Our Tone Deaf President and the Tornadoes

From a Google Image Search, near Dayton, Ohio, ABC News

Climate Change Rollbacks Announced During Violent Tornado Season

President Trump has announced that he will roll back the remaining Obama climate change protections even as Americans face despair as their shelter, their life’s investment, turns into a pile of sticks in what may be the worst storm season ever for the middle of America. This President once again proves that he is tone deaf to the needs of American citizens and denying signals the earth is sending us about what the future will be like if we don’t at least try to lower CO2levels. The President hates rules even those dictated by the universe. He knows better. His business degree gave him deep knowledge about science. Not. He loves most dictators. You would think he would admire a universe that is so powerful. But he likes money more.

A series of tornadoes has been devastating the midsection of America. Twelve straight days of tornadoes in and near Kansas City, MO has to have left residents in a state of constant dread that they will be in the bullseye next.

An Accuweather article sums us these intense weather systems, which seem more serious than even a normally busy tornado season. Every day the pictures in the news show what were once houses that sheltered real people or malls where people shopped reduced to wooden sticks and roof sections. In many cases rubble is all the storm leaves behind. 

https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/storm-ravaged-central-us-braces-for-more-tornadoes-flooding-into-tuesday/70008368

From a Google Image Search – Dayton, Ohio shopping center, WSJ
From a Google Image Search – WSJ

From a Google Image Search, Dayton, Ohio, CBS 42
From a Google Image Search – Kansas – orig.jacksonsun.com
From a Google Image Search – Oklahoma – Accuweather
From a Google Image Search – Oklahoma – CT Post

Trump Cheats

LEON NEAL From a Google Image Search – CNN.com

Trump Cheats

Running against Trump is not a fate I would wish for anyone. I wish the candidate who wins the Democratic primary  did not have to run against this nasty piece-of-enigma. Trump cheats. Trump’s behavior is not limited by rules. He sneers at rules. Rules are for chumps. And he has been able to get away with breaking the rules for so long that he believes he is invincible. I am worried that his unfounded confidence makes it almost impossible to discover his “kryptonite”. 

He has the Senate in his corner. Cynical Republicans in Congress have wholeheartedly embraced this criminal bottom feeder hiding in the oval office because he makes them think that he (and therefore they) will keep mysteriously winning. For now the winning is all too real. But the winning is real because Trump cheats. The Republican Party has also been doing a lot of cheating. If there are no moral rules, no philosophical stops, no conscience, and no guilt you can use any tactics against your opponents. If your opponents are determined to uphold some principles (as in this case the Democrats are)  then the probability of beating them goes way up because Trump and the Republicans can just use lots of no-holds-barred politics and violate the Constitution they have pledged to uphold, and there you have it. 

How Does Trump Cheat? 

How does Trump cheat you may well ask. Trump began cheating even while campaigning and we watched him do it but we could never prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Being negative about an opponent is considered quite acceptable in an election although voters are always moaning about how they hate negative ads. Finding your opponents past impurities and exaggerating them is AOK. 

But I believe there is a difference between airing someone’s past political inconsistencies and totally demonizing someone. The kinds of conspiracy theories that turn a fairly normal Secretary of State and grandmother into someone who finds children for child predators and eats babies, stories which circulated about Hillary, goes beyond the pale. Why people like to believe these products of someone’s overactive imagination is tough to understand until you realize how many times these stories are repeated and called to the attention of people who also happen to be voters. But someone believed it so well that he took a long gun to a DC pizza parlor to bust up the trafficking operation that was supposedly going on in the basement of the establishment.

The numbers in the elections were not on Trump’s side when he began campaigning. Hillary had the electoral college threshold within reach; every poll said so. However several events occurred in the final months of the campaign. Videos started to appear on social media that claimed that Hillary was sick and even dying. Trump began this attack on Hillary’s health, although he had no actual medical data to back up his remarks. And of course, Hillary actually did have a fairly serious case of pneumonia. Campaigning is hard work. She let herself get run down, but she was certainly not dying. 

