Mr. Trump, Will You Please Stop Attacking a Real Hero?

If there’s one thing Donald Trump is good at, it’s not letting go. Once you’ve hit a raw nerve with Trump, you’re an enemy for life. And beyond.

Last weekend, Trump once again attacked John McCain – an “enemy” who passed away months ago. The late senator committed the unforgivable sins of criticizing Trump… then failing to support Trump’s every wish in the Senate.

Now, I was rarely a fan of McCain’s take on policy matters. But I couldn’t take issue with his patriotism or valor. For Trump, however, personal loyalty is more important.

Let’s take a quick look at the service of this man Trump keeps attacking…

Draft Dodger vs. Career Soldier

Donald Trump received four draft deferments while attending college. When he graduated, he hit the jackpot. He was diagnosed with bone spurs – earning a medical deferment.

Oddly, right up till his graduation, Trump had been athletically active – playing squash, football, and other sports. And the diagnosis didn’t seem to slow him down afterward, either.

The doctor who provided the diagnosis died in 2007, but his daughters claim it was an open secret in the family the diagnosis was just a “favor” to Fred Trump, Donald’s father… and the doctor’s landlord.

Meanwhile, how about John McCain’s military record?

A graduate of the U.S. Naval academy, McCain was commissioned an ensign in 1958. Trained as a flier, McCain served in Vietnam, until being shot down over Hanoi in 1967.

He was captured, imprisoned, and tortured by the North Vietnamese. When given the option of release, he refused until those held longer were let go. McCain finally returned home at the end of the war in 1973.

By the time McCain retired from the Navy in 1981, he had earned 17 awards and decorations. These include a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

He retired with the rank of Captain, serving out the end of his military career as a Navy liaison to the U.S. Senate.

Obviously, this is a senior statesman who deserves respect. Not according to Trump.

Trump Only Shows Respect When You Agree With Him

Trump’s tweets about John McCain run the gamut. If it appeared McCain was throwing his support to Trump, the tweets were positive. If not, Trump had no trouble running him down. (Remember that comment from Trump saying McCain wasn’t a hero because he got caught?)

  • July 27, 2015: “McCain hasn’t done anything for the Vets; fact! He only talks about himself!”
  • Oct 5, 2016: “Thank you @SenJohnMcCain for your kind remarks on the important issue of PTSD and the dishonest media. Great to be in Arizona yesterday!”
  • Oct 11, 2016: “The very foul mouthed Sen. John McCain begged for my support during his primary (I gave, he won), then dropped me over locker room remarks!”
  • July 25, 2017: “So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave – American hero! Thank you John.”
  • Mar 17, 2019: “So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) “last in his class” (Annapolis) John McCain that sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election. He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!”

It’s important to note here Senator McCain had an excellent record on veteran’s issues. He co-sponsored a 2014 bill to overhaul the Dept. Of Veterans Affairs… worked with Bernie Sanders to improve veterans’ access to health care… In 2014 alone, his office helped some 3,500 veterans. And only half were his AZ constituents.

As is so often the case, Trump’s attacks have been outside the realm of reality. And his support is entirely situational.

But attacking a genuine hero? After the hero’s death. That’s a step too low… even for Trump.

[Note: I rarely post twice in a day. But when Trump dodges the draft – and then attacks a genuine American hero – well, that’s too much. Especially when that hero passed just recently. Every vet knows Senator McCain fought for them tooth and nail. Trump’s utter lack respect reveals his absence of character.]

Did Donald Trump Threaten Violence Against the Left?

“You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. Okay? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

– Donald Trump, via Breitbart, March 13, 2019

This frightening quote came during an interview with Breitbart News. Trump complained bitterly about new Congressional investigations… blamed Paul Ryan for holding back his right wing allies… and apparently suggested his armed supporters may “get tough.”

This is a new low for a president. And should serve as a wake-up call for all Americans. Because a sitting U.S. president just threatened to bring guns to a subpoena fight.

If you’re concerned – and you should be – you can make a difference. But before I reveal how, just a little background on Trump’s claim.

And the loyalty of his supporters.

America First… Except When It’s Too Expensive

Trump celebrates the support of his “Bikers for Trump” group. They’re all in for his “America First” campaign.

When Harley Davidson announced they’d move some manufacturing overseas to keep prices down, many Bikers for Trump announced they’d bought their last Harley.

But when it came to the group’s t-shirts? Different story.

Claiming American-made t-shirts would add $8 to the cost, Bikers for Trump moved their t-shirt production to Haiti.

