Tiananmen Square on the Potomac: Protesters Vow to Disrupt Trump’s Military (Circus) Parade

America’s most brazenly authoritarian president continues to affirm that he craves nothing more than unbridled adoration and endless tributes to himself. That is the only explanation for his latest initiative to embarrass the nation. Trump’s proposal for a military parade has already attracted opposition from both Republicans and Democrats. And for good reason.

Trump Doo-Dah

The parade that Trump is proposing is exactly the sort of thing that his heroes in Russia and North Korea stage for their own splendiferous glory. And if they can have a parade, Trump is damn sure that he should have one too. An even bigger and better charade …er, parade… to honor his presidential bone spurs. Never mind the cost to the military; or the disruption from training and readiness; or the necessary projects that would suffer from lack of funding; or the expense of repaving streets in Washington that get torn up by tanks.

Well, it didn’t take long for the “resistance” to organize a response to this idiotic idea. The Wrap is reporting that:

Dozens of protesters are planning to disrupt President Donald Trump’s planned military parade in Washington, D.C., vowing to lie in front of tanks to keep them from moving.

“We now have nearly 50 Americans who have signed on to lay in front of the tanks of Trump brings out a military parade,” activist Arn Menconi wrote on Wednesday in a gesture he said was inspired by the Chinese pro-democracy protesters who made history during the 1989 demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

This would be a profoundly moving and meaningful demonstration that would fittingly shame Trump (if that’s even possible) and tie him to the traditions of the dictators who inspire him. At the very least it would piss him off terribly.

In addition to this righteous protest, I would suggest another parade the day before Trump’s. It should be a Doo-Dah style affair with satirical marchers that would mock Trump’s ego-fluffing circus stunt. I see elephants and jugglers and the Hair Club for Men Marching Comb-over Brass Band. Now THAT would be fun.

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

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Attack of the Democratic AGs: Fox News Freaks Out Over ‘Swarm’ of Trump Lawsuits

There is a lot going on in the world right now. The stock market is roiled in historic volatility. Donald Trump is being investigated for colluding with Russia and obstruction of justice (among other crimes). The government is facing another possible shutdown hinging on Trump’s insistence on building a useless border wall and punishing immigrants who were brought here as children. But this is what Fox News regards as the big story of the day, featuring it at the top of their website:

Fox News

The article predictably puts Democrats in a negative light, casting them as obstructionists who simply want to monkey wrench Donald Trump’s sincere efforts to make America great again. It begins…

“Nancy Pelosi. Chuck Schumer. The Russia probe. The “deep state.” Of all the obstacles that could potentially thwart the Trump agenda, add to that tempest the flood of lawsuits now being plotted by blue-state attorneys general who have made no secret of their disdain for the administration’s policies.”

So Fox News is asserting that Democratic leaders and the GOP-appointed special counsel are aligned in a “deep state” conspiracy to undermine the President. With partisan-charged rhetoric like “thwart,” “tempest,” “flood,” and “plotted,” Fox News makes its biases clear. And they seem to be surprised that “blue-state attorneys general” have political differences with the extremist agenda of Trump and his blindly obedient Republican comrades.

The article also characterizes the work of the Democratic AGs as purely partisan, rather than inspired by their Democratic principles. Fundraising and campaigning takes up a fair amount of space in the column. But most of all the author focuses on the “sheer volume” of multistate lawsuits (35 so far) that have been filed against the Trump administration. Near the end of the article it finally acknowledges that “Republican attorneys general brought 46 multistate legal challenges” during the Obama administration. Although that was for the full eight years.

If there are any reasons to justify an increase in lawsuits currently, it’s because Trump and his cohorts are so determined to violate the law. In so many areas of his government, this president continues to prove his disdain for the law. It infects almost every cabinet department. And the GOP-run Congress refuses to conduct any oversight. That’s why it has been necessary for Democrats to respond by going to court. The issues span ObamaCare, DACA, Muslim bans, the environment, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, student loans, network neutrality, fracking and offshore drilling, transgender troops, civil and voting rights, and many more.

