CLOWNS ARE RUNNING THE WORLD – Garry Armstrong

“Send In The Clowns”, on its own merit, is a beautiful song from the show, “A Little Night Music.” Judy Collins’ cover has made it a popular favorite for decades. A Frank Sinatra version is especially poignant.

Jimmy Stewart (clown) and Charlton Heston in “The Greatest Show On Earth”

In the early 70’s, a seemingly more innocent period, I used “Send In The Clowns” as a musical wrap around a political TV piece. I was covering local Boston politics. A primary campaign. Those were the days of political and community icons like “Dapper,” “Fast Freddie,” Trixie, “Kevin From Heaven,” “Wacko,” and “Raybo.”

Those were influential folks, beloved by their constituents and bearers of much political clout. I was on “friendly” terms with most of these folks. There was less Sturm und Drang between the media and politicians in those days.

There was respect.

My piece was shot with silent black and white film.  We were still in the pre-videotape and digital days. I chose silent film over sound because I wanted the music to have more presence, less competition from people talking.

We used a montage of candidates faces, posters and campaign slogans. The lyrics of “Send In The Clowns” soared as the video zoomed in on campaign slogans and candidates kissing babies and pressing the flesh.

I anticipated a flurry of angry calls from campaign directors.  Nothing. Nada. One candidate, over happy hour drinks, praised the cleverness of my piece but said he would’ve preferred the Sinatra version of “Clowns”.

So much for being glib in those days.

Imagine using “Send In The Clowns” today.  For the coming mid-terms.  The  ’20 Presidential race. How would the “Clowns” lyrics fare over the screaming POTUS?  The ranting Rudy? The shouting Sean Hannity?

Should we intercut snippets of circus clowns with “breaking news” video and clips of all the President’s minions?  Don’t forget those shots of the President’s supporters, the “People,” with their “Jail Her” signs and the racist banners flying over political bonfires.

Send in the clowns?  Don’t bother.
They’re already here. 

PANTS ON FIRE – Rich Paschall

State of the Union Address, aka SOTU

Let’s get right to the point, something political speeches usually do not do.  The pronouncements made by the occupant of the White House fall into basically two categories: Lies, and True, but misleading.  It is not unusual for political leaders to take a tidbit of truth and spin it into something it is not.  They like to take any positive news and make the most of it. It is another thing, however, to just lie to the American people and expect to get away with it.

Believe me, folks.

Certainly, 45 and his minions must have known that the fact checkers would be scrutinizing everything he said, especially given his history of daily lies.  That did not seem to stop him from telling some whoppers designed to fire up his fan base.  Followers do not care how much he lies, much to the amazement of many Americans and people around the world.

A vast array of news outlets and independent agencies found a long list of falsehoods and misleading statements by the orange one.  Almost all posted a list of lies except one, the state-friendly FOX News.  They thought the others were just “nitpicking” in their comments on Trump’s supposed “facts.”

While I was reluctant to call the following statements “lies,” rather than “false,” “misstatement,” “error,” or “miscalculation,” I decided that “lie” will work just fine.  After all, the SOTU is an address that is planned well in advance.  The WH has an army of staffers.

Certainly, many of them are checking the facts and cautioning 45 not to say anything too inflammatory or incorrect. That did not stop him.  Maybe it is just more of his “willful ignorance,” but whatever it is, he certainly knows better, or should have.

“The U.S. economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world.”

Lie.

The economy slowed in the fourth quarter last year and is expected to show that it slowed even more in January.  Further, a list of countries has shown greater improvement of economies: Poland, China, India, Latvia. Even Greece, struggling economically for many years, showed greater growth.

“We recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods — and now our Treasury is receiving billions and billions of dollars.”

Misleading.

This is not a good thing as 45 seems to imply.  The US importer pays these extra duties and tariffs.  Usually they are passed along, so in reality, it is the American consumer who is being punished by tariffs.  Even more than this, previously profitable companies are hurting due to extra costs. GM and Ford both claim to lose about a billion dollars each to tariffs.

