Category: George Ledyard

Why Russian Influence Matters

Why Russian Influence Matters

Many Americans were simply stunned that Trump could possibly have been elected President. But the fact is that Trump actually lost the popular vote by quite a bit (almost 3 million votes).
Trump won by an 80,000 vote margin in just three states. That’s how close the election was. We know that some undetermined number of folks said that they didn’t really vote FOR Trump but rather AGAINST Clinton.       
We also know that break off “progressives” who either failed to vote or voted for Jill Stein and the Green Party had enough numbers in those states to have thrown the election back in Clinton’s favor.
We also know that ten million African American voters who turned out for Obama went back to not voting in 2016. While there were legitimate reasons for their lack of motivation, it’s a fact that they were targeted by Russian social media Trolls in an effort to discourage participation.
All of this points out the fact that the Russian backed, anti-Clinton campaign which spewed conspiracy theories non-stop throughout the election made the final difference. Far Right and far Left groups bought into, perpetuated, and magnified these Russian Troll created narratives.
Americans have to stop believing outrageous conspiracies that are designed to play to their prejudices and start getting into some sort of reality zone.
The right understands that the demographics in this country are against it. So they are busy extending and tightening their control of the nation’s media. Sinclair which is a very right wing corporation backed by big money from radical libertarian interests is making a concerted effort to extend its reach.
FOX News continues to be nothing but a disinformation organ for the far right and currently, the Trump administration. They serve to take the wildest fictions created by the ultra far right media like InfoWars and clean them up just a bit and make them seemingly respectable.
We know that anyone who listens to Alex Jones is, ipso facto, a nut job. But the right wing propaganda effort is a layered effort. They start with the totally wild crackpot ultra right talk shows. Then they take that essential message and clean it up and seemingly make it credible and respectable by running it through the massive FOX News network.
FOX brings on a mix of crazy right wing folks coupled with more mainstream Republican figures who lend some credibility to the reporting. But the overall message is only different in tone, not substance, from the insane narrative offered by the super far right.
If you want to give yourself a good wake up call, realize that FOX News is not the most right wing media network but rather the closest to the center of the vast right wing media disinformation network. Sinclair is quite a bit more right wing. And most of America is exposed to this propaganda effort 24/7.
The Russian owned media outlets in the US, Sputnik and Russia Today (RT) are somewhat transparent in their agendas. But what is less apparent is how many of the folks on their payroll seem to be engaged in messaging efforts designed to influence other media and especially social media campaigns. Coordination with Russian Troll farms makes what these folks are up to more sinister. They are really functioning as an extension of Russian intelligence operating freely here in the US.
Anyway, all of this combines to threaten the democratic process in which the will of the people is expressed through a vote. It represents an all out effort to control the sources of information and distort that info to shape the opinions of the voters. It has never in our history been as sophisticated or effective. And with media consolidation it is only going to get worse.

Under Donald Trump We Are Seeing the End of Protections Against Corruption

George S LedyardConsidered by many to be the most corrupt administration in US history. the Grant administration shocked the public for its level of venality. The immediate post civil war period was really the first real major growth of the Federal Government and it’s management of the economy and public lands etc.

The opportunities to manipulate financial markets, skirt what few regulations existed because regulatory systems were not yet in place, the occupation of the South which was under military rule, all of this combined to allow a money grab on a scale we had never seen before in our history. (If you watched the TV series Hell on Wheels, you’d have a good idea just what a money grab took place).

Grant Administration CorruptionUlysses S. Grant

Grant himself was known for his honesty, but his administration was likely the most corrupt in the 19th century.

A near-ceaseless flow of money from speculation and western expansion led to an epidemic of corruption, and Grant responded by stubbornly protecting those accused of graft.

A massive conspiracy to pilfer tax revenue from whiskey sales, called the Whiskey Ring, snared more than 100 federal, state, and local officials.

The secretaries of the Navy, of war and of the treasury all faced allegations of bribery and taking kickbacks.

The Salary Grab Act was passed by Congress at the end of Grant’s first term to enact gigantic retroactive pay raises for itself and to increase the salary of the president.

