Nel's New Day

January 24, 2019

Shutdown Bills Fail; House Investigates Kushner

Day 34 of government shutdown: Both of today’s Senate bills designed to reopen the government failed when neither one met the 60 votes necessary. In a 51-47 vote, Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Tom Cotton (R-AL) voted against their party in opposing the measure proposed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to get his $5.7 billion for 200 miles of wall, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-VA) supported DDT’s bill with the wall. The second bill from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to open the government with a continuing resolution until February 8 had one more supporting vote, 52-44, with GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Murkowski (AK), Cory Gardner (CO), Lamar Alexander (TN), Johnny Isakson (GA) and Mitt Romney (UT) joining Democrats.

Billionaire Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that he doesn’t understand why federal employees without paychecks don’t get loans instead of using food banks. He claimed that financial institutions just give them loans against “the 30 days of pay that people will be out.” Ross added that even if these 800,000 people never got their pay, they’re “about a third of a percent on our GDP. So it’s not like it’s a gigantic number overall.”

DDT, another billionaire, had a peculiar reaction to Ross. He thought that Ross was accurate in his assertion that federal employees, either furloughed or working without pay, don’t need to get emergency help from homeless shelters and food pantries because—drum roll!—grocery stores will give these paycheck-less people food without paying for it. He said:

“Local people know who they are. Where they go for groceries and everything else. If you have mortgages, mortgagees, the folks collecting the interest and all of those things, they work along. That’s what happens in times like these. They know the people. They’ve been dealing with them for years, and they work along.”

Two months ago, DDT was telling people that they needed IDs to buy a box of cereal.

Republicans are getting so desperate that they are yelling at VP Mike Pence. In a private meeting two days ago, several senators harangued Pence, who said that the White House was working on a strategy to reopen the government and that they should not vote for the Democrat-offered bill that got six GOP votes today.  Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said they gave Pence an “earful” because “we’re all hearing from our constituents who are working for no pay.” Other members criticizing Pence included GOP Sens. Mitch McConnell (KY), Lisa Murkowski (AK), John Boozman (AR), Johnny Isakson (GA), and Jerry Moran (KS). Two of them voted for the Democratic-supported bill.

Fly at your own risk during the shutdown is the message from representatives of air traffic controllers, pilots, and flight attendants. Making things worse, they report that the FAA “has frozen hiring and shuttered its training academy, so there is no plan in effect to fill the FAA’s critical staffing need.” Certification requires two to four years, and the U.S. has the fewest number of air traffic controllers in 30 years.

According to CEOs, DDT is hurting business with the shutdown and low immigration with lack of investment in research and development, education, and entrepreneurship. The National Science Foundation has not issued any grants for over a month, and government researchers in agencies such as NOAA, the EPA, and the U.S. Geological Survey don’t get paychecks. Hundreds of postdoctoral fellows don’t get their stipends. Loss of immigration is destroying U.S. innovation.

In a “what if” piece, Rachel Maddow suggests a “Worst Case Scenario” in which Russia’s Vladimir Putin is behind the government shutdown. At one time, this idea would be too far-fetched, but Robert Mueller’s investigation has found hundreds of links with DDT’s campaign; ties with Russia and national security adviser John Bolton, Maria Butina, the NRA; threats against Michael Cohen’s family to keep him from testifying; and Oleg Deripaska’s Belarusian escort, who claimed to have information about DDT, was returned to Russia and may be in early states of poisoning. Putin wanted interference in the presidential election to cause chaos within the United States.

Now federal agency employees who were called back to work without pay—TSA agents, meat inspectors, prison guards, IRS workers, etc.—are starting to walk off their jobs, adding to the impact of jobs not being done by furloughed employees. Imagine if people can no longer trust safety in flying, food, and water and from crime while not receiving their tax refunds in addition to millions losing income from the missing paychecks for 800,000 federal employees. DDT is behind the shutdown and shows little urgency in reopening the government. He is also the focus of the biggest criminal and counter-intelligence investigation of any sitting U.S. president.

DailyKos has ideas for what a U.S. leader following Putin’s strategy could do to weaken the United States:

  • Relax sanctions on Putin and his oligarchs to give them more money.
  • Antagonize U.S. allies.
  • Polarize the U.S. with ugly divisive rhetoric.
  • Attack U.S. institutions, especially the judiciary, and replace the leadership with his cronies.
  • Pull the U.S. out of multinational trade and security alliances.
  • Excessively praise Putin.
  • Implement irrational economic trade sanctions to weaken U.S. economy.
  • Use excessive measures to conceal communications with Putin.
  • Consistently repeat Putin’s propaganda talking points.
  • Shut down the U.S. government for a ridiculous rationale and continue to cripple the U.S. with huge political, security, social, and financial damage.

Two years ago, this scenario would have seemed impossible. Now some might like to think it’s improbable, but every DDT action makes the proposition appear more likely.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), new chair of the Judiciary Committee, has an answer for the crisis facing many people in the U.S. during the shutdown: investigate Hillary Clinton’s email server, specifically the FBI’s handling of the situation and the FISA warrant application targeting DDT’s campaign adviser Carter Page. The FBI investigated Page after the possibility that he conspired with Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. Graham believes that the FBI was “in the tank” for her campaign and accused them of a double standard in the agency’s handling of the two presidential campaigns. In actuality, he’s right: the FBI helped swing the election to DDT by publicizing non-existent problems with Clinton and hiding real investigations into DDT.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) laughed at Graham’s plans and compared them to the ”thrilling days of yesteryear.” Durham said:

“This is going to be like the History Channel, it turns out. Instead of taking a look at the current issues, Lindsey Graham wants to go back and answer important questions about the Bermuda Triangle and Hillary Clinton.”

Durbin added that Graham may want to investigate Jimmy Carter next. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a judiciary committee member, joked that Graham might want to “investigate Benghazi some more.”

The House Oversight Committee plans an investigation into “grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump Administration” with the focus on White House handling of classified information, including DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Over 130 political appointees in DDT’s office lack permanent security clearances as of 2017, include Kushner and DDT’s daughter Ivanka.

The House committee has even more grist for its mill since the revelation that Kushner’s application for a top secret clearance was rejected by two career White House security specialists because of FBI concerns about possible foreign influence on him. Overruling this decision from an investigation, the specialists’ supervisor, Carl Kline, approved the clearance. In unprecedented behavior, Kline, a DDT appointee, repeated this overruling 30 times despite unfavorable information on each of the applicants. Sources indicated that “the Trump White House attracted many people with untraditional backgrounds who had complicated financial and personal histories, some of which raised red flags.”

Kushner, who had to redo and correct his application clearance 40 times, received questions about foreign contacts, travel, and meetings as well as his family’s business. After Kline gave Kushner secret and top secret clearances, Kushner went to the CIA seeking a higher that allows him to access “sensitive compartmented information” that includes transcripts of intercepted foreign communications and CIA source reporting. Kline even stopped credit checks on security clearance applicants.

The CIA reviewed Kushner’s materials and questioned even the “top secret” clearance giving Kushner access to material that would cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security if disclosed to adversaries. Officials are questioning whether the White House overruled the CIA refusal for the SCI clearance. A year ago, WaPo reported that officials in at least four countries—United Arab Emirates, China, Israel, and Mexico—talked about how they could manipulate Kushner though his lack of policy experience, financial difficulties, and business arrangements.

The House needs to work fast!

October 30, 2018

Voters: ‘Don’t Take the Bait’

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) came up with a new diversion today. He doesn’t want people to notice that the Republicans plan to get rid of pre-existing conditions on health plans and eviscerate Social Security and Medicare. He doesn’t want people to notice that the national debt is ballooning and the deficit is rapidly increasing because he is giving money to the wealthy and big business that he had promised to use for help to the other 80 percent. And he certainly doesn’t want people to know—right before the midterm elections—that they will suffer from his new policies. His strategy is to tell them that he is taking care of the non-existent immigration problem.

