More CHAOS In The Oval Office

Thirty-three months Donald Trump has spent tweeting from the potty in the Oval Office, and in that time, he has broken more norms than all the presidents of the 20th and 21st centuries combined!  I am not even addressing his hate-filled spew, his denigration of all who oppose him, but simply the things he has done that will cause this nation troubles for decades to come.

On Monday, it was announced that National Security Advisor John Bolton is no longer an employee of the U.S. government.  It’s debatable whether he resigned, or Trump fired him, and it really matters very little, for the end result is the same either way.  What this means, though, is that now Trump is seeking to hire a new National Security Advisor – it will be his fourth in less than three years.

flynnThe first, of course, was Mike Flynn who took up his position on the day of Trump’s inauguration, 20 January 2017, and lasted exactly 24 days, resigning after information surfaced that he had misled the FBI about the nature and content of his communications with Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

McMasterThe second was General Herbert Raymond (H.R.) McMaster, who took office on 20 February 2017, just one week after Flynn’s resignation, and he lasted an entire 413 days, until 09 April 2018!  McMaster either resigned or was fired by Trump and his imminent departure announced by Twitter 18 days before his departure date.  The issue between McMaster and Trump was McMaster’s disagreement about foreign policy decisions, particularly those involving Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

bolton-near-tearsAnd then, on April 9th last year, came John Bolton, the one who has had itchy fingers to bomb Iran for decades.  Bolton lasted 499 days, until Monday when he either tendered his resignation, or Trump tendered his bootheel.  Bolton was a war hawk who, given a choice would prefer settling differences by war rather than diplomacy.  He had long advocated for regime change in Iran, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba, Yemen and North Korea.  He supported the Iraq war, supported withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, and was a staunch critic of President Obama.

So, what happened between Bolton and Trump?  Trouble has apparently been brewing for a while over the same things Trump and McMaster fell out over – policy differences over Iran, North Korea, and recently Afghanistan.  But, it is said that the straw that broke the camel’s back was Trump’s plan to host the leaders of the Taliban at Camp David just days before the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  Trump ultimately canceled the visit anyway, though likely not for the reason he claimed, but he was said to be furious with Bolton for disagreeing with him in the first place.

KuppermanSo, what comes next.  Trump says he will announce his new choice next week, but meanwhile, the position will be filled by the Deputy National Security Advisor, Charles Kupperman.  Kupperman came on board 11 January 2018 and is said to be a war hawk very similar to Bolton.  His tenure is likely to be short-lived.

Who, then, might Trump select to fill the slot this time?  Speculation runs rampant, and for once, Trump seems to be keeping his mouth shut!  Some names that are being floated are …

  • Fred Fleitz, Bolton’s former chief of staff
  • Keith Kellogg, a retired lieutenant general and a former acting national security adviser
  • Jack Keane, a retired Army vice chairman currently advising the vice president on national security
  • Robert Blair, an adviser to acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney
  • Robert C. O’Brien, the administration’s hostage envoy who called Mr. Trump the greatest hostage negotiator in American history Seriously??? 
  • Stephen E. Biegun, United States’ special representative for North Korea
  • Brian H. Hook, special representative for Iran and a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
  • Douglas Macgregor, retired Army colonel who has written several books on reorganizing the military; is also a frequent guest on one of Trump’s favorite Fox programs, “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
  • Richard Grenell, U.S. ambassador to Germany who stirred much ire when he first arrived

One foreign policy analyst said that no matter who he hires, the position is no longer as important, for it has been diluted and in essence is likely to be just another ‘yes-man’ to Trump, lending legitimacy to whatever crazy schemes Trump comes up with.

It has been Trump’s tradition since taking office to replace outgoing staff with ones who are even worse for the sake of the nation than their predecessor.  If he continues along that path, then my money is on Douglas Macgregor, if for no other reason than he really hasn’t much relevant experience, but mainly because of his ties to Tucker Carlson and Fox ‘News’.

Trump has more ‘acting’ directors in his cabinet than any president before him, nearly three years into his term.  The Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Aviation Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Federal Emergency Management Agency are but a few of the departments who have no nominated and confirmed leader.  And, of course there is acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who also currently serves as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Except for Mulvaney’s position, all the others require Senate confirmation, which is likely why there are no nominees yet.

