Monday, February 19, 2018

Trump can keep a secret, believe me
Karen McDougal (Toglenn)

Blake Hounshell (Politico, Feb 18, 2018) doesn't believe Trump was guilty of conspiring with the Russians. He bases his entire analysis on an absence of evidence argument. The absence of evidence theory goes like this: Since there is no evidence that Trump conspired with the Russians, therefore he didn't. Hounshell knows Trump didn't do it because he didn't blab about it and he can't keep a secret. That's another argument from absence of evidence, like saying the criminal didn't do the crime because he didn't tell anyone about it.

Hounshell should understand that absence of evidence is not evidence. It's conspiracy fodder, like saying that because I can't see global warming happening, it must be nonsense, or else there's a huge conspiracy of scientists to trick us into believing global warming is a thing. It's particularly suspect when you base your argument on the idea that Trump can't keep a secret, and therefore there is no secret. That whole argument falls apart because Trump can keep secrets, and has done so on many occasions, when he believes it is in his interest to do so.

Trump kept his numerous sex adventures secret by elaborate non-disclosure agreements and "catch and kill" contracts, whereby a publisher buys an informant's story for a high sum of money, then kills the story. It's a way to keep the public from ever finding out what some powerful man (or woman) doesn't want them to know. Trump did this at least once, to keep one of his sexual conflicts from telling her story to the press. Karen McDougal sold her story to the National Enquirer, which promptly buried it so that it never saw the light of day. Until now.

Trump kept that secret for 10 years, because he understood that it would harm him if it became public knowledge. He also kept secret his sexual encounters with  an actress in pornographic movies. He kept these secrets because he understood the repercussions such scandals would have for his marriage and his public image.

Trump has also hidden his dealings with Russian oligarchs and the mob-controlled unions in the New York building trades. He concealed those things because he understood that they were illegal. On the other hand, he revealed top secret information to Russians because he didn't believe it was important to him, personally. He may have realized that describing espionage arrangements to Russian spies could result in serious damage to the people who obtained the information, maybe even their deaths, but he didn't care about that--because Trump only cares about what affects him personally.

That's why he refuses to release his tax returns. Because they contain evidence of his own criminal activity. He has concealed the contents for years, despite the demands of all and sundry to release them. Another secret he keeps is how much he is actually worth. He claims to be a billionaire, but some people doubt that. Trump himself, when asked under oath how much he was worth, said it just depended on his mood.

Trump can keep a secret. He knows that conspiring with the Russians to rig an election is a serious criminal offense. He's going to keep that secret until he goes to jail for it.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Immigrants are our great strength, not a source of weakness

In a response to a comment challenging an answer on Quora, I wrote the following comment.

My answer began with the words, “There is no DACA problem.” Apparently, you didn’t get the point, which is that the entire Trumpist critique of our system of immigration is flat-out wrong. If there is no problem, then I don’t need to spell out regulations to fix it.

Trump’s plan makes basic assumptions that are false. Your comment repeats those assumptions:

“So now we must secure the [border].”

This conclusion ignores the fact that no terrorists have come across the Mexican border since Pancho Villa did it in 1916. At that time, the US army easily repulsed the invasion forced and posted 100,000 soldiers to protect the border from further incursions. Given the current increased mobility of US military units and technical improvements for discovering fleeing adversaries, it would seem we have plenty of resources already available to protect our southern border.

Battle of Columbus (1916) - Wikipedia

Trumpists are acting as though Mexico had already declared war on the US, but this is not true. Our relations with Mexico had been completely peaceful and cooperative during the previous 100 years. Trump has antagonized the Mexican government and American citizens of Mexican heritage, thereby worsening relations with Mexico to build support for his southern border wall.
Even if we were at war with Mexico, building a wall along our Southern border would be a symbolic gesture at best. Walls were last an effective military measure during the 100 Years War.

How Castles Work

Trumpists apparently admire walls and believe that they have been effective at repelling invaders or keeping neighboring nations from entering a country illegally. They look at the Great Wall of China and believe that it served the purpose of repelling invaders, but it did not. The Mongol armies, for example, invaded China in 1276 and subdued the entire country, having passed through the area supposedly protected by the Great Wall.

