Monday, July 17, 2017

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 7/14/2017

"Shields and Brooks on fallout from Donald Trump Jr.'s emails, GOP health care reform" PBS NewsHour 7/14/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week's news, including President Donald Trump's trip abroad, fallout over a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer, and the latest version of a GOP Senate health care bill.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  But first to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentlemen.

So, Mark, welcome back.

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:  Thank you, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  We missed you last week.

The Donald Trump Jr. story.  We have now learned that he had a meeting a year ago, Trump Tower, with a lawyer who had some connection to the Russian government.  How does this change our understanding of the Russia collusion allegation?

MARK SHIELDS:  Well, I think it's fair to say, Judy, that the White House lost any benefit of the doubt that it could claim on this story.

The shoes continue to drop, like it's a Zappos warehouse or Imelda Marcos' closet.  I mean, it just — each time, they're amending their story, they're appending or extending their story.

And so I just think the fact that there were such denials and accusations of a Democratic plot, all of those are gone, and they stand naked and they stand exposed as shams.

I mean, they were actively engaged, at least welcoming Russian involvement in the 2016 election, in behalf of Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  David, does this change your assessment of what may have been going on?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times:  Yes.

My colleague Ross Douthat wrote that any time you give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt, he always lets you down.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID BROOKS:  And that's true.  That's true for his business clients and it's true for those of us who thought, they couldn't have been some stupid, to walk right into collusion with the Russian meetings.

And yet they were not only that stupid, but I think what is striking to me is the complete amorality of it, that Donald Trump Jr. gets an e-mail saying the Russian government is offering you this, and he says, “I love it.”

And it reminded me so much of some of the e-mails that came out of the Jack Abramoff scandal, that came out of the financial crisis scandal, where they're just — they're like frat boys who are gleefully going against the law and are going against all morality.  And they're not even overcoming any scruples to do this.

They're just having fun with it.  And then, in the days since, we have had on — Donald Jr. on Sean Hannity's show, again, I did nothing wrong, just incapable of seeing that there might have been something wrong about colluding with a foreign power who is hostile with you.

And then Donald Trump himself saying, he's a wonderful guy, again, not seeing anything wrong, and then even last day lying about how many people were in the meeting, a completely inconsequential lie.

And so we're trapped in the zone just beyond any ethical scruple, where it's all about winning.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Beyond any ethical scruple, Mark, is that where we are?

MARK SHIELDS:  Yes, I think it's fair to say that Donald Trump was born without the embarrassment gene or the moral reservation gene.

He just — he doesn't — when he says that most people would take that meeting, Judy, I mean, this is not — I have been around for a while, and been to the Dallas Fair twice, and all the rest of it.  People wouldn't do that.

In 2000, Al Gore's campaign got ahold of, was delivered George Bush's briefing book.  They turned it over to the FBI.  That's what you do when you're honorable in politics.

This isn't a meeting with a foreign power.  This isn't Canada or the Swiss Family Robinson.  This is Russia.  This is a country that has supported, propped up the worst of anti-democratic regimes in the Middle East, that has practiced — mistreated its own press, mistreated its own civil society, and economic intimidation of its neighbors, including invasion of its neighbors.

I mean, this is the one country on the face of the earth with the capacity to obliterate the United States.  This is serious stuff.  And to do it so casually and, as David said, without moral reservation, is — I guess it should be stunning, but, sadly, it isn't.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  But some of the Trump team, David, in their response to this are sounding almost offended that people would even think that they were doing something wrong.

DAVID BROOKS:  Yes, well, they just don't — they don't get it.

My pal Mike Gerson had a good line in his column today.  If you make losing a sin, you make cheating a sacrament.  And that is true.  If it's all win-loss, then you do whatever you can to win and to make money and to beat the deal.

And so I do think you have entered the zone where they don't quite see what they have done wrong.  But cheating with a foreign company — country is — as Mark keeps saying, is a grave sin.

And then there's just the scandal management of it, of letting it drip out, letting it drip out today and today and today.  And then there is almost just a cluelessness like a color blindness about how the rest of the world is going to go react to this.

And this has been a leitmotif for the Trump administration.

ARTS - World's Jazz Capital

"Why Copenhagen is becoming the jazz capital of the world" PBS NewsHour 7/14/2017

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SUMMARY:  The Copenhagen Jazz Festival ends this weekend in Denmark's capital.  The organizers claim it's the world's biggest such event.  Some musicians from the U.S. express envy that this quintessential American genre now thrives abroad, thanks to Danish government investment.  Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports on why the city's jazz is attracting international attention.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  The Copenhagen Jazz Festival ends this weekend in Denmark’s capital.  The organizers claim it’s the world’s biggest such event, and that Denmark has now become the epicenter of global jazz.

Some of the American musicians there express envy that this quintessential American music now thrives abroad, thanks to Danish government investment.

Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant is based in Copenhagen and he brings us all that Danish jazz.

MALCOLM BRABANT, special correspondent:  The streets and squares are alive to the sound of improvisation, as the city stages 1,400 concerts in 10 days, leading to claims that Copenhagen is now the jazz capital of the world.

NEWSHOUR'S IMHO - School Choice

"Why school choice should be about possibility — not partisanship" PBS NewsHour 7/14/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon's mother — a union Democrat who worked at the phone company during the day and sold Tupperware at night — lied about her address so Lemmon could attend a better elementary school.  Lemmon talks about her own experience with school choice and why she now sees it not as an "issue,” but as a matter of life and death.

ETHICS - Political Opposition Research

IMHO:  Political opposition research has been around for centuries but crosses the line when fabricated of lies or out-of-context information.  But especially if the information comes from ANY foreign government.

"The ethical dos and don'ts of opposition research" PBS NewsHour 7/13/2017

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SUMMARY:  Donald Trump Jr. and his father, President Trump, have defended the decision to meet with a Russian government lawyer to potentially discuss information about Hillary Clinton as standard opposition research.  Judy Woodruff speaks with Tim Miller a former Jeb Bush campaign official, and Christina Reynolds a former Hillary Clinton campaign official, discuss what goes into good opposition research.

WALL STREET - The Dark Side

Only at the end do you realize the power of the Dark Side.” - Star Wars

"The world of finance has a dark side, but that's only half the story" PBS NewsHour 7/13/2017

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SUMMARY:  You could say that the field of finance has an image problem, with both fictional and real-life figures projecting greed and other less-than-likeable attributes.  That's why Mihir Desai has written a book, "The Wisdom of Finance," to balance the picture and appeal to those in the field to get back to the core ideas.  Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.

NEWSHOUR SHARES - Rescue at Sea

"Elephant out for a swim gets emergency rescue at sea" PBS NewsHour 7/13/2017

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SUMMARY:  In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, Navy teams around the globe are often called in to assist in rescue efforts.  But this week, one maritime mission in the Indian Ocean helped a unique creature in need.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION - The Trump Jr, Flash-Fire

"How are Trump Jr. revelations resonating politically?" PBS NewsHour 7/12/2017

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SUMMARY:  How are Americans on both sides of the aisle reacting to revelations about a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer?  Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union and Karine Jean-Pierre of MoveOn.org join Judy Woodruff to discuss how the developments are shaping what lawmakers and voters think.




