Gut journalism

credible

adjective

cred·​i·​ble | \ ˈkre-də-bəl  \

Definition of credible

1offering reasonable grounds for being believed
This week the mainstream media and Democrats jumped into another vicious smear campaign against Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh, following a New York Times story rolled out via a tweet on Twitter:

“Last week, The Times faced swift condemnation for a now-deleted tweet that referred to Kavanaugh’s alleged actions as “harmless fun.”

“Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun. But when Brett Kavanaugh did it to her, Deborah Ramirez says, it confirmed that she didn’t belong at Yale in the first place,” the tweet read.

NYT cultural reporter Robin Pogrebin appeared alongside her colleague Kate Kelly on “The View,” where she confirmed earlier reports that she herself wrote that tweet.”

https://www.foxnews.com/media/nyt-reporter-kavanaugh-tweet

Pogrebin and Kelly have a new book about the Kavanaugh allegations and since this roll-out to their new book its quickly devolved into an embarrassing debacle.  The New York Times, the mainstream media and Democrats  leaped into another whirlwind smear campaign against Kavanaugh and it’s been imploding rapidly.

The New York Times  quickly backpedaled from the tweet, a day later, the journalists were blaming the New York Times editors for misrepresenting their story (even though Pogrebin in another interview admits she actually wrote that salacious tweet the NY Times ran), and as the conservative and Trump-aligned media began highlighting excerpts from Pogrebin and Kelly’s book, several things have become very clear.

The new allegation of sexual misconduct leveled against Kavanaugh, in this latest Dem smear campaign effort, has no credible corroboration whatsoever.  In fact, the alleged victim, did not want to be interviewed and these journalists report her close friends said she does not even recall any such incident ever happening.

There are no eye witness accounts to this alleged incident and the only source these two journalists used was a second-hand source, Max Stier, but even here these two journalists didn’t even interview him directly.  From a Howard Kurtz, at FOX News,  analysis:

After all, in an opinion-section essay adapted from their forthcoming book, reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly cited only one second-hand source. They didn’t even talk to that source, a former Yale classmate named Max Stier, directly. They got his account from two unnamed “officials” who had spoken to him.

https://www.foxnews.com/media/how-i-realized-the-n-y-times-kavanaugh-story-was-a-train-wreck

Kurtz also had this information:

“By the time I was back on the air yesterday morning, I’d gotten the first public comment from the justice’s camp. A source close to Kavanaugh said of the Times piece: “This was a disgusting effort to smear Justice Kavanaugh to sell a few books. There is nothing new here: The woman who supposedly experienced this incident does not remember it. And Senate Democrats had this information before Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed but never said a word about it.”

And it turns out another major newspaper passed on the allegations:

“The Washington Post last year confirmed that two intermediaries had relayed such a claim to lawmakers and the FBI. The Post did not publish a story in part because the intermediaries declined to identify the alleged witness and because the woman who was said to be involved declined to comment.”

There were other details—such as Max Stier being described only as a respected lawyer, but not as someone who defended Bill Clinton against sexual allegations—that felt like tipping the scales.”

https://www.foxnews.com/media/how-i-realized-the-n-y-times-kavanaugh-story-was-a-train-wreck

The two journalists have been doing the full rounds of the mainstream media trying to repackage their debunked allegation and smear based on zero corroboration and an alleged victim who doesn’t even recall any such event ever happening.

Here’s the level of absurdity with the investigation and the real “tell” –  these two journalists claim they didn’t even talk to their one named second-hand source, Max Stier, but got the information from “officials”.  They should be asked who were these so-called  “officials” and that would connect one loop in this orchestrated Dem/media smear campaign.

A word that the mainstream media and Dems toss about to bolster allegations made in their orchestrated smear campaigns is “credible”.  Assuredly, now that this latest allegation, where even the alleged victim said the incident never happened and there are no first-hand corroborating witnesses (just like the Christine Blasey-Ford, Ramirez and Swetnick allegations), as soon as the dust dies down from this latest failed smear effort, many of these same media mouthpieces and Dems will redouble their efforts to reintroduce and recast this totally bogus allegation as “credible”.  For some reason, many of these mouthpieces claim to be dedicated “journalists”…

The two authors of this latest Kavanaugh smear effort didn’t even highlight one of the most fascinating allegations in their own new book.  Mollie Hemingway, co-author of Justice On Trial, has covered the Kavanaugh confirmation and smear campaign extensively and she broke much of the news debunking this latest allegation against Kavanaugh.  She writes:

“The authors also acknowledge what had previously been reported in “Justice on Trial,” about the efforts of mutual friends to get her to change her testimony to be more supportive of Blasey Ford. The reporters say that some of Blasey Ford’s friends “had grown frustrated with Keyser. Her comments about the alleged Kavanaugh incident had been too limited, some of them felt, and did not help their friend’s case. Surely, given what a close friend Keyser had been, she could say more to substantiate Ford’s testimony and general veracity, even if she could not corroborate Ford’s more specific memories.”

