Showing posts with label Politician. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Politician. Show all posts

February 12, 2017

Pocket Books Open After a Trump Tweet on Business’

Before Donald Trump was president, he was a brand — from his TV show to his clothing line to his steaks. Now after surprising many by winning the White House, the Trump brand may have even more power, but it is also deeply connected to the divisive world of American politics. 
That means what Trump says and does and what others say about him has impacts that go far beyond policy and politics into the world of everyday Americans' lives — where they shop and eat and what they watch on TV. 
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that his daughter had been "treated so unfairly" by Nordstrom after the store stopped carrying her clothing line. "Terrible!" Trump added. 
The impact? Nordstrom's website saw a big jump in traffic Wednesday, according to data from Connexity, an ecommerce marketing firm. There were about 908,000 visits to the site, compared to 709,000 the previous Wednesday, a 28 precent increase. 
And that makes sense considering Nordstrom's customer base, which skews politically liberal according to Connexity. People who describe themselves as "very liberal" are 40 percent more likely to visit than the average person. People who describe themselves as "very conservative" are 23 percent less likely to go to the site. The top 14 states for web traffic to the site all voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. 
Data from Simmons Research show Nordstrom shoppers are among the most politically liberal in the country. Among the top 10 retailers for self-described liberals, Nordstrom is No. 6 and Nordstrom Rack is No. 9. 
By the end of the Wednesday, the store's stock closed up 4.1%. In other words, Trump's bad-mouthing of Nordstorm likely only helped the retailer. 
The week before brought another example when Starbucks announced they would hire 10,000 refugees in their stores. The announcement came after Trump's executive order temporarily suspended refugees from entering the United States and temporarily blocked people traveling to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries. 
The response? A group of Trump supporters have called for a boycott of the coffee chain and #BoycottStarbucks became a trending hashtag on Twitter. 
But there are questions about how effective that boycott might be. Starbucks' customer base also skews politically liberal and an analysis from Simmons Research shows people in counties that voted heavily for Clinton were much more frequent Starbucks patrons than those who lived in Trump's best counties. 

The boycott could end up having a boomerang effect if blue-leaning Starbucks drinkers turnout in greater numbers to support the company's refugee proposal. But the larger point of blurring consumer/political lines around the Trump brand is apparent even in the call for a boycott — and there is more evidence. 
On Jan. 12, Trump urged his supporters on Twitter to "buy L.L.Bean" as a way of thanking company heiress Linda Bean for a big contribution to a pro-Trump PAC. Consumers seemed to notice and react. 
After the tweet, traffic to the L.L. Bean website declined from the politically blue New England states, all of which voted for Hillary Clinton, according to data from Connexity. Meanwhile some of the biggest jumps in L.L. Bean traffic came from Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Arizona, states with populations that visit the retailer much less frequently and that voted for Trump in November. 
The consumer core for Maine-based L.L. Bean has long had more of a Democratic cast because of its home. Purchasing a Rugged Ridge Parka (good to -40 degrees) is not a political act, but it's something more logically suited to blue states such as Vermont and Massachusetts than red states such as Texas and Arizona. 
That's why the numbers from that week are so eye-catching. 
Consider the decline in L.L. Bean website visits from the seven states that produce the most traffic to the online retailer — all cold-weather, New England states and neighboring New York. 
Only Rhode Island, which voted for Clinton, saw an uptick in traffic to the site. The other states, all of which voted for Clinton, saw declines, many of them sizable. 

You can see that drop in a broader tally as well. Of the 21 entities that gave their electoral votes to Clinton (20 states and the District of Columbia), 15 saw their traffic to L.L.Bean decline. 
Now consider the increases in website visits that week from the seven states that generated the least traffic to the L.L.Bean site before Trump's tweet. 

All those states saw an increase, except Hawaii, which voted for Clinton and saw a decline The only outlier in the group is Nevada, which voted for Clinton and saw an uptick in web traffic to the site. What's more, all those states, except South Dakota, are warm weather states. 
To be clear, the numbers show L.L.Bean was still drawing heavily off of its blue New England base. Even with the declines, the six New England states provided more traffic to Maine retailer than any others. And the changes in L.L.Bean's traffic also seem to have been temporary. Many of those trends had reversed themselves the next week. 
Regardless, the numbers show the depth of the divides running through the country under Trump. Much has been made of how the Trump administration’s plans to upend Washington have left businesses unsure of how to plan for the future, but for many retailers, just dealing with the Trump brand holds a complicated set of challenges.


May 19, 2016

Trump and Clinton Reveal their Net Worth


Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump on Wednesday released his 104-page personal financial disclosure report, which details the assets and net worth of the businessman and his wife, Melania Trump.

