Friday Reads: The NAZI Kleptocracy Pogrom brought to you by the Oligarchs and Trump-Billies

squidbilly-confed-flagIs that header clickbaity enough?

Good!  Welcome to my basic economics history lesson on the relationship between privatization and the NAZI economics strategy of the 1930s as jetstreamed to the US in this century.  The lesson will be punctuated by the examples of absolute stupid Trump-Billy idiots that are about to find out that all markets do not necessary run better with billionaire corporate lackies in charge.  They are also finding out that extremely wealthy people are about to take over the White House and what ever economic security they ever had is headed for the pockets of the already obscenely wealthy.

Trump is not draining the swamp.  He’s making it radioactive.  One Trump-Billy woke up to that reality the day she found out that the new Treasury Secretary is the same dude that foreclosed on home sweet home.  Good decision making is not the hallmark of a Trump-Billy.

When Donald Trump named his Treasury secretary, Teena Colebrook felt her heart sink.

She had voted for the president-elect on the belief that he would knock the moneyed elites from their perch in Washington, D.C. And she knew Trump’s pick for Treasury Steven Mnuchin all too well.

OneWest, a bank formerly owned by a group of investors headed by Mnuchin, had foreclosed on her Los Angeles-area home in the aftermath of the Great Recession, stripping her of the two units she rented as a primary source of income.

“I just wish that I had not voted,” said Colebrook, 59. “I have no faith in our government anymore at all. They all promise you the world at the end of a stick and take it away once they get in.”

Less than a month after his presidential win, Trump’s populist appeal has started to clash with a Cabinet of billionaires and millionaires that he believes can energize economic growth.

The prospect of Mnuchin leading the Treasury Department drew plaudits from many in the financial sector. A former Goldman Sachs executive who pivoted in the early 2000s to hedge fund management and movie production, he seemed an ideal emissary to Wall Street.

When asked on Wednesday about his credentials to be Treasury secretary, Mnuchin emphasized his time running OneWest which not only foreclosed on Colebrook but also on thousands of others in the aftermath of the housing crisis caused by subprime mortgages.

“What I’ve really been focused on is being a regional banker for the last eight years,” Mnuchin said. “I know what it takes to make sure that we can make loans to small and midmarket companies and that’s going to be our big focus, making sure we scale back regulation so that we make sure the banks are lending.”

Yeah. We already know how well that went.  Too bad history is gonna repeat itself.squidbilly-vote

Let’s just stop for a moment of silence and think about what Hamilton really wanted the Electors of the Electoral college to do because stopping the ascent of a crazy person to the White House is exactly what needs to be done.  It’s also what Hamilton charged the Electors to do.  Electors should trump the Trumpbillies.  There are a few Electors that have this in mind.  This folks are from Washington state so it’s a very limited group.

The electors championing the Electoral College revolt say their effort is “in the spirit of” founding father Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, once wrote the Electoral College is necessary to ensure “the office of the President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

One of Washington state’s most prominent Trump supporters, state Sen. Doug Ericksen, rebuked the Electoral College dissenters, calling the effort “irrelevant” and its supporters within the electoral system “a very small fringe element.”

“I think that those people should get together with Jill Stein and go hand-count ballots in Michigan,” said the Republican from Ferndale, referring to the Green Party candidate’s ongoing recount efforts.

Ericksen was Trump’s deputy campaign director in the state.

“The election is over — Mr. Trump won,” Ericksen said. “So they can be crazy like Jill Stein and drag this out or they can do their job and follow the will of the people.”

The “Hamilton Electors” face an uphill battle.

squidbilly-jibber-jabberSo, what we’re beginning to see is more and more unwinding of a democratic America in both the big D and little D sense of the word.  I’m about to get to what should be the canary in the coal mine which is the translation of an economic strategy used by the NAZIs to transfer public assets to their enablers and supporters,  This always upsets your libertarian friends and all those rewriters of history that say that NAZIs hated capitalism.  Au contraire, they are the very founders of kleptocracy and crony capitalism.  The Trump-Billies need to realize that they put fascists in the White House.

… the first use of the word “privatization” (or “reprivatization”) in English occurred in the 1930s, in the context of explaining economic policy in the Third Reich. Indeed, the English word was formulated as a translation of the German word “Reprivatisierung,” which had itself been newly minted under the Third Reich.

So, we can discuss how totally awful voucher systems have been for schools and how expensive and inefficient private prisons, and private guards for embassies, and private food providers for the military have been. There is research out the wazoo on all of that.  

But privatization practice is often a disaster. An inefficient government monopoly is replaced by an even more inefficient private monopoly that is more expensive, wasteful and lacking in accountability or responsibility for serving the public good.

The selection of private contractors is often rife with the corruption of political sweetheart deals. The profit motive consistently trumps public interest And shareholders and executives benefit at public expense, while public services deteriorate.

We can also discussion how Bobby Jindal bankrupted Louisiana doing exactly what Trump and Pence rallied around last night.  A program of giving huge amounts of money to private industry that held a few jobs hostage and still wants its $7 billion defense contracts left alone.  The Indiana Carrier deal is a wonderful example of how to waste public funds and transfer the hard earned cashed of working and middle people into corporate profits.  Here’s a back of the envelop analysis from Paul Krugman via twitter.

Another metric: Trump would have to do one Carrier-sized deal a week for 30 years to save as many jobs as Obama’s auto bailout

But, before I go full throttle medieval on that, let me just point out that Voter Suppression laws in this country give Trump a very very very skinny electoral college win.  We’re on our way to getting more of them.  Here’s a back of the envelop analysis from my friend Lamar White, Jr.squidbilly-gays

Hillary Clinton now has a popular vote lead of 2.5 million.

Donald Trump won the electoral college, however, by less than 80,000 votes.

To put this into perspective, if Toledo were in Michigan and not Ohio, Clinton would be the next President, elected with the same popular vote margin as Obama in 2012.

A new study shows that Voter ID laws suppress minority and Democratic voters.  So, it’s working just as it was planned.  Here’s your 2016 reduction in turnout explanation.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego have created a new statistical model indicating that voter identification laws do what detractors claim — reduce turnout for minorities and those on the political left.

Overall, the researchers found, strict ID laws cause a reduction in Democratic turnout by 8.8 percentage points, compared to a reduction of 3.6 percentage points for Republicans.

The study focused on the 11 states with the strictest voter ID laws, generally requiring photo identification to cast a ballot. Researchers used a large voter survey database to compare turnout in those states to those in states with lesser or no ID requirements.

Several states have passed less strict ID laws. But in 17 states including California, New York and Illinois, a more traditional honor system still applies at the ballot box.

We also have some righteous calls to the White House asking the President to declassify the evidence that Russian influenced and hacked our election.  squidbilly-guns

Seven members of the Senate Intelligence Committee wrote to President Obamathis week asking him to declassify and make public “additional information concerning the Russian government and the U.S. election” that committee members apparently have learned about in confidential briefings. The president should take their advice.

Cynics might be tempted to view their letter — which was signed only by Democrats and an independent senator who caucuses with them — as a partisan ploy designed to buttress the argument that Donald Trump’s victory was rendered illegitimate by Russian meddling on his behalf.

But seeking information about possible Russian meddling in the election shouldn’t be a partisan issue. If the Russian government indeed attempted to influence, disrupt or subvert the outcome by stealing and publicizing the emails of senior Democratic officials or promoting the dissemination on social media of “fake news” damaging to Hillary Clinton, that should outrage Americans regardless of whom they supported on Nov. 8. The public has a right to know as much about any such operation as can be made public without compromising intelligence sources and methods.

squidbilliy-fineThen, there’s the Michigan AG who is trying to stop the recount there.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette wants the Michigan Supreme Court to halt a presidential recount in Michigan before it begins.

In a court action filed today, Schuette echoes arguments made for President-elect Donald Trump, arguing Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who received just over 1% of the vote in Michigan, is not an “aggrieved” candidate entitled to a recount, and there isn’t time to complete a recount, even if Stein was entitled to one.

