Scraping the Bottom

I don’t have to apologize for a political blog this time.  Everyone is talking about the ‘debate’.  Some pub in Vancouver promoted the event (like a prizefight complete with Don King) and expected 75 people to show up.  Four hundred came.

We live in the forest in another country and we still watched…along with people in Ethiopia and Chile and Mozambique.  They reported that over 100 million watched the debate and I am sure that is an underestimate.  

I think they just counted the ‘Mericans, when they reported that.  Hell, they were even quoting people in Sierra Leonne and the Ivory Coast!  

But that is the ‘spectacle’ that has become this presidential election.  Sad.  Weird. Unprecedented and so incredibly ‘Merican.  Celebrity Politicians!

In some way, I suppose, we should be glad.  The electorate is engaged.  There will be a turnout…likely a modern record turnout.  That’s a good thing for a democracy.

But maybe they WON’T turn out.  That, too, might happen.  So many Republicans are so completely disgusted at their nominee that many will NOT vote so it may SEEM like voter ambivalence (if there is a low turnout) but NOT voting has always been more of a protest than lethargy.  It is NOT necessarily ambivalence.

Everyone knows when an election is being held and the majority everywhere clearly don’t like their choices most of the time so many simply do not vote. In 2008 the Canadian Conservatives got only 37.6 per cent of the votes cast by only 59 per cent of those eligible who actually voted.  No one liked anyone in that case.  Bluntly put: we don’t like career politicians….we just don’t.

And so it may be in the US this time around.

But this time I think they will vote.  The choice is SOOOOO bad, it will prompt voting.

I, frankly, thought Clinton wiped the floor with Trump.  She nailed him and, where she may have missed a nail or two, he filled in with his own self-crucifixion.  “That’s called doing business” was his response to his ‘bottom feeding’ after the 2007/08 financial crash.  Even Wall Street winced at that.

But this is NOT about the Donald or the Hillary.  You have had that from smarter people than me.  And it is NOT about democracy or the sham, lies and crap that go with it either.

This is about something very much smaller.  This blog is about the superficiality of –not only the so-called debates — but the spectacle, made-for-TV nature of the serious business that is managing the United States.  The job itself, has been sullied, demeaned and made into a reality-cum-celebrity show.

My first response – had I been in Hillary’s shoes – would have been humiliation and embarrassment.  ‘Surely, after all these years and all that I have done, right or wrong, I should not have to stoop to this!’

Even the announcer on the website I was watching before the almost-a-sitcom-show began said, “The Trump team is already celebrating.  That they have actually come this far, to this elevated stage is a major accomplishment for them!”  

It was notable because it was so true.  Trump should never have gotten past the doorman.

And, why do I say all this….?  Well, as a Canadian, I am pleased that we threw Harper as far into oblivion as we could — far short of where he will eventually end up, I am sure.  But then we went with a ‘pretty boy’.  Just-in has no experience.  He has not got ‘chops’.  He is still ‘just a celebrity’. Like a Kardashian.  Lots of show.  Not much ‘go’.  Not yet, anyway.

To be fair, it was enough that he put a nice Canadian face on what was previously a mean-spirited, haughty, arrogant, paranoid official position (Harper).  But image only goes so far.  He has to make some really good moves.  And he already dropped the ball on site C (Peace River).  He’s good looking but, so far, that’s all he has shown.

And that is the point.  That is what I am saying.  Have we become so shallow that all you have to do is look good, be rich, have a trophy wife or talk dirty?  Have we all become so vulgar, base and coarse that not only our movies and entertainment is gutter-level but so — NOW — are our politicians?

I suppose I shouldn’t complain.  If we all are really that stupid and primitive, I may have a chance at being an elected politician after all.

 

de Harvest Lunch

Some of the folks out here decided to host a harvest lunch to celebrate the bounty the summer yields.  They invited the whole community to the event.  Sal went.  I didn’t.

There is no question – I am enjoying my own company more and more and it is not because I am getting more interesting.  It’s not me.  It’s them.  I simply don’t ‘get’ large social gatherings. Never did. Not likely to change.  I prefer one on one.

Don’t get me wrong; I love people.  I really do.  Especially the ones I don’t know. And I still like pretty women (though, I forget why).  But I prefer a few rather than a bunch.  Eight people is about it for me.  Sal and I and four others is perfect.  Sal and I and three women plus one guy is even better.  I talk to the guy.  I flirt with the women.  But, with that mix, I can do all that and not get distracted.  It’s an ‘old guy’ thing.

But this is not about me – it’s about the Dutch.

For some odd reason the mail plane has been bringing in a lot of Dutch tourists lately. Last week they had so many they needed two planes!  There were almost ten of them!  And this for an island that has only fifty residents and few, except the postmistress, are ever there to greet them.  What is the draw?

We get tourists, of course.  95% by plane. The odd boater.  Usually only in the summer and usually one or two at a time.  And they have been an eclectic selection.  We’ve had ‘Mericans, ‘Strailians and the ever-present Germans. Germans love the forest.

And the forest loves Germans as much, if not more. Well, the bears do, anyway. 90% of all tourists eaten by bears are Germans who arrive by bus.  It’s a fact.  

But this summer, it has been the Dutch in droves.  And the pilot often takes the tourists on a little jaunt up the hill to see the quaint, rustic buildings and the little two-room school.  It is all part of the ‘package’.

This time they came while the first Harvest Lunch was being held.  About ten Dutch tourists wandered into the old rustic bunkhouse and looked at the 50 or so ‘islanders’ eat lunch and mill about to live music (a saxophonist and a singer – odd combination but somehow fitting the occasion).

Of course, the Dutch were welcomed and they, too, milled about until the pilot had to get them back on schedule.  So, off they strooped slowly (Dutch joke) and the island returned to normal….whatever the hell ‘normal’ is.

As my neighbour, J, often says about life out here: “You can’t make this stuff up!” And, it is THAT  kindastuff’ I would have gone for.  Sorry I missed it.

Training Ground

We have a nurse practioner (90% of a doctor in drug-pushing rights and capable of all the minor in-office surgeries) as well as a full-on doctor who regularly visits our remote island this past year or so.  They are great!  The main reason for this program is that so many of the old hippies are developing issues that it made sense to ‘go to them’ rather than have old hippies miss their appointments or drown at sea trying to canoe in. First rule of the Hippocratic Oath, ‘Do no harm.’

So one of them comes every two weeks.  I usually pick them up in my skiff from the other island and deliver them to this island’s ‘doctor’s office and, by doing so, can claim first appointment.  If someone books ahead of me, I just do the ‘appointment’ with them as we walk up the steep hill to the ‘clinic’.  I am always first.

Lately, they have been taking in young NPs-in training.  These are nurse practitioners that have yet to graduate.  And our remote island is deemed ‘colourful, challenging and real seat-of-the-pants’ doctoring. They think: if the NP can handle the OTG’ers, she can handle just about anything.

And, remember, I am usually first.

I get in the room with the student, A, who makes a point of looking studious while she looks at my chart.  “Do ya need me naked?”

“No.  I don’ think we will have to do any kind of exam.  This is just blood test results.”

“I prefer getting my results naked.”  I start to take off my shirt.

“No!” She says, giving me her stern-nurse look but smiling. “Keep you pants on, dude.”

“Well, I was thinking that maybe we should do a prostate exam, eh?  I mean, you being just a student, eh?  Better get in there and get familiar, right?” 

“Wrong!  No prostate exams today, Mr. Cox.  Not on my watch!  P told me about you!”

“P has never done a prostate exam on me.  That’s how rumours start, you know?  I might now tell everyone in the neighbourhood that P claims to have done a prostate exam on me.  Maybe we should make an honest woman of her?”  I start to undo my pants.

“That’s it!  I am getting P in here, right now.  We are gonna do a psychiatric assessment on you, that’s for sure!”

“Now you’re talkin’…….”

 

 

You asked – part 4

I will continue to reprint Howard until the Trump Deplorables topic is exorcised. Then we will return to regular programming.  Howard is likely to do two or three more on this subject.  Maybe more.  Just be glad you didn’t get hooked on Middle East politics or some weirded out philosopher……that kind of thing is his passion.  This? This is just casual writing….

Deplorables IIIb – Birtherism and Bruce LeVell

by Howard Adelman

In mid-August in the aftermath of the Democratic election that had been so devastating to his campaign, Donald Trump did a reset and appointed the media bomb-thrower, Stephen Bannon, executive chair of Breibert News, as his campaign CEO. In 2012, a year after Barack Obama released his long form birth certificate, Breibert promoted a book claiming that Barack Obama had been born in Kenya. Breibert News was dedicated to usurping and destroying the liberal narrative that Barack Obama had so clearly articulated at the Congressional Black Congress meeting. Breibert News was rooted in blogger journalism which offered an outlet for rage against government, politicians, journalists and Democrats.

