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The New York Times:

The Republican National Committee’s decision last year to claim control of the 2016 debate process was welcomed by many in the party who believe that Mitt Romney, the 2012 nominee, was hurt by both the pummeling and the positions he took during the 20 debates in that primary contest. [...]

As the national committee gathers in Arizona this week for its spring meeting, it will discuss how to determine the candidates who will make the cut for the first sanctioned debate, which is set for Aug. 6 in Cleveland and will air on Fox News. But there is already a robust discussion behind the scenes, with candidates who are lagging in early polls nudging the party to take an inclusive approach in the initial forums.

It is not entirely clear who will be in charge of devising or enforcing the debate criteria — that is, if there are criteria. One member of the national committee panel charged with overseeing the debates said its members had discussed ceding the decision entirely to Fox News.

Maybe it's time to drop that 'fair and balanced' conceit.
Discuss

Wed Apr 22, 2015 at 07:31 AM PDT

What 2016 is about.

by MBNYC

So we've apparently entered silly season; the habitual fight to exhaustion in dueling diaries over who will best represent Democrats in the coming race for the White House and why that choice should be so, must be so, cannot possibly be otherwise.

There are a few weaknesses inherent in that approach. Just to begin with, if a Democrat wins that election, any Democrat really, given that we are Democrats too, we all win. Practically a tautology, one would think, considering that Democrats are by and large very homogenous in their policy views. It's their personalities that differ, and what they symbolize.

Ideological polarization, U.S. Congress
I'd imagine this to be a statement with all the charm of the blindingly fucking obvious on a partisan site; but then again, I like to hit myself in the face with a hammer for enjoyment, this for the simple reason that I'm not very bright. So it's well within the realm of the possible that I don't understand arguments more sophisticated than mine. Res Ipsa Loquitur and all that, now hand me the hammer.

Or perhaps not.

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Michael Bouldin, August 2014
Originally published on New York's new progressive blog, WriteNowNY.

When I was seventeen, my West German high school sent a group of students to Moscow. The year was 1987. To us kids, everything we saw was imbued with the aura of permanence, the inevitable division of our world, the only one we knew, bifurcated between East and West at the cruel knife edge of the Berlin Wall. An exotic world we knew only from screens, Hollywood’s or the nightly news, dangerous in its attraction to those of weak character, for us, a voyage somewhere from curiosity to apprehension. Monuments towering to an empty heaven, workers, state heroes here in ideal, their hard muscles and harder smiles carved in steel, unseeing eyes fixed on a future gleaming far off in the void, expectant gazes fixed on an ether a world away from the grime below.

Sure, the shops were empty, while a few crumpled dollar bills in the right hands would buy you a superb bottle of Russian vodka, clearer than any water, lethal beyond imagining and yet familiar. Our parents had these things, if we kids were lucky; the men and women toiling in the fields did not, but maybe the marble and steel heroes of labor had better connections. What mom and dad didn’t have were seat tickets to the fabled Bolshoi, its stage a palace in the soft shadows of the Kremlin parapets, the hall empty but for us and a scattering of the noble proletariat, the Soviet promise made real in an hour of peerless art. Fortress walls outside, ancient crimson battlements, gold flaming in the sunset. Above red stars brighter than the moon, a promise of the coming world revolution, where once the eagles of the czars were mounted, double-headed as they were in Constantinople a thousand years before.

Moscow is sprawling, in a plain stretching unbroken from the Atlantic to the Urals, Russia vast to defy comprehension. All we knew of it was of missiles and tanks in their tens of thousands, soldiers in their millions, worker drones in their hundreds of millions, animated presumably by devotion to beliefs alien to us, perhaps (we hoped) treated by them with an irony eluding the state, omnipresent yet unseen, imbued in limitless arbitrary power. The Red Menace seemed quite real, proud scarlet banners waving from towers beyond count. The people in their blood-red shadows didn’t know any other life, how could they, or desire a different world unless in whispers, small rebellions of no account to the suffocating power of what was. Were they happy? In some ways, surely, always the human heart seeks happiness; but we had the escape of Sheremetyevo to look forward to, they did not.

Two years later, the glittering mirage collapsed under its own weight, without warning.

