Who is Bruce Ohr, and why is Donald Trump saying nasty things about him?

August 31, 2018

Who is @aliasvaughn? There are at least two views, one very flattering, one less so, and others. For my mileage, I’ve come to regard the handle on Twitter as a gossip columnist on the Trump administration troubles with criminal law.

That’s not to dismiss the work at all. Jack Anderson took over a Washington gossip column, and became an investigative powerhouse during the Watergate years.

We could use another Jack Anderson now, to present what is known about scandals in the White House, with assured publication in 1,000 local newspapers that right now get almost none of that news.

Plus, as anyone who heard me talk to corporations, an organization’s gossip reveals information vacuums that great leaders will fill with good, accurate information, and often reveals details about events that do not appear in the official versions of a story, but which can make all the difference in the world in properly dealing with a situation. Leaders listen to gossip, and answer it.

In any case, today Ale (@aliasvaughn) offers a lengthy-for-Twitter explanation of why Donald Trump lashes out at Bruce Ohr, who you and I don’t know from Adam nor Adam’s off-ox. The explanation has a lot of hyperbole in it — but it also offers information you can’t get from the Trump echo chambers, and a lot of connections today’s newspaper doesn’t have time to explain.

Assistant Attorney General and past champion Russian organized crime fighter Bruce Ohr.

Former Associate Deputy Attorney General and past champion Russian organized crime fighter Bruce Ohr.

So I saved the thread here, and offer it for your edification and entertainment, and to convince you to go vote the bums out in November.

Who is Bruce Ohr?


September 2018: When to fly the the U.S. flag

August 31, 2018

ARLINGTON, VA - SEPTEMBER 11: In this U.S. Navy handout, sunrise at the Pentagon prior to a ceremony to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The American flag is draped over the site of impact at the Pentagon. Photo by Damon J. Moritz

Caption from Foreign Policy Magazine: ARLINGTON, VA – SEPTEMBER 11: In this U.S. Navy handout, sunrise at the Pentagon prior to a ceremony to commemorate the 2016 anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The American flag is draped over the site of impact at the Pentagon. Photo by Damon J. Moritz

September features few dates to fly the U.S. flag in an average year. Labor Day is the only national holiday. Only California joined the union in a past September, so that’s the only statehood date. Gold Star Mothers Day had fallen out of regular honors, until our two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

School reform efforts after 2000 turned to adding patriotism to the curriculum. Most states now require something be said about the Constitution in social studies classes, and that has increased focus on Constitution Day on September 17. On September 17, 1787, the convention in Philadelphia signed and formally transmitted the proposed Constitution to the 2nd Continental Congress, with a plan that each state would call a convention of citizens to ratify the document; when citizens of at least 9 states ratified, the document entered into force.

Attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, led to a new day honoring patriots, on that day of the month every year.

The dates are few, but the sobriety and somberness are great.

Here are the dates to fly the U.S. flag in September 2018. In order:

More:

The largest free-flying American flag in the world flew over the George Washington Bridge Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, in Fort Lee, New Jersey, for Labor Day. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said the flag flew on Labor Day under the upper arch of the bridge’s New Jersey tower, to honor working men and women across the country. The flag is 90 feet long by 60 feet wide, with stripes measuring about five feet wide and stars about four feet in diameter. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) (via Mowry Journal)

The largest free-flying American flag in the world flew over the George Washington Bridge Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, in Fort Lee, New Jersey, for Labor Day. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said the flag flew on Labor Day under the upper arch of the bridge’s New Jersey tower, to honor working men and women across the country. The flag is 90 feet long by 60 feet wide, with stripes measuring about five feet wide and stars about four feet in diameter. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) (via Mowry Journal)

 

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Beto O’Rourke, on kneeling for national anthem

August 23, 2018

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas (El Paso) in a House committee hearing room. Relevant Magazine image.

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas (El Paso) in a House committee hearing room. Relevant Magazine image.

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke reaches out to every Texan in his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Ted Cruz. O’Rourke already visited all 254 Texas counties, listening to Texans tell him what is important in their lives.

Now Beto conducts town hall meetings.

Recently a Texan asked him about NFL players’ kneeling during the national anthem.

Does his answer surprise you? It reveals the thought he’s put into issues.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Now This! on Twitter.


Trump’s trade wars trash America

August 20, 2018

Cartoon on trade wars by Mike Beeler.

Cartoon on trade wars by Mike Beeler.

My fear is too few people carefully track U.S. economic policy amy more. My fears increase when I come across Tweets like this:

Here is the entire, short thread, extracted from Tweets from “BumbleBee.” I hope to come back and add links; please feel fee to offer links to confirmation, in comments. Or, if you know of other effects not lusted here, please show those links.