Today he told today that he plans to sign an executive order to overturn an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to strip people in the United States of their citizenship. The Fourteenth Amendment that specifically stated that almost everyone born in the U.S. automatically becomes a citizen was to erase the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford that blacks are “regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

People are “subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S. if they are bound by its laws. Removing citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants would make these children immune to U.S. law altogether: the federal government could not arrest, detain, or deport them.

A decision in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898) gave a “limited exemption” that excluded children of members of Indian tribes, children born of alien enemies in hostile invasion and occupation, and children of diplomatic representatives of a foreign state—the latter two already exempted from citizenship by earlier law. Wong Kim Ark, a laborer, was born in the United States to “persons of Chinese descent, and subjects of the emperor of China.” The Supreme Court ruled that he was a citizen.

DDT’s appointee to the federal bench, Judge James Ho, may be the most conservative person to reach that position via DDT. His first judicial opinion ruled all campaign contribution limits unconstitutional, railed against the Affordable Care Act on an originalist basis, and laments—in his terms—the “moral tragedy of abortion.” Even this judge firmly from the lunatic fringe agrees with the 14th Amendment and not DDT. Or at least he did in 2011.

Even a racist Supreme Court rejected the idea over a century ago; the question is what the current GOP Supreme Court will do. Is allowing a president to arbitrarily overturn the constitution a bridge too far for Chief Justice John Roberts?

Republicans fought President Obama in any change of federal immigration law. That, however, may not block DDT’s power over immigration policy. They will probably agree with DDT that his position on citizenship is good campaign fodder.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is back to cozying up with his buddy DDT with his announcement that he will introduce a bill to replicate DDT’s executive order for ending birthright citizenship. Success for Graham requires two-thirds majorities in both congressional houses and ratification by three-fourths of the states. DDT has announced—wrongly, as usual—that an act of Congress can overturn the constitution and maybe even an executive order can accomplish that goal. Despite DDT’s lies, most countries in the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico and Canada, have forms of birthright citizenship.

VP Pence followed his claim that “we all cherish” the 14th Amendment by saying:

“The Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled on whether or not the language of the 14th Amendment subject to the jurisdiction thereof applies specifically to people who are in the country illegally.”

Axios, which tries to give the appearance of a mainstream internet media source, is in DDT’s pocket. That’s the reason that DDT gave Axios’ Jonathan Swan his press release about his new non-existent plan to change the constitution with an executive order. Like Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, Swan passively nods to every crazy GOP idea designed to hurt people. DDT delivers his wacko message, and Swan says, “Exactly.” Swan did tell DDT that his plan is “very much in dispute.” No, it is completely unconstitutional. But Swan tweets:

“Excited to share with you the first snippet from our interview with President Trump yesterday, ahead of the launch of Axios’ HBO show this Sunday evening.”

For Swan, it’s all about the ratings through enabling DDT, not the horrifying possibilities of DDT’s plan.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) urged voters not to “take the bait.” She added:

“He’ll say anything before the election. Don’t take the bait. Focus on ending the hate. Hug a kid. Be nice to someone you don’t know or agree with. And vote. Please vote.”

Klobuchar is right about not being distracted and being sure to vote. DDT uses his craziness to club people over the head with his immigration distractions. At the same time, he encourages white supremacy throughout the United States and puts everyone of color into great danger. He promotes his racist hatred to incite violence and killing, to reinstate the white genocide of the 19th century in the United States and promoting the election of only Republicans who will protect no one except wealthy white people.

The FBI concluded a year ago that white nationalists are as threatening to the U.S. as ISIS and that the threat of white nationalists will only grow. White supremacists have carried out three times as many attacks in the United States as people associated with ISIS, but the government holds no congressional hearings on white nationalist attacks. For the first 20 months after his inauguration, DDT protected and supported white nationalists; this past month he moved forward to declare that he is one of them by calling himself a “nationalist.” DDT has affiliated himself with white supremacists to help them drive everyone of color out of the United States. He follows his belief that he can do anything he wants without losing any support.

DDT claims that his self-identification of “nationalist” isn’t racist, yet his speech excoriating people of color overcomes this false claim. He also claims that he has nothing to do with any of the increasing violence in the nation; people are just doing it on their own without attention to his words, according to DDT. If his words mean nothing, why does he keep talking? Why does he keep attacking women and people of color? Because he loves the control and knows that some of the people will follow his “dog-whistles” to commit violence in his name.

If you want to protect democracy, if you want to keep the United States from being an armed battleground where no one is safe either inside or outside homes, don’t be discouraged by the GOP voter suppression that tries to keep everyone except the Republican base from casting ballots.

Vote! (And the deadline is November 6, no matter what Republicans tell you.)

October 1, 2018

Lindsey Graham Sets His Sights On Becoming First Lady

[A blog post from two women who have been friends for seven decades.]

A blogger wrote in 2017: “There is a certain wisdom that comes with age and Helen Philpot and Margaret Schmechtman show that they still got it. Helen and Margaret have been friends for more than 60 years and aren’t afraid to tell you their views on anything.” References go back ten years in such sources as Forbes and Atlantic.

[From Helen]: Margaret, did you know that women currently make up more than half the population in the US, but we are represented by a Congress made up of 80 percent men? Oh, and honey, it gets worse. Among other countries we are ranked 104th in the world when it comes to female representation in government. Five places behind Saudi Arabia! Hell, we’re almost 40 spots behind Iraq… Yes. You heard me: BEHIND IRAQ.

How long before men realize that women are their equals? After last week, we can probably make the argument that we are more than equal. Everyone of those GOP Senators expected an overly emotional, erratic and maybe even hysterical witness… and let me tell you Brett Kavanaugh did not disappoint. If I were Brett, I’d be worried that The Donald might now try to grab his pussy. Christine Ford managed to stay calm and respectful for 4 hours.   Brett couldn’t last 2 minutes before he came undone.  And speaking of undone, Lindsey Graham deserves an award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Donald Trump’s new girlfriend.  Move over Stormy Daniels. Hurricane Graham has arrived.

To be clear, Brett Kavanaugh is indeed innocent until proven guilty.  And it’s not search and destroy like Kavanaugh and Trump want us to believe.  It’s about making sure the truth comes out. Afterall, if there is nothing to find, then it doesn’t matter how hard you search.   When a woman finds the courage to speak about sexual assault, she deserves to be heard. And hearing her means taking the time to fully investigate in hopes of uncovering the truth.  And if that means men need to be a little scared, so be it. We women have been living scared all our lives. If you are worried for your sons, I have one piece of advice for you. Teach them to respect women.  Problem solved.

But I don’t even know why I am wasting my time writing this.  For the love of God, Republicans just elected a man who was videotaped bragging about assault. Are we really surprised they think a calendar showing exercise workouts during the 80’s is proof enough of innocence? If you are a Republican woman, I hope you are paying attention. It doesn’t matter how accomplished, how intelligent or how credible you are. You will be ignored, dismissed and even smeared if you stand between a Republican man and his path to power… regardless of what evidence you have or don’t have.  If it happens in their teens, it’s boys will be boys, and if it happens as adults, it’s just locker room talk.  Evidently Republicans are just fine electing men who sexually harass and assault women.

Honestly, how do Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins sleep at night? It’s been almost thirty years since the Anita Hill testimony, and we women continue to be ignored about sexual harassment, assault and rape at the hands of powerful men. There have been 52 total women in the United States Senate since its establishment in 1789.  And one of those women simply served for one day.  Until 2001, the most common way for a woman to become a US Senator was to be appointed following the death or resignation of a husband or father who previously held the seat.  Today there are 21 female Senators – 16 Democrats and 5 Republicans… well 6 depending on which column you place Lindsey Graham. Quite frankly, he lacks the humanity to be in either. Imagine how differently things could be if there were 50.

