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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

First Father Tweeter Trump's Most-Recent "I Told You So"

 

“ISIS is taking credit for the terrible stabbing attack at Ohio State University by a Somali refugee who should not have been in our country.”

Tweet by Donald Trump, November 30, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump, the First Father of the Tweet, again informed America of his amazing “I told you so” visionary capability. Once more he is waving the banners of his proposed Muslim ban and deportation policies in the wake of another dark tragedy.

Trump wants to make sure that everyone knows he is right … all of the time. He wants people to know he warned them, and they should heed his wise words without question. He tweets his "wise words" to the masses in righteous indignation.

Trump was referring to the attack at Ohio State University that left 11 injured and the suspect, identified by officials as Abdul Razak Ali Artan, dead. Artan was a legal permanent resident and student at the university. He and his family arrived in the U.S. as refugees from Somalia in 2014.
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Of course, ISIS has praised the attack, according to a self-described news agency for the terrorist organization. The group called Artan a “soldier of the Islamic State” who had “carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of international coalition countries.”

But, ISIS has used that phrasing to describe other violent actors without laying specific claim to the act itself.

(Reena Flores. “Trump: OSU attack suspect 'should not have been in our country.'" CBS News. November 30, 2016.)

Known Facts About the Attacker

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, issued a statement Tuesday evening saying it appeared Artan had been radicalized online. Schiff stated, however, that there was no evidence yet that he was communicating with radical terror organizations overseas. He was not known to the FBI prior to the attack

Authorities have told reporters that they are a "long way" from pinpointing a motive for the attack. Investigators are now busy dissecting Artan's history. On the surface it appears to be the story of a young refugee finding opportunity in America.

NBC News reported …

“Artan grew up in Somalia but left with his family in 2007, settling in Pakistan, according to law enforcement officials. Little is publicly known about the family's time there, but after seven years, they came to the U.S. as refugees. 

“According to Catholic Charities records, Artan arrived with his mother and six siblings and stayed in a temporary shelter in Dallas for 24 days, then relocated to Columbus, Ohio, a city with a sizable Somali community. 

“Artan attended Columbus State Community College, graduating cum laude in May 2016 with a two-year associate's degree. Video from the graduation ceremony shows him beaming as he collects his diploma in cap and gown. 

“He continued his studies by enrolling at Ohio State in the fall. On his very first day, he drew some attention — giving an interview and getting photographed for a feature called "Humans of OSU" in the campus publication The Lantern.

In the article, Artan expressed his struggles to find a place to pray in peace on the large campus.“I wanted to pray in the open, but I was kind of scared with everything going on in the media,” he said. “I’m a Muslim, it’s not what the media portrays me to be. If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen.” 
 
(Tracy Connor, Pete Williams, Tom Winter and Jonathan Dienst. “Ohio State attack: What we know about Abdul Razak Ali Artan.” NBC News. November 29, 2016.)

Donald Knows?

As Trump crows about who should and shouldn't be an American while warning of terrorist Trojan horses, does the nation – despite vetting procedures already in place – suspend immigration from Muslim countries? Will what Trump calls a new, “extreme, extreme” vetting stop people like Artan from carrying out attacks on American soil?

Ohio State President Dr. Michael V. Drake cautioned against jumping to conclusions when asked if the Artlan incident was terror-related or had anything to do with Ohio's Somali community, the second-largest in the country. One can only view clues to a possible motive.

According to federal law officials, Abdul Razak Ali Artan had written in one Facebook post he had grown "sick and tired" of seeing fellow Muslims "killed and tortured.” These officials are considering whether this supports a possible motive for his attack.

In a Facebook post shortly before the rampage, the Somali immigrant urged America "to stop interfering with other countries, especially the Muslim Ummah," a term for Muslim people at large.
"By Allah, we will not let you sleep unless you give peace to the Muslims," Artlan wrote. "You will not celebrate or enjoy any holiday."

(Dan Ponce. “Ohio State suspect Abdul Razak Ali Artan posted Facebook rant before attack. CNN Wire. November 29, 2016.)

In the end, the suppositions about the OSU attack will lead to a myriad of further questions.

Was Artan a lone wolf or an ISIS terrorist? Did his personal feelings of exclusion drive him to commit the crime or was he a cog in some larger movement? Should we view the actions of a seemingly deranged immigrant differently from those of other disgruntled criminals with group associations such as cartel gang members and white supremacy advocates? Was Artan suffering from mental illness or was he just a prime candidate for becoming a terrorist recruit?

And the big one …

Are far-reaching, speculative and off-hand comments about refugees by the soon-to-be President of the United States harmful to all of us?

I guess your answer depends upon your faith in the Omniscient One, the all-knowing visionary Donald Trump. Divisive comments about groups of people are his stock-in-trade. He fires them out in tweets, then he stands back from them, seemingly enjoying the upheaval they cause. Facts? Opinions? Half-truths? Lies?

"Hey, America – What? Me worry? I live in a tower and believe in walls." "Our" country? Or, "my" country?




