No bail for Bundy – judge considers him untrustworthy

Nevada rancher and anti-authority figure Cliven Bundy lost a renewed bid Thursday for release from jail ahead of trial on federal conspiracy and assault charges stemming from an armed standoff against government agents two years ago.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Carl Hoffman pointed to the violence alleged in an indictment accusing Bundy of inciting the impasse to stop a roundup of cattle from public land near his ranch in April 2014, and to a history of Bundy ignoring federal court orders.

“You say you’ll continue to do ‘whatever it takes,'” Hoffman said in a Las Vegas courtroom where some Bundy backers wore brown T-shirts emblazoned with the three-word slogan.

I do not believe, Mr. Bundy, that you will comply with my court orders any more than you have complied with previous court orders,” the judge said.

Bundy and four of his adult sons are among 19 people now facing federal charges that could put them in prison for the standoff for the rest of their lives…

Bundy’s defense lawyer, Joel Hansen, said his client simply won’t acknowledge that federal law applies. That consistent denial led Bundy last week to decline to enter a plea to charges including conspiracy, assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal officer, obstruction and firearms offenses. Hoffman entered a not-guilty plea at that time on Bundy’s behalf…

Several people who face charges with Bundy in the Nevada standoff also have been charged in the occupation of an Oregon nature preserve that aimed to oppose federal land restrictions. A judge on Wednesday prohibited U.S. marshals from transferring Cliven Bundy’s sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy and others to Nevada for court hearings.

It’s only been about 150 years since this was all sorted out. Part of the federalism of living in a democratic republic. Nutballs challenge it every now and then – and lose. Most of the time they don’t carry guns into the discussion.

Trump’s quote of the evening

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I know Trump has said this before, so technically it’s hardly new. Still, I mean, it’s…it’s…oh hell:

❝I am going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. Remember that. Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 percent and 5 percent unemployment. The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent. Do you think if we had 5 percent unemployment, do you really think we’d have these gatherings?

Yeah, Trump “heard” 42 percent recently. You betcha. Trump hears a lot of things, sort of like Joan of Arc. In any case, I assume Trump keeps saying this because it goes over well with his audiences. Why might this be?

Trump fans are really bad at arithmetic.

Trump fans know an ungodly number of unemployed people in their immediate circle of friends.

Trump fans are really eager to believe the government is lying to them.

Trump fans don’t actually know what unemployment is.

Trump fans don’t really have a clue what he’s saying. It’s just mumbo jumbo delivered with authority, and they love it.

I dunno. Could be all of the above, I suppose.

Seems reasonably inclusive.

You’re a Nazi and other truths according to Trump’s fact-checking

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Donald Trump has long been at odds with our beleaguered leagues of fact-checkers, who regularly award him “Pants on Fire,” “Four Pinocchios” and other colorful rulings on his truthiness.

Yet somehow such definitive, unanimous debunking never seems to faze the Republican presidential front-runner. And I think I’ve discovered why.

It’s because Trump — like Socrates, among other trailblazing truth-seekers throughout history — has developed his own innovative method for fact-checking. Rather than relying on stale, lamestream-media techniques such as gathering evidence, crunching numbers or consulting experts, he takes a different route: He goes online and sees whether random people agree with him…

Reality may have a well-known liberal bias, but Trump’s Twitter followers do not. Nor do the conspiracy theory Web sites from which Trump also seems to glean much of his information and policy ideas…

I began to wonder: What’s it like to navigate life as Trump does? What’s it like to learn about human existence via Twitter, Reddit message boards and the Drudge Report?

To find out, I compiled a list of things you’d learn were true if you fact-checked them solely by seeing whether strangers on the Internet agreed with you.

Some of the Top 10:

1. You are a Nazi. I am a Nazi. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both Nazis. Everyone on the Internet is, eventually, a Nazi, according to other people on the Internet who disagree with them and who themselves become Nazis if any conversation goes on long enough…

3. You have cancer. Several really, really rare forms of cancer. Also lupus, mad cow disease, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis and a urinary tract infection. Or maybe it’s just a common cold? Either way the ailment(s) can be cured by purchasing dietary supplements from a sketchy Web site featuring testimonials from a person currently running for president. Modern medicine is for losers…

5. If only Ron Paul had been president, we would not have had the secret hyperinflation pandemic currently ravaging the nation. Also, gold and bitcoins have been and will continue to be the safest places in which to store your life savings, excluding perhaps your mattress, a Nigerian prince’s bank account or your hollowed-out spare copy of “Atlas Shrugged.”