That’s right. Cutting production costs was a deal breaker with Harley Davidson. But for Trump’s supporters, it was just fine.

Okay, Bikers for Trump are hypocrites – perfect for Trump allies – but what about the generals?

Not Many Invertebrates in This Crowd

Gen. “Mad Dog” Mattis – Trump’s secretary of defense – quit over Trump’s announced Syria pullout. By all reports, the Pentagon brass was none too happy, either.

As Trump’s chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly looked like the unhappiest man on Earth. Photos of Kelly with his head bowed, palm to forehead became a running joke on late night TV.

After leaving the White House staff, Kelly publicly differed with Trump on key issues – such as NATO and Trump’s border wall.

Clearly this isn’t a guy who’d promote violence for the President.

The Pentagon brass also aren’t Trump’s lapdogs. When he declared victory over ISIS and announced an immediate withdrawal of troops from Syria, the Pentagon pushed back.

ISIS may have lost most of its territory, they argued, but not its ability to fight. The withdrawal was scaled back.

 Trump’s much vaunted “Space Force” is getting pushback, too. Trump wants a stand-alone force. The Pentagon wants to make it a sub-division of the Air Force… much as the Marines are a sub-division of the Navy.

The military is at odds with Trump on key policy issues, too. For example, Trump denies climate change. But Pentagon officials have testified before Congress on the issue. And they clearly see climate change as a national security concern.

The Pentagon even produced a report – called the “Joint Operating Environment” – outlining those concerns.

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before Congress in 2017. During his testimony, Dunford disagreed with Trump’s order to ban transgender troops. Transgender troops had, Dunford said, served with “honor and valor.”

So Trump seems to be at odds with the military on all sorts of issues. He may be mistaking the deference of subordinate rank with support for policy. Trump likely can’t sway the military brass to abandon the Constitution.

All well and good, but what about the police?

Will Cops Go Rogue for Trump?

Any violence perpetrated by Trump’s biker allies would be a clear violation of the law. And subject them to prison terms Trump couldn’t shield them from. (Trump can only pardon those convicted of federal crimes.)

The military brass doesn’t seem to be on the same page as Trump on almost any issue. They tolerate their unstable boss, but push back consistently. They’re not likely to trample the Constitution to humor his delusions of grandeur.

That leaves the police in Trump’s equation of tough supporters. And here’s where we may have a problem.

First, let me say that most officers just want to do their jobs. To protect ordinary citizens and maintain the peace.

But, as we’ve seen, there are outliers. Like Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Trump pardoned this ardent supporter, even though Arpaio had been convicted of criminal contempt. He ignored the lawful orders of a federal judge… by illegally detaining people of Hispanic heritage.

Racist… lawless… pardoned by Trump. No wonder Trump has support within the law enforcement community. Though it’s far from universal.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) endorsed Trump in 2016. But Hillary was seen by many as “soft on crime.” Whereas Trump promoted the idea that telling detainees to “watch their heads” when stepping into police vehicles was a bit much.

The National Latino Peace Officers Association didn’t support Trump. Neither did the NYPD’s Muslim Officers Society – the largest Muslim police fraternity in the nation. Other prominent people within the law enforcement community also declined to support Trump.

But his tough-on-crime rhetoric… his lenient stance on police crime… and his tacit support of white supremacist groups give Trump an “in” with a certain segment of law enforcement.

We can’t guarantee rogue elements within law enforcement won’t respond to a “call to arms” from Trump.

That’s why we need to send a clear signal Trump’s calls to violence wont be tolerated.

You Can Make a Difference

That’s why we’ve started a petition on Change.org. Our petition calls on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to condemn Trump’s threat of violence.

The petition reads…

During a Breitbart interview on March 13, President Trump threatened violence against his opponents on the Left. Trump said, “I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

 Threats of violence against political opponents are unacceptable – especially from a sitting president. As the Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate, it is your duty to defend the Constitution. Immediately introduce a resolution to condemn the President’s vile threats against his political opponents.

Just click here sign the petition. Feel free to contact your senators and congressperson, too. The more pressure, the harder it will be for McConnell to give Trump a free pass.

If you love your freedoms, this is a no-brainer. Donald Trump is no friend to democracy. If we don’t contain him, the “American experiment” may end.

Again, to defend our democracy, click here.

Otherwise, you can expect even more violent, extreme, and anti-democratic threats from Trump. Because he won’t stop until the adults around him force him to.

