Category Archives: Republican Party

Georgia Justice: Voting Machines and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Stenographic Reporting

mark niesse

This is a short article, a small point, but ideology and attitudes are made up of countless small points, repeatedly pounded home that go into constructing people’s opinions.

This is an article that appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today.

Article: https://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/amid-budget-cuts-georgia-pays-keep-old-voting-machines-storage/lPTO8DwteQouaFssNpImeN/?utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=campaign_1220886

Niesse, Mark (5/15/20) “Amid budget cuts, Georgia pays to keep old voting machines in storage.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

First, there is the headline.  The headline opposes the budget cuts from the state of Georgia and the money being spent to house voting machines used in the 2016 (and I think 2018) elections.  The obvious message is that we are wasting tax payer money to house unneeded voting machines when we are in the middle of deep budget cuts.

Here is the first sentence of the article:

“As Georgia is preparing for deep budget cuts, the state government is paying $432,000 a year to store 30,000 voting machines that will never be used again.”

First, as a reader pointed out, why should it cost almost half a million dollars to store some voting machines for a year?

Second,  the reporter is asserting something he has no knowledge of, that is whether the machines will be “used” again.  The voting machines will certainly be used again if they are evidence in a lawsuit to see whether there were election improprieties.  And, that impropriety will certainly not be uncovered if the voting machines are destroyed.

So, the argument that the reporter is just reporting the facts is clearly absurd.  It is not a fact that these machines will “never be used again.”  This is an assumption on the part of the reporter, clearly the assumption that the state of Georgia wants people to believe.

So, why does the reporter take on as fact an assumption that supports the state’s side in this dispute over the voting machines?

An attorney for the secretary of state’s office, Bryan Tyson, in a letter on May 9, asserts:

“Continuing to preserve the DREs (the voting machines) at a significant cost to Georgia taxpayers in times of national crisis for state budgets across the country is wasteful and unnecessary.”  This was a letter directed toward the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the citizens of Georgia who want to know whether or not these voting machines were compromised in some way.

The citizens involved want to preserve the machines, to find out whether “viruses or malware” which might have infected the machines might have spread to the state’s replacement voting system.

There has been a proposal to destroy two-thirds of the machines but no agreement on which machines to dispose of.  This makes perfect sense.  If the machines were infected, why destroy any of the evidence that might demonstrate that fact?

“We’ve tried to work with them,” said David Cross, an attorney for a group of plaintiffs suing the state. “If we could at least do an analysis of a reliable statistical sample, we could see if the old system was compromised.”

This seems to be a reasonable position.  But, the reporter after noting that statement, then repeats the scare statistics of budget cuts as if this had anything to do with the voting machines.

“All state agencies, including the secretary of state’s office, are planning for 14% budget cuts in the upcoming fiscal year — more than $3.5 billion.  The secretary of state’s office is preparing to slice $3.2 million from its $24 million budget through a hiring freeze, licensing board changes and leaving some positions unfilled, Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said.”

“There are so many ways we could spend money outside storage costs,” Fuchs said. “We could use that for fighting real security threats rather than activist’s lawsuits.”

That’s how the reporter chooses to end the article, with a statement by the Deputy Secretary of State calling the people on the other side of the lawsuit “activists” (which I presume is in his mind a negative thing) and maintaining that this fight is not about “real security threats.”

The AJC reporter should be ashamed of this stenographic reporting.

I am a resident of Georgia.  I am tired of the graft, corruption, hubris and collusion that goes into making the state government part of the Republican for-profit free-for-all con game.

 

 

 

Interview with Sarah Kenzior: Hiding in Plain Sight

hiding

Deep State Radio Podcast

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5/5/20

Interview with Sarah Kenzior about her new book “Hiding in Plain Sight.”

