Nel's New Day

July 30, 2016

The Bernie Entitlement Disease

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 9:08 PM
Tags: , ,

There’s a disorder sweeping across the nation within the past few months–Bernie entitlement. Its symptoms are “I support Bernie; therefore you owe me, and if you don’t let me get my way, I’ll make you and the entire country pay.” The problem went viral after Bernie Sanders dropped his campaign and endorsed Hillary Clinton. Not all Bernie supporters suffer from this syndrome, but the media loves to concentrate on those who have this illness. Talking to Bernie supporters who plan to vote for Hillary Clinton isn’t nearly as much fun for journalists as listening to those who oppose Hillary.

Evidence of this infirmity appeared at the recent Democratic convention. Far beyond the shouting and heckling during every speech, including the one given by First Lady Michelle Obama, was a fart-in created by Bernie supporters eating lots of bean. the decision to eat lots of beans so that Bernie supporters would fart. Not all Bernie supporters follow the same pattern as those below: the reference is to those who remain obstructionists as in this a link.

This is my response to the vocal minority of Bernie supporters who think that they can carry on their revolution by trashing Hillary Clinton.

Bernie brought in followers, many of them unregistered voters, with his charisma, promises, and generalities. He said his ideas would raise taxes by $15 trillion over ten years, but the cost of the health care plan alone is over $30 trillion. Even the economist who originally analyzed Bernie’s plans had to admit that he was originally wrong about the cost because of “faulty math.” The doubled deficit in a decade would cause higher interest rates and government borrowing costs that slow economic growth. Higher taxes to slow the deficit rate would fall on the middle class and poor. As Bill Maher said to Bernie, “[Universal health care] couldn’t even work in your home state of Vermont!” Bernie had no answer.

Hillary agrees that people need relief in health care, and it’s one piece of her vision. Unfortunately, Bernie supporters just say that she doesn’t mean it because she lies. Yet statistics show that the two Democratic candidates lie at the same rate–20 percent–compared to 80 percent lying for Trump.

This statement from the Bernie supporter is an outright falsehood: “We understand that while the candidates differ in significant ways, both Clinton and Trump offer unthinkable options whether cutting services, limiting our rights, and inciting hatred or promoting an increasingly pro-corporate agenda, destroying our planet, or sending our children to endless war.” Both Bernie and Trump supporters operate on “feelings” and not facts about Hillary’s past. When she took money from Wall Street, she gave much of it to Democratic candidates to help their campaigns. Bernie kept his $200 million for himself.

The GOP and Trump support unlimited gun ownership, sexual assault, no health care, much lower taxes for the wealthy, no paid family leave, low minimum wages–or perhaps none–rescinding LGBT rights including marriage equality, no abortion or contraception, a police state allowing law enforcement to kill innocent people, World War III if someone annoys Trump, persecution of the disabled, no equal pay for genders, no public education, no protection against climate change and protection of endangered species, fraud in profit-making higher education, no unions, elimination of Social Security and Medicare, no other safety net, oppression of the press, mandatory Christianity, no women’s rights, no relief for college loans–in short, the opposite of Hillary’s position. In addition, he wants to support Russia, North Korea, and other places controlled by totalitarian dictators and give them nuclear weapons.

Bernie supporters use the word “passion” to describe Bernie and accuse Hillary of not being “passionate,” but passion is more than playing the star at huge rallies. Hillary hasn’t stopped working for human rights since she was a teenager.

Listing all Hillary’s accomplishments would take too long here. Listing Bernie’s achievements is much easier. He got a lot of young people, many of them not registered voters, excited about the election process. This article shows his accomplishments. He revitalized a city waterfront and opposed TPP, NAFTA, CAFTA, Keystone XL, Patriot Act, and the Iraq War. (Hillary now admits that she was wrong about TPP, Keystone, and the Iraq War.) The claim that he tells the truth puts him on par with Hillary’s truth-telling rating. The legislation he’s passed in his 20 years in Congress is listed here. But what he’s done doesn’t matter: his campaign achieved its goal–to move Hillary toward the left. Yet like Hillary Bernie has made mistakes, and Bernie supporters need to accept that Hillary will do the best job she can to benefit the people.

Bernie supports are right that Hillary is “disliked” because people, including Bernie’s followers, pass along false propaganda that the conservative mainstream media has propagated for the past three decades. Those who put a high priority on likability need to consider George W. Bush, an extremely likable man, and look at what he did to the country. Likability is for high school prom royalty.

The ten percent of Bernie voters who say they cannot vote for Hillary also say that it’s okay if the country blows up. The others who are still smearing Hillary are achieving the same ends. Instead of blowing up the nation, they might move to Somalia and leave the United States to people who want to preserve the nation.

I agree that many people are struggling, and don’t see the country getting ahead because that’s their situation. Hillary is aware of these problems, which is why she supports higher minimum wages, unions, equal pay for women, paid and medical leave, and other benefits to help struggling people.

Bernie supporters also complain that “our hard work [for Bernie’s campaign] doesn’t matter.” They worked for less than a year and expect to get everything they want. Life doesn’t work that way. If they really want to change things, they need to cheerfully work for Hillary and struggle to make the changes that they want.

They also think that we have the hard times now are unique. When I was 26 years old, a teacher and new mother, I worked two different jobs–one full-time as a high school teacher and the other as an adjunct teacher at a junior college. I worked at a 7-11 market in the summer to make ends meet, and my husband worked full time. I was much luckier than the people who lived during the Great Depression of the 1930s. People angry about inequality should look at the massive costs to the nation by George W. Bush’s huge tax cuts and wars and blame GOP leaders who pass laws giving the country’s assets to the wealthiest and then rig the voting system through gerrymandering and voter restrictions so that the practice continues.

Like Trump supporters, Bernie supporters operate on feelings and not facts. They provide no evidence about which lies the media told or how it suppressed the vote. Bernie supporters complain about all the lies the Hillary told about Bernie, but Politifact records that each one lied about the opponent only three times. References about how the Clinton campaign infiltrated a Sanders network are not well substantiated, but the Sanders campaign took information about the Clinton campaign from the DNC last year.

Like Bernie supporters, I’m furious about Arizona and New York denying votes, but Republicans were responsible. I’m even more furious that almost every red state denies people the vote–which is not mentioned in the writer’s statement. The trashing of votes in California is inexcusable, but it would not have changed the outcome: Hillary won by over 3 million votes. The same thing happened to Arizona ballots in the last presidential election as well as in other states. The media did create the Trump monster, but that’s not Hillary’s fault. Changing the system requires more than angry ranting at Hillary.

I, too, don’t like some of Hillary’s positions, specifically her strong support of military and Israel, but she succeeded in brokering peace between Israel and Palestine if only for a short time. Opposing some of her positions won’t make me oppose her election.

Bernie created his following by with the positions that all other candidates are evil and corrupt and that he is the only ideologically pure person. His absolutism, both moral and political, attracts the same people who followed Ayn Rand’s philosophy, such as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Congressional gridlock was caused when the Tea Party refused to compromise, the same position that Bernie supporters have. Everyone has complained about the congressional gridlock since the Tea Party co-opted Congress, a gridlock caused by lack of compromise. That’s where Bernie’s supporters are at this time.

This year’s presidential candidate campaign had three positions: fear, idealism, and pragmatism. People could select on the basis of primal reactions from the lizard brain, belief in something with no evidence, or an approach that has the best chance of getting results. Hillary wants a lot of the same things that Bernie does, but many of his supporters are not satisfied and they would rather go with the GOP lizard brain.

I understand the grief that Bernie supporters are feeling. It’s like the loss of a lover. But destroying the country that Bernie cares about doesn’t bring his campaign back to life. People who really care about the country and not just themselves and Bernie Sanders should do everything they can to elect Hillary Clinton and then continue with Bernie’s ideals. People who give up after less than a year are quitters.

People need to look at both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders realistically. Neither one is perfect, but they’re both good people. Hillary won, and it’s time to move forward. Bernie supporters have said that Hillary needs to work to persuade them that they should vote for her. It’s really their own job to look into Hillary’s positions to see if she really is exactly the same as Donald Trump.