________________________________________________________________________

Haberman, M., “John Kelly, Out of White House, Breaks With Trump Policies,” The New York Times. Mar 7, 2019.

Heer, J, “Trump declares victory over ISIS in Syria. The Pentagon disagrees,” The New Republic. Dec 2019.

Bender, B., “Pentagon chief backs Space Force — but as part of the Air Force,” Politico.com. Jan 29, 2019.

Revkin, A., ProPublica, “Trump May Not Care About Climate Change, But the Pentagon Does,” Mother Jones. Mar 15, 2017.

Colen, A., “The Pentagon’s top officer disagrees with Trump’s transgender ban,” The Blaze. Sep 26, 2017.

Patterson, B.E., “Police Group Backs Trump, but These Cops Sure Don’t,” Mother Jones. Sep 22, 2016.

Trump’s Emergency: Where Have We Seen This Before?

Mostly harmless foreigners cross the U.S. border. The flames of hysteria – fed by an over-zealous nutcase – grip the citizenry. The nutcase demands a massive response. Chaos ensues.

Trump’s border emergency is so far out in left field, it could be the plot of a zany comedy.

Oh, wait… It is.

Does Trump Watch Too Much Classic TV?

Maybe he’s been watching Turner Classic Movies. Or tunes in to the mid-day movie on one of those off-brand digital networks. Or just likes to stream old movies. I’m not sure.

Whatever the case, we’ve seen the plot for Trump’s border crisis before. Because it’s eerily similar to the 1966 comedy The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!

In the movie, a Russian sub runs aground off the coast of Massachusetts. It’s not on a spy mission. The captain just wanted to get a better look at the U.S.A. But they’re stuck on a sandbar.

So a landing party heads ashore to find a boat to help free the sub. They don’t want trouble. They don’t want to hurt anyone. In fact, they don’t even want to be noticed.

But of course they are. And they’re mistaken for the first wave of an invasion. Soon, an over-zealous nutcase has organized patriotic citizens to defend against the invasion.

In the movie, sanity eventually prevails. The Russians help save a little boy, and the townspeople realize they mean no harm. The townsfolk then help the Russians escape. Humanity triumphs, and disaster is averted.

But I think Trump may have fallen asleep during the movie’s last 20 minutes. Because it doesn’t look like his version of this movie has the same ending.

Trump Doesn’t Want Happily Ever After

Trump has a notoriously short attention span. Some White House aides slip his name into briefing documents, because it’s the only way to keep him reading. Others use charts and graphs to make key points. Otherwise, the president won’t pay attention.

Trump may have stolen most of his border emergency plot from The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! But he obviously didn’t watch to the end of the movie.

Because Trump’s version includes concertina wire… a massive troop build-up… and over-stepping his Constitutional authority to execute an end run around Congress.

Here are the facts:

  • A majority of Americans don’t want Trumps wall.
  • A majority in both houses of Congress doesn’t want the wall, either.
  • There is no legal way for Trump to finance the wall.

So Trump has taken a two-pronged approach to get his way.

Step One: Lie Through Your Teeth

Republicans controlled both houses of Congress during Trump’s first two years in office. Yet no new wall was built. There were some repairs. But new wall? Nope.

Now that Democrats control the House, Trump has taken a different approach: Lie, lie, lie.

His new “Finish the Wall” slogan is part of his PR plan to convince his base he’s been building the wall all along. Which he hasn’t.

He’s now taken to saying he’s completed significant sections of wall… and claiming the Democrats are trying to deny him the funds to complete his work. Because they want “open borders” and to let rapists and murderers overrun America.

Never mind the statistics show undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.

Never mind that most undocumented immigrants arrived here legally and simply over-stayed their visas.

Never mind that most drugs are brought in through established checkpoints.

In Trump’s mind, belief is more important than reality. So he spews lies with no regard to what’s really happening.

Step Two: Demonize Anyone Who Dares Speak the Truth

“Fake news” has become Trump’s go-to attack on anyone who questions his claims. CNN – which has taken pains to verify Trump’s claims – is a frequent victim.

The Washington Post has fact-checked Trump from the beginning. They simply compare his claims to the verifiable facts. In Trump’s eyes, they’re “fake news,” too.

Any journalist or media outlet that dares to disagree is declared fake news” by our Liar-in-Chief.

It almost seems Trump is unaware most of his public statements over the last 40 or so years have been recorded…

Either he’s unaware, or he knows his base doesn’t care. As long as he holds to his racist agenda, they’ll swallow anything he spews out.

