Nel's New Day

July 9, 2017

DDT’s European Trip Isolates U.S.

After embarrassing the United States for four days in Europe, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is home again. He had so many disasters that pundits referred  to the G-20 Summit as the “G-19 plus one.”

  • One major problem was DDT’s lack of hotel reservations for the grand event. He and Melania were forced to stay at the city of Hamburg’s Senate guest house.
  • Melania missed a photo session and a tour because protesters blocked their digs.
  • A brief talk with Russia’s Vladimir Putin lasted so long that White House staffers sent DDT’s wife in to end it; she failed, and the session lasted another hour.
  • Daughter Ivanka Trump took the place of real U.S. officials in replacing her father during a session called “Partnership with Africa, Migration and Health” so that DDT could meet with Putin. Former president of Mexico Vincente Fox Quesada tweeted that “a G20 summit isn’t a ‘bring your child to work and let her attend high level meetings’ day.”
  • Photos of DDT at the summit illustrate his goal to make America alone.  matches his own appearance at the event.
  • Another remarkable video shows Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, host of the summit, rolling her eyes at a patronizing Putin.

This collection of photos demonstrates how the United States has lost any relationship with allies, including this image of President Obama at the 2015 G7 summit.

Two events stood out during DDT’s four-day offshore trip in Europe: his visit to Poland and his meeting with Russia’s president.  DDT began his trip in an environment where he felt most comfortable: Poles were bused into Warsaw with the sole purpose of cheering DDT for his speech much like the ones he gives to xenophobic audiences in the United States. DDT’s popularity in Poland is actually 23 percent.

A major premise of the speech was the survival of the West against the Middle East (aka Christians against Muslims). DDT’s image of the terrorism conflict as a clash of civilizations has been avoided by both GOP and Democratic predecessors. The Trump manifesto seems to be the “dire threat” against Western civilization. The language comes directly from white supremacists Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller. DDT’s anti-Semitic audience were surely pleased when he was the first sitting president in decades to avoid a stop at Warsaw’s monument to the Jewish Ghetto uprising.

DDT is on the same page as Poland’s leading party, Law & Justice (PiS). The party has inundated civil service and diplomatic corps with their loyalists and weakened the judiciary’s independence. The national broadcaster is a mouthpiece of the state, and independent journalists are restricted. Together DDT and Polish president, Andrzej Duda, based the media with DDT repeating his mantra of “fake news.” The EU calls Polish reforms “a systemic risk to the rule of law.”

Conservative Jonathan Turley wrote about the exchange between DDT and Duda regarding their hatred for the media:

“To have such an exchange with a man like Putin about the free press is a truly low moment for our country.  The men and women in front of the two leaders represent a profession that has lost dozens of journalists who fought to publish the truth about the Putin regime. Thousands more have died around the world in the struggle for free speech and the free press.  I understand the need to deal with figures like Putin in diplomacy but commiserating with the likes of Vladimir Putin about the free press is a terrible image for any American president.  Putin is not a great man and the media is not the enemy.  We can (and should) criticize the media for their loss of objectivity but even casual moments like this one with Putin carry a chilling message both in Russia and the United States. There remain committed journalists in Russia who look to the United States as their ally in the fight for a free press.   For them, these comments must be chilling and demoralizing.”

As usual, DDT displayed his weak vocabulary during the speech—even when someone else wrote it—by describing the losses in Poland during World War II as “tough” and “trouble.” Almost six million Poles, about 20 percent of the country’s population, died during the war.

Possibly worse than DDT’s speech was his press conference before the speech. In opposition to U.S. intelligence reports, he continued to claim that “nobody really knows” who was responsible for the cyberattacks around the November 2016 election and refused to admit that Russia was responsible. “It could have been other people in other countries,” he said. Yet he kept laying the blame on President Obama for something that he wouldn’t admit had happened. His claim that only “three or four” agencies believed that Russia was responsible. These agencies are the FBI, CIA, and NSA; no others disagreed, and some weren’t involved. In the conference, Polish officials cut off NBC reporter Hallie Jackson’s mike to keep her from asking a follow-up question.

Once again, DDT’s staff disagrees with his perception. In an interview for State of the Union, the nation’s UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, said, “Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections.” Her comments followed DDT’s amicable meeting with Putin on Friday. Haley continued by explaining that Russia is meddling “across multiple continents … in a way that they’re trying to cause chaos within the countries.”

Still reeling from DDT’s denial that Russia meddled in the U.S. election, people of the U.S. watched him go into a long meeting with Putin. Only four people attended with the two leaders—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and two translators. No one took notes, and only Russians reported much of what happened in the two and a half hours. Headlines have declared that DDT “confronted” Putin, but the end result did not seem like a confrontation. Supposedly DDT questioned Putin about the meddling. Putin said he didn’t have anything to do it and followed that with the statement that DDT agreed with him.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin didn’t attend the meeting but repeatedly said that DDT “handled it brilliantly.” Putin followed earlier statements by claiming that Russia and the United States agreed to work together to “prevent interference in the domestic affairs of foreign states, primarily in Russia and the U.S.” Tillerson said that the two leaders selected officials to collaborate on a resolution to the Ukraine conflict and reached a “de-escalation agreement” about part of Syria near Daraa and Quneitra.

