KNOTS, PRETZELS, AND THE PRESS – BY TOM CURLEY

It’s been fun since the election watching the right-wing press, mostly lead by Fox News, bend themselves into evermore twisty and convoluted pretzels as they try to explain the latest gaffe/scandal/complete act of idiocy coming out of the White House.

The Dunderhead-In-Chief keeps admitting he does things, like, I don’t know. Like, give up code word “intel” to the Russians. In the Oval Office. Admitting that he fired an FBI Director because he was being investigated by the FBI over his connections to Russia … to the same Russians!  You know, stuff like that.

Hey guys, the CIA just told me some really cool stuff. Wanna hear it?

His defenses all boil down to: “He can do that if he wants to, so there” and “It’s Obama’s fault!”

This is nothing new. If we’ve learned anything in the last four months it’s that no matter how crazy we think things will be, they’ll be even crazier. We also know that the SCROTUS M.O. is to distract today’s scandal with a worse scandal tomorrow.

So, the question becomes, where does he have left to go? What scandal could be worse than today’s? Wait, I got it. He actually shoots somebody on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to prove he wouldn’t lose any of his supporters.

SEAN HANNITY: Breaking news. President Trump just shot a man on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Secret service agents immediately pounced on the man and wrestled him to the ground.

SEAN HANNITY: Here to discuss this breaking story we have Senior White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Kellyanne, let’s start with you.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well first off I think it’s very unfair the way the fake news media have been saying the President shot a man on Fifth Avenue.

BERNIE SANDERS: But he did! He shot a guy! On Fifth Avenue! On live TV!

What the hell?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: That’s one way of looking at it. I didn’t see the President shoot a man on Fifth Avenue. I saw the President save a man on Fifth Avenue.

BERNIE SANDERS: Save him?? From what?!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Radical Islāmic Terrorism.

BERNIE SANDERS: WHAT???!!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: And besides, the President was elected in the largest landslide in the history of the world. So, he has the right to shoot anybody he wants.

BERNIE SANDERS: NO HE DOESN’T!!!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, he can order drone strikes. He can send troops into war. He can launch missiles. In every case, he’s killing somebody. So why can’t he just take out a gun and shoot a man?

SEAN HANNITY: Hmmm. That makes sense. Executive privilege.

BERNIE SANDERS: NO IT DOESN’T!! Well, actually, it makes a little sense … No! What am I saying??! This is still crazy! He shot a guy to prove that none of his supporters would leave him!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: That’s ridiculous. He was saving a man from Radical Islam. Every White House aide agrees with me.

SEAN HANNITY: This just in: President Trump told Lester Holt of NBC News that he shot the man to prove none of his supporters would leave him.

BERNIE SANDERS: SEE???

SEAN HANNITY: This also just in. A recent CBS/NY Times Poll says that President Trump has not lost any of his supporters. 85 percent said, “The guy had it coming.” The other 15 percent said “The guy probably had it coming.”

And so it would go. Full confession. This idea is not new. Google “George Bush ate a baby” and “George Bush Saves a baby”.

Everything old is new again. Just dumber.

DESCENDING TO THE CENTER OF DISSENSION

In Hebrew, one is always said to be “going up to Jerusalem.” Not only because Jerusalem sits on a mountain — not one of the Rockies or the Himalayas, but a mountain — something you’d know if you tried to drive there in a small car up the roads to the city from the coast, but because it is closer to heaven than other parts of earth.

For Donaldo MacCheesehead, it is definitely descending.

MacCheesehead’s trip to the middle east terrifies me on one hand, but on the other makes me laugh uncontrollably — to the point of falling down. If I had another hand, I’m not sure what I would do. Maybe weep?

Jerusalem – the star in the middle was where I lived, an area called “Baka.”

I remember when I went up to live in Jerusalem. I had read Exodus (Leon Uris) probably 100 times the year I was 14. I had been exhorted by my mother and many other family members on the importance of Israel to Our People. For the life of me, I couldn’t see why everyone couldn’t reach a sensible settlement. I’m a lot smarter than Chief Orange Blossom, but it turns out, you really need to live there for a while to “get” it. When I finally got it, I knew it was time to go home. I was not going to settle the problems. Not mine or anyone else’s.

To say that it’s “not as easy as it appears” doesn’t come near the heart of the problem. There isn’t a heart to the problem. So much of what happened in the region took place long enough ago that its remembrance is wildly twisted. The shape of the past bears little resemblance to anything that really happened. It has been buried by myth, opinion, counter-opinion, hopes, dreams … and far too much money spent on guns and hate.

