Nel's New Day

March 6, 2020

DDT: Week 163 – Corrupt Purge, ‘Loyalty’

In a Friday afternoon news dump, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) fired Mick Mulvaney as both acting chief of staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney is off to Northern Ireland to be special envoy, a vacant position since 2017. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), super-conservative founder of the Freedom Caucus, becomes DDT’s fourth chief of staff. DDT’s relationship with Mulvaney has been increasingly cool, turning to icy after Mulvaney told a British audience that the U.S. needed immigrants to improve its economy.

Since the GOP thought DDT had learned his lesson in the impeachment trial, he’s increased his purging and loyalty fixations. Earlier this week, he pulled Elaine McCusker’s nomination for Pentagon comptroller because she emailed concerns about budget officials delaying the congressionally-appropriated funding to Ukraine.

In an angry tweet, DDT explained his reason for firing Jeff Sessions as AG after Sessions’ attempt for U.S. senator from Alabama led to a runoff at the end of March:

“This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States & then doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt. Recuses himself on FIRST DAY in office, and the Mueller Scam begins!”

Michael Ellis is DDT’s choice for senior director of intelligence on the National Security Council (NSC) for giving Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) bogus information about President Obama’s wiretaps on DDT during his 2016 campaign. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), later said the claim was “all created by Devin Nunes.” Ellis’ cohort in the scam, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was appointed to national security adviser for United States AG.

DDT’s loyalty test on the application for political requirement asks an explanation of what part of Trump’s campaign message “most appealed” to them and why. In addition, applicants are asked if they have “ever appeared in the media to comment on ‘Candidate Trump, President Trump or other personnel or policies of the Trump administration.’ ” The new questionnaire requires a description of the applicants “political evolution” and a list of “thinkers, authors, books, or political leaders” who have “influenced you and led you to your current beliefs.” It asks, “What political commentator, thinker or politician best reflects your views?” and to list any political campaigns they have “ever worked on or volunteered for” and why. DDT’s name appears five times on the questionnaire.

A federal judge ruled that Ken Cuccinelli’s appointment as acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. If higher courts support the decision, policies made under him are void, including the one permitting asylum-seekers much less time to consult with legal counsel before their initial “credible fear” interview. DDT tried to bypass the law in appointing the right-wing immigration hard-liner by appointing Cuccinelli to a lower office and then elevating him over the “first assistant” in the agency. Cuccinelli failed the requirement of working for the agency in a senior position for at least 90 of 365 days before the vacancy.

Increasingly frustrated by the covid-19 crisis, DDT said that he wants to leave the cruise ship, where at least 21 people have tested positive for the virus, off the California coast so that his numbers of infected people and those dying of the virus will look better. He also called Washington state governor Jay Inslee a “snake” for criticizing DDT’s response to the outbreak. Inslee said DDT should stick to science and tell the truth. DDT also said that the virus could benefit the economy because people would stay in the U.S. instead of traveling out of the country.

While Republicans and DDT denigrate “Democratic socialism,” he gave farmers $28 billion—most of them wealthy—because of his trade war, and the GOP wants to give them more. Now DDT proposes deferring taxes for big businesses hurt by covid-19: cruise, airline, hotel, and other travel industries accounting for 2.9 percent of the economy in 2018. Airlines alone could lose up to $113 billion. In the U.S., DDT could benefit from his hotels in D.C., Chicago, and Las Vegas; the Mar-a-Lago Club; a vineyard in Northern Virginia; and 11 golf courses.

In 2016, DDT ran on not cutting Medicare and Social Security; in 2020, he’s running on cutting these programs. The GOP also has a bill called Lower Costs, More Cures Act. Instead of lowering prices, it allows seniors to pay in monthly installments and tells people what procedures and drugs cost with no reduction in prices. Republicans ignored the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, already passed in the House, that lowers drug and other health prices for everyone.

Mark Zuckerberg has named Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller a factchecker for Facebook; one of the articles banned as “false information” was “Trump rallies his base to treat coronavirus as a ‘hoax.’” The lie is the spin that DDT only referred to Dems’ politicization of covid-19 as a “hoax.” DDT said, “This is their new hoax” and used the speech to minimize covid-19’s threat. The Searle Freedom Trust, funder of organizations of right-wing causes such as climate disinformation, funds FB’s factchecker. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) slammed Facebook, it removed DDT’s campaign ads that asked users to fill out an “Official 2020 Congressional District Census.” The confusing fake ad was intended to reduce census participation.

In its first 2020 weapons test, North Korea has launched two unidentified projectiles from its east coast toward the Sea of Japan.

House Republicans who saw the classified agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lied about its contents. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) tweeted that the documents “do not include in them the things that @SecPompeo said they would.” She commented that the secret documents do not have a verification with the Taliban and contains no renunciation of al-Qaeda.

Four days after the “peace” agreement, the U.S. military attacked the Taliban in a drone strike because of continued Taliban attacks on Afghans. Three days earlier, the Afghan government said it would not release the 5,000 Taliban prisoners as DDT’s agreement promised. The violence between Taliban and the Afghans started two days later, killing five Afghan policemen. Immediately before the airstrike, DDT talked to a Taliban leader who promised DDT he also wanted no violence. DDT said his relationship with the leader as “very good.”

DDT’s claims the rights to his own opinions—no matter how vicious and false—but he’s suing to deny newspapers the right to have opinions about him. He has sued two different newspaper within the last week. The first lawsuit, against the New York Times, objected to an op-ed about DDT possibly colluding with Russia in 2016. His second lawsuit, one against the Washington Post, complained about two opinion pieces from last June warning DDT could encourage election meddling in 2020. Lawyers asserted that the Post knew the material was false and published it to intentionally hurt DDT’s campaign.

At a rally in North Carolina, DDT suggested that Joe Biden is mentally unfit for the presidency and said, “They’re going to put him into a home, and other people are going to be running the country.” At the same rally, he called for the impeachment of Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg because they endorsed Joe Biden. Calling it a quid pro quo, he said, “They made a deal. Impeach them. They should be impeached.” Just a couple of his lesser lying insults.

DDT and the Republicans, positive that DDT could win against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), are now afraid enough of Joe Biden that a Senate committee has reinstated a search into Hunter Biden. After his father, Joe Biden, beat Sanders for most of the 15 Democratic primaries on Super Tuesday, all their competition dropped out except for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who has earned one delegate out of almost 1,500.

DDT told Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that he doesn’t want the surveillance extension, due for reupping by March 15, but AG Bill Barr disagrees, wanting the roving wire taps, lone wolf actors, and call data collection. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also wants the extension to pass; he could be caught between Barr and DDT. Paul, on the other hand, was the only Republican to vote against Barr’s confirmation.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos got a bipartisan protest when she cut funding for rural schools. Her revision for district reporting of students living in poverty caused major cuts for over 800 of the “poorest” and “most geographically isolated” schools. For 20 years, the department has used the percentage of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch; now they must use data from the census for meeting the requirement of 20 percent of students living below the poverty line. The department said that if Congress wants the former guideline, then it needs to pass a law. Southern schools would be hit hardest with eligible schools in Oklahoma dropped by one-half. In Maine, 100 of 149 schools qualifying for the program would lose funding.

DDT went back to hugging the flag again at CPAC.

February 2, 2020

DDT: Week 158 – Beyond Impeachment

For 18 years, the U.S. has been bombing Afghanistan. The increase to 15,000 in the past two years came after former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis changed the rules of engagement so that coalition forces could open fire on the enemy without close contact. The bombings have also spiked the number of civilian deaths—more in the first half of 2019 than insurgents.

More civilians will be killed because of DDT’s decision this past week to allow landmines anywhere and rescind President Obama’s 2014 order to limit these weapons to the Korean Peninsula, a policy closer to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Over 160 nations ratified this treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention. The U.S. is one of 32 UN member states not ratifying the treaty. The majority of 130,000 people killed by landmines between 1999 and 2018 were civilians. Once again, DDT ignored Congress in making this decision. The U.S. has not used landmines since the first Gulf War in 1991. Experts, including U.S. defense officials, say that anti-personnel landmines are not helpful in war.

DDT can also kill more people with his new “low-yield” nuclear warhead, the W76-2, on a submarine patrolling the Atlantic Ocean. With a yield of five kilotons, the warhead has one-third the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima (Japan) in 1945 that instantly killed 80,000 people and tens of thousands of people after that from radiation.

Six more countries have been added to the seven already on the travel ban with the reason that conditions, especially terrorism, should keep citizens from moving to the U.S. The U.S. government, however, sells weapons to five of the six countries, everything from handguns and automatic weapons to light attack aircraft. Nigeria is one country buying millions of dollars in weapons since DDT moved into the Oval Office—weapons frequently lost to Boko Haram. The Arms Sales Risk Index of 0-to-100 has gone from 41 during George W. Bush’s terms to 69 under DDT. In his travel bans, DDT focuses on countries with sizeable Muslim populations, not on those with terrorism. The bans for Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria are only for permanent residency, not for visitors. 

