Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
At Least 110 Republican Leaders Won’t Vote for Donald Trump. Here’s When They Reached Their Breaking Point.
The NY Times has an excellent timeline of the Trump campaign, showing in chronological order what he said (on one side of the line) and when various Republicans spoke out against Trump (on the other). It shows at just what point responsible Republicans decided that Trump had gone beyond the pale.
Needless to say, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, George P. Bush, Marco Rubio do not show up: they are standing with Trump and endorse and support his candidacy. Rubio is a special case, though: when he was running he thought Trump was awful, but when he decided to run again for Senate (a position that barely interested him before), he thinks Trump is great. Rubio seems to have absolutely no convictions of his own. He reminds me of a New Yorker cartoon years ago that depicted a statue in a park of a politician, who’s pointing the direction to go. The statue is mounted on its pedestal free to rotate as a wind vane.
Pam Martens and Russ Martens report in Wall Street on Parade:
Mavi Ramierez is a Mom, a social media entrepreneur and a dedicated citizen journalist who took a day off from work to cover the first hearing on August 23 in the Federal lawsuit that has been filed by Senator Bernie Sanders’ supporters against the Democratic National Committee and its former Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The lawsuit, which currently has more than 100 plaintiffs and more than a thousand in the wings with retainer agreements, is charging the DNC with fraud, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive conduct, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence.
Leaked DNC documents and emails by Guccifer 2.0 and Wikileaks show Wasserman Schultz disparaging the Sanders’ campaign while key DNC officials actually plotted to sabotage the Sanders’ campaign by putting the word out that he is an atheist (which Sanders says he is not) and characterizing his campaign as “a mess.” From a virtual unknown on the national stage, Sanders’ campaign won 23 states in the primaries, raised over $228 million, predominantly from average Americans, and held rallies that ranged from 5,000 to more than 20,000 supporters while Clinton attracted hundreds. Sanders’ supporters are demanding this court case to determine if the intentional sabotage by the DNC cost Sanders’ his primary battle.
Since mainstream media has failed to report on this first court hearing, the interviews conducted by Mavi Ramierez outside the Federal courthouse last Tuesday take on added significance. Ramierez interviewed the Sanders’ supporters and attorney for plaintiffs as they emerged from the hearing. But throughout these interviews, there was a constant, annoying, and distracting honking coming from an SUV parked on the sidewalk. One gutsy interviewee, who goes by the Facebook name of Jessica Rose Grfl, strolled down to the SUV, peered inside, and tells the videographer that this is an unmanned vehicle. The honking appears to be by remote control. Ramierez and her videographer move closer to the SUV and show viewers that it is from the Federal Protective Service of the Department of Homeland Security. ( Go to -31:00 on the video.)
The head of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, is an Obama nominee. Johnson has spun four times through the revolving doors of the corporate/Wall Street law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to work in either the Bill Clinton or Obama administration. Johnson was a bundler for Obama in his 2008 campaign and personally donated $28,460 to the Obama Victory Fund and another $28,460 to the DNC in 2008, according to Federal Election Commission data.
Clearly, Johnson is a big Obama fan and Obama is a big Debbie Wasserman Schultz fan. In June, Politico’s Hanna Trudo reported that Obama appeared at a DNC fundraiser in Miami and told the crowd the following about Wasserman Schultz: “She’s had my back, I want to make sure we have her back.” . . .
It would be a logical—and, I think, effective—way to respond to the Kremlin’s embrace of widespread disinformation campaigns. Such campaigns work only if people do not have the thinking skills that enable them to analyze, research, seek disconfirming evidence, evaluate findings, and judge what they read. If people in general do have good critical-thinking skills, such campaigns not only don’t work, they become a serious liability because they are widely exposed.
And if you want people in general to have the skills, the most straightforward and cost-efficient course is to include the teaching of those skills as part of the regular curriculum. The schools are going to be teaching, in any case; they can just include these skills among whatever else they are teaching—that is, strands would be introduced in every subject area, teaching one to use the skills in the contexts of (say) science, history, civics, literature, and so on. The skills are useful in all subject areas, but of course the problem comes when the skills are applied to anything like American history (as Howard Zinn discovered). In particular, when critical thinking skills are applied to how we are governed, what businesses are doing (an EpiPen in Canada costs less than $12), what is happening to the environment and why—well, it can get uncomfortable for those in power. And what good is power if you don’t use it?
So I don’t think there’s any likelihood that our schools in generall will seriously teach critical thinking skills (using, for example, curricular materials developed by Edward de Bono) or even particularly encourage them: more trouble than it’s worth.
Still, seeing disinformation used as a weapon might draw attention to the most logical and cost-effective countermeasure.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Don’t get your hopes up.
