Freedom needs Fourth Estate
One of the most disturbing characteristics of Trump’s nascent presidency is his browbeating the “legitimate” press (Main Stream Media) and glorifying propaganda tools such as Breitbart.
___The MSM are our greatest (only?) source of knowledge about the almost-certain to be unprincipled and dangerous and oligarchic antics of the Trump administration. The Washington press corps need our support. A case in point:
Hohmann, James. “Monica Crowley losing White House job shows that the rules of politics still apply for Donald Trump.” Washington Post. powerpost.com. January 17, 2017. Web.
There have also been so many developments related to Trump’s cabinet appointees that . . . stories that might have doomed past nominees have drawn less attention than Trump’s early-morning, made-for-cable tweets.
___For the past 10 days, the poster child for this phenomenon has been Monica Crowley, a TV talking head who despite a dearth of serious experience was appointed as the senior director of strategic communications on the National Security Council: ___A steady stream of stories since the weekend before last has revealed pretty egregious examples of apparent plagiarism over a period of several years, from a 2012 book to her PhD dissertation and op-eds.
___[. . . .] The transition team put out a statement saying, “Any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country.”
___[. . . .] Finally, because a handful of reporters doggedly pursued the story, the pressure became too much. Yesterday afternoon, Crowley sent a statement to the Washington Times to say that “after much reflection” she’s decided to stay in New York. She made no mention of plagiarism. More . . . .
We all know Hallie Jackson isn’t the only one who wants to see Trump’s taxes. She needs to know we “have her back,” that we appreciate her attempts to get information. The goal of this blog is to publish and keep up to date various kinds of contact information for
- major news organizations: MSNBC, CNN, NPR, PBS, others (even FOX)
- newspaper (online) editorial pages
- human rights organizations
- watchdog groups
___We will regularly identify news stories that MSM need to be commended for, questioned about, and/or prodded to cover more completely. We will post information about those news items here with suggestions for media outlets and personalities to contact.
It will be helpful if you “follow” the blog. Building up a group of followers is the best way to begin to have the blog appear in internet searches.
Norton, Helen. “The Government’s Lies And The Constitution.” Indiana Law Journal 91.1 (2015): 73-120.
The government’s lies can be devastating. This is the case, for example, of its lies told to resist legal and political accountability for its misconduct.
___[. . . .] The substantial harms threatened by some government lies invite a search for ways to punish and prevent them. At the same time, however, the number of lies, the diversity of reasons for which they are told, and the variety of their effects combine to suggest that efforts to enforce blanket prohibitions against the government’s deliberate falsehoods would be both difficult and unwise.
___[. . . .] The harms of lies in general and lies by the government in particular center on the liar’s effort to manipulate the listener in ways that are inherently disrespectful of the listener’s autonomy and dignity. As Harry Frankfurt explains:
The most irreducibly bad thing about lies is that they contrive
to interfere with, and to impair, our natural effort to apprehend
the real state of affairs. They are designed to prevent us from
being in touch with what is really going on. In telling his lie,
the liar tries to mislead us into believing that the facts are other
than they actually are. He tries to impose his will on us.
(Harry Frankfurt, “On Truth, Lies, and Bullshit.” The Philosophy of Deception 37.
Clancy Martin, ed., 2009).
Does the First Amendment’s incontrovertible declaration that
“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”
apply to the actions of the President? The President can make no law, but can the President take actions that abridge the freedom of speech or of the press? If he does, and the Congress and courts do not step in to stop him, will the freedoms disappear?
We the People Must Protect Our Liberty
“. . . what is clear is that the framing generation understood that liberty of the press mattered. . . . the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 protected the press. [It reads] “That the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.” . . . James Madison’s original proposal to Congress [reads] “All of these formulations make it clear that the reason to protect the press is because it is a ‘bulwark’”—i.e., a protector against external danger—of liberty. The external danger to be feared, of course, was despotic government. The press, in other words, was an essential tool for the preservation of liberal democracy because it kept the people informed of misbehavior by government officials, and so permitted a response—ideally through the democratic process, but if that was denied then through revolution. That the Press Clause plays this role has been acknowledged by hordes of commentators and is not really controversial. But this acknowledgement places the Press Clause squarely at the center of the Democratic First Amendment. (Bhagwat, Ashutosh. “The Democratic First Amendment.” Northwestern University Law Review 110.5 (2016): 1097-1124.)
Trump’s first news conference since his election demonstrated clearly enough that he either does not understand freedom of the press or that he is determined to abridge the freedom of the press by whatever means he can find at his disposal. One of the many accounts of that conference is titled, “Trump pits his staff against the press.”