“My administration has cut more regulations in a short period of time than any other administration during its entire tenure.”

Lie.

Both the Carter and Reagan administrations cut regulations at a faster pace in a number of industries.

“We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs — something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is, we are just getting started.”

Lie.

Certainly, the White House has better access to the Bureau of Labor Statistics than we do.  His numbers are inflated and the pace of job growth is on par with a two-year period of the Obama administration.  Don’t tell him that, he will go crazy (crazier?).

“More people are working now than at any time in our history.”

Misleading.

The reason is by sheer numbers.  There are more people living here “now than at any time in our history.”

“The border city of El Paso, Tex., used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the entire country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities.”

Lie.

El Paso did not have a high crime rate.  Prior to the 2008 border barrier, they were second lowest among cities of similar size.  It is about the same today.

“As we speak, large, organized caravans are on the march to the United States.”

Misleading.

Many plan to stay in Mexico due to new policies there regarding visas.  Some said they will try to enter the US. They did not say they would try “illegally.”

“Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments from birth.”

Lie.

“Cheered with delight?” Cruel to even suggest this happened. NY state passed a state law to protect the right to choose in case the Supreme Court, now with two Trump extreme right wingers on board, should strike down Roe v. Wade. Abortion after 24 weeks would remain very restricted.

“We had the case of the governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth.”

Lie.

Worse than the lie above.

This is just a handful of the false or misleading statements handed out by 45 in the 82-minute marathon.  There are plenty of sources for checking the facts if you think there is any point to it.  If you are to the left of the aisle, you probably figure most of the SOTU was not true. If you are a supporter of 45, you likely ate up every word of it.  It makes you wish the president would go back to the practice of submitting the address in writing.

Sources:

State of the Union Fact Check: What Trump Got Right and Wrong,” http://www.nytimes.com, Feb. 5, 2019.
Dem response to the State of the Union,” http://www.politico.com, Feb. 6, 2019.
Bizarre State of the Union ‘fact checks’ fall flat, as media accused of nitpicking,” http://www.foxnews.com, Feb. 6, 2019.
Trump’s tariffs have already cost Ford $1B; now it’s planning layoffs,” http://www.nbcnews.com, October 8, 2018.
Trump State of the Union 2019: Which president delivered the longest State of the Union? Shortest?http://www.al.com, Feb. 5, 2019.
Intelligence briefers warn of ‘willful ignorance’ on Trump’s part: report,” http://www.thehill.com, Feb. 3, 2019.

ENMITY? NO THANKS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Enmity

I saw this and I thought about writing to it. Except aside from how I feel about Trump, I don’t think I’ve ever felt enmity towards anyone.

Anger? Absolutely. Very, very angry? A lot more than once. Even rather furious and enraged? Uh huh. But nothing that lasted longer than the event. Nothing long-term, permanent, or unforgivable.

So unless I’m going to write about the president and how much I really hate the man — and is “hate” the same as “enmity”?

Junco with our sundial

Regardless I felt that writing about this was going to ruin my day which has been going pretty well, all things considered. Garry vacuumed and dusted — without my asking, which has to be a first in our very long relationship. I took a few bird pictures that I think are kind of cool.

Do I need to write about enmity?

No, I don’t. So instead, please accept this lovely photograph of a Junco having an emotional moment with the toad and our sundial.

SEND IN THE CLOWNS? DON’T BOTHER, THEY’RE HERE – Garry Armstrong

“Send In The Clowns”, on its own merit, is a beautiful song from the show, “A Little Night Music.” Judy Collins’ cover has made it a popular favorite for decades. A Frank Sinatra version is especially poignant.

