This Michigan Legislator Is Attempting to Ban Sodomy While the Flint Water Crisis Rages on

Source:AlterNet

Author: Tom Boggioni / raw story

Emphasis Mine

The people of Flint, Michigan are continuing to suffer from the effects of lead poisoning, desperately trying to find bottled or clean water and hoping that somehow political officials that caused the crisis will eventually be brought to justice. Meanwhile, the Michigan Senate passed a bill outlawing anal sex and labeling it as a felony. Michigan has an existing state law that punishes anal sex with up to a 15-year sentence in prison. However, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the landmark 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas that laws against sodomy are unconstitutional, invalidating them in 13 states. The legislature insists that the law doesn’t target gay people but claims that it applies to both same-sex and heterosexual couples. It reads in part, “the abominable and detestable crime against nature with mankind or with any animal.” Because the law uses the word “mankind” many suspect that it reaffirms the sodomy laws that are already on the books.

The peculiar nature of the Michigan legislation is that this anti-anal sex with humans provision appears as part of an amendment to a bill that addresses bestiality. While the legislature hopes to prevent cases of animal abuse, it is unclear if there is a rampant epidemic of bestiality in Michigan. A Google news search doesn’t heed any results.

The bill was was well-meaning; it began as an attempt to create a registry of animal abusers. Many states like Tennessee and New York are turning to this as a solution to prevent animals abuse, but it also serves the dual purpose of identifying violence against children, families and future killers of humans.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead worked extensively to understand the link between animal abuse and human on human abuse. Mead was one of the first researchers to conclude that cruelty to animals from children could be a precursor to future violence.

In 1964, she wrote:

“One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it… [as] such children, diagnosed early, could be helped instead of being allowed to embark on a long career of episodic violence and murder.”

The bill has passed the Senate, but the state House still has an opportunity to strip the unconstitutional provision. Republican Senator Rick Jones is urging his colleagues to refrain from doing so because it could put a crucial bill to protect animals in jeopardy.

“The minute I cross that line and I start talking about the other stuff, I won’t even get another hearing. It’ll be done,” Rep. Jones explained to The New Civil Rights Movement. “Nobody wants to touch it. I would rather not even bring up the topic, because I know what would happen. You’d get both sides screaming and you end up with a big fight that’s not needed because it’s unconstitutional… If we could put a bill in that said anything that’s unconstitutional be removed from the legal books of Michigan, that’s probably something I could vote for, but am I going to mess up this dog bill that everybody wants? No.”

Logan’s Law is named after a Siberian Husky that died tragically after having acid intentionally poured over him.

See:http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/michigan-legislator-attempting-ban-sodomy-while-flint-water-crisis-rages?akid=13957.123424.uH9RDX&rd=1&src=newsletter1050358&t=24

The Bernie Sanders Era Is Upon Us: Why Iowa Was a Watershed Moment for American Politics

Source: AlterNet

Author: Paul Blest/Salon

Emphasis Mine

On Monday night, a self-described socialist who has spent his entire career railing against the two-party system brought his first primary matchup — with the most visible and popular non-presidential Democrat over the past quarter-century — down to a couple of coin tosses. It is truly the most remarkable and unexpected event in American politics in a long time, and it could leave a lasting impression on the Democratic Party, the American left, and in particular on how those two entities interact with each other for years.

Bernie Sanders has done this against the conventional wisdom of the pundit class (he readily admits that he’d raise middle class taxes to pay for universal healthcare) and the infrastructure of an entire political party, one that has refused to take him seriously. Aside from Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden, an ally of Sanders on national security, there are few endorsements left that haven’t gone toward Hillary Clinton; with the first caucus in the books, Sanders’ only major nods have come from former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and Reps. Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Clinton, by comparison, has endorsements from 38 out of the 44 sitting Democratic senators.

Clinton, whose Health Security Act in 1993 inadvertently started the Democratic Party’s long hibernation away from welfare liberalism due to its failure in Congress, recognizes this. She has spent the primary trying to tack to Sanders’ left on various issues including gun control and (misleadingly) Wall Street reform, has positioned herself as the only candidate willing to protect and continue Barack Obama’s legacy, and made a line from one of the Democratic debates — “I’m a progressive who gets things done” — a rallying cry for her whole campaign. Her choice of the word “progressive,” rather than “liberal,” gives an indication that she’d like to paint herself as “forward” rather than “left,” but the message to potential voters is implied: If you want to keep the country moving in a leftward direction — even at a snail’s pace — vote for me.

But on Monday night, rather than attack her only challenger remaining in the Democratic race, Clinton sought to reach out to Sanders supporters, saying that it was “rare that we have the opportunity to have a real contest of ideas…to really think hard about what the Democratic Party stands for and what we want the future to look like.” It doesn’t show that she’s going to pursue any of the policy goals Sanders got in the race to champion in the first place, but it does show that she’s taking Sanders, his supporters and the future of the party where she’s spent her life’s work seriously.

