Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sally Yates Was Right

In January, the Trump Administration rolled out a Muslim Ban. They said it wasn’t, but the courts put an end to it almost immediately. Almost…which means a lot of people got hurt in the process. Put an end to it…means the ban was unconstitutional and illegal.  The acting US Attorney General Sally Yates had said just that, and thus she couldn’t defend it, so fired she was. Still is fired. Now we know she was also right. The Administration has settled the first lawsuit filed by two Iraqis for this Muslim ban. So what will become of Yates? A hero to many already. I will be watching.

Musing – Christians and Exclusivity

Once in a while I have this urge to challenge some position or meme on social media. There are so many, and so meaningless, ones floating around every day that I don’t want to frustrate myself with the attempt. Some however stand out. Not because of the cleverness, or the position, but for the sheer stupidity. Today was one of those. Because of who posted it and the falsity, it got me thinking about the exclusivity of the conflict of being Christian and being untruthful, and I don’t understand.

The meme went something like this. It first stated an event followed by the line “no one seemed to care” followed later by another line “How come the media didn’t mind?” Posted by a self proclaimed Christian. Couldn’t help myself. In spite of knowing better, that it wouldn’t change anything, I pointed out the falsity… unless of course he could properly support. No fear since the statement itself and the posting thereof disproves it’s own conclusion. Logic. But he’s Christian, knowingly supporting a lie after the impossibility is made known, so it got complicated.

“No one” is indeed an extremely exclusive group. If anyone, just one single somebody seemed to care, the statement is false. Post the event followed by “no one seemed to care” means the poster seems or seemed to care…immediately making it false. Damn logic. But I knew it was false without the word play as I remember the event and I cared, so did most of my friends. But I regress. The issue rattling around my head all day has been about exclusivity. How can a person be Christian and lie? I find only the following options:

A non-Christian can lie or be truthful…free from morality entirely. Someone truthful can be either a Christian or non-Christian. Both have options. Personally I rate credibility well above Christian. But a liar can’t be Christian and a Christian can’t be a liar. Mutually exclusive. OK a Christian can lie but is he/she still a Christian? Being brought up in religion, I say no.

Closely related as I’m trying to understand the thought process behind what I’m seeing/sensing on social media, do Christians believe God checks Face-book? Would a Christian lie if their Father was looking over their shoulder and would know right off? From my old lessons I think we’re supposed to believe God is all seeing and all knowing. So he IS checking Face-book, and he knows it’s a lie. Somewhere, somehow there is a disconnect between reality and beliefs, and between the beliefs. The thought of getting away with one, even after the falsity is pointed out, may carry the day for some…temporarily suspending the all knowing all seeing belief. Perhaps it’s just a tale made for an unworthy human, non-believer. How would God know or care. Or lying for the good of the Religion, or God himself…perhaps believing even God himself might suspend a rule for benefit of religion or himself. But that’s not the God I was taught. Nor George Washington for that matter, telling on himself knowing punishment was forthcoming. Perhaps social media has created a massive credibility void. People can be or say whatever they want…suspended reality. Suspended beliefs. Suspended Christianity. Lying to advance the religion and/or the candidate your religion endorses. So the belief becomes suspended only when dealing with outsiders? I just don’t get it.

In the end I only have questions with no answers and don’t understand. Any help?

Weaponised Nonsense

For all my author and reading friends, this is a great read…nothing to add from here. Start with this quote from the article…well worth a very short time commitment. Thanks for caring about the meaning of language.

Without language, there is no accountability, no standard of truth. If Trump never says anything concrete, he never has to do anything concrete. If Trump never makes a statement of commitment, Trump supporters never have to confront what they really voted for. If his promises are vague to the point of opacity, Trump cannot be criticised for breaking them. If every sloppy lie (ie: “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower … This is McCarthyism!”) can be explained away as a “generality” or “just a joke” because of “quotes”, then he can literally say anything with impunity. Trump can rend immigrant families in the name of “heart”, destroy healthcare in the name of “life”, purge minority voters in the name of “justice”, and roll back women’s autonomy in the name of “freedom”. The constitution? Probably sarcastic. There are “quotes” all over that thing!

The Wall

OK, now we know Mexico will pay for the wall. Done.

And from a reliable source

Of Leaks and Whistles

Continuation of the Flynn flap takes us into an interesting public quarrel about leaks, what is good for the U.S. and what’s good for the Administration. Are they the same or different, and is it a leak if it’s blowing a whistle on actions placing the U.S security in jeopardy?

A look back before joining the public narrative has clarified my perspective. Beginning with Mr Flynn’s actions during the campaign we see he passed on completely false news via Twitter about Ms Clinton. 

Couple this with his being an intelligence professional, his leading “Lock her Up” chants at political rallies and we have a clear public case (not a leak) of deliberate lies promoted by Mr Flynn during his support on the campaign trail. He was dirty before his selection as National Security Adviser, yet selected by the Administration anyway.

