Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bernie Sanders' speech on Israel, Trump and anti-Semitism at J Street Conference

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

Today I gave a speech about the decades-long conflict in the Middle East, which has taken so much from so many. Nobody gains when Israel spends an enormous part of its budget on the military. Nobody gains when Gaza is obliterated and thousands are killed, wounded, or made homeless. Nobody gains when children are trained to be suicide bombers. Nobody gains when year after year, decade after decade, the talk is about war and hatred rather than peace and development.

Please take a moment to read my full remarks on this important subject.

READ IN FULL: Bernie Sanders' speech on Israel, Trump and anti-Semitism at J Street Conference
Bernie Sanders' full speech to the J Street 2017 conference.

New York Magazine: President Trump: ‘Nobody Knew Health Care Could Be So Complicated’

Remember when Donald Trump made it seem like he would easily repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare)? Well, most of us knew that wouldn't happen and now it looks like the President knows this as well. New York Magazine reports:

"If there’s one thing almost everybody across the political spectrum knows about health-care reform, it’s that it’s really hard. People who study the issue closely know it. People who don’t follow the issue know. (That’s why lots of smart people don’t follow the issue closely — it’s really hard!) But there is apparently a category of people who did not realize until very recently that the issue is hard, and that category consists of Donald J. Trump, who told reporters today, 'It’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.'"

Actually everybody knew that. But not knowing it was the thing that held together his impossible promises.
By Jonathan Chait

USA Today: Trump on 'New York Times': 'The intent is so evil and so bad'

President Donald Trump wants you to know that the only truth will come from him, and nobody else.

Robert Reichs comment:

In an interview wth Brietbart News . . . Trump said he doesn’t consider all media the "enemy of the American people” or “the opposition party” or “fake news.” He’s referring only to the major television networks (NBC, ABC and CBS), CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. "If you read The New York Times, it’s — the intent is so evil and so bad," Trump said. "The stories are wrong in many cases, but it’s the overall intent."

Trump wants the public to consider Brietbart, Fox News, and other right-wing outlets the sources of truth. This is part of the Trump-Bannon strategy to discredit all criticism of Trump and, ultimately, undermine the public's faith in any authority other than Trump. This is the essence of authoritarianism.

The president continued to hammer the "fake media" in an interview with Breitbart News.

New York Times: Trump to Seek $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending

President Donald Trump has not a clue about the nature of today’s conflicts the U.S. Armed Forces face or will face in the future. His vision is the military of World War II, Vietnam, and Dessert Storm, with huge ground, sea, and air forces all engaged to win a glorious victory over the enemy. That is why he claims, “The state of the military is a ‘disaster,’ it is ‘depleted,’ and as president he will ‘rebuild’ it. Put simply, Mr. Trump wants to add more troops and ships and planes.”

In today’s environment “ . . . America fights its current wars with drones and smart bombs, it ‘employs’ far fewer men then during WWII. It is a different world.”

Who knows—this dangerous man may have visions of basking in the glory of a wartime President of a victorious nation.

Here are two views worth considering:

Robert Reich:

Trump’s plan to increase military spending by $54 billion next year makes no sense. U.S. military spending is already huge, larger than the 7 next largest national military budgets put together.

He has no idea why this money is necessary anyway, because he has no foreign intelligence. He's dumped on the U.S. intelligence agencies, downgraded the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Intelligence Agency, and put Steve Bannon on the National Security Council principals committee.

Dan Rather

Let me begin by making it clear that you never met anyone who has more respect for the American military. And I long have been a strong believer in military preparedness; a believer that we had better be ready to fight because we may have to.

With that as prelude, however, I respectfully and humbly submit the following:

The United States became the most powerful nation in the history of the world in part because of our military might, but not entirely, not even nearly.

The news being floated of President Donald Trump's budget priorities represent a misunderstanding of the nature of the threats we face. The press reports say it is going to be a huge increase in "national security." $54 billion to be exact to the military, with that money being offset by deep cuts in other government functions..

But this runs the risk of being a dangerously narrow view of "national security." In my mind, and I believe the historic record will show, national security can also be measured in a strong economy and an educated population. It can be measured in protecting ourselves from disease and pushing the boundaries of science. It can be measured with vigilant and intelligent law enforcement, protections of our civil rights, housing for the poor, and robust innovations in agriculture and energy. The announcement of deep cuts to the already minuscule budget of foreign aid makes for a talking point with worrisome consequences.

