Here Comes Bubba

Over the weekend, Media Matters released its first report garnered from listening to Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s multi-year habit of spending an hour a week on the shock-jock radio show “Bubba the Love Sponge.” It made clear how much Carlson enjoyed wallowing in chauvinism as well as his bizarre defensiveness about forced child marriage.

Maybe someone should look into that?

After a 24-hour news cycle, complete with op-ed reactions and a non-apology from Carlson, Media Matters came in for round two, the blatant racism edition.

Researcher Madeline Peltz, who deserves a medal for sitting through so much of the Florida-based “Bubba” radio show, chronicled in this second piece how Carlson called Iraqis “semiliterate primitive monkeys” and said that Afghanistan will never be “a civilized country because the people aren’t civilized.” Echoing the rhetoric commonly found on white nationalist and neo-Nazi sites, Carlson argued that white men deserve the credit for “creating civilization.”

Actually, the Mesopotamians “invented” civilization (writing, cities, and legal codes anyway). Where was that again? Oh right, modern day Iraq.

Carlson also griped that radio diversity initiatives were “worse than Jim Crow” and said Michelle Obama “got ghetto and started snapping her neck.”

There’s lots more, but you get the idea.

Carlson’s Fox News show has been bleeding advertisers thanks to previous on-air statements about how immigrants make the country “poorer and dirtier.” In response to the Media Matters exposé, activists have renewed their pressure campaign on advertisers, demanding that they stop supporting Carlson’s show.

While the crassness of the language in the “Bubba” clips might be shocking, the ideology on display isn’t any different than what Carlson has peddled on his Fox News show since he took over the prime evening slot from Bill O’Reilly. He just does it more subtly now that he has a national audience and has to pretend to be legitimate.

For at least the last couple of years, Carlson has been taking ideas from fringe right-wing forums and white nationalist groups, cleaning them up with euphemistic language, and presenting them as mainstream conservative commentary.

That’s why Republicans think that they need Carlson. The big story of Donald Trump’s regime has been Republicans deciding, or perhaps realizing, that racist and sexist grievances are their best bet for staying competitive in electoral politics. That and healthy doses of gerrymandering and voter suppression.

They can’t run on their actual policies of massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, paid for by slashing programs like Medicare and Social Security, if paid for at all. Most people are wise to that scam now. The decline of religious fundamentalism has also made it harder for Republicans to run on culture-war issues as well.

All Republicans politicians feel they have left is to inflame white people’s fears of increasing diversity and men’s resentment of the #MeToo movement and women’s growing independence.

Carlson has a knack for making hateful ideologies and irrational attitudes sound more acceptable than they are. He employs lofty-sounding terms like “Western civilization” when what he really means is white nationalism. In doing so, he aids Republicans in their quest to convince large enough numbers of white people to vote their resentments instead of their economic self-interest.

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch is a proponent of the “never back down” strategy Carlson is employing. This approach makes sense for the audience Fox News is trying to cultivate, which is mainly white people, especially older white men who view women and people of color as inferior and are sick of being made to feel bad about it. It also plays to the enduring desire to “own the libs.”

That’s what the whole narrative surrounding “political correctness” is all about: Teaching conservatives that bigotry is a form of courage, and that politics is about irrationally lashing out at people who have less than they do instead of realizing that it’s the oligarchs who are screwing all of us.

As long he can keep herding people to the polls to vote for Republicans, and against their own self-interests, Carlson will have a home at Fox News where he can make his stupid, scrunched-up Tucker Carlson face.

Related image

*visible confusion*

Here’s the Rub

It’s weird that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a billionaire many times over, would patronize a massage parlor called ‘Orchids of Asia’ for a “rub and tug” on his way to the AFC championship game. Men with Kraft’s wealth usually have trophy wives, can easily hire high end escorts (who aren’t victims of human trafficking), and often have mistresses.

So why go to a cheap strip mall?

Kraft wasn’t the only wealthy john who got caught in the sting that has put him in the headlines. Private equity mogul John Childs and former Citigroup president John Havens were also arrested. There seems to be more to this story of Chinese sex trafficking to come in the near future. With the recent re-evaluation of the extremely disturbing Jeffrey Epstein case from the previous decade, it seems that an illegal sex trade has been thriving in the ultra-rich enclaves of South Florida.

So much for a pizza place in D.C. It seems that, once again, nearly everything that the right accuse Democrats of is projection of some kind.

A woman named Cindy Yang founded the “day spa” where all these wealthy powerful men went to relieve their “stress.” Although Yang no longer owns the specific business where Kraft was videotaped receiving oral sex, it was known for offering the same “services” in her time. Her family still operates several similar enterprises that are also under suspicion for sex trafficking and prostitution.

And wouldn’t you know it, Yang is a big-time Republican who now owns a company that sells access to another wealthy and powerful man with a big presence in South Florida: the president of the United States.

