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cali's Journal
cali's Journal
August 21, 2016

NYT Editorial: How Can America Recover From Donald Trump?

Donald Trump is heading to November like a certain zeppelin heading to New Jersey, in a darkening sky that crackles with electricity. He is fighting crosswinds and trying new tacks — hiring the head of Breitbart News to run his campaign, trying on a new emotion (regret) in a speech on Thursday night, promising to talk more this week about immigration, his prime subject. There’s still no telling what will happen when the gasbag reaches the mooring.

It could be that the polls are right, and Mr. Trump will go down in flames. But while that will solve an immediate problem, a larger one will remain. The message of hatred and paranoia that is inciting millions of voters will outlast the messenger. The toxic effects of Trumpism will have to be addressed.

The most obvious damage has already been done — to the debate over immigration, a subject that is America’s pride but that can also show the country at its worst. Mr. Trump’s solution is to build an unbuildable border wall and force 11 million people out of the country, while letting millions of “good ones” back in. Or maybe not — now he says he wants to bar immigrants from most of the world, except for a few who pass religious and ideological tests. “Extreme vetting,” he calls it, bringing the Alien and Sedition Acts and McCarthyism into the reality-TV age.

Yes, Mr. Trump speaks frontier gibberish. Outright nativism remains a fringe American phenomenon. But there is no shortage of mainstream politicians who have endorsed his message by endorsing the Republican nominee. Anyone hoping to build a serious solution to immigration after this election will have to confront the unworkable ideas and vicious emotions that Mr. Trump, with many enablers, has dragged into the open.

<snip and OUCH>

August 21, 2016

Trump's fundraising boasting as hollow as he is- Filed with the FEC yesterday evening

The details are quite interesting.

By Isaac Arnsdorf
| 08/21/16 01:17 AM EDT

Trump paid dearly to boost fundraising

The Donald Trump campaign's boasts of a formidable fundraising month in July spooked Democrats who feared their financial advantage could be slipping.

But a closer inspection of the campaign finance report filed just before Saturday's midnight deadline indicates the haul came at a steep price, and the campaign was still not dedicating resources to catching up on building the staff and field organization that all previous presidential efforts have required.

Though the campaign touted an $80 million figure for its July fundraising, just $36.7 million of that total went directly to the campaign. The rest came in through joint fundraising vehicles with the Republican National Committee and state parties. But at least $9.5 million of that money is off limits for spending on the election because it's designated for the RNC's convention, headquarters and legal accounts. Plus, the RNC is considering spending its money down-ballot instead of supporting Trump as tensions boil over between the party's apparatus and its defiant nominee.

The money that the Trump campaign raised also didn't come cheap. The campaign more than doubled its spending from the previous month to $18.5 million in July, far more than in any other period of the campaign. But most of that money went toward expanding the campaign's online fundraising operation.

A full 45 percent, or $8.4 million, went to Giles-Parscale, the San Antonio-based digital marketing firm that has done Trump's online advertising. (The company had never worked for a campaign before 2016.) The campaign also paid $100,000 to the Prosper Group for fundraising consulting.

Meanwhile, spending on the 84-person staff and field organizing barely increased from the previous month, to just $392,000 and $432,000, respectively. The campaign dropped much more — $1.8 million — on hats and other merchandise.

<snip, and what the hell is THIS?>

The filing did list a $1,713.40 "contribution refund" to Manafort, who did not take a salary for his work on Trump's behalf.

The consulting firm of ousted campaign manager Corey Lewandowski also continued to receive $20,000 from the Trump campaign in July, despite his firing in June and new position as a CNN commentator.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/trump-paid-dearly-to-boost-fundraising-227236#ixzz4Hx6PHSRx
Follow us: @politico on Twitter | Politico on Facebook

I'm not saying it's chickenfeed, but he lags well behind Clinton and his expenditures make no sense, not to mention that Lewandowski business. And he spent over 4x on hats and other junk than salaries for staffers. Clinton spent over 2 million on salaries.

August 20, 2016

Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Is Convicted on All Counts

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — She was a rising Democratic star. She was the first in her party to be elected state attorney general. She was one of the most powerful women in Pennsylvania.

But on Monday night, Kathleen G. Kane, the state’s top prosecutor, became a convicted criminal.

Update: Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane resigned Tuesday.

jury found Ms. Kane, 50, guilty of nine criminal charges, including perjury and criminal conspiracy, convicting her of leaking grand jury information, and then lying about it, in an effort to discredit a political rival.

Ms. Kane was caught up in a web of scandal and counterscandal, threaded with lewd emails, political rivalries and alleged leaks. It has cost other state officials, including two State Supreme Court justices, their jobs and Ms. Kane her law license, although she has remained on the job as attorney general.

August 20, 2016

And nary a peep of criticism of the greatest country on earth

should be mentioned, unless all fault is laid at the feet of republicans.

