Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Hope you all have a lovely Christmas!  Here is some Christmas cheer, God knows we need it:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

What you need to know about Ben Carson, Trump's pick for HUD

From Politico

Here's an updated rundown of Carson's most controversial comments from his campaign and others that have made waves in the past:

1. On his history of violence

On Thursday, CNN published a report in which reporters interviewed nine friends, former classmates and neighbors to try to corroborate Carson's accounts of personal violence against his mother and acquaintances as a child and as an adolescent. It could not find anyone who would say they were a victim of Carson's or even had knowledge about the incidents.

"I was trying to kill somebody," Carson told a San Francisco audience in September. He wrote in his 1990 best-selling autobiography, "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story," in recounting an incident where as an adolescent he tried to stab a friend: "Grabbing the camping knife I carried in my back pocket, I snapped it open and lunged for the boy who had been my friend. With all the power of my young muscles, I thrust the knife toward his belly. The knife hit his big, heavy ROTC buckle with such force that the blade snapped and dropped to the ground." He has used the story to share his personal journey from troubled youth to highly successful surgeon.

Carson responded defensively on Thursday to a CNN reporter's questions about identifying his victims.

“Well, why would you be able to find them? What makes you think you would be able to find them? Unless I tell you who they are. And if they come forward on their own, because of your story, that’s fine, but I’m not going to expose them," he told the reporter at a Miami book signing for his latest work.

2. On Joseph and the pyramids

On Wednesday, BuzzFeed published an article featuring a video of the then-Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon delivering a commencement address at Andrews College in 1998 in which he discussed his belief that the pyramids in Egypt were built as granaries, not as tombs for pharaohs.

"My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain. Now all the archaeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain," he told students, according to the video posted.

Carson defended his beliefs on Thursday, telling reporters in Miami that “some people believe in the Bible, like I do, and don’t find that to be silly at all and believe that God created the Earth and don’t find that to be silly at all."

"The secular progressives try to ridicule it anytime it comes up, and they’re welcome to do that," he added.

3. On Cuban immigration policies

During an interview with the Miami Herald on Wednesday, Carson admitted that he was not well briefed on the so-called wet-foot, dry-foot policy that determines which Cuban immigrants are allowed to stay and which are immediately deported. He also said he had "not been briefed" on the intricacies of the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows Cubans who come to the U.S. to apply for residency after 366 days.

“You’re going to have to explain to me exactly what you mean by that,” Carson said of the wet-foot, dry-foot question. “I have to admit that I don’t know a great deal about that, and I don’t really like to comment until I’ve had a chance to study the issue from both sides.”

When the reporter explained it to him, Carson said that it sounded "perfectly reasonable."

Asked whether he had any further comment on Thursday in Miami, Carson said he wanted to do an "in-depth deep dive" into the issue. "Because, see, it doesn’t make sense to me, quite frankly, the whole wet foot, dry foot thing doesn’t make sense to me. Because like I said, you catch them a mile off, you treat them differently than if they’re on the shore. And I also recognize that many people have taken advantage of that, and you know, gotten all kinds of benefits that perhaps they don’t deserve," he said. "There are other people who perhaps get denied things that they should have. You know, you need to dive into those things deeply, and I’m not sure that wet foot, dry foot is where the emphasis should be. The emphasis should be on people who are trying to escape an oppressive regime, how do we make sure people not appropriately doing it don’t take advantage of our generosity?"

4. On bathrooms for transgender people

“How about we have a transgender bathroom?” Carson asked Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos in a Thursday interview, adding that “[i]t’s not fair for them to make everybody else uncomfortable."

Carson went on to say that he thought everybody has equal rights, "but I’m not sure anybody should have extra rights — extra rights when it comes to redefining everything for everybody else and imposing your view on everybody else."

Human Rights Campaign denounced the remarks. "Ben Carson can’t go a week without invoking reckless and irresponsible stereotypes about the LGBT community, and his suggestion that transgender people be required to use segregated bathrooms echoes an ugly past our country should never revisit," the group's president, Chad Griffin, said in a statement.

5. On the Declaration of Independence

In a Facebook post late Wednesday evening, Carson stated his case for Americans skeptical about electing a president without experience in elected office.

"The current Members of Congress have a combined 8,700 years of political experience. Are we sure political experience is what we need. Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no federal elected office experience," he wrote. "What they had was a deep belief that freedom is a gift from God. They had a determination to rise up against a tyrannical King. They were willing to risk all they had, even their lives, to be free."

As The Washington Post's Fact Checker blog pointed out to Carson's campaign, however, several members of the committee that drafted the historic document served in their states' equivalent legislatures. The claim earned four Pinocchios.

"Touche. Four Pinnochios? Or do you give credit for intent?" campaign spokesman Doug Watts asked the Post.

6. On Americans who are 'stupid'

On Tuesday, Mother Jones surfaced a video from last November in which Carson addressed an audience at Richard Nixon's presidential library in California, remarking that American "people are not as stupid as [the media] think they are."

"Many of them are stupid, OK. But I'm talking about overall," he said.

Asked to explain his remarks on CNN on Friday, Carson said he was referring to Americans "who take the disadvantaged people in our country and say, 'You poor little thing, I’m going to give you everything that you possibly need.'"

"That’s not helping those people, and all that you have to do is look what's happened since the Great Society programs of Lyndon Johnson. We’ve spent $19 trillion and we have 10 times more people on food stamps, more people in poverty, more broken homes, out of wedlock births, crime, incarceration. Everything is not only worse, it’s much worse. You’d have to be kind of stupid to look at that and not realize that that’s a failure and to say we just didn’t do enough of it. That’s what I call stupid," he told CNN on Friday.

In the same video, he also pointed to Fox News as the only thing keeping the United States from becoming Cuba. Asked by CNN if he meant that the U.S. would be a communist nation if not for the 19-year-old cable news network, Carson fired back. “No," he responded. "Again, there you go with sensationalism."

7. On Nazi Germany and guns

"I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed," Carson said in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday. "I'm telling you, there is a reason these dictatorial people take the guns first."

The comment followed Blitzer's reading of a passage from Carson's new book, “A More Perfect Union: What We the People Can Do To Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties," in which the retired neurosurgeon wrote that "German citizens were disarmed by their government in the late 1930s, and by the mid-1940s, Hitler's regime had mercilessly slaughtered 6 million Jews and numerous others whom they considered inferior. Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating deceitful propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance."

Carson explained what he meant in subsequent interviews the next day.

"This is a general pattern that you see before tyranny occurs. There are many countries where that has occurred where they disarm the populace before they impose their tyrannical rule," he said on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" in October. "That’s not a rare situation and that’s something that we don’t want to ever even think about, and that’s one of the reasons that Daniel Webster said what he said. He said there will never be tyranny in the United States because the people are armed."

8. On how he would handle an active-shooter situation

The candidate told "Fox and Friends" that if a gunman like the one who killed nine people at Umpqua Community College in Oregon had walked up to him and asked his religion, he would not go along.

"Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me, I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all,'" Carson suggested, when talking about the October killings.

9. On solving the crisis of gun violence

In a Facebook post, Carson answered a question from an email in which he was asked whether the shooting in Oregon had changed his feelings on the issue.

"I grew up in the slums of Detroit. I saw plenty of gun violence as a child. Both of my cousins were killed on the streets. As a Doctor, I spent many a night pulling bullets out of bodies," he wrote. "There is no doubt that this senseless violence is breathtaking — but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away. Serious people seek serious solutions," he added.

10. On how progressives think he's an 'Uncle Tom'

In an interview with conservative radio host Dennis Prager earlier this week and posted by BuzzFeed News on Friday, Carson claimed that most of the racism in the United States comes from the left.

