Trump hopes for the Hollywood ending

trump-press-conferenceHollywood tells all kind of stories. One of the staples of the “Hollywood ending” is when the main character delivers a speech that changes the course of events of the tale. It’s the Aesop’s Fables morality moment where we all come to the same collective understanding that whatever had been happening up to that point was wrong. At the conclusion of the speech, nearly everyone has their road-to-Damascus conversion, admitting the error of their ways and vowing to make a change for the better.

Those moments make for some of the best stories, because we want to believe if the characters in the story can make a change for the best, we all can. Unfortunately, for many, art does not reflect reality.

trump-quote-on-mediaDuring his first press conference since the inauguration, Donald Trump verbally castigated the vast majority of the national press corps and the mainstream media for their creation of fake news. He called them out, right to their faces, vacillating between charismatic humor and stern scolding. He told them how disappointed he and fellow Americans are with their tone and willful obfuscation of the truth. He acknowledged that he will make mistakes and would expect the reporting to be bad; conversely, he said when he does something well, he would expect the media to report something good. Instead, as he noted, the press will take something good and make it sound bad and then take something bad and make it sound worse. He called that fake news.

Then, in a surprising moment of both sincerity and clarity, President Trump stated, “I want to see an honest press. I started off today by saying it’s so important to the public to get an honest press. The public doesn’t believe you people any more.” Had this been a Hollywood movie, the violins would have swelled and we would have been shown a montage of faces all coming to the realization they have been wrong. They would have turned to each other with reflective expressions, before standing and applauding the president for reminding them of who they are. What would follow, after a slow fade, would be a voice-over from one or more reporters, reading from their latest pieces, apologizing to their readers/listeners/viewers for abdicating their duties as dispassionate reporters of facts. They would beg for forgiveness, hoping to convey their sincere change of heart over how they had lost their way.

Sadly, this isn’t a Hollywood movie. The reporters, who would likely gush over a similar scene on the silver screen, were completely oblivious to the message. The hurt feelings and bruised egos were on display across the dial following the press conference. All they cared about was playing out the infantile schoolyard game of, “Oh, yeah, well I think you’re a big, stupid, poo-poo head!”

Am not. Are too!

Beyond the content discussed in President Trumps presser, what he told the media about their role and responsibility was a bulls-eye. The Founding Fathers understood the need to have a free and unfettered press to keep government honest. They toiled for months to craft the Constitution, built on the concept of three separate but co-equal branches of government. These three estates — Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches — were designed to have a specific set of checks and balances to ensure no branch could overrule the other.

But, in face of major concerns from several states about the need for greater constitutional protection for individual liberties, James Madison went to work on drafting the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. The Bill of Rights, as they are now known, lists specific prohibitions on governmental power, with the first protecting, among others, the freedom of the press. Many misinterpret this to mean, the press must publish whatever someone wants heard. This is absurd. There is no “right” to be heard. What the amendment secures is the protection of the press to be free from harm or imprisonment for saying/printing material that might be unfavorable to the government. None of the amendments are there to give people privileges; they are there to declare unalienable rights, which cannot be infringed upon by any part of the government.

As it relates to the press, the framers of our Constitution recognized, even with checks and balances in place, politicians could collude together to avoid following those enumerated rules for how our government should function. By granting the press immunity from government prosecution, they created, in effect, a fourth estate, which exists outside of government. They reasoned, when politicians might be tempted to act outside of the bounds of the Constitution, the press would shed light on those actions and the American public would be informed. Knowing the press is free from government persecution, the members of each branch of government would feel the weight of the all-seeing-eye of providence pressing down on them, helping to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Unfortunately, we have been witness to the slow erosion of the line separating the press and government. It’s become more important to curry favor and keep getting the invites to the social events, rather than being objective with the facts. News is no longer reported. It’s crafted. It’s honed. Impressions can be made by leaving certain facts out while embellishing others. The purveyors of news have, for the most part, become mouthpieces for the sides they like. When members of the press choose the party they like over the party they do not, it is impossible to expect an objective reporting of facts. For all intents and purposes, the majority of the national press corps and the mainstream media has morphed into a propaganda wing for “their” side — the majority of which leans Left.

There is nothing wrong with writing opinion pieces, but that is not the role of the press. I do not classify myself as a “reporter” or a “journalist.” I am not just giving a chronology of events as they occurred. I do look at the facts, then I filter them through knowledge and experience. Once I have had a chance to digest the context, I provide my own thoughts and ideas, tempered with logic and reason, on the news of the day. Like a skilled debater, I am trying to convince my audience, through explanation and illustration, that my point-of-view is solid and above reproach.

This is the problem with the mainstream media. Too many have become covert op-ed writers, not interested in just laying out facts, but instead, creating a narrative, disguised as news, meant to sway the audience. The moment a journalist moves in that direction, they have willfully abdicated their role as reporters of the truth.

It’s not too late to hope for the Hollywood ending. But, as long as the press corps believes their role is to shape the news rather than report on it, they will continue to be manipulated into defending their egos when their machinations are revealed. The more the press loses their mind over the actions of Donald Trump, the less the public will believe anything they have to say.

President Trump challenged them to provide the truth to the American public. If it were a movie, that’s all it would take.

Will protest fatigue begin to show?

funny-rally-signs-21

It’s just now coming up on 13 days; not yet two full weeks since the inauguration. I believe there have been protests, rallies and protest-rallies each and every day, with no sign of slowing. There is a subset of our country that seems to have decided it’s better (easier?) to stop going to work, ignore responsibilities to house and home and become a career protester.

Hey, hey, ho, ho…so and so has got to go!

What do we want? <blank> When do we want it? Now.