Lael Henterley reports in the Seattle Times:
Cedric Smith learned that a warrant for his arrest had been issued when he was turned down for an apartment.
The warrant connected back to a pending low-level assault charge stemming from a complaint made after a drunk woman tried to barge into his apartment but was blocked by the door, and he was confident the case would be dropped as soon as he explained the circumstances. Smith took a day off work at K2 Sports and headed to Seattle Municipal Court to resolve the warrant. He expected he’d be given another court date—after all, he’d shown up to take care of this on his own free will.
The judge set Smith’s bail at $10,000; he went from the courtroom to the ninth floor of the King County Detention Center to await his next court date. Smith, who was employed and had some money saved, thought he’d be able to put up $1,000 and bond out. But the bail-bond agency said he lacked the collateral to secure his release. After 10 days the court offered Smith time served in exchange for a guilty plea, but he refused. He sat in jail and waited until, 41 days later, his case was dismissed.
When Smith went into court at the beginning of the ordeal, his life was as stable as it had ever been. He had a full-time job, a stable place to live, and the means to support himself. After his release, he found himself back on food stamps and struggling just to make it to the next day.
Smith isn’t the only low-level defendant whose life has been turned upside down because he was accused of a crime. A 2015 study by the Seattle Municipal Court’s Research, Planning and Evaluation Group found that in 2014, 31 percent of in-custody defendants charged with misdemeanors in Seattle Municipal Court—the busiest court in Washington—ended up waiting for their next court date in jail because they couldn’t come up with the cash to secure the freedom they’re supposedly entitled to until found guilty. While there, they lose jobs, homes, children, and dignity.
This isn’t how bail is supposed to work in Washington. State law mandates a presumption of release in all but capital cases. All pretrial defendants should be released on their promise to show up for court unless a judge determines a person is likely to fail to appear in court, commit a violent crime, tamper with witnesses, or obstruct justice. When conditions are imposed to guarantee appearance at future court dates, the law says they should be the least restrictive conditions necessary. Electronic home monitoring, day reporting, and community court are all far less restrictive than incarceration, but only 11 percent of those arraigned in custody at Seattle Municipal Court are assigned to specialty courts or less-restrictive supervision. Instead, judges are quick to assign bail, even in cases where defendants don’t have the means to pay $50, let alone $10,000, creating a two-tiered justice system.
“The system is flawed when people with money can afford to bail out who might actually be a danger to the community and poor people can’t afford to get out on a simple misdemeanor trespass charge,” says Twyla Carter of the King County Department of Public Defense. . .
Glenn Greenwald reports in The Intercept:
As the numerous and obvious ethical conflicts surrounding the Clinton Foundation receive more media scrutiny, the tactic of Clinton-loyal journalists is to highlight the charitable work done by the foundation, and then insinuate — or even outright state — that anyone raising these questions is opposed to its charity. James Carville announced that those who criticize the foundation are “going to hell.” Other Clinton loyalists insinuated that Clinton Foundation critics are indifferent to the lives of HIV-positive babies or are anti-gay bigots.
That the Clinton Foundation has done some good work is beyond dispute. But that fact has exactly nothing to do with the profound ethical problems and corruption threats raised by the way its funds have been raised. Hillary Clinton was America’s chief diplomat, and tyrannical regimes such as the Saudis and Qataris jointly donated tens of millions of dollars to an organization run by her family and operated in its name, one whose works has been a prominent feature of her public persona. That extremely valuable opportunity to curry favor with the Clintons, and to secure access to them, continues as she runs for president.
The claim that this is all just about trying to help people in need should not even pass a laugh test, let alone rational scrutiny. To see how true that is, just look at who some of the biggest donors are. Although it did not give while she was secretary of state, the Saudi regime by itself has donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation, with donations coming as late as 2014, as she prepared her presidential run. A group called “Friends of Saudi Arabia,” co-founded “by a Saudi Prince,” gave an additional amount between $1 million and $5 million. The Clinton Foundation says that between $1 million and $5 million was also donated by“the State of Qatar,” the United Arab Emirates, and the government of Brunei. “The State of Kuwait” has donated between $5 million and $10 million.
Theoretically, one could say that these regimes — among the most repressive and regressive in the world — are donating because they deeply believe in the charitable work of the Clinton Foundation and want to help those in need. Is there a single person on the planet who actually believes this? Is Clinton loyalty really so strong that people are going to argue with a straight face that the reason the Saudi, Qatari, Kuwaiti and Emirates regimes donated large amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation is because those regimes simply want to help the foundation achieve its magnanimous goals?
Here’s one of the Clinton Foundation’s principal objectives; decide for yourself if its tyrannical donors are acting with the motive of advancing that charitable goal: . . .
Michael Rosenblum writes in the Huffington Post:
Donald Trump is going to be elected president.
The American people voted for him a long time ago.
