America: Please Thank the Women and Men in Congress Who Stood Up for America on January 6, 2017

Although today it seems like it happened a million years ago, it was only a few days ago when some very brave American Congressmen and Congresswomen stood up for America. On Friday, January 6, 2017, the following Patriots stood up for America to protest Electoral College votes:

  • Congressman James McGovern,
  • Congressman Jamie Raskin,
  • Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal,
  • Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee,
  • Congressman Raul Grijalva, and
  • Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

Not a single, solitary United States Senator had the guts to stand and add his or her voice to the protest. Had only one done so, it might have been possible to stop Donald Trump in his tracks. As the Senators know, more than 50 Electoral College votes for Donald Trump were cast illegally. The Electoral College vote was conducted improperly and should have been discarded on January 6, 2017.

Donald Trump must not become President of the United States. He is a Russian Spy and much, much more. Stopping him must be done legally using all the laws at our disposal. But,  he must be stopped. Again, understand I am not condoning or advising the use of illegal means. Nothing illegal, nothing violent. But, he must be stopped.

I would like to thank these six brave men and women for standing up for America. I hope your constituents take note of your bravery and support you in future efforts to protect and defend America.

What in the World Has Happened to the Republican Party?

I have tweeted about this a great deal: the senior Republican Party leadership is about the unleash on the world a President who is a Russian spy and all manner of other unspeakable things. Which leads me to my Big Question in this post: What in the world has happened to the Republican Party? The Party of Lincoln and Reagan has become the party of Tricky Dicky Nixon and Trash Talking Trump the Russkie Spy.

How? What has possessed the senior Republican leaders to allow Trump run for the party? Did they do no background checks? Did they not talk to other people, do some research? Or did they know who and what he is and deliberately supported and abetted him in his efforts to turn America over to Putin?

I voted for Ronald Reagan both times he ran for President. I was a fan then, and I am a fan now. Which makes the current state of the Republican party even more bewildering and incredible to me.

Onward.

President Ronald Reagan, in his 1989 Farewell Speech to the nation left his fellow Americans and his fellow Republicans a marvelous vision for how he wanted America to be as he passed on to his reward. At one point in the speech he said something all Americans need to absorb into their bones:

“We the People” tell the Government what to do, it doesn’t tell us. “We the people” are the driver – the Government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world’s constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which “We the People” tell the Government what it is allowed to do. “We the people” are free.

By the way, I heartily recommend reading the full text of Reagan’s Farewell Speech. You can read it here: http://www.nytimes.com/1989/01/12/news/transcript-of-reagan-s-farewell-address-to-american-people.html?pagewanted=all

When I read the full text of the speech again last night, this part made tears come to my eyes and drove me to my computer to write this post:

The past few days when I’ve been at that [White House] window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the shining “city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important, because he was an early Pilgrim – an early “Freedom Man.” He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat, and, like the other pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free. 

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind swept, God blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace – a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.

That last part of Reagan’s beautiful speech I have shared above gets to me, right in the gut. In the past few days the Republican Party has reaffirmed its horribly divisive and horribly expensive plan to build a wall to keep Mexicans out. Trump says Mexico will pay for it one day and then another he wants to hand the bill to the American taxpayers. Either way, we know he won’t pay for it. He has a long track record of refusing to pay for the honest labor of others.

The whole wall idea is crazy, it is racist, and, as you can see, it runs 100% contrary to Reagan’s lyric and arresting vision of how he wanted America to be. Reagan wanted this country to be open to anyone who, as he says so well, who has the will and heart to get here. Reagan never told anyone he was going to put together deportation gangs. 

The wall Trump trumpets on and on about has become a fitting symbol for the  hate in his heart. But it does not need to become the symbol of the Republican party.

I started this post with a question: What in the World Has Happened to the Republican Party? I close with two more questions.

#1: How can the Senior Republican Party leaders, especially those who have thrown their support so vociferously behind Donald Trump in the past month, justify what they have done to the party of Reagan by putting Trump forward and continuing to support him?

#2: When will the Republican Party cleanse itself of this corruption from the top down and return to the soaring and inspirational core values and actions which once made this party the party of Lincoln and Reagan?

I, for one, can’t wait to hear the answer to my last question.