Even Republicans are disgusted with DDT’s plan to team with Putin in creating a “cyber security unit.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “I am sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort since he’s doing the hacking.” Once again, bad press may have forced DDT to back down on his idea. Today he tweeted, “The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the partnership isn’t “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close.” On the other hand, Mnuchin called the idea “a very significant accomplishment for President Trump.” He wants to “coordinate with Russia.”

Putin picked up popularity in the United States with DDT’s election, but it’s receding again, perhaps because of the hacking reports. Meanwhile, the number of Russian spies gathering intelligence in the United States has gone up to at least 150 from temporary duty visas issued by the DDT administration. Law enforcement officials have reported that some Russian diplomats are violating protocol by leaving the Washington, D.C. area with notifying the State Department. President Obama had shut down Russian compounds in December that were allegedly outfitted with high-power surveillance equipment and evicted 35 spies. Officials say that countering the threat is difficult because DDT doesn’t accept intelligence information about Russian meddling.

DDT completed his embarrassing four days by referring to his “wonderful relationship” with Xi Jinping. The White House used the wrong title for Xi, however. Instead of his correct title, president of the People’s Republic of China, he was identified as president of the Republic of China, the official name for Taiwan. The elected leader of Taiwan is Tsai Ing-wen, the most powerful woman in the Chinese-speaking world and one of Xi Jinpin’s greatest rivals. DDT is currently trying to persuade China to pressure North Korea for the U.S. benefit.

As always, Melania Trump looked lovely in her expensive fashion designs, but she shouldn’t try to wear them on Capitol Hill. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is reinforcing a patriarchal ban on sleeveless clothes for women—at least female reporters—in the speaker’s lobby. Although many conservatives have poo-pooed the story, report, Independent Journal Review‘s Haley Byrd was refused entrance. She was offered a cardigan but also told that open-toed shoes are also a no-no.

February 24, 2017

DDT: Week Five – Part 1

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) can make his supporters believe anything—including a fondness for a country that conservatives have traditionally hated. Since 2015, approval of Vladimir Putin has increased 20 points to 32 percent among Republicans and 11 points to 23 percent among Independents. Putin’s popularity with Democrats has decreased five points to ten percent. The 32 percent is the highest since 2003 when George W. Bush looked into Putin’s eyes and liked what he saw—before he didn’t. Conservatives like Putin in spite of—or perhaps because of—the Russian hacking to influence the presidential election, Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, suppression of the press, brutality toward LGBTQ people, murders of people opposed to Putin, lack of free elections, violation of the nuclear treaty, and national control by oligarchs.

FBI Director James Comey got DDT elected, and now the White House wants Comey’s help to keep DDT in the White House by telling reporters that the connection between DDT’s campaign staff and Russia weren’t true. The communication violates a Department of Justice memo during George W. Bush’s time that the White House should advise the department on criminal and civil enforcement “only where it is important for the performance of the president’s duties and where appropriate from a law enforcement perspective.” DDT still has Attorney General Sessions in his pocket to keep the current DOJ from investigating him, but the GOP legislators are getting antsy about the situation after their crowd’s anger expressed during the “Resistance Recess.”

DDT also asked legislators to tell reporters that he has no ties to Russia, and they did it. Last week, senior lawmakers, who should be in charge of investigating the Trump-Russia connections called news organizations and challenged these stories. This is not a rumor; the lawmakers admitted that they called the reporters to dismiss the information of DDT associates’ contacts with Russia as infrequent and inconsequential. Press secretary Sean Spicer said the White House asked the legislators to do this, but he claimed that there was nothing wrong with asking them to contact reporters and tell them what DDT wanted. Two members of Congress who followed DDT’s orders are Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees. Nunes has refused to investigate the Russian connection.

In the Washington Post Greg Miller and Adam Entous wrote:

“U.S. intelligence reports cite multiple contacts between members of Trump’s team and Russians with links to the Kremlin, during the campaign and afterward, according to officials who have seen them. Such reports were based on intercepted Russian communications and other sources, the officials said.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who has seen this information as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, concluded that the investigation “may very well be the most important thing I do in my public life.”

Other DDT news from the past week:

DDT Cooks the Books: DDT has figured out how he can prove his GDP growth target of 3 to 3.5 percent a year: just start with that fantasy number and then put in statistics to show that it’s right. Forget the old-fashioned way of figuring out how policies either increase or decrease the rate. DDT’s projections are at least one percentage point above the consensus reality projection. DDT also told economists to change the way that the trade deficit is calculated by omitting as exports anything that is imported and then sold to another country. For example, a car sold to a company in the United States from Mexico and then re-sold to one in Canada is considered only an import and not an export which inflates the overall trade deficit. DDT plans to use his artificial system to rail against trade deals or demand border taxes. It’s hard to understand why he bothers to create this system  because he invents his own numbers for anything, for example citing a $800 billion deficit when it’s only $500 billion. He also consistently argued that the employment rate of 4.6 percent is, in Trumpland, 42 percent because he includes everyone without a job such as retirees, college students, and many other people who don’t want jobs.

DDT Reduces Military Child Care: DDT’s promised to provide “all men and women in uniform [with] the supplies, support, equipment, training, services, medical care, and resources they need to get the job done incredibly well and perfectly.” But DDT’s hiring freeze has caused at least two Army bases to suspend childcare programs including preschool. An exemption in the hiring freeze includes “child care to the children of military personnel,” but another Army memo has caused personnel shortages by putting another layer of bureaucracy on its already burdensome hiring system.

