Trump Called Schumer To Work On Health Care

Donald Trump lacks long term ties to the Republican Party, and has started to figure out that his best shot of passing legislation might be to work with the Democrats. If he can bring along part of the Republican Party he might have a better chance of passing legislation by working with the Democrats than by trying to pass legislation with Republican votes alone. With the inability of Republicans to repeal Obamacare, Trump has upset many Republicans by calling Chuck Schumer to seek a path forward on healthcare.

Trump previously worked with the Democratic leadership on three-month government funding measure, debt limit hike, and hurricane aid. He has also spoken with them about  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), with no agreement reached yet.

Trump has verified that he called Schumer on Twitter but so far Schumer has not seen a path for the two to work together. The Hill reports:

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Saturday he told President Trump that Democrats would be open to stabilizing the health-care system, but that another push to repeal and replace ObamaCare was “off the table.”

“The president wanted to make another run at repeal and replace and I told the president that’s off the table,” Schumer said in a statement on his call with Trump on Friday, news of which the president confirmed in a tweet.

“If he wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions. A good place to start might be the Alexander-Murray negotiations that would stabilize the system and lower costs,” Schumer added.

This could be just the opening round as there is reason for Democrats to work with Trump if Trump is willing to agree to a satisfactory plan to stabilize Obamacare, as opposed to continuing to undermine the markets. Even without having the votes to repeal Obamacare, Trump can do considerable harm to the success of the Affordable Care Act. So far Trump has greatly cut funding for outreach to promote signing up for the plan and his actions are causing an increase in health insurance premiums. This week his administration has also acted to cut back on the mandate to cover birth control.

If Democrats do work with Trump, they will have to make sure that they are not just enabling him to further reduce health care coverage. On the other hand, if Trump is really willing to diverge from Republican orthodoxy, rather than demanding preservation of the Affordable Care Act the better course would be to promote a single payer plan as proposed by Bernie Sanders. While unlikely to happen, Donald Trump just might go for the idea of going down in history for delivering such a great accomplishment while president.

Gerrymandering Does Not Explain All Those Democratic Losses Over The Past Decade

Even before Democrats were blaming their losses on absurd claims about Russian meddling, they would often respond to data like I presented yesterday on Democratic losses by blaming gerrymandering. I would often point out that this does not explain the magnitude of Democratic losses over the last decade. Although many Democrats do not seem to understand how gerrymandering works, I would point out that it has zero bearing on state-wide races, including governors, Senators, and electoral votes in the general election. I would also point out that gerrymandering has often been done to protect the incumbents in both parties, and that Democrats have lost many elections based upon lines drawn while the Democrats were in power.

Democrats who ignore their actual problems, such as failure to stand for anything other than being slightly less conservative than Republicans, are not likely to give up on their favorite excuses. However, if they are willing to listen to another source, Jeff Greenfield has made many of the same arguments I have made in an article entitled The Democrats’ Gerrymandering Obsession–Turning to the courts won’t solve the party’s fundamental problem: connecting with voters:

What ails the party—at every level—goes far beyond alleged Republican skulduggery. And a diagnosis of those ills requires an understanding of what the past decade has wrought.

The Democratic Party, as I wrote here even before the 2016 wipeout, finds itself in its worst shape since the 1920s. From its perch in 2009, when it had a (shaky) filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, a 256-178 majority in the House and control of a majority of states, it has seen a precipitous collapse. That fall began in 2010, when a wave election brought a loss of 63 House seats, six Senate seats—and, most notably—massive loses at the state level. Republicans gained control of the Legislatures in North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, and won 29 governorships.

These defeats did not happen because of gerrymandering (or voter suppression, for that matter), because Democrats had control of the politics before 2010. (When Democrats had political control in North Carolina, for example, it had some of the most unrestrictive voting laws in the country.) In order for the GOP to use its power to entrench its majorities, it had to win those majorities in the first place. That happened because Republicans and their conservative allies poured resources into a workmanlike effort to win control over state politics, while Democrats were mesmerized by the more glamorous fight to win and hold the White House.