I am writing this specifically for my friends on the Left. I’m worried about you. There is a problem when you continuously dilute your agenda by deciding everything must be protested. You could eventually succumb to the psychological condition known as compassion fatigue. As defined, compassion fatigue is a condition identified by a gradual lessening of compassion over time. It is common among individuals who deal with heightened emotions. From soldiers in combat, to first-responders, to doctors in emergency rooms and more, when exposed to intense situations over and over, eventually, as a way to cope, you will begin to stop caring. Similar to the boy-who-cried-wolf scenario, at some point, no one will care about what you have to say.

In addition to the gradual loss of apathy for the interest or cause, there are other problems that may manifest themselves. Some side effects of compassion fatigue include feelings of hopelessness, losing the ability to experience joy, a loss of a sense of humor, constant stress and anxiety, sleeplessness and a shift toward negativity.

unhappyprotesterSome say the voices of the regressive-Left are already experiencing these symptoms today. Many have already lost their sense of humor. Everything is mind-numbingly serious. There are those intent on looking for micro-aggressions everywhere, while demanding safe-spaces in which to hide. Some see misogyny, bigotry and xenophobia all around. Even last night on the campus of Berkeley, riots broke out because the tolerant voices of the Left would not tolerate to have Milo Yiannopoulos as a guest speaker. Why? Because he is not lock-step in line with the groupthink of the Left. The constant genuflections within the church of political correctness is leading toward a mass psychosis.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you felt joy? Hopefulness? When was the last time you felt positive about yourself? Your community? Your country? The knee-jerk reaction to decide anyone wearing the jersey of the “other” team must be opposed, shouted down, protested, fought and oppressed is a prescription for eventual self-destruction rather than victory.

Let’s pull back and I’ll try to explain this in a different way. We’ve all had relationships go bad. Whether dumped or divorced, we all know what it feels like to be emotionally hurt by someone we loved. However, over time, most will put that chapter behind us and move on to new adventures. That’s the healthy path. But, occasionally, the bitterness of the breakup will drive some to obsess over their ex, wondering nonstop who they are with or what they are doing? They complain incessantly about what they’ve learned, their words dripping with revulsion and anger. It becomes uncomfortable when they are out in groups. They cannot allow themselves to be happy because of their obsession over the one who hurt them and, by way of extension, like the Dementors of Harry Potter, can suck the joy out of everyone else in the room.

Let me ask you, in that situation, who is actually hurting? Who is really suffering? Is the ex somehow affected by the vitriol of their former love? Or is it the one who cannot figure out how to look for some semblance of acceptance and peace?

This is what’s happening to a segment of the population since the election of Donald Trump. Many are acting like the jilted lover and now that they have been left behind, they are focusing their hurt and anger on the one they believe scorned them. They are trolling nonstop, looking to criticize every word, phrase or action, regardless of facts, logic or reason. They prefer to make themselves feel better by hurting others, while spreading lies, misinformation and partisan rhetoric.

You cannot remove darkness with more darkness. You cannot remove anger by getting angrier. Said another way, by the great civil right’s leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It’s not easy to do, but, as with most things, it has to begin with you. No one else can do it for you.

This is not to say you must roll over and accept everything. On the contrary, the framers of our Constitution were keen to protect the right of citizens to gather and speak openly. However, if you have set yourself up that when the President says the sky is blue, you cross your arms, stamp your feet and shake your head, are you really accomplishing anything? To willfully disagree with everything means you are no longer protesting — you are throwing a tantrum. And, as most toddlers learn, throwing a tantrum uses a lot of energy and rarely achieves anything other than dreary fatigue. It is more productive and healthier to learn to pick your battles and pay heed to the old adage, you are likely to attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Is it really about 5 million illegal votes cast?

mustshowidtovote

Well, now he’s done it!

First spokesperson Sean Spicer brought up a comment in a White House presser about a concern over voter fraud and the press corps jumped on it. At one point, Spicer revealed that President Trump felt it could have been 3 million illegal votes cast in the last Presidential election. Then it turned into 5 million. All of a sudden, the press pushed him to provide evidence and asked if the President was going to launch an investigation. He stammered and shuffled his feet and said something to the effect that there were more pressing issues for the President to face in his first days in office.

An incredulous press pushed, stating that if there were millions of illegal votes cast, it would be one of the biggest stories in the nation’s history. Though the mainstream media is never short on hyperbole, they did have a point and Sean Spicer could only reiterate that President Trump was focused on other things.

trumptweetonvoterfraudWell…we didn’t even go 24 hours before a tweet was issued from President Donald Trump. He tweeted out that he would be asking for a major investigation into voter fraud, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even, those trumptweetonvoterfraud2registered to vote who
are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures. (I put that last in italics for my own emphasis and to draw your attention to it. Keep those words in the back of your mind for a moment.)

Enter the next news cycle with talking heads and news media outlets jumping into the discussion, almost all in a negative way. Local news outlets in my state of Georgia ran it as a lead story, having interviewed the Secretary of State and others who assured citizens that incidents of any allegations of voter fraud are so minuscule, they barely warrant a mention. We were assured that the handful of incidents reported were all taken seriously and found to be, with the exception of 5 or 6 cases, non-existent.

It’s all much ado about nothing! So why would Trump be saying something so stupid?

Because Donald Trump does not seem to do anything on a whim — or if he does, he has an amazing, unconscious ability to pick the word, phrase or action that contains far more depth and meaning than what appears on the surface. Listening to each news cycle tout that the state of Georgia has almost no voter fraud made me realize, this was President Trump’s point. Why? Because the state of Georgia has one of the toughest voter photo ID laws in the country. It has been challenged and every time, those arguments are shot down by the supreme court.

