The Watering Hole, Monday, January 23rd, 2017: Freedom of the Press

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We’ve all ripped both network and cable news organizations for their role in aiding and abetting this abomination of a Presidential election. But since the Orange Shitgibbon has won, and he and his spokesgoblins are taking more active steps to label any accurate and unflattering reporting of their words and activities as “fake news” by the “dishonest press”, this should be considered a very serious attack on the First Amendment right of Freedom of the Press. After having previously, in a fit of pique, revoked The Washington Post’s press credentials during the campaign, now the new Trump administration has shut down access to and from CNN.

According to a MediaMatters article:

President Donald Trump and his team continued their unprecedented attempts to delegitimize and blacklist CNN by refusing to have a representative appear on CNN’s Sunday political talk show, State of the Union, while booking appearances on the other major political talk shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox Broadcasting Co.
At the top of the January 22 edition of CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper said that his show “asked the Trump White House for a member of the new administration to join us this morning, but they declined.”

 

During Trump’s first press conference as president-elect on January 11, Trump refused to take a question from CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta, calling his network “fake news” and “terrible.” Following the event, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer admitted to threatening to remove Acosta from the press conference and later demanded an apology. Trump ally and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich responded to the incident by asserting that Trump should use the altercation to “shrink and isolate” CNN and eventually “close down the elite press.” Acosta and his colleagues from across the media condemned Trump’s treatment of CNN.

 

The Trump team’s refusal to appear on CNN came one day after it declined to air the live feed of Spicer’s first press conference after the inauguration, where Spicer blatantly lied about the size of inauguration crowds. According to Variety’s Brian Steinberg, “CNN’s refusal to take the live feed suggests executives there are reluctant to put false statements on air, and, what’s more, do not think the new White House press representative is entirely credible.” From the January 21 report:

 

“CNN’s decision to not air the press conference live illustrates a recognition that the role of the press must be different under Trump. When the White House holds press briefings to promote demonstrably false information and refuses to take questions, then press ‘access’ becomes meaningless at best and complicit at worst,” said Danna Young, an associate professor at the University of Delaware who studies politics and the media. “Democracy works best when journalists have access to the executive branch, of course. But that holds true if and only if that access leads to verifiable, accurate information. The decision on behalf of CNN to wait and verify before airing it live suggests that the media are adapting quickly to this new era.”

 

To be certain, news outlets routinely make decisions about whether to air press events live, usually based on projections about news value. But this press conference, held just a day after the President’s inauguration, would have been a hot prospect for a cable-news outlet, and could have sparked hours of debate and follow-up on CNN’s schedule. In an unusual and aggressive maneuver, CNN aired its regular weekday lineup this Saturday, underscoring heavy interest in breaking news of a series of massive protests by women across the nation in response to Trump’s presidency as well as the new President’s first few days in office.

While I am still outraged by the fact that CNN had hired Corey Lewandowski fresh from the Trump team campaign, and paid the lying POS good money to NOT say anything bad about Trump, maybe, just maybe, CNN can redeem itself by employing real investigative journalism. There’s a lot to dig into in all aspects of Trump’s life/taxes/business practices/Russian connections/conflicts of interest, and a 24-hour news network is what’s needed to get to the bottom of Trump’s “alternate facts” swamp.

What do you say, CNN? Do the right thing, or cave to a tyrant?

This is our Open Thread–comments welcome.

The Watering Hole; Friday, January 20th, 2017: “A Date Which Will Live In Infamy.”

I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate
president. I think the Russians participated
in helping this man get elected . . .”
(Rep. John Lewis, D-GA; 1-13-2017)

Rep. John Lewis was, of course, spot-on correct when he made that statement to Chuck Todd on MSNBC a week ago (seems like a year at least; why is that?) a mere seven days before the inauguration. Lewis also said he would not be in attendance for the event, a position that infuriated Trump even as it raised the spirits of others. The only quibble I have with Lewis’s statement is a simple one: to my mind, Trump’s “presidency” is not rendered illegitimate solely because of Russian interference in the election.

