civics, current events, democracy, government, politics

A Tale of Two Presidents

My news feed is regularly filled with bold claims from Trump and his supporters about the historic work that has been done by this administration. I am often caught off guard by these statements due to the fact that from my vantage point, I haven’t seen anything that supports this claim. I have however seen the so-called president divide our country, hire Nazi-wannabes, promote White nationalism, tarnish our reputation overseas, shred our alliances, threaten the stability of the world, and lie every day.

To go from a president who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to one under constant investigation with rumors of a tape with Russian prostitutes peeing on him is almost to much to bear.

I don’t usually write with Trump supporters in mind. However, today’s essay is for them; a bit of a follow-up from yesterday’s writing. These lists could go on-an-on, and they are in no particular order.

President Obama:

  • Won Nobel Peace Prize
  • Made record investments in education initiatives, environmental research, industrial modernization and, most famously, health-care reform.
  • Invested money into scientific and medical research
  • Invested money into alternative energy sources
  • Signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – saving the US from economic doom and stopping the Great Recession
  • Drafted healthcare reform – ACA
  • Saved the American auto industry
  • Inherited a country on the brink of disaster, and saved it.
  • Doubled the number of female justices on the Supreme Court (more than any other time in history)
  • Ended “don’t ask, don’t tell” allowing gays to openly serve in the military
  • Stopped supporting Defense of Marriage Act, allowing gay couples to get married
  • Allowed women to choose serving in combat roles in the military
  • Massive investment into green appliances, buildings, autos etc., which cut greenhouse has emissions
  • Opened relations with Cuba
  • Banned waterboarding
  • Signed CHIP – expanding healthcare to 11 million needy kids
  • Killed Osama Bin Ladin
  • Signed Dodd-Frank Act – largest financial regulatory overhaul since New Deal

Trump:

  • Nominated 33% of his Cabinet
  • Has gotten 8% of his Cabinet positions confirmed
  • 16 days spent playing golf
  • Appointed Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
  • Did not proclaim June 2017 as LGBT Pride Month
  • Currently facing lawsuits from three entities for violations of the Emoluments Clause
  • Currently facing 12 lawsuits related to sanctuary cities and immigration
  • Currently being sued for violations of the Presidential Records act of 1978
  • Currently being sued for violations of the First Amendment
  • Under investigation by Senate Intelligence Committee, the FBI, the House of Representatives, and Robert Mueller for a variety of crimes to include collusion with a hostile foreign nation and illegal financial dealings
  • Withdrew from the TPP
  • Removed pollution protections from public waters in the US
  • Launched 59 Tomahawk missiles into a deserted airfield in Syria
  • Ordered a botched raid into Yemen that resulted in the death of a SOF solider and many civilians
  • Fired the head of the FBI for not pledging loyalty to him
  • Encouraged America’s intelligence chiefs to undermine the FBI’s Russia probe
  • Denied climate change and pulled the US out of the Paris Accords
  • Shared highly classified Israeli intelligence with a core ally of Israel’s top geopolitical foe

 

Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS (AOM)

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Checking in With Trump’s Accomplishments (Day 173)

Today I took some time out to review Trump’s accomplishments. To begin, I took a stroll through the Right Wing media machine.

My journey led me to a site called “Conservapedia”, which I had not heard of before. It is a site that mirrors Wikipedia, but angles to the right. Really, really far right. The article that I found to answer my questions regarding his accomplishments was not surprisingly titled “Donald Trump Accomplishments”. Before getting to the article I went to the citations page, and here is what I found.

16 different outlets cited, representing 85 citations.

27 citations were from Breitbart (31.8%)

24 citations were from the Washington Times (28.2%)

10 citations were from Fox (11.8%)

1 citation was from Daily Mail (1.3%)

1 citation was from whitehouse.gov (1.3%)

For a total of 63 of the 85 (74%) citations being at best unreliable sources, and at worst being complete bullshit.

I assume most folks know about Breitbart (their racist, white nationalist agenda made famous by the racist and white nationalist Trump administration headed by Bannon). Fox and whitehouse.gov are both obviously state propaganda. However, here is a quick summary of the Washington Times and the Daily Mail (I think these two are less well known).

The Washington Times – Conservative paper founded by religious cult leader Sun Myong Moon in 1982, and wholly owned by his church.  Described by the Washington Post – “The Times was established by Moon to combat communism and be a conservative alternative to what he perceived as the liberal leanings of The Washington Post. “ (1)

The Daily Mail – A Conservative U.K. paper that is often accused of printing inaccurate and sensational stories.

It is my hope that two thing happen with this. First, I want to actually explore what Trump has done. With the lies and distortions coming from every angle I have to periodically sit down and try to find truth. Secondly, I want to point out the dubious scholarship that goes into partisan media outlets as they sell to a predetermined narrative. The information “feels” right to the consumer, so no additional critical thinking is used. It’s what Colbert called “truthiness”.

I will be citing this Conservapedia (2) page a lot.

The first line of the article states that Trump gave “one of the strongest inauguration addresses in American history” and goes on to cite a Breitbart article, a Politico article, and a Telegraph article titled “Donald Trump just delivered the most American inauguration speech ever”. (3). I have linked the article below. It’s worth reading. Although cited in the Conservapedia page as supporting its claim of the inauguration speech being “one of the strongest ever”, the Telegraph article simply reports on the number of times specific words are used, and does it in a very mocking tone. The journalist from the Telegraph called it the most “American” speech solely because Trump said the word “America” more times than any other inaugural speaker. I’m guessing that the person who wrote the Conservapedia entry didn’t read past the headline of the article.

