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.

April 4, 2012

Conservatives Want Ayn Rand’s World

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:50 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Thirty years after her death in March 1982, Ayn Rand’s ideas have so permeated the conservative parts of the United States that conservative legislators may be close to bringing down a democracy that has lasted for over two centuries. Unfettered capitalism, unregulated business, bare-bones government providing no social services, glorification of selfishness, disdain for Judeo-Christian morality—these concepts provide the background for her philosophy.

Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan’s approach toward economics that brought the country into recessions, the most serious one being only five years ago, was developed through his close relationship with Rand. Tea Party members honor the same economic approach while many of them count on the government for Social Security and Medicare. The idea of doing away with child labor laws, espoused by Newt Gingrich and other conservatives, is a Rand doctrine.

Objectivism is the guiding principle that Rand espouse, the idea that a set reality exists, outside the mind, and people find that reality through observing objects and events instead of thinking. Thus reality is the same for everyone, and truth is absolute. (I realize that this is a highly simplified view of Objectivism, but it’s a beginning.)

In an Ayn Rand world there would be no government (except police, courts of law, and armed services), no regulation, no Medicare or Medicaid, no Social Security, no public schools, no public hospitals, no mass transit—in fact, no anything. Death rates for children and the elderly would skyrocket while illness would proliferate from bad food, water, air, and drugs.

Fifteen years before Alan Greenspan was born, the lack of building and fire codes resulted in 146 people, mostly young women, burning alive or leaping to the death at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. With no regulations, there would be no bridges, dams, road maintenance, parks, Internet, television, and airplane traffic unless some generous person wanted to provide these.

These problems are just a tiny part of all the disasters from the lack of regulations, services, and safety nets for people. All this is the vision of paradise as the United States becomes like Cairo and Calcutta with walled enclaves to protect the wealthy from the hungry masses.

Like the conservative’s approach toward the Bible, however, they prefer to take just the pieces that they want, ignoring Rand’s belief in atheism and free love. They ignore the fact that Rand, who moved to the U.S. from Russia, was an illegal immigrant after her visa ran out. Fortunately she had wealthy relatives who supported her until her last years when she received Social Security and Medicare from the government.

For those who want a fuller perspective on Ayn Rand, Gary Weiss’s current book, Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America’s Soul, describes the author’s findings after interviewing people who were connected with Rand in the past and who revere her and her beliefs today.

According to Weiss, Rand is the missing piece of the puzzle that shows the reasons behind the financial crisis, the answer to the behavior of supposedly legitimate financiers, traders, and CEOs as they intensely pursued riches regardless of consequences to others. People like hedge fund manager John Paulson who worked with Goldman Sachs to design the profitable financial instrument for sub-prime mortgages when he knew would drive the financial system to a precipice followed the Rand philosophy.

In 1975, Stanley Marcus , chairman of Neiman Marcus in Dallas, said, “Who among the business community today would seriously propose that Congress repeal our child-labor laws—or the Sherman Antitrust Act? The Federal Reserve Act, the Securities Exchange Act? Or workmen’s compensation? Or Social Security? Or minimum wage? Or Medicare? Or civil rights legislation? All of us today recognize that such legislation is an integral part of our system: that it has made us stronger.” Twenty-five years later, conservatives have turned 180 degrees.

Rep. Paul Ryan’s current budget bill, passed by a vast majority of House Republicans, follows the Rand precepts. Working people are negligible while only the people in charge have value. Altruism is evil while selfishness is good. Many of the far-right Tea Party candidates who won in the 2010 election were Rand acolytes: Ron Johnson who beat the incumbent Russ Feingold in Wisconsin; Mike Lee who beat incumbent Bob Bennett in Utah; Rand Paul who opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ryan may be on the short list for Republican vice-presidential nominee.

“The whole damned history of the world is a story of the struggle between the selfish and the unselfish! . . . All the bad around us is bred by selfishness. Sometimes selfishness even gets to be a cause, an organized force, even a government. Then it’s called Fascism.”—Garson Kanin, Born Yesterday

“[Rand’s] psychopathic ideas made billionaires feel like victims and turned millions of followers into their doormats. “George Monbiot

In thinking about Rand’s government, I pondered about the kind of life  I would have had if the conservatives had succeeded in having a government with nothing but courts, cops, and soldiers. I grew up in a small town in the Plains area. With no government support, I wouldn’t be able to read because of no education; I wouldn’t know anything about the rest of the world because of no electricity, media, and Internet; I would be extremely poor because of my inability to have any job and the lack of proximity to even factories; I would have poor health because of no available doctors. And this is assuming that I lived to be an adult: infant mortality was 16.5 percent in 1900 and the rate of death for children from ages 1 through 15 was another 10 percent. This mortality rate improved fantastically because of government actions.

Conservatives want this kind of world for all our children. Someone needs to ask them: “What sort of America do you want?  The world of the Founders, or the world of Ayn Rand?”

[An earlier blog on Ayn Rand is available on 1/12/12.]

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