A group text was formed in which friends such as Cheryl Amitay and Lulu Gonella discussed how to get her to say something more helpful to the cause. An unnamed man on the text suggested that they defame her as an addict. Keyser has been in recovery for some time, as her friends know and as has previously been reported.

Amitay answered, “Leland is a major stumbling block.” While asserting she didn’t want her to make anything up out of whole cloth, she offered ideas for things that could sound supportive of Ford’s story, such as that she’d been in similar situations with Blasey Ford that summer.

“I was told behind the scenes that certain things could be spread about me if I didn’t comply,” Keyser told the reporters, a stunning admission of the pressure to which she was subjected to by Blasey Ford’s allies.”

https://thefederalist.com/2019/09/15/new-book-christine-blasey-fords-friend-leland-keyser-doesnt-believe/

Even from the beginnings of the Dem spin smear campaigns, back during the Clinton years, reports of intimidation of witnesses emerged.  That pressure on Keyser, a Democrat, to change her story,  should be investigated. Who was the unnamed man mentioned in the text?  Who was in contact with with Amitay and Gonella directing them to pressure Leland Keyser?

As for “credible”, the two authors, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, of this latest Kavanaugh smear effort, claim to be “journalists”, yet for them lack of evidence and corroboration or even more discrediting, flat-out refutation by key witnesses gets ignored and instead Hemingway writes, “In a section explaining why they believe the accusers despite the lack of any evidence, they write that their emotional reaction to the claims was that the claims rang true.” 

These journalists prefer to trust their gut rather than facts…

We are in a strange new world where the solid meaning of words that undergird living in a fact-based world takes a backseat to propping up partisan propaganda.

 

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Filed under Corrupt Media Collusion, General Interest, Information War, Politics

Sharpiegate matters

Sitting in an area under a hurricane watch while the President of the United States is fixated on winning another Twitter battle with the media over a presidential misstatement on the hurricane’s projected pass infuriated me.  Trump insists Alabama was in the track of Hurricane Dorian.

Thankfully, my area of GA only got some wind and very little rain, but just seeing the president behave in such an undignified and unserious manner, while the Carolinas were bracing for Hurricane Dorian to hit their coast seemed surreal.  Trump went so far as to stage a hurricane briefing video in the Oval Office, where he held up a map from the National Hurricane Center, on which he drew, in black sharpie, an extension of the projection cone… going into southeastern Alabama.

Of course, the media quickly pulled up the federal law that makes it a crime to alter an official weather map, although, as my one son and I had arguments about during the Obama years and Hillary’s grossly negligent email scandal, the POTUS has the authority to do whatever he wants with information… even highly classified information.  My son insists the POTUS could decide to release all of America’s highly classified information to America’s adversaries and that is perfectly “legal”.  Trump decided to tweet a highly classified U.S. satellite photo of an Iranian launch site a week ago, which he claimed to have “the right” to do. Note: Trump had the authority (power) to release that photo, not “the right”. Rights belong to the people under our constitution and they are inalienable. Powers belong to the states and federal government.

My argument is that when “legal” involves actions that gravely jeopardize the national security of our country, then the “rule of law” no longer stands on any bedrock constitutional principles.  The law no longer means anything at that point, because it directly shreds the very oath of office the president swore to uphold and runs counter to the very principles the rule of law is built upon.

The example that comes to mind is Napoleon, one of the world’s most prolific producers of constitutions.  When Napoleon conquered any territory, he quickly had a constitution put in place… along with installing a puppet government. A constitution that isn’t girded by bedrock principles is just a piece of paper.

Today, Trump even had some rear admiral release a letter backing Trump’s Alabama assertion.  This Trump crap show will fade from public memory quickly, except for Trump bringing it up regularly and rewriting this incident to make himself out to be the victim of the media and to proclaim Alabama was threatened by Hurricane Dorian.  Trump will  assuredly rewrite this event to feed his ego and to attack the media.

What’s so disturbing to me about this situation is that Trump decided to engage in fighting the media and demanding an apology from the media, all while Hurricane Dorian is still barreling up the Atlantic coast and thousands of Americans are in the path.  This is a weather emergency situation and the POTUS is obsessed, not with providing the most accurate and timely information to Americans affected by this storm, nope he’s fixated on winning a spin battle against the media.  The truth is Trump’s spin fight isn’t part of his DUTIES as president, especially during a weather emergency involving numerous states.

It’s easy to just blow this off as another Trump vs. media spin battle and brush it off as trivial, but here’s why it matters,

The executive branch owns our national emergency response and information, so the President has a duty to manage emergency services and information.  A large part of that information responsibility centers on providing the most accurate and timely information available.  Credibility is crucial.  The president scribbling on an official weather map with a sharpie destroyed the Office of President’s credibility.  Trump’s staff sitting silently throughout this destroyed their credibility too.

