The Re-Education Of America

Americans need to be re-educated to the fact that there are still solid, objective news outlets like the New York Times, The LA Times, The Washington Post, CBS and PBS. These are not left-wing news outlets, they are legitimate mainstream news operations that do their best to lean neither left nor right and can be depended upon for fairness and objectivity – or as Carl Bernstein calls it, “The best available version of the truth.”

Overseas, the BBC, France24 and Euronews also practice traditional journalism and can be accessed on the Internet. France24 is available on YouTube. In the US market, thankfully, CBS News appears intent upon returning to its former status at the very top of the broadcast journalism food chain.   A position it held for many years, until profits trumped public service.   

Across the country there is excellent reportage being done on a daily basis by journalists who do what they do primarily because it matters.   Wherever you live, there are broadcast and print journalists working daily to bring you not infotainment, but actual news. They are working in service to our democracy.   They should be commended for that service just as we commend our military.

It is too often forgotten that freedom is dependent upon both the sword and the quill.   It is not unreasonable to advocate re-directing some of our massive military budget over to public broadcasting and investigative reporting at the nation’s remaining great newspapers.

There was no question of the traditional news outlets veracity, until biased, right-wing outlets like FOX News came along and declared their slanted version of the news to be the only correct version available. This nonsense poisoned the minds of millions of Americans, who were attracted to a slanted, entertainment-based version of the news they wanted to hear, rather than real, objective news that made them uncomfortable because it forced them to think. And so entertainment programming disguised as news drew millions of viewers to outlets like FOX and right-wing talk radio. The country was forever changed because of it.

The time is long past to re-educate Americans that real news outlets are still available, and that there is a difference between news broadcasts and entertainment programming designed not to ferret out the truth but to come up with a formula to garner the greatest profit possible, even if that means putting a biased show on the air disguised as legitimate news or writing a headline that reflects more fiction than fact.

Its’ time for America to regain a sense of pride in its Journalism. I’m not sure how to get it done, I just know that somehow we have got to do it – because right now, a great many Americans think fake news is real and real news is fake – and that my friends, is a formula for disaster.

Just Another Wall Of Lies

Misdirection through deception with a wall of lies.  It’s all been done before.

The communists in the former Soviet Union put up the Berlin Wall in 1961.   They did it, they said, to protect their people from the “fascist” capitalists, with their corrupt judiciary and propaganda promoted by a free press on the other side.

In 2017, the American people are being told another wall is needed and that the free press is putting out “fake news,” while a court system that rules against the Trump Administration has to be ethnically biased.

Anger, is the only reasonable response to fascism.   It is a frightening thought that our representatives in Washington D.C., may not be angry enough to stop Donald Trump by any legal means possible before he replaces this current interim FBI Director with someone who will shut down the investigation into the Trump Administration’s relationship to the Russians.

Don’t be fooled.  It’s not the people on the other side of the wall that we should fear.   It’s those who advocate building the wall, shutting down the free press and intimidating the judiciary in an attempt to bring Democracy to its knees.

The Self-Indictment Of Donald J. Trump

So Donald J. Trump not only fired the FBI Director who was leading an investigation into whether Trump and (or) his Administration colluded with the Russians to alter the outcome of an election,  he has also admitted on national television that he fired James Comey,  specifically because of that same investigation and then threatened, via tweet, that Comey had better hope no one  recorded a recent meeting between the two.

In Trump’s own words,  “But regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey……..And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’”  -Donald J. Trump

Since that statement and the threat that a recording may exist, the Supreme Court and Richard Nixon, have kept popping into my head.

Mr. Trump, apparently has no knowledge that in July of 1974, the Supreme Court ordered Richard Nixon to release tapes proving that he and H.R. Haldeman conspired to obstruct an investigation by the FBI.

After that,  rather than going through impeachment in the House and a trial in the Senate, Richard Nixon, resigned.  And now Donald J. Trump, has admitted to doing the same thing.   He has admitted to obstructing an investigation by the FBI.  And he did it on national television.

The only thing standing between the American people and justice, by way of removing Donald J. Trump from office, is the Republican Party.   How much more will it take before these heretofore spineless Republicans put country before their party?   They now have both a legal and an ethical obligation to kick Trump to the curb. Legal, because of the obvious violation by way of his admission that he obstructed justice, and ethical, because of the man’s questionable personality issues highlighted by repeated self-contradiction and outright lies.

If a recording, taped, digital or otherwise, of Mr. Trump’s private conversation with Mr. Comey does exist, then the Senate, the House and the FBI, should take steps to acquire said recording as quickly as possible.   The destruction of said recording (evidence) could lead to another obstruction of justice charge.

