Pro-Trump Crackpot Gets Booed Off Stage After Interrupting Shakespeare in the Park (VIDEO)

New York’s Public Theater has been providing free performances of Shakespeare in Central Park for more than sixty years. It’s a non-profit, public service that contributes to the cultural advancement of the community and is available to everyone. It is generally not the scene of political controversy, however, last week became a rare exception.

Shakespeare Protester

The theater group staged a stylized performance of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Taking creative license, they cast Caesar as a Donald Trump lookalike. Consequently, when the scene in the play that depicts Caesar’s assassination came, the character was brutally stabbed to death. Unable to distinguish between reality and fiction, conservatives went into a frenzy asserting that the play was advocating Trump’s assassination. It didn’t take long before the alt-right media was accusing all liberals of being violent and bloodthirsty.

Friday night the performance suffered further attacks when a pro-Trump extremist blogger leaped onto the stage. She began screaming feverishly about alleged “political violence against the right.” Ironically, Laura Loomer writes for a website called TheRebel, a name that implies militant violence.

The interruption was clearly not appreciated by the audience. They immediately burst into a chorus of boos as the cast surrounded Loomer and waited for security to escort her from the stage. And as she was led away the audience cheered and applauded. Surprisingly, Loomer posted video of this embarrassment as if she were proud of it.

following the incident, Loomer had her accomplices video her arrest. Of course, she regarded this as a travesty of justice since all she was doing was defending her Dear Leader, Donald Trump. But her harangue drifted into some peculiar, paranoid territory:

“I really think that the left wants there to be another civil war in this country because they’re so polarizing and they’re so violent. They’re so disgusting. They lack morals. And they really want there to be an assassination so there’s not only a full blown race war, but they want there to be political wars.”

How she concludes that this play makes any statement related to race wars is a mystery only her psychologist can resolve. Perhaps it’s an admission that any criticism of Trump would be countered by his devoted racist supporters. But the hypocrisy is glaringly evident. She attacks the left as polarizing mere seconds before insulting them as disgusting and devoid of morals. That isn’t polarizing at all, is it?

Loomer tries to portray herself as an investigative journalist. But her resume betrays that as absurd. She got her start working for the disgraced and irrelevant confessed criminal, James O’Keefe. For a brief period of time O’Keefe made headlines by producing widely debunked, and deceptively edited, videos intended to slander Democrats. Now his reputation is so toxic that even Fox News won’t publish his nonsense anymore.

So it’s easy to see where Loomer got her idea that interrupting a play with incoherent hollering would be a reasonable act of protest. The only thing she achieved was attracting praise from the alt-right true believers who already worship this sort of idiocy. Disreputable folks like Mike Cernovich, Dinesh D’Souza?, and Jim Hoft (Gateway Pundit) rushed to her defense. Alex Jones of Infowars tweeted that she was a “patriot.” And Laura Ingraham of Fox News had this say:

First of all, President Obama was the target of innumerable attacks that included stabbing, lynching, and other forms of assassination. The right finds it convenient to forget about that. But Ingraham’s remarks about how liberals would behave in circumstances similar to this one are painfully ignorant. In 2012, the same play was staged with an Obama character in the role of Caesar. There were no protests or juvenile interruptions of the performance.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Hypocrisy is no stranger to the right. When Tea Party activists stormed congressional town halls, conservatives hailed them as heroes. When liberals did the same thing earlier this year, the same conservatives condemned them as subversives. When liberals protest speeches on college campuses by white supremacists they are accused of being against free speech. But when Trump and his cohorts advocate government control of the media, the right cheers and agrees. So if you’re looking the differences between left and right responses to expressions of political viewpoints, you need look no further than people like Laura Loomer and the censorious president she idolizes.

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Death Spiral? Trump’s Support From REPUBLICANS Craters as His Presidency Flatlines

The political anchor that is Donald Trump continues to sink ever deeper. The latest poll by the Associated Press shows him with a flaccid approval rating of only thirty-five percent. His disapproval (64%) matches the nation’s distaste for his policies. On his handling of healthcare, sixty-six percent disapprove. Sixty-four percent of Americans object to his withdrawal from the Paris Accords on climate change.

