Sunday, February 19, 2017

Trump's Russian Owners

Donald Trump likes to claim that he doesn't own any property in Russia. At the carnage he called a press conference last week he said: “I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia.”

This isn't through a lack of trying: Trump has tried numerous times, but has failed to close any deals in Russia.

While Trump doesn't own anything in Russia, a lot of Russians own pieces of Trump:
Dolly Lenz, a real estate broker in New York, said she sold about 65 units in Trump World Tower, a condominium tower at 845 U.N. Plaza in Manhattan, to Russian buyers looking for real estate investments in the late 1990s. “I had contacts in Moscow looking to invest in the United States,” Lenz said. “’What do you have to recommend?’ They all wanted to meet Donald. They became very friendly.”
And this:
In 2008, Trump sold a mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $95 million. On the campaign trail, Trump at one point claimed it was his only dealing with Russia, but that’s not accurate.
The Russian paid far more than market value, for some strange reason...
The same year he sold the mansion, his son, Donald Trump Jr., told the global trade publication eTurboNews that Russians were key investors in the Trump Organization’s assets. "And in terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York,” Trump Jr. said in the interview. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. There's indeed a lot of money coming for new-builds and resale reflecting a trend in the Russian economy and, of course, the weak dollar versus the ruble." 
Just before the election the Trump Toronto hotel went bankrupt. It's managed by Trump's company and was financed by Russians.

When American banks stopped lending money to Trump after his numerous bankruptcies, he turned to Russians for financial backing for his new projects 
The most notable — and most notorious — of Trump’s Russian investors came through the Bayrock Group, which according to CNN, was “a company run by Soviet immigrants, and according to a lawsuit filed, financed by Russian and Kazakhstan money.” Bayrock, whose operations were headed by a man accused in a lawsuit of using “mob-like tactics to achieve his goals,” helped develop huge Trump projects in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Phoenix, Arizona, and New York.
Yes, Trump doesn't any property in Russia. But the situation is actually far worse: he is in bed with a lot of questionable Russians and he owes a lot of Russians a lot of money.

We don't really know the extent of Trump's indebtedness to the Russians, but it's a huge conflict of interest. It's only one of the many reasons why Congress should release his tax returns so that the people of the United States can see just how much Trump owes his foreign masters.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Trump's Security Incompetence

Donald Trump shows an alarming incompetence when it comes to matters of security.

His national security advisor, Michael Flynn, was just fired for lying about discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador. The reason we know this is that the NSA recorded the exchange. Which means Flynn is an idiot for not realizing that this is what the NSA does for a living.

US intelligence agencies report that at least four close Trump associates have been in contact with Russian spies. Paul Manafort, one of Trump's many campaign managers, whined that spies don't wear badges. But that's not the point: why aren't these guys vetting their contacts with Russia? If they're not colluding with the Russians, why are they even talking to them?

Trump himself discussed North Korea's missile launch with the Japanese prime minister in front of a yuuuge crowd of diners at his Mar-a-Lago resort. People posted pictures on Facebook of Trump and Abe looking at secret briefing documents. Trump himself is the biggest security breach in Washington.

The Wall Street Journal reports that intelligence agencies are withholding certain information from Trump because he can't be trusted with it. Why? Trump can't process the information himself: he doesn't know anything, so he has to rely on his aides to tell him what's relevant in the security briefings. Aides like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller cannot be trusted.

Trump is now looking at a replacement for Flynn. His first choice, Robert Harward, has turned him down, ostensibly for financial and family reasons. But the real reasons appear to be the state of total chaos in the White House, and the fact that Trump won't let him choose his own staff. Only Trump loyalists are allowed.

Trump's no. 1 pick now? David Petraeus, who was fired from the CIA when it was revealed that he was having an affair with a writer and had given her hundreds of classified documents.

Donald Trump's judgment is terrible when it comes to matters of security. Which is kind of weird: he goes nuts about leaks to the press, but he's totally careless when it comes keeping the nation's secrets. His record of putting equally careless people in charge of security puts our country's safety in jeopardy.

The Magic R

When you are a Republican, a different set of rules applies to you. You get away with shit that Democrats would be destroyed for. Worse, the very thing that you spend years ripping Dems for, you get to do with zero repercussions.

Last night on Real Time, Bill Maher most eloquently expressed something that has frustrated me for years. Democrats are held to a different standard because they are the adults while Republicans (the adolescents) are given a very wide degree of latitude of words and behavior.

