mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Glorious Pageantry Of The GOP Process”: Ted Cruz And Donald Trump Are Fighting Over Their Wives. This Was Inevitable

Throughout the political world, people are expressing shock, dismay, and disgust at the argument that has broken out between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz over their wives. But this shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. In fact, it was all but inevitable.

To catch you up briefly: First an anti-Trump super PAC put out an online ad directed at Mormon women in Utah with a picture of Trump’s wife Melania posing nude, on the absurd grounds that it constituted a reason to vote against Trump. Then Trump accused Cruz of orchestrating the super PAC ad, and threatened to “spill the beans” on Cruz’s wife Heidi. Then Trump retweeted a picture of Melania looking like the professional model she was next to a particularly unflattering photo of Heidi, with the caption, “The images are worth a thousand words.” Then Cruz said, “Donald, you’re a sniveling coward. Leave Heidi the hell alone.”

Truly an inspiring moment in the glorious pageantry of the democratic process. But this is what you get when you make Donald Trump the frontrunner of your party. If you know anything about Trump, you should have known that it was going to come to this.

As he does so often, Trump takes what is ordinarily implied in politics and makes it literal. Republicans have long insinuated that their candidates are more manly than their Democratic opponents, whether it was saying that John Kerry “looks French” or mocking Al Gore for wearing “earth tones.” Trump, on the other hand, just comes out and suggests that he has a big penis and his wife is hotter than the other guy’s.

You don’t have to be a trained psychologist to discern that Trump views women largely as objects whose purpose is to demarcate, through their physical appearance, the relative positions men occupy in an eternal contest for domination and status. Just look at his marital history. He married his first wife Ivana, a Czech model who was a mere three years younger than him, when she was 28. Fourteen years later, when Ivana was 42, he divorced her and married Marla Maples, with whom he’d been having an affair. Maples was 29 at the time, and 17 years younger than Trump; a few years later he divorced her as well.  Then he married his current wife Melania, a former Slovenian model who is 24 years his junior. Melania is now 45, and if I were her I’d be looking over my shoulder.

Trump has a long history of misogynistic comments directed at women who cross him (Franklin Foer documents many of them here), and one common strain running through them is the presumption that women’s worth is a function of their appearance. When he wants to be nice to a woman, he tells her she’s beautiful. And when he tangles with another man, he’ll sometimes seek to establish his superiority by asserting that he’s had sex with more women than his opponent; in other words, he has more trophies, so he’s the dominant male.

There was simply no way that Trump was going to get into a one-on-one contest with another candidate and not eventually try to puff out his chest and claim this kind of sexual primacy. Up until now he’s done it to other opponents in slightly more subtle ways (calling Jeb Bush “low energy,” referring to Marco Rubio as “little Marco”), but as the stakes get higher and we near the end of the primaries, his more base instincts and impulses are obviously coming out.

As I argued last week, if Trump and Hillary Clinton are the nominees, this election will likely produce the largest gender gap in American political history. Trump’s unfavorable ratings among women have already hit 75 percent in some polls. And it’s important to understand that controversies like the one with Cruz, where Trump says or does something that women (and plenty of men) immediately understand as sexist, are going to happen again and again, particularly with Clinton as the Democratic nominee. That’s because Trump can’t help himself, and doesn’t even seem to realize what he’s doing. For instance, consider this incident:

“I’d hit you the same way,” Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd in February when pressed on the issue. “I mean, you are the perfect one to ask that question — you have been, you know, under fire from me for a long time, and you are far from a woman.”

“I think there are some women — there’s one sitting right over there in the beautiful red dress. You see that woman over there? I have great respect for that woman over there,” he said, as Todd clarified to viewers that Trump was talking about veteran reporter Andrea Mitchell.

The lack of self-awareness on display here is truly spectacular. Trump thinks that he should be exonerated from the charge of sexism because he attacks men too. And then as proof, he points to Andrea Mitchell, one of the most recognizable journalists in America, and refers to her as “one sitting right over there in the beautiful red dress.” I’m sure he thought he was complimenting her by noting her appearance approvingly. He just doesn’t get it.

