July 23, 2016

One more point in Kaine's favor

Passing thought

Sam Smith - Listening to Trump and Clinton shout at us, it occurs that Howard Dean might have become president if he had just waited until screaming and shouting at voters became an acceptable form of campaigning.

Tim Kaine just gave us a fine example of how good politicians used to talk to people. And it worked even with Clinton's robotic head  bobbing and faux smiles.

There she goes again

Sam Smith - Hillary Clinton's selection of Tim Kaine for veep is not as bad on voting record grounds as some have suggested. For example he got 90% approval by Americans for Democratic Action in their last accounting compared to 95% for Bernie Sanders. On the other hand he is as bad as Clinton on a key issue - TPP - and his selection shows no consideration towards the significant Bernie wing of the party. Clinbton and the DNC - joined bytheir media puppies - consider the Bernie crowd an annoyance rather than a constituency, when it is in reality the voice of a generation that will only get louder as the older crowd continues to fade.

Clinton's veep choice is another non-ideological sign of a problem she has. Although liberals in denial refuse to admit it, she's not a particularly good politician. To be in a statistical tie with someone has crazy and sick as Donald Trump is not a product of fate but of failure.

My theory is that her husband grew up in a corrupt family and culture, including a mother who hung out at race tracks with mobsters. From a young age he learned how to lie and fool people, to play it tough, and to work the system. Hillary Clinton married into Clintonism from a Methodist  family in the suburbans of Chicago. She had to learn corruption from her husband and never did it all that well.

It's seems too late for the Democrats to recover some sanity and find another choice. But if so, Clinton still needs to be elected for the Bernie revolution to continue in full swing. Elect her and then, taking advantage of her chronic political incompetence, become the force that determines the Democratic future.

There have been 475 coups from 1950 till today. 49.7% were successful.

Virginia High Court Strikes Down Order Restoring Released Felony Convicts’ Voting Rights

Leaked emails show how Democratic leaders went after Sanders

Trump golf course hit with quarter million dollar lawyer fees for failure to pay bills

Washington Examiner

A Florida judge ordered  that [Donald Trumps golf course] pay $282,000 in attorney fees to a Doral, Fla., paint shop that sued the Republican nominee for unpaid bills.

Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto stated the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort pay The Paint Spot's lawyer fees to make up for its negligence.

Trump's resort was sued for not paying the remaining $34,000 of a $200,000 bill to a local paint store. When Trump's employees refused to pay the difference, a lien was slapped on the property and the judge ordered the foreclosure of the resort, which was still being renovated.

Trump got the judge to cancel the property auction after he placed $34,000 in escrow. In the meantime, the paint shop's owners asked Cueto to rule on its lawyers' fees: three $500-an-hour attorneys and two $150-an-hour paralegals.

Trump campaign still seking foreign funds

The Hill

Donald Trump's campaign is still soliciting illegal donations from foreign individuals — including members of foreign governments at their official email addresses — weeks after the campaign was put on notice by watchdog groups.

Foreign members of parliament from the United Kingdom and Australia confirmed to The Hill that they received fundraising solicitations from the Trump campaign as recently as July 12 — two weeks after a widely publicized Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint issued on June 29 by nonpartisan watchdogs Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center. These latest campaign finance violations were first reported by the investigative website WhoWhatWhy and have been confirmed by The Hill.

The Trump campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

July 22, 2016

David Duke says Trump's speech left him "overjoyed"

Washington Post

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke is running for U.S. Senate, linking his decision to Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency and the business mogul’s proposals on trade and immigration.

Duke, a vocal Trump supporter, announced his candidacy on Friday and said he was “overjoyed” to see the businessman’s campaign “embrace most of the issues that I’ve championed for years,” including the nationalist and protectionist notion of “America First.”

“We must stop the massive immigration and ethnic cleansing of people whose forefathers created America,” Duke said in a video posted to his website one day after Trump claimed the Republican White House nomination.

“Thousands of special-interest groups stand up for African Americans, Mexican Americans, Jewish Americans, et cetera, et cetera,” Duke said. “The fact is that European Americans need at least one man in the United States Senate — one man in the Congress — who will defend their rights and heritage.”

Abortion, banking and trade: Three problems with Tim Kaine

What Socrates had to say about Donald Trump


Tyranny, says Socrates in The Republic, is actually “an outgrowth of democracy.” And would-be tyrants always in every instance claim to be shielding regular people from terrible danger: “This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector.”

As The Republic explains, leaders like this inevitably end up “standing up in the chariot of State with the reins in his hand, no longer protector, but tyrant absolute.” This is how liberty “passes into the harshest and bitterest form of slavery.”

The economic causes for Trump's support

Yes Magazine

Ann Gupta  -  A wealth of data shows Trump’s support is tied to economic and social distress. His backing is highest among whites who are affected by declining and stagnant wages, are less likely to have high-school or college degrees, have been knocked out of the workforce, or whose life expectancy declined.

The last fact, established by a recent study, is astonishing because declines in life expectancy are extremely rare in industrialized countries—even in wartime. It’s proof that middle-aged white workers are suffering in distinct ways from an economic war that’s waged as much by liberals as conservatives. The booming stock market of the 1990s did not soften the blows these workers suffered from Clinton policies like NAFTA, mass incarceration, restricting access to welfare, and deregulating Wall Street.

Donald Trump knows and exploits this. In Eugene, he lacerated the Clintons by calling NAFTA a “disaster [that] has destroyed big, big sections of our country.” Trump’s racialized economic populism thrives when both parties are in thrall to Wall Street.

Many of the white workers planning to vote for Trump would likely have supported a Democratic candidate in the past, but the party now offers them little. Adding insult to injury, liberals deride them as privileged and ignorant racists, rather than acknowledging their real economic grievances.

