Nel's New Day

December 27, 2016

‘Thank You, Hillary Clinton’

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 7:18 PM
Tags: , ,

 

What Hillary Clinton did wrong. That’s been the pervasive issue coming from all directions since the November election. Politicians and media, both conservative and liberal, have consistently battered her for the past 50 days since she won the popular vote in the nation by almost three million votes.  Never mind that she faced fake news, constant lies, Russian interference, gerrymandering, voter oppression, threats to progressive voters, sexism, anti-Clinton sentiment, and a few other problems.

It’s long past time to honor this woman who has given much to the country that takes great pleasure in vilifying her. Fortunately, John Pavlovitz, a pastor in Raleigh (NC), has done this, and journalist/blogger/columnist Leslie Salzillo wrote a piece about his letter of thanks to Clinton. Some of my readers may remember Pavlovitz’s commentary about the current president-elect called “How the Trump Stole America.”

Thanks to both Ms. Salzillo and Mr. Pavlovitz for the following:

hillary

North Carolina Christian Pastor Writes Piercing Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

John Pavlovitz is a unique veteran pastor in Raleigh, North Carolina who has been very vocal about the 2016 election, the misogyny of men like the president-elect, and more recently his admiration for Hillary Clinton. In his most recent open letter to Clinton, he starts off giving thanks to her for the work she’s done for the past five decades, what she accomplished this year, her “dignity in the face of undignified behavior,” her seriousness at the prospect of leading our country, and her campaign of diversity, equality and shared strength — which she ran with grace and continuously reminded us of America’s greatness. He adds Hillary did everything she was supposed to do — everything she was asked:

“You were prepared and balanced and cool under pressure.

You knew what you were talking about at every turn.

You saw the big picture, and you knew the countless small details that your opponent could never be bothered with.

You endured a relentless flood of misinformation by continually, plainly speaking your truth.

You had your character assassinated over and over—and in response you simply showed that character.

You shouldered the kind of expectations that no man aspiring to the position has ever had to contend with.

You had to be both strong and sensitive, tough and warm, fierce and likable—and you were.

You never talked in nonsensical sound bites, never ranted like a lunatic at your detractors, never viciously attacked citizens on social media—and you never stooped to the inhumanity of your opponent.”

Giving more accolades, Pavlovitz continues:

“Despite the unprecedented viciousness hurled at you, you never responded in kind; you just kept on being decent, intelligent, thoughtful—Presidential. You alone had the experience and the temperament and the maturity to do the job of leading this country. That should have been enough. I’m sorry that it wasn’t.”

Pavlovitz then states some apologies to Clinton saying he’s sorry that his 7-year old daughter won’t get to see the first woman President sworn in and instead his daughter will have to see a man who has complete contempt in shaping her future. Pavlovitz is sorry his 11-year old son will be reminded every day that “you can treat women with total disregard, that you can be a vile, filthy bully—and be well rewarded for it.”

The pastor apologizes to Hillary that more people didn’t recognize her diversity, strength and how her faith has always been the real, quiet, constant bedrock of who she is — and not a “one-time, cheap, campaign parlor trick designed to appear religious to the easily fooled.” And Pavlovitz is sorry that so many people chose to endure a “terrifying circus” instead of Hillary’s steadiness. Most of all, the pastor says he’s sorry Hillary will not be his President, because like himself, he believes Hillary cares for the full breadth of American diversity and he would have been proud to have been led by her.

Pavlovitz writes about how Hillary Clinton has served this country her entire life, and he knows she’ll continue to do the daily, difficult, unglamorous work of real leadership; “the kind that your opponent will never understand” or be interested in doing behind the scenes, “away from the spotlight; not fishing for compliments or pleading for adulation or begging to noticed.”

“I know you’re a warrior and that you’re going to be fine, but I also know that you’re human and that this year must have taken a greater toll on you than anyone. I hope you realize that it wasn’t in vain; that you really have won (and not just the popular vote).”

He says Hillary Clinton won because she reminded us that our diversity is our greatest asset and through equality we really are stronger together. Hillary’s won because she “didn’t need to manufacture fear to draw people” to her, and she “didn’t have to create a villain out of someone’s religion or skin color or native language or sexual orientation.” She’s the winner because the nearly 66 million Americans voted for her “now have a vision and a reason to fight on, and we will.” Pavlovitz says, “We will be the strong, steady resistance to the bigots and the bullies.” He writes that most of all, Hillary won because she did what good people always do regardless of the cost or the pushback or the reception, she went high — where the real victory is.

In his conclusion, John Pavlovitz tells Hillary:

“So for all that you gave and suffered and endured,

for how you taught and cared and labored,

for the way you inspired and challenged and led,

for being the very best of this country and for this country—

Thank you, Hillary.

John Pavlovitz”

Pavlovitz did not mention Hillary’s opponent during his entire piece. Although social and traditional media is still consumed and obsessed with stories about the president-elect (guilty), how refreshing to read a piece that doesn’t include that person’s name and instead includes more about the good in this country and those work to make it better — and here’s to the men and women of faith who speak out for that good.

[Pavlovitz begins his letter: “I hope this finds you well. I’ve been meaning to write you for a while. I was thinking of you again today and I guess I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate you.”

He wrote:

“I’m sorry that this country will be far less diverse, less civil, less open, and less compassionate than it would have been with you guiding it.

“I’m sorry that enough people chose his sideshow over your steadiness, and that we now all have to endure the terrifying circus.

“Most of all I’m sorry that you will not be my President, because like me I believe that you care for the full breadth of America’s diversity, not just the smallest sliver of it—and I would have been proud to have been led by you.”

Thank you, Hillary Clinton]

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December 25, 2016

Time for a New Age of Enlightenment

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 3:36 PM
Tags: , , ,

Merry Christmas! Conservatives are now gloating that people can use this phrase again although no one was ever blocked from saying it. Today is the holiday that Christians use to celebrate the birth of Christ despite indications that he was born in the spring after lambs were born. (They’re either four months early or eight months late in their celebration.)

Conservative Christians are also unaware of the holiday’s strong pagan influence. Christians were so eager to proselytize pagans that they used their customs to draw them into the new religion, but there were no Christmas celebrations until the fourth century. In the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation banned the practice for a few hundred years both in England and then America. The Puritans started the “War on Christmas.”

  • The choice of December 25 to celebrate the new Christian holiday came from its proximity to the Winter Solstice celebrating the sun god. Before the calendar was changed, Christmas was on the same day as this solstice celebration which falls between December 21 and December 23. It is the date of the longest night and shortest day introducing the rebirth of the Sun. In Old Europe, this date was known as Yule, the old Norse term, Jul, meaning wheel.
  • The Yule log was burned on the solstice to honor the sun. Christians changed the tradition to call is a sign of goodwill through the 12 days of Christmas.
  • Bells were always used to drive away evil spirits, and mistletoe was a druidic device, hung in the doorway to protect people from thunder and lightning. The traditions remained, but the reason changed to jollity and romance. Holly was the sacred plant of the Roman god Saturn. Laurel or bay leaves were sacred to Apollo, the sun god.
  • Greenery, including Christmas trees, was popular in pagan times because it reminded people that vegetation would return in the spring. Holly was the sacred plant of the Roman god Saturn.
  • Red and green colors traditionally represent fertility as shown by the green leaves  and red berries of holly, mistletoe and wreaths.
  • Feasting was popular during pagan times because food was scarce. Excessive eating showed that they had hope for an abundance of food in the new year. The act also came from the ancient Roman Saturnalian celebration between December 17 and 24 to honor the Roman god Saturn.
  • Candlelight was used for pagan celebrations honoring the sun. The first use of candles in December came during the Roman Saturnalia festival where tall tapers of wax presented to Saturn and given as gifts. were offered to Saturn as a symbol of his light and also given as a gift to guests. Jews may have absorbed the pagan tradition of candles for Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.
  • Christmas carols come from folk solstice songs. Oliver Cromwell tried to eradicate the songs during his reign in the mid-seventeenth century but failed because people sang them in secret. The Victorian era rediscovered them, and Christians wrote new ones.
  • Santa Claus may have come from the pagan god Odin, a tubby old man with a long white beard and flowing cloak. Others trace him to Nicholas, born almost 1800 years ago in a small town in Greece which has been subsumed by Turkey. A devout Christian whose parents died in an epidemic while Nicholas was young, followed Jesus’s teaching to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor.” He used his inheritance to help needy people who suffered from sickness and poverty, a far cry from the greed displayed today that rewards large corporations with billions of dollars. People didn’t exchange gifts at Christmas until Queen Victoria started the practice in 1850.

The Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva, “Mary on Top of Minerva,” is an Italian church dating back to 1280 when Christians built it on top of a temple to Minerva, the pagan goddess of wisdom, medicine, and war. A namesake for this goddess is Professor Minerva McGonagall of Hogwarts.

This morning I read a column from conservative Paul Greenberg about the wonderful “Christmas spirit” causing people to do kind things for others. Why don’t Christmas believers follow the teachings of Jesus and perform kind acts throughout the year instead of confining their generosity to a few days between Thanksgiving and Christmas? And stop bashing everyone who doesn’t use the “Christian” terminology or who doesn’t follow their faith?

“Christmas” and Winter Solstice are a time to bring back the light, a time to consider enlightenment instead of darkness. The Age of Enlightenment during the 18th century was a movement to center ideas on reason instead of dogma. It was a time when governments moved toward liberty, tolerance, science, constitutional government,  and separation of church and state. The American Revolution was founded on freedom and questioning of religious orthodoxy, an opposite philosophy to the conservatives’ anti-science, anti-reason, anti-freedom anti-tolerant, anti-constitutional beliefs in the 21st century.

The motto of the Enlightenment was “Sapere aude – Dare to know.” Founding fathers such as Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson helped incorporate these enlightened values into government leadership. It’s time for these ideas to return. We need a new “Age of Enlightenment” to free us from these dark ages.

Happy holidays and dive into the new year by joining the search for a return to enlightenment during the 21st century!

December 24, 2016

Happy Hanukkah!

Today, the United States is being taken over by an insecure, anger-ridden megalomaniac who rose to power through lies and election assistance from a foreign country. He’s already using his position for personal financial gain and nominating federal officials who will help him create further poverty and deprivation for 99.99 percent of the people in the nation. His opposition to any press that he doesn’t control violates the First Amendment, and his plan to stop any protests against him violates the constitutional right of assembly. Democracy as people in the United States is in great danger.

Today is also the first of an eight-day Jewish celebration for the defeat of an insecure narcissist ruler, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, known for his excessively extravagant display of riches and cruelty over two millennia ago. Initially appearing congenial toward his subjects, he felt contempt for them and sold political positions to benefit only the wealthiest in the country. His quick anger earned him the nickname of “madman.” After he forced the Jewish people in his kingdom, which included Judea, to follow the country’s primary religion and culture, Judah Maccabee and his followers revolted. Through their skill and knowledge, they took back their freedom from Antiochus and showed that a minority can fight back against a repressive regime through intelligence and the ability to work together. The exact date of this Jewish festival of lights changes each year because it is tied to the lunar Hebrew calendar.

Last week, Michele and Barack Obama hosted their last Hanukkah party at the White House. His observations about the event demonstrate the articulate graciousness of the current President of the United States at a time when non-Christians are targeted by hatred and bigotry. I will miss President Obama and his leadership in the coming years.

“Today in the White House, as you will soon do in your homes, we recall Hanukkah’s many lessons: How a small group can make a big difference. That’s the story of the Maccabees’ unlikely military victory, and of great moral movements around the globe and across time. How a little bit can go a long way, like the small measure of oil that outlasted every expectation. It reminds us that even when our resources seem limited, our faith can help us make the most of what little we have. The small State of Israel and the relatively small Jewish population of this country have punched far above their weight in their contributions to the world. So the Festival of Lights is also a reminder of how Isaiah saw the Jewish people, as a light unto the nations.

“This is the season that we appreciate the many miracles, large and small, that have graced our lives throughout generations, and to recognize that the most meaningful among them is our freedom. The first chapter of the Hanukkah story was written 22 centuries ago, when rulers banned religious rituals and persecuted Jews who dared to observe their faith. Which is why today we are asked not only to light the menorah, but to proudly display it—to publicize the mitzvah. And that’s why we’ve invited all these reporters who are here.

“Everybody in America can understand the spirit of this tradition. Proudly practicing our religion, whatever it might be—and defending the rights of others to do the same—that’s our common creed. That’s what families from coast to coast confirm when they place their menorah in the window—not to share the candles’ glow with just your family, but also with your community and with your neighbors.

“The story of Hanukkah, the story of the Jewish people, the story of perseverance—these are one and the same. Elie Wiesel taught us that lesson probably better than just about anybody. In one of his memories of the Holocaust, Elie watched a fellow prisoner trade his daily ration of bread for some simple materials with which to piece together a makeshift menorah. And he wrote that he couldn’t believe the sacrifices this man was making to observe the holidays. A stunned Elie asked him, “Hanukkah in Auschwitz?” And the man replied, “Especially in Auschwitz. The world lost my friend, Elie Wiesel, this year. We lost a keeper of our collective conscience….

“Through centuries of exile and persecution, and even the genocide of families like the Wiesels endured, the Hanukkah candles have been kindled. Each wick an answer to the wicked. Each light a signal to the world that yours is an inextinguishable faith.

“Jewish leaders from the Maccabees to the Wiesels, to the college students who proudly sing Hebrew songs on campus, reaffirm our belief that light still drives out darkness, and freedom still needs fighters.

“As many of you know, the name ‘Hanukkah’ comes from the Hebrew word for ‘dedication.’ So we want to thank you again for your dedication to our country, to the historic progress that we’ve made, to the defense of religious freedom in the United States and around the world.”

A video of President Obama giving these comments is here.

Fomented by Steve Bannon’s Breitbart.com, much has been said in the conservative media about the president’s “stabbing Israel in the back” by abstaining from the UN resolution to keep further encroachment into Palestine’s West Bank by Israel. Hillel Schenker wrote this in the Times of Israel:

“Thank you President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. And thank you New Zealand, Senegal, Venezuela and Malaysia for moving forward with the resolution.  And thank you Egypt for drafting the resolution. The passing of yesterday’s UN Security Resolution on the settlements is the best Hanukkah gift you could have given to the people of Israel, and it provides a glimmer of light on the horizon amidst the current darkness.  It reaffirms the international commitment to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based upon a two-state solution, the only realistic solution to the conflict that can provide security and peace to both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples.”

Schenker explains that, as the resolution states, “the status quo is not sustainable.” He also agrees with U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power who said that continued settlement building “undermines” Israel’s own security. Schenker pointed out an appreciation from many Israelis who understand that “it was done in the spirit of Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948”:

“THE STATE OF ISRAEL … will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The Declaration also requires that Israel “extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples” and “do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.” It added that Israel will “cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947.”

The resolution passed with a 14-0 vote after the U.S. abstained. It states that Israel’s settlements on Palestinian territory since 1967 are not legal and calls for a stop to “all Israeli settlement activities.” At this time, almost a half million from Israeli have claimed ownership of Palestine land and another 200,000 live in east Jerusalem, the area that Palestinians view as their capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to stop the vote with an appeal to Donald Trump (DT), who will not be U.S. president until January 20, 2017. DT also contacted Egypt, asking them to delay the vote indefinitely although he has no legal right to control the current president’s foreign policy. Egypt did so, but four other countries sponsored it.

With strongly pro-settlement David Friedman as his pick for the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, DT is following his plan to move the nation’s embassy to Jerusalem, an act which should instead be determined by peace talks. At this time, DT doesn’t understand—or refuses to accept—that the United States has only one president at a time as he continues his thrust to support far-right Israelis in their journey toward creating strength that diminishes the power of oil-producing companies in the Middle East. In this way, DT can both win back evangelical Christian support and join Israel to take over oil fields.

As people have said about the next four years, “It’s going to be a bumpy ride.” Meanwhile we can appreciate President Obama’s last four weeks in supporting the people of the United States. Happy Hanukkah!

December 23, 2016

Trump’s Cabinet Goal to Destroy the Planet

World leaders gathered in Paris one year ago to adopt the most progressive climate change agreement ever parlayed. The consensus was a rejection of climate denial. There is universal agreement that global temperatures are increasing at an alarming rate, sea levels are rising to cause great damage to low-lying cities, and greenhouse gases. The result is melting Arctic sea ice and permafrost with declining spring snow cover.

In a jarring repudiation of the Paris Agreement, Donald Trump has collected a terrifying compilation of climate deniers, beginning with the man employed to work with countries around the world, Rex Tillerson who spent the last 40 years helping ExxonMobil rape the world in its obsession with removing fossil fuels.

scott-pruittOklahoma AG Scott Pruitt, nominated as head of the EPA, is 100 percent opposed to federal regulations concerning air and water pollution that were created from laws such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act passed in the 1970s. As Oklahoma’s top prosecutor, he has led or joined state lawsuits to block almost every major regulation from President Obama’s EPA, including a lawsuit in support of mercury pollution from coal plants. That and his other lawsuit to keep smog pollution crossing state lines both failed. He is currently suing to block EPA efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, proving a conflict of interest for his confirmation.