Trump’s constant denigration of the press during the campaign, and his rude and crude methods of quieting reporters hardly need documentation. Americans are concerned (angered? frightened? aggrieved?) about Trump’s attempts to thwart the press in order to limit what the American people know about the workings of his administration.
This blog will provide a forum for sharing both information about the Trump administration’s anti-press activities and actions readers and followers can take to counter those activities.
Watch this space for suggestions for contacting news media to show support and for ways to participate in actions opposing Trump’s policies and activities in relation to the press.
(Note: this blog has moved through several incarnations having to do with the 2016 Presidential campaign. Since the domain name is registered and is available for all uses of a blog, we will keep it as our focal point for the present although we will most likely move to a website or other format eventually.)
(Note: see Palestine Insight blog for more information, including Trump’s contribution to the settlement support group of which Friedman is president.)
TRUMP PICKS A SUPPORTER OF WEST BANK SETTLEMENTS FOR AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL
Dec. 15, 2016 – President-elect Donald Trump announced Thursday that he will nominate New York bankruptcy lawyer David M. Friedman as his ambassador to Israel, saying in a statement issued by his transition office that Friedman’s “strong relationships in Israel will form the foundation of his diplomatic mission.”
___Friedman said in the statement that he would work “tirelessly to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries . . . and look forward to doing this from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
___Trump has indicated that he would overturn more than two decades of presidential waivers overriding the 1995 law mandating that the U.S. Embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move weighted with heavy religious and political significance. Jerusalem’s status is contested by Palestinians and most of the world’s nations, which recognize lines drawn after the 1967 war. More . . .
Dec. 16, 2016 – David Friedman, Donald Trump’s soon-to-be ambassador to Israel, is getting a lot of attention Friday for having said that center-left American Jews who criticize the Israeli government are “far worse” than individuals who “turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps.” And said attention is fair, because that’s an awful thing to say. My goodness! But Friedman is also notable for another reason: He’s the bankruptcy lawyer that helped Trump pull off one of his greatest large-scale deadbeat screw jobs.
___Here’s the story. In 1995, a company called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts went public on the New York Stock Exchange. Trump was its chairman and, beginning in 2000, its CEO. The company lost money every year of its existence and went bankrupt in 2004. Its total 1995–2004 losses: $647 million. When it went bankrupt, bondholders had to settle for less than what they were owed. More . . .
TRUMP CHOOSES HARD-LINER AS AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL
New York Times
Dec. a5, 2016 – President-elect Donald J. Trump on Thursday named David M. Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer aligned with the Israeli far right, as his nominee for ambassador to Israel, elevating a campaign adviser who has questioned the need for a two-state solution and has likened left-leaning Jews in America to the Jews who aided the Nazis in the Holocaust.
___Mr. Friedman, whose outspoken views stand in stark contrast to decades of American policy toward Israel, did not wait long on Thursday to signal his intention to upend the American approach. In a statement from the Trump transition team announcing his nomination, he said he looked forward to doing the job “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
___Through decades of Republican and Democratic administrations, the embassy has been in Tel Aviv, as the State Department insists that the status of Jerusalem — which both Israel and the Palestinians see as their rightful capital — can be determined only through negotiations as part of an overall peace deal.
___Mr. Friedman, who has no diplomatic experience, has said that he does not believe it would be illegal for Israel to annex the occupied West Bank and he supports building new settlements there, which Washington has long condemned as illegitimate and an obstacle to peace. More . . .
TRUMP PICK FOR AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL SUPPORTS ISRAELI ANNEXATION OF WEST BANK AND CALLS LIBERAL JEWS ‘KAPOS’
Dec. 16, 2016 – [. . . .] In another stunning column for Arutz Sheva, Friedman accuses Obama of being an anti-Semite, and characterized the centrist Zionist organization J Street as being “worse than kapos”.
___“They are far worse than kapos – Jews who turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps,” he wrote.
___Yousef Munayyer [executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights] tells Mondoweiss that the appointment of David Friedman as Ambassador to Israel “is but the latest suggestion of what a Trump administration’s policy toward Palestine/Israel will be and that is a full, unapologetic embrace of Israeli Apartheid. Trump has railed against political correctness throughout his campaign and in many ways he seems to be doing the same thing with shaping his policy on this issue.”
___Yousef Munayyer [executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights] explains that “for decades the US has done a sort of “politically correct” dance where they have consistently supported Israel as it colonizes what is left of Palestinian territory while saying they support a Palestinian state.” The nomination of Friedman signals that the U.S. will do away with this farce, and “just own what they have done for years which is support the apartheid reality on the ground.” Munayyer contends that a Trump administration will treat Israel with light-headedness, which means that “the civil society effort to impose costs on Israel through boycott, divestment and sanctions tactics [BDS] has never been more important.” More . . .