If people continue to smear Hillary and/or vote for Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Donald Trump, or–worse yet for democracy–not at all, we have a great chance of the lizard brain running the United States and destroying the country. People also need to consider these three words–Supreme Court justices. The decision that voters make in November 2016 is not for the next four years. It determines the future for everyone on this planet.

[Note: once again, I’m not talking about all Bernie supporters–just the ones who don’t care whether Donald Trump wins the upcoming election. I’m grateful for those who have are now supporting Hillary and hope that more of them will understand the high stakes of this year’s election.]

 

July 29, 2016

Republicans’ ‘Feelings’ Avoid Facts

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 8:52 PM
Tags: , , ,

Republicans don’t believe in facts; they operate on feelings. Knowledge about their philosophy was reinforced at the recent GOP convention when speaker after speaker gave their opinions, contrary to any facts. Afterwards, Newt Gingrich cemented the GOP emphasis of feelings over facts when he tried to prove that crime, at its lowest rate since the 1970s, had vastly increased because people “feel” that way. Here are some recent “feelings” from the GOP:

The North Carolina GOP “felt”—and wrote—that “[Tim] Kaine wears a Honduras flag pin on his jacket but no American flag. Shameful.”  The pin, a single blue star on a white background with red stripes, is a symbol for “Blue Star Families,” those with loved ones deployed out of the U.S. Kaine’s son, Nathaniel, is a Marine lieutenant. For the uninitiated, the Honduran flag, adopted in 1866, is two light blue bars with a center white bar containing five blue stars. A variant version has the country’s coat of arms above an arc of five stars in the white band. The NCGOP corrected the mistake but did not apologize to Kaine for its accusation.

Trump’s acceptance speech, full of “feelings” and “misrepresentations,” received the lowest positive score Gallup has ever found: 35 percent of respondents said it was excellent or good. Among independents, 40 percent said it was poor or terrible. The convention made 51 percent of people less likely to vote for Trump while 36 percent said “more likely”—the highest “less likely in the last 15 times Gallup asked the question. Trump also received no “bounce” in the polls from the convention. Trump also asked his followers to not watch Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech. Conservative pundits, however, “felt” that the Trump’s speech was a success.

Clinton gets a bad rap for the money she was paid by Wall Street, money that largely went on to elect Democrats. There’s no question how much Clinton brought in and what she did with it because the last 15 years of Clinton taxes are on her website. Republicans, however, do not “feel” concern because Trump refuses his tax returns, perhaps “feeling” that he’s telling the truth in his lie that he can’t make them public because he’s being audited. Records do show that he paid absolutely no taxes for at least four of the past 30 years, but he claims that taxes are “none of your business.”

Questions about Trump’s finances include his claims of generosity to charities; conflicts of interest he would have as president, especially after his son declared that Trump owes a large amount of money to Russia, the country that is promoting Trump’s presidency; and campaign contributions from foreign countries because of his solicitations. Foreign involvement in U.S. elections is illegal.   Approached today about his taxes, Trump argued that people might find information that would cause damage to him as a candidate.

People who say they don’t get government aid is also a “feeling”: almost half the people getting this assistance deny that the federal government helps them at all. The poster boy for this “feeling” is actor Craig T. Nelson complained to Glenn Beck about how nobody ever helped him although he said, “I’ve been on food stamps and welfare.” Red states complain bitterly about wanting smaller government and less government aid, but almost all of them put in fewer tax dollars than they get back from the federal government. The blue states are stuck paying for the conservative red states.

Many people believe Trump’s claim that he will create many jobs, yet that “feeling” is belied by an analysis of Trump’s plans—such as they are—showing an economic downturn lasting longer than the Great Recession. Moody also predicts that 3.5 million people would lose their jobs in the U.S. during one term while home prices fall and unemployment, now below five percent, goes up to seven percent. In contrast, Clinton’s key policies would boost the economy and create 10.4 jobs in her four years, and GDP would annually grow from 2.3 percent to 2.7 percent. When George W. Bush left office at the end of 2008, the GDP was -0.92 percent (note the minus sign), yet people “feel” that the country is worse off than when Bush left. Between Bill Clinton’s last year as president and the end of Bush’s first year, the GDP dropped from over 4 percent to one percent. Although it rose somewhat during Bush’s next three years, it began its disastrous drop, leaving President Obama to deal with the Bush recession.

When poor Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) named Sarah Palin as his running partner, conservatives “felt” that she was a good choice, probably because she was attractive. The shine wore off, however after numerous interviews showed her arrogant ignorance. Now millions of conservatives, based on their “feelings,” plan to vote for Trump, who knows less about foreign policy than Palin does, if Nicole Wallace is to be believed. Wallace had the job of trying to educate Palin, and she said that Palin “was up all night studying and she understood that she was on the ticket with a man who was respected around the world” About Trump, she said, “He’s not even trying to learn.” Before her work with the McCain/Palin campaign, Wallace was Bush’s White House Communications Director; presidential political advisor Mark McKinnon, White House colleague, called her a “rare talent in politics.”

With the planes hitting the World Trade Centers in New York almost 15 years behind us, the terror has slowly faded. To get votes, the GOP needs to create a “feeling” that the country is in far worse shape than immediately after that event or the possibility of Japanese attacks on the West Coast during World War II or the fear of German spies during that war infiltrating the U.S. to support Adolf Hitler in taking over the nation. Rudy Giuliani claimed:

“Do you ever remember the world as dangerous as this? I don’t.”

Giuliani was the mayor of New York when 3,000 lives were lost on 9/11/01. His city was devastated for a period of time, and the country lived with panic. Mentioning that time, however, doesn’t cause the right “feeling” because that tragedy occurred under a Republican president who had received some previous intelligence about the attack.

Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) has a “feeling” about the reason for Trump’s popularity: white men have been neglected in politics. He “felt” that Trump referred specifically to white men when he said in his acceptance speech, “I’m going to fight for you.” When political parties try to include minorities and women in the dialog, “white males have been left aside a little bit in the politics of who speaks to them,” Duffy said. Demographics show that 80 percent of Congress is composed of white males although only 31 percent of the U.S. population is composed of white males. Duffy has also complained in the past that he has difficulty making ends meet on his annual salary of $174,000.

Trump has had extremely strong “feelings about the Democratic convention last week. In response to some of the speakers, he expressed anger to the extent that he wanted to “hit” them “so hard.” He seems to have had a particularly violent response to Democratic VP candidate Tim Kaine. Or it may have been Michael Bloomberg:

“I was gonna hit one guy in particular, a very little guy. I was gonna hit this guy so hard his head would spin and he wouldn’t know what the hell happened.”

As Ezra Klein wrote at Vox, “Trump can’t suppress his own mania for even a week.”

Like many other conservatives, Ann Coulter has a “feeling” that all Muslims are bad people. After Khizr Khan, talked about his pride in the U.S., Coulter tweeted:

“You know what this convention really needed? An angry Muslim with a thick accent like Fareed Zacaria.”

Khan’s son, Captain Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq in order to save his men and posthumously received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his heroic actions. Right-wing radio host Sandy Rios’s “feeling” doubled down when she questioned both the loyalty of the speaker and his dead patriotic son.

“As far as I can tell, Islam, truly, supporters of Islam and the Quran, cannot embrace the Constitution.”

“Make America Great.” That’s what Benito Mussolini said during his visit to the U.S. in 1927. The fascist dictator assassinated political opponents and took liberty and freedom of speech from the Italian people. He joined Germany and Japan a few years later to form the Axis that planned to take over the entire world. “America First” was used in the 20th century when the America First Committee, associated with aviator Charles Lindbergh, formed to keep the U.S. out of World War II with its closeness to Adolf Hitler. These two phrases are the nationalist slogans of the Trump campaign.

I have a “feeling” that Donald Trump as president would be very dangerous for the United States—and I have a lot more reasons for this “feeling.”

