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grantcart

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Member since: Sat Jan 5, 2008, 08:45 PM
Number of posts: 43,274

Journal Archives

While everyone was reacting to "US murders like Putin" BS, Trump caved on taking on the ACA in 2017

The ACA was going to be done on the first day, finished, period.

In the O'Reilly interview Trump conceded that there isn't going to be any change this year and they are going to start with a new "replacement" sometime next year.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-obamacare-replacement-plan-could-take-until-next-year/


President Trump is giving an extended timeline for when his administration could be expected to roll out a new plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), former President Obama’s landmark healthcare legislation.

In an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that aired Sunday, Mr. Trump made the vague assertion that it could take “’til sometime into next year.”

Trump's likely Supreme Court Nominee leaked (Ha!)

https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/sesROsjRu_wLiXqqnKcJDQ--/aD00MTI7dz02MTg7c209MTthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg--/

A draft of the proposed announcement has been leaked:



"Judge Stern is not just a friend of mine but an experienced judge who has demonstrated before the American people that he has one of the best judging mines in the world. He is very judgemental, a key quality that a judge must have. Judge Stern doesn't have to look for presidents or look up things in legal books. He can just look at someone and know if they have talent. Look at his wife, Beth Ostrosky Stern is a 10, if you want to see just how good a judge is look to see how hot his wife is, I mean come on what could be more important than that.

Stern is going to be great, he is going to make the Supreme Court great again. We can bring in cameras and put it on pay-per-view and the Supreme Court can start pulling its weight and not just be free loading. This is going to be great. In fact I am probably going to start arguing cases before these guys myself. I have words, I have better words than they have. I mean who understands what the hell a "demurrer" is. This is going to be huge".

The real price of Trump's cowardice.

In the two years that Trump has been actively campaigning for President there have been five major terrorist attacks in Europe, 3 in France, 1 each in Belgium and Germany. In addition there have been a number of other minor attacks and the total number of casualties is over 300 dead 1200 wounded.

In response Europe has not succumbed to fear but embraced and continued to take in large numbers of refugees, many more times than the US.

In a time of real crises Roosevelt calmed the nation by reminding it that it had nothing to fear but fear itself.

Even though during the same time period the US has a statistical negligible exposure to terrorist attacks Trump has stoked fear and like a coward has cut and run. Europe has stood up and America is now cowering.

Here is what now haunts the sentient part of the United States; Should the US be the target of another major terrorist attack (which his actions have made more likely) this coward will not be looking for multilateral approaches to fight ISIS but turn to the military and demand Tactical Nuclear responses.

By inserting Bannon into the NSC and taking out the Joint Chief and the Defense Secretary he is politicising weapons of mass destruction and turning the US into an unstable military power that operates on a hair trigger of fear and reaction.

Stopped by the nearest Mosque, made a few friends and dropped off a note.

Dropped by my nearest mosque, made a few friends and dropped off this note:

As-salamu alaykum,

On this day where the President of the United States attempts to codify bigotry that is contrary to the spirit of Declaration of Independence, the advice of the founding fathers and the letter of the Constitution I would like to simply say,

I stand with you.

As someone who follows a different faith tradition I would like you to know that there are many who share in the disgust of the President’s opprobrium. I have been privileged to live and work with Muslims in Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Some of that work involved working with Muslims to assist Vietnamese refugees, Cambodians to assist Muslim refugees and people of different traditions to assist Afghan and Iranian refugees that resettled into the United States.

I know Muslims who have worked for the US government for decades to fight against our common enemies. They will no longer be able to visit the US.

The actions of the President will not stand. They will be ridiculed by people who will resist religious bigotry and by people who have lived and worked with people outside the US and understand that the President’s arguments lack facts, wisdom or maturity.

We all know that this administration is a temporary occupier of the Presidency and that successors will return to the traditional expression of American values of religious tolerance, international friendship and embracing a search for universal moral self evident truths.

