September 29, 2016

What it's like to do business with Donald Trump

Daily Kos - J. Michael Diehl is a retired, small business owner. His business for many decades was selling instruments out of his Freehold Music Center in Freehold, New Jersey. His modest clientele included individuals, schools and local organizations. In 1989 Mr. Diehl was overjoyed to get a $100,000 contract from Donald Trump. It was one of the biggest sales Diehl’s business had ever made. The deal was for several grand and upright pianos, delivered in tuned, working order to Trump’s brand new Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. The money owed to Diehl would be paid within 90 days of delivery.
I asked my lawyer if I should ask for payment upfront, and he laughed. “It’s Donald Trump!” he told me. “He’s got lots of money.”
Of course, when Mr. Diehl asked for his money, a story began that we have heard more and more from people who have had business “dealings” with the Donald.
But when I requested payment, the Trump corporation hemmed and hawed. Its executives avoided my calls and crafted excuses. After a couple of months, I got a letter telling me that the casino was short on funds. They would pay 70 percent of what they owed me. There was no negotiating. I didn’t know what to do — I couldn’t afford to sue the Trump corporation, and I needed money to pay my piano suppliers. So I took the $70,000.
Losing $30,000 was a big hit to me and my family. The profit from Trump was meant to be a big part of my salary for the year. So I made much less. There was no money to help grow my business. I had less pianos in the showroom and a smaller advertising budget. Because of Trump, my store stagnated for a couple of years. It made me feel really bad, like I’d been taken advantage of. I was embarrassed.

Obama rules a week of sick leave for workers on federal contracts

Thoughts of Donald Trump

Huffington Post - In a January 1997 interview with Donald Trump, shock jock Howard Stern relayed some crude marital advice that the brash businessman gave him before his second trip down the aisle, with Marla Maples. (The couple would separate a few months later.) 

“Donald pulled me aside at his wedding,” Stern said in comments that had not resurfaced until now. “He said, you know I am getting remarried, but Howard, vagina is expensive. I will never forget those words. The guy is right. Those were the exact words!”

13 states bar contracts to firms that boycott apartheid Israel

Mondoweiss - In a victory for Israel advocates, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Brown’s signature makes California the 13th state to enact an anti-BDS measure, most of which bar state contracts or pension funds from going to entities–non-profits or corporations–that support BDS. (12 of those states, including California, passed the law through the normal legislative process. In New York, though, Governor Andrew Cuomo bypassed the legislature and signed an executive order barring state funds from flowing to entities that support BDS.)