Well, isn’t extreme partisan gerrymandering still a noxious tool whose end would help Democrats? Yes, but not nearly as much as you might think. To understand that, look more closely at what has happened in the past four elections. In 2009, Democrats held 60 Senate seats. They now hold 48, counting the two independents who vote with them, Bernie Sanders and Angus King. Some of those losses came in deeply red states, but Democrats also lost seats in competitive places like Colorado, Iowa and Wisconsin. Governorships are now in Republican hands not just in battleground states like Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin but also in Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont, where blue has been the predominant color for years.

What do governorships and Senate seats have in common? They cannot be gerrymandered. What has happened, rather, is that the Democratic Party has lost touch not just with the white working class, of which we’ve heard so much this past year, but with a much broader segment of American voters. When a party loses a statewide election, it’s not because their opponents have cleverly divided their voters into a district or two, or because their voters are “clustered” in a city or two; it’s the product of a larger political failure…

Fundamentally, the crux of the partisan gerrymandering issue is this: The Democratic Party might celebrate a Supreme Court decision that puts limits on the practice, but to substitute that hope for the work of winning elections again is not simply an illusion, but a highly dangerous one.

Republicans have taken advantage of gerrymandering and correction of some of the abuses will be beneficial, but as Greenfield wrote, Democrats are delusional if they blame all their problems on gerrymandering (or Russians), and even a favorable Supreme Court decision on gerrymandering won’t save the Democrats if they do not fix their fundamental problems.

House Democratic Vice Chair Says It Is Time For Democratic Leadership To Go

The Washington Post reports:

A senior House Democrat said Thursday that it’s time for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and two top lieutenants to prepare to step down and make way for the next generation of lawmakers in her caucus.

The comments by Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (Calif.), who as vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus ranks fifth in the 194-member body, are the most explicit to date by a senior congressional Democrat and a member of the California congressional delegation about Pelosi’s political future.

The remarkable thing is not this being said, but that there is any possibility of the senior leadership remaining considering how miserably they have failed. Since the election of Barack Obama, when the Republicans looked like they were destroyed as a national party, the Democrats have lost the White House to a candidate as terrible as Donald Trump. have lost both houses of Congress, and have lost over one thousand seats at the state level.

The Democrats have ceased to stand for anything other than trying to win elections, and their main strategy has to move right and be slightly less conservative than the Republicans. This has repeatedly failed.

There were moments when some in the Democratic leadership questioned the wisdom of nominating Hillary Clinton. This was not because she was a warmonger who spent her career undermining liberal values and used her government positions to enrich herself while violating basic principles of government ethics. They only questioned the nomination of a candidate as unfit for government office as Hillary Clinton when they thought she was vulnerable. When she did well in the first Democratic debate, and briefly looked like a stronger candidate, they had no qualms about breaking the party’s own rules to rig the nomination for her.

When Republicans lost in a landslide in 1964 they did not abandon conservatism. They continued to promote their beliefs, understanding that it could take more than one election cycle to build an electoral majority. They have gone on to win the majority of presidential elections despite Watergate and the fiasco of George W. Bush’s administration.

Democrats, in contrast, have refused to stand for anything, giving many people no reason to vote for them. They have repeatedly ran as a Republican-lite party, failing to try to build their party around principles as the Republicans have done (even if the wrong principles). When a strong candidate surprisingly did come along in 2016 who could bring in the votes of both independents and even many Republicans, the party rejected Sanders. By sticking with Clinton, the Democrats not only lost the White House, they also lost a strong chance at control of the Senate due to losses by Democrats dragged down by Clinton heading the ticket.

Party leaders responsible for the fiasco of nominating Clinton, along with the other mistakes in recent elections, deserve to be replaced.

Tillerson May Have Called Trump A Moron But Is Not Likely To Be Fired

By most accounts, Rex Tillerson is doing a terrible job as Secretary of State, and has alienated many potential allies, but we do have to give him some points for if he really called Donald Trump a moron after a July 20 meeting. With all his faults he is still more rational than Trump (who is a moron, after all). For example, Tillerson has wanted to negotiate with North Korea, while Trump said he is wasting his time doing so.

