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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Momentum for Hillary Clinton - Hofstra presidential debate

Kudos to who ever brought the first Presidential debate 2016 to Hofstra University in New York City's Long Island. Apparently, the venue enhanced Hillary Clinton and her credibility as a confident candidate. She was right at home at Hofstra and her confidence showed.

Secretary Clinton was confident post the Hofstra University debate appeared smiling as she bounced on to a stage in Raliegh, North Carolina.

Nevertheless, Mrs. Clinton still has hard political work ahead, especially given how Donald Trump and his "stormtrooper" followers lurk around to pounce on her, at every opportunity, real or invented. Shame on former New York City Mayor Rudoph Guiliani for his clone following of the inept Donald Trump. Guiliani lurks around Trump, like a ghoul at a wake.

Proving how political time is measured minute by hour, it was only last week (ancient political history) when Democrats could hardly hide their neurosis about tightening poll numbers and the pressure on Hillary Clinton to regain her footing in the first debate against Donald J. Trump on Monday. 

On Tuesday, we thankfully breathed a sigh of relief, at least for now.

Mrs. Clinton did not deliver a fatal blow or reconnect to voters in a way that will drastically alter the contours of an unpredictable election year, but she avoided the land mines that Mr. Trump had so effectively planted against his Republican primary opponents.

“I was surprised he wasn’t more aggressive on her, whether it was the emails or the foundation,” said Steve Elmendorf, a veteran Democratic strategist and lobbyist.

After a couple of rocky weeks, Mrs. Clinton greeted reporters on Tuesday morning with a fresh dose of confidence. 

“We had a great, great time last night,” she said, and then quoted the baseball legend Ernie Banks, “Let’s play two.”

In an interview on ABC’s “The View” on Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said, “I don’t want to just win by a little, I want to win by a lot.”

Democratic allies echoed that optimism, but were also cleareyed about the topsy-turvy election year. The debate “gave everyone a big vote of confidence,” said Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio.

“America got the chance to see the Hillary I’ve known for a long time,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. “She was smart, strong and presidential.”

But there was also a sense that the feeling could be fleeting. 

After all, the solid bump Mrs. Clinton received after the Democratic National Convention in July evaporated after she emerged from an August packed with private fund-raisers. 

By September, national polling averages showed a marked narrowing of the race.

In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted this month, 46 percent of likely voters said they supported Mrs. Clinton, compared with 44 percent for Mr. Trump, down from her seven-point advantage at the end of July.

Even Mrs. Clinton, who often says she always expected the race to be close, has appeared confounded by the tight polls.

“Why aren’t I 50 points ahead?” an animated Mrs. Clinton asked last week in a video address to the Laborers’ International Union of North America meeting in Las Vegas.

In an online advertisement, the Trump campaign sought to answer that question. “Maybe it’s because you arrogantly call Americans ‘deplorable,’” a man’s voice says in the ad after Mrs. Clinton is shown questioning the tight polls. (In my blog opinion, Trump supporters are supportive of his "deplorable" policies.)

Against that backdrop, her campaign aides and allies, who typically play down the significance of any single debate, made clear the stakes of Monday’s match, held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

“Questions don’t throw her, and Clinton is relatively deft at landing the surgical strike,” Jennifer Palmieri, a spokeswoman for the Clinton campaign, said before the debate. “That’s when you see her at her best.”

Mrs. Clinton landed some surgical strikes, but aides pointed to a couple of moments, in particular, that they hope to push through Election Day to portray Mr. Trump as a cold businessman who has fleeced average Americans.

Democrats cheered when Mrs. Clinton accused Mr. Trump of not paying federal income taxes and he replied, playing into their hands, “That makes me smart.” And they could hardly believe their good fortune when Mr. Trump said, “That’s called business, by the way,” after Mrs. Clinton accused him of profiting from the housing crisis.

Mrs. Clinton has struggled to win over white working-class voters, and was quick to use Mr. Trump’s remarks as a potent attack on the campaign trail on Tuesday.

“The other thing he admitted last night is that he actually rooted for the housing crisis to happen,” she told a crowd in Raleigh, N.C. “What kind of person would like to root for nine million families losing their homes? One who should never be president.”

On Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton encouraged people in Ohio to register to vote. Mr. Trump leads Mrs. Clinton there by five percentage points, according to a Bloomberg politics poll.

Democrats planned to blast out Mr. Trump’s debate remarks to union workers in a last-ditch effort to soften his support.

“All our guys in Youngstown and Akron pay their fair share of taxes,” Mr. Ryan said, alluding to Mr. Trump. “He clearly only has his own social class in mind.”

In addition to white working-class voters, Mrs. Clinton tried to target several other demographic groups on Monday night.

To reach young voters, she talked about climate change and her plan to make college free. To connect with African-Americans, she offered an emotional defense of President Obama against what she called Mr. Trump’s “racist birther lie.” And to reassure female voters, she ended the evening portraying Mr. Trump as a misogynist.

“I think to the extent that either candidate reached beyond their base, it was Hillary Clinton,” said Joel Benenson, the campaign’s chief strategist and pollster.

Mr. Trump helped the Clinton campaign’s targeting efforts on Tuesday when he acknowledged pressuring a Miss Universe winner, Alicia Machado, (a magnificent beauty by anybody's standards) to lose weight, an attack Mrs. Clinton lodged in the memorable closing minutes of the debate.
Image result for Alicia Machado
Miss Universe 1996 Alicia Machado is a stunning beauty.

“She gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem,” Mr. Trump told Fox News. (Hello? Who cares?)

“It should have been, ‘Cleanup in Aisle 6,’” Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, said of Mr. Trump’s remarks, “and instead he knocked four or five more bottles off the shelf.”

