Trump’s State Department is Granting Hundreds of Visas for Russian Spies

Friday morning Donald Trump met with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. This is either their first meeting or their fifteenth, depending on which statement by Trump you choose to believe. In any case, according to the White House, Trump went into the meeting with no agenda. He told reporters that he was honored to meet Putin. That’s a pretty cavalier attitude toward encountering the man who everyone in the U.S. intelligence community says interfered with our election last year.

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

Trump obviously doesn’t care about the election hacking issue. He still insists that “nobody knows for sure” that the Russians were responsible. That opinion is not only dangerously misguided, it is an insult to America’s national security professionals. It also conveniently lets the guy who helped him get elected off the hook. However, it is not the only threat to which Trump is exposing the nation. CNN is reporting that Russian spies are pouring into the country courtesy of Trump’s State Department:

“Since the November election, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have detected an increase in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the US under the guise of other business, according to multiple current and former senior US intelligence officials. The Russians are believed to now have nearly 150 suspected intelligence operatives in the US, these sources said. Officials who spoke to CNN say the Russians are replenishing their ranks after the US in December expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying in retaliation for election-meddling.”

Those 35 diplomats were expelled by President Obama in response to the Russian hacking. It was just one of the actions taken despite Trump having said that Obama had done nothing. But now that Trump’s team is in place they are readmitting suspicious characters. These are potential operatives who could ramp up election tampering activities for 2018 and 2020. And American intelligence officials are worried about just that:

“Fueling law enforcement officials’ concern is that the Russians are targeting people in the US who can provide access to classified information, in addition to ongoing efforts to hack the US government for intelligence, according to several of the officials. In some cases, Russian spies have tried to gain employment at places with sensitive information as part of their intelligence-gathering efforts, the sources say. But that hasn’t stopped the State Department from issuing the temporary duty visas.”

Reports coming out of Trump’s meeting with Putin indicate that he was less than eager to hold the Russian’s accountable. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the focus was on moving forward. That must have pleased Putin immensely. I’m sure he’d like to get on with his plans to hack future American elections. And now, thanks to Trump, he’ll have an army of spies in the country to help achieve his goals.

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

Modern Day Presidential? Trump Attacks American Institutions and Leaders While on Foreign Soil

Donald Trump’s first trip overseas last May was widely viewed as a diplomatic failure. When he wasn’t embarrassing the United States with his ignorance and bluster, he was insulting its closest allies. So the world is holding its collective breath as Trump once again ventures beyond the shores of America. And if his first day in Poland is any guide, this trip signals an even worse outcome.

Donald Trump

There is a long-held canon of international diplomacy meant to encourage national unity and continuity of purpose. It asserts that all domestic political quibbles and criticisms should end at the ocean’s edge. American leaders representing the country ought not to be bad-mouthing it on foreign soil. It’s a simple rule, and one that is easy and wise to follow. Unless, of course, you’re Donald Trump.

In his first stop, Trump held a joint press conference with Poland’s President Duda. [For the record, Trump has not held a solo press conference since February] The President took only two questions from American reporters. The first came from David Martosko of the Daily Mail. He asked about both North Korea and Trump’s WWE-themed tweet wherein he body-slammed a CNN character. Trump chose to respond to the CNN question at length, with an afterthought about North Korea. He said:

“I think what CNN did was unfortunate for them. As you know now, they have some pretty serious problems. They have been fake news for a long time. They have been covering me in a very, very dishonest way. NBC is equally as bad, despite the fact that I made them a fortune with The Apprentice. But they forgot that”

So while standing next to one of Europe’s worst media suppressors, Trump bashed the American media and the concept of free press. It was an unprecedented assault by a traveling president. Trump seems to think that generating income for an entertainment division of a media company entitles him to positive coverage by the news division. But the larger problem is that his rhetoric can only encourage other countries to demean and dismiss their local journalists.

The next question came from Hallie Jackson of MSNBC. She asked if he would “once and for all, yes or no, definitively say that Russia interfered in the 2016 election?” He would not. Trump gave a rambling response that avoided directly acknowledging Russia’s complicity in the election tampering:

“Well, I think it was Russia, but it could’ve been other people and other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered. I’ve said it very simply. It could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries. I won’t be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere. I think it’s been happening for a long time. It’s been happening for many, many years.”