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

If anything, it’s surprising that there haven’t been even more lawsuits. There surely will be as time goes by. Trump continues to break laws related to his businesses. He is still profiting from his presidency. And many of his cabinet secretaries are doing the same. That is, the ones that haven’t already been forced out in scandal and disgrace. And yet, the only thing that Fox thinks is newsworthy about this is that honest public servants are working hard to do something about Trump’s lawlessness. Meanwhile, Fox couldn’t care less about the lawlessness itself.


Footnote-in-Mouth Disease: Nunes Admits FBI Disclosed Political Data to FISA Court

Last Friday Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, unveiled his super-hyped FISA memo. He promised it would expose the FBI as a conspirator in the “deep state” cabal to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency. The fallacy that he floated rested on the premise that the FBI misled the FISA court by omitting material facts.

Devin Nunes

Specifically, Nunes charged that FBI investigators obtained a FISA warrant to wiretap former Trump advisor Carter Page based on the infamous Steele dossier. But, according to Nunes, they withheld the fact that the dossier was partly funded by Democrats associated with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Indeed, part of the funding came from the Clinton camp, but the dossier was originally financed by the conservative website, Washington Free Beacon. Nunes always seems to leave that out when this subject comes up. In his memo he wrote that:

“Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior and FBI officials.”

Setting aside the blatant partisan omissions by Nunes, there is an even bigger problem with that statement. As it turns out, the FBI’s warrant applications did contain information about the “political origins of the Steele dossier.” And the source for that fact was none other than Devin Nunes. In an interview on Fox News (of all places) he had this exchange with co-host Brian Kilmeade (video below):

Kilmeade: There was some acknowledgement that this was a political document – meaning the dossier – in a footnote at the bottom of the FISA warrant. What can you tell us about that?
Nunes: A footnote saying something may be political is a far cry from letting the American people know that the Democrats and the Hillary campaign paid for dirt that the FBI then used to get a warrant on an American citizen to spy on another campaign.

First of all, a footnote disclosing precisely what Nunes said was never disclosed proves that Nunes was deliberately lying in his memo. Footnotes are not trivialities meant to be dismissed. They are notations with additional information of interest. The fact that Nunes tried to hide their existence reveals his dishonest intent. Secondly, a footnote in a classified application to the FISA Court was never meant to be a communication to the American people. So the FBI wasn’t hiding that data, they were complying with the law. Finally, the warrant wasn’t used to spy on another campaign. It was used to monitor Carter Page who was no longer with the Trump campaign at the time the warrant was issued.

Later in the same Fox and Friends interview, Nunes accused committee Democrats of being the source of “more than a hundred leaks,” but he refused to provide any evidence for the accusation. He also asserted that Democrats have come up with “goose eggs” on whether Trump colluded with Russia. This is a common theme among Republicans. But they seem to be oblivious to the fact that whatever evidence exists is in the hands of special counsel Robert Mueller, and he isn’t talking.

All of this is further proof of the bad faith smears orchestrated by Nunes and his GOP henchmen. As usual, the more facts that emerge about any pseudo-scandal trumped up by Republicans, the more they are exposed as shameless liars. And in this case it was Nunes himself who drew back the curtain on his own dishonesty. Ironic, isn’t it?

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


The Trump Stock Market Meltdown: Make No Mistake, This is Trump’s Fault

The Stock Market closed down today by more than 1,100 points. That would make it almost 2,000 points lower in the last three days. This is the worst decline in over two years. And it totally belongs to Donald Trump.

Donald Trump

For the past year Trump has been bragging about the performance of the stock market and taking credit for its rise. That was a pretty stupid thing to do given the vast array of influences on the market and its volatility. Particularly when we have been stretching out the second longest bull market in history.

Three weeks ago, while stocks were still rising, I wrote an article warning that Trump’s bragging would come back to “Bite Him in His Sh*thole Country.” The article said in part that…

“It’s always dangerous to rely on stock market performance to validate the economy. There are too many factors that can shift investor sentiment. It is a fluid indicator that could reverse course tomorrow. Indeed, many stock analysts regard the market’s current position as overvalued. These analysts are predicting a ‘correction’ that could send the markets down significantly.”

