John Oliver's Last Week Tonight back-to-school segment on charter schools Sunday was a welcome window into the world of education "reform" grifters. (I just found time to watch it last night.) Griftopia, as Matt Taibbi defined it:
There really are two Americas, one for the grifter class and one for everybody else. In everybody-else land, the world of small businesses and wage-earning employees, the government is something to be avoided, an overwhelming, all-powerful entity whose attentions usually presage some kind of financial setback, if not complete ruin. In the grifter world, however, government is a slavish lapdog that the financial companies that will be the major players in this book use as a tool for making money.
Only Taibbi's focus on financial firms was a bit narrow. That grifter philosophy has traveled far beyond Wall Street. Corruption has trickled down.
Anyone who has been reading my posts already knows what a con I think the charter school industry is. Still, it was gratifying to see Oliver give it the prime-time mistreatment it deserves.*
"Charters are basically public schools that are taxpayer-funded but privately run," Oliver explained. "The first ones emerged 25 years ago as places to experiment with new educational approaches." Today, over 6,700 charter schools educate nearly 3 million students. But many of these institutions fail at an alarming rate: In 2014, Naples Daily News found that, since 2008, 119 charter schools had closed in Florida – 14 of which didn't finish their first year.
Oliver focused much of his attention on Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, three states with especially depressing charter track records – including negligence in the approval process and school executives embezzling funds.
The impulse among conservatives to privatize everything involving public expenditures – schools included – is no longer just about shrinking government, lowering their taxes and eliminating funding sources for their political competitors. Now it’s about their opportunity costs, potential profits lost to not-for-profit public-sector competitors. It’s bad enough that government “picks their pockets” to educate other people’s children. But it’s unforgivable that they’re not getting a piece of the action. Now they want to turn public education into private profits too.
Aside from the happy talk about experimentation and free-market competition (you may genuflect now), the smokescreen that obscures some of the worst results of lax oversight is the notion that these schools run as non-profits. But nonprofit doesn't mean no cash flow. Oliver points out (and this is not unique) how the president of the Richard Allen charter chain in Ohio contracted oversight of its schools to a nonprofit she founded and who contracted $1 million in management and consulting firms she also founded.
That is, some nonprofit charter schools operate with tax money the way Donald Trump funnels campaign expenditures back into his family-run businesses. Nearly a fifth of what the campaign spent in May, according to the New York Times.
* For the sake of the few good, parent-organized and community run charters out there, I make a distinction between charter schools and the charter school movement or industry. Oliver sets aside discussion of whether charters are a good idea in principle to examine how they operate in fact.
Donald Trump is a bigot, there's no other way to get around it," Blow said. "Anybody who accepts that, supports it. Anybody supports it is promoting it and that makes you a part of the bigotry itself. You have to decide whether or not you want to be part of the bigotry that is Donald Trump. You have to decide whether you want to be part of the sexism and misogyny that is Donald Trump."
Levell responded by accusing Hillary Clinton's campaign of creating the "false facade" that Trump is a racist.
"I'm not part of the Clinton campaign," Blow interjected. "I'm a black man in America and I know a bigot when I see a bigot."
ROGER STONE: I think she’s a Saudi asset. The media keeps saying her mother’s a prominent feminist. No. Her mother's a prominent advocate for genital mutilation. She has written extensively about genital mutilation.
ALEX JONES: Did Huma have her genitals cut off?
STONE: That I cannot tell you. But what I can tell you is --
JONES: I mean it's fair, I don't mean that to be crass!
Trump has been mainlining Jones and Stone's garbage for years, starting with the birther bullshit.
He's right in there with him. This is as low as it gets.
Note that they also call Chelsea Clinton Webb Hubbel's daughter.
[C]ommencing in February 2016, Bill O’Reilly (“O’Reilly”), whom Tantaros had considered to be a good friend and a person from whom she sought career guidance, started sexually harassing her by, inter alia, (a) asking her to come to stay with him on Long Island where it would be “very private,” and (b) telling her on more than one occasion that he could “see [her] as a wild girl,” and that he believed that she had a “wild side.” Fox News did take one action: plainly because of O’Reilly’s rumored prior sexual harassment issues and in recognition of Tantaros’s complaints, Brandi informed Cane that Tantaros would no longer be appearing on O’Reilly’s Fox News show, The O’Reilly Factor.
That's from former Fox personality Andrea Tantaros's sexual harassment complaint against the network. It's ugly. O'Reilly, of course, is the second big name in her suit. The first is Roger Ailes, of course. She also claims that the new head honcho, Bill Shine was aware and told her to keep her mouth shut.
She describes the place this way:
“Fox News masquerades as defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.”
You know, this is not surprising to most women. It comes through loud and clear to me anyway. I worked in Hollywood for many years and this was ... the way it worked. I think many workplaces have changed, particularly as women have ascended into positions of power. Clearly not all, however. In fact, I'd guess it's still more common than you'd think.
“I mean, they should come first. You were born in this country. You were born here legally. You’re here legally. I mean, wages have been stagnant for the last 15 years and it’s because you have, you know, Syrian refugees coming in. It’s because you have, you know, thousands of people coming over the border. I mean, and Americans are suffering because of it and that’s his point.”
[W]age stagnation is not something that started 15 years ago, despite what Eric Trump thinks. Rather, as the Economic Policy Institute notes, it’s been a going concern for about four decades now. But we’ve not had masses of Syrian refugees coming to this country for 15 years, either. The Syrian refugee crisis has only heated up since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. During that time, the United States has endeavored to provide refuge for Syrians fleeing certain death. But of the some 5 million Syrians who have left their country, very few have made it to these shores...
“Syrian refugees have contributed to decades of stagnant wages” is a new one. (To be honest, the Trump campaign criticizing the lack of wage growth is a new one, as well.) Suffice it to say, as the Economic Policy Institute points out, “wage stagnation is largely the result of policy choices that boosted the bargaining power of those with the most wealth and power,” and that “better policy choices, made with low- and moderate-wage earners in mind, can lead to more widespread wage growth and strengthen and expand the middle class.”
If a politician has “better policy choices” in mind, they will say so. Otherwise, they will blame immigrants and foreigners.