Acting officials can serve for no more than 210 days, or 7 months.  Trump claims he prefers to have ‘acting’ directors because …

“It’s easier to make moves when they’re acting. I like ‘acting’ because I can move so quickly. It gives me more flexibility.”

In other words, it makes it easier for him to do whatever he damn well pleases.  There will be many words associated with Trump and his administration in the history books – most are not nice words.  One word that must be the keyword of Trump’s nightmarish administration is “chaos”.  We are not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.

A Basketful of Snippets (The Snarky Kind)

Something caught my eye this morning, blatant racist behaviour by cops – the people we are told to respect and look up to.  But first … there was this by Fox News’ own Tucker Carlson …

tucker-carlson

“Duh … who me?”

“If you were to assemble a list, a hierarchy of concerns, problems this country has, where would white supremacy be on the list? Right up there with Russia probably. It’s actually not a real problem in America. This is a hoax. Just like the Russia hoax, it’s a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power.”

Now, keeping in mind Mr. Carlson’s claim that white supremacy is naught but a ‘hoax’, a ‘conspiracy theory’, consider the following …

I was incredulous, couldn’t believe what I was reading.  Surely this was a joke, albeit a sick one?  But no … this was no joke.  It happened in Galveston, Texas, last Saturday when police arrested Donald Neely on suspicion of criminal trespassing, though there is no indication that Mr. Neely did anything wrong … seems like he was just the wrong colour, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.  Two white officers, identified only as P. Brosch and A. Smith, were on horseback when they saw Mr. Neely, who is African-American, and decided to arrest him.

The officers both had radios and could have called for a squad car to pick up Mr. Neely.  But they did not do that.  Instead, they put him in handcuffs, behind his back, then attached a rope to the cuffs, re-mounted their horses, and pulled Mr. Neely down the street by the rope.Donald-Neely-arrestA couple of passersby saw this abomination and took pictures and videos.  Needless to say, the community, or at least part of it, was incensed.  Galveston police chief Vernon Hale offered a tepid apology …

“First and foremost, I must apologize to Mr. Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment … I believe our officers showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of arrest … my officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest.”

Poor judgment???  No malicious intent???  If you buy into that one, come see me, for I’ve got a great bridge I’ll sell you cheap.  The officers, as of this writing, have not been disciplined nor terminated.  Anybody else thinking “Jim Crow”?


In other news …

  • You guys remember a few weeks ago when I got banned from Twitter for a day for calling Ann Coulter a ‘bimbo’? Well, guess who’s been banned now?  No, no … not me.  @TeamMitch, Mitch McConnell’s campaign account.  Remember that picture I showed you of the faux tombstones, one with McConnell’s opponent, Amy McGrath’s name on it?  Well, since he posted that picture to his campaign account on Twitter, that account is banned until they agree to take the photo down!  So, perhaps Twitter does have some standards after all.  Now, if they would just ban Trump for all his bluster, ranting and lies …

  • Remember back in July, when Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced her resignation as White House Press Secretary? Trump then replaced her with Stephanie Grisham, who until that time had been Melania Trump’s personal slave spokeswoman, but we have seen nothing of her since then!  Nary a press briefing has she held, not even an impromptu gathering on the White House lawn.  Hmmmm … suspicious?

  • But, speaking of press secretaries, Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley, Grisham’s second-in-command, criticized President Obama, saying that while Trump is trying to “move the country forward”, Obama is taking it “to a dark place that we never want to be and we never want to visit again”. Say WHAT???  Presumably he was referring to Obama’s speech earlier this week where he urged us to reject leaders who stoke fear and hatred and normalize racism, but I have no idea how that is taking us to a dark place.  Seems to me it is Trump who’s taking us to a dark place.

  • BrockwaySpeaking of a dark place … here’s a sample of some ‘great’ behaviour. Curt James Brockway took umbrage, I guess, with a child age 13 who failed to remove his hat at an event at the Mineral County (Montana) Fair on Saturday when the national anthem was played.  The kid wasn’t being obnoxious, he just didn’t remove his hat, which is certainly his prerogative.  But ol’ Curt decided to slam the kid into the ground and the child suffered a concussion and temporal skull fractures.  Oh, and by the way, much of the fair is sponsored by the NRA.  Tell you anything?curt-brockway-assault

  • One last snippet, and this one will have you rolling your eyes and shaking your heads. It involves Trump’s buddy Steve Bannon, so don’t look for logic.  Bannon claims that the El Paso shooting was actually a sign of how ‘great’ Trump’s economy is!  That’s right, folks … if the economy were not so great, all those people wouldn’t have been in Wal-Mart (never mind that people only shop at Wal-Mart when they cannot afford to go elsewhere) and that the shooter wouldn’t have had anybody to shoot.  And as for the democrats, according to Bannon … “What the Democratic candidates are attacking is the Trump miracle.”  Stop shaking your heads now, else you’ll develop a rattle up there … trust me, I’ve had one for a while now.

