Just when you’ve given up all hope – just when you’re getting used to the idea of having a President Trump in your life – that little devil sitting on your left shoulder pokes you in the head and says, “Hey stupid, what about the polls?”
I may be too simple for this upcoming Age of Trump, but nagging questions remain about why and how the polls could possibly be so wrong? Polls that showed Mrs. Clinton capturing a significant majority of the electoral college.
If you believed the polls, Trump was going to lose. Now we’re supposed to believe that all those polls simply got it wrong? It’s happened before.
No matter what they say, “they” being anyone who wants to win an argument disputed by polling, the polls are generally not this wrong. Except when the Republicans are trying to win the White House, as in the case of John Kerry, and now Hillary Clinton. I spent nearly seven years inside the Los Angeles Times, marveling at how accurate their polling division was under the direction of Susan Pinkus. The polls, generally, are more right than wrong, and almost never this wrong. Therefore, it is probably not unexpected to find some very heavy-duty election watchers urging a recount in some battleground states where Clinton was expected to win.
According to a piece in The Guardian, Dr. Barbara Simons, an adviser to the US election assistance commission and expert on electronic voting is among those calling for a recount. “We need to have post-election ballot audits” she says.
The article goes on to point out that, “A second group of analysts, led by the National Voting Rights Institute founder John Bonifaz and Professor Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan’s center for computer security and society, is also taking part in the push for a review, and has been in contact with Simons.”
There are bound to be questions when polling indicated a different result, particularly with intelligence agencies warning of Russian hackers with more than a passing interest in the outcome of the election as Donald Trump heaped praise on the governing style of Vladimir Putin.
This is all very troubling to me, but then I’m a pretty simple guy. So simple that I can’t fathom how the electoral college is expected to tilt in favor of Donald Trump when Hillary Clinton is expected to win the popular vote, possibly by as many at two-million votes. How does that work? Too complicated for me, because, by my simple way of thinking, if the electors are bound by law to represent the popular vote in their states, then it doesn’t work at all. Which is entirely possible – that it doesn’t work at all and should be abolished, but even then, how could the polls all be so wrong?
Lastly, but by no means least, comes the question of Donald Trump’s view that he is immune from any conflict of interest. Isn’t that just great? No blind trust necessary here, just trust in the Donald. “Trust me,” he says. “Trust me to do the right thing,” even though he is refusing to put his numerous international business interests in a blind trust. Even though he refused to release a full accounting of his tax records. Even though he is backpedaling on campaign promises to his ultra-right base even before being sworn in. Do you trust this guy? Seriously?
What if he decides to simply ignore the press, holding one news conference a year as his hero Vladimir Putin does? What if he decides he can simply rule by decree, and does so, unless there is tremendous pushback from …..where? From his Republican colleagues in the congress? A legal scholar on MSNBC this morning suggested that the conflict of interest question needs to be settled before the electoral college casts its ballots on December 19th. It would appear there are other questions as well, such as, did we elect a new president or anoint a king? His m-o in private life appears to have been to do whatever he wanted, whatever was in his best interest and then letting the courts sort out any disputes. Can you afford to take a billionaire to court? Can we afford to have this kind of legal mindset in the White House? Beyond that, there is a very real question of whether the election could have been rigged by the Russians, and whether voter suppression by the Republicans again might have been a factor, as it clearly was with Al Gore in 2000, and maybe again with John Kerry, four years later.
To what degree were voter roles “purged” by Republicans in how many states in an effort to limit the Black vote in 2016? How many electronic voting systems were possibly hacked by the Russians seeking a victory for Donald Trump? Does anyone even know? What exactly do the Russians expect to gain from a Trump Presidency? Will there be an investigation or are the American people expected to just let it all slide……again?
With all these questions, is it unreasonable to expect at recount in some battleground states, and barring that, if a recount is blocked by Republicans in the House, Senate and state legislatures, or by the Supreme Court as it was in 2000 by a Republican-backed majority on the Court, is it wrong to demand that the electoral college votes to reflect the popular vote, rescuing the nation from a Trump presidency? Or is all this just too simple, for our oh-so complicated electoral process?
I’m fairly sure it is, but then I’m just a simple guy who would like these issues of legality and fair play to be ironed out before another Republican who lost the popular vote is again sworn in as President of the United States, leaving the nation and the world with a terrible taste of electoral corruption as the broadcast media proceeds as though this Trumpist reality show is normal.
Something to clear out the cobwebs for all of those who condemned those relative few who “voted their conscience” in the election. It’s a quote from George Orwell I bumped into on Facebook. Here it is-
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims…but accomplices.”
Well, perhaps, but with Trump bringing in his daughter for a meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister and no clear sign that he intends to establish a blind trust for his business interests, I still wish all those conscience voters had backed HRC. At least I think that’s what I would prefer.
On the other hand, 8 years of Hillary would probably have been another 8 years of gridlock, with the Republicans opposing every piece of progressive legislation presented.
It’s been suggested that perhaps a political bloodletting might do the country some good. This is figurative, of course, in the sense that it might take several years for all those who voted for Donald Trump to discover that he is not a newly elected king and that he cannot and will not be able to deliver on all his promises of taking America back into the 1950’s, presumably making them angry enough to throw their support to what should be a newly energized Democratic Party, with Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren appointed to leadership positions in the Senate as the New York Times tells us that, “Nonprofits Opposed to Trump’s Ideology See a Surge in Donations.”
Really? Oh my.
A couple of big news items having nothing to do with politics this morning.