I don’t remember when another candidate in an election has “owned” a whole television news channel dedicated day and night to putting a single political party into office by playing on the grievances of some American voters. Fox “News” may have backed the Republican Party but it soon became the channel of Trump.

The time line is important-notice proximity to the election:

Someone at the FBI found Hillary emails on Andrew Weiner’s laptop and that refreshed the ire about Hillary’s use of a private server. Her assistant, Huma Abedin, a Muslim, it was suggested, may have leaked classified materials to her estranged husband’s laptop with sinister intent (something, something terrorists). (Huma Abedin was born in Kalamazoo, MI).

  • On July 5, 2016, former FBI Director James Comey announced that the bureau would recommend that charges not be filed in the probe into Clinton’s use of a private email system while heading the State Department.
  • On Sept. 26, 2016, the FBI executed a search warrant on former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s iPhone, iPad and laptop computer, and discovered 141,000 emails on the laptop that were potentially relevant to the FBI’s closed investigation of Clinton. Longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin was married to Weiner at the time. (Abedin’s lawyer said early this year the couple was privately finalizing their divorce.) Weiner was being separately investigated for “sexting” with an underage teenage girl.
  • A month later, on Oct. 28, 2016, Comey told lawmakers in a letter that the FBI had “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” and that investigators would “review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information.”

  • On Nov. 6, 2016, Comey told Congress in a follow-up memo that the FBI had “reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State” and that officials “have not changed our conclusions.”
  • The election took place Nov. 8, 2016.

It is highly unlikely that Trump initiated this FBI timeline but he certainly used it to full advantage with plenty of innuendo and “rigged” election speech. But clearly the timing of this FBI announcement was very suspicious. However it is also highly unlikely that Comey was in cahoots with Trump, although I suppose someone may have tipped the FBI off about the emails on Weiner’s computer, and we have had no reporting about who that might have been. 

The Access Hollywood tapes were aired on October 7, 2016 and things looked bad for Trump for a while. But Trump’s friend Roger Stone seems to have signaled for the Wikileaks dumps to begin an hour later. Why did Trump command such loyalty from so many influential, but shady men? Why did some Americans want a man like Trump to be President? Why did the American people want a president whose elections tactics seemed so underhanded? Again a 24/7 news outlet, which was able to spin everything in favor of a man who turned an election into a mafia movie, had an enormous effect as it ginned up the angers that talk radio hosts had spent a decade implanting in American brains. 


Isaac Stanley-Becker, The Washington Post • January 29, 2019 10:31 am 
Updated: January 29, 2019 10:31 am

“The revelation in The Washington Post of a tape of Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women landed just after 4 p.m. on Oct. 7, 2016.

Less than an hour later, WikiLeaks, an anti-secrecy organization founded by Julian Assange, began releasing hacked emails from the account of John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.”

https://bangordailynews.com/2019/01/29/national-politics/

Many things happened to help Trump win the 2016 election that he had no control over. But he certainly responded to negative information very quickly using distraction to great advantage. There is still all the Russia interference in the election that followed Trump’s tacit statement of permission for Russia to jump into the mix.

“Russian officials began to target email addresses associated with Hillary Clinton’s personal and campaign offices “on or around” the same day Donald Trump called on Russia to find emails that were missing from her personal server, according to a new indictment from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. 

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing, I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” Trump said in a July 27, 2016 news conference…

After the July, 2016 news conference, critics slammed Trump for apparently encouraging foreign actors to steal information from his opponent. “This has gone from being a matter of curiosity and a matter of politics to being a national security issue,” the Clinton campaign said in a statement after Trump’s remarks…

Mueller’s indictment details a sophisticated, large-scale hacking effort by 12 Russian officers to interfere with the 2016 elections by stealing documents from private servers and staging their release through fake online personas, such as Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks.

In all, the Russian officials and their co-conspirators targeted more than 300 people associated with the Clinton campaign and other Democratic Party organizations starting in March 2016, the indictment says. 