These bloggers were not bounded by norms of truth, coherence, consistency or any other recognized norm for protecting the values of truth and integrity. They form the basis for Trump expressing birthism by stating, “Many believe…Instead, conspiracy theories abounded and Breibert News promoted rage rather than reason as a foundation for politics. These people of passion rather than reason constituted the solid core and base of the Trump campaign. This explains in part why Donald Trump kept his link with the birthers and lent support to their position for more than four years after Barack Obama released his long form birth certificate on 27 April 2011 and lent his brand to the belief that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and was an illegitimate president. 23% of Republicans continued to express this view well after Obama tried to put to rest this effort at degitimation.

How can a Trump surrogate defend such blatant untruths as those constituting the birthism movement? In Trump’s version: Hillary started the birther movement. “I stopped it when I forced Obama to release his birth certificate. The people should be grateful”. How can a pencil-mustached Black apologist for Donald Trump, Bruce LeVell, an African-American Georgia businessman and Trump’s executive director of his National Diversity Coalition (NDC), deal with this flagrant violation of integrity and sensitivity? By engaging in flim flam. First the name of the organization.

The National Diversity Coalition (NDC) includes: The African American Economic Justice Organization (AAEJO), Asian Journal, The Chinese American Institute for Empowerment (CAIE), Cornerstone Church of San Diego (6,500), the Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies at Laverne University, the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership at Vanguard University, The Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce, MAAC Project, The National Asian American Coalition, and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. One only needs to read this list and wonder how such an organization that engages in advocacy on behalf of charitable service organizations and educational units in universities dealing with minority issues can have as its Executive Director a surrogate for Trump. The answer, to put it simply, as a representative of one of the above organizations in Daly City told me, is that Donald Trump stole their name.

The name of Bruce LeVell’s organization is really the National Diversity Coalition for Trump financed by the Trump campaign and consisting of a variety of individuals from different ethnic groups. It was organized in April. Bruce LeVell is the Executive Director of an organization that employs two other members of his family. While predominantly Black, the members include individual supporters for Trump from various minority communities and from all across the country: Michael Cohen, Eve Stieglitz and Michael Abramson, Jewish; Sonya Elizabeth, Arab; Narender Redy, Indian; Jo-Ann Chase, Puerto Rican; Kevin Do, Vietnamese; Rabia Kazan and Albert Sirazi, Turkish; Sajid Tarar, Muslim; Joe Perez, Cuban; Lovilla Santiago, Filipino; Dahlys Espriella, Hispanic; Chandhok Singh, Sikh; Carlos Limon, Chris Garcia, Debe Campos-Fleenor, Gloria De Mummey, Mexicans (apparently the largest number of individual members other than Blacks); Lisa Shin and Kun Kim, Korean; Quinn Nii andDavid Tian Wang,  Chinese; Zoya Conover, Russian; Francisco Semiao, Portugese; Christos Marafatsos, Greek; and Angel Boey, Bulgarian.

All, or almost all, are there in an individual capacity. Almost all were flown to Trump Tower in April to form the organization in Trump’s efforts to create a visual impression of wide, even if shallow, support among ethnic minorities in the US. Bruce LeVell is the individual face of an organization that is not a coalition of minority organizations. It is not a coalition in that sense at all. Its member are individuals, not groups. It is an organization conceived and created by Donald Trump this year by recruiting individuals from across the country who come from minority communities and support Donald Trump. As Trump has learned over the years as a crackerjack salesman, one does not need substance; one only needs the wrap and the correct brand.

LeVell told Hallie Jackson of MSNBC in an interview that the “Hillary campaign surrogates, whoever you call it, started this nasty whisper campaign. Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton started this. And unfortunately it perpetuated into this.” When Jackson stopped him and pointed out that the statement was a blatant lie, instead of defending himself when proven to be a liar, he tried deflection and referred to Obama in his Senate campaign in 2004 questioning Alan Keyes right to run in Illinois because he had not been a resident in Illinois, but had just recently moved from Maryland to take up the candidacy of Jack Ryan over a scandal. But whatever the details of that issue, it had nothing to do with birtherism. As Jackson pointed out, birtherism is not a matter of vetting a candidate.

LeVell then shifted ground again and insisted that Trump’s raising the issue of Obama’s birthplace had nothing to do with Obama’s race. When Jackson asked why Trump did not raise the issue of the birthplace of Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, LeVell went back to his starting position and insisted the colour issue came from the Clinton campaign. Finally, in that 16 September interview, LeVell committed the ultimate Trump sin, confessing ignorance and owning up to having made an error. LeVell collapsed intellectually and said that he didn’t know “what was going on when Trump was running or thought about running” for President.

Why are Trump surrogates so determined to lie and obfuscate when defending Trump against charges of racism that focus on the birther issue? The answer is that Trump Two-Two is in a very difficult corner. If he admits the birther issue was wrong, never mind even apologize for it, he would be crucified by a significant part of his core voter support. On the other hand, the birther issue is a front for racism just as the National Diversity Coalition for Trump is a front for multiculturalism. Though 23% of Trump’s supporters may be hard core racists, 53% of Republicans are soft core racists who deny race is relevant, showing in that figure alone how relevant it is. 21% of Democrats say race is no longer relevant as well. That is the group which Trump must enlist in his campaign to marry hard core and soft core racists. Trump strategists have determined that it is better to lie and bully oneself out of the corner than have to do battle on the issue of racism. The birther issue had to be abandoned, not through admission and apology let alone compensation, but by declaring victory.

It does not seem to matter that the issue has provided steam, energy and motivation to the Clinton campaign. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie might declare after Trump Two-Two’s statement that Obama was born in the US, period, that, “The birther issue is a done issue.” But you have to be suffering from mind-blindnesss to fail to recognize that, without Trump accepting responsibility, without acknowledging his leadership role in perpetuating a lie, without apologizing, and without being sensitive to the feelings of the vast majority of Black voters, the issue will not go away. Why doesn’t Trump really care?

Clinton has never explicitly branded Trump a racist. Her supporters have..

Val Deming, former Orlando police chief running for Congress in Florida: “He’s a hater. He’s a bigot and he’s racist.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.): “We will not elect a chief bigot of the United States of America.”

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.): “Donald Trump is nothing more than a two-bit racial arsonist.”

As Bernie Sanders said in appealing to young voters, “You cannot elect a president of the United States whose campaign is based on bigotry. What they were trying to do, led by Donald Trump, was delegitimize the presidency of the first black president we’ve ever had.” Given this anger, even an apology, assuming that Trump was capable of offering one, would not suffice. Even if it were heartfelt. Even if there was some expression of a desire to make restitution. But that would give lie to his posing as the strong unapologetic leader who holds the fort at all costs.

And the reason, quite aside from Trump Two-Two’s personality and unapologetic bullying and lying, if you examine an important battleground state like Florida where Clinton is only leading Trump by 1% in one recent poll, Trump’s path to victory is not through increasing his support among minority voters. His gestures towards them are just to soften his image in the eyes of white voters. For Hillary has been bleeding white supporters with a college education to Trump so that she now only has the support of a minority of those male voters in Florida. And Trump needs to increase his support among such voters to win. A softer more presidential tone combined with his take-no-prisoners hard stance is the source of his appeal to those voters – not his policies and certainly not his integrity.

“Among Republicans and Republican leaners, 52% said the nation had made the changes needed to give blacks equal rights, while 39% said it had not. On this question, there were only modest differences in the views of white Republican college graduates (60% of whom said the nation has made needed changes) and white non-college Republicans (53%). “

Why? Because of race. Because there is some explicit and a great deal of latent racism among such voters.  That group has become increasingly enlightened towards women. So Trump’s misogyny, now suppressed, used to turn them off. But the fact that he led a birther campaign riddled with racism does not turn away a majority of them. A majority of Republican male voters believe that the country has made enough gestures towards Blacks and wish to end that period of American history. Though the proportion of non-college voters on this issue is higher, the differences are not that significant; both groups get turned off the Democratic campaign when using birthism to charge Trump with racism.

That means that if Trump is to both hold and increase his vote among this group, a real prospect, he merely needs to become a clutch boxer in the racial corner, conceding little, offering few opportunities to strike back, while not coming across as a brutal hockey player on the issue of race. So while it appears that on this issue, Trump has been cornered, it really is the Hillary Clinton Democratic campaign. For Hillary needs the racial issue to mobilize Black voters. But in using the birther issue to do so, she turns off more and more white male voters, including 23% of Democrats who want to remove racism staring in their faces. She is the one in the no-win situation.

That is because this presidential race is at heart about race. Other than LeVell and a few others like Ben Carson, Trump’s minions are overwhelmingly white, quite aside from the unrepresentative faces of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump. Though there are a number of white hosts who have taken on Trump or his surrogates, all the analysts and commentators that I have cited are Black. Further, it is they who occupy the high ground of morality and dogged adherence to truth and reason. The surrogates are defenders and users of irrationality. The old stereotypes have been inverted. Those driven by passion at the cost of reason have been overwhelmingly white. Those most upholding enlightenment values have been disproportionately Black.

