Anti-Vax Lunacy

I am as stubborn as they come, but I am fully vaccinated.  Why, you ask?  Because I believe that while I have every right to take chances with my own life, I have absolutely NO RIGHT to put others in danger.  It’s called ‘having a social conscience.’  It’s called ‘caring about others.’  It’s called ‘doing the right thing.’

I am appalled by those who have cited every excuse in the book for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID.  This pandemic has killed over 4 million people around the world … 623,029 in the United States, as of this writing, though by the time you are reading it, the number will be even higher.  And WE … You and I … have the key to stopping it in our hands.  If we fail to use that key, then we are complicit in those deaths.

The excuses are myriad and utterly without merit … in other words, the excuses are the epitome of stupidity.  Here are just a few (along with my non-scientific, sometimes snide rebuttals in blue):

  • We don’t know what the long-term side effects are. (So?  We DO know what the long-term effects of the coronavirus are … one of which is death!)
  • The vaccine might hurt my fertility. (So???  The world is already over-populated and with climate change, food and water resources are getting scarcer by the day … you don’t need any more kids!)
  • It’s none of your business if I don’t get vaccinated. (Oh hold on just a second there, madame!  It is the business of every single person on this planet!  We are, in case you haven’t noticed, all in this together!  Wake up and smell the f*cking coffee!)
  • I’m young and healthy, so I don’t need to get vaccinated. (Ha ha ha ha ha ha … first, ask some of the young people who are still suffering symptoms months after getting COVID.  Second, you can still transmit it to others … do you have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers???  Why not think of somebody besides yourself just for once?)
  • These vaccines only have emergency use authorization, not full FDA approval. (Yeah, and your point is?  Do you realize how long full FDA approval takes?  Do you see the drop in cases since the vaccine has been widely accepted?  )
  • I don’t want to get Covid-19 from the vaccine. (Oh for Pete’s sake … you cannot get COVID from the vaccine! None of them contain so much as a smidge of the actual virus!)
  • My faith will protect me, so I don’t need to get vaccinated. (My jaw drops on this one.  A lot of the 3,000+ people who died in the planes, in the World Trade Center, and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11th, 2001, had faith even stronger than yours and it did not protect them.  Faith is a state of mind, it will not protect you from real world situations.  How ‘bout you take my hand and let me lead you to that nice doctor over there who can ‘splain this to you better than I can?)
  • I might not be able to afford a vaccine. (It’s free, stupid. The government is footing the bill on this one, for they want you to stay alive, though I have no idea why!)

And those are just the relatively sane excuses!  Others run along the lines of conspiracy theories such as Bill Gates has arranged to implant some sort of microchip into your body via the vaccine, or it’s a government plot to turn your brain into spinach soufflé.  (Note to readers … anybody who believes the conspiracy theories brain is already spinach soufflé or oatmeal … not sure which)

The propaganda network, Fox “News”, has played a large role in instigating the anti-vaccine movement and in my book, some of the deaths we are seeing today are on their hands.  Not only the brainless Tucker Carlson, but other Fox ‘hosts’ have denigrated the vaccine, urged their not-so-bright viewers to ‘resist’ the call to be vaccinated … this despite the fact that Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox, was vaccinated last December!  YO RUPERT … find your conscience … I think I saw it standing outside your broker’s office on Wall Street!

The US averaged about 19,455 coronavirus cases over the last seven days, a 47% increase over the previous week. Fully a third of those are coming from five hot spots: Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Nevada, all states with low vaccination rates.

Generally speaking, I would argue that what goes into my body is my choice.  However, I make my choices based on a myriad of informed sources, I respect scientific data, and I understand that sometimes we must make decisions without having perfect information.  With that said, I could see no alternative other than to become vaccinated.  But, until the rest of the nation opens their eyes, this nation will continue to see new cases, new variants, new protective mandates, and yes, new deaths.  Those who continue to hold out, who continue to argue and engage in conspiracy theories that don’t even make sense, will keep this nation under COVID’s thumb.

A Warning for America From two Former Prime Ministers

The First Amendment Freedom of Speech … how far does it go? Too far? These days, in the age of conspiracy theories and faux news as promoted by the likes of Fox ‘News’, it seems that perhaps it’s time to place a few constraints on that freedom. As I’ve long said, every ‘right’ is accompanied by a responsibility, and for the past decade or more, far too many have shrugged off the responsibility. Our friend Jeff has written his thoughts, and the thoughts of other well-qualified people, on this topic. Thanks Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

When two former Prime Ministers from one of the leading democracies in the world sound the alarm about Fox News, and specifically, the sprawling media empire of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, it’s time our elected politicians in America stop sitting on their asses and do something.

While Fox has been spewing its brand of hate, division, and lies over here for decades now, in some ways, it’s comforting to know that it’s not just happening over here. Australia, too is suffering from the same infection. It appears that their parliament has begun to take it serious enough to conduct an inquiry into the media giant, spurred on by a petition signed by 500,000 Australian citizens and initiated by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Both Rudd and one of his successors, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, testified on April 12 to parliament about the dangers of News Corp and…

View original post 1,073 more words

A Sensible Republican — Last Of A Dying Breed

The day of the sensible, reasonable, intelligent Republican seems to be long gone.  Way back when, I’ve even voted for Republicans, but I cannot picture ever doing so again, for the party has devolved into something ugly … a bunch who would rather burn down this nation than compromise, than meet Democrats on some middle ground.  John Boehner was one of the last Republicans for whom I had a great deal of respect, though I often disagreed with him.  He has written a book, due out on Tuesday, April 13th, that I have pre-ordered and plan to read.  What follows is an excerpt from that book, and I think you’ll be surprised when you read some of his words.