“If allowed to proceed, the statewide hand recount could cost Michigan taxpayers millions of dollars and would put Michigan voters at risk of being disenfranchised in the electoral college,” Schuette, in a filing signed by Chief Legal Counsel Matthew Schneider, said in asking the Michigan Supreme Court for immediate consideration of his petition barring a recount.

Schuette, a Republican who is expected to run for governor in 2018, chaired the presidential campaign of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush before supporting Trump as the party nominee.

 So, all of this so we can have our public assets looted by the kleptocracy. The Carrier deal is probably the first sign that it’s about to get worse.  Especially given we were treated to a Trumpapalooza trying to convince folks in Indiana that $7 million dollars for less than 1000 jobs when more are still leaving the country is a damned fine deal.  It’s corporate welfare and its far more expensive than creating jobs for teachers, firefighters, and police.

Carrier’s announcement that it would indeed keep 1,000 jobs at its Indianapolis furnace factory (which Trump identified in a tweet as an air-conditioner factory) cited “very productive conversations” with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, but also mentioned Trump’s supposed “commitment to support the business community.”

That “support,” we later learned, came in the form of “incentives offered by the state (Indiana),” where Pence is still governor, by the way.

And here’s the man behind the curtain that the Wizard of Oz doesn’t want you paying attention to: Carrier isn’t staying because of its supposed secret negotiations with Trump and Pence, but because Indiana pols gave the company a tax break — a taxpayer-backed incentive that has a long and, at best, mixed history of success. (State officials have not revealed which tax incentive Carrier will get, though the Wall Street Journal reported that the deal will hand Carrier $7 million over 10 years; my email to the Indiana Economic Development Corp. has still not been answered.)

Indiana’s own economic development people put out a report last year that reveals that since 2009, job growth among all private sector firms in the state is much stronger than job growth in firms that got what Indiana calls the Economic Development for a Growing Economy subsidy. In 2014 (the last year studied), firms getting the subsidy actually lost jobs and firms not getting the subsidy added jobs.

Plus, the benefits do not trickle down to the communities.  tumblr_lrx5njwnjn1qg4f0do6_r1_400

Economists who testified in Indiana last year offered state officials an analysisof how various tax incentive programs are doing in other states:

“The MEGA tax credit (that’s what Michigan calls its program) failed to have a discernible impact on employment in the manufacturing or wholesale sectors even though the credits are targeted to businesses in these sectors,” the report said.

“These grants (now referring to EDGE in Indiana) fail to have a discernible impact on manufacturing employment and that the Hoosier Business Investment credit fails to impact either employment measure.”

“The estimation results suggest that the tax incentives (speaking about Ohio now) failed to have a positive impact on employment by incentive recipients. In fact, the estimates suggest that the incentives may have dampened the employment growth of firms receiving the incentives in the first two years of an expansion.”

I find facts like this really interesting because they reveal the bottom line about corporate welfare: sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. States give away millions of dollars a year on “corporate retention” deals. The loss to taxpayers is also millions of dollars a year.

Unlike giving money to corporations where money can roll off to out of state salaries, sources of materials, and stock and management dividends and bonuses,  spending money directly on things like state roads and state employees goes directly into the economy of the communities.  There’s a difference in the percentage of tax subsidies that basically does not benefit local communities at all.  Tax money spent directly in local economies building roads, schools, and hiring employees goes in much bigger magnitude into the pockets of the local businesses.  In other words, you can subsidize Hollywood a lot, but if it’s the salary of Tom Cruise, then it’s going to not stay in New Orleans.  It leaks back to where Tom Cruise spends his money.

More than a month after Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal “parked” his widely-panned proposal to repeal the state’s income tax, state policymakers now are returning to what should be a more straightforward tax reform issue. A new report (PDF) from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor critically evaluates the workings of the state’s film tax credit, which gives Louisiana-based film productions a tax credit to offset part of their expenses when they hire Louisiana workers or spend money on production expenses locally.

From a cost perspective alone, it makes sense to take a hard look at this provision: the state has spent over $1 billion on these Hollywood handouts in the past decade.

But the Auditor’s report is also a good reminder of just how little the state is getting in return for this massive outlay. The report estimates that after doling out almost $200 million in film tax breaks in 2010, the state enjoyed just $27 million in increased tax revenue from the film-related economic activity supposedly encouraged by this tax break.

This means a net loss to the state of about $170 million in just one year.

da03a79de8d1683f4690acd420a00939So, let me go back to the purpose of the NAZI economic strategy of “Reprivatisierung”.  You can read the journal article because it’s fascinating and it’s economic history so it’s not the wonkiest of economic analysis.

Privatization of large parts of the public sector was one of the defining policies of the last quarter of the twentieth century. Most scholars have understood privatization as the transfer of government-owned firms and assets to the private sector,2 as well as the delegation to the private sector of the delivery of services previously delivered by the public sector.3 Other scholars have adopted a much broader meaning of privatization, including (besides transfer of public assets and delegation of public services) deregulation, as well as the private funding of services previously delivered without charging the users.4 In any case, modern privatization has been usually accompanied by the removal of state direction and a reliance on the free market. Thus, privatization and market liberalization have usually gone together.

Privatizations in Chile and the UK, which began to be implemented in the 1970s and 1980s, are usually considered the first privatization policies in modern history.5 A few researchers have found earlier instances. Some economic analyses of privatization identify partial sales of state-owned firms implemented in Adenauer’s Germany in the late 1950s and early 1960s as the first large-scale priva-tization programme,6 and others argue that, although confined to just one sector, the denationalization of steel in the UK in the early 1950s should be considered the first privatization.7

None of the contemporary economic analyses of privatization takes into account an important, earlier case: the privatization policy implemented by the National Socialist (Nazi) Party in Germany. Nonetheless, there were a number of studies on German privatization in the mid- and late 1930s and in the early 1940s, when many academic analyses of Nazi economic policy discussed privatization policies in Germany.8 International interest was reflected in a change in the English language: in 1936 the German term ‘reprivatisierung’, and the associated concept, were brought into English in the term ‘reprivatization’, and soon the term ‘privatization’ began to be used in the literature.9 Surprisingly, modern literature on privatization, and recent literature on the twentieth-century German economy10 and the history of Germany’s publicly owned enterprises, all ignore this early privatization experience.11 Some authors occasionally mention the privatization of banks, but offer no further comment or analysis.12 Other works mention the sale of state ownership in Nazi Germany, but only to support the idea that the Nazi government opposed widespread state ownership of firms, and no analysis of these privatizations is undertaken.13

It is a fact that the Nazi government sold off public ownership in several state-owned firms in the mid-1930s. These firms belonged to a wide range of sectors; for example, steel, mining, banking, shipyard, ship-lines, and railways.

I think you’ll find these points most interesting.donald-trump-hat

But Germany was alone in developing a policy of privatization in the mid-1930s.Therefore a central question remains: why did the Nazi regime depart from mainstream policies regarding stateownership of firms? Why did Germany’s government transfer firms to the private sector while the other western countries did not?

Answering these questions requires an analysis of the objectives of Nazi privatization. While some of the analyses carried out in the 1930s and 1940s are valuable, their authors lacked the theories, concepts, and tools that are available to us today. Recent economic literature has shown the multiplicity of objectives usually targeted by privatization policies.28 In addition, modern theoretical developments have provided valuable insights into the motives of politicians in choosing between public ownership and privatization29 and the consequences of each option on political rent seeking, through either excess employment or corruption and financial support.30 The theoretical literature has provided interesting results concerning the use of privatization to obtain political support.31

In addition, international evidence shows that financial motivations have been important in recent privatization, although the relevance of sales receipts in motivating privatization has varied over time and between countries. By providing an analysis of privatization in Nazi Germany, this article seeks to fill a gap in the economic literature. The article extensively documents the course of privatization in the period from the Nazi takeover of government until 1937.32 These limits are sensible because all of the relevant reprivatization operations had been concluded before the end of 1937. Some of the privatization operations explained in this paper have not been previously noted in the literature (the sale of state-owned shares inVereinigte Oberschleschische Hüttenwerke AG and in Hansa Dampf, both in 1937).33 Analysing Nazi privatization using modern tools and concepts allows us to conclude that the objectives pursued by the Nazi government were multiple, with their aim of increasing political support being especially noteworthy. Besides this, an additional motivation can be seen in obtaining increased revenue for the German Treasury within a context of growing financial restrictions since 1934/5, mainly because of the armament programme.

