Category Archives: Blog

Donald Trump / A Way Out For America

President Donald J. Trump, has just turned his back on our NATO allies and surrendered the country to former KGB agent, Vladimir Putin and the Russians.   And he did it on the world stage.  This is madness.  Some are suggesting that Mr. Trump may be suffering from dementia.

For whatever reason, Trump is clearly putting the interests of a hostile foreign power above the interests of the United States.  This is clearly unacceptable.

There is a way to remove Trump from office short of impeachment.  The Republicans will have to do it, as they hold the vice presidency,  a majority in both houses and a majority of what the Constitution calls the “executive departments” of the government.  That way, is the 25th Amendment.  Here is what it says.

“Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”  – 25th Amendment, Section 4

Will this happen?  Never say never, but so long as some 40% of the country remains in denial it is highly unlikely.   However, this latest embarrassment  on the world stage being what it was,  indicating quite possibly that things will only get worse,  would lead one to believe that at some point the 25th Amendment might be seen as a viable option – but only if enough Republicans believe that doing nothing will be more costly to their party at the polls.

Paranoid? You Should Be

12 members of the Russian GRU (military intelligence) have been indicted for working to influence the 2016 election on behalf of Donald Trump. Who ya gonna side with? The FBI and all of American intelligence, or Donald and his Russian buddies, who undoubtedly have long-term dream scenarios of overthrowing the governments of the U.S. and the U.K., while fracturing the EU into pieces while Soviet (whoops, excuse me) Russian influence floods the globe?

Pardon my paranoia, but sometimes a little paranoia can be a good thing.   Can’t prove any of this, but sometimes things are exactly as they seem.  

I can’t help but think there was a very specific reason the FBI announced these indictments just prior to DJT’s very private meeting with Vladimir Putin, to be attended only by interpreters. I think it may have been more than pushback for the show trial in the House the Republicans held to slam the FBI and the Mueller investigation.  It almost feels like Trump and his supporters in the House, are doing all they can to provide cover for Putin and the Russians.  All of it leads one to think that the country could be in far more peril than anyone suspects, except for the intelligence community, and that they were sending a message to Putin and his American puppet to back off.  

There are two games being played.   The one we’re all watching on television, and the other, taking place out of the spotlight, on an international chessboard with pieces being moved in the shadows.

We do know that Donald J. Trump, refuses to admit the Russians meddled in the election and that he continued that refusal even after being briefed about these new indictments by the FBI.  We also know that his son-in-law, Jerad Kushner, was talking to the Russians during the runup to the election, trying to set up a back-channel to the Kremlin out of Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States.

There’s so much more.

Russian oligarch, Dmitry Rybolovlev, paid Donald Trump $95 million for a Florida property Trump purchased for $41 million.    It’s not uncommon for property to appreciate in value over time and Palm Beach is a pricey neighborhood but almost everybody concerned agrees that this was an unusually high profit.      It did in fact, at that time,  set a record for the price of a single family home anywhere in the U.S.    Rybolovlev’s people say it was simply an investment.  However, there is evidence that Rybolovlev and Trump may be more than casual business associates.   The Seattle Times reports that, “Federal Aviation Administration records reviewed by The Palm Beach Post and other news outlets have tracked Rybolovlev’s private plane to cities where Trump has traveled, both during his campaign and into his presidency.”

The New York Times reported that Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg met with Trump attorney Michael Cohen at Trump Tower eleven days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, to discuss ways to improve US-Russia relations.   A short time later, one of the oligarch’s subsidiaries signed a million-dollar contract with Cohen, according to an article in salon.com. 

Just days ago, the State of Maryland was notified by the FBI that a Russian oligarch owns the company that handles their election registration software.   According to State Senate President Thomas Mike Miller, Jr., and House Speaker Michael Bush, “We were briefed late yesterday, along with Governor Hogan, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the software vendor who maintains portions of the State Board of Elections voter registration platform was purchased by a Russian investor in 2015, without the knowledge of state officials.”