Trump's going to teach them all a lesson. And they're not going to "mess with America" ever again. Believe me.
One of the more interesting story lines of this election season has been watching the conservative movement we've known for more than 50 years try to figure out what to do about Trump voters who seems to be coming from a very different direction. Through the primaries we anticipated that we'd see traditional battle lines forming as the establishment types like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio faced off against the movement doctrinaire right winger Ted Cruz who was the perfect avatar of movement conservatism. Trump completely shuffled the deck, drawing his support from a large subset of Republicans who had formed themselves into a new faction.
The establishment and the movement engaged in an elaborate kabuki dance for many years which had them working together to elect Republicans while allowing the movement leaders to maintain plausible deniability when someone such as George W. Bush runs into trouble when conservative governance failed (as it usually does.) Conservatism can never fail, it can only be failed. And they don't mind losing as much as you might think. It can be very good for business. This quote from movement leader Richard Viguerie says it all:
Sometimes a loss for the Republican Party is a gain for conservatives. Often, a little taste of liberal Democrats in power is enough to remind the voters what they don’t like about liberal Democrats and to focus the minds of Republicans on the principles that really matter. That’s why the conservative movement has grown fastest during those periods when things seemed darkest, such as during the Carter administration and the first two years of the Clinton White House.
Conservatives are, by nature, insurgents, and it’s hard to maintain an insurgency when your friends, or people you thought were your friends, are in power.
Modern conservative movement philosophy was laid out back in the 50s and 60s with books and articles by the original generation of intellectuals and activists such as Phyllis Schlafly whose book "A Choice Not an Echo" was a seminal volume that informed the right for decades. It spelled out the ideology of small government, martial patriotism, "freedom" and traditional values and sold Goldwater as the brave cowboy who would make it happen. Since Ronald Reagan, those ideas have been sold as the "Republican brand" as well.
And frankly, the notion that disagreements over strategy and purity ("people you thought were your friends") which have fueled the conservative movement for decades, is overblown as well. For instance, both movement and establishment leaders had no problem with the dogwhistle strategy of mining the racist white id for votes. Neither did they disagree about the ridiculous low tax and trickle down economic policies that only benefit the wealthy. They had no problem with the hypocrisy of their own leadership when it came to personal morals even as they excoriated their enemies for their moral lapses. These were all strategic decisions the coalition tolerated quite easily. What fueled the movement was betrayal and failure.
Recently some of those Tea Party insurgents actually believed the Republican leadership should be willing to bring down the state in order to bring on the conservative Rapture and leaders like Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, who had up until then been the poster boys of movement conservatism were deemed sell-outs to The Man. Ted Cruz had planned to lead that insurgency to victory or martyrdom. The stage was set for another round of recriminations and fundraising for the movement.
Then along came Donald Trump, a man so completely outside this cozy little system that he isn't even a member of the party. He's a militant, authoritarian, white nationalist who demands that our foreign allies pay protection or prepare to watch the world burn. He rarely even mentions the words "freedom" or "liberty" even when he's extolling the Second Amendment, which he tends to do in moments like the one where he leads the crowd in chanting "Death Wish! Death Wish!" after a vigilante movie of the 1970s.
Although the right wing antecedents to Trump are not hard to find, nobody like him has ever come this far. The establishment is treading lightly, trying to keep a distance without angering his followers. And the movement that spent so many years creating and nurturing their ideology is very off balance. This is an insurgency they don't control and it's very difficult to see how they can reclaim their place in this carefully nurtured ecosystem when the man who leads it doesn't know or care about their philosophy. And neither, it turns out, do his voters, most of whom have been voting Republican for years.
Phyllis Schlafly, now 92 years old, is gamely trying to fit Trump into the old mold with her new book called "The Conservative Case for Trump" in which she apparently compares him to, you guessed it, Barry Goldwater the man for whom she made the case in "A Choice Not an Echo." The book isn't out yet so it's hard to say how she makes that leap but it can't be on a philosophical basis.
Schlafly's fellow traveler Richard Viguerie's associate George Rasley is digging deeply for a rationale to support Trump by claiming that he represents the anti-establishment ethos that first animated the movement back in the 60s, which isn't entirely absurd. Trump is certainly anti-establishment. And he says that Trump is a leader in opposition to what he calls the "New Puritanism" as represented by the #NeverTrump faction who refuse to vote for someone they believe so badly fails the test of decency, competence and conservatism. This is perversely considered a betrayal of the movement because of its lack of ideological pragmatism. (One assumes Paul Ryan would have a good laugh over that one.)
The bottom line is that the conservative movement as we've known it is empty and confused and it may not be able to recover. Indeed, they should start looking over their shoulders because there are some new kids in town and they are speaking a language the right wing evidently wants to hear these days. It's the openly authoritarian white nationalist Alt-Right. When Donald Trump said "I am your voice" at the Republican Convention that's who he was talking to.
As much as the right likes to throw their aprons over their heads and run around in circles screaming "radical Islamic terrorism" like some magical incantation, it's not a serious set of words that means anything.
There are some words that do mean something, however, that it would be nice to hear from sane people everywhere. Joe Biden says them:
"Terrorism is a real threat but it's not an existential threat."
No Sharia law is not taking over and ISIS is not staging a Normandy landing. Islamic terrorism is terrible but it's not taking over America.
Pushed by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly to provide specifics on curbing violent crime in cities like Chicago, Donald Trump said Monday that he would simply put “tough” cops in charge.
“So, specifically, specifically. How do you do it? How do you do it?” O’Reilly asked.
“I know police in Chicago,” Trump replied. “If they were given the authority to do it, they would get it done.”
“How? How?” O’Reilly pressed.
“You have unbelievable—how? By being very much tougher than they are right now,” Trump said. “They are right now not tough. I mean, I could tell you this very long and quite boring story but when I was in Chicago, I got to meet a couple of very top police. I said, ‘How do you stop this? How do you stop this? If you were put in charge,’ to a specific person, ‘Do you think you could stop it?’ He said, ‘Mr. Trump, I would be able to stop it in one week.’ And I believed him 100 percent.”
Further efforts to clarify what exactly this “specific person” would do and what “tough police tactics” are did not get far.
“You have to have a warrant to arrest people,” O’Reilly said. “You can’t beat them up.”