It must stop. Yesterday.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Fake President

Yesterday Donald Trump had a solo press conference (who's a big boy?). It was a disaster: packed full of bragging and lying, it was a command performance of dickish adolescent behavior combined with the senescent forgetfulness of an Alzheimer's patient.

For example:
I put it out before the American people, got 306 Electoral College votes. I wasn’t supposed to get 222. They said there’s no way to get 222, 230’s impossible.

270 which you need, that was laughable. We got 306 because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before so that’s the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan. In other words, the media’s trying to attack our administration because they know we are following through on pledges that we made and they’re not happy about it for whatever reason.
Trump has been repeating the lie that he got the biggest electoral college majority for more than two months now. He has been corrected dozens of times, yet he keeps saying it. When the reporter pointed this out to him yet again this is how he responded (The Daily Show has video):
Question: You said today that you had the biggest electoral margin since Ronald Reagan with 304 ... 306 electoral votes. In fact, President Obama about 365 and--

Trump: Well, I'm talking about Republicans. Question: ... President Obama 332, and George H.W. Bush 426 when he won as president.
Trump: Yeah.

Question: So why should Americans trust...

Trump: What, no, I was told... I was given that information. I don't know, I was just given, we had a very, very big margin.

Question: I guess my question why should Americans trust you when you accuse the information they receive as being fake when you're proving information that's --

Trump: Well, I don’t know, I was given that information. I was given — I actually, I’ve seen that information around. But it was a very substantial victory, do you agree with that? OK thank you, that’s...
His response to being caught lying again is to say, "I was just talking about Republicans," and when he's caught lying yet again, he says, "I was given that information."

Is he the president or a kid who didn't do his homework and is claiming the dog ate it?

Or is Trump a duffer who keeps bragging about that one time he shot two under par, when in reality his caddy was dropping balls back on the fairway after Trump sliced into the rough?

These antics mean one of three things:

1) His aides are (repeatedly) feeding him the same lie that he just mouths in front of the press, in which case he's a puppet of Bannon and Miller.

2) He really can't remember the numerous times he's been corrected on this point, in which case he's already suffering from senile dementia.

3) He knows he's lying and doesn't care, thinking that if he repeats the lie often enough people will be duped by it.

All of these behaviors are disqualifying in a president. If this was just a one-off, we could ignore it. But since he repeats these behaviors over and over, he cannot be trusted to lead the country.

Listening to Trump speak, it's clear that he's just a jerk and doesn't really know anything that a president needs to know. He's totally at the mercy of aides who are much smarter than he is, with agendas that run counter to American democracy.

Given his many bankruptcies and failed ventures like Trump "University," Trump doesn't seem to be good at anything, except self promotion and golf -- by some reports he's a decent amateur (but he cheats all the time).

Speaking of golf, during the campaign Trump complained about how frequently Obama played golf. It's only been a month now, and Trump is flying down to Florida most every weekend to play golf, at great taxpayer expense and huge inconvenience to users of the airport in Palm Beach, which is shut down every time Trump is around.

Congress should let Trump spend all his time on the links -- they should impeach this clown before he does something really stupid.

Everything is Awesome!

Here is the entire, unedited press conference yesterday with President Trump.

Nikto has a post going up later with his own thoughts but here are mine.

The entire thing reminded me of every right wing blogger and right wing blog commenter that I've ever had a discussion with in my life. Filled with lies...arrogance...a profound sense of self importance where there really shouldn't be any...imperial decrees...unfocused...rambling...all of the above. In Trump's world, everything is awesome! Honestly, if we can make it through this presidency (however long it lasts), our country is the strongest in human history.

Of course, his supporters (around 40% of voters) think that it was AWESOME! They are cheering the smug liberal elite communist media and libtards freaking out over yesterday. Yay, us!! Watch them all squirm. Never mind that our president is nuts. We just love us some liberals being tortured!!!
Perhaps they might want to be a little nicer to all of us considering we are going to be the ones cleaning up this mess. Like many adolescents, I don't expect them to see this. To be totally fair, though, there are some Trump supporters (and I think this number is growing as more of this insanity happens) that are calling him to the mat. If he loses a significant portion of them, Congress would be more amenable to a President Pence.

The best thing the sane people can do in this country is focus on winning back one or both houses in 2018. Donald Trump is going to continue to be himself until he loses. He truly believes that he has the majority of the country behind him. He won't change until he is forced to change as we saw with the judicial block on his immigration ban.

