The Lingering Ghost Of Rome

 

It’s impossible to watch what is now happening in the Southwest, with the Trump Administration setting up internment camps for children and babies, without being reminded of Germany in the late 1930’s and 40’s.  For those of us who know a little history,  what’s happening is also somewhat reminiscint of Roman Carthage.

Around 150 BC, the Romans marched in and captured Carthage, eventually turning it into one of the biggest cities in the Roman Empire.   They held it until 435, when the Vandals came in, capturing the city while most of the sports-obsessed Romans were off attending the games, chariot races, gladiatorial contests and whatnot,  at the local coliseum.

It may be overstating things to say the Vandals might never have taken the city, had the sports-obsessed Romans paid more attention to their defenses and less to sporting events.   Then again, maybe not, which brings us back to a parallel with the United States.

Not only are we an overextended empire, as were the Romans, we are equally sports-obsessed.  One wonders how the country would function if the populace spent one-third of the time it spends watching sporting events or playing fantasy football, with reading and thinking about how the country is being run.   This doesn’t mean getting all of one’s “news” on the FOX News Network, it means actually reading a mainstream newspaper either online or by subscription.  They will still bring it to your front door for a very nominal fee and it is still a good way to absorb some solid, objective information.   You might consider it your patriotic duty.

Mainstream newspapers are not engaged in doing fake news, regardless of what Donald Trump may be telling you.   Most of the fake news, in fact, has been coming from the mouth of Donald J. Trump.  And it’s bringing down our country.

Without belaboring the point of how fascism did not grab Germany by the throat overnight, that it was a process that developed over years and not months or days, it is not unreasonable to draw parallels with what is happening in the U.S., particularly in light of Trump’s “birther” movement, a president who equates Mexicans with “rapists,”  who labels all those of the Muslim faith as being dangerous, who turns his back on the needs of storm-ravaged Puerto Ricans and more recently gave his approval to torch carrying neo-Nazis, marching through the streets of Charlottesville.    And now, in one more horrendous and unbelievable stroke, Donald Trump has set up internment camps for toddlers and babies, calling them “tender age” camps, in an effort to make the fact that he has fixed his approval to tearing babies and kids away from their parents sound  less harsh than it actually is.   It is simply monstrous, and Trump, unrestrained by his Republican Party, is acting like a dictator.  Or at the very least, a power-mad oligarch, playing the race card for all it’s worth, as he attempts to turn white Americans against all people of color.

According to a study done at Princeton,  our Democracy, once the envy of the world,  is already dead.  Gone.   The scholarly study says we are now an Oligarchy, which works well for Donald J. Trump, who has shown himself to be a modern-day authoritarian Julius Caesar wannabe.  Are we now, with Vandals approaching the city,  literally playing ourselves into the hands of fascism?

With thousands of kids being torn from their parents, and no sign that the country has any idea as to how to eventually reunite them, isn’t it finally time to say “enough?”  Isn’t it beyond time for men and women of good conscience and decency to set aside politics, restore our system of checks and balances,  and remove Donald J. Trump and his poisonous, hateful, racist band of scoundrels from office?

Let us pray that our elected officials act responsibly before we lose all hope of regaining a representative federal government.    Don’t think it can’t happen here.  The unthinkable is happening right now, down on our southern border.    Thousands of kids are being torn from their parents and it’s being done in our names.  Yours and mine.

Is The Pope Catholic?

Bumped into a music producer friend at a social function the other day who told me something that didn’t immediately register.  “Gibson, has gone bankrupt,” he said.  “Gibson,” being the Gibson Guitar Company, supplier of guitars to Clapton, B.B. King, and all the rest.  An old Gibson “Les Paul Junior” is the one guitar every nearly every rocker wants.  If they can even find and afford one.

