Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Trump in Mexico

Several major Latino surrogates for Donald Trump are reconsidering their support for him following the Republican nominee’s hardline speech on immigration Wednesday night.

Jacob Monty, a member of Trump’s National Hispanic Advisory Council, has resigned, and Alfonso Aguilar, the president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said in an interview that he is “inclined” to pull his support.


He withdrew from the board following Trump’s speech in Phoenix, which was heavy on calls for border security and emphasized that all immigrants in the country illegally were subject to deportation.

Let me guess...Trump didn't talk like this hours before in Mexico. Does he not know that TV coverage is available in both countries?
At campaign rallies nationwide, Trump has a favorite call-and-response in which he asks his massive crowds who is going to pay for the wall he has promised he would build.

“Mexico!” his supporters shout back. In his Phoenix speech, he renewed his promise to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.

[Alfonso] Aguilar was once a Trump critic who earlier this summer set aside his qualms about Trump’s rhetoric toward Hispanic people, and organized a letter of support signed by himself and other prominent Latino conservatives. Since then, he has repeatedly defended Trump in media appearances, as has Monty. Neither plans to support Hillary Clinton.

“It’s so disappointing because we feel we took a chance, a very risky chance,” Aguilar said. “We decided to make a big U-turn to see if we could make him change. We thought we were moving in the right direction … we’re disappointed. We feel misled.”.

You really weren't paying attention then, were you?
MEXICO CITY — Donald Trump, who has made maligning illegal immigrants from Mexico a cornerstone of his presidential campaign, met with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday — striking a remarkably subdued and cooperative tone.


Trump said at the joint news conference in Mexico that he and Peña Nieto didn’t discuss who would pay for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, despite his long-standing vow to compel Mexico to foot the bill. He and Peña Nieto avoided direct confrontation in front of the cameras, airing their differences on immigration, border security and trade in cordial tones.


“We did discuss the wall. We didn’t discuss payment of the wall. That’ll be for a later date. This was a very preliminary meeting,” the candidate said.

Peña Nieto later claimed the two had discussed the wall and who would pay for it -- and he had "made it clear" to Trump it wouldn't be Mexico.

"At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall," Peña Nieto tweeted, after their meeting Wednesday.

To be fair, he had to say that. His fellow Mexicans are not happy with his invitation to bring Trump to the country.  But it's unlikely that having talked about the wall - which Trump admits they did - the subject of who'd pay didn't come up, since that's Trump's big rallying cry.
In subsequent interviews in Mexico, Peña Nieto reiterated his version of events. He told CNN affiliate Televisa in an interview late Wednesday some of the positions Trump has taken "are a threat to Mexico."

He also told the outlet he was very clear with Trump about the subject of a wall at the border and insisted Mexico would not pay for it and he made Trump aware that the people of Mexico had been "very insulted."

Peña Nieto, speaking alongside Trump during their joint appearance, twice stressed the "responsibility" he has to defend Mexican people around the world and said Trump has made "assertions that regrettably had hurt and have affected Mexicans."

"The Mexican people have felt hurt by the comments that have been made. But I am sure that his genuine interest is to build a relationship that will give both of our society's better welfare," Peña Nieto said.

The whole thing is ridiculous. Peña let his people down. But I'm pretty sure he knows if he allocated any money to pay for a border wall, he'd be torn unceremoniously from his perch by an angry mob.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Ecuador and Bolivia Condemn the Subversion of Democracy in Brazil

There was an attempt to bar impeached president Dilma Rousseff from running again for president, but it failed.  She is eligible to run in the 2018 elections.  Assuming the corrupt government of the new president Michel Temer (who has been banned from running for eight years due to corruption charges) hasn't done away with the constitution before then.  And I don't imagine he will be able to without incurring a popular uprising.  

The whole thing is pretty bizarre.


Brazil: the Goon Squad Takes Over

Screw democracy.  Once they get rid of the courts, maybe they can change the constitution.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.



Coming Soon to a Water Supply Near You

A little-known program under federal environment law is being used to permit oil and gas companies to inject waste into [California]’s aquifers, even as the thirst for groundwater grows.


Now the state — which relied on aquifers for at least 60 percent of its total water supply over the past three years — is taking steps to expand that program, possibly sacrificing portions of dozens more groundwater reserves. In some cases, regulators are considering whether to legalize pollution already taking place at a number of sites, based on arguments that the water that will be lost was too dirty to drink or too difficult to access at an affordable price. Officials also may allow the borders of some pollution areas to be extended, jeopardizing new, previously unspoiled parts of the state’s water supply.

   Pro Publica
Nestle's CEO is looking forward to the fallout
Originally published in December 2013

The current Chairman and former CEO of Nestlé, the largest producer of food products in the world, believes that the answer to global water issues is privatization. This statement is on record from the wonderful company that has peddled junk food in the Amazon, has invested money to thwart the labeling of GMO-filled products, has a disturbing health and ethics record for its infant formula, and has deployed a cyber army to monitor Internet criticism and shape discussions in social media.


Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, believes that “access to water is not a public right.” Nor is it a human right.

  Global Research
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Welfare Reform: Clinton Legacy to Poor and Black Families

Twenty years ago this week, President Bill Clinton signed a historic welfare reform bill formally known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.

With this legislation, Clinton promised to “end welfare as we know it.” Ten years ago, he wrote an op-ed in The New York Times declaring it a success. Now, 20 years on, the transformation of the welfare system is complete, but the question remains: What kind of transformation has it been, and what has it meant for poor families in the U.S.?

A new report from the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at the University of California Berkeley finds that some key provisions have not only failed poor families, but exacerbated poverty, increased instability and worsened health outcomes for the families involved.