As soon as he has the nomination in hand, Trump will start pivoting to the general election in many ways, by changing his emphasis and moderating some of his positions. I’m sure he’ll say, as he has before, that he’ll be great for women because nobody values women more than he does. He may even point to a couple of policy positions, like his opposition to defunding Planned Parenthood, as proof. But every time one of these controversies happens, it digs him deeper and deeper into a hole with women voters, one that’s going to be almost impossible for him to climb out of. And there will be a lot more of them.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, March 25, 2016

March 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Women | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Just Being A Strong Conservative Doesn’t Help The Party”: Cruz And Rubio Engage In Battle For Nevada Mormons

Deep divisions among Nevada Republicans over a $1 billion tax increase pushed by the state’s Republican governor are helping to shape the battle between Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas to win this state’s presidential caucuses — the first nominating contest in the West.

Rubio’s backers are eagerly eyeing Nevada as they look for an early-voting state the candidate could win. Although Rubio is widely seen as one of the leading contenders for the GOP nomination, the early primary states mostly look unpromising for him.

Cruz, by contrast, leads the polls in Iowa, which holds the first contest of the season on Feb. 1, and is well-positioned in several other conservative states that hold early contests.

With the stakes high here, the two freshman senators are vying to gain the support of a key voting bloc within the state’s GOP — members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who mostly lined up behind fellow Mormon Mitt Romney in the last two election cycles.

Mormons make up only about 4 percent of the state’s population, but their influence in Nevada’s Republican caucuses is much greater. In 2008 and 2012, members of the church accounted for nearly a quarter of Republican caucusgoers, entrance polls showed.

Both Cruz and Rubio — who attended an LDS church in Las Vegas in his youth — have enlisted politically prominent members of the church, and now the fault line on taxes that split the state’s Republicans this spring and summer has come to the forefront.

Rubio’s side includes prominent backers of the tax increase, aimed at expanding the state’s budget for schools, which Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval pushed through the GOP-controlled Legislature in May and June. The tax hike, the largest in state history, was strongly opposed by a large portion of the Republicans in the Legislature.

Also among Rubio’s backers is Bruce Woodbury, a Mormon and former Clark County commissioner who is so admired in southern Nevada that the I-215 beltway around Las Vegas is named after him.

Four years ago, Woodbury appeared in radio advertisements urging supporters to vote for Romney. He plans a similar effort this cycle for Rubio, working alongside the campaign’s state director, Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison — another prominent Mormon — to build support ahead of the Feb. 23 caucuses.

“An essential factor is winning the election in November,” Woodbury said after a recent Rubio rally in a hotel ballroom a short drive from the Las Vegas Strip. “He has all the essentials: a powerful life story, he’s moderate — he can appeal to all segments of the electorate.”

His son, Boulder City Mayor Rod Woodbury, and two City Council members — all church members — also back Rubio.

Among the leaders of the opposition to the tax increase was Assemblyman Ira Hansen, a Republican who represents Sparks, just east of Reno. Hansen, also a Mormon church member, is now part of Cruz’s state leadership team.

“You see it at the national level and here: Cruz folks are much more conservative than Rubio’s,” said Hansen. “When it comes to social issues, when it comes to tax increases, if you’re a conservative — a true conservative — then Ted Cruz is your candidate.

“I think that Mormons and just Republicans in general want a true conservative who will stand for conservative values in Washington, D.C.,” he said.
Hansen says Rubio’s past support of bipartisan immigration reform, which included a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally, is also a negative for him in the state’s caucuses. It’s an issue on which Cruz has repeatedly assailed Rubio, saying that the Florida senator supports “amnesty” for those who have violated immigration laws.

Rubio’s campaign has two field offices in the state — one in Las Vegas, the other in Reno — and nearly a dozen paid staffers. The Cruz campaign has a similar infrastructure.

Cruz has enlisted Paul Workman, a former bishop in the Mormon church and a member of Romney’s 2012 Nevada finance committee, who says his job is to make sure LDS members know about Cruz’s record as a conservative.

