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Anti-Trump Watch

As the Year Draws to a Close…

This will, in all likelihood, be my last post of the year (barring another Take a Break, if I have the time). As 2016 draws to a close, I’d like to first update you on some events for which Americans everywhere crossed their fingers, but didn’t dare hold their breath. They were right not to do so; hope is a very dangerous thing.

I’ll then move on to the embarrassment that is Peter King and the incompetent that is Ben Carson (and yes, incompetent can be a noun; I checked). I shall close with an update on Inauguration Day planning, in hopes that you will take the time that day to raise your voice against the militaristic, xenophobic regime Trump intends to install in the White House.

This may take a while, so you might want to get some snacks. I’ll wait.

Remember Those Recounts Jill Stein Demanded? Here’s What Happened.

The Wisconsin recount ended on Monday, with Stein gaining 66 votes and Trump gaining 131 votes. Stein had to pay $3.5 million before the recount would take place, and the money came in just barely under the wire. The deadline was November 29th at 4:30pm; confirmation of the wire transfer came in at 4:26pm.

In a rare moment, Trump actually said something a) accurate and b) respectful of American democracy at a victory rally in Wisconsin on Tuesday: “What did they spend: $3.5 million for 131 votes? That’s OK. Tells you how important every single vote in America is.”

(Of course, one wonders how he would have reacted had the recount resulted in more votes for Clinton. No, one doesn’t; he would have hemmed and hawed about how rigged the system is and how Clinton, Soros and others are financing his totally unjust persecution. After all, Clinton is such a nasty woman.)

In Michigan, the state’s Supreme Court shut down the recount after only three days. The state’s highest court ruled 3-2 to reject Stein’s appeal, days after the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that Stein was not eligible to pursue a recount. The Supreme Court’s ruling stated that Stein “failed to allege she’s been harmed or that her legal rights have been infringed in any way whatsoever.”

The elephant in the courtroom, around which the judge danced oh-so-gracefully, is that any time there is reasonable suspicion that election results have in any way been tampered with– whether deliberately or owing to faulty machinery or software– the legal rights of ALL Americans may have been infringed upon, including those of Jill Stein. That she could not prove this prior to the recount, and therefore the case was dismissed, is akin to telling someone who is suing someone else over potential large-scale theft that the case cannot be heard because “You don’t know that this person actually stole from you. You haven’t proven that they infringed on your right to keep your own money.”

Duh, of course I don’t know that they took it; I’m here to demand that you find out. That’s what courts are for; do your job, dumbass!

In Pennsylvania, Stein confronted a similar rejection of her appeal for a recount. “There is no credible evidence that any ‘hack’ occurred, and compelling evidence that Pennsylvania’s voting system was not in any way compromised,” wrote U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond. (Why is the word hack in quotation marks? What is this compelling evidence of which you speak, sir?)

The Washington Post and others have lauded Stein as having done the nation a tremendous public service. May they recall the praises they are presently singing if and when she ever runs for President again. May all Americans now better understand the true value of third parties, which is not only to present alternatives to Evil Dee and Evil Dumb every four years, but also to consistently challenge and, in so doing, protect America’s democracy.

December 19th, 2016: The Day The Electoral College Confirmed Its Irrelevance

While an unprecedented number of electors voted for a candidate other than that which won the popular vote in their state this year, the Electoral College failed in its duty to protect America from an unqualified and/or dangerous (in this case, both) president-elect assuming the highest office in our nation. Given that this is the only justifiable reason to keep the Electoral College in place, and it has proven itself useless, there is no longer any reason not to simply abolish the college and let the Popular Vote decide who becomes President in the future. Indeed, had the college been abolished prior to 2000, America would have been spared the indignities of both George W. Bush and Donald Trump.

A Hawaiian elector who was supposed to vote for Clinton instead voted for Bernie Sanders, while of the four Washington electors who defected from tradition, one voted for Native American elder and leader of the fight against the Keystone Pipeline Faith Spotted Eagle and the rest voted for Colin Powell.

Only two electors, both from Texas, had the cajones to dump Trump; one of these voted for Kasich while the other voted for Ron Paul.

Peter King: An Embarrassment to Our Nation

Peter King is now proposing a nationwide Muslim surveillance program not unlike that tried by the Demographics Unit of the CIA in the wake of 9/11– a unit which was disbanded in 2014 as the government realized that a) it failed to produce any actual intelligence and b) it was grossly discriminatory and overtly racist. William J. Bratton, who succeeded former New York Commissioner Raymond Kelly, has stated that there was “not one actionable piece of intelligence that came out of that unit.”

From the Huffington Post:

Officers in the since-disbanded Demographics Unit infiltrated Muslim student groups, kept track of Muslims who changed their last names, eavesdropped on conversations between Muslims, spied on Muslim-owned businesses, recorded imams’ sermons, and put undercover officers and informants inside mosques….After The Associated Press exposed the NYPD’s surveillance program in a series of Pulitzer-Prize winning reports in 2011, the department was forced to admit in court that the program had yielded exactly zero leads into criminal or terrorist activity

That both Ted Cruz and Peter King have now called for a revival of an inherently racist program that had been proven more than once to yield no information whatsoever to protect the American people– while subjecting scores of Americans to harassment and invasion of privacy– is a national embarrassment. These archaic methods have no place in any modern, tolerant society, and their ambassadors have no place in American politics.

Trump has yet to formally endorse King’s proposal– but he hasn’t bothered to denounce it, either.

Ben Carson Understands Absolutely None of the History of the Department He Will Lead

Last year, Ben Carson, who is slated to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, claimed that the department was engaged in “social engineering” by developing programs which might allow super-poor people to live somewhere other than in super-poor neighborhoods (Heaven forbid!). In so doing, he completely ignores the history of housing assistance in this country, which has led to the very segregation which new initiatives by HUD seek to dismantle.

