The Senate Stands Up To The Bully …

“We swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution, including the First Amendment. Today, every senator upheld that oath by sending a message that we support the First Amendment, and we support the freedom of the press in the face of these attacks.” – Senator Brian Schatz, 16 August 2018

We should not need a Senate resolution to declare that the free press is not “the enemy of the people”.  It is rather akin to needing a Senate resolution to declare that parents should not beat their children to death, or men should not sexually abuse women.  It is already the damn law!  The U.S. Constitution protects the free press, so why do we need a Senate resolution to acknowledge the law?  Why?  Because we have a buffoon instead of a president who has, for 71 years, gotten what he wants by bullying, and he thinks he can still do that in the White House.

press-enemy-NixonSo, while we should not need the Senate to confirm that the press is not the enemy of the people, it is comforting to know that the Senate unanimously voted to confirm, for the sake of the madman in the Oval Office and his blind-faith followers who hang on his every word.

“Resolved, that the Senate affirms that the press is not the enemy of the people; reaffirms the vital and indispensable role that the free press serves to inform the electorate, uncover the truth, act as a check on the inherent power of the government, further national discourse and debate, and otherwise advance the most basic and cherished democratic norms and freedoms of the United States; and condemns the attacks on the institution of the free press and views efforts to systematically undermine the credibility of the press as an attack on the democratic institutions of the United States; and it is the sense of the Senate that it is the sworn responsibility of all who serve the United States by taking the oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States to uphold, cherish, and protect the entire Constitution, including the freedom of the press.”

The resolution mentions a number of former leaders who have spoken on behalf of freedom of the press:

  • Benjamin Franklin in 1722 wrote, ‘‘Whoever would overthrow the Liberty of a Nation, must begin by subduing the Freeness of Speech.’’;

  • Thomas Jefferson in 1786 wrote, ‘‘Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.’’;


  • James Madison in 1789 introduced the freedom of the press in the Bill of Rights to the Constitution of the United States;


  • James Madison based the freedom of the press on the Declaration of Rights of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which in 1776 declared, ‘‘The freedom of the Press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic Governments.’’;


  • President Ronald Reagan proclaimed August 4, 1985, as Freedom of the Press Day, stating that ‘‘Freedom of the press is one of our most important freedoms and also one of our oldest.’’;


  • President Reagan also said, ‘‘Today, our tradition of a free press as a vital part of our democracy is as important as ever. The news media are now using modern techniques to bring our citizens information not only on a daily basis but instantaneously as important events occur. This flow of information helps make possible an informed electorate and so contributes to our national system of self-government.’’;


  • Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in International Soc. for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Lee, 505 U.S. 672 (1992), ‘‘The First Amendment is often inconvenient. But that is beside the point. Inconvenience does not absolve the government of its obligation to tolerate speech.’’;


  • The United States Supreme Court also affirmed the history and intent of the freedom of the press in New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971), stating, ‘‘In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.’’;


  • Tyrannical and authoritarian governments and leaders throughout history have sought to undermine, censor, suppress, and control the press to advance their undemocratic goals and actions; and


  • The United States, including the long-held commitment to and constitutional protection of the free press in the United States, has stood as a shining example of democracy, self-government, and freedom for the world to emulate.

That this resolution was passed unanimously without a single dissenting vote even among the boot-lickers on the right side of the aisle, speaks volumes.  It tells us that even Mitch McConnell and all the rest are disturbed by Trump’s denigration of the press, and that they understand that the press is the only thing standing between a ‘president’ and a dictator.  However, it should be noted that this is only a non-binding resolution, meaning it does basically nothing more than send a message to Trump & Co saying that the Senate supports the free press and does not agree with Trump calling them the enemy of the people.  The law already exists in the form of the Constitution … we just need Congress to enforce that law upon the president.

“Liberal” Is NOT A Dirty Word!

An article yesterday morning in The Washington Post unveils the republican’s latest strategy for winning in the November mid-terms:  using the word ‘liberal’ as if it were a four-letter adjective.  It isn’t.liberal-1According to Merriam-Webster, a liberal is “A person who believes that government should be active in supporting social and political change”.

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, a liberal is one who is:

  • Willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own
  • Open to new ideas
  • Favourable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms
  • Favouring individual liberty, free trade, and moderate political and social reform
  • Concerned with broadening a person’s general knowledge and experience, rather than with technical or professional training

I see nothing in any of these definitions that makes being a liberal a bad thing, and yet I hear the word spat out by republicans, almost as if by being a supporter of a liberal ideology, we are something vulgar, something akin to the unidentified substance on the bottom of your shoe.