Donald Trump reiterated criticism of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado Tuesday, the morning after Hillary Clinton called him out for it on the presidential debate stage at Hofstra.

Machado came up during Monday night's debate between Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, and Clinton, his Democratic challenger. In one of Clinton's final comments, she accused Trump of being sexist and used an anecdote from Machado as evidence.

"And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest," Clinton said, according to The Washington Post's annotated transcript. ". . . And he called this woman 'Miss Piggy.' Then he called her 'Miss Housekeeping' because she was Latina . . . Her name is Alicia Machado. And she has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet she's going to vote this November."

Even with a newfound spring in their step, Democrats say that Mr. Trump has repeatedly proven his ability to bounce back and that the solid reviews for Mrs. Clinton’s debate performance may do more to improve perceptions about her candidacy than actual poll numbers.

“I definitely think confidence is a bad idea,” Senator McCaskill said.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Trump and Miss Universe

Hillary Clinton won the debate at Hofstra Univesity in New York

Donald Trump's debate undermined his narrative. Indeed, Trump acted like the angry leader of an orchestra or as though he were swatting away a nasty fact, he was an angry white male.

Miss Universe certainly has something to say to Donald Trump!
Image result
Beautiful Alicia Machado was insulted by Donald Trump

Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe who was insulted by Donald Trump for gaining weight, has emerged after Monday's debate as a high-profile Hillary Clinton backer.

Clinton's campaign arranged a press call on Tuesday in a bid to needle Trump, who acknowledged Tuesday morning he was rattled when Clinton referenced Machado at the presidential debate at Hofstra University, in New York.

Shamed and Angry: Alicia Machado, a Miss Universe Mocked by Donald Trump

In fact, the morning after his first debate with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump complained Tuesday of “hostile questions” from the moderator and conceded that Clinton rattled him by bringing up his past remarks about the weight of a Miss Universe contestant.

The Republican presidential nominee said the moderator, NBC anchor Lester Holt, leaned left in his questions. 

Specifically, he cited questions about Trump’s record of challenging whether President Obama was born in America, (aka "birtherism") housing discrimination suits filed against Trump by the Justice Department, and his refusal to release his tax returns.

“Those questions aren’t answerable in a positive light,” Trump told Fox News in a telephone interview Tuesday morning. (Hello?)

Right after Jeb Bush dropped out of the race for president in 2016, Mr. Trump held a news conference at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., where he talked about the “two Donald Trumps.”

But those of us who followed him closely — know how Donald trump can be prickly and thin-skinned, casually cruel and dismissive. He can be boisterous and rowdy, but sometimes even fun and energetic. 

Moreover, like Nazi beer hall rallies, he has amassed thousands in arenas to a frenzy with his words, then days later delivered a speech directly from a teleprompter. He can appear to be compassionate and gentle in one moment, then insult Hispanics and denegrate women the next.

The Donald J. Trump on display during the debate Monday night was one we rarely glimpse.

If “Trump the Candidate” is often an outsize caricature of Donald J. Trump, the New York businessman, then “Trump the Debater” was the opposite of outsize: a subdued, scowling titan, stuffed into a black suit, straining at the seams as the debate at Hofstra University wore on.

“He will either be really good or really terrible,” one Trump confidant told me just hours before Monday’s debate. Like others in Mr. Trump’s orbit, this adviser could not predict what would come of the candidate’s lackadaisical preparation for what may prove to be the most important 90 minutes in his public life.

In the end, he was neither.

The answer to the core questions — could Mr. Trump comport himself as disciplined “Teleprompter Trump” without the aid of actual teleprompters, and could he appear plausibly presidential opposite Hillary Clinton — came early in the debate. And the answer, at least for the first portion of the debate, was yes.

By the standards Mr. Trump, his team and we in the news media seemed to have set for the Republican nominee, Mr. Trump cleared the bar. He stayed more or less in control, never directly insulted Mrs. Clinton and did not create new controversies over policy.

Nevertheless, for those who spent hours following Mr. Trump from state to state and rally to rally, he seemed a shadow of his campaign trail self. (In my opinion, Donald Trump is experiencing candidate fatigue...he has no credible surrogates to carry his message.)

He mentioned jobs fleeing south to Mexico in his third sentence (including one in which he thanked the debate moderator), but was largely restrained and even dour during the first 20 minutes of his face-off with Mrs. Clinton. He narrowed his eyes and seemed to glower at his rival, but he made a point, at first, of calling her “Secretary Clinton” (not his preferred moniker, “Crooked Hillary”).

Gone were the exaggerated gestures we Trump-watchers have seen on the campaign trail and in the early primary debates. There, Mr. Trump raises a lone index finger; he pinches together forefinger and thumb; and he unleashes a quick, openhanded karate-chop, like a conductor of an angry orchestra or a man swatting away a wasp.

But on the debate stage, he leaned heavily into his lectern, gripping the sides with both hands, as if his bulk could help gird against a moderator gently guiding him back to the questions at hand and a nimble if dispassionate rival. It was a telltale sign of exertion, of a man leaking energy rather than gaining it from the thrum of his cheering crowds.

After all, Mr. Trump is the consummate "you're fired!" salesman, always marketing, wooing and cajoling in an effort to win over his immediate crowd. At rallies, even when reading his cues, he often circles back on a line, or repeats a phrase or question for emphasis, just to engage the hall and get people roaring, like they're at a beer hall rally.

His supporters come primed for call and response, knowing when to shout “Trump! Trump! Trump!” (to drown out a protester) (like gorillas in a zoo!) and what the appropriate answer is to his inevitable question of who is going to pay for the anti-immigraiton wall (“Mexico!”).