Sanders drawing Clinton in Iowa obviously doesn’t change the party overnight. Clinton still has the support of roughly half of the Democratic super-delegates locked up, and the current makeup of the party in Congress shows many self-described progressives yet very few who are truly sympathetic to pursuing policy goals like free college and universal healthcare. The Democratic Party has to go a long way before it becomes a party that someone with the politics of Seattle’s socialist councilwoman Kshama Sawant could feel at home in.

But even before Iowa, the Sanders campaign had already started making an impact. In down-ticket races, congressional candidates like populist Tim Canova and anti-corruption crusader Zephyr Teachout represent a new breed of Democratic politician more sympathetic to Bernie Sanders than Bill Clinton and maybe even Barack Obama. Elizabeth Warren might be the most high-profile endorsement either candidate could want right now. And in August, the Democratic Party made a $15 national minimum wage a part of its platform.

These are all people and positions that have been slammed by centrists and Third Way Democrats as being just as big of an obstacle to the way they’d like to govern as ultraconservative Republicans, and maybe even more of a nuisance. Now, after taking Clinton the distance in Iowa and with a strong shot to win in New Hampshire, this movement has proven that it is legitimate.

Still, we won’t know what Monday night truly meant until we start to see the many Sanders staffers, volunteers and supporters who are working in politics for the first time make their own forays in government and elected office. And even then, it’s impossible to predict future political trends and how committed to the same principles the Sanders coalition will be 10, 15 or 20 years down the line. We do know one thing for certain, however: Sanders’ Iowa showing indicates that something is changing in American politics. And for liberals and socialists alike who are looking for a movement where “the government belongs to all of us” (as Sanders said on Monday night), this couldn’t be better news.

Paul Blest is a freelance writer baed in Raleigh, North Carolina. Paul’s work has appeared in Vice, Salon, Noisey, New Republic, Indy Week and Deadspin. Follow him on Twitter @pblest.

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/bernie-sanders-era-upon-us-why-iowa-was-watershed-moment-american-politics?akid=13952.123424.Fn62Zy&rd=1&src=newsletter1050206&t=8

WATCH: The Trump Interview That Should Have Ended His Candidacy Once and for All

Source: AlterNet

Author: Cody Cain/Salon

Emphasis Mine

Donald Trump gave an interview this week all of his potential supporters should watch. In his own words, Trump lays bare the very reasons why he would be such a disastrous choice for president.

The interview with Anderson Cooper on Thursday took place in New Hampshire where Trump is campaigning for the upcoming Republican primary in New Hampshire, and the setting included a small group of ordinary New Hampshire voters.

Watch it here:  (N.B.: upload link under ‘see’)

The topic turns to President Obama’s recent nuclear agreement with Iran. Trump unwittingly displays for all to see that he simply does not understand the most basic elements of the agreement.

Trump proclaims his familiar boast that he is the best deal-maker ever and the best negotiator ever, and that the Obama administration completely botched the negotiation with Iran. And then Trump graced us with an inside account of how he, as a master deal-maker, would have negotiated the agreement with Iran and obtained a much better outcome for America.

Primarily, Trump would have spared America from having to pay $150 billion to Iran. (I won’t quibble with the dollar amount even though it is likely inaccurate.)

As Trump explained, he would have said to the Iranians:

“Fellas, we [as America] owe $19 trillion [in debt]. We’re a country that has no money. We can’t give you the $150 [billion dollars].” The Iranians would have said, “But we want it!” And Trump would have responded, “We can’t give it! We don’t have it! We don’t have it!”

Trump would have stood his ground and absolutely refused to pay the $150 billion. At that point, the meeting would have broken-up with no agreement. But then, two days later, the Iranians would have folded by calling Trump and saying, “Let’s make a deal.” Iran would then have agreed that America would not be required to pay the $150 billion.

Wow. Now there’s a genius negotiator for you. What an amazing display of virtuosity.

Unfortunately, however, there is one little problem with Trump’s entire analysis. And this problem is that the $150 billion was, in fact, readily available. The reason it was readily available is because all of this money actually belonged to Iran, not to America. This was Iran’s own money. This was Iranian money that America had seized and frozen. It was never American money. Not one penny. American money was never at stake. Rather, America was simply returning Iran’s own money that America had seized and was holding in frozen accounts pending the resolution of the sanctions against Iran.

Trump obviously had no clue that this money belonged to Iran. Trump was utterly ignorant about the facts of the deal. Yet this did not prevent Trump from spouting off and denouncing the deal to the American public. This is classic Trump. Even though he may appear to some to be authoritative, the truth is that his demeanor is superficial and he actually has no idea what he is talking about in substance.

