Nel's New Day

June 29, 2017

DDT: Bully-in-Chief

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) keeps hitting all-time lows in his self-proclaimed drive to regain the “American Dream.” The worst this week—thus far—may be his tweet attack on the hosts of MSNBC Morning Joe show, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough:

“I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..

“…to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”

People in the White House feel that they don’t need to live up to any standards because DDT doesn’t. Fifteen minutes before DDT’s tweets, White House social media director Dan Scavino tweeted:

 “#DumbAsARockMika and lover #JealousJoe are lost, confused & saddened since @POTUS @realDonaldTrump stopped returning their calls! Unhinged.”

Scavino apologized; DDT did not.

DDT’s attitude toward Scarborough has reversed since the host helped with his campaign. After DDT’s inauguration, he suggested that he marry Brzezinski and Scarborough at Mar-a-Lago or the White House. Before the election, Scarborough went to Trump Tower and gave DDT advice on how to win the election.

In the same way that DDT has unified the European Union because of their opposition toward him, he created a bipartisan outcry although Republican legislators’ comments were a bit more muted. GOP comments included “[not] an appropriate comment” (House Speaker Paul Ryan), “beneath the office” and “highly inappropriate” (Sen. Lindsay Graham), “isn’t normal” (Sen. Ben Sasse),

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has a solution:  “Since our President clearly has a problem with women, let’s send more to Congress.”

In a press conference, Sarah Huckabee Sanders justified DDT by saying that he always pushes back when he’s attacked. She claimed that he has never been violent—this statement about the man who told his audience that he would pay lawyer’s fees for people who punch out protesters. Asked about the president being a role model, she said that only God has this role. Her justification for his behavior was that people knew what they were getting when they voted for him.

A statement from DDT’s wife, Melania, said that her husband hits back “ten times harder” when he is attacked. Asked about her cyberbullying program that she had proposed, her office stated that she Grisham was asked about Melania Trump’s stance against cyber bullying, the response was that she is “continuing to be thoughtful about her platform.”

DDT has said that “my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament.” He also claimed, “I can be the most presidential person.” Only 20 percent of people in the U.S. think that DDT’s tweets are “effective and informative,” and almost 70 percent find the tweets “reckless and distracting.” DDT is getting stranger—if that’s possible. Today, he interrupted a call to newly elected Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar to compliment a female reporter, calling her “beautiful” with a “nice smile.” Turning back to the prime minister, he said, “I bet she treats you well.”

No one is sure what specific problem initiated DDT’s virulent attack on the Morning Joe hosts, but it came soon after Brzezinski called him a narcissist and “needy” because of his “fake” Time cover hanging in at least four of his golf clubs. One of DDT’s common lies is that he appeared on the cover of Time more than anyone else. that he had been on the cover of Time magazine more than anyone else. When he made this claim, he had appeared on that periodical cover 11 times; Richard Nixon was on 55 times, and Barack Obama was on 12 times in just 2008.

The photoshopped image of DDT’s “fake” cover is dated March 1, 2009 and touts his show The Apprentice. The headline reads, “Trump Is Hitting On All Fronts…Even TV!” An analysis of the cover shows that two secondary headlines were on the March 2, 2009 cover that used an image of Kate Winslet. Several parts of the cover are wrong, including the exclamation point which Time never uses, the narrower red strip around the cover, and the bar code for software that lets you be a karaoke DJ. A Photoshop tutorial blog post provided the bar code free in 2010. Time has confirmed that the one with DDT is not their cover and asked for its removal from DDT’s properties. At a press conference, Sanders refused to answer question about whether DDT knows that the image is fake.   (Time has now published a tutorial on how to spot a fake Time cover that uses DDT’s image as an example.)

None of the actual DDT covers of the New Yorker seem to appear in his properties, but they are available here. This one from April is an example of them. Parodies of DDT’s Time cover are also well worth perusing.

DDT continued his tweet diatribe with his frequent war on the media.

“So they caught Fake News CNN cold, but what about NBC, CBS & ABC? What about the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost? They are all Fake News!”

White House press secretaries have constantly announced that they don’t want press conferences because they want DDT’s words to speak for themselves. Yet DDT’s words continue to be lies. Almost 60 percent of people agree that DDT is not honest, up from 53 percent at his inauguration. Two major newspapers have started tracking DDT’s lies.

New York Times reporters David Leonhardt and Stuart A. Thompson have kept track of DDT’s lies since his inauguration and found at least one every day for each of the first 40 days and  then on at least 74 of 113 days. Days without lies were while he vacationed or golfed. Some of these lies were reversals of others as he piled lies on top of other lies. The majority of them come from taking credit for others accomplishments. The next categories were false historic detail and recent news that didn’t happen. After that came false exaggerations, descriptions of federal government functions, fabricated economic statistics, job impacts of his policies, and positive effects of his work. And other categories exist.

Daniel Dale at The Toronto Star found 337 DDT lies since he was inaugurated, an average of 2.1 per day. DDT managed 18 during just his Iowa rally, the first one west of the Mississippi. Dale listed the lies by date, but they can be searched by topic.

DDT’s “misrepresentations” may be the most dangerous. In praising the Senate’s disastrous version of Trumpcare, he stood in front of Alaska’s GOP senator Lisa Murkowski and talked about a 203-percent increase in premiums but omitted the reductions from tax credits. The Affordable Care Act brought the 25 percent increase last year to 1 percent for 93 percent of people in Alaska. Most of them pay less for health insurance than in 2013, before the ACA, and many others couldn’t buy insurance before the ACA because they had pre-existing conditions. In 2017, the 86 percent of Alaskans receiving tax credits pay $93 a month—far less than the $344 they paid in 2013. Only ten percent of people in the United States have to pay full premiums because they aren’t on Medicaid or Medicare, aren’t poor enough to receive subsidies, or don’t receive insurance from their employers. That’s a lot of people, but it’s only three percent of the people in the United States.