But Trump continued to boast about numbers that he obviously knows nothing about. And now the market is trending lower as if to mock the President’s arrogance. But it needs to be noted that there are tangible reasons why Trump is to blame for this sell off. Many economists are citing something that Trump regards as one of his greatest (only?) accomplishments. And even Trump himself raised it during his speech in Ohio today. When he wasn’t accusing Democrats of “treason” for not applauding him at the State of the Union address, he said this:

The tax cuts that Trump was obsessed with were never a good idea. Their benefits were heavily slanted toward corporations and the wealthy. But they were also an unnecessary stimulus to an economy that was already overheated. That was all that Wall Street needed to justify dumping stocks whose valuations were out of sync with reality. His tax bill also produced new debt in excess of $1.5 trillion. That makes investors nervous about rising inflation and interest rates.

Finally, when an economic stimulus is used at a time when it isn’t needed, that means that it won’t be available in the future when it might actually be useful. So investors are looking forward to a future market correction, or even a bear market, and the government will have no tools to respond or mitigate the damage. Therefore, many are getting out now and moving their assets into safer investments or cash. And none of this would be happening were it not for the greed and ignorance of Donald Trump and his allies in Congress.

Trump’s relentless bragging about the market when it was up presents an interesting problem for him. Who will he blame for the decline? He got exactly what he wanted with the tax bill, which received no Democratic votes. There is no one other than himself to which this can be attributed. Of course, that won’t stop him from inventing some culprit to point his bony fingers at. His narcissism is all-consuming and his GOP supporters still seem unwilling to put their country above their noxious party. So be prepared for more scapegoating as Trump continues to panic and his fear drives him further into desperation.

UPDATE: And that didn’t take long. Sean Hannity is blaming Obama for the Trump Meltdown.

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


Confederacy of Morons: Trump Thanks Fox and Friends for Funneling Him Another Blatant Lie

It’s Monday morning and Donald Trump is deeply embedded in his ritual of “Executive Time,” stretched out with last night’s cheeseburger and his (not very) smart phone. As usual, he is glued to his daily so-called “intelligence” briefing from the “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends, who are his most trusted advisers on pretty much every issue. What could possibly go wrong?

Fox News

The crew at Fox News prepared a lengthy report on alleged problems with Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). They invited ultra-rightist British politician, and Fox News contributor, Nigel Farage, in for a well-scripted segment bashing universal healthcare (video below). The apparent inspiration for these eight minutes of unadulterated hogwash was a report that thousands of protesters took to the streets of London to express their dissatisfaction with the U.K.’s health care system. And our TV-addicted president was paying close attention. He tweeted that:

And giving credit where credit is due, Trump shortly after acknowledged his pals at Fox and Friends for enlightening him:

You have to wonder why Trump sounds “soooo much” like a thirteen year old girl when he tweets. But more to the point, you should wonder why he is soooo oblivious to the truth. The President, following his marching orders from Fox News, completely misunderstood the British rallies. The people were, in fact, protesting the Conservative government that has been cutting funding to the NHS and curtailing services. The marchers were in favor of their universal healthcare and were demanding that the NHS be properly funded. British leaders, including the Conservative Party Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, lashed out at Trump’s ignorance:

The Farage interview on Fox News brazenly lied about the purpose of the demonstrations and the state of British health care. And to make matters worse, Farage went to great lengths to blame what he alleged were problems on immigrants:

“The National Health Service has turned into the International Health Service and we’re providing a lot of healthcare for people coming into Britain from all over the world.”

True to form, Fox News is seeking to make immigrants the cause of every problem that rich, pseudo-patriotic, white, Christianists suffer through. Whether it be the supposed hoards invading the U.K., or the imaginary masses streaming into the U.S. across the Rio Grande. Foreigners always seem to be the cause of whatever these bigots happen to be upset about at any given time. And America’s first TV game show president buys into it and spreads his diseased ignorance to the glassy-eyed disciples who worship him. it’s a closed loop of hate and stupidity that feeds off of itself.

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


The Desperate Fox News Effort to Spin the Nunes Memo is a Pretty Bogus ‘Bombshell’

The Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Devin Nunes, spent the last couple of weeks alleging that he had proof of an all-consuming, “deep state” conspiracy to destroy Donald Trump. He didn’t. But that didn’t stop him from beating the drum for partisan drivel that was giddily embraced by many of his GOP colleagues, as well as the conservative media echo chamber.

