All posts by Ron Olsen

Somewhere, Putin Is Smiling

The uprising in Catalan may have a nexus with Russia.  Or, it may not.  Shouldn’t somebody be trying to figure it out?   The Spanish Government maybe?  Or the CIA?

Looking back on the way the Russian Government usurped the government of Ukraine,  followed by its criminal taking of Crimea through the use of military force,  one must conclude that Putin’s Russia has a well-laid plan on interfering in other countries businesses, territories and general well-being.  Well, of course they do.   They’ve been in the expansion through espionage business big-time since Nikita Khrushchev threatened to bury us while banging his size ten Soviet-made wingtip on the Russian ambassador’s desk at the UN.

The introduction of our current information age and the technological highway of the Internet make it all the easier for Putin and his “bot farms” to interfere, be it turning Brits to favor the “Brexit” through disinformation or American voters to favor Donald Trump because of a whole lot of fabricated nonsense many of them were led to believe was true.

When fake news is real, and real news is fake, who ya gonna believe?  Very clever, these Russians.

There’s an interesting piece in today’s Guardian, entitled, “Our pain for their gain’:  The American activists manipulated by Russian trolls.”   The piece points out that what Russia has been up to goes far beyond simply placing phony ads on Facebook or creating fake news.    According to the newspaper, “This week, a Moscow-based news outlet called RBC uncovered the work of a troll factory that infiltrated US social networks, with Russians posing as Americans and making payments to legitimate activists in the US, directly funding protest movements. The revelations suggest that the Russian operation went beyond spamming online comment sections and spreading false news – and that a sophisticated interference campaign manipulated, controlled and created real-world events.”

So we’re up to that.   Putin and his people are now using disinformation, misinformation and cash funding to create “real-world events.”  And the victims don’t even know they are being victimized.   Possibly like what happened to the Brits with their Brexit and maybe even the uprising in Catalonia?   Oh sure, the Catalans have had a beef with Spain for decades, but why such a big blowout right now, with Brexit, Korea, Venezuela, Iraq and Iran all in the international mix?  Might not Russia be a least partially responsible?

The United States would normally be taking the lead in trying to ferret out precisely what the Russians are up to.  To what degree they influenced our last election and are now attempting to throw the world’s democracies into chaos, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.  Not to the degree to which it should.

Alarm bells should be going off all over Capitol Hill, and in the White House.  And they would be, were it not for our Putin-loving president who looks more and more Manchurian as the days and months roll agonizingly by and much of America remains in denial about it all, either because they have been mesmerized by Donald Trump and an endless stream of Russian propaganda or they simply can’t begin to grasp what’s happening because it is just too complicated.

Somewhere within the bowels of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin is undoubtedly smiling that snarky little smile of his, as he contemplates the international chaos he has created.

Shouldn’t somebody be trying to figure it out?   How much of the current chaos is Russian based?   To what degree are we all being played for suckers by Vladimir Putin?    How far will Trump go to cover this charade?   Will he take the nation to war?   Who will stop him?

Robert Muller and his investigation could be the only thing standing between the United States and a Russian threat some don’t want to believe is real.   We can only hope there are those who can still feel the fire of patriotism.  Those with the strength of what America truly is, to force the Muller investigation forward to a legitimate conclusion.   If not, our great American experiment could be finished.  A thought too terrible for many to even consider, making it all the more important for all of us to get our heads up out of the sand and demand the truth.