Rah rah.

August 20, 2016

Today’s Tech Oligarchs Are Worse Than the Robber Barons

Yes, Jay Gould was a bad guy. But at least he helped build societal wealth. Not so our Silicon Valley overlords. And they have our politicians in their pockets.


Past economic revolutions—from the steam engine to the jet engine and the internet—created in their wake a productivity revolution. To be sure, as brute force or slower technologies lost out, so did some companies and classes of people. But generally the economy got stronger and more productive. People got places sooner, information flows quickened, and new jobs were created, many of them paying middle- and working-class people a living wage.

This is largely not the case today. As numerous scholars including Robert Gordon have pointed out, the new social-media based technologies have had little positive impact on economic productivity, now growing at far lower rates than during past industrial booms, including the 1990s internet revolution.

Much of the problem, notes MIT Technology Review editor David Rotman, is that most information investment no longer serves primarily the basic industries that still drive most of the economy, providing a wide array of jobs for middle- and working-class Americans. This slowdown in productivity, notes Chad Syverson, an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, has decreased gross domestic product by $2.7 trillion in 2015—about $8,400 for every American. “If you think Silicon Valley is going to fuel growing prosperity, you are likely to be disappointed,” suggests Rotman.


What kind of world do these disrupters see for us? One vision, from Singularity University, co-founded by Google’s genius technologist Ray Kurzweil, envisions robots running everything; humans, outside the programmers, would become somewhat irrelevant. I saw this mentality for myself at a Wall Street Journal conference on the environment when a prominent venture capitalist did not see any problem with diminishing birthrates among middle-class Americans since the Valley planned to make the hoi polloi redundant

<snip and much more>

August 20, 2016

Brother of Syrian boy in iconic Aleppo photo dies. Warning: Graphic photo

Ali Daqneesh, the older brother of a Syrian boy whose face has become a symbol of the horror of the country's civil war, died Saturday of injuries sustained in the same airstrike that destroyed the family's home, according to the Aleppo Media Center.

Ali, 10, had been in critical condition since Wednesday, when the blast hit the apartment in the Qaterji neighborhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, the anti-government opposition group confirmed to USA TODAY by email.




August 20, 2016

The New Yorker: Does Henry Kissinger Have a Conscience?


In the run-up to Obama’s trip, Susan Rice, the President’s national-security adviser, had announced the Administration’s intention to declassify thousands of U.S. military and intelligence documents pertaining to that tumultuous period in Argentina. It was a good-will gesture aimed at signalling Obama’s ongoing effort to change the dynamic of U.S. relations with Latin America—“to bury the last remnant of the Cold War,” as he said in Havana, during that same trip.

Last week, the first tranche of those declassified documents was released. The documents revealed that White House and U.S. State Department officials were intimately aware of the Argentine military’s bloody nature, and that some were horrified by what they knew. Others, most notably Henry Kissinger, were not. In a 1978 cable, the U.S. Ambassador, Raúl Castro, wrote about a visit by Kissinger to Buenos Aires, where he was a guest of the dictator, Jorge Rafael Videla, while the country hosted the World Cup. “My only concern is that Kissinger’s repeated high praise for Argentina’s action in wiping out terrorism may have gone to some considerable extent to his hosts’ heads,” Castro wrote. The Ambassador went on to write, fretfully, “There is some danger that Argentines may use Kissinger’s laudatory statements as justification for hardening their human rights stance.”

The latest revelations compound a portrait of Kissinger as the ruthless cheerleader, if not the active co-conspirator, of Latin American military regimes engaged in war crimes. In evidence that emerged from previous declassifications of documents during the Clinton Administration, Kissinger was shown not only to have been aware of what the military was doing but to have actively encouraged it. Two days after the Argentine coup, Kissinger was briefed by his Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, William Rogers, who warned him, “I think also we’ve got to expect a fair amount of repression, probably a good deal of blood, in Argentina before too long. I think they’re going to have to come down very hard not only on the terrorists but on the dissidents of trade unions and their parties.” Kissinger replied, “Whatever chance they have, they will need a little encouragement . . . because I do want to encourage them. I don’t want to give the sense that they’re harassed by the United States.”

Under Kissinger’s direction, they certainly were not harassed. Right after the coup, Kissinger sent his encouragement to the generals and reinforced that message by expediting a package of U.S. security assistance. In a meeting with the Argentine foreign minister two months later, Kissinger advised him winkingly, according to a memo written about the conversation, “We are aware you are in a difficult period. It is a curious time, when political, criminal, and terrorist activities tend to merge without any clear separation. We understand you must establish authority. . . . If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly.”


