The Alternative Fact That Shook The Nation

“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe…”

I confess, even I have been a little taken aback by this. The lie was so blatant, so obvious, that even people who would no sooner pay attention to a White House press briefing than pick up a copy of Scientific American were stunned by it. I mean, I got texts from completely non-political family members about it, and they were shocked at the chutzpah.

Here is a close-up of Sean Spicer’s eyes as he told his lie:

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What I see here is panic. The only thing missing is the gun to his head. The entire charade, as both Michael Moore and Mika Brzezinski noted, looked like a hostage tape. He’s saying this because he was forced to, and he knows exactly the pile of shit his boss is making him wade into, and he knows there’s not a damn thing he can do about it. Indeed, the statement sounds like it was written by Trump himself. The hyperbole, the grandiosity, are straight out of Trump’s Twitter feed.

Ari “We know for a fact that there are weapons there” Fleischer, a man who has told his share of bald-faced lies, said this:

“This is called a statement you’re told to make by the President. And you know the President is watching,” Fleischer wrote.

So while a stunned nation hashes and rehashes What It All Means®, I’m particularly hung up on this one fact:

The President of the United States forced his spokesperson to lie to the American people about how many people watched his inaugural.

This stupid, petty, in-the-grand-scheme-of-things meaningless thing was THAT important to him. He is supposed to be the leader of the free world focused on, you know, important stuff. But he forced his spokesbot to tell an obvious, easily checked lie about how many people watched his inaugural. It is that important for Trump. He must have the biggest, the best, the most, the (fill in the blank superlative), and yes, he will die on this hill. What little political capital he had was squandered on something stupid like crowd size because Trump demanded it.

Just let that sink in for a minute. It’s just … astonishing.

I know there’s been a lot of speculation about some deeper strategy here: that this marks the latest salvo in the Trump Administration’s war on the media, that Trump is attempting to delegitimize the national news media and delegitimize the entire concept of truth, that this marks the end of “access journalism,” etc.

While some of this may be true, I really don’t think it’s that complicated. I really think it’s as simple as this:

Donald Trump requires constant and undiminished reinforcement of his greatness.

This is Pathological Narcissism. It’s scary as hell, because this level of neediness is never sated. This is Tyrant 101. This is how wars happen and freedoms are lost. The fact that this weak-minded man has surrounded himself with sycophants and ego-strokers is not surprising (they all do that), but at some point even Spicer and Kellyanne are going to give up, because even the best enablers can’t keep propping up the naked emperor forever.

Traditionally when that happens, the enablers are marched in front of the firing squad. Or, if they’re smart, they’ve figured out how to get the Pathological Narcissist to self-destruct (see the final scenes of “A Face In The Crowd” for an idea of what I’m talking about … a “leak” for the pre-internet age.)

What will happen here, I don’t know. I see in Kellyanne’s eyes their own special brand of cold-as-ice ambition and craven opportunism:

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She thinks she can manage the Ego In Chief but the thing about Pathological Narcissists is that they are never, ever truly managed. Their emptiness is a bottomless pit. Kellyanne may think she’s smart and has Trump under control but her “alternative facts” flub shows she’s not immune to a screw up herself. She might not be quite smart enough for this situation. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kellyanne weren’t the first one trotted out before a (metaphorical, let’s hope) firing squad as the Id in charge lashes out those who failed to sell his greatness to the world.

Interesting times, indeed.

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Filed under Donald Trump, media, media manipulation

Does New Gun Bill Nullify All Other Gun Bills?

Surprising absolutely nobody, Republican House Rep. Micah Van Huss of Jonesborough has filed a bill allowing the open carry of handguns without a permit.

The problem with this idea, of course, is that all of the other pro-gun legislation pushed through recently has been predicated on the logic that those with carry permits are the safest, most responsible citizens evah. So if you eliminate the carry permit requirement, then what does that do to those laws? Since they only apply to those with carry permits, I guess that means that it won’t apply to these other people, right? So, what’s the point?

For example:

Guns in restaurants:

Democratic Sen. Doug Jackson, the main sponsor of the bill, said state Safety Department records show handgun permit holders in Tennessee are responsible.

