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Monday, June 26, 2017

Obama’s response to Russian interference: He did his job. His cautious response to Russian interference protected our democracy. By William Saletan


 "Did President Obama blow the 2016 election? Should he have spoken up sooner and louder about Russia’s interference? That’s what many Democrats are wondering, particularly after reading the Washington Post’s latest investigative report on Obama’s reticent response to the Russian attack. A former official tells the Post that after the election, Obama’s aides, ‘mortified’ by Donald Trump’s victory, thought to themselves: ‘Wow, did we mishandle this.

There’s plenty to second-guess in Obama’s management of this episode. But the idea that he failed because Trump won is wrong. Obama’s job wasn’t to prevent the election of a particular person, even one as awful as Trump. Obama’s job was to preserve the country. That meant protecting the integrity of our elections and public faith in them, which he did, to the extent possible after Russia had already hacked into the Democratic National Committee and spread misinformation. The next task—exposing the full extent of Russia’s interference, punishing it, and deterring future attacks—is up to Trump. If he fails, the responsibility to hold him accountable falls to Congress. And if Congress fails, the job of electing a new, more patriotic legislature falls to voters.

According to the U.S. intelligence community’s Jan. 6 assessment, Vladimir Putin’s long-term goal in directing the interference campaign was to “undermine public faith in the US democratic process.” Obama responded accordingly. “We set out from a first-order principle that required us to defend the integrity of the vote,” Obama’s former chief of staff, Denis McDonough, told the Post. Russia’s hacks and leaks were bad, but corruption of voter rolls and election tallies would be far worse. So the Obama administration focused on alerting state officials, fortifying cyberdefenses, and privately threatening Russia with retaliation.

Why didn’t Obama raise public alarms about Russian infiltration? Because that might have backfired. “Trump was predicting that the election would be rigged,” says the Post. “Obama officials feared providing fuel to such claims, playing into Russia’s efforts to discredit the outcome.” According to the paper, Obama and his team “worried that any action they took would be perceived as political interference in an already volatile campaign.” Rather than speak up when the CIA first warned him about Putin’s moves, Obama waited for “a high-confidence assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies on Russia’s role and intent.” He asked congressional Republicans to join him in cautioning citizens and state election officials. You can argue that this was politically na├»ve. But Obama wasn’t playing politics. He was trying to unite the country.

The Post story shows how blinders warped behavior on all sides. Many Republicans saw Obama and Hillary Clinton as greater threats than Putin. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell resisted Obama’s pleas to warn the public about Russian interference, “voicing skepticism that the underlying intelligence truly supported the White House’s claims.” Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, unconvinced that Russia was involved in the election, dismissed Obama’s outreach to states about election cybersecurity as “a politically calculated move.”

Obama, too, allowed himself to be manipulated. Critics think his “determination to avoid politicizing the Russia issue had the opposite effect,” says the Post. “It meant that he allowed politics to shape his administration’s response to what some believed should have been treated purely as a national security threat.” Obama’s aides, for their part, were misled by the expectation that Clinton would win. They worried about disrupting her march to victory and “contaminating the expected Clinton triumph” by hyping the possibility of ballot sabotage. They also assumed the next administration would want to punish Putin. One official told the Post: “We made the judgment that we had ample time after the election, regardless of outcome, for punitive measures.”

It’s easy to fault Obama and his team for these blinders. But we don’t know what would have happened had he acted differently. If he had raised a stink before the intelligence community reached a consensus, or if he had warned the public explicitly that Russia was trying to help Trump, imagine the outrage. It’s quite plausible that Trump would have won—perhaps even coming out ahead in the popular vote—and Democrats would now be castigating Obama for ruining everything.

Obama and his aides wrongly assumed the next administration would punish Russia, that’s true. But what the anonymous Obama official told the Post—that there would be “ample time after the election, regardless of outcome, for punitive measures”—is also true. Holding Putin accountable and deterring him from future aggression isn’t Obama’s job. It’s Trump’s.

Putin sought to hurt Clinton and help Trump. That’s clear in the intelligence community’s Jan. 6 assessment. But in the heat of the election, Clinton was poorly positioned to make that case. So was Obama, her benefactor and fellow Democrat. The most credible messengers would have been Republicans. The most credible of all, to this day, would be Trump. Nothing in Trump’s history suggests he has the moral comprehension or will to speak the truth about what Putin did, much less to confront him. But every president must be held to a presidential standard.

