Nel's New Day

September 29, 2016

Gary Johnson, Far-Right Presidential Candidate

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:53 PM

Young voters, many of whom were supportive of Bernie Sanders, now declare that they will vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson instead of the candidates for the two main parties. They love him because he wants to legalize marijuana, but they are also under the impression that he is the liberal populist who they lost when Hillary Clinton won the Democratic candidacy. The first guess is right; the second is wrong.

Young people who think that Johnson will save them need to look at his beliefs:

Johnson is against federal guarantees for student loans because he thinks that the loans eliminate competition for students. He argues that anyone who doesn’t have the upfront money to attend college shouldn’t be allowed to attend.

Johnson opposes the minimum wage and would abolish it if he could. During his first term as New Mexico governor in 1999, he vetoed a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage from $4.25 an hour to $5.65.

Johnson opposes equal-pay laws, ensuring that employers should pay men and women the same amount for performing the same job.

Johnson wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a boon to young people who can stay on their parents’ health insurance, and the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, a life-saver for many old people. To him, deregulation of insurance companies, hospitals, and health providers will solve every problem.

Johnson wants to give internet service providers the ability to favor some websites over others by giving them superior signal access to consumers for additional fees.

Johnson would stop collective bargaining for public employees, just like Gov. Scott Walker did in Wisconsin. In 1999, Johnson vetoed a bill to renew contracts of state public employees and the state collective bargaining law to cover employees.

Johnson wants to cut Social Security and remove Medicare and Medicaid from federal control. He also wants to increase the retirement age for collecting Social Security and have means-test eligibility for Social Security which would reduce payments for people who paid into the system if they have other assets.

Johnson supports private prisons that mandate that states incarcerate enough people to fill them and cut costs that allow horrible treatment and escapes. After he used private prisons in 1999, they erupted into violence when private prison officials refused to treat prisoners according to law. Also in 1999, Johnson vetoed a bill to provide enhanced oversight of New Mexico’s private prisons.

Johnson thinks that climate change might be at least partly “man-made” but doesn’t want the government to take any action to solve the problem. He claims that the free market, that caused the problem in the first place, will take care of all the problems. He opposes “cap-and-trade taxation” and supports “building new coal-fired plants” because the sun will “encompass the Earth” in billions of years so global warming is inevitable.

Johnson wants ordinary people to just sue corporations if they have a problem with pollution although he wants no regulation.

Johnson wants to eliminate the progressive income tax and substitute a regressive national sales tax, forcing the bottom 90 percent to pay most of the taxes. Johnson’s sales tax for everyone would be 28 percent.

Johnson supports the NRA position that gun violence would drop if all people had guns.

Johnson awarded a “sole-bidder contract” to Koch Industries in 1998 for a $323 million highway project with a loophole that cost New Mexico taxpayers $100 million in federal highway funds during five years. After it received the contract, Koch Industries gave $5,000, the maximum allowed, to Johnson’s re-election campaign.

Four years ago, Johnson’s campaign workers looked much like Donald Trump’s operatives: Maureen Otis, affiliated with the anti-immigrant Minutemen Civil Defense Force militia group; Jim Lacy, also with the Minutemen; Floyd Brown, birther propagandist who created George H.W. Bush’s infamous racist Willie Horton ad in 1988; and Roger Stone, conspiracy pusher now adviser to the Trump campaign.

Pro-Johnson PAC took $1 million from a right-wing, anti-education donor Jeffrey Yass, whose main goal is to privatize all education. Yass sits on the far-right Cato Institute board with David Koch who pledged “tens of millions of dollars” for Johnson’s 2016 campaign, according to a Johnson campaign staffer. Koch denied this allegation, but the money could have been designed for Johnson in a super PAC.

Another top contributor to Johnson, Morning Star Packing Company, got a $1.5 million pollution fine for illegally enlarging wastewater ponds, polluting groundwater with excess salts, nitrates and organic waste. The company is also a major donor to AlternativePAC, that falsely assures voters they won’t be skewing the presidential election to either of the major candidates by voting for Johnson. AlternativePAC is run by Matt Kibbe, the former chief executive officer of FreedomWorks, the group that helped create the Tea Party and organize townhall meetings opposing the Affordable Care Act that stopped most legislatures from speaking to these groups.  in congressional districts across the country in opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

Johnson’s ultimate plan, as reported by Politico’s Ben Birnbaum, is to take enough votes from both major-party candidates to deprive each of the 270-electoral vote majority a candidate needs in order to win the White House. At that point, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives would pick the president. Johnson hopes that it will be him, but it’s not a guarantee, especially because Republicans support their party no matter how much they hate the party’s candidate.

Gary Johnson’s poll numbers were higher before he became more widely known. Last week on Morning Joe, he said “What is Aleppo?” when asked about the epicenter of the refugee crisis in Syria. Even worse this week, he couldn’t come up with the name of any current world leader when Chris Matthews asked him to name one who Johnson considered in a positive fashion. Matthews gave him a great deal of latitude, even naming such countries as Canada, but the best he could do was the former president of Mexico. He couldn’t remember the man’s name, and his vice-presidential candidate, William Weld, had to bail him out. Satirist Andy Borowitz wrote a column on Johnson called “Gary Johnson Says His Favorite Foreign Leader is Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

Young voters supporting Gary Johnson are in favor of a president who will take away their health insurance, throw most of them out of college, inundate the country with guns, make them pay a 28 percent sales tax, increase global warming and pollution, force them to pay more for the internet, give them lower wages—in short, do everything that millennials largely oppose. At the same time, he knows nothing about foreign affairs, a serious problem especially at this time. If all these issues aren’t bad enough, Jeb Bush is considering a vote for Johnson.

Conservatives who believe in Johnson’s beliefs should note that he increased the New Mexico debt from $1.8 billion to $4.6 billion in his eight years as governor. Since the Clinton/Trump debate, PPP rated him at six percent, compared to an NBC poll at ten percent a week earlier. We may assume that Johnson will make more mistakes as he gets more desperate and whine more about the unfairness of the U.S. political system. Hopefully, it’s a system that keeps him from becoming president.

Those who think that switching their votes from Gary Johnson to Jill Stein should read this perspective on the Green Party candidate.

September 27, 2016

Presidential Candidate: Trump Normalizes Lies, Abuse

Satire has become more and more difficult as GOP presidential candidate, Donald Trump, goes over the edge in his ridiculous behavior as shown in the first presidential candidate debate of 2016. Satirist Andy Borowitz concludes his column, “Trump Threatens to Skip Remaining Debates If Hillary Is There”with this mocking comment:

“’I have said time and time again that I would only do these debates if I am treated fairly,” [Trump] added. “The only way I can be guaranteed of being treated fairly is if Hillary Clinton is not there.’”

Borowitz’s column on the debate is almost factual—probably more factual that the lies that Trump spewed throughout the 90 minutes. NPR provided an excellent 100-word summary with six additional videos:

“The first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was a contentious affair with the presidential candidates clashing on the economy, taxes and terrorism. With discipline, Clinton pushed Trump’s buttons, attacking his business practices, accusing him of not paying his contractors and stiffing the American people by not paying federal taxes. Trump replied, “That makes me smart.” Trump was vintage: a visceral debater who touted his business acumen and accused Clinton of being a professional politician — “all talk and no action.” A 30-year career in politics, Trump said, has yielded nothing.”

debate

According to the CNN/ORC poll of debate watchers, 62 percent gave the win to Clinton, and only 27 percent thought Trump was the winner. The majority of two TV focus groups of undecided voters largely declared Clinton the winner after the debate—18 of 20 in a CNN group in Florida and 16 of 22 in a CBS group run by GOP strategist Frank Luntz. In these groups, voters leaning toward Trump had a better opinion of Clinton than the “undecided” voters did. One panelist said that Clinton “took control of the situation.” One alt-right group concluded that Trump “sucked” and gave ideas on how he could improve.

Although Trump has fixated on Clinton’s lack of stamina, he appeared to fade after the first 20 minutes of the debate. He also skipped a post-debate victory part and went home immediately after the debate.

Trump’s own surrogates concentrated on his possible success during the first half of the debate in a rather lukewarm fashion. Some weren’t even that supportive and criticized Trump’s entire part of the debate. On the Fox network, Laura Ingraham complained that the moderator made bad topic choices. In the spin room afterward, former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani said that Trump shouldn’t participate in the remaining two debates because he was treated badly in this one.

