Nel's New Day

September 30, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-six – ‘Mind-bogglingly Bad’

Every week for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has given him losses, but the first week of his ninth month may have topped the previous 35 weeks. On Tuesday, he lost the Alabama GOP senatorial primary for Luther Strange against a rabid religious right-winger, Roy Moore, but deleted his tweets supporting Strange after the election, probably illegal for a person in the Oval Office to do. The Affordable Care Act lost for a fourth time since he was inaugurated although he said that Trumpcare was on track. Again he threatened North Korea with “devastating” consequences.

DDT also faced the overwhelming media coverage of government waste by his Cabinet members who love to use charter jets to the tune of over $1 million in unnecessary expenditure. One of them, former HHS Secretary Tom Price quit after DDT expressed great displeasure. A question is whether DDT dumped him for spending less money than DDT does on flights or whether the departure was because of Price’s inability to pass Trumpcare. At a Boy Scout’s jamboree last summer, DDT had threatened to fire Price if the secretary didn’t bring in the necessary congressional votes.

All these disasters were overlaid by DDT’s failure to help Puerto Rico after he was hit by two hurricanes in only two weeks. Frustrated by the lack of U.S. federal support, the mayor of San Juan (PR), Carmen Yulin Cruz, resorted to begging for assistance, saying that she has “one goal and that’s to save lives.” DDT had spent the nine days since Hurricane Maria hit the island by telling everyone that he was doing a great job. In retaliation to Cruz, he tweeted that she has “poor leadership ability” and “they want everything to be done for them.” He complained about her “nasty criticism” and blamed Democrats who “has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump. DDT included criticism of the media, naming CNN and NBC, for their coverage of the relief effort in a series of at least insulting six tweets in less than an hour that he started a little after 4:00 am. The war against Cruz continued late this afternoon.

DDT also received ridicule for his new tax cut proposal that benefits the wealthy and penalizes the poor, despite his claims that the information isn’t true. His grand plan would drop taxes for the wealthy by ten percent and increase the bottom tier by 20 percent. When questioned about his statement that the upper class will have no tax cut, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he made that statement but that “it was never a promise … never a pledge.” Even Goldman Sachs opposed the “trickle-down” justification for tax cuts, reporting that DDT’s plan adds only 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent to America’s economy in 2018 and 2019, far less than the boon that DDT predicts.

On the Russian front, bad news keeps nipping at DDT: 

  • Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, “Our intelligence community assessment did, I think, serve to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory in the election.”
  • DHS finally notified 21 states that Russian hackers targeted their election systems during the 2016 election after having that information for several months.
  • Russia continues its work to influence people in the U.S. as shown through identification of  80 news stories promoted by 600 Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations just between September 16 and September 22, 2017.
  • DDT has refused to provide documents connected to the firing of former FBI director to the House Intelligence Committee. He may receive a subpoena for them.
  • Fake news from Russian sources saturated battleground states during the campaign that DDT barely won.
  • Russian-funded Facebook ads during the general election worked to elect DDT by praising him, criticizing Hillary Clinton, and promoting Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders after Clinton was chosen at the Democratic convention.
  • Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg said, “After the election, I made a comment that I thought the idea misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the election was a crazy idea. Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it.”
  • The IRS has given special investigator Robert Mueller information on top
  • DDT officials, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
  • Twitter found and shut down 201 accounts connected to Russian operatives posting thousands of political ads on Facebook.

Meanwhile, DDT tweeted:

“Facebook was always anti-Trump.The Networks were always anti-Trump hence,Fake News, @nytimes(apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?”

Pundits are now talking about the possibility that DDT will attack North Korea to protect himself from the Russian investigation.

Acting head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Chuck Rosenberg, a prosecutor for George W. bush and appointed by Barack Obama, quit because DDT has “little respect for the law.”

DDT spent the entire week trying to cover all his problems with his firestorm of inflammatory remarks about sports athletes. He did recognize that his statements were overboard because he later told reporters that he was not calling on supporters to boycott the NFL. In a separate tweet, he wrote that players who locked arms during the anthem were doing something “good,” despite players said they were demonstrating their unity against the president’s statements.  Trump’s political strategy follows the pattern of past offensive positions: take a divisive stand between himself and those who he describes as unpatriotic elites. He uses the controversy to dominate the news cycle, try to place himself as a strong leader, and maintain that he fights for regular working Americans nostalgic for an earlier time in the country’s history.

DDT’s war against the NFL goes back decades when he failed to buy his way into the league in 1984. The story is here. Forty years later he failed in his attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014 and wants his revenge.

Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to defend DDT by saying that it’s always “presidential” behavior and appropriate for DDT to lie and call a black athlete a “son of a b*****.” Respect the flag and disregard the Constitution is a common conservative position. Sanders said that anything the president does is “presidential.” Questioned further, Sanders said that the issue about protesting during the national anthem was “pretty black and white.” Tomorrow the NFL games—and the “black and white” issue–accelerate.

More DDT problems needing smoke-screens:

DDT invented a mythical hospitalized senator for the most recent failure of Trumpcare but claimed that they still had the votes to pass the bill.

A new travel ban has kept the old one from being argued before the Supreme Court this fall. DDT added Chad, North Korea, and government officials and their families from Venezuela to divert attention from the ban being against Muslims. North Korea won’t let their people coming into the U.S., making that country a no starter, and DDT can’t explain the problem with Chad. Even his order calls the country an “important and valuable counterterrorism partner.” DDT removed Sudan from the banned list, an odd choice because of its international terrorism and ethnic killings. Sudan, however, does have the support of the United Arab Emirates. Asked about the removal, DDT said:

“As far as the travel ban is concerned, whatever it is, I want the toughest travel ban you can have. So I’ll see you in Indiana.

DDT has nominated John Adler, former Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association president, for the Department of Justice’s director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance. His resume includes several years on the advisory board of the Heroes Health Fund, a group offering support for ‘firefighters, police, EMTs, veterans, and others harmed by toxic exposures in the line of duty’ using a detoxification program developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

DDT loyalists are reaping a rich reward with appointments to the Department of Agriculture. DDT campaign staff and volunteers hired for these positions include a long-haul truck driver, a country club cabana attendant, and the owner of a scented-candle company. Some of them lack requirements, such as a college degree, for the higher government salaries. The truck-driver may not be a college graduate, but he will be developing overseas markets for U.S. agricultural trade goods, a position requiring a master’s degree. A landscaper is assigned to helping farmers, ranchers, and forest managers use conservation practices.

Polls don’t look good for DDT:

  • Climate change: 55 percent of respondents said that climate change had made Hurricanes Irma and Harvey worse. That’s up from the 39 percent who said climate change contributed to Hurricane Katrina when asked 12 years ago. (DDT is a vociferous climate denier.)
  • Lowering corporate taxes: 65 percent of people believe that corporations pay too little in taxes, and only 11 percent think that they pay too much.
  • DDT’s Russia fees: 64 percent of the people think that DDT should pay for his own legal fees in the Russia collusion issue rather than asking the people to do this by contributing to his campaign.

Humorist Samantha Bee has gathered the conservative positions on acceptable forms of protest.

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September 29, 2017

Puerto Rico a Disaster, DDT Indifferent

Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico (PR) nine days ago today. With almost no help from the U.S. government, people are without food, drinking out of creeks, and dying in hospitals because of no fuel for generators. Living conditions in Puerto Rico are dire.

The disaster has taught Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) about geography. He’s learned that PR is “an island…an island sitting in the middle of an ocean — and it’s a big ocean. It’s a very big ocean.” DDT likes repetition; he continued, “This isn’t like Florida…This is a thing called the Atlantic Ocean. This is tough stuff.”

Since John Kelly became DDT’s chief of staff over a month ago, Elaine Duke has been acting security of Homeland Security. She called the hurricane as “really a good news story” because of “our ability to reach people.” Duke may think this is true from about 1,600 miles away, but people living on the island have a better perspective. Most of the supplies that came to the island are from private donors because of the archaic Jones Act, and what has arrived is rotting in port because of lack of leadership and infrastructure problems.