The Miami Herald reported that Yang had attended a Super Bowl gathering at Mar-a-Lago, and produced a selfie of Yang and Donald Trump posing together at the party. The Herald also published pictures of other events showing Yang and both Don Jr. and Eric Trump, along with a trio of prominent Florida Republicans: Former governor and current Senator Rick Scott, current governor Ron DeSantis and Representative Matt Gaetz. There are also pictures with onetime vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin and Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel.

According to the Herald, Yang had shown no interest in politics prior to 2016 but “has now become a fixture at Republican political events up and down the East Coast.” These gatherings all charge big donations to attend, although much of the money collected at Mar-a-Lago goes straight into the Trump Crime Family coffers.

For obvious reasons, national security experts were alarmed by the report. This combination of sex trafficking, prostitution, and politicians presents a perfect opportunity for espionage and blackmail.

Presidents normally divest themselves of their businesses not just to avoid the “appearance” of conflict of interest, but to avoid the possibility of compromise. This president seems to have a peculiar fetish for putting himself in as many compromising positions as possible.

Don’t Eat Me Bro!

It is no secret that the right is obsessed with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and has dedicated an excessive amount of time and energy criticizing the freshman lawmaker in every way possible. But a Fox News contributor took that obsession to strange new heights Saturday, suggesting in an unhinged rant that the Green New Deal could lead to cannibalism.

Yes, really.

“AOC has completely lost her marbles. I think she’s living in bananaland,” National Review columnist Katherine Timpf said. “Earlier this week she called herself ‘the boss’ for coming up with the Green New Deal. How are you ‘the boss’ for coming up with a plan that doesn’t work? Like, are you sure that the Green New Deal’s not, like, what you’re putting in your pipe and smoking every day?”

Oooooh, sick burn!

Timpf (I can’t type that without laughing, I’m sorry) said she could come up with lots of plans that don’t work (probably the truest thing that she said): “How about we fly around on unicorns instead of airplanes? How about instead of gasoline we use fairy dust we get from Tinkerbell?”

She said all of this in jest (I think), but are her fantastical “plans” really any more preposterous than the Fox News/Republican “plan” of: “We don’t have to worry about Climate Change because Republican Jesus will take care of us?”

She then wonders whether AOC “wants us to do away with all modern technology” before going on to suggest that the deal would lead to turning back to the mid-1800s and “reliv[ing] the Donner Party.”

“I don’t want to eat people, Greg, and I don’t want people to eat me,” Timpf said. “AOC, do you want people to eat you?” She said that right after suggesting that the Green New Deal would also force her to “only eat lettuce and carrots like some kind of little fucking bunny.”

Again, they can’t even bother to keep their attacks consistent. Is it a wonder that none of them manage to resonate with anyone who doesn’t already hate AOC?

Timpf’s rant was guided by a piece she wrote earlier in the week in which she said the freshman lawmaker was “ridiculous” while characterizing the plan as pointless because it has no chance of working. “Would the world be a better place if the United States eliminated all carbon emissions? Of course it would—just like it would be better if we all got free Lamborghinis,” Timpf wrote. “The truth, however, is that being a notable leader requires a lot more than just fantasizing about pie-in-the-sky proposals that have no real future.”

Polls have shown that up to 80% of Americans have a favorable view of the Green New Deal. So it seems that pie is actually right there on the table, we just have to go get it.

AOC took to Twitter Saturday to defend herself from similar accusations that she’s a hypocrite for using the comforts of modern day life. “I also fly [planes] & use A/C. Living in the world as it is isn’t an argument against working towards a better future. The Green New Deal is about putting a LOT of people to work in developing new technologies, building new infrastructure, and getting us to 100% renewable energy.”

He Brought Receipts!

Before Michael Cohen’s testimony to Congress Wednesday, pundits were split over whether the hearing would be a bonanza for those looking for damaging information about President Donald Trump or a total bust. It turned out to be a blockbuster performance.

Despite his agreements with prosecutors to hold back on ongoing investigations, including some that he said directly involve the president, Cohen’s testimony implicated Trump in at least five felonies:

  1. Conspiracy to defraud the US (knowledge of Stone/Wikileaks email dump)

“In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone,” Cohen said. “Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

It’s not clear if Stone, WikiLeaks, or Assange will be charged with a conspiracy to defraud the United States, though some prosecutors say that the elements of the case point to that eventuality. However, Cohen’s testimony implies that, if this charge does materialize, Trump himself may be a party to the conspiracy.

  1. Lying to FBI/Special Counsel (false answers on Stone/Wikileaks and Don jr/Trump Tower)

Cohen’s testimony above says directly that Trump spoke Stone about WikiLeaks, even though CNN has reported that he told the opposite to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team in his written testimony. Cohen also said that, while he is not positive, it is overwhelmingly likely that Donald Trump Jr. told his father about the meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. CNN has also reported that Trump claimed the opposite to the special counsel. That’s a crime.

