Nel's New Day

October 22, 2016

The Effects of Brexit

Volcanoes go quiet before the eruptions: the greater the calm, the more powerful the explosion. That’s the conclusion of volcanologist Diana Roman who reported that the length of the quiet time can be correlated to the volcanoes’ risks. Although not always, bad storms are also identified by preceding periods of calm. Tropical cyclones have an “eye,” a time of calm weather in the circular area before the other side hits.

This weekend feels like one of those periods of eerie calm as the nation comes off two tumultuous days last week—the presidential debate and the humorless “roast” at the Al Smith’s charity dinner when Donald Trump’s only “self-deprecating” statement was directed at his wife’s copying Michele Obama’s speech earlier this year. Hillary Clinton was funnier—she wasn’t frequently booed as Trump was—but several of her jokes had serious barbs.

Since those events, a subdued Trump lacks energy in his rallies. For the first time, he said that he might lose the election, and GOP politicians appear to be in a political malaise with no way out. The tension of an upcoming storm gives a feeling of danger, but even a short calm leaves us a chance to contemplate the issues that have been overlooked by the bombastic control of the GOP presidential candidate showman.

Brexit, for example, is making its presence known. For those who have forgotten, the Trumpian hatred toward minorities, government, and regulation across the pond led a frenzy of voting in the United Kingdom to separate the country from the European Union. The voters then elected conservative Theresa May as its prime minister. Her announcement to invoke Article 50 within a few months forces the UK to finalize its separation two years from then.

The divorce settlement between the UK and the EU is a bit fuzzy with no scheduled deadline. No one knows what UK’s constitution requires although May promised a bill to put EU laws into UK domestic law. A serious problem is negotiating new trade agreements until the divorce may be finalized in 2019.

Meanwhile, May is behaving like a woman forced to leave her husband with the intent to divorce but trying to keep all the rights of her marriage. This week she ordered the EU to not hold any more summits without the UK. May said, “I want the U.K. to play an active part…. I expect to be fully involved in all discussions related to the EU 28.”

EU leaders weren’t impressed. The remaining 27 had two informal meetings since last June when UK citizens voted in favoring of dumping the EU and plan another information meeting—without the UK—in January. May was allowed to give a speech about Brexit at the summit but given only five minutes at 1:00 am. EU leaders are also considering changing the official negotiation language from English to French, another bone of contention for May.

Gibraltar, where 96 percent of its residents voted to stay with EU, is just one problem that May faces. Their flourishing economy is dependent on easy commutes across its border, and Madrid would be delighted for Spain to regain sovereignty after three centuries. If Spain plays hardball with Gibraltar, residents would be dependent on boats or planes to leave the country, and intensified border checks would complicate their life as it did three years ago until the EU settled the problems. After Brexit, Spain can veto any trade deals with the UK—which also means Gibraltar.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that it is “democratically unacceptable” to force Scotland out of the EU because its citizens voted to remain. A second independence referendum for Scotland is now “highly likely,” according to Sturgeon. The impact in Northern Ireland would be “very profound,” according to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, and the island of Ireland should be able to vote on reunification. Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers ruled out the call from Sinn Féin for a border poll. UK’s prime minister, Theresa May, will meet this coming week with leaders of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland this week to essentially tell them  that she’s in charge and they will work for the entire UK—not just their part of it.

Another problem comes from reports banks are leaving the UK, the smaller ones by the end of the year followed by the biggest ones early next year. The flight comes from the threat that Britain will “pay the price” of leaving, as French president François Hollande and other EU leaders have promised in a “hard Brexit.” EU leaders could reintroduce tariff and non-tariff restrictions on British imports and exports, and banking is Britain’s largest export industry, according to Anthony Browne, head of the British Bankers’ Association. Up to 70,000 financial jobs could be lost if the banks flee the sinking island.

Despite these dangers, the UK Conservative party is more concerned about immigration than the country’s economy and has no plan regarding the UK and the EU. Businesses are at a loss because the government has provided no direction. The pound’s value has dropped to an almost 30-year low, meaning that it buys fewer euros or dollars, and experts predict the pound value to remain at least ten percent below what it was on the day before the June Brexit vote. All imported products—clothing, food, etc.—will stay more expensive than before the vote.

The Bank of England’s drop in interest rates from 0.5 percent to 0.25 percent—a record low and the first cut since 2009—is the same strategy that the U.S. used to fight its way out of George W. Bush’s recession, and lowering the interest rate may reduce the value of pensions.  Cost of government borrowing has gone up because Britain lost its top AAA credit rating.

Divorce from the EU covering thousands of subjects during 43 years of agreements and treaties must have the unanimous approval of over 30 national and regional parliaments across Europe, some of whom may want to hold referendums. At this time, the EU will permit the UK to be part of the single-market—including tariff-free trade—if EU nationals have the unchecked right to live and work in the UK. The UK doesn’t want to give up that control and declines to give a guarantee about EU nationals now living in the UK, but it wants the single market.

Travelers from EU and other non-EU countries in a group called the European Economic Area (EEA) may no longer receive state-provided medical help for conditions or injuries requiring urgent treatment if the UK severs ties with EEA.

Overwhelming popularity of Brexit is vanishing in the UK. In the Witney vote this week to replace former Prime Minister David Cameron, the Conservative Party percentage went from 60.2  last year for Cameron percent to 45 percent, Liberal Democrat vote increased from 6.8 percent to 30.2 percent, and the UKIP (Brexit supporters) went down almost two-thirds, 9.2 percent to 3.5 percent, now fourth place behind the Green Party candidate, Bernie Sanders’ brother Larry Sanders.

Brexit campaign manager and Vladimir Putin-supporter Nigel Farage has been a strong supporter of Donald Trump, coaching him for the town hall session with Hillary Clinton on October 9 and speaking at his rallies. Farage was heard praising Trump about his town hall performance on Fox. Although Farage took a small step backwards after hearing about Trump’s groping women, he still wants the racist, nationalist presidential candidate to win because of their similarities. Farage tells his U.S. audiences that Trump, despite his shrinking poll numbers, can still win because many people didn’t expect Brexit to win.

If people don’t vote for Clinton, Farage could be right, and the United States could be in worse shape than the UK if that happens. Even if Trump loses, the negative effects of Brexit will penetrate the United States, requiring a competent president.

Today I dropped off my ballot in Oregon. I wanted to make sure that no matter what happens to me in the next 17 days, I have voted to keep Donald Trump from become the Russian-supporting dictator of the country where I live.

Nels New Day is taking a hiatus and will return after Halloween. In the meantime, please vote early and vote sane!

October 20, 2016

Trump Keeps Supporters, Loses GOP Politicians

Last night’s presidential debate was a redux of earlier ones. My partner and I bet how long Donald Trump would keep his promise of staying high: I said 20 minutes, and she went for 40 minutes. I won. At the 20-minute report, he started downhill and kept on sliding, just like the last two times. When he wasn’t slinging mud, Trump engaged in what the late Justice Antonin Scalia classified as “argle-bargle” to sound as if he knew what he was talking about. He didn’t.

The biggest headlines about the debate are that Trump won’t promise to accept the results of the election. People should “tune in” on Election Night to see what he had to say, according to the showman in his attempt to take media notice from his sexual assaults. [Note: today Trump may be softening on his claim, but no one is ever sure of his position on anything.]

Some of Trump’s more bizarre statements between snarls of “wrong!” and other interruptions:

“Justice Ginsburg made some very, very inappropriate statements toward me and toward a tremendous number of people, many, many millions of people that I represent. And she was forced to apologize. And apologize she did. But these were statements that should never, ever have been made.” A Trump criterion for a Supreme Court Justice that they be nice to him and bragging about how he made one of them apologize—it’s all about Donald throughout the debate.

“We have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out.” Trump’s immigration plan using derogatory terms for Hispanics.