While I did not ask them specifically about Bernie Sanders, a few [Trump supporters] mentioned that he was their second choice after Trump. Those who liked Sanders spoke of their personal economic woes and supported policies such as ending corporate free-trade deals and creating public infrastructure programs.

Race, however, is the big stumbling block for the left-leaning Trump voters. A candidate like Sanders can’t do it alone. Stronger unions and social movements could help these voters develop progressive class politics, rather than leaving them vulnerable to Trump-style populism.

Providing class-based alternatives can help people unlearn racism.

The best way to defeat Trumpism is by fusing race, class, and gender issues.

We think prisons three times more important than schools

Which is why state and local spending for schools went up 107% between 1979 and 2013 while spending for prisons increased 324%.

Major evangelical site warns readers against Trump

Christian Post
We the senior editors of The Christian Post encourage our readers to back away from Donald Trump.

As the most popular evangelical news website in the United States and the world, we feel compelled by our moral responsibility to our readers to make clear that Donald Trump does not represent the interests of evangelicals and would be a dangerous leader for our country.

Trump claims to be a Christian, yet says he has never asked for forgiveness.

While God, in His wondrous creativity, has drawn people to Himself through the saving grace of Jesus Christ in many different ways, there are certain non-negotiable actions needed to become a Christian: One must repent of their sins and follow Christ as Lord and Savior. Trump doesn't talk this way, even when urged to.

Further, his words and actions do not demonstrate the "fruit of the spirit."

Trump is a misogynist and philanderer. He demeans women and minorities. His preferred forms of communication are insults, obscenities and untruths. While Christians have been guilty of all of these, we, unlike Trump, acknowledge our sins, ask for forgiveness and seek restitution with the aid of the Holy Spirit and our community of believers.

On Sunday, Trump's apparent reluctance to disavow David Duke until late in the day was extremely distasteful. The Ku Klux Klan is an evil, unholy movement representing the worst of America. Anyone who will not immediately denounce their support is unfit to be president.

Trump claims he will "protect Christians." We already have a Protector, and He is not Trump.

... Trump is promising many things that he cannot possibly deliver, but the most frightening part is Trump's stated willingness to ignore the authority of the Supreme Court, Congress and the U.S. Constitution if he were to become president.

Trump has been surrounded by controversy for decades because of his untruthfulness, questionable business practices, reported association with organized crime, and abrupt changes in fundamental positions. Many of these controversies involve defrauding the working class and decisions that compromised American workers. He has taken a political position both pro and con on virtually every subject and major political party. This should give evangelicals great pause and concern about supporting such a mercurial and chameleon-like candidate. Past performance is the best predictor of future behavior.

Trump said he wants to make it easier to sue newspapers that criticize him. When it was pointed out to him Sunday that he would have to amend the Constitution's freedom of speech and freedom of press clauses, Trump was unmoved, simply noting that England has weaker protections for the press

NBA pulls out of North Carolina over bathroom legislation

The hunger issue on campus

USA Today

19% of [University of California] students say they have “very low” food security, which is defined as “experiencing reduced food intake” due to “limited resources” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And another 23% say they have “low” food security. In other words, 42% of UC students go hungry because they lack the resources to get enough food.

July 21, 2016

Infrequently asked questions

Why, as it would appear from watching the convention, are the only young people willing to say nice things about Donald Trump children in his employment?

Roger Ailes booted from Fox

Male prostitutes doing well at GOP convention

NY Post 

Male prostitutes contacted by The Post said business is booming and Republican National Convention attendees — most of them married — are clamoring for their services.

“Business has been way better. I’ve seen 10 clients so far,” one male escort said.

“Most of them were first-timers. You could tell they were nervous, but once they became more comfortable, they seemed to be having a good time.”

Another escort said he had already earned $1,600 since Monday — over six times the amount he usually makes.

“I normally only make $200 to $300, but I’ve been seeing lots of guys in hotels downtown,” he said, noting the boom in business near the Quicken Loans Arena.

Melania update

Speaking of Benghazi

News Notes

Trump Is Richer in Property and Deeper in Debt in New Valuation

A guide to stupid Trump tricks

The hottest cities in America and those that are getting hotter faster

Mediare is not going bankrupt; How Obamacare helped it


@walterkirn: If these [convention] speakers truly have faith in God, why implore him over & over to bless America? He heard you the first time.

Trump threat of the day

NY Times

Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Mr. Trump’s best-selling autobiography “The Art of the Deal,” said on Wednesday that he had received a cease-and-desist letter from Mr. Trump’s chief legal counsel over his blistering assessments of the candidate and their work together.

Mr. Schwartz said in an interview with MSNBC that the letter demanded that he forfeit all royalties he had earned from the book.

“It’s nuts and completely indicative of who he is,” Mr. Schwartz said. “There’s no basis of anything legal. I suspect that Donald Trump called up his chief legal officer and said, ‘Go after that guy and do whatever you have to do.’ ”

He added, “So this poor head of legal affairs for the Trump Organization had to concoct stuff — most which of is untrue.”

Mr. Schwartz worked with Mr. Trump over 18 months in the 1980s, and his account of that time, published on Monday in a New Yorker article, sent waves through the political world days ahead of Mr. Trump’s official acceptance of the Republican presidential nomination. Mr. Schwartz was also interviewed on Monday on “Good Morning America.”

Mr. Trump has regularly boasted on the campaign trail about “The Art of the Deal,” and it played a part in bolstering his celebrity when it was published in 1987. But Mr. Schwartz told The New Yorker that the book was largely a work of fiction and that he was not sure if Mr. Trump had even read it in its entirety.

Mr. Schwartz, who in the article was speaking publicly for the first time about the book, said that he had “a deep sense of remorse” for contributing to Mr. Trump’s rise and that he saw a good possibility that Mr. Trump’s presidency would “lead to the end of civilization.”

