Archive for the ‘The Press’ Category.

General Kelly and Seeing the Real Problem

After the FF (Fat F*ck, aka President Trump) turned the killed servicemen into a political issue, and then totally botched  the call after the Press had asked if he had made any calls (where he lied about other presidents), Generally Kelly came out and made an impassioned plea to depoliticize the whole issue, explaining what happened.  Now this should have both been pointed at his boss and ended the issue, but then he turned around and made a partisan political attack on the Congresswoman in the car where call was made (at the request of the grieving parents).  Trump of course lied about all this instead of saying, I botched and I am truly sorry, to which Kelly did not deny the conversation, but attack the Congresswoman for making a “private” call public.

Well, bull shit.  First she was asked to be there and it was put on speakerphone.  Was the President alone when the call (No)?  Secondly he offended them with his lack of empathy, which is just another instance of why he should not be president.  But then Kelly made a partisan attack on the Congresswoman, racial in undertones, showing he is not the steady hand that some were hoping for.  Kelly even made references to “other” gold star families who have spoken out and he had no right to tell them they cannot use their First Amendment rights. Then there was what was sacred discussion that let you know this man is so far removed from reality that he too is dangerous. I think Lawrence O’Donnell took his attack apart better than anyone because he had the guts to.

I want you to note one other thing.  What General Kelly heard and told the FF to say is not the same thing he said.  It is a classic example of how little understand the FF has of the human condition.

Meanwhile the Republicans passed a budget bill on all Republican votes that most of them do not know what is in it.  It was to get a win.  So far the reasonable experts tell us a couple of things.  It busts the budget and like Kansas, may create a fiscal disaster. Tax cuts don’t necessarily equal growth.  Meanwhile Wall Street is doing great and the FF is taking credit when what is really driving the economy right now is low interest rates, set up in the Obama Administration.  If as most of us think, giant deficit spending that the budget bill and the follow on tax cut will create become a reality, the interest rate will go up, and kiss the economy goodbye.

The other part of this is that less than 52% of Americans own stocks, and the majority of the FF’s supporters do not.  How Wall Street does has little with working Americans, and let’s just review, Bank of America just downgraded Chipotle stocks because they think they pay their employees too much.  Bring back slavery!  That is the mentality we are dealing with.

Meanwhile, ex-Presidents Bush and Obam took on the FF finally.  Of course there is some real hypocrisy here, but at least major figures are starting to stand up.  I am off to Oakland for a Van Morrison concert and will try to ignore the madness that is our government these days.  Happy Friday.

The Fat F*ck

Sorry, but that is now how I see this despicable man we call the President. As the days go on, you start to wonder why the nation does not throw him out. He stands before us and tells one lie after another, and his behavior obscene, totally unbecoming a president of this country. I have to wonder how anyone at this point thinks he has either business acumen or is a crafty politician. He is a blathering lying fool. The latest was as he stood in the White House Garden pretending he and Mitch don’t despise one another and blatantly lied about President Obama and other presidents meeting with the parents of fallen service men. It was such a blatant and distasteful lie that went beyond the bounds of the new normal of his lying. There is such a sickness here that permeates everything he does. And what he does is out of meanness, spite, and ignorance.

Look at the lies he spouts about Obamacare. He is wrecking it with no thought to what comes next for the people who will suffer. He tells the whopper that most Republicans tell us that we will have more choice and our premiums will go down and he opens the door to junk plans and cuts subsidies to policies for the really poor. Oh and look at that group in the picture with him. Pander white f*cks who have got theirs. And any reasonable analysis tells us this is all a big lie. Sure you will be fine if you are healthy. But when shit happens, and it will, you are back to the pre-Obamacare days where the number one cause of bankruptcy was health issues and medical bills.

Then there is the nonsense he spouts on the Iran nuclear deal. And what he is doing here is mixing apples and oranges. Sure Iran does bad things, but the one they are not doing is building nukes. That is what the agreement was about. And no, there are no violations and it is working. So he just walks away or is going to “negotiate a better deal”? Um, what about the other countries that actually make this thing work? What we are seeing is that the trust of the United States to keep its word is non-existent. That ought to work out well with North Korea.

Here we have a man who is shocked, shocked, shocked at Harvey Weinstein and yet he admitted to sexually assaulting women, but that was just “locker room”. Here we have a man who flaunts using his position of power to enrich himself. Here is a man who stands before the nation and tells us lies about the electrical power plants in Puerto Rico, and threatens to abandon them, our fellow Americans. And here is a man who rates everything he does by the reviews he gets. He spends days on the NFL and says nothing until pressed about the servicemen killed in Africa.

I don’t know how much more evidence you need that he is not fit to be anywhere near the oval office. He is a smug, arrogant, buffoon in the best of lights, and a mean nasty little man who is working out his feelings of inadequacy on the nation by lashing out, destroying everything in his wake in the worst of lights. The really sad thing is that many of us and press lets him off as we get used to his lies. But I find him an embarrassment to the whole notion of what it is to be an American. So let me say this loud and clear, “THAT FAT FUCK IS NOT MY PRESIDENT. I think John McCain, knowing his days are numbered probably said it best when he took on the Trump/Bannon faction of his party when he got his Liberty Award yesterday, but his aim should have been wider at the lack of spine both he and his party have shown over the years to bring us to this abomination. Let’s not forget the ignorance of Sarah Palin. So I will leave you with this, and it is truly a sad thought. I have never been so ashamed and embarrassed to be an American. That is the times we are living in.

Level of Frustration and Other Topics

Today is one of those days I truly hate being old. I look at the devastation in Sonoma and Santa Rosa, and I want to get out there and help. I look at the devastation in Puerto Rico and I want to hop on an airplane and help them rebuild. And the truth is, I wouldn’t be much help. I would just get in the way. That wasn’t always the case, but I simply can’t do it anymore. It is this stark reality of my limitations. It is that reality that I am not what I used to be nor am I going to be again when I could take on almost anything.

