You are browsing the archive for 2018 August 30.

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'He's Turned the White House into an Alternative Fox Show': Fox News Host Says the Network 'Radicalized' Trump

August 30, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

Fox News host Greg Gutfeld said what everyone already knows about his network's relationship with the president.

It is increasingly clear that President Donald Trump is marching to the drumbeat of Fox News. And people at the network know it.

In an interesting moment of candor, Fox News Host Greg Gutfeld laid out just what role his network has played in enabling and bolstering Trump's behavior.

“You know what it is? Trump was radicalized by something, okay?” said Gutfeld on “The Five” on Tuesday. “Because he was a Democrat for a long time, he was pro-choice, liberal in many things. He was radicalized. What was he radicalized by? Us. Fox News. When Fox News happened he watches Fox, and the world starts to make sense to him, and then — so all he's doing, Juan, is what we do, which is, we bash the media!

“So he's just doing — he's turned the White House into kind of, like, an alternative Fox show where he sits there and he rips the media,” Gutfeld continued, roaring with laughter. “It's kind of refreshing.”

Gutfeld, as a Fox commentator, may find that “refreshing,” but it is in fact deeply disturbing. Fox News has long operated as an echo chamber for right-wing ideologues who want to promote themselves free from fact-checking — at least one study has found Fox News viewers are less informed on politics than people who don't watch any news at all.

Trump, moreover, has gotten numerous toxic falsehoods from Fox, from the idea that South African farm attacks are a conspiracy to expropriate land from white people, to the idea that Google is censoring conservative search results. …read more


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Legal Experts Say Trump Is Already Obstructing of Justice in the Case Against Paul Manafort

August 30, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“There is very little doubt what signal the president is sending his longtime associate and former campaign chairman.”

Even President Donald Trump's allies in Congress have warned him that pardoning Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman who has been convicted of eight counts of bank and tax fraud, would be a “bridge too far.”

But the president and his lawyers still have made it clear that they are willing to consider a pardon for Manafort — though they have said it will wait until after special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation wraps up.

In a new op-ed for the New York Times, to law professors Alex Whiting and Ryan Goodman argued Thursday that despite the fact that Trump hasn't yet tried to actually pardon Manafort, his involvement in the case against his former campaign chairman already constitutes obstruction of justice. President Richard Nixon, they note, was accused of similar behavior in the articles of impeachment adopted by the House of Representatives.

“Mr. Trump appears to be trying to have it all: dangling a pardon down the line to keep Mr. Manafort quiet, giving the president the benefits of a pardon without requiring him to pay substantial political costs,” they wrote. “That requires assuring Mr. Manafort that a pardon will very likely come, and Mr. Giuliani has obliged, telling reporters that Mr. Trump himself raised the subject of a Manafort pardon.”

They continue: “Whether and when he acts, it appears that Mr. Trump has already embarked on a strategy of using his pardon power to silence witnesses in the Mueller investigation. In other words, at this point, dangling the prospect of a pardon or going ahead and exercising it amounts to the same thing: obstruction of justice.”

Trump could have avoided all of this, they argued, if he had just kept his mouth shut about pardons. 

Citing the articles of impeachment against Nixon, they say that Trump has engaged in some of the conduct the former president — who ultimately resigned instead of being forcibly removed from office — carried out, specifically: “Endeavoring to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favored treatment and consideration …read more


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Conservative Magazine Pathetically Tries to Argue that Trump and Tucker Carlson Aren't Racists

August 30, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“There are people with far, far more offensive racial views than Donald Trump or Tucker Carlson,” the magazine said.

Evidence that President Donald Trump is racist emerges so frequently and consistently that credible commentators on American politics no longer even doubt the fundamental fact of his bigotry.

But of course, many of the president's defenders — and even conservative critics of the president — do their best to argue that Trump is the farthest thing from being racist.

The latest in this sad genre comes from The American Conservative, a right-wing magazine. In a new article, Jack Hunter argues that despite what many in the media say, Trump isn't racist. He even argues that claiming Trump is a white supremacist only empowers the “real” racists. 

And yet despite this sweeping claim, Hunter engages with very little of the extensive arguments put forth that document decades worth of the president' racism. Instead, he focuses on a single recent event that many critics of the president cited as an embodiment of his white supremacist worldview: Trump's tweet about Fox News' Tucker Carlson, who devoted a segment of his show to discussing South African policy toward white farmers. This issue has been seized upon by white supremacists trying to portray themselves as victims.

Hunter argues that because there are legitimate concerns regarding this issues — the idea of land expropriation has proved disastrous in the past, and there have indeed been some apparent murders of white farmers — the incident cannot be evidence of Trump's racism.

“That Trump and Carlson are taking their talking points from neo-Nazis seems absurd once one takes into account the full circumstances of what occurred, something most mainstream outlets have not done in their eagerness to tag both men as racists,” Hunter wrote. “Though South Africa’s complicated history and politics should be included in this discussion, Carlson is not wrong.”

