Category Archives: Trump

Vallejo Times-Herald Editorial: The only thing ‘fake’ is calling us ‘the enemy’

Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald
[Editor: Our president’s foul mouth and shameful behavior is dangerous.  A free and unfettered press is incredibly important. Note that local news is also an issue of great significance.  Recent cutbacks at both the Benicia Herald and the Vallejo Times-Herald leave Benicia largely unreported. See my editorial, Loss of local news coverage by Benicia Herald & Vallejo Times-Herald.  – RS]

Our View: The only thing ‘fake’ is calling us ‘the enemy’

By the Editor, 08/15/18, 2:58 PM PDT

We are not the enemy.

It’s shocking that in this country, built on the foundation of a free press, we would ever have to say that. But we live in shocking times. And we are under attack — from our president.

He has called us “the enemy of the American people.” He disparages our work as “fake news.”

At his rallies, he verbally abuses us. Not surprisingly, some of his supporters have taken it to the next step, threatening violence.

Last week, he tweeted about the press: “They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!”

Enough. This isn’t OK.

We can’t sit here and be silent. The notion that we are the enemy fomenting division domestically and abroad is absurd. When someone says something that wrong, that egregious, we can’t just let it go — especially when that person is the president.

Understand, as much delight as he seems to bask in while taking shots at us, the president isn’t lobbing “fake news” charges at us for the sport of it. There’s a method to this madness — and it’s centered by the only thing being “fake” in this equation is what continually comes out of the president’s mouth.

The president, through his constant Twitter use and his public statements, spews half-truths, falsehoods and outright lies at an historic rate for a United States President. According to PolitiFact, Trump’s statements are “mostly false” 22 percent of the time, “false” 33 percent of the time and “pants on fire” false 14 percent of the time. That’s an astounding 69 percent of the time where the president is not telling the entire truth.

But don’t just take PolitiFact’s word for it. Just listen to the president, just the other day.

“The head of U.S. Steel called me the other day, and he said, ‘We’re opening up six major facilities and expanding facilities that have never been expanded.’ They haven’t been opened in many, many years.” the president told a round table of American workers.

Except U.S. Steel is doing no such thing. All U.S. Steel has announced is that it will restart two blast furnaces and steelmaking facilities at the company’s Granite City Works integrated plant in Illinois — one in March and the other in October.

And the ridiculous things Trump said about the latest round of devastating California wildfires? We won’t even justify that by repeating it.

These lies are important to remember, because they are why Trump attacks the media with such zealousness: To discredit us. To get his base to believe his lies, not the fourth estate’s carefully sourced stories, many of which feature the president’s own words contradicting himself and others in the White House.

Journalists are trying to do a job. We’re not trying to tear down our nation. We’re trying to strengthen it. For we believe in the foundational premise behind the First Amendment — that our nation is stronger if its people are informed.

That’s just as true when talking about the local city council and school board as it is when discussing national and international policymaking and politics.

We sincerely believe that most of you understand that — otherwise you wouldn’t be reading our newspapers and websites. For that, we are deeply grateful.

You understand that we express our opinions on the editorial pages, but the reporters whose articles appear in the rest of the newspaper seek to present their work without bias.

You understand that there’s a qualitative difference between the reporting of mainstream journalists and the unchecked information — and disinformation — that flows alongside our work on Facebook and Twitter.

We wish the president could focus on fixing the threats to our democracy that stream through social media, rather than conflating social media and professional journalists to insinuate that somehow we’re all the same.

Yes, we make mistakes. We’re human. But we try to correct our errors as quickly as possible. And we’re certainly not purveyors of made-up information.

Today, we, and scores of other news organizations across the country, at the urging of the Boston Globe editorial page, are speaking up — defending the integrity of our journalists against the incessant onslaught from the president.

It’s a remarkable, unprecedented moment. Frankly, it’s scary. We’re afraid, for our personal safety and for the future of our country. These attacks on the press are an attack on our nation’s foundation.

And we’re angry. Angry that we work so hard to carry out the mission our Founding Fathers envisioned, to provide the free flow of information so critical to a well-functioning democracy, only to be demonized by our president for doing our jobs.

Today, we ask readers to keep supporting us. And, whatever your political leanings or feelings about the president’s policies, recognize that the press has an important role to play in our nation.

We take it very seriously. We wish Trump did, too.

    Senators: Leave the GOP for the sake of the nation

    Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle

    GOP senators, now is a time for integrity: leave your party

    Photo of Robert Reich
    Robert Reich

    To: Sens. Jeff Flake, John McCain,
    Bob Corker and Susan Collins
    From: Robert Reich

    Senators, I write you not as a Democrat reaching out to Republicans, or as a former Cabinet member making a request of sitting senators.

    I write you as a patriotic American concerned about the peril now facing our democracy, asking you to exercise your power to defend it.