We also know (not a leak) that the Russians worked to influence the 2016 election. They hacked DNC computers and released pilfered documents to media sources. This action by the Russians was encouraged by the GOP candidate during a televised debate and at multiple public rallies. Again not a leak. So we know of Russian involvement in the election and DNC hacking, and we know the GOP campaign team sent public adulation to the Russians and Wikileaks for doing so. There was also no doubt Mr Flynn was unreliable and untrustworthy, something already clear to the prior Administration. He was put into the position of National Security Adviser by this administration anyway. We saw this train coming.

We now know the the acting Attorney General (Yates) had advised the Administration of the event and associated risks weeks ago and no action was taken by the Administration in spite of already public knowledge of Flynn’s character and his being in a self inflicted compromised position. Was this a leak? Or when a public official has knowledge placing the public  (and the nation) does it become a duty to protect he public they serve? Add another public servant, the President, now having the same knowledge and failing (perhaps refusing) to take action. A leak, or whistle blowing?

The White House is framing this as Flynn mislead Pence verses the security risk and legal violation. In essence the Administration hired a guy to lie for them and didn’t like it when he lied to them.  Way too simple an explanation. Never mind the security of the nation and the likely illegality, the issue is being carefully boxed in as a Flynn-Pence issue coupled with a critique of leaks.

Directing focus toward the leaks does little to establish credibility for this Administration. In realty it detracts credibility given their support for and encouragement for leaks when the leaks detracted form others’ credibility.

But the real questions are yet to be answered. While we see no direct evidence supporting the Presidents knowledge of Mr Flynn’s calls, it is hard to perceive a senior official, long-time friend and supporter, interacting with a foreign power in complete isolation. So who else? And to what level? How many more fall guys before we see the full breadth and depth of this…There is certainly much more to come…

Meanwhile in the circle of leaks and whistles there is a balance. If information is damaging for the country it must be protected. If the information is damaging for the Administration in disclosing illegal activity or security risks for the country, of course the Administration would like it protected. In this case we have verified information of Administration acts which place the nation at risk of blackmail by an adversary like Russia. To use a line from candidate Trump in the clip above, the leakers performed a public service by revealing a scandal with no rival in United States history. It becomes the duty of any public servant to disclose.  First to the responsible party, in this case the President which Ms Yates did. If there is no action taken, then to the public. That is what I call whistle blowing, and I applaud it.

 

 

Free Market Capitalism?

Er…No.

For years the GOP has embraced the concept of free market capitalism with prices and services determined by the open market and consumers with the laws of supply and demand operating free from government intervention, price setting or other authorities.

But last week we saw a significant back step from that ideology when Nordstrom culled the Ivanka Trump line from their inventory. The reason is irrelevant, but per Nordstrom this was a business decision.

We’ve said all along we make buying decisions based on performance,” Nordstrom’s press spokesperson told Fortune magazine last week. “In this case, based on the brand’s performance, we’ve decided not to buy it for this season.”

Nordstrom’s action brought forth two major issues from our current GOP leadership, both deserve attention. One is a clear violation of ethical standards and U.S. law, and is what most agencies and citizens are focused on. But the other demonstrates open conflict with standing GOP principles, the very capitalistic ideology Republicans promote as the antidote for a sluggish economy.

The first response came to our attention with a Tweet direct from the White House:

Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!
6:51 PM – 8 Feb 2017

So it seems OK to intervene in the law of supply and demand…at least when it is beneficial to ones own family. We might easily accept this in terms of spontaneously defending our own children, except the shilling for his daughters business continued with both (official representatives of the Administration and party) Spicer and Conway.

“I think this is less about his family’s business and an attack on his daughter,” Spicer said. “He ran for president. He won. He’s leading this country. I think for people to take out their concern about his actions or his executive orders on members of his family, he has every right to stand up for his family and applaud their business activities, their success.”

“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” Conway said, adding that consumers can buy Ivanka’s products online. Done so from her official position speaking on behalf of the White House.

Following social media threads I also see GOP supporters dismayed by the Nordstrom decision with many proffering pledges to boycott the business chain. Here’s one right leaning publication’s take:

Not to mention all the conservative customers who will now purposely avoid Nordstrom. And remember, that’s at least half of all Americans.”

For the record “at least half of all Americans” is an unsupportable alternative fact with just 29.8% of the electorate having voted for this Administration and accounting for current approval/disapproval ratings, all evidence the number remains well under “half” but that’s for another time.

What is important is the GOP abandoning their ideological principle of the Free Market. The market unencumbered with government intervention, price setting or other authorities appears to be fiction. Perhaps ideology is just an excuse to reduce regulation protecting us average consumers from pollution, false advertising, and other risks to enhance corporate profits. But when it comes to involvement and equity for their GOP elite, government intervention is just fine.