California’s law is slightly different than other states’ in that it requires a company who receives a state contract over $100,000 to certify, under penalty of perjury, that any policy they have against Israel, including a boycott, is not discriminatory. Legal organizations against the bill–the Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal and the National Lawyers Guild–have criticized the language as potentially leading to a floodgate of “complaints, investigations, and possible felony prosecutions into the thoughts and beliefs motivating a prospective contractor’s support for Palestinian human rights,” as they wrote in a letter opposing the bill.
In a victory for Israel advocates, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement on Saturday.
Brown’s signature makes California the 13th state to enact an anti-BDS measure, most of which bar state contracts or pension funds from going to entities–non-profits or corporations–that support BDS. (12 of those states, including California, passed the law through the normal legislative process. In New York, though, Governor Andrew Cuomo bypassed the legislature and signed an executive order barring state funds from flowing to entities that support BDS.)
California’s law is slightly different than other states’ in that it requires a company who receives a state contract over $100,000 to certify, under penalty of perjury, that any policy they have against Israel, including a boycott, is not discriminatory. Legal organizations against the bill–the Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal and the National Lawyers Guild–have criticized the language as potentially leading to a floodgate of “complaints, investigations, and possible felony prosecutions into the thoughts and beliefs motivating a prospective contractor’s support for Palestinian human rights,” as they wrote in a letter opposing the bill.
Asked for comment on the bill, Deborah Hoffman, a spokesperson for Governor Brown, told Mondoweisswe are letting the governor’s signature speak for itself and won’t be commenting any further.”
Brown’s decision is the latest victory for pro-Israel groups, who have lobbied legislators across the country to enact anti-BDS legislation. California is one of the most significant prizes for pro-Israel groups. It’s the most populous state in the country and activists groups on opposing sides of the issue have waged intense battles over BDS and Israel-Palestine. The University of California, Berkeley’s decision to suspend a class on Palestine and settler-colonialism–and then reverse that decision–was the latest case to make headlines in the state and the country.
- See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/09/governor-signature-california/#sthash.u96ntJ2R.dpuf
In a victory for Israel advocates, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement on Saturday.
Brown’s signature makes California the 13th state to enact an anti-BDS measure, most of which bar state contracts or pension funds from going to entities–non-profits or corporations–that support BDS. (12 of those states, including California, passed the law through the normal legislative process. In New York, though, Governor Andrew Cuomo bypassed the legislature and signed an executive order barring state funds from flowing to entities that support BDS.)
California’s law is slightly different than other states’ in that it requires a company who receives a state contract over $100,000 to certify, under penalty of perjury, that any policy they have against Israel, including a boycott, is not discriminatory. Legal organizations against the bill–the Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal and the National Lawyers Guild–have criticized the language as potentially leading to a floodgate of “complaints, investigations, and possible felony prosecutions into the thoughts and beliefs motivating a prospective contractor’s support for Palestinian human rights,” as they wrote in a letter opposing the bill.
Asked for comment on the bill, Deborah Hoffman, a spokesperson for Governor Brown, told Mondoweisswe are letting the governor’s signature speak for itself and won’t be commenting any further.”
Brown’s decision is the latest victory for pro-Israel groups, who have lobbied legislators across the country to enact anti-BDS legislation. California is one of the most significant prizes for pro-Israel groups. It’s the most populous state in the country and activists groups on opposing sides of the issue have waged intense battles over BDS and Israel-Palestine. The University of California, Berkeley’s decision to suspend a class on Palestine and settler-colonialism–and then reverse that decision–was the latest case to make headlines in the state and the country.
- See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/09/governor-signature-california/#sthash.u96ntJ2R.dpuf

Alabama corrections officers join prison strike

in Alabama last weekend, following a strike initiated and organized by prisoners, a small group of prison guards disrupted that paradigm by refusing to work.

“War brings about strange bedfellows,” said Pastor Kenneth Glasgow, national spokesperson for the Free Alabama Movement, a prisoner solidarity organization that has been communicating with the striking guards and prisoners. “The officers really understand [the prisoners’] reasoning even if they don’t agree with all of it and are just at the point where they don’t feel safe.”

Guards at Alabama’s William C. Holman Correctional Facility have a reason not to feel safe: Earlier this month, an inmate fatally stabbed Officer Kenneth Bettis. He had been left alone to supervise as many as 200 inmates, according to WKRG.com.

That’s not an uncommon situation in the understaffed, overcrowded facility.

“Often times down there you might have 17 officers dealing with as many as 1,000 inmates,” Officer Troy Hughes, a guard at Limestone Correctional Facility in northern Alabama, told TakePart. Hughes is familiar with some of the officers at Holman.

Some Holman guards decided they’d had enough. After Bettis’ funeral on Saturday, a number of them didn’t show up to work their scheduled shifts, a prison spokesman told AL.com. Hughes said, “We call it the blue flu—everybody just called in sick after they buried one of their officers.” Glasgow said more than 15 officers failed to show up for work, while the Holman spokesman put the number at nine.

The corrections officers’ work stoppage comes as a nationwide prison strike, which began on the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising, entered its third week. While broadly characterized as a labor strike organized to demand fair pay for the work prisoners do behind bars—often for meager wages or none at all—Azzurra Crispino of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee told TakePart that prisoners are participating in whatever way they can. Crispino’s organization has tracked participation—whether ongoing or onetime—in 46 correctional facilities nationwide since Sept. 9. Some prisoners without jobs have gone on hunger strike, while others who feel they can’t risk ceasing to work entirely have slowed down their pace.

.... The Holman guards’ work stoppage is not the first time the interests of officers and inmates have intersected. In Huntsville, Texas, a corrections union has advocated for a reduction in the use of solitary confinement because members believe its excessive use creates an unsafe working environment.