But the audience at Hofstra had been instructed several times not to applaud, and they largely obeyed. When they did, it was generally for Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump seemed to miss the instant gratification, and flagged at times without the affirmation he craves.

He first hit his stride roughly 20 minutes in, when he went after Mrs. Clinton over a frequent target of his candidacy, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and grew more confident and animated, pointing and talking over his opponent. Later, he again gained momentum when he attacked Mrs. Clinton for deleting 33,000 emails as secretary of state — finally drawing audience applause.

As the debate wore on, Mr. Trump seemed to allow his irrepressible self — his politically incorrect id familiar to voters and those of us who cover him — to break through.

He spoke of being “underleveraged,” and interjected “that’s called business, by the way” when Mrs. Clinton accused him of rooting for the housing crisis back in 2006.

He used the presidential forum to plug his new hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington — a routine campaign publicity stunt.

Turning to Charlotte, N.C., a city roiled by violence and protests after the fatal police shooting of a black man, Mr. Trump couldn’t help but return to his own business interests, calling it “a city I love, a city where I have investments.” And talking about gun violence in Chicago, he took care to mention that he has property there, as well.

He could not restrain himself from making a joke about a hypothetical fat person, saying that the recent spate of political email hacks could have just as easily been perpetrated by the Russians as by “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, O.K.?”

And as the debate progressed, he began interrupting — more than two dozen times in all — talking over Mrs. Clinton when he had what he felt was a better point to make, or to call her assertions “wrong, wrong.”

By the end, he questioned her stamina — enunciating each word, in a campaign trail favorite — and alluded to her husband’s infidelities, by talking about how he wasn’t going to talk about them.

That is the Mr. Trump the reporters covering him know, the one who skates dangerously close to the line — of sexism, of incivility, of boorishness — and then barrels gleefully over it. 

(I must admit, Hillary Clinton was prepared for the potential of hearing these slanders and it's my opinion that Donald Trump was, indeed, fearful of what she prepared for her response.)

In the “spin room” after the debate, Mr. Trump, who often blames his campaign shortcomings on others, including the “dishonest” media “scum,” returned again to his comfort zone, wondering aloud if he may have been intentionally given a “defective” microphone.

In the end, his debate performance did not quite live up to his bluster and braggadocio (although he did once use the word “braggadocious,” referring to his business acumen).

He did not necessarily win, he did not necessarily lose.

Among some of us who cover him, there was an early debate about whether Mr. Trump was saying “bigly”or “big league” when he described something huge — a phrase he even used during the debate to refer to the impact of his tax cuts as president.

But as reviews came in after the debate, it seemed clear that Mr. Trump’s performance was neither “bigly” nor big league.

In fact, he lost the debate at Hofstra, he was knocked off his equilibrium by the mention of Alicia Machado and he was totally unprepared to respond to Hillary Clinton's prepared presentation. Donald Trump is unqualified to be the leader of the free world.

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Debates NIX Trump's PIX

Secretary Clinton's debate demeanor was pretty, bright, smart, accurate, smiling, and lovely.
On the other hand, Trump was grumpy and unprepared.
PIX tell the tale of the NIXed Trump performance

(Variety headline clairvoyance- July 17, 1935)

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during their presidential debate on September 26, 2016 (CNN screenshot)TOPSHOT-US-VOTE-DEBATE-PREPARATIONS

Body language nixed Trump in the 
September 26th debate 2016!

Clinton was head and shoulders better than Trump. She was, unsurprisingly, very well prepared — using a slew of facts and figures to not only make her positive case but also to slam Trump. She was terrific in bashing Trump on taxes. Her response to Trump's attack on her temperament — the shoulder shimmy! — was effective. Her birtherism response — while low-hanging fruit.

Whoever made the call at networks to keep Trump and Clinton on screen at all times during the debates did a good job! Debates are aimed at revealing not only policy proposals but also personality and temperament. Split screens help illuminate who these people are when under duress and attack, when they are nervous and when they feel backed into a corner. Trump didn't fare as well as Clinton with the split screen. He sighed, made faces and looked, well, not very presidential.

Trump just wasn't prepared well enough for this debate. 
(Blame here goes to Kellyanne Conway and his personal trainer "Chumlie- Bannon").

Regularly, Trump struggled to deal with questions he had to know were coming. His answer on his five-year quest to show that President Obama was not born in this country was like watching a car accident in slow motion. His answer on why he wasn't willing to release his tax returns wasn't much better. 

Moreover, Trump's explanation of his position on the Iraq War not only ran counter to the facts but made very little sense. On temperament, perhaps the key to Trump's chances of beating Clinton, he resorted to insisting he had one of the best temperaments and that Clinton had come unhinged in a speech over the weekend. (Sidebar: If you have to say you have one of the best temperaments, you probably don't.) 

Let's say right off the bat that what Howard Dean, a former presidential candidate and governor of Vermont (and a physician), suggested is totally and completely unsubstantiated. Donald Trump says he doesn't even drink alcohol, and no journalist has ever found evidence otherwise.

But from the moment Trump took the stage for the first presidential debate, viewers couldn't help but notice something: He was sniffly. In fact, The Post's Gillian Brockell counted Trump sniffed at least 27 -- wait, 28 -- times since the debate began 90 minutes ago. (And that tally will likely go up by the end of the debate. We will update.)  On twitter, this "Trump tic" developed a hashtag #Pinocchio_blow_your_nose.  Nevertheless, there must be a physiological reason why Donald Trump is unable to overcome this irritating public speaking tic.

Although the October 26, Presidential debate was focused on substance, the use of the split screen coupled with Donald Trump's irritating grimaces and sniffles, countered the content and distracted from the issues.  