[President Trump’s] tariffs are having a real impact on U.S. businesses, for example:

  • CaseLogic – closing

  • Element Electronics – closing

  • Harley Davidson – going overseas

  • Mid-Continental Nail – laid off 60 employees, lost 50% of orders, may close by Labor Day

  • REC Silicon – cut production by 25%

  • Trans-matic – cut production by 25%

  • Toyota – added $3k to cost of each car

Multiple companies are also asking for exemptions from the 25% tariffs. Here are just two examples: Batesville Tool & Die, or will shift manufacturing to Mexico as well as Qualtek Mfg, because tariffs have driven annual costs up by $300k. They couldn’t hire add’l 14 employees, [have] delayed shipments, and customers have diverted orders to others suppliers. Says tariffs have “cut us off at the knees.”

It is also affecting U.S. farmers drastically. One farmer in Illinois says he is losing $8 a head on pork, and he is losing money on everything he grows. Says that 95% of everything he produces was shipped outside U.S. borders.

The Senior Director of Commodities says there will be long term indications because of the tariffs. Says that it took 20 years to get the markets back to normal after the last trade wars, and farmers will be relying heavily on the government for a long time.

Anyone who supports Trump’s idiotic tariffs and believes “trade wars are easy to win” have no idea what they are talking about, and no clue how they affect people down the line. I have friends trying to sell their farms in both Kansas and Nebraska.

Trump, you’re an idiot.

And what’s your mileage on the trade wars?


July 21, 2018: Hawaii statehood, fly your flag!

August 20, 2018

It’s been 59 years since the youngest state entered the union — the longest stretch in which the U.S. has not added another state.

“On June 14, 1959, Boy Scout Milton Motooka helped get the word out for Hawaii’s statehood plebiscite to be held 13 days later. A new documentary will focus on Hawaii’s statehood.” Hawaiians voted yes in the plebiscite, and statehood was declared two months later. (Whatever became of Scout Motooka? See comments on last year’s post.)

“On June 14, 1959, Boy Scout Milton Motooka helped get the word out for Hawaii’s statehood plebiscite to be held 13 days later. A new documentary will focus on Hawaii’s statehood.” Hawaiians voted yes in the plebiscite, and statehood was declared two months later. (Whatever became of Scout Motooka? See comments on last year’s post.)

June’s plebiscite smoothed the path for statehood, declared two months later.

13-year-old paperboy Chester Kahapea happily hawks a commemorative edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin with the headline showing the state had achieved statehood after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the law authorizing Hawaii as a state. Star-Bulletin photo by Murray Befeler

13-year-old paperboy Chester Kahapea happily hawks a commemorative edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin with the headline showing the state had achieved statehood after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the law authorizing Hawaii as a state. Star-Bulletin photo by Murray Befeler

Hawaii’s official statehood day is August 21, commemorating the day in 1959 when Hawaii was recognized as a member of the union of the United States of America.  Hawaiians should fly their flags to day in honor of the date (you may, too).

Hawaii formally celebrates the day on the third Friday in August, this year on the 19th.  I hope you joined in the festivities (it’s a holiday in Hawaii) — but under the U.S. Flag Code, you may certainly fly your flags on August 21, regardless which day of the week that is.

Specimen copy of the ballot used by Hawaiians in a June 27, 1959, plebiscite to approve conditions of statehood. Image from Hawaii Magazine, 2009

Specimen copy of the ballot used by Hawaiians in a June 27, 1959, plebiscite to approve conditions of statehood. Image from Hawaii Magazine, 2009

After the U.S. annexed Hawaii in 1898 (in action separate from the Spanish-American War) attempts at getting Hawaii admitted as a state got rolling.  After World War II, with the strategic importance of the islands firmly implanted in Americans’ minds, the project picked up some steam.  Still, it was 14 years after the end of the war that agreements were worked out between the people of Hawaii, the Hawaiian royal family, Congress and the executive branch.  The deal passed into law had to be ratified by a plebiscite among Hawaiian citizens.  The proposition won approval with 94% of votes in favor.

Some native Hawaiian opposition to statehood arose later, and deference to those complaints has muted statehood celebrations in the 21st century.

Other than the tiny handful of loudmouth birthers, most Americans today are happy to have Hawaii as a state, the fifth richest in the U.S. by personal income.  The nation has a lot of good and great beaches, but the idea of catching sun and surf in Hawaii on vacation might be considered an idealized part of the American dream.