Brzezinski was right when she called DDT “needy,” and she may be right to call him a narcissist. Characteristics of narcissism is lying and telling people different things to feel good. Narcissists fail to follow social conventions, and others “normalize” their behavior and cover for them. Narcissists enjoy firings, recriminations, and punishment for any perceived enemies. Their “gaslighting” is intended to convince others that they perception of reality is wrong, a part of narcissistic lying.

DDT has spent his entire life lying to get what he wants. He’s always been a brutal bully, always on the attack, especially against women. But DDT is no longer a CEO, much as people think that is the job of the President of the United States. That position is a role model for the world, an influence for acceptable behavior by both adults and children. DDT’s presence in this position has coarsened people and caused other great nations to reject the United States.

President Obama held himself to the higher standard of his position. He ignored the racist jokes, the posters that showed him being lynched or appearing to be Adolf Hitler, even the slurs against his wife when Republicans called her “a male” or a “gorilla.” The former president did have altercations with the Fox network, perhaps because Fox leadership ordered their hosts to slant the “news” to make the president look bad.

In less than 23 weeks, DDT’s behavior and speech have made the United States the laughingstock of the world. No one, not even his lawyers, seems able to curb his crude manner or educate him about governing. People said, “Give him a chance.” He’s taken that chance to constantly embarrass the people of the United States.

Today DDT is the face of the GOP. Republicans might want to consider whether he is the image that they want to portray.

July 1, 2015

Chris Christie: Bridge to Disaster

Bobby Jindal, Louisiana’s governor, became the unlucky #13 in the GOP presidential race when he declared his candidacy in the same week with media-obsessed Supreme Court decisions. This week, he lost all visibility after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced that he will save the country with his magnificent leadership. Even Donald Trump may have to briefly take a back seat to Christie as the two huge egos battle for the front of the “clown car” of GOP candidates.

Chris christie

Although he told Matt Lauer that he has controlled his temper and uses it only for injustice, he told the press corps to buzz off after asked about the recent shortages of press conferences. He finished by saying, “Get over it” and called reporters “you people.” Christie tried to explain to them that he didn’t want to answer questions because reporters will decide what to talk about and it will “muddle the message of the day” that he wants. His bombast brings back the memory of Rudy Giuliana, who “now occupies the role in American politics as the crazy uncle who starts media trash fires by saying things like Obama doesn’t love America,” according to Jack Shafer.

Before “Bridgegate,” in which he dodged his involvement in closing the George Washington Bridge between his state and New York for retribution against a mayor who wouldn’t support his gubernatorial candidacy, Christie had his admirers. Many of them have disappeared after his continual childish, bullying behavior and the information about his excesses and failures. His in-state approval rating is 30 percent, just two points above Jindal’s, and the 6.5 percent unemployment, worse than 48 states, reflects the fact that the state hasn’t regained even half of the jobs lost during the recession.

His governor’s record shows how he would lead the country:

Scrapping a tunnel project which would have alleviated New Jersey residents’ commutes and created jobs so he wouldn’t have to raise the gas tax.

Cutting $2.1 billion in taxes for corporations by taking money from New Jersey residents.

Falling credit rating nine times, the second worst among all the states, during Christie’s five years.

Reducing the earned income tax credit.

Vetoing legislation to raise the minimum wage to $8.50, and calling it “truly ridiculous” before voters approved an increase last November.

Driving the state to the brink of a pension disaster until the state Supreme Court let him off the hook for $1.57 billion in payments, leaving it $80 billion in the red. (Public workers are still insisting that he pay the promised pensions to 800,000 working and retired employers.) Christie wants to cut back Social Security for anyone making over $80,000 and eliminate payment for those making over $200,000, despite the payments that these people made into Social Security.

Settling with Exxon for $225 million in a $8.9-billion pollution lawsuit after the corporation donated over $1.9 million to the Republican Governors Association.  Christie’s first AG worked for Exxon for seven years, and his deputy chief of staff left for a job with Exxon’s lobbying firm. New Jersey law allows Christie to take money from the environmental litigation to the general fund where it covers budget gaps.

Passing on the state health care exchange by vetoing for the second time legislation directing him to set this up.

Vetoing bills to expand early voting, a ban on the Barrett .50 caliber rifle, and a bill to prevent gender wage discrimination in public contracts.

Cutting $7.4 billion in family funding for Planned Parenthood to provide such health care services as mammograms to women. (The program never funded abortions.)

Enacting strict and unneeded quarantine practices for Ebola, raising questions about his management of public health issues as president.

Christie, who wants candidates who “believe in what they say and don’t change depending on what state they’re in,” also has a strong record of flip-flopping:

Citizenship: From advocating for immigrants in 2008 to describing it as an “extreme way to go” and not “where the American people are.”

Reproductive rights: From supporting a woman’s right to choose and donating to Planned Parenthood to becoming anti-choice and defunding Planned Parenthood five times.

Common Core education guidelines: From criticizing the GOP for their “knee-jerk” opposition to the president in 2013 to saying that it is “simply not working.” (He is still using the same Common Core tests.)

Gun violence protections: From speaking out against the NRA in 2012 and signing a bill to keep terror suspects from buying guns in New Jersey to claiming that he would change the gun violence protections if he had a GOP legislature.

Climate change: From agreeing that climate change is real and impacting his state in 2011 to no proof that it had an affect on Superstorm Sandy to agreeing that human activity contributes to climate change.

What reporters have discovered about Christie:

Anger: “His Jersey-style directness is … often mean-spirited and vicious. Challenge him at your own risk. He’s a bully.”

Revenge: Even before the Bridgegate scandal, “Christie went after sexually abused kids, heartlessly cutting the funding to a facility that nurtures these vulnerable children in a heated budget battle with Democrats. And he killed a college internship program after the founder sided with Democrats in a redistricting fight.”

Rough play: His personal vision of being a “uniter” is negated by any YouTube video where he is challenged by an audience member. He treats legislators the same way.