There was another little humorous aspect on the subject of this Iranian agreement as well. In his typical bluster, Trump bragged that as part of this deal he would have secured the return of the American prisoners that were being held in Iran. And how, exactly, would Trump have accomplished this? Again, Trump graced us with a master lesson in his wondrous negotiating ability.

Trump said that he would have demanded the return of the prisoners upfront. Trump would not have even begun talks with the Iranians until they first returned the prisoners. When the Iranians refused, Trump would have walked out of the meeting.

Oh, now there’s a real novel idea. Does Trump really think that the professional American negotiators never thought of this? In fact, America had already demanded the return of the prisoners numerous times, and America had already been engaged in all sorts of diplomatic efforts to secure their return. But Iran was still refusing to release the prisoners.

Yet according to Trump, his simplistic maneuver of refusing to negotiate would have somehow magically secured the release of the prisoners “within 24 hours.” This is simply ridiculous.

(N.B.: it might well be observed that to bully another party over whom one has power is not negotiating, it is bullying, and I expect that is the basis of his approach.)

In fact, we all witnessed a real-life example of how Trump’s supposedly brilliant negotiating skills work-out in reality. This unfolded right before our very eyes in the fiasco Trump created over the presidential debate with Fox News just days before the Iowa caucuses.

Trump demanded that the Fox News host Megyn Kelly be removed as a moderator of the debate. This is akin to Trump demanding that Iran release the prisoners. Fox refused to remove Kelly, just as Iran would have refused to release the prisoners. Trump then deployed his “tough-guy” tactics of walking away and refusing to participate in the debate.

How did that work out for Trump? Well, not so hot. Fox News didn’t exactly fold within 24 hours and yield to the almighty will of Trump. Instead, Fox ignored Trump’s ridiculous demands and went forward with the debate without him. Trump proceeded to lose the Iowa caucuses even though he had been significantly ahead in the polls prior to dropping-out of the debate.

Here we see what happens in real life when Trump’s ridiculous course of action is followed. Utter failure. The entire nation would encounter a similar fate if it followed Trump as president.

In another segment of the video, a local man from the audience explained that he was raising three young daughters, and given Trump’s many insults, disparaging comments about women and foreigners, and profanity, Trump as president would not seem to make a good role model for his daughters.

Trump’s reaction was stunning. Trump immediately accused the man of being a plant. “Who asked you to give this question?” Trump demanded. Did Anderson put you up to this? “This is a CNN set-up!”

Unbelievable. This was highly revealing of Trump’s character. He exhibits a tendency toward paranoia, he immediately concludes that others are conspiring against him without a shred of evidence, and he perceives himself as being victimized. These are traits that are not exactly well suited for a leader of a nation.

In another encounter, a lady from the audience expressed concern that Trump had not provided enough specificity about his policies. Trump’s answer was that he prefers not to provide detailed policies because he desires to remain unpredictable.

Seriously? A presidential candidate running on a platform of unpredictability? Hey, why don’t we just select our president through a national random lottery?

Actually, come to think of it, I’ll take those odds over Trump.

Cody Cain is a writer and commentator living in New York City, and he writes a blog for The Huffington Post.

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/watch-trump-interview-should-have-ended-his-candidacy-once-and-all?akid=13952.123424.Fn62Zy&rd=1&src=newsletter1050206&t=12

Ted Cruz’s Radical Supporters: He Won Iowa on the Back of the Scariest Bible-Thumpers in the Business

Source:AlterNet

Author: Amada Marcotte/Salon

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: based on 2008 and 2012, the Iowa Republican caucus may not be a good predictor of the Republican nominee…)

Ted Cruz’s victory in Iowa doesn’t mean he’ll get the nomination — history shows the Republican caucus in that state is a poor predictor of eventual outcome — but for the religious right, especially the most skin-crawlingly creepy folks in the religious right, Cruz’s edging Donald Trump out at the polls represents a huge victory. Because Monday night meant that while their influence might seem to be on the decline, the religious right proved, once again, that they are still a powerful force on the right. Unfortunately, the Republican Party will still have to pay tribute to the nasty crews that use Jesus as a cover to push their lifelong obsession with controlling other people’s sex lives, especially if those people are female or queer.

A lot of attention has been paid to Trump’s oversized ego, but Cruz’s may be even worse. While Trump likes to portray himself as a “winner,” Cruz clawed his way to victory in Iowa by implying — well, more than implying — that he’s a religious messiah, a prophet who is the next best thing to the second coming of Jesus. While denouncing Barack Obama for his supposed “messiah complex,” Cruz has been suggesting that he is the real deal, and that he will win because “the body of Christ” will “rise up to pull us back from the abyss.”

