Saturday, January 28, 2017

Trump as Tricky Don: Why it's better to compare Trump to Nixon than that German dictator

One aspect that makes Trump so difficult to combat is that he has little sense of ethics or fairness. While he is not book-smart and seems to have some type of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, he can be cunning to the point of cruel.

That was seen in his first week in office, when he signed a dozen orders or memorandas to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, allow the Dakota Access pipeline, curb abortion funding, eradicate environmental regulations, build the wall along Mexico, and expand the definition of who was a criminal who could be deported. He also ordered all federal employees to stop sending out information on social media and not speak with the media or Congress.

The flurry of executive orders and memos had opponents reeling to respond. Trump signed the order on abortion the day after the historic Women’s March, surrounded by only men in his office, in a show that seemed vindictive. His calls to study whether illegal immigrants voted in the millions against him appeared more targeted to divert much of the media’s attention away from the orders and the Russia scandal.

“What he’s going to do at a policy level is much, much worse than most liberals understand,” CNN commentator VanJones told Rolling Stone. “It's going to be a counter-revolution from above, against everything we care about – from climate to women's rights, to Social Security, to health care. At the same time, he will do a lot of things, optically, to throw the media off and to surprise people and delight people and entertain people. You're going to have a lot of bread-and-circuses from Trump.” 

It won’t do much good to try to portray Trump as a “cartoon character of…Hitleresque hatemonger,” Jones said. That “means that all he has to do is be slightly better than that and everybody's shocked.” He preferred to think of him as “Tricky Dick on steroids.” 

I know many compare Trump to the German dictator, and there are some similarities, especially when he calls for a Muslim ban and registry. But I still tend to agree with Jones that it's better to stick to the Nixon comparison. 

Call him Tricky Don.

Tricky Don works since Trump is slippery, even cunning to the point of being evil. But he hasn't gone Hitlerean evil yet, so bringing up the latter will just cause people who have reserves about Trump to automatically discount your criticism. The Nazi age is too dark to most people to contemplate, while the Nixon age was more a political crime, one more people are willing to consider. And it's important to get as many people questioning Trump's legitimacy as possible.

While some called Tricky Don’s war on the press worse than any modern-day president, he still had a ways to go to reach the level of Tricky Dick Nixon, wrote Stanford communications professor James T.Hamilton.  Nixon often bypassed reporters with live TV events and publicly criticized them as “biased elites” and “the enemy,” Hamilton wrote. But he went beyond that to use the IRS, CIA, and FBI against journalists, as well as other illegal tactics.

Nixon spent hours each day studying media reports and counseling aides on how to manipulate the press, wrote author and University of Maryland journalism professor MarkFeldstein in Poisoning the Press. He told aides it was “good politics for us to kick the press around.” Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler called all TV networks “anti-Nixon” and threatened they would “pay for that, sooner or later.”

Sound familiar?

Nixon and his henchmen went beyond verbal attacks. Federal prosecutors proposed a law making it a felony for reporters to use unauthorized sources in their stories. Nixon ordered aides to “pick the twenty most vicious Washington reporters” and leak false reports to make them look bad. “Just kill the sons of bitches,” he reportedly said. First on that list was columnist Jack Anderson, who took questionable actions himself like infer that Spiro Agnew’s son was gay to attack his father. The journalists were targeted with tax audits, lawsuits, and criminal prosecution, Feldstein wrote. Some experienced suspicious home burglaries in which nothing was stolen but their notes were reviewed. 

Nixon also approved illegal wiretaps to listen to their phone conversations, and his Justice Department took three TV networks to court on antitrust charges. In addition, Nixon requested that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover write “a run down on the homosexuals known and suspected in the Washington press corps,” so he could use that information against them. 

So look for such retaliation to occur against the press today. And be ready to support the media and call out Tricky Don and dirty-trickster plumbers like Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.

Like Tricky Don, Nixon could be bigoted himself, calling Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg “the Jew” and even aide Henry Kissinger “my Jew boy.” And like Trump, those who hoped that Nixon would temper his vindictiveness when he ascended to the White House were wrong.