The greater problem is in educating the millions of his supporters who continue to engage in bigotry. Even though they remain a minority of the country they are a constant drag on progress not only against Muslims but also against people of color and the poor.

They do not know that Muslim scholars and philosophers have been instrumental in the foundation of Western values, philosophy and science. They do not know of Ibn Rushd whose original works on Aristotle and Plato were the foundation of Western Civilization’s re-integration of their work after the Dark Ages.

They do not know of ibn Musa al-Khwarizimi whose work translated into Latin laid the foundation for Western mathematics. When someone says that they want to eliminate Arabic influences in our education system I ask “how are we going to run computers on Roman Numerals?”.

They are not aware that much of Sir Isaac Newton’s work was drawn directly from Alhazen who laid the foundations of the scientific method six hundred years before Bacon and Newton would borrow heavy from his works.

From Aristotle to Ibn Rushd to ibn Musa al-Khwarisimi to Alhazen to Bacon to Newton the advance of civilization has always been the result of a free exchange of ideas that requires not just the free interaction of people from different traditions but a hunger for friendship among all peoples.

Influenced by thinkers from various cultures, different religions, all races we all toil under the same sun face the same moral challenges, the same test of bravery for defending principle and the same pursuit of Truth. Ultimately we all face the same end where we leave a legacy for standing for compassion, understanding and truth against fear, bigotry and lies.

President Roosevelt advised that “All we have to fear is fear itself”. While Trump has succumbed to that fear please be assured that millions of us stand with you.

In solidarity with American Muslims,

grantcart

Why Donald Trump is 100% wrong about his claims about vetting of refugees

Trumps groundless calls for increased vetting of refugees has the same foundation of fact that his claim for widespread voter fraud, without any foundation whatsoever.

The facts are that people who enter the United States under refugee application are MUCH more carefully vetted than other visitors, like students, business people, or tourists. The process requires multiple levels of scrutiny for refugees over a lengthy process in camps where there is a large and motivated community to assist in vetting while other types of visas go through a single examination of assets, application and interview.

To understand the process you need to understand that there are two types of asylum for refugees: Countries of First Asylum and Countries of Second Asylum. With a few exceptions virtually all of refugees resettled into the US are the result of Second Asylum.

Second Asylum Processing.

Since World War II understanding how to assimilate refugees has become very sophisticated and is based on two important principles, they are:

1) The best possible solution is for the refugees to receive immediate protection (in First Asylum Countries) and work to pacify the situation so that refugees can return to their country of origin.

2) In the case where return is not possible then all efforts will be made for family reunion.

While all Second Asylum countries have various levels of support to assist refugees integrating into their new society (Scandinavian countries, for example need extended support to assist in difficult language adjustment) it has been well established that reuniting with relatives, even distant relatives like 2nd cousins, is a ‘force multiplier’ that makes successful integration much faster.

For this reason refugees entering into a First Asylum camp will first meet with a UN worker to establish a detailed family tree and an initial interview. This tree is compared with other family statements that are made in multiple camps. They are repeatedly told that if they misrepresent any facts it could make resettlement impossible.

These dossiers are made available to the resettlement countries assigning any country that has a family member the first option. For the US the next step is an interview with a service contracted with the state department. There are a dozen but the most well known are Catholic Refugee Services and IRC. The people who interview the refugees do this full time for years on end and like anyone who does the same thing over and over again become very skilled on discerning deception. Working with the caseworker is a trusted national that provides translation assistance and also skilled at evaluating statements of fact.

If the applicant family is a candidate for resettlement it then goes to a State Department Refugee Officer who has consular experience. The names of relatives and known associates are run through data bases developed by the CIA and anyone with an unusual connection or question is red flagged for extensive review.

One of the key elements that is overlooked in the hyperbole is that the process usually takes 2 years and during that time must live in a community of refugees from the same area who are highly motivated to find any enemies for two reasons. The first is that anyone from the regime (or ISIS) that is trying to go to the US is also the same enemy that caused them to lose their home and as you can imagine these people are filled with hatred for people from the regime/ISIS that caused them so much harm.