"Trump legal team distances president from son's meeting with Russian lawyer" PBS NewsHour 7/12/2017

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SUMMARY:  How do the bombshell revelations in Donald Trump Jr.'s emails affect the Russia investigation?  That was the big question across Capitol Hill, after it was revealed the President's son tried to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton, provided by the Russian government.  John Yang reports on how lawmakers and others are responding.




"Did Donald Trump Jr. break the law? Two legal experts weigh in" PBS NewsHour 7/12/2017

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SUMMARY:  Donald Trump Jr.'s release of his Russia-related email exchange reignited a legal debate about whether members of the Trump campaign engaged in unlawful activity.  Former White House Counsel Bob Bauer and Jed Shugerman of Fordham Law School join Judy Woodruff to offer different perspectives on the legal questions surrounding the controversy.

TRUMP AGENDA - Promoting Student Loan Sharks

"Betsy DeVos hits reset on new student loan consumer protections" PBS NewsHour 7/11/2017

aka "Putting the Foxes in Charge of the Hen House"

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SUMMARY:  The Trump administration has held up the implementation of Obama-era rules that would have allowed student borrowers to have their debt erased if they had been victims of fraud by for-profit schools.  Now 18 states and the District of Columbia have responded with a lawsuit challenging the Education Department.  Jeffrey Brown learns more from Anya Kamenetz of NPR.

HEALTH CARE - Virginia

"What Virginia's poorest citizens want from health care reform" PBS NewsHour 7/11/2017

and they are NOT going to get from Trumpcare.

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  As Republicans on Capitol Hill try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, we visit patients and health care providers at a free clinic in rural southwest Virginia -- a region that strongly supported President Trump, in a state that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act -- to listen to the extreme health care challenges they face and what they think should be done.




"Deep in coal country, West Virginia patients speak out about GOP health bill" PBS NewsHour 7/11/2017

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SUMMARY:  As Republicans on Capitol Hill try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, we visit patients and health care providers at a health center in Mingo County, West Virginia -- a region that strongly supported President Trump, in a state that has been ravaged by the opioid epidemic -- to listen to the health care challenges they face and how the expansion of Medicaid has benefited them.

INSIDE PUTIN'S RUSSIA - The Putin Definition

aka "Spin Politics of an Autocratic" a model for Trump

"Pride, patriotism and how Putin helped redefine what it means to be a 'true Russian'" PBS NewsHour 7/10/2017

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SUMMARY:  The new Russian identity is a combination of religion, old Russian traditions and rediscovered patriotism.  It helps explain how today's Russians think, how President Putin acts and why he remains popular.  As part of our week-long series Inside Putin's Russia, special correspondent Nick Schifrin and producer Zach Fannin report in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.




"Inside Russia's propaganda machine" PBS NewsHour 7/11/2017

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SUMMARY:  For years, the Kremlin and the media it controls have waged a multifaceted information (and disinformation) campaign inside Russia and pointed at its perceived adversaries, including the U.S.  As part of our week-long series Inside Putin's Russia, special correspondent Nick Schifrin and producer Zach Fannin report on the information wars, in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.




"Why are so many from this Russian republic fighting for ISIS?" PBS NewsHour 7/12/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In the republic of Dagestan, a brutal separatist insurgency has long fought against the Russian state.  Now, as many as 5,000 Dagestanis have left to fight for the Islamic State.  Why have so many answered the call?  As part of our week-long series Inside Putin's Russia, special correspondent Nick Schifrin and producer Zach Fannin report, in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.




"The deadly risk of standing up to Putin" PBS NewsHour 7/13/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  What can happen to you if you oppose the Kremlin?  There is a high mortality rate among prominent critics of the Russian government, which some say is emblematic of how President Vladimir Putin runs the country.  As part of our week-long series Inside Putin's Russia, special correspondent Nick Schifrin and producer Zach Fannin report in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.




"What Russians think about Trump and the U.S." PBS NewsHour 7/14/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  There may be no more consequential relationship for the U.S. than with Russia.  As part of our week-long series “Inside Putin's Russia,” special correspondent Nick Schifrin and producer Zach Fannin report in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting on how Russians perceive the U.S. and how the relationship between the two world powers has evolved under Trump.

FUTURE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY - Rep. Bustos

"Americans want to hear Democrats talk about values, not divisions, says Rep. Bustos" PBS NewsHour 7/10/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In the first of a series of conversations centered on the future of the Democratic party, Judy Woodruff speaks with Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill) about what Democrats need to be doing and saying to rebuild.




"The challenge for Democrats in search of a unified message" PBS NewsHour 7/10/2017

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SUMMARY:  Out of power in the House, Senate and White House, what can the Democrats do to gain seats in 2018 and 2020?  Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR join Judy Woodruff to discuss the future of the Democratic party, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ health care rally in Kentucky, and Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in June 2016.

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report:  And this goes to the challenge, Judy, which is, when you’re a party that has been successful, as Republicans were successful in the last few years, by being basically the party of no, right, they were against everything that Democrats and President Obama stood for, that was successful to get them a governing — or a political majority, but not a governing majority.

TRUMP AGENDA - Anti-Labor

"As Media Focuses on Russia Collusion, Trump Is Quietly Stacking the Labor Board with Union Busters" by Michael Arria, In These Times 7/14/2017

It might not get as much press coverage as other Donald Trump administration calamities, but the U.S. President is set to appoint a known union buster to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), push the body to a Republican majority and reverse Obama-era protections that rankle Big Business.

On July 13, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held hearings on Trump's two NLRB selections and his deputy labor secretary pick.  All three of these men are expected to be confirmed.

William Emanuel, one of Trump's NLRB appointees, is a management-side attorney and a member of the conservative Federalist Society.  He is also a shareholder of Littler Mendelson, an infamous union busting firm that was most recently brought in by Long Island beer distributor Clare Rose to negotiate a contract full of pay cuts.

After being selected, Emanuel disclosed 49 former clients and declared he would recuse himself for up to a year if any of the companies found themselves in front of the NLRB.  The list included multiple businesses that have clashed with the labor board, including JPMorgan Chase Bank, MasTec Inc, Nissan, and Uber.

Uber's ongoing skirmishes with the NLRB have, perhaps, been the most publicized.  At the end of 2016, the ride-share company battled with the NLRB after the agency sent out subpoenas aimed at gleaning information about whether Uber drivers were statutory employees.

In 2016, Emanuel authored an amicus brief that defended class-action waivers in employment contracts.  Workers often depend on class actions to fight sexual and racial discrimination, and their existence is an important part of upholding wage laws.  The NLRB ruled that such waivers were illegal under Obama. 

Emanuel was asked about Littler Mendelson's anti-union work by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.  “You have spent your career at one of the country's most ruthless, union-busting law firms in the country,” she said.  “How can Americans trust you will protect workers' rights when you've spent 40 years fighting against them?”

In response, Emanuel claimed that he would be objective whenever making decisions for the agency.