Get everyone registered to vote and get them out THIS year so they know what they are doing and be ready for 2018.

Who Benefits Most From The Nanny State? White People.

Take look at this chart

This is the real story of the 2016 election. The people that benefit the most from the "nanny state" also voted for Donald Trump. Why? My only guess is that perhaps it's some sort of self loathing.

Of course, the facts won't really matter because that's the age we live in. I'm sure these same folks believe that illegal non whites are taxing the system.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Reach Out And Feel Their Pain

Bill gets pretty serious in the video above as he discussed the relation between drug addiction and states that voted for Trump. While mildly funny at first, it's really not a joking matter. People that have lost hope reach out for charlatans like Donald Trump because they convince themselves that he can save them.

If Democrats want to start taking back the state houses and ultimately Congress and the White House, they need to reach out to these folks and feel their pain.

A New Level of Moronic

CNN has a nice summary up of what we know regarding Donald Trump, his advisers, and Russia. It's good information to have but there are few things that have been left out.

Perhaps the most important item is the fact that the president has now declared war on the intelligence community. It makes sense after this tantrum that we now know they are keeping sensitive information from him. Further, Trump's open disdain is likely going to cost him in a big way. Check this out.

US intelligence is not the problem here.

The President's collusion with Russian intelligence is.

Many details, but the essence is simple.

Now we go nuclear. IC war going to new levels. Just got an EM fm senior IC friend, it began: "He will die in jail." 

John Schindler is a former NSA intelligence analyst. I've always thought that Donald Trump was idiotic but this is far worse than I could have possibly imagined. Pissing off the people who likely have compromising information on you is a new level of moronic.

Worse, these are the people that protect us on a daily basis from extremist attacks. The alt right (aka Russian intelligence useful idiots) is now accusing them of being some sort of Obama shadow government perfectly illustrating the epic fail of responsibility and ownership of their actions. They are in charge and they are STILL blaming Barack Obama!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How Long?

With members of both parties in Congress calling for a deeper investigation into Trump administration ties to Russian intelligence, we've now moved into a place where it's easier to imagine the president not lasting very long.

High-level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence, multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials tell CNN. Michael Flynn, the recently fired National Security Adviser who barely lasted three weeks, shared information with the Russian Ambassador to the United States and the White House knew about this three weeks ago.

How much more synergy is there between Russia and Trump and his administration? Based on the president's past comments and actions (see here, here and here), it's obvious that he is beholden to Russia in a detrimental way. The Flynn revelations make it necessary for there to be a more complete and intensive investigation.

So, how long is Trump going to last as president? He's barely started and this investigation is going to severely impede his ability to get anything done. That and the fact that his staff of right wing bloggers and commenters are so incredibly incompetent and allergic to reality that they can't seem to function as a team and get anything done.

I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't make it to the end of the year...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Arrogant, Self Important, and Ideologically Blind

Jordan Greenhall's piece entitled "Situational Assessment 2017: Trump Edition – Deep Code" is the current "darling post" making the rounds in alt right circles. I've decided to offer my own "deep code" of it because it's quite possibly the most arrogant, self important, and ideologically blind piece I have ever read. There are several profound flaws in it and I will detail each one as they appear throughout his piece.