Read the article for the details.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

A National Wrestling Match

In [a 1957] essay, [French philosopher Roland] Barthes contrasts pro wrestling to boxing.
This public knows very well the distinction between wrestling and boxing; it knows that boxing is a Jansenist sport, based on a demonstration of excellence. One can bet on the outcome of a boxing-match: with wrestling, it would make no sense. A boxing- match is a story which is constructed before the eyes of the spectator; in wrestling, on the contrary, it is each moment which is intelligible, not the passage of time… The logical conclusion of the contest does not interest the wrestling-fan, while on the contrary a boxing-match always implies a science of the future. In other words, wrestling is a sum of spectacles, of which no single one is a function: each moment imposes the total knowledge of a passion which rises erect and alone, without ever extending to the crowning moment of a result.
  Think Progress
Not to mention, in professional wrestling, the outcome is pre-ordained, so the audience is in on and a part of the spectacle.  They know the thing is rigged.  They're there for the over-the-top action.
In the current campaign, Trump is behaving like a professional wrestler. [...] Trump is focused on each moment and eliciting the maximum amount of passion in that moment. His supporters love it.


The key to generating passion, Barthes notes, is to position yourself to deliver justice against evil forces by whatever means necessary.


Trump knows how to define his opponent — China, “illegals,” hedge fund managers — and pledges to go after them with unbridled aggression.


A wrestling fan is less interested in what is happening — or the coherence of how one event leads to the next — than the fact that something is happening. On that score, Trump delivers. He is omnipresent on TV. When he can’t make it in front of the camera, he’ll simply call in. When he’s not on TV, he’s tweeting boasts, insults, and non-sequiturs. When he runs out of things to tweet, he retweets random comments from his supporters.
And his American base is very like a pro wrestling audience.
[C]alling out Trump as an “entertainer,” rather than a legitimate candidate [...] is as effective to running into the middle of the ring during Wrestlemania and yelling: “This is all fake!” You are correct, but you will not be received well.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Ray of Hope

He might not make it back out.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

And We Still Miss Molly Ivins

I don’t have an agenda, I don’t have a program. I’m not a communist or a socialist. I guess I’m a left-libertarian and a populist, and I believe in the Bill of Rights the way some folks believe in the Bible.

Friends, soulwise, these are trying times. Now is the time for all good citizens to come to the aid of our country, and it won’t help if you all cower in places like Madison and the Upper West Side, having hot fantods over the approach of fascism. To the barricades, team. And for Lord’s sake, don’t leave your sense of humor behind.

-- Molly Ivins
(contains some good quotes)
For a while there, I thought the main reason she wrote for The Progressive was because we let her swear. But there were others: She knew we needed humor to lighten up our pages, and that our readers needed humor to lighten up their lives.

She believed in the power of laughter. She knew it could keep you from getting depressed or burning out. And she knew it could deflate the abusers of power.

Of the Reagan Administration, she said, “Half of it was under average—the other half was under indictment.”

Of Pat Buchanan’s culture war speech at the 1992 Republican convention, she said, “It read better in the original German.”


"Wake me when impending egalitarianism is a problem. In the meantime, oligarchy is eating our ass, our dreams, our country, our heritage, our democracy, our justice, and our tax code.” -- Molly Ivins

August 30, 1944 – January 31, 2007

Hillary Is Running the NeoCon Plan to Own the World

Formerly known as Project for the New American Century.

October 2015:
In an apparent break with the Obama White House, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for the creation of a no-fly zone inside Syria Thursday, the day after Russian warplanes started bombing rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

“I personally would be advocating now for a no-fly zone and humanitarian corridors to try to stop the carnage on the ground and from the air, to try to provide some way to take stock of what’s happening, to try to stem the flow of refugees,” Clinton said in an interview with NBC affiliate WHDH in Boston after a campaign event nearby.

At a CNN/NY1 Democratic debate [...] with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton reiterated her support for such a move.

"I do still support a no-fly zone because I think we need to put in safe havens for those poor Syrians who are fleeing both Assad and ISIS and so they have some place they can be safe," she said.

So far, the Obama administration has resisted. But I expect President Hillary will go for it. Let's look at that No-fly Zone approach as implemented in Libya.
In this fifth anniversary week of the U.S.-led Libya intervention, it’s instructive to revisit Hillary Clinton’s curiously abridged description of that war in her 2014 memoir, Hard Choices. [...] In late March 2011, Clinton quotes herself telling NATO members, “It’s crucial we’re all on the same page on NATO’s responsibility to enforce the no-fly zone and protect civilians in Libya.”

Just two paragraphs later [...] [t]here is an abrupt and unexplained seven-month gap, during which the military mission has inexplicably, and massively, expanded beyond protecting civilians to regime change — seemingly by happenstance. The only opposition combatants even referred to are simply labeled “the rebels,” and the entire role of the NATO coalition and its attendant responsibility in assisting their advance has been completely scrubbed from the narrative.


[It is pertinent] to treat Libya as a case study for the ways that supposedly limited interventions tend to mushroom into campaigns for regime change. Five years on, it’s still not a matter of public record when exactly Western powers decided to topple Qaddafi.

  Foreign Policy
But I believe it would be safe to say it was when the Project for a New American Century was rolled out in 1997.
[PNAC] was established as a non-profit educational organization in 1997, and founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan. The PNAC's stated goal was "to promote American global leadership." The organization stated that "American leadership is good both for America and for the world," and sought to build support for "a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity."

Of the twenty-five people who signed the PNAC's founding statement of principles, ten went on to serve in the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.

(For a better reading of PNAC, click on those two links at the beginning of this post.)
To more fully comprehend what actually happened in Libya five years ago, let’s briefly review what the Obama administration proclaimed and compare that with what actually happened.


Two days [after President Obama announced a no-fly zone in Libya], Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon declared, “The military mission of the United States is designed to implement the Security Council resolution, no more and no less.… I mean protecting civilians against attacks from Qaddafi’s forces and delivering humanitarian aid.” The following day, Clinton’s deputy, James Steinberg, said during a Senate hearing, “President Obama has been equally firm that our military operation has a narrowly defined mission that does not include regime change.” [ed: emphasis mine]


Given that decapitation strikes against Qaddafi were employed early and often, there almost certainly was a decision by the civilian heads of government of the NATO coalition to “take him out” from the very beginning of the intervention.


