Friday, February 24, 2017

Commander who organized bin Laden raid says Trump’s anti-media comments are the 'greatest threat to democracy'


Via The Washington Post:
William H. McRaven, a retired four-star admiral and former Navy SEAL, defended journalists this week, calling President Trump’s denunciation of the media as “the enemy of the American people” the “greatest threat to democracy” he’s seen in his lifetime.

That’s coming from a man who’s seen major threats to democracy.

McRaven, who was commander of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command, organized and oversaw the highly risky operation that killed Osama bin Laden almost six years ago. The admiral from Texas had tapped a special unit of Navy SEALs to carry out the May 2011 raid on the elusive terrorist’s hideout, a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.



Two days after making those remarks, McRaven had this to say on his blog on the University of Texas website:
In my sixty years, most of the serious threats to our nation have come from the outside: the Cold War, the Vietnam War, terrorism and the wars that followed. While at times, these external pressures encouraged some within our government to adopt a barricade mentality – hiding information from the public, acting secretly outside the bounds of the law, and encouraging behavior that had an extralegal feel to it – never has the government openly challenged the idea of a free press.

Each of us in government swears an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States." The first amendment to that constitution assures freedom of speech and of the press.

The news media have not always been kind to me. However, I can tell you – as someone who has been to 90 countries and spoken to the press in almost all of them – the United States has the finest press corps in the world, bar none.
[...]
But what makes journalism so essential to our democracy is that – when done right – it holds all of us accountable, to our country, to its ideals, and to each other. As an Admiral, and now as a Chancellor, I haven’t always enjoyed being asked tough questions. But being held accountable by the press has only made me and the organizations I lead better.

Just as it has made America better.

My message to our aspiring journalists, and journalists everywhere: We need you more than ever.
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In 2014 McRaven delivered an extraordinary commencement speech at the University of Texas.




He ended his speech with this advice for the graduates:
Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone.

Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.

And what started here will indeed have changed the world — for the better.

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Washington Post, May 4, 2011: Adm. William McRaven: The terrorist hunter on whose shoulders Osama bin Laden raid rested



Thursday, February 23, 2017

I need your help


If you like what I do here, and you'd like to see it continue, then I could really use your help. I hope you'll consider making a donation to help keep this blog going.

Just click on the Paypal "DONATE" button at the top of the right-hand column of this blog and follow the instructions.

Thank you for your support and continued readership.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Mia the beagle does whatever the hell she wants

Mia, an easily-distracted beagle, didn't win the agility competition at the Westminster Dog Show earlier this month, but she did win a lot of hearts.





Monday, February 20, 2017

What has Donald Trump done for veterans?

Donald Trump placed planters in front of his Fifth Avenue building
to discourage veterans - some disabled war vets - from setting up pushcarts.
(via Google Maps, August 2013)
Click image to enlarge.


Last Friday, Local 10 News sent a reporter to Palm Beach County to cover the weekend visit - his third weekend in a row - of Donald Trump.

The reporter managed to get some some interesting sound bites from the dozens of Trump loyalists who showed up to demonstrate their support.

One of the supporters, Chris Nick, choked back tears as he told the reporter that Trump was "a good man."

"I just appreciate what he's doing for the veterans," said Nick.



I'm sure if the reporter had asked Nick just exactly what it was that Trump had done for "the veterans," he would have struggled to answer.

The reality is that Trump has done nothing for "the veterans."

In May of last year — after being squeezed by Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold — Trump announced he'd given away money to veterans groups that he'd raised four months before.
On Tuesday [May 31], Donald Trump announced that he'd given away the last of the $5.6 million that he raised four months ago, at a benefit for veterans' causes in Iowa. In a bitter, combative press conference, Trump made clear that he'd been pressured into giving up these details by the news media, including The Washington Post.

[...]

How many new donations were announced on Tuesday?

By The Post's count, 18 new gifts, totaling about $1.5 million.

In each case, Trump was giving away other people's money. Other donors, both large and small, had entrusted this money to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, on the understanding that Trump would then distribute it to veterans.



On the same day the Post published its story, the New York Times reported:
[Trump] called a news conference ostensibly to answer questions about his fund-raising for charities that benefit military veterans. But Donald J. Trump instead spent most of his time on live television Tuesday berating the journalists covering his presidential campaign in unusually vitriolic and personal terms.

“You’re a sleaze,” he told a reporter for ABC.

“You’re a real beauty,” he told a reporter for CNN, snidely denigrating the man’s competence.

For 40 minutes, Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, assailed those reporting on his candidacy with a level of venom rarely seen at all, let alone in public, from the standard-bearer of a major political party. Then he warned that a Trump White House would feature more of the same.