Greenhall mentions the “Trump insurgency” and how it will affect change in our country against what he perceives as the status quo. The problem with this line of thought is that it’s no longer an insurgency. Donald Trump is president. Steve Bannon is a senior adviser. Trump’s staff is filled with insurgents with alt right bloggers and pundits now regular staples of the White House. All of this means they are no longer insurgent but in charge. They are now responsible for leading this country. To continue to claim that they are some sort of rebels is not reflective of reality and makes me wonder if they know any other way to behave. Certainly, they are going to find out because the American voter will hold them responsible.
His lack of comparison to the 2000 election and his attempt at synergy with the American revolution are both in error. As with the 2000 election, the 2016 winning candidate lost the popular vote and this time by nearly 3 million votes. Some “revolution.” Further, the margins in the states that put Trump over the top in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan were so small that they clearly betrayed a lack of enthusiasm for either candidate. In fact, the voters that won it for Trump are the same ones that voted for Obama twice. Again, what revolution? That’s merely people perpetually voting for change.
The comparison of the alt right to the American revolutionaries has become rather tiresome. Honestly, it’s overly self important and arrogant. The Tea Party did it 8 years ago and it wasn’t really applicable then. The federal government is not a monarchy with a mandate from heaven. The media is not some ogre like entity bent on destroying the US Constitution. No king is stopping people from getting involved in the political process. People are represented by the people they elect who are mostly Republican these days.
Greenhall’s analysis of the communications infrastructure makes no sense whatsoever. Donald Trump has been a part of the legacy sensemaking system. He has been a huge drive of multiple elements within the Deep State network for three decades. He is still an executive producer for a show on NBC! How is that insurgent? New media is dominated by political viewpoints all across the political spectrum. The “insurgency” isn’t merely limited to the alt right. Does Greenhall think that Benie Sanders grew out of a vacuum?
No one in the mainstream media is preventing people from posting on blogs, social media, or their own web sites. There is a veritable multitude of information outlets out there, so much so, that the real challenge is to sift through it all and find accurate information and critical thinking. Clearly, Greenhall is not embracing the such thinking as he openly derides the criticism of “fake news.”
What he perceives as a threat to their way of life, critical thinkers in outfits like the New York Times and CNN see fake news for what it is: lying. When you have a group of people leading our country who regularly engage in ignorance of facts, people are going to lose their lives. It’s just that simple. Now, either they are doing this because they are ideologically stubborn (bad) or they are doing it because they are delusional (worse). Either way, we have to have an acceptance of fundamental reality.
If someone posts something that is factually incorrect just because they feel like it, this same person should not be excused simply for the sake of insurgency.
Donald Trump is not a leader of a “nomadic war machine.” He’s an authoritarian fronting a group of like minded individuals who only want to follow the laws they like and hate being told what to do. These are folks that are proud nationalists who embrace xenophobia and are openly antagonistic against anyone who is different from them. There is no plurality here which makes me wonder just how large this “insurgency” actually is.
Greenhall’s prediction of old media’s downfall is ludicrous. They still have a ton of money and are more popular than ever. Check out the recent ratings of Saturday Night Live. Moreover, the money behind new media is from folks like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, both “smug, liberal elites.”
I’m not sure why the Russians hacking our political system is put in quotations. Does he truly believe that this was a hoax? If so, this betrays an even deeper problem. It’s one thing to look critically at information that comes from our national intelligence agencies. It’s yet another to dismiss ALL information about this as “deep state propaganda.” Does Greenhall not want to admit to being used as a Russian dupe?
His analysis of globalists smacks of mercantilism and protectionism, two ideologies that have been shown, time and again, to be deeply flawed. Free trade and economic liberalism has raised both income and life expectancy in the world. Given Greenhall’s success in the business world from these policies, I wonder how truly genuine he is about this aspect of his analysis.
The whole “Blue Church is killing us” is basically code for, once again, not wanting to follow rules that help society but might be a little inconvenient. And that’s where the rest of his piece descends into Alex Jones territory and I found little merit in what he was saying.
As mentioned in the other answers, Greenhall seems like he’s trying to disseminate propaganda for the alt right to lap up and, in return, heap glorious adulation upon him. It’s as arrogant, self important, and ideologically blind as the people he is trying to impress.

Check out some of the other reactions to it on Quora. 

One Simple Question

Donald Trump's national security advisor Michael Flynn has just resigned for talking with the Russians about removing sanctions Barack Obama had imposed for Russian interference with the American election before Trump was inaugurated. Flynn then lied about this, embarrassing VP Mike Pence, who defended Flynn publicly.

The reason we know Flynn was lying was that the FBI had a recording of Flynn talking to Russian ambassador Kislyak, something that acting attorney general Sally Yates told the Trump administration last month, before Trump fired her for refusing to defend Trump's Muslim ban. (The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence committee is also outraged that the NSA is spying on the Russians.)

So the question is: did Flynn act on his own, or was he just following orders from Donald Trump to reassure the Russians that Obama's sanctions would go away?

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Motivating Factors Behind The Support For President Trump

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about why people are supporting Donald Trump. Given the diversity of people who support him, it's not just one factor but several and we can see this through the three main groups of people that support him.

First, let's take a look at the group of people who propelled him over the top: the Obama-Trump voter. Two recent articles summarize these folks quite well. The first is from the Chicago Tribune and the second is from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. In reviewing both of these pieces, it's pretty easy to see that their primary motivation is money. Check out this pull from the first article.