On March 20, 2011, just hours into the intervention, Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from a British submarine stationed in the Mediterranean Sea struck an administrative building in Qaddafi’s Bab al-Azizia compound, less than 50 yards away from the dictator’s residence.


Later that day, Vice Adm. William Gortney, director of the Joint Staff, was asked by the press, “Can you guarantee that coalition forces are not going to target Qaddafi?” Gortney replied, “At this particular point, I can guarantee that he’s not on a targeting list.” When it was then pointed out that it was Qaddafi’s personal residence that had been attacked, Gortney added, “Yeah. But, no, we’re not targeting his residence. We’re there to set the conditions and enforce the United Nations Security Council resolution. That’s what we’re doing right now and limiting it to that.”


During the theatrical and exhaustive Benghazi hearing in October 2015, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) asked Clinton about a video clip that read, “‘We came, we saw, he died [meaning Qaddafi].’ Is that the Clinton doctrine?” Clinton replied, “No, that was an expression of relief that the military mission undertaken by NATO and our other partners had achieved its end.” Yet, this was never the military mission that the Obama administration repeatedly told the world it had set out to achieve.


In truth, the Libyan intervention was about regime change from the very start. The threat posed by the Libyan regime’s military and paramilitary forces to civilian-populated areas was diminished by NATO airstrikes and rebel ground movements within the first 10 days. Afterward, NATO began providing direct close-air support for advancing rebel forces by attacking government troops that were actually in retreat and had abandoned their vehicles. Fittingly, on Oct. 20, 2011, it was a U.S. Predator drone and French fighter aircraft that attacked a convoy of regime loyalists trying to flee Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte. The dictator was injured in the attack, captured alive, and then extrajudicially murdered by rebel forces.


Meanwhile, the public learned just this week — only because Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin was killed on Saturday — that there is a previously unannounced detachment of Marines in northern Iraq providing “force protection” for the Iraqi military and U.S. advisors. The gradual accretion of troops, capabilities, arms transfers, and expanded military missions seemingly just “happens,” because officials frame each policy step as normal and necessary. The reality is that, collectively, they represent a fundamentally larger and different intervention.

  Foreign Policy
How many of the NeoCons who created PNAC are now backing Hillary? How many will she employ in her administration?

We know Robert Kagan has endorsed her campaign, and Paul Wolfowitz recently said he'd probably vote for her. He will - not "probably". "The co-founder of the DLC is a member of PNAC: Will Marshall." [source]
Here we go again. Earlier this year, some were surprised to see Project For The New American Century (PNAC) co-founder and longtime DC fixture Robert Kagan endorse former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president.

They shouldn’t have been. As is now clear from a policy paper [PDF] published last month, the neoconservatives are going all-in on Hillary Clinton being the best vessel for American power in the years ahead.

The paper, titled “Expanding American Power,” was published by the Center for a New American Security, a Democratic Party-friendly think tank co-founded and led by former Undersecretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy. Flournoy served in the Obama Administration under Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and is widely considered to be the frontrunner for the next secretary of defense, should Hillary Clinton become president.


Former Secretary Clinton already affirmed her belief in regime change during the campaign, but now it looks like those waiting in the wings to staff her government are anxious to wet their bayonets.

“I would say all Republican foreign policy professionals are anti-Trump,” leading neoconservative Robert Kagan told a group gathered around him, groupie-style, at a “foreign policy professionals for Hillary” fundraiser I attended last week. “I would say that a majority of people in my circle will vote for Hillary.”


Kagan is married to Victoria Nuland, the Obama administration’s hardline assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. Nuland, who would likely serve in a senior position in a Clinton administration, supports shipping weapons to Ukraine despite major opposition from European countries and concerns about the neo-Nazi elements those weapons would empower.

Another thing neoconservatives and liberal hawks have in common is confidence that the foreign policy establishment is right, and the growing populist hostility to military intervention is naïve and uninformed.

Kagan complained that Americans are “so focused on the things that have gone wrong in recent years, they miss the sort of basic underlying unusual quality of the international order that we’ve been living in.


The neoconservative Weekly Standard celebrated Clinton’s 2008 appointment as secretary of state as a victory for the right, hailing her transformation from “First Feminist” to “Warrior Queen, more Margaret Thatcher than Gloria Steinem.”


“If, as I hope, Hillary Clinton is elected, she is going to immediately be confronting a country that is not where she is,” [Kagan] said. “She is a believer in this world order. But a great section of the country is not and is going to require persuasion and education.”

  The Intercept
Get ready to be persuaded and educated.

Hillary Clinton: where neo-liberalism meets neo-conservatism. "Intersectionality."

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

It's Sunday

"Eternity isn't some later time. Eternity isn't a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out. This is it. If you don't get it here, you won't get it anywhere, and the experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life." -- Joseph Campbell

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Counting Down

He Is Truly Bizarre

And possibly on strong drugs.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Let the Children Lead the Way

Recently, there's been a spate of mocking tweets in the Twitterverse attributed to a (probably) non-existent but nevertheless precocious offspring.  I thought the origins of telling people your child's view of today's political world was probably based on the idea that either 1) children are supposedly vested with the ability to see through bullshit, or 2) there was some oblique reference to Jesus' few words about suffering the little children to come to him and an admonition to be like innocent little children in order to be holy and heaven-worthy.

Here, for your reading pleasure, is a clever and humorous article on the trend:  The Weird Cynicism of Using Children to Back Up Your Political Opinions.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Crooks & Liars

Since it is highly unlikely that either Gary Johnson or Jill Stein will be permitted to debate with the clown crook and the crook crook, I wonder if anyone will set up a separate debate for those two. That would be helpful, I think.
[Both Hillary and Bill Clinton] made a pledge to [Obama in 2008 that the Clinton Foundation would] publish all the donors on an annual basis to ease concerns that as secretary of state she could be vulnerable to accusations of foreign influence.