“I’m not sure I agree that there isn’t a fair amount of racism here," he said in response to a statement from Prager that the U.S. is the least racist country of those with multiple races.

"There is, but it’s not where you would expect it to be," Carson continued, "it is mostly with the progressive movement who will look at someone like me, and because of the color of my pigment, they decide that there’s a certain way that I’m supposed to think. And if I don’t think that way, I’m an Uncle Tom and they heap all kinds of hatred on you. That, to me, is racism.”

11. On comparing the D-Day invasion to his presidential campaign and movement

Speaking to the National Press Club, Carson drew an analogy between his presidential campaign and the D-Day invasion of Normandy in World War II.

"What if on D-Day, our soldiers, invading the beaches at Normandy, had seen their colleagues being cut down — a hundred bodies laying in the sand, a thousand bodies laying in the sand — what if they had been frightened and turned back?" he asked, in concluding his speech.

"Well, I guarantee you they were frightened, but they didn't turn back. They stepped over the bodies of their colleagues, knowing in many cases that they would never see their homeland or their loved ones again. And they stormed those Axis troops, and they took that beach, and they died. Why did they do that? They didn't do that for themselves. They did it for you — and they did it for me. And now it's our turn," he went on.

"And what are we willing to do for our children, and our grandchildren. Are we willing to stand up? Or are we afraid that somebody's going to call us a nasty name? Or that we're going to get an IRS audit? Or that somebody's going to mess with our job?" he asked. "You know, we have a lot less to lose than they did. And the people who are always telling me to hang in there, don't let them get to you. Believe me: Do not worry about it, because the stakes are much too high."

12. On whether a Muslim should be president or nominated to the Supreme Court

"I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that," Carson told NBC News' Chuck Todd during the episode of "Meet the Press" that aired Sept. 20.

He went on to say that Muslim members of Congress are a different situation, but that it depends who that person is and "what their policies are, just as it depends on what anybody else says, you know."

"And, you know, if there's somebody who's of any faith, but they say things, and their life has been consistent with things that will elevate this nation and make it possible for everybody to succeed, and bring peace and harmony, then I'm with them," he explained.

Weeks later, Carson addressed his stance toward the third branch of the government.

"If I were the one nominating such a person, I would spend a good deal of time looking at their background and seeing if it is consistent with the kinds of standards that we expect from such a position," Carson told Hugh Hewitt in an Oct. 1 interview. "I would take that into account much more than what they had to say. It’s been part of the problem, I think, with some of the selections. We listen to what they say and not what they have done."

Carson said that he would not have a problem with nominating a Muslim to a judicial position so long as her or she is "willing to accept the principles and values of America and our Constitution."

13. On whether being gay is a choice

Two months before he declared his candidacy, Carson sat down on CNN's "New Day" and in the course of the interview remarked that being gay is a choice, citing the example of people who go to prison straight and come out gay.

"A lot of people who go into prison straight and when they come out, they’re gay, so did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question," he told Chris Cuomo.

Carson apologized later in the day. "I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that, I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended," he said.

14. On the worst thing since slavery

At the Values Voter Summit in October 2013, Carson remarked that "Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery."

"And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control," he said.

On a separate occasion, Carson suggested that Obamacare was worse than 9/11, though he walked back the comments back the next day.

15. Americans are living in a 'Gestapo age'

At a March 2014 event in New York, a reporter for Breitbart News asked: "I've been told that he [Carson] said we're living in a 'Gestapo age'. What do you mean by that?"

“I mean very much like Nazi Germany — and I know you’re not supposed to talk about Nazi Germany, but I don’t care about political correctness — you know, you had a government using its tools to intimidate a population,” Carson said. “We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe, and it's because of the PC police, it's because of politicians, because of news — all of these things are combining to stifle people's conversation.”

HUD spelled backwards is DUH!

Monday, December 19, 2016

What you need to know about Linda McMahon

From Vocativ

As if we needed more proof that reality has become the WWE Films cinematic universe, President-elect Donald Trump announced last Wednesday that Linda McMahon—one of the WWE’s most powerful figures for 29 years next to her husband, company chairman and CEO Vince McMahon—is his choice to head the Small Business Administration. Mrs. McMahon left the WWE in 2009 to run as a Republican for Connecticut’s US Senate seat in 2010 and 2012 but lost both elections despite investing some $97 million of her personal fortune into those campaigns, a blow that many expected to be the end of her political career.

However, the quid pro quo world of politics has smiled upon the McMahon family’s largesse. Vince and Linda McMahon donated $4 million to the Trump Foundation in 2007, a year that saw the Trump foundation with under $5,000 in the bank at one point. Further, FEC filings show Linda gave $7 million to pro-Trump super PACs this year. All told, not a bad return on investment, as Linda will now control an administration with offices in every state in the union and the power to extend loans and federal contracts to businesses in those states.

“Once you’re his friend, he is loyal to the end,” McMahon said of Trump in an interview with the AP in September. “He’s an incredibly loyal, loyal friend.” Apparently so.

It must be noted, though, that there is a palpable irony in McMahon’s posting to the Small Business Administration given her experience with her own altogether massive business, World Wrestling Entertainment. McMahon acted in a variety of top ranking roles for WWE from 1980 through 2009, three decades in which the company worked ruthlessly to eliminate regulations, exploit workers, and perhaps most notably given her upcoming public service appointment, kill any semblance of competition in the marketplace.

Linda McMahon’s first job out of college was working for the corporate law firm Covington & Burling, where she trained as a paralegal. She used her knowledge of intellectual property law picked up there in her role with WWE, helping establish lines of action figures and negotiate TV deals with giants like Viacom.

“I didn’t really start out thinking that I was part of a man’s business,” McMahon told Sports Illustrated in June. “I was just really working with Vince, helping him at what he was trying to do. Each of us has different strengths, and mine were detail, organization, administration and the financial picture.”

That combination of organizational ability and intellectual property knowledge proved critical as the WWE, then the WWF, expanded under the McMahons from a regional company serving the New York area to the singular American wrestling company, serving the entire nation. Rather than be a part of the National Wrestling Alliance, the group of promoters who ran wrestling shows across the country, the McMahons worked to eliminate the competition.

A major piece of their strategy was the use of the burgeoning television markets of the 1980s—cable and pay-per-view—to push into new territories and establish the WWF brand as number one above any and all local companies.

Thanks to the rise of the WWF’s USA network cable show and the WrestleMania pay-per-view event, which began in 1985, the company had grown into a truly national outfit by the mid-1980s. As the first to enter the national market, they enjoyed a monopoly, one they were determined to protect, as the McMahons showed when they were faced with a challenge to WrestleMania from NWA President Jim Crockett’s eponymous company in 1987, as Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer recalls.

When Crockett announced a pay-per-view event, Starrcade, for Thanksgiving of 1987, the WWF immediately responded by scheduling his own pay-per-view event live from Cleveland, the original Survivor Series, which has run annually ever since. The WWF then threatened cable carriers, declaring that any who ran Crockett’s event would be barred from running WrestleMania the next summer.

“By 1987, WrestleMania was a huge success on pay-per-view,” Meltzer says. “Basically, almost everybody who promised Crockett they would run had pulled out. I think he had five systems in the entire country that didn’t back down to McMahon, everyone else did. Crockett had spent all this money and still did the pay-per-view. Out of five systems, there’s hardly any money coming in. Originally, they probably would have had a couple hundred thousand buys. Even at those prices it would have been over a million dollars for sure, a million to two million dollars easily that he would have made on that show.”

That would prove the end for Crockett in the wrestling business. In 1988, with Jim Crockett Promotions on the verge of bankruptcy, he sold to Ted Turner for $9 million. “When [Crockett] went out of business, I’m sure that million or two million dollars would have been pretty important. It wasn’t the only reason they went out of business, but on the list of reasons it was up there.”