July 27, 2016

Hillary Wins, Bill’s Photo on Front Pages

Last night Hillary Clinton broke through a glass ceiling when she was nominated the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate–the first woman named by a major political party for a presidential candidate. The first crack in that ceiling, however, came 136 years ago when Victoria Woodhull ran for the presidency in 1872, almost 50 years before women could legally vote for the president. That didn’t happen until 1920 after the 19th Amendment was ratified. With a platform of women’s suffrage and equal rights for women, Woodhull ran for the Equal Rights Party. She was paired with Frederick Douglass, former escaped slave and abolitionist author and speaker, against GOP Ulysses S. Grant and Democrat Horace Greeley. Obviously she lost, and her party picked Belva Ann Lockwood for its candidate 12 years later. No woman appeared on the presidential ticket until Geraldine Ferro was the vice-presidential candidate in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008.

Since Woodhull, other women have tried for the presidency. The first one on the ballot was Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) who got 22 delegate votes from four states in 1964. Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-NY), the first black person to run for the Democratic nomination, got 151.95 delegate votes from 26 states in 1972. The only other woman to receive delegate votes in a Democratic campaign, Ellen McCormack, got 27 delegate votes from five states in 1976. Women who did not run in the primaries for President have also got delegate votes at the Democratic Conventions: Barbara Jordan, 1 (1976); Koryne Horbal, 5 (1980); Martha Kirkland, 1 (1984); and Patricia Schroeder, 8 (1992).

The first women who appeared on the presidential ticket for a major political party were vice-presidential candidates—Geraldine Ferro in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008. Yesterday, however, Hillary Clinton garnered 2,842 delegate votes—2,205 of them pledged—compared to the 1,846 pledged delegates and 48 super delegates for Bernie Sanders. Fifty-five votes were abstentions. Clinton also Clinton won 16.8 million votes to 13.2 million for Sanders, about 55 percent of the vote to his 43 percent for a 12 percentage point gap.

Much was said from the Sanders’ side about the “rigged” election, but Sanders gained many of his delegate votes from caucuses, which do not represent the vote of these states. In fact, the two states that had both primaries and caucuses, Nebraska and Washington, showed that the majority of people voting in primaries supported Clinton although the Sanders picked up more votes from the caucuses in those states.

Clinton

Those who think that the mainstream media has lost its sexism, however, should look at the photos on the front pages of major newspapers from the Wall Street Journal in New York to San Diego—moving through Washington, Detroit, Wisconsin, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco—on up to Alaska. These newspapers put photos of Bill Clinton instead of the new Democratic presidential nominee, evidently believing that a male visual is more important than one of a female. The Oregonian, the largest newspaper in my state, went safe with a photograph of a man taking a back flip off a tree trunk into the water.

Trump photos make the front pages of newspapers when he’s done nothing; Hillary Clinton is overlooked despite her phenomenal background of public service. This reporting is sexism at its greatest. The Wall Street Journal did finally figure out its mistake and changed later editions. The Dallas Morning News was one of the few newspapers that understood the significance of yesterday’s Democratic nomination for the presidential candidate.

Dallas Morning News

An interesting Wal-Mart story: In 1995, one of its Miramar (FL) stores pulled a popular T-shirt proclaiming “Someday a woman will be president” off its shelves. The store had sold about two-thirds of its 204 shirts before they were pulled , and a Wal-Mart spokeswoman explained that a customer had complained. Jane Bockholt said:

“It was determined the T-shirt was offensive to some people and so the decision was made to pull it from the sales floor.”

rubenAnn Moliver Ruben, a 70-year-old psychologist when she created the shirt, designed the shirt with the child character Margaret from the cartoon strip Dennis the Menace. The figure making the proclamation had a big smile and her arms spread wide. Ruben had purchased the rights to use the drawing of Margaret and sold the shirts to women’s groups for between $10 and $15 before approaching Wal-Mart.

Protests forced the shirt back on the shelves, but Wal-Mart didn’t carry it long, saying that it didn’t sell. Recently, Ruben wrote a letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette describing the similarities between Dennis the Menace to Donald Trump. Today, the day after Hillary Clinton has become the Democratic presidential candidate, her shirt and her letter are even more appropriate. Right now there are none of these shirts for sale, but they may reappear soon!

Here’s part of that letter with the accompanying visual.

trump“Take a look at Dennis. He says he doesn’t know what a crepe suzette is but he knows that 8-year-old Margaret is a creep. He tells Margaret that he was her valentine last year and “haven’t I suffered enough?” When Margaret tells him she wants to be a nurse, he tells her, “You’d have plenty of work … you make people sick.” Finally, as Margaret is shown playing the accordion, he tells his 3-year-old friend, Joey, “She is no good at makin’ cookies, either.” Can’t you hear Donald Trump telling — what’s her name — that her face would stop a clock?

“Only Donald Trump, acting like 5-year-old Dennis, would mimick a disabled journalist and propose banning Muslims from entering this country and building a wall that Mexico would pay for. Unfortunately, he is incapable of owning up to the problems his words and his behavior cause.”

Thanks, Ms. Ruben! Now make more of those shirts!

July 26, 2016

Mainstream Media Ignores Trump Issues

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 10:26 PM
Tags: , , ,

According to Nate Silver, excellent prognosticator of elections, Donald Trump is winning the election. Minorities, women, poor people, and liberal whites are all in danger if the GOP dominates the nation. While the GOP, Bernie Sanders’ supporters, and the media spread falsehoods about Hillary Clinton, this less-publicized factual information paints a grim picture of the man who could be president at this time next year.

Russia: The researchers at ThreatConnect traced the recently hacked emails from the DNC to bureaucrats from the propaganda arm of the Russian government in Vladimir Putin’s connection to Trump. As Trump’s debt grows, he fails to get loans from U.S. banks and turned to wealthy Russians associated with Putin. Trump and his family members count on Russian investors to put up the money for their properties throughout the world, and an election for Trump could mean that he might attain his dream of a Trump Tower in Moscow. Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chair, has made multimillion-dollar deals with Russians and worked for Putin-backed Ukrainian Viktor Yanukovych whose ousting in 2014 led to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and seizure of the Crimean Peninsula.  Two Trump advisers, Carter Page and Michael Caputo, work with Russia’s government-controlled natural gas corporation, a possible model Trump in the U.S. to control such a corporation for personal revenue and patronage.

With Trump at the helm, NATO may not keep Russia from swallowing up smaller countries. Trump said he fails to see why NATO should protect countries that don’t pay their share and he wants to lift economic sanctions on Russia. Thanks to Trump, the GOP platform jettisoned its condemnation of Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine and support Ukraine against Putin, who has directed Russian state media to support Trump as president.

A Lithuanian artist has noticed the closeness between Putin and Trump.

 

A couple kisses in front of graffiti depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, on the walls of a bar in the old town in Vilnius, Lithuania,  Saturday, May 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

(AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

Even the farthest right Republicans are nervous about Trump’s bromance with Putin. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), author of the letter telling Iran that the U.S. may not keep its promises, hopes that classified briefings, which Trump will receive now that he is the GOP presidential candidate, may give him “a different perspective on Vladimir Putin and what Russia is doing to America’s interests and allies in Europe and the Middle East and Asia.” The question is whether he will change—unlikely—and, if not, whether Russia will directly received classified information instead of being forced to hack emails.

Other Business Dealings: In the past 30 years, Trump has been involved in over 3,500 lawsuits, including 70 in the past year at an average of one every three days. Many of these were with small companies after he refused to pay them for contracted work, and many of them had to declare bankruptcy because he refused to pay for them. These lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings are with people like dishwashers, plumbers, painters, waiters, bartenders, and other hourly workers. At just one project, the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid $69.5 million in full or on time, including people who installed walls and chandeliers. Two years ago, Trump National Doral Miami golf resort stiffed The Paint Spot for the final $34,863 payment of a $200,000 contract. Trump said that they had “paid enough” for the paint. Judge Jorge Cueto has now charted Trump and his company $300,000 to cover The Paint Shop’s attorney and court fees.

