Monday, May 15, 2017

The New FBI Director, a Letter to Mitch and Paul, a Letter FROM You, What Was Sally Yates Testifying About Anyway and Your News Sources

Whither the FBI

The selection of the new FBI Director is important because one of the activities in which the Bureau is involved is the investigation of a possible connection between Russia and individuals who were associated with Donald tRump’s 2016 Presidential Campaign.   The degree of vigor with which the continuance of that investigation will proceed is crucial.  

A political appointment to the Directorship will affect that because many Republicans are interested in soft-pedalling that investigation because of what it might reveal and any damage it would do to their party.  Therefore, the appointment must not be a political one.  The new Director should come from the field of law enforcement, regardless of political affiliation.  The Attorney-General, who has recused himself from the Russian investigation, must not be involved in the new Director’s selection because of the influence he or she will have upon that investigation. 

Former FBI head James Comey and Attorney-General Jeff Sessions in better days

As for the appointment of a Special Prosecutor, that still is a necessity because of the shadow which the Administration has placed on the impartiality and independence of the FBI by its firing of James Comey, its Director.  This “shadow” will persist to some extent regardless of whomever succeeds him.
Jack Lippman

In My Outbox

Here is the text of an email which I sent to the Republican leaders of both the House and the Senate on May 11.  I also provided a copy to Senator Marco Rubio, with whom I frequently correspond, but with little success.  I doubt if this will meet with success either, but remember, although they are Republicans, both are neither gullible nor stupid.  Who knows what will happen.

                                                     How Long Will They Support Him?

A Letter to Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan:

By now, although I am certain neither of you will admit it publicly, you must recognize the lack of Presidential skills on the part of the President.  Without touching upon the details of specific legislation which is on his and your agendas, I know you recognize his shortcomings.  Believe me, they will come back to haunt all of those in both houses of Congress who stand by him for the sake of party unity.  American voters will address this issue in eighteen months. 

It is now time for both of you to support bi-partisan efforts to restore dignity and intelligence to the White House.   This task is beyond party interests.  A Special Prosecutor to continue the “Russia” investigations by the FBI and in both houses of Congress, two of which have already been seriously compromised by Presidential actions, would be a good way to start.

It would be far better if President Trump played eighteen holes of golf every day for the rest of his term.  

The longer you cooperate in allowing him to influence the elected Representatives you lead in your respective bodies, the closer he will come to facing Article 2, Section 4, of the Constitution.

I write this to you as a Democrat interested in the survival of the Republican Party.  It does not deserve to go down with the ‘sinking ship’ presently occupying the White House.  Cut loose.  You well know that it is no longer the party you have served for years.  You know the facts.  Act upon them.


Be a Letter Writer

If you're not in the habit of writing to your Representative in Congress, and you are unfortunate enough to be represented by a Republican, you can start by sending him or her a letter!  Here's an idea of what you might write.  Do it by email or by snail mail, but do it.  Every one of them has a web site to make sending a letter easy.  Originality is a plus!

Congressman (or woman) ___________ : 

I am dismayed by your support of the Republican bill which will serve to repeal and replace Obamacare.  Two particular aspects of it are of real concern to me.  First, its elimination of a “mandate” to purchase insurance will make those policies actuarily unsound since it exposes the insurers to what the actuaries call “anti-selection” (A disproportionate number of unhealthy purchasers).  To remedy this, the participating insurers will have to set their rates much higher than they otherwise would, making the policies unaffordable for many.

Secondly, allowing the participating insurance companies to consider pre-existing conditions in issuing policies will result in many not being eligible for coverage.  You claim that State-run “high risk pools” will be available to provide coverage for these individuals.  To be actuarily sound, because coverage within such pools will be provided to unhealthy purchasers, their premiums will have to be very high.  The eight billion dollars set aside to subsidize these “pools” over the next decade is totally inadequate to maintain their solvency.

