2018/02/18

Most divisive president in US history


Here’s a tweet from President Trump that was just put out today.

Why on Earth would Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran provoke an investigation? There was never the slightest question as to where the money was originally from. The Shah of Iran had paid for US weapons. The delivery of those weapons was canceled because of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Their $1.7 billion was frozen and released by the nuclear deal of July 2015. Nor has there been any question that Iran has held up its end of the deal. President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were not completely happy with all of the relationship between the US and Iran, but Tillerson could not cite any way in which Iran was not keeping the agreement.

This is divisive because there’s no reason for this complaint beyond just making trouble and raising unwarranted doubts about the last president. 

 
But what really got to me was this one.

 
So the President says people should report suspicious individuals. Okay. That’s a reasonable requirement. But this is kind of “victim blaming” language as it suggests that people who knew the Florida shooter were slacking off and not alerting authorities.


On January 5, 2018, a person close to Nikolas Cruz contacted the FBI’s Public Access Line (PAL) tipline to report concerns about him. The caller provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.

The FBI admitted that the tip really should have been acted on and that it was their fault that it wasn’t.

Was there another factor that might have contributed to Nikolas Cruz taking his legally-acquired AR-15 to the Parkland school? Well, yes! The fact that it was legal for him to acquire an AR-15 in the first place!

A little over a month after his inauguration, on Feb. 28, 2017, President Trump signed HJ Resolution 40, a bill that made it easier for people with mental illness to obtain guns.

As the president observed, the shooter demonstrated signs that he was “mentally disturbed.”

Now, the spokesperson for the FLOTUS, Melania Trump, said 

 
But this wasn’t a case of the President being attacked. It’s a case of the Republican Party passing a bill and the President signing it that contributed to the shooting in Parkland, FL. It hardly counts as an attack when people point this out. It’s called “assigning responsibility.” Did Trump takes responsibility in the manner that the FBI did? Uh, no.

 
I think the phrase "Walk and chew gum" applies here. I think the FBI is more than capable of handling their investigation of Trump along with responding to tips. 

What gets to me is that there's no admission by Trump that he engaged in victim-blaming. No admission that he was wrong to say that people “Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!” They DID report! And there was more than one report. Trump just blames the FBI for a fault that they themselves admitted to.

This is not a President who will ever accomplish anything good. He’s far too wrapped up in trying to see to it that he never gets blamed for anything, even when something is obviously his fault. Signing the bill that permitted people with mental problems to obtain guns anyway was clearly something he could have refused to do. It was the fault of the Republican Party to pass such a bill in the first place, but that doesn’t absolve Trump in any way. It’s his signature on the bill.

I very seriously do not believe the US has ever had a more divisive president! 








2018/02/10

Are federally-funded pregnancy health centers the answer?

Of course, it's entirely possible for anti-choicers to construct centers that provide medical services for women. Obviously, if Planned Parenthood was serving a wealthy population with cash to spare, Planned Parenthood might never have come into being. Any pregnancy health centers needs to be funded either by voluntary contributions with no expectation of financial returns or they'd need government funding.  But with a little over a million abortions in 2011, is it at all likely that voluntary contributions will be forthcoming on the necessary scale? A major point that anti-choicers made was that they don't need to as there are  federal community health centers.
But Abby Johnson, a Catholic and former Planned Parenthood facility director, told the Register that the nation’s approximately 10,000 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) could absorb clients from any Planned Parenthood closures. However, she said these health centers are “not the whole package” women need, because they have material, physical and emotional needs that only pro-life medical centers can provide comprehensively. 
Also,
House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan succinctly and calmly laid out the case for redirecting taxpayer dollars from abortion goliath Planned Parenthood to federal community health centers at a CNN townhall Thursday night.  
So hey, not a problem, right? Instead of having women depending on that icky Planned Parenthood for needed pregnancy-related medical health services, just refer them to the federal community health centers. Simple, right? Well, those same centers, while serving around 27 million people at 10,000 centers, are under serious financial pressure and are having to impose hiring freezes and a little over half of them may have to lay off staff.

Planned Parenthood depends on Medicaid reimbursements, but they're not the government and therefore aren't quite as vulnerable to political pressure as the federally-funded health centers are. So no, the anti-choice movement really doesn't have an adequate answer to the pregnancy-related health care services that Planned Parenthood provides.

