Trump calls for national discussion of ‘Fake News’ – would that include his beloved Breitbart and Fox?

THE ISSUE

THE MEDIA

Video by The Young Turks on Sunday, December 10, 2017

THE COMMENT

There are many different ways the President annoys me [‘believe me’] but this issue involves two of the leading ones – his downright hypocrisy coupled with his labelling any media reporting he doesn’t like as ‘Fake News’.

On Saturday Trump called for Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel to be fired because he incorrectly tweeted a photo showing the crowd at the President’s latest rally in Florida, suggesting that there wasn’t much of a crowd.  It turned out the picture was taken before the rally began, but even though the reporter merely tweeted rather than filed an article, apparently it should cost him his job.

This is hypocrisy on its own, for as we all know that if firing is the standard punishment for a ‘Fake News’ tweet, then President Mike Pence should be in the White House now after Trump shared three phony anti-immigrant videos not so long ago.

But there’s more…with the crucial Alabama Senate election taking place tomorrow, one of Republican candidate Roy Moore’s accusers recently admitted to writing part of the inscription on her high school yearbook – the Young Turks give a very good account of how it got spun by the likes of Breitbart and Fox News.

No doubt the White House will claim the tweet at the top of this article covers all media outlet but everyone knows that it’s one rule for the right-wing sources and one for everyone else.

#IANWAE

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Trump’s #Charlottesville reaction highlights the need to stop using ‘left’ and ‘right’ to describe political spectrum

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”

Before I start on the theme of this article, have you ever seen a US president more obsessed with his predecessor?  It has gotten to a stage where he just throws his name into his statements without any real context.

Anyway…you have no doubt read volumes on what happened in Charlottesville and it is not my wish to delve too much further into the horrific events, at least not here.

What I want to point out is something I feel is crucial for the progressive platform to gain more followers, and it is a very simple one.

Rumour has it that human civilisation once believed premises like the earth being the centre of the universe, or at other times that it was a flat plain as opposed to a spherical planet.  Maybe such misconceptions don’t effect people’s everyday life, but then again it’s hard to have a philosophical grasp on existence when you don’t even have the fundamentals correct.

So what I’d like to challenge is the way we label political ideologies as ‘left’ and ‘right’, because it suggests some kind of balance between the two.  On the most basic level, what we call the left represents a society that is fair to everyone while the right does not.

But to properly understand where the conflict comes from you first must appreciate how it started.  Whether you believe in evolution or creation, there must have existed a time when the human race had no elitism.  Then as it became clear that certain resources were more valuable than others, some people took control of them and were selective about those with whom they were shared.

Over time those who had control over the resources got better and better at holding on to that power.  Countries with tyrannical leaders simply run roughshod over their opposition, while those which claim to be democracies use a variety of tools to make sure elections go the way of the ruling classes.

Donald Trump became president on the back of one of these tools, ie supporting a specific group of voters he felt could help get him elected; in this case middle to lower class white men who felt that the civil rights movement had somehow discriminated against them.

Because this movement provided votes for the Republican party, it is considered to be on the ‘right’.  And because the obvious racist and fascist leanings of this movement, it has become fashionable to label them as ‘alt-right’.  Even with this distinction though, the fact that it is called any kind of ‘right’ seems to lend it equal status to whatever is called the ‘left’.

As the mainstream media fully supports the left-right paradigm, the President can claim, however wrongly, that he is being fair to ‘all sides’.

What we who have been shoved on the ‘left’ of this pseudo-spectrum must do is renounce it.  A society that purports to be fair to all citizens is not half the argument.  It is the only one.   Of course we won’t all agree on how it is to be achieved, but given we believe in fairness, chances are the discussions are going to be devoid of such words as ‘fire and fury’.

Anyone who feels they have to ‘tone down’ their views to somehow ‘be fair’ and ‘not exclude the conservative opinion’ is basically validating the very argument that conservatives want.

The white men who marched on Charlottesville are bigots.  Nothing they feel was ‘taken from them’ was really theirs in the first place.  To offer them any sense of legitimacy is not being fair, it’s not being balanced.  It is turning back the clock on American society to a time when the ruling classes needed only the crudest, most basic tools to hold on to power, as opposed to the more intricate ones they use today.

Progressives need to stop allowing themselves to be defined by a scale that doesn’t really exist.

#IANWAE

 

 

Corporate Dems vow to do things ‘better’ – let’s hope that includes listening

Whatever you might think about Donald Trump and his administration, their tenure in the White House, a shade over six months old now, has been a rollercoaster ride with something new to report each and every passing day.

