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Archive for the ‘Executive Branch’ Category

We are bloody but unbowed. Yesterday, after massive efforts of letter writing, phone calling, emailing, and petition signing, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education by an historic tie-breaking vote by VP and Senate President Mike Pence.

Not long afterward, the effort to confirm Jeff Sessions, noted bigot, as Attorney General ran into an effort by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to read a letter penned in 1986 by Coretta Scott King in opposition to Sessions being appointed a federal district judge in Alabama.

We see how this is going.

Here are the Twitter hashtags.

“Silencing Elizabeth Warren”

#LetLizSpeak

#ShePersists

#ShePersisted

Here is the exchange on the Senate floor.

The swamp gases in DC are toxic.

Stay battle-ready. This is just the beginning.

Thank you, Liz!

Here is the letter.

My Senator, Cory Booker.

From Hillary Clinton:

Happy Black History Month!

Cross-posted at Still4Hill.

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What do we mean when we use the word “protection?” A simple Google search yields this.

pro·tec·tion

[prəˈtekSH(ə)n]

NOUN

  1. the action of protecting someone or something, or the state of being protected:

    “the B vitamins give protection against infection” ·

    [more]

    synonyms: defense · security · shielding · preservation ·

    [more]
    • a person or thing that prevents someone or something from suffering harm or injury:

      “the castle was built as protection against the Saxons” ·

      [more]

      synonyms: barrier · buffer · shield · screen · hedge · cushion ·

      [more]
    • (protections)
      a legal or other formal measure intended to preserve civil liberties and rights.
    • a document guaranteeing immunity from harm to the person specified in it.
    • the practice of paying money to criminals so as to prevent them from attacking oneself or one’s property:

      “a protection racket” ·

      [more]
    • money paid to criminals to prevent them from attacking, especially on a regular basis.
    • archaic
      used euphemistically to refer to the keeping of a mistress by her lover in a separate establishment:
      “she was living under his lordship’s protection at Gloucester Gate”
pro·tect

[prəˈtekt]

VERB

  1. keep safe from harm or injury:

    “he tried to protect Kelly from the attack” ·

    [more]

    synonyms: keep safe · keep from harm · save · safeguard · preserve ·

    [more]
    • (protected)
      aim to preserve (a threatened plant or animal species) by legislating against collecting or hunting.
    • (protected)
      restrict by law access to or development of (land) so as to preserve its natural state:
      “logging is continuing in protected areas in violation of an international agreement”

      synonyms: secured · sheltered · in safe hands · safe ·

      [more]
    • (of an insurance policy) promise to pay (someone) an agreed amount in the event of loss, injury, fire, theft, or other misfortune:
      “in the event of your death, your family will be protected against any financial problems that may arise”
    • economics
      shield (a domestic industry) from competition by imposing import duties on foreign goods.
    • computing
      restrict access to or use of (data or a memory location):
      “security products are designed to protect information from unauthorized access”

Origin and Etymology of protect

Middle English, from Latin protectus, past participle of protegere, from pro- in front + tegere to cover — more at pro-, thatch
First Known Use: 15th century

It is Donald Trump’s flavor of the week.

Trump releases statement on immigration

Amid protests nationwide over President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration order, the president did not back away from his plan, saying his “first priority will always be to protect and serve our country.”

Trump released the statement Sunday afternoon, two days after he signed an executive order that halts the Syrian refugee program and temporarily suspends immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

“America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border,” Trump said.

Read the full story here.
Read Trump’s full statement here.

After the stroke of Trump’s pen, a dramatic 34 hours

President Donald Trump paused as he removed the cap from his pen, an executive order severely limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations waiting on the desk before him.

“That’s big stuff,” the president said, and scrawled his jagged signature.

In the 34 hours that followed, lawyers would mount a frantic effort to overturn the order; politicians and protesters would descend on Logan International Airport as detainees waited behind closed doors; and somehow, at a federal court hearing in the middle of the night, they would win.

Read the full special report.
34 hours of confusion: An interactive timeline.

George Lakoff, our canary in the language mine, has something to say about protection.

The Public’s Viewpoint: Regulations are Protections

 

The American Majority got 2.8 million more votes in the 2016 election than the Loser President. That puts the majority in a position to change American political discourse and how Americans understand and think about politics. As a start, what is needed is a change of viewpoint.

Here is a typical example. Minority President Trump has said that he intends to get rid of 75% of government regulations. What is a “regulation”?

The term “regulation” is framed from the viewpoint of corporations and other businesses. From their viewpoint, “regulations” are limitations on their freedom to do whatever they want no matter who it harms. But from the public’s viewpoint, a regulation is a protection against harm done by unscrupulous corporations seeking to maximize profit at the cost of harm to the public.

