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Friday Talking Points — Every Sulfurous Belch

OK, I fully admit I stole that title. Well, maybe not “stole,” since I’m about to give it proper credit, but it certainly wasn’t my own original idea. The line comes from George Will, and (of course) refers to Donald Trump. Part of the fun for Democrats this summer has been watching the angst of serious-minded conservative columnists as they realize how large a portion of the Republican base doesn’t really care what serious-minded conservatives inside the Beltway think about much of anything. Will was the best (but by no means only) example of this last week, as he started his column off with a real humdinger of an opening paragraph:

Every sulfurous belch from the molten interior of the volcanic Trump phenomenon injures the chances of a Republican presidency. After Donald Trump finishes plastering a snarling face on conservatism, any Republican nominee will face a dauntingly steep climb to reach even the paltry numbers that doomed Mitt Romney.

Ah, c’mon George… tell us how you really feel about Trump! Heh.

The entire Trump phenomenon reminds me of a basic rule from the world of magical/fantasy fiction. It’s not quite Asimov’s “three laws of robotics,” but it’s still been used my many authors who write about wizards casting dangerous spells. The rule of thumb among wizards? “Do not call up that which you cannot put down.” Don’t summon demons or otherworldly forces if you’re not strong enough to defeat them, in other words.

You can probably see where I’m going with this, in relation to Donald Trump. The Republican Party has called up a force of nature that it is, quite obviously, completely incapable of controlling or defeating. Hey, couldn’t have happened to a nicer political party! All those decades of dog-whistle language, coded references, and wink-wink-nudge-nudge that the Republican Party has benefited from are now coming home to roost.

George Will isn’t the only one freaking out by this new reality. Bill Kristol, who is famously always wrong about pretty much everything, wrote a column this week proposing eight or nine new candidates for the Republican presidential race (the most absurd: Samuel Alito). Because, obviously, seventeen is not enough. Frank Luntz, famous Republican pollster and spin doctor, held a focus group of Trump supporters which left him (according to his own statement) weak in the knees, with his legs all a-tremble.

Of course, not everyone is horrified at Trump’s success. He just picked up the endorsement of David Duke, for whatever that’s worth. Trump also tossed out Jorge Ramos from a press conference, and called two of his supporters “passionate” after they beat a homeless man with metal pipes, in support of Trump’s position on immigrants. All the while, Trump’s numbers continue to improve in the polls, where he’s now edging towards 30 percent of all Republican primary voters. If he manages to top 35 percent, then he may become absolutely unstoppable (much to serious-minded conservatives’ collective dismay).

Some Republicans are now even contemplating rigging the primary so Trump’s name doesn’t appear on their state’s ballots. As usual, when Republicans can’t win at the polls, their fallback position is to cheat. State-level party bigwigs in Virginia and North Carolina are considering taking this route, and South Carolina already has the rule the others are contemplating — every Republican candidate must sign a “loyalty oath” to support the party’s eventual nominee and not run as an independent in the general election, or their name doesn’t appear on the primary election ballot. Obviously, these sorts of pledges are utterly unenforceable, so it’ll be interesting to see how Trump plays it. But the mere fact that the state-level party honchos are even considering this sort of thing is an accurate measure of the desperation which exists among establishment Republicans right now.

Trump continues to roil the Republican waters on the immigration issue. The other GOP candidates are being exposed as complete cowards when it comes to reacting to Trump’s grand “ship them all home” plan. Scott Walker probably stumbled the worst, as he floundered around for days trying to figure out his stance on the Fourteenth Amendment. He was for changing it, against changing it, and tried to brush the entire question off; none of which made him seem even one tiny iota presidential.

Jeb! Bush thought he might tap into some of the Trump anger by tossing around the term “anchor babies,” which was almost as spectacular a failure as Walker’s vacillation. Jeb! then tried to explain that anchor babies were really more of an Asian problem, thereby offending two minority demographics at once. Boy, it’s fun to watch the Republican “minority outreach” effort in action, isn’t it? As George Will so accurately predicted (most especially on Latino and Asian vote percentages), Republicans “face a dauntingly steep climb to reach even the paltry numbers that doomed Mitt Romney.” Jeb! also (you just cannot make this stuff up, folks!) marked the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by releasing a new ad this week showing Jeb! standing right next to Mike “Heckuva Job” Brown, the disgraced former head of FEMA who fiddled while New Orleans drowned. As the image is shown, Bush intones: “We have the best emergency response team on the ground, in the country, and in the world.” Heckuva job, Brownie!

Over on the Democratic side of the race, there was an explosion of interest in a new candidate that might be labeled “Bidenpalooza.” Joe’s obviously seriously considering a run, and the Wall Street Journal even reported he is currently leaning towards throwing his hat in the ring. Don’t expect an announcement any time soon, though, as Biden says he’ll make a decision by the end of next month.

Bernie Sanders got a front-page story in the New York Times this week. Of course, being the mainstream media and all, it was a total hit piece full of the snarkiest language possible. It absolutely ignored Bernie’s entire message and platform (of course), and absolutely refused to analyze why so many people are flocking to support him. Cornel West just endorsed Bernie’s candidacy this week, but very few political reporters noticed, since it doesn’t fit in with their “only white liberals support Sanders” go-to storyline.

That’s enough from the campaign trail for one week. In other fun news, the oldest message-in-a-bottle ever was returned to its sender recently, after a journey of more than a century. A British scientific group sent out a thousand postcards in bottles from 1904 through 1906, to study the currents in the North Sea. A couple just found one on a German island, and sent the postcard back to the group (which still exists). The Marine Biological Association made good on the century-old promise on the card, and sent a reward of one old shilling to the couple for returning the postcard. I don’t really have any reason for including this story, but it did make me smile, in an otherwise Trump-filled week. Maybe Sting or The Police can write a song about it, or something!

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

We’re changing the title of this award this week, because they’re not technically Democrats. So we’re handing out the Most Impressive Activist Group Of The Week to Neighborhood Legislature, for their amusing and entirely appropriate political theater in California. From the story:

A group of protesters in California took a stand against the influence of money in politics Wednesday by imagining what it would look like if lawmakers had to publicly advertise their campaign donors on their clothes à la professional stock car drivers.

The protesters placed cardboard cutouts of all 120 California state lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in front of the state capitol in Sacramento. Each legislator wore the logos of the corporations that back them in the style of NASCAR drivers’ brand-filled uniforms.

The photos alone are worth clicking that link to see.

We’ve long been an advocate of this idea, although we certainly can’t claim to have thought it up ourselves. As far back as FTP [189] (scroll down to Talking Point 7), we’ve been big fans of plastering donor logos on congresscritters and other politicians. If America is going to be run by bribery, the least we should be able to do is see who is forking over all that money to buy the politicians!

For taking this idea and running with it, and for an absolute brilliant piece of political theater, the Neighborhood Legislature is hereby awarded the Most Impressive Activist Group Of The Week. This is one of those ideas we truly wish would go viral, on a national level.

[Congratulate Neighborhood Legislature on their official webpage, to let them know you appreciate their excellent stunt.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

Before we get to the main award, we do have one (Dis-)Honorable Mention this week, for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, for waging a silly war on boobies. Laws banning topless women from appearing in public were changed a while back in New York, and some enterprising women are using their newfound right to bare their breasts in Times Square. Among the people dressed in Elmo suits or dressed as Captain America, there are now women wearing nothing but a thong and body paint. All of these folks are there for the same reason: to separate the tourists from their money. Charging ten bucks (or whatever the traffic will bear) to appear in a photo has long been a tradition in Times Square, so this is really nothing new.

Now, Times Square does have an even older history of being a sex district with triple-X theaters and whatnot, which was all cleaned up (so as not to scare the tourists) a while back. In other words, Bill de Blasio wanting to ban topless women from Times Square isn’t happening in a vacuum. He doesn’t want a return to the “bad old days,” but at the same time he seems to be overreacting to the perceived problem. If Hizzoner truly does want to end this practice, there’s really only one acceptable way to do so: change the law back. Ban boobies everywhere. This, however, might be a political problem for him.

In fact, the whole fracas really nothing short of knee-jerk “Won’t someone think of the children!!!” overreach. You know what? I bet children who see a painted lady’s chest won’t actually be as traumatized as all the pearl-clutchers think. Bill de Blasio should have stayed out of this fight, which is why he earns a (Dis-)Honorable Mention this week.

But, for the second week in a row, Hillary Clinton is the recipient of our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week. Clinton, like all presidential candidates these days, is struggling to be heard among the thousands of “Did you hear what Trump just said?” stories. So she apparently thought she’d use some shocking language of her own, and compared her political opponents to terrorists, because (by her logic) they both treat women badly.

Where to begin? First, there are hard lines in politics that should never be crossed. You don’t call someone a traitor, for instance, under any circumstances short of them being legally accused of actually selling the country out. Another of these rules is that you don’t call a political opponent a terrorist. Clinton crossed that line, almost flippantly.

Did Clinton have a point to make? Yes she did. Planned Parenthood and abortion are about to be the focus of an enormous political battle in Washington — one that might even result in another government shutdown. The battle has already been joined, and it is going to get fierce next month. Clinton was jumping in to this fray in an admirable fashion, rather than waiting on the sidelines and mouthing vague platitudes. She’s always been a champion for women’s rights, so it is entirely within her wheelhouse.

Even so, Clinton went too far. This is American politics, folks, and terrorist groups aren’t a part of it. The Taliban is not on any American ballot, to put it another way. While there are indeed many groups and countries around the world with horrendous records on women’s rights, it really has no bearing on domestic politics.

