The new generation of leaders

The Friday Photo

Decatur High School, Decatur, GA

Students walked out or took a knee on Wednesday because #enoughisenough. I stood with them and for them.

When people don’t mind being lied to

“They May Have Been Phony in the Past But They Are Very Real Now” Sean Spicer on employment numbers released on March 10, 2017

“I’m not in the job of having evidence” Kellyanne Conway on CNN, March 13, 2017

 Sean Spicer said Trump used air quotes when accusing President Obama of “wire tapping” (sic, Trump’s misspelling) phones at Trump Tower. Spicer rolled that explanation out on the same day that the Department of Justice asked for an extension from Congress for producing evidence to support Trump’s Twitter claims. March 13, 2017

What is the core belief that Trump supporters and followers hold that allows them to accept being lied to, day after day, by Trump and everyone in his administration? What does he offer to them that makes being lied to over and over again worth it? These are hard questions that must be asked, and squishy campaign-speak answers aren’t acceptable any longer.

What I’m reading about last night

What I’m reading about last night (link to the address is below from the New York Times):

WAPo: “In describing his bleak vision of a ruined United States exploited by foreigners, Mr. Trump wrote a series of checks he almost certainly cannot cash.”

The ugliest moment in the 60-minute address came when Mr. Trump announced the formation of an office on “Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement,” and then introduced families of people allegedly murdered by illegal immigrants. It was an appeal to raw prejudice and fear that will do nothing to promote the national unity he claims to be seeking. (emphasis added)

WAPO: Fact checking demonstrates that Trump continues to take credit for things he didn’t do, including the sourcing for DAPL pipeline materials

WaPo: Why any glow from last night won’t last very long

WaPo: The word you didn’t hear last night

NYT: Video of the address to Congress and NYT Washington correspondents comments and analysis during the speech and the Democratic response

NYT: Did Bannon and Miller talk Trump away from a pivot on immigration during lunch yesterday?

NYT: Five takeaways from last night’s speech

Jay Bookman at the Atlanta Journal Constitution on pouring money into the military,
“In short, this is not a carefully thought-out strategy from the Trump administration, based on consultation with the experts and our allies. Instead, the man who took five draft deferments to avoid fighting in Vietnam, the man who says that he knows better than the generals how to defeat ISIS and who claims he understands the military because he attended a military-themed boarding school, is offering a military strategy fueled largely by his own deep personal insecurities.”

Who isn’t in the room now?

Gen John Dunford, Jr. left, is the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, and the principal military advisor to the President, Secretary of Defense, and National Security Council. Senator Dan Coats, right, has been nominated to serve as the next Director of National Intelligence.

The duties that the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence include participating in discussions and decision-making in the National Security Council.  Trump has decided that they don’t need to attend unless specifically asked. Their job every day, all day, is to protect our country. They’ve been told to wait in the hall.

Who will be attending National Security Meetings?

Steve Bannon, Trump’s strategist and former Breitbart Executive Director, said in august 2016,“Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

Trump’s strategist, Steve Bannon, who does not go through any confirmation process with the Senate, as Cabinet and other high-ranking officials are required to do, is now a member of the National Security Council. Two men with military and diplomatic experience were sent to the hallway to make room for Bannon.

What are Bannon’s politics in addition to anti-Semitic and misogynist views? In August of last year he told reporter Ronald Radosh,“Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Trump is giving his chief strategist free rein to do that.

The millions of people who have filled our country’s streets, airports, Congressional offices, and jammed phone lines, are doing their part to protect the Constitution and our government from the hands of those who are determined to destroy all of it.

 

If your plane has been hijacked….

This saying has been circulating since the election, and I understand the thinking behind it.

It also reminds me of the passenger-heroes of Flight 93, who overtook hijackers on their September 11, 2001 flight, forcing the plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field instead of its intended metropolitan target.

If your plane has been hijacked, and you know it is on a suicide mission, do you sit by idly? Or, do you organize and try to regain control of the plane, putting it on its right course?

Check the dictionary

The Friday Photo
January 13, 2017

I did some checking on definitions last night. Carl Bernstein, who, with fellow reporter Bob Woodward, earned a Pulitzer Prize for the Washington Post after uncovering and reporting the Watergate break-in and resulting coverup, tagged Donald Trump’s campaign manager and staffer Kellyanne Conway, as the incoming administration’s Propaganda Minister. Bernstein bestowed that title following her complex and unsuccessful verbal gymnastic routine with Anderson Cooper over Trump’s media event on Wednesday.

I googled Propaganda Minister and the second listing was:

Jospeh Goebbels

Jospeh Goebbels served Adolf Hitler as the Reich Minister of Propaganda of the Third Reich.