  1. Suborning perjury (approving Cohen’s false testimony to Congress)

Cohen said his false testimony to Congress wasn’t explicitlydirected by the president but that Trump had made it clear to him through his public lies that he did not want the truth to be known. Not exactly rock solid, but perhaps most damning was when Cohen said that his false statement was made in cooperation with the president’s lawyer Jay Sekulow. If Sekulow was acting on Trump’s orders to get Cohen to lie, that could implicate the Trump in the crime.

Long story short, that BuzzFeed article was essentially true.

  1. Campaign finance (hush money payment)

This was the crime for which Cohen is already on the record implicating the president. When he confessed to arranging two hush money payments as part of a criminal campaign finance scheme during the 2016 campaign, he said he carried out the plot at Trump’s direction. Now, he has provided Congress with a check, signed by Trump (also one signed by Trump Jr. implicating him and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg as well) that shows the president’s repayment for this scheme while serving in office.

One Republican tried to poke holes in Cohen’s story, noting that the check could have been for legal services or some legitimate payment; Cohen though, noted that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, has already confirmed that the president paid Cohen back for the hush money payment.

Given that Cohen has plead guilty and is going to jail (partially) for this crime, in which Trump is an unnamed co-conspirator, and the documentation provided, this seems (to my very limited expertise anyway) to be the most rock-solid of the charges levied against Lord Dampnut.

  1. Bank, wire and tax fraud

Cohen testified that Trump inflated his assets to win bank loans and deflated them to reduce his tax burden, precisely the kind of scheme for which Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is now facing lengthy prison time. Cohen added that he knew of other offenses that federal prosecutors are still investigating.

The Republican strategy in the hearing was pretty clear. They planned to discredit the testimony from Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer by painting Cohen as a liar, a criminal, and a cheat. Never mind the fact that Cohen was Donald Trump’s liar, criminal, and cheat for a decade.

No one denies that Michael Cohen is all those things, especially Cohen himself. In fact, it’s obvious that Cohen’s willingness to lie and cheat was the main reason that Trump employed him in the first place. For some reason though, Republicans kept harping on Cohen’s history of misbehavior as if it exonerated Trump.

It’s difficult to understand their strategy, assuming there was one. If their goal was to convince the American public that Trump is not a criminal, repeatedly reminding them that his right-hand man for a decade is now on his way to prison for the numerous crimes he committed on Trump’s behalf seems counter-productive. Perhaps they think Americans are too stupid to connect those adjacent dots.

The question at the end of the day is: Will any of this actually matter? Will Republican Red-Hats in Congress make the calculation that they don’t want to go down with the Trump ship? Or, if you want to get unrealistically optimistic, actually put their country over loyalty to their party?

I doubt it, but I’ve been wrong before.

AOC Dares to Exist Again

My favorite representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, just can’t catch a break when it comes to conservatives and their hit campaigns. The most recent one? Her credit score.

Seriously.

The claims, which Snopes had to take time out of their day to clarify, are completely false. They went viral after Trump supporter John LeFevre tweeted them out on Thursday:

“@aoc has a 430 credit score, two evictions, and an empty résumé

Just two months ago, she couldn’t afford an apartment in DC

Now, the Democratic leadership has put her on the Financial Services Committee & the media is saying that her Green New Deal will “reshape” the economy”

It’ s not clear where he got that (seemingly incorrect) information, but many speculate that it came from a January 16 Facebook post by a user named “ Donn Johnson.” Snopes explains in their debunking post that it’s likely impossible “Johnson” could have gotten this information about Ocasio-Cortez, even if it were true.

The half-assed hot takes are endless. If AOC is not being accused of secretly being rich, she’s being mocked for discussing the high relocation costs associated with moving to D.C. If people aren’t alleging that pictures of her feet are circulating the internet (they’re not), they’re debating whether or not it’s appropriate that the Congresswoman once danced in a university video. She’s somehow an elitist know-it-all and stupid, naïve little girl, too rich to actually care about working-class people, and a dead-beat all at the same time.

I’m not trying to give them advice or anything, but if they could actually be consistent for a couple of minutes, maybe they at least wouldn’t look quite so stupid when they attack her.

It’s almost like they can’t figure out why they dislike her so much, or don’t want to admit why…

This credit score nonsense does touch on an important issue however. For many people in the US, having a poor credit score and/or a history of evictions is a reality.

Credit scores can impact how much you pay in utilities, your chances of being approved for a lease, or how much you pay in car insurance. If you’re living (or have ever lived) in poverty, other aspects of your life quickly become more expensive, making it all the harder to dig out of that hole.

To quote another viral tweet: “Being poor charges interest.”

In a time when 40 percent of Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency expense, it feels especially cruel to mock people who may have a history that reflects a lack of financial freedom. A low credit score doesn’t make someone a bad person, nor does it speak to their ability to be a good or reliable employee, renter, or representative.

Shaming low-income people has to come to an end.