Nel's New Day

February 22, 2017

Deportation Guidelines Chaotic, Destructive to All

Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) timing is suspect in his attempt to distract people from the horrific things he does. On the same day that he announced he was not racist—trying to cover for his avoidance of the topic since he was inaugurated–his administration released new draconian guidelines for deportation and the construction of his border wall. The next day Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly went to Mexico to mend fences that DDT had put up between him and Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

It’s the same approach that DDT used on January 25 when he gave out his first executive orders on immigration and the wall, leading the Mexican president to cancel his plans to visit the United States within a few days. Since then, DDT has threatened to send U.S. military into Mexico to battle crime because Peña Nieto couldn’t handle it. This conversation followed DDT’s frequent campaign accusations that Mexico deliberately sent their drug dealers and rapists to the U.S.

With the new guidelines for deportation, DDT seems to think that any undocumented person in the United States just gets dropped on the other side of the border, no matter their country of origin. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), one of a group of U.S. senators visiting Mexico last weekend, said that migrants to the U.S. are largely not from Mexico but crossing the country from other parts of Latin America. He said that the U.S. needs Mexico’s cooperation to deal with that problem. DDT’s radical anti-Mexico rhetoric has energized progressive Mexican political parties, worrying business leaders on both sides of the border, and thousands of people rallied against DDT in Mexico City a few days ago.

According to the new guidelines, anyone with an immigration violation can be deported. No longer will the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency prioritize the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants who commit serious offenses. No “classes or categories of removal aliens” will be exempt from potential enforcement, according to the ICE website. Undocumented workers can be deported for paying taxes if they are using a false Social Security number. Immigrants who have completed their jail sentences are on the deportation list.

The old guidelines subjected immigrants to “expedited removal” without pleading their cases in front of immigration judges if they were caught within 14 days of entering the country without authorization and within 100 miles of the two contiguous countries of Canada and Mexico. New guidelines changed that time limit to two years and allows officials bypass due process protections such as court hearings during that time.

Unaccompanied children fleeing violence in their home countries to seek humanitarian relief will be affected by the new guidelines. International law requires that these non-citizens have the right to make a case that they left these countries to avoid persecution or death, but they will be deported if they cannot immediately present documents explaining a “credible” fear to apply for asylum. The 59,692 unaccompanied children who came across the southern U.S. border in 2016 face this deportation. New guidelines indicate that children reunited with their parents in the U.S. will no longer be “unaccompanied” and can be deported.

ICE can take away children from parents legally in the U.S. who smuggle them into the country under the pretense of child abuse by submitting them to this process and be referred for criminal prosecution. They may also face charges of human trafficking. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had unsuccessfully tried to persuade past AG Loretta Lynch to follow this procedure, but she is gone and Sessions is in charge.

Another part of the guidelines restores the Secure Communities Program, allowing ICE to get help from local law enforcement for detaining and deporting immigrants, making these officials de facto immigration agents. It also terminates the Priority Enforcement Program that prioritized serious crimes for deportation and asked for leniency for immigrants with longstanding ties to the United States.

DHS plans to hire 10,000 or more additional agents, expand the number of detention facilities, and create an ICE office to help families of those killed by undocumented workers. DDT has not identified the source of billions of dollars required for these guidelines. Undocumented immigrants will have their crimes publicized, and they will be stripped of privacy protections. Although Dreamers, who were brought to the United States as young children, are not to be targeted unless they commit crimes, ICE agents have been violating this order.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the new guidelines show that “the No. 1 priority is that people who pose a threat to our country are immediately dealt with.” Yet crime is lower among immigrants than native-born people of the United States.

Lawyers and advocates for immigrants said the new policies could still be challenged in court, and some courts in states such as Illinois, Oregon, and Pennsylvania are not holding immigrants for up to 48 hours beyond the scheduled release from detention. Since at least 1886, courts have used the 14th Amendment to give some constitutional equality and fair treatment to non-citizens. Many states and cities are not using law enforcement workers to identify undocumented immigrants, a federal responsibility.

Two former Senate aides for Sessions drafted the plan with no input from career DHS policy staffers. Much of it came from a 1996 law disregarded as either unenforceable or absurd, including the part that returns people “to the foreign contiguous territory from which they arrived.” The memo states that the U.S. can save money that way. Nothing was said about the security problems along the border as undocumented immigrants are pushed back and forth.

DDT said that he would send back only criminals, but the redefinition of crime includes everyone in the nation who came in without a proper visa or overstayed a visit. The idea to hire 10,000 new agents overlooks the fact that the U.S. can’t fill the existing positions. Sixty percent of applicants to the Border Patrol fail the mandated polygraph, and those who are hired aren’t sent into the field for 18 months. As for using existing law enforcement officials, police departments in the largest cities don’t participate because of their belief that it erodes the trust between officers and the communities that they are protecting.

Beyond the destruction of families and lives, the new guidelines will erase much of the labor pool for farm workers, especially in the West and Southwest. About 57 percent of the nation’s entire agricultural workforce is undocumented. Other industries—meatpacking, building, healthcare, restaurant and retail service, for example—are dependent on immigrant labor. Immigrants comprise 40 percent of Wisconsin’s dairy industry workers and almost one in three U.S. farming and fishing workers is from Mexico. The 8 million undocumented immigrants who are employed comprise over five percent of all workers and are clustered in low-wage industries, frequently making under minimum wage.

Alabama has already experienced the devastation from fewer undocumented immigrants after Gov. Robert Bentley, now on the verge of impeachment, signed a law causing these workers to flee the state. Farmers had to plant less because their crops had rotted in the field in the previous year. Georgia did the same thing, and farmers lost 40 percent of their workers along with $140 million worth of crops in just the first year. Farmers tried to hire local workers, but they couldn’t even last a day. Prisoners were sent out to pick crops, but they couldn’t endure the work. Even with visas for farm workers, farmers have had to watch their crops rot because of bureaucratic difficulties.