Jackson’s follow up asked Trump why he could not just agree with his intelligence agencies who have definitively identified Russia as the culprit. He proceeded to ramble some more:

“Let me just start off by saying, I heard it was seventeen agencies. I said, “boy, that’s a lot. Do we even have that many intelligence agencies?” Right? Let’s check it. And we did some heavy research. It turned out to be three or four. It wasn’t seventeen. […] With that being said, mistakes have been made, I agree. I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. And I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows for sure.”

And with that, Trump commenced maligning his own intelligence operations. He brought up the issue of weapons of mass destruction as an example of an intelligence failure. However, that was a failure of the Bush White House. The intelligence community did not support their WMD allegations.

What’s more, Trump’s assertion that seventeen agencies were not in agreement about Russia is just plain false. While only three agencies (the CIA, FBI, and NSA) were involved in making the assessment, none of the others dissented after the report was published. And by questioning whether there are seventeen agencies he is publicly exposing his ignorance of the intelligence community he is supposed to be leading. Trump’s dismissal of these agencies is another example of improperly criticizing the country while he’s abroad. What sort of confidence does that give to other countries when we ask for their support based on our intelligence?

Finally, in response to the questions about Russia’s election tampering, Trump felt the need for a diversion. He awkwardly shifted the conversation away from both himself and Russia with this nearly incoherent rant:

“Now the thing I have to mention is that Barack Obama, when he was president, found out about this – in terms of if it were Russia – found out about it in August. Now, the election was in November. That’s a lot of time. He did nothing about it. Why did he do nothing about it? He was told it was Russia by the CIA, as I understand it. it was well reported. And he did nothing about it. […] My big question is ‘Why did Obama do nothing about it from August all the way to November.'”

That’s his big question? Not what the hell is Russia doing interfering with our elections? First of all, Trump is once again wrong on the facts. President Obama took swift and decisive action when informed of the Russian hacking. He opened an investigation and encouraged state election officials to tighten their digital security. He was especially cautious before election day because he didn’t want to be seen as interfering with the election himself. And immediately following the election he imposed new sanctions, threw out 35 Russian officials, and closed down two diplomatic compounds.

So after bashing American media and intelligence, Trump has now moved on to American leaders. By showing such open disdain for the just-past president, Trump is giving permission for our allies and enemies to do the same for any national leader. They are now free to disregard the words and deeds of any representative of the United States, including Trump.

So much for leaving criticism at the ocean’s edge. Trump is demonstrating that he is incapable of behaving appropriately as president. He is more worried about defending his fragile ego than he is about serving the interests of the nation. His lack of diplomatic skills is likely to produce some unwanted consequences. And he has already proven that he is untrustworthy with confidential information. That’s why so many people are so anxious every time he meets with foreign dignitaries, whether at home or abroad. The country would be a lot better off if he would just stay at his golf resorts and leave governing to the adults.

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

Fox News Posts a Dishonest and Racist Attack on President Obama for Taking a Vacation

For eight long years Fox News was the central bureau for inventing and broadcasting lies about President Obama. Their pseudo-news coverage included allegations that Obama was a secret Muslim who was born in Kenya. They called him a radical, racist, anti-American who was too incompetent to be president. And even though he has been out of office for six months, they still persist in their campaign of contempt.

Fox News Obama Luxury

The Fox News website posted an article last week with the provocative headline “Obamas under fire from the left for never ending, sizzling ultra-luxury vacations.” However, nothing in that tabloid-style headline was true or supported by the content of the article. The whole thing was one of the worst examples of deliberate slander by a network that has specialized in it. The opening paragraphs said that:

“The Democratic base is growing increasingly frustrated with former President Barack Obama’s actions after leaving office, including a seemingly endless tour of millionaire and billionaire luxury retreats, according to Democrats and activists contacted by Fox News. Ex-presidents, understandably and un-controversially, go on vacations immediately after leaving office. But the level of luxury the Obamas enjoy on their vacations is unprecedented for a modern-day president, say travel experts.”