Questions For The Journalists Among Us

-It’s being reported that the four Americans ambushed (apparently) by ISIS in Niger, had only small arms, but were up against fighters with machine guns and rocket launchers.  Where was American intelligence?  Why were American soldiers sent out to walk into a meat grinder the U.S. military should have been aware of?  It’s also reported that French jets that flew in to assist American troops were not allowed by the Government of Niger to open fire on the ISIS fighters, so they had to make low-level flights, “buzzing” the ISIS fighters in an effort to disperse them. Why? Whose side is Niger on?  Where is Trey Gowdy, now that he’s actually needed?   Trey needs to invest just a fraction of the time and money he and his Republican colleagues wasted on the non-existent Benghazi question in trying to determine why American special forces were allowed to be ambushed in Niger and then had no air support once it happened.   But that won’t happen, will it?   Because Benghazi was all about politics and determining what went wrong in Niger might embarrass the Trump White House, even though an investigation might save American lives in the future.   Come on, Trey.  You can do it.   Put country ahead of your party and personal campaign funds.    Determine the degree to which the Russians may have contributed to the Benghazi controversy in their march to disrupt our democracy.   Or what’s left of it. 

-That man who is now under arrest for allegedly killing three people at a granite store in Edgewood, Maryland and wounding three others in Edgewood and Wilmington, Delaware on the 18th, 37 year old Radee Prince, has a lengthy police record. Most troubling, is why, after spending years in prison for multiple counts of burglary (CNN reports 42 arrests including 15 felony convictions), and then being detained by police in Cecil County, Maryland, in 2015 after he was found to be a felon in possession of a firearm and having a firearm in his vehicle, the State’s Attorney in Cecil County decided not to file any charges? They let him walk?  Seriously?   Would charges being filed in 2015 have prevented the slaughter in Edgewood, in 2017?

-The Daily Beast reports that members of the Trump Campaign including Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump, Jr. and the director of Trump’s digital campaign effort, re-tweeted lies that were being produced by a Russian bot farm. It appears one of these disinformation campaigns may have swung the vote for Trump in Florida.   Really?   When will spineless Republicans in Congress stop betraying the nation and begin impeachment proceedings?  How much more can they possibly need?  When will their denial come to an end?

The History Making March That Never Was

My wife got up this morning asking whether I knew about the march in New York over the weekend.   “No,” I said, I did not, even though I read everything I can get my hands on and watch a broad variety of tv news programs, both foreign and domestic.

The march, according to my wife’s network of progressive to moderate Facebook friends, took place on Saturday.   More than one-hundred psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals were marching to call attention to their concern about the mental health of Donald J. Trump.  This was, to the best of my knowledge, a historical first for the United States, and maybe the world.  This alone, makes the event not just newsworthy, but highly newsworthy.

We’re not talking about some goofy leftover Hippies here, or twenty-first century saboteurs throwing stink bombs and spraying graffiti.   No, these were educated and credentialed mental health professionals.  Presumably some of the best minds our society has produced.

I’m sure someone must have done some reporting on it, although I recall scanning the papers over the weekend and turning on the network news Saturday night, only to find it had been bumped by football.  A nation and its networks must have priorities, and we do love our football, don’t we?  And all those lovely advertising dollars?  So what’s a little news, more or less?   Or an informed public?

A group of twenty-seven mental health professionals, presumably some of the same psychiatrists and psychologists that were marching in New York on Saturday, have also written a book entitled,  “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”   If you missed the march, you can always read the book.  Chances are you didn’t hear about it on the network news.   They also have a “Duty To Warn” website.   You probably won’t hear about that on the news, either.

A New Low, Even For Trump

The man who currently occupies the White House has a problem of needing to not just refute the assertions of those who disagree with him, but to do all he can to destroy them.   In what appears to be a new low, even for someone who has castigated a gold star family and repeatedly lied to the American people,  he is now issuing forth on a path of verbal destruction against those poor souls who have already been visited by destruction in Puerto Rico.   Americans who are literally begging for help from America.

We are long past the point of needing to care about  whether he understands what he is doing or why.    The fact, is that he has  repeatedly done and said things that threaten and hurt the nation, from supporting white nationalist tactics designed to reboot the Civil War to bringing the world to the doorstep of nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.   He is childlike in his reactions, dividing rather than joining.  He wounds rather than heals, lashing out with all the power at his command from the greatest bully-pulpit in the world.

