in the spirit of the American Revolution; boasting that they’ve taken down their own party leaders; and issuing a set of demands for total purism that would trigger a government shutdown (plus the impeachment of the heads of the IRS).

But there might actually be a great basis of comparison for these wreckers, who prize the cause so much that the party itself has become their hostage: The Freedom Caucus mirror nothing else so much as the earliest Muslim extremists, known as the Kharijites — although the caucus members are probably the last people on Earth who would admit to the resemblance.

As is commonly known in the West, the seeds of the Muslim schism began after the death of Muhammad, with the question of succession creating rival camps around the Prophet’s father-in-law and partner Abu Bakr, whose faction became the majority Sunni; or his son-in-law Ali, whose followers are the minority Shia.

Ali did in fact become the caliph, after 26 years of deference to other men — but by the time this occurred, the Muslim empire itself was splitting in the first Islamic civil war, which erupted after an angry mob had assassinated the previous caliph Uthman.

After years of horrific bloodshed, resulting in the deaths of possibly many tens of thousands of people, Caliph Ali eventually entered into negotiations with his primary rival, the breakaway leader Muawiyah, to reach a settlement that ultimately granted huge concessions of autonomy (and even equality) to the latter.

And that’s when Ali’s most ardent followers got really angry — at Ali, for betraying God’s holy will that had animated the cause of… Ali.

From an excellent book on the history of Islam, Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes, by Tamim Ansary:

Compromising with the enemy disappointed a faction of Ali’s most committed followers, and these younger, more radical of his partisans split away. They came to be known as Kharijites, “ones who departed.” This splinter group reformulated the ideals of Ali’s followers into a revolutionary new doctrine: blood and genealogy meant nothing, they said. Even a slave had the right to lead the community. The only qualification was character. No one was born to leadership, and mere election could not transform someone into the khalifa. Whoever exhibited the greatest authentic devotion to Muslim values simply was the khalifa, no election needed. He was, however, accountable to the people. If he ever fell a hair short of complete moral excellence, he forfeited his right to high office and someone else became khalifa. Through what actual machinery all this demotion and promotion was to occur, the Kharijites didn’t say. Not their problem. They only knew that Ali had squandered his entitlement and needed to step down; and since he didn’t step down, one young Kharijite took matters into his own hands. In the year 40 AH [approx. 661 C.E.], this hothead assassinated Ali.

The lesson here: If the cause is made out to be holy and sacrosanct, then not even the most dedicated leaders are safe from the true believers.


By: Eric Kleefeld, The National Memo, October 16, 2015

October 17, 2015 Posted by | House Freedom Caucus, House Republicans, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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