The Federal Housing Administration, which was created in 1934 and lasted until 1968, engaged in redlining as a matter of course, explicitly refusing to back loans to Black people “or even other people who lived near Black people.” (Similarly, in the Seventies, Trump regularly discriminated against Black housing applicants as President of Trump Management, violating the Fair Housing Act by having rental agents instructed to mark applications coming from people of color with a “c,” telling Black applicants there were no vacancies when there were, and other such travesties.)

That was social engineering. Efforts now underway to ensure that the cycle of generational poverty can be broken– by giving impoverished children a chance at a decent education and safe, cleanly environment in which to flourish– are efforts to restore the natural order, not adulterate it.

Efforts to Thwart Inauguration Day Protests are Underway, but We Will Not Be Silenced

Protest groups everywhere are freaking out as the National Park Service remains slow and stingy about issuing permits. Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said, “I think what a lot of people are missing is that this is a process and procedures that are established in the code of federal regulations and they are applied equally across the board, regardless of who had won.”

No one is missing this, Mr. Litterst. Anyone who has ever protested at Inauguration Day already knows of these procedures, and many of the groups planning protests in January are old hands at this, though there is a plethora of young blood expected to show up as well. But you don’t usually take this long or attempt to “ban” protest in so many key areas. You’re being overly cautious because of who won this year, and everyone knows it.

Protesters are undeterred. Here are just three of many groups planning events on or near Inauguration Day, in case you want to reach out and join in. I’ve only worked with the first one, so cannot vouch for the activities of the others. There are doubtlessly countless other demonstrations being planned nationwide that won’t necessarily culminate on the White House steps. Reach out to your local community via social media and stay tuned to local news reports for an opportunity near you.

Happy Holidays to all readers, and Good Riddance to 2016! You sucked.

ANSWER Coalition

Planning demos in Washington D.C., San Francisco, San Diego and other cities on Inauguration Day. They seem to be getting the most press coverage, so it should be easy to find out more, and they have satellite offices in many cities around the country.

Disrupt J20

Planning a demo in Washington D.C. on Inauguration Day. Perceived by the media as a “more radical” organization hoping to “shut the event down.” More info.

Vogue Magazine

Planning a Women’s March on Jan 21, the day after Inauguration Day. More info.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

All content © Saryta Rodríguez, 2016.

On December 19th, Electoral College Has a Chance to Justify Its Existence

It has long baffled and frustrated people that, here in America, a presidential candidate may lose the popular vote– the number that illustrates who each individual (willing) US citizen wants to be President– yet still be elected based on the Electoral College. Yet the Electoral College has remained in place (at least in part/in theory) because it has an additional function seldom spoken of prior to this year: The ability to prevent someone who is clearly unqualified and/or dangerous to national security from becoming President of the United States.

On December 19th, the Electoral College will convene to determine whether or not it will allow president-elect Donald Trump– a reckless, hate-fueled, politically inept demagogue– to assume the highest office in what we like to call the “free” world. (For how much longer any American can say this with a straight face is anyone’s guess.) Today, I have devoted some time to personally contacting electors in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana and elsewhere; I share the contact information I have found at the end of this post. (Many electors have already deactivated their email accounts and/or removed contact information from their professional websites, Facebook pages, and so on.)

First, here’s the latest scuttlebutt regarding what may or may not happen on December 19th:

Christopher Spurn of Texas is the only elector to have confirmed publicly that he will not vote for Trump.

In an interview with DemocracyNOW!, Spurn said of the response to his decision:

“There’s certainly feedback saying I’m an awful person, I’m a traitor. I saw a tweet a little while ago that said I should live out the rest of my life at Gitmo, which is a scary thought, that when a person takes a conscious decision to vote their conscience, that our answer is to charge them with treason, even verbally.

But the other feedback I’ve received from across Texas, from across my county, from across the country, and even outside the country, has been positive. I’ve had Americans of all shape and form come to me and say, ‘You’ve restored my faith in America, that maybe we can still be that great country we should be.'”

On the subject of a recent Change.Org petition calling for his removal from the College, he said:

“If there’s a link, I get those tweets all the time. People say, “Where can I sign up?” I can’t respond to them all, but I try and refer them to Change.org. This is a great country. I am so glad I live in America, where people have the First Amendment right to tell me they think I’m wrong. I’m OK with that. Fill out the petition. We’ll go through the process. If there is a process to remove me, I’m going to oppose it, obviously, but that’s how democracy works. That’s how our First Amendment works.

Spurn also wrote an op-ed about why he is not voting for Trump, which was published by the New York Times on Monday, 12/12, precisely one week before the fateful vote. Here’s an excerpt:

Fifteen years ago, as a firefighter, I was part of the response to the Sept. 11 attacks against our nation. That attack and this year’s election may seem unrelated, but for me the relationship becomes clearer every day.

George W. Bush is an imperfect man, but he led us through the tragic days following the attacks. His leadership showed that America was a great nation. That was also the last time I remember the nation united. I watch Mr. Trump fail to unite America and drive a wedge between us.

Mr. Trump goes out of his way to attack the cast of “Saturday Night Live” for bias. He tweets day and night, but waited two days to offer sympathy to the Ohio State community after an attack there. He does not encourage civil discourse, but chooses to stoke fear and create outrage.

This is unacceptable. For me, America is that shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan envisioned. It has problems. It has challenges. These can be met and overcome just as our nation overcame Sept. 11.

