Tag Archives: CNN

Trump Guilty of Impersonating a President

According to a law passed in 1948, it is a federal crime to impersonate a federal officer. Title 18 of the U.S. Code, section 912 provides:

Whoever falsely assumes or pretends to be an officer or employee acting under the authority of the United States or any department, agency or officer thereof, and acts as such, or in such pretended character demands or obtains any money, paper, document, or thing of value, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

In the case of Donald Trump, I vote for “both.” Any relationship between Donald Trump and an actual president of the United States is both purely coincidental and fictitious. He was elected with the help of a hostile foreign power and lost the popular vote. I understand that he and the White House Press Secretary continue to claim he won the popular vote but that assertion, as with so many others, is blatantly and demonstrably false. We have a serial liar for president.

The latest example of Trump’s grossly inappropriate conduct is his visit to Pittsburgh that was resisted by most of the responsible, and respectful, people there. It wasn’t that they all opposed his visit. They just didn’t want the distraction while they were grieving and planning the prompt burials required by the Jewish faith.

Trump, however, could care less about the latest victims of AR-15 enabled mass violence. His visit was a political gesture that, like so many others, was designed to suit his political base and has nothing to do with respect for the dead, for Jewish people or anything other than self-interest and maintenance of political power. If it were otherwise, Trump would have respected the request of local officials and families of the dead to come at another time. His political calculation is that this is the best time. Otherwise, according to the White House, the visit might have interfered with Trump’s planned election rallies for the mid-term elections. Always first-things-first at the Trump White House.

I actually expect that Trump is quite happy that the Pittsburgh visit has stirred yet another hornet’s nest of turmoil. Trump’s political strategy is to dominate the news regardless of the circumstances and regardless of who may be affected. It’s part of his deflection strategy that often works because the news media, the people he claims to hate because they criticize him, hang on his every word and his every move. Jake Tapper just stated on CNN that Trump came with the “best of intentions.” How Tapper knows that will remain a mystery. Why he felt it was appropriate to say it is beyond my understanding as well. It is just one example of the media fawning on the man that responds to them with the charge that they are the “enemy of the people.” Someday, historians will explore the devil’s bargain the media have made with Trump: “kick me again, I love the pain and the attention.”

Look at it this way. The school yard bully beats up a different kid every day for six months. Then, as the school year ends, he gives some candy to one of his victims. Should everyone conclude from this one act of generosity amidst dozens of acts of evil that the bully had good intentions and was “doing the right thing?” I rest my case.

Maybe the media should try another approach – like ignoring what Trump says and does once in a while. CNN, for example, will apparently spend the entire day and evening rehashing and rehashing Trump’s visit to Pittsburgh. Surely there is more news to report than this. Nothing new is emerging. The same people are interviewed repeatedly and asked the same questions and make the same remarks. Many local officials are obviously reluctant to question the president’s motives publicly. Why?  Because they know he’s a bully and could turn on them in a heartbeat with vicious tweets and humiliating statements at his “rallies.” How about the media tries depriving Trump of the constant free national and worldwide publicity he seeks and see how he likes it? Fox News will always be there for him, making stuff up and promoting his far-right authoritarian agenda.

The so-called mainstream media have, I suggest, aided the “normalization” of Trump’s behavior to such an extent that many of his outrageous lies get little or no pushback, further enhancing the fantastical beliefs of his sycophants that he speaks the truth. The mid-term elections may well be the last chance the United States has to re-establish some balance of power in the government, rebuilding the system of checks and balances that the Framers of the Constitution assumed would always exist. They were wrong. Having all three branches of the federal government in the hands of one political party headed by an authoritarian bully has been catastrophic for American democratic institutions. One need look no further than the voter suppression activities being pursued by the Republican Party around the country in an effort to steal another election from the people. If you agree with me about this, it is imperative that you vote, no matter where you live. And take some other people with you. Don’t let the apathy of others undermine your rights as an American. November 6. Do it.

No Führer in America

Donald Trump, the illegitimate president of the United States, hasn’t brought up the idea of a master race yet, but it seems likely that it’s only a matter of time. The concept is already implicit in his views on immigration and citizenship. How long will it be before it gives up that ridiculous thumbs up routine of his and demands some form of salute from everyone? Meanwhile, he continues his deflection strategy as the mid-term elections draw near.