Donald Trump

However, the bad news for Trump is far worse than than what is revealed by that already dismal poll. Gallup just updated their tracking poll of Trump’s popularity (or lack thereof) by party affiliation. The President’s historically depressed job ratings have been routinely dismissed by him and his cohorts. They have relied on their base to provide a cult-like bottom of devotion. But Gallup’s numbers just put an end to that self-deception:

“Republicans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. took a hit since last month. Forty-one percent of Republicans say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., down 17 percentage points since May.”

When four-in-ten of your most faithful fans are dissatisfied with your performance, you have achieved an epic level of failure. And the precipitous seventeen point collapse ought to be especially worrisome. The time span during which these numbers plunged were notable for several initiatives that Trump regarded as potentially positive. He took his first trip overseas. He announced his position on an international agreement on climate change. The stalled effort to repeal ObamaCare was restarted in the Senate. A tax reform agenda was outlined. But none of these issues moved the needle in favor of Trump.

Of course, at the same time the investigation into the Russia intrigue that has consumed his administration grew more precarious. Additional facts were revealed and more people were implicated. There were congressional hearings that featured former FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Most recently, reports (and Trump) affirmed that he is under investigation for obstruction of justice. Surely these events are weighing on his approval ratings.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Other presidents have suffered through periods of low voter satisfaction. What makes Trump’s dilemma unique is that his own party is abandoning him like rats from a sinking ship of state. It is unlikely that Trump will find many Democrats or independents to buttress his decline. So if he can’t bring back Republicans he is doomed to a continuing free fall. When elected GOP representatives conclude that their constituents are hopelessly repulsed by Trump, they will be less likely to back him up. And at some point they will decide that defending Trump, even against impeachment, exposes them to more risk than benefit.


Sean Hannity’s ‘Deep State’ Derangement Put’s Him at the Front of Conspiracy Crackpot Parade

The shooting in Virginia on Wednesday has renewed the debate over civility in public discourse. Predictably, Republicans exploited the opportunity to blame Democrats and liberals for the violence directed at their colleagues – this time. Even their pleas for consideration and respect are peppered with partisan attacks.

Sean Hannity Fox News

A perfect example occurred Thursday morning on Fox and Friends. Conservative agitator Michelle Malkin spent over eight minutes with her Fox News pals pretending to seek comity while throwing jabs at “the extreme left.” At one point, the on-screen graphic read “Violent Threats Sent To GOP Lawmakers.” The tone of the whole segment reflected that bias. At no time did they mention the recent threats against Democrats. Two Democratic candidates actually had to withdraw from their races due to death threats from right-wingers. And then there was the Republican candidate who literally assaulted a reporter who was just doing his job. That candidate, Greg Gianforte, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, won his race, and is now a U.S. congressman.

Sadly, the heated rhetoric that engulfs today’s political scene is viewed by some as an opportunity. Donald Trump notably abused his opponents whether Republican or Democrat. He fantasized about punching critics in the face. He promised to pay the legal fees of supporters who beat up protesters at his rallies. No wonder that, as president, he continues to associate with drooling barbarians like Alex Jones, Michael Savage, and Ted Nugent.

Perhaps those relationships are what is eating at Sean Hannity. He was the most vocal and devoted Trump-fluffer at Fox News during the campaign. His program featured Trump more than any other on television. And he literally endorsed Trump prior to the election, breaching every ethical standard for a news network. However, his access seems to have been curtailed. Trump hasn’t granted him an interview in over five months. In the meantime, fringe characters from Breitbart News and Infowars got passes to White House Press briefings.

This festering jealously might be inspiring Hannity to venture further out onto the crazy cliff’s edge. That seems to be the best way to get Trump’s enfeebled attention. So Hannity abandoned fear (and reason) on Wednesday night’s program to rant about the frightful “Deep State” that is plotting to destroy Trump (video below). The segment dwells on Hannity’s objection to reports that Trump is being investigated for obstruction of justice. Some choice excerpts follow:

“Tonight, and over the next few days, when the media predictably is gonna breathlessly and hyperventilate all kinds of reports and brand new black helicopters and tin-foil hat conspiracy theories to you the American people as they lie again, remember they have zero credibility left.”

