AMERICAblog NewsAMERICAblog News http://americablog.com A great nation deserves the truth // One of America's top progressive sites for news and opinion Fri, 21 Apr 2017 16:58:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 100 Chechen gays kidnapped, tortured, arrested in growing Russian pogrom http://americablog.com/2017/04/100-chechen-gays-kidnapped-tortured-arrested-growing-russian-pogrom.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/100-chechen-gays-kidnapped-tortured-arrested-growing-russian-pogrom.html#comments Fri, 21 Apr 2017 16:58:58 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142257 The NYT has a blockbuster story today about the growing anti-gay pogrom in Russian Chechnya.

Chechen authorities, who claim that homosexuality doesn’t exist in Chechnya — a popular trope among anti-LGBT regimes — have been arresting and/or kidnapping, and torturing, gay men across the region. One hundred gay men have reportedly been ensnared in the crackdown so far, and three have died.

The Chechen government, led by the pro-Kremlin Ramzan A. Kadyrov, has adopted a technique used previously by its Russian overlords: They entrap young gays via online chat rooms. When the gay men show up at someone’s apartment for a secret meet-up, they are accosted by the authorities who detain them for anywhere from a day to several weeks. They are then hooked up to electrodes and interrogated.

Russian vigilantes kidnap and attack a young gay Russian they first stalked on a local social media site.

Vladimir Putin’s government did something similar a few years back, when it used neo-Nazi gangs to kidnap and torture gay men. The abductions were filmed and then posted on Russian social media, in order to extort and humiliate the men. The Russian neo-Nazis claimed to have kidnapped 1,500 men. It was only after western media began to publicize the story in the UK and the US that the Russian government cracked down on the gangs.

As it did during the neo-Nazi kidnappings, the Russian government is denying that any anti-gay crimes are occurring in Chechnya. More from the NYT:

Chechnya marked in red.

In a televised meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Wednesday, Mr. Kadyrov characterized as “libelous” news reports that the security services in Chechnya had been persecuting gay men.

And on Thursday, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told journalists that the Russian authorities had found no evidence that the Chechen police had arrested gay men.

The Russian government also denied the neo-Nazi kidnappings, even though dozens of videos of the crimes were online, in which the kidnappers openly confessed to their crimes.

Trump UN ambassador Nikki Haley criticized the Chechen crackdown, but failed to mention Russia in her statement. Chechnya is a part of Russia.

 

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

 

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
Trump threatens govt shutdown if Americans don’t pay for wall Trump said Mexico would pay for http://americablog.com/2017/04/trump-threatens-govt-shutdown-americans-dont-pay-wall-trump-said-mexico-pay.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/trump-threatens-govt-shutdown-americans-dont-pay-wall-trump-said-mexico-pay.html#comments Fri, 21 Apr 2017 16:00:41 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142245 Donald Trump is demanding that the American people fund the “wall” with Mexico, or he may shut down the entire government and cut off Obamacare payments for poor Americans’ health coverage.

In other words, Trump is threatening to hold the American people hostage unless we let him break a major campaign promise.

I’d reported previously on Trump’s threat to cut off the Affordable Care Act payments for poor Americans’ health care. Well, it seems that holding sick American as human shields didn’t work very well for Trump, so now he’s holding the entire country hostage.

Trump, as you know, had repeatedly promised during the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall. Everyone knew that Mexico would never pay for the wall, but it was a convenient Trump lie, among so many, to get around the budget implications of building something so enormous. Then, after the election, Trump started to change his tune, claiming that Mexico would reimburse the American people for the wall. In other words, we were paying for it, and maybe later at some point Mexico might pay for it. That’s called bait-and-switch — you lure someone in with a promise, only to change it at the last minute.

And now, the only way Trump believes he can get the American people to pay for his broken campaign pledge is holding poor people hostage and shutting down the entire government.

Trump is a conundrum. He’s not very bright, and clearly doesn’t understand politics. But he did win the election, albeit with some help from the Russians and FBI Director Jim Comey. So, as much as we mock him, Trump shouldn’t be written off entirely — he did make it to the White House. Still, threatening a government shutdown is way out of Trump’s political league. As Trump showed during the first ACA repeal effort — having Bannon order GOP members of Congress to support Trump’s bill, as if that would do it — while his populist instincts are well honed, he still doesn’t get the politics of legislating and governing. Trump doesn’t know how to make Washington work for him. And taking on a government shutdown, when Trump is still operating with training wheels, is a recipe for disaster.

Finally, this also shows the degree to which Trump doesn’t care about the substance of any issue. He cares about himself, and his public perception. Trump is worried that his First 100 days is stacking up to be a bust. Other than Gorsuch, what has Trump really accomplished? The Muslim ban has been blocked repeatedly by the courts, the wall remains unfunded, the ACA repeal is going nowhere, and much of the government remains unstaffed because, for whatever reason, Team Trump can’t get its act together.

So Trump needs a win. And he doesn’t care about the details. Anything will suffice, regardless of whether it complements, or even contradicts, what he promised during the campaign, and regardless of who it hurts. What’s good for Trump Inc. is good for America.

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
Obamacare repeal is back: New Trump plan guts pre-existing conditions, basic benefits http://americablog.com/2017/04/obamacare-repeal-back-new-trump-plan-guts-pre-existing-conditions-basic-benefits.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/obamacare-repeal-back-new-trump-plan-guts-pre-existing-conditions-basic-benefits.html#comments Thu, 20 Apr 2017 17:06:13 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142236 Donald Trump and conservatives in the US House have reportedly come up with a new compromise to gut the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

Under the new Trump/Ryan plan, states would be able to opt-out of the ACA’s pre-existing condition protections and basic benefits requirements.

Take Action: 
1) Add your name to those demanding Congress not repeal the ACA or any of its benefits.
2). Then, follow up with an email to your members of Congress.