GOP lawmakers weren’t any happier. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) complained that Trump dragged out his answers and was frequently repetitive in his responses. Others said that he was ill-prepared and appeared too defensive. The only positive thing that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) could say about Trump is that he was “spirited.”

The low bar for Trump for last night’s debate required only that he look “presidential” and “non-sociopathic.” He failed. Trump may have looked moderately successful in a discussion about foreign trade, but his raving and incessant interrupting began immediately after that. The longest one was after Lester Holt gave evidence that Trump had supported the Iraq War at the same time that Clinton voted in favor of giving George W. Bush and ability to attack Iraq. The candidate kept shouting that people would know the Trump’s truth if they only talked to Fox network’s Sean Hannity.

A few of Trump’s failures:

  • He called the $14 million loan from his father “small.”
  • He couldn’t explain why he wouldn’t release his taxes.
  • He claimed that he didn’t pay for contractors because they had done poor work.
  • He justified denying housing to blacks by declaring that he hadn’t publicly admitted guilt.
  • He used the excuse of racist birtherism by saying that he just wanted to force Barack Obama to release his birth certificate despite Holt’s asking why he continued to be a birther. Trump finally said, “Look, it’s all words.”
  • He tried to play the victim—and miserably failed—by saying that Clinton wasn’t nice to him because she quoted many of the sexist comments that he has made about women.

Trump has lied about Clinton’s attempt to eradicate the Second Amendment by tacitly indicating that people should shoot Clinton. The Democratic candidate has consistently argued for sensible gun laws such as universal background checks. Last night, however, Trump argued that the police should take guns from minorities. In talking about his proposed unconstitutional “stop-and-frisk” program, he said, “We have to take their guns!”

Every time Clinton baited Trump, he took the lure. For example, she said, “Donald was one of the people who rooted for housing crisis. He said back in 2006, gee, I hope it does collapse then I can go in and buy some and it did collapse.” In desperation, Trump answered, “That is business.”

Unlike Trump’s opponents in the GOP primary debates, Clinton always appeared dignified and used specific facts for all her arguments throughout the first debate. She appeared to be addressing the television audience with her clear explanations. In contrast, Trump continually interrupted Clinton, accusing her of lying, spoke over her answers, and extending his time over Holt’s protests. Clinton almost always patiently waited until Trump finished, just as a person might do with a petulant small child, before she returned to policy statements. Although he didn’t admit he did a bad job, he complained of having a bad microphone after the debate had finished.

About last night’s debate, the editorial board of the New York Times wrote:

“When just one candidate is serious and the other is a vacuous bully, the term [debate] loses all meaning….

“There was a fundamental asymmetry to the exercise, because of the awful truth that one of the participants had nothing truthful to offer. But seeing them on the same stage distilled exactly who they have been throughout this campaign….

“Standing at the lectern, interrupting and shouting, playing the invisible accordion with his open hands, filibustering, tossing his word salads—jobs and terrorism and Nafta and China and everything is terrible—Mr. Trump said a lot. But as the debate wore on, he struggled to contend with an opponent who was much more poised and prepared than any of the Republicans he faced in the primaries.”

Joe Klein wrote in Time: 

“Her most impressive moments came when she wasn’t talking, when she was on split-screen listening to him. She didn’t waver; she listened with a perfect combination of attention and ironic bemusement, with just the slightest hint of “What a jerk” flickering at the corners of her eyes and her mouth.

“He, by contrast, huffed and puffed and sniffled … and sighed and groaned and mugged and drank water and interrupted, rudely, repeatedly. He made not one solid, specific proposal during the course of the 90 minutes.”

In a Newsweek opinion piece, “Donald Trump’s Sniffling, Humbling Debate Debacle,” Matthew Cooper wrote about Trump’s “smirks and pouts,” his “sniffles” and how he “seemed allergic to facts.”

  • Clinton has been fighting ISIS “her entire adult life.” No, ISIS came out under George W. Bush in 2004, and Clinton was born in 1947.
  • ICE endorsed Trump? No, government agencies don’t endorse candidates.
  • He wanted to protect President Obama with the birther movement? Totally preposterous!
  • The U.S. is a Third World country. No—he’s obviously never been to a real Third World country.

The debate shows a presidential candidate who has no soul. He will cheat anyone to make more money and then take pride in his actions. He even lies about opposing “professional politicians”; he just wants the position of president to make money for his businesses.

The worst part of the debate, however, is that the country is not more horrified by what a presidential candidate openly says to 100 million people. He finished his diatribe about Clinton’s accusations of misogyny was his “defense” by talking about Rosie O’Donnell. In 2006, she criticized him on The View about his affair while he was married and about his bankruptcy. That was ten years ago, and he still obsesses about it. At the end of the debate, Trump said:

 “Somebody who’s been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell, I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it, and nobody feels sorry for her.”

These are the same words that abusive men use when they talk about their female victims: “She deserves it.” And the media made very few comments about it because Trump has normalized not only lying but also abuse and violence with the support of over 40 percent of the voters in the United States. This is a tragic commentary on the culture of the country in the 21st century.

September 26, 2016

Debate Bar Low for Trump in Fact-Free Moderating

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 2:40 PM

The Trump campaign has just admitted how much Donald Trump lies: Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, objects to fact-checking by debate moderators. She said that Matt Lauer, who let Trump get away with a vast number of egregious falsehoods during a townhall, “did a great job.” Conway realizes that Trump incessantly lies as shown by his 87 fact-checked “erroneous” statements in only five September days. The campaign manager knows that Trump can survive tonight’s debate only by not being made accountable for his mendacious statements.

Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, has joined Trump in his lying, but he’s not as good at it. Pence called out the Washington Post for “inaccuracies” in its reporting about Trump’s using his charitable foundation for a slush fund but couldn’t find any examples for his claim. On the Fox network, Pence said, “I know that the Trump Foundation, the family, can answer all of those questions about that specific instance, and others, and they have.” Then he shifted to repeating falsehoods about the Clinton Foundation.

The biggest issue of tonight’s debate, far beyond the possibility of Trump’s tantrums, is whether a moderator should point out lies from the debaters. Janet Brown, the executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates, thinks that the moderator shouldn’t bother with facts. For example, the moderator should explain that the unemployment rate is actually 4.9 percent when Trump claims that it’s 40 percent—or even 57 percent.

Although Brown maintains that “the commission asks independent, smart journalists to be the moderators,” she discourages them from pointing out “lies,” negating any need for “smart” or “independent” moderators. The debate ends up being a circus that rewards liars for outshouting truth tellers. Trump supporters who don’t want Trump’s lies revealed claim that people watching the debates will get the facts from follow-up news. No, they won’t. They haven’t bothered to search for the facts for the past 16 months, and they won’t start now.

As John Nichols writes, “The truth, and reality, should not be open to debate.” When Trump points out that he’s always opposed the Iraq War, a moderator needs to point out that he’s lying. Nichols writes:

“Moderators should not be facilitators of falsehood. It is not their job to aid or harm candidates. It is their job to make sure that viewers get an honest impression of who the candidates are and where the candidates stand, and to prevent a debate from veering dramatically off course—something that happens when contenders start arguing about who has a better grip on reality.”

In 1976, President Gerald Ford and presidential contender said, “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration.” Panelist Max Frankel asked, “Did I understand you to say, sir, that the Russians are not using Eastern Europe as their own sphere of influence and occupying most of the countries there and making sure with their troops that it’s a Communist zone, whereas on our side of the line the Italians and the French are still flirting with the possibility of communism?” Brown claims that moderators shouldn’t do this.

The corruption of the debate process for presidential candidates has come from the media control. When Ford was gently reminded in 1976 that he was “misrepresenting” Soviet domination in Eastern Europe, League of Women voters administered the presidential and vice-presidential debates. The Reagan White House then gave the debates to the major networks.

Dorothy Ridings, then president of the League, opposed this transition during Senate hearings:

“Broadcasters are profit-making corporations operating in an extremely competitive setting, in which ratings assume utmost importance.”

