Sunday, February 19, 2017

If it’s an ‘enemy,’ why must press serve as Trump’s chump?

Questions to ask after one month of Trump:

-- Is Stephen Colbert our new Edward R. Murrow?

-- Is Stephen Miller a human or a hologram?

-- The same for Kellyanne Conway: real or Memorex?

-- If the media are, as Donald Trump says, enemies "of the American people," why are members of the press genuflecting at his knee? Why are they indulging him at all?

What would Ed Murrow say about Donald Trump? I promise you it would be curt.

In 1953, the CBS icon initiated Sen. Joseph McCarthy's fiery fall from eminence by assailing his "hysterical disregard for decency and human dignity."

Sixty-four years later, and on the same network, Stephen Colbert is taking on a president and his mouthpieces who show hysterical disregard for truth.

Take Stephen Miller, the aide Trump sent out to the Sunday news shows for one of the most bizarre televised performances in U.S. history.

I say "sent out." We cannot be sure whether Miller has actual legs, or was rolled out, or if he exists as a URL --built by computer scientists who have come up with what a lie looks like in human form.

Miller said that without a doubt thousands of voters from Massachusetts were bused into New Hampshire to vote illegally for Hillary Clinton. Uh, yeah.

He said he would go to "any show, anytime, anywhere" to say that.

Colbert invited him: "And, listen, if you don't show up, I'm going to call you a liar. And if you do show up, I'm going to call you a liar to your face."

Well, surprise; no-show Miller is a liar. The only real question is if he's a man or a humanoid projection.

Trump? He tweeted huzzahs for Miller's stone-faced fraud.

At any other time in our nation's history, such behavior instantly and irrevocably would have disqualified someone from public office. Not, apparently, now.

By the time the Trump presidency is done, lies will have become such a seasoning as to join salt and pepper on every dinner table.

At his Feb. 16 press conference, Trump said he'd won more electoral votes – 306 -- than any president since Reagan.

Informed by a reporter of President Obama's 365 votes in 2008 (not mentioned: Obama's 332 in 2012), Trump said he meant "Republican presidents." Informed by the same enemy, er, reporter, that George H.W. Bush won with 426, Trump said, um, he was working with numbers someone else gave him.

Ah, those fact-fixated enemies: When CNN, which Trump deems the devil, reported these matters online, it didn't say he lied. It said he had "again overstated." Go ahead, CNN. Say he lied, because he did.

To hear Trump explain the dumping of national security adviser Michael Flynn, it was not because of what Flynn did -- engaged in diplomacy on Trump's behalf before the latter took office – but because we found out about it.

Oh, wait; according to too many press accounts, Flynn was dumped because he misled Vice President Pence.

Except: Trump was told by intelligence 17 days before Flynn's ouster about these things. So if Pence was in the dark, it wasn't Flynn who put him there. Trump did it.

The scandal is not about an affront to Mike Pence's sensibilities. It's not about aides interacting with Russia. It's about whether Trump authorized it. Report this. Probe this.

MSNBC's "Morning Joe" says it no longer will indulge Trump mis-spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway, whose sole contribution to planetary life stands to be the term "alternative facts."

Such media resistance needs to happen more often.

A boycott of Trump press conferences is in order, as would be a walk-out the next time the prevaricator-in-chief reduces fact to factory fumes.

A lie is a lie -- a distinction that shouldn't be left up to late-night comedians.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Subpoena the man; put him under oath (UPDATED)

Revised for johnyoungcolumn nation to reflect events. . .


In July, Donald Trump said he'd never spoken to Vladimir Putin.

Sure, he hadn't. Except that in 2014 he said he had -- spoken with Putin "indirectly and directly" when in Russia on Miss Universe business.

Well, who you gonna believe? Donald Trump or Donald Trump?

We understand: Having had a talk with Putin could slip the mind of one so globally powerful as a civilian that, on the campaign trail, Trump's son Donald Jr. would say that the presidency would be a step down.

Still, this curious nugget of narrative involving Trump and Russia assumes more significance with each day.

What did he know? When did he know it? Richard Nixon said he knew nothing.

One lie. One presidency down the toilet.

At this point, Team Trump has delighted at batting truth around like a shuttlecock without penalty. Lying can be fun and come without political cost.

Fun and games, yes, but one subpoena – one – would empty this White House like a pizza delivered with anchovies and anthrax.

If we recall: In only a few instances did actual "high crimes" put Nixon's men behind bars and Nixon himself on a chopper out of town. What put them there was knowing and lying.

Until his stunning exit as national security adviser, Michael Flynn was pulling a Trump: saying one thing, then another.

Multiple sources confirmed for the Washington Post that before Trump was employed by you and me, Flynn, via phone, told Ambassador Sergei Kislyak that the Trump administration would relieve Russia of those pesky sanctions imposed by President Obama over Russia's meddling in our election.

Nyet to worry.

When questions first arose, Flynn said he never said any such thing. Then he said he couldn't recall. It's a meaty thing to slip one's mind, sort of like what Trump said in July about interacting with Putin.