Amazingly, he said that all in one breath. However, surveys show that the American people trust the media far more than they trust Trump. And credible news outlets document their stories, unlike what Hannity is doing in this tirade. He continues to deny the reports that Trump is under investigation:

“It’s only a matter of time before this too will be debunked like everything else they’ve reported in pretty much the last eleven months.”

So Hannity is asserting that for the past year “everything” that’s been reported by the media has been debunked. That’s some pretty spicy nutball delusion. Then he launches into what he says are the real crimes. He accuses James Comey and Robert Mueller of conspiring to undermine the President, despite the fact that they are both lifelong Republicans. And naturally, the biggest criminal of all is Hillary Clinton.

“We know Hillary Clinton committed felonies with her email private server scandal. If Democrats wanna talk about collusion, great. Let’s talk about it and take a look at collusion with Vladimir Putin. Uranium One. Twenty percent of the foundational material to make nuclear weapons, while serving as Secretary of State. She signed off on a waiver giving twenty percent of that uranium to Putin, to the Russians. All while people involved in that deal were funneling millions of dollars back to the Clinton Foundation.”

And all of that is total bull crap. Clinton did not sign any such waiver. There was a deal for Russia to acquire certain facilities (not actual uranium) that required the unanimous approval of nine separate government agencies. The State Department alone could not approve the deal. And the donations to the Clinton Foundation all occurred before Clinton was even nominated for the cabinet post. All of this information is publicly available and Hannity has known about it for years. Nevertheless, he persists in spewing information that he knows is false. It’s all part of his “Deep State” saga aimed at convincing his dim-witted audience that a covert, pseudo-government is working behind the scenes to destroy Trump.

Hannity closes with a call to arrest and jail the anonymous sources who talk to the media. He asserts that they are guilty of disseminating classified data. What’s peculiar about that charge is that he also claims the information they provided is false. But he can’t have it both ways. If the data is false, then nothing classified was revealed, no laws were broken, and no arrests are warranted. If the data is true, then Hannity has to concede that Trump is being investigated for obstruction of justice which Hannity rejects as fake news.

By spinning so furiously that his brain is scrambled, Hannity hopes to return to the high place he held with Trump prior to the election. He appears to think that he has to compete with the likes of Jones and Savage for the President’s affections. And he is probably right. Trump’s choice of friends and advisers is driven by their Insanity Quotient. The question is, can Fox News continue to allow a lying conspiracy kook to host a primetime program on their network? Well, why not? He’s been there for twenty years.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.


Fox News Succumbing to Reality? Network Ditches Their ‘Fair and Balanced’ Slogan

The past year has seen some profound changes in the conservative world. And it’s not just the election of Donald Trump. Although that was a tectonic shift that put a novice political enigma with no discernible principles at the helm of the GOP (Greedy One Percent). And as if that wasn’t earth-shattering enough, the party of family values fell in line behind an adulterous, irreligious, walking contradiction machine. Somehow Republicans were able to embrace a narcissistic, wannabe dictator who spent years insulting them.

Fox News

In the right-wing mediaverse, Fox News has also undergone an upheaval. They lost their founder and CEO, Roger Ailes, and their biggest Star, Bill O’Reilly, to sex scandals. The same improprieties resulted in several other notable Foxies leaving the hen house. They include Megyn Kelly, Greta Van Susteren, Gretchen Carlson, Andrea Tantaros, and Bill Shine, the executive who replaced Ailes. While Rupert Murdoch is still the lord master of Fox, it’s his kids who are the operational managers now.