“Since leaving office in late January, Obama has visited late actor Marlon Brando’s private island; the Four Seasons in Bali — where rooms cost upward of $2,000 per night; a Palm Springs estate; Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island; the exclusive Mid Pacific Country Club in Oahu; the 13th-century Borgo Finocchieto in Tuscany; and the Rising Sun, Hollywood studio mogul David Geffen’s private yacht.”

Many of the destinations mentioned belong to Obama’s friends and associates (Branson, Geffen, and former Ambassador to Italy John Phillips). These were not strictly stays at luxury resorts as much as they were visits with friends. But even if they were conventional vacations, so what? Obama has earned the right to spend his leisure time any way he pleases. It’s his time and his money. The hypocrisy of Fox News to make an issue of this is astonishing. Particularly since they have remained silent about Donald Trump’s lavish expenditures at his luxury golf resorts on the American taxpayer’s dime.

In addition to that made-up non-scandal, Fox News portrayed Obama’s critics as disappointed liberals. However, they failed to document that claim in the article. The only quotes used were conspicuously irrelevant. They included a travel agent of unknown political affiliation, and a socialist from Houston. Even worse, they described the rabidly right-wing Fox News contributor Pat Caddell as a “Democratic strategist.” Caddell pretended to worry that Obama’s trips would offend the Bernie Sanders wing of the party. Fox didn’t bother to ask Bernie Sanders.

The only other citation was one from comedian John Oliver. Fox News used him to assert that “The left-wing media is also worried about Obama’s luxury vacations.” While Oliver did joke about Obama kite-surfing while “America is on fire,” it was at worst gentle mockery. And in any case, it was hardly representative of left-wing media. Fox News offered no examples at all of actual media criticisms of any kind from any source.

To their credit, Fox did include a statement from an anonymous source (really?) defending Obama. What they described only as “a former Obama White House official” gave a brief accounting of Obama’s post-presidency activities:

“One of the first actions after leaving office was to mentor young men from Chicago’s south side who are in a job training program called ‘CRED,’ led by former Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The president also donated $2 million recently to help young people in Chicago get apprenticeships and summer jobs. The president is an avid supporter of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative that aims to improve life outcomes for young men of color.”

That was uncharacteristically fair of Fox. But then they immediately returned to Pat Caddell who declared that “it wasn’t enough.” Caddell went on to ask “When is he going to do anything to help people other than enrich himself?” Of course, that questioned was answered in the prior paragraph. Obama has done many more things that also went unmentioned. And he hasn’t been absent from the political stage either. On his Facebook page he made an in-depth statement about the still pending healthcare debate, saying in part:

“The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. […] Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.”

Obama also made his position on immigration clear through his spokesperson. “The President fundamentally disagrees,” he said, “with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”

The article made a ludicrous comparison between Obama’s post-presidency and that of Carter and the Bushes. But all of them were wealthy before they moved into the White House. This is Obama’s first opportunity to enjoy his good fortune as a private citizen. There is a distinct note of racism in Fox’s attack that suggests that this sort of activity is undeserved for the black guy. They never offered any such criticism of presidents Carter, Reagan, Clinton, or the Bushes. Why is it only Obama who is characterized negatively for hobnobbing with the rich and famous? What exactly is it that makes him different? Can you possibly imagine?

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

Trump Brags About Having Higher Approval Ratings than Obama – In His Warped Imagination

Donald Trump is reportedly holed up at Camp David this weekend. It’s the first time that he’s visited the official presidential retreat since taking office. He prefers to stay at his own luxury golf resorts where taxpayers have to shell out for his lodging. Taxpayers also foot the bill for the dozens of staff and security personnel who accompany him.

Obama Trump

But while at Camp David, Trump still found time for exalting himself on Twitter. He boasted about how well his agenda is doing, despite a record of profound failure. All of his most prominent campaign promises have gone unfulfilled. He has been unable to repeal ObamaCare. There is no hint of a wall along the southern border. Tax reform hasn’t even begun. Terrorism is just as big a problem as ever. His attempts to implement a ban on immigration were repeatedly struck down by federal courts.