Zika, is no longer a global threat, according to the U-N Health Organization. No shock here. The shock comes in knowing that the virus seems to be peculiar to Brazil, but that investigators never really adequately addressed the issue. Instead, they flew into a panic to develop a vaccine, which they now say should be available by 2018. Even though the virus is no longer a global threat and many of us saw another Bird Flu epidemic coming.
Oh well, having a vaccine can’t hurt, can it? And yet, the Brazil/Zika connection is more than a little troubling, isn’t it? Why are there so many Zika cases in Brazil, but not in surrounding countries?
I know I said I wasn’t going to get into politics. I lied. That’s what they do now, they lie and blame it on someone else. This will be the norm for at least four years, so you had better get used to it. Anyway, it was for your own good, to get you to keep reading so that you would be informed that Mike Pence was booed while attending a performance of “Hamilton” last night.
What did he expect? An ultra-right winger, attending a play in a city filled with lefties, whose boss left town for New Jersey over the weekend leaving 5th Avenue snarled with traffic and lookie-loos, a problem that promises to become a chronic condition. Or at least until Trump is impeached by his own party. Never say never.
If we’re lucky, like Zika, the Trump/Pence condition will be vastly overrated and without any real longevity to the point that it threatens to infect those who continue to have the courage to reject racism, sexism, cruelty and deceit – but with no adequate answer as to why otherwise intelligent, reasonable individuals nearby supported the Trump/Pence ticket.
In the meantime, Mike Pence and his boss had better get used to the booing. Like the traffic on 5th Avenue, it promises to be a chronic condition.
Four-twenty in the morning is as good a time as any to be surfing the web, looking up the legal definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” searching for any possible angle that might be used to stop Donald Trump from being sworn in. I can dream, can’t I?
The Constitution provides for an impeachment process, but Trump will have to be sworn-in before an embarrassed and fearful Republican majority in both houses will be able to remove him from office before doing any lasting damage. That would give them President Pence, which is undoubtedly what they really want.
Just how messed up and serious things truly are has been impressed upon us by Neocon David Frum, former speech writer for George W. Bush, who is arguing that we should all be grateful if Mitt Romney or anyone of his ilk might agree to accept a position in the upcoming Trump Administration, because it might save us from the chaos of thinking that is sure to accompany Trump to office as he continues acting more like an angry teenager tweeting out missives against the nation’s newspaper of record, The New York Times.
Not only is this unbecoming of a president-elect, it might be considered downright bizarre. Equally strange, is the announcement that Trump is now going to take a “victory tour” of the country, giving him an opportunity to fulfill the ego-gratification that comes with speaking to crowds of his supporters. It’s not like he has anything else pressing that needs his immediate and undivided attention, like putting an administration together. No, the ego trip that comes from interfacing with his supporters is obviously more important.
The really frightening thing in all of this bizarro political world turned upside down, is that Frum is right. Regardless of what you might think of Neocons and their entire socio-economic fascist philosophy, in this case, he is absolutely correct. The best we may be able to hope for at this point is for someone like Romney to get on board the Trumpist ship of state, ready and willing to strap down that big fat loose canon as it rolls with the waves between the far-right on one side and what appears to be some undefinable need to be accepted by the masses of Americans who were conned into voting for him, thinking he can actually relate to, or genuinely cares about anyone but himself, on the other.
One wonders if Trump knows what Trump wants now that he’s confronted with a position he possibly never really imagined he’d be able to obtain? One wonders what goes on inside that golden domed comb-over.
At the very least, considering the Trump campaign’s relationship with the Russians, his failure to establish a blind trust for his businesses, his prior proclamation of a need to seek out revenge against his political opponents, Mrs. Clinton in particular once he is in office, not to mention legal issues surrounding Trump University and suggesting violence might be a viable alternative to reasonable and peaceful political recourse, he may have already exhibited a gross incompetence to hold the office of President, possibly qualifying for the broad definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
The problem, of course, is that Congress can’t act prior to Trump being sworn in, prior to the powers of the Presidency being turned over to someone with an agenda no one, possibly even the President-elect himself, can understand.
The only solution, prior to that taking place, would be for the electors to fulfill their obligation to the nation and refuse to cast their ballots for Trump when they meet in December. And that, we are told by pundits and political luminaries, is highly unlikely to the point of being out of the question. But is it even possible?
Short of an upset by the electors, perhaps our best hope, as Mr. Frum has suggested, is for Mitt Romney, or anyone with a more traditional outlook and less extreme political experience and no known financial ties to the Turks, Russians or other operatives eager to influence the oval office, to swallow hard, get on board, and do whatever he or she can to influence our soon-to-be president to set a reasonable course for the country – while we wait for Congress to debate the true meaning of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
It could be quite some time before any of us gets a really good night’s sleep again. What’s happening now makes the Obama years feel somehow distant, nothing more than a dream of a time when more stable and sane political discourse was the norm – by which, of course, I mean that it was possible to understand what was being said.
Some simple questions linger as Donald Trump and our new royal family ascend to the throne.
Question: Vladimir And The Russians Tilt The Table For Trump?
Why is it now apparently okay that the Trump campaign was having regular contact with the Russians prior to the election, while the Russians, according to our intelligence agencies, were actively working to tip the election for Mr. Trump? Wasn’t that espionage? Shouldn’t there be an investigation?
