Nel's New Day

September 19, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOP members zombies:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just a few zombies from people who ignore history.

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September 15, 2016

Trump Loses with Blacks, Women

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

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

trump-timmons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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