This is debatable but regardless, if there’s no permit required to carry in a restaurant, then any irresponsible yahoo can carry and, well, who’s to be the wiser?

Guns in trunks:

In summary, an employer may prohibit guns anywhere on company property, but an employee with a handgun-carry permit may keep a gun out of sight in a locked vehicle in the parking lot. All other possession of weapons on company property may still be banned, and employees may still be terminated for violation of an employer’s weapons policy. Employers with operations in Tennessee will need to become familiar with the new law and evaluate their weapons policies in light of the real world facts concerning gun ownership and possession.

So, if carry permits are no longer required …. what does this mean for guns in trunks?

Gun-free business liability:

Last year the NRA fever swamp coughted up this particular piece of nuttery: any gun-free business can be sued by a concealed carrier who got injured in an incident where a gun might conceivably have been used to protect them:

The new law, SB 1736, dictates that should any concealed carry permit holder’s safety be threatened after disarming themselves to enter their place of business, then the business will be held liable.

So, pack of wolves stampedes down the aisle at the gun-free grocery? If you have a CCW permit you can try to argue that your gun would have saved you. Trying to unpack the legal logic here seems problematic (wouldn’t you have to prove you’re a good shot, for example?) but regardless, this law was definitely based on the assumption that concealed-carriers are all excellent shots who are ready to jump in and save the day. Get rid of permits and this law means what, exactly?

Guns in parks:

“My son has a concealed carry permit,” said Susan Shelton, who was at the playground with her daughter Kira Shelton and 15-month-old grandson James. “My son in-law is a corrections officer. He has a concealed carry permit.”

Susan Shelton said she trusts her son and son in-law and others who have carry permits.

“They are trained,” Susan Shelton said. “They are responsive adults. Frankly, I feel safer knowing that somebody like that is here. Bad guys are more likely to go to a gun-free zone.”

But, eliminate the permits and … what, exactly?

We are literally on the brink of making gun ownership a requirement in this state, all because of some misguided notion from the rural folk in the hinterlands that guns are these benign instruments of self-protection. That might work in East Jesus, Tennessee but it sure as all doesn’t make sense in Memphis or Nashville, and the callous disregard our rural legislators have for people in urban areas is something with which I will no longer put up. Especially considering these same people actually live and work in urban Nashville when the legislature is in session.

7 Comments

Filed under gun violence, Guns, Tennessee

Here Comes The Wing Dang Doodle

Hello, Tennessee! Yes, your legislature still has a Republican supermajority. So let the crazy games begin!

Republican Tennessee State Senator Janice Bowling apparently doesn’t have anything more important to do than worry about what your married gay friends and family call each other. Check out what this lover of “limited government” is doing in her bill covering the semantics of family life, SB-0030:

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There’s a House version, HB-0030, sponsored by John Ragan.

Now, that’s what I call small government! Deciding what words married gay people and their kids have a right to use! This is keeping people up nights? Well, I’m sure it all came from the fevered dreams of David Fowler, he of the TN Family Assn. Family Action Council, where all the rest of this culture war nonsense originates.

I just can’t imagine what the point of this is, except some good old-fashioned shaming, contempt and mortification. YOUR marriage is different! YOUR family is different! YOU don’t get to have a husband, and YOU don’t get to have a wife. YOU only get to have a spouse. And YOU, little Timmy and Jenny, YOUR family is different from everyone else’s! YOUR FAMILY IS NOT NORMAL. That’s what the point of this is, isn’t it? Just, basically, to be dicks?

Here’s how stuff like this usually plays out: even though the legislation is sponsored by rural county Republicans (Sen. Janice Bowling’s District 16 covers Coffee, Franklin, Grundy, Marion, Sequatchie, Van Buren and Warren Counties, while Rep. John Ragan is from District 33, Anderson County), if the bill moves on up the food chain and becomes a national story, it will be Nashville which suffers. Nashville is the biggst city here, and Nashville is where the big conferences, sporting events and concert tours come. So when people want to punish the state for bigoted, anti-gay legislation, they launch boycotts of Nashville. Even though Nashville is a progressive city, which was the first to have an anti-discrimination ordinance (which the state overturned) and sends to the legislature pro-GLBT legislators, we still have to pay the price when our redneck neighbors get up to their old tricks. So it’s Nashville which stands to lose sports tournaments and professional conferences, while the rural rednecks who sponsored this hate in the first place get to spout their sanctimonious bullshit and go on their merry way, never suffering any consequences whatsoever. Everything bad will happen to someone else — someone they despise, by the way, so it serves us liberal pantywaists right.