While there has been speculation Tillerson might be leaving the State Department, I’ve seen good arguments as to why he is not likely to either be fired or quit. Buzzfeed explained why he will most likely be staying around longer:

One US official expressed confidence in Tillerson’s status due to a so-called “suicide pact” forged between Defense Secretary James Mattis, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Tillerson whereby all three cabinet secretaries vow to leave in the event that the president makes moves against one of them.

Other Trump insiders point to the potentially hefty tax bill Tillerson would have to pay if he resigns before serving a year in government.

Of course I write this realizing that Trump has often done things which others thought was  unlikely, so I will have to hedge a bit on this prediction.

House Republicans Pass Anti-Abortion Bill Based On Pseudo-Science

Conservatives rarely give up on a bad idea, and have no problem with basing their legislation on junk science. Back in January, 2015 I wrote about Republican efforts to restrict abortion based upon the scientifically invalid idea that a fetus can feel pain at twenty weeks:

Conservative efforts to ban abortions after 20 weeks are based on ignoring science, just as many conservatives do in denying evolution and climate change. Conservatives make pseudo-scientific claims that the fetus can feel pain at this point, despite the cerebral cortex not being developed until well after this point. There is no real controversy over this point in medicine. Conservatives sometimes twist studies showing simple reflexes as indicating that the fetus is feeling pain. Often they misquote researchers to falsely claim their is a scientific basis for their bogus claims. More on this faux controversy over the science here and here.

The 20 week ban is especially harmful to the rights of women as fetal abnormalities are often not discovered until after this point. It is understandable that a woman who discovers after 20 weeks that she is carrying a fetus which has severe brain abnormalities which would prevent survival might want to abort, but Republicans would deny them this choice by setting an arbitrary limit before such abnormalities are apparent. It is also feared that once they set the line at 20 weeks they will use more pseudo-science to justify moving it up.

Conservatives have also practiced pseudo-science in trying to make the abortion debate over the moment when life begins, when development of the human embryo and fetus is a continuum. Conception is a process without an exact moment at which it occurs, and even fertilization can take twenty-four hours.

If conservatives are really concerned about preventing fetal pain their policies are counterproductive. Late term abortions are very rare in this country, primarily done when the mother’s health is in danger. Another common reason for abortions being delayed until after 20 weeks is the inability of the mother to obtain the abortion earlier, often due to roadblocks placed by Republicans making abortions more difficult to obtain. Of course Republican opposition to contraception further increases the number of abortions. If conservatives were consistent in desiring to prevent fetal pain, they should facilitate the ability of women to obtain both contraception and to obtain early abortions even beyond twenty weeks and before the actual ability to feel pain is present.

What I wrote in that previous post still applies today as the House of Representatives passed a bill to ban abortions nationwide after twenty weeks, ignoring the fundamental right of a woman to control her own body, ignoring the science, and even ignoring conservative arguments regarding states’ rights. Vox reports on this, and presents arguments regarding the science similar to those made above:

The House voted on Tuesday to pass a bill that would make abortion after 20 weeks illegal in every state in the country. Called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, it’s based on the idea that a fetus at 20 weeks’ gestation can feel pain.

“The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act will protect the voiceless, the vulnerable, and the marginalized,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the House majority leader, in a statement last month. “It will protect those children who science has proven can feel pain.” President Donald Trump has promised to sign the bill if it passes; during the campaign, he said such a bill “would end painful late-term abortions nationwide.”

In fact, the best available science shows that fetuses probably cannot feel pain until well after 20 weeks. Advocates of abortion rights say 20-week bans at the state level have harmed women, forcing them to travel to another state, often at great expense, to get the care they seek. And opponents of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act fear that, though it is unlikely to pass the Senate, it will ultimately spread dangerous misinformation…

The text of the bill includes a section on the science of fetal pain, which states that “there is substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization, if not earlier.”

However, the general scientific consensus is that no such evidence exists. “There’s actually conclusive evidence that shows that the neurologic structures in a fetus aren’t completely laid down and working yet until much further along in pregnancy, we think even the third trimester,” said Jennifer Conti, a clinical assistant professor and OB-GYN at Stanford University and a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health. Twenty weeks, she said, “is just an arbitrary limit set in place by politicians that has no medical or scientific backing.”