Clearly, the pretty lady, smiling, highly prepared Secretary Hillary Clinton won the first Presidential debate, proving she is qualified by leadership, education, experience and temperament to be elected leader of the free world. 

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Russia huggger Donald Trump has too many Putin connections

Americans who support Donald Trump can't ignore the candidate's many nefarious ties to Russia coupled with his praise for the US antogonist and serial assassin Vladimir Putin.  Any American who supports Donald Trump must ask how they can vote for a candidate with so many ties to Russia?

Donald Trump continues to praise Vladimir Putin.

Donald Trump has delusional ideation about how he and Putin can solve the myriad of problems in the Syrian civil war and refugee tragedies.  
A child walks past a graffiti depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on the walls of a bar in the old town in Vilnius, Lithuania, May 14, 2016. (Photo by Mindaugas Kulbis/AP)
Putin hugger "Trump loves Putin" poster: Americans can't elect a leader who is engaged in a love fest with serial assassin and Russian President Vladimir Putin

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, was clearly tied to supporting Russian interests in the Ukraine. In fact, a secret ledger in the Ukraine listed cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief. When Donald Trump’s presidential campaign parted ways with campaign chairman Paul Manafort, there was no real mystery surrounding the shake-up. Manafort’s connections to pro-Putin forces made his position untenable.

September 26, 2016- and on the day of the first 2016 presidential debate there is yet another questionable Russian tie to Donald Trump's campaign.

The Hill reports:
Trump aide departs amid scrutiny of Russia ties
A foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump says he is leaving the Republican nominee's presidential campaign amid reports that U.S. intelligence officials are examining his ties to Russia.

Carter Page is an investment banker who previously worked at Merrill Lynch’s Moscow branch and now has extensive business ties with Russia.
Carter Page is leaving the Trump campaign- ties to Russia

"Where there's smoke, there's fire", says Maine Writer

The foreign policy adviser at the center of the storm over accusations that the Donald Trump campaign has secret ties to the Russian government has decided to publicly fight back. He denies meeting with sanctioned Russian officials during a recent trip to Moscow. In a long interview, Carter Page also told me he is taking a leave of absence from his work with the Trump campaign due to the controversy. “All of these accusations are just complete garbage,” Page said about attacks on him by top officials in the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and unnamed intelligence officials, who have suggested that on a July trip to Moscow, Page met with “highly-sanctioned individuals” and perhaps even discussed an unholy alliance between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Last month, Reid wrote to FBI Director James B. Comey asking him to initiate an investigation into Page’s Moscow visit, where Page gave a speech at the graduation ceremony of the New Economic School. 

Without naming Page, Reid said the FBI should investigate his meetings as part of the larger look into whether the Trump campaign was conspiring with the Russian government to tamper with the U.S. presidential election.

Citing “a well-placed Western intelligence source,” Yahoo news last week reported that the U.S. government had received intelligence reports that Page met with Igor Sechin, a friend of Vladimir Putin who runs Russian oil giant Rosneft, and Igor Diveykin, a high–ranking Russian intelligence official. The article floated accusations that Page had conducted “talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president.” Various other reports have alleged Page met with Sergei Ivanov, who until recently was the chief of Putin’s presidential administration.

“All the ones that are mentioned in the various articles, I didn’t meet with any of those guys,” Page told me in his first public comments on the accusations. “It’s completely false and inconceivable that someone would even accuse me of that.”

Page said that as part of the school’s graduation program, he did briefly meet and shake hands with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who was also a speaker at the graduation event. That meeting was an exchange of pleasantries, he said.

In his speech and in his personal interactions, Page said he made clear that he was acting in his personal capacity and not as a member of the Trump campaign. He also said he made that clear to senior Trump campaign staff at the time, who he said approved his trip in advance with the understanding no campaign issues would be discussed. (Well, campaign issues discussed at formal meetings! But what about what's said in private?)

Donald Trump has too many ties to Russia. 
Americans can't trust him and we can't elect a "Putin hugger" to be the the leader of the free world.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Kellyanne Conway for Trump says media should not fact check

Kellyanne Conway aka "Cruella deVille" says media shouldn't whaaaaa?  Obviously the Republicans want to eliminate Free Speech and this stupid statement proves it:

Hours after the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times published separate stories outlining the lies Donald Trump has told during his presidential campaign, Trump’s campaign spokesperson told ABC’s “This Week” that it isn’t the media’s job to factcheck the presidential debate.

“I really don’t appreciate the campaigns thinking it is the job of the media to go and be these virtual fact-checkers,” Kellyanne Conway said, in an apparent attempted jab at the Clinton campaign. 

Conway also opposed debate moderators questioning the candidates’ truthfulness in any way.

Stupid.....and dangerous.....


Donald Trump must explain how he will replace Obamacare

An open letter to Donald Trump

Here’s why a Trump presidency is a danger to my life

by Kendall Brown

Dear Mr. Trump,

You don’t know me. We’ve never met in person or talked to one another. But you have continuously threatened my life since you began your presidential campaign.

You see, I’m one of millions of Americans with a disability. I was born with severe Crohn’s Disease. The disease is genetic and inherited, and it means I cannot absorb nutrients normally through my intestines and am often left in debilitating pain—unable to eat, or walk, or do most of the things people often take for granted in life. The disease has cost me thousands of dollars, entire semesters of my college career, and nearly two feet of my intestine that had to be removed in an emergency surgery.

And it has nearly killed me, twice. It would have killed me, if it weren’t for one thing — Obamacare.
The first time Obamacare saved my life, I was 25.