So, you can read the finer details in the article which was published in a very prestigious journal.thumbnail_3393737515206910167

I’ve given you a lot to read and think on and I know you may not be able to wade through all of it.  But, I think you’ll see that I’m beginning to document exactly what the march to Fascism in America will look like.   We’re here.

Stay vigilant and defiant.

Don’t feed the Trump-Billies.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads

Well, my computer is being quirky again so we’ll have to see how long it takes to get this up today.  I really need a new one badly but this year has just about done me in on all levels including financially.  Right now I’m on an old HP running VISTA that’s unbelievably slow.  Hopefully, the other one will come alive once it sits awhile which happens, usually. This is just another level of stress I do not need.

We keep having more mass shootings and violence. There was one here down in the nastiest part of Bourbon Street early Sunday morning. Ten people were shot with one young man dying of his injuries.

Ohio State University has just experienced another horrid attack by a Somali refugee who drove a car into a group of people then started stabbing people with a butcher knife.  This will undoubtedly get some kind of play from the white nationalists.  I’m just waiting for it.

Police confirm the suspect who drove a car into a crowd of people and began attacking them with a butcher knife on the campus of The Ohio State University is dead.

OSU president Michael Drake says the sole suspect drove a car into a group of people, got out and began to cut them with a butcher knife. A police officer arrived within a minute of the attack and shot and killed the attacker.

A police officer was on the scene within a minute and killed the assailant. “He engaged the suspect and eliminated the threat,” OSU Police Chief Craig Stone said.

NBC News reports the suspect in the attack was an 18-year-old student, a Somali refugee and legal permanent resident of the United States. The suspect’s name was not released and the motive was unknown, but officials said the attack was clearly deliberate and may have been planned in advance.

“This was done on purpose,” Stone said.

Mass murder/shooter Dylann Roof wants to defend himself against his outstanding hate crimes charges. Jury selection began in the trial with Roof representing himself.9koowjw

A federal judge has ruled that accused Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof can represent himself in his federal hate crimes trial, potentially allowing the self-avowed white supremacist to question the shooting survivors and nine victims’ family members if they are called to testify.

Roof made the last-minute request as jury selection in his death penalty trial was set to begin this morning. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel cautioned Roof against serving as his own attorney, noting his defense team’s considerable legal expertise, but ultimately granted the request. He noted that Roof has a constitutional right to represent himself.

“I do find defendant has the personal capacity to self-representation,” Gergel said. “I continue to believe it is strategically unwise, but it is a decision you have the right to make.”

Roof, garbed in a striped grey-and-white jail uniform, stood up front in the courtroom and answered the judge’s questions with “yes, sir” in a quiet, raspy voice. After Gergel’s ruling, he smiled slightly as he returned to his defense table but showed no other obvious emotion.

Roof then sat in the front-and-center seat as his lead lawyer, renowned capital defense attorney David Bruck, scooted over. Roof told the judge that he wanted the attorneys he’d just asked to be discharged sit at the table with him. They now will act as “stand-by counsel,” Gergel ruled.

At one point, Bruck stood to object to a potential juror after the court had moved on to consider others without Roof objecting. The judge admonished Bruck and told him to sit down and confer with Roof.

“Mr. Roof elected to self-represent,” Gergel said.

The first panel of 10 prospective jurors brought in Monday morning were all white and appeared to be middle-aged or older. Filling three rows in the audience, an all-black group of shooting survivors, families of the nine dead, and the pastor of Emanuel AME listened attentively with no outward reactions to news that Roof would be acting as his own attorney.

Trump supporters continue to terrorize and harass their neighbors 474c9df0fd622eea85904b4d6d4f2e0cand folks that just happen to have looks they don’t like.  We already talked about the appalling jerk on the Delta flight screaming Hillary Bitches at women passengers.  Here’s another nasty white woman harassing black store employees.

A shopper erupted in fury and claimed anti-white discrimination after she was asked to purchase a $1 reusable bag at a Chicago-area arts and crafts store.

Another customer began recording when she overheard the woman insulting the store’s black employees and shouting about Donald Trump, reported Patch.

“I voted for Trump — so there,” the woman shouted. “You want to kick me out for that? And look who won.”

The angry shopper claimed she had been discriminated against because she was white and had voted for Trump in the lengthy rant recorded Wednesday at Michael’s in the city’s Lakeview neighborhood.

The woman, who has not been identified, noticed other customers had pulled out their phones to record her harangue, which witnesses said went on for more than a half hour, and she angrily confronted the woman whose video went viral.

“I don’t know what you think you’re videoing, lady,” the woman says. “I was just discriminated against by two black women, and you being a white woman, you’re literally thinking that that’s okay? You standing there with your baby thinking that’s okay.”

The angry shopper accuses the other woman’s 2-year-old child of stealing and then records video of the mother and child before turning her wrath back on the store’s employees.

“You’re a liar, I don’t care, because I’m a consumer,” she shouts at an employee. “I’m a customer.”

The video is the latest in a series of white people justifying their obnoxious behavior and demanding special treatment because they voted for Trump.

 We continue to hear horrifying news about how central white nationalism will be to Trump Policies.  Cities are already deciding how to fight the policies that will punish them for their sanctuary status.  It appears both Trump and Bannon share the idea of white genetic superiority.  We’re beginning to see the tough struggles and fights that will beleaguer the country as Republicans try to trample the civil rights of so many of us.

 


Friday Reads: Civics Lessons and Incivility Lesions

15181396_10154223074153512_5973622696062594233_nWell, it just keeps getting stranger and stranger …

It does feel like we’ve fallen down a rabbit hole of sorts.  Let me sort out some of the stranger headlines for you.

Lawrence Lessig–one of the most brilliant legal minds we have today–suggests we let the electoral college actually choose the winner of the Presidential election.  He argues that this is what Hamilton had in mind when he and other framers of the US Constitution designed the Electoral College.  Will any of the Electors listen?

Conventional wisdom tells us that the electoral college requires that the person who lost the popular vote this year must nonetheless become our president. That view is an insult to our framers. It is compelled by nothing in our Constitution. It should be rejected by anyone with any understanding of our democratic traditions  — most important, the electors themselves.

The framers believed, as Alexander Hamilton put it, that “the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the [president].” But no nation had ever tried that idea before. So the framers created a safety valve on the people’s choice. Like a judge reviewing a jury verdict, where the people voted, the electoral college was intended to confirm — or not — the people’s choice. Electors were to apply, in Hamilton’s words, “a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice” — and then decide. The Constitution says nothing about “winner take all.” It says nothing to suggest that electors’ freedom should be constrained in any way. Instead, their wisdom — about whether to overrule “the people” or not — was to be free of political control yet guided by democratic values. They were to be citizens exercising judgment,  not cogs turning a wheel.

Many think we should abolish the electoral college. I’m not convinced that we should. Properly understood, the electors can serve an important function. What if the people elect a Manchurian candidate? Or a child rapist? What if evidence of massive fraud pervades a close election? It is a useful thing to have a body confirm the results of a democratic election — so long as that body exercises its power reflectively and conservatively. Rarely — if ever — should it veto the people’s choice. And if it does, it needs a very good reason.

So, do the electors in 2016 have such a reason?

57b768688eaf3_thumb900Jill Stein continues her fundraising and path to recount and challenge three key swing states with a variety of statistical anomalies in a year where it was obvious the Russians wanted to hack and influence the results.  Stein has raised over $4.5 million dollars. 

Jill Stein, the Green party’s presidential candidate, is preparing to request recounts of the election result in several key battleground states.

Stein launched an online fundraising page seeking donations toward a multimillion-dollar fund she said was needed to request reviews of the results in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The fundraising page said it expected to need around $6m-7m to challenge the results in all three states.

Stein said she was acting due to “compelling evidence of voting anomalies” and that data analysis had indicated “significant discrepancies in vote totals” that were released by state authorities.

“These concerns need to be investigated before the 2016 presidential election is certified,” she said in a statement. “We deserve elections we can trust.”