- JOINT STATEMENT FROM JASON DOV GREENBLATT AND DAVID FRIEDMAN, CO-CHAIRMEN OF THE ISRAEL ADVISORY COMMITTEE TO DONALD J. TRUMP
[Jason D. Greenblatt EVP/Chief Legal Officer of The Trump Organization, co-chairman of Mr. Trump’s Israel Advisory Committee & David M. Friedman of the Kasowitz law firm, Israel advisor, regular contributor to Arutz Sheva, an Israeli media network identifying with Religious Zionism.]
Nov. 5, 2016
- It has been an exhilarating election cycle. Approximately seven months ago, we were blessed to have been tapped by Donald J. Trump to be his top advisors with respect to the State of Israel. We have been fortunate to work with a talented team of people and have put together the below positions. Each of these positions have been discussed with Mr. Trump and the Trump campaign, and most have been stated, in one form or another, by Mr. Trump in various interviews or speeches given by him or on his social media accounts. For those of you who are true friends of the State of Israel, and for those of you who believe that the State of Israel and the United States of America have an unbreakable friendship, we urge you to read the below. We would like to express our gratitude to those individuals who have helped us over the past few months — we truly appreciate your efforts, friendship and guidance. We would also like to express our gratitude to our friend, a great friend of the State of Israel, Donald J. Trump, who gave us the tremendous opportunity to serve in this capacity. May God bless the United States of America and the State of Israel.
- The unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel is based upon shared values of democracy, freedom of speech, respect for minorities, cherishing life, and the opportunity for all citizens to pursue their dreams.
- Israel is the state of the Jewish people, who have lived in that land for 3,500 years. The State of Israel was founded with courage and determination by great men and women against enormous odds and is an inspiration to people everywhere who value freedom and human dignity. Israel is a staunch ally of the U.S. and a key partner in the global war against Islamic jihadism. Military cooperation and coordination between Israel and the U.S. must continue to grow.
- The American people value our close friendship and alliance with Israel — culturally, religiously, and politically. While other nations have required U.S. troops to defend them, Israelis have always defended their own country by themselves and only ask for military equipment assistance and diplomatic support to do so. The U.S. does not need to nation-build in Israel or send troops to defend Israel.
- The Memorandum of Understanding signed by the American and Israeli Governments is a good first step, but there is much more to be done. A Trump Administration will ensure that Israel receives maximum military, strategic and tactical cooperation from the United States, and the MOU will not limit the support that we give. Further, Congress will not be limited to give support greater than that provided by the MOU if it chooses to do so. Israel and the United States benefit tremendously from what each country brings to the table — the relationship is a two way street.
- The U.S. should veto any United Nations votes that unfairly single out Israel and will work in international institutions and forums, including in our relations with the European Union, to oppose efforts to delegitimize Israel, impose discriminatory double standards against Israel, or to impose special labeling requirements on Israeli products or boycotts on Israeli goods.
- The U.S. should cut off funds for the UN Human Rights Council, a body dominated by countries presently run by dictatorships that seems solely devoted to slandering the Jewish State. UNESCO’s attempt to disconnect the State of Israel from Jerusalem is a one-sided attempt to ignore Israel’s 3,000-year bond to its capital city, and is further evidence of the enormous anti-Israel bias of the United Nations.
- The U.S. should view the effort to boycott, divest from, and sanction (BDS) Israel as inherently anti-Semitic and take strong measures, both diplomatic and legislative, to thwart actions that are intended to limit commercial relations with Israel, or persons or entities doing business in Israeli areas, in a discriminatory manner. The BDS movement is just another attempt by the Palestinians to avoid having to commit to a peaceful co-existence with Israel. The false notion that Israel is an occupier should be rejected.
- The Trump administration will ask the Justice Department to investigate coordinated attempts on college campuses to intimidate students who support Israel.
- A two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians appears impossible as long as the Palestinians are unwilling to renounce violence against Israel or recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Additionally, the Palestinians are divided between PA rule in the West Bank and Hamas rule in Gaza so there is not a united Palestinian people who could control a second state. Hamas is a US-designated terrorist organization that actively seeks Israel’s destruction. We will seek to assist the Israelis and the Palestinians in reaching a comprehensive and lasting peace, to be freely and fairly negotiated between those living in the region.
- The Palestinian leadership, including the PA, has undermined any chance for peace with Israel by raising generations of Palestinian children on an educational program of hatred of Israel and Jews. The larger Palestinian society is regularly taught such hatred on Palestinian television, in the Palestinian press, in entertainment media, and in political and religious communications. The two major Palestinian political parties — Hamas and Fatah — regularly promote anti-Semitism and jihad.
