Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Dump Trump Truck Gains Speed

Donald Trump ran into significant disruptions from protesters in both NYC and Arizona events today, yet another sign that if there's one good thing Trump has accomplished, it's getting Americans to take interest in the politics of stopping idiot Republicans.

Dozens of protesters blocked traffic near a Donald Trump event in Arizona on Saturday, while demonstrators marched in New York City to protest the GOP front-runner.

The protesters in Arizona parked vehicles sideways on Shea Boulevard, blocking both lanes of traffic into Fountain Hills, Arizona, where Trump held a rally Saturday afternoon, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Deputy Joaquin Enriquez told CNN.

Enriquez described Shea Boulevard as the main artery into the area and the protesters' actions were causing motorists to drive into oncoming traffic as they tried to get around them. Traffic was backed up for miles due to the blockage. 
"This is causing huge issues for us," Enriquez told CNN. He added, "We obviously have to get this road open."

Enriquez later told CNN that three protesters were arrested and two cars were towed from the boulevard. The deputy emphasized that the arrests were due to protesters blocking the roadway, not because of the protest itself.

Protests at Trump rallies increasingly have become more contentious in recent days. Friday night, protesters outside a Trump rally in Salt Lake City, Utah, tried to breach the venue's doors, causing police officers and Secret Service officers to abruptly shut them as Trump was speaking. And last week, scuffles between protesters and supporters in Chicago led Trump to cancel a rally there.

Trump on Saturday appeared with former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who endorsed the GOP front-runner in January. Arpaio rose to conservative fame with his aggressive roundups of undocumented immigrants and attention-grabbing tactics like clothing inmates in pink underwear.

Speaking to CNN's Fredricka Whitfield earlier in the day, Arpaio said authorities are "going to do everything we can to continue to have this rally," adding that authorities are "ready for any problems."

"We'll do everything possible to make sure we have free speech in this country. Donald Trump has a right to speak out and the people have a right to go in there and hear him speak," Arpaio said. "If certain groups don't like it, that's OK. They have freedom of speech, but they're not going to violate any laws. They're going to have to pay the consequences."

By all means Trump, let's have more footage of your brownshirt goons saying they'll round up the people who oppose you in order to make them pay the consequences.  I really do want that massive Democratic wave to obliterate the modern GOP out of existence in 2016.

The Consequence Of It All

Yet another reminder that protection of your First Amendment rights are guaranteed by the Constitution. Protection from the consequences of exercising those rights are not.

If Georgia chooses to turn the “religious liberty” bill into law, be prepared: Atlanta may not get a Super Bowl.

That was the suggestion from the NFL on Friday when the league released a statement in response to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s question about whether the league had any position on Georgia House Bill 757.

The statement from league spokesman Brian McCarthy reads, “NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has hoped to land multiple Super Bowls in the team’s new stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2017. The NFL has previously moved a Super Bowl from Arizona to the Rose Bowl near Los Angeles in the 1992 season after that state refused to recognize the Martin Luther King holiday.

Indeed, all three of Atlanta's major sports franchises oppose the bill.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank then issued this statement:

“One of my bedrock values is ‘Include Everyone’ and it’s a principle we embrace and strive to live each and every day with my family and our associates, a vast majority of which live and work in Georgia. I strongly believe a diverse, inclusive and welcoming Georgia is critical to our citizens and the millions of visitors coming to enjoy all that our great state has to offer. House Bill 757 undermines these principles and would have long-lasting negative impact on our state and the people of Georgia.”

And then the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks weighed in:

“The Atlanta Braves organization believes that House Bill 757 is detrimental to our community and bad for Georgia. Our organization believes in an environment that is inclusive of all people. In addition to allowing discrimination against citizens of this state, the bill will have a profoundly negative impact on our organization. As a Georgia business and employer, we proudly support Georgia Prospers in its goal to ensure that the state’s workplaces and communities are diverse and welcoming for all people, no matter one’s race, sex, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We are proud to represent Georgia and are opposed to any law that endorses discrimination against anyone.” 
The Hawks’ organization said:

“For generations, Atlanta has stood at the forefront of civil rights and its diversity is what has made this city a cultural leader in the Southeast. The Hawks strongly believe in the values of inclusion, diversity and equal rights, core principles by which we operate our business and are essential elements in making Atlanta a leading global city.”