Stein’s move came amid growing calls for recounts or audits of the election results by groups of academics and activists concerned that foreign hackers may have interfered with election systems. The concerned groups have been urging Hillary Clinton, the defeated Democratic nominee, to join their cause.

Donald Trump won unexpected and narrow victories against Clinton in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin earlier this month and may yet win Michigan, where a final result has not yet been declared.

I am hoping but not hopeful.  There’s evidence that “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say.”wdblair02

The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.

Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.

Two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House. The sophistication of the Russian tactics may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on “fake news,” as they have vowed to do after widespread complaints about the problem.

There is no way to know whether the Russian campaign proved decisive in electing Trump, but researchers portray it as part of a broadly effective strategy of sowing distrust in U.S. democracy and its leaders. The tactics included penetrating the computers of election officials in several states and releasing troves of hacked emails that embarrassed Clinton in the final months of her campaign.

“They want to essentially erode faith in the U.S. government or U.S. government interests,” said Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute who along with two other researchers has tracked Russian propaganda since 2014. “This was their standard mode during the Cold War. The problem is that this was hard to do before social media.”

images-1The Trumpanzee Center for Orwellian Cabinet appointments demands an apology from Mitt Romney. Criticizing the Orange Apeman is simply not allowed.

Fox News is reporting that Donald Trump’s transition team wants Mitt Romney to publicly apologize for railing against the president-elect during the campaign.

A transition official told Fox’s Ed Henry that some in Trump’s inner circle want the former Massachusetts governor to apologize in order to be seriously considered for the secretary of State.

Trump is reportedly considering whether to pick Romney or former New York City Mayor Rudy Giulianifor the coveted cabinet position.

Giuliani is the preferred choice of Trump’s loyalists and grassroots supporters, while Romney is a favorite of establishment conservatives.

downloadMount Doom is about to become the White House if we can’t stop the Orange Apeman from taking the oath of office.  It will cost us millions and millions of dollars …  It also means that Federal Taxpayer money will go directly to the Trump Family Kleptocracy.

The Secret Service is in negotiations with the Trump Organization to take over two vacant floors in the gilded 68-story Fifth Avenue tower, law enforcement sources told The Post.

The federal agency and the NYPD plan to run a 24/7 command post out of the space that would be housed at least 40 floors below Trump’s $90 million penthouse triplex, where wife Melania and their 10-year-old son Barron will continue to reside at least through the spring, sources said.

The first 26 floors of the glass-clad skyscraper are commercial tenants while the remaining levels are luxury apartments.

But several commercial floors are currently vacant, sources said. The Secret Service is eyeing two contiguous floors for over 250 agents and cops, sources said.

The Secret Service must protect the president and his family wherever they go, including visits back to their permanent homes.

Meanwhile in the furtherance of destroying public education, we have Cruella DeVile being put up as Secretary of Education.  Betsy DeVile is best known as a full fledged member of the American Extremist Christoban Terrorist cult.f7e1920068be37a817b03b9e0b85c3af

The DeVoses are top contributors to the Republican Party and have provided the funding for major Religious Right organizations. And they spent millions of their own fortune promoting the failed voucher initiative in Michigan in 2000, dramatically outspending their opposition. Sixty-eight percent of Michigan voters rejected the voucher scheme. Following this defeat, the DeVoses altered their strategy.

Instead of taking the issue directly to voters, they would support bills for vouchers in state legislatures. In 2002 Dick DeVos gave a speech on school choice at the Heritage Foundation. After an introduction by former Reagan Secretary of Education William Bennett, DeVos described a system of “rewards and consequences” to pressure state politicians to support vouchers. “That has got to be the battle. It will not be as visible,” stated DeVos. He described how his wife Betsy was putting these ideas into practice in their home state of Michigan and claimed this effort has reduced the number of anti-school choice Republicans from six to two. The millions raised from the wealthy pro-privatization contributors would be used to finance campaigns of voucher supporters and purchase ads attacking opposing candidates.

15109483_10209112500944357_4788014655250467682_nAnd the kleptocracy continues as “Steve Bannon’s data firm in talks for lucrative White House contracts:  Cambridge Analytica is backed by Robert Mercer, whose daughter is on the Trump transition team, while Trump’s soon-to-be chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is on the board”. Republicans aren’t so found of balanced budgets know that the funds are streaming into their billionaire donors’ nasty pocketses.

The data company that helped push Donald Trump to victory is now hoping it will win two lucrative contracts to boost White House policy messaging and to expand sales for the Trump Organization.

Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm that uses personality profiling, claims Steve Bannon as a board member, who will soon officially be Mr Trump’s chief strategist.

The firm is backed by billionaire investor Robert Mercer, whose daughter Rebekah sits on the 16-person Trump transition team.

The news casts further shade over the president-elect’s potential conflicts of interest, after a group of Indian businessmen came to Trump Tower this week and the revelation that Mr Trump’s children, who have sat in on meetings with world leaders, would run his “blind trust”. He has faced increasing calls to divest from his business assets to avoid further conflicts.

The Republican National Committee would have to approve any deals with Cambridge Analytica as it normally pays for White House communication consultants.

Yes folks, the Trump Kleptocracy is resplendent with obvious conflicts of interest.gollum-the-hobbit

In a blatant conflict of interest, President-elect Donald Trump’s new Washington, D.C. hotel is marketing rooms to foreign diplomats looking to curry favor with his incoming administration.

The Washington Post reports that the Trump International Hotel — in the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue that the president-elect’s company leases from the federal government — staged a reception for the diplomatic community on Tuesday, one week after the election.

Several diplomats who attended the reception told the Post that spending money at the hotel is “an easy, friendly gesture to the new president.”

“Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House, so I can tell the new president, ‘I love your new hotel!’” one Asian diplomat said. “Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?’”

The arrangement violates no ethics laws because the president is exempt from rules barring federal employees from profiting from their positions.

He’s basically going to be impeachable from DAY ONE.542385435ebe363f9eef4016a0f3f197

But he said that the answer would be different if a foreign government sought to make a payment to a sitting president. In a footnote, Mr. Barron added, “Corporations owned or controlled by a foreign government are presumptively foreign states under the Emoluments Clause.”

Mr. Trump’s companies do business with entities controlled by foreign governments and people with ties to them. The ventures include multimillion-dollar real estate arrangements — with Mr. Trump’s companies either as a full owner or a “branding” partner — in Ireland and Uruguay. The Bank of China is a tenant in Trump Tower and a lender for another building in Midtown Manhattan where Mr. Trump has a significant partnership interest.

Experts in legal ethics say those kinds of arrangements could easily run afoul of the Emoluments Clause if they continue after Mr. Trump takes office. “The founders very clearly intended that officers of the United States, including the president, not accept presents from foreign sovereigns,” said Norman Eisen, who was the chief White House ethics lawyer for Mr. Obama from 2009 to 2011.

We’re so completely fucked that there will never be enough lubricant to help us.

I continue to be despondent here in the land of swamps.  Enjoy the last days of the Republic.  We’ll be struggling to keep it from here on out.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: There must be No New Normal

children-in-yellow-starsWe must fight all efforts to normalize a Trumpified America and a press that tries to normalize right wing hate groups and the behavior of a leader with a Personality Disorder. There are too many people in this country whose lives will be getting appreciably worse.  There is already an explosion in the number of hate crimes.  If you cannot be a fighter then be an active witness to all of this and maintain the position that this is unique and in no way normal then speak your mind and values.


>TL Noelle feeling overwhelmed.
November 17 at 4:44pm ·

 

Driving for Uber in Murfreesboro and got a call for a pick up at MTSU. Once I got there, I saw 3 guys hovering threateningly over a young woman wearing a hijab. I called my rider and saw the woman check her phone and answer it, and through the phone and my window I heard one of the guys yell, “Don’t answer your phone when we’re trying to talk to you, didn’t anyone teach you manners over there?”
I was instantly filled with some crazy, angry adrenaline and thought, “I need to get her home safely.” I turned off the car, and got out, clutching the can of mace on my keychain tightly. I used the woman’s name to greet her. She looked up as I asked how she was, making a joke about how she seemed to be hanging out with the wrong crowd. One of the guys stepped forward and started to say I should turn around – I continued to walk towards the young woman and talk to her while raising my hand with the can of mace and very deliberately turned off the safety. The guy stepped away from me, and I put my arm around the woman and walked with her towards the car. I helped her in and then got in and drove down the road a ways where I pulled over to ask the young woman if she needed anything, and to allow myself to stop shaking.
The young woman was speechless most of the ride home but she got there safely, and I gave her my card in case she felt unsafe calling an Uber again some evening. I’m overwhelmed that I witnessed that happening and handled it that well… but I’m done with racism in this country. I will never not speak up.