I think what makes this doubly frustration is there is so much that could be done and we have a government led by a moron. His best attributes are his ability to tear things down, lie, pander with ignorance and racists, and connive. I know in California, we have good government and good people who will rise to the occasion. So does America, but under the leadership of Republicans and the village idiot, we see a wrecking ball, not leadership to build from the ashes. There is no vision there except some super capitalist utopian hell envisioned by Ayn Rand. I read this this morning about one Santa Rosa woman who lost her home and wanted to get in my car, but again, I would just get in the way:

She’s answering the logistical questions one-by-one: Where will they live? When will the children return to school? She has no answer for the most difficult questions about her upended life: Will things ever be the same?

“Our house had a certain smell to it,” she said. “It was our house. When you come home it has that smell. How can I replicate that smell for my kids, or is it gone forever?”

“This is ranking up there with when my brother died. It’s right up there — one of the worst things that’s ever happened in my life. But I’ve got to suck it up and power through — for my kids and for my husband and for myself. I can’t have a pity party, party of one. Because if I fall apart, we’re all going to fall apart.”

I like to think that we Americans are optimistic and enterprising, that we can fix these things. We are actually, and we can, except we now have a Republican led government that can do nothing, and wonders along with their leader, how they can blame the victims for this tragedy. Remember in Puerto Rico it was their fault because they were in debt (again aided and abetted by Washington and profit sucking financial institutions).

I guess my biggest frustration is there is so much that we could do. There is so much to fix and I want to leap out of my chair and get at it. But like our now Republican enfeebled country, my knees won’t allow any leaping, So I sit here and write. My time on this planet is now limited. But couldn’t we just start fixing a few things so when I do leave I know we are moving in the right direction? I have to figure out how to turn this ship around if only one mind at a time. Like the woman above, and I will rephrase: This is ranking up there with one of the worst times in my life. But I’ve got to suck it up and power through — for my kids and for my wife and for myself. I can’t have a pity party, party of one. Because if I fall apart, we’re all going to fall apart.  We so need a leader to lead us out of the wilderness we have gotten lost in.

Okay, perspective. I can only control what I can control and I am actually a very very lucky man even with the prostate cancer. The world (bubble) which I live in is very blessed. So let’s turn to baseball. Last night the LA Dodgers beat those uppity Cubs and there was a controversial call at home plate. Since some of the disastrous injuries in baseball occur with the catcher trying to block the plate with a runner trying to score (See Buster Posey), it was ruled that unless you have the ball, you cannot black the plate. In this game, as the catcher was catching the ball, he stuck his leg out behind him to block the plate (good way to get your leg broken) and tagged the runner out. On replay it was overturned ruling the catcher was blocking the plate before he had the ball. The old farts in baseball were all aghast. Stupid rule! That is the athleticism of the game! It was great play!

On the contrary, I think they made absolutely the right call. To do anything else would have once again announced open season on catchers trying to catch the ball or make a tag. It would have turned baseball into football at home plate. The thing I love about baseball is that it is driven competition without the violence and hate. This would change that. What I get from all this is how hard change is for people who are used to a certain way of doing things. And that is in a microcosm the problem this country faces as change is accelerating and the Republicans feed fear promising to drag us back to a time that never existed.

One last thought from Nicholas Kristof who took some criticism for his trip to North Korea, which I actually thought was quite informing and alarming as we move toward war and the DIC has no clue what game he is playing. Nicholas defended his actions with this and in this world where news is now a profit center so on-site reporting is at a minimum, we ought to think about:

Being on the ground in a country lets you see things and absorb their power: the speaker on the walls of homes to feed propaganda; the pins that every adult wears with portraits of members of the Kim family; the daily power outages, but also signs that the economy is growing despite international sanctions; the Confucian emphasis on dignity that makes officials particularly resent Trump’s personal attacks on Kim; the hardening of attitudes since my last visit, in 2005; and the bizarre confidence that North Korea can not only survive a nuclear war with the U.S. but also emerge as victor…

I left North Korea fearing that we are far too complacent about the risk of a cataclysmic war that could kill millions. And that’s why reporting from within North Korea is crucial: There simply is no substitute for being in a place. It’s a lesson we should have learned from the run-up to the Iraq war, when the reporting was too often from the Washington echo chamber rather than the field. When the stakes are millions of lives and official communications channels are nonexistent, then journalism can sometimes serve as a bridge — and as a warning.

And let’s never forget how they failed us with the DIC, right here in our own country. Not my President.

Taking a Step Back and Reflecting

This is a long one, but lays out I think, all the connecting of dots for our way forward.  In Florida the mob is out with the pitchforks and torches over the death of elderly residents at a care facility in Hollywood Florida. There was an immediate call for criminal proceedings. Why? Certainly it was a tragedy as these folks basically died of complications from heat stroke. But other than that we don’t know what happened. Wouldn’t we want a thorough investigation before you erect your gallows? I am not here to argue who did what or did not do what, I am just using this example to show how we tend to want to blame first, and find out facts later, maybe leaving many innocent victims in our wake.

It is with this in mind that I watch Hillary being interviewed and pushing her new book. I have been clear that I just want her to go away, in a sense blaming her for Donald Trump. But as a great article in the Atlantic by James Fallows makes the case, she does have something to teach us. You don’t have to agree with her to learn something here and on many things she is direct and right. As James put it:

If you’ve read this book, with Clinton’s repeated reminders that blame for this historic disaster begins with her, you’re more likely to start yelling at the TV—or the newspaper or the website—when you see pundits, mainly male, saying that it’s time for Hillary Clinton to “step back” or “stop whining” or “get off the stage” or “stop making excuses.” She’s telling an interesting and important tale—and one with uncomfortable implications for the press among other institutions.

So as one of my friends reminds me, she still commands the respect of millions and maybe we ought to allow her her podium. I listened to the Rachel Maddow  interview on MSNBC and on many policy issues she has great insights, and unlike the idiot we have in office, actually knows their history and the players. There is no argument here that she would have been much for better the country than the train wreck we are on right now.

Her point about the press fixating on SQUIRREL! (emails) and Trump’s understanding of this to get 24/7 coverage of his lies is critical to her loss and has not been fully reconciled by the press as they continue their nonstop coverage of the Village Idiot in Charge when he or his surrogates say nonsense. The White House Press briefing has become an arrogant fuck you America and we still get it live every day, giving them a megaphone to spout lies.