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said no Americans knew they were communicating with Russians in this indictment and he had no evidence that the outcome of the election was affected.”

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/trump-asked-russia-to-find-clintons-emails-on-or-around-the-same-day-russians-targeted-her-accounts

Rob Rosenstein had no evidence that the election was not affected either.

I have never heard a candidate who wished to be the President of America ask Russia to help them do anything or learned that so many, or indeed any contacts, took place between a campaign and Russians. Here is another tactic that seems absolutely beyond the pale, except this particular man knows how to get others to cheat for him so it is almost impossible to pin anything underhanded on him. We know he cheats, we can see him doing it, but we cannot prove it.

How Barr turned the Mueller Report into a Fiasco

When a special investigator was finally appointed, it took Mueller almost 2 years to conduct an investigation. Throughout those 2 years we heard Trump address Mueller constantly, using a bullhorn to make sure everyone could hear him say that he is not guilty, which made us suspect all the more that he is very guilty. Trump managed to put an attorney general in place just before the investigation ended who believes, according to a document he produced, in the absolute power of the President. 

With the acceptance of William Barr to be the AG we the people were screwed. We suspect Barr called a halt to the investigation; we know he commandeered the official report and handed out a less-than-adequate summary of the contents of the report. Although he later gave people (voters) access to a heavily redacted version of the report he did this only after the fake verdict had already had time to set in. The majority leader in the Senate who does whatever Trump asks and nothing more has declared the case closed. 

Trump has defied the House of Representatives and the Constitution by refusing to cooperate in any way with House investigations. He has ignored subpoenas; has told all his peeps to ignore subpoenas. And there we are, where we stand right now with our cheater-in-chief and an election looming. I do not believe there is one Democratic candidate willing to cheat the way Trump has, with no respect for the rule of law or even the rules of political warfare. Trump cheats bigly.

How do Republicans cheat?

How do the Republicans cheat? The Republicans cheat by messing with votes, Democratic Party votes. Statistics show exactly who votes for Democrats so it is an easy matter to target them with a flurry of annoying tactics, each of which must be discovered and defused. These attacks on voters are so numerous and enacted at such local levels that it is difficult to overturn each and every one before a given election day. Our elections, which I used to feel were very well run, protected by the (now toothless) Voters Rights Act, which were mostly fair and free, are beginning to seem like beleaguered mine fields of purged voter rolls, gerrymandered districts, polling places that keep getting cut and cuts in the number of voting days, Russian hackers, and any other thing some Republican comes up with. It is always Republicans trying to suppress Democratic votes. There is no evidence that Democrats have tried to suppress Republican votes and that is because Dems have not been doing that. Republicans have been cheating for decades.

Holding an election in such a chaotic landscape fills me with dread that we are doomed to four more years of Donald Trump because he and his people are willing to cheat to win and the Democrats are not. And cheaters seem to be winning these days. It doesn’t seem like it should be like that. You would think voters would not vote for cheaters. Will this election have any oversight?

Trump “Punches” Women

New York Post from a Google Image Search

Trump is a counterpuncher. He is proud of this and he warns us about his vengeful nature all of the time. Gender doesn’t matter. Trump counterpunches women also. Because Nancy Pelosi landed several punches to the Trump ego she has attracted the schoolyard ire of the Trump. What did she do to deserve being punched? Well she mentioned the “I” word, which, we surmise, must stand for impeachment. She said he (He) was engaged in a “cover up”. Then she said she would pray for the president implying that he has difficulties that require our prayerful attentions. And furthermore she told Donald’s family that they needed to organize an intervention, presumably to address the mental health of the president. 

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/05/23/pelosi_after_temper_tantrum_trump_needs_an_intervention.html

These were fairly audacious remarks perhaps designed to provoke someone with Trump’s narcissistic personality characteristics. And they worked. He may have had all his people claim that he was very calm (a ridiculous strategy that could only look creepy) but his state of mind seemed more like a volcano close to blowing its top off. When Trump is steamed at one person, he retaliates. 

