Nel's New Day

July 8, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Four – Mostly Russia!

The last week of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was dominated by North Korea, his world trip, the fallout from his commission’s demand to garner all the states’ voting data, GOP’s lies in their attempt to destroy health care, and, of course, his tweets. But there’s more.

The U.S. is rapidly losing its world leadership: a majority of people in the U.S. have more confidence in Angela Merkel, the chancellor of the country poised to take over the U.S.’s former position, than in DDT.

The White House publication of all its employees’ salaries shows a 37 percent discrepancy in male and female median earnings. Women’s median wage is $72,650 while men get $115,000. DDT’s gap is more than double the national gap of 17 percent and the largest since 2003. Of 22 staffers paid the highest in the White House, only five are women. In April, DDT revoked President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order requiring companies with federal contracts to comply with labor and civil rights laws. DDT made it possible for all companies to pay workers unfairly.

Science has literally left the White House. The last three employees departed the science division of DDT’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Although 222,000 jobs were added in June, new manufacturing jobs were half those in February, and 59,000 of the new jobs were in health and services—the area on the GOP chopping block with Trumpcare. DDT promised at least a four-percent increase in the economy in his first year, but Wall Street is forecasting half that or lower, about the average since President Obama brought the nation out of its Bush recession. The recent slump of the dollar comes from the world view of U.S. economy. As the Fed normalizes monetary policy by raising interest rates, the government has lost its opportunity for cheap loans to repair the nation’s infrastructure. Less federal tax revenue indicates faltering personal income. Although people think that the country is in good shape because of rising stock markets, some experts have expressed concern about the future of stocks.

DDT is clinging to his travel ban, but it’s alienating people—even grandparents—because of the highly restrictive definition of “close” relatives connected to people applying to come into the country. The exclusion of grandparents as “close family members” has hit social media.

The extremist radical policies from DDT are facing courts and sometimes losing. Scott Pruitt’s EPA huge favor to the oil and gas industry last month has been overturned. The Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Pruitt lacked authority to delay an Obama-era regulation cracking down on pollutants from drilling operations. /The EPA admitted that Pruitt’s two-year delay would have a bad affect on the health of children near oil and gas operations.

Tom Price’s HHS agency reported that the Affordable Care Act is “working as intended” because it protects insurers from big risks and moderates consumer premiums. The charge on plans with lower average risks that is transferred to higher-risk plans is neutral within every state. Another temporary plan, reinsurance, protects insurers from high-cost enrollees by paying companies for the first three years. Both plans are permanent in George W. Bush’s Medicare’s prescription program, Part D. Medicare Part D also assesses insurers collecting huge profits from the program and paying them to insurers with commensurate losses, but the GOP maintains that this is an insurer “bailout” for the ACA. Reinsurance reduced net claim costs by four to six percent in 2016. Stopping the program is driving up premiums for 2017 and 2018, thus the GOP is causing the infamous “death spiral” of health care.

Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia are suing Betsy DeVos because of her delay in regulations to protect federal student loan borrowers who have been defrauded by their schools. The rules, set to take effect last July 1, prohibit colleges from forcing students to settle complaints through arbitration instead of court and make it easier for the borrowers to seek debt forgiveness.

The Hatch Act prevents government officials in the executive branch from involvement in political activity; a 2012 amendment added disciplinary action to its violation. Dan Scorvino, DDT’s social media director, may have broken this law when he tweeted in April that DDT’s supporters should defeat Rep. Justin Amash (MI) in the primary. It goes far beyond his vicious tweets that almost equal those of DDT. During DDT’s campaign, Scorvino tweeted an anti-Semitic image of Hillary Clinton atop piles of hundred-dollar bills and a Jewish Star of David that read, “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” Another violator is UN Ambassador Nikki Haley for her retweeting a DDT message endorsing Ralph Norman, the Republican running for Congress in South Carolina’s 5th District. Norman won the special election.

Russia stays in the news:

Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, finalized a $285 million refinancing loan from Deutsche Bank the month before last November’s election when the bank was in court answering a federal mortgage fraud case and charges that it aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. DDT has also garnered almost $8 million from Russian government official Igor Zorin for Florida properties.

DDT’s longtime buddy Michael Cohen has lost his place in DDT’s inner circle to separate DDT from Russian connections. Cohen bought apartments from DDT, bullied DDT’s condo board into submission, and acted as intermediary with mafia-linked DDT business partner, Felix Sater, and Ukraine parliamentarian, Andrii Artemenko, soon after DDT’s inauguration. Artemenko gave Cohen documents to deliver to Michael Flynn before he was fired for Russian connections. Cohen denies reports that he met overseas with Russian officials and operatives, but he has acquired his own lawyer and refuses to provide documents to or appear before congressional intelligence committees.

Sater, a Russia-born real estate dealmaker who allegedly has organized crime links, is agreeing to testify in an international investigation into a Kazakh family’s dealings in the U.S. including the Trump SoHo in downtown New York City. Sater is a known mob informant who fled to Russia to avoid criminal charges. He was also in prison for slashing a man’s face with a broken cocktail glass. His history is here. DDT has said, “I am not involved in Russia.” That doesn’t mean that Russia isn’t involved with DDT. Others are also willing to report on DDT’s connection with financing the Trump SoHo in a front for money laundering.

Although Peter Smith, the man who may have been involved in Russian hacking, has died, the news about his attempts to get Hillary Clinton emails continues. A document of involved people lists senior members of DDT’s campaign, some of them now serving in the White House. Included are white supremacist Steve Bannon. DDT’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, senior Agriculture Department adviser Sam Clovis, and the fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn.  Security consultant Matt Tait, a Smith colleague, gave reasons “that the group was formed with the blessing of the Trump campaign.” The UK cyber-analyst wrote about how Smith recruited him to verify the accuracy of emails.

What has DDT’s Department of Homeland Security to investigate Russian cyber attacks on U.S. voting machines? Nothing.

Hackers from a foreign government—probably Russia—hacked at least a dozen U.S. power plants, including a nuclear facility in Kansas. DDT still hasn’t addressed the problem with Russian president, Vladimir Putin. After DDT’s talk with Putin in Hamburg (Germany) this past week, Putin came away with the impression that DDT agreed that there had been no hacking into the U.S. election.

The company that provides cybersecurity for the U.S. government, including the Pentagon, may lose its contract. Kaspersky Lab, based in Moscow, has certifications issued by the Russian Security Service (FSB) which allows the Russian government to examine anything from Kaspersky. Its security software is also sold at U.S. retail outlets such as Target and Walmart. U.S. intelligence is increasingly concerned that Kaspersky software could cyberattack U.S. infrastructure such as the electric grid, airlines, water utilities, etc. Former CIA station chief in Moscow, Steve Hall, pointed out the Russian control over all of Kasperky’s data:

“Any time [Russian President Vladimir Putin] wants Kaspersky to do something – anything – he’ll remind them that’s where their families are and where their bank accounts are. There’s no doubt in my mind it could be, if it’s not already, under the control of Putin.”

Last Sunday, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said, “I get so frustrated when we get focused on tweets.” DDT is responsible for Cassidy’s frustration, and over two-thirds of people in the United States wish that DDT would stop the tweeting. The miserable attacks on Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough were followed by a view of DDT’s fat ass in the air while he pummels a character labeled CNN. He didn’t create the video, but he retweeted it which makes it an official communication from the White House.

While in Germany, DDT attacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, claiming that all the foreign powers were talking about her email serve and tweeting that he “refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA.” A few DDT mistakes: Podesta’s emails were not on the DNC server; he was not involved with the DNC; the CIA spies on foreign governments and wasn’t investigating cyber-attacks on Clinton.  And DDT continually says that Russia wasn’t involved in the hacking.

