Trump’s Goals in the War on the Media

Since the time of George Washington, Presidents have been unhappy with the media. Every President has felt that they have been treated unfairly, and every President has responded in negative ways.In this sense, Trump is no different than his predecessors.

But Trump, with the help of others (notably Steve Bannon) has taken his disregard of the press to new levels. Even though many members of the media are completely supporting Trump, he has declared the media (clearly only those that don’t support him) the “enemy of the American people”.  He threatens to pull their licenses if they say bad things about him. He has also repeatedly called for revisions of the Nation’s libel laws so as to prevent members of the media from speaking out.

His short term goal is intimidation. By using the strongest language and the strongest threats, he hopes to cower as many members of the press as possible into self-censorship. But that plan alone isn’t working. In fact, multiple media outlets are vying to earn Trump’s “Fake News” awards.

But in a more insidious way, Trump is actually waging war on the US Constitution. His real goal is the elimination of a free press, replacing it with one that is loyal to him. We know that he’s fond of the Second Amendment, but he is clearly not so fond of the First Amendment. His criticisms of the press are thinly veiled dog whistles to signal his loyal Stormtroopers to take actions – legal and illegal – to silence his critics.

With Nixon it was an “enemies list”. But with Trump, is more akin to a “hit list”. Journalists have been paying for their reporting with their lives in other countries for years – especially in places like Russia and Mexico. Soon it will be occurring in the United States.

When Trump wages war on the First Amendment, he wages war on the key to the freedoms we all hold dear. His way is the path to totalitarianism. His attempts to suppress the rights of a free press must be stopped. All members of both political parties must speak up. Now.

 

Bannon’s New Plan

Steve Bannon is not stupid. So why did he say that the meeting taken by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and a number of Russians was “unpatriotic” and “treasonous”? Bannon knows that Donald Trump is loyal first to his family (after himself of course) before anyone else, and that getting into a fight vs. the family would lead to Trump savaging him.  And it played out as Bannon expected – although Trump may have been a little bit harsher than Bannon had hoped.

The past 24 hours have seen a significant (and predictable) backlash against Bannon from the Trump camp and his supporters. Although many tea-party types have tried to avoid taking sides, the vast majority of those who have done so have sided with Trump.

What Steve Bannon did was no accident. Nor is he making apologies for anything he said. So what is Bannon’s plan? Its simple – he plans to be a survivor in the coming bloodbath so he can regain his former glory and power – with or without Trump.

Bannon knows what’s coming, and he’s trying to get ahead of it. He has a huge amount of power due to the fact that he wasn’t involved in the Russian skulduggery. He knows that large numbers of the Trump team are guilty of collusion/treason and that Robert Mueller will soon indict them. This certainly includes Flynn, Manafort, Don Jr., Kushner, and numerous small fry. The only unknowns are whether Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump will also be named. And when Mueller does indict, the evidence will be so thorough, so well documented, and so complete, that all but the most loyal Trumpians will have to get onboard.

Once this all comes about (and it may not be far away), Donald Trump will be damaged to the core. Nobody knows at this point whether his Presidency will survive. But either way, Steve Bannon will be OK. Either Trump will survive, in which case he will need an untainted senior advisor whom he trusts (re-enter Bannon), or he won’t survive, in which case Bannon goes back to playing his long game at Breitbart, reels in the disaffected Trump people, and waits for the next opportunity.

Either way he avoids going down with the ship. And his plan will probably work. But it will be messy.

 

The Destruction Caused by Fake News

The founding fathers placed a large amount of faith in the freedom of the press – that’s why it’s the first amendment to the US Constitution. And they knew that having a free press meant that there would be many different voices speaking many different – and often conflicting – messages. It has been so since the founding of the Country.

But today we have entered into an era in which fake news has become a threat to the continuation of our democracy. There are numerous purveyors of intentional lies that are designed to divide and weaken America. The primary source of these lies is Russia. Putin has created an army of trolls that creates fake news stories with the goal of meddling in the fabric of American democracy, pitting us against one another in an attempt to weaken us.

The Russians don’t necessarily care about American politics, as long as our politicians don’t care about them. But when they find politicians that take strong anti-Russian stands, they do everything they can to destroy those “enemies”. One of those enemies was Hillary Clinton, so the Russians did what they could to weaken her. Of course, in Trump they had a willing partner who was happy to collude in order to win. In helping Donald Trump, they also assisted a number of other Republicans in close races.

