Questions Remain As The Royal Family Trump Ascends To The New American Throne

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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.

Candidate Trump – A Crisis Of The Media’s Making

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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”

This Can’t Be Happening – Not Here

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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.

Bernie Sanders Statement On Trump

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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.”

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The 650 Club

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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.

FBI Director Comey Had Better Get Busy

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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.

The Case For Hillary

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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.”  

Arrest Warrant Issued For Reporter Covering News In North Dakota

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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.

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The “riot” charge against Amy Goodman was dismissed by a Morton County, ND judge on 10-17-16.  

The California Drought – More Than Five Years

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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.

Waiting For The Comet

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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.”

Michael Moore, Glenn Beck And America’s Class Divide

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It had never occurred to me, but now it’s clear.    It came from two disparate sources, Michael Moore and Genn Beck,  at exactly the right time.    A time in which I and millions of others (I suspect) are at the end of our patience with listening to an endless stream of electioneering lies and blather to the point that it is becoming nearly meaningless.

First it was Michael Moore, talking about millions of Americans, many in the rust belt, who feel betrayed by the system, and who will be voting for Donald Trump because they believe he will blow up the process that has shown them nothing but neglect.   These people are desperate and they don’t care what the New York Times reports about Trump’s taxes.   Desperation will do that to you.

These folks are not among the grass-fed beef eating and educated “elites” who will be voting for Clinton.   These people are our neighbors who need to go fishing and hunting to put protein on their tables because they can no longer afford the price of groceries.   They are living from paycheck to paycheck or with no paycheck at all and they feel overlooked and neglected, cut off from an elitist process that favors the wealthy.   So they will vote for Trump, because he promises to blow up the process.  Because with America’s new class system the process is leaving them behind, opening the door for an extremist  (possibly someone with unacceptable ties to Russia who refuses to release his tax records) to get elected as our next American President.   Even that will be better than what they now do not have.   Or so they think.

That was Michael Moore’s thesis, except for the part about a disenfrancihsed electorate opening the door for tyranny to sieze the White House.   That part came from Glenn Beck, who, almost totally (as hell froze over), agreed with Michael Moore.   All of it struck me this morning, as I had just finished reading an excellent piece in The Guardian entitled “Hidden Faultline”   How Trump v. Clinton is laying bare America’s class divide.”    

David Smith’s story, profiling some of my fellow Marylanders,  paints the picture  for those of us who still don’t get it regarding the divide between educated organic food eaters who are logically (they think) voting for Clinton, and all those others who think that almost anything, including Donald Trump, will be better than a continuation of the broken government we already have.

This dear friends, as Glenn Beck has pointed out, is how tyrants come to power.    Which could very well happen, unless we all pull together to demand a more representative government, one that can be trusted to look out for the best interests of all Americans, and not just a priviledged class.    On this point, I fear, Mrs. Clinton is dropping the ball.  Reforming the broken, bought off and generally bribed to death federal government she has been a part of for so long  is the  elephant in the room.   We need to recognize that it’s there before it steps on us all.    Sending Bernie Sanders out to plead with politicially exhausted Americans to vote for Hillary because Trump is unacceptable may not be enough.   One gets the feeling that Bernie’s real conviction is that Hillary is still too much of an insider.    Too much of a Wall Street moderate Republican in Democrat’s clothing to deserve a full-throated Sander’s endorsement.   Just more of the same old, same old politics as usual, and Bernie’s supporters know it.   It’s why they aren’t tripping over one another to throw their support to Mrs. Clinton.

We should not be heading into an election with (by some estimates) 40% of the electorate prepared to rise up in anger if their guy loses because they have lost all faith in the American political process.  If their side loses, they will be sure it was because the fix was in with the result assuring that they will remain locked in a lower class.  Doomed to pay their fair share of taxes while the uber-wealthy,  like Mrs. Clinton’s Wall Street buddies, dodge their tax responsibilities with tax code hustles, corrupt banking practices and offshore accounts.

This cannot be sustained at a time when Vladimir Putin is positioning himself to take advantage of our division by hacking out our electronic guts.

Our politics have let us down.   We appear to be on the brink of something very, very bad.   On the other side of the equation is the thought that if Glenn Beck and Michael Moore can be in agreement on anything then perhaps, just perhaps, we might get through this madness in one piece.   If only someone can show enough leadership to heal our class divide.    Clearly, Donald Trump, with his border wall, racial fearmongoring and derogatory comments about women and the disabled, is not that person.

 

Why All The Giant Eyelashes On TV?

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I may catch hell for this, but what’s up with so many women journalists on television wearing false eyelashes?   And not just small false eyelashes, eyelashes so long that they impact the local weather and threaten to knock small birds from the air when a correspondent blinks.

It’s bad enough that women are expected to look like beauty queens, spending untold hours on hair and makeup, but now, for some reason – maybe they’re being ordered to do it – they are wearing these goofy eyelashes.

Appearance on television is important, but come on folks, give the women a break.   Let them get rid of the giant eyelashes.  Give them a little more  time to focus on their journalism and  less time on hair and makeup, a luxury the men already enjoy.

The Solution To Surrogates – Don’t Put Them On The Air

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Prior to this current election cycle, the word “surrogate” was never applied to a paid professional political spokesperson.   It was normally used in relation to “surrogate mothers,” and not some paid hack sent out by the Trump campaign to use the outrageous and far less than civil technique of talking so loud and so non-stop that your opponent is forced to just sit there saying nothing.   In other words, beat your opponent over the head with non-stop noisey blather until he or she gives up.   They all do this, so they have obviously been trained in the technique, turning talk shows into a waste of time.