Cruz has been portraying his campaign, in fact, as a religious war in which the true believers will assert themselves as the rightful rulers of this nation. “Strap on the full armor of God, get ready for the attacks that are coming,” he told supporters, who are treated more like believers, at a campaign stop in Iowa.

Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, has gone even further in suggesting that his son is quite literally God’s emissary sent to turn America into a Christian nation (which tends to be defined as a nation that keeps heavy tabs on what you’re doing with your genitals, instead of one that makes sure there’s enough loaves and fishes for everyone). In an interview on Glenn Beck’s show, the senior Cruz and Beck both pushed this notion that Cruz is a prophetic figure come to save us all.

“Everybody was born for a reason,” Beck told Rafael Cruz, while sitting in — no joke — a replica of the Oval Office built for his show. “As I learned your story and saw the fruit of that story, now in your son, I am more and more convinced in the hand of divine providence.”

“Oh, absolutely,” Cruz replied. Who doesn’t want to be the father of the messiah? The last one was literally God himself, after all.

This Jesus-walks act of Ted Cruz’s worked like a charm, as Cruz sucked up a veritable rogue’s gallery of every creepy straight guy who claims he loves Jesus but has his eyes fixed firmly on the crotches of America. As Cruz noted in his victory speech Monday night, Bob Vander Plaats and Rep. Steve King are national co-chairs for his campaign. King, of course, is a notoriously loony right wing nut who has argued that legalizing same-sex marriage means people will now marry lawnmowers and has equated undocumented immigration with the Holocaust.

Vander Plaats, who heads up Iowa’s religious right behemoth, the Family Leader , has argued that his interpretation of “God’s law” should trump the actual laws of our country, that gay marriage will lead to parents marrying their children, and that Vladimir Putin was right to sign a law criminalizing those who speak out for gay rights.

Right before the caucus, Cruz launched“Pro-Lifers for Cruz,” a group that is also a magnet for the most radical elements of the Christian right. It’s chaired by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a group that is so virulently anti-gay that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has declared it a hate group.

Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue, is on the board as well. Newman is beyond a radical anti-choicer, a man who believe that abortion doctors should be executed and women who abort pregnancies, which is about 30 percent of American women by age 45, should be jailed for murder. Newman’s single-minded obsession with abortion has led him to blame everything from the California drought to HIV to 9/11 on the fact that we have legal abortion.

Cruz also enjoys the support of David Barton, a powerful crank who rose in the ranks of the religious right by feeding the masses totally false but pleasing stories about American history, designed to create the illusion that our country was basically formed as a theocracy. Barton’s willingness to lie and deceive on behalf of this claim is truly breath-taking, as the SPLC demonstrates:

Another Barton whopper is his repeated claim that John Adams supported religious control of the U.S. government. To make that point, Barton quoted the following Adams passage: “There is no authority, civil or religious — there can be no legitimate government — but what is administered by this Holy Ghost. There can be no salvation without it — all without it is rebellion and perdition or, in more orthodox words, damnation.” But Barton conveniently omits the next part of the quote, in which Adams makes it crystal clear he is mocking those with this belief.

Right before the caucus, Cruz launched“Pro-Lifers for Cruz,” a group that is also a magnet for the most radical elements of the Christian right. It’s chaired by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a group that is so virulently anti-gay that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has declared it a hate group.

And so on and so forth. Cruz has been rolling out a dizzying array of endorsements of the absolute worst of the religious right, which was enough to help push him over the top in Iowa.None of this means that Cruz will be the eventual nominee. But, as history shows, campaigns like his — and like Mike Huckabee’s and Rick Santorum’s in the past — show that the fire-breathing fundies have a lot of political power. This, in turn, means that the Republican Party will still feel obliged to pay fealty to  those who believe that it’s the government’s solemn, Jesus-instructed duty to punish you for having sex outside of their very narrow prescription of what it should look like (straight, married, only for procreation).

If there was one good thing to come out of Trump’s candidacy, it was that his apparent pull with evangelical voters suggested that the single-minded obsession with the underpants of America was finally starting to fade on the right. But the fact that Iowa voters, who are heavily evangelical, broke at the last minute to support the guy who is supported by the sex police shows that we are not quite done with these lunatics. Which is something they’ll be happy to remind party leaders of, even if Cruz eventually loses the nomination.

 

See:http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/ted-cruzs-radical-supporters-he-won-iowa-back-scariest-bible-thumpers-business?utm_source=Amanda+Marcotte%27s+Subscribers&utm_campaign=51b931879e-RSS_AUTHOR_EMAIL&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f2b9a8ae81-51b931879e-79824733

 

Stop Comparing Trump and Sanders: The Two Candidates Aren’t Equal and Opposite Radicals

Source: AlterNet

Author: Matthew Rozsa/The Good Men Project

Emphasis Mine

This piece originally appeared on The Good Men Project.