The most peculiar tweet of this Sunday morning TwitFit is one that sought to pump up his ego. Yeah, I know that applies to most of his tweets. But this one was more flagrant than most:

First of all, no one regards Rasmussen as an especially reliable survey outfit. They are brazenly biased toward Republicans and conservatives. And their accuracy lies closer to the bottom of the pack. What success they have is only because they often rejigger their findings at the end of a campaign to be more in line with other polls. That improves their averages, but is wholly dishonest. FiveThirtyEight gives them only a C+ rating. Their survey method employs automated phone calls to landlines. Most polling services regard operator-assisted calls as more reliable. And capturing the opinions of cell phone users is a requirement for accurate results.

That said, Trump’s assertion that his fifty percent approval rating is higher than President Obama’s is just plain false. According to Rasmussen’s website, Obama had an approval rating of fifty-five percent at this point in his presidency. During his first five months, Obama got as high as sixty-three percent, and never dropped below fifty-three. Trump, on the other hand, has marked record lows for a president in his first five months. This new personal high of fifty percent comes after an unlikely and unexplained seven point leap in two days.

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

Let’s set aside for the moment the fact that Trump outright lied about beating Obama’s numbers. And also the fact that Rasmussen is overtly biased. The spectacle of Trump getting excited about an approval rating that leaves half the country dissatisfied is kind of pathetic. What’s more, Rasmussen breaks down his numbers to reveal that only thirty-one percent “strongly approve” of Trump while forty-two percent “strongly disapprove” (a net negative index of -11%). Yet this is something that Trump thinks is cause for celebration. That’s the sign of a desperate and delusional man.

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.

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.

The Slacker President: Donald Trump Isn’t Doing His Job, But Sure Likes Whining and Blaming Others

For all of his rancid bluster during the campaign, Donald Trump has proven to be one of the laziest presidents in modern times. Trump demeaned Hillary Clinton as lacking stamina, but on his recent nine day trip overseas he was tuckered out after the second day. And the absence of any signs of productivity are dreadfully – and dangerously – apparent.

Donald Trump

Trump spent Monday morning consumed by one of his favorite pastimes: bloviating on Twitter. But he wasn’t content with insulting our British allies and admitting his executive order on immigration was a ban. He also had to lash out at Democrats in Congress for not confirming his diplomatic nominees:

There is so much wrong with that tweet that it’s hard to know where to begin. First of all, Democrats aren’t obstructing anything. In fact, they can’t. Ambassadors can be confirmed with fifty-one votes, so Republicans don’t need any Democrats. And it’s the GOP that is in control of the Senate calendar. They can schedule hearings and votes whenever they want.

However, the main problem is that Trump isn’t submitting nominees for confirmation. Of 559 key positions needing confirmation, thirty-nine have received it and seventy-eight are pending. But there are 442 posts for which Trump has not put forth a nominee at all. So obviously it’s the Democrats’ fault. And what does Fox and Friends have to do with any of this? Is that just a free ad?

At the beginning of his term, Trump created a boatload of unnecessary vacancies. He summarily dismissed ambassadors and U.S. Attorneys held over from the Obama administration. Even if they were career bureaucrats unaffiliated with party politics. He also fired James Comey, the FBI director and still has not named a replacement. Candidates from across government and the Pentagon are rejecting offers to serve this president. They are either repulsed by his insistence on a loyalty oath, or they are afraid of ruining their careers and reputations by being associated with him.

Given the difficulty he’s facing in assembling his administration, you might think he’d dedicate himself to fulfilling his duties. To the contrary, when he isn’t consumed with Twitter tirades he’s on the golf course. His two dozen golfing excursions in only a dozen weeks have surpassed any of his predecessors. And that’s despite his campaign promise that, if elected “I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf.”

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

It’s that sort of hypocrisy that defines the Trump presidency. But more troubling is that he has demonstrated an aversion to doing any of the hard work required to run the country. And in these volatile times that can expose the U.S. – and the world – to unnecessary peril. Which, of course, he would blame on someone else.

Greatest Witch Hunt in History? Trump Contradicts His Own Statement on Russia Special Counsel

On Wednesday the precarious fate of Donald Trump’s presidency took a turn for the worse. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the President’s connections with Russia. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was tapped for the job. The scope of his inquiry will likely encompass Trump’s campaign and short residency in the White House.