“[Russian President Vladimir Putin would] rather have a puppet as president of the United States.” Clinton’s comment when Trump rejected intelligence that Russia is hacking emails to sway the presidential election. Trump’s response: “No puppet. No puppet. You’re the puppet.”

“I didn’t even apologize to my wife who is sitting right here because I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know any of these women. I didn’t see these women. These women, the woman on the plane, I think they want either fame or her campaign did it and I think it’s her campaign.” Too much protesting?

“Nobody has more respect for women that I do, nobody.” Laughter from the audience.

“She’s guilty of a very, very serious crime. [Clinton] should not be allowed to run. And just in that respect I say it’s rigged.”

“I will look at [the election] at the time. I’m not looking at anything now.” Trump asked about accepting the election results. “What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?” After asked a second time.

“Should have gotten it.” Trump’s interruption when Clinton said, “There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged.”

“I sat in my apartment today on a very beautiful hotel down the street known as Trump…” Trump’s interrupted attempt at an infomercial as part of the debate.

“[Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad] is a bad guy. But you may very well end up with worse than Assad …. If she did nothing, we’d be in much better shape…. He’s just much tougher and much smarter than her and Obama.” Trump’s typical admiration for dictators.

“[Aleppo] has fallen, I mean, from any standpoint. What do you need, a signed document? I mean, from any standpoint.” Trump’s falsehood about the city under heavy shelling.

“Such a nasty woman.” Trump’s parting shot at Clinton. [This last one will become a meme for independent women!]

“I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad,” last night’s moderator, Fox network Chris Wallace, said after the huge debacle of Matt Lauer’s town hall in September. Even Wallace’s questions need a fact-checker.

Wallace falsely claimed that “the biggest driver of our debt is entitlements” and  pushed candidates toward a decision on a “grand bargain” when the funds disappear. He wrongly equated the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) analyses of Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s tax and economic policy proposals with the purpose of pushing them toward a decision on a “grand bargain” when the funds disappear. [The CRFB is operated by billionaire Pete Peterson, a member of Nixon’s cabinet, and shows that Wallace was wrong in his question.] Craig Harrington fact-checks the moderator in Media Matter with this chart showing the difference between the two candidates’ plans. Other fact-checking is also available here.  


Wallace also used the Fox fantasy that the “stimulus” created a sluggish economic recovery. The real problem with the stimulus package, according to noted economists, is that it was too small and too focused on tax cuts instead of target spending—both GOP-forced positions.

Other ways that Wallace tried to help Trump:

  • Opening the debate with conservative wedge issues on which Trump failed to score—Supreme Court, guns, abortion, and illegal immigration.
  • Attacking Clinton first and leaving the Trump negatives for later in the debate after people may have tuned out while leading into Trump issues with Wikileaks.
  • Framing the sexual assault question by questioning the truth of the women’s allegations by asking “why would [the women] make up these stories?
  • Trying to bail out Trump after he said he wouldn’t accept the election results by explaining why that was a bad idea and then asking him a second time.
  • Ignoring the debate ground rules by eliminating closing statements.
  • Failing to address issues such as climate change, equal pay, education, lifting people out of poverty, helping the middle class, collective bargaining rights, corporate personhood, money in politics, Wall Street abuses, etc.,etc.

Trump complained that Chris Wallace rigged the debate, but Trump couldn’t even handle the softballs that Wallace tossed him. Jason Easley called Wallace “the most lenient debate moderator towards Trump of the 2016 campaign.”

Last night may have been the first appearance of “Trump TV” when the GOP candidate livestreamed his debate coverage on his Facebook page, complete with advertising and commentary from retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. Other guests included faithful surrogate Rudy Giuliani. Rumors of a Trump network emerged after a Financial Times report. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has supposedly “informally” approached investment bank LionTree about creating a television network after the election. Variety said that LionTree was not interested, and Trump would likely suffer from a lack of advertising.

GOP Trump-supporting candidates may lose their elections because of Trump’s performance—which was indeed just a performance. I believe that Trump doesn’t want to win the election: he wants to gather followers for his next television show. To him, the last 17 months have been preparation for the next big media deal, and winning the White House would ruin those plans. Trump may be a man without control, but last night he purposefully ruined chances of picking up more votes, his MO throughout his entire campaign. He doesn’t care that he’s bamboozled all those faithful supporters—including the white supremacists—who look to him as a leader into white nationalism and may incite violent riots throughout the country.

Columnist Charles Krauthammer described Trump’s behavior last night as “political suicide.” My partner said Trump did it out of stupidity; I said that he’s trying to throw his chances at the presidency. We’ll never know which of us is right, but in 20 days we’ll know whether we have to bow to King Trump. It comes down to the voters of the United States.

Those who have not had enough of the mud-wrestling presidential campaign can watch the two of them roast each other at the Al Smith Catholic charities dinner.

October 19, 2016

Court System, Nation’s Values Support Rape Culture

Filed under: Rape — trp2011 @ 3:56 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Donald Trump has been revealed as a sexual predator, but only 12 percent of registered Republicans think that he should drop out of the presidential campaign after they heard about his sexual assaults. His supporters claim that all men engage in the kind of talk from Trump’s conversation with Billy Bush or, Pat Robertson’s defense, Trump was just being “macho.” After a number of women accused Trump of assault and not “just words,” Trump called all of them liars and rejected their claims, supported by the women’s conversations at the time that Trump sexually attacked them. Trump’s campaign has also threatened legal action against the women. Thus the vast majority of Republicans have joined Trump and his campaign in their attempt to normalize a rape culture, the belief that men have unlimited rights to women’s bodies by downplaying sexual assault and denying the women’s stories.

The last presidential candidates’ town hall addressed Trump’s behavior, but men were not at all concerned about the issue. By contrast, Trump’s sexual predation was Number One. Soraya Chemaly, the director of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project, pointed out:

 “It is an abstraction for most men. To try to explain why sexual harassment, street harassment, the threat of rape, affects our ability to go to school, walk freely, to get jobs, to keep working in certain places, it’s like it doesn’t matter. It’s like it’s just a trivial thing. And clearly, women’s response to this indicates that it’s not trivial to them.”

martin-blake-1A judgment in a Montana court shows that the judge believes rape is inconsequential. Forty-year-old Martin Blake of Glasgow (MT) admitted to three counts of rape and incest and was convicted for one rape. He pled out of a 100-year sentence to receive 30 years, yet Judge John C. McKeon suspended the prison term and gave him 60 days in jail minus the 17 days he had already served. McKeon found that this 60-day term and registering as a sex offender was sufficient for a man who raped his 12-year-old daughter.

Licensed clinical social worker Michael Sullivan testified that Blake would benefit more from community-based sex-offender treatment than from a prison term. Sullivan said that social support during his treatment was vital because he had lost his job and family. At this time, Blake lives with his mother, who spoke on his behalf. Public defender Casey Moore used Blake’s admission to his crimes as a plus on his side, but his “honesty” may have come from the fact that the girl’s mother walked into the room during one of the rapes.

“I’m not asking that he be given a slap on the wrist. He did spend 17 days in jail and he did lose his job, and will be on supervision for the rest of his life.”

The girl’s grandmother was concerned about how a prison term would impact the lives of Blake’s two sons. “His children, especially his sons, will be devastated if their dad is no longer part of their lives,” she said.

McKeon claimed that the sentence was commensurate to the nature and degree of harm and then insisted that Blake’s sentence was appropriate and safe, that the conditions of the sentence are “quite restrictive” and “quite rigorous.” Basically, Blake has to have a job, stay away from those under 18 years old without prior approval, and avoid sexual materials.

McKeon was upset because the prosecuting attorney said that Blake should be held accountable because he “repeatedly raped his daughter.” Jenson shouldn’t have brought up multiple incidents of incest, according to McKeon, because sentencing was for only one count of incest although the psychological evaluation submitted as a court document referenced the three sexual assaults.