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Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 02:45 PM PDT

I'm sorry, a what-sucker? Come again?

by MBNYC

So every once in a while, a diary like this becomes necessary. African-American Kossacks write them with a terrible regularity, limitless as the tides (I, II, III); Jewish Kossacks as well (I, II); and now, if you don't mind, I'm going to do the same for the gays. Can't speak for the womyn gays, though; love ya, gals, with all my heart and soul, but this here is a guy thing. Totally come to the after-party, comp tickets at the door, bottle service and all, but let me get this out of the way first.

You see, a lot of us men of the fabulous persuasion receive or perform oral sex. In the vernacular, suck cock. Kinda goes with the territory of man-on-man sex and would seem to be self-explanatory. This practice makes us, English being the wonderfully idiomatic language it is, cocksuckers. One of those amazing Anglo-Saxon words that just drips with disdain.

Along with the F and P words, cocksucker is the insult of choice among troglodytes, teabaggers and trolls towards guys like me, and more generally any man these types don't particularly like. The implications are, I suppose, weakness, femininity, pretty much the same moron-shortspeak as the oft-used lack of balls.

Never happened to me, mind you, because nobody in their right mind would fucking dare, but it happens to others, gets thrown around occasionally here, and guess what?

It is not fucking acceptable.

And yeah, I suck cock myself, plus a few other fun things best left to your imagination or some spectacular videos. All this not because I'm a slut, though I am, but because it's normal, fun, sociable and became legal in 2003. My sex life isn't a source of shame; I'm a man, not atypically for my gender, I brag about it to the point of general annoyance. Honi soit qui mal y pense and all that.

What makes me proud, because I and many others fought for these simple acts to be rights, is walking down the street hand in hand with another man, fall in love with him if I damn well please, drown slowly in the pools of his eyes, listen to his peaceful breathing while he sleeps, wake up held tight in arms smooth as velvet, and then shout to the world that his smile to me shines brighter than the entire wheeling firmament of stars.

That's what a cocksucker really is. Now tell me that's not worth fighting for.

But wait, there's more.

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It's not a secret that ideology divides much of Daily Kos these days.

This division results in two sides, factions or tribes. The easiest way to tell them apart is probably their respective view of the President of the United States. Convenience, laziness or utter disgusted frustration, take your pick, calls them – us – Roxers and Suxers. We are proud peoples, locked in battle.

Well, at least my tribe is proud. The other side, probably because they live in holes down by the river and subsist mainly on snails, is angry and bitter, not worth listening to. They are also wrong, on everything, always, a Platonic Ideal of Wrong. Which is why we, the good, smart, not-wrong people, fight them. Rumor has it they feel the same way about us, not that we care what the snail-gobblers think. Like I said, they are always wrong. Wretched hole dwellers.

Forgive the sarcasm, please. I'm not actually writing this with the intent of attacking anyone or wasting your time. Nor is there a mantle of sainthood I could credibly claim in talking about this fight. What I have learned is that some enemies aren't, that we have common ground, and now is the time to seek it. A time to stop fucking around and get serious.

Say, about the NSA spying scandal.

Per whistle-blower Ed Snowden, the NSA, an agency within the Executive Branch of the United States government, is developing and exercising the capability to look at the electronic data of every American and indeed, the rest of the world. This agency is creating a tool, in secret, that could fundamentally transform this country; Daniel Ellsberg speaks of a turn-key police state. This tool is already in use, facts about it knowingly misrepresented to Congress, something I seem to recall used to be called perjury. NSA's activities could well be in violation of the Fourth Amendment. I wasn't aware 'Amendment" meant 'Suggestion' back in the day.

The international standing and alliances of the United States have been damaged by this leak, and it is entirely likely that U.S. business interests abroad have been and will continue to be damaged as well. Trust in government in this country is already at historic lows, at the very least, these revelations will not improve it.

It's that bad.

As problems go, I'd say we're somewhere in the You-Have-Got-To-Be-Fucking-Kidding-Me class of problems. To be clear: there is no question in my mind that the President, to be blunt, fucked up. As did his administration. Arguing about the definition of whistleblower or ripping a journalist in Brazil doesn't void the fuckup.

I cannot, and will not, defend or excuse it. Anyone looking for an apologia, sorry to disappoint. I may change my mind, but let me finish the howling in rage thing I'm doing before I get back to you.

