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Donald Trump

Trump VA pick says he opposes privatization

by Dan Burns on April 23, 2018 · 0 comments

veterans3Is he consciously telling the whole truth and nothing but? Does it matter, if he‘s pretty much just a puppet anyway? Per the article, some remain skeptical, and I don’t blame them.
 

Democratic senators who have met with White House physician Ronny Jackson, the President’s pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, have made clear that privatization of veterans’ medical care is a red line for them.
 
If Jackson, a rear admiral in the Navy, supports privatization, they won’t back his nomination. So far, they say, Jackson has signaled emphatically that he doesn’t support it.
(CNN)

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Does anyone know Trump’s goal in Syria?

by Eric Ferguson on April 20, 2018 · 1 comment

Do the general dress Trump like this to make him feel more manly when sitting in front of the Big Board?

Do the generals dress Trump like this to make him feel more manly when sitting in front of the Big Board (that’s a Doctor Strangelove reference)?

When I ask if anyone knows Trump’s goal in Syria, that begs the question, does Trump know? Don’t think too hard. The fact Trump hasn’t laid out the goal strongly suggests he has no idea. We might also gather that as most likely because this is Trump. Remember Trump’s Razor: the stupidest explanation is most likely to be right. That causes me to conclude the fake field marshall hasn’t the first clue.

 

Sure, you can make guesses as to the goal in Syria. Feel free. Say whatever you infer the goal to be, but I have my response already: you’re inferring, so you don’t really know (though FWIW, this seems plausible, that #RPOTUS wants to make it look like his tweets mean something, and maybe keep Fox New viewers happy).

 
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Manure_spreader_Record_2When Republicans do well in elections in Minnesota, it’s generally because outstate DFLers didn’t vote. It seems like many only do vote when they’re angry, anxious, really disgusted, etc.
 

The president of the American Soybean Association (ASA) issued a scathing statement Wednesday in response to Donald Trump’s escalating trade war with China that suggests just how “devastating” Trump’s offensive could be at the polls in November.
 
“It should surprise no one that China immediately retaliated against our most important exports, including soybeans. We have been warning the administration and members of Congress that this would happen since the prospect for tariffs was raised,” ASA President and Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer said, adding that China’s plan to impose 25 percent levies on soybeans would be “devastating” to American soybean farmers.
(Daily Kos)

It’s probably more likely than not that something will get worked out before the next harvest. But in any case uncertainty makes it harder to get loans and so forth. And the last thing a lot of farmers need is more stress.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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A foreboding change at the VA

by Dan Burns on March 29, 2018 · 0 comments

Well, it’s not Fox half-wit Pete Hegseth (cf. four posts down on this page), at least not yet, but it is someone similarly unqualified by any valid standard – though highly skilled at smooching Donald Trump’s butt.
 

President Trump has chosen his doctor, Ronny Jackson—the man who went on TV to publicly affirm that the president’s brain is not a bowl of rotting peas—to be his new Secretary of Veterans Affairs. And now, we have confirmation from an anonymous White House official that Jackson got the job in part because of just how well he went on TV and said yes, the president’s brain is good.
 
According to CNN, “Trump liked the way Jackson handled himself with reporters” when he gave a press conference on the results of the president’s physical, which included his insistence that the president is NOT obese and that his brain is NOT falling apart like a cake left in the rain, but instead is Normal. At the press conference, Jackson said he had “no reason whatsoever to think that the president has any issues whatsoever with his thought process.”
(Splinter)

Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin used an op-ed late Wednesday to blast “the environment in Washington” that “has turned so toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive that it became impossible for me to accomplish the important work” of his job.
(CNN)

Looking at what came up when I did an online search right now, corporate media is generally spinning this as being mostly about a pricey jaunt Shulkin took on the taxpayers’ dime. In other words, they’re largely downplaying the reality, which is that Shulkin is gone because he was seen as an obstacle to the greedheads’ plans to start strip-mining veterans’ medical care for profit, ASAP.
 

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trump18For some reason I just can’t get enough of people effectively bashing corporate media, these days.
 

This is going to turn into one of those things like the Iraq War, no doubt, where a great many people who do not have columns in the New York Times are all pointing out the looming catastrophe in real time but it is only after every prediction is proven right that the important wags in the papers and in Congress begrudgingly start to admit that no, flagrant lying in service of plainly crooked ends was not merely a side note to the story, but the whole damn story. They will then congratulate their boldness in coming to this conclusion, while pretending there was no possible way anyone could have predicted that Trump was in up to his strangely puffy eyeballs in Russian conspiracies, and in-office bribe-seeking, and the remnants of the Republican Party will act concerned and surprised for exactly as long as it takes to convince dullards they’re very sorry for all of that, rinse, repeat.
(Daily Kos)

I admit that on the whole c. media hasn’t entirely been quite as bad as I expected, in the matter of automatically downplaying Trump’s most egregious sayings and doings. But all in all they have still been constantly plumbing atrocious new depths of false equivalence, just like during the campaign.
 

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Trump, Kim Jong-un, and Twitter

by Dan Burns on March 9, 2018 · 0 comments

trump13Pr*sident Donald Trump apparently plans to personally meet with North Korean President Kim Jong-un. (North Korea has been trying to get one of these summit-type meetings with a US president going back to Clinton. The intent is to try to help establish world legitimacy for the regime. Not even W. went for it. Once someone explains that, and other matters, to Trump, it seems unlikely that this encounter will actually happen.) I did something I very rarely do: took some time on Twitter to view reactions. MN Progressive Project follows 3,463, by no means all left/progressive, so I presumably saw a somewhat representative sample. Significant categories included:
 

– Quips referencing Dennis Rodman. Most were mildly amusing, none lol-funny;
 
– Suggestions that Trump and KJU will become bosom buddies, what with both being deranged egomaniacs, and that Putin is somehow involved;
 
– Suggestions, entirely valid if you ask me, that KJU will “play” Trump like a grand piano;
 
– Re-posting old Trump tweets about the foolishness of trying to negotiate with “Little Rocket Man.”
 
Which brings me to a big study about Twitter that just appeared. My tendency has been to discount the real influence of social media on voting. That could be a mistake.
 

“Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it,” Jonathan Swift once wrote.
 
It was hyperbole three centuries ago. But it is a factual description of social media, according to an ambitious and first-of-its-kind study published Thursday in Science.
 
The massive new study analyzes every major contested news story in English across the span of Twitter’s existence—some 126,000 stories, tweeted by 3 million users, over more than 10 years—and finds that the truth simply cannot compete with hoax and rumor. By every common metric, falsehood consistently dominates the truth on Twitter, the study finds: Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories.
 
“It seems to be pretty clear [from our study] that false information outperforms true information,” said Soroush Vosoughi, a data scientist at MIT who has studied fake news since 2013 and who led this study. “And that is not just because of bots. It might have something to do with human nature.”
(The Atlantic)

(I don’t think the original publication in Science is paywalled, but I do think you have to sign up to access it, so they can send you emails. That’s how it worked for me when I first read something there online, a few years ago. I now get a weekly list of suggested articles on Saturday mornings, and sporadic emails inviting me to go for a subscription to the actual magazine. In any case, I’m sure that original is pretty dense and data-heavy to plow through. There‘s a link in the quoted article.)
 

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veteransOne one hand the Trump budget calls for a big boost in the Veterans Administration budget, which is a rare bit of positive news from that for the most part extremist wish-list. On another:
 

But others in the administration want a much more drastic change: They seek to privatize vets’ health care. From perches in Congress, the White House and the VA itself, they have battled (VA secretary David) Shulkin. In some instances, his own subordinates have openly defied him.
 