Pretty much any garage band rocker who came of age in the 50’s or 60’s has some fond memory of a Gibson or two.  Mine pre-dates my first garage band – or should  I say “basement band,” as in Minnesota, the garage was way too cold for making music.   I go all the way back to the folk craze, to Pete Seeger and the Weavers, Malvina Reynolds and Peter, Paul and Mary.   As a kid, I had the folkie-thing bad and so it was that I talked my parents into buying me a real guitar.  My mother eventually caved and decided we should go to a good music store for the purchase.  And so, on one very cold winter’s day in the early 60’s, we arrived at the St. Cloud Music Store.   It was cold enough to bring tears to my mother’s eyes.

I recall looking at two guitars.  One was a  hollow-body electric, with “f-holes.”   The other, was a simple and yet beautiful classical guitar, similar to the instruments played by Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey.   My mother wanted me to get the big electric monster, but I’d have none of it.  I was a devoted folkie and I wanted the acoustic folk guitar.  Both guitars were Gibsons, and so I left the store with a Gibson CO-Classic guitar.

Gibson, isn’t just a guitar company, it’s an American icon.  Like  Bazooka bubble gum, Chevrolet,  the Yankees and Harley Davidson, which just announced they’ll be laying off around one-hundred workers here in the U.S.,  and opening a new plant in Thailand.

First Harley and now Gibson?  A line from that old Buffalo Springfield song, “somethin’s happenin’ here, what it is ain’t exactly clear….” keeps replaying in my head.    Something very basic, entirely fundamental to who we are has changed and there may be no going back.   Oh sure, Gibson is in Chapter 11, and they may be able to reorganize and survive as a company, and yet you have to wonder exactly where we now are.

Some months ago I decided to get back into plinking around on a guitar.   My old Gibson and I parted ways years ago, and I had no desire to spend the money necessary to pick up another Gibson, so I decided to buy an Ibenez.  I had one some time ago and loved it, so that’s what I got.  For a mere $200, I got a hollow-body cutaway with an input for an amp.   The thing even has a built-in electronic tuner.   All for $200 bucks, and it plays and sounds great.   Since it was my second Ibenez, I became part of the reason Gibson was forced into bankruptcy.   Ibenez, you see, is a Japanese company.  This guitar I just purchased, was made in China.  A Japanese guitar made in China and sold in the United States.   And the wheels on the bus go round and round.

I can imagine this guy rolling down the highway on a Harley made in Thailand, wearing a black jacket made in Mexico with a Japanese guitar made in China slung across his back.

I was amused the other day by a statement the President made about banning imports of luxury cars.   I guess nobody told him that BMW is making cars in South Carolina while Honda assembles its top-rated Accord in Marysville, Ohio and that  Mercedes are being built by American workers in Alabama.

It was almost as amusing as his constant touting of employment numbers.   Apparently he never considers the millions of good paying union jobs that have been off-shored and will probably never be coming back, not to mention the fact that you can’t make a living flipping burgers or working at a checkout counter for a company that limits your hours to under forty a week making you ineligible for benefits and with no union to represent what should be your basic human rights.

It’s called globalism.  It’s represented by a class of multi-national corporations and billionaires who live in a world separate from most.   They live in mansions,  travel in private jets and eat in private dining rooms.  When they get sick, they go to the best doctors without having to worry about paying the bill.  Their children attend the most expensive private schools.  We support their lifestyles with our tax dollars which pay not only for police and fire service here in the United States, but for the American military which guarantees the security of their economic interests internationally.   And yet, their loyalty is not to the country, but to the ebb and flow of capital.

Economically, they own us.  Meaning, they are also in control of much of what happens to us culturally.   With enough money you can buy not only politicians but an endless stream of media telling the same lies over and over again until eventually, the lies become accepted as fact.   A new reality.   Like unions being the problem instead of a solution.  Like tax cuts for the uber-wealthy being the best thing for the uber-poor.  Like supporting the hate-filled, racist rhetoric coming from the mouth of an autocrat who diverts attention from the growing income gap between those at the top and what used to be middle-America.

