Rachel Maddow makes a good case for being the most smug about the epic fail that is the Nunes meh-mo

THE ISSUE

In a desperate attempt to help his overlord president thwart the Robert Mueller investigation, Congressman Devin Nunes cherry-picked classified intelligence information and spun it into the form of a memo which, after whipping up a frenzy of curiosity for weeks, he sent to Trump who authorised it for public release on Friday.   The reaction everywhere other than Fox News has been underwhelming to say the least.

THE MEDIA

YouTube clip by The Rachel Maddow Show on Friday, February 2, 2018

This is what all the hype was about? I hyped that I’d got Donald Trump’s tax returns …for one hour before I actually released…what actually were Donald Trump’s tax returns and for a year now people were telling me that was unconscionable hype”

THE COMMENT

Over in Utrumpia, where this memo is being paraded around like it’s The Ten Commandments, it doesn’t matter what the actual words on the page are.  

The type of person this sideshow was aimed at is never going to actually read the memo.  This White House is counting on that, and it always does, which brings us to the underlying problem in all of this – how do you tell people they’re being manipulated when the people manipulating them have them convinced that YOU’RE their enemy?

Being a smug member of the so-called liberal elite is something Rachel Maddow does better than most – it doesn’t bother me personally but I know her presentation style is way too ‘smart’ for Utrumpia natives.  That said, she did take a lot of flak for the way she hyped the tax returns she received and I was one of the few who stuck up for her at the time.   She is definitely justified in bringing it up.

She then goes on to spell out not only how little is in the meh-mo that actually helps Trump, but also how some of it works against him.  Pity Utrumpians won’t be watching, however.

Best quote I have seen about all of this so far has come from Senator John McCain…

“The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

We’ll see what Robert Mueller has to say about it all.  JLP

#IANWAE

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CNN’s Chris Cuomo uses facts to challenge Trump’s claims of economic success, including the President’s own words

THE ISSUE

President Trump wants us to stop focusing on anything negative to do with his administration and instead heap praise on him for the success of the US economy since he took office.

THE MEDIA

YouTube clip by CNN on 29 Jan 2018

Trump [in clip from campaign speech]: “When you hear 4.9 and 5% unemployment the number is probably 28 and 29, as high as 35…”

Cuomo [in CNN studio]: “You know what?  I agree with the President!

THE COMMENT

“You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” ― Daniel Patrick Moynihan

For me, the health of an economy is far from the only yardstick by which we should be judging our government.  But even if we accept that it is, CNN’s Chris Cuomo has done a great job putting the figures Trump has been crowing about into context.

At best, the economic reports under Trump are basically continuing the success that Obama had after inheriting a disastrous crash of the market.  But as Cuomo points out, in some areas the figures aren’t even that great in themselves.

But the best evidence he has comes from ‘candidate Trump’ who’s words are often found to be in direct opposition to those of ‘President Trump’.

And don’t just take CNN’s word for it…back in August the New York Times pointed out that : ‘Trump Praises the Stock Market at 22,000 That He Said Was a Bubble at 18,000

Let’s be clear…all politicians play fast and loose with economic figures to big themselves up, it’s just that in Trump’s case he has taken it to a whole new level by selectively ignoring his own words from the not-to-distant past.  JLP

#IANWAE

Burger King ad for net neutrality is a good thing though not for the best of reasons

THE ISSUE

The Donald Trump administration has ended net neutrality, meaning corporations can pick and choose what website you can visit by playing around with broadband speeds.  A bit like gerrymandering which we featured last weekend, it’s not the ‘sexiest’ issue yet it is still very important and restoring it should be of interest to all different types of political persuasion,

THE MEDIA

Article by Katie Reilly in Time magazine

Allow Burger King’s New Ad to Explain Net Neutrality to You

“The Burger King brand believes the Internet should be like the Whopper sandwich: the same for everyone,” the fast-food giant added.

THE COMMENT

Hey – I really, really don’t want to be negative about something that helps raise awareness about net neutrality…even if it’s a big business doing it, I really don’t care.

But I can’t help but comment on one small detail…the nature of the business in question.  Basically, it takes flame-grilled burgers to capture the attention of the wider American public even on something as important as this, or to put it differently, the way to their brains is through their stomachs.

