Posted by: minnow | January 27, 2017

“The only security of all is in a free press.” T. Jefferson

Can we be honest about the presidential election a moment? And I don’t mean can we look at the facts and then look at the “alternative facts” as if “alternative facts” are equally valid or anything other than a lie. “Alternative facts are NOT valid.  They are not facts they are lies.  Facts do not come with multiple choice options.

FACT, Trump did not score an electoral landslide. His win ranked 46th out of the 56 elections listed in the electoral college records. He lost the popular vote by over 2.5 million. And NO evidence has emerged to support his claims of voter fraud despite his continuous obsession. We do however have evidence showing Russia interfered with the election, evidence FBI Director Comey sat on until his hand was forced post-election. We also know Comey made a statement that “more Clinton related e-mails” were discovered and would be investigated. Not surprisingly, his announcement damaged Clinton’s campaign and the e-mails in question were duplicates. Collusion? I hope we find out, but doubt the investigation ordered by President Obama will be continued.

PROBLEM # 1--The transition of power occurred and the powers that be, with a few notable exceptions, seem more than willing to muck around in the swamp with Trump no matter how ridiculous or dangerous he becomes.  Case in point, Monday night in a meeting with Republicans and Democrats, Trump claimed he won the popular vote had it not been for voter fraud. Tuesday, Trump’s mouthpiece to the press, Sean Spicer without any evidence repeated the claim. And when asked, Rep. King of Iowa and Senator McConnell from Kentucky, both Republicans, refused to denounce the claim, instead leaving open the idea he might have information they didn’t have.  The lone voice of reason from the GOP, Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, suggested (much more politely of course) that Trump put up or shut up.  Perhaps in response to the Senator, but more likely because Trump hates to lose or maybe because he needed a distraction from a more sinister plan, Trump tweeted on Wednesday he would ask for a “major investigation”.

PROBLEM # 2.–The implication of the investigation is clear.  If government shows concern, even fake concern, for “fair” elections, it can more easily control who votes and who doesn’t.  Since 2006  when Indiana implemented the first voter ID laws 35 other states have followed suit.  Trump’s current whining about unverified fraud paves the way for more states to jump on the voter ID bandwagon.

But, isn’t avoiding fraud a good thing? Of course. But here’s the catch, voter ID laws only monitor in-person voter fraud which is the rarest form of fraud.  Between 2003 and 2005 only 9 people were accused nation wide of in-person voter fraud and only 5 were found guilty.  Additionally, voter ID laws are more burdensome for the poor and elderly thus suppress the vote in those demographics.  Ironically, since Trump called attention to “duel registration” as part of the problem, his daughter, Tiffany, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, were each found to be duel registered.  But remember: duel registration is not illegal–voting twice is.

PROBLEM # 3.--Trump uses tweets to obsess about seemingly silly matters.  It is a distraction technique he has mastered. And, we need to recognize it when its happening so we can look to see what else may be going on.  So, what emerged this week that hasn’t gotten as much attention?

Several executive orders have come from Trump’s desk with promises for more. Early in the week Trump put a gag order on the EPA and several other agencies.  He cut federal funding to sanctuary cities and set aside government funds to build a wall on our southern border. There was also talk of collecting a border tax to help pay for it. He reinstated the Mexico City Policy or Global Gag Rule. And, he issued a memorandum to the Commerce Secretary to review federal regulations in order to streamline and expedite manufacturing permits.  Trump put a freeze on all federal hires and asked for the resignation of nearly all the top State Department officials. He also signed an order removing all the roadblocks to the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline.  (Can you say conflict of interest). Still, the first thing he did this week was to void President Obama’s Mortgage cost reduction plan which would have helped low income and first-time home owners. His very first action was to take a direct shot at America’s working class.

PROBLEM #4–brings us somewhat full circle.  Trump and his spokesmen continue to criticize, contradict, and vilify the press.  Their behavior serves two purposes.  Operating on the theory “if you repeat a lie often enough people will believe you” the King of the Birther Movement has perfected the art of lying.  Backed by Conway, Spicer, and Bannon, Trump will continue to single out legitimate news sources, like CNN, by calling them fake news whenever they paint him in a less than flattering light or whenever they report on truths he doesn’t want covered.

Secondly, by criticizing legitimate news sources, and calling them the “opposition party”as Trump’s chief strategist did on Wednesday, Trump and his team feed distrust, confusion, and fear.  Fanning these fires got Trump elected and he’s counting on it to increase our vulnerability and his power.

But, the FREE PRESS is NOT the opposition.  Facts and information are essential to a thriving democracy.  The only need a president has for shutting down the free press is to acquire more power and hide his true agenda. When a President threatens to show his might and send federal troops into a city the day after the mayor of that city was critical of the president (like Trump did this week with Chicago) warning bells should be clanging in your ears.  Trump and his cohorts must be monitored and we need a free press willing to ask the hard questions and go after the real answers if we are going to protect our freedom and this democracy.  

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