It engenders anger to know the president of the United States says that what I did for a living for 20 years — and what I’ve spent 25 years teaching — represents the acts of “an enemy of the American People.”
President Donald, titularly “the most powerful man in the world,” will eventually learn not to pick fights with people who buy ink in 55-gallon drums — and have plenty of digital and video ink to spare.
He’s awakened a slumbering watchdog. Recall journalism’s reactions to President Nixon’s overt and covert deceits. The nation’s best newspapers rose to challenge the president — and Nixon lost. Trust in the executive branch withered. Remember, too, the swell of entrants to the nation’s journalism programs (well, after “All the President’s Men” hit the big screen). Will that happen again in President Donald’s first term?
President Donald’s fortunate in the timing of his presidency. The last 20 years have left journalism in a weakened, altered state. Reasons are many — management reacting too late to the challenge of the internet, a decline in interest in the field among the young, and massive losses of revenue prompting executives to pare the workforce of daily print journalists by 20,000 positions, about 39 percent.
The war against the press will be fought at the local and state level, but the war at the federal level will get the most airtime.
CNN reporter Jeremy Desmond asked Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, under fire because of four deaths at his jail, for an interview. On Friday, Clarke replied on Twitter:
Donald Trump has labeled CNN as fake news. When Pres. Trump says CNN is ok again, then I might.
The sheriff — an elected public official — has refused to respond to a press request for an interview. This particular sheriff has a nationwide reputation as a supporter of President Donald and has been considered for a position in the Donald administration. Continue reading →
In the absence of rules and sheriffs, bandits will multiply.
The end game of the heavily mediated engine driving American political strife boils down to these questions:
What is the appropriate size of the federal government?
Who should decide that?
Who should run the “right-sized” government based on what values determined by whom?
Big, big money was wagered in the 2016 election cycle on the outcome of this game as gazillionaires of the right and left poured donations (wonder how many are legal?) into competing PACs, SuperPACS, and 501C’s.
Well, so what? Politicians and their spear carriers have prevaricated, evaded, fibbed, misinformed, misdirected, and dissembled since the dawn of government.
But Sean Spicer lied. He did not disguise the lie. He told lies easily contravened. He did so acting as the representative of the president of the United States. He did so just days after promising he wouldn’t lie.
The Trump transition team has yet to name all its executive branch officials, moving to fill only about 4 percent of positions needing Senate approval.
President Donald has yet to flesh out the rest of the executive branch despite Vice President Mike Pence’s claim that “We’re wrapping up this transition on schedule and under budget,” according to Politico’s Influence newsletter.
The heat of media scrutiny has fallen on top-level Cabinet posts, and deservedly so. But President Donald as of yesterday, when he was still president-elect, has moved to fill only 4 percent of the 690 executive branch appointments requiring Senate confirmation.
From an analysis by Bloomberg’s Jonathan Bernstein:
Look at the big four departments. There’s no Trump appointee for any of the top State Department jobs below secretary nominee Rex Tillerson. No Trump appointee for any of the top Department of Defense jobs below retired general James Mattis. Treasury? Same story. Justice? Continue reading →
An inability to focus on consequences that do not center on him. Check. An absence of empathy for others. Check. A lack of impulse control coupled to a need to lash out at perceived offenses (and offenders). Check. A vainglorious view of himself. Check. An ever-present, almost childlike, need for praise. Check.
President-Elect Donald is a narcissist. That’s the conclusion of Alan J. Lipman, a clinical psychologist, chronicled in a commentary on CNN. But we already know that, don’t we? We’ve seen it repeatedly at his rallies and in his Twitter rants. But so far, he’s insulated himself from the consequences of his narcissism. Even past Republican critics, such as the speaker of the House, and big-money donors who did not support his candidacy are falling in line, creating an imaginary unity.
President-Elect Donald’s egregious behaviors have become acceptable because so many legislators and donors have too much at stake (power, influence, government contracts, etc.) to suggest the emperor-elect is naked.
But there’s one judge of presidential behavior, character, and leadership President-Elect Donald has yet to face — George Gallup’s question:
Do you approve or disapprove of the way ____ is handling his job as president?
Saturday dawned gray, cold, and wet. A light mist eased through the forest at my university. But a day walking in the woods with a camera is a good day, no matter the weather, right?
The university was on holiday break. Students had fled home to give thanks with family and friends. I did, too, but returned early.
The deeply overcast sky dictated a flat, low-contrast aspect to the trees and trails in the forest. I looked down. At least I can shoot leaves, now wet and trodden. I like to shoot leaves. A little Photoshop would add hue and color contrast to them, I thought.
But the gray and the cold and the mist cut into my coat and mind. I shivered. Bummer. A dark day growing darker. Melancholy arrived and tapped on my shoulder. I turned and shuffled back onto the main trail, intent on returning to my truck. My Canon hung unused from its strap around my neck. I hate the interregnum between seasons: no leaves on the trees, no snow on the ground.
Franciscans have walked through these woods for more than a century and a half. Franciscans like nature and apparently thrive in it. They have, over the life of the university, constructed stations of the cross on a circular trail in this forest — Bob’s Woods, named after Fr. Bob Stewart, who died of cancer shortly after my arrival at the university.
I am not a Franciscan. I am not as hopeful as they appear to be. Dank, dark weather like this day’s further eroded my ability to detect hope.
President Donald wants to revive America’s coal industry. He says regulations, most notably from the Environmental Protection Agency, have forced coal plants to close. So he wants to do away with those damn unfriendly regulations (such as the mercury and air toxics standards, the proposed cross-state pollution standard and the proposed limitations of carbon dioxide emissions). After that, Appalachian coal will again be riven from the earth, reviving the industry.