Ridings accurately pointed out that the media control would make a travesty of the debates. By 1988, the League refused to participate in the Bush/Dukakis debates with this statement:

“It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

Revered journalist Walter Cronkite wrote in the same year:

“The debates are part of the unconscionable fraud that our political campaigns have become. Here is a means to present to the American people a rational exposition of the major issues that face the nation, and the alternate approaches to their solution. Yet the candidates participate only with the guarantee of a format that defies meaningful discourse. They should be charged with sabotaging the electoral process.”

Because of media control over the debates—and the campaigns—huge corporations have created profit centers through making this process into a giant reality TV show. Last February, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves crowed about the cash that the campaign was making for his network:

“The money’s rolling in and this is fun. I’ve never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us… Bring it on, Donald. Keep going. Donald’s place in this election is a good thing.”

Television has turned a serious issue into a gladiator fight, and Elaine Quijano of CBS News will be moderating the vice presidential candidates’ debate on October 4. Moonves will surely be requiring success for his bottom line—the profits.

Both Matt Lauer, who turned the presidential candidate townhall into a debacle, and Donald Trump, who has made the United States a joke throughout the world, are NBCUniversal celebrities who have earned millions from and for the networks. According to Vanity Fair, NBCUniversal boss Steve Burke is considering returning The Apprentice to Donald Trump if he wins the presidency and broadcasting it from the White House. NBC’s Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live have worked to normalize Trump’s deplorable behavior by showing how cute he is.

Moderator of another presidential debate, has declared himself not to be the “truth squad.” He is employed by Fox, the network that supported Donald Trump in spreading his lies—including birtherism—so that Trump had tens of millions of dollars in free publicity. Wallace will surely not ask Trump if he will “follow through on your promise to donate $5 million to charity once you were given proof that President Obama was born in the United States?” Roger Ailes, fired from Fox for sexual assault, will no doubt be pleased with Wallace’s “performance.”

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship wrote:

“How can anyone keep Trump in bounds? He makes up the rules as he goes along. He is a pathological liar and overweening narcissist who, as Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo reminds us in a chilling take on the man, has more than once hinted at the murder of Hillary Clinton.”

Moyers and Winship quote Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

“The salient fact about Trump isn’t his cruelty or penchant for aggression and violence. It’s his inability to control urges and drives most people gain control over very early in life. There are plenty of sadists and sociopaths in the world. They’re not remarkable. The scariest have a high degree of impulse control (iciness) which allows them to inflict pain on others when no one is looking or when they will pay no price for doing so. What is true with Trump is what every critic has been saying for a year: the most obvious and contrived provocation can goad this thin-skinned charlatan into a wild outburst. He’s a 70-year-old man with children and grandchildren and he has no self-control.”

People talk about “winning a debate.” It shouldn’t be a sport, but people treat it like that—except they give Trump a huge handicap. Clinton does suffer from “special treatment” and “different standards” because of the low bar for Trump. Michael Hulshof-Schmidt wrote:

“All Trump has to do to be declared a winner for this debate is to accomplish the following: not bite off the head of a small child while on stage, not refer to his penis and small hands, and finally (and this is a big ask) not throw one of his usual temper tantrums.”

If Trump attacks Clinton with his lies, he’ll be declared as “strong.” If moderator Lester Holt says anything that Trump doesn’t like tonight, the candidate will continue to “smear” Holt as a Democrat who is rigging the debate, and non-Fox watchers will ignore the fact that Holt has been a registered Republican since 2003.

Donald Trump’s director of African-American outreach warns that anyone who criticizes Trump will have to bow down:

“Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”

That is the man who will most likely be praised for tonight’s performance.

September 23, 2016

Misplaced Protest Can Lead to a Trump Presidency

The election is getting closer, and some millennial Bernie Sanders supporters are still opposing Hillary Clinton. They—and many others—say that they will vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein in a protest vote although many of them also know nothing about these two candidates. At this time, Clinton is less than three percent ahead of Donald Trump in an average of major polls while Johnson and Stein have over 11 percent between them. In browsing my LGBT file, I found a message written to Daily Kos published over six weeks ago.

“A message to the millennial LGBT’s I see on my feed bashing Hillary on a daily basis by re spewing the Republican lies and propaganda about her & vowing to vote for Jill Stein or write in Bernie….

“My husband Steve & I have been together over 26 years now, & btw it’s been less than 3 years that I’ve been able to call him that, and though it’s about so much more than the money, we’ve saved over $42,000.00 in that short of time by being able to file taxes as a married couple, and by having him on my health insurance.

“We’ve been waiting & fighting for that equality since before most of you were born.

“Your third party or write in vote only helps elect Donald Trump, check your history books, when was the last time one of those won a presidential election?

“You often quote that Hillary stated that she was against marriage equality, she did, but that was years ago when just about every other liberal politician had to say that too just to get elected, btw we’ve received more equality in just 7 years under our current president who also evolved on marriage equality.

“Though you don’t hear about it much in the so called liberal media, Trump vows to appoint Supreme Court justices that will overturn marriage equality, says he’s ok with the anti LGBT law in North Carolina & other states, & has selected the countries most hateful anti-LGBT Governor as his running mate.

“Often the younger generations thank Steve & me for helping pave the way for acceptance & equality, as we appreciate & thank the ones that came before us.

“To see you, however inadvertently it might be, help pave the way back to the 50’s is just unfathomable to me, I’m closing in on 60 years old & really don’t want to have to start over from square one.”

#lovetrumpshate Robert Hansen/Steve Schneider, Oakbrook Terrace Illinois

Tomorrow the couple celebrates its third anniversary because they couldn’t get married 27 years ago. Happy anniversary, Bob and Steve!

iowacouple

Notice in the Windy City Times: Bob Hansen (in the purple vest) and Steve Schneider (in the lime/yellow vest) recently wed in Iowa. They described it as being such an amazing and emotional moment, surrounded by family, 23 years (and four months) after meeting as next-door neighbors. They also expressed gratitude for the judges that brought this equality to Iowa and sadness for the judges’ ousters shortly afterwards.

Some of the Hillary-haters may say that LGBT rights mean nothing to them, but a Trump president will cost them in their rights and their bank accounts. Trump’s philosophy is to rip off people and put the money in his pocket. A Trump presidency means no more health care or other safety nets for low-income and middle-class people, far higher taxes for everyone except the wealthy, higher costs for college tuition instead of free higher education for the poor—and a dictatorship because Trump likes “strong leaders.”

A Trump presidency can remove rights for women, minorities, moderate Christians, atheists and agnostics, low- and middle-income people. Only wealthy white men will benefit from a Trump presidency. Electing Trump can cause the death and destruction of World War III if someone makes a rude “gesture.”

In normal times, a vote for third party candidates means supporting the voters’ ideals. In 2016, a vote for a third party candidate means that a president can be elected, like in 2000, who leads the country into unending war and economic depression. England recently voted to follow one of Trump’s ideals—to leave the European Union—because they feared immigrants. The day after that vote, many of them said that they had changed their minds or never even intended to vote for leaving the EU. The country is now considering another vote or a reversal of this one. Voting for Johnson or Stein—or Trump, for that matter—doesn’t leave voters any chance to change their minds. It’s done deal that will truly lead the United States into disaster.

People will be making the most important decision of their lives in the next 46 days. I can only hope that voters use rational thought instead of emotional responses in making this choice.

September 21, 2016

CEO John Stumpf, Candidate Donald Trump Caught Scamming

“Eight rhymes with great.” That’s the reason that Wells Fargo demanded that its employees squeeze eight accounts out of every customer—and the reason that employees were fired if they failed. (Do you have eight bank accounts with your bank of choice?) Then, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) emphatically announced during a Senate hearing, CEO John Stumpf fired employees for “cheating” employees and went off to get hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation. CEO John Stumpf claims that Wells Fargo knew nothing about these scams until the LA Times published information about it in 2013 although it appeared to have started as early as 2011.

The scam came to light when it was discovered that battered employees opened unneeded accounts for customers, ordered them credit cards without their permission, and forged client signatures. Employees begged family members to open ghost accounts and opened duplicate accounts for themselves. A homeless woman was talked into opening six checking and savings accounts with fees of $39 per month. When the forced scams were discovered, Wells Fargo fired 30 workers just in southern California, and other workers were put on leave. A total of 5,300 lower-level employees had to leave Wells Fargo. Senior-level executives kept their jobs.