A street fighter—for Wall Street: By the second year of his first gubernatorial term, he had “vetoed higher taxes on millionaires, but raised the tax burden on poor families by cutting the earned income tax credit. (He has also been blind to the needs of the poor, targeted seniors with his cuts and slashed women’s health programs.)” Under his watch, annual fees paid to New Jersey’s pension managers leapt from $200 million in 2012 to $600 million in 2014. A few hundred thousand dollars goes to Angelo Gordon that hired Christie’s wife, Mary Pat Christie, for $475,000 a year. New Jersey no longer invests with the company, but the state pays them hundreds of thousands of dollars because the state has an “illiquid” investment valued at $6.6 million in the firm. No one knows that what it.

Blind to own ethical lapses: He flies on private planes owned by executives with pending business in his state. Christie also charged $82,594 at MetLife Stadium to the state on 58 different occasions during 18 months while he had free seats. To avoid a scandal, the state GOP committee paid back the state. During five years in office, Christie spent almost $300,000 from his state allowance to buy food, alcohol and desserts. There are also 60 unofficial out-of-state travel expenses, taxpayer-fueled fundraising, potentially breaking pay-to-play laws, and 23 court battles to keep public documents secret. He has also been accused of withholding $800 million of disaster relief after Superstorm Sandy.

Contempt for women: Sheila Oliver? A liar. Loretta Weinberg? Someone should take a bat to her. Valerie Vainieri Huttle? A jerk.

Tom Moran, who covered Christie for over a decade, wrote an op-ed for the Newark Star-Ledger about Christie’s being a pathological liar. The piece is well worth reading.

Christie has fallen from 7 percent in the national primary polls in January to just 3 percent, putting him in danger of missing the first debate on Fox. In Iowa he comes in 13th. Harry Enten wrote, “Chris Christie’s bid for the presidency, which officially began Tuesday morning, is likely to fall off the George Washington Bridge and end up in the Hudson River.”

Christie tried to explain that the reason 65 percent of the people in his state thinks he would be a terrible president by saying that they don’t want him to leave.That doesn’t explain why 69 percent of New Jersey voters think he’s lying when he said he didn’t close the bridge.

The latest GOP presidential candidate is fact challenged, ethics challenged, and economically challenged while he nixes infrastructure projects, fouls traffic, bullies people, defunds pensions to give Wall Street money, and profligately spends money.

Right now Christie is spending a lot of time in Maine where Gov. Paul LePage has endorsed Christie for president. Maine’s legislature is investigating LePage for abuse of power because he threatened to withhold state funds from a private school for at-risk children until the school withdrew a job offer to Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves.

Christie said he’s happy to receive the support from somebody who “knows what it’s like to make tough decisions, knows what it’s like to engage in hand-to-hand combat.” That’s the kind of combat that people could expect from Christie if here were president.

February 23, 2015

Bill O’Reilly Needs to Resign

Filed under: Journalism — trp2011 @ 9:41 PM
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Brian Williams went down in flames from his NBC anchor position after he was caught claiming that he was almost shot down in a helicopter in Iraq, and Fox network celebrity Bill O’Reilly used the debacle to attack what he describes as liberal media outlets and demanded investigation into its other “distortions.” O’Reilly did say on his show that “we’ve made some mistakes in the past but very few … [and] take great pains to present you with information that can be verified.”

Unfortunately for O’Reilly, David Corn and Daniel Schulman followed up on O’Reilly’s dramatic stories about his war reporting and reported in Mother Jones that the conservative program host exaggerated far more than Williams did—even talking about his heroism in a war zone where he never went. He has repeatedly claimed to be a war correspondent during the Falklands war and talked about experiencing combat between the UK and Argentina. “I’ve been there,” he stated. “That’s really what separates me from most of these other bloviators.” He also bragged about it in his 2001 book, The No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America. 

In a 2003 book, conservative journalist Tucker Carlson wrote about O’Reilly’s answer during a Washington panel discussion when he claimed to be in wars in the Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Middle East and was “almost killed three times.” He repeated this claim in 2008 and 2013, talking about how he saved his photographer after he “got run down” in the Falklands. According to Bob Schieffer, “nobody from CBS got to the Falklands,” which are islands 300 miles off the Argentine shore. The war zone included South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, more than 1,400 miles offshore.

O’Reilly did witness a riot in Buenos Aires after the Falkland war but complained that his footage was co-opted and featured Bob Schieffer instead of himself. According to Schieffer, it was common practice for CBS reporters to pool footage, and the segment lasted about a minute. Nothing matched O’Reilly’s dramatic description years later, and media accounts did not report any of the fatalities that O’Reilly now describes. Although two reporters were injured, O’Reilly’s memory by 2009 recalled that all “the other CBS news correspondents were hiding in the hotel.”

Retired CBS correspondent Eric Jon Engberg, who was with O’Reilly at the time, remembers Buenos Aires differently. He said that they stayed in a modern hotel and “never saw any troops, casualties or weapons.” Engberg saw no police attacks against demonstrators outside the palace. In addition, Engberg refuted the accusation that “the other CBS news correspondents were hiding in the hotel.” He wrote:

“If [O’Reilly] said such thing it is an absolute lie. Everyone was working in the street that night, the crews exhibiting their usual courage. O’Reilly was the one person who behaved unprofessionally and without regard for the safety of the camera crew he was leading.”

Engberg reported that O’Reilly ignored orders from CBS Bureau Chief Larry Doyle to avoiding attention and being injured by keeping camera lights off.

“According to Doyle, O’Reilly returned to the hotel in a rage over the fact that his cameraman wouldn’t turn on the lights to photograph angry crowds. Doyle defended the cameraman and chewed out O’Reilly for violating his instructions on lights.”

In The No Spin Zone, O’Reilly wrote about the civil war in El Salvador when he bravely went into a place of carnage. Yet his account on the report he filed with CBS News, which aired May 20, 1982, opened with a description of how little combat he found in the country: “These days Salvadoran soldiers appear to be doing more singing than fighting.” He reported that government troops were in control of most of the country, and a helicopter ride showed him “no signs of insurgent forces.” O’Reilly’s footage of the village which he described with no living people showed residents walking about and only one or two burned-down structures.