Secondly if you provide information that correctly reveals a terrorist (or a Viet Cong, for example) to the US you will immediately go to the front of the line and be resettled immediately. The fact is that the refugee camps had the best information because these were the communities where people closest to the US were already leaving.

For example in resettling refugees from Vietnam we would get information about Viet Cong that were planning to join the exodus (ironically the Viet Cong were harshly treated by the North Vietnamese) BEFORE they even left country. There were numerous cases where VC who tried to mix in with other refugees were identified at sea before they even reached the refugee camp.

Over the last 30 years we have resettled more than 1 million refugees including large numbers from Islamic countries and the record shows a very successful record. The median income for whites in the US is $ 59,698 while Vietnamese, for example, is $ 59,405.

The reality is that if someone intended to enter the US for terrorist operations it would be much easier and several years faster to enter as a student, travel ling businessman or a tourist than as a refugee and you only have to look at the 19 involved in the 9/11 attacks to see the proof.

The call for suspending refugee resettlement until better vetting methods are in place is another Trump lie.

They are again using fear and security concerns to promote racial and religious bigotry.

I was moved by President Trump's reference to "American Carnage".

I was moved to take care of the terrible burden I have and was moved to go to the kitchen and clean the dishes in the sink and presto 'Carnage gone'.

While cleaning the dishes I thought of the Carnage I have seen in Vietnam when I entered after the NV Army had liberated the south. Three years later and still seeing elderly Vietnamese picking through the garbage to find a scrap. At night thousands of families appeared at night in the street to vie for space under the building overhang to try and minimize the effects of the monsoon. They were a small part of the tens of thousands that were relocated to 'New Economic Zones'. City dwellers that were sent to rural areas without the equipment or skill to raise crops

How many refugee camps did I see? More than a dozen tent cities with at least 30,000 and dozens of smaller ones. People crawling out of the killing fields of Cambodia. Rural areas that were waiting for electricity. Isolated islands that had tens of thousands of rats. Carnage upon carnage. And how many of those people did I hear complain about being collateral damage? Not one.

I thought of the Carnage I have witnessed not directly related to war. Too much to list. The most shocking was sitting in a traffic jam in Jakarta and looking off the main street to a long street with a canal in the middle and a series of small aluminum sheets above the canal. It took me a while to figure out that it was the sewage system for that part of the city. People walking out to releave themselves with minimal privacy.

I could go on but you know about it, you know about the completely needless Carnage of Iraq.

All that I have witnessed first hand but I have never heard as much sell pity as Trump put into the Inaugural black cloud of Trump. Under President Obama the DJI went from 6700 to 19,900 in the greatest accumulation of capital in the history of Capitalism. In 2013, the first full year of the ACA, the DJI goes up an astounding 4,000 points, and incredible 38%.

Never in history has a group of people accumulated so much wealth. And then they play the victim card, entitled white men have been treated so unfairly.

Paraphrasing JFK

Entitled white Americans don't ask what you can do for the country ask what more the country can do for you.
The torch has been passed to a new group of self congratulatory phony religionists who proudly proclaim that they will not pay any price to advance human rights and commit to bear no burden, avoid all hardship, disappoint all friends, collude with any foe, to undermine liberty and perpetuate their privilege.

Here is JFKs stirring promise to people suffering real carnage:

"To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves . . .because it is right.. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.".

My dishes are clean, the Carnage is gone. My personal circumstances are reduced because of health limitations (not serious but I have to stay in a low gear) but I am grateful for the benefits of living in the richest country in the world and having cheap electricity, clean reasonable housing, great libraries, Internet, safe food supplies at a reasonable cost.

Think of the sacrifice of the men who charged Normandy and compare it to the whiney bleating of the President. The real Carnage that is on display is the Carnage to the dignity of the office he occupies. He is the smallest American.