So America now faces a choice, not simply in having a Black president, but in adopting liberal and enlightenment values and conceding that the leadership in this area is largely coming from the Black community. But Hillary already has them in her pocket. The Clinton campaign is stymied on how to counterpunch to win back more of these college-educated white males without alienating Black voters who she needs to mobilize to turn out and vote. That is why she, like the Republican contenders who ran against Donald Trump, have been put off their game. The Tea Party Conservatives succeeded in their purism in making the Republican Party ripe for a takeover as the party lost all disciplinary power. The Tea Party Conservatives thrived on protest and made room for the most protestant candidate of all protesting against the whole edifice of Washington built on order and institutions. The Tea Party constituted the shock troops that prepared the Republican Part for a takeover based on a strong self-interested individualist who used the defeat of the ruling whites to lead a campaign to take back the country in their name. Parochialism had to be his trump card rather than universalism. Hence the birther issue as the main initial highway to accomplishing his takeover first of the Republican Party and then of America.

 

 

You asked for it……………

“Feel totally free to circulate any of my blogs with my name.”

The Deplorables I – Jeffrey Lord by

Howard Adelman

When I listen to the sycophants, the apologists, the surrogates, the spokespersons for Trump Two-Two, I want to scream – not on behalf of Hillary Clinton, but on behalf of reason, on behalf of enlightenment values, on behalf of truth. Never mind Trump. His surrogates – Jeffrey Lord, Kayleigh McEnany, Corey Lewandowski, Kellyanne Conway, Andy Dean, Katrina Pierson, Bruce Lavell, Darrell Scott, Mark Burns, Scottie Nell Hughes, Omarosa Manigault,– are deplorable in the true sense of the word. They deserve our strong condemnation. Not simply for the man they are defending, not simply for the points they are making, but for their disrespect for the rules of the use of rational language.

I am not talking about the birthers and believers that the world is flat and that the destruction of the Twin Towers was a Zionist conspiracy. I am not talking about the David Dukes, the racists or the defenders of the Second Amendment who seem willing to take up arms in the name of an invented version of part of the American constitution. These are far beyond being deplorable. I am referring to those Trump surrogates who belong to the chattering classes, but seem to be incapable of mounting a rational and evidence-based argument. It is a disgrace. It is shameful. I cannot believe this goes down the line and deep into the Republican Party, but listening to these surrogates makes me suspect that the party has been deeply infected with irrationality and may not be able to be salvaged this time no matter who wins or loses the election. That is lamentable, but it is also inexcusable. The long term history of a once noble party is being sacrificed on the alter of irrationality. Political contests have been transformed into a blood sport in which illogic and the misuse of language have been substituted for rational debate.

This is truly dreadful and atrocious, unpardonable and dishonourable. The situation is deplorable in all the senses of the word. The leading surrogates who contribute to this folly are even more deplorable than the bullying, blowhard, lying Trump Two-Two. For he is a product of business and a vehicle for entertainment. The surrogates, on the other hand, claim and represent themselves of worthy of belonging to a league which requires rational discourse and argument. But they lack any one of its central characteristics.

The worst of it all is that these surrogates are usually set off against, not simply Hillary Clinton surrogates, but against quite brilliant independent analysts like Marc Lamont Hill, Joy-Ann Reid and Angela Rye (who both said to Corey Lewandowski when he put down President Obama and demanded that Obama release his Harvard transcripts –as if this bore any equivalence with releasing tax returns – “You are so out of line right now. Tell your candidate to release his tax returns. Two words: Tax return” and each insisted that “In this moment, I’m going to Beyoncé you: ‘Boy bye.’” Rye added, “You’re so out of line right now.”) Anthony Kapel “Van” Jones (Trump branded him “Mad Max America”) and my personal favourite, Charles Blow, can be added to this list. All are constantly forced to participate in a sham debate in which the proponents of irrationality are given half the media time and these journalists are reduced to taking on the irrationality of their opponents rather than the substantive policies at stake. (As an aside, the Beyoncé lyric comes from her song “Sorry” in which a woman dismisses her husband’s excuses for his affair.)

In accusing them of being deplorable, I am not asserting that the Trump surrogates are ignorant. They have mastered their notes and their rhetorical skills and exhibit them in different ways. I am not accusing them of being stupid. Just defenders and proponents of irrationality even as they demonstrate different degrees of nimbleness in their use of sophistry.

Let me illustrate with reference to each of the surrogates in turn taking on one problem at a time. Perhaps Jeffrey Lord is the person I have seen and listened to the most as a Trump surrogate. With his white hair, whimsical smile and laid back engagement in the debates, he offers himself as a serious defender of Trump Two-Two. He also has a long political pedigree having served in high office in the Reagan administration. There he must have honed his skills in defending Reagan trickle-down economics while burying fiscal conservatism in a bed of debt as Reagan tripled the gross federal debt from $900 billion to $2.7 trillion. Examine Jeffrey’s defence of Donald Trump’s refusal to make his tax returns public.

Arguments for releasing the tax returns are as follows:

  • It is an established tradition going back to Richard Nixon
  • It is an expectation of the voters
  • It will provide evidence about whether or not he has been truthful about his charitable giving
  • It may provide evidence or disproof of the suspicions of many and the evidence of a few that during the last decade, Trump’s businesses depend more and more on infusions of capital from Russian oligarchs connected with Putin and partners associated with disreputable dictators around the world
  • Most of all, it will provide evidence about whether he pays his fair share of taxes in any reasonable definition of fairness.

Arguments for not releasing the tax returns are as follows:

  • They are under audit and any taxpayer has the right to mitigate his tax exposure, an exposure that can be exacerbated by release of one’s financial situation
  • The tax returns provide clues to how Trump operates his various businesses that may expose his positions unfairly to competitors
  • The release of the information will provide an enormous distraction from the policy issues as reams of people try to mine the returns in the interest of exposing embarrassments. “He’s got a 12,000-page tax return that would create financial auditors out of every person in the country asking questions that would detract from his father’s main message.”
  • Unlike other presidential candidates who were political pros, Donald Trump comes from the business world and his returns, as Donald Trump Jr. explained, amount to 12,000 pages in itself creating an enormous fund for troublemaking.
  • This is not a burning issue for the public.

What are the arguments offered in refutation of the claims of the opponents and in support of the Trump campaign position? Against the argument that this is a precedent going back to Richard Nixon, Jeffrey Lord argues that there have been 36 presidents who never made their tax returns public. What is omitted is that these constitute 36 of 43 presidents and 35 served prior to Richard Nixon. Many of these served prior to Abraham Lincoln when there were no personal income tax returns to make public. In any case, the argument does not take on the establishment and observance of a well established tradition over the last 7 presidents, excluding Gerald Ford who was not an elected president, but nevertheless released a summary of his tax returns though not the entire income tax return. In other words, it is a tradition that extends over one-third of the period in which there have been income tax returns.

Jeffrey Lord doe not argue against the claim that there is a 47-year-old tradition. Jeffrey Lord does not argue that it is an illegitimate tradition. He demeans the tradition by citing irrelevancies to the case – what presidents before Richard Nixon did. He does not note that Richard Nixon resisted releasing his returns but was forced to do so. This is, of course, the well known red herring form of argument, that is an argument which is not an argument, but a distraction that is irrelevant and simply attempts to draw attention away from the issue.

Jeffrey could have argued that the appeal to tradition of the Democrats was itself a red herring since it does not follow that because the tradition had been established for 47 years that this alone made it a valid tradition to continue. That is itself is a form of red herring argument, but one suspects that if Jeffrey opened that can of worms he would have had to engage in the argument about whether the tradition was a useful one well worth perpetuating for a number of reasons. So distraction rather than engagement seems the preferred course of avoiding a real dialogue.

How does Jeffrey Lord and Trump’s other surrogates handle the argument that the voters expect tax releases to be released? The answer – it is not a burning issue for voters. But the claim was not made that it was a burning issue, only that is was an issue for a large majority of voters overall (74%) and even a majority of Republican voters (62%). The surrogates, however, are probably right that this isn’t a burning issue. In a small sampling in Virginia, the voters were all bothered by Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, but 17 of those voters were more troubled by Hillary’s emails while 11 who were more bothered by Trump’s refusal to release his tax information. Here again, as in the above case, Jeffrey Lord could have insisted that the Democratic case, even the case for the majority of voters, was itself a kind of red herring by concluding that since something is believed in widely does not make it valid. But again the argument is not engaged for the same reasons the first argument was not – because it would mean probing the merits of the practice whether or not a majority believed in it or not. Instead, the counter argument reverted to obfuscation and distraction by the use of the word “burning”.