“I filed my PFD, which I am proud to say is the largest in the history of the FEC,” Trump said in a statement on Tuesday.

The first 12 pages of the document list the more than 560 companies and entities with which Trump serves in some capacity. The last 45 pages detail his ownership stake in all those entities. 
Trump said the document shows that his annual income is more than $557 million and that his net worth is greater than $10 billion.

In his Capitol One checking and savings accounts, he lists having between $5 million and $25 million.

The real estate developer has a diverse portfolio of investments, including holding stocks and bonds in several companies that he has bashed on the campaign trail, including Ford, Pfizer, Amazon, Apple, Mondelez International, which owns Nabisco, and United Technologies, which owns Carrier.

Trump holds at least $500,000 worth of investments in Ford, at least $16,000 in Pfizer and anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 in Amazon, which he has suggested might be violating antitrust laws.  

He has a minimum of $1.1 million invested in Apple, and earned anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million in dividends and capital gains on the investment last year. Trump called for Americans to boycott the company when it would not work with the FBI to hack into the phone of the San Bernardino shooters. 

Trump also lists having between $1 million to $5 million in U.S. Treasury bonds and three “family trusts” each worth a minimum of $123,025, $235,025 and $272,027, respectively, in addition to a trust from his father, Fred C. Trump, containing between $1 million to $5 million.

Melania Trump's skincare and accessories companies, the forms say, have a value that is "not readily ascertainable." She does have a real estate asset, 721 33H LLC, that is worth at least $1 million. 

He has at least $315.35 million in liabilities, including a loan for “over $50 million” from Deutsche Bank used on the Old Post Office, which Trump's development company won the rights to lease for $200 million. Trump has five liabilities listed as “over $50 million,” which make it more difficult to pin down his net worth.

Financial disclosure forms filled out by federal candidates and officeholders display wealth in wide ranges, allowing individuals to say that an asset or liability is worth anywhere between $5 million and $25 million, for example. 

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton also released her personal financial disclosure form, which clocked in at 11 pages. She lists more than $5 million in royalties for her book "Hard Choices," and speeches by both her and husband Bill Clinton that netted a combined $6.725 million. 

Hillary Clinton gave six paid speeches last year before launching her White House run, totaling $1.475 million in income, with the largest payday coming from eBay, at $315,000. Bill, meanwhile, made 22 paid speeches in 2015, including 11 after Hillary had announced she would run for president, and earned $5.25 million. 

That's a steep decline from the level of paid speeches the duo had made in the past. In 2014, the Clintons earned about $18 million from around 100 speeches.

One of Hillary Clinton’s largest assets is a JP Morgan Chase custody account, which contains between $5 million and $25 million in cash. She also has anywhere from $5 million to $25 million invested in a Vanguard 500 Index Fund.

Clinton lists having no liabilities. 

Unlike Clinton, Trump has yet to release his tax returns, which would provide more details into his investments, charitable giving and income. 

He has said that there is “nothing to learn” from the forms, and that he cannot release them because they are so large and complex that the Internal Revenue Service audits him.

January 22, 2016

Palin gets Heat for Stupid remarks Blaming the President for Her Son’s Arrest


Sarah Palin is taking heat from many U.S. veterans for blaming her son’s recent domestic violence arrest on President Barack Obama’s veteran policies.

Palin’s son, Track,  was arrested Monday night for fourth-degree assault, interfering with a report of a domestic

Track’s girlfriend said that he kicked her, punched her in the face and then threatened to shoot himself with a loaded gun. He was arraigned on Tuesday. noted that at a public appearance the next day, the former governor of Alaska used the news of his arrest to criticize Obama, but now she is the one getting criticism.

Palin said the 26-year-old Iraq veteran came back “hardened” and said that military members look at the president and question whether he knows the sacrifices they make to “secure America and to secure freedoms.”

Paul Rieckhoff, the head of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America slammed her comments.

“It’s not President Obama’s fault that Sarah Palin’s son has PTSD,” he said.  “I hope this doesn’t become a portable chew toy in a political campaign.”

Social media users also voiced their opinions about Palin’s remarks.

