Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Stink of the New Republican Revolution

From The Nation: the powerful who deplore working class people who aren’t working are the ones who are getting rid of the jobs those people used to rely on.

The last time jobs went away was in the 30s, and FDR created the New Deal to help save working people from disaster. Now Newt Gingrich is bragging how Trump and the Republicans are planning to rip out everything FDR put in place. Reported by ThinkProgress.

Paul Ryan, the pious, serious-looking Republican who rules Congress is the guy who will take the big knife to the safety net. What do you call someone who benefits from a program and then takes it away from other people who need it? Hypocrite. Yeah, Ryan is a class-A hypocrite. He plans to take away Social Security from working people but he grew up on Social Security benefits. The whole hypocritical story reported by Alternet.

Republicans find working people useful for gaining power but are happy to ditch them when it’s convenient–––and they find it’s always convenient to ditch working people. In this time of Christian devotion they seem to think Jesus preferred rich people and disliked the poor. I’m not sure which part of the New Testament this is drawn from but it certainly shapes all of GOP policy––Praise God! The New Republic summarizes the Republican Revised Standard Version of the New Testament.

Notice the bad smell coming from North Carolina? Is it the hog industry’s vast lakes of pig poop or is it the politics? The politics do stink in NC. The Republicans redrew the voting districts to confine majority Democrats into a permanent legislative minority. A ghetto project if there ever was one. But this year a Democrat defeated the Republican for the governorship. The legi answered by stripping the governor’s office of its staff and its powers. PeeeeeeYeeewwwww. A lot of the Republicans’ power (and money) comes from the hog industry. Maybe the pig should replace the noble elephant. Of course the pig is much nobler than what we are seeing in this failed state.

Bill Moyers on the stink of North Carolina's hog-manure Republicanism.

SLATE on the Republican coup in NC.

Meanwhile, in another failed state, Wisconsin…. Republican governor Scott Walker, the college dropout who is busily turning the University of Wisconsin from a premier university into a second rate one, is now reshaping all state bureaus and departments so all their information conforms to his belief that climate change is a Chinese hoax, and the environment does best when we fill the air and water with industrial waste.

UrbanMilwaukee on the Republican censoring of the state environmental scientists.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Build The Trump Presidential Library Immediately

The much larger, much worse reservoir of Trump vulgarity and abusiveness contained in the outtakes from The Apprentice were withheld prior to the election. People who had them were afraid of Trump's famous vindictiveness, and assumed like all rational people that he would lose anyway. There was a million dollar confidentiality threat written into all the contracts on the show and not everyone in show business is brave. Tom Arnold (Trump's retaliatory tweets about Arnold write themselves) has described the rapid fire vileness of Trump's tantrums in the Guardian and elsewhere. Such a rich trove needs to be preserved for our history, before our history comes to an end.

I think we need to build and stock the Trump Presidential Library right now. Now isn’t soon enough. It seems (at least to rational people, which may not be a good predictor) that Trump’s presidency might not last very long. It’s been solemnized by the college of party loyalists who decided to ignore the evidence of treason.

The reason the Trump era might end prematurely could be this treason suddenly blooming like a tropical corpse flower (but the aroma is already in the air and it hasn’t deterred the Republicans.)

The reason could be disgust at what we know about him. (That wasn’t enough to keep a near majority from voting for him.)

Or disgust at what more we learn, like his screaming vulgarity and racism and abuse on The Apprentice (which were edited out for public consumption the way the English language edition of Mein Kampf was expunged of the fuhrer’s promises to destroy the Jews and conquer Europe.)

Or it might be his corruption. The transition is already rife with it. The new corruptions outstrip the ones Trump has already boasted of from his sordid business career. Newt Gingrich has suggested that we rewrite our ethics rules to conform to Trump’s more flexible and capacious idea of right and wrong. (Reported by Politico, but the interview is everywhere.)

You could not write a political satire with enough irony and hypocrisy to compete with what we are watching unfold right now. This is where reality beggars fiction. George Orwell predicted some of this but didn’t have an imagination large enough or vulgar enough. This is the region of Roman emperors. This is Caligula and Nero material. We need a Suetonius or a Robert Graves. People have called the Trump juggernaut “Nixonian.” But Nixon was minor league by comparison.