Not surprisingly, Fox News was the first, and most enthusiastic, torch carrier for the overblown hype that Nunes was peddling. Take a look at how they presented the “news” announcing the memo’s release:

Fox News

Okay, that last one in the bottom-right was from Saturday Night Live, but even they have better journalistic ethics than Fox News does. The others are from Fox’s primetime Trump-fluffers Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, and Saturday’s pitiful wannabe propagandist, Jesse Watters. And what they all have in common is the compulsion to characterize the super-dud Nunes memo as a “Bombshell.”

Let’s be clear, the memo fell as flat as the Earth that Fox’s science deniers are perpetually squawking about. It failed utterly to prove any of the allegations its authors and promoters had put forward. In fact, it literally proved the case made by Democrats that the FISA court’s granting of a surveillance warrant for Trump flunky Carter Page had nothing to do with the Russia investigation or the work of special counsel Robert Mueller. If anything, that was the “bombshell” produced by the memo. And even several Republicans who sit on the Intelligence Committee agree. As reported by Talking Points Memo:

  • Trey Gowdy (R-TN): “I actually don’t think it is has any impact on the Russia probe.”
  • Brad Wenstrup (R-OH): “I don’t think it really has anything to do with” Mueller’s probe.
  • Chris Stewart (R-UT): “This memo has frankly nothing at all to do with a special counsel.”
  • Will Hurd (R-TX): “I don’t believe this is an attack on Bob Mueller.”

None of these Republican members of Nunes’ committee agree with Nunes. Nor do they agree with Trump’s deranged tweet that the Nunes Memo “totally vindicates” him. The measure of psychosis that Trump displays by his narcissistic self-delusion is off the scale. And therefore, so is the hyperbolic, pro-Trump editorializing of the well-orchestrated Fox News “bombshell” amen chorus. They can’t even tell the truth when their own side is dismissing the vacuous memorandum (with an emphasis on the “dumb”).

And don’t expect the designated media expert of Fox News, Howard Kurtz, to set the record straight. He is currently promoting his new book, Media Madness, that is a right-wing take on how much the media allegedly hates Donald Trump. (To be accurate, it isn’t just the media. It’s the vast majority of Americans, but that’s another subject). One of the reasons that Kurtz’s book has rocketed up to #710 on Amazon is that he is undoubtedly the worst media analyst in the business. In one of his recent book tour appearances on Fox News (of course) he said that…

“There is something about Donald Trump, the candidate and now the president, where many journalists and commentators believe they have some kind of mission to save the country from an erratic president. And that’s not journalism.”

Actually, that absolutely is journalism. Kurtz apparently thinks that the mission of the media is to be an obedient lap dog that serves no purpose other than presidential stenography. But the Founding Fathers put a unique protection in the Constitution for freedom of the press specifically because it is sometimes required to take positions that will offend the powerful. It is the duty of the press to alert citizens when their leaders are corrupt, lying, treasonous, ignorant, and even erratic. And it’s all the more critical when we have a president who is all of the above. That is, without a doubt, a real bombshell that is ready to blow bigly.

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

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The Illness That is Sean Hannity is Infectious and Has Spread to the Trump White House

The release of the infamous “Nunes Memo” may have been the worst anti-climax since O.J. Simpson’s promise to “find the real killer.” (Like Trump, Simpson spent most of his time searching on a golf course in Florida). The memo was supposed to crush special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Donald Trump’s connections to Russia and its interference in the presidential election. But the actual document was about as revealing as a stripper in a concrete burka. (See this breakdown of the Nunes embarrassment).

Donald Trump Sean Hannity

But leave it to Sean Hannity, the Chief Trump-fluffer of Fox News, to continue trying to peddle the pitiful prattle after its public fizzling. Hannity, practicing total abstinence from reality, opened his Friday night program with a monologue that future psychology textbooks will include to illustrate complete cognitive failure (video below).

Hannity isn’t content to simply spin what he incredulously calls the “FISA Abuse Memo” into one his typical pro-Trump rants. Not this time. His spittle-inflected delivery features unsupported hyperbolic nonsense like “shocking” and “stunning” and “the biggest abuse of power corruption case in American history.” Hannity’s unhinged tirade asserts that he has…

“…irrefutable proof of a coordinated conspiracy to abuse power by weaponizing and politicizing the powerful tools of intelligence by top-ranking Obama officials against the Trump campaign, against the Constitution, and against your Fourth Amendment rights.”