Of course many are focused on the ethical and legal violations surrounding the acts of business and consumer influence direct from the White House. That remains an important issue, more so when the actors have refused to divest themselves of the very business conflicts we anticipated. But we can’t lose sight of the right, all the way from the White House, to publications, down to GOP affiliated consumers themselves, acting in direct conflict to their very own economic ideology.

The signal to U.S citizens directly from an administration promising to drain the swamp and rid Washington of this very corruption is clear. What’s good enough for you isn’t good enough for their own elite. Or another way, what’s good for me, consumer protection, income security, free markets, health care and much more, is far too good for you average citizens.

Roll Back to 2008

The 2008 recession is still recent history. We came oh so close to a near global financial collapse. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) sinking by about 54% in the 17 months from the market high in October 2007 to the trough in March 2009. 

But we survived, barely. Part of the medicine included the largest bank bailout in U.S history to stave off a complete collapse. Another part was the enactment of a law to reign in the reckless, deceptive, and predatory practices which caused and amplified this great recession, the Dodd-Frank Act. Now we’re considering doing away with it. How short our memory has become. Here is the NY-Times take:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/03/opinion/a-poison-pill-for-the-recovery.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region®ion=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is old is new again, and so will be the lessons if we’re not careful.

ACA–Listening Now?

For years the GOP has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Last week Mr Trump vowed “the people will never be ignored again”. As of today’s Quinnipiac University National Poll the people have spoken:

“Only 16 percent of voters say President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress should repeal all of the ACA, while 51 percent say repeal parts of the law and 30 percent say don’t repeal any of the ACA, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds.”

Here’s the visual depiction of the Quinnipiac survey results: Poll on Repealing Obamacare

No genius required to see the two positions are mutually exclusive. Either the GOP/Trump combo can ignore the people, or ignore their long-term vow to repeal the ACA.

While we’re here, they also asked several questions regarding Planned Parenthood funding and abortion.

“In a question with no mention of abortion, American voters oppose 62 – 31 percent cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood.”

And they found “American voters agree 70 – 26 percent with the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision.”

What’s it going to be: The people, or the ideology.

Americans–Never Ignored Again

A march today by millions of women. Across the country with support DCfrom around the world, women and supporters spoke out in a resounding message of resistance to Mr Trump. More people were on the Washington Mall than for yesterday’s Trump Inauguration. Too many in Chicago to actually march. Boston, New York, Miami, Seattle, and LA all drew large crowds. Not just major cites but towns small and large, from friends In St Augustine and Tampa, wife and daughter in Albuquerque, to another daughter in St Paul, friends in Houston…all had women in the streets with a resounding voice. Women’s Rights are Human Rights was the Clinton stance. By all appearance and speech, this large group holds the same powerful position.

BostonJust yesterday we heard Mr Trump promise they will be heard. He actually said “you will never be ignored again.”

“What truly matters is not which party controls our government but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.”

“So to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words — you will never be ignored again.”

Now we get to see if as President, we can take him at his word. But there is oneSt Paul word,
Americans
, of which a definition can make a difference. Is it code for just some kinds of
Americans, or not? I hope it means all of us, black, white, Hispanic, Asian American, LGBT…and women too. With both positions so public, and so strong, on days one and two, we will know very soon.

Just who is included in Mr Trump’s definition of an American?

 

Don’t Pass on Fake News–leave that to the professionals

With confirmation hearings this week fake news is back on the front page. Specifically Michael Flynn, Mr Trump’s nominee for National Security Adviser.  Retired General Flynn’s last position was Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, from July 22, 2012, to August 7, 2014. He IS  the quintessential trained professional. But here’s the problem

Mr Flynn was passing on fake news via Twitter before the election. Not just any fake news but Pizzagate. This isn’t about stretching a truth here, but a completely false, entirely made up story about Hillary Clinton’s involvement in sex crimes and money laundering.

capture_-mike-flynn-tweet

 

Either Mike Flynn is truly incompetent as an intelligence official or he deliberately passed on a known false story to impact the Presidential race.  Either way, he is unqualified to become the  National Security Adviser.

Think about it, a  National Security Adviser who either can’t tell fake information from real, or he is willing to disseminate fake information deliberately for personal and/or political gain. The link below is the Tweet from Mr Flynn. Look closely, not just at the Tweet but at the web address of this link. Since the Tweet was deleted after a gunman allegedly stormed into Comet Ping Pong with an assault rifle went to its back room, and fired at least one shot before cops nabbed him, this link takes you to the archive.

http://web.archive.org/web/20161107234222/https:/twitter.com/GenFlynn/status/794000841518776320

And don’t forget, Mr Flynn apparently also doesn’t understand that what goes on the internet, stays on the internet…can’t be deleted. Unqualified.