Tuesday, January 31, 2017

TRUMP POLITICS - GOP Faustian Bargain

"The Republican Fausts" by David Brooks, New York Times 1/31/2017

Many Republican members of Congress have made a Faustian bargain with Donald Trump.  They don't particularly admire him as a man, they don't trust him as an administrator, they don't agree with him on major issues, but they respect the grip he has on their voters, they hope he'll sign their legislation and they certainly don't want to be seen siding with the inflamed progressives or the hyperventilating media.

Their position was at least comprehensible: How many times in a lifetime does your party control all levers of power?  When that happens you're willing to tolerate a little Trumpian circus behavior in order to get things done.

But if the last 10 days have made anything clear, it's this: The Republican Fausts are in an untenable position.  The deal they've struck with the devil comes at too high a price.  It really will cost them their soul.

In the first place, the Trump administration is not a Republican administration; it is an ethnic nationalist administration.  Trump insulted both parties equally in his Inaugural Address.  The Bannonites are utterly crushing the Republican regulars when it comes to actual policy making.

The administration has swung sharply antitrade.  Trump's economic instincts are corporatist, not free market.  If Barack Obama tried to lead from behind, Trump's foreign policy involves actively running away from global engagement.  Outspoken critics of Paul Ryan are being given White House jobs, and at the same time, if Reince Priebus has a pulse it is not externally evident.

Second, even if Trump's ideology were not noxious, his incompetence is a threat to all around him.  To say that it is amateur hour at the White House is to slander amateurs.  The recent executive orders were drafted and signed without any normal agency review or even semicoherent legal advice, filled with elemental errors that any nursery school student would have caught.

It seems that the Trump administration is less a government than a small clique of bloggers and tweeters who are incommunicado with the people who actually help them get things done.  Things will get really hairy when the world's problems are incoming.

Third, it's becoming increasingly clear that the aroma of bigotry infuses the whole operation, and anybody who aligns too closely will end up sharing in the stench.

The administration could have simply tightened up the refugee review process and capped the refugee intake at 50,000, but instead went out of its way to insult Islam.  The administration could have simply tightened up immigration procedures, but Trump went out of his way to pick a fight with all of Mexico.

Other Republicans have gone far out of their way to make sure the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam or on Arabs, but Trump has gone out of his way to ensure the opposite.  The racial club is always there.

Fourth, it is hard to think of any administration in recent memory, on any level, whose identity is so tainted by cruelty.  The Trump administration is often harsh and never kind.  It is quick to inflict suffering on the 8-year-old Syrian girl who's been bombed and strafed and lost her dad.  Its deportation vows mean that in the years ahead, the TV screens will be filled with weeping families being pulled apart.

None of these traits will improve with time.  As former Bush administration official Eliot Cohen wrote in The Atlantic, “Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better.  It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him.  It will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have.  It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment.”

The danger signs are there in profusion.  Sooner or later, the Republican Fausts will face a binary choice.  As they did under Nixon, Republican leaders will have to either oppose Trump and risk his tweets, or sidle along with him and live with his stain.

Trump exceeded expectations with his cabinet picks, but his first 10 days in office have made clear this is not a normal administration.  It is a problem that demands a response.  It is a callous, bumbling group that demands either personal loyalty or the ax.

Already one sees John McCain and Lindsey Graham forming a bit of a Republican opposition.  The other honorable senators will have to choose: Collins, Alexander, Portman, Corker, Cotton, Sasse and so on and so on.

With most administrations you can agree sometimes and disagree other times.  But this one is a danger to the party and the nation in its existential nature.  And so sooner or later all will have to choose what side they are on, and live forever after with the choice.

Monday, January 30, 2017

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 1/27/2017

"Shields and Brooks on Trump's first week, the future of ‘alternative facts'" PBS NewsHour 1/27/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  From Mexico to Russia, pipelines to refugees, President Trump had a busy first week of work.  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week's news, including an assessment of the President's executive actions and willingness to pick fights, the White House opposition against the media and whether the GOP will assert independence.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  From executive actions to early morning tweets, the first week of the Trump administration has been marked by a flurry of twists and turns.

To help make sense of it all, the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

And welcome to both of you.

And I guess you could say, Mark, from Mexico to Russia, from oil pipelines to health care, it has not been a quiet first week.  How's it gone?

MARK SHIELDS, syndicated columnist:  Well, if you're a Trump supporter, it's gone terrific.

He's done what he said he was going to do.  He was — honored his campaign commitments on the wall, on keeping the borders secure, or safe, or limited, and stopping immigration as much as possible, and building the pipeline and going ahead.  I mean, so, in that sense, he didn't lose any support among his supporters.

Among his critics, I think whose doubts were very much, in large part not simply ideological, but about the temperament of Donald Trump, it's reinforced those doubts, his performance, especially the smallness of his preoccupation about the size of the crowd, which he keeps returning to in a rather bizarre fashion.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  How do you see this first week, David?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  We were here a week ago together, and it feels like a century.

And I wonder, over the course of his Presidency, can he keep up this pace of news and busyness and conflict without just exhausting everybody?

And I will say, among business people I have spoken to, among political class, and among the Republicans on the Hill, just a great sense of being unnerved, unnerved at the instability.

Partly, he's done what he said, as Mark said.  He's undermined the post-war international order pretty quickly.  Tearing down TPP was a bill that I think economists say would have produced hundreds of millions — billions of dollars of earnings every year for Americans.

Picking a fight with our second biggest export market, very unnerving.  I don't see the — but then I think the two other things I would say is, the general sense of chaos and incompetence on how you do it.

OK, you want to pick a fight with Mexico.  Do you have to do it by tweet?  Do you have put forward a proposal that would have Americans paying for the wall, and then sort of withdraw it, and then sort of not withdraw it, do in a way maximally designed to polarize Mexican opinion against the United States?

And then the final thing is, I wonder, I'm left wondering, how much of this is real?  OK, he signs a series of papers that Steve Bannon and others wrote for him, but who is going to implement it?  Does it make any sense?  We saw that with the Syrian ban in the discussion earlier in the program.

TRUMP WORLD - Britain's Life-Line

"High stakes and friction points for ‘special relationship' between Trump and UK's May" PBS NewsHour 1/27/2017

CAUTION:  Britain, Trump will want his name (in gold) on Parliament. 😉

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May both came to power during waves of populism and now are trying to steer their respective countries in new directions.  At the White House Friday, the allies met for what was Trump's first foreign visit to discuss Brexit and the prospect of a bilateral trade deal.  Both leaders Margaret Warner reports on what's at stake for both leaders.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  In contrast to the ban on refugees, the White House opened its doors today to the United States' most trusted ally.

As Margaret Warner reports, in the face of uncharted waters, there was an appreciation of a shared history.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:  It is a great honor to have Winston Churchill back.

MARGARET WARNER (NewsHour):  President Trump had a warm Oval Office welcome for Prime Minister May, as the two posed beside a bust of Britain's greatest wartime leader.

And both are now trying to steer their countries in new directions amid great uncertainty.  May is charting Britain's withdrawal from the European Union after the public voted for Brexit, which triggered her predecessor David Cameron's resignation.  May didn't support leaving the E.U. either, but she's now pledged to see it through, insisting it will be a clean break.

THERESA MAY, British Prime Minister:  Brexit means Brexit, and we're going to make a success of it.