Israel now

Who did what, when, and why? There is some truth to everything, but there is no absolute Truth in the craziness. No final, resonating Grand Truth against which no argument will stand except this single one.

The Jewish people deserve a place on earth where they can live and not be slaughtered because they are Jews. You can’t extract that position from the equation and come up with any answer.

The return of lands to Egypt and Syria

Since that is what “the Arab States” have consistently demanded, there has been no significant progress … collectively. Yet there has been quite a lot of progress between individual countries. Even before Jordan and Israel had an “official” peace, they had a good, working, informal agreement. And a lot of traffic between the two countries.

The peace with Egypt has had its ups and downs, but it still is hanging in there, on some level, and maybe if that nation’s own craziness were to fade, things would probably improve elsewhere, too.

Syria? Well, that’s not happening anytime soon. Lebanon? I don’t know what’s going  on up there, these days, so I have no current opinion. If I had one, I’m sure it would be complex, confusing, and involve hashish.

Israel in context with neighboring countries

America’s Orange King is going to discover — soon — that nothing in this part of the world is simple. He has not risen to Jerusalem, but rather fallen into the mire. In many ways, it should remind the man of his own issues with truth. Because in the middle east, there is no truth. Just fights, disagreement, disputes, arguments, confusion, dismay, ancient hatreds, and grudges which will never die.

“Simple” in not a word to use when talking of Israel and her neighbors.

If not for the future of human life and death on Planet Earth were not part of this conversation, it really would be funny.

So. For a man whose ability to focus on a problem is shorter than two minutes, getting him to “think” about making peace in the middle east really does make me choke with laughter … and tears. I’m sure his vision for the region is … HUGE!

BREAKING NEWS OVERLOAD – BY ELLIN CURLEY

We’ve been shell shocked by the barrage of non-stop breaking news that’s been coming at us at warp speed. These past eight days have been a news tsunami. As soon as we started to digest the news of one day, we would get hit with another major story the next. At one point, my husband and I couldn’t remember what the crisis was only two days before! Yet, at the time, we were sure that it could never get any worse than it was then.

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

This news fatigue is like information overload but on steroids and turned up to Def Con 5. Cable Newscasters are screaming at us at top volume around the clock. Everything is OMG!!!!! For our part, we’re all becoming adrenaline junkies. If there was a day without a major story to occupy our emotional and intellectual energies, we’d go into withdrawal.

We have gotten used to the 24/7 drama way too easily.

To recap the major news stories of the past eight days:

Trump fires FBI Director James Comey while Comey was investigating Trump’s ties to Russia. At first Trump’s staff said the firing was because of Comey’s treatment of Hillary Clinton in the campaign (Right!). Two days later, Trump gave an interview in which he admitted that he did it because of the Russia investigation (This smacks of obstruction of justice).

Trump invites high Russian officials into the Oval Office and bans all U.S. Press from the meeting. The event is photographed by a Russian photojournalist. (WTF?) A few days later it came out that Trump revealed TOP SECRET intelligence to the Russians. This may have compromised operatives and operations of a major ally, Israel (You’ve got to be kidding!)

Comey leaks that Trump asked him to pledge loyalty to Trump. The FBI Director swears fealty to the Constitution, not the President! (This also smacks of obstruction of justice). A few days later, Comey’s associates reveal the contents of a memo Comey wrote documenting a conversation with the President. In it, the President pressured Comey to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn and his ties to Russia. (That IS obstruction of justice!)

For dessert, we learn that Michael Flynn told Trump’s people that he was under investigation by the FBI BEFORE he was hired by the administration. Despite that information, Trump appointed him as National Security Adviser, a high security level position. (You can’t make this shit up!)

It was exciting to live through the Watergate investigations. But then the story unfolded in slow and steady drip, drip, drips over a long period of time. People had time to digest information, regroup and brace for the next headline story. We’re living through a waterfall of stories tumbling out on top of one another onto our heads. And Trump has only been in office for four months!

Trump supporters wanted Trump to shake things up in Washington. I don’t think they realized that this meant he would put all Americans into a giant blender and turn the switch onto HIGH! If this goes on for four, or even two years, I don’t think that there will be enough PTSD Treatment Centers in the country to handle the demand!

KEEP NET NEUTRALITY — FOR EVERYONE!

