An Important Message … That Nobody Heard

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

One of life’s unanswered philosophical questions.  Last month, a big tree fell in the forest, and nobody heard, nobody listened.  It was not widely reported in any of the major news outlets, there was no notable discussion in blogdom … it was a warning destined to go unheeded, to die of neglect.

The ‘tree’ was a white paper issued by the Department of Defense titled Russian Strategic Intentions.  It is a 150-page, 25-chapter document that outlines Russia’s aggression, which includes the use of propaganda and disinformation to sway public opinion across Europe, Central Asia, Africa and Latin America, and the U.S.  It assesses Russia’s intentions in an attempt to understand what drives its strategy, outlines a range of malign activities attributed to Russia in regions as diverse as Africa and the Arctic and lays out ways the United States could strengthen its response.

The study addresses what it refers to as Moscow’s “gray zone” activities — the emboldened attempts by Putin’s regime to undermine democratic nations, particularly on Russia’s periphery, using means short of direct military conflict.

“These activities include threatening other states militarily, or compromising their societies, economies, and governments by employing a range of means and methods to include propaganda, disinformation, and cultural, religious, and energy coercion.”

‘Compromising their societies’ and ‘propaganda, disinformation’, does any of this sound familiar?  Does anybody recall that every U.S. intelligence agency, bar none, has confirmed Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, with the intent of securing the election of Donald Trump?  Does anybody recall the Mueller report, a 2-year study that verified Russian interference in the election on behalf of Donald Trump – meddling of which Trump and his campaign were well aware?  Does anybody recall that just recently Trump said if somebody came to him with ‘dirt’ on his opponent, he would accept it?

The paper also raises alarm about what the authors view as a burgeoning anti-American alliance by Russia and communist China, who have traditionally been fierce competitors, but may now see mutual benefit in an alliance against the U.S. and its allies.

Now why was a report with such important information, such relevant conclusions largely ignored?  Why didn’t it receive headline status at The Washington Post and the New York Times?  Perhaps only because the average reader is bored with that which he doesn’t believe has a direct and immediate impact on his own life.  But, one has to wonder if reader apathy/ignorance was the only reason, or if there was a more sinister attempt to ‘bury’ the story?  Yes, I understand that I may be seeing shadows where there are none, but in the current climate, can you blame me?

The ramifications of this report are many, but two stand out:

  • The U.S. is ripe for the pickings, as they say, in our 2020 elections. The Russians will use every toy in their large toybox, pass up no opportunity to ensure that Trump stays in office for another four years.  Thus far, thanks to the ignorance of Trump supporters and the malevolence of Mitch McConnell and others in Congress, we are leaving ourselves wide open for Russian interference.
  • The U.S. was once a trusted ally, well-respected and sometimes even liked, among nations in the Western world. We are rapidly losing that reputation under the current administration, and it is disturbing that Trump & Co pander to the strongarm leaders like Putin, Kim, Duterte and Bolsonaro, while denigrating the leadership of our allies.  We once accepted responsibility for supporting and aiding our allies, but that has rapidly changed under the present administration, and we can no longer be counted on, no longer trusted.

I found it deeply troubling that last month while Trump was in Osaka for the G20 summit, he joked with Putin, saying, “Don’t meddle in the election, president”, with a wink-wink and a grin.  Putin chuckled.  This is no laughing matter, folks.  Without Putin’s interference three years ago, we would now have a wise, intelligent President Hillary Clinton.  Without Putin’s interference next year, we might once again return to a position of respect in the international community, but if we continue to ignore Russia’s influence, the world will be left open to the equivalent of Soviet dominance.

Putin has long worked toward restoring a Soviet-style empire, and if his power, his theft of democratic processes is allowed to continue unchecked, the world becomes a lot less safe.  We cannot afford to ignore this, cannot be so apathetic to it that our free press no longer even bothers to report such things.  The world is changing, and Putin is perfectly positioned to take advantage of those changes to put much of the new world order under his domination. Did you ever ask yourself why Putin went out of his way to put Trump in office?  Because, in the absence of any great intelligence or understanding of world affairs by Trump, Putin knew he could control Trump like a puppet and enlist his assistance in his grand plan.

We must wake up, we must see what’s happening and make our opinions known.  We must hold the free press accountable to tell us all the news, else they may someday cease to be the free press, just as we may someday cease to be free to voice our opinion.  Free speech is rather like many other things:  use it or lose it.