For decades, people on the left or center of the political spectrum have been referred to as “bleeding heart liberals”.  So, what exactly, does that mean?  By one definition, it is “Someone who is particularly compassionate and concerned about people who face disadvantages, whether temporary or institutionalized.” But to those who would use the term as an insult, it implies that caring about anyone other than yourself and your immediate family is somehow “bad,” and caring for those less fortunate than you is somehow “stupid.”

By any realistic definition, I have no problem with being called a liberal.  I would, of course, prefer that the word not be spat at me such that I need to clean my glasses after being called such, but still, I do not consider it an insult.  And I have no problem being called a ‘snowflake’, for as I tell those who call me that, it is a compliment– snowflakes are beautiful and unique. The one that really offends me is being called a “libtard”, for it indicates something that nobody with a brain should use. Perhaps we should simply remember that it is a reflection of those who use the term and their intellectual capacity, or lack thereof.

Back in the day, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s liberal ideas earned him the titles “Moosejaw” and “momma’s boy”, by journalist Westbrook Pegler, who coincidentally also coined the term “bleeding heart liberal”. The term came into its own during the 1950s when Joe McCarthy, called Edward R. Murrow one of the “extreme Left Wing bleeding-heart elements of television and radio.”

On the other side of the aisle are the conservatives who see the world as a challenging place in which there is always someone else who is ready to steal your lunch. Confronted by a potentially hostile environment, the best course is to take precautions and to ensure your own well-being and that of your family.  Most sane people, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, would agree that the first priority in our life is taking care of our family.  It is why we go to work every day and come home every night.  But taking care of our families and helping others need not be mutually exclusive.

The difference, I think, comes in the definition of what ‘taking care of our family’ means.  For most of us, it means having a job so that we can meet the needs of a place to live, food on the table, bills paid, a car to get around in, health care, and the ability to put aside a bit for a rainy day.  That is enough for me.  My needs are met … there is no need for a bigger house, a fancier car, or steak on the table every night.  If that makes me the object of scorn by conservative republicans, so be it.  I am far more content than they, for I am not always wanting more.

The divisiveness in this nation today is both toxic and dangerous.  We have a so-called president who is inciting violence against the free press by calling them the ‘enemy of the people’, and we have the opportunists like Alex Jones who intentionally rile the masses and drive a wedge between right and left.  And now, in desperation, for the GOP must surely realize that people are getting fed up with their antics, the republican candidates’ modus operandi will be to denigrate democrats by calling them liberals in a tone that indicates nothing good.

Being a liberal is not a bad thing – it simply means we care more about people than we care about wealth.  It means we are willing to settle for a bit less if it means somebody can feed their children tonight.  If that is scorned and mocked by certain politicians and their followers, then in my book, it says something about them, not us.  Liberal is not a bad word … it is a perfectly legitimate ideology and it is past time that people wake up to the reality that we are all, like it or not, on this planet together and will survive a lot longer if we learn to get along.

Sunday’s Snarky Snippets …

Just because it’s Sunday doesn’t mean my snarky side takes a break.  Au contraire … I think it actually kicks into overdrive on the weekends.  Last night, as I was trolling about the news looking for things of interest, I came across a number of annoying little tidbits, and so this afternoon, I thought I would share them with you, so that you can be annoyed too!  Isn’t that nice of me?


About time!

headline-2We’re all pretty sick and tired of hearing Trump refer to the press as “the enemy of the people”, especially when the press is the best friend we have right now.  (Actually, we’re all pretty sick of Trump, period) So far, this has been a one-sided fight, with Trump ranting mindlessly and the press biting its collective tongue for the most part.  But now that they have begun receiving harassing phone calls, threatening emails and death threats … they finally got fed up, and they’re ready to fight back!

“The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!” – 7:38 AM – Aug 5, 2018

In response, The Boston Globe has a proposal: The Globe has reached out to editorial boards nationwide to write and publish editorials on August 16th denouncing what the newspaper called a ‘‘dirty war against the free press.’’ As of Friday, about 70 outlets had committed to editorials so far, with the list expected to grow. The publications ranged from large metropolitan dailies, such as the Houston Chronicle, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Miami Herald and Denver Post, to small weekly papers with circulations as low as 4,000.

Some media outlets are exercising caution, however. As The Washington Post editor Martin Baron said, “The way I view it is, we’re not at war with the administration, we’re at work. We’re doing our jobs.”  But others, such as journalism professor Jay Rosen, see it differently:

“The problem, of course, is that there is war on the press being conducted by the president of the United States and his supporters. To say otherwise would violate a different commandment. Yes, it’s imperative to keep your cool. It is equally imperative to state what is true.”