Trump replied that he didn’t ask for an exact plan because he’s “not the mayor of Chicago.”
The conversation then turned to attacks on police officers.
Trump, who has actively courted the endorsement of the national Fraternal Order of Police union and campaigned as the “law and order” candidate said that he would serve as a “cheerleader for the police” as president.
“They are not being respected by our leadership and they literally—they don’t have spirit,” the Republican nominee said. “They lose their spirit. Every time something happens, it’s the police’s fault.”
“Alright. So your tone is pro-police,” O’Reilly said.
“You have to give them back their spirit,” Trump insisted.
“How do you stop the bad guys from attacking them?” O’Reilly asked.
“By giving them back your spirit and by allowing them to go and counterattack,” Trump said.
I guess that's more of his outreach to urban communities. Kellyanne must be so proud.
The idea that he's actually trying to do outreach to people of color is insulting to our intelligence.
[I]f atmospheric CO2 growth suddenly zooms to +4 ppm/year starting with this year's 406 ppm, we're at 450 ppm in 11 years.
Eleven years from now is 2027, and 450 ppm is a game-over scenario. Partly because global warming will have shot well past +2°C, producing enough social, political, economic and military chaos to make a global solution impossible; and partly because if we haven't stopped Exxon et al before then, we never will, and the process will go to termination. That is, we won't stop until we're once more pre-industrial, or worse.
I take 2027 as an early "game-over" date (meaning "game-over" could happen sooner), since this analysis doesn't factor in any of the other ways climate could change suddenly — via unexpected ice sheet collapse, for example.
Here's what the current acceleration looks like on the ground.
In coming decades, U.N. officials and climate scientists predict that the mushrooming populations of the Middle East and North Africa will face extreme water scarcity, temperatures almost too hot for human survival and other consequences of global warming.
If that happens, conflicts and refugee crises far greater than those now underway are probable, said Adel Abdellatif, a senior adviser at the U.N. Development Program’s Regional Bureau for Arab States who has worked on studies about the effect of climate change on the region.
“This incredible weather shows that climate change is already taking a toll now and that it is — by far — one of the biggest challenges ever faced by this region,” he said.
Consider the flood of economic and conflict-zone refugees now entering Europe, then imagine that flood swollen further by an endless stream of climate refugees. The world is changing before our eyes, the physical world and the human world, the world of human society. Climate change, global warming, will drive this change until we stop it.
More from the Post, with some stunning numbers:
These countries have grappled with remarkably warm summers in recent years, but this year has been particularly brutal.
Parts of the United Arab Emirates and Iran experienced a heat index — a measurement that factors in humidity as well as temperature — that soared to 140 degrees in July, and Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, recorded an all-time high temperature of nearly 126 degrees. Southern Morocco’s relatively cooler climate suddenly sizzled last month, with temperatures surging to highs between 109 and 116 degrees. In May, record-breaking temperatures in Israel led to a surge in heat-related illnesses.
Temperatures in Kuwait and Iraq startled observers. On July 22, the mercury climbed to 129 degrees in the southern Iraqi
city of Basra. A day earlier, it reached 129.2 in Mitribah, Kuwait. If confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization, the two temperatures would be the hottest ever recorded in the Eastern Hemisphere.
The bad news isn’t over, either. Iraq’s heat wave is expected to continue this week.
Stepping outside is like “walking into a fire,” said Zainab Guman, a 26-year-old university student who lives in Basra. “It’s like everything on your body — your skin, your eyes, your nose — starts to burn,” she said.
A taste of things to come. Soon this will be Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Southern California, including the breadbasket Central Valley ... and Mexico, even further south, with yet another reason for an increased north-moving wave of refugee migration.
A World War II-style mobilization is the only answer
That's genuinely important, and it's also useful, whether your personal reach is great or small. The more "normalized" the need for a World War II-style mobilization becomes — the more that people agree that we need it — the faster we'll get one. We really do have to give fire back to Prometheus. There's time to avoid the worst as I see it, but not much. We could be essentially carbon-free in ten years with a strong and enforced emergency mobilization. We could also be over the hill in the next ten years and picking up speed at an alarming rate.
The notion that this country will hit rock bottom and turn itself around, that people's basic goodness and decency will reassert itself and America will reinvent itself once again has always seemed a feeble hope. That doesn't mean it won't happen in small ways. As Digby pointed out yesterday, Trump's supporters are defecting.
The line she cited from the Toronto Star that most caught my attention was the former Donald Trump supporter who said, “There was just something off about him.” It reminded me of a strategy for resisting a high-pressure car salesman. Whatever your reasons for not buying now, he's got an answer. Don't like the color? Don't have the money? Whatever. He can fix it. He's got a comeback to keep you from walking. But if the buyer cannot say why she/he won't buy today ("I don't know. I just don't want to."), the salesman has no comeback, nothing to latch on to. "Something just off" falls into that category. The voter has given himself leave to walk away.
It appears that's happening to a lot of Trump's former fans. At Raw Story, Sarah Burris reviewed a Frank Luntz focus group (emphasis mine):
“He was my first choice. But just along the way, he has — I guess you can say he’s lost me,” one focus grouper told Luntz in a video that aired on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday. “I’m not saying there’s no chance of turning but he’s become outrageous. I mean, we all have thoughts, but I think he speaks without thinking.”
No, there is no turning back. Her support for Trump is over. Because something about Trump is "just off."
There was more:
“When he initially began to run, he gave voice to a lot of the frustrations that I was feeling about how government is working or more to the point not working,” focus group member Michael said. “But since then, he’s been running as a 12-year-old and changes his positions every news cycle, so you don’t even know where he stands on the issues.”
Mark jumps in, saying, “I think we’re looking for leadership that inspires all of us to be greater than ourselves.” They've enjoyed eating their dessert first, but are now looking for the meat and potatoes.
"I want his best foot forward," says Janice. "It's a job interview. This is not how you would behave when you're going to a job interview, by throwing tantrums and calling the interviewer names. Or the other applicants."
It doesn't exactly make the heart swell or Sousa play in your head, but it seems Trump's new car smell has worn off. Now people just want a model that doesn't start erratically and won't leave then stranded along the highway.