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Free Exercise? The Press v. Donald Trump


 

In mid-October before the Presidential Election, the Committee to Protect Journalists passed an unprecedented anti-Trump resolution. The nonprofit organization advocates for the rights of journalists all around the world. The group usually concentrates on the Middle East and other conflict-stricken areas where journalists routinely face repression and violence – foreign governments like Iran, China, and Pakistan. However, this resolution was directed squarely toward President-elect Donald Trump.

The CPJ's board members include Associated Press executive editor Kathleen Carroll, New Yorker editor David Remnick, CBS News correspondent Lara Logan, Univision News boss Isaac Lee, and many other prominent journalists.

"Trump has consistently demonstrated a contempt for the role of the press beyond offering publicity to him and advancing his interests," the group said. "For this reason CPJ is taking the unprecedented step of speaking out now."

"This is not about picking sides in an election," the statement added. "This is recognizing that a Trump presidency represents a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history."

The committee made the point that the United States is cited by journalists in other countries as a model of free expression and journalistic freedom.

A Trump presidency could erode those rights in America and have consequences for journalists in other countries as well, CPJ said.

The resolution listed specific examples of Trump showing "disregard" for the press, including his past denial of press credentials to certain news outlets (a practice he has since stopped) and his refusal to "condemn attacks on journalists by his supporters."

"Throughout his campaign, Trump has routinely made vague proposals to limit basic elements of press and internet freedom," the group said, including by talking about wanting to "open up our libel laws," thereby making it easier to sue news organizations.

(Brian Stelter. “Donald Trump has 'betrayed First Amendment values,' journalism advocates say.” CNN. October 13, 2016.)

Then, after the election in a high-profile meeting at Trump Tower on November 21, President-elect Trump lashed out at several top media executives and their outlets.

The New York Post reported that the meeting was attended by Lester Holt and Chuck Todd of NBC News; George Stephanopoulos, David Muir, and Martha Raddatz of ABC News; Charlie Rose and Gayle King of CBS News; Jeff Zucker and Erin Burnett of CNN; and others from MSNBC and Fox News.

A person with knowledge of the meeting, which the participants agreed not to talk about, told the Post the journalists went in thinking they would discuss "the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down."

Trump reportedly called the media "dishonest, deceitful liars," and told Zucker he hates CNN, adding that everyone there is a "liar" and Zucker should be "ashamed" of himself. Without naming Katy Tur, Trump brought up an "NBC female correspondent who got it wrong, then he referred to a horrible network correspondent who cried when Hillary [Clinton] lost who hosted a debate — which was Martha Raddatz," the Post's sources recount.

(Chris Sanchez. “DRAMA: Trump reportedly explodes at media bigwigs in off-record meeting.” Business Insider. November 21, 2016.) 

All of this has caused New Yorker editor David Remnick to say, “The fight for press freedom is also quite close to home (than abroad). It’s right here. The advocates for limiting that freedom have made their feelings very well known. And we have all heard the anti-media rhetoric, the attacks on journalists, the exclusion of reporters viewed as unfriendly during the presidential campaign.”
It is very ironic that Donald Trump would call anyone else a “deceitful liar.” He supported the insane birther rumor about President Obama; he claimed the 2016 Presidential Eection was rigged and millions voted illegally; he told a story about thousands of Muslims celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers on rooftops in Jersey City; he claimed President Obama started ISIS; he said he never sexually assaulted women while bragging about grabbing their pussies... on and on.

Alexandra Ellerbeck, research associate in the Committee to Protect Journalists' Americas program, says ...

Politicians have a right to criticize the media, and they cannot be held responsible for the existence of online trolls. But when they incite supporters to insult or threaten journalists, whether intentionally or by accident, the impact on press freedom is real.”
 
(Alexandra Ellerbeck. “Why Trump's insults of journalists must be taken seriously.” Committee to Protect Journalists. May 18, 2016.)

Countries that allow leaders to launch vicious ad hominem attacks on journalists expose these journalists to unnecessary risks. And, Ellerbeck warns “stirring up antagonism toward the press can be a prelude to introducing restrictive media legislation – all reasons that Trump's behavior warrants close public scrutiny.”

So, now, it is time for journalists to come together as watchdogs of the First Amendment. They are under a direct attack. If Trump truly wants to improve journalism as it relates to facts, opinions, and unbiased reporting, he should encourage the public to be better informed by comparing various sources and researching all views. In my opinion, he lacks the substance and character to promoting open-mindedness. His threats and bluster betray his narrow interests. Too bad this act appeals to so many who stand to lose their fair share of freedom by supporting him.

“The press doesn't stop publishing, by the way, in a fascist escalation; it simply watches what it says. That too can be an incremental process, and the pace at which the free press polices itself depends on how journalists are targeted.”

--Naomi Wolf, American author, journalist and political advisor

Burning Flags And Trump Tweets -- Freedoms and Limitations


 

Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”

President-elect Donald Trump, tweeting on November 29, 2016

Trump did not say what specifically inspired his words, but they come just days after Hampshire College in western Massachusetts decided to remove the American flag from the campus's main flagpole after someone there burned one in protest of Trump’s election victory over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The flag was not outright banned from campus as some popular media sites claim. And, the campus did not announce that the flag was a symbol of oppression; The flag was not removed in protest of Donald Trump.