At the outset, the Clinton Foundation did indeed publish what they said was a complete list of the names of more than 200,000 donors and has continued to update it. But in a breach of the pledge, the charity's flagship health program, which spends more than all of the other foundation initiatives put together, stopped making the annual disclosure in 2010, Reuters has found.

And no one noticed?
[T]he Clinton Health Access Initiative -] CHAI was spun off as a separate legal entity that year, but the officials acknowledged it still remains subject to the same disclosure agreement as the foundation.


By the time Clinton left office in February 2013, the charity had received millions of dollars [...] in new or increased payments from at least seven foreign governments. Five of the governments came on board during her tenure as secretary of state while two doubled or tripled their support in that time, according to data provided by CHAI spokeswoman Daley.
Mere coincidence.
The State Department said it was unable to cite any instances of its officials reviewing or approving new money from any foreign governments. Daley confirmed that none of the seven government donations had been submitted to the State Department [contravening the Clintons' assurance to the Obama administration that any such activity would be submitted for review].
That article is actually from March 2015, but this is the first I've seen it.

And sadly, probably still better than what the Republicans came up with.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

He. Can't. Help. Himself.

Jamil Smith ‏@JamilSmith 1h1 hour ago Brooklyn, NY
Exactly how would you have stopped Nykea Aldridge's murder, @realDonaldTrump? It's time we learn precisely how you'd magically stop crime.

Also, @realDonaldTrump, will you be citing all black murders going forward as reasons to vote Trump? Or just those related to famous people?

Nykea Aldridge's family just started mourning, @realDonaldTrump. I know from experience how painful this is. And this is what you do.

I've lived 40 years as a black man in America, @realDonaldTrump. Seen many politicians exploit us. Never seen someone do it this crudely.

Trump is worse than clueless.


...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Cult of Celebrity

Early this morning, I was about to post a comment that the Republican party has gone from Reagan to Trump in a straight line from movie actor to cartoon. Now, I see someone else has the same idea of where they've gone.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Rebranding Attempt

If I were you, I'd tag and follow that fawn. One of those Trumps will eventually shoot it.

 Oh, no, I forget. They like big game.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Latest Vote Rigging

When Donald Trump claimed, "the election's going to be rigged," he wasn't entirely wrong. But the threat was not, as Trump warned, from Americans committing the crime of "voting many, many times." What's far more likely to undermine democracy in November is the culmination of a decade-long Republican effort to disenfranchise voters under the guise of battling voter fraud. The latest tool: Election officials in more than two dozen states have compiled lists of citizens whom they allege could be registered in more than one state – thus potentially able to cast multiple ballots – and eligible to be purged from the voter rolls.

  Greg Palast
In both states if they have Republican governors, no doubt.

This could encompass thousands, maybe millions, of people. When you move to another state, do you de-register from the former voter roles? I never did, and I've lived in several different states.
The data is processed through a system called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, which is being promoted by a powerful Republican operative, and its lists of potential duplicate voters are kept confidential. But Rolling Stone obtained a portion of the list and the names of 1 million targeted voters.
Okay, millions.
So far, Crosscheck has tagged an astonishing 7.2 million suspects, yet we found no more than four perpetrators who have been charged with double voting or deliberate double registration.
You never know. Four votes could cost the Republicans the presidency.
According to our analysis, the Crosscheck list disproportionately threatens solid Democratic constituencies: young, black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters – with some of the biggest possible purges underway in Ohio and North Carolina, two crucial swing states with tight Senate races.
What a surprise.
In the mid-2000s, after the Florida-recount debacle, the Bush administration launched a five-year investigation into the allegedly rampant crime [of voter fraud] but found scant evidence of wrongdoing. Still, the GOP has perpetuated the myth in every national election since. Recently, North Carolina Board of Elections chief Kim Strach testified to her legislature that 35,750 voters are "registered in North Carolina and another state and voted in both in the 2012 general election." Yet despite hiring an ex-FBI agent to lead the hunt, the state has charged exactly zero double voters from the Crosscheck list.


Some states have dropped out of Crosscheck, citing problems with its methodology, as Oregon's secretary of state recently explained: "We left [Crosscheck] because the data we received was unreliable."
Another big surprise.

At least Crosscheck compares first, middle and last names with birth date and last four social digits. The Florida purges in 2000 (which Greg Palast also wrote about in his book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy) before the Bush election were purging voters, matching names of convicted felons - people stripped of their voting right according to US law - to voter rolls by comparing only first and last names, thus purging thousands of eligible voters - again mostly black.
And those promised birth dates and Social Security numbers? The Crosscheck instruction manual says that "Social Security numbers are included for verification; the numbers might or might not match" – which leaves a crucial step in the identification process up to the states. Social Security numbers weren't even included in the state lists we obtained.


We had Mark Swedlund, a database expert whose clients include eBay and American Express, look at the data from Georgia and Virginia, and he was shocked by Crosscheck's "childish methodology." He added, "God forbid your name is Garcia, of which there are 858,000 in the U.S., and your first name is Joseph or Jose. You're probably suspected of voting in 27 states."


We found that one-fourth of the names on the list actually lacked a middle-name match. The system can also mistakenly identify fathers and sons as the same voter, ignoring designations of Jr. and Sr. A whole lot of people named "James Brown" are suspected of voting or registering twice, 357 of them in Georgia alone. But according to Crosscheck, James Willie Brown is supposed to be the same voter as James Arthur Brown. James Clifford Brown is allegedly the same voter as James Lynn Brown.
So, essentially the same as the Florida purges.
The U.S. Census data shows that minorities are overrepresented in 85 of 100 of the most common last names.


This inherent bias results in an astonishing one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans and one in nine African-Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list. Was the program designed to target voters of color? "I'm a data guy," Swedlund says. "I can't tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities."