A final point: almost all American politicians are gigantic flaming hypocrites on the issue of women’s rights around the world, including not only Hillary Clinton but everyone else running for the presidency as well. If we really want to get up on our high horse about the way the Islamic State treats women, then it would require us (if we’re not going to be gigantic flaming hypocrites) to immediately suspend all ties with Saudi Arabia. The Saudis execute people by publicly beheading them, after all, and women in their country are not even allowed to do simple things like driving on their own. They’re about to have an election where — for the first time ever — women will be allowed to vote. If our gold standard for who America remains friends with is that women’s rights be respected, then our relationship with Saudi Arabia would be the first to go. If Hillary Clinton — or anyone else for that matter — speaks disparagingly about how terrorists treat women, then we would really like to hear someone ask her what her Saudi policy would be.

So for multiple reasons, Hillary linking her political opponents with terrorists was more than a little disappointing. Just because Trump is sucking all the oxygen out of the room right now does not mean Democrats should be stooping to his level (or even lower). Clinton can fight for women’s rights as fervently as possible without making such odious comparisons. She needs to back down on this one, but for now it has earned her another Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

[Hillary Clinton is a private citizen, and our longstanding policy is not to provide contact information for candidate websites, so you’ll have to search her contact info out yourself, sorry.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 359 (8/28/15)

It’s still the Silly Season in Washington, so we don’t have a whole lot of substantive political talking points this week. When Congress returns, we’re in for a number of high-profile fights, but until then we’re just making do with what we’ve got. Just to warn everyone in advance.

 

1
   Making America Grate

Every so often, we are so struck by a clever turn of phrase that we have to give it a standalone talking point. This is one of those times, as Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post ran an article this week under the best headline we’ve yet seen to describe the Trump phenomenon — a play on Trump’s own campaign slogan. It’s a cheap pun, but that doesn’t make it any less funny:

How Donald Trump Makes America Grate

 

2
   From denial to anger

This framing of the Trump situation is likely going to appear again and again, but Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post gets credit for being the first to point it out.

“The Republican Party seems to be destined to go through the classic ‘five stages of grief’ as they come to grips with Donald Trump’s success. Most establishment Republicans are still in the first stage, denial. Some have already moved on to anger — the second stage. I mean, did you read George Will’s ‘every sulfurous belch’ column this week? The third stage is going to be problematic, since it is bargaining — and Trump is a notoriously tough bargainer. This will inevitably lead to depression, and sooner or later to the final stage, acceptance. You might call it the grief of watching the Republican Party die, right in front of their eyes.”

 

3
   Strong growth

This is one to hit Jeb! with, in particular.

“Jeb Bush is running on a promise to achieve four percent growth in America’s economy. I wonder if he saw the most recent numbers, which showed the economy grew 3.7 percent in the second quarter of this year? Seems like President Obama’s doing almost as well as what Bush is promising, which reminds me of Mitt Romney’s promise to get unemployment down to six percent before 2016. Remember that one? Obama managed to achieve that in about half the time Romney promised. Seems like Republicans can’t even promise they’ll handle the American economy as well as Democrats routinely do in the real world.”

 

4
   $ 200 million and counting

Data to use in other state-level legalization fights.

“Colorado and Washington have so far taken in over two hundred million dollars in marijuana tax revenue. We don’t yet have data for Alaska and Oregon, but you can bet they’re raking in millions as well. By legalizing recreational marijuana use, these states have turned a big drag on their state budgets — policing, prisons, clogged courtrooms, and all the rest of it — into a huge asset. I’m sure there are other state governments out there who are paying attention. The success of legalization continues to benefit the states which have implemented it. $ 200 million ain’t exactly pocket change.”

 

5
   President Barack Obama Highway

This is going to be lots of fun for Democrats, for years to come.

“I see that Riviera Beach, Florida just voted to change the name of a road from ‘Old Dixie Highway’ to ‘President Barack Obama Highway.’ Personally, I can’t think of a better way to get rid of institutionalized racist memorials than to rename them after the first African-American president. In fact, I would bet that after Obama’s term in office ends, there will be a lot more things named after him all across America. Call it the revenge of Democrats after the orgy of naming so many things after Ronald Reagan a few years back.”

 

6
   Maybe Amazon will step in

This one is pretty funny.

“Among the many creative uses of drone aircraft we can now add their use to deliver banned things inside prison walls. An attempt was made in Maryland recently to fly in some drugs and pornography aboard a drone. While this attempt was foiled, it seems such an obvious use of new technology that we’ll likely see more and more of these attempts in the near future. How exactly are the cops going to keep the skies over prisons clear of drones? Skeet shooting?”

 

7
   Jade Helm invasion a total flop

This qualifies as rubbing salt in the wound, really.

“I notice that the predicted invasion of Texas by the United States military seems not to have materialized. It wasn’t so long ago that the Texas governor was issuing dire warnings of the nefarious intent of America’s own military in carrying out an exercise called ‘Jade Helm 15,’ which did nothing but stoke paranoid delusions within the state. Well, the summer’s drawing to a close and I still haven’t seen one headline about the Army taking over Texas, or confiscating everyone’s guns, or rounding up its citizens for concentration camps, or any of the rest of the nonsense the rightwingers were spouting not so long ago. If Jade Helm really was a planned invasion of Texas, I have to say it’s been a total flop so far.”

 

Chris Weigant blogs at:
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Friday Talking Points — Trump’s Immigration Roundup

Another week has gone by, and Donald Trump remains the Republican frontrunner in the presidential nomination race. We’ve noticed that all the inside-the-Beltway pundits who so confidently predicted Trump’s imminent and inevitable downfall are now slowly starting to revisit their predictions. This is making them extremely nervous, of course. Some are still finding solace in the “Trump’s going to say something any day now that will sink him like a stone” way of thinking, but their numbers are getting smaller as time goes by and Trump defies political gravity once again.

Last weekend, Trump released his very first policy paper. It was, naturally, on immigration (Trump’s signature issue). Reduced to tweet-length, this policy could be summed up as: “Build a big wall. Repeal birthright citizenship and 14th amendment. Round them all up and send them home.” Of course, it was immediately popular with all of Trump’s supporters.

The rest of the Republican presidential field, once again, was caught scrambling to respond. All of the other Republicans running for the highest office in the land routinely quake in their boots whenever Trump opens his mouth, because nobody’s yet come up with any great ideas as to how to respond. Take Trump on directly? That hasn’t worked out so well for the three notable candidates who have tried it (Rand Paul, Rick Perry, and Lindsey Graham), who are all polling below five percent. Agree with Trump no matter what comes out of his mouth (in the hopes of picking up all his supporters if he stumbles)? That’s working pretty well for Ted Cruz, which is why Scott Walker is now giving it a try. Ignore him completely? That’s what Jeb! Bush would really like to do, but again this hasn’t worked out so well for him (as he watched his own poll numbers sink into single digits).

So far, most of the candidates have at least tentatively supported parts of Trump’s immigration plan. More and more of them are just throwing up their hands and saying “OK, let’s build a giant wall, what the heck.” This week, at least half of the Republican field has expressed support for overturning birthright citizenship, which would require an amendment to the United States Constitution (since it’s expressly part of the Constitution, in the Fourteenth Amendment). This is now the default Republican position, in fact. I guess conservatives only revere certain parts of the Constitution, even though they all carry a copy around with them in their pocket, as a talisman.

Jeb! Bush once again proved he is just as clumsy at being a politician as his brother, in response to Trump. Jeb! was trying to distance himself from Trump’s position on birthright citizenship, but then he royally stepped in it by using the phrase “anchor babies.” When called on the offensiveness of the term, Bush doubled down and tried to defend it, while he tried to channel some sort of weak-tea version of Trump taking on political correctness. “Anchor babies,” Bush said, is a term Democrats use, to beat up on Republicans. He didn’t explain how Democrats can only do so after Republicans use the term, of course. But watching him flounder around answering all the questions must be painful for all those folks who have already tossed over $ 100 million into Bush’s campaign chest. This is really the guy who is going to vanquish Trump? Hey, good luck with that, Establishment Republicans!

Outside the presidential race, the rabid Republicans on the airwaves are pushing the issue even harder than Trump (hard as that is to even imagine). One radio host is essentially calling not just for repealing the Fourteenth Amendment, but also that pesky Thirteenth Amendment as well — you know, the one that outlaws slavery. Seriously. His position is to give all undocumented immigrants a 60-day warning, and then round them up and stick them in concentration camps. They would then “become property of the state,” after which the state would “start to extort or exploit or indenture” their labor. When a caller pointed out that it “sounds an awful lot like slavery,” the host responded: “Well, what’s wrong with slavery?”

Yes, this is the state of the Republican Party today, brought to you by none other than Donald Trump. Mitt Romney winning 27 percent of the Latino vote may turn out to be a high point for the party, which could put the White House out of Republicans’ reach for the foreseeable future, at least until they purge this sort of nativist nonsense from their ranks. Which doesn’t seem likely any time soon, of course. Things are probably going to get a lot worse before they get any better.

In other amusing news from the Republican campaign trail, Bobby Jindal has apparently been reduced to showing Planned Parenthood videos to crowds on his lawn (no, really), and Marco Rubio hit a kid in the face with a football (which was, of course, caught on camera for everyone’s amusement).

We’re going to skip over the Democratic campaign trail news for the moment, because we are going to address it all in the awards sections.

President Obama is spending his summer whipping (and counting) congressional votes for his Iran nuclear deal. When Congress returns from their excessive six-week summer vacation, they’ll be voting whether to disapprove the deal or not. If they put such a disapproval on Obama’s desk, he’ll need to defeat a veto override in at least one house of Congress for the deal to go through. Most Washington wonks think he’ll be able to clear this bar, but there is even one interesting possibility few have yet noticed: Obama may not even have to veto anything, because Republicans may not be able to pass it in the Senate. There are currently 54 Republicans in the Senate, plus two Democrats who have said they’ll vote their disapproval of the deal. But 60 votes will be needed, meaning Republicans still need four more Democrats. As of right now, there are 13 Democratic senators who have not indicated either their support for the deal or their disapproval. If 10 of them ultimately vote to support Obama, then the disapproval bill will die in the Senate, and no veto will even be necessary. It’s a fairly long shot at the moment, but the possibility does exist. As we get closer to the vote, we’ll be paying a lot more attention to the whip counts, pro and con.

