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Monthly Archives: October 2019


We have always been suspicious of elected officials, their parties and their motives especially when their motives are counter to what we personally think. Our personal opinions are informed by what we read (correct or not) and more modernly the influence of mass media right in our pockets. In the back of our minds, we always think the political parties are barely on our side and have been proven correct enough times to maintain that distrust to the point of being swayed by any information that seems true according to our core beliefs (proven or unproven). Our enate information while valuable for everyday living until we reach the learning stage of high school where for the most part we receive the opportunity to interact with others of different faiths, creeds and ideas (the formative years?). After high school comes additional education in the form of college, tech schools and military service. These all come with the baggage of home learned information which tends to color or tilt our overall thinking. When we become voters and are assailed by political messages which either reinforce our ideas or challenges them, that is when the political information becomes suspect. The political process has always been messy and has become more so since the “Citizens United” decision which opened the flood gates on monetary contributions. This allowed an unlimited amount of cash to flow into the coffers of candidates which rendered them “paid for”. The current political system has maintained and reinforced our sense of politicians maintaining integrity for the good of their party and not for the good of the voters.

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It seems that voter suppression is alive and well in Georgia (and possibly elsewhere). MA

Dartunorro Clark 13 hrs ago NBC News

The move comes ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The state will also have an unusual “double-barreled” Senate contest, with both of its seats up for grabs at the same time.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office said that it plans to send notices to voters who have been inactive for the past couple of elections and the notice will come with a paid return postage to give voters the opportunity to remain active. People have 30 days to return the notice.
Walter Jones, communications director for the office’s voter education project, told NBC News that the number of potential cancellations constitutes roughly 4 percent of Georgians on the voter rolls.
“This is not an outstanding number, relatively speaking,” he said. “Registration is considered inactive if there has no interaction with the registration system.”
The 2018 gubernatorial election between now-Gov. Brian Kemp, the Republican secretary of state at the time, and Democrat Stacey Abrams was roiled by accusations of voter registration purges and suppression. Kemp won by less than 2 percent. Also, in July 2017, Georgia canceled more than 530,000 registration — the largest in state history, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The plan to remove the inactive voters was announced Monday, the paper reported.
Jones said the move is routine list maintenance but voters could also get off the inactive list by voting in Georgia’s upcoming Nov. 5 election, returning the cancellation notice or registering with the state’s department of driver services.
However, Fair Fight Action, a group founded by Abrams that is suing the state over its handling of elections, excoriated the move in a tweet on Monday.
“Voters should not lose their right to vote simply because they have decided not to express that right in recent elections,” the group said. “Anytime a voter purge is conducted, errors can be made, including active voters being wrongly included on the list.”

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Listening to several political talk shows and the folks who call in to them, I realized that TOTUS and many of his supporters have Colonial Mindsets. The type of thinking that many years ago allowed the European and Asian countries who had the power to take and drain the resources on the conquered. One caller applauded the killing of the last(?) ISIS leader while citing TOTUS’s statement regarding the “protection”(?) of the oil fields (which are nowhere close to where the ISIS leader was killed). The same caller stated that we should take the oil much like the early conquerors took the resources of the conquered. It is apparent that many Americans who enjoy the fruits of early colonialism misremember what the original Americans (you know the NATIVE AMERICANS) lost during the first 100 years of this country. Is it possible that many nonnative aka “White” (no matter what other nationality) Americans do not or cannot see the folly of their notions, attitudes, and pseudo historic sense of our country? Unfortunately, American prosperity was built on the European model of conquering and oppressing rather than the premise of acting like a guest (as it were) in someone else’s country. Apparently many have lost (or never had) the ability to accept and coexist with other people (I don’t say Race as we are all of the Human Race) who are different. NO ONE is above the law and NO ONE is better than anyone else except in their particular circumstances. So Update your thinking to 2019 and beyond!

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sub·ver·sion
/səbˈvərZH(ə)n,səbˈvərSH(ə)n/
noun
noun: subversion; plural noun: subversions
the undermining of the power and authority of an established system or institution.
“the ruthless subversion of democracy”

The current administration has seemingly made subversion a tool of its daily work. Over the past 3 years, TOTUS has continued campaigning rather than run the government with integrity. Aided by an almost criminal Congress and the related Whitehouse aides and miscreants, this administration has opened the U.S. to international and national ridicule. Our long-time allies while not speaking out have opted to do the work they need to do without the U.S. At the same time our long-time enemies have risen in our place as “protectors”. This dereliction of duty by the administration has allowed this strengthening of bad actors in the world while spending valuable capital pursuing and punishing immigrants new and long time U.S. residents. The U.S. has long contributed to our Southern hemisphere neighbors to enable them to provide better conditions for their residents. TOTUS and his “crew” have cut those funds,  allowing for the dire conditions there to become more urgent. This increased urgency (coupled with in some cases) the rise of an unscrupulous leader has caused great harm and desperation in the people who then flee their homes and livelihoods. The flow of people has led to the crisis on our Southern border and at other entry points of our country. This defunding has only weakened us a country while satisfying the baser instincts of a small core of people. In effect, the U.S. has been subverted by an administration devoted to self-service.