We still haven not seen the President Elect’s taxes.  What sort’ve fresh hell do they contain?  We also know that he has not stopped conducting his personal business and that he is actively meeting with people that are funneling money to him from foreign countries.  Don the Con is continuing to enrich himself with taxpayer money.

President-elect Donald Trump reportedly met this week at Trump Tower with three Indian business partners, raising fresh questions about a separation between the Trump’s business and future work in the White House.

Trump’s children, who are part of his presidential transition team, also attended the meeting with Atul Chordia, Sagar Chordia and Kalpesh Mehta, according to India’s Economic Times.

The business partners are building a Trump-branded luxury apartment complex south of Mumbai. A picture of Trump standing alongside the men while giving a thumbs up was posted on Twitter earlier this week.

The meeting comes as Trump vowed to hand off his business to his three adult children in a blind trust to avoid potential conflicts of interest while serving in the Oval Office.

A spokeswoman for Trump told The New York Times that the three Indian real estate executives flew from India to congratulate Trump.

“It was not a formal meeting of any kind,” said Breanna Butler, a Trump Organization spokeswoman.

Butler and Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump, declined to comment when asked by the Times if the meeting included any discussion of Trump businesses in India or expanding that business.

But Donald Trump Jr. showed interest in expanding the business further in India, Mehta told the Economic Times.

A former deputy editor at GQ India told the Times that he hosted an event at Sagar Chordia’s hotel during the presidential campaign, saying the Indian businessman expressed “elation” about the opportunities Trump’s candidacy could bring.

This meeting with real estate developers from India is most definitely a conflict of interest.

According to a report from The New York Times on Saturday, Trump met with Sagar Chordia, Atul Chordia and Kalpesh Mehta on Tuesday in Trump Tower. The three men have said in the past that they wished to expand their business relationship with the Trump Organization now that Trump has been elected run the country. Sagar Chordia confirmed by text message with The New York Times the accuracy of an Indian newspaper report saying the meeting had indeed been about expanding deals with Trump’s businesses.

Breanna Butler, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, has defended the incident on the grounds that “it was not a formal meeting of any kind.”

If the meeting had been legitimate, of course, one must question why it wasn’t formally announced by the Trump transition team at the time that it happened — especially considering the flak Trump has received for inefficiency in arranging meetings with foreign leaders.

This isn’t the first time Trump has been accused of cultivating his business relationships in inappropriate ways since being elected. As The Washington Post reported on Sunday, Trump has business operations in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, and a number of other countries, and has refused to either sell his business interests or give them to a so-called “blind trust” during his administration, as other presidents have done with their business ties in the past.

We face a presidency with enormous consequences for every one of us.  The conflict of interests between Trump’s businesses and the public interest of the USA is enormous.  We cannot ignore this.  We can not let the press or any one else normalize this.195897_5_

The Washington Post, meanwhile, reports that foreign diplomats are booking rooms at Trump’s hotel in D.C., hoping to curry favor with the president-elect. The same paper reports today on the dangers associated with Trump’s “vast assortment of foreign business interests never before seen in past presidencies,” creating conditions that “could open him to foreign influence and tilt his decision-making as America’s executive in chief.”

The Post added that some of the potentially problematic deals are relatively new: during his presidential candidacy, Trump launched eight business deals “that appear tied to a potential hotel project in Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich Arab kingdom that Trump has said he ‘would want to protect.’”

And remember, Trump has no intention, at least not yet, of creating a blind trust for his investments and private-sector enterprises.

The Huffington Post had a good summary on the scope of the problem.

No president has ever held a fortune that spans the globe. He has licensed his name to buildings in far-flung countries, including Azerbaijan, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and Turkey. Some are allies, some are ruled by autocratic dictatorships and some are at odds with American interests. Further, he owes hundreds of millions of dollars each to the government-owned Bank of China and the privately owned Deutsche Bank. The Trump Organization has plans to continue to expand the company around the globe during its namesake’s presidential administration.

Not only do these foreign holdings, debts and future deals present imminent conflicts of interest for American foreign policy, but they also create an immediate constitutional concern. The U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause states that no government official shall receive favorable payment from a foreign government, foreign government-owned company or foreign official without the consent of Congress. It is, in essence, an anti-bribery clause preventing foreign corruption.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who’ll serve as Trump’s chief of staff, insisted yesterday that the White House counsel’s office will “make sure” everything’s kosher. It wasn’t reassuring: Priebus didn’t explain exactly what steps the counsel’s office would/could take, and it doesn’t help address some of the ongoing questions arising now, during the transition process.

plazademayoThere’s no indication that Republicans are going to deal with this dangerous situation.

This morning, The Post published an ambitious effort to gauge the full scope of that business empire and the potential for conflicts it creates. The story concludes: “At least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries and territories across South America, Asia and the Middle East.” Included in this are deals that were launched during Trump’s candidacy that are tied to a hotel project in Saudi Arabia, which Trump has vowed to protect militarily.

Governmental ethics experts believe all of this creates the potential for a variety of conflicts of interest. Trump has said he is turning his empire over to his children. But this doesn’t eliminate the potential problems here. Government policies, both domestic and foreign, could still impact his family’s holdings. Foreign governments or foreign companies controlled by foreign governments could still do business with Trump entities on terms favorable to the latter in an effort to curry favor with the new administration. One can even envision domestic businesses doing the same, in an effort to ensure against policies that run counter to their interests.

TPM documents that Don the Con is cashing in hugely in Argentina.

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo protest by their familiy disappeared, during the March by the life (Marcha por la Vida) against the Argentine military dictatorship that governed the country between 1976 and 1983. October, 5, 1982. Photo: Eduardo Longoni

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo protest by their familiy disappeared, during the March by the life (Marcha por la Vida) against the Argentine military dictatorship that governed the country between 1976 and 1983. October, 5, 1982.
Photo: Eduardo Longoni

For a number of years, Trump and his Argentine partners have been trying to build a major office building in Buenos Aires. The project has been held up by a series of complications tied to financing, importation of building materials and various permitting requirements.

According to a report out of Argentina, when Argentine President Mauricio Macri called President-Elect Trump to congratulate him on his election, Trump asked Macri to deal with the permitting issues that are currently holding up the project.

This comes from one of Argentina’s most prominent journalists, Jorge Lanata, in a recent TV appearance. Lanata is quoted here in La Nacion, one of Argentina’s most prestigious dailies. Said Lanata: “Macri called him. This still hasn’t emerged but Trump asked for them to authorize a building he’s constructing in Buenos Aires, it wasn’t just a geopolitical chat.”

(For Spanish speakers, here’s the original Spanish we’ve translated: “Macri llo llamó. Todavía no se contó pero Trump le pidió que autorizaran un edificio que él está construyendo en Buenos Aires, no fue solo una charla geo política.”)

Separately, Trump’s business partner on the project, Felipe Yaryura, was there on election night at the Trump celebration in New York City.

Why aren’t we hearing about this in the American press?

article-2600294-1cf3c9f700000578-923_634x423Indeed, why not?  We’re too busy picking on the cast of Hamilton.  Top network execs and anchors will be meeting with Don the Con on Monday.   This was arranged by the harpy of lies, campaign mommy.

Meanwhile, the real support of the Trump movement met in a neo-Nazi, KKK extravaganza. The press are conveniently calling the Heil Victory folks their preferred label of Alt-right.  This is another thing we cannot normalize.  We cannot normalize the Trump Reality. 

What if the push against “normalizing” the potential horrors of a Trump administration ends up making the actual administration seem better by comparison?