One Twitter user and retired Army veteran added that her comments could lead to “perceptual problems & future treatment issues” for those diagnosed with PTSD. [The Celebrity Cafe]

Sarah Palin made a statement this week saying her son Track's arrest on domestic violence charges stemmed from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and pointed the blame at Obama's supposed lack of respect for veterans. Paul Rieckhoff, who leads Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), refuted Palin's statement saying "It's not President Obama's fault that Sarah Palin's son has PTSD".
Include the following visualizations to show the percentage of returning war veterans with PTSD in recent wars, as well as funding for research of PTSD
Total Funding
Average Grant
Number of Grants
Total NIH Funding: Inflation-Adjusted
Total NIH Funding: Inflation-Adjusted
2015 data is estimated | Adjusted for inflation to 2015 dollars | Funding includes grants, contracts, and other funding mechanisms used by the NIH

January 16, 2016

Cruz Doesn’t love NY Values but Loves the Money and Begs for it $$


On Tuesday on the syndicated Howie Carr Show, Ted Cruz declared that Donald Trump “comes from New York and he embodies New York values.” That night on Fox, New York-born Megyn Kelly asked Cruz to explain exactly what “New York values” are. Cruz responded: “The rest of the country knows exactly what New York values are, and I gotta say, they’re not Iowa values and they’re not New Hampshire values.”

Yesterday Kellyanne Conway, president of Keep the Promise I, one of four significant pro-Cruz Super PACs, endorsed Cruz’s anti-New York perspective: “New York is home to many wonderful people and places, but the emphasis is more on money than morality. The line to get into Abercrombie & Fitch is a mile longer than the line to get into St. Patrick’s Cathedral.”


But here’s what Cruz and Conway haven’t mentioned:

Keep the Promise I is registered in New York and has raised $11,000,000 from a single New Yorker, financier Robert Mercer. Mercer is co-CEO of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, located on New York’s Long Island. The Super PAC’s only other donor is from Florida and contributed $5,000, so Mercer has provided 99.95 percent of its money.

US hedge fund manager Robert Mercer's new superyacht Sea Owl on the River Thames, London (Photo: Alex J. Berliner /ABImages) U.S. hedge fund manager Robert Mercer’s new super yacht Sea Owl on the River Thames, London. Photo: REX/London News Pictures/APHowever, to be fair to Cruz and Conway, their view on the apparent moral failings of New Yorkers does seem to apply to Mercer himself, who was sued in 2013 by his current and former household staff. According to the complaint, Mercer failed to pay overtime and docked their pay for such infractions as “failing to replace shampoos and other toiletries if there was an amount of less than one-third of a bottle remaining,” “failing to properly close doors,” and “improperly counting beverages.” The same year Mercer took delivery of the Sea Owl, a 203-foot-long super yacht, seen at right.
In addition, as of 2012 Renaissance Technologies owned over $26 million of Abercrombie & Fitch stock — although the hedge fund recently sold its entire position, perhaps out of concern that Abercrombie was damaging the nation’s moral tone.

Cruz also benefited from the affection of ultra-wealthy New Yorkers during his 2012 Senate race. The biggest intervention of the cycle by the Super PAC Club for Growth Action was in Cruz’s primary against Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, consisting of $5 million worth of attacks on Dewhurst. Club for Growth Action spent $630,000 in support of Cruz during the cycle as well. During this time Club for Growth received donations totaling $500,000 from Mercer, as well as $100,000 from his fellow New York hedge fund manager Paul Singer and $100,000 from Laura Fisch, wife of the founder of the New York private equity firm American Securities.

Cruz has received $486,795 in regular, non-Super PAC presidential campaign donations from New York, making it his fourth-most important state behind Texas, California and Florida. According to Doug Weber, senior researcher at the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, New Yorkers also gave Cruz $290,965 in his 2012 Senate race.

Lastly, Cruz received $1 million in low-interest loans to help finance his Senate campaign from Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, both headquartered in New York City. His wife Heidi is on leave from her job as a Goldman managing director.

(Disclosure: I live in New York.)’

October 15, 2015

Can a Buffoon Like Donald Trump be Right about One(1)Thing?


 Can’t hold a job//Buffoon//Brainless Doc

As a candidate for president, Donald Trump is very right-wing. But on one issue, at least, he breaks the Republican mold: He supports more spending on mass transit.

In an interview with The Guardian on Tuesday, Trump said the U.S. should invest in its decaying, underfunded transportation infrastructure. The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs reports:

On domestic policy, the lifelong New Yorker disagreed with many of his Republican opponents on the importance of spending money on rail infrastructure.

“We have to spend money on mass transit,” Trump said. “We have to fix our airports, fix our roads also in addition to mass transit, but we have to spend a lot of money.”

“China and these other countries, they have super-speed trains. We have nothing. This country has nothing. We are like the third world, but we will get it going and we will do it properly and, as I say, make America great again.”

Well said, Donald Trump! I’ve ridden those high-speed inter-city trains in China and Europe and I can attest to their speed, reliability, and value — vastly superior to U.S. rail travel. That has many causes, but certainly Congress’ chronic underfunding of Amtrak is one of them. Likewise, our urban and regional mass transit networks are pathetic compared to Europe’s. Again, that reflects the fact that Congress has failed to raise the gasoline tax, even to keep pace with inflation, since 1993.