As if to finish off the old era of Fox News, it was just revealed that they are abandoning their long-time slogan, “fair and balanced.” Of course, they never lived up to that or even tried. It was just a marketing scheme to disparage all other news networks as being hopelessly biased. Fox used it to corral their disciples into the cult, where only the cult leader is to be believed. Veteran Fox-watcher, Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine had the scoop:

“As Fox News moves further into the post–Roger Ailes era, the network is shedding one of its most iconic elements. According to network executives, Fox News has abandoned the marketing slogan ‘Fair & Balanced.’ The decision was made last August after Ailes’s ouster by Fox News co-president Jack Abernethy, because the phrase had ‘been mocked,’ one insider said. Another executive explained that the tagline was ‘too closely associated with Roger.’ Fox executives have been instructed by management to market the network by its other tagline: ‘Most Watched. Most Trusted.'”

Cutting ties to disgraced former management is a generally a good idea. Ailes, who died last month, has become a figurative leper. Even the Ohio University scholarship in his name was discontinued. The same embarrassment of association occurs with the ousted Bill O’Reilly. Megyn Kelly, who resigned to take a new job with NBC, is already showing signs of weakness. Her Sunday night program debuted to meager ratings. And it got worse from there. The second episode dropped by forty-two percent and a 60 Minutes rerun beat it with twice as many viewers. Now there are advertiser boycotts stemming from her decision to interview conspiracy theory kingpin, Alex Jones.

Perhaps the funniest part of this decision to drop the “fair and balanced” lie is that they are replacing it with another lie. The new slogan is “Most Watched. Most Trusted.” Neither of those assertions are true. For the past few months MSNBC has been beating Fox in primetime with the most valued viewer demographic. Rachel Maddow is leading the way, often placing as the highest rated program on all of cable news. And as for “trusted,” Fox News isn’t even in the top twenty according to a survey by Pew Research. It falls well behind all three broadcast networks, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, and MSNBC.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

So Fox is continuing in their tradition of deceiving their audience with blatant falsehoods. And regardless of what their slogan is, we can depend on them to be true to their mission of lying. Despite all of the changes taking place at Fox, what is not changing is their intention to serve the propaganda of the right generally, and to always exalt Trump in particular. Some things will never change.


Trump, Jr and Other Republicans are Already Blaming Democrats for Scalise Shooting

Wednesday morning a deranged man opened fire on a group of Republicans practicing for a charity baseball event. Fortunately there were no fatalities, but several people were wounded including the GOP House Whip, Steve Scalise. Capital Police returned fire and killed the gunman. This is a horrific act of violence for which there is no excuse, and members of both parties have come together to condemn it. For the most part.

Donald Trump, Jr

Sadly, there are some on the right who leaped to the opportunity to take political advantage of this tragedy. And at the top of the list is the eldest son of Donald Trump, Don, Jr. The Trump scion retweeted conservative pundit Harlan Hill who posted this offensive and false sentiment: “Events like today are EXACTLY why we took issue with NY elites glorifying the assassination of our President.”

Trump and Hill are referencing a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar where the title character was made up to resemble Trump. But they are woefully ignorant of the content of the play which concludes that political violence is abhorrent and counterproductive. What’s more, they never had any complaints when the same play was staged with President Obama in the role of Caesar.

More to the point, Trump, Jr. is demonstrating a callous disrespect for the victims and their families by rushing to politicize this shooting. It exposes his obsession with partisan antics aimed at disparaging Democrats. And he isn’t alone. Other Republicans have also dived into the scummy end of the pool. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) called it a “political rhetorical terrorist attack.” Fringe wingnut radio talker Michael Savage tweeted “I warned America the Dems constant drumbeat of hatred would lead to violence!” Alex Jones’ InfoWars deemed it “media-inspired terror attacks.” That’s notably different than his take on the Sandy Hook murder of twenty children as a hoax staged with actors.

Conservative websites like the Drudge Report and Breitbart News joined in the pile on against Democrats and liberals. Never mind that every Democrat who has spoken out about this has unconditionally condemned it. And then there’s GOP congressman Chris Collins (R-NY), who assigned the blame solely to Democrats for rhetoric that he said “fuels the fires.” He continued:

“I can only hope that the Democrats do tone down the rhetoric. The rhetoric has been outrageous. The finger-pointing, just the tone and the angst and the anger directed at Donald Trump, his supporters. […] Maybe this is a wake-up call. I’m not saying it will be. But let’s hope we could disagree on a more polite, conversational basis.”