A few possible reasons Trump is doing so well

Ray Williams, Psychology Today
  • After leading the world for decades in 25-34 year olds with university degrees, the U.S. is now in 12th place. The World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. at 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010. Nearly 50% of all graduate students in the sciences in the U.S. are foreigners, most of whom are returning to their home countries;
  • The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs commissioned a civic education poll among public school students. A surprising 77% didn't know that George Washington was the first President; couldn't name Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence; and only 2.8% of the students actually passed the citizenship test. Along similar lines, the Goldwater Institute of Phoenix did the same survey and only 3.5% of students passed the civics test;
  • According to the National Research Council report, only 28% of high school science teachers consistently follow the National Research Council guidelines on teaching evolution, and 13% of those teachers explicitly advocate creationism or "intelligent design;"
  • 18% of Americans still believe that the sun revolves around the earth, according to a Gallup poll;
  • The American Association of State Colleges and Universities report on education shows that the U.S. ranks second among all nations in the proportion of the population aged 35-64 with a college degree, but 19th in the percentage of those aged 25-34 with an associate or high school diploma, which means that for the first time, the educational attainment of young people will be lower than their parents;
  • 74% of Republicans in the U.S. Senate and 53% in the House of Representatives deny the validity of climate change despite the findings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and every other significant scientific organization in the world;
  • According to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 68% of public school children in the U.S. do not read proficiently by the time they finish third grade. And the U.S. News & World reported that barely 50% of students are ready for college level reading when they graduate;
  • According to a 2006 survey by National Geographic-Roper, nearly half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 do not think it necessary to know the location of other countries in which important news is being made. More than a third consider it "not at all important" to know a foreign language, and only 14 percent consider it "very important;"
  • According to the National Endowment for the Arts report in 1982, 82% of college graduates read novels or poems for pleasure; two decades later only 67% did. And more than 40% of Americans under 44 did not read a single book--fiction or nonfiction--over the course of a year. The proportion of 17 year olds who read nothing (unless required by school ) has doubled between 1984-2004;
  • Gallup released a poll indicating 42 percent of Americans still believe God created human beings in their present form less than 10,000 years ago;
  • A 2008 University of Texas study found that 25 percent of public school biology teachers believe that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth simultaneously.

Trump's staff has its own law & order problems

Rachel Maddow looks how criminal accusations against several prominent Trump campaign staffers show what the campaign will tolerate and what costs a person their job. This is a story that has not been generally reported.

September 28, 2016

Blacks three times as likely to be killed by cops than whites

The stats on police violence against blacks

Half of Oregon residents support rent control

Polling firm DHM Research has found that a slight majority of Oregon residents now support the repeal of the statewide ban on rent control, with 52 percent of Oregonians supporting the change. Jim Redden of the Portland

Immigrants help the economy

Rural Blog - "Waves of immigrants coming into the U.S. in recent decades have helped the economy over the long haul and had little lasting impact on the wages or employment levels of native-born Americans, according to one of the most comprehensive studies yet on the topic," Jeffrey Sparshott reports for The Wall Street Journal.

The study by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine,found that immigrants have a very small effect on wages of American-born workers, with most of that coming among low-skilled workers who are most likely high-school dropouts.

The study found that "immigration also can lead to more innovation, entrepreneurship and technological change across the economy," Researchers found that “the prospects for long-run economic growth in the U.S. would be considerably dimmed without the contributions of high-skilled immigrants" and "that 'over a long time horizon (about 75 years)' the fiscal impacts of immigrants 'are generally positive at the federal level and negative at the state and local levels.'”

The study did find that "immigration can burden government finances, especially education budgets at the state and local levels," Sparshott writes.

Trump interrupted Clinton 25 times in the first 26 minutes of the debate

Union launches boycott of Trump properties

Huffington Post -The union that recently organized workers at Donald Trump’s Las Vegas hotel announced that it was launching a formal boycott of the Republican nominee’s properties around the country.

The Culinary Workers Union, a powerful player in Nevada politics, said it will be urging people not to stay at Trump hotels, eat at Trump restaurants or play golf at Trump courses until he starts bargaining with the union over a first contract. The Las Vegas group, which is part of the national hospitality industry union Unite Here, has been waging a long-running battle with the Trump Organization.