In the same interview, Trump called for federal funding for body cameras on police officers, a measure that is supported by civil rights activists to counteract police brutality.

How did we end up with an ignorant racist buffoon offering sound suggestions on urban policy? Here are a few interesting points:

It matters where candidates come from. Some issues are more regional than purely partisan or ideological. Take climate change: Democrats from fossil fuel-rich states tend to oppose climate action, while Republicans from the Northeast are often relatively moderate on the issue. When it comes to mass transit, politicians from cities and urbanized regions will be more supportive. Republican presidential candidates in recent years have mostly hailed from sprawling states such as Texas, Kansas, and Arizona, where transit is virtually non-existent. And for Republican politicians who specialize in appealing to the GOP’s suburban and rural biases, such as Newt Gingrich, subways are a codeword for dirty urban liberalism.
Trump is unusual because he is an urban Republican candidate. But it’s worth noting that Trump is an exception even among Northeastern Republicans in his pro-transit views. Mitt Romney backed smart growth when he was governor of Massachusetts, but ditched that — along with his support for health-care reform, abortion rights, and climate action — when he ran for president. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie killed a plan for a much-needed rail tunnel connecting his state to New York City.

Trump’s inexperience is showing. Per the examples of Romney and Christie, Trump simply lacks the caution and savvy to think about how what he is saying will play in the Iowa caucuses. Or maybe he just doesn’t care. When former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani ran in the 2008 Republican primaries, mass transit was absent from his stump speech. Urban Republicans who, unlike Trump, are serious about winning their party’s nomination try to avoid seeming too urban.
Our presidential nominating process is rurally biased. Why should Trump have to worry about how everything he says will come across to Iowans? Not because there are so many of them, but because they always get to vote first. Then New Hampshire votes, then South Carolina, then Nevada. In other words, the process is led by sparsely populated states. Maybe other Republicans from the Northeast and Californian Carly Fiorina would sound more like Trump on transit if the nation’s largest, most urban states voted as early as Iowa.

Trump’s nominal support for transport funding is bogus. So for that matter is President Obama’s. Spending money requires money. Federal government money has to come from taxes. Trump has not offered a funding source for transportation infrastructure investment. I can think of lots of good sources: a higher gasoline tax, or a carbon tax that climate science-denying Trump would reject. In terms of general revenues, Trump’s tax plan is to massively cut taxes for the rich. He would lower the top marginal rate to 25 percent, the lowest it has been since 1931, cut corporate and capital gains tax rates, and abolish the estate tax. Revenue from personal income taxes would decline by around $11 trillion over 10 years. So transit isn’t getting any bonuses.

That’s the fundamental problem with Trump’s supposed populist impulses: They run head-on into his regressive, right-wing tax plans. You cannot build mass transit — or any of the other infrastructure of a low-carbon society, such as transit-oriented-affordable housing — without paying for it. 

Transportation and housing are the two biggest average household expenditures, and their combined cost renders only 39 percent of American communities affordable, according to the Department of Transportation. Working-class Americans need better transit and affordable, transit-accessible housing — but Donald Trump will not be the candidate to give it to them.

Pic. and tittle: adamfoxie*blog

September 7, 2015

Trump’s Secret Campaign Weapon: Personal Jet Fleet

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has a big advantage hidden in plain sight: Trump Air.
Mr. Trump’s fleet of private aircraft, which includes a Boeing 757, a Cessna Citation X and three Sikorsky helicopters, whisks the billionaire executive to Republican primary events in far-flung locales, some of them difficult to reach by commercial planes.
The fleet also allows Mr. Trump to promote his brand. He garnered valuable publicity at the recent Iowa State Fair, for example, by giving children free rides in one of his helicopters with a huge Trump logo on the side.
“It’s a massive, unbelievable competitive advantage,” said Dave Carney, a GOP campaign consultant who was chief strategist for Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential primary campaign. “Having access to a private jet is the single most important asset to any national political campaign. It’s hugely expensive, but it gives you the ability to set your own schedule.”
The two Trump jets logged at least 71 campaign-related flights between April 1 and Aug. 31, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Federal Aviation Administration flight records on and The flights included at least 26 stops in airports serving Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina, all of them early primary or caucus states. As of Sept. 1, Mr. Trump’s jets have been blocked from being tracked by commercial aviation sites, which is permissible.
In an interview, Mr. Trump said other campaigns might charter planes, but his 757 has amenities such as two bedrooms and a shower. It also features a 57-inch TV, pillows emblazoned with the Trump family crest and gold-plated seat belt buckles and bathroom faucets, according to a 2011 promotional video of the jet provided by his campaign.
“It’s like living in a beautiful home,” Mr. Trump said. “The advantage is that I’m able to fly nicely, quickly and on time.” He said he owns the aircraft outright and has no mortgages on them.
Flyovers with his Trump-branded planes, such as a recent one when his 757 circled over a campaign rally at an Alabama stadium, maximize his impact, Mr. Trump said. “We flew over the center of the stadium and the place went wild. It gave impact to the stadium and it gave impact the following day when everybody carried it” on television, he said.
Many of his GOP rivals, meanwhile, are flying commercial flights for all or much of their travel. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio typically flies commercial; he and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sat next to each other on an American Airlines flight from Miami to Nashville, Tenn., for a National Rifle Association event in April.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has flown commercial of late, although he racked up a hefty private-jet tab last year when flying as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. While former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum reported $10,000 in commercial airline expenditures for the second quarter, his campaign emails have asked supporters to “fill up the tank,” seeking per-mile donations to fund his visits to all 99 counties in Iowa by car.