But in that interview with Rachel and in her book (which I have not read yet, but will, so I am judging here from excerpts), I can find no real reckoning with the massive loss of Democrats in state and federal government positions over the Obama years. Rachel did not ask the hard one here about why Democrats could not get the vote out. And that I think is my critical criticism of Hillary and Democrats in general and why I have argued in the past that I wish she would just go away. They have not come to grips with this except as a bunch of tactical errors, not why they do not excite the electorate.

I withdraw my just go away critique and I think we can learn from her, as long as she is never a candidate again. Her advice on policy and knowledge of the players may be invaluable, but on the big issue of strategic vision, she is sorely lacking. Right or wrong there is just too much baggage and a lack of trust. It can’t be won back.  There is too much history and a history of calculating on isses and following the herd (gay marriage for one).

So why did Democrats basically get relegated into also rans? Now before I answer this question, I want to bring up one other question that has driven me nuts: Why do most Americans reside in Fantasyland? Why is it that facts became relative? They aren’t you know. If the last election were run on issues and facts, Hillary would have won in a landslide. Democrats in general would fare much better in the polls. Facts, data, and science are mostly on their side. Donald and the Republicans have repeated lies and misrepresented the facts and Donald’s White Mob (his base) is as Hillary said, deplorable. Yet he got elected and so did the Republicans. How is that?

Well there is a great book that goes a long way to explaining it called, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500 Year History, by Kurt Anderson. Basically he gives us this great condensation:

The short answer is because we’re Americans, because being American means we can believe any damn thing we want, that our beliefs are equal or superior to anyone else’s, experts be damned.

He tells of Stephen Colbert riffing as the conservative character he created on his invented word, truthiness, and summing up that philosophy is this monologue:

Now I’m sure some of the “word police,” the “wordinistas” over at Webster’s, are gonna say, “Hey, that’s not a word!” Well, anybody who knows me knows that I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They’re elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn’t true. Or what did or didn’t happen. Who’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that’s my right. I don’t trust books—they’re all fact, no heart…. Face it, folks, we are a divided nation… divided between those who think with their head and those who know with their heart…. Because that’s where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlemen—the gut.

He tells us of all the mystical fanciful things we like to believe (religion, witches, Obama is a Muslim, Angels, Devils, Heaven, black helicopters, etc.) and makes this assertion about us:

By my reckoning, the more or less solidly reality-based are a minority, maybe a third of us but almost certainly fewer than half. Only a third of us, for instance, believe with some certainty that CO2 emissions from cars and factories are the main cause of Earth’s warming.

I called this faith-based thinking and I have argued in a similar vein that our religious training and beliefs gives rise to this duality of thinking, rational and faith-based, that starts crossing lines and gives us what we want to believe instead of what is.

I am in that third, solidly reality-based group.  Certainly I have my prejudices and things I want to believe, but in the end, facts, science, and data inform me.  If tax cuts for the wealthy really worked I would jump on it.  If unregulated markets are really the best solution for all things, I would be all for them.  If for profit healthcare really did give us the best system, I would fight for it. If global warming really was a hoax, I would be against legislation to recognize it.

If transsexuals really were a problem in the military, I would be for banning them.  If the Muslim ban were anything but counterproductive, I would be all for it. I could go on and on. If the poor are poor because they are lazy, well it is just deserts. But we have tons of data, facts, and science that tell us otherwise and I have written extensively about all of them in this blog with links to reliable sources, facts, and data.  None of it matters to what people want to believe.

So why is this import to the question of why the Democrats have fallen out of power?  Were the Republicans just better liars?  Let me introduce another idea, that of optimal and suboptimal solutions.  I think Thomas Friedman came up with this concept a few years ago:

But while our culture of imagination is still vibrant, the other critical factor that still differentiates countries today — and is not a commodity — is good governance, which can harness creativity. And that we may be losing. I am talking about the ability of a society’s leaders to think long-term, address their problems with the optimal legislation and attract capable people into government. What I increasingly fear today is that America is only able to produce “suboptimal” responses to its biggest problems — education, debt, financial regulation, health care, energy and environment.

The concept is fairly simple.  Take healthcare.  What we know from the rest of the world is that universal healthcare (everyone has it, not necessarily single payer) is the model that drives down costs and delivers better care.  It has been implemented in many forms from doctors and hospitals that are government owned, to single payer like Medicare.  There are even forms of it as private insurance (Switzerland) although highly regulated (no profit taking for basic well-defined benefits policies).  So what did we do here?  We went for a suboptimal Obamacare because we could get it. Now it is under continuous attack. There is a lesson here.

Back in what I like to call the semi-rational days when Republicans had not gone totally off the rails, Democrats and Republicans would compromise on suboptimal solutions, which is the very essence of compromise.  If you watch what happened and you are honest, the country went right with Bill Clinton, more like a moderate Republican than a Democrat, and conservative economic ideas took over the nation.  De-regulation and Wall Street ruled. As Democrats tried to accommodate the country’s drift right with more economically conservative positions, the real threat to our Democracy grew, economic inequality***.

During the Bush years we had disastrous tax cuts with no jobs and giant deficits, and finally through deregulation helped by Bill Clinton, the market crashed and burned.  Guess what?  Self interest did not drive wise decisions. Then when Obama came along and improved the markets, there was no flow down to Main Street, thus the birth of the Tea Party.  They were tired of suboptimal solutions that did not work for them.  The trouble with their optimal solutions, balanced budgets, slashing government spending, gutting government regulation, and blaming everything on immigrants is that it was based on what they wanted to believe, not reality, and we are back to Fantasyland.

Eight years of Obama and nothing really changed for those middle class working stiffs.  They saw the rich guys get richer and they languished, and worse, their children’s prospects languished. What arose from all this was the election in 2016 where the mood in the country was anything but the establishment that had proven ineffective to dealing with our problems.  Both sides were seen (accurately) as part of the problem. Democrats did, and you still hear it today, want to be hands across the aisle.  Working together is the goal instead of optimal solutions based upon data, facts, and science. It polled well although the reality was people never vote that way. It is a recipe for failure. You can (and I have) blamed the failure on Republican control of the media, gerrymandering, the filibuster, but in the end, Democrats failed to present a strategic vision of their way forward.

Other than on social issues, Democrats failed to really stand for anything and their economic policy (and Hillary’s) was Republican Lite. So you had a choice between Republican Lite, socially progressive, and real Republicans who stood for a grand strategy, although one built of a Fantasy world.  Voters picked the guys who stood for something, albeit all the wrong somethings.