The State of Alabama had to issue a statement correcting Trump’s misinformation and reassure the citizens of Alabama that the state was not under threat from Hurricane Dorian.

Few people will see anything more serious or ominous in this latest Trump sharpie map sideshow, but it’s another serious warning cloud for America.

This 24/7 scorched earth spin information war consumes Trump’s every waking moment now.  It consumed the mainstream media and Dems long ago.  In a serious national crisis, America could quickly become rudderless.   Mass panic and confusion could ensure from a gigantic information void, leaving people unsure of what information source to trust and many people refusing to trust the media or our elected leaders.

This spin war isn’t just some insignificant political media game, it’s a growing threat to America’s national security.

Without any trusted and reliable avenues of information, Americans will continue to polarize and chaos can easily be generated and “amplified” (the term the media uses), especially on social media.

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Filed under General Interest, Information War

Hurricane grumbles and book chat…

While sitting here in southeast GA waiting for Hurricane Dorian to hopefully make a turn northeast, here goes with a blog post attempt about some scattershot ponderings of mine.

First pondering –  The  modern media, modern weather reporting and modern politicizing everything,  leaves a worrier like me totally exhausted  trying  to make it through day-after-day of  evacuation notices and constant updates with Hurricane Dorian.  The media escalation started before the end of last week and now it  seems likely to dog the US until the end of this week.  The warning overload has me to the point of yearning for this stupid storm to hit, so we can just get it over with.

Second pondering deals with reading and my self-education efforts, which brought to mind a comment by former Secretary of Defence, James Mattis, while discussing his new book in an interview.  Mattis said:

The Strategy Bridge
@Strategy_Bridge
“If you haven’t read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren’t broad enough to sustain you.” – James Mattis What are you reading this weekend? #TheBridgeReads #WeekendBridge

Image

6:15 AM · Aug 31, 2019

As with just about everything in our culture today, this statement by Mattis evoked attacks against Mattis on Twitter, from partisans on both sides.  It seems like the extreme partisan voices want to tear down people more than they want to pause and look for some common ground.   

One of my favorite things to do when I visit the home of someone new for the first time is look around for reading material, to try figure out the people who live there. When I first learned of Mattis’ large book collection, the thought popped into my head that it would be very interesting to snoop around his book shelves. Even more interesting would be to have casual chats with him about books, especially find out what sparked his interest in reading.

I’ve read a lot of books over the years, but assuredly nowhere near as many as James Mattis has read. Even more than the sheer number of books though, Mattis is getting at something vastly more important than just reading.  He’s talking about reading leading to the development of critical thinking skills, which forms the core we need in principled leadership.

Several years ago, JK, a long-time commenter on my blog, recommended a helpful book, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs To Know, written by E.D. Hirsh. which can set anyone  on the path toward becoming  a well-read person.  Recently I was reading this book again and decided to work through another book, purchased many years ago, except I couldn’t find it… after searching through my books in the living room, computer room, bedrooms and in my sewing and craft room.   It will show up again, because, trust me, books rarely leave my house.

Anyway, I find a lot of older books at Thriftbooks.com and with a $10 order, shipping is free there.  I found that book there  for $4.79, so I bought it, along with two other books.  Here’s the list:

The Intellectual Devotional: Revive Your Mind,  Complete Your Education, and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class by David S. Kidder & Noah D. Oppenheimer

The Intellectual Devotional, American History, Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class by David S. Kidder & Noah D. Oppenheimer

West With The Night by Beryl Markham

These intellectual devotional books are intended to be quick daily readings (a page or so) covering a broad range of topics and often there are additional facts at the end of each entry, which can point you toward other reading on the topic you might want to explore.  Despite all my good intentions to work my way through the classics and hoping to get through the entire “five foot shelf” of books, an early 20th century Harvard president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot, compiled in 1910, as a roadmap to acquiring a liberal education, often my reading veers toward popular fiction and even, way too many historical romance novels. Eliot believed that the average reader could acquire a sound liberal education by devoting just 15 minutes a day to reading through his list of classics.

Of course, that 15 minutes a day sounds easy, but just reading classics for a certain amount of time daily doesn’t work for me, especially when it comes to trying to absorb more complicated ideas and concepts.  Last week, when ordering another JK book recommendation, Between Two Worlds: How the English Became Americans, by Malcolm Gaskill, I ordered, The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, by Susan Wise Bauer. 

If you love older books Thriftbooks works great.  I found the Bauer book in hardcover, like new condition for $6.39.  Wise offers an organized way to approach reading the classics and she has this book divided into chronologically-based lists, to help you build a base of knowledge to give you the tools to digest the other books, as you work through the lists.