In a copy of the cease-and-desist letter obtained by The New York Times, the lawyer, Jason D. Greenblatt, demanded that Mr. Schwartz deliver “a certified check made payable to Mr. Trump” and make “written assurances that you will not generate or disseminate any misleading or inaccurate information or make any baseless accusations with respect to Mr. Trump.”

Unions don't protect bad teachers

Washington Post

Eunice Han - By demanding higher salaries for teachers, unions give school districts a strong incentive to dismiss ineffective teachers before they get tenure. Highly unionized districts dismiss more bad teachers because it costs more to keep them. Using three different kinds of survey data from the National Center for Education Statistics, I confirmed that unionized districts dismiss more low-quality teachers than those with weak unions or no unions. Unionized districts also retain more high-quality teachers relative to district with weak unionism. No matter how and when I measured unionism I found that unions lowered teacher attrition. This is important because many studies have found that higher-quality teachers have a greater chance of leaving the profession. Since unionized districts dismiss more bad teachers while keeping more good teachers, we should expect to observe higher teacher quality in highly unionized districts than less-unionized districts — and this is exactly what I found. Highly unionized districts have more qualified teachers compared to districts with weak unionism.

How the CIA bought Hollywood


The CIA has a long history of “spooking the news,” dating back to its earliest days when the legendary spymaster Allen Dulles and his top staff drank and dined regularly with the press elite of New York and Washington, and the agency boasted hundreds of U.S. and foreign journalists as paid and unpaid assets. In 1977, after this systematic media manipulation was publicly exposed by congressional investigations, the CIA created an Office of Public Affairs that was tasked with guiding press coverage of intelligence matters in a more transparent fashion. The agency insists that it no longer maintains a stable of friendly American journalists, and that its efforts to influence the press are much more above board. But, in truth, the intelligence empire’s efforts to manufacture the truth and mold public opinion are more vast and varied than ever before. One of its foremost assets? Hollywood.

The agency has established a very active spin machine in the heart of the entertainment capital, which works strenuously to make sure the cloak-and-dagger world is presented in heroic terms. Since the mid-1990s, but especially after 9/11, American screenwriters, directors, and producers have traded positive portrayal of the spy profession in film or television projects for special access and favors at CIA headquarters.

Great thoughts of Mike Pence


Reuters - In 2002, Donald Trump’s running mate Mike Pence said condoms are a poor defense against sexually transmitted infections and diseases.

Pence’s comments came in response to then Secretary of State Colin Powell saying in an MTV forum that young people should protect themselves through safe sex with condoms.

“I think it’s important for young people, especially, to protect themselves from the possibility of acquiring any sexually transmitted disease, but especially to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS, which is a plague that is upon the face of the earth,” Powell said.

In an interview with CNN, Pence called Powell’s comments a “sad day,” and said he advocated for abstinence education. Pence said Powell’s call for condom use mislead millions of young people and put their lives at risk.

..."Frankly, condoms are a very, very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases, and in that sense, Wolf, this was — the secretary of state maybe inadvertently misleading millions of young people and endangering lives,” continued Pence.

... The Center for Disease Control says condoms can effectively protect from many of the most serious sexually transmitted diseases when applied correctly.

Trump on black accountants

“I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is; I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” - Donald Trump
The “laziness” statement came after Donald Trump started having financial difficulties at his casinos in Atlantic City. Trump’s response? He had black accountants. And he managed to squeeze two forms of racism into a single statement.
John O’Donnell, who was president of the Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino and later wrote a memoir about his experience, said Trump blamed financial difficulties partly on African American accountants.

“I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza — black guys counting my money!” O’Donnell’s book quoted Trump as saying. “I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. Those are the kind of people I want counting my money. Nobody else. . . . Besides that, I’ve got to tell you something else. I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is; I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”

Lucky we're not living under Reagan and Giuliani


Speakers at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland portray a country teetering on the brink of an apocalypse conveyed by criminals, terrorists, immigrants and Black Lives Matter. No one expressed that louder than New York's former mayor.

“The vast majority of Americans today do not feel safe,” bellowed Rudy Giuliani Monday night. “They fear for their children and they fear for themselves. They fear for our police officers who are being targeted, with a target on their back.”

Crime fear-mongering has been on Page One of the Republican political playbook since 1964, when the disastrous GOP nominee Barry Goldwater used crime as a proxy for race when he suggested that law-abiding whites were being menaced by riotous African-American “bullies and marauders.” For good measure, he added the blatant dog whistle, “Our wives, all women, feel unsafe on our streets.”

By any measure, America has had far less crime under President Obama than during the Reagan years. But that context is lost in the daily headlines (and the countless tweets) about the latest crime atrocity, says Jeff Asher, a crime data expert based in New Orleans.

I compared national crime statistics from 1987, after seven years of Reagan anti-crime policies, to 2014, Obama’s sixth year (and the most recent for which FBI Uniform Crime Report data is available). Here are a few takeaways:

The overall violent crime rate under Reagan in 1987 was 612 instances of violence for every 100,000 people.

In 2014, the violent crime rate was 365 per 100,000, a decline of 40 percent.

In real numbers, Americans in 2014 reported about 320,000 fewer violent crimes than in 1987, including homicide, robbery, rape and serious assault. Murder declined from 20,096 cases in 1987 to 14,249 in 2014.

 Robbery, regarded by experts as a better bellwether than murder of a community’s overall safety, has declined sharply since the Reagan years—from about 518,000 cases in 1987 to 326,000 in 2014, a decline of more than 50 percent when adjusted for the country’s 30 percent population growth over those 27 years.

Property crime, by far the most prevalent form of lawbreaking, has also declined sharply.

The total number of burglaries, larcenies and vehicle thefts declined by nearly 4 million, from 12 million cases in 1987 to about 8.3 million in 2014. That was a drop of 48 percent when adjusted for population growth.

What next?