This is, of course, as irrelevant as the first defence. Issues that are not “burning” in the public mind – the state of Korea’s nuclear arsenal is an example of one far less burning than the issue of release of incomes tax filings – but that does not make it an invalid subject for debate. An issue does not have to be a hot one searing the mind of the public and igniting their fiery wrath to demand attention. It may be only a smouldering rather than a red-hot torrid item, but the stonewalling and sidestepping and engagement in distraction present the possibility of making it a burning issue.

What about the issue of getting to the truth value of Donald Trump’s claims to have given millions upon millions to charity and the assertion that the tax returns would be able to confirm the claim or reveal it as false? Further, even releasing only this part of the tax return could put to rest the suspicion that the claim is an invention, a fabrication, a lie, an inquiry given steam by the evidence that the Trump Foundation had not received a dime of Donald Trump’s personal money since 2007 and that the money it receives has been donated to the foundation by others and then donated in the name of Trump without disclosing the original contributor. However, there is other evidence that in 2009 Trump donated almost a million dollars to charity, $100,000 of that sum ironically to the Clinton Foundation which he subsequently insisted needed to be investigated.

An investigation of Trump’s own foundation was initiated by Eric T. Schneiderman, the Attorney General of New York, for making an illegal $25,000 donation to a campaign group affiliated with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2013 when she indicated that she was considering joining Schneiderman’s fraud case against Trump University. This is not just an impression of illegality. Non-profits are legally forbidden from contributing to political campaigns.

How did Jeffrey respond? He called Scheiderman a “sleaze” on CNN’s OutFront. This is another kind of red herring illogic, usually called an ad hominem argument in which you attack and insult the messenger instead of dealing with the merits of the claim. It is relevant that Schneiderman is a Democrat, supports Hillary Clinton and may even sit on one of her campaign committees. This creates a perception of conflict of interest between his political affiliation and responsibilities as an Attorney General. But it is incumbent on the accuser to demonstrate the conflict of interest, especially in America where senior civil servants are usually political partisans even when not elected, which they often are.

A perceived conflict of interest takes place when an individual can derive personal, usually financial, benefit from actions taken in their professional capacity. Though Schneiderman’s political beliefs would benefit, there is no evidence or even suggestion that there would be repercussions on his pocket book. Further, if conflict of interest was defined as the tension between one’s political conviction and one’s professional responsibility, then the whole American political system would have to be shut down.

What about the claim that the Trump organization receives capital from Putin’s oligarch friends and other authoritarian leaders across the world that will lead to a conflict of interest problem between Trump’s motivation to protect his corporate interests and the interests of the United States of America? Newsweek in its exposé never offered any evidence that any of these activities were illegal, though one Virginia voter named Beverly said that, “I’m concerned what Trump’s hiding in there. There may be business dealings, illegal business dealings. He’s really good at sweeping things out, and I really think he’s hiding something.” Newsweek did point out the conflict of interests this situation would create between Trump’s personal economic interest and that of the United States. That is a real conflict of interest for an individual with multiple financial interests any one of which could corrupt the motives or professional decision-making of the individual if that individual were to gain high office.

Jeff wrote an article (“The Liberal Media Unhinged” 13 August 2016 for mracNewsbusters) in which he derided The New York Times, The Washington Post and the “liberal” media in general for using ad hominem arguments and personal insults aimed at Donald Trump that give “’permission from a whole segment of America’s political and liberal media class’ to kooks out there to do whatever – no matter how dangerous, despicable or out of bounds – to Donald Trump.” In other words, it is not Trump Two-Two that engages in the use of insults and ad hominem arguments and raises the possibility of violence against Hillary Clinton, but the liberal press who do so against Donald Trump and give license to commit violence against Trump Two-Two. This is another red herring – accusing one’s opponent of the failings you yourself seem so transparently to demonstrate through hyperbole and the use of flagrantly false analogies.

I will only make two further points about this patently silly argument. The first is the use of the adjective or noun “liberal”. Michael Brenner in a recent article on the distortions imposed on our language took as his first case the denigration of the term “liberal.” Barack Obama in his address last evening to the CBC, not the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation but the Congressional Black Caucus and supporters of its foundation, articulately spelled out what it means to be liberal, though it is noteworthy that he avoided the term since it has been so hi-jacked by neo-liberals at the same time as it has been so denigrated that he had to concentrate on its substance. Liberalism means expansion of voting and political rights, equality of justice, increasing the opportunities for all. For Obama, the essence of liberalism is progress based on these measures of improving society on these and other fronts. Liberalism entails the fairer distribution of wealth and making the promise of equality a reality and not just an aspiration. In its idealism, the collective good is equated with the benefits actually enjoyed by individuals.

One can oppose liberalism in the conviction that these benefits are better achieved by decreasing rather than enhancing the role of government, by insisting that a government dedicated to insisting that the collective good and the individual good are best combined, not when the two are presumed to enjoy a synergistic relationship, but when they are seen as in tension and the government as a purported deliverer of fairness is consistently reduced. That is a reasonable ideological division. But when the term “liberal” is used as a slur, when the term is equated with those who lie and malign by the defenders of Trump Two-Two, who has unarguably made a profession of lying, using ad hominem arguments and insults, one despairs for the cause of reason.  When words are hijacked and deformed by the language Janissaries, when they laud Trump Two-Two for magnificently ripping “the mask of rationality off the liberal media,” we enter the topsy-turvy world of Alice in Wonderland who opined in Lewis Carroll’s magnificent satire that, “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrariwise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” When Jeffrey refers snidely to the liberal devotion to science – which he places in apostrophes – in the climate change debate, we know we are in the world of the chattering class equivalent of the flat earth society.

What about the argument that releasing the tax returns will provide evidence about whether Trump Two-Two pays his fair share of taxes? Jeffrey Lord’s defence: Democrats “will make a problem out of something. Something that could be perfectly ordinary and average, and they will make a problem out of it. This is what politicians do.” The tax returns could be perfectly ordinary, but may not be. And the issue is whether the release of tax returns reveal that which is not ordinary or confirm that nothing untoward was done. But instead of addressing the point of the tradition of releasing tax returns, Lord argues that the release may provide ammunition for his opponents so why release them? Precisely to learn whether the returns do indicate that which is not ordinary.

Critics of Trump Two-Two ask why he cannot release the letter from Internal Revenue requesting an audit of certain years? Why can’t Trump Two-two release his returns before 2007 that are not being audited. Those questions are never answered. Instead, all we hear is deflection based on the use of logically fallacious argumentation.

 

 

The Deplorables – II Kayleigh McEnamy and Racism by

Howard Adelman

Kayleigh may be a deplorable in her use of language and illogic, but she is a very accomplished individual. She is perhaps the most intense defender of Trump and is equipped with a rapid-fire delivery and singularity of purpose. She is most easily pointed out as the slender attractive blond on many CNN panels. She has also been a co-host on CNN’s “The Point”.

Kayleigh has a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. This does not mean, in Canadian terms, that she has a Doctor of Law degree (an LL..D), for a J.D. is most frequently used to designate a professional doctorate required for admissions to post-graduate studies in law. Nevertheless, as Barack Obama demonstrated, it is a significant achievement to win entry into and then graduate from Harvard Law School. Kayleigh also attended Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and obtained a BSFS (a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service) in International Politics, which is an accelerated Master’s degree program. She also studied politics and international relations at Oxford University, not, as one might expect of someone so interested in international affairs, at St. Anthony’s, but at St. Edmund Hall, the oldest hall left from the mediaeval days of Oxford going back to the university’s founding in the thirteenth century.

More importantly than being young and attractive, she is gutsy. Like Angelina Jolie and my cousin’s daughter, she had a preventive mastectomy having been found to be BRCA1 positive. This gene causes those who carry it to have a greatly increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. After she has her first child or two, she plans to have her ovaries removed as well. Even though her hero, Donald Trump, can refer to a media host as “bleeding from her wherever,” that does not entitle a chattering class combatant to refer to Kayleigh as flat-chested. Being a surrogate of Trump Two-Two does not mean you should be treated rudely, insensitively and just plain mean by radio host, Dana Loesch from Glenn Beck’s, “The Blaze.”.

Unlike Jeffrey Lord, Kayleigh’s laugh is bright rather than whimsical. She is more intense that Jeffrey. She is also, perhaps, the smartest but also touchiest and most irrepressible of the Trump surrogates who follow the GMDR dicta: generalize, mock, distract and repeat. Kayleigh on CNN insisted that the accusations that Trump Two-Two is a racist is “gutter politics at its absolute worst.” Tim Kaine, the Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate, had accused Donald Trump of pushing “Klu Klx Klan values.” Kayleigh’s response, using Trump’s preference for exorbitant hyperbole, aoffered her withering description of this as gutter politics at its absolute worst that we have not seen in a presidential election. In contrast, she described a number of instances of Trump’s initiatives in treating Blacks, or African Americans, fairly.