Before the flag was raised again, however, someone took the flag down and burned it. Hampshire explained:
We intended to raise the flag again this morning, on Veteran's Day, also out of respect. Hampshire is home to a multiplicity of perspectives and life experiences, and among us are both students and employees who have served (and currently serve) in the military. However, this morning we discovered that the flag was burned overnight and, as a result, veterans and others in out community will come to campus to find the flagpole empty. We are deeply saddened that the flag is absent and the reason for its absence.”
(Dan Evon. “Flag Learning.” snopes.com. November 23, 2016.)
I hate to see anyone burn the American flag in protest. The flag is perhaps the strongest symbol of American identity and national pride. It deserves respect. To see someone desecrate it and all for which it stands is particularly repulsive.
However …
Mr. Trump needs to understand that his tweet counters a cornerstone of freedom for citizens of this country. Even while we view those who burn the flag as despicable, misguided protesters, we cannot assume they are criminals who deserve a harsh punishment. Although the issue provokes a controversial debate over the national symbol, free speech is protected as is protection from cruel and unusual punishment.
The Supreme Court has twice affirmed the right to desecrate the American flag as a form of free speech in cases before the high court in 1989 and 1990.

In “Texas v. Johnson” (1989), the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that flag burning was a form of "symbolic speech" protected by the First Amendment. The ruling came after an appeal from Gregory Johnson, who had been convicted by a Texas court of violating a state law that prohibited the "desecration of a venerated object" such as the US flag.

The man Trump reveres – the late Justice Antonin Scalia – sided with the protesters. He said he based his ruling on a “textual” reading of the Constitution.

“If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag,” Scalia said in 2015 in Philadelphia. “But I am not king.”

(Louis Nelson. “Trump calls for jailing, revoking citizenship of flag-burners.” Politico. November 29, 2016.)

Then, in “United States v. Eichman” (1990), the top court again affirmed the right to burn the flag when it ruled 5-4 that the Flag Protection Act of 1989 -- passed by Congress in response to the Johnson decision -- was unconstitutional.
Reverence for the flag is ingrained in every schoolchild. The flag is so revered because it represents the land of the free, and that freedom includes the ability to use or abuse that flag in protest. As the supreme symbol of the land, the flag also represents the utmost vehicle for protest.
Trump's next unguided point -- Can the United States strip legally a person's citizenship? No. A 1958 Supreme Court decision rejected the practice of stripping U.S. citizenship as a form of criminal punishment. 

Also there is Afroyim v. Rusk (5–4 decision) in 1967. The court's majority held that "Congress has no power under the Constitution to divest a person of his United States citizenship absent his voluntary renunciation thereof." Justice Black wrote ...

"'All persons born or naturalized in the United States ... are citizens of the United States....' There is no indication in these words of a fleeting citizenship, good at the moment it is acquired but subject to destruction by the Government at any time. Rather the Amendment can most reasonably be read as defining a citizenship which a citizen keeps unless he voluntarily relinquishes it. Once acquired, this Fourteenth Amendment citizenship was not to be shifted, canceled, or diluted at the will of the Federal Government, the States, or any other governmental unit.”

(“U.S. May Not Revoke Citizenship, Court Says.” Los Angeles Times. May 30, 1967.)

The fact that Trump wants to curb First Amendment protections is distressing, to say the least. It is a pattern worth noting. The flag tweet follows his prior opposition to free speech – blacklisting reporters who fell out of favor with his campaign and his suggestion that he would “open up” libel laws to make it easier to sue the news media.

(John Wagner. “Trump suggests loss of citizenship or jail for those who burn U.S. flags.” The Washington Post. November 29, 2016.)

If Donald Trump wants to serve as president, not as king, he must respect the law, and he should refrain from tweeting like some half-baked, uniformed dissident. These kinds of outbursts simply deepen the divide he has already created. Naturally, now Trump will defend his comments without regard for concession. That is his modus operandi – to speak without thinking, rebuke all who oppose his statements, and refuse to correct his own misspeaks. 


Monday, November 28, 2016

Trump and Alex Jones -- "Lords of Conspiracy"


 

In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Donald Trump, November 27, 2016

This statement is classic Donald Trump. It is his response to Hillary Clinton’s campaign saying it will participate in a recount effort being undertaken in Wisconsin by Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, and potentially in similar pushes in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Trump furthered the accusation by saying in a subsequent tweet that there was "serious voter fraud" in Virginia, New Hampshire, and California.

Of course, before he won the presidency in the Electoral College vote, Trump insisted the election, the system, the media, the government, and most likely the entire world was “rigged” against him. Since then, he has softened his rhetoric about many government officials and political issues.

However, this “kinder, gentler Donald” is predictable since he has gotten his way. Feeling some resistance once more, his narcissism demands he make excuses and blame someone … anyone … for his shortcomings. After all, he constantly reminded the American public that he hates “losers.” He would never see himself in that category, even when he belongs there. Many see this as a classic flaw in his highly unpredictable character.

Trump's comment about the popular vote is ridiculous. Snopescom, PundiFact, PolitiFact, and Factcheck.org have examined this claim, and all deny any credibility. Simply put, there is no evidence that “millions of people” voted illegally in the 2016 Election. It matters little toTrump. He has a history of complaining about votes – remember despite lacking strong evidence, he also alleged voter fraud in the Florida Republican presidential primary and in the Iowa caucuses.

