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 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 Weekend Watering Hole, Saturday, January 7th-8th, 2017: Russian Roulette

Here’s some of the most recent articles about the U.S. intelligence agencies’ report on the Russian influence in Trump’s election.

First, here’s a PDF of the report itself.

Next we have relevant articles from yesterday’s Washington Post and the New York Times.

And then a couple of articles on Trump’s post-intelligence-briefing statements, one from the NY Times, and one from this morning’s Raw Story. Apparently Trump took time from his preoccupation with Arnold and The Apprentice to tweet a few idiocies while avoiding the ‘yuge’ Russian elephant in his room.

What will it take for Trump, his minions, and the GOP to finally admit that the chambers in the Russian Roulette revolver aren’t all empty?

This is our Open Thread – join in with whatever you want to talk about.

The Year End Hole December 31, 2016: A Year We’d Like To Pretend Didn’t Happen

The year 2016 will likely be remembered for the pain and grief of losing so many famous people, as well as the pain and grief of our country’s losing its collective shit and electing as President a man whose only qualifications for the job are the bare minimum spelled out in the Constitution: he was born here, he’s old enough, and he’s lived here along enough. It would have been nice if the Framers had the foresight to add a few more requirements to be president, such as knowing what the hell you’re talking about, being able to talk about it coherently, and understanding what the responsibilities and sacrifices of being a public servant are. I see none of those very desirable qualities in the man chosen by the Electoral College to be the 45th President of the United States. Nor do I see any of those very desirable qualities in the millions of people who voted for him.

I can believe a great many of them, but not a majority, were not so much voting for Donald Trump as they were voting against a version of Hillary Clinton that simply did not match the one who exists in the real world. They voted against a myth. Then there are the ones who voted for Donald Trump, but who also voted for a myth. They believed that he was a very successful businessman because he said he was one. They believed he was worth billions of dollars because he said he was. (The estimates of what his real estate holdings are worth come from him, and him alone. And they can go up or down depending on whether there are tax considerations at stake.) They believed he could do all the things he promised to do as president because he said he could do them, not because he actually had the legal or constitutional authority to do them. I could go on, but you get the idea. Neither Trump nor the people who voted for him understand the first thing about governing and being a public servant. And let’s not even talk about who Trump’s most vocal supporters were: Nazis and the KKK. And they got their reward with a senior advisor to the president whispering sweet bigotry in his ear.

I would certainly like a do-over on 2016. Bring back all the wonderful people we lost and throw out the ones we elected to run our country. I want to be hopeful about 2017. I want to think that it can’t be any worse, but then I thought 2016 couldn’t keep getting any worse and it did, day after day, right up to losing Princess Leia AND her mother on consecutive days. So it’s hard for me to believe things are going to get better just because our rocky little blue dot completed another revolution around a hot ball of gas that simultaneously gives us life and tries to take it away. But the alternative is too depressing to contemplate, so we pretty much have to hope it gets better. (Insert forced smile here.)

For a better and more humorous take on 2016, check out Dave Barry’s Year in Review. He always makes me laugh though he has yet to make my drink come out my nose. And whatever your plans this weekend, please enjoy a safe, happy holiday, and may you have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.

UPDATE: And just to show us 2016 wasn’t through making our lives miserable, another popular actor, William Christopher, has died. Christopher was best known for playing Father Mulcahy on both M*A*S*H and AfterM*A*S*H.

Thanks for all the jocularity, Mr. Christopher.

This is our weekend open thread, as I probably won’t post something else on Sunday. Feel free to discuss any topic you wish. Consider signing up to post your own weekly column at The Zoo. Several days available. Happy New Year.

The Watering Hole, Monday, Dec 19, 2016: How He’ll Screw Ya (A Song Parody)

The people who voted for Donald Trump have no idea what trouble they’ve caused themselves. Trump never did anything for anybody that didn’t also help himself, even if it was just to stroke his amazingly fragile ego. His Trump Tower Headquarters on 5th Avenue in NYC has become a Mecca for favor seekers and mendacious speakers, including The Donald himself (as he is [dis]affectionately known in his home city.) This is a parody addressed to the ill-educated, short-sighted, bigoted white idiots who voted for Trump. I hope that the rest of you enjoy it at least as much as they’ll hate it.

