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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: PA
Member since: Wed May 11, 2005, 09:48 PM
Number of posts: 10,659

About Me

I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.

Journal Archives

Nobody, no company, no individual or nation state has ever been held to account.

If you’re not terrified about Facebook, you haven’t been paying attention
Facebook and America are now indivisible, says the Observer journalist who broke the Cambridge Analytica scandal – and the world is a sicker place for it


In Facebook’s case, the worst has already happened. We’ve just failed to acknowledge it. Failed to reckon with it. And there’s no vaccine coming to the rescue. In 2016 everything changed. As for 2020… well, we will see.

We have already been through the equivalent of a social media pandemic – an unstoppable contagion that has sickened our information space, infected our public discourse, silently and invisibly subverted our electoral systems. It’s no longer about if this will happen all over again. Of course, it will. It hasn’t stopped. The question is whether our political systems, society, democracy, will survive – can survive – the age of Facebook.

We are already through the looking glass. In 2016, a hostile foreign government used Facebook to systematically undermine and subvert an American election. With no consequences. Nobody, no company, no individual or nation state has ever been held to account.

Zuckerberg says Black Lives Matter and yet we know Donald Trump used Facebook’s tools to deliberately suppress and deny black and Latino people the vote. With no consequences.

And though we know the name “Cambridge Analytica” and were momentarily outraged by Facebook’s complicity in allowing 87 million people’s personal data to be stolen and repurposed including by the Trump campaign. A $5bn fine was paid but no individuals were held to account.

And that’s just in America. For us here in Britain, there’s an even bigger reckoning that has not come. If it wasn’t for Facebook, there would be no Brexit. The future of our country – our island nation with its 1,000 years of continuous history of which we’re so proud – has been set on its course by a foreign company that has proved itself to be beyond the rule of parliament.


Anyone who thinks Romney's an honorable repub better get straight

GOP coronavirus relief package to include Romney bill that would ‘fast-track Social Security and Medicare cuts’

Shortly after publicly ditching one attack on Social Security—the payroll tax cut—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed Thursday that the Republican coronavirus relief package will include legislation sponsored by Sen. Mitt Romney that one advocacy group described as an “equally menacing” threat to the New Deal program.

In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell touted Romney’s TRUST ACT as “a bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Senate Democrats, to help a future Congress evaluate bipartisan proposals for protecting and strengthening the programs that Americans count on.”

“In the midst of a catastrophic pandemic, they should be focused on protecting seniors, essential workers, and the unemployed. Instead, they are plotting to use the cover of the pandemic to slash Social Security.”
—Nancy Altman, Social Security Works

Ostensibly an effort to “rescue” America’s trust fund programs, Romney’s bill—first introduced last October with the backing of three Democratic senators—would initiate a secretive process that could result in cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits, a longtime objective of lawmakers like the Utah Republican.

Romney celebrated the inclusion of his bill Thursday and pointed to statements praising the legislation from a slew of right-wing advocacy groups, including the Koch-funded organization Americans for Prosperity.


Dr. Birx would roam the halls of the White House, sometimes passing out diagrams to bolster her case

Inside the Failure: 5 Takeaways on Trump’s Effort to Shift Responsibility
President Trump and his top aides sharply shifted their pandemic strategy in mid-April after seizing on optimistic data suggesting the virus would disappear, a Times investigation found.


Dr. Birx was more central than publicly known to the judgment inside the West Wing that the virus was under control and on a downward path.

But her model-based assessment of the outlook failed to account for a vital variable: how Mr. Trump’s rush to urge a return to normal would undercut the social distancing and other measures that were holding down the numbers.

During the morning meetings in Mr. Meadows’s office, Dr. Birx almost always delivered what the new team was hoping for: “All metros are stabilizing,” she would tell them, describing the virus as having hit its “peak” around mid-April. The New York area accounted for half of the total cases in the country, she said. The slope was heading in the right direction. “We’re behind the worst of it.”

During much of mid-April, Dr. Birx focused intensely on the experience that Italy had fighting the virus. In her view, it was a particularly positive comparison, telling colleagues that the United States was on the same trajectory as Italy, where there were huge spikes before infections and deaths flattened to close to zero.

Dr. Birx would roam the halls of the White House, sometimes passing out diagrams to bolster her case. “We’ve hit our peak,” she would say, and that message would find its way back to Mr. Trump.


"the logical conclusion of a lot of things the Republican Party has been doing" for decades

The Lincoln Project, the rogue former Republicans trying to take down Trump, explained
The Lincoln Project’s goal is to get Trump out of office. But some argue its members helped him get in.


But as historian Eric Foner argued in 2016, Trump can be seen as “the logical conclusion of a lot of things the Republican Party has been doing” for decades, with predecessors like Richard Nixon’s “law and order” presidential campaign, rife with racist implications, and populist appeal as a businessman railing against Washington corruption. To many liberals, Trump isn’t an aberration; he’s the culmination of a decades-long political project.

The Lincoln Project and its GOP exiles, writer Eric Higgins argued on July 12 in the newsletter Welcome to Hell World, are an example of a “memory hole” in action: Everything that happened before Trump (like the Iraq War or the existence of the Bush administration or the murder of Trayvon Martin) has been forgotten by liberals allying with the group and sharing their ads in service of getting Trump out of office.

The fact is that the coalition is made up of people who until very recently were happily ensconced in the GOP—meaning that it’s not the policies pursued and beliefs espoused by Trump that are the issue. It’s just his delivery. This is not an abstract issue. The president is part and parcel of the entire Republican project and its logical conclusion after five decades of cultivating an increasingly enraged white base filled with economic and cultural grievances for which the GOP has blamed on the uneven but inexorable march to greater equality in American society.


Higgins told me that the Lincoln Project’s ads were an appeal to liberals who believe that conservatives are their ideological opponents but not their enemies. “The commercials are part of a general effort by LP to present Trump as an aberration, a mistake, something out of the right-wing mainstream,” he said, “rather than the logical endpoint of the GOP and the direct ideological heir of the movement that began in earnest with Ronald Reagan.”

When I asked him about the ads themselves, he said, “Frankly all they do is make me angry by pretending there’s any major difference between Reagan [or] George W. Bush and Trump other than style.” He added, “I’m clearly not the target audience."


Andrew Weissmann: We Can Still Get the Truth From Roger Stone

We Can Still Get the Truth From Roger Stone
The Justice Department should vindicate the rule of law by putting him before a grand jury.
By Andrew Weissmann
Mr. Weissmann was a senior prosecutor in the Mueller investigation.
July 14, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET

Attorney General Bill Barr reportedly opposed President Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence for seven felonies — the latest act by this administration to undermine the rule of law. If Mr. Barr’s resistance is to be believed, the Department of Justice still has a path to vindicate the rule of law by putting Mr. Stone before a grand jury.

In November 2019, a federal jury unanimously found Mr. Stone guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt, of lying to Congress about the coordination between the Trump 2016 campaign, Mr. Stone, WikiLeaks and Russia. The seven counts included five of perjury and one count each of obstruction of Congress and tampering with a witness. Mr. Stone was sentenced to spend 40 months in prison until he got his reward for keeping his lips sealed.

This does not have to be the end of the story.

Prosecutors are well armed to get to the bottom of what Mr. Stone knows but has refused to disclose. If there was nothing nefarious about his coordination efforts, why did he lie about them to Congress? This question remains unanswered, as the Mueller report notes.

In spite of the president’s commutation, prosecutors can seek to discover the answer by calling Mr. Stone before a grand jury. Grand juries are used every day all across the country, at the federal and state levels, to investigate potential criminal matters.


Are Trump's coronavirus failures Ronald Reagan's fault?

Op-Ed: Are Trump’s coronavirus failures Ronald Reagan’s fault?

Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has been deeply flawed. The administration’s pandemic faults are vast and varied, and the president should be held accountable for them. But so should the Republican Party: In many ways, the author of the Trump administration’s COVID-19 fiasco is the man who remade the party in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan.

At every stage of the COVID-19 challenge, Trump has failed to mobilize the federal government effectively. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been ill-prepared or blocked from coordinating a national response that matches the crisis. Experts, especially scientists, have been sidelined. Despite Congress authorizing trillions in stimulus and relief aid, the actual management of those programs has been slipshod and haphazard. And the number of cases just keeps rising, ominously.

Trump’s lack of leadership reflects an agenda that takes its cues from an idealized President Reagan. From the start of his presidency, Reagan trumpeted a rejection of using government to help the country, to act as a partner in solving its problems. In his first inaugural address in 1981, Reagan declared, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” In his second term, during a news conference in August 1986, he phrased the issue in even starker terms: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Is it any surprise that, today, a Republican Party that is spiritual heir to Reagan would be ineffective in using a tool its most revered recent president disowned? “While the economic pain is nowhere close to ending,” reported the New York Times in May, “Republicans seem disinclined to renew huge spending programs, particularly as November looms.” Said top presidential advisor Stephen Moore: “All government can do right now is make things worse, not better.” Sound familiar?

In particular, Reagan’s legacy has hamstrung Republican support for a strong scientific response to COVID-19. Richard Nixon bonded the GOP with Southern conservatives in the late 1960s over race, then Reagan moved this alliance in a new direction by courting the often anti-science religious far right.


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