More than 1,000 residents have called for removal of the judge, and a petition has almost 30,000 signatures censuring him. But McKeon gets off free because he starts collecting retirement from Montana taxpayers at the end of November.

Montana has gained national media coverage in the past for its light sentences. In 2013, District Judge G. Todd Baugh of Billings sentenced former high school teacher Stacey Rambold to 30 days in prison after suggesting the 14-year-old victim—Rambold’s former student—was equally responsible for the 2007 rape. Public outcry resulted in Judge Randal Spaulding resentencing Rambold to ten years. The victim had committed suicide in 2010.

Nick Bata, Libertarian candidate for North Dakota insurance commissioner, now has media attention for his “Make America Rape Again” on his Facebook page. He described the comment as “an online discussion that got a little bit wacky.” The discussion resulted from a Buzzfeed article about a definition of the term “consent.” The comparison is that taking money from a person without their consent is the same as taking sex from a person without their consent.

Bata responded, “Rape culture is a myth [social justice warriors] created.” Just like Trump’s comments, Bata’s dismissals of rape as a crime were offensive to many readers of the social network discussion. His flippant remark “make America rape again” responded to a posting by Juan Carlos Gomez:

“Why are you so dead set against seeing the reality women live through on a daily basis? Is the reality that women you care about go through this too much for you to handle? Or can you be so arrogant to think that only your life experience is valid?”

Ali Owens concluded her piece on rape culture in Huffington Post by explaining gender attitudes toward sexual assault:

“The vast majority of the victims of rape culture are women… and the vast majority of people who tell me rape culture doesn’t exist are―you guessed it―men. Men who somehow believe they are qualified to make that call—to wave away the persistent threat of sexual violence that we women live with every single day of our lives, that is ingrained in us from the time we are very small. Go ahead―wave it away. Minimize it; pretend it’s not there. Because, to you―as someone who’s never had to deal with it―it’s not there.”

Owens’ piece is a must-read for everyone because it shows how women are criticized no matter what they behave—confrontational v. not fighting back, paranoid v. not careful enough, too friendly or nice v. not friendly or nice enough, etc.

In Donald Trump, society has a classic example of someone who represents the rape culture, one in which rape is not actively encouraged but passively condoned. Trump’s philosophies:

trump-at-2012-miss-universeWomen are sexual objects and judged as this, even to the point of Trump’s denying that he would not sexually assault a woman because she didn’t look good enough for him to do it.

Young girls are sex objects in training as shown by Trump, a grown man, tells female children that he’d be dating them in ten years.

Women will let men to anything to them if they have money or fame: this was the focus of Trump’s comments on the video with Billy Bush.

Women’s looks are used as currency as Trump talks about how women can’t succeed if they aren’t attractive.

Women are naturally sluts and men can’t help themselves from assaulting them, shown by his tweets about looking at the “sex tapes” for a women who criticized his advances or his accusation that the military has sexual assaults because they allow women to be soldiers.

Men decide when women can take offense, and they shouldn’t take offense because “it’s just words.” That’s the excuse that people use to cover offensive, suggestive, rape-inducing statements.

The fear caused by this rape culture perpetuates it. Far more women would probably come forward to describe Trump’s sexual assault if they weren’t afraid to suffer a loss of jobs, lawsuits, humiliation, relationships, friends, etc. They know that many people won’t believe them or will blame them for men’s actions. Coming out to others about sexual assault requires great courage; I applaud everyone who has shown that bravery.

October 18, 2016

What Direction for Last Presidential Debate

The third presidential debate is scheduled for tomorrow night, and Donald Trump has many issues to address. A major one is the multiple accusations of sexual assault that have dominated the media during the past week, especially with support for the victims. Melania Trump, however, think that people should ignore what her presidential candidate husband, Donald, said because he is a 70-year-old “boy” who was “led on” into “naughty … boy talk” when he was 59 years old. This is her explanation for the person who wants to be leader of a major power in the world.

Melania Trump also doesn’t approve of cyberbullying although her husband is a master of cyberbullying tweets. Melania’s position that all “boys” talk this way about a woman’s “p***y” shows that men aren’t the only gender who promote the country’s rape culture. Despite claims that revelations about Trump’s sexual assault have been released only to destroy his chances at the presidency, this is not the first time that women have described Trump’s sexual attacks on them. It’s just the first time that the media paid much attention.

Donald Trump’s attempt to humiliate someone tomorrow is to invite President Obama’s estranged half-brother and Trump supporter to the debate. Trump has done this as retribution for the president’s request that the presidential candidate quit whining about a rigged election. It is also a way to pander to the people who believe that President Obama was not eligible for that position because he wasn’t born in the U.S.

Then there’s Trump’s accusation that “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors.” He claims that the Clintons control the press. He may not have noticed that the media has spent over three decades trying to keep both Clintons from being elected, and this election cycle is no different. Yet Trump received almost $3 billion in free media advertising during the primaries. Even Fox reporter Carl Cameron ridiculed him for the global conspiracy theory.

About that “rigged” election. Mike Roman, known for his promotion of a video regarding “voter intimidation” by New Black Panthers, is in charge to Donald Trump’s poll-watching project. In 2008, two Panthers stood outside a polling place; one Panther, who politely opened the door for people, was there in 2012 and accused of “thuggery.” Roman hasn’t said anything about Virginia resident Daniel Parks, who stood outside Jane Dittmar’s Palmyra (VA-05) congressional campaign office. The white man was there for 12 hours, staring into the office and showing his gun whenever anyone looked at him. Parks claimed to be “a voice for someone who might be a closet supporter of trump.” In the past, Roman ran the Koch network’s internal intelligence agency.

What about Russia? Trump said that he would meet with Vladimir Putin before the inauguration—while Barack Obama is still president. His friendliness with Putin may have gotten him information available only from the Russian controlled agency, Sputnik, a Russian propaganda outlet. The dribble of stolen Clinton-connected emails from her campaign manager John Podesta by Russian government hackers may stop, however, because Julian Assange has lost access to the internet at the Ecuadorian embassy where he sought sanctuary four years ago in order to avoid a rape charge in Sweden. It’s sad that an effort to create transparency has eroded into Assange’s attempt to keep Clinton from the White House.

Rumors are also circulating that long-time Trump supporter Roger Stone may divulge information about the Trump/Russia connection to save his own neck although he’s still denying it.

Another question for the debate is is how many times Trump will lie during the debate. After the 2016 presidential candidate town hall, Toronto Star’s Washington correspondent Daniel Dale found 33 lies in 40 minutes of his talking—one every 1.2 minutes. The data didn’t indicate whether repetition of lies was counted. [You can find some of Trump’s lies here.] The fact that Trump lies five times as much as Clinton gives him five times the media coverage.

Will Trump’s missing tax returns emerge during the debate? Media concern that Trump hasn’t paid federal taxes for two decades because of a massive $916 million declared loss in 1996 disappeared after Trump admitted sexually assaulting women. Trump’s not paying anything to the government, means that taxpayers are paying for services to him, for example the $1.6 million he was paid to fly U.S. Secret Service agents on a plane that he owns. That doesn’t include the money Trump gets from the government to house the agents at his own hotels and the $8.2 million that the Trump campaign—funded by his supporters—has also given to Trump-owned facilities for “rental.”

“Press conferences” in places such as his golf courses and his new hotel in Washington, D.C. are infomercials for his businesses as are sales for his products such as water and steaks. Donald Trump may be right in saying he could be the first presidential candidate to “run and make money on it.”

Will Trump keep sniffing tomorrow night? And whine about not getting to talk as much as Clinton although he had an extra minute—while he whined about not getting as much time?

“I’m a gentleman.” That may be the biggest lie that Donald Trump has told. Before the October 9, 2016 town hall with Hillary Clinton, he had a “press conference” with three women accusing Clinton’s husband of sexual assault and then sat them beside his family during the town hall. He followed that performance by stalking Clinton around the stage while he skulked, brooded, and invaded her space. After the questioning about his professed sexual assaults, Trump said, “I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do.”