Trump opened his building to the Rainbow Push Coalition. He opened his exclusive Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida to Jews and African Americans. For these actions, he has been praised by Jessie Jackson (at the Rainbow Push 1998 and 1999 annual fund raiser where Trump can be seen next to Jackson) and by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) according to Kayleigh. But the ADL only three weeks after Trump Two-Two announced his candidacy for the presidency, condemned Trump Two-Two’s recent remarks about immigrants as hate speech. “Donald Trump’s hate speech against immigrants is highly inappropriate and we join with the voices of many others around the country who have condemned his offensive remarks.” Abraham H. Foxman, ADL’s National Director, added, “It is time for Trump to stop spreading misinformation and hatred against immigrants, legal and undocumented.”

Kayleigh accused critics of Trump’s racist policies of taking statements out of context and then comparing Trump to Hitler and Stalin. There has been no equivalent abusive language used by the Trump campaign, she argued. Yet in the history of the Trump organization when first accused of racism in their rental practices, Trump spokespeople responded by calling the investigation a “gestapo-like interrogation” using “stormtroopers” (there were five government officers) to enter Trump offices. Yet Kayleigh went on to refer to Hillary Clinton being endorsed by a KKK dragon (Will Quigg, a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan’s California chapter, in March switched his previous September announcement of support from Donald Trump to Clinton), but unlike Trump who initially insisted he did not know who David Duke was and initially refused to reject his endorsement, it was not even necessary for Hillary to question the nefarious intentions of Quigg’s endorsement. It was taken for granted.

Bill Clinton, as Governor of Arkansas, was criticized by Kayleigh for retaining the confederate flag on the front lawn of the state legislature when he was governor. Arkansas observes a Confederate Flag Day along with Arkansas Confederate History and Confederate Memorial Day. Bill Clinton approved a state flag design that carried a star above the word Arkansas as a onetime reference to the Confederacy in a law passed unanimously – including all Republicans – 29-0 in the state Senate, 93-0 in the House. The NAACP representative official in Arkansas, Sharon Pruitt, announced that she viewed the star as an unobjectionable part of the state’s heritage.

While Hillary Clinton praised South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley simply for calling for the Confederate flag to be taken down from the capitol grounds – “It shouldn’t fly there…It shouldn’t fly anywhere,” when it was finally taken down in early February, South Carolina Trump Supporters insisted that they would never forgive Nikki for removing the flag. However, like Clinton, Trump, soon after declaring his run for president, also endorsed taking down the flag, So Kayleigh’s statement was both misleading and wrong.

There is one more point. One way to refer to something is by saying you are not referring to it and then referring to it as you deny you say anything. This enables you to introduce evidence through the back door, especially misleading and erroneous evidence, in a category denied entry at the front door. The back door fallacy is as misleading as ad hominem and red herring arguments.

But the central point is the differentiation between calling someone a racist and saying that Trump engages in racist and discriminatory practices.  Kayleigh insists that Donald Trump does not engage in racist practices. But that does not mean he is not a racist. Before we go there, is it accurate that Trump Two-Two does not engage in any racist actions?

With respect to membership in the Mar-a-Logo Club in Palm Beach, Trump Two-Two himself boasted that, in contrast with the exclusive WASP “other” private club in Palm Beach, “There’s nobody that’s done so much for equality as I have. You take a look at Palm Beach, Florida. I built the Mar-a-Lago Club, totally open to everybody. A club that frankly set a new standard in clubs and a new standard in Palm Beach. And I’ve gotten great credit for it. That is totally open to everybody.” Ignoring the bad grammar, you only have to pay $100,000 to join and $14,000 a year membership fees, quite aside from the costs of food or accommodation ($750 to 3,000 per night). But there is no one who has done so much for equality as Trump Two-Two has. Not Martin Luther King. Not Barack Obama. Trump is on the top of the pile for ensuring equality.

Of course, Trump Two-Two did not mean equality. He rarely means what he says and his boasts are patently false. He meant equality of access in terms of race, religion and ethnicity. In fact, to get his permits and what he wanted, he sued the Palm Beach municipality and accused the municipal authorities of racism and anti-Semitism as the grounds for denying his requested exemption from zoning by-laws with respect to his flag pole greatly exceeding height limits permitted. As an aside, Palm Beach now happens to be 40% Jewish.

But does the Mar-a-Lago Club now advertise itself as one open to all races, religions and ethnicities. “Membership at the club provides the highest privileges and an elite lifestyle reserved for a select few.” Those select few include Blacks, such as Michael Jackson who has stayed there, Diana Ross who has entertained there, and the rapper, Sean Combs “Puff Daddy,” who has been Trump’s guest and cavorted with his models there.

Trump Two-Two boasts, “I took this ultimate place and made it incredible and opened it, essentially, to the people of Palm Beach…You have everybody there. You have people from the Middle East. You have Jewish people. I mean, you have Jewish people having dinner with people from the Middle East. You have Christians. You have old-line WASPs.” So Trump Two-Two only discriminates in favour of the elite and wealthy. That suggests that he is not a racist but just a plutocrat. But the American government sued him for not renting apartments to Blacks.

In July 1972, a black woman applied to rent an apartment in a Trump-managed apartment complex. She was told that there were no one-bedroom apartments available. Very shortly afterwards, a white woman applied for the same type of apartment and was shown two available suites. They were both government agents there to enforce the 1968 Fair Housing Act. The Feds had accumulated evidence that employees coded applications by race – “C” for coloured – and rented the latter apartments in “minority” buildings of the Trump 14,000 apartment collection. The Trump organization was practicing a form of “equal but separate”.  Trump rental agents informed the FBI that only 1% of tenants at Ocean Terrace Apartments (a Black judge) and 0% of tenants at Lincoln Shore Apartments on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn were Black. Minorities were steered to Patio Gardens on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn which was 40% Black.

How did he deal with the accusations? In the usual Trump unapologetic style of going on the offence. He sued the government for $100 million for falsely accusing the Trump organization of discrimination. He launched a media blitz. Of course, he settled the case quietly, agreeing to comply and advertising so, but “without any finding of liability or admission of wrongdoing,” which was his real goal. In his 1987 autobiography, Trump Two-Two wrote. “I’d rather fight than fold, because as soon as you fold once, you get the reputation of being a folder.” But he does fold, but only in a way where he can say that the accusations against him have never been proven in a court of law, a rebuttal that Kayleigh repeats ad nauseum, but another red herring argument of digression, for the facts were established in the agreement of settlement. As she knows, over 99% of such cases ar settled out of court.

As proof of Trump’s racism, one commentator sparring with Kayleigh referred to Donald Trump leading a lynch mob in the quest for the death penalty to be imposed on the Central Park Five to get these four Black and one Hispanic teenager executed.  The five turned out to have been wrongfully convicted in the Central Park rape case, an event that took place in 1989. Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Kharey Wise ranged in age from 14-16 and had been coerced to sign confessions. After serving eleven years, in a chance meeting in prison, the real rapist, Matias Reyes, confessed his responsibility to Kharey Wise who had been the oldest of the five. The confession was subsequently corroborated by a DNA test, a test not introduced at the original trial that would have exonerated any of the boys.  (See Amy Davidson, the 23 June 2104 edition of The New Yorker, “Donald Trump and the Central Park Five.”)

Trump Two-Two had a history with the case. When his first marriage was breaking up and the tabloids were full of stories about his sexual philandering and his mistress who became his second wife, as well as with multiple bankruptcies and business failures, Trump took out a full page ad that asked, “How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits? Criminals must be told, as the headline read, “Civil Liberties End When an Attack on our Safety Begins.” Trump called for bringing back the death penalty. Innocent teenagers were crazed misfits who should be executed, according to Trump Two-Two. He might defend his leadership by saying that it was not motivated by racism, but the history of the lynch mob and 4,000 Blacks hanging from trees and other structures suggests a very different narrative.

Trump never apologized for his leadership of the lynch mob in 1989. And when the government finally gave each of the men a million dollars for each year spent in prison (40 years in total), Trump called the settlement a disgrace. After all, there would have been no need for a settlement if Trump Two-Two’s campaign had been successful, for the boys might have been executed. For Trump, in his grand distracting hyperbole, “it was the heist of the century.”

Donald Trump, in promoting the death penalty for the teenagers and denouncing the settlement for their wrong conviction over a decade later, perhaps expressed more his propensity to use violence in contravention of the law more than racism.  And his language, whether about himself (I am the best, I know the most, no one is better) or others (they are the worst, they are dumb, they are decrepit, they are beasts, they are crazed misfits), not only tend, but openly tries to be excessive. So why does Kayleigh support him? She certainly recognizes this characteristic in him.