DDT’s plan could cost the economy $5 trillion in ten years—that’s $500 billion a year—with unauthorized workers contributing about 3 percent of private-sector gross domestic product.

As the graph in this article shows, no state supports DDT’s deportation plan, even if a majority of their voters supported DDT in the election. Let’s just hope that they remember what DDT is doing in the 2018 election.

DDT’s racist plan concentrates on Hispanics, who comprise fewer than half the number of undocumented immigrants, and stereotypes all of them as criminals. The plan shreds lives, families, communities, and businesses; it is an action that touches everyone in the nation in some way–physically, emotionally, and financially.

As usual, DDT controls people with unsubstantiated fears. He loves creating chaos, and the nation is allowing him to play with the country as he would with his other toys. As usual, he controls people with unsubstantiated fears.

 

February 10, 2017

DDT: Week Three – Part 1

Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) third week was rougher than the first two. His declaring moral equivalence between the United States and Russia called out condemnation from both conservatives and progressives. General Barry McCaffrey, now retired, said his statement was “the most anti-American statement ever made by the president of the United States.”

The UK’s House of Commons Speaker said that he didn’t want DDT to speak before Parliament because of its opposition to racism and sexism and support for equality and an independent judiciary. One of three people to make the decision about DDT’s speaking in Westminster Hall, John Bercow said to applause, “An address by a foreign leader to both houses of Parliament is not an automatic right. It is an earned honor.”

Dissatisfaction with the government—now entirely Republican—is the most important issue facing the nation. DDT, in his continued war against the press, tweeted, “Any negative polls are fake news,” and deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka added that the White House will use the phrase “fake media” to attack journalists “until the media understands how wrong that [anti-Trump] attitude is.” In DDT-World, all protesters are also paid; his counselor Kellyanne Conway told GOP legislative staffers that the constituents calling their bosses don’t represent “real people.”

Other DDT disasters in the past week:

Russia & Michael Flynn: Nine intelligence officers have declared that DDT’s National Security Advisor discussed lifting sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last December, and two of them said that Flynn promised that the problem would be reviewed just immediately after DDT’s inauguration. Until two days ago, Michael Flynn denied doing this, but yesterday his spokesman said that Flynn couldn’t remember but maybe he did. Flynn’s behavior can be considered an illegal interference between the President Obama’s White House and Russia as well as continuing the conclusion that Russia had interfered in the recent presidential election. VP Mike Pence, who swore that Flynn never discussed sanctions with Russia, is disturbed about finding out the truth, according to his aides. DDT, who cannot be separated from his television watching, said that he is unaware of the controversy.

Judicial Review of White House Muslim Ban: A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled to continue blocking DDT’s travel ban because it violated the Fifth Amendment’s due process access to courts. Some of the findings:

The ruling applies nationwide even if no federal court blocks it.

Two states have standing to sue on behalf of thousands of foreign students, employees and residents with legal visas.

Courts can receive classified information to determine its findings—in answer to DDT’s statement about how the courts don’t know how scary the world it.

The court cannot rely upon the government’s contention that the Executive Order no longer applies to lawful permanent residents….

“Moreover, in light of the Government’s shifting interpretations of the Executive Order, we cannot say that the current interpretation by White House counsel, even if authoritative and binding, will persist past the immediate stage of these proceedings.”

Before the decision, DDT tweeted nine times criticizing and threatening the judges if they didn’t rule in his favor. He hasn’t decided whether he will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. My guess is that he’ll sign more executive orders to ban Muslims, ones written again by Steve Bannon, that DDT thinks will survive a court hearing.

Lies about Terrorist Attacks: DDT accused the press of “intentionally” covering up terrorist attacks and then issued a list of 78 “underreported” global attacks since 2014 to prove the statement. The list included the San Bernardino shooting, the nightclub massacre in Orlando last summer, and the terrorist attacks in Paris, all widely reported, but skipped any terrorist acts by white supremacists and Islamophobes, including the mass killing by a white French Canadian at a Quebec mosque.

Trouble with Obamacare?: DDT suggested that he might wait until 2018 to do anything about the Affordable Care Act. Protesters are inundating town hall meetings with members of Congress who are sneaking out of meetings, calling the police for protection, locking the door so people can’t get in, or just canceling scheduled sessions. Even the representative from the reddest district in the nation is afraid to hold  town hall meetings because of protesters supporting health care. It’s just like the Tea Party from 2010 but in reverse.

Keeping the health care plan doesn’t stop DDT from hurting the people who voted for him—and others who didn’t. Proposed new rules would increase premiums for older customers 3.49 times as for the young, people applying for coverage during the year would have to prove a qualifying life change, and insurance could cut off insurance if premiums are a month late.

What Voter Fraud?: Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) won’t spend federal money to investigate a non-existent 3 million illegal voters in last fall’s election, DDT has assigned VP Mike Pence to head up a commission for that purpose. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 3 million votes.

Revised Executive Orders: DDT has been given a new version of his torture order that retreats his decision to open “black site” prisons with “coercive interrogation methods.” Thus far, DDT has not signed the new order. Even John Yoo, the George W. Bush DOJ torture official, expressed concern about the White House’s alarming conception of executive power.

Ridicule for Hotelier in the Oval Office: DDT’s obsession with his décor leads him to schedule as many events in the room as possible. Although suffering from a lack of concentration on intelligence details, DDT dwells on the new opulent golden drapes as he gives tours to visitors as he pages “through a book showing 17 window covering options,” according to The New York Times Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman.