I’ve been re-reading the Nixon years since November 9th. I read Evan Thomas’s BEING NIXON, which explained how Nixon developed the enormous chip on his shoulder. I’m reading John Dean’s BLIND AMBITION now. It reads like a novel, a mixture of Harold Robbins and Dostoevsky and Dickens. The machinations, the rationalizations, the dirty deals brokered to get money to cover up the earlier dirty deals, the vendettas, the rivalries. A chronicle of the intrigues and betrayals in the worst kind of Bourbon or Tudor or Byzantine court. But Nixon’s men were trying desperately to maintain a facade of respectability and legality; there is no indication the Trump court knows what respectability or legality are. Their hero is Putin, who murders his rivals and critics by remote control while scooping the profits and rake-offs and bribes and monetary ransoms from every part of Russia into his pockets.

This would make good television. Good bad television. Some enterprising producer may already be developing a Nixonian drama for one of the cable networks. (The profanity, clean by Trump standards) would require that it be cable. Like that review of the new Hitler biography that appeared in the New York Times, everybody would know immediately that we were being served Trump dressed as Nixon.

It’s a shame nobody is brave enough to produce a fact-based bio-drama about Trump. Trump would sue. Trump would phone Putin and ask for advice on icing his critics. (“Hey, Vlad, can I borrow an assassin?”)

The Trump Presidential Library might be the safest repository for all the hideousness, because Trump doesn’t read.

He might have the attention span to review his own outrages from The Apprentice, the “c-word”s and the “n-word”s and the ranting vulgar abuse of his children and his producers and his show assistants. He likes watching himself on TV. He wouldn’t see anything wrong with what he said or did. His response wouldn’t be suppression or a burning of tapes, like Nixon contemplated. Trump’s response would be “So?”

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Confederacy Has Won The Civil War

POLITICO has a very good article today about how the Republicans have managed to break our democracy.

The American people have, for over a decade, been saying they are sick and tired of government that doesn’t work.

Which is why they have elected the party that made government stop working.

It is a Southern revolt, Southern-driven, a revolt led by men with Southern accents and Southern roots and values. A barely disguised racism plays a key part. Racism seems to work for the Republican Party. The Republican Party is the Old Confederacy reborn.

If you dig a little you’ll find some racism in most white Americans, not a basic or an overriding racism but a small tumor of racism that you can cultivate and prod into metastasizing if you work at it. The Republican Party has become very good at cultivating this tumor in a lot of people.

John Dean famously said “There is a cancer on the presidency.” He was trying to warn Richard Nixon that his problems were fatal. Now you could say cancer has won the presidency. The Republican Party, which most of this past year seemed in the final stages of collapse has regained its vigor. They have done this by realizing they are the cancer.

Cancer is practically unstoppable without very unpleasant side effects. Nobody likes cancer. Everybody is deathly afraid of cancer. This explains its power, and maybe it explains the power of the Republican Party right now. They are the party of failing government and a degraded working class and racism and the theft of our American Dream by Wall Street billionaires and banking billionaires and healthcare billionaires. Why have we voted to empower the same people who have degraded our lives?

This election has played out like the Chris Rock joke: “I’m really angry that Obama hasn’t cured cancer. So you know what? I’m gonna vote for cancer!”

It makes no sense, that’s why it’s a good joke. It makes no sense but it is exactly what has happened. Reality doesn’t have to make sense. People behave stupidly. Large groups of people are especially prone to stupidity. Which is why the Founding Fathers invented the Electoral College, which tomorrow will finalize the election of a stupid, corrupt, ignorant, treasonous man to the presidency over the objections of a majority of the voters.

The Electoral College isn’t a perfect thing. It isn’t just a safeguard against mob rule. It’s also a relic of America’s slave past, designed to safeguard the less populous states (The South) from having their slaves freed.

It’s as if the Civil War hadn’t ended in 1865 with the defeat of Lee. It’s as if the assassination of Lincoln was the more important event, the continuation of war that led to Jim Crow and the murders and lynchings of many thousands of black citizens.

It seems like the dominant rump of our Congress is itself a recidivist remnant of the old Confederacy. The American flag pins in their lapels are only a disguise. The South never forgot the Civil War cause. They never really surrendered as a people, never accepted the values Lincoln set out for us, never relinquished the comfortable idea that whiteness is superior. And they have been an invading army long after Meade turned Lee back at Gettysburg. They have invaded, infiltrated and infected the northern states with their bigotry. Bigotry isn’t the goal, though, it is simply a tool.

Of course all white Americans have bigotry in them. It just needs bringing out. The racism in northern cities is different from the racism of the South. In some cases it seems more virulent.

The material that helps breed racism and division is what Republicanism has been manufacturing for decades: the careful degradation of working lives, the careful degradation of public sector protections of working people, the careful degradation of our democratic institutions which guarantee our rights.