When I was a little kid, we used to taunt one-another with the question, “Is the Pope Catholic?”   It was a smart-ass retort, because the answer was so fundamentally simple.   Very soon, it may not be.

We may be at a point where one of the few real things we have left as Americans, is our political self-determination.   Even that is threatened by Russian hackers and billionaires who pump millions into political campaigns to buy ads to alter public perception while bribing elected officials.    Controlling the way we vote is still that important.   It’s the one thing we know we can still control.  It’s one thing that has not been stripped away from middle-America.

Please vote.  In both the general and the primary.  Or one day you may wake up to discover the Pope is no longer Catholic and the country is no longer there.   That we are just one big global economy run not by elected officials, but by multinational billionaire oligarchs for whom your personal opinions and needs will be largely irrelevant.

A Sanitized Version Of TV News

Question for all the journos out there:  Is it okay to sanitize broadcast news?   Does this bother you,  or is it just me?

When does editing cross over into censorship?

Yesterday one of the tv news shows here in the Baltimore area sanitized not one but two stories, all in the same hour.   It was not the Sinclair station, nor was it Fox.  It was one of the “big-3” network affiliates.

First, they did the story on the apparent suicide of Kate Spade, without including the information that she apparently hanged herself with a scarf tied to a doorknob.

Then, they did the story about the Mayor of Philadelphia responding to the President disinviting the Philadelphia Eagles to a celebration at the White House, without including the Mayor’s most biting criticism of the President..   The statement from the Mayor the tv news show opted not to include was, “…our president is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend.”

It’s difficult for me to understand how someone commits suicide by tying a scarf to a doorknob.   So maybe it wasn’t suicide?  So maybe that should have been included in the story?  Also, the Mayor’s comments about President Trump, are kind of essential to doing a complete story on what the Mayor had to say, right?   This wasn’t some unknown man on the street interview, it was the Mayor of one of the biggest cities in America.

I knew both these stories had been “sanitized” (not just edited, but censored) because I read newspapers.   Many people do not, so they don’t have the advantage of staying properly informed.   Well, they have the advantage, but they choose not to use it, which makes the job the broadcast outlets are doing all the more critical.

Is it just me, or is something very basically wrong going on here?   Isn’t our job to find out what the hell is going on,  you know, the famous “5-W’s,” and then tell our viewers about it, warts and all?

 

Our Congress, In Absentia

The Constitution of the United States, Article 1, Section 8 states:

“The Congress shall have power…” 

“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations…”

“To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization…”

“To declare War…”

“To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”   

Seems fairly clear cut.  Even short of impeachment, the Congress has power to control and contain the presidency.  Why is the Republican majority in this current Congress failing to carry out its sworn constitutional duties?    There are no two sides to this question.  They swore an oath to the country.    They cannot continue to allow Donald J. Trump, to rule the nation by fiat.  It is an abdication of their sworn duty and a threat to the Republic.

Please, go to the polls and vote out these dangerous and negligent Republican legislators in the midterms.   They, as much as Trump, are at fault for our current governmental chaos.

Our Cartoon Presidency

A CARTOON-SIZED ENVELOPE? What’s up with that ridiculous giant goofball-size letter Kim had hand-delivered to Trump? The one whose contents Trump bragged about as being “a very nice letter” and “a very interesting letter,” before admitting that he hadn’t yet read it.   Is it even possible for this president to push an adjective against a noun without telling a lie?  Could it be a way of giving DJT the middle finger?

Are Kim and his inner-circle rolling on the floor with laughter after seeing the photo of Trump accepting the giant note with a goofy smile on his face?   I half-expected some North Korean envoy to run into the shot with a giant inflatable cartoon hammer, jumping up and down while bonking Trump on the head and yelling “Woo Woo!  Woo Woo!”

