Donald J. Trump is Persona Non Grata at our house

March 5, 2017 at 10:28 pm | Posted in Conceited, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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Detail of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, retouched by Bluszczokrzew .

Detail of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, retouched by Bluszczokrzew .

Donald J. Trump is Persona Non Grata at our house.

We will not welcome him in, nor shake his hand. In fact, we will not let him in. We do not want to see his face – not in person, nor in the news. We do not want to hear his voice, nor his self-serving opinions.

This rejection also applies to John Miller and to John Barron/John Baron, if Trump again lies by pretending to be them, and feeds major newspapers “their” views on Trump, in a bizarre attempt to trick the newspapers into adopting positions favorable to Trump’s ‘brand’. For examples of Trump doing this, see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Yes, the same Donald Trump who claims that every unfavorable news report is fake “news” has tried repeatedly to create fake news.

A national organization should host an online registry where millions of Americans, and millions in other countries, could declare that Trump is persona non grata to them, too.

The hosting organization should not be one like CREDO Action nor MoveOn nor the ACLU, whose positions on other issues are divisive enough to repel many of those who would otherwise sign against Trump.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) would be an ideal hosting organization. (The SPLC’s scope is much wider than its name indicates: it monitors and educates against bigotry and injustice against every ethnic group.)  So would any major environmental organization.

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The Women’s March On Washington Has A Lesson For The March For Science

February 25, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Abuse of Office, Climate change, Disinformation, Enemies of Planet Earth, Global warming, Practical tips | Leave a comment
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Rikugien, a Japanese garden in Tokyo, Japan, photographed by Fg2 on March 29, 2005.

Rikugien, a Japanese garden in Tokyo, Japan, photographed by Fg2 on March 29, 2005.

Next April 22 will be Earth Day.

The March for Science will be on that day.

Scientists – and those who appreciate science – will be demonstrating to remind everyone of how indispensible science is to our understanding of how the world works, and to our ability to survive and thrive.

To survive and thrive we use tools: mental tools – concepts, knowledge (conclusions) and skills – and physical tools.

The demonstrators will be reminding us all that the relentless testing of all of our tools, using testable evidence, is the only way of arriving at conclusions and other tools that are reliable enough to build upon.

Well-tested conclusions and other tools are fruitful even when they are incomplete or approximate. Because tested tools have withstood at least some testing, they carry at least some information, so they contain clues as to improve on them.

From experience, we know that well-tested conclusions and well-tested other tools exist, and are better in the long run than unreliable conclusions and other tools.

A testable and well-tested assertion is worth of being called a fact. An unsupported assertion is not worthy of being called a fact. There is no such thing as an alternative fact. There can be alternative perceptions, but not alternative facts.

That is what the demonstrators desperately want to remind us of, because malignant people are trying to make us forget that hard-earned understanding, and if we do forget it, our future will be as was aptly described by Thomas Hobbes: nasty, brutish and short.

For the March for Science to be all that it can be, it must learn an important lesson from the Women’s March on Washington.

Photo by Mobilus In Mobili of the Women's March on Washington, 21 January 2017

Photo by Mobilus In Mobili of the Women’s March on Washington, 21 January 2017

Ellen McCarthy, Lavanya Ramanathan, Maura Judkis published in the Washington Post an informative account of that event.

But they mis-interpreted one feature of what happened there, and it is exactly that feature that the planners of the March for Science need to understand correctly.

The mis-interpretation occured in these lines in the article:

But the group gathered in Washington, which organizers said topped 500,000, wasn’t an unfettered love fest. As the program of speakers stretched into the third hour, many in the crowd, like penned race horses itching to run, began to chant: “Let us march!”
And resentment brewed as some marchers took off while speakers of color were still standing at the microphone.
“This whole thing is supposed to be about intersectional feminism, and they’re just walking out on speeches,” said Telfer Carpenter, 22, an equity studies major at the University of Toronto who had come in on an overnight bus. “I think the first people to leave were old white women. They left when a Muslim woman was speaking and when a Korean woman was speaking. A mark has been missed.”

I was there, and the crowd’s impatience had nothing to do with who was speaking or with what they were saying.

It had everything to do with it being “the third hour“.

At that point, we no longer cared or even noticed who was speaking. Most of us couldn’t see the stage, so we couldn’t see any ethnic or religious indicators of the speakers.

Most people had been standing since well before the program began: for more than three hours.

We had been happy to hear what the early speakers had said. But now we were saturated. We didn’t want to hear another thing, no matter how pertinent, no matter how interesting it would have been if we had heard it earlier.

That would have been true even if we had been seated and warm. But we were stiff and cold – and most important – the speeches had continued beyond our attention span.

Enthusiastic attendees morphed into disgruntled attendees.

Three hours was just too much. We needed to move. We wanted to march, since that would be how we would have our say. We wanted to shout at the White House, “Lock him up!”, as we so delightedly shouted once we started walking.

It is easy to see why the planners of the March made the mistake of exceeding our attention span.

The planners had wanted to enlist the participation and support of as many organizations as possible.

Each of those organizations wanted to publicize its cause and its views. It wanted time in the limelight for its spokesperson.

The error was in allotting too much time to each of so many speakers.

The organizers of the March for Science will likewise have enlisted many participating organizations.

The guiding principle for any such event should be to have at most an hour and a half of speeches, total.

If that means five minutes per speaker, that will be far better than what happened here. The need to make each statement brief will yield more memorable statements.