Republican Electors Whisper about Kasich, but He’s Over It

Politico recently reported on RNC activities aimed at ensuring a Trump victory on 12/19:

The Republican National Committee is overseeing an expansive whip operation designed to lock down Donald Trump’s Electoral College majority and ensure that the 306 Republican electors cast their votes for the president-elect.

Two RNC sources familiar with the effort said the committee — with the assistance of state Republican parties and the Trump campaign — have been in touch with most of the GOP electors multiple times, and has concluded that only one is a risk to cast a vote against Trump on Dec. 19, when the Electoral College meets.

While numerous Republicans, including Christopher Spurn, and even some Democrats have whispered amongst themselves that Kasich would be a suitable Republican choice, so as to avoid voting for Hillary while still rejecting Trump and all he brings with him, Kasich beseeches the College not to consider him, stating the following via Twitter:

“I am not a candidate for president and ask that electors not vote for me when they gather later this month. Our country had an election and Donald Trump won. The country is divided and there are certainly raw emotions on both sides stemming from the election. But this approach, as well meaning as it is, will only serve to further divide our nation, when unity is what we need.”

Electors in Colorado Sue over Law Forbidding “Faithless Electors”

“Faithless elector” is the common term employed for any Electoral College member who votes contrary to the way in which the majority in their state voted. States vary widely with respect to how they deal with faithless electors. Some issue fines varying from a few hundred dollars to $5,000; others “fire” you from the College and replace you; still others do nothing at all.

Two electors in Colorado– Polly Baca and Robert Nemanich– have filed suit in federal court over a state law that “forbids” electors from voting against the popular vote results in their state. Surprisingly, while most of the attention surrounding December 19th has centered on the possibility of kicking Trump out before he steps in, this lawsuit aims to challenge Colorado electors’ obligation to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Still, the lawsuit is important because its results will set a precedent for 28 other states with similar laws, allowing electors in those states who would otherwise have to vote for Trump to vote for Clinton instead if Baca and Nemanich win.

Colorado’s election chief has warned that presidential electors who vote for someone other than Hillary Clinton — the state’s popular vote winner — could face a perjury charge. Judge Elizabeth Starrs initially claimed likewise, but later suggested that the faithless electors instead might just be removed from their seats and face no criminal charges.

(Meanwhile, in Alaska, a Clinton supporter named Janice Park has sued to block Alaska’s three electors from voting for Trump. Here‘s how those electors are responding.)

You may have noticed in frantically Googling and Wiki-ing and DotGov-ing these past few weeks that there are no long-term jail sentences for “faithless electors.” Nor are there any states in which such electors can be sentenced to death.

What I hope electors everywhere realize on December 19th is that anything they stand to lose– money in fines (which many Americans would gladly help cover), their electoral seat, and even a previously spotless criminal record– is worth what we stand to gain as a nation.

More Possible (Unconfirmed) Faithless Electors

Here is a list of all Electoral College members, with electors who might vote against Trump in spite of what their states have done (as of December 1st) highlighted in yellow. Fifteen electors are not only suspected of wanting to switch teams, but also of encouraging others to join them.

(Remember, 37 is the magic number, so if we are to have a prayer in Hell of pulling this off, there need to be 22 others out there who have either changed their minds too quietly to be noticed, or who are, as yet uncertain, but who will ultimately make the right decision on December 19th.)

Contact Electors Directly

Letters

While electors have been scurrying all over the Internet trying desperately to obscure their contact information, there is one surefire way you can reach them, provided you’re willing to stop at the post office early tomorrow morning and pay for expedited shipping: good ol’ fashioned snail mail.

DirectElection.Org enables you to print and send a letter to any and all Electoral College members; but, whether you plan to use email or land mail to contact electors, I strongly recommend you write your own message. Use your own words, your own voice.

Not only does this empower you as an individual more than parroting what someone else said does, but it also lends legitimacy– particularly via email. Some electors have already claimed that they believe recent emails to be spamlike coordinated attacks rather than the heartfelt concerns of real, individual citizens.

Direct Election also has address labels for 284 electors ready to be downloaded and printed, in both Word and PDF formats.

Emails

Here is where you can send a single email to all electors at once.

This article provides the most comprehensive list of elector email addresses I’ve encountered so far (but I cannot vouch for whether or not each and every address given is still active).

Below is a list of email addresses I have found and used for various electors. Addresses from which my email bounced back or from which I received any sort of error message are identified in red. I will be updating this list between tonight and tomorrow.

Alabama

Perry Hooper: perryo@palomarins.com

Mary Sue McClurkin: marysuemcclurkin@gmail.com

Alaska

Sean Parnell (has been identified as someone who may reject Trump!): info@seanparnellak.com

Jacqueline Tupou (has been identified as someone who may reject Trump!): jacqueline_tupou@legis.state.ak.us

Arizona

Bruce Ash (has been identified as someone who may reject Trump!): BAsh1@PaulAshMgt.com

Alberto Gutier: agutier@azgohs.gov

Jane Pierpoint Lynch (has been identified as someone who may reject Trump!): jane518@cox.net

Arkansas

Jonathan Barnett (has been identified as someone who may reject Trump!): jonathan.barnett@arkansashouse.org

Indiana

Ethan Manning (has been identified as someone who may reject Trump!): ethan_manning@yahoo.com

Stephanie Beckley: sbeckley@indiana.gop (Automated reply.)