Pre-existing conditions protections to be removed

Under the ACA, insurance companies are no longer permitted to refuse you coverage, or charge you more for coverage, because of a pre-existing health condition. In the past, something as slight as asthma or gastritis was enough for insurance companies to refuse to sell you a plan, or to charge you an exorbitant price for lousy coverage. Under Obamacare, insurance companies must charge you the same rate they charge everyone in your geographic area and age group.

Under the new Trump/Ryan plan, states can opt-out of the pre-existing conditions requirement, and instead set up “high-risk” pools — basically, insurance ghettos. People with pre-existing conditions, from allergies to cancer, would be forced to buy insurance on a separate market where they could be charged practically anything, and there’d be no guarantee that the coverage would be any good. Many states had high-risk polls pre-Obamacare, and they routinely failed because they weren’t sufficiently funded, there were long waiting lists to even get into the pools, and people couldn’t afford the high premiums.

Basic benefits guarantee to be removed

Under the ACA, every insurance plan has to offer you a basic package of 10 essential benefits, including prescription drugs, maternity, emergency care, mental health, lab services, and more. Under the new Trump/Ryan plan, states can opt-out of the essential benefits, permitting them to pare down plans, excluding all sorts of important benefits, the way they used to.

But that’s not all the ACA did

Before the ACA, many insurance plans had annual and lifetime limits. My plan, for example, only let me buy $1,200 worth of prescription drugs per year. And while that may sound like a lot, my one asthma drug, Advair, costs around $300 or more per month.

But that’s not all. Many plans had an annual or lifetime limit on all coverage. Meaning, if you have cancer for example, you only get so much treatment per year. And after several years, they’ll eventually cut off your insurance. This happened to film critic Roger Ebert, who wrote about how his insurance had cut him off, but he was lucky enough to have multiple insurance plans because of his previous jobs.

What does this mean for you?

Well, if you stay healthy the rest of your life, don’t develop allergies, eczema, high cholesterol, asthma, heart problems, joint issues, cancer or any other health condition — and don’t care about anyone among your family or friends who might get any of those conditions — then you might be fine under the Trump/Ryan plan.

If you ever get sick, however, in any way shape or form — or anyone you love ever gets sick — they’re in trouble.

The basic compact of insurance is that you buy insurance all your life, and for many years likely pay more into it than you get out, as a form of protection against coming down with something serious like cancer, or any surgery that might cost tends of thousands of dollars (appendicitis, for example, can cost $20,000 or more, and emergency room visits routinely cost sever thousand dollars for the most benign things). Insurance is a gamble — you pay into it, hoping that you’ll never need it.

Under Trump Ryan, you’re expected to pay more into insurance than you need when you’re healthy, then when you’re finally not healthy, they dump you and charge you even more.

But I thought the ACA only applied to poor people and people who work for themselves – nope.

One thing that I’ve found confusing in the Obamacare repeal coverage is the issue of who exactly benefits from Obamacare. Much of the reporting makes it sound like the ACA only applies to people in the “marketplace,” who tend to be people who work for themselves or are unemployed or in school. In fact, many of the ACA’s protections apply to everyone.

For example, the pre-existing conditions protection protects everyone, even those at a regular job. In the past, if you had a pre-existing condition and started a new job, you might have to wait a year before your new insurance would cover that condition. Now that’s no longer the case. Also, employers didn’t have to cover all the basic benefits, now they do.

But there’s another way the Trump/Ryan bill can affect people who don’t work for themselves, or otherwise currently have insurance. What if your status changes? Meaning, what if you lose your job? When I left the UN, I wasn’t allowed to get COBRA coverage, I had to go and buy my own insurance. Without the ACA, I likely would have been turned down because of too many pre-existing conditions.

Or what if you get your insurance through your spouse’s work, and you get a divorce or your spouse dies? Then what happens? Then, you may have to go get your own insurance, and the Obamacare protections will help you massively.

One final scenario. What if you move to another state? Insurance is state-based in the US. Meaning, if you currently have Blue Cross of Illinois and move to Washington, DC, you have to end your coverage with the Illinois company and buy new insurance with the entirely separate Blue Cross company in DC. And before Obamacare, the new company in the new state could deny you, or charge you a lot more, based on your pre-existing conditions. Effectively, you can never move to another state unless you have a job with a company, and even then, pre-ACA they might not cover your existing health problems for a year.

We must save the Affordable Care Act. We know what the world was like before the ACA, and while Obamacare has its problems, it’s a lot better than the dog-eat-dog insurance market we had before.

Take Action: 
1) Add your name to those demanding Congress not repeal the ACA or any of its benefits.
2). Then, follow up with an email to your members of Congress.

* * * * *

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

 

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
Resistance works: Trump’s first 100 Days have been an unmitigated disaster for the GOP http://americablog.com/2017/04/resistance-works.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/resistance-works.html#comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 17:25:19 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142220 Think back to the night of November 8, 2016.

Democrats weren’t simply shocked and demoralized, we were terrified. Republicans controlled the presidency, the Congress, and would likely soon have a majority on the Supreme Court to boot. There was nothing Democrats could do to stop them, and if we tried, the Senate would go nuclear and make it even harder to stop the GOP juggernaut.

Adding to our fears, the Republican president-to-be was Donald Trump, a veritable nutjob with extremist views on race, immigration, climate and just about every other issue progressives hold dear, and supported by a virtual and vocal army of racists and anti-Semites.

There was a lot to be afraid of. Yet, we persevered, and then had a small victory only a few days before the inaugural: new White House appointee Monica Crowley was forced to resign as a result of a plagiarism scandal. It was a small blip, she was a b-list appointee, but still, it was clear this White House wasn’t entirely teflon after all.

Then there was Trump’s disastrous inaugural turnout, followed by massive women’s protests nationwide and Trump’s embarrassing appearance at the CIA.

Trump-obama-inaugural turnout

Again, there was a sense that maybe Trump wasn’t ten feet tall, and maybe resistance wasn’t futile.

