Notes and Comment Blog


More adventures of a bully

Dec 8th, 2016 10:25 am | By

Yesterday I posted about union leader Chuck Jones’s fact-checking of Trump’s claims about the Carrier jobs. From Danielle Paquette in the Washington Post two days ago:

Jones, president of the United Steelworkers 1999, which represents Carrier employees, felt optimistic when Trump announced last week that he’d reached a deal with the factory’s parent company, United Technologies, to preserve 1,100 of the Indianapolis jobs — until the union leader heard from Carrier that only 730 of the production jobs would stay and 550 of his members would lose their livelihoods, after all.

At the Dec. 1 meeting, where Trump was supposed to lay out the details, Jones hoped he would explain himself.

“But he got up there,” Jones said Tuesday, “and, for whatever reason, lied his ass off.”

Late last night Paquette reported a follow-up – another Trump on Twitter story:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/806660011904614408

Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!

If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working-less time talking. Reduce dues

It’s fascinating, in a disquieting way, that the massive power imbalance doesn’t inhibit him.

Jones, a union leader in Indianapolis, represents the Carrier workers whose jobs Donald Trump has pledged to save. He said the sudden attention from the country’s next leader didn’t feel real.

“My first thought was, ‘Well, that’s not very nice,’ ” he told The Washington Post on Wednesday night. “Then, ‘Well, I might not sleep much tonight.’ “

Jones, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1999, told The Post on Tuesday that he believed Trump had lied to the Carrier workers last week when he visited the Indianapolis plant. On a makeshift stage in a conference room, Trump had applauded United Technologies, Carrier’s parent company, for cutting a deal with him and agreeing to keep 1,100 jobs that were slated to move to Mexico in America’s heartland.

Jones said Trump got that figure wrong.

Carrier, he said, had agreed to preserve 800 production jobs in Indiana. (Carrier confirmed that number.) The union leader said Trump appeared to be taking credit for rescuing 350 engineering positions that were never scheduled to leave. Five hundred fifty of his members, he said, were still losing their jobs. And the company was still collecting millions of dollars in tax breaks.

And Trump finds it urgent to attack Jones on Twitter.

Half an hour after Trump tweeted about Jones on Wednesday, the union leader’s phone began to ring and kept ringing, he said. One voice asked: What kind of car do you drive? Another said: We’re coming for you.

He wasn’t sure how these people found his number.

“Nothing that says they’re gonna kill me, but, you know, you better keep your eye on your kids,” Jones said later on MSNBC. “We know what car you drive. Things along those lines.”

“I’ve been doing this job for 30 years, and I’ve heard everything from people who want to burn my house down or shoot me,” he added. “So I take it with a grain of salt and I don’t put a lot of faith in that, and I’m not concerned about it and I’m not getting anybody involved. I can deal with people that make stupid statements and move on.”

Brett Voorhies, president of the Indiana State AFL-CIO, called Jones after Trump’s tweet caught his eye. Jones, he said, had just left his office in Indianapolis, where he manages the needs of about 3,000 union members.

“This guy makes pennies for what he does,” Voorhies said. “What he has to put up with is just crazy. Now he’s just got the president-elect smearing him on Twitter.”

I dislike Donald Trump. I think he’s a very bad man.



Add another fox

Dec 8th, 2016 10:03 am | By

Of course. Who better to run the Labor Department than the CEO of a fast food chain? CEOs are of course the people who are best placed to understand the needs of workers, and the least disposed to put profits ahead of workers’ need for a living wage. So well done, billionaire worker-cheating Donald Trump – you found such a CEO.

President-elect Donald J. Trump is expected to name Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive of the company that operates the fast food outlets Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. and an outspoken critic of the worker protections enacted by the Obama administration, to be secretary of labor, people close to the transition said on Thursday.

Mr. Puzder has spent his career in the private sector and has opposed efforts to expand eligibility for overtime pay, arguing that large minimum wage increases hurt small businesses and lead to job loss among low-skilled workers.

That’s richpeoplespeak for “gives pay to workers that should be profits going to rich people.”

In selecting Mr. Puzder, Mr. Trump appears to be banking on the idea that he can replicate some of his own appeal. Mr. Puzder, too, is a successful businessman prone to making populist pronouncements — he complained that “big corporate interests” and “globalist companies” were supporting Hillary Clinton in the presidential election — and the occasional streak of political incorrectness.