And finally, in amusing marijuana news, Novak Djokovic — ranked number one in the world of tennis — had to complain to the umpire in not just one but two recent matches in Montreal. His problem? The clouds of pot smoke drifting over the court. From the story:

“Somebody’s getting high,” he says to a smiling umpire. “No, honestly… The whole stadium smells.”

Djokovic later makes a toking gesture as if he were holding a joint.

Who knew Canadian tennis fans were such stoners? C’mon, guys — bring a brownie to the match instead, eh?

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

We’ve got two Honorable Mention awards to hand out before we get to the main event. Both of these go to Democratic presidential candidates, for different reasons.

First up, we have Martin O’Malley, who deserves credit for his plan to expand Social Security, rather than cut it or raise the retirement age. His plan might be called a timid version of the “scrap the cap” idea, since he would impose Social Security payroll taxes on incomes above $ 250,000 for the first time — which would go a long way towards ending the regressive nature of this tax (which I detailed, with charts, a few years ago). O’Malley is to be applauded for being so specific in his plan, and for beginning to address the problem of the income cap on the payroll tax. However, his plan leaves a “doughnut hole” between roughly $ 120,000 of income and $ 250,000. So someone making $ 10 million a year would pay roughly the same tax rate as a nurse or a firefighter, but someone making $ 250,000 a year would pay less than half that rate. There’s no real mathematical reason for this regressive doughnut hole, but there is a political one — the portion of Americans making between $ 100,000 and $ 250,000 a year is one of the biggest groups who donate money to politicians. That’s really the only reason for leaving such a hole in what by all rights should be — at the very least — a flat tax rate on all income. Still, O’Malley’s plan goes further than other candidates have committed to, so he does deserve some applause.

I wrote about this earlier in the week, but Hillary Clinton deserves at least an Honorable Mention for how she answered the Black Lives Matter protesters (the video of their meeting was publicly released this week). Clinton pretty much agrees with the group in principle and goes out of her way to validate their positions, but she also challenges them to come up with some solid policy proposals that Democratic politicians can get behind. Clinton did an excellent job being both respectful and pragmatic, at least in our opinion.

Which brings us to the winner of the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. We’re not entirely sure this is within the boundaries of our own rules (since they don’t exactly claim party membership), but rules are made to be bent at times. But the Black Lives Matter folks have finally come up with a very solid and reasonable policy platform (call it an “agenda” or a “list of demands” or whatever else, if you’d like).

The policy agenda is called Campaign Zero and includes such things as requiring body cameras on all police, better police training, and much stronger community oversight of all police. The list is an excellent one, and the policies should be embraced by all Democratic candidates for president as well as all progressive voters.

The Black Lives Matter movement has been controversial on the campaign trail, notably for disrupting Democratic presidential candidates by taking over speeches. They’ve always had a brilliant tactic, in the world of political theater. After all, they’re protesting police violence against black people, so what are Democrats supposed to do — call in the cops to physically remove Black Lives Matter from their speeches? That would reinforce the point the activists are making, and it would make the candidate look bad. It’s a “Catch-22” sort of tactic, because neither siccing the cops on them nor allowing them to completely hijack a campaign event is a very good outcome.

But what they’ve been missing, even with such a brilliant tactic, is any sort of overall strategy. Sure, you can grab the microphone and address the crowd, but if all you do after being given the microphone is to insult your audience and the candidate, then you’re not going to gain much support. Many people (I am one of them, for the record) have called on Black Lives Matter to come up with an agenda so that their natural allies — Democratic politicians and the Democratic base — can support the movement in a concrete way, instead of just being annoyed by their tactics.

This is precisely the point Hillary Clinton was making in the video, and we are glad to see Black Lives Matter respond in such a constructive and forward-looking fashion. This is part of what killed Occupy Wall Street — not being able to agree on much of any plan for change — and we firmly believe that the Black Lives Movement will find that their movement will in no way be limited by having a clear agenda, but in fact that it will grow as more and more people agree with and openly support the items listed by Campaign Zero.

So, whether they identify as Democrats or not, the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement who put together Campaign Zero are more than worthy of this week’s Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.

[Contact the Campaign Zero website to show your support.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

Hillary Clinton had a rough week. Perhaps we’re guilty of piling on, but we’re going to add a Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week to her problems.

Much like Donald Trump, the Hillary Clinton email server scandal is not going away any time soon. We’ve still got months of drip, drip, drip, as each new group of emails is released to the media and each development with the server itself plays out. The F.B.I. now has Hillary’s server as well as the backup her lawyer had been holding onto for her. As many have pointed out, “F.B.I. investigation” is not something any political candidate wants to see in the headlines, while running for office.

Clinton, so far, hasn’t done a very good job of addressing the issue, either. She held a very brief presser, got into a spat with a Fox News reporter, tried a silly joke to brush the whole thing off, and then left after about five minutes. The Washington Post has a rundown of five mistakes Clinton made during this appearance, but they missed one big one. You might call it “orange is the new orange.”

Now, we realize (before we even explain that) that politicians shouldn’t really be criticized on how they look in the first place, and in the second place, female politicians especially shouldn’t be subject to snark about what they’re wearing. Hillary Clinton has faced this time and time again. Still, whose idea was it to have Hillary Clinton appear in front of the press to answer questions about an F.B.I. investigation wearing the same shade of orange as prison jumpsuits? That is just breathtaking sartorial stupidity.

Hillary Clinton needs to take a few days off from campaigning. She needs to go on a retreat with her husband, in fact. During this time, Bill should coach Hillary relentlessly on how to successfully brush a political issue aside. There’s a reason why Barack Obama joked at the 2012 Democratic National Convention that he should appoint Bill Clinton “Secretary of Explainin’ Stuff.” He is a master at it, in fact — the best America has seen since Ronald Reagan. And Hillary — obviously — needs a little coaching from Bill on how to handle these things.

Start by laying out your viewpoint of the situation, in as simple terms as you can manage. Explain the motivations of those making claims of scandal. Then end with a rhetorical flourish in an attempt to lay the issue to rest. Hillary tried to do so, with her “wipe it down with a cloth” joke, but it fell awfully flat. She needs a lot of practice with Bill, and her campaign should devote a few days to it. Lock them both in a cabin in the woods, and let Bill school Hillary on how to deal with scandal and crisis. At this point, it couldn’t hurt.

There are many Democrats — even some Bernie Sanders supporters — who feel deep down that Clinton will likely be the Democratic nominee and has a clear path to the White House next year. They just wish she was campaigning for it better, that’s all. Team Clinton has got to learn to shift gears smoother and how to respond quicker. Clinton proved she’s got a long way to go this week, which is why she’s getting the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

[Hillary Clinton is a private citizen, and we have a longstanding policy of not linking to campaign websites, so you’ll have to search her contact page on your own to let her know what you think, sorry.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 358 (8/21/15)

The talking points this week were influenced, once again, by Donald Trumps magical mystery campaign, which sooner or later we’re just going to stop apologizing for. Hey, he is the Republican frontrunner!

We’ve got a few others mixed in, and two hilarious ones at the end, because we thought everybody could use a laugh after the past week of presidential politics.

 

1
   I support Campaign Zero

This one’s easy, for both Democratic candidates and voters.

“I strongly support the positive and constructive agenda Black Lives Matter has laid out, which they’re calling Campaign Zero. Their list has many excellent policy ideas which should be enacted at both the state and federal level. All police should have body cameras, because seeing is believing when it comes to what actually happens in confrontations. Police should be required to get much better training for conflict resolution, so the most violent response at their disposal isn’t always their first choice. There are many such ideas contained in the Campaign Zero platform, and I call on all Democrats to not only endorse this agenda but also to immediately begin working as hard as possible on enacting these changes across the United States.”

 

2
   Anchor babies!

To her credit, Hillary Clinton led in pushing back against Bush’s slip of the tongue.

“I’m sorry, but Jeb Bush was supposed to be some sort of moderate guy on both immigration and Latino issues. He’s married to a Mexican-American, after all, and speaks fluent Spanish. Previously, he has called for Republicans to avoid being intentionally offensive and to speak of immigrants in non-inflammatory terms. He used to be a voice of reason in a crowd of extremists. I guess now that his poll numbers are sinking like a rock, he’s decided that offending Latinos is the way to go. If Jeb’s not sure whether the term ‘anchor babies’ is offensive or not, I would suggest he ask a few members of his own family what they think about it.”

 

3
   Selective constitutional worship

This, from politicians who swear up and down their fealty to the Constitution?

“In the entire history of the United States, we have only ever amended the Constitution to restrict rights a single time — and Prohibition eventually had to be repealed by another amendment. Now Donald Trump and most of the rest of the Republicans running for president have come out in favor of overturning the Fourteenth Amendment because they don’t like one phrase in it. This amendment was passed because racists were insisting that people born in the United States — ex-slaves — were not citizens and therefore could never vote. Republicans today want to make it impossible for undocumented immigrants ever to be eligible for citizenship for the exact same reason — they never want these people to ever have a vote. And now they’re attacking the Constitution itself to ensure that only those children born on American soil whom they deem acceptable can be citizens. To do so, we’d have to pass only the second amendment to the Constitution to ever deny rights rather than expand them. This is just a bad idea all around.”

 

4
   Round them up? Really?

Pro-big government rears its ugly head in Republicanland, once again.

“So I see that Donald Trump is in favor of the biggest expansion of federal power ever, because his ’round them up and ship them home’ plan to deal with undocumented immigrants would change American society forever. We’d have to create an enormous federal police force who would then go around knocking on every door in American and demand to see ‘your papers, please.’ Those without proof of citizenship would be forcibly rounded up and shipped out. Experts estimate this effort — should any Congress be stupid enough to enact it — would take hundreds of billions of dollars and have to last at least two decades. So Trump is in favor of spending an enormous amount of money to pay for jack-booted federal agents to round everyone up and ship them off, by knocking on every door in the country. Sounds like an explosion of ‘big government’ and creating an enormous federal army to be used for domestic purposes to me. Funny, I always thought Republicans were against those things, on ideological grounds.”

