Arizona Republican Jeff Flake took to the floor of the Senate to make a much-anticipated speech on the President’s attacks on the media.
Given that this speech occurred on the same day as Trump’s promised Fake News Awards, his words, as reported by Raw Story, are worth sharing.
“I rise today to talk about truth’s relationship to democracy,” Flake said.
The senator said that objective truth had been “battered” over the past year, with help from “the most powerful person in our government.”
“Mr. President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies,” he said. “It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.” Flake added that “free press is the despot’s enemy.”
“No president will even have dominion over objective reality,” he continued, saying that Trump was “charting a very dangerous path” with his inability to withstand criticism. 2018 must be a year in which truth takes a stand.”
I don’t want to make too much of it–his disagreements with the administration, as evidenced by his voting record, are more about style than substance.
Flake is retiring and has nothing to lose politically by pointing out bad behavior in the executive branch of government while the looting of the commons continues unabated.
The other Arizona Senator, John McCain, also had words for the President in an op-ed published in Tuesday’s Washington Post.
“Whether Trump knows it or not, these efforts are being closely watched by foreign leaders who are already using his words as cover as they silence and shutter one of the key pillars of democracy.”
And the Fake News Awards haven’t materialized… yet.
Sanders refuses to confirm or deny that there will be a Fake News awards, calls it a “potential event.” pic.twitter.com/6gHErTVIEz
— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) January 16, 2018
GOP.com to the rescue! (Sort of) Except the website crashed.
And the FAKE NEWS winners are…https://t.co/59G6x2f7fD
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
I know who would win The White House Fake News Awards, if such a thing was real, namely any media outlet not engaging in promoting the thoughts, desires, and actions of the Dear Leader.
Source close to the RNC tells me: “The RNC has become the dumpster for misplaced shit that’s too crazy for the actual White House.”
— Henry J. Gomez (@HenryJGomez) January 18, 2018
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign has launched a nationwide ad campaign on Facebook complete with a push poll (which I stupidly blocked before making a screenshot), to give credibility for their efforts to degrade the media.
In late December, the “Trump Make America Great Again Committee,” a joint project between the Republican National Committee and the Trump presidential campaign, sent out an email asking supporters to vote on a potential “2017 KING of Fake News.”
The problem is, of course, is that the almighty internet makes it possible for anybody with Wifi and a device to say just about anything and package it as news. So, yes, there is Fake News.
In Donald Trump’s case, I’d say between his supporters and opponents fantasies, the fake news out on the interwebs there is actually balanced. Provided you can stomach reading the stuff for 12 hours a day.
There is really good journalism/reporting work being done across a wide range of outlets. It is vitally important to document the destruction of democracy and the insidious undermining of the rule of law so solutions can be crafted in the future.
Too much of what Trump is getting away with is happening because nobody ever thought hard and fast rules would be required for compliance with what (then) seemed like common sense.
And much of the administration’s bellyaching over Fake News is designed to deflect attention from what’s really going on.
Today, for instance:
- The Secretary of Homeland Security told Congress on Tuesday that the administration is looking for ways to prosecute public officials in sanctuary cities. In an earlier era, these kinds of thoughts–jailing your political opponents–would have been unthinkable.
- Senator Cory Booker’s denunciation of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for being complicit in the President’s bigotry is now being characterized as ‘mansplaining’ by the GOP.
- The Department of Health and Human Services is working hard on regulations allowing medical providers to refuse to perform abortions, treat transgender patients based on their gender identity, or provide any service if they claim a “moral” or religious objection. And they’re creating a special ‘civil rights’ office to enforce their dogma.
- Officials investigating the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election are scrutinizing newly uncovered financial transactions between the Russian government and people or businesses inside the United States.
- Steve Bannon’s attorney relayed questions, in real time, to the White House during a House Intelligence Committee interview of the former Trump chief strategist.
And that’s just a few items. Stuff is happening all over. The White House wants Fake News to be tonight’s lede item on TV networks.
The Russians (dis)information warfare strategy has everything to do with creating chaos in Western Democracies. And in chaos, there is profit.
Ultimately it will be financial crimes that will bring about Trump’s personal Waterloo. Sure, the campaign might have been willing to auction off a few minor policies favoring Putin, but the real–and shared– goals had everything to do with cold.hard.cash.
One category of reporting I’d like to see get less notice is Bullshit News.
Like the endless reportage on the President’s annual physical, for instance. A lot of bytes have been wasted arguing about the ‘phoney’ physician who did the exam (same guy that did Obama’s), whether or not Trump is obese, his height, and his ability to pass a simple cognitive test.
It is what it is. Trump isn’t going anywhere for health reasons unless it’s in a (gold-lined) pine box. The man is surrounded by sycophants who could care less about his health as long as they can carry out their agenda.
Vice President Mike Pence would implement the same policies, albeit with less bluster. Special Counsel Robert Mueller can indict all he wants; Donald Trump does not admit error and has a willing chorus of acolytes in the legislative branch.
I’m not saying Mueller’s investigations are worthless; learning the truth and seeing those abetting criminal acts are important first steps.
There is no miracle cure for what ails this country, and the sooner people acknowledge reality, the sooner we can get to work on repairing the damage. It took decades of hard work by plutocrats and politicians to get where we are, and fixing the damage done by the Trumpistas will require the same.
The mistake made following Watergate and subsequent revelations about abuses of power in the law enforcement and intelligence agencies of government was the assumption that simply exposing the facts (and scaring the public) was in itself a fix.
Too many of the same enablers in elected offices around the country were allowed to continue in their ways. And I’m not just speaking of Congress.
All of this brings me to my final point for today. Stopping Trump and–more importantly–what he stands for, starts in our community.
The June 5 primary contests for County of San Diego positions you probably didn’t even realize were elected are a great first step.
What does this have to do with Trump, you say?
Consider County Sheriff Commander Dave Myers, who is challenging incumbent (and Issa buddy) Bill Gore for the top job in that department.
All SDSO employees are encouraged to work – and get paid for – the annual @RTFHSD homeless census. As you can see my request to participate was denied. I’ll report to the Sheriff’s closet as the retaliation continues. @jptstewart @acbowen @dougporter506 @johnrlamb @HomelessnessSD pic.twitter.com/Q4IxFqEzpF
— Dave Myers (@MyersSD30) January 17, 2018
Sound familiar? It should.
Next week’s Starting Line columns will be focused on County electoral contests where your vote can make a difference. Stay tuned.
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