Michael Moore, has asked Mr. Obama to appoint a special prosecutor to look into FBI Director Comey releasing damaging information on Hillary Clinton, just days before the election. That”s never going to happen, as it would make a mess of Mr, Obama’s legacy. After all he’s been through, the kid from Kenya, really shouldn’t have to put up with that. Let him exit stage left without that sword over his head. But the thing about the Russians. That’s an entirely different matter, isn’t it?
Question: Use The Electoral College As Intended?
Why do we simply accept the outcome of our presidential elections before the Electoral College casts its votes on December 19th? According to Project VoteSmart, “Electors were viewed as a compromise between a true popular election and an election by more qualified citizens. Some of the founders wondered if it would be wise to permit average citizens to vote but wanted to stay true to their republican principles. The Electoral College was their answer.”
So why do we announce to the world that everything is over and done with following the tally of a popular vote that really shouldn’t count at all, if we’re going to follow the intent of the founders, who, it appears, were wisely trying to protect us from demagogues and tyrants using misinformation, fear, intimidation and bigotry to sway the vote.
We should wait for the Electoral College to vote, and proceed from there, shouldn’t we, and shouldn’t the electors consider the apparent fact that the Trump Campaign may have been assisted by the Russians?
It’s important to note that the Trump Campaign was highly successful in convincing much of the electorate that the press tells lies and that the system is rigged. Perhaps the “more qualified citizens” in the Electoral College need to come to the rescue of the ill-informed masses and refuse to simply turn over the nation to Donald Trump, per the wishes of the founders?
Does any of this make any sense?
Question: Republicans Running Amok?
Another question that should be in the forefront is the potential for unlimited Republican power. Unless I’m getting this wrong, the Republican majority in the Senate can simply vote to change the rules, eliminating the need for a so-called “supermajority” of 60 votes for passage of a motion, dropping it down to a simple majority of only 51. Which they will have.
The Republicans in fact, would then have carte blanche in both houses and the White House. Debate would become meaningless. More than half the country (per the popular vote which tilted heavily towards Hillary Clinton) would fail to be represented in Washington as the Democratic opposition would be all but powerless to offer any opposition at all. The Republicans, on the other hand, might not go in that direction and let the Supermajority stand in the Senate, out of the fear that one day the Dems might turn around and do the same thing to them. However, with a Republican in the White House the temptation to do away with the Supermajority could be too much for the Republican power structure and its Neocon supporters to resist.
Question: Do The Eyes Have It?
Of course the probability is that nothing will be done about any of this. It will be Bush v. Gore all over again as the Republicans slide by with another questionable (crooked) win with those in power accepting a potentially bogus victory rather than a constitutional crisis as Mr. Trump installs America’s first royal family in the White House – even though he will be spending weekends in his gilded penthouse high atop Trump Tower in Manhattan, the humble “people’s house” at 16-hundred Pennsylvania Avenue, quite obviously insufficient for one of such grand stature and fantastic health. Which leads to another lingering question. What’s up with all that white makeup under Mr. Trump’s eyes? Is it hiding enormous dark circles? A medical problem, perhaps? Fatty deposits? A buildup of unsightly cholesterol?
And finally dear friends and fellow Americans, what will it cost the United States to secure the Trump Tower? How many millions of dollars will we have to spend on that as Mr. Trump works to cut taxes and reduce the budget? And how will New York City cope with the hordes of press people and looky-loos filling the streets around the Tower? Remember the traffic chaos when Mr. Obama visited Los Angeles? Remember the cops shutting down whole sections of the city.? I do, I was there.
Get ready Manhattan, it will likely be a nightmare. And a recurring one at that. Each and every weekend. All the worse if they can’t keep the George Washington Bridge open.
Watching “France24” via YouTube as I wait for the Sunday morning shows to come on. What I’m hearing is far removed from most of what the American pundits and newscasters are handing out, a diet of defeatist porridge, featuring denial, excuses and pleas to “give Mr. Trump a chance,” some acting more like Trump “surrogates,” than real news people.
By contrast, the Europeans appear to be calling it for what it is. I say “appear” because obviously I can’t monitor all the news from Europe. They are, thankfully, brazen in their honesty, proclaiming the election to have been one of the “ugliest” campaigns in American history. While MSNBC features the headline, “Trump Wants To Stradle His Company And Presidency,” France24’s headline reads, “Equality vs. Trump.”
The issue of whether the Director of the FBI intentionally threw the election for Trump, remains an open question. I’m tired of hearing that Comey is a nice guy who just made a mistake. He’s the Director of the FBI. Appoint a special prosecutor and save your nice guy stuff for a jury. In addition, President-elect Trump, may have to appear in federal court on December 16th, to face charges that his “Trump University” defrauded a group of students in California. There’s also the fact that Trump openly lied about not of having any contact with Vladmir Putin and the Russians, while the Russians are believed to have conducted acts of espionage against the Democratic Party. And now we’re supposed to sit back and act like everything is just fine? Wouldn’t that be…..ah…..a little nuts?
Of course it was a dishonest election. All presidential elections are to a degree, but this one stretched the envelope and tore it to shreds as Mr. Trump, possibly for reasons none of us can understand, simply could not control himself, making up arguing points from whole cloth, moving along with a verbal slug-fest that featured sexism as a sometime centerpiece and racism as another, both promoted through the use of innuendo and implication shot-through with the threat of filing lawsuits against anyone who dared disagree or challenge his positions.