Be it from picking at open wounds of racial hatred and fear to pitting football fans one against the other under the guise of patriotism, he is tearing us apart.    Assisted by Russian bots, he sews clouds of chaos, confusion and division, and then hides behind his evil creation while dreaming up his next diversion to deflect from the truth of his actions.

He has repeatedly shown an ignorance of both history and contemporary reality.  Now, he openly attacks injured and suffering Americans.  Donald J. Trump, must be impeached.  Those who continue to support this madness will be forever complicit in the damage he continues to inflict, both here on the mainland and on the island of Puerto Rico, which, as he has so vacuously put it,  remains surrounded by “big water, ocean water.”

God, help us.  It appears the cowards in Congress certainly won’t.

To Journalists: Thank You For Your Service

Watching  reporters putting themselves in harm’s way to cover Harvey and now Irma, makes me think of the 115 journalists who died doing their jobs in 2016, nine of whom died on U.S. soil.

Every police officer who dies on the job in the United States is memorialized, called a hero, and rightfully so.  Sixty four officers died in the U.S. in 2016.   Most were honored with parades and days of public mourning.   When a journalist is killed there’s no parade and generally no big public display of sympathy.

There are obvious differences between cops and reporters.  One, is that the potential for being shot and killed is a very real possibility for anyone who takes the oath to become a police officer.  That’s why they’re allowed to carry guns and go out on the streets under the color of authority.  I doubt any cub reporter expects to die out on a story.

When public officials talk about first responders, journalists are almost never mentioned.   Perhaps it’s time to afford a bit more appreciation to those legitimate journalists who bring us our news, as opposed to all the politically motivated non-stop complaining.

Every few months some police organization calls asking for money.   When was the last time a journalist called asking you to contribute to defend and protect the First Amendment or the Freedom of Information Act?

Currently, the Newseum in Washington, D.C. is underfunded and threatened by closure, even though it stands as a monument to American journalism, including its memorial to journalists who died while on the job.

Is the service of journalists any less important to the country than the service of our police?   Is it even possible to hang a price tag on the value of freedom, something that cannot survive without an unhindered press?

Careful what you take for granted.   It just might go away.

Finding Salvation In Baseball

 

Generally, pretending a problem doesn’t exist only makes it worse. This may not be the case with Donald Trump.   I no longer need to hear his voice.  It takes only his image popping up on a video screen to make me mildly nauseous.

I considered watching Trump’s address in Phoenix last night but decided against it.   In all likelihood, it would be just one more largely nonsensical rave, filled with falsehoods and general negativity, containing nothing good at all.  For anybody.   Just more fodder for his base, who, filled with the joy of madness,  have already taken leave of their senses.  He probably wouldn’t even say anything about the sailors we lost in the collision of the USS John S. McCain.   So I watched a baseball game instead.

Turned out that I made the right move.

After the game, one of the pundits told me that Trump’s campaign-type rally, only seven months into his first term, was in fact just one more negative, nonsensical rave, filled with falsehoods.   There was nothing good for anybody.   No real content about anything, including his much heralded plan for going forward in Afghanistan.  I was also informed that he ignored our sailors recently lost at sea.

Like any small child whose only goal is to irritate the hell out of you, the only sensible course of action with Trump is to ignore him, while continuing to demand that the Republicans, who hold the reigns of power in D.C., do what they were elected to do, putting the best interests of the country ahead of their own selfish best interests.

They need to either impeach the Donald or use the 25th Amendment to get rid of him as quickly as possible.   Why?  Because he appears to be trying to re-boot the Civil War, a position which is quite simply, nuts.

While we wait around to see what happens,  I am pretty much resigned to believing the only way to survive Trump, will be to watch more baseball.  Completely ignoring the crazy man in the White House until the miserable, cowardly Republicans lose their majority in the House and Senate in 2018, or even better, Trump loses the election in 2020.

