Monday Reads: America Held Hostage Day 53

Good Morning!

Well, things are not looking up at all. We continue to have Pressers based on questions from Right Wing Conspiratorial Web sites.  Our allies continue to question our rationality and priorities as a nation. Millions of people face the very real possibility they may not have their healthcare, retirement funds, or any kind of service or help from their government in the near future.

One of the things that I’ve been very worried about is the continual disconnect between the performance of the equities market and what’s going on in the bond markets.  This is usual a symptom of what we call “animal spirits” and often a sign that a crash is imminent on Wall Street.

Bond investors and those concentrated in Equities have very different priorities. Bonds are usually safe and liquid assets while Equities are risky. Their prices can be volatile.  Here’s something I read about a week ago as a lead up to something I read this morning.

Are stocks and U.S. Treasurys sending mixed signals? Treasury prices have rebounded since Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in January, pushing down yields, as stocks continue to ascend record heights. That’s in contrast with the bond market rout that followed the November election.

Why is a simultaneous rally a problem? Some investors see it as a sign that investors are losing faith in the so-called Trump trade, in which investors bet on aggressive fiscal stimulus and other growth-friendly measures from the new administration.

Much of the boom in equities has been due to speculation that deregulation and expansive fiscal policy favorable to private businesses may fuel business profits.  None of this has come to fruition yet so it’s basically speculative.  The economy is healthy and growing strong at the moment but is it enough to support the increased levels seen in the stock markets?  Is it real and sustainable?

Historical patterns suggest that it’s not and we may be looking at a future crash which would not bode well for any one who is or soon to be reliant on 401ks.  This is when I’m happy about my small but very stable pension coming in monthly. I’ve lived through way too many bubbles now and seen my 401k bounce around like a jumping bean.  My Uncle was one of the pioneer gnomes of the chartist movement after Black Friday.  I loved to see his huge charts that frequently blanketed the tables of his Kansas City mansion.  It could be why I ended up doing something similar.

It’s already been a big year for the Dow industrials, which have stretched a near-decade-long bull market to historic heights.

But if the technical stars collide, as one chartist predicts, the blue-chip gauge could soon plunge by more than 6,000 points to 14,800. That’s nearly 30% lower, based on Friday’s close.

Sandy Jadeja, chief market strategist at Master Trading Strategies, claims several predicted stock market crashes to his name — all of them called days, or even weeks, in advance. (He told CNBC viewers, for example, that the August 2015 “Flash Crash” was coming 18 days before it hit.) He’s also made prescient calls on gold and crude oil.

And he’s extremely concerned about what this year could bring for investors. “The timeline is rapidly approaching” for the next potential Dow meltdown, said Jadeja, who shares his techniques via workshops and seminars. Timelines are at the heart of his predictions, which he bases on repeating cycles in the market that are connected to specific times.

“People need to look for three things,” Jadeja told MarketWatch in a late-January interview and follow-up conversations. “Price, pattern, and … time. You can get the price pattern wrong, but if you get in at the right time, the other two don’t matter.”

He sees 2017 as littered with pitfalls for the Dow DJIA, -0.18%  . Below is his so-called “timelines” chart of the stock index, defined by green horizontal lines. He’s currently on the lookout for the benchmark to approach that upper green line, which represents a range of 21,800 to 22,000.

For me, it starts with a small alarm in my gut that says what are these people smoking?  Where are they seeing all this good news?  The Trumpcare fiasco alone should be sending signals that say things are not looking up.  Removing the ACA and replacing it with any thing close to what the Republicans are offering is going to severely disturb the healthcare markets as well as the labor markets.   Purchases by Households are still the primary driver of any US economy. They represent nearly 70% of all spending.

It was never a secret that Republicans would take a risk by repealing Obamacare, as unpopular as it was, and taking ownership of what happens next. But it’s striking just how many political dangers they’re putting themselves in — and how they’re ignoring pretty much all of them. Democratic operatives are already testing which ones resonate the most in swing districts, I’m told.

 Here are the one to watch:
Coverage losses. They’ve already dismissed the idea that they should worry about it, because they won’t be requiring people to buy coverage anymore. “There’s no way we can compete” with a government mandate, House Speaker Paul Ryan said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” yesterday. But if the Congressional Budget Office estimates that people will lose coverage, that’s going to be the headline for days, because …
“We’re going to have insurance for everybody.” That’s what President Trump told the Washington Post in January. He’s since fallen in line with the mainstream Republican position that they should guarantee access, not coverage. But that quote is not going to disappear.
Pre-existing conditions. Republicans insist they’re going to keep covering them, but Democrats are going to keep stoking fears that they’ll either lose coverage or have to pay more — especially with the 30 percent penalty for people who don’t keep themselves insured.
The “age tax.” AARP is going to be hammering them for allowing insurers to charge older customers five times as much as young adults, compared to three times as much under Obamacare. Republicans can try to dismiss AARP, but they do have a lot of power.
“Nobody will be worse off financially.” That’s what Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday. His point was that people will be able to buy cheaper health plans if they have more choices than the standard Obamacare ones — but it won’t be hard for Democrats to find people who are worse off.
Medicaid. Ryan insists that the switch to per-person funding limits would be a major entitlement reform that conservatives have wanted for decades — but the reality is that millions of people have gained coverage through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which is why Republicans are divided over when it should end.
The “giveaways to millionaires.” Democrats are already hitting the decision to get rid of a tax deductibility limitin the law — giving a tax break to insurance executives making more than $500,000 a year. That could be a hard one to explain to populist Trump supporters.
Deductibles. The sky-high deductibles under many Obamacare plans has been a standard GOP criticism of the law — but wait until people find out that the health savings accounts they’re promoting are tied to health plans that have the same thing.

Trump has made it clear that his budget will eliminate a significant part of the Federal workforce.  This is a really really recessionary move.  The states of Kansas and Louisiana have done this and its created significant economic distress in both places. Plus, it’s created a distinct lack of service and action in crucial public services.  For example, the state of Louisiana cannot train as many doctors and provide as many residents to hospitals.  That’s not good at all.

President Trump’s budget proposal this week would shake the federal government to its core if enacted, culling back numerous programs and expediting a historic contraction of the federal workforce.

This would be the first time the government has executed cuts of this magnitude — and all at once — since the drawdown following World War II, economists and budget analysts said.

The spending budget Trump is set to release Thursday will offer the clearest snapshot of his vision for the size and role of government. Aides say that the president sees a new Washington emerging from the budget process, one that prioritizes the military and homeland security while slashing many other areas, including housing, foreign assistance, environmental programs, public broadcasting and research. Simply put, government would be smaller and less involved in regulating life in America, with private companies and states playing a much bigger role.

Meanwhile, the Trump Family Syndicate continues to score.  The Trump Economy appears to be wonderful for the Trumps. The Kushners are getting a windfall from the Chinese that is a deal that’s more than just a little suspicious.

A company owned by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, stands to receive more than $400 million from a prominent Chinese company that is investing in the Kushners’ marquee Manhattan office tower at 666 Fifth Ave.

The planned $4-billion transaction includes terms that some real estate experts consider unusually favorable for the Kushners. It provides them with both a sizable cash payout from Anbang Insurance Group for a property that has struggled financially and an equity stake in a new partnership.

The details of the agreement, which is being circulated to attract additional investors, were shared with Bloomberg. It would make business partners of Kushner Cos. and Anbang, whose murky links to the Chinese power structure have raised national security concerns over its U.S. investments. In the process, an existing mortgage owed by the Kushners will be slashed to about a fifth of its current amount.

The document offers a rare look at a major deal by a close Trump associate and family member. It’s unclear whether the deal could prompt federal review, as occurred when Anbang bought other properties, like the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. Anbang could also face review by the Chinese government, which has been clamping down on overseas investments and which has a range of pending issues with the Trump administration.

Check out how the controversial EB-5 VISA program works its way into the numbers.  I’m still appalled at the idea that Camp David sits idle while Kremlin Caligula profits from using his private resort as a cash cow dressed up as a mini-White House.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, exposed Donald Trump’s claims about his so-called “Winter White House” today, pointing out that Mar-a-Lago is not a winter white house but a private for-profit business, with all the ethical and security problems that entails …

As Schiff says, Mar-a-Lago is “one ethical quagmire” out of many in the Trump empire. He is right when he points out that Trump is a “walking, talking violation of the Emoluments Clause” and has been since Day 1 of his administration.