But then, the Muslim ban was struck down by a court, and another and another.

michael flynn

Michael Flynn

Three weeks later, in mid-February, Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign over the Russia scandal. (We’re still pushing for an independent investigation of Russia. Add your name alongside the nearly 10,000 who have called for a special counsel to investigate Russia’s influence in the election.)

Around the same time, at townhalls across America, ordinary Americans turn up to scold their members of Congress for towing the Trump line on health care, and other issues.

Three weeks after that, in early March, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation after perjuring himself during his confirmation hearings.

And then, two weeks later, the Obamacare repeal failed, while a judge stayed implementation of Trump’s second iteration of the Muslim ban.

Two weeks later, House Intelligence Committee chair, Devon Nunes, is forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, following his repeated attempts to help the Trump White House on the issue.

And now, in just the past few days, we have: Jon Ossoff nearly winning a special election in deep-red Georgia; Bill O’Reilly out at Fox; former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page on the receiving end of a FISA warrant to investigate whether he was working as a Russian agent; and GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee, an a staunch Trump ally, announcing he won’t run for re-election in 2018.

During the campaign, Trump warned that we’d tire of winning. We didn’t know that Trump was talking about the Democrats. Considering how much Democrats lost last November, this growing string of successes is remarkable.

Now, I’ve always been what I call an optimistic-pessimist. As an advocate, you’re trained to spot problems that need fixing. That can sometimes come across as more whiney than constructive. But unless your soul is entirely jaded, I’d argue that for the best advocates, the whining is strategic. It’s based on the knowledge that fighting back works, and that resistance is not futile. And clearly it has worked.

Still, I’ll be the first to admit that I never expected the left to have this many successes this quickly against Trump and the GOP congress. It’s really kind of amazing. And inspiring. Other than the Gorsuch nomination, Trump has practically nothing to show for his first 100 days in office. So thank you all for stepping up and making a difference.

As Margaret Mead famously said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Onward and upward.

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

 

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
Lurid Trump dossier used to get FISA warrant on Carter Page. Why weren’t we told? http://americablog.com/2017/04/lurid-trump-dossier-used-get-fisa-warrant-page.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/lurid-trump-dossier-used-get-fisa-warrant-page.html#comments Tue, 18 Apr 2017 22:44:48 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142207 CNN is reporting that last year’s lurid dossier about Donald Trump — the one written by the former British spy — was successfully used by the FBI in order to get a FISA warrant to eavesdrop on former Trump foreign policy aide Carter Page.

Please add your name to those urging Congress to appoint a special counsel to investigate Russia’s interference in our election.

This means that before the election, the FBI had verified enough of the anti-Trump dossier to concern a judge sufficiently that he issued the warrant.

Why weren’t any of us informed? Didn’t we have the right to know that there was probable cause that a top Trump foreign policy aide (per Trump’s own words) “was acting as an agent of a foreign power, including possibly engaging in clandestine intelligence gathering for a foreign government”?

Yet the fact that the FBI was investigating Hillary for an email server, and that they were investigating her again only days before the election — only to have both investigations turns up bupkis — was national news up until election day.

This is really bad. Trump may not have won the election if the public knew the degree to which he and his staff were intertwined with Russia. From Page to Manafort to Flynn and beyond, there’s smoke and smoke and smoke. And now we learn that the FBI and a judge found probable cause that Trump hired a man who was secretly working with the Russians.

We had the right to know this before the election.

Please add your name to those urging Congress to appoint a special counsel to investigate Russia’s interference in our election.

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
Trump’s potential flip-flop on climate is good and bad http://americablog.com/2017/04/trumps-potential-flip-flop-climate-good-bad.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/trumps-potential-flip-flop-climate-good-bad.html#comments Tue, 18 Apr 2017 18:01:14 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142190 My friend Greg Sargent at the Washington Post has a nice write-up of the latest news that Donald Trump may, or may not, be preparing to flip-flop on climate change. You’ll recall that Trump had earlier declared climate change a “Chinese hoax.”

Were Trump to come around on climate change, of course that’d be a good thing. The question is whether it would be a lasting thing.

The only constant in Donald Trump’s life is Donald Trump. Self-interest rules to the day, to an extreme. And selflessness takes a back seat to ego and greed, to a superlative degree.

That’s the first thing you need to know about Donald Trump.

The second is that Trump doesn’t come across as terribly bright. He’s not shown much intellectual curiosity, and when pushed on even the basics of the world around us, Trump often gets its wrong, whether it’s not knowing what the nuclear triad is, not realizing that the current leader of North Korea was not in power during the Bush and Clinton years, or the fact that he just bombed Syria and not Iraq.(Trump told a TV reporter that he informed the Chinese leader over dessert that we had just launched cruise missiles at Iraq. He meant Syria.)

ivanka-and-jared

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Photo by Ryan Johnson.

What does this combination of selfishness and lack of intellectual acumen mean? It means that there’s a foolish inconsistency to much of Trump’s decision-making. He doesn’t understand government policy, nor does he have much of an interest in it beyond how it can benefit Trump Inc.

Thus, with the republican Obamacare repeal alternative, the ACHA, Trump didn’t care what was in the House GOP compromise or whether it fulfilled his repeated promises to secure lower prices and better coverage for everyone. Trump’s only true metric was whether passing a plan, any plan, would help his reelection in 2020. Substance be damned. (And even Trump’s reelection concerns are likely motivated in large part by concerns about the Trump brand, should he be a one-termer.)

And thus it may be with climate change, just as it was with Syria (no intervention becomes intervention), the border wall (Mexico will pay becomes we will pay), no longer locking Hillary up, deciding not to declare China a currency manipulator, calling NATO no longer obsolete, and so on. Issues that offer Trump no pecuniary gain simply don’t matter and thus have no staying power. So Trump may stake out a position based on the latest voice in his ear, but he’s just as ready to change his position later one, because he simply doesn’t care about the substance if the issue offers him no personal gain. And even if he does care, he’s simply not bright enough to make a fully-informed decision that he can stick with.