View of the Women's March on Washington from the roof of the Voice of America building in Washington, D.C. January 21, 2017 (B. Allen / VOA)

View of the Women’s March on Washington from the roof of the Voice of America building in Washington, D.C. January 21, 2017 (B. Allen / VOA)

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Streep Versus Creep

January 16, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Posted in Conceited, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Fairness, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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Meryl Streep, 16 February 2016, usbotschaftberlin, https://www.flickr.com/photos/usbotschaftberlin/24452956954/

Meryl Streep, 16 February 2016, usbotschaftberlin, https://www.flickr.com/photos/usbotschaftberlin/24452956954/

During the recent Golden Globes ceremony, Meryl Streep described how revolted she had been by Donald Trump’s bullying parody, at a campaign event on November 24, 2015, of Serge Kovaleski, an excellent reporter for the New York Times, who happens to be disabled. An astounding video containing both Trump’s jeering, and Streep’s comment on that jeering, is viewable at the beginning of the online version of Ann Hornaday’s article in the Washington Post about the Golden Globes event. An excellent article by Elahe Izadi and Amy B Wang also contains the video, along with the complete transcript of Meryl Streep’s remarks.

Trump, being Trump, responded by lying, in a tweet, that he hadn’t been jeering at Kovalevski. The video shows clearly that he had been jeering, in exactly the manner of a schoolyard bully. An eye-opening analysis by Glenn Kessler gives the background to Trump’s jeering, and to Trump’s multiple lies about it.

Hornaday notes that Trump’s jeering was “to distract his audience from the fact that Kovaleski caught him in another lie, about Muslim Americans celebrating on Sept. 11, 2001” Glenn Kessler’s article provides abundant evidence confirming Hornaday’s statement. Jeering to distract attention away from Trump’s own lies is a standard Trump tactic.

Hornaday notes that Trump’s tweet also called Steep “an “overrated” actress and “a Hillary flunky””. As was just mentioned, a standard Trump tactic is to smear anyone who points out any of his errors. Another standard Trump tactic is to claim that his critic is an unpopular has-been.

A tweet by a twit,
Who is full of it.
That is, who is full of himself!

Trump’s tweets and his public statements are his way of flailing about against critics, and against inconvenient truths (to use Al Gore’s indispensible phrase).
When Trump senses a threat, verbally he writhes frantically, like a startled snake.

American pipe snake = false coral snake (Anilius scytale).  Photographed 12 December 2007 by DuSantos.

American pipe snake = false coral snake (Anilius scytale). Photographed 12 December 2007 by DuSantos.

Trump flails about because he cannot use logic. He cannot use facts. He has never cared about either logic or facts, so he never learned how to use them.
So Trump has left only bald unsupported assertions.

Trump finds unsupported assertions to be a congenial tool. After all, Trump has a history of pretending to be other people , sometimes “John Miller”, and sometimes “John Barron”. While pretending to be these other people, Trump says about Trump what Trump would like to have had other people say about him. That is a con-man’s tactic.

This is a variant of Trump’s tactic of claiming that un-named “other people say” or “many people say”. Trump ascribes to these invented people the inuendo that Trump wants to plant.

To be charitable about it, Trumps false statements are not always deliberate lies. Sometimes Trump makes an unfounded statement simply because he cannot distinguish how the world is from how he thinks the world ought to be. At any moment, Trump’s idea of how the world ought to be is the same as whatever would have best served Trump’s current purpose. This is a natural confusion for anyone who thinks that the Universe revolves around him. A prime example of this facet of Trump’s fun-house mirror is his habit of asserting that each source that points out his flaws is “failing” or “overated”.

Trump likes to pin disparaging labels on other people to ‘re-frame the discussion’. Sometimes this is simply a smear tactic. At other times, as with Trump’s jeering at Kovalevski, it is a tactic for drawing attention away from a fact or a question that is unfavorable to Trump.
‘Lyin Ted’, ‘Lyin Hillary’ – you get the idea. The smears are rarely founded on fact.

Margaret Sullivan has recently written an incisive overview of Trump’s approach to using lies as a tool.

Since Trump’s labels and tweets are designed to re-direct the conversation, ‘most convenient for Trump’ usually means that Trump’s smears ascribe to Trump’s critics Trump’s own unsavory traits.

A recent example of a different aspect of Trump’s lies is his claim that before his inauguration, Washington DC had run out of inauguration gowns. Trump’s claim was quickly refuted . But Trump didn’t care: he relies on the fact that his original bombastic claim will stick in the mind better than will its later disproof.

When Trump was told about the Putin-authorized spying on him – and the resulting cyber-theft of Trump’s personal and financial data – Trump’s immediate reaction was to deny that it had happenened.

The most charitable way to describe Trump’s tweets and public statements:
Trump gives himself a colonoscopy, and reports what he sees.

Schematic overview of colonoscopy procedure

Schematic overview of colonoscopy procedure

Trump will be the first President in US history to constitute a major security risk.

This is important, so lets consider it further.

Trump finds Putin’s authoritarianism more congenial than the checks and balances of a free society.

Trump doesn’t understand the value of a free society, so he never bothered to understand what is required to sustain a free society.
So Trump does not accept America’s founding ideas.
Trump does not even know what America’s founders sought to accomplish.
Trump mistakenly takes ‘Amass wealth! WIN! WIN!’ to be America’s defining goal.

So Trump does not even know what he should be defending.
That is just part of why he is a security risk.

Trump will be the first President whose loyalty to the United States is questionable.