MARGARET WARNER:  Last April in London, then-President Obama warned a vote to leave the E.U. would jeopardize a future U.S.-U.K. trade agreement.

FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  Because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done.  And the U.K. is going to be in the back of the queue.

MARGARET WARNER:  Mr. Trump, however, was a vocal Brexit supporter.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:  People want to take their country back.

MARGARET WARNER:  And Nigel Farage, the man who led the Brexit movement, campaigned with Mr. Trump, and visited him in New York just days after his election.

Atop May's agenda now is to get President Trump to commit to negotiate a bilateral trade deal as soon as Britain leaves the E.U.  Yet, President Trump vows to put America first, and has already issued some protectionist orders, like insisting new oil pipelines be built with American steel.

Britain's ambassador to the U.S., Sir Kim Darroch, said what May needs now is a pledge to negotiate a deal, not the details.

SIR KIM DARROCH, U.S. Ambassador to the United States:  As we leave the E.U., we intend to go global to have a global series of trading relationships.  I think it's reassuring to the British public to know that the door over here is open to doing a deal quickly.

MARGARET WARNER:  Julian Borger, The Guardian's world affairs editor, said negotiating an exit from the E.U. won't be easy.

JULIAN BORGER, The Guardian:  It is going to be economically and politically very costly to do.  Trump's arrival is really a political lifeline for her.  She can say, we are now global Britain.  We look beyond Europe.  We have — there's a whole world out there that's willing to buy our stuff and stand with us.  And U.S. is exhibit 'A' our closest ally, special relationship.  These sort of ideas and phrases really resonate in the U.K.




TRUMP AGENDA - Refugees

Fear mongering:  Refugees threaten America because we know they are ALL terrorists..... NOT!

"Trump bans Syrian refugees, calls for dramatic expansion of armed services" PBS NewsHour 1/27/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  President Trump acted on one of his most polarizing promises, signing an executive action to curb the admission of refugees, including an indefinite ban on accepting refugees from war-torn Syria.  Lisa Desjardins offers a roundup of news from the White House, including a press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa Day and a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.



"Experts skeptical that limiting refugees would deter terrorism" PBS NewsHour 1/27/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  An executive order to limit refugees, immigrants and visitors to the United States, especially from Muslim countries, is meant to reduce the chance of terrorist attacks on home soil.  But is the move by President Trump an effective form of deterrence?  Antonio Mora talks with Reuel Marc Gerecht from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and former State Department official Daniel Benjamin.



"Refugees already settled in U.S. concerned over Trump order" PBS NewsHour 1/29/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The U.S. admitted 12,500 Syrian refugees in 2016, but President Donald Trump's executive order Friday indefinitely bans any more from entering the U.S.  NewsHour Weekend Correspondent Megan Thompson reports on how the Trump administration's policy has left some refugees already in the country very concerned.



"In Trump's immigration order, a tangle of legal issues" PBS NewsHour 1/27/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Protests erupted across the country following President Trump's executive order banning immigrants from seven countries.  The administration cited national security concerns as the reason for the order, even as a federal judge blocked part of it on Saturday night.  USA Today Immigration Reporter Alan Gomez joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.



"How the ACLU challenged Trump's immigration order" PBS NewsHour 1/29/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  A federal judge on Saturday issued a stay to halt portions of President Trump's executive order banning entry to the U.S. for people from seven countries.  The order prevents the government from deporting people that are detained at U.S. airports.  ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, whose organization filed the complaint, joins Hari Sreenivasan to help us understand what happened.

TRUMP AGENDA - The Wall

aka "The Art of Making More Enemies"

"What Trump's wall means for U.S. relations with Mexico" PBS NewsHour 1/26/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  What do President Trump's latest actions on immigration mean for U.S. relations with Mexico?  Former State Department official Roger Noriega and James Carafano from the Heritage Foundation join Antonio Mora to discuss the apparent rift between President Trump and Mexico's President Enrique Peña over the decision to build a wall along the southern border.

ANTONIO MORA (NewsHour):  Let's take a closer look now at the rift developing between President Trump and Mexico's Enrique Pena Nieto.

For what that might mean for both countries, I'm joined by Roger Noriega of the American Enterprise Institute.  He's a former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs in the George W. Bush administration.  And James Carafano, vice president of the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation.

Very good to have you both here.

Roger, I want to start with you.

Was the cancellation of this meeting, because both leaders were backed into a corner, Donald Trump by his promises in the campaign that he was going to build that wall and Mexico was going to pay for it, and Pena Nieto because his approval ratings are so terrible, that he has to play hardball politically?

ROGER NORIEGA, American Enterprise Institute:  Well, I think it's fair to say that this was a very uncomfortable exchange between these two leaders.

Certainly, I think President Trump didn't want to be seen as having a meeting canceled on him, so he suggested that it was a common decision to maybe reschedule.

But, from the point of view of Pena Nieto, he — you know, the insistence that Mexico's going to pay for a wall, in spite of his declarations to the contrary, put this very weak president on the defensive at home.

And, you know, this is our second largest trading partner.  This is a country we should be cultivating a positive dialogue about how we work together to make ourselves more secure and more competitive vis-a-vis the rest of the world.

ANTONIO MORA:  And, James, did Pena Nieto have really any choice, after President Trump tweeted that the meeting had to be canceled if Mexico wasn't going to pay for the wall?

JAMES CARAFANO, Heritage Foundation:  Yes, I don't think it's just about that tweet.

And I want to start by saying, I think the Mexican government actually started out exactly right, and not just what the president has said, but the whole the way the campaign rhetoric was portrayed.  That's what's being dumped into Latin America.  They're not watching FOX News.

And, I mean, they're basically hearing a very vitriolic, very aggressive description of this.




"White House floats import tax amid tensions with Mexico" PBS NewsHour 1/26/2017

"Congress would be willing to foot the bill$" aka 'we are going to shaft tax payers for the bill$.'

AND 'criminal immigrants' = being Mexican.

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  President Trump's push for a wall on the border has opened a diplomatic rift with Mexico.  After Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced he was canceling a visit to Washington, Mr. Trump gave no ground at a GOP retreat in Philadelphia.  Congressional leaders said Congress would be willing to foot the bill for a wall for now.  Lisa Desjardins talks to Judy Woodruff from Philadelphia.

IN MEMORIAM - Mary Tyler Moore 1936-2017

"TV pioneer Mary Tyler Moore was a modern woman's role model" PBS NewsHour 1/25/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  She had an iconic smile and laugh, but actress and comedian Mary Tyler Moore was also a revolutionary.  The Oscar-nominated actress famously played a single career woman next door and a quirky housewife, changing how women were portrayed.  Jeffrey Brown reflects on her life with Cynthia Littleton of Variety; and Dick Cavett, a former friend of the late television icon, who died at the age of 80.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  It was sitcom television that signaled and helped push larger cultural change, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in the 1970s, in which the actress played a single, 30-something working woman, Mary Richards, a TV producer at a local Minneapolis station, here with her boss, played by Ed Asner.

ED ASNER, Actor:  You know what?  You have got spunk.

(LAUGHTER)

MARY TYLER MOORE, Actress:  Well …

ED ASNER:  I hate spunk.

(LAUGHTER)

ED ASNER:  I'll tell you what.  I will try you out for a couple of weeks and see how it works out.  If I don't like you, I will fire you.

MARY TYLER MOORE:  Right, right.

ED ASNER:  If you don't like me, I will fire you.