The late Governor Ann Richards liked to say, “Life isn’t one thing after another.  It’s the same damn thing over and over again.”  Well, I am tired of fighting this fight over and over again.  This November we have more women than ever running for elected office, and I for one plan to vote for them early and often. I mean it. Really.

Notes:

Note from Margaret – I think your humor missed the mark when you called Lindsey a girl.

Note from Helen – I called him Trump’s girlfriend which is very different.

Note from Margaret – Well.

Note from Helen – look up satire in your dictionary.

Note from Margaret – under H you might find hypocrisy.

Note from Helen – exactly my point. I’m sending pie.

Note from Margaret – second to the last paragraph, dear.

Note from Helen – I stand corrected and edited. I’m sending two pies. Howard’s favorite.

September 27, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh: Anita Hill Redux

Twenty-seven years after Clarence Thomas, accused of sexual misconduct, was confirmed for the Supreme Court, the GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee held another anti-woman Supreme Court nominee hearing, this one featuring Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault. The day began with Ford’s statement, followed by questions from Democratic judicial committee members and Rachel Mitchell, sex crimes prosecutor for Maricopa County (AZ), the “female”—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) words—hired to ask questions from 11 white male senators on the committee. For the first time in history, these GOP senators hired someone to ask their questions for a better photo-op.

Ford began the ten-hour day with her opening statements specifically describing what Kavanaugh had done to her. She explained the attack in clear language despite a quavering voice. Asking questions for the GOP senators, Rachel Mitchell tried to poke holes in her testimony in the five-minute increments allotted her instead of to GOP senators, asking about drinking or drugs at the event (Ford had neither), mistaken identity (Ford said she was “100 percent” sure that it was Kavanaugh), Ford’s appearance, the timing when she first raised her story and who she told, any donors to her efforts such as paying for the polygraph and lawyer fees.

Fox network’s Chris Wallace pronounced the hearings a “disaster” for Republicans after the first half hour, and NYT White House correspondent Maggie Haberman reported that sources close to DDT said “it was a mistake” to have a sex crimes prosecutor ask questions of Ford instead of GOP lawmakers or another outside counsel. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) raged that Ford “seems credible.”

Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) repeatedly defended his committee’s handling of the Kavanaugh confirmation and criticized Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the panel, for not telling Republicans immediately of Ford’s letter to her making allegations against the nominee. Feinstein has explained that she promised Ford privacy, that she made the letter public after a media leak and Ford’s permission.

During the recess between her testimony and Kavanaugh’s part of the hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) raged “that Democrats are never subjected to accusations of sexual misconduct, and warned them that if Kavanaugh fails, Republicans will gin up false accusations against future Democratic nominees to even the score. Wow.”

In his 2015 autobiography Graham wrote about his prosecutions of rape cases in his 2015 autobiography:

“I learned how much unexpected courage from a deep and hidden place it takes for a rape victim or sexually abused child to testify against their assailants.”

By 2018 Graham has reversed any sense of decency as demonstrated in his attacks against Ford and the Democrats. When a woman came up to him during a recess at the hearings and said she had been raped, he said, “I’m so sorry…you needed to go to the cops.”

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Kavanaugh’s 45-minute rambling, self-aggrandizing opening was directed with fury at Democrats and the “left,” possibly in an effort to please DDT. Instead of neutrality that he had early bragged about, he disparaged the process and expressed anger at the Democrats, claiming that their attacks came from anger at DDT and Hillary Clinton’s electoral loss, calling it “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.”  Conservative Jennifer Rubin wrote that “the angry thing is suggesting that he can get out of control. Not a good connection. His roommate said he got ‘aggressive and belligerent.’ YIKES.”

Kavanaugh almost cried throughout the remainder of his opening, behavior that would have been described as “hysterical” if he were a woman. He refused to answer Sen. Diane Weinstein’s (D-CA) question about why he didn’t ask the FBI to look into the allegations, beginning a repeated answer to questions from other Democrat senators. Kavanaugh continually emphasized how he drank beer and how much he likes beer, excusing his behavior because everyone did it. He couldn’t say how much he drank but said that it was legal because the drinking age was 18. According to Maryland law, the age for legal drinking changed to 21 when Kavanaugh was 17.

To questions about Mark Judge from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Kavanaugh hedged before he talked about his wonderful personal characteristics, taking up most of Leahy’s five minutes despite attempts to question him. Leahy pointed out that GOP committee chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) allowed Kavanaugh to filibuster. Earlier, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) had said that Judge was “credible” because he had testified under oath and that he didn’t need to testify before the committee because of that testimony.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told Kavanaugh that he could save his family name and immediately ask for an FBI investigation, leading to Grassley’s temper tantrum about process before Kavanaugh declared that the FBI “don’t reach conclusions.” Kavanaugh clearly does not want an FBI investigation.

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Graham’s screaming fit after Durbin’s questioning, likely to please DDT, removed any possibility of his becoming a statesman. He lied about Democrats getting an FBI investigation by going to the Republicans and continued to attack Democrats, telling Kavanaugh that he would not get a fair process—and much more. His fury gave the rest of the GOP senators to speak for themselves as they delivered speeches about how horrible the accusations were and how wonderful Kavanaugh is and Rachel Mitchell never spoke again.

Continuing to lose any Supreme Court justice presence, Kavanaugh asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) if she had ever blacked out while drinking—twice—after she asked him that question. He never answered her question, but he did half-way apologize when he came back from break. Earlier he has asked Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), “Do you like beer, Senator, or not? What do you like to drink?”

Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) voice broke in anger during his speech before he asked a few questions. Kavanaugh’s answers were brief, with none of the filibustering done to avoid questions from Democrats, although his folded arms demonstrated a defensive posture. When Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) followed with questions about forgetting or becoming combative while drinking, Kavanaugh reverted to becoming defensive. His filibustering when Coons asked about descriptions of Kavanaugh’s drinking by Dr. Elizabeth Swisher and Kavanaugh’s freshman Yale roommate James Roche. Again Kavanaugh refused any investigation.

When Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) asked Kavanaugh about descriptions of him as a “sloppy drunk,” Kavanaugh continued filibustering. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) was better at moving Kavanaugh along when Booker asked about Kavanaugh’s political animus and got him to say that he didn’t think that this problem extended to Ford. Booker also got in the statement that Ford’s friend, who didn’t remember the party, still believes Ford’s accusations.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked Kavanaugh if he had taken a polygraph test; he said no but that they weren’t admissible in federal court. She also pinned him down on whether he would ask the White House for an FBI investigation. In response to his filibustering, she said, “I’ll take that as a ‘no’ and move on.”

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) finished by asking Kavanaugh if he believes in God and then asked him if any of the allegations were true. Kavanaugh believes in God and denies any of the accusations. His innuendo smeared Ramirez.

A recurring lie from Grassley was that no Democrat had asked for an FBI investigation. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) finally corrected him, pointing out that Grassley had refused the request from the Democratic senators, Ford, and others to investigate the allegations. For the first time, the judiciary committee, under GOP control, has refused to have any investigation. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) reiterated blame for Feinstein in not telling the others about Ford’s accusation, and Feinstein explained the confidentiality of the situation. In response, Cornyn accused Feinstein of leaking the information to the press.

Republican Jon Meacham called today’s hearing “the triumph of mindless tribalism over the truth.” Kavanaugh, already a sitting judge on the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court, completely failed to display the temperament of a judge with a lifetime position. Even if he fails to get the Supreme Court plum, he’ll stay on the other court, able to impose his hysterical, raging behavior on anyone who appeals to that court and wielding his power against Democrats and other progressives.