Imagine our minority President saying out loud that he intends to get rid of 75% of public protections. Imagine the press reporting that. Imagine the NY Times, or even the USA Today headline: Trump to Eliminate 75% of Public Protections. Imagine the media listing, day after day, the protections to be eliminated and the harms to be faced by the public.

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Parents and grandparents of teens hope that when romance prevails they are using “protection.”  Given this administration’s and the GOP’s plans for Planned Parenthood, that kind of protection is not among their priorities.

Trump’s use of this word is a protection in itself, covering ulterior motives. Words have meanings and Lakoff has been telling us for decades the the Republicans are very adept at co-opting words for their own purposes. He has long advised Democrats to own the framing.

Regulation is a form of protection. Immigration bans targeting specific populations are not protection. They are a form of discrimination for the purpose of abridging the rights of some.

Vigilance requires that we pay attention to words as well as actions. This new government will not protect us. We need to take our protection into our own hands.

cropped-dehos-11-2016signed3.jpg

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A biopic about J.D. Salinger debuted at Sundance and is likely and given the writer-director’s creds is a hit in the making and is likely to spur a revival of The Catcher in the Rye this year.

MAKE AMERICA PHONY AGAIN

J.D. Salinger in the Age of Donald Trump: ‘The Rebel in the Rye’ Debuts at Sundance

Writer-director Danny Strong (Empire, The Butler, Game Change) on why his J.D. Salinger biopic The Rebel in the Rye, which just premiered at Sundance, is so timely.

Kevin Fallon

Kevin Fallon

01.28.17

“What makes you think that you have anything to say to people?”

It’s a crushing line, delivered from father to son, in writer-director Danny Strong’s new J.D. Salinger biopic The Rebel in the Rye, which chronicles how Salinger’s time fighting in World War II and ensuing PTSD played backdrop to his writing one of the last century’s most popular and important novels, and eventually played a part in the writer spending the last decades of his life a recluse in New Hampshire.

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George Orwell’s 1984 is at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list, again. It is unlikely that this is because every English teacher in America is assigning it as required reading this semester. Many probably are, and if I were back in my English teaching days, I probably would. In fact I probably would add Animal Farm, which I did use with freshman English classes once upon a time.  Two articles published today cite both books as worthy of a second read.  It may be the year of the rooster, but the pigs are in control.

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

Prescient

How George Orwell Predicted Donald Trump

The White House’s embrace of ‘alternative facts’ evokes the managed truth Orwell described in 1984 and Animal Farm—a perfect example of the Big Lie backed by Big Power.

John Sutherland

01.28.17

Oh Orwell, thou shouldst be living at this hour. In fact, every hour since that dark night in January 1950 when you died, alone, in a hospital. Perhaps, web paranoia speculates, your truth-telling got too dangerous for the powers that be and you were terminated with extreme prejudice. It makes a crazy kind of sense.

The recent furor about “alternative facts,” in a culture polluting its thought processes with post-truth license and fake news, suggests that George Orwell’s dire predictions about double-think and thought-crime are with us—albeit 33 years late.

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In our Orwellian reality, reach for ‘Animal Farm’ with your ‘1984’

After Trump took office, on Saturday he sent his press secretary out to berate and lie to the press. On Sunday, his senior adviser called the lies “alternative facts.” The Washington Post’s media columnist Margaret Sullivan declared we’ve gone “full Orwell.”

Sales of Orwell’s anti-totalitarian classic “1984” skyrocketed after Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway tried to justify the government’s over-exaggerated inaugural turnout claim as ” alternative facts.”

But Stanford University literature professor Alex Woloch, who penned ” Or Orwell: Writing and Democratic Socialism,” says another book by the late British author might provide better insight for what’s happening to America today: “Animal Farm.”

“In ‘1984,’ however we’ve gotten into that situation has already occurred,” Woloch says. “But in ‘Animal Farm,’ [Orwell is] really tracing that sense of a ‘slippery slope.’”

Woloch is referring to the “slippery slope” scholars on authoritarian regimes call the transition from democracy to totalitarianism.

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Meanwhile, the benevolent dictator wannabe’s executive order banning immigrants from seven countries has, today, left hundreds stranded in no man’s land. He sat with ABC’s David Muir, this week,  and in the kindliest of tones described how Christian immigrants would be given priority standing.

Your first reaction might be that this is unAmerican.  That is correct. But it also is untrue.

VIENNA (AP) — Austria has shut its door to about 300 non-Muslim Iranians hoping to use the country as a way station before establishing new homes in the United States, The Associated Press has learned. The action is an early ripple effect of U.S. President Donald Trump’s effort to clamp down on refugee admissions.