After a week of “extreme vetting” and “What have you got to lose?” and all the rest of the barely cloaked hate speech spewing forth from Orange Julius Caesar on his campaign trail, here’s a possible antidote:
“I live in the country and I think I want to make one of those bunkers like they used to when we were afraid of nuclear war. Because every time he opens his mouth, I feel like he’s putting us at risk,” said Kimberly McBride, 45, of Louisiana. “I think he’s going to get us all killed.”
McBride, a former teacher with health challenges, is struggling to pay her mortgage and she was drawn to Trump’s economic message. She was aghast, though, when he invited Russian hackers in late July to obtain Clinton’s emails. When he then insulted the Muslim parents of a soldier killed in Iraq, she broke with her husband and flipped to Clinton.
The Khan controversy appears to have been a campaign tipping point. Polls suggest that well over half of Republicans disapproved of Trump’s furious response, which reinforced Clinton’s criticism of his temper.
In a speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday, the father of a Muslim-American soldier who was killed in Iraq says Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has 'sacrificed nothing and no one.'
“He doesn’t act like a presidential candidate and some days he hardly acts like an adult,” said Nick Lucasti, 19, an engineering student in Indiana. “The constant name-calling and slander are not necessary.”
Lucasti had once liked Trump’s outspokenness and promise to improve border security. After the Republican convention a month ago, he decided he could no longer tolerate the businessman’s refusal to moderate his remarks or make his vague pledges more specific and realistic.
“For a while I thought he was very metaphorical — his ‘wall’ was really just a metaphor for him wanting to secure the borders,” said Lucasti, now undecided. “After months of watching him, though, I now know for sure that this guy honestly wants to build a concrete wall hundreds of miles long. Just ridiculous.”
It is impossible to know how many supporters have become defectors. Swing-state polls, though, show a decline in his share of the vote as Clinton’s has increased sharply. In must-win Pennsylvania, he has fallen from 44 per cent in July to 40 per cent today. In New Hampshire, he has gone from 42 per cent to 36 per cent.
“He has been crushed in the last couple weeks,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “He’s losing people from every possible demographic.”
And he is struggling with the right far more than Democratic nominee Clinton is struggling with the left. Clinton has the support of about 90 per cent of Democrats, Trump about 80 per cent of Republicans.
“A lot of the summer has not been used well,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.
The Star interviewed 10 people who have recently ditched Trump or wavered. They cited a wide variety of complaints: his vice-presidential choice of religious conservative Mike Pence, his insistence that Barack Obama is “the founder” of Daesh, also known as ISIS and ISIL, even his rejection of a debate with Bernie Sanders. By far the most common concern, though, was his behaviour.
“There was just something off about him,” said Alabama finance student Frank Smyser, 21, who ditched Trump a month ago in favour of Libertarian Gary Johnson.
Nate Harlan, a 26-year-old Ohio student from a Republican-leaning “lower-middle-class” family, became a Trump supporter after it became clear that Ohio Gov. John Kasich was not going to win. By July, he had grown dismayed by Trump’s “racism,” failure to offer detailed plans and constant pessimism.
“It just seems so much that when he speaks, he’s always angry,” said Harlan, now backing Green Party Leader Jill Stein. “It doesn’t really seem like he’s trying to project this good image of my own country onto me. He’s trying to project an image of ‘you shouldn’t like your country.’ ”
Rhonda Loomis, a Republican former city councillor in Newark, Ohio, spent part of early August begging Trump on Twitter to stop calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas,” stop veering from message, stop tweeting, stop talking.
“Whether you care or not,” she told him, “you lost my vote. I won’t vote at all for the first time in my life. You are coming unglued.”
By Friday, the 57-year-old office manager had found reason for hope. Trump had delivered two consecutive rally speeches from a Teleprompter script. He then visited the site of the flooding in Louisiana.
“I am tentatively hanging on the caboose of the Trump train again. I am ready to get off if it looks like it’s going to derail as bad as it has,” Loomis said. “I guess the ball’s in his court. If he continues to embarrass me: absolutely not.”
Oh, no chance of that.
Just today he was very presidential:
Tried watching low-rated @Morning_Joe this morning, unwatchable! @morningmika is off the wall, a neurotic and not very bright mess!
Like the birthers of the Obama era, Hillary health truthers base their accusations on a convoluted mix of conspiracy theories, exaggerations and outright lies that forces believers to willfully ignore any evidence to the contrary while twisting themselves into logical pretzels.
Ignoring the standard physician's letter that Clinton’s campaign, like most presidential campaigns, has released, they are convinced that the candidate making a joke about rapid-fire questions from reporters in a Washington, D.C., coffee shop in June is evidence that she had a seizure. (Oddly, these truthers must believe that journalists next to Clinton reacted to her apparent seizure by laughing). They also point to a single picture of Clinton slipping on icy stairs as proof of her poor health, while there are literally hundreds of pictures in existence of her climbing steps unaided. The Drudge Report splashed across the top of its page a link to a conservative blog pointing to the fact that a pillow is often found on the seats upon which Hillary Clinton sits, because apparently desiring lumbar support is somehow evidence of a major medical malady. (Unlike Trump, her physician has not declared that she “will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”)
Hillary health truthers have also released fake letters, fake medical records claiming to be from Clinton’s doctor and even a fake MRI.
Just as racism drove birtherism, health trutherism is undoubtedly driven by misogyny. There is an extensive history of demeaning women by calling them “crazy,” not to mention undercutting their ability to serve in positions of prominence and power.
Accusing the first female presidential nominee of a major political party of being brain damaged is simply an attempt to use fake medicine and outright lies to elevate this sexist trope into the mainstream political discourse.
Pushers of these theories will feign offense at these accusations. How dare they be accused of sexism, they will complain, when they’re not saying that Hillary is crazy, just brain damaged. They’re just asking questions. They will say that these queries simply come from concern about the health of the future president. Nonsense.
Hillary health truthers see this as an open opportunity to claim that the potential first female president of the United States is unfit for the job. And as in the case of birtherism, there will be no evidence presented to the contrary that will satisfy those spreading these falsehoods. They will either deny the proof at hand or move the goalposts as they invent new conspiracies.