Cruz “talks about his faith with confidence and how it guides him,” Workman said. “There’s a real openness to other faiths that he has. It appeals to me and I’m sure other Mormons as well.”

At a recent religious round table in Las Vegas hosted by the Cruz campaign, Workman spoke with evangelical Christian pastor Rafael Cruz, the Texas senator’s father. The two talked about Mormon doctrine — of salvation, atonement and family — and how to appeal to LDS voters. Workman says he was impressed by the elder Cruz’s knowledge of Mormonism, which he says will help bolster the senator’s LDS support.

Rubio supporters, however, say Cruz’s brand of staunch conservatism will not help the party win in November.

Heidi Wixom, a mother of six, lives a few blocks from a Mormon church in her eastside Las Vegas neighborhood. After rallying behind Romney in the last two elections, she remained torn for much of the summer and fall about which candidate to back. Electability in November was vital in her decision to support Rubio, she said.

“Just being a strong conservative doesn’t help the party,” she said. “You have to have shown you can work alongside Democrats; even if right now that doesn’t seem ideal, it will pay off in the general election.”

 

By: Kurtis Lee, The National Memo, January 2, 2015

January 3, 2016 Posted by | Marco Rubio, Mormons, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Stupid Pills”: The Politics of Fraudulent Dietary Supplements

One pill makes you smarter. One pill makes you thin. One pill makes you happy. Another keeps you energized. And so what if tests conducted by scientists in New York and Canada have found that the substances behind these miracle enhancements may contain nothing more than powdered rice or houseplants. If enough people believe they’ll be healthier, well, it’s a nice racket.

Nice, to the tune of $13 billion a year in sales. And here in Utah, which is to the dietary supplement business what Northern California is to marijuana, a huge industry has taken hold, complete with a network of doctors making unproven claims, well-connected lobbyists and entrenched politicians who keep regulators at bay.

If you want to know how we came to be a nation where everyone is a doctor, sound science is vilified and seemingly smart people distrust vaccinations, come to Utah — whose state flower should be St. John’s wort. Here, the nexus of quack pharma and industry-owned politicians has produced quite a windfall: nearly one in four dollars in the supplement market passes though this state.

We’re not talking drugs, or even, in many cases, food here. Drugs have to undergo rigorous testing and review by the federal government. Dietary supplements do not. Drugs have to prove to be effective. Dietary supplements do not.

These are the Frankenstein remedies — botanicals, herbs, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, dried stuff. They’re “natural.” They’re not cheap. And Americans pop them like Skittles, despite recent studies showing that nearly a third of all herbal supplements on the market may be outright frauds.

The labels say Ginkgo biloba, or ginseng, or St. John’s wort. But testing announced by the state of New York this week found that the Ginkgo biloba sold by Walmart, for example, contained no Ginkgo biloba DNA — it was a mixture of rice, mustard, wheat and radish.

Some of the country’s largest retailers are selling junk in a pill, a step removed from sawdust. Counting on the stupidity of consumers, the big chains don’t seem to care. As of Thursday, four days after Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general, asked retailers to pull the tested products from their shelves in his state, you could still go to Walmart online and buy the allegedly fraudulent products.

So, there is Spring Valley echinacea — with a bold label reading: Immune Health — selling for $8.98 a bottle on Walmart’s website. It comes with a handy “customer review,” touting an “Excellent quality product!” This about a substance that contained no echinacea, according to the attorney general.

Too bad it takes Canada, or the maverick work of someone like the New York attorney general, to get at the truth of this industry, because it is so well-insulated from federal government oversight. Schneiderman’s investigation was prompted by an article in The New York Times Science section, reporting on Canadian findings that some of the most popular supplements were nothing but cheap fillers.

To understand how we got here, you have to go back to 1994, when Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah midwifed through Congress a new industry protected from all but minimal regulation. It is also an industry that would make many of his closest associates and family members rich. In turn, they’ve rewarded him with sizable campaign contributions.

Even though serious illnesses, and some deaths are on the rise from misuse of these supplements, Hatch is determined to keep regulators at bay. “I am committed to protect this industry and the integrity of its products,” he told a gathering of potency pill-pushers and the like in Utah last fall.