New York has filed liens against his property three dozen times for unpaid taxes. Since 2005, his companies have also been cited with 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005, and last week the National Labor Relations Board fined Trump $11,200 for either firing or retaliating against employees who tried to join a labor union. And despite Trump’s denying having any mobster connections, he has financial and personal collaboration with organized crime.

Campaign Violations: Trump’s campaign has a strong connection—possibly illegal—with his company, Trump Organization. For example, Meredith McIver, who supposedly was paid to write Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech, wrote her apology on Trump Organization letterhead and identified herself as an employee of Trump’s company. Trump has sought donations from outside the U.S. although seeking and/or accepting this money would be illegal. Called on this issue, Trump repeated it. The results could be civil and criminal penalties.

Although technically not illegal, the practice of paying himself for holding events at his properties is shady. So far he’s paid himself over $6 million. A mistake as little as picking up a pen at the concierge desk at Trump Tower, however, could be classified as an illegal campaign donation. Trump also may be using an employee of the Trump Organization—not his campaign—to issue a cease and desist order for Right to Rise as well as other groups.

White Supremacist Connections: Called to task earlier for not rejecting support from former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, Trump said at that time he didn’t know who he was. (He did.) Last Sunday, Chuck Todd asked Trump against about Duke, who said that he was inspired to run for office because of Trump’s campaign. Although Trump said he doesn’t support Duke’s run, he said he didn’t know if he would support a Democrat running against Duke. It would depend on who is running against Duke, Trump said.

Bigotry: In an effort to look presidential, Trump is no longer using the term “Muslims” in his intent to ban immigrants, but everyone knows who he means. Now he advocates a freeze on immigrants from countries “compromised by terrorism.” Which countries could be confusing because he said the French “have totally been” compromised by deadly Islamist attacks. He plans to definitely ban anyone coming into the U.S. from Syria. He said he switched to the term “territory” because “people were so upset when I used the word Muslim.”

Revenge: Well known for seeking retribution against anyone who opposes him, Trump started with John Kasich and Ted Cruz, former presidential candidate opponents, immediately after last week’s convention. After Cruz’ refusal to endorse him, Trump repeated his insinuation that Cruz’ father may have been involved in John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Kasich refused to be Trump’s vice-president or even attend the convention so Trump called him “dishonorable.” As part of this payback, Trump is moving millions of dollars into a super-PAC against their 2018 re-election bids. Trump has no money for charities, but he can afford to donate money out of hate.

Sexual Harassment: Trump declared his allegiance to former Fox CEO Roger Ailes after Gretchen Carlson accused her boss of sexual harassment by calling the accusations “unfounded. Trump explained:

“I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them. And even recently. And when they write books that are fairly recently released, and they say wonderful things about him. And now all of a sudden they’re saying these horrible things about him.”

Two dozen women, including Fox star Megyn Kelly, have joined culture in describing the culture at the network of requesting sexual favors of women in exchange for advances or being subjected to crude remarks and sexual putdowns to keep the job. Ailes isn’t the only person accused of sexual harassment. Rudi Bakhtiar is now talking about how her career at Fox failed after she refused to be “friends with benefits” with her then-supervisor Fox News Washington Bureau Chief Brian Wilson.

Rape: A third woman has accused Trump of non-consensual sexual assault. In a 1997 lawsuit, the woman detailed Trump’s inappropriate sexual behavior toward her but dropped her lawsuit after she and her boyfriend settled a business dispute for an undisclosed amount. She brought the issue up again only after Trump called her a liar during his campaign and daughter Ivanka said that her father was “not a groper.”

Last month, a lawsuit accused Trump of raping a 13-year-old girl in 1994 during a party at the home of Trump’s billionaire friend, Jeffrey Epstein. In 2008, Epstein served 13 months in prison for soliciting underage girls for sex and remains a registered sex-offender. The description in the lawsuit graphically describes Trump’s attack. The victim explained that Trump told her that she and her family would be physically harmed or killed unless she stayed quiet about his assault. Another woman said she witnessed the rape. Trump’s first wife, Ivana, also said that Trump raped her.

Vanity Fair has published an article about Keith Olbermann regarding Trump’s mental imbalance using such elements as inability to take responsibility, pathological lying, promiscuity, lack of empathy or senses of remorse or guilt, grandiose sense of self-worth, and much more. Obviously it’s impossible to diagnose anyone without talking to them, but the analysis includes interesting pieces of Trump’s life, including his bragging about punching a music teacher in the eye because he thought the teacher didn’t know anything about music. Trump was seven at the time.

The above is just the tip of the iceberg about Donald Trump.

July 25, 2016

2016 Presidential Candidates: Who’s the ‘Truthiest’ of Them All?

Over a decade ago, satirist Stephen Colbert, now the host of The Late Show, coined the term “truthiness,” which rapidly found its way into the English lexicon. Truthiness is the quality of determining “truth” from intuition—“from the gut” or “feels right”—with no connection to information, logic, thought, or facts. In other words, the Republican mindset. When he first used the term in his pilot of The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005, he used George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 as an example of truthiness.

John Oliver spun off this concept in his brilliant analysis of last week’s GOP convention. One example he uses is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s awkward defense of Donald Trump’s claim that crime is rampant in U.S. streets. Confronted with the fact that the last 25 years have seen a steady decline in crime, Gingrich tried to prove that there was an increase because people “feel” that way. Gingrich just ignored this chart showing that the U.S. crime rate is at its lowest rate since the 1970s.

Violent-Crime-Rate-Chart1

Oliver explained the truthiness of Gingrich’s position:

“I think we can all agree that candidates can create feelings in people. What Gingrich is saying is that feelings are as valid as facts. So by the transitive property, candidates can create facts, which is terrifying, because that means someone like Donald Trump can create his own reality.”

About Antonio Sabato Jr.’s claim that President Obama, a self-identified Christian is a Muslim, Oliver said:

“What is truly revealing is that his implication that believing something to be true is the same as it being true. Because if anything, that was the theme of the Republican convention this week. It was a four-day exercise in emphasizing feelings over facts.”

This segment of Oliver’s show can be seen here. Or you may want to read the script. 

Desperate to win minority votes, Trump keeps saying “Blacks love me!” and “Latinos love me.”

Desperate to win minority votes, Trump keeps saying “Blacks love me!” and “Latinos love me.” In a Washington Post interview, Trump said, “I’m the least racist person that you’ve ever interviewed.” His history, however, shows exactly the opposite. Blacks in Ohio, a vital swing state, gave W. Bush 16 percent of their vote in 2004. At this time, Trump has zero black support—yes, that’s absolute none!—in Ohio and only four percent nationwide. The 18 black delegates at the 2016 convention said that Trump needs to pull in the black vote to win. A “truthy tweet” last fall that stated blacks killed 81 percent of white homicide victims proved to be both racist and false. The factual number—not Trump’s feeling—was 15 percent; in fact, 82 percent of whites were killed by whites.

“The Hispanics love me. Latinos love Trump, and I love them,” Trump has said. The RNC tried to prove that with signs at the convention stating “Latinos Para Trump.” Unfortunately, the 133 Latino delegates weren’t enough to make an impact so whites had to carry the signs.

Latino signs

Clinton started the convention with a 55-point lead with Latino voters and ended with a 63 percent lead.  That’s not a total 63 percent—it’s the lead, leaving Trump with 15 percent favorable rating and 82 percent unfavorable rating among Latino voters. Of the Latino voters, 81 percent said that the RNC convention mob changing “build the wall” is “disturbing and encourages discrimination against immigrants and Latinos.” In addition, 77 percent described the GOP as “dangerous” after the convention, and 85 percent said that the convention worsed their image of the GOP.

So who’s the truthiest of them all? Check out the following charts from Politifact for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates:

Hillary-Clintons-Scorecard

Tim-Kaines-Scorecard

Donald-Trumps-Scorecard

Mike-Pences-Scorecard

And the overview of candidates during the past three cycles.

Overall chart from Trump to Obama

Who’s lying now?!