Christie Turns DDT Down: The New Jersey governor has crawled to get crumbs from DDT, but the meatloaf may have been the last straw. On Valentine’s Day, Christie lunched at the White House and was told that he would have the meatloaf. Then DDT asked Christie if he wanted to be the Labor Secretary after Andrew Pudzer left in disgrace—hard to do when one considers DDT’s nominees. Christie said no. He’s considering a gig as host of a sports talk radio show when his term has expired.

DDT Employees Fail Background Checks: Gerrit Lansing, White House Chief Digital Officer, is only one of at least six staffers dismissed because they failed their FBI checks. Some of them were “walked out of the building by security” because they could not muster security clearance. Caroline Wiles, director of scheduling and daughter of DDT’s Florida campaign director, was one of those who left, but she said she’ll get another job in Treasury.

Conway Gets in Hot Water: DDT’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, had been pulled from doing interviews after White House officials claimed that she repeatedly made statements “at odds with the administration’s official stance.”  Even DDT sycophant Joe Scarborough said she wouldn’t be on The Morning Show because she didn’t tell the truth—although he didn’t use the “T” word. Now 15 law professors have filed a professional misconduct complaint against her, calling on Conway to be sanctioned for violating government ethics rules and “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

Among other concerns, the complaint cited Conway’s lie that President Obama had “banned” Iraq refugees from coming into the country for six months after the non-existent “Bowling Green Massacre” and for her hawking Ivanka Trump’s products. Another issue was her claim that the White House put forth “alternative facts.” The filing stated, “Alternative facts are not facts at all; they are lies.” The complaint stated that Conway “is currently acting in a way that brings shame upon the legal profession.” One of the filers, Abbe Smith, said she had never before filed a complaint and goes not generally believe that lawyers should face discipline under the stated rule, which includes conduct outside the practice of law, but called Conway’s conduct “so outside the norm for a member of the legal profession.”

DDT’s Conflicts of Interest, Profit Making from the Presidency Continues: No new businesses. That was DDT’s promise in January. Sons, Eric and Donald, Jr. cost the taxpayers more big bucks on their weekend in Dubai when they opened a new Trump golf course. The club still hasn’t gotten its liquor license from the United Arab Emirates which means that DDT will need to provide his standard “pay for play” deal. The government also has to provide all the club’s services including water and roads. It’s a guarantee that the sons will take part in the negotiations. DDT deals are pending in India, Indonesia, Uruguay, and Canada, and another one may be created in the Dominican Republic where Eric visited on February 2. Meanwhile, DDT’s DC hotel, another illegal venture at this time, was bankrolled by Deutsch Bank, currently under DOJ investigation. At least, taxpayers can follow the plans because we pay for Secret Service to follow Eric and Donald Jr. everywhere.

China may be breaking its own laws by giving trademarks to DDT, something that they refused to do until DDT achieved the candidacy for president. Once again DDT may have violated the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which bars public servants from accepting anything of value from foreign states unless approved by Congress. The one trademark that DDT received for construction services, but he’s wants them for condoms, toilets, and many other items. DDT brings a new definition to presidential dignity.

In a movement toward further dictatorship, DDT is blocking reputable news outlets from Spicer’s briefings. The Huffington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times CNN, Politico, Buzzfeed, and reporters from several foreign news outlets were not allowed in this afternoon’s closed-door briefing. Associated Press and Time boycotted in the meeting because of that decision. A reporter from Wall Street Journal attended but said that he would not go again if other outlets were excluded.

Before DDT’s inauguration, Spicer had said that he might skip televised briefings in exchange for off-camera briefing or gaggle with reporters. Yet in December, Spicer said that news organizations can’t be banned from the White House because “that’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.” At least he understands what he’s doing. Conservative, tabloid-type outlets such as Breitbart, Washington Times, and One American News Network were still allowed to attend.

The other big story today was the report from the Department of Homeland Security refutes the need for DDT’s Muslim ban. But that’s a story for tomorrow.

 

November 6, 2016

Vote for Clinton, Save the Nation

Filed under: Presidential campaign — trp2011 @ 6:10 PM
Tags: , ,

Two days before the 2016 presidential election, FBI James Comey has announced in a letter to 16 Congressional members that his agency has found nothing illegal regarding Hillary Clinton in the 650,000 emails found on Anthony Wiener’s laptop. The news comes at a time when Clinton stays four percent above Trump, and the odds in her favor are rising in polls and betting. The FBI’s review of these emails has been completed, according to Comey’s letter.

Clinton’s email has always been a big deal because the media uses the topic to make money by pushing the idea that she’s “untrustworthy,” again addressed this morning on Meet the Press. The fact that Trump’s unfavorable rating is far higher than that of Clinton is rarely raised. Instead the supposedly “liberal” media has spent whatever time they don’t concentrate on Trump to brainwash the public about Hillary hatred.

In April 2015, Clinton had a 50-percent favorability rating. Within four months of announcing her candidacy, the majority switched to unfavorable. One reason for the shirt is misogyny: many people in the country think that a woman should not be president shown by her favorability rating of 25 percent among white men.

Both NBC and PBS, supposedly “liberal,” presented pre-debate programs talking about how both candidates go “low” while complaining about how Clinton boringly concentrates on the specifics of policy and fails to have some sort of “message” such as the false one from Trump. Clinton behaves like a serious candidate and Trump acts like a realty show huckster, but the media constantly equates them.

While Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump received positive  coverage, the media tore down Clinton—an average of 10 negative stories to one positive one, worse when one considers the email stories. The fascination of Clinton’s emails on the profit-focused media also serious errors such as the FBI conducting a criminal investigation into Clinton. That myth returned with Comey’s announcement last week; even a serious journalist from the Washington Post falsely claimed that Comey had “re-opened” the email case. NBC failed to look at its own reporting when professing to lack understanding in her popularity drop.

A favorite media ploy  is to avoid showing people who love and admire Hillary Clinton. Its message is that the only reason to vote for Clinton is that the alternative is worse. Yet millions of voters admire her hard work and her intellect. They realize that a good president does need to be charming  like George W. Bush or funny  like Barack Obama or even perfect candidate like—I don’t know any. These people know Clinton’s past—the woman who fought for the rights of migrant farmworkers, the lawyer who worked with the Children’s Defense Fund and forced the state of Alabama to allow disabled students to attend school, the First Lady who created a plan to make health care accessible for all people in the country, a plan destroyed by Republicans because they were afraid that Democrats might get credit for it.

Clinton was elected twice to the U.S. Senate, and her colleagues respected her and got along with her. Her favorability was 60 percent when she was Secretary of State.

People see Clinton as flawed because she always has dreams and vision, she considered herself as her husband’s equal when she scuttled her plans to move to his home state, she was never a traditional First Lady when she reformed the state’s public education system and tried to expand healthcare. Some people hate Clinton for her ambition, yet prize that characteristic in her opponent. Writers call her a liar when she has the highest truth-telling rating of any presidential candidate for decades and of almost all other politicians. Opponents know that the only way she can be defeated is to be guilty of something—anything. When they can’t find the guilt, they make up offenses or just use terms in a general way with no backing.

Clinton used a private server because the State Department IT system was out of date, possibly hacked which it was. No one broke into Clinton’s system although opponents claimed they did, using the excuse that any server used that much had to have been hacked. She committed no crime, but she apologized—again and again. Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, is fond of accusing Clinton for breaking up her Blackberry with a hammer, but that’s State Department policy. She was following the guidelines.

In her article in Atlantic, Chimamanda Adichie wrote:

“Hillary Clinton is a knowledgeable, well-prepared, reasonable, experienced, even-tempered, hardworking candidate, while her opponent is a stubbornly uninformed demagogue who has been proven again and again to be a liar on matters big and small. There is no objective basis on which to equate Hillary Clinton to her opponent.”

People complain that Clinton is too cautious, yet the media always turns against any spontaneity. Journalists take her words out of context and turn them against her before they accuse her of being insincere because she appears stiff. In one interview, Clinton has talked about how she learned how to control her emotions when she was a young women because her career was primarily male. She had to work hard to not look “weak” because she wouldn’t show the strength to accomplish what men do, but then she’s accused of being hard and unemotional.

Since Trump went down the escalator and announced his candidacy, the media has graded Trump on a low curve and raised the bar high for Clinton. CNN’s Dana Bash was blunt about the way the media favors Trump:

“The stakes are much higher in this debate and all the debates for Hillary Clinton because the expectations are higher for her because she’s a seasoned politician. She’s a seasoned debater. You know, yes we saw Donald Trump in the primaries debate for the first time, but he is a first-time politician. So um, for lots of reasons. Maybe it’s not fair, but that’s the way it is. The onus is on her.”

In essence, having an amateur as the president of the United States is just fine with the media. After the second town hall following the first presidential candidate, any “bar” for Trump totally disappeared. He “won” the debate because he wasn’t the total buffoon from the first debate.

During just one week in September, Clinton gave speeches about her mental health plan, foreign policy, and U.S. exceptionalism. The media focused on Trump’s immigration flip-flopping. This week was the pattern for all the media coverage as it gave Trump billions of dollars of free air time, mostly positive or neutral until the media panicked in late summer, and bashed Clinton.

Last summer, the conservative Washington Post finally realized how bad Donald Trump is  and endorsed Clinton for president.  These are excerpts from the editorial board’s endorsement:

“There is no equivalence between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton—as even responsible Republicans should be able to recognize. Ms. Clinton is a knowledgeable politician who has been vetted many times over. She understands and respects the U.S. Constitution. She knows policy. She can cite accomplishments in the public interest, such as pressing through an important children’s health insurance program during her husband’s administration. As a senator, she was respected by colleagues on both sides of the aisle. She completed four years as secretary of state to generally positive reviews. She began her presidential campaign by rolling out a series of serious policy papers.

“Mr. Trump, by contrast, has waged a campaign based on bigotry, ignorance and resentment. He has no experience as a public servant, and his private record of bankruptcies and exploitation should be disqualifying. He regularly circulates falsehoods. He has no discernible interest in or knowledge of policy…. He called one sitting senator a loser and threatened another while proving that he lacks even a passing familiarity with the Constitution. He praised one of the most vile dictators of the 20th century….

“Even if Mr. Trump flipped his agenda — not a problem for a man with almost no fixed beliefs — he would still be the candidate who mocked a disabled reporter, proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States, attacked a judge based on his ethnicity, celebrated violence at his rallies, demeaned women and promised to round up and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants . He would still be the candidate who vaulted to political prominence with race-based attacks on the incumbent president and launched his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists.”