As the 2016 presidential election gathers steam, it’s tempting to compare the Bernie Sanders surge among Democrats with the Donald Trump phenomenon among Republicans. After all, both candidates are marshalling support from the ideological grassroots in their respective parties (the left in Sanders’ case, the right for Trump), and both have successfully tapped into a deeper anger that animates their campaigns.

When you reflect on the nature of that anger, however, a crucial distinction between the two candidates emerges: Sanders is drawing on a compassionate anger, while Trump is fanning the flames of a selfish anger. This may seem like a small difference, but it’s one that will literally determine the fate of millions. First, a quick moment of clarification. When I discuss “compassionate” and “selfish” forms of anger, I’m referring to the underlying philosophy embedded in a given set of frustrations. Although both forms of anger tap into a visceral sense of outrage within their listeners, the former insists that they exhibit empathy for others, while the latter encourages them to focus on advancing their own interests at the expense of others. Thus – to use the analogy of a schoolyard setting – the practitioner of empathetic anger will demand that the rules be fair and the toys be shared, while the practitioner of selfish anger will raise a fuss whenever he’s losing the game or doesn’t have as many toys as he’d like… regardless of whether real cheating or unjust inequality is actually involved.

This brings us to the current election cycle. As the most recent Democratic debate demonstrated, Sanders is practically monomaniacal in his focus on the problem of income inequality in America. Whether he’s discussing the importance of raising the minimum wage, proposing a substitute for Obamacare that would guarantee free health coverage for everyone, or advocating policies that would lower college tuition and student loan rates, all of his positions are bound by a common thread. Sanders sees an America that, despite proclaiming itself the “land of opportunity,” is clearly rigged to offer better opportunities for the affluent than the poor.

Similarly, despite its nickname as the “land of the free,” Sanders vocalizes a widespread outrage at the notion that anyone can have a freedom worth having while languishing in insurmountable poverty. Listening to his rhetoric, one hears undeniable echoes of Franklin Roosevelt’s famous Economic Bill of Rights:

“We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.”

Whereas Sanders’ campaign has been fueled by a consistent ideology of economic progressivism (or, as he likes to call it, democratic socialism), the Trump boom has gathered momentum by pitting various groups of Americans against each other. It’s easy to forget that when Trump skyrocketed to his current frontrunner status over the summer, it was by vilifying undocumented Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. Since that time, his campaign has wallowed in the depth of misogyny, racism, and Islamophobia, with Trump garnering headlines and gaining support by openly promoting the prejudices that have marginalized non-white males in the past. While it’s tempting to identify this pattern of bigotry as the common thread tying his campaign themes together, this wouldn’t be precisely accurate. The actual thread is Trump’s cynical awareness of the fact that, by shattering the so-called “politically correct” taboos against attacking traditionally oppressed groups of people, he can simultaneously speak on behalf of the privileged while making both them and himself seem like the underdogs.

Indeed, the evidence of this can be found not on the many occasions when Trump’s hate mongering has succeeded, but on the numerous times it has failed. Take his anti-Semitic comments during a speech in front of the Republican Jewish Coalition; when he declared to his appalled audience that “you’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money,” he clearly intended to position himself as a brave challenger of a Jew-controlled status quo. This approach didn’t gain traction, so naturally he abandoned it, but structurally it was identical to the rhetoric he has successfully used against Mexicans or Muslims – insinuate that racist assumptions about those groups are correct, feed off of the media outrage regarding his remarks, and profit from the support that rallies behind him for “speaking the truth.” The same thing can be said of his efforts to mobilize a bigoted reaction against the Cuban heritage of his chief rival, Ted Cruz; when he urged an Iowa audience to remember that “not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba,” the goal was once again to politically weaponized what he hoped would be the racist inclinations of his own supporters. The fact that this tactic didn’t work against Cubans (and thus Cruz) simply proves that Trump’s strategy, though often successful, is still a hit-and-miss affair. Of course, because the hits yield such great rewards and the misses have yet to hurt him politically, Trump has no particular incentive to stop.

Even though Trump will probably never redeem the quality of his anger, though, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from his actions. If Americans truly want to elevate the quality of their political discourse, it is imperative to start by distinguishing between the type of anger that speaks to legitimate needs among the vulnerable and the type of anger that only sows seeds of dissent and hatred. This is an issue that transcends the Sanders and Trump campaigns, or indeed the 2016 presidential election entirely. At its core, this is about what it means to be a responsible citizen within a democratic society – something that Sanders clearly understands, and Trump just as clearly does not.