Until the inevitable happens, whatever that turns out to be,  I offer the simple hypothesis that watching baseball is a viable alternative. It is at least, a way to stay sane, as Donald Trump appears to be an exception to the rule that ignoring a problem will only make it worse.

Has The Donald Gone Bye-Bye?

The question must be asked.  Has the President of the United States gone completely loco?   His reckless and seemingly mentally unbalanced statements appear to be getting worse.

Within the past couple of days, Donald J. Trump, has taken the world to the brink of a nuclear confrontation, threatening millions of lives by taunting the boy-man leader in North Korea.  From the safety and comfort of his country club in New Jersey, he has called the Governor of little Guam, our island territory in Kim’s nuclear crosshairs, assuring him “We’re behind you one-thousand percent!”   Really?   Never would have guessed.  Thing is, it was totally avoidable.

So was his idiotic statement thanking Russian President Vladimir Putin, a man who can do no wrong in Trump’s eyes, for expelling more than seven-hundred American diplomats from Russia.   Trump said that was just fine with him because expelling all those diplomats would save the U.S. a pile of money.

The Americans who have been expelled from Russia are career diplomats, who will be reassigned and not fired, so there’s no money to be saved.   Beyond that, our President has just praised a foreign adversary for kicking the United States in the teeth.   He can come back later and say he didn’t mean it but the fact is he said it and he’s the President, and his words carry weight.   Beyond that, it’s one more example of Putin being able to do no wrong in the eyes of Donald Trump.

What does Putin have on Trump?   Is Trump being blackmailed by the Russians?   Is it possible that Trump’s creeping authoritarianism, now challenging even his own party, could be guided by a foreign power?   Can he claim he’s just delivering on his promise to “drain the swamp?”  At times it feels like there’s an evil brilliance behind Donald’s actions that exceeds his abilities.

And now comes the creme de la creme of bizarro statements with Donald’s threat to invade the sovereign nation of Venezuela.    When I first heard it I laughed.  I stopped laughing as the frightening realization hit me that Trump might finally have gone completely off his nut.   What next?   Sending the 101st Airborne into the woods around Chappaqa, in search of Hillary’s emails?

Whatever Mr. Trump’s problem is, it appears to be getting worse.  It no longer matters whether Trump is acting to create a diversion or if he’s truly delusional.  Neither is acceptable.   The Republicans must act now to put a stop to this madness.

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LATE ADD – HE’S DONE IT AGAIN – The piece above was written before the Neo-Nazi / White Nationalist automobile attack on counter protesters in Charlottesville, VA, which Trump tried to explain away by saying, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”    Unacceptable rubbish.

When it comes to Nazis, there are only two sides, fascism and freedom.  Many of us lost loved ones who fought to keep the world free of Nazis in World War II.  Trump is obviously trying to pacify those in his base who are white, racist, Nazi or KKK.     Unpresidential, Un-American and totally unacceptable.

His Next Tantrum Could Kill Millions

We bounce merrily along,  ignoring the fact that what we’ve done in the past has failed to work, even when presented with our latest crises, the terrible “Opioid Epidemic” and the nuclear threat posed by North Korea.   Many of our alleged leaders react with nonsense, or fail to react at all, hiding behind the marble columns in DC, doing nothing and hoping no one will notice.

How much worse can Opioids be than the tons of Cocaine that were poured into our inner cities in the eighties to circumvent the Congress and provide funding to the Contras?  Were she alive, would cute and perky little Nancy Reagan again be telling us all to “just say no?”

Or is this a different sort of problem, because so many white people are impacted along with poor blacks in the inner-cities, where the war on drugs was an abject failure, turning our streets into free-fire zones while the potential for a real solution, decriminalizing drugs and treating it as a medical rather than a legal problem, continued to be all but ignored.   It’s just so much easier albeit more costly, to keep throwing people in jail.