“‘The president of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. The president is the spokesman for democracy and liberty. Isn’t it time we brought back the pomp and circumstance and the sense of awe for that office that we all held?’”

The above quotation is from DDT’s 2015 book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again. He should read it sometime.

 

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June 10, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty, Infrastructure Fails to Distract from GOP Problems

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:44 PM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Infrastructure was supposed to be topic of the week for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). He tried very hard to use this topic to distract from his problems—such as testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee—but failed.

A major DDT problem is the Middle East. Immediately after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to end the eight-country blockade against Qatar, DDT tried to regain his popularity with his bullying, interfering stance toward the tiny, natural-gas rich country. The world, including the United States, may be confused about who is in charge of foreign policy. The $110 billion arms sales to Saudi Arabia that DDT touts has been shown to be a giant con—only letters of interest or offers for enticement. Nothing has gone to the Senate, and none of the identified deals is new.  All began before DDT was inaugurated, including four frigates, first reported in 2015, and other items on the Saudi’s wish list such as 150 Black Hawk helicopters and the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system (THAAD). With low oil prices and a two-year war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia may not have the money as the country struggles to make their payments for past deals.

DDT’s caretakers kept him from tweeting for a solid 46 hours during the Senate testimony of former FBI director James Comey, but his rants returned. About Comey’s testimony, DDT tweeted, “Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication … and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” Earlier in the week, DDT smeared London Mayor Sadiz Khan after the terrorist attack on London Bridge. DDT is still bitter because Khan opposed DDT’s Muslim ban. Other DDT tweet attacks slammed his own Justice Department by blaming them for not submitting a “tougher version” of the “travel ban” to the Supreme Court. He also criticized his lawyers for not calling it a travel ban and thus destroyed their only argument to regain the ban. Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George, was so disgusted that he withdrew his name last week from consideration as the Justice Department’s Civil Division chief.  In a poll, 59 percent responded that his tweeting is bad, and 69 percent want him to stop. A strong approval of DDT went from a peak of 30 percent in February to 21 or 22 percent now. Every demographic has shown a significant decline.

A question is whether DDT’s tweets are formal statements or just musings. Aides and officials like Kellyanne Conway and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly maintain that DDT’s tweets aren’t policy, but Press Secretary Sean Spicer called them the “official statements by the President of the United States.” Russel Neiss has put DDT tweets on the record by retweeting DDT’s messages with the White House letterhead. Neiss said, “These are serious words coming out of the highest office holder in the land, and all that this bot does is just give those messages the proper honor they deserve….These are statements of the president.” DDT is also threatened with a lawsuit after he blocked selected followers from his Twitter account. In a letter to DDT, Columbia University scholars wrote, “Blocking users from your Twitter account violates the First Amendment.” The argument is that his tweets are a public forum just as a Facebook page by a government official is.

Personnel is also a serious problem for DDT. He’s unhappy with his staff, but other people are increasingly reluctant to work for him. AG Jeff Sessions offered to resign, probably because of DDT’s anger at his recusal from anything Russian. Sessions didn’t keep to his promise, but he’s still not in charge of the investigation into Russian collusion and hacking. Sessions is trying to get back into DDT’s good graces by blaming New York City’s “murder epidemic” on humane treatment of undocumented immigrants. Last year, the city experienced its second lowest rate in history, and shootings were below 1,000 for the first time on record. Sessions is testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

DDT also hasn’t made appointments for 442 of the 559 key positions requiring Senate confirmation. In February, he said that he didn’t want to fill “a lot” of key posts in his administration because “they’re unnecessary to have.” By April he said that the vacancies were a Democratic conspiracy against him. Yet Republicans control the confirmations; and DDT hasn’t sent names of nominees to the Senate. Only five countries in the world have U.S. nominees for ambassadorships waiting for confirmation: Bahamas, Ethiopia, Holy See, Japan, and New Zealand. A major country without an ambassador at this time is Great Britain.

A deadly hurricane season is predicted, and neither NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) nor FEMA has had anyone in charge since DDT fired everyone in January. DDT has also recommended huge budget cuts for both these agencies. He probably listened to Alex Jones who thinks that FEMA runs camps where people’s guns are taken away and NOAA wants to “intensify global warming” by outfitting planes with chemtrails. DDT may not know that NOAA tracks hurricanes to provide warnings, and FEMA coordinates disaster responses. DDT appointments, however, would most likely be selected because of their opposition to these missions.

White supremacist Steve Bennon appears to have returned as de facto U.S. president since DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, disappeared. In addition to the at least 20 waivers allowing conflicts of interest for his officials, DDT has retroactively granted a “blanket exemption” permitting Bannon to “communicate” with editors of ultra-right Breitbart “News,” Bannon’s old employment. The exemption might relieve him from a pending ethics complaint about past discussions with the editors. OGE director, Walter Shaub, said, “If you need a retroactive waiver, you have violated a rule.” Bannon’s ally Michael Peck may control U.S. government messaging abroad with a possible nomination to head the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

In an impressive analysis, Propublica has collected disclosures from 349 officials installed in DDT’s administration and analyzed their financial holdings and employment backgrounds for conflicts of interest and omissions. It’s a monumental—and invaluable—accomplishment. Check it out here.

DDT has also been stealing from his own foundation and charity. Earlier it was known that he used money donated by others to the Trump Foundation to settle his lawsuits plus purchasing a portrait and autographed Tim Tebow memorabilia, DDT has been found to overcharge the Eric Trump Foundation for annual fundraisers at one of DDT’s golf courses. DDT’s son said that DDT donated the facilities, but he charged $322,000 in just 2015 for 200 day golfers and 600 dinners. Another $500,000 was transferred from helping children with cancer to charities connected to DDT’s family or interests. He also has a history of taking credit when he failed to donate any money, for example to a nursery school serving children with AIDS and  $1 million for children with a rare disease.

In a partnership with the Houston-based Remembrance Project, DDT claimed to raise money to families of those killed by undocumented immigrants. For almost a year, he has gotten publicity while the group collected funds, but no families have been financially helped. The nonprofit project has filed paperwork to allow it to directly support or oppose candidates and to lobby for legislation.

Democratic members of Congress are being denied information from federal agencies because of DDT’s orders to ignore their requests. His excuse is that Republicans now control the entire government. GOP Sen. Grassley (IA) has told DDT that he has no right to withhold information unless Congress approves the action which has left 102 requests unanswered.

The percentage of people identifying as Republicans has dropped to 38 percent since the November election, and Democrats have increased to 45 percent. The seven-point gap is over three times in that seven-month period. Overall DDT’s approval ratings have slid to the 30s, and strong approval of DDT has dropped from a peak of 30 percent in February to 21 or 22 percent. Every demographic has shown a significant decline.

As fewer people look for jobs, the increase in the number of new ones is also shrinking. The 138,000 jobs created during May, down from the estimated 185,000, plus the downgraded totals of 174,000 in April and the 50,000 in May, make an average monthly gain of 121,000 for those three months. (Last year, over two million new jobs were created.) Retail jobs have declined for five straight months. For the fifth month in a row, auto sales declined—the first slump since the end of George W. Bush’s financial disaster. Consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.6 percent in April, down from the 6.2 percent rate in March. Borrowing rose only $8.2 billion, barely half the estimated $15.5 billion and 40 percent of March’s $19.5 billion. Consumer spending, accounting for two-thirds of U.S. economic growth, rose at a 0.6% annual rate in the first quarter, far short of DDT’s promised three to four percent, indicating a concern about the nation’s instability.

For now, DDT is at his home in Bedminster (NJ) for the weekend, probably playing golf in the 90+ degree weather.

