Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Carl Bernstein blasts Conway: She's Trump's 'propaganda minister' and expert 'anonymous source'

Carl Bernstein

It started with Anderson Cooper of CNN’s 360 calling out Kellyanne Conway Wednesday night as she tried once again to deflate and deny the truth. It’s her thing. But it’s been a trying time for Conway especially after the latest information regarding her boss’s Russian ties leaked out this week. The special  counselor to Donald Trump (who specializes on how to be a better liar) is quite good at her job.

But her gig seems to be getting harder as the media’s intolerance for her bullshit grows.

Later Wednesday night, Cooper talked with Carl Bernstein who along with Bob Woodward investigated and ultimately broke the Watergate scandal which ultimately caused former President Richard Nixon to resign in shame.  Bernstein would like to see the same happen to Trump.  When Kellyanne Conway’s name came up Bernstein let loose.

Carl Bernstein: “Let's talk about what reporting is. It's the best obtainable version of the truth. That's what that story is — the best obtainable version of the truth is that the chief intelligence officials of the United States of America saw this material, thought that it deserved investigation, thought that it ought to be brought to the attention of the President of the United States, and to the president-elect. That is the best obtainable version of the truth.

And another thing about anonymous sources, one of the great anonymous sources of our era his Kellyanne Conway. She does it every day. She has been an anonymous source for the last 10 months, particularly during this campaign when it suits her. And it's time to talk about what we do as journalists and what propaganda ministers do. And that is what she is is a propaganda minister, and what we've seen here tonight is a deconstruction of the journalistic process. And we did our work.

And you can deconstruct it and it comes down to, ‘Look the chief officials of the United States intelligence community believed they had something urgent enough to bring to the attention of the president and the president-elect of the United States. ‘That is a story.’”
Again, thanks to Carl Bernstein — and all those who exemplify reputable and truthful journalism. Can’t get enough.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Yes, they're coming after Social Security.

Millions of Americans may have an experience like this in the future. Only it will be with something far more important. The shrunken candy bar will be their Social Security check. Benefits will be far smaller than expected if Social Security is "reformed." The change would come through a bill submitted by Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Plano.
Don't be fooled, folks.  If a Republican is crafting the bill, especially when it's a hard right Republican, the reality is you (we) are going to be the biggest losers in the deal. Current retirees and soon to be retirees will not be affected by this new scheme. But our adult children and grandchildren will be.  And so will our fellow Americans who are under 50 years old.

The particularly nasty part of Sam Johnson’s bill is that taxpayers will continue to pay a high employment tax.  But the future retirement benefit will be far smaller than it is today.  Which will be very difficult for most retirees.  One does not live a wealthy life exclusively on Social Security benefits as they exist today, before any cuts.

Johnson’s plan should be called “learning how to dine on cat food in order to survive.”  Or “how to make it through a northern winter without any heat.”