Five days after the disaster, Philip Carter wrote about DDT’s “Katrina”:

“So far, the Trump administration has dispatched an anemic Federal Emergency Management Agency mission and sundry military units to assess the situation and provide support. But in some cases it took the federal government days to even contact local leaders in Puerto Rico’s major cities, let alone deploy aid. Only the most rudimentary military support is now on the ground. This is inadequate and calls to mind the lethargic response by the Bush administration to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.”

Carter also reported that 80 percent of the agriculture in PR has been destroyed along with its food source and economy. People cannot call for help, something the federal government told them to do, because 95 percent of the cell-phone towers are out.

Vox added to the catastrophe’s description:

“More than three million U.S. citizens [are] facing the prospect of living up to six months without power. According to some estimates, damage could exceed $30 billion. Our fellow Americans are in crisis. Since the disaster, House Republicans, led by Congressman Michael McCaul (TX-R), have unveiled a $10 billion proposal … for Donald Trump’s racist border wall and immoral mass deportation force.”

After a visit to PR three days ago, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) talked about the possible “humanitarian crisis.” He said that help for PR required “a lot more hands-on federal engagement.” Like Rubio, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) compared the lack of response to that in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and other areas along the Gulf Coast. Five days ago, Hillary Clinton tweeted:

“President Trump, Sec. Mattis, and DOD should send the Navy, including the USNS Comfort, to Puerto Rico now. These are American citizens.”

The administration waited another two days before saying it would deploy the USNS Comfort, an 890-foot-long naval hospital ship, and longer until it sent more personnel and called on truck drivers to go to PR. The ship didn’t leave until today and will take another five days to arrive. A Defense Department official said the ship hadn’t been deployed because of no request from FEMA. Forty-nine of the island’s 69 hospitals are without electricity or fuel to run backup generators. Twenty percent of PR’s 3.5 million population has a disability including half those over the age of 65, and 13 percent of the residents have diabetes, compared to 8.7 percent on the mainland. Insulin requires refrigeration that is at an extreme shortage.

At the same time that a doctor desperately tweeted from San Jorge children’s hospital in downtown San Juan about lack of fuel for generators, U.S. Senate Republicans were trying to eliminate health care for tens of millions of people. DDT tweeted about that rather than PR because it would give money for tax cuts to the wealthy. Then he began arguing for his massive tax cuts for the wealthy.

Within a week after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in Florida, DDT had managed a massive relief bill. For PR, he said that he would get a request for aid to Congress within a week or two (his term in the past for never) and complained about PR’s debt, seemingly accusing them of the disaster. Part of that debt comes from the $33 million that DDT kept by declaring his golf course in PR bankrupt immediately after he announced his most recent campaign for president.

Shipping limitations from the Jones Act were immediately waived after Texas and Florida were hit by hurricanes a few weeks ago, but DDT refused to do the same for PR until eight days after the disaster. (Texas and Florida voted for DDT, but Puerto Ricans cannot vote for a U.S. president.) DDT might not have waived the law at all except for his public embarrassment for saying that “a lot of people that work in the shipping industry…don’t want the Jones Act lifted.” The family of Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation and wife of the Senate Majority leader, owns a shipping company. The 1920 law, enacted to protect the U.S. from German U-2 boats, requires that goods going from one place in the United States to another must be on ships owned, build, and crewed by U.S. companies. PR pays an excessive amount for goods coming from the mainland because of this law.

Another serious problem in disseminating goods is that military personnel sent to unload containers and drive trucks across the capital are minimal compared to the people sent to other disasters. Only two ships were deployed to PR in the first six days after Maria. Because the federal government is insisting on centralized distributions, donations sent on charter planes by individuals and charitable groups are not reaching people. U.S officials decided that people should drive to San Juan, despite the severely limited fuel situation, to tell them what was needed.

DDT is also trying to control news coming from PR by restricting congressional members from making official visits to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and evaluating conditions there. The San Juan Airport is functioning at this time, and DDT has said that he plans to visit the island.

The Jones Act permits goods—water, food, fuel, medicine, etc.—can be shipped via foreign registry vessel to PR if the country pays import quotas and many other costs, or by going through Jacksonville (FL) where everything is unloaded, put onto a U.S. ship, and then sent to PR at an increased cost of 15 to 20 percent. For example, cars cost $6,000 more in PR than in Florida. Goods cost about twice as they do on neighboring islands, including the U.S. Virgin Islands which is not subject to the Jones Act. Although the cost of living is 13 percent higher than 325 urban areas in the U.S., the per capita income is about $18,000, half that of Mississippi, the poorest of all 50 states. In 2012, the Jones Act caused a $17 billion loss to the island’s economy from 1990 through 2010. PR’s pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, proving 30 percent of the island’s gross domestic product and 90,000 jobs, is shut down.

Today DDT said he didn’t know if the government would help to repair PR’s public infrastructure. His disaster declaration for Texas promised federal funding of up to 75 percent of costs to repair “damaged public facilities” including roads, bridges and schools. FEMA said it would clear debris and other emergency relief.

Billionaires and celebrities are helping Puerto Rico residents by lending their planes to deliver food, water and critical medical supplies. One billionaire, however, has not stepped up to the plate. DDT’s fleet of a large commercial sized plane, a corporate jet, and two helicopters, sits at La Guardia. DDT hasn’t even asked people to donate to this crisis. All during the crisis, he has bragged how he protects the United States from athletes and how well he’s doing in Puerto Rico. He’s wrong on both counts.

The first federal senior administration officials didn’t go to PR for five days. DDT spent the first four days of the hurricane at his golf resort in Bedminster (NJ) except for a brief rally for his failed senatorial candidate in Alabama. Today, DDT said “We will not rest until the people of Puerto Rico are safe” before he flew back to his golf resort.

September 28, 2017

Ask a Computer If You’re Gay

Can a computer determine whether a person is lesbian or gay by appearance? Stanford University researchers decided that they could do this and caused a firestorm in the media. Early in their announcements, the mainstream media accepted their research:

“Advanced computer analysis … found that gay men and women tended to have ‘gender-atypical’ features: fixed features such as the shape of one’s nose or jaw, and transient features such as hairstyle and facial hair…. ‘The results show that the faces of gay men were more feminine and the faces of lesbians were more masculine than those of their respective heterosexual counterparts. Among men, the data-driven measure of facial femininity positively correlated with the probability of being gay.’”

The study reported that gay men had narrower jaws and lesbians had larger jaws. The assumption is from the questionable theory that these characteristics come from levels of hormone exposure, in particular testosterone, in the uterus. The study used only white people, according to the researchers, because the source gave them insufficient numbers of people of color. The computer was programmed to focus on the nose, eyes, eyebrows, cheeks, hairline and chin of males and the nose, mouth corners, hair and neckline were more important for women. The abstract also stated that gay men and lesbians have “gender-atypical … expression and grooming styles.”

Researchers Michal Kosinski and Yilun Wang wrote:

“We used deep neural networks to extract features from 35,326 facial images. These features were entered into a logistic regression aimed at classifying sexual orientation. Given a single facial image, a classifier could correctly distinguish between gay and heterosexual men in 81% of cases, and in 74% of cases for women. Human judges achieved much lower accuracy: 61% for men and 54% for women. The accuracy of the algorithm increased to 91% and 83%, respectively, given five facial images per person. Facial features employed by the classifier included both fixed (e.g., nose shape) and transient facial features (e.g., grooming style).”

Among their criteria is that “heterosexual men and lesbians tended to wear baseball caps” and that “gay men were less likely to wear a beard.” Lesbians don’t wear eye makeup, but straight women do. And lesbians wear “less revealing clothes,” have darker hair, and smile less than straight women,

Only after all the hype did the media start looking into the research methodology and results:

  • All photographs were taken from an online dating site.
  • The photographs of white people were based on researchers’ pre-conceived assumptions about ethnicity.
  • Only two sexual orientations—straight and lesbian/gay—were assumed for the study. No bisexuals, asexuals, questioning, etc.
  • All the subjects were under the age of 40.
  • Everyone lived in the United States.
  • They were all open about their sexual orientations on a website by identifying the gender—“men” or “women”—of  the subject for relationships. No closeted people.
  • The study addressed a rigid sexual and gender binary, ignoring people with non-binary gender identity or sexual orientation.