Which brings us back to climate change. It would be a huge deal if Trump decides not to pull out of the Paris climate accord. And it’s clearly good news that the Bannon wing is waning in influence, while Ivanka and Jared assert more influence. And maybe Ivanka and Jared, as family, can become a constant of, if not “moderation,” at least something less crazy and less extreme in Trump’s ever-changing inner circle.

I’m not saying I put high hopes on the wonder-twins taming the wild beast. Trump is 70 years old, and there’s no reason to expect the leopard to change its spots at this late date. And I worry about the next silver-tongued Rasputin (Wormtongue Stephen Miller comes to mind) who will inevitably lead Trump back to the dark side of his incessantly-needy psyche.

But if even for a while Trump’s kids can reign in dad’s inner demons, even slightly, I’ll take it.

 

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

 

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
Trump forgets to put hand on heart for National Anthem http://americablog.com/2017/04/trump-forgets-put-hand-heart-national-anthem.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/trump-forgets-put-hand-heart-national-anthem.html#comments Mon, 17 Apr 2017 15:24:00 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142185 Today’s White House Easter Egg Roll started with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

This being the Trump White House, there was a bit of a glitch. Trump apparently forgot to put his hand on his heart during the singing of the national anthem.

In the video below, you can see Melania nudging Donald from behind.

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

 

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
Tone-deaf United does it again: Will only reimburse passengers who promise not to sue http://americablog.com/2017/04/tone-deaf-united-will-reimburse-passengers-promise-not-sue.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/tone-deaf-united-will-reimburse-passengers-promise-not-sue.html#comments Thu, 13 Apr 2017 21:31:51 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142169 Already reeling from the disastrous fallout from the airline knocking a passenger unconscious, breaking his nose, knocking out two teeth, and then dragging his seemingly lifeless body down the aisle in order to make room for a United employee who wanted the man’s seat, United Airlines apparently felt that it wasn’t hated quite yet enough.

CNN just announced that United’s promise to reimburse the cost of the flight to the other passengers who had to witness this carnage now comes with a price: You have to promise not to sue United, or you don’t get your money back from the flight of the damned.

Unconscious United passenger — after Chicago police threw him into a headrest, giving him a concussion, breaking his nose, and knocking out two teeth — being dragged out of the plane.

If you’re asking WTF, you’re not alone.

United has handled this issue disastrously from the beginning. The airline started by blaming the unconscious bloody passenger for the incident, and praising the behavior of its crew who thought this was a good idea. After the uproar got too loud even for United’s tone-deaf CEO Oscar Munoz, Munoz changed his tune and offered a full-throated apology.

But that was yesterday.

Today, newly-emboldened by some equally tone-deaf lawyers, one assumes, United is saying ixnay on the free tickets unless the other passengers promise not to sue.

Please join the over 75,000 people who have called on United to fix this situation now, and change its policies to ensure this never happens again. United still clearly doesn’t get it.

The other passengers can sue? That’s what I’d be thinking if I were one of those passengers. If United wants you to sign something promising not to sue, then you might have a real case against United in court — they seem to think so. And after United reneged on the deal to compensate them, with no strings attached, I’d be hopping mad, and ready to drag United down the courtroom aisle — just out of spite.

What could United possibly be thinking? Hasn’t that been the question all week. Hubris doesn’t stand down easily.

Today was already bad enough for United, with the Dr. Dao’s (the passenger) attorney, Thomas Demento, holding a tour de force of a press conference this morning in Chicago. Demento was amazing. (Someone on Twitter tweeted “Demento 2020.”) And after that performance, United should have been running for cover. But this is United. Never one to miss an opportunity to create an even larger public relations disaster, United responded to Demento’s devastating press conference by acting like an even bigger bully.

One wonders about the conversation in United’s board room this morning:

Munoz: That Demento presser really killed us, huh?

United PR flak: Yep.

United lawyer: Hey, how about we tick off a couple hundred more people who are contemplating suing us?

Munoz: That’s why I pay you the big bucks.

It’s harder to know who is worse at their own PR, United or Carter Page?

Please join the over 75,000 people who have called on United to fix this situation now, and change its policies to ensure this never happens again. United still clearly doesn’t get it.

* * *

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
United passenger suffered concussion, broken nose, lost 2 front teeth http://americablog.com/2017/04/united-passenger-suffered-concussion-broken-nose-lost-2-front-teeth.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/united-passenger-suffered-concussion-broken-nose-lost-2-front-teeth.html#comments Thu, 13 Apr 2017 16:15:25 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142147 Chicago-lawyer Thomas Demetrio spoke today about his client, Dr. David Dao, who was violently removed from a United flight this past Sunday after he refused to give up his seat for a United crew member. Dr. Dao’s daughter also spoke at the press conference.

Demetrio gave, what CNN just called, a “master class” in how to represent your client to the public. A slow-speaking, no-nonsense regular-guy Chicagoan, Demetrio made clear that a lawsuit was likely coming, and that it would focus on more than just the mistreatment of his client. The suit would address the larger angst many Americans now feel about air travel.

It’s a brilliant move by Demetrio, as an already-expected-to-be-friendly jury (because of the ubiquitous video evidence) would likely also sympathize with the larger argument about just how awful air travel has become for many Americans. By supporting Dao in his suit, the jury would be striking a blow for every person ever done wrong by the airlines. It’s a brilliant move.

Demetrio broke a bit of news today as well. Dr. Dao suffered a concussion, a broken nose, sinus damage, and lost two front teeth. The various videos are bad enough. But having the damage this extensive ups the public’s and the jury’s sympathy for Dao, increases the potential damages, and only reinforces how out of control the Chicago cops, acting on behalf of United, actually were.