June 5, 2017

U.S. Out of Paris Agreement: Make America Alone

Filed under: Climate change — trp2011 @ 10:00 PM
Tags: , , ,

Today is World Environment Day, and last week Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced to the world that he was abandoning the 194 other countries that had signed the Paris Agreement in an attempt to save the planet from climate warming:

“As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country. This includes ending the implementation of the nationally determined contribution and, very importantly, the Green Climate Fund which is costing the United States a vast fortune.”

The decision followed his appointment of a climate denier to head up the Environmental Protection Agency, destruction of clean water and air regulations, and policies to give as much of the nation’s assets as possible to the wealthy—preferably himself.

The Paris Agreement is voluntary and not legally binding. DDT could have announced a shift in goals to a less ambitious plan. Backing out of the agreement will also require four years with the end on November 4, 2020, the day after the next presidential election. DDT tried to attract his base but alienated the world and unified millions of people to support action to slow climate change. Paris City Hall was just one of the “green” buildings around the world in solidarity against DDT’s announcement.

All DDT’s talk about being a “bad deal” for the nation is simply smoke and mirrors–misrepresentations of fossil fuel and employment reports, some of them from far-right groups to present a future dystopia of the U.S. Almost everything in his speech was false.

No matter what DDT claims, the shift to renewable energy and a low-carbon economy is “unstoppable.” President Obama stated, “The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created.” DDT is costing the nation a chance to benefit from jobs and economic growth from green technology in the future. For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel just attended a ceremony for a new battery factory that would allow her country to become a leading supplier of electric car.

Slowing U.S. advanced energy market will put the nation’s companies at a massive competitive disadvantage. With no robust local market, people in the U.S. will buy energy technology in other countries. Reliance on fossil fuels instead of increasingly cheaper renewable energy will also force higher costs than competitors in the rest of the world. Air and water pollution costs the nation billions because of the health problems. Adopting clean energy would dramatically reduce health costs. Other countries may also require the U.S. to pay carbon-based taxes on any goods sold to members of the Paris Agreement—just about every country in the world at this time. Dropping out of the Paris Agreement has been called the worst thing for the American brand since the discovery of U.S. torture at Abu-Graib. Economically, it could be the worst thing since Bush lost trillions of dollars from his preemptive war against Afghanistan and Iraq.

The biggest loser in the decision to drop out of Paris Agreement is DDT himself. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said about George W. Bush’s dumping the 1997 Kyoto climate treaty in 2002 “that everything the American president does has international repercussions.” Bush’s national security advisor called the decision “a self-inflicted wound.” DDT’s Paris Agreement decision is much worse, giving other countries greater leverage in international affairs. For example, Russia used the Kyoto decision to get Europe’s backing in the World Trade Organization. DDT has just handed world leadership over to China or any other country that occupies the vacuum left by the U.S. departure. As George Schultz, former Cabinet member for Reagan and Nixon, wrote: “The United States is far better off maintaining a seat at the head of the table rather than standing outside.”

DDT claimed that he took the U.S. from the Paris Agreement because he didn’t want the nation to be a laughingstock. He is already the object of ridicule throughout the world and now shows himself to be a petty little person. Some media sources claim that his decision came from France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, ridiculing DDT’s weak handshake. Paul Krugman called it “sheer spite” directed at Barack Obama, much like all other DDT decisions.

The safety of white supremacist Steve Bannon in the White House has been cemented; he and Scott Pruitt were the only advisers to back DDT’s decision. Apparently, “globalist” daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, are out, and Bannon is in. Policy experts, business interests and environmental groups say it will hurt not only global efforts to address climate change but also U.S. standing in the world while doing little to revive the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

World Leaders:

France, Germany, and Italy issued a joint statement that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, despite DDT’s claim. Macron urged scientists to move to France where their talents can better serve humanity.

Former Mexico president, Vicente Fox Quesada, tweeted that Trump’s action “condemns this generation and those to come” and that “United States has stopped being the leader of the free world.” He also wrote to DDT, “You’re leaving a dark legacy just to satisfy your greediness. Today, you’ve surrendered the hopes and future of a nation.”

Business:

Big business, which might have formerly supported DDT’s anti-climate policies, are largely transinternational, giving them incentives for world-supported policies. Major corporations such as ExxonMobil, Shell and Wal-Mart have expressed support for the Paris Agreement. Over 60 percent of Exxon’s shareholders voted for the company to investigate how climate policies and changing consumer behavior will affect its assets. Tesla’s Elon Musk  and Disney CEO Robert Iger resigned as DDT advisers, and GE CEO, Jeff Immelt, tweeted: “Disappointed with today’s decision on the Paris Agreement. Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.”

DDT’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said that coal doesn’t “make that much sense anymore,” but that pushing renewables could make America “a manufacturing powerhouse.” Since DDT’s decision, Cohn is struggling to support DDT’s “broader economic agenda” but wouldn’t answer a question about whether he agreed with the decision.

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman-Sachs and former Cohn colleague, sent his first tweet in the six years since he got his Twitter account: “Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world.”

Media:

Even Fox network fought back when Chris Wallace answered Scott Pruitt’s assertion that China and India by saying “the reality is different from what the president said.” He added, “Aren’t you and the president protecting the horse and buggy business just as cars go online?” Wallace joined other talk show anchors such as ABC’s George Stephanopoulos by saying that Pruitt and DDT misinterpreted a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study.

Government Officials:

GOP governors such as Sam Brownback (KS) and John Kasich (OH) plan to continue their strong support of wind energy because of economic advantages. Wind power is saving the formerly coal state of Wyoming.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) tweeted: “As you can see, my office plant heard the news about the #ParisAgreement.”

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, in response of DDT’s using his city to justify his anti-climate decision: “Fact: Hillary Clinton received 80% of the vote in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh stands with the world & will follow Paris Agreement.”

Peduto set the tone for millions of businesses and people in the United States. Walmart plans 100-percent solar, and Google plans to run all data centers on renewable energy by the end of the year.

California, Washington, and New York, representing 20 percent of the nation’s GDP, have formed the United States Climate Alliance to include states committee to meeting emission reduction targets submitted to the Paris Agreement. Five more states, including two with GOP governors, have joined the group. California’s governor, Jerry Brown, plans to talk with China officials about merging a cap-and-trade program started in 2012 when he visits Asia this week. At this time, 27 percent of energy in California comes from renewable resources. Canada is also reaching out to U.S. governors to coordinate climate change work. Mayors of 187 cities representing 52 million Americans have vowed to uphold the commitment of the Paris Agreement. (Check to see if your city is here.)

A group of at least 30 mayors, three governors, 100 university presidents and chancellors, and 100 businesses is negotiating with the United Nations to have its submission with contributions to the Paris climate deal by other nations. At this time, there is no formal arrangement for this idea, but information from this group can be included in future reports on progress by Paris Agreement members. With the U.S. almost halfway to its goal, efforts from academia, business, and non-federal governments could make up the difference that DDT rejects.

On Monday, more than 1,000 companies and institutions, including more than a dozen Fortune 500 businesses, signed onto a statement, We Are Still In, with the commitment to meet the Paris targets. By then, a dozen states together representing the world’s third-largest economy were joined by other 200 cities committed to the Paris Agreement.

Forty-two years ago, the NY Daily News ran a headline on its cover, “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” after President Gerald Ford rejected loans to the city that was close to financial disaster. The cover has returned in a different context. Meanwhile DDT went golfing at one of his courses for the 22nd time in 19 weeks.

The best analysis of DDT’s position and speech is from the comedian John Oliver—very well worth watching!

August 11, 2016

Trump: Terrorist, Liar

Sharron Angle, senatorial candidate from Nevada, made news six years ago when she suggested “Second Amendment remedies” to control Congress and defeat her incumbent opponent. She never directly told people to assassinate the then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and fortunately, no one tried to murder him. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin wasn’t as fortunate. Rabin’s right-wing opponents described him as a “traitor” and “Nazi” because he wanted to make peace with the Palestinians and give them back their land, and Jewish extremist Yigal Amir killed the prime minister because the assassin thought he was serving his country through his actions.