Grant’s administration was gutted by the Credit Mobilier scandal, in which a construction company massively overcharged the Union Pacific Railroad. The company pulled off the scam thanks to millions in bribes paid to the vice president, the secretary of the treasury, four senators, and the speaker of the House.
Most Corrupt Administrations in US History

Anyway, that’s your history lesson for the day. What is happening today is potentially on the same scale. The Trump administration is engaged in an all out, no holds barred effort to do two things. One approach is to remove as many of the rules and regulations that govern business, banking and finance as possible giving virtual free rein to act in any way they wish with no oversight or consequences.

Corruption in DCBut rolling back regulation is not enough. Trump is striving for a much more long lasting destruction of the Federal Government’s ability to regulate by dismantling the regulatory agencies themselves. He is purposely underfunding and understaffing these agencies. He is placing people formerly opposed to the missions of these agencies in charge of them. The result is an exodus of Federal employees who have the career expertise on regulating various industries.
Additionally, we see the various offices of governmental ethics being virtually crippled by administration and GOP Congressional refusal to support these offices. We have seen the Head of the Office of Governmental Ethics resign over the fact that he was simply not being allowed to do his job.

IDonald Trump Mobster Godfathern short, what we are seeing is the result that we elected a mobster to the Presidency.  He has the support of the corporate billionaire investor class that wishes to operate with no restraint in their search for greater profit. If there are no regulations, than everything is legal. If there are no regulatory agencies, no one will know when the few regulations left are contravened.
The Trump presidency: On track to becoming the most corrupt in U.S. history?

How Do We Handle Sexual Harassment?

George S LedyardLet’s talk about the on-going discussion we are having about sexual harassment and how we wish to treat it in our society. The central theme at the moment seems to be trying to understand the continuum of severity involved. Few actually believe that grabbing a woman’s butt or using sexist language in the work place is exactly the same as rape.

The real discussion revolves around whether all these offenses get treated the same, the so-called “zero tolerance” model, or is there some range of consequences that would fit the range of offenses.

Minnie Driver recently made a passionate case for the zero tolerance model while Matt Damon made a reasoned appeal asking us to be more nuanced in our approach to this. The Guardian Article

I have listened to the various discussions and found that neither side has really defined the problem properly. There are, in fact, two continua that we need to consider in order to better understand this problem.

The one we have been publicly debating is the “severity continuum”. It ranges from merely suggestive or objectionable sexist language, to unwanted touching, to outright groping, unwanted kissing and embraces, aggressive physical sexual advances, using positions of power to coerce sex, and out right rape.

Where our discussions have fallen short is in our failure to look at the effect of “frequency” when judging the severity of our problem and the effect of harassment on both individual women and the women in the society as a whole.

Let’s use the example afforded by the historical suppression of our Black community before the civil rights movement as an example of how “frequency” can be equally as powerful in maintaining second class status as “severity”.

While lynching was the ultimate weapon used against any Black folk even perceived to be getting “uppity” or “not knowing their place”, they did not happen on a daily basis. And no one would equate calling someone a “nigger” with lynching him. Yet the issue here is much the same as with the women and harassment issue.

What kept the Black community in a position of subjugation, even in places in which they had the majority population, was a constant, 24/7 environment with myriad reminders of second class status. Not being allowed to make eye contact, whites always using your first name, never your last, or using Mr. respectfully. Calling grown men “boy”, sitting in the back of the bus, or in the hot balcony of the movie theater, not using the same drinking fountain. It went on and on.

When your entire environment is structured to provide constant little reminders of your second-class status, it disempowers you, it saps your self-esteem. It removes your sense of possibility that things could be better. Well, that is what women have been living with.

Despite endemic sexual assault rates, most women are not rape survivors. But just about EVERY woman in our society has been subjected to the myriad little, what are now being called “micro-aggressions”, women referred to as girls, sexual discriminations, innuendo, minimizing humor, and so on. Very few women have not had to fend off an overly aggressive man, or to dodge the wandering hands of a boss or co-worker. And, as we are now seeing, thousands of women are coming forward with their stories of coerced sex and rape. Their horrific stories aren’t even unique. They are ubiquitous and thereby risk losing their power to appall.