Kellyanne Conway, staffer for Donald Trump (photo posted on RawStory credited to CNN)

Another word getting lots of use in recent months is gaslighting. Wikipedia definition: Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of manipulation through persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying in an attempt to destabilize and delegitimize a target. The online resource goes on to offer examples: Sociopaths and narcissists frequently use gaslighting tactics. Sociopaths consistently transgress social mores, break laws, and exploit others, but typically are also convincing liars, sometimes charming ones, who consistently deny wrongdoing. Thus, some who have been victimized by sociopaths may doubt their own perceptions. Some physically abusive spouses may gaslight their partners by flatly denying that they have been violent.

Gaslighting may occur in parent–child relationships, with either parent, child, or both, lying to each other and attempting to undermine perceptions. Gaslighting also occurs in examples of school bullying. The word gaslighting is often used to describe the tactics of the President-elect. Teenvogue, of all places, had an excellent editorial on Trump’s tactics.

Donald Trump, photo credit The Politics
Forum

Nine points on Trump’s “press” conference

There were LOTS of things said during Trump’s “press conference” today that either conflict or contradict what he has said or Tweeted in the past, or were simply outrageous. A few of the highlights:

1. Trump made all kinds of claims about removing himself from any business conflicts, or rather his attorney did in an eye-glaze-over statement. He also said he could manage to run the government and his companies too.

2. The President-elect almost stomped his feet while trying to make CNN reporter Jim Acosta quit asking a question, finally resorting to “You’re fake news.”

3. Despite statements from Congressional Republicans that they aren’t prepared to repeal and replace ACA in the near future, Trump said all that would be happening soon.

4. He wants a report on hacking within 90 days from US intelligence agencies. Didn’t he get a report last Friday?

5. Trump asserted that, he “will be the greatest job producer that God ever created.” That’s a pretty bold statement. Will Trump singularly receive confirmation that he has hit that mark? Will it be Tweeted so everyone can see it? And what happens if things aren’t going well and God decides we need a course correction?

6. Only the media wants to see his tax returns. Um, no, lots of Americans want to see them.

7. Of his Cabinet choices, Trump said, “generally they are smart.” I sure wish he would identify the ones he thinks aren’t so smart.

8. Trump says the wall on the Mexican border will be built, and he isn’t willing to wait on the funding from Mexico. He wants American taxpayer dollars sunk into it now.

9. After a rambling event that included shouting at a reporter, Trump was asked what will happen if his sons don’t do well with running the family businesses. He gestured towards the stacks of papers that are supposed to demonstrate some type of disconnection between the President-elect and his businesses, and then, pointing to his sons, said, “You’re fired.”

Except Trump also said he won’t know what is happening with his family companies because his sons aren’t going to discuss them with him. How can Trump fire anyone if he is in the dark?

 

 

Judge by actions, not words

Kellyanne Conway, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, told CNN that people should stop judging the President-elect by his words, and instead judge him by his heart.

OK. Let’s use his actions as a measure of his heart.

Trump mocked a reporter who is physically disabled.

Beauty pageant contestants said he would walk into dressing rooms while they were nude and not excuse himself immediately.

The President-elect has been taken to court by contractors he refuses to pay.

He agreed to a settlement of $25M in lawsuits brought against the defunct Trump University including a penalty due to the state of New York for claiming to operate a “university” when it wasn’t one.

Trump cheated on his first wife, Ivana Trump, with the woman who became his second wife, Marla Maples.

Although he has five children, Trump refuses to do any of the physical care of his children.

Trump picked a fight with Khizi and Ghazala Kahn, whose son was killed in military action.

If we let Trump’s actions serve as the measure of his heart, that isn’t any more encouraging than his words or Tweets.

 

Required reading

The public intelligence report on Russian interference in our Presidential election last year was released from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence yesterday. It is less than 25 pages long in content.

Reading this is where the work of being an engaged citizen begins. Showing up at the voting booth isn’t enough.

Odds and ends

Trumps cuts the diplomatic corps loose
Last night a report from the The New York Times was making the rounds about an edict from the incoming Trump administration that all politically appointed ambassadors are to leave their overseas posts by Inauguration Day. This directive runs counter to previous administrations of both parties.

Trump didn’t understand until he met with President Obama after the election that the incoming administration has to staff the West Wing. Now he is rushing to have our country’s representatives to allies like Japan, Britain, and Germany vacate their offices on January 20th.  While it can take months to get ambassadors confirmed, I’ll venture that Trump gets someone cherry-picked by Vladimir Putin in place right away.

On the other hand, this positions the Democratic Party and voters to hold the Trump Administration responsible from day one on diplomatic actions.

In the mean time, or worse, for the long run, does Trump plan to handle our diplomatic relations with late-night Tweets?

White House Press Briefings
Last week Trump staffers said they didn’t like having White House press briefings broadcast live. Instead, they want the media to report out on the briefings.