To be clear, folks should understand the full impact of the Texas Republican Party’s abject moral and ethical depravity. For it callously fundraises over social conservative issues such as fetal remains, and equal rights ordinances, masked as bathroom bills.  The heartless Texas GOP will also cut off the lights as well as heat/cooling for poor Texans as another form of punishment for being impoverished.
This is huge. The 2016 Trustees Report estimates exhaustion of the trust fund by 2034. Worse, the actuarial deficit over the next 75 years is 2.66 percent of taxable payroll. Since the employment tax is 12.4 percent, that's a huge amount. Measured another way: The unfunded liability amounts to $11.4 trillion. Today.
That $11.4 trillion is not on hand. And that's the candy bar dilemma. The only way to deliver the promised benefits is to increase the tax. The alternative is to shrink the candy bar. That means finding a way to weasel out on promised benefits while continuing to collect the same amount in taxes. Future retirees will pay the same high tax but receive less in benefits.
Of course Rep. Johnson prefers to shrink the candy bar. And naturally he is proposing a scam, never mentioning a cut to benefits of any kind.
Cuts to future benefits are not mentioned in the news release. Nor are they mentioned in a supporting document from Johnson's office. In the glorious tradition of misleading language from our elected leaders, Johnson calls for:
"Modernizing how benefits are calculated." (Code for reducing the benefit-crediting rate for most workers.)
"Gradually updating the full retirement age at which workers can claim benefits." (Code for reducing the benefits for anyone who can't work as long as we say they should work.)
"Ensur(ing) benefits keep up with changes in the economy." (Code for using an inflation measure that reduces the rate of increase in benefits.)
Fortunately the chief actuary for Social Security busted Rep. Johnson’s snake oil scheme wide open. Below is the author’s summary of the actuary’s findings.
The Social Security Reform Act of 2016 proposes 15 changes. Of those, 10 have impacts under 0.10 percent of funding. Many are considered "negligible." The big bucks are in three proposals. One works to change the benefit formula. Another advances the full retirement age. The third changes the method for calculating inflation. Those changes would cut benefits by 2.94 percent of payroll over the next 75 years.
The changes would have no immediate effect. But they would start to bite for workers retiring in 2030 or later. That means workers who are 50 or younger. So, if you're already retired, you're safe. But your adult children and grandchildren will see their benefits reduced. Meanwhile, they still pay employment taxes that support current retirees.
Future retiree benefit cuts depend on their level of lifetime earnings. Here are examples for medium- and higher-wage workers retiring in 2030. (Low-wage workers are affected in another way, which I will cover next week.)
A medium-wage worker with a 44-year record (one with about $49,000 wages in 2016) will start retirement with an 11.4 percent benefit cut. The cut will increase to 18.8 percent by age 95.
A high-wage worker with a 44-year record (about $78,600 for 2016) will start retirement with a 19.9 percent benefit cut. It will increase to a 26.6 percent cut by age 95.
A top-wage worker with a 44-year record (one earning $118,500 in 2016) will start retirement with a 25.2 percent cut. It will increase to a 65.4 percent cut by age 95.
Benefit cuts increase each year after 2030. A 33-year-old medium-wage worker today would experience a benefit cut of 33.2 percent when retiring in 2050. That cut would increase to 34.1 percent by the time they reached 95.
It is up to us to stay vigilant  to all that this Ebenezer Scrooge Republican Congress has in store for us. The GOP must hope its narcissistic demagogue of a President will keep the media and the public busy and distracted by his erratic behavior and tweet storms. This will give Paul Ryan and his Scrooge party the opportunity to gut most of which many of us depend  and expect behind closed doors. This means affordable healthcare, women’s reproductive rights, voting rights, social insurance programs (Social Security and Medicare) will all go on the GOP chopping block.

The stakes couldn’t be higher.

After what happened to the Democrats when the Tea Party formed in 2010, it is highly unlikely the Republicans will hold town hall meetings any time soon. Most know that many of us are very unhappy and some are downright outraged over this election’s outcome.

I’ve made sure my two US Senators and US Representative (TX-R’s) understand that over half of us are not happy with the outcome of the 2016 election. Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million. Apparently, I reminded all three, gerrymandering and voter suppression efforts are no longer enough for Republicans to win Presidential elections anyone. Rogue FBI and Russian hackers are necessary now. What does it feel like to belong to a Party that needs Russian hackers to win, I tweeted to them.

I also remind my “representatives” that the GOP has no mandate whatsoever. I know the Party’s tendency to overreach each time it wins, even if the wins are questionable squeakers or stolen.

If we can’t express our views at town hall meetings we can certainly use social media, frequent phone calls and hold local protest rallies at district offices to let our reps know that we will not quietly go away, sit down, shut up and get over it.

Let your representatives know who you are.  Make ‘em wish you were never born.

Organize with local Dems through Daily Kos  and/or your local Democratic Party.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Return of Civil Disobedience

Protest against Donald Trump. (photo: Jim Vondruska/NurPhoto/Getty Images)
Protest against Donald Trump. (photo: Jim Vondruska/NurPhoto/Getty Images)
By Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker
The sixties produced a conviction that “democracy is in the streets.” The Trump era may echo that.

n December 6th, less than a month after the election, Vice-President Joe Biden, who was in New York to receive the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award, for his decades of public service, used the occasion to urge Americans not to despair. “I remind people, ’68 was really a bad year,” he said, and “America didn’t break.” He added, “It’s as bad now, but I’m hopeful.” And bad it was. The man for whom Biden’s award was named was assassinated in 1968. So was Martin Luther King, Jr. Riots erupted in more than a hundred cities, and violence broke out at the Democratic National Convention, in Chicago. The year closed with the hairbreadth victory of a law-and-order Presidential nominee whose Southern strategy of racial politicking remade the electoral map. Whatever innocence had survived the tumult of the five years since the murder of John F. Kennedy was gone.