I point this out to show the lack of academic integrity. Maybe there is a connection between how Republicans hate and mistrust colleges (4) and their inability to separate fact from fiction. Or to read. But I digress.

The article continues to list accomplishments:

 

  1. Gave one of the strongest inaugural speeches in history (Irrelevant, and probably not true)
  2. Signed bill to allow General Mattis to be confirmed as SecDef (Already covered in item #11 below)
  3. Undo President Obama’s legacy (Not sure what this means)
  4. Institute conservative executive orders (This is really a strange thing for a Republican to put into the “accomplishments” category after screaming for eights years about President Obama being a tyrant for signing EO’s)
  5. Reducing regulations (True, mostly bad, and already covered in item #11 below)
  6. Enforcing American Immigration Laws (True, and probably not good)
  7. Appointing Gorsuch to Supreme Court (True, and total bullshit after Congress not filling President Obama’s nominee)
  8. Signed more pieces of legislation since any president than Truman (True, but mostly what he has signed is meaningless and the rest is quite detrimental either to the citizen’s of the U.S. or the planet)
  9. Signed more Executive Orders than any other president (False every president since Garfield has signed more EO’s than Trump (7) )
  10. Disrupted the liberal political establishment consensus (I don’t know what this means)
  11. Signed 37 bills into law, more than each of the previous four presidents (This is just repeating the claim made in #8 above)
  12. Made Congressional Republicans more united than any time in history (False)(8, 9,10)

 

Following up on some of the subs from this article, you also find these listed as “accomplishments”-

  1. Trump did not proclaim June 2017 as LGBT Pride Month, unlike former presidents Clinton and Obama
  2. Appointed Valerie Huber, an abstinence education advocate, to the position of chief of staff to the assistant secretary for health at the HHS
  3. Began to undo Section 1557 of ObamaCare, which would have helped liberals gain transexual “rights” through the courts
  4. Loosened IRS restrictions against political activities by tax-exempt religious organizations
  5. Made it easier for employers to not cover contraception
  6. Trump signed an executive order repealing Obama-era labor law compliance requirements for federal contractors, along with signing a resolution of disapproval that day on the same topic
  7. Announced he would discontinue President Obama’s “pro-transgender” policies
  8. FBI director James Comey for being unfit to serve in the position
  9. signed an order reinstating the Mexico City Policy, which defunded International Planned Parenthood and other organizations that promote foreign abortions
  10. Appointed several pro-life advocates to Department of Health and Human Services positions
  11. Repealed a Social Security Administration rule adding mental disability determinations to the background check registry
  12. Signed two orders reviving consideration for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects, which Obama halted due to supposed environmental concerns
  13. Forced the G-20 to remove any mention of climate change from its joint statement
  14. signed a major executive order repealing several Obama-era environmental regulations unfavorable to coal
  15. Signed an executive order repealing a ban on offshore drilling signed by President Obama
  16. Signed agreements as a member of the Arctic Council, and it was later revealed that it successfully weakened the language regarding climate change and environmental policy
  17. Announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and immediately stop its implementation
  18. Formally rejected a G7 pledge to adhere to the Paris climate agreement
  19. Rejected a proposed regulation to put a limit on the number of certain endangered marine animals allowed to be killed on injured in fishing nets
  20. Department of Energy closed its Office of International Climate and Technology
  21. Signed an order directing Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, upon his confirmation, to plan changes to the Dodd-Frank bank regulatory law in order to cut much of it
  22. This “accomplishment” is listed in the Trump article, but I’m fairly sure Trump’s budget doesn’t go into effect until October. So, basically this article is praising President Obama. By June 2017, the economy was clearly improving and growing, and Americans’ confidence in the economy rose. The average credit scores of Americans reached an all-time high by July 2017. The economy rose faster than expected in July 2017, with 222,000 jobs being added. It was reported in early July that U.S. factory activity rose to its highest level since August 2014

 

This article correctly states that Trump has signed a lot of legislation. But look at the content. Nothing that he has made into law is significant. Naming building and making executive personnel decisions is not governance. For fun, ask your Trump supporting friends to describe the legislation that Trump has signed into law.

Laws signed by Trump (5):

2 name VA clinics in honor of people

2 adds National Vietnam War Veterans Day to the list of days people are encouraged to fly American flags

5 are related to personnel matters (including a waiver allowing James Mattis to become SecDef

1 extends an Obama-era policy allowing veterans in some circumstances to get healthcare outside of the VA system

13 laws passed under the Congressional Review Act – these laws roll back previously passed legislation and includes rules designed to protect streams from coal pollution and a rule that used to force financial advisors to put their clients interests before their own

3 modify existing programs

2 encourage agencies to try something new

1 law re-establishing the National Space Council, but changed its emphasis to a military/security outlook rather than a scientific one (Worth mentioning that although Trump has signed a bill that affects NASA, he has yet to appoint a NASA administrator or Office of Science and Technology Policy director)

A complete list can be found here (6).

And on and on.

