Archives for category: Freedom of the Press

Neo-Nazis and white nationalists are overjoyed by Trump referring to himself as a “nationalist.” Hate crimes have surged since Trump’s election. His rhetoric has encouraged the haters, the racists, and the anti-Semites to emerge into the open. Now they have a leader who welcomes their support.

“White supremacists are saying they were winners in last week’s midterm elections.

“They were already emboldened by the language used by President Donald Trump and senior members of his administration — words like “nationalist” and “invasion” that have hateful dual meanings — according to a review of sites frequented by white supremacists. And they saw Tuesday’s results as a victory for white America with what they believe will be progress toward a border wall, an end to DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, and birthright citizenship.

“Memes and commentary on the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer site bashed nonwhite candidates who did not win, as well as losses by Republicans not seen as Trump loyalists.

“”This changed history. It cleared away any of the remaining fog of confusion about what exactly we are dealing with in this country,” Daily Stormer founder and publisher Andrew Anglin wrote. “This is a race war. Period.”

“What is not clear is if any extremists will follow words with violence, as allegedly happened with Robert Bowers, who has pleaded not guilty to killing 11 people at a synagogue late last month, allegedly because he believed Jews were helping “invaders.”

We will get through this dark period in our national life. But it will require all of us who believe in American ideals of justice, equality before the law, respect for others, and basic human decency to stand up and be counted, to organize, to resist and to persist until this national nightmare has gone away and the rats are back in their holes.

Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey and never came out.

A note from Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor

I received this column from Jamal Khashoggi’s translator and assistant the day after Jamal was reported missing in Istanbul. The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for. I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.

The last Column:

I was recently online looking at the 2018 “Freedom in the World” report published by Freedom House and came to a grave realization. There is only one country in the Arab world that has been classified as “free.” That nation is Tunisia. Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait come second, with a classification of “partly free.” The rest of the countries in the Arab world are classified as “not free.”

As a result, Arabs living in these countries are either uninformed or misinformed. They are unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the region and their day-to-day lives. A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change.

The Arab world was ripe with hope during the spring of 2011. Journalists, academics and the general population were brimming with expectations of a bright and free Arab society within their respective countries. They expected to be emancipated from the hegemony of their governments and the consistent interventions and censorship of information. These expectations were quickly shattered; these societies either fell back to the old status quo or faced even harsher conditions than before.

My dear friend, the prominent Saudi writer Saleh al-Shehi, wrote one of the most famous columns ever published in the Saudi press. He unfortunately is now serving an unwarranted five-year prison sentence for supposed comments contrary to the Saudi establishment. The Egyptian government’s seizure of the entire print run of a newspaper, al-Masry al Youm, did not enrage or provoke a reaction from colleagues. These actions no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community. Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation quickly followed by silence.

Valerie Strauss was dumbfounded by the irony of Betsy DeVos’s speech on Constitution Day.

First, she criticized colleges “for abandoning truth.”

“What she didn’t say was that the president for whom she works utters, on average, more than eight lies a day, according to The Washington Post. His mistruths and exaggerations have become a central feature of his presidency, reported on virtually every day.

“President Trump isn’t the only member of his administration who has been caught abandoning the truth, of course.

“To name just a few: former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI; former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI; Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, who pleaded guilty to crimes including campaign finance violations related to hush money paid to women who allegedly had affairs with Trump. Et cetera.”

Then, she complained that the nation’s schools were failing to teach civics.

“DeVos expressed such pronounced concern about a lack of civics education that you might be surprised to learn that her Education Department sought to cut money for it in the 2018 and 2019 budget proposals. Congress refused to go along.”

Of course, she went on about protecting the Constitution but here is what she did not mention.

“There’s something ironic about DeVos talking about a First Amendment right when she and the administration she works for seem not terribly concerned about another First Amendment right, freedom of the press.

“Putting aside Trump’s constant attacks on the news media as being the “enemy of the people,” the Education Department under DeVos often does not respond to journalists who ask basic questions, and the secretary herself rarely talks to reporters.

“The department also has been aggressive in finding internal leakers of unclassified information. Last year, DeVos asked her agency’s Office of Inspector General to investigate whether grounds existed to criminally prosecute employees who had leaked unclassified information and data to journalists. It cited three incidents, between May and October 2017, in which there appeared to be unauthorized release of information, including publication by The Washington Post of material from the department’s budget proposal before it was publicly released.”