 

5
   Rapists’ baby support

At times, we are accused of creating talking points that are nothing short of hyperbole. Last week, we ran one that might have fit into that category (scroll down to talking point number five). We’re going to repeat this talking point this week, with the addition of Mike Huckabee’s name, since he has now openly admitted exactly the attitude the talking point was referring to.

“An 11-year-old girl just gave birth in Paraguay. She was 10 when she was raped by her stepfather, but the government denied her mother’s request she be allowed an abortion. These are the real-world consequences of the position taken by many Republican presidential candidates, including Mike Huckabee. They want to outlaw abortion even in the case of rape and incest. That leads directly to 11-year-olds having to bear their stepfather’s child after being raped. Mike Huckabee openly admitted that he wants to see that sort of thing here. He actually said: ‘Let nobody be misled, a 10-year-old girl being raped is horrible, but does it solve a problem by taking the life of an innocent child?’ Yes, 11-year-old mothers forced to deal with their rapist’s baby for the rest of their lives is exactly what we can expect if Huckabee ever got his way on outlawing all abortion. No rape victim should ever be forced to bear her rapist’s baby. No 10-year-old should have to carry a baby to term against her will. Yet that is exactly what happens when abortion is outlawed.”

 

6
   Deez Nuts for president!

We normally wrap these up with one amusing final talking point. This week, we’re going to do two instead, just because.

“Have you seen the recent polling? A fake candidate named ‘Deez Nuts’ is polling at a surprisingly high level among voters. For some unfathomable reason a few state-level polls included ‘Deez Nuts’ in a few of the questions they asked poll respondents about, and he’s now getting nine percent in North Carolina, eight percent in Minnesota, and seven percent in Iowa! As the candidate explains: ‘I am a 15-year-old who filled out a form, had the campaign catch on fire, and am now putting up the best third-party numbers since Ross Perot.’ Right now his poll numbers are better than most of the Republican field, in fact. In a year when Donald Trump is the frontrunner, somehow it seems entirely appropriate that ‘Deez Nuts’ should be approaching second place in the race, don’t you think?”

 

7
   Limberbutt McCubbins for president!

And finally, one from the Democratic side.

“Deez Nuts isn’t the only amusing candidate out there. A self-proclaimed ‘Demo-cat’ feline candidate has also thrown his furry hat into the ring. That’s right, Limberbutt McCubbins is running for president, on a platform that includes legalizing both catnip and gay cat marriages. His campaign website and Facebook page boast some catchy campaign slogans, including ‘Meow is the time’ and ‘Together we cat.’ His owner states the main reason Limberbutt entered the race: ‘Me and my friends have begun to realize how easy it is to run for office, and have learned about the way the F.E.C. and campaign finance work. Not that we don’t want anyone to run, but I personally don’t think that if I’m applying to run for the most important position in the U.S.A., that I should be able to do it in 20 minutes. Or less.’ I don’t know about that, but I do know that if it came down to Limberbutt McCubbins in the general election, I’d certainly vote for Limberbutt over a lot of the hairballs running on the other side.”

 

Chris Weigant blogs at:
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Friday Talking Points — The Rehabilitation of Golf in the GOP

We’re going to begin today with a wrapup of the week that was in the presidential campaigns, and as befitting his status as the Republican frontrunner, we’re going to start with Donald Trump (if you’re sick of hearing about Trump, just skip down eight or ten paragraphs and continue reading).

Trump is helicoptering in to the Iowa State Fair today, so perhaps he’ll have said something even more outrageous by the time you read this. Hey, it’s a pretty safe bet, at this point. Trump once again proved this week that he can say just about anything — even stuff the Republican base violently disagrees with him on — and walk away unscathed. This time around, Trump actually said (at least at first) some fairly nice things about Planned Parenthood. Right now, in Republicanland, this is heresy of the first order (more on this in a moment). But, so far, it doesn’t seem to have hurt Trump.

In the “Trump fighting with other Republican candidate” news, we have an amusing quote from Lindsey Graham: “Donald Trump is an out-of-control car driving through a crowd of Republicans, and somebody needs to get him out of the car. I just don’t see a pathway forward for us in 2016 to win the White House if we don’t decisively deal with this.” Hoo boy. That’s bad enough, but a bigger fracas happened between Trump and Rand Paul. It started with an ad the Paul team created, which hammered Trump for essentially being a Democrat up until he decided to run.

Trump has learned a thing or two about running for the Republican nomination, and he responded by anointing himself Ronald Reagan. He went on to insult Rand Paul’s golf game, and predicted Trump would “even more easily beat him now, in the world in the politics [sic].” Trump ends with an amusing gibe:

I feel sorry for the great people of Kentucky who are being used as a back up to Senator Paul’s hopeless attempt to become President of the United States — weak on the military, Israel, the Vets and many other issues. Senator Paul has no chance of wining [sic] the nomination and the people of Kentucky should not allow him the privilege of remaining their Senator. Rand should save his lobbyist’s and special interest money and just go quietly home.

Rand’s campaign is a total mess, and as a matter of fact, I didn’t know he had anybody left in his campaign to make commercials who are not currently under indictment!

Paul’s team ignored the burn on “currently under indictment” (Trump was, for once, being snarkily factual here) and shot back by trying to out-Reagan Trump. Then they whined that the golf game in question was “on [Trump’s] home course that he plays often.” Paul’s spokesman also tries to burn Trump back, falling back on the “you couldn’t think your way out of a paper bag” argument:

Donald Trump couldn’t set the intellectual conservative agenda of anything, not even the tiniest rooms, never mind a country. He is devoid of ideas other than he likes the idea of power and getting attention for foolish statements and bluster.

Can’t wait to see round two of this dustup, personally!

Jeb! made some news this week, both by signaling that torture may be coming back to America if he becomes president (a position other Republicans are also staking out), and also by insisting that “taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.” A pretty good deal? Really? Wow. Bush is still having a lot of trouble distancing himself from his own brother, apparently. The one issue Jeb! should have been prepared to address — Dubya’s legacy — is still causing Jeb! problems. Maybe he’ll have figured it out by the time he gets questioned about it in a debate.

There was some bad news for Chris Christie this week, as a poll showed a majority of New Jersey’s voters are annoyed that Christie is spending all his time running for president and not governing the state. Christie has spent 26 of the past 43 days on the campaign trail (and not in New Jersey), leading one media outlet to create “The Christie Tracker” so his voters can see where their governor is spending his time. Fifty-four percent of the people in New Jersey now want Christie to resign.

Rick Perry also had to admit this week that his campaign is so low on funds that he can’t meet the payroll. And we all know nothing lifts donor confidence like running out of money and halting paychecks for staffers!

Ben Carson, who has come out strongly against Planned Parenthood, apparently did some medical research using aborted fetuses a while back. It’ll be interesting to see if any of the other Republicans bring this up during a debate, now that Carson’s numbers are improving (especially in Iowa). But the biggest prize for hypocrisy among the Republicans this week was Ted Cruz, who created an ad to show how outraged he was at the whole fetal research thing. An announcer intones: “For a century, Americans have helped heal and care for millions in need,” while black-and-white historical images appear of people with polio. The polio vaccine — which won the researchers the 1954 Nobel Prize in medicine — was developed using fetal tissues. So, according to Cruz, we should all happily go back to the days when polio was a scourge? Is that what he’s saying? I’m confused.

And, just to send a chill down Republicans’ backs who aren’t already mentally frostbitten at the thought of an independent Trump run, Jesse Ventura just hinted that he might mount his own independent bid for the presidency — unless Trump’s the GOP candidate and names Jesse Ventura as his running mate. And you thought the race couldn’t get any more entertaining! “Trump/Ventura” — there’s something to whisper to conservatives to make them shriek.

Things are a bit unsettled over on the Democratic side of things as well. Hillary Clinton’s emails are going to provide a steady drip, drip, drip for months to come. We already knew this, but each time it hits the headlines must be taking a toll on her campaign. To be fair, Clinton has been criticized for months for “not releasing specifics” on her agenda, but even when she did so (she rolled out a plan to make higher education more affordable this week), the media couldn’t be bothered with it and just went ahead and ran all the email stories instead. Again, with the staggered release of the emails, the investigation, and the upcoming congressional hearing for Hillary, prepare yourself for a lot more drip, drip, drip.

Some in the media are having a lot fun with “what other Democrat could run” stories. Joe Biden is thinking things over while on vacation. Not content with the slow-moving nature of that story, this week Al Gore’s name was even briefly floated as a possible savior of the nomination, should Hillary crumble.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is pulling in larger and larger crowds. They’re spilling out the doors, in fact. Sanders did a run down the West Coast and pulled in over 15,000 in Seattle, then followed it up by pulling in over 25,000 people in both Portland, Oregon, and Los Angeles. The Washington Post pointed out that Bernie’s crowds are massively bigger than anyone else running for president, to the tune of over 100,000 total in recent weeks.

And yet still it seems like Bernie only gets talked about in the media when the Black Lives Matter folks interrupt him. Black Lives Matter, it should be said, has started branching out of late. This is to their credit, because the first three candidates they interrupted were Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, and then Bernie Sanders again. This week, however, Black Lives Matter people were turned away at a Hillary town hall (and later got to meet with her), and did manage to disrupt a Jeb! Bush public event. Bush tried to say he had met with the Black Lives Matter protestors, but later this turned out not to be true. This even-handedness by Black Lives Matter towards the candidates is to be applauded, because many were asking why they haven’t set their sights on anyone but Sanders.