Trump seems to be more loyal to Putin than to the US. Trump certainly believes Putin more readily than he believes the CIA and the FBI. Trump accepts Putin’s statements immediately, without any scepticism. At first Trump unconditionally rejected the CIA’s and the FBI’s findings – despite the evidence for them. Then he grudgingly accepted some aspects of those findings, again without having any non-subjective basis for rejecting the finding that Putin’s scheme had helped Trump. As Kathleen Parker (a Republican) asks in a valuable op-ed, “Well, didn’t it? Didn’t Trump loudly call upon Russia to hack Clinton’s emails?”  Two valuable op-eds (here and here) by Dana Milbank discuss the bias of Trump and his circle toward Putin.

The only possible conclusion: Trump is more loyal to Trump than to the US.

Trump has no self-control. His fragile self-esteme gives him a thin skin.
When opposed or disparaged he thrashes about defensively.

He deludedly thinks that his gut reactions are better than learning the facts, and are much better than thinking before reacting.

Those are the many other reasons why Trump is a security risk.

Imagine that your job was to vet applicants for security clearances, and to either approve or disapprove their applications.

Would you approve this unstable, flailing Trump?

I wouldn’t.

Trump poses a dilemma for those loyal Americans who are tasked to divulge sensitive information to this flailing buffoon who lacks all self-control.

*

Now consider Trump’s slogan, ‘Make America Great Again’.

Leave aside the fact that both Trump and his followers often twist the slogan into ‘Make America Grate Again’.
Leave aside also that a notable segment of Trump’s followers interpret the slogan as ‘Make America Hate Again’.

Consider instead why America was great in the 1950s and early 1960s, at least for some of its citizens.

At that time, many formerly economically and poltically important countries were still reeling from the physical devastation that had occurred on their soil during the Second World War. Their economies had been destroyed. Their infrastructure had been destroyed. Some countries even had to reconstruct their political structures.

For example, rationing continued in England for many years after the end of the Second World War.

None of those handicaps existed in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Of those four countries, the US had – by far – the largest economy and the largest manufacturing capability.

Our manufacturing and transportation infrastructure had swelled during the war, and our political structure was intact. We were able to supply what the ravaged countries needed to buy.
Few other countries could compete with us in that respect. Many of the other unravaged countries were still colonies, or were economically very undeveloped for other reasons.

In those days, manufacturing required many laborers. Automation was limited. Filling orders, monitoring inventory, keeping records, sending written or oral messages all required human hands. That meant a huge demand for human labor.

Labor couldn’t cross borders easily. Shipping was slow or expensive, and was itself labor-intensive. So the demand for labor was futher concentrated in the few favored locations.

That concentration of advantages will not happen again.
Trump will not be able to produce the job landscape that he promises.

*

There is much discussion these days as to whether respecting the office of the President entails respecting Trump.

Respecting an office means respecting its intended role – its potential contribution to society.

Respecting an office does not entail respecting any particular occupant of that office. Whether a particular occupant earns respect depends upon the occupant’s principles, virtues and weaknesses.

It is impossible to repect the upcoming occupant of the Presidency.

Trump is both creepy, and a creep.

Creepy? Witness Trump’s remarks to Billy Bush. I’ve never encountered a man whose locker-room conversation was as despicable as Trump’s. Trump needs Tic Tacs for the brain.

A creep? Witness Trump’s attempt to boot Vera Coking, an elderly widow in Atlantic City who merely wanted to live the rest of her days in her own home, with its treasured memories. Trump wanted the spot to make more parking for his casino.

Proto-President Creepy Creep,
Sneers at the humaneness of Meryl Streep.

A poseur at charity, secretly selfish and cheap.
Weak self-esteem, hidden by boasts in a heap.

Hidden also by smears that convince only sheep*.
Deceitful disgusting defective Donny The Creep.

A twisted brain, and a heart of ice.
Defective Donny just isn’t nice.

Sad!

Mad!

Bad!

* No insult is intended to bovine sheep, only to human sheep.

On January 20, 2017, President-elect Creepy Creep will become President Creepy Creep.

*

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Defective Trump and Imperfect Hillary

October 17, 2016 at 10:45 am | Posted in Conceited, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Fairness, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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Line art representation of a quill pen. Archives of Pearson Scott Foresman, donated to the Wikimedia Foundation.

Line art representation of a quill pen. Archives of Pearson Scott Foresman, donated to the Wikimedia Foundation.

Hillary Clinton is an ordinary fibber, like you and me.

Trump is not an ordinary liar. Trump is a psychopathic liar.

Here is the evidence.

We are polite to people we don’t like. We invent a reason why we “can’t” accept an invitation. Again and again, we tell our children a suitably sanitized version of the truth about something. We tell a garishly dressed friend that they look good. “No, it doesn’t make you look fat.” A minister warmly greets a secretly less-liked member of the congregation. A teacher responds to an annoying question by saying “that is a good question”. An elected official enthusiatically welcomes a disliked constituent. A server in a restaurant, a sales person in a store, … The list is endless.

Probably no one can go through live without telling many fibs – at least, no one who keeps friends and a job. And that is true even in open societies, where saying what you believe would not lead to imprisonment or death.

Everyone who wants to influence policy and public life must fib.

George Washington understood that slavery was evil and unjust, and undermined the political principles he fought for. He and some of his friends brainstormed ways of ending slavery, and in his will he freed all of the slaves that he personally owned. (He could not legally free the slaves owned by his wife.) But Washington knew that he could not express his view openly, if he were to deal effectively with what were then the most pressing issues that he faced.