DDT’s win in the Supreme Court this week is a loss for the U.S. economy when conservative justices approved DDT’s proceeding with his public charge rule. His order to deny immigration if an official predicts a person might use specific benefits for 12 months with a future 36-month period reduces legal immigration to the U.S. by hundreds of thousands and drastically reduces the labor force. Economists predict that the U.S. would not have the majority of economic growth between 2011 and 2016 following the recession without the contributions of immigrants. Morgan Stanley’s chief global strategist Ruchir Sharma said, “In the past decade, population growth, including immigration, has accounted for roughly half of the potential economic growth rate in the United States.” The law already prevents immigrants from receiving major federal public benefits during their first five years in the country, but the rule satisfies Stephen Miller’s obsession to block ethnic minorities from the United States. The public charge rule stays in effect while lawsuits work through lower courts.

The State Department has issued new rules to stop “birth tourism” in which wealthy women, many from China and Russia, visit the U.S. to give birth to U.S. citizens who can then sponsor their family members for U.S. visas. As they grow up, these babies can have other advantages such as advantages in scholarships. The scale of births, 33,000 annually, is small and block pregnant women who have legitimate reasons to study or work in the U.S. or come with their spouses. Restrictions would also block pregnant women from visiting families and needed medical treatment. https://www.thedailybeast.com/russians-flock-to-trump-properties-to-give-birth-to-us-citizens  Ironically, DDT has made money off “birth tourism” because pregnant women have rented his Florida condos at huge costs to Russians and paid to go to his nearby International Beach Resort.

Agricultural Department secretary Sonny Perdue, DDT’s appointment, says that farm workers are overpaid because a law requires their wages match the prevailing rate in the farm areas to keep from undermining wages of nearby workers. Perdue’s goals are to increase temporary immigration with no path to citizenship and cut their wages. Although wages for farm workers have slightly increased, they are still less than 40 percent below those of other non-supervisory U.S. workers–$24,620 annual average wage in 2018. A federal survey reported that “farm workers’ mean and median personal incomes the previous year were in the range of $17,500 to $19,999.” Perdue is also championing the removal of 700,000 people from any food assistance by reducing food stamps and pushed the rollback of healthier public school lunches. Over 20 million children need the National School Lunch Program for almost half their daily calories and 40 percent of their vegetable intake.

DDT also has a plan to segregate public housing by using esoteric changes in low-income housing. The change is so clever that 1968 Fair Housing Act violations would be hard to prove. The complex explanation is here

When he signed a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, DDT hoped that his trade deals would overcome the bad publicity from his impeachment trial. Despite signing “phase one” of his China deal, he failed. Since his 25 percent tariff on foreign steel and the 10 percent tariff on aluminum, the imports of these products have declined while products made from these metals “significantly increased.” His solution is to expand tariffs on products made of steel and aluminum on February 8 with the hopes that the flailing manufacturing in the U.S. will recover. Every time his tariffs fail, he raises them somewhere else.

Emails show that DDT’s appointees are making money for big business logging in forests through claims that climate pollution comes from California wildfires instead of fossil fuels. James Reilly, director of the U.S. Geological Survey, wrote scientists, asking them to “gin up” emissions figures and give him ones for a “decent sound bite” and make “a good story.” Scientists said that at the best, Reilly cherry picked data and at worst exploited a disaster by manipulating data. Numbers from the interior department significantly overestimate greenhouse gases from the fires, and logging wouldn’t prevent or lessen wildfires. Instead logging could stop the ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide.  

DDT announced that he plans more and higher tariffs on European products after while people already complain about increases in wine from earlier tariffs. At the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland) DDT insisted on talking to leaders about his trade “deals” although the conference was about climate change and cooperation. Gone is the 70-year connection between the United States and Europe to promote democracy and capitalism; DDT is now creating conflicts about climate change, trade, taxation, privacy, Iran, and defense funding as he threatens European leaders with tariffs. He’s using the same shakedown tactics with Europe that he does with China.

The UN determined that an internet account belonging to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman collected a huge amount of data from the cell phone of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos after he was sent an infected video. The 2018 hack occurred before MBS’ torture and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Kamal Khashoggi but after Bezos’ newspaper ran an article critical about MBS’ regime and its “new ways of repression.” The video sent to Bezos, purported to be a promo on Saudi’s economic success, contained malicious code.

The release of information about the hacking came just before the showing of The Dissident, a Sundance documentary about Saudi Arabia and the killing of Khashoggi. The movie ends with a critique of U.S. companies still working with Saudi Arabia, empowering Khashoggi murderer. 

AG Bill Barr has sworn in the 18 members of DDT’s commission on policing to study how to “make American law enforcement the most trusted and effective guardians of our communities.” Like DDT’s “voter suppression” commission almost three years ago, the commission skews toward highly conservative goals, this time expanding police forces, modernizing training, and countering criticism and “reform.” Seventeen of the 18 members belong to law enforcement or are prosecutors and judges. The 18th one has a background in police enforcement. Almost all the members are white males. From largely small and southern departments, they represent philosophies of criminalizing small crimes, using tasers, attacking protesters, opposing marijuana legislation, using false forensic science, fighting voting rights of people convicted of nonviolent felonies, battling police oversight boards, and covering up killings by police officers—in short, Barr’s ideology of authoritarianism. These “social ills” will be the commission’s focus. Barr said:

“The group should specifically evaluate how under-enforcement of the criminal law in certain jurisdictions affects public safety; perception of law enforcement and the laws they enforce; police resources and morale; and rule of law.”

Facebook came closer to merging with the Fox network when it hired Jennifer Williams, former developer of DDT’s favorite program Fox & Friends, to build the FB “news video component.” Williams has pushed such conspiracy theories as President Obama being educated at a “madrassa,” Ebola concerns, and the familiar—and non-existent—war on Christmas. Before he hired Williams, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the news would be curated by humans instead of algorithms. He has enabled right-wing propaganda and filled key positions with GOP operatives. Perhaps a new name for FB such as “FakeBook.”

 

 

December 21, 2019

DDT: Week 152 – Dems Busy beyond Impeachment with GOP Obstruction

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) used tweets on Friday to attack the conservative evangelical publication Christianity Today founded by Billy Graham because it advocated his impeachment. Adding to his 15,000+ lies in less than three years, he called the publication “a far left magazine, or very ‘progressive,’ … which has been doing poorly and … knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call….” He also tweeted, “I won’t be reading ET [sic] again!” Graham’s son Franklin Graham criticized CT’s position but said he had not read the editorial about impeaching DDT. Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of the piece, retired on January 3 after 30 years involved with the magazine. 

DDT continued to threatened $250 million funding for Ukraine by blocking a $1.4 trillion spending package funding the federal government through the end of September 2020 if it contained the provision that he must release funds for the U.S. ally within 45 days. Democrats gave in to his demands to keep the U.S. from a shutdown by withdrawing the deadline for the funding release. The bill also lost a mandate that letters authorizing the release of congressional funding must be made public. In the $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), DDT got his “space force,” and government employees got 12 weeks paid parental leave

The bills also raised the federal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 and a 3.1% pay increase for the troops and civilian federal employees. DDT got $1.375 billion for his wall, partly repair and less than the $8 billion he wanted. Defense spending increased by $22 billion. Elimination of three taxes to pay for the Affordable Care Act adds $373 billion to the deficit over the next decade. Forty-seven Republicans, once the party of fiscal prudence, voted for the budget that leads to more deficits. The GOP tax 2017 tax law already reduced U.S. tax revenue which fell 2.5 percent of tax-to-GDP in 2018, the most of any country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

Republicans managed to keep violent white supremacists in the military by blocking an amendment while non-violent transgender recruits are banned.

DDT’s signatures on the bills avoids a government shutdown days before the first anniversary of the last one, a rancorous event that lasted 35 days and cost the U.S. economy $11 billion.

With a vote of 385 to 41, the House passed another major bill this week, the trade deal with Mexico and Canada called NAFTA Lite. The bill looks very different from DDT’s original draft; even the AFL-CIO approves. Gone are the pharmaceutical protections for drug companies, and appearing are higher labor standards in Mexico, faster dispute resolution, higher environmental standards, and stronger enforcement of the deal. Mexico almost backed out with the requirement of five people from the U.S. to supervise its labor arrangements. While not perfect, the new trade agreement is considered better than the original NAFTA, passed 23 years ago.

These major accomplishments negate DDT’s and Republicans’ assertion that the impeachment inquiry kept the House from addressing any other issues. DDT called the opposing party “the Do-Nothing Democrats,” but “do-nothing” better fits Republicans. The House’s hard work is visualized in this photo of 275 House bills DOA (Dead on Arrival) in the Senate because (Do-Nothing) Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses to acknowledge them. 

