Too Little Too Late, Mr. Birther!

48093056-cachedtrump_tweet_birther_080612So now, just hours after Donald Trump couldn’t bring himself to admit to The Washington Post that President Barack Obama was born in the U.S.A. — some campaign flunky puts out a statement saying that Herr Trump actually believes that Obama is, in fact, born in America.

trump-fnc-birtherWell, let’s hear that from Donald J. Trump himself.

And then let’s hear him tell us what the hell this nonsense (or pack of shameless lies) was all about 5 years ago:


(CNN)
Possibly-serious Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is giving few details about the investigation he claims to have launched in Hawaii to get to the bottom of where President Obama was born, but the business mogul told CNN Thursday Americans will be “very surprised” by what he has found.

donald-trump-i-really-dont-know-if-obama-was-born-in-the-us“We’re looking into it very, very strongly. At a certain point in time I’ll be revealing some interesting things,” Trump said on CNN’s American Morning.Trump first claimed earlier this month he had sent investigators to Obama’s home state in an effort to find out if the president was indeed born there, as he says he was and several media organization’s independent investigations have confirmed.

trump-birther-tweet“I have people that have been studying it and they cannot believe what they’re finding,” Trump told NBC then.

******

C’mon mass media! Don’t let Trump skate on this one. What specific “interesting things” did he find out about Obama’s citizenship five years ago?

trumpbirtherWhat did his “people that have been studying it” really find? And why could they not “believe what they’re finding.”

Trump said all this crap.

The media must get Trump to say that Obama is a citizen with his own lips – and then ask the follow-up questions.

Make Trump back all his old statements up.

Or admit it was all a lie.

r-donald-trump-obam-birth-certificate-large570The Presidency of the United States is at stake.

I’m talking to you, Wolf Blitzer, Brian Williams, Lester Holt, Anderson Cooper, Andrea Mitchell – and maybe, just maybe, the last honest journalists on FOX News.

Hoist the Great Orange Demagogue by his own petard.

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Newsweek Thumps Trump.

csscxgjwyaavllsThis is one of the few times I’ve ever posted an article written by someone other than yours truly – but today’s Newsweek takedown of Donald Trump must be trumpeted (sorry for the pun) far and wide.

Here it is:

http://www.newsweek.com/2016/09/23/donald-trump-foreign-business-deals-national-security-498081.html

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For those with limited time to read — here’s a key segment of the opener:

donald-trumpThe Trump Organization is not like the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the charitable enterprise that has been the subject of intense scrutiny about possible conflicts for the Democratic presidential nominee. There are allegations that Hillary Clinton bestowed benefits on contributors to the foundation in some sort of “pay to play” scandal when she was secretary of state, but that makes no sense because there was no “pay.” Money contributed to the foundation was publicly disclosed and went to charitable efforts, such as fighting neglected tropical diseases that infect as many as a billion people. The financials audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global independent accounting company, and the foundation’s tax filings show that about 90 percent of the money it raised went to its charitable programs. (Trump surrogates have falsely claimed that it was only 10 percent and that the rest was used as a Clinton “slush fund.”) No member of the Clinton family received any cash from the foundation, nor did it finance any political campaigns. In fact, like the Clintons, almost the entire board of directors works for free.

On the other hand, the Trump family rakes in untold millions of dollars from the Trump Organization every year. Much of that comes from deals with international financiers and developers, many of whom have been tied to controversial and even illegal activities. None of Trump’s overseas contractual business relationships examined by Newsweek were revealed in his campaign’s financial filings with the Federal Election Commission, nor was the amount paid to him by his foreign partners.

Bold emphasis mine.

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-2-23-09-pmAre you listening, corporate news media? Are you ready now to make Trump and his surrogates answer the tough questions? Not about his silly circus sideshow with Dr. Oz – but the far more important questions raised by Newsweek.

And, if you need any more questions, Keith Olbermann has 176 reasons to grill Trump right here:

http://video.gq.com/watch/176-reasons-donald-trump-shouldn-t-be-president

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If The Basket Fits…

deplorables

Starring (top row, left to right) Roger Ailes, Rudy Giuliani, Trump, Christie & Coulter — and (bottom row, left to right) Sen. Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, Tony Perkins, Roger Stone and David Duke.

Can’t wait for this awful movie to end.

 

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Meet “The Can’t-idates”

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-10-31-46-am8a8ff2d0-18a5-0133-f51b-0e18518aac2f

Are you in need of a refreshing new perspective on this Presidential campaign? My good buddy Craig Tomashoff has written a book about the Presidential candidates you’ve never heard of – from Vermin Supreme to Sydney’s Voluptuous Buttocks.

Craig with an actual candidate. No he's not Vermin Supreme...