The boycott will be supported by the AFL-CIO, a federation of 56 unions that represent some 12 million workers around the country, according to Bethany Khan, a Culinary Workers Union spokeswoman. She said it will involve properties that Trump “owns, has invested in, or has partnered with.”

September 27, 2016

Ireland joins Iceland in prosecuting bankers

Your News Wire - Following from last year’s mass incarceration of 26 bankers in Iceland, Ireland is going to prosecute the 2005-2008 CEO of Anglo Irish Bank, David Drumm, on 33 criminal charges.

Anonhq.com reports:

These include two charges of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting relating to €7.2 billion in deposits placed in Anglo Irish Bank accounts by the then Irish Life and Permanent, between March and September 2008.

16 of the 33 charges relate to unlawfully authorizing billions in loans (to be invested back into Anglo Irish Bank) to 16 wealthy investors, in a bid to artificially prop up Anglo Irish Bank’s share price before its December 2008 collapse. Each of the 33 offenses carries a 5 or 10 year jail term, except for a single count of conspiracy to defraud, which has a maximum penalty of an “unlimited term of imprisonment” under Irish law.

Debate stat

Trump interrupted Clinton 51 times at the debate. She interrupted him just 17 times.

Poverty drops along with other good news

Guardian - Like a bolt from the blue there has been a flurry of uncharacteristically positive headlines on wages and poverty in the US.....

The figures from the 2015 Census Bureau reports, which span poverty, income and health insurance data, revealed that the official US poverty rate had experienced one of its biggest single-year falls in almost half a century, dropping from 14.8% to 13.5%. Just over 3.5 million fewer Americans were living in poverty than in the previous year.

And, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities pointed out, the typical household’s income leapt by 5.2% in 12 months, representing “the largest increase in median income in both percentage and dollar terms ever recorded, with data back to 1967”. America is finally back on its feet but the poor are being left behind Read more

Also significant for a country where the cost of accessing medical care has risen markedly over the years, the number of uninsured Americans fell in 2015 by 4 million. This means that the proportion of the population without health insurance stood at a record low last year of 9.1%.

How FDA manipulates the media

Scientific American - The FDA, like other sources of scientific information, are gaining control of journalists who are supposed to keep an eye on those institutions. The watchdogs are being turned into lapdogs. “Journalists have ceded the power to the scientific establishment,” says Vincent Kiernan, a science journalist and dean at George Mason University. “I think it's interesting and somewhat inexplicable, knowing journalists in general as being people who don't like ceding power.”

The press corps is primed for manipulation by a convention that goes back decades: the embargo. The embargo is a back-room deal between journalists and the people they cover—their sources. A source grants the journalist access on condition that he or she cannot publish before an agreed-on date and time.

A surprisingly large proportion of science and health stories are the product of embargoes. Most of the major science journals offer reporters advance copies of upcoming articles—and the contact information of the authors—in return for agreeing not to run with the story until the embargo expires.. . . Other institutions have also adopted the embargo system. Federal institutions, especially the ones science and health journalists report on, have as well.

... The embargo system is such an established institution in science journalism that few reporters complain or even think about its darker implications, at least until they themselves feel slighted.

Welcome to the new Hillary Clinton



Sam Smith - Whoever prepped Hillary Clinton for the first debate deserves a national medal of honor.  Gone was her poor imitation  of her husband’s Arkansas thuggery and the grandiose cattle calling that has hurt so many of her speeches. Instead was a bright, strong, pleasant leader for a new time.

Of course it was made easier because Hillary Clinton doesn’t really exist – only her reaction to things.  But compared to, say, Donald Trump’s consistent narcissism so unperceptive that he even took credit for not paying income taxes, it’s not bad, especially as she discovers a new generation to which to appeal.

And, as noted here recently, it’s happened before as when Lyndon Johnson dumped his segregationist past and led the passage of the great civil rights legislation of the 1960s. Politicians don’t always have to be good to be right.

Now, the key thing about Hillary Clinton is who puts the pressure on her. Thanks to the Sanders crowd, she is learning to react to something far better than in the past. The trick, if she is elected, is for the young, the unfairly treated, and the ignored to become the sound to which she responds. And the first debate was a sign of a great start.  

