What are the assnuggets up to now?

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There are horrible, awful, no-good people everywhere who are doing wretched things and making the world a worse place. Let’s catch up with a few of them.

  • James O’Keefe, still lying for a living. The fraud was caught trying to make another video in which he pretends he’s someone he is not, in this case, he tried to commit election fraud to ‘prove’ it is a serious problem. It isn’t. Unsurprisingly, he was immediately caught trying to fake his identity in Michigan. This is a succinct summary of O’Keefe’s entire career.

    “James O’Keefe is a professional liar,” Dickerson said. “He just isn’t very good at it.”

  • Do you know of the all-time horrible person, Mike Cernovich? He’s an MRA and general Twitter troll, a conspiracy theorist and racist, and an advocate for rape. Not a nice guy at all. But he got invited to appear on a Fox News show called Red Eye, which prompted howls of outrage, not from lefty liberals, but from far right wingnuts who have their own reputation for looniness.

    “You’ve got to be kidding me. He’s a nutcase,” said right-wing author and radio host Ben Shapiro. “Granting any legitimacy to a fringe kook like Mike Cernovich, and all of the attendant nastiness and problems, is close to insane by any cable network.”

    “Are you serious?” asked Ben Howe, a writer and editor of the conservative blog RedState, when informed of Cernovich’s Fox News appearance. “He was a guest on fucking Red Eye? They’re giving this motherfucker legitimacy? Oh my god!”

    Shapiro is a former editor at Breitbart, and fan of the Tea Party. When you’re so extreme that you’re getting repudiated by the likes of Shapiro and Howe, just say goodbye.

  • And finally, of course, Donald Trump. Digby writes about the time he pointed his finger at a woman reporter, opened his mouth, and screamed…I mean, told a crowd of fans that she was a liar, and the Secret Service had to act to protect her from the mob.

    He knows very well what he’s doing. He’s intimidating people, especially women, into going easy on him by threatening to sic his violent cretins on them. There was no other reason to publicly name her.

    Pure, vicious demagoguery. Now he’s also primed his thugs in Pennsylvania by declaring that the only way he can lose that state is if there is cheating. This is unadulterated bullshit, of course; he’s currently substantially behind Clinton in the Pennsylvania polls. But you all know what fun we’re going to have the day after the election when Trump makes excuses for his defeat by telling his lackeys to riot.

    Also, why is CNN calling Trump’s lie a “bombshell”? It’s not. It is just an open fabrication.

Cause and effect

Why do universities dislike Republicans so much?

Writing at Salon last year, Sean McElwee and Robbie Hiltonsmith analyzed a Grapevine study from Illinois State University and found “when Republicans take over governor’s mansions they reduce spending on higher education by $0.23 per $1,000 in personal income (a measure of the state’s total tax base). Each 1 percent increase in the number of Republicans in the legislature leads to a $0.05 decrease.” As Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia told U.S. News & World Report, “Most GOP elected officials believe that universities are hotbeds of Democratic support—and the voting patterns in most college precincts support this.”

You know, a lot of faculty are pragmatic, moderate, mainstream Americans who would not be averse to a cautiously conservative government — but the Republicans have evolved into education-hating radicals. The voting patterns in college precincts reflect the contempt of the Republican party right back at them.

But just the overall statistics aren’t quite as strong a punch in the gut as the personal attacks on education and science and investment in the future exhibited in these two states:

During the Great Recession, virtually all states cut their higher education funding. But since the low point in 2009-10, states have raised their higher ed funding by an average of 10 percent. Wisconsin, on the other hand, has cut its spending by 4 percent. The day before Governor Scott Walker announced his candidacy for president, he signed a budget cut of $250 million for Wisconsin public universities. (He wanted to cut $300 million, but the legislature wouldn’t go that far.) He also wanted to gut the La Follette-era “Wisconsin Idea,” such that the university system’s mission was no longer “the search for truth” but “to meet the state’s workforce needs”—proposed changes that Walker unbelievably blamed on a “drafting error.”

Something similar occurred in Louisiana under another Republican governor who made a failed bid for the White House in 2016. “The scope of Louisiana’s disinvestment is both startling and unique,” mourned The Advocate of Baton Rouge. “Louisiana … according to national surveys, has cut higher education funding more than any other state since the slowdown began. State aid to universities here has been slashed by 55 percent.” At the start of the recession, Louisiana covered 60 percent of university expenses; under Jindal, it fell to 25 percent, with tuition rising accordingly.

Why do Republicans hate America? Why do Republicans want to destroy science?