Standing for something means standing for optimal solutions, based upon facts, science, and data.  Things that work, not fit neatly into an ideology about what should work, or politically easy.  But in that standing for those optimal solutions, there has to be a grand strategy, a strategy of how what we are proposing fits into a whole that will make all our lives better.  Hillary, at least I have yet to hear it, has not ever done this in a believable way.  For the young voter’s perspective, while she has some good policies and certainly would be better than Trump, is still part of promoting the economic establishment that is at the heart of all our problems, racial***, social, and economic.

The grand failure of the Democratic Party is that they lost what they stood for and it became working within the existing system assuming that the existing system was not fundamentally flawed. Being against what Republicans were for, but not real there, there. In trying to accommodate right trending popular politics, they lost who they were.  The book Listen Liberal should be required reading for everyone.  It’s painful, but the truth is Democrats became like Republicans, really blaming the victim, using education as the tool to innovation and a better tomorrow.  We don’t like to believe it, but we became elitists too. This last election was a giant flashing sign that the electorate was pretty much done with establishment politics because it wasn’t working for them no matter who was in power.

The Democrats tried to reinvent themselves within the establishment with their “Better Deal”.  Then they introduced some policies to support that.  It fell flat.  Better Deal connotes that the existing system just needs some fixes and everything will be hunky dory.  Donald Trump and the Obama voters that voted for him are data that says that does not work or that no one believed it.  They know the system is against them and they are right.

Bernie got that, but the Democratic establishment did not want to hear that message, and we got Trump against Hillary and this should have been a cake walk.  I thought it would be.  But I have learned from this election, and Hillary and establishment Democrats do not appear to have. Their still arguing tactics and not understanding that their grand strategy was non-existent. We are the non-Trump party did not wash when people wanted to break things.  They wanted a new way forward.

Okay smart guy, what is the way forward?  What is the strategic vision? Well remember that old document, The Declaration of Independence.  Remember this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, …

Well change it to this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, the pursuit of Happiness, and a level playing field. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, …

That is the strategic vision.  Money begets power, which begets the loss of equality.  Powers seeks to consolidate its favored position, and all the rest is history.  Economic inequality throughout the world is growing and is the root of all the rest.  This does not mean that meritocracy should not rule, but within bounds and be fair meritocracy, not one based upon position and power (read money).  And what the Republicans who represent the 1% forgot was that last part, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men …”.  They defined it as securing their rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness at your expense when your life, liberty or happiness conflicts with theirs, and as wealth accumulates with the few, there are lots of conflicts.  In other words, economic inequality is the root of all inequality***.

Once this reality is recognized,  that  our system is structured to increase economic inequality under the false assumption that a high tide lifts all boats, then you recognize that the system has to be changed in fundamental ways and we have look at what works effectively, those optimal solutions that get thrown away as “not politically feasible” when in fact, they are our goals.  Bernie laid it out for us, but he is a socialist so don’t listen to him, was the response of Republicans and many Democrats.

He said the obvious, the system is not working for the average guy.  It has to be fundamentally changed so that more of us share in the wealth of our nation.  That says we have to rewrite the tax code, laws that regulate intellectual property, trade agreements, property and contract laws to name a few.  We need a fair minimum living wage.  We need major investments in our infrastructure.  We need to recognize science, and fight global warming.  We need universal healthcare and a Social Security system that insures everyone with a secure retirement*.  We need to fundamentally rethink debt and investments in our future.  But all of this cannot be just policies, but a vision or structure and a systematic approach to improving our lives and our children’s live’s for the future. It has to be couched in the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and a level playing field.  

The solutions to all of the above cannot be suboptimal solutions, but optimal ones.  Does not mean you will get there on day one, but that is the goal, that is what we stand for. And with that we become a party of well-defined principles again. We will still have a capitalist solution, but one regulated to prevent monopolies, abuses, and excessive profit taking.  It will take some of the proceeds and invest them in tomorrow.  Instead of looking for corporations and CEO’s to define tomorrow, we the people will, and rewrite the rules to benefit all of us, not the wealthy few.

That is radical change.  And we already know the solutions that work, except for those who reside firmly in Fantasyland.  But that will fail too and Fantasyland looks bleak when your beliefs don’t get you anywhere.  That may be why electing Trump was probably the only way forward to see the failures of Fantasyland. And if some of  those solutions we progressives so believe in don’t work, we can change because we are wedded to science, data, and facts, not ideology. That is the key.

So the grand vision of our next Democratic Party, if they are to survive, is simple:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, the pursuit of Happiness, and a level playing field  — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, …**”  Hillary would buy into that in a minute, but not understand the fundamental changes in our economic system that has to take place because she is perceived as too wedded to the old power structures.  Then again maybe she would, but the time is past for Hillary and this is what the New Democrats have to bring to the table.

*One of the things that helps innovation and social mobility is a strong safety net.  Our European friends have shown us that with a strong safety net, people are more willing to take chances, create businesses, and innovate.  Too bad we can’t learn from them.

**Mustn’t forget that second part about “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  Market places and competition do not secure a level playing field.  In fact they do their best as they accumulate power to do the opposite.  Government secures that level playing field.  Yes that big bad government is our salvation if we want real freedom and equality.

*** Racism wants to reserve a special place for themselves with special solutions.  That may be somewhat true when considering systemic racism in our institutions (policing), but if you believe that money is power, then leveling the playing field should also give them power. Leveling the playing filed is really an approach to all, racism, economic, social, or class.

 

 

Missing the Whole F*cking Point

Part of our problem today is labels. We label something and there are all these connotations of meaning, many may have nothing to do with reality, but they drive our feelings about them. I have two major bones to pick with most journalists, focusing on political intrigue and maneuvering instead of the issues, and labeling as though that explains the underlying issues. We end up discussing all the wrong things and nothing gets done.  Nancy and Chuck announced a “deal” with the VIC on border security and DACA and the Republicans go crazy claiming amnesty.  Can’t have that can we?  Yet we can have amnesty for corporations who shield their income overseas because they don’t want to pay taxes.  Can you think of anyone better who should have a path to citizenship than these model citizens?  But amnesty the word sets them off instead of a real look at an effective policy.