Facebook removed over 600 accounts connected to the pro-DDT conspiracy website The Epoch Times for using artificial-intelligence identities to push fake stories about topics including impeachment and elections. The network, “The BL,” was operated by Vietnamese users pretending to be Americans and using fake photos created by algorithms to fake real identities. In pushing the pro-DDT conspiracy theories, The Epoch Media group spent $9.5 million on ads to spread content on the pages and groups that FB suspended. DDT’s official FB page posts their stories. A U.S.-based media company, The Epoch Media group, has now joined foreign governments to use foreign people posing as U.S. people to push pro-DDT content to its 55 million followers. Publisher of the U.S. editions of The Epoch Times, Stephen Gregory, claimed that it has no connection to BL because it’s part of Epoch Times Vietnam and that their former employees creating and working for BL doesn’t show any connection with its 89 pages, 156 groups, and 72 Instagram accounts.  The largest buyer of pro-Trump ads on Facebook until August, The Epoch Times was banned from buying FB ads after the company consistently violated FB’s political advertising rules.

One of the many lies in DDT’s Wednesday Michigan rally went viral, and Republicans, including DDT’s sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), demanded that DDT apologize. In response to Rep. Debbie Dingell’s (D-MI) vote for impeachment, DDT said that her husband, a World War II veteran and former member of Congress, had gone to Hell. DDT also falsely claimed that Rep. Dingell had called him after her husband’s service to praise DDT when he called her. Pelosi said that DDT “misunderstands … that cruelty is not wit.”

The Dingell attack is part of DDT’s five ruling hallmarks:

Governing as perpetual warfare: us against them to inflame base and create deep divisions.

Governing by exhaustion: a war losing participants from boredom.

Governing by grievance and hyperbole: victimhood and martyrdom from declaring the BIGGEST or BEST or WORST as shown by the comparison of his impeachment to the Salem witch trials and the crucifixion of Jesus.

Governing by defiance: no matter the evidence, DDT also claiming that he’s never wrong.

Governing with “alternative facts”: over 15,000 lies in less than three years along with stories with no identification of people or changing names of characters. (Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) supports this position by telling Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), “We’ve beat the facts back all the time.”)

In exhaustion, the fifth top official at the Pentagon resigned within the past week from these positions: international cooperation in weapons systems, Asia policy, personnel and readiness, advanced research, and intelligence. Acting chief-of-staff Mick Mulvaney is expected to depart following the impeachment trial after being ignored in personnel, policy, and impeachment decisions. Rumor suggests his replacement is founder of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who said he won’t run for re-election and may work for DDT, something that he’s done for the past three years.

More exhaustion at DDT’s Michigan rally appeared when his “four more years” chant died in fewer than ten seconds. At the rally, DDT also claimed, “The steel is back”: Two days later, US Steel laid off 1,545 workers in closing its Great Lakes Works mill near Detroit.  In October, 376 Louisiana steel workers lost their jobs when Bayou Steel shut down its mill in LaPlace.

Senate Republicans keeps allowing Russia to interfere in U.S. elections while DDT’s administration fights to protect Russia from sanctions, but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who usually walks in lockstep with DDT, introduced legislation to punish Russian people and companies for its interference in the 2016 election and its targeting of Ukraine, Syria, and dissidents for attacks. Sanctions were partly because of Russia’s capture of Ukrainian sailors and ships. DDT’s State Department sent a 22-page letter to Graham in opposition to his bill. It passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday with opposition from five of the 12 Republicans. McConnell can block the bill from going to the Senate floor.

After DDT met with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, in the Oval Office during the impeachment inquiry, Vladimir Putin-approved state TV confirmed that DDT is a Russian agent in a segment called “Puppet Master and ‘Agent’—How to Understand Lavrov’s Meeting with Trump.” And DDT isn’t the “puppet master” as this photo, requested by DDT, shows in Lavrov standing as the power behind the throne. 

Russia does expect DDT to “face a very unhappy period” after he leaves the White House. A joke was whether Russians should “get another apartment in Rostov ready.” Former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych settled in Rostov-on-Don when he fled to Russia in 2014. Valery Korovin, director of the Center for Geopolitical Expertise, said, “There are no disagreements or contradictions between Trump and Russia.” Putin-supporter and law professor Mikhail Antonov said, “Putin has expressed undisguised delight with the crusade led by Trump and Giuliani to whitewash Moscow’s interference in the U.S. elections” and pin the blame on Ukraine.

Former White House officials say that DDT passes Russia propaganda such as the false theory about Ukrainian hacking supporting Clinton because Putin told him to do it.

A federal judge allowed the lawsuit against DDT and his administration alleging violation of federal records law after DDT confiscated and destroyed his meeting notes with Putin. No detailed records of DDT’s and Putin’s communication in their multiple meetings exist.

The White House is catching crazy from DDT’s conspiracy theories: reporter Brian Karem said it’s claiming that Hillary deliberately lost the election by getting help from Russian hacking so that DDT could be impeached. Although the logic sounds wacko, that is the culture of DDT’s administration. DDT also claimed that Democrats started trying to impeach him before he declared candidacy.

After DDT pardoned military war criminals, his approval rating with service members dropped—42 percent approval. Half of them gave DDT an unfavorable rating.

July 2, 2019

Federal Appointment Replacements Worse for Democracy

Former Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has left the White House for Arkansas after holding fewer briefings than during any of the previous five presidents’ terms—probably an average of one every other month. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told her last January not to bother to meet with press conferences. New Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, will do the job of not meeting with the press while staying on as spokesperson for Melanie Trump and becoming Communications Director, formerly Bill Shine.

Grisham cut her chops at the Korean DMZ Freedom House in an episode called “an all out brawl” with “body blows” as she elbowed and pushed a North Korean security guard. Her elegant diplomacy matches that of her employer when DDT pushed aside Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic at the 2017 NATO summit. 

Lying is another of DDT’s characteristic that Grisham emulates. She claimed that Melania Trump’s jacket stating “I really don’t care. Do U?” was just a jacket with no meaning before the First Lady said that it was “a message.” Trump said she wore it “for the people and for the left-wing media who are criticizing me. And I want to show them that I don’t care.” In July 2018, Grisham supported DDT’s false claim that he arrived in the UK on June 23, 2016, the day of the Brexit referendum, where he predicted the vote outcome. DDT wasn’t there until the next day. In his report, Robert Mueller documented Grisham’s serial lying.

Grisham has a strong anti-press background. As spokeswoman for the Arizona House of Representatives GOP, she implemented the policy banning reporters from the legislative floor if they “would not consent to extensive background checks.” The policy focused on Arizona reporter Hank Stephenson after he provided evidence that House Speaker David Gowan used state-owned vehicles for his congressional campaign and forced Gowan to return over $12,000 to the state. Misdemeanor trespassing was one reason for barring reporters because Stephenson pled guilty to the charge in 2014. Her policy lasted only a few days because some Republicans expressed concern and no member of the Phoenix press corps would sign the form. While a member of DDT’s transition team, Grisham did no work for Arizona but stayed on the state’s payroll.

In September 2018, Grisham was reprimanded for violating the Hatch Act that prevents White House employees from party-political activities. DDT promoted her with a raise in salary. 

In the EPA, one fossil fuel industry shill was traded for another. Bill Wehrum, formerly a lobbyist trying to destroy President Obama’s safeguards on polluters, could more easily do the job when he oversaw fossil fuel pollution regulations. Wehrum was confirmed with no Democratic votes to focus on “climate change, smog, and power plants’ mercury pollution.” Like his corrupt predecessor Scott Pruitt, Wehrum resigned after 19 months in the midst of a congressional investigation into his improperly helping his former industry clients after the media shined a light on his inappropriate activities. He slowed fuel-efficiency requirements for cars and trucks as well as rewriting methods of calculating costs and benefits to favor fossil fuel requirements. He also wrote the way that more coal-fired power plants could open.

Wehrun’s lack of ethics followed those of other Cabinet members who resigned—EPA’s Schott Pruitt, HHS’ Tom Price, Interior’s Ryan Zinke, and VA’s Davi Shulkin—and FEMA’s William “Brock” Long.” Other current ethics investigations include Interior’s new Secretary David Bernhardt plus six current or former top appointees for behavior like that of Wehrum.

Although at least one climate activist literally danced after Wehrum’s departure, the replacement has not brought joy. Anne Idsal, Wehrum’s deputy assistant, will continue EPA’s destruction and fall in line with DDT’s deregulation. She belongs to the dark ages belief that “climate has been changing since the dawn of time” and has strong ties to the Bush-Cheney administration. Her family owns the ranch where VP Dick Cheney shot a friend in the face while hunting ring-necked pheasants. Her connections extend to George P. Bush, George W. Bush’s nephew, who cleared out 11 top staffers of the General Land Office after he was elected in 2014 to manage Texas’ oil and gas resources. Idsal was one of 29 people hired for Bush’s Land Office without the jobs being posted, and she has ties to industry associations and Exxon Mobil.

Having lost with Herman Cain and Stephen Moore, DDT plans to appoint Christopher Waller and Judy Shelton for the two empty Federal Board seats. Both conservatives want to lower interest rates, and DDT’s close friend and Fed-hater Shelton wants to return to the gold standard, abandoned by Richard Nixon almost 50 years ago.