If you have no background on the Watergate break-in and subsequent investigation you should consider reading the book, “All the President’s Men” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.   It’s also available on DVD.

Fascism By Any Other Name…

And now comes a new flurry of tweets from Trump including a thinly-veiled threat against now private citizen James Comey and an intellectually feeble defense of his Administration’s continued inaccuracies.

Tweet: “James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

Tweet: “..Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future “press briefings” and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”

Tweet: “As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!….”

This president is like a gunfighter with dust in his eyes, thoughtlessly blasting away at anything that moves. Apart from the damage being done to our democracy by a man who exhibits no credibility whatsoever, there is the danger that eventually he will hit something or somebody, potentially putting us all in harm’s way.

Something else that should be of interest is an interview aired by Amy Goodman on “Democracy Now!”   Goodman, interviewed New York University Professor of History and Italian Studies, Ruth Ben-Ghiat.   Professor Ben-Ghiat, is working on a book entitled, “Strongmen:  From Mussolini to Trump.”

Here is some of what Professor Ben-Ghiat, had to say-

“Trump doesn’t care too much about the GOP. It got him to power, it gave him the nomination, but it’s just a vehicle for him. So, that’s part of it.

The other thing is, a senior—a former senior intelligence official said that the Comey—the way that he fired Comey was “like an execution,” in quotes. And, you know, the method, and he did it—Trump is a—he’s a proponent of the doctrine of surprise. And this was a kind of threat to the FBI, to the American public, which is consistent with the kind of dangerous persona he has had. And I want to remind everyone that in January 2016, when he was on the campaign trail, he said, “I could stand on 5th Avenue and shoot someone and wouldn’t lose any followers.” This was, for me, a turning point. It meant that he was giving us a message that he considered himself to be above the law. And he was testing the GOP, which is what authoritarians do. They test, on their way up and once they’re in power, to see how much they can get away with. And the GOP rewarded him with the nomination. So he feels emboldened, now he’s in power, to do exactly this kind of thing.   

…….The thing about authoritarians today—and we can look at what’s happening in Turkey and elsewhere, and even in Russia—you don’t need to have a dictatorship in the classic sense to accomplish your goals. You can intimidate people. You can try and control the press. You can attack the judiciary, the media, the institutions, hollowing them out, without having to ban parties in the traditional fascist manner.” -Ruth Ben-Ghiat on “Democracy Now!”

The End Of The Imperial Trump Presidency

President Trump’s firing of FBI Director, Jim Comey, signals the beginning of the end for the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

It confirms the belief that Trump and his Administration are willing to do almost anything to hinder the FBI investigation into “Russiagate,”  leading to the obvious conclusion that the Administration has been colluding with elements of the Russian Government.   Beyond that, Trump and Jeff Sessions are obviously using Dep. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as a foil with regard to Sessions having to recuse himself from the Russiagate investigation.

An independent commission and special prosecutor need to be named as soon as possible to take this entire matter out of the hands of the politicians who are proving themselves incapable of handling this situation.   Trump will now nominate what Jeffrey Toobin so correctly labeled as a “stooge” to assume the role vacated by James Comey at the Bureau.  The FBI will no longer be able to carry this investigation forward with any credibility.

The White House, in the person of Donald   J. Trump,  has fired James Comey for something he said ten months ago.   This makes no sense except as an indication as to how desperate Trump is to make the FBI investigation into Russiagate go away.

It’s also possible that Donald J. Trump, the President of the United States and therefore the most powerful person in the world, has no ability to reason things through, but only to watch television and react on a moments notice with either satisfaction or extreme anger, lashing out with caustic and sometimes inane tweets or now a letter of termination.

It was another desperate move by a desperate demagogue who had already fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, immediately after she alerted the White House that National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, was in a position whereby he could be blackmailed by the Russians.  A demagogue who had just announced that he is sending more troops into Afghanistan.  Why?  Because he thinks we can do what the UK and the Russians could not do?  Or because ramping up a losing effort in Afghanistan would be a wonderful diversion from his Administration’s ties to the Russians after similar efforts against Kim Jong-un on the Korean Peninsula and with sending fifty-nine cruise missiles to bomb an abandoned air base in Syria had failed.

Come on.  Wake up America.  We’re being conned by someone whose actions appear at times to be beyond the reach of reason.   The result is not what’s best for America.   The result is chaos.

Chris Matthews calls what happened, “A little whiff of fascism.”  Possibly.  Or maybe something more.