Unclassified information!

Peter Greene writes here about a speech that Betsy DeVos gave at the National Constitution Center, defending free speech and truth.

“The final stretch of her speech is remarkably like the home stretch of a sermon. Get out from behind your twitter id and recognize you are talking to real, live human beings. We aren’t all saints. DeVos actually admits to having had some bad ideas. She (or someone in her office) turns some nice phrases, like a call for meeting with “open words and open dialogue, not with closed fists or closed minds.” And she calls to embrace a “Golden rule of free speech: seeking to understand as to be understood.”

“There is so much cognitive dissonance to process here. DeVos works for a man who exemplifies the opposite of everything she is saying. And there is very little one can point to in her own conduct, her own filling of the USED office, to show her stated beliefs in action. What exactly has DeVos done to understand the public education system and the people who are committed to what she once called a “dead end.” What has she done to understand the teachers who work in public schools? What has she done to understand any of her critics since she took office? Or, after all these years, is she comfortable in the belief that she knows everything she needs to know about all those things.”

Julian Vasquez Heilig reports that Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to ban for-profit charters. This is very good news. In 2015,he vetoed such a bill.

Now, here’s hoping that the Legislature can pass (and the governor will sign) a bill requiring accountability and transparency in all charters, including a ban on nepotism and conflicts of interest.

The momentum for this legislation was reignited by great reporting on K12 Inc. by reporter Jesse Calefati of the San Jose Mercury News in 2016. Give credit where it is due. Be thankful for freedom of the press!


An ally in California says this is not as big a deal as it seems. She writes:

“I just can’t understand all of the excitement about this given that there really aren’t any for profit charters left in CA anyway. This bill was approved by the Callifornia Charter Schools Association who were already celebrating and promoting that there are no for profit charters in CA. For profit charters have never really been an issue in CA, we have barely had any in the past. Of course, the vast majority of online charters contract to k12 and we all know they are a huge profit machine.”

One of Donald Trump’s favorite lines at campaign rallies is that the free press is “the enemy of the people.”

Today, newspapers across the nation are publishing editorials in support of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Someone should read that Amendment out loud to Trump because he may never have read it or even heard about it.

He names and shames journalists who are in cages at the back of his events, inviting his followers to jeer them.

Polls show that most Americans don’t agree with him, but almost half of all Republicans do. That helps to account for the shrinking number of people who call themselves Republicans. If the responsible leaders of the GOP (if there are any) don’t speak up and risk the wrath of Dear Leader, the GOP will become the Trump party, the party of racism, greed, and stupidity, allied with Putin and Kim and other autocrats.

This is what the Boston Globe wrote today in defense of freedom of the press.

It is probably behind a pay wall. Maybe not.

Here is some of what it wrote (sorry I can’t include the poll numbers showing the difference between Democrats, Republicans, and Independents on these issues):

Replacing a free media with a state-run media has always been a first order of business for any corrupt regime taking over a country. Today in the United States we have a president who has created a mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current US administration are the “enemy of the people.” This is one of the many lies that have been thrown out by this president, much like an old-time charlatan threw out “magic” dust or water on a hopeful crowd.

For more than two centuries, this foundational American principle has protected journalists at home and served as a model for free nations abroad. Today it is under serious threat. And it sends an alarming signal to despots from Ankara to Moscow, Beijing to Baghdad, that journalists can be treated as a domestic enemy.

The press is necessary to a free society because it does not implicitly trust leaders — from the local planning board to the White House. And it’s not a coincidence that this president — whose financial affairs are murky and whose suspicious pattern of behavior triggered his own Justice Department to appoint an independent counsel to investigate him — has tried so hard to intimidate journalists who provide independent scrutiny.

There was once broad, bipartisan, intergenerational agreement in the United States that the press played this important role. Yet that view is no longer shared by many Americans. “The news media is the enemy of the American people,” is a sentiment endorsed by 48 percent of Republicans surveyed this month by Ipsos polling firm. That poll is not an outlier. One published this week found 51 percent of Republicans considered the press “the enemy of the people rather than an important part of democracy.”

Trump’s attack feedback loop helps explain why his faithful are following him into undemocratic territory. More than a quarter of Americans now say that “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior,” including 43 percent of Republicans. Thirteen percent of those surveyed thought that “President Trump should close down mainstream news outlets, like CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times.”