O’Reilly vigorously denounced the Mother Jones report and claimed, “It’s a hit piece. Everything I said about what I reported in South and Central America is true. Everything.” He said he never claimed to be on the Falkland Islands and called author David Corn a “despicable guttersnipe.” On his show, however, O’Reilly said:

“I missed Moyers in the war zones of El Salvador, the Falklands conflict in Argentina and the Middle East and Northern Ireland. I looked for Bill, but I didn’t see him.”

O’Reilly didn’t stop with the “guttersnipe” name-calling but continued with other reporters to call Corn “a liar” and “a left-wing  assassin.” Then he suggested that Corn deserved to be “in the kill zone.”

Mother Jones had offered O’Reilly a full day to respond to his article before it was posted. O’Reilly admitted that he had received the offer but said, “I would never speak to the man about anything at any time. He’s a disgusting piece of garbage.”

Corn responded to the insults:

“To me, the issue here is whether a media figure and journalist like Bill O’Reilly, who claims to be a truth teller, can get away without answering questions about specific statements he’s made, and hide behind name calling. I would encourage anyone else who covers this story to get Bill O’Reilly to answer those questions–if not to me, than to anyone else.”

The editors in chief at Mother Jones went farther by expressing concern about the violent nature of O’Reilly calling for Corn to be “in the kill zone” and asking for an apology in a letter to both O’Reilly and one of Fox network’s communications execs.

On February 20, 2015, O’Reilly used his “Talking Points Memo” to address the Mother Jones article. He began by saying:

“Hi, I’m Bill O’Reilly … thanks for watching us tonight … more proof the American media is corrupt. That is the subject of this evening’s Talking Points memo. This man … 56-year-old David Corn … who works for the far left magazine … Mother Jones … smeared me, your humble correspondent, yesterday … saying I had fabricated some war reporting. Mother Jones … which has low circulation … considered by many the bottom rung of journalism in America. however … in this Internet age … the defamation they put forth … gets exposure. and so I have to deal with this garbage tonight. I’m sorry.”

In this article, Corn fact-checked O’Reilly’s narrative, point by point.

Other people are angry as well. Thomas Ruyle wrote in Stars and Stripes:

“‘Stolen Valor’ is a term applied to the phenomenon of people falsely claiming military awards or badges they did not earn, service they did not perform, Prisoner of War experiences that never happened, and other tales of military derring-do that exist only in their minds.”

This description applies to O’Reilly’s fictionalized account of his experiences during 1981-82. John Soltz, the president of the 400-member, issued this statement condemning O’Reilly for lying about his war zone experiences.

“NBC acted completely appropriately in taking Brian Williams off the air and looking into claims he’s made over the years. Fox News has to do the same thing. The issue, for me, isn’t that Fox has been caught off guard, and didn’t realize O’Reilly was telling possibly false tales. That I can accept. It’s what do they do about it now? That will tell us a lot about how seriously they take their news organization.

“Men and women have fought, died, been wounded, and scarred by war. There are many journalists who actually were in the crossfire, who died, trying to bring the story to the American people. What Bill O’Reilly has done is steal their valor, and it is wrong. It makes it seem like anyone can head on over to a war zone. But honestly it is more insulting to the war reporters who never bragged about their war experience, but just kept their head down and did their job. Some of them died doing that job. In my mind, those reporters were heroes.”

After The New York Times printed an article on the controversy, O’Reilly threatened one of the reporters. “I am coming after you with everything I have,” he said.

O’Reilly showed footage from the Buenos Aires demonstrations, still trying to convince people that it vindicated him. Instead of showing people fired on in the streets and killed, the correspondent said that police used guns firing “tear gas and plastic bullets.” After several days of bullying and threatening anyone who disagreed with him, he said, “I want to stop this now.”

O’Reilly constantly talks about personal responsibility and how he loves the military and the veterans. He owes them an apology and a resignation from his post. O’Reilly said that Brian Williams “had to go” because he made up stories about dangers he faced in his reporting career. O’Reilly needs to go, along with his fictionalized biographies about Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, George S. Patton, and Jesus.

March 15, 2014

Bachmann–and the House–on Bullying

Bullying is repeated behavior causing emotional or physical danger that comes from an imbalance of power. These actions could be threats, rumors, exclusions, or attacks either physically or verbally. The key term is power imbalance: if all participants are on the same level, it is probably a disagreement. Recently Michele Bachmann brought a lot of media down on her head for accusing gay people of “bullying” her and the American people.

Her accusation came from the Arizona bill that could have made discrimination against anyone the law of the state if Gov. Jan Brewer had signed it. To Bachmann, the LGBT community is so powerful that it is persecuting religious people and taking away their freedom. She also railed against wealthy liberals who donate money to protect people from discrimination. Her goal is to have Democrats prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) for their intimidation of conservative billionaires.

Bachmann won’t be back in the 114th Congress, but the FBI is investigating her and her husband, Marcus, for possible money laundering, mail fraud, and wire fraud. The Department of Justice is also looking into a possible illegal coordination between Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign and a super PAC. It may have made her a bit testy. Meanwhile she’ll continue to vote for harassing bills like the following one.

Yesterday, the GOP members of the House passed the 51st bill in 38 months to water-down the Affordable Care Act. Deep Medicare cuts will go into effect at the end of the month without this bill, but a five-year delay of ACA was attached to the bill, meaning it will fail in the Senate. The American Medical Association opposed the bill despite the damage for its members without the bill’s changes. As with the shutdown of the government and the refusal to raise the debt limit, the GOP continues their rule of “give us what we want” or …. 

The Congressional Budget Office determined that the GOP bill would cause health insurance premiums to increase and leave 13 million people with no insurance. The refusal to repair the Medicare cuts will also disrupt the health care system. The GOP created a lose-lose situation with its efforts at extortion.

n_maddow_6issa_140313_video_340x227House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is known for being a bit of a bully for his refusal to allow votes on bills that the people of the United States want. Just Google “Boehner refuses to allow votes.” This month the GOP House leaders upped the ante when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chair of the Oversight Committee, made a literal motion to “cut” the mic the minute that ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) began to speak.