There is no question that Trump’s business interests will not always align with American interests or with National Security needs (and forget for a moment the security risk his holding court in public places poses).

Donald Trump has shown Americans and the world that he cannot be trusted to place what’s best for America above his own interests. This is a basic problem of corporations, which see not the public good but their bottom line as what matters.

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey has just asked the ethics office to look into T-Rump’s foreign business deals for conflicts of interest.

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey asked a government ethics office Monday to assess whether President Donald Trump’s business dealings make his administration vulnerable to conflicts of interest.

“President Trump has exposed his administration to possible conflicts of interest on an unprecedented scale,” the Pennsylvania lawmaker says in a letter to the Office of Government Ethics.

 Casey asked whether any of Trump’s foreign business deals could violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits U.S. officeholders from accepting gifts from foreign countries.The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Walter Shaub, the director of the ethics office, strongly criticized Trump earlier this year for not divesting from his businesses. Shaub said Trump was breaking decades of tradition by presidents who set up blind trusts for their assets.

There’s currently a call to investigate the possibilities that that the Trump Family Thug Syndicate has been laundering Russian Thug money through Deustche Bank.  Calls have been made by Democrats to the DOJ to investigate the Bank itself.  Congresswoman Maxine Waters is leading the charge on this.

Senior Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for a congressional investigation into the justice department’s handling of an ongoing inquiry into Deutsche Bank, saying that Donald Trump had conflicts of interest with the German bank, his biggest creditor.
Maxine Waters, the top Democrat on the House financial services committee, urged her Republican colleagues to launch their own investigation into the nature of Deutsche Bank’s money-laundering scheme, who participated in the arrangement and whether it involved any other violations of US law beyond the failure to maintain anti-money laundering controls.
Deutsche Bank has already been ordered to pay more than $800m (£660m) in fines in the US and UK for failing to stop the improper and corrupt transfer of more than $10bn out of Russia. It is also being investigated by the justice department (DoJ).
The Guardian reported last month that the German bank undertook a close examination of the president’s personal bank account and those held by his family, in order to ascertain whether they had any suspicious links to Russia. None were found.
According to an analysis by Bloomberg, Trump now owes Deutsche about $300m. He has four large mortgages, all issued by Deutsche’s private bank.
Waters said in a letter to Jeb Hensarling, the chairman of the House financial services committee, that she was concerned “about the integrity of this criminal probe” given Trump’s “conflicts of interest” and the “suspicious ties” between Trump’s inner circle and the Russian government.

The Atlantic has printed a ‘crib sheet’ of all the Trump conflicts of interest.  The list is huge. The demand for forensic accountants is also going to be huge.

When it comes to President Donald Trump’s constellation of foreign investments, properties, and companies, much of the attention so far has been on his business’s apparent violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which bars officeholders from taking gifts from foreign leaders. According to numerous ethics experts, the clause takes an expansive definition of gifts, encompassing everything from a direct bribe to a foreign official’s approval of construction of a new Trump property. But some of the Trump Organization’s properties raise additional red flags due to the specific partners involved. That’s true in Indonesia, for example, where Trump’s affiliates have been involved in bribery scandals and radical Islamic nationalist parties, and Brazil, where the company pulled out of a branding agreement amid a criminal investigation of a local business partner.

Such is the case in Azerbaijan, which Transparency International ranks as among the most corrupt countries in the world, where the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Baku remains unopened. Though the long-stalled development has generated a steady drip of news and rumors for years, an overview by Adam Davidson in The New Yorker, entitled “Donald Trump’s Worst Deal,” puts into perspective just how convoluted the situation is, and just how much the project has led Trump and his company into a partnership with numerous corrupt officials in the Middle East. The details suggest that, on top of the continual underlying breach of the Emoluments Clause, the Trump Organization’s involvement may also violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, which forbids American companies from participating, even unknowingly, in bribery schemes in other countries, with a penalty of up to $2 million and up to five years in jail.

When all of this finally begins to unravel in a manner befitting of such a serious level of scandal, it can’t help but take our economy with it.  How much damage can Trump, Ryan et al inflict on us and at what point will ‘enough’ actually be ‘ENOUGH!!!!’?  Take these examples.

The price of drinks at his new hotel in Washington DC has reportedly increased significantly since it opened last September. His sons, Donald Jr and Eric Trump, have opened new hotels in Dubai and Vancouver since their father’s Inauguration, and told The New York Times that the Trump brand is “the hottest it’s ever been”. The initiation fee to join the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, named the “Winter White House”, where the President has spent several weekends, has recently soared.

The President’s motivation for choosing the six countries to include in his newly-reworded travel ban – Iran, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Somalia – will more likely be featured in lawsuits which challenge the constitutionality of the executive order than in the lawsuit from Mr Eisen and Mr Painter.

Asked how much the travel ban was motivated by racism and business interests, Mr Eisen replied: “I believe the predominant motivations for the ban are illegitimate, but I’m unable to isolate the different strains of the unsavoury virus that produced this legal inflammation.”

The original travel ban, signed in late January, was struck down by a federal judge in Washington state for being unconstitutional. Mr Trump’s emergency appeal was denied. The ban was re-written, taking Iraq off the list and scrapping the indefinite suspension of Syrian refugees. Green card and visa holders were no longer affected.

Several states have already indicated they will sue, joining Washington state’s original effort.

Mr Painter told Business Insider that the six countries still on the list are “quite poor and have no dealings with the Trump Organisation”.

It kills me to read all of this knowing that the idiots that put this crime syndicate into government don’t appear to care or have a clue about any of this.  When will the Republicans actually do their job and drop their ideological goose march long enough to save our country?
And what’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Monday Reads: The Nation as Dumpster Fire

Good Afternoon!

Living under the rule of a crazy person surrounded by ideologues isn’t any thing I ever thought we’d see in my country.  It’s no longer tis of me or thee.  Tis of white nationalists and a greedy insane baby man stroking his ego and filling his coffers with Tax Payer dollars and access money.

We’ve again got a selective ban of countries Trump wrongly believes are responsible for terrorism in this country.  It’s basically a wholesale denial of VISAs. I can’t imagine this will hold up in court. It’s interesting that the countries where we’ve actually had foreign national terrorists hatch are still not on the ban list and still “coincidentally” are places where the Trump Syndicate Thugs operate. Evidently some Pentagon and NSA leaders managed to get Iraq taken off the list but the others remain.

The new guidelines mark a dramatic departure from Trump’s original ban. They lay out a far more specific national security basis for the order, block the issuance of only new visas, and name just six of the seven countries included in the first executive order, omitting Iraq.

The order also details specific sets of people who would be able to apply for case-by-case waivers to the order, including those previously admitted to the U.S. for “a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity,” those with “significant business or professional obligations” and those seeking to visit or live with family.

“This executive order responsibly provides a needed pause, so we can carefully review how we scrutinize people coming here from these countries of concern,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in announcing the order had been signed.

Even before the ink was dry, though, Democrats and civil liberties groups asserted the new order was legally tainted in the same way as the first one: it was a thinly disguised Muslim ban.

“While the White House may have made changes to the ban, the intent to discriminate against Muslims remains clear,” said New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman (D), who had joined the legal fight against the first ban. “This doesn’t just harm the families caught in the chaos of President Trump’s draconian policies – it’s diametrically opposed to our values, and makes us less safe.”

Trump’s administration is taking the blame for the public view that the first few weeks in the White House have been abysmal and produced nothing in the way of legislative change.  Trump evidently is upset that Obama was able to accomplish much more in his first month and it appears that Priebus is on top of the list for blame.   Video of Trump storming around the oval office with the Kushners, Preibus, and Bannon taking the brunt of the temper tantrum about leaks and bad press filled the Sunday Funnies oops political programs.

As the White House struggles to gain its footing almost two months into Donald Trump’s presidency, administration officials increasingly put the blame on one person: Reince Priebus.

In interviews, more than a dozen Trump aides, allies, and others close to the White House said Priebus, the 44-year-old chief of staff, was becoming a singular target of criticism within the White House.

They described a micromanager who sprints from one West Wing meeting to another, inserting himself into conversations big and small and leaving many staffers with the impression that he’s trying to block their access to Trump. They vented about his determination to fill the administration with his political allies. And they expressed alarm at what they say are directionless morning staff meetings Priebus oversees that could otherwise be used to rigorously set the day’s agenda and counterbalance the president’s own unpredictability.

The finger-pointing further complicates life in an already turmoil-filled West Wing, one that has been hobbled by dueling power centers and unclear lines of command.