In a few months, I’ll let you know how this approach works out… if I can only devote more time to studying the classics than to reading romance novels and popular fiction, lol.

My last pondering is whenever you think you’ve seen it all, something will come up on the internet, that leaves you wondering, “what the hell is she thinking?”  So, here goes with just such a Hurricane Dorian story: Florida woman wrapping home in plastic ahead of Hurricane Dorian.  I sent this news link to my daughter in TX and told her that I think the wind will likely rip that duct taped plastic off her house in minutes.  My daughter responded, “Yeah… you can’t fix stupid.”

Tomorrow is supposed to be our hurricane encounter, so the power will likely be out and I have a stack of books ready to read

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Filed under Books, Education, General Interest

Searching for our American moral compass

“The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit about the shining “city on a hill.”  The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important, because he was an early Pilgrim– an early “freedom man.” He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat, and, like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.

“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds, living in harmony and peace– a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”

True Reagan, by James Rosebush, pages 258-259,  President Reagan’s January 1989 Oval Office farewell talk.

The above quote comes from a 2016 book about President Reagan, which I found at a dollar store a couple weeks ago.  Along with this $1 Reagan book, I  sprang another $1 for David Axelrod’s book, Believer.  I already have three other books about Reagan – Peggy Noonan’s, When Character Was King, The Reagan Diaries, and An American Life (Reagan’s autobiography), so I really didn’t expect to learn much new.   I certainly didn’t need another Reagan book, but hey, it was only $1 and in this President Trump reality show style presidency, nostalgia for a calmer, more principled presidential style hits me everytime Trump tweets or engages in his daily “one man against the media mob” spin optic skirmishes with the media, which replaced the traditional White House daily press briefing.

Trump, like Reagan, has been accused of  “staging” his presidency, so I’ve been considering this comparison

Reagan did put effort into his public speaking, setting, make-up, even lighting, and he strategized about how he wanted to engage with the media during his presidency, as does Trump.

President Ronald Reagan’s communication style, from beginning to end,  brimmed with a confident, upbeat American spirit.  While offering a respectful nod to our past, Reagan’s unswerving inner compass always pointed us to a brighter American future, to an America always marching confidently forward, with our founding principles unfailingly lighting our path.

Something new, I learned about Reagan in this True Reagan book was that a book Reagan’s mother gave him when he was 11 years old helped him form a model for his own life.  Rosebush writes, the 1903 book, That Printer of Udell’s, was written by former Disciples of Christ pastor, Harold Bell Wright, a proponent of practical Christianity and the theology of good works.  This novel was a prism into the life and character Reagan created for himself.

Rosebush continued, “For Reagan, this was not a book he read and then tossed on a bookshelf.  It provided a blueprint for the life he wanted.  He not only read it several times, he recommended it to others and even brought it to Washington when he was elected President, all those years later.” (p. 33)  That Printer of Udell’s is in the public domain and can be downloaded for free here and here.

Trump runs a one-man, freewheeling reality TV presidency show, where he spews daily about “victimhood” – his own at the hands of a corrupt media and/or America’s at the hands of nefarious foreign entanglements.  Most of Trump’s impromptu battles with the press aren’t well-planned PR efforts, but instead seem to be Trump venting in impulsive tantrums, reacting to news reporting he’s watched on TV that day.   Trump leaves his own staff completely in the dark, as he prances out to engage with the media and ad lib his latest spin battle.  These ramshackle Trump pressers substitute for principled policy positions or carefully planned policy initiatives.  Trump’s daily tantrums become the latest administration “policy”.

There is no deep moral conviction to Trump’s patriotism or American ideals.  In Trump’s view, every American treaty or agreement before his presidency, by virtue of having been negotiated by US officials other than himself, was a terrible deal and is totally unfair.  Trump believes America’s greatness rests solely on his own personal greatness and his ability to cut “great” deals for America.

Back in 2015, I read Trump’s book, TRUMP: How To Get Rich, which I bought at a local antique/used junk store and I stick with that 2015 assessment of Trump’s character:

Last week I bought one of Trump’s books, as I mentioned before, and I read it.  Assuredly, Trump offered many interesting insights into, as the book’s title stated, “TRUMP: How to Get Rich”.  The pride he takes in his children comes across and he offers some worthwhile advice on investing and negotiating, but trying to get to the character of who exactly is Donald Trump, well, he’s a man who has chapters in his book like “Be Strategically Dramatic”, “Sometimes You Still Have To Screw Them”, and “Sometimes You Have To Hold a Grudge”, replete with examples from his life and his guiding principles. Here are some quotes (page 138):

“When somebody hurts you, just go after them as viciously and as violently as you can.  Like it says in the Bible, an eye for an eye.”

Be paranoid.  I know this observation doesn’t make any of us sound very good, but let’s face the fact that it’s possible that even your best friend wants to steal your spouse and your money.”