In the 2010 midterm election, voters from all over the place gave President Obama what he himself called “a shellacking.” And oh boy, was it ever. You could be a total moron and get elected just by having an R next to your name—and that year, by the way, we did pick up a fair number in that category.

Retaking control of the House of Representatives put me in line to be the next Speaker of the House over the largest freshman Republican class in history: 87 newly elected members of the GOP. Since I was presiding over a large group of people who’d never sat in Congress, I felt I owed them a little tutorial on governing. I had to explain how to actually get things done. A lot of that went straight through the ears of most of them, especially the ones who didn’t have brains that got in the way. Incrementalism? Compromise? That wasn’t their thing. A lot of them wanted to blow up Washington. That’s why they thought they were elected.

Some of them, well, you could tell they weren’t paying attention because they were just thinking of how to fundraise off of outrage or how they could get on Hannity that night. Ronald Reagan used to say something to the effect that if I get 80 or 90 percent of what I want, that’s a win. These guys wanted 100 percent every time. In fact, I don’t think that would satisfy them, because they didn’t really want legislative victories. They wanted wedge issues and conspiracies and crusades.

To them, my talk of trying to get anything done made me a sellout, a dupe of the Democrats, and a traitor. Some of them had me in their sights from day one. They saw me as much of an “enemy” as the guy in the White House. Me, a guy who had come to the top of the leadership by exposing corruption and pushing conservative ideas. Now I was a “liberal collaborator.” So that took some getting used to. What I also had not anticipated was the extent to which this new crowd hated—and I mean hated—Barack Obama.

By 2011, the right-wing propaganda nuts had managed to turn Obama into a toxic brand for conservatives. When I was first elected to Congress, we didn’t have any propaganda organization for conservatives, except maybe a magazine or two like National Review. The only people who used the internet were some geeks in Palo Alto. There was no Drudge Report. No Breitbart. No kooks on YouTube spreading dangerous nonsense like they did every day about Obama.

“He’s a secret Muslim!”

“He hates America!”

“He’s a communist!”

And of course the truly nutty business about his birth certificate. People really had been brainwashed into believing Barack Obama was some Manchurian candidate planning to betray America.

Mark Levin was the first to go on the radio and spout off this crazy nonsense. It got him ratings, so eventually he dragged Hannity and Rush to Looneyville along with him. My longtime friend Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, was not immune to this. He got swept into the conspiracies and the paranoia and became an almost unrecognizable figure.

I’d known Ailes for a long time, since his work with George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s. He’d gone to college in Ohio, and since we had that connection, he sought me out at some event and introduced himself. Years later, in August of 1996, when I was in San Diego for the Republican National Convention, I ended up having dinner with Ailes and a veteran broadcasting executive named Rupert Murdoch. At that dinner they told me all about this new TV network they were starting. I had no idea I was listening to the outline of something that would make my life a living hell down the line. Sure enough, that October, Fox News hit the airwaves.

I kept in touch with Roger and starting in the early 2000s, I’d stop in and see him whenever I was in New York for fundraisers. We’d shoot the breeze and talk politics. We got to know each other pretty well.

Murdoch, on the other hand, was harder to know. Sometimes he’d invite me to watch the Super Bowl in the Fox box, or he’d stop by the office. Wherever he was, you could tell he was the man in charge. He was a businessman, pure and simple. He cared about ratings and the bottom line. He also wanted to make sure he was ahead of any political or policy developments coming down the line. He was always asking who was up, who was down, what bills could pass and what couldn’t. If he entertained any of the kooky conspiracy theories that started to take over his network, he kept it a secret from me. But he clearly didn’t have a problem with them if they helped ratings.

At some point after the 2008 election, something changed with my friend Roger Ailes. I once met him in New York during the Obama years to plead with him to put a leash on some of the crazies he was putting on the air. It was making my job trying to accomplish anything conservative that much harder. I didn’t expect this meeting to change anything, but I still thought it was bullshit, and I wanted Roger to know it.

When I put it to him like that, he didn’t have much to say. But he did go on and on about the terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, which he thought was part of a grand conspiracy that led back to Hillary Clinton. Then he outlined elaborate plots by which George Soros and the Clintons and Obama (and whoever else came to mind) were trying to destroy him.

“They’re monitoring me,” he assured me about the Obama White House. He told me he had a “safe room” built so he couldn’t be spied on. His mansion was being protected by combat-ready security personnel, he said. There was a lot of conspiratorial talk. It was like he’d been reading whacked-out spy novels all weekend.

And it was clear that he believed all of this crazy stuff. I walked out of that meeting in a daze. I just didn’t believe the entire federal government was so terrified of Roger Ailes that they’d break about a dozen laws to bring him down. I thought I could get him to control the crazies, and instead I found myself talking to the president of the club. One of us was crazy. Maybe it was me.

I have no idea what the relationship between Ailes and Murdoch was like, or if Ailes ever would go off on these paranoid tangents during meetings with his boss. But Murdoch must have thought Ailes was good for business, because he kept him in his job for years.

Places like Fox News were creating the wrong incentives. Sean Hannity was one of the worst. I’d known him for years, and we used to have a good relationship. But then he decided he felt like busting my ass every night on his show. So one day, in January of 2015, I finally called him and asked: “What the hell?” I wanted to know why he kept bashing House Republicans when we were actually trying to stand up to Obama.

“Well, you guys don’t have a plan,” he whined.

“Look,” I told him, “our plan is pretty simple: we’re just going to stand up for what we believe in as Republicans.”

I guess that wasn’t good enough for him. The conversation didn’t progress very far. At some point I called him a nut. Anyway, it’s safe to say our relationship never got any better.