Mongol conquest of China - Wikipedia

Trumpists don’t seem to care about actual facts. The 9/11 attackers were not Mexicans, nor did they attack over the Southern Border. Fifteen of the 19 terrorists were Saudi Arabians and the rest came from countries in the Middle East. None had entered the country by crossing the Mexican border. So the $20 billion wall Trumpists are proposing would have done absolutely nothing to prevent the 9/11 hijackings.

How the Terrorists Get In

Trumpists believe they can control terrorists by reducing immigration. But to do so would destroy what has always been a source of strength for the US. Furthermore, they believe that Muslims have committed most acts of terror in the US, but that is not even remotely true.

In Opinion: Terrorists do not come from the seven countries named in Trump’s Muslim ban order

Therefore, I do not support any of Trump’s proposals to exclude immigrants on the basis of race, religion, or country of national origin, primarily because none of these proposals address the actual causes of terrorism or the people who commit these acts. Trumpists’ rationale for these beliefs are based in large part on a flawed list of terrorists released by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

We have got to stop basing foreign policy decisions on blind prejudice and faulty data. We must start trusting immigrants to do what immigrants have always done, become good citizens and improve the nation in every way imaginable.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

In response to a critic of Portland, a Sanctuary City

This post was written in response to a post that appeared at

Tessera, you are making a number of false assumptions here. You call sanctuary cities, "sanctuaries for criminals", when in fact they are the opposite. They are sanctuaries from criminals.
I've known many immigrants. I was adopted by one. His brother lived in the US as the owner of a successful small business until he died recently. Neither of these men were remotely criminal. They came to the US seeking sanctuary from war and persecution.

If you look at our history, you will see the same story repeated over and over again. Immigrants came to our shores to escape starvation, repression, or sudden death at the hands of true criminals. That's what history tells us. That's why the US has always welcomed immigrants.

The story you are repeating--for I know you did not invent it yourself--is an utter lie. You compare immigrants to burglars, assassins, and thieves. Those are not the immigrants I know. The people I know who seek sanctuary are children and their parents, who left countries where criminal gangs have taken the place of civil government. They deserve our love, not the hatred you pour out onto the page.

Coincidentally, the measures being proposed by our soulless government are precisely those that will turn the largest number of young men into criminals. ICE arrests these people near the border and releases them on the other side of it, where criminal gangs can abduct them, torture them, and force them to become members. Those young men, once converted, will return to this country as criminals.

So you see, the sanctuary movement is not accepting criminals into this country. It is welcoming young men and women who have nowhere else to go and saving them from a life of crime.
Paradoxically, the government that you claim is preserving the rule of law is actually in the process of destroying it. Rule of law requires that people be convicted of a crime before they can be punished for it. Yet here you are, claiming immigrants to be criminals and calling for their punishment. On what evidence? On the words of a right-wing website you happen to have read?

Possibly you were frightened by those words of hate and dissension. No wonder! The authors intended to scare you and used every means at their command to do so. But we must resist these enemies of humanity whenever they appear.

We must emulate the members of the Underground Railroad in the antebellum South, who saved slaves from an inhuman system of bondage and gave them a chance to be free. We must emulate the underground in Europe during the great slaughter of Jews, who hid them, shepherded them away from Europe, and brought them to America, where they and their descendants are still living today.

Most of all, we must resist people who use lies and propaganda to foster hatred and division. We can't let them sucker us into their heinous game. Please reconsider your position on this issue and adopt the ways of understanding and love.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Scam:: Beware FeaturedRentals and Apartment Hunters Inc... they are hunting US!

(originally published a year ago, on 

To Your apartment listings appear to have been invaded by a nasty scamming organization called Apartment Hunters Inc. I have been searching for apartments through your site and when I try to contact the property, the link mostly leads to When I click on "contact" on their site, it leads to, a company that requires you to pay $49 before they let you get contact information. This company emailed me, and when I followed their "sign up" link, I found that behind them is an organization called Apartment Hunters Inc, which has all sorts of complaints against them for posting fraudulent listings and ripping people off. The Better Business Bureau gives them a rating of "F". I have had to search apartment complexes by name, and look for their websites, in order to avoid these people. I really hope you address this problem, as I will not continue using and recommending your service otherwise. 