Thanks to Crohn’s Disease, I had to have two feet of my intestine removed in an emergency surgery. A few months earlier, I didn’t have health insurance, and likely wouldn’t have been able to get the life-saving surgery. But the first phase of Obamacare had just kicked in, allowing me to go back on my mom’s insurance until I turned 26.

The second time Obamacare saved my life, I was 28.

After I aged off of my mom’s insurance, insurance companies were able to legally deny me health coverage, because having been born with a disease meant I had a pre-existing condition. By that time, I was undergoing a form of chemo treatments, and on my 27th birthday, I was informed at the hospital that my insurance had declined my treatment. Unless I had the $15,000 the treatment would cost, I had to go home without it. I went home untreated that day. Until the second phase of Obamacare kicked in, preventing insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, they were able to deny me coverage, or just refuse to pay for anything related to my disease.
Obamacare changed all of that.And that’s where you come in, Mr. Trump. You’ve spent the last year telling Americans that Obamacare is nothing but bad news, that you would “repeal it and replace it with something terrific.”
On what, exactly, your “something terrific” would look like, you’ve been uniquely and uncharacteristically silent.

Mr. Trump, access to quality and affordable health care coverage for millions of Americans is not something we can afford for 45th President of the United States to be vague on. Worse, the things you’ve told the American people about health care have been incorrect, outrageous, and at times, outright lies.
And you don’t seem to care that you’re wrong.

I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s that you and I are very different. Our lives have been very different.

When your father was giving you your first “small” million dollar loan, my mother was trying to figure out how to pay for my medicine and hide it from me when the stress made her cry. While I was working two full-time jobs while also attending college classes—just to afford my treatment—you were getting an illegal three million dollar loan in poker chips from your dad.

And while I’m a 29-year-old facing the possibility of a medical bankruptcy due to insurmountable medical debt from before the ACA — along what that will mean for my future, my ability to buy a house some day and afford to have children — you’ve managed to walk away from driving businesses into bankruptcy time and time again as the only one not hurt by your actions.

So I know our lives have turned us into very different people, Mr. Trump. That was never more apparent than when I watched you mock reporter Serge Kovaleski for the physical disability he was born with. On that day, you showed all of us in the disability community—along with the rest of the world—just how cruel and ugly you can be.

Mr. Trump, you’ve probably guessed by now that I’m a proud progressive. But much of my family are proud conservatives. And this November, not a single one of us will be voting for you. Because we know that the act of caring, of taking care of our fellow Americans, is a principle that transcends party lines — and it’s a quality you h
ave not built into your campaign. Your statements about health care — and your campaign as a whole — have been built on empty promises.

Empty promises won’t provide disabled Americans like me with health care. Empty promises won’t save my life the next time I need it. And empty promises won’t get you elected come November.

Kendall Brown

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Gun safety activists in Maine over ride the political process

SEPTEMBER 24, 2016- Citizens initiative pushes back on how the National Rifle Association (NRA) has exclusive control over the political process and politicians.
QUESTION 3: Maine voters will decide Nov. 8 whether to require bun buyer background checks on most private gun sales and gun transfers in Maine. Question 3 on the Maine ballot will read:

“Do you want to require background checks prior to the sale or transfer of firearms between individuals not licensed as firearms dealers, with failure to do so punishable by law, and with some exceptions for family members, hunting, self-defense, lawful competitions, and shooting range activity?”

FILE -- Smith & Wesson AR-15 rifles for sale at a gun show in Loveland, Colo., Oct. 11, 2014. The military-style gun, a version of which was used in the Pulse night club mass shooting that left 50 dead on June 12, 2016, has become, simultaneously, one of most beloved and most vilified rifles in the country. (Luke Sharrett/The New York Times)
Gun loop-hole referendum quesntion 3 on Maine ballot in November

The Boston Globe Editorial:
FOR CITIZENS concerned about gun violence, this year’s election in Maine offers a lesson in grass-roots political possibilities.

In 2013, Paul LePage, the state’s bombastic right-wing governor, vetoed legislation to end the so-called gun show loophole, by requiring private sellers at gun shows to do the same kind of background check that federally licensed dealers must. 

So activists took to the sidewalks and malls — and to the ballot-question process.

They put a gun show loophole-closing question on the Nov. 8 ballot. It would require those involved in private sales or transfers of firearms to first arrange with a licensed firearms dealer to conduct a background check on the buyer or receiver. That would be necessary regardless of whether those sales take place at gun shows or are initiated over the Internet or through publications like “Uncle Henry’s,” an Augusta-based classified-ad magazine. A similar question will also be on the ballot in Nevada. Together, they will offer a two-state test of a gun safety approach that most Americans support but which hasn’t been able to clear Congress. (To date, some 18 states and the District of Columbia have closed the gun show loophole in full or in part.)

That ballot question has, of course, raised the ire of the National Rifle Association and its allies. 

Opponents are up to their usual tricks, claiming that the proposed law would hugely inconvenience legal gun owners — and are trying to dream up implausible scenarios under which law-abiding citizens might somehow be vexed by, or run afoul of, the proposed law. Wiley John L. Martin, Democrat of Eagle Lake — who, with a half-century of lawmaking under his belt, is now the longest-serving legislator in Maine history — fretted in a recent guest column in the Portland Press Herald that a sportsman wouldn’t be able to take his shotgun to a gunsmith for repairs. Not so, say the backers of Question 3. Further, the measure has a long list of exemptions for gun transfers to family members and for the lending of a rifle to a friend or acquaintance for hunting.