Pruitt falsely claims that fracking doesn’t contaminate water supplies or cause the vastly increased number of earthquakes in his state. The fossil fuel industry has given him almost $315,000 for his opposition to clean air and water. Pruitt would help DT return to an era before the 1970s, when the EPA was created by President Richard Nixon—a time when health alerts urging people to stay indoors and move as little as possible because of choking smog was common in major cities. In addition to his anti-environment protection stance, Pruitt created a “federalism unit” in his office to fight current policies on immigration, health care, and finance reform.

rick-perryRick Perry, back from being fired from Dancing with the Stars, has been nominated to head up the Department of Energy, the agency that he would have eliminated if he could just have remembered its name during his 2012 campaign for president. GOP Senate leaders leadership don’t even know the purpose of this department. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) praised the choice because Perry’s Texas has lots of oil, but the Department of Energy has nothing to do with overseeing oil, gas, and coal development. That’s the responsibility of the Department of the Interior. Sixty percent of the Energy Department’s responsibility is overseeing the country’s nuclear arsenals that DT plans to “expand.” The National Nuclear Security Administration has a proposed budget of $12.9 billion, and the last two energy secretaries were MIT-educated physicists. Perry took four chemistry courses and got two Cs, a D, and an F; he also scored a C in physics and a D in “Meat.”

The Energy secretary is also in charge of the department’s loan program which started the photovoltaic industry and was responsible for Tesla. This R&D is vital to keep the nation competitive in a technology race, especially with India far ahead of the U.S., but DT already promised to stop research on solar, wind, efficiency, batteries, clean cars, and climate science. Perry also is on the boards of Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners, two firms responsible for the pipeline that people at Standing Rock Reservation successfully fought—at least temporarily.

ryan-zinkeRep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), nominated for the Secretary of the Interior, would be responsible for oil if he were confirmed. He loves the idea of drilling in all the national parks, approves of coal leasing on federal land, opposes safeguards for temporary wetlands and intermittent streams, and voted for a bill to transfer millions of acres of national forest lands to states. Climate change is “not proven science,” according to Zinke.

Conservationists have said that Zinke believes “that government welfare handouts can save dying coal companies and crumbling oil and gas giants” and that his “brief political career has been substantially devoted to attacking endangered species and the Endangered Species Act.” During his 2014 campaign for Congress, he described Hillary Clinton as “the real enemy” and “the Antichrist.” Zinke’s nomination adds to the DT’s military contingent. A Navy Seal for 30 years, his congressional website logo refers to him “Commander,” adding to DT’s military contingent in the Cabinet.  At least he studied geology as an undergraduate at the University of Oregon—over 30 years ago.

DT’s advisors hope to privatize Native American reservations, the two percent of land in the U.S. that contains 20 percent of the nation’s oil and gas as well as huge coal reserves, all worth $1.5 trillion, and Zinke may be the man to follow through with these plans. The proposal fails to consider over a century of U.S. policy that preserves Indian tribes on federal reservations government as sovereign nations by tribal leaders.

Native Americans have reported on Zinke’s efforts to circumvent and eliminate the Endangered Species Act limitations. He also opposes attempts to crack down on the black market ivory trade and supports aerial gunning, baiting grizzly bears, and the use of steel-jawed leg traps. The NRA describes Zinke as an “avid” trophy hunter. He beat out Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) because DT, Jr., who sat in on the interviews, wanted a hunter like himself for the job. One headline described Trump’s two sons, Jr. and Eric, as “Awesome at Killing Elephants And Other Wildlife” during their African safaris.

Beyond Zinke’s determination to destroy public lands is his ultra-conservative political views. Donations to his campaign from white supremacists and Zinke’s endorsement for them in political races shows his ties to the neo-Confederate group that inspired Dylann Roof, the man who is guilty of killing nine worshippers in a Charleston (SC) church. He co-sponsored legislation to designate English as the official language in the U.S., and he discussed the bill in an interview with the anti-immigrant  ProEnglish organization, designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He endorsed state legislative candidate Taylor Rose, who has close ties with the European right-wing extremist Youth for Western Civilization. Richard Spencer, head of the racist National Policy Institute, may run for Zinke’s vacated congressional seat—if he gets confirmed—and the state GOP party has yet to denounce Spencer.

Zinke’s state newspaper opposes the representative on a number of issues. He’s been accused of helping coal companies that donate to his campaign fleece taxpayers because of loophole to sell to subsidiaries at artificially depressed prices. He ran on a platform of clean energy and climate change in 2010 and then reversed his opinion, taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil and gas industry. His fundraising materials suggested he participated in the killing of Osama bin Laden although he retired from the military three years before that even. The Department of Defense told him to stop using the SEAL insignia on his campaign materials. One of his constituents wrote that he could no longer support Zinke because he now sees him as “an unprincipled, self-glorifying, dangerously cynical phony.” Ryan Zinke will fit right in with Donald Trump.

nikki-haleySouth Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), nominated as ambassador to the United Nations, has kept a low profile with her lack of foreign policy experience. Yet she buried a report from her state Department of Natural Resources on the severe problems that climate change brings to her state. After a 2015 flood killed 16 people in South Carolina and caused billions of dollars of damage, she refused to make any connection between the disaster and climate change. The terrifying encroachment of five feet of the sea level onto the South Carolina coast in the next three decades will be replicated around the world.

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 21:  King Felipe VI of Spain (not picture) receives Mr. Andrew N. Liveris, President of Dow Chemical Company at Zarzuela Palace on May 21, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images)

The Cabinet is not the only place DT is stuffing with anti-world representatives, Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical who brought the planet Napalm, Agent Orange, Chlorpyrifos, 2,4-D, and GMO crops, will head up the American Manufacturing Council, a private sector group that advises the U.S. secretary of commerce. Last September, Breitbart criticized the Clintons for being friends with Liveris. but made no comment about DT’s selection of Liveris for his team.

The only victory against DT’s determination to destroy the climate was the questionnaire that his transition team sent to the Department of Energy demanding names of people who worked on blocking greenhouse emissions. The DOE refused, and scientists are taking steps to preserve decades of climate data on independent servers so that the DT administration does not erase it.

The Wayback Machine, an internet archive of hundreds of billions of web pages no longer active, is copying its 20 years of material to Canada. During the Third Reich in Germany, the Nazis could burn books to destroy information. Computers make this obliteration much more difficult. Future generations will be able to trace the corruption and fraud of the DT administration.

December 22, 2016

Trump’s Cabinet: Follow the Money

Remember when Donald Trump (DT) accused of Hillary Clinton being owned by Wall Street? When he told his audiences that he would stop control by special interests? The election is over, he’s won, and he can do whatever he wants. The populists who voted for him can now watch him fill his Cabinet with “gazillionaires,” and the money guys are all from Wall Street—mostly from the failed Goldman Sachs, the “architect” of George W. Bush’s recession. Goldman Sachs is taking over the White House with political czar Steve Bannon, transition advisor Anthony Scarmucci, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and Gary Cohn.

Running against Ted Cruz, DT said, “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over (Cruz). Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.” A DT campaign ad showed images of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, and the narrator calls about “a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” As Sarah Palin said, DT is now surrounding himself with “crony capitalists,” whose goals are greater income inequality, poverty, offshoring, and—in the case of Ben Carson—homelessness.

Con man DT used his voters for marks so he can give the government to the top 0.01 percent, people born into wealth and privilege.

steve-mnuchinSteve Mnuchin’s self-serving policy priorities include more leniency for hedge funds through financial deregulation, greater tax cuts for the wealthiest people though tax reform, and reviews of trade agreements. He has no support for reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, separating commercial banks from speculative investment banks, after the law’s repeal in the 1990s led to the Great Recession of George W. Bush. The nominee for Secretary of Treasury was known for his “foreclosure machine” specialized in dispossessing the elderly and people of color, including a 90-year-old woman over a 27-cent error.

Mnuchin’s company, OneWest, foreclosed on 36,000 homes using robo-signing, a process of employees’ signing foreclosure documents without reviewing them. After the bank became mired in lawsuits, Mnuchin sold it for $3.4 billion in August 2015.  He made another $50 million by resigning from a media company two months before it filed for bankruptcy and then getting preferential payouts. Another $3.2 million came from the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme; he avoided repaying victims because his lawyers convinced a judge that too much time had passed before he got caught.

