AMERICAblog NewsAMERICAblog News A great nation deserves the truth // One of America's top progressive sites for news and opinion Thu, 25 Aug 2016 19:52:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How AP published the biggest lie ever about the Clinton Foundation Thu, 25 Aug 2016 15:30:08 +0000 Let me tell you a little story about how the Associated Press outright lied about the Clinton Foundation in order to smear Hillary Clinton.

AP claimed, falsely, that half the people Hillary met as Secretary of State were donors to the Clinton Foundation. An incredible number! Except it’s not true.

And AP continues to refuse to correct the story.

Please sign our petition telling the AP to correct the story now.

Now, I’m actually a fan of AP. They have a reputation for having the highest standards of journalism. So their ongoing defense of this egregiously wrong story is distressing.

I tweeted about this yesterday, and my tweets caused quite a (good) uproar, so I thought I’d immortalize them here, so that it’s easier for everyone to refer to them in the future.

Before posting the Twitter storm below, I want to make a quick plug for the YUGE fundraising drive I launched yesterday to support my work between now and the election. Ad revenues for the blog cover at best 20% of my monthly expenses, so I rely on your donations to keep my work doing. My recent twitter storm about Hillary and the Clinton Foundation is a good example of the work I do, and what I excel at. I take stories and find the perfect angle to defuse them (if they’re negative stories), and then make them go viral. It’s been an incredibly effective apporach to progressive advocacy, particularly LGBT rights work.

You can read more about my work, my history, and what I plan to do over the next few months to ensure that Trump loses BADLY, Hillary wins, and that a progressive majority takes back the Congress here.

Now back to the Clinton Foundation. First my tweets, then I have a Facebook Live broadcast I did last night that walks you through the issue, if you’re someone who prefers videos. Thanks so much for your support, and please do share this story.

Here’s a few other points about the Clinton Foundation, and then my Facebook Live discussion of the Clinton Foundation and the AP story.

Charity Watch gives the Clinton Foundation an A-rating.

And confirms that 88%-89% of the Clinton Foundation’s money is spent on “programs,” aka charity.

Now you know the rest of the story.

Please sign our petition telling the AP to correct the story.

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And please donate to our fundraising drive -- more background on the fundraising drive here. Thanks so much! JOHN

Closeted homophobe McCarthy aide Roy Cohn defended Trump in 1973 civil rights lawsuit Thu, 25 Aug 2016 01:10:18 +0000 I was just watching a chilling broadcast on CNN, about the US government’s 1973 civil rights case against Donald Trump.

The case alleged civil rights violations against African-Americans in Trump housing in NYC.

You can see a snippet of the video below.

But then something caught my eye. CNN was mentioning how Trump, via his lawyer, hit back hard against the allocations. And I see a name flit across the screen, so I back up the DVR.

This is what I see:


Roy Cohn, the lawyer handling the case.

Yes, that Roy Cohn.

For anyone unaware, Roy Cohn was a hated man. He was Senator Joe McCarthy’s right-hand man during the McCarthy era anti-communist witch hunts that destroyed so many lives. But to add to the fun, Roy Cohn was a closeted gay man, who eventually died complications related to HIV/AIDS. But none of that stopped Cohn from destroying the lives of countless gay government employees who he, and McCarthy, drove out of of their careers.

THAT Roy Cohn.

You see, Trump met Cohn early in his career, and Cohn reportedly became a sort of mentor to the young Trump. And Cohn became Trump’s lawyer as well.

As if you needed to know anything worse about Donald Trump. Now you do.

Here’s a quick snippet of the CNN video:

*** I’ve just launched a big fundraising drive for my work here at AMERICAblog between now and the election. I hope you’ll consider helping out. You can donate below, and read much more about my work, and why and how I’ll use your donations, here. Thanks so much.

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Please donate to my campaign to stop Donald Trump Wed, 24 Aug 2016 17:12:24 +0000 This coming November, we face the prospect of Donald Trump, the most unqualified and dangerous candidate in memory, becoming president of the United States.

I am asking you today to support me over the next three months, from now until the election, in a campaign to utterly destroy Donald Trump’s candidacy, send Hillary Clinton to the White House, and help elect a progressive majority to Congress.

You can contribute with a credit card via this page, via the large convenient form below, or by sending a check made out to “John Aravosis” to my PO Box:

John Aravosis
PO Box 1532
Long Island City, NY 11101-9998

I am asking you to help me raise a minimum of $25,000 for the next three months. The more we raise, the more we can do — including creating hard-hitting pop-up Web sites and viral graphics, buying online ads, making my Facebook Live broadcasts more professional, and also bringing more people on board this campaign.

In a nutshell, I am an activist for hire. Hire me.

I’m going to place the donation form below, for those who already know of my 25 year commitment to progressive advocacy, and don’t need any more convincing. But after the form, please keep reading, as I’ve written a long description of the work I’ve done over the years for progressive causes, and an explanation of why I think I’m uniquely qualified for this mission to take on Donald Trump.

And finally, a quick word about donations. First, they’re not tax-deductible, sorry. Second, you can make a one-time donation, or a recurring donation each month — meaning, you can give, say, $25 once or $25 per month. It’s up to you, just click the appropriate button.

Now, I will make one extraordinary request to those who can afford it. There are some people of means who every election donate the maximum to their candidate of choice. That means they give $2,700 during the primaries, and another $2,700 during the general election. I’d like to ask those people to consider maxing out to me as well. Hillary has already raised nearly $700 million this campaign. And that’s great. But think of what I can accomplish with a mere $25,000 — or, if people are really generous, $50,000. This election is exceptional, so I am making an exceptional request. Thank you. (And don’t forget to read the rest of this post, below the fundraising form.)

