Trump Archive

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Trump Roundup - 7

Donald TrumpThis is my semi-regular feature to post links to articles about Donald Trump along with excerpts from those articles. Trump has the potential to cause so much damage to our country and the world that it's every citizen's responsibility to keep pressure on him and our other elected officials to try to minimize the damage. To read previous entries in this series and other Trump related posts, check out my Trump archives.

I've said that this will only be a semi-regular series, and that I wasn't going to post every week, but even though I just posted last Friday, Trump has been busy his first week in office, so there's been a lot to call attention to. I hope this will settle down in a little while (i.e. that Trump quits doing so many bad things), but for now, there's just too much to say. Here are today's links:


Foreign Policy Journal - Trump Promises 'America First' in Defiant and Divisive Inaugural Speech: Anxious allies and a polarized country may find little solace in the new president's isolationist speech.

"Under dark skies and drizzling rain, Donald Trump vowed after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday to make a radical break with decades of U.S. policy, pledging to dump free trade, block immigration, and focus above all on 'America first.' " ... "Trump signaled no retreat from his populist agenda on trade, immigration, and on scaling back commitments overseas. Apart from a passing mention of retaining old alliances, he painted a picture of a hostile world that would no longer be permitted to take advantage of America. Unlike other presidents in the modern era, he offered no pledge to preserve America's global leadership in promoting peace, protecting human rights, or encouraging democracy and open markets." ... "With Trump's antipathy to free trade, his skepticism of traditional alliances, and his affinity for Putin, many around the world began looking to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to defend the post-World War II liberal order -- a role typically played by an American president."


NPR - President Trump's Inaugural Address, Annotated

I'm not actually going to include excerpts from this article, because there are just way too many. NPR writers added annotation throughout the transcript fact checking Trump and putting his claims in perspective. Needless to say, he made many, many untrue statements during his inaugurual address.


CBS News - Sources say Trump's CIA visit made relations with intel community worse

"U.S. government sources tell CBS News that there is a sense of unease in the intelligence community after President Trump's visit to CIA headquarters on Saturday. An official said the visit 'made relations with the intelligence community worse' and described the visit as 'uncomfortable.' / Authorities are also pushing back against the perception that the CIA workforce was cheering for the president. They say the first three rows in front of the president were largely made up of supporters of Mr. Trump's campaign. / An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who'd been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams. The Trump team originally expected Rep. Pompeo, R-Kansas, to be sworn in during the event as the next CIA director, but the vote to confirm him was delayed on Friday by Senate Democrats. Also sitting in the first several rows in front of the president was the CIA's senior leadership, which was not cheering the remarks." ... "Intelligence sources say many in the workforce were stunned and at times offended by the president's tone which seemed to evolve into a version of speeches he'd used on the campaign trail."


The Guardian - 'Global gag rule' reinstated by Trump, curbing NGO abortion services abroad

"In one of a number of sharp reversals from the Obama era, Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order banning international NGOs from providing abortion services or offering information about abortions if they receive US funding. / The rule will put thousands of international healthcare workers in the difficult position of deciding whether to continue to offer family planning care that includes abortion at the expense of a critical funding stream. Many international health advocates insist that their efforts are not comprehensive without abortion services. Unsafe abortions are a major cause of maternal mortality and kill tens of thousands of women every year." ... " 'President Trump's reinstatement of the global gag rule ignores decades of research, instead favoring ideological politics over women and families,' said Shaheen, who serves on the foreign relations committee. / 'We know that when family planning services and contraceptives are easily accessible, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies, maternal deaths and abortions. And when women have control over their reproductive health, it improves the long-term health of mothers and children and creates a lasting economic benefit.' "


The Guardian Op-ed - This photo sums up Trump's assault on women's rights

"The stupidity of the blinkered, religiously motivated agenda on display here is that no matter what legislation these men implement, they will never succeed in banning abortion, per se, only safe, legal abortion. Marie Stopes estimates that, as a result of the reimposition of the global gag order, the loss of their services alone could result in 6.5m unintended pregnancies during Trump's first term, 2.1m unsafe abortions, and 21,700 maternal deaths. In passing this law, these patriarchs have fathered millions of unwanted children, helping to create lives that could very well turn out to be painful and potentially motherless."


Marie Stopes Int'l - Re-enactment of the Mexico City Policy

"Tragically, the policy will have the exact opposite effect to the one that is intended. By blocking funding to the world's largest NGO providers of modern contraception, it will reduce women's ability to prevent unplanned pregnancy. A 2011 study found that abortion rates in sub-Saharan African countries actually increased while the Mexico City Policy was in force under President Bush. The impact of its re-enactment today will be no less devastating, seriously reducing the impact of US development assistance for family planning in some of the world's poorest countries."


