You can’t bash Trump about everything, and you shouldn’t even try

All Americans of conscience should speak out against President Donald Trump when they sincerely feel he is acting against the best interests of the United States, at home or abroad. For that matter, every president, no matter who he is or what party he belongs to, should be opposed when people think they are in the wrong.

In 1918, President Teddy Roosevelt famously wrote that, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else.”

But people should be careful they don’t become too frequently-critical of Trump. If you make an issue out of everything a president does, the people you’re trying to convince may start to see you as just, to borrow one of the dumber colloquialisms of the 21st Century, a hater. Then, people might stop listening to you altogether. And, when it really matters, your criticism might fall on deaf ears. Think of it as the boy who cried orange wolf.

As my editor is fond of saying, “Save your powder for when you really need it.”

When Trump tweeted on April 21 that Sylvester Stallone had asked him to pardon late African American boxer Jack Johnson, who was basically railroaded by racist authorities, someone in a left-leaning political discussion group wrote, “Next he’ll be pardoning Benedict Arnold, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.”

When it comes to Trump, if there’s one issue to “save your powder” on, the potential pardoning of a black man convicted because of white racists is probably it. Bringing up people, like Lee and Davis, who actually did something wrong also doesn’t help your criticism. It makes you look like you’re willing to employ any comparison, no matter how silly, to criticizes Trump.

In 1912, Johnson, who was the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world, was arrested on the charge that he violated the Mann Act – which forbid individuals from transporting women across state lines for “immoral purposes.”

The Nation writer Dave Zirin also criticized Trump and the notion that he should be the one to pardon the boxer. “Yet what is even more repellent today is the thought that Donald Trump would be the one to “pardon” Johnson. First and foremost, a “pardon” means that Johnson did something wrong and that guilt must be acknowledged.”

Zirin gives off a very strong odor of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. How would liberals have reacted to news of Stallone asking for a pardon for Johnson and Trump ignoring him? Fair or not, liberals would have claimed it was another example of how Trump is racist.

Trump’s strongest bastion of media-support, Breitbart, event held up Zirin as an example of anti-Trump liberal rage. Zirin played right into that narrative.

There is and, sadly, there will be plenty more to go after Trump on. But, picking your battles and only criticizing Trump when it really matters might make the difference between being heard or being drowned out by your own noise.


Advancements in technology mean we all have to become even more skeptical

Jordan Peele, star of Comedy Central’s “Key and Peele” and the Oscar-winning director of “Get Out,” gave America a glimpse of the future that was both terrifying and hilarious at the same time.

In a video released April 17, President Barack Obama appeared to say, among other things, that “President Donald Trump is a total and compete dipshit.” But appeared is the key word. The video was a total fabrication. It was made by Peele to highlight the growing danger, to borrow a term the current president uses quite often, of “fake news” and propaganda.

“It may sound basic, but how we move forward in the age of information is going to be the difference between whether we survive or whether we become some kind of fucked up dystopia,” said Peele as Obama in the voiceover.

According to The Verge, “The video was made by Peele’s production company using a combination of old and new technology: Adobe After Effects and the AI face-swapping tool FakeApp.” If you look closely at Obama’s mouth, you can see the distortions that came from the digital manipulation. This technology is still at a point where you can tell it’s fake. But, in a few years, as Peele says, we’re all going to have to be even more careful about what we trust.

This technology, if it continues to be developed, which there’s no reason to think it won’t be, has grave implications for the ability of the public to tell what’s real and what isn’t. And, given the terrible track record of Americans as a whole to sift through what’s real and what isn’t, video has the potential to completely fool huge segments of the electorate into believing things that are simply not true.

Just like the real audio of Trump’s Access Hollywood tape caused a lot of damage to Trump’s campaign, a fake video of a future political candidate could have the same consequences. There’s also the possibility that a politician caught on video saying something controversial could claim it’s fake and use the accusation to escape the consequences of his actions.

Unfortunately, “fake news” is an epidemic that doesn’t discriminate. Like a real disease, political party doesn’t matter. Democrats, Republicans, and independents have all believed incorrect information and shared it with their friends and family on social media.

In February, scores of liberals shared a fake tweet that made it appear Trump talked about the “Dow Joans” and stated, “If the Dow Joans ever falls more than 1000 ‘points’ in a Single Day the sitting president should be ‘loaded’ into a very big cannon and Shot into the sun at TREMENDOUS SPEED! No excuses!”