How He’ll Screw Ya
(Original words and music “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, 1984
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2016)

Now we know it was no secret chord
That Donald played and it pleased the horde
But you don’t really care for truth now, do ya?
It flows like piss, goes forth from 5th
The minor lies, the major grift
The awful king exposing how he’ll screw ya
How he’ll screw ya, How he’ll screw ya
How he’ll screw ya, How he’ll screw ya

His facts were wrong but you ceded proof
You saw him tweeting like a goof
His duty to the alt-right overthrew ya
He lied to you in bitching where
He broke the rules he claimed unfair
And from his lips we knew just how he’ll screw ya
How he’ll screw ya, How he’ll screw ya
How he’ll screw ya, How he’ll screw ya

Maybe I’ve heard this before
I know this gloom, I’ve fought this war
I used to fight alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen his plans and they’re really poor
He’d love to take a victory tour
He’s so bold and he’s not jokin’ how he’ll screw ya
How he’ll screw ya, How he’ll screw ya
How he’ll screw ya, How he’ll screw ya

There was a time I told you so
What’s really going on you know
But now you never listen to me, do ya
And remember when I proved it true
And the wingnut right was crying boo
And every thing he’d do was how he’ll screw ya
How he’ll screw ya, How he’ll screw ya
How he’ll screw ya, How he’ll screw ya

Maybe there’s a lesson here
All you ever learned from fear
Was how to shoot at someone who’s new to ya
And it’s no surprise that he cheers alt-right
He’s somebody they’re pleased is white
It’s been told and it’s all spoken how he’ll screw ya
How he’ll screw ya, How he’ll screw ya
How he’ll screw ya, How he’ll screw ya

This is our daily open thread. feel free to discuss any topic you wish.

The Weekend Watering Hole, December 17th, 2016: Men of a Lesser God

With so many evangelical “Christians” having supported Trump in the election, I was curious to find out how they’re reacting to the intelligence community’s reports of Russia’s interference in the election on Trump’s behalf.

The Christian Post is totally silent on the topic. They’re still more concerned with: abortion; not being allowed to discriminate against gays; abortion; the “War on Christmas” (Bill O’Reilly says it’s over, “we won”, although Franklin Graham seems to disagree); and abortion – not necessarily in that order.

Raw Story had a recent article about Franklin Graham praying for Trump to succeed in ‘bringing back jobs’ (nobody on the right seems to notice that President Obama managed to create a few million jobs and reduce the unemployment rate to [what should be] a fairly acceptable rate, despite the Republican blockade.) The article briefly mentions Vladimir Putin. Two quick excerpts, each of which earns its own separate (but brief) rant:

“During an interview on Tuesday, Graham praised Trump for finding a way to “work with the thugs” like Russian President Vladimir Putin “so that we can have peace in this world.”

First, I realize that, at the time of the interview, Graham may not have heard – or paid attention to – the stories that were coming out about exactly HOW Trump had been “finding a way to ‘work with the thugs’ like…Putin”, BUT, did/does Graham actually think that a Trump/Putin cooperative (or whatever you want to call it) could possibly bring about “peace in this world”?

Second, in the last few years, bigoted conservatives have re-defined the term “thug” to mean “black man.” I certainly haven’t seen any attempt by any conservatives trying to ‘find a way to work with’ those “thugs” – well, except by killing or imprisoning them, which I don’t consider to be ‘working with.’

“That’s the problem with the politicians in Washington,” he said. “They sit down there and they do nothing. Now we’ve got a man who’s coming into the White House who wants to get things done. And I hope and I pray — we all as Americans, we need to pray for the president-elect and vice president-elect.”

Mr. Graham (I refuse to use the honorific “Reverend”, he’s no more reverent than I am), we’ve HAD a man in the White House for eight years who has wanted to “get things done”, but the Republican-controlled Congress forced our entire federal government to “sit down there and…do nothing.” So go pray for your own soul, god-boy, if you have one, and leave the rest of us out of it. Maybe if you start repenting now, your god might forgive you for not listening to his son.

Graham was interviewed by Christian Today on November 13th on his reaction to Trump’s election victory. Some excerpts:

In an interview with Christian Today, Graham said there was “no question” that God had a hand in the election of Trump as the next President of the United States, and predicted a “huge impact” from his nominations to the Supreme Court.

He revealed that Trump had told him personally that he will repeal the controversial Johnson Amendment of 1954, which prevents church leaders from endorsing or opposing political candidates from the pulpit.