A Crumbling House — A Story by Filosofa

This is the story of a man named Donnie and his new house.  Donnie had a nice enough house, albeit a bit tacky with gold everywhere you look, even the toilets!Trump-tacky-houseBut one day while playing a game of golf with a friend, the friend said he knew of an even nicer house, a big white house with columns in the front and a huge lawn.  This house had 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels in the Residence. There were 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators.  There was a garden, a solarium, a game room with full-size pool table, and a swimming pool!  Well, Donnie, never satisfied with what he has but always wanting more, became determined to have that house!white houseTurned out that the house was not for sale but was up for a four-year lease. The people who owned the house knew of Donnie’s reputation as rather a nasty, trashy person, and they did not wish to lease the house to him.  But eventually Donnie engaged the help of a rather seedy character named Vlad, and with Vlad’s help, Donnie was able to fool the owners of the white house into leasing the house to him for four years.   Once the people realized how they had been tricked, they were furious, but the lease was a legally binding document and they had little recourse.

Moving day was an exciting day, indeed!  It was January 20th, 2017, and a few people lined the streets to watch Donnie move into his new home.  And for just a while, Donnie was satisfied, Donnie was happy to wander through his new home, proud to have made such a great deal with Vlad.  But then, little things began to bother Donnie, and as has happened all throughout his life, he grew restless.  While out playing golf one day a few months after moving in, Donnie told a group of friends that his new house was “a dump”.  Word got back to the owners who were incensed but hoped that perhaps he would tire of it and move out.

Donnie’s reputation for being a bit trashy was well-deserved, and as time went by, the house began to fall into disrepair.  Now, you must understand that Donnie had been spoiled from the day he was born, had never been held accountable for anything, and had learned early in his life that if something went wrong, it must always be somebody else’s fault, never his own.  So, as little things began to go amiss, Donnie looked around for someone to blame, and when he found a likely candidate, he fired them.  “You’re Fired” became his slogan, it seemed. Trump_Youre_Fired_02

One day one of the toilets became clogged, after Donnie used too much tissue paper, so he fired the entire maintenance crew.  Another day he found ants in his bed, for he had been eating Big Mac hamburgers in his bed, which attracted the ants.  But rather than accept the blame, he fired the entire housekeeping staff.  When a ketchup stain didn’t come out of his shirt, he fired the laundry staff, and when he found mud on the floor from his own shoes, he fired the newest housekeepers.  And so it was that the house was soon in chaos, for although Donnie hired new staff to replace the ones he had fired, the new ones were never quite able to please him, and staff turnover was beyond belief.

Donnie had a temper, and his wife was a cold, arrogant woman.  One day, Donnie was in a rage because he found a fingerprint (his own) on the brass doorknob.  He began throwing things, breaking windows, and screeching like a banshee.  The staff cowered in the kitchen pantry, afraid for their lives.  This house was in total chaos!  When quiet finally resumed, the staff quietly gathered their own belongings, each took a few pieces of silver or a goblet as a memento of this most horrible experience, and they exited, never to return.

falling apart-2The house was destroyed nearly beyond repair, and the owners were horrified at what had become of their beautiful, historic house that had survived many tenants since being built more than two hundred years before.  Never before had such a destructive tenant lived there.  Though it was only two years into Donnie’s four-year lease, the owners were determined to remove him from the house, for it was obvious that the house could not withstand another two years of this tenant.

falling apartWill the people who own the house be able to evict Donnie?  Will the house be able to be repaired?  Or will Donnie have his way and stay in the house until it finally falls down around his ears?  The answer?  Stay tuned, my friends …

Au Revoir, General James Mattis 😢

Yesterday, the world became a little less safe.  U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, announced his resignation effective 28 February 2019.  It is understandable, and nobody could possibly blame him, for his has been a thankless job since the day he took office, January 20th 2017.  Mattis has disagreed with Trump on many things during his nearly two-year tenure, from climate change to Russia to pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.  But the straw that broke the camel’s back was Trump’s announcement that he would withdraw the remaining 2,200 U.S. troops from Syria.  I don’t blame General Mattis for finally saying, “I’ve had enough of this mess” … don’t blame him at all.  But with his departure, the world … not just the U.S., but the entire world … became less safe.

Here are some of the more pertinent parts from the General’s letter of resignation:

  • I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies.

  • One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships.


  • My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues.