The most comprehensive look at fetal pain to date was a literature review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2005. According to the review, the structures needed for fetuses to feel pain begin to develop between 23 and 30 weeks’ gestation, and studies of premature babies suggest they can’t feel pain until 29 or 30 weeks. While this review is now 12 years old, it still holds true — “no research since its publication has contradicted its findings,” wrote Mark S. DeFrancesco on behalf of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2015.

The House bill makes a number of claims that contradict scientific consensus. For instance, the bill states that “after 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, for example, by recoiling.” However, according to the group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California, San Francisco, “limb withdrawal occurs even in full-term babies in response to non-painful tactile sensations, including light touch. Thus the appearance of limb withdrawal on ultrasound represents a reflex rather than a response to pain.”

Information Released On Facebook Ads Continues To Be Of Minimal Significance

With most of the accusations that Russia rigged the election going nowhere, Clinton supporters continue to concentrate on blaming Russian ads for Hillary Clinton’s loss. As I’ve previously noted, the actual amount that Russia is accused of spending on Facebook ads is a tiny portion of overall campaign spending–as well as trivial compared to US efforts to intervene in the elections of other nations. As Shattered revealed, Clinton latched onto the idea that others such as Russia were responsible for her loss within twenty-four hours of losing in order to shift the blame away from her for losing a campaign any competent candidate could have easily won.

Facebook has released additional information about the ads:

What was in the ads you shared with Congress? How many people saw them? 
Most of the ads appear to focus on divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum, touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights. A number of them appear to encourage people to follow Pages on these issues.

Here are a few other facts about the ads:

An estimated 10 million people in the US saw the ads. We were able to approximate the number of unique people (“reach”) who saw at least one of these ads, with our best modeling
44% of the ads were seen before the US election on November 8, 2016; 56% were seen after the election.
Roughly 25% of the ads were never shown to anyone. That’s because advertising auctions are designed so that ads reach  people based on relevance, and certain ads may not reach anyone as a result.
For 50% of the ads, less than $3 was spent; for 99% of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent.

Additional information is provided. The major violation of Facebook’s advertising policies appears to be the inauthenticity of the ads, and many would have been permissible if the Russians had purchased the ads in a transparent manner. According to Facebook, “many of these ads did not violate our content policies. That means that for most of them, if they had been run by authentic individuals, anywhere, they could have remained on the platform.”

There are also freedom of expression concerns which are often ignored by those protesting the publication of anything critical of Hillary Clinton. Facebook addressed the matter of freedom of speech:

Shouldn’t you stop foreigners from meddling in US social issues?
The right to speak out on global issues that cross borders is an important principle. Organizations such as UNICEF, Oxfam or religious organizations depend on the ability to communicate — and advertise — their views in a wide range of countries. While we may not always agree with the positions of those who would speak on issues here, we believe in their right to do so — just as we believe in the right of Americans to express opinions on issues in other countries.

Some of these ads and other content on Facebook appear to sow division in America and other countries at a time of increasing social unrest. If these ads or content were placed or posted authentically, you would allow many of these. Why?
This is an issue we have debated a great deal. We understand that Facebook has become an important platform for social and political expression in the US and around the world. We are focused on developing greater safeguards against malicious interference in elections and strengthening our advertising policies and enforcement to prevent abuse.

As an increasingly important and widespread platform for political and social expression, we at Facebook — and all of us — must also take seriously the crucial place that free political speech occupies around the world in protecting democracy and the rights of those who are in the minority, who are oppressed or who have views that are not held by the majority or those in power. Even when we have taken all steps to control abuse, there will be political and social content that will appear on our platform that people will find objectionable, and that we will find objectionable. We permit these messages because we share the values of free speech — that when the right to speech is censored or restricted for any of us, it diminishes the rights to speech for all of us, and that when people have the right and opportunity to engage in free and full political expression, over time, they will move forward, not backwards, in promoting democracy and the rights of all.

Nobody has offered a meaningful explanation as to how this ad buy could have had a more important role in determining the election results than the far larger efforts by the candidates and their US supporters, including the paid trolls used by the Clinton campaign on social media. Those who did see these Facebook ads undoubtedly saw many, many more ads from other sources. It is also doubtful that having a Facebook ad appearing on one’s news feed is going to change one’s vote.

