What Happens If …

There are a number of opinion writers I greatly respect, and Charles M. Blow is in the top ten.  Mr. Blow writes for the New York Times and his work is most always level-headed and thoughtful.  Amid the many calls for impeachment to remove Trump from office, cooler heads must sometimes prevail.  In Blow’s column from December 2nd he explains why removing Trump from office is not a likely scenario, but would be the beginning of a new nightmare.

What Happens If …

The possibilities ahead in the Russia investigation suggest we are not reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather entering one.

Charles BlowBy Charles M. Blow

I no longer think that anyone in America, including Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, can afford to put off the consideration of the central question of this administration: What if Donald Trump or those closest to him were compromised by the Russians or colluded with them?

There have always been those of us on the left who viewed his presidency as compromised, asterisk-worthy if not wholly illegitimate, because of the Russian interference.

A crime had been committed by Russia and Trump cheered the crime and used the loot thereof to advance his candidacy. That is clear.

The Russians made repeated attempts to contact people in Trump’s orbit and in some cases were able to meet with members of the team, as evidenced by the Trump Tower meeting. That is clear.

Members of Trump’s team were extremely interested in and eager to accept any assistance that the Russians could provide. That is clear.

And since assuming office, Trump has openly attempted to obstruct justice and damage or impede the investigation into what the Russians did and whether anyone in his orbit was part of the crime. That too is clear.

But for the people who support and defend Trump, this has already been absorbed andabsolved. They may not like it, but they are willing to overlook it. Indeed, they are so attached to Trump that his fortunes and his fate have become synonymous with theirs. There is a spiritual linkage, a baleful bond, between the man and his minions.

But what happens if the evidence that the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, uncovers reveals a direct link between Trump and the Russians? How do Trump’s boosters respond?

Last week, when Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timeline and the extent of Mr. Trump’s involvement in negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow, the political earth shifted.

If Trump was lying to or misleading the American people about his efforts to do business in Russia while running for president and the Russians knew — and presumably had evidence — that he wasn’t being completely honest and forthcoming, then he was compromised.

While it is by no means clear that the Russians ever used any information that they may have had to blackmail or otherwise pressure Trump, Cohen’s plea makes clear that they had the material to do just that.

This brings ever more clarity to Trump’s curious inclination to go soft on Russia condemnation, to take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word over that of his own intelligence agencies, and to drag his feet in acknowledging that Russia attacked our election in 2016 and may continue to do so in the future.

How would Americans who support Trump now respond to evidence that Team Trump put their own personal and financial interests over the national interest? Would they break from their blind support and turn away from him and turn on him? How could they justify wearing the blinders for so long and countenancing so much? What language would they use to correct their complicity?

There is a precedent in the Nixon investigation. When the evidence of wrongdoing was clear and incontrovertible, people began to peel away, tails tucked and full of shame.

But that was a different time, one in which media wasn’t so fractured and partisan, before the advent of social media and our current dissociable mentalities.

Nixon had no propaganda arm. Trump has one. It’s called Fox News. There is little daylight between the network’s programming and the White House’s priorities. If Trump goes down, so too does Fox, in some measure. So the network has a vested interest in defending Trump until the bitter end, and that narrative-crafting could impede an otherwise natural and normal disaffection with Trump.

Furthermore, Trump does not strike me as a man amenable to contrition or one interested in the health and stability of the nation.

I expect Trump to admit nothing, even if faced with proof positive of his own misconduct. There is nothing in the record to convince me otherwise. He will call the truth a lie and vice versa.

I also don’t think that Trump would ever voluntarily leave office as Nixon did, even if he felt impeachment was imminent. I’m not even sure that he would willingly leave if he were impeached and the Senate moved to convict, a scenario that is hard to imagine at this point.

I don’t think any of this gets better, even as the evidence becomes clearer. I don’t believe that Trump’s supporters would reverse course in the same way that Nixon’s did. I don’t believe that the facts Mueller presents will be considered unassailable. I don’t believe Trump will go down without bringing the country down with him.