(LAUGHTER)

MARY TYLER MOORE:  That certainly seems fair.

I will get a towel from the kitchen.

JEFFREY BROWN:  In the '60s, Moore had been a beloved figure in a more traditional role for women, as the frazzled, but often hilarious wife of Dick Van Dyke on the show bearing his name.

MARY TYLER MOORE:  Snow White lived.

(LAUGHTER)

DICK VAN DYKE, Actor:  Oh, what a day.

(LAUGHTER)

JEFFREY BROWN:  Over the years, she won seven Emmy Awards for her television roles, and an Oscar-nominated performance in the 1980 film “Ordinary People,” the story of a disintegrating family following a son's death.

Moore wrote and spoke of her own struggles, a battle with alcoholism, and with the diabetes she lived with for some 40 years.  She was also a champion for animal rights.

Mary Tyler Moore was 80 years old.

A short time ago, I spoke with Dick Cavett.  He interviewed Mary Tyler Moore a number of times over the years, and was a good friend.

TRUMP AGENDA - Immigration

Based on fear, unfairly targets 'the others' as a danger to America.  A betrayal of American values.

"What do Trump's new orders on immigration really do?" PBS NewsHour 1/25/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  President Trump is tackling one of his election promises by ordering a border wall and cracking down on illegal immigration by stripping funding from “sanctuary cities” and ending a policy of releasing undocumented immigrants.  Judy Woodruff gets views on what these moves mean from Marielena Hincapie of the National Immigration Law Center and Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  We take a deeper look now at President Trump's executive actions on immigration and border security with Marielena Hincapie, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.  It's an immigrant rights group.  And Jessica Vaughan, she's from the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for tougher border security.

And we welcome both of you to the program.

Marielena, I'm going to start with you.

Overall reaction to what the President had to say today?

MARIELENA HINCAPIE, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center:  Well, Judy, we are — we find this announcement today as an extremist policy.

I think President Trump's campaign rhetoric that was anti-immigrant, xenophobic, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim today is becoming a harsh reality.  And it's sending a message of great fear to immigrant communities across the country.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Jessica Vaughan, reaction to what he had to say overall?

JESSICA VAUGHAN, Center for Immigration Studies:  This is a very impressive set of actions.  He really went big.

But that is what was needed to restore integrity to our immigration system, and to not only secure the border, but also restart interior enforcement, which has collapsed in the last few years, and shine that not only do we need border security, but it has to be backed up by policies that make sure that people cannot game our system.

You know, the end to the catch and release system that's been in place for the last few years is going to make a big difference in deterring future illegal immigration.  And that's important.  We needed to start sending that message to people that they aren't going to be able to get away with just getting to the United States, getting in, and then being home-free from enforcement.

THE LEADING EDGE - 'Age of Aquarius' Back?

"Why psychedelic drugs are having a medical renaissance" PBS NewsHour 1/25/2017

Age of Aquarius: "The 1967 musical 'Hair,' with its opening song 'Aquarius' and the memorable line 'This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius'" ushered in the Aquarian Age, which included use of psychedelic drugs.  Lets trip-out!

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  For C.J. Hardin, an Army veteran, dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder is an everyday feat.  After years of pills and therapy failed to help his disorder, Hardin knew he needed an alternative.  So he turned to a surprising substitute that's at the forefront of a revolution in neuroscience and medicine:  psychedelics like MDMA and psilocybin.  Science correspondent Miles O'Brien reports.

SGT. C.J. HARDIN (RET.), U.S. Army Veteran:  I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Fort Campbell.

MILES O'BRIEN (NewsHour):  C.j. Hardin is a former Army helicopter mechanic and machine gunner who faced imminent death in Iraq, and also after he got home.

C.J. HARDIN:  The way that my emotions ran, and how it felt uncontrollable, I didn't trust myself having a weapon around me, because I was suicidal, very suicidal at that point.

MILES O'BRIEN:  Years of pills and talk therapy failed to help his post-traumatic stress disorder.  So, he turned to a surprising alternative at the center of a revolution in neuroscience and medicine.

DR. MICHAEL MITHOEFER, Therapist:  So, this is the MDMA that we use for the current study.

MILES O'BRIEN:  Hardin took MDMA, more commonly known as Ecstasy, under the watchful eyes of therapists Michael and Annie Mithoefer, a husband-and-wife team based in Charleston, South Carolina.

DR. MICHAEL MITHOEFER:  This is where we do the MDMA sessions.

We don't know how this works, but we have ideas about it.

MILES O'BRIEN:  In one study of 19 subjects, more than 80 percent reported significant improvement, after carefully guided sessions like this.

SGT.  C.J.  HARDIN:  Which I knew was the PTSD.  I was never feeling comfortable at home.

I was still lucid, but it just felt like I had opened up a new avenue of thinking.

MILES O'BRIEN:  C.J. Hardin says the difference for him was like night and day.

SGT.  C.J. HARDIN:  I had three experiences at full dosage, but the effects after the first treatment were profound.  I would have said a 60 percent reduction in my symptoms immediately.  I felt a mighty change had occurred.

TRUMP WORLD - Priorities

Jobs before environment, deregulation above health, and oil money above everything else.

"Seeing impediments to jobs, Trump prioritizes pipelines over environmental protections" PBS NewsHour 1/24/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL Pipeline were put on hold during the Obama administration.  But new executive orders by President Trump begin putting them back on track, as part of efforts to undo former President Obama's legacy.  How do these moves fit into the broader Trump agenda for energy and the environment?  William Brangham talks with Valerie Volcovici of Reuters.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  Two of those moves gave new life to two of the most contentious oil pipelines in America, the Dakota Access Pipeline, which hundreds of Native American groups have been protesting, as well as the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Both of these had been delayed or put on hold by the Obama administration.

To understand how these moves fit into the Trump administration's broader plans for energy and environmental policy, I'm joined by Valerie Volcovici.  She covers this for Reuters.

Welcome.

VALERIE VOLCOVICI, Reuters:  Thank you.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  So let's talk about these two pipelines in particular.

The Dakota Access pipeline, what did Trump's order say about that?

VALERIE VOLCOVICI:  So, Trump's order this morning basically said that he wants to expedite the process.

As you well know, the Dakota Access protest has really galvanized Native American tribal sovereignty issues.  It's brought together so, wide coalition of environmentalists, social activists, in addition to tribes.

So it's been one of the more high-profile protests that we have seen in a while.  Right now, it's kind of stalled because former President Obama ordered an environmental review of a kind of contentious section of this pipeline that the tribe argues crosses into some sacred sites.  His aim is really to move it along, because…

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  He wants to get this built.

VALERIE VOLCOVICI:  He wants to get it built, and he said so on the campaign trail, and he is following through on day four, whatever it is, of the administration.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  Yes, this one really wasn't that much of a surprise, if you had been listening to him all along.

VALERIE VOLCOVICI:  Right.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  And then what about the Keystone XL?  That is a slightly different issue.  This was another pipeline that goes from Canada down to the Gulf.

And this was one that Obama for many, many years seemed to wrangle with and debate what to do, and then eventually denied the permit for it.  What did Trump do today?

VALERIE VOLCOVICI:  Well, what Trump did today is, first of all, it invited Canada to reapply.  TransCanada is the company that wants to get it built.  As far as I'm aware, TransCanada has said it wants to reapply.