The Republican goal has been to break the whole American democracy so people feel powerless, because powerlessness makes people angry, and anger makes them more easily divided and defeated.

In a way these unreconstructed Confederates have taken the Union strategy that defeated them in 1865 and turned it upon the North itself. Grant and most memorably Sherman took the war directly to the Southern infrastructure and broke it down. Sherman’s march to the sea burned a wide path of destruction from Atlanta to the sea, cutting the Confederacy in two.

Look at the Republican strategy unfolding this weekend in North Carolina. (Described here at MEDIUM) The defeated Republican governor is hurriedly destroying the power of his office before he surrenders it to the Democrat who defeated him.

Look at what Republican rule has done in Kansas (reported by USNews) and in Michigan (...Yo––Flint? Poisoned drinking water?) or what Scott Walker has done to Wisconsin, or just go read Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann's books about the march of Republican dysfunction from DC to the states

The modern Republican Confederates have brought their industrial and infrastructure and political destruction north to Michigan, to Ohio, to Wisconsin, to western Pennsylvania. Those places now feel like the old South––poorer working people, jobs gone, water systems broken, universities in decline (the Southern universities––not all of them certainly but many––have long been a great example of poorer education and superior football), bridges decaying, social fabric frayed, systems dysfunctional––and the dysfunction has been carefully achieved under strict Republican principles. Principles very unlike the ones that shaped the party under Lincoln, principles directly opposed to the founding ones, just as the designs of the modern “conservative” Republicans directly contradict the pocket Constitutions they carry around in their pockets and the flag pins they wear on their lapels.

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Friday, December 16, 2016

The FBI Did Their Best NOT To Protect The DNC From The Russians

Hillary Clinton's campaign head is angry about how the FBI didn't protect them from the Russians. He wrote about it in the Washington Post. Here's an article about it from Daily Beast.

If I were Podesta I’d be mad too. I’d feel betrayed. I feel betrayed as it is. The FBI let all of us down.

For years I have gotten numerous phone calls a week from helpful experts saying I have a problem with this or that, usually with my credit card or my bank accounts. You get them too.

The most laughable ones come routinely, once a week sometimes, from “Windows Technical Support”. “Hello this is Windows Technical Support and we need to fix a problem you may be having with your computer security.” They sound kind of nerdy and nerdy often means trustworthy, especially in technical areas, but I know they are bogus. I have fun with them, asking for their office address so I can bring my computer in. I sometimes send the information to my local FBI office. They are obviously criminals trying to gain access to my computer. I have never owned a Windows computer.

Now I am wondering if I was wise to contact the FBI. They appear to be ignorant of this kind of crime. Ignorant of their technique at least, because they use it themselves.

When the FBI learned of a Russian campaign to compromise the DNC, agents phoned the DNC's IT help desk and said "Hello this is the FBI and we need to fix a problem you may be having with your computer security.”

The DNC is blocks away from FBI headquarters. They did not go to the DNC and show their FBI identification. They phoned in a rough imitation of a phone scammer. If someone called me and said “This is the FBI and we need to fix a problem you may be having with your computer security” I would have laughed and hung up. I might have said “Is this you, Phil?”

Was the FBI this clueless? Were they being intentionally unhelpful? Contacting a person when you know they aren’t at home or sending them a letter with the wrong address and postage are good ways of not contacting them and saying you did. (There must be a term for this kind of intentional failure.) Was this a way of crossing the Russian hack off the FBI's to-do list without doing anything about it?

Did they not want to help the DNC confront a serious violation of our democracy? Our national sovereignty was also being threatened. Did the FBI not care about our national sovereignty as long as the violation helped a Republican become president? However it was allowed, the threat was fulfilled. We now have a president-elect chosen by a foreign enemy.

FBI? Is this what you wanted?

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

When Do We Call It Treason?

The Atlantic describes how carefully Donald Trump has followed the Russian line all through this election.

He continues to deny he had any connection to the Russians. But he did. Many of his close aides were in close touch with the Russian government. This was reported in November by the New York Times.

Trump knew the Russian government was behind the attacks on Hillary Clinton. This is reported here by The Hill, the respected conservative paper of Capitol Hill. He knew it before election day. He actually encouraged the Russians to do more to help him. He applauded their crime and accepted the benefit, as did the entire Republican Party.

Once the Republicans have consolidated their ill-gotten power they will control any investigation that takes place. Which means shaping findings to match their own propaganda. Another trick from the dictator’s toolkit. VOX runs through the Republican strategy for covering up this Russian coup.