The biggest drawback to this obsession with the latest Washington shenanigans is, of course, the fact that although Trump & co might provide us with easy one-liners and online memes, there is also a very serious side to the story in that we are talking about the government of the most powerful nation in the world.

It’s all very well to ridicule the man in power right now – but it’s pointless unless you can suggest a reasonable alternative.

That alternative is the broad tent that is the Democratic Party, and the 2016 campaign in particular has divided it into two distinct factions….the “corporate wing”, essentially those in the most senior positions in Washington right now, and the “progressive wing”, ie those who follow the social equity platform of the likes of Bernie Sanders.

Here is a recent quote from the Washington Post to ponder…see if you can guess which side of the Democratic tent it came from…

“When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don’t blame other things — Comey, Russia — you blame yourself. So what did we do wrong? People didn’t know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that.”

Obviously I want you to think that’s a Progressive, when in actual fact it’s one of the most senior corporate Democrats, Minority leader of the Senate Chuck Schumer.

Ever since the election, Schumer and his counterpart in the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi have been as much under attack  from their left as from their right, probably more so.  And most of it was deserved.

But there has to be a point at which even progressives realise that the Schumers and Pelosis still represent the front line of the resistance to the current terrifying incarnation of the Republican Party, and once and a while they need to be given a bit of slack, especially when they are making noises that sound like they come straight out of the Bernie Sanders playbook.

I’m not one to give the Democrat leadership too much praise – the best thing that be said about the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is that at least their corporate policies aren’t as bad as their opposition.  What I would rather do is change the narrative – it’s not about how much or little we appease the wishes of the “one percent”, rather it’s about formulating policies that are fair to everyone whether it benefits the rich or not.

To promote this mindset I fully understand the need to hold big-donor politicians to account no matter what their stripes.  But what do we do when they start using slogans that reflect our agenda?

“A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future”

Of course it’s natural to be sceptical when they start to look as though they’re drinking the Bernie KoolAid.  But care must be taken to ensure healthy scepticism doesn’t morph into petulant rejection.

For now anyway, I am willing to give the likes of Schumer a chance.  After all, it can’t have been easy to keep 48 Democratic senators united against Trumpcare – you can be sure one or two of the “Blue Dogs” (more right-leaning Democrats) were courted by the GOP and none have budged.

If the Democrats really want to adopt progressive values to their platform – remember they did at their convention last year only many feared it was empty promises on paper – they need to be supported, voted for, and put under pressure when there are any signs of them failing to deliver.

After all, that’sq what being a ‘Democrat’, with a large or small d, is meant to entail.  JLP

#IANWAE

The US news cycle in the Trump era

It’s all about the “news cycle” these days.

And it has gotten to a point whereby we are almost afraid to mention the “wrong thing” at the water cooler lest we be, at best, left behind by a conversation, and at worst, accused of being irrelevant.

Here in Ireland, there only seems to be one topic on the go on any given day and that is determined by what gets covered by RTÉ.  One thing I will say about the US…at least there is enough room for something resembling a battle over what people consider to be political priorities.

According to the corporate Democrats, it’s all about whether or not Trump & his cohorts were in collusion with the Russians.

According to the Republicans, it’s all about pushing their pro-big business agenda, while at the same time making small anti-Trump noises once in a while in case he brings them with him if/when he goes down.

According to Trump, it’s all about him, and anything he doesn’t like is merely “fake news”.

According to the mainstream media, it’s all about either taking a Democrat or Republican position or desperately trying to be “fair” ie finding a position somewhere in between them.

According to the Alt Right online media, it’s all about trying to trying to bend the news cycle towards the conservative viewpoint by any means necessary.

According to the more progressive online media, it’s all about deconstructing all of the above, taking breaks every so often to get us to buy razors through the post.

And last but certainly not least, you have Bernie Sanders.  Whether you agree with his politics or not, you can’t deny that when he goes to the media, be it mainstream or social, it’s all about the issues.  No scandal, no smoke and mirrors, no dog whistling, just the issues, with facts to support his argument.

Like this on his Facebook page from yesterday…

Trump is trying to cut $191 billion from the food stamps program, our nation’s most critical anti-hunger program. All over this country we have millions of kids struggling with hunger. Trump is telling them: sorry, we need to put that money into our military, when we already spend more on defense than the next 12 countries combined. This pathetic budget will be rejected by the American people.

We could all do with being more like Bernie when it comes to discussing government.

#IANWAE

Is what should be a “Trump Bump” at the polls already more like a “Trump Slump”?