So here’s a pre-emptive word to the wise, because if it’s not this particular piece of crackpottery, it will surely be something else: please target your activism toward the actual crazies in the legislature, not your allies representing Nashville. How about sending a message to Nissan USA, whose “Decherd No. 2” plant builds Infiniti engines in Winchester? Or why not send some letters to the CEO of Silver Spring, Md.-based Competitive Power Ventures Inc., which one year ago announced a $1 billion power plant in Grundy County? Or Germany’s Mann+Hummel, which builds car parts and has a plant in Dunlap, TN? Or maybe send a message to the CEO of 3M, which recently invested $135 million in a new Anderson County plant? Or why not hit the Google and find out which lefty-leaning corporations (CostCo, Amazon, Netflix, etc.) have distribution centers in these rural counties?

I strongly suspect that these corporations will have the ear of State Sen. Janice Bowling and House Rep. John Ragan to a far greater extent than liberal activists in Nashville, whom they already despise and are happy to ignore.

1 Comment

Filed under boycotts, GLBT, LGBT, marriage, Tennessee politics, Tennesseee

The Rules Are Different For The Rich

Last year we learned about one of the most heinous ways the poor are kept poor, through a never ending series of fines and fees that an impoverished person can’t pay off, ultimately ending in jail time. Often there’s a private, for-profit electronic monitoring company involved, as here in Tennessee, or in lieu of jailtime, a driver’s license will be revoked (also here in Tennessee), as if people don’t need transportation to get to work.

So I find it pretty outrageous that our president-elect’s pick for Secretary of Education has been waltzing around the country free as a bird when she owes the state of Ohio $5.3 million. Not only that, she’s owed this money for a whopping eight years. Meanwhile, in the same state of Ohio, homeless Iraq veteran Stephen Papa was sentenced to 22 days in jail because he only had $25 of a required $50 court payment.

This is unbelievably outrageous. Why Isn’t Betsy DeVos’ ass in jail? Anyone?

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Filed under poverty

Man-Baby

Your weekly reminder that this person will have the nuclear launch codes in two weeks.

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8 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump

Repeal Proceeds, Replace Not So Much

Just to build on this post, I woke up to a flurry of headlines about the repeal of Obamacare (here, here, and here), but very little has been said about what will replace it.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Trump supporters are not exactly fired up about repealing the healthcare law:

Those voters have been disappointed by Obamacare, but they could be even more disappointed by Republican alternatives to replace it. They have no strong ideological views about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, or future directions for health policy. What they want are pragmatic solutions to their insurance problems. The very last thing they want is higher out-of-pocket costs.

Yes, well, duh. I’ve been saying this for years, haven’t I? And thank you, Kaiser Foundation, for actually asking people what they want. Because this conversation seems to have ignored the healthcare consumer, hasn’t it? We hear precious little from actual people about healthcare, but we sure hear a lot about what the insurance companies want, what the AMA wants, and what BigPharma wants. I’m tired of hearing what they want. If repeal is inevitable, shouldn’t we find out what consumers want (and don’t want) to replace it?

Things I don’t want:

• I don’t want to “shop” for healthcare or my health insurance. I hate shopping anyway, but who wants to “shop” for something like health insurance? People, I do not have the time for that! This infatuation with “shopping” and “marketplaces” in America is something I do not understand. People want to shop for fun stuff. They do not want to shop for un-fun stuff.

I don’t want to compare healthcare plans and read the fine print and find out who’s selling me a shit sandwich and who’s selling me a Tiffany watch. I don’t want to think I have the Tiffany plan only to find out, too late, that I bought a shit sandwich and oh well, sucks to be me. This is not how healthcare is supposed to work.