Sam Smith - With the Republicans nominating a megalomaniacal fraud who is  probably the worst presidential candidate in history and the Democrats about to nominate one of the most controversial ones who is also so weak that she can hardly break out of a tie in the popular vote - it is hard to know what to do next.

The media hasn't helped, treating this all as normal when in fact it is the most bizarre presidential contest we have ever had. And the Democrats refuse to even consider someone with a better chance of beating Trump.

So, once again, it is left up to us. Here's a suggestion of how the sane, the honest, the decent, and the reasonable can try to regain control of our political system:
  • Form a very public alliance of labor unions, blacks, latinos and the Berniesque young. This alliance would initially work to defeat Trump. A key element in this would be to press issues that benefit not just the aforementioned but also the white working class that liberals have ignored for over three decades. Trump gets away with deceiving white working class voters in no small part because liberals have done so little for them.
  • By emphasizing the need to dump Trump, this alliance can avoid Clinton issues while moving the Democratic Party (and her if elected) to the left. Further, it can bring back policy rather than personality based politics. Trump aside, the GOP platform would essentially destroy over 80 years of political progress. The media has taught us that politics is just an Apprentice  show and now we are seeing the results. It's time to get back to policies.
  • After Clinton wins, the new alliance defines its goals as those of the real Democratic Party and immediately begins to press for legislation that fits and oppose that which doesn't. Given the aid the alliance gave Clinton, she may move favorably on some issues. When she doesn't the alliance declares itself the real Democrats and fights the fight. 
This strategy avoids having to deal with the various personal liabilities of Clinton by putting cause and party ahead of personality.

Will it work? Consider that all of Clinton's money and Wall Street speeches have still left her in a tie with the worst major party nominee in history. A campaign of issues that helps ordinary Americans, regardless of ethnicity, has a long history of success. It helped build the New Deal and Great Society and it could build a new movement just waiting for its natural parts to come together.

July 20, 2016

Stupid Donald Trump pal tricks

Talking Points Memo

Shortly after soap opera actor Antonio Sábato Jr. delivered a speech praising Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention, he espoused a favorite right-wing conspiracy theory: that President Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim who was born in the Middle East.

Sábato, who made his name as a Calvin Klein model and actor on "General Hospital" in the 1990s, said in a live sit-down interview with ABC News that he believes Obama “had an agenda from the beginning” to “drastically change this country.”

“First of all, I don’t believe the guy is a Christian,” he said. “If you understand Obama, that’s not a Christian name, is it?”

ABC’s Amna Nawaz pressed the model-actor by saying Obama regularly attends church services.

“No, he doesn’t. No, he does not. Actually, he does not attend church,” Sábato said. “He actually has never talked about Jesus Christ once. I’ve met a lot of Christians, I know Christians. I am one, and I don’t believe he is.”

Asked again why he doubts Obama’s religious faith, Sábato said, “It’s in my heart. I just see it for what it is. I believe that he’s on the other side.”

He went on to explain “the other side” is “the Middle East,” and said Obama is “with the bad guys. He’s with them, he’s not with us.”

Sábato was emphatic in saying he “absolutely” believes Obama is Muslim.

“[Obama] grew up in that world, that’s where he comes from, that’s where he grew up,” he said.

Veterans advisor to draft dodger Trump says Clinton should be shot for treason


A Donald Trump advisor said Hillary Clinton should be put in a firing line and shot for treason.

Al Baldasaro, a New Hampshire state representative and an advisor to Trump on veteran’s issues, made the comments on the Jeff Kuhner Show.

“I’m a veteran that went to Desert Shield, Desert Storm. I’m also a father who sent a son to war, to Iraq, as a Marine Corps helicopter avionics technician. Hillary Clinton to me is the Jane Fonda of the Vietnam,” Baldasaro said. “She is a disgrace for the lies that she told those mothers about their children that got killed over there in Benghazi. She dropped the ball on over 400 emails requesting back up security. Something’s wrong there.”

“This whole thing disgusts me, Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason,” he added.

Baldasaro is a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention and appeared with Trump at press conference where he defended Trump’s donations to veterans groups in May.

!4th straight record warm month

Eco Watch

June continued the unprecedented heat streak for the 14th month, with globally averaged temperatures being a full 1.62 F (0.9 C) warmer than the average across the 20th century, according to the latest data by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The effects of last year's El Niño, which contributed to spike in temperatures, is fading but the record heat streak over the Earth has remained.

Another indication of warming is Greenland's melting ice. A satellite study has also shown that Greenland has lost a shocking 1 trillion tons of ice in just four years between 2011 and 2014. Ice loss from Greenland, which has been 9 trillion tons in the past century, may have contributed to a full inch of sea-level rise in the last 100 years.

50 ways the GOP wants to damage America

50 destructive excerpts from the GOP platform

July 19, 2016

Don’t laugh, folks. Trump is real

Sam Smith – For most of the media the major development of the first night of the GOP convention was the plagiarism of Melania Trump. For me, who covered a convention for his college radio station sixty years ago, it was of the most appalling national events I had ever observed. For all her faults, Mrs. Trump at least mentioned a few conventional political matters like children and education. For the rest of the evening America was redefined as a country under attack with the resolution only to be found in more oppressive military and police action.

I had already been startled that both the Democratic and Republican nominees in waiting were vetting little known high ranking military officials as potential vice presidents, as though the art of invasion, bombing and killing masses of people were the primary skills needed for the White House. Nothing like this had happened before – a bipartisan assumption that war was one of our primary role model.

But now a whole evening was filled with former and present military and police figures spreading paranoia. And all the media could worry about was some plagiarism.