Donald Trump

It’s only been a few hours since this news broke, but that’s all it took for Trump to demonstrate a troubling incoherence on the subject. The first response from the administration was a formal written statement that had an atypical restraint and decorum. It said:

“As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”

Not surprisingly, that composure didn’t last long. Thursday morning Trump must have regained control of his phone and let loose another of his patented Twitter tantrums:

The original White House statement itself was likely written by staff. It lacked Trump’s familiar voice that is generally infused with rage and ego. Nor did it directly address the numerous legal breaches that are expected to comprise the core of the investigation. But it did misstate what was already known about his potential collusion with Russia. And the pretense of Trump looking forward to any of this is manifestly absurd. What’s more, it’s peculiar that Trump is accusing Rosenstein of conducting a witch hunt just a couple of months after appointing him to his current post.

However, Trump’s tweets were much more recognizably consistent with the bitter tone for which he is infamous. He lashes out at any criticism as being a deliberately hostile attack on him. And it isn’t just an unwarranted attack, it’s the worst ever. This charge comes the day after Trump told the graduating class at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that “No politician in history … has been treated worse or more unfairly.”

Needless to say, there have been scores of politicians who have suffered more than Trump. They begin with Abraham Lincoln and continue through to Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. And in Trump’s case, at least he was deserving of the treatment he has been receiving. Ironically, his second tweet was an example of two other politicians who were victims of far worse witch hunts. Hillary Clinton underwent repeated and relentless congressional inquiries into her emails and Benghazi. Yet the Republican led inquisition never produced any evidence of wrongdoing. President Obama was accused of being ineligible of office due to ludicrous assertions that he wasn’t born in the U.S. Trump himself led that witch hunt.

Somebody really needs to check on the President. He might be having a stroke. His tweets flagrantly contradict the official White House response to the special counsel appointment. They indicate that he is not actually looking forward to a “thorough investigation.” Neither does he seem particularly confidant that he will be cleared of the potentially impeachable charges. To the contrary, they suggest the fear of a guilty man who maligns the pursuit of justice. And in desperation he points accusing fingers at others to take attention away from himself. But to be fair, he does have good reason to be worried.

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

Trump vs. ISIS? Wingnut Video On Fox News That Mocks Harvard Students Backfires Terribly

One of the favorite stunts that conservatives use to try to shame liberals is the “man on the street” interview. Generally they purposefully skew the presentation to reflect their preconceived prejudices. Any responses that fail to advance their point of view are left on the editing room floor. Then they release a video with six people who agree with them, but never tell viewers that there were sixteen others who disagreed but were cut out.

fox news trump

This week on Fox and Friends they featured a “reporter,” Cabot Phillips, from the ultra right-wing organization Campus Reform. He visited Harvard University in an effort to expose the alleged liberalism of the students and faculty. The question he asked was “Who is more dangerous to Americans, Donald Trump or ISIS?” Of course, he fully expected to find students who selected Trump, whom he would then try to make look foolish.

Surprise! He found just what he expected. Then, after showing the video (posted below) on Fox News, Phillips sought to explain what could possibly cause these students to have such radical and shocking opinions. He said that:

“It’s from President Obama, who they all look up to. Who for so many years said, “Well, ISIS is the J.V. team. They’re not this real threat. And also it’s from professors and the media who are again constantly saying “Look, Donald Trump is the real threat here,” and trying to shield their eyes from actual threats.”

That analysis was wholly constructed from his over-active imagination. Nowhere in the video did any student attribute their views to either Obama or their professors. And Phillips didn’t bother to interview any of the faculty to ascertain their views. What’s more, while Obama did once try to marginalize ISIS as a J.V. team, he also spent years outlining precisely the peril they pose. More importantly, he attacked them relentlessly, killing thousands of their operatives, including many of their leaders.

However, what was most conspicuous about the video was the fact that the students who said Trump was more dangerous had good reasons for thinking so. One of the students spelled it out saying that:

“Do I think ISIS is going to cause a threat to me living my everyday life? Not really. Do I think the rhetoric that Donald Trump is using and empowering these folks hidden in a corner for a long time with hateful views … do I think that’s more of a threat than ISIS? Yes.”

Indeed, Trump has done more for hate groups in America who espouse prejudice and violence than any President before him. It is not coincidental that the KKK and white supremacists uniformly endorsed Trump and worked to get him elected. Trump’s rhetoric during his campaign and presidency has encouraged America’s bigots and increased the number of hate crimes. African-Americans, gays, Muslims, Latinos, and Jews have all been victimized in greater numbers in the Era of Trump.