That does not change the mistake it is to make this a debate about the merits of the personalities involved. Barack Obama could just be here on loan from his angel duties in heaven for all I care, Edward Snowden fuck goats and various other livestock companions in the middle of Red Square in broad daylight, neither would matter.

The capability of our government to spy on its people, that's what matters. Lying to Congress because terror sets a reckless precedent I don't even have the language for.

Rox vs. Sux is great for flamewars. Not for analysis.

Policy does trump personality.

Which is why this card-carrying fanboy left the comfort zone of friendly opinion and crossed enemy lines. Not an easy journey, or for that matter, initially well received. There is too much poison in the air between us, poison I've added to myself, to expect otherwise. Obama critics are free to doubt my sincerity in this writing, by the way. Suspect timing at the least. A hoax, perhaps, another distraction in the ongoing meta-war.

There is no hoax. The story begins right here. It's what Dallasdoc was talking about here.

He was kind enough to send me this as well:

An appeal to my fellow administration critics:

NSA domestic surveillance programs have become the latest political chew toy being fought over in our never-ending pie wars.  This issue is too important for that.  It is imperative that every member of this community -- and every citizen of this country -- joins together in unison to deliver the message to our government that the programs recently revealed are unacceptable and go beyond the limit of what the Constitution permits.  In order to give this message the power it must have, we must put aside our squabbles and find a way to come together in a common purpose.  

MBNYC is reaching out to the administration's friends here, hoping to allow them to have a dialogue out of which we may find a common language with which to speak to our leaders, clearly and unmistakeably.  Please, PLEASE allow the administration's friends to have this conversation.  Avoid the temptation to squabble over personalities.  Do not bring past grudges in here.  There are plenty of other opportunities to do that.  Engage helpfully, constructively and with open heart, or sit back and let them work it out for themselves.  Time is growing short for us to influence change on this vitally important issue, and we must seize our opportunity.  United we can be powerful; divided we will be irrelevant.

Dallasdoc

I'll say this as a Roxer with impeccable credentials: I'm willing, we should all be, to find that common language and purpose. Our government is spying on us. Building the capacity to do so more rigorously. We can honorably disagree on the merits of this President. We cannot tolerate our rights being infringed. If that's not reason to seek common ground, what is?

And if someone of Dallasdoc's obvious integrity and insight is foe not friend, whatever the pretext, something is wrong. Too wrong to be justified, only regretted. Like I said: we all lose.

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"What's the matter with Kansas?" indeed. Far removed from the media spotlight of New York City or Washington, the intrepid lawmakers of that great state have come up with something new and exciting: a bill, HB2183, that makes it legally possible to quarantine and/or physically isolate (concentrate?) people infected with HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that is the proximate cause of AIDS.

And by bill, I mean a piece of legislation that has already passed one chamber of the state legislature and merely requires an additional vote and the governor's signature to become valid, enforceable law.

Said governor is Sam Brownback, a notorious reactionary during his brief, unhappy - for the country, he surely had a blast - tenure in the U.S. Senate, who these days seems to be intent on turning his entire state into an Ayn Rand income-tax-free theme park with action rides based on every single terrible right wing idea ever hatched. This is a man who seems to take not just pride but outright pleasure from cutting spending on school lunches, or raising taxes on the poor while cutting them for the 1%. Remember back in 2011, when Rick Perry was running for pretzeldent and threw that huge prayer party in Austin? Only one other governor out of the fifty attended that particular freak show - and that would be Sam Brownback.

Exactly the kind of guy you'd totally trust with a legal tool that lets him lock up, pardon, isolate, mainly gay men and people of color, all without those liberal niceties of due process, right?

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The Washington Post:

Most Americans support tough new measures to counter gun violence, including banning assault weapons and posting armed guards at every school, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

More than half of Americans — 52 percent in the poll — say the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., has made them more supportive of gun control; just 5 percent say they are now less apt to back tighter restrictions. Most also are at least somewhat worried about a mass shooting in their own community, with concern jumping to 65 percent among those with school-age children at home.

The findings, which also show broad bipartisan support for mandatory background checks to purchase firearms at gun shows, came as President Obama said Monday that he will lay out specific White House proposals on gun-control legislation and executive actions this week.

The poll, conducted by Capital Insight, was in the field January 10-13, 2013. n=1001, MoE ± 3.5%, targeting landlines and cellphones. Poll respondents divide into 56% non gun-owners, while 44% own at least one firearm.
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From today's You-can't-make-this-shit-up file comes this choice nugget.