The advertisements that Mr. Puzder’s companies runs to promote its restaurants frequently feature women wearing next to nothing while gesturing suggestively. “I like our ads,” he told the publication Entrepreneur. “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”

So workers’ wages will stagnate or fall under Trump, if he and Pudzer have anything to do with it, but that’s totally ok because there will be more sexist jokes to giggle at.

In a 2012 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Puzder’s company listed his base salary as over $1 million. “Annual base salaries should be competitive and create a measure of financial security for our executive officers,” the filing said.

But the peons at Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr don’t need no stinkin’ financial security.



Foxes in charge of all the henhouses

Dec 7th, 2016 4:56 pm | By

Some reactions to the nomination of Scott Pruitt to run the EPA, seen on Facebook:

Bernie Sanders:

When climate change is the great threat to our planet, it is dangerous that Mr. Trump has nominated Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA. Mr. Pruitt’s is not only climate change denier, but also someone who has worked with the fossil fuel industry to actually make this country more dependent on fossil fuels.

Robert Reich:

Pruitt is well positioned to help Trump dismantle the E.P.A. altogether. Like Trump, Pruitt doesn’t believe the federal government has a role in setting environmental policy.

Trump will be nominating the most radical right-wing cabinet in American history — including an EPA administrator who doesn’t believe in regulating the environment, an Attorney General who doesn’t believe in the Voting Rights Act, a Secretary of Education who doesn’t believe in public education, a Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who doesn’t believe in the Fair Housing Act, and a Secretary of Health and Human Services who doesn’t believe in public health insurance.

And then there’s Trump himself, who doesn’t believe in anything except himself.

If you’re not yet motivated to become part of the Peaceful Resistance starting January 20, I hope these irresponsible appointments galvanize you. We must stand up to this lunacy.

Secular Coalition for America:

President-elect Donald Trump has selected climate change denier Scott Pruitt to head the E.P.A. The announcement comes the day after 800 climate and energy scientists submitted a letter to the incoming president urging him to “take immediate and sustained action against human-caused climate change.”

It should be re-named the Environmental Destruction Agency now. Its current name will just be a lie as of January 20th.



A close ally of the fossil fuel industry

Dec 7th, 2016 3:44 pm | By

More draining the swamp, by spurning people who know anything about climate or the environment for head of the EPA:

President-elect Donald J. Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, to run the Environmental Protection Agency, signaling Mr. Trump’s determination to dismantle President Obama’s efforts to counter climate change — and much of the E.P.A. itself.

Mr. Pruitt, a Republican, has been a key architect of the legal battle against Mr. Obama’s climate change policies, actions that fit with the president-elect’s comments during the campaign. Mr. Trump has criticized the established science of human-caused global warming as a hoax, vowed to “cancel” the Paris accord committing nearly every nation to taking action to fight climate change, and attacked Mr. Obama’s signature global warming policy, the Clean Power Plan, as a “war on coal.”

So just go plowing ahead as if nothing were wrong. It won’t be his problem!

Mr. Pruitt has been in lock step with those views.

“Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind,” he wrote in National Review earlier this year. “That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime.”

It’s not a debate topic. It’s a technical subject, which pools the scientific research of a vast number of scientists in different fields. It’s pointless for the public at large to “debate” it as if it were a purely political issue. It’s pointless and dangerous to promote the idea that it should be “debated” endlessly by people with no scientific knowledge or training.

“During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly threatened to dismantle the E.P.A. and roll back many of the gains made to reduce Americans’ exposures to industrial pollution, and with Pruitt, the president-elect would make good on those threats,” said Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington research and advocacy organization.

“It’s a safe assumption that Pruitt could be the most hostile E.P.A. administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history,” he added.

Oh goody. Maybe he’ll send shipments of lead to Flint so that they can have even more of it in their water.

Mr. Pruitt, 48, is a hero to conservative activists, one of a group of Republican attorneys general who formed an alliance with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda. Fossil fuel interests greeted Mr. Trump’s selection with elation.

“Attorney General Scott Pruitt has long been a defender of states’ rights and a vocal opponent of the current administration’s overreaching E.P.A,” said Laura Sheehan, a spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which works on behalf of the coal industry. “Mr. Pruitt will be a significant voice of reason when it comes to energy and environmental regulations.”

“Voice of reason” of course = don’t mess with our profits.