The media has been put in a bind by these stories. Because the accusations are emerging from the Trump campaign itself, not covering them is nearly impossible. Yet even coverage that debunks this health trutherism also helps to spread it. In that way, even well-meaning reporters providing factual information— even, I admit, this piece— have the potential to give legs to these lies. Once again, the Trump campaign has successfully hacked the media.
That last part is one of the purposes of all right wing smears. They just want to get it out there.
*Cokie's Law is "it doesn't matter if it's true or not --- it's out there." It is based upon this article from an earlier time:
Did Not! Did Too! Wanna Bet?
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 5, 1999; Page C01
"His mother? His grandmother? . . . They're the ones responsible for Bill Clinton's bad behavior?" say Cokie and Steve Roberts. "Please!"
"Here we have her blaming the mother-in-law, essentially, for her husband's philandering," says Tony Blankley on CNN.
"Hillary Clinton should stop playing Dr. Laura," says "Crossfire" co-host Bill Press.
Hold on! James Carville, the president's pit-bull spinmeister, says the first lady never said what the media are ridiculing her for saying. And Carville is wagering $100,000 that he's right.
He will put classified ads in Sunday's New York Daily News and Washington Post, offering the six-figure sum "to any reporter who can show me that Hillary Clinton linked the president's sexual misconduct with his childhood," Carville said yesterday. The offer came after he consulted with White House strategists and Clinton allies who are increasingly worried about calming the summer squall.
"The press corps are savages," Carville added. "This is the worst bull I've ever seen. People don't know that she never said it. . . . You can't misreport what she said." At worst, said Carville, the first lady "alluded to these two things."
Semantically speaking, Carville has a point. In the Talk magazine interview that triggered this week's uproar, Clinton was speaking about her husband's "sin of weakness" and how he "lied" to "protect" her. She also observed that the president "needs to be more responsible, more disciplined."
In the next paragraph, writer Lucinda Franks said she mentioned having read about Bill Clinton's chaotic childhood in his mother's autobiography. "That's only the half of it," the first lady said. "He was so young, barely four, when he was scarred by abuse that he can't even take it out and look at it. There was terrible conflict between his mother and grandmother. A psychologist once told me that for a boy being in the middle of a conflict between two women is the worst possible situation. There is always the desire to please each one."
That was it. The word "abuse," in that context, fueled a media frenzy. And many journalists aren't buying Carville's she-never-said-it argument.
"I read the article closely--she seems to say that," said ABC's Cokie Roberts, who pens a syndicated column with her husband. "The whole tone and tenor is 'poor baby. He had a rough time, it's remarkable he's turned out as well as he has, he has a weakness.' "
Chris Matthews, host of CNBC's "Hardball," said that "Mrs. Clinton is trying to be candid" and "grapple with something very difficult," but that "the White House big shots bigfooted her and said this psychological explanation is not going to work." He said the White House had gone "back into cover-up mode," a move that was "pushing this story into even higher levels of importance."
"I'm on Hillary's side," said Bill O'Reilly, host of Fox's "O'Reilly Factor" and usually a conservative critic of the Clintons. "I didn't see the article as an attempt to excuse his behavior. . . . She was explaining why she stood by her husband."
Why, then, did O'Reilly begin his Tuesday show by talking about "Hillary Clinton's assertion that her husband's upbringing is responsible for his irresponsible sexual behavior"? "That's just a tease," he said. "Basically, I was headlining what people were talking about."
Back on the Senate campaign trail in New York yesterday, Clinton said the article's message is that "everybody is responsible for their behavior," but declined to discuss the topic further. That did little to quiet the debate, with MSNBC's Linda Vester describing it as "a little post-revelation spin."
Franks said Tuesday on "Larry King Live" that she thinks "it's very clear that Hillary sees her husband's childhood as influencing his behavior." On Fox News Channel yesterday, though, Franks said people are misreading her piece and that the first lady "did not link his abuse to his infidelity."
"But she put it out there for people to chew on," countered anchor Paula Zahn.
Carville, for his part, says he will "name names" of journalists who misreported Clinton's comments and invite them to sue him for the 100 grand. But he may be too late.
"At this point," said Roberts, "it doesn't much matter whether she said it or not because it's become part of the culture. I was at the beauty parlor yesterday and this was all anyone was talking about."
In Reversal, TrumpIndicates To Hispanic Leaders Openness To Legalization For Immigrants
In a Saturday meeting with his newly announced Hispanic advisory council, Donald Trump suggested he is interested in figuring out a “humane and efficient” manner to deal with immigrants in the country illegally, according to three sources. -- BuzzFeed News Adrian Carrasquillo
This was exciting news since it seemed to indicate the pivot the mainstream media has been looking for since the primaries ended. So of course they jumped on it:
But before the pixels on the MSM's story were even dry, the right-wing news outlets were reassuring their audience that those stories are all liberal media lies. And we know this since their new house organ, Breitbart News, told them so explicitly.
Exclusive – RNC Official at Trump’s Hispanic Meeting Debunks False BuzzFeed, Univision Reports that Donald Succumbed to Amnesty Activists
"The Trump campaign’s and RNC’s swift dismissal of the inaccurate reports that he would back amnesty for illegal aliens comes after BuzzFeed and Univision falsely reported that Trump told Hispanic activists he would."--Breitbart News, August 21, 2016
The Problem With The Media’s ‘Trump Is Pivoting’ Narrative
by Tyler Cherry. Media Matters
Image by Dayanita Ramesh and Sarah Wasko
Trump's comment on immigration to his Hispanic advisory council was designed for two groups of people.
1) The GOP establishment base. Now they can pretend that Trump is a "reasonable" human being, as least that will be their rationalization for why they voted/supported him.
2) The mainstream media. The mainstream media really want this story for multiple reasons. They finally get to prove they were right: "Just as we predicted, Trump is moving toward the center! Because of this softening of his rhetoric Trump will get the moderate undecided swing voters that might have gone to Hillary." They can now justify taking Trump seriously. Monday morning on NPR Cokie Roberts gave credit to New Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway for this move.
Here's the deal, the media need to take Trump seriously, because if they don't then it shows how outrageous Trump's comments are to rational people. I was watching Trevor Noah on the Daily Show saying multiple times. "Trump's a joke!" He doesn't have to pretend Trump sounds like cartoon character. Also the mainstream media likes a 50/50 horse race, one-sided blowouts are boring to them. Trump gives them three things: conflict, novelty and entertainment. Add in some blood, and he would lead the local evening news too.