Trump can’t outlaw the press from doing its job here, of course. But the model of inciting his supporters in this regard is how 21st-century authoritarians like Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan operate; you don’t need formal censorship to strangle a supply of information.

Trump’s apologists feebly insist that he is referring only to biased coverage, rather than the entire fourth estate. But the president’s own words and long track record show again and again just how deeply cynical and dishonest this argument is.

The nation’s Founding Fathers took for granted that the press would be biased and yet they still explicitly enshrined the freedom of journalists and publishers in the Constitution. “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost,” wrote Thomas Jefferson.

American politicians of all parties since the Founders have groused about the media, trying to work the refs by arguing that the news is biased against their tribe. But there was always respect for the press as an institution. It was not that long ago that Ronald Reagan proclaimed, “Our tradition of a free press as a vital part of our democracy is as important as ever.”

“The press was to serve the governed, not the governors,” Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote in 1971. Would that it were still the case. Today, the only media that Trump’s movement accepts as legitimate are those that unquestioningly advocate for its leader personally.

Indeed, it is not just that the president is stoking domestic division for political and personal gain, he’s asking his audiences to follow him into Fantasia. “Just stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” he told an audience in Kansas last month. “Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” George Orwell put it more gracefully in his novel “1984.” “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

It is an essential endpoint to Trump’s deluge of dishonesty that he now contests objective reality and urges his supporters to do the same. In the first 558 days of his presidency, Trump made 4,229 false or misleading claims, according to a list compiled by The Washington Post. Yet among Trump supporters, only 17 percent think that the administration regularly makes false claims. “Alternative facts” have become de facto.

Lies are antithetical to an informed citizenry, responsible for self-governance. The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful. To label the press “the enemy of the people” is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries.

Reader John Ogozalek wrote this:

A new Ipsos poll highlights the fact that an alarming number of Americans believe that President Trump should have the power to close down media outlets.

Overall, a QUARTER of the respondents (26%) in the survey agree that the president should be able shutter news outlets engaging in “bad behavior”. A very troubling 13% overall feel that even “mainstream” news sources, such as the New York Times and CNN, should fall under the president’s control, too.

Ipsos calls that 13% statistic “reassuring”. I sure as hell don’t. That means that more than 1 out of 10 people you might walk past on the street hold views that are so far outside the mainstream of our nation’s political history and culture, that you have to wonder what country their brains are inhabiting. So many of our citizens seem to be worried these days about illegal immigrants and their children -while the real danger to our republic is…THEM, not the immigrants. It could be your neighbor, the friendly guy who has been mowing the same yard for 40 years who holds this sort of authoritarian view. And, what does this idea of media “bad behavior” mean anyway?

Especially disturbing is the breakdown in the findings between Republicans and Democrats. 23% of the Republicans would give President Trump the authority to padlock the doors to sources like The Washington Post. 8% of Democrats agree with this lunacy. (43% of Republicans agree with the overall idea of more presidential power over media sources in general.) WHAT THE HELL?

Do these citizens who answered the poll in this way even understand the basics of their country’s constitution? These people sound perfectly willing to throw away their own freedom. My God, what a mess.

Sure, there are plenty of culprits to blame for this shocking example of civic ignorance.

But I have to wonder if me and my fellow social studies educators deserve at least some small part of the blame, too. I’ve taught history and government for 30 years. Is this one of the results of my life work? A country unraveling before my very eyes?

Maybe we social studies teachers have been WAY too busy getting students ready for the next standardized test and not focusing enough on what really counts? I don’t know…

So… sure, 85% of the respondents in the poll support the abstract concept of “freedom of the press”. But what does that concept mean in real life -not as some multiple choice question? Through the years, for example, the test taking mavens in New York State have loved putting Peter Zenger on the 11th grade U.S. History Regents Exam. I guess it makes them feel good. But what does Zenger’s fight for a free press REALLY mean? Huge numbers, thousands of students keep passing this required Regents each year but obviously something is missing here….. everything is NOT all right.

It is a very depressing news, that’s for sure.

What the hell is “bad behavior”? And, do these citizens who answered the poll in this way even understand the basics of their country’s constitution? These people sound perfectly willing to throw away their own freedom. My God, what a mess.

Sure, there are plenty of culprits to blame for this shocking example of civic ignorance.