A response to an article about the research’s accuracy had valid points:

“My face would look different if I were single. If I were trying to attract a woman, I would go to the gym more, which would slim down my face. I would get haircuts more often. I would trim my beard more often, and shave more often. It’s intuitive to me that this would be common. Some people might put more effort into styling their hair, doing their makeup, treating their acne, wearing contacts instead of glasses, etc. (I’m not saying people who wear glasses are less attractive; I’m saying people who wear glasses might feel they’re less attractive than they would be without glasses.)”

Researchers said that the computer could select gay people with a 91-percent accuracy rate only applies when the computer program knew that one of two images belonged to a gay person. Selecting 1,000 men at random with at least five photographs, the ratio of success dropped to seven in every 100. When given 100 males that researchers through were most likely to be gay, only 47 of them self-identified as gay.

One person evaluating the research said that “it’s a description of beauty standards on dating sites that ignores huge segments of the LGBTQ community, including people of color, transgender people, older individuals, and other LGBTQ people who don’t want to post photos on dating sites.”

After greater scrutiny of the study, the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which had tentatively accepted it for publication, decided to take a “closer look.” An editor addressed the journal’s concerns:

“In the process of preparing the [manuscript] for publication, some concerns have been raised about the ethical status of your project. At issue is the use of facial images in both your research and the paper we accepted for publication. The acceptance was conditional on the ethical clearance of the work to be published. We typically do this by having authors state the [Institutional Review Board] status of their work. However, in this particular case, there turns out to be some idiosyncratic issues that must be cleared before your paper can be set ready for publication.”

The editor continued by stating that the images were copyrighted and that “the owners of the images posted them for different purposes. It may therefore be deemed unlikely that all of them would have granted consent for the use of their images in your research work.”

GLADD stated that technology can only “recognize … a pattern that found a small subset of out white gay and lesbian people on dating sites who look similar.” Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of the book Reclaiming Conversation said that the industry may want to “buy and sell this information with purposes of social control.” She pointed out that judging a person by appearance can increase institutional discrimination. Also frightening is extending the purported use to technology identify other characteristics such as those assumed to belong to Jewish people.

Ashland Johnson, Director of Public Education and Research at the Human Rights Campaign, pointed out how the “dangerously bad” research was “likely to be taken out of context” and possibly “threaten the safety and privacy of LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ people alike.” He gave as an example “a brutal regime’s efforts to identify and/or persecute people they believed to be gay.”

In Wired, Sophia Chen drew attention to the researchers’ excuse for developing the program: “[Our] findings expose a threat to the privacy and safety of gay men and women.” Chen responded:

“They built the bomb so they could alert the public about its dangers.”

Ethicist Jake Metcalf of Data & Society social scientists lack clear ethical deadlines to keep from harming people. He explained that outdated and irrelevant guidelines for social experiment allow researchers to make up the rules themselves. Government-funded scientists must get the approval of an institutional review board that developed its rules 40 years ago for such human interactions as drawing blood or conducting interviews. In this study about identifying lesbians and gays, the researchers assumed they didn’t have to consult a review board because they didn’t interact with anyone; they just took their photos off an online dating site.

Last month, researchers released a free app to guess ethnicity and nationality from names for an 80 percent accuracy. A scientist at the affiliated Stony Brook University, Steven Skiena, said the purpose was to prevent discrimination. Yet no one has any way to control the use of the app. It’s the same problem with a possibly inaccurate method of identifying lesbians and gays.

September 25, 2017

Divider-in-chief Attacks Athletes, Ignores Presidential Issues

Forty percent of the states in the United States have a population less than 3.4 million—the population of Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory that is completely without power—perhaps for another six months—after Hurricane Maria hit the island. Seventy-thousand people are in danger of the Guajataca dam’s breaking. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may send a disaster aid request to Congress in another few weeks while Puerto Rico suffers a humanitarian crisis. Texas got help within a week.

DDT tweeted over a dozen times this past weekend about athletes not kneeling during the national anthem but presidential. Nothing about Puerto Rico. Or North Korea’s claim that DDT has declared war and they will shoot down U.S. even if they’re not in North Korean airspace. Or that DDT is getting deeper into the Russia influence on the presidential election. And certainly nothing about DDT’s most recent problem, that his family and aides—Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Gary Cohn—used government business while he continues to accuse Hillary Clinton of doing this. Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server was a prime fixture in DDT’s campaign against her, and he’s still promoting the “lock her up” argument, as recently as last week’s rally in Alabama.

At the same rally when DDT sort of supported GOP Sen. Luther Strange for election to his appointed position, DDT started a firestorm by demanding the firing of sports players who kneel instead of stand during the national anthem in protest to racial injustice in the country. (You may have heard about this; there are almost 40 million links to the story.) DDT also suggested an NFL boycott and referred to those who kneeled as a “son of a b—-,” an insult the players’ mothers. On ABC’s Sunday news show, This Week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tried to cover for DDT by saying that he means NFL players “can do free speech on their own time.” Mnuchin added that the president is saying “that the owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem.” To DDT’s profane slur, Mnuchin said that “the president can use whatever language he wants to use.”

The protests moved to London where several Ravens and Jaguars players knelt during the national anthem. Shadid Khan, the billionaire owner of the Jaguars who donated $1 million to DDT’s inauguration, demonstrated solidarity with his players by linking his arms with them. Several professional teams stayed in the locker room during the anthem yesterday, and coaches and owners supported them. The responses from over 30 pro NFL teams is here.

America First Policies, a DDT-supporting PAC, is disseminating an anti-NFL ad called “Turn Off the NFL” on social media to boost DDT’s criticisms. It encourages NFL fans to watch a patriotic movie instead of NFL games.

DDT attacked the NBA as well as the NFL.  LeBron James called DDT a “bum,” and Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs, called DDT “an embarrassment in the world.” After the NBA champion Golden State Warriors waffled about accepting an invitation to the White House, DDT said that he was disinviting them although he had not sent them one. DDT personally attacked Warriors star Stephen Curry, who said that DDT’s comments to “target certain individuals … rather than others” are “beneath” his office.

Non-pro teams protested as well.  Garfield’s Bulldogs, including the coaches, knelt during the anthem before the team’s 52-9 Metro League win against West Seattle. A coach asked why people talked about the flag instead of the issues (listed here) surrounding the players’ actions. The third verse of the anthem ridicules black men for seeking freedom from U.S. slavery by joining the British, stating that “the hireling and slave” cannot find “refuge.”

DDT, who avoided military service with “bone spurs,” has tried to make his battle against sports figures about patriotism. He tweeted, “Courageous Patriots have fought and died for our great American Flag — we MUST honor and respect it!” In a classic blog, Margaret wrote her friend Helen that a sports player has as much right to “taking a knee” as DDT has to say that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) isn’t a war hero because he was captured.

The White House and DDT are trying to avoid the racial overtones of his criticism. DDT overlooked the refusal of Tom Brady, a white player, to accept an invitation to the White House but lambasted Stephen Curry, a black player, for doing the same thing. Colin Kaepernick started the movement over a year ago to protest police brutality against people of color, but this morning DDT tweeted that the protests have nothing to do with race. His war started in a place known for segregation, and conservatives have praised DDT for his brilliant strategy. Yet the statements may have come from DDT’s impulsivity, not his thoughtfulness. He loved the attention he received, however, and continued to dominate the press with his tweets.

The massive internet exchange on the issue of kneeling during the national anthem is reminiscent of events a half century ago during the civil rights protests. Moderate Republicans currently think that blacks should politely sign a petition instead of taking up the cause at the sports games; in 1964, 74 percent of people thought that “mass demonstrations by Negroes” would “hurt the Negro’s cause for racial equality.”