Emanuel is not the only appointee raising concern among workers' rights advocates.  Marvin Kaplan, another Trump nominee to the NLRB, is a public-sector attorney and current counsel to the commissioner for the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.  The Kaplan pick excites business executives and their advocates, who envisioned him helping overturn Obama-era labor regulations.

At the time of the announcement, Kristen Swearingen, chair of the anti-union group Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, declared that “Marvin Kaplan will begin to restore balance to an agency whose recent and radical decisions and disregard for long standing precedent have injected uncertainty into labor relations to the detriment of employees, employers and the economy.”

The excitement is well-founded.  Kaplan served as counsel for Republicans on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  The New York Times reports, “The committee held hearings during his tenure scrutinizing prominent NLRB actions in which the witnesses skewed toward business representatives and other skeptics.”  Kaplan also helped develop the The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, legislation that would kill a labor board rule that shortened the amount of time between when the board authorizes a workplace unionization vote and when the vote actually takes place.  Since 2014, the number has been set at 11 days.  But this act would increase it to at least 35, thus allowing more time for union efforts to be squashed.  The legislation hasn't passed in congress yet.

Concerns do not stop at the NLRB.  Trump's Labor Department nominee is Patrick Pizzella, a Federal Labor Relations Authority Member who was grilled by Minnesota Senator Al Franken on his ties to the infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff.  Pizzella worked with Abramoff during the 1990s to exempt the Northern Mariana Islands from federal labor regulations.

The Senate has only been in session for 10 days since the Pizzella and Kaplan nominations, and only four days since Emanuel's.  A group of civil rights and labor organizations sent the committee a letter asking for the hearings to be postponed.  During her opening remarks, Sen. Patty Murray called Trump's attempt to jam through the nominees without proper oversight “unprecedented.”

Roughly 10 workers representing the pro-labor organization Good Jobs Nation stood up during Thursday's hearing, put blue tape over their mouths and walked out of the room in silent protest.  Groups like Good Jobs Nation are concerned about a pro-business majority in the agency amidst Trump's proposed cuts to the Labor Department.

Trump is putting the NLRB in the position to undo a number of important Obama-era labor decisions.  His NLRB could potentially reverse rulings that made it easier for small groups of workers to unionize, established grad students as employees, put charter school employees under NLRB jurisdiction, and held parent companies jointly liable for with franchise operators who break labor laws.  Writing about the imminent anti-union crackdown on this website in May, Shaun Richman wrote, “Unions and their allies should be convening research teams to plot out a campaign of regulatory and judicial activism.  That work should begin now.”

Early in the hearing, Washington Senator Patty Murray asked Emanuel if he had ever represented a union or a worker.  Emanuel explained that he worked exclusively for management for his entire career.  "You just don't do both,” he told her.  “It's not feasible."

POLITICS - Branding vs Having a Plan

"Naomi Klein: We Need A Plan, Not A Brand" by Kate Aronoff, In These Times 7/10/2017

The author speaks on Corbyn, Trump, climate change, and the “hollow branding” that got us here.

By her own admission, Naomi Klein's books tend to be tomes.  In three several-hundred-page doorstoppers, each comprising a half-decade's worth of research and reporting, she's explored the damage wrought by cynical corporate branding projects (No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies), the way neoliberal strategists exploit crises for profit (The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism) and the deep connection between the climate crisis and our economic system (This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate).  When Trump was elected, Klein decided to take a new tack.  Her latest book, "No Is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need," is a good deal shorter, synthesizing lessons from her work over the last 20 years into a theory of how Donald Trump won and how to fight him.

In These Times sat down with Klein in mid-June to talk Corbyn, Trump, climate change, populism, and the “hollow branding” and shock-therapy economics that got us here.

In These Times: To start on an upbeat note, the U.K. Labor Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, have just pulled off a huge upset—in part by campaigning on what, in the United States, would be considered a far-left platform.  Is there a lesson here for the U.S.?

One of the lessons is that the ideas matter at least as much as the messenger.  The messenger does matter, and having political skill matters.  But being trustworthy matters, and something Corbyn and Bernie Sanders share is they don't have a lifelong history of flip-flopping.  They've had a core set of beliefs for a long time, and they're not slick.  There is something about that un-slickness that is making them trustworthy carriers for these policies.

Once again, we are learning that bold, transformative ideas that really hold up the promise of tangibly improving people's lives can win elections or come damn close.  And so that's exciting, and it's a fearsome responsibility: If the Left can win, that means the Left must win.  That's not a sense of responsibility that I grew up with.  We thought we could never run on a platform like this.  It turns out that it's possible, and that these ideas are wildly popular.  So this is a message for not just establishment Democrats, but for everyone.  Because it also means that we have to figure out why we're not making it all the way.  Let's remember that Labor came close, but they didn't win.

Corbyn's rise, though, is such a repudiation of the takeover of politics by the logic of corporate branding.  That whole process was really kick-started by Tony Blair.  When I was writing "No Logo," although eons ago, it was shocking that Tony Blair talked about Labor as a brand.  They were using this language of rebranding, calling it the “New Labor Party.”  The idea of treating a political party as a brand was new.  And he went on to treat Britain as a brand.  He relaunched Britain under this slogan, “Cool Britannia,” which you're too young to remember.

In These Times: That's horrible.

Yeah, what I wrote in "No Logo" was that Tony Blair's party was a “Labor-scented party.”  It explicitly deracinated the word labor from its meaning, in the same way that these companies were deracinating their brands from the products that they were selling.  What I found so moving about Corbyn's campaign was that when the Labor logo appeared at the end of his ads, it meant workers.  It meant being aligned with workers and having the trust of working people.  It ceased being a brand and became a description of the values and policies of the party.  That's an important shift, especially because a lot of Democrats think that the way to beat Trump is to come up with a better-branded billionaire.

In These Times: Some of the language you use to describe branding sounds a lot like the language used by political theorists to describe populism's effect on people—giving people a sense of belonging to a larger group, being able to transcend their material conditions.  These things are, of course, absurd to read onto something like a pair of sneakers.  But are there aspects of branding that can be salvaged by movements, especially when “the resistance” seems to be struggling to come up with a coherent identity?

The kind of branding that I was writing about in "No Logo" was what I was calling “hollow branding,” where the idea that you're selling basically has no relationship to the reality of what you are offering.  And that is a concept that I don't think should be redeemed.  So maybe it's helpful to make a distinction between that and using the best communication and design skills that are available to get a vision and a platform and a message out.  I'm all for that.  But I'm not sure I'd call it branding.  I really think that phrase may be poisoned.

There is something inherently possessive about branding, because brands compete with other brands for market share.  And I think that the way in which political groups—not just political parties but campaign organizations, NGOs, even individual people—have come to think of themselves as brands and apply to politics this very proprietary logic of the corporate world has done tremendous damage to movement building.  Brands compete with one another for market share, while movements want to work with whoever wants to reach the same goal.

So I'm all for using great design where it's useful to have a common umbrella so that people feel part of something bigger than themselves.  But I think we need to be very aware of when thinking like a brand becomes a problem—when we're making decisions based on protecting our brand as opposed to on building the largest movement that we can, which is much more of an open-source ethos.