Charlie Baker (MA), Larry Hogan (MD) and John Kasich (OH) have called on the Senate to delay the Kavanaugh nomination and investigate the three allegations, but Grassley plans to vote on confirmation in committee tomorrow.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied to Savannah Guthrie on the Today show about accusers refusing to testify before the judicial committee. Every named accuser has offered to testify under oath but, except for Ford, were refused or ignored. Both Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick could not get responses from any GOP committee members.

DDT claims to be delighted about Kavanaugh’s testimony, but the GOP is already losing the support of women.

Women’s support for Kavanaugh is also weakening, down to 27 percent. And that was before today’s hearing.

Yesterday’s lesson to 1,202 public school students at Soddy-Daisy High School from its athletic director/assistant principal Jared Henley in his morning “Helping of Helsley” public announcement about the “no athletics shorts” policy on the day before the Ford/Kavanaugh hearing:

“If you really want someone to blame, blame the girls. Because they pretty much ruin everything. They ruin the dress code, they ruin … well, ask Adam. Look at Eve. That’s really all you really gotta get to, OK. You can really go back to the beginning of time. So, it’ll be like that the rest of your life. Get used to it, keep your mouth shut, suck it up [and] follow the rules.”

Today was a sad day for everyone in the United States—except for those who want a Supreme Court justice who thinks that DDT is above the law. Hensley “lesson” was actually for women–and anyone else who wants justice if the GOP puts Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court: “Get used to it, keep your mouth shut, suck it up [and] follow the [GOP] rules.”

September 1, 2018

DDT: Week 84 – A Few of His Problems

As the Republicans work to support Russia, they are joining Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in his attack on FBI agent Bruce Ohr. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) traveled to London to dig up dirt on both Ohr and Christopher Steel, the British former agent who wrote a dossier on DDT, but officials at MI6, MI5, and GCHQ wouldn’t talk with him. Nunes finally managed a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May’s deputy national security advisor, Madeline Alessandri. Ohr has been instrumental in fighting Russian organized crime for almost three decades, perhaps the reason that DDT wants to get rid of him because Ohr raised concerns about oligarch Oleg Deripaska named in contacts between DDT’s associates and Russia.

DDT might have been better off leaving Ohr alone. When Congress required Ohr to testify, he said that he learned from Christopher Steele that “Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump ‘over a barrel.’” DDT continues to claim that the Steele dossier was responsible for the FBI investigation into his Russian problem, but memos from both the GOP and Dems prove that the FBI had started the investigation earlier about Russian contacts of former DDT campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos before they had the Steele dossier. Ohr was not the original source of information. Ohr testified that DDT campaign aide Carter Page had met with more senior Russians official that Page admitted. DOJ officials Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein had moved him from director of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force, according to Ohr, because it concerned White House meetings and interactions.

The Republicans who wanted to surveil everyone in the United States are now criticizing Ohr because of his surveillance tactics.

Democratic members of the House are asking committee chairs to review how GOP representatives got correspondence between Ohr and Steele and why they failed to go through appropriate channels to introduce the emails, notes, and text messages into the official record before reading them out loud in the hearing. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said that this information appears to have been cherrypicked by Devin Nunes (R-CA), excluding the complete correspondence. Nadler and Cummings also want “an immediate bipartisan meeting” with the DOJ to review “whether any ongoing investigations or human sources may have been compromised.”

Nunes is only one of many prominent Republicans to use the conspiracy-laden Big League Politics website using Q-Anon false theories for fundraising, some of the candidates violating campaign finance law. The website is being used to harass innocent small business by accusing them of operating child-sex trafficking rings, like the “Pizzagate” conspiracy against Hillary Clinton and a Washington, D.C. restaurant. Recent vicious targets include the Portland (OR) beloved Voodoo Doughnut. Respondents have posted maps of the chain’s locations with Portland’s plumbing locations, local schools, public transit, and airports to suggest ways that children are smuggled in and out of the stores. One member wrote, “Small submarines arent (sic) out of the realm of possibility.” The police say that they cannot do anything about the persecution, some of it generated by a former Breitbart News reporter.

Natasha Bertrand has tied together the threads of DDT’s targeted FBI and DOJ officials in his relentless attacks on people he depicts as dishonest “Democrats.” He depicts Ohr, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, Andrew McCabe, and others who have had extensive experience in investigating money laundering and organized crime, especially connected to Russia. DDT’s big fear is that Robert Mueller’s team is expert in finding fraud, racketeering, money laundering, and other financial crimes. The article is well-worth a read, especially to see DDT’s connections to the crimes.

As Russia dogs DDT’s heels, he faces the week-long honoring of his nemesis, former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). After his death at the age of 81, McCain got his final wishes—DDT did not attend his funeral and two former presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, gave eulogies. DDT tried to minimize McCain’s death with the petty act of lowering the flag for only a day, but public backlash forced him to raise it again. He noticeably ignored his aides who wanted him to send out a statement about McCain being a hero while he continued his vendetta against the man who spent over five years in a Vietnam prison camp while he dodged the draft with four deferments and a bout of bone spurs. On the campaign trail, DDT called McCain a loser because he was imprisoned during the Vietnam War. “I like people that weren’t captured,” DDT said. He started his criticism of McCain in 1999 as this video shows.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders may be collateral damage from McCain’s death. DDT supposedly joked that she was “having a nervous breakdown” because of the way she looked at him when he refused to answer whether McCain would have been a better president than President Obama. “I don’t want to comment on it,” DDT said. “I have a very strong opinion.” He left town for a campaign rally in Indiana before McCain’s body arrived in Washington, D.C. for a memorial service and then went to his Virginia resort to play golf during McCain’s funeral in Washington, D.C. today.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) may be breaking up with DDT, McCain’s replacement after McCain’s illness became terminal, because Graham criticized DDT’s handling of his former friend’s death. Graham said:

“It bothers me greatly when the president says things about John McCain. It pisses me off to no end, and I let the president know it, And the way he handled the passing of John is just — it was disturbing.”

Graham did invite DDT’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka and Jared, to the funeral.

McCain’s death hasn’t slowed down Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia and DDT. Paul Manafort’s next trial, postponed for a week until September 24, follows rumors of a possible plea deal for the second set of charges before he was convicted last week, but the two sides couldn’t work out a deal. Mueller has also received more time to decide whether to retry Manafort on the ten charges from the last trial after one person created a hung jury on these charges.

W. Samuel Patten, a Washington consultant who advised a Ukrainian political party and worked with a co-defendant of Paul Manafort, pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign lobbyist while working on behalf of a Ukrainian political party. Patten’s partner, Konstantin Kilimnik, Patten’s partner and former Manafort employee, has been indicted for witness tampering in Manafort’s case and links to Russian intelligence. Patten also worked at the Oregon office of Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Group, to target voters in the 2014 general election. As part of his plea, Patten admitted that he steered an illegal foreign donation to DDT’s inauguration from a Ukrainian businessman.

DDT’s latest comment about Sessions, who he has tried to separate from his Senate allies with incessant complaints, is that he won’t fire him until after the general election, perhaps to avoid the appearance of obstruction of justice. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said, “My sense is the fix is in,” but  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) still isn’t convinced, maybe worrying about his ability to get another AG confirmed. Donors are also complaining about Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, saying, “They haven’t represented … us well.”

DDT’s shiniest new distraction from his problems comes from his promise of a new trade deal with Mexico to replace NAFTA. The kickoff was a bit awkward when technology failed him in his conference call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto by and at his signoff when he told the president that “a hug from you would be very nice.” DDT is rushing the deal because progressive president-elect of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, takes over December 1. The clock is ticking, but the two-nation agreement may not be able to replace a three-nation trade pact, and Congress must agree.