Besides the homegrown “talent” at Fox, with their choice of guests they were making people who used to be fringe characters into powerful media stars. One of the first prototypes out of their laboratory was a woman named Michele Bachmann.

Bachmann, who had represented Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District since 2007 and made a name for herself as a lunatic ever since, came to meet with me in the busy period in late 2010 after the election. She wanted a seat on the Ways and Means Committee, the most powerful committee in the House. There were many members in line ahead of her for a post like this. People who had waited patiently for their turn and who also, by the way, weren’t wild-eyed crazies.

There was no way she was going to get on Ways and Means, the most prestigious committee in Congress, and jump ahead of everyone else in line. Not while I was Speaker. In earlier days, a member of Congress in her position wouldn’t even have dared ask for something like this. Sam Rayburn would have laughed her out of the city.

So I told her no—diplomatically, of course. But as she kept on talking, it dawned on me. This wasn’t a request of the Speaker of the House. This was a demand.

Her response to me was calm and matter-of-fact. “Well, then I’ll just have to go talk to Sean Hannity and everybody at Fox,” she said, “and Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and everybody else on the radio, and tell them that this is how John Boehner is treating the people who made it possible for the Republicans to take back the House.”

I wasn’t the one with the power, she was saying. I just thought I was. She had the power now.

She was right, of course.

She was a conservative media darling and, by then, the conservative media was already eyeing me skeptically. She had me where it hurt. Even if I wanted to help her, and I sure as hell didn’t, it wasn’t a decision I had the power to make on my own. That power belongs to a little-known but very important group called the Steering Committee.

I knew there was no way the Steering Committee would approve putting Bachmann on Ways and Means. The votes just weren’t there. If I even pushed the issue, they wouldn’t have let me leave the meeting without fastening me into a straitjacket. But then, Bachmann wouldn’t go on TV and the radio to explain the nuances of House Steering Committee procedure. She’d just rip my head off every night, over and over again. That was a headache I frankly didn’t want or need.

I suggested the House Intelligence committee to Bachmann as an alternative, and mercifully, she liked it. It would be a good perch for anyone wanting to build up their foreign policy chops for a run for president, which she was already considering— Lord help us all. None too pleased was the man preparing to take up the gavel as chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers from Michigan, an army veteran who had also served in the FBI. So I took my lumps from Rogers, and Bachmann took her seat on the committee.

The funny thing is, Michele Bachmann turned out to be a very focused, hardworking member—even though she spent a few months later in 2011 on a short-lived campaign for president. She showed up to the committee, did her homework, and ended up winning over her fellow members with her dedication. Mike Rogers was impressed—and I have to admit, so was I. The whole situation ended up working out well for everyone. As one of those old Boehnerisms goes, “Get the right people on the bus, and help them find the right seat.”

In January 2011, as the new Republican House majority was settling in and I was getting adjusted to the Speakership, I was asked about the birth certificate business by Brian Williams of NBC News. My answer was simple: “The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That’s good enough for me.” It was a simple statement of fact. But you would have thought I’d called Ronald Reagan a communist. I got all kinds of shit for it—emails, letters, phone calls. It went on for a couple weeks. I knew we would hear from some of the crazies, but I was surprised at just how many there really were.

All of this crap swirling around was going to make it tough for me to cut any deals with Obama as the new House Speaker. Of course, it has to be said that Obama didn’t help himself much either. He could come off as lecturing and haughty. He still wasn’t making Republican outreach a priority. But on the other hand—how do you find common cause with people who think you are a secret Kenyan Muslim traitor to America?

Under the new rules of Crazytown, I may have been Speaker, but I didn’t hold all the power. By 2013 the chaos caucus in the House had built up their own power base thanks to fawning right-wing media and outrage-driven fundraising cash. And now they had a new head lunatic leading the way, who wasn’t even a House member. There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless asshole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Senator Ted Cruz. He enlisted the crazy caucus of the GOP in what was a truly dumbass idea. Not that anybody asked me.

Snarky Snippets For A Snowy Day

I woke feeling a need for a bit of snarking this morning, and wouldn’t you know that I found plenty to be snarky about!


Family matters?

Yesterday I mentioned the republicans – 10 representatives and 7 senators –  who had the courage and conscience to stand up against Donald Trump, to vote to impeach and in the case of the senators, to convict on the impeachment charges.  The Republican Party, as I told you, is planning to censure them, a largely symbolic move, but one that will have repercussions the next time they come up for re-election.  None that I’m aware of, however, have faced the level of censure that Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger is facing:  his own family is disowning him!

He received a letter penned by his cousin, Karen Otto, and signed by six other family members, that starts out …

“Oh my, what a disappointment you are to us …”

It goes on to say that he has “joined the devil’s army”, referring to democrats.  But the part that made me laugh was when she said that “Donald Trump is not perfect, but … it is not up to us to judge”, and yet that is precisely what she is doing to her cousin!  Can we say ‘hypocrisy’?

Adam Kinzinger is a republican with republican ideologies … that did not change when he voted to impeach Donald Trump.  He merely saw what Trump had done, knew it wasn’t the right thing for anyone, let alone the president, to do, and decided that there should be consequences for Trump’s actions.  That’s it.  He did not go against his religion, as his cousin’s letter implied, nor did he set aside his republican views.  He found his conscience and said that there must be accountability.

I have a great deal of empathy for Mr. Kinzinger, for with a family like that, who needs enemies?  Read the entire letter here.  Ms. Otto ends by saying …

“Donald Trump has done more for the American people in four years than you, the Rino’s, and democrats have done in years!!”

This woman needs help!