As Mr. Pruitt has sought to use legal tools to fight environmental regulations on the oil and gas companies that are a major part of his state’s economy, he has also worked with those companies. A 2014 investigation by The Times found that energy lobbyists drafted letters for Mr. Pruitt to send, on state stationery, to the E.P.A., the Interior Department, the Office of Management and Budget and even President Obama, outlining the economic hardship of the environmental rules.

So letters that appeared to be from the Oklahoma Attorney-General were actually from oil and gas lobbyists. How unethical.

As attorney general, Mr. Pruitt took the unusual step of jointly filing an antiregulatory lawsuit with industry players, such as Oklahoma Gas and Electric, the coal-burning electric utility, and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, a nonprofit group backed by major oil and gas executives, including Mr. Hamm.

Behind the scenes, he was taking campaign contributions from many of the industry players on his team, or helping deliver even larger sums of money to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which he became the chairman of.

Mr. Pruitt’s office also began to send letters to federal regulators — including the E.P.A. and even to President Obama — that documents obtained through open records requests show were written by energy industry lobbyists from companies including Devon Energy. Mr. Pruitt’s staff put these ghostwritten letters on state government stationery and then sent them to Washington, moves that the companies often then praised in their own news releases, without noting that they had actually drafted the letters in the first place.

This is how we drain the swamp.



Oops

Dec 7th, 2016 11:27 am | By

Time’s choice of photo to illustrate its Person of the Year cover of Trump is interesting.

He…erm…usually doesn’t let it show.

But more seriously, what a surly bruiser he does look. He may be trying to look serious and grown up, but all he looks is hostile and belligerent. He’s making not duck-face but fascist-face.

Also notice the dig under his name.

Updating to add:

There are many valuable replies to Helen Rosner’s tweet, for instance pointing out the fiendish positioning of Trump’s head right under the M so that it makes horns. Rosner says the whole photo uses a very 1940s aesthetic.



Triumph of the whatever

Dec 7th, 2016 10:57 am | By

Trump held another fascist rally yesterday.

President-elect Donald Trump continued his “Thank You” victory tour on Tuesday, making a stop in North Carolina to tout his national security agenda and formally introduce his pick for Defense Secretary, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis.

Speaking in Fayetteville, N.C., Trump called Mattis the “living embodiment of the Marine Corps motto” — Semper Fidelis.

“Mad Dog plays no games, right?” Trump asked, invoking the general’s nickname, and added that the country was fortunate “that a man of this character and integrity will now be the civilian leader atop the Department of Defense.”

The “civilian” leader whose career was in the military, which is not really what is normally meant by civilian control of the military.

To do that though, Mattis will have to get a waiver from Congress to bypass a law that calls for a seven-year “cooling off” period before someone who served in uniform can take the civilian post; Mattis retired from the Marine Corps in 2013. Just before the rally began, GOP lawmakers announced that they would include a provision to fast-track such a waiver as part of the stop-gap funding bill they need to pass by Friday to keep the government open.

Yeah. Let’s streamline all this shit. Let’s mad dog it. Let’s arrange everything so that men at the top give orders, and everyone else obeys them. It’s fast, it’s efficient, it gets the job done. Semper fi.

Briefly taking the stage after the president-elect’s glowing praise, Mattis alluded to that necessary step, telling the crowd that, “I look forward to being the civilian leader as long as the Congress gives me the waiver and the Senate votes to consent.”

“If he didn’t get that waiver, there’d be a lot of angry people,” Trump warned. “Such a popular choice.”

Yep, that’s Trump – threatening, bullying, and illiterate.

The stop in the Tar Heel State to formally introduce Mattis wasn’t by accident — the state is home to a large military population and several military bases, including nearby Fort Bragg, one of the largest military installations in the world.

“All men and women in uniform will have the supplies, support and equipment to get the job done incredibly well and perfectly,” the president-elect said.

He couldn’t help but boast of his unlikely victories at times though, including his unexpected win in North Carolina and also in industrial Midwestern states like Michigan and Wisconsin.

“We don’t talk about numbers, we bring people together, but boy, were those numbers good,” Trump said.

Except of course for the popular vote, which keeps inexorably rising.

And he brought up flag-burning and possible consequences a few times during his speech, hearkening back to a tweet last month that dredged up the 1980’s-era controversy that the Supreme Court has ruled is protected speech.

“We love our flag, and we don’t like it when we see people ripping up our flag and burning it, and we’ll see what we’re going to do about that, ok?” Trump said.

Ok, sure. Tear up the Constitution, what the hell – you’re the boss.



