Lies are free but truth is not

Every day of the week, are flooded with misinformation.  But, it’s really nice to have politifact.com,   factcheck.org and snopes.com  doing their job in fact checking.

Case in point from Trump:

My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before….
7:56 AM – Aug 9, 2017

I thought this would deserve a “Pants on Fire” from politifact.com,  but they just pur it in the FALSE statement.   Everyone seems to have caught this one, because it can take years to add to the nuclear arsenal.

But other lies take some investigation, and the folks at these organizations really are great.   Trump has made 302 statements (60%) considered mostly false, false or pants on fire category,  far surpassing Obama’s 150 statements (26%) according to politifact.com.   Now Obama was president for 8 years so perhaps this is 20 false statements a year, while Trump is average is closer to a lie every day.

But every day, they catch people in high places making all sorts of unsupported claims.   It doesn’t matter if who they are, it is what they say.

But, these organizations depend on individual contributions.   You can donate  to these groups   by going to their website, and making an online contribution.  An informed public is vital to the democratic process.  A public which has been fed lies, loses the ability to make informed decisions.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

A Crisis in the Debt Ceiling Limit Approval – Again!

I know this isn’t headline news, yet.  But in two weeks, it will be.

I knew if Hillary Clinton was elected, this crisis would happen.  With Clinton as President,  I knew the House Republicans would use this opportunity to threaten  to wreck the economy unless a “dirty” approval was signed into law.  A dirty approval contains additional riders outside of increasing the debt ceiling which the President and the Democrats oppose and would under normal circumstances never pass.   The threat of sovereign default is used as leverage.   This makes most economists cringe.

But I thought it would be completely different with Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of both the House and the Senate.  Boy was I wrong!

Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew went through sheer hell in getting the debt ceiling approved in 2011.   There was another crisis in 2013.    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked Congress to approve a simple and clean bill to increase the debt ceiling limit.  He is 100% right.

As this issue got politicized,  somehow what the debt ceiling really was got twisted out of shape.  It absolutely is not analogous to the limits on credit cards, which we all know stops someone from racking up huge debts. The debt ceiling is not a mechanism to control spending.   This is done through the budget and appropriation requests.   This is stated on numerous website including Wikipedia as follows:

Because expenditures are authorized by separate legislation, the debt ceiling does not directly limit government deficits. In effect, it can only restrain the Treasury from paying for expenditures and other financial obligations after the limit has been reached, but which have already been approved (in the budget) and appropriated.

The difficulty in approving this increase, is that it says to conservative Republicans, that they somehow approved huge government deficits.

If not approved by late September, the US will be  in default.   The US stock market crashed in 2011, when it looked like there would be no approval. According to Wikipedia:

The GAO estimated that the delay in raising the debt ceiling during the debt ceiling crisis of 2011 raised borrowing costs for the government by $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2011 and noted that the delay would also raise costs in later years.[39] The Bipartisan Policy Center extended the GAO’s estimates and found that the delay raised borrowing costs by $18.9 billion over ten years.

We are back in the same situation, and this time it could be far worse because of the White House in-fighting.    Mike Mulvaney of the Office of Budget and Management undercut the Treasury Secretary’s position by suggesting something truly frightening-  using the crisis to force changes to Medicaid.

I like the way the LA Times presented the crisis:

The debt ceiling fight: This time it’s different–and much more dangerous

It is a time bomb.  There are  ways to kick it down the road, but that’s a horrible idea, as it starts discussion of all sorts of ways to frustrate a simple approval.  Democrats and moderate Republicans should unite and pass what Mnuchin asked for, ASAP.  Mulvaney should just keep quiet if he can.

Most economists believe the debt ceiling shouldn’t exist.  I agree, as explained in the link.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Link:  Wikipedia Debt Ceiling

 

Standing up for Trump

After criticizing Trump on a wide range of issues,  the New York Times came to Trump’s defense.      The incident began with the posting of  a video clip supposedly showing a 3 year old child in a wheelchair at the White House which alleged to show the child attempt to shake Trump’s hand, and Trump snubbed him.   It was all nonsense as  3 year olds move their hands around alot –   that’s what babies do!

This clip was pick up by a website called the washingtonjournal.com,  a highly biased website against Trump.  It had nothing to do with the CSPAN, Washington Journal broadcast.

It went viral quickly.  The well known author of Harry Potter books,  J.K. Rowlings tweeted how horrible Trump’s actions were, but later realized that she had been fooled.   Factcheck.org wrote,

Even ‘Harry Potter’ author J.K. Rowling, who criticized Trump on Twitter for the alleged snub, was misled by the video clip. Rowling later deleted her tweets and apologized to the family.