If that person is a woman he acts a lot like Phillip Stucky in Pretty Woman when Vivian forgets she’s a prostitute and lets Stucky know she finds him disgusting. 

Address stored on video and can be retrieved

He punches, he endorses doctored videos that make Nancy Pelosi look drunk or perhaps mid-stroke and he says she is not the same, something is wrong (just like he did when he attacked Hillary by implying that she had a dire terminal disease that would affect her mental capacities). Demonizing women has become almost a full-time tactic for Republicans and Trump is the penultimate Republican (who would have thought). 

https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/24/18637771/nancy-pelosi-congress-deepfake-video-facebook-twitter-youtube

Although Nancy Pelosi’s comments to the press were less than smoothly delivered the fake videos exaggerate those flaws to make them look ominous and to crush any power she might have to sway public opinion. Facebook has declined to remove these videos because of free speech concerns so we will see how gullible Americans actually are or how far they are immersed in the cult of Trump.

If Nancy Pelosi persists, as we know Democratic women do, will Trump be unable to hold on to the appearance of keeping his temper? Will steam start to come out of his ears? Too bad cartoon effects don’t actually occur in real life. Will his temper tantrum come with redder face (is that possible) and balled fists and rising to his tippy toes? Will the memes of internet trolling coming from Trump staff and cult members escalate to ever greater heights of hyperbolic dishonesty? Or does a tiny grandmother know exactly the ways to sideline an unruly child?   

Don McGahn, Trump, Congress, and the Constitution.

From a Google Image Search – The Daily Beast

Don McGahn, Trump, Congress, and the Constitution – not about the 2020 Election or the Democrats.

Today Don McGahn, who used to be White House Counsel in the Trump White House, did not answer a subpoena to appear before the Judicial Committee in the House of Representatives. The drumbeat for impeachment grew louder. Republican Senator Chris Collins gave an impassioned speech which basically accused the House Dems of playing politics. Well, he ought to know because that is exactly what Mr. Collins is doing. If Mr. Collins was upholding the oath he took to defend and protect the US Constitution he would not be backing Donald Trump, nor would he favor the defiance of any subpoena issued by Congress. He would be insisting that we all hear the testimony of Don McGahn.

We have laws. We have a Constitution. We have traditions. Congress has a long history of investigating government officials, both appointed and elected, even Presidents. The powers of Congress are listed in Article 1 of the Constitution, ahead of the powers of the Executive Branch. The people come first. The president serves at the will of the people. (A cynical ha-ha here is perfectly acceptable). Since the 2020 election began really early it is easy to make an argument that Democrats are just playing to their base whether that is actually the case or not. After all that is what the Republicans do every day. 

Trump is doing two things at once, surprise, surprise. He definitely has political motives. But he also is making a constitutional argument based on some imaginary document that only exists in his mind, backed up by a legal opinion that was never voted into law, filed on an obscure piece of paper somewhere in the Justice Department. He is arguing that Congress should not have the powers that they have, that they should not have been able to investigate or impeach Nixon, and that the executive has absolute immunity from investigation and from indictment. He argues that Congress cannot impeach a President. This is a power grab.

These House investigations are not important because they might help Democrats get elected in 2020 and everyone who is paying attention knows that. These struggles between Democrats on one side and the President, the Department of Justice (not a branch of government) and the Republicans in Congress on the other side are about the distribution of power in our government, who has it, how much power each branch or agency has, and what that power allows, or requires, them to do. If Trump wins he will change the balance of powers in our government forever, and that will change the entire design of our constitutional government (rewritten by a man who doesn’t even like to read).

Trump, for his own personal reasons, wants an executive branch that consists of an all-powerful executive backed by a DOJ that makes a president basically above all the laws of the land, including those described in the Constitution or devolved through tradition. A president could not be checked by any other branch of government, or the DOJ, or any political action by voters – untouchable, defined in a whole new way. 