The revenue stream from television was critical to the McMahons’ ability to grow the company from a regional firm into a national empire. They needed every bit of that added revenue to raid their former NWA partners for talent, including Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, The Iron Sheik, and others.

By ravaging the old NWA—signing the stars they wanted and leaving the rest in the dust—the McMahons created a world in which the WWE became American wrestling. Vince told Sports Illustrated in 1991, “In the old days, there were wrestling fiefdoms all over the country, each with its own little lord in charge. No takeovers or raids were allowed. There were maybe 30 of these tiny kingdoms in the U.S. and if I hadn’t bought out my dad, there would still be 30 of them, fragmented and struggling. I, of course, had no allegiance to those little lords.”

The framework provided by the NWA made it easy for the McMahons to make their monopoly—they simply bought out most of their old NWA competitors. By the 1990s, it was down to the WWF and Ted Turner’s WCW, which eventually merged with the WWE by 2001 after the Monday Night Wars, which saw both companies engage in progressively more absurd behavior in efforts to win in the ratings.

Since then, WWE has been the only major professional wrestling company in the country. Independent ventures like Ring of Honor and TNA fill a market niche, but they don’t operate on anywhere near the scale of WWE and are always a talent raid away from losing their biggest stars.

As ever, the bedrock of wrestling’s profitability is its low production costs. Promoters like the McMahons pay for arenas, they pay for television production, and they pay for the wrestlers themselves. One of Linda McMahon’s primary missions throughout her time with WWE was to lower the cost of that last category by systematically removing regulations on wrestling performers, like those that forced wrestlers to be licensed by an athletic commission like boxers, or those that would require wrestlers to be considered employees rather than independent contractors.

The first wave of states to agree with the WWE’s contention that its workers were entertainers, not athletes, covered every geographic region and included some of the nation’s largest states, ranging from New Jersey to Michigan to Florida to Texas to California.

The votes were often overwhelming—including a 96-0 margin in the Michigan State House, and a 37-1 margin in the New Jersey State Senate. These votes were obtained by parading WWE spokespeople and wrestlers in front of legislative bodies and exposing wrestling’s big lie: it’s all fake.

Specifically, the WWE asked for legislation defining professional wrestling as, “an activity in which participants struggle hand-in-hand primarily for the purpose of providing entertainment to spectators rather than conducting a bona fide athletic contest.” That was more than enough to convince legislators to eliminate the pesky licensing fees and physical examinations previously required of wrestlers—lawmakers could say they reduced taxes and made wrestling more accessible, all in a day’s work.

McMahon has been clear in the past about her economic position, favoring tax cuts, eliminating financial reforms, and cutting social programs—including the SBA, which she suggested was expendable in 2012.

That should give you some idea of how much she cares about the common people looking to start a family business, people whom the programs of the SBA are supposed to help. No, McMahon’s appointment to the SBA should be expected to mirror the stances she held during her time with WWE: against competition, against regulation, and against workers.

The Electoral College meets today

Today the electoral college will meet to determine who is going to be the next POTUS.

Since Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by well over two million, common sense would say she should be the next POTUS.  But thanks to the fucking electoral college system Trump will be,  If the electoral voters had any balls they would choose Hillary over the orange oompa loompa.

I'm sure it chap's Trump ass knowing over half the country hates him.  I take cold comfort in that.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

What you need to know about Michael Flynn

From NY Mag

The most frightening aspect of the looming Donald Trump presidency is not so much the likely outcomes, many of which are horrifying, as the unlikely ones. Running the federal government of the world’s most powerful country is hard, and many things can go wrong. Full control of government is about to pass into the hands of a party that, when it last had it, left the economy and the world in a shambles. These disasters occurred because the party’s ideological extremism made it unequipped to make pragmatic choices, and because its chief executive was a mental lightweight. Sixteen years after it last came to power, the party has grown far more ideologically extreme, and its head of state is much less competent. Many of the tail risks of an extremist party led by an unqualified president are difficult to foresee in advance. But one is especially glaring: the appointment of Michael Flynn to be national security adviser.

National security adviser is a crucial position for any president. It is especially so for a uniquely inexperienced one. (Donald Trump being the only president in American history lacking any public experience in either a civilian or military role.) And it is all the more crucial given Trump’s flamboyant lack of interest in getting up to speed (he confounded his aides by eschewing briefing books throughout the campaign, and has turned down most of his intelligence briefings since the election.) Flynn’s appointment is the one that contains the sum of all fears of Trumpian government.

Flynn’s portrait seems to reflect the worst qualities of Dick Cheney, but in exaggerated form. Flynn avidly subscribes to conspiracy theories. He believes Islamists have infiltrated the Mexican border en masse, guided along the way by Arabic-language signs Flynn claims to have seen himself. He also believes that Democrats have imposed Sharia law in parts of Florida, and shared a now-deleted tweet that suggested Hillary Clinton could have been involved in child sex trafficking. These claims were frequent enough that his subordinates at the Defense Intelligence Agency gave them a name, “Flynn facts,” which means a Flynn belief that is the opposite of a fact.

Compounding Flynn’s susceptibility to conspiracy theories is his professed hostility to any information that undercuts his preconceived notions. According to a former subordinate speaking to the New York Times, in a meeting with his staff “Mr. Flynn said that the first thing everyone needed to know was that he was always right. His staff would know they were right, he said, when their views melded to his.” What makes this so chilling is that it is the pathology that destroyed the Bush administration’s foreign policy, except that what for Cheney was a tragic flaw is, to Flynn, an aspirational credo.

Flynn has reinforced this method by surrounding himself with subordinates unlikely to challenge his fever-swamp convictions. His deputy, K.T. McFarland, last worked in government in the 1980s, as a public-affairs officer, and her main experience since then has been as a Fox News talking head. Foreign affairs experts in both parties described her to Politico reporter Michael Crowley as “a policy lightweight with no real personnel or crisis management experience.” One Republican told Crowley, “She is not a thinker — but, more importantly in that job, not a doer … Anyone who’s watched her show knows she’s sort of a follower, someone who gets all her talking points off the [Republican National Committee’s] Web page.”

Flynn’s other high-level appointee, Monica Crowley (no relation to Michael), is more credentialed — having gained academic training before going on to a career, like McFarland, as a Fox News ranter — but also much more crazy. Like Flynn, who has tweeted “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL,” Crowley frames the fight against Islamist terrorists in the broadest possible terms, as a struggle between civilizations. “We are in a holy war,” she has said, repeatedly. Islamist radicals have always sought to frame the conflict in precisely these Islam-versus-the-West terms, which they see as their best tool to recruit the highest number of Muslims to their side. For the same reason, American foreign-policy experts in both parties, who want to isolate terrorists from the Muslim majority, have resisted cooperating with this notion.

Crowley, like Flynn, is driven by fervent anti-Islamic terror more than any coherent calculation. She has depicted Muslim refugees as infiltrators plotting to take over Europe, and falsely claimed the Paris attacks were carried out by Syrian refugees. She has propounded frequently about Huma Abedin’s alleged “ties to Islamic supremacists,” which even conservative columnist Jamie Weinstein, writing in the Daily Caller, called “crazy Huma Abedin conspiracy theories.” More alarmingly, she has claimed the holy war against Islamists requires violating the Constitution. “This is essentially the Constitution versus the Quran on every level. The Constitution is not built to fight this war.”