In a world of fake news, and Trumpsters’ proclivity to gaslight, that makes sense- why let the public hear the briefing for ourselves when the Trump administration can hope that the media simply parrots whatever was said by his staffer? I enjoy listening to the questions and hearing the answers myself. Robert Gibbs, Obama’s first press secretary, had a good sense of humor and enjoyed word play. His briefings were interesting and sometimes entertaining. Trump doesn’t seem to enjoy the company of people who are witty, or use big words. But I’ll still listen.

Van Jones put his finger on it last night

Last Thursday I drove to Hendersonville, North Carolina for an annual event called Life Is A Verb Camp. On the way home Sunday afternoon I opted for less interstate and more two lane roads.

In addition to the fall-colored leaves I saw lots of Trump/Pence signs, which really didn’t surprise me as a fellow Southern rural citizen. What had been floating around in the back of mind for a long time began to move more to the front of my thoughts; how are the polls capturing the rural voter? Are they getting to us at all? Am I underestimating the urban turnout?

Last week Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight polling and punditry kept setting aside the poll numbers at a certain point in his figuring, which dogged me about who people say they will vote for and what they will do in the privacy of the voting booth.

Last night Van Jones put his finger on what I was thinking: white-lash. It has been a large and unspoken element in the room on top of the anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Semitic, anti-woman, my version of Christianity is the only one, anti-choice, denying access to affordable health care, putting profits before our natural resources, loosening gun control laws, and the list goes on and on.

I live among the voters who showed up in force at the polls and elected Donald Trump and Mike Pence; white rural Americans.

It should not be a surprise to readers of Rural and Progressive that I write from a perspective that there are two Americas, an urban and a rural America. Many rural Americans harbor some level of racism. I’ve heard it and seen it. For some people that has been the unspoken driver behind opposition to all-things Obama. And it brought people out in force to elect a TV personality whose favorite line is, “You’re fired.”

Yesterday white rural America told Donald Trump and Mike Pence, “You’re hired.”

I may live in rural America, but the not so subtle racism and divisive values espoused by Trump and Pence are not my values. And they aren’t the values of every rural American.

I’m no less proud of being a Hillary supporter today than I was yesterday, because I believe in a country where diversity is valued and celebrated. That’s the country I will continue to help build.

Trump’s word salad with a side of crazy

Yesterday Donald Trump served up a word salad about the rate increases rolling out for 2017 coverage under Obamacare. It raised the question among reporters and pundits about whether Trump even understands the most basic premise of Obamacare.

Trump told Fox News, as Tweeted yesterday by Sopan Deb at CBS, “Well, I don’t use much Obamacare because it is so bad for the people….”

What Trump fails to understand (about this and pretty much anything else in a real world), is that he ISN’T using Obamacare, nor are any of his companies, because coverage through the Affordable Care Act isn’t offered to companies. Instead, individuals buy the coverage themselves.

Trump doesn’t know “he” isn’t using Obamacare at all. He doesn’t understand the very basics of how the plan works or who can use it.

Instead, as reported by Huffington Post, David Feder, General Manager at the resort Trump owns in Miami where the Republican nominee trotted out this absurdity, approximately 95 percent of the employees there are covered by insurance offered by Trump’s company. It isn’t a skimpy plan either,  according to a review of a policy shared with an analyst.

So Trump thinks he’s paying for Obamacare, but he doesn’t use it much, “because it is so bad for the people and they can’t afford it.” He is spending more money on coverage, but not using it. And yet the “people” interviewed are “happy with their health coverage.”

Trump served up a word salad with a side of crazy yesterday.

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Git yur guns, boys!

What started after the 2008 election with the election of a black man to the White House, threatens to come full circle to a full-on “take back the government” uprising if Hillary Clinton is elected. Jimmy Arno of Georgia is just one of many who say they will be, I don’t know, marching to Washington, D.C., to lead some type of revolution if the election doesn’t go their way. Militia member Charles Keith Cobble claims they screen their fanatic members to make sure they aren’t KKK folks, but really, this type of “background check,” as Cobble calls it, is a farce.

In his conversation with Ryan Lentz of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, Adam Ragusea of GPB rightly makes note that white people carrying guns are usually called militia members, and brown people are called terrorists.

The fear gripping white people, primarily poorly educated, lower-income men (I am making a broad statement and I am not going to go down a rabbit hole with anyone on it), started with racism, and now it has expanded to include women. Donald Trump fed this type of mindset. He started with birtherism, and has woven in a complete and utter disrespect for women into his mixture of hatred and fear.

It bears repeating: we withstood the resignation of one President, and a 5-4 Supreme Court vote for another one. Electing Hillary Clinton will not be the worst thing to happen to this country. And it certainly won’t be worth starting a civil war over.

 

 

Last night’s greatest hits

As a historian, I am a believer in hearing things for yourself and reading primary documents. Ezra Klein has excerpts from last night’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Ford Motor Company had to fact check Trump on September 15th (below),
followed by some of the greatest hits from the debate:

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And perhaps my favorite

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