Trump has ordered more than 5,000 American troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to, presumably, confront the “caravan” of refugees and asylum seekers moving slowly through Mexico toward the United States. He has claimed, with the usual lack of evidence or truth, that the group has been seeded with Middle Eastern terrorists.

So, what do we expect to come of this?  Will the troops be ordered to fire on the refugees? Is this going to be another Kent State to a higher power with mass casualties? Will Trump’s racist base support a massacre of unarmed people fleeing oppression? Will the troops follow an order to fire on unarmed immigrants for trying to cross the border illegally? Or bayonet them? Beat them into submission? He will stop at nothing to get what he wants. What could possibly go wrong?

Maybe this incident, if it turns violent, will be the Trumpian equivalent of the Reichstag fire that gave Hitler the excuse he wanted (blaming the attack on the communists) to begin the final takeover of Germany by the Nazi Party. As reported by Wikipedia, “The term Reichstag fire has come to refer to false flag actions perpetrated or facilitated by an authority to promote their own interests through popular approval of retribution or retraction of civil rights.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichstag_fire That’s close enough.

Trump no doubt loves the idea of ordering the Army around but he is not, and never will be, the American version of the Führer. One of those in history was one too many. But he is playing with fire, literally, in ordering troops to the border. Will the troops cross the border, entering under arms a foreign country’s territory? If so, Trump will, in keeping with his usual approach, blame the outcome on the members of the caravan. “If they hadn’t threatened to cross our border, we would not have had to invade Mexico and shoot them!”

In a related vein, and also connected to the imminent mid-term elections, Trump has announced that he has received advice that he can, by executive order, nullify the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Almost all authentic legal commentators believe that idea is ridiculous. Here is the relevant text:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [emphasis added]

The idea that Trump can change the meaning of the 14th Amendment is indeed ridiculous. Even a few Republicans think so. That doesn’t mean he won’t try. He knows he’ll be challenged in the courts, which is fine with him. Being challenged in court will give Trump yet another pretext for accusing the court system of bias against him, giving his political base yet another reason to feel oppressed by the “system.”

Rick Santorum was on television last night, playing the role of the loyal Republican mouthpiece, blathering and blaming the divisiveness surrounding Trump’s Pittsburgh incursion on the local people in Pittsburgh rather than Trump’s typically insensitive decision to visit when he was told it was too soon and he was not welcome. Some of CNN’s pundits are falling all over themselves to justify Trump’s decision, arguing that Trump is actually trying to engage in healing actions rather than taking political advantage of the national focus on the Pittsburgh situation.

It is beyond remarkable that these same pundits who routinely question Trump’s divisive comments about race now wipe out that record in an effort to attribute sincerity to his visit. Trump is an insensitive, self-interested bully and nothing he does in one moment can wipe out his racism, misogyny and hate-filled agenda that he pursues at every other opportunity. It comes with ill grace every time the press says “oh, look, Trump is acting like a human being.” It’s not only rare but it’s utterly false.

Trump’s proposal to override the Constitution by executive order reflects a total lack of understanding of the Constitution but, more fundamentally, total indifference to its meaning. Trump will do whatever he thinks will win him political points with his hard-core base of supporters who apparently have also not been schooled in the fundamentals of the Constitution they claim to revere. Trump has violated his oath of office multiple times and this would be just another one. He’ll lose in court and use that to proclaim himself and his supporters as victims. And his base will buy it.

It’s time for Trump to go.  Time to say goodbye. But first there is an election. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, “you’ll have a republic if you can keep it.” People of good will must vote for Democrats or we will lose the republic. History teaches that once democracy fails, it is nearly impossible to restore. Let’s not fail. Take your family and friends to the polls and vote.

 

Some Advice for CNN

Ah, the ironies. CNN helped make Donald Trump’s candidacy by broadcasting every minute of everything he said or did during the campaign, including having Trump’s campaign shills as constant participants on “panels of political experts” to discuss endlessly every detail of Trump’s behavior. CNN became, in effect, the carnival barkers for the Trump sideshow.

