September 26, 2016

How Clinton could handle Trump

Sam Smith - Although we know that the debate commission will allow Trump to lie without moderator interference at tonight's debate, the other rules are not clear or published. So one little suggestion: Find a way for Hillary to indicate when Trump is lying. For example, if there is a media outlet that is keeping track of the lies, have Clinton's cell phone tuned to that source.

Ideally she could hold up an Ipad that showed how many lies Trump had committed so far,  but if that is not possible she might say at the start that she will keep the audience informed by a finger count. The beauty of this is that it takes no time and might really catch on with the audience while driving Trump crazy.

Is LED dead?

Planetizen - Cities all over the country are adding LED lights to streets and roadways all over the country, seeking energy efficiency and reduced maintenance requirements. A new report, however, raises alarms about the health impacts of the lights. Michael Ollove reports:
The American Medical Association issued a warning in June that high-intensity LED streetlights — such as those in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Houston and elsewhere — emit unseen blue light that can disturb sleep rhythms and possibly increase the risk of serious health conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
According to Ollove, nearly 13 percent of roadway lighting now use LED lights, with many more plans planning to switch to the technology in the near future, so the AMA's report applies to a huge swath of the country.

And that's not the only concern. "The AMA also cautioned that those light-emitting-diode lights can impair nighttime driving vision," adds Ollove.

The good news is that the AMA does approve of lower-intensity version of the bulbs. New York City, for example, has switched to a lower-intensity version of LED lights in efforts to retrofit its streetlights.

20 million would lose coverage under Trump health plan

Debate commissioner favors no limits on Trump's lying

Complex - It looks like Donald Trump is getting his wish: Moderators of the three presidential debates likely won't be encouraged by the committee that selected them for the job to fact-check the candidates when they lie on stage.

Head of the commission Janet Brown told CNN reporter Brian Stelter on Sunday that she didn't want the moderators to "serv[e] as the Encyclopedia Britannica.” And Brown isn't alone in that belief. Fox News's Chris Wallace, who is hosting the third and final debate, is already there—he told Fox earlier this month that it's not his job to fact-check candidates because he's "not a truth squad."

It would be safe to hazard a guess that this will frustrate Hillary Clinton's campaign, considering that only four percent of her opponent's claims that have been fact-checked by the Pulitzer Prize-winning website Politifact have been rated completely true. (To dig deeper: Only 15 percent of Trump's comments have been ranked 'true' or 'mostly true,' compared to Clinton's 50 percent.)

The news comes just hours after Trump campaign spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway told a reporter from ABC News that she really doesn't  appreciate "the campaigns thinking it is the job of the media to go and be these virtual fact-checkers.” She then pointed to an interview Trump did with Matt Lauer this month, in which Lauer famously declines to challenge Trump's assertion that he has always opposed the war in Iraq, as an example of an interview done right.

"We thought he did a great job,” Conway told the reporter.

Clinton losing serious electoral vote ground

While Clinton is comfortably ahead of Trump in electoral votes, she has steadily been losing ground since her high of 275 firm ones - five more than needed for a victory. Now she only has 130 firm votes, This is 47% as many certain electoral votes as she once had and her worst so far. Another 187 electoral votes are possibly Democratic. On the other hand, only 48 electoral votes are definitely in the Trump column. Another 177 are possible.

A few things to remember about Donald Trump while watching the debate

No Fortune 100 CEOs, presumably smart business people,  have given to Trump

The New York Attorney General called Trump University “a straight up fraud”

Trump projects have received at least $885 million in public subsidies

Trump & Co has been involved in over 4,000 lawsuits

Donald Trump's own line of men's wear, the Donald J. Trump Signature Collection, is manufactured in China

Trump Tower was built in part by undocumented Polish workers without hard hats and getting $5 an hour

In five cases, the Trump Foundation told the IRS that it had given a gift to a charity whose leaders told The Washington Post that they had never received it.