Jeff Cardwell: info@indiana.gop

Michigan

Kelly Mitchell: via this link (Michigan GOP Outreach.Com)

Judy Rapanos: judyrapanos@aol.com

Jim Rhoades: BIKER50JIM@yahoo.com

Pennsylvania

Bob Asher: rbasoud@aol.com

Mary Barket: via this link (RepublicanWomen.Net)

Robert Bozzuto: bbozzuto@northallegheney.org

Ted Christian: tchristian@dmgs.com

Joyce Haas: jmh348@drexel.edu

Texas

Alex Kim: info@alexkim.com

Margie Forster: hcrp.coordinator@harriscountygop.com

West Virginia

Ann Urling: ann@annurling.com

Bill Cole: bill.cole@wvsenate.gov

Ron Foster: info@fostersupply.com

Patrick Morrisey: info@patrickmorrisey.com

Mac Warner: macwarner@warnerforsos.com

Take a Break

Cartoons; Music; Movie Recommendation; TV; Animal Corner

Cartoons

Music: Jessica Lange Does Lana Del Rey
(Not a huge fan of American Horror Story. Biggest fan ever of Jessica Lange.)

Movie Recommendation: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

This is the funniest movie I have seen in a VERY long time, and hands-down the best movie I have seen in a theater in all of 2016. Heads up, though; it’s probably not in theaters anymore. Search for it online, or buy the DVD!

A couple consisting of a warmhearted, down-to-Earth woman and a grizzly, standoffish man fosters a juvenile delinquent named Ricky, who was abandoned by his mother. When Ricky’s foster mother, Bella, dies suddenly, foster father Hec warns Ricky that the authorities will soon be coming to take him away to a different family.

Ricky doesn’t want to leave, so he (incompetently) fakes his own death and runs away. Hec finds him, but hurts his own leg in the process, forcing the two to camp temporarily. Hec decides that, with his wife gone, there’s no reason for him to stay put any longer; he wants to go off-the-grid and live in the woods, on his own.

There’s just one hitch in Hec’s master plan: Ricky insists on coming with him.

TV: Opening Scene from SNL, December 3, 2016 (MUST watch the entire clip; they saved the best for last.)

Animal Corner: Giraffes!

giraffe
Photo Credit: Paul Banton

Giraffes are the world’s largest mammals, and they have recently been moved from “least concern” to “vulnerable” status due to hunting and habitat loss. Nearly all subspecie of giraffe have experienced a decline in population over the last three decades, totaling a 40% drop since the 1980s. The sole exception is the West African giraffe, which, while having skyrocketed in population from only 50 in the 1990s to roughly 400 today, remains the least populous of all giraffe subspecie.

Why are giraffes so badass? Because they can grow up to twenty feet tall, their necks can grow up to six feet long, and their tongues can extend over a foot outside of their heads (source linked above). Because there are no other mammals even close to them in appearance anywhere in the world. Because in spite of their enormity, they are peaceful herbivores who cooperate beautifully with one another (and, at the same time, are notably independent– especially the males). Because they are largely non-vocal communicators who mystify scientists— and when they do vocalize, they are able to do so at a volume too quiet for humans to hear! (Such quiet noise is called infrasound.)

What can you do to help these majestic creatures stave off extinction?

  • Adopt” giraffes by making a donation and choose from a number of cool thank-you gifts via WorldWildlife.Org.
  • Petition (by calling, sending letters, emailing, signing existing petitions, etc.) African government officials to voice your support for bans against hunting giraffes and other policies that will protect them. Here‘s an example of what that might look like.
  • Support (by donating and/or spreading the word) giraffe conservation efforts based in Africa. Here is a sampling of some of the organizations in Africa currently working towards protecting giraffes from extinction.

What Trump’s Presidency Could Mean for Palestinians

On Saturday, November 19, 2016, I had the honor of attending the ANSWER Coalition’s anti-Trump demonstration in San Francisco. On that cold, rainy Saturday afternoon, Bay Area believers in equality and justice gathered at UN Plaza to hear amazing speeches before marching through the streets. The speakers were:

Oscar SalinasJustice for Alex Nieto Coalition
Miles MohammadNation of Islam and Justice for Mario Woods Coalition
Eyad KishawiFree Palestine Alliance, and
Phelicia JonesWealth and Disparities in the Black Community

The issue of the current Israeli government’s illegal occupation and settlement of Palestinian lands, and the myriad human rights abuses inherent therein, has been very close to my heart for a long time. I considered it a key issue in this past election, and it is one of the many reasons that Jill Stein’s “peace offensive” stood out as my favorite campaign platform piece of any candidate this year. While she pitched it as a way to combat ISIS and prevent Saudi Arabia from continuing to fund terrorists, I think it could– and should– also be applied to US allies who use American money and American weapons to violate international laws and oppress large swaths of humanity.

Mainstream media habitually claims that the US is “critical” of Israel’s illegal settlements. Every time a new one pops up, there are murmurs of disapproval; still, earlier this year, a proposed aid package offered $40 billion dollars to Israel over the next ten years, with which it can upgrade its military aircraft and missile defense systems.

Say your teenage daughter broke her curfew and you decided to chastise her the following morning. Your words would mean precious little if you handed her a fistful of Benjamins while doing so. Traditionally, parents who offer their child an allowance use “no allowance for x amount of time” as part of the, if not the entire, punishment for various offenses committed by said child. You don’t need a Ph.D. in International Relations to understand this most basic of concepts.

One could argue that the proposal was made in June and the most recent settlement was not occupied until October; but that excuse presupposes that this new settlement is somehow “worse” than the many that have preceded it. We have had ample reason to cut funding to Israel and demand its government cease all illegal occupations in order to ever receive that funding again for many years now.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that, on the night of November 8th, as I watched a map of our country turn blood red and with it, an orange demagogue rise, I felt any last remaining hope that the US might take a firm stance against the illegal occupation of Palestinian land within the next four years extinguish.