Now, Trump is President-Elect and he is demonstrating that he is exactly the same person and personality that was kept in the public eye by CNN during the campaign. This should come as no surprise. Now he no longer needs to “make nice” and so he refused, in his first press conference in seven months to let the CNN reporter in attendance ask a question. He accused CNN of being “fake news” and indicated, yet again, that he will brook no unwelcome questioning of himself from the press, no matter how prominent.

Then CNN gave another opportunity for KellyAnne Conway, Trump’s shill-in-chief, to bumble and fumble her way through more demonstrably false accusations about the way CNN reported the latest Trump “news.” The CNN team, led by Anderson Cooper, a day later still trying to find a way to do its job, showed how stung they were by the Trump rejection and the Trump/Conway claims that CNN reported something that it demonstrably did not report.

Helpfully, Carl Bernstein, one of the contributors to the CNN reports and who knows a thing or two about reporting and politics, defined “reporting” as the “best available version of the truth.”

Here, then, is some advice for CNN about how it can develop a more constructive relationship with the soon-to-be President and his team of fact-deniers:

  1. Just report the damn news! You know, what happened today that is of interest to the American people?
  1. Eliminate the endless panels of “experts” arguing endlessly over every statement that Trump makes. Just report what he says, what others say, what happens (with as much verification as possible) and let the viewers/readers decide without having to listen to Trump shills like Jeffrey Lord and Conway re-write and re-interpret what Trump said into gibberish. Continuing what you have been doing adds credence to the Trump mode of operation and helps raise doubts about the accuracy and legitimacy of your own reporting. If you’re going to continue to claim that CNN is about journalism, then just report the news as truthfully and accurately as possible and move on. Let the Trump machine finds its own outlets (it will always have Fox and Breitbart) to make its case.
  1. For guidance, review some of the tapes of Walter Cronkite and Eric Sevareid of CBS News in the 1960s. If you want to add interpretation and analysis to the facts, have your “experts” appear alone to state what they believe. Make them own the analysis.

That’s it. Do yourselves and America a favor and remove yourselves as the one of the “usual suspects” Trump wants to paint with a bias brush. Report the news!

YET ANOTHER DOUBLE STANDARD IN THE 2016 ELECTION

Having watched yet another CNN display of breathless reporting of Hillary Clinton’s health episode, I am constrained to note the existence of another double standard at work in the 2016 presidential election. Wolf Blitzer spent many minutes haranguing New York Mayor Bill di Blasio about whether the illness should not have been publicly disclosed two days ago when first diagnosed and whether she must now make more detailed disclosures about her health. CNN played the video of Clinton stumbling into the SUV that was to take her away from the 9/11 memorial ceremony when she fell ill. And played it. And played it. Over and over again.

Yes, there was mention of the fact, yes fact, that the only health information disclosed by Donald Trump was a ludicrous letter from his gastroenterologist declaring Trump to be the most fit candidate in history. But the “story” was Clinton’s health and the implication was that she had withheld vital information from the public and might be suffering a devastating disability. CNN’s video feed to Yahoo.com earlier in the day included the SUV stumble video under a heading similar to “See Clinton Falter.”  Today’s early feed runs an opinion/reporting (it’s hard to tell) piece entitled “The no-transparency election” which appears to equate the disclosure positions of the two candidates.

The Clinton story on live CNN television was embellished by yet another “panel of political experts,” all familiar CNN faces, whose main interest seemed to be that Trump’s vice presidential partner, Mike Pence, had stated that all presidential candidates should disclose their tax returns and health records and therefore isn’t Mike Pence just the best supporter of his candidate Trump? That Mike Pence, boy, he’s better at supporting Trump than Trump is. What a guy!

Wow and Wow. To be clear, I believe it was a mistake for Clinton to fail to disclose the pneumonia diagnosis when it was made. Blame her staff for that one. Or blame her if you like. It was also a mistake to place her in a position where her medical condition could be photographed in such an awkward way. That one belongs to her staff.