The chapter on holding a grudge is even more interesting, because Trump relates how for years he had donated huge amounts of money to NY governor, Mario Cuomo and when he called Cuomo to ask for a favor from Cuomo’s son, Andrew, who was running the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Mario Cuomo refused to do the favor (which Trump doesn’t explain in detail other than to say it was an appropriate favor involving attention to a detail). Trump blew up and for any who are confused with Trump’s vendetta against Megyn Kelly on Twitter, calling her a bimbo last night or his refusing to entertain a question by Jorge Ramos from Univision this evening, well, this chapter on holding a grudge (page 142) explains it.  Trump called in a political favor believing it was owed to him, because he donated a lot of money to Mario Cuomo  (crony capitalism is what most people call this greasing of palms).  Here is how Trump describes the phone call:

“I did the only thing that felt right to me.  I began screaming.  “You son of a bitch!  For years I’ve helped you and never asked for a thing, and when I finally need something, and a totally proper thing at that, you aren’t there for me.  You’re no good.  You’re one of the most disloyal people I’ve known and as far as I’m concerned, you can go to hell.”

My screaming was so loud that two or three people came in from adjoining offices and asked who I was screaming at.  I told them it was Mario Cuomo., a total stiff, a lousy governor, and a disloyal former friend.  Now whenever I see Mario at dinner, I refuse to acknowledge him, talk to him, or even look at him.”

When you hear Trump whining about being treated unfairly, here’s what I believe he means: If you agree with him, fawn over him and puff up his ego, that’s treating him fairly.  If you disagree or criticize him, I believe, he will wage an all out campaign to destroy you.

https://libertybellediaries.com/2015/08/25/trumps-his-own-bimbo-eruption/

Trump reveres strong men, especially despots, who wield power over the weak.  Reagan revered individual liberty, as a God-given right to all people, and he abhorred tyranny.

Reagan’s belief in America as a force for good in the world defined not just his presidency, it defined his entire life.  Reagan believed in promoting individual liberty and in clearly speaking out against the forces of tyranny and oppression everywhere.

Trump can’t even conjure up the energy to speak up for peaceful Hong Kong protestors and in fact, not only sides with President Xi, but Trump would support China’s use of force to silence the freedom protestors (that’s the truth).

These trips down memory lane can be interesting, but trying to figure out a better path, in the present, relies more on assessing the current “road conditions” than studying the roads of days gone by, I think.  That doesn’t mean we can’t learn some sound “rules of the road” from past travels, especially when it comes to understanding that the competency of the driver assures us a better chance of arriving safely at our destination, even in the most adverse road conditions.

Trump compared to Reagan… the similarities ended with both men were involved in show business.  For me, I’ll follow Reagan’s moral compass over Trump’s any day of the week.

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Filed under American History, General Interest, Politics

Ghislaine Maxwell Sent A Signal

Here’s a small Jeffrey Epstein related story, about the whereabouts of Epstein’s longtime companion/friend, Ghislaine Maxwell that caught my attention:

Jeffrey Epstein’s gal pal Ghislaine Maxwell spotted at In-N-Out Burger in first photos since his death

On Wednesday, there were numerous reports alleging that Maxwell was holed up, living in the secluded  Massachusetts coastal mansion of Scott Borgeson, a tech CEO.  Then on Thursday, voilá, this report with photos of Maxwell, nonchalantly sitting at a fast food restaurant in Los Angeles, reading a book, appeared.

This NY Post report states Maxwell hadn’t been photographed in public since 2016, which attests to her ability to disappear from the public spotlight.  And out of all the books in the world she could be photographed reading, she chose, The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives…:

“Maxwell, 57, the alleged madam to the multimillionaire pedophile, was scarfing down a burger, fries and shake al fresco at an In-N-Out Burger on Monday while reading “The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives,” a nonfiction best seller by journalist Ted Gup.

Sitting alone with a pet pooch, she was surprised to be found and told an onlooker, “Well, I guess this is the last time I’ll be eating here!”

Maxwell, accused in court papers of providing sex slaves for Epstein and engaging in threesomes with the financier and underage girls, had not been photographed in public since 2016.”

https://nypost.com/2019/08/15/jeffrey-epsteins-gal-pal-ghislaine-maxwell-spotted-at-in-n-out-burger-in-first-photos-since-his-death/

Methinks Maxwell was clearly sending a not so subtle, shot across the bow message, with her book selection.  This Epstein story will definitely get messier.

August 18, 2019:  Here’s an update on the Maxwell photos, The tantalising mystery of Ghislaine Maxwell’s burger bar ‘makeover’ as conspiracy theorists ask why she ‘took off her glasses while reading a book and had TWO drinks next to her’.