Jimmy Stewart (clown) and Charlton Heston in “The Greatest Show On Earth”

In the early 70’s, a seemingly more innocent period, I used “Send In The Clowns” as a musical wrap around a political TV piece. I was covering local Boston politics. A primary campaign. Those were the days of political and community icons like “Dapper,” “Fast Freddie,” Trixie, “Kevin From Heaven,” “Wacko,” and “Raybo.”

Those were influential folks, beloved by their constituents and bearers of much political clout. I was on “friendly”terms with most of these folks. There was less Sturm und drang between the media and politicians in those days. There was respect.

My piece was shot with silent black and white film.  We were still in the pre-video tape and digital days. I chose silent film over sound because I wanted the music to have more presence, less competition from people talking.

We used a montage of candidates faces, posters and campaign slogans. The lyrics of “Send In The Clowns” soared as the video zoomed in on campaign slogans and candidates kissing babies and pressing the flesh.

I anticipated a flurry of angry calls from campaign directors.  Nothing. Nada. One candidate, over happy hour drinks, praised the cleverness of my piece but said he would’ve preferred the Sinatra version of “Clowns”.

So much for being glib in those days.

Imagine using “Send In The Clowns” today.  For the coming mid-terms.  The  ’20 Presidential race. How would the “Clowns” lyrics fare over the screaming POTUS?  The ranting Rudy? The shouting Sean Hannity?

Should we intercut snippets of circus clowns with “breaking news” video and clips of all the President’s minions?  Don’t forget those shots of the President’s supporters, the “People,” with their “Jail Her” signs and the racist banners flying over political bonfires.

Send in the clowns?  Don’t bother. They’re already here.

 

SEND IN THE CLOWNS – Garry Armstrong

“Send In The Clowns”, on its own merit, is a beautiful song from the show, “A Little Night Music.” Judy Collins’ cover has made it a popular favorite for decades. A Frank Sinatra version is especially poignant.

Jimmy Stewart (clown) and Charlton Heston in “The Greatest Show On Earth”

In the early 70’s, a seemingly more innocent period, I used “Send In The Clowns” as a musical wrap around a political TV piece. I was covering local Boston politics. A primary campaign. Those were the days of political and community icons like “Dapper,” “Fast Freddie,” Trixie, “Kevin From Heaven,” “Wacko,” and “Raybo.”

Those were influential folks, beloved by their constituents and bearers of much political clout. I was on “friendly”terms with most of these folks. There was less Sturm und drang between the media and politicians in those days. There was respect.

My piece was shot with silent black and white film.  We were still in the pre-video tape and digital days. I chose silent film over sound because I wanted the music to have more presence, less competition from people talking.

We used a montage of candidates faces, posters and campaign slogans. The lyrics of “Send In The Clowns” soared as the video zoomed in on campaign slogans and candidates kissing babies and pressing the flesh.

I anticipated a flurry of angry calls from campaign directors.  Nothing. Nada. One candidate, over happy hour drinks, praised the cleverness of my piece but said he would’ve preferred the Sinatra version of “Clowns”.

So much for being glib in those days.

Imagine using “Send In The Clowns” today.  For the coming mid-terms.  The  ’20 Presidential race. How would the “Clowns” lyrics fare over the screaming POTUS?  The ranting Rudy? The shouting Sean Hannity?

Should we intercut snippets of circus clowns with “breaking news” video and clips of all the President’s minions?  Don’t forget those shots of the President’s supporters, the “People,” with their “Jail Her” signs and the racist banners flying over political bonfires.

Send in the clowns?  Don’t bother. They’re already here.

WTF IS GOING ON? – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’m so confused. I used to think I had some handle on what was going on in the news. Pretty much all bad, all crazy, all the time. But I had definite opinions on how I thought things would play out.

No more. I’m clueless now. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I was sure that no matter what Trump did or what Mueller found, the Republicans in control of Congress would not do anything to censure, let alone impeach him. I thought we would have to wait for Democrats to regain control of both houses in Congress before impeachment could even be considered. And even then, I didn’t believe that there would be enough votes in the Senate to actually convict Trump and remove him from office. So any impeachment by the House would end up being a toothless gesture.

