subscribe: Posts | Comments      Facebook      Email Steve

Smoke and Mirrors: Wall Street Journal consistently plays down bad news on Trump



While I loathe the Wall Street Journal and everything it stands for—which is essentially Rupert Murdoch’s anti-tax, pro-billionaire, hawkish, anti-liberal, xenophobic and often racist policies—I feel like I have to subscribe in order to see what the enemy is up to.

“The enemy”? Well, Donald Trump hates fair-minded newspapers and media outlets, like the New York Times, NBC and the Washington Post, which he calls “the enemy.” So, since I tend to agree with them, that makes me Donald Trump’s enemy. And the friend of my enemy is thus my enemy. Hence I’m entitled to call the Wall Street Journal “the enemy.”

There’s a classic Wall Street Journal trick they play to slant the daily news, and yesterday’s was it: the poster child for smoke-and-mirrors obfuscation. Granted, the WSJ doesn’t obfuscate bad Trump stories as much as does Fox “News.” I swear, the worse the news gets for this illegitimate President, the more Fox ignores it and goes to commercials. That’s how they wave shiny objects in front of their viewer-addicts (not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier), so they don’t have to suffer the knowledge of just how catastrophic this so-called “administration” is.

(I call it a “so-called” administration because, you know, that’s a riff on Trump’s “so-called Judge” remark, but I could have called it an “alternative facts” administration because—well, does anyone remember Kellyanne Conway? Long-haired blond white chick, mid-40s? Whatever happened to her?)

So here we are smack-dab in the middle of Sessionsgate, the biggest Trump-Russia scandal yet—which is saying a lot, since there have been so many—a scandal which was blared across the front pages of nearly every national newspaper in the country. But what about the Wall Street Journal? They buried it yesterday below the fold, which is the ghetto in newspaper real estate. What was their main story? “Stocks Surge as Optimism Rises.”

Now, I’m as glad as the next 401(K) owner that the market is doing well, but is that a more important story than what looks more and more like the Attorney-General’s perjury before the Senate, and the possibility of Trump’s treason? And it’s not just Sessions; he’s merely the latest “fruit from the poisoned tree” to pollute our politics from trumpland. The WSJ could have, and should have, treated this story with the importance it deserves, but no. Instead, we get a puff piece on how “optimistic” everybody’s feeling over this Trump regime.

Umm, I hate to tell the Wall Street Journal, but most Americans don’t like Trump. He has record disapproval ratings, with nearly 50% of Americans disapproving of his conduct as of March 2. As for the surging stock markets, if you look at the Dow over the last five years, it’s been on an upward trajectory; if you go even further back, to 1980, it also shows that continuous upward curve, especially since 2010, after it started to recover sharply under, yes, President Obama. So this nonsense about a “Trump boom” is a load of horse manure.

And we’re still on the front page! To really experience the WSJ’s odiousness, you have to turn to the op-ed pages. Now, there was plenty of time for the writers to churn out their pieces on Sessionsgate. The news broke last night. A good editorial writer needs no more than 30 minutes to do the job. But what do we see in yesterday’s paper? Henninger opining on the “resistance” of the Democrats, as if it were bad to be opposed to a fascist, authoritarian, wannabe dictator who is, moreover, so incompetent. There also are hit pieces on unions (Murdoch’s bête noir) and on feminism, this last, from Darya Safia, accusing “progressive women” of “never stand[ing] up for the basic rights” of women in Muslim countries.

Really? Does that comport with anything you’ve ever read about progressive women? Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote for President, gave a famous speech in 2011 at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, in which she called strongly for women’s rights in the Mideast. Among her remarks: “You can’t claim to have a democracy if half the population is silenced.”

I guess Ms. Safai, who wrote the anti-feminist screed, missed that. Talk about fake news and alternative facts! Or, let’s call it what it is, lies. Anyhow, now that Sessions has recused himself, maybe the various Congressional committees and the FBI who are investigating Trump’s ties to Putin’s Russia can finally get down to business. They had better. This thing is smelling more and more like Watergate, and Republicans are starting to get very, very nervous, even if the Wall Street Journal is pretending that everything with this catastrophic POTUS is copasetic.

When politics becomes personal: Trump and murderous white men



On the night of Wednesday, Feb. 23, a 32-year old Indian national living in Kansas City, Kansas, Srinivar Kuchibhotla, went to a bar with two young friends, to relax after a long day of work. Kuchibhotla was in this country on a work permit as an aviation engineer. He and his friends were nursing their drinks when an older white male, later identified as 51-year old Adam Purinton, began screaming at them to “get out of my country.”