 

Freedom Under Attack On Multiple Fronts

Business Insider is reporting that a branch of the FDA has been told to switch the television monitors in their building from CNN to FOX, per a request from the White House.

A thought:  Those who decry “fake news” the most, are the same folks who think fake news is real and real news is fake.   And we did it to ourselves.  Mostly.  But who really knows?  The Russians have got to be delighted.

Also, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, is looking into possibly of going after Stephen Colbert, for his alleged “obscene” attacks on President Trump.   Mr. Pai, is a Republican who was appointed by President Obama per a recommendation from Mitch McConnell.    One can only assume that Mr. Obama made this appointment back when he was still delusional and believing he could work with members of the Republican Party.

Hey, Ajit, you have a law degree, right?   Don’t you know that political speech is protected by the First Amendment?  Trump apparently has no idea, but you should.   You should also know about that Larry Flynt thing at the Supreme Court a few years back that set an iron-clad precedent regarding the protections offered political satire?   And you’re going after Colbert?  Maybe?   Are you kidding?  Or is this just harassment to make the big blond boss over in the White House feel good?

And finally, on this eve of the election in France, it appears someone (Russians?  Do ya think?) are doing to the French moderate candidate for president, Emmanuel Macron,  exactly what they did to Hillary Clinton.   They are apparently hacking his presidential campaign emails.   Not that it matters, but if Macron loses the election it could mean losing the European Union, a real coup for the oligarchs,  following the “Brexit” thing which also may have been partially engineered by the Russians who would like nothing better than to have the forces of Democracy pulled apart and scattered to the four corners, giving more power to fascists like Vladimir Putin.

All that’s needed now is for FBI Director Jim Comey to make a public statement linking  Macron with Anthony Weiner, even though the linkage is irrelevant.   Except that it will help throw the election to the candidate the Russians prefer.

Where the hell are the good guys?

Lord, have mercy.

 

A Humble Argument For The Impeachment Of Donald J. Trump

Donald J. Trump is not without fault.   Perhaps his greatest, is that his background rests with the business world and not with careful diplomacy or governance.

In business, the formula for success lies not with the good of the many, but in profitability.   If dumbing down the millions to make it easier to increase sales becomes necessary, then so be it.   If letting the market dictate prices even though the process will result in thousands of preventable deaths  and untold bankruptcies, then let the beast that is the common man and woman care for themselves.  Moving the market to its highest profitability is the greatest good.

If grinding Democracy beneath the jackbooted heel of Demagoguery becomes necessary to improve the lot of the few as opposed to the needs to the many, then let hired jackbooted thugs grind away.

Trump obviously has no understanding of of the good of the many or a decent feeling for just governance.   Instead of carefully thought out policy decisions he prefers the roar of the mob, whipped up not by the truth but by political nonsense shot through with innuendo. This could be why he continues on in campaign mode rather than developing reasonable policies.  It could be why he is attracted to totalitarianism and shows favor for “strongmen” like Vladimir Putin, Rodrigo Duterte,  and Kim Jong-un, whom he recently referred to as a “smart cookie.”

Trump was and obviously is not prepared for the the Office of President of the United States.   He must be impeached asap, if only for his violation of the Emoluments Clause.

Republicans, by their silence,  are complicit in the threat Mr. Trump represents.  If they continue to remain silent then they should be regarded as traitors.

Must we wait helplessly by for an illusory threat that requires the setting aside of The Constitution, the elimination of civil rights and the establishment of a totalitarian regime?  Are there so few patriots left in the Republican Party?

Frederick Douglas is dead, Andrew Jackson was not alive during the Civil War, Barack Obama was born on U.S. soil and Donald J. Trump has no business being in the White House.   He is there only because members of the Electoral College failed in their duty to protect our national best interest against an autocrat who is simply not qualified to lead.

Movies For Donald

I never would have believed America would vote in another knucklehead like the man the late, great, Molly Ivans referred to as “Shrub” Bush, but it happened.   And what’s the Donald up to now?   Well, now he’s bitching about how difficult it is to be president and how he longs for his old uber-wealthy lifestyle, where all he had to do was give orders and admire himself in a gilt-edged mirror in his gilt-edged apartment high above Manhattan.   Watching all those inferior little people who weren’t born into wealth scurry about far below his mighty tower.  It was so gratifying and being president is so  hard.   Poor Donald.  He has golden hair, a mighty golden belly and so many other wonderful qualities that nobody really appreciates.  His mommy told him so.