If you haven’t done this yet, PLEASE do. This isn’t a political issue. Everyone who uses and needs the internet — for business, telephones, email, blogs, messages to friends and family. Anyone who watches WiFi television on their TV, computer, phone, or tablet  … WE ALL NEED A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD to do our business, whatever it is. We need a place where Comcast and others like them cannot take it away. We got this bill passed two years ago. Now, they are trying to take it back.

The results of this would be personally catastrophic for most of us, no matter what we do for a living. Don’t let them kill this. Whatever your political opinions are, we REALLY DO NEED THE INTERNET.

It isn’t an “extra” anymore. It’s a basic part of living in the today’s world.

Sign up, sign on, and watch the skies!


Friends,

Like the open Internet? So do we. Unfortunately, Ajit Pai, the new Chair of the Federal Communications Commission, is trying to upend the Internet as we know it today.

Chairman Pai has announced a plan to undo the strong, enforceable rules put in place in a hard-fought battle in 2015 to protect the open Internet. Without these net neutrality rules, Verizon, Comcast, and the other Internet Service Providers will be able to control what we do online. They will be free to block content, control the flow of information, and create pay-to-play schemes.

Big Telecom wants to reap big profits through schemes that will allow them — not Internet users — to pick winners and losers online.

This Thursday, the FCC will take its first vote on Chairman Pai’s disastrous plan to screw consumers. We need you to raise your voice — sign this petition to tell Ajit Pai, Verizon, and Comcast that we won’t stand by and let them kill the open Internet.

This is the LINK: https://petitions.signforgood.com/ProtectNetNeutrality/…

Because of net neutrality rules, the Internet has become an unparalleled engine for democracy, innovation, education, communication, entertainment and commerce. Help us save the Internet from Comcast and its cronies in Washington.

Raising your voices,

Lauren Windsor
Executive Director
American Family Voices


The information you submit through this form including your name, address (required by the FCC) and message will be transmitted to the FCC as an official public comment. As such, it will be publicly available and searchable through the FCC’s website.

In order to send your message to the FCC, your information will pass through a third-party application, which will not retain the data after completing the submission.

By signing this petition, you agree to receive email updates from some of the below participating organizations (no more than four). You can, of course, opt out of receiving these updates at any time.

In 2015, we won strong open Internet protections under Title II of the Communications Act because of a massive public outcry in support of net neutrality, including 4 million of us who spoke out to support it. Since then, opponents of net neutrality have been relentless in trying to take away our hard-fought victory — first in the courts, and now through the FCC. We need to be as relentless in our support of net neutrality as the other side has been in their opposition, and we need to send a strong message to everyone who has power — whether they’re members of the House, the Senate or the FCC — that we will not let them turn back the clock on the open Internet.

Sign the petition today!


Participating Organizations:


#AllOfUs
American Family Voices
Climate Hawks Vote
Common Cause
Consumers Union
Corporate Accountability International
Courage Campaign
Daily Kos
Democracy for America
Demand Progress
OpenMedia
PEN America
People Demanding Action
People For the American Way
People’s Action
Presente.org
Progressive Congress Action Fund
Public Knowledge
Rainforest Action Network
RootsAction.org
The Nation
Win Without War

Supporting Organization:
Free Press Action Fund
International Documentary Association

ROOTS: ROOM FOR REALITY?

I’m not thrilled with news. Any news. I can’t abide right-wing lies based on the exact opposite of what happened, especially when they are talking about things through which I lived and have seen. For shear blatant not-even-a-hint-of truth lying, they are the winners. But the left of the aisle crap is only nominally better. They may begin from a hint of truth, but then take some minor thing and blow it up to something gigantic. Put up a headline on it which sounds as if something astounding is about to (or just did) happen. So whatever it was, it ends up a total lie.


At the root was something real, but the result is nonsense.
I would have to be a fool to believe it.
At this point, I don’t believe anything.

My personal political allegiances are not news. I don’t need news organizations to approve or disapprove on my behalf. That’s not the point of news.

I want information, data, and facts based on a recognizable reality. I want the news to give me an informed, intelligent, and preferably neutral idea of what’s going on. I don’t want overblown headlines about how Trump is about to be impeached. Because he isn’t about to be impeached (yet) and anyone with half a brain knows that. I don’t want shouted headlines about stuff that isn’t happening and will never occur. Nor do I want distorted stories which only make the stuff in which I believe look stupid.


I don’t want right-wing “summaries” about news that never happened and will never occur.  I don’t want left-wing fairy tales, either. 