So Collins’ idea of being more polite is to accuse Democrats – and only Democrats – of inciting violence. And his solution to finger-pointing is finger-pointing. Just for the record, Republicans have been notoriously hostile toward Democrats for decades. And that has only worsened during the Era of Trump, who famously suggested “2nd Amendment solutions” to handle Hillary Clinton. And who can forget the images of Obama being lynched that were circulated endlessly by right-wing trolls. In many cases they were further disseminated by GOP officials.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Republicans are right to admonish anyone who glorifies violence against political adversaries. They’re right to condemn such violence when it occurs. But they are just bending the arc of hypocrisy to the breaking point when they assert that they are not at least as guilty of hostile partisan rhetoric. And they need to extend their outrage to abortion clinic bombings, assaults on Muslims, LGBTQ people, women, African Americans, Latinos, etc. Then they can start to consider lecturing Democrats on civility.


Maddow Blog: GOP Senate is Secretly Destroying ObamaCare While Trump Scandals Dominate Headlines

There has never been a presidency before like the one America is suffering through now. In less than five months Donald Trump has scored record low approval ratings. There are credible calls for impeachment swirling around Washington and the nation. And no wonder. He is being investigated by a special prosecutor for scandalous allegations involving his unsavory connections to Russia. His efforts to implement an unconstitutional Muslim ban have been repeatedly struck down by federal courts. The tax reform he advocates (for the wealthy) has gone nowhere in Congress. His anti-media fetish continues to drill deeper into the realm of pathological paranoia. And all the while he exalts himself as the Second Coming of a political Messiah.

Donald Trump Mitch McConnell

Among his many failures is the callous attempt to deny healthcare for tens of millions of Americans. Trump and his Republican colleagues in Congress continue to pursue their efforts to repeal ObamaCare despite the public’s disapproval. The GOP plan is languishing with support of only twenty-one percent, with fifty-six percent opposed. Meanwhile, support for ObamaCare is growing.

That may explain why Republicans are now engaged in a clandestine scheme to kill ObamaCare while they think no one is watching. This brazenly overt legislative deception is an insult to voters. When asked why they are withholding the plan from public view, a senate aide replied “We aren’t stupid.” That’s an admission that they know their plan sucks and would be met with stiff resistance from the American people. But it’s even worse than that. According to Steve Benen of the Maddow Blog:

“The word ‘un-American’ is probably used a bit too often, usually to impugn others’ patriotism, but in the case of Republicans overhauling the nation’s health care system, the process is un-American in a rather literal sense. In the United States, we have a legislative system elected officials are supposed to use to pursue their goals and policy priorities. In 2017, however, Congress’ GOP majority has decided to abandon the American policymaking model, without defense or explanation, while pushing life-or-death legislation affecting one-sixth of the world’s largest economy.

“There is nothing like this in the American tradition. Republican leaders are being so secretive about their health care overhaul that even other GOP senators have no idea what they’ll soon be asked to pass.”

Benen goes on to note the “breathtaking hypocrisy” of the GOP who complained bitterly when ObamaCare was before the Congress. They falsely asserted that the Democratic bill lacked transparency. That’s despite the fact that there were dozens of public hearings and hundreds of hours debate before ObamaCare was passed. Neither of which have occurred during the Republican effort to undo it.

Trump has been throwing one of his trademarked tantrums over what he calls “obstruction” from Democrats. “If we had the greatest bill in the history of the world on healthcare,” he said, “we wouldn’t get one vote from the Democrats.” First, of, as noted above, he doesn’t have the greatest bill in history. Secondly, he must have forgotten that ObamaCare didn’t get one vote from Republicans. But at least Democrats allowed them to discuss and amend the bill before passage.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The media is justifiably transfixed by the current crises in the White House. The possibility that the President could be prosecuted and/or impeached is the story of the century. However, they should not be so consumed by that that they fail to inform the public about what Republicans are trying to do under the radar. It is a perversion of democracy and a disservice to all Americans. The GOP must not be allowed to get away with shoving their monstrous mutation of healthcare down the nation’s throat. We need to pay attention and pull the curtain aside to reveal and resist the Republicans’ appalling agenda.