Watching Donald J. Trump go through on the job training is hell, but hey, if we send him a copy of “Blade Runner,” do you think he’ll watch it? I mean, he’s such a self-absorbed bonehead with so much catching up to do and he doesn’t read so maybe movies are the way to go? Maybe it could be a movement? Movies for Donald?

Do it today.   Send Donald a movie with some instructional value on DVD.  Make sure it’s entertaining enough to get him to watch.  If it’s an actual documentary, you’ll probably have to disguise it to look like an entertainment flick due to his apparent aversion to acquiring any actual perspective on reality.   The classic “Grapes Of Wrath” for example, might be disguised to look like a sci-fi flick about genetic engineering gone wrong, as hordes of carnivorous grapes go on the attack in Seattle.

We need to get him watching as many thought provoking films as possible or we’ll be stuck with what more than one prominent psychoanalyst has described as a full-blown case of malignant narcissism for a full four years as it appears the Republicans will never develop sufficient cojones to impeach this guy.

So send a movie.

“Ice Age: The Meltdown” might be a good place to start, or maybe  “Born On The Fourth Of July.”

Please help us Obe Wan Kenobi.  You may be our only hope.

 

Is Trump Taking Us To A Point Of No Return?

A bogus attack on an abandoned airfield in Syria, apparently mostly for publicity.   Dropping the “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan, again, apparently mostly for publicity,  and now this most recent acting out, calling all 100 U.S. Senators to the White House for what appears to have been another publicity stunt, forcing the country to spend money to set up a secure briefing room big enough to hold all those people at the White House when that same secure briefing area already existed for no additional expense on Capitol Hill.   All Trump had to do was send his three or four people over to the Hill, rather than busing 100 senators to the White House.  Is there a method to this madness?  Maybe.  Maybe he wants to make it appear as though he is doing all he can to keep the Congress informed as he ramps up the country for war with North Korea.

So far, none of it, not the bombing  of the abandoned airfield in Syria, or the giant “Mother” of all bombs in Afghanistan or even losing an aircraft carrier battle group as he increases the potential for war with North Korea, has been enough to erase the investigations into his administration’s ties to Vladimir Putin and the Russians.

This is nuts.  U.S. intelligence has informed us that the Russians and Turks have infiltrated Trump’s inner-circle.  It’s the elephant in the middle of the room while one of Trumps’s top advisors, Steve Bannon, openly brags about the effort underway to “deconstruct” our government as hundreds of positions remain unfilled due to personnel not having been nominated by the White House.

We have been warned that we can either fill all those unfilled diplomatic positions to help avoid war, or we will be forced to spend even more money going to war.   Generally speaking, military leaders are not heavily backgrounded in diplomacy.  They are backgrounded in going to war.  At the same time it is important to remember that the nation’s top diplomat, Secretary of State,  Rex Tillerson, has no professional diplomatic experience.   He is an oil company executive.

Mr. Trump says he is going to listen to his generals.   It might be assumed then, that the former CEO of ExxonMobil and a military man nicknamed “Mad Dog” are taking the point for U.S. diplomacy?

How much of this are we supposed to be able to stand?    Why is Congress acting like all this negligent and possibly deranged behavior is okay?  Where will Trump be busing them off to next?  A big lockup somewhere?   Where is the FBI?   Where are the patriots who care more for the country than their party affiliations?

Why, when the Trump Administration orders the United States Senate to get on a couple of buses for an unnecessarily costly and perhaps meaningless visit to the White House (other than giving Donald another opportunity to get all puffed up), did they do it?  Kudos to Bernie Sanders for not going.   Have our senators taken leave of their senses?

Oh wait.   The Republicans are in the majority, so if the Democrats refused to get on the bus, then the Republicans could call the Democrats uncooperative, blaming them for everything and anything that might go wrong with whatever the Donald does or does not plan on doing in the future.   It would be the Democrats fault, even if it wasn’t.   It will be their fault for not getting on the bus. That’s the way it is, when party loyalty trumps loyalty to one’s country.   There’s also the nasty fact that some of the Republicans feel a need to follow Trump’s orders or risk being targeted in their home districts in the next election.

Expect our collective sanity to be stretched to the max over the next few months or maybe even weeks as thinking Americans continue losing sleep.  As for me, I am abandoning the pundits and switching over to old movies as a diversion from being forced to focus on when and where Donald J. Trump will start our next big war in an obvious effort to make his personality issues and connectivity with the Russians go away.

It no longer matters whether Donald J. Trump is doing what he is doing intentionally or whether he is simply oblivious.   The Congress must take steps to put the ship of state back on a course that improves rather than threatens our security before Trump takes us to a point of no return.

