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“Clinton: I Will Fight For Flint”: The Children Of Flint Are Just As Precious As The Children Of Any Other Part Of America!

It was around the time that the Rev. Kenneth Stewart said he hoped a woman would be the next president that the faithful at Flint’s House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church stood and cheered.

Maybe the crowd was more boisterous because the people at the church knew that a possible future president was in the building Sunday morning — Madame Secretary, Stewart called her. But it is difficult to imagine the pastor’s soulful performance as anything but normal for a Baptist church in a town failed by its leaders and virtually forgotten by the country until this recent tragedy struck.

“I don’t know what kind of crisis you are in … but be not dismayed,” he screamed.

There are few words to properly do justice to what Stewart laid down on Sunday morning. It was beyond powerful. It caused him to sweat profusely and run out of breath following a 15-minute rap in which he scoffed at the water crisis troubling this city of nearly 100,000 — what is a lack of clean drinking water compared to the power of God?

It was a tough act for Hillary Clinton to follow.

Originally billed as a “community meeting,” as Stewart’s sermon went on it became clear that Clinton would simply be addressing the congregation from the pastor’s pulpit.

Prepared to tell Flint exactly what it wanted to hear, she performed well.

“The time for action is now.”

“One child with lead poisoning is one child too many.”

“It’s not just the infrastructure, it is a problem for human beings.”

Expand Head Start, and support home nurse programs, more money for special education — “All things that address the problems that lead poisoning can cause.”

Clinton tied in her experience as a senator for New York dealing with lead poisoning there — of the paint chip variety — and she made a promise.

“I will fight for you in Flint no matter how long it takes,” she said, garnering one of the louder applause breaks of her remarks.

With her own sermon stretching on, Clinton was looked on by many in Stewart’s church as a second savior. And without stepping too far into the mannerisms and voice inflections of a black preacher, she was more than willing to play that role.

“If what had happened in Gross Pointe, or Bloomfield Hills,” she said in reference to two mostly white, wealthy communities outside of Detroit, “I think we all know we would have had a solution yesterday.”

“The children of Flint are just as precious as the children of any other part of America!”

And the crowd cheered.

Clinton may have served as Flint’s savior on Sunday, but when she leaves the people here will be on their own again, looking to themselves or the original messiah to watch over them and fix this mess.

But having no safe drinking water is the weakest of challenges for the faithful, Stewart reminded his followers. And if you were in the purple pews of his church on Sunday, damned if you didn’t believe him.

“While you tryin’ to figure it out, God already done worked it out!” he proclaimed.

“If a city’s water supply died, can it live again?” he asked.

The answer is yes, because it is always yes as long as you recognize your lord and savior Jesus Christ. Faith cures all. It absolves sin, redeems the sinner, makes pure the wicked, cures the sick, and provides answers when they are in short supply, according to Stewart. Flint’s leaders failed its people, but what the government can’t do, the church and the community can.

Clearly a committed Clinton supporter, Stewart and many in the crowd believe she can help too.

Clinton, Stewart said, is “The one that we been waitin’ on.”


By: Justine Glawe, The Daily Beast, February 7, 2016

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Flint Water Crisis, Hillary Clinton, Lead Poisoining | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“It All Comes Down To Electability”: The Most Important Battle In Terms Of Who Will Actually Prevail

If you’re trying to choose between two candidates to represent the Democratic Party as their presidential nominee, there are some filters you can use to help you decide. I’ll just list out a few of them.

1. Is one more electable than the other?
a. because of their identity (region/age/gender/religion/race/ethnicity/sexual preference)
b. because of their record
c. because of their proposals
d. because of their ability/inability to unite the party
e. because of their ability/willingness to raise money
f. because of their potential to bring in new voters/get crossover votes
g. because of their willingness to play hardball and do whatever it takes
h. because their opponent will do more to energize the opposition?

2. Does one’s proposals and policies align more with your values than the other?

3. Does one have more relevant experiences than the other?
a. because they’ve had executive, cabinet level, or other managerial responsibilities, or more of them
b. because one has been at the center of power within the party for a long time and the other hasn’t
c. because one has a broader and more pertinent base of knowledge?

4. Does one seem to have better judgment than the other?
a. if they’ve differed on any big, contentious issues, who turned out to be right, or more nearly so?
b. has one ever made a really big error or offered advice that could have been catastrophic?
c. does either show a stronger tendency to learn from their mistakes?

5. How do you evaluate their moral character?
a. do they have a religious belief system that troubles you?
b. have they committed any serious ethical lapses?
c. are they consistent over time, when appropriate, or do they shift with the winds?
d. do you trust them to do what they say?
e. how honest do you think they are? What’s your estimate of their core integrity?

6. Can they govern?
a. have they governed effectively in the past, on any level?
b. do they understand how Congress works, and also how to get big, difficult bills through Congress?
c. how are their relationships with the media and on Capitol Hill?
d. what kind of powerful enemies and friends do they have?

7. Are their proposals and policies sound?
a. Irrespective of whether they can be implemented, do their policies make sense?
b. Are their policies aspirational or pragmatic and designed with a mind to a difficult Congress
c. How do you feel about their foreign policies, or the things they can do using executive power alone?