Steve Mnuchin was chief fundraiser for DT, raising millions of dollars for his campaign.

Goldman Sachs COO Gary Cohn talks on the phone as he waits for the start of a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Gary Cohn, Goldman Sachs president/COO and key architect of the 2008 financial crisis, has been named to head the National Economic Council which advises the president on economic policy. As the U.S. economy began to crash from mis-selling of banks’ risky assets and the excessive distribution of sub-prime mortgages leading to massive foreclosures, banks crashed because of consumer defaults. Cohn’s Goldman Sachs lost billions of dollars during the crisis that President Obama had to clean up, and the residential mortgage business, expanded by Gary Cohn, lost $1.2 billion of those losses. He apologized to Congress in 2010 for bad planning, but he personally earned over $60 million, not including shares, stock options, etc., between 2012 and 2015. DT has openly supported the housing crisis because he made money picking over the wreckage. Cohn laments the regulations created since 2008; this is his chance to give DT a gift of huge profits in a housing crisis that he could cause—again. Cohn’s position doesn’t require Congressional confirmation.

wilbur-rossWilbur Ross, another billionaire private equity investor, is DT’s nominee for Secretary of Commerce. He opposes regulations for businesses although 12 miners lost their lives in his coal mine after his company ignored repeated federal safety citations. When DT called his administration “the last shot for the miners,” he may have meant that literally.

Known as “the king of bankruptcy,” Ross specializes in flipping bankrupt companies for profit and selling them to overseas investors, often offshoring jobs and factories. After he purchased these companies, he moved $6.4 billion of their employee pension benefits to the rescue fund of the government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation so he could make company financials look better. He made $267 million for his involvement in the steel industry during the early 2000s; retired steelworkers lost their pensions and health care. In 2010, the China Investment Corporation, one of the country’s state-owned enterprises, put $500 million in Ross’ private equity fund. Ross’ part in foreclosures came from buying the second-largest servicer of subprime loans in the United States, American Home Mortgage Servicing.

mike-mulvaneyRep. Mick Mulvaney (SC), nominated as Secretary for the Office of Management and Budget, may be one of the scariest picks—and that’s saying a great deal! As the White House budget chief, the man who came to the House in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and helped create their Freedom Caucus, claims that the new administration will “restore budgetary and fiscal sanity back in Washington.”

Mulvaney’s definition of “sanity” is debatable. He helped lead the charge to close down the government in October 2013 and celebrated the event as “good policy.” Two years earlier, he championed the conservatives’ goal to push the nation into default during the debt-ceiling extortion. He argues that default and undermining the full faith and credit of the nation aren’t a problem. The next debt-ceiling crisis is March 2017, less than two months after DT’s inauguration and the same time as the budget deadline, postponed from last month. Congressional members seem to equate the two, but they are opposite: budgets are future spending whereas debts (including the raising the ceiling) means making payments on loans, not new spending. Mulvaney may not have read Section 4 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that reads that the “validity of the public debt of the United States . . . shall not be questioned.”

A strong supporter of a constitutional amendment that would force the federal government to maintain a balanced budget, Mulvaney’s priorities are defense first, followed by cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Mulvaney doesn’t believe in spending money for infrastructure or scientific research. That may be why DT has now said that he won’t enact his big plans for massive infrastructure projects “for a few years.” His excuse is that he didn’t know that the GOP is a party of small government.

In budget negotiations, Mulvaney makes the assumption that responsible Democrats want to protect people, and he’s doesn’t care about people. He said:

“I’ll play chicken with you every time. You think I am crazy, and I know you are not.”

His preference for currency is the bitcoin, digital currency easily erased and stolen, that is “not manipulatable by any government.” In a speech to the John Birch Society, he attacked the Federal Reserve because its actions have “effectively devalued the dollar” and “choke[d] off economic growth.” A reminder of the craziness of the John Birch Society is its claim that President Dwight Eisenhower was “a conscious agent of the communist conspiracy.” The Society believes that the Federal Reserve should be abolished because it’s unconstitutional and that “the only constitutional money is gold and silver coin.” For almost half a century, Republicans avoided the John Birch Society. Now it’s moving into the White House with the white supremacists.

ben-carsonBen Carson, nominated for Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, follows the policy of wiping out the mission of the agency he might head. Despite HUD’s goal of “affirmatively furthering fair housing” from the 1968 Fair Housing Act, Carson said that “government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality create consequences that often make matters worse.” He compared the regulations to Communism and says that “poverty is a choice.” Public housing could be made unavailable to LGBTQ people because of Carson’s hatred for them. He blamed “mass killings” on same-gender marriage and compared same-gender couples to child molesters and people who practice bestiality.

Unlike his predecessors, Carson has no experience in housing or urban development and will resegregate neighborhoods. Despite proof that minorities are charged higher fees and rates than white borrowers with the same qualifications, Carson wants to weaken the Fair Housing Act because he considers it as “socialist experiments.” Carson’s confirmation would be a great financial boon to banks. What Carson could do to poor people with the help of a GOP Congress: put unfair requirements on assistance recipients; privatize public housing; abandon Obama’s anti-discrimination and housing integration efforts; slash spending; drop climate resiliency efforts; and neglect smart growth.

Businessman and investor Carl Icahn at a news conference where Lyft announced a partnership with the Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Kuaidi, in New York, Sept. 16, 2015. The partnership with China?s preeminent ride-hailing company will allow San-Francisco-based Lyft to operate in China for the first time. (Stephen Yang/The New York Times)

(Stephen Yang/The New York Times)

Carl Icahn, DT’s latest billionaire, will be acting in an “individual” capacity as “Special Advisor to the President on Regulatory Reform” instead of as a federal employee. That means Icahn has no reporting or confirmation requirements, answering only to Trump, and can keep all his money, achieving an unheard-of level of conflict of interest. Worth $20 billion, he can enhance his personal investments by picking the next chair for the Securities and Exchange Commission and help his oil refinery company by picking the next EPA administrator. Icahn has never seen a regulation that he didn’t want to get rid of, but he says that he has no conflict of interest because he won’t be “making any policy.”

DT’s picks for the Cabinet have already made billions by the loose regulation of the federal government. If confirmed, they will be able to enact more deregulation and enjoy far more private gain. After all, the GOP is a part of small government. Only the bottom 99.99 of people in the nation—60+ million of them DT voters—will suffer.

December 21, 2016

Trump’s Warrior-General Coup

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:00 PM
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Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) made an apt description of Donald Trump’s (DT) cabinet selections when she said he has “a three ‘G’ Cabinet,” filled with “Goldman, generals, and gazillionaires.” The United States was founded on a principle of civilian control over military might, but DT has decided to select hawks for “civilian” advisors. Third-world countries come to mind.

The National Security Act of 1947 requires that the secretary of defense be appointed “from civilian life” by the president. The law mandates a grace period of ten years before an active duty officer can hold the post  although Congress reduced the time to seven years in 2008. Yet DT is attempting to surround himself with uniforms and medals.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04:  Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testifies during a hearing before the House (Select) Intelligence Committee February 4, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing to examine threats to the U.S. from all around the world.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

 (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will be DT’s National Security Adviser because this position does not require confirmation. Even the conservative Accuracy in Media disapproves of Flynn because of his close connections to the Russians—working for their propaganda machine and being paid for speaking at a gala dinner for the state-owned media company where he sat next to Vladimir Putin. In that speech he lauded the calls to lock up DT’s opponent in jail and demanded that “Crooked Hillary Clinton” drop out of the campaign. While Flynn accompanied DT to classified briefings, his personal firm was lobbying for foreign interests. To Flynn, all Muslims are evil, and police brutality is good.

During DT’s campaign, Flynn interacted with white supremacists, shared fake news stories, and pushed Islamphobia, calling the religion of 1.6 billion people “a cancer.” He also called the Muslim world an “epic failure” compared to “the superiority of the West.” He tweeted a false story claiming that NYPD found information on Anthony Weiner’s laptop that would ” put Hillary (Clinton) and her crew away for life.” Before that, he linked a tweet to one lying about Clinton “wearing hijab in solidarity with islamic terrorists,” using a 2009 photo of Clinton respectfully wearing the head covering in a visit to a mosque. Another link purported that an Iranian scientist may have been executed because he was exposed to Clinton’s email server.