We’ve set up a petition, that already has over 75,000 names on it, calling on United to make things right with Dao, but also to fix its policies so that no other passenger ever has to go through what Dr. Dao did last weekend. Please add your name and share.

And if you’ve already signed the petition, share it on Twitter by clicking here.

Also, I’ve found a United customer care email address that works, and that you can use to send your own message to United about this horrible incident: CustomerCare@united.com. (Copy and paste the email address if clicking it does nothing.)

Also interesting, yesterday afternoon some new video surfaced, taken by the passenger behind Dao, in which someone in an official capacity, it appears to be a Chicago aviation security person, kept telling Doa to give up his seat. Doa, quite calmly and politely replied “no,” and explained that he was a doctor and had to be in Louisville the next day to see patients. The response: We’ll have to drag you. While some are saying “why didn’t Dao just leave?”, I think a lot of people, when threatened to be dragged from a plane for no just reason, would respond “try it.”

So now we know that Dao only screamed once he was attacked by the security people as they forcefully yanked him, followed moments later by the infamous image of Dao’s head being thrown into a seat rest.

Lawyer Demetrio made clear that United not only needs to make his client whole again, but the airline also needs to address this issue of “overbooking,” or whatever United calls it when, at the last minute, they choose to remove passengers from the flight in order to accommodate their own crew.

We’ve set up a petition, that already has over 75,000 names on it, calling on United to make things right with Dao, but also to fix its policies so that no other passenger ever has to go through what Dr. Dao did last weekend. Please add your name and share.

* * *

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

 

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
Trump threatens to stop insurance payments for poor as Obamacare repeal leverage http://americablog.com/2017/04/trump-threatens-stop-insurance-payments-poor-obamacare-repeal-leverage.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/trump-threatens-stop-insurance-payments-poor-obamacare-repeal-leverage.html#comments Thu, 13 Apr 2017 00:32:54 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142143 The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Donald Trump is threatening to hold hostage billions of Obamacare dollars used to pay the health care bills of the poorest Americans, unless Democrats agree to his Affordable Care Act repeal proposal.

The payments are used to reduce copayments and deductibles for poor people.

So Trump is literally proposing to use the lives of poor Americans as human shields, cutting off their access to health care unless Democrats agree to cut off their access to health care.

President Obama signs the Affordable Care Act, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s classic Trump, brazen and politically tone deaf. The GOP repeal effort was already dead in the water, as a result of it simply being too extreme. Millions of Americans on Obamacare suddenly realized they liked their health insurance and its guarantees more than they had previously thought, and turned out at Republican congressional townhall meetings, hooting and hollering at their elected officials, effectively scaring the hell out of the less extreme elements in Congress.

But even that earlier proposal, which would have cut off health to care to millions and removed a core element of the pre-existing conditions protects, wasn’t as cold-hearted as Trump’s latest threat: to literally cut off poor Americans’ access to health care.

Sadly, concerns that Trump would try to undermine the Affordable Care Act to force it to fail, appear to be well-founded.

Use this tool to send a letter to your members of Congress, urging them to vote against any repeal of the Affordable Care Act or its essential protections.

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
Joe “You lie!” Wilson shouted down with cries of “You lie!” at townhall http://americablog.com/2017/04/joe-lie-wilson-shouted-cries-lie-townhall.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/joe-lie-wilson-shouted-cries-lie-townhall.html#comments Tue, 11 Apr 2017 22:32:37 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142133 Republican Congressman Joe Wilson, who infamously shouted “You lie!” at President Obama during a joint session of Congress back in 2009, just got shouted down at a constituent townhall back home in South Carolina.

And it was delicious.

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

 

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
Smearing United’s victim http://americablog.com/2017/04/smearing-uniteds-victim.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/smearing-uniteds-victim.html#comments Tue, 11 Apr 2017 16:41:26 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142123 Last night, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz blamed a bleeding passenger for the cops dragging him unconscious from a United flight this past Sunday. Now we have press reports attempting to smear the victim of the assault.

Please join the over 50,000 people who have added their name calling on United to fix this now, and ensure that no United passengers are ever assaulted again.

I won’t be linking to the smears, but suffice it to say they have nothing to do with United sicing the Chicago police on a man, who subsequently knocked him unconscious, then dragged his seemingly lifeless body. All because United wanted the man’s seat for one of their employees and wasn’t willing to pay enough to get a volunteer.

But smearing the victim? It’s one thing if the media found something relevant. But they didn’t. They found nothing that would have any bearing on why United would sic the police on a passenger who refused to “volunteer” his seat away.

And they found nothing that shed any light as to why the Chicago cops would manhandle this passenger, throwing his head into a seat rest, apparently knocking him unconscious while cutting his face.

It’s difficult to think of anything in someone’s “troubled past” that would justify such horrid behavior by United or the Chicago cops.

It’s also difficult to imagine the reporters finding this information on the passenger in a vacuum. Did United have a role? After United’s tone-deaf statement last night blaming the victim for the assault, it does make one wonder.

Sign the petition, tell United that it’s behavior is unacceptable.

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

 

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
United Airlines CEO blames unconscious bloody passenger for police assault on flight http://americablog.com/2017/04/united-airlines-pr-crisis-grows-cops-claim-bloody-passenger-fell-video-says-otherwise.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/united-airlines-pr-crisis-grows-cops-claim-bloody-passenger-fell-video-says-otherwise.html#comments Mon, 10 Apr 2017 19:17:59 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142108 In a horrifying story that’s taken over Twitter this morning, United Airlines last night had the Chicago police violently remove a passenger from a flight because United wanted his seat for some United employees.

And tonight, United CEO Oscar Munoz repeatedly blamed the passenger and praised his staff’s behavior. (See below.)

Please add your name to the petition calling on United to fix this now, and ensure that no passenger will ever be assaulted again on a United flight.