Maybe if it was McDonalds with cheesburgers instead of Burger King with Whoppers then even the President himself could be won over?  JLP

#IANWAE

Trump has done nothing but shut down key parts of government since he took office but you wouldn’t know it listening to Democrats and media

THE ISSUE

Whether it’s through stupidity, unwillingness or incompetence, the Democrat leadership cannot get across the simple message that Donald Trump’s agenda of racism, misogyny and pro-corporatism is bad for the American people, and the mainstream media isn’t much better.

THE MEDIA

YouTube clip by Dan Rather on The Young Turks on January 22, 2018

The Government Shutdown Ends With a ‘Promise’ For DACA Vote From the GOP – The News With Dan Rather

“…if most of the media ignore the year-long slow-motion shut down and if Democrats don’t raise enough stink about it, maybe it’s because too many of us have signalled that we’re on board”

THE COMMENT

Shortcomings with relief efforts in Puerto Rico.  Throwing millions off their medical insurance by hacking away at Obamacare.  Going after Medicare and Social Security.  Gutting the staff at the State Department.  Rescinding regulations for the sake of it.

Those are just some of the actions Donald Trump has taken since being sworn in just over a year ago, yet in recent days he has been able to frame the word ‘shutdown’ as meaning something that is only harmful to the US military, which already receives more funding than any other nation by a long, long way.

At first I was annoyed at myself for not realising that what the President has done since taking office is effectively a massive shutdown in itself, but I’m not involved with politics and government on a daily basis – the point is so simple and obvious that we have to wonder why his primary opposition, namely the Democrats and, as he calls them, ‘The Fake News Media’, haven’t been highlighting it all weekend?

Thankfully we have people like the legendary Dan Rather to get the message out there.  And as he points out, it’s possible that the general public is also complicit to an extent.

As I recently pointed out here on FPP, the likes of Chuck Schumer with his ‘bowl of Jello’ and Nancy Pelosi with her ‘poop Sundae’ simply don’t have the charisma necessary to deliver the kind of soundbites needed to combat Trump’s twitter tirades.  Meanwhile we have Dick Durbin gleefully using the word ‘bipartisanship’ as if it also necessarily means ‘fairness for the American people’.

Besides…if anything should have clinched the message battle for the Democrats re the latest shutdown it should have been that absolutely disgusting ad which suggested they would be responsible for any future murders by illegal immigrants.  That was nothing short of Hitler-esque propaganda [script most likely written by Stephen Miller] which speaks volumes for the intelligence levels of the demographic at which it was aimed.

The party badly needs new leadership.  Whether or not Mitch McConnell keeps to his word on DACA by February 8, the Democrats have left themselves wide open for negative press between now and then for having caved far too easily over the spending bill.

And there I was, very close to writing a post here praising them for finally showing a bit of fight.  Why do I allow myself to get so deluded?  JLP

#IANWAE

PS – As I’m about to publish, Trump has tweeted this :

I rest my case.

 

It may not be a ‘sexy’ topic, but if you don’t fully understand gerrymandering, you don’t fully understand politics/government.

THE ISSUE

Gerrymandering is a process widely practised in democracies across the world [including Ireland] and has been proven to have a significant impact on representative government, yet it is broadly ignored by the mainstream media.

THE MEDIA

Podcast by Best Of The Left on January 19, 2018

#1159 Voters need to pick their reps, not the other way around (Gerrymandering)

“These district lines are the building blocks of democracy and when they get perverted and twisted as this, it leads to deeply undemocratic outcomes…that damages the levers of representative government and that is how elections are rigged and that is the kind of rigged we need to be talking about, not what Donald Trump is talking about.”

THE COMMENT

Packing. Cracking. The Efficiency Gap. Prison-gerrymadering,

IMO it is vital that we fully understand those terms – in fact I only learned about that last one regarding prisons from listening to the above episode of Best of the Left, a twice-weekly podcast which collates snippets from different online media sources on a specific topic.

We need to know every aspect of this process of gerrymandering, as well as how widespread it is.   At the moment Donald Trump is rumoured to be placing a man named Thomas Brunel, known to be heavily involved in rigging several districts in favour of Republicans, in charge of the next US census, which in turn decides most of the electoral boundaries across the country.

Do you think this practise doesn’t happen in Ireland anymore?  Think again.  There are over 150 TDs yet with only 26 counties to cover, many are lumped together in constituencies like Cavan/Monaghan, Sligo/Leitrim and Carlow/Kilkenny making it possible that entire counties can go without representation.

Then we have a practise I call ‘GerryAdamsing’, namely organising your votes to ensure multiple candidates from a particular party win seats.  Sinn Féin are far from the only party to do this but they are definitely among the best and the overall point is that it should not be possible at all.