Clinton responded:

“What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about women, what he thinks about women, what he does to women…. We have seen him insult women. We’ve seen him rate women on their appearance, ranking them from one to 10”, as well as his targeting of “immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities, POWs and Muslims.”

Trump responded by claiming that nobody “in the history of politics in this nation [has] been so abusive to women [as Bill Clinton]…. Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously.” He finished by saying that “Hillary … should be ashamed of herself, if you want to know the truth.” Clinton told him that his “facts” were wrong and quoted Michelle Obama: “When they go low, we go high.”

Trump followed his comments about Clinton’s emails by saying that she would be in jail if he were “in charge of the law in our country” and continued by decrying the country’s foreign policy. For the upcoming debate, Trump brags about being “unshackled” and promises “scorched earth” tactics. His goal in the town hall was to humiliate Clinton because she overwhelmingly won the first debate and was moving ahead in the polls, particularly with women. She’s much farther ahead in all these polls than on October 9, giving a prediction of even worse behavior from Trump than in the town hall.

What the candidates say, however, won’t make any difference to most of the people watching because they already know their “facts.” According to a Pew Research Center, over 80 percent of people in the United States believe that partisans disagree on “basic facts.” That percentage is the same for both Clinton and Trump supporters. Trump is able to persuade people of his “facts” because 25 percent of the people, 48 percent of Trump supporters and 5 percent of Clinton supporters, “completely distrust the economic data reported by the federal government, including statistics like the unemployment rate, the number of jobs added, and the amount of consumer spending.”

In the real world, the unemployment rate has sharply dropped and the budget deficit has shrunk during President Obama’s two terms. Government spending has leveled off, and murder rates are down. Border security has also tightened, and the number of undocumented immigrants coming into the nation has declined. And voter fraud is extremely rare throughout the country. As one Trump backer said to me, these are just numbers, and you can’t believe them. To conservatives, independent media outlets are untrustworthy, and official government data are a conspiracy.

People claim that the bar is lower for Trump because he is inexperienced in politics. In fact, there is no bar for Trump. The bar isn’t even lying on the ground; it’s been removed.

People who can’t watch tomorrow’s debate might want to tune into the Al Smith charity event on Thursday evening. Since this annual happening—actually a roast—was created in 1945, only two presidents, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton, have not spoken at the dinner. In the past, presidents or candidates have not appeared because of conflicts with the Catholic Church, the sponsor and benefactor of the function. This year the question is whether the two candidates who bitterly oppose each other will be speakers. Tune in Thursday.


October 17, 2016

Is the Election Rigged? In Some Ways, Yes

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 9:51 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Rampant claims of a “rigged” election are igniting Trump supporters as their leader is struggling to avoid press coverage about his sexual assaults. Donald Trump started raving about how Philadelphia’s inner city (aka black voters) needed to be monitored last summer when Hillary Clinton was ahead, and he’s returned to this mantra. Calls for Republicans (aka white men) to watch these polls have been followed by Rudy Giuliani’s declaration that more dead people “vote for Democrats rather than Republicans.” He added that the GOP members rarely cheat because “they don’t control the inner cities the way Democrats do.”

Donald Trump’s diversion seems to be working: 41 percent of the people in the United States that he’s right about the rigged election. That includes three-fourths of all Republicans. I’m one of those people who agree. Here’s why.

Let’s start with Florida where absentee ballots are thrown out if the voter’s signature is not an exact match with the one on file. Fortunately, a court in Tallahassee declared this policy unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker decried the “crazy quilt of conflicting and diverging procedures” that allowed local officials who “lack formal handwriting-comparison training or education” to decide whose signature was valid and whose ballot should be thrown away. He called the practice “obscene” and then lambasted the state for not offering voters to fix their questioned ballots. Walker wrote:

 “The State of Florida has categorically disenfranchised thousands of voters arguably for no reason other than they have poor handwriting or their handwriting has changed over time. It is illogical, irrational, and patently bizarre for the State of Florida to withhold the opportunity to cure from mis-matched signature voters while providing that same opportunity to no-signature voters. In doing so, the State of Florida has categorically disenfranchised thousands of voters arguably for no reason other than they have poor handwriting or their handwriting has changed over time.”

Of the 2.3 million people who voted by mail in Florida, one percent of their ballots were rejected. That’s 230,000 voters who were disenfranchised, a case of the state rigging the election. A study found that Democrats were much more likely to have rejected ballots than Republicans.

Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, tried to block other people from registering by his refusal to extend voter-registration deadlines after Hurricane Matthew recently disturbed the process, killing 41 people and causing massive flooding. Judges blocked his refusal as they did in Georgia and North Carolina.

Prior to the 2008 election, states had had no restrictive voting laws for almost a half century, primarily because the Voting Rights Act of 1965 blocked states most likely to have these unconstitutional laws preventing certain people from voting. Within an hour after the Supreme Court overturned the key part of this act in 2013, states, beginning with Texas, began to pass a wave of laws with the sole purpose of decreasing votes for Democrats. Courts have pushed back against unconstitutional anti-voting laws, but it’s been a continual struggle. This source gives specifics about which states have these punitive laws, but generally they can be found in the South and Midwest. This link also provides the newest information. If you are confused by reading this, can you imagine being in one of these states and trying to figure out how to vote?!

Of the 50 states in the nation, 17 tried to use their new restrictive voting laws for the first presidential election during the current year. Recent court rulings rolled that number back to 14 because courts blocked some measures in Georgia, North Carolina, and North Dakota. Texas’ laws were mitigated but remain more restrictive than before the Supreme Court ruling. Almost half the states create burdens for people to vote, primarily opposing women, minorities, and poor people, in the current election. States most likely to pass these restrictions are the ones with the highest black turnout in 2008, the greatest Hispanic population growth between 2000 and 2010, and/or those covered by the Voting Rights Act.

The worst voter restriction laws are strict photo ID requirement that allow only a short list of government-issued photo IDs to be used as identification. During the first election after Texas passed its law, 600,000 registered voters lacked the correct ID, and 11 percent of people nation-wide do not have these IDs. Texas required that the government-issued ID have exactly the same name as birth certificates, something highly unlikely for married women. Without the ID, voters could cast provisional ballots but must return to the polls within a few days with the mandated photo ID. Ten states are in courts facing lawsuits regarding the laws; six of these are specifically about photo ID laws.

GOP consultant Carter Wrenn admitted what everyone knows about the new laws—that the purpose is to decrease Democratic votes. “Of course, it’s political,” he said. “Why else would you do it?” As he said, Republicans want to protect their majority. The GOP would have left early voting if blacks voted Republican, according to Wrenn. He also explained that the GOP had to use the excuse of voter fraud to get away with their restrictive laws. That’s the voter fraud of 35 total credible allegations between 2000 and 2014 for over 800 million ballots in federal elections and hundreds of millions more ballots in elections within states.

Wisconsin, where GOP Gov. Scott Walker owns the state Supreme Court, is a classic case of Republicans rigging the vote. Last summer, a federal judge struck down early voting restrictions and other blocks to voting and ordered that IDPP voting receipts be issued “promptly” to those seeking them. People were still given the wrong information about obtaining photo IDs. Others were refused the receipts although they brought the necessary documents.

One serious case of voter rigging in another red state occurred during the Arizona March primary. The number of polling places in Democratic Maricopa County was cut from 400 in 2008 to 60 in 2016 for a population of over four million people. Locations were small, some with as few as six voting booths and half these left empty by poll workers to keep people in long lines outside from coming in to vote. Some people waited over six hours, and people with disabilities couldn’t cast ballots because no accommodations had been made for them.

A poll worker reported that the system tried to force her to give GOP ballots to Democratic voters, supposedly because the system failed to identify registered voters if the information was entered in lower-case letters. The party affiliation had also been tampered with before the election, changing registration from Democrat to Republican. Over 2,000 calls to the Secretary of State office went unanswered on the day of voting. The Arizona legislature decided to shut down the hearing on these issues before people waiting for hours could speak, and at least one person was arrested. This week a judge allowed the state law that invalidated ballots cast in the wrong precinct.