I was reminded of what a German professor had said about the coming of fascism:
To live in the process is absolutely not to notice it -- please try to believe me -- unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted.' … Believe me this is true. Each act, each occasion is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow. … Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven't done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we did nothing) . . . You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.
Among the media, Politico was a rare exception that caught the tone:
Donald Trump’s supporters painted a dark and dystopian portrait of an America in decline on Monday, as a parade of people spoke about a country slipping from their grasp, cops getting gunned down in the streets, and their family members slain by illegal immigrants…

On stage, there was a red-meat buffet of raw emotion for an angry Republican electorate, with little talk of ideology or policy. Indeed, there were more mentions of fallen American soldiers than of conservatism.

But there were even fewer signs of outreach across the aisle or to independents. For most of the night, the convention lineup felt and sounded more like a tea party rally on the statehouse steps — with little-known speakers delivering hard-line speeches — than a traditional national convention.

The Trump campaign’s stated theme for the evening was to “make America safe again,” and they sold Trump as a rescuer of the nation by focusing almost exclusively on the current, imperiled state of affairs.
It began with a pastor who declared God a conservative supporting Trump:
Father God, in the name of Jesus, Lord we’re so thankful for the life of Donald Trump. We’re thankful that you are guiding him, the you are giving him the words to unite this party, this country, that we together can defeat the liberal Democratic Party, to keep us divided and not united. Because we are the United States of America, and we are the conservative party under God.

To defeat every attack that comes against us, to protect the life of Donald Trump, give him the words, give him the space, give him the power and the authority to be the next President of the United States of America, in Jesus’ name.
The assumption of some speakers was that America was dealing with an invasion, albeit uncertain whether the attackers were Muslims or Democrats. Giuliani, for example, said “our enemies see us as weak and vulnerable” and plan to “come here and kill us.” Most stunningly, he added, “There’s no next election. This is it.”

The same Giuliani in an earlier Manhattan talk had also said, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America… He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

The convention’s theme that the military and the police represented the best of American values happily ignored a few facts offered by ABC News in 2011:
According to his Selective Service records, first obtained by the website The Smoking Gun through a Freedom of Information Act request, Trump received four student deferments between 1964 and 1968 while in college and an additional medical deferment after graduating.

Trump received his first two student deferments while enrolled at Fordham University in New York City in June 1964 and December 1965. He transferred to Wharton as a sophomore that year and received another two 2-S deferments in December 1966 and January 1968 during his last year of college.

He was classified "available for service" (class 1-A) in November 1966, but just three weeks later in December 1966 he was given a new student deferment.

Upon graduation Trump, the son of a wealthy New York City real estate developer, was no longer eligible for student deferments.

In October 1968, he was declared medically unfit to serve except "in time of national emergency," even though he had been declared fit to serve in 1966.

In 1972, Trump was ultimately declared ineligible for service and given a final 4-F deferment.

The documents do not specify the reasons Trump was given a medical deferment.

The discovery of the records come in the same week President Obama released his long form birth certificate proving that he was born in Hawaii in 1964. Trump, 64, a billionaire businessman turned reality star, has tested the waters for a possible presidential run in recent weeks, demanding that Obama release his own records.
Trump has made it clear that those views outside his own – from the public’s to provisions of the Constitution – are subject to his own opinion which, as he has repeatedly indicated, is better than anyone else’s. And as he has demonstrated in hundreds of legal conflicts,, the rule of law is for him just another thing a smart businessman learns how to manipulate.

Because of his megalomania there is no need to discuss ideology. His ideology is whatever Trump thinks on a particular day. Thus, should his coup be successful, the model will not be European fascism but Latin America dictatorships, in which personality triumphed over philosophy. As I was viewing Mrs. Trump speak I even wondered whether I was watching the next Eva Peron.

Bu however it works out, nothing like this has happened in American politics before.

It is entirely possible that a Trump win will crash the American republic or even engaged it in a disastrous nuclear war. Or perhaps it will just make a nasty mess of most of our lives. But in any case, to deny the danger is, as the Geman professor put it, is to compromised beyond repair.

Fox News 'terror expert" turns out to be a fraud

Activist Post

A man who falsely claimed for decades to be a CIA agent and worked as the FOX News “Terror Expert” has now been sentenced to 33 months in prison, according to prosecutors, as cited by Reuters.

According to a U.S. District Attorney’s Office statement, Wayne Shelby Simmons of Annapolis, Maryland, was sentenced in a U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia.

“Wayne Simmons is a fraud,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Maryland, Dana Boente, flatly stated. “Simmons has no military or intelligence background, or any skills relevant to the positions he attained through his fraud.”

From protest to picnic

Kansas City Star

Witchita Eagle - What was originally planned as a protest march turned into a cookout where Wichita police and a diverse group of residents broke bread together.

The Wichita Eagle reports that organizers of the protest met with Police Chief Gordon Ramsay for several hours, ending with an agreement for the cookout, which took place Sunday at a city park. Several Wichita police officers took part.

Black Lives Matter protesters had planned to march on Sunday, but after organizers met with Chief Ramsay for hours, according to the protesters, they agreed to break bread together instead.

The goal was to open communication and build trust between police and the communities they serve. The crowd at the cookout included people who were white, black and Hispanic.

At one table, three men – a black man, a Hispanic man and a white man – sat down with burgers next to police Lt. Travis Rakestraw to share their ideas.

It was the first time since 1992 that Jarvis Scott, the black man, said he’d sat down with a police officer, and the other two said it was their first time ever sitting down with an officer.

Rakestraw listened to Ivan Ray, a Hispanic student at the University of Kansas who had recently taken a class about racial disparities. He was impressed with how Ray framed the issue of police violence in terms of many other social issues, including poverty and education.

“The community needs more people like you who can see the problems in wide open eyes,” Rakestraw told Ray. “What should we do about it?”

The three men said they were surprised to hear that Rakestraw seemed to care about what they were saying, and that he had thought about the same issues. But they all said that they were planning on still marching.

Rakestraw, in his turn, said that from the police perspective, a conversation like the one they were having at the cookout felt more productive than many of the protests he’s seen across the nation, which are based on confrontation rather than dialogue. But he had no complaints about the Wichita protest last week that was nonviolent.