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The ‘COVFEFE Act’ Was Just Introduced in Congress to Preserve Trump’s Deranged Social Media

Last month Donald Trump took to Twitter to post one of his most coherent messages to date. It was a brief tweet that said only “Despite the negative press covfefe” (it was later deleted). Yep, that’s it. And with that he communicated with his devoted disciples who all seemed to know exactly what he was talking about. His press secretary, Sean Spicer, said that the meaning was known “to the President and a small group of people.” Spicer declined to reveal the meaning or the people who knew it.

Donald Trump covfefe

Now we have some added clarity of the issue thanks to a Mike Quigley, a congressman from Illinois. The Democratic representative just introduced a new bill that directly addresses the covfefe controversy. Creatively named “The Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement” (aka the COVFEFE Act), it doesn’t exactly provide a definition. But it does give guidance on handling Trump’s Twitter blathering. According to Quigley’s House web page:

“In order to maintain public trust in government, elected officials must answer for what they do and say; this includes 140-character tweets,” said Rep. Quigley. “President Trump’s frequent, unfiltered use of his personal Twitter account as a means of official communication is unprecedented. If the President is going to take to social media to make sudden public policy proclamations, we must ensure that these statements are documented and preserved for future reference. Tweets are powerful, and the President must be held accountable for every post.”

The purpose of the COVFEFE Act is to make sure that all presidential communications are preserved for posterity. That’s actually the state of current law. However, at present it is unclear whether social media communications are regarded as official presidential records. This bill will solve that uncertainty by explicitly adding social media to the Presidential Records Act.

Administration staffers like Kellyanne Conway and Sebastian Gorka have contributed to the ambiguity regarding social media. They have both told reporters to dismiss Trump’s tweets as casual asides. However, those views were directly contradicted by others in the administration. Rep. Quigley notes that “Trump’s tweets frequently make national news and are a topic of everyday conversation.” When asked about Trump’s tweets Sean Spicer admitted that they are “considered official statements by the president of the United States.” Even the President has made clear that he considers his social media commentaries to be indispensable methods of communicating with the public:

This is why the COVFEFE Act is necessary to quell the confusion. And, for the record, no one in the media wants Trump to stop tweeting. For them it is a goldmine of insight into his thoughts and motivations. It’s only his staff who think he should quit.

The COVFEFE Act isn’t the first brilliantly designed legislative acronym of the Trump Era. We previously saw the introduction of the “No Taxpayer Revenue Used to Monetize the Presidency’ Act” (aka the No TRUMP Act).” It proposed to prohibit presidents from profiting off of official visits to properties they own. Then there was the “Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act” (aka Mar-A-Lago Act). It’s purpose was to make visitor logs publicly available, whether at the White House or any other place where official business was being conducted.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Despite the obvious humor, all of these bills have serious goals. They generally address the transparency of the President’s affairs. The public’s right to know is an indispensable component of a healthy democracy. Trump has been unusually secretive in his dealings. He continues to refuse to release his tax returns, and he is now making enigmatic references to covert recordings. These bills are a small step toward holding him, and any future president, accountable.


Trump vs. Comey: A New Poll Has Great News About Who America Really Trusts

The Senate Intelligence Committee hearings last week with James Comey have already had a profound impact on the political landscape. They produced numerous revelations that compound Donald Trump’s problems. Despite Trump’s delusional claim that he was “vindicated,” Comey’s testimony was devastating. He called out the President for lying (several times), obstructing justice, smearing the press, and hiding secret recordings. In Trump’s cartoon brain that’s vindication.