At the ANSWER demonstration, Eyad Kishawi confirmed my fears. He reminded us that Trump has already promised to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would imply that the U.S. officially recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and thus weaken efforts by Palestinians to claim part of Jerusalem as their own capital. Mainstream left-wing outlets remain doubtful that he will keep this promise, as it has been made by many past US presidential candidates (such as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) and has yet to be realized. Still, Kishawi warned that even considering the move– and doing so this early, before Trump is even officially in office– indicates, at best, apathy and, at worst, antagonism on the part of the soon-to-be US administration to work towards a two-state solution in the Middle East.

A senior Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs official told Al-Monitor on the condition of anonymity that while such a move is favorable to Netanyahu, it is not a top priority for him. Rather, his priority is “Israel’s wish to continue its settlement construction in the West Bank, mainly within the settlement blocs, and including in the Jerusalem area.”

Al-Monitor reports:

Construction in the Jerusalem area is highly important to Netanyahu, as it could block any eventuality of a future shared capital. Thus, with or without the issue of relocating the US Embassy, the Jerusalem topic will be on the president’s agenda sooner rather than later.

It appears that Netanyahu is hoping to capitalize on Trump’s election by quickly, quietly unraveling the already-loose threads holding together the potential for peaceful coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East, securing Jerusalem as a strictly Israeli capital city while using US funds to enhance an already-powerful military and push onward with more and more settlements.

Trump’s public musings about the subject, meanwhile, independent of whether or not they come to fruition, set a dangerous precedent. The international community has avoided directly acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or Palestine or both, remaining largely silent on the issue and traditionally placing embassies in the cultural and commercial center of Tel Aviv. Trump has broken this silence, and only time will tell whether other world leaders will follow suit.

The Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed by Congress in 1995, has already declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and called for the embassy to be moved there by 1999, but a loophole allowed presidents Clinton, George W. and Barack Obama to sign waivers delaying the move for six months at a time. All were advised that moving the embassy would effectively give the long finger to Palestinians and tell the world that the US officially sides with Israel in the ongoing conflict and supports its settlement campaign (never mind that we’ve already been saying so with our money and weapons for ages).

Will Trump heed this advice, if offered? Or has he already encased himself in such a bigoted and myopic echo chamber that no such advice has been forthcoming?

An important pillar in that echo chamber is the loathsome douchebag Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and campaign manager. Apparently Trump is thinking about appointing Kushner to broker peace between Israel and Palestine, perhaps in lieu of giving him a cabinet position, as anti-nepotism laws prohibit him from doing. As right-wing Israeli leaders celebrated Trump’s win last month, Education Minister Naftali Bennett chillingly declared, “the era of a Palestinian state is over.”

Given that Jared Kushner had zero political experience prior to becoming Trump’s campaign manager and has only been admitted to colleges after his father donated far out the ass to them, one wonders whether he is capable of brokering his way out of a paper bag, much less negotiating a peace deal between two countries that have been at war with one another since long before he was born. Many of Trump’s appointments thus far have been unnerving for various reasons: Bannon is a hate monger; Sessions has crossed swords with both the NAACP and the EPAMnuchin is in Wall Street’s pocket, and so on. This one, while less formal than the others and more limited in scope, is nevertheless a contender for the most irresponsible of Trump’s appointments.

To throw some real estate noob into the fray when experienced political powerhouse after experienced political powerhouse has failed to get the job done shows just how little respect Trump has for the position he slandered and Tweeted so hard to get. This is not The Mighty Ducks or Troop Beverly Hills. It’s going to take more than an 80s soundtrack and a two-minute montage to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All content © Saryta Rodriguez, 2016.

More Appointments

Since my last update on the subject, Trump has made several more important appointments, or at least hinted as to whom he would choose for a slew of positions. Here’s a breakdown of Who’s Who in Trump’s Administration:

Secretary of the Treasury: Steven Mnuchin (m-NEW-chin) (Expected/unconfirmed.)

Steven Mnuchin is “a financier with deep roots on Wall Street and in Hollywood but no government experience” (sound familiar?). He is a Goldman Sachs alum, which may come as a surprise to anyone who believed anything Trump said while he was running, such as that he was determined to take on Wall Street and take back America from the hands of financial and political elites. (This is, however, far from the only appointment or potential appointment to Trump’s inner circle that contradicts the tone of his populist, champion-of-the-working-class campaign.)

Mnuchin served as Trump’s campaign finance chairman.   From the Wall Street Journal:

Despite his successful Wall Street career, Mr. Mnuchin has no experience running a massive organization—the Treasury Department has 86,000 employees—or in economic or financial policy making. The biggest entity Mr. Mnuchin has run was the technology division of Goldman, which had over 5,000 employees.

Mnuchin also worked alongside George Soros and others to buy a bank from the government in 2008. Trump and his people, meanwhile, have been spreading rumors that Soros is paying for protestors to be bused in and out of cities just to make Trump look bad. Nevermind that this would be a huge waste of money on Soros’s part, as the People can and will rise against Trump with or without any financial aid; if Trump himself believed this to be true, wouldn’t he be hesitant to give an old business partner of Soros’s oversight of the US Treasury?

Secretary of Health and Human Services: Georgia Representative Tom Price (Confirmed.)

Tom Price has drafted a full replacement for the Affordable Care Act called the Empowering Patients First Act. This would get rid of the mandatory health insurance rule, whereby if you’re not insured, you have to pay far out the ass in taxes; but it would also make it harder for patients to win malpractice suits, and make it easier for doctors to enter into private contracts with Medicare, meaning they can eschew Medicare’s structure at will and impose higher prices for their services than would be allowed under current Medicare rules. From the New York Times:

One particularly contentious provision would limit the amount of tax-free coverage that workers could receive from their employers. The limits would be set at $8,000 for coverage of an individual employee and $20,000 for family coverage, with adjustments for inflation in later years.