This entire site is rife with lies, inaccuracies, and falsehoods. I almost feel bad for the millions of angry, low-information consumers that suckle from “news” outlets like this. They are the epitome of “my opinions are just as valid as your knowledge”.

Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS (AOM)

 

 

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Washington_Times
  2. http://www.conservapedia.com/Donald_Trump_achievements
  3. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/20/donald-trump-just-delivered-american-inauguration-speech-ever/
  4. http://www.newsweek.com/republicans-believe-college-education-bad-america-donald-trump-media-fake-news-634474
  5. http://www.npr.org/2017/04/27/525753448/white-house-touts-historic-28-laws-signed-by-trump-but-what-are-they
  6. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pggbpz/all-the-laws-and-executive-orders-trump-has-signed-so-far
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_order_(United_States)
  8. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/01/us/politics/affordable-care-act-health-care-trump.html

9 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/26/us/politics/trump-health-care-conservatives-congress.html

  1. http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-congress-ryan-trump-20161115-story.html
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The Conservative Violence Fetish

Slate had a chillingly accurate headline in May, 2017 “The Republicans Are the Party of Thugs and Nazis”.  In that article, the author points out that although there are some individuals who are the exception, the Republican Party itself has welcomed, with open arms, racists and violent white-supremacists into their ranks (1).

As such, it should have come as no surprise that the party of war and the party of violence nominated a violent amoral sexual assaulter to be their guy in the White House. Trump’s long history of nepotism, violence, ignorance, and corruption are well known and well documented and I won’t dwell on it here.

This trend has been intensifying since the 1960’s. Former President George H. W. Bush fought against civil rights as a Republican candidate for the Texas Senate in 1964 (2). Bush played a key role in the development of today’s racist and violence oriented Republican Party. Under Bush, the Party worked to integrate the John Birch Society (JBS) into this “modern” Republican Party. The JBS was anti Civil Rights (3). In a flyer titled “What’s wrong with civil rights” published in 1965:

“For the civil rights movement in the United States, with all of its growing agitation and riots and bitterness, and insidious steps towards the appearance of a civil war, has not been infiltrated by the Communists, as you now frequently hear. It has been deliberately and almost wholly created by the Communists patiently building up to this present stage for more than forty years.” (4)

The focus of Republican hatred and violence has shifted from civil rights, to Antifa, but the message itself remains the same. Just days ago, the above sentiments were echoed (somewhat less eloquently) by one of the countries most notorious Alt-Right trolls, Tim Gionet:

“Tomorrow we go to Portland to defend free speech & say no to communist Antifa” (5).

But I digress.

In 1963, President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, became president. Johnson represents the peak of modern liberalism (6) and his reign corresponds to an entrenchment of ideologies that has left the Republicans bereft of a Liberal wing since about 1970 (7).

1969 saw the rise of another Republican to the Oval Office, Richard Nixon. Nixon was many things, not the least of which is the most famous crook in American history. He is also famous for creating the “Nixon Doctrine” which was to have the US engage in proxy wars across the world; while at the same time selling arms and munitions to Latin America and the Middle East. I don’t think this is the first time a political party overtly engaged in war profiteering, but it is definitely an egregious one.

Fast forward to Bush Jr., starting two unnecessary wars, one in Afghanistan, and one in Iraq. These wars led to Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney getting rich through US Government “no-bid” contracts with his company, Halliburton. (8)

I have broadly outlined the above simply to give some background to the modern GOP. My contention is that since the 1960’s the Republican Party has become more and more radicalized. They have created a group whose unifying focus is hatred coupled with the wanton abuse of Capitalism to acquire extreme wealth and has neither the interest nor the ability to govern.

The ever increasing trend towards radicalism and racism was made clear in 1989 when David Duke (R-LA) became a Member of the House of Representatives in Louisiana. Duke, is an American white nationalist, anti-Semite conspiracy theorist, holocaust denier, convicted felon, and former Imperial Wizard of the KKK. Of interest, immediately prior to winning his House seat in 1989 as a Republican, he was unsuccessful at multiple political campaigns as a Democrat. He found a home with the GOP. (9)

Over the last few months, Republicans from across the board have increased their violence and threats of violence. I cite as proof six examples that have played out in the last year by members of the GOP:

  • 10 Sep 2016 Gov. Matt Bevin (R-KY) said in a speech at the Values Voter Summit “a Hillary Clinton presidency may necessitate bloodshed” and “I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically. But that may, in fact, be the case.” (10)
  • 21 May 2017 Rep. Karl Oliver (R-MS) called for Louisiana State leadership “to be lynched”  (11)
  • 24 May 2017 Greg Gianforte (R-MT) – violent assault on a reporter who asked questions about the Republican Party’s stance on healthcare. (12)
  • 25 May 2017 Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) – When asked about the incident between Gianforte and the reporter, Hunter said he didn’t think it was appropriate behavior “unless the reporter deserved it”. (13)
  • 29 May 2017 Matt Rinaldi (R-TX) On the floor of the Texas House, debate turned to argument then nearly erupted into a violent confrontation. According to Rep. Justin Rodriguez, Rinaldi and Rep. Poncho Nevarez nearly came to blows; by Rodriguez’s account, Rinaldi said he would “put a bullet in” Nevarez’s head. (14)
  • 5 June 2017 Clay Higgins (R-LA)  I’ll just leave this one verbatim. “The free world…all of Christendom…is at war with Islamic horror. Not one penny of American treasure should be granted to any nation who harbors these heathen animals. Not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter. Their intended entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identity them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.” (15)

My final thought. This article was really focused on elected GOP officials. With little effort, you can find the disturbing facts about right wing violence in general being on the rise, and perpetrated by violent Christian extremists. That will be an article for another day.

Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS(AOM)

 

 

1.http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/05/26/the_national_republican_party_tolerates_violence_and_explicit_racism.html

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_H._W._Bush
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Birch_Society
  3. Ibid
  4. http://www.wweek.com/news/city/2017/06/03/after-slayings-alt-right-belligerents-have-doubled-down-on-a-trip-to-portland-setting-the-stage-for-a-violent-standoff/
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyndon_B._Johnson
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_(United_States)
  7. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/28/us/a-closer-look-at-cheney-and-halliburton.html?_r=0
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Duke
  9. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/republicans-inciting-right-wing-violence-after-election-day-w439871
  10. https://mississippitoday.org/2017/05/21/rep-karl-oliver-those-removing-confederate-monuments-should-be-lynched/
  11. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/24/us/politics/greg-gianforte-montana-republican-body-slams-reporter.html
  12. http://www.politicususa.com/2017/05/25/house-republican-violence-reporter-deserves-gop-unhinged.html

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/06/republican-congressman-clay-higgins-suspected-islamic-radicals-kill-them-all

  1. http://thehill.com/homenews/news/335544-texas-state-reps-scuffle-amid-sanctuary-city-protest
  2. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/06/republican-congressman-clay-higgins-suspected-islamic-radicals-kill-them-all
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Basket of Deplorables, or Team Trump’s Cabinet of Shame

With all of the static and nonsense filling the news, it’s hard to know what the hell to think about the myriad of Trump/Russia investigations. With this piece I hope to present the information that is available as directly and simply as possible.

Donald Trump is under investigation for possible ties and collusion with Russia.

There. That’s seems pretty clear.

Of course, many members of his Cabinet and his Campaign/Transition team are under investigation as well. The nature of these investigations is not always clear. Partially because the nature of some of these agencies is to be secretive, but also because there are SO MANY AGENCIES CONDUCTING INVESTIGATIONS! Additionally the investigations themselves run the gamut from criminal to counter intelligence.

It is a constant Hulk-like anger inducing event to watch Republicans rail about leakers and seemingly not care AT ALL about potential crimes and treason committed by their leader.

The accusations may lead no-where. And that is a reality my Liberal friends need to be aware of. However, for the Right to choose to ignore the entire Intelligence Community is utterly insane, unpatriotic, and makes me wonder about where their loyalties lie.

Here is a quick summary of the investigations. (These include investigations being conducted by the FBI, the Senate Intelligence Committee, House Intelligence Committee, a Special Counsel led by Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the Department of Justice, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the House Oversight Committee):

The following are excerpted from Former Director of the FBI James Comey’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee:

  1. The FBI is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. (1)
  2. The FBI is investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government. (2)
  3. The FBI is investigating whether or not there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. (3)
  4. The FBI investigation will include an assessment of whether or not any crimes were committed. (4)
  5. A counter intelligence investigation was started against the Trump campaign in July 2016. (5)
  6. The FBI is coordinating with other Intelligence Collection agencies from around the world in this investigation. (6)
  7. The FBI is investigating Russian citizens and officials to determine who was involved and what they did. (7)

Other investigations:

  1. The Senate Intelligence Committee is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election. (8)
  2. The House Intelligence Committee is investigating the Russian interference, and specifically Trump is a part of this investigation. (9)
  3. Department of Justice is investigating Paul Manafort (10)
  4. A special counsel led by Robert Mueller has been appointed to investigate possible links or coordination between Russia and associates of the Trump campaign but also “any matters that arose or may arise directly” from the probe. It would also extend to any allegations of perjury, witness intimidation or obstruction of justice uncovered during the course of the investigation. (11)
  5. There are also investigations being conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the House Oversight Committee. (12)

Additionally:

Trump associates had repeated contact with Russian Intelligence. (13)

Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime adviser to Mr. Trump, has acknowledged communicating with Guccifer 2.0, an online persona believed to be a front for Russian intelligence officials involved in disseminating hacked Democratic emails. (14)

Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump, visited Moscow for a speaking engagement in July 2016 (15) Page was also the subject of a secret warrant last year issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, based on suspicions he might have been acting as an agent of the Russian government.

Michael T. Flynn, a Trump campaign adviser who went on to be his national security adviser, was paid more than $65,000 by companies linked to Russia in 2015, including an American branch of a cybersecurity firm believed to have connections to Russia’s intelligence services, according to congressional investigators. Mr. Flynn was forced to resign after misrepresenting his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. (16) Flynn is also under investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general and other congressional committees. (17) Flynn has also been the recipient of a grand jury subpoena.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager has done business in Russia and both law enforcement and intelligence officials have intercepted communications between him and the Russians during the lead up to the election. Manafort has also been the recipient of a grand jury subpoena. (18)

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, is under FBI investigation for holding meetings in December 2016 with Kislyak and a banker from Moscow. He is being probed due to the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians. (19)

Other fun facts:

  • FBI Director Comey claims that Trump asked him to drop the FBI’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (20)
  • Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, has called for Trump’s impeachment for obstruction of justice into the Russian investigation. (21)
  • The House Intelligence Committee is also overseeing the Justice Department to make sure that no one there “impedes” the investigation (22)
  • John Brennan, former Director of the CIA, told that FBI that “the intelligence community was picking up tidbits on Trump associates making contacts with Russians.” (23)
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Jared Kushner both life on their security clearance applications, omitting meetings with Russians. (24) Sessions was forced to recuse himself from the investigation, but he ignored that and stayed involved anyway.
  • In classified sessions in August and September, intelligence officials briefed congressional leaders on the possibility of financial ties between Russians and people connected to Trump (25).

Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS (AOM)

  1. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446068/donald-trump-fbi-russia-investigation-counterintelligence-not-criminal
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid
  5. Ibid
  6. Ibid
  7. Ibid
  8. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/05/25/trump-and-russia-investigation-what-to-know.html
  9. http://www.politicususa.com/2017/05/21/adam-schiff-confirms-trump-congressional-investigation-collusion-russia.html
  10. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/mueller-trump-russia-investigation-include-manafort-case-article-1.3215902
  11. Ibis
  12. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40115424
  13. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/us/politics/fbi-investigation-trump-russia-comey.html?_r=0
  14. Ibid
  15. Ibid
  16. Ibid
  17. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/05/25/trump-and-russia-investigation-what-to-know.html
  18. Ibid
  19. Ibid
  20. Ibid
  21. Ibid
  22. http://www.politicususa.com/2017/05/21/adam-schiff-confirms-trump-congressional-investigation-collusion-russia.html
  23. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/may/29/john-brennan-obama-loyalist-and-cia-director-drove/
  24. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40115424
  25. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/us/politics/fbi-russia-election-donald-trump.html?_r=0
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The Normalization of Hatred and Violence

I have seen many right wing articles of late lamenting the flack their mouthpieces and hero’s are getting when they try to spew their hate-filled ideologies at colleges across the country. Milo, Ann Coulter, O’Reiley, Alex Jones etc. to name a few.

I am going to be expressing my counter opinion in this essay. My statement upfront – if you are espousing racism, violence, and hatred you deserve every bit of ridicule and discomfort society can throw your way. And if you are calling for violence and genocide I believe that you should be taken at your word and the people you are threatening are within their rights to take action to defend themselves. Your right to free expression ends when it threatens my life or liberty. As a reminder, the First Amendment says that the government can’t pass a law that infringes on your free speech, not that you can spew whatever bullshit you want free of consequence (1). The article I’m arguing against (detailed below) is suggesting that the alt-right, Nazi wannabes have to be heard or else the Holocaust will happen again. Which of course is a ludicrous example of Orewellian double speek.

Today in The Federalist, I read an article by Stella Morabito railing against groupthink and propaganda (presumably from the Left) and arguing for free speech and lamenting how we have forgotten history. Part of her argument is that history is repeating itself with 1. the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East, 2. challenges to Israel’s right to exist, 3. jihadist terror attacks in the name of Islam.

Before continuing, I want to briefly look at these dog whistles and put them into context.

First, “the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East”. It is true that people of all faiths and backgrounds are experiencing terrible violence across the Middle East. But what she is really saying is that Muslims are evil and they are slaughtering Christians. So, let’s briefly dive into this. Violence is not new. Violence in the Middle East is not new. As she is keen to point out in her article, one way to stop the ascension of mass violence is to remember history. I could cite many examples of provocation and meddling in the Middle East that precipitated today’s terrible geopolitical reality. For instance, and in no particular order, the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, the creation of the State of Israel, the drawing of artificial borders by the Sykes-Picot Agreement by Great Britain and France, US involvement in Lebanon in the 1970’s-80’s, supporting Saddam Hussein against Iran in the 1980’s (and supplying him with chemical weapons which he used in Halabja), or more recently the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. But I would like to specifically mention the Crusades. From 1096-1718 (3) Europeans led wars of aggression into the Middle East killing as many 1.7 million people (4). Mostly innocent Muslims.

 

“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.” – President Obama 5 Feb 2015 (5)

 

Furthermore, I would argue that the genocide and mass exodus of more than 12 million civilians from Syria is at least partially the fault of the United States. The US is not the origin of conflict in Syria, but we have certainly been involved in making it worse (6). Our actions have caused instability across the Middle East for decades. I would like to point out that prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, that that country had a nominally secular and stable government, and prior to the first Iraq War in 1991, they were pro-West as well. Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that Saddam Hussein was a good leader – I mention these facts because Stella Morabito is trying to bend reality by creating this false narrative of evil Muslims slaughtering Christians. Everyone has blood on their hands as far as I’m concerned. But here is a reality – Muslims are the real victims of the endless wars in the Middle East. Here are some data points –

 

Between 2005-2015 900,000 Christians “martyred” worldwide (7)

From 2015-2016 1,207 Christians killed for their faith worldwide  (8)

 

Contrast that with –

 

2003-2011 500,000 Iraq’s killed as a result of the US invasion (9)

2001-2015 220,000 Afghanis and 90,000 Pakistanis killed as a result of US war (10)

2001-2015 4 million killed in US Wars in the Middle East (11)

 

I would also like to point out the obvious – the US has initiated combat and war in Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya in recent years, and thus far, Islam has not invaded America.