DDT’s Ownership of Business: Despite his claims that he has nothing to do with his businesses, DDT still retains ownership and personally benefits from the government’s decisions, and his sons, who now supposedly operate the business, also participate in governmental decisions. DDT may no longer be president of the multiple companies, but he still financially profits from its activities. Documents show that the trust does not do away with other conflicts, such as his being executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice, which DDT cited in his speech last week, asking his audience to pray for the program’s ratings. A question also exists about the legality of his continued lease of the Washington hotel, owned by the federal government which prevents any elected official from benefiting from the property.

Attack on Nordstrom: After the retail chain decided not to carry Ivanka Trump’s fashion line, her father launched official tweets about how the corporation had treated her “so unfairly.” Former Obama White House ethics expert Norm Eisen called Trump’s tweet “outrageous” and offered to help Nordstrom sue the president. Two more retailers downgraded publicity on Ivanka’s “made in Asia” clothing line, eliciting a statement from Press Secretary Sean Spicer that the decision, based on the free market, was an attack on Ivanka.

Even “roll over and play dead” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chair of the Oversight Committee, chastised Kellyanne Conway for her blatant endorsement of Ivanka’s clothing line on Fox network. He found it “unacceptable” while ethics experts call it a definite violation of regulations banning executive branch employees from endorsing products and using their office for private gain of friends. Earlier Chaffetz had said that DDT’s attack on Nordstrom was not “a big deal” and that he was just acting like a doting father.  Thousands of people showed up at a Chaffetz town hall meeting, booing and chanting “do your job.”

Loss of Second DDT Legal Case in Two Weeks: South Carolina environmental regulators denied DDT’s request that he get state-paid pollution cleanup at his son’s company. Donald Trump, Jr. bought a company on possibly polluted land and named it Titan Atlas; when it failed, DDT bought out the debt, called the new company D B Pace, and then claimed he didn’t have to pay for the cleanup because he was a brand new owner. To qualify for state cleanup, the buyer can’t be related to the seller, and regulators stated that DDT didn’t give them enough financial information to rule in his favor. Last week, a judge ruled that DDT had to pay $6 million to members at the Trump National Jupiter Golf Course

Melania Trump’s Lawsuit against the UK Daily Mail: Four days ago, DDT’s wife announced in a defamation lawsuit that it would damage her ability to make new “licensing, branding, and endorsement” deals while she is the U.S. president’s wife. Her lawyer described this opportunity as a “once-in-a-lifetime” money making opportunity for clothing, cosmetics, fragrance, etc. She told the court she intended to pursue deals in “apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care, and fragrance.” The publication retracted information from a Slovenian magazine that she had once been a paid escort. Like her husband, Melania Trump admits that she is illegally using her position to make “millions.”

In addition to selecting a “security advisor” who sides with Russia, losing lawsuits, and finding himself involved in conflicts of interest, DDT’s popularity is dropping in Europe as well as in the United States. Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign minister, listed the differences of opinion between EU and DDT, including refugees, migration, climate change, the Iran deal, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She said that putting “America First” can find Europe, vital to U.S. economy and security, to be equally self-interested. Donald Tusk, EU Council president, has put DDT on a list of threats with radical Islam.

And that’s just part of DDT’s week—more tomorrow!

February 8, 2017

Senate Silences Woman, Allows Men to Talk

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 11:03 PM

The past three weeks have seen The U.S. Senate sink farther and farther into degradation, even changing their rules in order to meet without any Democrats present for presidential nominee conformations. Their purpose was to push through racist, sexist Trump nominees who lied on their applications, omitted salient information, used power in Senate to make money from purchasing stocks, employed an undocumented worker, physically assaulted his wife, was convicted of lying to Congress, clearly demonstrated incompetence for the nominated position, and much more. The bar is so low for approving a nominee that the new Secretary of Education received only 50 percent of the Senate vote, not even a passing grade in the schools that she will supervise.

Republicans are a long way from being “the party of Lincoln.” Early in his career, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) interned for another Kentucky senator, Sen. John Sherman Cooper, a liberal Republican who championed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. John Nichols described Cooper’s influence on McConnell who wrote, “Despite the considerable opposition from back home, Senator Cooper never wavered.” McConnell’s memoir praised Cooper for his courage during a long record of advancing “racial equality for every American citizen.”

Those days are long gone for McConnell. When respected Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) began reading a letter from Coretta Scott King about U.S. Attorney General nominee, Jeff Sessions, actions when he was Alabama attorney general, they told her to sit down and be quiet.

In the letter that Warren was not allowed to read, King wrote about why Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III should not become a federal judge:

“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts.… Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”

McConnell object that reading the letter “has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama…”

Warren expressed shock “that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate” and said, “I ask leave of the Senate to continue my remarks.” McConnell answered that she had violated Senate rules by “assailing the reputation of a colleague” and objected to her continuing. Warren appealed, but Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) announced, “Objection is heard. The senator will take her seat.” The party-line vote supported McConnell who declared that Warren had to be silenced because “she was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Coretta Scott King sent the letter to the Senate during Sessions’ failed confirmation hearing in 1986, but Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC), then-chair of the Judiciary Committee, failed to enter it into congressional record. Washington Post’s Wesley Lowry and others discovered it and made it public. Although the letter was written over 30 years ago, Sessions and other Republicans are still suppressing votes from minorities and low-income people, rights no longer protected by the Voting Rights Act because of a Supreme Court decision.

Republicans are proudly enacting voter suppression laws, announcing that this is the reason for passing them. An assertion from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) that over three million “illegals” gave Hillary Clinton the majority vote is fueling the fire of further voter suppression, and Jeff Sessions, now the U.S. Attorney General, will support increased disenfranchisement of millions of voters.