But, Georgia is one of only 16 states that require a photo ID to cast a ballot. An additional 15 states accept non-photo ID, but there is a lot of discussion over how valid that option really is in preventing fraud. 38% of states, or the remaining 19, require no ID whatsoever, including the huge population (and electoral) centers of California, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania — all of them democrat since Ronald Regan until Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016.  And the 19 states (plus D.C.) that do not require any form of voter identification at all accounts for 228 electoral votes. That puts you just 42 electoral votes shy of what is needed to win the presidency.

voteridsbystate

There are only 8 states with strict photo ID laws, followed by 8 states with non-strict photo ID laws to create the 16 states who look for a picture ID. There are 3 states that are considered to have strict non-photo voter ID laws. The remaining 12 states have non-strict, non-photo ID laws.

The message is clear. Whether or not there is wide-spread (in the millions) of illegal votes being cast in the country is secondary to the agenda I believe Donald Trump is trying to pursue — strict photo ID laws in all 50 states. All it will take is for a statistically significant number of irregularities to present themselves, especially in the no ID required states as compared to the strict photo ID states, and that’s all it will take to tip the balance.

So, keep running the headlines in Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Virginia, Kansas, Wisconsin, Indiana and Vermont about how insignificant the instance of voter fraud is. Thanks to Jill Stein’s attempts at forcing a recount, we already know there were some serious irregularities in many of the voting precincts in Wayne County, Michigan. Before the recount was halted, 37% of those precincts tabulated more ballots than the number of voters tallied by workers in the poll books. Who knows what the final numbers would have been if the recount had been allowed to continue? And Michigan is one of the non-strict photo ID law states. Imagine what may lurk in the 19 states with absolutely no voter ID requirements whatsoever?

Will we find 3-5 million illegal votes? Who knows? But, if there is enough of a discrepancy in those states with weak to no voter ID laws, well, as President Trump tweeted, there will be a push to strengthen up voting procedures.

He may have the mainstream media fixed on the wild allegation thrown out by both Sean Spicer and him, but there is something bigger at play than a number. Maybe we should all be paying a little more attention to what he continues to reveal in his tweets. He seems to be keeping his word on a lot of what he’s been saying over the last 18 months.

 

Shared from fellow blogger, Aussieconservative

Before being elected, Donald Trump made a point of his capacity to work extremely long hours, and has previously stated he only requires 2-4 hours of sleep per night. This unshakable passion for life, appears to have influenced the Trump Presidency, with the new President already delivering on key campaign promises, signing off on 3 key executive orders. […]

via Donald Trump off to a good start — aussieconservativeblog

First there was Twitter and then came Spicer

spicer-and-trumpWhen I wrote a few weeks back that I believe then President-elect Trump was intentionally using Twitter to take up all of the oxygen in the 24 hour news cycle, I had no idea others would also jump on that same thought-train. Even after pointing out this strategy, I knew the mainstream media and opponents to President Trump would not take it to heart. They are so programmed to attack and flood social media with the latest controversial hashtag, they cannot help themselves. Like the tweet a Time’s reporter in the White House press pool falsely put out, stating that the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office. The fire storm over that #fakenews tweet ran rampant for hours before the truth came to light — the reporter was wrong. The bust had never been moved, but the narrative in the minds of so many in the mainstream media is that Trump is a racist, so it made sense to them he would do something so insensitive. Even though forced to apologize, the damage was already done. That lie lived up to the old saying about making it halfway around the world before the truth got its pants on.

The media and forces opposed to Donald Trump live in a constant heightened state, waiting to pounce on the slightest piece of negativity with which to run. Instead of following even the most basic rules of journalistic ethics, to question sources, vet information and look for corroborating details, they want to be first to hit the airwaves and the internet. And if you don’t think Donald Trump doesn’t know this, you are a bigger fool than you think he is.

So, I have no problem at all pointing out that his strategy of using Twitter to put out tweets designed to tweak the media is only the beginning. Enter White House spokesperson, Sean Spicer. Prior to taking office, Trump only had the power of social media. Now he’s got the bully pulpit as well and he’s not afraid to use it.

In the very first press conference, while the media began foaming at the mouth with the phrase, “alternative facts” and a discussion over numbers watching/attending the inauguration, President Trump went to work, signing an executive order to begin reducing the burden Obamacare has been putting on families. In the two following pressers, Sean Spicer scolded the media for their #fakenews tweet about the MLK bust and then, introduced the idea that millions of illegals may have voted in the election. While the media has been going rabid, President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, imposed a federal hiring freeze and reinstated the “Mexico City policy” on defunding international abortion-related services. He also signed orders to fast-track the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Add to these orders the confirmation of some of Trump’s cabinet members, including Marine General James Mattis (who spent his first day authorizing 31 bombings on ISIS positions) and new CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Expected to make it through are just about every other nominee, thanks to rules the Democrats, under the leadership of Harry Reid, put in place during the prior administration.

While we all sit back and roll our eyes or get angry at the posts on social media regarding #illegalvoting, there just isn’t enough air left to cover anything else of substance taking place. This is not the fault of anything other than a complicit media more interested in a sexy “gotcha” sound bite instead of doing their jobs. President Trump is aware of this, and as long as they let him, he will continue to use both Twitter and Spicer to keep the media chasing his laser pointer light like a herd of cats.

 

Look at what the clown is tweeting now — and that’s just why he does it

trump-texting

There has been an idea been rolling around in my head for the last few weeks. With each announcement of another cabinet position for President-elect Trump’s team, I find my suppositions being confirmed. He is putting some of the best, brightest and most successful people in positions around him. These are not academicians, coming down from their vaunted ivory towers to take a faculty lounge approach to governance. The list, populated with actual adults, puts some of the best possible people in key positions within the administration. Contrary to the media’s portrayal, Donald Trump is not putting mindless sycophants around him. His cabinet is not being filled with empty suits of yes-men and yes-women. He is taking his win seriously and knows he must surround himself with intelligent people who know how to achieve objectives and solve complex problems.