The goal is not to start an all-out mudfest, but rather to educate readers to realize that an attack on the First Amendment is unacceptable.  I applaud their effort.


She’ll fit right in …

melissa howardMelissa Howard is a 46-year-old small-business owner from Lakewood Ranch, Florida, who is running in the Republican primary for the Florida House of Representatives’ 73rd District, near Sarasota. Ms. Howard’s political career in today’s climate is sure to take off like a rocket, for she has most of the criteria:  dishonesty, cheating, lack of values, etc.  Ms. Howard may have actually taken lessons from Donald Trump in lying.

Howard claims to have earned a degree in Marketing from Miami University in Ohio in 1996.  Only a few problems with that claim.  Miami University does not offer a degree in Marketing, and Ms. Howard attended Miami U from 1990 through 1994, without ever earning any degree – she failed to graduate!  Wow! She may actually be Trump’s illegitimate daughter, eh?

Her campaign accuses her opponent, Sarasota attorney Tommy Gregory, of making up the story, but Miami University general counsel Robin Parker verified the facts that prove Howard lied.  Case closed.


The face of the GOP???Todd KincannonTodd Kincannon was once a lawyer and was once the Executive Director of the South Carolina GOP. (It’s difficult to discern whether they are just nasty, or certifiably insane) He has never seemed, to those with a bit of sense, to be quite sane, but such is the face of the GOP today anyway.  A few examples:

  • During the 2013 Super Bowl, he sent out a flurry of racially-charged tweets about the then-recently murdered Trayvon Martin, Hurricane Katrina and black people. I will not quote them, for the language he used was filthy and not fit for repeating.  In an interview later that year, he said he liked to make those tweets to rile people and watch their outrage for fun.

  • In 2015, Kincannon was arrested on a domestic violence charge after his wife told officers that she was in fear for her life. The two had a fight after attending an event, and Kincannon screamed at her while he was driving, leading her to lower her window and yell at passing drivers for help.


  • In August 2015, the South Carolina Supreme Court suspended Kincannon’s license to practice law and transferred his client files to another attorney in order to “protect the interests of [his] clients”.

But the latest episode is … beyond anything I could have imagined.  On July 26th, he killed his mother’s dog, stabbing the 10-year-old beagle and cattle dog mix multiple times on the kitchen floor of his mother’s home.  Why?  According to what he told police when they showed up in response to a call from his father …

“I’m Jesus, I’m not making it up. I have a sign. I’m about to get crucified in the media. The reason I killed the dog is this, it’s real simple … I’m sorry, I think y’all are going to have to take me to the Psych Institution, I get that. But I’ll tell you from a legal standpoint you know, it’s in the State Constitution that God is sovereign and I honestly think he told me to do it.”

Words fail me.


The face of the GOP – once again!

Diana OrrockDiana Orrock is a national committeewoman for the Nevada GOP.  On July 17th, Caitlin Johnstone of the online publishing platform Medium, penned an article titled “Please Just F***ing Die Already” in which she wrote …

“A study by the Journal of Patient Safety says that somewhere between 210,000 and 440,000 patients die every year as a result of medical errors. If there was a God, murderous warmongering neocon John McCain would have been one of them.”

Diana Orrock apparently thought the article was so wonderful that she tweeted it to all her Twitter followers.  She qualified her decision in an interview with CNN, saying that she wasn’t wishing death upon McCain, merely agreeing with the sentiments of the article. She later tweeted an apology of sorts, calling her initial tweet ‘disrespectful’.  I’m sure she was ‘encouraged’ to issue the apology by wiser heads within the GOP.

It seems to me that the GOP’s new platform is foul language, disrespect, racism, dishonesty, and a lack of integrity all around.  Remember when “GOP” stood for Grand Old Party?  Now it stands for Galling Obnoxious Psychotics.  Is it any wonder, then, that many are leaving the Republican Party?


Bad Hair anyone?

I have to ask … is really bad hair a requirement for a populist politician, or is it a trait of the intellectually challenged?

Left to right:  UK’s Boris Johnson, US’ Donald Trump, Nobody’s Steve Bannon


And on that note, I conclude today’s Snarky Snippets, for I have a bad taste in my mouth and think I’ll go brush my teeth now.  Have a great rest-of-your-Sunday, folks!Sunday

What Is This QAnon Group All about?