“There’s a real frustration among many — including from the president — that things aren’t going as smoothly as one had hoped,” said one senior administration official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “Reince, fairly or not, is likely to take the blame and take the fault for that.”

“It’s sheer incompetence,” said another White House official. “There’s a lack of management, and a lack of strategy.”

Paul Krugman lays the blame on all Republicans saying “Why Republicans Have No Idea What They’re Doing”.  It’s been pretty apparent that Republicans have been increasingly ideological and unrealistic in terms of what can and cannot be done and be within the scope of the Constitution. They continually overpromise and underdeliver.  It’s because they never take time to learn about how to govern and how to get legislation pass because they’re not about doing that.  They’re about getting their way period.

As Paul Krugman reminds us in his Monday column, there’s a reason why the Republican party gravitated towards Trump in the first place. And it’s hardly surprising that they can’t get it together to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act or reform corporate taxes, as promised.

“They have no idea how to turn their slogans into actual legislation, because they’ve never bothered to understand how anything important works,” Krugman says.

For seven years, “Republicans kept promising to offer an alternative to Obamacare any day now, but never did,” Krugman notes.

From what we know about the new plan—and Republicans have gone to tragicomic lengths to keep it a secret—it’s not very good. As Krugman observes:

Politically, it seems to embody the worst of both worlds: It’s enough like Obamacare to infuriate hard-line conservatives, but it weakens key aspects of the law enough to deprive millions of Americans — many of them white working-class voters who backed Donald Trump — of essential health care.

The plan was hatched by “smart” Republicans like Paul Ryan, who the media never tires of painting as the wonky intellectual of the GOP. But there are glaring inconsisencies in the GOP’s Obamacare replacement.

First off, as Krugman notes, “the only way to maintain coverage for the 20 million people who gained insurance thanks to Obamacare is with a plan that, surprise, looks a lot like Obamacare.” But instead of admitting their political failure, Ryan and Co are aiming to shove this bill down the throats of the American people before anyone has a chance to understand what’s in it.

Charles Blow has he best advice I’ve seen in short form.  While Krugman argues that the Republicans are a party not ready to govern, Blow says Pause this Presidency

The American people must immediately demand a cessation of all consequential actions by this “president” until we can be assured that Russian efforts to hack our election, in a way that was clearly meant to help him and damage his opponent, did not also include collusion with or coverup by anyone involved in the Trump campaign and now administration.

This may sound extreme, but if the gathering fog of suspicion should yield an actual connection, it would be one of the most egregious assaults on our democracy ever. It would not only be unprecedented, it would be a profound wound to faith in our sovereignty.

Viewed through the serious lens of those epic implications, no action to put this presidency on pause is extreme. Rather, it is exceedingly prudent.

Some things must be done and some positions filled simply to keep the government operational. Absolute abrogation of administrative authority is infeasible and ill advised. But a bare minimum standard must be applied until we know more about what the current raft of investigations yield. Indeed, it may be that the current investigative apparatuses are insufficient and a special commission or special counsel is in order.

In any event, we can’t keep cruising along as if the unanswered question isn’t existential.

Americans must demand at least a momentary respite from — my preference would be a permanent termination of — Trump’s aggressive agenda to dramatically alter the social, economic and political contours of this country.

Greg Sargent also has a point:  “At the root of Trump’s new fury: Total contempt for American democracy”.  We don’t need a reboot of the Trump insurgency, we need a reboot of our democracy.  The system is trying to right itself and its causing Trump to have temper tantrums of epic proportions as well as a frequent need to run to his private resort to repad his fragile feefees.

President Trump is now wallowing in fury, we are told, because he can’t make the Russia story disappear; he can’t stem the leaks to the media; and he can’t seem to realize his promises. Some reports tell us that unflattering comparisons to Barack Obama’s early accomplishments are “gnawing at Trump,” while others say he went “ballistic” when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe, because it telegraphed capitulation to Trump’s foes.

But all of these things are connected by a common thread: Trump is enraged at being subjected to a system of democratic and institutional constraints, for which he has signaled nothing but absolute, unbridled contempt. The system is pushing back, and he can’t bear it.

On Monday morning, the latest chapter in this tale — Trump’s unsupported accusation that Obama wiretapped his phones — took another turn. Trump’s spokeswoman said on ABC News that Trump does not accept FBI Director James Comey’s claim — which was reported on over the weekend — that no such wiretapping ever happened.

As E.J. Dionne writes, this episode is a “tipping point” in the Trump experiment. Trump leveled the charge based on conservative media. Then, after an internal search for evidenceto back it up produced nothing, the White House press secretary called on Congress to investigate it and declared the administration’s work done. While the previous administration did wiretap, the problem is the recklessness and baselessness of Trump’s specific allegations, and the White House’s insistence that the burden of disproving them must fall on others — on Congress and on the FBI. Trump’s allegations must be humored at all costs, simply because he declared them to be true — there can be no admission of error, and worse, the White House has declared itself liberated from the need to even pretend to have evidence to back up even Trump’s most explosive claims.

The best example of this is the temper tantrum resulting from Jeff Sessions actually doing the prudent and right thing over the Russia situation.  

Mr Trump is growing increasingly angry at the performance of his senior staff and at the way the Russia investigation is overshadowing his political message, several sources told multiple publications.

He called his inner circle to the Oval Office at the end of last week to talk about this week’s schedule, but the meeting became heated when the topic turned to Mr Sessions.

Sources told CNN Mr Trump used “a lot of expletives” and “nobody has seen him that upset”.

Other sources told Politico there were “fireworks” during the “robust discussion”.

There’s a tape of it even.   The man is self-destructing.

Meanwhile, SCOTUS is working.  It’s not advantaging the Republicans case at all.

From WAPO: “Supreme Court sends Virginia transgender case back to lower court

The Supreme Court on Monday vacated a lower court’s ruling in favor of a Virginia transgender student after the Trump administration withdrew the federal government’s guidance to public schools about a controversial bathroom policy.

The justices were scheduled to hear the case later this month. But after the government’s position changed, the court said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit should reconsider the dispute between the Gloucester County school board and 17-year-old Gavin Grimm.

In what had been a big victory for Grimm and the transgender movement, the 4th Circuit had relied on the government’s guidance that schools should let transgender students use the bathroom that corresponds with the student’s gender identity.

The Trump administration withdrew that guidance, which was issued by the Obama administration.

From ABC News: “Supreme Court: Jury secrecy no bar to looking into race bias

A juror’s use of racial or ethnic slurs during deliberations over a defendant’s guilt can be a reason for breaching the centuries-old legal principle of secrecy in the jury room, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The justices ruled 5-3 in a case from Colorado that lower courts can take the unusual step of examining jury deliberations when there are indications that racial bias deprived a defendant of his right to a fair trial.

The decision followed another ruling last month in which the court took a hard line against racial bias in the criminal justice system. In that case, the justices ruled in favor of an African-American prison inmate in Texas whose death sentence may have been tainted by troubling references to race in court testimony.

In Monday’s case, defendant Miguel Angel Pena Rodriguez appealed to the Supreme Court after two jurors reported that a third juror tied Pena Rodriguez’s guilt to his Hispanic heritage.

The juror’s statements reportedly saying Pena Rodriguez was guilty because he is “Mexican, and Mexican men take whatever they want” only came to light after he was convicted of inappropriately touching teenage girls.

Colorado courts ruled against Pena Rodriguez because of a legal rule that protects jury deliberations.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority “that blatant racial prejudice is antithetical to the functioning of the jury system and must be confronted in egregious cases like this one despite the general bar of the no-impeachment rule.” The court’s four liberal justices joined with Kennedy to form a majority.


Monday Reads: Oy.JUST.Oy.

taken by Lynda Woolard at the NOLA March for Women (scowling dakinikat in background)

Photo taken by Lynda Woolard at the NOLA March for Women (scowling dakinikat in background)

Things–unpleasant and dangerous–are beginning to happen that shows we’ve been taken over by the Alt Right and the horrifying historical meaning of “America First”.  It’s not just in the speeches any more.  Some of today’s executive orders are horrifying and signal to the world we’re a really hostile presence for every one.  It makes no difference if you’ve been our friends, allies, or enemies.  We’re an agent of chaos on a level heretofore unknown.