It is also worth considering that Russia did have legitimate concerns regarding the outcome of the US election. The Democratic candidate (who received the nomination due to a quite undemocratic system which was little different from choosing the nominee in the proverbial smoked-filled rooms), was one of the most hawkish candidates to run for political office to recent years, with many of her neocon allies supporting regime change in Russia similar to the regime change Clinton has backed in other countries. She has a long history of belligerence towards Russia, along with a history of meddling in Russia’s election when Putin was a candidate. Russia (as did many American voters) had good reason to believe that the election of Clinton would lead to a restoration of cold war style hostilities at very least, with direct military conflict a very real possibility.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; The Orville; Doctor Who

Overall I was very impressed with the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery. While there are some aspects I question, overall it did feel like Star Trek, both modernized by the improved special effect available and the more serialized story telling common on television today.

I do question both whether the Vulcan salute would have been effective in this situation against the Klingons and whether someone, after serving for seven years on a Federation Starship, would disobey the captain in this manner. For now I will accept the premise that an implausible but possible event did occur and give the writers the opportunity to see where they take this. From various interviews (such as here) it does appear that they have given this matter, and sticking with established Star Trek canon, considerable consideration.

Michael Burnham does follow in a long Star Trek tradition of characters with identity issues, including Spock, Data, Seven of Nine, and the Emergency Medical Hologram. Captain Georgiou’s quick recovery from the Vulcan nerve pinch was important to the plot, but also has me wondering what we will see in the future in terms of both Burnham acting as a Vulcan and the limitations of a human doing so. The first two episodes seemed to summarize what could have been another seven year series about the Shenzou, with Burnham showing considerable growth from how she appeared in the flashback at the start of the second episode.

There was a tendency to use special effects because they could, sometimes benefiting the episode, and sometimes being unnecessary. I did question seeing Burnham flying to the Klingon ship in only in her spacesuit. On the other hand, there is no question that they should modernize the look of the bridge from the 1960’s instrument panels of the original show. Despite the modernization of the ship, they had the old style sound effects down perfect. The changing look of Klingons over time has been around since The Next Generation moved beyond the simplistic look from The Original Show and it is best not to question this.

The use of holograms for communication seemed an unnecessary change from the on screen communications we are accustomed to. It is important that this does fit within Star Trek canon, but there are also limits to the degree fans should demand this be true of every detail. Once something is shown on Discovery, by definition it does become canon. As holograms are based upon science already existing this could be explained as Star Fleet experimenting with this, abandoning it for a while, and then trying again in the Deep Space 9 era when it was seen again. (My theory to make this all consistent is that Star Fleet admirals had taken up working with their pants off between the years of Discovery and The Original Show and therefore demanded communications based upon above-the waist view screens as opposed to full body holograms.)

I also had my doubts about the communication between Burnham and Sarek, and unless this becomes important for future episodes, the story could have easily been written without utilizing this.

Despite such nitpicks, the show looks very promising. While I have some doubts about the details of the issue, it is typical Star Trek to raise the question of whether the Federation would shoot first even if more expedient. Even if less extreme, there is also a long history of Star Trek heroes breaking the rules. While some of the scenes with Klingon subtitles did get a little long, I am glad they are showing the Klingons as more than a one dimensional villain.

They did an excellent job both with production values and in keeping the story interesting, including ending each of the first episodes with a cliff hanger which should make viewers want to keep watching. If this was on Netflix instead of CBS All Access and the full season was available, I would have kept watching longer.

Despite small elements which some might argue violate canon, at least they did not destroy Vulcan as J.J. Abrams did with the flimsy excuse that it was s different timeline. Even if we might question Michael’s existence in Sarek’s family, it appears this series will be well tied into other aspects of canon related to Vulcans. This includes the addition of Sarek’s wife Amanda to the series, with Mia Kirshner cast for the role.