Warren was censured because of Rule 19, originally intended to maintain civility and decorum in the Senate. It was created 115 years ago when two senators started a fistfight over a disagreement regarding the annexation of the Philippines. After several other senators found themselves punched while trying to stop the fight, the Senate censured the two who started the fight and tightened its rules in floor debate. Scholars have found only two other times Rule 19 was invoked–1915 and 1952. McConnell said that Warrens quotes from King had crossed the line.

Which line that is may not be clear. Two years ago, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) accused McConnell of lying, saying “he is willing to say things that he knows are false.” When Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) asked Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) to lower his voice, Cotton started a shouting match with Schumer. On the Senate floor in 2004, VP Dick Cheney told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to “f—k yourself.” Less than a week ago, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) ridiculed Schumer for crying when he talked about relatives killed in the Holocaust.

Republicans showed an even greater level of hypocrisy when four male senators were permitted to read the letter from King. After Elizabeth Warren was told to shut up and sit down for the next 30 hours of debate about Sessions, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) read parts of the letter that had caused McConnell to invoke Rule 19 against Warren. No one stopped Merkley who concluded with this quote from King’s letter:

“I do not believe Jefferson Sessions possesses the requisite judgment, competence and sensitivity to the rights guaranteed by the federal civil rights laws to qualify for appointment to the federal district court.”

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) entered the letter into the congressional record, and Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bernie Sanders (D-VT) also read from the letter.

Cory Booker (D-NJ) added that he was “gravely disappointed” and found it “disturbing” that Warren was silenced while exercising her constitutional duty. He said, “She wasn’t just quoting something that she heard on the street. She was actually quoting Coretta Scott King.” Booker also tweeted, “McConnell didn’t just silence @SenWarren—he silenced civil rights icon Coretta Scott King.”

The gender of the person who was silenced did not go unnoticed by one of the men allowed to read the letter. In a tweet, Merkley asked, “Why silence only the woman?”

The passage of Jeff Sessions out of committee shows how far right the GOP has gone. In 1986, his confirmation failed by a vote of 10-8 in a Senate that had one fewer Democrat than the current one. Even worse, the silencing of Warren shows how drunk on power the Republicans are. They seem to be saying, “Rules be damned—we’ll just change or pervert them.” That’s the new normal. Forty-nine senators, mostly male, voted to keep one of their colleagues from speaking the facts about Sessions’ history. These facts about him kept him from being confirmed 30 years ago; now his same attitude toward minorities is just the new normal.

When Orrin Hatch (R-UT) accused Warren on the Senate floor of being indelicate in her opposition, he said, “Think of his wife. She is a really fine person.” He finished his diatribe against Warren by saying, “Even if everything she said was true, I don’t think that was the right thing to do.” Hatch had no thought for the people of the United States. And then those Republicans who agreed that Sessions is racist voted to make him the person in charge of racial equality in the United States.

No longer do Republicans try to cover up their racist attitudes that block minorities from voting, an activity that should be constitutional. Instead, they brag about how they have stopped them from voting.

And no longer do they try to conceal their disdain for women. The Republican senators followed the pattern found in many studies, that women who speak up are considered less competent and less suited to leadership yet more often accused of being too aggressive. The Senate ordered a woman to sit down and be silent because she was reading a letter from a black female activist during Black History Month.

Silencing Elizabeth Warren may only energize the Democratic base. We can only hope women voters get fed up being silenced by the Republicans.

February 7, 2017

Bannon Runs U.S. While Unhappy Trump Takes Heat

“Trump has skin thinner than his wife and an ego bigger than my ass,” Helen Philpot wrote on her insightful blog to her friend Margaret. At the same time, Donald Trump (DDT), who desperately needs accolades, suffers from popular culture’s ridicule and criticism. Comedians’ humor and magazine covers’ condemnation highlight the elevation of DDT’s chief strategist to de facto President of the United States.

In two memorable skits from Saturday Night Live last weekend, the one featuring Melissa McCarthy as Press Secretary Sean Spicer was a particular embarrassment to DDT because he hates weakness—and women, to DDT, are weak. Even worse for DDT, allies found the representation to be accurate. After McCarthy’s success, Rosie O’Donnell has offered to play Steve Bannon on SNL.

alec-baldwin-bannonAnother SNL skit last week portrayed Bannon as the Grim Reaper who pulls the strings for DDT’s actions. Playing DDT, Alec Baldwin alienates leaders of U.S. allies, and the Bannon character says, “It was just according to plan.” The Bannon figure moves to the president’s desk at the end of the skit while the DDT character becomes child-sized.

trevor-noahHarsher than SNL, Trevor Noah played “Who’s the Real President” on The Daily Show. His pick is, of course, Steve Bannon. Noah used the Bannon image on the Time cover as evidence that “even the ‘dishonest media’ recognizes that Bannon is the ‘real power behind the throne.’” Time titled Bannon as “The Great Manipulator.”

der-spiegelIn the past, DDT has (falsely) bragged about his appearances on the cover of Time. Thus far he hasn’t tweeted anything about his image on the cover of Der Spiegel with the words “America First.” The artwork shows how the United States is rising to the top—by beheading Lady Liberty.

der-spiegel-2-ny-daily-newsThis cover is a classier version of the New York Daily Post illustration in December 2015 after DDT first called for a complete ban on Muslims “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

 

cover-economistThe cover of The Economist, illustrated an unusually radical editorial:

 

“The bleak cadence of last month’s inauguration was still in the air when Donald Trump lobbed the first Molotov cocktail of policies and executive orders against the capital’s brilliant-white porticos. He has not stopped…. His grenade-chuckers-in-chief, Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller, have now carried that logic into government… The secrecy and confusion of the immigration ban are a sign not of failure, but of how his people shun the self-serving experts who habitually subvert the popular will. Trump’s politics of conflict extends, of course, to foreign policy, and that is where they see serious problems looming.