For the first time in its history, Foreign Policy broke tradition and endorsed Clinton:

“She is an extraordinarily gifted woman who would make an excellent president. She would come to office with more foreign-policy experience than any president since George H. W. Bush….  Moreover, since her earliest days as a lawyer and advocate, she has been known and respected for her brilliant mind, her studiousness, her mastery of her brief. She is known to engender great loyalty among her staff. She is a listener, an empowerer, someone who has a reputation for wanting to be told the truth. I have met with her many times and have cultivated this view over years of writing about her and the administrations in which she has served. I can honestly say that she may be the most impressive candidate for president and one of the most impressive public figures I have ever met. If she were running against the best of the Republican Party, she would deserve to win.”

The media should have figured that out a year ago instead of making money by taking cheap shots at one of the best presidential candidates in history. Hopefully, it’s not too late for them to salvage the nation.

July 27, 2016

Hillary Wins, Bill’s Photo on Front Pages

Last night Hillary Clinton broke through a glass ceiling when she was nominated the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate–the first woman named by a major political party for a presidential candidate. The first crack in that ceiling, however, came 136 years ago when Victoria Woodhull ran for the presidency in 1872, almost 50 years before women could legally vote for the president. That didn’t happen until 1920 after the 19th Amendment was ratified. With a platform of women’s suffrage and equal rights for women, Woodhull ran for the Equal Rights Party. She was paired with Frederick Douglass, former escaped slave and abolitionist author and speaker, against GOP Ulysses S. Grant and Democrat Horace Greeley. Obviously she lost, and her party picked Belva Ann Lockwood for its candidate 12 years later. No woman appeared on the presidential ticket until Geraldine Ferro was the vice-presidential candidate in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008.

Since Woodhull, other women have tried for the presidency. The first one on the ballot was Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) who got 22 delegate votes from four states in 1964. Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-NY), the first black person to run for the Democratic nomination, got 151.95 delegate votes from 26 states in 1972. The only other woman to receive delegate votes in a Democratic campaign, Ellen McCormack, got 27 delegate votes from five states in 1976. Women who did not run in the primaries for President have also got delegate votes at the Democratic Conventions: Barbara Jordan, 1 (1976); Koryne Horbal, 5 (1980); Martha Kirkland, 1 (1984); and Patricia Schroeder, 8 (1992).

The first women who appeared on the presidential ticket for a major political party were vice-presidential candidates—Geraldine Ferro in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008. Yesterday, however, Hillary Clinton garnered 2,842 delegate votes—2,205 of them pledged—compared to the 1,846 pledged delegates and 48 super delegates for Bernie Sanders. Fifty-five votes were abstentions. Clinton also Clinton won 16.8 million votes to 13.2 million for Sanders, about 55 percent of the vote to his 43 percent for a 12 percentage point gap.

Much was said from the Sanders’ side about the “rigged” election, but Sanders gained many of his delegate votes from caucuses, which do not represent the vote of these states. In fact, the two states that had both primaries and caucuses, Nebraska and Washington, showed that the majority of people voting in primaries supported Clinton although the Sanders picked up more votes from the caucuses in those states.

Clinton

Those who think that the mainstream media has lost its sexism, however, should look at the photos on the front pages of major newspapers from the Wall Street Journal in New York to San Diego—moving through Washington, Detroit, Wisconsin, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco—on up to Alaska. These newspapers put photos of Bill Clinton instead of the new Democratic presidential nominee, evidently believing that a male visual is more important than one of a female. The Oregonian, the largest newspaper in my state, went safe with a photograph of a man taking a back flip off a tree trunk into the water.

Trump photos make the front pages of newspapers when he’s done nothing; Hillary Clinton is overlooked despite her phenomenal background of public service. This reporting is sexism at its greatest. The Wall Street Journal did finally figure out its mistake and changed later editions. The Dallas Morning News was one of the few newspapers that understood the significance of yesterday’s Democratic nomination for the presidential candidate.

Dallas Morning News

An interesting Wal-Mart story: In 1995, one of its Miramar (FL) stores pulled a popular T-shirt proclaiming “Someday a woman will be president” off its shelves. The store had sold about two-thirds of its 204 shirts before they were pulled , and a Wal-Mart spokeswoman explained that a customer had complained. Jane Bockholt said:

“It was determined the T-shirt was offensive to some people and so the decision was made to pull it from the sales floor.”

rubenAnn Moliver Ruben, a 70-year-old psychologist when she created the shirt, designed the shirt with the child character Margaret from the cartoon strip Dennis the Menace. The figure making the proclamation had a big smile and her arms spread wide. Ruben had purchased the rights to use the drawing of Margaret and sold the shirts to women’s groups for between $10 and $15 before approaching Wal-Mart.

Protests forced the shirt back on the shelves, but Wal-Mart didn’t carry it long, saying that it didn’t sell. Recently, Ruben wrote a letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette describing the similarities between Dennis the Menace to Donald Trump. Today, the day after Hillary Clinton has become the Democratic presidential candidate, her shirt and her letter are even more appropriate. Right now there are none of these shirts for sale, but they may reappear soon!