Fox goes to the UK

Ol’ Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News is struggling financially and is the subject of a $2.7 billion lawsuit, is taking his show on the road, it seems … or rather, across the pond to the United Kingdom!  I hope he takes his nasty crew with him … Hannity, Ingraham, Pirro, Carlson and the rest.

According to an article in the New York Times

Rupert Murdoch and a competing group of investors are seizing this moment to create two upstart news services that will challenge the BBC and other broadcasters by borrowing heavily from Mr. Murdoch’s Fox playbook.

While Britain has long had a freewheeling, unabashedly partisan newspaper industry, critics say the last thing it needs after Brexit is a Fox-like news channel — one that could sow further divisions and open the door to the kinds of conspiracy theories nurtured by President Donald J. Trump, and amplified by Fox.

The service, which is to begin a low-key rollout in April, will promote Mr. Murdoch’s stable of British media properties, from The Sun, a mass-market tabloid, and The Times, an upmarket broadsheet, to Talk Radio, which offers Rush Limbaugh-style commentary. All skew to the right.

News UK TV will also skip breaking news coverage and feature shows with politically opinionated voices. But it is punching up the lighter side in its publicity. The first announced show, “News to Me,” will be hosted by Gordon Smart, a Scottish-born rock music aficionado who worked for The Sun.

Fox ‘News’ has played a large role in exacerbating the divisiveness in this country, and now Murdoch hopes to do the same in the UK.  I hope … I truly hope that his venture fails from the start.  Our friends in the UK have enough troubles without adding the Fox idiots whose only goal is to create hate.


Just a little ruckus

Senator Ron Johnson, a republican from Wisconsin, has been on my idiot radar for some time for a variety of idiotic things he’s said and done, but his recent comments about the January 6th attack on Congress and the Capitol take the cake …

“This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me. When you hear the word ‘armed,’ don’t you think of firearms? … To call that an armed insurrection, it was the most pitiful armed insurrection anyone could possibly imagine.”

Well, Mr. Johnson … perhaps while you were cowering in a closet, you didn’t notice the guns and other weapons.  Five people died, including a police officer, and two more officers have taken their own lives since then. Other police officers were so traumatized that they have reportedly contemplated self-harm, with one turning in her gun. Guns, bombs and stun guns were seized from members of the mob, while other rioters used wrenches, clubs and flagpoles as weapons. An officer has said that police “had been seizing guns all day.”

Gun-toting mobs chanting, “Hang Mike Pence” seems to me enough to label it an ‘armed insurrection’.  But, Johnson was one of the 43 republicans who voted to acquit Trump on the charge of inciting an insurrection, so I suppose Ronnie had to somehow justify his actions.  I suppose that, unlike Adam Kinzinger, Ron Johnson’s family is proud of him.  I’m not … I call him a coward and a bastard.

cartoon

Just Two Tidbits

Just a couple of tidbits I wanted to weigh in on today sans snark … well, okay, maybe there’s just a tiny bit of snark …


Has Fox found a conscience?

I’m not sure what is going on over at Fox ‘News’, but it almost seems as if they are trying to become a legitimate news network!  First, they were the first of all the major networks to call Arizona in Joe Biden’s favour at 11:20 p.m. on Tuesday – election night.  Needless to say, Trump was not happy, and Jared Kushner actually called Rupert Murdoch to complain.

And yesterday evening, Fox actually cut away from a news conference with White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany because she claimed without evidence that Democrats were inviting fraud and illegal voting.  WHOA!  This sounds like the work of an actual news station!  Has Fox fallen off the Trump bandwagon?

Fox’ anchor Neil Cavuto said, as the network cut away …

“Whoa, whoa, whoa … I just think we have to be very clear that she’s charging the other side as welcoming fraud and welcoming illegal voting. Unless she has more details to back that up, I can’t in good countenance continue showing you this.”

Cavuto is the same one who earlier this year found a backbone and said …

“Mr. President, we don’t work for you. I don’t work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you — just report on you.”

Another Fox anchor, Bret Baier, has also declined to fall in line with Trump’s claims of massive voter fraud, saying …

“Listen, we are not seeing any evidence of widespread fraud. We want to look into everything as well. But we just haven’t seen it. You know, it hasn’t been presented. There’s all kinds of stuff flying on the Internet. But when we look into it, it doesn’t pan out.”

Of course, Cavuto and Baier are on the news side of Fox.  The opinion people still play the game, with Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, Jeanine Pirro, and Sean Hannity claiming, without a shred of evidence, that Trump is right about massive voter fraud, and continuing to fawn over him.  If Rupert Murdoch intends to improve the credibility of Fox, then he needs to shut down the opinion side, or at least hire people who are not witless pawns.

It disappoints and disturbs me that some of the Fox staff have been receiving threatening calls and emails from people because they aren’t falling in with the Trump line of false rhetoric.  I always thought that the people of this nation were better than that, but over the past decade I’ve come to realize that a significant portion are not.


ACA – on the chopping block?

Maybe not.  I am pleased and somewhat surprised today to read that both Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts might not be so eager to strike down the Affordable Healthcare Act, aka Obamacare.

As you will remember, the penalty for the individual mandate requiring every individual to have at least a basic healthcare insurance plan, was reduced to zero in December 2017, when Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which eliminated the individual mandate penalty, effective January 1, 2019.  The mandate itself has remained but is not enforceable without the penalty.  At issue is whether the mandate is constitutional or not, and if not, then does that render the entirety of the Act unconstitutional.  Some, such as the newbie Justice Amy Barrett, have been hyper-critical of the previous Court rulings that upheld the ACA, but today, as the Supreme Court is reviewing the case, it seems possible that ACA may weather yet another storm.