For a week or so, I have been seeing snippets about a new conspiracy theory and its followers, called QAnon, or simply ‘Q’ for short. I dismissed the group out of hand, for I see it as some ridiculous thing created by ignorant people who have nothing better to do with their meaningless little lives. I still see it that way, but can no longer simply ignore it, for like other conspiracy theories that have come before, there is a very real danger that it will lead to violence. Our friend Gronda has provided some excellent information about what Q is, so please take a few minutes to read her post. One phrase, in particular, caught my eye: “… have come to believe that observable reality is false and the QAnon narrative is real.” Sounds rather like Trump when he told his followers not to believe what they are seeing and hearing, but only to believe what he tells them is real. Up is down and hot is cold. The games people play. Thank you, Gronda, for helping us to understand a bit about this bunch of nuts!

Gronda Morin

Image result for PHOTOS OF QANON FLORIDA TRUMP RALLY

On August 1, 2018, Justin Bank, Liam Stack and Daniel Victor of the New York Times penned the following report, “What Is QAnon: Explaining the Internet Conspiracy Theory That Showed Up at a Trump Rally” (“Do you remember Pizzagate? It’s a little like that: a web of baseless conspiracy theories. And its supporters were highly visible at an event for the president in Florida.”)

“Those watching President Trump’s rally in Tampa on Tuesday couldn’t help but be exposed to a fringe movement that discusses several loosely connected and vaguely defined — and baseless — conspiracy theories.”

Image result for PHOTOS OF QANON

“In one shot on Fox News, the president was partially obscured by a sign in the crowd reading “We Are Q.” In another shot during the president’s speech, a sign promoting the debunked Seth Rich conspiracy theory, with the hashtag #Qanon, came into focus in the center of…

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Who ARE These People???

Trump supporters are such a class act; don’t you think?  Just look …trump-supporters-rally.jpgtrump-supporters-rally-2.jpgTrump supporters-rally-3Aren’t they a lovely bunch?  Such class.  The above pictures were taken at a rally in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday night.  CNN Reporter Jim Acosta was trying to report, but couldn’t be heard over the jeers and chants of the crowd screaming “CNN Sucks”.  Such professional, dignified people, don’t you think?

The Trump klan (spelling intentional) was so proud of these followers that Eric Trump tweeted this video with the description, “WATCH: Supporters of President Trump Chant ‘CNN Sucks’ During Jim Acosta’s Live Spot at Florida Rally.”

And then Papa Trump re-tweeted it.  Boy, they sure are proud of their followers, aren’t they?

But you know what, folks?  There isn’t a damn thing to be proud of here.  This feeding frenzy is going to lead to violence against journalists, and the blame for it falls squarely on the shoulders of the ‘man’ who should be setting a positive example for this nation, the man who is supposed to be bringing people together, not stirring them to harm their fellow countrymen.

Jim Acosta, in a later interview on CNN said that “It didn’t feel like we were in America anymore”.  I completely concur.  When I watched that video, I cried.  This is not who we are supposed to be.  The people who attended that rally are not, in my book, human beings with values or consciences.  I don’t know what they are, but they are not people I would even want to be near, not people who belong in the same society in which the rest of us live.

Acosta said he tried to talk to a few of them, ask them why they are so down on the press.  The answers he got were along the lines of “why don’t you ever say anything positive about Trump?”  Acosta was nicer than I would have been, for he took the time to point out that they do report on the low unemployment numbers and reported on the increase in GDP last month.  Personally, I would have said, “If he ever does something positive, I’ll report on it.”

I do understand that these people are only a small sampling of republicans, and I try to remind myself not to judge all republicans by the example set by these few, but frankly it gets harder by the day.  When I hear that some 80% of republicans still support the ‘man’ who is nearly inciting the ‘crowds’ to violence, I have to question the intelligence of that 80%.  If republicans do not wish to be viewed in this light, it is time for them to stand up and loudly disavow this sort of behaviour.

What Trump is doing, having discovered that he doesn’t have the power to simply shut down the reporters he doesn’t like, is attempting to delegitimize them.  Calling them ‘fake news’, refusing to answer their questions, and encouraging his supporters to heckle and harass are all means of attacking the press and their credibility.  As we can see from the video, this has potentially ominous consequences and I think it is only a matter of time before a journalist is injured … or worse.

Think back, folks … can you remember any president ever treating the press in such a juvenile, mob-mentality manner?  I cannot.  Every president has had problems from time to time with the way in which the press reported on them and their actions, but every other president in history has handled those problems in a mature and respectful manner.  We do not have an adult in the White House … we have the schoolyard bully whose solution to every problem involves foul language, raised voices, raised fists, and threats.  And yet … some 40% of the adults in this nation see nothing wrong with it.