  • We must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America.

The threat of a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria and also Afghanistan is a disaster on so many levels, not the least of which being that it is a proverbial slap-in-the-face to our allies in Europe.  As the UK’s Middle East minister, Alistair Burt said …

“There are no vacuums in foreign policy, certainly not in the Middle East. In a fragile region every action is a catalyst for another. If allies cannot be relied upon, others are sought to take their place. Jim Mattis understood – vital any successor agrees.”

And UK’s Defense Minister, Tobias Ellwood …

“The most impressive military mind I’ve had the honour to know. Jim my friend – our world will be less safe without you.”

The co-chair of the European council on foreign relations Carl Bildt had strong words …

“A morning of alarm in Europe. Sec Def Mattis is the remaining strong bond across the Atlantic in the Trump administration. All the others are fragile at best or broken at worst.”

Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group in the European parliament, said…

“A victory for Russia, Iran, Turkey, Turkish proxies & the Syrian regime. Unsurprisingly, it leaves Europeans more vulnerable – and shows how wrong it is that we do not have a defence force able to help stabilise our immediate neighbourhood.”

Neither the Syrian withdrawal nor the prospect of cutting troop numbers in Afghanistan were preceded by any serious consultation with his European allies, many of whom either have ground troops or air forces operating in both countries.

Trump’s selection of Mattis for Defense Secretary was, presumably, because he believed Mattis had the knowledge and experience to be a key advisor on foreign policy and matters of defense.  So why does he consistently ignore the advice of this very knowledgeable man?  Ego, pure and simple.  And that very ego is likely, if left unchecked, to have a number of very serious consequences for the world.  The Middle East is a tinderbox that could well turn into an inferno in short order.  Our allies may well determine they are finished with this alliance and to hell with the U.S.  Who could blame them?

It is said that Trump made the decision to pull out of Syria after a phone conversation with Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan, who is planning an attack on Kurdish troops in Syria at some point in the near future.  According to Senator Lindsey Graham …

“What Turkey is going to do is unleash holy hell on the Kurds. In the eyes of Turkey, they’re more of a threat than ISIS. So this decision is a disaster.”

Vladimir Putin was also pleased, saying he agreed with the decision.  But, of course.

Even most conservatives are horrified at the thought of Mattis’ resignation, considering it to be the loss of the last adult in the house.  Neo-conservative editor and political analyst Bill Kristol said it best …

“Never been more alarmed for the nation since coming to DC over three decades ago.”

Republican Senator Ben Sasse expressed deep concern …

“This is a sad day. General Mattis was giving advice [Trump] needs to hear. Mattis rightly believes that Russia & China are adversaries. Isolationism is a weak strategy that will harm Americans.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan weighed in …

“Okay, Republicans. How much longer are you going to let this farcical ‘presidency’ continue? At a time of such political, economic, and geo-strategic turbulence – both nationally and globally – are you waiting for a catastrophe to happen before acting? Disaster looms!”

Remember when then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to Trump as a “f**king moron”?  He was right.

General Mattis’ departure did not come as a surprise, for the rumour mill has predicted it for a while now but make no mistake … it is a devastating blow, not only for the United States, but for the world.  Nobody can predict where we go from here, for there is a thoroughly unpredictable madman at the helm of this ship.  In light of Trump’s comment this morning that he is willing to keep the government shut down “for a very long time”, and his reckless decisions regarding Syria and Afghanistan, today I can no longer consider myself a citizen of what was once a respectable nation.  I believe it is time for serious calls for Trump’s removal from office, else next year at this time the world may look much different than it does today – and not in any good way.

Au Revoir, General Mattis … you will be missed.

What Happens If …

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

What Happens If …

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

Charles BlowBy Charles M. Blow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ahhhhh … What A Fool

The piece I am sharing with you today does not come from The Onion, though you would be forgiven for thinking so.  It is, rather, a tongue-in-cheek look at Donald Trump as per his interview on Fox ‘News’ with Chris Wallace last Sunday by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.

This is what happens when a stable genius leads a stupid country

By Dana Milbank, Columnist, November 19 at 7:35 PM

Dana Milbank

President Trump is surrounded by fools.

There’s that fool William H. McRaven, Special Operations commander of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and the other fools in the U.S. military, who should have brought down bin Laden “a lot sooner,” because “everybody in Pakistan” — all 208 million of them — knew the terrorist leader was living in “a nice mansion.” Trump alone “predicted Osama bin Laden” in 2000 when “nobody really knew who he was.”(Were they waiting for Trump to give them bin Laden’s Zip code plus four?)