He also hurled “racial slurs” at the men, and demanded to know their immigration status. The club manager asked Purinton to leave. “He stormed back a short while later, angrier than before, armed and animated…before spraying the men with bullets.” Srinivas died almost instantly. The other two men were injured.

We aren’t sure at this point if Purinton was a fan of Trump, but what we can say conclusively is that Trump has long been the mouthpiece for a growing anti-immigrant movement in America (which is really an anti-people of color movement). It’s hard to compare injustices, but people perceived to be of Middle Eastern descent probably have it harder these days than those who look like they’re from Latino countries, especially Mexico. Certainly there is a “type” of white American who takes his own insecurities out on these minority groups and occasionally lashes out at them with violence, as did Purinton, who exemplifies the type. It is a type aided and abetted by Donald Trump and the rightwing media he listens to, including Breitbart.

Donald Trump is very good at finding victims of illegal immigrant criminals and holding them up before the cameras in order to defend his various Muslim and Mexican bans. Indeed, his guests at Tuesday’s speech before the Congress included three people allegedly killed by undocumented immigrants.

Yet until Tuesday’s address Trump said nothing about Srinivar’s murder; finally, he referred to “last week’s shooting in Kansas City,” although it seemed to be like pulling teeth to get him to condemn a murder than was not committed by a “radical Islamic terrorist” but rather a fellow white man. Trump’s speech to the Joint Session of Congress was said by many to be “optimistic” and even conciliatory. On CNN, Wolf Blitzer called it “presidential.” I’m not buying it. After the most disastrous rollout of a Presidency in U.S. history (IMHO), somebody must have sat Trump down and told him point-blank that he was tearing the country apart and that civil unrest isn’t far away. Trump, who sees himself, preposterously, as the reincarnation of Reagan, doesn’t like hearing anything negative about himself; and indeed, his powers of blind refusal to recognize reality are infamous. Who persuaded him to be a kinder, gentler Trump? Maybe Ivanka and Jared, joined by Melania. Certainly it wouldn’t have been Bannon; and nobody cares about Kellyanne anymore. So Trump goes out and pretends to be something he never has been, isn’t, and never will be: a calm, benign, unifying presence. Politically, it was the smart thing to do: there are always some swing voters who will fall for this kind of stunt.

In the 1920s and early 1930s, before Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, he renounced violent revolution as a means of seizing power in favor of legal, electoral means: thus he was dubbed “Adolf Legalité” by pundits. This was a kinder, gentler, less scary Hitler; indeed, it helped make him acceptable to the middle classes and the business interests that funded him. But it was all an act. Hitler never changed the basic programme of violence and revenge he outlined in Mein Kampf; he simply and temporarily camouflaged it.

This Trump we saw last night is a fraud. The Resistance cannot and will not accept him as a legitimate President. Not after what he’s done for the last six years: the lies, the bullying, the disrespect for President Obama, the tarnishing of our political and moral values, the insults, the hostility, the cynicism, the vulgarity, the corruption, the trashing of truth, the utter incapacity to feel empathy, the appeals to the lowest, scurviest and most vile impulses of the basket of deplorables.

At this point, it’s not even about the politics. Trump could support the 2016 Democratic platform and we still would not accept this deviant poseur. Politics has become personal, because Trump has made it so. Nothing he says or does can make up for the deficiencies in his character that have hurt and angered so many of us Americans. He has caused wounds in the body politic that will take a generation to heal. He is the political equivalent of a domestic abuser, promising not to hit us again. He lies.

Janet Nguyen was wrong and deserved to be removed



The Republican state Senator from California, Janet Nguyen, has gotten a tremendous amount of media coverage in the last few days, the result of being ordered to end her speech vilifying the late Tom Hayden on the floor of the California Senate.

Most of the coverage has been in her favor and against the Democrats, specifically the man who silenced her, the Democratic presiding Senator, Ricardo Lara. Rightwing publications, such as the San Diego Union-Tribune, blasted Lara. This isn’t how democracy works. Shame on Lara…for suppressing Nguyen’s voice,” they editorialized.  Even the New York Times said Lara’s move “backfired,” and became “a rallying cry” among the right.