But I have to wonder if me and my fellow social studies educators deserve at least some small part of the blame, too. I’ve taught history and government for 30 years. Is this one of the results of my life work? A country unraveling before my very eyes?

Maybe we social studies teachers have been WAY too busy getting students ready for the next standardized test and not focusing enough on what really counts? I don’t know…

It is a very depressing headline, that’s for sure.

-John O.

During and since his campaign, Trump has urged his rabid followers to view the press with hatred and contempt. Reporters at his rallies feel endangered by his belligerence. Who can forget the time he tweeted a short video showing him (the bully) beating up an anonymous person labeled CNN? And his absurd claim that the free press is “the enemy of the people,” a phrase first used by Stalin to label those he planned to exterminate?

I’m not blaming him for the massacre of five journalists at the Capitol-Gazette in Annapolis. He does, however, have to take responsibility for the atmosphere his hatred for the press has generated. Words have consequences. I am accusing him of a direct assault on the First Amendment, which explicitly defends freedom of the press. If nothing else, he is guilty of incitement to attack the press.

Denis Smith writes movingly here about a recent visit to Annapolis, where people are still in shock about the murders. He includes some of Trump’s most incendiary personal attacks on journalists covering him.

Please read this article by Bill Becker, journalist and environmentalist, about the state of the free press, which has deteriorated since Trump took power.

“A democracy does not work without a well-informed citizenry with access to a free flow of information. Yet the United States ranks only 45th in the world in press freedom, according to this year’s evaluation by Reporters Without Borders (RWB). The 44 countries with better-informed citizens include not only Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands, but also Estonia, Surinam, Ghana, Latvia, Cyprus Namibia, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Romania.

“Why does the United States rank so low?

“U.S. press freedom…has been under increasing attack over the past few years,” RWB explained, “and the first year of President Donald J. Trump’s presidency has fostered further decline in journalists’ right to report. He has declared the press an ‘enemy of the American people’ in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists, attempted to block White House access to multiple media outlets, and routinely uses the term ‘fake news’ in retaliation for critical reporting. He has even called for revoking certain media outlets’ broadcasting licenses. The violent anti-press rhetoric from the highest level of the US government has been coupled with an increase in the number of press freedom violations at the local level as journalists run the risk of arrest for covering protests or simply attempting to ask public officials questions. Reporters have even been subject to physical assault while on the job.”

“We might not think that with its cute little bird logo, Twitter could be weaponized, but Trump uses it to punish anyone who dares to critique, correct or contradict him. He also uses it to intimidate the members of Congress who are supposed to keep a president from abusing his office. One Republican congressman known to dislike Trump reportedly holds back his criticism because “one tweet could kill me”. Kurt Bardella, a former congressional aid and spokesman for Breitbart, told Slate magazine, “I wish more than anyone that there would be more courage demonstrated by Republican members of Congress in speaking out against what I think they know is wrong. But they lack the fortitude to do so.”…

“If Trump’s rhetoric does indeed create an atmosphere that encourages mentally unbalanced individuals to do bad things, the most generous explanation is that he does not fully appreciate the power of a president’s words. The least generous explanation is that he understands that power well and use it with intentional recklessness to fire up his base. Either way, members of Congress should put on their big boy and big girl pants and as difficult as it will be, do what’s necessary to tone the president down. “

Sadly, it is not going to happen. Trump has sucked the spine out of the GOP. It is his party now. He owns it. They are his minions. Weak and willing. Spineless, gutless, heartless.

Now is a time when civility is needed more than ever, to keep our society from falling into hostile and warring camps.

It is easy to call for civility but the lead should come from the President, and he is a model of incivility.

Donald Trump is the rudest, crudest, most publicly vicious person in memory to sit in the White Gouse. His trademark is insulting others, alive or dead, Democrat or Republican. He regularly insults John McCain, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and anyone else he chooses. In Montana a few days ago, he ridiculed George H.W. Bush’s call for volunteering and community service:

“Trump said people get the meaning of his slogans, “Make America Great Again” and “Putting America First.” Then he added: “Thousand Points of Light. I never quite got that one. What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out?””

No, he can’t ever understand the thought of service or compassion or caring. Those words are not in his vocabulary. If you are not loyal to him, you are his enemy. Expect scorn and abuse.

Now the people who work for him and serve at his pleasure and defend his evil actions find that they are objects of scorn wherever they go. They call for civility for themselves but apparently it never occurs to them that they should ask their boss (or father) to be civil.