I have been rooting for The Orville to succeed, but have also recognized it problems. The show has received considerable criticism, with there being no need to repeat that once again. The show also does have its fans. For balance I’ll link to this reviewSeth MacFarlane’s ‘The Orville’ Is The ‘Star Trek’ Show Fans Have Been Waiting For. Some excerpts follow:

By not having a budget (or requirements) for wall-to-wall spectacle, the hour-long Fox show is forced to focus on character, chemistry, sci-fi plotting and moral debates that have partially defined Gene Roddenberry’s property for generations. Yes, to a certain extent it’s fan fiction, but then so is so much of our current pop culture entertainment. But by being a network television show, it is forced to be the kind of Star Trek that fans claim the recent movies have neglected in favor of four-quadrant blockbuster thrills. The Orville is not a spoof, but rather a straight-faced Trek show with characters who are funny and can laugh at funny events…

Sans the pressure to be bigger, bolder, faster, and free from the budget and expectations that demand big-scale action sequences and “the world is in peril” plotting, The Orville uses its adventure of the week format to explore modern-day social issues and tackle current moral dilemmas in a sci-fi venue. I like its characters, and I like that they are good at what they do and seem to like each other. The show is refreshingly progressive in its politics, and optimistic to its core. It is a Star Trek show for folks who want something a bit old-school.

Again, I haven’t seen the third episode of Star Trek Discovery, and I frankly don’t wish to make it a competition. The best-case scenario is that the CBS show, with a superb lead in Sonequa Martin-Green, offers high-quality, big-scale Star Trek while Fox’s “homage” offers a more traditional Trek which emphasizes cast chemistry and social issues of the day. For those fans who were turned off by the jokey previews and commercials, I’d suggest giving The Orville another shot, starting perhaps with the second episode which begins to spotlight the supporting cast.

The irony is that, by ripping off rather than revamping and by being hamstrung by network television production values and thus putting an emphasis on character and social parable over sci-fi action, The Orville has a pretty good shot at becoming the kind of Star Trek that fans claim to want so badly. I’m hoping this variation indeed lives long and prospers.

The review is rather generous, but I do want to give The Orville the chance to correct its flaws. I do agree with Screen Rant that, No, The Orville Is Not Better Than Star Trek: Discovery. Of course it does not have to be a competition and we can enjoy each series for the different things it tries to accomplish.

While we are now getting two versions of one of the great science fiction franchises which started in the 1960’s, we have to wait until December to see more of Doctor Who. I still plan to try to post Doctor Who news regularly while we wait. This week Pearl Mackie has told Radio Times that the Christmas episode will be an emotional farewell for Peter Capaldi:

The final farewell of Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor, the departure of well-loved companion Bill Potts, the groundbreaking introduction of the first ever female Doctor – the signs were always there.

But just in case you were in any doubt, Pearl Mackie can confirm that, yes, this is indeed going to be an emotional Doctor Who Christmas special…

“I’d say have a box of tissues close at hand,” Mackie tells RadioTimes.com. “As to be expected: it’s Peter’s last episode as the Doctor and my last episode as well.”

But is it? Given that Mackie’s character Bill had supposedly made her last appearance at the end of series ten – only to be handed a comeback in the special immediately afterwards – should we even trust that this is the last we’ll see of her?

“One of the wonderful things about Doctor Who is that the world of possibilities is endless,” teases Mackie, “so I guess, never say never…”

We can also hope to see the return of others beyond Bill. Radio Times also reports that Alex Kingston would like to see a reunion with Captain Jack:

Both time-travelling lotharios who love conning their way around the galaxy with a vortex manipulator, we can’t help but feel they’d do well in their own Doctor Who spin-off, or even just an episode where they finally meet – and now it turns out that River Song actor Alex Kingston feels the exact same way.

“I think it’d be great if she met with Captain Jack Harkness,” Kingston said at Edmonton Expo in Canada. “It’s funny because John and I, we talk about, we imagine, fantasise about all the possibilities.”

She also said, “Not necessarily a spin-off show, but it kind of would be great if even the Doctor happened upon a bar in the universe where River and Captain Jack happened to be sitting, having a drink or something. I think it’d be cool!”