Notes from the interview:

  • The Mueller investigation was deeply problematic in that Mueller completely avoided investigating Trump’s finances and the close connection with the Russian Mafia. Mueller also refused to indict or even interview key people like Jared Kushner.
  • Mueller made useless deals with people like Michael Flint that yielded nothing.
  • Mueller was lionized by the corporate media and assumed to be doing a real investigation. But, he virtually defined out of the investigation certain crucial areas like Trump’s finances.
  • The Republicans have no illusions that this will be a free and fair election in 2020. They have no intentions of trying to ensure it is. This should have been investigated from the very beginning.  It was not.
  • The Trump administration is a continuation of “streamlined corruption.” It is a continuation of a philosophy of government – began decades ago – to make government so small and powerless you could “drown it in a bathtub.”
  • Crises make it easier to push authoritarian policies.
  • 911 made it easy to carry out extra-legal surveillance activities.
  • The economic downturn helped solidify income rampant inequality.
  • There is a grave danger that the Coronavirus pandemic will help justify the use of advanced tracking technology that will further invade individual privacy.
  • Kenzior discusses the problems already in China with technology that such as facial recognition and social crediting which records purchases and activities.  For some people it is a branding system.  If you don’t have the right authorization, you can’t get a job, for example.  (Note: There is a documentary about this on the Wiegers.)
  • Kenzior also is concerned about health data being weaponized, there being classes of people who can and can’t get tested or classes of people identified as “infectious groups.”

The Aim is to Smash the Table: The Power Worshipers by Katherine Stewart

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The Power Worshipers

Notes on an Interview on CSPAN with author Katherine Stewart

Katherine Stewart in a CSPAN interview, points out that Trump wouldn’t be in office without the “Christina nationalists.”  There is a myth that these people “held their noses” and voted for Trump in a transactional way, but that is not true.  This is, according to Stewart, “a movement that does not believe in liberal democracy.”

“It’s aim is to smash the table, to overthrow the system as we know it and to create a new type of order one in which its leaders along with member of certain approved religious groups… and their political allies will enjoy positions of exceptional privilege in politics, law and society.”

Most people think of the movement as being “bottom up.”  It’s not.  “Religious nationalism works from the top down.”  Stewart, in this book, points out the real leaders and the real followers and the fact that they are going to be around a lot longer than Trump.

“This is,” she says “a political movement not just a cultural movement.”  “It’s about power.”

 

 

 

 

Robert Redfield, CDC: “a sloppy scientist with a long history of scientific misconduct and an extreme religious agenda.”

robert redfield

Trump and the Republicans are working to establish a Christo-fascist one party authoritarian state.  The corporate media refuses to take this situation seriously, acting as if Trump’s personal disdain of science is just that, some kind of personal peccadillo.  It’s not.  The Republican party has worked for decades to erode public confidence in science and the scientific method.

Crucial people in the Trump administration and the Republican party think they have a religious mission to subvert democracy in this country.  Bill Barr (who numerous pundits on MSNBC assured us was an institutionalist) is just one example.  These people detest science because science has rules, can demonstrate facts that contradict religious belief.  These are people who do not want there to be any objective reality outside their own authoritarian determination of truth.  Science is a threat.

The Republican Party has spent decades fighting against science.  The science of climate change is a good example.  They must discredit science to discredit what is now agreed-upon scientific fact – the planet is warming, disastrously, and it is the effect of man-made (and therefore correctable) behavior.  But, acknowledging the reality of climate change means interfering with profits from fossil fuels.  The Republicans would rather savage the planet rather than cost the 1% profits.

As Malcolm Nance pointed out this week in an interview, these people are a lot like terrorist fanatics, they think they are protected by God from the effects of their behavior.  These folks think they can pursue profits and destroy the planet and they will not be affected.

As just one illustration of this thinking, last week there was video of people coming out of a religious service where people congregated regardless of the Coronavirus.  One woman stopped to talk to the reporter, and said: I’ve been washed by the blood of Jesus.  What she is saying is that she won’t be affected by the Coronavirus because God is protecting her.

This is dangerous thinking.  Extremely dangerous thinking.  And, it prevades an entire political party in this country.  These are not just a few isolated people.