September 26, 2016

How Clinton could handle Trump

Sam Smith - Although we know that the debate commission will allow Trump to lie without moderator interference at tonight's debate, the other rules are not clear or published. So one little suggestion: Find a way for Hillary to indicate when Trump is lying. For example, if there is a media outlet that is keeping track of the lies, have Clinton's cell phone tuned to that source.

Ideally she could hold up an Ipad that showed how many lies Trump had committed so far,  but if that is not possible she might say at the start that she will keep the audience informed by a finger count. The beauty of this is that it takes no time and might really catch on with the audience while driving Trump crazy.

Is LED dead?

Planetizen - Cities all over the country are adding LED lights to streets and roadways all over the country, seeking energy efficiency and reduced maintenance requirements. A new report, however, raises alarms about the health impacts of the lights. Michael Ollove reports:
The American Medical Association issued a warning in June that high-intensity LED streetlights — such as those in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Houston and elsewhere — emit unseen blue light that can disturb sleep rhythms and possibly increase the risk of serious health conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
According to Ollove, nearly 13 percent of roadway lighting now use LED lights, with many more plans planning to switch to the technology in the near future, so the AMA's report applies to a huge swath of the country.

And that's not the only concern. "The AMA also cautioned that those light-emitting-diode lights can impair nighttime driving vision," adds Ollove.

The good news is that the AMA does approve of lower-intensity version of the bulbs. New York City, for example, has switched to a lower-intensity version of LED lights in efforts to retrofit its streetlights.

20 million would lose coverage under Trump health plan

Debate commissioner favors no limits on Trump's lying

Complex - It looks like Donald Trump is getting his wish: Moderators of the three presidential debates likely won't be encouraged by the committee that selected them for the job to fact-check the candidates when they lie on stage.

Head of the commission Janet Brown told CNN reporter Brian Stelter on Sunday that she didn't want the moderators to "serv[e] as the Encyclopedia Britannica.” And Brown isn't alone in that belief. Fox News's Chris Wallace, who is hosting the third and final debate, is already there—he told Fox earlier this month that it's not his job to fact-check candidates because he's "not a truth squad."

It would be safe to hazard a guess that this will frustrate Hillary Clinton's campaign, considering that only four percent of her opponent's claims that have been fact-checked by the Pulitzer Prize-winning website Politifact have been rated completely true. (To dig deeper: Only 15 percent of Trump's comments have been ranked 'true' or 'mostly true,' compared to Clinton's 50 percent.)

The news comes just hours after Trump campaign spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway told a reporter from ABC News that she really doesn't  appreciate "the campaigns thinking it is the job of the media to go and be these virtual fact-checkers.” She then pointed to an interview Trump did with Matt Lauer this month, in which Lauer famously declines to challenge Trump's assertion that he has always opposed the war in Iraq, as an example of an interview done right.

"We thought he did a great job,” Conway told the reporter.

Clinton losing serious electoral vote ground





While Clinton is comfortably ahead of Trump in electoral votes, she has steadily been losing ground since her high of 275 firm ones - five more than needed for a victory. Now she only has 130 firm votes, This is 47% as many certain electoral votes as she once had and her worst so far. Another 187 electoral votes are possibly Democratic. On the other hand, only 48 electoral votes are definitely in the Trump column. Another 177 are possible.

A few things to remember about Donald Trump while watching the debate



No Fortune 100 CEOs, presumably smart business people,  have given to Trump

The New York Attorney General called Trump University “a straight up fraud”

Trump projects have received at least $885 million in public subsidies

Trump & Co has been involved in over 4,000 lawsuits

Donald Trump's own line of men's wear, the Donald J. Trump Signature Collection, is manufactured in China

Trump Tower was built in part by undocumented Polish workers without hard hats and getting $5 an hour

In five cases, the Trump Foundation told the IRS that it had given a gift to a charity whose leaders told The Washington Post that they had never received it.