Sick of y’all pseudo intellectuals trying to rewrite history. For example, contrary to what the Right Wing Media would have you believe “Muslims mostly say that suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam are rarely or never justified, including 92% in Indonesia and 91% in Iraq.” (12)

 

“Recent surveys show that most people in several countries with significant Muslim populations have an unfavorable view of ISIS, including virtually all respondents in Lebanon and 94% in Jordan. Relatively small shares say they see ISIS favorably.” – Pew Research (13)

 

Her second point “challenges to Israel’s right to exist”. I have to confess to not understanding how this point is relevant to her argument. However, any cursory look into the history of Israel or even just an awareness of the last 60 years of Middle East history should allow most folks to understand the controversy. For right or wrong, prior to WWII there was no country called Israel in the modern era. The smartest people in the world have looked at this and have failed to come up with any solution, so I’m going to leave this one alone. I would however like to mention that the Oslo Accords confirmed the Palestinian people’s opinion that Israel has the right to exist.

Her third point “jihadist terror attacks in the name of Islam” is easily counter-able by making the correlation between Christianity and “alt-right terror attacks in the name of Christianity.” The reality is that 73% of all violent extremist attacks in the US were perpetrated by radical right wing/Christian groups. Not Muslims. (14). In any case, most Muslims denounce religious violence and “jihad”. In fact, many Islamic scholars describe jihad as a personal journey of introspection and growth achieved by overcoming personal obstacles in life. In Arabic, jihad means “effort or struggle”. Nothing to do with killing Christians or whatever other false narrative the media reports it as. In the same way that most mainstream Christians don’t approve of the violence perpetrated by the Westboro Baptist Church, most Muslims don’t approve of the violence perpetrated in the name of Islam.

In her article, she also cites the importance of free speech and freedom of expression as being keys to preventing genocide. All of which I agree with and support completely. But then she goes on to roll out the tired alt-right trope of how these institutions have been “dangerously compromised” and filled with “media bias”.

She criticizes college students for not being able to reason or think critically and how this threatens social stability, and accuses universities of intolerance to different view points.

These are some of her specific points-

  1. mob mobilization to promote an anti-speech movement (under the guise of anti-hate)
  2. mob mobilization to shut down local police forces (under the guise of Black Lives Matter)
  3. a call for re-education to enforce conformity of thought (under the guise of anti-fascism)
  4. a rising tide of “my way or die” jihadism that sees itself engaged in total war against perceived enemies (under the guise of Islam)
  5. Cult behavior in a society that is ignorant of how cults operate
  6. the cultivation of ignorance in K-12 and higher education that cuts off information about history and civics (under the guise of multi-culturalism)
  7. the erasure of Western Civilization from education
  8. forced self criticism at colleges (under the guise of white privilege)

 

My rebuttal, by the numbers:

 

  1. I would argue that the Holocaust was able to happen, in part, because the message was one that the German people were already open to – to whit, Jews are responsible for your economic ills, and that people didn’t stand up to fight against it. (Replace “Jews” with “Mexicans” and all the sudden it sounds eerily familiar). 2. Black Lives Matter is not a movement to “shut down police forces”. It’s a movement that is trying to stop unarmed black kids from being killed by police. 3. I don’t know where this is coming from, but it seems to be a pro-fascism statement. Which, as an aside, I have seen a lot of confusion coming from the Right about the differences between the Left and Right on the political spectrum. In fact, I have seen Right wing folks accuse people on the left of being both Communists and Fascists. I don’t know if this is being done deliberately or is the result of really terrible historical understanding. 4. This is really false. What it stems from is a fear that Christians have of being out-proselytized by Islam, which is true. Islam is the fastest growing religion on the planet, and is expected to be the largest religion by the end of the century.  With 1.6 Billion Muslims on the planet, if they were engaged in “total war” I think the landscape would look somewhat different. For a person who is arguing against the proliferation of propaganda she should look to her own statements first. But honestly, we know that’s not her objective. In truth, like Goebbels said and Trump does every day, accuse them of doing what you are doing. 5. Given the recent statistics of 96% of Trump supporters who would still vote for Trump (15), in spite of evidence suggesting he is the least popular president in history (16) and the verifiable lack of accomplishments (62% of his “accomplishments” are simply the signing of Executive Orders) (17), I would say that he and his followers are the very definition of a cult. And it’s a cult built around racism, ignorance, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and bigotry. I would happily expand on this, but that will be an essay for another day. 7. I would like to see some facts. I don’t agree that Western Civilization is being erased from history. I do see a lot of bullshit being taught as history. For instance – if you learned that Columbus discovered America, that’s bullshit. If you learned that the US is good and anything that it does is righteous, that’s bullshit too. If you believe, like Bill O’Reilly does, that slaves were “well fed and had decent lodgings” (18). Or like Trump, you believe that Islam is “unfalteringly hostile” to America (19) or you don’t believe that Jews have anything to do with the Holocaust, than, yeah, that’s bullshit. Erroneous beliefs by Conservative politicians could be the subject of a paper all on its own. Number 8 might be the strangest one on her list. What exactly is “forced self criticism”? And, equally as concerning, are you disavowing “white privilege”? Because if you don’t see how white people have all of the power in our society, and that they benefit from a system that is built to promote and cater to them, educating you is beyond the scope of this rebuttal.