“I don’t think it’s a conscious effort,” Rakestraw told them, about why racial biases sometimes persist. “I don’t think anybody does it intentionally but we fill in the gaps with life experiences, what we read in the paper, and we start to view people as a generalization instead of understanding people as individuals.”

The three men nodded.

Bernie delegates don't like Clinton's Veep choices

Institute for Public Accuracy

The group RootsAction.org states: “The first major survey of Bernie Sanders delegates reveals big concerns about Hillary Clinton’s pending choice of a vice presidential candidate, with many delegates expressing their willingness to publicly denounce prospective running-mates and even protest on the convention floor.”

See Daily Caller: “Survey: Bernie Delegates Would Hate It If Hillary Picks One Of These People For VP.” Truthdig reports on the survey: “The six potential Clinton running mates listed were: Tim Kaine, junior Virginia senator; Julian Castro, Housing and Urban Development secretary; Mark Warner, senior Virginia senator; Cory Booker, New Jersey senator; retired Adm. James Stavridis; and Adm. Mike Mullen, former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman. All of them received “Not Acceptable” survey scores of 72 percent or higher. Sen. Mark Warner garnered the highest, with 91.6 percent of the delegates stating he would be an unacceptable vice presidential pick.” “First survey of Sanders delegates: potential clash ahead.”

9th Circuit: It’s a federal crime to visit a website after being told not to visit it

Washington Post

Orin Kerr - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has handed down a very important decision on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Facebook v. Vachani,. For those of us worried about broad readings of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the decision is quite troubling. Its reasoning appears to be very broad. If I’m reading it correctly, it says that if you tell people not to visit your website, and they do it anyway knowing you disapprove, they’re committing a federal crime of accessing your computer without authorization.

I think this decision is wrong, and that it has big implications going forward. Here’s a rundown of the case and why it matters. I’ll conclude with a thought about a possible way to read the case more narrowly, as well as why I’m not convinced that narrow reading is correct:


July 18, 2016

Obama pushes the world closer to nuclear war

Richard Brenneman - While a lot of folks are worried about the bellicose personalities of both major party presidential candidates, don't forget the current incumbent, who has been busily pushing the world ever-closer to the brink of nuclear war through his Game of Zones plays in Asia and Europe.

While the Obama Administration's "Asian pivot" has resulted in the first U.S. arms sales to Vietnam since the American humiliation four decades ago and Obama has relentlessly pushed Japan into the imminent scrapping of the pacifistic provisions of that country's constitution, provisions imposed by the U.S. 60 years ago.

And now the Obama administration is beefing up U.S. forces on the Russian border, bring the threat of nuclear war to its highest level since the peak of the Cold War according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

The latest moves in Europe have even upset governments in Western Europe, who see Russian more as a trading partner than as a military threat, says University of Missouri-Kansas City economist and European historian Michael Hudson in this interview with Jessica Desverieux of The Real News Network...


PS: Not long after your editor became a Coast Guard officer to avoid the 1960s military draft, The Cuban missile crisis occurred, described here by Wikipedia:
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a 13-day (October 16–28, 1962) confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union concerning Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. Along with being televised worldwide, it was the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.
I remember being so angry and upset that unannounced, I had suddenly found myself so close to a world war in which i might be a part. The lesson I learned - and the more powerful did as well - was don't bring the Cold War into the other side's 'hood. This is a rule that we have badly violated in the Ukraine, bringing back tbad old memories of what almost happened because of Cuba - Sam Smith

News Notes

California Breaks Solar Record, Generates Enough Electricity for 6 Million Homes

Clinton and Trump on educational issues

Why repealing Citizens United doesn't go far enough 

The Beatles' last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London, 45 years ago today

141 things Trump shouldn't have said or done

In our moving average of polls, Nationally, Hillary Clinton is four points ahead of Trump, 6 points better than her worst and 6 points worse than her best. Clinton is leading with 179 of the needed 270 votes, down 83 from her best. Another 123 electoral votes are leaning Democratic. Only 89 electoral votes are definitely in the Trump column. Another 31 are leaning his way.

Active military favor Trump over Clinton by 2-1 margin

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Trump's coauthor says letting him have nuke codes could be the end of civilization


Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has waved around his book, The Art of the Deal, to bolster his image as a smooth negotiator and skilled leader.

Now, Tony Schwartz—the man who says he actually wrote the book and is listed as its coauthor—is publicly expressing remorse for promoting the image of a man he describes as a “sociopath.”

“I put lipstick on a pig,” he told Jane Mayer, writing for The New Yorker. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is."

Schwartz continued: “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

Separately, Schwartz told Good Morning America on Monday, “You know, it’s a terrifying thing. I haven’t slept a night through since Donald Trump announced for president because I believe he is so insecure, so easily provoked and not—not particularly—nearly as smart as people might imagine he is.”

Germany's new highway for bikers and walkers

Yes Magazine

Leave it to Germany to build a bicycle autobahn that connects 10 cities within its borders. The goal? To take some 50,000 vehicles off the actual highways and make commuting by bike a much easier—and safer—proposition.

The idea was sparked six years ago when a cultural project caused the one-day closure of the road between Duisburg and Dortmund and more than three million people flooded the road on bikes, skates, and feet. Last December, Germany’s first stretch of bike highway opened for business between Mülheim an der Ruhr and Essen. Eventually, the Radschnellweg will link 10 cities and four universities with 62 miles of bike highway.

The bikeways—and parallel pedestrian paths—are completely separated from the vehicle lanes, with a 13-foot width, tunnels, lights, and snow clearing because safety and accessibility issues are two of the biggest obstacles to biking. Coupled with Europe’s blossoming affection for electric bikes and Germany’s proximity between cities, the Radschnellweg stands to attract a new wave of pedal-powered commuters. Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, and Nuremberg are also undertaking bike-related feasibility studies in order to curb traffic and pollution in those urban areas.