9. Obama is a secret Muslim. Also maybe Thomas Jefferson was a secret Muslim. As with Nazism, pretty much everyone you dislike is a secret Muslim. Unless they already admit to being a Muslim, in which case they’re probably also a secret Mexican who wants to steal your job.

And if you don’t forward a link to this blog post to at least 10 people you’ll have nightmares the rest of your life about some bearded old Red glaring at you.

Taliban Tea Party advances their tactics


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The Taliban Tea Party will continue to press forward towards their version of the 19th Century whether or not the rest of the Republican Party volunteers. The Koch Bros will continue their funding at least as long as their ilk funded the John Birch Society.

The only surprise has been the number of Republicans in elective office with as little backbone as Democrats. You would think that with as many years experience as some have, dedication to Big Business and Capitalism as a class would trump fealty to Big Oil and extractive industries alone – and the promise of more support for hating women, Latinos, Black people, trade unions, intelligentsia, artists and pretty much everyone outside the borders of the GOUSA.

Turkey’s EU membership bid falters — Germany unrelenting

Turkey’s chances of a breaking a three-year stalemate and relaunching its bid to join the European Union look like being dashed because of the government’s ruthless response to three weeks of street protests amid worsening friction between Ankara and Berlin.

The foreign ministry in Berlin summoned the Turkish ambassador to Germany on Friday to explain the harsh language directed at the chancellor, Angela Merkel, by Egemen Bağis, the Turkish official in charge of negotiations with the EU.

Merkel had said earlier this week that she was “appalled at the very tough” response by the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in ordering riot police to clear central Istanbul of thousands of protesters last weekend.

Bağis accused the chancellor of playing domestic politics, said that anyone using Turkey for political purposes would suffer “an inauspicious end” and warned of severe retaliation if the negotiations were called off.

Turkey opened negotiations to join the EU eight years ago, at the same time as Croatia. While Croatia joins next week as the 28th member, Turkey’s bid has been frozen for three years…Merkel and the German centre-right remain firmly opposed to Turkey joining. Her Christian Democrats’ draft manifesto for the general elections in September states: “We reject full membership for Turkey because it does not meet the conditions for EU entry…”

Negotiations were supposed to resume next week after a long hiatus because the French president, François Hollande, lifted the block imposed by his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, as a gesture of goodwill. Talks were to take place on regional development, an issue that could have influenced Ankara’s policy towards parts of the south-east populated mainly by Kurds who have long been campaigning for greater rights and more devolved government.

But Germany and the Netherlands are refusing a green light for next week’s resumption, triggering a European debate over the most sensible response to the turmoil in Turkey.

Discussions about how to respond to the turmoil in Turkey have nothing to do with either the causes of the turmoil or core reasons for the refusal of admittance. The turmoil results from a populist government trying to cure every modernist problem it sees with the hammer of suppression.

Rejection of Turkey’s membership in the greater economy the EU affords is a twofold reaction to a government in Turkey led by a liar and hypocrite. The years of Erdoğan’s populist government have been characterized by his wink and a nod to a goal of crushing modernism, secular freedoms central to Turkey’s constitution. He’s given the wink to his rural religious supporters and nodded assent to the constitution – while plotting its demise.

Obama stands up for common sense gun control


Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

In his most extensive comments on gun control since the tragic Aurora theater shooting, President Obama called for tighter gun control measures in a speech at the Urban League in New Orleans…

“I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. And we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation -– that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.

“But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals –– that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities. I believe the majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons; that we should check someone’s criminal record before they can check out a gun seller; that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily. These steps shouldn’t be controversial. They should be common sense.”