With White House aide and neo-Nazi Stephen Miller in charge of DHS, chaos continues to reign in the department, designed to protect U.S. security, supports DDT’s politics. Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders for two months leaves after publicity of squalid living conditions for children at border stations that provide no child care, bedding, and hygiene items while submitting the children to sleep deprivation. Yet Sanders was fired because he wasn’t aggressive enough in blocking asylum seekers. In the past three months, DHS has also done away with its secretary (Kirstjen Nielsen), acting ICE chief (Ron Vitiello), acting deputy secretary (Claire Grady), and Citizenship and Immigration Services director (Lee Cissna). The House Oversight and Reform Committee ordered testimony on July 12 from DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan and acting Customs and Border Protection Commission Mark Morgan about the deplorable conditions for children held at the southern border. 

Hardliner Morgan, who claims that he can predict future gang members by looking into the eyes of children, left ICE after five weeks to replace Sanders. While head of ICE, Morgan pushed for raids to deport undocumented families. Earlier, McAleenan had opposed Miller’s directive to appoint Morgan head of Customs and Border Protection but caved under pressure. When Morgan disagreed with his boss, McAleenan, he circumvented him by going directly to DDT. Matthew Albence, ICE’s deputy director who was noted for saying that family detention centers are “more like a summer camp,” is now acting director of the agency. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/hamedaleaziz/ice-director-matthew-albence-trump-immigration-enforcement

DDT loves officials to be “acting.” Dana Milbank explains: 

“Without stature or protection of Senate confirmation [for officials] … allows Trump to demand absolute subservience from appointees. Because he can replace them at will, they don’t contradict him. But this tentative status also means they lack authority within their agencies and the stature to stand up to Trump when he’s wrong.”

An ”acting” official leads every major border- and immigration-related agency in DHS. DDT said, “I do burn out on people, I do.” McAleenan may be close to DDT’s burnout because of his more reasonable approach toward enforcing immigration, for example opposition to mass ICE raids rounding up migrant families, although he supported DDT’s separation of families.

DDT prefers Ken Cuccinelli, former Virginia AG who lost his run for governor, as acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services with his record of climate crisis denial, anti-LGBT discrimination, opposition to women’s reproductive rights, censorship for safe sex information, obstruction to the Catholic Church’s care for vulnerable populations, blocks to all gun violence reduction efforts, and anti-immigration. Cuccinelli matches Miller in lack of human decency, for example blaming the man who died with his toddler daughter in the Rio Grande River because he wouldn’t wait for the asylum process. After waiting two months in Mexico for asylum, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez became desperate because of the punitive months-long waiting period.

The union representing federal works with asylum seekers criticizes DDT’s policies, specifically the one returning migrants seeking refuge to Mexico until decisions are made on their applications. In a court filing, the union wrote:

“By forcing a vulnerable population to return to a hostile territory where they are likely to face persecution, the [Migrant Protection Protocols] abandons our tradition of providing a safe haven to the persecuted and violates our international and domestic legal obligations.”

Less compassionate are the 9,500 current and former members of the Border Patrol who joke about the deaths of migrants on a secret Facebook group and share derogatory comments about Latinx lawmakers visiting a detention facility. Calling them “scum buckets” and “hoes,” agents joke about throwing burritos at them and posted a drawing of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) having oral sex with a detained migrant. Revelations about these agents, including at least one supervisor, follow an investigation into the hundreds of active-duty and retired law enforcement officers connected to extremist Facebook sources, including white supremacist and anti-government groups. House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) requested information from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the Border Patrol agents secret Facebook group with vulgar sexist and racist content mocking immigrants and congressional members.

After Ocasio-Cortez left one of the facilities, she said that she did not feel safe from the officers. Border Patrol Chief of Operations Brian Hastings said, “Agents are under a great deal of stress.” After the Border Patrol agents’ Facebook group asked for protesters to come abuse legislators, Ocasio-Cortez needed an escort back to her vehicle. Border agents feel comfortable threatening everyone, including elected members of Congress. 

Welcome to the United States of America under DDT. 

March 13, 2019

Facebook Controlled by U.S. Government

Everything on Sue Hardesty’s Facebook page disappeared today, and she couldn’t post anything. Gone were all her writings and photos about marine life, dredging, a trip along the Oregon Coast, and much more. Disclaimer: I have never liked Facebook from its founding for misogynic cruelty through its formation via fraud and theft to the peak of aiding the election of a U.S. president. Now the ultra-wealthy Mark Zuckerberg, worth over $65 billion, has plans to take over the world by controlling everything that you do online—messaging, commerce, payments, etc. FB has destroyed self-esteem with the concept of “defriending” and eliminating privacy, especially for young people. Some people think it’s a nice way to make friends and keep in touch, but Facebook has a much darker side. Hardesty’s FB page may be back—temporarily—but my research shows how Zuckerberg’s company is controlling what you read.

Recently FB removed advertising information from Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren about breaking up Amazon, Google, and Facebook giants to unwind “anti-competitive” tech mergers, including Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram. Her ads read:

“Three companies have vast power over our economy and our democracy. Facebook, Amazon, and Google. We all use them. But in their rise to power, they’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field in their favor.”

The message on the ads read: “This ad was taken down because it goes against Facebook’s advertising policies.” FB claimed that it took down the ads because it used their “corporate logo” but returned them after public protest. Warren responded:

“Curious why I think FB has too much power? Let’s start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether FB has too much power. Thanks for restoring my posts. But I want a social media marketplace that isn’t dominated by a single censor.”

FB keeps material supporting Israel—including a page from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—while removing pages about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with “a strong bias in favor of Palestine.” In 2016, the Israeli Justice Ministry in 2016 bragged that FB removed 95 percent of content according to their requests and proposed a bill to allow government to remove content from the internet based on its preferences. Israel’s National Cyber Directorate announced that FB removed “thousands” of accounts ahead of municipal elections. The same thing could happen in the U.S.

Gone is the Hebrew @Polcartoons. Zuckerberg has partnered with the Atlantic Council Digital Forensic Lab (DFRLab) to decide what should be removed, and it claimed “curated cartoons from various Israeli news outlets that lampooned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and conservative Israeli political sentiment.” DFRLab told FB to remove @StopMEK for promoting views against the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK, an Iranian group opposed to the country’s clerical leader because it was “the largest and most active political opposition group against the Islamic Republic of Iran leadership.” Yet the FB of the Majlis, a coalition critical of President Hassan Rouhani much larger than the MEK, has 2.1 million followers, far more than the tiny MEK.

Atlantic Council, FB’s new partner to vet its content, has been described as a neoconservative “think tank,” directly funded and composed of groups connected to big pharma, the military complex, and government. Contributors include the United Arab Emirates, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and multinational giants like energy titan such as Exxon-Mobil and Chevron, weapon-makers Raytheon, and banks such as JPMorgan Chase. Many foreign countries supporting Atlantic Council lack a strong belief in human fights and press freedoms. FB gave Atlantic Council almost $1 million. Now, Atlantic dictates who is permitted on FB and who is “removed,” and the federal funding takes away FB as a “private” company classification.

Immediately before midterm elections, FB purged years of hard work and six million followers for The Free Thought Project (TFTP) that now follows the government involvement in FB. Under the leadership of Nathaniel Gleicher, FB removed another 800 “pages” with missions of “anti-corruption” or “protest” movements at the same time, many of them antiwar and pro-peace—immediately before last fall’s midterm elections. FB claimed that they were spam. Top adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jamie Fly, took credit for the massive purge of antiwar pages.

Matt Taibbi, a highly respected investigative journalist, reported on the FB purges in December. He began his piece on James Reader, San Diego resident whose pro-Democratic site, Reverb, was judged “high for factual reporting, as all news is sourced to credible media outlets.” With 30 contributing writers, four full-time editors, and an IT specialist, the site reached 13 million people a week on FB and social media. He paid $2,000 to $6,000 a month to FB and followed their suggestions to grow the page. Starting in 2016, Reader’s articles went to right-wing FB groups with negative comments and reports to FB that his stories were spam. Traffic dropped, sales declined, and his investments in FB’s boosting tools weren’t successful. He couldn’t find a human at FB so that he could address these problems. On October 11, 2018, Reverb was taken offline, as an example of “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” That day saw the first of two purges with no leading announcement. Twitter accounts also disappeared. All on the same day. Reader was never told why his site wasn’t published. Also gone were his Everlasting TOP Stoppers blog and his America Against Trump with 225,000 followers. He said, “Everything I’d worked for all these years was dead.”

Liberal America from Tiffany Willis Clark was removed on November 2, 2018. With 750,000 followers, the site is about “raising conscious kids who are aware of the suffering of others.” The most political she got was the list “87 Things Only Poor Kids Know and Conservatives Couldn’t Care Less About” including “We go to the doctor when we’re sick, but mom doesn’t.” She put her life savings into boosting readership on a platform that “seems to be redefining its mission minute to minute.”

By claiming to be a “private” company” FB can censor at will, but its connection with official or quasi-official groups creates a problem with “soft censorship,” according to Eric Goldman of the Santa Clara University School of Law. “We’re seeing removal of content that isn’t illegal but the government doesn’t like. It’s a backdoor form of censorship.”