If the American experiment is going to survive, Americans, as a whole, are going to have to become a lot more skeptical about what we read, hear, and see. As Hunter S. Thompson said, “In a democracy, you have to be a player.” Was he talking about “fake news”? I doubt it. But, in today’s democracy, being a player means being good at not letting false information influence your vote.

Barbra Bush

Farewell to Barbara Bush and the era of the uncontroversial first lady

Even though she died on April 17, Barbara Bush is still a symbol of a time when the first lady of the United States of America could choose a cause and not have people from the party opposite her husband, the president, try and tear it down.

While she was first lady from 1989 to 1993, Bush chose family literacy as her signature cause.
According to CNN, “In 1991, she helped pass the National Literacy Act, which focused on teaching millions of American adults to read. The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy still aims to keep her work going.

“The American Dream is about equal opportunity for everyone who works hard. If we don’t give everyone the ability to simply read and write, then we aren’t giving everyone an equal chance to succeed,” said Bush in 1992. Pretty uncontroversial, right? Well, the rest of country agreed with her. Teaching people to read was a no brainer. Everyone was on board. Just like everyone was on board with the causes of first ladies before her.

All that changed when Hillary Clinton became first lady.

Clinton chose expanding health care as her cause. Her efforts were widely opposed and heavily criticized by Republicans. To be fair, they were against the legislation Clinton championed and they had every right to criticize something they viewed as wrong for the country. But it still marked the end to uncontroversial first lady platforms.

There was a bit of a reprieve when Laura Bush was first lady from 2001 to 2009. Her cause was education reform and, calling back to Barbara Bush’s time as first lady, literacy. But while liberals made jokes about teaching her husband, George W. Bush, to read, no one really had a problem with what Laura Bush was trying to do – give children a better education.

Then, Michelle Obama became first lady in 2009, and, suddenly, helping children had become a liberal conspiracy.

With her “Let’s Move” campaign, Obama wanted to see healthier children and proposed such radical ideas as: adults and children shouldn’t eat at McDonald’s every day, and people should exercise more.

And while there was nothing wrong with some of the criticism which centered on the effectiveness of the campaign, many conservatives accused Obama of “big government” and trying to force certain lifestyle choices upon the country. According to the L.A. Times, some conservatives even blamed Obama’s call to exercise more on an increase in pedestrian deaths.

Now, with Melania Trump in office, there is criticism of the current first lady’s anti-bullying campaign. But it mostly stems from people accusing her of not calling out the bullying her husband, Donald Trump, has engaged in. But, so far, no one has really voiced opposition to the program itself. Everyone is against bullying.

But even with temporary lulls in these first lady battles, it’s very unlikely America’s future first ladies will ever enjoy the kind of near universal approval that Barbara Bush and her predecessors enjoyed.

media doesn't tell you

“The media won’t talk about that” . . . So how do you know about it?

There’s a common criticism of the media that it doesn’t cover certain issues. It’s a favorite refrain these days, especially among President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Trump regularly accuses the media of downplaying his rally crowd sizes. “They don’t show the crowd. They show me,” Trump told a crowd in Alabama in September of 2017. As he made that go to accusation, which is about as common as his promise to make Mexico pay for the wall, CNN had a split screen of Trump and the crowd at the rally.

Then, there’s the economy.

Trump regularly touts job numbers, the unemployment level, and other positive economic news. He often accuses the media of not publicizing the numbers being released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Trump’s Republican supporters also take the media to task for their incorrect perception that it’s not giving the American people the facts. It’s a charge Republicans invented long before Trump was elected, but one they’ve perfected under him.

Not long after Trump was sworn-in, Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, in a speech where he said everyone should “get their news directly from the president,” touted the consumer confidence level being at a 16-year high.

“The national liberal media won’t print that, or air it, or post it,” said Lamar. In actuality, the news outlets people like Lamar accuse as being “liberal” – the New York Times, Washington Post, and others – do regularly report on economic data, even if it is to the political benefit of Trump.


The hypocrisy of “shut up” culture

Hypocrisy isn’t the monopolized venue of one party or ideology. Everyone is a hypocrite at least once in the course of getting on their political soapbox. At some point, even this website will probably experience at least one hypocritical moment.

But certain people, on certain issues, are way more hypocritical than others.