This is not a business deal, this  is geopolitics and possibly war.  This is not putting America first.

This is insane.

 

What The Democrats Giveth The Republicans Rippeth Away

Watching the March for Science in DC today and hearing disparaging words about the lack of mental prowess exhibited by the current occupant of the White House, it occurred to me that President Jimmy Carter, a former submarine officer with an advanced knowledge of nuclear power, had solar panels installed on the people’s house back in 1979.   Those same solar panels were then ripped out by Ronald Reagan in 1981 as solar power advocates were undoubtedly outspent by lobbyists from the oil and gas industry.  I thought about this and was deeply saddened.  You should be too.  It contains an essential truth about our broken government. But it doesn’t end there.

Twenty-nine years later, Barack Obama,  who taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago, had solar panels reinstalled.   And now, rocketing ahead to 2017,  we find ourselves saddled with Donald Trump, a man who advocates a return to coal, as science deniers have taken control of the government while the icecaps melt and the planet grows warmer.

How long do you think it will be before the Science hating, climate change denying Trumpsters tear out the solar panels yet again?  This is after all, what these people do, making it necessary to hold a march to show our support not for civil rights or women’s rights or gay rights or human rights, but because the very question of the essential value of scientific endeavor, the right to seek out the pure light of knowledge is being threatened.

Anybody out there see the movie “Angels And Demons?”   Leonardo? Remember?  Anybody?

The Republicans are at it again.   Even now, Mr. Trump is probably up on the roof, wondering what those funny-looking black panels are. Oh wait.  It’s Saturday, so he’ll be on his regular weekend golf holiday in Florida, so it will probably be a few more weeks before the Luddites decide to tear out the solar panels once again to make a statement about their support for the fossil fuel industry .

With only limited time to spend on the presidency,  DJT has to be given time to continue gearing down, pulling us all backward with the angry, greed-born regression of the far-right.   (So long as it doesn’t irritate the Russians.)

While The Media Focuses On Bill O’Reilly…

One of the smartest comics out there, Lewis Black, was on the Colbert show last night talking about something which, I suspect, has been hitting a great many of us since November – getting up in the morning, turning on the tv and being so shell-shocked by the Trump Administration’s newest buffoonery that it takes until noon to recover.

It looks like most of the Trumpsters don’t have a clue as to what they’re doing. Most of the time.   Makes you want to bang your head against the wall while yelling, “dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.”

Most recently, our alleged Secretary of State and long-time business associate of Vladimir Putin and friend to Russia, Rex Tillerson, attacked the agreement on nuclear development with Iran, making it sound like the Trumpsers might want to tear it up and start over.   It was a “get tough” on Iran speech.  This morning, a day later, he’s walking it back, saying Iran is in compliance with the agreement.  Whoops.

A little more than a week ago, the Trumpsters lost an entire aircraft carrier strike group as Donald was down in Mara Lago eating chocolate cake when he should have been in the situation room back in DC.

That’s what the President of the United States is supposed to do after issuing threats to a nuclear-armed nation like North Korea with an erratic, unstable and murderous leader.   He is supposed to get his ass down into the situation room and makes plans.   Think ahead about things like….duh….”so where is the strike group right now?”   If Trump didn’t want the job then he shouldn’t have asked for it.

The Presidency of the United States does not afford enough spare time for weekend golf holidays and personal business promotions. Apart from that and making matters even more unacceptable, apparently nobody thought about calling the Pentagon for an update on the strike group’s location and heading, so the idiot Trump announced to the world that the carrier, along with several other war ships (“very powerful!”) were headed north to Korea when they were actually going south.   Dumb, dumb, dumb,dumb,dumb…

Lewis Black is right.  Almost every day it’s some new idiotic revelation.  Except for yesterday’s announcement that ExxonMobil is asking for a waiver on sanctions the U.S. put in place against Russia so that Exxon can move forward with a joint oil development venture they have with the Russian Government estimated to be worth as much as a half-trillion dollars.   Nothing idiotic about that.  Why do you think Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon was given his current job at the State Department?   The man came from out of nowhere with no previous political experience.

How and why was this business big-wig with ties to Putin and the Russians chosen to be Secretary of State by a presidential transition team just dripping with ties to Putin and the Russians? *

Not sure how we’re supposed to be able to put up with this for four years.  A bogus missile strike in Syria and the “mother of all bombs” dropped on a possibly meaningless ISIS position in Afghanistan – all of it apparently designed to divert our attention away from Trump’s connections to the Russians?  God, help us.