Under a 27-year-old program originally approved by Congress to help Jews in the former Soviet Union, Austria had been serving until recently as a conduit for Iranian Jews, Christians and Baha’i, who were at risk in their home country and eligible to resettle in the United States. Iran has banned the Baha’i religion, which was founded in 1844 by a Persian nobleman considered a prophet by followers.

U.S. officials had been interviewing the candidates in Austria because they cannot do so in Iran. But the United States suspended the so-called “Iranian Lautenberg Program” in recent days, according to Austrian officials, who in turn stopped Iranians from reaching their territory. It’s unclear when the program might restart.

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Not only are these folks marooned, green card holders are included in the ban.

People holding so-called green cards, making them legal permanent U.S. residents, are included in President Donald Trump’s executive action temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, a Department of Homeland security spokeswoman said on Saturday.

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So it is not English teachers and their students alone who likely are boning up on their Orwellian glossaries. Newspeak is with us. As for how this particular transition works, Animal Farm is a great source. You might even want to pair it up with William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. My long-ago ninth graders were adept at finding parallels in the politics of subjugation.

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From the day Donald J. Trump entered the race, this past election cycle followed a path from the most bizarre to the most corrupted in our history.  If a website experienced the multilateral attacks this election suffered, it would have been taken down. Your bank would have notified you after one such intrusion into your account, cancelled your card and the unauthorized charges to it, and arranged for a new card to be issued. Our government knew these things and did nothing to head off what amounts to election theft.

winner

By now, you know about all of this, of course.  I am posting it for the record. Why was this information  not released prior to Election Day?  What can be done now?  Must we live with  a flawed election? How secure are we if a major adversary can influence our elections and install the candidate they prefer?  If this were not presidential election, I would be tempted to go full Laurel & Hardy mode and say, “Now you’ve done it!”  But it is not a movie. It is not TV. It is not reality TV. It is reality.

CIA assessment: Russia tried to help Trump win 2016 election

CIA briefers told senators in a closed-door briefing it was now “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to officials. (Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)
December 9 at 10:45 PM
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

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U.S.

Russian Hackers Acted to Aid Trump in Election, U.S. Says

Photo

President Obama giving a speech in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday. He has ordered a comprehensive report on the Russian efforts. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — American intelligence agencies have concluded with “high confidence” that Russia acted covertly in the latter stages of the presidential campaign to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances and promote Donald J. Trump, according to senior administration officials.

They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.

In the months before the election, it was largely documents from Democratic Party systems that were leaked to the public. Intelligence agencies have concluded that the Russians gave the Democrats’ documents to WikiLeaks.

Republicans have a different explanation for why no documents from their networks were ever released. Over the past several months, officials from the Republican committee have consistently said that their networks were not compromised, asserting that only the accounts of individual Republicans were attacked. On Friday, a senior committee official said he had no comment.

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Harry Reid: Comey Should Resign

In the wake of a “soul-crushing” report on Russia’s meddling in the presidential election, Sen. Harry Reid has called for FBI Director James Comey to resign for allegedly withholding information on President-elect Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. Reid, who was a fierce opponent of Comey’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, which many believe cost her the election, told MSNBC on Saturday that he believes the FBI knew all along that Russia was helping Trump and deliberately did nothing about it. “This is not fake news. Intelligence officials are hiding connections to the Russian government. There is no question,” Reid said.

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DEFCON 1

World War III: Democrats and America vs. Trump and Russia

The CIA believes Moscow tried to destroy Hillary Clinton and tilt the election. Republicans stayed quiet. This is a fight for who controls America: you or Putin?

Michael Tomasky

Michael Tomasky

12.10.16

Make no mistake, yesterday’s Washington Post revelation that the CIA has concluded that Russia was actively trying to elect Donald Trump as opposed to just “meddling with” the election, is a nuclear bombshell. And if the Post piece is Hiroshima, then today’s New York Times story, which adds the detail that Russian actors also hacked email accounts at the Republican National Committee but did not release those publicly as they did Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign emails, is Nagasaki.

Hyperbole? Think again. A foreign government may have determined the outcome of a presidential election. And not Canada or Costa Rica, but Russia: the United States’ chief historic adversary and an oligarchy ruled by a tyrant who has systematically taken away rights. Bombshells don’t come much bigger.

Oh, wait; yes they do. On top of all the above, leaders of one of our two political parties—I’ll let you hazard a guess as to which one—argued against letting the American public know about all this before the election, reportedly saying it would be too partisan. That’s not hardball politics. That’s a hair’s breath away from treason.

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join-the-battle

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I had a friend, years ago, whose father suffered what was diagnosed as hysterical blindness. Nothing was wrong with his eyes according to top ophthalmologists. Yet he stumbled along, tripping on furniture while never, mysteriously, over the dogs he loved. His only son, my friend, was a rising artist bringing more wealth to an already affluent family. He was gay at a time when and in a culture where being gay was not only not cool, it brought shame and social alienation similar to that incurred by mental illness in the family.