Mr. Trump, whose technique is to threaten lawsuits to shut down debate, to bully the press and limit criticism, is an obvious threat to free speech. Like all authoritarian propagandists, Trump is threatened by freedom. He has already talked about a possible need to make it easier to sue for liable. To tear down First Amendment protections. It would be so much easier to control the press without that nasty First Amendment around. Easier to shut down public discussion and debate among those who oppose his obvious and open authoratarianism. Better watch out what you say in the social media or maybe even tell your friends. One of the Trumpists might report you to a local party apparatchik.
It was fascinating to see Trump minion Kellyanne Conway in the coverage from France, blaming President Obama and Hillary Clinton for the protests now taking place in cities across the United States, continuing a pattern of deflection, projecting the blame on others. It was like watching the Simpson civil trial all over again, with O.J. on the stand, blaming everybody but himself for what had happened. Poor O.J. Poor Donald.
Ms. Conway and the Trump regime should consider that the protests may be serving as a kind of pressure valve, eliminating at least some of the outrage over the election.
It was Trump and Trump alone who turned up the heat with his hateful authoritarianism featuring angry anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-free press, mysogynistic and violence promoting outbursts. He and not the Democrats, owes the American people an apology.
Equally guilty for this current situation are all those who did not vote, or who foolishly thought that “voting their conscience” was the truly moral thing to do. It is they who have given us the approaching presidency of Donald J. Trump, a man with no blind trust, inadequate public tax records and an ongoing campaign relationship with the Russians. A man who wonders out-loud why it would be wrong to launch nuclear weapons against the nation’s enemies. A man who was born not with a sliver spoon but a 12-piece setting in his mouth. A man so blind to reality that he has publicly proclaimed that he didn’t have much to start out with, only a small gift of a million dollars. Just an average guy? No, he is not. He is beyond belief.
And Kellyanne wants Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton to tell tens of thousands of Americans to stop exercising their constitutional right to peaceably assemble and rise up in protest? Wait until the millions who voted for Trump realize his campaign was nothing but an empty bag, that nearly all his promises were hollow. Wait until a year from now, when the millions of jobs Trump promised have failed to materialize, his wall has not been built and Obamacare, or a significant portion of it, continues to stand. Wait until his followers realize that Mike Bloomberg was right. America, or a significant portion of it, has been conned, and the media was an accomplice in the game.
Candidate Trump, was a creation of the American media. He was featured as prominently as he was, for one reason and one reason only, because he drove their ratings. He made them money. And now, rather than properly challenging the outrageous nature of the monster they helped to create, they bleat like sheep to give him a chance. Like corporate cowards, many of them continue to soft-pedal the danger Mr. Trump represents to the nation and the world.
Oh, but the Europeans get it all right. As they understood the foolishness of invading Iraq, they also see the true danger Trump represents and it’s scaring the hell out of them. At the same time, most of the American media, acting like apologists for the country’s strongman to come, ask us to give Donald Trump a chance.
Makes sense, I suppose. To do otherwise would be to admit that this is a crisis of their very own making.
Hang on, CNN just changed its hard-hitting headline proclaiming, “Trump May Not Tweet As Much In The White House….”
That would be nice.
Meantime, out in the streets, the protests continue. Some are drawing a parallel between the Boomers and Vietnam in the 60’s and early 70’s and the Milllenials and Donald Trump. Maybe it was the Millenials turn in the bucket. Hope they can handle it. Like the man said, ” Nothing’s riding on this except the first amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country.”*
*“All The President’s Men”
After more than 40 years in the news business I awoke this morning to find that Donald Trump is still our President-elect, and I remain in disbelief. Stunned, actually.
I told my wife that as a white male I feel I owe her and all American women an apology for putting a mysogynist in the nation’s highest office. Even though I didn’t vote for the guy. He publicly objectifies women – refers to them as nothing more than sex objects – and he’s about to become our president? And half the country voted for this man? How are we not supposed to be stunned and in denial? Who will apologize to the rest of the world for this one?
After all those years occupying the priviledged position of being an eyewitness to history, perhaps I shouldn’t be all that surprised. Anything can happen and it sometimes does, if you aren’t careful. And still, this is pretty damn surprising. Are we not living in 2016? Did we fall backwards through the looking glass, down a rabbit hole and into another era?
My mind keeps going back to 1981 and Ronald Reagan, great and all-knowing sage of the Republican Party and his devastation of the American union movment, as he threw unionism to the wind with a proclamation that members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization had two choices, and one of them was not going to the National Labor Relations Board to iron out their strike against the federal government. No, their only two choices, by Regan’s royal proclamation, were to return to work on Monday morning or to be fired.
It was a whole new way of handling union-management disputes, a new gameplan that American business would adopt wholeheartedly and use repeatedly to devastate unions and American workers, along with its bastard brother and sister of offshoring jobs and “merger madness,” both of which burned into middle America like a white-hot wildfire fanned by the winds of Reagan-era deregulation. I remember feeling at the time that it was wrong. That is was unjust. That it shouldn’t be happening in America. But there it was.
In the years that followed I watched what has come to be called the the “corporatization” of America while so many our politicians stood silently by, bought off by lobbyists for big business or adhering to the philosphy of the “free traders,” and thinking it couldn’t be happening here.