How charter schools hurt Michigan public education


Jennifer Berkshire - What does charter school expansion mean for urban school districts? The words "smoking ruin" best describe the findings of a new study by school finance expert David Arsen of Michigan State University. In an interview with Edushyster's Jennifer Berkshire, Arsen explains what happened when Michigan opened the door for rapid charter growth, and why other state's would do well to heed Michigan's cautionary tale. Drawing on twenty years of data, the study, which will appear in the fall issue of the Journal of School Finance, presents the most definitive account to date that unfettered school choice is pushing cities and their schools to the financial brink.

David Arsen: When we looked at the impact of charter schools we found that overall their effect on the finances of districts statewide was modest. Then we looked to see if there were nonlinear, or disproportionate, impacts in those districts where charters enrolled very high and sustained shares of resident students. And then the results got huge. We saw very significant and large impacts of charter penetration on district fund balances for different thresholds, whether there were 15, 20 or 25 % of the students going to charter schools. That was really striking. At every one of those thresholds, the higher the charter penetration, the higher the adverse impact on district finances. They’re big jumps, and they’re all very significant statistically. What’s clear is that when the percentage gets up to the neighborhood of 20% or so, these are sizeable adverse impacts on district finances.

... We also found that as the share of students in the district that are going charters increases, there is a causal relationship of a larger share of the students who are left behind in the district who receive special education services. So there is a direct impact from charters on the loss of enrollment in the district, but there’s also an indirect impact on the changing composition of the children who remain in the district.

... Arsen: Michigan has a very strong charter constituency and lobby, and we’ve made a series of policy choices that put districts that are obliged to educate low-income children, especially urban kids, at a disadvantage. If you have an education system with a lot of choice, it has to be well structured and regulated. On the funding side, you have to have a system in which the revenues that schools receive are adjusted to correspond to the costs over which local districts have no control. We don’t do that in Michigan and the result is that you give schools an incentive to orient themselves towards educating lower-cost kids. Revenues need to match the costs. If the funding follows the kids, you need policies that cushion districts from having very precipitous declines in revenue. On the choice policy side, you need a system that regulates the supply of choice schools better than what we have. A place like Detroit is just chaotic. It’s the foremost example nationally of the adverse consequences of a poorly regulated education market.

Trump vows to trash the Constitution


Damon Root - In an interview on the CBS show 60 Minutes, Donald Trump was asked about the fact that his running mate, Mike Pence, once described Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the United States as "offensive and unconstitutional."

Trump's response? "You know−the Constitution−there's nothing like it. But it doesn't necessarily give us the right to commit suicide, as a country, OK?"

There you have it. Trump freely admits that he won't let the Constitution and its pesky limits on government power get in the way of his agenda.

The idea that the Constitution "is not a suicide pact" has always been the last refuge for the worst sort of censors, warmongers, and authoritarians throughout U.S. history. Just think about all the ways in which this line of thinking might be used to obliterate constitutional rights:
  • Mr. President, you can't declare war unilaterally. That power resides in Congress. "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."
  • Mr. President, you can't censor the internet. "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."
  • Mr. President, you can't forcibly shutter houses of worship. "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."
  • Mr. President, you can't outlaw the private ownership of guns. "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."
  • Mr. President, you can't take private property for public use without paying just compensation. "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."
  • Mr. President, you can't order American forces to commit acts of torture and other war crimes. "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."

Word: Trump and lies

New York Times: “As Mr. Trump prepares to claim the Republican nomination for president this week, he and his supporters are sure to laud his main calling card — his long, operatic record as a swaggering business tycoon. And without question, there will be successes aplenty to highlight, from his gleaming golden high-rises to his well-regarded golf resorts, hit TV shows and best-selling books.”

“But a survey of Mr. Trump’s four decades of wheeling and dealing also reveals an equally operatic record of dissembling and deception, some of it unabashedly confirmed by Mr. Trump himself, who nearly 30 years ago first extolled the business advantages of ‘truthful hyperbole.’ Indeed, based on the mountain of court records churned out over the span of Mr. Trump’s career, it is hard to find a project he touched that did not produce allegations of broken promises, blatant lies or outright fraud.”

Great moments wiht Donald Trump

Washington Post

CBS's Lesley Stahl asked Donald Trump if he would send troops to the Middle East to fight the Islamic State. From there, the conversation shifted to the war in Iraq — and the vote Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the presumptive vice presidential candidate, cast in support of it while he was serving in the House. In fact, Pence spoke in favor of the war from the floor of the House in 2002.

DONALD TRUMP: Now look, we are going to get rid of [the Islamic State], big league. And we're going to get rid of 'em fast. And we're going to use surrounding states. We're going to use NATO, probably. And we're going to declare war. It is war. When the World Trade Center comes tumbling down, with thousands of people being killed, people are still— I have friends that are still—

LESLEY STAHL: But we did go to war, if you remember. We went to Iraq.

TRUMP: Yeah, you went to Iraq, but that was handled so badly. And that was a war, by the way, that was a war that we shouldn't have entered because Iraq did not knock down—excuse me...

STAHL: Your running mate—

TRUMP: Iraq did not—

STAHL: —voted for it.

TRUMP: I don't care.

STAHL: What do you mean you don't care that he voted for?

TRUMP: It's a long time ago. And he voted that way and they were also misled. A lot of information was given to people...

STAHL: But you’ve harped on this.

TRUMP: But I was against the war in Iraq from the beginning.

STAHL: Yeah, but you’ve used that vote of Hillary's that was the same as Governor Pence as the example of her bad judgment.

TRUMP: Many people have, and frankly, I'm one of the few that was right on Iraq.