And where the hell is Melania? 23 days and she hasn’t been seen.  This could be turning into a movie of the week? Well, it’s already there, actually. You have to wonder if she didn’t finally hit the wall with the Stormy Daniels thing?

It’s difficult to take any succor in all of this in the knowledge that our Cheeseburger Doughboy in chief is trying to do something about his physical condition by switching from quarter-pounders to a fish sandwich with only half a bun.  At least, that’s what they said.  For at least that one meal during his presentation heralding  the Nation’s need to pay greater attention to physical fitness. 

We should all be very pleased at his gastronomical sacrifice and hold him in much higher regard following his push for racial equality after his pardon of Jack Johnson, not to mention taking a meeting with Kim Kardashian-West, in the Oval Office.   Maybe the man just needs to know he’s loved?  Or maybe he just got his “Kims” confused?   

Well, he did get the North Koreans to blow up what appeared to be a group of dusty old long-abandoned tunnels while at the same time doing all he can to alienate so many of the our long-term allies.   Who needs England or Germany?  France?  Fuggetaboutit.  We’ve got Kim Jong-un.   FOX News reports that he wants to open a burger joint as a sign of goodwill.

In Trump world, everything is fine.  Just ask him.

Pardon Our Mess

We’re probably far better off now that the golden helmet has decided to cancel his meeting with Kim.   Why risk putting two such unstable personalities together?   Better to wait for the country to elect a real president.  Whomever comes along in the big, fat wake of DJT, will also have to handle the mess he’s made of the deal with Iran and the destruction of decades of work on a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, so he or she might as well start from the ground floor with Kim as well, not to mention trying to convince Mexicans, and anyone who isn’t white for that matter, that the United States really is not a bastion of white racist revival.   That we really aren’t coming apart at the seams, with our chief executive attempting to destroy the rule of law that has been the foundation for American greatness.

And yet, so many appear to be turning their backs on reality.

A survey found that 85% of all Republicans support this man, whose name I prefer not to use.  How is that even remotely possible?  Of course, that would amount to 85% of about only 26% of all registered voters according to Gallup, so maybe it’s true.    On the other side, only 29% of those registered, identified themselves as Democrats.  Perhaps we could just erect a giant sign in D.C. reading, “Pardon Our Mess.”

Our current position is what happens when too many good people stop paying attention, turning their backs on politics and refusing to go to the polls.   There is a cost to our freedom which demands that we pay attention to what’s going on and then actively participate in the democratic process.  This doesn’t mean that everybody has to run for office, although the thousands of new candidates running in the midterms is refreshing.  It does mean we all must take just a little bit of time to go to the polls and vote.    Reading some legitimate news in a major newspaper or watching a legitimate tv newscast,  along the lines of NBC, CBS or PBS, would also, at this point,  be nothing short of an act of patriotism.

Reading nothing and watching nothing but right-wing partisan tv and then forming opinions based upon uninformed conversations with others who already agree with you could lead to the end of us all.   The eventual leeching-off of our freedoms, until one day any semblance of self-determination is gone.   Who was it that said plucking a chicken one feather at a time is far less painful than pulling out feathers by the handful?

It’s a technique that’s historically effective, provided much of the populace remains uninformed, misinformed or disinformed.    When real news organizations are called out for being “fake” by those who buy their loyalty with lies and bribes to politicians without fealty to the nation, the Constitution or the people who put them in office.  With powerbrokers like Vladimir Putin and his Russian operatives, doing all they can to pull the strings on public opinion, finding cyber-warfare far less costly and bearing much less risk than looking an enemy in the eye and pulling the trigger – or even threatening to do so.

 

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Note:  Since this was posted, the Administration has announced that the meeting with Kim is back on.  For the time being at least.  With DJT,  one can never be sure.