Why does DT want all this power? Since we can’t see the evidence in the Mueller report, or even the many redacted sections of the Mueller report, and we can’t hear anyone testify in Congress for the most part we can only guess about the reasons. Perhaps the liar-in-chief who seems to have a lot of nearly criminal or actually criminal baggage has so much to hide that he doesn’t mind changing the whole balance of power so that he can operate unchecked by anyone. 

He says he wants to make the Presidency more powerful because that will benefit future presidents. Donald Trump does not do things for others. He is not an altruistic type of guy. If he is fighting for an all-powerful executive branch he is doing it for himself. As long as he is president he cannot be indicted. Perhaps he actually does want to be president-for-life also, which would not only change the powers as defined in the Constitution, it would signal the end of our Democracy/Republic. Our Congress would exist then only for purposes of making a show of democracy. The grand experiment of our forefathers would be finished. Historical evidence suggests that democracies do not have a long shelf life, perhaps about 250 years (which is about where we are right now) but we all felt that our democracy would be able to beat the odds, which are based on only a few examples.

Why don’t the Republicans protect the documents they are sworn to protect and defend? The Republicans are playing their own game but since Trump will get them where they want to go they are along for the ride. The Republicans seems to be involved in their own rewrite of our United States government. They are possibly trying to resurrect the CSA, only this time it will be the Conservative States of American, rather than the Confederate States of America. But in their hearts it will finally be victory in a war that never ended, that just simmered along underground, like a fire that smolders for decades and then flares once again into a conflagration. America will live according to Conservative values or else. America will be a born-again Christian nation, or else. I don’t know if Trump is with the Republicans on this or just going along with them for the ride; two riders who both think they are driving. What could go wrong with that?

We the people have to think very carefully about what we want. Are we going to abandon the US Constitution written by our forefathers and follow the US Constitution as rewritten by Trump and the Republicans. You may be pretty cynical about our government already, but are these the changes you want to make? You may think that if the Republicans are so good for the economy and so tough on foreign leaders that perhaps we will like the changes they will make. Look it up, Republicans are not that great for the economy. They have run up huge deficits in this administration, and both the Great Depression and the recent Great Recession followed Republican administrations. And Republicans love war. 

Do you really want an imperial presidency? Don McGahn not testifying before Congress may not sound like a big deal, but it is. The future of our American democracy depends on upholding the powers of Congress, including the House of Representatives.

SEO and the View from the Cheap Seats

Purchased by Nancy Brisson (me) from Shutterstock

SEO and the View from the Cheap Seats

Don’t expect to get much love from using SEO if you are a writer, especially if you are trying to make your voice heard about politics from somewhere up in the cheap seats. Supposedly, if you follow the SEO guidelines, algorithms will be able to improve your position in the search engine search-results-line-up that matches your key words. Your site will rise to the top like cream on milk back in the day.

If you are offering a product or a service in a store-front type of website where visitors can add purchases to their cart and checkout then you and your design staff can invent new creative ways to find a spot in the top ten, but spending dollars will have to be part of your strategy, unless your site goes viral which is somewhat unlikely. Searches that allow consumers to look for businesses “near me” offer many more chances for businesses to be discovered by local consumers.

All bets are off if you are a writer, or anyone who is creating internet content but not selling goods and/or services. SEO becomes rather irrelevant for content writers and it will be almost impossible to move to the top of the results in a key word search. If you write about politics as I do, you will be buried so deep in the pack of a trending key-word-search that few will have the stamina to page through multiple pages of search results to find you. You will have to try to get some clout by getting published in highly visible media sources or get yourself hired by some media outlet to be a contributor, also a long shot if you don’t have any degrees in journalism. 

For example I recently used the key words “women’s rights and #WomensRights. A Google search of this key phrase turned up 13 billion entries. Although search results give the most recent material first, posts in popular media outlets can take up several pages in the search-results-line-up. Regardless of how well you adhere to SEO guidelines you will never get close to the top of such a search. You cannot expect to be noticed and if you are noticed it will most likely just be a fluke.