I believe in a strong and well-resourced military. But wise government is about making choices. These are often difficult choices. There is only so much money to go around. In the choices announced here I do not see wisdom. I believe we will be a less safe, less prosperous, less fair nation if they are allowed to go forward. At the very least there should be careful, measured debate about our priorities, with the goal of reaching a national consensus. This is too important for something created in chaos and hurriedly rammed through on a foundation of rhetoric.

Always supportive of the troops-Crowds in Macon
 welcome back 200 members of the
Georgia National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
returning from Afghanistan September 2014.
Credit: David Goldman AP
By Michael d. Shear and Jennifer Steinhauer
FULL EVENT: President Donald Trump Speech at CPAC 2017 (2/24/2017) Donald Trump Live CPAC

Monday, February 27, 2017


“A determined plutocrat and a brilliant media strategist can, and have, found a way to mold journalism to their own ends”

Robert Reich:

Hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and Trump strategist Steve Bannon have been working with Cambridge Analytica to change the way Americans think. Their strategy includes:

1. A database of almost the entire US voting population, showing, on the basis of their Twitter and Facebook accounts, what motivates each person.

2. Automated “bots” programmed on Twitter to act like people, to change the conversation, and to make topics trend. Before the U.S. election, such bots were five-to-one in favor of Trump.

3. Artificial intelligence that can measure every reaction to every word uttered, and phone messages to maximize their impact.

4. Eventually replacing existing media with sites such as Breitbart and with websites that displace mainstream sources of news and information, like CNSnews.com. Rightwing sites are already dominating sites like YouTube and Google, bound tightly together by millions of links.

5. Using supercomputers to dig up source material Google can’t find. This, Bannon explained, is how they “weaponise” the narrative they want, launching it straight on to the front page of the mainstream media, and diverting the attention of the news cycle.

6. “Strategic drowning” of other messages with the right timing and focus of controversial messages. With the rest of the media cattered, separate, and competing with each other, they can be being picked off like targets in a shooting gallery.

“Politics is war,” said Steve Bannon last year in the Wall Street Journal. And increasingly this looks to be true.

We must fight back. But if we use the same high-tech tools, what happens to the truth? To democracy?

Carole Cadwalladr:

“Many of the techniques were refined in Russia, he says 
[Oxford Internet Institute’s Unit for Computational Propaganda Director Phil Howard], and then exported everywhere else. ‘You have these incredible propaganda tools developed in an authoritarian regime moving into a free market economy with a complete regulatory vacuum. What you get is a firestorm.’

“This is the world we enter every day, on our laptops and our smartphones. It has become a battleground where the ambitions of nation states and ideologues are being fought – using us. We are the bounty: our social media feeds; our conversations; our hearts and minds. Our votes. Bots influence trending topics and trending topics have a powerful effect on algorithms, Woolley, explains, on Twitter, on Google, on Facebook. Know how to manipulate information structure and you can manipulate reality.

“We’re not quite in the alternative reality where the actual news has become ‘FAKE news!!!’ But we’re almost there. Out on Twitter, the new transnational battleground for the future, someone I follow tweets a quote by Marshall McLuhan, the great information theorist of the 60s. ‘World War III will be a guerrilla information war,’ it says. ‘With no divisions between military and civilian participation.’

“By that definition we’re already there.”

 Robert Mercer in New York in 2014.
Photograph: DDP USA/Rex Shutterstock

Washington Post: Bannon’s dangerous ‘deconstruction’

Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are a menace to our country. If strong action is not taken soon, they will destroy the good of our country. With Republicans now a congressional majority, and who are apparently complicit in the destruction, it's absolutely horrifying to think they just might get away with it.

E.J. Dionne, Jr.:

"In practice, this is a war on a century’s worth of work to keep our air and water clean; our food, drugs and workplaces safe; the rights of employees protected; and the marketplace fair and unrigged. It’s one thing to make regulations more efficient and no more intrusive than necessary. It’s another to say that all the structures of democratic government designed to protect our citizens from the abuses of concentrated private power should be swept away.

"It’s a very strange moment. Trump and Bannon are happy to expand the reach of the state when it comes to policing, immigration enforcement, executive-branch meddling in the work of investigative agencies, and the browbeating of individual companies that offend the president in one way or another. The parts of government they want to dismantle are those that stand on the side of citizens against powerful interests.