In short, I don’t believe we are reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather we are entering one. This will not get easier, but harder.

The country is about to enter the crucible. This test of our republic is without a true comparison. And we do not have a clear picture of how the test will resolve. But, I believe damage is certain.

The Conversation — Part II

This is Part II of the series I started yesterday afternoon, in response to a very thoughtful and thought-provoking comment I received from friend Mary on Tuesday.  Mary’s comments are in normal text, mine are in blue.  The conversation continues …

paragraph divider 2

1When I look around and see the support trump still has after 2 years, I believe it is hopeless … truly. I do hope I’m wrong, but I have a feeling. 2Education is not getting better, 3politics are even more corrupt, greed is rampant, 4our government supports killers over their own intelligence agencies, selfishness is rampant, 5far right religion is out of control with their end times desires and pushing their own special brand of bigotry, 6fires being blamed on not raking leaves, wars without end, 7the real fake news (Fox and their ilk) are taking over the simple minded and on and on…  Let me take these one-by-one:

  1. Trump’s support is still the minority. His approval ratings have never, since his first week or two in office, come above about 43%, and typically run in the mid-to-high 30s, lower than any other president in modern times.  The thing about his supporters is that they are loud and obnoxious, have radical and hateful ideas, so, as the saying goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”.  They are given the attention of the media, making them seem much larger than they actually are.

  2. Education has been in decline for more than a decade, though I agree that under Trump it is certain to decline further. Betsy DeVos would make college available to only those in the upper 1% of the income bracket and would siphon funds meant for public schools serving the many, into charter and religious schools serving only the elite few.  The problem, however, traces to parents who prefer their children to be schooled in a skill or a trade, so that they are prepared for a specific sort of job when they leave school, rather than receiving a liberal arts education that gives them a broad scope of knowledge, and most importantly, teaches them to think, to ask questions, to find solutions to problems.   Thus, the future leaders of this country, as well as the future scientists and inventors, will likely come only from among the very privileged.  It is a problem, certainly, but not one without a solution.  The solution is that we, as parents and grandparents, must step up to the plate, must demand that our children be given the same opportunity as the children of the Koch family. And we must motivate our children, for today’s youth is the future of this country.  Spend time with them, teach them what they need to know, teach them to reason, to ask questions, not to simply accept the easy answers.

  3. Yes, Mary, politics are as corrupt as they have ever been. The first thing that needs to be done is to take the money out of it.  Citizens United was the single worst decision ever made in terms of campaign finance, and even a few Supreme Court Justices have since regretted their vote.  It has left the door wide open for large corporations and lobbying groups, such as the fossil fuel and arms industries to buy members of Congress.  Today, it isn’t about the candidate’s platform and ideologies, but rather about how much money he can bring in.  I would personally like to see a system where donations are made to a central organization and divvied equally among all candidates.  Not going to happen, but it’s the only way we can ensure that our elected officials are truly representing us, We The People, and not in the pockets of the wealthy, industries, or the NRA.  Another suggestion I have is that we expand the current two-party system to either make it easier for an independent to get on the ballot, or to have a multi-party system such as many European nations have.  The United States is the only nation that has a duopoly, a two-party system where all power rests with those two parties.

  4. It appears that it is Trump’s decision alone to support Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and to ignore the evidence of his role in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Members of both parties in Congress are displeased with this decision and I cannot imagine that any other president would be so unwilling to listen to his own intelligence agencies, but Trump … well, he thinks he knows more than anybody else.

  5. The far-right religion, the evangelicals, as a whole are a problem for our nation only to the extent that the government and the courts allow them to be. Trump promised his followers that he would nominate justices to the Supreme Court that would be willing to overturn Roe v Wade and Obergefell v Hodges, and thus far he has seated two such judges.  It is to be hoped that he does not get the opportunity to nominate others, and that the rest of the court has respect for the decisions of past courts.  Our laws call for separation of church and state for good reason.  Ours is a secular government and has no right to interfere in any religion, but by the same token, religions must not have the right to determine law.

