In-Consensus

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A few things I need to get out of the way.  CNN isn’t fake news.  But for that matter, Fox News isn’t either.  Don’t get me wrong.  Fox News is heavily slanted, and some of it’s “journalists”  (Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Laura Ingraham, etc.) manipulate facts and data to support unrealistic conclusions, but it’s not “fake” news.  Both networks have actual journalists, and (usually) report on the important stories of the day.  But both networks have their slant.  Fox News’ is arguably steeper, going extremely conservative, while CNN can boast a bit more balance, and is better about retracting false or misleading stories.  But they both DO report the actual news (mostly).  So how are they capable of covering the exact same story and drawing the exact opposite conclusion? It’s ludicrous and can be totally infuriating.  I like to think that I’m a moderate that leans left.  It’s an admittedly pretty dramatic lean, but I don’t think my political views don’t stray too far away from the center.  And as such I want to find as many perspectives on the news as I can find.  But when I hear CNN and Fox News explain to me the exact same story with drastically different outcomes, I realize why it’s so easy for Trump to lie about the media and get away with it.

Double Un-Standard

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Remember when Trump railed on people for invoking the 5th Amendment right against self incrimination when it had to do with Hillary Clinton?  It was a maneuver that only criminals and mob members did?  Why invoke it if you have nothing to hide? Right Donald?  So of course he sticks to his guns when that pendulum of self preservation swings back his way!

Of course not!

When Roger Stone plead the 5th in regards to the investigation into Trump’s potential collusion with a hostile foreign power, you can bet your but that not only was he in favor of the 5th Amendment, but he went on Twitter to declare the man a national hero!

 

Quit Breaking the Law!

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You know, there are people who actually believe Donald Trump when he calls himself a genius, and I have to point to his Twitter account and ask “Seriously?’  Even if you believe he penned “the Art of the Deal” (he didn’t) and is a master dealmaker (he isn’t), any and all of that is negated by verbal equivalent of garbage he spews on Twitter.  I’m not talking about the offensive stuff, either.  I’m talking about the outright dumb things he says and admits to.  Like, he’ll claim he didn’t collude with Russia during the election, but then suggest that even if he did, it wouldn’t be a crime.  And while you might argue that such a statement isn’t a direct admission of guilt, I’ll give that to you, if only because he doesn’t just use Twitter to admit crimes, but seemingly also to commit them.  As it turns out, publicly praising someone for not ratting on you looks an awful lot like, and can be pretty easily interpreted as witness tampering.  Similarly, publicly calling for an end to an investigation, directed at people under your employ, into your potential crimes could easily be read as trying to obstruct a criminal case.  Let me assure you, this isn’t brilliant posturing.  If anything it’s admissible evidence on the public record.

Starcrossed

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Donald Trump’s attitude towards Kim Jong Un is starting to get remarkably unsettling.  It was unusual when he defended the behavior and overall personality of Kim.  It was gross to hear him say that they “fell in love”, and it’s downright disturbing that he’s passing notes through the South Korean president with a message that says he’s ready to “fulfil his wishes”.  That’s…a weird thing to say to anyone, much less a hostile foreign power.  I mean, what’s next between those two?  How much weirder will it get when they meet again?  It get’s more worrying still when you consider that Kim isn’t fulfilling any of his promises.  He’s still moving forward with his nuclear programs, still firing off test missiles.  So what exactly is the win here?  That Trump has a new boy crush?  It feels like everyone is losing out here…

The Popular Kids

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The G20 summit happened over the weekend, the international economic convention between member nations, and if you asked Donald Trump, he was the shining master of amazing, all closing deals, kickin’ butt and taking names.  In fact, for those that did ask Donald Trump, that’s basically exactly as he characterized it.  What that mostly means for the rest of us, is that Trump didn’t royally screw anything up, avoided any major snafus (I mean, you still had fun little moments like him saying “Get me out of here!” to an aid over a hot mic, after shaking hands with the leader of Argentina), and was treated like the annoying kid that all the other kids humored so they wouldn’t get yelled at by their parents.  That’s not to say Trump didn’t get anything done.  He apparently got the new NAFTA deal signed, and pretended to reach ceasefire in our trade war with China, but make no mistake.  These aren’t great victories, especially the landmark, remembered for all time kind of wins that Trump is claiming they are.  They are steps toward backtracking some of the biggest mistakes Trump made out of the gate.  And honestly, I would be far more impressed with his performance at the G20 if he would’ve been able to admit that his victories are only victories insofar as he was cleaning up problems that he made in the first place.  Regardless, one thing is for certain, Donald Trump isn’t the admired cool kid of the world stage that he pretends to be, and we all know it.

Brave Boy

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The last week has felt like we’re finally starting to see what momentum in this long, contentious Russian Investigation really looks like.  Within 2 days, 4 Trump cronies (Roger Stone, Jerome Corsi, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen) have been called out by Mueller for lying to investigators and/or Congress.  Of those 4 cronies, 3 of them have joint defense agreements with Trump, meaning their lawyers are being given slight latitude in communicating with each other.  Now, in the days following Trump’s submission of written answers to Mueller’s questions regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election (though apparently questions regarding obstruction of justice were not allowed), Mueller seems have his ducks in a row, and is finally starting to make moves.  And now we see if Mueller is really playing chess against a bunch of checkers players.