"In his CPAC presentation, Bannon accused Trump’s foes of being '[corporatist.' But, in the truest sense of the word, the real corporatists are in the White House."

White House Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon
speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference
on Feb. 23. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Bannon’s Dangerous

By E.J. Dionne Jr.

The Register-Guard: Merkley and DeFazio rally in Eugene to defend the Affordable Care Act

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio takes questions from the public during
a town hall gathering at Lane Community College in Eugene Ore.,
on Saturday, February 25, 2017. (Collin Andrew/The Register-Guard)
Across the United States, at rallies and town hall meetings, Americans’ are publicly denouncing President Trump’s plan, in cahoots with congressional Republicans, to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. So far, they have not come up with a healthcare replacement plan.

In Oregon, about 2,000 people rallied to hear Democrats Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Peter DeFazio speak. Their message was resist President Trump and the Republicans. Merkley asked “are y’all ready to join the fight?” Activist displayed messages such as “Reject Republicans,” “Save my Life,” and “Healthcare is Not a Luxury.”

Here’s what U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has to say:

“The resistance grows. Tens of thousands of people came out this week at 152 rallies in 120 congressional districts from Eugene, Oregon, to Providence, Rhode Island. The message to Trump and the Republicans is clear: Do not repeal the Affordable Care Act. Improve it. Do not throw 20 million people off of health care. Do not allow insurance companies to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions. Do not remove young people from their parents' insurance policies. Do not force women to pay more than men for health care. Do not ask seniors to pay, on average, $2,000 a year more for prescription drugs. Our job: Short term we must defend and improve the Affordable Care Act. Long term, we must have the United States join the rest of the industrialized world in guaranteeing health care for every man, woman and child through a Medicare for All program.”

 Merkley and DeFazio rally in Eugene to defend the Affordable Care Act
At a sunny Saturday rally in Eugene that drew about 2,000 people, two Democratic members of Oregon’s congressional delegation promised to battle President…

Juan Cole: Spurned Reporters should dump Trump Briefings, turn to Investigative Journalism

This morning on my newsfeed came a TomDispatch posting of a Juan Cole piece regarding how journalist should treat Trump’s declaration that the press produces ‘fake news’ and is the enemy of the people.


“Here's the sort of headline [Press pool left in darkness as Trump dines at his hotel] that makes you wish the media would simply forget about its imperial presidency style of coverage of Trump and his administration: "Press pool left in darkness as Trump dines at his hotel." Hey, miss dinner! Send those reporters to do something useful like real reporting. It's the point Juan Cole makes today in his latest column!” Tom

Here's a snippet but please read the article.

Juan Cole:

"So here’s to Trump excluding virtually all the newspapers and cable channels. Let him. Go get the scoops he doesn’t want you to have.

"Someone (probably not George Orwell) once said, ‘News is something somebody doesn’t want printed; all else is advertising.’ Whoever said it, truer words were never spoken.

"We need less advertising (or ‘public relations’ in some versions), and a helluva lot more journalism these days."

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | - - Donald Trump was unhappy Saturday that the major media had neglected …


Sunday, February 26, 2017


Hidden Figures is up for three Academy Awards tonight. After Bill Moyers saw the film, he reflected on its relevance in the current political climate. Relevant specifically to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who seems to be intent on bringing us back to our very dark past.

Bill Moyers

“Benign in manner, soft of voice but hard at the core, Jeff Sessions is the perfect figurehead for the resurgent white nationalists who now aim not to make history but reverse it — by a hundred years or more if they can. This is the man to whom Donald Trump is handing the enforcement of our laws from civil and voting rights to environmental protection, antitrust enforcement, housing, employment and all the rest.
“Expect new laws but little justice, and be vigilant as America’s shadows become ever more crowded with hidden figures of every shade.”

A scene from the film Hidden Figures. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

The ‘Hidden Figures’ Jeff Sessions Wants to Keep in the Shadows


 “A new poll gauging the public's feelings on the ongoing battle over healthcare finds continued displeasure with the current policy direction, but near record positive impressions of the Affordable Care Act.”

Their displeasure has shown itself repeatedly at recent Republican held town hall meetings where congressional Republicans have been met with rowdy resistance to their plan to repeal AFC/Obamacare. According to the WashingtonPost, Republicans have been cancelling town hall meetings rather than face audiences upset that they may soon lose their health insurance.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders:

"If you don't have the guts to face your constituents, you shouldn't be in the United States Congress. If you need police at the town hall meetings, that's fine, have police at the meetings, have security at the meetings. But don't use that as an excuse to run away from your constituents after you support repealing the Affordable Care Act, doing away with protections for pre-existing conditions. If you're going to do all those things, answer the questions your constituents have.