And then it will have the State Department.  They will do an environmental impact assessment of the permit and decide whether or not to issue it.  And it needs to be done within 60 days.

So, again, another sign that Trump wants to fast-track this, because, as we remember from the Keystone fights, it lasted a long time and kind of became a symbol of President Obama's environmental goals and it really also galvanized the environmentalists.

EDUCATION - Making the Grade

"School district tries making its police ‘more guardian than warrior'" PBS NewsHour 1/24/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, there's been an increased police presence at schools.  But that presence has also sparked concerns.  According to a recent analysis, black students are more likely to be arrested on campus than their white counterparts.  Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza of Education Week reports on how the Saint Paul public schools are changing their approach.

KAVITHA CARDOZA, Special correspondent:  Minnesota — it's known for the Vikings, Lake Wobegon, and being nice.

But, in the past year, a series of violent interactions within the St. Paul school system has taken center stage, school fights, teacher assaults, and one incident where a visiting student was arrested for trespassing, all caught on cell phones and, of course, widely shared on social media.

Teachers threatened to strike, the superintendent was fired, and more than 100 students walked out in protest.

Makkah Abdur Salaam is a senior.

MAKKAH ABDUR SALAAM, Student:  The truth is, I don't feel safe around police.  Like, it's point blank, period.

KAVITHA CARDOZA:  Students like Saffiyah Al'Aziz Muhammed say rocky police-civilian relations have filtered down to schools all over the country.

SAFFIYAH AL'AZIZ MOHAMMED, Student:  Us seeing all this police brutality in the media, and then going to school, and then your interactions with school police aren't good, it's kind of, like, traumatizing a little bit.

KAVITHA CARDOZA:  Nationwide, there were nearly 70,000 arrests during the 2013 school year.  And, in most states, black students are far more likely to be arrested, according to an analysis of federal data by the Education Week Research Center.

One reason might be that they are far more likely to be in schools with police officers.

Laura Olson is trying to change the relationship between students and police officers in St. Paul schools.

LAURA OLSON, Saint Paul Public Schools:  If students don't feel safe when they come to school, they're not going to be in a position to learn.

KAVITHA CARDOZA:  One of the first things she did?  Change the uniforms.

Some students expressed that they felt uncomfortable, kind of that paramilitary look.  So, over the summer, instead of the hard military-style blue and metal badge, they moved to a more soft blue polo shirt with stitched-on badge.

Officers, known as School Resource Officers, are still armed and carry Tasers, but Olson hopes this softer look makes them more approachable.

Another change?  Clarify when SRO's should step in and when should they step aside.

THE ATLANTIC - Obama, Post-Presidency

"The life of an ex-President after leaving office" PBS NewsHour 1/24/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Can an ex-President have fun?  Atlantic writer Barbara Bradley Hagerty examined the lives of modern Presidents to see how they fared in the real world after leaving office in middle age.  As part of a collaboration with The Atlantic, Hagerty tells Judy Woodruff that Jimmy Carter was the trailblazer, Bill Clinton the moneymaker, George W. Bush the laid-back painter.  So what's next for Barack Obama?

BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY, The Atlantic:  Well, generally, Presidents — and let's refer throughout history — unless Presidents were wealthy, they generally had to work.

So, George Washington became the largest whiskey distiller.  And, you know, William Howard Taft became the Supreme Court chief justice.  So, they had to work.

But, more recently, what I was interested in seeing is that Presidents are living so long now.  And when a President leaves in midlife, at the peak of his game, what does he do then?  What does he do for an encore?

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  So, over time, the idea of what to do and the amount of time has changed.  Take us back to modern Presidents.  I mean, you looked at Jimmy Carter.

BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY:  Jimmy Carter, he had a rough landing after his Presidency, which is not atypical.

So, Jimmy Carter loses to — in a landslide — to Ronald Reagan, and he comes home to Plains, Georgia, and there he finds that his business, his peanut business, is a million dollars in debt, that his house is in need of repair, and, literally, the forest has come right up to his back step, their back step.

And it was kind of this metaphor for Jimmy Carter's life.  How does he navigate through the thicket?  How does he have meaning in his life, after he was a one-term, relatively unpopular President?  And so that was his challenge.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And he was in his mid-50s.

BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY:  He was.  He was 56.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, how did he go about figuring out what he would do?

BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY:  When you look at Carter, what you saw was a man who was — his personality, he was very smart, very ambitious, and he had a kind of biblical ethos.

In fact, Walter Mondale told me that Jimmy Carter said, “You know, when this is all over, I want to be a missionary.”

So there's that.  And then there was his Presidency.  And what you saw in the Presidency, it was a rough Presidency, but he had this one defining area, right, Camp David, peace between Israel and Egypt.

THE RESISTANCE - Trump World 1/23/2017

"Sen. Schumer on Democratic opposition under Trump" PBS NewsHour 1/23/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  As the Republican-led House and Senate seek to help President Trump deliver on many of his campaign promises, Democrats -- led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer -- plan to make it a bumpy road.  Schumer sits down with Judy Woodruff to discuss the president's debut, the challenge of repealing the Affordable Care act, Trump's Cabinet nominees and where both parties might work together.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Republican control of the House and Senate offers President Trump an opportunity to deliver on many of his campaign promises.  But Democrats plan to make that a rocky road.

The main voice of the opposition is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

We sat down at the Capitol this afternoon.

And I began by asking him how he would characterize these first days of the Trump administration.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, Minority Leader:  It's been bumpy, to say the least.

The rollout, so to speak, at the CIA was really terrible, to stand on sacred ground, people who had given their lives for our country, and then to spend all his time talking about extraneous things that related to himself.

You know, what he has to realize is, he's president, not candidate.  Instead of talking about the numbers of people who showed up at his inauguration, he ought to be talking about the number of people he's gotten into the middle class, gotten good-paying jobs.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, already this morning and over the last few days, he started signing executive orders.

One of them has to do with the Trans-Pacific partnership, the trade pact.  There was another one on the Affordable Care Act.  So they are making some statements, aren't they?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:  But some of these mean very little.

The TPP was dead long before he became President.  If he wanted to do something real on trade, he could have done what he promised to do over and over again in his campaign, call China a currency manipulator.  He said, on the first day I'm in office, I will call China a currency manipulator.

That would have done something.

On his ACA, on the Obamacare, he said, keep the good things, get rid of the bad things and obey the law.

They're so locked in a terrible position on ACA.  In other words, they want to keep the good things and repeal it, but they don't know how to do it.




"Do Americans care about Trump's feud with the press?" PBS NewsHour 1/23/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  It was a weekend of conflict over facts between the Trump administration and the news media.  Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, Tamara Keith of NPR, and Reuters' Jeff Mason president of the White House Correspondents' Association, join Judy Woodruff to discuss the president's tense relationship with the press and more.

BEYOND THE RED CARPET - 'Manchester by the Sea'

"‘Manchester by the Sea' is a study in loss and love" PBS NewsHour 1/23/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  “Manchester by the Sea” is the story of what happens after an uncle is asked to take care of his nephew after the death of the boy's father.  The film deals with loss, grief, and the idea of closure, but director Kenneth Lonergan tells Jeffrey Brown it's really a story about love.

ANTONIO MORA (NewsHour):  It's award season in Hollywood, and one of the most highly praised films of the year, “Manchester by the Sea,” was nominated for six Academy Awards this week.