When U.S. senators met with representatives of FB, Google, and Twitter, they supposedly answer outrage about the Russian” fake news” that had been influential for the 2016 presidential election. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) expressed concern about content “intended to worsen racial tensions” with stories about law enforcement abusing blacks. Google revised its search tools that resulted in deep drops for reputable alternative progressive news sources such as Common Dreams and Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now as they almost disappeared from the search sources. Traffic for a dozen anti-war, progressive-leaning sites dropped 67 percent, and Alternet went down 63 percent.

A major critic of FB, The Free Thought Project has suffered under fact-checking, but two of its four “false” ratings were later overturned. Yet the FB page was eliminated with no explanation. The methodology for removing pages is opaque. Many removals come from user complaints, another method of information suppression. As Taibbi wrote:

“We’ve empowered a small cadre of ex-spooks, tech executives, Senate advisers, autocratic foreign donors and mainstream-media panels to create an unaccountable system of star-chamber content reviews—which unsurprisingly seem so far to have mostly targeted their harshest critics.”

In the past day, FB apologized for banning content from Zero Hedge, a conservative anti-finance website that predicted the 2008 recession. Complaints have also come about censorship of cannabis content. FB blocks anything about sale or use of the product despite its legality in Canada and many states in the U.S.

After the “paranoia” about being removed from FB with no notice, people finally discovered—with no notice—that FB has been down for much of the day in both Americas and Europe. Nobody knows why, but it bodes ill for using FB for more than social media.

Hardesty has saved much of her beautiful FB posts, some of them in hard copy. Losing the record of her “friends,” many of them school classmates and other writers, would have been sad, but she could recreate some of the material on a new page. On the other hand, my eighth anniversary of writing posts for this blog is April 30, 2019. Publishing almost 400,000 words a year on Nels New Day, I have about 3 million words—far too many to copy. I sometimes use past posts for historical reference and illustrations that have been removed from the internet for political purposes. People like James Reader and Tiffany Willis Clark lost not only years of work but also hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We are all at risk; our history is being “removed.” I’ll subscribe to the saying, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get you.” The loss of FB for a day or two may not be a problem to most people, but it should have been a wake-up call about what would happen if FB decided to take you off its social media.

February 2, 2019

How Facebook Damages Our Future

Love it or hate it, Facebook is ubiquitous around the world—making Mark Zuckerberg a multi-billionaire and helping elect Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to the highest office in the United States. On Monday, February 4, it celebrates its 15th anniversary. With over 2.2 billion active users, Facebook has devastated people through the ability to “defriend” others and been the cause of millions of cyberattacks, especially among teenagers. A prevalence of violence, hate speech, and fake news has caused concerned people to look for solutions, but no one, not even creator Zuckerberg, knows how to counteract the negative aspects of Facebook.

Zuckerberg’s early use of social media was well known when he attended Harvard University, according to a piece by Claire Hoffman published ten years ago in Rolling Stone. In 2002, sophomore Zuckerberg got drunk after his girlfriend dumped him and hacked into the university websites. He downloaded female classmates’ photographs and put them next to ones of farm animals for people to rate which ones were more desirable. Pleased with himself, he blogged the process along the way. More than 450 people signed up before Harvard tracked the source and shut off Zuckerberg’s web access. In a hearing, he was accused of violating student privacy and downloading school property without permission. The praise he gained from his peers taught him a lesson that he recorded in a deposition:

“People are more voyeuristic than what I would have thought.”

After Zuckerberg launched Facebook, three classmates sued him, arguing that he stole their invention of a social-networking site after they hired him to code their creation. Zuckerberg liked the idea but dragged his heels in completing his agreement, finally telling them that they should get another programmer. He claimed that he probably didn’t start his own Facebook until after that, but he used his classmates prototype for Facebook. Zuckerberg also failed to tell his former employers that he officially registered the original Facebook site with his web provider before he told the three employers that he couldn’t finish the project. A fourth classmate said that he had already invented an online facebook. On his launch of his Facebook on February 4, 2004, he described himself as “Founder, Master and Commander [and] Enemy of the State.”

In Silicon Valley, Zuckerberg continued to take advantage of people. Former suite-mate Eduardo Saverin gave him $20,000 as a co-investor in Facebook but stayed in New York while Zuckerberg played and worked in Palo Alto. When they had a falling out, Zuckerberg sued Saverin, claiming that he froze Facebook’s bank accounts. Saverin sued, claiming that Zuckerberg never matched his $20,000 and that he used Saverin’s money for personal expenses. Zuckerberg transferred all intellectual-property rights and membership interests to a new version of the company in Delaware, unhinged Saverin’s stock from any further Facebook growth, and fired Saverin as an employee. Then, as now, Zuckerberg let no one stand in his way.

In 2007, Zuckerberg did lose one round—with his users. He sold advertisers Beacon, a program allowing them to put information about users’ purchasers on their Facebook identity. The ensuing revolt made him back off. At the same time, those close to him started to leave him. Lawyers accused Zuckerberg of hiding the code to create Facebook, and key data was missing when the hard drives were final found.

In 2015, a DDT-supporting data company, Cambridge Analytica, took personal data from tens of millions of Facebook profiles without their consent to collect voting patterns, supposedly at the request of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and for support of DDT during the 2016 presidential campaigns. Once again, Zuckerberg apologized for the “leak” that occurred when Facebook allowed a Cambridge University researcher to persuade users to share both their own and their friends’ user data. He said that Facebook stopped letting app creators access data about “friends” without their authorization, but the damage was done, damage that wasn’t discovered until after the 2016 election.

As users burgeoned, Zuckerberg used his “social media” to promote conspiracy theories and pass along misinformation, some of which greatly influenced voters. A Russian company bought Facebook ads for the 2016 presidential election. Zuckerberg enabled hate groups to proselytize, for example his selling ads targeting Facebook users self-identified as “Jew Haters.” Zuckerberg excused himself by claiming that users are self-reporting the data, seemingly ignoring his claim that his algorithms can detect and eliminate hate speech.

In one example of dangerous conspiracies promoted on Facebook, “Pizzagate” made up a story before the 2016 election that Hillary Clinton was running a child trafficking operation out of a Washington, D.C. pizza place. One believer showed up at the restaurant, waving a gun and demanding the children. The ridiculous and thoroughly debunked claim recently reemerged with an act of arson in the restaurant. Facebook’s mechanisms can radicalize users to support these conspiracy groups. Like gravitates to like, as Renée DiResta, a researcher of disinformation online, explains:

“Facebook’s recommendation engine says, ‘If you like pseudoscience, I’ll show you chemtrails and flat earth.’ Because of the increase of ominous conspiracies, you’re seeing groups around these conspiracy theories like QAnon or pizzagate being referred to people who would never search for them in the first place.”

Facebook’s “Suggested Groups” includes “Pizzagate Reports,” with this vivid photo-shopped image. From there, people are encouraged to move to groups such as “Real UFO Sightings & Strange Phenomenon,” “Official Flat Earth & Globe Discussion,” and “Q Angels.” While condemning misinformation and “fake news,” Zuckerman defends these groups, as well as Infowars, on his powerful social media. He said he would not ban Infowars although it shares “conspiracy theories or false news” and said that “there are things that different people get wrong—I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.” He plans to leave up offensive or deliberately inaccurate posts but downgrade them so that algorithms show them to fewer people. Although Zuckerberg claims that he’ll take down misinformation that incites violence, Pizzagate is still up, and the restaurant is still being threatened with posts on Facebook bragging about frightening the owner to readers’ praise.

Last year, investigators discovered that Facebook uses “ethnic affinity” (aka race) that then permitted advertisers to target or exclude users based on this category. This Facebook characteristic allowed advertisers to deny opportunities for housing and employment. Zuckerberg claimed that he couldn’t see the impact of this category, and backlash caused Facebook to stop using this category—supposedly. Facebook’s abetting racism is profitable because every user is a possible source of revenue for the corporation. The more users, the more ads, and the more user insight to generate money for Facebook.

As Zuckerberg promises to fix one Facebook scam, he creates another. Facebook is secretly paying people to install a “Facebook Research” VPN allowing the company to obtain all the user’s phone and web activity, like Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June. That one was removed in August. The new Facebook approach may violate Apple policy because the social network can decrypt and analyze the users’ phone activity. Since 2016, Facebook paid users ages 13 to 35 up to $20 per month and more in referral fees to install this iOS or Android app. To hide its involvement with “Facebook Research,” Facebook documented the app as “Project Atlas” and administers the program through beta testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest. Instagram and Snapchat ads for VPN run by uTest targeted teens 13-17 years old for a “paid social media research study” and promise compensation.

Apple blocked the app the day before Facebook promised to voluntarily pull it from Apple but continue to run the Android version. Collected data includes private messages in social media apps, chats from in instant messaging apps, photos/videos sent to others, emails, web searches, web browsing activity, and ongoing location information from tracking apps. It works whether users’ screens and the VPN are on or off. Facebook claimed that the program is to learn how people use their phones and other services. The spokesperson said, “We don’t share this information with anyone.”