Holy hallucination, Batman. The only thing we have irrefutable proof of is that Hannity scored some wicked acid. His wind-tunnel of wingnutisms continued with hoary references to the “Deep State,” “unelected bureaucrats,” “undermin[ing] a duly elected president,” and the baseless contention that the memo “proves that the entire basis for the Russia investigation was based on lies that were bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton and her campaign.” And Hannity’s closer was an impotent demand that “The Mueller investigation does need to be shut down. And the people involved – who we will name tonight – many need to go to jail.”

All of that was all that Donald Trump needed to make a painfully misinformed analysis of his legal jeopardy. He tweeted that “This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe.” Notice the sarcastic quotes around his own “alleged” name:

Notice also that Trump – he of the best words – misuses “their,” capitalizes incoherently, and makes the delusional pronouncement that “collusion is dead.” That’s exactly what he said about ObamaCare, which enjoyed record-setting sign-ups last year, despite his attempts at sabotage. What’s more, even arch-conservative Benghazi inquisitionist, Trey Gowdy, flatly disagrees with Trump on the matter of vindication, tweeting that “The contents of this memo do not – in any way – discredit [Mueller’s] investigation.”

Hannity’s harangue was just the latest evidence of how he exercises influence with our TV-addicted president. Trump’s reliance on the counsel he gets from Fox News, whether it be Hannity, “judge” Jeanine Pirro, or the “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends, is unshakable. He assigns greater authority to their inane ravings than to all of the available intelligence that he has at hand as Commander-in-Chief. Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng documented this mental disconnect in their article for Salon, saying in part that:

“…by all indications, the president is less amenable to the concerns of his own FBI than those shared by a less formal, more bombastic adviser. That adviser is Sean Hannity, who has been hyping the so-called Nunes memo all week, and with whom the president continues to speak regularly.

“According to three sources with knowledge of their conversations, Trump has been in regular contact with Hannity over the phone in recent weeks, as the Fox News prime-time star and Trump ally has encouraged the prompt release of a controversial four-page memo crafted by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. […] Sources say Hannity’s persistent advocacy reinforced Trump’s already growing determination to get that memo into the public realm.”

Having succeeded at publicly embarrassing everyone connected to that memo, Trump tapped out the tweet noted above. His confidence in the mental midgets of Fox News appears to even override that of his own gaggle of lawyers, who are not well regarded or considered to be especially competent in the law. Particularly when compared to the legal superstars assembled by Robert Mueller. Trump is setting up a title fight for his life wherein he has put all his money on the likes of Sean Hannity. It’s going to be a massacre that will be both painful and beautiful to watch.

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


Donald Trump is Right: ‘People Should Be Ashamed.’ Especially Trump, Nunes, and the GOP

The long-anticipated public unveiling of the highly partisan and corruptly biased “Nunes Memo” is finally out. And it proves nothing but the bad faith and desperation of congressional Republicans and Donald Trump who authorized its release. There is little of substance to arrive at any conclusions that the government abused its power or acted improperly. In fact, it reflects more negatively on its authors than anyone else.

Donald Trump

The entire Nunes Memo was published and is available for anyone to review. Trump has already had his say in a brief media encounter, where he whined that “A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves, and much worse than that.” He’s actually right, although not in the way he thinks. The embarrassment will fall on Trump himself, and his comrades in the Republican Party. This is a transparently political act intended to undermine the special counsel’s investigation of Trump and his treasonous, Russia-loving associates. Shockingly, it’s Trump who is attempting to accuse his own hand-picked FBI and Department of Justice leadership with “unthinkable” politicization. On Friday morning prior to the memo’s release he tweeted:

The Nunes Memo is a logical mess in addition to being patently dishonest. It outlines five points that its authors regard as salient to their argument that America’s top law enforcement institutions are engaged in a “deep state” conspiracy against Trump. It’s hopelessly partisan and bereft of independent affirmation. What follows is a summary, with annotations, of the five points:

1) The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application.