Last night I rather stumbled into a discussion on Facebook and somebody asked the question:  What happens if we don’t take back Congress in November?  My answer was that we have three choices:  We either accept living under a dictatorship, we start a revolution and overthrow the evil regime, or we move to Canada.  Think about it, for truly, if we lose our free press, those will be our only choices.

Trump vs New York Times — AGAIN!

SulzbergerOn July 20th, A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times, went to the White House by invitation from Donald Trump.  Mr. Sulzberger was accompanied by James Bennet, who oversees the editorial page of The Times. Trump’s aides requested that the meeting be off the record, which has been the practice for such meetings in the past, and to which Mr. Sulzberger agreed.

However, yesterday morning, Trump, in his usual manner, was unable to control his thumbs and tweeted …

“Had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times. Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People.’ Sad!”

It should be noted that Trump himself coined the phrase “enemy of the people”.

Mr. Sulzberger saw that tweet as an invitation to put his prior meeting with Trump on record, and as such, he published a terse summary of the meeting in the New York Times.

Statement of A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher, The New York Times:

My main purpose for accepting the meeting was to raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.

I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.

I told him that although the phrase “fake news” is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists “the enemy of the people.” I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.

I repeatedly stressed that this is particularly true abroad, where the president’s rhetoric is being used by some regimes to justify sweeping crackdowns on journalists. I warned that it was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press.

Throughout the conversation I emphasized that if President Trump, like previous presidents, was upset with coverage of his administration he was of course free to tell the world. I made clear repeatedly that I was not asking for him to soften his attacks on The Times if he felt our coverage was unfair. Instead, I implored him to reconsider his broader attacks on journalism, which I believe are dangerous and harmful to our country. 

Not to be outdone, Trump put on his paint and returned to his warpath:

“When the media – driven insane by their Trump Derangement Syndrome – reveals internal deliberations of our government, it  truly puts the lives of many, not just journalists, at risk! Very unpatriotic! Freedom of the press also comes with a responsibility to report the news accurately. 90% of media coverage of my Administration is negative, despite the tremendously positive results we are achieving, it’s no surprise that confidence in the media is at an all time low! I will not allow our great country to be sold out by anti-Trump haters in the dying newspaper industry. No matter how much they try to distract and cover it up, our country is making great progress under my leadership and I will never stop fighting for the American people! As an example, the failing New York Times and the Amazon Washington Post do nothing but write bad stories even on very positive achievements – and they will never change!” (Compilation of a series of four tweets)

Note that Trump equates negative news about himself with ‘fake’ news.

Such maturity has surely never before been seen in the Oval Office before.  🙄free press-1During the meeting, Mr. Sulzberger recalled telling Trump that newspapers and other media outlets had begun posting armed guards outside their offices because of a rise in threats against journalists. Trump, he said, expressed surprise that they did not already have armed guards.  At another point, Trump bragged about using the phrase “fake news,” and said other countries had begun banning such “fake news”. Mr. Sulzberger explained to him that those countries were dictatorships and that they were not banning “fake news” but rather stifling independent scrutiny of their actions.  Why does the man who sits in the Oval Office need to have this explained to him?  WHY???free press-5.jpgTherein lies the potential problem.  Trump praises dictatorships for actually banning reporting that may not be favourable to the government, something Trump would very much like to be able to do, but he is stopped by that pesky 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Do not, folks, for one minute think that Trump has stopped trying to find a way to do just that.

When Trump couldn’t garner the votes to repeal Obamacare, he began chipping away at it by executive orders and withholding payments to insurance companies.  Similarly, he realizes that he cannot simply revoke the 1st amendment, so he is chipping away at the freedom of the press by denigrating reporters, revoking press passes, refusing to answer questions from certain media outlets, barring reporters from events, and insisting that all televisions in his venue air only Fox News.

free press-2Every morning when I first boot up my computer, I wonder if I will receive an error message when I try to log onto BBC, The Guardian or the New York Times.  So far it hasn’t happened, but frankly I will not be surprised if it does someday.  The best weapon we have to prevent it is our vote in November and our support of the legitimate media – you know, the ones Trump calls ‘fake’.

Russian Infiltration Of Word Press Blogs

Blogger-friend Xena has written a post that is so important I had to share it with you. You may remember the one I re-blogged earlier today from Gronda regarding Russian trolls and bots. This post details some of the ways in which Russia has infiltrated WordPress blogs, and it is truly eye-opening, so please take a few minutes to read. Thank you so much, Xena for all the work you have put into this excellent post, and for your permission to re-blog!