As a protest, House Democrats introduced a resolution to condemn Issa’s shameful move. Dozens of them flanked Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) as he introduced the measure and held up iPads or other mobile devices showing the Issa’s action.

Issa ipads


No surprise when the motion was voted down, but a Republican invoked a non-existent rule: “Representatives will lower their iPads, as it is against the rules of the House!” Ironic, because the failed motion was to condemn Issa for not following the rules.

Issa said his actions didn’t affect possible House contempt action against former IRS employee Lois Lerner, but Cummings disagrees:

“Not two, but seven independent Constitutional law experts have now concluded that Chairman Issa botched the contempt proceedings…. No reasonable person would accept his legal views over those of the United States Supreme Court. Contrary to Chairman Issa’s accusations, we are not defending Lois Lerner or her actions—we are defending the Constitution and the rights it guarantees to all Americans.”

In trying to win his points against the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) attempted to bully Dr. Danielle Martin, vice-president at the Women’s College Hospital (Toronto), during a subcommittee hearing about healthcare in Canada. During his question time, he brought up the tired chestnuts of Canadian doctors moving to the United States and rich people going to the U.S. for surgery.

Martin’s replies:

“Thank you for your question, senator. If I didn’t express myself in a way that made myself understood, I apologize. There are no doctors exiting the public system in Canada; and in fact we see a net influx of physicians from the United States into the Canadian system over the last number of years.”

Burr asked, “On average, how many Canadian patients on a waiting list die each year? Do you know?”

Martin answered, “I don’t, sir, but I know that there are 45,000 in America who die waiting because they don’t have insurance at all.”

Still smarting from President Obama’s refusal to protect the unconstitutional anti-marriage equality law DOMA, part of which was overturned last summer by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the House has passed the “Enforce the Law Act.” If it became law, the House could sue the president) if anyone in the administration does not follow through in “enforcing, applying, following, or administering any provision of a Federal statute, rule, regulation, program, policy, or other law.” Other of the GOP-perceived offenses by the president include not enforcing deportations of “DREAMers,” delaying parts of the Affordable Care Act, and working with states that have now legalized medical or all use of marijuana.

If this bill were to become law, individual states would lose all ability to make laws. One part of control over states is the new guidelines for food stamps. Thus far six states have increased the amount of energy assistance funding to low-income people to comply with food stamps requirement, and another nine states could follow suit. This is within the purview of the states, but House conservatives are claiming that these actions are fraudulent.

When Michele Bachmann was confronted by real bullying, she stayed silent. Nine students in one school district represented by Bachmann killed themselves within two years because of their treatment in the schools. Other students in the same district were hospitalized because they had attempted suicide. Bachmann’s anti-gay allies were responsible for the climate of intolerance that continued the crisis. Bachmann herself began her political career as an education activist and has always fought what she called the “homosexual agenda.”

The district prevented students from starting a gay-straight alliance club (GSA), widely known as one way to prevent suicides among LGBTQ youth. It’s also another way to prevent youth from being bullied even if they don’t identify as LGBTQ. The district policy requiring teachers to remain “neutral” about homosexuality even led them to look the other way whenever they saw bullying on the school campus. Harassed students were told to transfer to another school and blamed for physical attacks on them.

The school district allowed religious activists to hold a “Day of Truth,” championed by the “ex-gay ministry” Exodus International that is usually held the day before the Day of Silence. Students were encouraged to “preach to the gay kids.” After 15-year-old Justin Aaberg told his mother that another student said he would go to hell because he was gay, he hanged himself in his bedroom.

Although Bachmann had nothing to say about the suicides, she does oppose anti-bullying legislation. At a hearing on a state legislature bill, she testified that bullying is simply a fact of life. She said, ”There have always been bullies, always have been, always will be.”

Suicide doesn’t bother Bachmann, but selling cakes to “undesirable” people is not okay. And she still votes with the other far-right House members to oppose rights for minorities, women, the poor, and LGBT people. Bachmann is not running again, but everyone now knows that her Waterloo is—cake.  People should tell her that “there have always been bullies.”

January 21, 2014

Christie Going Nowhere on His Bridge

Almost ten years ago, Republicans in Congress got into trouble when Alaska’s s Rep. Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens, tried to push through $320 million federal funding for a bridge from Ketchikan to Gravina Island, where the town’s airport is located. The bridge, almost as long as the Golden Gate Bridge and taller than the Brooklyn Bridge, would have saved people a 15-minute wait for a ferry to the mainland. Notoriety about the funding resulted in the appellation “Bridge to Nowhere,” which the ultraconservative Heritage Foundation described as “an embarrassment to the people of Alaska and the U.S. Congress.” The funding was removed for 2005 but kept reappearing in bills as late as 2011.

GW_BridgeLast fall, another “bridge to nowhere” reappeared. This time it was a bridge between New York and New Jersey which happens to be the busiest bridge in the world. With an annual load of 102 million vehicles, the George Washington Bridge connects to the Cross Bronx Expressway, ranked the worst roadway for congestion in 2012. Drivers waste more than six days in traffic every year.

Drivers spent a bit longer last year because the Port Authority closed two of the three access lanes from Fort Lee, on the New Jersey side, in September 9, 2011. Streets turned into parking lots for four days because no one would tell Mayor Mark Sokolich why this was being done. Not until a few weeks ago did the public learn that a top aide to Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) recommended the closing of the lanes through an email that read “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” The revelation of the email continued the number of officials abandoning the sinking ship of Christie’s bridge. Although Christie swears that he had nothing to do with the closures, he also swore that none of the people in his administration had anything to do with the closures–until it was revealed that they did.