Then there is the algorithm to measure “readability”. Perhaps I am a bad writer, although I don’t think so. Would getting a high readability score prove my writing skills are excellent. Again, I don’t think so. The SEO algorithm doesn’t seem to like prose – you know, well-fleshed out paragraphs following a logical argument to a reasonable conclusion. My recent article The Snowflake Games scored in the red on readability (bad). Perhaps that one was a bit wordy and focused on a limited audience (the media). But my fairly compact article Alabama and Melinda Gates was also scored with a red (no good) grade. So we are not dealing with an algorithm that judges quality of writing here; that responds to the set of complex factors that determine what qualifies as good writing. In other words the characteristics of good writing may be too abstract to conform to the current state-of-the art in AI algorithms. In fact the only article I have written recently that got a green rating for good readability is not an article at all; it is basically a meme, a list, Helicopter Love: Notice Me: Me, Me, Me.   

It bears repeating – SEO does not, apparently, care for prose. It is designed to help businesses, not writers. If you are a straight-up journalist I suppose an SEO algorithm can be designed to incorporate the usual structure for news writers and can count links and factual statements (maybe), but I would not think that writing to a formula would encourage much creativity. If you write opinion articles SEO has few structural formalities to rely on.

Advice may come your way that tells you that podcasts are popular right now, or You Tube presentations – so you might want to change to a new format. But what if don’t care to use these formats. What if you want to write – to be recognized and listened to you for your writing, either your opinions or your journalism? Let me say this one more time, SEO algorithms are not designed for writers. You will have to find creative ways to attract attention rather than trust AI to see you at all way up there in your cheap seats, even if you think you are frantically waving. You have something to add to the public dialogue and you must jump through SEO hoops but you know you don’t fit the design. If we all must conform with SEO formulas to get noticed there should be new algorithms for various categories of internet content, especially for prose. (What must poets contend with?) 

Alabama and Melinda Gates

From a Google Image Search – Wired

It could be a coincidence that I began reading Melinda Gate’s book The Moment of Lift while Alabama men were busily using bogus science to break an American law that has given women control over their own bodies for the past 40 years, but I think other forces might have been in motion in the universe. The reproductive rights that American women won in the 1960’s and 1970’s gave the United States a reputation for being one of the most enlightened places in the world for women and girls. Both contraception and the right to an abortion did as much to open up higher education and personal wealth to American women as World War II did to open up factories, office jobs, and family security.

I was there when it happened. I came from a poor family. My mom had eight children, probably at least four more than we could afford. My mom did not want to be a working mother. She was shy and nervous and suffered from low self-esteem. She was a good mom. All the kids in the neighborhood liked to hang out at our house. Several working mothers trusted her enough to pay her to look after their babies and in this way she contributed to the family income without having to, as she put it, “work out (of the home)” 

But I was embarrassed when my mom got pregnant for the eighth time. I knew the economies we already had to make in our household, the old cars held together with bubble gum and bobby pins, the day old bread, the cans of unlabeled food cheap at the supermarket that made dining a sometimes disappointing mystery, the struggle to shoe us all, the clothing contributed by neighbors. It wasn’t nice of me to react in this way but I was a young teen and it was tough to hold it in.

Melinda Gates, pregnant with the Gate’s first child, on the way back from a trip to China, told Bill Gates that she did not plan to keep working after she had the baby. Of course, as she reminded her husband, they were fortunate because they did not need her income. This is the way women were raised. If you had children you should stay home with them. It didn’t take Melinda Gates long to change her mind. At first she did not identify as a feminist, now she describes herself as “an ardent feminist” and she has earned the props to back it up.

She describes being a feminist in this way, “being a feminist means believing that every woman should be able to use her voice and pursue her potential, and that women and men should all work together to take down the barriers and end the biases that still hold women back.” Melinda Gates, a devout Catholic does not speak up much for abortion rights, which would be hard to reconcile with her faith but she doesn’t speak up against them either. She has invested time and money using the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation set up in 2000 to make sure that women everywhere have access to contraception.