In These Times: You talk about Trump as the accumulation—the Frankenstein monster—of trends that you've written about for years, from hollow branding to the shock doctrine.  Do you anticipate anything unique about the way Trump is likely to respond to an external shock, whether it's a terrorist attack or a natural disaster?

I don't think it will be unique; I think it's kind of an evolution.  But I do think Trump's admiration for authoritarian figures—authoritarian leaders and authoritarian tactics—is a shift.  Bush and Cheney didn't ban protests after 9/11.  They could have tried, and they did a lot of other things to try to silence dissent by trying to associate any serious criticism of the United States with terrorism.  But it's worth noting that they didn't do what the French government did under François Hollande after the Paris attacks, which was institute a state of emergency banning political gatherings and outdoor gatherings of more than five people.

Given Trump's clear comfort level with authoritarian regimes, we should expect that his administration would try to do something like that in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.  We are hearing open talk about internment on Fox NewsThe kind of policies that Trump ran on are precisely what we should be very afraid of.

Take him at his word.  He said he wanted to ban the entry of Muslims into the United States.  He immediately started talking about the need for his Muslim ban after the London terrorist attack.  It would be very foolish to reassure oneself that the White House wouldn't do that.  Maybe it wouldn't, but it's better to be prepared.

They certainly have learned a lesson from the protests that responded to the introduction of the travel ban.  They did not repress those protests in any kind of strong way, but they know that the protests got in their way and emboldened the lawmakers and the courts.  I would be worried about his willingness to crack down on protests like that.  It's so important in that moment for there to be just huge numbers of people in the street.  If it's left to the most targeted and most vulnerable communities to defend their own rights, the repression will be much more severe than if this administration finds itself confronted with hundreds of thousands of people of all ethnicities and religious backgrounds in the streets.  That is a lot harder to repress, right?  At least without serious consequences.

In These Times: One of the things that alarms me about Trump is that his staunch climate denialism sets an incredibly low bar—basically anything north of outright denial looks like progress.  What has been the impact of this?

I'm not sure so far that he is constraining the climate conversation, if we look at the way states and some cities are reacting to the withdrawal from the Paris Accord.  The sort of policies we are seeing put on the table from the mayors of Pittsburgh and Portland—to get to 100 percent renewables by 2035—are more in line with what science demands and what technology allows than what we were talking about under Obama.  Maybe that would have happened anyway, but maybe not.

Obviously the Republicans are doing less than nothing.  The Democrats don't have a clue about what to do, and so into that vacuum have come some real solutions from the local level.  I think we see a similar dynamic with that disastrous healthcare plan proposed by Congress.  That's creating more of a space for single payer at the state level, right?  Pushing for some of the actual policies we need at the sub-national level in the U.S. and at the national level outside of the U.S. is what we need to do when we finally get rid of these maniacs and get things caught up to where we need to be.

In These Times: Do you see any kind of single-payer-type demand when it comes to climate?  Is there anything that captures that type of energy?

Climate is more complex because it's about changing the backbone of our whole economy.  I'm always suspicious when people frame the solution as just one thing, like the carbon tax.  We are past that point, and the idea that there could be just one thing, and that would ever be enough to change the building blocks of an industrial economy, just seems crazy.

A big piece with climate is that getting to 100 percent renewables within two decades requires a huge jobs plan.  Of course, it requires different flanks to get there.  A jobs plan has to be designed and thought through.  That's why I've thrown my eggs in the basket of coming up with a policy platform that connects the dots between the need for unionized jobs, energy democracy and putting frontline communities first in line to own their own power.  Part of the problem we've had is that some of the jobs we have lost are high-paying union jobs, and the renewable-energy jobs that will just sort of emerge thanks to the free hand of the market will be much lower-waged and non-union.  Not fully confronting that and hoping that nobody notices has not been a great strategy in the fight for a so-called green jobs agenda.

In These Times: You talk in the book about the importance of intersectionality.  One of the points you've made is that while the things the Left cares about have been cordoned off into issues silos, the Right sees its efforts as part of this coherent ideological project.  Could you explain that a bit?

The Right has a holistic vision to realize dominance on every level—over people and over the planet.  It is winner-take-all hyper-individualism.  These are the connective ideas of the hyper-capitalist project, right?  Progressives and people on the Left have not been clear enough about what the connective tissue is of what we want and just how well our ideas are connected.  We have a lot of work to do.

Monday, July 10, 2017

ANTI-SCIENCE - The Florida Law

"Two Sad Ironies In Florida Passing Its 'Anti-Science' Law" by Marshall Shepherd, Forbes 7/1/2017

COMMENT:  Mr. Shepherd, you don't understand, the members of the legislator and the Governor likely flunked science in high school.

It is officially called Florida House Bill 989, and it was signed into law by Florida Governor Rick Scott on June 26th, 2017 after passing both chambers of the house.  According to the National Center for Science Education's website:
  • With the law now in place, any county resident — not just any parent with a child in the country's public schools, as was the case previously — can now file a complaint about instructional materials in the county's public schools, and the school will now have to appoint a hearing officer to hear the complaint.
Does this mean that some "Joe or Jane" public can file a complaint if they think schools should be teaching that the Earth is flat and not an oblate spheroid?  Many of the affidavits filed in support of the bill complained about evolution and climate change being taught.  One even complained that they have seen global warming being taught as a reality.  Hellooooo000, it is a reality.  Numerous credible sources show that our climate system is warming, and even many conservatives are now acknowledging the threat.  Sea level doesn't care about "red" and "blue," it just rises.  This week one of the climate doubter's signature arguments was dealt a blow.  A new study by some of the pioneering satellite climate scientists found that their measurements of warming had been underestimated.  What struck me about the Florida law is that there are two sad ironies with this so-called "Anti-Science" Law.

Florida is particularly vulnerable to climate change.  This first irony has implications for life and property.  This week arguably the most comprehensive study estimating economic damage from climate change was published in one of the world's top peer-review journals, Science.  The study examined economic damage as a function of crime, energy, storms, human mortality, and labor.  A key finding is that there is an economic cost of about 1.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) for every 1°C rise in temperature.  They also found that Southern states in the United States are most vulnerable, particularly Florida.  A map of the most economically-vulnerable counties can be found by clicking this link.  My colleague Pam Knox also made me aware of more detailed maps showing each contributing factor.  I have worked as a scientist developing major satellite missions, but it does not take a rocket scientist to understand why Florida is so vulnerable.  It is a peninsula state vulnerable to increasing sea level rise, saltwater intrusion in its drinking water supply, and hurricanes.  Joe Romm recently wrote an excellent analysis of climate change being the nightmare scenario for Florida's Coasts.  Florida Congresswoman Schultz opined last month in the Miami Herald

Human activity is contributing to climate change.  Its effects, expected to only worsen over time, are happening right now in South Florida.  Hiding from that reality will not change it.  And if the near-universal conclusions of climate scientists aren't enough for him (referring to President Trump's exit from the Paris climate agreement) perhaps he should consult with the property appraisers or insurance companies in South Florida who are already factoring sea level rise into their home value assessments.....Ask any of my constituents about an experience they've recently had with flooding, and you'll likely get a lengthy story.  Listen to enough stories about South Florida's ever-increasing king tides, and you'll hear about fish swimming in the streets.