Academic failures in elementary humanity

Here’s the deal: I am paid to teach, which means I have a professional relationship with my students, and it’s an ongoing relationship that typically extends over four years. My job is to educate them in those domains of biology I specialize in. The administrators here have an expectation that I will show up, be prepared, behave professionally, and engage with students at a level beyond lecturing at them: I advise them on professional opportunities, I write recommendations, I try to help with small crises that might derail their progress.

I do not have sex with them or beat them up. This should be obvious, right? Those kinds of behaviors would be antithetical to my university’s mission and my obligations.

This seems to be a poorly understood concept at the University of Sussex. Dr Lee Salter was a lecturer there. He was convicted of viciously beating his girlfriend (warning: graphic photos of a battered, bloody woman at that link), a woman he met as a student.

This is where it gets into some difficult boundaries. She was a former student, she is an adult, and this was a consensual relationship. That part, you can’t prohibit…but it’s a bit skeevy, and says that you should be keeping an eye on the guy to make sure he is not preying on students.

The part where he batters her bloody was not consensual. That part immediately moves the relationship from slightly creepy (but maybe it was “true love”!) into flagrant criminality. That’s where you’ve revealed that this wasn’t a healthy relationship between two adults, but an abusive relationship with a man who thinks he’s the boss.

Gail Gray, chief executive of RISE, Brighton and Hove’s specialist domestic abuse service, said: “This is not a romantic ‘Educating Rita’ scenario. This is about a man who has abused and exploited his position of power and authority to perpetrate domestic abuse.”

So far, so tawdry. But what is appalling is that the administrators at this university were completely aware of his behavior, and continued to allow him to teach students, despite the clear violation of university policies.

During the 10 month period between his arrest and conviction, Salter continued to teach, the university has admitted, while Ms Smith said she remained so traumatised she was afraid to leave the house.

This is despite regulations laid out on the university’s own website which say “staff and students are subject to disciplinary procedures that, amongst other things, proscribe violent behaviour”.

The policy reads: “The University will take disciplinary action in accordance with its procedures against anyone who behaves in a violent manner including, should it be necessary, the immediate exclusion of the perpetrator from the campus.”

“The University may also seek injunctions to exclude the perpetrators of violence form University premises in order to protect staff and students from further violent incidents.”

These problems will continue to arise as long as the awareness that domestic violence is unacceptable fails to be understood at all levels. Too often, having something written in a policy handbook is a cover-your-ass move to forestall actually doing something about it.

What should have happened is that the university administration should have said, “You’re going on a trial for beating up a former student? You’re not going into a classroom until this is resolved, and are on academic leave.”

His colleagues should have said, “Nope, we’re not working with you until this is cleared up.”

And the students at the university should have been made aware of the charges, so that they wouldn’t sign up for a course and then discover it’s being taught by an accused violent abuser. There’s an element of coercion there — students must take certain courses at certain times to graduate on schedule, so the entire university has to take responsibility for the professoriate, for their safety.

We also discover that this wasn’t unusual for Salter.

Described by Ms Smith as a manipulative and cruel man”, Salter alluded to her of having previous relationships with former students. She said he attended his court sentencing accompanied by another young student from the University of Brighton.

The court heard that Salter’s relationship with that student would be “closely monitored” as part of his sentencing.

Jebus. This is a guy with a thing for young students. He’s a predator. He should not be employed by any educational institution, because he brings disrepute to the entire profession.

Yet the University of Sussex kept him on the job until only recently? I didn’t know that lecturers in media and film were such a rare commodity that they had to be retained at all cost (I know science professors aren’t; if I were tossed out for good cause there’d be a long line of applicants ready to step right into my shoes.)

Please, please go Galt again

Jason Lewis was a conservative talk radio host in Minneapolis, and a couple of years ago he quit, on air (most likely this was totally staged — his colleagues weren’t particularly convincing actors, and for people shocked about his abrupt departure, they sure spend a lot of time plugging his new website). This is his very Libertarian on-air announcement.

He’s an amazing jerk. He’s so Libertarian, he doesn’t see a problem with slavery.

In 2009, Lewis complained that “real Americans” believe Hurricane Katrina victims were “a bunch of whiners.” Last year he claimed, “the median income for blacks in America would make them rich in most African nations, not most – all.” He went on to argue that the United States government lacks the authority to outlaw slavery.”