IFL Science - All These Federal Science Programs Will Be Cut Under Trump

"Among the programs being listed for complete elimination, it's perhaps the inclusion of those that aim to prevent violence against women that stands out as being particularly tragic. / However, being a science site, we thought we'd have a look to see if any scientific programs are also being annihilated. Sadly, there are quite a few, especially those relating to - surprise surprise - climate change research. / Two of the top State Department programs focused on climate change mitigation are set to be banished forever more. ... Funding for the Paris agreement, along with donations to the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - the organization that publishes the most authoritative reports on anthropogenic climate change - are also primed for destruction. At the Energy Department, ... entire research groups are set to be killed off. Particularly noteworthy victims are the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Office of Fossil Energy, both of which are currently developing methods to cut down America's sizable carbon footprint. / Despite being a world leader in nuclear physics research, the Department of Energy will find its funding for this field rolled back to 2008 levels. / Even the Department of Justice is set to be assaulted with anti-intellectual cuts. Its Environmental and Natural Resources divisions - which, for example, work to prosecute those that break civil and criminal anti-pollution laws - are going to suffer some rather severe funding reductions."


Wired - Rogue Scientists Race to Save Climate Data from Trump

"At 10 AM the Saturday before inauguration day, on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, roughly 60 hackers, scientists, archivists, and librarians were hunched over laptops, drawing flow charts on whiteboards, and shouting opinions on computer scripts across the room. They had hundreds of government web pages and data sets to get through before the end of the day--all strategically chosen from the pages of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration--any of which, they felt, might be deleted, altered, or removed from the public domain by the incoming Trump administration. / Their undertaking, at the time, was purely speculative..." ... "But three days later, speculation became reality as news broke that the incoming Trump administration's EPA transition team does indeed intend to remove some climate data from the agency's website."

Related: Scientists Scramble to Save Climate Data Before Trump Can Delete It (at the University of Toronoto)
Related: Scientists Race To Preserve Climate Change Data Before Trump Takes Office (Another independent effort)


The Verge - Trump's new FCC chief is Ajit Pai, and he wants to destroy net neutrality

"Donald Trump has elevated Ajit Pai to chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, giving control over the agency to a reliable conservative who's been opposed to pretty much every big action the commission has taken in recent years, from establishing net neutrality to protecting consumer privacy to restricting major cable mergers." ... " 'Some of the things we've seen in his record are certainly problematic for consumers and for competition,' Chris Lewis, vice president of the communications advocacy nonprofit Public Knowledge, tells The Verge. 'Whether it's his opposition to open internet rules, or opposition to basic privacy online, or opposition to the effort to extend the Lifeline program subsidies to broadband so that low income Americans have access to basic 21st century communications.' "


Industrial Equipment News - Trump's Trade Plan Put Into Action

"With his rejection of an Asian trade pact, U.S. President Donald Trump has tackled the first in a promised series of far-reaching policy changes that could inadvertently give China room to assert itself as a regional leader and worsen strains over the South China Sea and Taiwan. / The U.S. departure from the Trans-Pacific Partnership could help President Xi Jinping's effort to cast Beijing as a champion of free trade and might increase official interest in a Chinese-led alternative trade deal. The TPP, which excluded China, has been seen as a gambit by Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, to counter Beijing's influence."


Politico - How Trump's wall could beckon a global trade war

"President Donald Trump's plans to pay for a Mexican border wall could trigger the global trade war he has long threatened. / A House Republican plan he embraced Thursday as a means of paying for the barrier would slap imported goods with a 20 percent tax -- a levy aimed at boosting consumption of domestic products that could backfire by angering allies and upending the entire global trading system. / Longtime trading partners -- not just Mexico -- could retaliate, making American consumers pay more for everything from food to electronics and putting U.S. companies out of business. The so-called border adjustment tax could trigger cases before the World Trade Organization, spur other countries to slap levies on American products and put some U.S. companies at a disadvantage with international competitors."


NPR - Mexican President Cancels Meeting With Trump As Tensions Rise Between Countries

"Well, it's really hard to overstate this turn of events. This is Mexico the U.S. is feuding with. This is one of its largest trading partners. Five hundred billion dollars of trade a year and millions of jobs in the U.S. depend on that commerce with Mexico. Let alone, it's its neighbor and its partner in security and law enforcement and immigration. I talked to one historian who was comparing this low point in the relationship to back to Calvin Coolidge days, when he was president in the '20s...Or even back to the U.S.-Mexican War of the 1840s."