Zuckerberg plans to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, originally independent companies. The result may be more privacy issues because WhatsApp currently doesn’t require a person’s identity, just a telephone number. It also doesn’t store messages and keeps minimal user data. Disturbed by the change, employees at all these companies are leaving. Facebook will also have additional problems in finding and stopping illicit activity and disinformation. WhatsApp blocked disinformation before the Brazilian presidential election by limiting the number of times a message could be forwarded.

In the past, I’ve worried about negative effects of Facebook usage, especially on teens. Studies show problems with self-esteem, feelings of envy, dissatisfaction, narcissism, antisocial behavior, and aggressiveness. Those concerns have moved to fears about radicalization of the far-right and control of elected officials. And Zuckerman just keeps apologizing and raking in the billions with new scams.

March 19, 2018

Data Mining Elected DDT, ‘Corrected’ the Stock Market

Stock markets have been drastically dropping during the past six weeks although sometimes crawling upward only to drop again. Today, the closing Dow Jones as over 2,000 points below February 5 with “corrections by Facebook and tech investments. While investors try to guess why stocks lose ground, today’s loss in Facebook—as much as seven percent at times—was clearly from the problems in a company working to control the win of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the presidential election.

With the help of Russian oligarchs and officials, multi-billionaire Robert Mercer bought the presidency for DDT, and Mercer’s political-data firm Cambridge Analytica was instrumental in this success by targeting people’s emotional needs with information from social media. Last Friday night at the same time that AG Jeff Sessions fired Andrew McCabe, Facebook admitted that Cambridge lied about deleting Facebook user data obtained from Facebook in violation of the social network’s policies.

A detailed Facebook post stated that Russian-American psychology professor, Aleksandr Kogan, obtained 50 million Facebook users’ information in 2014 with his app “thisisyourdigitallife.” Kogan collected data from people and their friends who took that quiz. Only 270,000 people took the quiz, but Kogan gathered data on another 50 million people from network connections. He promised that the data was exclusively for research purposes and then sent the data to Cambridge Analytica for political purposes. The company funded his app for $800,000, and the Russian government also paid Kogan for his research into the psychology of specific Facebook users. Cambridge Analytica was also involved in the Leave.EU leading to the success of the Brexit vote for separating Britain from the European Union.

Cambridge’s control over voters comes from its “psychographic” targeting that creates psychological profiles to “effectively engage and persuade voters using specially tailored language and visual ad combinations” that appeal to each person on an emotional level. Kogan claimed that his data predicted individual neuroticism, political views, agreeableness, and interests in subjects such as militarism, horoscopes, and the environment that could be used for targeting voters. Cambridge built profiles by maximizing the use of “up to 5,000 data points on over 230 million American voters,” according to the company’s website.

In August 2016 when Cambridge was targeting voters without their knowledge for DDT’s campaign, Facebook said it was deleting the collected data but didn’t tell Facebook users that GOP operatives were in possession of their data. Kogan’s company Global Science Research had paid people $1 or $2 in 2014 to complete its quiz and required that they download an app and share data about themselves and their social network. Facebook let app developers access data, such as their friends’ names and personal information about both themselves and their network. In 2015, Facebook claimed to receive certification that Kogan, Cambridge Analytica, and founder of Cambridge Christopher Wylie had destroyed all data collected by the quiz. They didn’t.

Wylie, a data analyst for Cambridge, shared the company’s activities with The New York Times and London’s The Observer in addition with UK cybercrime investigators. Former employees and contractors of Cambridge maintain that the company still possesses all or most of the data. In an interview on Today this morning, Wylie said that Cambridge worked with Corey Lewandowski, DDT’s first campaign manager, and Steve Bannon in 2015. Wylie described the method that Cambridge used:

“This data was used to create profiling algorithms that would allow us to explore mental vulnerabilities of people and then map out ways to inject information into different streams or channels of content online so that people started to see things that may or may not be true. This is a company that took fake news to the next level.”

Facebook blocked Wylie, and he retorted:

“Suspended by Facebook. For blowing the whistle. On something they have known privately for two years.”

Tracking responses to social media messages in real time showed the locations where DDT should go and the words that his audience would want to hear. Bannon said just before DDT’s election:

“I wouldn’t have come aboard, even for Trump, if I hadn’t known they were building this massive Facebook and data engine. Facebook is what propelled Breitbart to a massive audience. We know its power.”

Theresa Hong, an IT member of DDT’s campaign, told BBC in an interview last year, “Without Facebook, we wouldn’t have won.” She explained how a working mother could be targeted with information about child care instead of war with a more “warm and fuzzy” ad without DDT’s voice. She said, “It wasn’t uncommon to have about 35 to 45 thousand iterations of these types of ads everyday.”

Cambridge emerged in Robert Mueller’s investigation last December through its employee emails that revealed the FEC violations about non-U.S. people working on political campaigns. Cambridge’s CEO, Nix, is British, and many of the company’s employees are European or Canadian. In its Russian connections, Cambridge contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in June 2016, and the DDT campaign started paying Cambridge in July–almost $9 million by the end of the campaign.

In now-deleted tweets, Facebook’s head of security, Alex Stamos, tried to justify Kogan’s actions by stating that he “didn’t break into any systems, bypass technical controls, or use a flaw in our system to gather more data than allowed.” Yet Facebook did not permit Kogan to give data to a voter-targeting operation.

An undercover reporter has video of  Cambridge CEO Nix who suggested that his company could use honey traps and bribery to discredit politicians. In defining “deep digging,” Nix said that a way to target someone is to “offer them a deal that’s too good to be true and make sure that’s video recorded” and “send some girls around to the candidate’s house…” He added that Ukrainian girls “are very beautiful, I find that works very well.” Nix said, “I’m just giving you examples of what can be done and what has been done.”

Mercer has largely stayed out of the limelight while he funds Cambridge Analytica, which keeps a shell company in the United States, and he pours his money into electing nationalist candidates. Former CEO of the investment firm Renaissance Technologies, Mercer was also a main funder of Breitbart News and the biggest donor to DDT-supporting Super PACs. Steve Bannon was VP of Cambridge Analytica while he chaired Breitbart News but quit to join DDT’s campaign. Bannon is gone from the White House, but Kellyanne Conway, close friend of Mercer’s daughter Rebecca and creator of the term “alternative news,” stayed.

Some of Mercer’s beliefs:

  • During the 1990s, Hillary Clinton used the CIA for drug trafficking.
  • Blacks were better off economically before the civil rights movement.
  • The only racists in the U.S. now are black, not white.
  • The U.S. should have stripped Iraq of oil.
  • Radiation outside the immediate blast zones of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made Japanese people healthier.
  • Nuclear accidents aren’t any big deal.
  • Climate change would cause future generations to “enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life,” as Art Robinson wrote.
  • The U.S. should return to the gold standard.
  • (And many more wacky, radially far-right conspiracy theories.)

Mercer used Breitbart.com as a weapon to promote negative stories about Hillary Clinton that got the most clicks and likes. He put his daughter, Rebekah, on DDT’s transition team where she picked people for top government jobs including Cabinet positions. Her push for John Bolton as Secretary of State failed, but now he’s being considered for national security adviser. She was also behind Michael Flynn’s selection for that job. On the board of Cambridge, Rebekah Mercer plans to stay there.

Elizabeth Denham, Britain’s information commissioner, plans to apply for a warrant to access Cambridge’s servers because the company has not cooperated with her investigation into its illegal activities. The EU and Democrat officials in the U.S. have joined her in demands for further investigation. Republicans, some of whom used Cambridge in their elections such as Sens. Ted Cruz (TX) and Thom Tillis (NC), are mostly staying quiet about the problem.

Cambridge Analytica wasn’t totally responsible for the loss in investment value today: under a new chairman, Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates with another two increases planned before the midterm elections. Rational influences on DDT from former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and economic adviser Gary Cohn are gone, replaced by Mike Pompeo who wants to go to war and Larry Kudlow who is usually wrong about economics. Add to that DDT’s rabid tweets against special investigator Robert Mueller last weekend, and the nation has plunged into an uncertainty that frightens investors.

As for data mining, the future may bring regulations.

September 23, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-five – Health Care, Russia Loom

The UN experience is over for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) although he’s still exchanging childish insults with North Korea. In addition to the cliffhanger question of a world war, Now the U.S. is waiting for a vote in the Senate about health care repeal and replace with less money to most of the states. Sen. John McCain has come out against the bill, but GOP Senate leaders want to buy Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) vote. The bill gives Alaska and Montana—just those two states—continued advantages of the Affordable Care Act: premium tax credits from Affordable Care Act repealed for other states, delayed Medicaid per capita caps delayed, and “an increased federal Medicaid matching rate. Less than three months ago, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), co-author of this bill, ranted against buying off people to get votes for a health care bill.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) explained the push to get the bill passed in the next week before the filibuster takes over:

“I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered. But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign.”

Grassley means that the Koch brothers and friends will pull the plug on donations without legislation. At a June retreat, one donor declared that his “Dallas piggy bank” was closed until the GOP manages to “get Obamacare repealed and replaced, get tax reform passed.”