Serious vote rigging began after the 2010 GOP landslide in state legislatures. Because of district gerrymandering to benefit Republican candidates, Republicans had a 234-201 majority in the 2012 election for the U.S. House of Representatives although Democrats received 1.4 million more votes. The current GOP majority in the House is 247-188, the largest since 1928. One theory is that 226 seats are safely GOP, 193 should go to Democrats, and the remaining 16 are in play. The House is held by 218 seats.

The electoral votes are equally rigged. Mitt Romney lost Pennsylvania in 2012, but he got 13 of the 18 congressional districts and nine by near double-digits. At this time, Pennsylvania allots all its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the state, but Republicans want to shift the state law so that a GOP loser can get more electoral votes for president.

All this “rigging” would benefit Republicans, but Trump’s call for people to protect him is being answered by threats of violence. Trump incessantly calls on Hillary Clinton to be thrown in jail, and his supporters threaten to “take her out” if she wins the presidency. The Kentucky governor has called for blood to be shed if necessary, and white supremacist groups, who look on Trump as their leader, are bringing back the traditions of Confederates after the Civil War who won elections through intimidation and violence.

don-bollesAngry Trump supporters have threatened the Arizona Republic with killing its employees and burning down the building after the longtime conservative newspaper endorsed Clinton, the first Democrat in its history. One called invoked the name of Don Bolles, the newspaper’s investigative reporter killed by a car bomb 40 years ago, and said that more reporters would be blown up.

As Trump ratchets up his hateful rhetoric, such threats will cross the country. Trump wants fear. Life is bad enough with him as a candidate; it would be unbearable with him as president.

[Note: If you live in Oregon, tomorrow—October 18—is the last day that you can register to vote in the November 8 election. And because we live in a state with all mail-in voting, you can vote in peace: you don’t have to face the militia at the polls who will try to keep you from voting.]

October 16, 2016

Beliefs of Christian Right, Trump Match

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 6:30 PM
Tags: ,

A major question regarding Donald Trump is why the Christian right supports such an immoral man. Marlene Winnell has suggested reasons for this cognitive dissonance. She writes, “Trump actually represents the worst of what might be called ‘deep Christianity’ … deep-seated assumptions in orthodox Christianity.”

“The world is a bad and dangerous place.” Spreading fears about terrorism, violent crime, and financial ruin, Trump’s messages match the Bible with its threats of evil and peril, especially the threat of impending end times. Both Trump and the Bible preach the same message: Be very afraid.

“Might is right.” Trump’s values are strength without equality, peace, or justice. An example of this is his beating the drum with his demand that Hillary Clinton be put in jail—before she is tried in an impartial court and before there is any proof of wrongdoing on her part. Trump measures his success by how much money he makes and how much he has cheated the government. The Bible’s Jehovah displays his power by killing people with plagues, floods, and slaughter. Even Jesus, many times gentle and giving, physically drove merchants out of the temple and brags that his “Father” would send him “more than twelve legions [72,000 soldiers] of angels.” To many of those on the far Christian right, Trump is messianic.

“A savior is needed.” Trump continually tells his audiences that only he can save them. There is no team effort; he speaks only about himself in solving problems. He also doesn’t say how he will save the nation; he tells people that they should “trust” him because he is their “voice.” Fundamentalist Christians are waiting for the Messiah to return and save them from all their problems in a way that didn’t happen the last time Jesus appeared on earth.

“Simplistic thinking is adequate.” Trump’s sole solution to immigration problems is to “build a wall.” Trade deficits can be fixed by defaulting on loans. The sole solution to foreign policy issues is nationalism. Every answer to Trump comes from a black and white look at the problem with complete obedience that comes from either right or wrong—no alternatives. Both Trump and Jesus hold the believe that “whoever is not with me is against me.”

“Obedience is key.” Trump supporters don’t reject anything that he has done or said no matter how racist or misogynist. Their position is that others are worse. His fraudulent Trump University? His birther movement? His cheating Trump Foundation? No problem—he’s their leader and shall not be questioned. A Biblical story lauding Abraham when he obeys God by sacrificing his son Isaac praises Abraham. Devout far-right Christians must follow their pastors’ reading of the Bible instead of thinking for themselves, and Trump audiences at his rallies follow the same knee-jerk response to their leader.

“Violence is okay.” In fact, it’s beyond okay because Trump has called on people to beat up on protesters because it supports his purposes. This is the same premise in the Bible as people who don’t agree with God’s teachings can be burned, buried alive, or otherwise struck down. A constant in the Bible is God’s wrath, something visible in almost every Trump rally.

“Prejudice is acceptable.” God sanctions genocide in the Bible and punishment by death for homosexuality in the same way that Trump wants to punish people.  God regards the disabled as “unclean,” and women are ordered to be quiet and submit to their husbands. Slavery is endorsed in the Bible, and people who read the Bible literally are comfortable with Trump’s superior attitude toward LGBT people, women, disabled people, and racial and other minorities.

“Earth is dispensable.” Despite scientific consensus about the dangers of climate change, Trump believes it is a hoax. “Deep Christianity,” however, put apocalyptic vision over science and rationality. Like many fundamentalist Christians, who have no sense of responsibility for the Earth because of their belief in the End Times, Trump can ignore the problems of global warming in order to make more money.

“Exclusive self-interest is moral.” Moderate Christians believe in giving and helping people, but isolationist Christians and Trump are supremely selfish, in opposition to an ethic of working collectively for the common good. Evangelicals are focused primarily on getting to heaven. The nineteenth-century belief of Manifest Destiny, responsible for making the New World into a white man’s paradise at the cost of killing millions of people native to the country, holds a strong similarity to “making America great again.” Trump’s extreme position of American “exceptionalism” can lead to greater genocide by white men.

“America has lost its way.” Trump’s speeches are filled with false claims of the horror of the U.S.—the “hell holes” where blacks live, the way that blacks have never had worse lives (even during slave times), the disastrous economy, the dangers of ISIS and the global financial institutions, etc. Fundamentalist Christians who believe that the Founding Fathers were devout Christians (actually many of them were Deists) think that the U.S. has abandoned those mythical Christian principles; they’re happy to hear Trump claim that U.S. leaders—of both parties—are running the nation into disaster. They believe the biblical message that these “evildoers” will cause entire nations to suffer and be punished. To these people, every natural disaster, many of them caused by climate change, come from the behavior of sinners who don’t follow their belief. To them, Trump will be their savior.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is one of those people who look on Trump as the nation’s savior. He believes Janet Porter’s movie, Light Wins, in which she claims that the Old Testament flood described in the story about Noah’s Ark was caused by same-gender marriage. Gohmert claims that the same thing can happen in contemporary times because of legalized marriage equality and calls on people to vote for Trump in a goal of “saving America.”

Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr. has tried to convince the Christian school students to vote for Trump who reminds Falwell of his father. Ironically, there are some similarities as Jerry Falwell, Sr. used his Old Time Gospel Hour to spread videotapes accusing Bill Clinton of drug smuggling and murder when he was governor of Arkansas.

Falwell invited his Trump supporter friend Ralph Reed, who demanded Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, to convince the Christian school students that they have a Christian duty to vote for Trump. After a brief criticism of Trump’s bragging about sexually assaulting women, Reed launched into a diatribe about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and then urged them to not sit out the election or vote for a third-party candidate. He said:

“We are called to put away our ‘my way or the highway’ pride, forsake cynicism and negativity, and participate fully as citizens, always cheerful, always winsome, always ready to defend our faith.”

Pat Robertson also continues his support of Trump by explaining that the candidate’s delighted claims of grabbing women by the “p***y” is just his way of “trying to look like he’s macho.”