In the 10 days since Donald Trump was elected to the presidency, critics — liberal and conservative alike — of Donald Trump and his inner circle have warned that his presidency will violate, undermine, and permanently weaken democratic norms. Comparisons have been made to the rise of Putinist autocracy in Russia (here at Vox and elsewhere), to the slow descent of Turkey into authoritarianism under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to Nazi Germany.

People fret that the Trump administration will crack down on a free press; that it will only serve to enrich itself; that it will try to keep itself in power indefinitely. You’ve probably seen warnings that we shouldn’t even assume there will be another presidential election in 2020, because President Trump might have found a way to suspend or amend the Constitution by then.

Given everything that’s happened this year — including what the past two weeks have revealed about the Trump administration-in-waiting — it’s hard to say that planning for the worst-case scenario is irrational. The people most alarmist have, generally, been the most correct. (One notable exception: There was violence at neither the Republican National Convention nor on Election Day.)

But what if the reality of the Trump administration turns out to be not quite the worst-case scenario? What if it is simply very bad in less unprecedented ways? Won’t that seem, by comparison, normal?

This is the real danger of a fight against “normalization” that assumes that the country is being drawn inevitably down the road to authoritarianism: The Trump administration could take another path and go unnoticed.

Donald Trump probably won’t cancel elections, but he could — and is relatively likely to — oversee a sweeping rollback of voting rights. His administration may not throw journalists in jail, but it could easily step up surveillance of domestic protesters. His appointees may not entrench a permanent oligarchy, but it could still — for millions of people in America — reduce the willingness and ability to participate in public life to zero.

sauron_eye_barad_durI have no doubt that I will be upset, depressed, angry, and despondent for quite some time.  I will not accept this as the new normal me. None of this is normal.  It’s what happens with something very dark takes over your country.

Meanwhile, the taxpayer will be footing a tremendous bill for the first family’s refusal to act like the first family.  Melania will not move to the White House.  Don the Con will spend most of his time in the Mount Doom which will have to be up-armored and blockaded a lot.  There have been rumors that Baron is autistic and this might be the reason she doesn’t want him moved from his home in the Tower of Sauron.

The decision to remain in their Midtown home will increase the security presence around Trump Tower — an effort that will involve both Secret Service and the NYPD, an expert familiar with high-level security told The Post.

“That building is going to become the White House of New York,” said Jim Reese, a former Delta Force commander and president of TigerSwan, a global security company based in North Carolina.

Here’s a rumor mill if you’re interested in the speculation which is just speculation.  It would be somewhat interesting that Trump felt so free to mock disabled people while having a son that could, himself, be disabled.  It would also explain some of Don the Con’s fascination with the Anti-Vaxxers but that’s probably another thing that wouldn’t be disclosed.  Just add to the pile of things that we’ll never know about the person who will be in the position to strip us of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I will resist. I will witness.  I will fight.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: “Something wicked this way comes …”

rosaparksWelcome to the start of an Orwellian Dystopia.   Will the Vichy Democrats enable the demise of Civil Rights?  How many of us will stand up to defend our Bill of Rights?

A man deemed “too racist” to be a Federal judge by a judiciary committee led by Senate Republicans during the Reagan years has just been nominated to the be the nation’s head enforcer of Civil Rights law.  Jeff Sessions “once joked that he only took issue with the KKK’s drug use and referred to civil rights groups as “un-American.”

The man who President-elect Donald Trump will nominate as the 84th attorney general of the United States was once rejected as a federal judge over allegations he called a black attorney “boy,” suggested a white lawyer working for black clients was a race traitor, joked that the only issue he had with the Ku Klux Klan was their drug use, and referred to civil rights groups as “un-American” organizations trying to “force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), an early Trump supporter who has been playing a major role on the Trump transition team, met with the president-elect in New York on Thursday. In a statement, the Trump team said the president-elect was “unbelievably impressed” with Sessions.

On Friday morning, Trump and Sessions confirmed that Sessions had been offered the attorney general position.

J. Gerald Hebert remembers Sessions’ time as the top federal prosecutor in Mobile, Alabama, well. Speaking to The Huffington Post earlier this month, Hebert said he was stunned that an Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a possibility.

More than three decades ago, Hebert was in his 30s and working on voting rights cases for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. He was based in D.C. but spent time in Alabama working with Sessions, who was a U.S. attorney in Ronald Reagan’s administration.

“He was very affable, always wanting to have a conversation, a cup of coffee,” Hebert said. “Over the course of those months, I had a number of conversations with him, and in a number of those conversations he made remarks that were deeply concerning.”

After Sessions was nominated to be a federal judge in 1986, Hebert appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about these remarks. It was unusual for a career DOJ lawyer to testify about a judicial nominee’s character, and Hebert said at the time that he did so with “very mixed feelings,” telling senators he considered Sessions “a friend.” Hebert told them Sessions had “a tendency to pop off” and that he was “not a very sensitive person when it comes to race relations.”

HuffPost reviewed a transcript of the Sessions’ 1986 confirmation hearings. In this selection, Hebert testified that he had once relayed comments about a white lawyer being described as a race traitor, and that Sessions had responded by saying “he probably is” …

The ADL CEO has announced he will register as Muslim if such a registry–as promised by the future Trump Administration–is enacted. Many Jewish Americans are concerned with the threat of laws that remind them of Europe’s awful past.

The head of an organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism says he will register as a Muslim should President-elect Donald Trump create a national database for the religion’s followers.

“The new administration plans to force Muslims to register on some master list,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told listeners at the group’s Never is Now Conference in New York Thursday, according to Haaretz. “As Jews we know what it means to be forced to register.

“I pledge to you that because I am committed to the fight against anti-Semitism that if one day Muslim-Americans are forced to register their identities, that is the day this proud Jew will register as Muslim. Making powerful enemies is the price one must pay, at times, for speaking truth to power.”

Trump supporters have floated a registry of Muslim immigrants as part of efforts to combat radical Islamic terrorism, but officials with his transition team have denied any such plans.

Greenblatt added Americans must reject all forms of discrimination regardless of which minority group it targets.

“No one has an excuse for excusing intolerance. We must stand with our fellow Americans who may be singled out for how they look, where they’re from, who they love or how they pray,” he said

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), an immigration hard-liner who has been advising Trump, said Wednesday that transition policy advisers were debating the merits of such a database.

54b9cf2c2d491021bcd18545c350d236Many Holocaust survivors are as traumatized by this election as sexual assault survivors and victims of abuse.

The dramatic increase in anti-Semitism and hate crimes since Election Day is a horrifying flashback for veteran Jewish Americans.

“It’s a very traumatic time for survivors and their families,” said Eva Fogelman, PhD, a New York-based, licensed psychologist and a pioneer in the field of Holocaust survivor post-traumatic stress disorder.
“There’s been a definite spike in anxiety among survivors in the past week,” Fogelman added. “They witness hate speech and anti-Semitic symbols from their childhood follow them here, and it triggers a relapse in their trauma. One of my patients said, ‘I lived through one Hitler, I don’t want to live through another.’”

Though sleeplessness and nightmares about their wartime experiences are the most common symptoms, intense fear of leaving and losing one’s home is another.

Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, an Army veteran, will become Trump’s CIA director if confirmed by the Senate. He is a Tea Partier. f684ad067c151f22742c0315c1fbaa09

He’s a supporter of the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk data collection program and sought to restore the agency’s access to the data it had already collected under the Patriot Act from its inception through late last year.

Pompeo is also one of the most vocal critics of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Pompeo, who grew up in the traditionally Republican enclave of Orange County, California, founded Thayer Aerospace, a company that made parts for commercial and military aircraft. After selling Thayer, he became president of Sentry International, a company that manufactures and sells equipment used in oil fields.

He was elected to Congress in 2010 on a wave of tea party support and with backing from the Koch Industries political action committee. The Wichita-based conglomerate’s PAC is well known for its support of conservative candidates.

Though Pompeo is generally known for his opposition to Obama administration policies, he’s occasionally given heat to some fellow Republicans. Last year, his name was floated as a potential rival to Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to become House speaker.

Trump’s choice for NSA is a horrifying pick also. He’s got contacts with US enemy states.