Congress wants DDT to continue his warmongering throughout the world. Sixty-one senators defeated a measure that would have limited DDT’s ability to wage war anywhere he wants. Congress has abdicated its responsibility to determine times and places of warring on other countries. An amendment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to the defense bill would have repealed a post-9/11 military authorization allowing DDT to determine times and places of warring on other countries. Paul said:

“What we have today is basically unlimited war anywhere, anytime, anyplace upon the globe. Even if my colleagues say, ‘war, war, that’s the answer everywhere, all the time,’ by golly, come down and put your name on it.”

DDT plans to extend drone strikes and commando raids in any countries where Islamic militants are active without high-level vetting. Such action could lead to attacks in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Russia has threatened retaliation against the U.S. if their troops continue to come under fire. The recent shelling of Syrian government positions by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has also put Russian troops under fire.

Other Russia problems:

Difference of opinion between DDT and his administration:

“The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook.” – DDT

“It is clear, and this administration and the entire government has been clear that Russia meddled in the campaigns and the election. That is inappropriate. Absolutely inappropriate. No one takes issue with that whatsoever.” – State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert

Media reported that federal investigators allegedly secretly wiretapped former DDT campaign manager Paul Manafort before and after the 2016 election and plan to indict him. He was first surveilled for employment by a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party and then watched for his collusion between DDT’s campaign and Russian officials to get DDT elected. Two weeks before DDT became the GOP nominee, Manafort offered to brief a Russian billionaire with close ties to Russia. In July, Mueller executed a “no-knock” search warrant on Manafort’s home to stop him from destroying documents connected with violation of tax laws, money-laundering, and foreign lobbying. Mueller has also asked for documents in 13 areas of interest from the White House and Air Force One, including DDT’s firing former FBI director James Comey and DDT’s son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer.

Information about Michael Flynn’s secret meetings and lobbying for the U.S. to spread nuclear power across the unstable Middle East, possibly with Russia’s help, have been expanded with the knowledge that he was joined by Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, who still has security clearance. Michael Flynn’s legal fees are supposedly about $1 million, and he’s asking for donations. DDT and Don Jr. don’t have problems with their legal bills: they’re using money from DDT’s 2020 reelection campaign and the RNC. This the first case of a sitting president using campaign funds for criminal matters.

Facebook’s advertising against Clinton paid by Russia continues with Mueller’s investigating DDT’s campaign digital operation and its overseer, his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Billionaire Robert Mercer’s data firm, Cambridge Analytica, made Facebook’s fake news into Propaganda Center for DDT.

Michael Cohen, former DDT lawyer, will be required to testify in an open hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee instead of a closed meeting with staff because he broke his agreement not to release a public statement before the meeting.

Nicaragua has decided to sign the Paris climate agreement leaving the United States alone with Syria in opposition.

Back on the home front:

White House staffers are flocking to headhunters, seeking positions in the private sector. The turnover date seems to be January, one year less than usual for new presidential administrations. White supremacist Sebastian Gorka, fired from the White House, already got a new gig as “chief strategist” with the “MAGA Coalition,” that supports political candidates who will “compete against globalist corporatists interests.” His first gig was with Sarah Palin—yes, the former VP candidate—at a rally for far right evangelist Roy Moore at the September 26 runoff for Alabama GOP senate candidate. A sample of Moore’s rhetoric about Native Americans and Asians from the state Supreme Court Justice who refused to follow the law on marriage equality:

“Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A President? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”

Opposing Moore is appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), the preference of DDT and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). DDT lukewarm comments at Strange’s rally won’t inspire confidence. “I don’t know him. I met him once.” And “that is the tallest human being I’ve ever seen.” DDT said that he might be making a mistake in backing Strange and would rather be home watching television. It was—“strange.”

The 10th Circuit Court ruled that BLM violated federal law by failing to consider climate impact of four coal leases on federal land in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Three of the leases are actively being mined, and two of them produce about 20 percent of the coal used to generate electricity. A month ago, a federal judge made the same ruling in blocking the expansion of an underground Montana coal mine.

California is suing DDT in opposition to his “wall” because it is unconstitutional and breaches environment laws.

DDT is using a report that censored data in a refugee policy in attempt to show that refugees from war-torn countries “are not a net benefit to the U.S. economy.” His HHS report shows that refugees brought in “$63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost.”

A teamsters union representing 120,000 New York workers has declared itself a “sanctuary union” after ICE deported long time member Eber Garcia Vasquez. His asylum case was turned down in 2013, but he annually checked in with immigration authorities and had applied for a green card. Vasquez’s wife and three children are U.S. citizens.

DDT’s old travel ban expires tomorrow, and he needs new plans. One may be to extend the existing six countries that he thinks have not protected against terrorists and criminals coming to the U.S. The current ban goes to the Supreme Court on October 10 for argument. After over eight months since his inauguration and declaration of bans, DDT hasn’t been able to put together a vetting system.

The Trump Organization, still owned by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), has decided to clean up DDT’s bio for posterity. Gone are all references to his birther fight—his attempts to prove that President Obama was not born in the United States—and all his bankruptcies and other failed deals. It also removes any mention to Macy’s dropping DDT’s product line because of his racist remarks about Mexican immigrants and reference to Istanbul’s Trump Towers. DDT doesn’t own that property or most buildings labeled “Trump” outside the United States, but the Turkish owners bought his name for between $1 million and $5 million. A year ago, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted the towers to be renamed because of DDT’s Islamophobic comments.

As part of DDT’s order for anti-leak training at all executive agencies, the EPA required its employees to undergo the hour-long training. Part of the instruction is that they cannot release any information even if unclassified. Training materials were leaked to the press. The EPA has received press about its cozy relationship with the fossil fuel industry, its purging federal scientists, and its removal of information about climate change from the EPA website. Other information includes the EPA’s rolling back regulations.

Could this be considered a death threat? Ann Coulter suggested “death squads” for removing the president who didn’t live up to her anti-immigration expectations.

February 2, 2016

Good News Despite Iowa Caucus

The Iowa caucus yesterday was a disaster for country that claims to be a democracy. Want to vote for a presidential candidate? Go to a corner and get counted. Want to decide on a delegate? Toss a coin. Want to have somebody run a caucus? Pick somebody who just showed up to vote and is clueless about structure and responsibilities?  Then there’s the winner. Marco Rubio came out first to declare himself a victor because he got third place for the Republicans—something accurately predicted by polls.

Then there’s the super PAC called Black Americans for a Better Future. Every donor is white. Of the $417,250 received in donations, $400,000 came from Robert Mercer, hedge-fund sugar daddy for Ted Cruz. The sole beneficiary of the super PAC is Raynard Jackson, a GOP black political consultant based in Washington, D.C. The money is  for events encouraging blacks to join the Republican party.

While the Iowa caucus controlled media content, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) admitted that he and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), current chair of the Benghazi investigation, created the attack on Hillary Clinton to keep a Democrat from being elected president. They hope that the committee’s persecution and pushing Clinton’s emails can cause her to lose to “a devout socialist who wants to nationalize almost everything in America,” according to Issa. That can be the rationale for concentrating on her emails and overlooking other high-profile leaders  who use private servers for their government emails.

While House members constantly attack Clinton and repeal health care, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) protects his party members by doing nothing for the next nine months. No decision about ISIS, no criminal justice reform legislation, and probably no trade deals. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) claim that the Senate doesn’t even need to pass a budget, despite the GOP complaints about the Dems in the same position. McConnell plans to string out the 12 annual appropriation bills to appear that he’s doing something.  Of the 34 seats up for re-election in the Senate, 24 are held by Republicans including Johnson and Portman. Losing five of those seats turns the majority in the Senate back to the Democrats.

People of the United States did experience a victory last Friday. For a few months, the United States won’t be giving out any new permits to frack for oil or gas off the California coast in the Santa Barbara Channel off Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, where Exxon Mobil and other oil companies operate platforms. The settlement from the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles also requires the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to analyze the environmental dangers of offshore fracking and acidization under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). After the deadline of May 28, 2016, the public has at least 30 days to review and comment on the assessment.

Over 200 cases of fracking in state and federal waters off California have rubber-stamped permits from federal regulators, and the oil industry dumps over 9 billion gallons of wastewater into the ocean off the California coast every year. At least ten fracking chemicals routinely used offshore kills marine life, including otters and fish. Some of the many fish species that could be harmed by fracking pollution include white seabass, sand and kelp (calico) bass, lingcod, sheephead, ocean whitefish, yellowtail, bonito, barracuda, yellowfin tuna, sculpin, yellow croaker, barred surfperch and dozens of species of rockfish.

The settlement could affect oversight of all federally permitted offshore fracking, including that in the Gulf of Mexico which has never had any environmental review. The Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 could protect these species, but it has never been fully implemented and enforced, with no protection for ocean pollution, fracking, oil drilling, oil spills, military testing, corporate aquaculture, and all human impacts other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

A state panel to determine so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California between 2009 and 2012 was led by a oil industry lobbyist. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force as her industry fracked the waters with little or no government oversight. State officials promised to review the “marine protected areas” every five years but changed to 10-year reviews.

Conservatives angry about protecting the ocean are also going to be furious about Facebook’s announcement that it will ban users from selling guns on both its main site and its photo-sharing site Instagram. Licensed gun dealers can still post with the requirement that they do not conduct purchases on the site, but it applies to the private gun sales not requiring background checks in most states.