First, a word about polls

First, let’s have a word about the polls. I know some people might think, “hey, Hillary is so far ahead of Donald Trump in the polls, we’ve already won this!” I disagree. We’re still nearly three months from the election, and a lot can change between now and then — and historically, it has. Candidates who were doing great right after the convention, lost. And candidates who were written off after the convention, eventually won in November.

We simply cannot assume that we’re going to win in November. That’s a recipe for an upset victory for the other guy. We need to pull out all the stops to not only beat Donald Trump, but to utterly destroy his candidacy and everything it stands for. (It’s just as important to repudiate the hate and intolerance surrounding Trump’s candidacy, as the candidate himself.) We need to beat Trump so badly that a tsunami of support for Hillary Clinton sweeps a progressive majority into both houses of Congress. In fact, GOP control of the Senate is already looking in danger. If we play our cards right, we could get control of the White House, the Senate and the US House. But we can’t be complacent, or we could still lose this.

Please donate to my campaign.

I’ve been a uniquely effective progressive advocate for over 20 years

As many of you know, I created AMERICAblog in 2004 because I could no longer sit back and watch George Bush destroy our country. In less than a year, with the help of Jeff Gannon, AMERICAblog became one of the country’s most influential political blogs, called recommended reading by Mother Jones and the NYT.

By 2004 when AMERICAblog launched, I had already been a vocal LGBT rights advocate for over a decade. I began my LGBT rights advocacy in 1993, working with Senator Kennedy’s office fighting the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and then a year later helping them prepare the ENDA hearings. But I was itching to do more.

A few years later, in 1998, I created a Web site, Mathew Shepard Online Resources, credited with helping the Matthew Shepard story go viral, and with organizing over 70 candlelight vigils nationwide. My subsequent LGBT rights work earned me a place in the Out 100 and the Advocate 50 (rankings of the most influential LGBT people in America).

That was the beginning of a long string of successful progressive viral advocacy campaigns that I launched with little to no funding, simply relying on the charity of my friends and my innate ability to tap into the Internet to stir up trouble for the greater good.

Since that time, I have taken on and beaten everyone from big business to big politics. My successful advocacy targets have included America Online, Microsoft, Ford Motor Company, Merriam-WebsterBarilla Pasta, Mars Inc., BP, Dr. Laura, the Department of Defense, Jeff Gannon, George Bush and Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, and Russian President Putin.

Here’s a small sampling of the successful online advocacy campaigns I’ve worked on:

We made your cell phone more secure

It used to be legal in America for anyone to buy your cell phone records online. I took that story, that no one wanted to report on, and made it explode. The day my story published, three of the four national networks covered it. After months of outrage, Congress passed a bill making the practice illegal, and President Bush signed it into law. As a result, it is no longer legal in America for someone to buy your cell phone records online.

We caught BP lying during the Gulf spill

At the height of the BP oil spill, I exposed the fact that BP was lying on its Web site about its spill response, and the story went viral.

We caught the Obama administration preparing to defend DOMA

AMERICAblog broke the huge story that the Obama administration was planning to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. Our two-year campaign on this issue resulted in President Obama changing his mind, and opposing DOMA in court.

We broke the story of Pres. Obama “evolving” on marriage equality

In an interview with AMERICAblog’s then-deputy Joe Sudbay, President Obama revealed that he was “evolving” on the issue of marriage equality. Sudbay’s interview was so impassioned that it struck a chord with the President; as was evidenced a few weeks later when Obama cornered Sudbay at the White House Holiday party and read him the riot act. When a blog can get the attention of the President of the United States, it is worth supporting.

What about ads, you might ask?

While we do run ads on AMERICAblog, they don’t raise much revenue, and haven’t since the economy crashed in 2008. Ad revenue covers less than 20% of my monthly expenses. Up until now, I’ve made up the difference through my online marketing consulting work. But there’s a fly in the ointment: When I consult, I don’t have time to blog or do much activism. That’s why I’m now asking for your help.

There’s also a third option: Working for an organization. And I tried that last year. I was fortunate enough to get a full-time staff job at the United Nations in New York City. As an international civil servant, I had more pay and benefits than I ever dreamed of. But the job came with a catch: I wasn’t permitted to blog, or tweet, or do anything else related to politics. And I found over my year at the UN that I not only missed politics, but I missed making a difference on issues that really mattered. That’s why I ultimately left the UN, and returned to blogging and politics.

Even if my income and retirement are both now less secure, I’m happier than I’ve been in years. I’m back to helping people, and hopefully making a difference for my country and the world — and that’s all that’s mattered. But advocacy and good deeds don’t pay the bills. That’s why I need your support.

Why support me in particular?

Part of what makes me such a uniquely effective advocate is that I’ve been working in national politics for over 25 years, and in online advocacy for over 20.

I actually coined the phrase “cyber-disobedience” in 1995, shortly after I began working at the Children’s Defense Fund (the nation’s premier child poverty fighting organization). As soon as I got to CDF, I immediately recognized the potential for using the Internet to build communities of like-minded individuals whose collective voice could influence government and business. I built a huge online child advocacy network at CDF, and then helped other progressive clients like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, AFSCME, AIDS Action, and Amnesty USA strengthen their own Internet advocacy.

What also makes me an effective advocate is my experience: In addition to my background in politics, I’m also a lawyer and professional journalist. I have a joint law degree and masters in foreign service from Georgetown, and have worked as a stringer for the Economist, among other writing jobs. I’ve also worked in the US Senate, at the World Bank, and at the United Nations. I bring a lot of diverse experience to my advocacy work, and that’s one of the reasons I’m so good at what I do.

