Monday, June 12, 2017

Fake News and SEO

Have you wondered why it is Trump so fervently believes in "fake news?" His passionate cries of fake news! Fake News! Have confused many people. Why is he so convinced that the media is making up total lies?
The answer is- because he pays them to.
This article from Paste Magazine, "How the Trump-Russia Data Machine Games Google to Fool Americans," is possibly the best article I've read on Donald J. Trump to date.
Trump's team pays for people to create fake stories (showing his opponents in an absurdly bad light), and then use search engine optimization (SEO) to promote the fake news.
So naturally it is easy for a man who is easily deluded to his own grandeur to believe that anything negative about him is actually fake news created by his enemies, just like he creates it about them.
I can understand if this might be hard for some people to believe (this being the entire idea that you can game Google to spread fake news). But I work in marketing. I personally spend hours every day working with SEO. I've seen first-hand just how easy it can be to create a website, implement excellent SEO techniques, and dominate Google.
So for me, this just makes sense. I finally understand why Trump believes in it. He's not a nut job conspiracy theorist. He's guilty of fake news himself!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Not Even a Good Liar


According to Trump's private fleet records he never went to Russia.
Not even in November 2013, when he was there for the Miss Universe pageant.
It's like he's not even trying. Unless you believe the possibility that maybe, possibly he flew commercial.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Trump and the Russia Interference Allegations Timeline



The timeline of events surrounding President Doland Trump, Jared Kushner, Michael Flynn, James Comey, and others on the possibility that Russia interfered in the U.S. election, and possibly with the complicity of the Trump campaign.

June 6, 2017 - Reading Between the Lines of Comey's Prepared Testimony. New York Times reporters analyze prepared remarks by James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, that were published Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
May 26, 2017 - The Trump-Russia Story Starts Making Sense (WSJ)
May 27, 2017 - Jared Kushner requested secret channel to communicate with Russians (W Post)
May 27, 2017 - White House will not comment on Jared Kushner's involvement with Russia (The Hill)
May 27, 2017 - Trump and Russia: A Timeline on Communications (The Hill)

May 25, 2017 - The Justice Department tells CNN that Sessions did not disclose his meetings with Kislyak on his application for a security clearance, despite a requirement to name contacts with a foreign government or its representatives in the previous seven years.

May 23, 2017 - Trump gets outside council (a lawyer who has worked for him for 15 years) for possible lawsuit over Russia interference allegations (WSJ) Former CIA director John Brennan confirms that he viewed intelligence showing people involved in Trump’s campaign had interacted with Russian officials and that the contacts “concerned” him. He refuses to identify the individuals or speak to their level of involvement in the campaign, and says he is unsure whether the contacts amounted to “collusion.”

May 19, 2017 - White House lawyers begin researching impeachment
May 19, 2017 - Rick Santorum warns Trump GOP could impeac

May 17, 2017 - Everything we know so far about Trump, Russia, and Comey (LA Times)

May 16, 2017 - Trump asked Comey to drop investigation into Flynn according to memo (LA Times)

May 11, 2017 - Timeline of events leading to Comey's firing (NY Times)

May 9, 2017 - Trump fires Comey (LA Times) Former acting attorney general Sally Yates says during testimony before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that she had warned the White House that Flynn and Kislyak had discussed sanctions immediately after realizing that Flynn had misled Pence about that fact. Flynn’s communications with Kislyak had been picked up in routine surveillance of the Russian ambassador, she says. Yates also disputes the White House’s characterization of Flynn’s behavior as routine.

April 11, 2017 - Congressman Jason Chaffetz won't investigate the Russia connection, constituents fight back (Deseret News)

April 1, 2017 - Trump tells NBC to stop covering the Russia investigation (thehill.com)

March 28, 2017 - Trump admin tries to block Sally Yates from testifying on Russia.  (W Post)

March 20, 2017 - FBI Director James Comey confirms in public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that the bureau is investigating Russian election interference, and any linkes between Moscow and Trump’s campaign.
The same day, Spicer says at a press briefing that Trump stands by his comments that he has no knowledge of any contacts between his campaign associates and Russia during the election — though he notes that Trump is aware of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak. Spicer says that the White House is not aware of any contacts between former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Russian operatives. Spicer also stresses that former Obama intelligence officials have said there is "no evidence of a Trump Russia collusion.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Deep Musings on Secular, Worldly, and Religious Ideas...





This morning as I read through the morning news I find myself contemplating the picture attached to this article about Trump meeting Pope Francis. And not just because of the grim look on the Pope's face. If anything I am sure that this is just a bad and out of place picture out of hundreds, and that's why it is making the media rounds. (Only Trump is smiling, and everyone else looks off. I'm sure it's just a bad picture, and not indicative of any real emotions.)

But it is an interesting picture for other reasons.
1. Jared Kushner- Jewish.
2. Ivanka- former Christian converted to Judaism to marry her husband.
3. Melania- former topless model, from a not usually Christian country, that tends to hate Catholics, and yet claims to be a Roman Catholic.
4. Trump- serial womanizer, on his 3rd wife, who claims at different times to be Catholic or Lutheran. I think he and Melania are not actually really religious except in political years.

And then there is the Pope. A man who embodies the very definition of being the Lord's servant on Earth. Few men in history have shown the love and compassion for all of humanity that Pope Francis has. He has set an example for all of the world when it comes to accepting sinners and the poor. He shows humility in all that he does. (And I would say without hesitation is the very compelling opposite of all things Trump.)
I may not be Catholic, but I have nothing but the greatest respect for Pope Francis.

It is of interest to note that he doesn't just represent a religion, but a country. It is a religion with so much power that it is a country. That's no small thing. The Vatican City holds a great deal of power within its walls.