There are the fools in the CIA, who have concluded based on so-called evidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered last month’s killing of Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. But Trump alone understands that we’ll never know the truth, because the crown prince denied involvement “maybe five different times.”

There’s that fool Chris Wallace at Fox News, who didn’t understand why Trump skipped Arlington National Cemetery on the Monday after Veterans Day after skipping a visit to a U.S. military cemetery in France two days earlier. But Wallace, if he were wiser, would have known Trump was “extremely busy on calls for the country” as well as “doing other things.”

There are the foolish Finns who, after Trump claimed Finland avoided forest fires because “they spent a lot of time on raking,” are now mocking him by posing with garden tools in the woods. But Trump knows Finnish forest-raking is real because Finland’s president, Sauli Niinisto, told him about it just last week (even if Niinisto can’t remember this).

Worst of all are the fools in California — people who insist on calling the fire-destroyed town there “Paradise” instead of “Pleasure,” as Trump prefers to call it — who assert that the fires were caused by drought instead of their own mismanagement. As Trump well knows, “there is no drought” in California and there is “plenty of water.”

No one has suffered as many fools as Trump has. But this is to be expected when a “very stable genius” leads a “stupid country.”

Trump knows “more about courts than any human being.” He knows “more about steelworkers than anybody.” He knows “more about ISIS than the generals do,” and “more about offense and defense than they will ever understand.” He knows “more about wedges than any human being that’s ever lived.” He even knows more about medicine than his doctor, dictating a doctor’s letter predicting he would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

How does Trump know so much about so many things? Explaining his disagreement with scientists on climate change, Trump told the Associated Press: “My uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years. Dr. John Trump. And I didn’t talk to him about this particular subject, but I have a natural instinct for science.”

Given Trump’s natural scientific instinct, you don’t need a B.S. from Trump University to know how frustrating it must be to be contradicted repeatedly by “experts” — some in his own administration!

The intelligence community unanimously believes that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, but Trump’s instinct says there’s no reason to disbelieve Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials.

Satellite imagery shows that North Korea has enhanced its ability to launch missiles, but Trump says, “I don’t believe that.”

The scientific consensus supports the theory of climate change, but Trump says “it could very well go back” to cooling.

Trump’s instinct has led him to a number of scientific discoveries over time:

“The worst hurricanes were 50 years ago.”

Vaccines cause autism in “many” healthy children.

The flu shot is “totally ineffective.”

Exercise is unhealthy.

Coal is “indestructible.”

Windmills are a “killing field” for birds and can make people who live near turbines “go crazy after a couple of years.”

It’s okay to look directly at the sun during a solar eclipse.

California is “shoving” water out to sea “to protect a certain kind of three-inch fish.”

With such a high level of technical expertise, Trump waited 19 months into his presidency to name a White House science adviser. More than 1,000 members of the National Academy of Sciences accuse Trump of the “denigration of scientific expertise and harassment of scientists.”

But they don’t understand. Trump knows more about science than the scientists do.

And this is the problem with being surrounded by fools: Though Trump gives his presidency an “A-plus,” most Americans — about 60 percent — do not appreciate his brilliance.

He deserves better — and he should demand it. He should walk away, withdraw his excellence, maybe get a place in Pleasure — and leave us to suffer our own foolish “scientists” and “experts” and “facts.” That would really show us.

Deep breaths … lighten up … smile, for it is humour.  Any fool who rates himself an A+ when more than half the country, not to mention allies in other nations, hate him enough to wish to send him to Siberia, is a moron.

Shame On You, Donald Trump …

Once again, I find myself wanting to apologize for our ignorant, crude, ignominious, arrogant, brash, narcissistic so-called ‘president’ after he made a fool of not only himself, but of us all, when he was mistakenly allowed to travel to the EU over the weekend.  To all my friends & family across the pond … please forgive us for sending him, for we knew not what we were doing.