Crowley is also a devotee of birtherism and other anti-Obama fever-swamp conspiracy theories. Obama, she told radio listeners in 2008, is “not black African, he is Arab African … And yet, this guy is campaigning as black and painting anybody who dares to criticize him as a racist. I mean that is —it is the biggest con I think I’ve ever seen.” She continued defending birtherism for years. (“The birth-certificate stuff, how did he get into Columbia and Harvard, who paid for his education, all very legitimate questions.”) There are hardly any Obama conspiracy theories Crowley does not believe. The president, according to her, has “gotten w/ with bloody murder (literally. See: Fast & Furious, Benghazi).”

Perhaps the most powerful member of Flynn’s team of nutters is his son and chief of staff, Michael Flynn Jr. The younger Flynn is active on white-supremacist social media, and has tweeted out bizarre claims like “the only reason minorities voted for BO is the color of his skin and NOT for the issues,” or “soooo African-Americans can have B.E.T. but whites can’t have their own dating site? Hmmm.” Flynn also promoted the conspiracy theory that a Washington pizzeria had a secret back room with child sex slaves that was somehow connected to Hillary Clinton. When a gunman showed up there trying to liberate the imagined slaves, the ensuing publicity forced Trump’s transition team to remove Flynn Jr. from his official role on the transition team. But there’s no evidence his deep influence on his father has abated.

It is almost impossible to overstate the danger to American national security posed by the combination of Flynn and his staff. Because his appointment is not subject to Senate confirmation, and also because it has been overshadowed by the Rex Tillerson nomination and its connection to the fast-moving Russia story, Flynn has receded from the front pages. His appointment is unprecedented, like so many other other things Trump has done — indeed, the endless violations of precedent are what make Trump’s election so surreal, and its dangers difficult to order.

But it is the specific, mutually reinforcing characteristics of Flynn and his staff that invite the most alarm. He is a conspiracy theorist averse to any challenge to his suspicions, surrounding himself with a staff of fellow conspiracy theorists seemingly designed to shut out any challenge to his biases, providing advice to a novice president who is himself a conspiracy theorist. It’s under-informed, overconfident crackpots all the way down. As a comedic script, it would defy plausibility. Except there’s a terrifying chance that a lot of innocent people will die as a result.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Yes Mitch McConnell is scum

From GQ

One of the most frustrating things about having to deal with a Donald Trump presidency—and those frustrations are legion—is the fact that Trump and the party he now commands have managed to co-opt hysteria and use it as their own proprietary weapon. When I tell you, with all sincerity, that Trump represents a danger to the world, I know I sound EXACTLY like Alex Jones telling you that President Obama is a sulfur-powered sewer demon. I feel like Alex Jones telling you that, even though I know that my hysteria is far more justified than any hysteria coming from the right. They’ve cried wolf so many times that any dire warning from the opposite side just sounds like reciprocal hand-wringing.

This brings us to Mitch McConnell. I am not being hyperbolic when I say that Mitch McConnell is evil. The coming Trump Presidency is already an assembly line of shitty, apocalyptic consequences getting cranked out 24/7, and the fact that McConnell now holds near-total power over Congress is perhaps the most unbearable side effect of them all. Here is a man who made it his solemn oath to thwart a President who was elected fair and square—and by an actually huge, not-bullshit-Trump-YUGE, margin—and who then spent eight goddamn years doing exactly that. McConnell is a man who hijacked a Supreme Court vacancy and, barring some last-minute shenanigans that President Obama is probably (and unfortunately) too polite to pull, he will get away with it.

Now we find out that McConnell is basically a traitor. In the wake of an unprecedented breach in American cybersecurity, what did this guy do? He threatened the President that he would publicly discredit the (solid, non-partisan) intelligence just to fuck him, along with the American people. It worked, of course. Oh, and now McConnell's old lady has a Cabinet post. This man has no morals, nor any respect for the rule of law, nor any respect for those who would defy him. For his own personal gain, he permitted Russia to continue manipulating the November election so that his party's candidate could win—giving us a quivering mound of chili drippings for president. And God knows what kind of dirt Putin has on him.

This is treasonous behavior. There’s no more civilized way to put it. Mitch McConnell chose Russia over America. He should be prosecuted.

But now I feel dumb saying that because he and his ilk have spent DECADES overstating the danger of their political opponents: Hillary killed four people with her bare hands during Benghazi and should go to jail. Obama is a Muslim sleeper agent. Jared Fogle is running a kiddie-porn ring out a (DEMOCRAT) pizza shop in (DEMOCRAT) Washington, D.C.
McConnell has supported lie after lie after lie after lie, and the diabolical result it that all the truths told about him sound like lies themselves.

But they’re not. This man is repugnant and doesn’t deserve to keep his job, and it’s an indictment of his party that no one—NO ONE—has the balls to openly defy him at the present moment. His colleagues are way more scared of him than Trump. And what have Democrats done to thwart him? 

Called for "fair" hearings. Oh yeah, those’ll do the trick, especially with—who else?—Mitch McConnell presiding over them. The strategy seems to be: just keep offering that scorpion a ride on your back.

"Obviously, any foreign breach of our cybersecurity measures is disturbing and I strongly condemn any such efforts," McConnell said in a statement that he read to reporters at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol.

Fuck this guy. The turtle jokes no longer work. I can’t point and laugh when this man has helped suppress the will of the people and laid out a cubic zirconia path to the White House for Donald Trump. As long as Mitch McConnell has a say in anything, our democracy is a joke. And that's not a wacky conspiracy theory.

Yes fuck Turtle Face six ways to Sunday.

What you need to know about Betsy Devos

From The New Yorker

Among the points that can be made in favor of Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s billionaire nominee for the position of Secretary of Education, are the following: She has no known ties to President Vladimir Putin, unlike Trump’s nominee to head the State Department, Rex Tillerson, who was decorated with Russia’s Order of Friendship medal a few years ago. She hasn’t demonstrated any outward propensity for propagating dark, radical-right-leaning conspiracy theories, unlike Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s designated national-security adviser. She has not actively called for the dismantling of the department she is slated to head, as have Rick Perry, Trump’s nominee for Energy Secretary, and Scott Pruitt, the nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

That the absence of such characteristics should bear noting only underlines the dystopian scope of Trump’s quest to complete his cabinet of cronies. On the other hand, DeVos has never taught in a public school, nor administered one, nor sent her children to one. She is a graduate of Holland Christian High School, a private school in her home town of Holland, Michigan, which characterizes its mission thus: “to equip minds and nurture hearts to transform the world for Jesus Christ.”

How might DeVos seek to transform the educational landscape of the United States in her position at the head of a department that has a role in overseeing the schooling of more than fifty million American children? As it happens, she does have a long track record in the field. Since the early nineteen-nineties, she and her husband, Dick DeVos, have been very active in supporting the charter-school movement. They worked to pass Michigan’s first charter-school bill, in 1993, which opened the door in their state for public money to be funnelled to quasi-independent educational institutions, sometimes targeted toward specific demographic groups, which operate outside of the strictures that govern more traditional public schools. (Dick DeVos, a keen pilot, founded one of his own: the West Michigan Aviation Academy, located at Gerald Ford International Airport, which serves an overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male population of students.)

As a board member of Children First America and the American Education Reform Council, and later as the chair of the American Federation for Children, DeVos lobbied for school-choice voucher programs and tax-credit initiatives, intended to widen the range of institutions—including private and religious—that could receive funding that might otherwise go to both charter and traditional public schools. In a 2013 interview with Philanthropy Magazine, DeVos expressed her ultimate goals in education reform, which she said she saw encompassing not just charter schools and voucher programs but also homeschooling and virtual education: “That all parents, regardless of their zip code, have had the opportunity to choose the best educational setting for their children. And that all students have had the best opportunity to fulfill their God-given potential.”