The purpose of the scam was to drive up stock value, and Wells Fargo reported a $5.6 billion quarterly profit last year in October. The bank averaged 6.15 financial products per household—almost four times the industry average. A former branch manager said that if he didn’t make his goal that he was “severely chastised and embarrassed in front of 60-plus managers in your area by the community banking president.”

Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $185 million in fines but won’t admit wrongdoing. It claims that the company will end its aggressive sales targets in another three months by January 1.

Carrie Tolstedt, the executive in charge of the division causing the problems, retired—instead of being fired—in July with a payout of $100 million and the hopes that more compensation throughout the coming year. Stumpf said that he talked to her weekly during the three years after the fake accounts were revealed and employees were being fired. Despite the illegal activity, he didn’t fire her because she did well with branding and improving customer loyalty.

Asked if the bank plans to “clawback” compensation for these acts from the top-level bank employees who make millions, Stumpf said that the responsibility lay with the bank’s board. He is the board chairman but said that he could not get involved and doesn’t plan to “prejudice their process.” Also asked how the bank will help customers with damaged credit ratings from the fake accounts or whether the case is one of fraud, Stumpf said that he was not a lawyer, a compensation expert, or a credit consultant. After being a micro-manager for many years, Stumpf now depicts himself as an innocent bystander.

Warren showed 12 transcripts of Wells Fargo earnings in which Stump “personally cited Wells Fargo’s success at cross-selling retail accounts as one of the main reasons to buy more stock in the company.” When Stumpf refused to answer how much his Wells Fargo stock holdings had gained during these three years, she said that his 6.75 million shares had increased by $30 each during that time—more than $200 million in gains from employees forcing customers to each have the “Great Eight” accounts. Much of Stumpf’s increase in wealth came from the creation of 200 million fraudulent accounts. As Warren announced in the hearing, Stumpf is not resigning, not returning any of his earnings from fraudulent actions, and not firing any senior executives.

In chastising Stumpf’s actions, Warren said:

“Here’s what really gets me about this, Mr. Stumpf. If one of your tellers took a handful of $20 bills out of the crash drawer, they’d probably be looking at criminal charges for theft. They could end up in prison. But you squeezed your employees to the breaking point so they would cheat customers and you could drive up the value of your stock and put hundreds of millions of dollars in your own pocket. And when it all blew up, you kept your job, you kept your multi-multimillion-dollar bonuses, and you went on television to blame thousands of $12-an-hour employees who were just trying to meet cross-sell quotas that made you rich.”

In yesterday’s hearing, Warren accused Stumpf of “gutless leadership” and called for his resignation. She also demanded that he return his personal compensation and face criminal investigation. Hillary Clinton wrote, “We need to make sure that no financial institution is too big to manage. And if any bank can’t be managed effectively, it should be broken up.” According to Democratic legislators, Wells Fargo and Stumpf highlight the reason for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that GOP leaders want to dismantle.

Senate Republicans, especially those up for re-election, didn’t defend Stumpf’s wrongdoing. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) called it “fraud,” but last year he fought to eliminate the CFPB. Republicans claim that Stumpf is an example of their belief that regulations don’t do any good.

Stumpf’s tentacles go much farther than just Wells Fargo: he serves on the Federal Advisory Council, 12 bankers who guide the Federal Reserve’s board members on U.S. financial policy and act as the nation’s leading bank regulator.

Donald Trump has said nothing about John Strumpf; he has his own fraud issues. Weeks ago, a few media sources published information about the illegal campaign donation from Trump’s charitable foundation, totally composed of other people’s money, to keep the fraudulent Trump University from being investigated in Florida. More recently, Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold revealed much greater wrongdoing. Using the Trump Foundation as his personal slush fund, Trump took $258,000 to again benefit himself, this time to pay his businesses’ fines. Jeffrey Tenenbaum, who advises charities at the Venable law firm in Washington, said, “I represent 700 nonprofits a year, and I’ve never encountered anything so brazen.” Trump has been known to say, “There’s nothing like doing things with other people’s money.”

GOP VP candidate, Mike Pence, attempted to defend his new boss. After the Trump campaign accused the article about the “slush fund” of being “peppered with inaccuracies,” MSNBC Brian Williams asked Pence what they were. Pence couldn’t identify any. The campaign staff couldn’t name any specific “inaccuracies” either.

GuideStar, an organization that tracks nonprofits, compared the foundations connected with the presidential candidates and found that the Clinton Foundation is he more transparent of the two. It tracks the Foundation’s philanthropic programs to determine the number of people benefitting, such as women getting job training. The Trump Foundation has no such tracking; the report said that it would “appear to indicate an unfocused generosity.” The Clintons also most likely donated more money to charity than the Trumps—who haven’t donated more than $10,000 in the past several years. But no one knows for sure because Donald Trump refuses to release his tax returns.

Asked about their candidate’s use of a charitable foundation to illegally satisfy his personal needs, House Republicans who skewered the Clinton Foundation either said that they hadn’t heard anything about problems with the Trump Foundation or that the conservative Washington Post is a Democratic propaganda machine. Once again, Clinton is judged by a different standard as the Clinton Foundation, which has not been found of any wrongdoing, is used against her, and the illegal activities of the Trump Foundation are ignored by millions of people.

September 20, 2016

Kaepernick Starts New Movement, Creates Dialog about Entitlement

I hate writing headlines. Long ago, as a journalism teacher, I learned that they needed verbs and should never use a form of the verb “to be.” But how to encapsulate almost 1,500 words into fewer than ten–almost impossible for me. This blog is about racism, sexism, peaceful protest, white entitlement, a new movement–and more. Here goes!

Colin Kaepernick has started a movement. In only three weeks since the San Francisco 49ers quarterback sat during the playing of the national anthem before a football game, professional athletes have been joined by athletes in colleges, high schools, and youth leagues throughout the nation to protest against the injustice for people of color and LGBT people in the United States. Instead of remaining seated, however, protesters are kneeling to show respect for the anthem and military while drawing attention to racial inequality and police brutality. The photo below is of Kaepernick and Eric Reid before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte (NC).

colin-kaepernick

The most recent protest came from four players on the Philadelphia Eagles who raised their fists during the anthem after Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man with raised hands, was shot and killed by Tulsa (OK) police officers. At least 15 black men have been killed by police since Kaepernick began his protest on August 26.

Death threats have been sent to youth as young as 11 years old, and professional players have lost endorsements. Ohio’s high school athlete, Rodney Axson, decided to join the protest after he heard his teammates refer to players on the opposing team with the “n-word.” Since then, he has been the brunt of this term as well as a message that reads “Lets Lynch Ni—gers.” The school now plays the anthem while the team remains in the locker room. The same thing happened after lesbian Megan Rapinoe, Seattle Reign’s professional soccer star, knelt during the national anthem.

Lincoln (NE) Southeast High School student Sterling Smith explained his kneeling:

“I’ve learned that walking in the ‘wrong neighborhood’ past 10:00 o’clock wearing colored skin can get you questioned by the police because you clearly have ulterior motives. I’ve learned that blatant racism is only humor and that I need to ‘not take it so seriously.’ I’ve learned that going to a store will get you followed by employees because obviously your intentions are to steal.”

Donald Trump led the hatred toward a man who conservatives call “unpatriotic,” and NFL executives have unleashed their anger, one of them going as far as to call him a “traitor.” The flag is sacred to these people while women are disposable as shown by Darren Sharper’s nomination to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Less a month ago, he was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison as a serial rapist after pleading guilty in May 2015 for drugging and raping women in four different states as well as pleading guilty or no contest to rape or attempted rape charges involving nine women. Sharper also has other pending cases, including those in state courts. Asked about the nomination, a Hall of Fame said that it’s not about “character.” And Sharper always stood for the national anthem.

David Brooks’ column criticizing athletes for kneeling in protest goes beyond absurd as he revises history to persuade athletes to stand instead of kneel. He describes America’s “civil religion” in 1776 being based on the “moral premise—that all men are created equal.” The omission of women is correct because women still aren’t equal, but the only “equal” men in 1776 were the white landowners. Blacks were considered three-fifths of the other white men as determined in the U.S. Constitution and white men who didn’t own property couldn’t vote. An attempted justification for the clause (Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution of 1787) explains that only enslaved blacks were three-fifths of white people, but this clause remained in the U.S. Constitution until the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments passed almost 100 years later after the Civil War.