Also according to the Washington Post:  
Trump’s casino bankruptcies left investors holding the bag while he skedaddled with their money·

Trump refused to pay contractors who had done work for him, many of whom are struggling small businesses

The Trump Network, a multi-level marketing venture (a.k.a. pyramid scheme) involved customers mailing in a urine sample which would be analyzed to produce for them a specially formulated package of multivitamins

 Trump Model Management reportedly had foreign models lie to customs officials and work in the U.S. illegally, and kept them in squalid conditions while they earned almost nothing for the work they did

Trump’s employed foreign guest workers at his resorts.

Trump paid the Federal Trade Commission $750,000 over charges that he violated anti-trust laws when trying to take over a rival casino company

 Trump is now being advised by Roger Ailes, who was forced out as Fox News chief when dozens of women came forward to charge him with sexual harassment.
According to the Daily Beast, “Four Donald Trump-licensed real-estate developments are at the center of a huge income tax evasion scheme, according to allegations in a lawsuit unsealed by a judge in Manhattan. “ Trump was described as a material witness in “the evasion of taxes on as much as $250 million in income. According to the court papers, that includes $100 million in profits and $65 million in real-estate transfer taxes from a Manhattan high rise project bearing his familiar name.” 

On issues:
·      
Trump wants to cut your Social Security
Trump has come out against women's choice
Trump's veep pick wanted Iraq War
Trump praised Saddam Hussein and Putin

According to the Tax Policy Center analysis of the Trump tax plan, “the highest-income households would receive the largest cuts, both in dollars and as a percentage of income.” People at the bottom of the economic ladder would receive, on average, a $128 tax cut under Trump’s plan, while the top 0.1 percent would take home an extra $1.3 million.”
Just to mention a few. . . 

September 25, 2016

Trump hit with 3500 law suits alleged non payment of contracts

USA Today - Donald Trump casts himself as a protector of workers and jobs, but a USA Today Network investigation found hundreds of people – carpenters, dishwashers, painters, even his own lawyers – who say he didn’t pay them for their work.

Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will "protect your job." But a USA Today Network analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.

At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.

Trump’s companies have also been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005 for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. That includes 21 citations against the defunct Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and three against the also out-of-business Trump Mortgage LLC in New York. Both cases were resolved by the companies agreeing to pay back wages.

In addition to the lawsuits, the review found more than 200 mechanic’s liens — filed by contractors and employees against Trump, his companies or his properties claiming they were owed money for their work — since the 1980s. The liens range from a $75,000 claim by a Plainview, N.Y., air conditioning and heating company to a $1 million claim from the president of a New York City real estate banking firm. On just one project, Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, records released by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in 1990 show that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time, including workers who installed walls, chandeliers and plumbing.

“Let’s say that they do a job that’s not good, or a job that they didn’t finish, or a job that was way late. I’ll deduct from their contract, absolutely. That’s what the country should be doing.” Donald Trump

Campaign issues we hadn't thought about yet

Huffington Post - Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson said that the human race will need to colonize other worlds in order to survive.

“This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked the former New Mexico governor about something he said in 2011, when he seemed to dismiss the growing threat of climate change.

“In billions of years, the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth, right? So global warming is in our future,” Johnson, who opposes environmental regulation, said at the time.

Morning Line Update

Based on the average of recent polls:


Nationally, Hillary Clinton is two points behind Trump, a statistical tie. This is tied with her previous worst position vs Trump. Her current average percentage is 41% . Her election range has been 38-46%

Clinton is leading with 159 of the needed 270 electoral votes, down from her best of 275.. This is 59% as many certain electoral votes as she once had. Another 158 electoral votes are possibly Democratic. Only 48 electoral votes are definitely in the Trump column. Another 177 are possible.

In the Senate the Democrats stand to gain two seats. The Democrats have a slight lead in two more and the GOP in one. Thyre is one tie. The Dems need to win four seats (plus a Democratic Veep) to control the Senate.

In governorships, Democrats should pick up 1 this year. Democrats have already gained another, . Democrats are each leaning ahead in 2 race and Repubicans in one

Trump's new justice choice thinks child labor laws, Medicare and Society Security are unconstitutional

Think Progress - Last May, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released a list of 11 sitting judges who, he says, fit the ideological mold of the kind of people he will appoint to the Supreme Court if elected president. The list ran the conservative gamut from judges who cut their teeth questioning judicial power to judges who want to revive long-discredited doctrines once used to tear down the minimum wage and other basic labor laws.

On Friday, Trump added 10 names to his list of potential justices. The new list is notable in that it includes a number of fairly obscure judges, including a few who currently serve as trial judges. It also includes people of color, something his first list did not.

The first name on the new list, however, is Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). ...

Lee’s conservatism is rooted in a hard-line understanding of the Constitution that was popular among judges in the early twentieth century but is now widely viewed as wrong and immoral. As a candidate for the senate in 2010, Lee laid out many of the consequences of his vision . . . .Among other things, Lee believes that federal child labor laws, Medicare and Social Security are all unconstitutional.

Aside from the Second Amednment, Trump doesn't like the Constitution that much

Word; Trump is no populist

Jim Hightower - Candidate Trump grandiosely says he'll lift up the middle class, but his proposed economic policies would do the opposite by expanding the GOP's old anti-labor agenda: giving massive new tax cuts to corporations and the rich, slashing public spending on programs that working families rely on, and embracing the laissez-faire ideological claptrap that Tea Party Republicans mindlessly repeat in their ceaseless efforts to drive down wages.

On the minimum wage, he's taken more positions than you'll find in the "Kama Sutra." First, he said $7.25 an hour was already too much; then he called for abolishing the wage floor entirely; then he mused that he might be open to an increase (but certainly not the $15-an-hour living wage that worker activists are fighting for). Even Trump's "rock-solid" opposition to NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and other trade scams now looks to be a political bait-and-switch fraud, as indicated by his choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to be his VP and top policy "partner." Pence is a notorious free-trade fanatic who pushed zealously to pass all eight trade deals that came before him while in Congress, and he's been lobbying hard this year for passage of the TPP.

Now, consider whom he's vilifying, mocking and bullying at his rallies and in his tweets. Overwhelmingly, they are terrorized migrants, Mexican immigrants he labels "rapists," black protestors experiencing police brutality, disabled individuals, and so on. This pampered son of privilege wants America's hard-hit, angry working people to elect him because he demonstrates the "courage" to be politically incorrect by kicking the poor, the powerless, and the marginalized. Since he's willing to do that, how long will it take him to throw those workers into the ditch, too?

Some might see Trump as a brilliant, can-do corporate chieftain (though his multiple bankruptcies among other business disasters make that assessment doubtful). Or they might be tempted to cast a protest vote to throw the political class into disarray. But people should consider the consequences and not fool themselves into thinking Trump's a populist who'll be on our side. In his heart, mind, and whole being, the central political truth about Trump is that he's foremost a Trumpist -- of, by and for himself.

September 24, 2016

Whatever happened to foreign aid and other alternatives to war?


Google graph of mentions of "foreign aid"

We are now winding down fifteen years of military policy failure in the Mid East and still hardly anyone in power discusses any alternatives. For example, as the Google Ngram chart above shows, In the wake of World War II, we helped struggling countries with foreign aid, a term one hardly hears any more. 

What if the huge sums spent on military failure in the Mid East had been used instead in foreign aid?  What effect would that have had on ISIS or the Orlando attack? 

A major part of of our foreign policy failure today is an inordinate reliance on military solutions that don't work. It's well past time to come up with other answers. 

For example, Deutsche Welle reported:
In a newly published report, the IMF said years of conflict have destroyed the economies of several countries in the Middle East. The organization said it could take years for countries to regain their footing.

The Washington-based lender said conflicts had sparked recessions, driven up inflation and rendered institutions powerless from Libya to Yemen.

Ongoing wars have seen Syria's GDP in 2015 account for less than half of what it did in 2010, while Yemen has lost as much as 35 percent of its GDP this year, the report said. In Iraq and Afghanistan, inflation reached more than 30 percent in the mid-2000s, while in Yemen and Libya it peaked at more than 15 percent in 2011.

In addition, conflicts have also had economic consequences for neighboring countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey, leading to an influx of refugees and weaker security.
And as Andrew Bacevich wrote in the Nation last May:
Imagine the opposing candidates in a presidential campaign each refusing to accept war as the new normal. Imagine them actually taking stock of the broader fight that’s been ongoing for decades now. Imagine them offering alternatives to armed conflicts that just drag on and on. Now that would be a milestone.