Kramer, who voted twice for Obama, used to watch Trump on "Celebrity Apprentice." ''I said to myself, 'Ugh, I can't stand him.'" When he announced his candidacy, she thought it was a joke. "Then my husband said to me, 'Just think, everything he touches seems to turn to money.'" And she changed her mind.

Actually, everything he touches turns to debt and bankruptcy but that's not what they see. They see a celebrity from "The Apprentice" who is their lottery ticket. They truly believe that Trump is going to make them more money and he plays into that with classic PT Barnum panache. When he holds up his latest executive order, it has the appearance of him getting 'er done. Remember, these folks are not interested in facts and they, like our new president, don't read books. They, along with conservatives, are tired of being reminded that they aren't intellectual.

So, the motivating factor with this group is primarily money and a feeling of inadequacy. Trump makes them think they are going to make that money and, thus, be more important.

The next group of folks to examine are those conservatives (mostly right wing bloggers and commenters) who are just happy to see liberals squirm. Their agenda is to rub the smug elites face in it and laugh about how the silly liberals are complaining about Trump being unbalanced. They LOVE every minute of it because, like most adolescents, they are super hearting the chaos right now. They want the whole playhouse torn down because they are tired of people telling them what to do even it is for their own good and the good of society.

These folks don't really stand for anything even though they issue imperial decree after decree saying that they do. Their ideology in life has one core tenet: antagonize liberals. What's hilarious is they can't yet see they have to be responsible now that their guy is in charge. Worse, they are still under the delusion that they are fighting some sort of resistance. How is that possible when THEY are in charge now? Clearly, they don't get the new dynamic which I predict will ultimately be their downfall. The Obama turned Trump voter is going to hold them responsible and when they continue to blame liberals and the media, people are going to start wondering if they even had any ideas that worked in reality.

The next group of folks who support Trump are just your garden variety Republicans. They will never vote for a Democrat and will always vote GOP. They watch Fox News and read only conservative web sites, relying largely on their social media feeds for their "news." It's this group (along with the right wing bloggers/commenters) who were completely used by Russian intelligence over the last few years. Put out some red mead about liberals and you have yourself a group of useful idiots who will vote in the candidate preferred by the Kremlin.

In essence, it's these three groups that put Trump in the White House. While each one has their own motivating factors, they also have common threads that run between them. The first is fear. All of these folks are deeply afraid of how the world has changed in the age of automation and globalization. They are angry that people from other countries have taken their jobs and, thus, are sick and tired of hearing about diversity. In many ways, this anger has grown in to hate.

They feel insecure, inferior and inadequate. When someone who is more learned and accomplished than them reminds them of facts, their first reaction is to rebel. Why should they have to be reminded of all the crap they have to deal with all the time? All of these groups have been very successful at creating a cocoon or bubble in which outside information is viewed with great skepticism. All of this is also why they love themselves a candidate with zero experience in government. The dumber the better! Once they learn all them fancy book facts that they learned at libral college, then they think they are better than everyone else.

If Democrats want to succeed at a local level, which is where this battle is really being fought, they have to understand all these factors. They need to go into the counties that both Obama and Trump won (and many more beyond that) with the following stark message. Your jobs aren't coming back. They have been taking over by robots. Go back to school and retrain. Find a different vocation. Get a college degree. Join the 21st century and obtain the necessary skills to go along with it. Take some responsibility for your life and stop bitching about the government, the media and liberals.

No more excuses!

Trouble In Right Wing Blogger Paradise

When you vote for a candidate with zero experience running a government agency, this is what you get.

You get a national security adviser on thin ice over his conversations with the Russian government.

You get a chief of staff that is perceived in conservative circles as weak.

You get a senior adviser hawking clothing lines like the presidency is QVC.

In short, you have a presidency in complete disarray.

Would we expect anything less from a right wing blogger/commenter president?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Make America Learn Again

Bill raises some pretty serious questions in this video. Why must people insist on being ignorant? Lately, I've been thinking it's just out of spite towards "smug liberals" and that's not an ideology.

It's an adolescent tantrum.


Build A Longer Table

Friday, February 10, 2017

Trump's 3 AM Phone Call

During the 2008 Democratic presidential primary the Clinton campaign ran an ad that asked who you wanted answering the phone at 3 AM, implying that Obama was inexperienced, unfamiliar with the military and unprepared for the rigors of international diplomacy.