Nunes is aghast that information was allegedly withheld from the FISA Court, but he’s the one leaving out facts. For instance, the fact that the Steele dossier was originally funded by a conservative media outlet, The Free Beacon. Also, Nunes refuses to allow a Democratic response to his memo to be made public.

2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow.

Nunes asserts that the FISA application “cited extensively” on an article by Yahoo’s Isikoff. What Nunes is not disclosing is what else the application cited. In fact, the FISA application is still classified. However, in Isikoff’s article he refers to “multiple sources.” So Steele’s dossier was not the sole evidence presented to the FISA court:

“U.S. intelligence officials are seeking to determine whether an American businessman identified by Donald Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials — including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the issue.”

Another thing unaddressed by Nunes et al, is that the FISA court never relies on a single source of evidence. He is insulting this court by implying that they would be fooled by a partisan document and wouldn’t seek further testimony before issuing a warrant. And for the record, the FISA judges are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court – a Republican.

3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. [and that] Steele “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.”

So what? Does Nunes think that someone conducting opposition research would be a supporter of the target of the research? Steele’s opinions about Trump in no way impact any factual data that he uncovers. That’s also true with regard to FBI employees and other law enforcement personnel.

4) According to the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application. […] Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.

The “infancy” or maturity of the dossier’s verification is utterly irrelevant to the FISA court. They are not finding guilt or innocence, but merely justification for proceeding with an investigation. And it’s interesting that Nunes asserts something that McCabe told Congress in closed hearings, but doesn’t provide a direct quote. It’s just his interpretation without any necessary context. McCabe’s testimony could have been quite different and Nunes is purposefully misrepresenting it, which he has been known to do.

5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation.

This may be the most significant item in the Nunes memo. It’s affirming that the FISA court’s warrant wasn’t even the instigation for the investigation into Trump’s connections to Russia during and after his campaign. Therefore, everything that Nunes is complaining about in all of what precedes this part of the memo is irrelevant. Even if the entire phony controversy over Page’s surveillance was excised from the investigation it would have negligible impact on the outcome.

This whole charade is just another effort by Trump and Republicans to deflect from, and discredit, Robert Mueller and others looking into Trump’s criminal activities. But it’s such a weak attempt it hardly requires a reply. It is brazenly biased and fails to make a single point that it alleges. And it’s further proof that these cretins are more interested in protecting Putin and Russia and those who are colluding with them, than with respect for the law and the welfare of the nation. And the perpetrators of this fraud will surely regret it when the truth comes out. #MuellerTime

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


Totally Nuts: Trump Says His State of the Union Ratings Were ‘The Highest Number in History’

This is getting so far beyond ridiculous. The compulsion that Donald Trump has to lie about virtually anything cannot be regarded as merely self-interest or ignorance. This is a sickness. He lies about things that have no particular benefit to him; things that are easily fact-checked; things that are only designed to feed his gargantuan and diseased ego.

Donald Trump

The latest in a collection of literally thousands of lies came in the form of (surprise) a tweet about his State of the Union address. There was a curiously long absence by the President on Twitter (72 hours) prior to this posting. So it looked for a while like he had been kidnapped by the “deep state” or had his phone confiscated by the Secret Service. But on Thursday morning he reappeared to deliver this unadulterated bullshit:

Certainly Trump enjoyed all of the nice compliments and reviews he received from his usual pack of sycophants (Fox and Friends, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, Breitbart). And just as surely he saw none of the objective analyses that reported his bland, ultra-partisan delivery and documented his lies. But Trump’s claim that the audience for his speech was “the highest number in history” was so completely deranged it’s hard to imagine that he’s allowed dress himself or use sharp utensils.