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The Post’s View
Opinion

By Editorial Board
Oct. 24, 2019 at 5:51 p.m. CDT
THERE IS an old Washington saying that if you’re arguing about process, you’re losing. A follow-on maxim might be: If you are wrong on process, too, you must really be in trouble.
That would apply to the 30 or so Republicans who stormed a Wednesday House Intelligence Committee hearing in a secure Capitol facility, objecting that Democrats have, so far, conducted impeachment proceedings behind closed doors.
The stunt disrupted the testimony of Pentagon official Laura Cooper and temporarily distracted Washington from the evidence of President Trump’s misconduct. The latter seemed to be the point, but Ms. Cooper simply testified a few hours later.

It’s already clear that the president grossly abused his office. Mr. Trump himself released a rough transcript of a call in which he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his family, as Mr. Zelensky sought military aid and a White House meeting. Republicans have offered no persuasive defense of the president’s actions, because there is none.

Fear-driven Republicans have been enablers of President Trump with their silence, argues Post columnist George F. Will. (Joy Sharon Yi/The Washington Post)
Yet questions remain, and House committees are methodically looking for answers. Lawmakers lack a voluminous investigative record like independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr’s 1998 report. They must do their own basic investigating, which is why it makes sense to hold some hearings behind closed doors. Investigators don’t want witnesses to play for the cameras or dishonestly align their testimony with that of earlier witnesses. Classified material may be discussed. Republicans, in their incessant and fruitless investigations of Hillary Clinton and the 2012 Benghazi attacks, held many closed hearings — and insisted they were the most useful.
Moreover, Republican legislators are present at all of these closed-door sessions and are free to pose questions. In fact, the rules allowed many of those who stormed Wednesday’s testimony to enter the room in a civilized fashion if they so chose. The impression Republicans tried to convey, of Democrats cooking up an illegitimate indictment of the president while locking all others out of the room, is a partisan fantasy.

Marginally more persuasive was a memo Senate Republicans released Thursday complaining that the full House had not formally voted on conducting an impeachment inquiry and that Mr. Trump is not allowed counsel in the room. Neither is required by the Constitution or House rules. But holding a vote would add legitimacy, and, more to the point, the sooner House investigators move from closed hearings to open ones, the better. Citizens should learn the scope and gravity of the president’s misdeeds so they can form their own conclusions. House leaders should release transcripts of closed hearings, consistent with the protection of classified material, as soon as possible.

Of course, all of this could happen sooner if the Trump administration were not stonewalling lawmakers’ legitimate requests for information.

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The hits keep coming.MA
ABC News

5 hrs ago

Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin joined ABC News’ “The Briefing Room” on Friday, expressing concern over a “shadow government” within the Trump administration that, he said, made it more difficult to do his job.