Mexican Standoff

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So, Donald Trump is once again threatening to go to war with the Democrats should they seek to investigate him come January, which is for 1: Super shady (I mean, how guilty does someone look when you threaten retaliation for just looking around and asking questions), and for 2: Weird.  I say weird because he’s threatening to declassify damaging information about the Dems, but if he has such damaging information, why wouldn’t he just go ahead and declassify it?  I mean, he takes every opportunity to call the Dems criminals and monsters who want to destroy the country, if he had actual evidence to support that allegation or just something to make them look as bad as he wants them to look, I’d think he’d jump at the opportunity to make it public.  There isn’t a person alive who could convince me that he’s just being discreet, or that Trump weighs broader implications of such an action, because of COURSE HE DOESN’T.  He keeps trying to find ways to accuse his political rivals of treason! Trump doesn’t want balance, he wants an uncontested narrative. So yeah, not convinced he has some bombshell documents that will dismantle the Democrats.  The fact that Democrats don’t seem even remotely unsettled, unlike Trump, who seems near constantly unsettled, also speaks to that hypothesis.

Trust the Gut

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Conservatives like to talk about all the things they’re at war with.  They’re warring over Christmas because they don’t like people saying Happy Holidays to cater to every denomination that has a holiday around the Winter Solstice.  They’re warring over rainbows, because it’s just so dang unfair that the gays somehow stole it (even though there is no reason whatsoever that anyone for any reason can’t utilize rainbows as a design for any reason they want).  And yet they don’t make a peep over an actual ideological war that Americans every day have to deal with: The War on Truth.  I mean, I imagine that it’s largely because Conservatives are the ones benefitting from it.  I mean, the “War on Christmas” and the “War for Rainbows” is largely a symptom of the War on Truth.  Nailing the cause is a bit more difficult, but I’m willing to bet a good place to start is this idea of “feelings over facts”.  Intellectualism and Data being proudly dismissed in favor of what feels better.  It doesn’t “feel” great to think that our evolving civilization will end up being responsible for it’s own extinction because of the way we’ve altered the earth’s climate.  But it’s the truth. It doesn’t “feel” great that the wealthy, white men have created a culture that disadvantages anyone who isn’t exactly all 3 of those things.  But again, it’s true.  And the thing is, the people who prefer to trust their feelings (those undefinable, but always correct gut instincts) over provable, observable logic, are proud of that stance.  They are proud to dismiss what is true in favor of what is comfortable.  And let me tell you, that doesn’t make America great.  It makes us fools.  When our President can proudly declare “I have a gut and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me,”  then we have a real problem.  I don’t know if that is the root of the problem, but it’s somewhere close.

Truer News

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Donald Trump is once again floating the idea of creating his own, government sponsored news outlet, to combat the “fake news”.  If that sounds a little dictator-y, then you probably have heard of any fascist regime ever.  Because a state controlled news platform is basically step two in becoming a brutal dictator.  There is nothing wrong with a government helping to fund independent news.  The BBC is one of the most respected news organizations in the world, and it exists because of government funding, but the British government doesn’t run it or get to tell them what to say.  Because when the Government begins reporting the news, it stops being the news, and starts being propaganda.  And I’m sorry, but Donald Trump can’t speak for 30 seconds without lying, and as such, I would have trouble taking serious any “news” he put his rubber stamp on.  I don’t know if Trump will actually go through with trying to create some kind of rival news network to sell his narrative against the largely accurate news organizations that Trump hates, but I do look forward to the day when we get a President who doesn’t challenge the credibility of legitimate news organizations on a daily basis.

Buying Loyalty

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Donald Trump’s wholesale support of Mohammed Bin Salman and his involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is disturbing and wrong, and for more reasons than him taking the word of a potential hostile foreign power over his own intelligence which has categorically concluded that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia was directly involved with the order.  I mean don’t get me wrong, that is bad.  But considering his dismissal of his intelligence officials in the past, especially regarding the Kremlin’s interference into the 2016 election.  So that part, while awful and discouraging, is less than surprising.  It’s only when you take a closer look into Trump’s logic of sticking by the Saudis does this whole thing start feeling more gross.  So, Trump says that he doesn’t want to ruin potentially lucrative deals between the US and Saudi Arabia.  He cites a “$110 billion arms deal” and falling gas prices as important factors in his decision to side with them.  But even if it were acceptable to worry about business dealings over human rights violations (it isn’t), the logic doesn’t hold up on closer inspection.  Seriously, think about it.  His $110 billion arms deal is mostly a fiction.  While I suppose there is a potential for that kind of purchase, deals like these have been made many times over the years, often leading to only a fraction of the sales negotiated.  At this point, Saudi Arabia has only purchased about 10% of the $110 billion they might buy.  Also, the “falling gas prices”?  Still worse than they were even 2 years ago.  Trump is lying to prop up business deals which are by his own measure of success, bad.  So why would Trump go to bat for the Royal Family?  Well, I can’t say for sure.  It could be he is just genuinely friendly with them, likes them and wants to protect them, but I would wager it might have something to do with all the things they buy from Trump.  He’s sold them apartments, and even an whole floor of the Trump Tower in New York.  They stay at his hotels, they bought a yacht from him in the 90s.  Make no mistake, they have invested in Trump’s own personal wealth to a substantial degree.  And if that’s what it takes to avoid rebuke on a political level, then I hope no one starts suggesting to Kim Jong Un that he goes apartment hunting with Trump any time soon.