Saturday’s Snarky Snippets

When I wake on Saturday morning to no less than 12 “breaking news” updates on my phone, you know I’m going to be in snarky-mode.  So, here goes …

Another hat in the ring …

Elizabeth-WarrenElizabeth Warren announced her entry into the 2020 presidential campaign this morning.  While I respect Ms. Warren’s political views, believe she is as well-qualified as any, and while a year ago I would have considered her as my choice, I have to wonder at her decision today.  Given the very public controversy that she stirred over her Native American heritage, or lack thereof, she doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the democratic nomination, much less the presidency.  Frankly, I don’t relish the thought of listening to Trump and his faithful followers shrieking “Pocahontas” for the next 21 months! The more candidates who throw their hats into the ring, the more it dilutes the party unity, and that unity is going to be essential to winning an election next year.  I wish Ms. Warren had put country before ego.


He’s baaaaaaack …

roger-stoneLong time ago, July 2016, to be exact, I awarded Trump’s buddy Roger Stone (and his wife) my coveted Idiot of the Week award, and to this day he is still proving worthy of the title.  Stone, who has undoubtedly committed as many crimes as most any man alive, was arrested on January 25th, and indicted by Robert Mueller’s team on seven counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, witness tampering, and making false statements.  You might think that would take some of the wind out of his sails, that he might ‘sit down and shut up’, right?  But no, this is Roger Stone who, like his buddy Trump, thinks he can do as he pleases and will never suffer the consequences.

Instead of silence, Stone went on a media blitz in a series of television interviews and Instagram posts, decrying the unfairness of his arrest, etc., etc., etc.  Judge Amy Berman Jackson, along with Robert Mueller, is considering placing a gag order on Stone, stopping him from publicly discussing his case.  In the Judge’s words …

“The upshot of treating the pretrial proceedings in this case like a book tour could be that we end up with a much larger percent of the jury pool that’s been tainted by pretrial publicity than we have now, and that’s what it’s my job to balance here.”

Stone’s attorneys argue against it.  On what grounds, you ask?  Because a) Stone doesn’t even have a Twitter account (he was kicked off Twitter more than a year ago for a series of expletive-laden posts aimed at CNN anchors), and b) Kim Kardashian has more followers than Stone.  Is there logic here?  I’m failing to see it.


More bad news …

Dr. Sean Conley, Trump’s physician …

“While the reports and recommendations are being finalized, I am happy to announce the President of the United States is in very good health and I anticipate he will remain so for the duration of his Presidency, and beyond.”


Will any be left standing?

A week or so ago, I read a column by George Will in The Washington Post that posited the most viable candidate in the large field of democrats seeking to unseat Donald Trump was Amy Klobuchar.

Amy-KlobucharHis points made sense, as Will’s points most always do, and I had added her to my list of potentials.  Then today comes the news that Ms. Klobuchar has a history of mistreating her staff.  It is even said it caused such concerns that in 2015, then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid spoke to her privately and told her to change her behavior, though Reid neither confirms nor denies.  Sigh.  Another one bites the dust.  It becomes apparent to me that there will be early and multiple attempts to discredit any and every democrat who plans to run in 2020.  Somebody, republicans and/or Russians, has already begun a concerted campaign to sling as much mud, to dig up as much dirt as possible on every candidate who appears to present a challenge to Trump.  It is gonna be ugly, folks.  I have to wonder if there will be any whose past won’t come back to haunt them over the next 21 months.  Shoot me now.


And on that note, I leave you to enjoy the rest of your weekend.Weekend

And now, a word from George Will

Our friend Keith has once again written a post that is thoughtful and makes some very valid points, with a little help from George Will. Thank you, Keith, for sharing these seeds of wisdom!

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I have noted before the significant number of respected conservative pundits and editorialists who have shared concerns over the President. George Will, a long time conservative, is among those who see the damage being done by the man in the White House. Like other conservative critics, his voice should be one that is heeded by those conservatives who are not totally in lock-step with the President.

In his most recent column called “Trump’s misery is also country’s,” Will is hypercritical of both the policies and behavior of the current President. He is also not too keen on the current Senate leadership for not doing their job to govern, being too interested in acquiescing to the President’s commands.

As for policy, he cited several examples, but two jump out. He is critical of the Trump and the GOP leadership as he notes, “Except that after two years of unified government under…

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Trump vs The First Amendment

Donald Trump believes the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides too much protection of free speech.  In an interview with WFOR, CBS’ Miami affiliate, he lamented that, under current law, “our press is allowed to say whatever they want.”