Yet, sources eager to cater to partisan groups and deal in falsehoods – sources such as Infowars.com – print the lies without any regard for the facts. And, like the voracious swelled head he is, Donald Trump gobbles them up and rehashes them in defense of himself.

(Glenn Kessler. “Trump’s bogus claim that “millions of people” voted illegally for Hillary Clinton. The Washington Post. November 27, 2016.)

Infowars has claimed after the election that close to 3 million votes were cast by immigrants living in the US illegally.

Infowars is the website of Alex Jones – American radio show host, documentary filmmaker, writer, and conspiracy theorist. In fact, New York magazine described Jones as "America's leading conspiracy theorist,” and the Southern Poverty Law Center describes him as "the most prolific conspiracy theorist in contemporary America.”

The SPLC says …

Time after time, he warns without any evidence that terrorist attacks — from 9/11 to the Boston Marathon bombings to the 2013 Washington Navy Yard mass murder — are actually 'false flag' operations by our government or evil 'globalist' forces planning to take over the world.”

(“Alex Jones.” Southern Poverty Law Center. 2016.)

Donald Trump often uses Alex Jones as an actual news source. And Jones, himself, says Trump called to thank him and his followers for their support after the election. Of course, that was after Trump's appearance on Jones' radio show in 2015 during which Trump praised Jones and said …

Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down. You will be very, very impressed, I hope. I think we’ll be speaking a lot but you’ll be looking to me in a year or two years, let’s give me a little bit of time to run things, but a year into office you’ll be saying, ‘Wow, I remember that interview, he said he was going to do it and he did a great job.’”
 
(Tina Nguyen. “Donald Trump to Prominent Conspiracy Theorist: 'Your Reputation Is Amazing.'” Vanity Fair. December 02, 2016.)

Jones even claims the shooting Sandy Hook Elementary School was a “false flag” ops secretly perpetrated by the government to increase its tyrannical power. Jones believes that no one was actually hurt at Sandy Hook—those were actors. He also maintains that the Apollo 11 moon-landing footage was faked. And, of course, he gained national traction on the American right by promoting the “birtherism” fabrication that President Obama was born outside the United States.

How about the information read and subscribed to by Donald Trump?

During the Presidential Campaign, Olivia Nuzzi of Gentleman's Quarterly was granted a story about Hope Hicks, “the 27-year-old accidental press secretary for Donald Trump.” Nuzzi reports ..

Getting the most out of the star requires keeping him informed. While Trump nurses an obvious addiction to cable news, the reading that's put in front of him is largely confined to a topic he already knows well. Every morning, staffers print out 30 to 50 Google News results for 'Donald J. Trump.' He then goes at the sheaf with a marker, making circles and arrows and annotating things he likes or doesn't like. The defaced article gets scanned and e-mailed to the journalist or the person quoted who has drawn Trump's attention, under the subject line 'From the office of Donald J. Trump.'

As for what arrives in Hicks's in-box, a typical day brings upwards of 250 media requests. Usually, she alone decides who gets in and who's kept out. But sometimes it's Trump who plays bouncer for his own private party. 'She sees the tantrums, and there are tantrums,' a source who's been with Trump and Hicks told me. 
 
He reads something he doesn't like by a reporter, and it's like, ‘This motherfucker! All right, fine. Hope?’ He circles it. ‘This guy's banned! He's banned for a while.’ That's exactly how it works.” 
 
Hicks plays parole officer to an extensive and expanding blacklist of outlets and reporters no longer welcome at his events.

(Olivia Nuzzi. “The Mystifying Triumph of Hope Hicks, Donald Trump’s Right-Hand Woman.” GQ. June 20, 2016.)

What in the world? Donald Trump claims the election was rigged; however, he is giving Hillary Clinton hell for supporting a recount by Jill Stein. Trump is supposed to be presidential and supportive of the populace, yet he lies about the outcome of the election?

It seems Stein’s intervention is an expensive gimmick to promote the Green party. Amid questions from some quarters about how the money would be used, her fundraising site said: “If we raise more than what’s needed, the surplus will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform.”

(Amanda Holpuch and Jon Swaine. “Jill Stein requests Wisconsin recount, alleging hackers filed bogus absentee ballots. The Guardian. November 25, 2016.)

So, Donald, keep sputtering, squawking, and spinning stories. With the help of Alex Jones and other fellow conspirators, you can likely make your faithful believe anything you wish. And, I guess you want us all to think you won not only the Electoral College, but also all of the primaries, the popular vote, and the hearts of the American people. Talk about a pack of unfounded suppositions.

Keep believing what you want, President-elect Trump, because it is evident you occupy yourself with building an image of integrity that you have never possessed. I know you believe you are a leader who will make unbelievable deals to make America great again. The problem is your vanity and your pride are the only instruments you employ to seek favor. Your spite is as predictable as the next argument or challenge you encounter.

Responsibility: A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one's neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star.”