It was telling that Biden had to sift through nearly a half century of history to find a precedent for the current malaise among liberals and progressives, but the comparison was not entirely fitting. Throughout Richard Nixon’s Presidency, Democrats maintained majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The efforts of the antiwar movement to end American involvement in Vietnam had stalled, but Nixon’s first years in office saw the enactment of several progressive measures, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Clean Air Act, as well as the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2016, the Republicans won the White House, maintained control of both chambers of Congress, and secured the ability to create a conservative Supreme Court majority that could last a generation or more. Donald Trump, a man with minimal restraint, has been awarded maximal power.

Last summer, the A.C.L.U. issued a report highlighting the ways in which Trump’s proposals on a number of issues would violate the Bill of Rights. After his victory, the A.C.L.U.’s home page featured an image of him with the caption “See You in Court.”

In November, Trump tweeted that he would have won the popular vote but for millions of illegal ballots cast. This was not just a window into the conspiratorial and fantasist mind-set of the President-elect but a looming threat to voting rights. Ten days after the election, the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense Fund released a statement opposing the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, as Attorney General, based on his record of hostility to voting rights and on the fact that he’d once brought unsubstantiated charges of voter fraud against civil-rights activists. But, with a Republican majority that has mostly shown compliance with Trump, despite his contempt for the norms of democracy, the fear is that he will achieve much of what he wants. Even if he accomplishes only half, the landscape of American politics and policy will be radically altered. This prospect has recalled another phenomenon of the nineteen-sixties: the conviction that “democracy is in the streets.”

Movements are born in the moments when abstract principles become concrete concerns. MoveOn arose in response to what was perceived as the Republican congressional overreach that resulted in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. The Occupy movement was a backlash to the financial crisis. The message of Black Lives Matter was inspired by the death of Trayvon Martin and the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Occupy’s version of anti-corporate populism helped to create the climate in which Senator Bernie Sanders’s insurgent campaign could not only exist but essentially shape the Democratic Party platform. Black Lives Matter brought national attention to local instances of police brutality, prompting the Obama Administration to launch the Task Force on 21st Century Policing and helping defeat prosecutors in Chicago and Cleveland, who had sought reëlection after initially failing to bring charges against police officers accused of using excessive force.

Last July, when the Army Corps of Engineers gave final approval for the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, anxious that the pipeline would threaten their water supply, started an online petition and filed a lawsuit to halt construction. Thousands of activists, including members of Black Lives Matter, and two thousand military veterans went to Standing Rock, to protest on the Sioux’s behalf; last month, they endured rubber bullets and water hoses fired in freezing temperatures. On December 4th, the Army Corps announced that it would look for an alternate route. But, since Rick Perry, Trump’s choice for Energy Secretary, sits on the board of Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline (and in which Trump, until recently, owned stock), protesters are settling in for a long winter.

In that context, the waves of protests in Portland, Los Angeles, Oakland, New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., in the days after the election look less like spontaneous outrage and more like a preview of what the next four years may hold.

Unlike the specific protests that emerged during the Obama Administration, the post-election demonstrations have been directed at the general state of American democracy. Two hundred thousand women are expected to assemble in front of the Capitol, on January 21st, the day after the Inauguration, for the Women’s March on Washington. Born of one woman’s invitation to forty friends, the event is meant as a rejoinder to the fact that a candidate with a troubling history regarding women’s rights—one who actually bragged about committing sexual assault—has made it to the White House.

The first Inauguration of George W. Bush, in 2001, saw mass protests driven by the sentiment that the election had been stolen. The protests that greet Trump will, in all probability, exceed them: some twenty other groups have also applied for march permits. Given his history with African-Americans, Muslims, Latinos, immigrants, unionized labor, environmentalists, and people with disabilities, it is not hard to imagine that there will be many more to come. The Congress is unlikely to check the new President, but democracy may thrive in the states, the courts, the next elections, and, lest the lessons of the sixties be forgotten, the streets.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Trump to cede 13 Million jobs to China over next 4 years, in just one industry.