The man, reportedly a doctor returning to a hospital where he had to see a patient the next day, had paid for his ticket and was sitting in the right seat. United simply decided at the last minute that they wanted the man’s seat instead.

Unconscious United passenger, after Chicago police threw him into a headrest, being dragged out of the plane.

Understandably, the man was ticked. So United called the Chicago police, who violently dragged the man out of the plane. At one point, the cops dropped him, he hit his head on an arm rest, and what happened next shocked everyone. The cops dragged the man’s limp body from the airplane.

But it gets worse. The man, with blood streaming down his face, got back on the plane and seemed incoherent and in shock. There are videos galore.

UPDATE: United CEO Oscar Munoz is now blaming the passenger for the assault. In a letter to employees, Munoz praised his employees’ behavior and repeatedly blamed the passenger.

Please add your name to those calling on United to fix this and ensure it never happens again.

As a bit more background, United wanted four seats for its crew who needed to be at the destination city. The airline offered $400 per person for volunteers to give up their seats. Then $800. No one bit. So United had the computer pick four passengers at random, this man was one of them. When he said “no,” the police arrived and violently dragged the man off the flight.

The cops now claim the man “fell” while they were forcibly removing him. You can hear the cop after the man fell — he thought the guy was faking being unconscious, didn’t even bother checking.

Here’s the video of the man, bloody, and clearly in shock:

Here’s the Chicago police statement, it’s pretty awful:

chicago police statement

United’s statement is just as bad:

“I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened,” United CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement Monday. Munoz said the airline is trying to reach the passenger to “further address and resolve this situation.”

Re-accomodate. Nice.

Adding to their PR problem, United is refusing to comment on the incident, and referring questions to the Chicago police, as if this were a police matter. It’s really not. It’s about United Airlines assaulting one of their customers without cause.

Please add your name to those expressing their outrage to United Airlines, and calling on United to make this right with that poor man, and to change its policies to ensure this never happens again.

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

 

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
28% of Trump’s Twitter followers are eggs http://americablog.com/2017/04/28-trumps-twitter-followers-eggs.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/28-trumps-twitter-followers-eggs.html#comments Mon, 10 Apr 2017 16:34:50 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142100 28% of Donald Trump’s Twitter followers are eggs, according to an analysis from Bloomberg.

In Twitter parlance, an egg is trouble. Sometimes a bot, usually a troll, eggs tends to be people who didn’t bother taking the time to even upload a photo in their profile, often because they’re so busy creating fake profiles, it’s just not worth their time.

Eggs were such bad news that Twitter recently changed its default avatar from an egg to, well, something that harkens to an adult toy.

Bloomberg also found that of Trump’s 10 “most-engaged” Twitter followers over the past 30 days, five were robots and three appear to be robots. That would make 80% of Trump’s top ten followers fake.

And they report that Trump’s biggest Twitter fan also appears to be fake.

Now, everyone on Twitter has fake followers and bots. Still, Trump likes to brag, and may actually believe, that he reaches up to 100 million real people directly via social media. He’s said as much. So, the question of just how many followers Trump has — and what country they reside in, is a valid one.

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
Colbert on Putin banning depiction of himself as a gay clown http://americablog.com/2017/04/colbert-putin-banning-depiction-gay-clown.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/colbert-putin-banning-depiction-gay-clown.html#comments Sat, 08 Apr 2017 16:15:49 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142095 Russian president Vladimir Putin has reportedly banned a depiction of himself, used by opposition protesters, as a gay clown.

It’s not known exactly which gay-clown depiction Putin has banned.

I’ve previously posted one that has been used at anti-Putin protests in Russia. I’d argue it’s more drag than clown, but this being Russia, all bets are off.

The sign says “Tsarina Putin.”

Well, Stephen Colbert has weighed in with a pretty funny segment about this whole affair. Enjoy.

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

And buy a t-shirt and support our work:

All the proceeds go to supporting our independent journalism at AMERICAblog.

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
Why were Bannon, Kushner, Miller, Ross, Spicer in Situation Room Syria briefing? http://americablog.com/2017/04/bannon-kushner-miller-ross-spicer-situation-room-syria-briefing.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/bannon-kushner-miller-ross-spicer-situation-room-syria-briefing.html#comments Fri, 07 Apr 2017 16:37:19 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142083 White House spokesman Sean Spicer tweeted a photo today of Donald Trump and key staff receiving a Syria briefing from his national security team.

The photo is reminiscent of the Situation Room photo of President Obama, VP Biden, Secretary of State Clinton and others being briefed on the status of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

But there’s a striking difference. While Obama’s briefing included national security staff, Trump’s included relatives, political staff, and the Secretary of Commerce.

Here are the two photos. First, Obama, annotated by Hannah Ross. You’ll note it’s entirely made up of national security staff, or the chief of staff. There isn’t even a spokesperson present. And certainly, Sasha and Malia were nowhere to be found.

Now here’s Donald Trump’s version. Why is Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner there? Why is Steve Bannon, who’s job is entirely political. Same goes for Steven Miller, whose job has nothing to do with war, and who is also political.

But the real piece de resistance is the Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of the Treasury, and the director of the National Economic Council. What role could they possibly have in planning a Tomahawk missile attack on Syria? Maybe Trump was serious about invading the Middle East and taking over its oil. Is that their role at the table?

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

And buy a t-shirt and support our work:

All the proceeds go to supporting our independent journalism at AMERICAblog.

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
Trump Jr. and Kellyanne Conway promote conspiracist who says Syria gas attack is a hoax http://americablog.com/2017/04/trump-jr-kellyanne-conway-promote-conspiracist-says-syria-gas-attack-hoax.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/trump-jr-kellyanne-conway-promote-conspiracist-says-syria-gas-attack-hoax.html#comments Thu, 06 Apr 2017 22:42:02 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142073 Donald Trump Jr. and senior Trump White House adviser Kellyanne Conway this week promoted a far-right leader who is claiming that the Syrian chemical weapons attack is a hoax perpetrated by the American government.