Craig with an actual candidate. No he’s not Vermin Supreme…

Craig is a freelance writer and producer who blogs regularly at Huffington Post.com. For many years, he served as Executive Editor of TV Guide, and has also worked as Associate Bureau Chief for People. Speaking of people, the “can’t-idates” he met while working on this book are some of the most colorful and eccentric people you’ll ever meet.

Craig spoke with more than 100 ordinary Americans attempting to get elected to the Presidency without any political experience. Out of all those interviews, Craig focused on the 15 men and women profiled in his book — traveling 10,000 miles in three weeks to meet them. So, the least you can do is go the extra mile to buy his book and read it!

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Will TV News Get Tough With Trump?

bannerbanner-2160626134505-is-fact-checking-hopeful-or-hopeless-00014411-horizontal-galleryWhat is it about Donald Trump’s vulgar, shameless, fact-free Presidential candidacy that appears to suck the intelligence, discernment, fairness, judgment and journalistic integrity out of our callow cadre of TV news anchormen and women?

imagesIt’s as though Donald Trump is some sort of insidious political vampire with the power to mesmerize, fascinate and overpower his overpaid, under-researched and ratings-infatuated newsreader victims.

With about eight weeks to go until Election Day, it’s long past time for television news anchors, interviewers and, hopefully, the moderators of the upcoming debates to get tough with Trump.

85It was hard enough to watch the weak performance of NBC’s Matt Lauer in the recent Commander-in-Chief Forum, as he let Trump tell lie after lie with impunity — especially his whopper about opposing the Iraq War from the start. But much worse is the spectre of what we can expect from FOX’s Chris Wallace in the third Presidential Debate on October 19. Consider this exchange with Howard Kurtz.

1461001515099KURTZ: …as they go at it, let’s say Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, what do you do if they make assertions that you know to be untrue? 

WALLACE: That’s not my job. I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad. 

maxresdefaultGetting at the truth is not Wallace’s job? What would his father, the late CBS News and “60 Minutes” stalwart, Mike Wallace, have said if he heard his son say such a thing?

And is there any doubt how Mike Wallace’s mentor, the legendary CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow — the man who stood up to Joe McCarthy’s lies — would have answered Kurtz’s question?edward_r-_murrow_1_630_pxlw

chris-wallaceThen again, maybe I should just set FOX News aside. After all, it’s little more than the unofficial cable channel of the Republican Party. Sure, there are elements at FOX that share some in the GOP’s ambivalence about Trump’s rogue candidacy – but it’s also clear that FOX News will not seriously challenge the rise of the Great Orange Hope.

However, we should expect much more of CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC and MSNBC.

kayleighmcenanyobamaisisSo, why do so many supposedly professional newsmen at these major media outlets fail to ask the most obvious follow-up questions when Trump and his clownish parade of lying, low-ball, blowhard surrogates mislead viewers by misstating the facts?

Are they simply unaware of the facts? Is it a research problem? Not enough time in their busy day to pursue the truth?

Of course, I’m not a professional journalist. I’m just another blogger. But I read the newspapers. (Seriously. One gets tossed onto my driveway every morning.) And I spend a little time every day surfing the news through the Internet tubes. I’m a lifelong history buff and a concerned citizen. So, it’s clear to me that our television news anchors are in dereliction of their journalistic duty.

clinton-trump-composite-rWhy else would they allow Trump and his cohort to perpetuate the calumny that Hillary Clinton is the dishonest, untrustworthy person in this race? Do they fail to challenge this relentless lie because they have no access to the fact checking by PolitiFact?

Here’s how PolitiFact analyzes Hillary’s relationship to the truth…

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-4-26-45-pm

pasted-image-0Just in case Chris Wallace is too busy to do the math – 72% of Hillary’s assertions range between true and half-true. She’s been caught tell a lie only 2% of the time.

Trump’s pants, on the other hand, are en fuego 18% of the time. And a full 71% of his statements range from mostly false to flaming pantaloons.

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-4-27-16-pm

pants_on_fireNo wonder Chris Wallace doesn’t want to fact-check The Donald during his debate. Wallace would have to interrupt Trump at least 71% of the time. And nobody likes to watch a football game where the referees are throwing a flag on every 7 out of 10 plays. It would be unwatchable.

Unwatchable perhaps. But it sure would be enlightening.

Going back to Matt Lauer’s pathetic Commander-in-Chief Forum performance, it should be noted that Lauer did try to challenge Trump by confronting him with a Tweet that suggested The Donald was blaming the presence of women in the military for incidents of military sexual assault.

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womenmilHowever, had Lauer done a least the ten minutes of research I just did he wouldn’t have been caught slack-jawed and flat-footed when Trump doubled down on his ignorant, erroneous notion that military sexual assault is a problem created by putting men and women together in uniform.

Lauer could have pointed out that the majority of military sexual assault victims are men.