The issue behind L'affaire Flynn is the Logan Act, which forbids civilians from doing foreign policy.

If the law was violated by Team Trump, it would be stunningly Nixonian, and so Trumpian. In 1968, before taking office as president, Nixon contacted South Vietnam's government to head off any last-minute peace agreement by the Johnson administration.

Having broken the law, Nixon's presidency should have ended before it began.

Trump's presidency is a month old, and already there are enough plausible concerns of high crimes involving Russia to rev up the helicopter.

Trump's glowing statements about Putin, his smirking dismissal of what the CIA labeled "an influence campaign . . . to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process" say more than words ever could, even if we could trust a word he utters.

Oh, and Flynn didn't phone Russia just once.  Reuters reports he called Kislyak five times the day of the sanctions.

What did Trump know? "Plausible deniability" was a catch phrase from Iran-Contra, a scandal that put a batch of Republican schemers in prison for waging a secret war and financing it in part by selling arms to a terrorist nation. The deniability was the sculpting of operations to insulate President Reagan from knowingly illegal deeds.

Flynn is out, and Trump is insulated? Trump's front men are trying to do that. They say that whatever Flynn might have done, Trump knew nothing.

Subpoena them. Hands on the Bible for the second time in a few days. Subpoena those tax records first.

Team Trump would have us believe that Flynn was a lone wolf. That seems quite implausible.

By the way, though Trump apparently can't recall having met with Putin, the fact is that Flynn, after he was fired as Obama's head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, flew to Russia and, according to NPR, appeared on Russia's state-run propaganda arm, RT.

Citizens, insist on the truth. What was the pre-election relationship between Trump and Putin? We won't get the truth without subpoenas. Sen. McCain, duty calls.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

Subpoena the man; put him under oath

In July, Donald Trump said he'd never spoken to Vladimir Putin.

Sure, he hadn't. Except that in 2014 he said he had -- spoken with Putin "indirectly and directly" when in Russia on Miss Universe business.

Well, who you gonna believe? Donald Trump or Donald Trump?

We understand: Having had a talk with Putin could slip the mind of one so globally powerful as a civilian that, on the campaign trail, Trump's son Donald Jr. would say that the presidency would be a step down.

Still, this curious nugget of narrative involving Trump and Russia assumes more significance with each day.

What did he know? When did he know it? Richard Nixon said he knew nothing.

One lie. One presidency down the toilet.

At this point, Team Trump has delighted at batting truth around like a shuttlecock without penalty. Lying can be fun and come without political cost.

Fun and games, yes, but one subpoena – one – would empty this White House like a pizza delivered with anchovies and anthrax.

If we recall: In only a few instances did actual "high crimes" put Nixon's men behind bars and Nixon himself on a chopper out of town. What put them there was knowing and lying.

Right now National Security Adviser Mike Flynn is pulling a Trump: saying one thing, then another.

Multiple sources confirmed for the Washington Post that before Trump was employed by you and me, Flynn, via phone, told Ambassador Sergei Kislyak that the Trump administration would relieve Russia of those pesky sanctions imposed by President Obama over Russia's meddling in our election.

Nyet to worry.

Now, who you gonna believe? First, Flynn said he never said that. Now he says he can't recall. It's a meaty thing to slip one's mind, since it's a crime.

If he did it, he broke the Logan Act, which forbids civilians from doing foreign policy.

If true, it would be stunningly Nixonian. In 1968, before taking office as president, Nixon contacted South Vietnam's government to head off any last-minute peace agreement by the Johnson administration.

Having broken the law, Nixon's presidency should have ended before it began.

Trump's presidency is a month old, and already there are enough plausible concerns of high crimes involving Russia to rev up the helicopter.

Trump's glowing statements about Putin, his smirking dismissal of what the CIA labeled "an influence campaign . . . to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process" say more than words ever could, even if we could trust a word he utters.

Oh, and Flynn didn't phone Russia just once.  Reuters reports he called Kislyak five times the day of the sanctions.

What did Trump know? "Plausible deniability" was a catch phrase from Iran-Contra, a scandal that put a batch of Republican schemers in prison for waging a secret war and financing it in part by selling arms to a terrorist nation. The deniability was the sculpting of operations to insulate President Reagan from knowingly illegal deeds.

Right now Trump's front men are trying to insulate. They say that whatever Flynn might have done, Trump knew nothing.

Subpoena them. Hands on the Bible for the second time in a few days. Subpoena those tax records first.

Team Trump would have us believe that Flynn was a lone wolf. That seems quite implausible.

By the way, though Trump apparently can't recall having met with Putin, the fact is that Flynn, after he was fired as Obama's head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, flew to Russia and, according to NPR, appeared on Russia's state-run propaganda arm, RT.

Citizens, insist on the truth. What was the pre-election relationship between Trump and Putin? We won't get the truth without subpoenas. Sen. McCain, duty calls.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.