Trump’s hold on power is not as strong as Russia’s hold over him. A report on how they will blackmail Trump is here at the Daily Beast. The Russians are in the driver’s seat. The Republicans are in one of those little child’s seats with its toy steering wheel, strapped securely next to Mommy.

Every cabinet post Trump announces and every bizarre diplomatic misstep he’s made since his election (sic) proclaims the fact that he is taking dictation from the Russian dictator.

There is a lot of good reporting about this now, but during the campaign there was a rigorous effort to make sure that the massively corrupt and incompetent and dangerous Trump was not reported as being any more corrupt or dangerous or incompetent than Hillary Clinton. This hoisted his plausibility and minimized his flaws. It invented and inflated flaws in Hillary Clinton. The reporting gave credence to the months long campaign of character assassination aimed at her by the Republicans. The press behaved as if they were recording secretaries for the Republican Party, and for the Russian government helping the Republican Party. Trump was normalized and Clinton was rubbished.

This has happened before. During the 1930s reporters from American and British newspapers carefully expunged the ugliest promises of Adolf Hitler. They normalized him. Mussolini “made the trains run on time.” And Hitler loved dogs and small children. Hitler had made it very explicit that he planned to conquer Germany’s neighbors and create a living hell for the Jews–––all those portions were edited out of the English language editions. Once you have normalized a monster it becomes very hard to change the public’s mind about them.

The normalization of Hitler and Mussolini, from Smithsonian magazine.

The Russians helped create much of the fake news propaganda against Clinton. The stuff about her underground torture chambers and the pedophaelia operation inside a DC pizza shop. All laughably untrue, and all swallowed whole by the obedient FoxNews and Breitbart trained Republican voter. Meanwhile the true and truly horrifying stories being reported by reputable news organizations about Trump were dismissed and disbelieved. The Republican voter has been trained to believe the latest fevered conspiracy theory but not to believe America’s intelligence agencies.

The guy who helped make America gullible and open the door for the Russian takeover is now the top advisor to the new president. An analysis of the poisonous rise of Breitbart by the Columbia Journalism Review.

Let’s get back to the Russian takeover.

How did the fiercely patriotic Live Free Or Die Republican Party decide to climb into Putin’s pocket? They were in dangerous decline. They were losing the election. It was all slipping from their hands, the power, the respect, the feeling of importance. Then suddenly help came in the form of leaked Democratic emails and information. They decided they hated the Democrats more than they hated the Russians. They hated the idea of Democrats running the country a lot more than the idea of the country being run by the Russians. Like Quisling in Norway, who handed his country to the Nazis, there were promises of shared power. The Russians would lift them up where they belonged.

Imagine if Watergate had not been run out of the Nixon White House but out of the Kremlin. And imagine if the Republican Party had known this and all the material gained by the illegal spying had fueled Republican wins all across the country. As Charles Pierce reports, that is what happened this year.

The Republicans have seized power, with Russian help. Their win was narrow and deeply corrupted. They don’t care, they plan to come down hard. They plan to rule as hard right as they are able. They plan to nail down their control, purge the government of less than true believers. They plan to discredit honest news organizations and promote their own propaganda outlets. They plan to punish opponents. (They are already promising to prosecute and jail Electoral College electors who don’t fall into line next Monday.) This is what dictators do. Putin is their role model, their hero. Americans did not vote for this.

I keep reading that there is nothing we can do. The Electoral College must ratify Trump’s election, they say. They point out that even if we can remove Trump from the presidency the Republicans who also gained power with Russian assistance will be the ones choosing his replacement. They went along with this coup and will benefit from the crime. Them’s the rules, folks. We must honor the rules. We must accept what has happened because to refuse is a violation of our principles. When do we call it treason? Once they are in power that will be impossible because treason will be anything that disputes their power over us.

I feel like we are in a car accelerating toward a cliff and we’re being told using the brake now would violate our warranty.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Our Allies See Trump's Election As A Russian Coup

Kurt Eichenwald writes how Trump’s many business involvements around the world are an invitation to extortion by global enemies.

Read Eichenwald's story in Newsweek

Because of Trump’s aggressively insulting and threatening attitude towards foreigners it seems likely that his properties will become prime targets. America’s military will become Trump’s own personal security service, protecting him rather than us, spilling American blood to protect Trump’s investments and execute vendettas against groups and individuals and nations abroad who Trump dislikes. He has a famously thin skin and a vengeful nature.