What perplexes some people is why this "reasonable Trump" isn't pissing off his base more. It's because Trump's base doesn't believe anything the MSM says. They don't read them or watch them. If they do hear of anything, their own publications explain why the MSM's stories should be ignored.
I love to make predictions since, like all the right-wing pundits on the war, there are no consequences for being wrong. And, like the dirty hippies regarding the war, there are no rewards for being right.
So I confidently predict-- with 112% accuracy--that the mainstream media will be asking when Hillary will start her move right to "the center" where the "Very Serious People Who Know How The Economy Really Works" live. Of course they have been wrong 100% of the time but they still have the ear of the MSM, who represent the .01%. So keep an eye out for any hippy punching or Bernie bashing.
It would be nice to see someone in the media question this conventional wisdom of movement. Why does Trump pivoting to centrist views mean Hillary will move right? Because that is what we have seen happen multiple times in the past? But isn't this election different?
Dance Instructions for Hillary: It's a jump to the left, not a step to the right!
I think Trump's pivot left is a huge opportunity for Hillary to move further left, not right. Imagine that! Actually I can, since I'm reading a facinating book, Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek by Manu Saadia and I've been listening to Mission Log podcasts about the optimistic future Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek postulated.
I'm no Very Serious Person, but wouldn't Hillary get more votes moving to the left than the right? My thought is more votes are available on the left than the right. I know that for Trump there are more votes available for him to move left--to the far right center. (I don't think there is even room for Trump to move Führer further right.)
If Trump moves left and loses, his reluctant GOP supporters can breathe a sigh of relief. They can say, "He wasn't conservative enough!" His true believers can scream, "KAAAAHHHHNNN!!" and then go on to attack Hillary 24/7 with the same kind of violent threats that Trump normalized during the campaign.
If Clinton moves right and wins, conventional wisdom will be proven correct--even if that wasn't the reason she won. If she moves left and wins, conventional wisdom will be proven wrong, but the media and pundits won't acknowledge it. The conventional wisdom will be about how Trump was never going to win anyway.
"To everything, there is a reason. And a time for every pivot, under heaven." -Trump's new campaign staff
The sane comments Trump is making are really for the establishment media. They will report them diligently and bring them up every time a previous conflicting statement is mentioned. You will know when you hear the phrase, "To be fair, Trump recently said.." Or they will credit his campaign hoping that Trump is listening to the "very smart people" Trump promises will advise him.
Tyler Cherry of Media Matters did a great piece in June about the problems with the media accepting this pivot narrative.
I think many of the media want to turn to the camera after an especially egregious ridiculous Trump comment and say, "Can you believe this? Trump actually said this -- with a straight face."
But this is not the Daily Show, and they can't throw back to the studio saying, "Reporting from Washington, I'm Luke Potato, Jon?" Spocko 8/22/2016 12:00:00 PM
Meet the scandalmongers: Judicial Watch
In my piece for Salon this morning, I wrote about one of the old vast right wing conspirators who are back on the scene scandalmongering: Judicial Watch:
Back in the 1990s the political establishment made fun of Hillary Clinton for her comment that the press was missing the real story of "the vast right wing conspiracy" that had been dogging her family throughout her husband's presidency. Any mention of it provoked eye-rolls and knowing smirks among the cognoscenti who were all absolutely sure that it was just more evidence of Clinton's guilty conscience over something.
But she was right. And there was some real reporting on it even at the time although as it was revealed, the Republicans would throw out another shiny object and the press pack would go running in the opposite direction like a herd of gazelles so it was very difficult to get a handle on the whole story. For instance, this 1999 article by Jill Abramson and Don Van Natta in the New York Times laid out the previously untold story story of the small group of conservative lawyers who concocted the Paul Jones lawsuit and were instrumental in pushing the Monica Lewinsky matter, among other things. As it happens one of those lawyers was a fellow by the name of George Conway, at the time the future husband of Kellyanne Fitzpatrick who is Donald Trump's latest campaign manager. The Drudge Report drove much of the scandal and Conway was believed to have been Drudge's main source, most memorably the story about President Clinton's alleged "distinguishing characteristic" which pundits and commentators gleefully discussed on television for months. It's a small right wing world after all.
The book "The Hunting of the President" and the new e-book "The Hunting of Hillary" both by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons, finally put together the overall narrative of what happened. But even at the time, it was obvious that there was a concerted effort, funded by millionaire GOP donors, to throw mud on the Clinton administration in an attempt to either get the president to resign or be impeached. We all know how that ended.
One of the biggest players in the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy was an outfit called Judicial Watch, formed in the early 90s by a conservative gadfly named Larry Klayman. Klayman was a one man wrecking crew who filed more than 18 lawsuits against members of the Clinton administration costing them millions of dollars in legal fees. The most notable of these was a 90 million dollar invasion of privacy suit filed against Hillary Clinton and others on behalf of the "victims" of Filegate, one of the many scandals for which both Bill and Hillary Clinton were completely exonerated by two different Independent Counsels. The lawsuit was colorfully described at the time by Jacob Weisberg of Slate:
Klayman has found an opening to harass his political opponents, inflicting costly all-day depositions on Harold Ickes, Stephanopoulos, James Carville, Paul Begala, and many others...Klayman asks administration officials about whom they date, where they go after work, whether they were expelled from school for disciplinary problems. One 23-year-old White House assistant was interrogated about a triple murder that took place at a Starbucks in Georgetown. Klayman videotapes these depositions, excerpts of which air on Geraldo when Klayman appears on the program, and publishes the transcripts on the Internet. This is in pursuit of a case about the invasion of privacy, remember ...The ultimate goal of the Filegate suit appears to be to inflict this treatment on Hillary Clinton.
That was just one of many Judicial Watch lawsuits, including one in which he sued his own mother for 50k, that went nowhere. But they did achieve their true purpose which was to damage reputations, smear political opponents and inflict huge legal fees on anyone who happened to be in the administration.