If you squint and tilt your head, Hunter might seem to have a point. But the problem is that he ignores the entire context in which this event occurred.

Trump's presidency has promoted racist bans on Muslim travel and vicious policies toward immigrant …read more


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Republicans Are Calling on the FTC to Investigate Trump's Ludicrous Google Search Claims

August 30, 2018 in Blogs

By Mark Sumner, Daily Kos

The move is clearly designed to appease the president.

There are a lot of reasons to investigate Google. Its near-monopoly over digital advertising alone is reason enough to crack open the books. Recent changes to the way it manages YouTube payments chopped away potential revenue from thousands, only to slide even more money into the company’s giant maw.

But all of that hasn’t ruffled a feather on the right—until now. Reuters reports that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch has asked the Federal Trade Commissions to look into the “competitive effects of Google’s conduct in search and digital advertising.” Hatch’s move is clearly designed to appease Trump, who on Monday made a ludicrous charge that the search engine was ”suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information” by returning search results that featured more regular news outlets than alt-Reich blogs. 

Not only did none of Google’s monopoly powers previously warrant attention from Hatch or other Republicans, but the last time Trump tweeted about Google, it was to complain that the European Union was fining the company in an antitrust action. But now that Trump has conceived an imaginary plot to make bad news stories appear next to his name, Hatch is all over this thing.

Stay tuned for Hatch to launch fresh investigations into how vaccines cause autism and how world governments are covering up the raging Ebola pandemic.

Related Stories

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These 5 Key Races Remain Tight as Democrats Try to Take Control of the Senate

August 30, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Keep an eye on these unpredictable races.

Although Democrats are feeling increasingly optimistic about their chances to retake the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 midterms, they are facing an uphill battle in their quest to gain a majority in the U.S. Senate. All 435 seats in the House are up for grabs on Tuesday, November 6, which gives Democrats a lot more wiggle room and potential paths to victory. But in order to win a majority in the Senate, Democrats would have to maintain every seat they are defending while taking at least two seats from Republicans—which is doable but certainly challenging in light of how tight many Senate races are shaping up to be.

If the Democratic Party can, for example, maintain all of its current Senate seats while achieving victories for Jacky Rosen in Nevada and Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona, the U.S. Senate will have a narrow Democratic majority in 2019. But that is a major “if” because some Senate Democrats who are seeking reelection this year—including Bill Nelson in Florida and Claire McCaskill in Missouri—are facing what appear to be very tight races. And political pundits might be staying up late on November 6 to find out whether Democrats or Republicans will have a majority in the U.S. Senate in 2019.

Here are five of the most exciting, nail-biting U.S. Senate races to keep a close eye on between Labor Day and Election Night 2018. 

1. Arizona: Kyrsten Sinema v. Martha McSally

Between the death of Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake’s decision not to seek reelection, Arizona will have two new faces in the U.S. Senate in 2019. McCain’s seat will remain in Republican hands next year: by law, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey must appoint a Republican to fill the seat temporarily until a special election is held in 2020. But Flake’s seat is in play for Democrats, and Democratic nominee Kyrsten Sinema has been performing well in recent polls. Sinema would probably have an easier path to victory if she were running against either former Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward or former …read more


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Politicians Have Abandoned Economics for Paternalism

August 30, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

Have advocates of lifestyle and environmental regulation given
up pretending that the policies they advocate are grounded in good
economic analysis?

Two stories from last week suggest so. The first was reporting
around a new study by the Global Burden of Disease project, which
concluded that even moderate drinking increases the risk of
alcohol-related health problems or injury.

According to the BBC, this was said to show that “the
health risks of drinking exceed any possible benefits”.

We then heard that the government, buoyed by the apparent
responsiveness of consumers to the existing 5p plastic bag levy,
wanted to double its rate.

The aim of this was presumably to try to wipe out plastic bag
use almost entirely, and came hot on the heels of the proposal to
ban single-use plastic straws.

Both alcohol consumption and plastic use do exhibit what
economists call “social costs”. Drinking can result in
related crime, criminal justice and healthcare costs borne by
others. Plastic use can cause litter and pollute oceans.

Economists are therefore comfortable with certain policies, such
as targeted taxes, that mean these costs are priced in when we make
our consumption decisions.

But claiming that the health risks of drinking always exceed the
benefits and doubling the plastic bag charge go way beyond this
line of reasoning. In both cases, the suggestion is that because
some activity is considered “bad”, the optimal level of
that activity is zero.

This is mistaken.

Social costs aside, drinking alcohol is a personal decision. Our
starting point as economists is that humans internally weigh up the
costs and benefits of deciding whether to drink.

This new study may well be right that having one drink a day
very modestly increases the risks of drinking-related illnesses.
But we drink because we enjoy alcohol consumption. These are
benefits to us. We do not walk around judging every decision solely
according to its net impact on our health.

To claim that health risks exceed any possible benefits is
therefore absurd. No public health official, nor BBC journalist,
can possibly know whether this is true, because the benefits
include an individual’s own personal enjoyment.