Brooks continues his history piece by explaining that this “promised land” is “a place where your family or country of origin would have no bearing on your opportunities.” The entitled white man producing this elegant rhetoric couldn’t be more wrong, and the facts are the reason behind the protests. Yet Brooks attempts to educate protesters that their belief comes from colleges’ not requiring U.S. history—the same high school class that has been co-opted by revisionist historians who want to conceal any bigotry or genocide in our “promised land.”

Another criticism from Brooks is that the number of people in the U.S. who feel “extremely proud” of the nation has fallen since 2003. That was the year of George W. Bush’s preemptive war on Iraq and the acceleration to move the country’s assets from the poor and middle-class workers to the wealthy coupon-clippers. One issue in which he might be right is that “we have a crisis of solidarity.” Unlike Brooks’ impression that the “solidarity” can come from standing instead of kneeling during the national anthem, however, it could come from a cultural shift away from Brooks white entitlement encouraged by Donald Trump’s support of white supremacy.

Missing from Brooks’ pap is that the protest comes from the verse of the anthem that “celebrates the killing of freed slaves who fought against a U.S. government that had kept them in bondage,” as journalist Adam Johnson wrote. Johnson also pointed out that the NFL started the standing for the national anthem in 2009 as the NFL got much more money from the Defense Department instead of being “passed down generation after generation,” as Brooks claims in his column.

Jim Aloisi wrote this statement—and much more—about David Brooks’ column:

“We don’t need the salve of fiction or myth to bring us together as Americans. What we need is a good dose of honesty about our past and our present, an honest conversation leavened and facilitated by civility. The last thing we need is repression of deeply felt emotions that lead to the kind of silent statements being made on sports fields across the nation. If Americans stand in solidarity for anything, it ought to be respect for the exercise of free speech and expression. In this instance, respect for the exercise of that freedom ought to be joined by a candid respect for our history, and a frank acknowledgment of conditions that today still cause many of our citizens to be treated unequally. If we get that right, solidarity will follow.”

Other white conservatives also trash Kaepernick. Columnist Jonah Goldberg thinks that politics has no place in sports. Wayne Newton said that Kaepernick should “get the hell out” if he doesn’t like racism. Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh, and others claim that Kaepernick’s wealth takes away his right to protest racism. People angry about street violence in protest to racial inequality also oppose peaceful protests.

Some treat the protest as an isolated event in sports, but Leonard Pitts wrote about Jackie Robinson long ago writing, “I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world.” As Pitts wrote, protest in the United States “is an act of faith, an expression of the belief that a country founded on that great, self-evident truth can do—and be—better.”

The biggest accusation toward Kaepernick is that he is “un-American” for his actions—always a device to shut people up. (Think of Sen. Joe McCarthy’s committee on “Un-American Activities.”) Calling Kaepernick “a noble and courageous man,” Harry Belafonte said:

“To mute the slave has always been to the best interests of the slave owner … When a black voice is raised in protest to oppression, those who are comfortable with our oppression are the first to criticize us for daring to speak out against it.”

The day after Kaepernick made his first statement about his protest, a black GI started #VeteransForKaepernick to answer complaints about the football player’s disrespect of veterans and soldiers. Answers showed their discontent with U.S. actions—police brutality toward black GIs, lack of treatment for those who return home with physical and mental trauma, homeless, lack of jobs, suicide, etc.

Women who want to protest the nomination of Darren Sharper to the Hall of Fame can sign this petition to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell.

September 19, 2016

Media Focuses on Clinton’s Non-Stories, Largely Ignores GOP Zombie Issues

Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s emails are two issues that Republicans refuse to let die, despite tens of investigations into each one that fail to prove anything that the Democratic presidential candidate has done wrong. Today, the Clinton Foundation zombie problems returned when a headline referencing a quote from Bill Clinton read “‘Natural’ For Foundation Donors to Seek Favors.” As usual, the media, determined to make something out of nothing, took this headline out of context from Bill Clinton’s response in an NPR interview:

“It was natural for people who’ve been our political allies and personal friends to call and ask for things. And I trusted the State Department wouldn’t do anything they shouldn’t do.”

Leaked emails show that people aren’t getting the favors that they request, and all the aggressive searching by Hillary haters has found absolutely no “pay for play” from the Clinton Foundation that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

While dwelling on Clinton non-stories, Sunday talk shows ignored the real story about the “pay for play” Trump Foundation already fined for illegal campaign donations to Florida’s AG Pam Bondi in exchange for her dropping an investigation into the fraudulent Trump University. A less biased media would have covered the New York investigation into Trump illegally using the Trump Foundation charity funds to purchase at least one oil painting and one football helmet. Trump has not donated one cent to his “foundation” since 2008 while he gets credit for donating funds that other people gave to his foundation. Instead of reporting on Trump’s “pay for play” violations, the media concentrated on Clinton’s pneumonia diagnosis and Trump’s infomercial on Dr. Oz’s show.

The same media largely ignored Kurt Eichenwald’s detailed cover story in Newsweek which reported that Trump’s business interests “will constantly jeopardize the security of the United States” if Trump wins the presidency and does not sever all connections to the Trump Organization. As Eichenwald wrote, the Trump Organization has been “largely ignored” by media despite its “serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires” in nearly all foreign policy decisions during a Trump presidency. Eichenwald provides information about the Trump Organization’s “deep ties to global financiers, foreign politicians, and even criminals” and “a web of contractual entanglements that could not be just canceled” which could conflict with presidential major national security decisions and negotiations.

GOP members zombies:

Donald Trump desperately wanted to drop the birther issue after claiming for many years that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States. His giant mistake, however was blaming Clinton for initiating the theory. A strategist had suggested that the 2008 Clinton campaign could use the idea that Barack Obama was “not American,” but Clinton immediately quashed it. There’s no fire where Trump is blowing smoke. Yet campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus repeatedly accused Clinton of starting the birther theory on Sunday talk shows.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie went one better. He told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Trump hadn’t said anything about the issue “for a long time.” Fortunately, Tapper, a journalist who believes in telling the truth, reminded Christie that Trump continued birthering for five years after the president released the long-form birth certificate to the public in 2011. A lively exchange of “true” and “not true” ensured followed by Christie saying, “It wasn’t like he was talking about it on a regular basis.” In fact-checking Christie’s claim, the Washington Post wrote:

“This is such bogus spin that we have to wonder how Christie manages to say it with a straight face…. [C]learly Christie is either lying or he is so misinformed that he has no business appearing on television.”

Christie should shift to protecting himself. His involvement in the closure of the George Washington Bridge that created havoc and physical danger to people has returned. While his allies and employees have pled guilty or gone to court in this issue, Christie has stuck to his position that “I had no knowledge or involvement in the planning or execution of this act.” In today’s trial for two of those accused of closing the bridge, both both prosecutors and lawyers for the defendants agree that Christie “knew his close associates were involved in a plan to shut down lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge as it was happening and that the closings were intended to punish a local mayor for declining to support him.”

In 2013, at the time of the event, Christie ridiculed the controversy because his office would never be so petty and partisan. After evidence proved that it was a petty and partisan vendetta, Christie claimed ignorance. The micromanaging governor swore that he had no idea that his top aides used his name to abuse their power. Today Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna has told jurors that David Wildstein and Bill Baroni “bragged” to the governor directly about the scheme to close lanes onto the George Washington Bridge in order to deliberately cripple Fort Lee. The trial is against former top Christie aides Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, but Christie may suffer the fallout, perhaps to the point of being impeached. It already lost him being a potential GOP vice-presidential candidate, and last May, Christie’s approval rating had fallen to 29 percent.

Dick Cheney, another zombie, has come to life in the body of GOP vice-presidential candidate, Mike Pence who said that his role model is the vice-president who put the United States into the preemptive war with Iraq costing the country millions of jobs and trillions of dollars. Cheney’s career as VP was a time of incompetence, lies, opaque ruling, scandal, missing emails, and deadly bad judgment. When he left office, Cheney’s approval rating was 13 percent, about half Richard Nixon’s support at the height of Watergate. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell called Cheney an “idiot.” If Trump were elected and followed his plans, Pence, who sees himself a Cheney clone, “would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy” while Trump would focus on “making America great again.”