- The U.S. cannot support the creation of a new state where terrorism is financially incentivized, terrorists are celebrated by political parties and government institutions, and the corrupt diversion of foreign aid is rampant. The U.S. should not support the creation of a state that forbids the presence of Christian or Jewish citizens, or that discriminates against people on the basis of religion.
- The U.S. should support direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians without preconditions, and will oppose all Palestinian, European and other efforts to bypass direct negotiations between parties in favor of an imposed settlement. Any solutions imposed on Israel by outside parties including by the United Nations Security Council, should be opposed. We support Israel’s right and obligation to defend itself against terror attacks upon its people and against alternative forms of warfare being waged upon it legally, economically, culturally, and otherwise.
- Israel’s maintenance of defensible borders that preserve peace and promote stability in the region is a necessity. Pressure should not be put on Israel to withdraw to borders that make attacks and conflict more likely.
- The U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state and Mr. Trump’s Administration will move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. · Despite the Iran Nuclear deal in 2015, the U.S. State Department recently designated Iran, yet again, as the leading state sponsor of terrorism — putting the Middle East particularly, but the whole world at risk by financing, arming, and training terrorist groups operating around the world including Hamas, Hezbollah, and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. must counteract Iran’s ongoing violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons and their noncompliance with past and present sanctions, as well as the agreements they signed, and implement tough, new sanctions when needed to protect the world and Iran’s neighbors from its continuing nuclear and non-nuclear threats.
―Jason D. Greenblatt, co-chairman of Mr. Trump’s Israel Advisory Committee & Co-Founder of InspireConversation.com
This is not fake news
The following is a short compendium of articles from newspapers, the internet, and online journals which, I trust, provides information about the epidemic of “fake news” that has stifled substantive political conversation among many Americans. Whether or not “fake news” effected Trump’s election is for each reader to decide.
Silverman, Craig and Lawrence Alexander.
“How Teens In The Balkans Are Duping Trump Supporters With Fake News.”
3 Nov 2016. [Note: this was written before the election.] This is the news of the millennium!” said the story on WorldPoliticus.com. Citing unnamed FBI sources, it claimed Hillary Clinton will be indicted in 2017 for crimes related to her email scandal.
___“Your Prayers Have Been Answered,” declared the headline.
___For Trump supporters, that certainly seemed to be the case. They helped the baseless story generate over 140,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.
___Meanwhile, roughly 6,000 miles away in a small town in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a young man watched as money began trickling into his Google AdSense account.
___Over the past year, the Macedonian town of Veles (population 45,000) has experienced a digital gold rush as locals launched at least 140 US politics websites. More . . .
“Did fake news on Facebook swing the US election?”
New Statesman. .
17 Nov. 2016. Its 1.7 billion users were treated to articles about how the Pope backs Trump and Clinton is dying. It’s time to accept Facebook is a force in politics. More . . .
Tan, Zhai Yun.
“Mark Zuckerberg says no, don’t blame election results on Facebook.”
Christian Science Monitor.
11 Nov. 2016. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg defended his company on Thursday by saying that it’s a “crazy idea” to think that fake news on the social network helped elect Donald Trump to the White House.
___It was a remark aimed at criticism that the social media network, one of the most widely used in the United States, has aided in the spread of fake news through its algorithms that run the Trending box, and in showing what posts show up on a user’s feed. More . . .
“How Zuckerberg’s changing his mind on Facebook’s fake news dilemma.”
Christian Science Monitor.
19 Nov. 2016. Facebook and other tech companies have long tried to stay out of content curation, verification or censorship. But the volume of unreliable information in circulation, particularly throughout the election cycle, is shifting thinking. More . . .
“Google, Facebook Move To Curb Ads On ‘Fake News’ Sites.”
15 Nov. 2016. Google and Facebook have said that they will work to prevent websites that distribute fake news from benefiting from revenue generating advertising placements. ___Google this week joined Facebook in announcing that it would restrict revenue-generating advertisements from being placed on websites purveying fake news. The move appears to be in response to the criticism that both companies have received in recent days for allowing some websites to distribute fake news pertaining to the recent U.S. presidential election. More . . .
“How fake news sites frequently trick big-time journalists.”
Columbia Journalism Review.
26 May 2016. It would’ve been one hell of a story. Early this month, “news” surfaced that Michael Jordan—yes, the Michael Jordan—had threatened to move his NBA team, the Charlotte Hornets, from North Carolina unless the state repealed a law barring transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice. Air Jordan hadn’t seemed so heroic since he saved Bugs Bunny in the 1996 movie Space Jam.
___Except the news was as fictional as the film.
___A few sites posing as legitimate news organizations, including one that crudely imitates ABC News’ logo and web address, first published the bunk Jordan story. From there it spread to other media outlets, like Metro US, Elite Daily, and the Dallas Voice. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel even weaponized the false claim in an editorial against North Carolina’s law. For what felt like the millionth time, fake news sites—the kind that say they’re satirical but are nothing like The Onion—had duped journalists into buying a bogus story. More . . .
“In Trump territory, local press tries to distance itself from national media.”
Columbia Journalism Review
21 Nov 2016. About a month before the election, a radio station in Fairfield, Illinois, stopped taking calls to its popular morning talk show. It was the first time in 25 years that news director Len Wells remembers ever having to shut off the phones.
___“It was awful,” Wells says of the comments about the presidential race. “We had people calling and saying incredibly hateful and ugly things. We just couldn’t have a civil conversation.”
___WFIW is broadcast from Wayne County in Southern Illinois, where voters overwhelmingly voted for President-elect Donald Trump. In fact, Trump had the largest margin of support in Wayne out of any county in Illinois, with 83 percent of the vote. (Hillary Clinton won the state because of the large Democratic base in more populous and diverse Chicago and its ring suburbs). More . . .
“How to Beat the Scourge of Fake News. Facebook and Google can’t do it alone. Better educating consumers is crucial.”
Wall Street Journal.
11 Dec 2016 This was supposed to be the information age. Instead, we find ourselves in a swamp of disinformation, rumor, innuendo and fake news. To cite a few examples: A false endorsement of Donald Trump by the pope on Facebook went viral, along with a story that Ireland was accepting anti-Trump refugees. . . More . . .
“Fake News Trumps True News.”
Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists
28 Nov 2016 Fake news might have proved more interesting to readers than the factual stuff.
___This sobering thought has churned angst over whether social-media falsehoods contributed to Donald Trump’s presidential victory, not to mention whether the upset win could have been foreseen.
___News consumers tend to believe reports that support their personal beliefs — an effect that psychologists call confirmation bias. People like to believe they’re right. In the election run-up, they clicked their way across the internet to prove it. More . . .
Meet the new Secretary of Education:
According to the Center for Public Integrity, in a 1997 op-ed [BETSY] DEVOS . . . defended her family’s political contributions. “My family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican party … I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence,” the piece reads. “Now, I simply concede the point. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment; we expect a good and honest government. Furthermore, we expect the Republican Party to use the money to promote these policies and, yes, to win elections.”
Conniff, Ruth. “Public School Shakedown.” Progressive 77.8 (2013): 18-19.
A fundamental struggle for democracy is going on behind the scenes in statehouses around the country, as a handful of wealthy individuals and foundations pour money into efforts to privatize the public schools.
___The implications are huge. But the school privatizers—and their lobbyists—have so muddied the waters that the public does not get a clear picture of what is at stake.
[. . . .] And the voucher program is destined to grow. Just look at Milwaukee, where vouchers have been in place on an “experimental” basis for twenty-three years. Despite test results that show that voucher students fare worse than their public-school peers in math and reading, the “experiment” is never over. And now Walker is upsizing this failed program to the entire state.
___BETSY DEVOS, the head of the American Federation for Children, criticized Walker for not going far enough, denouncing a 1,000-student enrollment cap on vouchers that is likely to be temporary. Stay tuned for a no-cap voucher plan.
publicschoolshakedown.org A Program of The Progressive
Julian Vazquez Heilig
The election of Donald Trump, and his subsequent nomination of BETSY DEVOS for Secretary of Education, may turn the tide in favor of private control of public education. The President-elect promised during his campaign that his administration will spend billions on market-based school choice in the first 100 days. If these funds are taken from federal Title I dollars, Trump, during his first year as President, could cripple the public education system as we know it today [. . . .]
Brown, Simon. “The Great Voucher Fraud.” Church & State 66.9 (2013): 4-7
[. . . . Voucher proponents] would have Americans believe that they are something like modern Martin Luther King Jrs., seeking enhanced opportunities for all. They claim that parents should be able to use taxpayer money to educate their children as they see fit rather than being locked into certain schools, and they say taxpayer-funded “scholarships” – a euphemism for vouchers – are the only way for low-income families to escape failing public schools.
___But the reality is far different. Despite the best efforts of “school choice” advocates to spin the effectiveness of vouchers, decades of accumulated evidence paints a different story: Vouchers do not improve educational outcomes . . .
[. . . .] Powerful groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Heritage Foundation, BETSY DEVOS‘ American Federation of Children and other far-right groups that hate public services provide a rich funding stream for the voucher movement. Organizations like these talk about helping children. But their real goal is to crush teachers’ unions and shift education from the public to the private sector, opening up potentially billions for rapacious for-profit firms that would love nothing better than to “Walmart-ize” American education.
___Joining them are fundamentalist Christians, who believe public education is “godless”. . . .
Boston, Rob. “SNEAK ATTACK: Michigan Multi-Millionaire Betsy Devos Is A Four- Star General In A Deceptive Behind-The-Scenes War On Public Schools And Church-State Separation.” Church & State 63.8 (2010): 12-16.
In March, a Michigan multi-millionaire named Betsy Devos announced the formation of a new national group to fight for voucher subsidies for religious schools and other forms of “school choice.”
___”Political gamesmanship and special interests should never stand in the way of providing children with access to great schools,” DEVOS fulminated in a press release announcing the creation of the American Federation for Children. “We know that it takes smart public policy – and political backbone – to bring about the types of school choice programs that provide families with better educational opportunities. That is why we have created the American Federation for Children.”
[. . . .] As the press release mentioned, the American Federation for Children was just a rebranding effort for a group previously known as Advocates for School Choice. Why the name change? DeVos, a fundamentalist Christian and far right political activist, probably wanted to jump-start the pro-voucher drive with at least the appearance of something new. At the same time, the revised moniker was a slap at the American Federation of Teachers, a teachers’ union much loathed by DeVos and her allies.
___The real news in the release was the growing prominence of Devos as a linchpin in the voucher movement. Although hardly a household name, if Betsy DeVos has her way, every American could feel her reach: DeVos’ goal is nothing short of a radical recreation of education in the United States, with tax-supported religious and other private schools replacing the traditional public school system. DeVos rarely states it that bluntly. Instead, she crouches behind the euphemism of “school choice” and pretends to be a kindly advocate for downtrodden youngsters trapped in public schools described as “failing.”
___Driven by a relentless faith in ultra-conservative religion and the privatization of public services, DeVos and her husband, Dick, who is best known as the former president of Amway, are pouring millions from their personal fortune into a nationwide voucher push. They’ll be bringing plenty of antipublic school allies along for the ride – chief among them the Walton Family Foundation, an entity operated by the heirs of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart.
Apple, Michael W. “Understanding And Interrupting Hegemonic Projects In Education: Learning From Stuart Hall.” Discourse: Studies In The Cultural Politics Of Education 36.2 (2015): 171-184. Source . . .
[. . . .] behind a good deal of the Right’s ideological assemblage was the creation of a constitutive outside, a set of ‘raced others’ who were seen as a form of pollution and danger for which only the neoliberal market could provide an answer.
___This, for example, continues to be clear in the USA, where neoliberal proposals for marketization and privatization in education such as voucher plans may be couched in the language of escaping from bad state-supported schools, but the reality is that they constitute an attack on the state and on the entire public sphere. While the implications of these attacks are deeply troubling, the reality is that they have been more than a little successful in changing our common sense and in offering what are seemingly workable alternatives to even dispossessed groups. The power of the neoliberal agenda is visible in the hard and partly successful work that the Right has done in convincing many people, including some Black and Latino/Latina activist groups, that neoliberal policies offer a more realistic hope for the future of their children than, say, existing state-supported schools.
___Of course, in the face of this set of desocializing policies, the radical transformation of the public sphere into simply one more extension of the private is of no little concern. . . .
NEW LABOR FORUM 22.3 (2013): 81-85.
“Mobilizing To Hold Wall Street Accountable.”
By Peter Dreier
[. . . .] In 2005, Rose Gudiel bought a 1,200-square-foot, one-story three-bedroom house in La Puente, a working-class suburb of Los Angeles, where she, her father (a warehouse worker), and her brother cared for her disabled sixty-three-year-old mother. They made steady mortgage payments until 2009, when her brother died unexpectedly. The family lost his income and was two weeks late on the next mortgage payment. When they sent in the payment, OneWest Bank would not accept it, and soon began foreclosure proceedings on Gudiel. “I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, and I worked hard so that I can own a home,” said Gudiel. “And now these banks are taking my dream away.”
___In 2010, Gudiel asked the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) for help. Soon, she, her family, neighbors, and others were protesting at the bank’s Pasadena headquarters and at the nine-bedroom, ten-bathroom, 22,721-square-foot, $26 million mansion in Los Angeles’ swanky Bel-Air neighborhood owned by Steve Mnuchin, OneWest’s CEO. They also organized a round-the-clock vigil at Gudiel’s house to prevent the sheriff from evicting the family. Gudiel, who had not participated in political activities before, also joined Occupy Los Angeles protests and was one of nine people arrested for engaging in a sit-in at Fannie Mae’s regional office. These actions generated so much media attention that in October 2011, OneWest and Fannie Mae agreed to renegotiate Gudiel’s loan so her family could stay in their home. Gudiel became an ACCE leader, pledging to help other homeowners facing foreclosure. Source.