Trump’s administration is packing the scientific agencies like the CDC with appointees who have no respect for, and positive suspicion of science.  Robert Redfield is one example. Redfield has essentially been given a pass by the corporate media.

The following are excerpts from an article about Redfield that took 5 seconds to find on the internet.

Redfield’s “…nomination was considered controversial, and was opposed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which cited Redfield’s lack of experience administering a public health agency, his history of scientific misconduct, and his religious advocacy in response to a public health crisis. Earlier reporting refers to his advocacy of a religious agenda in response to the AIDS crisis.”

In a statement by the President of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Dr. Peter Lurie (published (3/21/18), the CSPI deemed the appointment of Redfield “disastrous” for at least three reasons. 1) Redfield had no experience running a public health agency and has no relationship with state and local public health officials.  2) Redfield had been “credibly accused of scientific misconduct for exaggerating the benefits of a putative HIV vaccine.”  Redfield was investigated for this by the military.  3) Redfield had supported a variety of policies related to HIV/AIDS that “are anathema to the great majority of public health professionals: mandatory HIV testing,  reporting of positive HIV results to public health without the patient’s consent and quarantining of HIV positive individuals in the military.”

Redfield in this public statement was called “a sloppy scientist with a long history of scientific misconduct and an extreme religious agenda.”

Further excerpts from an article in Mother Jones: Choma, Russ (3/7/2020) “Trump’s CDC director has a history of controversial…”

  • Redfield “… also has a long history of being a close ally to conservative politicians and their pet theories on HIV and AIDS.”
  • He advocated investigating the sexual histories of those who tested HIV positive.
  • Redfield advocated similar ideas outside of the military, aligning himself with a conservative Christian group called Americans for a Sound HIV/AIDS Policy (ASAP) which supported similar steps in the general public (mandatory testing and quarantines) to control the spread of the virus. According to Foreign Policy, in the introduction of a book by ASAP’s founder, Redfield rejected the medical norms for handling the epidemic and called for a more faith-based approach:
  • “It is time to reject the temptation of denial of the AIDS/HIV crisis; to reject false prophets who preach the quick-fix strategies of condoms and free needles; to reject those who preach prejudice; and to reject those who try to replace God as judge. The time has come for the Christian community—members and leaders alike—to confront the epidemic,” Redfield wrote.
  • Redfield named the breakdown of family values and increasing number of single-parent households as key factors responsible for the spread of AIDS.
  • “In the 1990s, Redfield endorsed an unproven HIV vaccine as a huge breakthrough. It wasn’t, and Redfield was investigated for scientific misconduct for his role in continuing to push the vaccine. (He was later cleared of accusations of misconduct.) He also publicly lobbied for legislation sponsored by a conservative member of Congress that would force medical workers to get tested for HIV and AIDS and lose their licenses to practice if they were infected. More recently, in the early 2000s, Redfield remained adamant that the best way to contain the AIDS epidemic in Africa was to encourage abstinence, monogamy, and the use of condoms only as a last resort.”
  • Redfield was not the Trump administration’s first choice for CDC director; she resigned after she was found to have traded tobacco stocks while running the CDC. Despite loud calls from CDC watchdogs like the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which accused Redfield of having a bad record “and an extreme religious agenda,” Redfield was appointed in 2018.
  • Redfield has enabled Trump’s politicization of the government’s response.

And, Deborah Brix has been a close associate of Redfield’s.

According to information reported by Wikipedia:

“Redfield continued studies of the…vaccine; the results of his 27-author phase II clinical trial were published in the Journal of Infectious Disease in 2000, with Deborah L. Birx as lead author.[22] Redfield’s multi-site study, a collaboration between the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health, laid the groundwork for future vaccine development and provided a better understanding of the biologic basis of HIV infection and its interaction with the host immune system. The work did not, however, result in an effective vaccine. 