“Legitimate” is defined as conforming to established standards of usage, behaviour, etc., [and] based on correct or acceptable principles of reasoning.”

I cannot, even in my most generous mood, see how ANY of that definition can be applied to that which is about to happen to the highest elective office in this country. In my seventy-four-plus years on this planet, presidents FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Poppy Bush, Clinton, Dubsy Bush, and Obama have occupied the head chair in the Oval Office. Two of them — FDR and Obama — have been among the greatest Presidents the country has ever had, and while Ike, JFK, and Carter stood tall as they grandly overshadowed the marginal and/or less than marginal others, the dude that will ascend to that chair somewhere around noon EST today stands out as that pinhole of dimmest light which may well prove to be the herald of our nation’s darkest hour. How did that happen? As William Wordsworth put it a couple of hundred years ago,

Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

Where is it now indeed. We have, just  now, “elected” as “president,” a man who is clearly the LEAST qualified for that office in at least the last 85 years, and likely the most unqualified person ever in the country’s 240 year history. As of today, we have a president who . . .

  1. Is a certifiable Narcissistic Egomaniac,
  2. a bigot,
  3. a misogynist,
  4. a xenophobe,
  5. and a chronic liar.
  6. He has zero political experience, also offers no clue that he’s ever read even a word of the Constitution (or that he even COULD read a word of the Constitution).
  7. Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, and “won” the election solely via the obsolete but Constitutionally-defined Electoral College. His popular vote defeat was the largest in history, and yet he claims to have won the election in a landslide.
  8. He attributed Clinton’s 3 million winning vote margin to massive voter fraud.
  9. He has spoken out loud that NATO is obsolete and that he has no interest in the Eurpoean Union. Small wonder that Europe is probably about as worried as we are in re Trump’s “election” to the most powerful governing position in the world.
  10. Trump is a climate change denier and has indicated that he’ll work to nullify the Paris Agreement, also to increase coal and other fossil fuel production in the US.
  11. A major contingent of the Republican Party (including Trump, I presume) believes that all Federal Public Lands should be turned over to the states so they can be made useful; Trump has offered no indication that he will support protection of National Forests, National Parks, Monuments, Refuges, Wilderness, or any other category of Public Land.
  12. Trump has often spoken of his admiration for Putin, and has either denied or minimized the fact that Russian cyber-hackers worked diligently to influence the US election in 2016 with the goal of swinging enough voters to elect Trump — apparently because Putin thinks he can manipulate Trump, something he couldn’t manage with Obama and knew wouldn’t happen with Hillary Clinton.
  13. Intelligence has revealed that Putin may indeed have the means at hand to essentially force Trump to do what Putin asks, via alleged hotel camera videos of Trump interacting with Russian Prostitutes; Trump, of course, denies everything.
  14. Since Trump’s election, White Supremacists/Nationalists, neo-Nazis, the KKK, and other hate groups have dramatically increased their anti-Jewish/Black/Latino/Muslim activities; hate crimes have increased nation wide.
  15. Trump has said he will halt all Muslim immigration, and will also . . .
  16. Move to immediately deport all undocumented immigrants from Latin America and, presumably, anywhere else.
  17. He has even included DACA people, i.e. young folks who were brought into this country by undocumented parents when they were children, even infants, and who have grown up as Americans.
  18. Trump has refused to divest his business interests, and is very likely to be violating the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution at the very moment his swearing-in is complete.
  19. He has also refused to open his finances and financial arrangements, including via his tax returns, for examination (does he have strong financial ties to Russia? He doesn’t want anyone to know, apparently, so a best guess would be YES he does).
  20. He is threatening every American-owned company that has products manufactured overseas or outside of the US in this hemisphere that there will be a heavy tariff imposed on their products unless they manufacture them in the US and not overseas. That will apply, apparently, to every company other than his own various facilities in China, Turkey, Mexico, and various other places.
  21. When Trump’s proposed tax cuts and budgeting proposals are merged, the calculations result in a ten trillion dollar add-on to the National Debt; “conservatism” defined.
  22. He has vowed to ‘repeal and replace’ Obamacare. Right. Look for 20-30 million folks with no health care at all if Trump and fellow wingnuts get their way.