Including “and” and “the”

Dec 7th, 2016 10:24 am | By

Again a major newspaper calls Trump a liar in the headline as well as the body.

Headline:

Carrier union boss: Donald Trump ‘lied his ass off’ about saving 1,100 jobs from moving to Mexico

They used asterisks in “ass” but not in “lied.”

Donald Trump lied about saving more than 1,100 Indianapolis manufacturing jobs from moving to Mexico, according to the boss of the company’s union.

Chuck Jones, leader of the United Steelworkers 1999 union who watched the president-elect give a speech at the air conditioning plant on 1 December, told the Washington Post that Mr Trump had inflated his victory.

He claimed to have “saved” over 1100, but it was really 800; the company confirmed that number.

In gratitude for keeping less than half the jobs in the US, Mr Trump promised the plant huge tax breaks and benefits, including nearly $7 million tax credits from Indiana, to be paid in installments of $700,000 every year for a decade. In return, Carrier said it would invest $16 million in its Indiana plant. It will still send 700 factory jobs south of the border to Monterrey, Mexico.

That’s a lot of bribery for 800 jobs.



These bills punish women

Dec 7th, 2016 9:50 am | By

Ohio is super excited about our new Trump future.

Ohio lawmakers passed a bill late Tuesday that would prohibit abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected — at around six weeks, before many women realize they are pregnant.

If Gov. John Kasich (R) signs the bill, it would pose a direct challenge to Supreme Court decisions that have found that women have a constitutional right to abortion at least until the point of viability, which is typically pegged around 24 weeks. Similar bills have been blocked by the courts. Because of this, even many antiabortion advocates have opposed such measures.

But some Ohio Republicans said they were empowered to support the bill because of President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 high court decision that legalized abortion nationally.

Yay! Return women to bondage! Women aren’t people anyway, they’re just conduits.

Abortion rights groups immediately condemned the measure, including how it was passed: As a last-minute amendment to an unrelated bill. They said it contains no exceptions for rape or incest. And they noted that the Ohio legislature is set to vote on another abortion restriction today, one that would ban the procedure at 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“Make no mistake — these bills punish women,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement. “We call on Governor John Kasich to veto these unconstitutional abortion bans.”

But punishing women is what makes it so much fun.

 



Don’t care was made to care

Dec 7th, 2016 9:16 am | By

Oh, so that’s why Ivanka Trump was in the room when Trump met with Shinzo Abe, while state department officials and reporters were excluded.

When Donald J. Trump hosted a foreign leader for the first time as president-elect, the guest list included a curious entry: Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who looked on last month while he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan chatted on a white couch high above Manhattan.

Some 6,700 miles from Trump Tower, in Tokyo, another exclusive gathering was already underway: a two-day private viewing of Ivanka Trump products, teeming with Trump-branded treasures like a sample of the pale pink dress Ms. Trump wore to introduce her father at the Republican National Convention.

Ms. Trump is nearing a licensing deal with the Japanese apparel giant Sanei International, both parties told The New York Times. The largest shareholder of Sanei’s parent company is the Development Bank of Japan, which is wholly owned by the Japanese government.

Sleazy as fuck.

His current plan is still to hand the management of his business over to his three oldest children, as if that would do away with the many gross conflicts of interest. (Hint: he’s related to them. They’re related to him.)

Yet an examination of the professional histories of the three children — who also serve on the presidential transition team — shows how deeply the Trump family, Trump business and Trump politics are interwoven, raising significant doubts about how meaningful a wall can ever be erected between Mr. Trump and his heirs at the Trump Organization.

Translation: making it obvious that Trump will do nothing about the many gross conflicts of interest unless he’s forced to.

Already, complications abound.

The children each hold a stake in the lease that allows the organization to operate the Trump International Hotel out of the federal government’s Old Post Office Building in Washington. Mr. Trump, as president, will appoint the head of the General Services Administration, which manages the property, while his children oversee a hotel with millions of dollars in ties to the agency.

Trump says it’s all ok though, because he doesn’t care.

At times, the president-elect has grown incredulous when pressed on the specter of conflicts.

In an interview last month with The Times, he wondered aloud what harm might come from, say, taking a picture with business partners for a project his children were leading. He suggested some critics would prefer that he “never, ever see my daughter Ivanka again.”

He allowed, though, that his election had changed at least one thing.

“The brand is certainly a hotter brand than it was before,” he said. “I can’t help that, but I don’t care.”

Oh well then. What a relief.