• I don’t want a “health savings account,” a tax deduction for making a contribution to said “savings account,” or a voucher, coupon or other gimmick. This is something else I don’t get. Conservatives are always saying you can’t throw money at a problem but isn’t that what these special accounts and vouchers do, at their heart? So I have a pile of money I can use as I see fit, so what. That’s great when I’m healthy, but what if something awful happens and my costs exceed what’s in the account? What if my kid gets leukemia and my husband gets in a car accident? Who has the time to keep up with all of the red tape and paperwork associated with these accounts? Everyone is already complaining about how complicated taxes are, but an HSA just adds to that. You have to keep every single receipt and keep up with your statements and there are fees associated with these accounts and it’s just a ginormous headache.

• I don’t care if I can buy health insurance across state lines. What is the point of this? Republicans always mention this as a key part of their plans, but how is this supposed to make my life better? I know the idea is that it will create “competition” and thus lower costs, but does it really? Where is the evidence of this? There is none. In fact, Medicare Advantage plans are uniform across the country, but there are still very limited choices, which means removing the hodge-podge of state regulations really doesn’t increase “choice.”

Furthermore, the insurance companies themselves have not embraced this idea.

Healthcare is not laundry detergent. There are huge regional differences in people’s health. It’s well known that Southern states have some of the worst health statistics in the country: higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc. This is where insurance is more expensive. In states where people tend to be healthier — California, Colorado, Minnesota — insurance tends to be cheaper. So wouldn’t allowing someone in Alabama to buy insurance from Colorado actually increase costs because you’re adding all those unhealthy Southerners into the pool?

• I don’t want medical malpractice “reform.” This is another favorite Republican talking point: medical malpractice insurance is killing healthcare, frivolous lawsuits are killing healthcare, etc. It’s not true. And if some Doctor Fuckup injures a patient, that patient should have the right to sue.

Speaking of frivolous lawsuits, you know where they don’t have to worry about that stuff? Countries with a functioning healthcare system. Let my tell you about my American friend who opened a hotel in Norway. When he asked about liability insurance for the property, his Norwegian business partners looked at him like he was crazy. They don’t have that here, they said. What would be the point? My friend said, you know, if someone slips and falls in the lobby, they could sue to get their medical costs taken care of. They laughed at him. Why would someone do that? The social safety net already takes care of people’s medical costs in Norway! And a big ol’ lightbulb went off.

• I don’t want to have to fly to Poland to buy insulin. Seriously, you know your healthcare system is broken when this happens:

One man in Pennsylvania with Type 1 diabetes reported making frequent trips to Eastern Europe to purchase insulin at one-tenth the cost he paid here.

This is not unusual. I have a friend who lives part-time in India, part-time in the U.S. She broke her foot a few years ago and had it fixed in India for $15. She said this was a good deal, even when one includes the airfare, because back then she didn’t have insurance. This strikes me as ridiculous, but this is what right-wingers gleefully call “medical tourism,” as if flying to Thailand for your heart surgery makes sense. Yeah, if I’m going to Thailand it’s as a tourist, not a patient.

Okay, in summary: I don’t want red tape and paperwork, high prices, a lot of extra work and time spent figuring coverage out or getting the healthcare I need, or unreasonable restrictions on who I can see or what is covered.

What do I want? What does anyone want? This:

1) I JUST WANT TO SEE THE DOCTOR OF MY CHOICE WHEN I NEED TO WITHOUT DRAINING MY BANK ACCOUNT. 2) I WANT TO GET THE PRESCRIPTIONS I NEED FROM MY LOCAL PHARMACY WITHOUT TAKING OUT A SECOND MORTGAGE.

It’s really that simple. Just those two things. Any plan, be it from the Democrats or the Republicans, needs to address those two simple things. If it doesn’t, then I’m not interested.

I say “simple things” but I realize it’s far more complicated than that. But seriously, it shouldn’t be that hard to figure this out.