  6. I agree that Trump’s response to the forest fires in California was abominable. The good news about that is he surely didn’t make any friends or find any new supporters in that state!  The only thing he did do was prove his own ignorance, as if we needed further proof.

  7. Trump’s close ties with Fox News are indeed worrisome, especially when he is said to call Sean Hannity for advice! And to add insult to injury is his demonization of the legitimate press, calling them the “Enemy of the People”.  I must admit that, while I see the danger quite clearly, I am at a loss as to how we can make people think for themselves, make them wake up and realize that Fox News is naught more than state-sponsored television that panders to Donald Trump.  I think we must rely on the organizations that are established for the purpose of being the watchdogs to monitor freedom of the press, such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and hope they do their job and get the word out. 

And once again I am at over 1,000 words, so I shall stop here and wrap up with Part III later today.  Please feel free to join in the conversation with your own ideas!  And thanks for not throwing those rotten tomatoes!  🍅 🍅 🍅

Link to Part I in case you missed it:  The Conversation — Part I

In Honour Of Admiral McRaven …


Adm. William McRaven

Admiral William Harry McRaven is a distinguished former U.S. Naval Officer.  McRaven retired from the U.S. Navy on August 28, 2014, after more than 37 years of service, and went on to become the Chancellor of the University of Texas System.  During his naval career, he has been the commander of Joint Special Operations Command, as well as of Special Operations Command Europe.  In addition, he was designated as the first director of the NATO Special Operations Forces Coordination Centre.  His awards and decorations are far too numerous to list here but include a bronze star and a meritorious service medal.

In 2011, McRaven spent months obtaining data, then organizing and overseeing the special ops raid, Operation Neptune Spear, that ended in the killing of 9/11 mastermind Usama bin Laden.  I have not found a single black mark on his record, and from all indications he served his country admirably for 37 years.

Now, however, Admiral McRaven has become the latest target of the Fool on the Hill, Donald Trump.  Why?  Well, back in August, Admiral McRaven had the temerity to express support for former CIA Director John O. Brennan, whose security clearance had recently been revoked by the Trump Administration.  On August 16th, he penned the following Open Letter to Donald Trump that was published in The Washington Post:

Dear Mr. President:

Former CIA director John Brennan, whose security clearance you revoked on Wednesday, is one of the finest public servants I have ever known. Few Americans have done more to protect this country than John. He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him.

Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.

Like most Americans, I had hoped that when you became president, you would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs.

A good leader tries to embody the best qualities of his or her organization. A good leader sets the example for others to follow. A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself.

Your leadership, however, has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.

If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.

I’m not sure why Trump waited three full months before firing back … perhaps he had forgotten, or perhaps his advisors quashed prior attempts to throw mud at McRaven, but in a November 18th interview with Chris Wallace of Fox ‘News’, he was reminded.  Here’s what Trump had to say about an honourable, much decorated hero …

Chris Wallace: Bill McRaven, Retired Admiral, Navy Seal, 37 years, former head of U.S. Special Operations —

Trump: Hillary Clinton fan.

Chris Wallace: Special Operations —

Trump: Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan.

Chris Wallace: Who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime.

Trump: OK, he’s a Hilary Clinton, uh, backer and an Obama-backer and frankly —

Chris Wallace: He was a Navy Seal 37 years —

Trump: Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama Bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice? You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer. But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there. And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year and they don’t tell him, they don’t tell him —

Chris Wallace: You’re not even going to give them credit —

Trump: For years —

Chris Wallace: for taking down Bin Laden?

Trump: They took him down but – look, look, there’s news right there, he lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year, which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us.

Trump claims to love the military, but … must we assume that he only loves those members of our military who are staunchly “pro-Trump”?  That’s how it seems.  I don’t imagine the military has much great love for Trump, either, as he is a draft-dodger and has promised much in the way of donations to veterans’ organizations that never materialized.