Meanwhile, Judicial Watch has continued its work without him. During the Bush administration they made a couple of half-hearted attempts at bipartisan "watchdog" activity by submitting Freedom of Information Act requests for Dick Cheney's energy task force members and the White House guest logs for lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Judicial Watch claimed that the Justice Department was helping to "organize and manage rallies and protests against George Zimmerman," the Florida man who shot and killed teenager Trayvon Martin. In reality, the unit of the DOJ was sent to Florida in order to defuse tensions in the community, and as the Orlando Sentinel reported, they "reached out to the city's spiritual and civic leaders to help cool heated emotions."
Judicial Watch claimed that the Islamic State (ISIS) had set up a terrorist camp in Mexico "just a few miles from El Paso, Texas," facilitating the smuggling of terrorists into the United States. Conservative media outlets picked up Judicial Watch's claim. Authorities in the United States and Mexico rejected the group's fearmongering.
And this is the same Judicial Watch that currently has the press panting over every release of the Clinton State Department emails they've received from their FOIA fishing expedition, rushing on the air and to print based upon the organization's often erroneous and misleading press releases. Tom Fitton, the organization's current president and author of the book "The Corruption Chronicles: Obama's Big Secrecy, Big Corruption, and Big Government" proudly declared, "Judicial Watch has had more success investigating the IRS, Benghazi, and Clinton email scandals than any House committee."
Considering the outcomes of the IRS and Benghazi "scandals" it would behoove the press to show a little skepticism. The history of this group is very clear. The first time it waged its campaign of character assassination against Bill and Hillary Clinton, perhaps it's understandable that the press failed to recognize they were being manipulated by political operatives. The trumped up Obama scandals added up to nothing as well. There's no excuse for the media to fall for it again.
So much serendipity in seeing this Sunday afternoon Slate post by David Rosenberg that I had to comment on it (especially after where we were Saturday night) . Photographer Ken Abbott published a photo study of scenic Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, North Carolina. See the photos here. The more Abbott dug into the history of Sherrill's Inn, the more its recent history intrigued him:
That story began in 1916, when Jim and Elizabeth McClure, a wealthy couple from Lake Forest, Illinois, fell in love with the house on first sight while honeymooning and offered to buy it. Jim, a minister, eventually founded the farmers federation in 1920, a cooperative that helped farmers market their products. Elizabeth was a painter who studied in Giverny, France; during breaks, she and her classmates would watch Claude Monet paint haystacks in the fields next to her school. Although they weren’t from the area, they quickly became in important part of the community.
“It was a real Americana kind of story,” Abbott said. “One of the portraits in one of the pictures in the dining room above the fireplace is a portrait of Elizabeth’s grandmother, which was painted by Abraham Lincoln’s portraitist [George Peter Alexander Healy].”
The photos are worth checking out. What the Slate post doesn't tell you is that the family also has a rich political history. "Jamie" McClure Clarke was once the Democratic congressman for western North Carolina:
Born in Manchester, Vermont, Clarke grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. Clarke graduated from Princeton University in 1939 and served as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy during World War II in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945. After his service, Clarke worked as a dairy farmer and orchardist in western North Carolina. He became president of the Farmers Federation Cooperative in 1956.
In 1976, Clarke was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives as a Democrat. In 1980 he was elected to the North Carolina Senate. In the 1982 election Clarke was elected to the 98th United States Congress representing North Carolina's 11th congressional district. He was reelected to the 100th and 101st Congresses. In Congress, he was known as an advocate for the environment.
In the 1980s Clarke's congressional campaigns became nationally famous due to his long-running rivalry with Republican Bill Hendon. In 1982 Clarke defeated then-Congressman Hendon by less than 1,500 votes. In 1984 Hendon gained revenge by defeating Clarke's bid for a second term by just two percentage points. In 1986, Clarke defeated Hendon's bid for re-election by only one percentage point.
Although Hendon then retired from politics, Clarke's seat remained competitive. In 1988 Republican Charles H. Taylor came within one percentage point of defeating Clarke; in 1990 Taylor unseated Clarke in another close election. Given his age (he was 73 at the time of his loss to Taylor), Clarke decided to retire from politics.
Hickory Nut Gap Farm is a prominent part of the farm-to-table network in restaurants here. From the website:
The land of Hickory Nut Gap Farm is jointly owned by the six children of James and Elspeth Clarke. In 2008 the land was put into a conservation easement with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. Protected for eternity, the land will remain managed by the family and in the production of their agricultural pursuits.
Some of the six children, now grown with children and grandchildren of their own, remain here at the farm and in the area, while some have moved away to pursue a different course in life. This large farm family gathers often as the draw of the family home and its agricultural heritage is still strong.
John Ager married into the "Clarke Farm" family in 1971. Seeing what a T-party legislature had done to North Carolina since 2011, John ran in 2014 for NC House 115 and defeated Republican incumbent Nathan Ramsey by 500 votes. His first run for elected office was a close race like some of Jamie Clarke's before him. John's seat was one of the three net Democratic state legislative pickups in North Carolina (and across the South) in an otherwise dismal year for Democrats. During the course of the campaign, the family did eventually get John to show up at events with shoes that weren't muddy and to occasionally wear a tie.
This year, John Ager is running for reelection against anesthesiologist Frank Moretz. We were among 300 friends Saturday night at a fundraiser barbecue and barn dance down the road from Hickory Nut Gap at the farm's store. Ager will need the financial help. Moretz is expected to attract outside money. Also, Americans for Prosperity is on the ground here trying to prop up incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory. The Republican who signed NC's notorious "bathroom bill" and the voter suppression bill just overturned in court is running behind in the polls. Down-ticket races this fall are going to be hard fought.
I don't know about you, but I think I need another soother before we start another week of this exhausting election:
Bei Bei, the National Zoo’s youngest giant panda cub, celebrated his first birthday on Saturday with a giant frozen cake—as all pandas do.
The colorful cake—made of frozen apple, carrot and beet juice by the zoo’s nutrition department—took two weeks to create and weighs about 150 pounds. It was adorned with a giant number one.
Bei Bei will officially turn 1 on Monday. Saturday’s birthday celebration also included Bei Bei’s older sister, Bao Bao, who turns 3 on Tuesday, and Tian Tian, the cubs’ father, who turns 19 on Aug. 27, the Washington Post reported.