This latest article analyzing both photos raised questions that reminded me of one of those childhood hidden puzzles.  The 2nd photo interests me more.  In that photo Maxwell’s bag is moved and she’s posed with her book open in front and without her glasses on.  I wonder if careful analysis can discern what page her book is open to?  That might provide a clue, since everything about these photos was staged by Maxwell.  

August 19, 2019:  The UK Daily Mail has another update on the NY Post’s story about Maxwell in LA:

EXCLUSIVE: Ghislaine Maxwell STAGED In-N-Out photo in Los Angeles with her close friend and attorney, using confidante’s dog Dexter in the snapshot

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Filed under General Interest, Politics

Our era of living dangerously… with news reporting

Last Saturday morning news broke that Jeffrey Epstein, accused sex trafficker, had apparently committed suicide while being held in a federal prison, awaiting trial.  Investigations, we’re told, have commenced to get to the bottom of what happened.  Just a few weeks ago, it was reported that Epstein had received medical care for a failed suicide attempt.

Trusting the American news media to accurately report any story with political overtones proves more difficult  in the era where most of the news media live dangerously on social media, where they tweet and retweet each other’s “reporting” with little, to no independent fact-checking.  Our news editing gets done, in real time, on Twitter, the place America’s journalists live 24/7 to gab (and fight the #Resist spin war). 

All of the careful editing and filtering through information, before reporting news to the public now gets done – in public.  Mountains of incorrect information gets tossed onto Twitter, retweeted thousands of times (meaning the journalists lost control of the information) daily and the only accountability for tweeting incorrect, or even maliciously false information, is, “Oops, I removed that tweet.”  And on their previous false information continues to circulate.  There is zero accountability for spreading false or totally unverified information among America’s news media.

Adding to America’s widening information crisis, President Trump and many elected public officials recklessly spread false information on Twitter too.

Of course, social media erupted in conspiracy theories accusing the Clintons of having Epstein murdered, accusing Trump of having Epstein murdered and Joe Scarborough, former Republican Congressman, former Trump friend,  and now one of MSNBC’s biggest spinners of the Trump/Russia Collusion spin narrative tweeted:

Joe Scarborough
@JoeNBC

A guy who had information that would have destroyed rich and powerful men’s lives ends up dead in his jail cell. How predictably…Russian.

9:41 AM · Aug 10, 2019

This was par for the course with the conspiracy theories, even though there were very few facts asserted in the reporting.

President Trump, “great” leader that he is, rather than trying to calm the spin hysteria, tossed in more spin fuel by retweeting s tweet alleging that the Clintons had Epstein murdered.

Of course, there’s a possibility Epstein was murdered and assuredly many rich and powerful men probably desire that Epstein never be allowed to spill all of their secrets. On Friday, the news broke that the judge in the Epstein case had unsealed over 2,000 documents, leading to reports that one of the women accusing Epstein of sex trafficking alleged that Epstein flew her to have sex with former New Mexico governor, Bill Richardson, former Democratic senator, George Mitchell, and Prince Andrew of Great Britain, among others.

And then there’s the likely possibility that Epstein really did commit suicide.

The social media eruption about the Epstein news and Trump jumping into the fray, fanning the flames of conspiracy theories, seems par for the course with our media and politics subsumed into being just reactionary spin troops trying to own another spin cycle.   

Trump’s retweeting Clinton conspiracy theories assured that the mainstream media and Dems would immediately switch to attacking Trump and Trump could wallow as king of the spin sewer for another day.n this Trump vs. Dems/mainstream media scorched earth mass media spin information war, both sides slither in the sleaze… just bottom-feeder reactionaries, not noble seekers of the truth and assuredly not dedicated public servants working hard to do what’s best for America.

The truth is that Epstein’s death while in federal custody, whether by his own hands or by others, is another glaring system failure in America.  Conspiracy theories will gain more ground, because more and more Americans totally distrust the media and our elected officials.   The less people trust in our governmental and civic institutions, the easier it becomes for people to believe the worst of the people entrusted to run these institutions.

With Trump the Spinmaster-In-Chief, America truly lacks any principled leadership in the executive branch, with Congress in constant gridlock and immersed in the scorched earth spin efforts, we lack a functioning legislative body and the Epstein death casts more doubts on our justice system.  Pew Research Center in a July 22,2019 article states:

Trust is an essential elixir for public life and neighborly relations, and when Americans think about trust these days, they worry. Two-thirds of adults think other Americans have little or no confidence in the federal government. Majorities believe the public’s confidence in the U.S. government and in each other is shrinking, and most believe a shortage of trust in government and in other citizens makes it harder to solve some of the nation’s key problems.

Trust in Congress resides at rock bottom for many years now.

Trust in the media, likewise, is grinding down, where more and more people only listen and believe news reporting that fits their hyper-partisan views.