The occasion, for any who may not know, was to honour those who died in World War I on the 100th anniversary of the end of that war.  It was a solemn occasion, a time to set aside differences and come together to remember …

Trump started his trail of terror before even leaving Air Force One, when he tweeted an attempted insult toward Emmanuel Macron, President (in good standing) of France.  But it got worse.  His alleged purpose for traveling to Paris on Friday was to attend ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  The reality, as is always the case with Trump, was something else altogether, but that was his stated purpose.  But guess what?  It rained.Trump-rain-WWIIt rained.  Trump was afraid of a little bit of water.  I’ve often said I don’t think he bathes regularly, and this proves it!  All the other leaders who had gathered in Paris for the occasion attended …Prince Harry rainAngela Merkel braved the elements, as did Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Prince Harry, Spain’s King Felipe VI … even Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin found time to attend, despite the rain.  Trump later claimed that the only reason he didn’t attend was that his motorcade would have disrupted roads.  SO WALK, YOU F***ING MORON!!!

General John Kelly and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff General Joe Dunford attended instead – apparently they didn’t need a ‘motorcade’. France WWI Centennial

Representative Don Beyer of Virginia hit the nail on the head:

“Millions died to protect the free world during WWI, and Trump can’t be bothered to honor their memories. Instead, he’s chosen to sit in a hotel and live-tweet Fox News. Just imagine if President Obama sat out a Veterans Day ceremony because of the rain …”

Just imagine, indeed.  But then, President Obama was … well, you know … African-American, and thus his every move was placed under a strong microscope and picked apart like the Christmas turkey.  Trump, on the other hand, is ugly white with layers of fat, acne, and a bad toupee, so he can do no wrong!  (Yeah, I’m pissed – what tipped you off?)

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary — and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow.” – David Frum, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush

Even Winston Churchill’s grandson, British Conservative MP Nicholas Soames, joined in the rebuke, saying, “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen,” and adding that Trump is “not fit to represent his great country.”

“President@realDonaldTrump a no-show because of raindrops? Those veterans the president didn’t bother to honor fought in the rain, in the mud, in the snow — & many died in trenches for the cause of freedom. Rain didn’t stop them & it shouldn’t have stopped an American president.” – John Kerry, Vietnam War veteran and former Secretary of State

Macron-MerkelHowever, the best rebuke came from none other than French President Emmanuel Macron in this one sentence that is bound to become iconic …

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying ‘our interests first, who cares about the others’, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.”

Ooooohhhh … good one, Mr. Macron!!!  And then he went on …

“I do defend my country. I do believe that we have a strong identity. But I’m a strong believer in cooperation between the different peoples, and I’m a strong believer of the fact that this cooperation is good for everybody, where the nationalists are sometimes much more based on a unilateral approach and the law of the strongest, which is not my case.”

But at the end of the day, Trump did manage to find time for one world leader … his ol’ buddy …trump-putinPerhaps this, then, was his sole reason for spending millions of taxpayer dollars to travel abroad for the weekend?  Or perhaps it was to seek a relief from the heat of last week’s mid-term elections?  Either way, he once again wasted huge amounts of our money in order to do nothing more than embarrass us.  Shame on you, Donald Trump … Shame on you.

Just for a chuckle …

I’m sorely in need of a laugh … okay, I’ll settle for a chuckle … and figured perhaps you are too, so just for a laugh at the end of the day, I give you … Andy Borowitz …

Putin Loses Control of the House

Get Educated As To How Russian Trolls Operate In The USA To Suppress The Vote

There is a lot of talk these days about the Russian interference in our last (2016) election and that the intelligence community has already seen credible evidence that the Russians are also planning to inject their presence into our mid-terms in November. If you aren’t worried, you should be. But how, exactly, do the Russians influence the vote? That has been somewhat hazy to many, but friend Gronda has some clarification for us. Please take a few minutes to read this post and check out the short videos she includes. You won’t regret it! Thank you, Gronda, for all your hard work on this and for letting me share it!

Gronda Morin

1EarthUnited  who is a member of my blogging family has recently been taking on the personality of a Russian troll.

History:

Until relatively recently, she would comment on my posts with a point of view of a conservative with conspiracy theory leanings. This was okay with me as she was representing a point of view of peoples who I know and am fond of, except we rarely go down that route of discussing politics when we get together. She has consistently exhibited a strong antipathy towards the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to where she would refer to old conspiracy theories which have been debunked numerous times by credible fact-checking sites. Again, for me this was nothing new. She would use references that are rated high in fake content like WND, Horn news. (FOX TV, Infowars, Breitbart) are examples of right wing media outlets that are also rated high…

View original post 1,261 more words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forget alternative facts. This is rewriting history.

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