 

Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS (AOM), NCCAOM Dipl. Acupuncture

 

  1. https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment
  2. http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/27/world/meast/syria-civil-war-fast-facts/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades
  4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/was-obama-right-about-the-crusades-and-islamic-extremism-analysis/2015/02/06/3670628a-ae46-11e4-8876-460b1144cbc1_story.html?utm_term=.d9492adfdcb8
  5. Ibid.
  6. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/syria-civil-war-explained-160505084119966.html
  7. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/04/14/christian-persecution-how-many-are-being-killed-where-are-being-killed.html
  8. Ibid
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War
  10. http://www.mintpressnews.com/do-the-math-global-war-on-terror-has-killed-4-million-muslims-or-more/208225/
  11. http://www.globalresearch.ca/four-million-muslims-killed-in-us-nato-wars-should-we-call-it-genocide/5470424
  12. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/27/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world/
  13. Ibid
  14. https://theintellectualist.co/cato-right-wing-terrorists-have-been-behind-73-of-all-attacks-resulting-in-death-since-911/
  15. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-trump-100-days-honeymoon-regrets-poll/story?id=46943338
  16. https://news.vice.com/story/trump-is-the-least-popular-new-president-in-modern-times-according-to-two-new-polls
  17. http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/24/politics/donald-trump-white-house-100-day-accomplishments/
  18. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/07/bill-oreilly-and-the-long-tradition-of-slavery-apology/493223/
  19. http://time.com/4658366/donald-trump-terrorism-racism/
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civics, current events, democracy, government, politics

The President is a Crook and a Traitor – And the Proof is Under Investigation

The most powerful person in the world is an amoral grifter. He has a host of other negative traits as well, but this essay will be focusing on the legal battles he is facing.

Trump has a long history of swindling people. It is in many ways litigation is his defining personality trait. Let us not forget that he began his presidency be paying tens of millions of dollars out to people he hustled with Trump University.

It is not unusual for a sitting President to be sued. President Obama faced dozens of lawsuits (1) – Berg vs. Obama alleged President Obama was born in Kenya and that his birth certificate was a forgery, Essek vs. Obama sought to prevent the inauguration of President Obama alleging that he was not a natural born citizen, Kerchner vs. Obama alleged that he was not eligible to be president, Barnett vs. Obama sought a declaratory judgment that Obama is ineligible for office and an injunction to void his actions and appointments as President – and on and on.

President Bush faced Saleh vs. Bush – for crimes of aggression against the Iraqi people and for violating the Nuremberg Principles (2).  1984 saw the Phelps vs. Reagan lawsuit where the former head of the Westboro Baptist Church Fred Phelps sued Ronald Reagan for his appointment of a U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, arguing it breached the divide between church and state (3). Of course, most folks know about the 1997 Jones vs. Clinton lawsuit (4).

And there are many other examples, mostly frivolous. It is also common for lawsuits to be filed by “federal prisoners, political activists or other citizens seeking redress from the government by suing a list of high-ranking officials” (5). This is a category of lawsuits filed as a hail-Mary, in a last ditch attempt to get a sentence commuted or shortened, or by delusional plaintiffs.

So, it’s not unusual for a president to be sued. Although with regards to President Obama a large portion of lawsuits filed against him were straight up motivated by racism.

However, the lawsuits filed against Trump are highly unusual.

Trump is or has been involved in over 4500 lawsuits. Most of them are from before he became president. I am actually going to ignore those, and instead focus on a group of lawsuits that are currently pending that list him as defendant – the big ones being violation of the emoluments clause, inciting violence, and collaborating with the Russians during the 2016 election. My read on this is that there are currently 62 lawsuits naming Trump as the defendant, and just from reading the news everyday I believe that this number will continue to grow.

 

  Current Legal Battles

 

  1. Violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed Jan 23rd, 2017. {The Hill, 18 Apr 2017}
  2. Justice Department and FBI are being sued over President Trump’s tweeted allegation of wiretapping ordered by then-President Barack Obama by a group called American Oversight on Apr 17th, 2017 {NPR, 19 Apr 2017}
  3. American Oversight is also suing the administration to turn over records related to Russian interference in the presidential campaign, integrity of a senior government officials, Reince Priebus’ communications with the FBI regarding Russian contacts with Trump associates and the campaign, and to obtain Jeff Sessions’ list of foreign contacts. { NPR, 19 Apr 2017}
  4. Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah and Henry Brousseau have filed a lawsuit Apr 14th, 2017 that alleges Trump incited rally-goers to violence when they allegedly assaulted protesters during the 2016 campaign. {CNN 17 Apr 2017}
  5. From CNN, here is a list of current pending lawsuits against Trump, by category:

Campaign – 14

Real Estate – 3

Personal Injury – 13

Media/Defamation -2

Golf Club – 3

Employment – 6

Contract Dispute – 3

Casino -1

Difficult to Categorize – 17

This is a great resource for info regarding Trumps lawsuits: https://www.usatoday.com/pages/interactives/trump-lawsuits/

Also note, these legal battles don’t take into account the fact that Trump is under investigation by the FBI for collaborating with the Russians to sway the 2016 election (6).  And not just Trump. FBI Director James Comey stated that the FBI is investigating whether his entire campaign collaborated with the Russians, and includes the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign (7).