All you guys who voted for Trump because you thought nothing could be worse than another Clinton Administration – you own this mess.   You were wrong.   Big time.   Remember that when you go to the polls in 2018.  You screwed up to the point of putting the country in jeopardy with a possibly delusional president who thinks he’s a king and who may, just may, start a shooting war to cover his Administration’s past collaboration with the Russians and his current mistakes.   And the Republican Party, with its silence, is backing his every move.

The Trump Administration represents a real threat to the Republic and the world.  Meantime our media is leading the news with stories about Bill O’Reilly losing his job at FOX.

 

*H/T to Rachel Maddow

 

How Trump Got Himself Elected (Why The Russians Are Laughing)

A little truth thrown in with deception adds credibility and therefore legitimacy to a lie.    It’s probably safe to say that this simple method of adding a drop of truth to a massive deception could be a cornerstone of Vladimir Putin’s great Russian snow-job designed to cripple and if possible, destroy Democracy.

Consequently, we see “Sputnik Radio,” helping to keep progressive talkers like Thom Hartmann on the air, not to mention “RT” television,” formerly “Russia Today.”   I’m pretty sure Hartmann is all in favor of Democracy and against autocrats, oligarchs and dictators, and yet, he is broadcasting on a channel owned and operated by the Russian Government, presumably because Vladimir Putin lets him say mostly what he wants to say while his very presence provides legitimacy (cover) for a broader plan of attacking Democracy – even though that’s undoubtedly not his (Hartmann’s) intent.  His intent, surely,  is to keep practicing his craft, and Sputnik Radio and RT give him the ability to do that.

Of even more significance, is the fact that this technique of mixing in a bit of truth here and there with an overall deception is precisely the method Donald J. Trump used to get himself elected.   It was a principle pillar of his campaign as he told lie after lie about crowds cheering as the twin towers came down, about Barack Obama’s birthplace and Ted Cruz’s father being tied to Lee Harvey Oswald. Then, like magic, he would skillfully smile and spin, proclaiming the need for America to do more for its veterans, the need to support Medicare and Social Security while keeping the nation safe from “our enemies” so that he could eat chocolate cake and kiss babies.

And only he would be able to get it done.

A lot of it sounded pretty good, didn’t it?   Of course.  A little truth mixed in with a lot of deception got Donald J. Trump elected.    Not that the Russians had anything to do with it.   We’re still waiting for the FBI report on that one.

It should be noted that progressive talkers the caliber of Thom Hartmann, Ed Schultz, Larry King and Mike Papantonio  going on a Russian owned network  should probably be seen as an indicator of a broken American broadcasting system following the mega-mergers of the 80’s and 90’s (thank you, Ronald Reagan), serving to shut out alternative points of view.   Not “alternative news” mind you, but legitimate, informed and alternative points of view that can be supported by facts.   There’s a difference.   One is valid disagreement.   The other is BS.

Of critical importance right now is the need to uphold and support the First Amendment, even if the Russian Government uses it  to promote their own best interest.   If they can convince us (scare us enough) to set aside the First Amendment they will have lobbed a torpedo into the middle of what will be a crippled American ship.   The very fact that we support freedom of speech, no matter who is doing the talking is key to maintaining our freedom.  Even if it’s the Russians.   We can’t let these guys shred the Constitution, regardless of what their disinformation and fake news might say.

Imagine that, an enemy convincing us that we are being played for fools by letting them use our freedom of speech against us to the degree that we would consider setting aside the First Amendment or any other Constitutional freedom.  That’s beyond clever.  It’s pure evil.

So is using credible, progressive American talkers on Russian Government sponsored tv or radio,  lending credibility to those who would destroy our way of life.   I’m talking here about the Russians as the bad guys, not the progressive talk show hosts.  I know it can be confusing.  The Russians are counting on it.  It’s what disinformation is all about.

California Carrying The Democrats

California’s Dianne Feinstein 

Watching the pundits and other news oriented shows it becomes apparent that California politicians are carrying much of the weight for the Democratic Party.   There is always, of course, political maneuvering behind the scenes and away from the cameras, but that’s not what shapes public opinion.  It’s what happens out in front of the cameras that causes most people to remember and react, and out there in the limelight, in the heat of the moment, Californians like Ted Lieu, Maxine Waters, Jackie Speier, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinsten and Adam Schiff, are shining stars.   I’m not including Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer on the list, because for the most part they have been out of sight, apparently playing duck and cover somewhere,  and are nothing close to the firebrands the Dems currently need to lead them out of the patch of tangled weeds they’re in.