8. Finally, does either have a theory of the case for how the Democrats can break the deadlock in Congress and win back majorities on the local, state and federal level?

I think, if you’re honest, when you apply this test to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, you’ll see that they each “win” or look better on a lot of questions and “lose” or look worse on a lot, too.

If you’re like me, it’s almost split down the middle.

But there’s a big question in here, and it’s the first. Is one candidate more electable than the other?

If Hillary Clinton wins that argument, she’ll win the nomination easily. And, while this could change as more results come in during the primary or other shoes drop related to the email investigation, at the moment Clinton seems to have the better argument.

Sanders has an argument, too. But it’s much more theoretical. He says he can reshape the electorate by inspiring masses of new voters to participate and also by dominating among the youth vote in a way that Clinton cannot. If he keeps winning 80% of the under-30 vote in the more diverse states to come, we may have to start taking his theory very seriously. But, if he can’t convince people that he can actually win, all the areas where he’s strong look much less important.

In a real way, this battle over whether Sanders can or cannot win is the most important battle between these two candidates in terms of who will actually prevail. So, we should expect them to fight ferociously over this question. Fortunately, it will eventually become less of a he said/she said argument. If Sanders wins primaries by bringing out masses of new voters, winning crossovers and independents, and dominating among the youth vote, he’ll start to win people over to his theory of the case. If he can’t do that, and soon, the Democratic voters will go with what they see as the safer bet.


By: Martin Longman,  Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 8, 2016

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Long Series Of ‘Murder-Suicide’ Incidents”: If Rubio Falters In New Hampshire, Things Could Get Weird For Republicans

The big question for Republicans as the good citizens of New Hampshire prepare to vote tomorrow is whether Saturday night’s candidate debate fundamentally changed anything (not as fundamentally, of course, as Marco Rubio says Barack Obama wants to change America, but enough to mess up Rubio’s day). A John Kasich super-pac wisely did a one-day snap poll and quickly got the results out since they showed both Kasich and Jeb Bush moving past Marco Rubio into second and third place, respectively. Independent pollsters had generally shown Kasich with a bit of a buzz even before the debate; one of the two tracking polls that captured Sunday’s sentiment (from ARG) had Kasich even with Rubio at 16 percent. A Monmouth poll that ended pre-debate on Saturday basically had Rubio, Kasich, Bush, and Cruz in a four-way tie. All indicators show at least as much voter volatility as in Iowa.

What’s different from Iowa, of course, is that virtually no one is doubting Donald Trump will win in New Hampshire. And Ted Cruz’s exact order of finish probably doesn’t matter a great deal, either. Indeed, from the perspective of Team Cruz, keeping as many Establishment candidates alive as possible to mess with Marco Rubio might be worth a poor outcome for their own candidate in a state where his expectations have been low.

For any of the Governors (as they are generally being called at present) who top Rubio in New Hampshire, it means survival for another round. Chris Christie, Rubio’s tormenter Saturday night, has the most ground to make up in New Hampshire, and also has the weakest prospects going forward, with no particular state in sight where he has any kind of natural base until well down the road. It’s also pretty well-known from a long series of “murder-suicide” incidents in political contests that the candidate who damages a rival in a multi-candidate field is often not the beneficiary.

So Kasich is the most likely Marco-beater tomorrow night, with Jeb Bush a decent possibility as well. Either or both would presumably move on to South Carolina, where they’d make an already-long-shot Rubio win over Trump and Cruz significantly more difficult. The same dynamics might be in play in the Super Tuesday primaries of March 1. But it’s unclear whether either of these worthies can hang on until March 15, when their home states hold winner-take-all primaries. In theory this is when Jeb, if he is still around and can somehow top not only his fellow Floridian but Trump and Cruz as well, could knock Rubio right out of the race.

That’s a distant revenge fantasy for Jebbie’s long-suffering backers at present. But the more important point is that a Rubio fade in New Hampshire would provide massive incentives for the surviving governors to go after him with a clawhammer — even as Trump and Cruz pile up delegates in the relatively conservative, evangelical-heavy array of states on the near horizon. In other words, Rubio’s debate stumble could turn out to be the very moment the Establishment most feared. You’d best believe that at some of the choicest Beltway watering holes tomorrow night, there will be prayers that Rubio finishes ahead of the Governors after all and creates the three-man race that looked so likely just a few days ago.


By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, February 8, 2016

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Marco Rubio, New Hampshire Primaries | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“No Doubt It Works?”: Donald Trump Wants To Reclassify Waterboarding So It’s No Longer A War Crime For Him To Order It

While there was some discussion among the Republican candidates at Saturday night’s debate in New Hampshire as to whether or not waterboarding was a form of torture (it is), Donald Trump went below and beyond everyone else on stage to insist that not only would he reinstitute waterboarding against America’s enemies, he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” as well. Speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday morning, Trump elaborated on his position and confirmed that he would “go through a process and get [waterboarding] declassified” as a war crime in order to use it, “at a minimum,” against ISIS if he’s elected president. So far, Trump has not explained what forms of torture he would bring back that are worse than waterboarding, which is essentially simulated drowning. “You can say what you want I have no doubt that it does work in terms of information and other things,” Trump insisted to Tapper, though it’s worth noting that torture doesn’t actually work when it comes to gathering useful intelligence from prisoners.