And on that note, I will leave you to go find a more peaceful blog to read.  Something fun and uplifting.  Might I suggest this one by Gottfried over at Banter Republic … he’s always good for a bit of humour!

Still More Snarky Snippets …

Having awakened this morning with a growing sense of angst, I decided it must be time for some snarky snippets …


It’s a late April Fool’s joke, right?

I am amused by an OpEd headline in The Washington Post yesterday …

Trump’s Plan For Peace Will Be Bold.  Here’s How It Can Succeed.

Say WHAT???  Peace?  Trump?  Those two words do not even belong in the same sentence!  The writer, Michael Singh, implies that Trump even has a ‘plan’ for peace between Israel and Palestine.  First off, he doesn’t, for planning is something that is beyond Trump’s comprehension.  He operates on ‘mood of the moment’, not well thought out plans.  Secondly, he has already proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he doesn’t understand the Middle East at all.

But the part that really made me laugh was the simple word:  peace.  Trump has divided his own nation so severely that I don’t foresee a reconciliation at any point in the future and am more inclined to think this nation will ultimately become two … or more.  Antagonism, bullying and battle, not peace, is Trump’s forte.  Mr. Singh apparently drank a bit too much of that Kool Aid.


Caught in the act …

tucker-carlsonTucker Carlson, who I consider one of the most bombastic fools of the 21st century, had his 15 minutes in the spotlight last week.  Turns out he’s always been an idiot, as evidenced by some decade-old radio recordings unearthed by Media Matters for America.  A few samples …

  • He claimed Iraqis don’t “behave like human beings” and said he had “zero sympathy” for Iraqis or their culture during a May 2006 discussion of the Iraq War on the popular radio show. “A culture where people just don’t use toilet paper or forks,” Carlson said—adding that Iraqis should “just shut the f*** up and obey” the U.S. because “they can’t govern themselves.”
  • He said immigrants should have “something to offer”—like being “hot” or “really smart.” “But people to come over and pick lettuce, I mean, I’m not saying that’s an undignified… but on the other hand, is that—are those people who are going to build, you know, a stronger country 20 years from now?”
  • “My — here’s my point: If a guy wants to be polygamist, that’s kind of his business.”
  • “A teacher who molested a 13-year-old took pressure off the victim’s female classmates because they wouldn’t have to sleep with him.”
  • “If you’re talking to a feminist, and she’s given you, ‘Well, men really need to be more sensitive,’ no, actually, men don’t need to be more sensitive. You just need to be quiet and kind of do what you’re told.”

If that last one didn’t make your blood boil …

Now, lest you think that ol’ Tucker (who names their kid ‘Tucker’, anyway?) was ashamed and apologetic … think again!

“Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch. Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why.”

What a guy, eh?


Oranges???

I have long said that Trump is functionally illiterate.  The ‘man’ cannot seem to so much as string a simple sentence together that makes any sense.  He talks rather like the mobsters in the old mob movies, if you ask me.  This week, he has gone out of his way to prove my point.

The ‘oranges’ of the investigation?  Obviously, he was trying to say ‘origins’, but failed miserably.  Origins isn’t really that difficult to say, now is it?  Perhaps he hadn’t had his lunch yet and food was on his brain.  Or perhaps … just a thought … he really doesn’t know any better!dumb trumpWhile I’m in the Trump-mocking mode, what about his claim … repeated claim … that his father was born in Germany? While declaring his love for Germany, Trump said he’s proud that his father was born in the country. “Born in a very wonderful place in Germany, so I have a great feeling for Germany,” Trump said. Fred Trump was born in the Bronx.

A lie by any other name is still a lie.  He’s told so many of them that he genuinely seems not to know where truth stops and lies begin.