“It does seem fairly clear that the proper remedy would be to sever the mandate provision and leave the rest of the law in place.” –  Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh

“I think it’s hard for you to argue that Congress intended the entire act to fall if the mandate were struck down when the same Congress that lowered the penalty to zero did not even try to repeal the rest of the act.” – Chief Justice John Roberts

Along with the three-remaining liberal-leaning justices – Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Elena Kagan, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor – it appears likely that ACA will remain, saving tens of thousands of people from suddenly finding themselves left without health insurance.

That there is such a deep partisan divide in the Court goes against what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the Constitution in 1787.  The goal was to have a non-partisan Court with moderate, fair justices who decided cases based on constitutional law, not their own ideologies.  Today, we are about as far from that as imaginable, and yet sometimes it still works properly.

Fox & Trump … Headed For Divorce?

Those of us seeking facts and real news do not watch Fox ‘News’, for ever since the day Donald Trump threw his hat in the ring in June 2015, Fox has been “Trump News”, slavishly pandering to him, finding innovative excuses for his terrible speech, lousy policies and horrific behaviours.  Even so, there have always been a few on the news side, Chris Wallace, Shepard Smith, and Bret Baier come to mind, who seemed more interested in reporting the news than in being known as just more of Trump’s sycophants.

Let’s be clear … almost every news outlet will have some political bias.  Overall, however, they should be reporting facts:  who, what, why, when, where, and how.  Fox, however, has largely become known as ‘State TV’, and with good reason.  Trump constantly watches Fox News, tweets out claims he hears on the network, reportedly speaks regularly with Sean Hannity, and gives the majority of his interviews to Fox News. World leaders as well as members of Congress quickly learned that one of the best ways to communicate a message to Trump is to say it on Fox News.

Experts in the field, such as Tom Rosenstiel, a media scholar and executive director at the American Press Institute, have long said that Fox has become largely a propaganda arm for Donald Trump, saying there is …

“… a kind of collaboration that has tilted the scales from Fox News doing opinion journalism with grounding in the principles of news to it being an extension of the administration whose purpose, while always commercial, has become focused on supporting the president — a political outcome — rather than covering him. That is when you tilt from journalism to becoming propaganda: when your goal is no longer informing the public but promoting a particular political outcome.”

But, all of that may be changing.  On March 20th of this year, Disney acquired Fox for $71.3 billion, from Rupert Murdoch, a long-time friend and associate of Trump’s.  Fox still has a number of Trump boot-lickers on its opinion side, such as Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Jeanine Pirro, Laura Ingraham, Anne Coulter and others, but the news side seems to be subtly changing, much to Trump’s annoyance.

Earlier this week, Fox anchor Sandra Smith interviewed Xochitl Hinojosa, the communications director for the Democratic National Committee, in which she discussed next month’s Democratic presidential debate, among other things.  Trump’s response?Trump-tweet-1

And then, to add insult to injury, he said that “Fox isn’t working for us anymore”.  Wow … so he admits they were working for him before?

Trump-tweet-2

But, the most encouraging part came when earlier today, Fox News’ Neil Cavuto pushed back.

“Mr. President, we don’t work for you. I don’t work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you. Just report on you. It is called being fair and balanced, Mr. President, yet it is fair to say you’re not a fan when that balance includes stuff you don’t like to hear or facts you don’t like to have questioned.”

Take a look …

The free press has taken numerous hits under the Trump reign, the first being on 17 February 2017, less than a month after his ill-fated inauguration, when Trump declared on Twitter that The New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS, and CNN were “fake news” and the “enemy of the people”.  This sets up a potentially dangerous situation, and has already had consequences, such as in Baltimore on 28 June 2018 when five people were killed by a gunman at The Baltimore Sun.  Fox has only exacerbated the situation with their near-constant unadulterated and lavish praise for even his lies.

Is it possible that Fox is turning a corner, that they wish to be viewed as a more legitimate news source, or that their new owners have a conscience?  Hmmm … that may be a bit of a stretch, and I will only believe it when they fire those who will sell their souls downriver to fawn over Trump’s every word, but it’s encouraging that Trump is now looking for another news source that will “work for him”.  Perhaps he could consider Breitbart?

Another Really, Really Rotten Choice …

Some days you have to ask yourself if somehow, in some way, you have slipped into a dystopian universe.  Up is down, inside is outside, big is little, and wrong has suddenly become right.  Point in case …

There are two vacancies on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and Trump has nominated a man named Stephen Moore to fill one of those vacancies.  Now, before I get into Mr. Moore and his qualifications, or lack thereof, remember that the purpose of the Federal Reserve in a nutshell is to ensure a stable economy. *

Federal Reserve board members (there are seven, which includes the Chairman and Vice Chairman) serve a term of fourteen years, and are paid an annual salary of $179,700, with the two at the top receiving $199,700.  It is a position of high trust, controlling such things as interest rates, banking regulations, managing inflation and more. Stephen MooreNow on to Stephen Moore.  First off, he is a great supporter of “supply-side” or “trickle down” economics.  Sigh.  HOW MANY TIMES do we have to prove that it does not work??? I made this point back in September 2017 with my post It Trickles Up … Not Down! In fact, Trump has proven it himself by giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy, stating that the money they saved in taxes would ‘trickle down’ to the consumer, to the working class.  It didn’t.  It never has. It never will.  In a 2012 paper, Moore wrote …

“Cutting taxes can have a near immediate and permanent impact, which is why we have advised Oklahoma, Kansas and other states to cut their income tax rates if they want the most effective immediate and lasting boost to their states’ economies.”

But wait … there is more NOT to love about Stephen Moore.