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Filed under health insurance, healthcare, Obamacare

No Good Healthcare Answers

There’s been a lot of chatter lately about the repeal of Obamacare and the complicated reality this oft-repeated campaign promise presents. It appears Republican mouths may have written a check their elected politicians can’t cash. It seems obvious that despite all their talk of “repeal and replace,” Republicans really don’t have any idea how to “replace” Obamacare, perhaps because the ACA was the GOP’s “replacement” for Democrats’ push for universal healthcare in the first place. Once Democrats adopted the Heritage Foundation’s 1989 healthcare plan, Republicans reflexively opposed it and used it as the lynchpin of their “Operation Obstruct Obama” strategy.

Well, chickens have come home to roost and surprise, surprise, some Republicans are now saying the actual “repeal” might not happen until after the 2020 election. Does this make sense to anyone? Eight more years of people getting used to Obamacare, getting more dependent on the things they like about it, while Republicans back down on a promise in the hopes of continuing to use it as an election tool? Or something? What about that old boogeyman, “uncertainty.” Doesn’t promising to repeal something in eight years create uncertainty? Doesn’t it make it harder for people to accept one of the several sucky “replacement” ideas Republicans are currently arguing over?

So I don’t get it. And hey, it may not happen.

One thing that Republicans seem to really like are these Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Spending Accounts, etc. Apparently, they are “the future of healthcare,” and I hear them as parts of not only whatever will replace the Affordable Care Act but also Medicare reform and the like. We’ve had HSAs, HRAs, etc. over the years and I have to say, I don’t like them. There’s a lot of paperwork you need to keep up with, they all charge fees which eat away at your balance if you don’t use them, and I don’t understand the basic principle behind them.

There seems to be this idea that people are getting unnecessary healthcare and that’s why everything is so damn expensive, so an HSA/FSA will encourage people to be more responsible. I’m sure there are some people who run to the doctor for every little thing but from everything I’ve read, the problem is not that people are getting too much healthcare, it’s that they aren’t getting enough. They put things off until a problem reaches a crisis stage and they end up in the ER.

I don’t get this idea of being given a pile of money to spend, as if that’s going to solve everything. It’s great if you just have ordinary healthcare needs, but what if your family gets hit with a couple of catastrophes? What if you run out? Are you supposed to decide whether to give your kid leukemia treatment or dad gets to go to the hospital after his car accident?

We’ve had an old HSA plan that still has about a thousand dollars in it, going back to some ancient iteration of our health insurance plan. We only use it to buy eyeglasses, but every quarter they take out more money for “fees,” eating away at what’s available for us to actually use.

I know as a good liberal I’m supposed to embrace Single Payer. In principle it’s a good idea but I don’t think it will ever happen and I’m starting to think it’s a waste of time to keep pursuing it, seeing as how we’ve been trying — and failing — to get universal healthcare for over 100 years now. We’ve now reached a point where our current private insurance system, flawed though it is, is too interwoven into our economy to dismantle it. I absolutely hate insurance companies, with a passion, they no longer serve the function they were created to do, and yet they have become such a big part of the economy I don’t see them going away, do you?

And don’t even get me started on Bernie Sanders and his plan for Medicare For All. I never understood how that was supposed to work for the majority of us who get insurance through our employers. Insurance is a benefit. It’s in lieu of a higher salary. Do the Bernie people really think that if employers don’t have to provide that benefit we’re all going to magically get comparable raises?

I’ll admit that I’m no expert on this stuff. I really don’t understand what’s happened to our healthcare system. I don’t understand why everything is so damn expensive now. It didn’t used to be this way. What happened? Can someone explain this to me? One thing I know for sure is that back when I was a kid, the family doctor didn’t drive the most expensive car and live in the biggest mansion in town. Nowadays, our local “headline homes” report of multi-million dollar home sales is routinely populated with healthcare executives, doctors and the like. Some people are getting really rich off our healthcare system, while too many other people are going broke because of it. Does this make sense to anyone?

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Filed under health insurance, healthcare, Obamacare

Inherent Bias

The Atlantic has an amazing story about the entrenched biases that affect peoples’ perceptions of the world, and how they are affected by political allegiance. Aptly titled “It’s Not About the Economy,” author Alana Semuels uses the northern Indiana town of Elkhart to illustrate how in this post-truth era, political tribalism affects our views more than economic realities:

Elkhart’s unemployment rate, which had reached a high of 22 percent in March of 2009, is now at 3.9 percent. Hiring signs dot the doors of the Wal-Mart, the McDonald’s, and the Long John Silver’s. The RV industry makes 65 percent of its vehicles in Elkhart, and the industry is producing a record number of vehicles, which is creating a lot of jobs in this frosty town in northern Indiana.