Modern Probs

 

Kanye West says he loves Donald Trump who is in a public touchy-feely bromance with Emmanuel Macron with Trump showing his dominance by “grooming” Macron. Meantime, Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen says he misses Donald and wants to come back as the leaders of North and South Korea hold hands while they skip back and forth across the DMZ while grinning.   And now even Tom Brokaw has been accused of sexual impropriety. What a world, what a world….

Waiting for the backstory on Mr. Rogers and a hard-hitting look at the sexual confusion of Winnie the Pooh.

Ronald Reagan Must Be Spinning In His Grave

We no longer have a Federal Government. Just a daily soap opera masquerading as real life, with our lives hanging in the balance.

Following the Easter Egg roll at the White House, with Donald urging the kiddies to think about the $700 billion that’s being spent on our military as a bespectacled giant bunny looked on and the story in the Daily Mail about Jared Kushner turning over U.S. intelligence to the Saudis, one wonders if Donald Trump might be secretly disassembling our nuclear arsenal on orders from Vladimir Putin.

Can we withstand this? Considering the threat Trump and his posse pose to the country how can the Republican Party allow this daily insanity to continue?  Was Kushner eventually able to get that “back channel” to the Kremlin he went after in the Trump Administration’s opening days?   If he did get it, does the CIA know about it?  Are they listening?

As Ronald Reagan put it,  “So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride–the temptation of blithely..uh..declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.”  

The “evil empire” Reagan spoke of in 1983 isn’t gone, it’s just changed in form from the Soviet Union with its KGB, transformed into the new Russian Mafia with Putin as Godfather and Donald Trump in his pocket.   Sanctions, Trump has  finally been forced to put in place against Russia only after significant evidence that the Russians committed multiple murders on British soil, could be nothing more than a temporary necessary step to provide cover so that the Trump/Putin relationship can survive.   Or maybe Donald Trump really is the “moron” he is charged with being.   Just one more “useful idiot” for the Putin machine.  Either way, Republican standard-bearer Ronald Reagan,  a president who was always on guard to the threat posed by Russia and who died thinking the cold war might finally be coming to an end,  must be spinning in his grave.

Violence In Our Schools – Why?

The folks here in Harford County, Maryland, have decided to spend more than a million dollars a year to put cops in middle-schools and set up a crisis center for drug users.  At least an initial report in the local paper included some funding for a crisis center.  A more recent report says nothing about it, so it may no longer be under consideration.  I’m all for a crisis center but wonder why, both locally and nationally, nobody is answering the key question of why kids are taking guns to school?

I’m a boomer and can remember when this never happened. Then it started happening. Why? Don’t we need to find an answer as to why a problem exists before it we can work on solving it?   Is there a connection between the violence in schools and increasingly violent entertainment?   Are kids acting out what they see in the movies and on tv?   Is there some connection to our national acceptance of militarism as a solution to our problems?

History tells us that simply throwing money after a problem will not solve it. How many billions have been spent on the 50 year-old “war on drugs” which has been a miserable failure?  Anyway, whatever it is that’s going on here, it’s probably not because of drugs.   This wasn’t happening in the 60’s or 70’s and there were plenty of drugs around.   Even the terrible influx of cocaine into the central-cities didn’t cause kids to carry guns to school in the 80’s.  The gang-bangers were shooting it out in L.A., but the schools were a kind of neutral “safe zone.”  The violence was gang on gang.  Occasionally an innocent bystander would be shot but there was not this indiscriminate shooting of kids in school.  So what’s happening here?   What changed?   Are we on a path to becoming a police state without an answer as to why?

Where will this stop?   When there are cops in body armor with machine guns on sling at every entrance and a tank parked out on the front lawn?

“Progressive” Is Not A Dirty Word

Those on the right have always accused the media of being on the left, even when the media was increasingly acquired by those on the right. Point in fact, is that righties don’t like anybody saying anything they perceive as negative about them regardless of the truth, which puts them in opposition to journalism.   And that dear friends, is the truth.