Lincoln likewise. Hence the limited position he took during his first Presidential campaign, and hence also the delay in issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, and its incomplete coverage.

FDR favored Britain and France over Hitler before the US entered the Second World War, but he could not say so, given the isolationist (indeed, Trumpian) mood in the US before we were attacked.

Lyndon Johnson favored increased fairness toward African Americans well before he was able to act upon his views. He urged the leaders of the Civil Rights movement to increase the poltical pressure on him, to provide him political cover while still leaving him politically effective.

By the way, these examples show the hypocrisy of those who fault Hillary for not always expressing her long term political goals out loud.

That brings us back to Trump.

Trump is not an ordinary liar. Trump is a psychopathic liar.

Trump lies as easily as he breathes, without guilt, with conviction. That is what distinguishes a psychopathic liar from an ordinary fibber.

Psychopathic lying is an essential trait of all great con men, since a person who does not feel guilty comes across as more convincing.

Trump might even really believe his own lies. Since Trump avoids the effort of critical thinking, he may unconciously and automatically swivel his beliefs to whatever would be convenient for him at the moment.

Of course you know about Trump’s lying birtherism, and his more recent lie that Hillary started birtherism.

You know about the many recent disproofs of Trump’s claim that no one respects women more than he does.

You probably remember how, during the second debate with Hillary, Trump attempted to immediately change the subject to ISIS.

You know about how Trump continues to deny that he favored the Iraq War, despite the videos that disprove his claim.

You might know that Trump is a champion earner of Four Pinnochios from Glen Kessler’s fact-checking columns in the Washington Post.

But that Trump is a psychopathic con-man is spectacularly proved by the multiple incidents in which he called newspapers, pretending to be someone else who was telling the newspaper about Trump.

Look at the following, which were found via this:

1. Donald Trump’s ‘John Miller’ interview is even crazier than you think …
May 16, 2016 – The name Trump assumed varied slightly — “John Miller,” John Barron,” and “John Baron” — but the goal didn’t: Tout Trump as a hyper-cool, …

2. Donald Trump masqueraded as publicist to brag about himself – The …
May 13, 2016 – The man on the phone vigorously defending Donald Trump says he’s a media spokesman named John Miller, but then he says, “I’m sort of new …

3. John Oliver – Donald Trump and John Miller – YouTube
May 16, 2016 – Uploaded by consumer
From HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. … Mix – John Oliver – Donald Trump and John …

4. Donald Trump and the “John Miller” Tape: A Question of Character …
The New Yorker
May 13, 2016 – John Cassidy on the newly surfaced recording from the nineties in which Donald Trump apparently poses as his own spokesman.

5. Miller Time: Donald Trump Lied that he was ‘John Miller’ To Spread …
May 14, 2016 – When [People magazine’s] reporter called Trump’s office for an explanation, she was told that John Miller had gone home and that Trump …

Trump pretended that someone else said about Trump precisely what Trump wanted said about Trump.

That is a con.

That is just like a scammer who calls you up to tell you that your licence to the operating system on your computer has expired, or that your computer is full of malware that they will remove if you turn over complete control of your computer to them.

Doesn’t Trump’s masquerade remind you of Trump’s distinctive trick of claiming that un-named other people are saying what he would like said about one event or issue after another?

One of Trump’s many lies is that Hillary Clinton is a bigger liar than the rest of us. Trying to pin the label of liar on his competitors had been a theme of Trump’s campaign in the primaries. Now, in the general election, he is trying to pin it on Hillary. But Trump lies much more often than Hillary, and his lies are far more dangerous.

Even if Trump does believe his own lies, some part of his brain is uneasy about them.
That is probably why ‘liar’ is his favorite insult, and is why he uses it so promiscuously.


The present post should be regarded as part of what will be a series of replies to common but misguided assertions that Trump has tried to implant in the public’s discussion of the candidates for President. In particular, many of these assertions were usefully collected together in Greg Tag’s comment on the previous post, How to Vote Against Trump . These assertions implicitly rest upon Trump’s lie that Hillary Clinton is a bigger liar than the rest of us.


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How to Vote Against Trump

September 27, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Posted in Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Fairness, Presidential election | 3 Comments
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Twice the impact.  Created 2016-09-26 by thepoliblog.WordPress.com.

Twice the impact. Created 2016-09-26 by thepoliblog.WordPress.com.

 

How can you best fight against Trump?

How can you best protect

  • the country,
  • freedom of speech,
  • political freedom here and world-wide,
  • innocent persons,
  • human fairness,
  • the US Treasury,
  • the human world,
  • and the natural world,

against the damage that each of those would suffer if Mussolini-like Trump became President?

Some of the voters who are revolted by Trump are planning to vote against Trump without voting for Hillary.

They are planning to vote against Trump by voting for the Green candidate, or are planning to vote for the Libertarian candidate.

But a vote for anyone other than Hillary is only half a vote against Trump.

Here is why.

Although voting for one of the spoiler candidates doesn’t increase Trump’s tally, it also doesn’t increase his opponent’s tally. It has zero effect on the comparison of their two tallys, which is the comparison that will determine who becomes President.

A vote for Hillary doesn’t increase Trump’s tally by 1, but also does increase Hillary’s tally by 1.
That increases the difference between Hillary’s tally and Trump’s tally by 2 units.
That is two blows against Trump.