The premier news weekly in Canada isn’t mincing words. They report that Trump’s [victory] (sic) amounts to a Russian overthrow of the American democracy. The United States has been converted into a Russian satellite with the eager cooperation of the Republican Party.

Read the story in McClean's Weekly

Has the Trump/Putin win changed America into Russia’s Mini-Me?

Analysis and background on the Putin Method in the New York Review of Books

The way leading Republicans have joined the Democrats in demanding a full investigation of Russia’s deep involvement in the Trump election reminds me of an earlier Republican crime. Mitch McConnell will play the role of Nixon’s AG Kleindeinst, carefully removing Republican fingerprints from smoking guns and burning incriminating papers and recordings and emails.

The Republicans pretend to investigate the Russian overthrow of America, reported by Politico

The larger irony here is how these same Republicans spent years trying to incriminate Hillary Clinton over the Benghazi tragedy. During the Bush years, 60 diplomats were killed overseas, and prior to the Benghazi attacks Republicans cut funding for President Obama’s requests for better embassy security.

Some of the Electoral College electors are demanding a full intelligence briefing on the dangerous implications of Russia’s interference and the grip Russia’s intelligence services have on the President-elect. But the number making this demand is too small. Most of the electors who might be able to swing this election back toward sanity and securing United States sovereignty are indicating they’d prefer not to know. Which is Trump’s position. “I’m, like, smart. I don’t need intelligence briefings,” Trump said. And this appears to be the Republican Party line: Ignorance is Bliss. They don’t mind being Russian puppets as long as they don’t realize that is Putin’s hand that is creeping up their pant-leg.

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

How Comfortable Are Americans That Vladimir Putin Has Appointed Our Next President?

"The situation is the most stark challenge to a free people that has arisen in my lifetime. We have political and democratic muscles that have atrophied from disuse that now have to be called upon immediately to rescue the republic no matter how many people find that to be too rowdy and inconvenient for their refined political tempers. We have institutional safeguards that have rusted from neglect, but which still work if we're strong enough to turn the handles. We are in the deep, dark woods now. We all are, in a very real sense, survivalists.”

~Charles Pierce, the most astute political commentator of the day, in Esquire

Read Pierce's whole column here

In 2000 we allowed the Supreme Court to overrule the voters and install a president who was inadequate. At least three major catastrophes came about during his presidency, which a competent president probably would have avoided, and a fourth, climate change, which the president the voters elected, Al Gore, would definitely have confronted head on.

This year we have watched helplessly as fake news stories, armies of angry bigots and, not least, the dictator of Russia have installed a corrupt, dishonest, ignorant and downright dangerous incompetent as our president elect.

Will we do something now?

It was also announced today that President Trump will not be interested in daily intelligence briefings.

If Trump becomes our next president, if the Electoral College fails in its sole constitutional job, to prevent unfit men from occupying our highest office, The White House will have been occupied by these three figures:

2001-2009, NINCOMPOOP (Republican)

2009-2017 SKILLED, WISE LEADER (Democrat)

2017- NINCOMPOOP (Republican)

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

CIA: Russians Hacked Election To Give Us The President They Wanted

This Washington Post story broke late last evening, reporting that the Russian government and its proxies hacked our election system with the deliberate goal of putting Donald Trump into power. The CIA reported this to leaders in Congress but the Republicans blocked any release of this information prior to the election. The Republicans opposed informing the public that the Russian government was helping them to win the election. There are multiple outrages here.

The Russians hacked our political system. Why?

To install someone in the White House who they could manipulate and control, someone who would not stand up to them, who would do what they told him to do.

The Republican leadership knew about the Russian spy agencies hacking our election well before the election but they prevented a bipartisan release of the information to the public. Why?

Two possible reasons. Because they welcomed the help of the Russian spy agencies to get their man into the White House. Or––since we now know the Russians didn’t only hack the Democratic Party but hacked the Republicans as well––perhaps the Russians blackmailed the Republican leadership into collaborating with this violation of our system. Compromising information is useful as leverage only if it is withheld. The Republicans either allowed this Russian intrusion into our election or collaborated with it. Either explanation amounts to treason.

SLATE reports on the Republicans preventing public disclosure of the Russian rigging of the election in their favor.

Retired CIA agent Robert Baer says that if this had happened in any other democracy in the world, if the intelligence agencies of an enemy power had hacked the outcome of a national election, they would re-hold the election.

CNN interview with retired CIA agent Robert Baer

We now know that the Russians hacked the Republican Party as well, but didn’t dish out the most embarrassing material bit by bit to damage the party’s candidate and its standing in the polls. Because they wanted the Republicans to win. They wanted Trump to win. Once he was in power they could use this information as leverage to control him and control our government.