~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Schools Protest Against Trump Trauma

 
No mandate exists that forces Americans to stop their protest and resistance to a Trump presidency. There has been an outpouring of opposition to President-elect Donald Trump, especially from students young and old. Now, supporters of Trump call upon an end to this unrest. Yet, public schools and colleges have long been the front line of many of the nation’s most important societal battlegrounds.
Jeff Bryant of OurFuture.org says ...
Much of the class conflict that ignited during the Great Depression and spawned the New Deal was foretold by the challenges schools faced in educating the massive influx of poor, uneducated immigrant children into the country in the early decades of the 20th century.

In the 1950s and 60s, school desegregation was an epicenter in the Civil Rights Movement that produced landmark Supreme Court decisions such as Brown v Board of Education and Schwann v Charlotte-Mecklenberg.

Today, public schools – where non-white students outnumber their white peers and a majority live in poverty – are the nascent sign of the increasing diversity and inequality in the country. It’s no coincidence that the current Supreme Court case considering the rights of transgender individuals in public places arose from an incident in a public school.

So public schools, as long as they stay truly public, are often the first institutions to reflect society’s most important social changes. In this new era under the oncoming Trump regime, student protests are telling us something is very wrong.”

(Jeff Bryant. “What Student Protests Tell Us About America Under Trump.” OurFuture.org. November 18, 2016.)

What are the students saying?
  • They feel unsafe.
  • They feel they “don't have a say” and they want “to be heard.”
  • They feel they are protesting against hate.
  • They feel Trump doesn't “represent them.”
  • They feel Trump represents bigotry, hate, and division in America.

Trump Has Brought Trauma to Schools


There is little doubt that Trump's campaign and subsequent election have brought trauma into public education at all levels. Much of that is based on Trump's racist, xenophibic, misogynistic messages according to Emily Bazelon of The New York Times and senior research fellow at Yale Law School. 
 
“The country has elected a man who threaded racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic messages and mockery of disabled people through his campaign,” Emily Bazelon writes in the The New York Times. “Donald J. Trump’s victory gives others license to do the same.”

Bazelon explains that Trump targeted for insults and inflammatory rhetoric those “being non-white, gay, or disabled” and those “most apt to be bullied and abused” in schools. As proof that these attacks have dramatically increased since Trump's election, sources cite new incidents being “out of control.”

Edwin Rios of Mother Jones reports ...

“In the week since Donald Trump's election, a rash of racist, anti-Muslim, and anti-Semitic incidents—from chants of "Build that wall!" to swastika graffiti—have surged inside classrooms, on college campuses, and in communities around the country.

“As of Monday (November 14), the Southern Poverty Law Center had collected more than 400 allegations of election-related intimidation and harassment nationwide. The SPLC has been sounding the alarm for months about the so-called 'Trump effect' in America's schools—the rise of classroom bullying and harassment driven, at least in part, by the antagonistic rhetoric of the presidential campaign—and more than one-third of the incidents it has tracked took place at K-12 schools or universities.”

(Edwin Rios. “Bullying in Schools Is Out of Control Since Election Day.” Mother Jones. November 16, 2016.)

Hate Speech

Afro-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, Jews, Asians, women, gays, lesbians, transgenders – Trump has slandered them all with vicious verbal attacks in the name of fighting against political correctness. Taking his hatred to heart, bigots and racists are mounting new campaigns they believe have the support of the president-elect.

For example, at Texas State University, police confirmed they are investigating reports of threatening fliers posted on campus by alleged supporters of president-elect Donald Trump.
The fliers depict men in camouflage, wielding guns and an American flag. They appeared in men’s restrooms throughout Texas State University: “Now that our man Trump is elected,” they said. “Time to organize tar and feather vigilante squads and go arrest and torture those deviant university leaders spouting off that diversity garbage.”

(Caitlin Dickerson and Stephanie Saul. “Campuses Confront Hostile Acts Against Minorities After Donald Trump’s Election.” The New York Times. November 10, 2016.)

In addition to hyping up race- and gender-based harassment and abuse, Trump’s campaign rhetoric has put many immigrants in fear of being deported or having members of their families abducted by the state.

The Protests

Donald Trump won the election in the Electoral College, but he did not win the popular vote. The nation remains divided. Many people still do not trust him or his appointed cabinet to lead the nation. Although now he tells his supporters to stop spreading hatred, those same supporters tell opponents to “suck it up, buttercup,” as if those who still question Trump must respond upon command. In truth, Trump and his proponents cannot easily undo the damage caused by their vicious remarks.

In the face of those who call them “thugs” and “criminals,” students positively engage in the process of peaceful protest against a Trump presidency. They have many legitimate reasons for expressing unrest. As they assemble to draw attention to their cause, they put real faces and important voices in action. Their protests invite persuasion and encourage change.

Senator Bernie Sanders says …

“People are angry. People are upset. And they want to express their point of view that they are very frightened, in very, very strong disagreement with Mr Trump, who has made bigotry the cornerstone of his campaign.

“I think that people are saying, ‘Mr Trump, we have come too far in this country fighting discrimination and bigotry. We’re not going back. And if you’re going to continue that effort, you’re going to have to take us on.’”

(Shehab Kahn. “Bernie Sanders supports anti-Donald Trump protests: 'People are angry.'” The Independent. November 14, 2016.)