Evil begets evil. Incivility begets incivility. Kindness begets kindness.

Trump’s aides are reaping the meanness that he is sowing.

Just after arriving in Washington to work for President Trump, Kellyanne Conway found herself in a downtown supermarket, where a man rushing by with his shopping cart sneered, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Go look in the mirror!”

“Mirrors are in aisle 9 — I’ll go get one now,” Conway recalled replying. She brushed off the dart with the swagger of someone raised in the ever-attitudinal trenches of South Jersey. “What am I gonna do? Fall apart in the canned vegetable aisle?”

For any new presidential team, the challenges of adapting to Washington include navigating a capital with its own unceasing rhythms and high-pitched atmospherics, not to mention a maze of madness-inducing traffic circles.

Yet for employees of Donald J. Trump — the most singularly combative president of the modern era, a man who exists in his own tweet-driven ecosystem — the challenges are magnified exponentially, particularly in a predominantly Democratic city where he won only 4 percent of the vote.

“For as long as the White House has existed, its star occupants have inspired a voluble mix of demonstrations, insults and satire. On occasion, protesters have besieged the homes of presidential underlings, such as Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s political strategist, who once looked out his living room window to find several hundred protesters on his lawn.

“Yet what distinguishes the Trump era’s turbulence is the sheer number of his deputies — many of them largely anonymous before his inauguration — who have become the focus of planned and sometimes spontaneous public fury.

“Better be better!” a stranger shouted at Stephen Miller, a senior Trump adviser and the architect of his zero-tolerance immigration policy, as he walked through Dupont Circle a few months ago. Miller’s visage subsequently appeared on “Wanted” posters someone placed on lampposts ringing his City Center apartment building.

“One night, after Miller ordered $80 of takeout sushi from a restaurant near his apartment, a bartender followed him into the street and shouted, “Stephen!” When Miller turned around, the bartender raised both middle fingers and cursed at him, according to an account Miller has shared with White House colleagues.

“Outraged, Miller threw the sushi away, he later told his colleagues.

“On Saturday, as Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s former strategist, browsed at an antiquarian bookstore in Richmond, a woman in the shop called him a “piece of trash.” The woman left after Nick Cooke, owner of Black Swan Books, told her he would call the police.

“We are a bookshop. Bookshops are all about ideas and tolerating different opinions and not about verbally assaulting somebody, which is what was happening,” Cooke told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which first reported the incident.

“The cast of “Hamilton” delivered a message to Vice President-elect Mike Pence from stage after he watched the show at Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York. (Twitter/Hamilton via Storyful)
“Steve Bannon was simply standing, looking at books, minding his own business,” Cooke told the paper.

“While he was a part of the president’s team, Bannon dealt with life in Washington, a city he freely described as enemy territory, by hiring security and rarely venturing out in public. When Bannon traveled, it was usually aboard a private plane.

“For a time, a sign on the front steps of his Capitol Hill address read, “STOP.”

“Most of the interactions that Trump’s well-known aides have with strangers amount to nothing more than posing for selfies. But his advisers have also found themselves subjected to a string of embarrassing public spankings, a litany that began even before he took office.

“Before Vice President Pence’s swearing-in, his neighbors in Chevy Chase, where he was renting a house, hung rainbow banners to protest his opposition to equal rights for gay men and lesbians. When Pence went to the musical “Hamilton” in New York, the actor playing Aaron Burr concluded the evening by announcing from the stage that he was afraid that Trump wouldn’t “uphold our inalienable rights.”

“A White House reporter, once on the phone with Sean Spicer while the then-press secretary was standing in his yard in Alexandria, said he could hear a passing motorist shouting curses at him. By then, Spicer had become a regular inspiration for mockery on “Saturday Night Live,” along with Trump, Conway, and Bannon.

“Spicer said he spent his free time at home in those days because he didn’t want to deal with strangers’ interruptions — friendly or not.

“We were very deliberate about what we did and where we went because of the increasing notoriety,” Spicer said. “When we went out, the goal was not to make a spectacle.”

“More recently, Trump appointees have starred in a flurry of in-your-face encounters that ricochet around social media for days on end.

“A week ago, it was a Sidwell Friends teacher who interrupted her lunch at Teaism in Penn Quarter to tell Scott Pruitt — eating with an aide a few feet away — that he should resign as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

“By last Thursday morning, nearly half a million viewers had clicked on a video of the confrontation that the teacher, Kristin Mink, had posted on Facebook. By late Thursday afternoon, Pruitt quit.

