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TomCADem's Journal
TomCADem's Journal
March 26, 2017

LA Mag - Theres a Trump Tax Returns March Happening in April, and Its Going to Be Huge

I was thinking of flying out to DC for the National protest on the mall, but I am glad to hear that there is large local protest closer to home.


Might as well invest in that new pair of sneakers. The national farce that is Trump’s plan of action shows no sign of stopping, and neither do the protests. Following the Women’s March, this past weekend’s demonstrations at LAX and airports nationwide, and the announcement of a March for Science, there’s now a Trump Tax Returns March going down on tax day, April 15. (Reminder: You should really get to work filing your taxes.)

Donald Trump STILL has not released his tax returns, which is concerning since the information therein would reveal a lot about our new president. Kellyanne Conway and Trump himself have repeatedly claimed that the American people don’t care about the tax returns. That’s objectively false. (FYI, the petition on the White House website demanding Trump release his tax returns just broke records.) So, as the past two weeks have demonstrated, the most visible way to assert that we do in fact care about the shady stuff Trump is doing, is to gather en masse an yell about it in public.

The march is already planned for at least 34 cities, including Los Angeles, where it will begin in Pershing Square downtown and progress to city hall. Currently the local march is at 16,000 RSVPS, with 39,000 “interested”—which, you just might notice, is more than any other city. Sorry, we get a little competitive.
March 17, 2017

Any Response from Ted Cruz On Trump's Budget?

Ted Cruz's act is to try to out-crazy everyone in order to appeal to the hard right. It will be interesting to see how he tries to get to the right of Trump's proposed budget.

March 15, 2017

There Has Been A Concerted Effort To Discredit Progressive Figures Like Maddow

During the run-up to the general election, this message board was filled with posts consistently attacking progressives like Rachel Maddow from the left for being corporate shills by being supportive of Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump.

However, now that Trump is President, Rachel Maddow has been unmatched in connecting the dots with respect to Trump's Russian connections. Rather than be distracted by Trump's attention grabbing tweets, Maddow has steadily dived into Trump's conflicts of interests and Russian connections, which could be addressed through a full disclosure of his taxes. In response, Rachel Maddow has been receiving some of her highest ratings in the past few years despite the fact that she has not joined in the temptation to follow or rebut the latest Trump talking point. She has been setting her own agenda.

Many folks on this Board have been greatly appreciative of her journalism. Yet, in response to the disclosure of a few pages of Trump's tax returns, which did occur, there is a sudden concerted attack on Rachel Maddow from folks on the "left." Trust your gut and be leery of trolls or long threads with numerous kicks attacking well known Democrats or folks on the left. They are hardly the problem. Trump and his supporters are the problem.


Effort to Expose Russia’s ‘Troll Army’ Draws Vicious Retaliation

HELSINKI, Finland — Seeking to shine some light into the dark world of Internet trolls, a journalist with Finland’s national broadcaster asked members of her audience to share their experience of encounters with Russia’s “troll army,” a raucous and often venomous force of online agitators.

The response was overwhelming, though not in the direction that the journalist, Jessikka Aro, had hoped.

As she expected, she received some feedback from people who had clashed with aggressively pro-Russian voices online. But she was taken aback, and shaken, by a vicious retaliatory campaign of harassment and insults against her and her work by those same pro-Russian voices.

“Everything in my life went to hell thanks to the trolls,” said Ms. Aro, a 35-year-old investigative reporter with the social media division of Finland’s state broadcaster, Yle Kioski.
March 14, 2017

Rachel Maddow Stopped Covering Trumps Tweets, And Her Ratings Soared

It is reassuring to know that their are still folks looking for old fashioned journalism and in depth interviews, rather than the split screen shoutfests that are common today.


The question of how to cover Donald Trump has confounded many people working in the media industry since his election. There are so many areas of the president’s administration that warrant dissection that his near-daily onslaught of morning tweets started to prove something of a distraction from the potentially larger issues at hand.

So Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” made a decision: tune them out.