For starters, just looking at his affiliations sends up red flags. He is a member of the Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal, owned by none other than the owner of state television network Fox News, Rupert Murdoch.  And Mr. Moore is the Chief Economist at the Heritage Foundation.  For those who may not be aware, the Heritage Foundation is an American conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. and geared towards public policy. The foundation took a leading role in the conservative movement during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, whose policies were taken from Heritage’s policy study Mandate for Leadership. The foundation had a powerful say in the staffing of the Trump misfit administration, being largely responsible for the nominations of Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos, Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry, and Jeff Sessions.

In 2011, Mr. Moore divorced his wife, Allison.  In 2013, he was found in contempt of court for failing to pay more than $330,000 in spousal support, child support, attorney’s fees and a one-time fee to his ex-wife.  Moore had failed to pay six consecutive months of child support — and only a small fraction of the nearly $19,000 a month he had agreed to pay his ex-wife in the divorce settlement. Moore failed to respond to repeated requests from the Virginia court to make payments and did not show up for a deposition in the case. The court ordered him to sell his home to raise money to pay the debt and forced him to set up an automatic bank transfer each month.  Ever hear the term “deadbeat dad”?  Moore is one.

Mr. Moore currently owes $75,000 in unpaid federal taxes, interest and penalties, according to court documents filed last year. A lien for $75,328.80 from the 2014 tax year was entered against Mr. Moore at the request of the federal government in January 2018.  What he owes in back taxes for a single year is more than most of us make in a single year!  And he is too sorry to pay the government, when we would be in jail if we fell behind by a tenth that much?

Now, here we have a man who cannot manage his own personal finances, and yet Trump would elevate him to one of the most important positions in the overall economic health of the nation???  You might think that Mr. Moore would hang his head in shame and walk away from the nomination, but think again.

Two days ago, he stated emphatically that he has no intention of stepping aside.  “It’s full speed ahead.” And Trump & Co have no intention of withdrawing the nomination, according to Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, who said both he and Trump continue to support Mr. Moore for the Fed’s board of governors.

“I think he’ll make a great governor. We are standing fully behind his candidacy.”

beating head in disgustJust as with Trump’s cabinet picks, this one is among the worst possible choices.  We have people leading the Departments of Energy, Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who are climate change deniers and have ties to the fossil fuel industry.  We have a Secretary of Education who does not believe in public schools.  Then there’s Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce, who is the subject of a multi-million-dollar lawsuit claiming he stole from a former partner.  And let us not forget Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), who claims that poverty is “a state of mind”.  I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Trump cabinet.pngSadly for our nation, Mr. Moore’s nomination, just like all those above, and like Brett Kavanaugh who now sits on the Supreme Court despite many disqualifications, will be confirmed by the republican-majority Senate.  And We the People have no voice in this.  Unless there are actually some republican senators who have a bit of decency left, a bit of honour and integrity, and the cojones to defy Trump, then this misfit, just like all those before him, will be confirmed.


*For an easy-to-understand summation of the Federal Reserve, I recommend this article, The Federal Reserve and What It Does 

The “president” is a Son-of-a-Bitch

Let’s start with a simple question:  If you are invited to visit a friend, and your own house is in a shambles, dirty because you haven’t cleaned it in months, are you likely to harshly criticize your friend’s housekeeping skills when her house if nearly immaculate?  And to do so publicly, announcing to the neighborhood at large?  I think not.  Why? Because you are sensible, kind and truthful.

Who does Donald Trump think he is?  He was, though only by the minority and not the majority, elected to be the president of the United States.  He was not elected Prime Minister of the UK.  He was not elected President of NATO.  He was only elected to be the president (no caps) of what is fast becoming the most despised nation on the face of the earth.

I won’t even bother addressing just now his abhorrent performance – yes, that is what all his public appearances are, performances – at NATO on Wednesday and early Thursday, but will skip right on to his epic failure in the UK yesterday afternoon.

Donald Trump decided to give an interview to one media outlet in the UK, The Sun. First off, guess who owns The Sun?  None other than Rupert Murdoch, the very same Rupert Murdoch who owns Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, among others.  It is considered Britain’s most right-wing newspaper, or actually more of a tabloid.

The SunThe interview had been done on Wednesday in Brussels, and was strategically scheduled to be published during Trump’s first evening in London.  There can be no doubt … no doubt at all that it was an attempt to add insult to injury as Ms. May is struggling to maintain her position in light of the opposition to the soft Brexit deal she announced earlier this week.  Trump also praised May’s antagonist, Boris Johnson, and alluded to him as a future Prime Minister, further indicating his attempt to influence the fate of Ms. May’s government.

A few of his most obnoxious remarks from the interview (and of course I could not resist adding my own commentary):

“I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t listen to me.”  (And why should she listen to the words of a dishonest ‘man’?)

“The deal she is striking is a much different deal than the one people voted on.” (He didn’t even know what Brexit was in early 2016!)

“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the U.K., so it will probably kill the deal.”  (A mind is a terrible thing to waste)

“I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London. I used to love London as a city. I haven’t been there in a long time. But when they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay there?”  (You’re finally getting the message — they don’t want you, Bozo!)

On London Mayor Sadiq Khan: “Take a look at the terrorism that is taking place. Look at what is going on in London. I think he has done a very bad job on terrorism. I think he has done a bad job on crime, if you look, all of the horrible things going on there, with all of the crime that is being brought in.”  (Not your place to judge, Donnie boy — you don’t even understand your own job, so don’t try to tell someone else how to do theirs)

“I have a lot of respect for Boris [Johnson]. He obviously likes me and says very good things about me. I was very saddened to see he was leaving government, and I hope he goes back in at some point. I think he is a great representative for your country. I am just saying I think he would be a great prime minister. I think he’s got what it takes.” (Just proves that Johnson is a lousy judge of character)

Last month, Trump very rudely and using false pretenses offended Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after the disastrous G7 summit where Trump should have been put outside with the canines, based on his behaviour.  And this month, he has gone beyond simply insulting the Prime Minister of the UK, but has attempted to undermine the job she is working hard to do.