But when women come forward and say they want the guy who groped, the guy who pulled up porn on his computer, the guy who suggested that a career could be advanced if a women were “nice”, when they say that they want these guys expunged, that there should be “zero tolerance” for these behaviors, they are acknowledging that the daily onslaught of seemingly small harassments being considered “normal” or the myriad minor sexual harassments being “minimized” or “tolerated” is in many ways just as serious as the damage done by those assaults that even men would consider serious.

What we are seeing right now is the rising up of over half of our society who are saying that they will not accept second class status any more. They are pointing out that living in a society in which women’s daily experience contains actions which demean, that disempower, that insult is how women have been led to tolerate and accept second class status since the beginning. Generations of women were taught to quietly accept this treatment because if they complained, at best, they were minimized, were treated as hysterical, were made to feel stupid and at worst they were pilloried and lost their jobs or were shunned by their neighbors for speaking out.
So, while I am in agreement that we have to figure out what kind of consequences there are for men who commit these ranges of misbehaviors and we definitely need to decide whether there is a “road back” to acceptance in polite society for the minor offenders who seem to be truly remorseful and are willing to be part of the solution, not the problem, I am also sympathetic to the “zero tolerance” argument.

We are trying to undo many hundreds of years of injustice just within our own society here in the US. That cannot be done by only dealing with the major assaults like rape and coerced sex while allowing minor infractions get a slap on the wrist or a mere reprimand. We have to commit to turning around the entire professional environment for women of all walks of life. Not just the movie stars or corporate executives but the hotel workers the waitresses and domestics.

It may be that we need to go through a period in which we do have zero tolerance so that we raise a generation of women that hasn’t had to “survive” any type of harassment or assault. What kind of young ladies will we raise when the mothers of a whole generation have never had to treat harassment or assault as normal? I think we need to make it a priority to find out.

“Clean Repeal” / “Repeal & Replace” Proof the GOP Can’t Govern

George S LedyardOK, everyone. Here is the bottom line. We really don’t need any more information than this.
The ACA never managed to cover everyone. The uninsured number of citizens peaked in 2010 at 18.2%. Today, due to the ACA, it is at 10.3%, the lowest rate ever since tracking began 45 years ago. But that is still 28 million uninsured.
The GOP is now considering two options:
1) The clean repeal – according to the CBO, this option would throw an additional 32 million out of coverage. Essentially this option would take us back to a worse situation than our worst rate back in 2010. That’s on top of our existing uninsured. So, we’d go to 60 million uninsured with the “clean repeal”. Who thinks that ‘s an acceptable option, besides Donald Trump?
2) Replace the ACA with the GOP plan – this plan, again according to the CBO, would throw 22 million out of coverage over ten years. That takes us to 50 million uninsured. That’s a couple of million worse than the record in 2010. The reason that the GOP hasn’t been able to pass this option so far, is that a significant segment of the GOP Senate believes that the bill does not go far enough in repealing the ACA. That’s just insane.
The GOP is proving itself to be wedded to ideology rather than reality. Their 7 year propaganda and outright disinformation campaign against the ACA, convinced their base that the ACA is a horrible disaster. Now that they actually have to create a program that works, they find that most of the ACA is working and it’s most important provisions are elements that the voters do not wish to do without.
The tiny group of GOP moderates in the Senate that are also refusing to support their party’s bill, may end up being willing to work with the Democrats to fix the elements of the ACA that are not working. But the rest of the party is facing the harsh reality of either damaging the interests of their own constituents by following through on their promise to repeal the ACA or admitting that their claims about the ACA were pretty much anti-Obama propaganda and retain and repair it.
The GOP is now reaping their harvest of lying to their followers for years. Now that they are responsible for creating a real plan that is sustainable, they can’t and still live up to their promises. So, congratulations to the GOP. They have figured out how to use
propaganda to get elected and have made themselves incapable of actually governing.

Why Republicans Cannot Replace the ACA, Or Accomplish Anything Else

The Truth about the Uninsured Rate in America


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