Donald Trump

In response to the hearings, the White House Defense Forces quickly deployed to apply a thick layer of reality distortion. Much of their strategy was to demean Comey’s character and pretend nothing pertinent was revealed. Unfortunately, their logic was painfully flawed. Particularly the assertion that Comey had cleared the President despite also being tagged as a liar.

Now the first national poll on the subject has been published. The Huffington Post and YouGov partnered to get America’s impression of the epic Trump/Comey standoff. The results were unambiguous:

“By a 20-point margin, 46 percent to 26 percent, Americans say Comey is more honest and trustworthy than Trump, with the remainder unsure.”

What’s more, the poll found that Trump is far less liked than the former FBI Director. His unfavorable rating hit fifty-three percent. That’s consistent with most other polls that put Trump’s approval at historic lows. By contrast, Comey’s unfavorablilty is only thirty-three percent.

The poll delved into some specific areas that were covered in the hearings. For instance, when asked whether Trump sought Comey’s pledge of loyalty, fifty percent of respondents said he did. A mere fifteen percent believed Trump’s denial. And as to whether Trump pressured Comey to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn, a plurality of forty-two percent agree with Comey’s account. Further boosting Comey’s position, by 17 points (45 to 28), Americans say that Trump was wrong to fire Comey.

None of this can be considered good news for the White House. Consequently, they have engaged in a full-court press to muddy the waters with obvious distractions and outright lies. This effort is led, of course, by Trump and his Twitter feed. In the wee hours of Sunday morning Trump tweeted:

Once again, his logic falls into the category of nonsense. In order for the “leaks” to be prevalent, or even illegal, they would have to be truthful. A leak that disclosed information that wasn’t true could not be a violation of the law. However, nothing Comey disclosed could accurately be described as a leak. He simply published his account of a conversation that was neither classified nor privileged. Every Washington memoir ever published did the very same thing. Furthermore, Trump’s continued Comey bashing could itself be found to be unlawful. Some legal opinions regard it as witness intimidation and/or obstruction of justice.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

So Trump has revealed the tactics he intends to pursue to extricate himself from this dilemma. And for the most part they involve character assassination and flagrantly implausible denials. The media brigade of StormTrumpers have already fanned out across the dial to spew the White House talking points. But Trump himself is remaining barricaded in his luxurious bunker (aka golf resort). He is frantically avoiding the press and has taken only two questions in nearly a month. One of the questions was whether he would be willing to testify under oath. “One hundred percent,” he replied. That answer may come back to haunt him.


Conservatives Really Do Hate Facts – Study Shows ‘Striking’ Partisan Divide On Fact-Checkers

The rancorous tirades thrown by Donald Trump about “fake news” have had a profound impact on the public’s perception of the media. Prior to his entry into politics, the press was already regarded suspiciously in certain quarters. But Trump has escalated that to a visceral hostility that has even led to violence.

Donald Trump

This animosity toward the media extends to what is supposed to be the most neutral and independent sector of journalism. Fact-checking entities exist to to review statements by public figures for accuracy. Of course, like any other analytical exercise they can be mistaken or slanted by political bias. However, the most prominent fact-checking sites have generally proven to be – let’s say – fair and balanced. And that’s precisely what outrages right-wingers who dispute their findings.

A new study was just completed by The Reporters’ Lab at Duke University. They analyzed hundreds of references to fact-checkers by critics from both liberal and conservative perspectives. What they found was that conservatives were overwhelming antagonistic toward fact-checking and took every opportunity to disparage it. Liberals, on the other hand, demonstrated that they were not afraid of being fact-checked. The study’s findings revealed that:

“Beyond the use of Pinocchios and Pants on Fire ratings to win the daily skirmishes, fact-checkers have seen anecdotal evidence that conservatives and liberals have different views. Some of the harshest criticism of fact-checking has come from conservative media outlets that say the sites have a liberal bias. By contrast, liberal publications have often seemed more positive about fact-checking – or at least less critical.” […]

“The partisan divide was striking: 86 percent of the negative references appeared on conservative sites, while only 14 percent appeared on liberal sites. By contrast, almost 85 percent of the positive statements came from liberal sites, while 15 percent came from conservative sites.”