“There's a reason why Republicans don't want to face their constituents at town hall meetings. As they play politics with people's lives and move forward with repealing Obamacare, which would throw 20 million people off of health care, the number of Americans who view Obamacare favorably is almost a record high. To Republicans I say: Do your job. Listen to your constituents. This is not what the people want.”



Credit: Getty Images
National Security Advisor Lt. General H.R. McMaster breaks with President Trump’s anti-Muslim ideology. Newly appointed McMaster told his staff that the label ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ is not helpful because terrorist are un-Islamic.’

“That is a repudiation of the language regularly used by both the president and General McMaster’s predecessor, Michael T. Flynn, who resigned last week after admitting that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about a phone call with a Russian diplomat.

“It is also a sign that General McMaster, a veteran of the Iraq war known for his sense of history and independent streak, might move the council away from the ideologically charged views of Mr. Flynn, who was also a three-star Army general before retiring.”

Independence and differing from President Trump’s racial view, at least as far as Muslims are concerned, are good, and hopefully a productive move forward.

© Al Drago/The New York Times
President Trump appointed Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, left,
 as national security adviser on Monday.

H.R. McMaster Breaks With Administration on Views of Islam

New York Times: Barring the White House Press Corps From the White House

"It’s tempting to take Friday’s petty decision by the Trump White House to bar certain news organizations from a briefing — something no administration of either party has ever done — as a backhanded compliment to the reporters whose honest work provoked the president’s latest foot-stamping tantrum.”

Yep, Donald T went after the media big time again yesterday, while his press spokesman barred some outlets including the New York Times from a briefing, a first. (Times editorial below.) But you know, this is hardly a catastrophe. In some ways (in my opinion), much of the media would be far better off if their complete operations inside the White House, hanging on every word and twitch there, were dismantled and they had to start reporting on the present nightmare from the rest of the world, our world, instead. Much of the media edifice in Washington has long been, in its own way, part and parcel of how our governmental world operates. A shake-up won't hurt this mind-numbing process at all. — TomDispatch

Chicago Tribune: Federal agents move woman awaiting emergency surgery at Texas hospital to detention site

Federal agents forcibly moved a critically ill woman from El Salvador who was awaiting emergency surgery for a brain tumor from a Texas hospital to a detention center, because she was undocumented. Sara Beltran-Hernandez, 26, a mother of two young children, was bound by her hands and feet and removed by wheelchair from Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth late Wednesday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who brought her to a detention facility in Alvarado, Texas.

"As we speak today, immigration officials are finding the gang members, the drug dealers and the criminal aliens and throwing them the hell out of our country. And we will not let them back in," Trump said. "They're not coming back in folks."

They’re doing much more. By unleashing immigration agents, Trump has made any unauthorized immigrant fair game, regardless of circumstance
This is cruel and unnecessary. America is better than this writes Robert Reich.

Federal agents move woman awaiting emergency surgery at Texas hospital to detention site

Saturday, February 25, 2017

GQ: Jeff Sessions Is Already Proving That He's Exactly as Monstrous as We Thought

President Donald Trump intends to crack down on state legalized recreational marijuana, which is not legal under federal law, even though he said while campaigning that he thought the legalization of marijuana should be a state-by-state issue. “That's a reversal from the Obama administration's stance, which laid out in an official memo that the federal government wouldn't interfere in states where nonmedical use of marijuana is allowed.”

With his new Attorney General Jeff Sessions in place, the conditions are ripe for Trump to make his move for enforcement of federal marijuana laws.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been antagonistic toward marijuana legalization for a long time. Sessions has made such nonsensical remarks as he thought the Ku Klux Klan “were okay until I found out they smoked pot,” and “good people don’t smoke pot.” He has called marijuana reform “a tragic mistake.”

It’s interesting that Trump and the Republican Party preach small
government and states’ rights except when it comes to rights of individuals to make personal choices.

“There goes the libertarian wing of the GOP – into the thicket of bans on personal behavior, not only marijuana but transgender kids using chosen bathrooms, others buying condoms, women getting contraceptive advice, a few getting legal (as opposed to illegal and dangerous) abortions.