Another tactic has been to denounce the measure as something being pushed by out-of-staters (or someone “from away,” as they say in Maine): that is, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose group, Everytown for Gun Safety, is supporting the Maine measure financially. The NRA plays that card in a new ad whose overdone Maine accent makes it sound as though it’s being narrated by a poor “Bert and I” imitator. Everytown certainly is a big backer and funder of the gun-safety measure, but some 85,000 Mainers from every part of the state signed petitions to put the question on the ballot. Furthermore, both the Press Herald and the Bangor Daily News, the state’s two largest newspapers, have written favorably about background checks, as has the Maine Chiefs of Police Association.

And it has certainly generated a great deal of interest and debate, from guest columns to letters to the editor. 

Right now, anyway, the measure seems well positioned to win. 

If it does, a victory in a rural state with a long hunting history and heritage — one where you can now carry a firearm, concealed or openly, without a permit — will suggest a way forward in other states where background checks can’t make it through the legislature or by the governor. A victory in Nevada would add to that momentum. Meanwhile, other New England states have some stake in the Maine outcome. According to federal data, Maine is second behind New Hampshire as the out-of-state source of guns recovered at crime scenes in Massachusetts.

But regardless of what happens in Maine, Question 3 shows how gun-safety activists can take the issue of common-sense gun control back from the politicians. And in a time of legislative frustration, that’s an instructive example.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Adolf Hitler was unable to co-opt Rotarian George Messersmith

George Messersmith died in 1960, but this one man made a significant difference in the outcomes of World War II and, arguably, in the history of what nation controls nuclear power.
Wow!!! Quite a story here... parallels to today are eerie.

Published the October 2016 edition of The Rotarian Magazine: "Our Man in the 1930s, Rotarian George Messersmith stood toe-to-toe with Hitler".

Our Man in Berlin by Brendan McNally- next to getting your facts straight, one of the challenges of writing about historical figures is dealing with other characters who pop up and start hijacking the narrative. These are people who keep doing things so unexpected and compelling that you must find out what made them tick. The problem is that they've usually been dead for years, along with anyone who knew them. Left with bits of information - when they were born, where they went to school, whom they married, where they worked- you have to hope that something drops into your lap that helps to explain them.  Sometimes, that catalyst is simply finding out that your guy was a Rotarian.

George Strausser Messersmith (October 3, 1883 – January 29, 1960) was a United States ambassador to Austria, Cuba, Mexico and Argentina. Messersmith also served as head of the U.S. Consulate in Germany from 1930 to 1934, during the rise of the Nazi party. He was best known for his controversial decision to issue a visa to Albert Einstein to travel to the United States.

In 1930, Messersmith left his position in Argentina to accept the same position in Berlin.There, he became responsible for administering the annual German immigration quota.
George Messersmith- Rotarian and diplomat

While he did not personally interview Albert Einstein, Messersmith cleared the way for the scientist to leave Germany. Indeed, he called Einstein himself to tell him that his visa would be ready. He was viciously criticized by conservative groups and media for his action to issue a visa to Einstein.  Unfortunately, Messersmith received significant notoriety in late 1932, due to the incident.

Messersmith told the American consuls in Europe that any refugee or immigrant requesting a visa to enter the U.S. must have sufficient funds and property to support themselves.

George Messersmith,was a U.S. diplomat in Berlin in the early 1930s. He was the guy who approved Albert Einstein’s visa; but not before consulate staff questioned the physicist about his political beliefs. 

Moreover, Messersmith was also the guy who first alerted the British government that a serious problem was about to land on its plate after learning that two acquaintances, Britain’s former King Edward VIII and his girlfriend, Wallis Simpson, were freiending around with several top Nazis.

But Messersmith is best-remembered as one of the first U.S. government officials to sound the alarm against Adolf Hitler. 

In 1933, when everyone else was dismissing Hitler as a gutter politician who would be easy to manipulate, Messersmith recognized him for what he was: a dangerous psychopath capable of bringing the world down around him. 

In fact, Messersmith waged such a bloody-minded one-man war against Hitler that before long, the mere mention of Messersmith’s name would leave the Führer enraged. It also earned him, within certain Berlin circles, a sobriquet: “the terror of Nazi Germany.”

Diplomats are supposed to be diplomatic. It was said of Talleyrand, the great 18th-century French political adventurer, that he could hold his tongue in at least seven languages. 

Nevertheless, George Messersmith couldn’t hold his tongue in even one. He called it as he saw it. And if anyone couldn’t handle that, well, that was their problem.

I first ran across Messersmith while researching the life of Martha Dodd, the 1930s socialite-turned-Soviet spy. Martha, the excessively free-spirited daughter of William E. Dodd, the first U.S. ambassador to Nazi Germany, embarked on a dizzying number of affairs with members of the new Nazi elite. Along the way, she met and promptly fell in love with a dashing Russian diplomat who was also Berlin’s NKVD rezident, who just as promptly recruited her into the Soviet secret service.

As salacious as Martha Dodd’s story is, there is also something pathetically inevitable about its trajectory. George Messersmith’s life is quite the opposite. If there was anything inevitable about it, it was his tendency to be true to himself and to never take the easy path, regardless of the cost.

Born in 1883 in southeastern Pennsylvania, Messersmith was the son of a local businessman who died when George was a child. Highly ambitious but unable to afford college, Messersmith got a teaching certificate and went to work in a one-room schoolhouse in Delaware. He was quickly promoted, eventually becoming vice president of the Delaware State Board of Education.

In 1916, two years after joining the State Department, he was sent to Curaçao, in the Dutch West Indies. War was raging in Europe, and Curaçao, being neutral, was a hotbed of spies and skulduggery. Messersmith got wind of a German spy ring operating there and cracked its code. As a result, a number of its members were caught.