One can fully credit DeVos’s commitment to her cause—one might even term it her crusade—while also seeking to evaluate its effectiveness. How have such DeVos-sponsored initiatives played out thus far in her home state? Earlier this year, the Detroit Free Press published the results of a yearlong investigation into the state’s two-decade-long charter-school initiative—one of the least regulated in the country. Almost two-thirds of the state’s charter schools are run by for-profit management companies, which are not required to make the financial disclosures that would be expected of not-for-profit or public entities. This lack of transparency has not translated into stellar academic results: student standardized-test scores at charter schools, the paper found, were no more than comparable with those at traditional public schools. And, despite the rhetoric of “choice,” lower-income students were effectively segregated into poorer-performing schools, while the parents of more privileged students were better equipped to navigate the system. Even Tom Watkins, the state’s former education superintendent, who favors charter schools, told the newspaper, “In a number of cases, people are making a boatload of money, and the kids aren’t getting educated.”

After DeVos’s nomination, the editorial-page editor of the Free Press, Stephen Henderson—whose own children attend a high-performing charter school—wrote a searing indictment of Detroit’s experiment. “This deeply dysfunctional education landscape—where failure is rewarded with opportunities for expansion and ‘choice’ means the opposite for tens of thousands of children—is no accident,” he wrote. “It was created by an ideological lobby that has zealously championed free-market education reform for decades, with little regard for the outcome.” DeVos was at the center of that lobby; her lodestar, Henderson wrote, “has been her conviction that any nontraditional public school is better than a traditional one, simply because it is not operated by government.”

As the Republican nominee, Trump campaigned on a platform of educational reform, proposing to assign twenty billion dollars of federal funds to a block grant aimed at opening up school choice. The assumption is that productive competition between schools will result. “Competition always does it,” Trump said in September, as if he were speaking about air-conditioner factories rather than academic institutions. “The weak fall out and the strong get better. It is an amazing thing.”

DeVos has yet to say much about specific actions she might seek to take as Education Secretary. In a Q. & A. published on her personal Web site—which pictures DeVos and her husband, casually but impeccably dressed, sitting on a porch swing, clasping hands—she declines to give details of her ideas, out of deference to the U.S. Senate, which is required to confirm her appointment. (She does, however, remind readers that she is “a total outsider to elective office and government.”) But through her past actions, and her previously published statements, it is clear that DeVos, like the President-elect who has chosen her, is comfortable applying the logic of the marketplace to schoolyard precincts. She has repeatedly questioned the value of those very precincts’ physical existence: in the Philanthropy interview, DeVos remarked that, “in the Internet age, the tendency to equate ‘education’ with ‘specific school buildings’ is going to be greatly diminished.”

Missing in the ideological embrace of choice for choice’s sake is any suggestion of the public school as a public good—as a centering locus for a community and as a shared pillar of the commonweal, in which all citizens have an investment. If, in recent years, a principal focus of federal educational policy has been upon academic standards in public education—how to measure success, and what to do with the results—DeVos’s nomination suggests that in a Trump Administration the more fundamental premises that underlie our institutions of public education will be brought into question. In one interview, recently highlighted by Diane Ravitch on her blog, DeVos spoke in favor of “charter schools, online schools, virtual schools, blended learning, any combination thereof—and, frankly, any combination, or any kind of choice that hasn’t yet been thought of.” A preĆ«mptive embrace of choices that haven’t yet been thought of might serve as an apt characterization of Trump’s entire, chaotic cabinet-selection process. But whether it is the approach that will best serve current and prospective American school students is another question entirely.


Five U.S. senators are demanding prospective Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos pay up for campaign finance fines owed by a group she used to chair, but her spokesperson has dismissed the request as a politically-motivated attack. 

On Dec. 12, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico; Jeffery Merkley, D-Oregon; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts; and Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, sent President-elect Donald Trump's designated choice for Education Secretary a letter asking her to pay $5.3 million in fines and late fees attributed to All Children Matter, a political action committee she used to chair.  

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Ohio Elections Commission unanimously ruled that All Children Matter violated state law in 2006 by directing $870,000 in contributions from its federally-registered PAC in Virginia to its Ohio affiliate, a decision subsequently upheld by Ohio courts.

The Ohio PAC donated legislative and statewide candidates who supported school choice and tax-paid vouchers for private schools that year, the Dispatch reported.

All Children Matter was originally founded by DeVos' husband, former Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos.

Yep a billionaire who never went to college, never sent her kids to public school, never went to public school herself is going to dismantle the education system in the US.  Oh and she belongs to the family that started the original pyramid scheme, Amway.

Friday, December 16, 2016

What you need to know about Rex Tillerson

I am going to start a series on Trump's cabinet picks, starting with Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson.

From The Daily Beast

Can you not quite put your finger on why having the world’s biggest oil CEO as America’s secretary of State might be a problem? OK then, that’s why I’m here!

1. Rex Tillerson has been running a global quasi-state for a decade and has dedicated pretty much his entire adult life to that quasi-state (he’s worked at ExxonMobil since 1975). As such, he has, it is fair for us to assume, a world view centered on the world’s provable and exploitable fossil-fuel resources. 
As ExxonMobil chief executive, he has had the responsibility of trying to exploit those. He knows where they all are, how hard they are to get to, who owns them (if anyone), what they’re worth.

Here’s a list of countries by proven oil reserves. Think Tillerson doesn’t know this list cold? How will 40 years spent thinking about the world through this prism influence his, er, diplomacy? He can sell his stock (which I hope and assume we’re hoping and assuming). But he can’t erase his memory banks any more than Donald Trump can suddenly forget which countries he’s doing deals in. Which countries are ExxonMobil doing deals in? ExxonMobil has partnered with PetroVietnam to drill in the disputed South China Sea. What’s Exxon’s business exposure in China? Is anyone seriously contending that a Secretary Tillerson can instantly set all these concerns, all these learned habits, aside?

Two main points here. First, Exxon’s interests are Exxon’s, not the United States of America’s. Sometimes they’ve aligned, but sometimes they have not. But second and more important, is the vantage point of a fossil-fuel extractor really the vantage point that we want to privilege in the role of the world’s most important diplomat?

2. This brings us specifically to Exxon’s and Tillerson’s Russian ties, which you’ll be reading a lot about in the next few days and which is what Democrats will likely pounce on in confirmation hearings. It’s not some general vague notion. Tillerson, according to this article, came up through the ranks in Exxon managing the Russia account! It’s next to impossible that Trump didn’t know this, and it seems reasonable to conclude then that Trump chose Tillerson not in spite of his deep Russia ties, but precisely because of them.

Tillerson cut a huge deal in 2011 with the Russian oil company Rosneft. Putin himself was at the ceremony. The men have known each other for years. How will this affect Secretary Tillerson’s view of Ukraine, the Baltic states, NATO? It’s mind-boggling.

3. Climate change has been a major State Department issue for years now. As Cathleen Kelly wrote this year for the journal I edit, Democracy, the State Department has moved on a range of fronts to recognize climate change not just as an environmental issue but as an issue of first-order diplomatic and strategic importance as climate shifts result in population flows and agricultural changes and all kinds of things.

Tillerson, though, is a climate-change denier in the general sense. As CEO, he did soften Exxon’s image in that department, coming out in favor of a carbon tax (although he had the safety of knowing that such a proposal wasn’t going anywhere). But Exxon spent years spearheading a public campaign denying a human role in climate change.

ExxonMobil employs 1,600 scientists and engineers. They know the science. They spend their days calculating things like the environmental costs of extraction. But would Secretary Tillerson try to sit down with his president and explain them, or would he just go along? Hint: See point 1, about 40 years’ worth of mental training.

