The GOP tries to recover from going all in on Roy Moore. They now have the votes to pass their tax cuts, thanks to a few Senators who said they had reservations, but who really have no moral center. The Mueller investigation may be sidelined by the Senate, and the new Star Wars movie hit theaters.
Moore was supposed to be a deal with the devil, but the GOP had nothing left to offer him:
Xmas tax cuts come early for Trump supporters:
Tillerson and Trump try to get on same page about North Korea:
Her Majesty The Queen tries to think of a way to uninvite The Donald to the UK: (hat tip to Gloria G. and Jane T. Gloria says she loves the Corgi in the background)
Muller investigation moves to new phase:
Newest Star Wars movie reminds us of how old we are:
Trump’s scale back of National Monuments shows us his REAL monuments:
Fish Drying in Shenzhen, China earlier in September. Shenzhen is home to Foxconn, Apple’s iPhone manufacturer. It is about 30 min. from Hong Kong.
Our national nightmare; The Apprentice: POTUS Edition, has the Donald regularly turning up the outrageousness. It is frightening how easily many of us are manipulated by his antics, because we are intellectually lazy. Wrongo was happy to see Nicolle Wallace coin a new term for what Trump is pedaling:
Weaponized Patriotism. Isn’t Trump’s effort to equate standing for the National Anthem to “patriotism”, weaponizing patriotism? If you follow Trump’s ideas, all that really matters are the symbols. This was Trump on Saturday:
Wouldn’t you like to see one of these [NFL] owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!
He then went on to state that any player so exercising free speech should be “fired” and unemployable at their career job. Trump added that he believes fans should walk out if players don’t stand for the anthem:
If you see it, even if it’s one player…Leave the stadium.
Phony patriotism is a strong argument to use against a population that is ignorant of civics.
The refusal to stand for the playing of the National Anthem causes Trump and his fellow travelers, (who all profess to understand, and believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights), to claim that the NFL players’ expression is disrespectful and intolerable.
What are we saying when we say that someone “disrespected the flag,” or “disrespected the country,” when they choose to not stand for the National Anthem? The flag is a piece of cloth that represents many complex things, including the Constitution.
If we let Trump deny this expression of resistance, we are creating a situation where all of our rights are just privileges that can be denied on a whim. Trump can’t be allowed to say, “I believe in the 1st Amendment, but not for people who kneel during the National Anthem”.
If Trump’s reaction to Colin Kaepernick is unchallenged, Trump gains the position of defining which actions are “respectful” for Americans. But, it is a very American thing to resist, or rebel against what we perceive to be the symbols of the government’s abuses of power.
It may be disrespectful, but it must be tolerated.
This is today’s America: People allow their perceptions to control them. And who controls perceptions controls the people. Many Americans equate the flag and the National Anthem with patriotism. And according to Trump, patriotism means you support the government, and you support our foreign wars. Anything less is “un-American”.
But one can love his country while hating his government, or some of its actions. This phony form of Trumpist patriotism is a weapon against independent thinking. It’s a weapon that keeps people ignorant of the underlying problems that make our government ineffective.
Time to wake up America! We are a free people, and most of us want to stay that way. We need to look for the story behind the story when someone equates not standing for the Anthem with “unpatriotic”. Perhaps it is just Trump’s politics. Perhaps he is trying to deflect people from thinking about his latest struggling effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, or how Trump is bungling the effort to blunt North Korea’s aggression.
To help us wake up, here is the late Liam Clancy with “The Patriot Game”. The song is about the death of a young man during a campaign by the Irish Republican Army during the 1950s. He bought the story:
The words were written by Dominic Behan, brother of Brendan Behan. Dominic was angry that the Clancy Brothers cleaned up the lyrics by removing this verse that referred to head of government, Eamon de Valera:
This Ireland of mine has for long been half free,
Six counties are under John Bull’s tyranny.
And still de Valera is greatly to blame
For shirking his part in the patriot game.
Bob Dylan stole the song, turning it into “With God on Our Side”, and Dominic Behan wanted to fight Dylan physically for the theft.
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
Just over a third of Americans (37%) in 2017 say news organizations generally get the facts straight, unchanged from the last time Gallup asked this question in 2003. But…major partisan shifts in beliefs on this topic have emerged over the past 14 years. Republicans’ trust in the media’s accuracy has fallen considerably, while Democrats’ opinions on the matter have swung in the opposite direction.
49% of college graduates say the news media generally get the facts right, compared with 36% of Americans who attended college, but didn’t graduate. 28% of those with no more than a high school education agree that the media get it right.