William Cohan interviewed by Paul Solman
December 8, 2016
William David Cohan is an American business writer. He was an investigative reporter for the Raleigh Times. He then worked on Wall Street for seventeen years as a mergers and acquisitions banker. Cohan is a graduate of Duke University, Columbia University School of Journalism, and Columbia University Graduate School of Business.
WILLIAM COHAN: Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross are deal guys. They are Wall Street deal guys.
PAUL SOLMAN: What is a deal guy?
WILLIAM COHAN: That means that you are very transactional.
In Steve Mnuchin’s case, he made his fortune by buying a bank that the FDIC had foreclosed upon during the financial crisis of 2008, renamed it OneWest, and sold it eventually to CIT, that was run by another ex-Goldman banker named John Thain. And they all made billions as a result.
Wilbur Ross did the same thing buying a business that was in the ashes of the financial crisis and, like a phoenix, resurrecting it from the ashes.
PAUL SOLMAN: But isn’t a major reason that Donald Trump got elected the idea that he was the ultimate change agent, that he would disrupt things as they are? So, who better than deal-makers to do that?
WILLIAM COHAN: Absolutely, the selection of Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross fit into this vision of people who cut through bureaucracy. I mean, you know, one of Trump’s great accomplishments is, you know, fixing Wollman Rink in Central Park.
PAUL SOLMAN: The skating — the skating rink.
WILLIAM COHAN: The skating rink. Right.
DONALD TRUMP: I got together with everybody, the city, the council. Everything
had to be done fast. And we got it done. And you can do that with this country.
WILLIAM COHAN: Is America Wollman Rink? I don’t think so.
PAUL SOLMAN: No, America isn’t Wollman Rink, but I think almost everybody watching, and certainly the people who voted for him, have had frustrating experiences with bureaucrats and bureaucracy, private as well as public, pushing them around.
WILLIAM COHAN: It’s really hard to know what a Steve Mnuchin or a Wilbur Ross will do.
I mean, their firms, they’re small, 10, 20, 30 people. Now they’re commanding battleships. The Treasury has 80,000 people. Commerce has 50,000 people.
You know, you have to start miles away to turn a battleship around. There’s nothing in their background, nothing, that would indicate that they would have any skill at running these bureaucracies.
THE AMERICAN PROSPECT
“Steve Mnuchin: Trickle Downer of the Week”
By Justin Miller
December 7, 2016
“Trump Treasury pick made millions after his bank foreclosed on homeowners”
Steven Mnuchin’s OneWest filed to take a 90-year-old woman’s house after a 27-cent payment error.
By Lorraine Woellert
December 1, 2016
MSNBC – The Rachel Maddow Show / The MaddowBlog
“Trump’s Treasury pick faces accusations that can’t be explained away”
By Steve Benen
December 1, 2016
“Wall Street at Night,” by Lola Ridge
Long vast shapes… cooled and flushed through with darkness…
Glazed with a flashy luster
From some little pert café chirping up like a sparrow.
And down among iron guts
Throwing gray spatter of light… pale without heat…
Like the pallor of dead bodies.
Born in Dublin on December 12, 1873, Lola Ridge grew up in mining towns in New Zealand and Australia. When she was thirty-four years old, she immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in New York City. https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/lola-ridge
Mar 20, 2014
WILL EXXON’S ‘BROMANCE’ WITH THE KREMLIN HELP KEEP PUTIN IN CHECK?
ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has a good relationship with Vladimir Putin. If you do a Google image search for the two men, you’ll see a dozen shots of them together, looking in each others’ eyes, smiling, laughing, shaking hands.
___They have a lot in common. Both men run autocratic, secretive, oil-based, global operations. And they like each other enough that they’ve joined forces in perhaps the biggest joint venture in the global oil industry. At a time when Putin has shown nothing but contempt for all other high-level American leaders, here’s hoping that the Tillerson-Putin “bromance” (and the threat of having it broken up by Washington sanctions) can help keep the Russian President from doubling down on crazy. MORE . . .
Jun 16, 2014
EXXON CEO REX TILLERSON HUNG OUT WITH SANCTIONED RUSSIANS TODAY
Exxon Mobil Corp CEO Rex Tillerson addressed the World Petroleum Congress today… in Moscow.
___Lucas Magnuson, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, discouraged U.S. attendance at the Moscow conference saying, “We do not believe it is appropriate to return to ‘business as usual’ in Russia.” Still, Exxon and Rosneft have continued “business as usual” in regards to their Arctic deal, as $900 billion is on the line. MORE . . .
The Wall Street Journal
December 9, 2016
EXXON’S REX TILLERSON IS TOP CANDIDATE FOR SECRETARY OF STATE
CEO with ties to Russia’s Vladimir Putin would bring an executive’s experience to the diplomatic role, a transition official said.