What Senator Harry Reid Told Congress About Donald Trump in September 2016

On September 15, 2016 Senator Harry Reid addressed the Senate and told his fellow Senators, and by extension, the entire Congress exactly what he thinks about Donald Trump. We know this because his comments are recorded in the Congressional Record. That’s right, he went on the record.

Among other things, he called Donald Trump:

a human leech;

a notorious con artist;

a swindler who, if given the chance, would “turn America into a big scam just like Trump University;” and

a spoiled brat raised in plenty.

In addition, he had read into the record the full text of an article written by the American journalist Kurt Eichenwald which Newsweek had published in its September 14, 2016 edition. The title of the article is How the Trump Organization’s Foreign Business Ties  Could Upend U.S. National Security. That’s right, the full article. It’s right there in the Record and on the record, thanks to Senator Harry Reid.

And, in summing up, Reid implores Senator McConnell and Speaker of the House Ryan to help protect America from the scourge and the unprecedented threat to America that is Donald Trump.

And, what have these two men and the rest of their Republican cohorts done to protect us? The answer to the question is clear, but I will tell you anyway: nothing. Absolutely nothing. And that epic, historical failure is going to be in the record, too, gentleman and ladies of the Republican Party. History will read it into America’s history and into the World’s history. When the American People needed you to put Country Before Party and Do the Right Thing, you caved. You cowered. You ran for cover.

I have pulled from the full Congressional Report entry for that day the four pages which contain Reid’s remarks and the full text of Eichenwald’s article by clicking on the link. what-harry-reid-told-the-senate-about-donald-trump-in-september-2016. I added some yellow highlighting to the file to make it easier to see some of Reid’s remarks.

 

Political Thriller Pitch or History in the Making? You Decide…

you-decide-whitehouse

Michael opens the curtains in his hotel room and looks out at the brighter than blue morning sky in Hollywood. But, budding movie mogul Michael is not in Hollywood to sit by the pool or stare at the sky. He has one goal in mind—to sell his idea for a political thriller movie to the world renown and very rich movie producer, Harvey Gump.

Every time Michael thinks about this opportunity, which took him forever to land, he has to swallow hard. Michael is nervous, men like Harvey Gump can make or break a guy in this town. So, Michael is nervous, really nervous. He knows his story idea is great, but wonders if he can tell it right. Michael walks in the bathroom and finds himself standing in  in front of the hotel bathroom mirror. He adjusts his tie and goes over the pitch one more time. Although he knows what he’s going to say by heart, he wants to make sure to get it right when he starts talking. He may only have one chance to make his pitch to the right people.

Remember the key words, he tells himself: billionaire, software, frustrated… Start it out like this, “Imagine if you will, a reclusive billionaire with a degree in computer science and decades of experience in computer programming. But the guy’s real money came later,  from the stock market. The jury is still out on how he made that money, but he’s got billions, plenty to pull of his schemes. Or so he thinks.”

Clear, it has got to be clear Michael goes on to his next bit, “This guy, this eccentric, crazy billionaire, is getting old, doesn’t know how many years he has left, and he’s frustrated. So frustrated after years and years of backing political candidates who just can’t get the job done. He should have run for office himself, but it’s too late now. Now, in the waning years of his life he is desperate to make something to happen, something that will be his legacy to the world he’s grown to hate, and he’s got plans, big plans. So, first he hires himself some hackers and then he buys a company or two that makes the voting equipment he wants hacked. Then he buys himself a few Web sites and starts spinning out the vilest of the vile stories and lies. A lot of the writing he does himself because, you see, this guy does not trust many people.” And, thinks Michael, “I need to mention while this guy is very secretive, but once in awhile he wants people to know he’s the mover, the shaker, the puppet master.”

“Everything has got to change,” Michael says to himself as checks his iPhone for his latest messages, is how this guy thinks: “First we have to have our man in the White House or at least a man we can manipulate. Then we can move on to making the big changes, like changing the way things happen in Washington, getting our people elected, making sure our rule goes on for decades. Then we can move on to the real heart of the billionaire’s mission: getting rid the infirm and the diseased and it will be quick because we can’t draw this out. The virus will be a targeted one. So, he buys himself a few scientists, and they set up some labs. Maybe a third of the people on earth will die, his scientists tell him,  but it will be the third he chooses because the virus only targets people with certain DNA profiles, and then the burden they represent to the earth will be gone. Robots can take over for the ones who die, and the billionaire thinks that will be just fine. Those who remain will be easily managed and manipulated.