“I would say it’s burning people out,” said Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s former communications director. “I just think there’s so much meanness, it’s causing some level of, ‘What do I need this for?’ And I think it’s a recruiting speed bump for the administration. To be part of it, you’ve got to deal with the incoming of some of this viciousness.”

“On at least two occasions, demonstrators have assembled outside the Kalorama home of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Both like to attend early-morning spin classes at Flywheel, a nearby studio, where the room goes dark when the class starts — the better to pedal unobserved.

“At the conclusion of a recent session, Kushner, a baseball cap pulled down over his face, headed quickly outside to a chauffeur-driven SUV that whisked him away.

“The president himself leads a cloistered existence, never visiting a restaurant or golf club other than the ones he owns or controls. Reared in New York’s indelicate political culture, Trump does not like to appear meek, using rallies and his Twitter account to lacerate rivals.

“In recent weeks, say senior administration officials, Trump has voiced dissatisfaction with aides who have backed down during public confrontations, including his spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Virginia last month by the establishment’s owner.

“Two weeks ago, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen walked out of a downtown Mexican restaurant after demonstrators followed her inside to rail against the administration for separating children from migrant parents.

“Shame!” the protesters shouted while Nielsen remained in her seat, her head down as she typed messages on her smartphone.

“Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker and Trump ally, said the way to end the public confrontations is “to call the police.”

“You file charges and you press them,” Gingrich said. “We have no reason to tolerate barbarians trying to impose totalitarian behavior by sheer force, and we have every right to defend ourselves.”

“He described the president’s opponents as those who “went through a psychotic episode and are having the political equivalent of PTSD. And when they wake up in the morning to the genius that Trump is, he tweets and they say, ‘Oh my God! He’s still president!’ And they get sicker.”

“Referring to Trump’s advisers, Gingrich said, “They should take solace in the fact that we must be winning, since these people are so crazy. They used to be passive because they thought they were the future. Now they know we’re the future, and it’s driving them nuts.””

This is an administration that thrives on hatred and divisiveness. An administration whose leaders insults Muslims, Mexicans, and anyone who didn’t vote for him.

The only way to end the incivility is to vote him and his toadies out of Office.

It is not the responsibility of the targets of his insults to be civil. It is his responsibility to grow up, act like a person of decency, show respect for those on the other side of issues.

But by now we know that’s asking too much. As his advisors say, “Let Trump Be Trump.” Let him continue to foam at the mouth and lob insults, hostility, and ridicule at everyone who displeases him. He has hatred in his heart. He loves only himself and money. Everyone else is collateral damage in his demand for obeisance. Flatter him if you want his favor. His ego is never satisfied. He is a tyrant. He never read a book, and I doubt that he ever read the Constitution.

There is no excuse not to vote in 2018 and 2020. This troglodyte is tearing our country apart.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post is one of my favorite columnists. My only disagreement with this column is that he thinks we are not threatened by fascism. I have concluded that Trump’s racist, corporatist ideology, meshed with his demogogic rhetoric, looks, sounds, and feels like fascism.

He wrote this great column.

In case it is behind a paywall:

Every 75 years or so in our history, Americans have renewed their commitment to freedom.

Divide our history into thirds, and you can see, at regular intervals, a rededication to our founding doctrine. In 1789, the framers drafted the Bill of Rights. Seventy-four years later, at the turning point in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called for “a new birth of freedom” to honor those who died.
Seventy-eight years after that, on the eve of U.S. entry into world war in 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the “four freedoms.”

That was 77 years ago, and we are due for another renewal. Neither fascism nor civil war threatens us, but Americans are united in fear. Much of the country fears the loss of basic freedoms under President Trump: free speech, press and religion, due process and control over their bodies. Trump, meanwhile, foments fears among his followers of crime, gangs, immigrants and civil servants. And Americans of all beliefs fear they are losing the American Dream and its promise of economic mobility.

Trump’s opponents are seemingly confused about how to respond in this election year. Do they appeal to whites or nonwhites, progressives or moderates, move to the left to rally the “base” or hew to the center to capture the swing voters? Should they make an economic argument or a social argument, target those concerned about jobs or those angry about the president?