Here’s the thing about being an effective advocate. I’ve learned over the years that it’s not enough to care, and it’s not enough to be angry — though both are important. In order to be effective, you have to know how to work the system in order to make positive change. And I have proven time and again that I am one of the best at doing just that.

Won’t you please support my campaign to defeat Donald Trump?

Between now and November, I will work tirelessly to defeat Donald Trump, put Hillary Clinton in the White House, and help elect a progressive majority to the US Senate and US House. But I need your help to do it. The only way I can continue campaigning against Trump is with your support.

Over the years, your support has helped me do so much good already.

We raised over $300,000 for progressive candidates and causes over the years.

But we also raised $5,400 to help US troops buy body armor in Iraq.

And we raised thousands (I want to say it was $13,000) to support a single mom in the south who was fired from her organ-playing job at the church because they found out that after-hours she also played the piano at a gay cocktail lounge. You guys stepped up and we helped her out, in a big way.

And often our advocacy wasn’t about money at all. Sometimes it was about simply having someone there to fight for your right to visit your partner in the hospital.

And other times it was about exposing bullies. We were at the forefront of exposing Vladimir Putin’s homophobia in Russia, highlighting the abhorrent state-sanctioned kidnappings of LGBT Russians, and working to get Russian assets banned from state pension funds in the US. And we, along with Dan Savage, Queer Nation NY and a few other friends, led the Russian vodka boycott that made Russia’s homophobic human rights abuses international news.

And sometimes our work is about education. We took the lead in educating Americans, and the world, about the Salvation Army’s ongoing homophobia.

And when few were paying attention, we led the battle to defend the rights of gay and trans people in Tennessee when Republicans in that state wanted to rescind their civil rights.

Won’t you help me take down Donald Trump

Between now and the election, with your support, I will give my all to make sure Donald Trump loses on November 8, and a progressive majority takes over the Congress.

Your support will make it possible for us to publish more of the hard-hitting reporting you’ve known us for over the years. And your support will help us promote the most damning stories using Facebook ads and other online advertising.

And as part of this campaign, I promise a much amplified social media presence over the next three months. Twitter has become an increasingly important way of crafting the political debate. And I’m fortunate enough to have some 80,000 Twitter followers between my various accounts, and they include a large number of influential followers in politics and the media. This gives me a unique ability to influence the debate. (One of my recent tweets criticizing Trump has been shared nearly 8,000 times.)

And finally, between now and November 8, I will do a Facebook Live broadcast every weekday (and sometimes on weekends, if there’s news), providing my daily analysis of the election. (You can watch some of my recent broadcasts here and here and here and here.)

One of the things that always made AMERICAblog great was that we brought to our work a deep understanding of politics. Unlike any other blog at the time, we had actually worked in Washington, DC for some of the most influential people in town. And that gave us an insight into not only the news of the day, but it also gave us a unique perspective on how to create change. I believe it’s one of the key reasons we’re so effective at what we do.

Over the past 25 years I have proven that I am good at what I do, and in fact, better than most. I am a committed progressive and LGBT advocate who is not only fearless in speaking truth to power, but who knows how to win. And I do.

Won’t you please support my work, support this campaign. Let’s make AMERICAblog great again, and teach Donald Trump and the Republicans a lesson they’re never going to forget.

I’m going to close with that wonderful Margaret Mead quote that we used a lot while working at the Children’s Defense Fund. It’s become a mainstay of my work, because after all these years, it’s still so true.

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

You can donate to the campaign via the form above, or on this page. Thank you so much for your ongoing support, JOHN.

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Facebook Live: Trump’s health, Wikileaks outs gay, NYT hacked by Russians Wed, 24 Aug 2016 00:21:08 +0000 This is my daily Facebook live election update.

Today we talked about Donald Trump’s health record, the WikiLeaks gay outing, and the latest Russian hack of the New York Times.

I hope you enjoy it. And if you do, please click the “follow” button below the video, like it and share it — all of that helps get more viewers, and helps Facebook promote it higher in people’s newsfeeds.


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Wikileaks outs gay Saudi, two rape victims Tue, 23 Aug 2016 20:06:53 +0000 Wikileaks faces new charges today of having outed a gay Saudi, two rape victims, and several domestic workers who had been tortured or sexually abused.

The latest accusations of privacy violations, this time leveled by the Associated Press, come on the heels over Wikileaks’ earlier alleged violation of the privacy rights of nearly every woman in Turkey.

Here’s what Wikileaks did in Turkey last month:

However, WikiLeaks also posted links on social media to its millions of followers via multiple channels to a set of leaked massive databases containing sensitive and private information of millions of ordinary people, including a special database of almost all adult women in Turkey.

Yes — this “leak” actually contains spreadsheets of private, sensitive information of what appears to be every female voter in 79 out of 81 provinces in Turkey, including their home addresses and other private information, sometimes including their cellphone numbers.

And now, Wikileaks is outing gay men and rape victims. (The latter is particularly noxious as Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, is on the run from a rape charge.)

More from AP on the new Wikileaks privacy violations:

Three Saudi cables published by the WikiLeaks identified domestic workers who’d been tortured or sexually abused by their employers, giving the women’s full names and passport numbers. One cable named a male teenager who was raped by a man while abroad; a second identified another male teenager who was so violently raped his legs were broken; a third outlined the details of a Saudi man detained for “sexual deviation” — a derogatory term for homosexuality.