Your enshrined bigotry in the name of "religious freedom" will have consequences, Georgia.  Are you prepared to deal with them?

States Of Chaos

Over at New York Magazine, Eric Levitz argues that what the GOP has in store for America should they win the whole enchilada in 2017 is what the smoking wrecks of Louisiana and Kansas are now after years of total GOP control.

In 2010, the tea-party wave put Sam Brownback into the Sunflower State’s governor’s mansion and Republican majorities in both houses of its legislature. Together, they implemented the conservative movement’s blueprint for Utopia: They passed massive tax breaks for the wealthy and repealed all income taxes on more than 100,000 businesses. They tightened welfare requirements, privatized the delivery of Medicaid, cut $200 million from the education budget, eliminated four state agencies and 2,000 government employees. In 2012, Brownback helped replace the few remaining moderate Republicans in the legislature with conservative true believers. The following January, after signing the largest tax cut in Kansas history, Brownback told the Wall Street Journal, “My focus is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, 'See, we've got a different way, and it works.' "

As you’ve probably guessed, that model collapsed. Like the budget plans of every Republican presidential candidate, Brownback’s “real live experiment” proceeded from the hypothesis that tax cuts for the wealthy are such a boon to economic growth, they actually end up paying for themselves (so long as you kick the undeserving poor out of their welfare hammocks). The Koch-backed Kansas Policy Institute predicted that Brownback’s 2013 tax plan would generate $323 million in new revenue. During its first full year in operation, the plan produced a $688 million loss. Meanwhile, Kansas’s job growth actually trailed that of its neighboring states. With that nearly $700 million deficit, the state had bought itself a 1.1 percent increase in jobs, just below Missouri’s 1.5 percent and Colorado’s 3.3.

Those numbers have hardly improved in the intervening years. In 2015, job growth in Kansas was a mere 0.1 percent, even as the nation’s economy grew 1.9 percent. Brownback pledged to bring 25,000 new jobs to the state in his second term; as of January, he has brought 700. What’s more,personal income growth slowed dramatically since the tax cuts went into effect. Between 2010 and 2012, Kansas saw income growth of 6.1 percent, good for 12th in the nation; from 2013 to 2015, that rate was 3.6 percent, good for 41st.

Meanwhile, revenue shortfalls have devastated the state’s public sector along with its most vulnerable citizens. Since Brownback’s inauguration, 1,414 Kansans with disabilities have been thrown off Medicaid. In 2015, six school districts in the state were forced to end their years early for lack of funding. Cuts to health and human services are expected to cause 65 preventable deaths this year in Sedgwick County alone. In February, tax receipts came in $53 million below estimates; Brownback immediately cut $17 million from the state’s university system. This data is not lost on the people of Kansas — as of November, Brownback’s approval rating was 26 percent, the lowest of any governor in the United States.

Louisiana under Jindal fared no better.

Louisiana has replicated these results. When Bobby Jindal moved into the governor’s mansion in 2008, he inherited a $1 billion surplus. When he moved out last year, Louisiana faced a $1.6 billion projected deficit. Part of that budgetary collapse can be put on the past year's plummeting oil prices. The rest should be placed on Jindal passing the largest tax cut in the state's history and then refusing to reverse course when the state's biggest industry started tanking. Jindal's giveaway to the wealthiest citizens in the country's second-poorest state cost Louisiana roughly $800 million every year. To make up that gap, Jindal slashed social services, raided the state’s rainy-day funds, and papered over the rest with reckless borrowing. Today, the state is scrambling to resolve a $940 million budget gap for this fiscal year, with a $2 billion shortfall projected for 2017. Like Bizarro Vermont, Louisiana can no longer afford to provide public defenders for all its criminal defendants. Its Department of Children and Family Services may soon be unable to investigate every reported instance of child abuse. Education funding is down 44 percent since Jindal took office. The state’s hospitals are likely to see at least $64 million in funding cuts this year.