Also according to the Washington Post:  
Trump’s casino bankruptcies left investors holding the bag while he skedaddled with their money·

Trump refused to pay contractors who had done work for him, many of whom are struggling small businesses

The Trump Network, a multi-level marketing venture (a.k.a. pyramid scheme) involved customers mailing in a urine sample which would be analyzed to produce for them a specially formulated package of multivitamins

 Trump Model Management reportedly had foreign models lie to customs officials and work in the U.S. illegally, and kept them in squalid conditions while they earned almost nothing for the work they did

Trump’s employed foreign guest workers at his resorts.

Trump paid the Federal Trade Commission $750,000 over charges that he violated anti-trust laws when trying to take over a rival casino company

 Trump is now being advised by Roger Ailes, who was forced out as Fox News chief when dozens of women came forward to charge him with sexual harassment.
According to the Daily Beast, “Four Donald Trump-licensed real-estate developments are at the center of a huge income tax evasion scheme, according to allegations in a lawsuit unsealed by a judge in Manhattan. “ Trump was described as a material witness in “the evasion of taxes on as much as $250 million in income. According to the court papers, that includes $100 million in profits and $65 million in real-estate transfer taxes from a Manhattan high rise project bearing his familiar name.” 

On issues:
Trump wants to cut your Social Security
Trump has come out against women's choice
Trump's veep pick wanted Iraq War
Trump praised Saddam Hussein and Putin

According to the Tax Policy Center analysis of the Trump tax plan, “the highest-income households would receive the largest cuts, both in dollars and as a percentage of income.” People at the bottom of the economic ladder would receive, on average, a $128 tax cut under Trump’s plan, while the top 0.1 percent would take home an extra $1.3 million.”
Just to mention a few. . . 

September 25, 2016

Trump hit with 3500 law suits alleged non payment of contracts

USA Today - Donald Trump casts himself as a protector of workers and jobs, but a USA Today Network investigation found hundreds of people – carpenters, dishwashers, painters, even his own lawyers – who say he didn’t pay them for their work.

Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will "protect your job." But a USA Today Network analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.

At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.

Trump’s companies have also been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005 for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. That includes 21 citations against the defunct Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and three against the also out-of-business Trump Mortgage LLC in New York. Both cases were resolved by the companies agreeing to pay back wages.

In addition to the lawsuits, the review found more than 200 mechanic’s liens — filed by contractors and employees against Trump, his companies or his properties claiming they were owed money for their work — since the 1980s. The liens range from a $75,000 claim by a Plainview, N.Y., air conditioning and heating company to a $1 million claim from the president of a New York City real estate banking firm. On just one project, Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, records released by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in 1990 show that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time, including workers who installed walls, chandeliers and plumbing.

“Let’s say that they do a job that’s not good, or a job that they didn’t finish, or a job that was way late. I’ll deduct from their contract, absolutely. That’s what the country should be doing.” Donald Trump

Campaign issues we hadn't thought about yet

Huffington Post - Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson said that the human race will need to colonize other worlds in order to survive.

“This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked the former New Mexico governor about something he said in 2011, when he seemed to dismiss the growing threat of climate change.

“In billions of years, the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth, right? So global warming is in our future,” Johnson, who opposes environmental regulation, said at the time.

Morning Line Update

Based on the average of recent polls:

Nationally, Hillary Clinton is two points behind Trump, a statistical tie. This is tied with her previous worst position vs Trump. Her current average percentage is 41% . Her election range has been 38-46%

Clinton is leading with 159 of the needed 270 electoral votes, down from her best of 275.. This is 59% as many certain electoral votes as she once had. Another 158 electoral votes are possibly Democratic. Only 48 electoral votes are definitely in the Trump column. Another 177 are possible.

In the Senate the Democrats stand to gain two seats. The Democrats have a slight lead in two more and the GOP in one. Thyre is one tie. The Dems need to win four seats (plus a Democratic Veep) to control the Senate.

In governorships, Democrats should pick up 1 this year. Democrats have already gained another, . Democrats are each leaning ahead in 2 race and Repubicans in one

Trump's new justice choice thinks child labor laws, Medicare and Society Security are unconstitutional

Think Progress - Last May, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released a list of 11 sitting judges who, he says, fit the ideological mold of the kind of people he will appoint to the Supreme Court if elected president. The list ran the conservative gamut from judges who cut their teeth questioning judicial power to judges who want to revive long-discredited doctrines once used to tear down the minimum wage and other basic labor laws.