    A foreign power has attacked our democratic institutions and, according to American intelligence, continues to do so.

    Yet the president of the United States is unwilling to fully acknowledge this, or aggressively stop it.

    Most of your Republican colleagues in the Senate will not force his hand. As a result, because your party has control of the Senate, there is no effective check on the president — or on Vladimir Putin.

    What is America to do? We will exercise our right to vote on Nov. 6. But by that time our system may be compromised. The president must be constrained, now. Putin’s aggression must be stopped, now.

    If just two of you changed parties — becoming independent and caucusing with the Democrats — the Republican Party would no longer have a majority in the Senate.

    The Senate would become a check on the president, as the framers of the Constitution envisioned it would be. And the president could be forced to defend the United States, as the framers intended.

    I implore you to do so.

    There is precedent. I’m sure you remember Jim Jeffords of Vermont, who served as a Republican senator from 1989 until 2001. He then left the GOP to become an independent and began caucusing with the Democrats.

    Jeffords’ switch changed control of the Senate from Republican to Democratic. Jeffords left the Republican Party because of issues on which he parted with his Republican colleagues and the George W. Bush administration. As he said at the time, “Increasingly, I find myself in disagreement with my party. … Given the changing nature of the national party, it has become a struggle for our leaders to deal with me and for me to deal with them.”

    I knew and admired Jeffords years before he switched parties. We worked together on a number of initiatives when I was secretary of labor. He was a humble man of principle and integrity. He retired from the Senate in 2007 and died in 2014.

    I appeal to the four of you to follow his noble example.

    The stakes for the nation are far higher than they were in 2001. The issue today is not one on which honorable people like Jeffords may reasonably disagree. The issue now is the fate of our system of government.

    All of you recognize the danger. All of you have expressed deep concern about what is occurring.

    Sen. Flake recently introduced a non-binding resolution acknowledging Russian involvement in the 2016 elections, expressing support for the Justice Department investigation and calling for oversight hearings about what happened in Helsinki. But Flake’s fellow Republicans blocked that resolution.

    Sen. McCain said the president has “proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin”; that Trump “made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world”; and that the president has “failed to defend all that makes us who we are — a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad.”

    Sen. Corker has likened the Republican Party to a “cult” and conceded that “it’s not a good place for any party to end up with a cult-like situation as it relates to a president that happens to be of purportedly of the same party.”

    Moreover, the three of you have decided against seeking re-election. You have no reason not to follow your consciences.

    Sen. Collins represents a state that has had a long and distinguished history of independent-minded politicians. (The other senator from Maine, Angus King, is an independent.) Her constituents will surely forgive her if she leaves the Republican Party.

    There is a scene in the Robert Bolt play “A Man for All Seasons” in which Thomas More, having angered Henry VIII, is on trial for his life. After Richard Rich commits perjury against More in exchange for the office of attorney general for Wales, More says: “Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. … But for Wales?”

    You have not pledged your souls to the Republican Party. You have pledged yourselves to America. Now is the time to deliver on that pledge.

    © 2018 Robert Reich

    Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, is co-creator of the new Netflix documentary “Saving Capitalism” and author of “The Common Good.” To comment, submit your letter to the editor at SFChronicle.com/letters.

      NYT: In Rebuke of Trump, Tillerson Says Lies Are a Threat to Democracy

      Repost from the New York Times
      [Editorial comment by Marilyn Bardet: “How ironic! For years, Exxon promulgated lies, denying or casting doubt on any scientific research that pointed to humans’ contribution…to climate change, despite the fact that Exxon funded its own independent research on climate that confirmed the very thing the company denied!  Go figure.  So, Tillerson’s statements now are rather astounding— almost bespeaking a conversion or ‘mea culpa’. He’s certainly not wrong that the lies now being told by Trump and Co. thwart the existence of any semblance of democracy.”  — Marilyn Bardet]

      In Rebuke of Trump, Tillerson Says Lies Are a Threat to Democracy

      Rex W. Tillerson, the former secretary of state, in March. Credit Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press
      By Gardiner Harris, May 16, 2018

      WASHINGTON — In what appeared to be a rebuke of President Trump, former Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson warned on Wednesday that American democracy is threatened by a “growing crisis in ethics and integrity.”

      “If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom,” he said in a commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va.

      Even small falsehoods and exaggerations are problematic, Mr. Tillerson said. (Mr. Trump is prone to both.)

      “When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth even on what may seem the most trivial matters, we go wobbly on America,” Mr. Tillerson said.

      “If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both the public and private sector — and regrettably at times even the nonprofit sector — then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years,” Mr. Tillerson warned.

      The former Eagle Scout — who often cited a commitment to respect, integrity and accountability as the guideposts of his life and leadership — has been in near-seclusion at his Texas ranch since he was fired by tweet in March, just hours after returning from a trip through Africa. He had agreed to deliver the V.M.I. commencement address before he was fired.