Truth in the Time of Trump

There was so much pain and confusion sewn in the run-up and aftermath of this election. What's being called into question more than anything else is trust: our trust in one another; our trust in leadership; our trust in the institutions we have always known; our trust in our government, built on solemn promises. In his inaugural address, Mr. Trump had an opportunity to address that divide; he chose not to. He began his campaign with a lie -- birtherism -- and he continues to sew the seeds of destruction and division.

We need to walk together and not be goaded by Trump's tactics. They serve a purpose for him, but his tactics don't serve Americans at all. It's tempting to fight back using the same invectives as he hurls; doing so threatens to diminish us all. We must see past this administration and this presidency and concentrate on electing politicians to both parties who are interested in placing country before party and the interests of all Americans before each politician's personal gains. 




Thinking about Resistance: The Food Movement

Mark Bittman, speaking about the election of Donald Trump (at the 18 minute mark), at a symposium at Harvard Law | Food Law and Policy Clinic | The Union of Concerned Scientists | A National Food Strategy

Kat Taylor - Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Beneficial State Bank  

Mark Bittman - fellow at UCS, food author

Emily Broad Leib - Director of the Harvard Law and Policy Clinic

Ricardo Salvador - Director, Food and Environment Program, UCS 


A national Food Strategy

A topic everyone can agree on: We all need food.

How our food arrives from field to table is a conversation worth having. Understanding the current waste and inefficiencies in our system could help pinpoint the problems and create better models of delivery that reduce costs while improving soil conditions; field workers' livelihoods; and the nutrition of every American. 

In our current delivery system, we waste 63 million tons of food annually. That represents over  40% of our total food...wasted. Also wasted is the water to grow the food that gets tossed out; the hours of labor in planting and reaping; and there is impact on the soil used to grow the food that gets wasted.

Right now, the model we use is: Extract and Exploit. There are better ways that can save money, while preserving the soil and water supplies, and that will not exploit field workers. The model we should be aiming for is: Regenerate and Thrive.

The Regenerate and Thrive model relies on facts and moves toward ethical efficiencies that don't exploit the land or the people along the way.

Much is at stake with the coming administration. The SNAP program, which provides food subsidies for 40 million American families, is under threat. Some Republicans would like to move it from an entitlement package to a block grant, which would give each state a sum of money to disperse as they see fit. This doesn't guarantee that those in need of food will receive the food they need to live. The poorest among us will be hurt the most. 


Big Battles Over Farm And Food Policies May Be Brewing As Trump Era Begins | The Salt | NPR | by Allison Aubrey and Dan Charles

In the Rush to Repeal Obamacare, A Reminder: Food Policy is Health Policy - The Equation | Union of Concerned Scientists | Karen Perry Stillerman

Block grants are just budget cuts in disguise -- and the targets are antipoverty programs | by Michael Hiltzik | Los Angeles Times | 3.25.16

Block granting SNAP (food stamps) would break a crucial anti-poverty program | by Jared Bernstein | The Washington Post | 01.11.16



HEAL Food Alliance | Health Environment Agriculture Labor

Plate of the Union| A call for action on Food & Farms

Our Challenge to President Elect Trump | by Plate of the Union | Medium

Food Policy Action | FPA

Center for Good Food Purchasing | Good Food Purchasing Program

Center for Science in the Public Interest | Advice and Advocacy for Healthier Food



Timothy Wise - Feeding Illusions: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Future of Food (coming soon)

Obama 2.0

What comes next for President Obama?

President Obama has plans to help the next generation of budding democratic politicians by directly mentoring them. When campaigning for President, Obama created a ground game that couldn't be beat; now, joining forces with Eric Holder, Obama's former AG, to form The Democratic Redistricting Committee, they hope to rebuild the democratic party by concentrating all of their energies on the ground game.

Obama chose Kelly Ward, former executive director of the DCCC, to be the interim leader of the redistricting project:

Ward picked to lead Obama-Holder redistricting project | by Edward-Isaac Dovere | Politico | 12.28.16

Outgoing DCCC Executive Director Moves to Obama’s Redistricting Group | Kelly Ward taking role with Obama-Holder effort | by Niels Lesniewski | Roll Call | 12.28.16

Obama’s post-presidency political focus: Redistricting | by Juliet Eilperin | The Washington Post | 11.17.16

We should all do what we can to help hone the Democratic message, fully make it our own, and get the message out there loud and clear, instead of reacting to every tweet and outrage offered by the President Elect and his team. George Lakoff, Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California, warns against giving Trump the attention his pronouncements seem to demand, in this recent blog post:

How to Help Trump

Without knowing it, many Democrats, progressives and members of the news media help Donald Trump every day. The way they help him is simple: they spread his message.
— George Lakoff

George Lakoff will be offering ways to frame our ideas as we make our way to a stronger democratic party, the party that was clearly favored by a majority of Americans in this last election. If we pay attention to the messages we want to deliver on a daily basis, become active in our communities, and clearly offer a vision and a means to creating the type of neighborhoods and country we want to live in and share with each other, there's no way we can lose in the long run. Let's get to work! 