When the Congressional Budget Office’s documentation of this legislation’s actual cost, which you and your colleagues did not bother to wait for, is available, I am sure you will reverse your position on Trumpcare.

Name, Address, Phone and Email 

Sally Yates Testimony and Fox News

Almost two weeks ago, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.   As reported by most news media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, PBS, Associated Press, CNN and MSNBC, the salient information was that she had confidentially pointed out the involvement of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn with Russia, possibly subjecting him to blackmail, to the White House counsel in an urgent and personal manner.   It took eighteen days before the President fired Flynn while Ms. Yates, a 27 year career employee of the Department of Justice, was terminated three days after giving this information to the White House.

Flynn’s belated dismissal occurred only after a story about this appeared in the Washington Post.  Some wonder, were it not for this article, if Flynn, perhaps compromised in regard to Russia, would still be the President’s National Security Advisor.    As of now, President tRump is still saying nice things about him.

During the hearing, Republican Senators asked Ms. Yates questions regarding her not acting to enforce the President’s Executive Order concerning travel bans and how the identity of Flynn as the party involved was subsequently “unmasked” or leaked to the media, neither of which questions were the subject of the hearing.  That these questions were being raised was clearly an attempt to divert the direction of her testimony, as any observer of the hearings can attest.

I try to compare how news stories are covered by Fox News with the rest of the media.  Even though it is bad for my blood pressure, I occasionally watch Fox for this purpose. It is sad that Fox is the primary news source for many millions of Americans. (See the following article.)   When they “reported” on this same hearing, they gave the impression that Ms. Yates was being questioned primarily about the “unmasking” and the travel ban, and her advising the White House of Flynn’s Russian involvement was an unproven and incidental side issue.

We will never have an informed electorate until Fox News is challenged on every bit of misinformation and misguidance they provide to their viewers.  They are not so bad as was Josef Goebbels in Nazi Germany, but nevertheless, they really are a propaganda outlet rather than a news source. Of course, Fox would pin the same accusation on the rest of the media, some of which are listed above, but there is a difference.  Fox deals in alternate facts and makes up its own version of the truth.  When they do this to protect the Republican Administration at the highest levels, it is a very serious matter.  

Ideally, CNN and MSNBC should have a half-hour nightly program devoted to correcting the misinformation and misguidance broadcast by Fox that day.  Most of the time, thirty minutes would be insufficient for that task.

Where D'Ya Git Yer Nooz?

Before getting too wrapped up in the ongoing disintegration of the Presidency, which seems to be imminent to those who get their news from CNN and MSNBC, let’s not forget that more people follow Fox News than these two channels combined.

And if you take a look at what Fox News is featuring, you’d thing the big stories are about the Trump Administration’s economic, foreign policy and trade “successes,” the unrelenting and unfair attacks by “other media” on the President and of course, the need to reopen the question of Hillary Clinton’s emails with an eye toward prosecuting her.  Very little time is devoted to the story of the President’s efforts to derail investigations into possible collusion between his Presidential campaign and Russia and the firing of FBI Director James Comey. 

tRump fired James Comey because he refused to be a 'yes' man for the White House, and then got his Justice Department to prepare a cockamamie story about his shortcomings as the reason, a story which tRump's own words proved to be no more than a transparent cover-up for his real reason, a few days later.  Follow this story closely, but please, not on Fox News.

Most recently, Fox News prime time viewership averaged 2.4 million.  MSNBC’s averaged 1.4 million and CNN’s averaged a bit under .8 million.  Check these numbers out on any one of many internet sites which report them. One can be found quickly by clicking right here.

So don’t get the idea, as Joe Scarborough’s and Cris Cuomo’s viewers may think, that the President is on the brink of impeachment.  Fox News’ thoroughly misguided viewers, whose votes put Donald Trump in the White House, think otherwise.  And there a lot of them.  Don’t kid yourself.  You may laugh at Fox News, but almost two and a half million prime time viewers every day do not.


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Jack Lippman 

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