Canada has been more reluctant, especially after DDT disparaged Canada and threatened the country with 25 percent tariffs on cars and auto parts exported from the U.S. The U.S. may be the loser because Canada is the #1 destination for U.S. products shipped abroad and the trade with Canada supports over 8 million U.S. jobs, many of them in the new “red” states. Canada also is unique because the U.S. doesn’t have a trade deficit with Canada. If the initial deal doesn’t include Canada, the U.S. will have trouble including the country later.

Most of the suggested pieces of DDT’s deal come from either NAFTA or the Trans Pacific Pipeline, but the name is new so that DDT can claim it as his own. He’ll just have to hope that people don’t see the drastic increases in prices from the deal and his tariffs if he wants to use it for getting people to vote for Republicans.

More DDT disasters later.

June 22, 2015

Racist Media Shields Racist Killers

 

Conservative faith was front and center last week as every announced and some potential GOP presidential candidates—except Donald Trump—spoke at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Summit last week. Especially notable was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who managed to completely ignore the killing of nine black people by a white 21-year-old in the Charleston (SC) church on the previous day. To boost his B+ rating with the NRA, however, he reassured his audience that “if I am president of the United States, we will appoint justices and we will have an attorney general who will protect our second amendment rights.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) did allude to the tragedy by saying that “it appears to be racially driven,” but by Friday he told an audience that Texas defines gun control as “hitting what you aim at.” The next day he said, “There’s a famous saying, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. There is a reason why the Second Amendment is right after the First.”

Another horrifying response to the white man killing nine black people because of his racist beliefs was a segment on Meet the Press that interviewed three black murderers who expressed regrets in killing someone. Host Chuck Todd described the program “color-blind” and concluded that “passing a law isn’t going to change the culture.” Fortunately, columnist Eugene Robinson was on a panel and told Todd that the video didn’t fit the discussion:

“Right now, we’re talking about a horrific crime committed by a white man, we’re talking about the search for two escaped murderers who are white men.”

The men in the video said they had no intention of killing anyone whereas the killer in Charleston carefully planned his murders of black people. Todd defensively concluded his post by saying, “Meet the Press should make all viewers uncomfortable at some point or we are not doing our job.” His continuation of the stereotype of associating blacks, and not whites, with murderers shows that he fails to understand the white culture of guns in the United States.

In a white wash of the Charleston killer, NBC ran a story of how his relatives saw him as a “sweet kid” who became “painfully shy.” Media consistently projects this image of white kids while presenting black children as thugs. To the media, a white killer is known as a “lone wolf” who lose his path while blacks are born bad or have such bad families that its natural that they would be criminals. Bill Reilly calls the problem “black people’s rejection of education.” While Freddie Gray, alleged to have an illegal switchblade, died during a rough ride to the police station, the white killer of nine people in a Charleston (SC) church was politely returned to Charleston on a private plane after cops gave him a Burger King hamburger. Vanessa Baden Kelly wrote, “I am black and I’ve come to believe we are more violent than others by watching the news [although] 83% of white murder victims are killed by white people.”

After the killer openly announced his racism, conservatives had to drop their idea that the tragedy was a “war on Christianity” and move to another spin. The Fox network blames the killings on the nation’s “cultural diversity.” Frequent Fox guest Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson said on Newsmax that President Obama is at fault because he said that racism still exists in the United States.

After the killer’s words destroyed Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) argument that the killer was prejudiced against Christianity, Graham said, “I just think he was one of these whacked out kids. I don’t think it’s anything broader than that.” About the Boston bomber of 2013, Graham had said:

“[Dzhokhar Tsarnaev], in my view, should be designated as a potential enemy combatant and we should be allowed to question him for intelligence gathering purposes to find out about future attacks and terrorist organizations that may exist that he has knowledge of, and that evidence cannot be used against him in trial. That evidence is used to protect us as a nation.”

Both killers are U.S. citizens, but the Boston bomber is a Muslim. What a difference a religion and 3,000 miles make.

The Charleston killer reported that he was influenced by a website from the Council of Conservative Citizens that lists Black on White murders. The name states “citizens,” but Southern politicians, primarily Republican, have been involved with the group with some still in office. The CCC is a renewal of the White Citizens Councils, formed a half century ago to fight school desegregation. Now it spreads false information while funding GOP candidates such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

Racist billboard

The killer didn’t come out of nowhere. His worldview of racism, white supremacy, and fear of blacks is popular as shown by this billboard. The words come from white supremacist Robert Whitaker’s Mantra that has inspired racial killings, including 77 people in Norway in 2011 and heavily promoted by Timothy Gallagher Murdock on White Rabbit Radio. The Charleston killer’s manifesto is greatly in alignment with the Fox network and other conservatives:

“Blacks were the real racists [in school].”

“It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right.” (Like many other white people tutored by the Fox network and other conservative media, the stalker and killer of Trayvon Martin is a hero.)

“Black people view everything through a racial lense.” (He quotes Fox and other conservatives who accuse blacks of playing the “race card.” He continues, “The … reason is the Jewish agitation of the black race.”)

“We are told to accept what is happening to us because of ancestors wrong doing, but it is all based on historical lies…”

“Segregation was not a bad thing. It was a defensive measure.” (The killer sees segregation as a way “to protect us from them…. Not only did it protect us from having to interact with them, and from being physically harmed by them, but it protected us from being brought down to their level.”

“I have read hundreds of slaves narratives from my state. And almost all of them were positive.” (The killer believes that slaves thought they were better off in slavery. Rancher Cliven Bundy, who refuses to pay the government for feeding his cattle, was supported by Fox and a number of lawmakers—at least until he stated that black people have less freedom after they are no longer slaves.)

Two subjects that conservatives cannot address in the United States are racism and guns. Following the killings in the Charleston church, President Obama called on the country to take action against mass murders. On the Fox network, Tucker Carlson indicated that the president is a hypocrite because he’s protected by armed people after he said that guns aren’t killing people and that people need guns to save lives. Fox News contributor Jehmu Greene pointed out that his comments were offensive and asked if he was comparing armed Secret Service people to the person who walks into a church and kills nine people. She asked, “Is that literally where we are as a country, to compare that [the president] shouldn’t have protection?” Carlson stuck to his opinion that he shouldn’t be exempt from disarming—a position that President Obama has never taken.

Greene replied:

“The president did not say guns are inherently bad. The president is saying we’ve had this conversation too many times and there is something we can do about it. There was something we could do about it after Newtown, there was something we could have done about it after Columbine.”

Charleston (SC) Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. (D) said yesterday on CNN’s State of the Union:

“It is insane: the number of guns, and the ease of guns in America. It just doesn’t fit with the other achievements of this country. It’s a small- really small group, well-funded–that keeps this issue from being appropriately addressed.”

If people cannot control themselves with guns, then they must be controlled to protect other people. Those who oppose any kind of gun control need to learn that they are destroying the United States.

It is a sad commentary on media in the United States when the best commentary came from the Comedy Channel. Everyone should read the words of Jon Stewart on The Daily Show the day after the killings when he stopped his comedy to talk about the tragedy of the Charleston killings.

June 18, 2015

Victories Accompanied by Another Tragic Shooting

A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 2-1 in Turkmen v. Ashcroft that George W. Bush officials can be sued for roundups and illegal detentions. Plaintiffs of Arab and Middle Eastern descent were held for three to eight months in New York for being “suspected terrorists” and claim that they were abused and profiled by guards and other authority figures. That decision was presented the day after 78 senators voted against torture. Twenty-one senators favor torture, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was out of town, presumably campaigning.