The Guardian - Even rightwing sites call out Trump administration over 'alternative facts'

"In their false claims about the size of the crowd at the inauguration on Friday, and in the introduction to common parlance of the term "alternative facts", senior aides to Donald Trump managed to achieve the unthinkable: getting rightwing news sites to disagree with the president." ... "Trump used a speech in front of the memorial wall at CIA headquarters in Virginia on Saturday to accuse the media of lying about his crowd numbers. Later, his press secretary, Sean Spicer, repeated the claims at a rancorous press briefing. Senior aide Kellyanne Conway claimed on Sunday that the pair had presented 'alternative facts'." ... "On Thursday, the founder of Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft, reportedly claimed the site had been granted a White House press credential. / Given the site's track record, a White House press credential for Gateway Pundit would set a dangerous precedent. It has published reports speculating that Obama is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and falsely claimed that anti-Trump protests have been funded by George Soros."


Media Matters - New York Times: Trump Ally Roger Stone Under Investigation For Possible Russia Ties
(Using Media Matters because I've already used up my monthly allotment of free New York Times articles. Also note this is only an investigation at this stage, and may not turn up anything. For now, it's a story to keep an eye on. Anyway, quoting their excerpt of the Times article:)

"American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said. / The continuing counterintelligence investigation means that Mr. Trump will take the oath of office on Friday with his associates under investigation and after the intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government had worked to help elect him. As president, Mr. Trump will oversee those agencies and have the authority to redirect or stop at least some of these efforts." ... "In August, The Times reported that Mr. Manafort's name had surfaced in a secret ledger that showed he had been paid millions in undisclosed cash payments. / The Associated Press has reported that his work for Ukraine included a secret lobbying effort in Washington aimed at influencing American news organizations and government officials."


Business Insider - CBO: The GOP's Obamacare repeal could leave 27 million people without health insurance and cause premiums to skyrocket

[Just to emphasize - this CBO report assumes no replacement for the ACA, only showing the effects if Republicans don't come up with a replacement quickly after repeal.]
"The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan office within the legislature that provides research on the impact of possible policies, said in a report released Tuesday that a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, would have huge effects on the US healthcare system." ... "...congressional Republicans and President-elect Donald Trump have promised to quickly create a replacement for the healthcare law, and these projections do not take into account the possible effects of such a bill." ... " 'The number of people who are uninsured would increase by 18 million in the first new plan year following enactment of the bill,' the report said. 'Later, after the elimination of the ACA's expansion of Medicaid eligibility and of subsidies for insurance purchased through the ACA marketplaces, that number would increase to 27 million, and then to 32 million in 2026.' " ... "In addition to the effects on insurance coverage from a repeal, the CBO report estimates that premiums would be 20-25% more than they would be if the ACA were kept in place over the next year; if the ACA were fully repealed, premiums would increase by 50%."

Related: Reuters - Health insurers quietly shape Obamacare replacement with fewer risks


Reuters - Trump administration tells EPA to cut climate page from website: sources

[Note: for now, at least, this plan has been put on hold, as revealed by E&E News - Staff told to 'stand down' on axing climate page. However, given Trump's views and his cabinet picks, this is something to watch very closely.]
"U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website, two agency employees told Reuters, the latest move by the newly minted leadership to erase ex-President Barack Obama's climate change initiatives. / The employees were notified by EPA officials on Tuesday that the administration had instructed EPA's communications team to remove the website's climate change page, which contains links to scientific global warming research, as well as detailed data on emissions. The page could go down as early as Wednesday, the sources said."

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Trump Roundup - 6

Donald TrumpThis is my semi-regular feature to post links to articles about Donald Trump along with excerpts from those articles. Trump has the potential to cause so much damage to our country and the world that it's every citizen's responsibility to keep pressure on him and our other elected officials to try to minimize the damage. To read previous entries in this series and other Trump related posts, check out my Trump archives.

This isn't a particularly long roundup this week, but I figured I'd post it in 'honor' of the inauguration. Here are today's links:


Slate - Stop Underestimating Donald Trump

"At every turn, pundits and political scientists underestimated Donald Trump. When he announced he was running to be president of the United States, they laughed. When he led the polls for the GOP nomination, they predicted his popularity would be short-lived. When he became the Republican nominee, they celebrated. Against a Rubio or even a Christie, Clinton might have lost. But against Trump? / We've underestimated Trump over and over and over again. And over and over and over again, we've all paid a heavy price. And yet, many of the same pundits and political scientists who confidently predicted that Trump would never be president are now confidently predicting that his presidency will soon be tanked by incompetence and unpopularity." ... "That Trump isn't sure to fail does not mean that he's certain to succeed. It's perfectly possible that he'll crash and burn. But to figure out how to beat Trump, we must start by taking him--and the danger he poses--seriously."