Here’s part of that letter with the accompanying visual.

trump“Take a look at Dennis. He says he doesn’t know what a crepe suzette is but he knows that 8-year-old Margaret is a creep. He tells Margaret that he was her valentine last year and “haven’t I suffered enough?” When Margaret tells him she wants to be a nurse, he tells her, “You’d have plenty of work … you make people sick.” Finally, as Margaret is shown playing the accordion, he tells his 3-year-old friend, Joey, “She is no good at makin’ cookies, either.” Can’t you hear Donald Trump telling — what’s her name — that her face would stop a clock?

“Only Donald Trump, acting like 5-year-old Dennis, would mimick a disabled journalist and propose banning Muslims from entering this country and building a wall that Mexico would pay for. Unfortunately, he is incapable of owning up to the problems his words and his behavior cause.”

Thanks, Ms. Ruben! Now make more of those shirts!

March 21, 2016

The U.S. Needs Another Frances Perkins

 

A century ago, the United States suffered from horrendous income inequality, rampant disease, atrocious living conditions, debtor prisons, and warehouses of mentally ill people. Although some people lived well in the 1920s, GOP president Herbert Hoover in his first elected position, drove the country into the greatest economic depression in its 250-year history through his pro-business and anti-government beliefs. Anti-civil rights, he appealed to white Southern voters with his use of religion in his campaign that warned people against voting a Catholic into the presidency. By the end of his four-year term, Hoover understood that his drastic tax cuts contributed to the disaster of the 1930s, but his change was too little, too great. Franklin D. Roosevelt was swept into office with an over 57 percent mandate.

FDR is typically given credit for the New Deal, beginning in his first 100 days, that instituted Social Security, minimum wage, work-hour limitations, CCC, etc.  Two people behind this 180-degree transition from Hoover’s catastrophic policies were two women—FDR’s wife, Eleanor, and the first woman in a presidential cabinet, Francis Perkins, who FDR appointed after his wife’s urging.

Perkins’ activism began in 1911 when she witnessed the deaths of 146 workers, primarily young Jewish and Italian women, during the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Horrified as she watched many of them die when they jumped from the fire, Perkins helped shape 30 pieces of legislation in fire safety and working conditions during Al Smith’s four terms as New York governor of New York, the most progressive governor in the nation. Perkins continued her work in New York in 1929 after that state’s new governor, FDR, picked her for Commissioner of Labor. During that time, she showed that Hoover’s claim of improving unemployment was false and moved FDR into national leadership.

frances perkins bookPossibly the best book about Perkins is Kirstin Downey’s The Woman behind the New Deal. The opening paragraphs of the book illustrates Perkins’ dedication to her cause in her conditions of FDR’s offer to become his Secretary of Labor:

“She ticked off the items: a forty-hour work week, a minimum wage, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, a federal law banning child labor, direct federal aid for unemployment relief, Social Security, a revitalized public employment service, and health insurance.”

FDR accomplished all these and more during his first of four terms: the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration putting millions of unemployed men to work, and the Civil Works Administration and the Public Works Administration that evolved into the Works Progress Administration.

Created during World War I, FDR’s “NRA” (National Recovery Act) was a way to “stabilize” prices that gave workers higher wages and the right to organize and collectively bargain in unions. Unfortunately, it didn’t go far enough because of the government’s lack of enforcement and toleration for labor inequalities—blacks and women could receive lower wages for doing the same job as men. Other weaknesses came from large companies that led writing the bill and used it to drive up prices, limit production, lay off workers, and divide markets among themselves at expense of smaller competitors. Even so, it moved the nation forward until the Supreme Court ruled the NRA unconstitutional in 1935. Other similar laws took its place but not before successful programs were interrupted.

FDR’s death was the end of Perkins’ great influence. President Harry Truman remembered that Perkins had given him his first federal job and fired her. She asked to be head of the Social Security program, but instead Truman made her one of three Federal Civil Service Commissioners. She resigned that position after her husband died and she no longer had to support him and her daughter, both bipolar. Perkins worked into her 80s, teaching at Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations School. Her last lecture was two weeks before she died.

 

inequalityA century after Perkins began her reforms, the U.S. has the worst inequality in the developed world. The new Robber Barons have rolled levels back to the 18th century to where it’s more severe than it was in 1774.

Labor union membership shrank to 11.8 percent of the total workforce and only 6.6 percent of the private sector—percentages equal to 1900.

mentally illMentally ill people are now warehoused in prisons after being turned out on the streets instead of held in mental institutions. The three biggest jail systems—Cook County (IL), Los Angeles County, and New York City—have over 11,000 prisoners under treatment each day compared to the combined 4,000 beds in the three largest state-run mental hospitals.

Private companies now make money off prisons just like a century ago when private companies made profits off Convict Leasing—prisoners employed outside prison during the day and returned at night. Abuse, brutality, and neglect along with official corruption so rampant that prisoners barely survived longer than ten years, calling for more labor. Simple assault led to eight year sentences of hard labor, larceny was 20 year in prison, and stealing $5 of goods meant 12 months jail time–sentences mostly for black people.

Prison privatization leads to contracts with “occupancy guarantees” mandating a minimum number of occupied beds for prisoners, leading to the same abusive treatment as a century ago. At least 65 percent of all private prison contracts have such guarantees; Arizona has a 100-percent guarantee. With an imprisonment rate of almost 50 percent higher than Russia and 320 percent higher than China, the U.S. incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation. This nation imprisons more types of criminal offenders, including non-violent and drug offenders, and keeps them imprisoned longer than other developed countries. Prison overcrowding leads to putting violent offenders with non-violent prisoners. Many states face fiscal crises because of paying $20,000 to $30,000 per year for each prisoner. Five states pay more for prisons than higher education.