In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sons of Confederate Veterans cannot force Texas to allow the Confederate flag on car license plates. The astonishing part of the ruling is the fifth justice who voted with the four liberal judges—Clarence Thomas. He also dissented with a majority in Virginia v. Black (2003), writing that cross-burning violates the First Amendment right to free speech because it “has almost invariably meant lawlessness and understandably instills in its victims well-grounded fear of physical violence.” Not all Southern states have the same concern about the state’s endorsement of racism: South Carolina still flies the Confederate flag on state capitol grounds and allows Confederate vanity license plates.

One person with South Carolina Confederate plates is the white man in a hoodie who went to a Bible study class last night in an historic Charleston (SC) church where he killed nine people with a gun he bought from the money that his father gave him for his 21st birthday. The killing was on the same date that Denmark Vesey, a former slave, was targeted for what white Charlestonians believed was a revolt. Vesey was captured on June 22 and executed on July 2.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that the people, all Black, were murdered because they were Christians, and another presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, agreed with Graham. The Fox network and other conservative media are spreading the same word. To them, the location of killings in a church identifies the murder of a “war on Christians.” Fox & Friends also claimed that the deaths could have been prevented if the congregation had been armed, and they pulled in Virginia’s former lieutenant governor candidate to back them up. Known for calling the LGBT rights movement a “cancer” and President Obama as a “radical anti-American” and “anti-Christian,” E. W. Jackson urged “pastors and men in these churches to prepare to defend themselves,” and host Brian Kilmeade wondered if giving pastors a gun could help with “security.” Later in the show, Steve Doocy and Elisabeth Hasselbeck agreed.

Once again Fox spreads the insanity. An analysis of 62 mass public shootings over a 30-year period by Mother Jones found no cases in which an ordinary civilian with a gun stopped an attack although some instances showed that a gun caused the death or injury of that person.

Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told an audience of social conservatives:

“There’s a sickness in our country. There’s something terribly wrong. But it isn’t going to be fixed by your government. It’s people straying away, it’s people not understanding where salvation comes from. I think if we understand that, we’ll have better expectations of what to expect from government.”

Paul did not give any solutions about curing the “sickness.”

confederate flagThe day after this tragedy, flags at the South Carolina capitol are at half mast—except for the Confederate flag. Gov. Nikki Haley cried at the news conference about the killings but earlier said that she didn’t think that the Confederate flag presented an image problem. Today Haley’s press secretary said that only the General Assembly had the legal authority to do something about the flag. No one from that body has responded to any requests about it. South Carolina is one of five states without a state hate crime law and celebrated “Confederate Memorial Day” last month.

South Carolina has 19 known hate groups, including two Ku Klux Klans and four “white nationalist” organizations. Of course, they aren’t “terrorist groups” because they aren’t Muslims. Six neo-Confederate groups listed include two branches of the League of the South, which advocates for Southern secession and “the advancement of Anglo-Celtic culture.” The Council of Conservative Citizens is opposed to racial integration and affirmative action “and similar measures to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people.” One of its key figures, Kyle Rogers, said, “I don’t see a legacy of oppression. Blacks have always benefited from being in the United States.” Other hate groups include three neo-Nazi cells, a chapter of the racist skinhead movement Confederate Hammerskins, a branch of black separatist organization Nation of Islam, an “anti-gay” church and an anti-immigration protest group called Americans Have Had Enough.

Graham and other conservatives have been spreading the fear about foreign terrorists and claiming that the U.S. needs to go to war in order to be safe. At the same time, these people ignore heavily armed, violent domestic terrorists, many of them supported by the law. How many of these groups exist in the country is unknown because the Department of Homeland Security stopped an investigation into homeland terrorism six years ago.

Daryl Johnson, a top government counterterrorism analyst, spent six years working at Homeland Security, collecting extensive data on far-right extremist groups posing threats to people in the United States. After the first election of President Obama, these groups went farther right, and Johnson reported that radical Islam is just a small portion of the terrorism groups within the nation. He noted that five totally domestic groups considered using weapons of mass destruction during his investigation, and the same warnings were expressed by the two principal non-government groups that track domestic terrorism: the New York-based Anti-Defamation League and the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Last year the SPLC listed 13 major incidents and arrests last year, almost double the annual number in previous years. In 2010, the number of hate groups topped 1,000 in 2010, for the first time in at least two decades.

After Johnson was forced out of his position, President Obama has received an unprecedented number of death threats, hate groups have gained ground, and white supremacist attacks are regularly occurring. In places such as Nevada’s Bundy ranch, terrorists successfully faced down the federal government. Congress holds hearings about Muslim extremism but says nothing about domestic terrorism. Their silence allows the extremist movement to grow as the common statement after tragedies such as the one at the South Carolina church is that the event shouldn’t be politicized and people need to have time to mourn before taking action. The only action that occurs after mass shootings at this time is an increasing laxness of gun laws.

The killer’s license plate had three Confederate flags, and the patches on his jacket were flags of Rhodesia and apartheid-era South Africa with brutal segregation policies. He also shouted, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” That’s racism, not an attack on Christianity. And people with these beliefs aren’t going to change them just because Rand Paul thinks that it’s a good idea.

June 12, 2015

Graham, Perry Enlarge GOP Presidential Field

Two GOP presidential candidates added themselves to the mix last week, increasing the field by 25 percent to ten. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) brings the number of senators, either current or former, to five—half the string. With little chance for success, he may be angling for the vice-presidential seat. Although he tried to be coy about his running, he did slip up a couple of weeks before the formal declaration when he said, In a slip over two weeks before his formal declaration, Graham said, “I’m running because I think the world is falling apart. I’ve been more right than wrong on foreign policy,” Graham said.

Graham claims that he has “more experience with our national security than any other candidate in this race” and then added, “That includes you, Hillary.”The so-called expertise may not survive the light of day. He claimed that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and now thinks that the U.S. president can secretly order the killing of U.S. citizens. Terrorist suspects don’t deserve rights as U.S. citizens because “the homeland is the battlefield.” He would also violate the First Amendment because “free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war.” According to Graham, there is a connection between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the 2012 attack on the Benghazi diplomatic embassy.

Graham has said “don’t vote for me” if you don’t want to sent U.S. soldiers back to war in Iraq. He said, “The only way I know to defend this country is to send some of us back to Iraq and eventually to Syria, to dig these guys out of the ground, destroy the caliphate, kill as many of the as you can, hold territory, and help people over there help themselves.” Three of the four factions in the Syrian civil war don’t want U.S. intrusion, and that’s where Graham wants U.S. soldiers to go.

Not satisfied with stopping at attacks in Iraq, Graham would move the war to Iran because “there are no moderates in Iran.” According to Graham, “Everything that starts with ‘Al’ in the Middle East is bad news.” The “expert” doesn’t know that “al” is Arabic for “the.” Graham’s experience working in a poolroom as a teenager furthered his understanding of Iranians. “Everything I learned about Iranians I learned working in the pool room,” he said. “I met a lot of liars, and I know Iranians are liars.” So says the bigoted GOP voice on international affairs.

Graham is so intent to extend funding for the military that he “wouldn’t let Congress leave town until we fix this. I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to.” The “fix” is to remove the sequester caps for the military while starving the rest of the country. While complaining about the excessive debt, he wants to add to it with more wars.

Graham’s longtime political adviser, consultant, and pollster was a neo-Confederate magazine editor from the early 1980s until the early 2000s. Richard Quinn was listed as the editor-in-chief of the Southern Partisan. As editor, Quinn wrote that Martin Luther King Jr.’s role in the Civil Rights movement was “to lead his people into a perpetual dependence on the welfare state, a terrible bondage of body and soul” and called Nelson Mandela a “terrorist” and a “bad egg.” Quinn also supported David Duke.  In his desire to lead a political party that admits it needs to demographically diversify, Graham declared, “The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

Graham brags that he has never sent an email. That might not be notable except for his position on a technology subcommittee where he votes on, and even introduces bills about the internet.