The harassment and assaults that Trump has inspired have a much more direct impact on the safety of Americans. That doesn’t diminish the horror of terrorist activity by ISIS. It’s just a fact. It is not, therefore, the least bit surprising that people consider Trump more to be dangerous with respect to their personal lives.

A study by the CATO Institute last year revealed the relative dangers of common occurrences. Death by foreign terrorists came in 34th out of forty-eight items. Activities more likely than terrorism to be fatal included walking, choking on food, and police encounters. You are 260 times more likely to be struck and killed by lightning than by terrorists. You’re 129,000 times more likely to die in a gun assault.

Not mentioned in this video were risks posed by Trump’s actual policies. The president’s erratic behavior makes him a poor choice to be in charge of the nuclear codes. And his anti-environment stance could result in millions of lives lost due to famine, drought, extreme weather events and war.

Taking a logical approach to the question, it’s clear that Trump is potentially far more dangerous to America and the world than ISIS. He commands a much bigger military with far greater resources. The video is a blatantly partisan sham by conservative activists. Campus Reform is a project of the uber-rightist Leadership Institute that receives much of their funding from the Koch brothers. Their alumni includes hacks like Mitch McConnell, James O’Keefe, Ralph Reed, Karl Rove, and even Vice-President Mike Pence. That’s a fraternal order that speaks volumes as to their political and ideological mission. And it’s why Fox News devotes segments to their lies on a regular basis.

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

The Fox News ‘Blame Obama’ Fetish Is in Full Effect with Lame Accusations About Syria

The media is once again falling for the meme of the moment on Donald Trump rather than producing thoughtful analysis. Just two months ago they flocked to praise his “presidential” demeanor during a speech before a joint session of Congress. They characterized it as a profound shift in personality. Of course, the next day Trump proved them all wrong as he reverted to his standard childishness and bluster.

Obama Fox News

Now, in the wake of his missile strikes in Syria, much of the media is at it again. They portray this as evidence of Trump’s evolution into the job of president. But it’s just another knee-jerk reaction that ignores both facts and history. Donald Trump can surely be depended on to act brashly and without consideration tomorrow or the next day. and the worst offender, as usual, is Fox News.

The network that serves as Trump’s PR division has gone out of its way to blame President Obama for the problems in Syria. Rather than assigning blame to Bashir al-Assad, the brutal dictator who gasses his own people, Fox News points their bony fingers at Obama. Here are some examples of the well coordinated assault on our former president:

Bill O’Reilly: President Trump is going to have much different foreign policy than President Obama’s “strategy of retreat.”

Sean Hannity: “Instead of weakness, we now have strength. […] Timidity has been replaced by bold action.”

Charles Krauthammer: “There is a new sheriff in town. There was an absence for eight years. America is back.”

Ted Cruz: “The honest answer is there’s no good answer to Syria right now after eight years of Obama’s broken red lines and weakness.

The problem with all of these displays of Obama Derangement Syndrome is that they fail to represent reality. President Obama took a hard stand against Syria and produced some real, albeit temporary, results. The famous “red line” remarks were followed up by an agreement that removed hundreds of tons of chemical weapons from Syria. The fact that some may have remained, or were re-acquired four years later, doesn’t diminish the magnitude of that achievement.

What’s more, Obama also ordered retaliatory bombing in Syria. At the time, conservative pundits and politicians castigated him for it, despite his having obtained pre-approval from Congress. Obama delivered a message to the American people that Fox News et al have apparently forgotten:

Trump was among those who criticized Obama’s actions in Syria. In fact, Trump repeatedly bashed Obama and insisted that it would be a mistake to engage with Syria at all. Now Obama is being falsely criticized for having done nothing, even though that’s what his critics wanted him to do. It’s a twisted logic that only right-wing partisans can comprehend.

It should also not be forgotten that Trump presciently unveiled what may be the real reason for his Syrian aggression. In yet another swipe at Obama, Trump tweeted this:

For the record, Trump’s numbers are in a death spiral. In just three months he has managed to sink lower in approval than any president before him. Could it be that now he is just taking his won desperate advice?

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