“You serve at their pleasure, and the president should have the team around him or her that allows them to feel comfortable and to get the advice they want, there’s no issue with that,” he told ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks. “The issue that I’ve raised in the book and just laid out the facts — for people to decide — is this was being orchestrated by a small number of political appointees who weren’t elected and weren’t put in place to decide who should be secretary.”
When asked about the current administration, Shulkin added, “I think that President Trump is struggling right now.”
Shulkin served as VA secretary from February 2017 until his departure in March 2018, after an ethics investigation and alleged misuse of taxpayer dollars.
He said they created the situation by leaking and creating “false information” that had an influence on the other members of government.
In his new book, “It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country: Our Broken Government and the Plight of Veterans,” Shulkin describes the nation’s capital as “toxic, chaotic and subversive.”
When Parks asked if the book, in part, was a way for him to settle the score after he said a “shadow government” of political appointees worked to undermine him, Shulkin said it wasn’t.
“I wrote the book because I feel so strongly that our veterans deserve the very best care and services that this country can offer,” Shulkin said. “I had found a formula, I think, for working within government to make that better and I wanted to share what was working and what wasn’t.”
Shulkin’s advice? More Americans need to volunteer to serve and help make the government better, including helping to protect whistleblowers.
A report published Thursday by the VA inspector general showed the VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection failed to meet its stated goals under the Whistleblower Protection Act. The office, specifically created by President Donald Trump to clean up the challenged agency, didn’t meet its objectives and created circumstances that could put whistleblowers at further risk for retaliation.
“In its first two years of operation, the OAWP acted in ways that were inconsistent with its statutory authority while it simultaneously floundered in its mission to protect
Shulkin said he agreed it was tough for people to speak out even when he was in office, but that it wasn’t his intention.
“Well, I think that there’s no doubt that this has been an environment that has been tough for many people who have tried to speak out. When I was secretary we passed through Congress, and the president signed, the Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act,” Shulkin added. “We were enacting new legislation to be able to make sure that people felt comfortable speaking out when they saw wrongdoing and that certainly was not the intention or an environment that I supported where there was retaliation.”
He expressed concern over partisanship preventing what he feels should be a bipartisan effort.
“Unfortunately, I think that this pattern of behavior, the experience that I had, which I think took away from the ability to focus, in this case on veterans, is not, unfortunately, a unique experience,” he said. “I’ve seen the same thing happen to many other people who have come to serve, many dedicated career professionals, who, trying to do the job and there for the right reason because they believe in government and they believe in their country, being prevented from doing their job every day.”
Shulkin said Trump and “others in Washington” should take a lesson on service from veterans.
“Veterans are about serving and putting country first and I think we all have a lot to learn from them,” he said. “I think that this is a country that is divided, and it’s hard to be a leader of a divided country, and I would hope that he would see that this is the opportunity to really lead in a very different direction.”

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“There is not much progress being made in Washington these days and contrary to what my Republican colleagues might tell you, it’s not impeachment and it’s not House Democrats who are holding things up.”

It’s Senator Mitch McConnell.

During the 116th Congress, the House of Representatives has passed more than 150 pieces of legislation under the steady leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Legislation to lower prescription drug prices, expand gun background checks, and fight climate change.
On February 27, the House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. As of today, eight months and many mass shootings later, Senator McConnell has still not brought it up for a vote in the Senate.

On April 4, the House passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. As we wait to vote on this bill in the Senate, survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence wait for critical updates to this landmark law.

On May 2, the House passed the Climate Action Now Act to recommit the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement. The clock is ticking on saving our planet, but the Senate Majority Leader won’t bring this bill to the floor for a vote.

On June 4, the House passed the American Dream and Promise Act to protect the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers living in the U.S. and provide them with a path to citizenship. We still have not voted on this bill in the Senate.

On July 27, the House passed the Securing America’s Federal Elections Act, or SAFE Act, to push back against foreign interference in our elections and protect our democracy. This bill, like so many others, has not been brought up for a vote by Senator McConnell.
Unfortunately, so many important bills have languished on the desk of Senator McConnell, buried in his legislative graveyard.

Regardless, Democrats will continue working for the American people. We will keep pushing Senator McConnell to do his job, end the legislative graveyard, and at the very least, take up votes on bills that have passed the House.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)

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In case you hadn’t noticed, national politics have shifted from the absurd to the sublime. The current administration has shown how greedily our electeds want to hold on to power for power’s sake rather than for the sake of service to the country. Each major party has had its time in the limelight and squandered it. It is of less importance who the titular head of the government is when the combined legislative members are suspect and corrupt in morals and integrity. The current hearings can be likened to a “show of hands” of public opinion of the administration and the legislature. The degradation of our always suspect political system has steadily gone downwards in the past 20 years and we (voters) still ignore the 1000 pound canary in the room. The only and most effective control of the government is the vote. No amount of mass media, rallies or speeches can tell you what a candidate or party is about or what they will do. What can be done is to look at the past and current record of the candidates and how their actions have or will affect ALL of us no matter what our party affiliation is. There are still a lot of attempts to pull the “political wool” over the eyes of the voters and many of us have allowed it by remaining uninformed and essentially “phoning in” our votes and loyalty. It is now time to shear the fleecers.

