Friday, February 24, 2017

The Danger of Trashing the Media

I find it outrageous that Donald Trump’s outmoded ideas, limited-and-exaggerated use of language, and non-policy-specific plans that, a month in, have done nothing but spew out at top speed so that people hardly know what to address and object to first. But his attack on the media is particularly atrocious, untrue, and a slippery slope to actual  dictatorship. The news – major newspapers, cable news networks (except Fox News and right-wing talk radio, of course), broadcast network news divisions, and A-List Internet news sites – are all fake, they’re all lying? And they are “the enemy of the people?” Really? And Trump’s “going to do something about it.” Really! Besides having the obnoxious Sean Spicer ban half of the major media from news briefings, and shame on him for following his master’s directives, what, exactly, is the chief executive going to do to stop the free American press? Maybe his pal Vladimir can show him how to kill publishers, editors, and reporters, as well as knock sites off the Internet. It’s always so helpful to have friends who can help you rule without dissent, especially by “paid, professional protesters.”

Without question, the media has its problems and its faults. Few people read printed newspapers anymore; hundreds of excellent papers have been forced out of business thanks to a combination of low readership and even lower advertising. The online versions of remaining major papers have their own problems – including the fact that readers want them for free instead of paying minor amounts for subscriptions. From coast to coast, news staffs have been decimated, in print and online, because publishers [say they can’t] afford them. The combined pressure of the 24-hour news cycle and diminished news staffs have seriously compromised the optimum functioning of all forms of news outlets. But they fight like hell and work very hard despite these limitations to tell full, truthful stories. About everything. Including Trump.

All news outlets sometimes make mistakes or bad coverage choices (like CNN’s endless coverage of a missing airplane a while back; they spent months waiting to hear pings). But American journalism is honest and truthful and fact-based. I personally know that for a fact because as a p.r. professional I had a lot of media contact for decades. The media not only deserves the freedom and protection provided by the First Amendment, we the people urgently need the information it provides. We would be screwed without it. The press could do a better job in some ways (hiring back proofreaders would be a good start, since even the best reportage is undermined by typos). But if the American people allow themselves to be convinced that journalism is inherently dishonest, that is going to create even more chaos than the president is already deliberately creating.

Donald Trump is worse than inexperienced, uninformed, and a liar by commission and omission. He’s a bad man. He’s self-serving and will say or do anything to try to deflect any kind of criticism and all reportage about him and his staff/advisors' inappropriate and illegal behavior. He doesn’t want examination/investigation of all his Russia-related dealings. He doesn’t want to explain concrete solutions for the problems he cites, because he doesn’t have any. And since he doesn’t have President Obama to kick around anymore, he had to find a new “enemy” that his base can focus on. He doesn’t care what the rest of us think or feel or believe, because he’s already dismissed us as over-rated (in our numbers) and phony – because protesters are basically mercenaries. So the media was a perfect choice for his political vitriol. It reminds me of Richard Pryor’s great comedic line about talking to his wife about his marital indiscretions: “Who you gonna believe: me or your lyin’ eyes?”

I’m gonna believe my “lyin’ eyes” instead of my demented, dishonest, truly incredible president. I trust the media. I don’t trust him. I don’t believe him. I truly hope the media will soon unearth all the Russia-related dirt that should legitimately impeach and remove Donald Trump. I wish ICE would deport him. He’s a true danger to national security.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Yes, He Is My President

Today, feeling sick and confused in body and mind since it was Presidents Day, I slept through most of the day and evening, awaking a few times to smoke a cigarette and check the news to make sure the planet hadn’t gone hurtling into deep space while I was napping. Apparently we’re still in our solar system. Considering what our new president has been doing, saying, and tweeting for the past month, as well as all the other crap that surrounds and defines his administration, I found that reassuring.

What I did not find reassuring were the many substantial demonstrations proclaiming that “Trump Is Not My President.” I strongly disagree with this sentiment. He’s not the candidate I voted for, and I genuinely believe he is extremely incompetent and potentially very dangerous for our country and the world. I don’t know whether or not he won by honest means and that, along with much else, should be investigated. But good or bad, right or wrong, the reality is: Donald J. Trump is the 45th President of the United States. And because I’m an American, he is my president. That, unfortunately, is the plain, simple fact. And we cannot afford to indulge in “alternative facts” as he does.  

We who find Trump’s presidency unacceptable and downright insane are not wrong. And continued protest is good. With great difficulty, I made it to the January Women’s March (in NYC) – the first protest in which I’ve participated in decades. I was on my mobility scooter in the middle of the crowd, so I was about four-feet tall and couldn’t see much of what was going on around me. Plus I was cold, I don’t like being in crowds; I don’t like being outdoors very much. But I was thrilled to be there, to see not only all kinds of women but also all kinds of men. Kids too. I had done something difficult for me to be part of something important to me and I was proud of myself and the millions of comrades worldwide who came out to shout and chant and object to the sheer madness that is Donald Trump.