HIV interventions

“The 1993 investigation did say that Redfield had an “inappropriate” close relationship with the non-governmental group “Americans for a Sound AIDS/HIV Policy” (ASAP), which promoted the gp160 vaccine. The group was founded by evangelical Christians that worked to contain the HIV/AIDS outbreak by advocating for abstinence before marriage, rather than passing out condoms — a view Redfield says he’s since changed.[]

Redfield served on the board of ASAP, which gay groups criticized for anti-gay, conservative Christian policies, such as abstinence-only prevention. Redfield also authored the foreword to the book co-written by ASAP leader W. Shepard Smith, “Christians in the Age of AIDS” which discouraged the distribution of sterile needles to drug users as well as condom use calling them “false prophets.” The book described AIDS as “God’s judgment” against homosexuals. At the time of his nomination to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Redfield maintained close ties with anti-gay and anti-HIV activists, although he has publicly supported the use of condoms and denied ever promoting abstinence-only interventions.[11] However, in the 2000s, Redfield was a prominent advocate for the ABCs of AIDS doctrine which promoted abstinence primarily and condoms only a last resort.

These people are dangerous, driven by religious fanaticism, and in charge of government agencies.

 

Alternative Media: Trump Watch Podcast

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As the corporate media becomes more and more useless in covering the Trump/Republican administration and the coronavirus crisis, we must seek alternative sources of news.

Try the “Trump Watch” Podcast.

In the April 16 episode, they do an interview with John Nichols from the Nation Magazine about the attempt by the Republicans to control voting in Wisconsin in order to assure the election of their hand-picked Supreme Court Judge.  They failed, but only because people came out with home-made masks and stood in lines for hours to vote against the Republicans.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the corporate media had covered this win for regular people in Wisconsin?  Wouldn’t it be nice if the corporate media actually talked about the attempt by Republicans, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, to thwart democracy and manipulate the voting process?

They won’t do it and we have to go elsewhere for our news.  The corporate media has ceased to cover any international news at all.  They are obsessed with interviewing everybody in the country about the minutiae of the Coronavirus issue.  They are obsessed with covering every minute of Trump’s propaganda sessions every afternoon and then talking endlessly about what he says.  They are obsessed with providing us inspirational stories about the “heroes” of the crisis and informing us of how we can entertain ourselves while staying at home as if we were children.

The Trump Watch podcast, starts every episode by saying that they cover what Trump DOES not just what he TWEETS.

The Republicans are using the Coronavirus to install a Christo-fascist one-party authoritarian state.  While the press is asking Trump is it is a good idea for Americans to congregate on the mall in Washington, D.C., the Republicans are stealing us blind.  After this is over, they will tell us we can’t afford Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Head Start…because of the pandemic, not because they robbed us blind and gave the money to their buddies.

I would love to hear of other podcasts you find useful and any comments you might have.

Trump Watch Podcast

 

“…companies with political connections…”

THE BIGGEST CLASS THEFT IN THE HISTORY OF THE COUNTRY

The New York Times is reporting today that a doctor, Dr. Rick Bright , who was Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, was removed from his position because he insisted on rigorous vetting of treatments for the Coronavirus, specifically those touted by the Trump administration.

Bright led a federal agency involved in developing a vaccine for the Coronavirus.  He was abruptly dismissed.  He commented in a statement to the NYT:

“I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.”

Bright maintains that doing his job responsibly caused clashes with “HHS political leadership.”  He was, according to his statements, criticized for his “proactive efforts to invest early into vaccines and supplies critical to saving American lives.”  He also, “…resisted efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections.”

Bright was talking about efforts to make chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which, he said “clearly lack scientific merit.”

One of the risks, Bright pointed out of these drugs in clinical trials, was “increased mortality.”  That means the drugs are likely to kill you.

The political people have “politicized the work of BARDA” he says and  pressured him to “fund companies with political connections and efforts that lack scientific merit.”

This is where we are folks.  This Coronavirus effort on the part of the Republican Party and the Trump administration is just one huge feeding frenzy, a free-for-all of profiteering.  This is one point of corruption among countless others across the system where the con artists and grifters Trump and the Republicans have put in place are having the time of their financial lives.

The real question is whether we are going to let them get away with it.  trump pointing finger