In 1930, Messersmith was named consul general in Germany. The Foreign Service’s diplomatic and consular corps operated as parallel, very nearly separate entities. Unlike ambassadors, who are direct emissaries from one head of state to another, consuls look after their nation’s business interests and those of their citizens traveling and living abroad.

This seemed to suit Messersmith just fine. He knew how to operate both officially and informally, tapping into the wide network of contacts he had all over Germany. In this sense, he was more like a business executive, which may have been why he was a member of the Rotary Club of Berlin. The club, chartered in 1929, was a popular meeting place for Berlin’s rising business, professional, and intellectual classes, and Messersmith found it a good place to develop friendly contacts and share opinions.

“I attend this luncheon whenever possible,” he reported to the secretary of state in November 1933, “as I find it one of the ways in which I can keep contact of a personal character with many people whom I do not otherwise see. … There are usually guests from various countries present at these luncheons and there are usually also from twenty to thirty guests from other Rotary clubs in Germany. The luncheons therefore have during the past three years been very interesting.”

Weimar-era Berlin had been a lively place, full of art and culture, with dozens of daily newspapers and a democratic discourse that flourished in coffeehouses, cabarets, professional chambers, and the streets. By the end of the 1920s, the Nazis were among the largest political parties, but their fortunes tended to ebb and flow with the shaky economic situation. In January 1933, Germany’s president, Paul von Hindenburg, appointed Adolf Hitler as chancellor. The president wasn’t thought to care much for Hitler, and many, including Messersmith, didn’t expect him to last long.

But Hitler moved quickly. By March that year, the Nazis had control of the German parliament, and Jews began to be dismissed from government jobs and Jewish businesses boycotted and their owners publicly humiliated. Different Nazi groups, jockeying for power, set up their own makeshift prisons. People were arrested and beaten, sometimes to death. Messersmith witnessed it all, and the reports he sent to Washington detailed Germany’s rapid descent from democracy to brutal dictatorship.

Some of the victims were Americans. In one report, Messersmith detailed how a group of storm troopers dragged three American tourists off to one of their jails. They were beaten unconscious and tossed out onto the street the next morning. In another, he reported springing an American seaman from a Hamburg prison after the man had gotten into a heated drunken political discussion and insulted Hitler. Incidents like this were now happening all the time. But even though American reporters in Germany filed the stories to their editors, they rarely made it into print. The Nazis excelled at PR and presented an attractive image to the world.

Messersmith became a sort of information clearinghouse for his journalist friends, showing them reports and getting them out of trouble whenever the Nazis cracked down. When dignitaries or well-known opinion-makers came to Berlin, he would invite them out for lunch to feed them the facts. Slowly, he started making headway.

None of this got past Hitler, who was extremely sensitive about his portrayal in the media. Normally, the German government would have taken its complaint to the U.S. ambassador – but there wasn’t one. After the resignation of Ambassador Frederic Sackett in March 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had a difficult time filling the job. Until the end of August that year, Consul General Messersmith was running things, and Hitler already knew that any emissary he sent to the embassy was likely to come away with nothing but an earful of blunt opinions.

Hitler and Messersmith probably never met. Hitler, being a bully, disliked confrontation when he couldn’t dominate, and Messersmith was all too ready to tell him exactly what he didn’t want to hear. Messersmith did know some of Hitler’s underlings quite well, including Hermann Goering, who even invited himself to dine at Messersmith’s home on at least one occasion. “Goering is strong, intelligent, and well-informed on some subjects, but naive as a child on others,” Messersmith wrote in a report.

With newspapers under strict government control, ordinary Germans tended to believe whatever the Nazi media told them. During one Rotary meeting when Messersmith brought up the brutal treatment of Jews, several members insisted that it wasn’t any different from what was happening in the United States. After all, they asked in apparent earnestness, didn’t America have its own “Jewish problem”? Messersmith realized that many otherwise intelligent Germans had entered a fantasy world.

The Nazi regime’s attitude toward Rotary was mixed. Active Rotary clubs seemed like a good way to help the Third Reich achieve respectability and international acceptance. But the Nazis were suspicious of any international organization. For a while, they let the clubs continue to operate, even allowing them to retain their Jewish members. “The fact that Jews are permitted to continue membership in Rotary is being used as propaganda among Rotary clubs throughout the world,” Messersmith wrote in a report to Washington.

For a period during the summer of 1933, Messersmith thought the top Nazi leadership might be becoming more moderate, but then he realized he was wrong. “What they most want to do,” he wrote, “is make Germany the most capable instrument of war that has ever existed.” War might still be years away, but Hitler was making it inevitable. Messersmith’s recommendation: “forcible intervention from the outside,” and soon.

At the end of August, the new U.S. ambassador, William E. Dodd, took up his post in Berlin; he had arrived the previous month with his soon-to-be-notorious daughter in tow. Dodd, a university professor and yeoman farmer, was unabashedly pro-German, having earned his doctorate in Leipzig nearly four decades earlier. He and his family readily confessed a certain level of anti-Semitism, though “certainly no worse than anyone else,” as his daughter put it.

Dodd had read a number of Messersmith’s reports while still in Washington. While admitting he knew almost nothing about the situation in Germany, he nevertheless tended to dismiss them as biased and alarmist. After he arrived, he told Messersmith that nothing he or his family had seen bore any resemblance to what was in the reports. Dodd thought his first meeting with Hitler had gone very well.

Dodd’s opinions wouldn’t remain intact for very long. Historians have documented his conversion to a fervent anti-Nazi. But Dodd’s journey began with Messersmith, and though he was ultimately grateful to him for it, he still didn’t like having Messersmith around. He saw the steady flow of lengthy reports, some going directly to FDR’s desk, as an indication that Messersmith coveted the ambassador post. Dodd suggested that Messersmith’s antagonistic relationship with the German government was a clear sign he had “outstayed his assignment,” and he lobbied hard to get him reassigned. Early in 1934, Dodd got his wish.

