Sunday, February 26, 2017

Jerry Lee Lewis -Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On (Live 1964)

Jerry Lee Lewis performing live in 1964 in the UK on the TV show, "Don't Knock the Rock."

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.

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.


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

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.

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.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

CNN's Jake Tapper to Trump: 'Get to work and stop whining.'


Actually, Jake....there's
a reason why Trump can't stop whining..

"When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I'm basically the same. The temperament is not that different." — Donald Trump

Here's some more whining...


Mr. Trump’s speech and actions demonstrate an inability to tolerate views different from his own, leading to rage reactions. His words and behavior suggest a profound inability to empathize. Individuals with these traits distort reality to suit their psychological state, attacking facts and those who convey them (journalists, scientists).

In a powerful leader, these attacks are likely to increase, as his personal myth of greatness appears to be confirmed. We believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump’s speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president. [via New York Times]

And now, a musical interlude...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

'We’re doing our jobs'

"We will have a new president soon. He was elected after waging an outright assault on the press. Animosity toward the media was a centerpiece of his campaign. He described the press as “disgusting,” 'scum,' 'lowlifes.' He called journalists the 'lowest form of humanity.' That apparently wasn’t enough. So he called us 'the lowest form of life.' In the final weeks of the campaign he labeled us 'the enemies.'

"It is no wonder that some members of our staff at The Washington Post and at other news organizations received vile insults and threats of personal harm so worrisome that extra security was required. It is no wonder that one Internet venue known for hate and misogyny and white nationalism posted the home addresses of media executives, clearly inviting vandalism or worse. Thankfully, nothing that I know of happened to anyone. Then there was the yearlong anti-Semitic targeting of journalists on Twitter."  - Marty Baron, Editor, Washington Post


Trump took on the Washington Post, the New York Times and the intelligence community in one tweet this morning. Methinks this will not end well.

But as far as Washington Post editor Marty Baron is concerned, when dealing with Trump, it's strictly business, not personal....this despite the fact that Trump - in Baron's words - waged "an outright assault on the press" during his campaign. (See quote above)

“The way I view it is, we’re not at war with the administration, we’re at work. We’re doing our jobs,” [Baron] said at the Code Media conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point, Calif.

The Intelligence Community is another matter altogether.

‘He will die in jail’: Intelligence community ready to ‘go nuclear’ on Trump, senior source says

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

'Nothing's riding on this except the, uh, First Amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country.'

“Lock her up, that's right! Damn right, exactly right. … And you know why we're saying that? We're saying that because, if I, a guy who knows this business, if I did a tenth of what [Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton] did, I would be in jail today.” -Michael Flynn, July 20, 2016 at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.



Via the New York Times: The F.B.I. had been examining Mr. Flynn’s phone calls as he came under growing questions about his interactions with Russian officials and his management of the National Security Council. The blackmail risk envisioned by the Justice Department would have stemmed directly from Mr. Flynn’s attempt to cover his tracks with his bosses. The Russians knew what had been said on the call; thus, if they wanted Mr. Flynn to do something, they could have threatened to expose the lie if he refused.

The Justice Department’s warning to the White House was first reported on Monday night by The Washington Post.



"You know the results of the latest Gallup Poll? Half the country never even heard of the word Watergate. Nobody gives a shit. You guys are probably pretty tired, right? Well, you should be. Go on home, get a nice hot bath. Rest up... 15 minutes. Then get your asses back in gear. We're under a lot of pressure, you know, and you put us there. Nothing's riding on this except the, uh, First Amendment of the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country. Not that any of that matters, but if you guys fuck up again, I'm going to get mad. Goodnight." - Jason Robards as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee in "All the President's Men"

Monday, February 13, 2017

Former Miami Herald reporter Marty Merzer has emerged from retirement to track the Trump administration


Marty Merzer
Journalist Marty Merzer joined the Miami Herald in 1979 and retired from the paper in 2008.

In his more than 29 years at One Herald Plaza, he covered hundreds of stories, including the unraveling of four Miami-based airlines, "the civil war in Beirut, the famine in Ethiopia and the Sudan, the Challenger disaster and the space shuttle’s return to flight, Hurricane Andrew, the Gulf War and the Scud missile attacks on Israel, the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the Mars Pathfinder mission, John Glenn’s return to flight, the entire 37-day impasse in Florida’s 2000 presidential election."

"In 1992, [Merzer's] work during Hurricane Andrew helped The Herald win the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. In 2000, his work during the Elian Gonzalez affair helped The Herald win another Pulitzer Prize."

Since retiring and moving to northern Florida, the past nine years or so for Merzer have been mostly uneventful.

That is, until Donald Trump arrived on the scene.

Six days after Trump was sworn in, Merzer emerged from retirement and began posting on his Facebook page, the first of what he calls "The Minority President update."