Can anyone make the argument that Trump is, indeed, a “Legitimate” president? Does he/will he ever conform to established standards of usage, behaviour, etc., based on correct or acceptable principles of reasoning? Clearly no. I do, therefore and hereby, declare Donald J. Trump to be this nation’s first totally ILLEGITIMATE PRESIDENT! whose sole purpose remains his own self-glorification, no matter the cost to others — including the nation as a whole, even the entire of the planet. He, Donald J. Trump, is, in his mind, ALL THAT MATTERS! PERIOD! — all of which brings to the forefront, once again, FDR’s description of “December 7th, 1941: A date which will live in infamy,” now become “January 20th, 2017: A Date which . . . etc.”

In closing, I’m inserting a poem I wrote and posted here last summer after the Republican Convention, after Trump’s nomination. It’s a sonnet, an acrostic quatorzain, intended to define the essence of Trump the nominee, his persona. To bring it up to date I only had to change two words: in the title, ‘Persona’ to ‘Presidency,’ and in the body, ‘nominee’ to ‘President.’ It appears to have worked. 🙂

Donald J Trump and His Egomaniacal Presidency
(via an Acrostic Fourteener Quatorzain)

Democracy allows a boundless breadth of mindless thought.
One brief glance today unmasks a President who deems to
Never claim to own the vicious speech he hopes will be bought
And sold as memes. Whilst he himself wears masks of learn’ed view,
Lengthy rhetoric from speaker thus afflicted reveals
Dismal platitudes, each expressed as if nonsensical
Judgment of those who are more sane, of those whose thought appeals
To wisdom, not to ignorance of issues topical.
Racial bigots find curious relief in hate and fear
Until they are themselves dismissed by soft and passioned dreams.
Misogyny as well appeals to minds that aim to smear
Perspectives based on common goals of life — with bogus schemes.
Deliv’rance of this nation’s soul and heart is thus on hold
Till egomania’s greed and sloth are disappeared — or sold.

One has to wonder, I suppose, if the theses and conclusions implied in the sonnet will still be valid after, say, a full four-year term of a Trump presidency. My best guess is HELL YES they’ll still be valid! That’s assuming, of course, that the country can survive four years with a Narcissistic, Egomaniacal, Bigoted, Misogynistic, Xenophobic and Illegitimate nutcase at its helm. I, for one, have my doubts, but time will surely tell; it always does.

Footnote: Here are a couple of links that provide a few revealing details from both sides of the Trump-Putin topic:

Paul Krugman: With All Due Disrespect

Vladimir Putin defends Donald Trump, says critics trying to “undermine the legitimacy” of the president-elect

******

A darting fear — a pomp — a tear —
A waking on a morn
To find that what one waked for,
Inhales the different dawn.
(Emily Dickinson)

******

OPEN THREAD

 

The Watering Hole; Thursday Jan. 19 2017; Inaugur(anticip)ation

The difference between Despair
And Fear — is like the One
Between the instant of a Wreck
And when the Wreck has been
(Emily Dickinson)

******

Tomorrow, January 20 2017, is the day Donald J. Trump is to be inaugurated as POTUS #45. I’ll not be there. Not in person. Not on the TV, radio, or in any other possible way. I side with the (hopefully) tens of millions who prefer something creative to anything destructive. The bottom line: Trump is a genuinely illegitimate president-select. Period. (More on that tomorrow).

Today I have nothing to say. There are no words. But there are Visuals! Here are some I’ve collected over the last couple of years, visuals that pretty much summarize this nation’s self-imposed electoral consequence.