Ordinarily this disaster would be concern only the people of New Jersey, who recently re-elected Christie to a second four-year term. The governor, however, was—until recently—considered a top possibility for the 2016 GOP presidential candidate, the only one who isn’t attached at the hip to the crazy Tea Partiers. He is so eager to stay in favor that he threw several of his friends under the bus of politics, declaring himself shocked, stunned, humiliated, etc. He repeatedly claimed that he fired these people because they lied to him, not because they did anything wrong.

A top consideration of Christie is the danger of closing the busiest bridge in the world on the 12th anniversary of two airplanes hitting the Twin Towers in New York City. School children sat on buses for hours. Problems in emergency included the search for a lost four-year-old and the delayed arrival of an ambulance for a 91-year-old woman in cardiac arrest. She later died.

Did Christie deliberately have the lanes cut down out of retribution for people who offended him? No one knows—yet. An early assumption was that Fort Lee’s Mayor Sokolich, a Democrat, refused to endorse the governor for his re-election. A later possibility came from a billion-dollar development project next to the lane closures. Shutting down the lanes would quash the development, a keystone of Mayor Sokolich’s tenure.

Or the closure could be part of feud over state Supreme Court nominees. Since Christie refused to re-appoint a Democrat justice, the Democrats have been at war with the governor. It came to a head when he also refused to re-appoint a friend of his as justice because he would not “let her loose to the animals [state Senate Democrats].” The email requesting “traffic problems in Fort Lee” came the day after Christie’s angry speech, and the leader of the Senate Democrats at the time was a senator from Fort Lee.

Many people find it difficult to believe that a governor would retaliate against people in such a way. But a pattern of Christie’s behavior indicates a vengeful person:

  • After former Gov. Richard Codey publicly disagreed with Christie, the current governor removed his state trooper protection, never before done.
  • The same day that Codey disagreed with Christie, a Codey cousin was fired from his position at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a former Codey aide was removed from the New Jersey Office of Consumer Affairs.
  • After State Sen. Sean Kean (R) told a reporter that Christie had made a mistake in not declaring an emergency earlier during a 2010 blizzard, Kean was banned from the next news conference Christie held in Kean’s home district. A Christie aide told the newspaper that Kean “got what he deserved.”
  • After Rutgers Professor Alan Rosenthal backed a re-districting map more favorable to Democrats, his state funding was slashed.
  • After State Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R) voted against Christie’s public medical education system reorganization, the confirmation of a judicial candidate who Bateman recommended was stalled.
  • After Jersey City mayor Steve Fulop failed to endorse the governor, meetings with Christie and top commissioners were abruptly canceled.

In his press conference after the first torrent of emails were released, Christie claimed that he is definitely not a bully. Videos provide the background for these quotes from Christie:

1. [To a teacher:] “If what you want to do is put on a show and giggle every time I talk, well then I have no interest in answering your question.”

​2. [To a former Navy SEAL:] “Your rear end’s going to get thrown in jail, idiot.”

3. [To a reporter:] “You know Tom, you must be the thinnest-skinned guy in America…you should really see me when I’m pissed.”

​4. [To a constituent:] “Hey Gail, you know what, first off it’s none of your business.”

​5. [To a former White House doctor:] “This is just another hack who wants five minutes on TV…she should shut up.”

​6. [To an Occupy Wall Street protester:] “Something may be going down tonight, but it ain’t going to be jobs, sweetheart.”

7. [To a reporter:] “Are you stupid?…I’m sorry for the idiot over there.”

8. [To a person on the street:] “You’re a real big shot. You’re a real big shot. Just keep walking away. Keep walking.”

Christie’s bullying went as high up as the GOP presidential candidate in 2012. An excerpt from Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s Double Down: Game Change 2012 published last fall describes Christie’s ability as a “fundraising dynamo” with the caveat that he was a demanding person:

“Months earlier, Christie had banned Romney from raising money in New Jersey until Christie had given the O.K. to do so—a move Romney found galling, like something out of The Sopranos. Are you kidding me, Mitt thought. He’s going to do that?”

Mitt Romney had even vetted Christie for his vice-president. The only requirements were that the person be considered qualified to be Commander in Chief and that the person have no distractions in the background. The vetters used the nickname “Pufferfish” for Christie. Pufferfish didn’t make the cut.

Chris Hedges described Christie as “Wall Street’s anointed son for the presidency … backed by the most ruthless and corrupt figures in New Jersey politics, including the New Jersey multimillionaire and hard-line Democratic boss George Norcross III. Among his other supporters are many hedge fund managers and corporate executives and some of the nation’s most retrograde billionaires, including the Koch brothers.”

Hedges explained that the bridge closure “is a window into how federal agencies and the security and surveillance apparatus would be routinely employed in a Christie presidency to punish anyone who challenged this tiny cabal’s grip on power. Christie is the caricature of a Third World despot. He has a vicious temper, a propensity to bully and belittle those weaker than himself, an insatiable thirst for revenge against real or perceived enemies, and little respect for the law and, as recent events have made clear, for the truth. He is gripped by a bottomless hedonism that includes a demand for private jets, huge entourages, exclusive hotels and lavish meals.”

Part of Christie’s baggage comes from his wife, Mary Pat Christie, a bond trader currently managing director at Angelo Gordon, an investment firm in New York. Her resume includes JPMorgan Chase, Fleet Securities, and Cantor Fitzgerald.

The rest of Hedges’ comments are well-worth reading.

All these behaviors demonstrate a very bad choice for running the United States. Future blogs will focus on opinions—both right and left—about Christie, his possibly illegal activities, Christie’s current approach to the problems, and a glass-ball look into the future.

Today Chris Christie was inaugurated for his second term as governor. Mother Nature rewarded him with a snow storm that closed down parts of the Northeast.

Update: After I posted this, I received a correction about Don Young being Alaska’s representative. The person also sent the following reaction:

“Don’t get me started on Ketchikan’s Bridge to nowhere.  You haven’t arrived at Ketchikan Airport at midnight after overhearing Juneau because of weather.  The airport closes, you wait for the ferry, you pay $150.00 for a hotel… you arrive at 1 a.m., you have to be back at the airport at 4 a.m. to catch a 6 a.m. flight hopefully back to Juneau.  That means you have to get the ferry at some other ungodly hour.