So, why does he continue to engage in what appears to be silly, juvenile squabbles on Twitter? When actress Meryl Streep chose to go after Trump instead of thanking the people with whom she has worked for decades, rather than let her comments fall on deaf ears, he chose to counter-attack. Those tweets, as they often do, sucked up the next 24-36 hours of the round-the-clock news cycle. Even I found myself suggesting sometimes it is better to crush your opponent with the weight of their own insignificance by remaining silent.

And that’s when the nagging thought in the back of my mind came to the fore. He was going to take a page from the Obama administration’s playbook and turn it around 180 degrees. We all know that whenever Obama wants to further his socialist agenda, he will often get us, with the help of the willing mainstream media, to look at some shiny bauble in his other hand. And, so long as the majority of his audience allow themselves to be distracted, the real agenda gets pushed from the other hand. His army of automatons will “go forth and do” as Dear Ruler commands. It’s like watching the Pharaoh Rameses in the Ten Commandments — “So let it be written; so let it be done.”

But, instead of getting us to focus on some other distraction across the room, Donald J. Trump IS the distraction. While we scoff and laugh and roll our eyes, and the media floods the news cycle with as many offended talking heads as they can find, work is being quietly done behind the scenes. The average Joe (and most of the Left) would struggle to name even three of Trump’s appointees, yet they can tell you about his tweets and can regurgitate pieces of fake news that match the narrative in which they believe: Trump is a clown; Trump is an idiot; Trump is a fool.

Since his win, the stock market has been on a rally  (contrary to all the predictions of the experts), US companies are rethinking their plans to build factories outside the US, businesses are keeping employees here and the optimism index of small business made one of the biggest jumps in its history. The mainstream media is not touting these early positives. Instead, they are digging for any story they can find, fake or otherwise, in an attempt to chop Trump’s legs out from under him. And Trump knows it!

Rather than run or explain or kowtow to the press, he helps them by jumping on Twitter and giving them round after round of nutrient rich crap in which the mushrooms of each 24 hour news cycle will grow. He knows they are out to destroy him. He knows they are not honest. He knows they will resort to fake news. In fact, he’s counting on it!

When I and others look back on the first few years of his presidency, this piece may turn out to be just as full of manure as anything the mainstream media has already been shoveling. It could be this post will be worthy of nothing more than digital fish-wrapping. But, at this moment in time, watching the events of the last few weeks through the prism of how Donald Trump has succeeded at each step where every expert assured us he would fail, it feels like Trump is playing the role of the wise fool. He’s the Yoda we first meet in the Empire Strikes Back, acting silly and talking nonsense in order to both weaken Luke’s defenses and to get to the heart of who Luke really is. It’s only when we’ve doubled-down on the certainty we are dealing with a fool that the wise soul will show itself.

I hear some of you yelling at me right now. Why am I letting the Left know what he’s up to? Why reveal the ruse?

My answer: It doesn’t matter. And, Trump knows that too! Just look at what happened over the course of the first couple of days since election night. One mainstream news outlet after the other, still with stunned looks of disbelief, acknowledged they had been wrong and needed to learn to listen to a wider array of voices. How long did that last? Not more than three days. Suddenly, instead of learning from all they did wrong, the media decided to double-down on their own narrative. It couldn’t be them. It had to be fake news, Russian hacks, stolen ballots, the FBI, FoxNews and on and on and on.

The Left and the elitists who are opposed to Trump will not believe one word of anything I’ve said. They cannot bring themselves to believe it. So, while they will continue to throw as much fake news as they can find against the wall, hoping something sticks, Donald Trump will keep the spotlight on himself, while his team is left to quietly get to the job of undoing all of the harm wrought by President Obama. While the talking heads continue to call Trump a clown, freedom and capitalism will be returned to the marketplace. As the snowflakes and statists look for ways to protest and march in the streets, our enemies will shrink back into the shadows and our allies will be rejuvenated. And while his detractors on social media will continue to nit-pick any and everything he does, GDP will rise, the misery index will drop and America may really find itself being great again.

And, just like that, you can hear Yoda, with a twinkle in his eye, laughing as he logs onto Twitter.

 

Maybe #fakenews represents lies Leftists tell themselves

fakenewscartoon

I’m already tired of the phrase. Fake news.

Hillary Clinton began spouting it nearly non-stop following her concession after the November presidential election cycle. That phrase was gobbled up by the brainless fowl in the mainstream media who were all too willing to parrot the latest talking point meant to deride deplorables. It has been uttered by professors, students, elected officials, government spokespeople and even the president of the United States of America. And, as usual, Leftists are fantastic at propaganda and misleading terminology.

Think about the construction of the phrase:

Fake – A thing that is not genuine; a forgery or sham.

News – Newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events.

Butt them together and the impression it creates in the head of the listener is of an effort by some to forge or invent stories that pass themselves off as factual about current events. Thus, Hillary Clinton desperately wants her supporters to believe there was a concerted effort to create false stories in the media to derail her campaign and that’s why she lost.