As Trump plans to cut clean energy spending- 

Beijing’s newest 5-year energy development plan invests a stunning 2.5 trillion yuan ($360 billion) in renewable generation by 2020. Of that, $144 billion will go to solar, about $100 billion to wind, $70 billion to hydropower, and the rest to sources like tidal and geothermal power.
The Chinese National Energy Administration said in a statement Thursday the resulting “employment will be more than 13 million people.”
China is already doing way better than the U.S. in this regard, and President-elect Trump’s commitment to opposing clean energy will not make things any better. As the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reported last year, China already has over 40 percent of all jobs in renewables, globally, while the U.S. has under 10 percent (see chart below).

Current clean energy jobs in thousands
Trump is out there lying about being the savior of a few hundred jobs here and there while his plans are ignoring the biggest growth market to come around since the IT boom.  The son of an orangutan is kowtowing to the dying fossil fuel industry when the entire planet is moving to go carbon free.  He is like the guy fighting to save the jobs of the street sweepers of the horse and buggy days in the face of the horseless carriage.

China more than doubled electric car sales in 2016, and the Beijing is aiming at a 1,000 percent sales increase by 2025 — some 3 million new EVs a year. To achieve that, “it’s offering subsidies that can total 60 percent of an electric-car’s sticker price,” Bloomberg News reported.
Third, the fossil fuel industry simply has no sustainable growth model. Advanced batteries could “tip the oil market from growth to contraction earlier than anticipated,” credit rating agency Fitch concluded last year. Bloomberg New Energy Finance told investors to expect the “big crash” in oil by 2028 — and as early as 2023.
Yet, despite the fact that President-elect Trump promised to bring back coal jobs, that goal is quite simply beyond his power, even if he succeeds in temporarily slowing the explosive growth of clean energy.
Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) conceded after the election that it’s unlikely substantial coal jobs will be coming back.
Yet while China understands there’s a relatively short window of time to achieve global leadership in the core carbon-free technologies, Trump promised to kill U.S. climate action while zeroing out federal clean energy funding.
Our great orange Luddite of a president is going to throw away the future jobs of millions of Americans in his true role as protector of established plutocrats and defender of the existing wealth disparities.

We are so F’ed.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

This is exactly how democracies die.

Donald Trump. (photo: Bill Clark/RollCall)
Donald Trump. (photo: Bill Clark/RollCall)

Trump is a total fool - or he thinks that the rest of us are.

By Mort Rosenblum, Reader Supported News
14 January 17
ow it is clear: we are seeing a coup d'etat. And its perpetrators, aided by citizens' apathy and wishful thinking, don't even need to gas up tanks or muzzle the media. This is exactly how democracies die.

We can stop this and emerge stronger -- but only if enough of us grasp what is at stake and take action. Put aside political leanings and polemics to spend a moment assessing for yourself what you see unfolding.

Here, for what it's worth, is the view of a reporter who has covered coups in sizeable republics, evil empires and banana backwaters for a very long time.

Donald Trump is our chief executive, a term-limit civil servant bound by laws and common values to serve us all. Congressmen represent entire constituencies, not just partisans within them. Justices swear to be fair-minded and impartial.

One day after a departing president showed us our best side, outlining historic growth after crippling decline and pleading for unity in magnanimous terms that moved many to tears, his successor showed us our worst.

Though trounced by popular vote, Trump acts as if we handed him a crown. That storybook emperor skulked off when a kid pointed out he was naked. Trump simply flips us the finger and commits one indecent act after another.

Even if, against all economic odds, he could cut deals that made Americans richer at the expense of others, is that all matters? Consider the consequences in a volatile world bristling with arms and facing climatic endgame.

Trump's siding with Vladimir Putin rather than our incumbent leader falls between treachery and treason. It defines a man who puts his own ego above all else. With dazzling hypocrisy, his party criticizes him yet takes little action.

Republicans' disregard for propriety - trying to abolish ethics oversight as they steamroll approval of top officials tainted by vested interests, nepotism and crackpot extremism - reveals contempt for a citizenry they presume is stupid.

Already, a mad scramble is on to strip protection from natural splendor that took eons to evolve, sacred Indian sites, endangered aquifers and virgin wilderness for immediate plunder by a rapacious few with no regard for generations to come.

Our failsafe, beyond the three branches, is a permanent Fourth Estate: the press, now the "news media." For all the failings of its worst components, it is vital to us. Its best components set a global standard.

Trump's "press conference" swept away any lingering doubt of demagogic intention. He was an imperious insulting bully who dismissed substance with inane generality, focusing not on domestic or world crises but on his own self-image.