Most people, whether republican or democrat, veteran or not, were appalled by Trump’s remarks.

  • “This is disgusting!” tweeted Frances Townsend, who worked as a counterterrorism adviser for President George W. Bush. She said McRaven is “among the finest officers I have had the privilege to work with.”
  • Leon Panetta, who was CIA director when bin Laden was killed in the 2011 operation and later served as secretary of defense under President Barack Obama, said Trump owed an apology to McRaven “and all of the special operation forces and intelligence professionals who planned and executed one of the most important counter-terrorism missions in our nation’s history.”
  • Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Trump’s comment is “really a slam at the intelligence community” and “reflects, I think, his complete ignorance” about what was involved in hunting down bin Laden.
  • “I don’t know if Adm. William McRaven shares my political views or not,” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said on Twitter. “But I do know that few Americans have sacrificed or risked more than he has to protect America & the freedoms we enjoy.”

Predictably, however, the Republican National Committee backed Trump’s unconscionable remarks:

“Worth noting after recent comments: Retired Adm. William McRaven was reportedly on Hillary Clinton’s short list for Vice President in 2016. He’s been critical of President @realDonaldTrump— even dating back to the 2016 campaign. He’s hardly a non-political figure.”

Being critical of Donald Trump is hardly grounds for condemnation, given that more than half of this nation are critical of Trump on a quite consistent basis, and at least 60% would just as soon see him floating on an ice floe somewhere in the Arctic Sea.  And while McRaven’s name reportedly was on a list of 39 potential candidates for Hillary’s running mate, the Admiral did not endorse any candidate in the 2016 election.  Even if he had, it doesn’t give Trump or the GOP any right to criticize a man who has had a far more noble career, more worthy life than Trump, or likely anybody else in the GOP.

Once again, Donald Trump shows the world his lack of compassion, his ignorance, and his arrogance.

The Real ‘Fake News’

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”

It’s unclear who first said this.  It has been attributed to Sun Tzu and sometimes to Niccolò Machiavelli or Petrarch, but there are no published sources yet found which predate its use by “Michael Corleone” in The Godfather Part II.  But to the point … it is why I do sometimes pop over to such uber-conservative sites as The Daily Wire, from whence came the inspiration for this post.  ‘Inspiration’ may not be quite the right word …

I was first appalled, then infuriated by the headline I saw last night …

Democrat Calls For Gun Confiscation, Suggests Nuking Americans Who Fight Back

The story put forth by The Daily Wire, Fox News, MSN and others is this …

“Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) caused a firestorm on Friday when he suggested using nuclear weapons against American citizens who oppose his far-left gun control agenda, which includes forcing Americans to give up their semi-automatic weapons.”

Now, if that were the truth, it would be quite a “WOW” moment and I would have to ask myself if Mr. Swalwell had gone and lost his bloody marbles!  Turns out there’s more to the story that the aforementioned news outlets conveniently left out … or perhaps didn’t understand.

This is yet another example of taking a sentence out of context and giving it an entirely different meaning than the speaker ever intended.  The danger is that some people will look at that headline, believe it without ever giving it a thought or checking on its veracity, and will be all in a fizz,  running inside, grabbing the old rifle, and sitting on their porches waiting for the band of merry democrats to show up to try to take their guns!

Let’s look at a few of the comments from Representative Swalwell in response to the madness:

  • We should ban assault weapons by buying them back or restricting them to ranges/clubs.
  • Don’t be so dramatic. No one is nuking anyone or threatening that. I’m telling you this is not the 18th Century. The argument that you would go to war with your government if an assault weapons ban was in place is ludicrous and inflames the gun debate. Which is what you want.
  • It’s sarcasm. He said he’s going to war with America if gun legislation was passed. I told him his government has nukes. God forbid we use sarcasm.

And finally, his nutshell summary of the entire situation:

America’s gun debate in one thread.