Its director, Kenneth Lonergan was nominated for two of them.

Jeffrey Brown spoke with him recently at the Atlantic Theater in New York.

This report is part of our ongoing coverage of awards for the 2016 movie season, Beyond the Red Carpet.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  In an early scene in the film, “Manchester by the Sea,” Lee Chandler learns that his recently deceased brother has named him as his nephew's guardian, and the weight of the world comes crashing down again.

CASEY AFFLECK, Actor:  He can't live with me.  I live in one room.

ACTOR:  Well, but Joe has provided for Patrick's upkeep, food, clothes, et cetera.  And the house the boat are owned outright.

CASEY AFFLECK:  I can't commute from Boston every day until he turns 18.

ACTOR:  I think the idea was that you would relocate.

CASEY AFFLECK:  Relocate to where?  Here?

JEFFREY BROWN:  As played by Casey Affleck, Lee is a lost, mostly silent man at sea over some hidden grief.

But, says director Kenneth Lonergan, it's more than that.

KENNETH LONERGAN, Director, “Manchester by the Sea”:  I don't see it as a film about grief.  I see it as a film about love, and about people trying to help each other and take care of each other, as much as it's a film about grief.  It is about grief, obviously, but it's really about someone who's trying to do right by his family, even though he's ready to quit.

THE RESISTANCE - Via In These Times

"HOW CORPORATE MEDIA THREATENS OUR DEMOCRACY" by Bernie Sanders, In These Times 1/26/2017

MEDIA SHAPES OUR VERY LIVES.  It tells us what products we need to buy and, by the quantity and nature of coverage, what is “important” and what is “unimportant.”  Media informs us as to the scope of what is “realistic” and “possible.”

When we see constant coverage of murders and brutality on television, corporate media is telling us that crime and violence are important issues that we should be concerned about.  When there is round-the-clock coverage of the Super Bowl, we are being informed that football and the NFL deserve our rapt attention.  When there is very little coverage of the suffering of the 43 million Americans living in poverty, or the thousands of Americans without health insurance who die each year because they can't get to a doctor when they should, corporately owned media is telling us that these are not issues of major concern.  For years, major crises like climate change, the impact of trade agreements on our economy, the role of big money in politics and youth unemployment have received scant media coverage.  Trade union leaders, environmentalists, low-income activists, people prepared to challenge the corporate ideology, rarely appear on our TV screens.

Media is not just about what is covered and how.  It is about what is not covered.  And those decisions, of what is and is not covered, are not made in the heavens.  They are made by human beings who often have major conflicts of interest.

As a general rule of thumb, the more important the issue is to large numbers of working people, the less interesting it is to corporate media.  The less significant it is to ordinary people, the more attention the media pays.  Further, issues being pushed by the top 1 percent get a lot of attention.  Issues advocated by representatives of working families, not so much.

For the corporate media, the real issues facing the American people— poverty, the decline of the middle class, income and wealth inequality, trade, healthcare, climate change, etc.—are fairly irrelevant.  For them, politics is largely presented as entertainment.  With some notable exceptions, reporters are trained to see a campaign as if it were a game show, a baseball game, a soap opera, or a series of conflicts.

I saw this time and time again.

Turn on CNN or other networks covering politics and what you will find is that the overwhelming amount of coverage is dedicated to personality, gossip, campaign strategy, scandals, conflicts, polls and who appears to be winning or losing, fundraising, the ups and downs of the campaign trail, and the dumb things a candidate may say or do.  It has very little to do with the needs of the American people and the ideas or programs a candidate offers to address the problems facing the country.

According to a study of media coverage of the 2016 primaries by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, only 11 percent of coverage focused on candidates' policy positions, leadership abilities and professional histories.  My personal sense is that number is much too high.

The “politics as entertainment” approach works very well for someone like Donald Trump, an experienced entertainer.  That kind of media approach didn't work so well for a campaign like ours, which was determined to focus on the real problems facing our country and what the solutions might be.  For the corporate media, name-calling and personal attacks are easy to cover, and what it prefers to cover.

While I was still considering whether or not to run, I did a long interview with a very prominent national newspaper writer.  Over and over I stressed that I wanted to talk about my assessment of the major problems facing the country, and how I proposed to address them.  And for 45 minutes, that's what the discussion was about.  The reporter appeared interested in what I had to say, and I thought we had a good conversation.  At the very end, as he was leaving, he said: “Oh, by the way, Hillary Clinton said such and such.  What's your comment?”  I fell for it.  Needless to say, that one-minute response became the major part of his story.  And that occurred time after time after time.

On a CNN show, an interviewer became visibly angry because I chose not to respond to her questions with personal attacks against Secretary Clinton.  The interviewer opined that I didn't have “sharp enough elbows” to become a serious candidate, that I wasn't tough enough.  Identifying the major problems facing our country, and providing ideas as to how we could address them, was just not good enough.

In fact, I was gently faulted by some for having excessive “message discipline,” for spending too much time discussing real issues.  Boring.  The result of all of these factors is that while I was getting coverage, it was far less than what other candidates were getting.

In a Dec.  11, 2015, blog post for Media Matters for America, Eric Boehlert wrote:

ABC World News Tonight has de voted less than one minute to Bernie Sanders' campaign this year.

In his article, Boehlert also reported that:

Trump has received more network coverage than all the Democratic candidates combined.  ?

Republican Jeb Bush received 56 minutes of coverage.



"With Donald Trump as President, Americans Are Flocking to Socialism" by Kate Aronoff, In These Times 1/23/2017

One evening the week before Christmas, about 100 people squeezed into a room in the Brooklyn Free School, located on one of central Brooklyn's posher streets.  The private school's chair collection exhausted itself within minutes as attendees packed the room for the monthly meeting of the Brooklyn chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)—which, just a month earlier, had fit easily into the same space.

Since Nov 8, 2016, thousands have joined DSA.  The organization has ballooned to over 14,000 members, more than doubling in size from 6,500 members in May 2016.  DSA National Director Maria Svart says of new sign-ups, “You could literally see the moment when Trump was declared the winner.”

Organizations such as the ACLU and Planned Parenthood are reporting a similar spike in new members and donations in the wake of Trump's election.  But interest in socialist groups, grown accustomed to being small and isolated in U.S. politics, appears to be surging in a way it hasn't in decades.  Many of those joining are young people who don't have their parents' Cold War hangups about socialism.  Politicians like Bernie Sanders—an avowed socialist whom many supporters are looking to for an effective counter to Trump—have further sparked their interest in a politics outside mainstream Democrats and Republicans.

That puts DSA in a promising, if uncertain, position in the wake of Trump's election.  “People … are looking to DSA as an organization that full throatedly supported Bernie Sanders in the primary and has the potential to be a serious part of the fightback, both to Trump and to the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party,” says Svart.

Founded in 1982 out of the remnants of the '60s New Left, DSA also has roots in Eugene Debs' Socialist Party of America, which at its height in 1912 boasted 113,000 dues-paying members.  Eager to avoid the pitfalls of insular ideological squabbles, DSA strives to work with community organizations and social movements.  Following the election, DSA chapters have mobilized to support organizing by communities threatened by Trump and his supporters, including local mosques and immigrant rights organizations.  DSA is also working on building a multiracial membership—its current members are predominantly white—while supporting existing organizing by communities of color.  Brooklyn DSA's Racial Justice working group, for example, is partnering with the New York-based group Communities United for Police Reform to help pass the Right to Know Act, aimed at increasing transparency and accountability on the part of the NYPD.

