Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Donald Trump and "Fake News"

Whenever Donald Trump is criticized, he lashes out in retaliation. When he is criticized in the media in any way, or caught out in one of his many, many lies, he responds by labeling it "fake news." What is sad is that many Americans evidently believe Trump when he suggests that the media are wrong (or maliciously lying about him, etc.). A recent poll indicates that 46% of Americans believe Trump's accusations of "fake news" coming from the media.

Manipulating or discrediting the news media is nothing new. In the administration of Richard Nixon, Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew, was evidently charged with the task or attacking the media. He was part of the program to defuse criticism of Nixon, who famously said "I am not a crook." Ironically, not only was Nixon proved to be a crook (or at least a liar, who wrongly denied his involvement in the infamous Watergate scandal), but Agnew was also a crook, who had to resign the vice presidency amidst evidence that he accepted bribes when he was governor of Maryland.

And Franklin Roosevelt, reportedly, was masterful in manipulating the media.

I submit that when the media is wrong, it usually is because they were fed incorrect information by the White House or the Pentagon. This became apparent during the Vietnam War, when the public was misled, many times, because the media were lied to by the government.

A free press is vital to a democracy, and it's important that citizens be able to trust the media. It does not help that cause when the President systematically attempts to discredit them with his accusations of "fake news." I think the public should be more inclined to believe the media than Mr. Trump.

It's getting off the subject, but mentioning Spiro Agnew and the Nixon administration suggests this thought to me: When there are crooks in a government (as Agnew in the Nixon Administration), should the President be guilty by association? That proved to be the case with Agnew and Nixon. Now, with scandals in the Trump administration--several of his nominees for government positions withdrawing because of adverse news, and at least five of Trump's appointees being accused of taking trips on private and luxury flights, thus incurring unnecessary expense to taxpayers--we need to ask ourselves whether this casts any pall on Trump himself. Will we believe him when he tells us, "I am not a crook," as Nixon did?

Copyright © 2017.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Tired of Hearing about Mass Shootings

I am really, really tired of blogging about the problem of gun violence in America. Of course it's much more strain, pain, etc., for those whom it has touched more directly.

Let me simply say, once more and maybe for the last time, that I cannot understand how anybody (e.g., the NRA and Republican congressmen and senators) cannot see, or refuse to admit, that there should not be such easy access to assault weapons as we have in the US. It's just ridiculous. In Great Britain it is not permitted to own guns, period.

Copyright (c) 2017.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trump's (Latest) Unwise Words

Today, Donald Trump, in a speech before the United Nations, referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as "Rocket Man."

According to the protocols of international diplomacy, one national leader does not publicly disrespect another national leader in that way. It just is not done.

Plus, make him angry enough and Kim might just send one of his nuclear missiles our way.

Trump's handlers need to keep him under better control.

I am not a Twitter user so please, anyone who reads this and agrees with me, please send a tweet to @realDonaldTrump.

Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled and scan the sky for a North Korean ICBM.

Copyright © 2017.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Christians and Muslims, Historically

At one time there were Islamic societies which led the world in their arts and sciences: notably mathematics and astronomy but also medicine, architecture, philosophy, and poetry. We owe to Muslims (and the Christian Byzantines) the preservation of much of the literature and knowledge of the ancient Greeks. By comparison, the Christian West was generally backward, and I am sure that the Muslims regarded it as even barbarian.

So how and why did the Islamic civilizations decline? I am not a historian but from what I do know, I think I can say this with hopefully only slight inaccuracy: wars with the Christians were a big factor.

In Spain, where there was quite a glorious Islamic civilization, with advanced medicine as well as philosophy and other arts and sciences--and, incidentally, generally remarkable tolerance of non-Muslims (Christians and Jews)--centuries of war (the so-called Reconquista or reconquest by Christian Spanish kingdoms) culminated in 1492 with the fall of Granada and thus the ending of the last Islamic kingdom in Spain. (In 1492, no coincidentally, Spain's Jews were expelled; the Muslims were granted tolerance but that promise lasted only some 30 years.)