My ire this morning is pointed at Dana Milbank who wrote a column entitled, The Democrats have Become Socialists. He is talking about Bernie and the 16 senators who have signed on to sponsor Medicare for Everyone:

When Bernie Sanders launched his bid for the Democratic nomination, he was often asked whether he, a democratic socialist, would actually become a Democrat. Now, more than a year after he ignited a movement with his unsuccessful bid, that question is moot. The Democrats have become socialists.

This became official, more or less, Wednesday afternoon, when Sanders rolled out his socialized health-care plan, Medicare for All, and he was supported by 16 of his Senate Democratic colleagues who signed on as co-sponsors, including the party’s rising stars and potential presidential candidates in 2020: Elizabeth Warren. Cory Booker. Kamala Harris. Kirsten Gillibrand.

…This embrace of an unabashedly socialist position by the Democrats delights nobody more than the original socialists, the Democratic Socialists of America. David Duhalde, the group’s deputy director, was one of the first in line for the event, carrying a Medicare-for-All sign.

…In the short term, I’ve argued, this development is a bad thing for Democrats. The nation’s focus has been on divisions among Republicans and their inability to enact any sort of agenda under President Trump. The single-payer issue highlights Democratic divisions and united Republicans.

You get the drift. It is bad strategy because as Dana did, Republicans can label them socialist and that is the end of the discussion. But what is really going on is not an ideology binge, but a real attempt to solve one of our biggest problems, the cost and limit of healthcare. That’s the issue. What is the most effective way to deliver affordable healthcare to the whole nation. Once you remove labels and ideology from the equation you are left with some fairly simple facts, yes facts. Universal care is provided by most of the rest of the world at half the cost of ours and better outcomes. How do they do that?

Well they do not have an unregulated or poorly regulated marketplace. The approaches have one thing in common, they offer universal coverage, some (England) with government owned delivery systems, some (Canada) with a single payer where the government is the insurer, but doctors and hospitals still compete to provide service (also our Medicare), and some actually do it through the market place (Switzerland), albeit a heavily regulated market place limiting profit making.

So what Bernie and other Democrats are doing is offering an alternative to our failing system unless of course you like to pay double what other countries pay for worse care.  In fact what they are doing is getting the idea out there so we can debate it and get comfortable with it.  It is how change happens.  It won’t work this time, but it will start people thinking.  But we have the press, this time Dana Milbank, only thinking about Washington politics not the issue itself or what would be most efficacious for the people. So he labels it socialism, be afraid, and playing into Republican hands.  I don’t think so.

If you think like Dana Milbank, we should all move to the middle and hold hands.  Nothing changes and Democrats become irrelevant.  Oh wait, they already have.  I think he and other politicos badly read the people of this country and we should be looking for optimal solutions to our problems and quite labeling them or being against them based on ideology.  Instead we get suboptimal solutions and people lose faith and don’t vote, e.g., the last election.  Democrats are starting to lead again and shake up the system, ideology be damn.  Well it is about time.  Ask yourself this.  Is the point to do things that politicos think are politically smart like tinker with Obamacare and kick the can down the road, or is the point to come up with policies to fix problems?  I thought the latter, but what the fuck do I know.

Normalcy and Compromise

That's what this morning's news is about.  First we go on and on about General Kelly taking over the Chief of Staff position and establishing order and normalcy.  Ha!  Maybe the illusion of normalcy.  Their first action was to get rid of Anthony Scaramucci.  Not that anything changed, just the crude spokesman for telling it as it is, is gone.  But does that change any of the dynamics?  Time will tell, but the pundits are hoping Kelly will put a discipline in policy making.  I don't think you can put anymore lipstick on this pig which is really bad policies and chaos.

That has been really the pundits, mostly hopeful Republicans, who have tried to say things will settle down, Trump will learn, and normal policy will return.  Again, Ha!  Have we learned nothing in the last 6 months?  He is who he is and we will see how Trump destroys Kelly's reputation.  Even the most smooth and coordinated administration, with the policies of Donald Trump, will and does look like chaos.  It is chaos and bad policy based on an alternate reality.

The other talking point today is "compromise".  Maybe now the two sides will sit down and try to fix Obamacare.  We have this foolish idea that in this day and age that compromise is the best of all possible outcomes.  But what if you are compromising with policy based upon alternate facts that set up failure?  What if one side is so tied to ideology, that thinking outside the box is impossible?  Compromise is highly overrated.

Saturday, I tried to give you a blog that looks at proposed solutions to healthcare provided by Republicans and why they make no sense.  If you want to scream, "that's your opinion you liberal pig!" actually no when you get CBO (Congressional Budget Office) scores that tell you it doesn't work.  Republicans then decry the report as false from their own guy because they did not like the answer. And that is critical here.  We need to quit the ideological bullshit and just evaluate an approach and any possible compromise by whether or not it will actually be effective and efficacious.

Somehow we have gotten to think that both sides are as ideologically wedded to a certain solution and that is simply not true.  Republicans are because the market place must solve all problems and big government is bad.  If the market place would have solved all problems, we would not have needed Obamacare.  Obamacare was the Democrats trying to accommodate market place solutions and we have seen where that fell short. Paul Krugman today (Who Ate the Republicans Brains?) tried to explain how Republicans have created an alternate reality to uphold their ideology and they are now locked in a world of  dishonesty:

And that kind of behavior doesn’t come out of nowhere. The Republican health care debacle was the culmination of a process of intellectual and moral deterioration that began four decades ago, at the very dawn of modern movement conservatism — that is, during the very era anti-Trump conservatives now point to as the golden age of conservative thought.

A key moment came in the 1970s, when Irving Kristol, the godfather of neoconservatism, embraced supply-side economics — the claim, refuted by all available evidence and experience, that tax cuts pay for themselves by boosting economic growth. Writing years later, he actually boasted about valuing political expediency over intellectual integrity: “I was not certain of its economic merits but quickly saw its political possibilities.” In another essay, he cheerfully conceded to having had a “cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit,” because it was all about creating a Republican majority — so “political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.”

The problem is that once you accept the principle that it’s O.K. to lie if it helps you win elections, it gets ever harder to limit the extent of the lying — or even to remember what it’s like to seek the truth.