Last August, Flynn claimed to have seen photos of Arabic signs along the U.S./Mexico border to guide potential state-sponsored terrorists and “radicalized Muslims” into the United States. No one else has seen these signs. Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., was removed from DT’s transition team after tweeting his continued support of the “fake news” conspiracy theory that led a North Carolina man shooting in a Washington, D.C. pizzeria because Flynn and others accused the place of being a child trafficking front for Clinton, leading a man coming from North Carolina to shoot a gun at patrons in a misguided attempt to rescue the children.

Flynn “inappropriately shared” classified information with foreign military officers in 2010, but the case against him was dismissed as insignificant. Former U.S. officials said that he was accused of telling Pakistani officials what other agencies, including the CIA, were doing in Afghanistan. He claimed that he had permission, but Army documents state that he did not. Flynn was a leader of the “lock her up” movement against Hillary Clinton for mishandling sensitive information.

In 2014, Flynn was fired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. While he was at the Pentagon, his employees described his similarity to Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny and referred to his assertions with no factual basis “Flynn facts.”

Flynn suffers from several conflicts of interest. His business, started after he was fired from the government, has ties to the Turkish government, helpful to Flynn when he sat in on DT’s classified briefings. He was re-elected to a paid position on the board of a surveillance drone company that has Department of Defense contracts, a company that came from a business represented by Donald Trump, Jr. until 2014. Flynn’s company employs senior executives whose firms have federal contracts.

Flynn is rapidly losing his support for the position. For example, former Gen. Barry McCaffrey initially endorsed Flynn for the position, but that was before he learned more about Flynn’s statements on social media. McCaffrey said that Flynn’s tweets “border on being demented.” He called on people to “aggressively examine what was going on with Gen. Flynn and his son.”

Lacking the need to be confirmed, Flynn continues his white supremacist activities. Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of a far-right Austrian political party founded by ex-Nazis, met with Flynn at Trump Tower earlier this month. Strache claimed that his “Freedom Party continues to gain in influence,” but his candidate for president of Austria lost the run-off this month. The party did sign a “cooperation agreement” with Vladimir Putin’s Russian political party, laying out a five-year plan for regular meetings and joint projects.

If you’re not already terrified by Michael Flynn in this position, read this analysis by Jonathan Chait. And remember that DT is getting his “intelligence” briefings from Flynn instead of professionals in the federal government.

Flynn’s chief of staff, Army retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, served as chief operations officer for the mismanaged U.S. military occupation of Iraq after Baghdad fell in 2003. Like his colleagues, he made a fortune from connections with defense-related industries after he left the military.

President-elect Donald Trump talks to media as he stands with retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, right, at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J.. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Flynn will get hawkish company from John Kelly, a retired Marine nominated to head the civilian agency Department of Security. While overseeing Guantanamo Bay, he rigorously defended mass torture and and said that they are all “bad boys.” He doesn’t care that the majority of these “bad boys” have been unanimously cleared for release by all relevant government agencies.

In 2014, human rights organizations criticized Kelly for using allocations to reduce inequality in Central America for his militarization, violence, and displacement. Kelly now calls on escalating the domestic “war on drugs,” claiming that the growing legalization of marijuana in the United States threatens U.S. foreign policy objectives in Latin America. After he received the nomination, he said that the people voted to “put a stop to political correctness that for too long has dictated our approach to national security.” One of the largest jailers in the U.S. government, the DHS oversees “efforts to counter terrorism and enhance security, secure and manage our borders while facilitating trade and travel, enforce and administer our immigration laws, safeguard and secure cyberspace, build resilience to disasters, and provide essential support for national and economic security—in coordination with federal, state, local, international and private sector partners.” Kelly opposed opening combat positions to qualified servicewomen because, according to Kelly, it leads to lower standards.

Kelly’s deputy almost matches Michael Flynn in looniness.  K.R. McFarland got this job by making friends with Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. at the Fox network. DT had already seen her on TV. She likes torture and agrees with Kelly that failing to profile Muslims is “political correctness.” McFarland’s 2011 telephone conversation with Gen. David Petraeus in Afghanistan suggests collusion between the Fox network and the general, including a message from Roger Ailes that he and Rupert Murdoch wanted Petraeus to run for president. (Petraeus, convicted of giving out classified information, was considered for DT’s Secretary of State.)

As a GOP primary candidate for Hillary Clinton’s seat in 2006, McFarland claimed that Clinton’s fear of her drove the successful senator to keep her under surveillance by flying helicopters over McFarland’s house. She said that if voters don’t “throw the bums out,” people “can all start learning Chinese.” (Considering her boss’s closeness to Russia, she may have merely cited the wrong language. She is convinced that Clinton is responsible for the deaths at Benghazi. Her new job requires skill at analysis and synthesis of information without prejudice or bias.

james-mattisJames Mattis, nominee for the Secretary of Defense, sounds downright reasonable because he’s isn’t crazy. Yet he came by his nickname, “Mad Dog,” honestly. He lost his position as head of U.S. Central Command because of his hawkish stance toward Iran. The removal led to his forced retirement in 2013. Mattis has also been accused of war crimes for the aggressive tactics he oversaw in Iraq as commanding general of the 1st Marine Division during the Battle of Fallujah in 2004. DT, fond of  Mattis’ “Mad Dog” nickname, said that the retired general is “the closest thing to Gen. George Patton that we have,” probably because he thinks they look alike. Looks are all important to DT.

DT’s picks, all losing generals, direct the nation back into the era of the medieval Crusades as perfect Christians declare war to eliminate the evil Muslims. Noam Chomsky said it best: Trump’s position is “vulgar imperialism masked by a fraudulent concern for the working people and the middle class.” The entire interview is well worth reading.

December 20, 2016

Trump’s Monsters for Cabinet Positions

Halloween came eight days late this year when Donald Trump (DT) was elected president of the United States on November 8. His selection began a parade of monsters, the like of which has not ever been seen in the Cabinet and other high federal government officials. It’s as if DT was thinking, “How much do I hate the people in the nation? Let me count the ways?” For the past month he has dribbled out names, each one more of a shock, as he uses the government as his personal toy. All his nominees for agency directors are diametrically opposed to the missions of the organizations that they would lead. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said, “Personnel is policy,” and evidenced by DT’s selections, he loves these policies:

Racism, Voter Oppression, Climate Denial—the List of Civil Wrongs Goes On and On:

jeff-sessionsSen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama is DT’s nominee for Attorney General, the person designated to protect legal rights for all the people of the United States through the Department of Justice. He may be the worst choice among all the DT nominees to be confirmed. (Michael Flynn doesn’t require confirmation for his position of Homeland Security Advisor.) It’s been 30 years since the Senate determined that Sessions was unfit to be a federal judge because of his outrageous racist comments, such as calling a black assistant U.S. attorney “boy” and the NAACP “communist inspired.” Yet his xenophobia continues into the 21st century as Sessions calls for mass deportations of undocumented immigrants and connects terror attacks against the U.S. to all Muslim immigrant families. He may also have been the architect of DT’s wall idea and thinks that people born in the United States of foreign parents should not be citizens.

Sessions also opposes voting and LGBTQ rights and is  virulently anti-marijuana—now legal at least for medical purposes in over half the states. Just two years ago, Sessions said, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Last year, he claimed that carbon dioxide is “plant food” and “not a pollutant” and accused White House  Science Advisor John Holdren of advancing a “political agenda” in explaining links between climate change and weather events such as droughts. His votes support pipelines, kill clean energy tax credits, and block the EPA. This is the man who would determine how the law of the country is interpreted and enforced.

Illness and Death:

tompriceTom Price, nominated for Secretary of Health and Human Services, wrote the bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act including the elimination of Medicaid, arguing that the health care “removes the very freedom and liberty that our founders fought for at its very core.” His plan is to privatize (aka get rid of) Medicare by this coming summer, reducing the “vouchers” to where insurance premiums will cost more than Social Security payments. Another Price goal is to decimate Medicaid by drastically cutting funding. Price also opposes paying doctors “based on quality and outcome.” He believes that the First Amendment lets employers refuse birth control to women and supports defunding Planned Parenthood and eliminating abortion. Sessions also sided with BP during its horrendous oil spill, helped create the congressional Tea Party Caucus, and is totally anti-LGBTQ.

Stupidity and Ignorance:

betsy-devosBetsy DeVos as Secretary of Education would wipe out public education through taxpayer vouchers to charter and private schools. Corporations will make a fortune in operating schools with no regulations, a curriculum that promotes religion, and minimum-wage teachers. DeVos, whose money comes from the Amway Ponzi scheme, joins Bill & Melinda Gates, Eli & Edythe Broad, and the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame to control educational policies in the nation. She is pro-creationism, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-science in her belief that global warming is a hoax.