In 2010, just two prison corporations made $3 billion in profit. Judges have been found taking bribes for these companies to harshly sentence juvenile offenders—two judges making $2.6 million—because they provide the best labor.

The U.S. prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, uniforms, belts and shoulder belts, vests, ID cards, shirts, pants, tents, backpacks and flasks for the country`s army. In addition, prisons produce 98 percent of installation tools; 46 percent of bulletproof vests; 36 percent of home appliances; 30 percent of headphones, microphones, megaphones; and 21 percent of office furniture, aircraft and medical equipment; etc. (Imagine the low rate of unemployment if companies had to hire non-prisoners to make these items!)

Self-financing prisons means no economic pressure to close them. Corporate interests want to keep as many people in prison as possible.

Judges create debtor prisons by jailing people with no money to pay fines. Debtor prisons were abolished by federal and some state laws in the 1830s, and three Supreme Court rulings have declared that debtor prisons are unconstitutional. Yet almost one-third of the states permit poor people in prison for failure to pay even minor fines. These 15 states have the highest incarceration rates. With “poverty penalties”—late fees, payment plan fees, interest, etc.—people cannot pay their way out of prison. Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, and Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. People have no right to a public defender in some Florida county collection courts.

Public health almost eradicated such diseases as whooping cough, mumps, rubella, polio, and TB, but that success is being reversed. The religious right’s War on Science rejecting vaccinations and the loss of funding for public health is exposing people to a return of these and other diseases.

Monopolies were broken up a century ago because they are a threat to both economy and democracy, but the country no longer protects anti-trust enforcement. The result is loss of labor unions, increase in cost of living, and stagnating economy. Monopoly wipes out competition, but Milton Freedman and Alan Greenspan said that monopolies are good for free markets. Standard Oil and AT&T are back in control, and Monsanto monopolizes seed production.

Media monopolies are supporting oligarchies. Nine-nine percent of the 1,500 daily newspapers are the only one in each city. All but a handful of the 11,800 cable systems are monopolies in their cities. Just a few formats dominate the 11,000 commercial radio stations in all the cities. Only a few meagerly financed public stations offer any alternative to the four commercial television networks and their affiliates. Wall Street is a prize monopoly.

The nation’s Gilded Age of a century ago was characterized by excessive corporate influence, blatant corruption, and wars that made money for huge companies. For over 35 years, the U.S. sent Marines to overthrow governments to Central America and the Caribbean because they couldn’t pay debts to Wall Street banks. The wars stopped in 1934, the year that the Glass-Steagall Act regulated Wall Street. Now the oil and weapons corporations are making money off the Middle East. Iraq’s domestic oil industry, fully nationalized and closed to Western oil companies before George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion, is now largely privatized and completely dominated by foreign firms.

After decades of building the country’s infrastructure, the middle class, care for the mentally ill, and the reduction of poverty for the elderly, the government, now largely controlled by Republicans who declare gridlock if they don’t get everything they want, are killing the United States through corporate greed in prisons and wars. A century ago, Theodore Roosevelt began the great expansion of national parks; now the GOP wants to sell off all these lands. Ecological activists made inroads in the destruction of this nation until “conservatives” began to take over in the last half century.

Frances Perkins changed the United States and brought it into the 20th century; Republicans have taken this nation back to the 19th century. We need another Frances Perkins.

October 8, 2013

Day Eight of the Government Shutdown: Congress Getting Paychecks

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:59 PM
Tags: , , ,

Last week, the House GOP sent this note to the people of the United States:

We have your economy.  If you ever want to see it again, pay very close attention.

You will agree to the following:

A one year delay of Obamacare. Drilling fossil fuels on public land. Tort Reform. While you’re at it, we want you to cut Medicare and Medicaid.

This is not a negotiation. Do what we say or we will shut down the government and default on the national debt.

Signed,

The House GOP Majority

After eight days of federal government shutdown, 70% disapprove of GOP behavior in their holding the country hostage. The shutdown costs at least $300 million a day: that’s almost $1 billion every three days. The shutdown can shave 1.4 percent off economic input. If the shutdown isn’t stopped within four weeks, it can cost the economy $55 billion through the loss of paychecks for furloughed workers ($1 billion a week); reduction in federal spending ($8 billion); shuttered national parks ($76 million); and billions in tax revenue.

The end result is an increase in the federal deficit. Because of the improving economy, the deficit was expected to shrink to its smallest shortfall since before the recession. Now the deficit reverses because of loss of tax revenue and the cost for agencies to implement the shutdown. The last Congressional crisis, over sequestration, resulted in a $4.5 billion in lost revenue, not to mention stagnating consumer spending from the mass furloughs.

A short shutdown history:

The House demanded last spring that if the Senate didn’t pass a budget, senators would not be paid. The Senate passed a budget in April, and, the House GOP blocked any negotiation 18 times. When the deadline of October 1 neared, the GOP made a series of demands to defund or delay Obamacare before passing a budget and keeping the government open.