Trump-May.jpg

What the heck is Melania wearing — the curtains???

Although I did not vote for Trump and have never supported him in any way, I still feel I owe all my UK friends a humble apology.  Please forgive us, our nation, for being too stupid to see what an ignominious jackass our so-called president is and allowing him to remain in office.  I’m sorry.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who I actually defended recently, saying that she didn’t deserve the public embarrassment she was subjected to when she was asked to leave a restaurant, went above and beyond her usual dog-and-pony show lies:

“The President likes and respects Prime Minister May very much. As he said in his interview with the Sun she ‘is a very good person’ and he ‘never said anything bad about her.’”

Bullpoop.

His behaviour and his interview with The Sun were abominable.  Extremely unprofessional, un-presidential, crass, rude and whatever other adjective you can think of to insert.  Make no mistake — this is a serious diplomatic blunder for the U.S., and one that will likely have long-reaching ramifications for both the U.S. and the UK.  I do not see how it can possibly fail to erode the relations between our two nations.  Donald Trump has absolutely no right to interfere in the negotiations between the UK and EU regarding Brexit.  It is not his fight.

It is worth noting that Trump is not capable of taking care of his own house, is doing a terrible job at home, and yet here he is trying to tell all of NATO what they must do, and now trying to tell the Prime Minister of the UK how she should do her job!  As I said in the beginning, the United States is well on the way to becoming the most despised nation on the earth.  All because of one ‘man’.  Well no, wait, actually the blame must be shared by 62,985,115 others.  The 62,984,828 who voted for him, and the 287 republicans in Congress (51 in the Senate and 236 in the House of Representatives) who have been slavishly licking his boots every day since 20 January 2017.  Thank you all for making our nation the worst it has been since 1865.  Each and every one of you deserve what’s coming your way.  Sadly, the other 265,134,207 of us in the U.S. do not deserve the abomination you have unleashed on us, and the rest of the world does not either!

Freedom of the Press … Abused!!!

Turn on the television, grab your coffee and cozy up to watch the news before bedtime.  Thanks to the U.S. Constitution and the 1st Amendment of said document, you can be assured that your favourite newscasters are free to bring you a relatively fact-based newscast and you will come away informed and enlightened, right?  Well, guess what, folks … we have, once again, been duped.  By whom, you ask?  That is a question with more than one answer, but let us start with the nefarious campaign to elect Donald Trump in 2016.  And from there, we move on to the nation’s largest operator of local television stations, Sinclair Broadcast Group, operating 193 stations in over 100 cities.

What links the Trump campaign and Sinclair?  According to Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, the campaign and Sinclair struck a deal whereby Sinclair would be given extended access to Trump in exchange for Sinclair-owned stations broadcasting all speeches by Trump sans commentary.  In other words, unlike CNN and others, no criticism allowed.  In and of itself, this may not seem like such a big deal, but …

One of Sinclair’s stations, an ABC-affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle, Washington, tells us Sinclair is forcing its reporters to air pre-scripted segments about fake news media, in an attempt to undermine non-Sinclair stations.  Below is the script that was sent to all stations to be read on air:

Hi, I’m(A) ____________, and I’m (B) _________________…

(B) Our greatest responsibility is to serve our Northwest communities. We are extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that KOMO News produces.

(A) But we’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media.

(B) More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories… stories that just aren’t true, without checking facts first.

(A) Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’…This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.

(B) At KOMO it’s our responsibility to pursue and report the truth. We understand Truth is neither politically ‘left nor right.’ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.

(A) But we are human and sometimes our reporting might fall short. If you believe our coverage is unfair please reach out to us by going to KOMOnews.com and clicking on CONTENT CONCERNS. We value your comments. We will respond back to you.

(B) We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced and factual… We consider it our honor, our privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day.

(A) Thank you for watching and we appreciate your feedback.

Some of it actually sounds fair, sounds like the right thing to say, but it gives the appearance that they and only they are the ones trying to provide honest and unbiased reporting.  Knowing that they have an agreement to present Trump and his agenda in a most favourable light makes me question their actual intent. We have all asked ourselves how it is that the 37% or so that still say Trump is doing a good job can actually believe it.  I have put forth a number of theories over the past year or more, ranging from lack of education, apathy, selfishness, ignorance, etc.  But in light of this story, I have done some thinking.  I have sufficient time to spend several hours a day trolling the news, checking and double checking to make sure I understand and have the facts straight.  But most people don’t have that luxury.  When I still worked 10-12 hour days, I didn’t have time.  At 11:00 each night, I watched the news on my local station and really had no choice but to rely on them to give me correct facts and tell me what I needed to know.  That was all the time I could spare, that half-hour.  The vast majority of people are in that boat today, and what they are being fed is not always the truth, not always unbiased.  I have always known Fox News was biased, leaned heavily conservative … how could it be otherwise with Rupert Murdoch at the helm.  But I’ve long had a fair amount of trust in the “Big Three” – ABC, NBC, CBS.  I now know that trust was misplaced. Of the stations owned by Sinclair, 33 are ABC affiliates, 27 are CBS, and 22 are NBC.  43 are Fox affiliates.  You can find which of your local stations are owned by Sinclair here.