The parents lived in the main house, and my friend erected a loft two stories high on the other side of the garden where he occupied the first floor and worked on the second under a skylight. He came and went as he pleased and entertained friends as he wished. Was it perhaps my friend’s independent life that precipitated this blindness of his dad’s?  It occurred shortly after the loft was completed. Were there things the dad simply could not allow himself to accept and see? Is that why he blinded himself?  One can only speculate. We will never know. The father is long gone, and the son succumbed before there were effective HIV-AIDS medications.

How sad and ironic, in the wake of this election, when the unfairly maligned Clinton Foundation, which works assiduously to eradicate HIV-AIDS and preventable blindness, that Americans need to be warned not to succumb to a self-disciplined form of viral blindness that can spread via mass media.

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

Naked

Already Happening: Media Normalization of Trumpism

His polls numbers will…improve. The international community will…come around. Melania and Ivanka will be…unorthodox but charming. Brace yourselves for a huge media fail.

Joy-Ann Reid

Joy-Ann Reid

11.27.16

In the children’s short story “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” by Hans Christian Andersen, what kept the fiction of the naked emperor’s sartorial splendor alive was nothing in particular about the emperor. True, he was vain and plainly foolish; easily tricked by the false flattery of swindlers into paying a kingly sum for a cloak so fine and magical that only the wise and true could see it. But it was the people of the kingdom, including his trusted advisers, who maintained the absurd notion that he was splendidly clothed, because none – the emperor included – wanted to admit that they were so unworthy as to not see the bright colors and fine threads.

Only the characteristic bluntness of a child, who proclaimed the emperor’s nudity as he paraded through the streets humiliating himself and his kingdom, threatened to break the spell. But when the boy spoke out he was quickly rebuked by his father, who assured the gasping public that the child was clearly soft in the head. So powerful is the compulsion to normalize the powerful.

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Ironic that late Friday night I was watching Richard Lester’s “Cuba” with Sean Connery on MGM HD when the news of Castro’s death came through. Right after that, on the same channel, I watched Oliver Stone’s “Salvador” – partly about the Carter-Reagan transition and including the murders of the nuns and Archbishop Romero. Today, this article.

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

License to Kill

The Nun Murders and the Presidential Transition Team

During the transition from Carter to Reagan, the Salvadoran death squads started targeting Americans. A cautionary tale about signals sent and messages received.
Christopher Dickey

Christopher Dickey

11.27.16

PARIS — A new president had just been elected in the United States — a hard line president, who, it was said, had no patience with the vacillating, moralizing policies of his predecessor. Around the world thugs who would spit when they heard the phrase “human rights” suddenly took heart. With such a man in the White House, they thought, they had a license to kill. 

This was November 1980, when the confused transition from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan opened the door to a bloodbath in the little Central American country of El Salvador; when, suddenly, anyone the military suspected of aiding the subversivos was liable to be tortured to death, and even Americans—even American nuns—were fair game.

Now 36 years later, we will soon mark the anniversary of the death of four American churchwomen kidnapped, raped and murdered in El Salvador on the night of December 2, 1980. 

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This story is evolving. Women are coming forth with their stories of encounters with Donald in which they were the objects of unsolicited and unwanted sexual aggression, and he was the agent.

Donald Trump has been a deeply flawed candidate from the beginning.  He is a power-mad, thin-skinned bully at every level of interaction in society.  Stories that have come to the fore in the wake of the videotape Friday night assert that his “locker room talk” was more than talk.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign released this statement not long ago.

HFA Response to Tonight’s Troubling Revelations about Donald Trump

HFA Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri offered the following statement in response to the new allegations about Donald Trump’s actions:

“This disturbing story sadly fits everything we know about the way Donald Trump has treated women. These reports suggest that he lied on the debate  stage and that the disgusting behavior he bragged about in the tape are more than just words.”

Perhaps this is Donald Trump’s actual contribution to society.  If enough decent men turn against the tawdry, dissolute, perverted “model” he represents for young men in this country, maybe he will have performed a service – his first ever – for the nation and society at large.

He should never be president.  His behavior disqualifies him.  His cavalier attitude toward violating women’s privacy and personal boundaries fall far below the bar.  He is, on so many levels, a horrendous choice for the position and the job.  He lies. He invents fiction about his opponent (which his supporters believe even though none of it is true or validated).  His business practices are predatory and dishonest. He knows nothing and does not seek to learn. He holds dangerous positions regarding foreign policy.  I could go on.  I will not. his attitude toward women is sufficient.

Vote.  I will not tell you how to vote, but you should know on which side your bread is buttered.

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