The recent Republican convention fueled incendiary behavior toward Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, with constant cries of “lock her up” and speaker Chris Christie’s mock trial inciting shouts of “guilty.” Al Baldasaro, Trump’s advisor on veterans issues, called for Clinton to be executed in a firing line at least twice during the convention.

Earlier this week, Donald Trump controlled himself for an hour as he carefully read from teleprompters about his economic “plan” but rapidly moved back to the usual bombastic behavior. One statement has ignited the world after he lied about Clinton wanting to get rid of the Second Amendment—the right for militia members to carry guns.

“If she gets to pick her judges―nothing you can do, folks. Although, the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is. I don’t know. But I tell you what, that will be a horrible day.”

The Trump people immediately returned to spin mode, claiming that it was a joke or a call for people to go out and vote against Clinton. As a joke, it goes far beyond poor taste. As for voting, the reference is to after the election—not before—and the last sentence, which most media ignore, indicates violence.

To suggest that Trump was literally telling people that they should kill Clinton is to indicate that he’s more mentally unbalanced than many pundits have proposed in the last few weeks. As a celebrity entertainer running for president, however, he’s normalizing violent solutions by joking about it in front of a large crowd. And his suggestion isn’t limited to just Clinton: he mentioned the judges—and implicitly anyone who opposes him, such as journalists and bloggers. This statement can inspire truly mentally-unbalanced individuals as other words have in the past. As journalist Chemi Shalev wrote:

“Like the extreme right in Israel, many Republicans conveniently ignore the fact that words can kill. There are enough people with a tendency for violence that cannot distinguish between political stagecraft and practical exhortations to rescue the country by any available means.”

David Cohen wrote in Rolling Stone about Trump’s stochastic terrorism—“using language and other forms of communication ‘to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.’” Valerie Tarico wrote about this form of terrorism after a man killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs late last year:

  1. “A public figure with access to the airwaves or pulpit demonizes a person or group of persons.
  2. With repetition, the targeted person or group is gradually dehumanized, depicted as loathsome and dangerous—arousing a combustible combination of fear and moral disgust.
  3. Violent images and metaphors, jokes about violence, analogies to past ‘purges’ against reviled groups, use of righteous religious language—all of these typically stop just short of an explicit call to arms.
  4. When violence erupts, the public figures who have incited the violence condemn it—claiming no one could possibly have foreseen the ‘tragedy.'”

Dr. George Tiller’s assassination in 2009 follows this pattern as does Trump’s actions:

  • Trump incessantly degrades and demonizes Clinton by calling her “Crooked Hillary” and calling her the “co-founder of ISIS.”
  • Trump produces a convention in which the idea of Clinton as a criminal is constantly repeated in order to increase disgust and fear toward  her.
  • Trump now uses “dog whistles,” “jokes,” and incomplete statements to encourage violence and wait for someone to take him up on his “suggestion.”

Trump has a reason for these extremist remarks. As the media published more and more information about his connection with Russia, he attacked the Khan family, parents of a fallen heroic soldier. The Pied Piper led his followers away from Russia, but the then the media reported on the possibility that his wife, Melania, is an “illegal alien”—to quote his followers—as well as his really bad economic speech.

In 2005, Melania Trump claimed that she was not married before meeting Trump, but a Trump Organization lawyer, Michael Wildes, said that the Slovenian citizen got a green card in 2001 “based on marriage” to live in the United States. He now says that he cannot discuss details because of privacy issues.

Her immigration status was already in question after recently-published nude shots indicated she began working in the U.S. a year earlier than previously stated. In addition, she said that she had to return to Slovenia every few months to renew her visa, not a requirement for the H-1B visa that she claimed to have. Her need for frequent renewals fits a B-1 Temporary Business Visitor or B-2 Tourist Visa, which typically last up to six months and do not permit employment except for domestic servants accompanying employers temporarily in the U.S. Using the B-2 visa for work would constitute visa fraud. Such fraud would raise questions about her current U.S. citizenship. Donald Trump stated that his wife had complied with the immigration laws and that she would be holding a “little press conference.” No time has been announced for this event.

The “Second Amendment” speech covered for those problems, but the Pied Piper called President Obama the “founder of ISIS” to lead the media in a different direction. ISIS started with Al Queda in 2003 and was perhaps strengthened only because of George W. Bush’s agreement to take all troops out of Iraq by 2011. Donald Trump is featured in at least pro-ISIS propaganda films.

Trump’s “Second Amendment” speech and the attacks on the president have not totally overcome Trump’s economic speech, especially after Hillary Clinton gave one today. In addition to his lies, he promised a moratorium on new regulations while criticizing China for “no real environmental or labor protections.” He promised “an across-the-board income tax reduction” that would benefit corporations and wealthy people. With tax cuts, he promised to double Clinton’s recommended spending on the nation’s infrastructure and put more money into the military.  He also promised a massive increase in tariffs, resulting in much higher prices for people in the U.S.

His complaint about the high tax rate forU.S. businesses skipped loopholes, credits, and deductions that brings the actual taxes paid down to 1.9 percent of the tax share last year—down from a high of 2.7 percent. Over 100,000 businesses in the U.S. paid zero taxes in 2012.

business income exempt corporate taxes

His accusations that the Affordable Care Act losing jobs is also false. Since the law went into effect, the nation’s economy added more than 14.6 million jobs, dropping the jobless rate to 4.9 percent from 9.9 percent.

A new study from the Economic Policy Institute shows that the GOP is to blame for a slow economic recovery because of budget cuts including the problems in 2011 regarding the debt ceiling, unwillingness to spend money, and lack of Medicaid expansion. Local, state, and federal conservatives are all responsible.

Here is the economic team that provided Trump with his failed ideas from the past.

The RNC is again frustrated by Donald Trump’s behavior. Chair Reince Priebus has told Trump that changes need to be made because of an impending failure for his candidacy, again trying to move Trump toward a more professional demeanor. The RNC is struggling with a decision to protect all the other GOP candidates at the risk of losing the presidency, and a decision must be made soon because early voting starts in a month. Trump threatened to quit fund-raising if any action is taken.

Trump has now decided that he can be bought. After ridiculing all his opponents for taking money from billionaires, he is now wooing them for donations, including the Las Vegas magnate Sheldon Adelson. Both he and his vice-presidential candidate, Mike Pence, also plan to appear at events for the duo’s super PAC, legal if the candidates do not solicit more than $5,000. Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott has been named head of the super PAC that Trump has called horrible and corrupting. Last October, he said, “The character of our country is only as strong as our leaders.”

Polls are moving to favor a Clinton win, and even notable wackos such as Glenn Beck won’t support Trump. Today Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called keeping a GOP majority in the Senate “very dicey.” Of the 34 seats up for grabs, 24 of them are currently GOP-held with seven of them “very competitive,” according to McConnell. Democrats need four seats to take control if they also get the White House.

Only 88 days to go.