The NY Times ran a photo showing the president bending over, and in fact, shaking the hand of the child.   They also stated that J.K. Rowling apologized to the family for her error, but did not apologize to President Trump.

You can see New York Times professionalism in the article.

Link:  J.K. Rowlings apologizes for Anti-Trump Tweets (but not to Trump)

I always like the quote attributed to Mark Twain, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

While this would make a nice end to this blog, my curiosity got the better of me, and I wanted to know what  Twain really said.   Turns out,  the origins of  this  great quote may have come from Jonathan Swift in 1710, some 200 years before Twain’s death.

Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it

(See link at the end)

It is very interesting that printing presses were praised as spreading knowledge and creating a greater sense of an informed public essential for democracy and at the same time, spreading rumors and false stories.

Today,   the culprits for originating and disseminating falsehoods (I like this word) are websites, political radio stations, and news commentary television shows.  If you check out the “Pants on Fire” lies on Politifact, you will find they come mostly from bloggers, although some are attributed to comments made by Trump at events.

I admit to being a news snob.  What is nice about the mainstream print media is it can’t undone or updated, and it will be seen by experts on the particular topic.  So, journalists have to tread carefully on “breaking news.”  The New York Times and the Washington Post are not particularly good places for political hacks.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Pants on Fire

Quote investigator

Politifact.com

 

 

 

 

Trump’s Malicious Lies

He has attacked FBI Director Comey as a leaker of classified information, the acting Director as  Andrew McCabe as corrupt,  the head of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions and Rob Rosenstein of using poor judgment in the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.   His latest attacks have been against Robert Mueller,  accusing him of a unwarranted  investigation of the Russian meddling in the 2016 and ignoring the crimes of Hillary Clinton in dealing with the Russians.

Although the harshest attacks come from Trump himself on the actions of the Justice Department,  in other areas, Trump is touting the accomplishments of the Justice Department, particularly the war on drugs, and crack down on human trafficking and illegal immigration, without any mention of Jeff Sessions.

The head of the Justice Department and FBI can be fired at a moments notice without cause.  Director Jim Comey learned he had been fired from CNN news broadcast.  Andrew McCabe is no longer in the direct line of fire.   The new FBI Director, Christopher Wray began his job yesterday.   If he feels that Hillary Clinton broke the law during 2016, he is free to investigate this activity.  Investigations can be closed, then re-opened.

I did not include attacks on the Washington Post and the New York Times from their reporting.  I previously posted my reasons why the New York Times reporting should be trusted, and that the newspaper is thriving, not failing.

The most serious accusations are against Robert Mueller, because Trump will use this as a pretext to remove him.  Jeff Sessions is far from being weak. Here’s the headline from the front page of the New York Times, “Under Attack, Justice Dept. Pushes Ahead, Quietly Carrying Out Trump’s Agenda.”  It goes on how Jeff Sessions is at work by 6:15 am, and starts his day on a treadmill, and a bowl of instant oatmeal in the microwave.  He hand-washes the bowl.

So, what were the malicious lie told by Trump?  It is the uranium story.  All fact checkers I know (Snopes.com, Politifact.com and factcheck.org find the essential details in  Trump’s narrative are false.    Here it is (snopes.com):

Allegations of a “quid pro quo” deal giving Russia ownership of one-fifth of U.S. uranium deposits in exchange for $145 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation are unsubstantiated.

No US uranium can be exported to Russia, not before the deal and not afterwards.  Russia may have an interest in US uranium mines, but Russia doesn’t get any uranium from the US.   The “quid pro quo” is simply a polite way of saying that Russia bought Hillary’s support, by slipping 145 million to the Clinton Foundation.    The whole story falls apart because the bulk of the  contributions were made in 2007, long before the buyout of Uranium One.

The whole uranium story should have fallen apart long ago because the timeline is all wrong.  The Snopes article states:

Of the $145 million allegedly contributed to the Clinton Foundation by Uranium One investors, the lion’s share — $131.3 million — came from a single donor, Frank Giustra, the company’s founder. But Giustra sold off his entire stake in the company in 2007, three years before the Russia deal and at least 18 months before Clinton became secretary of state.

Nobody is above the law.  Hillary Clinton, her staff and the Clinton Foundation must play by the rules.   I particularly like the way Snopes concluded the piece:

An enormous volume of interest and speculation surrounds the workings of the Clinton Foundation, which is to be expected. Given the enormous sums of money it controls and the fact that it is run by a former U.S. president who is married to a possible future U.S. president, the foundation deserves all the scrutiny it gets, and more.

At the same time, for the sake of accuracy it’s crucial to differentiate between partisan accusations and what we actually know about it — however little that may be.