What the Russians are likely to have (from a honeypot survivor)


Reasonable deductions based on known Russian practices:

1) The reason that so many intelligence officers are inclined to give weight to the report that the Russians have something on Trump without having seen actual evidence is based on the fact that the Russians are so good at it. Russians are to entrapping people as the Jordan era Chicago Bulls was to basketball.

2) They don’t run a single trap but traps within traps always trying to find a weakness. Like the “Tin Men” dropping a $ 5 bill on the floor they are always searching for each individual’s particular weakness.

3) Taking an objective view of Trump its pretty clear that he has two weaknesses: devotion to his brand and fear of losing Melania. The campaign was initially a brand enhancement exercise and they don’t really hide the fact that his administrations main goal is to advance the Trump brand, which Trump thinks is synonymous to the interests of the United States. Brand enhancement is resistant to blackmail because the “obnoxious frat boy” persona doesn’t hurt him. In the age of Kardashians scandal and salacious video’s can help you generate $ 50 million a year in income.

4) The one thing that does concern him, IMO, is losing Melania and spending the last decades of his life alone. The man doesn’t have a serious circle of real friends. He is not a person who can live alone and he has found someone that accepts him with his obvious faults and creates a haven for him.

5) In order to counter the widely held perception that Russia has the upper hand expect that the summit that is being arranged at lightning speed will have a number of major concessions by the Russians to try and show that they don’t have any advantage over Trump, that Trump is a masterful negotiator and that close Russian/American relations will be great for the US. With such agreement, it will be argued, the US can significantly reduce its contributions to NATO. The real damage to the US will be in the years that follow.

The watersports video probably doesn’t exist or is faked because it doesn’t really match Trump. While he doesn’t have good intellectual discipline he has had good personal discipline in regards to alcohol and drug use (due in large part to the death of his brother at an early age which had a great impact on him). Also people that have that kind of fetish (ala Dick Morris) don’t just do it once but have a habit of doing it over a long period of time.

It is the prospect of losing Melania that is Donald’s biggest fear. He is past the point where it is fun to start over and having a place that you really feel comfortable in is a lot more important at 70 than at 40 and accounts for Trump’s penchant for being home almost every night.

Melania probably has some level of accommodation to overnight trysts but probably would be most upset at another “Melania”, namely someone who has developed an emotionally intimate relationship with Trump over an extended period, especially someone who has higher educational and professional chops that Melania (editing her educational resume on her website reveals a certain degree of vulnerability that she probably has.

An extended relationship with an attractive women with high professional credentials, like a medical doctor from a country close to Slovenia (like the Czech Republic) would be the gold standard of compromising material that would have an effect on DT. It would likely have a seemingly innocent initial contact and the asset would likely voice strong anti Putin sentiments to throw off the target.

Back in 1978 I was one of only 4 Americans in Ho Chi Minh City and had a short exposure to these types of exercises. I went for a single meeting but Air France only arrived and departed on Thursday so I had a 2 hour meeting and 6 days of wondering around. During that time I was able to observe multiple attempts to compromise me, not because I had a particularly sensitive position but simply because they had the people hired and trained and they had to do something.

The seemingly random meeting of a likely working girl was obvious and probably not serious, it was offered so that you would relax your guard and fall for the next one. The first free morning I had there was only one English speaking cab in front of my hotel (there were only 3 hotels in operation at the time). I asked him to suggest some places that would be interesting to go to.

The first was a large shop with lots of fantastic and very valuable antiques. The most famous American to ever live in Thailand had made a major killing after his WWII service in the OSS when he went to China and bought valuable antiques by the boat load. So while the first attempt was for gratuitous sex the second one was for greed. I knew that it was a set up because not only did the owner have a handsome Western style haircut, he also had brand new shoes that could only have come from visiting Hong Kong or Bangkok. The day before I had a meeting with Head Accountant with Air Vietnam and he had come wearing ‘peasant pajamas’ and thongs and it wasn’t for effect either.