And not surprisingly, almost all Crosscheck states are Republican-controlled.


I met Donald Webster, who, like most in his [Dayton, Ohio] neighborhood, is African-American.

Crosscheck lists him registered in Ohio as Donald Alexander Webster Jr., while registered a second time as Donald Eugene Webster (no "Jr.") in Charlottesville, Virginia. Webster says he's never been a "Eugene" and has never been to Charlottesville. I explained that both he and his Virginia doppelgänger were subject to losing their ability to vote.

"How low can they go?" he asked. "I mean, how can they do that?"

I put his question to Robert Fitrakis, a voting-rights attorney who examined our Crosscheck data.  [...]  Fitrakis says that the Ohio secretary of state's enthusiasm for Crosscheck fits a pattern: "He doesn't want to match middle names, because he doesn't want real matches. They're targeting people with clearly defined ethnic names that typically vote for the Democratic Party. He wants to win Ohio the only way he knows how – by taking away the rights of citizens to vote."  [ed: The state will ostensibly send out plain white postcards with tiny type to these people, and they're required to send them back with a signature to verify their status or be purged from the voter roles. So, if you think you are a likely target of this state-sponsored fraud, watch your mail carefully, and don't automatically toss little white postcards that look like some con scheme. They are, but one you want to answer.]


Crosscheck purge machinery was in operation well before Trump arrived on the political scene – and will continue for elections to come. Low voter turnout of any kind traditionally favors the GOP, and this is the party's long game to keep the rolls free of young people, minorities and the poor.
Who, if they vote, tend to vote Democrat.  So why isn't the Democrat party more anxious to end these types of actual voter fraud?

When I went to tag this post with appropriate labels, I entered the name of the architect of this fraudulent program: Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State. It turns out, back in 2012, I had another post with Kobach as a subject. He was listed at that time as a Romney adviser and "an architect of anti-immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama."

Palast, in the above Rolling Stone article gives this additional information on Mr. Kobach:
After 9/11, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft tasked Kobach with creating a system to track foreign travelers. (It was later shut down over concerns about racial profiling.) He is best known as the author of Arizona's "Driving While Brown Law," which allowed cops to pull over drivers and ask for proof of their legal status. He co-wrote the ultraconservative 2016 RNC party platform, working in a recommendation that Crosscheck be adopted by every state in the Union. He's also the Trump adviser who came up with a proposal to force Mexico into paying for Trump's wall.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Better and Better

This is too good.
Donald Trump's personal physician said he wrote a letter declaring Trump would be the healthiest president in history in just five minutes while a limo sent by the candidate waited outside his Manhattan office.


Bornstein said that after he was asked to write the letter, he thought about what he would say all day but did not type it out until the last minute as a black car sent by Trump waited to collect it. He said he didn't even proofread it."

No, wait. It gets better yet.
When he sat down to write the letter, Bornstein — who is board-certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology — gushed that Trump's lab results were "astonishingly excellent.


"His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary," the doctor wrote.


"His health is excellent, especially his mental health," he said in an exclusive interview at his Park Avenue office.


"If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency," Bornstein wrote.

Asked how he could justify the hyperbole, Bornstein said, "I like that sentence to be quite honest with you and all the rest of them are either sick or dead."
Oh, God.  Excellent.

Trump wrote that letter, himself, didn't he?

Meet the "highly respected Dr. Harold Bornstein"...

Maybe Dr. Bornstein did write that.  Maybe.
At first, I thought I'd be sick to death of Trump, but I'm loving this.

Wolfowitz Is Back

As many of the Bush era warmongers, Paul Wolfowitz is publicly denouncing Donald Trump. In this Der Spiegel interview he says he "might have to vote for Hillary Clinton, even though" he has "big reservations about her."
SPIEGEL: Mr. Wolfowitz, as deputy secretary of defense under President George W. Bush, you supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Today, many people regard this war as a key factor behind the instability in the Middle East as well as the rise of the Islamic State (IS). Do you feel personally responsible?

You must be joking.
Wolfowitz: No, because Islamic State is mainly a direct result of the failure in Syria.
Sure. It was all Barack Obama's fault. Everything was great until he took over.

But really, could Obama not see this coming when he continued the Bush policies, pretended to end the war in Iraq, and expanded the war to Syria and other countries? If he couldn't, he's not as smart as he'd like us to think.
Wolfowitz: As far as Iraq is concerned, if it had stayed stable the way it was in 2008, IS would not have been able to expand in Iraq the way they did. The mistake was that Barack Obama withdrew the armed forces from Iraq too fast.
Right. Iraq was stable in 2008. George Bush handed Obama a stable Middle East and Obama blew it. Or as Donald Trump recently said, Obama founded ISIS.
Wolfowitz: Peaceful political change has been enormously successful in the past years in Eastern European countries as well as in countries like South Korea, South Africa, Chile and Indonesia.
Jesus Christ. Peaceful political change?!? Paul Wolfowitz is apparently living in an alternate universe. Or perhaps, from an alternate universe.


 When are we going to hear from Cheney on his vote for Hillary?

What Could Be More Logical?

Geo Group, the second largest private prison company in the U.S., and a major player in for-profit immigrant detention, filed a disclosure this month revealing that it provided $50,000 through its political action committee to Rebuilding America Now, the Super PAC backing the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.


Trump has promised sweeping policies to detain and deport millions of undocumented immigrants, a policy platform that he routinely references at rallies across the country.

  The Intercept
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Only Thing Softening Is His Brain

Trump had said earlier this week that he would be open to a "softening" on immigration, and made a series of comments that indicated a path to legalization was likely as long as they paid taxes accumulated from their time living here illegally.


[He] declined in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper to clarify whether he would still forcibly deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US -- a major tenet of his immigration platform -- after he suggested this week he was "softening" on the idea.


"There is a very good chance the answer could be yes," Trump said when asked if he would deport those who have lived here peacefully but without papers. "We're going to see what happens."