Frankly, I believe an economic crisis is on its way sooner than I thought possible. There are several actions that look distinctly like acts of war.  The winners for this move are China and Australia if you want to know where to invest your money.   Trump is ending free trade.  BTW, nutter Bernie is ecstatic.  I really don’t think they understand the concept of trade at all.

lynda-and-krewe-of-hillary-nola-womens-marchThis will not create US jobs.  If anything, it will take away the jobs of those who work for firms that export US goods.  As an economist, I cannot stress enough how devastating this will be to the US economy, our geopolitical and geoeconomic standing in the region, and our relations with other nations. Isolationism has never been–historically–a good thing.   Additionally, it will not save or re-create US jobs destroyed by technology. For example, it’s only a matter of years before there will be no need for long haul truck drivers. We’re already learning to be our own grocery checkers.

I  think the deplorables are going to really be hammered on all of this as well as the rest of working people.  What’s needed are unions to offset the self-dealing of Senior Management and excessive dividend programs.

President Donald Trump abruptly ended the decades-old U.S. tilt toward free trade by signing an executive order to withdraw from an Asia-Pacific accord that was never ratified and promising to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Great thing for the American worker, what we just did,” Trump said on Monday after signing an order withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord with 11 other nations. He didn’t sign any actions to direct a renegotiation of the Nafta accord with Mexico and Canada, yet he said on Sunday he would begin talks with the two leaders on modifying the pact.

“We’ve been talking about this a long time,” Trump said

nola-womans-marchMarching on Saturday with the 3 – 5 million others dampened my despair. I’m still extremely afraid of this insanity. But, it was so wonderful to know so many of us reject his delusions and aspire to create a more perfect union. We are a gumbo. We are a patchwork quilt. We are a jazz riff. We are so much more than Trump’s Narcissism can comprehend, respect, grasp, grok, appreciate, love … please enjoy my pictures of the NOLA March for Women and one other I got caught in by my friend Lynda Woolard who is–in turn–the red head in the photo shown second.  I’m scowling at the southern sun just to the right of the Vulva up top.

More on the executive orders he signed today which includes re-instating the Mexico City Policy and freezing federal hiring,  This is what putting America first is going to look like. Women, of course, were included in the slaughter. We will be hated more than we ever were before and we will likely hate ourselves.

“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs,” Mr Trump said in his short, nationalistic speech on Inauguration Day. “Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”

The TPP withdrawal order was one of three actions taken by the President in his third full day in office. He also ordered a freeze in government hiring and re-imposed a ban on providing federal money to international groups that provide abortions.

Mr Trump has criticised international free trade deals for rewarding companies to outsource work and has attributed the loss of US manufacturing to foreign labour.

girls-at-nola-womens-marchThe man is insane and has no idea of what he speaks.  Seriously, we’re headed to Depression. It’s the 30s all over again.

This is one piece of news that is also likely to isolate us from people we need as friends in the region.  It’s like to embolden suicide bombers and terrorists. IMHO, it is an act of war.   He plans to announce the movement of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

UPDATE: The White House has now confirmed it is in the early stages of talks regarding the embassy’s move

Channel 2 cited an anonymous source as saying a member of the Trump administration would announce the highly controversial move on the President’s first full working day in office.

I imagine the Radical Chistianist Terrorists are preparing for the rapture–yet again–as we speak.

Here are some other things you may want to read.16251622_10154398555833512_4892005447479481464_o

From The New Yorker and the pen of Robin Wright: TRUMP’S VAINGLORIOUS AFFRONT TO THE C.I.A.

From Rolling Stone: The Radical Crusade of Mike Pence; He’s trampled on the rights of women, LGBTQ folks and the poor. Then there’s the incompetence. Meet, quite possibly, the next president

From the WSJ: U.S. Eyes Michael Flynn’s Links to Russia,Counterintelligence agents have investigated communications by President Trump’s national security adviser, including phone calls to Russian ambassador in late December

From Politico: Hillary Clinton plots her next move; The Democrat has been studying election presentations, including reports on where she underperformed.

From Variety:  CNN Declines to Air White House Press Conference Live

From Reuters:  Ethics lawyers to sue Trump over foreign payments

A group including former White House ethics attorneys will file a lawsuit on Monday accusing President Donald Trump of allowing his businesses to accept payments from foreign governments, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuit, brought by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, will allege that the Constitution’s emoluments clause forbids payments to Trump’s businesses. It will seek a court order forbidding Trump from accepting such payments, said Deepak Gupta, one of the lawyers working on the case.

Trump does business with countries like China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, the group noted in a statement.

“When Trump the president sits down to negotiate trade deals with these countries, the American people will have no way of knowing whether he will also be thinking about the profits of Trump the businessman,”

https://twitter.com/jonaschartock/status/822972043109011457

16142631_10154398966483512_8779650311873018180_nI really just can’t do today. I can’t.


Monday Reads: Chaos Happens

3aae89b8e3e08277223ea6329101b764It’s Monday!  It’s cold, gloomy, drizzly, thundering, and gray here in Swampland.  I’m trying to decide when exactly we get to start the America Held Hostage Day count.  At the moment, I’m holding out hope on a few bits of good news so I’m going to start on that note.

A judge has ordered a Presidential Election recount in Michigan so Trump and the Michigan AG can stew in their evil soup with their evil hearts.

A federal judge has ordered Michigan election officials to begin a massive hand recount of 4.8 million ballots cast in the presidential election at noon Monday.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith issued a ruling just after midnight Monday in favor of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who sought to let election officials bypass a two-business-day waiting period that would have delayed start of the recount until Wednesday morning.

Goldsmith’s order said the recount “shall commence and must continue until further order of this court.” Goldsmith wrote.

The deadline to finalize the vote total for the Electoral College is Dec. 13 and federal election law requires a period of “safe harbor” for presidential electors before the presidency is finalized on Dec. 19.

The manual recount process was scheduled to begin Wednesday as specified by state law, and in a rare Sunday hearing in federal court, Goldsmith had questioned the harm posed by waiting.

“Defendants shall instruct all governmental units participating in the recount to assemble necessary staff to work sufficient hours to assure that the recount is completed in time to comply with the ‘safe harbor’ provision,” of federal election law.

Senate Democrats may actually be steeling themselves for a fight over nominations if you believe what’s being reported on Tiger Beat on the Potomac. Will enough of them stall the Republican menace headed our way?  There’s an old church down the street dedicated to St. Jude built during the yellow fever days.  Maybe I should adopt that altar for awhile.

Senate Democrats are preparing to put Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks through a grinding confirmation process, weighing delay tactics that could eat up weeks of the Senate calendar and hamper his first 100 days in office.

Multiple Democratic senators told POLITICO in interviews last week that after watching Republicans sit on Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court for nearly a year, they’re in no mood to fast-track Trump’s selections.

But it’s not just about exacting revenge.

Democrats argue that some of the president-elect’s more controversial Cabinet picks — such as Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary — demand a thorough public airing.

“They’ve been rewarded for stealing a Supreme Court justice. We’re going to help them confirm their nominees, many of whom are disqualified?” fumed Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). “It’s not obstruction, it’s not partisan, it’s just a duty to find out what they’d do in these jobs.”

Senate Democrats can’t block Trump’s appointments, which in all but one case need only 51 votes for confirmation. But they can turn the confirmation process into a slog.

47ae1ac10d555c70e95739b40c2e9c7aThe latest abomination of appointing a political lackey with absolutely no credentials for the job is Ben Carson to HUD.  It appears that Trump is just going to fill the cabinet with one Heckuva Job Brownie after another.  I don’t see much point in excerpting the bad news which you can go read at the NPR link if you so choose.

First Americans have won a concession from the Army Corps of Engineers. The agency will find a way to avoid the land of a sovereign nation of Lakota.  The Feds have denied the permit to build the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Federal officials have denied the final permits required for the Dakota Access Pipeline project in North Dakota.

The Army Corps of Engineers on Sunday announced it would instead conduct an environmental impact review of the 1,170-mile pipeline project and determine if there are other ways to route it to avoid a crossing on the Missouri River.

“Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Army Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said in a statement.

“The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”

The announcement comes one day before the Army Corps of Engineers’ deadline for demonstrators to leave the protest site. The governor of North Dakota had also issued an emergency evacuation order.

Protestors have clashed with police, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a Sunday statement that the Department of Justice “will continue to monitor the situation in North Dakota in the days ahead” and stands “ready to provide resources to help all those who can play a constructive role in easing tensions.”

e532f81149c6e24d37f59c9999645ac6

One of the weirdest things to come out of the trend of right wingers to completely fall for fake news happened in the District this weekend. A whack from NC with a very large gun showed up at a restaurant to investigate a supposed child sex ring Hillary Clinton was running at the location.  How dumb exactly are these Trump-Billies and how dangerous are they?