Acting as a foreign agent for the government of Taiwan

Dec 7th, 2016 8:30 am | By

So it’s now clear that Trump was lying when he said the phone call with Taiwan was just a friendly “congrats!” call from one president to another. It was carefully arranged, and one of the arrangers was a paid lobbyist and former Senator.

Former Senator Bob Dole, acting as a foreign agent for the government of Taiwan, worked behind the scenes over the past six months to establish high-level contact between Taiwanese officials and President-elect Donald J. Trump’s staff, an outreach effort that culminated last week in an unorthodox telephone call between Mr. Trump and Taiwan’s president.

Mr. Dole, a lobbyist with the Washington law firm Alston & Bird, coordinated with Mr. Trump’s campaign and the transition team to set up a series of meetings between Mr. Trump’s advisers and officials in Taiwan, according to disclosure documents filed last week with the Justice Department. Mr. Dole also assisted in successful efforts by Taiwan to include language favorable to it in the Republican Party platform, according to the documents.

Mr. Dole’s firm received $140,000 from May to October for the work, the forms said.

The disclosures suggest that President-elect Trump’s decision to take a call from the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, was less a ham-handed diplomatic gaffe and more the result of a well-orchestrated plan by Taiwan to use the election of a new president to deepen its relationship with the United States — with an assist from a seasoned lobbyist well versed in the machinery of Washington.

I wonder when they were planning to tell us that – the rabble who make up the citizenry of this country. I do wish someone would explain to Trump that he’s not a dictator and does not have the powers of a dictator.

The phone call between Mr. Trump and Ms. Tsai was a striking break from nearly four decades of diplomatic practice and threatened to precipitate a major rift with China, which admonished Mr. Trump in a front-page editorial in the overseas edition of People’s Daily.

The disclosure documents were submitted before the call took place and made no mention of it. But Mr. Dole, 93, a former Senate majority leader from Kansas, said he had worked with transition officials to facilitate the conversation.

“It’s fair to say that we had some influence,” he said. “When you represent a client and they make requests, you’re supposed to respond.”

Yeah we understand about the client-lobbyist relationship, but that’s not the point. When a drug lord tells an enforcer to kill an enemy, the enforcer is “supposed to respond” according to the drug lord, but that “supposed to” has no force anywhere else. We get that Dole’s clients expect him to do what they ask, but that’s not our concern and it’s not the issue.



TICK

Dec 6th, 2016 4:26 pm | By

To cleanse the palate.



Shermer tries to fix feminism again

Dec 6th, 2016 3:56 pm | By

Shermer’s on a roll with the feminism thing. He’s not saying anything you could call new, but…well by golly he’s saying it. He’s got a theme. His theme is that the degenerated feminists of today are whiny weaklings compared to their awesome get-it-done predecessors many decades ago. I still say it’s suspiciously convenient to admire feminists who were active more than a century ago while pouring scorn on the ones who are around now to make nuisances of themselves. I’m pretty sure there were plenty of men more than a century ago who didn’t find their contemporary feminists quite so inspiring.

Be that as it may – it’s familiar stuff, and it’s clueless. It’s Ben Carson – pull yourselves up by your bootstraps. Stop complaining and just try harder. That’s how to feminist the right way.

Libertarianism in a nutshell. Don’t focus on anything but your own personal success. Don’t talk about the institutions and ways of thinking that hold back a whole class of people, just Do What You Want. Don’t be slowed down or exhausted by obstacles, just forge ahead like a superhuman. Don’t object to sexist hiring practices, just try ten times as hard as Normal People have to. Don’t let those unwanted pregnancies get you down, just drop the kid and then give it to…er…someone else, and get back to work, until the next one.

Above all don’t give a shit about anyone but you, ever. If you can make it, it doesn’t matter that millions of others can’t. Pay no attention when they point out all the obstacles in their way, because that’s just complaining. Never talk about patriarchal rules and expectations that limit women’s opportunities no matter how hard individual women try to ignore them. That would be political, that would involve solidarity, and we can’t have that, can we.



Don’t diss Donnie

Dec 6th, 2016 3:27 pm | By

Did Trump cause Boeing’s stock to plummet in a fit of temper? Philip Bump at the Washington Post wonders.

The tweet was this morning.

What inspired him this time?

CNN’s Jake Tapper noted on Twitter that shortly before the tweet (which was posted at 8:52 a.m. Eastern) the Chicago Tribune posted an article quoting the company’s CEO, Dennis Muilenberg. (The comments were made at a speech on Friday, not in an interview with the Tribune, as this article originally indicated.)