August 8, 2016

Stein, Trump – Bad for the Country

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 9:09 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Some grumpy supporters of Bernie Sanders keep saying that they’ll vote for Donald Trump and blow up the world or pick one of the two third-party candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Jill Stein. Stein supports much of Sanders’ positions, many of them also ones that Hillary Clinton espouses. But many of her claims, such as not taking corporate money, are bogus:

  • Stein’s top five contributors are corporations—AON,  Xoom Global Money Transfer, IBM, Thoughtworks, and UPS.
  • Stein and her husband, Richard Rohrer, are worth at least $3.9 million. Their stock holdings include at least $100,000 worth of Disney, $100,000 worth of Home Depot, and $50,000 worth of Merck.
  • Stein’s personal choice for vice-president is Ajamu Baraka who refers to Sanders as a “white supremacist” and labels Sanders supporters as naive shills.  americablog.com/…
  • Stein is collecting money to run against Elizabeth Warren in 2018, thereby giving the Massachusetts senate seat to the GOP by draining votes from Warren.
  • Stein’s political experience matches that of Trump—i.e., none. An ex-musician and medical professional, she has won one election—a town meeting representative in Lexington (MA)—with 539 votes.
  • Stein matches Trump in foreign policy positions as pro-Russian, follows his “simplistic” approach, and frequently changes her position as in being for Brexit and then against it.
  • Stein opposes mandatory vaccination policies and implied that vaccinations can cause disorders such as autism.
  • Stein claims that wireless signals are dangerous for children despite evidence that FM radio and television provides five times more of RF signals than base stations.
  • Stein’s job is running for office. For example, she raised about $1.3 million for her 2012 campaign, including $370,000 in public funding.
  • Stein has refused to release her tax returns for the past five years.
  • And more.

Sanders urges his followers to vote for Hillary Clinton, and some of his grumpy supporters have said that they will do anything that Sanders wants them to do—except vote for Clinton. If they implicitly believed him, why aren’t they trying to follow him now?

Trump Watch:  This morning, Donald Trump carefully read his plan for “America First” from a teleprompter in a flat, low-energy voice. He plans to drastically reduce taxes, emulating George W. Bush who started today’s deficit by reducing taxes for the wealthy and starting wars. Other goals are to spend billions and billions of dollars on the infrastructure, but he didn’t say where he’s find the money.

Trump promises a moratorium on any new regulations, like Mike Pence supposedly did as governor of Indiana. The purpose was to help the economy, but the state’s GDP growth was behind the national average in 2012, 2014, and 2015 while barely beating the average in 2013. Indiana ranks 38th in the nation for per capita income, and its unemployment rate is above the national average. Pence, unlike Trump and Clinton, supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trump also promises unlimited deductions for child care which, like his other plans, provides far more help for the wealthiest because they can deduct their nannies. The poorest people, who need help with child care, don’t itemize their deductions. In his promise to bring all jobs back to the United States, Trump struck a cheery note missing at the Republican convention although he talked about how this nation doesn’t “win” anymore.

Trump’s common misrepresentation about Clinton is her support of NAFTA. First Lady when Bill Clinton signed the trade pact into law early in his presidency, Clinton was not in any position to stop the NAFTA trade pact. The law, passed by more Republicans than Democrats, was negotiated and signed by George H.W. Bush. Then House Speaker and current Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich supported NAFTA. And like Trump, Clinton wants to renegotiate NAFTA. Factchecker gave Trump Two Pinocchios for his lie. Trump also repeated his lie that Clinton would immediately change her rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Instead of presenting a concrete jobs plan, Trump repeated old lies about how Hillary Clinton killed 100,000 jobs. She failed to get half the jobs she promised because of the George W. Bush economy, but she didn’t “kill” the jobs. The jobs that Trump brags about providing were three decades ago because of his construction in New York, but many of these were for immigrants, some of them undocumented. He also caused bankruptcies in small companies after he failed to pay them for work on his construction projects until they sued to get part of what they were due.

Trump also uses the nation’s visa system to hire foreign workers at low wages, for example, at Florida’s Mar-A-Lago Club which Trump calls home. While the resort worked to get over 500 work visas for workers, it hired only 17 of 300 U.S. residents who applied for work there. “I’m a businessman,” Trump said about the hiring of people who he talks to political audiences about taking jobs of U.S. residents.

Trump repeated—several times—his declaration about “93 million out of the workforce” that Politifact ruled “false” a year ago. It includes everyone of retirement age—65 and older (37.8 million people)—and every teenager at least 16 years old—high schoolers (9.7 million) and college students (5.7 million). Trump’s figure also includes disabled people who cannot work, parents wishing to stay home to take care of children, and people living off investments. The number “out of the workforce” is closer to 21 million: 8.3 million officially unemployed, 6.4 million people who haven’t looked for work recently enough to qualify as being “in the labor force,” and another 6.5 million people working part-time would rather have a full-time job.

Trump consistently gets a “pants on fire” for his lie about Clinton raising taxes on the middle classes. The GOP put a caption saying she wanted to raise taxes under a video of Clinton stating “we aren’t going to raise taxes on the middle class.” Repealing the death tax always gets cheers, but it applies  to only those estates worth over $5.45 million; last year one in 500 estates—0.002 percent—were subject to this tax. Supporters talk about protecting the family farm, and Trump promises that he’ll protect “workers” from this tax. Yet that’s never been a problem for either of these categories. Once again, Trump is protecting his wealth in a speech delivered in poverty-ridden Detroit.

According to Moody’s Analytics, Trump’s economic plan would:

  • Cost the economy over three million jobs;
  • Raise the unemployment rate by 40 percent;
  • Cost $9.5 trillion during the next decade;
  • Increase the national debt by almost 80 percent in two decades;
  • Lead to a recession and global economic panic;
  • Keep child care out of reach for working families.

Trump brags about saving New York City by building expensive structures, but he also cheated the city out of almost $3 million in taxes in just 1986 through “failures in basic bookkeeping, the seemingly sudden adoption of irregular accounting methods, and efforts to stymie officials,” according to a CBS “Moneywatch.” Among missing items for the audit were monthly ledgers detailing over six months of income and expenses—supposedly lost because of a flood in New Jersey and missing in a Chicago office.

More fact-checking on the speech from NBC. Plus a funny analysis from the NY Daily News.

Summary of the GOP’s presidential speech today: Trump thinks Clinton lies, he wants to lower taxes for the wealthy, he plans to do away with all regulations, and he won’t explain how his plans work—like where the money comes from to give to the wealthy. Nothing new as Donald Trump tries mightily to appear presidential.

The second most popular senator in the United States, Susan Collins (R-ME), announced that she will not vote for Trump. She’s joined in this opinion by at least ten other members of Congress and two GOP governors. In addition, 50 top GOP national security officers, mostly from the George W. Bush administration, signed a letter opposing Trump, declaring that he would be “the most reckless president in American history.” In their fervor to keep Trump from being president,  however, most of them stop short of saying that they will vote for Hillary Clinton, leaving the blame on them if he is elected president.

[Note: Conservative host on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd, repeated the myth of Clinton’s dishonesty on yesterday’s program and failed to talk about Trump’s constant lying and the increasing percentage of people who doubt his honesty. A new poll puts Clinton and Trump even on trustworthiness but finds her higher in being temperamentally fit and knowledgeable about the world. After Todd trashes Clinton, he ponders about why people think that Clinton is dishonest. Let’s see: Todd says a large number of people think that she is dishonest, he has conservative guests who repeat what he says, and then he’s confused about the reason for this perception.]

May 6, 2016

Katha Pollitt: ‘Why Bernie Didn’t Get My Vote’

katha pThe Nation, which endorsed Bernie Sanders, was brave enough to publish an article by Katha Pollitt called “Why Bernie Didn’t Get My Vote” in the midst of all the Hillary Clinton bashing. She pointed out a few of the standard bits about why people are not voting for him followed by these excerpts:

“Bernie didn’t ask for my vote. Oh, you can go to his website and find a page of boilerplate setting out his general commitments to women’s rights: He’s in favor of equal pay, reproductive rights, the ERA, the Violence Against Women Act, childcare for all, and so on—a laundry list, indeed, of the causes dear to the heart of those often derided by his supporters as bourgeois feminists content with incremental change. I am aware, too, that Bernie has a good voting record on those issues in Congress. But there’s a difference between someone who votes the right way, and someone who introduces legislation and champions the issue. He never convinced me that gender issues, specifically the persistent subordination of women in every area of life, were of much concern to him.