That’s it – blame the democrats …

Good ol’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders, one of Trump’s most loyal boot-lickers.  I used to think Sarah was at least capable of coherent thought, but she has worked hard to disabuse me of that notion.  Perhaps it is something in the air surrounding Trump that causes brain damage.Sarah.jpgYesterday, at an impromptu gathering on the White House lawn, Sarah was asked by a reporter by what statute, by what authority Trump felt it was within his power to shut down the Mexico-U.S. border as he has threatened.  Her response?

“Democrats are leaving us absolutely no choice at this point.”

Positively brilliant answer, Sarah … now go on back inside and colour some more pretty pictures.


Okay, I feel better now that I got all that off my chest!  Carry on, friends, and have a great rest-of-the-day!

More Snarky Snippets

The headline catches my eye …

Fox News: The Arrest Of Roger Stone Was Worse Than Benghazi

I ponder … dig through my dusty memory bank.  As I recall, there were a number of fatalities during the attack on the American diplomatic compound and the CIA annex, four of them U.S. citizens. And I seem to remember 11 non-fatal injuries, again four of them U.S. citizens, the rest Libyan.  So … were people killed when FBI agents pounded on Mr. Stone’s door, yelling, “Open up … FBI!”?  Who died?  I hadn’t heard that there were deaths and injuries, had you? fox-stone-raid

I read the article …thearticleI really liked both of the comments. Look, Fox people, Roger Stone is far from an innocent citizen peacefully minding his own business.  He is into the Trump-Russia scandal so deep that I’m surprised he can still breathe.  Stone has been a piece of trash for decades.  For once, he got a taste of what he deserves.  Enough said. Grow up and knock off with the Benghazi comparison, for there simply isn’t one.


Now, remember I cautioned you yesterday that while we are watching that giant Trump-a-ganza of a circus complete with clowns and elephants, there are things going on that we should be aware of?  Well, here is one of those things …

Trump plan to reclassify nuclear waste alarms environmental groups

The Trump administration wants to reclassify some radioactive waste left from the production of nuclear weapons to lower its threat level and make disposal cheaper and easier. The proposal by the U.S. Department of Energy would lower the status of some high-level radioactive waste in several places around the nation, including the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state — the most contaminated nuclear site in the country. Reclassifying the material to low-level could save the agency billions of dollars and decades of work by essentially leaving the material in the ground, critics say. – Associated Press, 10 December 2018

hanfordsiteFacilities which would be affected include the country’s most highly contaminated: the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, which takes up an area half the size of Rhode Island. Opened in 1943, the site produced the plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan in 1945, according to its website. The production of nuclear materials carried on until 1987, leaving behind waste that threatened the local environment, prompting the state and federal authorities — including the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — to pledge in 1987 to clean up the site, without success.

Other facilities mentioned in the plans are the Savannah River Plant, South Carolina and the Idaho National Laboratory, according to the Associated Press.  Oh … and speaking of the Savannah River site …

US secretly shipped plutonium from South Carolina to Nevada

WTF???  According to the AP report …

The U.S. Department of Energy revealed on Wednesday that it secretly shipped weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina to a nuclear security site in Nevada months ago despite the state’s protests.

The Justice Department notified a federal judge in Reno that the government trucked in the radioactive material to store at the site 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Las Vegas before Nevada first asked a court to block the move in November.

Department lawyers said in a nine-page filing that the previously classified information about the shipment from South Carolina can be disclosed now because enough time has passed to protect national security. They didn’t specify when the one-half metric ton of plutonium was transferred.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said he’s “beyond outraged by this completely unacceptable deception.” He announced at a hastily called news conference in Carson City late Wednesday the state is now seeking another court order to block any more shipments of plutonium as it pursues “any and all legal remedies,” including contempt of court orders against the federal government.

Secretary of Energy … Rick Perry … the same Rick Perry who, back in 2017, said that increased use of fossil fuels will lead to a reduction in sexual assaults.  Save a buck at the potential cost of ours and future generations lives.  What could possibly go wrong?


Here we go again …

Last week, the Trump administration announced it will allow a ministry in South Carolina that only works with heterosexual Christian families to participate in a federally funded foster care program.

That means Miracle Hill Ministries can receive federal funding to participate in the program while discriminating against non-Christians, as well as the LGBT community.

WTF???  When did it become okay for a religious organization to receive federal funds?  And when did it become okay to discriminate???

The organization was in violation of a regulation issued by the Obama administration that states organizations receiving funds from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can’t discriminate on the basis of religion or sexual orientation.