In the Middle East, where notable Islamic civilizations centered on Baghdad and Persia, there similarly were several centuries of wars between Christians and Muslims, centering on the Crusades, which supposedly had the aim of recapturing Jerusalem for Christians but which caused enormous killing and destruction over a larger area. Wars between Christian states and Muslim powers lasted at least until the eighteenth century.

The last of the Muslim temporal kingdoms--and this is starting to get off the subject--was the Ottoman Empire, which had absorbed the Byzantine Empire (culminating in 1453 with the fall of Constantinople) but weakened over centuries until its final collapse with World War I.

Copyright © 2017

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan, and Their Attitudes toward Their Predecessors

I have to believe that Donald Trump has multiple staffers in the White House whose main or perhaps only job is to look over everything that former President Barack Obama did while he was in office, and especially his "executive orders" --so that Trump could reverse every one.

"Obama did this? Okay, now it's reversed." "Obama did that? I'll reverse it!"

I am not the first one to point out that Trump seems hell-bent on reversing every single thing that Obama did. "We don't like you, never did, and we're going to wipe out every last little bit of your legacy." Yes, Trump is that childish.

But this thumbing your nose at your predecessor reminds me of at least one thing that President Ronald Reagan did, some 30 years ago. His predecessor, Jimmy Carter, had installed solar panels on the White House roof. Reagan ordered the solar panels removed and dismantled.

Why on earth would he do this? Were there any bad or harmful results of having those solar panels there? Possibly Mr. Reagan thought that the hot water for his bath was not hot enough and so the entire water-heating system, as it was, needed to be substantially modified.

But I doubt that the reason was anything like that. I think Reagan just wanted to thumb his nose (or give the finger, or flip the bird. . .) to Carter. Jimmy Carter had told the American public that fossil fuels were a finite resource that needed to be conserved. He advocated for a more serious attitude toward energy use, perhaps even a bit of belt-tightening.

Reagan, on the other hand, comes along and, while campaigning for President, says, basically, We don't need to tighten the belt. Screw conservation. We are America and austerity is not for us. There is plenty of oil.

Incidentally, and at risk of straying from my subject: Reagan did not believe in government support of research into alternative energy sources. The day he took office he froze Department of Energy funding of alternative-energy research projects, thereby setting American alternative energy programs back by 30 years.

Copyright  © 2017

Thursday, August 31, 2017

U. S President Tronald Dump Speaking on the Flooding in Texas

Note: This is fake news. This did not happen. Any resemblance to persons living or dead if purely intentional.

Mr. Dump speaking:

I want to tell the people of Texas, and America, and the world: we will fix Texas. We will fix Texas. We are going to make Texas better than it ever was before. We have a plan. We have a great plan, a greater plan than there's ever been before. And we will fix Texas.

I can't release all the details of this plan, but we have a weapon. We are going to soak up all that water. We are going to make all that flood water go away, so fast you wouldn't believe.

We are going to bring in a sponge. A really, really big sponge.  A sponge like nobody's ever seen before. And we are going to soak up all that water. And then we will dump that water. We are going to dump that water, maybe on some country we don't like. Maybe on North Korea, or on Iran.

Meanwhile, I've got people looking for the drain. And we are going to open that drain, and let all the water drain out. Drain away. We've got divers, right now, looking for that drain, that will let all that water drain away. And with God's help, we are going to find that drain. We are going to drain all that water away. We are going to drain Texas to where It’s drier than it's ever been before. Believe me. We are going to fix Texas. And we're working on it right now. And we've got really, really great ideas on how to fix Texas. And we are going to fix Texas, I can tell you.

Copyright (c) 2017.

Friday, August 18, 2017

One Little Observation, and a Joke

The coming (next Monday) total solar eclipse which is to be visible in the US has gotten so much publicity and hype in the news that I suspect that the Sun must have some of the best press agents in the world.

What's the best month for joining the military? Answer: March.

Copyright (c) 2017