According to the New York Post, from 2011 to 2013 the FBI bugged a unit on the 63rd floor of Trump Tower, which was allegedly being used by the Russian mob for gambling and money laundering.

Politico reports that Donald Trump Jr. praised the Russians at a real estate conference in 2008, saying, “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,” he said of Trump Organization properties. “There’s indeed a lot of money coming for new-builds and resale reflecting a trend in the Russian economy and, of course, the weak dollar versus the ruble.”

Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who popped up from out of thin air, was a former adviser to the former President of Ukraine,  Viktor Yanukovych, who is a political ally of Russian President, Vladimir Putin.  When the Yanukovych government fell amidst evidence of widespread corruption, Yanukovych, fled to Russia.

To this day DJT has refused to take any action to stop the Russians from meddling in upcoming elections.  He’s done nothing.  Almost as though he is under orders to stand down, to avoid getting in the way of the Russians.

Trump is turning his back on our friends and allies while singing the praises of dictators  and tyrants who oppose the very concept of democratic freedoms and self-determination.

How much more do you need?  Sometimes things are exactly as they seem.

Phony News Hurts Broadcast Journalism’s Image

Fellow news junkies – It was bad enough when local stations gave IHOP tons of free advertising when they changed their name to IHOB. That was barely news…..just barely, and probably not news at all. Now they’re doing a story about IHOP changing it back again because it was all a ruse to promote their burgers – giving them even more free ads.

I was almost over that slander on what news should really be when a local station did a “story” on Chick-fil-A’s annual promotion, offering a free entre’ to anyone who shows up at one of their outlets dressed as a cow. Salads, not included.

Now there’s a real news story. Something that will impact us all. The gay-bashing owner of a chicken sandwich chain offering free food to any idiot willing to dress up like a cow. Really? Come on. Stop disguising free ads as news. You’re hurting us all by destroying the image of American broadcast journalism.   And just so you’ll know, it’s not the journalists doing this, it’s the companies they work for, who will do almost anything to get ad dollars, even if they have to give away free ads disguised as news to do it.

Don’t criticize FOX, if you’re gonna turn around and disguise free ads as news stories.  Don’t cringe when Trump accuses the mainstream media of doing fake news when that’s precisely what you’re doing.

TV salespeople have been offering  free news coverage as “sweetners” to close deals for years.  Back in the 70’s a former colleague, a producer, was fired for refusing to run the grand opening of a McDonald’s in Columbus, Ohio, as a news story.  He gave up his job to preserve his professional ethics.  Suppose anybody would do that now?

A lie is a lie is a lie.   You either have credibility or you don’t, and when it’s gone, getting it back again is a bitch.   The saddest part, is that most of what the mainstream is doing is an attempt at solid journalism.  But none of that matters when they “fudge” what they’re doing  just a little, to help the sales department get another account.

America – Who And What We Are

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”    In Congress, July 4, 1776 

Annapolis And The Hazards Of Journalism In This “Age Of Trump”

A few thoughts from Patrick  McGrath-

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In retirement, I wrote occasional columns for the Annapolis Capital, and dealt with the now murdered editorial editor Gerald Fischman. My daughter Megan knew John McNamara as a young college intern back in Bowie in 1989.

We live near Annapolis, and suddenly mass shootings have come close to home. There will be funerals for all five victims. But I hope there will also be some kind of memorial service for all five…where journalists who did not know the victims well…or more likely not at all….can show up to show their solidarity with the important role that journalists play in our society.

Police and firemen have understood this for a long time, and they make a major effort to turn out for the funerals of their fallen brethren. This may be a moment when members of the news media need an occasion to show up to show their support…particularly in a time when the news media is being described by Donald Trump as the “enemy of the people” and the purveyor of “fake news.”

Pat McGrath

(Pat is a well-respected and retired journalist,  living in Maryland.  He and I were colleagues at WMAR-TV in Baltimore – RO)

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.