August 15, 2015

The Tail of the Dog is named “Bush”

DES MOINES — When Jeb Bush stepped up onto the fabled soapbox at the Iowa State Fair on Friday, fairgoers pelted him with questions about the legacy of his brother, a former president. And his father, another former president. And one of his foreign policy advisers, Paul D. Wolfowitz, the architect of his brother’s war in Iraq. And about the war itself.

Under a blazing sun, Bush expressed irritation with what he called “the parlor game” of focusing on Wolfowitz and other past Bush administration advisers who have resurfaced for this Bush campaign.

“If I’m president, we will have a strategy on Day One to take out this grave threat to our national security and to the world,” he said. “I promise you that.”

This was supposed to be the week when Bush would finally lay out his own thoughts on how to combat the Islamic State terror group and put Hillary Rodham Clinton on the defensive — and wrest himself from his family legacy in the process. But over several days, it has become evident that his ideas on the subject are remarkably similar to George W. Bush’s ideas and that he firmly believes that Democrats — not his brother — deserve the blame for the unrest in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

His new struggles with the issue also come as he is fading in polls and being drowned out by the angry outsiders dominating the race.

 Jeb Bush walks through a crowd of journalists at the Iowa State Fair. (Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post)
According to Bush this week, the removal of Saddam Hussein from power “turned out to be a pretty good deal.” The 2007 troop surge was “an extraordinarily effective” strategy. By the time his brother left office, he said, the “mission was accomplished” in Iraq because security had been restored.

Bush also said he won’t rule out waterboarding in the interrogation of terrorism suspects, although he added, “I do think in general that torture is not appropriate.”

[Jeb Bush faults Hillary Clinton for ‘premature’ Iraq withdrawal even though she’s never been Commander in Chief]

Bush faults President Obama for his unwillingness to talk directly about “radical Islamic terrorists” and Clinton for visiting Iraq only once as secretary of state. He said it might be necessary to deploy more U.S. forces to both Iraq and Syria — and that troops already on the ground should be embedded more closely with local forces.

As for questions about advisers, Bush told fairgoers Friday that he has a young team working at his campaign headquarters in Miami. Shrugging, Bush said any veteran GOP foreign policy advisers “had to deal with two Republican administrations” run by his brother and father.

“I mean, this is kind of a tough game to be playing, to be honest with you,” he said. “I’m my own person.”

In an interview Friday, radio host Hugh Hewitt asked Bush whether it’s easier or harder for him to talk about national security given his last name. Bush shot back: “It doesn’t matter. I’m the first candidate to have a view on this with enough detail for people to see what the world would look like if I’m president.”

Funny images of politicians chowing down on the campaign trail
View Photos Normally polished politicians often try and fail to elegantly eat inelegant foods under the bright lights at state fairs and other campaign events.
But Democrats are eager to exploit Bush’s remarks this week to remind voters of his family ties. During a town hall in Dubuque, Iowa, on Friday afternoon, Clinton took aim at Bush’s criticism of her, noting that his brother signed an agreement as president to withdraw combat troops from the country by 2011.

“I do think that it’s a little bit surprising to hear Jeb Bush talk about this,” she said. “He expects the American people to have a collective case of amnesia.”

Later in the town hall, Clinton sought to single out Jeb Bush’s comments on women’s issues but mistakenly referred to him as “George Bush.”

“I get confused,” she said, seeming to relish her error. “Oh, well.”

Most Americans still believe the Iraq war was a mistake and are opposed to new military engagement — making Jeb Bush’s approach to national security risky. But polling suggests that his positions are popular among most Republicans, especially if it means raising doubts about Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

“Jeb is going to talk about the threat of radical Islamic terrorism and how to defeat it,” said Tim Miller, Bush’s campaign communications director. “If the Democrats want to talk about the past, that’s their prerogative, but the American people are looking for someone who will address today’s growing terror threat, and they didn’t get it from Obama/Clinton.”