A North Carolina man was arrested Sunday after he walked into a popular pizza restaurant in Northwest Washington carrying an assault rifle and fired one or more shots, D.C. police said. The man told police he had come to the restaurant to “self-investigate” a false election-related conspiracy theory involving Hillary Clinton that spread online during her presidential campaign.

The incident caused panic, with several businesses going into lockdown as police swarmed the neighborhood after receiving the call shortly before 3 p.m.

Police said 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch, of Salisbury, N.C., walked in the front door of Comet Ping Pong and pointed a firearm in the direction of a restaurant employee. The employee was able to flee and notify police. Police said Welch proceeded to discharge the rifle inside the restaurant; they think that all other occupants had fled when Welch began shooting.

Welch has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon. Police said there were no reported injuries.

Interim D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said police arrived on the scene minutes after the first call, set up a perimeter and safely arrested Welch about 45 minutes after he entered the restaurant.

This shooter lives in a conspiracy theory hell realm.

One of the key pieces of “evidence,” for example, comes from the emails WikiLeaks says came from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. The emails include references to pizza. The conspiracy theory holds that based on how frequently pizza comes up, “pizza” must be code for pedophilia.

Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis told NPR that the entire theory is “an insanely complicated, made-up, fictional lie-based story” that people in the “reality-based” community quickly dismissed as an “insane sort of joke.”

But on the fringes of the Internet, some people have been taking it seriously. The restaurant has received hundreds of death threats. Now it has had an actual armed assault.

You can wonder no further when I saw that I avoid going to Jefferson Parish whenever possible.  This is 473ca62dfcc84e68ddbc5f29fed112cda white flight community of some of the worst looking strip malls and houses you could ever imagine. It’s also home to the folks that think Steve Scalise and David Duke are election material.
 A former Jets Player was gunned down in a road rage incident and the Sheriff has basically let the man go because he may be “standing his ground”.  New photo imagines of the scene show that to be highly unlikely.  What isn’t likely but well documented is that we still need the Black Lives Matter movement more than ever.  The white dude that shot the former player and black man has been cited for road rage incidents before.’

New details are emerging about 54-year-old Ronald Gasser, the man who confessed that he shot and killed former NFL player Joe McKnight in New Orleans last Thursday, an apparent road rage incident. According to the Jefferson Parish sheriff, Gasser was arrested at the same intersection a decade ago for another road rage incident in which he allegedly followed a victim and punched him several times. NBC’s Blake McCoy reports for TODAY.

16190d6928ef03df75b1207a48e9c7f8The man who was attacked by Gasser was spit on but not shot.  Try guessing the key variable in this scenario that saved his life.
As of Saturday night, no charges had been brought against Gasser, who was released Thursday night by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office after questioning. The decision to release Gasser without pressing charges has prompted outrage on social media and led to questions about Louisiana’s stand-your-ground law.

In recent days, McKnight’s family members, friends, teammates and supporters have expressed grief and outrage over the killing. At a candlelight vigil held Saturday night at the Lincoln Manner Gym in Kenner where McKnight first made a name for himself as a high school football standout, around a dozen speakers expressed anguish over the road-rage-prompted fatal shooting.

“It was senseless,” U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, told NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune at the vigil. “You’re in a car with the ability to drive away, with the ability to roll your windows up, and you feel the only choice you have is to shoot three times? I can’t comprehend that.”

I can only imagine how bad it’s going to get for all of us that don’t fall into the neat little category of “safe” that only the mind of a Trump-Billy can conjure.  We can only look forward to more incidents of white male violence against minorities and women.  I’d be willing to be the kathouse on it.

That’s it for me today!  Please share what you’re reading!  I hate to just keep raining bad news on your head like the weather down here rains the cold.   So, 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?


Wednesday Reads: Trumptovirus, you don’t want to catch it…

Trumptovirus, it is my own concoction of Trump maladies that pervade the population…it is a strange and powerful illness. Depending on your genetic makeup, certain geographic settings, early childhood nurturing experiences, you may be predisposed to developing a particular strain of the virus. I like to classify this as Trumptovirus Complex 10. Symptoms to look for are, rabid thoughts and acts of racism, misogyny and being a flat out jackass bigot, performing stalking and fascist threats, runny nose, flush skin, extreme sexual “assaultic” behavior…as in grabbing anything pussy related, such as beaver, bush, gash, poontang, coochie…oh you can get a full round up of pussy alternatives coming up. As you can see, Trumptovirus Complex 10 is a serious condition, and is incurable in some cases.

Texas congressman says he’d “consider” still supporting Trump even if he admitted to rape on tape.

 

Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold’s support for Donald Trump appears to be infinite. Does a lurid video of his prefered candidate for the presidency talking about grabbing women “by the pussy” faze Rep. Farenthold? Nope. Why? As the Republicanexplained on MSNBC’s All InWith Chris Hayes Tuesday night: “Until [Trump] does something so bad to make him worse than Hillary, I’m still in.” In sum: He’s with him.

“I think this was locker room talk that happened 10 years ago… it was a private conversation that was off the record that happened to be caught on tape,” Farenthold explained. Joking about sexual assault is NBD for Farenthold. Noted. But what would cause the Texas congressman to rethink his support? Hayes came up with this hypothetical to test that boundary: “If a tape came out with Donald Trump saying ‘I really like to rape women’ you would continue to endorse him?”

There is but one answer to that question for the non-criminal population of the United States. “That would be bad. And I would have to consider… And I’d consider it,” Farenthold stammered. That wasn’t it.

On Twitter, Farenthold issued this apology for … not condemning … Hayes.

 

Are you fucking kidding me? Now this is the kind of shit that makes me physically ill. Like, it makes me feel disgusted but it brings up this anger in me that I can tell you, is beyond anything I have experienced. Like I want to hurt someone. Maybe it is because I am a rape victim…I mean survivor.

But the emotional brutality that is deep within me, if  I could release it, (well I mean if it turned into physical brutality) to assholes like this fuck face who is making excuses for Trump’s sexual assault brag…it frightens me what damage I could do.

Which brings me to the second strain of the Trumptovirus…I will classify this one as Trumptovirus Beset Complex, because this strain of the disease is forced upon it’s sufferers…in such a way…that even those with the strongest of will, have problems fighting it off.

14671099_1711428332513386_5910472947607927280_nIs Trump a “Trigger”? According to Many Women’s Reactions to Last Night’s Debate, the Answer is “Yes

He stalked. He scowled. He stood too close. He towered over her, threatening her while she sat on a chair. He entered her space over, and over, and over again. He interrupted her; spoke over her. He lied while telling her that she was the one who was lying.

The behavior that Donald Trump showed toward Hillary Clinton at last night’s debate was reprehensible. But for many women, it was more than that. It was a sickening example of the type of domineering, dismissive, abusive, and threatening male behavior that so many of us have dealt with in our lives. As a result, many of us had strong physical and emotional reactions to watching this familiar behavior unfold on television.

Reviewing the night’s Tweets, it’s remarkable how many female viewers mentioned feeling physically ill, being emotionally exhausted, crying.

Go to the link to read those tweets, I know that Boston Boomer touched on this yesterday…

Watch this Washington University in St. Louis student and abuse survivor’s emotional confrontation with Trump supporter Omarosa after Sunday’s debate. http://bloom.bg/2d5chCy

 

Link to embedded video here.

Here’s a few other links on this and a few other Trump developments:

Eric Trump: Bragging About Sexual Assault Is ‘What Happens’ When Alpha Males Are Together | Huffington Post

TRUMP: Women have ‘heard a lot worse’ than my lewd ‘locker room’ tape – Business Insider

“The Apprentice” Microphone Guy Says Trump Repeatedly Called Him A “Fucking Monkey” – BuzzFeed News

Donald Trump fired Illinois native Maria Kanellis for ‘locker room’ talk – Chicago Tribune

Pence halts Trump supporter who called for ‘revolution’ if Clinton wins – LA Times

Trump tells supporters to go vote on ‘November 28th’ | TheHill

“Make sure you get out and vote,” Trump told supporters on Tuesday at rally in Florida. “November 28th.”

Election Day is Nov. 8, 2016.

[…]

Nov. 28 is the start date of a longstanding class action suit against Trump University, the now-defunct get-rich-on-real-estate seminar program started by Trump, CNN Money notes.