So, let’s see if we can document some of the more glaring instances of “news” stories that I believe fall into the category of fake news:

  • It starts with Dan Rather reporting about physical evidence, showing then candidate George W. Bush had misled the public about his service records from his time in the military. It wasn’t until someone realized the font and spacing in those documents could have never been made by any typewriter that existed at the time, that the story fell apart. Dan Rather was forced to resign, but has made a slow come back, going so far as to now lecture us about fake news.
  • What about Hillary Clinton’s story about that time she landed in Bosnia under sniper fire? Only, that never happened, even though it was widely reported in the mainstream media.
  • Did you know Hillary said she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary for his exploits? The mainstream media was enthralled with the imagery conjured by that relation. Unfortunately, Hillary was a toddler before Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Mount Everest.
  • Brian Williams had to resign as the anchor of NBC Nightly News after he was caught in not just one lie about being under fire in Iraq, but a history of lying, embellishing and fabricating “facts” to go along with a narrative in which he believed.
  • Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton told the world that the attack in Benghazi, that left our Ambassador and three other patriots dead, was the result of a badly produced YouTube video, which appeared to mock the prophet Mohammad. The mainstream media reported that line for months.
  • The death of Trayvon Martin was sold as a racist attack by a “white” hispanic. The mainstream media was caught editing the 911 call, photoshopping images and repeating a false narrative over and over. A jury, when presented with all of the facts, acquitted defendant Zimmerman.
  • Hands up; don’t shoot! Remember that one? The gentle giant who was just minding his own business when a diminutive white cop decided it was his turn to randomly shoot and kill a defenseless black man? Unfortunately, once again, when the facts were presented in a court of law, a jury realized the media had been spinning a yarn as thick and long as any told around a campfire.
  • Rolling Stone magazine got themselves in hot water with their report on rape on the campus of the University of Virginia? Even after the reporter was caught in a deceitful story, her excuse was just because this one event wasn’t true, didn’t mean a rape culture did not exist on campus. Again…the narrative and the belief was more important than actual facts.
  • Remember Hillary’s incident this past September when she had to leave a 9/11 memorial? At first the media (taking the talking points from her campaign) said she was just over-heated from the weather — until the weather reports didn’t jive with that line. Then the video surfaced of her stumbling and falling head-long into her vehicle and the story shifted to pneumonia. But, just a couple hours later, Hillary emerges from her daughter’s apartment, playing with her grandchild, leading many to ask why anyone with something as infectious and debilitating as pneumonia would be up and about playing with a child? That’s when it shifted yet again to just a mild case of the flu. So many shifts and the mainstream media was okay reporting it as fact every step of the way.

These are all just a handful of stories I have recalled off the top of my head. It barely scratches the surfaces of stories that had been reported from actual news media outlets — not from blogs, podcasts, social media posts or memes. I have not even started down the road of man-made climate change stories that have been found repeatedly false, misleading or reliant on flawed computer modeling or altered data!

Let’s fast-forward to the election cycle where pollsters, news agencies, talking-heads, radio personalities, bloggers and social media mavens put forth data, charts and interviews proving that Hillary was going to win the presidency and Trump was a lost cause. Many (not all) in the #NeverTrump movement relished in their daily, non-stop, lambasting of Donald Trump and any of his supporters.

During all of this, millions of Americans, tired of being labeled, shouted down, called all manner of horrible names and accused of siding with the worst possible hate-groups in our nation’s history, decided to keep quiet. Exasperated at trying to engage in conversation, they opted instead for silence or passive agreement just to avoid confrontation. And while the silence became deafening to those who were paying attention, the WikiLeaks emails began to pervade social media, eventually getting into the mainstream media newscasts, albeit begrudgingly.

At no time did the DNC say the information contained in those emails was untrue, save for Donna Brazille, who was caught sharing debate questions with Hillary Clinton, only to resign her position at CNN in shame. Instead, democrats and the campaign chose to blame “Russian hackers”, trying to get everyone to look at the shiny object across the room instead of the glaring black and white facts staring them in the face. The experts told us it would not affect Hillary’s coronation. She was going to be the next president of the United States of American. Even President Obama admitted he was made aware of potential hacks from outside entities (still yet to be proven), but wasn’t worried enough to do or say anything about it. We can surmise, by his own words when he said he would leave it for Hillary to address, he believed her election was a foregone conclusion. Makes you wonder if it was that negligible prior to the election, why is worth blaming today?

Now, in the weeks since the election of Donald J. Trump, the chorus of sore losers continues to yell FAKE NEWS from the rooftops, rather than deal with reality. It has to be some nefarious foreign government who changed the course of the election. The polls and pollsters convinced them of a win. The talking heads on television confirmed it nightly. Social media was the only place where the whisper of the truth could be heard if one wanted to listen. But, hey, social media isn’t news, right? It’s all fake there.

The whining, stomping, tantrum throwers still refuse to accept reality. They tried protesting, violence, recounts, threatening electors and produced Hollywood videos in an effort to change the results of November 8th. In the end, in a display of wonderful irony, it was a handful of Hillary electors who changed, or wanted to change, their votes.

It seems to me, given all we know and all we have experienced, there is something else afoot here. In every instance of false reporting documented above, at the root was a reporter (or news agency) who so wanted to believe the narrative of their story, objectivity was kicked to the curb. The story line fit their world view, therefore it had to be true. The idea it was they, themselves, putting out a “fake” story still has yet to cross their minds. The fake news has to be elsewhere.

It makes me wonder if, at some point, Leftists will come to realize the fake news they keep talking about is the lies they keep telling themselves?

What’s wrong with the GOP?

elephants-fighting1-570x301Whenever a controversy erupts, why do democrats seem to always circle their wagons and protect each other, whereas republicans will immediately eat their own? Is it part of the loyalty pledge? What causes one party to act out of self-preservation while the other seems bent on self-destruction?

The Democrat Party has long prided itself on its diverse views of culture and social mores. Until the rise of the Regressive Left phenomenon (a topic for another day), the attraction of the Left has been their promise not to judge anyone’s values. All thoughts and ideas are welcome, no matter how strange or bizarre to those on the Right.

Conversely, the Republican Party has prided itself on longstanding cultural traditions, to include religious and family values. The attraction of the Right has been their support of the Constitution and the principles of cultural assimilation, no matter how old fashioned it may appear to those on the Left.