They voted for him when The History Channel went from showing documentaries about the Second World War to Pawn Stars and Swamp People.
They voted for him when The Discovery Channel went from showing Lost Treasures of the Yangtze Valley to Naked and Afraid.
They voted for him when The Learning Channel moved from something you could learn from to My 600 Pound Life.
They voted for him when CBS went from airing Harvest of Shame to airing Big Brother.
These networks didn’t make these programming changes by accident. They were responding to what the American people actually wanted. And what they wanted was Naked and Afraid and Duck Dynasty.
The polls may show that Donald Trump is losing to Hillary Clinton, but don’t you believe those polls. When the AC Nielsen Company selects a new Nielsen family, they disregard the new family’s results for the first three months. The reason: when they feel they are being monitored, people lie about what they are watching. In the first three months, knowing they are being watched, they will tune into PBS. But over time they get tired of pretending. Then it is back to The Kardashians.
The same goes for people who are being asked by pollsters for whom they are voting. They will not say Donald Trump. It is too embarrassing. But the truth is, they like Trump. He is just like their favorite shows on TV.
Trump’s replacement of Paul Manafort with Breitbart’s Steve Bannon shows that Trump understands how Americans actually think. They think TV. They think ratings. They think entertainment.
We are a TV based culture. We have been for some time now. The average American spends 5 hours a day, every day, watching TV. After sleep, it is our number one activity.
More shockingly, we spend 8.5 hours a day staring at screens – phones, tablets, computers. And more and more of the content on those devices is also video and TV.
If you spend 5 to 8 hours a day, every day, for years and years doing the same thing it has an impact on you. For the past 40 years we have devoted 5 to 8 hours a day staring at a screen – every day. And we haven’t been watching Judy Woodruff. We have been watching Reality TV shows. That is what we love. That is what we resonate to. The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
The French may love food, the Italians may love opera. What we love is TV. We are TV culture. It defines who we are.
In the 1950s, early television was allowed, with many restrictions, to be an observational guest at political conventions. . .
Felix Salmon has an interesting piece in Fusion:
It’s a narrative we’ve seen dozens of times. First, Donald Trump says something completely beyond the pale, whether it’s about a Gold Star family or assassinating the president; then mainstream Republicans feel the need to repudiate what he said, to distance themselves from the crazy.
By engaging with Trump’s ideas, however, they effectively ratify them. Concepts which used to be unthinkable—like, say, banning all Muslims from entering the country—are now debated on prime-time TV as issues on which politicians differ.
This process is known as widening the Overton Window, and Trump has done it better than any American politician in living memory. He has singlehandedly sidelined elite legislators and media barons as the arbiters of acceptable conversation. As a result, we now live in a world where a major-party presidential nominee is happy to sound indistinguishable from an insurrectionist gun nut at a Texas barbecue after a few beers.
In doing so, Trump and his kin have effectively rotated the axis upon which we place political candidates.
For generations, politicians have been viewed on a left-right spectrum, according to their policy positions. Now, however, they’re placed on a different spectrum entirely. At one end you find the sanguine technocrats of the old elite; at the other, the angry revolutionaries with no time for constitutional niceties.
Call this second group the “chaos monkeys,” the political outsiders who have no interest in mainstream policy debates. They tend to be deeply attractive to a huge and disillusioned “lol nothing matters” crowd, and often their egomania drives them to thirst for ever-greater power.
Vladimir Putin is a chaos monkey. So is Rodrigo Duterte, the newly elected president of the Philippines. And then there are the comedians – people like Beppe Grillo, in Italy, or Boris Johnson, in the UK, who catapult themselves into politics by force of little more than name recognition and an outsider attitude.
Chaos monkeys thrive in a world of social media, where messages aren’t intermediated by media elites and where a struggling middle class, which has seen little in the way of real economic gains in decades, has never found it easier to vent its frustrations.
Trump is the platonic ideal of the chaos monkey form: he has an enviable ability to capture the inchoate frustration of the 99% and turn it into something which can dominate the national political discourse, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else.
And that’s a huge problem. When a chaos monkey is in the race, he tends to render invisible severe and important policy distinctions. Trump is a very different beast from conventional politicians, but in order to see the difference, you need to look at him from a very different angle—an angle which renders everybody else more or less indistinguishable.
As a result, when people talk about Trump, it doesn’t matter whether they support him or oppose him. Either way, they end up clustering everybody else—Clinton and Romney and Obama and all of the many Bushes, and basically any politician you can remember from more than a year ago—into an “establishment” bundle at one end of the spectrum.
On this new axis, differences between left and right no longer matter. Or, at any rate, they don’t matter nearly as much as the differences between intellectually coherent, on the one hand, and dangerously unpredictable, on the other.
In Trumpworld, it doesn’t matter that . . .