Despite this good economic and jobs news, Elkhart voters don’t credit President Obama or the Democrats. Not only do they think the economy improved in spite of, not because of, Obama, they also blame Obama for things he didn’t do, or don’t give him credit for things that he did. It basically boils down to this: people in Elkhart, IN don’t like Democrats, period, and nothing will change that:

These biases are only increasing as the country becomes increasingly polarized. As people become increasingly loyal to their parties, they are unlikely to give leaders from the other party credit for much of anything positive. Both sides are instead more likely to believe narratives that suggest that the other party has only made things worse.

“People’s predispositions affect their factual beliefs about the world,” said Brendan Nyhan, a professor of government at Dartmouth College who has researched why people believe what they do about politics. “What we want to be true influences what we believe to be true.”

Indeed, as the economy began improving, Elkhart voters grew less likely to support Democratic candidates for president. Obama won 44 percent of the vote in Elkhart County in 2008, 36 percent in 2012, and Clinton received just 31 percent in 2016.

Thanks, hate radio and Fox News! Really, this has to be the Fox Effect, more than anything. (And yes, it works the other way, too. Democrats generally won’t credit Republicans with doing anything right, either. Although we do embrace conservative policies, and hullo, who ever thought Democrats would fight to the death to support a Republican healthcare plan?)

Check out these reasons why people in Elkhart don’t like President Obama:

Ed Neufeldt, whose daughter and two son-in-laws now work in the RV industry after losing their jobs in it during the recession, told me he thought Obama was responsible for improving the economy in Elkhart, but that he still didn’t like the president because of his stance on abortion.

Okay, I can buy that. I don’t agree with it, but at least it’s an actual policy disagreement. For the record, Ed Neufelt was the only person Semuels spoke with who credited Obama with improving the economy. But he found another reason not to like him. Funny how that works.

And then there’s this:

Brandon Stanley owns a bar in Elkhart. He says he’s optimistic that the economy is improving now that Republicans have regained power, but emphasizes that there are still a host of economic problems that haven’t been solved in Elkhart. As for the shrinking unemployment rate in Elkhart, “they changed how they report unemployment numbers,” he told me, so they’re not believable.

Ah, the “damn lies” contingent. When the facts are in opposition to your preconceived political bias, the facts must be wrong. For the record, I remember a version of this among liberals during the Bush years: yes, unemployment numbers were at a certain rate, the popular talking point went, but it didn’t reflect those who had “given up looking for a job.” I’m quite certain I repeated that line myself, and it may or may not have been true at the time. I now hear that same line repeated by Republicans in regards to current unemployment numbers. And thanks to the internet, it’s really easy to find links bolstering whatever argument you want to make.

Now let’s meet another Elkhart resident with some really good reasons for hating Obama:

Andi Ermes, 39, offered a number of reasons for disliking Obama. She said Obama didn’t attend the Army-Navy football game, even though other presidents had. Obama has actually attended more Army-Navy games than George H.W. Bush. She said that he had taken too many vacations. He has taken fewer vacation days than George W. Bush. She also said that he refused to wear a flag pin on his lapel. While it is true that Obama did not wear a flag on his lapel at points during the 2007 campaign, it was back on his suit by 2008. Ermes told me the news sources she consumes most are Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and a local conservative radio show hosted by Casey Hendrickson.

What did I say about hate radio and Fox News? This is particularly stupid because, really, who gives a shit if someone wears a flag pin or not? And it just goes to show, there’s nothing a Democrat can do to earn the votes of the brainwashed. Just as there was literally nothing Donald Trump could do that would lose the allegiance of these same brainwashed folks. As long as you have that “R” behind your name and spout the same stupid approved points, you are golden with these folks.

I’m not sure what the solution to this is. It all seems part of a larger social and demographic unraveling. I also wonder how uniquely American this is. Other countries have the internet, fake news, partisan news media and biased columnists. Has the poison of hyperpartisanship affected Canada, Australia and the UK? Do people blindly not accept facts that challenge their preconceived worldviews in France and India and China?