Ultimately, says Svart, there's agreement within the organization about “the need for a multi-racial, anti-capitalist movement that is in touch with the grassroots.”

For now, DSA is proving an on-ramp for those frustrated with Trump and the Democratic establishment alike.  The Brooklyn meeting on Dec 22, 2016, was the first for Hannah Silverman, a New York native who worked on local Democratic campaigns in high school but grew disillusioned with politics before heading off to Brown University, where she graduated in 2015.

“I was afraid [the meeting] would feel futile,” she said as chairs were being collected toward the end.  Instead, she was pleasantly surprised by the tailored facilitation—after a discussion of the importance of organizing “openly as socialists” at the local level, the meeting broke out into smaller committees on everything from affordable housing fights to climate justice—and the high attendance.  “Looking at Trump's election, the only way to spin it positively is that it compelled a lot of people to become politically active,” she noted.  “It created a sense of urgency that was missing.”  She plans to attend next month's meeting.  In New York City alone, DSA now has 1,000 members.

But deep-blue Brooklyn isn't the only place where democratic socialism is undergoing a resurgence.  Local organizers are in the process of getting six new chapters off the ground in Florida and four in Ohio, both of which went for Trump in November.  DSA's tiny national staff, funded entirely by dues and small donations, has been overwhelmed by requests to create new chapters around the country and is looking for ways to expand accordingly.

Tom Tilden, 59, is among those DSA members setting up shop for socialism deep in Trump country.  Tilden is a DSA veteran, having joined when he lived in Chicago in the late '80s.  But when he moved to Nebraska in 1993, Tilden says, he didn't consider starting a new chapter there, though he remained a member of the national organization.  When people talk about “the Left” in conservative Nebraska, Tilden explains, they're referring to “people in the middle of the Democratic Party leftward.  ‘The Left' is progressive.  People don't usually think in terms of socialist.”

But that may be changing after Sanders' primary run, which “changed the nature of the Democratic Party in the state” while stripping away some of the taboos that plague socialist politics, says Tilden.  In Nebraska's March 2016 caucus, Clinton won just 10 of the state's pledged delegates to Sanders' 15, and he successfully won over some of the state's most rural counties.  Since the caucuses, Tilden has been working to get a new chapter off the ground in Omaha, and another has sprung up in nearby Lincoln.  About 30 people attended the first meeting in December 2016.

Like many other DSA members around the country, Tilden sees potential in building institutions outside the Democratic Party, but is also a firm believer in trying to stage a takeover from the inside.  This fall, he joined Keystone XL pipeline opponent Jane Kleeb on the ticket to run Nebraska's Democratic Party.  She's now the party's state chair.  Tilden is second associate chair, and has similar goals for his work in this position as he does as a local DSA organizer; Reaching working-class voters, especially those who went for Trump but might yet be won over to the kind of anti-racist, anti-capitalist movement that DSA hopes to build.

“People in rural Nebraska are more progressive than they realize,” Tilden reasons.  While door-knocking during the Sanders campaign, he and other volunteers found that many rural voters took firm stands against corporate agriculture and attacks on public education.  “I think once we work with them on their issue, they'll see that the people on their side are not the Republicans.”

Instead, Tilden hopes, they just might embrace an entirely different shade of red.

Friday, January 27, 2017

OPINION - A Mean Wind is Blowing

"The Politics of Cowardice" by David Brooks, New York Times 1/27/2017

This is a column directed at high school and college students.  I'm going to try to convey to you how astoundingly different the Republican Party felt when I was your age.

The big guy then was Ronald Reagan.  Temperamentally, though not politically, Reagan was heir to the two Roosevelts.  He inherited a love of audacity from T.R. and optimism and charm from F.D.R.

He had a sunny faith in America's destiny and in America's ability to bend global history toward freedom.  He had a sunny faith in the free market to deliver prosperity to all.  He had a sunny faith in the power of technology to deliver bounty and even protect us from nuclear missiles.

He could be very hard on big government or the Soviet Union, but he generally saw the world as a welcoming place; he looked for the good news in others and saw the arc of history bending toward progress.

When he erred it was often on the utopian side of things, believing that tax cuts could pay for themselves, believing that he and Mikhail Gorbachev could shed history and eliminate all nuclear weapons.

The mood of the party is so different today.  Donald Trump expressed the party's new mood to David Muir of ABC, when asked about his decision to suspend immigration from some Muslim countries: “The world is a mess.  The world is as angry as it gets.  What, you think this is going to cause a little more anger?  The world is an angry place.”

Consider the tenor of Trump's first week in office.  It's all about threat perception.  He has made moves to build a wall against the Mexican threat, to build barriers against the Muslim threat, to end a trade deal with Asia to fight the foreign economic threat, to build black site torture chambers against the terrorist threat.

Trump is on his political honeymoon, which should be a moment of joy and promise.  But he seems to suffer from an angry form of anhedonia, the inability to experience happiness.  Instead of savoring the moment, he's spent the week in a series of nasty squabbles about his ratings and crowd sizes.

If Reagan's dominant emotional note was optimism, Trump's is fear.  If Reagan's optimism was expansive, Trump's fear propels him to close in: Pull in from Asian entanglements through rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Pull in from European entanglements by disparaging NATO.  It's not a cowering, timid fear; it's more a dark, resentful porcupine fear.

We have a word for people who are dominated by fear.  We call them cowards.  Trump was not a coward in the business or campaign worlds.  He could take on enormous debt and had the audacity to appear at televised national debates with no clue what he was talking about.  But as President his is a policy of cowardice.  On every front, he wants to shrink the country into a shell.

J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, “A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a shortcut to meet it.”

Desperate to be liked, Trump adopts a combative attitude that makes him unlikable.  Terrified of Mexican criminals, he wants to build a wall that will actually lock in more undocumented aliens than it will keep out.  Terrified of Muslim terrorists, he embraces the torture policies guaranteed to mobilize terrorists.  Terrified that American business can't compete with Asian business, he closes off a trade deal that would have boosted annual real incomes in the United States by $131 billion, or 0.5 percent of G.D.P.  Terrified of Mexican competition, he considers slapping a 20 percent tariff on Mexican goods, even though U.S. exports to Mexico have increased 97 percent since 2005.

Trump has changed the way the Republican Party sees the world.  Republicans used to have a basic faith in the dynamism and openness of the free market.  Now the party fears openness and competition.

In the summer of 2015, according to a Pew Research Center poll, Republicans said free trade deals had been good for the country by 51 to 39 percent.  By the summer of 2016, Republicans said those deals had been bad for America by 61 percent to 32 percent.

It's not that the deals had changed, or reality.  It was that Donald Trump became the Republican nominee and his dark fearfulness became the party's dark fearfulness.  In this case fear is not a reaction to the world.  It is a way of seeing the world.  It propels your reactions to the world.

As Reagan came to office he faced refugee crises, with suffering families coming in from Cuba, Vietnam and Cambodia.  Filled with optimism and confidence, Reagan vowed, “We shall seek new ways to integrate refugees into our society,” and he delivered on that promise.

Trump faces a refugee crisis from Syria.  And though no Syrian-American has ever committed an act of terrorism on American soil, Trump's response is fear.  Shut them out.