By all means, publish information on the risks to our health to
inform our decisions, but to use this study as a basis for more
stringent policy would be a paternalistic overreach.

Sadly, that is exactly what we should expect — because
it’s how smoking regulation has developed.

Initially, governments advised smokers on the risks of smoking.
But when the public continued to smoke in large numbers and
deviated from what supposedly rational people would do, politicians
ratcheted up the regulatory intervention.

There are of course direct third-party effects associated with
smoking, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Why Do We Still Have War Booty from the Philippines?

August 30, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Many Americans view their country as a national Virgin Mary,
blameless and without sin. When Washington intervenes abroad, even
when visiting death and destruction on foreign peoples, it is an
act of righteousness on behalf of the Lord.

Yet for those on the other end of U.S. bullets and
bombs—think Yemeni schoolchildren killed by Saudi aircraft
armed, refueled, and guided by Washington—America looks like
anything but an avenging angel. The tragic reality is that myopic
policymakers are turning patriotic military personnel into war
criminals for venal ends.

Yemen is not the first such shameful moment. Many conflicts in
our history were foolish, counterproductive, and shortsighted.
Several were justified by fraud and lies. Yet most retained at
least a patina of moral justification, no matter how infirm in
practice. For instance, while Eastern financial interests pushed
for war to protect their abundant loans to Great Britain, President
Woodrow Wilson probably did believe that preserving the right of
Americans to travel unmolested on British ships—armed reserve
naval cruisers carrying munitions through a war
zone—constituted a righteous cause.

Three church bells were
pilfered during our horrible war there. But politicians and the
military refuse to give them back.

No such moral veneer can be applied to the Philippine-American
War, waged more than a century ago. Indeed, most Americans probably
are not even aware of that conflict. They are taught that Teddy
Roosevelt and a few other guys, some of whom were on ships,
defeated the murderous Spanish Empire and freed Cubans and
Filipinos from horrid oppression. What came next is barely
mentioned in most civics texts.

It turns out the Filipinos were already fighting to liberate
themselves, and led by Emilio Aguinaldo, they undertook an armed
insurgency against their Spanish overlords. Still, President
William McKinley was focused on Cuba, pointing to atrocities by
Madrid’s forces to justify America’s war against
Spain—which, of course, in no way threatened the U.S.
Madrid’s policies were dreadful, but no worse than
Washington’s treatment of Native Americans. Nevertheless,
American sanctimony was on full display.

Even if we’d had legitimate cause to
“liberate” Cuba, the Philippines was separate, largely
ignored by William Randolph Hearst and other “yellow
journalists” who stirred up war fever. But for many American
imperialists, the Philippines was the real objective. It offered a
base for Pacific naval operations and could act as a station on the
way to accessing the presumably limitless markets of China.

So Washington sent the navy under Commodore George Dewey to the
island archipelago. Dewey brought Aguinaldo from Hong Kong, where
he had been in exile, to the Philippines, to undermine the Spanish
authorities, and his forces quickly gained control of several
provinces and helped invest …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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This New York Bill Could Finally Put Animal Abusers Behind Bars for Years: Advocacy Group

August 30, 2018 in Blogs

By Stephen Wells, Independent Media Institute

A dog named Bella went without justice because of weak animal protection laws. But for other animals, that could change.

New York’s state animal protection laws don’t do enough to punish those who commit serious crimes against animals. A dog named Bella went without justice because of it. A proposed law nicknamed in her memory could help change that.

On the afternoon of December 23, 2016, Bella was beaten by the person who was supposed to protect her. Bella’s caregiver, 56-year-old Michael Gallagher, tied a zip tie around the 11-year-old dog’s neck. Then he stuffed her in a garbage bag and hit her, over and over, with a shovel.

Bella’s cries were so loud and anguished that Gallagher’s neighbors in Levittown, Long Island, came out to beg him to stop hurting his dog, and called the police. Gallagher fled. By the time Gallagher’s wife got home, and was able to bring Bella to a veterinarian, she was too badly injured to be saved. She was euthanized.

Gallagher was picked up by police later that day, and charged with one felony count of animal cruelty, and three misdemeanors. Bella’s abuser received only four months in county jail.

New Yorkers were stunned and horrified that Gallagher received such a short sentence for such a violent and serious crime. In response, and to prevent such injustice from occurring again, New York State Senator Andrew Lanza introduced Senate Bill 8724, nicknamed “Bella’s Bill.” New York Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal introduced the companion bill, A 11070, in the Assembly shortly thereafter. Though the bills did not pass during the 2018 session, support is ramping up for reintroduction in 2019.

Bella’s Bill would do two important things: First, it would increase penalties for those convicted of intentional abuse. Second, it would bring New York in line with the vast majority of other states, by transferring animal cruelty laws into the Penal Code, out of the Agriculture & Markets Law. This may sound like a small and technical difference on first blush, but it’s a significant change that helps ensure crimes against animals are treated …read more