The Fiscal Times explores in depth each of the following Big Changes Under Tom Price’s Obamacare Replacement Plan:

  • Obamacare would be scrapped, including the government-run insurance markets in every state, the mandates on individuals and businesses and federal tax credits to subsidize the insurance of lower income Americans.
  • People with pre-existing medical conditions or chronic illnesses couldn’t be denied coverage under Price’s approach — provided they had continuous insurance for 18 months before choosing a new policy. That’s a big caveat.
  • Price would seek expanded use of health savings accounts to allow people to save income before taxes to pay for future health care needs (a clear sign of transferring the burden of America’s health care costs from the government back to the consumer).
  • Price would likely roil businesses by imposing a cap on the amount of money that companies could deduct from their taxes to defray the cost of providing health insurance to their workers.
  • Price would repeal the expanded Medicaid coverage in 32 states and the District of Columbia for able-bodied single people and leave those current beneficiaries to fend for themselves on the open market.
  • Price’s plan would allow consumers to shop around for health insurance across state lines, just as they might for any other insurance product.
  • Finally, the Price proposals would foster an insurance market very welcoming to young, healthy and financially self-sufficient people but hostile to sicker and older people. For one thing, it would eliminate Obamacare-style mandates for insurers to include a standard package of benefits such as maternity services and pediatric care and allow them to offer cheaper, less comprehensive policies to younger people who are looking for a bargain.

Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos (Confirmed.)

Betsy DeVos is “a school choice activist and Republican fund-raiser” who helped pass Michigan’s first charter-school bill. The Wall Street Journal and others are reporting that the selection has unions terrified. After the announcement was made that DeVos would be Secretary of Education, American labor leader, attorney and educator Randi Weingarten tweeted: “Trump has chosen the most ideological, anti-public ed nominee since the creation of the Dept of Education.”

During an interview in 2013, DeVos said “What we are trying to do is tear down the mindset that assigns students to a school based solely on the zip code of their family’s home. We think of the educational choice movement as involving many parts: vouchers and tax credits, certainly, but also virtual schools, magnet schools, homeschooling, and charter schools.”

Honestly, this is the least offensive appointment Trump has made so far, to the best of my knowledge. I’m all for unions, and I will reserve my praise for DeVos for when she’s actually in office and actually makes a positive difference. But if we are to take her at her word, I for one agree that children should not be forced to go to particular schools just because they happen to live near them. At the same time, I am painfully aware that school choice might result in wealthier students being able to attend other schools while lower-income students are forced to continue attending their less-funded public school.

This is already largely the case; San Francisco is a perfect example. Many San Francisco public schools are majority-minority, meaning most students at any given SF public school are children of color. In San Francisco in 2013, 41.6% of the overall population was white, according to the Census estimate. Of the city’s population age 19 and under, 28.7% were white. In the 2013-2014 school year, only 12.9% of San Francisco public school students were white, while Asians and Latinos accounted for the majority of the student population. San Francisco Public Press offered this possible explanation:

The average white San Franciscan makes three times more money than the average black resident. Whites on average also make 66 percent more money than Latinos, and 44 percent more than Asians. Possibly as a result of this wealth, white children are much more likely to be enrolled in private schools than other racial groups.

At the elementary level, the overall San Francisco public school student body is about 16.4% white, far above the district average; by middle school, however, that number drops to 10.9%. By high school, only 8.9% of students are white.

So while school choice sounds more just and liberating than the current system, we have to ask ourselves Who does it liberate?

For whom will school become a choice, and for whom might it remain assigned?

How will we either empower those who cannot make a choice to do so (i.e., offer a variety of schools that are free, just like existing public schools are) or ensure that there’s no penalty for not choosing because the assigned schools are just as resourced, and the teachers therein just as qualified, as parent-chosen schools?

Secretary of Transportation: Elaine Chao (Confirmed.)

Elaine Chao is “a veteran of past Republican administrations who is married to Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader.” She is also a former labor secretary. From CNN:

At the Transportation Department, Chao would have a key role in helping Trump get an infrastructure spending bill passed through Congress and start government-backed works projects — a role likely to be complicated by her relationship with McConnell, who will also be a critical player in any infrastructure bill negotiations.

Chao is yet another well-connected establishment figure to be appointed to a top position by Trump. From the LA Times:

Chao’s establishment ties conflict with Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington and promote outsiders to lead his government. But Chao’s connections could be an asset in Trump’s plan to promote a major infrastructure proposal that could face resistance from within his party.

 

Greens and Others Demand a Recount in Key Swing States

Machine-counted vote totals in the essential swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have now come under fire. On Tuesday, November 22, New York Magazine reported that a group of computers scientists and election lawyers urged the Clinton campaign to challenge the election results in those states.

From New York Magazine:

“The group, which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked.

….The academics presented findings showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots. Based on this statistical analysis, Clinton may have been denied as many as 30,000 votes; she lost Wisconsin by 27,000.”

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, immediately set about collecting funds with which to demand a recount. The following is an excerpt from a statement they published on Stein’s website:

The Stein/Baraka Green Party Campaign is launching an effort to ensure the integrity of our elections. We are raising money to demand recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania– three states where there is a significant need to verify machine-counted vote totals. Please donate to this initiative today.

To give you a sense of the problem, the voting machines used in Wisconsin were banned in California after they were shown to be highly vulnerable to hacking and malicious programming due to lacking security features.

“After a divisive and painful presidential race, reported hacks into voter and party databases and individual email accounts are causing many American to wonder if our election results are reliable. These concerns need to be investigated before the 2016 presidential election is certified. We deserve elections we can trust.” – Dr. Jill Stein.