Multiple publications have explored the turmoil and conflict at the VA in the wake of the inspector general report. Yet a closer examination shows the roots of the fight stretch back to the presidential campaign and reveals how far the entropy of the Trump administration has spread. Much has been written on the “chaos presidency.” Every day seems to bring exposés of White House backstabbing and blood feuds. The fight over the VA shows not only that this problem afflicts federal agencies, too, but that friction and contradiction were inevitable: Trump appointed a VA secretary who wants to preserve the fundamental structure of government-provided health care; the president also installed a handful of senior aides who are committed to a dramatically different philosophy.
(ProPublica)

There was a report yesterday that one of Shulkin’s top staffers tried to get him fired.
 

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What difference did the Russians really make?

by Dan Burns on February 22, 2018 · 0 comments

trump7I’m among those who have been thinking, very little. That is, that Russian activities are well down the list of the factors that put Trump in the White House. (If you ask me, the #1 factor is that the overall socio-political intelligence in this country is still considerably less than many of us fondly chose to believe. #2 was the atrocious, despicable behavior of corporate media, including pretty much across the board here in Minnesota.) I still think that, more or less, but I found this article intriguing and worthwhile.
 

It’s a fairly straightforward question. But more than a year later, we are no closer to a definitive answer on the actual impact of Russian intelligence hacking efforts as well as their active measures through RT, Sputnik News, and thousands of Facebook and Twitter ads, bots, and trolls on the 2016 election.
 
It’s not really a question of whether they made a difference: it’s a question of how big or small that difference ultimately was.
 
This unknown impact would be added to the appeals made by either candidate, the specific states they visited, and how they managed to resonate with the general populace in the wake of the news cycle. And of course there was also the last-minute release of the Comey letter, which FiveThirtyEight states may have dropped Clinton’s numbers by between 3 to 5 percent. Is it possible that she had already been severely hampered by the endless reams of bad news about internal DNC emails, and then John Podesta? What difference did it actually make?
(Daily Kos)

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Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 100

by Dan Burns on February 19, 2018 · 0 comments

trump18When I started this series I soon decided to see how long it would take to get to 100. As it turns out, 395 days since his inauguration. Of course I could have arrived far sooner, because we’re talking Trump, here. I’ve never gone out of my way to find items. I just use what pops up in daily/weekly email updates from a bunch of sources, the majority but by no means all progressive. As a matter of fact doing the whole thing has been pretty much effortless.
 
This takes a hard look, based on current information, at whether Pr*sident Donald Trump really is traitorous filth. It’s by James Risen, and does not play fast and loose with the evidence. Quite the contrary.

 

I find it hard to write about Donald Trump.
 
It is not that he is a complicated subject. Quite the opposite. It is that everything about him is so painfully obvious. He is a low-rent racist, a shameless misogynist, and an unbalanced narcissist. He is an unrelenting liar and a two-bit white identity demagogue. Lest anyone forget these things, he goes out of his way each day to remind us of them.
 
At the end of the day, he is certain to be left in the dustbin of history, alongside Father Coughlin and Gen. Edwin Walker. (Exactly – you don’t remember them, either.)
 
What more can I add?
 
Unfortunately, another word also describes him: president. The fact that such an unstable egomaniac occupies the White House is the greatest threat to the national security of the United States in modern history.
 
Which brings me to the only question about Donald Trump that I find really interesting: Is he a traitor?
(The Intercept)

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Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 99

by Dan Burns on February 15, 2018 · 0 comments

trump13I suppose that this is not at all surprising.
 

President Donald Trump — who boasted (in January) that his success in life was a result of “being, like, really smart” — communicates at the lowest grade level of the last 15 presidents, according to a new analysis of the speech patterns of presidents going back to Herbert Hoover.
 
The analysis assessed the first 30,000 words each president spoke in office, and ranked them on the Flesch-Kincaid grade level scale and more than two dozen other common tests analyzing English-language difficulty levels. Trump clocked in around mid-fourth grade, the worst since Harry Truman, who spoke at nearly a sixth-grade level.
(Newsweek)

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