I have read Sen. Nguyen’s remarks, and after doing so I agree with Sen. Lara’s decision to ask her to stop. She was totally out of line. Let’s consider a few things. First of all, Tom Hayden—himself a former California state Senator—is dead. He died last October. The state Senate earlier last week held a memorial service to honor his long career of political activism and electoral service (for eighteen years, in both the California Assembly and the Senate). The Senate chose to honor him on Feb. 21 with speakers and an Irish bagpiper, in a somber ceremony attended by his widow and one of his sons. That is certainly the Senate’s right and was a very proper thing to do.

Thus, it was rude and mean for Nguyen to pillory Hayden, live, on the floor of the Senate to which he devoted so many years of his life. She went into  fevered rant: Hayden “sided with a Communist government,” his actions were “harmful to democratic values” and were “hateful,” he “supported a communist agenda” and was “profoundly wrong.”

You can look at the Vietnam War any way you want to. You can see Hayden as right or wrong. But what can’t be disputed, I believe, is how inappropriate it was for Nguyen to make her remarks on the morrow of Hayden’s memorial service. How would you like it if your church or synagogue had a memorial service for a beloved family member of yours, and then a few days later somebody else stood in the pulpit and attacked that person’s values and character? You’d be royally pissed, as well you should be.

Now Nguyen has become a hero of the right, which may well have been her purpose. Just days after her speech, she took “a star turn” at a Republican convention, where people wore “I stand with Janet” stickers and there was much speculation about her political future.

Had I been Sen. Lara, I would have been as upset as he was, and done the same thing. Maybe it was an unforced error. This is politics, after all; you never want to hand your opponents a cudgel. Still, Nguyen was incredibly and, I suspect, intentionally insensitive and insulting to Hayden’s memory and to his family. She could have made her remarks elsewhere, as an op-ed piece in a rightwing newspaper or as a press release, or in a town hall with her constituents (if she’s not afraid to meet with them, as so many Republicans are). Instead, she chose this provocation. To bring her vituperation to the Senate floor, so soon after a dead man had been eulogized, was shameful and wrong. Nguyen, who had been asked in advance not to do what she did and ignored that polite request, deserved to be shut up.

In a Swing District, Issa Feels the Heat, and Sees the Light


Darrell Issa is a really nasty Republican congressman from California’s 49th district, down in oh, so conservative Orange County, home to lots of retired military types. He’s a hatchet man who abuses his power to go after Democrats just for the hell of it. He bankrolled the recall of Gov. Gray Davis, and is also said to be the richest person in the Congress because he invented that noisy car alarm, the Viper–hey, has it ever awoken you at night? Later, as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, he was the inquisitor-in-chief of Hillary Clinton, a relentless Torquemada, who pursued, in the most vengeful way, her non-existent “crimes,” most notoriously Benghazi. In the most hyperbolic language imaginable, he called her “a criminal involved in a criminal enterprise.”

Never mind that Hillary was never found by a single investigative body to have done anything wrong—not Issa’s witch-hunting Oversight Committee, not the Federal Bureau of Investigation, not the State Department, and not the House Government Reform Committee, or the Judiciary Committee, or the Foreign Affairs Committee, or the Armed Services Committee, or the Intelligence Committee, or any of the Senate committees that investigated her—yes, they all had hearings. Not that it mattered to the “jail her” wackos.

Issa hated Hillary, he hated Obama, and he was ambitious as hell, making him the poster boy of the conspiratorialist, angry white male wing of the Republican Party.

(By the way, do you know whom Issa made that “Hillary is a criminal in a criminal enterprise” crack to? None other Stephen K. Bannon, when the latter was a right wing talk show ranter at Breitbart.)

Well, the other day, Issa’s Republican constituents invited him to a town hall which, predictably, he was afraid to attend. So they held one anyway. Earlier that same day, however, Issa could not avoid encountering a smaller crowd, described in a local newspaper, the OC Weekly, as “about 75 Trump enthusiasts.” Do you suppose these pro-Trumpers were shouting their approval of the new President? Hardly. A huge crowd reaction burst out in response to this question: ‘When are you going to investigate Trump and Russia? Trump and taxes?’” That was what was reported in the paper. In addition, I heard on T.V. a man ask Issa a very telling question. “You spent millions on Benghazi,” the angry man yelled. “How about spending something on investigating Trump’s ties to Russia?”

Rep. Issa did not deign to reply to the Republicans who voted for him. But, within 48 hours, a most interesting thing occurred: Issa called for the appointment of a special Federal prosecutor to investigate Trump’s ties to Putin and Russia.

Not only did Issa make that demand, he went a step further and directly implied that Trump’s Attorney-General is unfit to lead such a probe. “You cannot have somebody, a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and is an appointee” lead it.