But Flynn has also shown an erratic streak since leaving government that is likely to make his elevation disconcerting even to the flag officers and senior intelligence officials who once considered him a peer.

Flynn stunned former colleagues when he traveled to Moscow last year to appear alongside Russian President Vladi­mir Putin at a lavish gala for the Kremlin-run propaganda channel RT, a trip Flynn admitted he was paid to make and defended by saying he saw no distinction between RT and U.S. news channels such as CNN.

Flynn said he used the trip to press Putin’s government to behave more responsibly in international affairs. Former U.S. officials said Flynn, seen dining next to Putin in photos published by Russian propaganda outlets, was used as a prop by the autocratic leader.

Flynn was forced out of his job as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 over concerns about his leadership style. After the ouster, he frequently lashed out in public against President Obama and blamed his removal on the administration’s discomfort with his hard-line views on radical Islam.

Spurning the decorum traditionally expected of retired U.S. flag officers, Flynn became a fervent campaigner for Trump and was given a high-profile role speaking before the GOP convention, an appearance in which he led the crowd in “lock her up” chants against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Flynn’s behavior drew the ire of former colleagues and superiors, including retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who made Flynn his top intelligence officer during critical stretches of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I’m trying to regain my nerve to fight all this but I feel like I’m getting way too old to do 7f65ea6e2fa9400b39db2d99dccf2557-1much good.  However, if Paul Ryan has his way, I will likely be on the ice floes.

Here’s some advice from Sarah Kendzior who has:

…. studied authoritarian states for over a decade, I would never exaggerate the severity of the threat we now face. But an American kleptocracy is exactly where president-elect Trump and his backers are taking us. That’s why I have a favor to ask you, my fellow Americans.

We’re heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump.

She has many suggestions but this was the most poignant. I think we must hold on to our values and be prepared to defend them.

That voice is your conscience, your morals, your individuality. No one can take that from you unless you let them. They can take everything from you in material terms – your house, your job, your ability to speak and move freely. They cannot take away who you truly are. They can never truly know you, and that is your power.

But to protect and wield this power, you need to know yourself – right now, before their methods permeate, before you accept the obscene and unthinkable as normal.

My heart breaks for the United States of America. It breaks for those who think they are my enemies as much as it does for my friends. You still have your freedom, so use it. There are many groups organizing for both resistance and subsistence, but we are heading into dark times, and you need to be your own light. Do not accept brutality and cruelty as normal even if it is sanctioned. Protect the vulnerable and encourage the afraid. If you are brave, stand up for others. If you cannot be brave – and it is often hard to be brave – be kind.

But most of all, never lose sight of who you are and what you value.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads

6367822Well, I’m not sure what to say … still …

The first bad news is that Steven Bannon is the new Karl Rove. There will be a white nationalist who hates women in charge of policy strategy. This is from a petition at SPLC. Please consider signing it.

Bannon presided over a news empire where he, according to former staffers, ”aggressively pushed stories against immigrants, and supported linking minorities to terrorism and crime.”

“We’re the platform for the alt-right,” Bannon said in July, using a term that is really just a rebranding of traditional white nationalism.

Under Bannon, Breitbart published a call to “hoist [the Confederate flag] high and fly it with pride” only two weeks after the Charleston massacre when the country was still reeling from the horrors of the murders.

Under Bannon, Breitbart published an extremist anti-Muslim tract where the author wrote that “rape culture” is “integral” to Islam.

Worse perhaps, Bannon personally insinuated that African Americans are “naturally aggressive and violent.”

6179cdcc09b92d94eccbceb1d10d34aaThe second bit is that Lamar White, Jr. is likely right that media theorist Neil Postman who wrote Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business was astoundingly prescient. Has America “amused itself to death”? The media played right into proving Postman’s hypothesis imho.

From the moment he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015, bizarrely gliding down the escalator of his eponymous tower, America was hooked.

It didn’t matter how absurd he behaved or who he insulted; that was part of the fun, and instead of marginalizing him, it became a justification for the media to focus on him even more. He became must-see TV, not because he said anything substantive or even remotely realistic about domestic or foreign policy. In fact, he made it repeatedly clear that he had very little idea what he was talking about. According to non-partisan fact-checking organizations, more than 70% of what he said on the campaign trail was either mostly false or completely false. He lied far more often than he told the truth.

No, he became must-see TV, because like any good salesman and showman, Donald Trump understood his audience. He spoke in vague platitudes and pitched a slogan- “Make America Great Again”- that could fill in for an answer on any question. He surrounded himself with media professionals. His son-in-law owns The New York Observer, a paper that was more than happy to publish thinly-sourced gossip about his opponent as if it was gospel truth. He counted Sean Hannity, the conservative talk show radio host and FOX News celebrity, as a top adviser, along with Roger Ailes, the Republican political operative who built FOX News into a media empire before being forced to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment. And he hired Steve Bannon, the anti-Semitic editor of the popular conservative news website Breitbart, as his campaign’s chief executive.

In the immediate aftermath of his stunning victory, which shocked even Trump himself and which practically no one had predicted, there was a tendency to believe that Trump’s message of “economic populism” was the critical key to his success. He flipped enough working-class white voters in the Rust Belt because his message resonated with them.

This, I’m afraid, gives far too much credit to what truly motivated those voters, because Trump, despite all of his bluster about renegotiating trade deals and being the only person on the planet that could solve America’s problems, never had a serious plan to help the working class. His message was not about “economic populism;” it was about nativist resentment. It was not about inspiring “the forgotten man and woman,” as he suggested shortly after winning the presidency; it was about stoking their anger: Mexicans are illegally depriving you of a job; the Chinese are ripping us off; Muslims are terrorizing us; African-Americans are disrespecting “law and order” by protesting against police brutality; a global cabal of financiers are secretly conspiring to plunder our wealth (you shouldn’t need a history degree to figure out what that was about).

These Rust Belt voters, who determined the election despite the fact that Hillary Clinton is expected to win nationwide by at least 2 million votes, weren’t parsing through detailed policy papers from both candidates; they weren’t reading the objective economic analysis about the ways in which Clinton’s plans would add 10 million jobs to the workforce while Trump’s would result in a loss of 3 million jobs.

Please read the entire essay. You’ll be glad did.maxresdefault

Amanda Marcotte–writing for Salon–says “Yes, the white male anger that fueled Trump’s victory was real — but it isn’t valid.”

The anger that Donald Trump voters feel is very real. You don’t fling a proto-fascist pussy-grabbing monstrosity into the White House unless you really want to convey that fuck-you sentiment.

Because this anger is so real and so palpable, there’s been an unfortunate tendency in much of the media to assume that this anger must also be valid. The entire election cycle was a clusterfuck of articles demanding empathy for Trump voters, insisting that their rage must have some rational rootsperhaps economic insecurity?

The persistence of the “economic insecurity” angle in the face of overwhelming evidence against it was a testament to the power of hope over reason. If economic insecurity drives this rage, then something can be done about it. But if the rage is driven by less savory factors — unrepentant sexism and racism — then there is no way to mollify it without throwing women and people of color under the bus. It is also not for nothing that most “economic insecurity” theorists were themselves white men, perhaps eager for a narrative that makes people who look like them seem a little more sympathetic.

But wishing doesn’t make something true, or we’d be chatting about a President-elect Hillary Clinton today.

No doubt Trump supporters are people who felt they’ve lost something. But what they’ve lost is something that wasn’t rightly theirs to begin with: Unearned privilege. The Trump revolution was driven by white men who are watching women and people of color making gains that put them closer to equality. They are rebelling at the erosion of the sense that white men are better and more important than everyone else, simply because they exist.

enhanced-14774-1392074209-28Rebecca Solnit at The Guardian writes: “Don’t call Clinton a weak candidate: it took decades of scheming to beat her.”

Sometimes I think I have never seen anything as strong as Hillary Clinton. That doesn’t mean that I like and admire everything about her. I’m not here to argue about who she is, just to note what she did. I watched her plow through opposition and attacks the like of which no other candidate has ever faced and still win the popular vote. To defeat her it took an unholy cabal far beyond what Barack Obama faced when he was the campaign of change, swimming with the tide of disgust about the Bush administration. As the New York Times reported, “By the time all the ballots are counted, she seems likely to be ahead by more than 2m votes and more than 1.5 percentage points. She will have won by a wider percentage margin than not only Al Gore in 2000 but also Richard Nixon in 1968 and John F Kennedy in 1960.”