Without trust in our American justice system, our entire political system rests on very shaky ground

The instant conspiracy theories when Epstein’s death broke, speaks to total distrust in our government.  That many of the wildest conspiracy theories came from the blue checkmark crowd of news pundits, journalists and of course, the many other celebrities Twitter has deemed important voices worthy of a blue checkmark, speaks to the caliber of people whom are deemed social media influencers.

The President of the United States rushing to get in on the Twitter conspiracy tweetfest speaks volumes about, not only to Trump’s disrespect of the office he holds, it speaks to how our news media Twitterocracy, where Trump understands that the news media manufactures, in real-time, tweet-retweet storm, by tweet-retweet storm.  The TV cable news and print media report follow where the Twitter spin storms blow.

The damage from these constant spin uproars will continue to corrode American culture long after they are forgotten… which will be within a few days…  The El Paso and Dayton mass shootings happened a little over a week ago, the media has already dunked the Dayton mass shooting down the spin memory hole, because it doesn’t feed the anti-Trump and liberal anti-gun spin narratives.

In our age of social media distraction, this Epstein spin hysteria will dissipate quickly, because the frenetic pace of the news media spin cycles reflect the collapse of the American people’s attention span.  Epstein’s death will fade quickly from the social media top trending topics too,  but assuredly it will be recycled often as bits of new names and conspiracy theories trickle out.  That said, our elite journalist class reflects the rest of America’s social media dwellers.  Most seem to have the attention-span of gnats and the critical-thinking depth of a dry well… except when it comes to clinging to their partisan spin narratives.

Despite all of us having access to more information than ever before known to mankind, it sure seems to be getting harder and harder to latch onto facts as media, especially social media,  spin swirls up ever-expanding dust devils of incorrect, inaccurate and oft-times deliberate, politically-motivated disinformation.  Before we can even clear the spin dirt from our eyes as one spin cycle blows through the echo chambers of our our news media, pundits and social media, we’re blasted with another, “News Alert!”

The story of Eptain’s death will assuredly fuel many more spin dust devils, but as for me, I’m a start at the beginning of the story kind of person, so what I want to know, more than how he died, was how he really lived.  How did Epstein even become an international jet-setter, hobnobbing with the rich and powerful all over the world?  What was Epstein’s real business, because assuredly the sex trafficking, while the most salacious bit isn’t the full picture?

I strongly suspect all these rich and famous people, like President Trump, former President Bill Clinton and L Brands CEO, Les Wexner all know what Epstein’s real business was and it wasn’t just sex part.  Epstein’s lawyers made a claim that Epstein helped Bill Clinton set-up his Clinton Global Initiative.  What the help involved led to Bill Clinton taking dozens of flights with Epstein on Epstein’s private jet:

“Much of Epstein’s access to Clinton’s world also flowed through Maxwell. “The Clintons were relatively intimate with her,” a Maxwell friend said.

In 2002 and 2003, flight logs reportedly show that Bill Clinton flew on 26 flight legs on Epstein’s private jet.

“President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York,” Clinton spokesman Angel Urena said in a statement. Urena said the flight legs comprised four trips in 2002 and 2003 and that staff and Secret Service were present on all flights. Urena said Epstein visited Clinton at his Harlem office once in 2002 and that he briefly visited Epstein’s apartment one time.

Maxwell’s ties to Clintonworld, meanwhile, would last another decade.

One friend of Maxwell’s, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described their surprise upon showing up at a dinner party at her Upper East Side apartment around 2005 to find Doug Band, then a top adviser to Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, among the 8 to 10 guests. In 2006, a charity run by Epstein, C.O.U.Q. Foundation, gave $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation, the Daily Beast reported.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/21/jeffrey-epstein-trump-clinton-1424120

The media also reported Epstein had business dealings with former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barack:

“While the Israeli politician has tried to play down his ties to Jeffrey Epstein since the billionaire’s indictment on charges of child sex trafficking, Barak became a fixture of the Epstein story after Israeli outlets reported he had received more than $3 million in payments from Epstein-connected institutions since 2004.

The former prime minister was also photographed leaving Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion in 2016 and has acknowledged visiting the billionaire’s private Caribbean island, where Epstein is accused of hosting orgies with underage girls.

Barak has repeatedly denied any knowledge of Epstein’s alleged crimes and maintains he never so much as talked to the financier in the presence of underage women. In a previous interview with The Daily Beast, Barak said he was first introduced to the financier by Israeli leader Shimon Peres in 2002, and saw Epstein only “on occasion” after that.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/jeffrey-epstein-israeli-politician-ehud-barak-often-crashed-at-his-manhattan-apartment-neighbors-say

Other media reports link the Saudi heir to the throne to Epstein, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York and so the Epstein list of “friends” goes.

How about the media begin at the beginning of this Epstein saga and figure out exactly what Epstein’s business dealings were and get to the full scope of Jeffrey Epstein’s connections to the rich and famous, because assuredly in death, all of these people who had business dealings with Epstein will claim, “Jeffrey Epstein?  Hardly knew that guy.”