With massive deregulation, we are increasingly subjected to the threat of the practice of objective journalism being labeled as “fake news.” This is the right’s new standard practice and it is a very real threat.

All that can be done is to vote for a straight Democratic slate in November and then, if the Dems regain control, push like hell for a Dem president two years later who will agree to re-regulate the business and work to bust up these massive media conglomerates. You might also consider becoming a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, which supports objective, ethical journalism.  My experience in more than forty years in the craft is that most journalists try and do this to the best of their ability – tell the truth, that is, irrespective of what the Trumpists and others on the right might say.

Any employer’s blatant demand to put words in journalist’s mouths or to intentionally insert bias into an otherwise legit newscast while trying to pass it off as being objective is both disappointing and dangerous. And it should be illegal because it threatens our democratic way of life.

Instead of forcing broadcast journalists at dozens of its 193 stations to parrot the same corporate language about “The sharing of biased and false news” becoming “all too common,”  Sinclair Broadcasting should consider having all its news operations join the SPJ, while making a corporate pledge to do their level best to have their employees abide by the SPJ’s code of ethics.  Now that would be something the corporation and its employees could feel good about – as opposed to forcing their employees to parrot a message – the very delivery of which – appears to contradict their mission statement.

To those who will accuse me of being biased, hell yes, I’m biased, particularly so when I feel the country is threatened. I’m also retired and now do opinion pieces as opposed to straight-ahead journalism. However, unlike some of those on the right, I don’t try and pass off my opinions as being straight-ahead “just the facts” news.

Progressive, is not a dirty word, particularly when those on the  regressive side are brushing up against supporting fascism.

Trump Finally Draws Swords With Putin – Or Does He?

On the heels of the Stormy Daniels interview on CBS and the march on Washington to protest a lack of legislation dealing with firearms – but on an even larger scale, a protest against the way this current administration and Republican legislators conduct themselves – Donald Trump, uncharacteristically silent, has suddenly decided to draw swords with Vladimir Putin, kicking Russian diplomats and spies from U.S. soil, possibly a precursor to stronger action.

For months, some have wondered out loud, whether Donald Trump would try and go to war with North Korea or Iran as a diversion against his personal and professional issues at home. This move against Russia, could be that diversion. This will not only divert attention from the march and Stormy Daniels.  The harder Trump pushes against Russia, the more it will pull attention away from Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, making it appear less likely that Trump or his people colluded with the Russians.

One wonders how hard Trump will push, whether there could be economic sanctions to follow?   According to the experts, that, and not diplomatic expulsions, is what would really get to Putin and his oligarchs.  However, Putin, should not be expected to sit back and do nothing in response.  He apparently has the ability to shut down at least some of America’s power grid, as well as the power in Ukraine and possibly elsewhere.  Who knows the extent to which the Russians have hacked into other countries systems?   The threat of such a cyber-attack can surely be considered nothing less than an act of terrorism?

Even more interesting for some of us, is the question of whether Trump’s stand might not motivate Putin to release any information he might have been using as leverage (blackmail) against Donald trump.  If there are video tapes, might this not cause Putin to release them to humiliate the American President?   Or might something else be going on here?  With Putin and Donald Trump, who, up until now, has refused to even utter a bad word about the Russian dictator, one never knows.

We do have a few facts to consider.   One, is how brazen the Russians were in launching an attack with a military-grade nerve agent on British soil.    It was as though they wanted the world to know what they were doing.   Another, is that the United States was almost sure to back whatever play the Brits made against the Russians as the U.K. is among America’s oldest and strongest allies.   And finally, we must never forget that Putin is a former KGB officer, and a key player with regard to the deconstruction of what was once a promising Russian democracy which was then usurped by the former KGB network with Vladimir Putin as their new strong man.

It is also possible that the attack in the U.K. was designed to make Putin politically stronger at home, making it appear as though the Russian dictator was forced to take a stand against a renewed attack from the west.