And that's my jumping off point---

What if all religions were their own nation state? What if other world leaders had to pay the same respect to all religions that they do to the Vatican?

I think it would be a beautiful thing. I'm actually quite serious on this. I don't believe religions need armies to be heard. The Vatican certainly doesn't need one, and yet is heard worldwide. (Also, sidenote, if you've ever seen the Swiss Guard at the Vatican, feel free to laugh at the idea of those men actually in battle.

Which brings me to my next musing...

Respect for religions and beliefs.

Whilst in the Middle East, Melania and Ivanka didn't cover their heads. But they did to meet the Pope. They would not have been allowed to meet the Pope otherwise. I do believe they should have shown respect for Muslim beliefs in Saudi and worn head scarves there too.

Last, but more important than all the rest, Callista Gingrich. The third (or is it fourth?) wife of Newt, has been named Ambassador to the Vatican.

For a hundred reasons I don't like Trump. But this is one of the few things he's done that truly just disappoints me. Appointing Callista Gingrich to the Vatican is showing tremendous disrespect for Catholicism and the Pope.

Both the Church and the Pope have promoted strong marriages, anti-divorce, and purity. And so Trump appointed a woman who had a 6 year affair with Newt while he was married. Callista and her husband represent the Pope's views on family and marriage about as well as Donald and Melania. Of course, her job is to represent American views, not the Pope's. But in this unique ambassadorship, it would be far more appropriate and fitting to appoint someone who doesn't embrace the opposite values.

It's very disappointing.

Respect for other's beliefs is more important now than ever before. Intolerance of other beliefs has always been (and probably always will be) what leads to war. If the Crusades and Islam's War on the World has taught us anything, it's that we greatly need to respect other's beliefs.

So look at the picture below one more time and think about it. And think about how the Pope is doing something here many popes before him would not have done. He is standing with 2 Jews, a topless model, and serial adulterer. He is the one in this picture showing respect for others' beliefs, and embracing those he doesn't agree with.

Not the other way around.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Rick Santorum Warns Trump the GOP will Turn on Their Own

Normally I'm not a big Rick Santorum fan. But his warning to Trump is spot on. Glad to see a party mainstay show some backbone.
As White House lawyers begin researching impeachment procedures, former senator and Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Friday night the GOP is nowhere near supporting such a move, but warned President Donald Trump that "this can't continue for a whole lot longer."
Santorum voted to convict former President Bill Clinton of perjury and obstruction of justice during his impeachment trial in 1999. (Reminder- he was acquitted in the end.) Santorum believes that as of May 19, Republicans would currently oppose impeachment. But then he showed some surprising independence and backbone and cautioned that things could change dramatically if damaging revelations continue to plague the Trump administration.
"Unlike Democrats, who will never break with a president, no matter what they do -- I mean I don't care, they can find him with a smoking gun and a picture, they wouldn't break with him -- Republicans will," he warned. "So I would say this to President Trump: This can't continue for a whole lot longer."

Monday, May 15, 2017

TrumpCare Dissected & Explained in Plain English




To understand TrumpCare we have to first go back and redefine the insurance industry. It used to be that insurance was essentially a large scale, calculated group gamble. A group of 10 people each put in $100/month, with the expectation that of those ten people, 8 of them would probably only use about $100/month, give or take a few dollars. One person wouldn’t use their insurance at all, but would purchase it just to be safe. And the final person would likely need to use far more than $100, but the unused portion from the other nine people would cover the difference.

But then healthcare got more expensive and the pooled amount from the ten people didn’t cover everything. So the insurance providers raised the rates to $200. And then for the people that needed more than the $200/mo, they asked for more money. And lowered the rates for the group of people who barely used it.

To the business mind this makes sense. The person who uses more of the resources should have to pay more. But in reality what this really did was actually take money out of the system when they lowered the rates for the lower users.

And so they raised the rates on everyone. Again.

So people complained. And rightfully so. They were paying a lot more and receiving the same amount of care. And more and more people couldn’t afford insurance.

And then came ObamaCare, and the idea that access to healthcare was a right.

ObamaCare created more access to insurance by creating mandates, and tax credits. Mandates is just a fancy word for penalty. Fail to get insurance, pay a mandate.

Tax credits were not as easy to understand. To put it in simplest terms, pretend you receive a tax refund each year of $1,000. ObamaCare took that $1,000 and put it towards your insurance premiums for you, in theory, lowering your monthly insurance expenses. It also did away with all pre-existing conditions. You no longer paid more if you used more. Basically it used your own money to subsidize your insurance premiums.

It also greatly expanded Medicaid.

The problem was it varied from state to state, and didn’t always work the way it was planned. It raised taxes, and users no longer received tax refunds. And in many cases, at the end of the year, owed more money to the government to cover their tax credits.

Opponents of ObamaCare didn’t like the mandate or the higher taxes, or the poor administration and application of the program, which unarguably, was full of faults.

Which brings us to TrumpCare.

TrumpCare does away with the general pool and calculated gamble idea of insurance. And instead takes the “business is in business to make a profit” approach. The majority will pay a calculated, evened out sum. Some will pay less, and get less. And the higher risk, higher use pool will pay more.

And Medicaid is scaled back dramatically.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Failures of Mormon Conservatism

Not too long ago I sat in a ward council meeting where the members discussed how we could better serve the refugees in our community. At the time I was very involved with the poor of our community and local non profits. I was aware of how very few refugees we had in town, and how many deserving poor there were as well. I tried to point out that we had few refugees in our town (and what few we had were not in dire straights), and that due in large part because some of the people in that very room had very loudly actively campaigned against allowing refugees in. I tried to call them out on their hypocrisy, (Serve and love them! Just not in my backyard!)

But I got shot down.

This article from the Deseret News explains my feelings on conservative Mormons who listen to politicians more than religious leaders.