These are the people who support the bigoted, racist, sexist, violence, murderous, fearful, narrow, black and white perspectives that they glean from their readings of the Bible. These are the people who want to force everyone to follow their own beliefs without thinking for themselves without permitting any diversity. These are the people who are regarded as role models by the Christian right.

It speaks well for many of the 15,000 students and 500+ faculty at Liberty that they have signed a criticism of both Trump and Falwell. The group Liberty United against Trump wrote that Falwell’s support for Trump had cast a stain on the school’s reputation:

“We are Liberty students who are disappointed with President Falwell’s endorsement and are tired of being associated with one of the worst presidential candidates in American history. Donald Trump does not represent our values and we want nothing to do with him. … He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.”

Of the over 2,500 signatures posted by yesterday, 1,100 of them had Liberty University email addresses, and some faculty members have not signed the petition because of concern about retribution. The issue is valid: after Liberty board member and confidant of Falwell, Sr., disagreed with Jr.’s Trump endorsement last January, he resigned, citing “concern about a lack of trust.” Jr. had supported his endorsement by saying, “Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught.”

Polls indicate that fewer than 100 Liberty students voted for Trump in the Republican primary. Unlike their president, Reed, and other Christian right leaders, they understand this dilemma: Can you still claim to be the “Moral Majority” when you support a man who has boasted about sexual assault? The tragedy for those who say “yes” to this question is that they believe Donald Trump will follow through with his promises to “religious liberty.”

October 15, 2016

Trump, Sons Lead Rape Culture

Filed under: sexism — trp2011 @ 9:52 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Whenever Donald Trump’s children appear, they seem so well-behaved–in great contrast to their father. Even Hillary Clinton praised them in last Sunday’s town hall. Since then, however, Trump’s two sons have shown themselves to be either woefully ignorant or sexist.if-only-women-could-vote





After Nate Silver released voting demographics of the United States showing the differences between men and women, son Eric Trump used the above map on the right as a fundraiser. His email, entitled “Momentum,” stated, “We’re making huge gains against Crooked Hillary that you can see for yourself.”

Eric Trump may not have known that his “momentum” happens only if the 19th Amendment, allowing women to vote in federal elections, is repealed within the next 24 days. Some of Trump’s deplorables, however, are promoting a “rigged election” with their hashtag #repealthe19th.

Trump’s other son, Donald, Jr., is another apple who fell close to the Trump tree in his “family values” and attitudes toward women.

Donald Trump, Jr. in 2013 about women permitted in all-male golf clubs:

 “If you have a guys’ place you have a guys’ place.”

Junior explaining that men “hate having” women around because they complain about things like harassment:

“They stop us from doing what we want to do.”

An excuse Junior provides for his father’s admission that he’s a sexual predator:

“I think sometimes when guys are together they get carried away, and sometimes that’s what happens when alpha personalities are in the same presence.”

More from Junior about sexual harassment:

“If you can’t handle some of the basic stuff that’s become a problem in the workforce today, then you don’t belong in the workforce. Like, you should go maybe teach kindergarten. I think it’s a respectable position. You can’t be negotiating billion-dollar deals if you can’t handle, like, you know.”

Junior mocking women who he accuses of suing just to make money:

“’This is my get-rich-quick scheme. I’m now suing you guys because I feel uncomfortable.’ And by the way, that’s what happens in the world. I can play along, I can be fine, and then I can decide randomly, ’Uh oh, you now have crossed the line, even though I’ve been going with it.’”

Junior in defense of his father’s behavior, including groping women:

“I think it makes him a human. I think it makes him a normal person, not a political robot.”

Trump, Jr. writing about his wife’s breast-feeding as he displays the same lack of respect for women on social media as his father :

“If ur a boob guy this whole lactation thing is amazing the sports bra the wife is wearing is losing the containment battle!!!”

In just the past three days, the number of women who declared that Donald Trump sexually assaulted them has gone from two to 12. This week is sure to bring reports from more women. Yet Republicans cling to the GOP presidential candidate like barnacles. Even some of the national legislators returned after they disavowed him following the Washington Post’s release of the infamous video with Billy Bush, George W. Bush’s cousin, in which Trump claimed to be a sexual predator.

At his rallies, Trump declares that the women who have accused him are too ugly for him to attack. [Left: Rachel Crooks; right: Jessica Crooks; below right; Natasha Stoynoff]


natasha-stoynoffAfraid of violence against her and her family from Trump supporters, Mindy McGillivray, another woman who had described Trump’s sexual assault, said she was leaving the country.

Fox Business Anchor Lou Dobbs, an open Trump supporter, published the address and telephone number of 74-year-old Jessica Leeds, who was assaulted by Trump on an airplane when she was 40 years old. In an attempt to discredit his attack on Leeds, the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post published a report from Englishman Anthony Gilberthorpe who said that Leeds was the aggressor and confessed to him her desire to marry Trump. At the time, he was 18 years old. Since then he has been identified as a serial liar, but the Fox network is delighted to repeat the story.

Six months ago, Republicans panicked about the very thought that transwomen would grope their daughters and wives when they passed laws to keep transwomen out of the women’s bathrooms. Yet the reality that Donald Trump would actually grab “p***y” was passed off as “locker room talk” despite Trump’s admission on a Howard Stern show that he is indeed a sexual predator. Trump, his family, and his supporters are promoters for a rape culture in the United States.

In addition to exposing Donald Trump for the man he is, the women describing his sexually predatory behavior have brought out the problem of workplace sexual assault, particularly prevalent among low-wage workers. Last week, 15 McDonald’s employees filed harassment charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This harassment is so common among hospitality workers that Unite Here, their national labor union, has launched a campaign to address the problem.

Over three-fourths of almost 500 casino workers in the Chicago area reported incidents of sexual harassment. Researcher Sarah Lyons said, “Forty-nine percent of the housekeepers we surveyed said a guest had exposed themselves, flashed them or answered the door naked.” Women sexually harassed at work say that they don’t report these incidents because they fear they won’t have any support. Unite Here is working on legislation to ban guests sexually harassing employees and provide panic buttons to employees who work alone in rooms.

Since women began to reveal Trump’s assaults, more women are opening up about sexual assaults. The live chat helpline for sexual assault accusations, operated by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) had a 33-percent increase.  Calls to the telephone hotline have also gone up by 35 percent. RAINN President Scott Berkowitz said, “A lot of people calling have specifically said that it was the Trump stuff that got them thinking [about calling].”

Yesterday Trump blamed Clinton for plotting “the destruction of U.S. sovereignty” by meeting with global financial powers. On the campaign trail today, Trump is still vehemently denying the avalanche of sexual assault and making baseless accusations ranting about how the election is rigged, vowing to put Hillary Clinton into jail, and charging her with being on drugs at the last debate, calling on her to get tested before the next debate. It may be that he is projecting again after his constant sniffles in both his debate and town hall with Clinton and his uncontrollable shifts in mood and energy levels. The next debate is four days away. As usual, the major question is which Trump will appear.

October 13, 2016

Victims of Sexual Assault Leave Their Closets

Filed under: Women's issues — trp2011 @ 9:29 PM
Tags: , , ,

My blog on National Coming Out Day (October 11) left out an important group of people who are still in the closet–the women who have been sexually assaulted. During the fast few days, millions of these brave women have started to leave their closets although it’s proving dangerous in many cases.

The media is now focusing on the growing number of women who are telling how Donald Trump sexually attacked them in a rejection of Trump’s claims that his infamous “grab them by the p***y” statement were “just words.” They all have the same reason: at Sunday night’s debate Trump blatantly insisted that he had never sexually assaulted any women in an effort to protect himself from criticism regarding his coarse language about women.

Trump’s response was typical of his approach to accusations by calling them all “horrible, horrible liars.” He also told his audiences that he could not possibly have attacked these women because they were so physically unappealing. After declaring that the stories of sexual assault against a woman on an airplane was a “totally fabricated and false story,” Trump said, “Take a look … at her. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.” The words were accompanied with a sneer, and the crowds cheered. He used the same words when he accused a reporter of lying about his sexual assault on her.