July 17, 2016

New progressive organizing group


Trump tells Ryan he's for cutting Social Security

Liberal America

Bloomberg is reporting that when the GOP nominee met with Paul Ryan on May 12, he told the House Speaker that he does indeed favor cutting Social Security, but he’s afraid to say so publicly because it would doom his chances in November. Bloomberg cites an unnamed source who was in the room when the meeting was held. According to the source, Trump told Ryan: “From a moral standpoint, I believe in it. But you also have to get elected. And there’s no way a Republican is going to beat a Democrat when the Republican is saying, ‘We’re going to cut your Social Security’ and the Democrat is saying, ‘We’re going to keep it and give you more.’?”

Pence opposed civil rights bill GHW Bush signed

Buzz Feed

As executive director of a conservative think tank in Indiana, Mike Pence wrote an editorial sharply criticizing then-President George H.W. Bush for signing the 1991 Civil Rights Act
The act was supported by 93% of the Senate and 88% of the House of Representatives. Only 33 Republicans voted against the bill. The bill was passed in response to a handful of cases in the Supreme Court that made it harder for women and minorities to win discrimination cases against employers.

Pain killer abuse significantly less in med marijauna states


Christopher Ingraham writes in the Washington Post that a new study shows that painkiller abuse and overdose are significantly lower in states with medical marijuana laws and that when medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. The researchers "found that, in the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law... In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication. But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year."

Painkiller drug companies "have long been at the forefront of opposition to marijuana reform, funding research by anti-pot academics and funneling dollars to groups, such as the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, that oppose marijuana legalization..." 

News Notes

117 Countries Slam American Police Brutality At UN Human Rights Council

Nearly half of Sanders's millennial supporters would vote third-party

Hillary Clinton promises to propose constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United

Pence's record

Mother Jones

He is not a fan of LGBT rights: In 2003, Pence, then representing the sixth congressional district of Indiana, co-sponsored an amendment that would have prohibited same-sex marriage. Four years later, he voted against the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which aimed to prevent job discrimination based on sexual orientation. While in Congress, he opposed a bill aimed at more effectively prosecuting hate crimes based on sexual orientation and voted against the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
He has made life harder for low-income families: Between 2006 and 2009, Pence voted against raising the minimum wage, expanding health coverage for low-income kids, and providing additional funding for Section 8 vouchers, which help low-income families pay rent.
He refused to comply with Obama administration rules aimed at reducing prison rape: In 2014, Gov. Pence wrote to the Department of Justice to argue that the new rules "work only to bind the states, and hinder the evolution of even better and safer practices." He said Indiana would not follow them.
He has supported deporting undocumented children and sick people and favors building a fence on the border (sound familiar?): In 2009, Rep. Pence co-sponsored a bill that would have eliminated automatic citizenship for children born on US soil to undocumented parents. A few years earlier, he voted in favor of bills that would have allowed for the detention of undocumented immigrants seeking hospital treatment. He also voted yes on a bill—foreshadowing Trump's current platform—to build a fence on the Mexico border.
He has decimated access to abortion: In March 2016, Gov. Pence signed a measure prohibiting women from obtaining an abortion because of the race, gender, or disability of the fetus, making Indiana only the second state in the nation to do this. The law also held doctors legally liable for wrongful death if it was found they had performed an abortion motivated by one or more of the prohibited reasons. These sorts of bans are opposed by much of the medical community, out of fear that women will censor themselves when it comes to making difficult decisions with the help of their doctors. Following the Supreme Court's decision in a landmark abortion case in June, a federal judge blocked this Indiana law from going into effect.
He slashed Planned Parenthood funding, spurring clinic closures and an HIV outbreak: In 2011, Pence pushed an amendment through the House to defund Planned Parenthood. This amendment helped kick-start a wave of state actions aimed at removing government support from the women's health provider. Indiana was successful in its efforts, but a federal judge blocked the law from going into effect. When Pence became governor in 2013, Indiana continued to slash resources for the women's health provider. By 2014, state funding for Planned Parenthood had been cut nearly in half from 2005 levels. The organization was forced to close five of its smaller clinics, none of which had ever provided abortions, but they did provide STD testing. Soon, Scott County, Indiana, home to one of the closed clinics, became the hub of an enormous HIV outbreak.
He gave protection to businesses in Indiana that discriminate against gay people: In March 2015, Pence signed a bill into law permitting business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers due to their religious beliefs. The bill also allowed religious beliefs to be used as a rationale for other forms of discrimination. As my colleague Molly Redden described it: "An employer who refused to hire Jewish employees could cite his religious beliefs as a defense against discrimination lawsuits. So could a landlord who refused to rent to Muslims, or a business that refused to serve atheists." In response to this bill's passage, athletes, celebrities, corporate leaders, and others criticized the state publicly, and some even pulled out of planned business projects there. The band Wilco canceled an Indianapolis show, referring to "thinly disguised legal discrimination," and Apple's chief executive, Tim Cook, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post slamming the law.

New British PM launches war against environment


New British Prime Minister Theresa May hasn’t even unpacked her bags at 10 Downing Street and she’s already got green groups very worried.

May announced  that she would axe the Department for Energy and Climate Change and replace it with the newly formed Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Climate experts and politicians called the move “plain stupid,” “terrible,” and “beyond daft.”

Also troubling, May appointed Andrea Leadsom as the new environment secretary, a woman who has regularly opposed climate action. One of the first questions Leadsom asked officials when she became energy minister last year was, “Is climate change real?” Leadsom also supported selling off British forests in 2011, a thwarted proposal that proved to be deeply unpopular with British citizens.

July 16, 2016

News Notes

The 239 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter

Mugshot of Bill Gates, arrested in Albuquerque for running a stop sign and driving without a license. 1977.

The Western district of the Methodist church has elected an openly gay bishop despite the denomination's ban on same-sex relationships.

 How DC's powerful are mucking up the statehood drive

How to double Social Security

Jazz break

Bill Evans: Gloria's Step