MIT Technology Review - Climate Data Preservation Efforts Mount as Trump Takes Office

"Friday's hackathon follows a series of grassroots data preservation efforts in recent weeks, amid increasing concerns the new administration is filling agencies with climate deniers likely eager to cut off access to scientific data that undermine their policy views. Those worries only grew earlier this week, when Inside EPA reported that the Environmental Protection Agency transition team plans to scrub climate data from the agency's website, citing a source familiar with the team. [emphasis mine]" ... "To be clear, the Trump camp hasn't publicly declared plans to erase or eliminate access to the databases. But there is certainly precedent for state and federal governments editing, removing, or downplaying scientific information that doesn't conform to their political views." ... "an extensive Congressional investigation concluded in a 2007 report that the Bush Administration 'engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming.' "


Industrial Equipment News - Trump's CEO Meetings Raise Ethics Questions

"President-elect Donald Trump's meetings with CEOs seeking federal approval for major mergers are raising red flags for ethics lawyers concerned about the possible erosion of a firewall between the incoming White House and regulators reviewing those billion-dollar deals." ... "Presidents typically keep their distance from such reviews, so as not to appear to be exerting political influence on a regulatory process intended to evaluate the impact a merger could have on competition and consumers. Trump's private sessions suggest he may be less worried with appearing to be close to pending deals that require government approval."


Industrial Equipment News - Trump's Mexico Strategy a 'Dagger at Ohio'

"President-elect Donald Trump's threats to firms using Mexico as a manufacturing base will be counterproductive and could eventually cost thousands of American jobs, Lawrence Summers, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary, warned Wednesday." ... " 'That decline in the peso is a dagger at Ohio; it is a major change in the relative attractiveness of locating production activity in Mexico versus locating it in the American heartland,' Summers told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. / 'And the consequence of that is measured not in the dozens or hundreds but in the thousands, or ten thousands or even hundreds of thousands of jobs.' / The lesson of history, he added, is that 'classic populism is invariably counterproductive for those in whose name it is offered as a policy regime.' "


Slate - Is Donald Trump a Fascist?

[Written during the primaries, but still relevant.]
"There are certainly some echoes of fascism, but there are also very profound differences." ... "First of all, there are the kinds of themes Trump uses. The use of ethnic stereotypes and exploitation of fear of foreigners is directly out of a fascist's recipe book. 'Making the country great again' sounds exactly like the fascist movements. Concern about national decline, that was one of the most prominent emotional states evoked in fascist discourse, and Trump is using that full-blast, quite illegitimately, because the country isn't in serious decline, but he's able to persuade them that it is. That is a fascist stroke. An aggressive foreign policy to arrest the supposed decline. That's another one. Then, there's a second level, which is a level of style and technique. He even looks like Mussolini in the way he sticks his lower jaw out, and also the bluster, the skill at sensing the mood of the crowd, the skillful use of media." ... "And the capacity of Trump to enlist working-class voters against the left is exactly what Hitler and Mussolini were able to do. There are definitely echoes."

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Trump Roundup - 5

Donald TrumpThis is my semi-regular feature to post links to articles about Donald Trump along with excerpts from those articles. Trump has the potential to cause so much damage to our country and the world that it's every citizen's responsibility to keep pressure on him and our other elected officials to try to minimize the damage. To read previous entries in this series and other Trump related posts, check out my Trump archives.

Although I usually only post these updates every few weeks, and the last update was just a week ago, a lot happened in the past week worth mentioning. Here are today's links:


NPR - Trump Denies Allegations Of Secret Ties, Collusion Between Campaign And Russia

[Let me stress that the document mentioned is still unverified. If it's true, it's huge news, but it may just as well turn out to be false. For now, this is just a story to keep an eye on.]
"Top U.S. intelligence officials have briefed leaders in Washington about an explosive -- but unverified -- document that alleges collusion between Russia and President-elect Donald Trump, NPR has learned." ... "NPR is not detailing the contents of the brief because it remains unverified, but it describes a concerted effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to cultivate a relationship with Trump and his camp. The document, which describes information provided by Russian government and other sources, details behavior by Trump that could leave him open to blackmail, as well as alleged secret meetings between Trump aides and Russian officials called to discuss the campaign against Clinton and potential new business relationships."