But I am straying too far into my own personal opinion on the subject of voter suppression.   The point of this post is to encourage everyone to bring themselves up to speed and form their own opinion, and I recommend this episode of BestOfTheLeft as a good starting point.  JLP

#IANWAE

US Democrats have an open goal yet no strikers on the pitch to put it away

THE ISSUE

At the time of posting, the US government is within hours of shutting down because the two main parties are engaged in a blaming war with each other, and one that the Republicans are being allowed to win.

THE MEDIA

Podcast by ‘Pod Save America’ on January 18, 2018

‘The Shithole Shutdown’

“If this government shuts down it’s not because of the Dreamers, it is because of what Donald Trump and Tom Cotton and Stephen Miller want to demand in exchange for doing something that they have promised that they would do, which is protect the Dreamers.”

THE COMMENT

It was a good line; all Nancy Pelosi had to do was deliver it.  

The Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives was trying to describe the Republican offer to put off the government shutdown for another month in a deal which had absolutely nothing in it to protect those on the DACA programme who are currently living in fear of deportation.

The line was something like ‘They offered us a bowl of poop with a cherry on top and tried to tell us it was a chocolate Sundae’.  She hesitated drastically just before saying the word ‘poop’ – she clearly didn’t want to say it.  But she did anyway, and she made what could have been a great soundbite into an even bigger poop Sundae.

I have absolutely no doubt that she was talked into using those words by her staff, and that her hesitation came from a reluctance to resort to that kind of talk.

Well I’m sorry Nancy but if you’re not prepared to get into the fight, maybe it’s time you stood aside and let in someone who is.

And while I do believe that the likes of Pelosi and Schumer and Feinstein are too old for what’s required to take on this particular White House and Republican congress, I don’t necessarily mean ‘old’ in the sense of a numerical age.  There are people close to my age who have a similar mindset.

But if issues like the Dreamers and the CHIP programme are being held hostage by the Republicans and the government gets shut down because of it, it’s up to the Democrats to fight tooth and nail to get their side of the story into the public domain, and it really shouldn’t be that difficult.  Look how easily the lads from Pod Save America [former staffers for Barack Obama] make it sound.

The Democrats, and indeed everyone living in the real world outside Utrumpia, badly need spokespeople who can properly deliver this simple message.  And it shouldn’t take TV personalities like Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey to do it either. JLP

#IANWAE

If the White House can introduce countries like Nambia and Normay, then so can I…let’s talk about #Utrumpia

THE ISSUE

To support President Trump and his agenda, you either have to believe everything he says or at least decide that it is to your advantage to make it look as though you do.  Either way, you are living in a world which I call ‘Utrumpia’.

THE MEDIA

 PLUS

Podcast by FiveThirtyEight.com on January 16, 2018

Immigration Showdown

“...even if you were to take this generous interpretation of this data on it’s own, we’re still talking about a ‘doubling’ from eight to sixteen percent, which is not necessarily something to crow about?”

THE COMMENT

Mexicans are rapists.  The crowd at the 2017 Inauguration was the largest there has ever been [period].   Hillary only won the popular vote because there were millions of votes cast illegally.  There were fine people on both sides at Charlottesville.  There was no collusion with Russia.  Trump is a very stable genius.

All politicians lie.  Actually, all humans do.  But what Donald Trump has done to elevate himself to the highest office in the USA is on a whole new level, even for politics.

He has actually created a world for himself.  One where he establishes his own parameters and premises.  I call it ‘Utrumpia’.  What you see in the opening paragraph is merely a selection of the ‘realities’ in this world.

One of the ‘best qualities’ of this mystical realm is that anything and everything about it can change, because anything and everything is defined by what Donald Trump says in his latest tweet, no matter how much it contradicts something he has stated before or, in the case of the example I’m using for this post, no matter how much the actual facts and figures prove his assertions to be wrong.

As soon as I saw the tweet on his perceived increase in support from the African-American community [courtesy of Utrumpia’s premier news network], I was hoping that the number-crunchers from Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com would take his claims to task, and in their latest podcast, they do just that.

But it’s not my intention to dig too deeply into this one issue, rather to highlight the wider one that is his overall strategy, although to call it a strategy would suggest we’re buying into his ‘stable genius’ claim…it could be more accurate to call it a ‘delusion’.

From this day forth you are going to see many references to Utrumpia on this website.  It is unfortunately a place we will have to visit quite often while its creator resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  JLP

#IANWAE