Trump's campaign slogans were even similar to Nixon's, noted Jacob Thomas YantWhile Nixon said he was aligned with the "non-shouters and non-demonstrators," Trump often said in his campaign that “the silent majority stands with Trump." Nixon claimed to have a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War, similar to Trump’s hidden plan to “defeat ISIS.” Nixon’s “Bring Us Together” slogan in 1968 was similar to what Trump said when he continues to claim he is going to “bring our country together.”

Furthermore, Nixon began the “War on Drugs” in 1971 that led to African-Americans being incarcerated for minor drug offenses, while most whites were “given much more leniency for similar offenses,” Yant wrote. Trump seeks to pit groups against each other in a similar way as Nixon.

Eventually, we need to get in the public's mind that Trump is worse than Nixon and should be driven from office, as Nixon was. We have a nonviolent, legal blueprint to remove him from office since it was done some 43 years ago. We should use it to our advantage.

Monday, January 23, 2017

So now we know what those white areas were at Trump's inauguration

All right, Spicer, I admit you're right. There were more people at Trump's #inauguration than it looked. 

So this is what all those white areas were... 

#justtryingtohelp #AlternativeFacts #SpicerFacts #AltFacts #Trumpfacts

Women's March Largest Demonstration in U.S. History; Trump sets record for most rejections by women in one day

Just a day after Trump gave another campaign speech in front of a relatively sparse crowd on the National Mall, many more people flooded D.C. for the Women's March on Washington.

While organizers said about one million people were in D.C., another 3 million or so marched in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and smaller cities across the country. Then another roughly 2 million in other countries staged demonstrations against Trump, making it about 6 million participants worldwide. It was a record by far for a one-day protest in the United States.  

As some said, Trump also set a record for a man being rejected by the most women in a single day.

“This coordinated day of global action surpassed all of our expectations,” said Women’s March on Washington co-founder and co-chair Bob Bland. "Together, we demonstrated the capacity of women working together in unity to create transformational change."

Bland announced a 100-day action plan to work on issues such as civil rights, healthcare, and environmental justice. The campaign will announce timely actions in rolling fashion, such as sending postcards to representatives and helping participants build local action networks.

More details of the 100-day action are here.

The first action is to send postcards to Senators on important issues; printable cards can be found here. 

I attended the last part of the march in D.C. I had planned to take my daughter, who wanted to attend since her best friend went, but she wasn't feeling well. I also joined some protests the previous day in D.C., after running into anarchists who were smashing windows and confronting police, who responded by throwing flash grenades into the crowd. It was an.... interesting time, to say the least. I was sorry not to witness a masked anarchist type punch white nationalist Richard Spencer as he gave an interview in person; that even got play on Saturday Night Live.

My report on that day is both on Oped News here and Buzzfeed here [yes, the same outfit Trump called a "failing pile of garbage"]. 

Finally, I have to address Trump's claim that more than a million people were on the mall during his divisive campaign speech. I drove through D.C. both Friday and Saturday about the same time. Traffic was much worse Saturday, signifying more people in D.C. Photos of Trump's crowd showed it was significantly less than Obama's. I was at Obama's inauguration in 2009; we had to stand WAY past the Washington Monument near the WWII Memorial. There were still people behind us all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. Trump's crowd didn't even reach the Washington Monument before thinning out. #altfacts #alternativefacts #spicerfacts #trumpfacts

Look at these photos. The first was taken at the exact moment Obama spoke in 2009, the next when Trump spoke. You can see a lot of white spaces in Trump's. Obama's crowd is shown here going way beyond the Washington Monument.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Trump, Gingrich piss on First Amendment; Is this a step in a Trump-Putin plan to control the planet?

Trump and his aides like Gingrich are taking more steps to "break" the press by getting more right-wing bloggers and ilk from sites like Breitbart at those press conferences. This Media Matters story here lends more details on their campaign, which should concern all who care about the First Amendment.
Trump's alignment with Putin make crackdowns on the media more alarming than what Nixon, Reagan or Bush did against the press since the latter Republicans were not aligning themselves with a dictator who has imprisoned critics and seen numerous murders of journalists on his watch. A year ago, Trump maintained it was never proven that Putin was involved in those killings. Linda Qiu with PolitiFact wrote that it was true no one had proven Putin ordered assassinations of journalists and dissidents but stated, “Experts say the political climate in Russia is responsible for the high volume of journalist murders in the country.”
Moreover, Russia ranked 176th out of 199 countries worldwide in press freedom, according to an annual report released by D.C.-based Freedom House in 2016. Countries such as Zimbabwe, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and Venezuela rated higher. The U.S. was 28th, with nations like Costa Rica and New Zealand ahead. Norway rated first and North Korea last.
In 2015, Putin “expanded efforts to tightly control the news for domestic audiences and manipulate the information landscapes of several geopolitically significant neighbors, including Ukraine, Moldova, and the Baltic and Central Asian states,” reported Freedom House. “Domestically, the Russian government systemic control and prison terms for journalists reoriented the focus of its misinformation machine from Ukraine to Putin’s newest foreign exploit, the military intervention in Syria.” 
Putin also increasingly targeted online bloggers and accused the U.S. and European nation of worsening Russia’s economic woes, the report said. Russian journalist Alexey Kovalev said the media there was intimidated to the point that Putin’s press conferences mostly contained “softball questions,” besides one token critic who would be “drowned in a copious amount of bullshit.” Kovalev called U.S. journalists his “doomed colleagues” after Trump’s first press conference in months in January 2017 in which he berated CNN as “fake news” and fielded softball questions from the likes of Breitbart representatives.
Granted that Obama widely criticized Fox, though he steered clear from calling them "fake news" just because they presented something in a way he didn't appreciate. There is a difference in the tone and viciousness with how Trump and aides like Gingrich talk about how they need to "break" the press, compared to Obama's complaints. And there is a big difference in that Obama never aligned himself so closely with a dictator like Putin. Obama met with dictators, but he has criticized crackdowns on journalists in Asia, though many said he could be more forceful with such criticism. China is even worse than Russia in press freedom, ranking 186th.
The Trump-Putin alignment leads one to imagine all sorts of horrors down the road, including U.S. media conferences becoming like Russian ones and American journalists being killed suspiciously. It doesn't look good.
Here is a link to a petition to tell White House correspondents to stand up to Trump's media crackdowns.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A special MLK Day video for President Obama, comparison to Trump

Happy MLK Day! 
I did this video in honor of MLK Day and to remind us of what we are losing come Jan. 20. Attending the historic inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama in 2009 with my then-young kids, ex-wife, and a friend was one of the best experiences of my life.

There were some two million of us from all races and backgrounds crammed onto the National Mall, most watching on large screens. Despite the cold and being in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, caused by the Republicans, we were united in hope. We didn't feel the cold or the effects of the recession on that day. Obama gave us hope, and he has delivered despite being blocked by Republicans on almost everything.

Obama was not perfect, of course, but even many Trump supporters will one day see him as a far better president than their candidate. As he leaves and Trump takes over, we must continue to resist. We must remember what Dr. King once said, "Never be afraid to do what's right."

This video is on Facebook here and on YouTube here. It is only for personal use. Feel free to share.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The real facts on Obama's record

As President Obama gives his farewell address, let's look at some of the things he has done in his eight years:

1) Preserved Medicare and Social Security from Republicans who want to do away with those.

2) Implemented a flawed health care act that has resulted in millions obtaining insurance. It needs tweaking - such as doing away with the individual mandate penalty. But keep the act.

3) Led us out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Economy is booming, though not perfect. Unemployment is significantly down from 2009. And he has done that while spending at a slower rate than previous presidents, including both Bush’s, Clinton, Reagan and LBJ. See this Cato report.

4) Kept us out of a major war, though there are regional battles.

5) Caught Bin Laden. 

6) Answered his critics with skill and grace, despite having no help from Republicans in Congress who blocked most of his moves. 

7) To those who say Obama went on vacation too much – he was on vacation less than half the number of days that George W. Bush was. CBS Mark Knoller tracks this: Obama 217 vacation days, W. Bush 533 days, Clinton 174 days, Reagan 390.

8) To those who say Obama did nothing to stem illegal immigration, under his administration almost 3 million illegal immigrants have been deported. That’s almost 1 million more than the number during W. Bush’s eight years.

A survey by the Brookings Institute of presidential scholars - people who actually study the lives of the presidents rather than base their opinions on politics - rated Obama as the 18th best in history among 43 presidents. That’s slightly above average. 

Republicans thought that as soon as Obama stepped foot inside the White House he was going to take away their guns and other freedoms, declare martial law, put everyone in FEMA camps, bomb South Carolina, give African-Americans whatever they wanted, and turn the country into a socialist haven.

None of that has happened. Tell me, what rights did you enjoy under Bush that have been taken away by Obama? About the only thing that he took away that Bush didn't was Osama Bin Laden.

More on Obama’s record is at this FactCheck sitea nonpartisan project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. It’s much more objective and truthful than all the hatred and lies being spread by the right-wing. 

More proof that Trump conspired with Putin to fix the 2016 election

Now we know more about why Trump is so aligned with Russia to the point of being compromised. For those saying Buzzfeed should not release this document, I say look at what Republican-friendly sites have released for decades. 

Remember all the mostly unsubstantiated reports about Bill Clinton? Remember how Trump made a career for four years hounding Obama about his birthplace using mostly unsubstantiated reports?
The allegation about Trump paying prostitutes to use the bathroom on a bed in Moscow where the Obamas once slept is receiving much of the media coverage and Twitter reaction. 
But there are other allegations even more of a concern than that, such as how the Trump team supposedly made a deal with the Russians to not talk about Russian intervention in the Ukraine during the campaign in exchange for leaking email messages about Clinton and the DNC. In other words, Trump and Putin did conspire to release those emails about Clinton and the DNC.

If you can't see the full report on Buzzfeed, I put the report on my own google drive here 

It's well worth reading.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Trump cares more about his old TV show than doing job in White House; list of inauguration protests planned

Less than two weeks to inauguration day, and Trump continues to care more about TV shows than preparing for his actual job in the White House:

This is an interesting tweet of Trump's from 2014 - he doesn't like Blackish, whose star won a Golden Globe Sunday:

Speaking of Trump’s inauguration day, several groups plan rallies and marches. The Answer Coalition is meeting as early as 7 a.m. on January 20 at Freedom Plaza, 1355 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. That is a few blocks from the White House. 
The D.C. Welcoming Committee, a collective of activists and out-of-work gravediggers, plans disruptive protests and other actions throughout inauguration day. Participants will meet as early as 9 a.m. at McPherson Square, 15th St. NW and K St.
Then on January 21, more marches in D.C., New York City, London, and other cities are planned to support equality and civil rights. In D.C., people are meeting near the U.S. Capitol for the Women’s March on Washington, where more than 200,000 people are expected. They are gathering near the United Nations headquarters for the Women’s March on New York City.
In San Francisco, participants plan to gather on the Golden Gate Bridge on January 20 for BridgeTogether Golden Gate. Occupy groups, which grew out of the progressive Occupy Wall Street movement that formed in 2011, plan rallies in Seattle, D.C.,Chicago, Boston, and other cities through inauguration weekend.
Marijuana activists plan to hand out some 4,200 joints in D.C. January 20 and light up 4 minutes and 20 seconds into Trump's speech. I'm not a pot smoker personally, but maybe this is a way to help bridge divisions between the political left and right. You can't argue too fiercely when you're toking, right? Just don't smoke and drive, kids.
The National Action Network, whose founders include Rev. Al Sharpton, is organizing a rally for civil rights and other issues in D.C. on January 14. The event is expected to be attended by thousands. In January 2001, Al Sharpton organized a “Shadow Inauguration” in D.C. Speakers included civil rights legends Walter Fauntroy and Dick Gregory.
If you attend any protests, especially on January 20, watch out for both uniformed and plainclothes police. During Bush’s 2001 inauguration, an army of police and legal roadblocks made it as hard as possible for protesters.