If living in a cocoon of ignorance is more palatable than moving one’s biases one inch to the right or left, we are all truly doomed.

6 Comments

Filed under 2016 Election, 2016 Presidential Election, economy, unemployment

Putin Hates Hillary Memory Hole

Donald Trump’s Twitter feed notwithstanding, U.S. intelligence long ago confirmed that Russia hacked DNC computers, RNC computers, etc. This is not up for debate, nor has it ever been up for debate. The tiny bit of daylight between the CIA and the FBI is the motive behind the hacking: was it to help sway the election to Trump, as the CIA believes, or was it just to undermine Americans’ faith in a democratic institution, as the FBI maintains?

As I’ve said before, it’s obvious the goal was to help Trump. When everyone is hacked but only the Democrats’ emails are released to Russian propaganda tool WikiLeaks, you have to be pretty dumb to think anything else was going on. Whether the Kremlin actually thought it would work or not is another matter. Clearly, they were trying to help Trump, and if Hillary Clinton still won, hers would be a damaged win. A damaged President Hillary Clinton would be almost as good as a President Trump. Remember: pre-election day, everyone assumed Hillary was going to win.

Furthermore we have history. Vladimir Putin hates Hillary Clinton for many reasons, chief among them being he viewed her as a threat to his hold on power. From the 2011 memory hole:

MOSCOW — Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin accused Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday of inciting unrest in Russia, as he grappled with the prospect of large-scale political protest for the first time in his more than decade-long rule.

In a rare personal accusation, Mr. Putin said Mrs. Clinton had sent “a signal” to “some actors in our country” after Sunday’s parliamentary elections, which were condemned as fraudulent by both international and Russian observers. Anger over the elections prompted a demonstration in which thousands chanted “Putin is a thief” and “Russia without Putin,” a development that has deeply unnerved the Kremlin.

Speaking to political allies as he announced the formation of his presidential campaign, Mr. Putin said that hundreds of millions of dollars in “foreign money” was being used to influence Russian politics, and that Mrs. Clinton had personally spurred protesters to action. The comments indicate a breakdown in the Obama administration’s sputtering effort to “reset” the relationship between the United States and Russia.

Gee, can’t imagine why he wouldn’t want Hillary to be president of the United States, can you?

And then there’s this from 2010:

TBILISI, Georgia—U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday assured Georgia that it remains a key U.S. partner, using tough language to call for Russia to end its “occupation” of separatist territories in the Caucasus nation, while shying from criticism of President Mikheil Saakashvili’s democratic credentials.

Fears had been growing here that Georgia was lower on the U.S.’s list of priorities than it was during the presidency of George W. Bush, as the Obama administration pursues a “reset” policy on Russian relations aimed at easing tensions and strengthening economic ties.

“We continue to call for Russia to abide by the August 2008 cease-fire commitment…including ending the occupation and withdrawing Russian troops from South Ossetia and Abkhazia to their preconflict positions,” Mrs. Clinton said at a joint news conference with Mr. Saakashvili. “The United States is steadfast in its commitment to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The far-left never tired of portraying Hillary Clinton as a warmonger, but the truth is she was hawkish in her dealings with Vladimir Putin, an oppressive oligarch who deserved to be treated with caution. The result was that Putin worked to swing the election to his BFF Donald Trump, or at least inflict as much damaged on Hillary as possible. Mission accomplished.

What I don’t understand is why the moderate GOPers, who always claimed President Obama was “soft on Russia,” fell in line behind Donald Trump. I’m thinking of folks like Marco Rubio and Tennessee’s own Bob Corker, who called Obama’s actions weak on Russia. And yet they fell in line behind Trump, whose campaign’s ties to the Kremlin were no secret, and who had long praised Putin. I don’t get it.

As the Washington Post reported a few days before the election,

“Putin has kind of got it in for Hillary,” said Clifford Kupchan, chairman of the consulting firm Eurasia Group and a Russia expert who attended private meetings with Putin during the Clinton years. “The statements after the Duma riots were like kerosene on a fire, and it really made Putin angry.”