2018/02/03

President Trump and racism

This exchange between our President and a "career intelligence analyst who is an expert in hostage policy" is about the best example I've seen as to how someone can be a racist without being a really obvious, "out" or up-front racist. That is, without being a bedsheet-wearing night-rider who burns crosses on people's lawns or who openly uses the n-word.
It was her first time meeting the president, and when she was done briefing, he had a question for her.
"Where are you from?" the president asked, according to two officials with direct knowledge of the exchange.
New York, she replied.
Trump was unsatisfied and asked again, the officials said.

After some back and forth, he was finally satisfied when she revealed she was of Korean descent. Trump wondered aloud why she wasn't working on negotiations with North Korea.

What Trump did here was to assume that everybody acts without any regard for professionalism or any sort of objective viewpoint. That everybody acts in a race-conscious manner to advance the interests of their own race. 

Personally, I like comic strips like "Baldo," 
"Edge City"


and "Jump Start,"


strips about, respectively, a Latino, a Jewish and a black family. In all three cases, the families are aware of and take pride in their heritage. In none of these cases would these families regard their heritage as overriding their professionalism or their patriotism. For a racist like Trump, we're all in a "zero-sum game," where one group is constantly battling other groups for advantage, where people get their life missions from their ethnicity.

Update: 
Sigh! Okay, how do we distinguish racists from non-racists? Let’s look at an example.
Sessions invokes'Anglo-American heritage' of sheriff's office
Washington (CNN) Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday brought up sheriffs' "Anglo-American heritage" during remarks to law enforcement officials in Washington.
"I want to thank every sheriff in America. Since our founding, the independently elected sheriff has been the people's protector, who keeps law enforcement close to and accountable to people through the elected process," Sessions said in remarks at the National Sheriffs Association winter meeting, adding, "The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement."
"We must never erode this historic office," Sessions continued.

The addition of “Anglo-American heritage” was an ad lib by Sessions. Anglo-Americans might have historically invented modern law enforcement, but is there anything special about the way Anglo-Americans actually enforce the law in practice? 

Let’s look at the 2002 movie "Bend it like Beckham," we follow the adventures of two young English women (That's why they call it football and not soccer) who play soccer on the same team. On the field and in ways that relate directly to the game, they're very much alike. At home, because one is Anglo-Saxon and the other is a Sikh, they're very different. 

Same thing with law enforcement. Soccer is not a sport that’s restricted to any nationality or ethnicity, and in America, conducting law enforcement is not specific to Anglo-Americans. Soccer and law enforcement are alike in the way that any ethnic group can do them and they’ll all do it in the same manner.




2018/01/24

Lara Trump and the Women's March


Hmm. So Lara Trump (Daughter-in-law of the President) has several “proofs” as to why participants in last Sunday’s Woman’s March actually had nothing to complain about.

1. "Melania is incredible" Well, the last we heard of Melania's cyber-bullying initiative was in September and the last I heard, no one from the community that deals with that subject had heard anything from her in terms of her seeking any advice from them. So it's hard to give her any credit when she's invisible on her chosen issue.

2. "Democrats, they are okay with all women as long as you have their same opinion on things." Is Lara suggesting that wearing a skirt is sufficient reason for feminists/Democrats to support a woman? Certainly, Mike Huckabee has suggested that. He thinks that because his daughter (Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Press Secretary) is female, she should get support from feminists.

3. "the Women's March wasn't just about women. It was more of a hateful, anti-Trump protest" Yeah, that was kind of the whole point of it. As a participant in both this years and last years marches, I agree that our disagreement with the President was a very major reason for both marches.

4. "He has a woman as the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Education"

   4.a. The National Review had a headline on Kirstjen Nielsen "Left Fails to Praise Trump's Nomination…" (See point 2 about Mike Huckabee) But Neilsen was apparently amazed to hear that Norway had mostly white people in it. She's also never met a Dreamer. She was in the room for President Trump's "shithole" comment but gee, just can't seem to recall the word he used. These and many more details at this link.

   4.b. As to the Department of Education, yes, we've gone over and over Betsy DeVos. She tries to present herself here as a daring and innovative outsider. Her results though, have been less than impressive.

[DeVo] has yet to fill senior staff positions, and it’s widely known that numerous prominent Republicans having turned down offers. She has struggled to acclimate to the proverbial big ship that turns slowly. Perhaps most significant, she failed to persuade the committees of jurisdiction in Congress to approve her and the department’s budget request, which would have slashed funding to other initiatives in the name of expanding DeVos’ pet cause, school choice. It amounted to an embarrassing repudiation of a president and a secretary in their first year, when there is traditionally the most political capital to spend—especially considering Republicans control both the House and Senate.