“A web of bilateralism and a jerry-rigged regionalism are palpably worse for America than the world Mr. Trump inherited. It is not too late for him to conclude how much worse, to ditch his bomb-throwers and switch course. The world should hope for that outcome. But it must prepare for trouble.”

MSNBC Joe Scarborough, known for his campaign support for DDT, broadcast a clip of the Alec Baldwin skit and the cover from Time on The Morning Joe Show. During his monologue, he asked if Bannon was “calling the shots.” An hour later, DDT tweeted:

“I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it.”

Not everyone. The day before the tweet, Madeleine Albright, secretary of State for Bill Clinton, told CNN that she assumed Bannon was “the person that’s pulling the strings.” Other pundits and politicians have suggested the same idea.

DDT’s ego is suffering from the belief that he is not in control and the fact that a mere member of his staff has taken the place on Time that he thinks should belong to him. A White House source said, “I assume President Trump was not pleased with the Time cover, because that is reserved for Donald Trump.” Trump-supporter and GOP strategist John Feehery said, “Any time you have staff members on the cover of Time magazine, that’s a problem.”

trump-bannon-big-boyBannon’s presidential duties include writing vague, confusing executive orders with no professional vetting, ones that DDT sometimes signs without reading them. A prime example is the one that put Bannon on the National Security Council while removing career military and intelligence people. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence are allowed to attend only when issues concern their “direct areas of responsibilities.” Crazy torturer Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor, stayed.

Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said, “This is a ‘Holy Crap’ moment.” One of these happened with Bannon’s involvement in the disastrous Yemen raid that killed a Navy Seal and many civilian women and children but leaving its target, Al Qaeda Leader Qassim Al-Rimi, still alive and taunting DDT.

Sen. Susan Collin (R-ME) said:

“What I’m concerned about is the president’s executive order reorganizing the NSC in a way that removes the director of national intelligence, the only person who can provide a comprehensive overview of intelligence on a policy issue, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the only one who has the comprehensive view of the military consequences of a particular policy from the principal’s committee.”

The danger of Steve Bannon as president goes far beyond his ignorance. His goal, according to past writings and speeches, is to put the United States in the midst of a global war using DDT as “a blunt instrument for us,” possibly the white supremacists. Bannon has been praised for his similarity to Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s favorite propagandist and his racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist, and Islamophobic voice.

Bannon’s friends have cited his aggression and obsession with war and aggression as he looks forward to social chaos, the purpose of his executive orders. His goal is to demolish the United States and recreate a Tea Party-led version of the Bolshevik Revolution. He has predicted that He predicts that “we’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict.” Despite Bannon’s hatred for Islam, that he calls the “most radical” religion in the world, the Middle East isn’t Bannon’s only warring focus; he also aims at “war in the South China Sea.” He also wants to depose Germany’s Angela Merkel to create a white supremacy in Europe.

In Bannon’s attack on the free press, he described the media as a “fifth column,” defined as a group that fights for a nation’s enemies. The position parallels the actions of dictators and tyrants who manipulate by “owning” information through “alternative facts” by scattering doubt and confusion about truth. Toward that end, Bannon persuades people that he opposes the “elites” who work in media. He said:

“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

Bannon found satisfaction in the turmoil and condemnation of the Muslim ban that raised huge protests and media attention. He sees the publicity as a PR win. It was Bannon’s decision “to include green card holders in the president’s temporary ban on travel from Muslim countries,” according to Raw Story’s David Edwards. Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox pointed out that Bannon responsible for “fuel(ing) Trump’s firefight with the media, discrediting and undermining the mainstream voices opposed to his anti-immigrant and anti-trade agenda.”

bannon-trumpJust as DDT refused to repudiate the Ku Klux Klan, he has refused to condemn Bannon’s Islamophobic remarks and sent a message to white supremacists the he’s on their side. DDT has been delighted to pass his presidential obligations to someone else because of his short attention span and no interest in public policy. His specialty is marketing shady real estate deals and making money off declaring bankruptcy. All he wants is to preen in front of hand-picked crowds that approve of his boorish behavior and make up information that has no reality in real life. Whenever he finds himself criticized, he angrily tweets and then leads the crowds into another diversion before he calls another country’s leader to alienate them.

A question is how long Bannon will last with constant derision of Bannon’s control. And how close to the sun will hubris take Bannon and DDT before they fall into the sea, just as Icarus did in Greek mythology.

December 16, 2016

 The Return of the Coat Hanger: The State of Abortion Rights

coat-hanger

When Gov. John Kasich vetoed the infamous “heartbeat” bill, people across the nation breathed a sigh of relief. If signed, the ensuing law would have made abortion illegal in Ohio after the sixth week when some women didn’t even know they were pregnant. The bill he did sign into law, making abortion in the state illegal after 20 weeks, seemed mild by comparison. The 1972 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade made abortions legal until 24 weeks, 4 weeks later than Ohio, yet the Ohio’s restriction to 20 weeks initially seemed much better than the alternative.

The new Ohio law is dangerous, however, on many levels. Not only does it attempt to break Roe v. Wade, but it also puts doctors in prison. Performing an abortion after 20 weeks is a fourth-degree felony, carrying a sentence of up to 18 months in prison. A 2013 Ohio law imprisons people who commit fourth- and fifth-degree felonies for a first time offense. Doctors disagree with Kasich’s new law: a group of ob-gyns wrote:

“Continuation of these pregnancies abortions [after identification of serious and fatal birth defects] would result in certain death of the baby and expose the newborn to needless pain. Meanwhile the mother is forced to carry the fetus to term and may be exposed to a myriad of medical and reproductive risks.”