"There's no path to legalization unless they leave the country," Trump said after an event in Manchester, New Hampshire. "When they come back in, then they can start paying taxes, but there is no path to legalization unless they leave the country and then come back."

Always pandering and reinforcing his base's ignorance. Illegal immigrants are already paying taxes.  Corporations and businesses owned by billionaires on the other hand...well, that's not something Trump is going to be ranting about.
Trump's comments are the latest turn in a now-daily recalibration of his position on immigration, which Trump said he would crystallize in a speech next week.


"It's a process. You can't take 11 at one time and just say 'boom, you're gone,'" he told Cooper, floating the idea that as many as 30 million people could be living here illegally, a projection well beyond most analysts' figures. "I don't think it's a softening. I've had people say it's a hardening, actually."
Of the arteries, leading to lack of oxygen to the brain.
"All I'm embracing is common sense," Trump said. "We're bringing love."
Yes. Love.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Coming to a City Near You

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

France Is Pulling Up Before Disastrous Crash

It Just Gets Better and Better

I'm a little late to this party, but what was Christie thinking?
July 13, 2016 at 5:37 PM, updated July 14, 2016 at 7:17 AM

TRENTON — While Gov. Chris Christie is among the final candidates Donald Trump is considering to be his running mate, the business mogul's son-in-law Jared Kushner opposes the idea of Christie on the ticket, CNN reported Wednesday.
And why do you suppose that was?

And the bigger question: why did Christie even imagine he could be a part of a Trump administration, considering the fact that Christie as Jersey AG had prosecuted and sent Ivanka Trump's father-in-law to jail?
"It's obviously out there and it doesn't help. We're just not sure if it hurts," a source close to Christie told CNN.
Really? Perhaps they assumed Donald Trump was just your average billionaire for whom business is business and not also the vengeful megalomaniac he is. You'd think that would be obvious to anyone who's ever met him.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie enters the story [of Ivanka Trump's father-in-law Charles Kushner] in 2004. At the time, Christie was U.S. Attorney for New Jersey and going after Kushner was an early success story for him. Christie indicted Kushner on conspiracy, obstruction of justice and witness intimidation, notes Multi Family Executive.

That last charge stems from the fact that Kushner hired a prostitute to seduce William Schulder, his sister Esther Schulder’s husband, in an effort to get Esther to not cooperate with authorities.


Kushner agreed to plead guilty to felony counts of submitting false campaign finance reports and tax returns. He was sentenced to two years in prison, notes Politico.

From what I've gathered, Jared Kushner (Ivanka's husband) plays a major role in the Trump campaign organization. Is Christie that clueless?

Christie dropped out of the presidential race after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary [...]. He enthusiastically backed Trump in a surprise endorsement in Fort Worth  [...] .


“Gov. Chris Christie has made it abundantly clear that governing New Jersey is a distant second priority for him, far behind the demands of his personal ambition,” the Star-Ledger said. It called the Trump endorsement “craven” and the “moment when [Christie] lost any last shred of credibility.”


Hewlett Packard Enterprise chief executive Meg Whitman, one of Christie’s top supporters, issued a statement [...] blasting him for an “astonishing display of political opportunism” in endorsing Trump, whom Whitman labeled a “dishonest demagogue.”


In one prominent appearance [...] , Christie introduced “Mr. Trump” and then stood behind the mogul as he celebrated seven Super Tuesday primary victories that [...] put him on a path to be the Republican nominee [for president]. Christie’s expressions seemed pained, glassy and vacant, leading to mocking suggestions on social media and cable television shows that the governor looked like he was regretting his endorsement [of Trump's candidacy] or being held against his will.


“I was not sitting up there thinking, ‘Oh, my God, what have I done?’ ” Christie [said].

He sure looked like that's what he was thinking. Perhaps the Trump people had him drugged and stood up behind Trump as punishment for his conviction of Charles Kushner. Or, more likely, led him on to think Trump might actually consider him for VP just to stand him up and humiliate him, and this was the very moment Christie realized what had just happened.

Back to Kushner...
“[Being in jail] gave me an opportunity to learn a lot about myself,” Kushner told The Real Deal. “I learned a lot about other people. I learned a lot about different areas I’ve always had an interest to learn about, whether it be Jewish history or derivative financing. I didn’t waste my time in jail. I was able to read the Wall Street Journal cover to cover every day.”

Kushner also called the incident with his sister “a family tragedy” and he believed that God and his parents will forgive him in heaven. He did say that he didn’t think his parents would forgive his sister though for “instigating a criminal investigation and being cheerleaders for the government and putting their brother in jail because of jealousy, hatred and spite.”

Kushner also told The Real Deal that the one thing he would change if he had to start everything from the beginning was not include Marry as a business partner.

This stuff is great. If all presidential campaign seasons were as entertaining as this one, I wouldn't mind at all that they last so long.

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

A (Baby) Step in the Right Direction

The Justice Department announced plans Aug. 18 to phase out the use of privately run federal prisons. The announcement, first reported by The Washington Post, came as a memo written by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

  Bill Moyers
Only good if the Democrats hold the White House in November. And maybe not even then.
Donald Trump has said, “I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons. It seems to work a lot better.”
"Seems" being the operative word on pretty much whatever Donald says. I'm surprised he used that qualifier, though, rather than just saying it works a lot better, period. He said that back in March. I don't know whether he's revised that opinion since the report by the IG last week indicating just the opposite.
Hillary Clinton’s relationship to the industry is more complex. Last October, facing pressure from primary opponent Bernie Sanders — who has proposed a total ban on private prisons — Clinton announced she would no longer accept donations from the industry. In April, she declared, “We should end private prisons and private detention centers.”
And, as we all know, Hillary Clinton never changes her tune to match the wind.
[Some 22,000] inmates are housed at 13 privately run federal “contract” prisons, which primarily house “criminal aliens,” or noncitizens convicted of crimes, many of whom may be deported at the end of their sentences. They’re in California, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina. The Bureau of Prisons, by contrast, runs more than 100 prisons [holding roughly 170,000].