According to gun groups who feel threatened by the Obama administration's newfound push for gun-control legislation, January 19 has now been designated "Gun Appreciation Day," which somehow will be somehow different from all the other days gun owners appreciate their firearms.

The timing has raised eyebrows since the new "holiday" falls two days before President Obama's inauguration and because the groups behind it — a coalition including the Second Amendment Foundation, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Citizens and Country, and more — are speaking out against Obama and Democratic lawmakers in particular.

"We need to ban politicians who assault our rights, not firearms that are used thousands of times a day to protect lives and property from criminal attack," Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation tells The Washington Post's Rachel Weiner.

Web banner
Because Freedom!
What could possibly go wrong, right? Hey, guns have feelings too, and right now, they could use a hug.
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Breaking in Washington, D.C. via Facebook: A group of AIDS activists from ACT UP, the Aids Coalition to Unleash Power, just stormed John Boehner's office on Capitol Hill, to protest the GOP budget's cuts in HIV/Aids funding and the general assholishness of the Speaker. Full disclosure: I'm a member of the New York chapter myself.

And because nothing gets the GOP's attention quite as quickly as a flock of naked queers, well, they stripped. No word yet on whether or how much John Boehner cried, unfortunately.

Pix [NSFW] over the jump. Updates as they happen.

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We've all seen the topline numbers; the President re-elected with almost 64 million votes, about 51% of the popular vote and a wipe-out in the Electoral College. The poor, sad GOP still doesn't quite know what hit it, or just how high the cliff it fell off really is. And how humiliating it must feel, to have a skinny black dude with a funny name wipe the floor with the most stereotypically patrician opponent imaginable.

But really, they should have seen it coming, and not just because the horserace numbers, unskewed or otherwise, were never in their favor. When you dig a little bit deeper into the national psyche, it becomes clear that the country has changed. This is Obama's America now, and there are some tantalizing indicators in public opinion that it's here to stay.

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It's become our quadrennial ritual; election day dawns, cold and bright here in the City of New York, the coffee bubbles in its pot, the towers across the East River glittering in the rosy light of the young sun. It's that day again, when me and the boyfriend bundle ourselves up against the November chill and make the short walk across the park, past the monument to the dead of some forgotten war, and step into the warm comfort of the polling site.

And it is comforting. The volunteers are still cheerful, with hours of patient work ahead of them; the neighbors, people you might see at the grocery store or just rush by on your way to the subway, are there too, and all on a common purpose: to make our voices heard, render judgment on the last four years and help choose who will govern in our name in the next four. Across this sprawling city and throughout the vast land beyond, millions of others prepare to do the very same thing, to speak out and claim their voice in our common future.

Government of the people, by the people, for the people, this is what it looks like. In that musty warm room, all are equal; race, gender, faith, age, wealth, sexual preference, ethnicity, national origin, don't matter. It's a brief moment, mundane perhaps, but majestic in its simplicity. This is the one day when all Americans come together and do the very same thing, all distinctions among us leveled and regardless of our outlook or partisan allegiances, because we choose to believe in the idea of us. This idea of us, of We The People, no matter where we come from, what we believe, look like or who we are, being free to shape our future, our common hopes and dreams, is what makes America unique, not just another spot on a map with a flag and a theme song. E Pluribus Unum, Out of Many, One.

And it's because of that idea of us, of we, that I marked my ballot for Barack Obama.

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AP:

HUDSON, Wis. — Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan plans to begin airing ads in Wisconsin as he asks voters to elect him to an eighth House term that he hopes to never serve.

Contracts formalized Tuesday with at least one Milwaukee television station show that Ryan’s congressional ads will start airing Wednesday morning and go initially for two weeks. The Ryan congressional ads start in the same week as presidential ticket mate Mitt Romney’s commercials went on air in Wisconsin, although the cost for the two sets of ads are drawn from different campaign accounts. [...]

Ryan’s congressional campaign manager Kevin Seifert confirmed that ads defending the seat will run in the Milwaukee and Madison markets. He said Ryan expects to run House ads through the Nov. 6 election. They will be paid for with a Ryan campaign fund that brimmed with more than $5.4 million as of late July.

Nothing to add, is there?
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