But the Russians didn’t do it alone. They worked through proxies in ways that magnified and spread their misinformation. Those proxies (wittingly or unwittingly) absorbed the Russian-generated fake news, magnified it, and spread it to their followers. Thus have InfoWars, Breitbart, Drudge, Fox News, and others from the right worked to destroy the core values that hold America together. These organizations have betrayed the people of the United States that they purport to serve. Instead, they continue to spew a narrative that originates in Moscow. And slowly but surely, they are succeeding. The America we knew is collapsing from within.

How can we fight back? We must always ask – who is behind this? who is benefiting? Why are the Republicans doing nothing about this threat? When Republicans question the special prosecutor, what is their motivation? Is it to protect the legitimacy of their illegitimate win?

We must take back our Democracy. To do so, we must find those that have been corrupted or co-opted by the Russians and remove them from power.That includes Trump, and those in Congress that are speaking so loudly in his defense. Only then can we stop the Russians from controlling our elections.

The New Trinity

There was a time when Conservatives used to see the Soviet Union as a threat to the very existence of the US. Richard Nixon (and many others) made a career of bashing communists and anyone who remotely resembled them. Ronald Reagan famously referred to the Soviet Union as the Evil Empire, and worked hard to bring about its demise.

But while the new Russia that rose in its place may not be communist, it is an evil dictatorship and is ruled by a man who wants to destroy the dominance of the US over world affairs. Russia is the only realistic military threat to the existence of the US, and it is not our friend. Russia is acting against the US in multiple places – propping up a dictator in Syria, supporting North Korea and Iran, and undermining democratic institutions in both the US and other western democracies. Vladimir Putin is a has killed numerous journalists and opposition politicians, both inside Russia, and when he can get away with it, in other countries.

Putin is a also master manipulator of truth – as exemplified by the Russian Olympics Team, which to this day does not admit to cheating. He denied invading Crimea, and has denied that his armed forces are active inside Ukraine even though they have been fully unmasked. As a master mobster, he has become the richest person on the planet by stealing from the Russian state.

Strangely, Donald Trump supports and appears to trust Putin – which seems to make no sense. Given Trump’s strained relationships with the leaders of our allies, why would he have such a high degree of trust and desire a closer relationship with our most dangerous enemy?

Is it because Donald Trump sees a kindred spirit in the authoritarian nature of Putin’s Russia and hopes to move the US in that direction? Donald Trump seems to prefer authoritarian leaders over those that are democratically elected, and Trump uses the same tactics of denying the truth, accusing his opponents of the crimes he is committing, and many more. So part of it may just be envy.

But there must be more. The best explaination is that Putin has the goods on Donald Trump. It could be that Putin is Trump’s banker, or the Steele dossier, or something else. Which would also explain the close relationships between the Trump campaign and Russia during the election, and the numerous Russian attempts to assist the Trump campaign that have already been exposed. It also explains the eagerness of multiple members of the Trump campaign to collude with the Russians, and of course, their poor memories of such activities.

So which is it? The probable answer is both. Putin has control over Trump, both via some hard power, and more subtle control via soft power. Never in the history of the US has its leader been so compromised by a foreign power.

The third leg of the Trinity is those in the press, who, even though they see this reality, fail to call it out to their viewers. This is Fox News at its worst. Fox has gone from hating Russia just a year ago to now being neutral towards Russia and Putin. Why, because they see the connection between Putin and Trump, and they don’t want their listeners to know the truth. Trump is inching closer to an authoritarian government every day. And Fox News, which would have crucified Obama for doing a fraction of what Trump has done, is fulling supporting the dismantling of our democracy.

Millions of people are being deceived. Will they wake up in time?

We will see.

 

Killing the Goose that’s Laying the Golden Eggs

The United States is the richest country the earth has ever known. And today, the wealthiest 1% of Americans own 40% of this great wealth. The remaining 99% percent of us hold 60% of America’s wealth between us. The gap between the ultra-wealthy and the remainder of us has grown larger over the past 50 years to an unprecedented level.

The richest 1% live lives that are completely different than the rest of us. They have multiple homes – in the nicest locations – the best of everything, and never have to worry about problems of saving for retirement, healthcare, or providing for their children. When you have 10s of millions, none of those issues that the rest of us deal with on a daily basis are of concern. The rich live in a world of entitlement that insulates them from the reality of others.  They have never had it better.

 

But it isn’t enough. They want more. Donald Trump, in complete indifference to the promises he made as a candidate, is fully onboard with their desires. There are numerous examples, including his support to reduce regulations that are designed to protect people from the excesses of business, killing healthcare, reducing budgets for social programs, etc.