What’s particularly troubling in the AP story is the fact that Wikileaks, though originally taking a strong interest in redacting documents before publishing them, in order to protect the privacy of innocent privacy citizens, now believes that “withholding any data at all “legitimizes the false propaganda of ‘information is dangerous.”

Except that it is dangerous. As a gay Saudi man, two rape victims, several victims of torture and sex abuse, and most of the women in Turkey can attest.

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CNN’s Dr. Gupta says Trump doctor letter is “absurd,” questions veracity Tue, 23 Aug 2016 17:05:03 +0000 CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta raised some serious questions about the letter Donald Trump released, “proving” he’s fit to be president.

Gupta told Ashleigh Banfield, “I don’t even know what to make of this letter.”

Gupta noted that the letter included things a doctor would never say; and it also used incorrect medical terminology.

Whether you’re a doctor or not, that degree of hyperbole [claiming Trump would be the healthiest president ever] and these types of words being used is very unusual. People don’t write like that, that this is ‘the healthiest ever.’ First of all, they couldn’t substantiate. How do you know that someone is the healthiest ever?

There’s all sorts of language with that: “strength and stamina are extraordinary.” What does that mean exactly?

Gutpa said he’d run some tests and then provide objective data on strength and stamina. He wouldn’t simply say “strength and stamina are extraordinary.”

More from Gupta:

sanjay gupta

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, from Dnd523.

“Astonishingly excellent” was another term that was used. These just aren’t terms that are used by the medical community. So I don’t know where they come from.

It says they showed only positive results. Now it’s funny in medicine, because when something is good we say it’s a negative result. Meaning, that it did not appear when we did an exam. Positive results actually means quite the opposite. Calling things “test scores” instead of results. His PSA “test score” was this, as if it was the SAT exam instead of a blood test. It’s a strange letter that’s absurd to look at it on face value.

And here’s my own question — per the letter, below, Trump is on a daily baby aspirin and a statin. Why? You don’t usually go on those for absolutely no reason. I’m on both because of high cholesterol and a history of heart problems in my family. So if Trump’s health is so perfect, and there are no problems, why did the doctor prescribe baby aspirin and statin therapy?

And here’s another question: How healthy is a 70 year old, on baby aspirin therapy and statins, who eats KFC for lunch?


Here’s Trump’s letter from his doctor:

trump doctor letter

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Pence laughs out loud when Trump says blacks will vote for him Mon, 22 Aug 2016 14:49:41 +0000 Mike Pence, the Republican vice presidential candidate, laughed out loud when he heard Donald Trump suggest recently that 95% of the black community would vote for Trump in 2020.

Currently, Trump is polling between 0% and 2% among African-American voters. Even former grand wizard of the KKK, David Duke, is polling higher among blacks.

Trump has been making a big push this week for the black vote, but not for the reason you might think. Trump isn’t trying to get African-Americans to vote for him, he’s trying to get white people to — and he’s using the black community to do it. 

Mike pence laughs

Mike Pence laughs when he hears Donald Trump brag about the number of African-Americans who will vote for him.

You see, Republicans have this problem where lots of people on the left, and middle, think GOP candidates are racist and intolerant. So, Republicans do big public appeals to blacks in order to woo whites. The intent is for middle of the road white people — the proverbial “soccer mom” — to watch and say: “Gosh, Donald Trump has been talking all week about how much he cares about African-Americans. I guess all  that talk of him being an intolerant bigot must be hooey.”

So, in fact, Trump is even more of a bigot, more intolerant, than we thought, as he’s willing to use the black community as a foil to get elected. He’s happy to talk about the issues confronting African-Americans, in order to woo white Americans, while planning on doing absolutely nothing to help the black community were he elected.

Trump’s suggestion that blacks will vote for him is laughable. But it’s not stupid.

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Facebook Live: Giuliani promotes conspiracy theory that Hillary has brain damage Sun, 21 Aug 2016 19:17:34 +0000 Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani yesterday suggested that Hillary Clinton has a secret mental illness. (Spoiler alert: She doesn’t.)

Mind you, this is coming from a guy who forgot last week that 9/11 happened — and he was the mayor of New York during 9/11!

Giuliani is only the latest member of Team Trump to push this particular conspiracy theory this week.

I did a Facebook Live broadcast on this topic today, which you can watch bellow. Or you can just read on — it’s much of the same material.

In addition to Giuliani, we also heard from Trump national spokesperson Katrina Pierson, who is so factually challenged she spawned her own hashtag, #KatrinaPiersonHistory, after claiming that President Obama invaded Afghanistan in 2001, and then that Obama and Hillary were responsible for killing the Khans’ son in Iraq in 2004, while President Bush was still in charge of the Iraq war. After those two SNAFUs, the Trump campaign promised that Katrina would never again make such an egregious mistake. But she did.

Then, finally, there was Trump himself, who yesterday again suggested that Hillary didn’t have the “stamina” to be president, and that she was “sleeping,” and taking weekends off.

by default 2016-08-21 at 2.48.33 PM

Mind you, this is coming from a 70-year-old overweight man who eats junk food, and who at odd times acts like a petulant adolescent, as compared to a 68-year-old woman who as Secretary of State visited 112 countries, logging nearly 1 million miles of travel.

Trump’s implication was two-fold: 1) Hillary is a woman, women are weak, and therefore women can’t be president; and 2) Hillary has a secret illness she hasn’t told anyone about.

As I noted in my Facebook Live broadcast, this is what happens when campaigns start to lose. They got negative, big time. While often the negativity doesn’t kick in until October, it can start early, when the candidate thinks he’s in danger of losing. So, the first thing Trump’s negativity tells us, is that he thinks his campaign is in trouble. And it is. But that doesn’t mean Trump is going to lose. A lot can can between now and November, especially with Trump willing to go this negative.