“We’ve been here before. It’s the same old grizzly rural puritan Republicans, of whom Sessions is one. But there will be fights with states that do embrace libertarian principles, like California. Therein will lie some of the most fascinating legal dramas to come,” says Robert Reich.

Jeff Sessions Is Already Proving That He's Exactly as Monstrous as We Thought

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Trump Administration Rescinds Obama Order Ending Use of Private Prisons

The Justice Department will once again use private prisons to house federal inmates, reversing an Obama-era directive to stop using the facilities. We can expect the trend to privatization of health care, social services, education, and other government institutions, agencies and services to continue. This is not making America great.

Here are comments from Robert Reich, Dan Rather’s News and Guts, and Bernie Sanders.

Robert Reich

In a memo released yesterday, the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, r. Not surprisingly, the stock prices of the corporations running most private prisons in this country soared today. Corecivic (formerly known as, Corrections Corp. Of America) and Geo Group Inc. reached record highs.

It should be obvious that the profits pocketed by the executives and shareholders of private prisons represent taxpayer money not spent on prisons. The so-called “market” for private prisons doesn’t function. Unlike consumers, who can hold companies accountable for lousy performance by switching their dollars to competitors, prisoners and taxpayers have no such option – prisoners, because they’re literally captive; taxpayers, because they have no idea how prisoners are being treated or mistreated.

Sessions is proving he’s every bit as horrible as we had expected. And this is just the start.

Bernie Sanders on the Rowdy Republican Town Meeting Confrontations

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders — US Senator for Vermont

"If you don't have the guts to face your constituents, you shouldn't be in the United States Congress. If you need police at the town hall meetings, that's fine, have police at the meetings, have security at the meetings. But don't use that as an excuse to run away from your constituents after you support repealing the Affordable Care Act, doing away with protections for pre-existing conditions. If you're going to do all those things, answer the questions your constituents have."

The Washington Post: Making America great again apparently includes Cold War-era nuclear dominance

Just one more indication President Donald Trump is dangerous. Moreover his actions are in violation of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons treaty, as well as the New START agreement.

Robert Reich is correct. The number of nuclear weapons is inconsequential when any nuclear-armed country can obliterate another “with a small fraction of their current arsenals.”

Robert Reich writes:

Today Trump declared that the United States has “fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity,” and placed some of the blame for this on the 2010 New START agreement, signed by President Barack Obama and aimed at further reducing the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the United States. Trump said it was “another bad deal that the country made.”

“If countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack,” he added.

Hello? The United States has an arsenal of about 6,800 nuclear weapons to Russia’s 7,000. That 200 nuke difference is of no consequence. Being “at the top of the pack” is meaningless when either can obliterate the other (and, along the way, make the planet uninhabitable) with a small fraction of their current arsenals. (The next most heavily equipped nation is France, with 300).

But Trump doesn’t care about the facts. He cares only about being “on top of the pack,” even if that means abandoning an agreement to reduce both Russia’s and America’s stockpiles. It’s Trump’s approach in general. Making America “great” means making us bigger and better than anyone else.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Trump’s Immigration Order Enables DHS To Increase Immigration Deportation, Increases Number Of Immigration And Border Patrol Agents

Under President Trump’s new immigration order issued Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security is given the authority to detain and deport and undocumented person even if they don’t have a criminal record. It also significantly increases the number of immigration enforcement agents.

Here is Robert Reich's
take on the situation:

The 14th Amendment of the Constitution bars government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

The hell with it, says Trump.

The Department of Homeland Security has just empowered immigration authorities to:

1. Automatically deport anyone who can’t prove they’ve been in the country for more than two years. Proof doesn't require a court hearing.

2. Jail suspected criminal immigrants, without a court hearing.

3. Deport parents and other adults who are accused of helping children enter the U.S. illegally. An accusation will do.

4. Jail people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. Just being a suspect is enough to land you in the clinker. No court hearing is required.

5. Deputize local law enforcers to help federal authorities do all this. (What happens to "sanctuary" cities and states?)

So how will immigration authorities target people? The color of their skin? Their accents? Their names?

Is this America?

HS Says Immigration Authorities Can Deport Pretty Much Any Undocumented Person

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Every Day Is a Good Day Because Of Big Government Regulations

Published  by the DailyKos sometime in 2004, published again in 2012, offers a day’s look at what all of us take for granted.

A Day in the Life of Joe Republican

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards.

With his first swallow of coffee, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day.

He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.

If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It's noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FDIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country.