“There were all those little tells. Pooh-poohing Planned Parenthood and NARAL as ‘establishment’ when he didn’t get their endorsement. Arguing for parental leave because it allows a new mother ‘to stay home and bond with her baby’ instead of as something that benefits fathers as well, and something that women need in order to work and advance on the job. Doubling down on the idiotic quip by his surrogate, Killer Mike (‘A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States’), with the pseudo-lofty pledge ‘No one has ever heard me say, “Hey guys, let’s stand together, vote for a man.” I would never do that, never have.’ Is there a word for someone whose entitlement is so vast, so deep, so historically embedded, and so unconscious it includes the belief that they got where they are by a resolute devotion to fair play? It’s not reassuring that his senior campaign staff, like his long-time political inner circle, is almost entirely white and male.

“In a long campaign, everyone says unfortunate things. But these and other remarks suggest that when it comes to gender, he just doesn’t feel the burn. The problem is less that Bernie focuses on class and economic inequality than that he doesn’t seem to understand that the economy, like society generally, is structured by gender and race. Equal pay is great, but if women and men are funneled into different kinds of work by race and gender, with men’s jobs valued more because men are valued more, and if women are hobbled economically by doing most of the domestic labor and having to contend with prejudice against working mothers to boot, equal pay alone doesn’t solve the problem.

“It would have been great if Bernie had given a major speech about his plans to make women’s lives better—safer, fairer, less dominated by men. Instead, he gives every sign of believing that his basic program—a $15 minimum wage, free public college, breaking up the big banks, single-payer health insurance—is quite enough. Those are all great and important goals—in fact, the $15 minimum wage will benefit more women than men. But they do not speak directly to the rage and fed-upness that so many women, in every class, justly feel. Bernie showed a similar blindness to the specific harms of racism, but, thanks largely to Black Lives Matter, has moved a little further toward integrating race into his analysis.

“At 74, you are who you are. Bernie is a traditional class-based leftist for whom feminism is a distraction. Abortion, as he told Rolling Stone, is a “social issue.” Women’s mental and physical health, their economic survival, their ability to determine the shape of their own lives as men do, is a social issue? The clear implication is that reproductive rights (like guns and LGBT rights, which he mentions in the same breath) are secondary considerations, impediments to winning broad support for his populist economic proposals. I can go to the comment sections of AlterNet—or The Nation—and get that view any day from the bros, but I really thought we’d be further along with a white man who wants to lead a movement in a party that is majority female and over a third people of color. (And that’s just registered members—in 2012, 46 percent of people who voted Democratic were people of color.)

“After Indiana, the GOP looks more likely than ever to nominate a racist, xenophobic misogynist of staggering crudeness and mendacity. If elected, Trump would consult with the conservative Heritage Foundation on Supreme Court nominations. We could well lose what remains of a century of progress for women, workers, LGBT people, and people of color, including the right to vote itself.

“Trump understands very well that racism and sexism are crucial components of the nationalistic insurgence he wants to lead; he appeals openly to some of the darkest impulses in our political id. It is more than disturbing that Bernie pays so little attention to these dangers. He’s changed the debate within the Democratic Party by showing that millions of voters want more than incremental, technocratic tinkering with growing inequality. For that, I’m grateful. But when it comes to dealing with the Republicans in November, I don’t think Bernie gets the awful reality we’re facing. Hillary does.”

Thanks, Ms. Pollitt. You say what I feel but so much better than I ever could.

October 31, 2015

October GOP Debate Introduces Halloween

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 9:00 PM
Tags: ,

tube nosed batOn Halloween, I’m sitting warm and dry inside while the rain and wind sweeps across the central Oregon Coast. Tonight television will finish the weeks of badly-done films meant to scare people. Not nearly as good as these wonderful creepy creatures such as this tube-nosed bat. And certainly not as scary as the scary masked creatures behind the podium at the GOP debates last Wednesday. Not satisfied with spending four hours in two different debates manipulating those watching through lies and evasions, several candidates have decided to make their mark by changing the entire debate process as the put-upon candidates try to rig future performances by using radical extremists to give them a pass on all their wacky, destructive ideas.

Those who watched the debates probably noticed all the missing economic topics—the Trans-Pacific Partnership, effects of the Great Recession, China’s economic slowdown, the country’s physical infrastructure, etc. Asked about their position on the recently passed budget bill, candidates chose to have temper tantrums to avoid answering questions.

The lying started at the little kids’ table (the first debate) with Bobby Jindal claiming that the Democrats “forced Obamacare and socialism down our throats.” The Affordable Care Act comes from Mitt Romney’s plan proposed by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation—and uses private insurance companies. People in the United States are far happier with the socialist Medicare plan. Jindal also repeated the myth that the U.S. has the world’s highest corporate tax rate. In theory, it is only the third highest, and in practice, corporate taxes in the U.S. are among the lowest of developed countries.

Lindsey Graham said that Boeing was in South Carolina because of the state’s taxes. That might be partly true because the state gave hundreds of millions of dollars of gifts that most citizens and firms never receive. Also the falsely-named “right-to-work” laws in South Carolina give Boeing  the opportunity  to pay slave wages to its employees. Graham also maintained that Russians wouldn’t be in Ukraine if Ronald Reagan were president. They were in Ukraine all during Reagan’s two terms.

None of the candidates in the first debate worried about a possible merger between Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors that would control 73 percent of the U.S. market. Rick Santorum said he drinks a lot of Coors beer and there wouldn’t be a problem because he sees a lot of breweries in his travels. Graham said that he’s the “best bet” for good beer policy because “my dad owned a bar.” He uses that experience a great deal on any issue in his campaign.

Candidates touted several ways to improve life in the United States. Mike Huckabee would end disease, Ted Cruz would abolish the Federal Reserve and return the county to the gold standard, and Carly Fiorina would reduce the 70,000 pages of tax code to just three pages.

Because the debate’s focus was the economy, candidates talked a great deal about tax rates—in very general terms. Both Donald Trump and Ben Carson want all taxes to be at 15 percent, and Rand Paul offers a zero option for payroll taxes. John Kasich explained how the other candidates’ plan would leave the country “trillions and trillions of dollars in debt,” but his opponents couldn’t come out of their alternative reality to answer. They just got upset that their plans would be questioned. Here is the exchange between Becky Quick and Carson regarding questions which about Carson’s vague plan that candidates found “unfair.” Earlier Carson claimed that he would not ever raise the debt ceiling if he were elected president and showed he didn’t understand the difference between the process that agrees to pay debts and the budget, which incurs future obligation.

Candidates complained about “gotcha” questions, but their responses, either lies or evasions, were to substantive questions. For example, Becky Quick asked:

“Senator Rubio, you yourself have said that you’ve had issues. You have a lack of bookkeeping skills. You accidentally intermingled campaign money with your personal money. You faced foreclosure on a second home that you bought. And just last year you liquidated a sixty-eight-thousand-dollar retirement fund. That’s something that cost you thousands of dollars in taxes and penalties. In terms of all of that, it raises the question whether you have the maturity and wisdom to lead this seventeen-trillion-dollar economy. What do you say?”

Rubio dodged the question and said, “You just listed a litany of discredited attacks from Democrats and my political opponents. I’m not gonna waste sixty seconds detailing them all.” Then he wasted his 60 seconds by repeating the story about his immigrant parents. Politifact, more kindly to conservatives, pointed out that Rubio had paid his wife and relatives thousands of dollars, double-billed expenses, lost thousands of dollars in fees and penalties by liquidating a retirement fund, “forgot” about a home equity loan, and charged personal items such as grocery bills and car repair to the Republican party. Rubio may have “won” the debate, but only because he appeared sincere and a little wounded while he lies about facing foreclosure on a second house he co-owned with another scandal-plagued politician.

ben carsonAnother question came from moderator Carl Quintanilla about Carson’s connection with “a company called Mannatech, a maker of nutritional supplements, with which you had a 10-year relationship. They offered claims that they could cure autism, cancer, they paid $7 million to settle a deceptive marketing lawsuit in Texas, and yet your involvement continued. Why?” Even conservative National Review described Carson’s denial of involvement as “bald-faced lies.” Videos show Carson talking about how Mannatech’s product helped him fight cancer, even after the cash settlement. His belief in the curative powers of larch-tree bark and aloe vera extract for his prostate cancer gives concern about the doctor’s knowledge of medicine. Carson declared Quintanilla’s question “very unfair.”