Does that mean healthcare should be single payer only.  Of course not.  Medicare is not single payer only.  It is supplemented by market policies that fill the gaps.  But it does need to be universal care which is what the rest of the world's experience tells us.  The bottom line here is that we need to get to a place where not compromising is okay if the compromise is not the end in itself and will not solve the problem.

We just looked at three plans submitted by the Republicans and we all saw where they would lead, to a failure of healthcare.  So sure, go talk, see if we can get a consensus.  But don't stupidly kick the can down the road to hold hands and say we compromised when the solution is destined for failure.  We have data and metrics.  We know what will and won't work, and we have a Congressional Budget Office that will give us a real score.  Let's use it. Sure some solutions will give us unintended consequences so we need to then fix them.  Ideology is what has prevented us from fixing Obamacare. They hate it on made up facts and ideology so they can't stand to fix it.

One last thing, I and many progressive would like  Medicare for all, but we are open to anything that stands the test of reality.  Republicans, whether it is flow down works (tax cuts pay for themselves), big government is always bad (so how come Medicare works and Social Security saves many people?), or the market place left unfettered by government provides the best solutions (see the Financial Crisis 2007-2008), have had it wrong with a capital WRONG.  They are very good at identifying problems, but then their ideology gets in the way of evaluating solutions.  It is time to end that and not be afraid to not compromise with bad ideas.  Just evaluate the ideas with an open mind in the reality we live in, not the alternate one the Republicans have created.

Liar in Chief and Fake News

You could not make this up.  If a movie was about a Trump-like presidency, it would have to be one of those comedies where you had to really suspend your disbelief.  The trouble is, this is not a comedy, it is a tragedy.  Truth and facts are the victims.  The NYT has done us a favor and compiled a list of the lies that the Lic (Liar in Chief) has said.  It is a long list and includes many important topics.   Does he know the difference?  Does it make a difference?

Republicans for years have been making policy based upon lies.  Flow down is central to their whole economic theology and it turns out it doesn’t create jobs, just transfers money to the wealthy.  They have been masters at taking the anecdotal and turning into a stereotype to stoke fear and hate.  From gay marriage to immigrants, most of what they want to do in policy is based upon a lie or an antidore that meets their ideological needs, but does not survive close examination.  Attorney General Sessions is about to get tough on drugs again, crack down on marijuana, and it is all about being insulated from what the nation has learned about the lack of efficacy of imprisoning drug offenders and the foolish and failed attempts at prohibition.

The Lic was speaking to some energy association today and started by saying aren’t you glad this eight year nightmare is over.  He is talking about President Obama pushing the nation toward alternate energy and creating  jobs twelve times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy.  Now we can drill baby drill.  Does he believe this lie about hurting the oil and gas industries at the expense of the country? The price of gasoline dropped because supply is large and fuel efficiency increases has reduced demand.  Wasn’t that a good thing a few years ago not to be depended on crude oil from elsewhere?

But there is something much more sinister going on here than another get tough on crime white boy isolated from reality appeal the the white mob.  There is an attempt by the current administration to define truth as anything it says and delegitimize attempts to “fact check it”.  The attack on our intelligent agencies was an attempt to delegitimize facts the administration might find inconvenient to its policies.  The attack on the press, continuing this week with the famous Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying from the White House Podium about a video that supports their claim of the “constant barrage of fake news”, is an attempt to delegitimize fact checking on the White House:

Sanders told reporters during the White House briefing that “the constant barrage of fake news directed at” President Donald Trump “has garnered a lot of his frustration.” Trump in a pair of Tuesday morning tweets called CNN “fake news,” as well as NBC, CBS, ABC, The New York Times and The Washington Post.  She pointed to an undercover video from the Project Veritas group in which John Bonifield, a producer for CNN’s medical unit, is heard discussing that CNN’s focus on Trump and his campaign’s involvement with Russia is good for ratings but that the story is likely “mostly bulls—t” and that Trump is likely right to call it a “witch hunt.”

“Whether it’s accurate or not, I don’t know,” Ms. Sanders added about the video, lest there be any doubt about the White House’s standards for accuracy.

The response from one reporter to this on-going arrogance and attack was right there in the press room, right back at them:

“Any one of us, if we don’t get it right, the audience has the opportunity to turn the channel or not read us, but you have been elected to serve for four years at least. There’s no option other than that,” he said. “We’re here to ask you questions. You’re here to provide the answers. And what you just did is inflammatory to people all over the country who look at it and say, ‘See, once again, the president is right, and everybody else out here is fake media.’ And everybody in this room is only trying to do their job.”

Sanders said she “completely” disagreed.

No shit she completely disagrees because truth is defined by the Trump Administration and no one else.  Truth or truthiness as I believe Stephen Colbert coined it (or was it Jon Stewart?) is what I want to believe and has nothing to do with reality for these folks.  That does not mean they don’t believe it, but it says that their arrogance about their own self righteousness is not only anti-democratic, it is down right despotic.  They are trying to destroy the very basis of a vibrant democracy, stifling dissent, and disrespecting other points of view.  They are turning one citizen against the other and enjoying it as entertainment. They are a disgrace to this nation.

Meanwhile this morning the Lic was wearing his other hat, the Village idiot in Charge (VIC), and showed his disdain for respect, courtesy, and of course, his misogyny when he attacked Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough when he did not like their reporting on him:

MSNBC responded with this statement: “It’s a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job.”

The president’s deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, defended the tweets by saying Trump was responding to the “outrageous attacks that take place” on “Morning Joe” and other shows.

Trump refuses to be “bullied,” Sanders said on Fox News. “This is a president who fights fire with fire.”

This man is disgusting and his judgement is in great doubt.  So what happens when he gets something important.  How do you defend this?  Only if you have no understanding of democracy or the power of the President to abuse his power intimidating his enemies.  This is so far from what we expect of a president, that on this alone, he should be impeached.

By the way Sanders came out today when challenged and said the President has never advocated violence, a direct lie.  So here is my question as we go forward with this moron and the destruction his and his party’s lying are doing to the United States:  Why do we cover White House Press conferences?  What is there there except continuous lying and misinformation.  Walk away press corps, there is nothing worth covering there.  Oh and quite enabling people like Sarah Sanders who you mistakenly say they are just doing their job.  So were Hitler’s hinchmen.  Lying to the country from the White House is part of a plot to destroy America and everyone better wake up to it and call it out. Oh, and defend those who do, our press.