 

July 24, 2016

The Fact-Free 2016 GOP Convention Consumed by White Hatred

[Cleveland journalist Laurie Penny captured this photo of Monday’s Women for Trump event. She wrote, “The people in this picture are journalists and one media intern.”]

Women Trump

The grim 2016 GOP convention created by a reality show host is gone, and the Democrats have settled into Philadelphia for the upcoming week. There’s still time, however, for a post mortem of the days marked by a dystopian vision of gloom and doom. The RNC had to close its online chat due to rampant anti-Semitism although speakers freely used slurs against people of color. (Of 2,472 delegates, only 18 were black and 133, Latino.)

The RNC, following Trump’s policy of banning unfriendly media sources, blocked Open Secrets, a non-profit outlet that scrutinizes lobbyists, federal agencies, politicians of all stripes and more, from the convention for the first time in 20 years. The convention center was also closed to guns despite the GOP mantra about the importance of carrying guns everywhere.

As theatre critic Peter Marks pointed out in the Washington Post, the four days were filled with subplots like “the blood feud between Donald Trump and his Uriah Heep-like archrival, Sen. Ted Cruz (TX)” and Ben Carson “go[ing] all Exorcist.” The star of the convention was actually on the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as Broadway actress Laura Benanti wore a knockoff of Melania Trump’s $2,200 Roksanda dress and satirized the plagiarized speech that Melania Trump copied from First Lady Michelle Obama.

Many leading GOP politicians were missing from the convention. Sarah Palin stayed in Alaska, perhaps because her son, Track, had gone to jail after he punched his girlfriend in the face, threatened to fire the gun he held to her face, kicked her in the knees, and tried to keep her from calling 911. Trump was so short on speakers that his children were paraded on the stage each evening, and he drew on has-been celebrities such as Scott Baio and Antonio Sabato Jr., who declared that President Obama is a Muslim. In Trump’s desire to be “amazing,” he lurched out onto the stage through the fog on the first night, his silhouette resembling a Frankenstein monster. Some people looked back wistfully at Clint Eastwood and his empty chair.

In his benediction, Mark Burns, a South Carolina pastor, told delegates that “our enemy is not other Republicans, but is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.” In the same time, he said that God is “guiding [Trump], that you are giving him the words to unite this party, this country.” Ivanka Trump’s rabbi was smart to back out of the job.

These are some of the “high” points:

Day 1: Make America Safe Again concentrated on hating Hillary and anyone except white people. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told reporters that non-white people haven’t done anything productive for humanity and doubled-down on his bigotry throughout the convention. Rudy Giuliani kicked off the hate fest against Clinton, screaming so much that he looked like he needed an ambulance after he got off the stage. Wannabe VP pick Michael Flynn encouraged the incessant cries of “lock her up” that continued throughout the convention.

All the speakers wanted revenge for four deaths at Benghazi and the use of emails on a private server. The media generally ignored the #NeverTrump delegates from Colorado who walked off the floor after delegates from nine states weren’t given a vote for unbinding delegates, but Trump wasn’t as lucky with the overwhelming media coverage about the plagiarism in his wife’s lovely speech.

Day 2: Make America Work Again morphed into “Make America Hate Hillary Again.” The unemployment rate was halved from 10 percent to five percent in seven years of President Obama’s administration, so Chris Christie avoided jobs and ginned up the crowd with a mix of the Spanish Inquisition and a Nazi rally in the Germany of 1930s as the mob in the convention center constantly cried “guilty.” Christie’s Kangaroo Court audition to become attorney general matches Trump’s love for authoritarian regimes.

The founder of a small New York City waterproofing company was the chief CEO speaker, and other speakers praised Trump’s participation in wineries and kickboxing. John Trump, Jr.’s speech writer cribbed from his own book and a column in the American Conservative  as he bashed teachers and environmental regulations. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tried to avoid praising Trump and his positions while appear supportive of electing the man who he calls “not my kind of conservative.”

Delegates revolted on the second day because the GOP changed their votes in some states to Trump for the nomination instead of the majority candidates in the primaries. These delegates had supported the binding rules because they believed they were “bound” to the voter’s decision. Since then, some of the delegates ignored by the GOP have resigned from the party and announced their support for Libertarian Gary Johnson. Trump was nominated by only 69.8 percent, the lowest percentage since the 1976 contested convention. Much to the dismay of germophobe Trump, at least 11 California delegates came down with norovirus on the second day, requiring that delegates not shake hands or share food.

New Hampshire delegate and advisor to Trump’s campaign about veterans’ issues, Al Baldasaro, said that Clinton should be “put in the firing line and shot for treason” and referred to her as “a piece of garbage.” The Secret Service took notice the First Amendment does not allow encouraging violence against U.S. political leaders. Standing his ground, Baldasaro called a second time for Clinton’s execution by firing squad on a white nationalist radio show broadcast from inside the GOP convention.

Day 3: Supposed to be Make America First Again, the convention let Ted Cruz took the floor to explain how to do this: vote your conviction in November. The finale of his speech about freedom didn’t make him popular when he said, “Vote your conscience”—a cry from the #NeverTrump delegation. Newt Gingrich’s history lesson about the Republican party fighting racism in the 19th century couldn’t cover the GOP’s vigorous curtailment of civil rights during the past few decades.

In his acceptance speech for VP candidate, Mike Pence bragged about Indiana’s economy. A few facts: The dropping unemployment rate in the state started before he became governor, thanks to President Obama, and continued to follow the national average. Yet a larger percentage of the state’s residents were employed in 2000 than in 2016. Eighteen states added more jobs than Indiana during Pence’s time in office there, and the job situation would look worse if the increase—not decrease, as Pence claims—of public sector jobs had not occurred. While the country saw a decline of people not affording enough food, Indiana saw an increase while Pence cut off food stamps to many of these people. Pence supports killing more U.S. soldiers in the Middle East, slashing Social Security and Medicare, and far more.

Day 4: Make America One Again featured Trump’s 76-minute lie-filled speech after Reince Priebus extolled the virtues of GM president William Knudson. The speaker ignored Knudsen’s support of the Nazis when General Motors was manufacturing cars and trucks in Germany for the Wehrmacht. Knudson called the Third Reich “the miracle of the 20th century” and only became disillusioned when Adolf Hitler took over the GM factory in 1940. The convention finished with a feeling of depression as people walked out to the Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

The 2016 GOP convention was marked by missing Republican leaders, divisive screaming matches, avoidance of Trump’s abilities, plagiarism, concerns about Satan, illegal calls for a U.S. political leader to be jailed or shot by a firing squad, and more distractions. The four days were also marked by an unbelievable number of lies and no defense of Trump except he isn’t Hillary Clinton. As Eric Alterman wrote on Moyers & Company, the Republican id—the lizard brain of “instinctual, repressed, or antisocial desires”—was on full display at the convention.

A bizarre story surrounding the convention, ignored by mainstream media, is Trump Jr.’s failed attempt to woo Ohio Gov. John Kasich for the vice-presidential slot with the promise that Kasich would be in charge of both domestic and foreign policy. When asked what Donald Trump planned to do as president, the answer was “make America great again.” Trump has also said that he might resign after he got elected. People who think they are voting for Trump for president should consider that his election can easily lead to Mike Pence as president. All Trump’s promises about creating jobs and keeping the U.S. out of the Middle East are nothing but a sham because Pence is just George W. Bush on steroids.

David Corn wrote:

“The language of Trumpism is paranoia. He seeks to take advantage of resentments and anger. He encourages hatred and division. He has normalized crude discourse, thuggery, misogyny, and bigotry. He wants Americans to feel threatened and afraid. His business plan relies on pessimism. And many party leaders—including some who loudly denounced him during the primary campaign—have joined the ride. Moreover, he has laid down a dangerous marker: If Clinton wins, that’s proof that the system is rotten. So then what? She will be an illegitimate leader who must be opposed and removed?