Since Caitlyn Jenner’s portrait appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, conservatives have struggled with reactions. On a CNN news show, Graham said, “If Caitlyn Jenner wants to be safe and have a prosperous economy — vote for me.” Then he continued by saying that he’s pro-life and pro-traditional marriage, but Jenner is welcome in his party. He wants her vote but won’t give her equal rights because Jenner is attracted to other women. As a senator, Graham opposed marriage equality, repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would have prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. He should understand the need for LGBT rights because of the ongoing rumors about his being gay.

In his preoccupation with fear, Graham said, “We have never seen more threats against our nation and its citizens than we do today.” That seems to include both world wars, Vietnam, and the Cold War. Two hundred years ago, the British literally set fire to the White House while Abigail Adams fled with George Washington’s portrait. The Civil War killed 620,000 people in the U.S.

Former Texas governor Rick Perry is also on the GOP presidential campaign trail. Even with the heavy black frames on his glasses, he is still searching for an intelligent way to express himself. He admitted that the wealthiest Texas got the largest earnings growth but said that income inequality isn’t a problem in Texas. “We don’t grapple with that here,” he said, ignoring the state being seventh-worst in the rich and poor gap in 2012. He added, “Biblically, the poor are always going to be with us in some form or fashion.”

When MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt asked him if he was smart enough to be the president, he responded:

“Running for the presidency’s not an IQ test. It is a test of an individual’s resolve. It’s a test of an individual’s philosophy. It’s a test of an individual’s life experiences.”

Despite the devastating drought following by horrendous floods in his state, Perry sticks to his skepticism regarding climate change. He follows the rest of the GOP pack with the “I’m not a scientist” line and says that “calling CO2 a pollutant is doing a disservice the country.” Perry has a track record of fighting the EPA, and Texas has passed a law banning the ability of any city or other municipality to ban fracking.

Other Perry beliefs:

  • Social Security And Medicare Are Unconstitutional. In spite of the constitutional right to “lay and collect taxes” in order to “pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,” Perry thinks that the Founding Fathers had a different definition of “general welfare.”
  • All Other Federal Health Programs Are Also Unconstitutional.
  • Federal Education Programs Are Unconstitutional.
  • Nearly All Federal Laws Protecting Workers Are Unconstitutional.
  • Federal Financial Reform Is Unconstitutional.
  • Voters Should Not Be Able To Choose Their Own Senators. Gerrymandering has turned a majority of states over the GOP, so Republicans are in favor of state legislators’ appointing senators, instead of following the popular election created by the Seventeenth Amendment.
  • Taxing Investment Income Should Be Unconstitutional. Perry wants a wealthy heir to pay no taxes although his workers would not have the same advantage. A Supreme Court decision agreed with Perry in 1895 before the 16th Amendment gave Congress the right to collect taxes.

By refusing federal aid, Perry not only took health insurance from one-fourth of the Texas population but also refused $100 billion in federal funding for the over one million struggling families in the state. He took pride in the fact that he governed the state with the biggest number of uninsured people. Just the 24 lawsuits against the federal government between 2009 and 2012 cost Texas taxpayers more than $2 million. Perry’s actions have forced hospitals to suffer losses of over $5 billion each year. The expansion of the healthcare program would create over 300,000 jobs and add $3 billion to the Texas economy in ten years.

Perry told Glenn Beck that the country would have a real advantage with him as president:  conspiracy theorists wouldn’t think that President Rick Perry would invade Texas. He does have the unique qualification of being under indictment for abuse of power and coercion of a public servant while governor.

In some polls, Perry moves between three and five percent although a couple of them don’t mention him. Lindsay appears an almost none of them and even comes in fourth in South Carolina’s poll.

Next week’s announcement may be Jeb Bush. He’s finally embarrassed enough about being a non-candidate to say that he’s entering the fray on June 15. Another opportunity to get an impression of what the United States could be if one of these people gets elected in 2016.

November 12, 2013

No Excuses for the Media

The entire news media are liberal, according to conservative complaints. Only the Fox network can be trusted, the far-right claims. A close look at politics on mainstream media, beginning with 60 Minutes, shows a different view. One of the recent stories on this venerable program was about the attack on the U.S. diplomatic million in Benghazi (Libya) over a year ago. The biggest flaw in the story is that 60 Minutes reporters did their fact checking after the story was shown, not before.

The centerpiece of the story was a man called Morgan Jones who told about his scaling a 12-foot wall at the compound and using the butt end of his rifle to knock down an extremist while desperately trying to rescue the people there. He also reported that after he failed in his task, he saw the body of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens at a hospital. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) got so excited about this black eye on the Obama administration that he told media he would block all the president’s nominees until Congress heard from the U.S. survivors of the attack. Those include Jeh Johnson for Secretary of Homeland Security and  Janet L. Yellen as head of the Federal Reserve.

The problem with the 60 Minutes report—and Graham’s delighted reaction—is that Dylan Davies, who pretended to be Morgan Jones on the program, told his employer three days after the attack that he spent most of that night at his beach-side villa. The Britain-based contractor hired to handle the compound’s perimeter security wrote in his report, “We could not get anywhere near . . . as roadblocks had been set up.” He added that he learned about Steven’s death after a Libyan colleague came to Davies’ villa and showed him a cellphone photograph. According to his 21.5-page report, he didn’t go to the compound until the following day when he photographed the devastation.

Both the State Department and GOP Congressional aides confirmed that Davies’ report was among tens of thousands of documents that lawmakers had available. Yet this week Davies’ book by Sergeant Morgan Jones, The Embassy House which has the same story as the 60 Minutes report, was supposed to be released. The co-author, Damien Lewis, doesn’t even believe Davies’ account because the man’s superiors told him by telephone during the attack to stay away from the compound. Simon & Schuster, the book’s publisher announced last Friday, “We are suspending the publication.” The company is asking stores to return any books that they have received.

As bad as the false report is 60 Minutes’ weak apology. After stating last Friday that the program would “correct the record on our broadcast on Sunday night,” Lara Logan gave a 90-second comment at the end of the show. This followed several days of CBS’s support of its story after Media Matters pointed out the holes in Davies’ story and Davies used other media outlets, including The Daily Beast, to defend himself against “smears.”

 The media about Logan’s Benghazi report error, a story that sent the GOP in Congress into another witchhunt, was equally shabby. Washington Post headlined its defense of her as “brutal criticism,” and the author of the piece, Paul Fahri, described her as “glamorous” with “striking looks” and “femininity.” Obviously enamored by her appearance as she trick-or-treated with her children on Halloween, he wrote that she “dressed in a hot-pink bodysuit costume, set off with high heels.” No discussion of the 60 Minutes debacle until the next page.

Fahri—and most other media—failed to point out that Logan’s original report was not only wrong but also seriously lacking information. Although Logan claimed that the report was over a year in the making, it didn’t discuss the country’s historic and violent transition in Libya at the time of the Benghazi attack. U.S. forces had helped to overthrow the Qaddafi regime with resulting disorder because of the revolution. She represented Libya as only a place with a diplomatic mission and brave men with only cowards in Washington.

The U.S. media is in a tragic situation when the best reporting comes from comedy shows The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. For the best in humor and accuracy, check here and here.

Somewhat chastised by the inability of 60 Minutes to provide accurate reporting on the subject near and dear to his heart, Graham is still clinging to his rationale for blocking the president’s nominees. When questioned on Sunday, he said, rather weakly, that he had “released” two nominees for ambassadors but would continue to block the others.