The zombie of Ralph Nadar, which may have led to George W. Bush’s appointment as president in 2000, may have returned in the name of Gary Johnson. A rumor circulated last week that Bill Weld might drop out of the race as Libertarian vice-presidential candidate because he didn’t want to be another Nadar. “No chance,” says Gary Johnson, top of the Libertarian ticket. Polling at 9 percent, Johnson is far away from the 15-percent threshold for participating in a presidential candidate debate, an advantage for him because he doesn’t interview well and might lose votes in a debate. Asked on public radio whether he was worried about votes for him leading to Trump as a president, he responded that he didn’t care and that it wouldn’t be his problem.

A pattern in GOP campaigning is to have one message in English and a different one in Spanish. For example, during his successful Nevada senatorial run in 2012, Dean Heller put his hardline immigration policy into English with a softer approach in Spanish. Another shift came from the GOP response to the State of the Union address last year when the Spanish version supported immigration reform—opposite to the message in English. This last spring, Kansas printed the wrong voter registration deadline, six days after the deadline, in the Spanish version and omitted the use of a passport for identification.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) brought this zombie to life in his struggling re-election. In Spanish, McCain brags about seeking comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for children brought illegally to the United States; the English skips over these policies and draws an image of McCain as hardcore immigration control. After this “translation” was questioned, a campaign spokesperson said that the website versions were “never intended to be identical.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocking the budget bill has aroused the zombie of shutting down the government. Congress has only 11 more days—two “working weeks” before a the government closes down, but McConnell “delayed” a procedural vote until 2:15 pm tomorrow. At least the bill may allow Puerto Rico’s Planned Parenthood clinic to access federal grants to fight the Zika virus, a provision that had held up the bill for several months. In his arrogant manner, McConnell said that “Senate Republicans stand ready to move forward” and wants Democrats to “complete negotiations,” something that they have been willing to do for some time.

Asked about the agreement, Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “Close is relative.” The Dems also want funding for the Flint (MI) water crisis to be in the mix, something the GOP turns down.

Ideally two weeks is enough time, but the bill must be sent to the House, returned, and then reconciled while ultra-conservatives in that chamber demand itty-bitty budget bills instead of an omnibus which go into next year instead of being a stopgap that returns—in zombie fashion—on December 9 this year.

Just a few zombies from people who ignore history.

September 15, 2016

Trump Loses with Blacks, Women

Donald Trump’s appearance at a black church in Flint (MI) yesterday drew a great deal of attention—but what’s new about that! The series of events:

  • After Trump gave Flint’s mayor Karen Weaver only one day notice that he planned to tour the closed water treatment plant because of the lead, she said it was not a good time because the city was still trying to deal with the problems. She was also out of town trying to get help from Congress after the total disaster that Michigan’s businessman turned governor had caused.
  • Trump went anyway, giving his usual “Hillary hate” trash talk in a black church.
  • The pastor of the church, Rev. Faith Green-Timmons, gently stopped him by saying, “Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we’ve done for Flint, not to give a political speech,”
  • Trump said, “Oh, oh, OK, OK, OK. That’s good. Then I’m going to go back onto Flint, OK.” The pastor also stopped the heckling from his audience who were bringing up specific examples of Trump’s racial discrimination in housing and employment. Green-Timmons said that Trump “is a guest in my church and you will respect him.”

trump-timmons

A video shows Green-Timmons’ graciousness and Trump’s obsequiousness. Yet Trump lied about the event on Fox and Friends this morning, describing Timmons as being a “nervous mess” and the audience as shouting “Let him speak, let him speak.” He also claimed that Timmons had planned to ambush him.

Yesterday the Senate voted 94-3 to end debate on a bill that includes $220 million in emergency assistance for communities such as Flint as well as $4.9 billion over five years to repair systems related to drinking water. They also voted 85-12 to waive a budget rule complicating the Flint funding that would take money from the Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program.

The problem now is the House. It has been suggested that Trump would better spend his time by calling his “friend” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to ask for this bill to be passed in that chamber. At this time, the House waterways bill doesn’t have Flint funding.

Former Michigan epidemiologist Corinne Miller has pled guilty to not reporting to the public dozens of Legionnaires’ disease at the same time that Flint changed its water source, also the cause of the high lead content in the drinking water. The water may have caused at least 91 Legionnaires’ cases, including 12 deaths. The plea deal of no contest on Wednesday to a misdemeanor of willful neglect of duty led to dismissal of felony misconduct and conspiracy charges. Eight people have been charged in the water crisis.

The day before his appearance in Flint, Trump opened up another can of worms showing his sexism. With the help of his daughter Ivanka, the GOP presidential candidate tried to woo women voters with vague promises of “maternity leave” and funding for child care. After people recovered that surprise that a Republican would endorse this action, they learned that his suggestions are not as generous as he promised. His programs favor the rich and target “well-off white women,” according to journalist Joan Walsh.

Trump introduced his program by saying in a high-pitched tone that his daughter told him, “Daddy, Daddy, we have to do this.” Ivanka Trump is under the impression that child care is a brand new idea in the United States, indicating that she hasn’t done her homework. Universal child care existed in the nation from 1943 to 1946 but disappeared until Congress passed a bill in 1971 that GOP President Richard Nixon vetoed.

A 1990 law to help subsidize child care failed during the early 21st century when GOP George W. Bush reduced its funding. Even if Republicans are willing to support child care—unlikely because they think that this increases the “nanny state”—they are always unwilling to pay for it. Parental leave has also been an issue for over two decades—always quashed by the GOP.

In Trump’s plan, “maternity leave”(not parental leave) is only for six weeks, only for women, and only through already cash-strapped unemployment insurance, thereby helping women only in the states where legislatures opt in and providing much less than most women’s salaries. Trump’s plan also requires women to quit their jobs for the “maternity leave” because of unemployment insurance guidelines.

Although Trump uses the term “tax credit” when discussing his policy, the policy on his website indicates that it is a “tax deduction,” a far different proposal. Credit means that people will get the full amount back. Salaries of the working poor are so low that they don’t itemize deductions, leaving them with nothing whereas the wealthy can deduct expensive nannies and private day-care facilities and get 15 to 30 percent return. Trump’s plan would also give stay-at-home mothers credits even if they didn’t need child care to have jobs.

An irony of Trump’s speech is that his business provides neither maternity nor child care. Although Trump and his daughter claimed that he did provide the latter, it was only for wealthy Trump hotel guests. The claim that Hillary Clinton has never had either a “maternity leave” or child care policy and “never will” is also a lie. The only maternity leave provided for Trump employees is the federally-mandated 12-week unpaid leave. Yesterday in a discussion on public radio, Trump’s economic advisor Steven Moore stated that people shouldn’t have children if they can’t afford them.

In the past, Trump has found pregnant women and mothers of newborns “an inconvenience” and more. He said that pregnancy is “an inconvenience for business” because employers get only 84% of their working moms’ brains, according to Trump. He added that women “should” feel like they will be replaced if they do not return to work quickly even if they will not necessarily be replaced. Trump also called an attorney “disgusting” when she needed a break from a deposition to pump breast milk and that working women are bad for marriages. Confronted by Trump’s statements about women in an interview with Cosmopolitan, Ivanka Trump complained about “a lot of negativity in these questions” and cut the interview short.

In contrast to Trump’s proposals, Clinton’s plan provides a paid 12-week “family leave” for fathers and family members caring for a sick relative. The costs would be covered by higher taxes on the wealthy—such as Donald Trump and his family members. Other Clinton suggestions include a wide variety of child-care and preschool programs with costs capped for the middle class at ten percent of their salaries.

No plan can be carried out without congressional legislation. Yet Trump’s plan is regressive and sexist, perhaps because his look on life is regressive and sexist. This is his perspective on men rearing their children:

“I won’t do anything to take care of [my children]. I’ll supply funds and she’ll take care of the kids. It’s not like I’m gonna be walking the kids down Central Park.”