Which brings me to another point. While we all expected Trump to go super-negative, and bring up all of the debunked “Clinton scandals” of the 1990s. There are all of the fake scandals the Republicans concocted in the 199os to attack Bill Clinton, but also to attack Hillary — the GOP hated that Hillary was smart, more liberal than bill, and more than happy to get involved in policy as First Lady. But what we weren’t expecting were the outright lies — Trump and Giuliani making up a fake illness and ascribing it to Hillary. That’s pretty bad, even for Trump.

The irony of course is that there have been rumors for a while now about whether Trump himself has a psychological illness that predisposes him to massive mood changes, narcissism, and an inability to keep his mouth shut. One psychologist I talked to said  “borderline personality disorder” comes to mind. Here’s what the Mayo Clinic describes as the symptoms of borderline personality disorder:

Borderline personality disorder. Impulsive and risky behavior, such as having unsafe sex, gambling or binge eating. Unstable or fragile self-image. Unstable and intense relationships. Up and down moods, often as a reaction to interpersonal stress.

So it’s interesting that just as people became worried about Trump, Trump felt the need to make the same accusations about Hillary. Though Trump has been projecting for a while now. This last week, for example, Trump claimed that Hillary was a racist who didn’t care about black people. Which is interesting, as Hillary has cared about African-Americans for her entire professional career, and has proven it time again again, starting with the time Hillary went undercover in the deep south in the early 1970s to fight school segregation.

On a humid summer day in 1972, Hillary Rodham walked into this town’s new private academy, a couple of cinder-block classrooms erected hurriedly amid fields of farmland, and pretended to be someone else.

Playing down her flat Chicago accent, she told the school’s guidance counselor that her husband had just taken a job in Dothan, that they were a churchgoing family and that they were looking for a school for their son.

The future Mrs. Clinton, then a 24-year-old law student, was working for Marian Wright Edelman, the civil rights activist and prominent advocate for children. Mrs. Edelman had sent her to Alabama to help prove that the Nixon administration was not enforcing the legal ban on granting tax-exempt status to so-called segregation academies, the estimated 200 private academies that sprang up in the South to cater to white families after a 1969 Supreme Court decision forced public schools to integrate.

While Hillary was undercover fighting for African-American schoolchildren, Trump was being sued for racial discrimination.

Trump employees had secretly marked the applications of minorities with codes, such as “No. 9” and “C” for “colored,” according to government interview accounts filed in federal court. The employees allegedly directed blacks and Puerto Ricans away from buildings with mostly white tenants, and steered them toward properties that had many minorities, the government filings alleged.

In October 1973, the Justice Department filed a civil rights case that accused the Trump firm, whose complexes contained 14,000 apartments, of violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

My final point is that we shouldn’t think that we’ve won this. We haven’t won this. Hillary is doing very well, and that’s great. But there’s a long time between now and the election, and anything can happen to rock the boat (more Russian-stolen Wikileaks emails come to mind). So be pleased things are going this well, but remain vigilant.

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Cops rescue autistic boy’s birthday party Fri, 19 Aug 2016 19:09:38 +0000 Oh my god, what a wonderful story.

Police in Yukon, Oklahoma saved the birthday of a young autistic boy.

CNN just showed a wonderful report about three-year-old Brayden Hubbard who almost had his birthday ruined when family after family pulled out of his birthday party.

Brayden’s mom explained that other mothers are uncomfortable being around her son, because he’s autistic.

Just when things couldn’t get worse, there’s a knock at the door and it’s the police. But the cops didn’t show up to cause trouble, they showed up because one decent neighbor had called and asked if they wouldn’t come to the party as guests.

And did they.

At least 9 cops showed up, posed for photos, took the boy for a tour of their car and everything. Here’s the local news report on it, and you can read about it as well.

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Trump visits Louisiana flood after Governor said “stay away” — risks disrupting disaster relief Fri, 19 Aug 2016 16:44:11 +0000 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump swooped into flood-ridden Louisiana today for a photo opp after the governor of the state asked politicians to stay away for at least two weeks.

It is common knowledge that immediately after disasters you don’t want presidents — or anyone else with serious security needs — visiting, lest they disrupt the disaster response by sucking away resources for their political photo opp.

Here’s what the governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, had to say this week:

He said a visit from Obama, which would require heightened security and road closures, would be a drain on resources as the state still works to respond to the flood.

“Quite frankly, that’s not something I want to go through right now,” Edwards said. “I would just as soon he wait a week or two.”

But that didn’t stop Donald Trump.

UDPATE: The Hill has more from the Governor, telling Trump to stay away:

The governor of Louisiana is telling Donald Trump to stay away from the state if he only intends to show up for a photo-op and leave.

“Donald Trump hasn’t called the governor to inform him of his visit,” Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said in a statement Friday morning. “We welcome him to LA, but not for a photo-op.”

The governor’s office added that if the Republican presidential nominee is interested in helping flood victims, he should “consider volunteering or making a sizable donation to the LA Flood Relief Fund” instead.

A further update, per CNN, Trump donated a bunch of ‘goods’ to the relief effort, which is something you should NEVER do. This is exactly what Romney did in 2012. While an amateur might think you don’t “stuff” to disaster relief, you’re supposed to donate money.

And I quote from the Red Cross Web site:

Unfortunately, due to logistical constraints the Red Cross does not accept or solicit individual donations or collections of items. Items such as collected food, used clothing and shoes must be sorted, cleaned, repackaged and transported which impedes the valuable resources of money, time, and personnel.