“Well in England they have a system where you can actually sue if someone says something wrong. Our press is allowed to say whatever they want and get away with it. And i think we should go to a system where if they do something wrong… I’m a big believer tremendous believer of the freedom of the press. Nobody believes it stronger than me but if they make terrible, terrible mistakes and those mistakes are made on purpose to injure people. I’m not just talking about me I’m talking anybody else then yes, i think you should have the ability to sue them. Well, in England you have a good chance of winning. And deals are made and apologies are made. Over here they don’t have to apologize. They can say anything they want about you or me and there doesn’t have to be any apology. England has a system where if they are wrong things happen.” – Donald Trump, Idiot Extraordinaire

Now, the reality is that Trump would be highly unlikely to win his threatened suit against the New York Times even under English law, especially since English defamation law was amended in 2013 to add a “public interest” exemption. This change would potentially allow the New York Times to escape liability in England even if they were unable to definitely prove the truth of their reporting.

However, more to the point, yesterday the New York Times printed a full two page list of people that Trump has insulted.

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The image is too small to read, but here is a link to the online version  which was originally posted a couple of weeks ago and has since been updated.

Donald Trump must believe that courtesy and decency, that the very 1st Amendment rights to freedom of speech, in fact, are a one-way street.  He can say virtually anything that flows out of his mouth about anybody he happens to not like at a particular time, but let anybody say anything about him, and he is ready to SUE SUE SUE!!!

Predictably, his biggest target has been Hillary Clinton, followed by Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, as well as other previous presidential candidates.  But let us take a look at just a few of his insults to individual journalists:

  • Of The Washington Post’s George Will: “made many bad calls”“lost his way long ago”“one of the most overrated political pundits”“deadpan”“BORING”“dopey”“broken down political pundit”“wrong almost all of the time”“should be thrown off Fox News”“boring and totally biased”“broken down”“wrong on so many subjects”
  • Of conservative commentator, Glenn Beck: “dumb as a rock”“crying”“lost all credibility”“failing”“irrelevant”“wacko”“failing, crying, lost soul”“sad”“has zero credibility”“very dumb and failing”“irrelevant”“mental basketcase”“irrelevant”“viewers & ratings are way down”“a real nut job”“always seems to be crying”“wacky”
  • Of New York Times’ Maureen Dowd: “Crazy”“wacky”“pretends she knows me well–wrong!”“Wacky”“hardly knows me”“makes up things that I never said”“boring interviews and column”“A neurotic dope!”
  • Of Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post: “dummy”“liberal clown”
  • Of conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer: “biased”“a @FoxNews flunky”“Iraq war monger”“highly overrated”“clown”“dopey”“should be fired”“a dope”“highly overrated”

The list goes on and on, but check it out for yourself.  Notice how often he uses the words “dumb”, “dummy”, and “dopey”.  All things considered, I should think that this constitutes slander far more than the reporting of a story that is purportedly true by a major newspaper on the subject of a presidential candidate.

And it is not just individual journalists he attacks.  One of the major targets of Trump’s foul mouth is actually Fox News, which has a history of being a mouthpiece for the Republican Party, the party that is supposedly represented by Trump.  In addition to Fox, he has attacked ABC News, The Associated Press, CNBC, CNN, Forbes, Fortune, Huffington Post, NBC, New York Daily News, New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and of course The Washington Post.  The only major media outlet I see missing from the list is Breitbart, and since they are kissing cousins in bed together, that is not surprising. Not to mention that earlier in the year he banned a number of media organizations including The Washington Post, Politico and the Huffington Post.

In the past, schools and parents have used the election process, including presidential debates, as a learning tool, a lesson in civics.  This year, however, most are refraining from allowing children to watch.

  • “I likely won’t let the kids watch the debate in case Trump says something I’m not ready to explain to them.” – unknown Twitter user
  • “I lack the ability to control what comes out of the candidate’s mouth, and my daughter lacks the emotional maturity to understand grown-ups acting like misbehaved teenagers cutting down the other candidates,” said John Furjanic, a financial adviser in Chicago. “I don’t want to allow my child to be influenced by bad adult behavior, and I don’t want to take the time to explain away the poor, pouting and mean conduct.”