Without further ado:

schlong

trump-dumb

the-donny-llama-e

The Donny Llama

putin-trump-horse

trumps-gop-elephant

trump-can-grab-my

trump-chins

obama-trump-nukes

trump-the-nation-cover

trump-mencken

And Finally:

potus

There. Drumpfian “Fair and Balanced” summary complete.

******

“What Trump proposes is [American] Geopolitical Suicide.
Make no mistake: you should be very worried right now.”
(Daniel Nexon, Professor at Georgetown University)

******

2017’s Pending Inauguration  OPEN THREAD — Have at it!

The Watering Hole, 1/18/2017

As soon as Hillary Clinton cinched the Democratic Party’s nomination her supporters began deriding Sander’s supporters in earnest, in an effort to shame or fear-monger them into voting for The Chosen One. As a Sanders supporter, their efforts further turned this author off from Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

In two days, Donald Trump will become the President of the United States. Ever since the election, those on the left have called Trump voters all kinds of names, all of which were anything but kind. This divisive name-calling is counterproductive. It only serves to drive Trump supporters further away, as the natural tendency when one is attacked is to become defensive.

To change the course of this Nation, it will be necessary for the common man on the left and on the right to work together, to join forces against the ruling oligarchy. Up until now, the oligarchy has been content to control our government from behind the scenes. But with Trump, and his likely choices to fill his Cabinet, they are up front, running the show from the highest seat of power.

So, how do we, the people, bridge the divisive gap between the left and the right? It must start with overtures from the left. It must start with recognizing that not everyone who voted for Trump is racist. Not everyone who voted for Trump hates women. Like Sanders supporters, many, many Trump supporters voted for change. Trump was going to drain the swamp, and drain the swamp he will. He’s going to Make America Great Again by putting the interests of the 1% above all else. The common man and woman who voted for Trump will soon be left out in the cold.

As they see their health insurance disappear, or skyrocket out of reach, as States budgets buckle under the crushing weight of an unfunded mandate to provide health care for those who no longer have coverage while the taxes on the 1% are cut and cut again; as they realize that Right to Work laws mean the end of unions, union wages and benefits; and when it dawns on them that Trump is not bringing their factory jobs back, many, many Trump supporters will feel they’ve been conned. The last thing they’ll want to hear is an “I told you so” from the left.

Trump supporters will need to hear facts, objectively stated. They’ll need to hear solutions, short of taking up arms. They’ll need to know that those on the left will have their back and will stand with them, side by side, through the long, arduous task of wresting control of our government from the moneyed elite sitting on both sides of the aisle.

Trump supporters have been conditioned to see liberals as the enemy. Liberals have been trained to see conservatives as the enemy. Both views have been fostered by the ruling class so that liberals and conservatives alike do not see them as the enemy.

We need to mend fences where we can. The first side to stop using hate speech will ultimately control the dialogue.

OPEN THREAD – OPEN THE DIALOGUE

The Weekend Hole, Sat-Sun, January 14-15, 2017: Everything’s Alt-right (A Song Parody)

One of the greatest rock operas (and one of my personal favorites) is “Jesus Christ Superstar,” a story about a nice Jewish boy who went into his father’s business. (A Jewish friend from the development I grew up in used to tell me that joke.) This particular parody is based on the very popular song from that musical, “Everything’s Alright.” I feel bad because try as I might, I could not find any suitable video, or even audio clip, to post so you can follow along. But it MUST be from the original Broadway musical, and NOT the film which sucked hugely. If you use a clip from that, it won’t match the lyrics because they sing it wrong in the movie. You know how these parodies work. Can’t have that. So you’ll have to drag out your CD and play along. Then again you should know how the song goes, especially once you start going through the words. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think, and if you like it, please share it. Thank you very much. Oh, and, yes, the Trump lines are deliberate.