Soon, the oath of office will be administered by Chief Justice John Roberts, a fellow-Republican whom Trump has described as a “disaster” and a “nightmare” because of the Supreme Court’s rulings to uphold the Affordable Care Act. So, don't expect the protests to end anytime soon. Trump will face many others whom he lambasted with cruel and unusual ferocity. His words will haunt him as he keeps calling upon these people to unify behind his leadership.

 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Trump and DeVos Put Public Schools At Risk


 

We are rated 28 in the world, the United States, think of it! Twenty-eight in the world. And frankly we spend far more per pupil than any other country in the world, by far; it’s not even a close second. The U.S. is performing so badly that some 'Third World countries' are beating it.”

Donald Trump, January 2016

The words of the president-elect condemn public education in the United States. As an ex-teacher who has many family members still working in the field of education, I view Trump's condemnation as an affront. Why?

American educators work very hard to assure all receive a good public education while so many of the countries that reportedly do much better than us distribute information that pertains to a particular segment of their population. Comparing U.S. students to students in these countries often reveals different standards of measurement.

And, without a doubt, American public education offers much more than basic skills development unlike so many foreign programs. For example, opportunities for socialization and extracurriculars in our schools continue to build character in American youth. Both a broad range of course offerings and endless clubs, teams, and activities remain important features in education. 

Education historian Diane Ravitch argues that the biggest crisis facing public education is the relentless message that public education is in crisis – a message constantly emanating from people like politicians, lobbyists, and CEOs. And, this is a message that comes from many of the privileged like Donald Trump.

Any teacher knows living with this criticism is part of their job description. Since American public teachers' daily flocks are comprised of children with every conceivable learning level and capability, working in the trenches requires incredible flexibility and adaptation. Public schools tout success after success; however, it seems only criticism makes headlines.

Ravitch sees the debate about the quality of education as a message concerning the broad power to shape the nation’s $600-billion-a-year investment in public education. And, she claims the truth is not always easy to discern. In fact, sometimes the criticisms are just plain false. She says the public is encouraged to look at four key talking points — and the facts (and spin) behind them:

1. China is eating us for lunch
2. Kids can't do math and it's killing our economy,3. We're spending more but schools are getting worse.
4. It's not an education problem, it's an equity problem.

After examining theses points, Ravitch comes to the conclusion that “corporate reformers” and “privatizers” have a vested interest in making it sound like teachers and schools are failing so they’ll be invited to run their own schools or sell educational technology at a profit.”

(Stephanie Simon. “Maybe U.S. public schools don't stink.” Politico. September 21, 2013.)

And Now, Trump

What promise does the new Trump administration hold for teachers in America's public schools? The general public may be very interesting in finding out the truth – this election may spell troubled times for those who love and support public education. If Trump has his way, private education may receive much more support while public instruction dwindles.

First, it is important to understand Republicans won a record number of legislative sports – a historic high for governorships. In addition Republicans will control two-thirds of the state legislative chambers – another all-time high. The GOP will control both legislative chambers in 32 states. And, 25 states will have Republican control of the executive branch and both legislative chambers.

Of course, this kind of control certainly suggests the dominate Republican makeup of state governments along with the Trump presidency will greatly influence educational policy.

Most experts are predicting more school-choice legislation, greater conflict over education funding, and increased challenges to teacher-tenure laws. 

The states have always controlled education policy in this country. Given the Trump administration’s priorities, Kenneth Wong, a professor of education and politics at Brown University, predicted that the federal government would continue to take a backseat to the states.

Trump and his advisors will shape the states' agendas on the national stage to advocate for those state-level programs. Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, for example, might encourage states to expand on initiatives that he spearheaded as Governor of Indiana, according to Wong, including new procedures for measuring student growth – through things like testing – and for holding teachers accountable for student performance. Pence also pushed to increase funding for quality charter schools while shutting down the failing ones, and expanded the state’s school voucher program.

(Laura McKenna. “How the GOP's Sweep in the States Will Shape America's Schools.” The Atlantic. November 25, 2016.)

Trump has promised tax cuts, so experts like Wong see that as a sign states will receive less money to spend on schools. In turn, states will be struggling to fund their education priorities. It is likely this means more conflict about the allocation of resources, especially in cities and urban centers because Republicans will likely give less to cities and more to areas with higher numbers of Republican voters.

Trump Chooses Betsy DeVos

It would seem the direction for education is clear since the nomination of Betsy DeVos.

Betsy DeVos, Trump's pick for educational cabinet secretary is reportedly one of the most passionate proponents of steering public dollars away from traditional public schools. She graduated from a private, Christian high school in Michigan and attended a private college, according to Yahoo. For nearly 30 years as an educational advocate, she has pushed to give families taxpayer money in the form of vouchers to attend private and parochial schools while trying to strip teacher unions of their influence.

The New York Times reports: “DeVos’s efforts to expand educational opportunity in her home state of Michigan and across the country have focused little on existing public schools, and almost entirely on establishing newer, more entrepreneurial models to compete with traditional schools for students and money. Her donations and advocacy go almost entirely toward groups seeking to move students and money away from what Mr. Trump calls 'failing government schools.'”

(Kate Zernike. “Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Education Pick, Has Steered Money From Public Schools.” The New York Times. November 23, 2016.)