But the biggest and most obvious example is the misnamed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This bill includes a number of intentionally confusing provisions that contain both positive and negative implications for the 99% – but it is CLEARLY designed to provide huge benefits for the 1%. When the original versions from both the House and Senate were unveiled, they were roundly criticized as being Robin Hood in reverse.  So, we were told that they would make it better in conference.

But the latest version, unveiled just yesterday, is worse. Now it provides an even greater break for the wealthiest. Why? Because those who already have so much – wanted more – and they compelled their Republican servants in office to give it to them. And they did – to the detriment of the rest of us.

The people aren’t completely stupid. They do have a voice at the ballot box. They have been fooled before (Exhibit A – Donald Trump). But they won’t be fooled again. And this time, the social issues won’t be enough to convince people to vote against their own economic self interest.

There will be a swing in power – a huge swing – as a result of the next national election. Republicans will be thrown out of office in massive numbers. And Democrats will be empowered – even compelled – to reclaim wealth from the richest 1%. It will be ugly.

And so it will come to pass. In their greed, the rich will be brought down. They couldn’t leave well enough alone, and they will pay the price. As they should.

A Real Middle Class Tax Cut

The goal of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is to stimulate the economy and create more and better jobs. The ideal result would be a stronger American economy, based on increased manufacturing, providing good jobs that pay well without requiring higher education. Just like it used to be. It the core of Trump’s promise to Make America Great Again.

But its not what we got. What we have is a bill that rewards industries who invest in automation, but does nothing to encourage employment of more workers. And, by all analyses, it will transfer wealth from the middle class to the richest of Americans. The Republicans say that this is because the wealthy pay the most taxes, so if there is a tax cut, they will reap the largest benefits – there’s no other way to do it. That is nonsense.

Its easy to create a tax system that doesn’t reward the ultra rich. Just go back to the way it used to be when America was great. In 1965, top federal tax rate on regular income (on income over $200,000) was 70%!! And the top Corporate tax rate was 48%!! And in 1965, America WAS GREAT. At the time, our percentage of the world’s GDP was 38%, compared to 25% now. And these rates held until the early 1980s, as did America’s manufacturing preeminence in the world. In fact, the gradual lowering of the top rate to 50% in the early 1980s to 38.5% in 1987 coincided with the beginning of the decline of American manufacturing and the hollowing out of the middle class.

And what did the US do with the income it received from these taxes? It INVESTED in itself – in infrastructure, in education, in scientific research, and of course in the military. Today, we only invest in one of these – the military – because, as John Boehner used to say, “we’re broke”. But we’re only broke because we choose to be. If we return to the tax rates of when America was at its strongest, we could balance the Federal budget and have enough leftover to invest in ourselves – and Make America Great Again.

So why don’t the Republicans and Trump support such an idea? Because they are completely subservient to their wealthy donors – and those donors expect a return on their large investment. The Republicans don’t have any intention of fulfilling their promises to the middle class. The only question is – will their supporters realize the truth?

 

Criminalizing Abortion

It is obvious that the Supreme Court is nearly evenly divided between liberals and conservatives. When abortion was declared legal in 1973 by the famous 7-2 Roe v. Wade decision, the court was much more liberal in its makeup. Four members of the court are now 70 or older (two liberals and two conservatives). It’s very likely that one or more of them will be leaving the bench in the next three years.

Donald Trump has already appointed one conservative to the Supreme Court, and if there is a vacancy, another conservative will certainly be appointed. And there are plenty of Republican-backed states who will quickly develop cases that will test the law.

Within a short time, Roe v. Wade would be struck down and states would be free to enact legislation banning a woman’s right to choose. At least seven already have such laws on the books ready to go into force. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade] Others will follow. The result will be a return to the 60s. Women will die from botched self-abortions and backroom hacks. Millions of unloved, unwanted babies will be born, ending up poor, uneducated, and very likely in prison.

But there’s more. The Republican war on women continues.

While a candidate for the Presidency, Donal Trump said “There has to be some form of Punishment” for women who have abortions [https://www.vox.com/2016/3/30/11333472/trump-abortions-punishment-women].  Although he was later told to back off on the statement, this is the real goal of conservatives. Some states are now in the process of enacting legislation declaring abortion to be murder. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, these will also become law. Think of the result – since there is no statute of limit on murder – anyone who had a legal abortion in the past could be charged with Murder – and since the abortion was clearly premeditated – First degree murder, which in some states is punishable by death. Anyone living in those states, or anyone who might travel to those states could be arrested, tried for murder, convicted and executed.

Think it won’t happen? Do you trust Donald Trump?