DDT also repeated his argument at the same rally that pro football isn’t violent enough for him. Part of his disjointed babblings in the speech described a “beautiful tackle” and made sarcastic comments about a referee’s wife “sitting at home …. so proud of him” when the ref throws a penalty flag. He said:

“Today if you hit too hard — 15 yards! Throw him out of the game! They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game. That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game.’’

In USA Today, Tim Sullivan called DDT’s statement “callous, short-sighted and without nuance, the kind of barstool bluster you hear from those wired to react without research or reasoning.” The calls for more violence came the same week as the revelation that former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez suffered from a severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Just days before that discovery, a study showed the same brain disease in 110 of 111 former NFL players who had died.

In another study released last week, men who played football before they were 12 have a doubled risk of “problems with behavioral regulation, apathy and executive functioning” and a tripled danger of “clinically elevated depression scores.” The increased risk is dependent on the number of years playing football and the number of reported concussions. Key brain development in males occurs between ten and 12 years of age, but earlier first exposure to football is connected to worse clinical function.

CTE begins with headaches and loss of concentration and moves to depression, mood swings, short term memory loss, and explosive behavior. The disorder moves to language difficulties, impulsive behavior, and thoughts of suicide as well as cognitive impairment and ends with memory loss combined with dementia. Common causes of death in people suffering from CTE are respiratory failure, cardiac disease, suicide, overdose, and symptoms associated with end-stage dementia and malignancy.

DDT’s latest campaign is to promote violence and concussions for his personal entertainment with indifference to the possibility that the majority of men in the United States will develop symptoms of CTE. Future polls and NFL ratings will determine his success.

September 24, 2017

Christian Goals against ‘Others’ Fail to Protect ‘Us’

The travel ban may be extended to eight countries as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues his battle against terrorists from a religion other than Christianity. “We cannot gamble with American lives,” said John Kelly last January when he was secretary of Homeland Security. Since 9/11, an average of one person has died each year on U.S. soil because of Islamic terrorists both foreign and U.S. Using the excuse of keeping the nation safe, the government has spent at least $4 trillion on wars, veterans, and interest on the expenditures.

Yet 16 people have been killed in only two mass killings thus far this year in the U.S., eight each in Plano (TX) and Bogue Chitto (MS). The reason for both was domestic violence. Most people don’t even know about these tragedies—or the thousands of other deaths in U.S. mass murders. The recent, non-lethal bombing at the London tube consumed the media for days, but the Plano tragedy that occurred about the same time got less than less than 5 percent of internet links.

In 2015, 1,686 women were killed by men in “single victim/single offender” incidents. Ninety percent of the victims knew their offenders, and of those who did, 64 percent were wives or other intimate acquaintances of their killers. Three women are murdered every day by a current or former intimate partner.

The news coverage of the London bombing fits the U.S. obsession with “Islamic terror” driven by conservatives. Fear is the motivation for their successful elections. When they become legislators, they make guns more accessible, again using the motivation of fear.

During the past two days, the issue of kneeling during the national anthem has consumed the media. Conservatives are on television bitterly complaining about the “disrespect” for the flag. Yet domestic violence and sexual assault by prominent sports figures are overlooked or explained by blaming women. In the past 14 years, 80 football players had been involved in 87 arrests.

Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice was suspended for two NFL games for knocking out his fiancé—now his wife—in an elevator. Giants kicker Josh Brown was suspended for one game in 2015 for assaulting his wife, Molly. She had been assaulted almost two dozen times, once when she was pregnant, according to police and court records. A sheriff said that the NFL never asked him for records in their investigation. Brown’s journal revealed that he abused his wife and saw her as a slave. “I have controlled her by making her feel less human than me,” Brown wrote.

Brown used the same tactic that white supremacists use against the Muslims, people of color, and other minorities: white conservatives consider everyone else as less humans. One way to do that is to overemphasize the violence of “others,” and de-emphasize the violence of “us.” That way white conservatives can maintain their feelings of superiority and ignore the suffering of others.

DDT is a master of “othering.” His selection of nominees shows his prejudices with white male far-right religious conservatives dominating his appointments to courts, cabinet, and staff. For example, Jeff Mateer, DDT’s pick for a Texas federal judgeship, is a classic symbol of LGBT hatred. He not only advocates for nondiscrimination laws but also calls transgender children as “part of Satan’s plan.” Mateer is a former high level staffer for the religious right organization Liberty Institute, now known as First Liberty Institute (FLI). The organization founded to ban marriage equality represents conservative Christians and opposes separation of church and state. While working there, he advocated against nondiscrimination laws that included LGBT people, lamented the increase in states banning the dangerous practice of “conversion therapy,” and described transgender children as “part of Satan’s plan.” Mateer, who has no judicial experience, thinks the separation of church and state is not guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Federal judges are appointed for life.

Another nominee with no judicial experience, Matthew Kacsmaryk, is also associated with FLI. Federal judges are appointed for life. Russell Vought, pick for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote that Muslims have a “deficient theology” because they “do not know God.” And the list goes on.

Another DDT appointee who was confirmed with only 50 votes, Department of Education Betsy DeVos, is also protecting white males against everyone else. She has rescinded the college sexual assault policy to help rape victims in favor of their rapists. DeVos said that rapists should be expelled from a school only when found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” not when the preponderance of evidence is against them. Schools can also use informal mediation for sexual assault accusations, forcing victims to meet face-to-face with their rapists for an “amicable” solution. The only advantage is that—thus far—universities don’t have to follow DeVos’ new guidelines.

DeVos got her information from men’s organizations, including the National Coalition for Men that publishes names and photos to women whose cases were dismissed. Another of her consulting organizations, SAVE, wants a victim’s sexual history used as evidence.

Candace Jackson, appointed by DeVos as her civil rights official, claims she was a victim of discrimination because she is white. She also said that 90 percent of rape accusations “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.” There is no evidence for Jackson’s claim. Jackson also believes that all the women accusing DDT of sexual assault were lying “for political gain.”

Early in the summer, DeVos cut back investigations of civil rights issues so that there will be no check into systemic problems. DDT’s budget removes over 40 employees from the investigation staff.

As part of his Christianizing the U.S., DDT officially proclaimed September 3, 2017 as a National Day of Prayer in violation of a judge’s ruling on separation of church and state in 2010. His announcement told people to “go to your church and pray”—no synagogue, mosque, or other place or worship and no provision for people who choose to have no place of worship. A president’s direction to “pray” is also exclusionary and endorses a religious message.

The base of the GOP is the white Christian. There is no guarantee that changing demographics mean changing numbers of elected Democrats, but there’s some hope and whites will stop hating the “others.” An example of that is the Christian church that is “tithing for trans people,” raising money to help people obtain gender affirmation medical care. Faithfully LGBT wants to repair the damage of right-wing pretend Christians who discriminate against trans people and encourage violence. The church started its project after 150 evangelical leaders signed the “Nashville Statement” that rejects transgender identity, homosexuality, and feminism in its need to reestablish the “Christ-defined” roles of men as household leaders.

White Christians are going to be fighting even harder now that they are in the minority—43 percent of the population to be exact. That’s a little over half the number 40 years ago when eight of ten people identified as white Christians. During the past several decades that demographic has elected presidents, locked in Congress, and taken over the majority of state governors and legislatures. The percentage of white Christians shrinks with younger voters: two-thirds of seniors are in that category whereas only one-fourth of those 18-29 are white Christians.

 

September 23, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-five – Health Care, Russia Loom

The UN experience is over for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) although he’s still exchanging childish insults with North Korea. In addition to the cliffhanger question of a world war, Now the U.S. is waiting for a vote in the Senate about health care repeal and replace with less money to most of the states. Sen. John McCain has come out against the bill, but GOP Senate leaders want to buy Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) vote. The bill gives Alaska and Montana—just those two states—continued advantages of the Affordable Care Act: premium tax credits from Affordable Care Act repealed for other states, delayed Medicaid per capita caps delayed, and “an increased federal Medicaid matching rate. Less than three months ago, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), co-author of this bill, ranted against buying off people to get votes for a health care bill.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) explained the push to get the bill passed in the next week before the filibuster takes over:

“I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered. But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign.”