Top Georgia Republican: ‘Hillary will do for gender relations what Obama did for race relations’ | Political Insider blog

There were audible gasps in the room when Evans made this prediction, should Democrat Hillary Clinton wins the White House: “Hillary will do for gender relations what Obama did for race relations.”

Oh, this from Ben Carson…I have no words:

Ben Carson: Your Virgin Ears Are The Problem, Not Donald Trump | Huffington Post

That leaked audio wouldn’t be such a big deal if more Americans were exposed to bragging about sexual assault.

Video at the link, you have to see the way this dickhead says this shit.

The reason Americans are so angry about Donald Trump’s leaked audio is that they probably haven’t heard enough similar language, Ben Carson said Tuesday.

“That kind of banter goes around all the time,” Carson, a Trump surrogate, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar. “As I was growing up, people were always trying to talk about their sexual conquests, and trying to make themselves appear, you know, like the Don, you know, Casanova.”

“I’m surprised you haven’t heard that,” he continued. “I really am.”

Can you believe this? Oh…but Carson went on…

“Maybe that’s the problem”: Ben Carson insists that more women should be exposed to Donald Trump’s “locker room” banter about sexual assault – Salon.com

“I haven’t heard it and I know a lot of people who have not heard it,” Keilar insisted.

“Maybe that’s the problem,” Carson responded. “Maybe that’s the problem.”

“The problem is that I haven’t —” Keilar began to ask before being cut off by Carson.

“Maybe, maybe that’s the problem,” Carson continued. “People have not heard this. Maybe that’s the problem.”

The White House has released an official statement, because of assholes like Carson:

White House Releases Official Statement, Says Trump Committed Sexual Assault (VIDEO)

And finally, it seems the Media is getting it in gear:

WATCH AND WEEP: CNN host stops show to explain genital grabbing is sexual assault

N host John King took time out of his Tuesday show to explain to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) that grabbing a woman’s genitals without her permission is sexual assault.

While defending a leaked tape in which Donald Trump bragged that he grabs women “by the pussy,” Sessions told The Weekly Standard that he did not consider the act to be sexual assault.

“I don’t characterize that as sexual assault. I think that’s a stretch,” Sessions insisted to the conservative magazine.

“So if you grab a woman by the genitals, that’s not sexual assault?” an interviewer atThe Weekly Standard pressed.

“I don’t know. It’s not clear that he—how that would occur,” Sessions replied.

On Tuesday, King carved a minute out of his broadcast to address the senator, who he noted “was an Army veteran, a former federal prosecutor, former Alabama attorney general, a law-and-order conservative, a devout Christian and a former Sunday school teacher.”

“Sessions was asked about that tape, where Trump brags of forcing himself on women, including grabbing what we describe to our children as private parts,” King said, adding that Sessions had initially refused to “characterize that as sexual assault.”

“Forget politics for a moment, Senator,” the CNN host pleaded. “What about your daughters and your seven granddaughters. Saying Trump is a better choice than Hillary Clinton, that’s one thing. Saying what he described in that tape is not sexual assault — forgive me, Senator — that’s an outrage.”

Anderson Cooper Delivers Knockout Punch To Kellyanne Conway Over Settling Lawsuits | Mediaite

Watch CNN’s Damning Comparison Of Trump And Clinton Tax Plans

I don’t know how far this will go, but it is something to bring up: First State In America Moves To BAN Donald Trump From Entering, More To Follow (DETAILS)

After Trump’s campaign staff removed a Muslim woman who was peacefully protesting at a Trump rally in Rock Hill, South Carolina, state Rep. John King (D) jumped ship on the Trump train, and said he was “not welcome” in the state.

King declared he was “sick to his stomach” over the way Trump’s cohorts treated the woman. And with good reason!

He told The Herald that he will file a House Resolution that states Trump isn’t welcome in the state of South Carolina.

According to King, Trump is:

“…a race-baiting, xenophobic bigot and is not welcome in the state of South Carolina,” which was also earlier asserted by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Most people likely agree, except maybe the Trump supporters. But they probably won’t see this article, as it requires knowing how to read.

“Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much in South Carolina, but most of us agree that Donald Trump is an embarrassment to our country’s political process and stands contrary to the beliefs of our Founding Fathers and the values of the United States Constitution. Why would we welcome someone to our great state when even our senior Republican U.S. senator agrees that Donald Trump is nothing more than a modern day George Wallace who preys on people’s fears and prejudices,” King explained in his statement.

The last link today is about the show Full Frontal with Sam Bee, if you did not see these clips, go watch them now:

Samantha Bee’s ‘vagina monologue’ is the best line-by-line Trump non-apology takedown you’re going to see

Bee was unsparing of both Trump and Today show host Billy Bush, seen giggling and egging the now-GOP presidential nominee on to talk about how he sexually assaults women.

“Let’s stop that hostile work environment training module here and discuss what we’ve just seen,” she said after showing a clip. “In less than a minute, these two leering dildos turned their rape culture banter into a rape culture power move that demeaned and violated Zucker [the victim] in ways she is only now finding out about.”

“And we know this maybe  shocking for most normal men,” she added. “But every woman I know has had some entitled testosterone monster grab her like a human bowling ball.”

Bee later launched into what she called her “vagina monologue,” ridiculing cable show hosts and journalists who balked at saying what they often called, “the p-word.”

“It must be so hard to make 24 hours of television without saying the words: c*nt, snatch, cooter, silk purse, spicy taco, hoohoo,, trim, vajayjay, bearded clam, front bottom, nether region, sin grotto, red lobster, beaver, fur burger, downstairs retreat, honey pot, inner sanctum, yoni, sugar walls, peach blossom, lady treasure, roast beef curtains, gray garden — Oh! I almost forgot the most important one: box.”

“Well, that was literally a vagina monologue,” she exclaimed to the hoots of the audience.

 

Pussy Riot | Full Frontal with Samantha Bee | TBS – YouTube

 

 

GOP Fear the P | Full Frontal with Samantha Bee | TBS – YouTube

 

Debate 2: Misery in Missouri | Full Frontal with Samantha Bee | TBS – YouTube

 

We Thought We Were Done with This | Full Frontal with Samantha Bee | TBS – YouTube

 

And that is it for me, hope you all have a good morning, this is an open thread.

 

 


Monday Reads

Color-NRA-xmas-storyWell, it’s another Monday of  National Crass Consumerism Season and woe to us that have to do any normal errands in stores.  For that matter, woe to us that get mail, email, commercial TV stations, radio, and internet because it’s hard to avoid the onslaught of  the season of greed and guilt-laden obligation. It’s time to say WHOA!  to all of that. You can’t go any where these days and escape the pitch.  Whatever happened to just simply getting together and enjoying people when you have time off work or whatever.  Does it all have to involve ugly sweaters, really bad music, and people in terrible mood all in lines I’d like to just plain avoid?  Why is it the worst things about this country just keep getting worse?

Oh, wait, I can answer that.  Some rich old white guy is making a buttload of money out of making every one else basically stressed and miserable. Plus a couple other old white dudes think their liberty is at risk if we start trying to solve the problems they create with policy that works rather than enriches the other old white dudes.

So, speaking of things that keep getting worse, the President addressed the nation last night about our rampant gun violence.   Oh, wait, he only addressed our paranoid nation on the least likely form of gun violence.  But, that’s all one party in this country cares about.

We can’t seem to get a break from putting gun violence into the bin denoting the religion of the shooter.  It’s either terrorism from Mooslim TerroristZ or some crazy dude or black people that deserve to be shot because THUGZ!!.  Those are the bins.  That’s a pretty sad statement on the affairs of state.  You can find the transcript at the White House Website.

To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun.  What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon?  This is a matter of national security.

We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino.  I know there are some who reject any gun safety measures.  But the fact is that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies — no matter how effective they are — cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology.  What we can do — and must do — is make it harder for them to kill.

Next, we should put in place stronger screening for those who come to America without a visa so that we can take a hard look at whether they’ve traveled to warzones.  And we’re working with members of both parties in Congress to do exactly that.

Finally, if Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists.  For over a year, I have ordered our military to take thousands of airstrikes against ISIL targets.  I think it’s time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united, and committed, to this fight.