Like Mitt Romney in 2012, when Romney tried to take political advantage of Hurricane Sandy, and ended up impeding disaster relief, Donald Trump parachuted into Louisiana today, with his Secret Service army in tow, to get a series of photo opps at the expense of the local relief effort.

Fortunately, unlike Bush under Katrina, the Obama administration’s FEMA has acted quickly to respond to the disaster, as Louisiana’s Lt. Governor Billy Nunsgesser noted to NPR:

NUNGESSER: I tell you, I can’t be more – FEMA has been on the ground, has been flying around with us every day. Craig Fugate was down here giving answers to the governor. So the team effort for this – I’m very proud of the way the whole team’s working together. The National Guard, the sheriffs, the volunteers – neighbor helping neighbors. But FEMA has been on the ground and has really done a good job thus far through this disaster.

I can’t tell you – there’s been a whole huge change since Katrina in the response, in wanting to get people on the ground. They’re on the ground already, meeting with people at the shelters, getting the information. And as you know, after Katrina, it took a long time. So they’ve gotten a lot better. And things are really working well so far.‎

That’s how you act presidential. Not by flying in for a photo opp that disrupts disaster relief. You act presidential by actually providing relief to those affected by the disaster. And President Obama is doing just that.

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Great parody of the now-infamous “Says who?” CNN interview Fri, 19 Aug 2016 15:11:09 +0000 This is pretty good.

It’s a parody of the now-infamous CNN interview in which Trump lawyer Michael Cohen keeps asking CNN’s Brianna Keilar “says who?”, when Keilar notes that the Trump campaign is behind.

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Hurricane Katrina strikes again: Error-prone Trump staffer claims Hillary has brain damage Fri, 19 Aug 2016 02:34:12 +0000 Hurricane Katrina strikes again.

Donald Trump’s embattled national spokesperson, Katrina Pierson, has a difficult relationship with the truth.

That’s a nice way of saying that Pierson has a habit of saying things that are so divorced from reality, you start to wonder if she’s actually working for the Clinton campaign.

Among recent whoppers, Pierson claimed that President Obama invaded Afghanistan in 2001, even though during the invasion in 2001 Obama was a simple state senator back in Illinois, and George Bush was president.

Pierson also recently claimed that President Obama and Hillary Clinton killed the Khan family’s hero son in Iraq in 2004, even though at the time Obama was yet again a state senator, and Hillary was the US Senator from New York.

Both Afghanistan and Iraq were President Bush’s fault.

Pierson keeps getting things so wrong she’s created her own Internet meme: #KatrinaPiersonHistory

And now Pierson is claiming that she had a medical degree, or x-ray vision, or something, and she’s diagnosed Hillary Clinton with a very specific brain disease — just cuz.

Trump has been pushing the “Hillary is sick” conspiracy for several days now. (Clinton is of course fine, and has been cleared by the doctors repeatedly.) As Trump has a habit of projecting — blaming his opponents for things that define himself — this further calls into question Trump’s health.

To MSNBC’s credit, they called Katrina out on her “debunked” conspiracy theory.

Welcome to Donald Trump’s reboot. It’s as bad as the original boot. Just as racist, sexist, and homophobic — and actually now a bit more so, with the hire of Breitbart’s cofounder to run the entire campaign.

So while Pierson already had a record of being an absolute nutjob, her newest zaniness could be intentional. We could be witnessing the new Trump campaign, now that one of the worst right-wing — “white nationalist,” per CNN’s Brian Stetler — bloggers is running it.

What’s particularly disturbing is that the Trump campaign promised there would be no more eruptions out of Pierson two eruptions ago. It appears to playing loose with the truth on the Trump campaign isn’t a glitch, it’s a feature.

Trump supporter Peter King endorses cops snooping on Catholic churches Thu, 18 Aug 2016 22:22:11 +0000 Donald Trump supporter Peter King, a Republican congressman, told CNN today that he’d be okay with police officers running undercover operations inside Catholic churches in order to keep track of “what’s being said inside.”

King made the remarks in the context of a question from CNN about whether the issue of “mosque surveillance” came up during Trump’s security meeting held yesterday with various alleged experts.

Here’s how King responded:

“I’m a Catholic. If the police want to have a police officer in the church to hear what’s being said, that’s fine with me. If you have nothing to hide, maybe you even can make some converts.”

Yes, well, I’m a Christian too, and people would flip if undercover cops were listening to our sermons in order to determine if they were politically correct.

Someone needs a pocket Constitution.

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Jumping the gun on what really happened to Olympian Ryan Lochte Thu, 18 Aug 2016 18:41:35 +0000 I’ve been watching CNN’s coverage of the ongoing, and confusing, tale of Ryan Lochte and his fellow Olympians who may, or may not, have been robbed in Brazil.

As you know, Lochte made it back to the states, but several of his teammates had their passports seized by the Brazilian authorities, and are now answering increasingly tough questions about what happened.

Lochte and company say they were held up by Brazilian cops.

Brazil says Lochte and his colleagues were drunk and vandalized a gas station.

Even though we’re still trying to figure out what happened, that didn’t stop USA Today columnist, and CNN commentator, Christine Brennan from calling for Lochte to be banned from sports for life.

Even though we have no idea what actually happened.

A few points:

1. Why lie? Why would Lochte and his colleagues make up a story about being robbed? If it didn’t happen, in some manner, it doesn’t really make sense that they’d lie about. What happened that would make them tell this story at all?

2. The video. I watched the video on CNN, and at one point, you see Lochte and his teammates put their hands in the air and sit down — clearly someone had them against their will. That does appear to back up some of Lochte’s story.