In 2014, the Pentagon estimated that 20,300 servicemen and servicewomen were assaulted that year. Of those attacks, roughly 10,600 of the victims – more than half — were men.

Aug. 21, 2015 - Fort Benning, GA, United States of America - U.S. Army Captain Kristen Griest salutes during graduation ceremonies at the Army Ranger school August 21, 2015 in Fort Benning, Georgia. Griest and fellow soldier 1st Lt Shaye Haver became the first women to graduate from the 61-day-long Ranger course considered on of the most intense and demanding in the military. (Credit Image: � Ssgt. Steve Cortez/Planet Pix via ZUMA Wire)

And since investigations have found that, for instance, 1 in 5 females in the U.S. Air Force report assault — but only 1 in 15 males report having been sexually assaulted — we can assume that the number of male victims in the military is much higher than current estimates.

joy-ann-reid-clipped-wings-of-trump-surrogate-who-generally-bests-msnbc-hosts-videoYet, Trump and his surrogate minions are allowed, unchallenged, on network after network, to continue to frame this particular debate as an issue that’s all about women in the military.

That’s because TV news has become a lazy, undisciplined, unfocused and ill-informed show-biz circus.ashleigh-mcenany-trump-1

murrowThe great Edward R. Murrow is surely rolling over in his grave.

With the truth under constant attack and undefended by the wretched watchdogs of TV journalism, all I can say is, “Good night, and good luck.”

C’mon, you TV newsreaders!

It’s not too late to do a little research, grow some balls — and  make Mr. Murrow proud.

 

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It’s Been A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Year With Trump.

TrumpBannerI must admit that when I first saw Donald J. Trump riding his Trump Tower escalator on June 16, 2015, descending into the bowels of the GOP Presidential primary, I was intrigued. There was never a remote chance I’d vote for such an arrogant blowhard – especially when, fresh off his escalator, he declared that Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” But I sensed that Trump was more than just another right wing political hack, playing to people’s fears and spouting Republican boilerplate.

campaign-2016-trumpHere was a spoiled, egocentric, reckless autocrat with no loyalty to anyone or anything but his own personal brand. This was going to be interesting.

After flushing his party’s last hope of attracting Latino voters down the Trump tube, he followed his slur on Mexican immigrants with a promise to build a border wall (that Mexico will pay for) and to ban all Muslims from entering the country. Then, when Senator John McCain expressed reservations about his unorthodox agenda, Trump attacked the former Vietnam POW, saying McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured and “I like people who weren’t captured.”

150827102252-donald-trump-july-10-2015-super-169It was plain to see The Donald was a dynamic and destructive force that the GOP would find hard to ignore, repudiate or control.

And it was also apparent that, no matter what shocking or offensive thing he blurted, Trump was attracting a base of supporters, many of whom wholly approved of the controversial things he said. And many right wing pols and pundits who didn’t approve were willing to forgive, overlook, and rationalize utterances that would have doomed a more conventional candidate – of either party.

158557565EM035_2012_Miss_UnAs Trump careened through each news cycle like a rip-snorting orange bull in a china shop, I enjoyed watching Republican politicians squirm, afraid to alienate Trump’s growing legion of angry, white, poorly educated fans.

Ah, the poorly educated.

After winning the Nevada Caucus in February, Trump joyously crowed that, “I love the poorly educated.” Small wonder. While his antics turned off college educated suburban voters, Trump’s less educated, less economically advantaged followers embraced his bombastic style, his millionaire trappings, his easy answers to tough questions and the notion that he was funding his own campaign. To them, Trump looked like a truth-teller who couldn’t be bought

GTY_donald_trump_ml_160304_16x9_992Meanwhile, Trump’s feckless primary opponents were unable to deal with such an unconventional, unapologetic and unblushing political bomb thrower — and were systematically dispatched.

Trump was a rascal, a rogue and a ratings winner.

When the dust settled, he was also the Republican nominee for President of the United States.

160503_POL_trump-president.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2At the start, those TV ratings mattered most: to the major media outlets – and to Trump’s campaign.

Trump was (and still is) given more coverage than any another candidate, as the cable news networks lingered (and still do) on empty podiums waiting for Trump to emerge and launch into another of his rambling stump speeches, which they often covered (and still do) in their entirety. We’ve never seen anything like it. No wonder Trump could fund his own primary campaign: he didn’t have to pay for TV time. He was the uncontested king of free media.

But what Trump did with all the free media exposure was most fascinating.

_88160170_trump-promoDonald Trump said things that no Republican candidate had ever said in recent memory. He was, in some ways, if we’re being completely honest, a breath of fresh air. Sometimes.