Messersmith went to Vienna as minister to Austria, where he continued to defy the Nazis. In 1939, FDR appointed him to lead something called the Second Counter-Intelligence Panel, where he went head-to-head with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who thought that all intelligence activities, foreign and domestic, rightfully belonged on his plate.

After stints as ambassador to Cuba and Mexico, Messersmith’s final diplomatic post was in 1946 as ambassador to Argentina. U.S. relations with that country were rough at the time because of Argentina’s friendly treatment of fleeing Nazis. Messersmith believed he was making progress with the Argentine government, but in 1947 he lost the support of President Harry Truman, who fired him.

If Messersmith was downhearted over this, he didn’t show it. He returned to Mexico City and became the head of Mexican Power and Light Co. Even though his days of public service were officially behind him, it appears his work as an intelligence operative was not. When he died in 1960, officials from the U.S. Embassy immediately went to his home in Cuernavaca, seized a large pile of papers from his files, and burned them.

Brendan McNally

The Rotarian



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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

New Yorkers won't stop for terrorism - even if terrorists stop for them

God Love the New York City terrorism snobbery!

Excuse me for using America's favorite poet's syntax in the title of this blog, but the rhythm of the New York state of mind seems to fit the pentameter of Emily Dickinson's poem. Although she did not stop for death, eventually, death does stop for all of us.  But, let's not stop for terrorism, even when it could put us all in harm's way!

"Whether it is that his own cowardice pushes him to impute anxiety to others or that his own cynicism leads him to exploit it, he benefits from panicked people." (referring to Donald Trump)
Image result for New York City skyline
New York City will not stop for terrorism

From The New Yorker- by Adam Gopnik:

New York City and New Jersey:
The bombings that took place in Chelsea and New Jersey over the weekend managed to be both frightening and, in a strange way, inspiring. They were frightening, obviously, because they reminded us that, given the realities of modern technology and its dissemination of information, we can never hope to be entirely safe against the threat of terrorism. Whether or not the suspected bomber had a direct relationship with isis or other foreign groups, or, as so often now, an indirect one, or none at all, information about how to construct bombs is now so widely available that it is impossible to build complete immunity against terrorism, certainly not in anything still resembling an open society. 

For all the ingenuity and obvious efficiency of the New York Police Department and its fellows—qualities that have made terrorism in the city since 9/11 far more infrequent than anyone might have imagined in those panicky days and months after it—there is no such thing as no risk. There will be more bombings, and there will be other bombers.

The more inspiring news is that, despite that truth, the response of the people of New York was not merely “bold” or “courageous,” or all those other words we use, sometimes obnoxiously, to congratulate ourselves.

Instead, their responses were marked by something even better: cool, plain, dull indifference. It was as if New Yorkers were, after a difficult decade, finally internalizing the numerical realities of the threat that terrorism presents and the threat it doesn’t—of what terrorism is and isn’t. (And it was also a nice illustration of Jane Jacobs’s principle that there are many advantages in having eyes on the street.)

We can never get the risk level to zero. Still, the idea—still taboo to say, still disallowed from articulation, still too shocking to be uttered, certainly on cable television’s non-stop anxiety rounds—ought to be that terrorism remains as close to that as we can hope to find in this fatal world. The risks we take getting in a car or getting married (given how often spouses murder each other) or just walking outside—not to mention the risks that we take in owning a gun—are far higher than the risk that we run from terrorism. As The Economist pointed out in a useful rundown of the statistical truths not long ago, the risk of an American being killed by terrorism in the decade after 9/11 and up to 2013 was one in fifty-six million, adding, “The chance of being the victim in 2013 of an ordinary homicide in the United States was one in 20,000. Traffic accidents are three times as lethal.” President Obama has suggested as much at times, but it’s not what people want to hear, and the wisdom of probabilities is taken to be indifference to risk.

The question becomes why we develop such a high level of fright about such a low-level probability. Why are so many still so easily panicked? One reason is that there are political movements and politicians who think to benefit from them, Donald Trump chief among them right now. Whether it is that his own cowardice pushes him to impute anxiety to others or that his own cynicism leads him to exploit it, he benefits from panicked people. The more scared people are made, the more likely they are to turn to a strongman to reassure them. It is an ancient—and always duplicitous and disappointing—formula.

But a second reason is both more insidious and more interesting. It lies in the eternal human propensity to overstate and overimagine risks and loss and underimagine and understate gains and benefits. That’s something that the Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman, among others, became famous for highlighting. Losses loom larger than gains. We are so “loss averse” that we often fail to compute the odds of life very well. We pay far more attention to remote dangers than to the safety of our immediate circumstances. Risk is scarier than reassurance is reassuring. One terror incident terrifies; the absence of terrorism doesn’t seem to put our minds at rest.

Bad news is always bigger than good. It always will be. That’s why terrorism will always get more time on cable TV than ongoing normalcy that surrounds it. It is not just a fact of cable television. It is a fact of the human condition, or, if you prefer, of human psychology. But it is not an irredeemable part of the human condition, or a prison that human psychology makes for us. Some wisdom helps us break out. And the encouraging thing is that, somehow, most New Yorkers have already done that. The cool on display over the weekend was not courage, really. It was just calculation, the hard-won calculation of real risks and real damage, born from an accumulated knowledge of the cost that panic and fear exact from each of us when we succumb to them. It’s the kind of sane calculation that pushes people forward to walk where they want to no matter how scared they’re supposed to be.

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