This perceptual difference is emblematic of the right’s aversion to truth-telling in the Era of Trump. Our president has imbued his base with a robotic tendency to spurn anything observed in the “mainstream” media as fakery. As a result, the characterization of fact-checking by conservatives is most often dismissed as the product of liberal bias. Never mind the documentary evidence supplied by the fact-checkers to support their analyses.

These views aren’t especially surprising considering that they are fully in sync with the diatribes spouted by Trump. Our president has shown repeatedly that he is unconcerned with dispensing known falsehoods, even after he has been corrected. This is, after all, the administration that invented the notion of “alternative facts.” It is also the administration whose chief White House strategist is former Breitbart News boss, Stephen Bannon. A few years ago Bannon’s website giddily declared that the “Era of Media Fact Checkers Intimidating Republicans Is Over.” In another article they ranted that “When Not Outright Lying, Fact-Checkers Make Fools of Themselves.”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It is that attitude that permits Republicans and other conservatives to casually dismiss fact-checkers. The documentation provided by these specialized journalists never sink into the heads of tunnel-blind wingnuts. And that, the study notes, can have “serious consequences for the nation’s fact-checkers.” It demeans the credibility of impartial observers attempting to bring some legitimacy to otherwise partisan arguments. And it obscures the very nature of the truth. But that’s very likely the purpose of the attacks from the right. When their entire agenda is riddled with lies, truth is anathema and fact-checkers are the enemy.


Trump’s Claim that Comey’s Testimony is a ‘Complete Vindication’ is Delusional – Here’s Why

After much anticipation, former FBI Director James Comey appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. His testimony was in parts both revealing and tedious. And the posture of the senators questioning him was predictably biased. However, there was one observer who managed to totally miss the significance of the hearings. And you’ll never guess who.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump was successfully distracted by his handlers who worked feverishly to keep him from tweeting during the hearings. It was the second longest absence from Twitter since he became predisent But that vacation couldn’t last forever, and Friday morning Trump was back online. Along with his standard free ad for Fox and Friends, Trump blurted out this self-serving comment:

As with many of Trump’s remarks, this one needs further examination. For one thing, it appears he’s claiming vindication by Comey’s “many false statements and lies.” If the statements were lies, how do they vindicate anything? But more to the point, vindication generally comes from someone agreeing with your account of events. Let’s take a look at some of what Comey said that Trump thinks vindicates him.

1) Comey said several times that Trump is a liar. He noted that he kept detailed memos of his meetings with Trump because he was “honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting.” Comey also testified that Trump lied about the reasons he was fired and his derogatory characterization of the FBI. Trump also was accused of lying about who initiated the contacts and requested meetings.

2) Comey unambiguously implicated Trump in obstruction of justice. He told the Committee that Trump asked him to ditch his investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. After clearing the room, Trump said he “hoped” Comey would “let this go,” which Comey took as a directive.

3) Comey decisively affirmed that Russia had interfered with the 2016 presidential election. He declared that “There is no fuzz on that. It is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community.” And just to rub in how absurd Trump’s whining about fake news is, Comey added “That’s about as unfake as you can possibly get.”

4) In the contest of credibility, Comey challenged Trump to release any recordings he might have. Trump had previously tweeted an implication that such tapes exist. Comey’s response: “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.” Then he prodded Trump to come clean.

5) And to top it off, Trump joins in the chorus of right-wing media salivating over Comey’s admission that he released some of his memos to the press through an associate. However, it isn’t leaking to publish your own account of events in which you took part. If it were, every Washington memoir would have to be considered a leak. There was nothing confidential or classified in the memos. Comey had every right to tell his side about what occurred since Trump had already done so.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

So this is what Trump regards as vindication? Being called out for lying, obstructing justice, smearing the press, and hiding secret recordings. Most people would consider that a harsh indictment. But in Trump’s world there are only pro-Trump rainbows and golden showers. [Of rain. Get your mind out of the gutter].