Florida has been a leader in science.  The other irony comes from reflecting on some of the greatest science and technology achievements in history.  NASA is a national treasure, and I was privileged to work at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center for twelve years as a scientist working on Earth science related missions.  As I left NASA to join the faculty at the University of Georgia, people were stunned that I was leaving NASA.  It is that awesome.  One of the interesting things as I reflect on from my NASA days is that people would always ask me if I worked at Kennedy Space Center.  My answer was always no.  NASA has several different space centers around the United States, and they all have different specialities.  As I reflect on this new Florida law, it is almost a slap in the face to a state that so many associate with scientific greatness and the space program.  It is also now hosts several private enterprises like Space X, which are pushing the boundaries of science and technology.  These companies will need a scientifically literate workforce not students spewing fringe theories.  This Florida law sends a dangerous message about sound science and would make me nervous if I was a parent sending a child into this type of situation.

Such a law opens up so many "cans of worms" that another commentary could be written on that topic.  We are currently in a time period where opinions and beliefs mean more than facts.  If you stand on the top of your roof, do no get too close to the edge because there is still gravity whether you believe so or not.  As I write this, CBS News is reporting that the current White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is unstaffed and there is currently no person appointed as White House Science Advisor.  There is still no NASA Administrator appointed either.  We have officials at the Department of Energy that dispute published science that people from both sides of the aisle acknowledge.  We have an EPA Administrator calling for silly "red and blue" team climate reviews when science journals, conferences, the National Academies, and others already provide sound mechanisms for independent review.

Pay attention to what is going on with science education and policy at the local, regional, and national levels because our kids and their future depend on our diligence now.

And perhaps the ultimate irony as someone suggested in a tweet, it adds more layers of process and government intervention.....For more on this travesty, one of my former professors at Florida State, University, Dr. Paul Ruscher, blogged his thoughts, and it is worth the read.

POLICING IN AMERICA - Seattle Says NO to Attorney General

"Seattle sticks to Obama-era police reforms amid review" PBS NewsHour 7/8/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a sweeping review of police reforms initiated under the Obama administration, suggesting a potential rollback in federal oversight of police nationwide.  One city still committed to reform is Seattle.  Special Correspondent Joanne Elgart Jennings reports on how the reforms, five years in the making, have been received.

OPINION - Brooks and Marcus 7/7/2017

"Brooks and Marcus on Trump meeting Putin, Republicans diverging on health care" PBS NewsHour 7/7/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week's news, including the long and private first face-to-face meeting between President Trump and Russian President Putin, the President's rhetoric about Western civilization under siege, and the prospects for the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now, another look at the major news of this week, both foreign and domestic, from today's pivotal meeting between two presidents, to new developments with the Senate GOP's health care plan.

Here to provide analysis of all that and more is Brooks and Marcus.  That's New York Times columnist David Brooks and Ruth Marcus, deputy editorial page editor for The Washington Post.  Mark Shields is away this week.

Welcome to you on both.

So, the lead story today, of course, President Trump meets President Putin.

David, all eyes on this meeting, the body language, what did they say.  And then we have these conflicting reports coming out afterwards.  What do we make of it?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times:  Well, it was sort of normal for a Trump administration event.  He did raise the meddling issue, which is a good thing.

And so it seemed a little like, from the talking points, they hit Syria, they hit all the prints a U.S. President would talk to with a Russian president.  It seemed a bit like a normal meeting, which is a good thing.

The abnormal part to me is how small it was, that there are only four people and then the two translators in the room, no H.R. McMaster, no national security adviser, which is an oddity.  And that gives them maximum flexibility to say whatever they want in the room and not have it reported out of the room.

And that's what makes the point about what they were saying about the meddling or anything else totally mysterious.  Apparently, there were no note-takers in the room.  And so it leaves a big void in what they actually said and whether Trump really accepted the fact that Putin claims he didn't meddle.

And so it's just a big void that wouldn't exist if you had the normal complement of people in the room and the normal note-takers in the room, and you had some actual look into what sort of what was happening in there.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  A long meeting, Ruth, but a lot of questions.

RUTH MARCUS, The Washington Post:  Long meeting, a lot of questions.

And normal is not the way I would describe it.  And I think I should start by the way President Trump started with Vladimir Putin, which is, it's an honor to be here with both of you.  That is a true honor.

I thought for President Trump to say — and I understand we have diplomatic niceties — it wasn't an honor to be with someone who has attacked and jailed dissidents and killed dissidents in his country, who has invaded other countries, and who has tried to interfere in an American election.

And I think that simply to accept that, oh, it's great, at least he raised the question of Russian interference, but we don't know — and never will probably — precisely what he said, is really defining the Presidency down.

That should have been a given that he was going to raise that.  And that it wasn't a given, they left but on tenterhooks, and that the day before, he was still saying, well, nobody really knows for sure what happened, and seemed more eager to blame President Obama for not doing enough, to question whether the intelligence community gets it right, to tweet today about John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, and say, why didn't he turn over the server, just really underscores to me the abnormality of the situation.

DAVID BROOKS:  I have successfully defined deviancy so far down …

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

RUTH MARCUS:  Well, that's the point of normalizing, right?

DAVID BROOKS:  Yes.  Well, that's fair.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  But, David, was using the term honor going too far?

DAVID BROOKS:  I think no normal person would say that.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID BROOKS:  But, on the other hand, I'm willing to give diplomatic latitude to that.  There are a lot of people in a lot of diplomatic circumstances.

And I'm sure, if we went back and looked at how other Presidents speak, you're trying to establish a relationship with a bad guy.  Now, and you say things.  And so I give latitude toward that.

The question is whether Donald Trump recognizes that Vladimir Putin is a bad guy.  That's the larger question here than whether he used the word honor.  And I guess there's no indication that he regards Putin as in any way a bad guy.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Does it matter, Ruth, whether the President accepted Putin's denials?  Or are we just — we're going to be left wondering about this forever.

RUTH MARCUS:  Well, Secretary of State Tillerson said that they basically agreed it didn't make sense to relitigate this, actually one of my favorite words.  And maybe that's true.

The important point is that, since before the election, Donald Trump has been denying that this happened.  He has seemed entirely unconcerned with figuring out whether it happened and with expressing the outrage that any American President should be expressing that it did happen.

And now I think we're supposed to be satisfied that there is this joint working group on cyber-security.  So, I have a modest proposal.

(LAUGHTER)

RUTH MARCUS:  If we're going to have a joint working group on cyber-security, let's combine that with the election fraud commission, and we can really get to the bottom of everything.

DAVID BROOKS:  Say we had a normal President.  It's actually an interesting political problem.  What do you do with Russia?

Do you say, you interfered with our elections, you're interfering with all these elections across Europe, we're not dealing with you until you behave by some standards of normalcy?  And that's a morally satisfying position that, as a columnist, would be fun.

But there are actually a lot of issues you have got to deal with Russia on.  And so this is perpetually the problem with rogue regimes.  You have got to — you deal with them and then you don't deal with them.  And even if we had a normal administration, it would be tough to know how to treat Vladimir Putin.