Grassley means that the Koch brothers and friends will pull the plug on donations without legislation. At a June retreat, one donor declared that his “Dallas piggy bank” was closed until the GOP manages to “get Obamacare repealed and replaced, get tax reform passed.”

Congress wants DDT to continue his warmongering throughout the world. Sixty-one senators defeated a measure that would have limited DDT’s ability to wage war anywhere he wants. Congress has abdicated its responsibility to determine times and places of warring on other countries. An amendment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to the defense bill would have repealed a post-9/11 military authorization allowing DDT to determine times and places of warring on other countries. Paul said:

“What we have today is basically unlimited war anywhere, anytime, anyplace upon the globe. Even if my colleagues say, ‘war, war, that’s the answer everywhere, all the time,’ by golly, come down and put your name on it.”

DDT plans to extend drone strikes and commando raids in any countries where Islamic militants are active without high-level vetting. Such action could lead to attacks in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Russia has threatened retaliation against the U.S. if their troops continue to come under fire. The recent shelling of Syrian government positions by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has also put Russian troops under fire.

Other Russia problems:

Difference of opinion between DDT and his administration:

“The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook.” – DDT

“It is clear, and this administration and the entire government has been clear that Russia meddled in the campaigns and the election. That is inappropriate. Absolutely inappropriate. No one takes issue with that whatsoever.” – State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert

Media reported that federal investigators allegedly secretly wiretapped former DDT campaign manager Paul Manafort before and after the 2016 election and plan to indict him. He was first surveilled for employment by a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party and then watched for his collusion between DDT’s campaign and Russian officials to get DDT elected. Two weeks before DDT became the GOP nominee, Manafort offered to brief a Russian billionaire with close ties to Russia. In July, Mueller executed a “no-knock” search warrant on Manafort’s home to stop him from destroying documents connected with violation of tax laws, money-laundering, and foreign lobbying. Mueller has also asked for documents in 13 areas of interest from the White House and Air Force One, including DDT’s firing former FBI director James Comey and DDT’s son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer.

Information about Michael Flynn’s secret meetings and lobbying for the U.S. to spread nuclear power across the unstable Middle East, possibly with Russia’s help, have been expanded with the knowledge that he was joined by Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, who still has security clearance. Michael Flynn’s legal fees are supposedly about $1 million, and he’s asking for donations. DDT and Don Jr. don’t have problems with their legal bills: they’re using money from DDT’s 2020 reelection campaign and the RNC. This the first case of a sitting president using campaign funds for criminal matters.

Facebook’s advertising against Clinton paid by Russia continues with Mueller’s investigating DDT’s campaign digital operation and its overseer, his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Billionaire Robert Mercer’s data firm, Cambridge Analytica, made Facebook’s fake news into Propaganda Center for DDT.

Michael Cohen, former DDT lawyer, will be required to testify in an open hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee instead of a closed meeting with staff because he broke his agreement not to release a public statement before the meeting.

Nicaragua has decided to sign the Paris climate agreement leaving the United States alone with Syria in opposition.

Back on the home front:

White House staffers are flocking to headhunters, seeking positions in the private sector. The turnover date seems to be January, one year less than usual for new presidential administrations. White supremacist Sebastian Gorka, fired from the White House, already got a new gig as “chief strategist” with the “MAGA Coalition,” that supports political candidates who will “compete against globalist corporatists interests.” His first gig was with Sarah Palin—yes, the former VP candidate—at a rally for far right evangelist Roy Moore at the September 26 runoff for Alabama GOP senate candidate. A sample of Moore’s rhetoric about Native Americans and Asians from the state Supreme Court Justice who refused to follow the law on marriage equality:

“Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A President? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”

Opposing Moore is appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), the preference of DDT and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). DDT lukewarm comments at Strange’s rally won’t inspire confidence. “I don’t know him. I met him once.” And “that is the tallest human being I’ve ever seen.” DDT said that he might be making a mistake in backing Strange and would rather be home watching television. It was—“strange.”

The 10th Circuit Court ruled that BLM violated federal law by failing to consider climate impact of four coal leases on federal land in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Three of the leases are actively being mined, and two of them produce about 20 percent of the coal used to generate electricity. A month ago, a federal judge made the same ruling in blocking the expansion of an underground Montana coal mine.

California is suing DDT in opposition to his “wall” because it is unconstitutional and breaches environment laws.

DDT is using a report that censored data in a refugee policy in attempt to show that refugees from war-torn countries “are not a net benefit to the U.S. economy.” His HHS report shows that refugees brought in “$63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost.”

A teamsters union representing 120,000 New York workers has declared itself a “sanctuary union” after ICE deported long time member Eber Garcia Vasquez. His asylum case was turned down in 2013, but he annually checked in with immigration authorities and had applied for a green card. Vasquez’s wife and three children are U.S. citizens.

DDT’s old travel ban expires tomorrow, and he needs new plans. One may be to extend the existing six countries that he thinks have not protected against terrorists and criminals coming to the U.S. The current ban goes to the Supreme Court on October 10 for argument. After over eight months since his inauguration and declaration of bans, DDT hasn’t been able to put together a vetting system.

The Trump Organization, still owned by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), has decided to clean up DDT’s bio for posterity. Gone are all references to his birther fight—his attempts to prove that President Obama was not born in the United States—and all his bankruptcies and other failed deals. It also removes any mention to Macy’s dropping DDT’s product line because of his racist remarks about Mexican immigrants and reference to Istanbul’s Trump Towers. DDT doesn’t own that property or most buildings labeled “Trump” outside the United States, but the Turkish owners bought his name for between $1 million and $5 million. A year ago, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted the towers to be renamed because of DDT’s Islamophobic comments.

As part of DDT’s order for anti-leak training at all executive agencies, the EPA required its employees to undergo the hour-long training. Part of the instruction is that they cannot release any information even if unclassified. Training materials were leaked to the press. The EPA has received press about its cozy relationship with the fossil fuel industry, its purging federal scientists, and its removal of information about climate change from the EPA website. Other information includes the EPA’s rolling back regulations.

Could this be considered a death threat? Ann Coulter suggested “death squads” for removing the president who didn’t live up to her anti-immigration expectations.

September 22, 2017

DDT’s UN Speech:  World War III, Anyone?

Voters for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) claim that they prefer him because he can get them jobs and make them well-off. They like his love of violence even better. At rallies, his audience cheered when he told his supporters to physically attack any protesters and promised to pay for the lawyer if his supporter would attack a black protester. The audience yells in approval when he bullies, threatens, and humiliates any opposition—women, people with disabilities, people of color, anyone who criticizes him. His proposed budget cuts taking money from helping people to vastly increasing the military expenditures show how little he cares for humanity.

During his campaign, DDT endorsed torture and applauded waterboarding. As president, he retweets videos of himself physically attacking others, the most recent a doctored video of his golf ball hitting Hillary Clinton in the back and forcing her to fall. In a speech to Long Island (NY) police officers, he called on them to be physically brutal and then issued directives to send military surplus weapons to local law enforcement. DDT’s first pardon was in admiration for a man who physically abused thousands of people, primarily minorities, under the guise of being a county sheriff.

DDT’s executive orders lead to physical abuse, for example the Muslim ban and the direction to immigration to drag all Latinx into deportation, including those who contribute to society and who are U.S. citizens. He wants to take health care from tens of millions, leading to illness and death, and incarcerate far more people, partly because of misguided perspective of drug use. In less than eight months since his inauguration, DDT has called for U.S. military action—or actually perpetuated this—in several Middle Eastern countries (especially Iran), Venezuela, Mexico, North Korea, Libya, Pakistan, and probably other places that I’ve missed.

The only places that escape DDT’s ire are Russia, Israel, and countries where his name is on a building. He even admires the violence that other countries wreak on people in the U.S. He denies that he apologized to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the security force’s violence while Erdogan was in the U.S. Yet this past week, DDT effusively praised his “friend,” Erdogan, and gave him “high marks” for “running a very difficult part of the world.” DDT described his introduction of Erdogan as “a great honor and privilege” just hours after Erdogan supporters beat up protesters at an Erdogan speech.