As for North Korea, an armistace was signed in July of 1953.   A pause in the fighting, and that’s where it’s been for more than sixty years.  Now, suddenly, we’re all supposed to lose sleep because the boy-man Donald Trump has decided to pin Kim Jong-un’s ears to the wall?

Diplomacy was working.  At the UN, we finally had both China and Russia in our corner, which might have led to a real solution with Kim and North Korea.   It would have taken some time, but we might actually have reached a point where, like China, North Korea could have been included rather than excluded from the economic ties that bind our family of nations.

Instead of taking the opportunity the UN provided, Trump slammed the door shut on a peaceful resolution by pushing Kim to the brink of nuclear war.   It’s difficult to determine whose judgment is more flawed, Kim or Donald, who now, apparently, is being mostly advised by military men, whose training leans toward fighting and winning wars, not the fine art of diplomacy.

Trump is also, apparently, influenced by his base, made up largely of white, non-college educated and aging white men, who feel angry for being left behind and seem to only understand someone who is one of their own.   Another aging angry white guy, who wants to kick somebody’s ass.   I often thought Barack Obama, acted too much like a debate team captain, but hey, threatening nuclear war against a frightened kid with a really bad haircut and nukes is no answer either.

Beyond that, it’s doubtful Donald Trump has the strength or courage to actually kick anyone’s ass.  But he puts on a good show for his base.  Problem is that this time the show,  featuring Trump’s big mouth, could get millions of people killed.

Kim, is like a child holding a roomful of adults hostage with a loaded shotgun.  The last thing you should do is enrage the child to the point that he throws a fit and pulls the trigger.   Trump can’t seem to understand this.   Maybe he doesn’t know there are 300-thousand Americans in South Korea.  Perhaps he doesn’t understand that he’s playing with their lives and the lives of more than 50-million South Koreans as well?  Maybe it just doesn’t register?

The nation needs to take a collective breath, step back and think, rather then just recoiling in fear at Trump’s next outrageous, insane utterance about Kim or Opioids.   We need to ask ourselves what we as a people can actually do to fix these problems and then demand that our leaders get it done.

There are solutions.   Federal and state governments can come up with a workable plan to treat drug abuse like the medical problem it is.   The money saved from housing people in private jails on non-violent drug charges should more than pay for the effort.

For their part, the Republicans, and I know this will be difficult, but the Republicans must begin impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump.   Or they can continue wondering just how unhinged his mind actually is, while they wait for the bombs to fall.  If not in North Korea, then somewhere else.  If nuclear war is the result and millions are killed, it will be on their heads.  The Republican Party.

“Just say no,” doesn’t work.  It never did.   Many of the problems resulting from that failed policy are still with us.  The war on drugs failed miserably.  Sending out a potentially demented president to conduct a war of words with a nuclear armed lunatic boy-man, is equally flawed.  Real solutions are out there,  but our leaders must have the courage to act.  Sliding one way and then the other to protect their own selfish best interest as they continue to ignore the real needs and security of the nation is not acceptable.

The childish cry of “Just say no,” doesn’t work.  Never did.  It’s time to think like adults and come up with some workable solutions.

A Clueless Trump – A Leaderless Nation

It’s so reassuring to be repeatedly told by the Trump Administration that they’re “keeping all their options open” and that “nothing is off the table.” What a load.  Still, far better to hear that than some White House wonk telling us, “We have no policies because we have no real idea of what the hell we’re doing from one day to the next.”

Knowing the State Departments is rejecting funding to combat Russian propaganda (that would be actual fake news), because it might upset the Russians, and that  some are probably laying bets on how long General Kelly will last as Donald’s alleged Chief of Staff, does nothing to quiet the storm.

What a big, bright, beautiful vision for the future. This can’t continue.  The Republicans are gonna have to stop it.  Stop the Russians and their golden boy in the Oval Office, that is,  if there are any Republican patriots left.   Oh wait, did I really write that?  Silly me.   They have already repeatedly proven themselves to be beyond any ability whatsoever to put country ahead of party and personal aggrandizement – with the possible exception of this last vote on the Affordable Care Act.    Whether the vote was a McCain inspired aberration or a new beginning remains to be seen.