TRUMP DIPLOMACY - G20 Summit

"Trump and Putin’s closed-door meeting yields contradiction on election meddling" PBS NewsHour 7/7/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their first face-to-face meeting since Mr. Trump took office on Friday during the G20 Summit, discussing Syria and North Korea, as well as Russian meddling in the 2016 election.  Judy Woodruff learns more from special correspondent Ryan Chilcote.




"West must engage with Russia, but can’t be ‘business as usual,’ says U.K. defense secretary" PBS NewsHour 7/7/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  President Trump plans to meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 Summit, where they'll likely discuss the fight against the Islamic State, the role of NATO and more.  U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon joins Judy Woodruff to discuss Russian election meddling, the promise of a Syrian cease-fire and how to counter the threat of North Korea.




"Global security and trade dominate G20 Summit" PBS NewsHour 7/8/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  World leaders from 20 nations concluded their annual summit in Hamburg, Germany, on Saturday, a gathering that was dominated by discussions on trade as well as North Korea’s weapons testing.  The meetings also drew tens of thousands of demonstrators who protested a range of issues.  NewsHour Special Correspondent Ryan Chilcote joins Hari Sreenivasan from Germany.

HEALTH - Public Housing

"A public housing project where healthy living is the foundation" PBS NewsHour 7/7/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In downtown Denver, a recently built public housing project is designed to foster healthy living, with access to nutritious food, access to doctors and ease of exercise.  Jeffrey Brown reports.

AMORALITY - Evangelical Christian Hobby Lobby

Ah!  Another so-called Christian that actually worships a false god, money.

"Why Hobby Lobby is in trouble for importing artifacts" PBS NewsHour 7/6/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Hobby Lobby, the national arts-and-crafts supply chain, illegally imported thousands of ancient relics from the Middle East, according to the Justice Department.  The family-owned, Evangelical Christian company must now turn over rare clay tablets and artifacts that likely once came from Iraq.  William Brangham learns more from Deborah Lehr of George Washington University.

TRUMP DIPLOMACY - Poland

IMHO:  Trump has no diplomatic policy for America, he has only a policy to pump-up his ego.

"In Poland, Trump chides Russia on eve of Putin meeting" PBS NewsHour 7/6/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  President Trump began his second overseas trip in Poland by doing something he was criticized for not doing on his first, [this time] offering America's full commitment to the NATO alliance.  The President also declared that the West would triumph over its many adversaries, offering his sharpest condemnation yet of Russia.  Special correspondent Ryan Chilcote joins Judy Woodruff from Hamburg for more.




"What did European allies hear in Trump’s Poland speech?" PBS NewsHour 7/6/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump downplayed the importance of NATO and the role of the European Union, while promoting improved U.S.-Russia ties.  On Thursday, President Trump tried to reassure European allies that his administration is in sync with them.  Judy Woodruff talks to Karen Donfried and Paula Dobriansky, two former state department officials, about Trump on the world stage.

MAKING SEN$E - Utica, New York

"What happened when this struggling city opened its arms to refugees" PBS NewsHour 7/6/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  After decades of decline, the city of Utica, New York, is growing again, thanks in part to its reputation as "the town that loves refugees."  And their basic reason for loving refugees is simple:  An influx of new residents and workers have helped keep its economy afloat.  But are there also downsides to an refugee-driven recovery?  Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.

NORTH KOREA - Verses the United States

"U.S. calls for global diplomatic effort to punish and sway North Korea" PBS NewsHour 7/5/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  North Korea's Tuesday missile launch crossed the intercontinental threshold the U.S. had been hoping to prevent.  At the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, the U.S. tried to rally the world to punish and isolate the regime.  Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un insisted he will never negotiate away his missile and nuclear programs.  Nick Schifrin reports on the American response so far.



"Could new economic pressure change North Korea’s ambitions?" PBS NewsHour 7/5/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  When it comes to facing the threat of North Korea, there are no easy answers and few good options.  Could new economic sanctions change the trajectory of the country’s?  Judy Woodruff gets views from John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, and David S. Cohen a former CIA and Treasury Department official.

NEWSHOUR SHARES - CoverGirl's Nura Afia

"How a Muslim-American glamour girl became the new face of CoverGirl" PBS NewsHour 7/5/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, Nura Afia went from watching YouTube videos as a young mother, to becoming a fashion video blogger with an international following, to being named CoverGirl's first Muslim brand ambassador.

BEERS - What the Buzz is All About

"From the wing of a wasp, scientists discover a new beer-making yeast" PBS NewsHour 7/4/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  If you enjoy a beer on a summer day, you can thank yeast, the microbes that ferment sugar into alcohol and give beer its character.  After innumerable generations of using just two types of yeast, a lab in North Carolina has discovered a new yeast that produces a variety of flavors, and it comes from the weirdest source, bees.  Science producer Nsikan Akpan reveals what the buzz is all about.



RELATED:

"New studies shed light on insecticide’s effect on bees, economic consequences of climate change" PBS NewsHour 7/5/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Neonicotinoids, the popular insecticide used in agriculture, can be harmful to bees, according to new papers.  Science correspondent Miles O’Brien joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss some important findings and analyses on that story, as well as a recent study that looked at the economic consequences of climate change.

TRUMP AGENDA - Poisoning of the Environment Legal Setback

"Trump’s rollback of Obama-era rules hits setback in court" PBS NewsHour 7/4/2017

Also note that methane is explosive.

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The Environmental Protection Agency cannot delay implementation of a rule limiting methane emissions from new oil and gas drilling wells, according to an appeals court ruling on Monday.  William Brangham speaks with Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post about the obstacle for the Trump administration’s efforts to reverse environmental regulations and the wider implications.

NEWSHOUR SHARES - What?! Cricket in U.S.

"Can cricket go mainstream in the U.S.?" PBS NewsHour 7/4/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, the second most popular sport in the world [cricket] is starting to catch on in the United States -- with a little help from some devotees who grew up playing it in other countries.

STUDENT REPORTING - California's Channel Islands National Park

"How this remote national park made a mammoth discovery" PBS NewsHour 7/4/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  California's Channel Islands National Park is the site of a recent mammoth discovery: a pygmy mammoth skull, to be precise.  This report was produced as part of our Student Reporting Labs by students from Etiwanda High School in Southern California.

AGENTS FOR CHANGE - Clubfoot

"This simple correction for clubfoot is a life changer for kids in India" PBS NewsHour 7/3/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Clubfoot, a treatable birth defect that can bring pain and social isolation, is often not treated in the developing world.  But a treatment developed a half century ago by a doctor in Iowa is less invasive, less expensive and less painful than the corrective surgery that was once required.  Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on how a charity is trying to bring the cure to children in India.

NEWSHOUR BOOKSHELF - "House of Names"

"Colm Toibin sees the ‘origin of all civil wars’ in this Greek tragedy" PBS NewsHour 7/3/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In the new novel "House of Names," one of today's leading contemporary writers looks back to the Trojan War and Greek mythology for inspiration.  Colm Toibin joins Jeffrey Brown to discuss why he wanted to write a novel about a family drama in ancient Greece and the connection to civil wars in our own time.