According to polls, white evangelical Christians backed Trump by 81 per cent to 16 per cent – a larger margin of the evangelical vote than was achieved by a Republican candidate in the past three elections.

Graham said Trump is a “changed man” from when he made his notorious lewd comments about women…

“What you see is what you get. Politicians are pretty good at smiling and being one thing in public and then when the doors are closed, they are different people.”

Donald Trump, by contrast, is the same in private as he appears on television, Graham said.

“He’s not polished, like a lot of politicians. He’s a little rough around the edges. But he means what he says. People need to understand that he’s a very powerful person, very strong, he’s got a very good family, great children. He’s going to put together maybe one of the best teams in Washington that we have seen in years.”

Graham said there was no question that God a hand in the election. “The vast majority of the evangelical community supported Donald Trump because he has said he is going to support Christians, not only at home but around the world.

“So when we see Christianity being attacked worldwide, not just by militant Muslims but by secularism, it’s refreshing to have a leader who is willing to defend the Christian faith.”
~~~~~
One aspect of the election result that was truly a surprise to so many was that Trump’s moral character was apparently not a problem for many leading Christians. Some students at Liberty even set up a petition to distance themselves from Trump and the support he received from Falwell. The petition stated: “Associating any politician with Christianity is damaging to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But Donald Trump is not just any politician. He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.”

According to Graham, the key to assessing Trump’s character is to look at the people in his team.

“Donald Trump has surrounded himself with strong evangelicals and for me as a Christian, I’m very pleased with that,” he said.

Graham did not say whether he considers Trump to be a Christian or not – “Only God really knows a person’s heart” – but, “You can tell a lot about a person by the people that they surround themselves with. Our current president claimed to be a Christian but you don’t see that in the people around him.

“Trump has strong evangelical Christians surrounding him. I’ve known Ben Carson for many years. He is a wonderful man of God. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas – another fine Christian gentleman. Mike Pence. These are the people that he surrounds himself with.”

Graham also knows Mike Pence and has spent time with him: “He is a man of God, he is a very strong evangelical. Donald Trump has surrounded himself with some strong Christians which is very encouraging.”

Graham said: “He’s [Trump] told me that he’s going to work to have that repealed. It will be huge. I think that the Johnson Amendment was a stupid thing. It was somewhat racial in the sense that Johnson did not want black pastors at that time to speak out against him.”

He and many other evangelicals welcome the prospect of that change which will have a massive impact on the way churches and other religious groups engage in politics.

~~~~~

I can’t even continue reading this hypocritical, delusional, un-American, unconstitutional idealization of an American Theocracy. I glanced further down in the article, and knew I would go ballistic if I continued. As it is, I had to take a 1/2 xanax and lie down for a while before I could finish writing this post.

How can anyone say that “Trump is a changed man”, then say that “what you see is what you get”, when what we see is the same loudmouthed, bigoted, ignorant blowhard that we’ve seen for the past, say, 30 years? How can Graham say that “only god really knows a person’s heart” to gloss over Trump’s obviously un-christian views on the one hand, yet label Obama as not being a christian, without such a caveat?  And the “surprise” “that Trump’s moral character was apparently not a problem for many leading Christians”, that doesn’t trouble these die-hard two-issue – abortion and ‘teh gay’ – “men of god”? Theirs is not a god that our country should go anywhere near, let alone follow.

When this particular interview with Christian Today occurred, it was only a few days after the election. Yet nothing in my searches in the time frame SINCE the election indicates that ANY of the right-wing evangelicals have any public opinion about a foreign government intervening in the U.S. Presidential election on behalf of one candidate. Until Graham or any of these bully-pulpit religious fanatics denounce Trump’s tightly-woven bond with Russia, I can only conclude that they are happy to be associated with any monstrous regime.  As long as they can get their way on those two issues, they’ll bow down to any despot. Fuck them and the four horses of the apocalypse that they rode in on.

This is our very late Open Thread–talk about whatever you want.

The Weekend Watering Hole, December 10th/11th, 2016: Good-ish? News

To start this weekend off, here’s a few stories that I found a bit heartening. Or perhaps I should say ‘less disheartening than most news.’