There was quite a bit of marijuana news last week, including the tantalizing possibility that William Shakespeare might have enjoyed a toke or two while writing (the evidence is admittedly thin, but even so, “Shakespeare the stoner” is a fun concept to contemplate). In more serious news, the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy released a paper which comprehensively analyzes 13 common beliefs about marijuana (such as the “gateway drug” label), and whether any science actually backs them up or not. The full report [PDF] is available, as well as a summary of the findings.

Ohio may make the leap from having no legal medical or recreational marijuana to having both, as a legalization ballot measure has now qualified for this year’s election. This effort has split marijuana reform advocates, because it was financed by the owners of ten farms, which would become the only legal places to grow marijuana in the state if it passes. A market of over 11 million people will be supplied by ten farms. There’s a word for that, and it’s called “oligopoly.” I discussed the political pros and cons of the Ohio effort yesterday in greater detail, for those interested.

And finally, we have the story of a woman in Texas who was essentially sexually assaulted by police officers at the side of the road, because one of them “smelled marijuana.” This is one of the most brutal examples of the damage the War On Weed is doing to society, and should be mandatory reading for anyone still on the fence.

A cop in Texas pulled Charnesia Corley (a young African-American woman) over “for allegedly running a Stop sign.” He then thought he smelled marijuana. He handcuffed her, stuck her in his cruiser, and searched her car for an hour. He found nothing. So he called in a female officer to conduct a body cavity search by the side of the road. When this officer pulled down Corley’s pants (while she was still handcuffed), Corley protested. Here’s what happened next:

Then, according to [Corley’s lawyer, Sam] Cammack, Corley stood up and protested, so the deputy threw her to the ground and restrained her while another female was called in to assist. When backup arrived, each deputy held one of Corley’s legs apart to conduct the probe.

So, a woman was forcibly held down and vaginally probed — by the side of the road — by police officers, because one cop thought he smelled marijuana. A spokesman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Department stated “the deputies did everything as they should.” In Texas, possession of less than four ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor, it bears pointing out.

The astounding thing is that Texas actually just passed a law to make such searches prohibited without a warrant. They had to pass this law because Corley is, sadly, not the only person this has happened to. Unfortunately for Corley, the law doesn’t take effect until next month.

So for anyone who wonders why we’ve been such strong advocates for ending the War On Weed, this is Exhibit A. This is what it does to cops. If they hadn’t been cops, they would be in jail right now awaiting trial on charges of forcible rape. Because they are cops, such charges will never be brought against them.

That is why the War On Weed needs to end. Because people’s constitutional rights and basic human rights are being abused on a daily basis, until the War On Weed is over.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

Two Honorable Mention awards are in order this week, the first going to Secretary of State John Kerry who just this morning watched the American flag rise over our embassy in Havana, Cuba. When historians look back on Obama’s legacy, opening up Cuba is going to figure prominently. Kerry became the first American secretary of state to visit Cuba since F.D.R.’s time.

Democrats in Virginia are also to be commended, for attempting to break the gerrymandering logjam in the state. Perhaps if they worked together with the politicians across the Potomac River? The Huffington Post has the story on how Maryland and Virginia could balance out each other’s efforts politically.

But this week’s Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week is, once again, Bernie Sanders. Bernie got crowds of over 25,000 people in back-to-back cities. This is fourteen months from the election, folks. That is simply astounding.

The size and enthusiasm of Bernie’s audiences is absolutely unparalleled. No other candidate (to our knowledge) has managed an audience that has even topped the 10,000 mark yet. That’s in either party, too. Many candidates struggle to top one thousand people, in fact. Yet Bernie’s getting over 25,000.

Bernie also hit a milestone this week as he topped Hillary Clinton by seven points in a poll from New Hampshire. Of course, Bernie’s from right next door in Vermont, but he’s doing pretty well in Iowa too. Iowa has a caucus system, which favors candidates with a lot of energy and enthusiasm behind them. Hillary Clinton learned this in 2008, as Obama cleaned up in the caucus states. If Bernie Sanders somehow took both Iowa and New Hampshire, it would be a serious body blow to Hillary’s campaign.

I keep waiting for the mainstream media to stop either ignoring Sanders or dismissing him as “the Donald Trump of the left,” and start reporting on what is making people so excited. Bernie has an agenda. His agenda is resonating with a whole lot of people — people who don’t care whether the inside-the-Beltway crowd labels it “socialism” or “hard left” or “radical” or even “not serious.” Sooner or later the pundits are going to wake up to what is drawing people in to hear Bernie speak.

In the meantime, we’re awarding Bernie Sanders his 11th Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. Maybe Sanders won’t go all the way. Maybe he’ll follow the path of Vermont’s Howard Dean. But until he does, he’s certainly the one driving the discussion on the Democratic side. And for that, he deserves some overdue credit.

[Congratulate Senator Bernie Sanders on his Senate contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

We’re not even sure she’s a Democrat (although it’s a pretty safe assumption to make), but we’re giving this week’s Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy.

The E.P.A. royally screwed the pooch this week. There’s simply no other way to put it. The E.P.A. wanted to declare an abandoned mine in Colorado a Superfund site. The locals objected, saying it would be bad for tourism. So the E.P.A. backed down and instead sent their own people in to begin cleaning the mine up. They blew it, and released a flood of water contaminated with arsenic, lead, and cadmium into the Animas River.

The post-spill handling by the E.P.A. has generated a lot of complaints, but although this was a tragic accident with devastating environmental consequences, it was caused by the E.P.A. itself. Gina McCarthy did finally apologize for the response and for the spill, but this is of little comfort to those in the area who are going to be drinking bottled water for a long time to come — including a major Native American reservation.

So while her apology is appreciated, it does not save E.P.A. chief Gina McCarthy from being awarded the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

[Contact Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy via her E.P.A. contact page, to let her know what you think of her actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 357 (8/14/15)

A varied bunch this week. Two of these get quite dark, since they deal with the subject of sexual assault. Actually, we’ve got more than a few items this week that are fairly heavy, even the snarky one at the end. Oh, well, it’s been that kind of week.

Use responsibly, as always.

 

1
   More good Obamacare news

Democrats really should be trumpeting the good news on Obamacare, mainly because there’s so much of it to trumpet.

“More Obamacare data was recently released, and all the news was good, once again. According to the National Health Interview Survey, the rate of uninsured Americans is now below 10 percent for the first time ever. More and more people are taking advantage of being able to sign up for Obamacare when they go through major life changes as well. And, no surprise, Obamacare is doing a whole lot better at reducing the number of uninsured in the states where it was fully implemented. Millions of people are being denied coverage solely because Republican governors and state legislatures hate the word ‘Obamacare.’ I hope the voters in those states take note, the next time they vote. One party wants them to have health insurance. One party does not, for purely political reasons.”

 

2
   Listen to the generals

This one really needs pointing out, forcefully. Turn a Republican attack line around!

“Whenever Republicans want to complain about Democrats not being sufficiently warlike, they always use one refrain: ‘listen to the generals.’ Well, now that three dozen retired generals and admirals have written a letter in favor of Obama’s Iran deal, we would like to ask Republicans who are opposed why they are not now ‘listening to the generals.’ These highly respected military men make a strong argument that the Iran nuclear deal is a good deal for America, for the military, and for the world. They’re worth listening to.”

 

3
   Bush’s SOFA

Don’t let Jeb! get away with this historical revisionism.

“I thought it was hilarious to hear Jeb Bush blame his brother’s failures on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton the other day. Jeb says that Obama blew it on Iraq because he brought all the troops home. If only some troops had stayed, according to Jeb, the Islamic State never would have happened. Except for, you know, the fact that the Status Of Forces Agreement that was signed with Iraq’s prime minister — the agreement which specified not only that all American troops would withdraw but also the schedule they would follow — was actually signed by Jeb’s brother. There’s a reason why no troops stayed in Iraq, and that reason is that even George W. Bush couldn’t convince the Iraqi leader he had installed to keep any troops there. Period. Jeb is criticizing Obama for following Dubya’s lead on the issue.”

 

4
   This woman was reportedly sexually assaulted

Back to the cops in Texas…

“Charnesia Corley is an African-American woman in Texas who [felt like she] was raped by the side of the road. By the police. Because one cop thought, when he pulled her over, that he smelled marijuana, she was forcibly given a full body cavity search by two deputies by the side of the road. No warrant, no privacy, just a disgusting abuse of power. Possessing less than four ounces of marijuana is only a misdemeanor in Texas, and yet the cops feel justified in such reprehensible violations of human rights to fight the scourge of the evil weed. There is no getting around the facts of this story, which should be told to anyone who argues for the continuation of the War On Weed. A young African-American woman was [reportedly] raped by the side of the road by cops in Texas. And my guess is they’ll never be charged with any crime for doing so. According to the Sheriff’s Department, ‘the deputies did everything as they should.’ That’s just wrong, and that is why the marijuana laws need changing everywhere.”

 

5
   Republicans want headlines like this one

This is disgraceful, but this is the world Republicans want to see here. So point it out!

“An 11-year-old girl just gave birth in Paraguay. She was 10 when she was raped by her stepfather, but the government denied her mother’s request she be allowed an abortion. These are the real-world consequences of the position taken by many Republican presidential candidates. They want to outlaw abortion even in the case of rape and incest. That leads directly to 11-year-olds having to bear their stepfather’s child after being raped. Republicans want to see that sort of thing here, because those are the headlines we can expect if they ever got their way on outlawing all abortion. No rape victim should ever be forced to bear her rapist’s baby. No 10-year-old should carry a baby to term. Yet that is exactly what happens when abortion is outlawed.”

 

6
   One for the road

Last week, we optimistically promised we’d only have one Trump talking point per week. Well, one week later we find this too constricting already, so we’ve got two this week.

