Immigration and the Republican primary

The issue of undocumented immigrants is turning into a big issue in the Republican primary race and you can be certain that it will feature in a big way in the debates and that any crime committed by such a person is going to get huge amounts of attention and be promoted by Fox News and other conservative media as proof positive that these people are a serious menace and will kill us all in our beds if we don’t immediately round them up and throw them out.
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US lectures other countries (again)

President Obama is visiting Kenya and Ethiopia and as is usual when an American president visits a non-European country, he uses the occasion to point out flaws in those countries’ policies and gives them advice on what they should do to improve. In Kenya he highlighted the way women are treated as second-class citizens and later called for the relaxing of curbs on free speech in Ethiopia, among other things.
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Baphomet the superhero

On Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected an attempt by Mary Fallin, the Republican governor of the state, to reconsider its earlier ruling that the presence of the Ten Commandments monument on the capital grounds violated the state constitution and had to be removed, with the chief justice John Reif writing, “We carefully consider the arguments of the commission and find no merit warranting a grant of rehearing.”
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The remarkable loyalty of Republican voters

The Republican party, concerned about the outsize presence of Donald trump in their presidential primary race, is reduced to seizing on every gaffe that he or his campaign makes in the hope that it will sink his candidacy. The latest is a news report where Trump’s lawyer blasts a report that claims that ex-wife Ivana accused Trump of raping her during their period of acrimonious splitting up. In the process, the lawyer claims (wrongly) that a man cannot be accused of raping his wife.
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Smoking and Morton Downey, Jr.

Before Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, the conservative media outrage machine was led by abrasive talk show host Morton Downey, Jr., whose programs were a combination of Limbaugh politics and Jerry Springer format, where he would have on political guests who would be goaded to attack each other and create shouting matches, with Downey attacking the liberals and liberal views in the harshest terms. The studio audience would be raucous and conservative audiences loved it.
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Who will be in the debates?

With just a week to go before the first Republican primary debate on August 6, the time is drawing near for Fox News to name the ten people who will make it onto the stage. ABC News has done some number crunching and they say that there are eight people who seem likely to make the cut: Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Ben Carson
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Review: Merchants of Doubt

This review will deal with both the book and the documentary based on it. The book was written by two historians of science Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University and Erik M. Conway and was published in 2010, while the documentary was directed by Robert Kenner and released in 2014 and has just been released on DVD. I can strongly recommend both. The book is very clearly written and makes a compelling case for the authors’ thesis. Although the documentary is based on the book, its emphasis is different (dealing mostly with the climate change debate) and provides new information that is not in the book. Here’s the trailer.
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Mandatory minimum sentences

On his show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver discusses the serious problem of having mandatory minimum sentencing laws that fill up our prisons with people serving long sentences that are not proportionate to the crimes. He makes a powerful case that these laws are unjust and abusive and should not only be repealed but that those already serving long sentences because of them should have their sentences commuted or pardoned altogether.
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Baphomet finds a home

The statue of Baphomet that the Satanic Temple wanted to place alongside the monument to the Ten Commandments on the Oklahoma capital grounds needed to find a new home after the state Supreme Court ruled that the monument was unconstitutional and needed to come down. They unveiled the one-ton statue in Detroit to the cheers of hundreds of supporters who had been emailed tickets to the event at a location that was kept secret until the end to prevent protestors.
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