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October 17, 2019 Cristina Tardáguila
(category: Fact checking ICFN)
After surviving the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a democratic process historically marked by the amount of false news produced and distributed by doubtful sources, it looks like the American people will face a 2020 presidential campaign plagued by a new type of disinformation: promoted by White House candidates using lots and lots of money.
In recent weeks, some of the most prominent names for next year’s campaign have started to spend huge amounts of money on Facebook ads aiming to take certain (false) information to a targeted audience.
These politicians chose to act this way, aware that fact-checkers can’t flag their claims as false on the platform. The Third Party Fact-Checking Project (3PFC) has never allowed that.
Since Facebook’s verification project began in the United States in 2016, fact-checkers have been forbidden to point out on the platform falsehoods said by politicians in their profiles. It doesn’t matter if the misleading content is posted in a text, a photo and/or a video, or if it’s an organic publication or an ad. Following Facebook’s instructions, politicians can’t be fact-checked on the platform.
The company has said it doesn’t interfere at all in the political debate nor in the freedom of expressing all political opinions.
The consequence of this decision, however, became a topic for discussion in the United States in recent days and may point toward the beginning of a new era of electoral mis/disinformation.
On Oct. 2, concerned with the investigation related to his impeachment process, President Donald Trump posted a Facebook ad attacking former Vice President Joe Biden.
In a 30-second video, posted on Facebook by Trump’s re-election campaign, the U.S. president’s team “reported” to thousands of Facebook users that, when Biden was in the White House, he offered $1 billion to Ukrainians to remove a certain prosecutor from an investigation opened against Hunter Biden for corruption.
Hunter Biden, the son of the former vice president, however, has never investigated in Ukraine. Trump’s video spread false content but kept circulating on Facebook for several days, free of any of those common alerts made by fact-checkers on the platform.
Angry at the situation and worried about the extent of the negative message sent about his family, Biden wrote a letter to Facebook on Oct. 9 asking the platform to remove Trump’s announcement and to make it clear that the company did not agree with the official disinformation.
Facebook replied to Biden with another letter. In the text, the company said it would not touch the president’s ad because Facebook believed in freedom of expression and the need to not interfere in the electoral debate. Facebook stressed that, from its point of view, political discourse is already commonly verified.
Biden classified the answer as being “unacceptable,” but noted that he couldn’t do anything else.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand, saw, in that case, an opportunity to get the public’s attention.
Instead of writing a letter, she posted on Facebook an ad saying that Mark Zuckerberg and his company had decided to support Trump in the 2020 elections. Then she explained that this was an example of false news, created simply to emphasize how important it is that Facebook takes action against deceptive political ads.
From the fact-checkers’ point of view, it was curious to see that both ads — Trump’s and Warren’s — brought up similar questions: Has the time come to control the degree of veracity of online advertising? Is our society, which has always known that advertising manufactures some exaggerations and deceptions, ready to accept totally false ads? And what do Americans think of those who make money by publishing false propaganda?
A study by the British newspaper The Guardian using public data released by the Facebook Library Ads has concluded, for example, that Trump’s campaign has spent between $1.3 million and $3.8 million in the last month to promote 5,883 ads. It’s a lot of money and a lot of content. It would take an army of fact-checkers to verify it all.
That is why, from the International Fact-Checking Network’s point of view, what emerges from this discussion is a clear need to give more room for the fact-checkers.
In the United States, IFCN has more than five active verified members. They are organizations that work on a daily basis, under a Code of Principles that requires a commitment to nonpartisanship, transparency and the use of an efficient public correction policy. Knowing this list can help to navigate this new stage of misinformation, this era in which not only posts but also political ads contain false data.

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Read the Spanish version of this article at Univision.
Cristina Tardáguila is the associate director of the International Fact-Checking Network. She can be reached at ctardaguila@poynter.org.
Correction: An earlier version of this article contained a mistake: Trump’s campaign spent millions on ads – not billions. We apologize for the error. It has been corrected.


The current issues involving  Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Syria and the Kurds have one commonality and that is TOTUS. The “Trump Organization” with all of its components and arms has always been a one man show. Unfortunately, the United States Government does not operate this way. The government has separate branches so that there will not be a one man show. With all of the party politics involved, the government still in practice continues to function. Our purpose as voters is simply to evaluate the candidates for office and make the best decision we can. It is unfortunate that mass media has made the choices a bit tougher to decipher which leads us to an assortment of other outlets for information whether it is true or force. Our present “leaders” are at once staunch party members and independent depending on the issues. There is no doubt that TOTUS is guilty of all or most of the allegations against him so where are the “upright’ citizens and members of Congress who want as honest a government as we can muster?  When the dust settles on all of this we will have alienated our most reliable allies and partners, uplifted our longtime foes and allowed the deaths of civilians by withdrawing troops with no plan. It is wise to look at the countries involved in the middle east conflict: Turkey who as the host country for one of our bases has received Russian made military hardware over our objections and pursuing the Kurds (our allies in the ISIS defeat) as enemies. This pursuit into Syria now brings Syria and Russia into yet another conflict which we will eventually have to make a decision to join or assist. All of this on an underlying bed of  Saudi, Iranian and Israeli tensions. The uninformed hand of TOTUS holds the spoon stirring it all and will throw up his little hands when it all goes south!

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