Before You Take Your Next Facebook Quiz

Dark Ads : Psychological Profiles Weaponized

One of the biggest stories to come out of the election aftermath was the use of Social Media as a means for Donald Trump to sidestep news organizations; press conferences; and questions. Twitter is Mr. Trump's go-to forum to reach out to his constituents -- the one place where you'll find out what's on his mind, day or middle-of-the-night, in 140 character bites including exclamation points.

What has gone largely unnoticed, by design, was the campaign led by Jared Kushner, son-in-law to Trump, who, with the help of a social profiling aggregator based in London, waged a social engineering attack on Facebook that was used to great effect. On November 19th, The New York Times published an article written by McKenzie Funk: 

The Secret Agenda of a Facebook Quiz

It's here we find out about a company, Cambridge Analytica, who'd been gathering freely given information offered to them via quizzes on Facebook. You know, the quizzes that pop-up in your feed, often recommended by a friend who has just taken the quiz and discovered some aspect of their personality, then shared with all of their friends? Seems harmless. Well. Not so.

Those answers we've willingly supplied on a lark are being used specifically. In the case of this company, that only takes on Republican clients, the information gathered is aggregated over time, to provide a profile of each user. They have collected unique information on 230 million Americans. When a Republican candidate hires Cambridge Analytica to target messages, in the case of the last Presidential election, to both Republicans and Democrats, those messages are geared to the personality of the receiver to exact a certain result. A bit Orwellian, and creepy, to boot.

How many people would be taking these quizzes if they knew the end use? My guess is not many at all.

Meet the Mercers

Cambridge Analytica has an interesting background. The firm was used in the Brexit campaign. There was an infusion of cash that tracks back to Robert Mercer, who made the bulk of his wealth operating a hedge fund. He has three daughters; his middle daughter, Rebekah, who is on Trump's executive transition team, is in charge of dispersing money from her family foundation to Republican causes. They backed Ted Cruz early on, then shifted their money; connections; and data company services to Trump. Rebekah has much influence on who gets in front of Trump. You can thank her for: Steve Bannon; Kellyanne Conway; Jeff Sessions; and pushing hard for John Bolton.

The rise of GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer | by Matea Gold | The Washington Post | 09.14.16

The heiress quietly shaping Trump’s operation -  Major GOP donor Rebekah Mercer has funded many of the groups and figures helping to assemble Trump's team, and now she's formally part of it. | by Kenneth P. Vogel | Politico | 11.21.16

Forbes Exclusive Interview: How Jared Kushner Won Trump The White House

What Does The Billionaire Family Backing Donald Trump Really Want? The Mercers are enjoying more influence than ever with their candidate in the White House -- but no one seems to know how they intend to use it. | by Rosie Grey | The Atlantic | 01.17.17

Bold Promises Fade to Doubts  for a Trump - Linked Data Firm | by Nicholas Confessore and Danny Hakim | The New York Times | 02.06.17

This Week in Tech, starting at the 3 minute mark, discusses the Trump campaign's use of dark ads to sway votes: 

No Man is Above the Law

[N]o person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.
— — Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution

Dahlia Lithwick covers The Supreme Court for Slate; her podcast, Amicus, informs listeners about the current issues before the court. In this week's episode, Lithwick interviews the legal scholar, Zephyr Teachout, who discusses the Constitutional problems President-Elect Trump will face on day one of his Presidency.  

Amicus | Dahlia Lithwick | Slate | Corruption in America

Trump is on target to violate the Constitution the moment he takes the oath of office | by Jennifer Rubin | The Washington Post | 12.18.16

The Emoluments Clause: Its text, meaning, and application to Donald J. Trump | by Norman Eisen, Richard Painter, and Lawrence Tribe |  Brookings Institution | 12.16.16

How We Got Here

As surprising as Trump's electoral college win was for many of us who relied too heavily on the polls, the fact that someone like Trump surfaced at this time in America is not at all surprising. For decades certain factions in this country have been motivated by what they see as their right to acquire as much as they are able, without regard to the country, the common good, their employees, or any government regulation that could curb their business desires.

I highly recommend Jane Mayer's book, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. Reading it will give you an idea of the scope and the damage done to this country on behalf of a few very wealthy humans whose greed knows no bounds.

Here's a book review from the New York Times:

‘Dark Money,’ by Jane Mayer |By Alan Ehrenhalt | 01.19.16