“Lindsey Graham said this week that ‘Donald Trump is an out-of-control car driving through a crowd of Republicans, and somebody needs to get him out of the car.’ Problem is, Republicans are too late to do so. Expanding Graham’s metaphor, the Republican Party spent long hours at the bar drinking heavily, while agreeing with every yahoo in the bar about everything, and then when one of them wanted to drive home the Republicans bought him one stiff drink for the road, before handing him his car keys and staggering out to the parking lot with him, to make sure he could find his car. And now they want to complain about the resulting carnage? That’s pretty funny, because the wave Trump is riding has been fully enabled by the Republican Party for years now.”

 

7
   Golf OK to talk about

I guess golf’s out of the doghouse. Or something.

“Remember when Republicans were going apoplectic because Barack Obama played some golf? C’mon, it wasn’t that long ago, surely you remember all the snide comments! I see now that golf has regained respectability within the Republican Party… at least when two white guys are playing. Donald Trump bragged he ‘easily beat’ and (just to rub it in) that he ‘trounced’ Rand Paul on the golf course. Paul’s spokesman whined back that it was Trump’s home course so he had an advantage. Not a word was spoken about the propriety of actually playing golf, so I guess there must have been another reason for the earlier complaints about Obama, eh?”

 

Chris Weigant blogs at:
ChrisWeigant.com

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant
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Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
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Friday Talking Points — GOP Debates, Round One

Well, that was entertaining, wasn’t it? We refer, of course, to the grand spectacle of the first Republican presidential debates, held last night on Fox News. Since this is all anyone’s talking about in the political world today, we are going to follow suit and devote most of this column (with the exception of the awards) to our reactions to seeing all the Republican candidates under one roof for the first time.

Of course, all 17 of them weren’t actually on the same stage at the same time. The big event was limited to the top 10 in recent polls, which meant the others had to make do with a “kids’ table debate” — given to a cavernously empty auditorium, much earlier in the day. The consensus from the punditocracy is that Carly Fiorina won the earlier debate, but for the life of me I can’t see why. She did her usual shtick, alternating smoothly from viciously snarky all the way to snarkily vicious. It’s what she does, and what she’s always done. Maybe some of the national pundits hadn’t seen her before, that’s the only explanation that springs to mind (full disclosure: I live in California, where we were subjected to “demon sheep” ads from Carly years ago).

What few commentators will openly admit is that pretty much all of these 17 candidates are pretty much all agreed on pretty much everything. With the possible exception of Rand Paul and John Kasich, there is so little difference between them that having a “debate” means nothing more than either agreeing with each other or trying to outdo each other in how much you agree. Seriously, here’s a quick recap of both debates, summarizing what pretty much all of the candidates stood for:

  • War — lots of wars, in lots of places. We’re going to really stick it to ISIS, and wipe them out in three months. Then we might just jump into the war Ukraine’s having with Russia. And Iran better watch out, because we’ll be coming for them, too, real soon. China may have to wait a few months, but shouldn’t rest easy or anything.
  • Abortion will be made as illegal as possible. Rape victim? No abortion for you. Incest victim? Too bad. Mother might die? Still no abortion possible. Dead pregnant women is just the price you pay for being “pro-life.”
  • All taxes will be flat. Business taxes will shrink to non-existence. In fact, let’s base our income tax system on the Bible, how’s that?
  • We need a great big ol’ wall on the southern border. Then, after it’s built, we need to kick out all those 11 million “illegals.” And we’ll then dial back the number of legal immigrants allowed in, just for good measure.
  • Obamacare, of course, must be killed.
  • God is a Republican. Planned Parenthood is the Devil.

Have we missed anything? Pretty much every candidate agreed with pretty much all of that, all night long. With the exception of Kasich (who stunned the others by saying nice things about both poor people and gays getting married) and Paul (who isn’t for all-war, all-the-time), it’d be hard to find a single statement disagreeing with much of any of that by any of the candidates.

Some candidates stood out, for various reasons, both in the debate and in all the pre-debate hype. Bobby Jindal sees absolutely no irony in complaining about Obama’s supposed use of the I.R.S. against conservative groups, and then pivoting to promising to do just that against liberal groups. Rick Perry seems enamored of someone called “Ronald Raven.” Maybe he’s a linebacker for Baltimore, or something? Ted Cruz has a video out showing how to (no, really!) cook bacon on the barrel of a machine gun. Marco Rubio is apparently selling a shirt on his campaign website called the “Marco Polo” (OK, that’s pretty funny, we have to admit). But the funniest joke of the night came in Ben Carson’s closing statement — about how he’s the only one to remove half a brain.

The biggest knock-down fight of the night came as somewhat of a surprise, because The Donald was not even involved. Rand Paul came ready to rumble, and he got into it with Chris Christie over surveillance and the Fourth Amendment. Paul even unloaded the “you gave Obama a big hug” line on Christie. Now, Chris Christie is normally combative, but we certainly saw a feisty Rand Paul last night. Will it do him any good? That remains to be seen.

Of course, everyone was watching center stage last night, to see if Donald Trump would explode. He didn’t, at least not much more than he normally does when he opens his mouth. He actually pretty much stuck to his promise not to punch (merely to counterpunch), and most of the others just seemed afraid to throw anything Trump’s way. The only one who really took him on was Rand Paul, but not to much noticeable effect. His biggest sparring partner was actually Megyn Kelly, one of the Fox News moderators, on his past dismissive and insulting statements about women. Trump brushed it off (after making a Rosie O’Donnell joke), saying he didn’t have time for political correctness. The crowd (mostly) loved it, and Trump later tweeted that Kelly was a “bimbo,” just for good measure. Trump did get a bit testy when asked about his four bankruptcies, but he’s always been a bit tender on that subject.

The most surprising thing Trump did last night was to speak up for the single-payer medical systems in Canada and Scotland. Trump, being rich, has actually travelled outside the country and seen with his own eyes the reality of single-payer. Most Republican voters haven’t. If the other Republican candidates start running anti-Trump ads, I would bet the clip of Trump praising single-payer will feature prominently.

We’re all going to have to wait a few days (middle of next week, roughly) to see how any of this will affect the poll numbers, of course. Debates don’t normally have a huge impact, although this one just might (mostly because so many people watched it). Will Trump continue his dominance of the Republican field? Will a second-tier candidate move up in the ratings as a result of a stellar performance? Will one of the big names begin to fade? Nobody yet knows the answers to these questions, so we’ll all just have to wait and see.

That’s enough on the debate for now — we’ll get to more debate reactions in the talking points, once we get the awards (and the other news of the week) out of the way.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

There were a lot of impressive Democrats this week to choose from, which means we’ve got a lot of Honorable Mention awards to hand out before we get to the big award.

Barack Obama’s administration just released their carbon rules, and they are a giant step in the right direction. His plan earned him immediate praise from Hillary Clinton, we should add.

In other good news from the administration, the new head of the Drug Enforcement Agency publicly admitted that “heroin is clearly more dangerous than marijuana,” which doesn’t sound very impressive until you realize this is the first time anyone at the D.E.A. has made such a commonsense statement. Dan Riffle, of the Marijuana Policy Project, had the best reaction: “In other news, the sky is blue.”

Martin O’Malley is calling for an amendment to the Constitution to guarantee voting rights, which we think is a great idea. In fact, we’d like to see all the Democratic candidates jump on board this particular bandwagon.

Bernie Sanders leads all the Republican candidates in head-to-head polls. He leads Donald Trump by a whopping margin — 59 to 38 percent. This means that even Democrats’ second-place candidate is beating the entire Republican field — that’s a pretty positive thing to see.

Elizabeth Warren gave a great speech last week, ripping into the do-nothing nature of the Republican Congress. Each Congress is two years long. We’re one-fourth of the way through this one. What have they done in that time? Given Obama fast-track trade authority — that’s really about it. Warren points this out in great detail. Warren also is to be credited for another Obama administration rule coming out of the S.E.C., that will force companies to publish the difference between their C.E.O.’s pay and an average employee’s salary.

But this week’s Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week goes instead to Representative Sam Farr, who (together with Republican Dana Rohrabacher) is fighting hard for a law he passed last year, which makes it illegal for the Justice Department to spend any money on prosecuting medical marijuana operations in states which have allowed them. They zeroed the budget for such activities by any federal agency.

When they originally passed this law (as Tom Angell revealed this week), the Justice Department actively lobbied against it. By lying. They used scare tactics, saying if the law passed it would mean they couldn’t enforce recreational marijuana use either. This was (and still is) just flat-out wrong, but that didn’t stop them from trying it.

But back to the present. Farr and Rohrabacher just wrote a rather pointed letter to the Justice Department, which seeks an investigation into the Justice Department itself, for breaking their new law. Medical marijuana providers are still being prosecuted, in states where they are legal. The Justice Department is not supposed to be spending one thin dime on this, and yet they are. In other words, the Justice Department is prosecuting people for breaking federal law, and by doing so, the Justice Department itself is breaking federal law.

Which is why we say: “More power to Farr and Rohrabacher!” They should investigate this fully, and bring charges against any federal attorneys involved in such prosecutions. This law was passed for a reason — medical marijuana providers needed relief from the prosecution (and persecution) of some federal attorneys. This has not fully happened yet. Either the Justice Department must stop breaking the law, or some heads should start rolling. No two ways about it. Which is why Sam Farr is our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week.

[Congratulate Representative Sam Farr on his House contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

We’re not entirely sure who deserves this week’s Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week, so we’re just going to go to the top of the food chain and award it to President Barack Obama. Maybe John Kerry deserves it more, or maybe some lower staffer. But it’s hard to imagine this happened without some degree of acceptance from higher-ups.

The United States keeps a list of countries that are notorious for human trafficking (the “Tracking In Persons” report). This is supposed to shame other countries into getting their act together on modern-day slavery. Just last month, however, some countries were suddenly upgraded on the list. Malaysia, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia all got moved up, while China didn’t move down. There is no evidence or reason for any of these decisions. China should have moved down, on the evidence. Malaysia, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia should not have moved, because they haven’t done anything to crack down on the problem.