After a trip to Africa Melinda discovered that millions of children around the world are dying because “they are poor and we weren’t hearing about it because they were poor.” This led the foundation to invest in vaccines and delivery systems. At vaccination centers Melinda met women who had walked long distances to get their children’s shots but also their own shots, an injection of long-acting birth control so that they could plan their families.

“Increasingly on my trips, no matter what their purpose, I began to hear and see the need for contraceptives. I visited communities where every mother had lost a child and everyone knew a mother who had died in childbirth. I met more mothers who were desperate not to get pregnant because they couldn’t take care of the kids they already had. I began to understand why, even though I wasn’t there to talk about contraceptives women kept bringing them up anyway.”

She continues, “[w]hen women in developing countries space their births by at least three years, each baby is almost twice as likely to survive their first year –and 35 percent more likely to see their fifth birthday.” She tell us about a long-running public health study dating from the 1970’s. Half the families in villages in Bangladesh were given contraceptives and the other half were not. Twenty years later, the benefits accrued to the half on contraceptives; mothers were healthier, children were better nourished, families had more wealth, women had higher wages, sons and daughters had better schooling.

Melinda Gates does not only discuss reproductive rights in her book. She goes on to discuss schooling and equal pay for women, but she also talks about what is happening in America right now. “It’s a mark of a backward society –or a society moving backward—when decisions are made for women by men. That’s what is happening right now in the US.” 

She tells us that if the policies of this administration are successful “more than a million low-income women who now rely on Title X funding to get contraceptive services or cancer screenings or annual exams from Planned Parenthood will lose their healthcare provider.” And she also tell us this, “for women outside the United States, the administration has proposed cutting its contribution for international family planning in half and cutting its contributions to the UN Population Fund to zero.” 

“The administration also proposed eliminating the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, which would end a crucial supply of contraceptives for teens who need them.”

Reading The Moment of Liftby Melinda Gates on the very days when a law outlawing abortion is being sent to the governor of Alabama for her signature seems to argue for the possibility of “divine intervention”. The opponents of abortion feel that the Supreme Court is ripe to overturn Roe v Wade and they are making their moves, hoping the case which will assuredly be filed against this unconstitutional law will make it to the Supreme Court and that the Supreme Court will make abortion illegal in America. 

Backwards, backwards. I don’t believe women will go there for long. These same men and women who oppose abortion also oppose contraception. If they win on the abortion issue, contraception could well be their next target. And women around the world who are just beginning to have the tools to fight the oppression of women and how it affects their families, and the woes of poverty for their children, whether these barriers arose from tradition or malign intent, or religion, will go down with us.

The Snowflake Games

From a Google Image Search – Anthony Herrara Designs – Wired

The Snowflake Games

My first premise is that we the people learn about what is happening in Washington, DC mostly from the media. My next premise is that if the press doesn’t think a story is important, the people won’t either. My conclusion drawn from these premises is that if we end up with Donald Trump in the “oval” for four more years, the press and it’s insistence on both-sides-ism will be to blame.

We seem to have three big domestic issues getting attention in the press right now. We have the 2020 election, business as usual with the press in election mode. We have the media unloading on the Democrats for concentrating on investigations of Trump’s misdeeds/possible treasons rather than on policy. Then we have the media’s reports about Trump’s refusal to cooperate with the House investigations.

Elections First?

That all seems to reflect actual events until you look a bit closer. Elections are always given top priority in the political press. But right now, if we don’t want to have four more years of Trump, we have to focus on the “who’s the boss” struggle in Washington. Yes the President is the “boss”, but not in the sense of a CEO of a corporation. His job is to represent all of the American people fairly and wisely, but this President only represents himself (which happens to coincide with the goals of the Republican Party – sort of). 

Congress passes laws but Congress also acts as a check on the power of the executive (President). Usually the Justice Department could be counted on to weigh in against excessive use of executive power also, but not in this case. Trump owns the DOJ. These things don’t make for “sexy” stories but they are vitally important to the health of our democracy.