All the while, most of us in the mainstream media knew what was going on and where it was likely to take us. Some of us in the west spoke privately about how NAFTA would turn the United States into another Mexico, a two-class society with a few very wealthy individuals and families at the top and everybody else on the bottom. We let it slide. Not because we wanted to, but because we were supposed to keep our opinions out of our journalism. To attack what was happening would at best involve injecting opinion into our reporting and at worst, crossing the line into conspiracy theory. No, it was much safer to keep our heads down while sticking to the “Five W’s.” It was all we were required to do. All we were supposed to do, until an army of consultants arrived promoting a decline in broadcast journalism and the birth of “Infotainment,” as tv news got on the corporate bus driving hard and fast to satisfy Wall Street’s credo that whatever drives “shareholder profits” is the greatest good, journalism be damned, turning a sometime dog and pony show into a full-time circus, the ringmaster blind to the big buyout in Washington, D.C., as multi-nationals, wallowing in their new-found deregulation, bought off the federal government, giving us “the best governmet money could buy, culminating with the horrible “Citzens United” decision by the Supreme Court of the United States thoroughly removing any impression that the high court is anything but a political tool.
Big media was an unknowing and unnamed co-conspirator with big business as American democracy was co-opted and finally neutered. Don’t take it personally, it’s only business.
What is good for the corporate bottom line and those wealthy few who hold big chunks of stock is what’s best for the country. Middle America, be damned. We saw it happening but didn’t feature it as we should have on the tv side. The newspapers did, but by then the dumbing down, America’s celebration of ignorance and abhorrence with intellectual elites, had kicked in to the point that most Americans had stopped reading. With tv news homing in on crime and entertainment, nearly anything hot, sexy, carnal and meaningless that would drive the ratings, there was nobody left to connect the dots for millions of Americans who are expert on who won the World Series in 1957 and how, but can’t name the three branches of government and have no idea who represents them in the Senate or the House. It was an information gap that only grew worse as the nation slid further and further into corporate control with media consolodation, political bribery and nothing more than the illusion of a free people being honestly represented by their elected public officials.
In concert with all of this came the introduction of what would eventually be the presidency of Donald J. Trump, a creation of the far-right Republican Party and possibly the most outrageous candidate for president in the nation’s history.
The underpinnings of the “Trumpist” movement go back to the technique of employing outrageous acts of telling big lies and getting away with it while projecting your worst characteristics onto your opponent, creating so much smoke that vast swaths of the American electorate were left blinded and clueless, with no one to provide adequate guidance other than the newspapers that were going unread as one after another they went out of business with advertisers leaving traditional print media for the new outlets of cable, satellite and the Internet.
With the traditional serious news “filter” once used by tv outlets mostly blown away by corporatization and infotainment, millions of Americans were lambs to the slaughter as the Republican far-right made political lies, deception and outrageousness acceptable on a massive scale, turning genuine war heroes like McCaine and Kerry into goats with lies about their private lives and government service, paving the way for the unbeliveable to be taken as fact candidacy of Donald J. Trump.
It was a truth be damned, the end justifies the means poltical rampage, that left much of the public, many of them desperate for change, uninformed, confused and ignorant, and we let it happen.
Out of this came a candidate who admits to not reading, but getting much of his information from tv. A man who became popular through the instruments of self-promotion and reality tv and rose to political power through the use of intimidation, racial division, fear, anger and the objectification of women. His common methods of demagoguary, racial hatred and fear mongering had all been seen before. And they were working.
Rather than alert the nation to the approaching danger, the media reported some of what was happening but not all. Mostly we were told about who, what, where and when, but far too little about the “why,” and what it might do to us over the long-haul. It was a truth vacum that resulted in millions of Americans turning to Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show,” for honest information. The mainstream news media was negligent to a point that an entertaiment show had become one of the country’s most trusted sources for news and information.
The delivery of news was now inside-out and standing on its head, with the broadcast media narrowcasting a sliver of deeply meaningfull information to a narrow band of viewers while millions upon millions of others who had long since stopped reading anything were condemned to ignorance. Newspapers, tv news, the Internet and entertainment news programs had now all been lumped together into one category called, “the media.” Some of it was reliable, but not all, leaving much of the public dazed, confused and looking for someone to lead them out of the darkness and into the light. Older folks, who went to bed before Jon Stewart came on, were out of luck.
It was a potential political nightmare in the making. Now it is here, and it will be up to us to deal with it.
The founders gave us a Republic. Hopefully we will be able to keep it by understanding that this is really happening, that we did it to ourselves, that it will be up to each of us to perform our own due dilligence, making ourselves better informed, more understanding of others and God willing, intelligent enough to see through the political smoke that threatens to destroy us.
It took years for this to happen. We won’t be able to fix it overnight, but we are better than this. America, is better than this.
The midterms are two years away. Put down your remote control, subscribe to a real newspaper like the NY Times, the LA Times or the Washington Post, and start reading. If you can’t afford a subscription, the Guardian is free online.
BURLINGTON, Vt., Nov. 9 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement Wednesday after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States:
“Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media. People are tired of working longer hours for lower wages, of seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries, of billionaires not paying any federal income taxes and of not being able to afford a college education for their kids – all while the very rich become much richer.
“To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”
The number, is 650. We heard it first from someone telling us that the FBI had found an additional 650-thousand emails that might or might not be related to a previous investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. I believe I heard it first from Donald Trump, on 10/31, when he delivered a speech in Grand Rapids. I immediately wondered who could store away that many emails without having their hard drive explode. But maybe. Maybe it’s a really big laptop. I also wondered how Trump came up with the number of 650-thousand, when, at that point, the FBI was saying they really didn’t know what they had. Maybe nothing.
In releasing the news that they might or might not have something to the Congress, which ensured a leak to the press, the FBI, intentionally or unintentionall (it really doesn’t matter at this point), was helping to throw the election to Donald Trump.