[The world according to Jeb Bush]

Among his GOP rivals, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has said that “it was a mistake to topple” Hussein, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says it “makes no sense for us to be re-litigating yesterday.”

Businessman Donald Trump has it both ways, blaming George W. Bush for invading the country in the first place and Obama for pulling troops out in 2011. “The war should have never happened,” he told Fox News earlier this year. “Once it did happen, you should have left the troops in. It’s really a double fault.”

In Iowa — where Bush polled seventh in a CNN-ORC poll released this week — there are some Republicans who appreciate his approach and think his dynastic lineage is a positive attribute.

“He’s going to be our man because he’s presidential; he knows what’s going on,” said Belinda Schlueter, a 56-year-old homemaker. “He comes from a family that actually knows what the country’s all about and how the office runs. We need somebody there that knows what they’re doing.”

Bush launched his discussions of national security Tuesday in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. He faulted Obama and Clinton for their “blind haste” to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, a “premature” decision and a “fatal error” that disrupted the fragile progress his brother helped forge in Iraq. He did not mention his brother’s role in starting the process for withdrawal.

While there are about 3,500 U.S. support troops in Iraq now, “more may well be needed,” Bush said. He endorsed deploying troops to work more closely with Iraqi forces, including as forward air spotters to help identify targets. “We do not need, and our friends do not ask for, a major commitment of American combat forces,” he said. “But we do need to convey that we are serious, that we are determined to help local forces take back their country.”

In Syria, he called for more active U.S. involvement in the brutal Syrian civil war — including a no-fly zone and the expansion of “safe zones” in the country.

On Thursday, at a national security forum in Davenport, Iowa, he said “Iraq was fragile but secure” when his brother left office in 2009. He added that the “mission was accomplished in the way that there was security there and it was because of the heroic efforts of the men and women in the United States military that it was so.”

That answer immediately prompted comparisons to George W. Bush’s 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech on the deck of a Navy carrier that critics say prematurely declared the end of the Iraqi military campaign.

At the forum, Jeb Bush would not say for certain whether he would preserve the executive order Obama signed banning enhanced interrogation. Later Thursday, he told reporters that he would not rule out using waterboarding during interrogations of terrorism suspects.

Former House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), whose group hosted the forum, credited Bush with presenting “the most nuanced approach to a really hard problem.”

Rogers, who is neutral in the GOP primary contests, said, “Campaigns now are [so] tapped in to 140 characters and Twitter, it’s very difficult to have a thoughtful conversation about national security.”

Peter Feaver, who advised George W. Bush on Iraq, applauded Bush for delivering “a detailed speech” and suggested he represented views “advocated by serious Democrats and Republicans.”

He pointed to a recent Washington Post op-ed co-written by Michèle Flournoy, Obama’s former undersecretary of defense for policy who has been touted as a possible defense secretary for Clinton. Writing with Richard Fontaine, a former foreign policy adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Flournoy advocated a series of proposals similar to what Bush called for: to provide more military aid to Sunni tribes and the Kurdish peshmerga in Iraq; to embed more Special Operations forces with Iraqi security forces; to deploy forward air controllers to identify targets; and to build a stronger global campaign against the Islamic State.

After parrying questions lobbed at him by Iowans, Bush donned a red apron and flipped pork chops with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R). Carl Owens, a hog farmer, stood off to the side taking in the scene.

“I don’t know if he’s like his brother and dad or not,” said Owens, 59. “I wasn’t too happy with them. Mr. Bush, the last president, look at the mess he got the United States into over there where we shouldn’t have been. Kind of like the Vietnam War. We shouldn’t have been there.”

June 7, 2014

Medical Marijuana Backers turn on the heat on lawmakers who voted it down

Medical marijuana advocates are turning up the heat on House lawmakers who last week voted against an amendment to block the Drug Enforcement Administration from cracking down on state-legal medical marijuana shops and patients.
The appropriations measure prohibiting the DEA from spending funds to arrest state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers, which was sponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), still passed 219-189. But reform group Americans for Safe Access is targeting ads against some lawmakers who voted no, beginning with Reps. Andy Harris (R-Md.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).
"The reason for these two particular members of Congress has to do with their especially outspoken opposition to medical marijuana, despite its popular support in their districts," said Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access. "Although the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment was passed with a solid majority, the influence of these two elected officials is significant, and their efforts to derail a measure supported by the vast majority of Americans is troubling and must be confronted."
The Harris and Wasserman Schultz spots (watch them below) will appear on MSNBC in Maryland and Florida over the next several days.
A total of 17 Democrats joined 172 Republicans in voting against the amendment.
Harris spoke on the House floor last week in opposition to the amendment. He insisted that there are no medical benefits to marijuana (despite much evidence to the contrary) and that medical marijuana laws are a step toward legalizing recreational pot.