“In fact, if you really want to be quite frank about it, how does somebody else owning a slave affect me?” Lewis said in an audio commentary added to his book Power Divided is Power Checked: The Argument for States’ Rights. “It doesn’t. If I don’t think it is right, I won’t own one, and people always say, ‘Well, if you don’t want to marry somebody of the same sex, you don’t have to, but why tell somebody else they can’t?’ Uh, you know if you don’t want to own a slave, don’t. But don’t tell other people they can’t.”

It’s rare to see a Libertarian quite so open about the fact that his philosophy is entirely “ME ME ME” and not at all about individual human liberty, since he doesn’t even consider the rights of the slaves. It’s very nice that if he disagrees with slavery, he just won’t own one…but what if he agrees with slavery, but his slave doesn’t?

Well, he’s come back from Galt’s Gulch to run for congress, and has actually won the Republican primary in Minnesota’s 6th district. We know you all miss Michele Bachman, so there’s a chance he’ll be there in congress to make Minnesota look just as ridiculous.

He’ll be running against Democrat Angie Craig in November. A woman. This could be interesting, considering what Jason Lewis thinks of women.

I never thought in my lifetime where’d you have so many single, or I should say, yeah single women who would vote on the issue of somebody else buying their diaphragm. This is a country in crisis. Those women are ignorant in, I mean, the most generic way. I don’t mean that to be a pejorative. They are simply ignorant of the important issues in life. Somebody’s got to educate them.

There’s something about young, single women where they’re behaving like Stepford wives. They walk in lock step – is that really the most important thing to a 25-year old unmarried woman – uh getting me to pay for her pills? Seriously?! Is that what we’ve been reduced to? You can be bought off for that?

You’ve got a vast majority of young single women who couldn’t explain to you what GDP means. You know what they care about? They care about abortion. They care about abortion and gay marriage. They care about ‘The View.’ They are non-thinking.

Sadly, it looks like it’ll be a close race, when it shouldn’t be.

Zika and political obstructionism

Maki Naro has a very good overview of the Zika virus in comic form.

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The effects of the virus are actually easy to understand: mild, flu-like symptoms in adults, but a significant chance of debilitating brain damage to developing fetuses. You don’t want to get Zika because it’s unpleasant and nasty, but your fetus must be protected from it because it’s devastating.

Unfortunately, the USA has a dysfunctional congress that can’t respond to serious problems anymore. An effort to dedicate money (to the tune of almost two billion dollars) to preventing the spread of the disease was killed because Republicans loaded it with irrelevant, poisonous addenda — baggage to snipe at Planned Parenthood (an organization that is vital to putting together a response) or to allow Confederate flags to fly, for instance.

But especially unfortunately, diseases that cause birth defects are a vector for the pro-life-at-any-cost fanatics to gallop in and wreck any process with their delusional antics. We are supposed to love that tiny slug of human fetal tissue so much that we’ll defy any attempt to combat a virus that will poison its nervous system, and don’t you dare think about abortions. A fetal slug with a deformed, shriveled brain is still to be regarded as a full human person!

If you think I’m making this up, listen to Marco Rubio.

Obviously, microcephaly is a terrible prenatal condition that kids are born with. And when they are, it’s a lifetime of difficulties. So I get it.

I’m not pretending to you that that’s an easy question you asked me. But I’m pro-life. And I’m strongly pro-life. I believe all human life should be protected by our law, irrespective of the circumstances or condition of that life.

No, he doesn’t get it. He’s lying.

He also doesn’t believe in protecting life, because he’s also in favor of the death penalty, and in fact thinks the big problem with capital punishment is that we don’t shuffle the condemned into the death machine fast enough.

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Meanwhile, Donald Trump thinks we have Zika under control, and is praising Florida governor Rick Scott for how he’s handling it. His little PR helpers are arguing for inaction because birth defects are nothing new.

The United States has been paralyzed by the Republican virus. They know nothing, they do nothing, and they actively interfere with necessary responses to problems. We need to do something about that. Never vote for any Republican, ever.

Dangerous times

This long list (taken from The Atlantic) is a collection of prominent Republicans who have endorsed Donald Trump for president. That they’ve done so already speaks poorly of their character.