Historians reached back to the Nixon administration, with its reporter-stocked enemies list, for a fair comparison. Other scholars and political analysts suggested that Mr. Trump failed to appreciate the role journalists play in scrutinizing candidates as surrogates for the public, or drew connections to his denunciations of other adversaries and critics — like a federal judge in a case where Mr. Trump is being sued, or the Republican governor of New Mexico, whom Mr. Trump denigrated while campaigning in her state last week.

Let's go over that again: "Mr. Trump...assailed those reporting on his candidacy with a level of venom rarely seen at all, let alone in public."

Hmmm...sounds familiar, doesn't it?

But back to Trump and the vets....not all veterans are as gullible and ill-informed as the veteran interviewed in Palm Beach County last week.



With minimal effort and an Internet connection, Chris Nick would have learned that Trump hasn't done sh*t for veterans.

In 2015, the New York Daily News reported that Trump had complained on several occasions that veterans were ruining "the ambiance of Fifth Ave. — the address of his gleaming Trump Tower headquarters — was being wrecked by peddlers, including some he accused of only posing as vets."
“While disabled veterans should be given every opportunity to earn a living, is it fair to do so to the detriment of the city as a whole or its tax paying citizens and businesses?” Trump wrote in a 1991 letter to John Dearie, then-chairman of the state Assembly’s Committee on Cities.

In its story, the News noted that "New York’s original peddling exceptions for veterans date back to 1894 — created to give those disabled during the Civil War a chance to support themselves."

In May 2016, one of the New York City vets, former Marine Dan Rossi, a disabled veteran and longtime New York City street vendor, told Politico, "[Trump has] done more damage to the disabled veterans in this city than any other man.”

___________________


Forbes: When It Comes To Veterans, Donald Trump's Rhetoric Is Much More Generous Than His Giving Record



Saturday, February 18, 2017

'We could not do the job at all in a free society without a very, very active press' - John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy points to a reporter during
a press conference on July 5, 1962.
Click image to enlarge.
[Source]

The 45th President of the United States — who, during the campaign, called the media "scum" and "dishonest" — went full psycho on Friday and tweeted that the news media is the ‘enemy of the American people.’

Via Dallas Morning News: What you need to know about the enemies of the American people the president warned you about.

(Over at the Minority President Report, retired Miami Herald newsman Marty Merzer has compiled a detailed and comprehensive look at the reactions to the president's remarks.)

So now might be an opportune time to take a look back at how a real president dealt with the press more than a half century ago. .

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, "was the first president to effectively use the new medium of television to speak directly to the American people. No other president had conducted live televised press conferences without delay or editing," according to the the JFK Library website.
"The public loved John F. Kennedy's press conferences, although some of his advisors worried about the risk of mistakes by the president and others thought the press showed insufficient respect for the dignity of his office. By November 1963, President Kennedy had held 64 news conferences, an average of one every sixteen days. The first, less than a week after his inauguration, was viewed by an estimated 65 million people"
During an interview in December 1962, Sander Vanocur of NBC asked Kennedy about his reading habits.



A few months before the NBC interview, President Kennedy gave an address on April 27, 1962 before the American Newspaper Publishers Association at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

At one point during his speech, Kennedy said "without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed--and no republic can survive."






Friday, February 17, 2017

A little more about that Trump press conference

Toronto Star, Feb. 17, 2017.

__________________


So much cray cray and so little time....but let's start with this word salad:
“Here’s the problem: The public, they read newspapers, they see television, but they don’t know if it’s true or false, because they’re not involved ... I’m involved. I’ve been involved with this stuff all my life. But I’m involved, so I know when you’re telling the truth and when you’re not.”

More crazy and scary Trump quotes here.

__________________


This from the Minority President Report compiled by former Miami Herald newsman Marty Merzer:
- By now, you know plenty about that ludicrous, profoundly unsettling 77-minute news conference by the Minority President, and there really aren’t enough electrons in the universe for us to do it justice here. The popular term “unhinged” no longer is sufficient.

- He brazenly repeated his electoral-vote lie in front of a room packed with reporters who knew the truth – and one of them challenged him directly. Asserting that he is not anti-Semitic, he humiliated an obviously Jewish reporter who explicitly did not accuse him of being anti-Semitic. He patronized a black female reporter and asked her to run a secretarial errand for him.

- He uttered non sequiturs and pure nonsense. “The leaks are absolutely true; the news is false.” “Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars.” “You know what uranium is right? It's a thing called nuclear weapons and other things, like lots of things are done with uranium, including some bad things."


- He repeatedly asserted that President Obama left him with an unparalleled “mess” to clean up. He claimed to have made great progress already on behalf of working-class Americans. He denied that his White House is buffeted by administrative and operational chaos, and he claimed that reports to the contrary are invented by the media as part of its conspiracy against him All of that is manifestly not true.
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