1) I propose a buy-back of assault weapons

2) Gun owner says he’ll go to war with USA if that happens

3) I sarcastically point out USA isn’t losing to his assault weapon (it’s not the 18th Century)

4) I’m called a tyrant

5) 0 progress

Sigh.  C’mon, folks … get real for a minute, will ya?  Mr. Swalwell was far more generous than I would have been, or than he should have been, in offering a buy-back program.  In my mind, assault-type weapons that were designed for only military use do not belong in the hands of civilians.  Period.  No argument.  Ban ‘em.  Confiscate ‘em.  Destroy ‘em.  They do not belong in your hands, Joe Cracker!!!

No, nobody is going to nuke you, and frankly if I had my wishes, and if there were a safe way to do so, every nuclear weapon on the planet would be destroyed.  Mr. Swalwell’s comment was rather like one that I myself make every so often, when I hear of somebody who has an arsenal in their basement or garage, just waiting for that day when the military ‘comes for mah guns’.  Says Joe Cracker … “Just let ‘em try … hworf, hworf, hworf (picture Beavis & Butthead here) … I’ll blast ‘em into the next county”.  Say I … “Oh really … and when that tank rolls right on through your arsenal, taking most of your house with it …???”

There is this concept these days in both political parties that we must always look for the ulterior motive, the hidden threat in every word that is uttered by “the enemy”.  Why must we be enemies?  Because we cannot be bothered to take the time to understand one another!  Republicans haven’t bothered to ask themselves why the democrats feel as strongly as they do about gun control.  Well, dear right-wing, conservative friends, even though you didn’t ask, let me tell you …


Eric Swalwell is not a bad guy, folks.  During his congressional career he has advocated to increase spending on education, for renewable energy jobs creation, to raise the cap on the Social Security payroll tax so that wealthier Americans would pay more into the program, and he has argued against legislation that would allow people to bring knives on airplanes.  He is a strong supporter of LGBT people and is staunchly pro-choice.  In other words, he is in favour of policies to protect and enhance the common people – people like you … and me.  And he wants to see a curtailment of guns in civilian hands.  Most of us do want that.  Those who don’t?  Explain it to me, please, Mr. Joe Cracker?

The far-right and far-left media outlets play on our fears, our sympathies, our desires.  The headline at the beginning of this article is but one example.  Fox News, Breitbart and others do it every day.  The trash that can be found on Twitter and Facebook is astounding.  Americans need to grow up.  They need to learn to distinguish between news and rhetoric.  They need to learn to do their own digging, to separate the bullshit from what is real.  The Great Divide just keeps getting wider and wider … it is to the advantage of people like Trump and his minions to keep us divided, to keep as many as possible in the dark.  Are you willing to let them win?  Are you willing to believe the myth?  Or do you still care about truth?

FOX News Embedded Reporter In Refugee Caravan Disputes President’s Claims

I did not intend to publish an afternoon post today, but when I read this one by Gronda, I thought this information too relevant, too necessary to simply ignore. We need to spread this word, to let people know the TRUTH! Thank you, Gronda, for this timely and valuable information, and for your kind permission to share with my readers.

Gronda Morin

William La Jeunesse reports from Mexico (Fox News/screen grab)

FOX NEWS reporter William LaJeunesse who is an embedded in the midst of the refugee caravan is disputing the republican President Donald J. Trump’s claims that this caravan of refugees fleeing the violence in Honduras by heading towards the US -Mexican border via Guatemala are comprised of ‘bad peoples.’

On October 23, 2018, David Edwards of Raw Story penned the following report, “Fox News embedded reporter burns Trump on caravan criminals: ‘Most are driven by poverty and a better life.” 


“Fox News reporter embedded with a caravan of migrants in Central America on Tuesday (10/23/18) knocked down President Donald Trump’s claim that most of them were “bad people.”

“Reporting from Tapachula, Mexico, Fox News’ William La Jeunesse told host Sandra Smith that the president had been wrong about the people traveling with the caravan.”