The Atlantic - Donald Trump's Conflicts of Interest: A Crib Sheet
A semi-comprehensive list of the business concerns that may influence the president-elect as he prepares for the nation's highest office

"Since his election, an ever-increasing level of attention has been paid to the unprecedented conflicts of interest that President-elect Donald J. Trump seems likely to bring with him when he assumes office. His responses to the concerns have been varied and, at times, contradictory." ... "Unless Trump acts to put appropriate distance between himself and his business ventures, these questions are likely to continue throughout his time in the Oval Office. Below is an attempt to catalogue the more clear-cut examples of conflicts of interest that have emerged so far" The article then goes on to detail 20 different cases.


Vox - US spies just briefed Trump on the Russia hack. His response barely mentions Russia.

"It's important to take stock of how astounding this is. A Republican president-elect is signal boosting the ideas of a Russian-linked, anti-American activist who literally published a book titled The World According to US Empire. It's a telling little moment that offers a glimpse of just how strange international and domestic politics are going to be in the Trump era." ... "What this statement reveals, more than anything else, is Trump's priorities. He is not interested in a dispassionate assessment of the Russian hack of the election, or the threat such hacking poses to US democracy. He is interested in minimizing any perceived threat to his own legitimacy from people who decide he owes his election to backing from the Kremlin."

Related: Vox - Trump is siding with Julian Assange against the US intelligence community


CNN OpEd - The folly of Trump's palace guard

"At the end of the day we might conclude that the private security detail isn't that big of a deal -- it satisfies the President-Elect's princely pretensions and gives him an excuse to keep his buddies close by. But make no mistake: There is much at stake when it comes to tolerating such a detail. Acquiescence signals a willingness to credit arguments that an elite federal institution such as the Secret Service is unreliable, that armed contractors acting somewhat under the color of state law are acceptable, and that self-funded bureaucratic fiefdoms insulated from congressional control are anything but constitutionally offensive. "


CNN OpEd - Donald Trump is 'gaslighting' America

"Mental health professionals have made much of the practice [gaslighting], said to be a favorite of narcissists and abusive spouses. But more recently the tactical tampering with the truth has become a preferred method of strongmen around the world. Gaslighting by other means was always a common feature of dictatorships, but it has found new vogue as a more subtle form of domestic political control even in countries with varying degrees of democracy. / Now Trump has brought it to the United States. The techniques include saying and doing things and then denying it, blaming others for misunderstanding, disparaging their concerns as oversensitivity, claiming outrageous statements were jokes or misunderstandings, and other forms of twilighting the truth." ... "In the end, few people can keep up with all the facts all the time. And as he [Trump] tries to undercut the credibility of serious journalists, he makes it even harder for everyone else to find an easy path to the truth." ... "The challenge will be a steep one for journalists and for all Americans, when so much of what comes from the next president has to be checked and double-checked. The first step is to establish when there is a gaslighting operation in progress. / Then comes the battle to hold on to the facts."


Slate - Ethics Office Warns Trump Cabinet Confirmations Are Moving Too Quickly

"The nonpartisan federal agency that is in charge of vetting those who have been selected to take a seat in President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet says confirmation hearings are being scheduled before ethics reviews can be completed. In a letter to Democratic Senate leaders on Saturday, Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub said the schedule for confirmation hearings is 'of great concern' because his office has not had time to review everyone's potential conflicts." / " 'The announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me. This schedule has created undue pressure on OGE's staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews,' wrote Shaub. 'More significantly, it has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings.' " / "Shaub noted this situation appears to be pretty unprecedented. 'I am not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process,' he wrote."


Washington Post - Donald Trump's 'first attempt to ignore the law'

[Referring to anti-nepotism laws and Trump appointing his son-in-law as a senior adviser] "Is Trump going to be able to get around this, because I see this as Trump's first attempt to ignore the law, act in violation of the law, and he's going to see if he can get away with it. We have a statute that names the president, that names the son-in-law relationship, that Congress identified a problem and enacted a statute prohibiting a president from hiring a son-in-law. President-elect Trump, in my view, is testing the waters to see if he can get away with violating what I would call this government ethics provision. And whether President-elect Trump gets away with this depends, it seems to me, in part on the public response as well as the congressional response.... / We'll see whether President Trump is required to follow the law or not. And so, I think this is enormously significant, because it's an initial test of whether -- we've seen as a candidate, Donald Trump has violated norms, and now we're going to see whether he also plans to violate the law."