The more the conflict with Russia grows, the more other issues will shrink into insignificance, to the possible advantage of both Putin and Donald Trump.  It’s probably all just coincidence?  A very real problem for loyal Americans is that this current President is without credibility, so we have no way of knowing one way or the other.

It’s difficult to imagine Vladimir Putin would invite this much trouble internationally unless he’s in far greater political trouble at home than any of us understands.

Whatever is going on behind the political curtain, kicking a few diplomats from the country is no big thing.  We’ll see if it’s just a little dust-up to divert attention from the march, the Mueller investigation and DJT’s issues with women, or whether Trump is serious and takes it further with meaningful economic sanctions.

While this is an equation filled with unknowns, it can be said with some certainty that intentional or not, Putin and the Russians have just handed Trump and the Republicans a huge diversionary gift.

Threats Of A Presidential Slugfest?

While our politicos debate what should be done about kids slaughtering other kids in our schools with assault weapons, we now have a former Vice President and our current President threatening each other with assault.   They’re talking about taking it out behind the barn and slugging it out.  Wonderful.

Bad enough we have to juggle Donald’s illicit love affairs with his love for Putin.   Now he’s talking about taking it out behind the barn.

Out in the real world, boy wonder, 33 year-old Mark Zuckerberg, doesn’t seem to grasp the enormity of his website providing more than half of America with their news.  Think about that.  More than half of Americans 50 or older,  presumably think that what they are reading on Facebook, is news.  That it’s valid.

During an interview with “Wired,” regarding Facebook’s information sharing issues, Zuckerberg said, “The good news here is that the big actions that we needed to take to prevent this from happening today we took three or four years ago. But had we taken them five or six years ago, we wouldn’t be here right now.”   

What?  Where?  Who?  And this guy’s in charge of America’s most potent opinion forming platform?

Pew Research reports, “For the first time in the Center’s surveys, more than half (55%) of Americans ages 50 or older report getting news on social media sites.”   Click here, to read the report, “News Across Social Media Platforms in 2017.”

While the pundits prattle on about Stormy Daniels and Joe Biden dreams to taking Trump out behind the gym (although Trump prefers “the barn”), the nation’s business is left undone – except for anything the Republicans can quietly pull off behind the huge political smokescreen that’s covering the nation’s capitol.

It’s at once both frightening and fatiguing.   Feels like we could crash at any minute with the Republican Party at the wheel, as an uncontrolled Internet provides all the bogus and biased news either side cares to consume, some of it coming from Russian bot farms while Donald praises Vladimir Putin on his “electoral” win.

Where have all the adults gone?    Is John McCain the last sane Republican standing?  How is it even possible that this current batch of Republicans is so totally devoid of conscience and shame that they risk throwing over the country for a pot of gold?  Can this even be happening?

Don’t be fooled.  There is a difference between the two parties.  Vote for Democrats in November.  Throw these Republican bums out.

And to those who have recently charged me with being something less than a journalist because I state opinions, please try and understand that this is what I do.   As it states on the front page of my website, what you are getting here is “news and opinion.”   The difference between me and those other guys, is that I tell you up front that I’m writing opinion pieces.   If you don’t like what you see here, then please feel free to stay away.

The Failure Of Thoughts And Prayers

Another school shooting.  This one was here in Maryland, down in St. Mary’s County, and again we have public officials sending out “thoughts and prayers.”

I don’t begrudge anyone their desire to pray about something, but isn’t too little attention being given to the central question of why these kids are taking guns to school?   Are they all hearing voices or is the answer more complex and maybe having to do with an acceptance of violence by our society coupled with a rejection of attributes like kindness and peace with the need for health care and education being replaced by dog-eat-dog capitalism at home and expanding militarism overseas?

Maybe these kids see adults not giving a damn about one another and they’re following suit?   Their condition amplified by violent video games, tv and movies?  Could it be that being raised on a steady diet of visual violence is causing some young people to act it out?