A vote for the Green or for the Libertarian candidate doesn’t increase Trump’s tally by 1, but that is only half the effect on the difference between Hillary’s tally and Trump’s tally that would be produced by a vote for Hillary.

Remember what happened when Ralph Nader acted (unintentionally) as a spoiler against Gore.

How did that turn out?


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Questions that Moderators Should Ask Trump in the Presidential Election Debates

September 19, 2016 at 3:27 pm | Posted in Conceited, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Presidential election | 2 Comments
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The Presidential Election Debate on September 26 will be moderated by Lester Holt,

Lester Holt, Sept. 25, 2012, before departing Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

Lester Holt, Sept. 25, 2012, before departing Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

that on October 9 will be moderated by Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper,

Martha Raddatz interviews John W. Miller, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces, 24 September 2014.

Martha Raddatz interviews John W. Miller, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces, 24 September 2014.

Anderson Cooper at Tulane University, 14 May 2010 . By Tulane Public Relations (Anderson Cooper & Tim Clinton) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Anderson Cooper at Tulane University, 14 May 2010 . By Tulane Public Relations (Anderson Cooper & Tim Clinton) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

and that on October 19 will be moderated by Chris Wallace.

Chris Wallace in Washington, D.C., February 23, 2010. Photo by Jim Greenhill from Arlington and Durango, USA - 100223-A-3715G-168 .

Chris Wallace in Washington, D.C., February 23, 2010
Photo by Jim Greenhill from Arlington and Durango, USA – 100223-A-3715G-168 .

Here are three questions that every moderator of a Presidential Debate should ask Trump.

Why hasn’t Trump released those of his tax forms that are not being audited?
If they will be released, when?


Trump admires Putin.
Putin supports Assad, the dictator of Syria.
Does Trump support Assad?

Trump admires Putin’s way of controlling Russia, and of suppressing dissent.
Putin’s techniques are completely contrary to the US Consititution.
Which of Putin’s techniques would Trump adopt, and which would he reject?

A moderator who does not ask these questions is not exercising due diligence.

An addendum to this post:

Mr. Trump, you have expressed your approval of the forcefulness of so many dictators:
– Putin;
– the Chinese Communist Party, for its brutal suppression in June 1989 of the demonstrating students in Beijing and in other cities;
– Kim Jong Un .
Please name the dictators – present (such as Assad) or historical (such as Saddam Hussein) – whose forcefulness you don’t approve. How do the dictators you do approve differ from those you don’t approve?

Mr. Trump, an op-ed by defense and intelligence experts Michael Morell and Mike Vickers says that “At the Comander-in-Chief Forum on Sept. 7, you [Trump] said that as long as Putin says nice things about you, you will say nice things about him.” If we were back in the 1930s, would you have said “As long as Hitler says nice things about me, I’ll say nice things about him”? After all, Hitler would have liked your isolationism, so he would indeed have said nice things about you.

Fact: Of all of the dictators, past and present, Trump most resembles Mussolini.

 

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The Koch Conspiracy to Subvert American Democracy

January 29, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Posted in Dysfunctional Politics, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Global warming, Judicial Misjudgment, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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David H. Koch in 2007, as cropped and rotated from a photo by freddthompson

David H. Koch in 2007, as cropped and rotated from a photo taken by freddthompson

The remarkable new book, ‘Dark Money’, by Jane Mayer, shows that a many-fingered long-lasting conspiracy by very wealthy, very greedy, very defensive individuals, underlies much of what has degraded and coarsened American political life over the past two and a half decades.

The conspiracy was instigated by Charles and David Koch.

The conspiracy is driven by the self interest of Charles and David Koch and their co-conspirators. They all rationalize it to themselves as the defense of liberty – but only of those liberties that benefit themselves.

It is a conspiracy to subvert American democracy. Jane Mayer shows that it was started when Charles Koch concluded that he couldn’t achieve his goals via the open political process.

Prominent members of this group are (quoting from Mayer’s page 4) “Richard Mellon Scaife, an heir to the Mellon banking and Gulf oil fortunes; Harry and Lynde Bradley, midwesterners enriched by defense contracts; John M. Olin, a chemical and munitions company titan; the Coors brewing family of Colorado; and the DeVos family of Michigan, founders of the Amway marketing empire.”

Their convocations impose utmost secrecy: no mobile phones, no notes, no audio or video recording. The eleborate precautions are described on page 9 of Jane Mayer’s book.

That it is a conspiracy is proven by its secrecy.

Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have been speakers at these meetings.

Were Scalia and Thomas paid to speak? How much?

Was their air travel and lodging reimbursed, or paid directly by the meeting’s sponsors? Almost certainly.

Scalia’s and Thomas’ attitudes on issues that were likely to come before the Supreme Court may have been influenced by those at the secret meetings at which they spoke. But more likely, they were invited to speak, and agreed to speak, because they were known to already favor plutocracy over democracy.

In turn, that almost certainly influenced how they voted when the Supreme Court was reaching its decision on Citizens United.

The Supreme Court’s majority decision on Citizens United enabled wealthy donors and the executives and board members of wealthy corporations to have much more influence – per person – on elections and on elected officials, than do ordinary citizens such as you and I. As a result, PACs became prominent. A PAC is not supposed to coordinate in any way with the candidate it supports, but news stories too numerous to count cite direct contacts and indirect signalling between candidates and ‘their’ PACs (yes, that is how some of the PACs are described in news stories), and there is much transfer of personnel between the campaign staff and the PAC and vice versa. PACs provide an effective way of influencing political outcomes, and are one of the Koch conspiracy’s major tools. No more ‘significant political say for each active citizen’. The political voice of a  director of a PAC, of a lobbyist or of a politician who has an affiliated PAC, or of a wealthy individual, a corporate executive, or a member of a corporate board that contributes importantly to a PAC, is much louder than the voice of any ordinary citizen. This has seriously corrupted American political life, and has greatly attenuated poltical democracy.