Despite continued research showing charter school failures in many states, the DeVos “leadership” will continue the GOP dismantling of “government schools” to use taxpayer moneys for religious private schools. DeVos has compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to “advance God’s Kingdom.” Lamenting that public schools have “displaced” the church as the center of communities, she says that school choice leads to “greater Kingdom gain.” DeVos and her husband have put hundreds of millions of dollars toward that end.

DeVos’ brother, ex-Navy SEAL Erik Prince, founded the controversial private security contractor Blackwater (now known as Academi) and made considerable donations to first Ted Cruz and later DT. As a lobbyist with no educational experience except attending private schools, DeVos destroyed the schools in Michigan; now she has the same plan for the entire United States.

Fewer Jobs, Lower wages and No Worker Protection:

Andrew Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc., listens during a panel discussion at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Monday, April 30, 2012. The conference brings together hundreds of chief executive officers, senior government officials and leading figures in the global capital markets for discussions on social, political and economic challenges. Photographer: Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants that includes Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., has been nominated for Labor Secretary. He opposes raising the minimum wage and wants to automate service jobs to have fewer workers. (Note that Puzder is the choice of the candidate who swore he would give his voters more and better jobs.) Puzder also wants to cut assistance programs and use franchises to avoid paying benefits. His own employees get the lowest wages in the nation and are forced to use taxpayer money to survive. The fast food lobby is ecstatic: International Franchise Association President and CEO Robert Cresanti is looking forward to reducing the number of workers eligible for overtime pay and elimination of accountability for labor law violations at their franchises.

In 2004, Puzder settled three class-action lawsuits about overtime pay against his company for $9 million. A lawsuit against his company in 2013 for not paying managers overtime is still pending, and Puzder said in 2014 that his company had spent $20 million on labor lawsuits in the previous eight years. In another arena, Puzder was accused of domestic abuse by his first wife; police were called to their home at least twice.

Over 100 years ago, the Department of Labor was created “to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States, to improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment.” Now it will support the wealthy—and the robots.

Like DT, Puzder would suffer from massive conflict of interest because he would run the agency in charge of investigating employees—lime himself—for labor violations. The couple are also top-notch misogynists.  One of Puzder’s commercials is here.

puzder-philosophy

Lack of Transportation:

elaine-chaoElaine Chao, wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell (R-KY) and former Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush, is DT’s nominee for the Department of Transportation. She has already shown her undying allegiance to business interests over enforcing laws to protect U.S. workers by mistreatment of workers in an epidemic of illegal salary underpayment as employers stole workers’ wages, identified by reports from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO). Chao also faked records to make her wage and hour office look better at resolving cases than it was in reality. She was also on the board of Wells Fargo when it scammed its customers for $2.4 million but stayed silent when former CEO John Stumpf quit after congressional hearings. If she is confirmed, Chao will oversee over three times the number of employees who report to the Labor Secretary and be responsible for the safety of roads, airplanes, and rails.

Rep. Bill Shuster, head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has said that DT likes the idea of privatizing air traffic control, a disaster ever since President Reagan eliminated its union and banned over 11,000 former employees from federal service for life early in his first term. Another possibility is privatizing airport security. (It might be noted that McConnell was adamant about not telling the people of the U.S. that Russia was exerting deliberate control over the 2016 presidential election. Chao’s nomination may be his reward.) Drone and driverless car industries would be delighted with Chao in this position because of her reputation for loose regulations.

The Disappearance of Small Businesses: 

linda-mcmahonLinda McMahon, the former World Wrestling Entertainment chief executive, has been nominated for Secretary of the Small Business Administration. With her reputation for crushing smaller competitors to achieve success, she’s another choice that opposes the agency mission. When she and her husband, Vince, took over WWE from Vince’s father, it was already a sizable business controlling wrestling in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast region. Showing little concern for a pact keeping independent wrestling businesses out of each other’s territories, WWE moved in, destroyed the competition, and established a monopoly. She declares wrestlers “independent contractors” and avoids such requirements as providing health insurance. The Small Business Administration acts as an advocate for small businesses by running a large loan guarantee program for them, helping with disaster relief, and advising on issues such as health care regulations. Small business owners are worried about McMahon controlling the agency.

And there are more!

December 19, 2016

Rex Tillerson: Oil in Trump’s Swamp

Kakistocracy: a fine English term going back to 1829 that means government by the worst element of a society, a government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens. Forbes writer Michael Lewitt explains its usage: “Corrupt, dishonest and incompetent politicians, regulators and bureaucrats were put in charge by self-absorbed, selfish and ignorant citizens.” Trump cabinet nominees collectively have more wealth than a combined one-third of American households. They are the most conservative, very white, and very male with almost no experience. In addition, they resemble DT—egotistical, megalomaniacal, bumbling liars. The nation’s future government will be a blend of “nepotism, oligarchy, plutocracy, kleptocracy, demagoguery, alt-right values and a disturbing tendency toward fascist white nationalism.” (Quote from Sophia A. McClennen, professor of international affairs and comparative literature at Pennsylvania State University.)

The Electoral College has voted, and Donald Trump (DT) is now the formal president-elect of the United States. In building his kakistocracy, DT has appointed a number of inexperienced oligarchs for his cabinet. A series of postings on this blog will begin with Rex Tillerson, nominee for the Secretary of State.

rex-tillerson

AP Photo / Manuel Balce

tillerson-putinThe outrage against Tillerson from both Democrats and Republicans began with the nominee’s extremely close relationship with Vladimir Putin. Exxon missed the U.S. fracking boom and moved to the Russian and Arctic oil fields, perhaps 20 percent of the world’s untapped resource. Toward that end, the company signed deals between 2011 and 2013 with the Russian state-owned oil company, Rosneft, for exploration in the Black Sea, development of shale resources in western Siberia, and drilling in the Arctic. According to Rosneft, these areas could contain more oil than the Gulf of Mexico. The year after Tillerson and Exxon signed the deal with Rosneft, Russian president, Vladimir Putin gave the country’s Order of Friendship medal to Tillerson. (Above: Russia President Vladimir Putin (R) and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson (L) attend the signing of an agreement between Rosneft and ExxonMobil in the Black Sea port of Tuapse on June 15, 2012. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Exxon is so wealthy and powerful that it’s like a country of its own with its own foreign policy. Its pockets are deep, and it employs such Tillerson advocates as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Robert Gates. President Obama’s sanctions on Russia’s oil industry for its 2014 “participation” in the Ukraine and annexation of Crimea smashed Exxon’s dreams—until DT was elected last November. Russia needs Western expertise to drill in places such as the Arctic, and DT can give it to them.

Tillerson’s connection with Rosneft also connects him with oligarch Igor Ivanovich Sechin, head of the oil company. A close relationship with oligarchs from major world powers puts Tillerson into a position to set up his own U.S. oligarchy and what better place to do it than the White House. He has been open about his goals. Asked in March 2013 what he would do if he worked in the White House, he laughed and said, “My philosophy is to make money. If I can drill and make money, then that’s what I want to do.” His idea of international diplomacy—the Secretary of State’s job—is that it “is an enormous amount of interference with that process of discovery and perfection and improvement.”

Improvement to Tillerson doesn’t mean controlling global warming. Exploitation of the Russian and Arctic resources would vastly increase warming above four degrees, but he doesn’t worry about climate change. He has said, “To say that you’re addicted to oil and natural gas seems to me to say you’re addicted to economic growth.”

For almost the entire four decades of Tillerson’s tenure at Exxon, the company has lied about their awareness of catastrophic effects from climate change and spent millions of dollars to block any bills that address the problem. Forty years ago, the company took the problem of climate change seriously and developed programs to explore the issue. Within a few years, however, Exxon started dismantling its own climate change programs and moved on to suppress evidence, spread doubt about science, and block any action to control greenhouse gases. It also created the misnamed Global Climate Coalition to stop any government action to curb fossil fuel emissions.

By the beginning of the 21st century, Exxon used the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of corporations that writes measures for U.S. legislators, to block emissions control. Tillerson was CEO for 12 of those 17 years. In addition, Tillerson’s block of Exxon shareholders successfully opposed a measure from the Rockefeller family to expand the company’s investment in alternative energy sources.

Tillerson’s current position on climate change is that it’s merely an “engineering” issue because, he claims, people can adapt to anything. Asked about models of greenhouse gas concentrations, he replies that “models simply are not that good.” He has no answer for what to do if the sea levels surge and freshwater pulses into the ocean from a collapse in the West Antarctica.