Last week, the federal Inspector General released a report concluding that federal prisons run by private companies are substantially less safe and secure than ones run by the Bureau of Prisons, and feature higher rates of violence and contraband. The report, which followed years of pressure by advocacy groups, highlighted a series of riots at these facilities in recent years, often sparked by substandard food and medical care and generally poor conditions.


Part of what made the new scrutiny possible was an overall decline in the federal prison population, which dropped from 220,000 prisoners in 2013, according to the memo, to 195,000 today.


According to the memo, as each of these contracts comes up for renewal over the next five years, the bureau will “either decline to renew that contract or substantially reduce its scope.”

The policy shift has no bearing on the private operation of immigrant detention facilities. As of December, 62 percent of the 34,000 beds for people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are in privately-run facilities. They are under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, not the Department of Justice.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Cult of Celebrity

It says something when you appear at events before a gigantic picture of yourself.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Citizens United

Surely no liberal Clinton supporter would have been opposed to the Citizens United ruling that said corporations can give money to political campaigns because, as we all know, there is no quid pro quo in politics.  They certainly don't have any problem with the Clinton Foundation collection of millions of dollars from foreign countries while Hillary was Secretary of State.
During the four years Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation run by her husband took tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments and corporations.

Many of these donors had a lot riding on Clinton’s decisions. Saudi Arabia gave the foundation up to $25 million, and Clinton signed off on a controversial $29 billion sale of fighter jets to the country. Oil companies gave the foundation around $3 million, and Clinton approved a lucrative gas pipeline in the Canadian tar sands they’d long sought.

Still, you can't PROVE a connection.
[A]nother media feeding frenzy over the foundation kicked off again on Monday, when the State Department was forced to release emails showing that the foundation’s leadership tried to land its top donors meetings with the secretary of state.


Certainly, none of them offers proof that Clinton was willing to trade government favors directly for big contributions. Moreover, as Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum writes, most of the donors’ requests to see Clinton were actually turned down.


So if there was no quid pro quo, does that mean Clinton's conduct was aboveboard?


Talking with top government officials obviously isn’t the same as getting them to do your bidding, but doing so can help structure how they think, whom they turn to for advice, and, ultimately, what they decide to do. And the emails at least strongly suggest that foundation donors had a better opportunity to mold the secretary of state’s worldview than they would have otherwise.
No, I think the Saudis gave money to the Clinton Foundation because they're such great humanitarians. It was all about charity. They just wanted meetings with the US Secretary of State to personally thank her for allowing them to further the cause of women's rights the world over.
As the AP has pointed out, the State Department is stonewalling the release of Clinton’s schedule — meaning we probably only know a fraction of the actual meetings she held with donors.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Clinton Foundation

That the Clinton Foundation has done some good work is beyond dispute. But that fact has exactly nothing to do with the profound ethical problems and corruption threats raised by the way its funds have been raised. Hillary Clinton was America’s chief diplomat, and tyrannical regimes such as the Saudis and Qataris jointly donated tens of millions of dollars to an organization run by her family and operated in their name, one whose works has been a prominent feature of her public persona. That extremely valuable opportunity to curry favor with the Clintons, and to secure access to them, continues as she runs for President.

The claim that this is all just about trying to help people in need should not even pass a laugh test, let alone rational scrutiny.

  The Intercept
Glenn Greenwald explains.

Another primary project of the Clinton Foundation is the elimination of wealth inequality, which “leads to significant economic disparities, both within and among countries, and prevents underserved populations from realizing their potential.” Who could possibly maintain that the reason the Qatari and Emirates regimes donated millions to the Clinton Foundation was their desire to eliminate such economic oppression?
Seriously, Glenn. Who could possibly maintain that the Clintons are themselves actually concerned with the elimination of wealth inequality?  That doesn't pass the laugh test, either.

He Has the Best Words*

If you've been hearing and thinking that Trump is "softening" his stance on immigration - disabuse yourself immediately.

Here's that wonderful "Obama is the Head Negro in Charge" spokeswoman of his to explain:


Who the heck is this woman anyway?

Ex-shop-lifter who "turned her life around" and founded a local Tea Party group in Garland, TX, then called for Texas to secede.  She was endorsed by Sarah Palin in a bid to represent Texas' 32nd district.  She formerly worked to support Ted Cruz, and then in late 2015, after having held "a variety of jobs", was hired to be Trump's national spokesperson.

Well, according to that great infallible source Wikipedia.

Oh, and, like Barack Obama, she was born in Kansas to a white mother and a black father.  You'd think she'd have some sympathetic leanings.   Oh, wait.  He was actually born in Kenya.

 Head Negro in Charge, indeed.  Do I detect some self-loathing?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.


The Cold War Is Back

On Saturday’s episode of AM Joy with Joy Ann Reid, guest Malcolm Nance, a former Naval intelligence officer, summed up MSNBC’s Russia panic with this quote:
Joy Ann Reid: Because from what I’ve seen, the only people not with Hillary Clinton at this point…are people in the Jill Stein camp. Jill Stein was sitting at Putin’s table right with General Flynn.

Malcolm Nance: Jill Stein has a show on Russia Today.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein doesn’t have a show at all, let alone on RT. She once attended a function hosted by RT, which, by our current standards of liberal discourse, makes her a Kremlin agent, but the fact that such a demonstrably false statement could be made on cable news to thousands of people without anyone bothering to correct it shows how easy Russia panic is to stoke.