But education makes little difference in Republicans’ beliefs about the news media’s credibility. Among Republicans with at least a college degree, only 18% say the media gets the facts straight, similar to the 12% of Republicans without a college degree who say the same.
Republican’s trust in the American news media has fallen steadily from 2003 to today. The numbers are striking: Republicans’ trust plunged from 35% in 2003 to 14%, while Democrats’ trust in America’s news media increased from 42% in 2003, to 62% today.
Gallup first polled on media trust in 1998. Back then, more than half of both Republicans (52%) and Democrats (53%) believed news organizations generally got the facts straight. Here is a Gallup graph:
Both groups’ belief in the accuracy of the media fell dramatically in 2000, possibly due to bad election-night projections of the 2000 presidential election. Some networks first declared Al Gore, and later, George W. Bush the winner, before ending the night with no official winner. When surveyed a month later In December 2000, just 23% of Republicans said news organizations generally get the facts straight, a 29-percentage-point decline in the two years after the 1998 survey.
The next big Republican shift downward began in 2003. What happened in 2003? The reporting about WMD (weapons of mass destruction) in Iraq on GW Bush’s watch. The media either lied, or suppressed the findings by IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) that there were no WMD in Iraq. That lie helped move us into an unjustified war that had catastrophic results for both the Middle East and for America.
The paradox is that the Republicans’ distrust grew after that, while Democrats’ views improved. Perhaps the Republicans were angry that the press eventually reported the truth. Perhaps Democrats forgave the press after they finally reported the truth, turning their anger to George W. Bush for lying us into war.
That willingness empowers distortion of the truth as a “go-to” strategy in the GOP’s politics of persuasion.
Given the Gallup findings, Trump’s frequent attacks on the media may have been as much his taking advantage of GOP attitudes, as his creating a poor Republican view of the press by his use of the “fake news” meme.
On the Democratic side, their increased confidence in newspapers may be a counter-reaction to Trump’s criticisms. Gallup found in June that the percentage of Democrats who have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers nearly doubled from 2016, rising from 28% to 46%.
The overall finding that a solid majority of the country believes major news organizations routinely produce false information may have disastrous consequences for our democracy. It is at least related to Americans’ diminished trust in US institutions, and our rising cynicism about the American political system, and our elected officials.
Democracy is impossible unless both our politicians and the press are honest.
Here is “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” originally from the musical, “Hamilton”. This isn’t the version you hear in the musical. This version is from the “Hamilton Mixtec”, performed by K’naan, featuring Residente, Riz MC & Snow Tha Product:
It’s really astonishing that in a country founded by immigrants,
“Immigrant” has somehow become a bad word.
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
Here are yesterday’s cartoons today. The week begins with Congress at home trying to explain all the winning to their voters, while Der Donald is again on the golf course. For the next 17 days, the job of the Whitewash House is limited to describing his golfing success:
Is it more likely to see four new faces on Mt. Rushmore, or a fifth?
How did we get here? Trump can’t stop tweeting, and we can’t stop reacting. Trump met with the New York Times, and the results as reported, leave you thinking: “is this guy a 15 year-old?” Then on Saturday morning before 7am, he engages in a tweet storm, saying among other things,
So many people are asking why isn’t the A.G. or Special Council looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes. 33,000 e-mails deleted?
Or, this one:
My son Donald openly gave his e-mails to the media & authorities whereas Crooked Hillary Clinton deleted (& acid washed) her 33,000 e-mails!
He’s referring to software called “BleachBit“. Why does he keep on referring to it as “acid washing”? Bleach is an alkaline, not an acid. Trump must have slept through high school chemistry.
And how does somebody make it through elementary school without learning that the best outcome you can expect with “Hillary did it, too!” is for Hillary to join you in detention?
Aren’t private schools supposed to be better at teaching that actions have consequences?
Anyway, on to cartoons. Trump and OJ may have something in common:
“Governments last only as long as the undertaxed can defend themselves against the overtaxed.” ― Bernard Berenson
(There is an extra ration of cartoons today. Wrongo is taking a few days to celebrate the hot dogs and potato salad he found in the fridge. Posts will resume on July 5th.)
If this week shows how well we are playing defense, we are all screwed. The party of personal responsibility always blames their opponents when things go wrong. The party of fiscal responsibility will blow up the budget whenever they get in power.
And the party of family values is merrily slashing away at programs that support families:
When it comes to health insurance, the GOP has all the right viewpoints:
Trump revealed his true self with the “Morning Joe” tweets:
The Court-tested, Judges approved Muslim ban is now in effect:
Trump (or his lackeys) made fake Time Magazine covers featuring the Donald:
Trump’s Press Team orders no cameras at most press conferences. So on to Virtual News:
Trump Election Commission asks states for each voter’s personal data, like party affiliation and social security number. What could go wrong?