Yet Tillerson’s egregious business dealings go much farther than just his pandering to the Russian government which recently arranged for the release of hacked emails in order to get Tillerson’s possible new boss elected to his leadership position of what people like to call the most powerful country in the world.

Many people are unaware that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating Tillerson and Exxon. Under his leadership, the company failed to accurately value its oil reserves in order to keep stocks high. A correct disclosure of its lower valuations would cost Exxon billions of dollars if the initiation of drilling is more costly from the “price of carbon” or regulations that force reductions to greenhouse gas emissions. With this high cost, Exxon might have to drop projects, and that shrinks its profitability. Even if Tillerson manages to get DT to leave the Paris climate accord, Exxon’s worldwide business may lose money because it does business with other countries that remain in the pact.

The SEC is also investigating the reason that Exxon does not record its reserves values when oil prices drop. The price of a barrel of oil dropped from $115 in 2014 to under $28 by last February, but that the company didn’t include that loss in future calculations. Fabricating future profits not based on fact is an act of securities fraud against investors.

DT as president would greatly benefit Exxon because the investigation could get stymied with Tillerson as Secretary of State. The SEC could also be remade with DT as president. Seven top officials, including chair Mary Jo White, have already resigned, and DT can appoint three new commissioners on the five-member panel. Whether Tillerson becomes Secretary or stays Exxon CEO, the oil company benefits. Last week DT referred to the free market as the “dumb market,” indicating that government should be in control, a total reversal of past GOP philosophy.

Another lawsuit plaguing Tillerson and Exxon accuses the company of discrimination against LGBTQ people in its hiring practices. ExxonMobil is the only corporation in history to get negative ratings on the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Index for lacking any protections for LGBTQ employees in 2012 and 2013. President Obama’s executive order barring federal contractors from anti-LGBT employment discrimination—probably to be soon revoked by DT—caused the company to adopt an LGBT non-discrimination policy, but the lawsuit is still pending. Exxon has received over $1 billion in federal contracts during the past decade.

Tillerson’s conflicts of interest are overwhelming. He personally owns at least $218 million in Exxon stock and holds a pension worth $70 million. At least he wouldn’t have to pay any taxes if he has to sell them for a Cabinet position because divesting stocks based on a potential conflict interest for this position is tax-free.

In another connection with Russia 20 years ago, Tillerson became a director  and then president of Exxon Neftegas, a US-Russian oil firm based in the tax haven of the Bahamas, a country with zero corporate taxes where Exxon has registered at least 67 companies. Exxon reported that Tillerson was no longer a director after he became Exxon’s CEO in 2006, but the secrecy of the nation may cause difficulty in determining Tillerson’s investments. Conflict of interest may be somewhat legal for the president and vice president but definitely not for Cabinet members or other government officials.

Oh yes, and Tillerson has literally no background in diplomacy or public service—just like DT.  With pushing from oil oligarchs like Dick Cheney and deep-pocketed campaign donor Robert McNair as well as Gates and Rice, skeptical GOP senators like Marco Rubio are showing signs of falling into DT’s swamp—the one filled with oil.

December 18, 2016

Electoral College Votes Tomorrow

Religious faith is turning electoral voters against Donald Trump (DT) after 80 percent of the evangelical world supported him before the election. One so-called “faithless elector” in the Electoral College, Christopher Suprun, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in which he said that he would vote for someone else than DT. Texas state law permits him to do so. The Republican called DT unfit for office:

 “Given [Trump’s] own public statements, it isn’t clear how the Electoral College can ignore these issues, and so it should reject him.”

Suprun detailed his concerns about DT such as his promotion of violence against Trump-protesters, his choice of advisers he writes. Asked if his faith influenced his decision to vote against Trump, the Roman Catholic paramedic and former firefighter said, “Of course.” He added that he learned from his faith that “it is allowable to choose the lesser of two evils.”

A former Texas electoral voter, Art Sisernos, stepped down from the Electoral College because supporting Trump would “bring dishonor to God,” but he couldn’t break his pledge to the Texas GOP to vote for the Republican candidate. A number of electoral voters struggling between their political requirements and their faith are Mormons who see DT as an opponent of the U.S. Constitution.

The members of the Electoral College lobbying for casting ballots for a moderate GOP instead of DT call themselves “Hamilton Electors,” referring to the constitutional process of voting for the president. In a Federalist Paper, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the Electoral College should be an “intermediate body” that’s less exposed to the people’s “heats and ferments.”

Hamilton Electors argue that DT is a threat to U.S democracy because of his unfit temperament as a tyrant and demagogue, his threat to world peace and closeness to Russia, and his corruption with his personal dealings. Another argument is that the Founding Fathers envisioned the electors preventing “an irresponsible demagogue from taking office,” according to Atlantic’s Peter Beinart.

In the Electoral College, the 538 people selecting the President of the United States (two senators plus the number of representatives from each state plus another three from Washington, D.C.) cast ballots tomorrow.  Twenty-nine states require these “electoral voters” to select the person who the state chose in its popular vote. Maine and Nebraska are the only states to not vote in a block for the popular vote; they divide the vote based on the percentage of the votes for president in the state. The votes are read in a special joint session of Congress on January 6 when the official winner is declared.

Seuss satires took over Twitter in October. Here is a recent one from John Pavlovitz, a pastor in Raleigh.

trump-seuss

HOW THE TRUMP STOLE AMERICA

john-pavlovitzIn a land where the states are united, they claim,

in a sky-scraping tower adorned with his name,

lived a terrible, horrible, devious chump,

the bright orange miscreant known as the Trump.

 

This Trump he was mean, such a mean little man,

with the tiniest heart and two tinier hands,

and a thin set of lips etched in permanent curl,

and a sneer and a scowl and contempt for the world.

 

He looked down from his perch and he grinned ear to ear,

and he thought, “I could steal the election this year!

It’d be rather simple, it’s so easily won,

I’ll just make them believe that their best days are done!

Yes, I’ll make them believe that it’s all gone to Hell,

and I’ll be Jerk Messiah and their souls they will sell.

 

And I’ll use lots of words disconnected from truth,

but I’ll say them with style so they won’t ask for proof.

I’ll toss out random platitudes, phrases, and such,

They’re so raised on fake news that it won’t matter much!

They won’t question the how to, the what, why, or when,

I will make their America great once again!”

 

The Trump told them to fear, they should fear he would say,

“They’ve all come for your jobs, they’ll all take them away.

You should fear every Muslim and Mexican too,

every brown, black, and tan one, everyone who votes blue.”

 

And he fooled all the Christians, he fooled them indeed,

He just trotted out Jesus, that’s all Jesus folk need.

And celebrity preachers they all crowned him as king,

Tripping over themselves just to kiss the Trump’s ring.

 

And he spoke only lies just as if they were true,

Until they believed all of those lies were true too.

He repeated and Tweeted and he blustered and spit,

And he mislead and fibbed—and he just made up sh*t.

 

And the media laughed but they printed each line,

thinking “He’ll never will win, in the end we’ll be fine.”

So they chased every headline, bold typed every claim,

‘Till the fake news and real news they looked just the same.

 

And the scared folk who listened, they devoured each word,

Yes, they ate it all up every word that they heard,

petrified that their freedom was under attack,

trusting Trump he would take their America back.

From the gays and from ISIS, he’d take it all back,

Take it back from the Democrats, fat cats, and blacks.

And so hook, line, and sinker they all took the bait,

all his lies about making America great.

 

Now the Pant-suited One she was smart and prepared,

she was brilliant and steady but none of them cared,

no they cared not to see all the work that she’d done,

or the fact they the Trump had not yet done thing one.

They could only shout “Emails!”, yes “Emails!” they’d shout,

because Fox News had told them—and Fox News had clout.

And the Pant-suited One she was slandered no end,

and a lie became truth she could never defend.

And the Trump watched it all go according to plan—

a strong woman eclipsed by an insecure man.

 

And November the 8th arrived, finally it came,

like a slow-moving storm but it came just the same.

And Tuesday became Wednesday as those days will do,

And the night turned to morning and the nightmare came true,

With millions of non-voters still in their beds,

Yes, the Trump he had done it, just like he had said.

 

And the Trumpers they trumped, how they trumped when he won,

All the racists and bigots; deplorable ones,

they crawled out from the woodwork, came out to raise Hell,

they came out to be hateful and hurtful as well.

With slurs and with road signs, with spray paint and Tweets,

with death threats to neighbors and taunts on the street.

And the grossest of grossness they hurled on their peers,

while the Trump he said zilch—for the first time in years.