“Loudmouth birthers?” Yeah, Barack Obama, our 45th President, was born in Hawaii in 1961. Some whiners think that, but for statehood, Obama would not have been a citizen eligible to be president. Hawaii is not good ground for growing sour grapes, though. Birth in a territory would probably be enough to make him eligible. Water under the bridge: Hawaii was a state in 1961. President Obama remains president.

More:

This is an encore post.


National Aviation Day 2018! Fly those flags and fly those airplanes!

August 19, 2018

NASA’s poster for National Aviation Day 2016. A young girl looks up at some of the experimental ideas for future aviation. NASA said: “It’s an exciting time for aviation, with potential NASA X-planes on the horizon and a lot of new technologies that are making airplanes much more Earth friendly. Use National Aviation Day to excite and inspire the young people you know about exploring aeronautics as a future career. Credits: NASA / Maria C. Werries”

NASA’s poster for National Aviation Day 2016. A young girl looks up at some of the experimental ideas for future aviation. NASA said: “It’s an exciting time for aviation, with potential NASA X-planes on the horizon and a lot of new technologies that are making airplanes much more Earth friendly. Use National Aviation Day to excite and inspire the young people you know about exploring aeronautics as a future career. Credits: NASA / Maria C. Werries”

August 19 is National Aviation Day. In federal law, the day is designated for flying the flag (36 USC 1 § 118).

August 19 is the anniversary of the birth of Orville Wright, usually credited with being on the team with his brother Wilbur who successfully built and flew the first heavier-than-air flying machine.

Celebrate? The White House issued no proclamation for 2018. but you may fly your flag anyway.


Annals of DDT: When they sprayed DDT from airplanes to stop polio

August 10, 2018

March of Dimes Foundation photo:

March of Dimes Foundation photo: “Nurses tended to polio patients in iron lung respirators at the Robert B. Green Memorial Hospital polio ward in San Antonio in 1950. It was a common scene throughout the polio crisis that swept Texas.” From the San Antonio Express-News article on the history of polio in the city.

It didn’t work.

In a desperate move to stop polio epidemics, after World War II but before the Salk polio vaccine was available, some American towns authorized aerial spraying of DDT over their cities.

Of course, DDT doesn’t stop viruses, and polio is a virus. Polio virus is not spread by a vector, an insect or other creature which might have been stopped by DDT, as mosquitoes spread malaria parasites and West Nile virus.

Aerial spraying of DDT against polio did not one thing.

A podcast from the Science History Institute discussed these misdirected events recently, and someone there did a sharp, short video to explain the issue.

YouTube explanation:

An animation drawn from episode 207 of Distillations podcast, DDT: The Britney Spears of Chemicals.

The podcast is a short 15 minutes, and fun, “Distillations.”

Americans have had a long, complicated relationship with the pesticide DDT, or dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, if you want to get fancy. First we loved it, then we hated it, then we realized it might not be as bad as we thought. But we’ll never restore it to its former glory. And couldn’t you say the same about America’s once-favorite pop star?

We had a hunch that the usual narrative about DDT’s rise and fall left a few things out, so we talked to historian and CHF fellow Elena Conis. She has been discovering little-known pieces of this story one dusty letter at a time.

But first our associate producer Rigoberto Hernandez checks out some of CHF’s own DDT cans—that’s right, we have a DDT collection—and talks to the retired exterminator who donated them.

I bring it up here because in recent weeks there’s been a little surge on Twitter, and probably on Facebook and other places, in people claiming DDT causes polio, or causes symptoms so close to polio that physicians could never tell the difference. A lot of anti-vaccine advocates pile on, claiming that this would prove that the polio vaccine doesn’t work.

That’s all quite hooey-licious, off course. Polio’s paralysis of muscles in almost no way resembles acute DDT poisoning, which causes muscle misfiring instead of paralysis. As with almost every other disease, acute DDT poisoning can cause nausea; but DDT poisoning either kills its victim rather quickly, or goes away after a couple of weeks.

Polio doesn’t do that.

In the podcast, you’ll hear the common story of kids running behind DDT fogging trucks, because people thought DDT was harmless. In the concentrations in the DDT fogs, it would be almost impossible to ingest the 4 ounces or so of DDT required to get acute poisoning.

In any case, it’s one more odd facet of a long story of human relations to DDT and diseases. It’s worth a listen for history’s sake. But in this case, it’s entertaining, too. You’ll hear stories of people who opposed government actions to spray DDT, and who thought the government was too lax in its regulation and use of DDT.

More:

San Antonio Express-News file photo.

San Antonio Express-News file photo. “A young boy gets polio vaccine in this undated photo.”

Tip of the old scrub brush to Science History Institute (@SciHistoryOrg on Twitter).


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