In the past, Hatch has been remarkably blunt about helping his family and friends in the fake drug trade. “I do whatever they ask me to do many times because they’ve never asked me to do anything that is improper,” Hatch said in 2011. He was referring to the firm of his son, Scott Hatch, a longtime lobbyist for the supplement industry.

That’s the political side, an all-too-familiar story of mutual beneficiaries born in the halls of Congress. But what about the medical implications? These pills and powders can’t, by law, make specific claims to cure anything. So they claim to make you healthier. The consumer is left playing doctor, reading questionable assertions that course through the unfiltered garbage of the Internet.

“There’s a lot of wrong information out there,” warns the American Cancer Society, in its tutorial on these products. “Even for those who are usually well informed, it can be hard to find reliable information about the safe use and potential risks of dietary supplements.”

And there was this finding reported in the authoritative Annals of Internal Medicine: “Enough is enough: Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements.” Oh, those elites at the American College of Physicians, what do they know?

So, the industry keeps growing, with 65,000 dietary supplements now on the market, consumed by nearly half of all Americans. The larger issue is mistrust of authority, a willful ignorance that knows no political side. Thus, right-wing libertarians promote a freewheeling market of quack products, while left-wing conspiracy theorists disdain modern medicine in favor of anything sold as “natural” or vaguely countercultural. These are some of the same people who will not vaccinate their children.

Everyone wants to live longer, to be happier, to have better sex. And, if you think you can do it without exercise, or eating enough vegetables, or getting regular sleep, there are a thousand pills for you, sold not far from the candy counter. It’s all based on the honor system. If you trust them, go buy some possibly Ginkgo biloba-free Ginkgo biloba, and thank Orrin Hatch for the unfettered right to be a sucker.

 

By: Timothy Egan, Contributing Op-Ed Writer, The New York Times, February 6, 2014

February 7, 2015 Posted by | Big Pharma, Dietary Supplements, Orrin Hatch | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Speaking Of Asses”: Senator Complains About ‘Dumbass Liberals’

I actually remember the way Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) used to be, back when he boasted about being a “square peg” – a label he used as a shorthand to say he doesn’t always fit in.

The Utah Republican used to actually see value in cooperating with people with whom he disagreed, working with Democrats, for example, on stem-cell research, the DREAM Act, and S-CHIP.

But then he threw it all away. As Amanda Terkel reported, Hatch’s remarks at the Federalist Society’s annual conference are a reminder of the kind of politician he’s become.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) came out swinging against Democrats Friday, telling a room of conservative lawyers that Republicans were ready to give the other party “a taste of their own medicine.”

“Frankly, I intend to win with our candidate for the presidency in 2016, and we will give them a taste of their own medicine,” said Hatch. “And we’re going to win. We’re going to win. These next two years are extremely important. Maybe the most important two years in our history.”

“I get a big kick out of them using the word ‘progressive,’” the senator said of Democrats. “My gosh, they’re just straight old dumbass liberals anyway.”

Classy.

It wasn’t too long ago that Hatch was positioned to become a rare statesman in Republican politics. But that was before his partisan Memorial Day tantrums, his occasional references to hitting people he doesn’t like, and his juvenile whining about “dumbass liberals.”

Those looking for GOP statesmanship will apparently have to look elsewhere.

On a related note, did you happen to catch Hatch’s remarks about immigration reform?

“Part of it is our fault. We haven’t really seized this problem. Of course, we haven’t been in a position to do it either, with Democrats controlling the Senate. I’m not blaming Republicans. But we really haven’t seized that problem and found solutions for it.” […]

“Frankly, I’d like to see immigration done the right way,” Hatch added. “This president is prone to doing through executive order that which he cannot do by working with the Congress, because he won’t work with us. If he worked with us, I think we could get an immigration bill through.”

For goodness sakes, does Orrin Hatch not remember the events of the last two years? With “Democrats controlling the Senate,” a comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform bill passed easily, and garnered the support of the business community, labor, law enforcement, immigration advocates, and the religious community. Republicans then killed it.