This is about more than the results of this one election. This is about protecting our democracy and ensuring that “We the People” can have confidence in reported results.

The Stein campaign initially set out to raise 2 million dollars by yesterday (Friday, 11/25). Having quickly met that goal, a new goal was then set for 4.5 million. Having now met that goal, the Stein campaign has upped the ante yet again, this time to 7 million.

Stein filed for a recount in Wisconsin on Friday, about an hour before the deadline. While Trump has been declared the winner in both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania (electoral-collegewise), Michigan remains too close to call— more than two weeks after Election Day.

The New York Times and others are reporting that there are thusfar-unproven suspicions of Russian hacking involvement directly on vote counts. There is evidence of other types of involvement in the election outcome already, such as the dissemination of false news via social media. A study by Andrew Weisburd, Clinton Watts and J. M. Bergersaid at warontherocks.com showed “that an effort to track 7,000 social media accounts over two and a half years indicated that support for Mr. Trump ‘isn’t the end of Russia’s social media and hacking campaign in America, but merely the beginning.’” The Obama administration, meanwhile, maintains that the election results “accurately reflect the will of the American people.”

Take a Break

Resistance is Fertile; Cartoons; an original Logic Problem; an original Ken and Ken

Resistance is Fertile

I had the pleasure of attending an anti-Trump demonstration this Saturday, sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition. I will publish my thoughts on aspects of the event shortly (seeking more info about the speakers first). I am particularly eager to explore the implications a Trump presidency might have for Palestinians, a topic that one of the speakers spoke of in terrifying detail.

In the meantime, I highly recommend you view photos from the event by Pax Ahimsa Gethen, and read their write-up about it! I am honored to call Pax a friend, and they are a truly committed and talented activist and photographer.

Earlier this week, Pax, their husband Ziggy, and I journeyed to PreetiRang Sanctuary for some self-care and time with beloved humans and nonhumans alike. As usual, I left feeling grateful to be a part of such a loving community and bitter that I can’t afford to buy a chunk of land next to PreetiRang.

Cartoons

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Logic Problem: Adoption Day

Five friends– AI, CORA, ROSEMARY, SADIE and SCARLET– spent this past Saturday at a nonhuman animal shelter, adopting dogs. The five dogs available for adoption this weekend were a BASSET HOUND, a CHOCOLATE LAB, a GREAT DANE, a HUSKY, and an IRISH WOLFHOUND. Using the following clues and the diagram below, determine which dog is in which pen (Positions A-E), as well as which friend (Positions F-J) adopted which dog. Each friend is standing in front of the dog they intend to adopt.

adoptionday

  1. Cora has long hair.
  2. Rosemary does not want a Basset Hound.
  3. The Great Dane is to the immediate left of Ai.
  4. It’s a good thing Scarlet and Sadie do not have to stand next to each other, because they are currently beefing. The one in Position H is not involved in the drama.
  5. The Basset Hound is to the right of at least two dogs.
  6. The Irish Wolfhound is to Cora’s immediate right.
  7. Cora has a crush on Rosemary, and is jealous that there is one person in between them.
  8. The one who wants a Husky is involved in the drama.
  9. The one who wants a Great Dane has short hair.
  10. The Chocolate Lab is not in Position A.
  11. There is at least one dog between the Basset Hound and the Irish Wolfhound.
  12. Rosemary is standing somewhere to the left of Sadie.

Solution.

Ken and Ken

Instructions: Enter digits 1-6 in each row and column in the diagram such that the digits blocked off in red, when using the operation given, yield the result given. Two digits have been provided for you. Each digit can appear in each row, column and “red block” only once.

Example: Three digits in a red block with “x18” given. Three digits between 1 and 6, when multiplied, must yield 18. 3x3x2 is incorrect, because 3 is used twice. The only possible answer is 6x3x1. The 6 cannot be placed in any row or column that already has a 6; the 3 cannot be placed in any row or column that already has a 3, and so on.

Good Luck!

kenkenredline1

Solution.

Trump’s Army

Last week, Trump set about composing the team of vile, ultra-right, bigoted men who will lead his impending war efforts. Here’s what you need to know about them.

Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III of Alabama for Attorney General

Trump said he would nominate Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama as Attorney General. Mr. Sessions was the first senator to endorse Mr. Trump in February, and has since become a close adviser. Sessions will therefore play a key role in Trump’s War on the People.

Some of the many reasons this potential appointment is absolutely horrifying:

  • Sessions has referred to the American Civil Liberties Union and the N.A.A.C.P. as “un-American” for “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.” (He has denied the “un-American” bit.) (Linked source herein applies to following three bullet points, as well.)
  • He also may or may not have said that the N.A.A.C.P. hates white people and is “a commie group and a pinko organization.” When pressed during a hearing for a judiciary position in 1986, Sessions offerred, “I am loose with my tongue on occasion….”
  • During that same hearing, Sessions said that while the groups themselves were not “un-American,” some of their positions were. He specified that he was referring to liberal immigration policies and support for the socialist Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
  • African-American then-prosecutor Thomas H. Figures testified that Mr. Sessions referred to him as “boy.” Once, after an argument with a secretary, “Mr. Sessions admonished me to ‘be careful what you say to white folks,’” Mr. Figures testified. Mr. Sessions denied saying that and was adamant that he had never called Mr. Figures “boy.”
  • In 2013, he voted NO on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. (Source herein applies to all bullet points that follow.)
  • In 2006, he voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.
  • He voted NO not once, but TWICE on adding sexual orientation to the list of identities that are protected against hate crimes.
  • In 2011, he voted YES on barring the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.
  • In 2005, he voted NO on banning drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • In 2000, he voted NO on including prescription drugs under Medicare.
  • In 2005, he voted YES on extending the PATRIOT Act’s wiretap provision.