First, a story by Jen Hayden from Thursday’s Daily Kos says that General Barry McCaffrey no longer supports Trump’s choice for national security advisor. Quite the opposite, in fact. An excerpt:

General Barry McCaffrey tells NBC News that he was initially supportive of Donald Trump’s decision to name Lt. General Michael Flynn as his national security advisor. But, a closer look at Flynn’s social media use shows that he sent out at least 16 different fake (propaganda) news stories via social media and General McCaffrey pulled no punches, bluntly calling the tweets and stories “demented.”

The Trump transition team is also rightly getting criticism for allowing Lt. General Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, to not only take part in the transition team, but to seek out security clearance for him when his own social media has shown him to be prolifically disseminating utterly false and outrageous politically motivated news. (You can watch a smarmy Mike Pence evade Jake Tapper’s pointed questions about Flynn, Jr.’s security clearance six different times by clicking here.) One of those fake stories prompted a man to walk into a pizza place and fire his high-powered gun to personally “investigate” the child sex trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton that Flynn was tweeting about to his followers. Which, of course, wasn’t happening.

General Barry McCaffrey went on to say that “we need to aggressively examine what was going on” with Lt. General Michael Flynn and his son.

Next, Trump’s “Ego Trip Tour” brings him to Maryland, and he’s attending today’s iconic Army-Navy football game in Annapolis,  He will also be visiting Baltimore, and the Baltimore City Council made it clear that they are not exactly laying out the “Welcome” mat for him.  According to the Baltimore Sun:

In its first official act Thursday, the new Baltimore City Council voted unanimously to condemn statements made by Donald J. Trump, days before the president-elect is expected to visit the city.

The resolution formally opposed Trump’s “divisive and scapegoating rhetoric, rooted in hate and prejudice,” a measure political scientists say flies in the face of new Mayor Catherine E. Pugh‘s goal of persuading the next president to funnel federal investment to the cash-strapped city.

Some Baltimore officials think that the City Council’s resolution will work against efforts by Mayor Pugh to wheedle funds out of Trump, and believe it was a stupid – one said “boneheaded” – thing to do. I strongly disagree: I want to see more cities like this stand up for character values like ethics, integrity, civil rights, and compassion. (According to the article, San Francisco is the only other city to put out a message like this against ‘Trumpland.’) I agree with this last part of the Sun article:

Veteran Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, of North Baltimore, said the action sets a tone for the new council and sends a signal to residents.
“I am very proud that we are one of the very first city councils in the United States of America to push back and say, ‘Time for respect, again, in America,'” Clarke said. The resolution is “a great way to start off this new term of office in that manner by pushing back, ‘Ain’t gonna do it that way. We’ll do it our way: respect, justice, fairness, balance.'”

And finally: FINALLY, President Obama is ordering an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Of course, while the Washington Post “Breaking News Alert” that I received said “Obama Orders Review of Russian Hacking During Presidential Campaign”, obviously various investigations and studies had been going on for several months.  Just one brief excerpt (but you really should read the entire article, there’s lots more):

“The CIA shared its latest assessment with key senators in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill last week, in which agency officials cited a growing body of intelligence from multiple sources. Agency briefers told the senators it was now “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.”

Although the Obama Administration and several Senators and Congressmen from both parties had some of these reports by “mid-September”, according to the Washington Post article, they had trepidations about announcing it publicly and/or officially ordering an investigation so close to the Election. IMHO, their concerns over the likelihood of being accused of using an investigation as a political ploy on behalf of the Clinton campaign should have been swept aside by the undeniable fact that ANY foreign country, and especially one with whom we have historically had a tenuous and cautious relationship, actively worked to influence the United States Presidential Election. In addition, if they thought that the Trumplanders would have been really pissed off if they brought this out BEFORE the election, didn’t any of them realize how much worse the “deplorables” would react AFTER their Fuhrer won the election? But at least now the Russian elephant in the room is getting official attention, and that’s a good thing, regardless of the timing. This Washington Post article discusses some of the GOP reaction, as well as reaction (more idiotic conspiracy-theory BS) from Trump and his ilk.  Trump can deny it all he wants, but all of the research so far shows that Russia put a ‘YUGE’ thumb on the election scale for Trump

I realize that these little “good news” tidbits are set in the context of the new, horror/sci-fi reality of an upcoming Trump presidency, at least they’re more positive than negative. And right now, that’s all that I find I can hope for.

This is our Open Thread – what’s on your minds?