Can this be happening in America?
But there was another “650,” still to come. Once again, I heard it from Donald Trump. This time it was Trump warning us that Mrs. Clinton has plans to allow “650-million” immigrants into the country. Now that’s really interesting, since the total population of the United States is only 324-million. You can only imagine what we’d do with an influx of 650-million immigrants.
What next? A proclamation that someone is “hearing” that 650 illegal immigrant rapists are hiding out in the basement of Clinton’s home? They can send the FBI out to investigate, just to be sure there isn’t a problem. That should be good for another three or four points in the polls. This close to the election it won’t matter that it’s total nonesense.
Neocon Republicans created this monster by stretching their practices farther and farther beyond acceptable political norms. Now, like the creature from Mary Shelley’s tale, the big orange patchwork politican from New York is totally out of control and the Neocon bosses, holed up in their castle on the hill are helpless as the product of their outrageous, self-aggrandizing, irresponsible behavior threatens to run roughshod across the land.
Eleven days away from the election, with Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump at the polls and beating him rather soundly, the Director of the FBI breaks with Justice Department tradition and policy, and releases a letter to members of the Congress (which ensures it will be released to the general public) stating that he has found even more emails relative to an already concluded FBI investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email address and a private email server at her home in New York. Or maybe not. The emails, on a computer owned by former Congressman Anthony Weiner, may or may not be related to the former investigation by the FBI of Mrs. Clinton’s private email server. An investigation heavily promoted and pushed to the max by Republican members of congress.
Comey’s letter says he doesn’t know what he has. Maybe nothing. With the election only eleven days away, and no search warrant for Comey to go through the emails in question, all of it starts the pundits and social media buzzing about the damage it might do to the Clinton campaign. It also connects Mrs. Clinton’s name and her campaign to Mr. Weiner, who is under investigation for allegedly using his computer for so-called “sexting.” What a coincidence. But then it could be that Mrs. Clinton never even sent an email to Mr. Weiner’s computer that may or may not have been used by his wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin. So many unknowns.
With only eight days to go, Comey, who was a Republican with heavy high-level ties to Wall Street and international financiers (he was on the Board of HSBC Holdings) prior to registering as an Independent in 2016, announces that he has finally obtained a warrant to go through the emails, even though the FBI has known about them for several weeks. It’s another coincidence that sends poll numbers for the Clinton campaign falling, possibly ensuring another stolen presidential election by the Republican Party, which, in the case of this particular election, is being openly promoted and therefore supported by none other than Valdimir Putin. But all of this is also, mere coincidence. We are supposed to believe there is no political motivation on the part of Comey. Which could be the case. Or maybe not.
If Director Comey and his FBI are determined to place Mrs. Clinton under this kind of public scrutiny, a nearly unprecedented scrutiny which breaks with FBI policy of releasing nothing until an investigation has at least gotten to the point of being able to draw valid conclusions from it, not to mention this close to an election, then the same must be done for every elected and non-elected federal official and employee with a security clearance who has (or had) a private email address since 2009. He should also obtain search warrants for the hard drives and servers of each and every email address those same federal officials and (or) employees have sent emails to or received emails from since his investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s server began, again, dating back to 2009, to determine whether any of them might have caused a breach in national security.
That’s a whole lot of snooping to do. Director Comey had better get busy. He needs to do it fast if he is to make it clear to the general public that at this point, Mrs. Clinton is innocent of having done anything chargable and is therefore not worthy of all this attention so close to a national election. Unless all of this is something more than mere conincidence.
The burden of proof rests not with Mrs. Clinton, but with FBI Director Comey, who had better get moving unless he wants to be remembered as the guy who threw the election in favor of a reality show host who refused to release his tax records while being openly supported by the Russian Government. That doesn’t sound very good, does it?
While we’re on this road, which Mr. Comey has chosen to follow, how about a public pronouncement from the FBI with regard to any information they may or may not have regarding Mr. Trump’s friendly relationship with the Russians that might or might not go anywhere legally? What’s that you say? That you can’t discuss an ongoing investigation? That it’s longstanding FBI policy not to do so? Do tell.
Early voting is underway here in Maryland. This is much to the State’s credit, although I wish they would get rid of their stupid closed primary so I could go back to being the independent I was for most of my adult life.
But back on topic. I think two outcomes are possible in the presidential election. One, is that Hillary will win by a huge margin. The other, is that she won’t. Either way, what we are witnessing appears to be the politics of desperation. A shoot-from-the-hip kind of non-fact-based rhetoric, that turned Donald Trump’s buffoonery into a serious threat. If the polls are to be believed, a great many people are now desperate enough to elect a man whose campaign began as a kind of political joke. A sideshow to the real race that eventually turned reality on its head as millions of Americans, living on the edge and feeling abandoned, gave up on the “business as usual” politics represented by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, thrusting the nation into the politics of desperation.
Why desperation? That’s easy.
In October of 2014, Christopher Inghram wrote a piece for the Washington Post entitled, “Child poverty in the U.S. is the worst in the developed world.” In his story Inghram reports that “The United States ranks near the bottom of the pack of wealthy nations on a measure of child poverty, according to a new report from UNICEF. Nearly one third of U.S. children live in households with an income below 60 percent of the national median income in 2008 – about $31,000 annually. In the richest nation in the world, one in three kids live in poverty. “
You need more? Okay, here it is. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, things are improving, but we still have a big problem with 43.1 million Americans living in poverty in 2015. That’s 3.5 million fewer than 2014. It’s an improvement, but still an outrageous number condering the United States is the seventh richest country in the world.