Kasich and his legislators ignored the doctors’ plea.

That’s where the coat hangers come in. In the late 1960s, before Roe v. Wade, pro-choice activists used this object as a symbol of choice because women would use this sharp object as their only option. It caused horrible pain, sometimes permanent damage, and even death, but some women felt it was their only solution. On December 10, 2016—16 years into the 21st century—protesters to Ohio’s anti-abortion bills hung several hundred wire hangers on the fence of the state capitol. More people came and added more hangers. They were taken down during that night, but the protesters can back the next day and replace them.

Coat hangers went to court at a 1972 hearing of Abele v. Markle from a lawsuit from 350 women challenging Connecticut’s anti-abortion statute and influencing the judicial opinions of Roe v. Wade. The women in the courtroom brought babies and hangars; they left their hangars. In a 1969 demonstration in Washington, D.C., over 300,000 protesters hung coat hangers around their necks and carried signs reading “Never again” as they marched.

Many people unaware of the meaning of coat hangers can learn from the case of Anna Yocca, 32, who was charged in a Tennessee court last year for trying to abort a 24-week fetus with a coat hanger. Abortion is legal at 24 weeks, but she still sits in jail and faces new felony charges: aggravated assault, an attempt to procure a miscarriage, and an attempted criminal abortion. Only four of Tennessee’s 95 counties have clinics that provide abortions, and Yocca does not live in one of these.

Yocca is not unique: Purvi Patel was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year after she took medication to terminate her pregnancy. In other states, women have been charged with attempted feticide for falling down stairs, not wearing a seatbelt, and trying to commit suicide while pregnant. Other women throughout the country have also gone to jail for terminating their pregnancy.

Thirty-eight states have feticide laws; many of these were intended to protect pregnant women. Anything that a pregnant woman does can probably result in criminal charges if police determines that it may damage a fetus in any way. Doctors can’t tell the difference between a self-induced abortion or a natural miscarriage, leaving women subject to interrogation, arrest, and even incarceration. Poverty and poor nutrition can become reasons for imprisonment.

cpr-map

 

The week before DT won the presidential election, seven states—Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota and Texas—sent $30 million of federal funding intended to stop poverty to Crisis Pregnancy Centers that lie to pregnant women about the effects of abortion and refuse to refer them to legitimate women’s clinics. They also provide no other health care that Planned Parenthood does.

The courts are providing some help:

  • A federal judge ruled that Mississippi cannot deny Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood because of their affiliation with abortion services, keeping almost 700,000 state residents on Medicaid to a reliable healthcare provider.
  • The Virginia Board of Health voted 11-to-4 to remove the unconstitutional outpatient surgical center building requirements imposed on clinics that perform abortions. It is the first state to comply with Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court ruling to overturn surgical center and admitting privilege requirements, known as TRAP, passed by many states.
  • A federal court blocked two Alabama abortion restrictions.
  • The Trust Women South Wind Women’s Center opened in Oklahoma City, the first new abortion clinic since 1974. Until the clinic opened, the city was the only major metropolitan area in the country with no abortion provider. It joins two other providers in the state.
  • Memphis Center for Reproductive Health will open a new, comprehensive reproductive health clinic will house the Tennessee first freestanding birthing facility. It will also provide abortion, gynecological, mental health, and sexual/reproductive health care services.
  •  A Planned Parenthood clinic in Springfield (IL) will offer surgical abortion care.
  • South Carolina officials will drop regulations that target abortion clinics in the state.

Alaska must pay almost $1 million in legal fees incurred when Planned Parenthood and two Alaskan physicians fought the state’s unconstitutional parental notification law. Wisconsin had to pay $1.6 million to plaintiffs suing over the state’s admitting privilege law. North Carolina, Alabama, and Missouri also had to reimburse the legal costs from fighting  unconstitutional anti-abortion laws. Other GOP states across the nation are also averaging $1 million out of their budgets to fight abortion rights.

Yet women have to keep fighting for reproductive rights. This month, Texas passed a law, already declared unconstitutional in Indiana and Louisiana, that requires burial or cremation of fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages. A judge has already suspended the law until he hears testimony on January 6, 2017.

Texas is notable because its death rate from pregnancy complications doubled between 2010 and 2014. In 2011, Texas cut out more than 80 family planning clinics, including all Planned Parenthood clinics, across the state, and the other clinics could serve only half as many women as before the budget cuts in 2011. No other state saw the same death rate.

The word “abortion” raises so much emotion among people in the United States. Yet minor surgery to remove scar tissue after early miscarriages is classified in medical files as “abortions.” Basically, self-proclaimed “pro-lifers” are only interested in life until birth. After that children and their parents are on their own because, to quote HUD Secretary nominee Ben Carson, poverty is a choice. Republicans deny children health care, food, water, housing, air, education, and other “amenities” because life for the already born individuals is no longer their responsibility. And the upcoming years will result in more deprivation to children because President-elect Donald Trump is moving more money to the top 0.1 percent.

The year 2015 was considered the worst year for abortion restrictions until now. The upcoming year with a new administration promises to be worse. The last time an elected Republican cared about you was when you were a fetus.

November 5, 2016

FBI Needs to Investigate Trump

The supposedly wealthy, jobs guy, Donald Trump, has been found to violate his employees’ federal labor rights by illegally refusing to bargain with his 500+ workers at the Last Vegas Trump International Hotel, according to the National Labor Relations Board. The board has ordered Trump to post notices in the hotel to admit the violation as well as immediately bargain a contract with them. He has actually broken the law while he incites his crowds regarding calls to jail Hillary Clinton—when she hasn’t violated any laws.