Because of – or as evidenced by – their participation in these secret meetings, Scalia and Thomas were biased, and should have recused themselves from the decision on Citizens United.

If asked, Scalia and Thomas might claim that they attended and spoke as private citizens, that they were merely speaking for themselves, exercising their Constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and of speech.

As private citizens? Hah! No one believes that for a moment.

By virtue of their special status, Justices of the Supreme Court are always seen – accurately or inaccurately – as reflecting upon the Supreme Court when they speak on any topic having political ramifications.

By virtue of their special status, Justices of the Supreme Court receive special treatment at airports. Unless their hosts proved travel in a private airplane, both Scalia and Thomas probably availed themselves of that special treatment in their flights to and from these Koch-sponsored events.  Private citizens do not receive this special treatment.

Doesn’t the Supreme Court issue guidelines on the out-of-court activities of its Justices?

Federal employees receive such guidelines, to reduce as much as possible both impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

Common sense says:

Attendance and giving a speech at a public meeting is proper for a Supreme Court Justice, as long as that attendance is not subsidised nor paid for.

Attendance at secret meeting is proper for a Supreme Court Justice, as long as the meeting is within the premises of the Supreme Court, and includes all of the Justices.

It is not proper for a Justice of the Supreme Court to attend and speak at a secret meeting on political policy, outside of the Supreme Court, and probably without even the knowledge and assent of all of the other Justices.

Two Justices of the Supreme Court committed a serious breech of ethics, casting great doubt upon their impartiality.

You can thank the Koch conspiracy for that.


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Was Donald Trump Born in the US?

June 25, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Conceited, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Global warming, Presidential election | 5 Comments
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Trump Sr. at Citizens United Freedom Summit in Greenville South Carolina May 2015, photo by Michael Vadon.

Trump Sr. at Citizens United Freedom Summit in Greenville South Carolina May 2015, photo by Michael Vadon.

Donald Trump recently announced that he is running to become the next President.

This is the same Donald Trump who refused to accept the abundant evidence that Barack Obama was born in the US, and that Obama’s Presidency was therefore legitimate according to paragraph 5 of Section 1 of Article II of the Constitution of the United states of America.

This is the same Donald Trump who insisted that President Obama publish a validated copy of his birth certificate.

Billboard challenging the validity of Barack Obama's birth certificate. The billboard is located in South Gate, and photo was taken on November 12, 2010.

Billboard challenging the validity of Barack Obama’s birth certificate. The billboard is located in South Gate, and photo was taken on November 12, 2010.

Barack Obama's long form birth certificate, from the State of Hawaii Department of Health

Barack Obama’s long form birth certificate, from the State of Hawaii Department of Health.

This is the same Donald Trump who wasted so much of his own time and attention, and that of the public, by being the last prominent ‘birther’ to refuse to accept the abundant solid evidence about the place of Obama’s birth. This is the same Donald Trump who ensured that time and energy and newsprint and bandwidth would continue to be wasted on what was generally acknowledged to be a refuted claim.

This is the same Donald Trump who selected himself to stand in the schoolhouse door, in what everyone knew would be a futile attempt to block Obama’s path.

Is this Donald Trump eligible to be President?

Is the energy and time – his own and the public’s – that Trump expended on this silly charade, an indication of how he would allocate his attention and the nation’s resources, if he became President?

He was smart enough to know that it was a charade, wasn’t he?

If he did, then his wasting of our time and energy was so egregious that it was unpatriotic.
If he didn’t, then he is unfit to be an executive of anything.

I cannot believe that he was stupid enough to fall for the birther wishful thinking.

Therefore he had chosen self-promotion over the welfare of the country.

That is unpatriotic enough to make us wonder, was Donald Trump born in the USA?

At Trump’s every campaign appearance, demand to see his birth certificate.

Demand that he publish a certified copy.

—————————————–Trump’s Approval of Putin

Michael Gerson recently reviewed lesser known aspects of Trump’s political history.

The review contained a bombshell: Donald Trump’s approval of Putin, the most destructive tyrant of Russia since Stalin. Gerson’s column says of Trump:

The defects of democracy, in this view, are remedied by the strongman. It is not a coincidence that Trump expresses admiration for Vladimir Putin. “He’s doing a great job,” says Trump, “in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia, period.”

Official portrait of Vladimir Putin (2006). This file comes from the website of the President of the Russian Federation and is copyrighted.

Official portrait of Vladimir Putin (2006). This file comes from the website of the President of the Russian Federation and is copyrighted.

Putin: the person who derailed Russia’s transition to becoming a fair and open society, governed by the rule of law, instead of by the convenience of a mafia.

Putin: the mugger who robbed Crimea from Ukraine because Ukraine had overturned Putin’s protogee Viktor Yanukovych. Putin: who subsequently manufactured a surprisingly well equipped military separatist movement in eastern Ukraine that has triggered a new cold war.

Somehow Trump forgot to mention his admiration of Putin while announcing his candidacy.

After all, the voters deserve to know about each candidate’s role models.

Is someone who approves of Putin fit to be President?