But Trump’s HHS, under Secretary Alex Azar, issued an exemption for the ministry to participate in the program, writing that to force it out would be a violation of its religious freedom.  No, no it would not be a violation at all of its religious freedom, but it is a violation of the concept of separation of church and state to allow this bigoted religious organization to collect federal funding.  Period.  What is so damn hard to understand about that concept?


From the ‘You’ve Got To Be Kidding?’ Annals …

You remember Sebastian Gorka, right?  He served briefly as an ‘advisor’ to Trump in 2017, until his connections to an anti-Semitic group in Hungary became known.  He’s never quite gone away though, and is now a contributor to Fox News.  His latest …gorka-rbg

First of all, Gorky, Ruth Bader Ginsburg does NOT ‘have to’ attend the State of the Union address.  If you will look back to last year, she did not attend the State of the Union address then, for she was in Rhode Island for a late-morning “fireside chat” at Roger Williams University’s law school before speaking at a temple in Providence later that evening.  There is no ‘requirement’ that anybody attend!  And second of all, YOU cannot even spell her name right!

But there’s even more.  Remember that fringe group, Q-Anon?  They have put forth the conspiracy theory that RBG is hiding a secret illness, or she is dead.  FOR PETE’S SAKE — do these fools have nothing better to do than sit around and think up fairy tales???  Couldn’t they, perhaps, do something useful to contribute to this world?


Well, now that I’ve got all that out of my system, I’m going to bed.  G’day, my friends!

So What’s New, Eh?

Yesterday, Donald Trump spoke at the United Nations Security Council, and then later in the day held a “news conference”.  Here are just a few tidbits from those, with my usual snarky snippets in blue:

Yesterday, Donald Trump accused China of meddling in the upcoming mid-term elections.  It isn’t bad enough that he spouts this idiocy on Twitter most often, but this time he spewed forth at the meeting of the United Nations Security Council in front of leaders from other nations who are actually far more knowledgeable than Trump.  He offered no evidence, saying only …

“Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election, coming up in November, against my administration. They don’t want me or us to win because I am the first president to ever challenge China on trade. We don’t want them to interfere in our upcoming election.”  You aren’t running this year, dipshit!

When asked about the evidence of such election-meddling, he replied …

“We have evidence. It’ll come out. It didn’t come out of nowhere. They’ve actually admitted that they’re going after farmers. I like China, and I like President Xi a lot.” Translation:  There is no evidence and I’m just covering my bases and laying the groundwork to contest any races won by democrats in November.

U.S. Intelligence agencies have said they see Russian interference as the prime outside threat to the security of the 2018 elections.  Trump’s own advisors seemed blindsided by his comments.

But the day got even better, when Trump did a news conference in the afternoon.

“If you look at Mr. Pillsbury, the leading authority on China, he was on a good show — I won’t mention the name of the show — recently. And he was saying that China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump’s very, very large brain.”  Somebody, please wake me from this nightmare, else shoot me now!

‘Mr. Pillsbury’ is Michael Pillsbury, the Hudson Institute’s director for Chinese strategy, and he confirmed that the show did take place, but says it was actually Fox News’ own Tucker Carlson who made the claim about Trump’s “very, very large brain”!  And the “good show” was Carlson’s own Fox show! Tucker Carlson.  Fox News.  Not China.  And here was Mr. Pillsbury’s response to Trump’s remark …

“I’m delighted President Trump said I’m “the leading authority on China” but this praise will actually hurt me –  most of my academic colleagues who study China either signed the “never Trump” letter or they supported Hillary Clinton!”  Bwah hah hah … take that, Trumpie!

His news conference covered a wide variety of topics, including what I’ve come to think of as the Kavanaugh Circus.  Here are just a few of the more salient points:

When asked about the accusations against Kavanaugh …

“These are all false, to me. I only tell you this. This is one of the highest quality people that I’ve ever met. And everybody that knows him says the same thing. And these are all false, to me. These are false accusations in certain cases, and certain cases even the media agrees with that. I can only say that what they’ve done to this man is incredible.”  The next 40 years of justice in this nation are at stake, and you’re worried about the ‘man’s’ little feelings?  If he had done the honourable thing in the beginning, he wouldn’t be where he is.  He brought this 100% on himself!

That was at 5:06 p.m.  At 5:18 p.m., he had this to say …

“They’re giving the women a major chance to speak. Now it’s possible I’ll hear that and say hey I’m changing my mind. Hey, that’s possible.”  In just 12 minutes, you forgot your own mind?  Wow … great brain, alright!  How many times in an hour can one person change his mind, I wonder … are there statistics on that?