POLITICS MONDAY - Civility and Trust

"How Americans see civility and trust in today’s politics" PBS NewsHour 7/3/2017

IMHO:  Republicans, ALL they want is a win for their draconian agenda.

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Most Americans believe civility is getting worse since President Trump was elected, according to a new poll.  Judy Woodruff talks to Tamara Keith of NPR and Stuart Rothenberg of Inside Elections about the results of the latest PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll, the President’s continued attacks against the media and the continuing battle over health care on Capitol Hill.

RELATED:  "New poll: 70% of Americans think civility has gotten worse since Trump took office" by Laura Santhanam, PBS NewsHour 7/3/2017

DOCUMENTARY - Buena Vista Social Club: Adios

I have two of there albums (CDs), love their music.



Their world hit first album: "Buena Vista Social Club" (full album)

Friday, July 07, 2017

AMERICAN POLITICS - Opinion, Trump Supporters

"There's No Denying How Trump Supporters Will Be Remembered in our History Books" by Allen Clifton, Forward Progressives 5/14/2017

Before the election, I wrote an article that touched on some of the same points I'm going to talk about here.  However, I felt as if it needed a bit of a “refresh,” of sorts, based on the absolute chaos we've seen since Donald Trump was sworn into office on January 20, 2017.

The words I used at the beginning of that article ring as true now as they did when I first wrote them:

There's not even a shred of sane or rational logic anyone can use to defend Donald Trump.

Say what you want about him, and there's plenty to say, but Trump knew what he was talking about when, over a year ago, he said his supporters were mindless sheep who'll support him no matter what.

Sure, his approval numbers have hit historic lows, and most of the country thinks he's doing a piss-poor job as “Commander-in-Chief,” but the overwhelming majority of Republicans still fully support him.

As I've said before, I don't think most of his supporters care if he did collude with Russia during the election.  He could admit he worked with Putin to undermine the integrity of our democracy and the vast majority of Republicans would still probably support him.

His supporters can't even defend his campaign promises anymore considering we now know they were total bullshit.  Mexico's not paying for his border wall, he's not going to prosecute Hillary Clinton, and the health care plan he supports isn't anything that he said it would be prior to getting “elected.”

And just like I wrote several months ago, at this point, if you're still a supporter of Donald Trump, here's what you really are: You're someone who's cemented your place in history as an individual who we're all going to look back upon with disgust and shame because you were ignorant enough to support the most corrupt, dishonest, vile, and incompetent “President” in United States history.

This is a man who's:

  • Mocked a man with disabilities.
  • Attacked the parents of a fallen American hero.
  • Belittled POWs and the war record of Sen.  John McCain.
  • Lied about how much money he raised for veterans.
  • Called a former Miss Universe “disgusting” and fat, telling his Twitter followers to find her non-existent sex tape.
  • Accused an American-born federal judge of being unfit to do his job because of his Mexican heritage.
  • Likely avoided paying taxes for nearly two decades.
  • Called most Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, even though that's not remotely factual.
  • Lied about seeing “thousands and thousands” of Muslims celebrating in New Jersey on 9/11.
  • Lied about getting a letter from the NFL complaining about the debate schedule.
  • Tried to exploit the death of an African American woman in Chicago to say that's why black voters will support him.
  • Found the “bright side” to tragedies because his poll numbers tend to go up.
  • Settled with the Department of Justice after his company was found guilty of racially discriminating against minorities.
  • Has cheated on at least one wife.
  • Was discovered on video admitting that he not only tried to cheat on his current wife, but he attempted to do so with another married woman.
  • Had his first wife publicly say that he did nothing when it came to raising their children until they were old enough to talk business.
  • Tweeted that women should have expected to be sexually assaulted when they mixed males and females together in the military.
  • Said he wants to target the families of terrorists.
  • Stated that he wants to ban an entire religion.
  • Praised a Russian President who obviously hates the U.S. and Americans.
  • Encouraged the Russian government to commit espionage against Americans.
  • Insinuated that another Republican's wife was ugly.
  • Tried to implicate another Republican's father in JFK's assassination.
  • Sought out the help of former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes after he was fired following multiple allegations that he had sexually harassed women for years.
  • Made Breitbart's Steve Bannon one of his top campaign people.
  • Had a former campaign manager abruptly resign after a report came out linking him to pro-Russian groups that were directly trying to undermine U.S. policy in eastern Europe.
  • Called Carly Fiorina ugly.
  • Has said climate change was a hoax created by the Chinese — then denied saying it.
  • Was a leading conspiracy theorist when it came to the racist-driven birther conspiracies against President Obama.
  • Dismissed nearly eight years of accusing the President of not being an American with a less than 30 second statement where he didn't apologize for any of it.
  • Tried to blame Hillary Clinton for his racism.
  • Re-tweeted anti-African American propaganda created by a white supremacy group.
  • Played dumb about knowing who former Grand Wizard of the KKK David Duke was.
  • Skipped a Presidential debate because he was scared of a moderator.
  • Has, on several occasions, suggested he finds his daughter attractive.
  • Called a husband doing things like changing diapers and helping with the children, a man “trying to be the wife.”
  • Has said he wants more countries to have nuclear weapons.
  • Said he can't release his tax returns because they're currently being audited — even though the IRS said that's a lie.
  • Feels he has the right to sexually assault women.
  • Lied, in the face of indisputable photographic evidence, about the size of his inauguration crowd.
  • Continues to push the unfounded conspiracy that “millions of people voted illegally” because his ego can't handle the fact Clinton received 3 million more votes than he did.
  • Disgraced the CIA's monument to fallen agents by talking about his electoral college victory.
  • After frequently criticizing President Obama for playing golf, has spent nearly half his weekends since being sworn into office playing golf at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
  • On pace to cost taxpayers more on “extracurricular” expenses during his first 365 days in office than we spent on Obama during his 2,921 days as President.
  • Settled a $25 million lawsuit accusing him of purposely creating a fake university to scam people out of money.
  • Has already broken most of his biggest campaign promises.
  • Fired the head of the FBI for apparently not “swearing loyalty” and doing what he wanted in regards to the on-going investigations looking into his campaign's ties to Russians.
  • Then threatened the former head of the FBI just after firing him in an attempt to intimidate him from speaking out publicly.
  • Pushed an unfounded conspiracy against Barack Obama, accusing him of ordering unconstitutional wiretaps placed in Trump Tower — without providing a shred of evidence to back it up.
  • Seems to have been working with the head of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep.  Devin Nunes, to undermine congressional investigations into his possible Russian connections.
  • Had said, despite promising to do so, he doesn't plan to ever release his tax returns.
  • Said he didn't know being “President” would be so hard.
  • Apparently needed the President of China to explain to him why dealing with North Korea is complicated.
  • Signed two travel bans against Muslims that were overturned as unconstitutional.
  • Allowed state-run Russian media to bring electronic and photographic equipment into the Oval Office — while denying entry to any U.S. press — at the request of Vladimir Putin.
  • Said his surrogates shouldn't be held accountable for the dishonest or contradictory things they say.
  • Admitted Australia, which has universal health care, has better health care than we do, then doubled-down on those comments, yet still supports a bill that's almost the complete opposite of their system.
  • Months after the election, continues to bring it up the electoral college, even hanging a large printout of it on a wall in the White House.
  • Didn't mention the Jewish people once during his speech on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
  • Blamed Democrats for the initial failure of the House of Representatives being able to pass Trumpcare — even though Republicans have a 44-seat majority.
  • Is now bragging about the very same jobs reports he called “fake” and “phony” prior to taking office.
  • Continues to call the talk about the investigations into his connections to Russia “FAKE NEWS!” even though the FBI has publicly admitted these investigations are, in fact, real.
  • Has the lowest approval rating for a President this early into their presidency — in history.
  • Admitted he lied when he publicly threatened that he might have recorded his conversations with the former head of the FBI he had just fired — in a clear attempt to intimidate James Comey into not speaking out about what the two men had discussed.
  • Apparently doesn't understand what “collusion” or “obstruction” actually mean.
  • Called the very same health care plan he publicly celebrated and said he supports “mean.”
  • Launched a disgusting attack against “low I.Q” MSNBC's Mika Brzeninski, accusing her of “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when he saw her back in January, while calling her co-host Joe Scarborough, and former U.S. congressman, “psycho.”