When a reporter asked about his tax returns, he said the American people weren't interested. "I don't think they care at all," he sneered, thrusting a finger at his questioner. "I think you care."

Here is Trump in, well, a nutshell. A free society and its press are inseparable. Point one in our Bill of Rights. A dictator's first move is to discredit news media and replace them big-lie propaganda, which is why Breitbart "News" had a front seat.

Presidential news conferences began as simple briefings: an executive answering to the people who hired him via the press. Now live TV allows leaders to play to the public, bypassing reporters who might pin them down with hard facts.

News executives let George W. Bush choreograph with pre-chosen questioners. Barack Obama imposed draconian means to plug leaks but answered questions when asked. Trump dismisses non-cheerleaders as unruly children.

CNN revealed an open secret, an unsubstantiated but solidly based report that Russians had taped Trump in a honey trap. Big whoop: a businessman who boasts of sexual prowess hired a prostitute. A simple denial would suffice.

But Trump went nuclear. "Fake news!" he thundered at a CNN reporter seeking clarity, cutting him off. Then a question came from Ian Pannell of BBC, a seasoned pro with the most credible, comprehensive global news purveyor I know.
"BBC," Trump said. "That's another beauty."

As for substance, Trump asserted: "(There are) 96 million really wanting a job and they can't get. You know that story - the real number. That's the real number. So that's the way it is."

No, NPR noted in a running fact-check, the real number is 7.5 million. We are at full employment: 4.7 percent. More jobs would spike inflation. Trump included people not in the work force, including students, retirees and stay-at-home parents.

The man is a total fool - or he thinks that the rest of us are.

Meryl Streep brought this down to basic humanity at the Golden Globe Awards. More than a chief executive, she said, a president defines who we are. To illustrate, she chose an image many of us still can't get out of our heads.

Displeased by New York Times' reporter Serge Kovaleski, he mocked a condition that makes the man's bent right arm and hands move uncontrollably. Trump denies it, telling us to believe him rather than our own eyes.

Among so many outrages, some scare me to my core.

Trump approached truth, unintended, in one of his absurd tweets: "Is this Nazi Germany?" He was complaining that the CIA hovered over him. But his Big-Lie demagoguery evokes far too much of a Führer elected by a fearful, hurting nation.

He is an equal-opportunity bigot, not specifically anti-Semitic. His free-form ill-informed extremism, mercurial with no clear worldview, risks eventual conflict with China and Russia. For now, there is the unholy land.

The man named as our ambassador to Israel has said that people like me are no better than Nazi guards who herded Jews to their death. That is, we Jews who believe that a separate Palestine is essential to Israel's survival and global stability.

My name and nose mark me as Jewish, but my religion is honest journalism, a belief that whoever or whatever created this world needs the help of reporters to keep it spinning as planned.

Since 1967, I've seen Holy Land hatreds grow in response to perceived injustice. We can't bomb those away. The terrorism Trump blames on Obama is rooted in our conduct of needless unwinnable war in Iraq.

But reporting loses all meaning if a society disregards fact and documented history. Without a grip on reality, we are lost. We need schools that prepare kids to see the world as it is. Yet Trump gives us Beverly DeVos.

An elitist billionaire, DeVos pushes private charter schools that earn profits while educating a chosen few and condemning others to blackboard jungles that turn out barely literate masses to work cheap and believe what they're told.

Finland, in contrast, has the world's best schools because all of them are public. If rich people want their kids properly educated, they have to raise the level for everyone.

There is so much more; a cabinet of wolves to watch over us sheep; the sham of keeping Trump family business separate from ours; the ignominious rush to disrupt Obamacare for no reason but scorn for the man whose name it bears.

That last is the kicker. Affordable Health Care is flawed because Congress rejected a single-payer approach so big business could profit. Republicans are repealing it before they know what might eventually take its place.

Politicians who insist that the life of unformed fetuses is sacred are prepared to let people die before their time before they can't afford our absurdly high medical costs.
So what to do?

First, think of cockroaches infesting a dark room. When you flip on the light, they scurry for the baseboards. If not, a can of Raid does the trick. That's Congress. Each voter only has to focus on two senators and a representative.

Even in gerrymandered states, voter turnout is low; committed opposition can defeat anyone. Call, write, sign petitions, attend town halls, organize protests and get to know aides who listen to reason. Be polite, persuasive - and persistent.

For a useful plan, go to, a report from former congressional staff workers about how Tea Party amateurs inveigled their way onto Capitol Hill.