Yet the media continues to concentrate on the non-story of Clinton’s email, although Fox network’s  Bret Baier found himself having to make a correction on his “reporting.” After he falsely reported that investigators had determined Clinton’s private email server was hacked “by five foreign intelligence agencies,” leading to an indictment after the election, Baier admitted that “there is no evidence” for his statements. That didn’t stop Trump from constantly repeating these lies on the campaign trail.

No one has any evidence that Clinton’s emails were in any way illegal, but Clinton-hating—white, male, and conservative—FBI agents are rigging the election by spreading false information. The agents leaked so much information to the Trump campaign that the feckless FBI director, James Comey felt compelled to release information a week ago about searching for emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer—emails that were neither sent by nor sent to Clinton.

Two days before Comey sent a damning letter to members of the Congress about the emails, Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani bragged about knowing a “big surprise” and then crowed about his knowledge of a revolution inside the FBI that he had learned from active agents. Yesterday, Giuliani said that he knew about the release of information before knowledge because public; today he backed down and denied that FBI agents told him about reviewing newly discovered emails before Comey made the information public. Reps. Elijah Cummings (MD-D) and John Conyers, Jr. (MI-D), the ranking members of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees, have called on the Inspector General of the Justice Department to investigate “the source of multiple unauthorized—and often inaccurate—leaks from within the FBI to benefit the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.”

Giuliani is heavily linked to the FBI’s New York City office with his law firm’s ongoing business, concerning 13,000 agents, and the Trump campaign has an open pipeline with the New York City FBI bureau. FBI agents leaking information break their oaths of office, and intentionally interfering with elections violate the federal Hatch Act. Their actions are bringing up memories of Edgar J. Hoover, the first FBI director, who kept extensive files on thousands of people and blackmailed to get his way.

Trump’s super-PAC “Make America Number 1,” financed by Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, also paid Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past year. Trump’s campaign leader Kellyanne Conway headed up the super-PAC and was replaced by David Bossie, head of Citizens United before he was put on Trump’s campaign. Breitbart owners, Robert and Rebehak Mercer, moved former head Steve Bannon to Trump’s campaign. leading part of the super-PAC. In addition, the Mercers funds the Bannon-led non-profit Government Accountability Institute and the video producer “Glittering Steel, a front for Bannon. GAI’s president, Peter Schweizer, wrote the smear-filled book, Clinton Cash, that FBI agents used for documentation in its Clinton investigation. Even Schweizer, the author, admits that he has no proof for many of his claims. “Follow the money” shows that the Mercers control both Trump and many FBI agents, using their billions to control the upcoming presidential election.

Their opposition to Clinton is keeping FBI agents mum about an investigation into Trump’s connection on a private server with the largest private commercial bank in Russia. Computer scientists have been following this secretive connection since last July, but the connection disappeared hours after the New York Times asked Alpha Bank about the communication. Within four days, the Trump Organization used a new host name for communication to the same private server. Although scientists were not able to obtain emails, they noted that the conversations paralleled political occurrences in the U.S., with peaks during the two conventions.

In the lengthy Newsweek cover story, Kurt Eichenwald trailed Trump’s destruction of business documents and emails over the past four decades during lawsuits. For example, investors lost a fortune in 2011 when Trump claimed that he had no liability insurance for a failed project in Florida only to have a lawyer reveal two years later that he had a $5 million policy. This is just one of thousands of times when Trump cheated people through his destruction of records. He also destroyed documents when he was the person suing, for example a suit against Cordish Cos., regarding two Native American casinos in 2000.

How crazy is this election getting? In 2000, Ralph Nadar said he preferred George W. Bush to Al Gore. The past 16 years shows where that preference led the nation. Now Jill Stein, Green Party candidate, supports Donald Trump—who thinks that climate change is a hoax from China—to Hillary Clinton. Greens are also defending Stein for her investments in palm oil plantations, the biggest cause of deforestation in the world.

On the other hand, major conservative pundits have wholeheartedly rejected Trump. Charles Krauthammer writes: “[As] final evidence of how bad are our choices in 2016, Trump’s liabilities, especially on foreign policy, outweigh hers.” He continues to discuss the dangers of Russia, China, and Iran seeing a Trump presidency as a way  “to achieve regional dominance and diminish, if not expel, American influence.”

Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson: “Most options are better than Clinton. But not all. And not this. The GOP has largely accommodated itself to a candidate with no respect for, or knowledge of, the constitutional order… Those who are complicit have adopted a particularly dangerous form of power-loving hypocrisy. It is almost beyond belief that Americans should bless and normalize Trump’s appeal. Normalize vindictiveness and prejudice. Normalize conspiracy theories and the abandonment of reason. Normalize every shouted epithet, every cruel ethnic and religious stereotype, every act of bullying in the cause of American ‘greatness.’”

David Frum, former speech writer for George W. Bush, voted for Hillary Clinton and explained:

“To vote for Trump as a protest against Clinton’s faults would be like amputating a leg because of a sliver in the toe; cutting one’s throat to lower one’s blood pressure.”

Peggy Noonan defined the GOP problem in her column for the Wall Street Journal: “The split in the party happened in the past 15 years. When you give a party two unwon wars, one a true foreign-policy catastrophe, and a great recession, it will begin to break because its members lose confidence in its leaders. When the top of the party believes in things that the bottom of the party doesn’t want (on immigration, entitlements and trade), things will break further. The bottom will begin to feel the top no longer cares about it. That will end their loyalty. Mr. Trump’s Republican foes are wrong in thinking his followers are just sticking with the party. They’re not, they’ve broken from the party.” Yet Republicans think that re-electing a GOP president and Congress will save them.