Sinclair regularly runs disinformation segments favorable to President Trump and packaged as actual political analysis and news coverage. Sinclair is currently awaiting approval on its proposed purchase of Tribune Media, which owns or operates 42 broadcast television stations in 33 markets, according to its official FCC filing. If the purchase is approved, Sinclair will be able to broadcast to at least 70 percent of American households.

Take a look at this John Oliver clip addressing Sinclair and it’s schemes:

The Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, but it does not guarantee that the press will operate with integrity.  It is up to We The People to hold the media outlets accountable, to find ways to verify, to confirm what they tell us, and to call them out when they get it wrong, ultimately finding other sources if amends and changes are not made.  WE are the customers and WE must demand they provide unbiased, straight journalism. With Trump’s handpicked Ajit Pai serving as director of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), we can no longer afford to wait for the FCC to deal with this situation, as they once would have.  Today, with the Internet, we have a vast amount of information literally at our fingertips, but sometimes there is so much that it is difficult to know what to believe.  I find it unconscionable that any media outlet would be willing to support the agenda of a single political group or individual to the exclusion of others.  They are letting us down and frankly they are making a mockery of the 1st amendment.

Is The Mueller Investigation In Danger?

The investigation by Robert Mueller began by Trump’s own hand.  When, on 09 May 2017, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, he set the wheels in motion for the appointment of a Special Counsel, for the firing looked suspicious from the beginning.  According to Comey, Trump had asked Comey to pledge his loyalty to Trump, and had also requested that Comey drop the investigation into Michael Flynn’s activities as related to the Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election.  Comey refused on both counts. So, Trump instigated, unknowingly and unwittingly, the appointment of Robert Mueller.

Robert Mueller has conducted his investigation in the most professional manner, selecting his team members carefully to ward off any question of impropriety, and even relieving one of duty when he allegedly sent text messages to his girlfriend that were critical of Trump.  There has not been so much as a breath of scandal from any of his team, no leaks, nothing inappropriate.  He has operated, as he must, under a cloak of silence.  However, when Michael Flynn pleaded guilty as charged, and others were either indicted or pled guilty, including George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, it became impossible to keep everything under wraps, and it was obvious that Mike Flynn was willingly cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

All of this sent panic throughout Team Trump, and now we are seeing some pushback from Trump’s minions who are running scared and when they get scared, they turn to lies, insinuations, conspiracy theories and unjustified attacks, for they have no legitimate grounds to counter the reality that in all likelihood, Donald Trump himself was responsible for much of the Russian attempts to skew our election.

So, what is happening and why does it matter?

Critics, especially among the state-media such as Fox, Breitbart and the Wall Street Journal, (it should be noted that Fox and the Wall Street Journal are both owned by Rupert Murdoch, a large donor of Trump’s)  have been calling for Mueller to be fired almost since day #1, so it may be easy to just write off the latest as just more smoke and mirrors from Trump and his paid media outlets. But the tone and frequency has increased, as the panic level among Trump & Co. rises.  A few examples …

  • “Mueller is corrupt. The senior FBI is corrupt. The system is corrupt.” – Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House
  • “There is a cleansing needed at the FBI and Department of Justice. It needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired but need to be taken out in handcuffs.” – Fox host Jeanine Pirro
  • A conservative watchdog group has filed a lawsuit to pry loose information about special counsel investigators.
  • “A witch hunt continues against the president with tremendous bias, no purpose and no end in sight.” – Representative Matt Gaetz
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders signaled that the White House has concerns that the special counsel might be biased against Trump.

It should be noted that these are vague attacks, with no basis in fact, not attacking anything that Mueller has done or failed to do, just that he must be corrupt if he is investigating Trump. Mueller’s investigation and the criminal charges he has brought so far appear solid and do not suggest any partisan bias. In fact, it should further be noted that both Robert Mueller and James Comey are registered republicans.

What could happen next?

Could Trump fire Mueller?  Of course … he could order Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller, or if Rosenstein refused, he would be forced to resign just as were Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus when they refused to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.  But, going down the line of succession, Trump would ultimately find someone willing to sacrifice values and fire Mueller, just as Solicitor General Robert Bork fired Cox.  So, the answer to the question is yes, Trump can have Mueller fired.  What happens if he does?

John Q. Barrett, a St. John’s University law professor, says “Robert Mueller is widely perceived as a competent and credible law enforcement official. As long as he doesn’t do something to jeopardize that, Trump would have no justification for dismissing him. And if he did, he’d have to appoint an equally credible replacement, or there would be really catastrophic political consequences.”

Comforting, but still, with both chambers of Congress in control of the republicans and seemingly willing to do Trump’s bidding these days, I would rather not put Barrett’s theory to the test.  I think the investigation has passed the point of no return and cannot be shut down, but it could certainly be delayed, and I think it is imperative that we know the truth, and the sooner the better.

Keep your eyes on the ball, folks, for I cannot predict where this will go.  Ordinarily, I would say that a president would be a damn fool to fire the Special Counsel at this point, for it would be a blatant admission of guilt.  But these are, as we all know, not normal times and Trump is not a normal ‘president’.  When he panics, he is irrational … wait, he is irrational at all times!  So, if he feels threatened enough, I do not know what he might do.  Remember that there are many distractions and smokescreens out there, so don’t be distracted, and try to keep up with the critical issues.

Note to readers:  I initially identified three areas that I felt had to be addressed post haste, the Alabama senate election, the tax reform bill reconciliation, and the attacks on the Mueller investigation.  I have since been advised by at least three readers, and granddaughter Miss Goose, that I need to include a fourth topic, Net Neutrality, to the list.  You are all correct, and I shall address that one tomorrow.  For tonight, Filosofa is 10-7, over and out.