“Like many others, I fully expected Trump to back down from his controversial statements as any good, scripted Washington politician would. After all, such brazenness was not permissible in mainstream political discourse. But rather than backing down, Trump pushed forward and the media was incensed. His audacious, unflinching boldness in the face of an onslaught of criticism is a virtue that I would not just come to accept, but also to appreciate and admire, leading me to endorse him before voting ever began.” “Audacious.” “Unflinching.” “Bold.” Trump is actually all of those. He is resolute, determined, single-minded and dogged. But he is also a verbal arsonist and a liar whose language reflects an underlying extremism.

The problem is that Kayleigh plays with the equivocation in language, always implying the positive and ignoring the negative connotations/ These adjectives carry multiple meanings. Audacious not only means a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks, suggesting a daring, fearless and intrepid warrior, but also depicts impudence and impertinence, insolence and presumptuousness. “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.” The statement is so audacious that it ceases to become bold and becomes outrageous. So when he calls Mexicans who cross the border robbers and rapists – though some are undoubtedly good – when he wants to ban all Muslims from immigrating to the US until the security clearances are cleared up, he both feeds and serves as a cover for racism. And when surrogates like Bruce LeVell see no racism in Trump’s Birtherism, is it surprising that most other listeners to his rhetoric see a supporter of structural racism who may have deep propensities for supporting racist practices, as in the efforts to restrict voting in some states under the pretext of fraudulent voting (10 cased in a decade) as well as reinforcing structural racism?

 

 

Deplorables IIIa – Birtherism by Howard Adelman

This blog will say more on the birther issue than you will ever want to know.

The bottom line is that Donald Trump and his surrogates are distorters, deflectors, dissemblers and, most of all, outright liars. Trump Two-Two in an interview with his shill, Sean Hannity, on Fox News on 14 April 2011, when the Donald was being questioned about whether he would run against Barack Obama in the 2012 election, noted, “if I run, I will have to disclose.my…finances.” He never fulfilled that forecast. Yesterday, I wrote about his insistence that he was not and never has been a racist. Yet he engaged in some racist practices and, more importantly, took initiatives to support structural racism. The birther issue discussed in this blog is related to the issue of race because Barack Obama is a Black president whose place of birth and legitimacy to hold high office was repeatedly questioned by Trump Two-Two. On Friday, he broke his vow to no longer discuss the issue. He caved this past Friday, But far too little and far too late.

“”President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”

What is the birther issue and what does it have to do with racism? Birtherism is the claim that a political candidate was not born in the United States. It went beyond a mere political tool used by a rival to a widespread movement with the widespread belief that Barack Obama was not, or may not have been, born in the United States; if he wasn’t born in the US, he would be ineligible to be president of the United States.

Birtherism did not start with Barack Obama. The issue was raised with respect to Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney’s father was born in Mexico, yet served as Governor of Michigan and was himself once a Republican presidential candidate running against Richard Nixon in the 1968 contest when the birther controversy first arose.

Note the American constitution does not require that a presidential candidate be born on American soil, only that the person be a “natural born citizen.” That in itself needs deciphering since one readily asks what an unnatural born citizen could be. But “nature” is not being used in the ordinary sense of the natural world, but in the sense of “regular” and consistent with past practices. Regular means in accordance with American citizenship norms. In an article in The New York Law Journal at the time of George Romney’s bid to be the Republican presidential candidate, the author examining the issue concluded that anyone born to a U.S. parent was a natural American and did not need to be naturalized. And, therefore, was eligible to be president. The authoritative Congressional Research Service concurred. The legal meaning of “natural born citizen” refers not only to anyone born on U.S. soil, but anyone born overseas of at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen. End of story. As George Romney wrote years ago, “I am a natural born citizen. My parents were American citizens. I was a citizen at birth.”

This became clear because John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone and, more pointedly, Ted Cruz was not even born on American controlled territory but in Calgary, Canada on 22 December 1970. His father was not even an American citizen at the time; his mother was. Which would have put him in the same position as Barack Obama even if he had been born in Kenya, which he was not. Obama’s mother was born in Kansas. Ted Cruz was deemed to be a natural born American because his mother too was born in America. Nevertheless, in January in the primary season when Trump Two-Two had already become the frontrunner, he “attacked Ted Cruz over his birth in Canada, saying it raises questions about his presidential eligibility.” Trump was an equal opportunity swinger. But the question of Ted Cruz’s place of birth never became a movement.  Further, though questioned on the law, there was no challenge on factual grounds.

So how did the birth certificate ever become an issue for Barack Obama? Not because it was relevant to his eligibility to run. Not because there was no birth certificate – there was. Why did it continue after President Barack Obama even produced his long form birth certificate and the Republican official in Hawaii authenticated that the certificate was real and that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on 4 August 1961? And it did continue. It did not end because Trump Two-Two claimed he had forced Obama to produce the birth certificate. Trump did not end the issue in 2011. Trump continued to raise the issue and question the authenticity of the birth certificate. “I heard from a very reliable source that the birth certificate was a fraud.”

Did Hillary Clinton or senior personnel in the Clinton campaign initiate the issue in the 2008 run for the presidency against Barack Obama as Trump Two-Two continued to claim? Hillary never raised it, never endorsed it and explicitly condemned even the effort to question Obama as a presidential candidate on the grounds that he did not have American experience in growing up. One connection to the Clinton campaign took place when, in December 2007, a volunteer coordinator in Iowa forwarded another email which was not even about Obama’s place of birth, but about his heritage.

Did Mark Penn, a Democratic pollster and Clinton 2008 strategist, question the President’s birth in a March 2007 memo as Kellyanne Conway tried to argue in defence of the claim that the Clinton campaign in the 2007-08 election first raised the birther issue? Kellyanne insisted that Mark Penn “put President Obama’s citizenship in question when he wrote a famous memo in March of 2007 questioning Obama’s “American roots.” (http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/trump-campaign-manager-birther-clinton-228331) The memo was stupid enough, but it did not mention the legitimacy of Obama’s citizenship. It was not about Obama’s place of birth and eligibility to be president.

Penn offered Clinton bad advice in suggesting the possibility that Hillary raise the issue of Obama’s American experience. Clinton did not take that advice. She not only rejected it, but went on to apologize to Barack for anyone in her campaign raising the issue in the first place. And the issue, to repeat, was not the legitimacy of his place of birth and Obama’s eligibility to run, but whether he had sufficient sense of American having grown up abroad. Clinton told Obama she did not accept the advice and it nowhere made any appearance in the campaign. It was a terrible idea and irrelevant, but it had nothing to do with where Obama was born.

So there is not one iota of evidence that Obama’s birthplace was part of the Clinton campaign when she ran against him. What is the evidence that Trump took the lead in the birther campaign? He was by far the most prominent person to continually raise the issue.  But Donald Trump did so, and did so repeatedly:

March 23, 2011

“Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate. And you know, I wish he would.

April 7, 2011.  Meredith Viera One-on-One with Donald Trump on the To-day Show

“I’ve had very smart people say stay on the China issue, stay on the Saudi Arabia issue, stay on the India issue taking our jobs, stay on the Mexico issue. Get off the birth certificate issue.”

Why don’t you?

“Because, three weeks ago when I started this issue (my italics and bold), I really thought he was born in this country and now I have a much bigger doubt than I ever had before.”

“His grandmother in Kenya said he was born in Kenya and she was there and witnessed the birth.”

[Meredith arguably lost her job and her $11 million dollar contract because she never challenged Trump for perpetuating this fraudulent conspiracy theory for which Trump then accepted leadership.]

April 28 2011

“I don’t make up anything. Let me tell you something. I have done a great service to the American people.

 [CNN has broadcast a series of clips showing Donald Trump questioning Obama’s citizenship in the years Obama released his long-form birth certificate in 2011.
(http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/trump-obama-birther-race-bruce-levell-228293#ixzz4KlmrHb60)
]  Dec. 16 2015

I don’t answer because if I do answer, that’s all people want to talk about. Once I answer the question, they don’t want to talk about the economy…

May 4, 2016

Wolf Blitzer

“The whole birther thing. Where do you stand?

I don’t talk about it anymore because every time I talk about it, it becomes a story, so I don’t want to waste my time. Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther issue. I ended it by forcing Barack Obama to produce his birth certificate.

The birther issue is irrelevant except as an insight into Donald Trump as a fabulist and about his attraction to material produced by conspiracy theorists. The birther issue is a fabrication alleging Hillary Clinton or her associates initiated the issue. The birther issue became a problem for Trump, because of the reality that Donald Trump promoted it. The birther issue remained alive because Trump did not end the issue after Obama produced his long form birth certificate. The issue continued long after because Trump kept raising it. And even when he finally acknowledged it was a lie, he never took responsibility for his role, never apologized, blamed Democrats and took credit himself for its demise when he kept it alive. The performance was disgusting and insulting to Barack Obama and to Black Americans sensitive to efforts over American history to deprive Blacks of their citizenship rights.

Next: A Black Trump surrogate on the issue

The Sounds of Swine

I have a very learned and intelligent friend.  Professor, doctor, wealthy, worldly, funny, well-spoken.  He’s got it all but youth and even in that, he lives ‘younger’.  He is pushing 80.  Huge brain.  Huge body of life-work.  HUGE.