“There was and is a good reason for the bridge which we aren’t going to discuss.  I’m on the side of Senator Stevens on this one. ”


August 30, 2013

Bullying Has Long-lasting Effects

safe spaceYou’d think that school officials would want to protect all of their students, wouldn’t you? You’re wrong, at least in Rutherford County (TN). When the national and state ACLU asked that students and teachers be permitted to hand “Safe Space” posters, the school board turned them down. Vice Chairman Wayne Blair said that there is no need for the posters.

GLSEN’s 2011 survey showed that at least 90 percent of students in Tennessee heard the word “gay” used in a negative way or other homophobic remarks. They also heard negative remarks about a person’s gender presentation. Students weren’t the only ones talking like this; 30 percent of students heard the school staff commented negatively on an individual’s gender expression, and 23 percent heard the staff use homophobic remarks.

Many Tennessee students are also verbally and physically bullied: 88 percent of LGBT youth were verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation, and 64 percent were harassed because of their gender presentation. Worst of all, almost no LGBT youth had access to necessary support at school. Only 3 percent attended a school with a comprehensive anti-bullying program that specifically includes LGBT youth. While 87 percent could identify one supportive staff member, only about a third could identify many.

Posters won’t solve all these problems, but the school board refused even this small attempt at helping LGBT youth because of the terms “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender,” stating that they were of an inappropriate sexual nature. The school board’s attorney also accused the terminology of being inappropriately political.

Without any school support, LGBT youth may have nowhere to go for help. A 2011-2012 survey shows that approximately 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT: of those, 68 percent said they had experienced family rejection, and 54 percent said they had experienced abuse in the family.

The bullying that the school board denies has far-reaching effects for both the bully and the victim. According to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, bullies who were also victims have the biggest problems as adults—14.5 times more likely to develop panic disorder and 4.8 times more likely to experience depression. are 18.5 times more likely to have had suicidal thoughts, and females are 26.7 times more likely to have agoraphobia.

Previous research from Finland found the same adverse long-term outcomes, particularly anxiety for victims and antisocial personality disorders for bullies.

A newer report in Psychological Science shows the same affects as well as difficulty in keeping a job and poor social relationships. Because they had greater difficulty saving money, they were more likely to be poor. Those who were both bullies and victims are six times more likely to be diagnosed with a serious illness or psychiatric disorder and to regularly smoke. Bullies also have a greater chance of riskier behavior and criminal records.

The hatred for LGBT rights from the religious right and schools was evidenced in a hate crime last Sunday in Orlando (FL). Three men taunted a women walking along a sidewalk, calling her “lesbian” and “dyke” before they got out of the car and raped her. One of the men supposedly said, “I’ll show you how a real man feels.”

A gay Iraq war hero was booed and shouted in San Antonio for supporting anti-discrimination laws for sexual orientation and gender identity. A Tennessee church expelled an entire family because they wouldn’t reject a lesbian daughter. Bryan Fischer, American Family Association spokesman, wants the United States to follow Russia in its anti-LGBT laws which arrest and imprison people even for appearing to be or supporting of LGBT people.

Ex-gay therapist Jerry Mungadze continues the cruel stereotypes with his system of determining who is gay or possessed by demons by asking people to use crayons to color in a picture of the human brain. Black, gray, or brown—that’s possessed. And—of course!—pink proves a person is gay.

In Virginia, gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, currently the state’s AG, wants to bring back the anti-sodomy law. Tom Tomorrow’s black humor shows how doing so would impact people:


After a Pennsylvania county clerk issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Gov. Tom Corbett filed a legal brief against the action—because the state AG refused to stop the licenses. The legal team compared these licenses for LGBT couples to allowing 12-year-old children to be married. As usual with gaffes like this, Corbett has called the analogy “inappropriate,” according to Corbett’s spokesman.

Even after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA as unconstitutional, the Veterans Administration refused to provide federal benefits to veterans’ legally married spouses. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said that the law explaining these benefits define spouse and surviving spouse as someone of the opposite sex. Fortunately, a federal judge in California, Consuelo B. Marshall, declared the VA’s decision is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court didn’t even begin to overturn the 1,038+ unconstitutional federal laws that discriminate against same-sex couples. At this time, Social Security will give benefits only to married same-sex couples who live in states and other jurisdictions that recognize marriage equality. State and federal government will continue to model bullying for everyone in the United States, costing taxpayers a millions of dollars.

Even Wal-Mart has decided to allow health benefits to same-sex partners of its 1.3 million workers, in keeping with 62 percent of Fortune 500 companies. The VA might take note.

Note: The IRS is following the spirit of the Supreme Court anti-DOMA ruling. Legally married same-sex couples in the United States have achieved marriage equality for federal tax purposes no matter where they live even if they reside in a state that does not recognize the union. U.S. Treasury secretary Jacob J. Lew issued the following in a press release:

“This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change. Under the ruling, same sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes. The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA, and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.”

Refund claims can still be filed for 2010, 2011, and 2012, and some people may have special circumstances that allow them to file such claims for earlier years. Earlier today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that legally married same-sex couples will receive the same treatment under Medicare as opposite-sex couples.

June 14, 2012

Bullying Shortens Lives

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:01 PM
Tags: , ,

In a new survey of over 10,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13-17, 42 percent state that  they are not accepted where they live and 63 percent plan to move away.  California is the only state where a majority of LGBTQ youth feel accepted. LGBTQ youth are also twice as likely to say they had been physically assaulted at school. Whereas grades are the biggest problem for heterosexual youth, LGBTQ youth say that their greatest problem is acceptance. In addition, twice as many of the LGBTQ youth also said they have used drugs or alcohol.

When bullying is the subject, many people say that it just happens for kids, that it’s a normal part of life. This “normal part of life,” however, shorten lives.