Not scared yet? Check out his On The Issues page.

Retired Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn for National Security Advisor

Trump has also moved to install Michael T. Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who has said that Islamist militancy poses a global existential threat, as his National Security Advisor. This may well be the most terrifying appointment Trump has made in the just-shy-of-two-weeks since he was elected POTUS. Here’s why:

  • Flynn has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States (it is not). From the New York Times: “His dubious assertions are so common that when he ran the Defense Intelligence Agency, subordinates came up with a name for the phenomenon: They called them ‘Flynn facts.'”
  • He was “pushed out“– asked to step down while allowed to claim he was “retiring”– of his post as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency by the Obama administration. Flynn speculated that it was due to his challenging the administration’s narrative that Al Qaeda would soon be defeated. Flynn recounted that the Obama administration’s efforts to arm moderate Syrian rebels benefited extremists such as Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, stating: “If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic.” The Obama administration characterized Flynn’s views and management style as “disruptive and chaotic.”
  • Flynn likely shares Trump’s desire to pal around with Putin. He took a paid speaking engagement last year with Russia Today, a television network funded by the Kremlin, and attended the network’s lavish anniversary party in Moscow, where he sat at Mr. Putin’s elbow.
  • There is no substitute for American leadership and exceptionalism. America should not fear our enemies,” Flynn said in his RNC speech. “In fact, we should clearly define our enemies, face them head on and then defeat those that seek to defeat our country and our way of life.” He went on to criticize the Obama administration for reducing the United States’ influence in the world, worrying about being politically correct and acting too hesitantly when it came to using military force.

    (Disconcertingly, it appears that Flynn may not share all of Trump’s staunch isolationist views. One of the least offensive aspects of Trump’s platform has been the notion that the U.S. is overly involved in overseas affairs, and that we should focus on fixing problems here at home and stop involving ourselves in everyone else’s business. U.S. citizens on both sides of the aisle, and even on the fringes, agree– not to mention the scores of people around the world whose lives have been made worse rather than better by U.S. intervention in their affairs.

    Whatever modicum of safety the world may have gleaned from Trump’s stance flies out of the window upon Flynn’s appointment.)

Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas for C.I.A. Director

Trump wants Pompeo to head the C.I.A. Here are some of his more notable policy positions, connections and statements:

  • After a visit to the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in 2013, he told a congressional committee that a hunger strike by detainees was a “political stunt.” He has also denounced President Obama’s decisions in 2009 to a) close C.I.A. black-site prisons, and b) require government interrogators to strictly adhere to the rules of the Army Field Manual. All together, the picture painted here is one of a man who would not fight back against Trump’s stated desire to reinstitute waterboarding. Yikes.
  • Yes, he led the investigation against Hillary Clinton and regarding the 2012 incident in Benghazi, Libya (multiple sources confirm this). I personally support efforts to get to the bottom of Benghazi; transparency is important, and no one should get a pass on it, no matter which political party they belong to or how many years of public service they have under their belt. However, to think that someone who supports black-site prisons and breaking standard interrogation laws was in charge of investigating whether someone else was guilty of some sort of human rights violation or disregard for human life is…What’s the opposite of funny? Oh, yeah; disgusting.
  • In 2013, he voted NO on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. (Source herein applies to all following bullet points.)
  • In 2014, he claimed that the state definition of marriage supersedes federal gay marriage, leaving the door open for individual states to outlaw same-sex marriages even as they become legal on the federal level.
  • In 2011, he voted YES on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.
  • That same year, he also voted YES on extending the PATRIOT Act’s roving wiretaps.
  • As of November 2010, he has opposed a pathway to citizenship and supported the privatization of Social Security.
  • In 2011, he voted YES on terminating funding for National Public Radio.

So our Attorney General with be a man with a sh*tty civil rights record, our head of National Security will be a notorious Islamophobe, and the head of the CIA will be a Koch brothers crony selected by none other than the millionaire real estate agent and TV star who ran on the populist platform of being an “outsider” determined to “shake up the establishment.”

Good luck, America. We’re going to need it.

LOCAL ACTION ALERT: Demonstration Planned for This Saturday, 11/19, at Noon at San Francisco’s UN Plaza

The ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition has scheduled a demonstration for this Saturday, November 19th, 2016 at noon at San Francisco’s UN Plaza.

These are the same amazing folks who have raised the call for all of those concerned about Trump’s presidency and who stand firmly against the vitriol he spews regularly against people of color, immigrants and women to demonstrate in Washington D.C. on Inauguration Day.

Nearly 5,000 people have expressed interest on Facebook, while approximately 1,200 have electronically committed to being there. On the event’s Facebook page, ANSWER put out the following message:

Donald Trump is the next President of the United States. His racist, sexist and bigoted program offers false solutions for a real crisis. He will continue the same policies of the establishment and elites that he claimed to be pushing back against.

The same Democratic Party elites that spent the majority of the campaign painting a Trump presidency as a catastrophic threat to the world are now demanding that we unite behind him. They aren’t going to stand in the way of the racist, sexist, bigoted forces let loose by Trump’s campaign. They aren’t going to stand in the way of the plans of a Trump presidency. Only a people’s movement can do that.

It is of the utmost urgency that all progressive people take to the streets in defense of immigrants, Muslims, women and all people of color. We take to the streets to advance an alternative vision. A vision of unity and solidarity in the struggle against the ravages of a system that has left half of the country in poverty and the 99% under the boot of an administration threatening to deny climate change, rights for immigrants, women and LGBTQ people, and all historically oppressed communities.

Join us in the streets to continue building a sustained mass movement fighting to take power to the people!

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