No matter what misinformed, disinformed or just plain deluded individuals might shout out at rallies, we are not number one. Based upon data from the IMF we are number seven, Behind Qatar, Singapore and Norway among others, all of whom appear to be unaffected by the much publicized evils of socialism the right continues to promise will be the end of us all. Not really. That’s disinformation. For some of the wealthiest countries on earth, a little Socialism is a very good thing. It’s working very well. Not Communism. Take a deep breath, try and calm down before you start shouting. What many countries have is Socialism in conjunction with free enterprise. It works, no matter what Ayn Rand and her Neocon fear peddlers might tell you.
Believe it or not, Mr. Ripley, in most of the developed world, there are people who think others who are sick or infirm or broken and bloody, deserve healthcare, even if they can’t afford to pay for it. It’s called advanced human civilization. Beyond that, and amazing as it might seem, keeping people healthy is far more cost-effective than letting them fall terribly ill and then paying to sustain their illness for months or maybe even years. What a shock.
It was along those same lines, undoubtedly in consort with a fact-based investigation, thatBarack Obama began promoting a public option as part of the ACA. That’s the “Affordable Care Act,” or what some call “Obamacare.” He wanted a form of national healthcare that would actually compete with the private health insurance industry, but had to give up on it lest his entire health reform package might be shot down by legislators bought off by lobbyists for the healthcare industrial complex. And so, again according to the Census Bureau, 29-million Americans remain uninsured, while the cost of private health insurance continues to rise.
At the same time, as Bernie Sanders loved to point out before his campaign was sideswiped and run off the road by the Clinton machine assisted by a less than impartial DNC, “America now has more wealth and income inequality than any major developed country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the 1920s.” Another factoid Bernie loved to hammer home was that, “There is something profoundly wrong when 58 percent of all new income since the Wall Street crash has gone to the top one percent.”
Yes there is, and Bernie got it, but Bernie, unfortunately, is no longer in the race, leaving us with Hillary and Donald Trump.
I don’t care for Hillary Clinton, what with her ties to Wall Street and big corporate money. But I will vote for her. With Hillary, at least we know what we’ll be getting. At least she has given some indication of who she is – a centrist Republican in Democrat’s clothing. With Mr. Trump, there is no certainty as to what he might try and wose yet, do, as president, other than continue to objectify and belittle women while making outrageous statements containing little or no fact as he launches childish ad hominem Twitter attacks and threatens lawsuits against anyone who questions his opinions as master of the universe. Except for people he likes, like Vladimir Putin, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Governor, Chris Chrisite, who is currently under investigation in connection with the “Bridgegate” scandal.
Mrs. Clinton, is clearly far from perfect. My biggest concern is whether she will be able to poke her head out from inside the beltway bubble that encapsulates so many in D.C., preventing them from seeing the deperation that exists in a world with no connection to the toney eateries of Georgetown. A desperation that has convinced millions that it will be a good idea to let Mr. Trump blow up the existing broken government rather than giving Hillary a shot at trying to fix it.
For me, the risk of voting for the political fantasyland of Donald Trump, is far too great. I’ll be voting for Hillary in the hope that she can permanently shake off the Neoliberal persona that had firmly taken hold of her before Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders came along pulling her back to the traditional ranks of real Democrats, providing hope to so many of the hopeless. Like millions of students, being crushed by student-loan debt and homeowners facing foreclosure by corrupt bankers. A wealthy nation being smashed by income inequality with a neo-feudal system ignoring those in need while people like Donald Trump promise to give even more tax-cuts to the wealthy, perpetuating the practice of “trickle down Reagonomics” which has failed the nation’s common good so miserably.
With Hillary, at least we know what we’ll be getting. At least there is hope for her to continue along a less Neoliberal path. Hope that she will be further persuaded by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, that there is a better way. With Mr. Trump one fears that we will all eventually see fiction turn to fact, with millions of us relegated to being litle more than steet urchins standing out in the cold with our outstretched hands pleading on behalf of our empty bellies, “Please Sir, I want some more.”
It’s bad enough to have a presidential candidate repeatedly egging on large crowds with the idiotic charge that the very same media whose coverage permitted him to run for the highest office in the land is now somehow “the enemy.” It’s a basic bullying tactic demagogues have used for years to try and kill Democracy by shutting down the free flow of honest information by co-opting the press. We should all be alarmed at the degree to which Trump’s supporters are buying into this lie about an imagined media conspiracy attacking his candidacy. We should be further alarmed by the suggestion that the “2nd Amendment people” might be able to do something about what Donald Trump claims is a “rigged election.” This is more than bad enough, it’s beyond the pale and totally unacceptable behavior by anyone in the national limelight.
Now, on a completely different front but nonetheless alarming, we have a well known journalist, Amy Goodman, being forced to stand before a judge in North Dakota, for the crime of committing journalism. One would expect to hear about this kind of kangaroo court prosecutorial nonsense in some third world country, not here.
Goodman, committed the unforgivable sin of taking her camera crew to the scene of a standoff between an oil pipline company and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe near Mandan, North Dakota. The Standing Rock Sioux and others, fear that a rupture in a pipeline that’s being built across sacred land could pollute the nearby Missouri River, a source of drinking water for millions. So, they have been protesting the pipeline’s construction. Ms. Goodman, went out to cover the protest and has subsequently been charged with trespassing, a charge that was dropped when the local DA apparently decided he couldn’t make it stick. So he then turned around and charged her with “riot,” because she was there with a camera crew covering a protest that had been ongoing for months.