The FBI investigation is a pretty big deal. At this time, it’s not clear who is involved and to what extent, nor is it clear what the consequences will be. What is clear is that Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election and should be sitting in the Oval Office now.
Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS (AOM), NCCAOM Dipl. Acupuncture

 

 

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_presidential_eligibility_litigation
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2014/07/11/republicans-v-obama-and-other-lawsuits-against-presidents/?utm_term=.62e7fd672f6f
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. https://www.usatoday.com/pages/interactives/trump-lawsuits/

6.https://www.democracynow.org/2017/3/21/fbi_head_trump_campaign_under_investigation

  1. Ibid.

 

 

 

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civics, current events, democracy, government, politics

A Novel Approach to Politics – My Quest For a New Option

Like many Americans I find that the current two-party system does not meet my needs as a citizen. I want to engage in the political process, but it is hard to get motivated to fight for things that I believe should be obvious. So often, I end up voting against a candidate instead of for one who more-or-less lines up with my ideas about how we should be governed.

One challenge to having another party is that the two-party system has generally met the needs of most US voters. Another challenge to the success of an additional party is that “…the two-party system consolidates power and resources in a way that outsiders of all stripes have been unable to break through.” (1)

Politics and economics are intimately intertwined. Much of what you vote for in American politics boils down to how we should pay for services. There is a fundamental belief in Capitalism as the base for our policies, with the Left and Right disagreeing mostly on how taxes should be levied and spent. I know there are other factors – for some voters the only issue is abortion. (This issue gets an inordinate amount of press coverage seeing as how “over the past several decades, rarely have more than 2% ever volunteered it as a top issue.” (2).

For the last couple of decades there has been growing interest in finding a viable third party to challenge the established Republican/Democrat dichotomy in American politics. I too have felt inadequately served by the two-party system. Since the 2016 election, I have been researching and analyzing in earnest and although I lean Democrat, I can’t help but shake the notion that by-and-large, the Democratic Party doesn’t represent my beliefs. Given the success of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 campaign, it would seem that I am not alone in this belief.

I am a secular-humanist, liberal globalist. What does that mean? Secular humanism is a way of life that adopts a nonreligious worldview. It “incorporates the Enlightenment principle of individualism, which celebrates emancipating the individual from traditional controls by family, church, and state, increasingly empowering each of us to set the terms of his or her own life.” (3). Codified in the Declaration of Independence, it is simply stated as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.  I would expand on this idea slightly to say that I believe that the government exists to help us all to achieve these unalienable rights.

Additionally, secular humanism is a “naturalistic philosophy” that has a cosmic outlook rooted in science (4). This naturalistic philosophy suggests that there is no need for a supernatural explanation for events, that the natural world follows laws that explain all the phenomena in the universe. I would also argue that this worldview does not negate a personal view of spirituality or the existence of a higher power. Only that we ought not try to replace science with fantasy. There is some wonder in the unknown.

Furthermore, secular humanism has a consequential ethical system – “Secular humanists seek to develop and improve their ethical principles by examining the results they yield in the lives of real men and women.” (5).

This leads directly into the next part of my worldview – I am a liberal. Liberalism is a worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberalism encompasses a vast array of beliefs, but generally they support freedom of speech, freedom of the press, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, gender equality, and international cooperation. (6).

My driving belief is that all of us are one people, and that we should look at an injustice to one as an injustice to us all. I believe that we have the resources and the technology to make the planet

Lastly, I am a globalist. A term that is new to me. I became aware of it, ironically, from watching the alt-crazies on YouTube. There are a number of different views on what the definition of globalism is, but I will argue for this one – a ideology that “… tends to advocate for such policies as increases in immigration, free trade, lowering tariffs, interventionism and global governance. It is typically viewed as opposite of nationalism.” (7).

I believe that the only way for humans to advance is to start thinking and acting like we all are in this together and we all share the same fate if it doesn’t work out. Walls and borders have never worked – from Jericho to the Berlin Wall and from Hadrian’s Wall to the Great Wall of China. There is no way to keep people and ideas from intermingling and the attempt to stop it creates strife.

I have never understood why we’d rather spend 100 billion dollars to build a wall instead of taking that money and improving the lives of the people that are trying to escape violence and tyranny. Remove the inequality, poverty, and violence that are the root of the problem.

I don’t profess to have the answers to the complex interactions that make the world what it is. I would argue that it is time for a change and that it is time to grow beyond a tribal system of governance. We can’t continue to have an “us vs. then” mentality. The world is too small and the means of catastrophic destruction are at our fingertips. There should also be a sense of urgency. Not only do we face the destruction of the environment through man-made climate change, we also have the most powerful nightmare-inducing weapons ever created in the hands of incompetent and unstable people.

I would like to end on a positive note, but that would not be prudent. The clock is ticking and we, the concerned citizens of planet earth, need to get involved and restore sanity.

There is no “Planet B”.

 

 

(Note – I will be following this essay up with one that outlines specific stances that a party like this might have).

 

Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS (AOM), NCCAOM Dipl. Acupuncture

 

 

  1. https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-01-27/the-bleak-history-of-third-party-presidential-bids
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bowmanmarsico/2016/01/21/abortion-and-the-2016-elections-how-much-will-it-matter/#12ef89d1381e
  3. https://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/3260
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globalism
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