At Trump’s every campaign appearance, ask him about his approval of Putin.

At every interview, ask Trump about his approval of Putin.

Donald Trump:

320x480.DonaldTrump.May2015.UpsideDown

A birther, who wasted everyone’s time by pretending that a dead issue was still alive, solely to draw attention to himself.

An admirer of Vladimir Putin’s approach to governing.

This post can be summarized in three words: Trump Tramples Truth!

Your comments are welcome.
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Cuccinelli and Future Flood Damage in Virginia

August 28, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Posted in Abuse of Office, Enemies of Planet Earth, Global warming | Leave a comment
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Flooding of Crisfield, Maryland by Hurricane Sandy.  Photo taken on 30 October 2012 by the Maryland National Guard, Uploaded by Dough4872 .

Flooding of Crisfield, Maryland by Hurricane Sandy. Photo taken on 30 October 2012 by the Maryland National Guard, Uploaded by Dough4872 .

The drumbeat of news items carries a message that we can no longer avoid hearing.  Rising sea levels, vanishing ice, wild fires, extreme storms.  The climate is changing with unnatural speed.  Human activity is warming our planet.  For recent examples, see here and here .

Tidewater Virginia will suffer greatly: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Newport News, and Hampton.  So will many other parts of Virginia.

Aerial views during an Army search and rescue mission show damage from Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast, Oct. 30, 2012. The soldiers are assigned to the 1-150 Assault Helicopter Battalion, New Jersey Army National Guard. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen.

Aerial views during an Army search and rescue mission show damage from Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast, Oct. 30, 2012. The soldiers are assigned to the 1-150 Assault Helicopter Battalion, New Jersey Army National Guard. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen.

This is pertinent because Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli are competing to be the next Governor of Virginia.

Creepy Cuccinelli’s record on climate change is not based on evidence.  He believes only what he wants to hear.  He believes only what it is politically convenient for him to hear.  He is James Inhofe east.

If he had been interested in evidence, he would not have tried to bully and discredit Michael Mann, a climate scientist who was then at the University of Virginia.

If Cuccinelli had been interested in evidence, he would not – Putin like – have tried to intimidate the scientific community.

If Cuccinelli had been interested in evidence, he would have protected the freedom of academic inquiry, instead of trying to squelch it.

(These attempts by Cuccinelli to earn political brownie points earned him the adjective ‘Creepy’ in front of his name.)

The data now confirm what climate scientists had calculated:  global warming will cause sea levels to rise, thereby flooding some coastal areas year round, and also increasing hurricane damage to nearby areas that aren’t permanently flooded.

Inevitably:

In Virginia Beach, in Norfolk, in Newport News and in Hampton, everyone’s insurance will go up.

In Virginia Beach, in Norfolk, in Newport News and in Hampton, everyone’s property values will go down.

Damage from Hurrican Sandy in Wyncote, Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, USA, photographed by Peetlesnumber1 .

Damage from Hurrican Sandy in Wyncote, Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, USA, photographed by Peetlesnumber1 .

In Virginia Beach, in Norfolk, in Newport News and in Hampton, the interest rates on new mortgages will rise, to cover the increased risk to the lender.

In Virginia Beach, in Norfolk, in Newport News and in Hampton, more houses and commercial buildings will be flooded by storms, and more will be wrecked.
More farmland will be ruined.  More cars will be ruined.

Flooding in Marblehead, Massachusetts, caused by Hurricane Sandy, photographed 29 October 2012 by the Birkes.

Flooding in Marblehead, Massachusetts, caused by Hurricane Sandy, photographed 29 October 2012 by the Birkes.

In Virginia Beach, in Norfolk, in Newport News and in Hampton, more people and animals will die or be injured by storms.

Damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast photographed during a search and rescue mission by 1-150 Assault Helicopter Battalion, New Jersey Army National Guard, Oct. 30, 2012. (This appears to be Casino Pier, Seaside Heights, New Jersey.)  Photographed by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen/U.S. Air Force/New Jersey National Guard.

Damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast photographed during a search and rescue mission by 1-150 Assault Helicopter Battalion, New Jersey Army National Guard, Oct. 30, 2012. (This appears to be Casino Pier, Seaside Heights, New Jersey.) Photographed by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen/U.S. Air Force/New Jersey National Guard.

The same is true for Chesapeake and for Suffolk.

The same is true for Chincoteague and for Wallops, for Smith Island and for all of the islands that extend north east of it.  If the ponies on Chincoteague could vote, they would be well advised to vote against Cuccinelli.

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge (Delaware) experienced extensive flooding during Hurricane Sandy. This photo shows a before and after of the beach between the Prime Hook Beach community and Slaughter Beach, 2 November 2012. Credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge (Delaware) experienced extensive flooding during Hurricane Sandy. This photo shows a before and after of the beach between the Prime Hook Beach community and Slaughter Beach, 2 November 2012. Credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The same is true for all of Accomack and Northampton, and westward across the bay to Gloucester, Lancaster, and Northumberland.

Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown are on low ground in Virginia’s Tidewater.  They are vulnerable to damage by storms.  Irreplaceable historical sites and objects may be irretrievably lost.

New Jersey National Guard Soldiers assist displaced residents at the town of Hoboken Oct. 31. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joseph Davis/Released). Source: New Jersey National Guard, Uploaded by Dough4872 .

New Jersey National Guard Soldiers assist displaced residents at the town of Hoboken Oct. 31. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joseph Davis/Released). Source: New Jersey National Guard, Uploaded by Dough4872 .