Right, Michael thinks, as tightens his tie, here’s how the story itself goes: the billionaire finds his candidate and tries to manage him well but he can’t risk too much exposure so he can’t manage every detail. Everything seems goes along fine and they’re almost to the finish line. Soon they will have the access to everything the billionaire needs to carry out his plot. But, to his horror, the billionaire finds out the candidate is rotten to the core and has been making illegal deals the world over for decades. He is in with the Russians deeper than deep. But, the billionaire hates Russians, and so he finds himself in a bind. Remove the candidate and move on to the VP (also his pick) sooner rather than later? Or retire to his lair and try again later?

Time’s up, and Michael has to get moving to make that lunch pitch date. Time to tighten the tie and get moving. His idea is great, he knows this to the core of his being. The only thing is, Michael asks himself, is how the producer will want the thriller to end. Does the puppet master win? Is the world destroyed and millions die? Or does sanity prevail and the billionaire and his minions lose?

“I guess,” says Michael to himself as he heads to his meeting, “we can film and screen both endings and let the people decide.”

How to Spot and React to a Twitter Troll Bot

Twitter troll bots are not new. Reports of them have been surfacing in the tech media world for years now. They are bits of computer code which comb through tweets looking for keywords, hashtags, and phrases. They can be programmed to follow certain Twitter handles, as well. When they see one they have been programmed to spot, they respond with something nasty designed to intimidate, frighten, etc. It is important to realize these are bots, and not people, when something like this happens to you.

There are real people using Twitter. You can tell, very often, because they respond as humans do when queried. For example, recently I had a nice, brief Twitter conversation with someone whose profile said he is a minister in North Carolina (profiles can be fake, but I took him at his profile, so to speak) about a post of his. I thought the title of his post (which he said an editor wrote, not him) was misleading. I suggested, via a reply tweet, that he might ask the editor to reconsider the headline. He liked my reply (clicked on the heart icon) and we both moved on.

With a bot, though, you will never get a sensible reply to your question or query. All you ever get is insults or nonsense. Now, I know that is all you ever get from some people, but you get my point.

Onward.

Yesterday and today I have been having a “conversation” with a crude example of a Twitter troll bot. Just for fun I decided to poke the troll and see what it came back with. I am sharing part of the conversation here as an example of this kind of digital interaction along with some tips on how to spot a crude bot (some of the sophisticated ones are harder to spot btw). I also want to pass along a few tips on how to respond and how to shut one down.

This interaction started when I tweeted a link to a story about what Hillary Clinton said yesterday about Putin. I think the words in bold appearing in the same tweet was enough to attract the bot’s attention.

The bot’s (its name is Mona M) response to the tweet was classical troll language:  Hillary’s own words” what difference does it make now”! Move on ~ Bernie DID when YOU pulled the rug…

Notice in the response the bot has added Donald Trump’s handle. I am not sure why, perhaps this was added as a tracking or counting mechanism.

Almost immediately after this tweet came another response tweet, one which mentions something not related to my initial tweet:  NO conflict of interest just another SMART decision to have HIS children sit in on a technology Apple/ Facebook meeting. SMART

I had not mentioned in that tweet the fact Trump had his kids sit in on his meeting with Silicon Valley execs. But maybe the troll bot just added that for good measure.

So, now we start to have fun (or at least I did) with a series of my reply tweets and Mona M’s replies. At one point I tweeted Mona is a bot, and the reply made me laugh out loud, “What is your language?” I got a couple more generic slam tweets as part of the exchange, such as  Abedin should REVIEW a few things she’s been involved with…… and  Elizabeth has always been DEEPLY troubled. Mental health is a priority for President elect Trump. Kanye knows all about it.

Some of the replies to me poking the troll bot seemed to be sentences strung together at random (see paragraph above for examples). I am also uncertain of why all caps were used on some words, perhaps an attempt to scream in Internet argot or to emphasize a word?

How to Spot a Troll Bot

In Mona M’s case, it was easy. When I got the first reply I clicked over to look at Mona’s Twitter page and saw there is no description and no owner image. There is no sign of a human anywhere. If you visit Mona’s page (@Monam7M) you will see the account started in May 2016, has tweeted 1,395 times (as I write this) and has very few followers (all of the followers look like bots to me just glancing at their headings).