You can flip that and see that Trump was such a weak candidate it took decades of scheming and an extraordinary international roster of powerful players to lay the groundwork that made his election possible. Defeating Clinton in the electoral college took the 2013 gutting of the Voting Rights Act by Republican appointees to the supreme court. It took vast Republican voter suppression laws and tactics set in place over many years. It took voter intimidation at many polling places. It took the long Republican campaign to blow up the boring bureaucratic irregularity of Clinton’s use of a private email server into a scandal that the media obediently picked up and reheated.

Kurt Eichenwald continues to be a voice worthy hearing.  His Newsweek headline reads: “THE MYTHS DEMOCRATS SWALLOWED THAT COST THEM THE PRESIDENTIAL zt1_maya_angelou_quote_mELECTION.”

A certain kind of liberal makes me sick. These people traffic in false equivalencies, always pretending that both nominees are the same, justifying their apathy and not voting or preening about their narcissistic purity as they cast their ballot for a person they know cannot win. I have no problem with anyone who voted for Trump, because they wanted a Trump presidency. I have an enormous problem with anyone who voted for Trump or Stein or Johnson—or who didn’t vote at all—and who now expresses horror about the outcome of this election.  If you don’t like the consequences of your own actions, shut the hell up.

So, I could post dozens of links about stuff here but I think it’s best you share what resonates with you today.   Meanwhile, just let a little bit of Maya’s wisdom wash all over you!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Veteran’s Day Friday

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It’s Veterans Day.

Many of us have family who fought against fascism and white nationalism back in the day. I’m sure none of them thought it possible for a man brandishing these viewpoints and values to be headed to the White House. I’m not sure what the Greatest Generation would say to us about undoing all their sacrifice and by putting a man as President whose idea of sacrifice is taking his Daddy’s money and building stuff but I’m sure it wouldn’t be particularly flattering. We’re about to see the Constitution challenged in way that hasn’t occurred since the Civil War. Prepare for a war in the courts.

This is my daddy who I sorely miss. He’s been gone just over two years now. He was a Vet of WW2. He served in the US Army Air Corps and once his squadron was led by Captain Jimmy Stewart. Imagine hearing that voice over your com! Remember all those movies and bond drives to make sure that Europe was free from Fascism and that we would never see them here?

Daddy was a bombardier who flew out of Ipswich in England. He bombed targets between Belgium and Germany so Allied forces could advance into Berlin. He was on many missions where few planes returned to England. He was my hero on many levels.
My father fought fascism.  I’m glad in some way that he didn’t live to see a Fascist in the White House. He knew first hand the cost of white nationalism.

It costs dearly. This Veteran’s Day I keep a special thought for the Khans. I know Memorial Day is for Gold star families but it’s still the day to thank all our Vets.  I certainly hope we can hold on to our Constitution and to our laws out of respect for their sacrifices.

I have a list of attacks on minorities of all sorts for you.  In the last three day, we have numerous reports of children crying and afraid to go to school. We’ve had reports of verbal assaults and attacks on Muslims, African Americans, Jewish people, women, and Hispanics.  The North Carolina KKK will be holding a parade to celebrate the election of their glorious leader to President. Damascus is happy. The Russians are ebullient. The Chinese are pleased. The OIC countries are threatening to remove their embassies from this country should Trump follow through with his promise to move the US Embassy to Israel into Jerusalem.

memorial-decoration-day-veterans-soldiers-today-and-yesterday-vintage-postcardMultiple TRIGGER WARNINGS:

Ohio: Racist graffiti, swastikas mar Clintonville in night

Women Rush To Get Long-Acting Birth Control After Trump Wins

Minnesota: Secret Service probing van’s violent, vulgar message aimed at Clinton on I-94

Maple Grove School Investigating Racist, Pro-Trump Graffiti

North Carolina: Downtown Durham graffiti takes aim at black voters

A rash of racist attacks have broken out in the US after Donald Trump’s victory

It is not an external enemy that has done this.

Pence has promised Dobson that the first rights to be removed will be those of GLBT.  We’ve already had physical attacks and verbal abuse of gays over the last 3 days.

During an interview with James Dobson, host of the wildly homophobic Focus on the Family, Mike Pence assured his interviewer and his supporters that any progress made toward protecting LGBTQ rights under President Obama will be swiftly undone under President Trump. Issue by issue, he asserted over and over again a plan to marginalize and invalidate an entire group of citizens whom he is about to lead as vice-president.

Remember President Obama issuing orders to protect transgender citizens from being exposed to transphobia, hatred, and violence in public restrooms inside schools and federal buildings? Those protections are over.

I’ve got many more examples, but I think you can see that this is turning ugly.

Has any other election brought us to a situation where children are afraid to go to their schools and are crying about it?

733275aca2a4c66592cac093e39d36c7Here is an article by Bill Moyers I thought I would share.  It’s titled: Farewell, America. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently.

We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone. In its absence, we may realize just how imperative that politesse was. It is the way we managed to coexist.

If there is a single sentence that characterizes the election, it is this: “He says the things I’m thinking.” That may be what is so terrifying. Who knew that so many tens of millions of white Americans were thinking unconscionable things about their fellow Americans? Who knew that tens of millions of white men felt so emasculated by women and challenged by minorities? Who knew that after years of seeming progress on race and gender, tens of millions of white Americans lived in seething resentment, waiting for a demagogue to arrive who would legitimize their worst selves and channel them into political power? Perhaps we had been living in a fool’s paradise. Now we aren’t.

This country has survived a civil war, two world wars, and a great depression. There are many who say we will survive this, too. Maybe we will, but we won’t survive unscathed. We know too much about each other to heal. No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things. Nor can we pretend that democracy works and that elections have more or less happy endings. Democracy only functions when its participants abide by certain conventions, certain codes of conduct and a respect for the process.

The virus that kills democracy is extremism because extremism disables those codes. Republicans have disrespected the process for decades. They have regarded any Democratic president as illegitimate. They have proudly boasted of preventing popularly elected Democrats from effecting policy and have asserted that only Republicans have the right to determine the nation’s course. They have worked tirelessly to make sure that the government cannot govern and to redefine the purpose of government as prevention rather than effectuation. In short, they haven’t believed in democracy for a long time, and the media never called them out on it.

Democracy can’t cope with extremism.

I wish I could say that things will get easier or better from here on out.  That maybe the Fascist in waiting will rise to the occasion. veterans_day_vintage_postcard_one_nation_evermore-1-3365x2120Unfortunately, I’ve seen the list of cabinet suggestions.  It’s Orwellian.  They’re some of the biggest fattest cats of all the Washington insiders. There’s also plenty of crazy to go around.  I’m trying to put this information to you in links so you can see it if you want.  I’m sticking to the broader theme of why I am very despondent and very full of fear.  I have the right skin costume albeit the wrong reproductive parts.  There are neighbors, friends, colleagues and family that will be very much threatened.

The callous notes that bother me the most are the ones that tell me that maybe this all will work it.  It reminds me of the people that kept saying that awful campaign was going to look more presidential.  Not.GOING.to.HAPPEN.

I’ve turned off the TV.  I may watch a few escape programs but I cannot under any circumstances deal with TV News.  I have, however, found out that pool reporters are being denied access all over the place. Amazon stock has taken a hit on the market because Jeff Bezos own WaPo and President elect Trump has threatened revenge.

There are all kinds of protests out there still.  There are all kinds of petitions.  The problem is that none of it will work.  Only the type of organization and movement led by Dr. King with folks of total discipline and manner and in it for the long run are going to make a difference.  Now is the time to organize.  Now is the time to steel the nerves of Democratic Congress Critters.  Now is the time to stop any Vichy-style collaborators.  After all, the Democrats received none for 8 long years.

I agree with Joseph Cannon.  It is time to mount The White Rose Society for our country.

I can only heal right now.

Take care and I love you all.

Discuss whatever among st yourselves.