The term “maternity leave” not only goes beyond outmoded language, but also its limits to females hold back women, lowering their wages and reducing their hiring. These policies also discriminate against men in gay couples, other men who want to take an active part in rearing newborns, and adoptive individuals and couples.

Basically, Trump is losing white college-educated women who have voted Republican, and he wants them back.

Even with the undesirability of Trump’s plan, Republicans are criticizing Trump’s plan as “an enormous new entitlement that will blow the debt,” as conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote. He further complained about “the government stepping in and telling private industry what to do.”

Be careful of all those headlines and lead paragraphs that Trump has finally admitted that Barack Obama was born in the United States. He still refuses to say those words although his campaign leaders and surrogates are swearing that this is what he believes. Asked if his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, is right when she says he has reversed his almost decade-long position that the president was born outside the U.S., Trump said, “It’s okay. She’s allowed to speak what she thinks. I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on other things.” Before that, Trump had said, “I’ll answer that question at the right time. I just don’t want to answer it yet.”

Trump still hasn’t said that he believes President Obama meets the constitutional requirements to hold the office where he has been for almost two terms. I’m still waiting for Trump to answer the question.

[Update: Trump finally actually said the words! Late yesterday, he said, “President Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.” Trump is still falsely claiming that Hillary Clinton started the birther rumor that he pushed for the past eight years.]

September 13, 2016

Media, Trump Attack Clinton for Illness, ‘Deplorable’ Description

 

When rumors circulated that Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) had died, the great writer responded, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” The same thing can be said by Hillary Clinton although right-wing conspiracy theorists won’t believe it.

“A video clip of WABC-TV Channel 7 ‘Eyewitness News’ in New York City opened [last Sunday night] with Anchorman Joe Torre saying ‘more on Hillary Clinton’s Death.’ The opening line, however, seems edited-OUT of the video archive!”

[Spoiler alert: Clinton is alive and well and going back on the campaign trail in two days.] The above lede published on a far-right conspiracy website was followed by the myths that the woman pictured in the clips following Clinton’s health episode at the 9/11 memorial was thinner, walked differently, and carried her handbag over her right shoulder. The writer claimed that the fingers were of different lengths and the wedding rings were different in the compared Clinton photos. And even more from the writer! Chelsea Clinton’s home was formerly a New York state hospital which contributes to the conspiracy theory that the Clinton Foundation is providing a private hospice for Hillary Clinton in the same building where her daughter lives.

Except the far-right has been punked. Teresa Barnwell, who has been impersonating Clinton since the 1990s, tweeted a photo that she had taken weeks earlier outside Chelsea Clinton’s building with the caption, “Maybe I was in NYC today…you never know!” Too much unwanted attention led her to delete it. Barnwell wasn’t in New York on Sunday. She said about her impersonation, “It was a lot more fun in the ’90s. People had a sense of humor no matter what their political affiliation.”

Donald Trump avoided the military because he had bone spurs on his heels while his supporters attack Hillary Clinton for powering through a case of pneumonia. As Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote, “It’s what women do” and cites examples. Diagnosed with pneumonia, Clinton attended events and campaigning for the next day, culminating in her feeling faint on Sunday when she attended the 9/11 memorial. Instead of obsessing about Clinton feeling faint, the media should praise her for continuing to do her work despite the heat, humidity, and pneumonia. Meanwhile, voters are waiting for Trump’s health record, and some people are wondering about the identity and credentials of his new doctor considering the ridiculous letter of opinion from his last one.

Dr. Oz” will “analyze” the results on his Thursday show. The doctor/entertainer will most likely present Trump as very healthy, no matter what the test results, because of his reputation for “unorthodox” claims that his show resembles an infomercial for fads. For example, he was required to testify before a Senate subcommittee claiming that “the No. 1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat [is] raspberry ketones.” Canadian fact-checkers found that half the claims are supported with evidence. Oz made news in the media after he false announced that several brands of apple juice had high levels of arsenic following improper testing. Although Oz’s claim was disproved, the warning is still circulating the internet.

After ten physicians asked Columbia University to cut ties with Dr. Mehmet Oz, he defended himself by saying that his program is actually “not a medical show” and will no longer use terms such as “miracle.” His major defense of his debunked claims, however, is “freedom of speech.” One of Oz’s colleagues, Dr. Henry I. Miller at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, said that the medical community general  regards Oz “as a fraud, charlatan, and huckster, interested only in what benefits him financially.” Trump’s appearance with Dr. Oz brings up the old saying, “Birds of a feather ….”

Asked about the interview with Trump on the television show, Oz said:

“It’s his decision. You know, I–the metaphor for me is it’s the doctor’s office, the studio. So I’m not going to ask him questions he doesn’t want to have answered.”

Legendary entertainer Cher responded, “Why is Dr. Oz letting Trump pimp him out!?”

Clinton also got bad press by saying that half of Trump’s supporters are “deplorable” so she apologized:

“I regret saying ‘half’–that was wrong. But let’s be clear, what’s really ‘deplorable’ is that Donald Trump hired a major advocate for the so-called ‘alt-right’ movement to run his campaign and that David Duke and other white supremacists see him as a champion of their values. It’s deplorable that Trump has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices, including by retweeting fringe bigots with a few dozen followers and spreading their message to 11 million people. It’s deplorable that he’s attacked a federal judge for his ‘Mexican heritage,’ bullied a Gold Star family because of their Muslim faith, and promoted the lie that our first black president is not a true American. So I won’t stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign. I also meant what I said last night about empathy, and the very real challenges we face as a country where so many people have been left out and left behind. As I said, many of Trump’s supporters are hard-working Americans who just don’t feel like the economy or our political system are working for them.  I’m determined to bring our country together and make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top. Because we really are ‘stronger together.’ “

Trump supporters and the media are shocked—shocked! I say—that Hillary Clinton would describe his supporters as “deplorable.” Slate’s chief political correspondent, Jamelle Bouie, put Clinton’s original remarks into perspective: “If you break down the numbers and you look at the RealClearPolitics average, and it gives Trump, 43 percent of the registered voters, they’re about 30, 31 million people.” Half would be about 15 million people.

Polls showing percentages of Trump’s attitudes toward Muslims, Mexican immigrants, blacks, and LGBT people within members of the GOP indicate that Clinton may have been right:

Birtherism: 72 percent of registered Republicans still question that President Obama was born in the United States, and both VP candidate Mike Pence and Trump refuse to come out against birtherism. Both of them just say, “I don’t talk about that issue.” Trump’s surrogates claim that Trump has gotten over that conspiracy theory, but he will not personally admit it.

Muslim ban: 84 percent of Trump supports want to ban Muslims from the United States.

Islam: 58 percent of Trump supporters said they have “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” views of Islam.

Immigrants: 70 percent of Republicans agree with Trump’s statements about Mexican immigrants being “rapists” who are “bringing crime” and “bringing drugs” to the U.S. Half of Trump supporters connect more undocumented immigrants to crime than U.S. citizens.

Trump’s judge: 43 percent of Republicans agreed with Trump that he should complain about his judge being “Mexican”—although the judge is from Illinois.

Building “the wall”: 73 percent of Republicans support building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Blacks: 40 to 50 percent of Trump supporters hold at least one of these negative views about blacks: less intelligent, more lazy, more rude, more violent, and more criminal.

LGBT rights: 67 percent of Republicans oppose marriage equality. 82 percent of Republicans support laws preventing people from using facilities matching their gender identities. In the category of job discrimination, only 33 percent of Republicans oppose laws prohibiting LGBT discrimination in jobs, housing, and public accommodation—but that poll was last February, before the “potty police” invaded the country.

Trump calls his supporters “patriotic,” but polls show a vastly increased popularity of Vladimir Putin since Trump’s vocal support for the Russian leader. Although there is no good polling on views about gender, Trump’s supporters cheer all his sexist remarks.

As usual, Trump and the media have judged Clinton on a much higher curve than Donald Trump. Charles Pierce wrote:

“In between her initial diagnosis and the disclosure, Clinton appeared at two fundraisers, ran a two-hour national security meeting, did a press event, sat down for an interview with CNN, and attended a memorial service for America’s fallen heroes. Everybody gets sick, but not everybody shows up for work—especially highly stressful work—day in and day out. She does.”