Regarding the rest of the GOP field’s responses to the torture question Saturday night, Ted Cruz stood by the Bush-administration’s discredited assurance that waterboarding was a form of enhanced interrogation, not torture, though either way he wouldn’t “bring it back in any sort of widespread use.” Jeb Bush changed his position, from saying he wouldn’t rule it out, to last night saying that he was happy with Congress’s ban on waterboarding as it was. Marco Rubio dodged the question by insisting it would be inappropriate to discuss his future plans for America’s interrogation techniques. Regardless, though Rubio missed the Senate vote on banning torture, he has said he would have voted against the ban, and on Saturday night championed the idea of filling up Guantánamo with new prisoners to interrogate.

Though he was not asked about it on Saturday night, New Jersey governor Chris Christie has previously said he did not consider waterboarding torture and would not rule it out as an interrogation method. Carly Fiorina supports the practice as well. Ben Carson has made a statement that seems to suggest he would consider waterboarding prisoners, too. It’s not clear what John Kasich’s position is.


By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, February 7, 2016

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Enhanced Interrogation, Torture, Waterboarding | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Secret Freak Flag”: Rubio’s Robotic Message In The New Hampshire Debate Was Code-Talk To Right-Wing Conspiracy Nuts

Until the returns roll in from Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, we probably won’t know whether Marco Rubio’s poor performance in Saturday night’s Republican candidate debate was an illusion of the punditry or a real stumble that could open the door to a comeback by his Establishment rivals. In the interim, it’s worth wondering why Rubio went robotic on the particular argument that Barack Obama knows exactly what he is doing with the terrible policies that Republicans think are wrecking the country at home and abroad.

The most popular theory was well articulated by Michael Grunwald at Politico: Acutely aware that his critics think of him as a “Republican Obama,” it was important for Rubio to argue that someone as green as he is could be a competent chief executive. In other words, it was all about him, not really Obama.

But that take focuses on the “knows what he’s doing” portion of the “robotic” talking point. As veteran conservative-watcher Dave Weigel of the Washington Post noted Sunday (as did I a bit more tentatively Saturday night), the rest of what Rubio kept saying is evocative of seven years of conspiracy theories from hard-core right-wing gabbers:

[T]he idea of Obama as a saboteur, who “knows exactly” how to undermine American greatness, is deeply ingrained on the right. The rest of Rubio’s answer, lost in the torrent of mockery, was this:

“Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country, to make America more like the rest of the world. That’s why he passed Obamacare and the stimulus and Dodd-Frank and the deal with Iran. It is a systematic effort to change America.”

This should be familiar to anyone in the tea party movement, and especially familiar to anyone who’s read the Obama-era work of Dinesh D’Souza. Starting with a 2009 cover story in Forbes, D’Souza posited that the president was “the last anticolonial,” a man inculcated with anti-Western values, whose decisions were best understood if one asked how they weakened America.

“Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of neocolonial power within America,” D’Souza wrote. “In his worldview, profits are a measure of how effectively you have ripped off the rest of society, and America’s power in the world is a measure of how selfishly it consumes the globe’s resources and how ruthlessly it bullies and dominates the rest of the planet.”

Over the next few years, D’Souza adapted that thesis into a book and movie. He found common cause with Glenn Beck, who in his Fox News heyday portrayed every Obama decision as part of a long-term left-wing strategy to destroy wealth and empower the Third World. Beck obsessed over a stock phrase from Obama’s 2008 stump speech — that he would help “fundamentally transform America” — and insisted that he had given the game away.

This is precisely the 2008 stump speech that a host of Twitter critics confronted me with Saturday night when I suggested Rubio was blowing a dog whistle to conspiracy theorists.

If Weigel and I (and the folks at Media Matters, and probably other commentators) are onto something, then why would Rubio choose to get in touch with his inner Glenn Beck in “moderate” New Hampshire? Well, for one thing, there is a vein of tea-party sentiment in the Granite State, even if Christian-right types are a bit thin on the ground. And for another thing, Rubio is undoubtedly looking ahead to a long string of contests in much more conservative states that begin on February 20 in Nevada and South Carolina. And finally, the whole essence of a “dog whistle” is to say something that the initiated understand at a lizard-brain level as a profound message without other people being offended — a particularly useful device to a candidate like Rubio who is trying to straddle ideological lines in the GOP. To “moderates” and to media observers innocent of the Beck/D’Souza meme (which Dr. Ben Carson has also alluded to), the question of whether Obama is incompetent or just wrong may seem like a less-filling/tastes-great distinction. So there’s nothing to lose by waving a secret freak flag to the citizens of Wingnuttia — unless you wave it one time too many and Chris Christie points and laughs.


By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, February 8, 2016

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Conspiracy Theories, GOP Primary Debates, Marco Rubio, New Hampshire Primaries | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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