Most child psychologists and social workers agree that this year’s political process is not appropriate viewing for young children.  Personally, I would argue that it is not appropriate viewing for anybody!  It has certainly increased my level of stress and markedly decreased my level of patience with little things.

Back to the issue of Trump’s desire to curtail the protections of the 1st Amendment.  I would fight that one tooth and nail, as I believe a free press is arguably the most important ingredient for an ongoing democracy.  I would, however, like to see politicians and other public figures learn about responsible speech.  To call anybody a dummy or a dope is not responsible, is not appropriate under any circumstances. Anybody who is considered intelligent enough to vie for public office should certainly be smart enough to refrain from childish, hurtful insults.

Love ‘em or Hate ‘em, but by all means protect them

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press [emphasis added]; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Like most people, I frequently criticize the press.  I blame the press for over-reacting to some things, such as terrorist attacks, creating high levels of fear, and I blame them for creating what we now know as the Trump-monster.  Mainstream media are well-known for their biases, as well as for the way they sensationalize certain events while downplaying others.  However, when I think of the alternative, I conclude that we are far better off with than without them.  I am also a critic of social media, or at least the way in which some people use it, but again, it is an avenue for people to express themselves freely and that is essential to a democracy.

More than a third of the world’s people live in countries where there is no press freedom. In 2011–2012, the countries where press was the freest were Finland, Norway and Germany, followed by Estonia, Netherlands, Austria, Iceland, and Luxembourg. The country with the least degree of press freedom was Eritrea, followed by North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria, Iran, and China.

Egypt arrested people for their Facebook comments. Now it’s trying to block Facebook itself. The Egyptian government has arrested or jailed several people for posting comments on Facebook that it considered inflammatory.  Journalists critical of Putin have been killed in Russia. There have been a number of cases over the years. The Committee to Protect Journalists has described Russia as “one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists,” with 36 journalists killed since 1992. Syria and France have been named the deadliest countries where journalists were found murdered with confirmed motives in 2015, according to Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Donald Trump wants to be able to take legal action against those he thinks are unkind in their reporting. Trump revealed his utter disdain for the First Amendment’s freedom of the press, proclaiming that he’s “gonna open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. I think the media is among the most dishonest groups of people I’ve ever met. They’re terrible. With me, they’re not protected, because I’m not like other people…We’re gonna open up those libel laws, folks, and we’re gonna have people sue you like you never get [sic] sued before.” Actually, the United States Constitution says you are exactly like other people, because under the Constitution, we are all equal before the law. There is no Donald Trump Exception clause anywhere to be found. Even the Founding Fathers had to take their lumps from their critics. “I feel very strongly about our constitution. I’m proud of it. I love it.” He loves it enough to say it doesn’t apply to him. No president can simply pick and choose the parts of the Constitution he wants to honour and discard the rest.  Can you imagine if President Obama had ever uttered such a statement?

george_willPulitzer Prize-winning George Will is a columnist for The Washington Post, with whom I rarely agree, yet I have more respect for him than for most any other columnist today.  Will is politically conservative, while I am moderate-liberal, but he is respectful, intellectual and above all fair.  He is an “equal opportunity” pundit who criticizes whichever side deserves it.  And this campaign season, he has taken issue with none other than Trumpty=Dumpty!  I knew I liked George!  According to Will, Trump’s rhetoric about limiting freedom of the press will be comparable to a re-enactment of the Sedition Act of 1798. The act made it a crime to “write, print, utter or publish, or cause it to be done, or assist in it, any false, scandalous, and malicious writing against the government of the United States, or either House of Congress, or the President, with intent to defame, or bring either into contempt or disrepute, or to excite against either the hatred of the people.”

Are we actually willing to give up our right to “read all about it” in our morning newspapernewspaper, or to see the online news sources reigned in such that they cannot report on the actions of the Trump administration?  And what about us?  Those of us who write blogs, who write op-ed pieces for newspapers would also be silenced. The reality, of course, is that even if Trump were to somehow win the election and become president, he could not change the 1st amendment easily, I suspect not at all.  But the very fact that he wants to, that he is willing to trash what is arguably the most important right we are granted by the Bill of Rights, is troublesome, to say the very least.

I am an optimist and still do not believe that Donald ‘Trumpty-Dumpty’ Trump will ever become president of the United States.  That said, if he does, I hope that I am able to share a cell with George Will.  I think we could have fun talking about issues and I would surely learn a lot from him!  See you soon, George! Smiley