We have no idea what financial or other kind of hold the Russians may have over Donald Trump because he has hidden his financial information. He owes many millions of dollars around the world. We don't know the extent to which he is vulnerable to foreign pressure.

We don’t know what kinds of damaging material the Russians hacked from the Republicans databases, but it is not hard to know why they didn’t release it.

They wanted the Republicans to win, and they likely have information that gives them power over the party that won the election, who they helped win the election. They didn’t release the information. It seems very possible, perhaps likely, they planned to use it for blackmail purposes. Once Trump reached the White House and Republicans controlled both houses of Congress this information would hold them hostage.

It becomes increasingly apparent that the Republican Party accepted the help of a foreign dictator to gain power. And once they had gained power the levers of that power would have been in the hands of the foreign dictator who assisted them. It is difficult to understand this any other way. The kindest judgment upon the Republican leaders and Donald Trump would be that they were fools or powerless to resist. If you believe they are not fools they must be willing collaborators, before and after the event.

The Daily Beast reports on the likelihood that the Russians blackmailed the Republican Party into going along with the Russian interference and keeping it from the American public.

Michael Tomasky’s trenchant analysis of this latest development

What do we call this?

Did the Republican leadership engage in treason? Did they collaborate with an enemy power to seize control of our political system? (In France, after the liberation, collaborators had their heads shaved and were marched through the streets.) During the American Revolution an ambitious general collaborated with the British (a far less sinister enemy than Putin's Russia) by handing them the keys to the fort at West Point. Down through American history anyone convicted of treason against this country became a "Benedict Arnold."

If the Republicans did their best to ignore what the Russians were doing to subvert our election, does that make them dupes? Did they guess that the crime would benefit them and simply let it unfold? Or were they certain that the Russian government was working for their benefit? Did they know. You become a criminal accomplice if you benefit from a crime you have allowed to happen. If that crime is a betrayal of your country you are a traitor. This part is not complicated.

The likeliest explanations for why the Republicans kept this secret suggest that they were complicit. The explanations for why the Russians worked to elect Trump suggest that both Trump and the Republican Party engaged in a criminal enterprise to subvert our democracy and to give a foreign enemy control of our government.

During the debates when Hillary Clinton suggested that Trump might be a puppet of the Russians, Trump's reply was both juvenile and very revealing. "Puppet!. Puppet! You're the puppet!" he said, like a child denying an accusation he knows he is guilty of.

The statistical anomalies revealed last month indicate that it wasn’t simply subversion of public opinion, but likely a careful hacking of key mechanics of the voting in key states.

Reported by The Independent newspaper in London.

One remedy offered by legal expert Lawrence Lessig and reported in The Independent suggests that since Hillary Clinton is now 2.83 million votes ahead of Trump in the final tally, a revote may not be necessary.

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Friday, December 09, 2016

"From Zero to Nixon in No Time Flat"

Stephen Colbert made that joke a few weeks ago and it’s only getting worse. (Was it ever funny?)

Nixon, for those of you not born in the early seventies, was infamous for his Enemies List which contained quite a few famous names, Paul Newman, Daniel Schorr and Congressman John Conyers among them. Who knew making salad dressing was so subversive.

Mother Jones is reporting that the incoming Trump administration is already creating a list of scientists to purge from the government. Their crime? Working with President Obama to slow and stop climate change.

New York Magazine is reporting that Trump has also been busy purging environmentalists from the Republican Party.

Bill Moyers reports that the Trump administration has already created an enemies list. What's the word I'm looking for? Yes: Nixonian.

Heather Cox Richardson, who wrote the article posted at Bill Moyers' website, is a well-respected Boston historian. Her special areas of study include Native Americans and the periods of American history from the Civil War through Reconstruction. We might assume that the Trump administration wants to scrub those histories clean to make sure no one is embarrassed by knowing about slavery or Jim Crow or the theft of a continent from the native tribes.

Who else might wind up on the “watch list”? Professors who do serious science instead of oil company “science”. Professors of economics who don’t worship unregulated capitalism. Labor historians. Also the millions of people who have spoken out about Donald J. Trump’s behavior and bigotry. It’ll be a very long list. We should make sure we are all on it.

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Thursday, December 08, 2016

How Many Generals Does It Have To Be Before We Call It A "Junta"?

The Atlantic has noticed "Such a lot of generals" in the new Trump administration. What does it mean?

The Washington Post has noticed the same. So many generals! Does it mean a more militarized regime?