Kate Zernike also reports …

“... if Michigan is a center of school choice, it is also among the worst places to argue that choice has made schools better. As the state embraced and then expanded charters over the past two decades, its rank has fallen on national reading and math tests. Most charter schools perform below the state average.

“And a federal review in 2015 found 'an unreasonably high' percentage of charter schools on the list of the state’s lowest-performing schools. The number of charter schools on that list had doubled since 2010, after the passage of a law a group financed by Ms. DeVos pushed to expand the schools. The group blocked a provision in that law that would have prevented failing schools from expanding or replicating....

DeVos-backed group was the chief force behind the defeat of legislation that would have established standards for identifying and closing failing schools, both charter and public, in Detroit, where a flood of charter schools in the past decade has created what even charter school supporters call chaos.” 
 
Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the president of the National Education Association (largest labor union in the United States – 3 million members) slammed the choice of DeVos, saying it would undermine public education. DeVos "has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education," Eskelsen Garcia said in a statement. 
 
Garcia continued, saying, "By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities."
Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the Interfaith Alliance, called the pick "deeply disappointing. It suggests that he has little regard for our nation's public schools or the constitutional principle of separation of church and state."

(Eric Westervelt. “Trump Chooses Betsy DeVos For Education Secretary. National Public Radio. November 23, 2016.)

And, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (1.6 million members) said,“The president-elect, in his selection of Betsy DeVos, has chosen the most ideological, anti-public education nominee put forward since President Carter created a Cabinet-level Department of Education. Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.” 

The group says with DeVos as the pick, it means the country is “far from ensuring that every child has the option of a great public education” and warned some that “have it now will lose it.”

(Margaret Chadbourn. “What We Know About Betsy DeVos' Views on Education. ABC News. November 23, 2016.)

What Direction Home?

Do you smell what's cooking? Could that aroma be part of the con job readily accepted by the voting public because they somehow felt that a Trump administration was going to better conditions for the average American? In fact, how many educators across the country voted for Trump never realizing the effect of his presidency on their profession? Of course, “private” is a word associated with Trump in many ways. Now, he intends to bring that exclusion to public education.

Now, if you support Trump on education, you must believe private school vouchers provide students and parents with real and meaningful choice. Yet, private schools can reject students based on numerous factors – economic status, gender, religion, academic achievement, sexual orientation, and even disability. Public schools, on the other hand, are required to accept all students.

Some students have even less choice than others. Students with disabilities often aren’t guaranteed the same services in the voucher school that they would ordinarily receive in a public school and can find few voucher schools that offer them the services they need.

Studies consistently show that private school vouchers don't improve reading and math achievement. For example, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – the country’s oldest voucher program – a recent study shows that the students in the voucher program do no better in reading or math than their peers in public schools. These figures were based on annual statewide test scores reported in 2011 through 2014; and a study by researchers based at the University of Arkansas

Such studies support the general claim that no research shows that vouchers are going to improve student learning.

(Tom Kertscher. “No evidence that choice students outperform public school students, Mary Burke says.” Politifact. May 28th, 2014.) 
 
Similarly in Louisiana, 67% of public school students pass their standardized tests, whereas only 44% of voucher students do. Louisiana has the fifth-largest voucher program in the country.

(Lauren Camera. “Louisiana Voucher Program Leaves Students Behind, One Study Shows” U.S. News. February 03, 2016.)

Vouchers and privatization also present the very real threat that school buildings, themselves, will lack appropriate amenities because many of them operate from less-than-modern facilities. In support of this claim, the District of Columbia voucher program had a similar problem: students in a school accepting vouchers in D.C. had to go to the day care center downstairs because the school’s only bathroom wasn’t usable.

Are you content to help public education achieve even more in our own community? No doubt, schools have problems with many things, many of which are directly related to lack of funding. Or are you a supporter of Trump's educational philosophy? Donald Trump is not a fan of public schools. He is a product of a privileged family, and he has chosen an education secretary who is married to Dick DeVos, heir to the Amway fortune, and who is product of private schooling.

Think, for a moment, of the schools in our own county that will suffer under the Trump plan – Portsmouth, Bloom-Vernon, Wheelersburg, Valley, Minford, Northwest, Portsmouth West, Clay, Green … more. As an ex-public school teacher, I am proud to say I supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential Election. If you didn't, you still may want to fight for public education as it suffers attack and possible reform based on faulty reasoning.

 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Clinton Loses But Wins By Biggest Popular Vote Margin in History



Can you explain from the top of your head just how the Electoral College makes a candidate President of the United States?  Uh, huh, I didn't think so. A vote is a vote, isn't it? After all, we live in a democracy, don't we? Nope and nope and nope.

Hillary Clinton's margin in the popular vote against President-elect Donald Trump has surpassed 2 million, furthering the record for a candidate who lost in the Electoral College.

Thanks to votes still being counted in California and other western areas, Clinton's vote advantage hit the 2 million mark on November 23, 2016, according to Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report.

Wasserman's spread sheet had Clinton at 64,225,863 votes to Trump's 62,210,612.

(David M. Jackson. “Clinton's lead passes the 2 million mark.” USA Today. November 23, 2016.)