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More Head-Shaking Moments …

I considered not writing a post for this morning.  My mother used to caution me: “Si no puedes decir algo bueno, entonces no digas nada.”  Translation:  If you cannot say something nice, then say nothing at all.  And thus, I considered skipping my morning post, for I knew I could not say anything nice.  But, sigh, I then remembered something else my mother used to say: “Siempre comparte con tus amigos.”  Translation:  Always share with your friends.  So, grab a stick (to bite on to keep from screaming and scaring the neighbors), a box of tissues and sit down while I regale you with the latest …

Say WHAT???

“If I did one mistake with Comey, I should have fired him before I got here. I should have fired him the day I won the primaries.  I should have fired him right after the convention, say I don’t want that guy.” – Donald Trump, interview with John Solomon and Buck Sexton of The Hill, Tuesday 18 September 2018

Excuse me, but last I knew, a candidate … which is all Trump was after winning the primaries, after winning the nomination … does not have any more right to fire the Director of the FBI than you or I!!!  Is his ego truly so bloated that he thinks he had that ability?  And if so, then what else does he believe he can do, that he cannot … or can he?

And then there was this, from the same interview …

“You know, I took that test when I got my last physical, and the doctor said that’s one of the highest scores we’ve ever seen. I did that not because I wanted but I did it, I was always good at testing. But if there’s anything great about me it’s stability, and I’m a good manager. Always been a good manager, but you know, I have a vision.”

When I read that, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry, so instead I choked on a bite of celery. Fortunately, daughter Chris is a nurse and certified in the Heimlich maneuver.

But wait … it gets even better … or worse, actually.  When speaking of his decision earlier this week to release to the public certain classified materials relating to the FBI’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election despite serious national security concerns, Trump credited …

“I have been asked by so many people that I respect, please — the great Lou Dobbs, the great Sean Hannity, the wonderful great Jeanie Pirro.”

Donald Trump … the leader of the United States of America … responsible and accountable to some 328 million people … is jeopardizing national security … based on the advice of … three radical, right-wing, conspiracy-theorist, television talk show hosts?!?!?!?!

I don’t care if you are a democrat, republican or independent, if this doesn’t make you see red, then you seriously need an education.

If you have the stomach for it, and have somebody with you who knows the Heimlich, feel free to read or watch the entire 1:32 long interview.

Ethics, Schmethics …

The September 3-9 Gallup poll asked how Trump’s ethical standards compare with those of seven of his eight predecessors.  Take a look at the results …ethics poll.pngTrump’s ethics were considered to be even lower than Richard I-am-not-a-crook Nixon!!!  Nixon, who was charged with obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress as a result of his involvement in the Watergate scandal, is the only U.S. president to resign from office, which he did in 1974, before his near-certain impeachment.

Yet more than eight in ten Republicans still approve of the job he is doing.  Shoot me now!

He should’a stayed home …

It is generally appropriate and expected for the president to visit and tour areas of the nation after a natural disaster, such as a hurricane.  So, it was no surprise that Trump visited New Bern, North Carolina, hard-hit from floods as a result of Hurricane Florence last week. Trump-Florence.jpgLooking at the remains of a yacht that had washed up against the back of a brick home, Trump asked the homeowner …  “Is this your boat?” The man shook his head and said “No”. Trump turned with a grin and replied, “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.”

gaspWas there a more inappropriate remark he could have made?  Other presidents have treated natural disaster tours as dignified, solemn affairs.  After all, people have lost homes, possessions, cars, family pets, and in some cases even the lives of loved ones. They need both practical help and compassion, understanding.  With Trump, they get off-key attempts at humour, and as the New York Times states it, “pep-rally enthusiasm”.  Frankly, had I been that homeowner I would have spit in his face.  What an embarrassment he is to us all, only some 36% of the nation cannot see it.  Perhaps if he mocked their own misfortune they would begin to understand.

sad-turltleOkay, folks … that’s all I’ve got … well, actually I’ve got lots more, but that’s likely enough to start your day off on the wrong foot, so I’ll leave off here.  Have a great day, my friends … try to step away from the train wreck for a bit and go outside, enjoy nature, remind yourself that ‘this too shall pass’.  I think that’s my new motto.