Quintanilla’s question about the budget was the one that set Cruz over the edge:

“Congressional Republicans, Democrats and the White House are about to strike a compromise that would raise the debt limit, prevent a government shutdown and calm financial markets that fear another Washington-created crisis is on the way. Does your opposition to it show that you’re not the kind of problem solver American voters want?”

As a master debater, Cruz ignored the question by claiming that the media was focused on style and not substance. He then complained about the “easy” questions addressed at the Democratic debate. By the way, the first question of the Democratic debate, for Hillary Clinton, was “Will you say anything to get elected?”

Fiorina switched her former lying about Planned Parenthood to the claim that “92 percent of the jobs lost during Barack Obama’s first term belonged to women.” The Washington Post factchecker reported that this statement came from falsehoods of the Mitt Romney campaign. Fiorina said that the Washington Post has no credibility and that the poverty rate among women is the highest ever recorded. Asked for supporting data, Fiorina blamed the media for asking questions. CNN reported figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

“In January 2009, there were 66.5 million American women working in non-farm jobs, compared to January 2013 when there were 66.9 million. That’s an increase of over 400,000 working females in Obama’s first term.”

fiorina cruzBoth Fiorina and Cruz used the figure of 3 million women falling into poverty during Barack Obama’s presidency.  According to the Census Bureau, 1.85 million women fell into poverty between 2009 and 2014 1.85 million women fell into poverty. During the same time period, 1.23 million men fell into poverty. The sharply reduced benefits from welfare contribute to part of that fall, which followed a decline starting under George W. Bush. Women lost 1.13 million jobs between January of 2008 and 2009. At this time, unemployment rates for men and women are almost identical—4.7 and 4.7 percent.

The debate was about the economy, and facts—not opinions—show that the economy consistently does better with Democratic presidents than with the GOP. Marketwatch proved that by examining the past seven decades of economic statistics, going back to World War II. Economic growth, adjusted for inflation, averaged 2.54 percent per year under GOP presidents, compared to the 4.35 percent per year under Democratic ones. Better job creation and stock market performance coincide more with Democratic presidents.

The better economy holds true for the current administration despite the growing inequality. In the past five years, the U.S. unemployment rate has been cut in half, and about twelve million new jobs have been created. GDP has grown at a steady, if unspectacular, rate for more than six years. House prices and stock prices rebounded strongly from the Great Recession.

The GOP candidates suffered from their own inadequacies during the debate and solved their problems by claiming that all mainstream media, primarily conservative at this time, was far too liberal to be “fair.” The worst part is that they appear to be controlling the journalistic process. In the last debate, they successfully promoted their lies. Future debates may be total propaganda from the far right. The losers of last week’s debate are 90 percent of the people in the United States if the GOP presidential candidates get their way.

Happy Halloween!

July 15, 2015

June 2, 2015

U.S.: The Nation of Incarceration

Filed under: Incarceration — trp2011 @ 8:58 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

A major reason of the growing poverty in the United States is the nation’s fixation on imprisonment. People in prison cost money and cannot contribute to the economy. The US spends $80 billion on the big business of corrections every year, and one research project shows that the increase in incarceration during the past 35 years increased poverty by 25 percent.  There are 2.2 people in the country’s jails and prisons and another 4.5 million on probation or parole. That’s one of every 35 adults. Bill Quigley has listed reasons for this travesty with background information here.

Imprisonment isn’t about crime: the crime rate has gone up and down with no relationship to the increase in incarceration.

Police discriminate: police have targeted poor people and people of color without cause for decades. In just New York City, police annually stop 500,000 people—80 percent of them Blacks and Latinos—with no indication of any crime. In Chicago, 72 percent of the stops are Black people in a city where they compose only 32 percent.

Police racially profile during traffic stops: Black drivers are 31 percent more likely to be pulled over than White drivers, and Hispanic drivers are 23 percent more likely to be pulled over than White drivers.

Police more likely ticket Black and Hispanic motorists than White drivers for the same offenses.

Police more likely search Blacks and Latinos than Whites after traffic stops.

Governments make money from traffic tickets, usually for poorer people: an example is Ferguson (MO) which gets 40 percent or more of city revenue from traffic tickets.

Poor people suffer more from traffic tickets: more well-off people simply pay the fines, but poor people who cannot afford them lose their driver’s licenses or go to jail. In California, over 4 million people lack these licenses because they have unpaid fines and fees for traffic tickets.

Black and disabled students are much more likely to be referred to the police than other kids: Blacks represent 16 percent of enrolled students but receive 27 percent of police referrals. Students with disabilities have the same problem: although they represent only 14 percent of school enrollment, they receive 26 percent of the police referrals.

Black people make up about 12 percent of the US population, but Black children represent 28 percent of juvenile arrests. 

Black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than Whites although both people of both races use marijuana at the same rate. In some states, Blacks are six times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than Whites. In the two decades between 1980 and 2000, the arrest rate for Blacks went from 6.5 to 29.1 per 1,000 people while the rate for Whites went from 3.4 to 4.6 per 1,000 persons.

The U.S. has much tougher drug laws and much longer sentences for drug offenses than most other countries: drug offenders receive an average sentence of 7 months in France, twelve months in England and 23 months in the US. Crimes in the U.S. would require community service in other countries or not be considered a crime at all.

The poor must remain in jail awaiting trial because they have no funds to pay bail: every day, jails hold 500,000 people who are presumed innocent but are too poor to get bail money.

Jails and prisons are used for job creation: over 3,000 local jails in the U.S. hold 500,000 people awaiting trial every day and another 200,000 convicted on minor charges. During one year, the jails process over 11.7 million people. The state and federal prisons hold about 1.5 million prisoners.

Most people in locals jails are not a threat to the population: almost 75 percent of people are in the jails for nonviolent offenses such as traffic, property, drug, or public order offenses.

Posting financial bonds for release pending trial employs about 15,000 bail bond agents for the industry that collects about $14 billion every year.

The rate of mental illness inside jails is four to six times higher than on the outside: people with severe mental illness are sent to jails although they provide almost no treatment.

Of the almost 70 percent of people in prison who meet the medical criteria for drug abuse or dependence, only 7 to 17 percent ever receive drug abuse treatment inside prison.

Presumed innocent people who are too poor, too mentally ill, or too chemically dependent are kept in jail until their trial dates. 

Poor people have to rely on public defenders, and the vast majority of people with misdemeanor charges never see a lawyer. Thirteen states don’t mandate that people have access to public defenders in misdemeanor courts. Public defenders may also have several hundred cases at one time.

Many poor people plead guilty: a review from the American Bar Association concludes that the U.S. public defender system lacks fundamental fairness and puts poor people at risk of wrongful conviction.

The police force many people, much later exonerated, to plead guilty. 

Most people in prison don’t have trials: over 95 percent of criminal cases are finished by plea bargains. The percentage of trials have shrunk because of higher sentences for those who lose trials and the power given to prosecutors.

Jail makes people worse off:  people who can’t get bail are four times more likely to receive a prison sentence than those with bail. Within the walls of jails and prisons are tens of thousands of rapes and over 4,000 murders each year.