So yes, Trump has appointed women to high-level positions, but are those appointees anything for feminists to feel pride in?

5. "He had the first woman run a successful presidential campaign, with Kellyanne [Conway]" Yeah, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking into how much of Trump’s “successful presidential campaign” was the result of good campaigning and how much was Russian influence, how much was white-collar crime and how much was cyber crime.

6. "Women's unemployment is at a 17-year low right now" When an economy does well or poorly at the beginning of a presidential term has a great deal to do with what happened in prior years. A big national economy is like an oil tanker. It’s a really big and hard-to-steer ship which takes a lot of energy to move. Changing course is difficult. It’s far from clear that Trump deserves much credit for economic good news. When does a president deserve credit? The Obama stimulus is a good example. Nearly $800 billion was pumped into the economy in short order and the economy very quickly became a success story. Eventually, Trump will be able to claim credit, but that will take awhile.

So, the big, final, ultimate conclusion that Lara Trump reaches is: "And, yet, these women out there are so anti-Trump. And I don't even think they know why. They just think that's the thing to do." Yeah, Twitter had a field day at that, many users asking who Lara even was.

Why did I march? The event that caused me to completely give up on the President and to conclude that he simply didn’t stand for American values was his reaction to the alt-right, torch-lit march in Charlottesville. By defending the march, Trump made it clear that he stood for Third Reich values.

President Trump’s war on climate change science has resulted in a staggering amount of straight-out censorship. As to the current effects of climate change:

We are now seeing the impacts of climate change everywhere. None of us thought that we would find huge changes taking place in the oceans, which have been largely ignored. But the range shifts [migration of plants and animals] there are 10 times that of land. Also, we are seeing diseases coming from ocean systems, like outbreaks of vibrio poisoning [bacteria that occur naturally in warm coastal areas]. We think of these as being tropical but we are now seeing outbreaks in colder waters like the Baltic and Alaska.

"Trump talked big about the opioid crisis, but he's failing to lead on that, too" “He did appoint a commission. I think those people did a pretty good job. They were smart, they listened, they came up with a lot of good ideas. And they’ve been ignored entirely.” There’s plenty of agreement on what to do, but spending money that way conflicts with the big Republican tax cut that was passed in December.

Vice President Pence was warned that Trump’s abrupt, unilateral decision to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Jordan sees nothing positive in that decision and much to be concerned about. It was announced in December that "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced Wednesday that the Palestinians will no longer work with American peace negotiators...”

It’s only when people get all of their news within the right-wing bubble that Trump’s presidency looks like a success.

2017/12/06

PRAWN Blog: Good Behavior

 PRAWN Blog: Good Behavior: Saw a few ads for the second season of the TV show “ Good Behavior ” and saved an episode and finally saw it today. The two main char...

Good Behavior


Saw a few ads for the second season of the TV show “Good Behavior” and saved an episode and finally saw it today. The two main characters Letty Raines (played by Michelle Dockery) and Javier (played by Juan Diego Botto) would clearly, if you asked them, state that they are villains, but that they’re trying to go straight.
Now, the villainy of Rainers and the past she’s trying to get away from is that she’s a shoplifter as well as a con artist. I spent the first few years of the 80s working in a department store in the security division. I just performed back-room support tasks, but listened in as my co-workers told tales of detecting and stopping shoplifters.
So I was interested to see what Raines’ techniques would be. I was mildly disappointed to see that they consisted of just walking into a shop, grabbing items, tossing them into her purse and walking out. She doesn’t have to deal with any surveillance, no tags on the clothing setting off alarms as she tries to leave, nothing. No art, no cleverness, no real challenge or drama to it.
Now, I understand why this is. Criminals really enjoy crime shows. They obviously don’t like seeing fellow criminals getting foiled or being punished, but they do enjoy seeing and learning from the techniques that the fictional criminals use. I also understand that there are probably some retailers underwriting part the advertising for the show and so the writers of the show don’t want to show any techniques that people might then use against their sponsors.
Eh, it’s a bit of a let-down. I’ll probably keep watching the show anyway, but I’ll have to settle for the complete lack of style on one of the villains parts in it.

2017/08/24

Pulling the wool over the President's eyes

I thought this statement was kind of fascinating. A reporter asks “Representative Chris Collins (R-NY) to give her just one example of Trump trying to work with Democrats.”

Collins: [President Trump] has had Democrat senators into the White House time and again, early on, talking about health care, attempting –

Tur: In what way did he reach out? Give me one way he reached out on healthcare other than a conversation?