There I go. I said "regime." Do we have regimes in this country? When we say "regime" we tend to mean tinpot countries with a faceless leadership wearing military uniforms.

SLATE is noticing lots of generals too.

Is Trump trying to make his presidency militarily unremovable? Make it “Coup-Proof”?

Or is this part of Trump’s own coup?

What does this mean? Is this a different America? Will Trump call himself Generalissimo?

Will Dear Leader Trump review parades of marching armies and tanks and nuclear missiles on trucks while flanked by generals with chests encrusted with medals, just like in Russia and North Korea?

Funny all of this is happening after two and a half million more people voted against him than voted for him. And after his campaign and his bullyboys suppressed the vote by millions more in key states.

Or maybe that is why he is generaling up like this.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Oil Exec With Close Ties To Putin Floated As Secretary Of State Candidate

It is understandable that President Putin wants a Secretary of State he is comfortable with.

It is his choice to make, as was the selection of our president.

From the notoriously left wing Wall Street Journal: Rex Tillerson, a Candidate for Secretary of State, Has Ties to Vladimir Putin/ Exxon Mobil CEO could redefine U.S. interests abroad

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Narcissistic Personality Disorder––The Disease's New Poster Boy Appears To Have Won The White House

The criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders––DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association) are used to diagnose this mental condition. They are listed at the Mayo Clinic website:

1. Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
2. Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
3. Exaggerating your achievements and talents
4. Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
5. Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
6. Requiring constant admiration
7. Having a sense of entitlement
8. Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
9. Taking advantage of others to get what you want
10. Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
11. Being envious of others and believing others envy you
12. Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

Mayo's website goes on to say "Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence, it's not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal and value yourself more than you value others."

Extreme narcissism may cause an individual to inflate his or her own worth to the extent that other people's worth is degraded to zero.

It may cause you to believe your desires overrule and negate other people's wishes.

It may cause you to think that anyone who disagrees with you is evil and deserving of extreme vengeance to the end of time.

It may cause you to think the thoughts that pop into your head are pure genius. It may also cause you to think that the new idea that directly contradicts the brilliant idea you had five minutes ago means that your mind is a direct oracle from the Almighty capable of changing humanity's fundamental rules of right and wrong and true and untrue on a minute by minute basis. (Some of this description overlaps with key signs of the more severe forms of mania, so it might not be incorrect to call such an individual a "maniac.")

What's that? I believe we have a winner.

The man over on the far right, with the orange tan and the blond comb-over, the one sitting in the gold chair, is shouting "Bingo!"

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Monday, December 05, 2016

Trump And The Death Of Honest Information

George Monbiot from The Guardian discusses the ugly effect Trump might have on a trusting public. Trump’s closest advisors aren’t simply dishonest, they are leaders in the corporate disinformation system. Welcome to an era of propaganda enforced with government muscle.

Read it in the Guardian

This weekend’s shoot up in a family pizza restaurant in DC by a Trump vigilante shows how the Trump posse turns their bogus news stream into violent action

This BuzzFeed article demonstrates how the false news industry that helped elect Trump may also deliver an armed and gullible posse to wreak havoc where you live

An article published in The Nation 25 years ago predicted the advent of “post-truth” America

Read it in The Nation

Trump surrogate on NPR: “There’s no such thing as facts.”

The Atlantic explains what Trump's post-truth machine signifies for America

The same NPR interview discussed at Raw Story

Truth is becoming a scarce commodity in the Trump era.

CNN reports on how Trump plans to narrow access to the internet. Narrower access = more power to the dear leader.

Read it at CNN-Money

This Republican dislike of truth and facts is not new. It’s central to the Republican brand. Facts give them problems.

The New York Times reported on this same "we create our own reality" mindset in the George W. Bush administration. That false news strategy marched us into an unnecessary and catastrophic war.

Sarah Palin says that God intervened in this election. (She may be referring to her close neighbor Vladimir Putin)

The Independent, published in London, suspects Palin is a signal that America is losing its mind.

The editor of the Washington Post (Marty Baron, the hero who led the Boston Globe’s dogged exposure of priest child abuse) has some advice for journalists as we enter a new world where it’s dangerous to speak truth to power.

Read about Marty Baron's warning and advice at Vanity Fair

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Friday, December 02, 2016

GOP Climate Apocalypse

Scientific American reports on the urgent warnings our military leaders are sending about the dangers of climate change. The Republicans only listen to the military when they–the Republicans–want a war. When the military wants to avoid dangers they aren’t interested.