There is, perhaps, no greater example of hypocrisy in modern America than when conservatives tell liberal celebrities to “shut up about politics” one day and openly cheer on conservative celebrities the next day.

Clint Eastwood speaking at the Republican National Convention in 2012. Scott Baio speaking at the Republican National Convention in 2016. Antonio Sabato Jr., who also spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2016 and is now running for Congress. Donald Trump, who was a celebrity long before he decided to become president. (To be fair, Trump was a businessman before becoming a celebrity. But his celebrity status revived the interest the media and others had in his political opinions.) And, of course, there’s Ted Nugent, who bragged about being a draft dodger but still considers himself an expert on which party is strongest on national defense. Conservatives seem always ready and willing to oblige him on it.

But it’s indisputable: conservatives love when celebrities speak up . . . as long as the celebrity in question is anti-liberal. Even some conservative celebrities love to give their own opinions while telling other celebrities that celebrities should shut up. Gene Simmons of Kiss exceeds at this logic-torturing device.

It’s not even confined to issues that are liberal or conservative. A friend of mine posted an article for the new HBO adaption of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” The title of the article was “Michael B. Jordan questions book burning in ‘Fahrenheit 451’ trailer.”

Seems like everyone in America would be fine with anyone questioning book burning, right? But that would be a wrong assumption, apparently. One of my friend’s Facebook friends wrote, “Who the fuck cares about what he questions? Actors are some of the most uneducated and ignorante [his spelling] people around empowered only by the attention we give them.” It’s not even something Jordan actually said. It was the headline of the story.

I don’t know this person’s political beliefs, but just seeing that a celebrity was involved in something vaguely political was enough to get him mad about who should and who shouldn’t be throwing around opinions, even on what should be a non-political issue such as book burning.

There’s nothing wrong with thinking liberal celebrities don’t know what they’re talking about. Everyone is entitled to argue and disagree. Just try not to be intellectually dishonest and say that celebrities should shut up when it’s really only liberal celebrities you don’t want to listen to.


Trump isn’t president because of Facebook

Facebook certainly has a lot to atone for. Not least, of which, are the data and privacy issues surrounding Cambridge Analytica and other third-party apps. It’s the latest problem for the social media giant, which has been blamed for allowing “fake news” to spread across the country and help elect Donald Trump president.

But Donald Trump wasn’t elected because of Facebook or any other social media platform. He was elected because many people have stopped questioning what they see if it reinforces what they already believe.

As cartoonist Walt Kelly famously said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” But the us isn’t just conservatives and Trump supporters believing whatever fits their favorite narrative. Liberals and other non-conservatives are also regularly fooled by “fake news.” This isn’t a political problem. This is a human problem. People have stopped being skeptical and care more about scoring points for their side than getting at the truth.

A fake picture of Trump without his hand over his heart during the National Anthem was automatically shared by many Clinton voters who didn’t bother to do any research to see if it was a real photo. A fake story about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor was automatically shared by many Trump voters who also failed to question it. Obviously, the latter is much more egregious and dangerous to our country, but all lies are corrosive to at least some degree. It’s up to us, not Facebook, to determine what is true and what isn’t.

“Fake news” can’t vote. Photoshop can’t run for governor. Russian troll farms in Eastern Europe aren’t represented in Congress. These people who lie to us only have as much power as we give them.

Facebook is a huge social media platform. But, at the end of the day, it’s really a tool. And, like all tools, the user decides how to utilize it.


What journalist Edward. R. Murrow said over 60 years ago about television can just as easily be applied to social media and the internet today. “[It] can teach. It can illuminate. It can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it toward those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.”


Judge Judy jumps into pay gap debate

Judy Sheindlin, better known as Judge Judy, weighed into the pay gap debate when she was interviewed by TMZ on April 10.

According to Yahoo Lifestyle, a judge decided Sheindlin’s annual $47 million salary was justified. In a YouTube video posted by TMZ, Sheindlin was asked how she felt after winning the court case.

“We never question what guys earn,” she responded.

Somewhere, there’s an overpaid male professional athlete wishing it were true. They’re probably tired of hearing other people call them overpaid.

The debate about professional athletes being overpaid has been around for decades and shows no sign of slowing down. It’s something everyone, even people who don’t even really pay attention to sports, has an opinion on.