It’s hard to find believable news from any source. I don’t trust anything from any form of social media. Each has its own version of what they think I want to hear. I don’t want to hear what they think I want to hear. I want to know what happened. What was seen. What was written. Then I will decide what I believe.

In today’s world, is there room for reality?

We’ve been watching a PBS series about World War 1. It was a terrible time. It was also when many of the myths, fables, and lies with which we are now living, began. It was the time when we started thinking we were fighting for democracy, and that somehow, we were “the right country” to defend democracy everywhere. It wasn’t true then. It isn’t true now.

We have been believing those same lies since 1914, the beginning of the breach between our political halves. It was the start of what we see every day in 2017. A hundred years of lying. Wilson could have gotten everything he wanted from Congress including the League of Nations, but refused to accept it because (are you ready?) the “deal” was offered by the wrong party.

Bringing us to today. News agencies? Please get off your soap boxes. Give me facts. That might be a start to a better world. For everyone.

BLOWING IT UP

We are closing in on 100 days of Trump-o-Matic. From crisis, to calamity, catastrophe to cataclysm, it has been everything we feared and more. Just when we think it can’t get worse, it gets worse. Then, it gets worser.

Trump-o-Matic managed to get elected, but he has no functional cabinet. No direction. For all that, he seems intent on leading us to war. He can’t write a piece of legislation and has no legislative agenda. But war? He’s got that one!

Like morons, we applaud as if the act of bombing other countries somehow makes us “the good guys.” The guys we bomb may not be better than us, be we are doing the bombing … so what does that make us? Does it never occur to anyone that maybe we aren’t the good guys either? That our enthusiasm for going to war — especially when a president needs a “ratings boost” — don’t give us a high moral authority?

This is another one of those times when I laugh hysterically. The oncoming demise of this world is surely worth, at the very least, a guffaw or a solid chuckle.  It isn’t funny at all, but what’s left to do but laugh? A war with North Korea is potentially life ending and considering how hard I’ve worked to stay alive over the past decade, I want to live. Even with Trump-o-Matic in power.

There is a madness sweeping the world. Not just in the United States, but everywhere. All over — Europe, Australia, England and who knows where else — people are voting into office the kind of people we had two world wars to eliminate. Two generations of men and women were slaughtered to finally remove them from power. The most hideous part is that the people who are voting for these dreadful, brutal, hateful dictatorial idiots don’t realize that they are doing again what their predecessors did before.

Blind to the past, they are walking backwards into a terrible future.

I AM NOT IN DENIAL!

I am not in denial. Well, maybe a little. Just enough so I can sleep at night. We all need a little denial these days. 

Here’s what happened with Bannon and the National Security Council. Or so I believe based on what I’ve read.

Flynn was Trump-o-Matic’s pick for the National Security Council, which is supposedly non-political. Its intent is to advise the president on military and international events. It isn’t supposed to be a party thing and purports to stand outside the political arena. This is the group that tells him the truth, even if he doesn’t like it.

When the Trump administration came to town, he gave Bannon – a top political adviser – a seat on that council. Beyond highly political and worse, Bannon is possibly beyond normal morality and maybe, in his own way, as wacko as his president. Not a National Security Council kind of guy. Simultaneously, Trump told military and intelligence officials they were not needed at “every meeting.” This set off flashing red lights all over the globe. Weeks later, Mike Flynn was forced out. His replacement forced Bannon out.

Take a look at THE DAILY SKIMM. They are excellent at explaining this stuff without getting so fancy you aren’t sure what they are trying to say. I read the LA Times, the Boston Globe, New Yorker and more, but when I need to get a down-to-earth explanation, the Skimm does it for me. It’s free. Try it.

It would be hard not to view this development as a good thing. At least in areas where our military and others are at mortal risk, relatively sane people are in charge.


Trump-o-Matic will probably not get those raw intelligence briefings after all. Can we take a deep breath and murmur “yay”?

Today rather than hysterical laughter, I am smiling a little. Breathing if not normally, then at least a lot better. There are people watching the ramparts.

But, we are not exactly in the clear. Trump-o-Matic is meeting with the Chinese today and even he doesn’t think this a meeting that will go well. All the while, he is pondering North Korea. And Syria. And still trying to blame Obama.

Aren’t we glad Bannon is out of the National Security Council? You should be and probably, so is the rest of the world.

To reiterate: We have a president who can’t read briefings, has no understanding of how the military works. He is meeting with the Chinese government and is thinking about nuclear options in North Korea.


What could possibly go wrong?