There is nothing collegial about this technique.   It has nothing do with an exchange of valid information in a search for the truth.  It is simply one more way to hide the truth behind a heavy veil of nonsense.  In our current tv-rich political environment, it is a despot’s best friend.   And  Donald Trump’s people, his various beauty queen  “surrogates,” are using it often and well, which is bad for anyone who is trying to figure out what’s really going on.

Imagine what David Brinkely or Sam Donaldson would have done when confronted by a “surrogate” defending birtherism or greed being good or the need for global warming or Mexican’s as rapists or closing the borders to all Muslims or Hillary’s emails after the issue had been settled by a lengthy congressional hearing and an FBI investigation.    Brinkely or Donaldson, would undoubtedly be incensed at being played for fools.  They wouldn’t put up with it.  I can imagine Mr. Brinkely saying, “You must think we’re all idiots if you expect us to sit here listening to this nonsense.”   God only knows what Sam might say.   But he wouldn’t just sit there accepting surrogate blather.   There might be a fistfight.

Sam is  retired and David is dead.  In their absence surrogates should not be allowed on any responsible political program on television.    They have nothing new to add, no interesting analysis, just the same old disingenuous rubbish the Trump campaign has been parroting all along.   The tv shows need to get back to the standard of bringing on people who have something thoughtful to contribute to the discussion.  People like journalists, scholars, and writers.    Naturally, legitimate spokespeople from the political camps will need to be heard, but the various show’s producers know who is likely to take part  in a serious discussion and those who are being paid to simply repeat nonsense that’s already been heard.    Somebody with some actual political credentials.  If they want to spout propaganda, then let them hold a news conference and face the questioning of journalists.   If the news conference is a total waste of time, as was Mr. Trump’s recent appearance outside his new hotel in DC, then the press will report it as such.

This works.   We did it for years.

The 7/24 newschannels might lose some viewers, so this bold idea of not letting people who have nothing to say on their air  would be more of a public service than a ratings booster, but hey, can’t they take this giant step because it is in the nation’s best interest to stop giving a national platform to liars who are knowingly telling lies because that’s what they are paid to do?

The simple solution to surrogates is to not put them on the air.   Most people get their news and information from television.   Banning surrogates will improve the value of our national discussion immeasurably.    It’s the right thing to do, so it probably won’t get done.   The Trump camp would scream bias.   They would shout out that their free speech rights were being violated.     Unless the  newschannel producers and other execs didn’t tell anybody what they were up to and instead had a silent understanding that surrogate hacks with no interest in taking part in a serious discussion of the issues  would  no longer be used on their talk shows.   That might work?  Too much to hope for?

Go ahead, try it.   Stop putting these surrogate hacks on your air.  It’s the patriotic thing to  do.

Police Union Endorses Gospel Of Bigotry, Fear And Hate

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It is disheartening to see that The Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union, has endorsed Donald Trump.

Sometimes union leaders make very bad decisions.   This is one of those  times.   With a candidate as controversial and inflammatory as Trump, someone who has been labeled as being downright “dangerous,” by several of the world’s great newspapers, the blanket endorsement makes the union’s members appear uninformed and biased in favor of a candidate who preaches bigotry and comes across more like a a third-world strongman than a leader who exhibits thoughtful judgement through well-reasoned policies.   It also relects badly on unions in general.

How can the FOP possibly endorse a candidate  who suggests that the way to  deal with someone who disagrees with you is to “punch him in the face?”   A man who says that in the old days, protesters would have been “carried out on stretchers?”  A candidate who wonders outloud what might happen to Hillary Clinton, if her security guards had no guns, or suggests that the “Second Amendment people” might be able to do something about Mrs. Clinton, should she be elected?

Note to the FOP leadership:  Your endorsement indicates approval of all that Mr. Trump has said in the past, including what appears to be the suggestion of a possible assassination attempt on a future President of the United States.

Second note to the FOP leadership:   Your officers already have an image problem with regard to their relationship with America’s minority communities.   Do you really think that supporting a candidate who has almost no support among African-Americans and who wants to  build a wall between the US and Mexico will help street cops win the hearts and minds of the communities they police?   Shouldn’t you be more interested in mending fences than in further dividing your officers from the communities they serve?  Or would you prefer turning our inner-cities into even bigger war zones, putting even more police and civilians at risk in a country that leads the world in the number of people under incarceration.

The  following is an exerpt from a lengthy and insightful article entitled “Donald Trump Is The World’s Most Dangerous Man” in the widely-read German newsmagazine “Der Spiegel.”   The FOP leadership needs to read it .   And then, after becoming better educated, they need to rescind their endorsement of Mr. Trump, post haste.   You can read the entire piece by clicking on the hotlink at the end of the quote.

“If the most powerful office in the world wasn’t at stake, all this wouldn’t be nearly as dangerous. Germany has been too busy dealing with the supposed threat posed by refugees in recent months to appreciate what’s really been going on across the Atlantic. Despite their differences, the US and Germany share an unshakeable faith in democracy and freedom. But nothing would be more harmful to the idea of the West and world peace than if Donald Trump were to be elected president. Compared to that, the America of George W. Bush would seem like a land of logic and reason in retrospect.”Der Spiegel

 

(trump photo courtesy michael vadon/wiki commons)