This was before the election, when a Hillary Clinton win seemed all but assured. But Putin’s man squeaked by on a technicality, and now we’re all suffering the consequences.

6 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Hillary Clinton, Russia

The Kremlin’s Candidate

The U.S. Senate has been told that the Kremlin hacked the DNC and worked with WikiLeaks for the express purpose of helping Donald Trump win the election:

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

While this is the current headline, let me be blunt: this is not news. I wrote about this over the summer, here. I’m just a dumb housewife in Tennessee but even I can read a damn newspaper. When you read that the Russians hacked everyone, but only the DNC’s emails got sent to WikiLeaks, it’s pretty obvious that they were trying to help one team, and it sure wasn’t Hillary’s. As I wrote then:

[…] it’s far more worrisome that Putin is trying to help get Donald Trump elected than that Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to help elect Hillary Clinton.

But did we have that conversation? Noooo. We had to get all emo over Debbie Wasserman Schultz. That was super-fun. Once again I have to give my thanks to the BernieBrats who allowed themselves to be the useful tools of Putin’s takeover of American democracy. Thanks, heaps! You guys took all the oxygen out of the room with your endless haranguing over shit that didn’t matter. Please eat a bag of dicks while you enjoy Goldman Sachs veteran Gary Cohn running the National Economic Council. {Speeches, arrgle barrgle, Wall Street puppets, arrgle barrgle …. }

Yeah, I’m still bitter and angry and I will be for the rest of my life. C’est la vie. What IS news in this latest development is that the Republican leadership knew about this well before the election and decided to not do anything because they wanted “their guy” to win:

By mid-September, White House officials had decided it was time to take that step, but they worried that doing so unilaterally and without bipartisan congressional backing just weeks before the election would make Obama vulnerable to charges that he was using intelligence for political purposes.

Instead, officials devised a plan to seek bipartisan support from top lawmakers and set up a secret meeting with the Gang of 12 — a group that includes House and Senate leaders, as well as the chairmen and ranking members of both chambers’ committees on intelligence and homeland security.

Obama dispatched Monaco, FBI Director James B. Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to make the pitch for a “show of solidarity and bipartisan unity” against Russian interference in the election, according to a senior administration official.

Specifically, the White House wanted congressional leaders to sign off on a bipartisan statement urging state and local officials to take federal help in protecting their voting-registration and balloting machines from Russian cyber-intrusions.

James Comey, well now, that’s a familiar name. He knew all of this and released his anti-Clinton letter one week before the election anyway? That’s downright treasonous. But I digress:

According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.

Some of the Republicans in the briefing also seemed opposed to the idea of going public with such explosive allegations in the final stages of an election, a move that they argued would only rattle public confidence and play into Moscow’s hands.

McConnell’s office did not respond to a request for comment. After the election, Trump chose McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, as his nominee for transportation secretary.

Someone remind me, which party’s candidate was characterized as untrustworthy and corrupt? Yet the Senate Majority Leader getting an obvious payback for turning a blind eye to foreign interference in our election doesn’t stink to high heaven? Even a little bit?

You kids today won’t believe this but those of us of a certain age remember a time when the Russians were considered our enemy. Before 9/11 this was a message we heard constantly from Republicans, including (especially) the sainted Ronald Reagan. It was the justification for our nuclear arsenal and the ill-fated “Star Wars” missile defense program. Us Cold War babies remember how the villains in every James Bond film weren’t Muslim terrorists, they were Soviet KGB agents. This was the world I grew up in.

Back in those days, of course, the Russians were Commie pinko Reds. Today’s Russia doesn’t have party bosses and the like; it has an authoritarian oligarch named Vladimir Putin, who has passed laws criminalizing LGBT people and has murdered his political opponents.

So the idea that Sen. Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan would be OK with the Kremlin picking our next president because it would mean “their team” would win (and McConnell’s wife would get a cabinet post) is somewhat shocking. My, how times have changed.

This is Republican patriotism?

Also, as always, let’s ask what would have happened if “Kenyan, Muslim” Obama had done anything close to this. Impeachment, of course.

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Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, CIA, FBI