And, as the primary consumers of sports as entertainment, no one complains more about professional male athletes being overpaid more than men. Men griping about what professional athletes make is almost as old as professional sports itsself. There was probably even a guy from the South Side of Chicago complaining about the salaries of the 1919 White Sox right before they were caught throwing the World Series (the Black Sox were paid today’s equivalent of $40,000. A salary any working-class American would have been more than happy to take at the time).

There’s an entire Forbes article from 2009 just on baseball’s most overpaid players. Do a Google search and you’ll find a virtually unlimited number of website postings dedicated to the same debate.

Women being paid less than men is a serious issue in our society. But Judge Judy isn’t really a part of that problem. She doesn’t have male co-stars to worry about being paid more than her. She is the show. She is the product. As long as she keeps brining in the ratings, she is always going to be paid millions. Just like pro-athletes.

Thankfully, for her, she seems to be picking up the slack when it comes to women being underpaid.


The new “Roseanne” is Hollywood’s greatest punking of red state America

Trump voters are in love with a liberal stalwart who is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. And she isn’t even real.

When it premiered to huge ratings in March, Trump voters saw “Roseanne” as a show finally dedicated to their point of view. In it, “Roseanne” gets into a testy debate with her sister, Jackie, about voting for Trump. “He talked about jobs, Jackie” yells Roseanne.

But that’s where the shared values end.

The “Roseanne” of 2018 seems to be the exact same character she was when the show ended 20 years before – a feminist who was accepting of the LGBT community as one that should be allowed to thrive next to their heterosexual neighbors, pro-choice, against tax cuts for corporations, and pro-union.

In the new “Roseanne,” one episode has the family’s matriarch accepting and supportive of her the choice by her grandson, Mark, to wear clothing made for girls. In fact, the whole family is very liberal in this and most other ways. The only hesitation not to let Mark wear what he wants is the fear he will get picked-on and bullied because of his decision. Otherwise, everyone is basically fine with it.

So, in essence, you have a show that purports to be pro-Trump, but, in reality, is really a vehicle for liberal and anti-conservative/republican values. Millions of Trump voters who are tuning in to see someone validate their choice, will instead find a show that tells them most of their values are wrong.

“Roseanne” is a Trump supporter, not because she agreed with Trump’s moral positions. She was a Trump voter because of her family’s less than perfect economic situation. In one episode, she and Dan trade different types of medication – an illustration of how they can’t afford full medical coverage.

“Roseanne” is a Trump supporter because she felt she had no choice. Her vote was an act of economic desperation – not an affirmation that someone in Hollywood shares any real ideological connection with someone in red state America.

Polls Image

The only polls that matter are the ones tallied up in the voting booth

Polls are a means of gauging how the public feels at a given moment about a given topic. They’re great at measuring progress on public sentiment regarding different issues (the polls about gay marriage slowly grew in favor of allowing it).

But that’s also their biggest flaw – they’re only good for the here and now, especially when it comes to the popularity of political figures.

President Donald Trump is the latest example of this.

Trump’s critics love pointing to his low poll approval ratings. But these polls aren’t really meaningful. It’s over two years until the 2020 presidential election. In terms of politics and polling, that’s not just a lifetime. That’s hundreds of lifetimes.

Yes, Trump’s approval rating isn’t ideal. But there is simply too much time left before 2020 for it to matter right now. He has plenty of time to improve his poll numbers significantly. In fact, at the same point of their presidencies (14 months after they were elected) Obama and Trump had the exact same approval rating (44 percent), according to Rasmussen. Obama went on to get re-elected in 2012 with 332 Electoral College votes and 51 percent of the popular vote.

It also works in reverse.

In February of 1991 at the end of the Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush had an approval rating of 89 percent. But 18 months later, he lost his bid for re-election.

Remember that the next time you think a poll today has any bearing on an election tomorrow.


Friends don’t let friends tweet without Google

By Editorial Staff

Google is your friend. If it’s on the internet, Google will find it. It won’t even ask you for anything in return. It’s like “The Giving Tree,” except, it never runs out of things to give. It’s that good a friend. And, just like any good friend, it can also save you from embarrassment.

Nicole Arbour could have used such a friend. In early March, she posted on Twitter “Just a reminder that obesity kills waaaaaayyyy more people than gun violence but there’s still no March to end it. Which ironically would very literally help end it.”

Anyone who takes two seconds to Google “obesity walk” will find the website of Walk from Obesity ( an organization dedicated to promoting physical exercise and lowering obesity rates.

So, unless you want to be like Nicole, remember your friend, Google