The man, Mike Cernovich, is a conspiracy theorists who is popular among the Alt Right white supremacist movement.

cernovich

Mike Cernovich, via YouTube.

Among other conspiracy theories, Cernovich was a recent proponent of PizzaGate — the false claim that Hillary Clinton, her chief of staff John Podesta, and others were running a child prostitution ring out of a series of pizza parlors in DC. An adherent of that theory recent shot up a pizza restaurant in Washington, DC, in search of “the children.”

Still, Cernovich’s toxicity hasn’t been enough to force either Trump’s son Don Jr. — who has previously promoted Alt Right memes — or top aide Kellyanne Conway, from pandering to Cernovich.

First, here’s Conway promoting Cernovich’s blog three days ago.

And here a day later is Donald Trump Jr. outright praising Cernovich journalism — the man is a conspiracy theorist — as exemplary.

Then Cernovich concocts a new conspiracy theory that the American government “deep state” was behind the chemical weapons attack in Syria:

cernovich-deep-state

Liam Stack at the NYT has a short profile on Mike Cernovich.

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

And buy a t-shirt and support our work:

All the proceeds go to supporting our independent journalism at AMERICAblog.

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
Magazine owner Jared Kushner doesn’t understand a free press http://americablog.com/2017/04/magazine-owner-jared-kushner-doesnt-understand-free-press.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/magazine-owner-jared-kushner-doesnt-understand-free-press.html#comments Wed, 05 Apr 2017 21:17:58 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142064 Donald Trump’s son-in law, and putative secretary of state, vice president, and First Lady Jared Kushner doesn’t seem to understand the concept of a free press.

It’s a remarkable thing for any American, let alone one who works for the president. But it’s also noteworthy because Kushner owns a magazine, the New York Observer. So you think he’d have a basic understanding of journalism.

The revelation came in a lengthy New York Times story about how Trump has been the best thing ever for CNN. CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker tells the NYT about a breakfast he had with Kushner:

Jared Kushner, photo by Lori Berkowitz Photography

Jared Kushner, photo by Lori Berkowitz Photography

Zucker had breakfast with Kushner a few weeks later in Manhattan. Kushner wanted to know why CNN still hadn’t fired anti-Trump commentators like Jones and Ana Navarro, who said on CNN in October that every Republican would have to answer the question of what they did the day they saw a tape of “this man boasting about grabbing a woman’s pussy.” (The comment elicited an angry response from one of CNN’s pro-Trump talking heads, Scottie Nell Hughes: “Will you please stop saying that word?” she demanded. “My daughter is listening.”) Zucker tried to explain that even though Trump won, the network still needed what he described as “a diversity of opinion.”

It’s a bizarre comment coming from Kushner, who along with Ivanka is alleged to be a moderating influence on Trump. But less so when you consider that Kushner may be little different than Sean Spicer — his job is to dance with the girl who brung him. And in this case, that girl is an obese lunatic with a fetish for autocracy. It’s entirely possible that Kushner was simply parroting Trump’s message of the day.

But putting that aside, it’s an interesting question as to CNN’s choice of pundits. Zucker recently responded to criticism of CNN’s commentators Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany by noting that you know their names. Meaning, they’re doing their job in a “at least you’re still talking about me” kind of way.

Just a few days left to get your “Resistance is not futile” t-shirt. All proceeds benefit AMERICAblog.

The thing is, as former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett noted recently in a high-profile appearance on CNN, there are pundits and then there are pundits. It’s one thing to invite people on who further a discussion, and help enlighten viewers to a deeper understanding of the issues. It’s quite another to have people on simply because they fill some checkbox — female Trump supporter, check!

Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany (and Jack Kingston, who’s the worst) are a certain category of pundit who don’t just stick to the party line, they stick to the party talking points of the day. That means you usually won’t learn anything from them that you couldn’t just as easily get from a quick read of the daily Republican party press release. (Think: Jeff Gannon, with clothes.) And in today’s era of fake accusations of fake news, in order to obfuscate the truth, their presence becomes more problematic. I fear that cable news is becoming one never-ending version of CNN’s late show Crossfire, where everyone seemed to just yell at each other.

Having said all of that, it’s hard to argue with numbers. Clearly people are tuning in, more than ever. So I can appreciate Zucker not wanting to rock the boat by tinkering with success. But I wonder if there’s isn’t a way to have a little more PBS NewsHour and a little less WWE, and still pay the rent.

]]>
GOP Congress to let women be a pre-existing condition again http://americablog.com/2017/04/gop-congress-let-women-pre-existing-condition.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/gop-congress-let-women-pre-existing-condition.html#comments Tue, 04 Apr 2017 22:16:40 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142049 UPDATE: CNN just announced that there will NOT be a health care deal this week, before Congress returns home for two weeks for the Easter recess. This is GREAT news. But, CNN also reports, this doesn’t mean the renewed GOP effort to repeal the ACA is dead. More good news: The LAST thing Republicans wanted was to head back home for the holiday with this issue still in play? Why? Because they risk getting confronted by angry constituents, something they loathe.

So keep up the good work, send your personal letter using the tool on this page, and if you can, show up at a local town meeting.

Thanks as always, JOHN

* * *

The new Republican health care proposal floating around Capitol Hill would effectively gut the Affordable Care Act’s (Obamacare’s) pre-existing condition protections.

If they can rally enough Republicans, they’re talking about having a vote as early as this Friday.

Send an email to your members of Congress, using this link, and tell them not to repeal the ACA or any of its protections.

Currently, under the ACA, you’re protected in two ways from discrimination based on a pre-existing condition.

First, insurance companies can’t deny you insurance based on your medical history or any other reason. Pre-Obamacare, they did.

And second, insurance companies can’t charge you more for insurance than other people your age. Previously, they would, depending on your medical history, and other factors.