The Nation magazine reports, “Their protests, which began in April and ballooned through the summer months, represent the largest mobilization of Native American activists in more than 40 years—and one of the most vital campaigns for environmental justice in perhaps as long.”
For the most part the story had been ignored by the mainstream networks and now Goodman has been charged because she took a camera crew out to cover it?
Issues facing native Americans have been largely ignored for years, as white society turned a blind eye to the reservations. Covering the Sisseton Whapeton Sioux Tribe was one of the reasons I was hired to go to South Dakota in the early 70’s. The Native Americans there were tired of being ignored by the media. Some, in the days before cable and satellite, had filed lawsuits demanding more and better coverage. It’s a trend that continues, as the mainstream networks largely ignore the battle between the Standing Rock Sioux and those who would run a pipeline across sacred Native American ground with the obvious support of local government officials who are now prosecuting a nationaly known journalist for being so bold as to commit journalism.
It’s something to consider while we continue watching paid political “surrogates” shout out lies at otherwise responsible journalists on CNN, while the network ignores the Standing Rock Sioux and other valid issues, like a reporter being arrested for the crime of committing journalism in Morton County, North Dakota.
There is news out there, if only the 7/24 “news” channels would cover it. Why don’t they? Probably because it’s easier, less expensive and far more dramatic to pay people to stage news by putting them on a set and then having them scream at one another ad nauseam about Donald Trump’s tweets and Hillary’s email.
Their imperative is not covering news to educate and enlighten their audience, it’s making a profit. Any obligation they might have to their viewers is nothing more than an afterthought. Moreover, a dangerous connection exists between news organizations promoting the lies of a demagogue by paying surrogates to repeatedly go on the air and spew their manufactured venom and a journalist being hauled into court in a county which apparently has no belief in the First Amendment.
The danger this disinformation and misinformation has to the country should be obvious. At some point public good must be elevated above profits and our courts must do all they can to protect the First Amendment rights of those who gather information in an effort to educate and enlighten.
The “riot” charge against Amy Goodman was dismissed by a Morton County, ND judge on 10-17-16.
Hillary Clinton is currently on stage with Al Gore in Florida. She is of course, hitting the topic of climate change and hitting it hard. It’s understandable. What I do not understand is why Mrs. Clinton and network reporters continue to talk about the “5-year drought” in California. It isn’t that they’re wrong, it’s just that there’s a much bigger story. It’s not just a 5-year drought, it’s the wost drought in California since the state started keeping records more than 100 years ago.
The New York Times reported in April of last year, that “The drought, now in its fourth year, is by many measures the worst since the state began keeping records of temperature and precipitation in the 1800s. ”
In addition, the humidity is rising in Southern California. I lived in L.A. for 33 years and watched it happen. When I got there in the early 80’s, Southern California was famous for its “dry heat.” When we left a year ago it was still hot, but it was hot and humid. Bye, bye dry heat. This isn’t exactly a secret. The Christian Science Monitor and other responsible journals have reported it out and still it’s being pretty much ignored.
With so many climate change deniers itching for a fight, and some of them funded by the fossil fuel industry, all of that may be too much to handle? But for the time being why can’t the networks and the politicos acknowledge that what Cali is currently experiencing is much worse than a 5- year dry spell? Is it denial or maybe a fear of forcing the issue as to the seriousness of what’s happening in California and the impact it might have on the rest of the country? Enlighten me, please. I have had it with hearing about California’s 5- year drought.
From Santa Barbara being forced to take its desalination plant out of mothballs to orchards being chopped down and plowed under in the San Joaquin Valley to water rationing in Los Angeles, this isn’t just a scratch, it’s a severe laceration cutting down into the economic muscle of a state, which, standing alone, represents the 7th largest economy in the world.
A couple of thoughts on the debate.
-Mike Pence, has obviously been told by the RNC to “just hang in there with this bozo through the election, and you’ll be our guy in 2020.”
-Overwhelming ignorance of the Army-McArthy hearings, Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy and Trump mentor Roy Cohn, screams out with regard to the need to improve public education in America. How can we not keep repeating mistakes of the past when so many are ignorant with regard to what the past contains? Are any of the schools teaching American history? This could be a problem in urban areas which can’t afford to buy materials – exotic teaching tools like books and computers – and in some of the former slave states which seem to regard historical fact as abhorrent.
-The wisdom of the founder’s inclusion of the electoral college has never been more apparent.
-I was in locker rooms through high school and while in college and I can’t remember anyone making jokes about commiting sexual assault. Not funny.
-One presidential candidate does not threaten to throw the other candidate in jail once elected. Trump seems to think the President of the United States is a bannana republic dictator without checks and balances. Like the law.
-What is Trump’s nasal dysfunction? Why does he start snorting when he gets excited? Why isn’t anybody talking about this? Is it a nervous condition or something else? More material for SNL?
-Why isn’t anybody talking about the necessity of shortening the American campaign process and limiting campaign funding so that we don’t have to go through this endless agony, which, due to the money raising involved, is now almost never ending. The best government money can buy and the fund raising never stops. This is madness. The British process might be better. We need to take a look at it and consider making changes. Far less suffering. Not that we need a monarch or anything, just a shorter process with controls on spending. Until then, as one comic put it (it might have been Lewis Black), we continue “waiting for a comet to come blowing the Earth to pieces, bringing us all some blessed relief.”