With his daily posts, Merzer began keeping track of the constant stream of insanity - there's no other way to phrase it - associated with the new Trump administration.

After about a week or so of sharing his thoughts with just his Facebook friends, someone convinced Merzer to go "bigly" with what he now calls the "Minority President Report."

The "MPR" is perfect for anyone who finds keeping up with the Trump administration to be a tad exhausting.

Today, via email, I asked Merzer a series of questions about the MPR.

His responses:
1) After a long and storied career as a journalist, what made you decide to start a blog focusing on the Trump administration, instead of just venting with an occasional Facebook post?
It started as a standard Facebook post or two on my personal page that rounded up three or four breaking news events that seemed beyond belief. A few people started lobbying for it to become a regular, daily thing, but I was reluctant to commit to that. Though I retired from the Herald eight years ago, I’m not really as retired as many people seem to think. I still take regular contract-writing work and I’m kept pretty busy with family and other obligations, and I wasn’t crazy about being saddled with another daily duty. But each day delivered rapid-fire bursts of new provocations and, almost despite myself, my fingers kept typing, and here I am, pretty much locked into a daily feature. I will say that it’s somewhat therapeutic. We each resist and protest in our own way, and I guess this is mine. If nothing else, maybe it’s helping others understand that they’re not alone. Maybe it’ll help, just a little.

Also, outside of New York and Washington, the media environment obviously is not what it used to be. In some places, it’s still somewhat adequate, but in a lot of places, it's just piss-poor, and that helped get us into this mess in the first place. So, a roundup like this of daily developments might actually have some news utility, even if mine contains some tone and snark.

1A: Why the dedicated page?
Within a week or so, I had upwards of 45 people asking to be tagged on each post, so they would see it right away. That took forever because you have to do it manually. So, our daughter, Allie Merzer Fleming, who's professionally active in political and media circles up here in Tallahassee, created the dedicated Facebook page and we advised readers how to set it up for instantaneous notifications of new posts.

2) You've covered just about everything in your 35 years as a journalist. But were you prepared for, or shocked by the campaign and specifically, the events that have taken place since January 20th?
Given the election results, I think we all expected something like this, but the speed and the incompetence and the ill-will and the sheer, overwhelming mendacity with which they've moved on so many simultaneous fronts — no one could have anticipated that.

3) You have two wonderful grandchildren, including an 8 year old grandson who is smart as a whip. Is he aware of of what's going on with our president? Do you discuss the current president with him, and if so, what are his thoughts? What's your advice for any parent trying to explain Trump to a child?
Sol is named after my dad and I think everyone who knows us will agree that he and I have a special relationship. He’s sharp. He picks stuff up, and he draws keen insights and conclusions. I’ve told this story before. On the day after the election, as we drove from gymnastics to Hebrew school, Sol asked: "Poppa, if Trump tries to do bad things, can anyone stop him?” I can sense moments when I know I better get the answer right, because it's going to be remembered. I said: "Well, yes, I think so. We have courts and judges and the Constitution..." Sol said: "And the Bill of Rights." Me: "Right, courts and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights." Sol: "So, Martin Luther King. If Trump tries to change the things Martin Luther King fought for, the courts can stop him?" Me: "Yes, we have very good judges, and they will stop him from violating the Constitution and the Bill of Rights." Sol, after thinking it through: "OK, can we listen to the Beatles?" Which we did.

Just last week, I asked Sol if he remembered that conversation and he did, virtually word for word. And then, I showed Sol a video clip of the federal judge in Seattle who told Trump where he could stick his travel ban. Solly got it. He found it reassuring.

4) Finally, given your almost 4 decades in the business, what does your gut tell you about how all this will end?
A helluva lot of damage already has been done — not only on the policy front, but to what we’ve understood to be the fundamental, civic, humane basis of our society and our republic. Before this is over, more damage will be inflicted, and it’s going to take some time to repair it. I am appalled that, already, we’ve managed to create so many mean, greedy, unprincipled, angry and, in some cases, utterly ignorant people in this country.

When and how do we repair it? Half the time, I’m certain that there is no line that can be crossed for congressional Republicans, that they have no principles, and that they’ll never act — they’re face-down in the Kool-Aid. But the other half of the time, I’m thinking that they’re just keeping him around long enough to pass and sign their Draconian agenda and then they’ll cut him loose through impeachment.

Bottom line: I think Trump gets impeached or resigns or invents a medical malady, and he gets out of there within two years, taking some of the worst players with him. That, of course, leaves us with Pence, who in some ways is worse because Pence actually has core beliefs, all of which are ugly. On the other hand, Pence may not be clinically insane, so that’s what passes these days as an upside.