“The GOP convention has been a weeklong parade of fear and loathing. And whiffs of violence have been in the air. (‘The answer to 1984 is 1776,’ Jones shouted at a rally.) This official embrace of suspicion and distrust is unprecedented—and dangerous. ‘I am your voice,’ Trump thundered during his dour acceptance speech. The GOP delegates cheered in response. Trump was right. With the support of millions of Republican voters and the acquiescence of GOP elites, he has given voice to darker impulses and has altered the American political landscape. It is his most consequential construction project yet.”

Amen.

July 22, 2016

‘Making America Afraid Again’ – Trump’s Post-Truth Speech

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 10:11 PM
Tags: ,

“Yes we can” is gone. “Only I can fix it” has arrived with Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the 2016 GOP convention. Unfortunately, he doesn’t say how he’ll follow through with any of his promises including the combination of the biggest tax cut promise of any candidate and huge investments in “roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, and the railways of tomorrow.” And he said nothing about finding jobs for people. The GOP convention that focused on hate for three days culminated in a dystopian world of fear and doom as Trump drew an authoritarian (or fascist) picture of the United States.

The focus was Nixonian “law and order,” entitlement of whites through police black oppression. The subtext of “those others” means people of color and Muslims. A guest on the Thom Hartmann program explained that Trump uses Nixon’s FIBS—abuse of fear, ignorance, bigotry, and sneering—a method of converting Democrats in the deep South to Republicans. Trump promised that “crime and violence” will “come to an end beginning on January 20th, 2017.”

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

At the beginning of his 76-minute speech, a series of scary falsehoods, Trump said he would “present the facts plainly and honestly” in “a straightforward assessment of the state of our nation.” That was the first lie he told. Without lying, he can’t get people to vote for him. Be afraid, be very afraid—of Democrats, immigrants, refugees, regulations, crime, and everything else except the huge deficits that his massive tax cuts will cause. Here are just a few of his lies:

Crime: Rates are going down, not up—totally opposite from the focus of Trump’s speech. The violent crime rate in America is now lower than any time during the last three decades, dropping one-half since 1980 from 10.2 to 4.5 per 100,000 people. When Jake Tapper asked Paul Manafort asked about FBI statistics showing this, Trump’s campaign manager said that he didn’t know what statistics Tapper is “talking about” and that “the FBI is suspect.” The data on crime rates come from state and local law enforcement. Statistics are inconvenient for Trump’s message so he also denies rates for unemployment and uninsured as well as public-opinion polls and climate science.

Homicides: The murder rate that Trump cited last year is far below the 1960s and 1970s and below any time in the 1990s.

Police Deaths: Trump claimed these have increased by 50 percent over the same time last year, but on-duty deaths of police officers is down one percent in 2016 compared to the same time in 2015. This trending is near an historic low.

Religion: Expect to hear a lot about “the Johnson amendment” in the upcoming campaign as Trump placates evangelicals by promising to reverse the law that “threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views.” The law, signed by GOP President Eisenhower in 1954, prohibits tax-exempt groups from opposing or supporting candidates or political parties. The law does not focus on religious groups but on tax-exempt groups. If churches pay taxes, they can lobby for candidates. And they can still be involved in ballot measures. Trump supports a theocracy because it gets votes from evangelical Christians.

Unemployment: Trump’s claim about an increase in unemployed people ignores the population increase. Almost five million people have been added to the workforce since President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009.

Taxes: The United States is “one of the lowest-taxed industrialized countries, and middle-class households pay significantly lower tax rates than they did in 1996,” contrary to Trump’s claims, according to the conservative Wall Street Journal. Trump quotes statutory taxes for businesses, far above reality. Total taxes in the U.S.—federal, state, and local–totaled 26 percent in 2014, higher only than South Korea and Chile among wealthier nations. Trump’s tax cuts would average over $1 trillion a year and drive up the deficit.

Trade Deficit: The manufacturing trade deficit was $681 billion in 2015, not $800 billion, and many economists don’t find high trade deficits to be a bad thing.

National Debt: Much of this  is money is “debt held by the [U.S.]public,” money that the government owes to itself by borrowing from Social Security trust fund bonds and other ways of playing with federal monies. The debt has not doubled, as Trump claims, but has gone up about 50 percent.

Infrastructure: No one is happy with the nation’s infrastructure that the GOP has refused to improve, but the 17,000 U.S. airports still rank among the best in the world. If Trump wants better infrastructure, he should talk to his own party.

ISIS: Trump wants people to believe that “Hillary Clinton invented ISIS with her stupid policies,” but its roots go back to George W. Bush’s al-Qaida in 2004 and ISIL in 2006.

Rigged System: In an attempt to gin up hatred for Clinton from Bernie Sanders’ supporters, Trump compares himself to the former Democratic presidential candidate. When Sanders stopped his campaign, he had only 43 percent of 30 million votes, compared to Clinton’s 55 percent, which gave him only 1,894 total delegates. Nothing was rigged.

Immigration: Trump’s figure of “nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country … roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens” came from a letter from DHS to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), whose speech writer also wrote Trump’s speech, that said the DHS does not have a definite number. DHS’ definition of “criminal” includes “illegal entry” and traffic offenses which don’t “threaten peaceful citizens.” He also claimed that “there’s no way to screen [Syrian] refugees in order to find out who they are or where they come from.” Again wrong, because vetting refugees takes years and requires overwhelming paperwork including birth certificates, passports—even old utility bills. It might be noted that the two recent police killings are by U.S.-born military veterans, not vetted refugees. As for Trump’s claim about an increase in immigrant families cross the border, many of them are coming in legally as they seek asylum. Immigration doesn’t shrink wages, as Trump claims, but increases them for most people in the U.S. who have a high school degree. It’s the GOP that shrinks wages.

Health Care: Trump’s plan to repeal The Affordable Care act would remove coverage from 21 million people. Since the law took effect, 87 percent of people with health insurance are satisfied with their choice of doctors, unlike Trump’s false complaint. Clinton is also correct that the statements about ineptitude for veterans were highly exaggerated for ideological reasons. The VA still offers some of the best health care in the nation if not the best.

Guns:  “My opponent wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment,” said Trump in a flat-out lie. Clinton’s website has the statement that “weapons of war have no place on our streets,” but she never indicated she wants to eliminate the right to bear arms.

Nuclear Weapons: Iran is NOT “on the path to nuclear weapons” because the successful Iran deal has resulted in a 98-percent reduction of the country’s uranium stockpile. Thousands of centrifuges have been dismantled, and its reactor has been filled with cement. is dismantling much of Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran: Trump propagated the widespread myth that “the Iran deal … gave back to Iran $150 billion and gave us nothing.” The money has always belonged to Iran, not the United States, and the agreement covers closer to $35 to 65 billion. The deal has also made the world safer because Iran will have more trouble building nuclear weapons.

Household Income: Trump is off by $3,400 in his misrepresentation about a $4,000 drop in household incomes. The June median annual household income is $57,206, compared to 2026 dollars of $57,826.

LGBT Community: Trump struggled with pronouncing the initials “LGBTQ” as he promised to protect them in foreign lands. In the U.S., however, he promises to appoint Supreme Court justices to overturn marriage equality, supports state laws discriminating against LGBT people, and woos the most anti-LGBT leaders in the United States in his party that passed the “the most anti-LGBT platform in history.”

World Stability: Trump blames Hillary Clinton for President Obama’s foreign policy directives. She wasn’t in charge of making foreign policy decisions; the president was. In addition, the Obama administration has spent both terms struggling with the problems caused by the previous president, GOP George W. Bush, and his administration. Trump said that Libya was stable before Clinton. ISIS militants increased after the deposition of dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who massacred his people after uprisings, left a failed state. The same thing happened in Egypt after a revolution toppled dictator Mosni Mubarak, an act that followed political violence—not peace, as Trump claimed. Like the protests in those two countries, Syria’s bedlam began with the people’s opposition to dictator Bashar al-Assad, who declared war on them rather than lost control. Iraq’s chaos began in 2010 after George W. Bush’s agreement removed U.S. military from the country.

Clinton Emails: Trump lies when he says that Clinton “illegally” stored her emails on a private server, and the 33,000 emails she destroyed were personal emails. He has no proof that what Clinton “actually did” was far worse: it is simply a smear.