On Tuesday, the Amercian people had their first chance to tell Donald Trump in a meaningful way what they thought of his overall performance so far.

He had appointed as director of the CIA Mike Pompeo, who had been a Republican member of the House of Repreasentives from the 4th district of the state of Kansas, and thus there needed to be a special election to fill his seat.

I’ll let the Kansas City Star tell you more

Pompeo, a Republican who won by 31 percentage points in November, gave up his seat in the 4th Congressional District in January to serve as Trump’s director of the CIA.

GOP strategists warned in recent days that Democrat James Thompson, a civil rights attorney, was in striking distance against Estes, Kansas state treasurer from Wichita…

Trump made a personal push for Estes on his Twitter account Tuesday morning.

“Ron Estes is running TODAY for Congress in the Great State of Kansas,” Trump tweeted. “A wonderful guy, I need his help on Healthcare & Tax Cuts (Reform).”

In the end, Estes prevailed with 53 percent to Thompson’s 45 percent.

The fact that Trump got involved so late in the race (Pence did too…between them they did some “robo-calling) shows how worried the GOP was.  And for a district that is so strongly Republican (Brits would call it a “safe seat”) to see a majority drop from 31 points to just 8 in the space of 5 months shows the fears were justified.

Many people ask me if there’s any point in bringing attention to all the crazy things that have happened in this administration…will there actually be any consequences?

Well if we’re hoping for impeachment then it’s only results like this that will help bring it about.  The Republicans currently control both the House and the Senate – the chances of either one flipping to the Democrats before the mid-terms in November 2018 are very slim.

BUT if enough results like this one in Kansas keep happening, there’s every chance a group of Republicans fearful of losing their own seats will see the benefit of speaking out against the sitting president.  And next week, there’s another special election which the Democrats might just win.

Tom Price was promoted from representing Georgia’s 6th district to being Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services despite numerous allegations of using his congressional office to personally profit from changes in legislation.  You may remember Price for standing beside the President as the Democrats were being blamed for the failure of Trumpcare.  Now his seat needs filling and the Democrats are confident they can overturn a 23-point deficit from last November.

Believe it or not, I’m not 100% excited by the prospect of the Democrats doing well right now.  Sure, anything that hurts Trump & the GOP is overall a good thing, but despite their having this much power, the Dems have done precious little to address their own failures in recent times.

It remains to be seen what changes will be made by new party chair Tom Perez but if more of these early special elections go his party’s way, he could be tempted to “sit tight” and do nothing, hoping the Repubicans implode so he won’t have to go the more “radical” (a word the MSM would probably use, I’d use “sensible”) route of giving more seats at the top table to the ever-growing Progressive wing.

We will still be following the events from “Georgia 6th” next week with much interest though.

#IANWAE

 

And so #Trumpcare is born…let’s be sure and call it that

“Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated”

Of course the President was referring to the “royal nobody” when he made that incredible statement!

What say we at least agree with him, since we all know it to be true.  My knowledge of a healthcare system is even more limited than his.

However, that does not mean I can’t have an opinion on the general aims of a health service.  And mine is that it our government should do all it can to ensure that it is accessible to all citizens.

When it comes to the nitty gritty of the new plan, I’m happy to let sources like Time magazine break  it down for me, like in this article titled “5 Things to Know Now About the GOP’s Obamacare Replacement Plan” :

The bill drastically cuts tax credits for the oldest and poorest Americans, while giving the upper class a major tax break. It also rolls back the Medicaid expansion and nixes the individual mandate, which requires everyone to buy health insurance. Crucially, it has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, so overall impacts are tough to gauge at this early point.

But even before we delve too deeply into all of that, can we make sure one thing happens.  We need to stop referring to this as an “Obamacare replacement”.

Both Donald Trump personally and the Republicans generally have done nothing but attack The Affordable Care Act since its inception.  In fact, they were responsible for some of the tweaks to the original legislation that brought about it’s current flaws.

Now, after six years of whinging and moaning and calling it a ‘disaster’, they have to be given ownership of this new plan.  And I don’t even think the GOP Congressfolk will have too many problems with my suggestion of a new name : #Trumpcare.

(note – I’m not saying I’m the first to think of it, I’m merely suggesting we all start using it!)

Let me be clear…I WANT it to work!!!  The only thing is…my definition of “work” doesn’t mean sustained or increased profits for insurance and pharmaceutical companies, rather it means, like I said previously, affordable care for as many citizens as possible.

But as we assess whether or not it will work, let us at least be sure to call it something that signifies who now owns it.