“I’m not blaming Republicans”? Why not? They’re the ones who chose to reject the legislation. They’re also the ones who promised a more partisan alternative, only to break their word.

“If he worked with us, I think we could get an immigration bill through.” President Obama did work with Congress, and helped rally support for a bipartisan bill. GOP lawmakers killed it anyway.

How is it possible Orrin Hatch doesn’t know this? For that matter, given the circumstances, shouldn’t he be slightly more circumspect about throwing around words such as “dumbass”?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 17, 2014

November 19, 2014 Posted by | Election 2016, Orrin Hatch, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Just Another Vindictive GOP Governor”: Maine Governor’s Welfare Investigation Turns Up Next To Nothing

Maine governor Paul LePage (R) finally has a smoking gun in his effort to restrict welfare programs — at least according to him. According to a much-hyped study conducted by the state department of Health and Human Services, recipients of social programs like SNAP and TANF used money from these programs at places like bars, smoke shops, and strip clubs.

But according to the Bangor Daily News, during the period the study was conducted, these questionable transactions accounted for just two-tenths of one percent of the total money spent from these programs. The small amount of misuse holds steady with the national trend. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, families and single parents who receive public benefits have much smaller budgets on average and spend a larger portion of their budgets on basic necessities.

LePage, however, sees any abuse of the welfare system in Maine as evidence of the need for reform. “Any amount of abuse in the system that takes away from the truly needy needs to be dealt with,” LePage’s spokeswoman told the Bangor Daily News. “We’re not uncovering anything new. There are always going to be bad actors out there. We’re simply saying, ‘We’ve got an eye on you.’”

In fact, what came to light after the study signals a larger problem with the system than LePage expected.“This information is eye-opening and indicates a larger problem than initially thought,”  LePage said in a press release. “These benefits are supposed to help families, children and our most vulnerable Mainers. Instead, we have discovered welfare benefits are paying for alcohol, cigarettes and other things that hardworking taxpayers should not be footing the bill for.”

However, it’s important to note that, according to the Daily News story, “those transactions include purchases at the checkout counter and withdrawals from on-premises ATMs. The state does not track what is purchased in EBT transactions.” So it’s highly likely that a substantial number of the hinted-at “immoral” purchases were not even made.

Similar efforts to expose fraud in social programs were attempted in Florida and Utah. Both states began drug-testing their welfare recipients to weed out drug users. There were similar results: Utah, for example, spent $25,000 to drug-test 4,730 recipients, only 12 tested positive for drugs.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, LePage is convinced there is a problem with welfare fraud in his state. The answer to this problem? Limits and restrictions to social programs like TANF and SNAP.

First, LePage would back legislation that reforms the lack of paper trail on where welfare money is spent. It’s a measure that Maine Democrats would also support, according to the Democratic House Speaker. “No one wants to see funds meant for struggling families abused,” House Speaker Mark Eves said Tuesday. “State law already forbids EBT cards from being used at liquor stores. If this list is verified, it’s time to take action. The question for the governor is, will he prosecute or politicize it? Democrats will continue to support good-faith efforts at cracking down on fraud and abuse.”

The question of whether this is a good-faith effort to stop fraud, or a political tactic to further a conservative cause, is an important one. LePage’s record on welfare reform doesn’t suggest that his intentions are sincere. In fact, LePage has been encouraging cuts to government aid throughout his term as governor. In 2012, for example, LePage said at a Republican convention: “Maine’s welfare program is cannibalizing the rest of state government. To all you able-bodied people out there: Get off the couch and get yourself a job.”

Previously, LePage instituted a five-year cap on TANF benefits, a move Democrats argue ended benefits for thousands of poor Maine residents. Just last week, Governor LePage also introduced a bill that would increase Maine’s work requirements for welfare recipients, another reform Democrats opposed.

Thus, it’s not hard to conclude that this push to investigate welfare recipients is another partisan move by a notoriously vindictive governor.

 

By: Ben Feuerherd, The National Memo, January 9, 2014

January 11, 2014 Posted by | Maine, Welfare | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: