Were you anxiously awaiting Dr Oz’s assessment of Trump’s health?

I wasn’t. Don’t really care. Knew it was going to be a couple of frauds slapping each others’ backs. Didn’t watch it, and am not going to. Fortunately, Orac suffered for us, and delivers a surprising review: it was exactly as I expected, but in addition, it was boring.

But yeah, it was nothing but a Trump commercial.

Basically, Dr. Oz is every bit as much of a carnival barker as Donald Trump is, and in this instance he helped Trump not only brag about his own health but to insinuate that Clinton is not healthy enough to be President while also allowing Ivanka Trump to air what was basically a campaign commercial for Trump’s childcare proposal. The two were clearly made for each other. It was placebo transparency, making a mockery of transparency norms.

“geyser of mendacious vomit”

Remember “journalism”? I have this vague recollection from the distant past that it was an occupation with standards and a noble calling, but I may have been confusing reality with Spencer Tracy and Kate Hepburn movies. Unfortunately, right now television newscasting (and the New York Times) is doing it’s best to flush what reputation it had down the sewer, and is doing so at the worst possible time.

At least we’ve still got Samantha Bee and a few print journalists doing their best to do what journalists are supposed to do.

I bet there’s a book somewhere that discusses the corrupting influence of television “news” and the crappy 24 hour “news” shows on good journalism.

Twenty questions, twenty answers

Sciencedebate.org sent all the presidential candidates a list of 20 questions about science policy, and most of them have sent in their answers. Gary Johnson didn’t bother. Jill Stein did, but I admit, I didn’t bother reading her answers; I have no intention of voting for her, so I don’t really care, although she did seem to take the questions seriously and had some lengthy answers. I skimmed Trump’s answers (it was easy; they’re short) mainly as a point of comparison with Clinton’s.

Hillary Clinton gives substantial answers to every questions. Sometimes they aren’t very specific, but even there she hints at positive attitudes. For instance, the question on scientific integrity isn’t very good — of course every candidate supports scientific integrity, or at least says so! — and Clinton doesn’t hit on any specific points, but does say she supports “public access to research results and other scientific information”, which is a good thing. But on the question of immigration, she immediately proposes specific bills to assist qualified people in the tech sector. On climate change, she’s going to set ambitious goals.

Generally, my impression was that she (and her staff) made a serious stab at explaining her policy, with enough details that it’s clear she really has plans. This is what I want from a serious candidate.

Trump, on the other hand, had nothing. He’d too frequently wave his hands (his tiny, tiny hands) at “market solutions” providing the answer to everything. He dismissed serious issues: his reply to the question about climate change begins, There is still much that needs to be investigated in the field of “climate change.” Yes, he actually put it in scare quotes. Fuck him.

OK, I decided I wasn’t being fair to Stein, who put almost as much effort into her answers as Clinton did — I can definitely say she’d be a better candidate than Trump. So I looked at some of her longer answers. She lost me with her strategy for protecting biodiversity: Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on new GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.. Nope. Sorry. Does she even realize that GMOs are a fantastic tool for reducing reliance on pesticides?

I would approve of CNN firing all their reporters and replacing them with Jay Smooth

Also, the NY Times.

Jay is going to be stretched awfully thin trying to cover everything. Maybe they can also hire Roy Edroso and Heather Parton and Peter Daou and Charles Pierce and god just about anyone other than the mewling mob of sycophants and know-nothings and febrile desperate panderers they’ve all got in the media nowadays. Are they every one diving to join Breitbart in the flaming dumpster of irresponsibility or something?

I’m with Mano on this one. I am sick of this election, and I am particularly sick of our gutless, spineless, brainless media. They are jellyfish. Except jellyfish have a nerve net and maybe a tiny bit of self-respect.

Trump’s “charities”

You have got to read this investigation into the Trump Foundation. It’s a great big scam. Trump has not built up an endowment, he has no employees, and all he does is beg his cronies to put money into it that he can dole out to generate the appearance that he does charitable giving…or worse, that he can use to buy himself extravagant gifts. If there is going to be any criminal investigation of a political candidate, he ought to be the target.

The Donald J. Trump Foundation is not like other charities. An investigation of the foundation — including examinations of 17 years of tax filings and interviews with more than 200 individuals or groups listed as donors or beneficiaries — found that it collects and spends money in a very unusual manner.

For one thing, nearly all of its money comes from people other than Trump. In tax records, the last gift from Trump was in 2008. Since then, all of the donations have been other people’s money — an arrangement that experts say is almost unheard of for a family foundation.

Trump then takes that money and generally does with it as he pleases. In many cases, he passes it on to other charities, which often are under the impression that it is Trump’s own money.

But, you know, I read the whole thing as an indictment of Trump’s venality and corruption, and I realized that he is so corrupt that he probably reads it as praise for his great business sense. Except for one paragraph. I bet this is the one thing that will burn.

The most money it has ever reported having was $3.2 million at the end of 2009. At last count, that total had shrunk to $1.3 million. By comparison, Oprah Winfrey — who is worth $1.5 billion less than Trump, according to a Forbes magazine estimate — has a foundation with $242 million in the bank. At the end of 2014, the Clinton Foundation had $440 million in assets.

The worst thing you can say to Donald Trump: he’s small, cheap, and poor.

If you don’t believe me, here’s Donald Trump on 11 September 2001.

Only parenthetically in the middle of the 10-minute conversation did Trump turn to a favorite topic-size. 40 Wall Street, he said, referring to his 71-story building blocks away from the now-collapsed twin towers, actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was actually, before the World Trade Center, was the tallest-and then, when they built the World Trade Center, it became known as the second-tallest. And now it’s the tallest.

There weren’t any videos of Muslims celebrating the fall of the twin towers, but there was one orange capitalist barely containing his glee at a rival building getting knocked down.

Smells like…VICTORY.

The United States Department of Justice has issued a statement on the protests at Standing Rock.

Joint Statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior Regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior issued the following statement regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

“We appreciate the District Court’s opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act. However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain. Therefore, the Department of the Army, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior will take the following steps.

The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws. Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time. The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution. In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.

“Furthermore, this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects. Therefore, this fall, we will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on two questions: (1) within the existing statutory framework, what should the federal government do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights; and (2) should new legislation be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals.

“Finally, we fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely. We urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence. Of course, anyone who commits violent or destructive acts may face criminal sanctions from federal, tribal, state, or local authorities. The Departments of Justice and the Interior will continue to deploy resources to North Dakota to help state, local, and tribal authorities, and the communities they serve, better communicate, defuse tensions, support peaceful protest, and maintain public safety.

“In recent days, we have seen thousands of demonstrators come together peacefully, with support from scores of sovereign tribal governments, to exercise their First Amendment rights and to voice heartfelt concerns about the environment and historic, sacred sites. It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.”

This will not be the revolution I wanted

For-profit universities are a pox on the world — these are institutions that take advantage of the ambitious poor, people with aspirations who are trying to get an education, and who believe the lies of the promoters. And these things really are run by capitalists who consider quality last and getting paying bodies in to the often virtual door first.

Laureate Universities are part of the exploitive system, although, to be fair, everyone says “it is not considered among the worst offenders in the for-profit college industry”. Isn’t that reassuring? They also invest a smaller proportion of their revenues on marketing and advertising than Harvard, and their president gets paid less than the head football coach at Notre Dame, facts that are apparently supposed to make us feel better about Laureate but actually leave me disgusted with the priorities of most universities.

Now I learn that Bill Clinton was the honorary chancellor of Laureate Universities. “Honorary” meaning he was not expected to do any real work, but was just endorsing the place and allowing them to slap his face on all their advertising, but he was apparently expecting to get paid. And he did.

Clinton was paid $18 million over 5 years for a few token appearances in promotional visits and brochures.

Eighteen fucking million dollars. $18,000,000. $3.6 million per year. For an honorary position. He got paid as much as 240 minimum wage workers, and didn’t do as much work for it as one malingerer. He did use his influence with the Secretary of State to get Laureate invited to a higher ed policy dinner, though, and seeing the face of the former President of the United States on the advertising probably fooled a lot of rubes into thinking that Laureate was legit, so in a sense he did earn his payola.

But it’s yet another sign of venality and corruption at the highest levels of government, and tells me that, in spite of the mild praise padding every article about them, Laureate is just another well-heeled con job.

I know. Trump University was a worse scandal. That was a cheesy, cheaply gilded “educational” scam befitting a low-rent no-class thug like Donald Trump. Laureate University a tasteful, solid-gold, up-scale scam, which makes it…better?

So once again, another election year, and there’s absolutely no question who I have to vote for in November — there is no question that Donald Trump is a ghastly fascist/racist demagogue and goon, and that we can’t allow the Republican party to hold any power at all. But jebus, why do both candidates have to be so sleazy and unappealing?

Phyllis Schlafly is dead

They say if you can’t say something nice about the dead, you should say nothing at all.























































































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That’s quite the dog whistle

Donald Trump is getting more subtle in his racism. He said this recently:

We’ve admitted 59 million immigrants to the United States between 1965 and 2015. Many of these arrivals have greatly enriched our country. So true. But we now have an obligation to them and to their children to control future immigration as we are following, if you think, previous immigration waves…
To keep immigration levels measured by population share within historical norms. To select immigrants based on their likelihood of success in U.S. society and their ability to be financially self-sufficient.

As Eric Schmeltzer points out, “1965” is a dogwhistle to the racists. That’s the year, to their horror, that a law established during the height of the eugenics fervor, prior to WWII, was gutted by congress.

In 1965, we passed the Immigration and Nationality Act. That law essentially repealed the crux of a 1920s law called the Emergency Quota Act.

The Emergency Quota Act (and a 1924 bill that slightly amended it) set quotas on immigration that were based on the number of people of a nationality currently in a country. The effect and intent of the law was abundantly clear. America was mostly white and European, and the law was going to keep it that way, by putting low and hard caps on “others,” while opening the doors to more white Europeans.

I cannot emphasize enough how vile the 1924 act was — it was patently, unashamedly, blatantly racist. Rather than admitting new immigrants on the basis of need or ability, it made the primary criterion for limiting immigration the color of their skin and ethnicity of origin. It enshrined the bigotry of a small group of influential, educated white men, in particular a few Harvard-educated Anglo-Saxon elites, into the law of the land. As Gould summarized it in The Mismeasure of Man:

Congressional debates leading to passage of the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924 frequently invoked the army data [misleading data from IQ tests]. Eugenicists lobbied not only for limits to immigration, but for changing its character by imposing harsh quotas against nations of inferior stock—a feature of the 1924 act that might never have been implemented, or even considered, without the army data and eugenicist propaganda. In short, southern and eastern Europeans, the Alpine and Mediterranean nations with minimal scores on the army tests, should be kept out. The eugenicists battled and won one of the greatest victories of scientific racism in American history. The first restriction act of 1921 had set yearly quotas at 3 percent of immigrants from any nation then resident in America. The 1924 act, following a barrage of eugenicist propaganda, reset the quotas at 2 percent of people from each nation recorded in the 1890 census. The 1890 figures were used until 1930. Why 1890 and not 1920 since the act was passed in 1924? 1890 marked a watershed in the history of immigration. Southern and eastern Europeans arrived in relatively small numbers before then, but began to predominate thereafter. Cynical, but effective. “America must be kept American,” proclaimed Calvin Coolidge as he signed the bill.

They were cunning. Rather than openly and explicitly shutting down the immigration of swarthy Italians and Greeks and Lebanese, or worst of all, the dusky inhabitants of the Dark Continent by name, which would have been a little too on-the-nose, they used a call to “historical norms” and declared the noble cause of American purity, which everyone knew meant keeping America white. Those brown people, obviously, are not truly American.

That’s what Donald Trump is signing on to now. He is tapping directly into nativist bigotry in a way that’s not obvious to people outside racist circles. These ideas have consequences — dreadful, fatal, corrupting consequences — and we’ve got a media that’s oblivious to what is going on, and a significant sub-population that does understand what he’s saying, and is cheering it on. Take it away again, Steve Gould:

The quotas stood, and slowed immigration from southern and eastern Europe to a trickle. Throughout the 1930s, Jewish refugees, anticipating the holocaust, sought to emigrate, but were not admitted. The legal quotas, and continuing eugenical propaganda, barred them even in years when inflated quotas for western and northern European nations were not filled. Chase (1977) has estimated that the quotas barred up to 6 million southern, central, and eastern Europeans between 1924 and the outbreak of World War II (assuming that immigration had continued at its pre-1924 rate). We know what happened to many who wished to leave but had nowhere to go. The paths to destruction are often indirect, but ideas can be agents as sure as guns and bombs.

The Golden Door is being slammed shut, and the lamp is going dark.