He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home.

His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Conservatives have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day.

Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

big-government liberals, A Day in the Life of Joe Republican, Government Regulations

Because Of Donald Trump, I'm Not Proud of My Country

The man who occupies the White House is a deplorable human being. He is a contradiction to all the values I hold dear, and the values I always thought were Americas’ values.

Today, because of Donald Trump, I'm not proud of my country. I cannot be proud of my country “where the government, in my name, is doing” things like President Trump.

Simon Anholt, before the Trumpian era, asked the question in a Ted Talk in Berlin 2014 "Is that what a good country would do? And if the answer is no, be very suspicious. Ask yourself, is that the behavior of my country? Do I want to come from a country where the government, in my name, is doing things like that. Or do I, on the other hand, prefer walking around the world with my head held high thinking, 'Yeah, I'm proud to come from a good country?' And everybody will welcome you."

Anholt,  an independent policy advisor  to  Heads of State and Government to help them engage more productively and imaginatively with the rest of the world, in his talk made several salient points that are worth considering:

1. Humanity is capable of achieving extraordinary progress if it really acts together and it really tries hard.

2. Globalization has taken us by surprise and we've been slow to respond to it. In a nutshell, that's the challenge that we all face today at this interesting point in history. We've somehow got to get our act together and we've got to figure out how to globalize the solutions better.

3. Countries depend enormously on their reputations in order to survive and prosper in the world.

4. The kinds of countries we prefer are good countries. We primarily admire countries that are good, countries that seem to contribute something to the world in which we live, countries that actually make the world safer or better or richer or fairer. This is a discovery of significant importance.

5. Governments need to do good in order to do well. If you want sell more products, if you want to get more investment, if you want to become more competitive, then you need to start behaving because that's why people will respect you and do business with you; and therefore, the more you collaborate, the more competitive you become.

6. No country on earth per capita, per dollar of GDP, contributes more to the world that we live in than Ireland.

7. In the depths of a very severe economic recession, there's a really important lesson there that if you could remember your international obligations once you are trying to re-build your own economy that's really something.

8. Kenya is in the top 30 and that demonstrates one very, very important thing: this is not about money, this is about attitude, this is about culture, this is about a government and a people that care about the rest of world and have the imagination and the courage to think outwards instead thinking selfishly.

Here is the full transcript of Anholt’s Ted Talk: Which country does the most good for the world?

Here is the full video:

Sunday, February 19, 2017

‘Sweden? Terror Attack? What Has Trump Been Smoking?’

President Donald Trump doesn’t know how to tell the truth. No one should ever believe anything he says. If something reports a story that is contrary to what he says, it’s fake news. Those who believe Trump will allow him to do whatever he wants.

He said at a rally in Florida, “You look at what's happening in Germany. You look at what's happening last night in Sweden.

"Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers [referring to refugees]. They're having problems like they never thought possible."

The Swedish embassy in Washington has asked the U.S. State Department for an explanation, according to Reuters, the New York Times, and other major news sources.

“In an essay in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter, the journalist Martin Gelin speculated that ‘Trump might have gotten his news from the countless right-wing media in the United States that have long been reporting that Sweden is heading for total collapse.’

“He added, ‘Among Trump supporters, there are common myths that Sweden is in a state of chaos after taking in refugees from the Middle East. These are incorrect, made up and gravely misleading news items like this have spread to right-wing sites like Breitbart, Human Events, Drudge Report and Fox News, as well as the popular conservative radio programs that reach millions of listeners every day.”

Here is Robert Reich’s post:

“During his rally last night in Florida, Trump tried to justify his policy of no more Syrian refugees by ticking off a list of places that have been hit by terrorists: ‘You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden! They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening in Brussels. You look at what’s happening all over the world. Take a look at Nice. Take a look at Paris. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.’

“More lies.

1. “Nothing has happened in Sweden. Not Friday, Friday night, or Saturday. The Swedish daily Aftonbladet compiled a list of noteworthy things that happened on Friday; they included a drunken-driving arrest and ‘some technical problems’ during 87-year-old crooner Owe Thörnqvist’s rehearsal prior to the Melodifestivalen song competition.

“It seems that Trump, in the grand tradition of the ‘Bowling Green Massacre,’ invented a terrorist attack allegedly committed by immigrants. ‘Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?’ tweeted Carl Bildt, former Swedish prime minister.