Facebook rules cover gun parts and ammunition as well as guns. Federal laws don’t cover guns if they are 80 percent or less complete, like an “unfinished lower receiver.” In this way, people can buy “incomplete” guns without serial numbers or background checks, and people can buy these parts and put them together for an untraceable gun. Some websites even sell the machines to complete receivers with the promise that buyers can build unserialized firearms legally in your own home. The federal government can’t block this, but Facebook can decide what it doesn’t want to sell—such as marijuana, pharmaceuticals, or other potentially illegal objects.

With one debate before next Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, media will be consumed by presidential candidates. At least that state uses real ballots. Both parties debate next week—Dems on February 11 and GOP on February 13—before decisions on a Democratic candidate in Nevada and the GOP candidate in South Carolina on February 20. The two parties can’t even vote on the same day in those states: Democrats wait another week to vote in South Carolina and the GOP won’t caucus in Nevada until February 23. Four weeks from today is Super Tuesday with a solid dozen states. Maybe that will produce a decision—or not.

Martin O’Malley on the Democratic side and Mike Huckabee on the GOP side have both dropped out. Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucus in 2008, said, “The voters are sick of me.” In the 2012 Iowa caucus, the first winner was Mitt Romney. After Iowa GOP decided they made a mistake, they selected Rick Santorum and then went on to declare Ron Paul the real winner. The next dropout may be John Kasich who said that he’ll be gone if he doesn’t do well in New Hampshire. No one knows what Donald Trump will decide.

Ted Cruz’s campaign has outdone Trump’s outrageousness by spreading the news during the Iowa caucus that Ben Carson was planning to drop out of the race. Later Cruz apologized, calling it a “mistake” but said that it was “fair game” to update his “grassroot leaders” that “Dr. Carson was not carrying on to New Hampshire and South Carolina.” Twenty minutes after the caucuses began in Iowa, Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the Cruz campaign’s national co-chair, tweeted, “Carson looks like he is out. Iowans need to know before they vote. Most will go to Cruz, I hope.”

Cruz had already gained the ire of Iowa’s secretary of state after Cruz sent mailers that misrepresented state election law. A warning of a “voting violation” in capital letters at the top of the page was followed by that statement that people were receiving notice “because of low expected voter turnout in your area.” The flier continued, “Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.” After that were a list of names, letter grades, and percentage scores.

sandersclintondebate

The highlight of my week will be the Democratic debate on MSNBC Thursday, February 4–if it happens. Moderator Rachel Maddow will moderate, and Fox can watch to see how debates should be run. It’s still up in the air because Bernie Sanders first said he wanted the debate, but now he says he won’t debate unless Hillary Clinton agrees to his conditions on future debates.

And the joke that the U.S. calls democracy continues.

 

March 6, 2014

Change the Culture of Guns

Smoking was really cool, a half century ago, until people found out that the tobacco industry was lying and that tobacco was a horrifying public health issue. As the 21st century started, guns were cool. How did the people in the United States break the stranglehold that corporations held over lawmakers despite the favoritism that courts show the gun industry? They changed the culture. As more and more people learned that tobacco use kills, they pushed legislators into laws protecting people. In the same way, people can loosen the gun industry’s draconian hold on today’s lawmakers.

A tiny chink in the gun culture came yesterday with the announcement that Facebook will no longer post sales of weapons without background checks. The company’s spokesman, Matt Steinfeld, announced that Facebook had been working on curtailing illegal gun trafficking “for quite a while,” but the recent petitions on the Internet from Moms Demand Action and a coalition of other groups may have pushed them.

The social network will no longer allow posts for sales with “no background check required” or promises to send firearms across state lines without a licensed dealer. Another guideline is limiting minors’ access to pages and posts selling guns.

The National Rifle Association threatened retaliation for Facebook’s mandating legal gun sales. The executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, Chris W. Cox, said, “The NRA enjoys 150 times more support on Facebook than Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns.” He added, “NRA members and our supporters will continue to have a platform to exercise their First Amendment rights in support of their Second Amendment rights.”

Members of Facebook’s “Guns for Sale” described the rules as unconstitutional and unnecessary although children and people without IDs can locate sales of assault rifles, handguns, shotguns, etc. in as little as 15 minutes on Facebook. The administrator of “Guns for Sale” did “support the idea of keeping guns out of the hands of children and dangerous people (i.e. criminals who aren’t allowed to own them).”

The same rules will be implemented on Instagram, owned by Facebook. Steinfeld said that monitoring will rely on complaints and send messages telling people who post “to comply with relevant laws and regulations.” A weak start, but a start.

Other facts to help change the culture of “cool” guns:

Having guns in the house make women less safe. A new study shows that higher rates of gun availability are correlated with higher rates of female homicide, especially notable because women in the United States account for 84 percent of all female firearm victims in the world. Men with guns claim that women need firepower to keep the weaker sex safe, but more than twice as many women are killed by husbands or partners than are murdered by strangers who use guns, knives, or other means of killing.

In one study, two-thirds of battered women were threatened with death by an intimate partner with a gun. Even if women use guns to protect themselves from abusive husbands, they are likely to end up in prison for many years as shown by the case of Marissa Alexander in Florida. She only fired a warning shot to protect herself, but she may have a 60-year sentence after fighting the 20-year prison term awarded her. At the same time, George Zimmerman walks free while he threatens the women in his life.

A 2005 study found that men killed themselves after shooting and killing their partners in two-thirds of the cases. Just one example is a Texas police officer who shot and killed his 42-year-old wife last week before he killed himself with the shotgun he had bought her. Sgt. Nick Pitofsky had posted an online video days earlier about buying a shotgun so that Vanessa, his wife of only three years, could protect himself.

Texas cop

Children are more likely to be killed by guns in the United States. In the U.S., children and teenagers are four times more likely to die by gunfire than in Canada, seven times more likely than young people in Israel, and 65 times more likely than children and teenagers in the United Kingdom. Children from 5 to 14 years old are also more likely to die from unintentional firearm injuries, suicides, and homicides if they live in states or regions with more rather than fewer guns.

Gun injuries are increasing. Some people argue that the number of deaths from guns is not increasing. No one can know if this is accurate because the NRA has blocked the keeping of accurate statistics. Even if this statement is true (which is unknown), injuries have increased 25 percent within the last decade.

Tough state laws are negatively impacted by other states with lax laws. In Massachusetts, where gun laws are among the most strict in the country, more than half the guns seized and traced in 2012 came from out of state. Federal agent Dale Armstrong compared the problem to barnacles:  “You know, one barnacle on the bottom of your boat’s not a problem. But the collective of a thousand barnacles on the bottom of your boat are a real big problem. They’re hard work to scrape off, nobody wants to help you do it.”

Massachusetts law requires that sales be reported to the state within seven days and a license to carry from local police that requires a background check. In surrounding states such as New Hampshire and Maine, private sales, even at a gun show, require neither background check nor record of the transaction. Not even identification. The law makes it illegal for a prohibited person, such as a felon, to buy a gun, the the seller doesn’t have any responsibility for selling to the person. In 2012, only three states, including Massachusetts, had the majority of seized guns traced to out of state sales.

Market forces could control gun industry. In Miami-Dade County, law enforcement may affect gun manufacturers by requiring them to show how they keep guns from those who are ineligible or “straw buyers” who buy guns to sell them illegally. Organizations such as Arms with Ethics are hoping that this practice catches on across the country in which law enforcement agencies spend over $1 billion for firearms.

At this time, lawmakers give more rights to guns than people, especially women and children. A common phrase is “Children are our future,” but legislators follow the mantra, “Guns are our future.” The people who promote open purchases of weapons with no background checks or registrations care more about a piece of metal that is designed only to destroy and kill than they do for the people who are devastated by shootings. Instead of strengthening protections from guns, most states have made their laws more lax, allowing more guns into the hands of felons and the mentally ill.

The NRA opposes even laws requiring trigger locks and safes for their guns. An example of NRA control is the removal of a provision requiring gun owners to report stolen weapons from a Missouri bill. Instead, Missouri is again considering a law that would remove any laws that would stop anyone from owning guns.

Those who cry Second Amendment rights want unlimited ownership and refuse to believe statistics about the dangers of gun ownership. They need to follow their own advice and not accept the statistics that they use to justify their positions that promote the injuries and deaths of innocent people.

As Tom Diaz wrote in The Last Gun:

“Like the tobacco industry before it, the American gun industry and its lobby have successfully employed political intimidation, the crassest form of flag-waving propaganda, and mass-marketing techniques appealing to fear and loathing to prevent being called to account for the public health disaster it has inflicted on America and to avoid meaningful regulation.”

The next chink in the culture war against unlimited gun ownership might be the protests against Visa’s business partnership with the NRA. Members of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence argue that the purchases made with the NRA Visa card help fund the campaign to block stronger gun protections, including expanded federal background checks for firearm purchases. NRA’s website states that it has raised over $20 million from its affiliation with Visa. It underlines NRA’s sole purpose for existing: money.

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