 

But he Tweeted at Hamilton, he Tweeted the Times,

And he trolled Alec Baldwin a few hundred times,

and he pouted a pout like a petulant kid,

thinking this is what Presidents actually did,

thinking he could still be a perpetual jerk,

terrified to learn he had to actually work,

work for every American, not just for a few,

not just for the white ones—there was much more to do.

He now worked for the Muslims and Mexicans too,

for the brown, black, and tan ones, and the ones who vote blue.

They were all now his bosses, now they all had a say,

and those nasty pant-suited ones were here to stay.

And the Trump he soon realized that he didn’t win,

He had gotten the thing—and the thing now had him.

 

And it turned out the Trump was a little too late,

for America was already more than quite great,

not because of the sameness, the opposite’s true,

It’s greatness far more than just red, white, and blue,

It’s straight, gay, and female—it’s Gentile and Jew,

It’s Transgender and Christian and Atheist too.

It’s Asians, Caucasians of every kind,

The disabled and abled, the deaf and the blind,

It’s immigrants, Muslims, and brave refugees,

It’s Liberals with bleeding hearts fixed to their sleeves.

And we are all staying, we’re staying right here,

and we’ll be the great bane of the Trump for four years.

And we’ll be twice as loud as the loudness of hate,

be the greatness that makes our America great.

And the Trump’s loudest boasts they won’t ever obscure,

over two million more of us—voted for her.

 

You can see Pavlovitz’s latest post about DT here and follow his blog, Stuff That Needs To Be Said.

December 17, 2016

President Right about Media, Clinton

Filed under: Media — trp2011 @ 9:01 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The way that Russian hacking may have controlled the 2016 presidential election was a major subject of President Obama’s last press conference this year.

“Unless the American people genuinely think that the professionals in the CIA, the FBI, our entire intelligence infrastructure—many of whom, by the way, served in previous administrations and who are Republicans—are less trustworthy than the Russians, then people should pay attention to what our intelligence agencies say.”

He also talked about the danger of the belief “that it’s okay to intimidate the press, or lock up dissidents, or discriminate against people”—issues that may become popular in the next few years. He added his worry about “certain folks in the Republican Party and Republican voters suddenly finding a [Russian] government and individuals who stand contrary to everything that we stand for as being okay, because ‘that’s how much we dislike Democrats.’”

Part of his comments, however, dealt with how the mainstream media in the U.S. acts like a Russian propaganda machine through obsessively searching for anything negative about Hillary Clinton—including such ridiculous pieces as a risotto recipe from her former campaign manager John Podesta.

The media largely ignored the president’s comments directed toward them or took umbrage. Slate chose to misrepresent what he said as referring only to “fake news,” and Atlantic only provided a few of his quotes with no comments. The Washington Post, a conservative publication that supported Trump until it thought he could win the primaries, declaimed “First Amendment rights” for accenting Podesta’s risotto recipe over DT’s involvement in Russian hacking. A pundit on MSNBC said that the president should have pushed the media harder if it wanted them to publicize the corruption and fraud of DT’s campaign and foreign involvement.

A review of the political media for the past 18 months more than supports President Obama’s comments about the media:

Clinton’s Emails: While the media obsessed with the non-existent scandal of Hillary Clinton’s private server, they glossed over the extensive list of DT’s alleged sexual assault victims and his other misogyny. At the same time, mainstream TV “news” equated the two; for example, ABC’s Matthew Dowd tweeted, “Either you care both about Trump being sexual predator & Clinton emails, or u care about neither. But don’t talk about one without the other.” Pushback to his tweet brought the response that people who thought sexual assault was worse than Clinton’s legal actions were “partisan.” Clinton was asked twice about her email server in debates, and DT was asked only once about his sexual abuse.

Violence from DT Supporters: Pundits, including those from the supposedly “liberal” New York Times,  incessantly claimed that “both sides” fueled an acrimonious campaign. DT promised to legally defend anyone who punched a protester in the face, told another than he would “beat the crap” out of him, and called on anti-DT people to be “roughed up.” He constantly lambasted journalists to the extent that at least one of them had to be protected by guards as she left a rally. Clinton never said one inciting word. There was no proof that Clinton backers caused the violence from Trump supporters, the media accused the campaign of causing these problems.

“Race Relations” instead of White Supremacy: The false rhetoric used in the media implied a conflict between two equal parties instead of attacks from white supremacists wielding their power over minorities. In the debates, Lester Holt insisted on the need to “heal the divide” between races, and Elaine Quijano asked, “Do we ask too much of police officers in this country?”  No one discussed the problem of minority subjugation.

Equaling Anti-Racism and Racism: This campaign saw the rise of opposition to “political correctness,” and columnists such as David Brooks promoted the position that fighting oppressors is as bad as oppressing, similar to considering hostages in a bank robbery as equal bad as the bank robbers if they try to overpower their captors:

“But it’s not only racists who reduce people to a single identity. These days it’s the anti-racists, too. To raise money and mobilize people, advocates play up ethnic categories to an extreme degree.”

MSNBC has been accused of being so liberal that it’s the opposite of the Fox network, but Joe Scarborough, host of The Morning Joe Show, was a propaganda shill for DT, going to far as meeting with him at the Trump Tower to help him plan campaign strategy.

As soon as Clinton announced her run for president in 2015, mainstream media gloried in putting out massive negative coverage, according to a study by Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on media coverage.

“Whereas media coverage helped build up Trump, it helped tear down Clinton. Trump’s positive coverage was the equivalent of millions of dollars in ad-buys in his favor, whereas Clinton’s negative coverage can be equated to millions of dollars in attack ads, with her on the receiving end.”

The study found a ratio of 45 negative stories to one positive story on emails, most of them generated by the GOP and Fox network before being repeated on mainstream media. Eighty-four percent of Clinton’s coverage in this period was negative before the primaries with 90 percent negative during the negatives. The belief in Clinton’s unworthiness came from the media.

The media obsessed over the false accusation that Clinton was putting the United States at risk because of a private email server while it expressed no concern about DT considering Gen. David Petraeus for Secretary of State. Eighteen months ago he was convicted of passing classified information to his girlfriend while he was director of the CIA. The media, including the supposedly progressive Public Broadcasting System, has also totally ignored the fact that both Bob Gates and Condoleezza Rice—strong supporters for the Russia-connected Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson—are on the payroll of Exxon, Tillerson’s employer.

In addition to admitting sexual assault, DT has broken the law in countless other ways including using illegal immigrants and mob help to build the Trump Tower, not paying sales taxes, committing federal income tax fraud, spending money from his personal non-profit charity foundation for personal expenses and bribery, failing to pay his workers, conning students at Trump University, paying off prosecutors with political donations, and now using his position as president-elect to blackmail other countries into better business deals. And he also destroyed his own emails to avoid problems in court. Clinton broke no laws, but the media has spent 18 months avoiding DT’s illegal activities while making Clinton’s legal activities seem the reverse.

Mainstream media incessantly called out Clinton for her speaker’s fees from Wall Street but said nothing about how a network marketing company judged to be a pyramid scheme paid DT $1.35 million for three speeches last year. Taxpayers paid $127 million for a golf course on top of a Bronx garbage dump that is named after DT. He keeps almost all the money for its first 20 years while taxpayers pay for the utility bills.

The media touts DT as a good businessman, but he passes along all his losses to other people as he consistently fails at his projects. Most of the structures with “Trump” in the name are owned by others; they pay DT for the name. Then there are the 250 buyers who lost money, sometimes their life savings, for a project in Baja, licensed to a third-party developer. He could have gotten them some money back, but he lied about not having insurance after it failed. The media let him get away with all his bad business deals just as they printed his lies about shutting down offshoring manufacturing and failed to report on his massive offshore retail deals.

Media support for DT comes from corporate greed. The CBS CEO openly admitted that he wanted the money he got from ratings. A DT presidency will lower taxes on network CEOs and senior executives as well as cut regulations that make media accountable for the public interest. NBC in particular will benefit from the “reality show” coming out of the White House because DT is the executive producer. DT’s “reality show” of rallies, tweets, and other announcements dominated during the campaign.

Clinton got attention only when she was attacking DT, and the media complained about her having no policies while they ignored the ones that she presented. The sole goal of making more money in network television came from the end of the Fairness Doctrine, any enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and independent television after the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

There’s a good reason that the official word of 2016 from the Oxford English Dictionary is “post-truth.” The media. The people who claim that they aren’t the “truth squad” know that they can get away with anything by denying that they’re doing anything wrong. Business as usual: the mainstream media cozies up to DT and normalizes the oligarchy that he wants to bring into the White House. And then says, “It’s not my problem!”

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