The only reason for the move? Politics. In particular, the politics of our relations with the three upgraded nations. We just opened an embassy in Cuba for the first time since the dawn of the Cold War. So Cuba’s upgrade was basically a present to them, to show how happy we are with them right now. Saudi Arabia is disgruntled about our nuclear deal with Iran, so the upgrade was a kind of a bribe to get them on board. Malaysia is the worst of the bunch, because it wasn’t even a diplomatic favor, really, but an economic one. If Malaysia is on the worst-of-the-worst list, it means we can’t make trade deals with them. Since they’re supposed to be a part of the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, they had to be moved up in order to qualify.

The people at the State Department whose job it is to monitor human trafficking objected to all of these moves. They were overruled. That is beyond disappointing, it is a disgrace. The Obama administration is looking the other way on human slavery, both for politics and to make a buck. That’s a shameful legacy for America’s first black president to leave behind.

Which is why we’re awarding the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week to President Obama. No matter whose fingerprints were on these decisions, the ultimate blame lies at the top. If Obama had told John Kerry “I don’t want to use this list politically” then this never would have happened. He didn’t. It did. Which is why Obama earns this week’s MDDOTW award.

[Contact President Barack Obama via the White House contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 356 (8/7/15)

OK, let’s get back to debate reactions. Most of these are fairly generic, because (as we’ve already mentioned) most Republican candidates agree on most things. Therefore we’ve painted with a very broad brush this week. Oh, sure, it’s fun to beat up on Donald Trump and all of that, but what the debate really showed was that while the other Republican candidates might cringe at how Trump phrases positions, they actually share the same basic positions as he does. They’re just more polite at voicing them, that’s all.

Democrats right now would do well to keep an eye on the general election. The beauty of the Republican debates — as always — is that it forces all the candidates so far out to the extremes that they can’t recover after winning the primary. So by all means we should help this process along as much as possible.

Right now, Republicans are terrified of being out-flanked on the right. So exploit that by pointing out how extreme this game has already become.

 

1
   How many wars?

An obvious question.

“I’m sorry, but I lost count during the Republican debates — how many wars will we start if a Republican wins the presidency? Six? Seven? With all the jingoism in the air, it was easy to lose track of how many countries were threatened with war in the course of the debate. You could almost hear the salivating when Mike Huckabee promised the American military would be unleashed to, quote, kill people and break things, unquote. In fact, I think we’re going to need a bigger army, if we’re going to fight all these wars at the same time. A much bigger army. And, of course, it goes without saying that any Republican candidate who loses the race for the nomination will be among the first folks in line down at the recruiting office, because they all want to see all these wars fought — and somebody’s going to have to fight them.”

 

2
   The fatherhood rights of rapists

Democrats need to point out how extreme the Republican position on abortion has now become, in the harshest possible language.

“Republicans apparently all stand for protecting the fatherhood rights of rapists. If they get their way, abortions will not be available for rape victims. This means that rapists will be able to choose the mother of their baby by who they decide to rape. Because, to the Republican Party, the rights of the rapist are more important than the rights of the victim of a horrific crime.”

 

3
   Your soul will be clean when you die

This also needs harshly pointing out.

“The Republican candidates also tried to outdo each other on outlawing abortion even when the mother’s life is in danger. That’s unbelievably extreme, but nobody seems to have noticed. If a medical problem happens and the only way to save a woman’s life is to abort her baby, then according to the Republicans, she should just die. I guess that’s what they mean when they say they’re ‘pro-life’ — that a woman’s unnecessary death is the price of being morally pure, as they define it. That is inhumane. But that is now the default Republican position.”

 

4
   A beautiful wall

This one, obviously, was spurred on by Trump.

“Once again, Republicans are in a tizzy trying to trump Donald Trump. We won’t just build a great big wall, we’ll build a wall so deep they can’t tunnel under it. It’ll be the biggest, most beautiful wall you’ve ever seen. It’ll be a hundred feet high… no, five hundred feet high… no, a freakin’ mile high! Yeah, that’s the ticket! Maybe we can add a moat, too. And put alligators in it. Wait — how about alligators armed with laser beams?!? Man alive, this is going to be the most awesome wall in human history!”

 

5
   Trust us, we’ll think of something

This is just becoming laughable.

“For over five years now, Republicans have been trying to kill Obamacare. All the Republican candidates for president agree that repealing Obamacare would be one of the first things on their to-do list as president. They’ve had all this time, and they still haven’t got a single clue what to replace it with, though. They’ve held the House of Representatives for years now, and they have yet to even move a single replacement bill out of committee, much less held a vote on it on the House floor. There is absolutely nothing stopping them from doing so. And yet they haven’t. Their answer, for five whole years, has been the same — it was the same answer the Republican candidates gave on stage last night. Trust us, they say, and right after we repeal every word of Obamacare, we’ll be sure to think of something to replace it with.”

 

6
   Even Fox too tough?

The real loser of last night’s debate is a guy who, when you take the vowels out of his name, becomes: “RNC PR BS.”

“I have to say that I’m not entirely sure who won last night’s debate, but I do know who lost: Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican National Committee. They had a plan to avoid the fiasco that was the Republican debate cycle last time around. Their plan was to limit the number of debates, limit the number of people on stage, and only allow friendly right-wingers to be the moderators, so the candidates wouldn’t be asked embarrassing questions. This was supposed to keep the crazy people out and showcase the serious Republican candidates. But the plan failed, as last night already proved. The crazy people were let in, the craziness was in fact at center stage, and now conservatives are even complaining that Fox News reporters were insufficiently deferential to the candidates. How in the world do they think any of these candidates are going to survive debating Hillary Clinton — to say nothing of going toe-to-toe with Russia or Iran — if even Fox News was too tough for a Republican debate?”

 

7
   If I only had half a brain….

And we’re going to close the way the debate did — with a funny moment.

“Ben Carson got the biggest laugh of the night, when he pointed out he was the only one to take out half a brain, adding ‘although if you took me to Washington you would think someone beat me to it.’ But from where I sat, I really don’t think he had to travel all that far. Washington is a long way to go, when there are many standing right next to you on that stage who would have been great to use as examples of people with only half a brain.”

 

Chris Weigant blogs at:
ChrisWeigant.com

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant
Become a fan of Chris on Huffington Post
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
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Chanel West Coast Screams Police Brutality, Black Twitter Points Out The Obvious [Photos]

Chanel West Coast was reportedly a raging drunk last night in West Hollywood, when she was arrested for fighting, kicking and punching a cop following a separate brawl with a club-hopping female. Now that the booze has subsided in her system, the stalwart Young Money artist is suddenly an activist against police brutality.

“I was assaulted by police last night for no reason and have bruises all over my arms,” Chanel West Coast cried on Twitter, posting photos of the bruises she allegedly suffered during her tussles. “Police have gotten out of fucking hand in this country!!! This shit ain’t a race issue its a cop issue!!!! Time to put an end to this!!!”

Naturally we did some digging to revisit Chanel West Coast’s prolific thoughts on the McKinney, Texas incident, but unfortunately came up empty. The Los Angeles native is mostly known for her role on MTV’s Ridiculousness as well as public outbursts (see this year’s Coachella).

“I was violently held by 2 huge men cops last night for nothing and have bruises all over my arms…Can someone explain why a tiny 5’3 98lb women needs 2 men officers to hold her down and bruise her arms????? Last night I witnessed police brutality first hand and I’m completely outraged. There are real criminals out there and I’m getting arrested?,” she continued.

Black Twitter didn’t let Chanel West Coast’s bellyaching slide and they let her have it. Check out the bruises and the backlash in the gallery.

chanel-west-coast-bruises-1


Photo: Twitter / Chanel West Coast

The post Chanel West Coast Screams Police Brutality, Black Twitter Points Out The Obvious [Photos] appeared first on Hip-Hop Wired.

Hip-Hop Wired

Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh Breaks Silence, Points Fingers in Emotional Post-Bankruptcy Interview (Exclusive)


“I never thought an interview would make me cry,” insists the embattled helicopter-flying, high-living mogul who claims he’s the victim of an elaborate financial scheme (hint: not his own) and vows he won’t be wiped out personally by his company’s downfall (despite potentially losing $ 70 million).

read more


Hollywood Reporter

Trump Calls A Nun The C Word, Throws Cue Ball At A Baby: Goes Up 5 Points In Polls

Trump Calls A Nun The C Word, Throws Cue Ball At A Baby: Goes Up 5 Points In Polls

Trump Calls A Nun The C Word, Throws …
After insulting all Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and then claiming POWs aren’t heros because “they got captured” and seeing his poll numbers go up, Donald Trump put his sometimes abrasive campaign into fifth gear Monday morning.
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Party At The Sacred Mountain For 5 Points Gathering 2015

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For centuries, the mountain has been an important symbol to the spirituality of mankind. Often referred to as the Holy or Sacred Mountain, in many cultures its peaks were worshiped as Earth’s closest steeple to heaven and other celestial dimensions. In Greece, the mighty Mount Olympus was central to Greek mythology being home to the Gods and Goddesses and where Zeus defeated the Titans. According to the Torah and the Old Testament in the Bible, Mount Sinai in Egypt was where Moses received the Ten Commandments and Tibet’s Mount Kailash is believed by Buddhists to possess a mystical power that can absolve a lifetime of sins for any human.

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A portal into a sacred world, high above the miasma of city life, stands the tetrahedral Mount Baldy. With an elevation of 10,064 feet, it is the summit of the San Gabriel Mountains and the highest point in Los Angeles County. Sitting atop this majestic mountain is 5 Points Gathering, an intimate 3-stage transformational music festival that is family friendly and boasts yoga, healthy living, bass music, vendors, installations and live art.