Looking at these two disparate perspectives will give us a starting point for knowing why each party reacts in polar opposite fashion. But, we need to know one more thing before we can proceed. It is important to understand the concept of groupthink. It is a psychological phenomenon where individuals yearn for harmony or conformity within their group, resulting in irrational or dysfunctional decision-making. They try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus without critical evaluation of alternative perspectives, usually by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints and by isolating themselves from outside influences.

Because those on the Left typically accept a much wider range of social behaviors or actions, their reaction tends to be one of  tolerance. If that person is truly a member of their group, without question, the others in that same group will say to the offending member, “You are one of us so we are not going to judge you.” Therefore, their behavior or action is whitewashed through the prism of tolerance, even if it seems to defy logic and reason

On the flip-side, those on the Right, who typically demand self-control and to aspire to a higher moral code, will invariably choose to dissociate from the wrong-doer saying, “You are not one of us and we don’t want others to judge us by your actions.” Therefore, whatever the problem or failing, the fear of being lumped in with an aberration fuels a need among the Right to isolate and deride the individual, rather than forgive or show compassion.

The Left elects to accept the problematic person or situation, employing a sort of secular forgiveness and absolution while the Right chooses to pass down judgment and condemnation, ignoring the very religious tenants that are supposed to be at the core of the party.

I should note that it would be wrong to paint every Democrat or Republican with the same brush. Groupthink exists within the core — the rock solid center. It is made up of those who tend to be very vocal, militant in their stances and opinions and often are in positions of power, whether it be a political position or one within the halls of opinion, talk or social media. The further out one gets from the core, the less likely to be affected by the blinders of groupthink. And not everyone within the core will suffer, it just becomes far more prevalent.

Once the problem person or action has been identified, both parties will strive to regain conformity within their respective groups. The Left attempts to dilute the situation by surrounding, supporting and, in some cases, embracing the action or behavior of one of their own. Hence the notion of always circling the wagons. Conversely, the Right attempts to absolve itself from the nature of the problem by going out of its way to inform everyone that the behaviors or actions of the one individual do not represent the rest of the group.

This explains how someone like Bill Clinton, with a proclivity toward chasing and bedding women and a habit of lying can be dismissed by those on the Left. Those flaws become explainable. It’s the stress of the job. It’s the allure of the office. It’s a natural byproduct of the weight of the office. No one wants to be judged within their group so no one will do it either. The behavior or action is not only tolerated, in time, it also becomes something to admire.

On the other side, someone like Donald Trump, with a proclivity of boorish behavior toward women and a lack of political-correctness, is unacceptable within the ranks of the Right. Such behavior reflects poorly on the group identity and where Bill Clinton gets a pass from his own party, the exact opposite takes place on the Right. The need for sanctimonious piety precludes any acceptance or forgiveness. There can be no consideration given to an alternative viewpoint.

It explains how, in the last several election cycles, whichever candidate comes to the fore in the GOP, will have their flaws documented, amplified, exposed and used as reasons to then reject and dismiss. It also explains how those on the Left are willing to accept any flaw, even lawlessness and thievery, when their chosen representative ascends the mantle of power.

Many of our Founding Fathers, like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, did their share of drinking and many engaged in unseemly activities. War leaders and heroes like Franklin D. Roosevelt, George S. Patton and  John F. Kennedy have had their vices and vulgarities made known. We should always strive for the best, but our history is replete with individuals who will forever be remembered more for their leadership, bravery, intellect and patriotism than any social flaw or defect.

When the election cycle comes to a close, the GOP needs to engage in some significant soul-searching. There needs to be room for more tolerance. There needs to be room for more forgiveness. Fake outrage will not help the party. Sanctimonious tirades only serve the individual feigning disappointment. The Right needs to recognize that every human being is inherently flawed and to hell with worrying about what the other side is going to say. They need to worry more about achieving strategic victories and less about condemning individual foibles. Failure to understand and address these issues will lead to an even more fractured, divided and angry GOP; a pale shadow of it’s former self.

Maybe what is really wrong with the GOP is trying to shoe-horn too many rigid ideologues under the same tent. Who knows? But, if we cannot figure out how to be a little more flexible and a whole lot more focused, we will watch as the Grand Old Party rips itself apart along ideological lines.

And the Democrats will reign for an age.

 

 

 

Make the political argument, not the personal attack

CheetoJesusSomething has been irking me for a while now. Initially, I couldn’t put my finger on it. It’s been building over the last couple of months. It’s not so much the entrenched corners so many have willingly put themselves in when debating the virtues and vices of the presidential nominees, though that is a part. It has more to do with the tenor of those who have been aligned with the voice of conservatism.

One of the founding ideas behind Freedom Cocktail was to create an environment for the free exchange of ideas and dialogue, so long as civility remained the setting and logic and reason the atmosphere. Any object could be set on that imaginary stage (or bar) and discussed, so long as those conditions remained. Over the 4+ years of our existence, we have had posts covering everything from current events to philosophical views on raising children, our changing culture and everything in between. In every case, no one resorted to name-calling. With each successive post, acute attention was placed on not ignoring contrary facts or shifting arguments away from contrary evidence. It is something we pride ourselves on when we identify as conservatives or Libertarians.

One of my favorite quotes, in terms of debate, comes from former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” That comment has always stuck with me and helps to drive my choice of words whenever I debate someone, whether in writing or in person.

I appreciate my Libertarian friends who have almost always backed the Libertarian Party candidate. When they write about their decision to back Gary Johnson here in the 2016 race, they are being consistent with their ideals and firmly held beliefs. And, generally speaking, they do not delve into personal attacks or Mad Magazine-style lambasting.

On the flip side, Leftists cannot help but fall into the 3-step playbook whenever they are trying to engage in political commentary — they will first shift the subject when anyone is able to rebut their initial claim; they will then ignore the facts being presented to them (or anything contrary) that would force them to revise their initial claim; and, as a final step, will resort to name-calling. They cannot help it. They may never admit they are wrong, but as Maggie Thatcher was keen to notice about human nature, when you have not one single political argument left, all that remains are emotional outbursts designed to attack personally.