Of the foreign leaders from 32 countries that DDT has hosted, 15 are from nations scoring in the bottom half of the 112 democracies measured by Global Democracy Ranking or from nations that have autocratic rule.

DDT’s speeches and interviews during the UN General Assembly demonstrate his need to express violence and insult world leaders. Instead of using diplomacy, he promised to eradicate North Korea at any provocation, as if killing over 25 million people—not to mention the ten million residents of Seoul, South Korea—was no problem. In the same speech, he attacked Iran by threatening to break it. Unlike any other U.S. president who has spoken before UN representatives, DDT delights in violence brutality as a reflection of his power.

DDT loses his favorability rating in the United States, the countries throughout the world—except for Israel and Russia—have an increasingly unfavorable view of him. Without positive views from those two countries, the averages for favoring him (50 percent) and trusting the U.S. (27 percent) would have been far lower. By August, confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing in international affairs had dropped from 64 percent for President Obama to 22 percent to DDT. If it’s any consolation to DDT, George W. Bush’s ratings were worse by six years after he was first inaugurated, but DDT still has over three years to get there. Detailed comparisons of the last three presidents are available here.

Events at the UN may have brought down his favorable ratings even more. His “joke” about the collapse of Venezuela fell flat:

“The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.”

After four seconds, he received a very tepid response.

DDT the ignorant appeared when he created a new African country—Nambia. In fact, he praised their health care. There are the countries of Namibia, Zambia, and Gambia; DDT could have meant any one of them. But there is no Nambia—yet. With this speech, DDT made the United States the joke of this year’s UN General Assembly. Even more than their health care, DDT likes their resources. “My friends go to Africa to get rich,” he said. Namibia is one of the biggest producers of uranium in the world. “I congratulate you,” DDT said about his friends. “They’re spending a lot of money.”

DDT the bully emerged during his lecture to North Korea as he repeated his name of “rocket man” for a country’s leader. In his juvenile attempt to taunt Kim Jung-Un before an international community, DDT embarrassed the United States. The speech included a casual threat to annihilate over 25 million people by saying that he might “totally destroy” North Korea.

Fifteen years ago, a U.S. president spoke to the UN about his unnecessary preemptive war with Iraq that he started the next spring to divert attention from the war in Afghanistan. George W. Bush’s action led to hundreds of thousands dead and wounded, a vast increase in the number of terrorists throughout the world, trillions of dollars taken from the people of the United States, complete ruin for several Middle East countries, and the disappearance of finding terrorists in Afghanistan. DDT’s speech before the UN shows that he hopes to emulate George W. by diverting attention from North Korea to one in Iran.

The deal that DDT ridiculed prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon for years. UN inspectors verified that Iran is complying with the terms of a deal to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon for a long time. DDT’s administration has verified that Iran is keeping its bargain, and the world, including Russia, supports it. DDT’s threats have caused Iran to develop a nuclear weapon if the U.S. breaks the deal and then confront the U.S. in war. At the same time, breaking the Iran deal would show the world that DDT refuses to seek a diplomatic solution with North Korea and fail to support the U.S.

About DDT’s message to the UN, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said, “It was the wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience.” Iran took the opportunity to be critical of the U.S. at a sympathetic international forum.The U.S. has its problem with Sweden. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has threatened retaliation if the country, one of 122 backing a UN treaty for a total nuclear weapons ban, signs the treaty. His letter states that Sweden’s signature could affect U.S./Sweden military cooperation with U.S. military support and threatened U.S. support for Sweden’s role in NATO.

Sarah Snyder, an associate professor who studies human rights at the American University’s School of International Service, said that DDT’s language in his speech such as “loser terrorists” is more suitable for schoolyard fights than arguing “about international policy.” DDT’s vocabulary hasn’t improved an continues to be counterproductive. After Kim called DDT a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard,” DDT shot back with “madman.”

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov approved of DDT’s message that “the U.S. would not impose its way of life on others,” but it didn’t approve of DDT’s namecalling. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said:

 “We continue to strive for the reasonable and not the emotional approach…of the kindergarten fight between children.”

Israeli’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported DDT’s speech in his own delivery to the UN because of his hatred for Iran.

Current senior aides argued against DDT’s attacks on Kim Jung-Un, including his use of “Rocket Man” in an attempt to humiliate the young leader, telling him that it would lead to an empasse with North Korea. (First, the weapons are missiles, not rockets, and second, Elton John’s “Rocket Man” is a sympathetic figure.) Former aide Sebastian Gorka claimed that he and another former white supremacist aide Steve Bannon helped write the speech before they left the White House. Current chief of staff, however, looked unhappy about the speech as DDT delivered it.

Thinkprogress.com noted: “Nowhere in the speech did Trump appear to see the irony in threatening other countries at an institution meant to uphold peacekeeping. Nor did Trump explain why other countries would want to negotiate with an administration that’s so eager to undermine America’s international agreements, such as the Iran nuclear deal.”

The world is suffering from the results of climate change in just the past month—an unprecedented large number of strong hurricanes, two earthquakes in Mexico after a hurricane, landslides in the Congo and Sierre Leone, and flooding in South Asia. Yet DDT spends his time planning how to pander to his supporters by inciting violence that can lead to World War III.

September 21, 2017

Don’t Go Away, Hillary!

Much of the coverage of a book released in September, What Happened, has been extremely negative as both right and left media tell her to go away. They treat her as badly as they did during her campaign and blame her for her election loss after a perfect storm of opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Russian influence, incessant lying about her, and the release of negative information from former FBI director James Comey less than two weeks before the election despite the his refusal to release evidence about Russians colluding with the campaign of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT).

Heather Digby Parton, however, has a different perspective, as the following article shows:

I’m not going to review Hillary Clinton’s book What Happened, since there are approximately 12,576 reviews out there already, with more to come. But I do want to discuss one issue that came up in the book that has been addressed in a couple of those reviews. That would be the fact that the press regularly and tiresomely slags Clinton for her failures in the 2016 campaign but have still completely failed to acknowledge their own.

There are many aspects of this story that are unique to Clinton. As Politico’s Jonathan Allen, then of Vox, wrote at the beginning of the campaign, there was an establishment media groupthink about her that was obvious, although the press itself seemed completely oblivious to it. (I wrote about this on Salon in real time as it unfolded and after the race was over. )

Allen put it bluntly:

“The Clinton rules are driven by reporters’ and editors’ desire to score the ultimate prize in contemporary journalism: the scoop that brings down Hillary Clinton and her family’s political empire. At least in that way, Republicans and the media have a common interest.”

Indeed they did. (As it turns out, maybe some members of the Russian government did too.) And one aspect of the coverage verged on outright corruption: the “deal” The New York Times and The Washington Post made with a Steve Bannon associate to publish excerpts of a book of lies called Clinton Cash that set the tone for much of the coverage to come.

The Atlantic’s James Fallows addressed the press obsession with the Clinton email story in his review of What Happened:

“No sane person can believe that the consequences of last fall’s election — for foreign policy, for race relations, for the environment, for anything else you’d like to name (from either party’s perspective) — should have depended more than about 1 percent on what Hillary Clinton did with her emails. But this objectively second- or third-tier issue came across through even our best news organizations as if it were the main thing worth knowing about one of the candidates.”

David Roberts at Vox took on the subject by analyzing in depth the way the media reported one particular incident in the campaign: Hillary Clinton’s alleged “coal gaffe,” which he described as “navigating a hall of mirrors.” Her comment about putting coal miners out of business was poorly phrased, but as it was reported, it was also truncated and taken out of context. The way her response was then distorted by the GOP and the press as an illustration of Clinton’s disqualifying character flaws was the real crime, Roberts writes:

“Mainstream news outlets should stop treating ‘how it looks’ as though it’s some fact in the universe that they discover. They are the arbiters; they decide how it looks. They build and reinforce narratives. They seek out confirming evidence and ignore disconfirming evidence. They amplify some voices and not others. They direct attention, which is the coin of the realm in modern politics. If they draw attention to a bullshit scandal, they are the ones ensuring that it damages the campaign. If they play along with the ludicrous notion that Clinton loves firing coal miners, they are sanctioning and disseminating misinformation. They are not doing their jobs.”