Wrongo has read much of the evidence that Russia interfered with the 2016 US Presidential election. He has watched House and Senate committees ask the intelligence community and the Justice Department what is known and not known about the Russian hacking story.
It is clear that the Russians have extremely capable cyber technicians. They have a pragmatic view about getting what they need strategically, so it is both feasible and possible that they could have been disruptive to our democratic process.
But is there actual evidence that Russia interfered in our elections in 2016? And if they did, is there evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with them? The answer so far is summed up by Caitlin Johnstone:
Russiagate is like a mirage: from a distance it looks like something, but once you move in for a closer look, there’s nothing there. Nothing. Nothing solid, nothing substantial, nothing you can point at and say, “Here it is. This hard evidence justifies saturating the media waves with obsessive 24/7 coverage, escalating tensions with a nuclear superpower, stagnating political discourse in America and fanning the flames of a hysterical, xenophobic McCarthyist feeding frenzy.”
We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.
Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.
We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.
Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.”
The assessment says Russia did three basic things to “influence” the Presidential election. First, the NSA, CIA and, to a lesser extent, the FBI, believed that the Russians hacked into the DNC and John Podesta emails, then passed that content to WikiLeaks and DC Leaks, who subsequently published the information. Second, the Russians supposedly obtained access to “elements” (undefined) of US state or local electoral boards. Third, Russian media outlets, RT and Sputnik News, put out Kremlin friendly messages.
There is no evidence backing up the claim that the Russian intelligence service hacked the DNC and Podesta that has been presented to the American people. The FBI did not conduct a forensic examination of the computers of either the DNC or of Podesta. The belief that the Russians did it is based on an independent firm, Crowdstrike’s examination of the DNC emails. Moreover, the release of Podesta’s emails had little to no effect on the election, while the Comey on-and-off-and on again investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails were certainly damaging to her electoral chances.
The larger point is that Democrats have convinced themselves that getting rid of Trump justifies throwing pasta (or any other sticky substance) at the wall to see what sticks. And that is what is happening with the “all Russia, all the time” hearings in the House and Senate.
An important subtext to this whole Russian conspiracy theory is the insistence that the Trump campaign colluded with Vladimir Putin to sabotage Hillary’s campaign. That is repeated endlessly on the cable channels, and has become an article of faith to many Americans, especially Democrats. But, a few meetings do not create collusion. Possibly the intelligence community has some proof, but it has not been presented in a form that inspires credibility.
About a month ago, the DOJ appointed a Special Counsel to ferret out what is real from what is fake in the allegations about Russiagate, from hacks to collusion.
Let’s hope that he gets to the bottom of the story.
In the meantime, stay focused on the potential damage that Messrs. Trump, McConnell and Ryan are trying to do, from the gutting of Dodd-Frank to passing an Obamacare replacement that hurts many Americans.
Now for a tune. The Beatles’ “Back in the USSR” was released in 1968. It was intended to be a parody of “Back in the USA” by the Beach Boys. The song shocked many at the time for its pro-Soviet message. Years later, Paul McCartney stated he knew very little about the Soviet Union when he wrote the song. Here is McCartney doing the song live in Moscow’s Red Square:
Note Putin vaguely rocking @ 0:14
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
On Friday night in Cologne Germany, Wrongo and Ms. Right had the chance to see a great young female duo who play classical music. Sophie Moser (violin) and Katja Huhn (piano) played selections for a mostly American audience. They perform under the name Duo Moser-Huhn. Here they are playing the Romanian Folk Dances by Bartok, composed in 1915. Sophie was a child prodigy, and plays an Amati violin built in 1743. They have few YouTube performances, so hopefully, you will enjoy this:
On to cartoons. Der Donald is on his first overseas tour as president. He is in Saudi as this is written, before his big speech on Islamic Terrorism. So you will already know just how well that was received by the 50 or so heads of state in the audience.
Trump prepares for landing:
Opinions on his Middle East visit vary:
John Fugelsang called Trump’s meeting with the Pope “His Holiness meets His Assholiness”:
(Wrongo and Ms. Oh So Right are heading to Europe today. We will be gone for 10 days, so blogging may be sparse. Please keep America great while we are away.)
Happy Mother’s Day to all. A few more thoughts about BLOTUS (Big Liar of the US): Not only does he have the worst approval ratings of any president at this point in his term, but he’s also incapable of moving the needle of public opinion toward his positions. Ironically, for all of Trump’s sycophants’ talk that Trump’s words ARE his actions, his tweets and public pronouncements are making his positions more unpopular.