New Policy Advisor: Fox News

Carlson TuckerU.S. Foreign Policy is now apparently driven by Fox News!  On Wednesday evening, Tucker Carlson of Fox News made the claim that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was illegally seizing land from white farmers in South Africa.  As we all know, Donald Trump gets all his news from Fox News, but apparently he gets his foreign policy briefings from Fox also.Trump tweet 1

Note that 126,000 people liked this.  That speaks volumes, don’t you think?

It is immediately and painfully obvious that Donald Trump is not familiar with the history of South Africa. A bit of history here:

To understand, we need to look at South Africa’s colonial past when, despite the nation being more than 80% black, a small white minority held power.  One crucial way the white government preserved that power was the 1913 Natives Land Act, a law that banned Africans — the vast majority of the population — from acquiring agricultural land.  In 1994, South Africa became a majority-black government, but today blacks own only 4% of the country’s farms and agricultural holdings.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ruling party, the African National Congress are developing land reform policies that will include re-distribution of agricultural land that was seized during apartheid by whites.  The party is pushing for the ability to expropriate some land seized by white South Africans during apartheid.  However, Tucker Carlson’s claim is false, for the South African government is not currently “seizing land from white farmers.”

The Government of South Africa, understandably, hit back …south-africa-tweet.pngTrump does not have the facts, but instead has only what he learned by listening to Tucker Carlson, and as such, chose to spout from his mouth … er, fingertips … and has now created discord between the U.S. and South Africa.  Where are Trump’s foreign policy advisors???  Does he have any?  Perhaps Kellyanne is now advising him on South Africa?  Picture it … “Oh yes, Donald, South Africa … there are … well, black people live there and … they … um … mine diamonds?  Ohhhh … I love diamonds, Donald!”

But the danger of Trump relying on Fox News for his information goes far deeper than even this.  As I read this story on the NPR news site a number of scenarios played out in my mind.

The danger in all fake news and all conspiracy theories is that all it takes is one idiot with a firearm who believes the story, and people die.  Remember the story promoted by Mike Cernovich, that Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief, John D. Podesta were kidnapping, molesting and trafficking children in a restaurant’s back rooms, or according to one version, in tunnels beneath the restaurant. One mentally unstable man, Edgar Maddison Welch, believed the story, entered Cosmic Ping Pong Pizzeria with two weapons, and started shooting willy-nilly.  Luckily, he wasn’t a very good shot and nobody was hurt.

And remember how Alex Jones claimed that the mass school shooting at Sandy Hook in 2012 was a ‘false flag’ operation, that it never really happened, and that the grieving parents were paid actors?  And remember how people who believed Jones’ lies threatened and harassed those grieving parents.  One family even had to move 7 times to keep their surviving children safe from those who issued death threats.

So yes, my friends, there is a very real danger to fake news, and when the president, the leader of the nation, believes that fake news and uses his large, powerful voice to promote it, the potential for disaster is very near the surface.

What happens when Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham mention on their show one evening that they have discovered that congressional democrats are plotting with military generals to effect a military coup, removing Donald Trump from the White House in the middle of the night and executing him by firing squad in DuPont Plaza?  Far-fetched?  Yes, but so was Pizzagate.  Would Donald Trump believe it?  Heck yes, for he is as paranoid as any other corrupt and dishonest leader, and always assumes people are “out to get him”.

Or what happens when one of the Fox people claim to have it on good faith that in cities all across the nation, democrats are quietly planning mass uprisings in order to _______________________________________  (use your imagination to fill in the blank) and Trump, fully believing it, calls for martial law in every major city?  Ridiculous?  Certainly, but impossible?  Nope.  We have seen too many things over the past 19 months that we once thought impossible.  For those who would argue that the Constitution and other institutions are in place to prevent such a thing from happening, to place some controls on the president, I answer that the effectiveness of any institution relies on the people who are in charge of overseeing it, in this case Congress and the courts.  Get the picture?