My next stop was to a former Seminary that had been converted to a factory making the most terrible beaded curtains that use to be commonly seen in the US in the 50s except these had the most terrible images of Lenin, Marx and Engels. Manufactured for sale in the Soviet Union they were horrible but the cabbie took me around the corner and in one small building and inside it was a gallery of beautiful lacquer paintings that had been made by the Seminary staff that was now unemployed.

Buying antiques could have been a liability for two reasons because a) they could have been stolen from departing refugees and good foundation for a sensational claim that a UN refugee official was profiting from property stolen from refugees b) many SE Asian countries have prohibitions from exporting antiques (Thailand prohibits exporting antique Buddha figures). Purchasing newly made works of art was safe as long as you could formulate a fictitious explanation of your foreign currency exchanges.

Having a Seminary background I was able to confirm that the person running the gallery was Seminary professor and his threadbare shirt, old beaten sandals and caloric deficient frame signaled that it was not government related and I was likely to see him next in a refugee camp.

There were other attempts but the one that fooled me initially at the time was the woman in her mid twenties who contacted me as I was walking around the district where the hotel was. She only approached me when she couldn’t be seen by anyone else, spoke broken English and her hands trembled. She wanted to sell me a large book of stamps. I don’t think that she was part of a set up and I met with her several times, in public and across a table. After a couple of meetings she told me the police had confiscated her stamps and she had borrowed from loan shark and her tears convinced me that she was afraid. I resisted her attempts to go further.

I was very disciplined and always wondered if I was imaging the dozen different attempts that I thought were made to entrap me, including turning the stamp woman into a tool. The thing is that the 2 officers who followed me both fell into a honey trap and were “compromised” except that we were an operational agency and embarrassing an officer didn’t really help the SRV get access to sensitive information.

For Trump he would have been constantly targeted and the runs on him would include seemingly innocent actors who came to his assistance probably helping him get out of an embarrassing situation in order to create the long term bond to develop much greater avenues to control him. Kind of like the guys who tried to play against Jordon and never figured out how many different ways he had faked them out.

Remember this is based on a Republican contracted source.


Discussions about the authenticity of the memo and whether it is a "Dan Rather" type trap miss an important point, the source was not MI6 or CIA but a privately paid for source originally contracted by Republicans.


http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/10/politics/donald-trump-intelligence-report-russia/index.html

CNN has reviewed a 35-page compilation of the memos, from which the two-page synopsis was drawn. The memos have since been published by Buzzfeed. The memos originated as opposition research, first commissioned by anti-Trump Republicans, and later by Democrats. At this point, CNN is not reporting on details of the memos, as it has not independently corroborated the specific allegations. But, in preparing this story, CNN has spoken to multiple high ranking intelligence, administration, congressional and law enforcement officials, as well as foreign officials and others in the private sector with direct knowledge of the memos.


There seems to be little doubt that the material on the internet is from the original memo. Criticisms that the format doesn't appear to be either MI6 or CIA source material miss the point, it was a privately commissioned project by Republicans to find out if Trump could be compromised by material that the Russians had.

This was an effort by Republicans who had serious doubts about Trump to try and vet him before the nomination and whether the material is based on facts or rumors avoids several key points, not the least of which is why didn't the Republicans act on substantial allegations before they handed him the keys to their party.

Is there a video? Did Trump go to that hotel? All of these are questions that Republicans should have asked and answered because after all it is they who financed the operation and found the contractor reliable enough to make the investment to raise the questions.

Another level of irony in a campaign that has surpassed all known parameters for irony.

An Inconvenient Comparison and an unavoidable Concession

While endless PhD dissertations and internet autopsies will dissect this low point in American history we must accept certain bottom line assessments:

While there are many good and many intelligent people in this country the government's power and leadership does not inherently fall in the parameters of "good" or "intelligent".