I've embedded today's MPR below, but you can follow the page everyday by clicking here.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Trump and the art of the awkward creepy handshake

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Lt. Javier Ortiz, the Miami Police Department's biggest social media whore, has a mancrush on President Donald Trump

Miami Police Lt. Javier Ortiz's love for Donald Trump
is binding and unconditional.

Some police officers spend entire careers without ever showing up on the media's radar screen or being mentioned in a newspaper story.

But Miami police Lt. Javier Ortiz is not one of those cops.

Ortiz who joined the department about a dozen years ago as just another cop just doing his job, was first mentioned in a 2005 Miami Herald story that noted Ortiz had the mug shot of a wanted rapist on his cell phone's home screen.

But in the past few years, hardly a month has passed that Ortiz doesn't make news.

A 2013 Miami New Times story said that Ortiz - who was president of Miami's Fraternal Order of Police - "has officially now become one of the oddest characters in Miami."
In the past month he's been accused of abusing his power by NFL player Jonathon Vilma. He blamed teenager Israel Hernandez for his own death. News of a controversy in which he allegedly illegally beat and Tasered a tourist during Ultra Music Festival in 2011 and filed a false police report after the fact has reemerged. (And that's just the recent controversial things this guy is connected to.)

Well, now through his power as police union prez, he's openly telling potential recruits to stay away from the Miami Police Department.
Early last year, muckraking blogger Al Crespo reported that some were calling Ortiz "little more than a media whore looking to enhance his personal image through his use of incendiary comments [on social media.]"


Dec 21, 2016: Miami Police Union Chief Javier Ortiz Reprimanded for Doxxing Private Citizen

Nov 16, 2016: Miami's Police Union Chief, Who Has Led Cop Protests, Slams Anti-Trump Demonstrators

 Sept 2, 2016: Miami Police Union Chief Javier Ortiz Sued for Allegedly Beating Man During Miami Heat Championship Celebration

Aug 18, 2016: Banned From Ultra After $400,000 Brutality Lawsuit, Miami Police Union President Javier Ortiz Fights for Back Pay

April 25, 2016: Miami Police Union's Threatened Boycott of Beyoncé's Concert Didn't Work Out

Aug 14, 2015: Police Union Smears Woman Who Posted Video of Police Beating on Facebook


Had you visited Ortiz's Twitter page last year, you might have seen this....

But since Donald Trump's election last November, Ortiz has redefined social media whoredom.

Ortiz's Twitter feed - which has been renamed to @MiamiFOP20 - at one time a hot mess of disconnected thoughts - is now a place for adoring tributes to our mentally unstable commander-in-chief, Donald Trump.

You'd think that a career law enforcement officer like Ortiz who's trained to spot criminal behavior, would steer clear of a draft-dodging, self-professed sexual predator.

But with Trump's election, Javi's Twitter feed is all Donald, all the time.

Click all images to enlarge.

Occasionally, Ortiz's Twitter feed takes a bizarre, religious turn when he re-tweets stuff like this written about a President who, despite there being little evidence of him ever having read the Bible or stepping inside a church.

Ortiz, it seems is perfectly fine with religion....just as long as it's his religion.

Last June, in a Facebook post, Ortiz clumsily tried to connect President Obama to terrorist acts.

After Facebook removed the post, Ortiz re-posted it on Twitter.

In July, he re-tweeted a tweet that appeared to make a connection between President Obama and Islam.

The year before, in 2015, Ortiz attacked an assistant Miami police chief because of her Muslim faith.

At the time, Ortiz wrote that “Religious and political views have no business being reflected when wearing a police uniform.”

But because Ortiz tweets and posts on Facebook as a union official,  he's not held to the same standard as other police officers.

Which means he gets away with re-tweeting garbage like this.....

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Today, Donald Trump proved, once again, that he has an 'inability to think for an extended time about anybody but himself'

In a March 16, 2016 column, New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks wrote, "....major Republicans are raising their heads and highlighting [Donald] Trump’s actual vulnerability: his inability to think for an extended time about anybody but himself."

We saw that today when Trump turned a White House event marking Black History Month into an attack on the media.

In a post on the Toronto Star's website headlined "Donald Trump just gave a Black History Month speech about the persecution of Donald Trump," Washington correspondent Daniel Dale wrote:
WASHINGTON—Happy Black History Month, everyone. Have you heard about the greatness and persecution of Donald J. Trump?

The president of the United States held an “African-American History Month listening session” in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Wednesday. He began with a five-minute monologue that was more about himself — his campaign, his alleged mistreatment by the media, his popularity — than it was about African-Americans.

Trump’s third paragraph, for example, started with a single sentence about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It was followed by 10 sentences of grievance about his alleged mistreatment by the media.

Note that in the video above, Trump calls the media "very dishonest people."

At another point during the event Trump calls CNN "fake news."

This from a man who for years perpetuated the lie that America's first African-American president was not born in the United States.