And while we’re at it, let’s just play “Blame the Democrats” …

“I think when you really look at it all, it’s not going to change any of the Democrats’ they’re obstructionists. They’re actually con artists, because they know how quality this man is, and they have destroyed a man’s reputation.”  Let’s get something straight here … the only thing the democrats are ‘obstructing’ is Trump’s mad push to place a candidate on the Supreme Court who is, at the very least, lacking in integrity.

And speaking of Rod Rosenstein, who has been the source of swirling speculation ever since Monday morning when it was said that he was on his way to the White House either to resign or be fired, depending on who you listened to:

“I’m talking to him; we’ve had a good talk. My preference would be to keep him and to let him finish up. He said he never said it. He said he doesn’t believe it. He said he has a lot of respect for me.”  Too bad we can’t hear Rosenstein’s take on that conversation, isn’t it, for I’m betting money Trump’s side is pie-in-the-sky-lies.

Okay, folks, that is all my stomach can take for tonight, but if you are up to it, feel free to read the transcript.    In the words of seasoned news reporter Jake Tapper, “It wasn’t the most coherent presidential address I’ve ever heard. He rambled quite a bit. He said a lot of things that weren’t true.”  So what’s new, eh?

Trampling the Constitution …

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

These words are the presidential oath of office that every president takes upon being inaugurated into the office of president.  On 20 January 2017, Chief Justice John Roberts administered the above oath to Donald J. Trump.  In the past 24 hours, the same Donald Trump has threatened to break his oath not once, but twice.Constitution-1The first came on the wave of his rage over the Bob Woodward book, Fear, that is to be released next Tuesday.  Trump repeated his call for stricter libel laws … a threat he has made before.  What Trump is actually calling for, however, is a change in the very definition of the word ‘libel’.

Defamation is defined as the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation.  Defamation falls under two categories:  slander & libel.  The difference is simple: slander is verbal or by gestures, whereas libel is written or printed.

There are several things a person must prove to establish that libel has taken place. In the United States, a person must prove that 1) the statement was false, 2) caused harm, and 3) was made without adequate research into the truthfulness of the statement. These steps are for an ordinary citizen. For a celebrity or public official, a person must prove the first three steps, and that the statement was made with the intent to do harm or with reckless disregard for the truth.

Trump has been referring to the legitimate press as “the enemy of the people” while at the same time praising Fox News and even Breitbart, neither of whom are known for fact-based, honest reporting.  And now, he wants Congress to enact stricter libel laws, by which he simply means, by his definition, anything printed that is critical of him.  This is not how it works, and it would be a blatant disregard of the 1st Amendment if it were.  As long as what the press prints is factual, or to the best of their belief was factual, they are well within their rights.

Despite the fact that Congress has been bowing to the wishes of Trump since day #1, I cannot imagine that they would even consider such a bill, so I am not concerned that the press will ultimately be shuttered from reporting anything critical of Trump.  However, that he even threatens it is very concerning, for it is but one more indicator of his intent to rule rather than lead.  To bring the government into the realm of autocracy.  Such disregard for the Constitution goes against his oath.constitution-2The second and equally concerning threat was made as a response to protests against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Tuesday.

“I don’t know why they don’t take care of a situation like that. I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters. You don’t even know what side the protesters are on.”

Now, the statement in itself is disturbing enough, and taken in conjunction with his rants about Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest against police killing unarmed black men, it makes an even more chilling thought.  “I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protestors.”  Again, I direct attention to the 1st Amendment that protects freedom of speech, including peaceful protests.  And again, I remind you that he referred to white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia last year as “very fine people”.  He did not suggest shutting down their freedom of speech.

What is, perhaps, almost as bothersome as what he said is to whom he said it.  He made the statement during an Oval Office interview with the Daily Caller.  Now, in case you aren’t familiar with the Daily Caller, it is a conservative website co-founded by Tucker Carlson of Fox News fame.  Mr. Carlson has more controversies under his belt than can even be tallied.  To give you one small example of his idiocy, he is against seat belt laws.  Like its co-founder, the Daily Caller is laden with controversy and is definitely not a legitimate source of news.  A few examples:

  • In 2017, The Daily Caller published a story claiming that a “peer-reviewed study” by “two scientists and a veteran statistician” found that global warming had been fabricated by climate scientists. The alleged “study” was a PDF file on a WordPress blog, and was not peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.