Trump hates “illegal aliens,” but it’s highly possible that his wife is one. He denied that Melania Trump came to the U.S. on a tourist visa but then worked as a professional model. Documentation has appeared that he lied about Melania Trump’s illegal status. Yet Trump supporters love their candidate in spite—or because—of his lying and illegal activities while they find Clinton, the most truthful of all this year’s candidates—to be “untrustworthy.”

October 22, 2016

The Effects of Brexit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 29, 2016

Gary Johnson, Far-Right Presidential Candidate

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:53 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 26, 2016

Debate Bar Low for Trump in Fact-Free Moderating

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 2:40 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revered journalist Walter Cronkite wrote in the same year:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship wrote:

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

Moyers and Winship quote Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 28, 2016

The Road to Happiness, Long Life

How to find happiness and the good life is an ongoing search for humanity. Ninety years ago, Bertrand Russell wrote, “The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.” After last year’s presidential campaign, it’s a message that need to be considered.

Ten years after Russell delivered this philosophy, Harvard Medical School researchers started to find answers to the question  of the good life through science in the Grant Study—and longest-running study in this realm. The Study of Adult Development began in 1938 as a contrast to medicine’s disease model as it followed 268 healthy sophomores between 1939 and 1944. Medical science knew nothing about DNA and little about genetics at that time. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders would not be written for another two decades. The good life was considered a purview of philosophy and not medicine.

Although the subject began by using entitled white men for the subjects, its findings did provide some insight into satisfaction—longevity, self-actualization, intersection of nature and nurture, etc. To explain these, Harvard psychologist and Grant Study director Robert Waldinger gave an 18-minute TED talk about the revelations of the 75 years of data: “What makes a good life? Lessons learned from the longest study on happiness.”

Pete Jones provided his responses on how the talk ties into his own life. His first reaction is that “everything that I wanted was tied back to some form of happiness. I want to be healthier and more consistent with workouts this makes me happy. I want to plan an adventure with some degree of uncertainty because it makes me happy.”

Waldinger reported that 80 percent of millenials believe that getting rich is important for staying happy and healthy; 50 percent said that becoming famous would lead to these ends. U.S. work ethics urge people to work harder and achieve more, indicating that these efforts will result in a good life. The Harvard study tracking 724 men since 1938—60 or whom are still alive and participating—differs from this perception.

The subjects included the original 268 male sophomores who graduated during World War II, many of them serving in the war, and 456 inner-city young men from poor Boston neighborhoods in the 1930s. Study administrators interviewed subjects in their own homes, talked to their children, scanned their brains, and inspected their medical records and blood.

These are the discoveries:

Social connections are important. People more connected to family, friends and community are happier and healthier. They live longer compared to others whose health declined earlier. Lonely people drink more alcohol, exercise and sleep less, and have more daytime fatigue.

The quality—not the quantity—of relationships matters in health and happiness. High-conflict intimate relationships lacking affection are unhealthy, perhaps worse than separating. Happy relationships, not cholesterol levels, are the important predictor of satisfaction, even if people experience more physical pain. Anthropologist Robin Dunbar determined that the average person can have about 150 people in their social group. Yet only 15 of these people are friends for confiding in, and only five are a close support group of best friends and family.

Secure relationships equal protection both physically and mentally. When people are satisfied with their relationships, they have sharper memories.

The 58 men who scored highest on “warm relationships” earned an average of $141,000 a year in their peak salaries between the ages between 55 and 60 more than the 31 men who scored the lowest. Men with poor childhood relationships with their mothers made less money and were more likely to develop dementia when they grew old. Good relationships with fathers correlated with less adult anxiety, greater enjoyment of vacations, and increased “life satisfaction” when they were 75 years old. George E. Vallant, the director of the study in the last part of the 20th century, wrote, “Happiness is love” in his book Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study.  

Bertrand Russell’s ideas of achieving happiness add to the concept of good relationships. Zest, “an appetite for possible things,” is vital. It may not directly lead to happiness because happiness requires effort. Russell wrote that this is the reason that he called his book, “the conquest of happiness.” The enemy of zest is boredom which leads people to the desire for excitement. An excitement incompatible with zest, however, is anxiety. Russell recommends that “when you have looked for some time steadily at the worst possibility and have said to yourself with real conviction, ‘Well, after all, that would not matter so very much’, you will find that your worry diminishes to a quite extraordinary extent.”

Russell also has a solution for the difficulty of making choices.

“I have found, for example, that if I have to write upon some rather difficult topic the best plan is to think about it with very great intensity—the greatest intensity of which I am capable—for a few hours or days, and at the end of that time to give orders, so to speak, that the work is to proceed underground. After some months I return consciously to the topic and find that the work has been done.”

The greatest obstacle to happiness, to Russell, is “the disease of self-absorption.” The less preoccupied people are with themselves, the happier they are. Perhaps that’s the answer to a good relationship. He wrote that people serve as objects of comparison to the self-absorbed person:

 “What people fear [. . .] is not that they will fail to get their breakfast next morning, but that they will fail to outshine their neighbors.”

Russell’s suggestion to overcome self-absorption is to “teach yourself that life would still be worth living even if you were not, as of course you are, immeasurably superior to all your friends in virtue and intelligence.” His recommendation: “You can get away from envy by enjoying the pleasures that come your way, by doing the work that you have to do, and by avoiding comparisons with those whom you imagine, perhaps quite falsely, to be more fortunate than yourself.”

Another piece of advice is for people to worry less about others think of them: “Chances are you overestimate the love of your friends and the disdain of your foes.” He does recommend respect for public opinion in order “to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways.”To Russell, a conformist society is boring which circles back to the need for zest.

Perhaps a long happy life comes from deciding what you can do for people, not to people.

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