Also, there are a lot of tweets in one day, another indication of a bot. But not necessarily as I tweet a lot, and I am human (at least I was the last time I checked ;-)).

The biggest tip-off this is a troll bot account is all the tweets on this account are slam tweets. Most of them are directed at Canadian tweets but recently the bot has also started slamming tweets related to Clinton and sending tweets supporting Trump.

What to Do When a Troll Bot Appears

  1. Do not panic (stole that from Douglas Adams, so sorry we lost him and his genius…
  2. Poking the troll the way I have can make for some fun times, but humans quickly lose interest.
  3. Report the account to Twitter as a spam account.
  4. You can block or mute the account if that makes you feel better.
  5. Rinse and repeat as needed. There must be thousands of these things on Twitter and since all it takes to create a Twitter account is a working e-mail address, these things will be there until Twitter stops them.

We Need to Have Faith in the United States Constitution and Laws

On the Joss Group Twitter feed (@thejossgroup) we have been sending out a lot of tweets referencing news stories from reputable news outlets regarding Donald Trump and his ties to Russia and the hacking reports. We plan to continue to do so as the tweet stream allows our Twitter followers to keep up on the latest news on this very important situation.

What is interesting to me as we gather these links and tweet them is how many news reports go back months and months. Trump’s relationship with Putin and senior Russian leaders goes back years and years. In addition, several of his senior staff have ties to Russia which go back years and continue today.

Trump has even traveled openly to Russia in recent years. For example, a beauty contest he owned had its competition in Russia in 2013, and he went. Why Russia? Since he owned the competition, one presumes he had a big say in where it would be held. Trump even tweeted about meeting Putin at the event, ” “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant…[I]f so, will he become my new best friend?”

But back to my main point for this post: we need to have faith in our Constitution and laws. Many people are frightened at the prospect of Donald Trump becoming President, and his picks for cabinet have not helped.

While I agree the prospect of Donald Trump having any Presidential powers is extremely alarming, I want to encourage Americans and people in other democratic countries to have faith in the United States’ Constitution and laws.

I am not saying citizens should sit on our hands, but we are not powerless, nor should we be dreaming up schemes to act outside the law. For example, even if Congress should not wish to pursue impeachment on a sitting President, anyone or any entity (including a government) can bring a suit against the President.

People who are somewhat familiar with history may claim this is not possible, but it is. Here is a Wall Street Journal article from 1998 which explains why no man or woman is above the law, no matter what position they may hold.

And, please recall (if you are old enough to do so), how Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973 after being indicted for having committed tax fraud and having accepted thousands of dollars in bribes before and during his time as Vice President.

If you remember nothing else about what I am saying here, please remember that crooked people don’t start being crooked when they win a big election; they have been crooked for a long time, and nobody can erase all the traces of their crimes. Being elected to a big federal position puts your life and everything you have ever done under a huge, huge (dare we say Yuge?) microscope. 

If you are too young to remember, then here is an article from the Nation which will be helpful for understanding Agnew did. Of course, he squawked about his and tried to block the legal proceedings, but he resigned rather than go through the entire legal battle.

If you have never read the Constitution, then please read it today. Here is a link to a great site for reading this document, along with the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence: https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs.

Would it be easier if Donald Trump told the world he had thought it over and decided he and his business would be better served by not becoming President and just walk away? Yes, absolutely. Somehow I doubt he will do that, but even if he succeeds in taking the Oath of Office* on January 20, 2017 and sits down behind the big desk in the Oval Office, remember we have established and tested laws and legal remedies which we may bring to bear to correct the situation.

In the United States no one is above the Law.

*Here is the full text of the Presidential Oath of Office: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Some Thoughts on Why the Fake News Cyclone Keeps Getting Bigger and Bigger — Molly Joss Out Loud

I read an interesting article today about how the major news outlets are trying to combat the spread of fake news on their sites–these news items turn up as advertisements, not in-line copy (publishing term). As Pew Research Center reports have shown, most people have a really hard time distinguishing between ads which look like […]

via Why the Fake News Cyclone Keeps Getting Bigger and Bigger — Molly Joss Out Loud