Politico - Why Trump's Meeting With RFK Jr. Has Scientists Worried

"Of all Donald Trump's conspiratorial obsessions, perhaps one of the most dangerous has been his long promotion of the much-debunked theory that vaccines cause autism." ... "Now, Trump is going to be the president of the United States, and doctors and scientists are raising the alarm about the potential consequences of having a man in charge of the country's public health system who dabbles in discredited scientific theories. / Those concerns only grew on Tuesday, when Trump met with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer who has long been immersed in those discredited theories." ... "Which is why the news of the meeting--and Kennedy's subsequent confirmation on Thursday that he will leave his environmental group to chair a vaccine safety commission for the president--has sparked immediate condemnation from experts in the medical and scientific communities, who worry about what Trump's choice of advisers says about his public health agenda."


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The remainder of the linked articles deal with some of Trump's cabinet picks, demonstrating his poor judgment in picking such people.


L.A. Times - Rocky confirmation hearing expected for Rex Tillerson, Trump's pick for America's top diplomat

"As chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corp., Tillerson championed energy development projects in Russia and developed such close personal ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he is one of the few Americans ever awarded Russia's 'Order of Friendship.' / Their relationship has raised questions about whether Tillerson would take a forceful position against an adversary that, U.S. intelligence agencies say, used hacked emails, propaganda and fake news to try to help Trump win in November and to "harm" Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's chances."


Wired - Tillerson's Hearing Seals It: the US Won't Lead on Climate Change

"At Exxon, Tillerson was charged with maximizing profits even at the expense of a warming planet. As secretary of state, he'll play a key role in negotiating a global strategy to combat climate change. The question is whether he'll be able to set aside his allegiance to the fossil fuel industry in favor of true progress on the climate. His noncommittal answers at today's hearing --including his refusal to admit that the scientific evidence for human-caused climate change is conclusive--didn't inspire confidence."


Politico - Flynn under fire for fake news

"As Donald Trump's national security adviser, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will have to advise the president of the veracity of foreign and domestic threats, separating those that require immediate policy action from propaganda or misinformation. / But Flynn himself has used social media to promote a series of outrageous conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and their inner circles in recent months -- pushing dubious factoids at least 16 times since Aug. 9, according to a POLITICO review of his Twitter posts. Flynn, who has 106,000 Twitter followers, has used the platform to retweet accusations that Clinton is involved with child sex trafficking and has 'secretly waged war' on the Catholic Church, as well as charges that Obama is a 'jihadi' who 'laundered' money for Muslim terrorists. / Now some say Flynn's fondness for spreading fake news casts doubt on his fitness to serve as the White House's national security adviser, suggesting that he either can't spot a blatant falsehood or is just ideologically bent to believe the worst of his perceived enemies."


Chicago Tribune - More than 1,100 law school professors oppose Jeff Sessions's nomination as attorney general

"A group of more than 1,100 law school professors from across the country is sending a letter to Congress Tuesday urging the Senate to reject the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., for attorney general." ... " 'We are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation's laws and promote justice and equality in the United States,' says the letter..." ... "The law professors wrote that some of them have concerns about Sessions's prosecution of three civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in 1985, his support for building a wall along the nation's southern border and his 'repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community.' "


Huffington Post - An Open Letter From Urban Affairs And Housing Scholars To The Senate: Reject Ben Carson As HUD Secretary

"Some of the nation's leading scholars on housing and urban affairs have signed an open letter opposing president-elect Donald Trump's nomination of Dr. Ben Carson to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The letter, addressed to Republican Senator Michael Crapo, chair of the Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and Senator Sherrod Brown, the ranking Democratic on the committee, notes that Carson not only remains dismissive of government responses to poverty in general, he has publicly expressed disdain for HUD's particular mission to ensure a safe home for every American."

Full Letter


NBC News - Trump Picks Energy Department Opponent Rick Perry for Energy Secretary

"President-elect Donald Trump has selected former Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- who famously once forgot that he wanted to abolish the Energy Department -- to be secretary of energy, two sources familiar with the transition process told NBC News on Monday night." ... "As governor, Perry championed the oil industry, questioning science that shows that greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change and deriding what he called 'the secular carbon cult.' / At a presidential town hall in 2011, he said, 'I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.' "


CBS News - Trump official Monica Crowley accused of numerous instances of plagiarism

"Monica Crowley, President-elect Donald Trump's pick to run communications for the National Security Council, is being accused of numerous instances of plagiarism that took place throughout her career. / CNN reports that HarperCollins will no longer sell new copies of Crowley's 2012 book after a number of instances of plagiarism were found. And according to a Monday report by Politico Magazine, Crowley plagiarized a number of passages in her 2000 Columbia University PhD dissertation." ... "In a statement to CNN, the Trump transition team initially defended Crowley ... 'Any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country.' "

Friday, January 6, 2017

Friday Trump Roundup - 4

Donald TrumpThis is my semi-regular feature to post links to articles about Donald Trump along with excerpts from those articles. Trump has the potential to cause so much damage to our country and the world that it's every citizen's responsibility to keep pressure on him and our other elected officials to try to minimize the damage. To read previous entries in this series and other Trump related posts, check out my Trump archives.