Trump’s language about women has been devastating to them even if they have not been sexually assaulted. On the campaign trail tonight, an 11-year-old Girl Scout asked VP candidate Mike Pence a question. She brought up some of Trump’s language about women’s bodies and said, “When I hear those words and look in the mirror, they make me feel bad about myself.” Pence’s solution for her concerns is that the GOP foreign policy will keep her safe by destroying ISIS.

Why didn’t the People staff writer Natasha Stoynoff make the attack public when it first happened? This is her answer:

“Like many women, I was ashamed and blamed myself for his transgression. I minimized it (‘It’s not like he raped me…’); I doubted my recollection and my reaction. I was afraid that a famous, powerful, wealthy man could and would discredit and destroy me, especially if I got his coveted people feature killed. ‘I just want to forget it ever happened,’ I insisted.” But when she saw Trump deny putting his offensive words into action, she could no longer forget.”

Many women who report sexual assaults aren’t believed. If they push the issue, they usually run the chance of being punished. Conservative male politicians and pundits are now accusing the women telling their stories about Trump for being opportunists. Yet some of the women have talked about their experiences throughout the campaign, and the people largely ignored them because of their illogical hatred for Hillary Clinton. The media also failed to widely publish the information.

In his support of Trump’s sexual assault “locker room talk” and behavior, Rush Limbaugh ridiculed liberals for the importance of consent in “American sexual mores.” Limbaugh ranted:

“If the left ever senses and smells that there’s no consent in part of the equation, then here come the rape police. But consent is the magic key to the left.”

In his attempt to indicate the absurdity of this law, Rush Limbaugh is really correct. Consent really is the “magic key”: the Justice Department defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”

Yet Limbaugh, often recognized as a leader of the conservatives, believes that women don’t have the right to protect themselves by refusing to give consent. Other conservative leaders follow his lead. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) said that he might continue to support Trump even if the GOP candidate said, “I really like to rape women.” It should be noted that Farenthold was sued two years ago for creating “a hostile work environment” and sexual harassment.” He allegedly told his communications director at the time, Lauren Greene, that he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her. The case was eventually settled out of court.

The escape that conservatives use to justify for their continued support of Trump is to “condemn” his words but then stand by him. For example, evangelical leader Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University, claims that Trump is a “changed” man. Conservatives like Dave Daubenmire think that “it’s better for a president to grab a vagina than have one.” Falwell ignores the Trump of today who still maligns women, claims he will send Hillary Clinton to prison without legal justification, defrauds people, and constant lies about his personal and professional affairs.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory defends Trump by saying that Hillary Clinton’s statements are just as bad. “She lies an awful lot,” he said, which is in itself if not a lie than a massive misrepresentation not supported by evidence. At least Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who is running for re-election, had the good sense to take back her statement that Trump is a “role model for youth.”

Newt Gingrich didn’t even deny Jessica Leeds’ description of Trump’s touching her breasts and putting his hands up her skirt when she sat next to him in first class. Instead, he referred to the disgusting event as “a bad airplane flight.”

Dave Zirin explains how males provide the impetus in forcing women to keep their experiences of being sexually assaulted a secret. He tells about not calling out the bragging of an upperclassmate about making women have sex with him and telling a story about his attack on a girl. Zirin wrote that he kept quiet because he didn’t want to “look like a loser” but went home ashamed. The bragging student was later accused of rape but allowed to quietly leave the school without prosecution. Zirin emphasized the importance of confronting predators, something that three-fourths of the GOP political leaders refuse to do. The secrecy of sexual assault creates a rape culture.

As tragic as these sexual assault stories demonstrate the rape culture throughout the nation, woman who have been attacked are coming out of the closet. Huffington Post is keeping a list of women who describe Donald Trump’s assault on them, including Trump’s first wife and a woman suing Trump for rape when she was 13 years old. New Yorker has descriptions of sexual allegations against Trump.

Author Kelly Oxford used social media to expose stories of attacks when she asked women to tweet about their first sexual assaults last Friday. Over 30 million people have read or answered Oxford about their initial sexual abuses. Goldie Taylor, Daily Beast editor-at-large, started another Twitter conversation after Trump supporters like Joe Scarborough slammed women because they didn’t immediately report the assaults. Taylor tweeted, “How long did it take you speak publicly about your sexual abuse and name the perpetrator? It took me 30 years.” She had never told friends, family, or even her partner about the assault.

In all his horribleness, Trump may have opened the closet for millions of victims of sexual assault.

October 11, 2016

Out of the Closet

National Coming Out Day has been commemorated every October 11 for the past 28 years. It began in 1988 by marking the one-year anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington Lesbian and Gay Rights and continues to invite LGBT people to come out of the “closet” and proudly announce their sexual orientation and gender identity. The “closet” has been more and more associated with the LGBT community because, as Judy Grahn wrote in 1984:

“At present the term ‘closet’ implies a scandalous personal secret, or skeleton, in the family closet. In the case of a Gay person, it refers more precisely to being the skeleton in the family’s closet. That skeleton is the reality of Gayness itself. The sometimes violent and always frightening suppression of Gay culture often forces Gay people to live in the closet, in a secret world….”

The past few decades have marked a time when LGBT people have openly declared their true selves in vastly increasing numbers, a process that has helped increase the extent of legal LGBT rights despite its danger. Because some people suffer from homophobia because of their fear, being openly LGBT is not always safe. San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk, who was assassinated on November 27, 1978, knew that he lived in danger because he refused to hide his sexual orientation.

The conservative environment fostered during the two terms of George W. Bush and solidified in many states by the Tea Party legislators elected in 2010 continue to create peril for many LGBT people. Over half the states in the nation—29 in all—discriminate against LGBT people, many of them worse than others. For example, trans people can be arrested in North Carolina if they use the bathroom that the state thinks is not correct. Same-gender couples can legally marry, but they are still struggling with punitive laws about divorce, adoption, Social Security rights, etc. In those 29 states, people can be fired if they’re merely considered LGBT. This map shows which states continue to discriminate.

Although “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts,” like the one supported and signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, GOP vice-presidential candidate, don’t always identify LGBT people, that community is the focus of these laws.

At one time, it seemed that the LGBT people were the major scapegoats, but the election campaign for 2016, an event that started 16 months ago and still has another four weeks, has pushed far more people into the closet. Many Muslims are forced to hide their religion to avoid hate crimes against them. Homeless people are at risk because Donald Trump encourages violence against them. Others are afraid to openly explain their preference in a presidential candidate because of fear. I have a sign supporting Hillary Clinton that I am concerned about posting because it may encourage damage to my property. Hiding our religion and political beliefs because of fear is just one example of the movement toward fascism in the United States.

This year, National Coming Out Day coincides with Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement when people go forward and leave transgressions behind. As Max Antman writes about Yom Kippur and coming out of the closet:

“Coming out is often one of the most challenging, terrifying, and life-altering experiences an LGBTQ person faces in their lifetime. Regardless of whether the process is one of pain or ease, to come out is to surrender the privilege of a heterosexual life, and for many people, that is not only difficult – it’s impossible.

“Move forward into a space of opportunity and growth or remain trapped within perils of the past and fears of the future? The choice seems obvious enough, but the path to renewal is far from easy. Choosing ‘life and prosperity’ requires us to recognize our previous misgivings, but it also challenges us to accept whatever consequences lie ahead. Deciding to move into the new Jewish year through repentance and coming out of the closet are both very difficult choices, for they rely upon our faith in God and in ourselves.”

“As Yom Kippur and National Coming Out Day approach, we are challenged to take advantage of the opportunities they hold. We look at our past both individually and communally, and are given the chance to craft a better way. Even as we acknowledge the challenges and complexities of some of our less inclusive texts, these holidays give us the opportunity to look back at how far we have come in our journey towards acceptance and inclusion – not just as individuals, but as communities and a broader society.”