But on the merits, the double standard at work here is that Hillary Clinton has already released a large trove of medical records and many years’ worth of tax returns, while her opponent has relied on an intestinal specialist to address his health in a useless and summary way and has used trivial and nonsensical excuses for refusing to disclose his tax returns. If there is real “news” in this, it should be about what Trump is hiding. CNN should be running a countdown clock or something similar, showing the number of days that Trump has refused to provide meaningful information about either subject. Why is CNN not reporting this important issue every day?

The CNN treatment of Ms. Clinton effectively punishes her for providing more disclosure than her opponent, whose intransigence is remarked upon mostly in passing. Future candidates may take note of this and follow Trump’s lead by refusing full disclosure. The longer he gets away with this outrage, the greater the precedent for future candidates who, like Trump, have something to hide. This issue goes beyond Trump’s likely false claims about his massive personal charitable giving, which is important as regards his credibility. Trump’s worldwide business holdings raise a unique question of how he would separate himself from those interests if he were elected President of the United States. With less than two months left before the election, is it not time that the press, in addition to fulminating over Ms. Clinton’s temperature, began seriously demanding answers to that critical question? Will the media pursue this in the upcoming debates or continue to badger Clinton about the emails and Benghazi, about which she has endured endless examination in Congress and elsewhere?

Is the explanation for this obsession with Ms. Clinton’s health, while effectively giving Trump a pass on the issue, a product of the old saw that a woman is a more delicate creature than a man and thus any show of weakness is a possible sign of more serious inadequacies? Trump has been making such claims for some time, without any factual basis. Catching a cold, or a lung infection, is a factual basis for saying that Ms. Clinton, like most humans, is susceptible to occasional illness. But she is not the first to stumble. There was George W. Bush in Japan at a state dinner. And, of course, Gerald Ford was a habitual stumblebum but never disqualified, for that reason, from being president. There are others.

And, yes, I am aware of the pressures of the 24-hour news cycle and the problems it presents, but CNN is at least somewhat self-aware and therefore has the capacity to resist the temptations it creates. The managers at CNN should take a serious look at the manner in which the network covers this election. Having provided Donald Trump with a daily platform for every fabrication and insult that he has uttered since entering the primaries, CNN should look inward and be sure it is not implicitly buying into the Trump song and dance. And, oh yes, North Korea has a deliverable nuke program in the works. CNN??

BROKEN NEWS – TRUMP BUYS CNN, CHANGES NAME TO “TRUMP NEWS TODAY” (TNT)

Washington, DC – July 5, 2016:  It was learned today that Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for president of the United States, has purchased Cable News Network, normally known as CNN, for an undisclosed sum. Trump hired the public relations firm of Ringling Bros, Barnum & Bailey to advise in connection with the transaction.

“When you think about,” Trump added, “my buying CNN makes perfect sense. They spend 90 percent of their time talking about me, anyway, with around-the-clock panel discussions and live video of my every utterance, so why shouldn’t I own it? Isn’t the press supposed to be free in this country? Believe me, CNN wasn’t free. It cost me a bundle, but with my former campaign manager working for them now, it was clearly the right move. Their constant coverage really helped my campaign and saved me a lot of money. And now, this way, we can cut costs by eliminating what remains of their so-called journalists. Instead of constant speculation about what I said and what I meant to say, they can just ask me directly and I’ll tell them what to report. They should just report the news I give them. That’s it,” Trump said.”

In a related development, Trump’s advisors hinted that Trump, at his own expense, had purchased large tracts of land along the U.S.-Mexican border and was already starting construction of his infamous Wall. A large area has been set aside for construction of Trump Castle, similar to a hotel, but with a moat, for the convenience of visitors to the massive construction site.

Around-the-clock web cam coverage of the construction is being suggested for broadcast by TNT. Trump is also planning to sell the dirt from the Wall excavation as souvenirs for his supporters. Finally, word leaked out from his campaign that he is considering renting shooting positions along the wall to aspiring owners of AR-15 rifles who, for a fee, have the opportunity to stand guard and fend off anyone seeking to breach or scale the Wall. His spokesperson said that Trump meant to say that only rubber bullets would be permitted. Thus, even if Mexico does not end up paying for the Wall, Trump will still make a killing, figuratively speaking, of course.

Note: This is satire. Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental.  Believe it.

Or not.