Trump, as we all know, hates the Democrats, not just the ones in Congress, but all of them. Donald is an “either you’re on the bus or off the bus” kind of leader. You either support all he says and does, his every utterance and act, or you become the enemy. When Donald sees an enemy he sees only one strategy, wreak vengeance until you destroy all opposition. There are never two sides to an issue, there is no nuance. There is what Donald thinks and that is the only right way to think. (We see him turning on his own guy, John Bolton, because events in Venezuela did not turn out his way. And he’s not even a Democrat.) 

Once you are on the Trump enemies list he will do or say anything to beat up on any one on the list even if, as in this case, his enemy is an entire political party, the Democratic Party. The only problem is that this party represents over 50% of the American people which means that he is also at war with the majority of Americans – a slim majority, but over 50% is still a pretty big number. 

How can we run a fair election given our current circumstances? We are pretty sure that Trump will do everything he can to rig the election in his favor. We are pretty sure that he will count on the Russians to help him win even if he can’t communicate with them. They know the drill by now. We are pretty sure that he will pile- drive sincere candidates into the ground and eliminate them one-by-one.

Everyone expects Democrats to perform the miracle of beating a bully without breaking their pearls. We cannot resort to the street-fighter tactics Trump uses because the media will pillory the Democrats who at least try to keep a sense of ethics in governance. I hate the idea of having a very decent slate of Democrats having to face this piece of inauthentic ego-driven criminality while we pretend we are watching a real election.

The Press Determines What’s Trending and Also Gets the Blame

How should the press cover this ludicrous sham of an election? The American people need to understand all the ways that this election is anything but a fair and free election. They need all of the outlets of our media that are still honest to explain all of the ways this elections could be rigged, and to keep explaining them in fact-based and persuasive detail because Fox is not objective and it is lying on behalf of Trump. Incumbents don’t even need the kinds of help this President is likely to get in the election.  

But then the press will not look objective and the press is supposed to be objective, which is where both-sides-ism comes from. However, in the case where the foundations of our democracy/republic are at stake, an objective press will not serve to inform the people so that they can have a real stake in the outcome of the battle to save our Constitutional government. We will be unable to stave off the campaign to change the balance of power in America by making the executive branch too powerful. In this case, being objective means giving the people the real facts, being a counterpoint to Fox. 

Trump has been beating down the honest press. The opinion page of The New York Times is a reflection of the intimidation our press has been subjected to. Trump played on the desire of the Times to act objectively and kept accusing the NYT of being unfair to him. If you follow the opinion page then you are aware of changes, fewer articles about what is going on in Washington, more articles from contributors who are not permanent writers paid by the paper. They are good articles but they diffuse the political energy which should be laser focused on unseating Trump. Perhaps this is about economics, the press is challenged in the days of the internet, but I don’t think that is the whole story. Perhaps it is existential. If we lose a free press in the bargain that will make a Trump victory even worse. But the press is on the front lines here and avoidance will also have consequences.

If the press doesn’t think an issue is important then the people don’t either. So, on TV politics programs when pundits are always quoting polls which say the American people do not see the President’s power grab as an important issue, perhaps they are just insuring that will continue to be the case. Even on a channel that supposedly leans left the message I hear is that the Dems are not responding to the will of the people when they place Trump’s overreach at the center of their attentions. Pundits pound the Dems for not concentrating on policy, although they know that Dem bills that pass the House have nowhere to go. They will never see the light of day in the Senate.

The message that the role of the executive branch in American politics could change forever is not getting through because people are not being told the truth, nor is the issue getting the proper weight in the press. But Fox is downplaying this struggle, saying “poor Trump”, and encouraging people to call Democrats “snowflakes” as if they were feather-weights trying to take on a deadly force, which, for all appearances, seems to be the case. 

Turning a serious constitutional war into “the snowflake games” will almost guarantee that Trump wins in 2020 and that the Democratic Party will die a slow death. It guarantees that we will redefine the US government according to right-wing principles and that we the people will gradually learn what a terrible bargain we have been sold. I am sorry to say to the liberal press that for now this is on you. I will blame you for a Trump win in 2020 and for all the decay of our democracy/republic which follows.