You Can Make a Difference

Reality is powerful. And the reality is that Trump lost the popular vote. By a margin of nearly 3 million. And that’s in spite of Republicans’ best efforts to suppress the votes of minority and poor Americans.

Speaking of minorities… Trump’s wall is supported by a minority. Most Americans want a citizenship path for DACA youth. We don’t want family separations. We don’t want asylum seekers sent back to Mexico.

Most Americans are humanitarians, not racists.

Because we outnumber Trump’s racist base, we have an opportunity. Your representatives in Washington know their jobs depend on votes. And if they think they’ll lose their cushy job in the next election cycle, watch how many of them decide to switch sides.

But a lot of us have to make our voices heard. We have to let our representatives in Congress know how we feel. And that’s easily done…

Just go to https://www.congress.gov/contact-us for their contact info. Then let your representative and senators know how you feel. Any elected official who thinks their job may be on the line will respond.

Members of Congress will stand with Trump only as long as they think it boosts their re-election chances. If backing him threatens their job, watch how quickly they can change their minds.

We don’t have to let Trump rewrite the ending to this story. Humanity can still win out over hate. You just have to act.

Out of Step… Out of Touch… Out of Excuses

President Trump wasn’t able to rally enough support to build his southern border wall when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. So, once Democrats took control of the House, he suddenly couldn’t live without it.

Trump’s allies and apologists made light of the predicament of some 800,000 federal workers who were left wondering how they’d feed their families… pay their mortgages… or meet other financial obligations.

This all points to a Republican Party that’s out of step with America… out of touch with the average voter… and out of excuses for such bizarre behavior.

Just listen to what Trump’s apologists were saying…

“A Little Pain”

Want to know how out of touch Trump’s allies are? Just listen to his daughter-in-law. Speaking to furloughed federal workers, Lara Trump said, “… this is so much bigger than any one person. It is a little bit of pain, but it’s going to be for the future of our country.”

“A little bit of pain.” To a Trump, that’s apparently what losing your home is. Or scraping to feed your family. As you teeter on the brink of losing healthcare. Do you think Lara Trump might be just a little out of touch with reality?

You’d have to be to think Trump’s wall is more important than the food on the table and roof over the heads of 800,000 federal workers and their families.

The numbers show most undocumented aliens arrive here with valid visas… and simply overstay them. And most drugs coming through the southern border pass through legal, established checkpoints.

Of course, none of the Trump children will feel the pinch of mommy and daddy having to choose between paying the mortgage and buying food.

And Lara Trump is hardly alone.

“I Don’t Really Quite Understand Why”

Trump’s Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, weighed in on the crisis, too. Of federal workers going to homeless shelters for food, Ross said, “Well, I know they are… and I don’t really quite understand why.”

Ross’s solution to no paychecks? Federal workers should just borrow against future earnings. By the way, the Commerce Department’s credit union currently charges almost 9% interest.

Food bank vs. 9% interest? If you don’t understand that, you’re hopeless. Cut any worker’s pay by 9% and tell them it won’t be a problem.

Trump tried to defend Ross’s words. Ross, he said, just didn’t express himself well. He meant to point out how local banks and grocery stores would “work with” furloughed workers. Are these the same grocery stores Trump thinks demand a photo ID before they’ll sell you a box of cereal?

Ross – who has $700 million in assets – hardly has to worry about losing a paycheck. And neither does Lara Trump, whose husband earns millions from the Trump organization.

Now, just weeks after the longest partial shutdown In U.S. history, Trump appears poised to hold 800,000 federal workers hostage yet again. Even before some federal workers have been paid for the last shutdown.

Barring that, he’s threatened to declare a non-existent emergency to side-step Congress. Or divert funds designated for other purposes.

However, many Republican lawmakers don’t have a taste for more Trump shenanigans. The worse his behavior, the better the chances they’ll lose their jobs. Trump may not understand the message of the midterms, but they do.

Let your representatives in Washington know the wall is a no-go. It’s easy. Just visit https://www.congress.gov/members to get their contact info, and send an e-mail.

Let them know you oppose Trump’s wall. And that you won’t vote for anyone who enables his bad behavior.

Journalism vs. “Journalism”

Most people know to believe only news sources that offer proof of their claims. And openly admit when they get something wrong.

Real journalists have integrity. They check their facts. And they don’t hide from their mistakes.