“Anyone who paid attention to the recent campaigns and the election results realizes that one of the overarching themes was apprehension about free and fair trade,” Muilenberg said at the Illinois Manufacturing Association last week, as noted by Tribune columnist Robert Reed. Fair trade has helped Boeing, which prides itself on being America’s largest manufacturing exporter.

“Last year, we delivered 495 737s from our factory in Renton, Wash., to customers around the world,” Muilenberg continued, noting that a third of the planes were sent to China. “This phenomenon would have been unimaginable when I started at the company in 1985.”

Those are pointed comments. It was Trump, of course, who robustly criticized free trade during the general election. And it is Trump who, this week, seemed to threaten a trade war with China.

In other words Muilenberg disrespected Donnie from Queens.

That story has a dateline of 7:30 Central time — 8:30 Eastern. Trump’s tweet came out a few minutes later.

We don’t know that Trump was responding to the Tribune story. We do know that the last time he tweeted an out-of-the-blue opinion, about flag-burning, it was immediately after a Fox News segment showing students burning flags.

We also know that Trump’s tweet tanked Boeing’s stock price, albeit only briefly.

Mature and responsible as always.



Trump foments violence

Dec 6th, 2016 12:05 pm | By

Dana Milbank has more on the pizzeria shootup and Trump’s fomenting of hatred and thus violence.

He got an email from a reader on Sunday.

“Rope, Tree, Journalist,” the man wrote. “Some assembly required.” To this slogan, made popular by T-shirts Donald Trump supporters wore at his rallies, my would-be hangman added his offer: “I will assemble for you.”

This bit of, er, gallows humor was the latest, though far from the worst, of the sort of correspondence my colleagues and I have been receiving lately.

There was a time when threats against journalists, like threats of any sort of political violence, were exceedingly rare. But in Trump’s America, such threats are neither rare nor idle.

The pizzeria shootup – in his neighborhood – is one example.

Jones has been whipping up a bogus and bizarre accusation that Comet is a front for a Hillary Clinton-affiliated pedophilia ring, and the resulting calls and messages threaten a “public lynching” of this nonexistent ring. “I pray someone comes to Comet pizza with automatic weapons and kills everyone inside,” wrote one. “I just may cut your throat. . . . I truly hope someone blows your brains all over Comet pizza.”

Comet’s owners asked the FBI for help but heard nothing in reply from James Comey’s agents. They heard instead from a North Carolina man, carrying an assault rifle, who walked into Comet and started shooting on Sunday afternoon — by coincidence, about the same time I got the email from the aspiring hangman. The man told police he had come to “self-investigate” the pedophilia conspiracy. Mercifully, nobody was hurt.

But next time, and the time after that, and into the future?

And the Flynns, father and son, have been promoting this conspiracy theory.

This would appear to be the new normal: Not only disagreeing with your opponent but accusing her of running a pedophilia ring, provoking such fury that somebody takes it upon himself to start shooting. Not only chafing when criticized in the press but stoking anti-media hysteria that leads some supporters to threaten to kill journalists.

After The Washington Post reported Sunday about the Comet gunman and the nonsense conspiracy theory that motivated him, the reporters received emails and tweets saying “I hope the next shooter targets you lying sacks of shit in the media,” “God has a plan better than death,” and “it would also be a shame if someone took a gun to” The Post.

Trump is not directly responsible for every violent word or action of his followers. But he foments violence. As The Post’s executive editor, Marty Baron, has noted, when Trump refers to journalists as “the lowest form of life,” “scum” and the enemy, “it is no wonder that some members of our staff [at The Post] and at other news organizations received vile insults and threats of personal harm so worrisome that extra security was required.”

The fact that Trump is not directly responsible is thus kind of beside the point. Working people up into a lather of rage at a particular set of people is dangerous to that particular set of people.

Trump, during the campaign, fantasized about Clinton and her judicial nominees being assassinated. He boasted that “I bring rage out” in people, and his violent rallies proved it. Since the election, Trump has falsely accused the media of inciting violence. At his speech in Ohio last week he denounced the “dishonest” media no fewer than six times.

He has also been encouraging Jones, leading publicist of the Comet-Clinton-pedophilia absurdity. Trump has praised Jones’s “amazing” reputation, called Jones after winning the presidency to thank him for his support, and has regularly parroted Jones’s conspiracy ideas.