4. There’s a hell of a lot of other stuff the secretary of State has to do. Let’s start with Israel and Palestine. What sort of grasp of Israeli politics does Tillerson have? Any? And the internecine battles within the Palestinian world?

Syria? Factions upon factions upon factions! The history of the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The roles played by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah and their histories. Does Tillerson know anything about any of this beyond the broad headlines? And that’s just one region of the world. There are several others, you know.

Then there are the issues that the State Department works on that go beyond state relationships. Potable water. Does he have a handle on that? The subjugation of women. Slavery and peonage. Malaria and other diseases. What’s he going to prioritize, and what’s he going to propose to do about those matters?

My point isn’t that he ought to be able to fix all these things. It’s that a normal pick would know a little something about all these matters, and have a sense of who to get on the phone when a crisis erupts somewhere. Tillerson will be learning on the job literally every day for his entire tenure, however long it lasts.

Except, that is, about fossil fuels and Russia. Those are the two things he knows upside down. And it’s not very likely that that’s an accident. A global energy CEO would have been a totally unacceptable choice 20 or 30 years ago. No, even a decade ago—Dubya would have seen that this was just too brazen, and he probably would have realized that he should have someone with some relevant experience (and indeed, comparatively speaking his two secretary of state choices weren’t horrible).

We are totally fucked here.  We might as well become the United States of Russia.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

What the everlasting fuck, Ivanka Trump will have an office in the East Wing!

From CNN

Ivanka Trump is poised to play an active role in her father's administration, assuming some of the duties normally assigned to the first lady.

Trump transition aides are already planning for an "Office of the First Family," in the East Wing where the current office of the first lady is located, sources familiar with the plan told CNN.

Melania Trump is still expected to play a role in the White House. However, Ivanka is expected to have a prominent slot as well. A source said she is likely to play the part of Washington hostess as well as advise her father on issues including family leave to climate change.
No decisions have been made regarding Ivanka's role," Hope Hicks, Trump's spokeswoman, told CNN.
Titles for Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, have not been determined. But Kushner, a publisher and businessman, is expected to have his own role outside of the family office -- the latest indication that he could be bound for the West Wing.

It has also been reported that Ivanka and Jared plan to move to DC too.  When are the Trumps going to understand that the United States of America is not a fucking family owned business?  Assholes.

Putin had a huge hand in the email hack

From NBC News

U.S. intelligence officials now believe with "a high level of confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

Two senior officials with direct access to the information say new intelligence shows that Putin personally directed how hacked material from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used. The intelligence came from diplomatic sources and spies working for U.S. allies, the officials said.

Putin's objectives were multifaceted, a high-level intelligence source told NBC News. What began as a "vendetta" against Hillary Clinton morphed into an effort to show corruption in American politics and to "split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn't depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore," the official said.

Ultimately, the CIA has assessed, the Russian government wanted to elect Donald Trump. The FBI and other agencies don't fully endorse that view, but few officials would dispute that the Russian operation was intended to harm Clinton's candidacy by leaking embarrassing emails about Democrats.

The latest intelligence said to show Putin's involvement goes much further than the information the U.S. was relying on in October, when all 17 intelligence agencies signed onto a statement attributing the Democratic National Committee hack to Russia.

The statement said officials believed that "only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities." That was an intelligence judgment based on an understanding of the Russian system of government, which Putin controls with absolute authority.

Now the U.S has solid information tying Putin to the operation, the intelligence officials say. Their use of the term "high confidence" implies that the intelligence is nearly incontrovertible.

"It is most certainly consistent with the Putin that I have watched and used to work with when I was an ambassador and in the government," said Michael McFaul, who was ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014.

"He has had a vendetta against Hillary Clinton, that has been known for a long time because of what she said about his elections back in the parliamentary elections of 2011. He wants to discredit American democracy and make us weaker in terms of leading the liberal democratic order. And most certainly he likes President-elect Trump's views on Russia," McFaul added. Clinton cast doubt on the integrity of Russia's elections.

As part of contingency planning for potential retaliation against Russia, according to officials, U.S. intelligence agencies have stepped up their probing into his personal financial empire.

American officials have concluded that Putin's network controls some $85 billion worth of assets, officials told NBC News.

Neither the CIA nor the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would comment.

A former CIA official who worked on Russia told NBC News that it's not clear the U.S. can embarrass Putin, given that many Russians are already familiar with allegations he has grown rich through corruption and has ordered the killings of political adversaries.

But a currently serving U.S. intelligence official said that there are things Putin is sensitive about, including anything that makes him seem weak.

The former CIA official said the Obama administration may feel compelled to respond before it leaves office.

"This whole thing has heated up so much," he said. "I can very easily see them saying, `We can't just say wow, this was terrible and there's nothing we can do.

This information makes it more important to invalidate Trump's electoral college victory and make Hillary president.  Is it possible to try Putin under the Geneva Convention for tampering with an election?

Also a federal judge wants to unseal the search warrant regarding Hillary's emails too.  It's picking up steam now.  Trump may be the first president elect to resign before taking office.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

75 years ago the greatest generation had their 9/11

The following day war was declared on Japan:

Never forget the 2400 men who perished that day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Yes Donald Trump has Hitler's qualities, but he's really Mussolini

From The Guardian

Last Thursday, an 89-year-old Auschwitz survivor recorded a video which promptly went viral. She compared “the humiliation, the demonization of others” and “the attempt to bring out the worst traits in people” in contemporary Austrian politics to her own experience of fascism. Gertrude – her last name has been withheld – lost her entire family in the Holocaust. Her testimony has now been watched more than three million times.

On Sunday, Gertrude’s compatriots will vote for their next president. Norbert Hofer, the far-right candidate whose anti-immigration party was set up by a former SS officer, looks set to win.

Across Europe, a wave of hyper-nationalist politicians is threatening to splinter the European Union, with Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen in France waiting in the wings. In the US, many Americans are still figuring out how they’re going to face the next four years of a president elected after a campaign built on racism, anti-intellectualism, misogyny and truth distortion; his suggestion of a register for Muslims horrified many. It also prompted comparisons – some of them lazy, some of them astute – between the 1930s and now.

Against this backdrop, Volker Ullrich’s timely recent account of Hitler’s rise to power, Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939, has received critical acclaim and prompted considerable debate about the historical parallels between our times and that of the pre-war period. It also raises questions about whether history can teach us how to rewrite our own script.

Ullrich, a German historian and journalist for the Hamburg broadsheet Die Zeit, based his book on decades of research. He tells me it was written between 2009 and 2013 to a background noise of extreme right movements on the rise. As a result, he says, one question became fixed in his brain: “What are the necessary social and psychological conditions that allow populists of Hitler’s ilk to gain a mass following and attain power?”

Making Germany great again
“There are certain traits you can recognize that Hitler and Trump have in common,” Ullrich says. “I would say the egomania, the total egocentricity of both men, and the inclination to mix lies and truth – that was very characteristic of Hitler.”

Like Trump, “Hitler exploited peoples’ feelings of resentment towards the ruling elite.” He also said he would make Germany great again. Ullrich also notes both men’s talent at playing the media, making use of new technology and their propensity for stage effects.

Ullrich, however, is keen to highlight how they differ. “I think the differences are still greater than the similarities,” he says. “Hitler was not only more intelligent, but craftier. He was not just a powerful orator, but a talented actor who succeeded in winning over various social milieus. So not just the economically threatened lower middle classes which Trump targeted, but also the upper middle classes. Hitler had many supporters in the German aristocracy.”

Trump was also democratically elected, while Hitler never had a majority vote. “He was appointed by the president of the German Reich.” Then there’s the fact that Trump does not lead a party “which is unconditionally committed to him”.