FOP Needs To Do Right By Its Members

Now that Donald Trump has tried to poison the minds of Boy Scouts at their Jamboree and in another instance openly encouraged police to use excessive force, isn’t it time for the Fraternal Order of Police, the “FOP” to withdraw their endorsement of Mr. Trump?

Donald Trump has opened the door for FOP leadership to do the right thing by getting in line with other law enforcement leaders who are speaking out against the President’s appeal for police officers to get “rough” with those taken into custody.

The FOP’s leadership made a mistake and it’s time for them to deal with it. Their more than 300,000 members deserve nothing less.   There are a lot of good cops out on the streets trying to do their jobs as best they can from one day to the next.  It’s just plain wrong to paint them all with the same broad brush of Trumpist extremism. With its support for Donald Trump the FOP is not only making its membership look bad, it is also potentially creating ill-will with the community at large.  Police work is difficult enough without mixed-signals.

Mr. Trump, Leave The Boy Scouts Alone

Following Trump’s asinine and dangerous rant at the Boy Scout Jamboree, a thought popped into my head. The simple truth is that the United States is like one great big store. We live in the store. We own it. It’s like we live in an apartment above our great big store. The people we hired to manage our store are doing an unacceptable job. Simply put, it is time to bring in new managers who can get our business back on track.

Our Chief Executive should not be on the campaign trail six months after his inauguration filling our Boy Scouts full of self-serving, nonsensical political propaganda. What other figure on the world stage has ever sunk so low as to demand not loyalty to the country but personal loyalty to him from the nation’s youth?  Anybody come to mind?  My disgust for Donald J. Trump has hit a new low.

As with all potentially sociopathic personalities, we have reached a point where it no longer matters whether Mr. Trump does what he does intentionally or whether he might be delusional.   The Congress must do its duty, fulfill its obligation to the people, and begin impeachment proceedings immediately.  Anything less will be negligence and will land directly on the Republican Party, which currently controls both houses of the Congress.

Ron Olsen
Former Member
Boy Scouts of America

Guest Spot On 105.7 “The Fan”

  Scott Garceau and Jeremy Conn (photo: 105.7, The Fan)

Just went on the air on the Scott Garceau Show on 105.7 “The Fan,” to discuss the upcoming parole of O.J. Simpson.   Flattered to have done a guest spot on the top sports talk show in Maryland.  Amazing how it all came rushing back to me, the Bronco chase, the murder scene and the trials.  Thanks Scott, you’re the best!   Outstanding being back on the air with you after all those years.  And thanks for plugging my soon to be released book about covering O.J. Simpson.

Whispers From Beyond

Myrtle Swenson-Stinton and daughter Ramona, circa 1935

I wake up some mornings with messages in my head.   Sometimes, they’re from people who are long gone, like my Swedish Grandmother from Minnesota.

It might be attributed to having awakened in the middle of a dream, or, for those of a more spiritual bent, a message from beyond the grave.  I can’t tell you what it is.  It just happens.  Sometimes, as with this most recent incident, it’s comforting.

My Grandmother, Myrtle Carolina Swenson-Stinton, was born in Minneapolis along with two sisters and four brothers.  Her father, Lars Swenson, was an immigrant, who got to the U.S. by serving as a a bond servant.   He had no money, and selling himself into servitude was apparently the only means he had of getting to America. Eventually,  after working off his debt, he learned the upholstery business and opened a furniture store in Minneapolis.

At some point in the process, he saw a photo of the woman who would be my Great Grandmother, Johanna.  He asked for her hand and she agreed.  He sent to Sweden for her, she arrived and they produced seven kids, my Grandmother Myrtle, among them.