Now Donald Trump has had his own 3 AM phone call. But it wasn't his phone ringing: it was the phone of Michael Flynn, Trump's national security advisor:
President Donald Trump was confused about the dollar: Was it a strong one that’s good for the economy? Or a weak one?

So he made a call ― except not to any of the business leaders Trump brought into his administration or even to an old friend from his days in real estate. Instead, he called his national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, according to two sources familiar with Flynn’s accounts of the incident.

Flynn has a long record in counterintelligence but not in macroeconomics. And he told Trump he didn’t know, that it wasn’t his area of expertise, that, perhaps, Trump should ask an economist instead.
How can Trump not know what kind of dollar he wants? And, as Flynn wondered, why the hell was Trump bugging a general at three in the morning about it?

This is not the only time something like this has happened. When Trump was on the phone recently with Putin discussing nuclear arms, Putin mentioned extending a treaty that had been signed with the Obama administration. Trump didn't know what Putin was talking about, so he put the president of Russia on hold to ask his aides about it. Then:
Trump then told Putin the treaty was one of several bad deals negotiated by the Obama administration, saying that New START favored Russia. Trump also talked about his own popularity, the sources said.
First, it's patently ridiculous that Trump didn't know about the treaty to begin with. Didn't his aides briefed him before the phone call started? Or maybe they had, but Trump had already forgotten about it.

Second, Trump is making snap judgments about national security based on a two-minute conversation with "an aide" while Putin was on hold. Might the secretary of defense or the secretary of state want to weigh in on this?

What's really disturbing about Trump is that he doesn't know anything, and he makes important decisions based on what the person who happens to be in the room with at the time. What if the only other person in the room is the janitor when Trump's phone rings with news of an impending nuclear strike?

Republicans have got to be worried sick about this: not just because Trump is so stupid, but because his administration leaks like a sieve. In the last few weeks there have stories daily about Trump not knowing something basic; he doesn't even read the executive orders he signs; he doesn't think he needs a security briefing; he planned an attack on a terrorist base over dinner, and then didn't bother to monitor it in the situation room (getting one American killed on several civilians, including children).

There have already been a dozen idiotic scandals like this since Trump took office, things that would have had Republicans screaming for Obama's head if his administration had been so incompetent and amateurish.

Trump is not prepared to be president and has no interest in the job. His staff does not respect him (why else all the leaks?). The intelligence agencies all think he's an idiot. They think that Trump supporters will have their heads if they move against Trump, but he will bring the entire Republican Party and the conservative establishment down when he really screws the pooch. And he will.

Republicans need to remove Trump soonest. They can start by amping up the investigation of Russian interference with the election, and Michael Flynn's contacts with the Russians before the election, and then again after the election but before the inauguration. And then Trump's conflicts of interest, like making the Pentagon rent space in Trump Tower...

And releasing Trump's tax returns -- which Congress and Congress alone can do -- should be high on the priority list as well.

You'll Be Covered In Something

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Besieged by Crime?

Yesterday, President Trump said our nation has been besieged by crime. Meeting with a group of our nation's sheriffs,Trump told them, “the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.” He blamed the news media for not publicizing this development, then added, “But the murder rate is the highest it’s been in, I guess, 45 to 47 years.”

This is, of course, not true. How do I know this? Well, gun rights activists on the inter webs remind me of this fact all the time. Here are the facts.

The murder rate is defined as the number of murders and non-negligent homicides per 100,000 residents. Beginning in 1957, when the rate was 4.0 murders per 100,000 residents, the rate rose steadily to a high of 10.2 in 1980. It then steadily dropped, to 7.4 in 1996, to 6.1 in 2006, to 4.4 in 2014. It went up in 2015 to 4.9. But that is less than half the murder rate of 1980. The raw number of homicides in America has actually declined from 19,645 in 1996 to 15,696 in 2015, even while the population has risen from 265 million in 1996 to 321 million in 2015.

The violent crime rate in America also has plummeted over the years. Defined as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, violent crimes peaked at a rate of 758 per 100,000 residents in 1991, and the rate was about 373 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2015, again a decline of more than half. The statistics for 2016 are not yet available. Here is the FBI’s violent crime table for the years 1996 to 2015.

Today, Trump doubled down on these claims in what has become yet another example of this administration's cognitive dissonance. Like the right wing bloggers and commenters that religiously follow him, they create their own reality in which their anger, hate and fear are more justified.

Alternative facts indeed.