As more and more people know at least one LGBT person—frequently a relative—the acceptance grows. Two days ago, Anderson Cooper was the first openly gay person to moderate a presidential candidate, an historic occurrence. There were sneers, including from Donald Trump, but Cooper’s ability makes the job easier for the next LGBT person. As people know more open members of the LGBT people, the more accepting they have become. In the 22 years between 1993 and 2015, the percentage of people who were aware that they knew someone LGBT went from 61 to 88 while the level of acceptance ratcheted upward.

Not all LGBT people are safe coming out. I waited until I retired and left the state where I had worked because I would have lost my job. Staying closeted is something that shouldn’t cause guilt. But we all need to work for a world in which declaring a sexual orientation or gender identity or religion or political preference doesn’t put a person into jeopardy. People need to think about this factor in voting on November 8.


Meanwhile, LGBT people and our allies can take pride in the latest location of a rainbow flag. Planting Peace, a socially active group, sent a flag into outer space with a high-altitude balloon where it stayed 21.1 miles about Earth for over three hours. The universe is now an LGBT-friendly space; we can work to create the same atmosphere here on Earth.

For more joy, check out these top 20 tweets including one great message from President Barack Obama.

October 4, 2016

Pence May Be Worse Than Trump, Can’t Defend Him

Democratic Tim Kaine and GOP Mike Pence, vice-presidential candidates, just squared off in the only VP debate of 2016, and the GOP blogged that Pence won—hours before the debate began. The blog soon disappeared, but it does leave all their other opinions open to question. [Photograph: Andrew Gombert/AFP/Getty Images]


Both candidates have been in Congress and both have been elected to governor, but their future—if they don’t get elected—may follow a different path. Kaine would go back to the Senate if Trump succeeds. Pence jumped at the offer to be Trump’s running mate because he was unlikely to be re-elected for another gubernatorial term in Indiana. If he isn’t elected, Pence would be looking for another job—perhaps back to the U.S. House of Representatives. Reports from closed door meetings showed that Pence may not get a warm greeting from representatives because of Trump’s attitude toward women.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) said that his daughter had told him that “Trump hates women,” and Pence denied it, claiming that he was improving with women. In a private meeting with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Pence was pressed on his reluctance to denounce former KKK leader David Duke and the Alt-Right movement. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) rebuked Pence and called Russian president Vladimir V. Putin “a thug and a butcher,” referring to Trump’s acceptance of the dictator to be unacceptable.

Trump is well known for his sexist attitude toward women, but Pence has been in a position to make life much worse for women:

  • Pence repeatedly voted for a law to criminalize abortion with no exception for a woman’s health and puts doctors into prison for up to two years.
  • Pence repeatedly cosponsored legislation to not only make abortion illegal in almost all cases but also ban common forms of contraception, stem-cell research, and in vitro fertilization.
  • Pence repeatedly voted to allow hospitals to refuse to provide emergency abortion care, even when a woman’s life is in danger.
  • Pence signed a bill to force women to carry non-viable pregnancies to term.
  • Pence’s Department of Health gave a $3.5 million contract to a “pregnancy crisis center” that lies to pregnant women about their options.
  • Pence signed every anti-abortion bill, including one mandating funerals for aborted or miscarried fetuses. A judge overturned that law as unconstitutional.
  • Pence forced a Planned Parenthood clinic to close in Scott County which led to a huge outbreak of HIV.

In an argument supporting a state law against abortion, Pence claimed that women might get voluntarily raped hoping to get pregnant and avoid work:

“And it gets worse – when you get an abortion, you get several days off of work and whatnot to recover. And there are a lot of crazy people out there. What if women would go out and get raped on purpose just so they could get off work? I mean, Indiana’s economy is struggling as it is, and having thousands of women absent from their jobs would be horrific for the state, I’m telling you. I made the right call and that will be confirmed in the long run.”

Pence is also anti-worker:

  • Pence worked to keep Indiana a “right to work” state by forcing unions to provide grievance and bargaining services to non-members free of charge. Although two judges ruled the law unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court upheld Pence’s law.
  • Pence opposes increasing the minimum wage above $7.25 and signed a bill keeping local governments from raising this amount.
  • Pence signed a law repealing the state’s common construction wage, meaning that local boards cannot allocate wages for publicly-funded construction projects.
  • Pence also supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership because he thinks that his state would “enjoy increased market access and fairly compete on the world stage.” Unions—and Donald Trump—oppose TPP because it hurts manufacturing jobs.

Pence also opposes LGBT rights by signing a “right-to-discriminate” bill against LGBT people fighting the right of gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military. More Pence positions that make Trump proud.

The problem with running for an important office is that past peccadilloes sometimes come back to haunt a candidate. In 1990, Mike Pence, like Marco Rubio, used campaign funds to pay for personal items, in Pence’s case the mortgage on his house, his personal credit card bill, groceries, golf tournament fees, and car payments for his wife. Because it was not illegal, the FEC created rules preventing the use of campaign funds for personal needs. Pence lost his race for the House by 19 points. This fact needs to be pointed out when Pence falsely complains about Hillary Clinton’s expenditures.

Pence may get another black eye from his refusal to pardon an innocent man. A man convicted for an armed robbery served ten years before DNA indicated another man and eyewitnesses recanted their testimony. The new prosecutor in a retrial offered a plea deal for an immediate release, leaving the convicted man no choice but to admit to a crime he didn’t commit in other to keep his family from becoming homeless. Pence’s argument against pardoning the man is that no governor has ever pardoned an innocent man: he obviously knows the man is innocent and won’t pardon him. The prosecutor who got the plea agreement is running for Attorney General of Indiana as a Republican, and a pardon would hurt his campaign.

In the coming week, Pence may also suffer with everyone except far-right voters after his losing a court case. A panel of three conservative judges from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Pence cannot discriminate against Syrian refugees by withholding funding from refugee resettlement organizations promised aid by federal law. Judge Richard Posner, a Ronald Reagan appointee, said that Pence’s unfounded “fear of terrorist infiltration” is not a rationale for discrimination. He added that federal law forbids restricting settlement funding on the basis of national origin and compared it to forbidding black people to come to Indiana because Pence might be afraid of them. As an illustration of how conservative this panel was, another member of the unanimous panel, Diane Sykes, is on Trump’s short list for Supreme Court candidates.

People who watched tonight’s debate saw Kaine attacking Pence and frequently interrupting him. Pence stayed unflappable while making faces as Kaine delivered fact after fact of Trump’s egregious statements. The debate itself will probably be soon forgotten, but Kaine’s statements about Trump will most likely be frequently televised along with Pence’s facial expressions and his frequent shaking his head. For example, Pence claimed that he didn’t call Putin a “strong leader,” but video shows did exactly that. Kaine made points asking about Trump’s tax returns, his praise for Putin, his negative comments about women, and his refusal to apologize.

As Kaine pointed out, Pence couldn’t defend Trump—he could only pivot away from him most of the time. One of Pence’s mistakes was to accuse Hillary Clinton of taking money from the Clinton Foundation because Kaine took the opening to list the ways that Pence had abused the Trump Foundation. Another mistake was to blame Clinton for the Russian aggression in Ukraine because it led to the discussion of Trump’s support of Russia.

In one sense, tonight’s debate may be a prelude to the presidential campaign on October 9. Watch next Sunday for the complaint from Trump that Clinton has released an “avalanche of insults.”  If so, this accusation will come from the man who tweeted his own “avalanche of insults” tonight. Otherwise it was pretty much a non-event.

Bottom line: Confronted by Trump’s statements, Pence said that the candidate didn’t say things that he did, avoided the topic, or looked away.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at


Res ipsa loquitur ("The thing itself speaks")

Moving America FORWARD

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...


Official news outlet for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of ALA

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults News

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: