Democrats Know How to Play Dirty Tricks Too – Musings, 12/27/18

[Illustration by Georgia Democrats, Creative Commons]

Internet billionaire Reid Hoffman apologizes for funding a group tied to disinformation in Alabama race

And they don’t like being caught doing it any more than the Russians or the Republicans did.

Apparently, a pro-Democrat research firmed used “Russian-like disinformation tactics” during the Alabama Senate race between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones (Jones apparently had no idea this was being done). And these dirty Russian like tactics were done by none other than the firm that presented a major report on the Russian disinformation campaign to the Senate.

This disinformation campaign was apparently funded by Internet billionaire (anytime I see Internet billionaire I always get suspicious) Reid Hoffman, co-founder of Linked In who was throwing around a lot of money to support democratic causes. He apologized for supporting this one in particular but offered no real details about the actual campaign itself.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Leave it up to the Democrats to shoot themselves in the foot while at the same time finding a way to make Vladimir Putin and his Russian thugs seem less ominous. I don’t know who okayed this particular operation but whoever it was needs to have his goddamn head examined. Idiot.

LeBron James apologises for ‘Jewish money’ Instagram post

LeBron James said that when he posted the lyrics from a song by 21 Savage he thought it was a “compliment.” LeBron James is no dummy so I fail to see how he could think that any reference to the term “Jewish money” is a compliment when it reinforces an anti-Semitic stereotype that stretches back centuries. Republican politicians and right-wing talking heads have been using it lately to smear Jews like George Soros.

Maybe he really didn’t know. But I hate the “I’m sorry if I offended anybody” nature of his apology. How about just saying “I screwed up and used a really anti-Semitic reference that did offend a lot of people.” And then using his massive bully pulpit to explain to people why it’s anti-Semitic. At this moment in history, with the Pittsburgh shooting so fresh in our memories and regular attacks on Jews in the U.S., it could’ve made a big difference if he had handled in the right way.

But he’s LeBron James. So he gets to skate. The NBA accepted his explanation that it was a mistake. ESPN carried a short piece about the comment, no doubt not wanting to upset one of America’s biggest sports stars. While this story may fade in a day or two, you have to wonder if LeBron’s posting the remarks, followed by his weak apology. will linger. Millions of young people pay attention to what he does and says. As this piece in SB nation puts it, will there be people who now think it’s okay to make allusions to “Jewish money” because LeBron did?

The Dollar Store Backlash Has Begun

An interesting piece about the boom of Dollar Stores across the United States and what it says about the real economy – not the one followed by billionaires on Wall Street, but the one everyday people live in. Basically, the article argues that if a Dollar Store appears in your neighborhood that means your neighborhood is in economic trouble.

Trump Brags To Troops About A Fictional Giant Pay Raise He Got Them

Because he’s Donald Trump and because lying is as natural to him as breathing is to most human beings, President Screw-Up couldn’t help himself when he went to visit U.S. troops in Iraq over Christmas. First, I’m glad he went to visit the troops. That’s a good thing. But rather than quietly and humbly (ha ha) thanking the men and women who put their lives on the lines for America every day, he tried to make the event all about himself by bragging that he had got them their first pay raise in a decade and it was a 10% pay increase!

Lies, damn lies and pretty poor statistics.

First, the military receives a pay increase every year. So the last time the military got a pay increase was last year, not a decade ago. And the pay increase they are receiving this year is 2.6%, not 10%. The people that I know in the American military watch their money pretty closely because we really don’t pay them very well. They are more than well aware of what is in their paychecks. They would know immediately that he was just gasbagging them. But Trump believes he can baffle the entire world with his bullshit.

By the way, that wasn’t the only screw-up that President Screw-up made. After his trip, he posted a video of his meeting with Seal Team Five, which had been deployed to Iraq. Only you’re not supposed to do that. Technically, as president of the United States, he can make any secret instantly not secret. But we all know he wasn’t thinking that.

Instead he posted a video that revealed the identities of members of a special operative squad. People who actually pay attention to things like security say that the president’s actions would normally be viewed as a violation of operational security because it endangers the lives of the members of that team. Not that Donald Trump ever even thought about that for a second.

Americans Trust Clergy Less Than Ever, Gallup Poll Finds

With good reason. Catholic priests, bishops and cardinals do bad things to little boys and little girls. Evangelical clerics turn a blind eye to the many sins of Donald Trump in order to get the power that they want. There are many good people of faith in the United States. There may be even some in the clergy. But as the article above points out “a whole lot of really bad apples” spoil the bunch.

I do note that the group immediately below the clergy were journalists. We are unpopular because we tell people things they don’t want to hear. The clergy is unpopular because too many of them are liars and hypocrites. Like Congress, which finished last in the poll.

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Christie’s “Crazy Uncle” Theory of Donald Trump

Christie compares Trump to ‘72-year-old relative’: Harder to convince them they’re not doing the right thing

A lot of families have them. An older relative, usually an uncle (although in my case it was a great aunt) who you wish you didn’t have to invite to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner but you have to because he’s related. The reason you wish you didn’t have to invite him is that you know he is going to sit there throughout dinner talking too loudly, pronouncing crazy theory after crazy theory, muttering darkly about “the blacks” or “the Mexicans”, telling you repeatedly why he thinks the country is going to hell in a handbag, and attacking anyone who dares to challenge him on his totally stupid and unrealistic theories.

“When people get older, they become more and more convinced of the fact that what they’re doing is the right thing and it becomes harder to convince them otherwise.”

Well, according to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, this is Donald Trump. Trump has become the “crazy uncle” who always thinks he’s right and is not willing to change. Christie made the comparison while appearing on a Sunday talk show and explaining why it will be difficult for Trump’s advisors to get him to change. “When people get older, they become more and more convinced of the fact that what they’re doing is the right thing and it becomes harder to convince them otherwise, ” Christie said.

Lovely. Well, it’s hard enough to have a crazy uncle in your family. To have a crazy uncle running the country is a BIG problem.

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Just to Remind You…

“I’ll tell you what, I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck,” Trump said. “I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.”

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How Russian Money Bailed Out Trump

How Russian Money Helped Save Trump’s Business

A great investigative piece by Foreign Policy that shows just how much Donald Trump owes to Russian oligarchs and banks.

As the early 90s, American banks were finished with Trump and his money-losing ways. He was a terrible businessman. As late as 2003 he was in desperate financial trouble and pressed his siblings to sell off his late father’s estate which Fred Trump had warned them not to do when he was alive. Then he declared bankruptcy again in 2004.

But Trump made a comeback largely due to an influx of foreign capital in particular from Russia.

But remember, he has no business dealing with Russia. The Donald told us so himself…

Faces of a new capitalism: How Millennials are embracing socialist values

I’m not sure why socialism is a “new capitalism,” but this is still a good piece from the Christian Science Monitor and spot on. As a longtime socialist myself (and a strong supporter of the NDP in Canada) I have seen much of this change in my own children and their friends. It’s been seven years since the Occupy Wall Street movement. While it didn’t make big inroads at the time, its ideas spread, particularly among young people.

On the one hand, you see the growth of corporations like Amazon, which has been tagged as being anti-worker for many of its practices. Yet even Amazon is paying its workers more money these days, attuned to the change in public perception about the way businesses treat workers.

There is something happening in the American economy. It’s not gonna happen all at once. But ten years from now the American economy will be a much socialist (in the Canadian or European model) as capitalist. Can’t happen fast enough for me.

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A 14 member and two chamber Supreme Court?

(My apologies for not posting recently. Battling a wicked cold.)

Trust in the justices of the Supreme Court is waning. Here are three w ays to fortify the court

An interesting article from the Los Angeles Times written by Bruce Ackerman, professor of law and political science at Yale. He argues that the current Supreme Court which heard 250 cases in 1970 and only about 65 last year is being overwhelmed by the number of petitions for review. He advocates a court structure similar to the one used in Germany – two chambers consisting of seven justices each, one to hear constitutional matters and one to address questions of statutory interpretation. On truly monumental issues the 14 justices would rule together.

He also thinks the Senate should return to a 60 vote minimum to confirm a Supreme Court justice and that while justices should be appointed for life, they should only serve on the highest court for 14 years. After 14 years they would move to the appeals court.

Whatever the solution, there is no doubt that the Supreme Court needs to be reformed. I find some of these ideas intriguing.

The most popular fact-checks of 2018

A Christmas bonus from the Washington Post! A cornucopia of four Pinocchios from Donald Trump, of course. But also Bill Clinton’s stammering performance trying to defend his past behaviors with women and two posts from Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who apparently needs to learn that people pay attention to hyperbole when you come to Washington. Oh yes, and Beto O’Rourke’s claim that he did not flee the scene when he was involved in a drunk-driving accident many years ago.

Church knew for years L.A. bishop had been accused of abuse

Another good piece from the Los Angeles Times about how the Catholic Church protected an LA bishop accused of abuse as far back as 2002. He was actually made a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 2004. Somehow when the Vatican released a list of bishops who have been accused of sexual crimes, Bishop Alexander Salazar’s name was left off the list. The first time the abuse became public was when he passed in his resignation to Pope Francis on Wednesday.

Needless to say just another case of the church covering up a nightmare of sexual abuse. Pope Francis more or less came out today, Friday, December 21, and said that priests guilty of sexual abuse were on their own and that their fate would be left to secular authorities.

Well, I’ll wait and see how that goes. I won’t hold my breath.

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What Really Happened to the Global Order

The Death of Global Order Was Caused by Clinton, Bush, and Obama

I’ve been a big Stephen Walt for a long time. Certainly, since he and John Mearsheimer wrote their brilliant exposé on the far-right Israeli lobby that wields so much power in official Washington. So I’m always happy to read what he writes even if I’m not sure I totally agree with it.