Dianne Feinstein, is turning out to be the party’s iron lady, leaving her spot on the Senate Intelligence Committee for only days after a brief absence to have a pacemaker implanted.  This might be unremarkable except that Feinstein is 83.

A few others, like Al Franken of Minnesota, pop up now and then, only to disappear for weeks or months at a time, and that’s not what’s needed right now.   What’s needed are talking heads that are available to go on camera even when it’s inconvenient, like over this current holiday weekend, to continue holding the Trump Administration’s feet to the fires of Russiagate, Trump’s taxes, North Korea, diversionary bombings and all the other unacceptable issues of this erratic presidency.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are tireless warriors for the left, but  beyond them mostly it’s the Californians who are picking up the slack for a Democratic Party that needs to be making a lot more noise.   The country needs at least two viable parties.  Three or four would be even better.  Unfortunately the idea of a proportional government has not yet caught on in the U.S., leaving millions of Americans left out and feeling alienated from the process.

In the meantime,  California rocks.    If the party can just come up with some way to bring the progressive heat of the California sun together with the more moderate climes of the Middle West and elsewhere – then they’ll really have something.

Disappearing Democratic Leadership

Where are the leaders of the Democratic Party, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi? Why are they out of sight and out of mind at what can only be described as a critical political juncture, with a new and erratic President who changes his mind every ten to fifteen minutes dropping 59 Tomahawks on Syria, the mother of all bombs on Afghanistan (why are we still there?) and sending a naval strike group to the Sea of Japan to deal with a crazy boy-man dictator who is threatening nuclear warfare on the Korean Peninsula and possibly beyond?   Is a nuclear showdown with an unstable personality really a good idea?

Is there no longer an issue about the Constitutional mandate that only Congress shall have the power to make war?   Shouldn’t somebody other than House Members Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters of California be making significant noise about this?   Not to mention Trump’s “deportation force,” and unending news about the Trump campaign’s connections to the Russians which continues to break almost daily.

Meantime our fearless leader is in Florida playing golf and presumably eating cake.  Again.  It’s what he does.   He goes to Florida each and every weekend to play golf.  He’s there even now, with a strike force sitting in the Sea of Japan, and a potential nuclear standoff in the works.

Does he understand the possible consequences of his actions?

This is insane and unacceptable as government jobs go unfilled and America’s credibility vanishes.  Making it all the more frightening is the fact that the only positive feedback Trump gets is when he bombs somebody.   In an almost childlike fashion he appears to feed off of approval, leading to the danger that he will resort to making war simply to get another pat on the head and maybe a bump in his approval rating.

Someone has got to start holding Trump to task for what is becoming a pattern of incompetent and irrational behavior. Following the Clinton/Waserman Schultz/Brazile debacle, I had hoped the Democratic party would hand the reigns of party power over to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom had a solid base skewing towards younger folks, which is what the party needed for the future.   It needed to be energized.

Instead of moving forward the Party opted to basically run in place,  going with the old guard.  And even now, its leadership is doing what it did during the Obama Administration, remaining silent and out of sight, like little church mice, rather than doing their jobs as the loyal opposition while special interest groups on the far, far-left, threaten to tear the party to pieces, denying it any chance of picking up support from the massive political center which it so badly needs.

Where is the Democratic leadership?   Where have they gone and what the hell are they doing?     Activists should be congratulated for showing up to march and register their opinions at local meetings. The grass roots folks are getting it done.  But where are Pelosi and Schumer?   Are they even in this fight, or have they given up and gone home?  They need to get loud, proud, angry and take the point with the media in this fight or get out of the way and let others take the lead focusing not on scattered splinter groups on the far-left but on the broad base of support they need from the middle.   If not, they just might blow the whole show in 2018.

If folks in those far-left splinter groups want any representation at all they are going to have to step back, take a breath, and know they’ll be better represented in the future by Democrats than Republicans, regardless of their need to feel empowered in the moment.    The choice is between a more centrist Democratic Party in power or no Democratic Party at all.   Either way, somebody will have to take the lead.

Putin, Trump, And The Death Of American Credibility

There was no English word for “disinformation” until sometime in the 1980’s, when it was derived from a Russian term meaning misinformation “intentionally disseminated in order to deceive.”  It can include, “forgery, subversion and media manipulation,”  and would be needed only if efforts to kill the truth at its source through the co-option of government officials and (or) persons in the media, had failed.  Arnaud De Borchgrave and Robert Moss  wrote a wonderful novel about the media manipulation thing back in 1980.   The book’s title is “The Spike,” and it’s worth a read.