We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident

In spite of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell warning Russia to “quit messing around in our elections,” Russians have not stopped.  They continue their influence and propaganda.  With social media such as Facebook and Twitter taking note and making changes, Russian propagandists have turned to Word Press blogs.

Earlier this year, I received notifications from Word Press for email followers.  I didn’t pay much attention to the first one because there are people who follow this blog via email who do not have Word Press accounts to comment.   When I received two more notifications on the same day, and they too had Outlook email addresses, I knew that was not usual.  I checked a Word Press forum and found that others were experiencing the same and were concerned about it.

A thread in one Word Press forum began in January 2018.   Also in January, a blogger named Ray wrote…

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From ‘Alternative Facts’ to Rewriting History in Trump’s White House

Just two days ago, I wrote a post about ‘alternative facts’, aka lies.  I didn’t plan to revisit the topic this soon, but I came across an excellent editorial written by Jon Sopel, the North American editor for BBC, that confirms my take on the subject and provides some additional food for thought.  I share with you his words …

jonsopelIt is time we sit and talk about truth and transparency.

Every now and then a few disparate things collide, and suddenly you see a pattern. And I don’t want this blog to come across as faux naïve. I’ve covered politics for long enough to know that politicians will try to shape and mould truth to best suit their purposes, to allow them to weaponise the facts that will give them greatest advantage.

And I know that politicians love transparency when it best suits them. But in the past two weeks, a line has been crossed.

Let me start with something seemingly minor. I was listening to the president and Theresa May at their news conference in the Chequers garden when Donald Trump, talking about Brexit, suddenly made the statement that he had predicted the result when he was at his golf course in Turnberry for the opening of his wonderful golf course the day before the EU referendum in June 2016.

I sat up with a jolt. I had been there with him on that trip.

We didn’t arrive until the day after the referendum. He wasn’t there on June 22nd. He was there on June 24th. I pointed this out on Twitter, saying it was a bit bizarre.

Now I can see as a bit of storytelling it works better to claim to have been the visionary who saw what was coming; I can also see that when you’re 72-years-old you might misremember dates and times. Who doesn’t do that occasionally? – although maybe not on something as fundamental as that.

Anyway back to my tweet saying the president was factually incorrect. Straight back shot Stephanie Grisham, who is the first lady’s director of communications, but more importantly at the time was Donald Trump’s press person for the trip to Turnberry.

She told me on Twitter the president was right to say what he had said – and she had the photos to prove it.tweet-1So we produced the tweet from the president on the 24th saying “Just arrived in Scotland…” and from her saying that she had just arrived in Scotland.

Someone else found the flight manifest, confirming that the Trump private jet had arrived on the 24th. I fully agree a storm in a teacup. This is not the sort of thing on which world peace hinges.

But I struggle to fathom Steph’s motives. Why did she go wading in to defend a lie? And why when the proof was provided that she was incorrect did she not just say “fair enough – my mistake”.tweet-2.pngPsychology has a rather good word for this – “gaslighting”.

This is the Wikipedia definition of it: Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilise the victim and delegitimise the victim’s belief.

From Chequers we now go to Helsinki, and another extraordinary news conference this time with Vladimir Putin. The whole thing was slightly surreal, made more so by the guy sitting next to me being yanked out by the Secret Service after it became clear to them he was planning some kind of protest during the news conference.

During the course of the Q and A, Jeff Mason from Reuters was called to ask a question. He wanted to know whether Putin had wanted Donald Trump to win the 2016 presidential election and had directed any of his officials to help him do that?

Vladimir Putin didn’t hesitate: “Yes, I wanted him to win because he talked about bringing the US-Russia relationship back to normal.”

It was quite a moment. But then I saw a tweet that Donald Trump put out yesterday to protest about how tough he was with Russia, which read:

“I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!”

So I referred back to what Putin had said in Helsinki a week earlier. But here’s where it gets super murky. All reference to that exchange between Mr Mason and the Russian leader has been omitted from the official White House transcript. In the official record it doesn’t exist.

Just a clerical transcription error? Well maybe – there is some confusion over the translation, but maybe it would be good to correct the record.

Now for another random event which happened yesterday. The White House has said that it will no longer provide information about when the president holds conversations with foreign leaders, as it has always done hitherto.

The accounts of the chats may have been anodyne and terse, but they were a useful tool to keep track of foreign policy priorities. And it was always useful to compare and contrast what, say, the Kremlin would have to say about the conversation compared to the White House. Now we will no longer be able to do that.