This is not the first time a candidate won the popular vote but lost the election. It has happened four other times in our nation’s history:
  • In 1824 Andrew Jackson won the popular vote but got less than 50 percent of the electoral votes. John Quincy Adams became the next president when he was picked by the House of Representatives. Jackson got 38,221 more votes than Adams.
No candidate won a majority of the electoral votes. The House of Representatives selected John Quincy Adams as president. (Jackson won the election four years later.)
  • In 1876 Samuel Tilden won the popular vote but lost the election when Rutherford B. Hayes got 185 electoral votes to Tilden’s 184. Tilden got 252,666 more votes than Hayes.
Tilden narrowly won the popular vote over Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes, but twenty contested electoral votes prevented either man from winning a majority of electors. In a compromise that ended the federal occupation of the South that had begun after the Civil War, Congress certified all twenty contested votes as having been cast for Hayes.
  • In 1888 Grover Cleveland won the popular vote but lost the election when Benjamin Harrison got 233 electoral votes to Cleveland’s 168. Cleveland got 94,530 more votes than Harrison.
Cleveland's support was largely regional: he won large majorities in several southern states, which raised his popular vote totals but won him few electoral votes.
  • In 2000 Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election to George Bush. In the most highly contested election in modern history, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount of ballots, giving Bush the state’s 25 electoral votes for a total of 271 to Gore’s 255. Gore got 543,816 more votes than Bush.
The vote was so close that Gore, thinking he had lost, conceded, then retracted his concession as more votes were counted. Because the vote in Florida, a decisive state, was so close, multiple recounts were held, and the Supreme Court had to settle a lawsuit over whether recounts should continue.

(Michael P. McDonald. “National General Election VEP Turnout Rates, 1789-Present.” June 11, 2014.)

(Gerhard Peters. “Voter Turnout In Presidential Elections.” 1999-2016.)

(David Walbert. “Does my vote count? Understanding the electoral college.” learnnc.org. 2016.)

So What?

Some of the founders wondered if it would be wise to permit average citizens to vote but wanted to stay true to their republican principles (The people would govern themselves only through elected representatives.). Because the role of the president was so important, most of the framers thought that the people couldn't be trusted to elect the president directly. The Electoral College was their answer.

Because the system is written into the Constitution, an amendment would be required to alter the process. Each state’s electoral votes are counted in a joint session of Congress on the 6th of January in the year following the meeting of the electors. Members of the House and Senate meet in the House chamber to conduct the official tally of electoral votes.

Many critics of the electoral system say it violates the basic principle of voters electing the president, so the winner should be the candidate who wins the most popular votes. In reality, there is no national election for president, only separate state elections to garner a majority of electoral votes 
 
Those who support the electoral system claim it encourages candidates to campaign across many states, rather than focusing on the huge states, such as California or Texas. Still, in practice, presidential candidates tend to ignore states where one party already dominates and focus on the few select states that are deemed to be “battlegrounds” where either party might prevail.

One possibility for changing the system is the National Popular Vote bill. The Constitution says states may decide on their own how to allocate their electoral votes, and a reform group is calling for states to agree by law to allocate all of their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. So far, 11 states, including California, New York and Illinois, have said they would support this proposal. But the idea has won little traction in the Republican-leaning red states.

Is it fair to lose the election to the Electoral College while winning the popular vote? The answer to that question may depend upon where you live.

According to Dr. David Walbert, editorial and web Director of LEARN NC, your vote counts more if you live in a small state like Alaska than it does if you live in a big state like California. Walbert explains ...

Alaska, a very small state, has far fewer residents per electoral vote than the national average, so individual votes cast in Alaska count more than the national average — twice as much, in fact! A voter in California has a little less influence than the average American, about 83% as much. A voter in North Carolina has about 91% the influence of the average American. (You can calculate weight of vote in a given state by dividing the national average of residents per elector by that state's residents per elector. Since we're comparing each state to the national average, the weight of vote for the entire United States is exactly 1.00.

While every American's vote counts, then, This seems like a paradox, because clearly a big state as a whole has more influence than a small state. If you're running for president, you are more concerned about winning California, with its 54 electoral votes, than you are about winning Alaska with its 3 electoral votes. As a matter of strategy, you'd probably spend more time and money campaigning in the big states than in smaller states. As a result, residents of big states tend to get more attention in presidential elections than residents of small states, and so small-staters may feel left out and unimportant. Yet in reality, each individual voter has less influence in a big state than in a small state.”

(David Walbert. “Does my vote count? Understanding the electoral college.” learnnc.org. 2016.)

I can't imagine the struggle government and history teachers have in teaching young adults the facts about the voting system used in presidential elections. I doubt if even many adults could explain in full just how the Electoral College works. Just as alarming to much of the under-informed public is the fact that America is a republic, not a democracy – even though the Pledge of Allegiance contains the words “I pledge allegiance... to the republic, for which it stands,” I dare say a vast minority understands that commitment. 

“Liberty and justice for all” as it applies to the Electoral College and the election of the president is debatable, especially considering the reasons for the its inception. Once more the country has a leader who lost the popular vote. I would bet you think the system is “great” or “terrible” depending upon the candidate for which you cast a vote.