These are false choices, though, because our salvation will be what it always has been. On this 242nd birthday of the United States, let’s rededicate ourselves to freedom:

Freedom from Trump’s constant attacks on women, immigrants, people of color, gay people and Muslims.

Freedom to work and live without discrimination, harassment and violence because of your gender, race or religion.

Freedom to get medical care when you or your children are sick.

Freedom to earn a living wage, to attend college or get job training, and to retire in security.

Freedom from a rigged economy in which the top 1 percent own more than the bottom 90 percent combined.

Freedom to marry whom you choose.

Freedom to make decisions about your own body.

Freedom to send your kids to school without fear for their safety.

Freedom to breathe clean air, to drink clean water, to live on a habitable planet.

Freedom to elect your leaders without the rich, or foreign governments, choosing them for you.

And freedom to speak, to protest and to publish without the threat of violence.

Not only do such ideas unify the left (far more than quibbling about, say, which form of universal health care is best or what exactly should be done with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), but freedom appeals broadly to Americans regardless of politics. Ask us what it means to be American, and you will get one answer above all others: “to be free.”

Conservatives long claimed ownership of it. (Remember Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and freedom fries?) But Trump has essentially ceded the freedom agenda to his opponents. One measure, using a database of his speeches, tweets and ­Q&As, finds that he has used the word “freedom” 72 times this year (often dismissively, as in “we need freedom of the press, but . . .”). That’s far less than he has used, say, “respect” (252), “strong” (502), “win” (306), “border” (617), “taxes” (158), “Democrat” (560), “kill” (159), “country” (1,288), “illegal” (127), “crime” (250) and “great” (2,826).

IThis isn’t just a linguistic de-emphasis of freedom; Trump has made common cause with dictators and played down human rights abroad while starting a trade war with democratic allies. At home he has questioned due process for refugees, taken immigrant children from their parents, imposed a travel ban on several Muslim-majority nations and declared the media the enemy of the American people. He is now poised to shift the balance on the Supreme Court away from abortion rights and gay rights.

In a very real sense, the fight against Trump is a battle for freedom.

He hopes to make the midterm elections about sanctuary cities, MS-13, a socialist takeover, the “deep state,” a corrupt justice system and immigrants “invading and infesting’’ America. Rather than join him in the fear chamber, progressives and Democrats ought to respond with a variation of what FDR proposed for the world in a very different context in 1941, “freedom of speech and expression,” “freedom of every person to worship God in his own way,” “freedom from want” and — of new significance now — “freedom from fear.”

“This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women,” Roosevelt said, “and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God.”
This faith sustained America through those dark times. It will not fail us in our 243rd year.


After the latest round of budget cuts, the editorial staff at the Denver Post took the unusual step of denouncing the newspaper’s owners, a hedge fund in New York City.

The owners are “vulture capitalists,” said the front-page editorial. It was a plea for new ownership.

This is a remarkable story of journalists fighting back about the slow death of a major newspaper, at the risk of their jobs.

Hedge fund managers are cold-blooded about extracting profit. Tradition, loyalty, years of service, significance to the community: none of this matters.

The Washington Post has adopted a new slogan: “Democracy dies in darkness.”

A free press is vital to our democracy, but media consolidation is threatening the number of free voices, of people who don’t read from a script dictated by management.

Open the link if you can, to see the front page. What a remarkable show of integrity:

“The Denver Post is in open revolt against its owner.

Angry and frustrated journalists at the 125-year-old newspaper took the extraordinary step this weekend of publicly blasting its New York-based hedge-fund owner and making the case for its own survival in several articles that went online Friday and are scheduled to run in The Post’s Sunday opinion section.

“News matters,” the main headline reads. “Colo. should demand the newspaper it deserves.”

The bold tactic was born out of a dissatisfaction not uncommon in newsrooms across the country as newspapers grapple with the loss of revenue that has followed the decline of print.

The move at The Post followed a prolonged, slow-burning rebellion at The Los Angeles Times, where journalists agitated against the paper’s owner, the media company Tronc. Newsroom complaints about Tronc’s leadership helped lead to the sale of the newspaper to a billionaire medical entrepreneur, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who had been a major shareholder in Tronc.

For many publications that do not attract a patron-like owner, however, the difficult times are likely to continue, and midsize newspapers have been hit especially hard. Hoping to avoid the slow trudge to irrelevance or bankruptcy, the Denver paper took the stuff of newsroom conversation and made it public in dramatic fashion.
The lead editorial pulled no punches, describing executives at Alden Global Capital, the paper’s hedge-fund owner, as “vulture capitalists.”