And so to the final thing. Donald Trump was speaking at a rally in Kansas City. And he came out with a memorable phrase that sounded as though it had been lifted straight from George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984. He said: “Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening.”

Or it is. There is just a concerted – and sometimes it would seem – systematic effort to make you think otherwise.

Forget alternative facts. This is rewriting history.

If anything … anything at all … that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth is true, then I am the Queen of England.  ‘Nuff said.

Things You May Have Missed …

Okay, so you surely did not miss the fact that Trump blew up after finding Melania watching CNN while en route to Brussels two weeks ago.  And you surely did not miss the report that the House Freedom Caucus has begun impeachment proceedings against Rod Rosenstein, while Trump continues to call the Mueller investigation a ‘witch hunt’.  You don’t need me to keep you informed of those things.  But in amidst all the muck, there are a few things you might not have noticed, so here is a brief roundup of three I caught last night.


Another blow to freedom of the press …

kaitlan-collinsKaitlan Collins is a reporter for CNN.  Yesterday morning, Ms. Collins attended an “Oval Office press event”, and planned to attend the subsequent photo op ceremony in the Rose Garden with the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.  She never made it to the second event.  Why?  Because she asked questions that Donald Trump, Communication Director Bill Shine, and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t like.  They were not inappropriate questions.  They were questions about the same things that are on everyone’s mind:  Vladimir Putin’s postponed visit and the Michael Cohen tapes.  Fair game.  But in the Trump administration, there is no sense of fair play.

It is telling that even CNN’s traditional rival and Trump’s favoured network, Fox News, came to Collins’ defense:

“We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press.” – Jay Wallace, President of Fox News

And from the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) …

“We strongly condemn the White House’s misguided and inappropriate decision today to bar one of our members from an open press event after she asked questions they did not like. This type of retaliation is wholly inappropriate, wrong-headed, and weak. It cannot stand. Reporters asking questions of powerful government officials, up to and including the president, helps hold those people accountable. In our republic, the WHCA supports the prerogative of all reporters to do their jobs without fear of reprisal from the government.” – Olivier Knox, President of the WHCA

This is nothing less than a significant blow against a free press and one that we simply cannot tolerate.  Shutting out the press is only the first step.


Whose idea was it?

Trump’s former paramour, Stormy Daniels, was arrested in Columbus, Ohio on July 12th.  This is the woman, you may remember, to whom Trump via his then-attorney Michael Cohen, paid $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election to buy her silence about their affair.  When I read of her arrest, red flags went up and my nose twitched, but I soon forgot about it in light of other news, for Trump had just left behind his trail of detritus at NATO and was now in the UK, prepared to leave more droppings.  But yesterday, the story found its way back onto my radar …

stormy daniels

Stormy Daniels

Police said that Daniels violated an Ohio law by “touching” patrons of the strip club where she was performing.  Hmmm … sound fishy?  Well it is.  Turns out that those ‘patrons’ were actually undercover Vice cops.  The charges against Ms. Daniels were dropped 12 hours later, and Police Chief Kim Jacobs apologized and called it a “mistake.”

A whistleblower from the City of Columbus contacted the Fayette Advocate with numerous emails between several high-ranking Columbus police detectives and VICE officers. Inside the emails are news clippings discussing Daniels’ planned appearance in Columbus, pictures of Daniels with President Donald Trump, videos of her dancing, and even a map to the club where she would be performing, all sent days before her scheduled performance.

The bulk of the emails that the whistleblower provided are from the email account of Detective Shana Keckley. Keckley was one of the lead-arresting officers the night that the “sting” operation went down.

Shana Keckley

Shana Keckley

In an email dated Tuesday, July 10 — two days before Daniels arrived in Columbus — Keckley emails herself a video of Daniels in West Hollywood. Not long after, the VICE detective emails herself a link to an NBC 4 Columbus story promoting Daniels’ planned appearance.   In another email, several hours after Ms. Daniels’ arrest, Keckley writes to another police officer bragging about Daniel’s arrest, saying, “You’re Welcome!!!!!….Thank me in person later.”

Is this just the work of a bunch of local yokels, or did the orders come from ‘higher up’?  Draw your own conclusions.