Not to mention, how important it is to the pro-government press to denigrate Jill Stein (and any other third party candidate). After all these decades, calling someone a Commie in America still works. It's the second best slam after calling someone an Islamic State supporter.
Earlier in the segment, Nance made the claim that “someone” in Trump’s campaign “may” be an “agent of Russia,” citing a recent report in the Financial Times (8/19/16) alleging that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s former translator “may” have “links” to Russian intelligence.
You think Nance is shilling for Hillary?
Nance had a hot tip, offered in smarmy “insider” tones: “Here’s a bit of strategic intelligence for you. Russia is doing a military massing of forces in Crimea in what appears to be an ‘October Surprise.’” That’s correct, an MSNBC contributor is openly speculating Russia will invade Ukraine for the express purposes of influencing the US elections.
I smell a false flag.
[Former ambassador to Russia Michael] McFaul was Rachel Maddow’s source for her August 15 segment, “Trump Chairman’s Pro-Putin Past Remains Murky.” Maddow began the interview openly speculating that Trump presently employed Russian agents, asking McFaul if such an agreement were legal, despite the lack of evidence it was actually going on. The segment finished up with more idle speculation as to why Putin is backing Trump, with McFaul insisting Clinton represented the “opposite” of what the Russian president wanted.
The full court press is on to "elect" Hillary Clinton.

And here's the long-term effect (and perhaps immediate effect) of this new old Cold War Commie Panic:
How can the US negotiate the end of the Syrian conflict or the Ukrainian crisis if the public, even MSNBC-watching liberals, views Russia as irredeemably aggressive and incapable of ever being a US “friend”? In the interest of short-term partisan gain, pundits on America’s nominally liberal cable network are damaging the prospects of normalizing relations with Russia for years to come.
I don't think it's so much a case of the American public being hyped up into Russia-hatred, because the American public is like a torch mob that can be turned on a dime. But that last sentence is probably spot on.  And that seems extremely short-sighted, not to mention highly dangerous.  Unless they really are trying to expand the Middle-East wars to worldwide annihilation.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The State Department Is "Deeply Concerned" by a "Situation" to Which It Is a Party

Where in the World Is Julian Assange?

Fox viewers, according to some studies, aren't the best informed people on the planet.  Maybe she figures they don't know.  Or, maybe it's just Fox being Fox: "Undisclosed location" -  we've got your big secret right here!  Or, a third possibility, I suppose, is that Megyn doesn't know where Julian is.

Is he trying to make up with Megyn?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bubble Wrapped

In the main, the Clinton campaign is probably correct in its belief that it can count down the clock to November without seriously addressing the twin controversies that continue to dog her candidacy: [her private email server and the Clinton Foundation].


Still, Clinton’s attitude towards what amount to a serious lapse in judgment in one case and a cesspit of conflicting interests in the other is baffling.

Close allies characterize her as frustrated by the ongoing focus on the issue of her email server because she still fundamentally believes she did nothing to bend the rules. She is also resentful that Trump is only trailing by single-digits in national polls when she thinks there is no comparison between her baggage and his and that a Clintonian double standard is at play.
  New Republic
Because these people truly live in bubbles and are perhaps, for the most part, true narcissists.
The use of the email server was a clear violation of State Department rules, and was plain stupid to boot. The Clinton Foundation was a problem you could see coming a mile away, back when the Times reported that Canadian mining magnates were plowing millions of dollars into the foundation even as they helped Rosatom purchase uranium interests in the United States.


The hilarious part is when allies like James Carville complain that the work of the Clinton Foundation is pure. “I will lay back and mourn for those who will die because they’re not going to get the vaccines they need,” he told Politico. Seems to me that if the crown prince of Bahrain really cared about those vaccines, he could find some way of funding them other than through the Clintons, right?
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Clinton Foundation

Check out this very interesting thread about the CF.  It appears that CF is essentially a money-maker for consultants and a fund-raiser.  Maybe a middle-man for actual charity donations, skimming off part of the money donated, with the Clintons themselves being paid out of that skim. Reminds me of - who's that group that bundles a bunch of charities and has annual drives where employers squeeze donations from employees?  The organization doesn't do any good at all themselves, but they pretend you're giving to charities when you pledge a certain amount of your pay to them, and your employer requires 100% participation, meaning you look like a skinflint who doesn't care about the needy if you return your ticket without agreeing to an automatic withdrawal from your pay.  You usually have to sit through a film about the charities on their list, and often, one of your co-workers who has benefited from one of those charities in the past will be manipulated into presenting the scam.  Don't know why their name escapes me now, because for years, I sat through those things, and never took the bait. It'll come to me.  Your charitable donations should go to charity, not administrators or bundlers.

Another bit of scrum I caught on the radio this morning was a bit about CF's promise that if Hillary is elected in November, CF will break up and move certain facets to other organizations, and Bill will resign his role on the board.  The piece ended with, "and then Chelsea Clinton will be the only Clinton on the Foundation board."  (I may have paraphrased.)  What I immediately thought was, so how's that make it all above-board?  It would be wrong for the president's husband to stay on the board, but not the president's daughter?

UPDATE 8/25:


Here's Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept on the subject.

Now Where Are the French-Bashing Jokes...

...when they actually deserve them?

Oh, and this one:
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, [a] mother of two said she was not wearing a burkini that day on Cannes-la-Bocca beach, just a headscarf and a normal dress:

"Someone must have called the police because three policemen headed directly toward us to inform me of the decree [from the mayor of Cannes on burkinis].”

She said police suggested she wear her headscarf as a “bandana”.

"I cannot wear my scarf as a bandana; I want to cover my neck. I do not see how this can bother anyone," Siham told the officers, before being asked to leave the beach.

"They told me clearly: 'You do not want to leave the beach? No? We will write you a fine.’”

  AA English
Last week, Nice became the latest French resort to ban the burkini. Using language similar to the bans imposed earlier at other locations, the city barred clothing that “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks”.

No. Not "a" religion. The Muslim religion. You can still wear a habit if you're a nun, and you can always wear cross or Jesus fish jewelry or insignia.  Also, a star of David, kolpik, payot, and tallit.

I heard on the radio (NPR) this morning that the second woman is suing.  I don't know what French law there may be that she might use, or if this is new territory. Hopefully, it will put an end to this disgraceful bullshit.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.