END OF STORY.

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Finding hope amidst the carnage

There were two mass shootings in America within 24 hours, one in El Paso, Texas, yesterday and one in Dayton, OH, in the wee hours of the morning today.

Yesterday, when the El Paso story broke, I was watching a stupid sci-fi movie, Idiocracy, which one of my sons insisted I would love (I didn’t).  In that movie, set hundreds of years into the future, America’s gene pool and culture had declined dramatically, where the English language had eroded into gibberish and mindless slogans, education had been demonized and the American system had descended into chaos, and corruption,  with a WWF type star running the country.

A male and female from the present were frozen in a top secret military experiment, where they were supposed to be awakened in the near future, but they ended up being frozen for several hundred years.  When these two average people awakened they found themselves,literally, the smartest people in the world.  The man had been a dud in the Army, who did nothing to distinguish himself as a soldier, while the woman had been a prostitute, who was conned into being a part of the experiment.

The movie Idiocracy was made in 2006 and here we are in 2019 with a WWF type star as president and most days the mindless spin word games leave me wondering what the heck happened to America.

In 2019 America, the media news cycles are largely driven by the blue checkmark crowd of political and thought leaders who drive the media spin cycles on Twitter.  President Trump also uses his Twitter account to drive spin cycles.  We live, not in an Idiocracy, but a Twitterocracy. News Media people and politicos on Twitter drive the other American news formats, especially the cable TV spin cycles.

Today’s reporting has been a mix of law enforcement reporting updates, reports on the victims, pundits and politicians assigning blame for the shootings (well beyond the two shooters) and as can always be expected massive politicization, before the bodies of the murder victims are even cold. It’s a rather ghoulish national media and political spectacle.

At the end of the day, it appears the El Paso shooter was motivated by white nationalist sentiments and the Dayton. OH shooter was an Elizabeth Warren supporter, Satanist and anti-gun violence advocate (try making sense of that, if you can). My personal opinion is what likely motivates these killers is probably a complex combination of factors, like mental illness, erosion of family, decay of civic culture, social alienation, violent culture, malign online groups that fuel hate.  Of course, America’s 24/7 scorched earth spin war, which the media avidly aids and abets, certainly probably could be a contributing factor too.

My point is, it’s doubtful we can pinpoint one specific cause, even though many people want some specific cause, that they can fixate on as the source of the evil, because it’s much easier to believe that, “if we only got rid of that cause, that would fix the problem”.  For many on the Left, Trump is the cause and removing Trump from office is the solution.  For many others on the Left, the cause is guns and more gun laws will fix the problem.

I’ve never owned a firearm in my life and never want to own one.  I understand the strong views of people on both sides of the 2nd Amendment debates and constant battles over gun laws.  That said, sure there might be some more gun laws that might keep guns out of mass shooters hands, but at this point enough details aren’t known about these two mass shooting incidents to have a calm debate about whether the law the Democrats are hyping today would have had any impact on either of these two shootings.

The reality  that the “causes” are complex and there  isn’t some magical, easy-fix political solution to end these mass shootings, particularly those carried out by white nationalists, who are reported to be using online forums to radicalize and spread their racist ideology, ramp up racial fear and incite rage, doesn’t sit well with many Americans.  People like believing there are political solutions to slaying violent ideologies (see all the true-believers that American military might could destroy radical Islamist ideology).

This is just my opinion, but positive cultural changes in America begin in the hearts of good citizens, good neighbors, and strong families.  We can all work toward that end, in our own small ways.  Each tiny effort can begin the change.  Of course, having strong leaders in America, from all walks of life, working to spread calm and  positive messages, instead of turning everything in America into a vicious political battle, would help a great deal too, but judging from most of the Twitterocracy thought leaders, and partisan political peeps, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that happening.

And here we come to President Trump and his endless ginning up anger and flirting with white nationalists in his rhetoric.  While I don’t believe it’s fair or productive to run around calling him a racist or white nationalist, he has never come out and tried to distance himself from white supremacist or denounced their hate-filled ideology.  As the person holding the biggest megaphone in America, it’s way past time for him to strongly denounce white nationalism and white supremacy ideology.

The best thing the news media could do for America is abandon their cozy spin nest on Twitter and get back to reporting who, what, when, when, why and how, instead of being major players in the partisan spin wars, which churns out of the Twitterocracy every day in America.  Yes, even Trump knows Twitter drives the American news cycles in America and propels the Left’s spin narratives, which is why he clings to his personal Twitter account.

And the best thing each of us average citizens can do is try to take care of our families, our friends, our communities and pray that each small drop of kindness adds up to large enough waves to begin changing the tide in our country.

Finding hope amidst the carnage won’t be easy,  but we could each resolve to spread some kind words and work to do some good deeds… that’s a start.

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