Collins: It starts with conversation, and he was shut down immediately by Senator Schumer and the others, in saying that they weren't going to support anything called a repeal of Obamacare. They worked to put more money into the individual marketplace, but that was it. At which point he had no choice, but to turn to the Republicans, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan. We in the House sent a pretty darn good repeal and replace that didn't get through the Senate, but it takes two people and Senator Schumer –

So Trump “had no choice” but to work with McConnell and Ryan, who agreed with him that the ACA/Obamacare was hopelessly broken and needed to be torn down entirely and replaced wholesale. It wasn't that the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was stubborn, it was that Schumer didn't agree on the scope or the shape of the problem. Schumer felt that the problems with the ACA were small and fixable. Trump went with the far more dire and apocolyptic view pressed by the Republican Senate and House leaders. How did those two views end up being substantiated? Here's the view presented by Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway in late July, after Trumpcare failed to win passage in the Senate:

CONWAY: The president will not accept those who said it's, quote, time to move on. He wants to help the millions of Americans who have suffered with no coverage. They were lied to by the last president. They couldn't keep the doctor. They couldn't keep their plan.
We’ve met with the ObamaCare victims at the White House several times now. They’re real people, they’re suffering.

Okay so first off, yes, Trumpcare had crashed and burned with unanimous Democratic “No” votes and three rock-solid Republican “No” votes in the Senate, so yes it was and still is “time to move on.”
Second, it's kind of interesting that Conway doesn't cite any problems that require tearing down health care coverage for 20-plus million people. All of the CBO estimates for all of the Republican replacement plans in both the House and Senate called for removing at least 20 million people from their ACA health care plans. Trump apparently just wanted to extend coverage to even more people.
Were the American people lied to by President Obama? Well, that “they couldn't keep their plans” was pretty obvious to anyone who was seriously following the debate over the ACA in the first place. If you had crummy, inadequate individual coverage that had really high deductivles and lots of rules you had to follow in order to make a successful claim, then yes, such plans couldn't be kept. The ACA insisted that plans had to be comprehensive and had to cover a variety of health conditions and deductions were lmited by regulations. The prior individual coverage was good if you were young and healthy and were unlikely to ever make a claim and only really cared about the price you were paying.
Very interesting that Conway feels the need to assert that “Obamacare victims” were “real people.” Apparently, they had to search for people who weren't covered and their numbers appear to have been so small that Conway feels the need to assert that there were indeed such meetings.

Okay, so what about people on the other side of the question, people who urged a “No” vote on ACA repeal? How did ordinary citizens react to the failure of Trumpcare? Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) was one of the three Republican “No” votes and her return to Maine was described in a local paper:

Friday morning, as she wearily walked off her plane at Bangor International Airport, Collins stepped out into a terminal gate packed with passengers waiting to board their outbound flight.
She recognized no one. But several of them recognized her and began to applaud.
Within seconds, the whole terminal was clapping, many people rising to their feet as their sleep-deprived senator passed.
Never before, throughout her two decades and 6,300 votes in the Senate, had Collins received such a spontaneous welcome home.
It was absolutely extraordinary,” she said. “It was just so affirming of what happens when you do the right thing.”


So yeah, sounds to me as though Trump was given bum information by the Republican House and Senate leaders. Had the amateur president any real knowledge of the situation or the ability to separate BS from real facts, he might have gone with Schumer and the Democrats to achieving a real solution to a real problem. 

2017/07/15

Israel as the new Goliath

So Jewish people holding flags with the Star of David were not permitted to take part in a gay pride parade. The explanation from the parade organizers tells us that the decision had nothing to do with Jewish people and everything to do with the policies of the Israeli government as regards Palestinians. Statistics show that the Republican Party is very solidly pro-Israeli and the Democratic Party is about a third pro-Israel, a third pro-Palestinian and a third undecided. If there's any one single individual that has caused this situation to come about, that would be Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. By ignoring the President's role in foreign policy and speaking to Congress without President Obama's permission, Netanyahu strongly contributed to making support for Israel a partisan issue. 
But the heart of the issue is shown in the below story and it shows that Israel has become a ruthless, iron-booted occupier. A Palestinian village within Israel's borders had received solar panels from Holland. After the panels had been supplying power to the village for a year, Israel abruptly removed them, giving notice only when the removal of the panels was halfway complete, thereby giving the village no opportunity to appeal the decision. After the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel was seen as the scrappy, resourceful David to the Goliath of the surrounding Arab states. Now Israel appears to be the Goliath that is stepping on Palestinians.