Dan Froomkin pointed out the problems that the media have caused in its inaccurate reporting about the shutdown. The trend in journalism is increasingly neutrality rather than accuracy. As politicians become more extreme with little or no media criticism, they move farther to the right and become even more extreme. In their attempt to ride the middle of the road, reporters continue to veer to the right to avoid taking sides. MSNBC’s Chuck Todd claimed that fact-checking isn’t the job of a journalist, as if he only needs to be a scribe of what everyone says. As Froomkin wrote:

“The political press should be the public’s first line of defense when it comes to assessing who is deviating from historic norms and practices, who is risking serious damage to the nation, whose positions are based in irrational phobias and ignorance rather than data and reason.

“In the current political climate, journalistic false equivalence leads to an insufficiently informed electorate, because the public is not getting an accurate picture of what is going on. Blaming everyone—Congress, both sides, Washington—is simply the path of least resistance for today’s political reporters. It’s a way of avoiding conflict rather than taking the risk that the public—or their editors—will accuse them of being unprofessionally partisan.

“The shutdown is not generalized dysfunction or gridlock or stalemate. It is aberrational behavior by a political party that is willing to take extreme and potentially damaging action to get its way. And by not calling it what it is, the political press is enabling it.”

A response to Froomkin’s piece recommended that everyone should read Helen Thomas’ book, Watchdogs of Democracy? The Wanting Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed The Public.

Radio host Mark Levin exemplifies the inaccuracy of the far-right when he said, “This is not the plague. It’s not riots and violence in the streets. There’s some inconvenience, not for everybody but for some people. Some people being furloughed. Some people losing their paychecks.”

He’s wrong, and he should have been called out for this falsehood. The almost 9 million mothers and families who lost their safety network may have gone to churches and private food banks for help, places that are already stretched far too thin to help others. Without money for those who use the safety network, supermarkets suffer great losses in income, and Medicaid spending shoots up because babies need food to be healthy. Other affected people are boat-owners, golfers, gun-purchasers, visa applicants, factory workers, employers who cannot use DHS’s e-Verify program, and people who expect tax refunds. 

Those who are not affected by the shutdown are people who are not veterans, students, or travelers. They need to grow all their own food and take no medications, have no illnesses and live someplace that is not not subject to any pollution. Hopefully, they live in a cave in case terrorists attack. They should have no stocks, savings, etc. in case the financial market decides to crash. They can’t own farms, and they shouldn’t want to purchase any real estate.  Forget owning small businesses–they have no way to get loans or sell anything.

After a few days of shutdown, the GOP figured out that government might be important and picked the most obvious pieces, trying to open those small pieces, even ones that they had fought in the past. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said, “We’re trying to ease the pain here.” The ones that they picked are national parks (people complained), cancer research (they have families with serious illnesses), veterans benefits (not having those looks really bad), and disaster relief (there might be a hurricane bearing down on Louisiana but no one knows because NOAA is closed down). Last week, GOP House members dressed in scrubs for a rally urging Democrat senators to provide temporary funding for the National Institutes of Health.

In 2011, Cantor threatened to withhold disaster relief funding without budget cuts to offset its costs, but last week FEMA became one of the seven more essential federal agencies that the House wants to re-open. This week, House Republicans plan to vote for temporary funding for Head Start after trying to cut the program by more than $1 billion in their budget. Many Congressional Republicans have also declared their aids as “essential” workers so that they can keep their offices open.

A major speaking point from House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has been to have a conference meeting to discuss how to open the government. His complaint is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) won’t appoint conferees.  Two days before he started his complaining, however, Reid offered to do just that. Reid’s only condition was that the government re-open during negotiations. Boehner refused.

Tomorrow the House plans to vote on a bill to pay essential federal employees, those who kept working after the shutdown, during the shutdown rather than waiting until the end of the impasse. The House also has a new plan to solve the shutdown problem: a supercommittee of House and Senate members to work out a deal on reopening the government and raising the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, which must be done within the next nine days. Remember the last supercommittee, that one in the fall of 2011? That one that resulted in the sequester using a hatchet to make program cuts?  As Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), a member of that supercommittee, said, “There was nothing super about it.”

To make the “supercommittee” even more of a problem, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) indicated that tax reform might be part of the discussion. “We disagree by a trillion dollars of spending and a trillion dollars of tax increase. … I think there is some ground between a trillion dollars in spending and a trillion dollar tax increase. For Republicans not to be able to identify that would be silly,” Sessions said. “We are going to stick to our guns, but it doesn’t mean that people have to deny each other the ability to talk.” A Sessions aide later clarified Sessions is not open to new tax revenue.

What could go wrong?

As blogger Eurobrat wrote:

“When the Republicans first started this shutdown mess, it was about defunding Obamacare.  Since that wasn’t going to happen, it then became about just delaying Obamacare.  Now it’s not about that anymore either, and most Republicans sound like they aren’t quite sure what it’s about, only that they want to get something out of it.

“So before the economy collapses and everything goes to hell, let’s give the Republicans that pony they never got from their parents.  Or a plate of cookies.  A gold star.  One of those participation trophies that says you lost, but you still showed up to the game, so yay!  A kiss on the boo boo to make it better.  An apology from Obama’s election campaign team for being too smart?  More Benghazi hearings, this time with cheerleaders?  Another copy of the President’s birth certificate?

“Is there a little holiday present we can give the Republicans to help end this insanity?  I can think of a lot of things, except for what they really want, which is to see the President impeached, tarred and feathered.  That ain’t happening, guys.  Take the pony instead.”

I’ll chip in for the pony.

AGR Daily News Service

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