It is bad enough when conspiracy theories, put forth by the likes of Fox News, InfoWars and Breitbart are believed by a handful of people.  When the president of the United States believes such nonsense and passes it along as if it were true, then he lends legitimacy to the lie and stirs a shitstorm.  People die.  Fox News has suddenly become a very powerful presence in the media, without having the sense of responsibility that needs to accompany such power.

If Donald Trump is taking his information from Fox News and making real-life decisions based on falsehoods … well, just think about that one for a while …

Have a great weekend.

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’.

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.

The Fox is Guarding the Hen House …

Back in the days when I frequently made hiring decisions, my usual venue to search for employees was the local newspaper.  In the last few years of my career, I more often used CareerBuilder or Monster.com.  On a few occasions, when hiring for a higher-level position, I used headhunters.  But never in my most desperate moments would I have dreamed of using Fox News as an employment agency!

bill-shineToday came the announcement that Trump has hired Bill Shine, formerly of Fox News, to be the new communications director, a position previously held by Hope Hicks, Anthony Scaramucci, Sean Spicer and Michael Dubke.  The position has been empty since Hicks left in March after testifying to the House Intelligence Committee that she had lied for Trump.

Shine comes with his own built-in set of controversies, as he was forced to leave Fox News in disgrace in May 2017.  Shine was accused of covering up for a number of sexual harassment cases within the network.  He had been known as Roger Ailes “fixer”, similar to the role Michael Cohen played for Trump.  Ailes was forced out amid a wave of sexual assault allegations that Shine, apparently, tried to cover up, but that later came back to bite him.  Hmmmm … it seems that he will fit right in with the immorality that exists in the White House, doesn’t it?

But this is not the first time Trump has sought to hire Fox News castoffs!

  • john-boltonNational Security Advisor, John Bolton, has been a Fox commentator/contributor for the past ten years.  When hired on by Trump, he indicated that he still considers himself a Fox contributor.

  • Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Heather Nauert, was an anchor on Fox and Friends since 2007, and was hired into the State Department in April 2017, promoted to her current position in March 2018.

  • White House Director of Strategic Communications, Mercedes Schlapp, was a Fox News contributor until her hiring in September 2017; however, she continues to appear regularly on Fox News.

  • Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Tony Sayegh, has been with Fox since 2009, and despite his duties in his new position, he still finds time to appear regularly on Fox News.

  • K.T. McFarland was hired by Trump shortly after the inauguration in January 2017, to serve as Deputy National Security Advisor under Michael Flynn.  McFarland was a Fox contributor since around 2010.  However, after Flynn’s resignation, she was asked to step down.

  • larry-kudlowAlthough this one comes from CNBC instead of Fox, it is worth noting that Director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, was hired in March 2018 to replace Gary Cohn who decided he had enough of Trump’s ways.  Kudlow had his own program, The Kudlow Report, until he left to take the position Trump offered.

Given the number of these people who continue to be ‘Fox-friendly’, I have to suggest that we do, indeed, have a state-run media in the U.S., and its name is Fox News.

Bill Shine is known to be a close confidant of Trump’s best buddie Sean Hannity, and I see, with his hiring, even stronger ties between Fox and the White House.  Donald Trump’s main ‘claim to fame’ is his old television ‘reality’ show, The Apprentice.  Trump is an entertainer, a provocateur, and he is running our government like just another freak show.  Frankly, if she weren’t suing him, it wouldn’t surprise me for him to put Stormy Daniels in the position of Director of the Office of Cabinet Affairs!  A fitting position, don’t you think?stormy-danielsWe needed a president who thought with his head, one who understood the workings of government, foreign relations, and environmental concerns, to name a few.  We needed a president who had morals, values. We needed a president who represented the best interests of the people … all the people.  We needed an intelligent, compassionate president. Instead, we got Trump and his band of entertainers.  The White House has been turned into the entertainment capital of the nation.  Eat your heart out, Hollywood!