2. “Nearly all of the men involved in terrorist assaults in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, in Brussels on March 22 last year, and in Nice, France, on July 14, were citizens of France or Belgium. They weren’t Syrian refugees.

“Trump’s big lies aren’t innocent, and they aren’t without consequence. Americans who believe Trump will allow him to do whatever he wants.”

Senator Bernie Sanders: “If everything said about Trump, a pathological liar, is ‘fake news,’ then who will give us ‘the truth?’”

President Donald Trump Is A Dictator, He Has Known No Other Way

Republican Senator John McCain responded to President Donald Trump’s tweet that the press is the “enemy of the American People” on NBC’s “Meet the Press.

President Donald Trump’s attacks on the press echo the language of dictators, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said,” warning the nation to heed lessons of history.

“I hate the press. I hate you especially. "But the fact is we need you. We need a free press. We must have it. It's vital. If you want to preserve – I'm very serious now – if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time . . . McCain told Chuck Todd

“They get started by suppressing free press. In other words, a consolidation of power when you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. And I'm not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I'm just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.”

McCain may be being careful with his language, but nevertheless he’s wrong. Trump is trying to be a dictator. That’s what it is to be a Chief Executive Officers (CEO) or Corporate President, centralizing control through autocratic authority. Trump has known no other way. They rule by controlling oversight within a strict hierarchical structure. There is no democracy in the workplace. CEOs do control press releases and do control what subordinates can or cannot say to the media. He knows he cannot do it through a directive, but he can intimidate the press and those who do not support him.

From the New York Times:

“. . .  the muzzling starts, not with a boot on your neck, but with the fear of one that runs so deep that you muzzle yourself.

“Maybe it’s the story you decide against doing because it’s liable to provoke a press-bullying president to put the power of his office behind his attempt to destroy your reputation by falsely calling your journalism “fake.”

“Maybe it’s the line you hold back from your script or your article because it could trigger a federal leak investigation into you and your sources (so, yeah, jail).

“Or, maybe it’s the commentary you spike because you’re a publicly supported news channel and you worry it will cost your station its federal financing.

“In that last case, your fear would be existential — a matter of your very survival — and your motivation to self-censor could prove overwhelming.

House Representative Lamar Smith, Republican from Texas described what he believes was the unfair way the media was covering Trump. Lamar suggested it’s “better to get your news from the President. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.” In other words, the truth will only come from the President Trump.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Robert Reich: Trump Is Deeply Dangerous To Everything America Holds Dear

From Robert Reich on John McCain’s’ speech Don’t Count America Out

“Republican Senator John McCain traveled across the Atlantic yesterday to deliver to Europe (at the Munich Security Conference) a calculated, point-by-point repudiation of Trump's worldview and brand of nationalism. McCain didn't mention Trump's name once, but he didn't have to.”

Here are the highlights:

1. “In recent years, this question [of the survival of the Western world] would invite accusations of hyperbole and alarmism; not this year. If ever there were a time to treat this question with a deadly seriousness, it is now.”

2. The founders of the Munich conference “would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and toward old ties of blood and race and sectarianism.”

3. “They would be alarmed by the hardening resentment we see towards immigrants and refugees and minority groups -- especially Muslims.”

4. “They would be alarmed by the growing inability -- and even unwillingness -- to separate truth from lies.”

5. "They would be alarmed that more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent."

6. “But what would alarm them most, I think, is a sense that many of our peoples, including in my own country, are giving up on the West, that they see it as a bad deal that we may be better off without, and that while Western nations still have the power to maintain our world order, it's unclear whether we have the will.”

7. “I know there is profound concern across Europe and the world that America is laying down the mantle of global leadership. I can only speak for myself, but I do not believe that that is the message you will hear from all of the American leaders who cared enough to travel here to Munich this weekend. That's not the message you heard today from Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. That is not the message you will hear from Vice President Mike Pence. That's not the message you will hear from Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. And that is certainly not the message you will hear tomorrow from our bipartisan congressional delegation.

8. “I refuse to accept that our values are morally equivalent to those of our adversaries [i.e., Putin]. I am a proud, unapologetic believer in the West, and I believe we must always, always stand up for it. For if we do not, who will?”

Translated: Trump is deeply dangerous to everything America holds dear. I haven't yet decided whether I'm going to try to dump him. But if he keeps going in the direction he's going, I'll have no choice.

John McCain: ‘In the four decades I have attended the Munich Security Conference, I cannot recall a year where its purpose was more necessary or more important.”