In an early primary debate, Trump told Jeb Bush to his self-satisfied face that his brother George W had not, in fact, kept America safe. Trump actually had the stones to say that the World Trade Towers came down on George W’s watch – and that the Iraq War was a disaster based on lies. It was amazing. Did Trump really say — onstage in a GOP primary — that the Iraq War was a failure predicated on lies? Watching Trump wreak havoc in those primary debates was a guilty pleasure.

635728260394906410-AP-GOP-Trump-2016And, afterwards, damned if wasn’t still leading in the polls!

Even the most die-hard liberal (like me) had to be thrilled to hear Trump toss such a devastating bomb into the orthodox Republican myth-making machinery – and come out ahead with GOP voters.

As the primary contest continued, Trump continued to toss GOP boilerplate onto the bonfire of his vanity: rejecting free trade, questioning the NATO alliance, suggesting that South Korea and Japan might arm themselves with nuclear weapons — and expressing admiration for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

Donald-Trump-ChokingAll of these positions would normally disqualify a Republican candidate. But not The Donald.

Which puts the GOP in a box.

And by “box”, I mean a pine box.

Trump may be the death of the Republican Party as we’ve known it since the mid-1960s – when President Johnson and the Democrats passed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, thus leaving the racist elements of their party receptive to the GOP’s cynical “Southern strategy”.

(Author’s note: BTW — can we please dispense with calling the Republicans “the party of Lincoln”? Would a true party of Lincoln be led by a Southern Senator who dedicated himself to making our first black President a one-term failure? Would the party of Lincoln pass laws in state legislatures designed to deny African-Americans the right to vote? Answer? No. Not in 1865 and not today.)

imagesBut, back to Trump.

While I’ve had to admit I was intrigued by his offbeat candidacy and I’ve truly enjoyed the excruciatingly uncomfortable position in which he’s put mainstream GOP candidates and conservative punditry – I’ve grown weary of the Trump circus.

I’ve seen the crazy clowns and the elephants and the “Make America Great Again” hats and balloons – and I’d like it all to be over. There’s going to be a lot of crap to clean up after the Trump parade, so let’s get out our brooms now.

At this point, it looks like the majority of American voters are going to wipe Trump’s grime off the electoral map. If the vote were taken today –here’s what the electoral results would be, based on the current polling.8-19

It appears that sanity will prevail over vanity.

Donald Trump Makes Campaign Swing Through IowaYet, now that the party conventions are over and the Olympics are over, the media pundits tell us that the American people are just now focusing on the Presidential election and that Trump’s latest “pivot” may win back some of the college-educated, suburban and minority voters who have rejected him. Some of these talking heads suggest that the race will tighten – and some, for the sake of promoting the horse race, assert that Trump may still have a chance of becoming our 45th President.

Yeah, and he’ll build that wall.

And Mexico is going to pay for it.

trump-nopeIt’s been a mad, mad, mad, mad year with Donald Trump. It’s been entertaining. It’s been surprising. It’s been nutty as hell. But when I see the rage, paranoia, xenophobia and hysteria he fuels in his fans, it’s becoming more and more frightening.

So, for that and so many other reasons, I’m with Hillary.

I look forward to the coming year, when Donald Trump will still be on television every day – but I can avoid seeing his face because I won’t be tuning in to his brand new TV network. (Sorry, Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon.)

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Fallo da solo Italian Cinema!

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 10.00.22 PM

This week’s Barrosse family film series continues with a bit of homemade Italian cinema…

img_2318A few years ago, my family traveled to Italy in the company our good friends, the Rashids. We’ve known each other since college and have shared a long, rich history in music, comedy and theatre. Despite all that, we still get along.

We began our two-week Italian sojourn in Florence and took in many of the incredible sights that unparalleled city offers – then made our way to Pisa, Siena, Assisi, and a variety of small towns in southern Tuscany.

img_1846Our final week was spent largely in the small, historic hilltop village of Camporsevoli, near the border with Umbria, where we rented a venerable and very comfortable house, Casa del Neri, from the wonderful Grossi family, who own and manage the estate.

Picturesque Camporsevoli is like a tiny magical kingdom right out of a Shakespearean comedy, complete with a lovely church, clock tower, winding cobblestone streets, classic statuary, imposing gates and lush gardens. It’s an ancient place (two Etruscan tombs are preserved in the village cellars), and it’s been in the Grossi family since the middle of the 1800’s.

004_displayAs soon as we saw Camporsevoli – we knew we had to use it as a backdrop for a performance of some kind.

Thus was born “La Commedia di Camporsevoli”, written and shot over three merry, memorable days in a fabulous place to which we all hope to return someday soon.

italyaThe entire movie was shot on my iPhone. Not my new iPhone, mind you – but my ancient iPhone from three long years ago. That was all the equipment we used. And if that’s not homemade enough — the owner of the estate graciously agreed to play the priest. (He stole the show!)

Simple, bare bones film making — and lots of fun.

Si prega di godere il nostro piccolo film!

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