Matthew Rozsa is a Ph.D. student in history at Lehigh University as well as a political columnist. His editorials have been published in “The Morning Call,” “The Express-Times,” “The Newark Star-Ledger,” “The Baltimore Sun,” and various college newspapers and blogs. He actively encourages people to reach out to him at matt.rozsa@gmail.co

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/stop-comparing-trump-and-sanders-two-candidates-arent-equal-and-opposite-radicals?akid=13935.123424.2TWQRD&rd=1&src=newsletter1049911&t=8

Donald Trump Is Wrecking the Conservative Movement: How the Billionaire Is Exposing Its Most Toxic Secret

Source: Alternet

Author:Heather Digby Parton/Salon

Emphasis Mine

If there’s one thing that Donald Trump has done for the leaders of the conservative movement, the Christian Right and the Republican party it’s that he’s teaching them a necessary lesson in reality: It turns out that a large number of their supporters don’t really care about ideology, morality or even their supposedly mutual loathing of the hippie Democrats on the other side. Their concerns run to something much more primitive.

Sure they all called themselves Republicans and/or conservatives. For decades they played on the same team. But all that stuff about “family values” and “drowning the government in the bathtub” and “constitutional conservativism” were just slogans they chanted for their team. They meant no more to them than “rah, rah, sis boom bah.”

National Review slowly came around to the knowledge that something terrible had happened to their movement and last week put out their ineffectual “Against Trump” issue. They realized too late that all the movement propaganda meant nothing to a whole lot of right wing voters. In fact it looks as though the constitution itself means nothing. And the conservative movement of activists, writers and grassroots organizations has suddenly awakened to the fact that a good many of those they considered true believers are completely oblivious to conservative ideology.

Poor social conservative and movement warrior Ted Cruz is finally recognizing that his fealty to the cause was a sucker move. It bought him the enduring enmity of the party electeds and too many of the movement conservatives just don’t care about any of that. That’s not to say he isn’t trying to rally the faithful. The Christian Broadcast Network’s John Brody aired some footage of Cruz desperately begging Iowa pastors to do everything they can to stop Trump:

“[I]f Donald wins Iowa, he right now has a substantial lead in New Hampshire, if he went on to win New Hampshire as well, there is a very good chance he could be unstoppable and be our nominee. And the next seven days in Iowa will determine whether or not that happens. So even if you’re thinking about another candidate, the simple reality is there’s only one campaign that can beat Trump in this state, and if conservatives simply stand up and unite, that’s everything.”

You can’t help but wonder if he regrets all those months of “bear-hugging” Trump now. In fact, it makes you wonder if the whole field regrets not unleashing hell on him from the very beginning. They couldn’t possibly be any worse off than they are now.

But as sad as Cruz may have been when he started the day yesterday, realizing that he’d devoted himself to a conservative movement that turns out to be an empty shell, imagine how he felt when Jerry Falwell Jr endorsed the libertine billionaire later in the morning. Falwell might as well have looked into Cruz’s face and laughed at his gullibility. All these years Cruz believed that following the Evangelical Christian code of conduct was a requirement and the man who inherited the legacy of the Moral Majority supplicated himself to a degenerate billionaire who says it’s never been necessary to ask God for forgiveness.

Sarah Posner wrote about this strange course of events for Rolling Stone yesterday:

For Falwell, Trump is a strongman who can save America where the Christian right has failed to do so. Falwell’s endorsement is a tacit admission that his father’s mission to rescue America from the supposed scourges of feminism, the “homosexual agenda” and secularism is now a defunct fundamentalist dream…

Trump has other qualities that many evangelicals admit they admire: wealth and success and — don’t let this surprise you — ruthlessness. Trump first addressed a Liberty University audience in September 2012, after his failed presidential bid. In his remarks, he suggested to students that they need to “get even” with adversaries in order to succeed, prompting

an outcry over whether this advice was compatible with Christian values.

At the time, Trump’s special counsel, Michael Cohen — without pushback from Liberty — told ABC News that he conferred with a Liberty official, who confirmed, in Cohen’s words, that “the Bible is filled with stories of God getting even with his enemies, Jesus got even with the Pharisees and Christians believe that Jesus even got even with Satan by rising from the dead. God is portrayed as giving grace, but he is also portrayed as one tough character — just as Trump stated.”

Falwell later told a Christian radio program that he took Trump’s advice to mean that often succeeding in life requires “being tough.”

See? No need for all that weak tea about the meek and the poor. And surely when it comes to their driving obsession with sexual morality and abortion, it just takes a real man to put his foot down. And it’s clear who is the Real Man in this campaign. Donald Trump is an Old Testament leader for a New Testament world.

According to this poll, evangelicals are flocking to Trump.