Surveillance video shows Ryan Lochte and fellow Olympians forced to sit down with their hands up.

3. Is it possible that both stories are true? That Lochte and company did vandalize the gas station, and that the gas station security guard then pulled a gun on them and demanded a pay off? Yes.

And if the latter happened, that would be consistent with Lochte’s story that he and his friends were held up by a cop.


AP on Lochte

So another aspect of Lochte’s story is confirmed. This doesn’t prove he told the entire truth, but it does suggest that a rush to judgment is premature.

Finally, the Brazilian police held a press conference today, and it was an utter disaster. The head of the police for the region was all over the place. First he said there was no evidence that Lochte and the other swimmers were “victims of violence,” including claiming they weren’t coerced to do anything, then he said, yeah, I guess a gun was involved. He also eventually said it’s possible someone extorted money from them at gunpoint.

Which was the entire point the Olympians were making from the beginning.

We don’t know yet what happened. And it’s irresponsible for anyone to claim that Lochte should be banned for life until we know what happened. It’s such an obvious point — get all the facts before you convict someone. But it’s one that’s often missed in this quick-to-judgment culture we live in.

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Haunting image of young Syrian boy caught in air strike Thu, 18 Aug 2016 16:15:10 +0000 There’s an incredibly moving image being shared today of a young Syrian boy, sitting alone in an ambulance, covered in dirt and blood, after being rescued from his home, just destroyed in an air strike in the town of Aleppo.

The photo has gone super viral.

His name is Omran Daqneesh, he’s only 5 years old. His parents and three siblings are believed to have survived as well.

Below is the video it comes from.

And here’s a moving video of a CNN host tearing up while talking about the boy:

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538: Hillary could still lose Thu, 18 Aug 2016 15:44:11 +0000, one of the best poll analysts around, did an analysis yesterday of the recent historical comebacks during presidential elections, and concluded that Hillary Clinton could still lose the election.

Now, yes, Hillary currently has an 88% chance or so of winning. She’s doing very well. But as many have noted, it’s only the middle of August — the election is in November. Things could change between now and then, and historically, they have changed in several elections.

538’s first point is that the economy always influences the election (a good economy favors the incumbent party), and our economy is decent but not great. That means the polls should be expected to tighten between now and the election, if you buy the theory that the economy influences the election.

Second, 538 notes that there have been elections in which the person who’s behind made up a 6 to 8 point deficit in the polls — exactly where Trump is right now. They note that in 1980, Carter and Reagan were tied after the conventions — but Reagan won the election by nearly 10% points. And Trump is doing better at this point in the campaign than Reagan was.

For also pulled off a huge comeback, but ultimately lost.

Then there’s Nixon:

Perhaps the most interesting potential precedent for the 2016 campaign is 1968.3 Richard Nixon was up by 8 percentage points and opened an even larger lead in the fall. But Hubert Humphrey was able to consolidate a previously divided Democratic base (as Trump needs to do with Republicans) and cut into Nixon’s lead. Humphrey was also aided by President Lyndon Johnson’s rising approval ratings and the original October surprise (an announcement by Johnson that the U.S. was halting the bombing in Vietnam). Humphrey ended up losing in the second-closest presidential election of the 1900s. It’s not too difficult to imagine Republicans rallying behind Trump — perhaps Clinton is hit with a scandal or WikiLeaks drops an October surprise.

538 isn’t saying Hillary is going to lose. They’re saying that even though she right now has an 88% chance of winning in November, things can change — and they have before.

Andrew Breitbart, photo by Gage Skidmore.

Andrew Breitbart, photo by Gage Skidmore.

One final point: Breitbart.

Trump announced yesterday that he was making Stephen Bannon the new head of the Trump campaign. Bannon runs Breitbart, the far-right, alt-right, some say “white nationalist” (according to CNN’s Brian Stelter) Web site. Breitbart, for those unfamiliar, is basically a really bad blog. Think H.A. Goodman on steroids. Think Ann Coulter, with even more chutzpah and more racism. It cannot be overstated how nutty Breitbart is. They’re conservative bomb-throwers, but of the conspiracy wing of the GOP. Even most Republicans don’t like them or respect them.

If you thought Trump’s campaign was over-the-top and offensive at this point, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

And that worries me. From the beginning, my biggest concern about Trump was that he was willing to say things that no decent presidential candidate would dare. For example, he brought up Monica. And while to date Trump’s outrageousness hasn’t helped him in the polls, it’s still a wild card.

In the end, I’ve seen enough elections change in the final few months or even weeks. It’s great that Hillary is doing well, so far. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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Trump’s lawyer pwn3d by CNN host Wed, 17 Aug 2016 21:56:47 +0000 Delicious.

Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, who is a real piece of work, was just on CNN with political correspondent Brianna Keilar.

Keilar noted that Trump’s campaign wasn’t doing very well of late, and Cohen took exception.

The rest is television history.

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Why Hillary Clinton is right to take on high prescription drug prices Wed, 17 Aug 2016 19:03:42 +0000 I just did an impromptu Facebook Live talk about a speech Hillary Clinton just gave, in which she talked about tackling the high price of prescription drugs. (You can watch the broadcast on Facebook, here.)

To Hillary’s credit, she made specific mention of the fact that we pay more in America — significantly more — for the same drugs that are sold in Europe at a much lower price.