The story in Scientific American

The Guardian reports that Trump’s junta plans to cut out Nasa’s climate, oceanographic and atmospheric scientists. Listening to who instead? Soothsayers? The oddsmakers at Ladbrokes? Wizards in white pointed hoods?

The story reported in The Guardian

The arctic which, as every devoted fan of Christmas knows, is traditionally freezing cold this time of year, this year has chosen to be alarmingly warm. The 60s animated specials about Rudolph and Santa were not scientific predictions of an ideal future. When the arctic melts entirely, the oceans rise, the permafrost thaws releasing massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere as well as long-frozen diseases and anthrax spores, the ocean currents change––whole crop regions rely on the reliable circulation of ocean currents and rainfall, not something we should mess with. Melted ice caps will tend to change the salt content of the oceans, possibly endangering the vast and complex ocean flora that produces the oxygen all human life depends on to live. Climate deniers are endangering all of us. For what? To prolong the fossil fuel profits of the companies that pay them.

The story reported by PBS's NOVA

Reported at SLATE

The Republicans in Congress are also completely hypnotized by the climate change denial industry and the fossil fuel companies that send them money. Endangering our country for money. When do we call that bribery and treason? The latest insanity: Congress obediently tweets misleading bogus news stories also produced by the fossil fuel PR machinery.

Reported by NBC News

From Bloomberg, a very useful debunker of all those climate change deniers who say human industry has nothing to do with it. A set of clear graphs says otherwise.

ThinkProgress: Trump talks climate policy with the NYTimes and they obediently repeat what he says as gospel. Unwise.

National Geographic reports on the link between climate change and extreme weather. No, Oklahoma, it isn’t just God’s will...

Fortune Magazine (that pinko communist rag) reports that solar and renewable jobs are outpacing fossil fuel jobs. (Until Trump jerks us back toward disaster.)

Steve Bannon, former Goldman Sachs banker, was also deeply involved in the highly publicized Biosphere experiment in Arizona. He was the guy who took the serious experiment and rigged it to suit his own preconceptions. But, to paraphrase an old saying “You can’t bribe Mother Nature."

Reported by Motherboard

I watch as the Republicans lead this dangerous lurch toward climate disaster and wonder how many of them are rubbing their hands with glee, imagining the imminent end of civilization that will cause Jesus to return. It might be a good time to ask them publicly if this is what they are aiming for. Are they hoping and actively working to cause global collapse and bring on the apocalypse? I thought Jesus told us to be good stewards of this earth. Some very bad, very irresponsible, very dangerous stewards are now in control of things.

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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Donald Trump Is Filling the Swamp With Alligators

Trump won millions of votes by promising to drain the swamp in Washington.

But Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston describes how Trump is not draining the swamp as promised but is enlarging it and filling it with larger alligators.

From the Daily Beast

Trump’s new Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin, foreclosed on a 90 year-old woman’s home because she made a 27¢ error on her payment.

Reported by Politico

Mnuchin’s bank milked the last financial crisis for profit, reported in The Nation.

Science is in the hands of zealots who seek to corrupt it.

The Guardian reports that Trump and the Republican Congress are already finalizing plans to end climate research.

The Justice Department has been entrusted to a career bigot. NPR reports on Jeff Sessions' career spent ignoring racial injustice. "The KKK is OK, except for the pot smokers."

The Dept of Health and Human Services will be led by someone who pushes junk science and ideologies.

Reported at ScienceBlogs

The New Yorker's financial reporter John Cassidy explains how the Republicans' repeal of Obamacare will hit working people and poor people the hardest. Kicking Down while Kissing Up.

National Security advice will be coming from a fan of conspiracy theories who is eager for another world war.

Reported by the Washington Post

The environment will be in the hands of someone who has spent recent decades blowing smoke for the fossil fuel industry, turning scientific consensus on its head and pushing ideologically driven b.s and corporate non-science.

The fossil fuels/climate-change-denying career of Myron Ebell reported by the Washington Post

Myron Ebell's dangerous career reported in Scientific American

(In case you believe Climate Change worries are confined to the left wing fringes, the US Military has been sending urgent warnings about the dangers, as reported by The Guardian. Among the feared results will be massive surges in refugees. What is happening to Europe would begin happening here.)

It now appears, after haranguing Hillary Clinton for using unauthorized email (without any security breaches), Trump may appoint a man convicted of breaching security as his Sec of State. The Hill (Congress’s newspaper) reports that Petraeus will need to inform his probation officer before he accepts the position. An interesting start to what promises to be a corrupt administration.

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