At that point, my brain would freeze over. I had no idea what would happen next in my own scenario.

Now I’m less certain about this whole theory. I’m really not sure what will happen in the future or even later today. So much happens so quickly these days. Often out of the blue, or so it seems. Trump makes spontaneous, off the cuff policy announcements that no one in his own White House knows about or is prepared for. He often backtracks the next day. Or not! Headline news stories blare out constantly with revelations from various investigations, law suits and ethics probes involving the president and his merry band of unethical misfits.

I worry that Trump will bomb a random country and start another pointless war. I live in fear that Trump will fire Robert Mueller or Rod Rosenstein, which would have the same effect. One minute I’m sure he’ll do it and throw the country into a major constitutional crisis with no satisfactory resolution in Republican controlled Washington. The next minute I’m sure he won’t risk the major political explosion he would trigger if he interfered with the Mueller investigation.

This perpetual uncertainty makes me very uncomfortable. I pride myself on staying informed enough to understand what’s going on in the news at any given time. I’m shaky on Mid Eastern and Far Eastern policy and economics. But I usually have a handle on domestic news and policies. I have to narrow my focus since I don’t want to spend even more time than I already do consuming news every day. I’m a slow reader so I can only cover so much territory.

Things are happening so quickly and so randomly that I can’t keep up any more. Even though I do try.

I have to admit that sometimes all the national drama can be exciting and energizing. But the crazy and the unpredictable are going into warp drive. Trump seems to be devolving and dragging us all under with him. It’s getting less and less exciting and more and more scary and insane.

I wish I could turn away from this slow motion train wreck, but I can’t. So I’ll keep reading and watching MSNBC and hope that my sanity survives longer than Trump’s does.

Robert Reich: The Meaning of America – http://robertreich.org/

HUMAN RIGHTS


Robert Reich: The Meaning of America
We are forgetting the ideals on which our nation was built.
By Robert Reich / Robert Reich’s Blog February 18, 2018, 2:33 PM GMT


When Trump and his followers refer to “America,” what do they mean?

Some see a country of white English-speaking Christians.

Others want a land inhabited by self-seeking individuals free to accumulate as much money and power as possible, who pay taxes only to protect their assets from criminals and foreign aggressors.

Photo Credit: Celso FLORES / Flickr CC

Others think mainly about flags, national anthems, pledges of allegiance, military parades, and secure borders.

Trump encourages a combination of all three – tribalism, libertarianism, and loyalty.

But the core of our national identity has not been any of this. It has been found in the ideals we share – political equality, equal opportunity, freedom of speech and of the press, a dedication to open inquiry and truth, and to democracy and the rule of law.

We are not a race. We are not a creed. We are a conviction – that all people are created equal, that people should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, and that government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Political scientist Carl Friedrich, comparing Americans to Gallic people, noted that “to be an American is an ideal, while to be a Frenchman is a fact.”

That idealism led Lincoln to proclaim that America might yet be the “last best hope” for humankind. It prompted Emma Lazarus, some two decades later, to welcome to American the world’s “tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

It inspired the poems of Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, and the songs of Woody Guthrie. All turned their love for America into demands that we live up to our ideals. “This land is your land, this land is my land,” sang Guthrie. “Let America be America again,” pleaded Hughes: “The land that never has been yet – /And yet must be – the land where every man is free. / The land that’s mind – the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME –.”

That idealism sought to preserve and protect our democracy – not inundate it with big money, or allow one party or candidate to suppress votes from rivals, or permit a foreign power to intrude on our elections.

It spawned a patriotism that once required all of us take on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going – paying taxes in full rather than seeking loopholes or squirreling money away in foreign tax shelters, serving in the armed forces or volunteering in our communities rather than relying on others to do the work.


Robert Reich is the nation’s 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.


Source for complete post: http://robertreich.org/