Students, the party didn't used to be this way.  A mean wind is blowing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

HUMOR TIMES - Faux News Jan 2017



"Kellyanne Conway: ‘Alternative Words' in Bill of Rights Allow Trump ‘Lots of Latitude'" by Michael Egan, Humor Times 1/24/2017

“Restricting extraneous Freedoms of Press, Religion and Speech, and establishing Christianity as the State Religion are also ‘Alt-Word' permitted,” said Kellyanne Conway, “as is, of course, the quartering of soldiers in your home.”

NYC – Motormouth propagandist Kellyanne Conway, Trump's ministress of misinformation, said today that “alternative words” in the Bill of Rights “clearly permit Congress to impose legal restrictions on an unpatriotic and out-of-control lugenpresse.”

Asked to cite the actual language allowing Congress to restrict press and religious liberty, Ms Conway laughed merrily.

“Freedom is in the eye of the beholder,” she said, adding that “citing actual words is what liberals do.”

The First Amendment's “Alt-Word” meanings, she noted, “are as clear as the photographs of Mr Trump's million-person inauguration.

“Just take a look, and you'll see for yourself.”

The misinformation ministress went on: “The trick is to view the First Amendment in a shady light.  If you squint your eyes and hold it at the right angle, and I do mean the Right angle, you'll see that its Alt-Words reveal numerous restrictions.”

“It's like that blue dress/gold dress thing.  You see it one way but Mr Trump sees it another — gold, of course.”

Kellyanne listed some of the First Amendments' alt-word limits.  “For example, you can't shout ‘Donald Trump is lying, racist, fascist bastard!' in a crowded election,” she said.  “Even if it's true.”

Finally, Ms Conway noted that the inability of some Americans to view the Bill of Rights in the proper light was a “tragic disability” comparable to color blindness or muscular degeneration.

The White House would shortly be issuing government “Alt-Read” spectacles to help disadvantaged citizens who stubbornly continue to see things in the old way.



"Trump Announces Official White House News Outlet" by Diane de Anda, Humor Times 1/23/2017

Press secretary proclaims new era for ‘free press,' thanks to the White House.

Amid all the controversy over Trump's war against the media, he made a stunning announcement today: “To stop the fake news that the lying liberal press like the New York Times is feeding to the American public, I have decided to funnel all White House news through an 'Official White House News Outlet.'  From this day forward, all White House News will be reported through the only reputable newspaper in the country, The National Enquirer.”

Trump then left the podium and press secretary Sean Spicer remained to answer questions from White House staffers who had just been hired on as reporters by the National Enquirer.  Reading from the 3 X 5 cards with assigned questions from the press secretary, a novice reporter asked how this was going to improve communication with the public.

“I'm glad you asked that,” he responded.  “Now every citizen will be able to know what the President is thinking or doing without paying a hefty subscription fee.  They can just pick it up at their local grocery or liquor store.”

“Were any other newspapers considered?” read another.

The Star was a close second, so as a consolation, they will be given a front row seat at any future press conference.”  The press secretary smiled and added as he left the podium, “It will be great to have a truly free press again.”

An interview with the editor of The National Enquirer revealed that due to a huge influx of cash from an anonymous investor, they will be tripling their output, having purchased a new fleet of delivery trucks and three times their present printing equipment, all to be housed for free in the Trump Tower, which he called a “magnanimous gesture” by the President.  They are expecting a surge in sales, particularly in the Rust Belt.

A dark expression then came over the editor's face.  “We have just one problem,” he continued.  “Now that we're giving the White House so much space, we haven't figured out where to put the news on Bigfoot and alien abductions.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

THE RESISTANCE - Plea to Trump Fans

"KEITH OLBERMANN:  IT’S TIME FOR TRUMP TO GO BEFORE HE STARTS A NUCLEAR WAR" by Darragh Roche, Contemptor 1/24/2017

Keith Olbermann

Excerpt

What Trump does not believe, cannot be true.  And that way lies madness,” Olbermann said.  “And lies every evil imaginable and including the end of this country, in a literal sense, perhaps even the end of civilization.”

Olbermann argued that Trump’s ability to convince himself of his own lies showed he was mentally unfit to be President and a danger to the country and its people.  Olbermann appealed to those still supporting Trump to think again, because Trump could start a nuclear war.

Monday, January 23, 2017

OPINION - Brooks and Shields + 1/20/2017

"How did President Trump fare in his first day on the job?" PBS NewsHour 1/20/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  It's Day One of the Trump presidency.  After the pomp of the day's ceremony, what should we take away from the actions and rhetoric of the new President?  Judy Woodruff gets reaction to President Trump's unorthodox Inauguration Day speech and the broader outlook for his administration from syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks and others.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  So, what to make of this day one of the Trump presidency?

Here with me now are NewsHour regulars syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks, and from our politics Monday team, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.  Also joining us, Barry Bennett.  He was campaign manager for Ben Carson in the Republican primaries.  He then served as an adviser to the Trump campaign.

From George Washington University, politics scientist Lara Brown.  Karine Jean-Pierre, she was a senior adviser to MoveOn.org during the 2016 elections.  And Matt Schlapp, he is chair of the American Conservative Union.  He joins us from downtown Washington.

We can see the Capitol behind you, Matt.

So, let me start with the NewsHour regulars, Mark Shields and David Brooks.

David, I will start with you.

What is the main takeaway from this day?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  I feel underdressed.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MARK SHIELDS, syndicated columnist:  You have got that blue-collar Republican look.

DAVID BROOKS:  It's the new populist moment.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID BROOKS:  The story of the day was the really unabashed populism and nationalism of the Trump speech.

And so I'm left with two big questions:  How big is this nationalist moment?  It's been spread around the world.  Theresa May just gave an anti — how they're going to withdraw from Brexit, the U.K.  Le Pen is looking good in France.  Putin is riding high.

There's an international movement.  A lot of sort of dismiss as sort of a product of a receding bit of history, but maybe it's the 21st century.  And maybe Trump is riding something, and he will be able to marshal a left-right populist movement.  That's a possibility we should be open to, especially because the anti-populists, people who believe in global trade and global movements, have no guts, no articulation, and really no opposition.

And then the second thing, how is he going to turn this into policy?  How does an outsider who runs against Washington actually rally Washington to launch his agenda?  That's just a gigantic challenge.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Mark Shields?

MARK SHIELDS:  In 1940, there were 137 million people in the United States of America and — 132 million — and there were 600,000 more factory jobs than there are today.

There were eight million more factory jobs in this country than when Jimmy Carter was President of the United States.  So, Donald Trump represents a real grievance, a real constituency.

But what I could not get over in the speech today — and I don't know what the global impact or meaning is, but I do know that it was unlike any inaugural address I have ever heard.  It was a call to arms to those already enlisted in his army.  There was no attempt to reach across the divide.  There was no attempt to heal wounds.  There was no attempt to reassure or allay fears of those who were apprehensive and not supported him.

So, in that sense, it was almost unique, at least in the speeches I have heard.  And it was an unbridled attack upon those Presidents spoke of who were — in William's piece — who were sitting on the dais with him, having praised the Obamas in one sentence for being magnificent, and then saying that this small group who have profited in Washington have been indifferent, and almost cruelly so, to the rest of the country.

So, I just stand in the midnight in America, American carnage, which is, — I think, soon-to-be canceled TV series — but I just have never heard language quite like it or a tone quite like it in an inaugural address.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE - Women's March 2017!