Perhaps the most puzzled by what they’re seeing is the conservative movement old guard who spent decades creating the organizations that in recent years have risen up to challenge the Republican elites for supremacy of the party. They have made great strides, primarying apostates, defeating RINOs and even taking out good conservatives just to show they could. They showed the entire country that they are willing to destroy the government itself if that’s what it takes to demonstrate their commitment to their principles. They take no prisoners, give no quarter. And finally, after decades of hard work and strategizing, they are on the verge of total dominance.

Or they were until Trump came along and proved that many of the people they had been counting on to be the foot soldiers in this conservative revolution weren’t paying attention. In fact, they don’t even care that their new strongman leader openly says things like this:

“I’m going to be able to get along with Pelosi — I’ve always had a good relationship with Nancy Pelosi,” Trump said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” referring to the House minority leader. “Reid’s going to be gone. I’ve always had a decent relationship with Reid,” Trump said, referring to Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate minority leader. “I always had a great relationship with Harry Reid.”

Trump said he thought he’d get along with “just about everybody,” including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), likely to be the next Senate Democratic leader, who Trump said he was “close to … in many in ways.”

“I’ve been in politics all my life, I’ve been dealing with politicians all my life,” Trump said of whether he would have any friends in Congress.

The man who has made a fetish of being politically incorrect reassured his ardent fans at a rally this week that it was all an act:

When I’m president I’m a different person. I can do anything. I can be the most politically correct person you have ever seen,” Trump said at a rally in Pella, Iowa, on Saturday.

In what began as a typical Trump speech, the presidential candidate — who made headlines in December for saying he would ban Muslims from entering the US — said the reason for his tough rhetoric is twofold.

First, political correctness takes too long and “we don’t have time,” and second, with such a full slate of Republican candidates, Trump says he needs to be aggressive. “Right now they come at you from 15 different angles. You have to be sharp, you have to be quick, and you have to be somewhat vicious,” Trump said.

“When you are running the country it is a different dialogue that goes, and we can do that easily.”

(He seems to believe that he has experience at doing this, perhaps in a dream.)

The Republican establishment is under a tremendous amount of stress right now. Donald Trump has the party functionaries running around like his personal factotums and the elected officials are all figuring out the angles to ensure they come out on the Donald’s good side. It’s possible it may not survive in the form we’ve come to know it.

But the conservative movement is equally under pressure.  They thought their years of carefully growing and indoctrinating the right wing of the Republican Party had resulted in a common belief in a certain conservative ideology, strategic vision and commitment to a specific agenda.  It turns out that a good number of the people they thought had signed on to their program just wanted someone to stick it to ethnic and racial minorities and make sure America is the biggest bad ass on the planet — authoritarian, white nationalism. If you’ve got a man who will deliver that you don’t need ideology. And he doesn’t need democracy.

The mystery is why all these smart conservatives didn’t see this coming. They unleashed this beast a long time ago with the hate radio and the media propaganda and the ruthless politics. It was only a matter of time before it turned on them.

Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

See:http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/donald-trump-wrecking-conservative-movement-how-billionaire-exposing-its-most?akid=13923.123424.Md0AhW&rd=1&src=newsletter1049730&t=4

GOP Establishment in Freak-Out Mode: They Can’t Stop Trump or Cruz From Grabbing Nomination

Source: Alternet

Author: Steven Rosenfeld

Emphasis Mine

The Republican Party has added a new twist to its renowned blame games. Its Washington-centric establishment is saying the race for the 2016 presidential nominee is all but over before the voting starts.

As national news organizations are reporting just days before Iowa caucuses, it looks like either Donald Trump will mount a successful hostile takeover of the GOP, or the senator most despised by its establishment, Ted Cruz, will grab the nomination. That realization has prompted a growing chorus of GOP strategists and party insiders to chime in with last-minute advice to avoid what others say is inevitable, or simply panic.

“Whoever is not named Trump and not named Cruz that looks strong out of both Iowa and New Hampshire, we should consolidate around,” Henry Barbour, a Mississippi-based strategist told the New York Times, in a piece this week emphasizing time is running out for a “credible alternative.” His uncle is ex-RNC chair and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

This whole thing is a disaster,” Curt Anderson, ex-RNC political director and veteran operative, told Politico.com in a piece that asked who let Trump get this far. “I feel the party has been hijacked,” said RNC member Holland Redfield. “It will be a major internal fight.”

“All of the hand-wringing and alarm-sounding within the Republican establishment is sound and fury signifying nothing,” Chris Cizilla, the Washington Post’s top handicapper wrote Wednesday. “The train has left the station. The boat has left the dock. The genie is out of the bottle. Pandora’s box is open.”