I still want to have a discussion on why so many Americans feel the need to shoot up the country.  I really could care less about their religion.   One thing I read this weekend that I really would recommend that younrapower4 read is the story of one of the survivors of the Oregon Community College shooter.  Like I said, we don’t need to really look at the religion of the shooter to know the damage it inflicts on our society.  We also know that it’s really difficult to predict and stop rampage shooters after they have access to weapons. We need to spend less time obsessing on the profiles of the shooters because we know there are so many of them now that just knowing who they are is not solving any of these problems.  ISIS-inspired, Police shooting, person with known emotional illnesses or right wing Racist … the out come is the same and their access to weapons remains the same.  There are other systemic things going on in this country we can and must address regardless of the profile of the shooter.

It had been 20 days since the last time Bonnie left Cheyeanne by herself — 20 days since she was shot along with 15 others in a classroom at Umpqua Community College. Nine people were killed that day, adding to the hundreds of Americans who have died in mass shootings in recent years. And seven people were wounded but didn’t die, joining the ever-expanding ranks of mass-shooting survivors. There are thousands of them. Fifty-eight gunshot survivors at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Three at the Washington Navy Yard. One at a church in Charleston, S.C. Nine in Colorado Springs. Twenty-one in San Bernardino, Calif. And seven more in Roseburg, Ore., where Cheyeanne had been sent home from the hospital to a flea-infested rental with reinforced locks and curtains darkening the living room.

A doctor had given her a booklet called “Creating a Safe Space to Recover,” and Bonnie had taken a break from waitressing to become a full-time caregiver. She had turned a $5 garage-sale recliner into Cheyeanne’s hospital bed and posted a sign on their front door: “No loud noises! Please do NOT knock.” She had set her alarm for every four hours to bring Cheyeanne her medicines and anything else that might make her feel safe again. Here came more Percocet to numb the pain and anti-anxieties to ease her panic attacks. Here came her purple blanket, her new puppy and her condolence letter from President Obama. Here came the old Little League baseball bats she wanted nearby for protection and the rifle she had used to kill her first deer.

From the parents of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooter to former Congress woman Gabby Giffords, we have survivors of our own American War Zone.  We have mothers whose sons were gunned down without much thought by the police. We have people who witnessed shootings on Bourbon street on Thanksgiving weekend. We know many people survived the San Bernadino shooters.  All of them stand in testament to the gun culture in the US.  The rest of the world simply does not get how we tolerate such a large body count.

But, we live in a divided country still. The civil war evidently solved very little but slavery in the long run.  Just look at the speech and the reaction to the shootings last week to see how very differently our policy treats the same essential problem.  The victims of the Planned Parenthood shooting have been all but forgotten.  We’re not getting a prime time address to the country on the uptick in attacks on Women’s Health Clinics.

50d1cfece1cc3.preview-620We have a lot of disgruntled, unhappy people that get easy access to guns then take the neighbors, family and co-workers with them when they finally decide to end themselves. The same process happens with the divorced father who goes after his wife and kids as it does with people driven by the inner demons of religious zealotry, bigotry, or mental illness. But, let’s make this all about reasons to bomb another country in the Middle East. Republicans ignore gun violence unless it’s been committed by some one who happens to be Muslim.  Then, we get a witch hunt akin to the 1950s search for communists. This really isn’t our major issue with rampage shooters at all let alone overall gun violence in the US.

While Obama doesn’t say it outright, he appears to be subtly referencing Robert Pape’s influential argument that the great driver of suicide terrorism is not jihadist ideology but occupation. Because Obama, unlike Bush and Rubio, believes the Islamic State is ideologically weak, he thinks America’s current strategy will eventually defeat it unless America commits a large occupying force, which would give the jihadists a massive shot in the arm.

The other unforced error America must avoid, according to Obama, is “letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want.” Because the GOP candidates see violent jihadism as a powerful, seductive ideology, they think that many American Muslims are at risk of becoming terrorists, and thus that the United States must monitor them more aggressively. Because Obama sees violent jihadism as ideologically weak and unattractive, he thinks that few American Muslims will embrace it unless the United States makes them feel like enemies in their own country—which is exactly what Donald Trump risks doing.

Obama is a kind of Fukuyamian. Like Francis Fukuyama, the author of the famed 1989 essay “The End of History,” he believes that powerful, structural forces will lead liberal democracies to triumph over their foes—so long as these democracies don’t do stupid things like persecuting Muslims at home or invading Muslim lands abroad. His Republican opponents, by contrast, believe that powerful and sinister enemies are overwhelming America, either overseas (the Rubio version) or domestically (the Trump version).

Read how our police respond to young black men and tell me that this isn’t a huge problem.   One officer just pulled a gun a shot 12 year old Tamir Rice for having his hands in his pocket based on some hysterical bramhall-world-nra-viewpointwhite person’s 911 call. A huge portion of our citizenry lives in daily fear of the people who are supposed to serve and protect.  Why do we only obsess on one cause that’s not even statistically up there with the causes of death by shootings. Toddlers with easy access to guns statistically do more killing than wild eyed Wahhabi sympathizers.

A 12-year-old boy killed by Cleveland police last year had his hands in his pockets when he was shot and wasn’t reaching for the pellet gun he was carrying, according to an expert hired by the boy’s family to review a frame-by-frame video of the deadly encounter.

Tamir Rice did not have enough time to remove his hands from his pockets before being shot and his hands were not visible to the officer, according to the report released late Friday night by attorneys for Tamir’s family.

The new report and two others from experts already used by the family are the latest analysis of evidence to be released as a grand jury considers whether to bring charges against the officers in Tamir’s death.

The boy was shot after authorities received a report of a man pointing and waving a gun outside a recreation center in November 2014. The rookie officer who fired at Tamir, Timothy Loehmann, told investigators he repeatedly ordered the boy to “show me your hands” then saw him pulling a weapon from his waistband before opening fire.

It turned out Tamir was carrying a nonlethal, airsoft gun that shoots plastic pellets when Loehmann shot him outside the rec center. Tamir died a day later

Previous reports concluded that Loehmann shot Tamir within two seconds of opening his car door. The new analysis determined it happened even faster, within less than a second, according to the review by California-based shooting reconstruction expert Jesse Wobrock.

With the patrol car windows rolled up, Tamir could not have heard commands to show his hands, Wobrock added.

“The scientific analysis and timing involved do not support any claim that there was a meaningful exchange between Officer Loehmann and Tamir Rice, before he was shot,” Wobrock said.

Wobrock said comparing the location of a bullet hole in Tamir’s jacket with the location of the wound on his body indicated that the boy had lifted his arm – with his hand in his pocket – at the moment he was shot.

cg50e6f7a6a967fOne of the things that the press has been obsessing about is the bomb factory in the garage of the San Bernadino shooters.  Where were they when this happened in August?

An upstate New York man who blew his leg off in his garage making improvised explosive devices will be held in federal custody without bail because law enforcement found white supremacist paraphernalia and believe he’s dangerous,WGRZ reports.

Michael O’Neill, 45, a former Niagara County corrections officer, is accused of making seven bombs and was arrested two weeks ago after one of the devices accidentally went off. O’Neill was rushed to a hospital where his leg had to be amputated. He was the only one injured, WGRZ reports.

“Luckily, he is detained,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Alsup told Time Warner Cable News. “He is no longer at large in the community with or without some of the physical disabilities he’s going to have going forward, but luckily for the community, he only hurt himself.”

Pictures of the KKK, Nazi imagery and the Confederate flag were found inside his home, which he lives in with his stepfather, William Ross, who chairs the Niagara County Legislature, WGRZ reports.

Even with his leg now missing, prosecutors believed it would be too risky for the public if O’Neill was released from custody.

The explosives he created contained nails and BB pellets, according to reports. One was labeled “powder with nails.”

His attorney said O’Neill was just planning to blow up some tree stumps.

“The fact that there were some items that we described in court as consistent with, white supremacists, to include the Ku Klux Klan, and the Nazi imagery, some of the verbiage which was particularly on the Nazi picture, also the Confederate battle flag, means that law enforcement has more work to go,” U.S. Attorney William Hochul told TWC News.

O’Neill will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshalls while he recuperates, then will be transferred to a detention facility.

nrameanSo, this dude also got instructions from somewhere on how to build these things.  Why isn’t every one trying to track that down?

We really can’t find out much about the trends in gun violence because of this:  Quietly, Congress extends a ban on CDC research on gun violence.

In the immediate aftermath of the massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, the US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee quietly rejected an amendment that would have allowed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the underlying causes of gun violence.

That has caused strange gyrations in research, such as this November report by the CDC into gun violence that manages not to be about guns.