Bob Dole
John Boehner
Trent Lott
Dick Cheney
Newt Gingrich
Reince Priebus
Rick Perry
Mike Huckabee
Bobby Jindal
Eric Cantor
Ben Carson
Rick Santorum
Herman Cain
Paul Ryan
Kevin McCarthy
Steve Scalise
Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Raul Labrador
Mitch McConnell
Jeff Sessions
John McCain
Kelly Ayotte
Rand Paul
Marco Rubio
Rob Portman
Richard Burr
Roy Blunt
Ron Johnson
Pat Toomey
Tom Cotton
Bob Corker
Orrin Hatch
Tim Scott
John Cornyn
Chris Christie
Paul LePage
Nikki Haley
Pete Ricketts
Mike Pence
Pat McCrory
Scott Walker
Donald Rumsfeld
Ann Coulter
Bill O’Reilly
Sean Hannity
Matt Drudge
Sarah Palin
Rush Limbaugh
Rupert Murdoch
Michael Reagan
Hugh Hewitt
Sheldon Adelson
Peter Thiel
Stanly Hubbard
T. Boone Pickens
Foster Friess
Woody Johnson
Mel Sembler
Jerry Falwell
Ralph Reed
James Dobson
Richard Land

Given Trump’s latest outrage — suggesting that assassination would be a possible way to prevent Hillary Clinton from appointing judges who would restrict gun ownership — it’s time for these people to do the right thing and renounce the man.

Not that I expect they will.

His behavior is beyond the pale. A demagogue has now broached the idea of murdering his democratic opponent to a mob of dangerous loons.

These loons.

I call that incitement to violence.

I voted, and I partially disagree with Charles Pierce

We got out and voted in the Minnesota primary this morning. We were the first ones there — I was #1! — and it looks like it’ll be a low turnout. Get out and vote! If you’re not a Minnesotan, here’s a list of important election dates all across the country.

I also read a piece by Charles Pierce which filled me with horror. There are vague noises, which I hope are entirely false, that Clinton wants to consult with…Henry Goddamn Motherfucking Kissinger on foreign policy.

On Monday, there was a fascinating piece in Tiger Beat On The Potomac in which some unnamed people in the campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton whispered to a reporter that the campaign was sending out feelers to what the story laughingly referred to as the foreign-policy “elders” of the Republican Party. The list of foreign policy “elders,” according to TBOTP’s sources, included the following examples of the Republican Undead:

Henry Kissinger: war criminal and abettor of abattoirs around the world.

James Baker: political survivor, mastermind of the Great Florida Ratfck of 2000, Bush family retainer.

George Schultz: potential Iran-Contra stool pigeon.

Condoleezza Rice: National Security Advisor during Worst National Security Disaster in U.S. History.

No. No no no no no. This is not tolerable. If true (and again, I hope it is not), it would confirm my worst fears about Clinton. This is nightmare material.

It will cost her votes, too.

If Hillary Clinton actively seeks, or publicly accepts, the endorsement of Henry Kissinger, I will vote for Gary Johnson and Bill Weld on November 8. (Jill Stein, you might’ve been a contender, but going off to Red Square to talk about Vladimir Putin and human rights? Being an honored guest of a Russian propaganda channel? I don’t think so.) Kissinger is a bridge too far. He is responsible for more unnecessary deaths than any official of a putative Western democracy since the days when Lord John Russell was starving the Irish, if not the days when President Andy Jackson was inaugurating the genocide of the Cherokee. He should be coughing his life away as an inmate at The Hague, not whispering in the ears of a putatively progressive Democratic presidential candidate. I can tolerate (somewhat) the notion of her reaching out to the rest of the wax museum there, but Kissinger is a monster too far. He is my line in the sand. I can choose who I endorse to lead my country, a blessing that Henry Kissinger worked his whole career to deny to too many people.

I agree with Pierce that Kissinger is an abominable monster who ought to be in prison, and he’s one of the small number of people whose inevitable death will provoke cheers from me. If Clinton were to be even more chummy with Kissinger than she already is, I’ll be in line for “Anyone But Hillary” — in four years. But not this election. She has my vote locked up, which is not a good situation to be in, but I’ll definitely vote for the lesser of two evils.

This is something else to damn Trump for. He is so appallingly awful that the Democratic candidate is free to wander off into unthinkably ugly territory with few consequences.

Not only would I prefer just about anyone else to anyone who strokes Kissinger, but I’d also like to see the return of a viable, rational Republican party.

It works both ways

Martin Shkreli, the repellent pharma-bro, is now publicly diagnosing Hillary Clinton with Parkinson’s Disease.

He has no qualifications at all for offering medical advice.

Shkreli dropped out of high school his senior year but graduated because he had the necessary credits and got his bachelor’s degree in business administration, not medicine, from Baruch College in 2004. He did not go to medical school.

Yet he has a video that’s over 2 hours long in which he meanders on about this.

If you find this as revolting and inappropriate as I do, I’ll just mention…do you feel the same way about all the non-psychiatrists claiming that Donald Trump, or his mobs of cheering fans, are mentally ill?

Don’t be like Martin Shkreli.