While Trump lambasts Clinton for her “deplorable” statement, people forget that Trump told Sean Hannity’s viewers last June that 50 percent of the population has to “carry” the other 50 percent.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJhsWT-MAN4    Just six months earlier, he said that Mitt Romney should have not apologized by saying that 47 percent of the people in the U.S. will vote for President Obama because he gives them things because Romney was correct.

Donald Trump tells so many lies and makes so many outrageous comments that he’s desensitized the media. Instead, they turn on Hillary Clinton when she makes one statement that they find offensive. People–and the most of the media–even ignore Trump when he promises to start World War III if Iranians make rude “gestures” from their “little bug boats.” That was just before he called Clinton “trigger-happy.”

September 11, 2016

Sad Hypocrisy of 9/11, Evangelical Christians

On the 15th anniversary of 9/11, Christine Todd Whitman, George W. Bush’s head of the EPA at that time, has finally admitted that she was wrong about the air around Ground Zero being just fine following the attacks. She finally said that she was “very sorry” that people are sick and some have died, but she gets upset because people blame her. Over 37,000 people registered with the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) are declared sick, many with respiratory illnesses and/or cancer. Over 1,100 people covered by  WTCHP have died. Whitman had said that air in any areas other than the place of the attack did “not pose a public health hazard.”

GOP legislators also felt the need to comment about the need to “never forget” before they left town for a long weekend with the usual comments about the “heroism of our response” (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY), the need to help people understand the sacrifices made (House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI), etc. They also failed to lead Congress in a new 9/11 health and compensation law—never even signed on as sponsors–and instead used it as blackmail to lift an oil export ban. In talking about “sacrifices,” Ryan also commented that he had to drive home to Wisconsin because he couldn’t get a flight.

McConnell managed two anti-Obama care votes this week, but thousands of babies will be born with birth defects, thanks to the GOP failure to push Zika virus funding; residents of Flint (MI) and probably other cities will continue to be poisoned with lead in its water systems, thanks to any congressional action; the Supreme Court will have only eight justices, thanks to the Senate’s intransigence; etc.

Trump scammed the government for $150,000 in 9/11 money by claiming that he helped people after the attacks. Records, however, claimed “rent loss,” “cleanup,” and “repair” that were not allowable under federal gifts. He said that he let people stay free in his building, but that claim didn’t match the reports. He admitted that his property wasn’t affected by the attacks, and there is no evidence of any Trump from charity. He also lied about having “hundreds of friends” die in the attacks and watching “hundreds of Muslims” cheering when the Twin Towers went down.

The Values Voters Summit, hosted by the Family Research Council, met this weekend, and speakers made the same dire warnings of persecution for Christians. American Family Association radio host and government affairs director Sandy Rios failed to explain why people shouldn’t vote for Clinton other than “we can’t even comprehend what life would be like” if Clinton is president. Rios did claim that those who “name the name of Christ will have trouble finding jobs” and people will have to have the “right” opinions to get into college.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) followed up on the persecution threat by saying that he was correct in his prediction that the 2009 Matthew Shepard hate crimes act would persecute Christians. Before its passage he claimed that the law would make the U.S. into Nazi Germany and legalize pedophilia, bestiality, and necrophilia. He had no examples of how the law was “used against Christians” or legalization of sex with children, animals, and dead people. After diagnosing Hillary Clinton as “mentally impaired,” he accused her of planning to “subjugating the U.S. Constitution to Sharia law.” (The purpose of the Values Voters Summit is to “subjugating the U.S. Constitution to Christian law.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) told the Values audience that he was qualified to legislate on abortion because he owned a small business. When an employee tells him that she is pregnant, Scott said, then he takes her to a Christian anti-abortion clinic. Being “in the private sector” make him realize the “importance” of anti-abortion.

Actor Jon Voight gave Trump an outstanding introduction, comparing the GOP presidential candidate to Saint Mother Teresa and Nobel laureate/theologian Albert Schweitzer. The presidential candidate who came in fifth at last year’s Values Voter Summit straw poll showed himself to be the typical reality-show star as he spoke to an audience that chanted “Lock her up!” Trump followed that with a New Testament verse: “No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.”

Trump ridiculed the IRS regulation preventing churches from supporting or opposing candidates to maintain their tax-exempt status but ignored the fact that the law has been effect since 1954 during GOP President Eisenhower’s first term. Trump continued to lie when he declared that “pastors and ministers” cannot “talk about politics” and said that “all religious leaders should be able to freely express their thoughts and feelings on religious matters.” Religious leaders do that weekly if not daily, as proved by the religious leaders who speak at Trump’s rallies and other events.

Same-gender marriage appears to have disappeared from the evangelical radar if former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is any example. At the Summit, the politician who fought bitterly against marriage equality said, “It’s not an issue. In fact, it’s boring.” It appears that the Summit is also “not an issue” and “boring”: The internet has almost nothing about this year’s meeting.

Before cable television was overwhelmed today with Hillary Clinton’s illness, manifested at the 9/11 commemoration this morning, it concentrated on Clinton’s statement that half of Trump’s supporters are in a “basket of deplorable.” She did later apologize for having said this, and many people are saying that she was telling the truth because of a constituency for a racist, homophobic, misogynist, xenophobic candidate.  (I’ll also add arrogant, narcissistic, and bullying, and you may have a few more adjectives.)

Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, defended the GOP candidate at the Summit by saying that they are “hard-working” and “deserve your respect.” Hard-working they may be, but respect is an interesting term for Pence to use when he shows no respect for many of the people in Indiana after he was elected governor when he promoted laws against women’s reproductive rights, LGBT rights, immigrants, raped prisoners, poor people, religious diversity, and people at risk of HIV/AIDS. Pence’s “religious freedom” law in Indiana also permits parents to beat their children with a number of items, including coat hangers and cords. That’s a lot of missing “respect.”

These are a few of the people who Pence wants Clinton to respect:

In Alabama, a Christian pastor told an audience at a McKenzie High School football game that they should be lined up and executed by the military if they don’t stand for the national anthem. The crowd cheered and praised the pastor on Facebook.

In Ohio, a 31-year-old youth pastor sexually abused a teenage member of his church. Church leaders who discovered the abuse told the family not to return to their church until the daughter apologized to the pastor’s wife for being sexually abused.

More examples of evangelical positions:

  • Linking LGBT rights to ISIS.
  • Calling gay rights activists “intolerant,” “hateful,” “vile,” “spiteful” and “pawns” of Satan.
  • Defending Uganda’s “kill-the-gays” bill as a “laudable” effort “to uphold moral conduct.”
  • Accusing President Obama of using the health care reform law for a private army of loyal Brownshirts.
  • Claiming that the president promoted the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood into the U.S. government.
  • Alleging that the health care act will deprive the elderly of life-saving treatments.
  • Insisting that bisexuality means “orgies.”
  • Believing that public school officials are getting “condom profits” from opposing abstinence-only programs.
  • Tying same-gender marriage to failing public schools.
  • Blaming President Obama for “orchestrating” protests in Ferguson (MO) to exacerbate racial tensions.
  • Suggesting that the president is having a secret gay affair.
  • Comparing people who want Confederate symbols removed from government property to ISIS terrorists.
  • Stating that blacks abused during the Jim Crow era are “singing and happy.”
  • Calling an Islamic community center a “den of iniquity.”
  • Asserting that the U.S. government is working with drug gangs and Islamic militant to create turmoil and disorder.
  • Blaming the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal on the inclusion of women in the military.
  • Fearing that the government will use the military to persecute LGBT rights opponents and murder Christians.
  • Maintaining that the president will fake an assassination attempt or “intentionally” spark an Israeli-Irnaian war to “take control of the radio, TV, and internet” and “start usurping all kinds of power.”
  • Insisting that “78 to 81” House Democrats “are members of the Communist Party” and that President Obama uses Soviet messaging.
  • Positing that the president is waging “biological warfare” against Americans through enterovirus D68 or the Ebola virus.
  • Comparing Social Security to slavery.
  • Blaming football injuries on the separation of church and state.
  • Heralding Donald Trump as God’s choice to win the election.
  • And much more!

Pence wants people to respect all the people who want to kill people for thinking for themselves, who have diverse beliefs and religions, rape with impunity, and struggle to take away the rights of everyone except evangelical Christians.

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