One man has done all of that, and much more.

I'm no mental health expert and I'm not involved in the medical field at all.  But based on what I've read and can plainly see about Donald Trump, he exhibits nearly every characteristic linked to a sociopath.  He:

  • Doesn't believe the rules or laws apply to him.
  • Seems to have no concern about the consequences of his actions.
  • Is impulsive.
  • Shows frequent signs of being reckless.
  • Is unpredictable.
  • Lacks morals.
  • Is a narcissist.
  • Has proven to be hot-tempered and a bit of a loose cannon.
  • Lacks empathy or sympathy for others.
  • Is manipulative to get what he wants.
  • Almost never apologizes.
  • Often invents outrageous lies about his success or experiences.
  • Seems to believe that what he says is the truth, even if it isn't.

He is essentially the textbook definition of a sociopath.  However, despite the fact that he exhibits all of these signs without shame, millions of people support him.

Again, I'm not a mental health professional, but I don't think you need to be one to see that there's clearly something not right with Trump.  This type of unhinged behavior is not normal.

So, at this point, after all that Donald Trump has said and done and factoring in the campaign promises he's already broken, if you still support him, you've done nothing more than carved out your spot as someone we will all look back upon with disgust and humiliation that there were so many people like you who eagerly supported one of the most shameful embarrassments in United States history.

REPUBLICAN AGENDA - Trump's Voter 'Suppression' Commission

The perpetration of a lie.

"Election Experts See Flaws in Trump Voter Commission's Plan to Smoke Out Fraud" by Jessica Huseman, ProPublica 7/6/2017


The commission told ProPublica that states' voter rolls will be run against federal databases to find potential fraudulent registrations — a move experts say will result in thousands of errors and could distort fraud.

Vice President Mike Pence's office has confirmed the White House commission on voter fraud intends to run the state voter rolls it has requested against federal databases to check for potential fraudulent registration.  Experts say the plan is certain to produce thousands of false positives that could distort the understanding of the potential for fraud, especially given the limited data states have agreed to turn over.

“This just demonstrates remarkable naivety on how this voter data can be used,” said David Becker, the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research.  “There's absolutely no way that incomplete data from some states — mainly consisting of names and addresses — can be used to determine anything.”

The commission's vice chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, sent a letter to states last week requesting detailed information on voters.  The request asked for information such as Social Security numbers and military status most states cannot legally make available.  But most states will be handing over information that is public, such as names, years of birth and whether they've voted in previous elections.

Marc Lotter, spokesman for Pence, told ProPublica the state voter information will be run “through a number of different databases, looking for the possibility for areas where voter rolls could be strengthened.”

While Lotter would not say specifically which databases the rolls would be run against, The Washington Times reported last week the commission may seek to check the names against the federal government's database of non-citizens.  A 2012 attempt by Florida to do that resulted in many legitimate voters being falsely flagged because they had the same names as people in the federal database.  Gov. Rick Scott scrapped the effort and eventually apologized.

Comparing names nationwide could result in far more false positives.

“How many Manuel Rodríguezes born in 1945 who are citizens are going to be on an immigration list?  There are likely to be several,” said Charles Stewart, a professor at MIT and expert in election administration.  “How will you know if he's the immigrant, or he is one of the several people with that name who are citizens and legally registered?”

Kobach runs a matching program that appears to have its own high rate of errors.  A recent study by political scientists at Stanford University found that Kobach's Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program had 200 false positives for every actual double registration.  The Kansas secretary of state's office did not immediately return a call for comment on the program.

Other systems already exist that do rigorous matching.  The Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, is a voluntary, paid system operated by a nonprofit and used by 20 states and the District of Columbia.  The system uses far more information than states are able to make publicly available, such as driver's license numbers, Social Security numbers and even email addresses.

Becker, who helped create ERIC, said it took years of work to ensure careful matches.  The speed at which Kobach and Pence sought information from states, which were given two weeks to hand over their voter rolls, and their plan for the limited amount of information they'll receive “demonstrates a remarkable ignorance of the process,” said Becker.

Lotter, Pence's spokesman, said that even if false matches were made they'd do no harm since the commission can't remove names from states' voter rolls.  He said the commission is simply going to provide recommendations and highlight any common problems that might come up in the matching process.

“What we are trying to do is create the first national look at voter registration and the potential for fraudulent registration that could lead to fraudulent voting,” Lotter said.  “At the end of the day you have to ask yourself who is not for making sure we have one person one vote?”

John Merrill, the Republican secretary of state for Alabama, said any false positive raises the likelihood a voter might be incorrectly purged.

“I would be surprised if they could find a way to improve upon the methods already in place from the consortiums that already exists,” Merrill said.  “Every time you remove a mechanism that more positively identifies a voter, it increases the opportunity for a false positive to match.”

President Trump created the commission after making unsupported claims that there were millions of illegal votes cast in the 2016 presidential election.  Kobach, the commission's public face, has long asserted without evidence that voter fraud is widespread.

Despite numerous academic studies to the contrary, Kobach has claimed that non-citizens regularly vote, that people vote twice with frequency and has backed Trump's claims of illegal voting last year.  Kobach, along with other members of the commission, has also supported restrictions on voter registration, including strict voter ID laws.

Lotter said the bipartisan nature of the commission — currently four of the 10 announced commissioners are Democrats — should assuage any concerns from critics.  The four Democrats include Maine's secretary of state, Matthew Dunlap, whose state has declined to provide the information the commission requested in Kobach's letter.

Lotter also said none of the commissioners had “pre-conceived notions” about voter fraud and that they would fairly judge the results of the matches.

Dale Ho, the director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, disputed Lotter's claims of neutrality.

“It's up is down and black is white,” he said.  “The idea that people who have made repeated public statements that they believe, contrary to all evidence, that there is massive fraud are not biased is ludicrous.”