“A further obvious difference is that Trump doesn’t have a private militia, as Hitler did with the SA, which he used in his first months after coming to power to settle scores with his opponents, like the Communists and Social Democrats. You can’t possibly imagine something similar with Trump – that he’ll be locking Democrats up into concentration camps. Even Hillary Clinton, who he threatened to send to prison – that was just an empty threat, he’s not going to do that.”

Hitler hated Jews

Trump hates Muslims

Hitler was born in Austria but considered himself German

Trump's ancestors came from Germany


Monday, December 5, 2016

Kellyanne Conway scolds a teenager for asking about Donald Trump's sexual assaults

From The Hill

Kellyanne Conway, a top aide to President-elect Donald Trump, pushed back Wednesday at a question from a 17-year-old student about how she can “rationalize” working for someone who faces claims of sexual assault.

“Women are tired of the same argument and the same thing you are presenting to me right now,” Conway responded.

“I'm glad that people looked at [those attacks] and said, 'You know what? That's an argument that will not create a single job in my community, not bring back a single of the 70,000 factories that have been closed, will not deter one member of ISIS from doing their bloodletting here or anywhere else in the world.” 

The question came from a high school student who identified herself as Maaike Laanstra-Corn, the daughter of liberal author and Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn. Her high school Advanced Placement government class was attending an all-day event sponsored by the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

Conway noted that Trump won the presidential election despite the accusations, and she criticized Democrat Hillary Clinton for only winning 56 to 57 percent of the female vote despite her standing as the first woman to be nominated in the general presidential election by a major party.

“She should have gotten 60 or 62 percent of the female vote,” Conway said.

Trump faced a slew of allegations after the release of a 2005 tape in which he spoke of groping women without their consent. The accusations also became a substantial part of the Democrats' line of attack against Trump as they argued he did not have the temperament to serve as president.

Kellyanne really must hate women to say something like that.  I bet Kellyanne would make women pay for rape kits if she was a governor or POTUS, victim shame a sexual assault victim, and ban abortion for all circumstances.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Hillary Clinton has over 2.5 million votes more than Donald Trump

From Mother Jones

Just thought I'd mention it. As of today (Dec 2), she leads Donald Trump in the popular vote by 2.56 million votes, a margin of 1.89 percent. In the three key swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin that gave him his victory, Trump's combined lead is less than 80,000 votes. By any measure you can think of, Trump has the narrowest victory of any president in the last century; the smallest mandate; and is by far the least liked.

Also the petition to make Hillary Clinton has now reached 4.7 million signatures.

This just proves Donald Trump did not win the election.  Hillary Clinton did.

Also TN Rep Steve Cohen has started the motions to eliminate the electoral college.  I doubt he will get far but I appreciate him trying:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen thinks it’s time to do away with the electoral college.

The Memphis Democrat filed a constitutional amendment Thursday that calls for eliminating the electoral college and allowing for direct election of the president and vice president.

The congressman’s amendment comes as Democrat Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote in last month’s presidential election topped 2.5 million. Clinton lost the electoral college – and the presidency – to Republican Donald Trump.

“For the second time in recent memory, and for the fifth time in our history, we have a President-elect, who lost the popular vote,” said Cohen, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.

“The Electoral College is an antiquated system that was established to prevent citizens from directly electing our nation’s president, yet that notion is antithetical to our understanding of democracy,” Cohen said. “In our country, ‘We the People’ are supposed to determine who represents us in elective office.”

The legislation is unlikely to gain any traction in the Republican-controlled Congress. It would need two-thirds approval in both the House and the Senate and would then have to be ratified by 38 of the 50 states.

Cohen noted that the Founding Fathers established the electoral college in an era of limited communication. The college was premised on the theory that citizens would have a better chance of knowing about electors from their home states than about presidential candidates from out-of-state.

“The development of mass media and the internet, however, has made information about presidential candidates easily accessible to U.S. citizens across the country and around the world,” Cohen said. “Today, citizens have a far better chance of knowing about out-of-state presidential candidates than knowing about presidential electors from their home states.  Most people don’t even know who their electors are.”

“It is time for us to fix the anachronistic process of the electoral college and make our Constitution better reflect the ‘more perfect Union’ to which it aspires,” Cohen said.

China has filed a complaint regarding Trump's call to China

From Slate

In a shocking twist no one could have seen coming, it turns out that Beijing doesn’t like the fact that President-elect Donald Trump had a phone conversation with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen. Still, China seemed to try to put the brakes on any overreaction regarding the call, mostly describing the communication as a gimmick, or “little trick,” by Taiwan. On Saturday, China lodged a formal diplomatic protest over the 10-minute phone conversation, which marked the first time a U.S. president or president-elect knowingly spoke with Taiwan’s leadership since 1979.

China “has lodged solemn representations with the relevant U.S. authorities,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website. The statement went on to note that Washington should be careful to unnecessarily disturb bilateral ties. "The one China principle is the political basis of the China-U.S. relationship," the statement added.

The formal complaint came hours after China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, seemed to try to play down the significance of the call. "This is just the Taiwan side engaging in a petty action, and cannot change the 'one China' structure already formed by the international community," Wang said. "I believe that it won't change the longstanding 'one China' policy of the United States government."

It remains unclear whether Trump actually wanted to send a sign about bilateral relations with China under his administration, but the president-elect also seemed to play down the call. On Twitter, Trump essentially made it seem like he just happened to be around when the Taiwanese president called, and, hey it would have been rude not to pick up. “The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!” Except, a spokesman for the Taiwan government quickly contradicted the U.S. president-elect, saying the call had been arranged in advance: "Of course both sides agreed ahead of time before making contact."

Trump then took to Twitter again apparently to express surprise that international geopolitical issues could be more complicated than they seem at first glance. “Interesting how the US sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call,” Trump tweeted.

An editorial in China’s Global Times appears to imply that Beijing leadership could see Trump’s call as a mistake from a beginner, but it could also have broader implications:

Trump is not familiar with foreign relations and has been known for not playing by the rules since he started running for president. Before he gets sworn in, he faces some vague space to handle things. By answering Tsai’s call he may want to test how China would react and therefore prepare him for dealing with the country and gaining some advantage after he takes office.
So far analysts seem a bit split between those who think that Trump is just clueless and has no advisers to really help him navigate the intricacies of foreign policy and others who say it should be seen as more of what could be in store when the real estate mogul takes office. “My guess is that Trump himself doesn’t have clue,” Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, tells the Washington Post. “That he had no idea about Beijing’s neuralgia on Taiwan.” Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University in Beijing, sees things a bit differently and thinks Trump was sending a “very clear” message. “The US president-elect hates China and will encourage Tsai to resist pressure from the mainland,” he tells the Financial Times.

The White House made clear it wasn’t notified of the call in advance and there has been no change in the U.S. policy toward China. Still, it marked only the latest example of how the president-elect has turned a congratulatory phone call into a matter of state. Earlier in the week, Trump praised Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a “terrific guy” and extended an invitation to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who called Obama a “son of a whore,” to go to Washington.

The way in which Trump may be sparking international crises before even being sworn into office has made some political leaders sound the alarm. “Foreign policy consistency is a means, not an end. It’s not sacred. Thus, it’s Trump’s right to shift policy, alliances, strategy,” Sen. Chris Murphy from Connecticut tweeted. “What has happened in the last 48 hours is not a shift. These are major pivots in foreign policy w/out any plan. That’s how wars start.”

Chris Murphy is right.  This is how wars start.  With Drumpf fucking with international policy there may be a nuclear war before January 20 then he won't get sworn in because we will all be dead.  Good going dumbass.