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Taking place on the weekend of July 3rd-5th, 2015, amenities and attractions include tent bungalow camping upgrades, showers, Around the Tree live art installation, Yucca Roots Village, and Circuit Trees by Erica Halpern. One of the most unique aspects of this event is the Sugar Pine Chairlift which is the only way to access the gathering areas, assuring that attendees are truly peaking by being taken to the highest point of the mountain. Riding the chairlift up through the verdant forest to arrive at 5 Points Gathering is a sacred experience, like climbing a mountain to arrive at a holy temple of enlightenment.

Though one of the smaller, more intimate festivals, 5 Points still offers a lineup of stellar performers. The Friday house and bass lineup includes Christian Martin, Ruff Hauser, Cameron St. Denis, Worthy, Oscure, and many more. The Saturday future bass lineup includes Sugarpill, Goldrush, Jobot, Henry Pope, Kompozart, AfroQBen, Orphic, Lou E. Bagels, J-Mart, and Bass Tribe of San Diego, just to name a few. In addition to the announced lineup, rumors of surprise guests are yet to be announced.

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The 360 degree view of the breathtaking San Gabriel Mountains is a reminder that this is, as are all transformational music festivals, a leave-no-trace event. We are blessed with the gift of celebrating on this sacred landscape so it is our mission to bless the land back with our love, gratitude and respect.

In addition to offering the land our blessings, we must also offer each other these blessings as it is the kinship between people that makes this event special. Being so small, 5 Points Gathering is about creating a community where we are all connected and respected. So let us gather upon the sacred Mount Baldy where we will touch the cosmos and let the supernatural powers of music, art and human beings move and shake us.

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Website: http://5pointsgathering.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/5-Points-Gathering/788866244530696
Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/666049566854914/
Tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/5-points-gathering-2014-tickets-8255108251

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Black College Student Earns Coon Points By Defending Confederate Flag

Black University of South Carolina student Byron Thomas has become somewhat known for his passionate defense of the Confederate Flag and its use as the flag within the state. Thomas doesn’t think the flag represents the state’s well-documented racist past and doesn’t want to see it removed despite recent developments.

Thomas, who has been making YouTube videos for years about the Confederate Flag and his supporting views, was a guest on CNN and spoke with host Hal Gorani. Gorani challenged Thomas stances, making certain to mention not only the flag’s ties to slavery but the fact alleged Mother Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof displayed the flag on his website.

Thomas, who hangs the flag in his home, explained that his support comes by way of an ancestor who fought in the Confederate Army and that the Confederacy actually awarded its Black soldiers pensions after the war in its losing effort.

While that certainly seems noble, someone needs to let young Thomas know that long after the Union Army defeated the Southern forces, many there didn’t want to do away with the practice of slavery. Then the divisive Jim Crow segregation laws came forth and upended any hope of true racial harmony.

Somewhere, we believe Thomas has a point buried under his well-stated but somehow majorly-flawed reasoning. From this standpoint, it looks like Thomas is blind to history and facts.

Check out the video from CNN below.

[h/t Mediaite]

Photo: CNN

The post Black College Student Earns Coon Points By Defending Confederate Flag appeared first on Hip-Hop Wired.

Hip-Hop Wired

Black College Student Earns Coon Points By Defending Confederate Flag

Black University of South Carolina student Byron Thomas has become somewhat known for his passionate defense of the Confederate Flag and its use as the flag within the state. Thomas doesn’t think the flag represents the state’s well-documented racist past and doesn’t want to see it removed despite recent developments.

Thomas, who has been making YouTube videos for years about the Confederate Flag and his supporting views, was a guest on CNN and spoke with host Hal Gorani. Gorani challenged Thomas stances, making certain to mention not only the flag’s ties to slavery but the fact alleged Mother Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof displayed the flag on his website.

Thomas, who hangs the flag in his home, explained that his support comes by way of an ancestor who fought in the Confederate Army and that the Confederacy actually awarded its Black soldiers pensions after the war in its losing effort.

While that certainly seems noble, someone needs to let young Thomas know that long after the Union Army defeated the Southern forces, many there didn’t want to do away with the practice of slavery. Then the divisive Jim Crow segregation laws came forth and upended any hope of true racial harmony.

Somewhere, we believe Thomas has a point buried under his well-stated but somehow majorly-flawed reasoning. From this standpoint, it looks like Thomas is blind to history and facts.

Check out the video from CNN below.

[h/t Mediaite]

Photo: CNN

The post Black College Student Earns Coon Points By Defending Confederate Flag appeared first on Hip-Hop Wired.

Hip-Hop Wired

My Transgender Life: Cover Girls and Tipping Points

What a difference a year makes!

As a transgender woman dedicated to teaching acceptance and living our own truth, I want to ask every person I meet to pinch me, to make sure I am awake and not just dreaming all of what has happened. Pinch me, please… thanks, I am awake, yes, but I am still a bit numb taking this all in.

It was only last June, that Laverne Cox was the cover girl of TIME Magazine, which proclaimed The Transgender Tipping Point, and discussed this as America’s next civil rights frontier. For many people both within and outside the transgender community, it seemed like a tree truly did tip over and when it hit the ground so many of us could feel the Earth move.

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Over the past year, we have seen many models not only come out as transgender, but also transition in the public eye. The New York Times in its Transgender Today series, is now publishing the stories of as many transgender people who choose to contribute. There hardly seems to be a day going by where there is not another story or blog about one or another aspect of being gender variant (just not fitting into a strict binary, male or female construct). I know I am contributing to this right here.

Yet, with all this exposure, all this visibility, that in my mind is all good and making such a huge difference in understanding and acceptance, I know I was thinking there could not be another major magazine cover girl that could get the attention of the public in a way that occurred with Laverne Cox last June.

But now I wonder if this is true. Perhaps as Yoda told Obi Wan, (when Luke left to help Hans and Leia before his Jedi training was completed) “There is another!”

We now hear reports that the July issue of Vanity Fair will be of Ms. (“HER”) Jenner. This will be the first time we will meet her and perhaps by this time we will learn her proper name. It is reported that Annie Leibovitz will or has done this photo shoot, so at the very least, it is certain to be striking. However, we do know that Vanity Fair is no stranger to controversy so I am wondering what the captions for this cover might proclaim as the editors decide what they are going to communicate.

Tipping points are funny things. I learned this the hard way. Both as a boy scout, with just a small and then larger axe learning to chop down some small trees, to in later years as a homeowner, with that great and scary toy of a gas powered chain saw. I never quite learned to get the trees to fall exactly where I wanted. No matter how clever I thought I was; no matter how much I calculated the angles, it seemed I really lacked the skill to know exactly where they would drop. The impact on the surroundings was often hard to deal with. I learned to use a wedge, but I came to know that getting trees to tip where I wanted was a learned skill and took a great deal of practice. So often the learning examples were not pain free.

It took me a long time to accept that when I try something new, even after I read about it and learn everything I can, the only true learning is by “doing” and accepting the mistakes and errors that the experiences will teach. Reading Malcolm Gladwell’s books, The Tipping Point and Outliers has helped me to understand the phenomena of needing 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. It is OK to make mistakes as long as we can learn from them. This truly came in handy for me during the early days of my own gender transition, and for anyone who will listen I will always advise take baby steps and always make sure you are on solid ground.

There is the famous thought experiment: If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

We know that just one year ago, the sound of the Time Magazine cover was heard very loudly around the world. The last circulation numbers I found (from 2013) showed Time at over 3 million copies. At that time, Vanity Fair’s circulation was reported about a third of that at just over 1 million copies in circulation. It should be interesting to listen to the sound — I am sure there will be one — when Ms. Jenner becomes a cover girl.

I don’t know if all the angles have been calculated and the wedges put in the proper place, to make certain that the tipping of tree lands exactly where they want it. I sure hope so, as there are so many beautiful surroundings that we really need to keep whole. Tipping points are tricky things and I sure hope we keep these trees tipping in the right direction.

###

Grace Stevens is a transgender woman who transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is a father of three, grandparent of two, athlete, advocate and author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, an intimate memoir of her personal struggle to transition and live her true life authentically as a woman. For more information about Grace, her speaking about authentic living with Living on-TRACK, and how Gender Variance Education and Training can help you, visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .

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Dan Savage Points Out Hypocrisy Of Duggar Family Values

LGBT advocate Dan Savage noted the hypocrisy inherent in the Duggar family’s anti-trans agenda in light of Josh Duggar’s apparent admission that he molested five underage girls when he was a teenager.

“Particularly when religious conservatives want to talk about it, they want to point a finger at non-family. They want to point a finger at people that they define as the enemies of families or not from or having families of their own — LGBT people, particularly trans people increasingly with these anti-trans bathroom bills,” Savage said on Friday night’s episode of “All In with Chris Hayes.”

“That is what the Duggars have dug in on,” Savage continued, “is attacking trans people and opposing this LGBT civil rights bill in Fayetteville, where they were out there arguing that the threat to little girls in Fayetteville were transwomen when they knew, when they were covering for someone who had demonstrated, at least at that age, was a threat to little girls himself.”

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Josh Duggar, executive director of FRC Action, speaks at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock on Aug. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

In August 2014, the family’s matriarch, Michelle Duggar, campaigned against an anti-discrimination bill in her home state of Arkansas.

In a robocall, Duggar is recorded saying:

Hello, this is Michelle Duggar. I’m calling to inform you of some shocking news that would affect the safety of northwest Arkansas women and children. The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance this Tuesday night that would allow men — yes, I said men — to use women’s and girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only. I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls. I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space. We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child. Parents, who do you want undressing next to your daughter at the public swimming pool’s private changing area?

After the sexual abuse allegations surfaced this week, Josh Duggar resigned from his position as executive director of the conservative and anti-LGBT group Family Research Council Action, the Washington Post reported.

TLC pulled the Duggars’ “19 Kids and Counting” show in the wake of the controversy.

The network did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post.

H/T Advocate

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N. Korea Points Finger At Obama For Internet Outage

North Korea called President Barack Obama ‘a monkey’ and blamed the U.S. on Saturday for shutting down its Internet amid the hacking row over the comedy ‘The Interview.’


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