Today is the deadline …

Today is the court-imposed deadline for the federal government to have re-united the immigrant children who were separated from their parents and held in detention centers around the nation.  Now tell me honestly, do you think they are even close to 100% on this one?  Nah, me neither.immigrant child-2According to the most recent government figures, the administration is on track to reunite most if not all “eligible” parents with their children by the court-mandated deadline. On Tuesday evening, the administration said it has reunited 1,012 parents with their kids between the ages of 5 and 17.  There was a time, say a year-and-a-half ago, that I might have taken this information at face value, but not today.  There is no way for you or I to either prove or disprove the numbers, and frankly, I don’t believe them.  But even if I did believe them, I have concerns about the government determining who is an “eligible” parent.  The parents were with their children when they came here.  They were ‘eligible’ parents on the day HHS took their children from them.  I don’t think it is our place to deem a parent ineligible to get their children back unless it can be proven that the child would be in danger.

One parent was declared ineligible for having received a DUI.  Sorry, I don’t see how that disqualifies him from being reunited with his child.  Perhaps having his child taken from him led to his drinking.  Two others are grandparents instead of parents and thus their grandchildren, who were with them as they crossed the border, are still being withheld from them.  And, of course, there are nearly 500 parents in total that have been deported and HHS claims they are unable to reunite the children.

I will have more about this later, for I want to know just what the plans for the rest of these children are – will HHS continue trying to reunite them, or are they planning to place them in private foster homes, or are they planning to keep them in detention centers indefinitely?  Below is a summary of the results as of yesterday morning.  Please note that there are still 1,584 children who have not yet been reunited with their parents.Separated-Children-7-25-1Let’s keep our eye on this ball, folks, for I’m fairly certain Trump & Co would like nothing better than for it to fade from the news and from our minds & hearts.


It is easy to lose sight of some things with the constant barrage of news facing us each day.  Some things, though, are just too important to lose sight of.

TREASON!

I just love starting Monday in a haze of white-hot fury.  The Washington Post headline reads:

Putin Again Denies Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election; Trump Calls Probe a ‘Disaster for Our Country’

It comes as no surprise that Putin denies interference … nobody with half a brain thought he would admit it, but no matter, for there is more than ample hard fact-based evidence that he did.  But for Trump to call the investigation a “disaster for our country”???  NO … NO NO NO NO NO!  The investigation is essential and the only thing that gives us hope we might get rid of the real disaster: Trump himself!  I am in a white hot fury over his asininity!

Putin:  … Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere in internal American affairs.

Trump:  There was no collusion. I didn’t know the president. There was nobody to collude with. There was no collusion with the campaign.bullshitNow what, exactly, do these two donkeys expect us to do at this point?  Do they expect that we will all say, “Oh, well, that solves it then.  Let’s stop the Mueller investigation and all other investigations and let Trump get on with his plan for mass destruction of the U.S.”

Somebody needs to take that ugly red tie and wrap it around his neck a few more times and pull tightly!

Trump:  Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed, as of about four hours ago.

Why, Donnie?  What changed?  Did you offer him the keys to the Capitol and the White House?  Did you promise to change the name of the country to the United States of Russia?  And what did he offer you?  A lifetime sitting in the Oval Office with no need for another election ever? 

Frankly, if this isn’t a wake-up call to both Congress and Trump’s supporters, then we know that they have all been lobotomized.

Trump:  I think the probe has been a disaster for our country. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe.

Well-respected former Director of the CIA, John Brennan, had this to say:

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

I repeat that question:  Where are you???  Some republicans in Congress absolutely must wake up and step up to the plate, for now there can be no doubt … not a shred of doubt … that Donald Trump is Putin’s asset.  There can be no doubt that deals have been made for our country to blindly support Russia’s agenda, whatever that agenda may be.  I can only wonder, with Trump’s past Russian connections, how many years this plan has been in the making?

Trump:  Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people and all the Dems know how to do is resist and obstruct! This is why there is such hatred and dissension in our country — but at some point, it will heal!

The “hatred and dissension” in our country did not begin with Trump, but he has escalated it by a thousand percent, and continues to do so every time his fingers hit the keys on his twittering machine.  Donald Trump cannot heal the rift … the gulf … in this country, for he is the cause of it.  And no, folks, the media is NOT the enemy of the people … Donald Trump is the enemy of the people!  His state-media, Fox News is the enemy of the people, for they spread his lies and further widen the great divide.

I make no apologies, as I normally would, for this rant, for it is time We The People – all the people, including those who have been wearing blinders and earplugs for nearly 18 months now – wake up and see what is right under our very noses!  Donald Trump has no love for this country nor for its people.  He loves two things:  money and power.  And Vladimir Putin is promising him both.  Russia is not our friend and the free press is not our enemy.  There can no longer be any illusion that Trump can be reined in and eventually become the president of the people.  His goals are not ours.  The only solution, if we wish to continue as a relatively free nation, is to get Donald Trump out of the White House as quickly as possible.