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.

 

The Cowards on Capitol Hill

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It has been well established that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to steal the 2016 election. But the result of the election was that a number of other Republicans were swept into office along with him – enough to enjoy a majority in both Houses of Congress and and State Legislatures and Governor ships.

Make no mistake – Russia is our enemy. They, and they alone, have the capacity to destroy the United States. And every day they make more provocative and threatening moves which indicate that they can’t be trusted. They are led by a man who is effectively a dictator and who exercises complete control over the State, and nearly complete control over the private sector (if you disagree with him, you will be jailed or killed). Putin is a cold-hearted killer with his finger on thousands of nuclear weapons. He is the most dangerous person on the planet.

If all the Islamic terrorists in the world got together, (which won’t happen because half of them hate the other half) they could kill thousands of Americans – but they could not destroy the US. Nor could North Korea. But they both create a convenient diversion to keep our attention away from the real threat to our existence.

In a world in which party affiliation and loyalty are more important than almost any other characteristic in terms of winning elections, it is natural for the Republicans to circle the wagons upon hearing that their leader is in trouble. And many of them know that if Trump’s win is tainted, then the whole election is tainted – including their majority.

The bulk of Republican legislators are lawyers. By now many of them have come to the obvious conclusion that Trump is guilty.  And perhaps many of them already know more of the truth than has been made public. But their willingness to stick with someone who helped Russia steal elections means that they are also collaborating with the enemy. This cannot be excused. If they were true Patriots, they would abandon Trump now while they still have a shred of self-respect and decency.

But they will not. They try to cripple and obscure the work of the committees because they know that the results will make them look bad.

Eventually the truth will be made public. And Republican cowards will look VERY BAD. There’s another word that can be used to describe them: Traitors.

The Big Question

We thought that the big question was: Did Trump collaborate with the Russians to sabotage Hillary’s campaign? We don’t yet know the truth – but let’s look at what we do know:

  1. Trump’s businesses have been in deep financial trouble a number of times over the past ten years – and many of them went bankrupt. But in the midst of the financial crisis, when nobody was lending money, all Trump’s financial problems went away – because of huge influx of money. We know that, through a few slips of the tongue, the Russians have been the source of millions of dollars to the Trump organization. When Trump talks about investments in Russia, he chooses his words carefully, “I have nothing in Russia”, which may be true, but the real question is: “What does Russia have invested in Trump?” Given that Russia is a kleptocracy, with all major public and private companies run by Putin’s cronies, if he owes money to any Russian banks then he owes it to Putin. And if he owes millions (or billions), then Putin OWNS Trump.
  2. Trump won’t release his tax returns despite the fact that it is costing him the trust and votes of many people. Why would he do that? Because there is something in his tax returns that will devastate his credibility. What could be that damaging? Certainly not that he’s rich, or that he has not been paying taxes – those are established facts and have even been touted by Trump as a sign that “I’m smart”. No, it’s something really bad that would turn his voters away. It’s not hard to figure out that the only thing that would be so bad as to suffer the loss of so many voters is that the Tax returns would show the loan repayments to Russian banks. Nothing else makes sense.
  3. During the 2016 campaign, Trump’s team met with the Russians a massive number of times (reported to be as many as 20). Many of these messages were in European or Asian locations. Why would a busy person need to travel to Europe or Asia to have a discussion? Because what they have to say is so secretive that they don’t want anyone to know that the meeting is occurring. Of course some of the meetings were in the US, and many of those were short. (How long does it take to say “Yes, we will do your bidding?”). There are no legitimate political reasons for this number of secretive meetings – but there if there was collusion on a regular basis, it would take quite a bit of coordination – which explains the need for a large number of meetings.
  4. We have the special case of Michael Flynn. He was so sure of himself in the weeks after Trump was elected (do you remember how crazy that period was?) that he didn’t even bother to hide his tracks when he met with the Russians. Then he lied about it, and Trump reluctantly tossed him overboard. But Trump couldn’t have Flynn telling the truth, because that would cause the whole thing to collapse. So he pressured James Comey to let Flynn go – knowing that he committed a crime in doing so – because he believed the risks of committing Obstruction of Justice were smaller than the risks of Flynn going public with his story.
  5. Now we come to Trump’s obsession with the various investigations. Why is he so obsessed? Why did he fire Comey when he was thinking about the “Russia thing”? Is it because he has nothing to hide? If that was the case, he’d show all his cards which would make the whole thing go away. But instead he’s doing everything that a guilty party would do. He’s impugning the integrity of the people involved, of the institutions themselves, and of course of the press who merely reports what those in his administration are telling them.

But now that we have the details of Flynn’s activities, we see that the question has changed. It’s not a question of collusion, but a question of Treason. What else would you call betraying your country for personal gain? When Flynn told Russian Ambassador Kislyak that the incoming Trump administration would undo the punishments that had just been issued by the President of the US, he was betraying his country.

This cannot be allowed to stand. Trump must go. If there are any Patriots in the Republican Party, they need to stand up now – or be forever dammed as traitors.Hocking Hills April 2005 Upper falls cropped

Stay tuned.