Opps

Yeah, I know I have used Alfred E. Neuman before, but is there any better example for our Village Idiot in Chief? According to the WaPo through leaks from our security agencies they are appalled at President Cheeto-heads actions, the moron released critical classified information:

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said that Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.
The information Trump relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said that Trump’s decision to do so risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and National Security Agency.

When the White House denied it, nobody believed them.  It is almost funny that we know it is the lying show. The leakers are far more credible than the White House.  Secretary of State Rex Tellerson came out and made an identical denial as the White House was pitching, and when the State Department was asked about it, they had no idea what he had said.  They were totally out of the loop.  Clearly it occurred and the hypocristy of going after Hillary’s email system when no damage has ever been identified, the classified material was not classified by some agencies, and this leak that will probably cost lives is just enormous.  I wonder if the Russians left any listening devices behind after their visit?  At least they got all the pictures.  The American Press was barred.

But I think the most poignant moment in this latest Cheeto-head fuck up came when Allen Dershowitz, famous attorney, was on CNN and got quite animated about warning fellow panelists not to conflate this with the collusion investigation.  “They are entirely two different things!”  No, Allen, they are not.  Now legally he is right, but they come from the same motivation and misunderstanding that caused them both.  

On the collusion thing, the reality I believe we will soon find out about is the flow of money to finance Trump adventures (investments), much of it laundered or being laundered through his deals.  So in Trump’s little mind the Russian boys and girls are really just good fellow business men and woman and of course there was collusion to send them a signal that the sanctions were just a hinderance to business.  I don’t know this, but I think it is the most likely scenario here with all the denials and head fakes.  Cheeto-head does not get the adversary thing at all.  And if I am right, they have their hooks in him and he has no idea.

So Cheeto-head does not see the Russians as an adversary, but a way to make lots of money. It’s jus business.  He has no idea he is so far out of his league that they are using him to undermining our democratic system.  Thus the leak was just an exchange among the boys and he is clueless about the damage done, as he is clueless about just about everything.  He is their perfect captured idiot in spy talk.  But, hey, it is just business, right?  And with a businessman in charge, everything should be hunky dory, right?  You people who voted for him are morons. As I have pointed out before, none of this is a suprise.

I know what we are going to hear next.  “Who leaked this?  We have to get those leakers! Leakers, leakers, leakers.” Or said another way, deflect, deflect, deflect. Except he is the biggest leaker of all.  And the leakers leaked in order to wake up the nation to the danger he poses and the damage he has done.  And it is only the beginning.  He alienated all the intelligence agencies and the FBI.  Now his bumbling is putting the nation at risk.  They are good Americans and will not stand idly by while he destroys their hard work and undermines our intelligence sources.  It is going to be a fun and dangerous ride.  I hope he did not kill anyone with his leak, but he may well have.  

Trump Fires Comey Over Handling of Hillary’s eMails, Really?

Comey certainly showed extremely poor judgement in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, and I agree with the findings of Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein that Comey’s press conference in July to excoriate her and explain why no charges would be filed and notifying Congress of the reopening of the investigation barely a week before the election was wrong.  But it makes no sense.

Rosenstein has been on the job two weeks and he writes a memo dated 9 May (yesterday) that is immediately acted upon by the President?  There is an ongoing investigation of Comey for those actions in the Justice Department and no initial findings were cited nor was the inquiry even consulted?  The memo itself is an opinion piece and not a typical Justice Department legal finding. I would hazard a guess he did not write it.

Now let’s look at the White House.  While Cheeto-Head was upset that they did not lock her up, he must have enjoyed (and quoted) her public shaming by Comey, and later praised him profusely for his “bravery” in reopening the investigation in late October, maybe impacting the election.  After he became President, he again praised Comey and expressed his confidence in him.  Now he gets a memo and acts on in within minutes after waiting 18 days in the General Flynn affair?  It does not make sense.

And just as an aside, note that what Cheeto-Head did not like about the whole affair is the fact that they brought no charges.  While even Republicans noted that there was no intent in the Clinton affair and therefore no legal basis for prosecution, Cheeto-Head could not accept this.  The rule of law be damned.  King Cheeto-Head did not get his way.  This should have disqualified him for the presidency, but the morons in Red America were blind to the threat and his ignorance.

Finally, Comey is out in California talking to field agents and sees on TV that he is fired.  What does that say about an Administration that praised a man for his actions and then does not have the decency to look him in the eye and allow him to step down?  What does it say that the personal body-guard of Cheeto-Head delivered the letter to the FBI, after they announced it?

In Cheeto-Head’s letter to Comey, the elephant in the room that explains everything is strangely right there:

While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I was not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.

WTF?  See, this has nothing to do with Russia, See?  See?  Or not so WTF.  Here is the reason for the whole thing:  The Russian investigation.  See yesterday’s blog for why this almost a raging fire.  The President won’t release his tax returns that could clear him of financial ties to the Russians, so why not?  Continued attacks on the intelligence community to try to delegitimize anything they turn up.  His continued attack on the Russia investigation as fake news.  The firing of all the Attorney Generals at one time to disrupt on-going investigations including into his dealings in New York.  The firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates two days after she exposes Michael Flynn’s duplicity, and now the firing of the Director of the FBI, heading up the investigation of the Russian involvement, shortly after he announced that there was an investigation into the ties of the Cheeto-Head administration/campaign and the Russians.  This is pure and simple about the Russian investigation and it is a power play by Cheeto-Head.

We have a clear Constitutional Crisis.  The investigation is getting too hot and the President has done a Dick Nixon.  Here is a test for Republicans.  We will see who defends this action and who calls for an independent counsel.  This is no longer murky.  The Cheeto-Head administration just pointed a shiny light on their corruption.  The stupidity and incompetence of this move should tell anyone with operating brain cells that democracy is at stake.  And if as Cheeto-Head claims, there is nothing there, what’s the problem?  Because there is a lot there.  The Republicans have given Cheeto-Head a free pass to violate all sorts of ethical standards around the presidency.  Now will they give him a free pass as he destroys our institutions?