Everything’s Alt-right
Original words and music, “Everything’s Alright” by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, 1970
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2017

Kellyanne Conway
Try not to get frenzied, try not to log onto
Forums that upset you so don’t you know
Everything’s alt-right yes Nazis online
And we want you to tweet well tonight
Let the world turn around you tonight
And the lies will get by so retweet all about them tonight

Steve Bannon
Everything’s alt-right yes everything’s alt-right yes

Kellyanne Conway
Tweet and it shall soothe you calm you then annoy you
Stir up your poor hothead so then you’ll see
Everything’s alt-right yes Nazis online
And they’re cool; your appointments, sweet
More the liars in your stead and fleet
Post your lies post your lies
Then relax think of Nazis tonight

Steve Bannon
Everything’s alt-right yes everything’s alt-right yes

The Thinking People Who See Trump For The Fraud He Is
Donald your appointments brand you an extremist
Could we be paced for a war?
Why are your days wasted? You could have placed maybe
Three hundred better people or more
People who aren’t angry people who aren’t raving
Matter more than your tweets and hair

Kellyanne Conway
Try not to get frenzied try not to log onto
Forums that upset you so don’t you know
Everything’s alt-right yes Nazis online
And we want you to sleep well tonight
Let the world turn around you tonight
And the lies will get by so retweet all about them tonight

Steve Bannon
Everything’s alt-right yes everything’s alt-right yes

Donald Trump
Surely you’re not saying we have the resources
To save the poor from their lot?
There will be poor always pathetically struggling –
Look at the good things you’ve got!
Think! while you still have me
Move! while you still see me
You’ll be lost and you’ll be so sorry when I’m gone

Kellyanne Conway
Tweet and it shall soothe you calm you then annoy you
Stir up your poor hothead so then you’ll see
Everything’s alt-right yes Nazis online
And they’re cool; your appointments, sweet
More the liars in your stead and fleet
Post your lies post your lies
Then relax think of Nazis tonight
Post your lies post your lies
Then relax think of Nazis tonight

All
Everything’s alt-right yes everything’s alt-right yes

Everything’s Alt-right (Reprise)
Original words and music, “Everything’s Alright” by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, 1970
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2017

Kellyanne Conway
Try not to get frenzied try not to log onto
Forums that upset you so don’t you know
Everything’s alt-right yes Nazis online

Donald Trump
And I think I shall sleep well tonight
Let the world turn around me tonight

Kellyanne Conway
And the lies will get by so retweet all about them tonight

This is our daily open thread.

The Watering Hole; Jan. 12/13 2017; National Monuments: Voices of the Vanished Ones, Preserved

VOICES in The Wind

Though modern ears seem deaf to primal song,
Ideas seek – and probe – subconscious minds.
Where spirits walk, old muted voices long
To search – as dust now gathered by the winds –
And speak in silence, whispering to those souls
Their sacred manifests of unsung dreams.
Then Suffrage of the land – through Gray Wolf’s howls
And breath of noiseless Deer – expresses themes
As surely as the murmur of the trees
Announces wind and wingéd life, in kind.
And silently as Eagle rides the breeze,
These messages – the Sum of Life – remind:
Man’s aimless, modern Din shall ne’er transcend
The Wild – and Ancient – Voices – in the Wind.

That was my summation, a decade or more ago, after having spent thirty years exploring the “out there” country of Arizona, including frequent visits to secluded national monuments that protected both historical sites and ‘special’ landscapes. And while I’ve never visited the latest pair of Obama-designated National Monuments — Gold Butte in Nevada and Bears Ears in S.E. Utah — I do totally and completely understand the grand value of each and every Antiquity Act designee that’s “out there” today. My hope is that we as a nation don’t stop here, but that we find every last square inch of land in need of absolute preservation, and then DO IT! And to hell with each and every wingnut that protests or tries to halt/overturn preservation whether past, present, or future.