“We call for action,” the editorial continued. It went on to make the case that “Denver deserves a newspaper owner who supports its newsroom. If Alden isn’t willing to do good journalism here, it should sell The Post to owners who will.”

The Post, which serves a city of some 700,000 residents, has a weekday circulation of an estimated 170,000 and 8.6 million unique monthly visitors to its website. It has won nine Pulitzer Prizes, including in 2013 for its coverage of the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Alden Global Capital took control of the paper in 2010 after acquiring its bankrupt parent company, MediaNews Group, and runs it through a subsidiary, Digital First Media.

Chuck Plunkett, The Post’s editorial page editor, masterminded the package of articles that, in part, rebuked the ownership of the publication where he has worked since 2003. Before posting it, Mr. Plunkett said, he did not warn executives at Digital First Media. The Post’s news and opinion sections are separate fiefs, and he also did not inform the paper’s chief editor, Lee Ann Colacioppo, of his plans.

Shortly after the articles were posted online, Guy Gilmore, the chief operating officer of Digital First Media, called Ms. Colacioppo. He said he wanted to discuss the editorial and the “appropriate response” from the company, Ms. Colacioppo said. The two ultimately decided, she said, that the stories would remain online and that the Sunday print section would proceed as planned. In addition, Mr. Plunkett would stay on as editorial page editor, she said.

Digital First Media did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Readers inside and outside the newsroom met the articles with an outpouring of support…

The package also had a fan in City Hall.

“Denver is so proud of our flagship newspaper for speaking out,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said in a statement. “The Denver Post said it best — they are necessary to this ‘grand democratic experiment,’ especially at a time when the press and facts are under constant attack by the White House. For a New York hedge fund to treat our paper like any old business and not a critical member of our community is offensive. We urge the owners to rethink their business strategy or get out of the news business. Denver stands with our paper and stands ready to be part of the solution that supports local journalism and saves the 125-year-old Voice of the Rocky Mountain Empire.”

Mr. Plunkett said he was aware that he was putting his livelihood at risk by taking on the paper’s owner.
“I had to do it because it was the right thing to do,” he said. “If that means that I lose my job trying to stand up for my readers, then that means I’m not working for the right people anyway.”

Sunday’s print opinion section will hit newsstands and land in driveways one day before more than two dozen employees at The Post say farewell to the newsroom.

Already devastated by staff reductions made since Alden Global Capital took over in 2010, The Post was ordered last month to slash another 30 jobs from a newsroom whose count was already below 100.

“These job losses are painful, and we know meaningful work will not get done because talented journalists have left the organization,” Ms. Colacioppo told the staff after a meeting during which she delivered news of the layoffs. “I’m sure some commenters will cheer what they believe is the eventual demise of the mainstream media, but there is nothing to celebrate when a city has fewer journalists working in it.”

Before she was ordered to carry out the latest reduction in staff — a process that is scheduled to be completed by July — the editor said she believed that things were looking up for The Post.

“Aside from the last three weeks or so, I would have described the last year as a turning point for us,” Ms. Colacioppo said in an interview on Saturday. “Then this came.”

Earlier this year, in another cost-cutting effort, the newspaper left its longtime headquarters in the heart of downtown Denver, steps from the Capitol and City Hall, to an office in Adams County located in the same building as its printing press.

The moves have left the remaining Post staffers demoralized. “Every single staffing reduction has been really difficult,” Jesse Paul, a politics reporter who joined the paper in 2014, said on Saturday. “This last one in particular I described it as cutting off a leg. This was literally like taking off a limb of the newspaper.”

The announcement of the latest layoffs pitted Post employees against an ownership team that seems to have little regard for quality journalism. But as newspapers across the country continue to suffer — and as more of them come under the ownership of public companies like Gannett or investment firms looking to wring profits from a troubled business — The Post has also become a flash point in the newspaper industry’s battle for survival.

Digital First Media is among the biggest newspaper chains in the country, with more than 90 newspapers including The Pioneer Press of St. Paul, Minn.; The Mercury News of San Jose, Calif.; The Orange County Register; and The Boston Herald. The company has aggressively cut resources in its quest for profit, with recent staff reductions at several of its papers, including The Mercury News and The Herald.