H just spent 3000 words on (his blog) on Donald and the Deplorables.  Today, he submitted part 2 – another 3000 word piece, this time a dissection of Kayleigh McEnamy (an outspoken and celebrated supporter of Trump).

There is something wrong with that.  Something very wrong. Trump is beneath him. Truly.  It seemed to me as if he was being forced to writing a critique on Paris Hilton’s sex tapes or Kim Kardashian’s booty. What the hell?!

Has it come to this that a man with an IQ twice if not three times Trump’s feels an obligation to argue, debate and analyze the issues that fool and his minions raise? Isn’t that a smidge like mental ‘slumming’?

Don’t get me wrong…my guy is just a guy.  He’s learned because he spent his life doing that (he’s a bona fide philosopher).  He’s one of my very few mentors because he is incredibly moral and does the ‘right thing’ as well as NOT mentor.  I have to ask for an opinion and I hardly ever do (twice in thirty years?). And, sometimes when I do, he doesn’t answer.  (I have another mentor like that but he just yells now and again on his own initiative).

But, regardless, I respect him. (And the other, louder one too).  He is a good man, a decent man, a smart man and a worthy fellow who has proven his bona fides in many many ways (especially helping refugees).  This guy COULD be the president of the US and do a helluva job.

But he has been dragged into the muddy, stinky fray.  And regrettably, WE HAVE ALL been dragged into this slop. Direction: down.  Think: sewer.

Sadly, tragically and sickly, my guy, H, feels obliged to give the DUCK/Donald and his flock some attention and is addressing that pinhead’s issues and behaviors as if they actually mattered.  It’s like hearing the pope opine on hip-hop or Capt. Jean-Luc Picard discuss his hemorrhoids.  Somehow, it brings them down.  It brings us all down.

Trump and the Delorables drags us all down in, oh, so many ways.  But it’s the subtle ways that bother me the most.

I know I shouldn’t feel that way.  A real threat is a REAL threat and only someone in denial will try to rise above what is truly threatening.  Reality is truth.  And the Duck, it seems, is really and truly a threat.  We should face it head on.

But, I confess, it was guys like him that were the reason I learned to fight.  I didn’t want to do engage in that crap (my neghbourhoods were not good) but bullies and bad guys don’t use language, they don’t use debate, they don’t use thinking brains. They use intimidation.  And, worse, they do not give you a choice.  As a kid, I wasn’t smart enough to deal with them on a higher level. So, having few (none) choices, I instead, learned to box.

And, like war on a grander scale, it will work.  A good punch in the nose makes a point rather well. Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”  Hitler eventually got punched in the mouth – end of plan.

Bullies don’t use their heads, they use their hormones.  Muscles. Profanity. Threats. Loud noises. Like chimps and baboons.  Like Trump.  It can be effective.  And whatever language the bullies did use was just loud and stupid but often equally as intimidating as the hair and the muscles.  Hard to take the high road when being screamed at by a gorilla.  Hard to find another road.  Sometimes you just have to punch those guys in the mouth and hope you remove enough teeth to at least limit the yelling and screaming.

If someone would just punch the Donald in the face I, for one, would appreciate it.

I wrote all that yesterday.  It came from a feeling of ‘defeat’ as Trump is reported to be neck-and-neck with Hillary in the polls.  It came because the smartest man I know was stepping down into the sewer to deal with it in his current writings. It came because Trump is the latest in a succession of loud, brazen politician liars to simply yell ugly crap in our face and get away with it.  

My instinct is to lash out.

But H makes a point.  It is NOT ONLY Trump-the-bully who will influence the White House, it will include his retinue.  Quite possibly Corey Lewandowski, Paul Manafort, Kellyanne Conway and Kayleigh McEnamy will rule over some department, his perv son will influence somewhere else.  Melania will become a role model.  The whole package is pure trailer trash covered in gilt, glitter and sparkles and it brings us all down to their level.

There is not enough lipstick on the planet for this sounder of swine.   

The Earth is NOT off it’s axis……it’s upside down!

Look at our house picture taken from high up and looking south.  That picture is at the top of the blog.  It is also the same picture used on the cover of the book.  See that?

Well, when you are looking at the picture, you are looking south.  That means the west is on your right, the east is on your left.

Last night the sun set in the east.

I know………..how crazy is that!

“Dave, it is NOT crazy, it is IMPOSSIBLE.  Don’t talk nonsense.  I will stop reading you…….hmmmmm…nonsense hasn’t stopped me yet……..but don’t push it!”

I know.  But, this time, we can blame Sal.  “Sweetie….come outside for a sec.  The sun is setting in the east!”  

I went outside and there along the entire eastern sky was a red sunset-like band of light running the entire length of the island – north and south and ending so far down the coast that it could only be caused by the sun.  Same dimensions as a sunset, too…you know….a large portion of the sky all reddish and pink?

So, I looked to the west.

The west horizon was dark.  And, the further west you looked, the darker it seemed to become.  It was not black.  Just grey going to darker grey.  Overhead was clear.

This typical-looking sunset ‘effect’ was clearly, emphatically and undeniably in the east.  (But it was Sal who reported that – just for the record.)  Normal levels of darkness and nothing like any ‘light’ was coming from the west.  None.  Like, NO SUNSET in the west tonight!

In 68.5 years, I have never seen that phenomena.  Seen Northern lights, the green nano-flash in the pacific ocean at the ‘magic time’ and I have even seen St Elmos’ Fire. But I ain’t seen the sun set in the east.

There is, of course, some simple scientific explanation.

Professor: “The sun sets in the west, class.  You can count on that like death and taxes.  In the described example before me, I have concluded that the observer is either insane or else the sun was already down in the west (accounting for the west being dark) but that light ‘bounced’ off of some very much higher clouds and sorta back lit the eastern clouds in question.  We call this the Bounce-Lit theory but it is a rarely studied phenomena mostly because of the questionable credibility of those reporting seeing it.  Like UFOs.  They don’t exist either, by the way.  Neither does Elvis.  Not anymore. Any other questions?  Yes, David?”  

Me:  “It was Sally who reported it, sir.  Sally.  She’s nuts!  I don’t know her!”  

Hillary’s Got Pneumonia, what’s my excuse?

My first response was, “Does she?  Does she really?”

The point is: just because she SAID she did was not sufficient for me.  And, in a candidate for president of the United States, a statement like that really should be enough.

It was not as if I thought she was bald-faced lying (and she doesn’t look robustly healthy) but more that I didn’t fully believe what she was saying.  Subtle difference but a difference nevertheless.

I know, I know, ……….“Dave, we don’t believe any of the lying bastards.  Why point her out?”

There are two main people running for the position of leader of the so-called FREE World and one is so comically unacceptable for all the obvious and deplorable reasons mentioned by the other and that very same other is becoming well-known for colouring, or at least heavily varnishing, the truth.  One is stupider than hell and the other lies.

How would either doofus influence world affairs?

Mind you, Nixon WAS a crook and Regan was senile so maybe the Oval Office is just a hood ornament?  I dunno…………But, still…………

Presumably Trump and Clinton are the two best people the United States has to offer.the world at this time.  But HOW is that possible?  Three hundred million of them and these are the best they got?  Hell, all of my ‘merican friends are much better people than those two. Their truth-telling record alone is light years ahead.  I have even met moderate Republicans that I liked much better than those two.

Trump and Clinton – as THE choice – simply bodes ill for everyone on the planet.

And it may come to mean something while one of them is in office.   China, it seems is manifesting imperialistic aspirations.  They are active investors in South America and Africa and active invaders in the South China Sea.  And their little buddy, North Korea appears to be coming off the rails internationally more frequently just to spice up that side of the world up a little bit more than usual.

Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and maybe a few other tigers are not happy over any of that ’emerging China’ crap.

And, of course, Russia is the real bad boy doing whatever it wants to do, it seems, so long as it is limited to just cross-border or internal issues and then they just leave the bear alone.

While the EU begins to unravel and the Middle East continues to burn.

And South and Central America are growing into even larger drug cultures.

Or so the news is telling us.  

But they lie, too!  Reported news is always bad and now getting worse but they lie all the damn time so we don’t really know, do we?

And people wonder why anyone would choose to live off the grid?

Are we far enough off the grid is the real question?

We are not kidding ourselves; living off the grid does not exempt us from world politics. You might get rid of the killing pace of modern life, traffic jams, shed dozens (if not more) financial leeches and you might even find a beautiful, healthy, new way of life in your immediate but more natural surroundings but BIG forces create BIG shadows. Our sunshine is occasionally overshadowed by the BIG evils in the world. Their force is not felt, but the shadows are. Things can still look dark sometimes.

And, as I have written previously, they look dark to me right now.  I can’t see the imminent threat but I can see the sky getting darker.  Economic conditions are right for something….political tensions are right for something…idiots and criminals are in power……climate conditions….