MORE. . .
Secret CIA assessment says Russia intervened in election to help Trump win
The Chicago Tribune
The Washington Post
By Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller
December 9, 2016
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.
MORE . . .
Between Ronald Reagan’s election and his inauguration in 1980, Roger Rosenblatt, essayist for TIME and other magazines wrote a humor piece (most of his were) asking what we should call Reagan when he became President. One sentence is eerily prescient. What did Rosenblatt know that the rest of us didn’t?
Rosenblatt, Roger. “Is Reagan Dutch Or O & W?.” Time 116.26 (1980): 68.
[. . . .] On the whole, however, people will fight through a forbidding given name, especially when they want to make someone more vivid in their minds. Where would baseball be without Gosse, hockey without Boom, football without Mean Joe? Common criminals would sound like common criminals were there no Machine Gun, Killer or Mad Dog among them, Not that all gangster names are so picturesque. Nathan Kaplan’s moniker was “Kid Dropper” for reasons too awful to contemplate. And Al Capone was known as the Millionaire Gorilla, though it is hard to picture some floozie chucking him under the chin and cooing. “Come on, you big, bad Millionaire Gorilla.”
Unfortunately, none of this offers much of a guide toward what to call soon-to-be President Reagan. Neither does America’s own history, which is packed with presidential sobriquets equally various and baffling. George Washington was known not only as the Father of His Country, but also as the Stepfather of His Country and the Father of Pittsburgh. At least four U.S. Presidents were known as “His Accidency” (Tyler, Fillmore, Arthur and Andrew Johnson). That name, while suggestive, is still a cut above “His Fraudulency” (Rutherford B. Hayes). Martin Van Buren was alternately called “Whiskey Van,” because he could hold his liquor, and “The American Talleyrand” (though Talleyrand was never known as the French Van Buren). We will not discuss Wobbly Wille Mckinely or Old Rough and Ready.
A good many former Presidents were known as “The” something–“The Napoleon of the Stump” (Polk); “The Sage of Wheatland” Buchanan); “The Square of Rancho del Cielo,” or “The Gipper,” in reference to his second most memorable movie role, or in reference to the first, “The Rest of Me.” New York Builder Donald Trump is called “The Donald.” It is too early to tell.
Jodie T Allen. “Trump’s Latest Chumps.” U.S. News & World Report 136.12 (2004): 35.
MONEY & BUSINESS/FUNNY MONEY
It’s hard to feel sorry for the creditors of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. True, they have been pressing the cash-strapped firm to do something about its near $2 billion in debt, even mumbling darkly about a trip to bankruptcy court. But on the theory that hurt me once shame on you, hurt me twice shame on me, the only fingers they can justly point are at themselves. After all, no one made them back that same “top drawer” entrepreneur who, in the 1990s, stiff-armed another bunch of billion-buck bondholders, while wiggling out of personal bankruptcy. Yes, we are talking about the Donald, the self-proclaimed Artist of the Deal, now at new heights of fame as the firer-in-chief on the TV hit The Apprentice and author of yet another bestselling book with the modest title How to Get Rich. Clearly, the backers of his ventures over the years didn’t read his books–or maybe they did.
“Don’t blame the Donald, blame his underwriters and bankers,” says Christopher Whalen, managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics, a financial research service. Whalen notes that Trump Hotels had to offer a sky-high 17.6 percent yield on its bond offering last March, a code-red warning for investors.
In the grand American tradition of buck-passing, Trump quite agrees that no fault should attach to him. “This has nothing to do with me,” he told the New York Times recently. Never mind that he is chairman and chief executive, holds 49 percent of the stock, and has garnered millions of dollars in management fees and perks from the company and its Atlantic City casino holdings, even as he has rebuilt his personal real-estate-based fortune to well over $1 billion, by his own count.
Outside investors in his gaming halls have not been so lucky. Trump took the Trump Taj Mahal and Trump Casino through bankruptcy in 1991 but persuaded bondholders–including some major institutional investors–to restake him. Starting in 1995, he melded his casino holdings into the publicly held Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. Wall Street pushed the stock above 35 in 1996, but by 1998 it had fallen into single digits as the profitless company struggled even to pay interest on its $1.8 billion debt, let alone make the investments needed to keep up with flashy new competitors like the Borgata.
“These money traps are no longer special, and the Donald is no longer a young bull,” says Whalen. But Trump, whose executive vice president, Scott Butera, stoutly denied on CNN last week that Trump Hotels is near bankruptcy, is mightily resisting any effort to push his gaming properties into receivership, thereby wiping out the value of his stock. Adhering to another hallowed American tradition, he is threatening creditors with protracted litigation that would further erode, if not obliterate, any remaining value in the properties.
[. . . .]