What are we to make of this sudden turnaround? After all, Issa goes after Democrats, not his fellow Republicans. Well, to answer that, you need look no further than the 2016 election results, in which Issa was re-elected by the narrowest of margins, squeaking out a 50.3% to 49.7% victory. In this volatile political atmosphere, Democrats earlier this month announced a concerted effort to retire Issa next year, using an “unprecedented DCCC investment” in his district that will be used to hire “full-time, local organizers…to work with constituents.”

Issa is feeling the heat. Although he’s no longer chair of the House Oversight Committee, he’s still a member of the Judiciary Committee, which perhaps not so coincidentally is in charge of the impeachment of Federal officials, including the President. We don’t know what, if anything, went on between Trump, his people and Putin and his people. But until and unless there’s a fair and unfettered investigation into the matter, we’ll have to assume the worst. It’s why more and more people are thinking that the reason Trump is waging war on the press is because he’s trying to inoculate himself when the New York Times and CNN report the  truth. Meanwhile, Trump, through Sean Spicer, is pushing back against the idea of a special prosecutor. “For what?” Spicer asked yesterday. “For what?” Because this President may have committed impeachable offenses.

The Resistance accepts Bannon’s declaration of war



The white supremacist Bannon threw down the gantlet the other day to the “opposition party,” which—if he recalls correctly—won the popular vote by a whopping 3 million, making Trump in many respects an illegitimate President.

Bannon, who just last Fall declared his publication, Breitbart, “the platform for the alt.right” with its anti-Semites, homophobes, racists and conspiracy theorists, had trouble separating “the media”—by which he means media critical of his leader, not toadies like Fox “News”—from those of us who are opposed to the current regime. “It’s going to be a fight,” he promised, with regard to his regime’s relations with us. “It’s going to get worse,” as if it could, after this shockingly incompetent rollout. Then he declared, with Hitlerian fury, “If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken.”

I could almost picture him spewing saliva and slamming his fist into the table.

Speaking for The Resistance, I’m honored to accept Bannon’s challenge. We did not ask for this war, but we gladly, proudly accept it. We fight for our country: its traditional values of openness, honesty, fairness, decency, truth. We fight for the slogan on the Statue of Liberty, we fight for the oppressed and downtrodden who often cannot fight for themselves. We fight for women and their right to control their own bodies. We fight for the LGBT community and the right of transgendered youth to use whatever public bathroom they want. We fight for Mexican immigrants and the humane treatment of their families, even if they’re undocumented. We fight for the environment: our air, our waters, our forests and prairies, and for the critters who lived on this land before we did. We fight for truth—that species that has been put on the endangered list by this pathologically mendacious President. We fight for the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

We fight against the racism Trump revealed during his years of lying about President Obama’s birthplace. We fight against his smearing of Muslims, in a thinly-disguised attempt to rally the most xenophobic white elements of our society. We fight against his embrace of a theocratic, anti-democratic religious sect, militant Christianity, and all the dangers it poses. We fight for scientific inquiry, and against ignorance and superstition. We fight against this regime cutting taxes on the richest among us, including the billionaires he promised to “drain the swamp” of, but who now run his Cabinet. We fight against the “deconstruction” of our foreign policy and the needless antagonism Trump has engendered among friends like Mexico, Canada, Sweden, Great Britain, France and Australia–who’s next? We fight against the secret ties, bordering on treason, between Trump and Putin. We fight against this President’s evident tendency—so common among chicken hawk Republican white men—to instigate overseas wars that will butcher more American kids. We fight against his absurd wall, which will further drain the Treasury of tens of billions of dollars and will accomplish precisely nothing, except to insult Mexicans.

We can work with this President in certain areas, particularly the infrastructure. Repairing our roads, bridges, tunnels, sewer systems, subways and dams is a very Democratic thing to do, which is why we are skeptical at this point that the tea party Congress will vote to fund such a big program. Should such a bill be proposed, Trump can count on the support of Democrats. But I’m not holding my breath that Trump will follow through.

Meanwhile, Steve Bannon, challenge accepted! Bring it on! You rally your folks and we’ll rally ours. We’re ready to roll. Your Congressmen are encountering us wherever they go, in town halls, in the streets, in the hallways of the Capitol, through email. You, Bannon, and your basket of deplorables, and above all your President—not mine—have done something Democrats were unable to do this last cycle: Unite us. And, as the old civil rights saying goes, The People United Will Never Be Defeated!

« Previous Entries Next Entries »

Recent Comments

Recent Posts