For a sense of how the cockroach kings put their narrow interests over ours, take a close look at Mitch McConnell, whose latest outrage was to stonewall a moderate Supreme Court nominee for nearly a year. If Trump proposes a partisan justice, compel Congress to stonewall another four years.

Our would-be emperor needs constant watching. More than anything else, he craves adulation. Boycott his brand. Remind his enthusiasts of every broken promise. If he senses the nation's mood harden against him, he will likely respond.

Coup leaders habitually entrench themselves with firepower and mass arrests. They tear up existing laws to write their own. Ours depend only on our apathy and ignorance. If we can't stop them cold, we deserve whatever befalls us.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Donald Trump, Russia, and the Political 'Witch Hunt' That Isn't

Donald Trump. (photo: Spencer Platt/Getty)
Donald Trump. (photo: Spencer Platt/Getty)

By Frank Rich, New York Magazine
13 January 17
Most weeks, New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich speaks with contributor Alex Carp about the biggest stories in politics and culture. Today: Trump’s press conference, BuzzFeed, and Bill O’Reilly’s settlement.
ear the end of Donald Trump’s press conference yesterday, Trump was asked if he could “stand here today, once and for all, and say that no one connected to him or his campaign “had any contact with Russia leading up to or during the presidential campaign.” He tried to avoid the question at the podium, and the press chased him to ask again at the elevator. Is this a sign that Trump’s Russia evasions and broad denials will eventually run out of steam? 

Let’s not pretend we don’t know what is happening here. There is evidence that Donald Trump and his administration-in-formation are partially, perhaps wholly, beholden to the Kremlin and/or those Russian oligarchs in its thrall. This is why Trump refused to answer that question about contacts with Russia during the campaign — and why he’ll lie about it when he finally feels he must muster some kind of answer. His symbiosis with Russia is also why he will never release his tax returns, for what other reason could there be at this point except that they reveal the Russian financial ties he denies? After all, we already know the other embarrassments contained in those returns — that he hasn’t paid taxes for years, that he practices no actual philanthropy, and that his businesses are in a perennial waltz with bankruptcy, fraud, and failure.

No, Russia is the big story here. The elephant in the room is a bear. Trump has made no bones about repeatedly hiring fellow Putin sycophants, whether his former campaign chief Paul Manafort, the incoming National Security Adviser, Mike Flynn, or the secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson. When the heroic aviator Charles Lindbergh was awarded a medal, the Service Cross of the German Eagle, by Hermann Goering “by order of der Führer” before World War II, it helped make him persona non grata in the FDR White House. When Tillerson received a Russian Order of Friendship Award from Putin, Trump regarded it as an incentive to hire him.

How this will play out once Trump is inaugurated is impossible to fathom. We have a president-elect who trusts Putin and Julian Assange more than he does America’s intelligence agencies, whom he has compared to the Nazis. Perhaps Trump’s only real goal is to grab money from deep Russian pockets as fast as he can in opaque business deals managed by his sons while he’s in office. Even so, it’s entirely possible that he and Flynn will help facilitate Putin’s own political aims in exchange — all the while claiming that their motive is merely to band with Russia in “fighting ISIS.” What’s clear is that we are not going to get straight answers to any Russian questions. Even before Trump took over the lectern at his Wednesday press conference, his press spokesman, Sean Spicer, unleashed a preemptive lie about still another Trump-Kremlin connection by claiming that Trump “does not know” Carter Page, an investment banker who was investigated by the F.B.I. last summer for suspicions of private dealings with Russian leaders. In fact, Page had been announced as a Trump foreign-policy adviser by his campaign last year and had been cited by name by Trump himself in an interview with the Washington Post editorial board in March. Both Page and Trump, by the way, have used the term “witch hunt” to describe any attempts to investigate their Russian dealings — the same term used by the Kremlin to fend off evidence that Putin manipulated the American election. Perhaps Page and Trump have the same Kremlin handler, whether or not it is the former KGB agent Putin himself. 

Just minutes after CNN reported that intelligence agencies had briefed Trump and President Obama about compromising financial and personal information Russia may hold about the president-elect, BuzzFeed posted a dossier containing the unconfirmed details. BuzzFeed says their dossier is “how we see the job of reporters in 2017”; CNN’s Jake Tapper says it is “irresponsible” and “hurts us all.” Did BuzzFeed make the right call? 