Whether you are convinced by these arguments or not, it’s tempting to write them off as something that only pertains to Hillary Clinton. There is no doubt that the narratives spun around her in the campaign and for years prior were informed by systemic sexism. The press is no different from the rest of society in being unable to grapple with that reality. But in fact, this wasn’t the only time this happened.

The coverage of the 2000 presidential campaign, and to a lesser extent the 2004 campaign as well, had similar characteristics. In the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore, the media mercilessly abused the latter with a series of shallow character attacks that were both unfair and untruthful. Roberts’ analysis of Clinton and the “coal gaffe” is exactly the same sort of prejudicial coverage the media gave Gore for his “I invented the internet” and “Love Canal” gaffes, among a dozen others.

One vivid illustration of journalists’ collective disdain for Gore was reported in Time’s article about an early New Hampshire debate between Gore and his Democratic primary rival, Sen. Bill Bradley:

“The 300 media types watching in the press room at Dartmouth were, to use the appropriate technical term, totally grossed out. Whenever Gore came on too strong the room erupted in a collective jeer, like a gang of fifteen-year-old heathers cutting down some hapless nerd.”

Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank explained why the press corps was so hostile:

“Gore is sanctimonious, and that’s sort of the worst thing you can be in the eyes of the press. And he has been disliked all along, and it was because he gives a sense that he’s better than us — he’s better than everybody, for that matter, but the sense that he’s better than us as reporters. Whereas President Bush probably is sure that he’s better than us — he’s probably right, but he does not convey that sense. He does not seem to be dripping with contempt when he looks at us, and I think that has something to do with the coverage.”

Reporter Margaret Carlson explained in her book that one of the reasons the media gave Bush such good coverage was that he served Dove bars and designer water on the press plane, while Gore only offered granola bars and sandwiches.

As far as I know, the media have still never given their coverage of that campaign a second thought. Four years later, John Kerry was mocked for ordering the wrong cheese and drinking green tea and otherwise being a snobby New Englander without the common touch of George W. Bush, originally of Kennebunkport, Maine. And then there was 2016 and “her emails.”

None of this is to say that these candidates weren’t flawed or bear no responsibility for the outcome of those races. The point is that the press corps made a collective decision that they didn’t “like” these people and obsessively covered them in a trivial manner, as if they had been running for homecoming queen instead of president of the United States. With fake news and social media and foreign propaganda distorting our democracy, it’s past time for the press to stop behaving like the mean girls of D.C. High.

Parton’s comments above demonstrate the control that the media has over elections. Canadian Kristen Pyszczyk also published a piece discussing the disproportionate scrutiny Clinton received as a woman. Mitt Romney used private email when he was the Massachusetts governor and then destroyed them when he left office. Congress ignored the 13 attacks on U.S. embassies killing 65 people, and embassy attacks during the Reagan presidency killed hundreds. Pyszczyk wrote:

“We live in a culture where women are shamed for speaking up, seeking power and existing successfully in the public eye. (Check out the comments section to this piece if you don’t believe me!) The mere fact that Clinton is still speaking out is incredible.”

Pyszczyk was 100-percent right about the comments. She also repeated Carly Fiorina’s “joke” on the campaign trail:

“If you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name an accomplishment of Hillary Clinton.”

Here are a few:

First ever student commencement speaker at Wellesley College. Distinguished graduate of Yale Law School. Former Director of the Arkansas Legal Aid Clinic. Former civil litigation attorney. Former Law Professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Former First Lady of Arkansas. Former First Lady of the United States, and the first FLOTUS in US History to hold a postgraduate degree. First ex-FLOTUS in US History to be elected to the United States Senate. Elected by the… State of New York to serve two terms in the United States Senate. Former US Secretary of State. GRAMMY Award Winner.

And a few more. Clinton:

  • Laid the groundwork for today’s healthcare plan supported by a majority of people.
  • Helped develop State Children’s Health Insurance Program for poor children.
  • Helped create the Adoption and Safe Families Act and the Foster Care Independence Act.
  • Successfully fought to increase research funding for prostate cancer and asthma at the National Institute of Health (NIH).
  • Spearheaded investigations into mental illness plaguing veterans of the Gulf War revealing Gulf War Syndrome.
  • Championed the Violence Against Women Act
  • Helped create the DOJ office on Violence Against Women.
  • Worked to secure over $21 billion in funding for the World Trade Center redevelopment after 9/11.
  • Drafted the first bill to compensate and offer the health services for 9/11 first responders after taking a leading role in the investigation of these health consequences.
  • Introduced the Pediatric Research Equity Act to alleviate over-dosages for children with chronic diseases like epilepsy and asthma.
  • Proposed a revival of the New Deal-era Home Owners’ Loan Corporation to help homeowners refinance their mortgages in the wake of the 2008 financial disaster.
  • Brokered human rights with Burma and acted as a major proponent of ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.
  • Called for the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan that led to his death.
  • Constantly traveled as Secretary of State in diplomatic missions.
  • Co-founded the Clinton Foundation that improves living conditions for nearly 400 million people in over 180 countries.

Before that:

  • Founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families to educate the public on children’s issues.
  • Chaired Arkansas Educational Standards Committee, which created new state school standards.
  • Founded Arkansas Home Instruction Program for Pre-School Youth.
  • Helped created Arkansas’ first neonatal intensive care unit.

This article has more.

And Carly Fiorina? She was fired as an executive because of serious problems at the company. Clinton has spent her life helping women, children, veterans, etc. while DDT who lies, bullies, cheats, and destroys everyone except the wealthy.

September 20, 2017

GOP Desperate to Pass Bad Bill to Get Re-elected

“We need to pass something–anything. We promised.” That’s the excuse behind the most recent care bill, the fourth one this year, that is the worst one thus far. And GOP senators admit that their bill is worse than the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Asked why the GOP bill is better, John Barrasso (R-WY) said that there “shouldn’t be” essential health care benefits in a health care bill.  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that some “big blue states” would be hit with huge cuts. “The CBO scoring is just a detail,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). “[States] can do it with less money,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), but he didn’t explain how—probably by not providing health care to as many people.

The bill, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) myopically said, “wouldn’t cut Alabama.” (Not everyone is that lucky: Louisiana, co-author Sen. Bill Cassidy’s state, will lose health insurance for 433,000 people.) Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said “it’s an improvement over Obamacare” because he will “get to vote for repeal it.” Kennedy has one concern about states’ rights in health care: he’s afraid that they may decide to have single-payer plans. He doesn’t want money from the “American taxpayer” to go toward single-payer plans despite the fact that “blue” states pay more to the federal government than they get back. When Kennedy asked for an amendment to stop these states’ rights, Lindsey Graham assured him it was in the bill. Republicans want state innovation but only by their rules.

But Graham may not know what’s in the bill. A senior GOP aide commented, “If there was an oral exam on the contents of the proposal, graded on a generous curve, only two Republicans could pass it. And one of them isn’t Lindsey Graham.” It was obvious he knew nothing about the bill that he “co-authored” during questions from a reporter. The aide added, “You could do a post office renaming and call it ‘repeal-replace’ and 48 Republican senators would vote for it sight unseen.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy, co-author of the bill, has this reason for justifying a bad bill.

“We must [pass the bill by September 30] because there is a mother and father whose child will have insurance because of Graham Cassidy Heller Johnson.”

Otherwise Cassidy flat-out lied in defense of his bill by claiming that it gives more coverage to people and protects people with preexisting conditions. His office claims that the bill, which slashes funding, will provide more funding to every state. Only 15 states will benefit financially. The plan carries the nickname “Screw Blue Bill” because it removes $57,547 per Californian and $33,058 per New Yorker. But states that hurt the most are the ones in poverty that supported Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and expanded Medicaid under the ACA—Louisiana, Arkansas, Arizona, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Maine, Iowa, Alaska, New Mexico, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Montana. And it hurt seniors, disabled, and the poor everywhere. They all have GOP Senators who will vote to take health insurance from their constituents. (More about these states here.) These are the winners and losers in the next decade.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who will push the bill through the House if the Senate passes it, tweeted in favor of the bill:

“I’ll take federalism over Obamacare any day.”