“We developed sort of an informal, internal mantra … which is that we basically cover [the Trump administration] as if they are a silent movie,” Maddow told TheWrap earlier this month. “I stopped covering the Twitter feed and we started covering only what they do rather than what they say.”

“I really feel like it was helpful to me, in terms of trying to come up with what to talk about every day, and serving up information for our audience that is substantive and not manipulated by people at the White House,” she added. “It was helpful for us to just stop paying attention to what they were saying.”

March 14, 2017

Krugman - Trumpcare vs. Obamacare: Apocalypse Foretold

Krugman calls it given the devastating conclusion that 24 million, not 15 million, people would lose health coverage under the Trumpcare bill. This does not even really address how coverage would be watered down under Trumpcare's relaxed standards of what constitutes coverage.

It is a wonder that any liberals actually believed the troll bots that attacked Rachel Maddow or Paul Krugman prior to the election.


The Congressional Budget Office report on Trumpcare is out, and it’s devastating: 14 million people losing insurance in the first year, 24 million over time, with premiums soaring for older, lower-income Americans — in many cases, the very people who went strongly for President Trump. The C.B.O. thinks it would reduce the deficit, but only marginally, around $30 billion a year in a $19 trillion economy.

Let me offer one assertion and ask two questions.

The assertion is that something like this was to be expected. The C.B.O. came in even worse on coverage than most predicted, but it was obvious that the news would be terrible because that’s what the logic of the situation told us. Obamacare imposes a mandate to induce healthy people to sign up, offers means-tested subsidies to make insurance affordable and expands Medicaid to take care of people with really low incomes. Trumpcare eliminates the mandate, slashes subsidies overall and redirects them to those who don’t need them and sharply cuts Medicaid. Of course that leads to a huge drop in coverage.

Or to put it differently, Obamacare is actually an intelligently designed system, and Republican claims that they could do much better even while slashing funding so they could cut taxes on the rich were always obvious nonsense. Trumpcare is a slapdash, incompetent piece of legislation; but even a much more competent set of people couldn’t have done better given the constraints of Republican Party ideology.
March 9, 2017

NY Times: Russias RT Network: Is It More BBC or K.G.B.?

Given its poor ratings, Russia Today would have collapsed long ago without financial support from the Kremlin. However, as the 2016 election showed, its not about turning a profit.


To many Americans, the impression that RT is an instrument of Russian meddling was reinforced when its programming suddenly interrupted C-Span’s online coverage of the House of Representatives in January. (C-Span later called it a technical error, not a hacking.)

Watching RT can be a dizzying experience. Hard news and top-notch graphics mix with interviews from all sorts of people: well known and obscure, left and right. They include favorites like Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and Noam Chomsky, the liberal critic of Western policies; odd voices like the actress Pamela Anderson; and cranks who think Washington is the source of all evil in the world.

But if there is any unifying character to RT, it is a deep skepticism of Western and American narratives of the world and a fundamental defensiveness about Russia and Mr. Putin.

Analysts are sharply divided about the influence of RT. Pointing to its minuscule ratings numbers, many caution against overstating its impact. Yet focusing on ratings may miss the point, says Peter Pomerantsev, who wrote a book three years ago that described Russia’s use of television for propaganda. “Ratings aren’t the main thing for them,” he said. “These are campaigns for financial, political and media influence.”
March 9, 2017

Russia Today, Glenn Greenwald and Rush Limbaugh Join Forces and Attack...the Deep State?

First, you have Kremlin propaganda outlet, Russia Today, publishing an editorial echoing Donald Trump's attacks on U.S. intelligence, particularly evidence that Russia interfered in the U.S. election.


'Deep State' wins… Trump is being tamed to toe the line

Donald Trump “finally concedes” Russia hacked the election, crowed the US media following his first news conference this week. That seeming turnaround by Trump signals 'the Donald' is being tamed to toe the “official” Washington line.

That line centers on the US pushing a belligerent policy toward Russia.

Notably, too, on the same day, Trump’s pick for the next Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, adopted a remarkably antagonistic view of Russia under pressure from hostile senators during his Congressional confirmation grilling.