And surprise surprise, he gets results.

If Trump were a different leader, he would declare that political violence is unacceptable in a free society. Perhaps he’d say it after eating a “Steel Wills” pie at Comet.

But instead he continues to fuel rage against his opponents and his critics. More and worse violence will inevitably follow.

Watch your back out there.



Between theocracy and populism

Dec 6th, 2016 11:33 am | By

Bob Churchill on Facebook:

Today I went to the European Parliament and told everyone about people persecuted for “apostasy”, the rise of radical Islamist pressure groups, and the risk to secular liberties from certain forms of populism, all as documented in the new Online Edition of the Freedom of Thought Report of which I am the editor. And you thought I didn’t know how to have fun.

Freedom of thought: now more than ever.

 



Guest post: His individual effort? Or his mom’s?

Dec 6th, 2016 10:47 am | By

Originally a comment by iknklast on Fox to oversee hen house.

In his autobiography he stressed that individual effort, not government programs, were the key to overcoming poverty

His individual effort? Or his mom’s?

Most of the Republican candidates spent a lot of time pointing out that their parents were poor, hard-working, etc. In other words, someone that was not them sacrificed a lot of effort to send them to school, to push them to succeed, and to get them where they are today.

Some of us had moms who committed huge effort to push us away from school, to push us toward marriage and a dozen kids, to push us to stay barefoot and pregnant. What I wouldn’t have given for one of their poor (we were poor, too) but hard-working mothers who encouraged them, gave them what they needed, and sacrificed themselves for the benefit of the men who now are grown to become men who would like to take away a lot of the ability of the poor women (and men) to help their children in the same way. If I had been given a fraction of what they were given by these mothers (or bartender fathers), I might be in the running for president, too.

I guess what I’m saying is that it isn’t hard work and talent alone that take you there, it’s having support from family, from community (which is where I got most of my support) and from society. That sometimes means financial support.



Sifting fact from speculation and rumor

Dec 6th, 2016 10:40 am | By

The New York Times yesterday pointed out Michael Flynn’s fondness for conspiracy theories and fake news.

For Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who is President-elect Donald J. Trump’s choice for national security adviser, pushing conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton is a family affair: Both he and his son, Michael G. Flynn, have used social media to spread fake news stories linking Mrs. Clinton to underage sex rings and other serious crimes, backed by no evidence.

The Twitter habits of both men are attracting renewed attention after a man fired a rifle on Sunday inside Comet Ping Pong, a Washington pizza restaurant that was the subject of false stories during the campaign tying it and the Clinton campaign to a child sex trafficking ring.

Lies and people who believe lies helped get Trump, a chronic liar, elected. Something is wrong here.

Well before he joined the Trump campaign, the elder Mr. Flynn, 57, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, pushed unsubstantiated claims about Islamic law’s spreading in the United States and about the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. But in his emergence this year as the angry former general out to help Mr. Trump clean up Washington, Mr. Flynn added wild stories about Hillary Clinton to his stock of unproven tales.

Six days before the election, for instance, Mr. Flynn posted on Twitter a fake news story that claimed the police and prosecutors in New York had found evidence linking Mrs. Clinton and much of her senior campaign staff to pedophilia, money laundering, perjury and other felonies.

That is really disgusting as well as frightening. That is the future national security adviser. How do we know he and Trump won’t start a war based on fake news?! We don’t.

Does that look like a good fit for the job?

And then there’s his son. I was hoping he’s beside the point, but he’s not, because he works for his daddy.

Michael G. Flynn, 33, is more than just a relative of an incoming senior administration official. In recent years, he has served as the chief of staff to his father, who started a private intelligence and consulting business, the Flynn Intel Group, after being forced to retire from the military in 2014.

Throughout the campaign, Michael G. Flynn served as a gatekeeper for his father, and he now appears to have a job with the Trump transition team. Email sent to an address at the Flynn Intel Group returned with an automated response that provided a new email contact for both Flynns, and each had a Trump transition email address that ended with .gov.

I’ve seen headlines today that say he’s no longer part of the transition team. His public blurts are even worse than the general’s.

But the general is the one whose job it is to filter out lies.

His role as national security adviser calls for mediating the conflicting views of cabinet secretaries and agencies, and sifting fact from speculation and rumor to help the new president decide how the United States should react to international crises.

It is a role that is likely to take on outsize importance for Mr. Trump, who has no experience in defense or foreign policy issues and has a habit of making broad assertions that are not based in fact.