This piece on the death of the global order, however, is brilliant and contradictory. Progressives and liberals (like myself) are quick to blame the death of the way things were on Donald Trump. And they’re just as quick to blame him for the demise of America’s standing in the world.

Now Mr. Trump certainly deserves a lot of blame for this but as Walt points out in this article he actually may be the least responsible for where we are now. Basically, he argues that America had a moment after the end of the Cold War with Russia when we could’ve pushed our allies to take more responsibility on the world stage that would’ve freed the United States to focus more on problems at home. Instead, we went merrily around the globe trying to push our liberal values on anyone who would listen (and often those who wouldn’t) and the result has been disastrous. Donald Trump may have provided the “tipping point” but Clinton, Obama, and Bush had already set the wheels in motion.

Walt really does excoriate the United States for its stupidity and its responsibility for much of the chaos we see in the world. As I said above you may not agree with his point but it always makes for a really good read.

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He’s Just a Small-Time Grifter.

Trump Foundation Agrees to Dissolve After ‘Shocking Pattern of Illegality’

Trump stinks of illegality in everything he does.

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Climate Change and Ostriches…Better Known as Republicans


Most Americans want action on climate change. Republicans are the exception: Poll

Recently my wife and I had a discussion about Republicans. Basically, I don’t like them very much. She said that we needed to be able to do more to work together than just branding people as one thing or another. I know that’s true but it’s so hard to do when you have results on such important issues like this one, where once again Republicans just bury their heads in the sand about an issue so important to humanity.

Most of the rest of the world knows about the reality of climate change. For a long time, too many Americans were just plain stupid about it. An issue that should reside outside of politics – you know, basically saving the world – became enmeshed in nothing but politics. So now if you’re a Republican and you support the president, throw common sense out the window and ignore the fact that the world is burning despite all the evidence that this is what is happening.

I do know it’s not all Republicans. There are many who know the dangers of climate change. But as long as greasy politicians like Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Sen. Mitch McConnell from Kentucky and Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas encourage the fossil fuel industries to pour money into their pockets, they will refuse to admit the reality of climate change and not change anything. And the Trumplodytes will go right along with them.

I have reached the point where I no longer believe that political compromise is possible. The only answer is what happened in the 2018 midterms. We have to take power away from these people otherwise they will condemn us all to a future that none of us want.

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Musings 12/17/19: Trump is losing it.

Trump: ‘Unfair’ coverage should be tested in courts

Oh, if you think it’s bad now Donald, just wait until you see the headlines after the Democrats take control of the House. Or after the Mueller report comes out.

It’s easy to make fun of Donald Trump and his anger that every media outlet in the world doesn’t follow the Fox News rules about covering Trump: only softball questions, only positive coverage, only ever telling him he’s the greatest. But what is most worrisome about these infantile twitter tirades is that it shows how little Donald Trump cares about the U.S. Constitution, you know the one he swore to uphold when he took the oath of office a couple o years ago. His contempt for freedom of the press, for the rule of law, for our allies and friends, for all the things that have made America the great country that it is, show why more than anything else he should be impeached and convicted.

I know that will never happen because of Republican control of the Senate. That doesn’t mean though it’s a bad idea. Donald Trump will go down in history as the most corrupt, biggest liar, most anti-democratic and the worst president of the United States ever.

New report on Russian disinformation, prepared for the Senate, shows the operation’s scale and sweep

This new report, prepared for the US Republican-controlled Senate, shows that Russia used every media outlet possible – social and otherwise – to get Donald Trump elected. No wonder he likes Vladimir Putin so much. Basically, Putin was his most effective campaign manager. Sorry KellyAnne.

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Musings, 12/12/18: Try Googling ‘Idiot’ to see a Trump montage

Trump - Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons
Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons

Congresswoman to Google CEO: Why when I search ‘idiot’ do I get pictures of Trump?

Do you have to ask?

Apparently, GOP reps are angry that when you Google the word idiot, you get picture after picture of Donald Trump. (How could you not?)

To quote from the Washington Post,”Google chief executive Sundar Pichai, who was testifying Tuesday morning before the House Judiciary Committee, tried to explain to the roomful of mostly tech novices how the algorithms take into account some 200 factors — such as relevance, popularity, how others are using the search term — to determine how to best match a query with results.”

The GOP lawmakers didn’t believe it sticking to their long disproved and ridiculous assumption that ONE person was directing Google to do it, and it was not the result of thousands of Google users posting pictures of Trump with the word idiot attached.

Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu (Cali.) had the best response to the GOP whining.

“If you want positive search results, do positive things. If you don’t want negative search results, don’t do negative things. And to some of my colleagues across the aisle, if you’re getting bad press articles and bad search results, don’t blame Google or Facebook or Twitter, consider blaming yourself.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Wants To Be Remembered For Being ‘Transparent And Honest’

Oh Sarah, we all wish for the impossible from time to time.

You have as much hope of being remembered for being “honest and transparent” as I do of being remembered as the greatest right-handed batter in slo-pitch softball history. Just ain’t gonna happen.

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