Don’t Count America Out

Sen. John McCain Addresses 
The Munich Security Conference (2/17/2017)

The Trend to Centralized Control by an Autocratic Authority in the Era of Trump

Senator Bernie Sanders’ comments on this revealing story: “If everything said about Trump, a pathological liar, is ‘fake news,’ then who will give us ‘the truth?’ In a Jan. 24 speech on the floor of the House, Representative Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas, gave us the answer. He described what he believed was the unfair way the national media was covering President Trump. And he ended with an admonition for his constituents: ‘Better to get your news directly from the president. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.’ There it is. If you want the truth, ignore everything except what the President is saying. This is what totalitarianism is all about.”

This how the story, “Trump Era, Censorship May Start in the Newsroom,” begins:

“. . .  the muzzling starts, not with a boot on your neck, but with the fear of one that runs so deep that you muzzle yourself.

“Maybe it’s the story you decide against doing because it’s liable to provoke a press-bullying president to put the power of his office behind his attempt to destroy your reputation by falsely calling your journalism “fake.”

“Maybe it’s the line you hold back from your script or your article because it could trigger a federal leak investigation into you and your sources (so, yeah, jail).

“Or, maybe it’s the commentary you spike because you’re a publicly supported news channel and you worry it will cost your station its federal financing.

“In that last case, your fear would be existential — a matter of your very survival — and your motivation to self-censor could prove overwhelming.

“We no longer have to imagine it. We got a real-life example last week in San Antonio, where a PBS station sat atop the slippery slope toward censorship and then promptly started down it.”

“This is how the muzzling starts: not with a boot on your neck, but with the fear of one that runs so deep that you muzzle yourself.

“Maybe it’s the story you decide against doing because it’s liable to provoke a press-bullying president to put the power of his office behind his attempt to destroy your reputation by falsely calling your journalism “fake.”

“Maybe it’s the line you hold back from your script or your article because it could trigger a federal leak investigation into you and your sources (so, yeah, jail).

“Or, maybe it’s the commentary you spike because you’re a publicly supported news channel and you worry it will cost your station its federal financing.

“In that last case, your fear would be existential — a matter of your very survival — and your motivation to self-censor could prove overwhelming.

“We no longer have to imagine it. We got a real-life example last week in San Antonio, where a PBS station sat atop the slippery slope toward censorship and then promptly started down it.

“It’s a single television station in a single state in a very big country. And the right thing ultimately happened. But only after a very wrong thing happened.”

The editorial misfire bears retelling because it showed the most likely way that the new administration’s attempts to shut down the free press could succeed, just as it shows how those attempts can be stopped.

Continue reading the rest of the story:

Representative Luis Gutierrez: Speaker Ryan is not an emperor and does not control who I meet with

On Thursday, Democrat Representative Luis Gutierrez and eight Democratic representatives were barred from a meeting with the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

If anyone has any misconceptions about our country heading towards authoritarian government, it should be clear by now that we are.

Bill Moyers and Company: Republicans, when all is said and Done How Will You be Remembered?

Speaker of the House, Republican Paul Ryan
“Republicans, there is a name for those who take the moral high ground and fight back: heroes. When all is said and done, how will you be remembered?”

Congressional Republicans, we watched you at the White House Thursday. Just before Donald J. Trump's rambling, manic, often snarky press conference — delivered more in the manner of a churlish insult comic than leader of the free world — the president met with a group of you, a self-titled “Trump caucus” of early supporters.

You fawned over him like autograph hunters gushing over their favorite movie star. Rep. Chris Collins of New York: “Mr. President, we’re all honored to be here.” Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee: “We’re excited about the work you’re doing.” And Missouri’s Billy Long referenced the recent visit of Japan’s prime minister: “I knew you all would hit it off because you’re both people persons and great personalities. … I knew you guys would get along good.”

Oh, brother. Has it come down to this? The party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower in the thrall of a petulant, impulsive, preening and shamelessly amoral president who thinks Vladimir Putin is the apex of effective management.

Republicans, is this really the legacy you choose?

How can you not take a solid stand against an unhinged con man who in less than a month has undermined fundamental constitutional liberties, thrown governance into disorganized hell and possibly made decisions based on his desire to please the leader of another country?

Republicans, Where’s the Backbone?
Desperately seeking those GOP politicians who will stand up against a know-nothing bully who holds the highest office in the land.
By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship | February 17, 2017