And what a box it is! Before Trump hijacked the headlines by trying to bully Fox News into dumping Megyn Kelly as a moderator for Thursday night’s debate, and then walked away because he didn’t get his way (his press statement said, “this takes guts”), he was drawing the worst GOP publicity hounds. In recent days, that’s included Sarah Palin, Jerry Falwell. Jr., Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Donald Rumsfeld.

“I see someone who has touched a nerve with our country,” Rumsfeld said of Trump. But the one-two punch of Palin’s and Grassley’s support is seen as influential among Iowa Republicans, who are disproportionately right-wing and evangelical. That’s why Mike Huckabee won Iowa in 2008 and Rick Santorum won in 2012.

No matter the reason, the finger-pointing has begun. Republicans who tried to ignite a stop-Trump movement told Politico that the super PACS and donors that lined up behind their more mainsteam candidates—Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Chris Christie—misspent millions by slamming each other and not attacking Trump or Cruz. “It’s not just campaigns that are coming under fire—it’s also donors, many of whom were presented with the opportunity to go after Trump but didn’t pull the trigger,” Politico wrote. “Much frustration has been directed at the RNC, which some believe has been pushed around by the party’s surprise poll-leader.”

Trump’s Fox News Gambit

Going into the week before the Iowa caucuses, polls showed the dark mood of Republicans favors Trump and Cruz. The base is in a “sour” mood, the Post reported, although that’s too genteel. Ninety percent say the country is on a wrong track. Eighty percent don’t like the way the federal government works. Sixty percent say people like them are losing influence in America. Forty percent say they are “angry” about all of this—hence Trump’s standing: he has the support of 37 percent or so of likely GOP primary voters and has been leading for months.

Trump yet again showed how he can uniquely manipulate the media by reviving his fight with Fox News’ anchor Megyn Kelly. He deliberately picked a fight with her the way he picks fights with protesters at his rallies. The timeline of this latest attention-grabbing gambit saw Trump threaten to pull out of Thursday’s TV debate unless Fox pulled Kelly from one of three moderator slots. But Fox did not budge, forcing Trump to follow through on his threat or look weak—a cardinal sin for him.

The great negotiator might have pulled a dumb move on the eve of what was lining up to be the biggest night of his life—winning the Iowa caucuses to begin his hostile takeover of the GOP. As he will see, politics ahbors a vacuum and he just gave Cruz, who’s slightly trailing, and the posse of other mainstream candidates more airtime to attack and make their case. Undecided Republicans will see other choices without Trump hogging the limelight. Whether that’s a masterful move by the master negotiator remains to be seen. The Washington Post Wednesday reported that Trump supporters are parroting his lines that Kelly is biased and Fox can’t be trusted.

What’s most notable about this latest made-for-media dustup is what it reveals about Trump’s character—how thin-skinned he is when faced with critics who don’t fawn over him. On Tuesday night, Trump held a rare press conference and clashed with reporters who repeatedly asked him to respond to charges that he should not be endorsed by evangelicals because of his past marital infidelities. Come Wednesday, the Times’ campaign blog speculated that Trump knows he will be attacked for past pro-choice stances and would not be able to monopolize the debate coverage by attending. The Times also blogged that his campaign was walking back remarks about not attending the debate.

As the Boston Globe noted, “Cruz continues to work on his Iowa ground game while Trump continues to fight with the media.”

Not Republican, But Authoritarian

Whether he shows up or not, what the country is witnessing is not just a candidate whose uncanny ability to provoke and manipulate the press has upended previous rules of presidential campaigns, rendering mainstream competition all but irrelevant. Voters are also witnessing what an extreme authoritarian looks like and how he operates. That searing conclusion comes from former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, who has written many books about political authoritarians and their rise in the Republican Party.

Trump, after decades in the glare of media attention, instinctively understands exactly how to manipulate the fourth estate better than any political figure in modern America,” he recently wrote. “By being himself, he is taking the country to school on how to dominate public attention with his inflammatory rhetoric, which he intuitively employs through unfiltered social media.”

Dean wrote that people who know Trump say he’s not behaving any differently on the campaign trail than he does in his business life. “I spoke with an attorney who has been involved in a number of real estate disputes with Trump, over many years, who said Trump acts in a very similar fashion in his business dealings. He insults and belittles opponents, and is an extremely sore loser, whose standard operating procedure is to try to bully and bend the rules his way.”

“We are going to know a lot more about authoritarian politics when the 2016 presidential race is completed,” Dean said, referring not just to Trump but also to the vast numbers of Americans who are drawn to following extreme authoritarians. What that says about the fate of the modern Republican Party also remains to be seen, but you can be sure that its mainstream leaders see the writing on the wall and are finding it disconcerting.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/gop-establishment-freak-out-mode-they-cant-stop-trump-or-cruz-grabbing-nomination?akid=13921.123424.JgWJCy&rd=1&src=newsletter1049697&t=2