Lest you think you had to have something as serious as cancer for it to count as a pre-existing condition, pre-Obamacare you could get turned down for insurance simply because you had allergies, asthma, eczema, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. I had otherwise-healthy friends in their 30s turned down for those very reasons.

And if they did sell you insurance, and you had any of those benign conditions, they could charge you a LOT more. And forget about it if you actually had cancer, or any other serious illness.

Insurance companies even considered being female a pre-existing condition. Oh yes. From the NYT in 2010, pre-Obamacare:

Until now, it has been perfectly legal in most states for companies selling individual health policies — for people who do not have group coverage through employers — to engage in “gender rating,” that is, charging women more than men for the same coverage, even for policies that do not include maternity care. The rationale was that women used the health care system more than men. But some companies charged women who did not smoke more than men who did, even though smokers have more risks. The differences in premiums, from 4 percent to 48 percent, according to a 2008 analysis by the law center, can add up to hundreds of dollars a year.

And finally, the Republicans are also planning on repealing the ACA’s requirement that all health insurance policies cover a minimum of services, like hospitalization, prescription drugs, emergency services, and maternity (among others).

And that’s what the Republican Congress is now planning on bringing back. A world in which people like me either won’t be able to buy insurance at all, or it will be so prohibitively expense that we’ll have to choose between going broke and going without. (For years, pre-Obamacare, I traveled to France every summer to buy my asthma drugs, as I’d save several thousand dollars per year, even counting the cost of the trip.) Or if you’re a woman, you can be charged more than men for the same exact insurance policy because, well, just because.

What exactly are the Republicans now proposing? Among other things, they want to do away with the provision that would protect you from insurance companies charging you more for insurance based on your medical history. While Republicans are claiming that this still protects you, since insurance companies “have” to sell you insurance regardless of your medical history, the insurers can simply hike your monthly payment by a couple thousand dollars per month. Or they can exclude your pre-existing condition all together — so that you’re covered for broken arms, but not your cancer or asthma or high cholesterol.

So, while the GOP is claiming that they’re not touching pre-existing conditions since insurers will still have to sell you insurance, insurers will be able to charge you so much that you won’t be able to afford it, effectively shutting you out of the market.

And for anyone who doesn’t think they’ll get cancer in their lifetime, do you know anyone who has had cancer? I do, including family members. I don’t know any family in America that hasn’t been touched by a relative with a serious condition. I can’t imagine telling them to go take a hike.

Send a letter to your members of Congress using the box below:

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

And buy a t-shirt and support our work:

All the proceeds go to supporting our independent journalism at AMERICAblog.

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>
It was impossible for Susan Rice’s “unmasking” to be directed at Trump http://americablog.com/2017/04/impossible-susan-rice-unmasking-directed-trump.html http://americablog.com/2017/04/impossible-susan-rice-unmasking-directed-trump.html#comments Tue, 04 Apr 2017 16:19:01 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142040 CNN had a good segment last night with terrorism expert Juliette Kayyem, among others. Kayyem raised an excellent point about “unmasking,” that proves that whatever Susan Rice, or anyone else in the Obama administration did, it’s simply impossible that their motive was political.

As background, you know that Donald Trump has been claiming, falsely, for a good month now that President Obama “tapped his wires.” As that claim imploded — even Mitch McConnell says there’s no evidence — Trump, in coordination with the GOP Congress (led by Devin Nunes) and the white supremacist Alt Right movement, latched on to a new fake conspiracy theory: former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice unmasked him!

Now, a bit more background as to what Trump is alleging, and why it’s bogus. The “unmasking” claim is mixed up with the “incidental collection” claim that Trump has been using to argue that Obama tapped his wires. Incidental collection is when the US legally eavesdrops on foreigners who then either speak with an American (like Michael Flynn did with the Russian ambassador) or who mention an American. So even two foreigners under surveillance mentioning someone’s name in a conversation is considered incidental collection on that person.

Generally speaking, when an American citizen’s name, or voice, is incidentally collected, their name is hidden in the intelligence documents where the collection is reported. Back to Juliette Kayyem. Kayyem explained that the intelligence document that Susan Rice was looking at would have mentioned “Person A” or “American Citizen A” either speaking with the Russian ambassador or being mentioned by the Russian ambassador. Rice would have no idea who that American was, whether they were Trump or his campaign staff or just the postman. There is no way to know who was caught up in the incidental collection unless and until you “unmask” it.

Unmasking is the process by which Rice, for example, would have to ask the NSA to reveal the name of the American to her, and to her only. And Rice can’t just ask for it, she has to have a good argument as to why she needs the name in order to better understand the intelligence. And even then, if the NSA isn’t satisfied with her argument, they won’t release the name.

So, there is no way that Susan Rice’s unmasking of this intelligence could have been political because Rice would have had no way of knowing that “American Citizen A” was anyone associated with Donald Trump. She wouldn’t know who they were until AFTER she asked that the information was unmasked, and after the NSA agreed to the unmasking. So there is simply no way she could have done the unmasking in order to politically hurt Donald Trump.

The entire unmasking argument is a red herring.

Kayyem makes one final point. The people who are doing the unmasking here are Trump and his associates, who are busy colluding with the Russians. They’re unmasking themselves by having conversations with Russian spies and other foreigners who the US deems it necessary to spy on. If Team Trump didn’t have so many creepy, surreptitious connections to the Russians, we wouldn’t be discussing any of this.

Here’s a clip of Kayyem discussing this on CNN:

red-donateWith the election of Donald Trump, AMERICAblog’s independent journalism and activism is more needed than ever.

Please support our work with a generous donation. (If you prefer PayPal, use this link.) We don’t make much on advertising, we need your support to continue our work. Thanks.

And buy a t-shirt and support our work:

All the proceeds go to supporting our independent journalism at AMERICAblog.

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:





]]>