According to Nielsen, Trump’s audience wasn’t anywhere near the highest ever. His seventh place showing was an embarrassing loss to his perennial nemeses Bill Clinton and Barack Obama (twice each). No matter how hard he tries to rise above these objects of his loathing, he continually falls short. Here is Nielsen’s chart of ratings for historical State of the Union addresses:

Date Rating Viewers President
2/17/1993 44.3 66,900,000 Clinton
1/28/2003 38.8 62,061,000 G. W. Bush
1/27/1998 37.2 53,077,000 Clinton
2/24/2009* 32.5 52,373,000 Obama
1/29/2002 33.6 51,773,000 G.W. Bush
1/27/2010 29.8 48,009,595 Obama
2/28/2017* 28.7 47,741,000 Trump

Trump is correct that Fox News beat the other networks. But why that is notable escapes me. Trump’s glassy-eyed disciples are glued to Fox News and dependent on its Big Brotherly guidance. They wouldn’t watch the Trump Show anywhere else. And naturally, Trump’s reality TV fans are the most likely to tune into his lie-fest.

It should be noted that while Trump suffered this poor historical showing in the SOTU ratings race, Rachel Maddow was beating the pants off of Sean Hannity. Her MSNBC program was the number one cable news show for the month of January, 2018. She scored solid victories for three of the four weeks in both the key 25-54 year old demo and total viewers, and double-digit year-over-year gains. Meanwhile, Fox News declined by fourteen and eighteen percent, respectively, in those same metrics.

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

That’s encouraging evidence that thoughtful, well-researched and reasoned discourse can prevail over rancorous conspiracy theorizing and hate speech. Not to mention that the toxic and tedious lies that Fox News and Donald Trump peddle are clearly wearing thin. And it’s only February. Hopefully this is an indicator of what’s to come.


Rachel Maddow Swamps Hannity to Become the #1 Cable News Show for January 2018

Last September Fox News moved Sean Hannity’s program to 9:00pm to compete directly with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. Looking back they might not consider that a particularly smart decision. Hannity is Fox’s highest rated program, but it consistently comes up second to Maddow, which must be a painful embarrassment. And the first month of 2018 was almost all Maddow’s

Rachel Maddow Sean Hannity

The first week that Hannity aired in Maddow’s time period he looked pretty good. Of course he front-loaded the show with high profile guests including Fox favorites like Steve Bannon, Bill O’Reilly, and Rush Limbaugh. He certainly wasn’t going to keep that up. But it was enough to get Donald Trump to retweet his son Eric bragging…

It was mostly downhill from there. In January Maddow outperformed Hannity, and all other cable news programs, in the key audience demographic of 25-54 year olds. She averaged 677,000 viewers to Hannity’s 636,000. She scored solid victories for three of the four weeks in both the key demo and total viewers. The last week of the month Hannity staged a bit of comeback as he ramped up his wild-eyed, conspiracy theory rhetoric. But by month’s end Maddow still had a higher average rating than Hannity.

What’s more, MSNBC was the only cable news network to see ratings gains year-over-year. They grew in total prime time viewers more than sixty-one percent, and in total day viewers more than fifty-five percent. Meanwhile, Fox News declined fourteen percent and eighteen, respectively, in those same metrics.

It would be an understatement to call Hannity’s deranged broadcasts “over the top.” He repeatedly assailed the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller as corrupt agents of the “deep state” who were acting on behalf of a “secret society.” These were deliberate attempts to smear those investigating Trump’s unsavory relationships with Russia. Hannity’s rants derailed with repetitious hyperbole such as…

  • “…the biggest scandal in American history.”
  • “…never seen in American history.”
  • “One of the biggest political scandals in modern U.S. history.”
  • “…far bigger than Watergate.”
  • “…makes Watergate look like stealing a Snickers bar.”
  • “This is Watergate on steroids and human growth hormones.”

No doubt this nonsense will play well among Hannity’s dimwitted viewers and the glassy-eyed disciples of Donald Trump. Hannity is striving to steal the mantle of right-wing kook from Alex Jones. And his guests are often more tightly wound than he is.

This strategy could pay off over time because so much of the conservative audience has a an affinity for tabloid melodrama and unrealistic political soap operas. They like nothing better than the wingnut version of Housewives of Washington, D.C., mixed with some Duck Dynasty doofusness, and a healthy dose of white nationalism. You know, the makings of the average Trump voter. And Hannity is serving it up by the shovel-full.

Time will tell if Maddow’s thoughtful, well-reasoned, fact-based brand of intelligent discourse will continue to best Hannity’s Lowbrow Racist Hour. But it’s encouraging to see how successful she has been against competition that was considered unbeatable a year ago.

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