Much like Maggie, I swell with joy and pride when I can drive a Leftist to resort to their 3-step playbook, turning them into red-faced blowhards, vomiting nonsensical platitudes and horrible vulgarities as fast as they can conjure them. I know, I should not take joy in the emotional wreckage I have wrought by the judicious application of logic and reason, but I’m human, too. I have my weaknesses.

On almost equal footing to the personal insults, what angers me (and most conservatives) is the notion that Leftists have of themselves as being so much smarter, they need to think for the rest of us. They want to tell us what food to eat, what light bulbs to use, what cars to drive, how much we should earn, how much health insurance we need and how to raise and educate our own children. They convocate in their Ivory Towers and their hallowed halls of Marxist principles, doling out their wisdom to the rest of the poor, common-folk, too uneducated and unenlightened to know what’s best for them. So what if the messengers do not need to heed their own advice — so long as the masses conform, the select few are entitled to the spoils, are they not? Ever wonder why it’s okay for Leonardo DiCaprio to own a mega-yacht, Al Gore to fly on a Gulfstream and Bernie Sanders to buy his 3rd mansion while the rest of us are scolded for firing-up a grill or driving a 4×4? It’s because, in their minds, they are part of a different caste and as long as the vast majority can be convinced to go without and relegate themselves to the bottom rungs, the elites get to break their own rules. After all, they are so much smarter and better than the rest of us, we should just be thankful they allow their wisdom to be forced down our throats, right?

This brings me back to my quandary.  I’ve already written my thoughts about the #NeverTrump movement (here and here) so I will not belabor my earlier arguments. I’ve said all I think I can to sway someone with my point-of-view. However, what I want to do is implore those who have gone all-in on the #NeverTrump movement is to consider a couple of thoughts.

CheetoJesus2First, your choice of words and phrases. Take a lesson from Maggie. Terms like Cheeto Jesus, The Angry Cheeto, Cheez-Whiz and the Clown Prince of Politics are not political arguments. Equally, to label supporters of Donald Trump as members of the Branch Trumpidians, Trumpites, Trumpettes, Trumpeteers, Trump-chumps or Trumpkins is akin to trying to win a debate by calling someone ugly. Or fat. They are insults and devoid of any political merit or substance whatsoever. Sure, to those in the same caste, it’s uproariously funny. Like the rich, mean girls teasing the poor kid from across the tracks, everyone knows it’s wrong, except them. And it eventually turns sympathy toward the one being personally attacked.

Which brings me to the self-righteous, we-know-so-much-better-than-you, that is equivalent to the hubris exhibited by the elites on the Left. It is the height of arrogance to presume you belong on a different plane than everyone else simply because you deem it so. No one likes to lose, but worse is the loser who takes their ball and goes home, only to blame everyone else for why their team had to quit the game.

But it’s not fair!

Every parent, at one time or another, reminds their children that life isn’t fair. Sometimes, the bad guy wins. Sometimes, you don’t get what you want just because you demand it. Sometimes, you have to act like the grown up and press on, waiting for the next opportunity to present itself.

Be a member of #NeverTrump. You have every right to choose whom you wish to vote for and where you will throw your support. But keep the principles of logic, reason and civility foremost in mind. Choose your words and your arguments carefully to avoid mirroring the very same tactics and behaviors we detest in those who would prefer to have dominion over every aspect of our very lives. Otherwise, all you will succeed in doing is solidifying the support of those whom you offend and alienate those who might otherwise be open to a more persuasive and dignified alternative point-of-view.

People should vote their conscience

cruz-trump-2016I’ve been known to “real-time” tweet during political events, like the State of the Union address or the primary debates for both the Republicans and the Democrats. Thousands of others do the same. It has become a means for political junkies to feel like they are making their voices heard. Social media is an amazing innovation. Anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer connected to the internet can become a news-talk station of one.

In the last few days, I’ve decided to spend less time commenting (in fact very few tweets each evening) and more time reading what others were saying. I started to experience that sinking feeling you get when you sense something is going wrong, but are powerless to stop it. There were some very good tweets, with thought-provoking analysis and insights, on both side of the aisle. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority seemed to be involved in a contest to see who could be fastest with a smarmy, wry tweet full of hyperbolic vitriol. Very few were listening and even fewer could maintain a civil discourse. There was no conversation taking place. Both sides were entrenched, having painted themselves into their respective corners with such a wide gulf between, that both sides felt they needed to fire intercontinental ballistic insults in an effort to score a hit.

It was all about finding a GIF or a screen grab and rapidly making a meme to share. It was about crafting venomous retorts, full of bile with a hint of acerbic wit.  Sometimes the insults were moronic; others sophomoric. Some were full of utter hatred. Across the spectrum, emotions were running high and, for the most part, were ruling the day. Logic and reason were lost in the deafening white noise of nonsensical protestations.

A very good friend of mine has repeatedly stated that both candidates are equally unqualified. A new hashtag has begun to run — #NeverHillaryandNeverTrump. In fact, I am hearing from more and more who will not vote at all. Those who are thinking of voting have said, beyond finding a third party candidate or a write-in, their conscience will not allow themselves to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”

First, let me try to get you to think about this for a moment. This coming election cycle has candidates across the board: local elections, state-wide races, congressional races and the presidency. Though the presidential race bring out the masses, it’s the local races that have an immediate impact on our day-to-day lives. No matter what, you must vote! Do not stay home because of only one line on the overall ballot.

Second, I want to address this notion of “the lesser of two evils.” I am so tired of this hyperbole. It is an overused and ridiculous cliche. But, let us go with that, since so many buy into this platitude, hook, line and sinker. Is not another way of saying one person is less evil than another, is to say that one person is better than the other? After all, what makes one person “less” evil than another? It’s because one person has a little more good in them than the other? If that is the case, why can’t we turn it around and say you have to pick the best of the two options before you?