It couldn’t have been easy.  In the few photos I have my Great Grandmother looks weary, as though she’s been beaten up by life, even though my Great Grandfather apparently died a wealthy man so he probably could have afforded to get her some help with that big family.

Non of this has anything to do with the message from my Grandmother.  Or maybe it does.   She too, led a relatively difficult life and it is perhaps helpful to occasionally remind ourselves that we don’t come from weak people.

I remember wash day, when my Grandmother would feed the bedclothes into an ancient washing machine down in the basement.   It was open on the top and she’d sprinkle in a little soap powder and then push the sheets down into the tub.  After the rotor had sufficiently beaten the sheets for a few minutes, she lifted them out  soaking wet and fed them into a wringer attached to the top of the machine.   She would then turn the wringer by hand as she fed the sheets into the contraption.  Once they had been wrung out she’d repeat the process with clean water to rinse out the soap.  I swear to God, it was barely a step above taking everything down to the river and beating it on the rocks, which, in fact, might have been an easier alternative.

Myrtle Swenson – Stinton, was a tall, slender woman, with an iron will and the disposition of a Minnesota Methodist.    There was no smoking, drinking or swearing in her house or on her property.   She was habitually neat and clean and I will forever remember those big white sheets drying on the line in her backyard, waving in the Minnesota breeze until they were freshly dried and fit for her family. While she rarely complained about anything or had a bad word to say about anybody,  this morning I awoke knowing exactly what she’d say about our current state of political affairs.

“It’ll all come out in the wash” she’d say.   Maybe she did say it, as it was the first thing in my head when my eyes opened?   Again, I have no idea where these things come from, but it was and is a comforting thought, so I’m not complaining.

One thing I do know for certain is that my Grandmother, a good Minnesota Methodist,  would never, ever,  tell a lie.   It’s nice to have someone you can count on, isn’t it?

Wanted: A Little Truth Telling

The most victimized by “fake news,” are those who most loudly decry its very existence. They fall prey to it because they don’t have the critical thinking skills needed to identify what it is and to recognize where it’s coming from – that it is being produced by the very same people and organizations they loudly support on the far-right.

Among these purveyors of political propaganda perhaps the most noteworthy is Donald J. Trump, who continues to stand the media on its head by declaring real news to be fake and vice-versa.

And now, rising to yet a new level of deceit, it appears there are those who are going to great lengths to design “leads” on fake news stories.  It’s a kind of reverse “phishing”  technique aimed at the legitimate media, attempting to get real news organizations hooked on a phony story by planting bogus information so that once the story comes out the alt-right can point its crooked finger at the legitimate media while screaming, “See we told you so!  Fake News!”   

It appears the legitimate media’s Queen of intellectual power and credibility, Rachel Maddow, was a recent target of this technique.

As “The Hill” reports – “MSNBC host Rachel Maddow warned other media outlets on Thursday that she believes she was provided forged National Security Agency documents alleging collusion between a Trump campaign official and Russia’s efforts to influence last year’s presidential election.

“I feel like I need to send this up like a flare for other news organizations in particular,” Maddow said on her program Thursday night.”

So Maddow and her producers didn’t fall for it.   They didn’t get sucked into the vortex of what appeared to be a big story based upon what appeared to be an official document.  Good for them.  As she pointed out on her show, one wonders who else has taken the bait, or might?   One wonders if Dan Rather’s producer at CBS and ultimately Rather himself,  might not have been victims of this same tactic?

There are those who might say a media organization will have only itself to blame if it fails to properly check out the information it’s using prior to airing or publishing a story.  And they’d be right.  However, if those planting the fake story are really good at what they’re doing,  if they have unlimited backing from some…oh, let’s call it an “evil empire”…. then it’s a good bet that eventually they will be able to hook somebody with their scheme.   Maybe as big a fish as Dan Rather or Rachel Maddow?