Next to the staggering list of press failures that have marked Trump’s rise to the presidency, this seems small potatoes. BuzzFeed did frame what it published as being both unconfirmed and redolent with errors. The “dossier” may well prove to be utter trash (if entertaining trash), and the only slender justification for publishing it is that it fleshes out a true news break by CNN, that both Obama and Trump had been told of this salacious report’s existence by American intelligence agencies, who also have not verified it. But is BuzzFeed’s sin worse than CNN having put Trump henchman Corey Lewandowski on its election-year payroll? Or than the Times repeatedly giving major home-page play to data suggesting that Hillary Clinton had a close to 100 percent chance of victory right up to Election Day? You could argue that that latter stunt actually suppressed Democratic turnout in the presidential race; the BuzzFeed stunt changed nothing unless you count the impressive number of jokes it has prompted, on Twitter and beyond, around the phenomenon of #GoldenShower. It is not a bright spot in BuzzFeed’s history, but the ruckus it has generated seems disproportionate, a reflection of how much Trump has put the press on the defensive over a bruising 18 months.

What most seems to upset press critics about BuzzFeed’s action —understandably — is that Trump seized on it to paint the entire press Establishment, including CNN, as purveyors of “fake news.” That is an outrage, but if Trump hadn’t found this pretext, he would have found another opening soon enough. There is, of course, no bigger purveyor of fake news than Trump himself, unless it’s his comrade in alt-right propaganda, Stephen Bannon. Trump’s entire campaign was spawned by trafficking in conspiracy theories, whether about President Obama or Mexican immigrants or imaginary Muslims cheering 9/11 in New Jersey. His effort to play the virtuous defender of journalistic ethics is as ludicrous as his presenting himself as the greatest, most respectful champion of America’s women. He is determined to bully, destabilize, and discredit the press. But those who buy his preposterous self-righteous pose are so imprisoned by the alternative reality of Trump anyway that they might as well be Scientologists — nothing short of an intervention will return them to the real world. These are the same people who think that Trump’s display of piles of manila envelopes at his press conference actually told us something about his business ethics. If I may briefly embrace Trumpism by being both vulgar and politically incorrect, let me say that people who fall for his bullshit are idiots. Even if the dossier BuzzFeed published is found to be mostly true, they’ll still believe it’s fake news because it doesn’t match the fake news they are imbibing every day. 

It’s now come out that, soon after Fox News ousted chairman Roger Ailes, declaring that his behavior would not be tolerated, the network also settled with an employee making similar sexual-harassment complaints against Bill O’Reilly. Why do you think O’Reilly was able to remain at the network? 

As my colleague Gabriel Sherman has reported, Fox News is now officially all in on Trump, as certified by Rupert Murdoch’s decision to promote the Trump-friendly Tucker Carlson to the Trump skeptic Megyn Kelly’s vacated prime-time slot. A network allied with the president-elect who gave America “grab ’em by the pussy” and that tolerated Ailes’s predatory sexual behavior for years is certainly going to stand by its highest-rated on-camera personality even if he is a repeat sexual offender. Let’s just be grateful that neither BuzzFeed nor anyone else has yet obtained audio tapes of O’Reilly masturbating while on the phone with his female prey, a particularly gross element in the Times’ account of the latest incident. Then again, in the Trump era, it’s safe to say that just as Trump could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any of his followers, so O’Reilly could be found masturbating outside the Fox News studio on Sixth Avenue and not lose the confidence of either his viewers or the Murdochs.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Trump's senior White House advisor says in radio interview that liberal women are a 'bunch of dykes'

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 20: Stephen K. Bannon talks with Dan Schneider, Executive Director of the American Conservative Union, about what Ted Cruz may say during his speech at the Republican National Convention tonight while hosting Brietbart News Daily on SiriusXM Patriot at Quicken Loans Arena on July 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

They are trying to normalize a man who denigrates women. A man who promotes White Nationalism. A man who dehumanizes people of color. A man who is proudly anti-Semitic. We cannot let them normalize this man and his views. We have to reject him and his views with everything we’ve got. 

Monday, Nov 14, 2016 · 2:47:46 PM USMST · Jen Hayden For the purpose of clarifying, these comments were made in 2011. The fact they were made 5 years ago does not lessen their vile nature or the fact that this man has no business being near the White House and the President of the United States.