In his response to 60 Minutes’ error/sort-of apology, Jon Stewart also tackled the reference of Christie’s photo on Time‘s cover to “the elephant in the room.” Accompanying the media’s awkward description of Christie is the inability of hosts on media political “talk shows” to elicit any meaningful information from their subjects.

David Wiegel uses the four interviews of Christie last Sunday to show the fluff that pretends to be political interviews. Tim Russert, past host of Meet the Press, was worth watching. When then Sen. Barack Obama appeared on his show seven years ago, Russert didn’t ask him if he thought a black man could become president. Instead he referenced Obama’s book and began by asking him if legislators had an obligation to solve issues although they would benefit from staying “out of the way.” The interview continued with Russert quoting from Obama’s book and asking other policy questions.

The latest host of Meet the Press, David Gregory, is just the reverse of Russert. He started Christie’s interview with whether he planned to run for president and continued with others about what impact Christie might have on the GOP and how the party could be saved. About Medicaid, Gregory asked if conservatives would attack Christie for expanding it.

On This Week, George Stephanopoulos asked Christie about relieving sanctions on Iran. Christie said other people would know more, and Stephanopoulos immediately moved to another subject. In a discussion about immigration, Christie pontificates on the “broken” federal system with no interruption from the host and no follow-up question of how Kentucky was able to set up a largely trouble-free exchange.

On Face the Nation, Christie claimed he’s just the governor of New Jersey, and host Norah O’Donnell gave him a pass by asking him what lessons he has for the GOP and what goals he has for next year. When Christie brags about the people in his state not being “involved in this train wreck” of the Affordable Care Act, O’Donnell doesn’t point out that they are locked into the healthcare.gov system. Nor does she ask him why all his endorsed state GOP senate candidates lost.

As David Wiegel wrote:

“In not one of the interviews did Christie get a potentially irritating, but fact-based, question about whether his lack of coattails said anything about the limits of his appeal or strategy. He got no questions, really, that he’s never had to answer before—not on the Voting Rights Act, not on the gay rights bill moving through Congress, not on the minimum wage ballot measure that passed in New Jersey on the same day he was elected, nada, nothing.”

Graham’s desperation most likely comes from his up-coming re-election campaign. Instead of easily sliding back into office, he is opposed by—thus far—four Republicans in the primary on .The most recent one has some validity, having almost won lieutenant governor in 2012. With the contender a Democrat who has three Nevada felony convictions, the primary winner will probably go to the U.S. Senate.

For their failures, however, the media have no excuse!

April 20, 2013

GOP Politicians ‘Insensitivity’

A few days ago, my partner and I talked about how to describe Mark Sanford, candidate for the House of Representatives. She said “stupid,” and I thought perhaps “arrogant.” His words and actions are just another in the long line of  ignorant, clueless, naïve, self-serving, oblivious, dumb—the list goes on and on—statements from these people. For the sake of politeness, I’ll use the term “insensitive” to cover all these adjectives.

Back to Sanford. Most people in the country know him as the past governor of South Carolina who told people four years ago that he was hiking in the Appalachians to cover the fact that he had flown to Argentina for five days to visit his mistress. Public knowledge of his lies led to a rapid disintegration of his marriage and then a divorce. Nikki Haley became governor, and Sanford disappeared—for a while. This year, however, he is running for a House seat vacated by Tim Scott after Haley appointed him to Jim DeMint’s vacant seat.

Things looked pretty good for Sanford in his run against Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Until last week. The news that he had trespassed in his ex-wife’s house sent shock waves through his major donors from the NRCC to the Club for Growth, most of which dropped him like a hot potato. Yet the NRCC had no criticism for his illegal activities in entering a house without permission. They just said, “Mark Sanford has proven he knows what it takes to win elections. At this time the NRCC will not be engaged in the special election.”

What was Sanford’s excuse?

“I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14-year-old son because as a father I didn’t think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened.”

So Sanford was worried about just the second half the game, he referred to his ex-wife’s place as “the” beach house, and she was in town because she caught him sneaking out the back door.

Even conservative columnist Kathleen Parker has thrown Sanford under the bus, attributing Sanford’s behavior to “hubris.” Skipping the fact that she blamed his problems on the fact that his wife didn’t stand by him, Parker’s conclusion is right on target:

“Sanford’s lack of empathy for his family, not to mention his impeachable judgment, should disqualify him from further public service, an opinion apparently shared by the Republican National Committee, which recently withdrew support for his candidacy.”

On May 7, the nation will find out if the voters of South Carolina prefer a stalking, law-breaking candidate rather to a Democrat

Sanford isn’t alone, however, in his “insensitivity.” The bombing in Boston brought out the worst in several high-profile lawmakers.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is a lawyer, Air Force Reserve colonel, and member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps who led the impeachment of President Clinton because he believes in the “rule of the law.” Now he wants the perpetrator of the Boston bombing to be “held as an enemy combatant.” Graham wants a U.S. citizen captured in the U.S. to be deprived of his basic constitutional rights. This is the same man who considers those who massacre large numbers of people with high-powered weapons to have mental issues.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) took Sean Hannity’s Fox show as fact when Steve Emerson reported that unnamed “sources” told him that the U.S. government was secretly deporting the Saudi national suspect in the bombing. Presenting this conspiracy theory as fact, he criticized Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at a House hearing for doing this. When Napolitano said this wasn’t true, Duncan said, “He is being deported.” Duncan follows the conservatives of the United States when he gets all his information from the least reliable news network.

Even Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), usually a reasonable person, joined the insanity. She said, “Whenever we have an attack like this it’s difficult not to think that it’s somehow involved in Islamic extremism. I don’t have evidence to back that up. That’s just based on previous attacks.” Although it turned out that the two young men who allegedly set off the bombs are Muslims, there has been no “evidence” to show that it was connected to “Islamic extremism” any more than the mass murders by “Christians” were connected to “Christian extremism.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) argued, “We have people that are trained to act Hispanic when they are radical Islamists.” Rep. Steve King (R-IA) followed that up with trying the persuade people to drop the immigration bill that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented people. For him, one act of violence eliminates the possibility for anyone to again become a citizen in the United States except by birth.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told a national television audience on Tuesday that a “person of interest” in the Boston bombings “is in custody.” Law enforcement officials spent time explaining that he was wrong. McCaul also announced at a press conference that “we’ve been quite fortunate that this type of attack has not happened before in the U.S.” At the age of 51, McCaul could possibly be forgiven about the anarchist bombings in 1919 and 1920, including the wagon bomb that killed 38 people on Wall Street.

But where was he during the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the Unabomber in 1994, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the 1996 pipe bombs at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, the 1998 bomb at an Alabama abortion clinic in 1998, the 2000 arson attack at a Syracuse temple in 2000, the 18 pipe bombs planted in mailboxes in five states in 2002, the 2008 bomb at a military recruiting center in Times Square, the 2008 bomb at a San Diego courthouse, the 2008 fire bombs targeting researchers at UC Santa Cruz, and the 2011 attempted bombing of an MLK parade in Spokane. The last four happened since he became representative in 2005.

This last week was tragic in many ways, one of them the rejection by a minority of senators who managed to quell an amendment to require background checks for some people before purchasing weapons. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), who voted against requiring background checks has a solution “to do more to curb the senseless acts of violence that continue to occur in this country.” His answer:

“One of the things we need are parents, parents to be more careful and more repetitive at telling their kids that it is not right to kill people. It’s not even right to bully them. And it’s definitely not right for them to kill themselves. Until we can get that message across to our kids, I hope that we don’t rely on a few votes by this body to make everybody feel comfortable that all the problem is taken care of.”

If Enzi is right, we don’t need him or any other lawmakers; we just teach kids to do the right thing. Wouldn’t that be grand!

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