Average prison sentences are much longer than they used to be, especially for people of color: the average time for property crimes has increased 24 percent and the time for drug crimes has gone up 36 percent since 1990.

A Black man without a high school diploma has a 70-percent chance of being imprisoned by his mid-thirties. The rate for White males without this diploma is 53 percent lower, a change since the 8-percent difference in 1980.  In New York City, Blacks are jailed at nearly 12 times the rate of Whites and Latinos more than five times the rate of Whites.

Almost 1 of 12 Black men ages 25 to 54 are in jail or prison, compared to 1 in 60 non-Black men: that is 600,000 Black men, an imprisonment rate of five times that of White men. One out of three young Black males is under the direct supervision of the criminal justice system, either incarcerated, on parole, or on probation.

Prison makes money for private businesses that lobby for greater incarceration: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) owns and runs 67 for-profit jails in 20 states with over 90,000 beds. Along with GEO (formerly Wackenhut), these two private prison companies have donated more than $10 million to candidates and spent another $25 million lobbying them. They have doubled the number of prisoners they hold over the past ten years. Contracts with most private companies require that the prisons stay between 80 and 90 percent full.

Over 159,000 people are serving life sentences in the U.S., a 400-percent increase since 1984: nearly half are Black and 1 in 6 are Latino; almost 250,000 prisoners are over age 50.

Prisoners pay exorbitant costs for telephone calls to their families, sometimes as high as $12.95 for a 15-minute calls.

The  3.9 million people on probation also make money for private companies that contract with governments to supervise them and collect debts. 

As many as 100 million people have a criminal record in the United States, and over 94 million of those records are online: people who have been arrested and convicted face serious problems getting a job, a home, public assistance, and education. More than 60 percent of people formerly incarcerated are unemployed one year after being released. Within three years of release, about two-thirds of state prisons are rearrested. Employment losses for people with criminal records have been estimated at as much as $65 billion every year.

Employers unlikely to check on the criminal history of White male applicants will check Black applicants.

Families are hurt by the prison mill because 180,000 women are subject to lifetime bans from Temporary Assistance to Needy Families after felony drug convictions.

With the highest incarceration rate in the world, the United States is truly “exceptional.” More than half the world’s countries have incarceration rates of lower than 150 (per 100,000) while the U.S. has 764 imprisonments per 100,000 people. A nation with about 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25 percent of its prisoners. The government annually pays an average of $31,286 per inmate—New York pays $60,000.

“Today, a criminal record serves as both a direct cause and consequence of poverty.”—Center for American Progress

March 20, 2015

Krugman Comments on GOP Budget; Cotton Supports Netanyahu

Paul Krugman’s column on the GOP perfidy:

By now it’s a Republican Party tradition: Every year the party produces a budget that allegedly slashes deficits, but which turns out to contain a trillion-dollar “magic asterisk” — a line that promises huge spending cuts and/or revenue increases, but without explaining where the money is supposed to come from.

But the just-released budgets from the House and Senate majorities break new ground. Each contains not one but two trillion-dollar magic asterisks: one on spending, one on revenue. And that’s actually an understatement. If either budget were to become law, it would leave the federal government several trillion dollars deeper in debt than claimed, and that’s just in the first decade.

You might be tempted to shrug this off, since these budgets will not, in fact, become law. Or you might say that this is what all politicians do. But it isn’t. The modern G.O.P.’s raw fiscal dishonesty is something new in American politics. And that’s telling us something important about what has happened to half of our political spectrum.

 

So, about those budgets: both claim drastic reductions in federal spending. Some of those spending reductions are specified: There would be savage cuts in food stamps, similarly savage cuts in Medicaid over and above reversing the recent expansion, and an end to Obamacare’s health insurance subsidies. Rough estimates suggest that either plan would roughly double the number of Americans without health insurance. But both also claim more than a trillion dollars in further cuts to mandatory spending, which would almost surely have to come out of Medicare or Social Security. What form would these further cuts take? We get no hint.

 

Meanwhile, both budgets call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the taxes that pay for the insurance subsidies. That’s $1 trillion of revenue. Yet both claim to have no effect on tax receipts; somehow, the federal government is supposed to make up for the lost Obamacare revenue. How, exactly? We are, again, given no hint.

 

And there’s more: The budgets also claim large reductions in spending on other programs. How would these be achieved? You know the answer.

 

It’s very important to realize that this isn’t normal political behavior. The George W. Bush administration was no slouch when it came to deceptive presentation of tax plans, but it was never this blatant. And the Obama administration has been remarkably scrupulous in its fiscal pronouncements.

 

O.K., I can already hear the snickering, but it’s the simple truth. Remember all the ridicule heaped on the spending projections in the Affordable Care Act? Actual spending is coming in well below expectations, and the Congressional Budget Office has marked its forecast for the next decade down by 20 percent. Remember the jeering when President Obama declared that he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term? Well, a sluggish economy delayed things, but only by a year. The deficit in calendar 2013 was less than half its 2009 level, and it has continued to fall.

 

So, no, outrageous fiscal mendacity is neither historically normal nor bipartisan. It’s a modern Republican thing. And the question we should ask is why.

 

One answer you sometimes hear is that what Republicans really believe is that tax cuts for the rich would generate a huge boom and a surge in revenue, but they’re afraid that the public won’t find such claims credible. So magic asterisks are really stand-ins for their belief in the magic of supply-side economics, a belief that remains intact even though proponents in that doctrine have been wrong about everything for decades.

 

But I’m partial to a more cynical explanation. Think about what these budgets would do if you ignore the mysterious trillions in unspecified spending cuts and revenue enhancements. What you’re left with is huge transfers of income from the poor and the working class, who would see severe benefit cuts, to the rich, who would see big tax cuts. And the simplest way to understand these budgets is surely to suppose that they are intended to do what they would, in fact, actually do: make the rich richer and ordinary families poorer.

 

But this is, of course, not a policy direction the public would support if it were clearly explained. So the budgets must be sold as courageous efforts to eliminate deficits and pay down debt — which means that they must include trillions in imaginary, unexplained savings.

 

Does this mean that all those politicians declaiming about the evils of budget deficits and their determination to end the scourge of debt were never sincere? Yes, it does.

 

Look, I know that it’s hard to keep up the outrage after so many years of fiscal fraudulence. But please try. We’re looking at an enormous, destructive con job, and you should be very, very angry.

 

[Another commentary on Tom Cotton’s perfidy: The senator responsible for leading 47 percent of the Senate to destroy President Obama’s negotiations with Iran to get keep the country from building nuclear weapons is now concerned about the U.S. State Department’s cautious approach toward Netanyahu’s opposition to a two-state solution with Palestine. After the spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters that “we’re currently evaluating our approach,” Cotton came out swinging:

 

“While Prime Minister Netanyahu won a decisive victory, he still has just started assembling a governing majority coalition. These kinds of quotes from Israel’s most important ally could very well startle some of the smaller parties and their leaders with whom Prime Minister Netanyahu is currently in negotiations. This raises the question, of course, if the administration intends to undermine Prime Minister Netanyahu’s efforts to assemble a coalition by suggesting a change to our longstanding policy of supporting Israel’s position with the United Nations.”

 

Cotton, the man who undermined his own president through his letter to Iran and his support of Netanyahu’s coming to lobby for war on Iran is worried about undermining? The senator long ago declared that his letter ‘s purpose was to target international diplomacy, undermine American foreign policy, and disrupt officials during their ongoing negotiations.

In return, Cotton worries that the term “evaluating our approach” will “startle” officials abroad who are “currently in negotiations.” On the Senate floor, Cotton added, “I fear mutual respect is of little concern to this administration. The president and all those senior officials around him should carefully consider the diplomatic and security consequences of their words.” We can only assume that Cotton is trying to match the high level of hypocrisy that Netanyahu has established this past week.]

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