And then there are “journalists.” Like Sinclair Braodcasting’s Boris Epshteyn. Whose journalistic standards are so low, he can’t even be bothered to click on a link to check a statement that sets him off.

What am I talking about? Be warned: You’re either going to laugh in derision, or smack your forehead in disgust.

Welcome to the “Right” Side of Journalism

A parody account on Twitter recently posted this: “PRESS RELEASE: We will not stay silent on the reckless move by President Trump puling out of the IMDb treaty with Russia.”

It’s hard to imagine that anyone could take this seriously. To begin with, IMDb is the Internet Movie Database, a popular site with movie information.

Plus, the name of the account is “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Press Release (parody).” It has the word “parody” right in the name.

But to Boris Epshteyn, Sinclair Broadcasting’s Chief Political Strategist. He seized on the tweet as proof Democrats are idiots.

Now, this is disturbing for two reasons. First, “parody” isn’t just in the account’s name. If you visit “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Press Release (parody),” you’ll see the account’s description repeats it’s a parody and claims to be “Political Satire.”

Apparently, Sinclair’s right-leaning standards don’t involve the difficult task of clicking on a link. Or reading the name of the source. Because wither one would have shown this was not a tweet from AOC.

Epshteyn plowed ahead with a nonsensical condemnation of Dems… and AOC in particular.

“Gotcha” Journalism… Without the Gotcha

“1. Dems messaging on Russia continues to be confused,” Epshteyn tweeted. “One minute they scream the president is Russia’s puppet the next they don’t want the president to be tough on Russia.”

He continues, “2. You mean INF? IMDb is the movie database that you seem to so desperately want to have a big profile on.”

Somehow, Epshteyn conflates support for treaties that might prevent worldwide destruction with not wanting to be tough. Is withdrawal the only option? Apparently it is, by his calculations.

And you have to worry about the intellectual capacity of someone who can’t see through such a completely transparent joke.

But what’s most worrying is Epshteyn is the Chief Political Strategist for a right-leaning string of TV stations that reaches a significant percentage of the American public.

Sinclair owns more than 170 stations… representing dozen of stations affiliated with each of the major networks. But Sinclair stations are required to run their parent’s editorial content – which leans distinctly to the right.

Epshteyn, who worked for Trump’s campaign – and in the White House – has run several pro-Trump segments on Sinclair stations.

So what are viewers to think when he posts a phony “gotcha” on Twitter?

Will We Say Good-Bye to Non-Partisan News?

According to the Washington Post, the Trump campaign offered a “no-commentary” deal to Sinclair that gave it exclusive access to the candidate.

And Trump’s FCC (Federal Communications Commission) chairman, Ajit Pai, apparently favors deregulation. The Post reports Pai met with Sinclair execs shortly before his appointment as FCC chairman.

Which could mean a single company could have coast-to-coast reach. Unfettered access to every voter. And the opportunity to push its own agenda.

This is scary. Especially considering Sinclair’s Chief Political Strategist is so blinded by partisanship, he can’t tell a parody is a parody. Even when the account’s name contains the word “parody.”

Even worse, Sinclair has formulated plans to circumvent the FCC rule barring a single owner from reaching more than 39% of the market.

But there’s good news.

America Gets a Reprieve… for Now

In August 2018, Tribune Broadcasting broke off its deal with Sinclair, and sued for $1 billion. Tribune claimed breach of contract.

According to the Tribune filing, “Sinclair’s entire course of conduct has been in blatant violation of the merger agreement and, but for Sinclair’s actions, the transaction could have closed long ago.”

CNBC reports, “A dozen Senate Democrats said in April Sinclair was deliberately distorting news coverage by forcing local stations to read scripts that criticized what it described as ‘the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.’”

So maybe we’ve dodged a bullet. This time.

But it seems pretty clear forces on the Right are working hard to control what you can see and hear. This is a tactic used by tin-pot dictators for centuries. Control the news, and you control people’s thoughts and opinions.

That’s why we have to advocate for a lively, independent, and widespread news corps. Because if apparent morons like Boris Epshteyn are in charge, we’ll all be in trouble.

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Rosenberg, E., “Trump said Sinclair ‘is far superior to CNN.’ What we know about the conservative media giant,” The Washington Post. Apr 3, 2018.

Chang, A., “Sinclair’s takeover of local news, in one striking map,” Vox.com. Apr 6, 2018.

“Tribune Media sues Sinclair for $1 billion in damages after terminating $3.9 billion acquisition deal,” CNBC.com. Aug 9, 2018.