Donald Trump May Have Reached A New Low With Attacks On Mayor Of San Juan

Donald Trump has done so many despicable things that I’m no longer sure where to rank his latest feud with the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico. His mishandling of this situation is reminiscent of George Bush’s mishandling of Katrina. The New York Times described his latest atrocious statements criticizing someone during a time of crisis:

President Trump lashed out at the mayor of San Juan on Saturday for criticizing his administration’s efforts to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, accusing her of “poor leadership” and implying that the people of the devastated island were not doing enough to help themselves.

As emergency workers and troops struggled to restore basic services in a commonwealth with no electricity and limited fuel and water, Mr. Trump spent the day at his New Jersey golf club, blasting out Twitter messages defending his response to the storm and repeatedly assailing the capital’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, and the news media.

“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.”

Mr. Trump said the people of Puerto Rico should not depend entirely on the federal government. “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” he wrote. “10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job. The military and first responders, despite no electric, roads, phones etc., have done an amazing job. Puerto Rico was totally destroyed.”

The president’s stream of Twitter bolts appeared repeatedly over the course of 12 hours and touched off a furious day of recriminations that fueled questions about his leadership during the crisis. Although Mr. Trump earned generally high marks for his handling of hurricanes that struck Texas and Florida recently, he has been sharply criticized for being slow to sense the magnitude of the damage in Puerto Rico, an American territory, and project urgency about helping.

He has explained that the challenges are different because Puerto Rico is “an island surrounded by water — big water, ocean water,” as he put it on Friday, but in recent days he has stepped up his public statements and dispatched a three-star general to take over the response. Mr. Trump’s aggressive Twitter messages on Saturday were in keeping with how he has acted during other moments of crisis, notably when he assailed the mayor of London, who is Muslim, after a terrorist attack, asserting that he did not take the threat seriously enough.

The Washington Post has described her record far more favorably, and objectively, than Trump has. Attacking her during this crisis must fall among the worst statements from Trump. James Fallows calls it a new low:

…his Twitter outburst this morning — as he has left Washington on another trip to one of his golf courses, as millions of U.S. citizens are without water or electricity after the historic devastation of Hurricane Maria, as by chance it is also Yom Kippur — deserves note. It is a significant step downward for him, and perhaps the first thing he has done in office that, in its coarseness, has actually surprised me. (I explained the difference, for me, between shock and surprisewhen it comes to Trump, in this item last week.) Temperamentally, intellectually, and in terms of civic and moral imagination, he is not fit for the duties he is now supposed to bear…

A man who can say these things—from a golf course, while millions of his fellow citizens are in dire straits, and during an emergency that is worse because of his own narcissistic inattention—does not understand the job.

This has not happened before. It is not normal. It should not be acceptable. The United States is a big, resilient country, but a man like this can do severe damage to it and the world — and at the moment, he is leaving many Americans in mortal peril.

During the campaign, I argued that the greatest responsibility for Trump’s rise lay not with the man himself—he is who he is, he can’t help it—but with those Republicans who know what he is, and continue to look the other way. Their responsibility for the carnage of this era increases by the day, and has grown by quite a lot this weekend.

As it happens, I wrote and published that preceding paragraph a week ago.  The Republicans’ responsibility is all the graver now, and deepens by the day.

Of course similar criticism can be made about Democratic partisans who ignore how Hillary Clinton has spent her career undermining liberal values, repeatedly promoting unnecessary, lying almost as much as Donald Trump (nobody is likely to surpass Trump here), and (like Trump) using her public positions for personal financial gain. Democratic partisans who excuse Clinton’s disregard for government transparency, lying to the American people, and probable obstruction of justice with slogans like “but her email” are hardly any different than Republican partisans who support Trump. Ignoring evil out of partisanship is wrong regardless of party.

I don’t see much hope for improvement in our government until more people from both parties judge politicians by both higher standards and by the same standards, regardless of whether they are from their party or the opposing party.

Update: Vox writes, Puerto Rico is all our worst fears about Trump coming real–A real crisis comes and Trump can’t handle it.