This is a rather short entry given that I wasn't reading and collecting too much about Trump over the holidays, but I figured it was about time for another post. Here are this week's links:


Bad Astronomy - Another Day, Another Anti-Science Trump Pick For Federal Office

"In case you were still wondering about the incoming Trump administration's attitude toward science --and at this point you'd have to live on Mars to not see what's going on-- take a look at the person Trump has picked to run the Office of Management and Budget (OMB): Congressperson Mick Mulvaney (R-South Carolina). / As we've seen, Trump's choices for government positions have been anything from grossly unqualified to vocally antagonistic toward the agency they'll be in charge of; for his part Mulvaney says Trump will 'restore fiscal sanity back in Washington,' which is at best a bizarre proclamation. And of course he's a climate change denier; that's de rigeur for nearly every Trump pick. / But he's more worrisome even than that. As Pema Levy at Mother Jones has written, Mulvaney questions whether government should be funding scientific research." ... "I keep looking for some ray of hope, some move by the incoming administration that's even just a nod toward reality. When it comes to science, it's become crystal clear the opposite is true: Trump and his cohorts will do what they can to reverse many of the advances we've made, and they'll use their gross (and/or willfull) misunderstanding of the foundational principles of science to do so."


Time - Donald Trump Wants President Obama's Ambassadors Out by Inauguration Day

"In a break from tradition, President-elect Donald Trump has asked that all of President Obama's foreign ambassadors leave their posts by Inauguration Day, according to new reports. / Citing unnamed sources, the New York Times and Politico report that Trump's transition team sent an order saying all ambassadors had to be out of their posts by Jan. 20 "without exceptions." The order was delivered by a State Department cable sent just before Christmas. This could leave the United States without Senate-confirmed ambassadors around the world for weeks or months after Trump takes office."


NPR - On Intelligence And Russian Hacking, Are Trump And His Team Missing The Point?

"But what Trump, as the future president, seems to have trouble accepting is that this is a national security issue, not a political one. Instead, the Trump team continues to focus, be driven by and be defensive about the politics." ... "Let's see how Trump responds after his intelligence briefing Friday, because right now, he and the country are in the very strange position of having an incoming American president who, it seems, would rather believe adversaries than American intelligence when it contradicts his predisposed view."


News Week OpEd - Robert Reich: Rallies and Lies. This Is How Tyranny Begins

"In short, the rallies and tweets give Trump an unprecedented platform for telling Big Lies without fear of contradiction--and therefore for advancing whatever agenda he wishes. / It's no coincidence that Trump continues to denigrate the media, and hasn't held a news conference since July. / A president intent on developing a base of enthusiastic supporters who believe boldface lies poses a clear threat to American democracy. This is how tyranny begins."

Related: Fifteen Ways to Spot a Tyrant


NY Times OpEd - How Republics End (Paul Krugman)

"Many people are reacting to the rise of Trumpism and nativist movements in Europe by reading history -- specifically, the history of the 1930s. And they are right to do so. It takes willful blindness not to see the parallels between the rise of fascism and our current political nightmare." ... "[Referring to ancient Rome] Here's what I learned: Republican institutions don't protect against tyranny when powerful people start defying political norms. And tyranny, when it comes, can flourish even while maintaining a republican facade."


Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday Trump Roundup - 3

Donald TrumpThis is my semi-regular feature to post links to articles about Donald Trump along with excerpts from those articles. Trump has the potential to cause so much damage to our country and the world that it's every citizen's responsibility to keep pressure on him and our other elected officials to try to minimize the damage. To be honest, even this is only a sampling of the negative actions Trump has undertaken in the past couple weeks. I fear it's going to be a very bad four years. To read previous entries in this series and other Trump related posts, check out my Trump archives.

Anyway, here are this week's links:


Scientific American blogs - Trump's Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education

"Trump is already showing which direction he's taking the country's public education. If you care about kids being taught science, you'd best gird yourself for a war, because we're going to have to fight to preserve our children's right to a strong STEM education. / To begin with, Trump's Vice President, to whom he plans to delegate most of the actual presidential work, is an evolution-denying Christian extremist who wants creationism taught in public schools. He's also brought all his political power to bear on overturning the will of Indiana voters while he pushes for expansions of school vouchers and charter schools." ... "So Trump went with his second choice: a conservative Christian billionaire who also loves charter schools and vouchers for private (including religious) schools. She pours money and support into anti-evolution Christian schools and organizations like Grove City College and the Willow Creek Association. Betsy DeVos has been a disaster for education in Michigan. Now, she's being given the chance to push that failure of an agenda nationwide."