Today’s Voices, a quick sample:

“I am designating two new national monuments in the desert landscapes of southeastern Utah and southern Nevada to protect some of our country’s most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archaeological sites, and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes. Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes.”
(President Barack Obama; December 28, 2016)

“We have always looked to Bears Ears as a place of refuge. The rocks,
the winds, the land — they are living, breathing things that deserve
timely and lasting protection.”
(Russell Begaye; President, Navajo Nation)

“Obama’s decision to create the national monuments means that the area,
that contains some Native American artifacts, will be protected
from energy drilling in the future.”
(Nikita Vladimirov, The Hill)

“It’s just terribly arrogant, he unilaterally — he is taking 1.35 million acres,
that’s more land than there is in the entire state of Delaware,
and re-designating it as a national monument.”
(Rep Jason Chafetz, R-Utah)

“This arrogant act by a lame duck president will not stand.”
(Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah)

“. . . the president’s midnight proclamation cherry picked provisions of the
Public Lands Initiative and disregarded the economic development and
multi-use provisions necessary for a balanced compromise.”
(Jason Chafetz, R-Utah)

“We look forward to working with President-elect Trump to follow through on
his commitment to repeal midnight regulations.
(Rep Jason Chafetz, R-Utah)

“By significantly restricting access to a large portion of public lands in Utah, the President weakens land management capabilities and fails to protect
those the Antiquities Act intended to benefit.”
(Sean Reyes, State Atty. Gen., R-Utah)

“President Obama is a courageous man. I could not be more grateful to him and
his team for working with me to make this happen, and for everything he has
done to protect public lands in Nevada. By designating Gold Butte a
national monument, President Obama has shown once again why he
is one of the greatest environmental presidents in American history.”
(Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada)

“Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that
future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these
scenic and historic landscapes.”
(President Barack Obama)

******

Obama perfectly summed up the undercurrent intentions of the 1906 Antiquities Act which, in spite of today’s Fascist (Tea Party) rejection of same, serves as the major tool to enable preservation of “scenic and historic landscapes” by Presidential decree and NOT via far-more-difficult-to-secure Congressional action. Today’s Republicans see absolutely zero benefit in preserving anything other than their own power and position. Landscapes? If they’re that good, there’s gotta be money in NOT preserving them. Historic sites? Ain’t nothin’ but a bunch of Injun crapola, and we beat them red skinned worthless bums 150 years ago. Who cares about shit they done way back when?

In the last 8 years, President Obama has preserved, via the Antiquities Act, more than 550 million acres in 29 newly-designated National Monuments, more than any President has ever done: an impressive statistic. For those of us who cherish the ‘voices’ offered by the wind, by the vanished ones, Obama’s accomplishment stands tall and far above the sacrifices demanded by (political/commercial) gluttonous greed.

Following are a handful of photos I’ve taken over the years, visual descriptions of the centerpieces in nine of Arizona’s eighteen (the most in any one state) National Monuments. The first seven are of historic or ancient ruins, followed by a composite from a National Heritage Site in a National Forest, and finally a pair of Monumental ‘historic (volcanic) landscapes.’ Taken together, they vividly spell out — at least in my mind — the grand purpose behind the 1906 Antiquities Act, AND the fantastic consequences thereof. Continue reading

The Watering Hole, 1/11/17: Making America Great Again, Part 1

In reviewing the latest draft bill to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, cut taxes for the top 1%, shift Medicaid expenses to the States and privatize Medicare, this author came across a provision that has, as yet, to receive any attention from the mainstream media.

The bill calls for mandatory sterilization of all children born in the United States. However, parents can avoid having their children sterilized by paying a fee that reflects the costs to society for raising that child. The fee is based on the parents’ socio-economic status, and ranges from $0.00 to over $400,000.

Low income and minority parents pay the fees at the upper end, because research conclusively establishes it costs society more to raise their children. They tend to rely on Medicaid for medical expenses; food stamps to feed their children; their children attend public schools and more frequently are incarcerated. On the other hand, affluent parents’ children attend private schools, have health insurance, and have lower incarceration rates.

Since this is pushed through in a budget reconciliation bill, it cannot be filibustered. Sources close to Trump indicate he will sign the bill the minute it hits his desk.

OPEN THREAD