  • In March 2013 The Daily Caller posted interviews with two women claiming that New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez had paid them for sex while he was a guest of a campaign donor. The allegation came five days before the 2012 New Jersey senate election. News organizations such as ABC News, which had also interviewed the women, the New York Times, and the New York Post declined to publish the allegations, viewing them as unsubstantiated and lacking credibility. Subsequently, one of the women who accused Menendez stated that she had been paid to falsely implicate the senator and had never met him. Menendez’s office described the allegations as “manufactured” by a right-wing blog as a politically motivated smear. A few weeks later, police in the Dominican Republic announced that three women had claimed they were paid $300–425 each to lie about having had sex with Menendez.

Carlson Tucker is not much different than Alex Jones, it would seem, and anybody who reads and believes the Daily Caller should come see me about a bridge I have for sale.  For Donald Trump to treat the Daily Caller as a legitimate news source, while denigrating the 141-year-old Washington Post, and the 167-year-old New York Times, is an indicator of his intelligence, or lack thereof.

So, we have a president who, as I have said from the very beginning, is not satisfied with the office of president, but seeks to undermine the foundation of the Constitution by chiseling away at the rights and privileges that document gives us in order to expand and extend his power.  Surely Congress will stop him, right?  Um … well …

**  Endnote:  While I am writing a post, I rarely check news other than to verify facts or look up something pertaining to the post I am writing at the time, lest I lose my focus.  Thus, I was not aware of the anonymous letter from a senior administration official that was published in the New York Times late yesterday afternoon until I had finished writing this post.  I will have more to say about that later, once the dust has settled just a bit, but Trump’s comment that “the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!” sends chills and signals another potential attempt to undermine the Constitution.  

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.

Hats Off To Ralph Peters!

A member of the Fox News team has parted ways with Fox.  His name is Ralph Peters, and he has been a frequent military analyst and commentator for Fox.  His email explaining his departure is worth a minute to read:

On March 1st, I informed Fox that I would not renew my contract. The purpose of this message to all of you is twofold:

First, I must thank each of you for the cooperation and support you’ve shown me over the years. Those working off-camera, the bookers and producers, don’t often get the recognition you deserve, but I want you to know that I have always appreciated the challenges you face and the skill with which you master them.

Second, I feel compelled to explain why I have to leave. Four decades ago, I took an oath as a newly commissioned officer. I swore to “support and defend the Constitution,” and that oath did not expire when I took off my uniform. Today, I feel that Fox News is assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers. Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed.

In my view, Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration. When prime-time hosts–who have never served our country in any capacity–dismiss facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest assaults on the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts, the intelligence community (in which I served) and, not least, a model public servant and genuine war hero such as Robert Mueller–all the while scaremongering with lurid warnings of “deep-state” machinations– I cannot be part of the same organization, even at a remove. To me, Fox News is now wittingly harming our system of government for profit.

As a Russia analyst for many years, it also has appalled me that hosts who made their reputations as super-patriots and who, justifiably, savaged President Obama for his duplicitous folly with Putin, now advance Putin’s agenda by making light of Russian penetration of our elections and the Trump campaign. Despite increasingly pathetic denials, it turns out that the “nothing-burger” has been covered with Russian dressing all along. And by the way: As an intelligence professional, I can tell you that the Steele dossier rings true–that’s how the Russians do things.. The result is that we have an American president who is terrified of his counterpart in Moscow.

I do not apply the above criticisms in full to Fox Business, where numerous hosts retain a respect for facts and maintain a measure of integrity (nor is every host at Fox News a propaganda mouthpiece–some have shown courage). I have enjoyed and valued my relationship with Fox Business, and I will miss a number of hosts and staff members. You’re the grown-ups.

Also, I deeply respect the hard-news reporters at Fox, who continue to do their best as talented professionals in a poisoned environment. These are some of the best men and women in the business..

So, to all of you: Thanks, and, as our president’s favorite world leader would say, “Das vidanya.”

Fox responded with a statement:  “Ralph Peters is entitled to his opinion despite the fact that he’s choosing to use it as a weapon in order to gain attention. We are extremely proud of our top-rated primetime hosts and all of our opinion programing.”

A round of applause for Mr. Ralph Peters.