Sometimes you can just feel it in the air…………...

“Dave?  Do you feel it in the air?”

Not quite.  Not yet.  It’s more like the calm before the storm that I am feeling.  But I see the clouds, I see the shadows, I have read my history, I see signs. But no one calls me up to give me a briefing from the Kremlin or the White House.  I am not invited to Davos.  I am not part of a cartel or even a golf club.  I am out of the loop and hope to stay way, way out of all loops.

So, why do I keep seeing this?  Why is it obviously getting worse to me?  Is it because I am not immersed in the daily sewer and my vision is so much clearer?  Is it that all I see around me is beautiful and wonderful except what I know about the outside world?

Am I made overly sensitive by that or am I made a raving paranoid?

 

 

 

The Answer: Replace the UN with the SPCA.

This blog jumps around a little – I had a lot of ground to cover in 1000 words.  

750 people ‘disappear’ from Mexican towns and villages EVERY DAY.  Almost 28,000 a year.  Didja know that?  Millions ‘disappear’ in all sorts of countries including China and Russia.  Did you know that?  What the hell does anyone know about Malaysia or Madagascar or even South Africa because of our news sources.

Do you even KNOW where Chad, Uzbekistan and Suriname are?

Waddya know about Kim Kardashian despite efforts to NOT know?

An earthquake buries a village in Italy killing almost 300 people and CNN is all over it.  The world is made aware, rescue efforts are enacted, states of emergency are declared and we are all made to ‘feel’ their pain with pictures and reporters on the ground.  And, maybe we should do that…………but………more than twice that amount are killed EVERY DAY in Mexico.  No news.  No CNN.  No rescue efforts.

The news of ‘disappearances’ comes from newsletters (Mexico News Daily) put out by Ex-pats living in Mexico.  They cull their information from larger Mexican Media sources.  Similar newspapers from Ex-pats around the world are a much better source of REAL international news than is the mainstream media-fluff we generally rely on.

Not only is our media bereft of real news, the news they do offer is 90% just-plain silly.  AND misleading.  It is propaganda.  It helps ‘celebrities’ lead us astray.

Trump makes a grab for power based on the media-generated fears, prejudices and hatred some Americans are made to feel for Muslims and other ‘bogey-men’ but the following facts say otherwise.

extreme_vetting-1We could add that 20 or so Canadians are killed each year by moose/deer collisions.  And 35,000 people in the USA die each year from auto accidents.  None of that is NEWS anymore.  Kardashian’s butt is news.  Truth is not.

But STILL Bubba fears the Muslim more than anything else.  And a veritable armory of automatic weapons in each house is prescribed to deal with it.  And Trump is the leader they want.  Doesn’t matter how you cut it, Trump and the Bubbas are stupider than hell.  They are beyond stupid….they are the zombies-in-making that will bring about the apocalypse!  Well, I don’t really believe that but the idiocy that is the media affects me, too.  

But that is not my point.  NOT really.  Most of you know that Trump and the Bubbas are pretty stupid (as am I) but did you know that we don’t really seem to need him, Hillary or even Ban Ki-moon to guide us through life?  We may not even need Just-in.

God knows we do not need Christy Clark.

Because…………………..

A Dog Is Re-Elected Mayor For A Third Term, Proving Politicians Are Useless

Submitted by Carey Wedler via TheAntiMedia.org,

As millions of Americans struggle to decide whether to elect a volatile narcissist or a calculated warmongering criminal as their next leader, one Minnesota town is doing politics right – they just re-elected a dog to his third term as mayor.

Duke, a nine-year-old Great Pyrenees, was first elected mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota in 2014. The first time he won, it was by accident. The small town of just over 1,000 people held an election in which residents could pay $1 to vote. Duke won the race with twelve write-in votes and was treated to an official inauguration.

The town’s voters were evidently happy with the 2014 fluke. Duke has been re-elected twice, most recently at the end of August.

His main role has been to promote a sense of community in the township. He was recently featured in a series of billboards promoting Cormorant.

I don’t know who would run against him, because he’s done such great things for the community,” Karen Nelson, a resident of Cormorant told local ABCaffiliate WDAY, before the election.

“Everybody voted for Duke, except for one vote for his girlfriend, Lassie,” Duke’s owner David Rick said after Duke won.

Though Duke’s re-election is particularly comical in an election year rife with unpopular candidates and marred by animosity, derision, and deceit, the town’s decision to elect and keep a dog in office has profound implications.

Though over 1,000 people live in Cormorant, only twelve decided to elect Duke in 2014. Similarly, Anti-Media recently explained that only 9 percent of the voting public chose either Trump or Clinton in the primary elections this year.

This is an ongoing pattern:

In the 2012 election, President Obama was elected with 51.1 percent of the popular vote, compared to 47.2 for Mitt Romney. But only 57.5 percent of the voting population cast their ballots, meaning President Obama still only secured the votes of 29 percent of voters.

The same staggeringly low voter turnout that plagues national politics presented itself in Cormorant. But the consequences of having a dog serve as mayor are far less severe than allowing a small segment of the national population to decide which criminal politicians will rule over the rest of the country. Presidential and national politics represent a wholly unrepresentative political process in which the few decide for the many in more ways than one, and Cormorant reflects these deeper flaws in American elections.

More important, Cormorant demonstrates that a non-human can run a town of over one thousand people without the community deteriorating into chaos. While humans support Duke’s administration, the fact the town has continued to function and thrive with a dog in a position of leadership highlights just how little guidance humans actually need — especially considering how consistently politicians have flagrantly ignored the concerns and well-being of their constituents.

Though politicians and the media repeatedly paint the picture that the nation’s fate hangs in the balance of any given election, Duke’s success provides a valuable counter-narrative. And though a small town of 1,000 people is hardly a sufficient anecdote to debunk centuries worth of American “democracy,” Duke’s case is far from the only one.

A cat named Stubbs currently presides over Talkeetna, Alaska. April the cow served as mayor of Eastsound, Washington from 2011 to 2012. A beer-drinking goat named Clay Henry III served as mayor of Lajitas, Texas until 1992. “Best mayor we ever had,” Davis Odom, a local historian, said. Henry III was succeeded by two more goat mayors. As the Wall Street Journal detailed:

In Rabbit Hash, Ky., a Border Collie named Lucy Lou defeated 10 dogs, a cat, a possum, a jackass and even one human to become the town’s third animal mayor—all dogs—since 1998, says Bobbi Kayser, the current mayor’s owner.

If individuals can govern themselves at the local level, who’s to say they wouldn’t survive without a leader at the top of the political hierarchy? People across the country are already taking it upon themselves to better their communities without the help of government and their ‘leaders.’ Between using apps that distribute food to the homeless, establishing community gardens and wifi, and taking it upon themselves to pick up their governments’ slack, Americans are learning to rely on themselves rather than their leaders, proving that without government, people make the world go ‘round.

 

The real news is that we don’t do as good a job running things as a Golden Doodle.

 

 

The expensive gifts that keep on giving

We have 2100 watts of solar panels facing south (as you would expect) and they are doing a really good job.  Better than I ever anticipated.  I have not had to start the generator in three or more months.  It is amazing!

My ‘guy’ who supplies panels and stops by for lunch now and then is urging me to take three more panels adding another 780 watts.  I am going to do so.  “Why?”  Because the last 3 or four months have been summertime and relatively sunny.  The winter is not as generous in power generation.  The extra three panels may make the seasonal difference.

“But you have had 2100 watts for almost two years now.  What is the difference?”

Batteries.  I guess I was producing more power than I could store and so, when the new bank came on line ($5,000) five months back, the storage capacity simply got bigger and the panels filled it up.  Technical specs number crunching did not do the job for me on that score, but experience has.  Everything works so much better with the new batteries.

But here’s the good news: panels are a dollar-a-watt.  3000 watts of panels is a mere $3000.  Admittedly, with all the bits, pieces, controllers, inverters and cable, you can add almost double the price.  And a bit of expertise-labour added and you are looking at $10,000 easily.  Add batteries and you are looking at $15,000 or more.  But you city folks do not have to have an expensive battery bank.  Most utility companies offer a buy back arrangement that allows you to generate power (which they buy) and then give back to you later in the day.

But, for me (and not counting the batteries) in four months, I have paid nothing. Annualized, that would equate to $2000 a year in hydro savings (give or take).  That’s a five year payback.  Eight years or so if I factor in the batteries (which I should).

The math works in that case.

And now, over to the new, lower funicular…………..OMG what a treat!  We have used it a dozen or so times and it works like Juan Valdez’ mule, Conchita.  Slow and steady.  Two minutes of the metal cart hill climbing up from the sea.  No more barnacles.  No more sweating and lifting, falling and cursing.  It works beautifully.  Worth every penny.

“Dave, are you posting just to gloat?” 

Yeah.