U.S. Sen. John Cornyn faces outcry from Democrats after questioning idea of systemic racism (June 17, 2020) U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has faced a barrage of criticism from Texas and national Democrats in recent days for his comments and questions about racism made during a hearing over how to overhaul the country’s criminal justice system in the wake of Minneapolis resident George Floyd’s death at the hands of police.
Sen. John Cornyn showed he has no idea what systemic racism is He’s the latest Republican to question the existence of system racism in policing. (June 16, 2020)
‘Nobody’s Beating You,’ Trump Assures John Cornyn Our state’s senior senator continues to hitch himself to Trump’s wagon, even as things get rocky. (November 8, 2019) “John Cornyn might as well fire his entourage of political consultants, advisors, and pollsters. President Donald Trump—the pollster of the people, the one who triumphed in the only poll that matters, Election Day—is confident the Texas senior senator’s political future is secure. “I looked at your polls. Nobody’s beating you, John. Nobody,” Trump assured Cornyn on Wednesday at a White House event celebrating his administration’s numerous federal judicial appointments. SEE ALSO.
Rubio, Cornyn Urge Sanctions for Human Rights Abuses in Vietnam (July 31, 2020) “We support the Administration’s vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, but the Vietnamese government’s unjust arrests and persecution of members of the pressand religious practitioners remains a challenge . . . . The only way to realize the full potential of the U.S.-Vietnam relationship is to press them to take serious steps to improve the human rights situation in Vietnam. . .” [sic]
Fighting for Attention: Democracy, Free Speech, and the Marketplace of Ideas The article suggests that the current marketplace of ideas leaves out a core concept that should inform First Amendment analysis. It mentions debates in campaign-finance law, comparing the Court’s treatment of expenditures under its traditional laissez-faire model. It also mentions Court’s existing “more speech” and “free trade” principles and explain how both public and private devices can interfere with free competition between ideas.
First In, First Out: Promises and Problems of Free Expression in Revolutionary and PostRevolutionary Governments “During these elections, Louis XVI took the surprising step of suspending censorship of publications, even allowing writings that criticized the monarchy. As a result of the king’s decision, France was deluged with pamphlets and newspapers calling for a social and economic overhaul of the entire country. This concept of a free press went against the historic limitations on spoken or printed words that defiled certain sacrosanct aspects of French life, particularly the Catholic clergy—who were seen as guardians of moral, honorable, and orderly living—and the monarchy, viewed as the supreme authority safeguarding this traditional way of life.”
A short compendium of articles/news/opinion aboutCornyn and/or trump, other campaign news
Beto O’Rourke calls Cornyn ’single greatest enabler of Donald Trump’ in the Senate as he pitches MJ Hegar. Cornyn accuses Democrats of trying to ’enrich the liberal mob,’ drawing rebuke from Hegar: ’It’s not a mob. It’s his constituents.’ Joining forces with MJ Hegar, Beto O’Rourke blasted Sen. John Cornyn Thursday night as “the single greatest enabler of Donald Trump in the U.S. Senate”— urging Texans to oust the three-term Republican to save the nation from a lawless and dangerous president.
John Cornyn’s ex-staffers lobbied for pharma giant accused of price-gouging COVID drugs “. . . Cornyn . . . later promoted remdesivir on his personal Twitter page three times. He has alsoaccepted tens of thousands of dollars in donations from Gileadand the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a lobbying group that had hired several of his former staff, as well as from a PhRMA lobbyist and the partner of his former chief of staff, less than a week after the CARES Act passed.”
Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’ “The president has repeatedly disparaged the intelligence of service members, and asked that wounded veterans be kept out of military parades, multiple sources tell The Atlantic.”
Cornyn-Hegar Race Could Influence How Military Handles Sexual Assault, Harassment “The people in the chain of command are … not necessarily the people who should be making decisions about whether or not there’s enough evidence to prosecute,” Hegar said.
Biden, in Kenosha, Makes Case for Healing and Unity, Not Division “Two days after President Trump traveled to Wisconsin to focus attention on violence and disorder, Joe Biden sought to strike a drastically different tone, repudiating the president’s divisive approach to matters of racial injustice.”
“As the White House dug in on plans to deploy federal agents to Portland and other U.S. cities, few of President Donald Trump’s allies in Texas rose to his defense amid a Democratic uproar over ‘secret police. . . . Sen. John Cornyn, who is seeking a fourth term in November, declined to comment on Trump’s actions.”
—Dallas Morning News, July 21, 2020 Dallas Morning News
“Sen. John Cornyn remains silent, just as he has on the president’s failure to stand up to the Russian bounty on American troops in Afghanistan, just as he has on defending the rule of law, just as he has on upholding his oath of office.”
—Thomas E. Turpin, Letter to the Editor, Dallas Morning News, July 25, 2020
“Congress shall make no law respecting . . . the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
—-Bill of Rights, United States Constitution
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” —-John Cornyn (2002, 2008, 2014)
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
___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 Journal91.1 (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 Washington Post
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’ Mondoweiss
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 Medium.com
[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
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.
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 & State63.8 (2010): 12-16.
In March, a Michigan multi-millionaire named Betsy Devosannounced 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 DeVoshas her way, every American could feel her reach: DeVos’ goalis 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. . . .
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 . . .
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.
Today is the day of giving thanks for Americans. I wonder if citizens of Ohio, and Michigan, and Wisconsin, and such places who are out of work, who live in modest homes and have little extra to be thankful for, are looking forward to the vast change that is about to overtake the country as the man in whom they have put their hopes takes charge.
I did a little research in academic databases for Donald J. Trump. I found many words of advice and encouragement from Mr. Trump that are especially appropriate for this day of gratitude and spiritual remembrance. Here are a few samples.
from: Punday, Daniel. “Kavalier & Clay, The Comic-Book Novel, and Authorship in a Corporate World.” Critique 49.3 (2008): 291-302.
Businessmen can be vengeful too. Donald Trump, in his recent book Think Big & Kick Ass (Trump and Zanker 2007) which teaches how to be successful in business and life beyond, devotes an entire chapter to the importance of revenge. Part of the message reflects repeated-game or reputation concerns, but part is clearly reflecting an innate joy of getting even. The following passage illustrates (p. 198):
Most business writers won’t be so blunt and honest
with you about getting even. They know it’s the truth,
but won’t tell you because they want people to think
of them as a “nice person.” I don’t like to mince
words. When you are wronged and do nothing about
it, you aren’t “nice” you’re a schmuck. That is why I
say when you are wronged, go after the those people,
because it’s a good feeling … I love i
from: Hirschman, Elizabeth C. “Secular Immortality and the American Ideology of Affluence.” Journal of Consumer Research 17.1 (1990): 31-42.
Entrepreneurial achievement is closely linked [to the] concept of achievement motivation, and indeed, most of the persons whose lives and possessions were documented . . . are culturally labeled as high achievers (e.g., Malcolm Forbes, Donald Trump). Because the ideology of affluence is constructed around the acquisition of money and material possessions, many of those whose achievements were documented in the texts examined have succeeded as business entrepreneurs and in other forms of capitalistic enterprise.
[. . . .] . . . the primary theme resulting . . . was an advocacy of entrepreneurial achievement. Entrepreneurial achievements were those in which the individual demonstrated personal efficacy in some secular realm. Entrepreneurial achievement is closely linked to [the] concept of achievement motivation, and . . . the ideology of affluence is constructed around the acquisition of money and material possessions, many of those whose achievements [we have] examined have succeeded as business entrepreneurs and in other forms of capitalistic enterprise.
[. . . .] Two best-selling autobiographies of current entrepreneurs similarly evoke the thesis that those who work hard and make successes of themselves deserve to be socially recognized (and materially enriched) for it. In keeping with Horatio Alger mythology, both Lee lacocca and Donald Trump present themselves as embodying the rags-to-riches tale. . . . Donald Trump represents himself as an entrepreneur in its purest form—an independent person who built “something from nothing.” Like many of the affluent entrepreneurs . . . Trump is fascinated with acquiring possessions that will be recognized as the biggest or the best of their genre. Trump had reserved a triplex apartment on the top of Trump Tower for himself and his family, but after visiting a nearby apartment owned by Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi, he decided his was not large enough. “Why shouldn’t I have exactly the apartment I wanted—particularly when I built the whole building? I decided to take over one of the other apartments on the top three floors and combine it with mine. It has taken almost two years to renovate, but I don’t think there is any apartment in the world that can touch it” (Trump 1987, p. 187). Just as importantly, Trump Tower made him a social celebrity: “Trump Tower was an unqualified success. It has given me visibility, credibility, and prestige” (1987, p. 191).
[. . . .] Trump also views himself as an heir. His father was already a locally prominent real estate entrepreneur when Donald began his real estate career in Manhattan. However, Trump was determined, and has succeeded, in enlarging the family legacy to international proportions. He clearly views himself as establishing a dynasty, has constructed several family monuments (e.g.. Trump Tower), has acquired a family estate (Mar-a-lago), and has begun to structure the possessions he intends to leave his children. One passage in his 1987 autobiography notes that a clause in his will gives his children control over the construction of future Hyatt Hotels in the New York City area.
[. . . .] It is probably not surprising that an ideology celebrating the acquisition of wealth and possessions primarily seeks immortality through material means. What is puzzling is that social scientists in general and consumer researchers in particular have been reluctant to recognize this as a central motivation driving exceptional personal achievement and the oft-resulting accumulation of wealth and possessions. Although some criticize secular monuments as idols of materialism [we have found] little evidence that the possessions acquired by the affluent as a result of their secular achievements represented . . . “terminal materialism.” Terminal materialism is “a habit of consumption [that] can become an end in itself, feeding on its autonomous necessity to possess more things, to control more status, to use more energy.” However . . . media such as magazines directed to the affluent tend to put a gloss on the rich, rarely citing their failings or character flaws. Hence, we must look elsewhere to find evidence of terminal materialism among the affluent.