Rivers swollen by a low-moving hurricane could flood Westmoreland, including Stratford Hall Plantation, and also the birthplace of George Washington.  They could innundate Colonial Beach, Dahlgren, and Quantico.  Flooding can reach well inland.

Flooding isn’t global warming’s only threat to lives and livelihoods in Virginia.  The increase in fires is now obvious.  In fact, for the second year in a row, the Federal budget for fighting wildfires hasn’t been sufficient.  Extreme drought is also more likely.  So agriculture everywhere in Virginia will be under stress.

A California wildfire, photographed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

A California wildfire, photographed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Sheep on a drought-affected paddock near Uranquinty, photographed 14 February 2009 by Bidgee.

Sheep on a drought-affected paddock near Uranquinty, photographed 14 February 2009 by Bidgee.

Much of that will happen now no matter what, because we have waited so long to temper global warming.

But it will be much worse if there is further delay.

If Ken Cuccinelli becomes Governor, further delay is guaranteed.
Ken Cuccinelli is willfully blind to the effects of global warming.
He has backed himself into a political corner.
He would lose face if he admitted that global warming is real and poses real threats.
Rather than pay the political price of that admission, Cuccinelli would prefer to have Tidewater Virginia end up looking like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Of the two candidates for Governor of Virginia, only Terry McAuliffe would have Virginia prepare to mitigate the damage that will undoubtedly be caused by climate change.

Maybe that is why the Virginia Association of Realtors endorsed Terry McAuliffe rather than Cuccinelli.  Tempering the effects of global warming would reduce the damage to property values from flooding.

You cannot boost Virginia’s economy in the long term by increasing the vulnerability of homes, businesses and agricultural land to destruction by flooding.  (Also, the Editors of the Washington Post found that Cuccinelli’s plans for boosting the economy were based on fuzzy math.)

If you live in Virginia, voting for Cuccinelli would be voting against your own future.  Your lives and health and health are at stake.  So are those of your children, pets and livestock.  So is the value of your property – your house, land, business, and car.  And so are the historic sites at which we refresh our knowledge of who we are.

More than coastal Virginia is threatened by global warming.  Agriculture is threatened everywhere in the state.

Anyone wanting to protect their future should ask Cuccinelli about his past and present views on climate change, and about his attempts to bully Michael Mann and the climate science community.

 

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Republicans versus Reepos

August 17, 2012 at 8:06 am | Posted in Climate change, Disinformation, Dysfunctional Politics, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Fairness, Global warming | 1 Comment
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I used to vote mostly for Republicans.

I contributed to the campaign of our local Representative, a thoughtful Republican who considered each issue on its merits, was pragmatic rather than ideological, and did not toe any party line.

The 1994 Contract With America delighted me.  (Does anyone remember it?)

But then the Republican Party zombified itself.  The change became noticeable in 1994.

Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert, and their ilk elevated ideology and party loyalty over pragmatic choices.  They sneered at compromise and bi-partisanship, as if they had a monopoly on truth.  Their policy was to stay on message, never revising their positions, regardless of the facts.  Thus they became rationalizers for what would benefit the rich, and purveyors of disinformation.

They ignored the data on climate change.  They saw no need to protect the public against unsafe food, or unscrupulous financiers.  They forgot the great economic lesson of the 20th Century: that an economy can grow stably and generate abundant jobs only when income is widely distributed, so that the many have the means to buy.  They systematically sought to dismantle labor unions.

They became ethically and politically repulsive.  They were no longer Republicans.  They had become Reepos.

The Grand Old Party became instead the Greedy Old Pricks.

Perhaps it would be more polite to replace GOP by POG, for Party of Greed.

The GOP complains about class warfare, but the only class warfare right now is that waged by the Reepos against everyone else.

I grudgingly realized that however much I liked the work done by my local Representative, as long as my Representative was a Republican, that person would have to vote for a dishonorable Speaker of the House.

It is even worse now.

After President Obama’s election, the leading Republicans in the Senate and House said out loud that they would do everything possible to make Obama a one-term President.  They would vote against anything that Obama and other Democrats proposed, regardless of its merits.  In other words, party took priority over patriotism.  For the sake of attacking President Obama, they opposed the very features of his health care plan that he had learned from them.  The elected Republicans became the Party of No, the party of obstruction, the party of no compromise.

Opposition to even the possibility of compromise is un-American, because it is contrary to the goal of an open society, which is the most fundamental principle of the original United States.  An open society was the goal because of its greatest strength, which is the self-correcting ability it derives from give and take, loyal dissent, and compromise, rather than winner-take-all.

The Republican party has lost its previous understanding that a large and growing middle class was essential, both economically and for political stability, that robber barons are bad, that capitalism has to be regulated for its own good, and that – as the Founders so clearly understood – essential functions that benefit all must be funded by all, via the government, and therefore that government and taxes are indispensible.

What the Republican Party has become fulfills George Washington’s worst fears about what partisanship would do to the country.  In his Farewell Address  (December 19, 1796) Washington said that partisanship “serves always to distract the Public Councils and enfeeble the Public administration. It agitates the Community with ill founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against the other, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.”  That accurately describes us, today.  (As for the last phrase in that quote, think of the right wing demogogues on TV, and how their message affects racial purists and the unstable.)

I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, “Not a Republican”.  But the old Republicans were honorable and contributed beneficially to the civic dialog.  “Not A Reepo” would have more accurately represented the thought underlying the bumper sticker.

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