It’s not “federal”: the bill turns money over to states, some of which will feed the funding into balancing their budgets instead of health care. This message comes from the man who has lived off federal money since he was 16 and got Social Security.

The Congressional Budget Office doesn’t have time to score the bill, but experts believe it will throw the same tens of millions of people off health care insurance as earlier GOP bills or be worse. A CBO scoring is mandated for Senate bills, but they plan to vote without “point estimates of the effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums for at least several weeks.” Without this knowledge and without reading the bill, senators will be blindly voting on the bill using their personal assumptions.

Cassidy-Graham health care bill would have these impacts:

  • Proposed block grants for states that are below current funding will eliminate marketplace subsidies and enhanced matching rate for the Medicaid expansion and disappear in 2026. States have no requirement to provide coverage or financial assistance to low- and moderate-income people.
  • A per capita cap will replace Medicaid’s federal-state financial partnership that cuts funding for seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children.
  • People with preexisting conditions will lose coverage because the only stipulation for premiums is “affordable” with no consideration for a person’s income.
  • Withdrawal of mandated coverage for essential health benefits means people can purchase health insurance without provisions for mental health, substance abuse treatment, maternity care, and hospitalization.
  • People with preexisting conditions will lose coverage because the only stipulation for premiums is “affordable” with no consideration for a person’s income.
  • States can waive age rating rules, essential health benefits, the prohibition on medical underwriting, prohibition on annual and lifetime limits, and the required medical loss ratio for plans and enrollees who receive some benefit from the state’s block grant funding.
  • The loss of subsidies and insurance mandate destabilize the individual insurance market, risking its collapse.
  • The bill prevents any impetus to fix the ACA, proposed by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) that had a September 27 deadline to stabilize health care for the coming year.

States that created fewer uninsured under the ACA will lose their money to states that were failures. (Another version of winners and losers)

 

Just ignore protesters. That’s the position of GOP senators and DDT who are committed to passing this bill. DDT blocked a 41-year-old woman with State 4 cancer on his Twitter feed because of her appeals to him. The Cassidy-Graham bill would place a $140,510 surcharge on an annual health premium for a 40-year-old woman with metastatic cancer.

Half the governors signing a letter opposing the Cassidy-Graham bill to decimate health care are not Democrats. They were joined in opposition by GOP Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland. Sixteen patient and provider groups, from the American Heart Association to the March of Dimes, criticized the bill for destroying Medicaid and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Other medical groups urged Republicans to fix the Affordable Care Act instead of the repeal and were joined by hospitals and insurers, appalled by the unworkable and irresponsible concept of 50 insanely different state health care systems.

Senators supporting the Cassidy-Graham bill are pushing hard because September 30 is the deadline to pass any bill with a simple majority. After that the filibuster goes into effect.

Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ)  governor, Doug Ducey, asked him to vote for the bill despite Ducey’s not knowing how much money his state will lose. (Governor Ducey, you’ll lose over $1 million a year until 2026 when you’ll start losing lots more. Does that make a difference?) Twelve days ago, McCain said that health care reform “must” follow regular order. He may rationalize a couple of hearings, on before the Senate Homeland Security Committee with no jurisdiction over the issue, as “regular.” The bill has two witnesses—co-author Cassidy and Graham. GOP Senators plan to change almost 20 percent of the world’s largest economy and endanger the health security of tens of millions of people without minimal committee hearings and no testimony from experts, debates, or public input—all for a partisan win.

A reporter who interviewed nine GOP senators found these five lies, according to Forbes: (1) States will be more “efficient”; (2) It’s the last chance to do anything; (3) The ACA is responsible for rising healthcare premiums; (4) The decrease in future rates of growth is not a cut; (5) States need to be the innovators; and (6) The problem is some states get the lion’s share of the federal money. As the conservative magazine pointed out, the one truth is that the entire issue with the Republicans is “about politics and not public policy.”

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the Nation wrote:

“GOP legislators … assume low-wage and moderate-income families should have less health-care protection than the wealthy…. Republicans want to strip millions of health insurance, including seniors in the last days of life, the disabled and women with infants. Democrats want everyone to have the right to affordable health care. There is a choice.”

Passing the Cassidy-Graham bill destroys both health care and the democratic process.

September 19, 2017

Follow Website on Russian Collusion

Filed under: Russia — trp2011 @ 9:43 PM
Tags: , , ,

Whenever news about the involvement of Russia in the presidential election comes up, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) diverts the news elsewhere by some outrageous statement. Rob Reiner, film director and political activist, and David Frum, former George W. Bush speechwriter and senior editor at the Atlantic, are leading a group to collect news about Russian interference in one place on a new website, investigaterussia.org. The website, launched today to disseminate information about Russia’s involvement in U.S. politics, is from The Committee to Investigate Russia. Members on the committee include James Clapper, a former Director of National Intelligence; Charlie Sykes, a conservative commentator; Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

In the past, attacks on U.S. democracy from foreign countries have brought the people of the United States together to fight these invasions, Reiner said. Russia’s offensive, however, has only separated people because Russian propaganda has been so pervasive that conservatives believe it. A strong focus of the Russia offensive now is to help undermine the credibility of our nation’s media. News about the results of U.S. intelligence agencies delving into Russia’s attempts to sway people with their lies is even more vital because social media continues to disseminate the false propaganda coming from Russia. The goal of the Committee to Investigate Russia is to put widespread data from hundreds to sources in one location.

Although none of the committee members support DDT, they come from different political parties. Reiner said:

“This isn’t about politics, which is why this project is backed by both conservatives and liberals and people with such deep national security expertise. It’s about a foreign invasion. It’s important that every American, regardless of party, can stay informed about and understand this critical threat. This is about ensuring the Russians cannot wage war on us without Americans knowing about it and making sure our elected leaders do something about it.”

David Frum said:

“Russia is not the Soviet Union. They have to leverage America’s weaknesses against America, including, above all, our intense partisan and other divisions. We are Trump skeptics of the willingness to believe things because they make you feel good in the moment.”

On-going investigations from Congress and a special investigation group led by Robert Mueller have revealed evidence of Russian interference that threatens democracy. The purpose of this group is to educate people with updates, investigations, past news, history, timelines, and people related to the danger from Russia.

Reiner explained the reason for communicating the danger that Russia presents:

“The answer is Republicans and Democrats coming together and saying this cannot stand. Make no mistake about it: if there was an atom bomb dropped on us, we would pay attention. What has happened is conceivably way worse than that. Because it’s not just disrupting the election. Cyber warfare has disrupted electrical grids, nuclear power plants and as of now, they’ve hacked into our nuclear plants and electric grids over 50 times this year.”

The right-wing press such as Breitbart has tried to persuade people that the news about Russia’s meddling is “fake,” but Jon Huntsman, DDT’s nominee for ambassador to Russia, testified in his confirmation hearing:

“There is no question — underline no question — that the Russia government interfered with the U.S. election last year and Moscow continues to meddle in processes of our friends and allies.”

 

 

The website for the Committee to Investigate Russia describes itself as follows:

The Russian Active Measures campaign aimed at the United States has been exposed. Using hacking, Twitter armies, and fake news, the Kremlin engaged in an aggressive effort to subvert the American democratic process. Now, only months into his term of office, the President and his staff are facing multiple investigations in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and by a Special Counsel for the Department of Justice.

The Committee to Investigate Russia is a nonprofit, non-partisan resource provided to help Americans recognize and understand the gravity of Russia’s continuing attacks on our democracy. All relevant information is aggregated in one place to provide context and allow users to see the full picture of what Russia has done and will continue to do unless we start paying closer attention.

For generations, people have fought to protect democracy. Now it is our turn.

DDT has consistently refused to block Russia’s interference in U.S. domestic affairs. People who want to protect democracy in the United States should sign up for this website. Investigaterussia.org

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