What has happened to these states should be a national story; because we are one election away from it being our national story. Ted Cruz claims his tax plan will cost less than $1 trillion in lost revenue over the next ten years. Leaving aside the low bar the Texas senator sets for himself — my giveaway to the one percent will cost a bit less than the Iraq War! — Cruz only stays beneath $1 trillion when you employ the kind of “dynamic scoring” that has consistently underestimated the costs of tax cuts in Kansas. Under a conventional analysis, the bill runs well over $3 trillion, with 44 percent of that lost money accruing to the one percent. John Kasich’s tax plan includes cutting the top marginal rate by more than ten percent along with a similar cut to the rates on capital gains and business taxes. Even considering Kasich’s appetite for Social Security cuts, his plan must rely on the same supply-side voodoo that Kansas has so thoroughly discredited. As for the most likely GOP nominee, even with dynamic scoring, his tax cuts would cost $10 trillion over the next ten years, with 40 percent of that gargantuan sum filling the pockets of Trump’s economic peers.

If any of these men are elected president, they will almost certainly take office with a House and Senate eager to scale up the “red-state model.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said of Brownback’s Kansas, “This is exactly the sort of thing we (Republicans) want to do here, in Washington, but can’t, at least for now.” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s celebrated budgets all depend on the same magical growth that has somehow escaped the Sunflower State.

In other words, the economic collapse into recession that now plagues Louisiana and Kansas is what will be in store for all of America should the Republicans take the White House and keep control of Congress.  America will collapse, both figuratively and literally.

We talk here a lot about how Donald Trump simply cannot be allowed to be in the White House, but no Republican can be allowed.  Kansas and Louisiana are proof that austerity is an abject and total failure, and yet that's what Republicans want to force for all 50 states.

The Ringleader Of The Circus

Trump's major super power (besides his reality-defying hair) is his ability to manipulate the American media like no other candidate before him.  Trump's ruthless "branding" negotiation have exposed how corrupt our news organizations are: if they want access to Trump and his ratings, then they have to pay Trump's price.

Staffers at the five major television networks are grappling with what role their organizations may have played in amplifying Donald Trump’s successful campaign of insults, generalizations about minority groups, and at times flat lies. 
Conversations with more than a dozen reporters, producers, and executives across the major networks reveal internal tensions about the wall-to-wall coverage Trump has received and the degree to which the Republican frontrunner has — or hasn’t — been challenged on their air.

Two network sources also confirmed the unprecedented control the television networks have surrendered to Trump in a series of private negotiations, allowing him to dictate specific details about placement of cameras at his event, to ensure coverage consists primarily of a single shot of his face. 
Network officials say the ratings have born out commercial incentives to devote their campaign coverage to largely unfiltered streams of Trump talking. CBS CEO Les Moonves quipped that Trump “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS, that’s all I got to say.” 
But many inside the networks are growing increasingly disturbed with what they’ve helped create. 
“As a programmer, it’s an easy decision, people watch it,” said one producer. “As an American, I’m sort of troubled by it, because I feel like we contribute it.” 
While there are journalists who have aggressively challenged Trump — notably Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, NBC News’ Chuck Todd, and CNN’s Jake Tapper — much of the coverage, including broadcasting his rallies and events live in their entirety, has been uncritical and even unfiltered, some of it conducted by interviewers unwilling or unable to provide much more than a platform for the candidate. 
Several network and cable news staffers rationalized the amount of Trump coverage as a response to the demand of the viewers and as accurately reflecting his position in the race. 
It’s an argument CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, has made publicly. When asked if he felt responsible for Trump’s rise, he reportedly told reporters at a lunch this week that “the frontrunner of the party is always going to get a disproportionate amount of attention.” 
Some blamed the other Republicans in the race for being unwilling to attack Trump publicly. Many are unsure of how to cover a candidate like this — one seemingly immune to the traditional expectations of honesty and respect for democratic norms — in this medium.

In 2016 America where reality TV and politics are interchangeable, Trump is the perfect candidate to completely exploit the notion of news media as an entertainment product sold by for-profit corporate business interests and not a check on power as a public good.  Trump was inevitable, given how bad the Village has been for the last 25 years.

And now they worry about the monster they've enabled?

I'd laugh, only the joke's on all of us.
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