Jared Kushner Failed To Disclose Private Email Account To Senate Intelligence Committee

We have significant new information regarding Jared Kushner’s use of private email. As I discussed earlier in the week, if his attorney has been telling the complete truth (which is a big if), then Kushner does not appear to have violated the rules regarding the use of personal emails as Hillary Clinton did. The differences were that Clinton exclusively used a private server, destroyed over half the email with claims later shown to be false that she only destroyed private email, discussed classified information in her private email, and failed to turn the email over to be archived as required. Kusher’s lawyer had claimed that he primarily used government email and that he has turned over copies of private email discussing government business to be archived.

CNN reports a new aspect which of the case with Kushner being accused of failing to disclose the private email account when testifying before the Senate:

In his closed interview with the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, White House senior adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner did not share the existence of his personal email account, which he has used for official business, CNN has learned.

CNN has also learned that the chair and vice chair of the committee were so unhappy that they learned about the existence of his personal email account via news reports that they wrote him a letter via his attorney Thursday instructing him to double-check that he has turned over every relevant document to the committee including those from his “‘personal email account’ described to the news media, as well as all other email accounts, messaging apps, or similar communications channels you may have used, or that may contain information relevant to our inquiry.”

The emphasis in the letter on “all other” personal accounts not known by the committee would seem to be a reflection of the frustration the committee leaders feel with that fact that Kushner was not up-front about the existence of his personal email account and their desire for him to cover the bases of all his possible communications avenues when responding to their letter. This issue could become more serious if there emerge any emails or communications related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election that Kushner has not turned over, and whether he did so with the express purpose of concealing information from the committee.

If this is true, it would not be the first time Kushner failed to disclose relevant information:

Kushner has been criticized in the past for initially not disclosing more than 100 contacts with foreign leaders including those from Russia, as well as ownership of a multimillion dollar tech company with links to Goldman Sachs and businessmen Peter Thiel and George Soros. Kushner was also one of three top campaign officials or surrogates who failed to disclose a June 2016 meeting with a woman billed as being with the Russian government and having incriminating information on Hillary Clinton.

Of course Hillary Clinton was also far from honest in her testimony before Congress. Her testimony to the FBI, when she faced a more serious risk of perjury and was therefore more likely to be honest, differed significantly from what she had been saying before Congress and to the American people.

How Could Hillary Clinton Possibly Win With Twitter And Facebook Both Infiltrated By Putin?

We all know that most people base their votes upon what they see on Twitter along with Facebook ads. As Twitter goes, so goes America.

Of course I am being sarcastic in response to the latest anti-Russia scare to hit the media and be investigated by Congress. Reportedly Twitter was packed with fake news the week before the election, allegedly even including fake news from Russia to attempt to sway the course of the election.

So far we have seen many sensationalist reports of Russian attempts to influence the election, with many quickly falling apart. At this point we really do not know if the release of email from the DNC was from a Russian hack or an inside leak–although nobody questions the accuracy of the information from Wikilieaks which shows how the DNC violated their own rules to rig the nomination for Hillary Clinton. Russians might have attempted to hack voting machines, but even if these reports are accurate, they all indicate that none of the attempts were successful.

Similarly reports of Russia using Twitter may or may not turn out to be true, but even if they are my true view is the same as the reports of Russia spending a rather trivial 100,000 on Facebook ads. What is posted on Facebook and Twitter is not what determines election results. It is questionable how any persuadable voters there are period. Those who are persuadable are faced with far more campaign ads and other efforts from the campaigns themselves (including paid trolls used by a pro-Clinton SuperPAC known to have coordinated with her campaign using legal loopholes), and these actions on Facebook and Twitter are rather trivial in comparison.

Is Clinton really trying to claim that Russian trolls on Twitter were more effective in campaigning for her in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania than her own campaign was?

The real fake news is Hillary Clinton’s attempts to shift the blame for her loss to others. Shattered revealed that Clinton decided within twenty-four hours of losing to blame others such as Russia, as opposed to taking responsibility for her own mistakes. Did Russia send Hillary Clinton a tweet telling her to set up the private server–and then spend the next couple of years lying about it? Did Russia send Hillary Clinton a tweet telling her not to campaign in Wisconsin or Michigan?

Update: Best response to the post on Facebook–“Lord knows it’s hard enough to know what to think when my husband doesn’t tell me. So glad I have Twitter and Facebook to help me when he’s not around and I don’t know what to do!!”