Though gun violence and gun control has stayed in the forefront of the American conversation in recent months, most recently after Wednesday’s mass killings in a developmental disabilities center in San Bernardino, California, prohibition on gun research goes back decades.

Dr. Fred Rivara, a professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology at the University of Washington at Seattle Children’s Hospital, has been involved with injury research for 30 years. He was part of a team that researched gun violence back in the 1990s and personally saw the chilling effects of the NRA’s lobbying arm. Rivara says that the NRA accused the CDC of trying to use science to promote gun control.

“As a result of that, many, many people stopped doing gun research, [and] the number of publications on firearm violence decreased dramatically,” he told The Takeaway in April. “It was really chilling in terms of our ability to conduct research on this very important problem.”

In 2013, some 34,000 Americans died from gunshot wounds. So Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich decided to ask House Speaker John Boehner why his party is trying to block research on gun violence.

“The CDC is there to look at diseases that need to be dealt with to protect public health,” Boehner said at a press conference last week. “I’m sorry, but a gun is not a disease. Guns don’t kill people — people do. And when people use weapons in a horrible way, we should condemn the actions of the individual and not blame the action on some weapon.”

There are a lot of good reasons to support studying factors that contribute to gun violence. The problem is that there is very little money to do such research and there’s actually bans on it when it comes to federal 129648_600research time and money. This is ridiculous.  This research ban and it’s impact are thankfully back in the news.  I’m going to use the West Virginia newspaper article as an illustration. It includes descriptions of the 2013 moves by Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin to change gun registration laws as well as a discussion on trying to get new research on the root causes of gun violence. It’s an interesting read and it’s from this week.

Since 1996, Congress has barred the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting research on gun violence. That restriction was extended to the National Institutes of Health in 2011.

What do West Virginia’s members of Congress, who represent the state with the 14th highest rate of gun death, think of this ban on research?

Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., supports it.

Jenkins, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, voted in June to continue forbidding the CDC from studying gun violence. The proposal to allow research never got past his committee.

“I will continue to be a strong advocate for protecting West Virginians’ Second Amendment rights,” Jenkins said at the time. “This language has been included since 1996 and for the past two decades, both Democrats and Republicans have been in the majority and both parties have chosen to continue it.”

The rest of West Virginia’s congressional delegation — Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Rep. David McKinley and Rep. Alex Mooney, all Republicans — refused to say this week whether they think federal public health agencies should be allowed to study gun violence.

On Wednesday, the same day that two shooters killed 14 people at a center for the disabled in California, more than 2,000 doctors petitioned Congress to end its prohibition on gun violence research.

“Gun violence is a public health problem that kills 90 Americans a day,” Dr. Alice Chen, the director of Doctors for America, a health care advocacy group, said in a prepared statement. “Physicians believe it’s time to lift this effective ban and fund the research needed to save lives. We urge Congress to put patients over politics to help find solutions to our nation’s gun violence crisis.”

The ban on researching gun violence dates back to 1993, according to a 2013 report by the American Psychological Association.

In 1993, the New England Journal of Medicine published a CDC-funded study called “Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home.”

The study found that guns kept at home didn’t make people safer, in fact it found the opposite.

“Rather than confer protection, guns kept in the home are associated with an increase in the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance,” the study concluded.

The study garnered quite a bit of media attention and the National Rifle Association responded by pushing for the center that funded the study — the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention — to be eliminated, according to the APA report.

Congress didn’t eliminate the center but responded by pulling the CDC’s funding for gun violence research and passing an effective ban on future gun research, according to the APA report. That ban has been continually renewed ever since.

 

It really makes sense to understand the factors that contribute to gun deaths.  This is especially true when we see outsized focus on one small section of the deaths. Can we please have an address to the nation demanding money to study the root causes of gun violence?  The CDC felt so compelled to study this topic that it had to do so by actually avoiding the big questions and the Congressional ban. It’s not that scientists or doctors don’t demand the data.  It’s that politicians don’t want to see it. This particular study focused on Wilmington, DE. and was done through the back door.  Notice that we do, in fact, have an executive order to study it.

On November 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a 14-page report on gun violence in Wilmington, Delaware, a medium-sized city of roughly 70,000 residents that also experiences one of the highest murder rates in the country. To judge by the language in its title — “Elevated Rates of Urban Firearm Violence and Opportunities for Prevention” — the study might seem to have been an overlooked watershed: Despite a 2013 executive order by President Barack Obama to resume research on gun violence, the CDC has adhered to a two-decade-old Congressional restriction that effectively bans such inquiries. Now here was a document suggesting it was tiptoeing back in.

Read through the Wilmington report, though, and you get a different story — one about the strange contortions that result as the CDC seeks to fulfill its public health mission without violating Congress’s orders.

While the new study analyzed Wilmington’s 127 recorded shootings in 2013, it does not address how the perpetrators acquired their weapons, or if attempts to limit access to firearms might lead to a dip in crime. Instead, the Wilmington report outlines already well-established trends and risk factors: that 95 percent of city residents arrested for violent crimes are young men; that a history of violence is a strong predictor for being involved in a firearm-related crime; and that unemployment is often a risk factor for violence. The report concludes that “integrating data systems” across Delaware would allow social service providers to better understand the issue.

If the CDC wasn’t going to consider the role of firearms in Wilmington’s gun crimes, why do the study at all? The answer is in the research’s origins, which lie in a bizarro world of not-actually-about-gun-violence gun violence studies that are an outgrowth of the Congressional ban. “It’s not like the study was initiated by the CDC,” Dr. Linda Degutis, the former director of the center’s national injury center, tells The Trace. “It was a response to a request from the city.”

Specifically, the Wilmington study is a product of the CDC’s “Epi-Aids” program, which assists states and local governments with public health problems through the agency’s Epidemic Intelligence Service division. Because the CDC is under immense political pressure to avoid doing anything that might even appear to “advocate or promote gun control” (in the words of Congress), Epi-Aid requests like Wilmington’s — which revolve around firearm-related public health issues — put the agency in a difficult situation. In a proper epidemiological study, guns themselves would be treated as a risk factor for many types of violence or injury — just as mosquitoes would be treated as a risk factor for contracting malaria, for example. As it is, the agency is confined to rehashing social or environmental factors that have already been thoroughly studied by injury researchers.

“When a health department requests an investigation of something, that’s basically within the CDC’s authorization, because they’re not necessarily saying ‘Let’s do gun violence research.’ They’re saying ‘Let’s figure out what’s going on here,’” says Degutis, who says she left the organization last year in part because she was frustrated with the difficulty of conducting research on gun violence.

139731_600Again, we’re beginning to see smaller journalism outlets and doctors openly discuss this issue.  We can’t possibly have any practical, workable policies if all we have to on our pet political fetishes and the overwhelming presence of a terrorist-enabling lobbying group.  When doing panel research on varying situations, a good researcher never focuses on one variable.  Yet, we continually have public discussions on very few factors that contribute to gun violence.  This is a problem.

On the Wednesday of the shooting in San Bernardino, California, only a few hours before the event took place, doctors went to Capitol Hill asking Congress to end the ban on gun violence research. They presented a petition signed by over 2,000 doctors nationwide, protesting a 1996 ban that prevents the Center For Disease Control from studying gun violence.

The ban was made after a CDC-funded study revealed that having a gun in the home increases the likelihood of homicide and suicide. The NRA convinced Congress that the CDC was using its power to advocate gun control, and Congress quickly cut funding for gun-related research. It wasn’t exactly a ban on all research, per se, but the amendment wasworded in such a confusing and vague way that no one knew for certain what was permitted. This created a climate of fear and intimidation with CDC researchers, where “no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency’s funding to find out” if they could study gun violence. But why would the CDC want to study gun violence, anyway?

Take the time to read some of these links.  I know many of my links today actually go to in depth articles but it’s time to start contacting our congress critters and demanding money to study all of the sources of gun violence.  There are many good statistics and facts in those articles you can use to beef up your letters and calls. We need to look beyond the sources that Republicans find politically expedient.  This means that every time we have a rampage shooter the only thing we hear about our mental health issues and speculation about radical Islamic Wahhabi jihadists.  This is ridiculous and it needs to stop. The only way to stop it is to start pressuring Congress to give us information and not fetishist screeds.  This denigrates the deaths of every toddler shot by another toddler, every black man shot by a police officer, every woman and child shot by a domestic abuser, and the lives of mentally ill people and American Muslims that are blamed for shootings that are a small part of the large picture.  We need information and real policies and no more platitudes.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?