If listeners weren’t miserable or afraid before the speech, they were afterwards. That’s why the GOP delegates were seen slinking out of the convention center, not cheering for the possibilities of their party. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (R-MA) summarized Trump’s speech best: “He sounded like a dictator of a small country rather than a man who is running for the highest office of the strongest democracy on the face of the earth.”

If Trump gets his way, the U.S. may become one of those countries run by dictators.

July 21, 2016

Comparison of Political Parties through Congressional Interns

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:58 PM

Watching the GOP convention this week was painful on a large number of levels, one of them being the struggle to show minorities in both the speakers and the audience. Out of 2,472 delegates, only 18 are black–less than one percent. That’s down from the peak of seven percent in 2004. Only 20 percent of the 71 prime-time speakers are white. This is the party of Donald Trump.

The look of whiteness at the RNC is patterned in this photograph of GOP congressional interns, proudly taken by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

PaulRyan interns

Below is the photograph of Democratic congressional interns, thanks to Audra Jackson, an intern working for Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). What an amazing difference!

democratic interns

According to Valcy Etienne, Johnson said that Jackson’s selfie was an “excellent idea” because the interns “represent the future of our party and where we’re going.” She added:

“I wonder if the Republicans are looking at diversity or have any type of priority for it. It’s not hard. If you have the attitude of diversification, believe me it shows and people will get it right away. I believe if there is some interest in making sure that you reflect the American population, the attitudes are well known.”

She also explained the importance of diversity:

“First of all, we represent the nation. Our nation is very diverse and becoming more diverse every day. And I think to have a non-diverse representation is a disservice to the American people.”

Although people of color comprise over 28 percent of eligible voters, they represent only seven percent of top Senate staffers. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies also reported, “Senate offices representing states with large Hispanic and African-American populations hire few senior staffers of color.”

These images mirror the composition of Congress. Although the current Congress is considered the most diverse in history, but most of the diversity is on the Democratic side.  The House has 78 white men out of 188 representatives, making them the minority of that chamber’s Democratic caucus. Of the 246 Republicans in the House, only 12 are minorities. That’s under five percent. By gender, the House Dems have 65 women (about one-third); the GOP has only 23 for a percentage of under ten percent.

As everyone knows, the GOP is dominated by white men.

congressional chart

 

July 20, 2016

GOP Platform Goes Back to 19th Century

Republicans love to talk about the importance of following the U.S. Constitution being the party of Lincoln. Judges and legislation are bound by the Constitution. This year the platform of the self-proclaimed party of Lincoln has seven pages—ten percent of the content—in a section called “A Rebirth of Constitutional Government” (aka revisionist constitutional theory).

This section of the GOP platform proclaims that government exists to protect “God-given, natural rights”; in any difference of opinion, God wins. One of these God-given “inalienable right that predates the Constitution” is “the right of individuals to keep and bear arms” as “a natural inalienable right that predates the Constitution.” Another God-given rights are “to devote resources to whatever cause or candidate one supports” (such as influencing elections), influence elections), to “set their own membership standards” free from anti-discrimination laws, and the “freedom of Americans to act in accordance with their religious beliefs” often when those beliefs call for defiance of the law, as examples of rights that are “not given to us by the government but are rights we inherently possess.”

The platform gets worse by completely invalidating  the U.S. Constitution. “The government cannot use subsequent amendments to limit First Amendment rights.” Thus the GOP repudiates the way that legislators and judges are bound by the Constitution. Republican position is that Congress cannot propose and states cannot ratify, for example, a constitutional amendment overruling the Supreme Court’s campaign finance decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Republican Party’s position is that this amendment would be null and void.

“Inalienable” means “impossible to take away or give up.” Therefore Republicans state that rights that they consider inalienable cannot be changed through constitutional process and no more amendments with the slightest connection to the First Amendment—religion, free speech, and financing—can be made.  Also “the unborn child” has an “inalienable right to life … which cannot be infringed.”

Stephen Rosenfeld has culled these excerpts from the 2016 GOP platform.

  1. Tax cuts for the rich.
  2. Bank deregulation.
  3. Elimination of consumer protection.
  4. Repeal of environmental laws.
  5. Shrinking unions and union labor.
  6. Privatization of federal railway service.
  7. Freezing or elimination of federal minimum wage.
  8. Cuts in government salaries and benefits.
  9. Appointment of only anti-choice Supreme Court justices.
  10. Appointment of only anti-LGBT and anti-Obamacare justices.
  11. Legalization of anti-LGBT discrimination.
  12. Christianity as a national religion.
  13. Greater campaign finance loopholes and dark money.
  14. Eliminate gun controls nationwide.
  15. An anti-choice constitutional amendment.
  16. Elimination of federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
  17. Permission to states in closure of abortion clinics.
  18. Opposition to stem cell scientific research.
  19. Condemnation of executive branch policy making.
  20. Retention of the electoral college.
  21. Requirement of citizenship documents for voter registration.
  22. Drawing congressional districts without consideration of undocumented immigrants.
  23. No labeling of GMO ingredients in food products.
  24. Work requirements for welfare recipients and cuts in food stamps.
  25. More oil and gas drilling on U.S. shores.
  26. Completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  27. Expansion of fracking and burying nuclear waste.
  28. No tax on carbon products.
  29. Disregard of global climate change agreements.
  30. Privatization of Medicare.
  31. State administration of Medicaid.
  32. No increase of Social Security benefits by taxing the rich.
  33. Repeal of Obamacare.
  34. Monopoly control by internet service providers.
  35. English as the official U.S. language.
  36. No amnesty for undocumented immigrants.
  37. Wall along U.S./Mexico border to keep immigrants out.
  38. Government verification of citizenship of all workers.
  39. Penalties for cities giving sanctuary to migrants.
  40. Puerto Rico a state but not Washington DC.
  41. Support of traditional marriage but no other families.
  42. Privatization of government services to fight poverty.
  43. Mandatory bible study in public schools.
  44. Replacement of public schools with privatized options.
  45. Permission of abstinence-only approaches in sex education.
  46. Privatized student loans without lowering interest rates.
  47. Restoration of the death penalty.
  48. Dramatic increase in the Pentagon budget.
  49. Cancelation of Iran nuclear treaty and expansion of U.S. nuclear arsenal.
  50. Reaffirmation support for Israel and elimination of sanctions movement as anti-Semitic.

And that’s just a few of the issues covered in the platform. The GOP shows itself to be pro-rape, pro-gold standard, and pro-“right-to-work” while being anti-national parks and anti-mass transit.

The less rabid members of the Republican party who don’t follow all these positions blithely say that no one reads the platform or pays any attention. Yet the platform is the wish list of GOP leaders for Congress; it’s what they think they want to do to the United States. This platform calls for a drastic military buildup when a large percentage of taxes already goes to the Pentagon. This policy, combined with the massive tax cuts that they call for, follows the first term of George W. Bush which led to trillions of dollars in deficit and a recession that still hurts the nation’s economy.

In his speech tonight, GOP VP candidate, Mike Pence, called for the appointment of Supreme Court justices who will uphold the constitution, but the platform calls for justices who follow the GOP platform. During the convention, speakers consistently maintained that there is nothing progressive about the Democratic party, that it is the GOP that wants to move forward. In many ways, however, the platform resembles the conservative position of the mid-1800s except conservatives 150 years ago didn’t oppose abortion and immigration.

The theme of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) speech tonight is that “freedom matters.” He’s right, but his party’s platform wants to take away freedom for many people in the United States—no freedom for LGBT people to have the same rights as heterosexual people, no freedom for women to have reproductive health care, no freedom from poverty and illness, no freedom to have clean water and air, no freedom for equal internet use, no freedom for people with any skin color to travel safely wherever they want, no freedom for people other than strict “Christians.” In short, no freedom for all—just the entitled.