I have been experiencing this, not just with one listing, but REPEATEDLY, with MANY listings. RentJungle's link led me to, which now is giving a three-day free "trial" before charging you $49 for thirty days of their "service". I looked at the address of some of the listings elsewhere and found that they were already off the market. 

Then I got an email from Featured, telling me the unit was "empty and available for immediate occupancy", and providing a "sign up" link. When I followed that link to see where it went, I came to a page where they wanted my credit card number and other info. I noticed that the "real" web address at the top of the screen showed "". Searching them and adding "review" revealed a huge amount of complaints about scamming and fraudulent listing of already-rented properties. 

Here is just one of the listings that I followed: 

You DO have a problem, Walk Score, and you need to address it!!

~Holly Masri

Friday, July 14, 2017

What did the President know and when did he know it?

You'd have to ask the Russians about that.

Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a professional expert on Soviet espionage techniques, has generously given us a peek into the world of Soviet espionage. He has described the purpose of Donnie's meeting with 2 Russian espionage assets and indicated that it went exactly as the Russian spymasters had hoped. That Donnie did not recognize this as an important meeting is hardly surprising.

The meeting was intended to feel out the Trump campaign and discover what Trump would do if the Russians ran their intended program of disruption and propaganda. The answer of course is that Trump would do nothing and did nothing in fact.

The question that needs to be asked now is, why did the Russians accept Donnie's indifference to their overture as permission to go full-speed ahead? Shouldn't they also be sure of Donald's response? Shouldn't the Russians ascertain whether Donnie told his father, Donald, about the meeting before they went ahead with their planned cyber attack? It seems to me they would want more assurance than the compliance of the candidate's son. Unless, of course, they had already gotten that assurance from Donald, something along the lines of, "Donnie speaks for me." But even then, they would want some assurance after the overture was made.

What if the Russians did receive such an assurance, in plain view, and the whole world heard it but didn't know what it meant?

Donald could have sent the ok to them in the form of a coded message, such as, "Why did Hillary erase 33,000 emails?" That would have fit into the cover story that Donnie told about what happened in the meeting, and it was a specific message the Russians would be sure to get but which would not obviously be an assent.

Everything Donald Trump and his associates did after this meeting is completely consistent with my assumption. Nothing that Donnie says about the meeting that cannot be independently verified makes any sense at all.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

When Will Trump Leave Office?

Donald Trump and the rest of his administration are doing worse than bungle their responsibilities. Each misstep by a Trump appointee emphasizes just how incompetent the president and his appointees are. You can't unring these bells. Once a stupid mistake is made, it sits around on the internet forever, springing into consciousness again and again.

Take Trump's pre-election description of how easy it was for him to sexually assault women because he was a tv star. The statement he made was undoubtedly true but still something you don't want to say when your job depends on the good will of women. Recently, Trump attacked Mika Brzezinski for her personal appearance. This comment immediately brought to mind his previous comments about women and their personal appearance. You can't take back what you said once it has been recorded for posterity.

My point is this: No matter how badly the public views Trump right now, it is bound to get worse, because these issues are additive. One stupid remark is added to another and another and so on. So Trump's reputation for stupidity (or sexism, if you prefer) just keeps on growing. Add to that the other lapses, faux pas, and revelations of ignorance that Trump continues to make and you soon have a snowball that will push Trump from office because he will no longer be able to fulfill the duties of the Presidency, which demand the confidence of the majority of Americans.

Trump clearly doesn't believe in democracy. He has staffed his departments with the wealthy, apparently on the assumption that wealthy people are better at their jobs than ordinary people. The form of government favored by Trump and his supporters is therefore plutocracy, or government by the wealthy, rather than democracy, government by the people. This accounts for some of the odd choices he has made as well as his disdain of scientists. Scientists are not wealthy, so their opinions are less important than those of business executives, he thinks.

So Trump's popularity ratings are still falling and his esteem among the educated classes is non-existent. What does this mean for how long his presidency will last? What will be the tipping point where Republicans recognize that Trump is poisonous to their political careers?

I believe that point is near. Some Republicans have stopped holding meetings with their constituents altogether, while others are holding closed meetings for Republican voters only. No doubt, these politicians believe that Trump will weather the storm and they will come out better in the end if they stick by him. When they begin to understand that Trump is toxic, there will be a mad rush toward the exits.

Look forward to this event sooner rather than later.

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