With the President of the United States acting as Finger Pointer in Chief,  firing off repeated allegations of “fake news” and even suggesting the law should be changed to make it easier to file a lawsuit against the media,  our political and media environments are growing stranger by the hour.   Every tweet, holds the potential for a new horror, like the latest from Donald Trump Jr.,  showing Donald Trump in a fighter jet shooting down another jet labeled “CNN.”   This is not funny or clever, it is unacceptable behavior that could lead to a member of the press being seriously injured or killed.

Much of this feels like one of those spy novels set in the 60’s, where the KGB was out to get us using anything that worked, be it disinformation, misinformation, blackmail, and probably a few other spy tricks most of us had never thought of, like hacking an American election or buying off highly-placed elected American officials?  The principle difference, of course, is that in the 60’s, it was the U.S. Government and the American press that were aligned against the Russians.   Now it’s Trump and the Russians, who appear to be aligned against the American press.

Against this backdrop Mr. Trump meets with Vladimir Putin, the President of the United States,  still under the influence of what appears to be continued denial with regard to Russian hacking as he agrees to set the hacking issue aside so that they can move forward with their relationship?

Question is, move forward with what?   Is the totalitarian Putin going to stop murdering journalists, jailing opposition politicians, invading neighboring countries, supporting a bloodthirsty dictator in Syria even while he promises a partial ceasefire?    And Donald Trump, the President of the United States, gives the appearance of being just one more useful idiot as he looks the other way in tacit approval of all that Putin stands for.

According to Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the two sides came away from their two-hour meeting during the G20 Summit, with an agreement to hold further talks,  “regarding commitments of noninterference in the affairs of the United States and our democratic process.”  It’s important to understand the insanity of believing the United States can work with the Russians on preventing future hacking incidents, when it’s the Russians who are doing the hacking but refuse to admit that it’s taking place.   And this apparently, is the “deal” Trump got from Putin.  It’s laughable.

Whose best interests does Trump have in mind?  Ours, or Putin and his Russian oligarchs?   And where do Trump’s business interests fit in?   Perhaps even more troubling is the question of whether this President has the intellectual capacity to sort it all out,  whether he may be suffering from one or more disabilities that preclude the possibility of rational thought?  More than one observer has commented that his personality appears to have been impacted since entering the political process, some saying he is changed man.  In addition, his physical well being remains suspect, as we have  yet to see anything approaching a comprehensive medical report on his 71 year-old physique.

Is the partial ceasefire real, or nothing but disinformation?   A lie that will turn to dust in a few weeks, after Trump has used it as red meat for his base, ostensibly proving that his relationship with Putin has some value after all, while the fact that Mr. Putin is believed to have directed the hacking of an American election will be nothing but an afterthought?  Just another bit of fake news.  Another Trumpian deflection,  targeting an American public who increasingly look like lambs to the slaughter as the Kremlin chalks up one more victory in its ongoing assault on Liberal Democracy.

Raqqa Who?

CNN is running an “exclusive” with their reporter going inside Raqqa, as the attack on ISIS continues. At this point in the exercise, how many Americans do you suppose even care? How many do you suppose have any idea where Raqqa is, or have any genuine concern at all for U.S. troops in combat zones in the Middle East or North Africa, so long as they aren’t impacted by another attack on U.S. soil?

Has the “backdoor draft” put an end to any real connectivity with troops in harm’s way?  What is our policy, our long-term plan with regard to the Middle East and North Africa?  Do we even have one?  Isn’t that the real story they should be covering, as opposed to this unending military police action with no end-game in sight while government officials heap praise on a Military-Industrial Complex that continues raking in billions from endless warfare?

Has the nightmare Eisenhower warned us of come to pass while a largely non-watchdog media refuses to recognize reality?   Can you point to Raqqa on a map or provide a description of its military significance?   Didn’t think so.   And most of us won’t give a damn unless there’s another attack on U.S. soil generating the fear and anger necessary to do whatever it takes militarily to solve the problem, ignoring the fact that in all likelihood the only real solution is political and not military.