Pause to think about that. It’s especially important for the next president to have a national security adviser who knows how to sift fact from speculation and rumor, because the  next president is a stupid and ignorant real estate tycoon who tells reckless lies all the time. It’s especially important for the next president to have a national security adviser who knows how to sift fact from speculation and rumor, because the  next president is a stupid and ignorant real estate tycoon who tells reckless lies all the time.

Mr. Flynn, though, has shown similar inclinations both on Twitter and in regular life. His sometimes dubious assertions became so familiar to subordinates at the Defense Intelligence Agency that they came up with a name for the phenomenon: They called them “Flynn facts.”

It’s enough to make you vomit from sheer terror.



If only feminism were on a white horse

Dec 5th, 2016 4:29 pm | By

Trump sure has brought them out of the woodwork. Great job, President Pussygrabber!

The latest wisdom from Michael Shermer:

When I think of feminists I think of Inez Milholland, led 1913 march on DC, not today’s fainting couchers

Well of course he does. She’s pretty, she’s young, she’s on a gleaming white horse, and above all she’s safely in the past. Of course men who hate feminism are down with pretty women on white horses in 1913; what’s not to like?

What a shitty, gratuitous, ignorant thing to say. It implies that all contemporary feminists are “fainting couchers” who are an insult to the memory of Inez Milholland who rode a white horse. That’s not the case.

Also, oddly enough, it’s not really Michael Shermer’s job or duty or role to decide who is the right kind of feminist, any more than it’s his role to decide who is the right kind of LGB rights activist or ant-racism activist. Nobody asked him, and his opinion isn’t needed. He’s a shallow, smug libertarian who thinks he’s much cleverer than he is – another Thomas Friedman or David Brooks except not as famous.

I invite him to return to the woodwork.



Kidding not kidding

Dec 5th, 2016 1:09 pm | By

So Trump was lying about how innocent and unexpected that phone call with the president of Taiwan was.

In today’s Washington Post, Anne Gearan, Philip Rucker and Simon Denyer cite inside sources who say the call was months in the making and intentionally provocative in regard to China.

That was apparently news to Trump, who on Friday night, as the controversy erupted, dismissively tweeted as if it were a small matter in which Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen phoned him to offer her congratulations, and he took the call as a courtesy.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/804848711599882240

And some of his team also said calm down, chill out, it was no big thing, just a couple of people dishing on the phone.

But by Sunday evening — shortly before The Post’s story went live — Trump took a decidedly new tack, talking tough on China in a way that’s more consistent with what the sources were saying about the Taiwan call.

And as The Post’s story makes clear, those close to the situation are describing it as much more than just a “courtesy call.” They aren’t saying the “One China” policy is out the window, but they do suggest it was meant to signal a substantial shift in at least the tone of U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan.

Maybe if we’re really really lucky he’ll get us into a war with China. A dream come true!



Fox to oversee henhouse

Dec 5th, 2016 12:10 pm | By

The Times on Trump’s choice of Ben Carson:

With no experience in government or running a large bureaucracy, Mr. Carson, 65, publicly waffled over whether to join the administration. He will oversee an agency with a $47 billion budget, bringing to the job a philosophical opposition to government programs that encourage what he calls “dependency” and engage in “social engineering.”

He has no expertise in housing policy, but he did spend part of his childhood in public housing, said a close friend, Armstrong Williams, and he was raised by a dauntless mother with a grammar-school education. In his autobiography he stressed that individual effort, not government programs, were the key to overcoming poverty.

Yeah that’s great. I’ve been to the doctor for checkups a few times, therefore I’m qualified to be Surgeon General, right? Why not, this is America.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development oversees programs that provide vouchers and other rental assistance for five million low-income families, fights urban blight and helps struggling homeowners stave off foreclosures.

So given his emphasis on the fatuous claim that individual effort, not government programs, is the key to overcoming poverty, no doubt he’ll be doing away with all those pesky vouchers, not to mention the struggling remainders of federal public housing.

Mr. Carson will be charged with enforcing the same civil rights law once used in a federal lawsuit against Mr. Trump. He and his father were accused in 1973 of refusing to rent to African-Americans in their buildings. A former Trump superintendent testified that he had been told to mark a “C,” for “colored,” on the applications of black apartment seekers. The Trumps denied the charges and countersued the government. They ultimately signed a consent degree in which they did not admit guilt, but agreed to desegregate their properties.

A band of brothers.