April 14, 2014

Donald Rumsfeld and the Art of Talking While Saying Nothing

When Donald Rumsfeld used to hold press conferences about the Iraq war, the press corps would giggle at the clever ways in which he refused to actually say anything or answer any questions.
In a new film about Rumsfeld called The Unknown Knowns, the aging criminal is occasionally confronted with evidence that what he's just said is false. He maintains a frozen grin and acts as if nothing has happened. The film's director, interviewing Rumsfeld, never presses the truly uncomfortable points.
The closest the film comes to asking Rumsfeld about the wrongness of launching a war on Iraq is with the question "Wouldn't it have been better not to go there at all?" Not "Wasn't it illegal?" Not "Do you believe 1.4 million Iraqis were killed or only 0.5 million?" Not "When you sleep at your home at the Mt. Misery plantation where they used to beat and whip slaves like Frederick Douglass how do you rank the mass slaughter you engaged in against the crimes of past eras?" Not "Was it at least inappropriate to smirk and claim that 'freedom is untidy' while people were destroying a society?" And to the only question that was asked, Rumsfeld is allowed to get away with replying "I guess time will tell."
Then Rumsfeld effectively suggests that time has already told. He says that candidate Barack Obama opposed Bush-era tactics and yet has kept them in place, including the PATRIOT Act, lawless imprisonment, etc. He might have added that President Obama has maintained the right to torture and rendition even while largely replacing torture with murder via drone. Most crucially for himself, he might have noted that Obama has violated the Convention Against Torture by barring the prosecution of those responsible for recent violations. But Rumsfeld's point is clear when he notes that Obama's conduct "has to validate" everything the previous gang did wrong.
I've long included Rumsfeld on a list of the top 50 Bush-era war criminals, with this description:
"Donald Rumsfeld lives in Washington, D.C., and at former slave-beating plantation "Mount Misery" on Maryland's Eastern Shore near St. Michael's and a home belonging to Dick Cheney, as well as at an estate outside Taos, New Mexico. He took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, and was in fact a leading liar in making the false case for an illegal war of aggression, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for the New American Century."
The National Lawyers Guild noted years ago:
"It was recently revealed that Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet, and John Ashcroft met in the White House and personally oversaw and approved the torture by authorizing specific torture techniques including waterboarding. President Bush admitted he knew and approved of their actions. 'They are all liable under the War Crimes Act and the Torture Statute,' Professor [Marjorie] Cohn testified. 'Under the doctrine of command responsibility, commanders, all the way up the chain of command to the commander-in-chief, are liable for war crimes if they knew or should have known their subordinates would commit them, and they did nothing to stop or prevent it. The Bush officials ordered the torture after seeking legal cover from their lawyers.'"
This doesn't come up in the movie. Rumsfeld does shamelessly defend abusing and torturing prisoners, and maintains that torturing people protects "the American people," but he passes the buck to the Department of Justice and the CIA and is never asked about the White House meetings described above. When it comes to Abu Ghraib he says he thought "something terrible happened on my watch" as if he'd had nothing to do with it, as if his casual approval of torture and scrawled notes about how he stands up all day and so can prisoners played no part. (He also claims nobody was killed and there was just a bit of nudity and sadism, despite the fact that photos of guards smiling with corpses have been made public -- the movie doesn't mention them.) Asked about abuses migrating from Guantanamo to Iraq, Rumsfeld cites a report to claim they didn't. The director then shows Rumsfeld that the report he cited says that in fact torture techniques migrated from Guantanamo to Iraq. Rumsfeld says he thinks that's accurate, as if he'd never said anything else. Rumsfeld also says that in the future he believes public officials won't write so many memos.
The central lie in Rumsfeld's mind and our society and The Unknown Knowns is probably that irrational foreigners are out to get us. Rumsfeld recounts being asked at his confirmation hearing to become Secretary of So-Called Defense "What do you go to sleep worried about?" The answer was not disease or climate change or car accidents or environmental pollution or starvation any actually significant danger. The answer was not that the United States continues antagonizing the world and creating enemies. There was no sense of urgency to halt injustices or stop arming dictators or pull back from bases that outrage local populations. Instead, Rumsfeld feared another Pearl Harbor -- the same thing his Project for the New American Century had said would be needed in order to justify overthrowing governments in the Middle East.
Rumsfeld describes Pearl Harbor in the movie, lying that no one had imagined the possibility of a Japanese attack there. The facts refute that endlessly repeated lie. Then Rumsfeld tells the same lie about 9-11, calling it "a failure of imagination." What we're going through is a failure of memory. These words "FBI information ... indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York" appeared in an August 6, 2001, briefing of President George W. Bush titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."