Obama met that standard. He focused on protecting democracy, not on electing Clinton. He did this so that an American republic could be passed to his successor. Trump’s duty is to safeguard that inheritance. McConnell and other Republicans, having refused to speak publicly about Russian meddling before the election, owe it to their country to uncover the full of extent of what happened.   That’s what makes Trump’s efforts to derail the FBI’s Russia investigation, and Republican attempts to excuse this sabotage, so treasonous. Trump has repaid Obama’s patriotism by rewarding and protecting Putin. Trump refuses to concede that Russia was behind the election hack. He has tried to loosen, not tighten, sanctions on Russia. He has invited Russia’s foreign minister to the White House and assured him, in a meeting closed to the press, that by firing Comey, Trump relieved “pressure” on the U.S.-Russia relationship.

The Russia investigation was never about Russia. It was, and is, about America. It’s about whether you put your country before a partisan or personal agenda. It’s about understanding that America isn’t just a plot of land. It’s an idea. We elect our leaders, our leaders follow rules, and they represent all of us. Obama was determined to preserve that idea, even at the risk of relinquishing the White House to Trump. The successor who betrayed him—and us—is unworthy of his office.

(Via.).  Obama’s response to Russian interference: He did his job.:

Why are Democrats attacking Nancy Pelosi? Have the Democrats internalized messaging about Nancy Pelosi that originated with the Republican party? Joy Reid and her panel debate this, and what’s really behind recent party losses. AM Joy on MSNBC


AM Joy on MSNBC: ""

Senate Leaders Try to Appease Members as Support for Health Bill Slips - The New York Times



"WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill as opposition continued to build inside and outside Congress, and as several Republican senators questioned whether it would be approved this week.

President Trump expressed confidence that the bill to repeal the guts of the Affordable Care Act would pass.

“Health care is a very, very tough thing to get,” Mr. Trump said in an interview shown Sunday on Fox News. “But I think we’re going to get it. We don’t have too much of a choice because the alternative is the dead carcass of Obamacare.”

With Democrats solidly opposed to the legislation, Senate Republicans must find the votes from within. They can afford to lose only two votes, but five Republican senators have announced that they cannot support the health care bill as drafted, and others have expressed concerns.
Senate leaders have been trying to lock down Republican votes by funneling money to red states, engineering a special deal for Alaska and arguing that they could insure more people at a lower cost than the House, which passed a repeal bill last month

Senate Leaders Try to Appease Members as Support for Health Bill Slips - The New York Times: ""

Morning Joe - Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, & Willie Geist - #LiarInChief #ResistanceIsFutile Trump is both deceptive and a liar. Trump knew about Russian hacking and continues to lie about it. He was briefed about Russian hacking of the election in August of 2016.

Morning Joe - Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, & Willie Geist

Vaccines: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Vaccines: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bacon's Rebellion and Racial Slavery, Caste and Class in America | History Revived

Bacon's Rebellion and it's aftermath is central to understanding race in America.  It explains why racism is permanent, as was persuasively argued by Professor Derrick Bell in " Faces At The Bottom Of The Well: The Permanence Of Racism". White Privilege is literally a "property right", created after the rebellion with the purpose of dividing poor Whites from all Blacks by establishing a caste system which has morphed as the American economic system evolved. From chattel slavery to peonage slavery (ended by Attorney General Circular 3591, December 12th 1941),  legal segregation (ended by the Civil Rights Act of 1964) de Facto segregation and the New Jim Crow (The Prison Industrial Complex) which exits today.  Each system was transformed by a change in the economy caused by technology along with the concurrent evolution of media technology which required plausible deniability to sustain the societal hierarchy.  Wealthy Whites dating from those who hung Bacon and his confederates through Donald Trump and Paul Ryan have used this property right to demonize Blacks, Indigenous Americans, Hispanics, Irish, Jews, as well as Muslims as tool "Dog Whistle Politics" to maintain a malleable class structure in America.