In plain English, disinformation can take many forms but basically it involves hiding facts behind a giant smokescreen, so high, wide and thick that no one can possibly see through it.  The common term for it here in  America is BS, although this would be BS taken to a level rarely seen in everyday life.

By one account, the Russians have been using disinformation as a weapon since the 1920’s.  Under the former Soviet Union and its secret police/intelligence arm, the KGB, disinformation was developed into an art form possibly not seen since the days of master manipulator Angelo Machiavelli, which may or may not be something to be proud of, depending upon your predilection for the “art” of deception.

Any way you cut it, the KGB was said to be very good at it.  Based upon current affairs, they still are, keeping in mind that those who ran the KGB, like Vlaidmir Putin, and certain other billionaire crime bosses, are now running all of Russia.  That’s not to say their techniques have changed.   Take for example, Donald Trump’s recent “attack” on an airbase in Syria.  Talk surrounding the attack could be true, or some of it could be disinformation.

We were first told, repeatedly, by Mr. Trump himself,  that  he would never telegraph his intentions to an enemy,   Then, in what was only his second big military decision, what did he do?   He called Syria’s ally Russia, and told them of his intentions to bomb an airfield in Syria, ensuring the Syrians would be told about the attack, giving both the Russians and the Syrians ample time to get their people and equipment out of harm’s way.

According to the release from the Pentagon, “Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.”

Trump, totally telegraphed his intentions to the enemy.   He phoned it in.  Still, this has nothing to do with what may have been disinformation.   That came later, and not from Trump, but from one of his sons, with backup from Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

Pundits (and a couple of “surrogates” who will support Trump regardless of his words or actions and who should not be given access to credible news programs) had already been sending out rumblings that the airfield attack was ample evidence against any collusion between Trump and the Russians.   Later, Trump’s son Eric, would parrot this same line, possibly being unintentionally dragged into a broadening ripple effect of disinformation.  What the Russians would call “a useful idiot.”

Then, even as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Moscow for talks with the Russian hierarchy,  Russian President Vladimir Putin belched forth what may have been another enormous cloud of truth-hiding smoke, making the pronouncement that what the Americans were saying about the missile attack on Syria, was comparable to earlier American lies about WMD’s in Iraq.

Accuse the accuser.  One of the oldest tricks in the book.  But this was carrying the weight of coming from the President of Russia. Whoa.  Now that’s sure to confuse the issue.  If you can even remember what it was.

It’s similar to having an American president who doesn’t understand he is no longer campaigning and that his words now have a far more serious meaning to the world, except that Putin understands what he’s doing and Trump hasn’t a clue, even while he’s being heralded by his supporters for building greater credibility in the eyes of the world by launching what was essentially a phony attack against Syria.  Credibility?  Incredible.

Even if the bogus attack on an all but abandoned airfield wasn’t enough to prove that Trump hasn’t been colluding with the Russians, the angry  Response from Mr. Putin would have to convince those few remaining doubters that no collaboration between Putin and the Trump political machine could be possible.

How’s that for disinformational smoke?   Or maybe not?  Can’t prove it’s there, so maybe it isn’t.  Or maybe it is?  Confused yet?

It’s entirely possible that Trump telegraphed his intentions on the attack to avoid hitting Russian targets and starting World War III.  It’s also entirely possible that Eric Trump is right,  that his father’s decision to hit the abandoned airfield was to send a message to the Syrians that they must stop using chemical weapons, and further, that Mr. Putin’s pronouncement against Trump and the United States comparing the attack to lies about WMD’s in Iraq, was made solely to bump up Putin’s standing in the Russian press.

Why are apparently official announcements about our government coming from the mouths of the President’s children?   Then again, maybe everybody’s telling the truth.  Or perhaps not.  Perhaps it’s really about money, power and disinformation.  Or perhaps Donald J. Trump is simply and hopelessly incompetent.

The thing about dealing with the Russians and their disinformation and Donald Trump, who is currently without credibility is that we really don’t know what to believe.   Especially with former Exxon CEO and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Moscow, where there are sure to be discussions about dropping U.S. sanctions against Russia, opening up all those Exxon owned oil fields for development.

Even if Trump’s actions were heartfelt as his children claim, and the attack on the airfield was a genuine effort to deter the Syrians from using chemical weapons, and Eric Trump’s words were authentic and Putin is genuinely angry at Donald Trump, even if all this is what’s really happening,  how can we tell from behind this giant cloud of smoke?   Do you believe anything Putin says?   How about Trump?

The FBI needs to kick its investigation into high gear while the public can still remember what they are investigating and why.   One good war could make it all go away.