Noting that lax gun control is only one part of the problem, Obama also touched on the historic new agreement between the New Orleans police department and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to reduce crime and corruption, as well as government programs in Boston, Chicago, and Detroit meant to steer young people away from gangs and street violence…

In his speech Wednesday night, Obama acknowledged that it has been difficult to get stricter gun control laws through Congress; the NRA and other gun rights lobbyists outspent gun control advocates 17 to 1 in Washington just last year. But a new poll found that gun-owning Americans, including NRA members, overwhelmingly support gun control regulations, with 87 percent of NRA members agreeing that “support for the Second Amendment goes hand-in-hand with keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals.”

Overdue.

Congress-critters – liberal, middle-of-the-road, conservatives, out-and-out rightwing nutballs – rarely have the courage to confront a reactionary lobby like the NRA. Even the progressive members of Congress who stand up for sensible regulation are tempted to hedge their positions back home.

The truly paranoid gun nuts aren’t going to support someone advancing sensible regulation, anyway. Or even no regulation. The wave of fear-filled little gun mice pouring millions of dollars into the coffers of gun manufacturers since Obama’s election is indicative of a number of cultural failings – from racism to xenophobia. The only important effect of all this has been emphasizing the cowardice of American politicians.

Obama is smart enough to understand that a moderate call for regulation at this point in time isn’t going to cost him a single vote. If his peers stood upright long enough to see the forest for the trees – they would come to the same conclusion.

For the record, I should note I’ve been a gun owner and hunter for decades. I come from a family that includes some of the best gunsmiths in America. Firearms play a long outdated role in American culture. All the more reason for sound regulation.

Tea Party nutballs reach new heights in paranoid populism


Woo-Hoo! He got his sign autographed by Rick Santorum
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Across the country, activists with ties to the Tea Party are railing against all sorts of local and state efforts to control sprawl and conserve energy. They brand government action for things like expanding public transportation routes and preserving open space as part of a United Nations-led conspiracy to deny property rights and herd citizens toward cities.

They are showing up at planning meetings to denounce bike lanes on public streets and smart meters on home appliances — efforts they equate to a big-government blueprint against individual rights.

“Down the road, this data will be used against you,” warned one speaker at a recent Roanoke County, Va., Board of Supervisors meeting who turned out with dozens of people opposed to the county’s paying $1,200 in dues to a nonprofit that consults on sustainability issues.

Local officials say they would dismiss such notions except that the growing and often heated protests are having an effect…

Well, they’re only having an effect on cowardly, opportunist local politicians. A significant portion of the breed.U

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Silvio Berlusconi sneaks out the side door – in disgrace


 
Silvio Berlusconi’s scandal-ridden premiership ended in ignominy as he was forced to hide from a jeering crowd in Rome after handing in his resignation at a late-night meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano. His departure followed a historic vote in parliament that paved the way for a new government tasked with shoring up the ailing economy.

Berlusconi was forced to leave the presidential residence through a side entrance, to chants of “buffoon, buffoon” from thousands of demonstrators outside….The protesters, including a choir singing the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah, rejoiced at his departure.

The 75-year-old billionaire brought down the curtain on a government that has become plagued by scandals and seemed increasingly helpless in the face of the economic storm that has taken his country and the euro to the brink of catastrophe. The dramatic end of his 17-year domination of Italian politics came as the lower house of parliament approved a package of savage cuts and stimulus measures demanded by the European Union to trim Italy’s massive €1.9 trillion debt.

After losing his majority in the house, a weakened Berlusconi had pledged to resign as soon as he had pushed the reform package through parliament. The reforms were passed by 380 votes to 26. Opposition parties did not participate…

Italy’s longest serving postwar prime minister raised a toast with ministers at a final cabinet meeting after the vote, only for his car to be chased by protesters shouting “Go, go, thief!” as he left for a second meeting with party officials at his Rome residence…

The questions facing Italy, today, are the natural result of leaving the Clown Prince of Populism in place all these years. Those who vote for nationalism, imperial lies, the histrionics of a Berlu or his counterparts throughout the Western world run the inevitable risk of getting exactly what they vote for.

An incompetent, a paper tiger who buried his nation in debt and disgrace.