We have repeatedly reviewed evidence of Kissinger’s callousness. Some of it is as inexplicable as it is shocking. There is a macho swagger in some of Kissinger’s remarks. It could, perhaps, be explained away if he had never wielded power, like—thus far—the gratuitously offensive Presidential candidate Donald Trump. And one has an awareness that Kissinger, the longest-lasting and most iconic pariah figure in modern American history, is but one of a line of men held in fear and contempt for the immorality of their services rendered and yet protected by the political establishment in recognition of those same services. William Tecumseh Sherman, Curtis LeMay, Robert McNamara, and, more recently, Donald Rumsfeld all come to mind.


August 20, 2016

I'm a Judge and I Think Criminal Court Is Horrifying

I love going to court.

There is drama. There is pathos. It is the place I go, as a bankruptcy judge for the Southern District of New York, to uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States, and to administer justice "without respect to persons."

So when my daughter, a public defender, asked me to accompany her to observe a day of arraignments in Bronx Criminal Court one Sunday, I jumped at the opportunity. A busman's holiday—going to court on a Sunday! I assumed it would all be very familiar, similar to what I do and see every day, except maybe with a bit more of a Law and Order vibe.


I was shocked at the casual racism emanating from the bench. The judge explained a "stay away" order to a Hispanic defendant by saying that if the complainant calls and invites you over for "rice and beans," you cannot go. She lectured some defendants that most young men "with names like yours" have lengthy criminal records by the time they reach a certain age.


One young man's arraignment was particularly unnerving: The ADA noted that the defendant's "street name" is "Guns and Butter," and then proceeded to refer to the young man not as "the defendant" or by his given name, but rather as "Mr. Guns and Butter." The judge made a thinly veiled attempt to hide her giggles, while the court officers made no attempt whatsoever to subdue their outright laughter.


The low point of the day—literally—came when a young man, obeying the court officer's order to put his hands behind his back as he stood before the judge, did as he was told, and his pants dropped to his ankles. Once the court officers caught their breath from laughing, they barked at him, "Where is your belt?" Of course, it was taken from him in the lockup, he said.

So much more:

August 20, 2016

The hate for whistleblowers so prevalent in Democratic circles is disturbing.

Put aside Julian Assange if you can, and focus on the bigger picture.

The federal government is at war with whistleblowers. Trying to hold government accountable for malfeasances is nigh on impossible under the law.

Consider the case of Jeffrey Sterling, for example.

Locked away in federal prison, Jeffrey Sterling is struggling to keep his demons at bay. The former CIA officer whose case came to signify the Obama administration’s crackdown on leakers spends his days reading, tutoring fellow inmates and finishing a memoir, which he says he has to write by hand and mail home so his wife can type it.

“There is no sugarcoating it for me,” Sterling said. “I’m in prison.”

Sterling said he wants the public to know that he has “survived with my head held high.” But he concedes that he feels low on some days. He was a CIA officer, helping run an operation to sabotage Iranian plans to design a nuclear weapon. Now he’s Inmate No. 38338-044 in Englewood, Colo., taking classes on checking and saving accounts to help increase his chances of eventually being released to a halfway house.

“I am doing my best,” he wrote in a recent message, “to hang on.”

Much more:


Whistleblowing protections in the U.S. are weak. Whistleblowing within a department of government is often akin to the police policing itself: there's motive to protect the agency in question.


The US Supreme Court has stripped whistleblower protections for most government workers. Garcetti v. Ceballos is a decision that indicates that first amendment protection for free speech does not apply to situations that fall within the scope of the job description associated with the employment of each individual government worker. The Supreme Court decision means that government management may discipline government employees that disclose crime and incompetence under certain circumstances.

Job related functions are supposed to be disclosed to management by grievance (usually through the union), to the Inspector General, to the [Office of Special Council], to appointed officials, or to elected officials. This is counterproductive when the employer has violated the law, and agencies responsible for enforcement actions are often not funded.



On Leak Prosecutions, Obama Takes it to 11. (Or Should We Say 526?)





The hypocrisy of applauding whistleblowers in Republican administrations and demonizing them under Democratic ones, leads us in a dangerous direction.

August 20, 2016

US cuts military advisers to Saudi-led coalition in Yemen

RIYADH: The U.S. military has slashed the number of intelligence advisers directly supporting the Saudi-led coalition's air war in Yemen, the U.S. Navy said Saturday, after concerns over civilian casualties.

The reassignment of personnel, around June, occurred because "there was not the same sort of requests coming in for assistance" from the Saudis, Fifth Fleet spokesman Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey told AFP from Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia has faced repeated criticism from rights groups over civilian casualties in its 17-month campaign against rebels in Yemen.

U.S. officials have regularly urged their major Middle East ally to avoid harming non-combatants in Yemen.

But McConnaughey said the U.S. reassignment of personnel does not affect their ability to support the Saudis and is a more efficient allocation of resources.

"That's the main reason behind it, and it's based on the amount of requests that we receive from the Saudis."



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