Early into the zoo’s Facebook Live broadcast on Saturday, Bei Bei had yet to approach his birthday cake, though his mother, Mei Xiang, was enjoying the frozen treat.
There's been a lot of discussion online about where all the Trump campaign money has gone. I don't know, but I understand that sometimes the reporting lags from one period to the other or there can be mis-classifications that confuse things. So, I'm making no assertions about what's going on with the expenditures. This is from the Washington Post:
Trump, meanwhile, had his biggest spending month yet, doubling the amounts he spent in May and June. But the $18.4 million his campaign shelled out in July was still a fraction of Clinton’s arsenal. Nearly half of the money, $8.4 million, went to one company: Giles-Parscale, a web-design firm whose president, Brad Parscale, serves as the Trump campaign’s digital director.
The San Antonio-based company, which got its foothold designing websites for the Trump Organization in 2011, has emerged as one of his campaign’s biggest vendors, taking in $12.5 million so far. In the last few months, Giles-Parscale’s portfolio has grown as it has spearheaded Trump’s belated but aggressive online fundraising effort.
Other large sums spent by the Trump campaign in July went to travel ($3.2 million) and merchandise ($1.8 million). The campaign doled out $773,000 to reimburse various Trump-owned companies for expenses. In all, nearly $7.7 million has been paid out to Trump companies or Trump family members to cover campaign expenditures, filings show.
While Trump’s payroll remained a fraction of Clinton’s last month, he continued to pay one former staffer: ousted campaign manager Corey Lewandowski received his regular $20,000 monthly fee on July 6 – two weeks after he was jettisoned and had been hired by CNN as a political commentator.
I'm still gobsmacked that the campaign is blatantly funneling money back into the family business and bank accounts. Even if it's legitimate reimbursements it just looks ... odd. Supposedly Trump has given over 50 million to his campaign without expecting it back so I guess that's peanuts by comparison. Still, Trump doesn't have to do this. He could pay for these things out of his own pocket but he isn't.
And then there's this:
The billionaire also trails his Democratic rival when it comes to raising money. July was his best month yet: the Trump campaign and two joint fundraising committees it has with the RNC together pulled in $82 million, officials announced earlier this month. That came close to the $90 million that Clinton raised in conjunction with the Democratic party in July.
However, Trump does not appear to be harvesting as much cash from those joint fundraising efforts as Clinton does. His campaign said that that it raised $64 million with the RNC through online donations and direct mail in July, ostensibly mostly small contributions that would be directed to his committee, rather than the party. But Trump’s campaign reported just $36 million in receipts last month. That included $14.5 million transferred from the joint fundraising committees and a $2 million donation from Trump himself, who has now given a total of $52 million to finance his White House bid.
It is unclear why more money was not transferred from the joint fundraising committees, which are not scheduled to file their next finance reports until Oct. 15. The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for clarification.
I will take a wild guess that it's because the 82 million dollar haul is horseshit. Nobody will care in mid-October avout money raised in July so they figure why not lie about what they took in? They lie about everything else.
I would just say again, I hope the vendors are all getting their money up front. That includes you, Conway.
The non-partisan Southern Poverty Law Center sounded the alarm this week about white supremacist groups, on- and offline, citing Trump’s words and actions as signals of support.
The SPLC’s Heidi Beirich, who tracks the rhetoric and actions of hate groups, pointed to the Trump campaign’s pattern of following and retweeting influential white supremacists, giving interviews to explicitly racist media outlets, and repeatedly emphasizing the criminality of people of color and immigrants. She told reporters this treatment “reinforces the core beliefs of the white nationalist movement.”
“For the first time, they feel they have someone running for the highest office saying things they believe and want to see,” she said. “White nationalists desperately fear the demographic changes the country is going through, and they see Trump as their last stand and last best hope for controlling the country.”
Just one example of the creepy creatures now scurrying all over the place:
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.) says he has received a torrent of racist emails and phone calls since a hacker leaked contact information for House Democrats.
“When somebody puts your address on the internet, there are people who aren’t as mentally healthy as we hope they should be and they could do something,” he said Thursday, according to McClatchy.
“It was a lot of cowardly comments. These are probably people who wouldn’t have done it sitting in front of me. They may have been thinking it, but they wouldn’t have said it.”
Cleaver said dozens of callers harassed him with profanity and “the N word” starting on Aug. 12.
The former Kansas City, Mo., mayor said some offenders also called him “a baby killer” or insulted his Methodist faith.
Cleaver added other attacks came via email, with one even appearing to originate from a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) representative.
“Whenever I’m talking about how horrible the phone calls were, I have to remind myself that the first phone call was a classy gentleman who was very nice and helpful,” he said, referencing a man from Raytown, Mo., who warned him his information was compromised.
“He said, ‘Look, I need to let you know your phone number has been put on the internet along with your email, along with your address and along with your wife’s name.' I said, ‘How did that happen?' He said, ‘Whoever hacked your information put it online.’”
Of course this isn't entirely new
Cleaver said he is particularly cautious about threats after an attempted firebombing of his office in September 2014.
McClatchy said Eric King was sentenced last June to 10 years in federal prison for breaking a window at Cleaver’s district office and throwing Molotov cocktails inside. No one was occupying the office during the incident.
Amid the nastiness, Cleaver said, his faith in humanity has been buoyed by the first caller from Raytown, who gave the congressman a heads-up that his information had been compromised.
“Not only did he call to warn me about what was going on, sent me another text to say, ‘Hang in there,’ and ‘I’m willing to talk to law enforcement’ . . . He was a very nice guy,” Cleaver said.
“Whenever I’m talking about how horrible the phone calls were, I have to remind myself that the first phone call was a classy gentleman who was very nice and helpful,” he said.
That tipster, as it turns out, was Sam Dawson, a 57-year-old Republican who first read about the hack that exposed the congressman’s information on the conservative Drudge Report website.
“I didn’t do it expecting anything out of it, just common courtesy,” said Dawson, a stay-at-home dad of three kids. “People’s politics are politics,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean you have to do that kind of thing to people.”
This is ugly but something we should expect when a white nationalist runs for president and wins the nomination of one of the two major American parties.