Don't expect miracles from Donald Trump on the Carrier deal

From Salon

On Thursday night President-elect Donald Trump got to do what he loves more than anything for the first time since the election: bask in the love of his fans. He held a thank-you rally in Cincinnati, where he recounted all the highlights of his glorious victory as a sea of followers in red “Make America Great Again” hats cheered and chanted, just like the good old days of last month.

It seemed a bit odd, since Trump isn’t running for anything at the moment. But since the networks all carried it live as breaking news one can imagine that this may become the main way — aside from Twitter, of course — that Trump communicates with the country. He certainly isn’t holding press conferences.

This rally came on the heels of Trump’s earlier photo-op in Indianapolis, where he took credit for the Carrier deal engineered by Indiana Gov. and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, giving the company a $7 million incentive to keep about a thousand jobs in the state. (Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote a blistering op-ed in The Washington Post exposing the deal as typical corporate welfare that demonstrates to every CEO how to extort money from the taxpayers — also known as workers.)

It turns out that Pence had rejected this same deal back in 2014, but apparently this time Trump persuaded him to change his mind.

In fact, it turns out that Trump didn’t even remember he had made a campaign promise about Carrier. At the Indianapolis event on Thursday morning, he explained that he was watching the news about a week ago and saw a story on the plant:

And they had a gentleman, worker, great guy, handsome guy, he was on, and it was like he didn’t even know they were leaving. He said something to the effect, “No, we’re not leaving, because Donald Trump promised us that we’re not leaving,” and I never thought I made that promise. Not with Carrier. I made it for everybody else. I didn’t make it really for Carrier.

And I said, “What’s he saying?” And he was such a believer, and he was such a great guy. He said, “I’ve been with Donald Trump from the beginning, and he made the statement that Carrier’s not going anywhere, they’re not leaving.” And I’m saying to myself, “Man.”

And then they played my statement, and I said, “Carrier will never leave.” But that was a euphemism. I was talking about Carrier like all other companies from here on in. Because they made the decision a year and a half ago.

But he believed that that was — and I could understand it. I actually said — I didn’t make it — when they played that, I said, “I did make it, but I didn’t mean it quite that way.”

This is the story he saw:

Carrier a/c became a rallying cry for Trump on the campaign trail. Now employees are counting on him to fulfill his promise. Watch @kevtibs.

— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) Nov. 15, 2016

In other words, Trump had just been running his usual con game on the campaign trail. But once he saw that story he realized he had a chance for a P.R. win and he took it.

At a panel of campaign operatives on Thursday evening, Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski explained that expecting Trump’s words to have literal meaning is the media’s mistake. The Washington Post reported:

“This is the problem with the media. You guys took everything that Donald Trump said so literally,” Lewandowski said. “The American people didn’t. They understood it. They understood that sometimes — when you have a conversation with people, whether it’s around the dinner table or at a bar — you’re going to say things, and sometimes you don’t have all the facts to back it up.”

Those workers at the Carrier plant took Trump literally. And plenty of others did too. Phil Mattingly at CNN spoke with people in Cincinnati yesterday and asked them what they expect. He tweeted the following observations:

For Trump supporters, the Carrier deal is pure validation — and something they are 100% certain can be replicated here and elsewhere. Point out the IN Gov role, or the state incentives in general, or the DOD contracts — doesn’t matter. This is exactly what he said he’d do.

I’ve heard from many of them today, touting the Carrier deal. They don’t know the details. Don’t work in manufacturing. But they are genuinely stunned and excited. “If he can do this before he takes office, just imagine . . . ”

I proceed explain the specifics, the holes in it, the longer term problems it may present — “Dude, stop.” Don’t want to hear it.

And it also sets up an interesting conundrum for the Trump team — expectations among supporters were already high.

Expectations among the “meh” Trump voters weren’t so much. Well, now they are, too.

So how do you deliver for states like OH, or PA, or WI, or MI, when your VP isn’t the governor and there aren’t contracts to threaten?

The answer is that Trump can’t deliver for those states, and he won’t. He’s not a magician or a miracle worker. And no matter what Lewandowski says, there are millions of people who believed that he was going to deliver exactly what he promised.

But then, this is how Trump has always operated, isn’t it? When you think about all the people who trust him to bring back jobs that have been taken over by machines like those in steel manufacturing or to revive dying industries like coal mining, it reminds you of his numerous scams over the years when he promised people wealth and success and ended up stealing their money and crushing their dreams.

Indeed, barely two weeks ago Trump abandoned his longtime vow and settled several lawsuits claiming fraud against his Trump University. He was accused of promising thousands of people untold riches if they believed in him and followed his methods for getting rich. Unfortunately, it was a scam, and people were conned out of large sums of money and received nothing worthwhile in return.

Sadly, that’s likely to be the fate of most of those Trump voters who expect him to re-create an imaginary past and make them all prosperous and successful. He himself said that those promises were all “euphemisms,” and he didn’t mean them literally. Trump is now running his biggest con, this time on the entire population of the United States. He has every reason to believe he’ll get away with it. After all, he’s never paid any real price for his behavior before.

So yeah once Drumpf gets into office for real he will realize he cannot always bully and harass people into doing what he wants.  His approval rating will be in the 20's by this time next year.

And Sarah Palin is already having a hissy fit over this:

“When government steps in arbitrarily with individual subsidies, favoring one business over others, it sets inconsistent, unfair, illogical precedent,” she wrote Friday in a “Young Conservatives” column. “Meanwhile, the invisible hand that best orchestrates a free people’s free enterprise system gets amputated. Then, special interests creep in and manipulate markets.”

“Republicans oppose this, remember? Instead, we support competition on a level playing field, remember? Because we know special interest crony capitalism is one big fail,” Palin added.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Mitt or Rudy?

The two finalists of Drump's Secretary of State is Mitt Romney and Rudy Guiliani.

Do they have any foreign policy experience?  The answer is a big fat NO!

Mitt was a one time governor of Massachusetts.  His lack of foreign policy experience dogged in 2012 when he ran for POTUS.  Since then he has done nothing in that field.  Mitt is also a vulture capitalist who will make money off his position if he had a chance.

Rudy Guiliani is a lawyer and ex mayor of New York City.  All he has done is downgrade foreigners since then.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Donald Trump tries to stop the PA recount

From Politico

The Michigan recount initiated by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is on hold.

Attorneys for President-elect Donald Trump filed an objection Thursday with the Michigan Bureau of Elections, a move that under Michigan law halts the recount until the complaint is resolved.

Trump's team, in its objection, argues that Stein hasn't provided sufficient evidence to doubt the election results.

"All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake," the complaint argues.

The recount, scheduled to begin Friday in Ingham and Oakland counties, is now awaiting a Board of State Canvassers ruling on the objection. The board, which must resolve the objection within five days according to state law, is scheduled to meet Friday to consider the matter. If the board fails to adopt the objection, the recount will go forward, but if the board does adopt it, the recount will cease.

The objection in Michigan comes one day after the Wisconsin Republican Party filed a Federal Election Commission complaint arguing that Stein is pushing a recount there to benefit former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Stein's campaign has raised money and sought recounts in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, three states that Trump won narrowly last month in the presidential election.

Stein called Trump's efforts to block the Michigan recount "outrageous."

"The recount in Michigan, which has been driven by an outpouring of grassroots support in the state — will go forward," Stein said in a statement. "The Michigan Board of State Canvassers and Director of Elections has been a model of professionalism in moving this recount forward in an efficient, transparent manner. Yet the Trump campaign’s cynical efforts to delay the recount and create unnecessary costs for taxpayers are shameful and outrageous."

Obviously there was fraud going on in PA otherwise Drumpf would not have filed this request.  His only connection to PA was he went to the University of Pennsylvania which isn't even state run.  It would be tough for him to bully PA's officials into giving him what he wants.