Scientific American blogs - An Open Letter from Scientists to President-Elect Trump on Climate Change
(I did already post about this.)

"Climate change threatens America's economy, national security, and public health and safety. Some communities are already experiencing its impacts, with low-income and minority groups disproportionately affected. / At this crucial juncture in human history, countries look to the United States to pick up the mantle of leadership: to take steps to strengthen, not weaken, this nation's efforts to tackle this crisis. With the eyes of the world upon us, and amidst uncertainty and concern about how your administration will address this issue, we ask that you begin by taking the following steps upon taking office..."


Washington Post - Trump's unpredictable style unnerves corporate America

" 'When a chief exec is making individual calls to individual companies, he's in some sense acting like a central planner,' Mankiw said. 'We have a lot of history under communism that suggests it doesn't work well in practice, and that's the direction you're heading in as the president starts to weigh in on individual business decisions.' "


Nature - Trump's pick for environment agency chief sued government over climate rules

"President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Oklahoma attorney-general Scott Pruitt to lead the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). / Pruitt, who must be confirmed by the US Senate, is an ardent opponent of federal regulations to curb climate change and has questioned the science underlying global warming. He is one of dozens of state officials who have mounted a legal challenge to President Barack Obama's limits on greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants -- regulations that Trump has promised to repeal."


Quora - Thomas Friedman - Did [his] opinion of President Elect Trump change after meeting him in person?

"what I learned at the meeting was a lot about the people he's surrounded himself with. Because no one thought he was going to win for fifteen months, he could only attract extremists and goofballs. Now that he's won you realize he's been talking to Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon, and the Mike Flynns of the world. It's the Star Wars bar of extremists and nut cases." ... "I'm encouraging everyone to engage him. You cannot underestimate how much he's been living in a bubble talking to the Rudy Giulianis of the world."


Vox - Trump is trying to use Taiwan as a bargaining chip with China. Bad idea.: China's government won't risk looking like it's giving in to a bully.

" 'That's particularly important to Chinese nationalists, who have great sway over the political dynamics of the country. And that means China is unlikely to back down on Taiwan. "China would be willing to suspend all negotiation rather than let him move the status quo on the issue,' she says. / If that's true, Trump's apparent willingness to roll the dice on abandoning decades of tradition out of a belief that his negotiating skills could give the US a leg up over China could in fact leave Washington with a weaker hand that it had before. Trump may not want to admit it, but the US can't just get it wants simply by pretending the rules of the game don't exist."


Vox - The real reason Trump's denial that Russia hacked Democrats' emails is so worrying

"The bigger picture here is that Trump's actions over the past few days have sent an unmistakably clear signal across the government, and among those who will soon staff it. People who agree with the consensus conclusion of those 17 agencies will likely now feel distinctly unwelcome in the new administration, and fear political pressure to deny evidence and realities that are inconvenient to Trump. That helps ensure that people who have no compunctions about lying to advance Trump's agenda, will fill top posts. And intelligence agencies will feel pressure to cook their findings." "But in another sense, it's extremely troubling. Potential Russian interference in US elections is a very serious matter. And again, the consensus conclusion of 17 intelligence agencies is that the Russian government or entities closely tied to it are behind the hackings. Yet Trump's team is making it loud and clear that their conclusions will not be accepted, because they aren't what the president-elect wants to hear."


Vox - Trump's team is asking for the names of Energy Department employees who worked on climate issues

"What's unusual here, though, is the request for a list of any career agency employees or contractors who even worked on the issue. Indeed, it's unclear why this would even be necessary. 'It reads more like a subpoena than a request for information,' says Michael Halpern, deputy director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concern Scientists. 'I've never seen transition teams asking for list of civil service employees.' "


Bad Astronomy - Trump Advisor Turns the Anti-Science Up to 11

"You might want to read that last sentence again. Yes, Scaramucci said the Earth is only 5,500 years old. / I'm not surprised by this, to be honest. A lot of the people Trump has enveloped himself in are creationists as well as climate change deniers; VP Mike Pence is one, Rick Perry appointed creationists to the Texas State School Board over and again, and Ben Carson said evolution is Satanic and the Big Bang is a fairy tale." ... "Instead, Trump nominates a passel of fossil-fuel driven climate change deniers to his cabinet, including ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and former Texas Governor Rick Perry (who has deep ties to the fossil fuel industry) for the Department of Energy. / Actions speak louder than words here."

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