I’d written extensively about how US drug companies fleece American consumers by charging us 5 time or more what they charge Europeans for the same drug. But Hillary noted another reason why this is unfair: American taxpayers are subsidizing these drugs companies. We subsidize through tax breaks, and we subsidize it through the FDA. As Hillary notes, our FDA, paid for by American tax dollars, makes sure these drugs are safe, and then the drug companies make money all over the world based on that seal of approval that US taxpayers paid for.

Now, let me walk you through just how badly Americans are fleeced by these drug companies. Let’s look at a few top asthma drugs, and what they go for in France vs. the US. These are prices from a few years back, when I did the comparison from Paris.

Advair — 5.3x more expensive in the US
US: $391
France: $73

Symbicort — 4.5x more expensive in the US
US: $272
France: $60

Asmanex — 7.9x more expensive in the US
US: $197
France: $25

Also obscene is the whopping increase in the price of these drugs in the US over the past 5 years, while at the same time these companies actually dropped the price in Europe.

Advair (GlaxSmithKline)
US: ↑43%
France: ↓13%

Symbicort (AstraZeneca)

So not only have these drug companies overcharged Americans by an obscene amount, and increased the prices of these drugs by an obscene amount, they actually dropped the price significantly in Europe over the past five years.

Why, you might ask are prices so much cheaper in Europe? Because over in Europe, the governments negotiate with Big Pharma to get a lower price. Our government doesn’t — and in fact, the federal government is banned by law from negotiating cheaper drugs prices for Medicare recipients. As the NYT notes, the drug companies get around all of this by simply charging more to Americans to make up the difference for the lesser profit in Europe:

Many other countries control drug prices in some manner, so drug companies have become dependent on increasing prices in the United States to grow.

Economist Steve Kyle did a nice write-up for us a while back, explaining how drug pricing works, and how the drug companies simply charge Americans more to make-up for lower prices in Europe.

One final point: Drugs aren’t cheaper in France because they’re subsidized. No one subsidizes anything. They’re cheaper because the French government simply negotiated a cheaper price. And mind you, that $25 or $73 you may pay in France for a high-end asthma drug isn’t what Frenchmen actually pay. That’s the price without insurance. If you have insurance, and everyone there does, the prices is significantly less.

So, by virtue of our American citizenship, we’re paying a massive drug tax in order to subsidize cheap drugs for Europeans. And most of our politicians are okay with this.

Hillary isn’t. November can’t come quickly enough.

This isn’t the first time Giuliani erased 9/11 from history Tue, 16 Aug 2016 19:17:46 +0000 Donald Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani claimed yesterday that “we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack” on US soil in the eight years before Obama became president.

Conveniently forgetting about 9/11, in which nearly 3,000 people died.

It wasn’t the first time that Giuliani had made the outrageously false claim that there were no terror attacks on US soil during the Bush presidency.

Giuliani made a similar, but even more outrageous claim, in January of 2010. Speaking to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Giuliani said: “We had no domestic attacks under Bush, we’ve had one under Obama.”

That Giuliani historical revisionism was particularly bad, as it not only erased 9/11 from the history books, but also the following terror attacks, per Politifact:

1. The Anthrax scare.
2. The shoe bomber.
3. The DC sniper.
4. The 2002 attack against the El Al ticket counter at LAX.
5. The campus attack at UNC.

Here’s Giuliani in 2010:

And here’s the same erroneous claim yesterday:

What’s actually going on is that Giuliani is trying to claim that, other than 9/11, George Bush had fewer terrorist attacks under his watch than Barack Obama, and thus Bush kept America safer. How exactly do you start a sentence about terrorism with “other than 9/11”?

Under Giuliani’s logic: More people died at Benghazi (4 dead) than died on September 11 (2,966 dead), so long as you don’t count 9/11.

Giuliani’s claim is also at odds with Giuliani’s own candidate, Donald Trump, who spent the campaign excoriating George Bush over 9/11. As Trump told Jeb Bush this past February, “the World Trade Center came down under your brother’s reign, remember that. That’s not keeping us safe.”

So keep all of this in mind when considering Giuliani’s explanation today: “I didn’t forget 9/11.”

Giuliani is right. He didn’t forget 9/11. Forgetting isn’t willful. Erasing is.

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Russian state media pulls a Borat with sexist tweet about Olympic athletes Tue, 16 Aug 2016 17:56:22 +0000 Russia’s state propaganda organ, Sputnik, thought it would be neat to have an online contest voting for the hottest female Russian Olympic athlete.

Of course, sexism isn’t Sputnik’s only problem.

The Kremlin has a sophisticated online propaganda network, that includes paid trolls who pretend to be native-born Americans, or other non-Russians, spreading pro-Russian disinformation. Often, however, the information comes across as “not quite right.” The English will usually be impeccable, but then suddenly you’ll find an error that a native English speaker would never make. And it’s an error a Russian would make.

But the errors are also substantive, such as thinking people in the West would embrace degrading women.

I checked Sputnik’s timeline, and there’s no equal contest for the hottest male Olympic athletes.

What is there, however, is an even creepier posts, seemingly making light of the murder of women. Check out the image Sputnik posted alongside this story about women being murdered in India:

There’s also this sophomoric attack on the British Foreign Minister, who is admittedly a boob, but I’m not saying that as a member of the US government’s propaganda arm. This is a childish way for a government agency to treat international relations. In fact, it’s something Trump would do.

by default 2016-08-16 at 1.44.50 PM

And of course, there’s the required pro-Trump tweet, which appears right after an anti-Hillary tweet:

by default 2016-08-16 at 1.48.19 PM

Sputnik, you’ll recall, is the organization that took me on a few weeks ago for criticizing Trump’s and Jill Stein’s overly-coziness with the Russians.

One wonders where this is the guy who’s really running Sputnik:


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