The movie does a decent job on Rumsfeld's pre-war lies. Rumsfeld tells the camera that nobody in the Bush administration ever tied Saddam Hussein to 9-11. Then the film shows old footage of Rumsfeld himself doing just that. Similar footage could have been shown of numerous officials on numerous occasions. Rumsfeld has clearly been allowed such levels of impunity that delusions have taken over. He rewrites the past in his head and expects everyone else to obediently follow along. As of course Eric Holder's Justice Department has done.
Rumsfeld, in the film, dates the certainty of the decision to invade Iraq to January 11, 2003. This of course predates months of himself and Bush and Cheney pretending no decision had been made, including the January 31, 2003, White House press conference with Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair at which they said they were working to avoid war, after Bush had just privately proposed to Blair a string of cockamamie ideas that might get a war started.
Bizarrely, the film's director Errol Morris asks Rumsfeld why they didn't just assassinate Saddam Hussein instead of attacking the nation of Iraq. He does not ask why the U.S. didn't obey the law. He does not ask about Hussein's willingness to just leave if he could keep $1 billion, as Bush told Spanish president Jose Maria Aznar that Hussein had offered. And even the question asked, Rumsfeld refuses to answer until he makes Morris complicit. Morris had used the word "they," as in "why didn't they just assassinate him?" whereas he clearly should have used the word "you," but Rumsfeld makes him repeat the question using the word "we" before providing an answer. We? We were lied to by a criminal government. We don't take the blame as servants to a flag. Are you kidding? But Morris dutifully asks "Why didn't we just assassinate ... ?"
Rumsfeld replies that "We don't assassinate" and tries hard not to grin. Morris says "but you tried" referring to an attempt to bomb Hussein's location. Rumsfeld excuses that by saying it was "an act of war." This is the same line that human rights groups take on drone murders. (We can't be sure if they're illegal, because President Obama may have written a note and hid it in his shoe that says it's all a part of a war, and war makes murder OK.)
Rumsfeld blames Iraq for not avoiding being attacked. He pretends Iraq pretended to have weapons, even while blaming Iraq for not turning over the weapons that it claimed not to have (and didn't have). The veteran liar lies that he thought he was using the best "intelligence" when he lied about Iraqi weapons, and then passes the buck to Colin Powell.
Rumsfeld and the nation that produced him didn't turn wrong only in the year 2001. Rumsfeld avoided Watergate by being off to Brussels as ambassador to NATO, a worse crime one might argue than Watergate, or at least than Nixon's recording of conversations -- which is all that this movie discusses, and which Rumsfeld describes as "a mistake." Asked if he learned anything from the U.S. war that killed 4 million Vietnamese, Rumsfeld says "Some things work out, some things don't." I think he expected applause for that line. On the topic of meeting with Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, Rumsfeld is allowed to describe his mistake as having been filmed shaking hands with the man he calls a dictator. But he's never asked about having supported Hussein and armed and assisted him, including with weapons that would later (despite having been destroyed) form the basis of the pretended cause of war.
After giving the fun-loving sociopaths of fictional dramas a bad name for two hours, this real person, Donald Rumsfeld, blames war on "human nature" and expresses pretended sadness at future U.S. war deaths, as if 95% of the victims of U.S. wars (the people who live where the wars are fought) never cross his mind at all. And why should they?
David Swanson's wants you to declare peace at His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition. He blogs at and and works for  

January 27, 2014

I’ve Had Regular Gay Sex with Nigerian Politicians

Gay 1

Six years ago, Musa Ali (not his real name) was linked up with a rich businessman in Yola, who ‘initiated’ him into gay sex. Ali was told that being gay would make him bold and feared. Of course, he was also told that he would make a huge load of money. Now 36, Ali is somewhat filled with regrets and wishing it were possible to turn back the hands of the clock. Sitting in the serene evening of last Thursday in Bankin Kogi at the bank of River Benue in Yola after a Herculean arrangement to get him to talk, he shared his story with our correspondent. Ali revealed that the rich and the powerful, both in business and politics hit the hay with him. Excerpts…
How did you become a gay?A woman my friend introduced to me lured me into it. The woman linked me up with some men in business and in politics. The first man I was introduced to told me that having anal sex would fetch me good fortune and I would be bold to challenge anybody no matter his social status. He said that if I wanted to be rich and be likable, I should join the club of gays. He said that I would meet influential people and they would be attracted to me. Also, I was told that if I ask for anything, without hesitation, my demands would be obliged. He said whenever I speak, I would be feared and my wish would obeyed. That was six years ago. He made love to me during political campaigns and gave me N150,000. I bought a parcel of land with that money but later sold it.

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