I am struck how the theoretical visitor from another planet would see many comparisons between the US and Islamic Republic of Iran. Both have elections but neither have direct democratic elections. Both have extreme divisions between hyper religious rural areas and highly educated urban populations with hard working and stable middle class populations. Iran prevents direct elections by means of a cleric class that restricts but does not control democratic elections while the US has an electoral college and a Senate that gives extreme weight to rural areas where clerics "control the herd".

Both have elected unstable, irresponsible and dangerous populists (Ahmadinejad/Trump)

I am not anti Persian. I assisted 5,000 Iranians trapped outside of Iran at the time of the Revolution find new homes in the US and other countries in Thailand in the 1980s. If I am in an airport and see someone I think might be from Iran waiting for a plane I will try and engage them and have been rewarded with many interesting and vigorous discussions.

I have to agree however with those that have concluded that the Government of Iran doesn't have the maturity to control the immense lethal destruction of a nuclear bomb. There is simply too much extremism, volatility and instability to allow for the possibility.

I also don't want to diminish the horror that still exists in parts of the Iranian Revolutionary movement including the persecution of religious groups like the Baha'i or to over do the comparison between the two countries as we still have constitutional safeguards which have successfully prevented our religious extremists from going too far.

My point is simply that the election has brought the comparison between the two countries much closer, too close.

It is close enough that we must now accept that whatever the baseline level for an acceptable level of maturity, wisdom, restraint, intelligence, truthfulness or comity that must exist as a minimum requirement for a nuclear power that we have slipped way below that line.

When we all agreed that Mr. Trump did not have the disposition to hold the nuclear codes (even among many of his supporters) and he is still elected President we must now face that there are two variables in that premise and if Trump in fact gets the office then the only responsible alternative is that we remove the nuclear codes.

The United States should now undertake the necessary steps to remove its nuclear capability. With our advanced tactical "smart" weaponry we don't need them to land a bomb in a leader's bedroom or the command center for an army.

For the same reason that we object to Iran holding a nuclear arsenal the US must now accept that it no longer sits at the adult table and that those sitting at the kids table should not leave nuclear weapons for people with the temperament of 7th graders. The US must unilateral get rid of its nuclear arsenal with all deliberate speed.

The "How many states do you think 538 will get wrong?" poll

The famed 538 model evolved from baseball (and then football, etc) where a regular schedule uses a steady flow of information of equal quality. It suffers during primaries where quality and quantity are at odds. The quality of polls suffers as election day draws closer as Republicans flood results from Republican pollsters who have not been active previously and appear to be aimed at raising voter turnout among Republicans in key swing states.

The state polls simply are not in line with SOME of the national polls as discussed here

http://www.democraticunderground.com/12512589061

You can’t have state polls showing an aggregate huge margin (i.e. NY/CA up 20 and Texas down 10, etc) and a national poll at 3 points or less. To make the state polls come in line with the national Silver makes manual adjustments which have been running 2-3 points for Trump.

FiveThirtyEight has doubled down on their logic with this article just out that argues that the early voting in NV could be wrong and their polls right because there is large numbers of Democrats voting for Trump (even though the state polls that they prefer in fact don’t show that) I don’t know how they justify Nevada going blue for the Senate but Red for the Presidential election.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/has-trump-already-lost-nevada/?ex_cid=2016-forecast

Being a registered Democrat doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to vote for Clinton. If Trump is winning more registered Democrats than Clinton is registered Republicans, the early vote data in Nevada may not mean what we think it means. Indeed, some Nevada polls (though not all) show Trump getting a higher percentage of self-identified Democrats than Clinton gets Republicans. It’s also possible that Republicans turnout in disproportionately strong numbers on Election Day, despite previous trends


With this logic, which is not based on supportable data, 538 shows Democrats winning the senate race in Nevada and Trump winning the Presidential election.

With 48 hours left 538 is showing the following states red: Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Iowa, Georgia and Arizona for the President

He is showing the following states going red for Senate:

Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana.

In these 11 states how many do you think he will get wrong?
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