We should continue to protest – whether it’s difficult, inconvenient or not. But our protests must be against what Trump says and does – not the mere fact of him. We also cannot restrict ourselves to the collective comfort of street marches. We have to do the sometimes lonely, tedious desk-work of proactive citizenship. Write/phone/email, whatever, your local, state and national representatives – repeatedly – about your specific objections and concerns. Contact Republicans, whether one is your representative or not, and tell them to man up and fight/reject the mad clown they didn’t want either. Go to Town Hall meetings. Write to newspapers and magazines, news channels and Internet sites.  Join or form an organization that is working to address your issues and work with them. Talk to family and friends who aren’t activists and encourage them to act. Use your social media and make your voice heard by your virtual “friends.” Make financial contributions – however small they may be – to organizations whose work you value. Be polite. Be calm. Express yourself clearly and well. And VOTE in every election that comes your way.

Be active and be hopeful. Trump may self-destruct; he’s certainly headed that way. Let’s hope he can do so without destroying anything/everything else beyond repair. Meanwhile, accept the reality that Trump is the president – and fight him and his minions in every legal, non-violent way possible. Do it for Presidents Washington and Lincoln, the leaders today was intended to honor. Do the right thing. And do it smart.

Friday, February 17, 2017

This Emperor is Butt Naked

Okay, I’m calmer now; I can write without foaming at the mouth. I’m still appalled that this sick, ignorant, pathological/delusional liar is actually president of this country, surrounded by a small brood of relatives, sycophants, a racist/anti-Semitic senior advisor, and nameless staffers who are bold enough to leak about the West Wing chaos, but not strong enough to quit and speak out publicly.

I’m still disturbed that the Democrats can’t seem to unite and fight back in a stronger, more cohesive manner. I’m even more upset that the Republicans, who managed to get together and thwart President Obama at every turn, in every way, from Day One of his first term – but don’t have the balls and real concern about this country to stand up and say “We were right during the primaries: Trump is dangerously unqualified and ‘Republican’ or not, we must join, we must lead, the fight to get his dumb ass out of the White House.”

I won’t blather on about Trump’s amazing cabinet and other top-job choices, so inappropriate it would make a great satire if it weren’t such a terrible reality. Nor will I add my two tarnished cents (in any detail) to the Russia/Putin dynamic that runs so deep and varied that it’s like one of those nested Russian dolls, where one big one unfolds to many increasing smaller ones. And I won’t dwell on President Tweet’s hateful, counter-productive, genuinely dangerous immigrant ban, or the fact that his words/manner regarding the media are equally hateful, counter-productive, and genuinely dangerous. And the astounded media must get a grip and take this bully down. This ain’t business as usual. Forget being polite and respectful. Nail him!

Those of us who still have all or most of our marbles know what’s going on in all these areas and others. Therefore I prefer to focus on the encouraging, massive, grassroots dissent, here and abroad, that is increasing in both size and organization. I know Trump thinks this a) isn’t really happening; b) if it is, it’s a Democratic plot personally organized by Hillary Clinton; c) isn’t as large as the fake news media would have us believe; and d) it is he, in fact, who is the inspiration and leader of a real political movement for change. Trump change isn’t needed by anyone – except Trump

I don’t think Trump’s supporters, for the most part, are stupid or even mean-spirited. I think they’re weary of their difficult lives and feel that both parties, traditional politicians in general, have either ignored them or let them down. Trump is a very shrewd, effective marketer. And thanks to a cowardly and irresponsible Electoral College, Trump brilliantly rallied his way into the White House. The problem is, now that he’s there, he doesn’t know what to do or how to do it. Because running a country is not like running a business, being a celebrity is not the same as being a leader, and doing the job is not nearly as much fun as running for it – which is why he’s still campaigning and holding rallies and complaining about the election. He’s freaked out. And it shows.

But the lemonade coming out of this lemon is, thankfully, reminding millions of Americans that citizenship isn’t just a matter of birth (or legal immigration). It comes with civic, secular responsibility and an ongoing call to political action. We’re furious that the popular vote doesn’t determine the winner – a situation, I believe, that makes half of eligible voters not bother to vote. The Founding Fathers so constantly lauded established the Electoral College to deliberately keep the favored in power. They did not believe The People were smart enough to elect the president.

And the Constitution, still enormously important, needs some serious freshening up. It has been in the past; that’s why there are many amendments. It is ridiculous to interpret the Constitution the way some people interpret the Bible: literally, fundamentally, and as something sacred. The world and America have changed a little over the past nearly-300 years. It’s up to us to unite, fight for our rights, fight against the wrongs, and keep government working and sane. The Constitution is a sound platform, not the last word.

We’re the only ones who can throw a blanket over our naked Emperor, escort him out of the palace, put him on one of his own planes, and take him to a large, comfortable, padded room on his Florida estate. Please keep him and his family out of New York. They’re snarling up traffic.