"Women's March leaders aim for ‘solidarity against misogyny'" PBS NewsHour 1/20/2017

NOTE:  "The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States consisting of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives."

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  On Saturday, another crowd will gather on the National Mall -- not to celebrate, but to advocate.  William Brangham talks with Bob Bland and Carmen Perez, co-chairs of the Women's March On Washington, about the organization's mission to protect women's rights, creating a safe space for difficult conversations on sensitive issues and remembering that “we're all people first.”

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  So, in addition to the protests today, there are plans for much more to come tomorrow.

Women from around the country are making their way to the nation's capital, with others preparing for events in cities around the globe.  The crowds on the National Mall on Saturday are expected to be in the hundreds of thousands.

William Brangham recently sat down at the Newseum with two organizers of tomorrow's march, Bob Bland and Carmen Perez.

William began by asking what they hope to accomplish.

BOB BLAND, Co-Chair, Women's March on Washington:  We are bringing together women, men and allies from all different types of communities from all over the country to say that we're standing in solidarity together to say that women's rights are human rights.

CARMEN PEREZ, Co-Chair, Women's March on Washington:  We are coming here so that we could show this new administration that we're not going anywhere, right?

And there are so many more of us that are actually united than we are divided.  This March on Washington is to ensure that Congress (House), our new President and the Senate know that we're going to continue to fight for our rights, that we're going to protect the most marginalized communities.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  What are you marching for, and what are you marching against?

CARMEN PEREZ:  So, we are marching to continue to allow women to make decisions about their bodies and ensure we have reproductive justice rights, immigration reform, criminal justice reform, as well as indigenous rights.

So, there are so many things.  We have been extremely intentional about allowing organizations to get involved, Planned Parenthood, as well as Define American.

BOB BLAND:  And every woman has their own reason for marching.  So, that's the really beautiful thing about this.

We have seen, through the last 18 months and everything that's happened, that we can be complacent no longer.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  There are so many specifics in your guiding principles, everything from minimum wage, to reproductive rights, to environmental concerns, to indigenous people's concerns.

Why was it important to you to be so specific in the things that you're marching for?

CARMEN PEREZ:  We wanted to make sure that there was a mission, there was a vision, that we started organizing for something, not against something, right?  So, this is not a march against Trump.  This is a march on Washington, Congress, the Senate, our President.



"People across the world rally for women's rights" PBS NewsHour 1/21/2017

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  One day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, thousands of people joined the Women's March in Washington, D.C., and other demonstrations around the world; to advocate for reproductive, immigration, racial equality and worker's rights.  The NewsHour Weekend's Ivette Feliciano reports from the main event in D.C.

BRIEF BUT SPECTACULAR - High-Tech Future

"Why we need to ask questions now about our high-tech future" PBS NewsHour 1/19/2017

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SUMMARY:  Your phone probably knows more about the intimate details of your life you than your lover, says futurist Amy Webb.  And you better get used to it -- we'll be spending the rest of our lifetimes in a world shaped by artificial intelligence.  Webb gives her 'Brief But Spectacular' take on the future.

MAKING SEN$E - "Faking Normal"

"55, unemployed and faking normal: One woman's story of barely scraping by" PBS NewsHour 1/19/2017

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SUMMARY:  Elizabeth White has been on the edge of the financial cliff for years, but you'd never know it from outside appearances.  "Everybody is pretending," she says.  In her self-published book Fifty-Five, Unemployed, and Faking Normal she painfully chronicles the crash of a flourishing career and upper-middle class lifestyle -- and she's not alone.  Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.

ELIZABETH WHITE, Author, “Fifty-Five, Unemployed and Faking Normal”:  Everybody is pretending.

PAUL SOLMAN (NewsHour):  And that's why you call the book Faking Normal?

ELIZABETH WHITE:  Right, because there's a lot of pressure to seem like you are doing well.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Elizabeth White is not doing terribly well, as she painfully chronicles in the book she's just self-published, Fifty-Five Unemployed and Faking Normal.

White's been on the edge of the financial cliff for years, even though you would never know it from how she looks or the Washington, D.C. townhouse she bought years ago, one she couldn't even dream of renting today.

But you haven't been in a situation where you literally couldn't afford whatever it is, the condo fee, or?

ELIZABETH WHITE:  Oh, absolutely, I have.  I right now have to park outside because I'm in arrears on the condo fee, right now.

PAUL SOLMAN:  And she's refinanced to the hilt, taken in a boarder.

Well, you haven't used food stamps.

ELIZABETH WHITE:  But I have.  I have had to.

PAUL SOLMAN:  It's been quite a comeuppance for someone with her background.

ELIZABETH WHITE:  I have a bachelor's from Oberlin.  I have a master's in international studies from Johns Hopkins.  I have a Harvard MBA, worked at the World Bank, came in through a program where they recruited 5,000 people.  They took two Americans out of that 25.  I was one of the Americans.

PAUL SOLMAN:  But, ultimately, White decided to leave the bank to start her own business.

ELIZABETH WHITE:  I had a chain of stores, of decorative home stores.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Really?

ELIZABETH WHITE:  Yes.

I sold some of the things you see here, African-inspired products.  I realized that there was an African-American market that wanted things in their home that reflected heritage and culture.  If you wanted to give your little girl a black Raggedy Ann doll, you couldn't easily find it.

So I just curated that from all over.  So, I then bet the ranch that I could get this going.  So, I took a lot of my — not all of it, but I took a big chunk of my World Bank money to sort of fund this.

HEALTH CARE - Doctor's Orders

"Reassessing the value of care for chronic health conditions" PBS NewsHour 1/18/2017

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SUMMARY:  Surgeon Atul Gawande says we need to reconsider healthcare's focus on generously rewarding physicians who practice heroic interventions, rather than those who practice incremental medicine for chronic conditions.  Gawande talks with William Brangham about the value of that kind of care, and the potential effects of a Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

DR. ATUL GAWANDE, The New Yorker:  When you think about the future of health care and where we're going at this moment of debate, there's a transformation going on that involves a recognition that our focus in medicine has been on heroic interventions, like the kind that I do now as a surgeon.

But the biggest gains are coming right now from incremental medicine, from a commitment to the kind of steady, overtime management of complex problems like chronic illnesses that can add years to people's lives.  But that's work done by some of the people with the least resources in our health care system.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  So, who practices incremental medicine in our health care system today?

DR. ATUL GAWANDE:  Well, good examples, just look at the list of who the lowest-paid people are.

Pediatricians are at the bottom.  You would also look at internists.  You would look at psychiatrists.  You would look at family physicians, HIV specialists.  People who take care of chronic illnesses by seeing people carefully over time, those are the people who get the least money.

The people who have the most [pay] are people like orthopedic surgeons, interventional cardiologists.  And my point isn't that — you know, that we're — that there is something wrong with heroism.

My own son has a congenital heart condition, where his life was saved by a cardiac surgeon stepping in at 11 days of life to save his life.  But he is now 21 years old because of constant monitoring and working with him with a primary care physician and people who controlled his blood pressure, recognized problems before they arose, dealt with learning issues that were related to his condition.

And that's the only reason now that he's getting to live a long and healthy life.  That's what we're not rewarding.  They don't have the kind of resources and commitment that we are giving to people like me.  I have millions of dollars of equipment available to me when I go to work every day in an operating room.

The clinicians who keep my son going are lucky if they can have a nurse.