This was published in October 2016, as Trump was storming the country with “Crooked Hillary” narratives.  Now the attacks have turned to Robert Mueller, as enemy number one.   He is directed to investigate Russian interference into the 2016 election, so he really can’t extend his investigation to a contribution received in 2007 by  Guistra  to the Clinton Foundation as payoff for a decision after he no longer had a stake in the company.   Whole narrative is really flaky.

I was very glad that no pardon was given to Hillary Clinton nor anyone in the White House or Clinton’s foundation before Obama’s departure.

Trump is trashing everyone who isn’t in the White House.  At least, isn’t currently in the White House. The heat is definitely on as Robert Mueller has convened a grand jury to examine criminal activities associated with Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

The latest Quinnipiac Polls show that most Americans do not trust Trump.  I wonder why?

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Fact check:  West Virginia Rally  (much more fiction than fact

Snopes.com  Russian to Judgment

(note the Brietbart connection, with Clinton Cash book in 2015)

West Virginia Rally- Trump: Politifact.com West Virginia Rally

The special counsel “should be looking at the … uranium (Hillary Clinton) sold that’s now in the hands of very angry Russians.”

Politifact on Uranium story

New York Times, 2015 article on the buyout transaction. 

 

 

 

The New York Times, is a Trump stock

In Hollywood, they say there is no such thing as negative publicity.  The “failing New York Times” with it’s fake news is a constant theme of Donald Trump. The New York Times has won 122 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The prize is awarded for excellence in journalism in a range of categories.  The list of awards is extensive- see link at the end.

But is it failing?   Before I answer that question, there is an extensive decline in newspaper’s circulation in the US.    The average news junkie can get his morning fix by listening to CNN and BBC, then hit the internet to get the latest in areas of interest, Hollywood, sports, or in my case business.   But, internationally, circulation is rising- due to increase literacy,  higher incomes, and global awareness.   That’s great!

Now, Jim Cramer reviewed the finances of the New York Times, and found the company is not failing, but is thriving.  Instead of going through the slew of financial data, I’ll simply provide the CNBC link:

CNBC – Jim Cramer on the New York Times

Ironically,  all Trump’s tweets may have increased interest in the New York Times.    A lot of the content is now on the Internet and distributed free.   Where the increased revenues are coming from, is the increase in online advertising. The Times is by no way perfect- see links for past controversies.

Jim Cramer in January was touting a lot of stocks to be “Trump stocks”  based on deregulation,  overseas repatriation, and tax cuts for businesses. You would not think of First Solar, a maker of solar panels, to outperform Peabody Coal,Chesapeake Gas  or Sanchez Oil (involved in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking) but you would be so wrong.   This will have to wait for another blog.  My New York  Times is on the table.

Stay tuned,

Dave

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times

 

The Art of the Deal: Fixing Obamacare

Since the ACA was passed in 2010, the Republicans have predicted the eventual demise, either through court challenges or legislative repeal. President Trump nominated Tom Price as the Health and Human Services Department. He demonstrated a real knack of avoiding the question, and instead talking in general terms of what are the good intentions of the Department.  Spin all the positives possible.

The question Price would like to respond to, is: “Doesn’t the Department have the public’s best interest in mind when it comes to health care?” Or at least “Isn’t everything proposed by Republicans excellent, as compared to what we have.”

The link below is his interview on Meet the Press:

Youtube video: Meet the Press

He is correct that HHS administers five health plans.  He’d love to talk about the other 4 non-controversial plans.

Trump has tweeted repeatedly, is that he will never own Obamacare, just let it implode.   So Price as the plan’s administrator will be accused of neglecting the program for partisan purposes.

Now,  any fix of Obamacare will not happen with Tom Price as secretary.   What a fix would entail is increased subsidies for lower income families to encourage enrollment  massive advertising with reminders that people without insurance will face tax penalties.    It will take legislative action to fix Obamacare.

Trump could emerge on top, being the ultimate deal maker between feuding Democrats and Republicans.  To avoid alienating Republicans, he should never talk of a fix, but rather a merger of taking the best of both plans, and putting together one that will work for all Americans.    Call it a consolidated or reconciled bill or non-partisan bill.   Yes, that’s BS, but it’s the only BS that will work.   Price would be replaced by a real expert in healthcare systems.  Defunding of Planned Parenthood and abortion payments would not be part of the consolidated plan.

The Democrats have come up with a new slogan,  “A Better Deal” in which they will include a promise of a better health plan.   Trump would steal their thunder by endorsing what is basically their plan.

The Trump health plan would be despised by many Republicans, but now it would be the Republicans who would have to vote down something the Democrats support.

Stay tuned,

Dave