One last thing.  I expect big things to happen in the next few days.  If a special prosecutor is not appointed expect to see massive leaks on what is really going on.  The career Justice Department, Intelligence, and FBI personnel will not stand by and let democracy and our institutions be wrecked by political ditto-heads.  Maybe Republicans will in their lust for power, but not those who have given their lives to serving our country.  As Sally Yates said in her hearing when she was asked by Senator Cruz who she worked for, I work for the people of the United States and the Constitution.

The White House Correspondents’ Dinners, The Real One and the Not One

While Cheeto-Head was up in Pennsylvania doing his best interpretation of Hitler to a crowd of sycophants and idiots, the media was gathering in two places to have a little fun.  First some thoughts on the Pennsylvania rally.  What president in his first 100 days is out giving a campaign speech full of lies to his base? Adolph Hitler. See, he his the same guy you elected, full of hate and lies, working diligently to tear down democracy by going after the free press.  I watched some of the rally and was filled with hate and divisiveness.  I was filled with a sense of revulsion for my fellow Americans in Pennsylvania.  Somehow in my little mind, I did not think that was what a president was supposed to do.  Yes we have entered a different era.  Of course he did his best to undermine the free press and (getting ahead of myself) as Samantha Bee pointed out about the Press:

“You basically get paid to stand in a cage while a geriatric orangutan and his pet mob scream at you. It’s like a reverse zoo, but you carry on.”

Meanwhile there were two White House Correspondents Dinners, the official one and Samantha Bee’s Not the WH Correspondence Dinner and I watched both (oh the miracle of DVR).  I am not sure who got roasted more, Cheeto-Head or the media itself, which is fair because their endless coverage of him in the campaign without fact checking him and using competing pundits got him elected.  Policy and facts did not matter anymore, just outlandishness.  What was nice about the Pennsylvania rally was that it reminded you this presidency is not normal and what a true pig he really is.  But I get distracted.  Here is Hasan’s full speech:


Hasan Minhaj did a splendid job at the real dinner as he spent most of his time on the press itself.  He started by saying the obvious:

“This event is about celebrating the First Amendment and free speech. Free speech is the foundation of an open and liberal democracy from college campuses to the White House. Only in America can a first generation Indian American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the President.”

Then he got real:

“I would say it is an honor to do this, but that would be an alternative fact. It is not. No one one wanted to do this so of course it falls in the hands of an immigrant. That’s how it always goes down.”

My favorite was when he made fun of the endless viewer polling CNN (and MSNBC) do.  “If you think attacking Korea is a good idea, text 1.”  As he asked are they trying to get us to give them the news?  Both he and Samantha Bee decried the nonsense of shouting pundits that has taken the place of real news and informed analysis (He said/she said news) and here is their take:

Hasan Minhaj:

“Don [Don Lemon of CNN Tonight], every time I watch your show, I feel like I’m watching a reality TV show. ‘CNN Tonight’ should just be called ‘Wait a second! Now hold on! Stop yelling at each!’ with Don Lemon.”

Samantha Bee:

“With so much excellent reporting out there, why do 96 percent of Americans believe the media should be strung up by its own bowels?” she asked. “I don’t know — maybe because when they turn on the TV looking for news, all they can find are journalists trying to referee a pack of well-coiffed message robots shouting at each other all day from increasingly tiny boxes.”

And I think that gets to the heart of our problems today.  We are not looking for the truth through carefully researched journalism, but a mud wrestling contest, winner has the best costume.  Ratings are king if some cloths are ripped off.  Samantha made the point most effectively by quoting Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide and then making the point that they had effectively turned news into a sporting event (news as entertainment):

“There’s no truth or falsehood in sports. There’s just winners and losers, and people giving 110 percent because sports thinks that’s a number. The difference is, on CNN, the cheerleaders get paid.”

His barbs at MSNBC and CNN were well deserved:

“MSNBC is here tonight. And I’m glad you guys are here. That way if I’m bombing, Brian Williams will describe it as stunning.”

— “MSNBC. It’s hard to trust you guys when you send so many mixed messages. On the one hand you tell us the prison industrial complex is the problem, and then you air five straight hours of ‘Lockup.’ You can’t be mad at corporations profiting off of minorities in prison when you’re a corporation profiting off of minorities in prison.”

— “I had a lot more MSNBC jokes, but I don’t want to just ramble on, otherwise I might get a show on MSNBC.”

“CNN is here, baby. You guys got some really weird trust issues with the public. I’m not going to call you fake news, but everything isn’t breaking news. You can’t go to DEFCON-1 just because Sanjay Gupta found a new moisturizer.”

Yes, the press was on trial here and mostly they were (TV media) guilty as charged.  Maybe they learned something, I just don’t know.  We know Cheeto-Head is a disaster for this country, but last night was a reflection on how we got an ignorant racist misogynist for a president and sadly news and the way it is presented is a large part of the problem.  But they are also our only hope.  Samantha wondered why CNN, who has many great journalists, would just stop with the reality show and let them do their job.  Hasan probably summed it up best and maybe we need to hear it from a 2nd generation immigrant Muslim who does really appreciate what America should be and was about (here is the only copy of a video I could find and it was on twitter and I could not find the embed code):

Even though Mr. Minhaj said he had been told not to mock Mr. Trump or his administration in absentia, he felt he had a duty to “get on this stage and make fun of the president.”

“But the president didn’t show up,” Mr. Minhaj said. “Because Donald Trump doesn’t care about free speech. The man who tweets everything that enters his head refuses to acknowledge the amendment that allows him to do it.”

A few hours from now, Mr. Minhaj said, “Donald Trump will be tweeting about how bad Nicki Minaj bombed at this dinner. And he’ll be doing it completely sober. And that’s his right. And I’m proud that all of us are here tonight to defend that right, even if the man in the White House never would.”

After thanking the White House Correspondents’ Association, and thanking Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein “for inspiring a generation of journalists,” Mr. Minhaj concluded by saying, “I would like to thank Donald Trump for inspiring the next.”

Finally, I would like to leave with Woodward’s comments about what journalism is about:  Trying to find the best obtainable version of the truth we can.  We have a large portion of our citizenship who does not have a clue what that means.  A nobel endeavor and they are our only hope against ignorance and fascism on display in Pennsylvania that same night. A lot of things that needed to be said to powerful people was said.  I only hope they were listening.