On Friday, Trump added 10 names to his list of potential justices. The new list is notable in that it includes a number of fairly obscure judges, including a few who currently serve as trial judges. It also includes people of color, something his first list did not.

The first name on the new list, however, is Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). ...

Lee’s conservatism is rooted in a hard-line understanding of the Constitution that was popular among judges in the early twentieth century but is now widely viewed as wrong and immoral. As a candidate for the senate in 2010, Lee laid out many of the consequences of his vision . . . .Among other things, Lee believes that federal child labor laws, Medicare and Social Security are all unconstitutional.

Aside from the Second Amednment, Trump doesn't like the Constitution that much

Word; Trump is no populist

Jim Hightower - Candidate Trump grandiosely says he'll lift up the middle class, but his proposed economic policies would do the opposite by expanding the GOP's old anti-labor agenda: giving massive new tax cuts to corporations and the rich, slashing public spending on programs that working families rely on, and embracing the laissez-faire ideological claptrap that Tea Party Republicans mindlessly repeat in their ceaseless efforts to drive down wages.

On the minimum wage, he's taken more positions than you'll find in the "Kama Sutra." First, he said $7.25 an hour was already too much; then he called for abolishing the wage floor entirely; then he mused that he might be open to an increase (but certainly not the $15-an-hour living wage that worker activists are fighting for). Even Trump's "rock-solid" opposition to NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and other trade scams now looks to be a political bait-and-switch fraud, as indicated by his choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to be his VP and top policy "partner." Pence is a notorious free-trade fanatic who pushed zealously to pass all eight trade deals that came before him while in Congress, and he's been lobbying hard this year for passage of the TPP.

Now, consider whom he's vilifying, mocking and bullying at his rallies and in his tweets. Overwhelmingly, they are terrorized migrants, Mexican immigrants he labels "rapists," black protestors experiencing police brutality, disabled individuals, and so on. This pampered son of privilege wants America's hard-hit, angry working people to elect him because he demonstrates the "courage" to be politically incorrect by kicking the poor, the powerless, and the marginalized. Since he's willing to do that, how long will it take him to throw those workers into the ditch, too?

Some might see Trump as a brilliant, can-do corporate chieftain (though his multiple bankruptcies among other business disasters make that assessment doubtful). Or they might be tempted to cast a protest vote to throw the political class into disarray. But people should consider the consequences and not fool themselves into thinking Trump's a populist who'll be on our side. In his heart, mind, and whole being, the central political truth about Trump is that he's foremost a Trumpist -- of, by and for himself.

September 24, 2016

Whatever happened to foreign aid and other alternatives to war?

Google graph of mentions of "foreign aid"

We are now winding down fifteen years of military policy failure in the Mid East and still hardly anyone in power discusses any alternatives. For example, as the Google Ngram chart above shows, In the wake of World War II, we helped struggling countries with foreign aid, a term one hardly hears any more. 

What if the huge sums spent on military failure in the Mid East had been used instead in foreign aid?  What effect would that have had on ISIS or the Orlando attack? 

A major part of of our foreign policy failure today is an inordinate reliance on military solutions that don't work. It's well past time to come up with other answers. 

For example, Deutsche Welle reported:
In a newly published report, the IMF said years of conflict have destroyed the economies of several countries in the Middle East. The organization said it could take years for countries to regain their footing.

The Washington-based lender said conflicts had sparked recessions, driven up inflation and rendered institutions powerless from Libya to Yemen.

Ongoing wars have seen Syria's GDP in 2015 account for less than half of what it did in 2010, while Yemen has lost as much as 35 percent of its GDP this year, the report said. In Iraq and Afghanistan, inflation reached more than 30 percent in the mid-2000s, while in Yemen and Libya it peaked at more than 15 percent in 2011.

In addition, conflicts have also had economic consequences for neighboring countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey, leading to an influx of refugees and weaker security.
And as Andrew Bacevich wrote in the Nation last May:
Imagine the opposing candidates in a presidential campaign each refusing to accept war as the new normal. Imagine them actually taking stock of the broader fight that’s been ongoing for decades now. Imagine them offering alternatives to armed conflicts that just drag on and on. Now that would be a milestone.