For years, scientists have been studying telomeres, the little caps at the tips of chromosomes, like little plastic tips on shoelaces, that keep the DNA from unraveling. These telomeres get shorter every time that cells divide, controlling the number of times that cells can do this. After about 50 to 60 divisions, the telomeres are so small that the cells start to shut down.

Depression and chronic stress, including pain, cause  telomeres to become shorter, a phenomenon perhaps associated with impaired cortisol function. Physically- active middle-aged people have longer telomeres than sedentary adults, whose telomeres are about 40 percent shorter than those of young people. Other causes of shorter telomeres are smoking, obesity, and psychological disorders.

For the first time, scientists are researching telomeres in children. They have  discovered that those who experience violence and bullying have shorter telomeres than their more stable peers. To be bullied is to live with chronic stress, sometimes without relief. Certainly adults can have those issues with employment or personal relationships, but many of them can develop patterns to escape these. Children rarely can.

Most important, people need to understand that such advice as telling bullying targets to develop a thick skin and just take the bullying treatment may be shortening lives through their advice. They need to help stop this abuse.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Terrie Moffitt, a professor of psychology and neuroscience, wrote. “Some of the billions of dollars spent on diseases of aging such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia might be better invested in protecting children from harm.”

January 15, 2012

New Sex Ed Guidelines Fight Abstinence-only Programs

Wait until all those far-right folk raise their heads out of the Republican presidential candidate hoopla to hear about the latest news in sex education!

Proper names for male and female anatomy should be taught in the early elementary grades along with the understanding that all living things reproduce and that all people have the right to not be touched if they don’t want to be. At the same age, young people should have the ability to identity different kinds of family structures and explain why bullying and teasing are wrong.

By the end of the fifth grade, students should know the definition of sexual orientation as “the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender.” Students of this age should also be able to define sexual harassment and abuse. When leaving middle school, youth should be able to differentiate between gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. In addition, they should be able to explain why a rape victim is not at fault, understand bullying and dating violence, and describe the signs and impacts of sexually transmitted diseases. (Pity the poor politicians who still don’t believe that rape victims are not at fault!)

At the finish of eighth grade, adolescents need to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of abstinence, condoms, and other “safer sex methods” as well as how emergency contraception works. The goal for these recommendations is to provide a foundation for sequential, age-appropriate discussions about sex, bullying and healthy relationships. Curriculum guidelines come from a coalition of health and education organizations, including Advocates for Youth, American Association of Health Education, American School Health Association, National Education Association–Health Information Network, Society of  State Leaders of Health and Physical Education, and Future of Sex Education Initiative.

Statements from Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Education Abstinence Association, come as no surprise. Arguing that abstinence should be the focus of any sex ed programs, she said, “This should be a program about health, rather than agendas that have nothing to do with optimal sexual health decision-making. Controversial topics are best reserved for conversations between parent and child, not in the classroom.”

Parents are already fuming about this set of guidelines, claiming that only parents have the right to talk to children about sex education. By that they mean that “sex-ed teachers” should just tell students not to have sex, and everything will be fine. Research, however, proves them wrong.

Nine years ago, the AIDS Research Institute at the University of California (San Francisco), reported that comprehensive or abstinence-plus sex education is the the most effective curriculum whereas abstinence-only programming causes youth to be “uninformed and alienated.” They also discovered that sex and STIs increase with abstinence-only education.

Since that time, abstinence-only programs have caused more problems, not fewer. According to Ed Brayton, co-founder of Michigan Citizens for Science, research shows the same result. Recent research from the University of Georgia supports the problem with abstinence-only programs:  “States that prescribe abstinence-only sex education programs in public schools have significantly higher teenage pregnancy and birth rates than states with more comprehensive sex education programs.”

Texas, home to abstinence-only proponents Govs. George W. Bush and Rick Perry, is a prime example of this problem. Over 94 percent of  Texas schools teach only abstinence-only sex education or no sex ed at all; the state has the fourth-highest incidence of teenage pregnancy and the highest teen birth rate in the country. Texas’s pregnancy rates are more than 50 percent higher than the national average. Even worse, the state’s teen pregnancy, both initial and repeat, rose after the abstinence-only programs went into effect.

In the union-busting state of  Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker and the other Republican law-makers plan to pass a bill that would repeal state law requiring schools to provide comprehensive, scientifically accurate, and age-appropriate sex ed. That law, The Healthy Youth Act, took effect this school year. The new law would remove not only requirements that schools teach about “the health benefits, side effects, and proper use of contraceptives” but also the recommendation that schools teach about “puberty, pregnancy, parenting, body image, and gender stereotypes.” The new law would replace that language with the requirement that instructors “identify the skills necessary to remain abstinent” for their students. The law doesn’t identify these skills.

Also of great concern is the growing belief that abstinence-only programs increase the problem of bullying. Because students are taught sexist beliefs about gender and sexuality, they are more likely to bully and harass because they learn that “real” boys cannot control themselves and girls are responsible for sexual desire. If girls don’t stop sex, then they are designated sluts. These programs reinforce the “boys will be boys” concept, blaming the victims.

Abstinence-only programs also teach that the only safe, normal way to have sex is between one male and one female. Thus LGBTQ youth are marginalized because they are “perverted.” According to a GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network) study “a significantly greater portion of students in schools that used an abstinence-only curriculum reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and gender expression—64.8 percent of these students felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation compared to 57.3 percent of all other students.” In addition, same-sex marriage is illegal in most states. Because LGBT people cannot get married, the sex ed curriculum teaches them that they can never have a healthy sexual relationship.

Despite the fact that abstinence-only programs increase the risk of sexually-transmitted and infection and unplanned pregnancies, conservatives want abstinence-only programs, no birth control, and no abortions even in the case of rape or the woman’s health—all because of their personal religious beliefs.  In addition, they want to eradicate the health and possibly the lives of LGBTQ youth.  This is the next generation under the control of conservatives. The guidelines will disappear in federal government as rapidly as in Wisconsin.




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