John H Armwood

Nearly every African who arrived in British North America did so as a slave or an indentured servant.  Since many of the first black arrivals were baptized[1] and English law forbid enslavement of baptized individuals, the legal status of Africans in Virginia was somewhat fluid.  However, their social status was never in doubt.  Africans were treated substantially worse than the English colonists, but better than hostile Indians.
One key event in 17th century changed the relationship of Africans to the British state: Bacon’s Rebellion.  In 1676 several frontiersmen aggressively protested the Governor, William Berkley, and his refusal to launch reprisal attacks against hostile (to the colonists) Natives.  Relations between natives and colonists had been growing progressively worse in 1670s and Berkley was trying to eliminate costs while building peace with the Indians.  Soon the frontier rebellion expanded into a popular uprising led by aristocrat Nathaniel Bacon.  Bacon was a populist who wanted Berkley’s job and was soon the figurehead of the movement.
Initially put down by mercenaries, the uprising evolved into greater resistance.  Instead of just frontiersmen demanding protection the rebellion turned a social corner.  Poorly treated African Americans (meant in the truest sense), indentured servants[2], and the poor farmers of the region united and demanded better treatment under colonial rule.  The “dregs” of society uniting terrified the Governor who sent for Royal soldiers while even Bacon grew worried over the potential for change.
Over the next several years, British soldiers defeated Bacon’s forces, (killing Bacon and others), and restored Royal rule over the Virginian colony.  When it comes to black history, however, the main effect was the end of indentured servitude.  The ruling class in Virginia was terrified of white and black servants uniting and changed the hardened the slave policy along racial lines.  No more would white and black people serve together on the lowest rung; from now on black labor would be the only stolen labor.
The hardening of racial labor occurred across British North America.  Bacon’s Rebellion was the most famous event, but uprisings occurred throughout the colonies.  From Massachusetts to Georgia by the end of the 17th century black men and women were the only people officially enslaved.

Stealing Labor
What is fascinating (but largely ignored) is that black labor created the opportunity for the fantastic growth of the American economy throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.  For most of this country’s early history there was a very real disparity between land and population.  The most economically effective strategy for this was massed stolen labor.  Black slaves grew cotton, cleared land for houses or farms, planted/grew/harvested huge amounts of food stocks, and provided the opportunity for white owners to invest the huge sums in larger projects and other opportunities.  Obviously this was done without the agreement of the enslaved individuals.
Created Wealth
But think about it.  Beautiful buildings like Monticello, Mount Vernon, Stagville, much of Newport and Boston were funded almost entirely through the wealth created through slave labor.  When people say today that slavery was an economically defunct system they are wrong.  Slavery created huge amounts of wealth and very little cost to the investor (the owner).  The real cost, however, came in the enslavement, abuse, rape and murder of African men and women, and in the transformation of owners by the brutality of slave ownership.  It must be remembered that slavery—at the time—throughout the world, was not seen as immoral or illegal.
So, during this Black History Month, when you are reading an article about George Washington Carver[3] or Charles Richard Drew,[4] that black history is more than inventions and social revolutions.  Through their labor and effort (though not their assent) much of this nation’s wealth was built.  

[1] Spanish and Portuguese policy was to baptize slaves before shipping them to the New World, and in the early 17thcentury Iberians controlled much of the slave trade.
[2] Indentured servants were oftentimes treated worse than slaves.  In a slave the master is encouraged to feed and clothe them so the laborer survived.  With indentured servants, on a seven year contract, if they died in year five the master lost little.
[3] An agricultural alchemist, Carver invented 400 different kinds of food. 
[4] Invented the blood bank.  Changed the treatment 
Bacon's Rebellion and Racial Slavery | History Revived

‘They’re sentencing me to death’: Medicaid recipients on the Republican healthcare plan | US news | The Guardian

If the Republican healthcare plan passes, Donald Trump will break a pledge he made as a candidate to protect Medicaid from spending cuts.

They’re sentencing me to death’: Medicaid recipients on the Republican healthcare plan | US news | The Guardian

Will losing health insurance mean more US deaths? Experts say yes | US news | The Guardian - #ResistanceIsNotFutile These Republicans are evil, as my maternal grandmother would say; "they'ere the devil"

Disability advocates hold a protest outside the office of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell on 22 June. Senate Republicans have released their draft healthcare bill.

Will losing health insurance mean more US deaths? Experts say yes | US news | The Guardian