It could be that this isn’t just about gun control or any other single issue – although the question of why any American civilian needs a military-grade assault weapon is certainly valid and needs to be hashed out.   Beyond that, it could be this requires a broader look at our cultural phenomenon of wanting to kill one-another in near record numbers.

You’d probably have to go back to the the mob wars in Chicago in the 30’s, or maybe even the Civil War,  to find this many Americans blowing one another away on a regular basis over a prolonged period of time.  Think about Florida and Las Vegas and Sandy Hook and all the others.  It’s slaughter.  But we seem to have no clear idea as to why.   Isn’t that the central question?   Don’t we need to identify the cause before setting out to cure the illness?

Thoughts and prayers clearly aren’t working.   Talking about what a great job the lone cop in the school in Maryland did, and whether we should have cops in some schools while training and arming teachers in others is not the discussion we should be having.    Common sense tells any sentient being that introducing more weapons into a society that’s already armed to the teeth is not a reasonable response to the problem of people shooting one another.

Those leaders left standing who can get beyond their personal political aggrandizement, should be putting together a panel of the nation’s top mental health professionals to figure this out.   To prepare a report based upon the best science available, so that we can all have a little more information going forward.   Something more than thoughts and prayers or the latest position from NRA-funded politicians.   Something that might point to an actual solution.

Until then, please be encouraged to keep praying.    You may be all we’ve got.

 

Fight Back Against Fake News Hacks

With much of the press getting an increasingly bad rap, there continue to be thousands of outstanding journalists in print, broadcast and online.   Feeling a need to do something to help support real journalism, I recently became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.  I should have done this long ago.

More than ever, Journalism, needs our help.  Please read the SPJ’s code of ethics and consider joining the organization, even if you’re a student, a retiree, or simply want to show your support with an associate membership.   Beyond that, you might consider making a donation to the SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund.  They also have the option of a newsroom membership, giving news outlets an opportunity to show the world exactly how they feel about doing news the way it needs to be done, preserving proper standards as platforms continue to merge and evolve into new and sometimes confusing formats.

Fight back against those who would harm our profession and threaten free speech.   Take a stand to educate, enlighten and preserve what we have.  Join the SPJ.

    CLICK HERE

 

The Biggest Story They Aren’t Telling You

I got up today expecting all the pundits to be buzzing about last night’s news in the New York Times, informing the nation that the Russians can now hack into our power grid at will, shutting at least some of it down, should they feel politically motivated to do so.   So far, not a word.  Just crickets.  MSNBC was talking about Stormy Daniels and the Miami bridge collapse, but nothing about what appeared to be a blockbuster story in the Times, America’s newspaper of record.

Maybe it’s just me?  Maybe I don’t get it anymore, thinking the fact that the Russians hacked our election in 2016 and can now turn off our nuclear power plants at will while our alleged president refuses to utter a bad word about Vladimir Putin just isn’t that much of a story?

It’s not like the Russian hacking story is a rumor.  It’s coming directly from the FBI and Homeland Security.  I dunno, maybe some of the folks inside those two agencies felt a need to take what was happening to the Times, because they have no confidence that the White House will act in America’s best interest?  Shouldn’t the networks, CNN, MSNBC and the rest, be all over this?    And where in the world is our do-nothing Republican controlled Congress?

Maybe it’s me.  Maybe I just don’t get it.  If they hacked our election and now our power system, then we should be on a war footing, shouldn’t we?   Or maybe that’s what the Russians really want, a declaration that there is a “clear and present danger,” so that Trump can set aside at least portions of the Constitution?

I admit to being a little paranoid right now.   Feeling otherwise wouldn’t be normal.   Whoa, gotta go now.   CNN has another big breaking story about Stormy Daniels.    I guess maybe they don’t read the paper.

Okay, MSNBC just got to it, 22 minutes into the hour.   They gave it a couple of minutes and then moved on to something else.