Tillerson, who holds a Russian Order of Friendship award bestowed by President Vladimir Putin in 2013, responded to relentless goading from senators by saying that the US should maintain sanctions on “resurgent Russia,” adding that “the taking of Crimea” was against the law.

Together, the shift by Trump and his incoming cabinet toward a more frosty stance on Russia signals that a coercive taming process is underway by the Washington establishment, with sinister implications for supposed US democracy.

Second, frequent Russia Today guest Glenn Greenwald pushes the idea of a secret Deep State shadow government from the "left."


The Deep State Goes to War With President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer

IN JANUARY 1961, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” That warning was issued prior to the decadelong escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further.

This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as “Fake News.”

Their most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss, as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry, and damaging those behaviors might be.

Then, you have Rush Limbaugh echoing Greenwald's argument about a secret Obama shadow government about the deep state:


Limbaugh: 'Deep State' is Obama's 'Shadow Government

On Sunday, Rush Limbaugh described entrenched bureaucratic sabotage of President Donald Trump’s administration as being directed by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Joining Chris Wallace for an interview with Fox News Sunday, Limbaugh drew on Glenn Greenwald’s depiction of the “deep state” in describing obstruction of Trump’s agenda by federal courts, agencies, and the judiciary.

You have to give credit to Russia's coordinated propaganda efforts. They know how to push a talking point across the ideological spectrum. No wonder you can have Putin sitting with both Flynn and Jill Stein at an event.


March 5, 2017

WaPo: Trumps evidence for Obama wiretap claims relies on sketchy, anonymously-sourced reports

Of course, the White House internally is relying on an article on Breitbart titled: “Mark Levin to Congress: Investigate Obama’s ‘Silent Coup’ vs. Trump.” But, outwardly, Trump is again relying on news articles that at best do not support his allegation that President Obama ordered wire taps and, at worst for him, confirm there was an investigation into communications and money between exchanged between Trump and the Russians during his campaign.

Not surprisingly, Trump's statement is awarded 4 Pinnochios. Of course, this does not stop Representative Nunes from using Congressional resources to investigate it.


Only two articles, both with British roots, have reported that a FISA court order was granted in October to examine possible activity between two Russian banks and a computer server in the Trump Tower. This claim has not been confirmed by an U.S. news organizations. Moreover, neither article says President Obama requested the order or that it resulted in the tapping of Trump’s phone lines.

* * *

Moreover, the articles do not support the White House’s claim that these were “potentially politically motivated investigations” led by President Obama. The articles all suggest the FISA requests — if they happened — were done by the intelligence agencies and the FBI. The BBC says the investigation was prompted by a tip from a Baltic country abut possible criminal activity:

Last April, the CIA director was shown intelligence that worried him. It was – allegedly – a tape recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign.

It was passed to the US by an intelligence agency of one of the Baltic States. The CIA cannot act domestically against American citizens so a joint counter-intelligence task force was created.
March 5, 2017

Analysis: The Quiet Response to President Trumps Explosive Claim

This is both good and bad. On the one hand, most folks, even Trump's allies, know that he is full of shit. On the other hand, the bar is lowered once again, so that when he manages not to shit all over himself, people weep with joy regarding how Presidential he has become. The article concludes, "[t]he fact that this pattern had become so established, so normal, was on its own a shocking moment in American politics. It took 43 days into the Trump administration to arrive at this point."


On Saturday, President Donald Trump posed a new question: Suppose the commander-in-chief declared a massive political scandal — and nobody cared?

In a series of early morning tweets, Trump claimed — with no evidence — that President Barack Obama personally ordered wiretap surveillance of Trump Tower and implied he might take legal action in response. He likened the purported scandal to "Nixon/Watergate" in scope and called his immediate predecessor a "bad (or sick) guy."

It was an explosive allegation that raised immediate questions about both the Obama administration's behavior and the status of investigations into Trump associates' relationship to Russia, which the intelligence community has accused of a hacking campaign to aid Trump politically.

And then ... not much happened.

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