Of course, Cruz was booed at the end of his speech for not endorsing  Donald Trump after he said that people should not stay away from the election in the fall and that they should vote their conviction. Then Cruz’s wife, Heidi, was escorted from the floor for her own safety. So much for GOP unity. Or maybe the entire situation was a set-up so that Cruz would make Mike Pence, who followed Cruz, look good.

As far as the platform and Donald Trump, however, anyone with sense knows that Trump won’t even read it—and he certainly won’t pay any attention to it. He only wants a wall between the United States and Mexico.

July 19, 2016

Only GOP Gets Pass for Making Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. That’s what Republicans said this week when Leslie Stahl asked GOP vice-president candidate Mike Pence about staunchly supporting the Iraq War and Donald Trump excused him. That’s what a GOP delegate said about Melania Trump’s speech on the first night of the GOP convention that copied segments about values from First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic convention, the wife of the man who Trump denigrated for his lack of values.

Plagiarism seems to be a family pattern for the Trumps:  much of the materials from Trump Institute’s “get-rich-quick” ideas came from “an obscure real estate manual published a decade earlier,” according to NYT’s Jonathan Martin. Plagiarism ended Joe Biden’s first presidential campaign in 1988, but Trump has been called the Teflon Man because nothing sticks to him. The GOP position that mistakes are no problem seem to not be extended to Democrats.

Last night at the convention was a night of fear and doom highlighted by Patricia Smith, mother of a man who died in the attack on the diplomatic post at Benghazi (Libya), when she emphatically said that she holds Hillary Clinton personally responsible for the death of her son. (Fox watchers missed her speech, however, because it broadcast a live interview with Donald Trump at the same time as her speech.) Smith claims that Clinton lied to her; family members of other losses at Benghazi do not agree with Smith. Steve Benen described the manipulation of a woman’s grief for political purposes as “the lowest point a party has reached in my lifetime.” Throughout the evening, the incessant cry of “lock her up” about Hillary made the delegates sound like crowds rioting during the French Revolution.

While the media’s obsession with Clinton and Benghazi, it largely ignored George W. Bush’s part in the Middle East conflicts, a disaster that has killed hundreds of times more people—both in the 9/11 attack and the ensuing wars—than the four tragic deaths at Benghazi. As Maureen Dodd reported in a recent column, “Bush’s Call to Invade Iraq Looking Even Worse,” Trump agrees with a report in Jean Edward Smith’s biography, Bush, “that W. ignored warnings before 9/11, and overreacted afterward.” He behaved like a teenager who didn’t pay attention while driving and then over corrected into the ditch—but millions of times worse.

Recent reports show that Bush’s actions, responsible for the current dangers from radical terrorists, ignored the results of the 9/11 congressional inquiry released in 2002. After 14 years, former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) forced the release of 28 pages from this report showing that the United States blamed the wrong country for the 3,000 deaths on 9/11. Despite heavy redactions, the pages reveal that the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack on the United states were paid by Saudi Arabia and identifies serious communication failures between the CIA and the FBI that provided intelligence failure before the attacks.

In addition, the view of Saudi Arabia as an “ally” led to the FBI’s refusal to investigate the Saudi hijackers. Within the 28 pages is that statement that connections “suggest … incontrovertible evidence [exists] that there is support for these terrorists within the Saudi government.” Another part of the newly-released findings is that “Saudi Government officials in the United States may have ties to Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist network.”

After the 9/11 attack, the FBI failed to interview key Saudi Arabian witnesses while relying on false second-hand information. Despite the FAA’s closure of the U.S. air space, they allowed key Saudi Arabians to almost immediately flee the United States because of their friendship with the Bush family. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were identified as Saudi citizens, but W. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.

Months before the attack on 9/11, however, W. and his administration had already begun planning to attack Iraq. He started immediately after his first inauguration when he also cut taxes by $1 trillion and created a deficit, beginning with $400 billion after the former president, Bill Clinton, had brought the country to a surplus. Dick Cheney said that “Saddam’s own son-in-law” told them that “Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.” Yet in 2003, reporters found that the son-in-law had said the opposite, that “all weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear—were destroyed.”

Despite claims to the contrary from Cheney, and Condoleeza Rice, the aluminum tubes were the wrong size for centrifuges but appropriate for conventional, non-WMD rockets and “innocuous.” There were no links at that time between Iraq and a Qaeda although Colin Powell said the opposite.  W. claimed an IAEA report said that Iraq was “six months away from developing a nuclear weapon.” No such report existed, and the IAEA reported that it had “found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.” And on and on with the lies.

Over one million Iraqi men, women, and children have been killed in the conflict, and another two million are refugees in other countries. Another 1.7 million are displaced within the country. One million U.S. veterans were injured in the war, and 4,491 died.

W. always claimed that releasing this information would “make it harder for us to win the war on terror.” What he really means is that the release of the information would be harder for him to start the war that developed the terror in today’s Middle East.

To accomplish his goal, he enlisted the support of Tony Blair, then British prime minister, “to start a war on dodgy intelligence with inadequate planning to control the killing fields of a post-Saddam landscape, a landscape that eventually spawned the Islamic state.” That’s the conclusion of the 2.6 million-word report from the British government’s Chilcot inquiry. They ignored the report of U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix who said that he found no weapons of mass destruction. Blair expressed concerns about the French, and W. answered:

“Yeah, but what did the French ever do for anyone? What wars did they win since the French Revolution?”

Key findings from the British inquiry into the Iraq War:

  • There was “no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein” in March 2003 and military action was “not a last resort.”
  • The UK “chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted.”
  • Tony Blair’s note to George W. Bush on July 28, 2002, saying UK would be with the US “whatever,” was the moment Britain was set on a path to war
  • Judgments about the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD “were presented with a certainty that was not justified.”
  • Tony Blair told attorney general Lord Goldsmith Iraq had committed breaches of UN Security Council resolution 1441 without giving evidence to back up his claim
  • Planning for post-war Iraq was “wholly inadequate.”
  • Iran, North Korea and Libya were considered greater threats in terms of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons proliferation.
  • The joint intelligence committee believed it would take Iraq five years, after the lifting of sanctions, to produce enough fissile material for a weapon.
  • There was no evidence that Iraq had tried to acquire fissile material and other components or – were it able to do so – that it had the technical capabilities to turn these materials into a usable weapon.
  • Saddam’s regime was “not judged likely” to share its weapons or knowhow with terrorist groups.

After the report came out, W. admitted “mistakes” in Iraq but said that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. The U.S. created Hussein, employing him starting in 1959 and sending him millions of dollars, intelligence and tactical advice after making him the dictator in the 1980s. W. simply destroyed any Iraqi institutions remaining with no plan on how to rebuild these. Thirteen years later, poverty and violence in Iraq are rampant, and many people are without reliable electricity, running water, and healthcare.

As always, conservatives blame everyone except themselves—in this case the Iraqis. James Kirchick wrote in the National Review:

“If supporters of the Iraq War can be blamed for anything, it is being guilty of, at worst, a naïveté whereby they expected too much from Iraqis—not, as the latter-day inquisitors of George W. Bush and Tony Blair would have it, of a malignant desire to rape and pillage. Iraq’s tragic predicament is the result not of Western imperialism but of the particular pathologies of a Muslim-Arab world whose depredations are now on full view across the region, from Syria to Lebanon to Yemen and beyond.”

The GOP push at this time is to complete wipe out terrorists in the Middle East. That means eliminating whatever infrastructure exists in these countries, putting in more dictators, and then leaving the countries worse off that they were before they did their regime-building. The result will be more hundreds of thousands of people dead and more hundreds of thousands of people left homeless and wandering a planet where they are unwanted.

This is the party that wants to put Hillary Clinton in prison after she was exonerated of involvement with the deaths of four people in Benghazi. The GOP must keep bombing countries—14 of them in the Islamic world since 1980—because politicians make money from contractors creating the war machines. In addition, the U.S. accounts for 79 percent of weapons sales to the Middle East, and the majority of all foreign weapons sales around the world.   That’s one way that GOP candidates get elected; they beat the war drums and then use funding from manufacturers of war weapons.

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