We are so mired in the negative that we now spend all of our energy literally trying to find something wrong with everything! We are quick to complain, slow to praise. We go out of our way to post lines and lines of angst and frustration on social media and rarely take a moment to spread joy and happiness. If you doubt me, just go through your feeds right now and take a quick tally of the posts in the last few hours? Unless all of your friends are crazy-cat-ladies, it will be easy to show how social media has become the conduit for negativity. We look for “perfect” candidates and then spend our time and energy looking for any misstep, flaw, problem or difference of opinion they may hold and then publish those failings (in our minds) to the masses online.

Let’s take this one step further. Let’s pretend we have convinced ourselves that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are so terrible, that neither one deserves our support. Are they both equally terrible? Do their poisonous spheres reach equally wide? Do their evil tendrils fill the same number of cracks and crevices? Are their villainous dispositions equally capable of corrupting the exact same number of hearts and minds?

Alternatively, does Hillary Clinton surround herself with the same kinds of people with which Donald Trump surrounds himself? Has Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments mirrored, precisely, those of Donald Trump’s? Of course not. Despite what Leftists wish, we are all individuals and thus are all unique.

So, if we believe in the uniqueness inherent within each of us, it becomes clear that even if someone isn’t your preferred choice, you can pick the better of the two. It isn’t about some self-imposed morality. The choices laid before us were a result of millions of shared voices. Just like the world really is not out to get you (being you are 1 of billions), the world is not out to hold you responsible for the presidency. The only way that holds any truth is if you are the only one who votes. To think your one vote is tantamount to 30 pieces of silver is to suffer from extreme delusions of grandeur.

Donald Trump was not even in my top 10. I kept waiting, like so many, for him to wash out with his many missteps and stupid comments. But, people are angry with career politicians and the corruption of big government. People are tired of sending fresh voices to change the direction of our nation only to see the hammer of special interests and powerful insiders crush the good out of people. Americans, by and large, are tired of being lied to, with one empty promise after another spewing mindlessly from the lips of our elected leaders. For years we’ve heard the rising cry for an outsider — someone with no connection to Washington, D.C. And, when that guy comes forth, warts and all, he wins more primary votes of any Republican in the modern era. That same “fly-over” country that we all defend from the elitists in the northeast and the left coast are the same ones who wanted Trump.

You cannot in one breath, talk about the collective wisdom of the common man in middle America, and then in the next, wail about them being misguided and fooled into selecting the wrong candidate. You do not get to move the goal posts because you are disappointed with the way the game is going. And the worst move you can make is to self-righteously proclaim you are so superior to everyone else that you are going to take your ball and go home under the guise of now being morally superior, all while abdicating your personal responsibility to do your civic duty.

The primaries were a chance for everyone to get in the pit, slinging as much mud as we could at each other, battling it out until one survivor remained. That was the time to bite, kick, punch, scream and rally forces to do battle. The smoke has now cleared and though we all have our various collective wounds, the internal fight has to end — for the sake of our nation.

I mentioned above that it is impossible to see both candidates as the same. One is better than the other, if only in the influence they will have on our body politic for years to come. I do not believe there is anyone who thinks Hillary Clinton will submit Constitutional conservatives to the Supreme Court. She will do all she can to infringe further on the 2nd Amendment. She will continue to explode our national debt. She will continue to shrink our armed forces, ignore the problems inherent with illegal immigration and open borders, allow more and more unfettered refugees from Islamic held territories into our country, expose our national secrets, will lie uncontrollably and will be able to be bought by the highest bidder. We all know this. This is not conjecture. This is fact. This is her track record and there is no indication she would act differently as Commander in Chief.

Is it possible that Donald Trump would nominate liberal judges to the Supreme Court? Yes, but seems less certain based on the list of names he said he would consider. Would he work to infringe upon or repeal the 2nd Amendment? He has repeatedly said he wants to protect it and is proud of being endorsed by the NRA. Will he explode the debt? Perhaps. He has mentioned a number of programs and initiatives, but he’s also said he wants to bring business back to America by lowering the corporate tax rate to 15%, making it one of the best rates in the industrialized world instead of one of the worst. As a businessman, he wants to win, so why would this be different as the CEO of the US economy? Trump has declared a need to rebuild and strengthen the armed services because he wants to restore law and order, both domestically and in terms of national defense. We know he wants to close the open southern border and fix illegal immigration. Is he lying? He wants to stop the influx of refugees from known terrorist strongholds. Will he pretend he never said that? Will he expose our national secrets? Will he lie uncontrollably? Will be be able to be bought by the highest bidder? I do not believe it, but only time will tell.

One final thought if you are still part of the #NeverTrump crowd (and was the subject of a prior piece I wrote last month), Congress is the check and balance against the power of the Executive Branch. Many of the initiatives President Obama has been allowed to push through are not because it was allowed by the Constitution, but because the Congress chose to abdicate their own responsibilities in keeping his overreach in check. Given the two possibilities facing us, which candidate would make it easier for Congress to fight future overreach? Would fear of being labeled misogynistic continue to have the same paralytic effect as being labeled racist has had?

I’ve heard many say they must stay true to their conscience, which will not allow them to vote for Donald Trump. At first glance, I understand from where that is coming. I would like to look at this, but from a different angle. I would prefer to ask, is allowing someone with Hillary’s known record, over Donald’s unknown, to ascend to the presidency, an act of good conscience? Based on the facts we all know, I would argue that it is far more objectionable to let Hillary win. Trump might be a horrible alternative, but when compared to what we know, to elect not to pull the lever for him is the real unconscionable act.