Have the Hollywood abuse floodgates opened?

The allegations of sexual harassment and rape against movie producer Harvey Weinstein (who has admitted bad behaviour and committed himself to a ‘clinic’ but denies ‘non-consensual sex’) has raised an issue that has been swept under the red carpet for a long time.

A number of big name actresses have now spoken out, adding attention and weight to the issue. It has also spread much further than Hollywood stars, with online actions pointing out how widespread and insidious sexual harassment is.

There is a danger that it could go too far, with complaints ranging from rape and professional coercion to leering. And there are also valid concerns about making accusations public and ostracising people who have not been found guilty.

But while there will inevitably be overreach, exaggerated and possible false allegations, and potentially unfair consequences for some, this is a dirty secret that is long overdue for a big clean up. Some collateral damage may be unfortunate but it’s necessary to lance the boil.

That’s if the publicity is sustained and it results in major attitudinal and behavioural changes.

New York Times: Harvey Weinstein’s Fall Opens the Floodgates in Hollywood

Harvey Weinstein is certainly not the first powerful man publicly and credibly accused of sexually harassing or abusing women in recent years.

Since 2015, the Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, the Fox News prime-time host Bill O’Reilly and the comedian and actor Bill Cosby have suffered professional, financial or reputational setbacks after numerous women told stories of their sexual misconduct.

Those stories dominated news cycles, to be sure, but the outcry accompanying Mr. Weinstein’s downfall seems louder and more impassioned — perhaps because Mr. Weinstein’s accusers include stars like Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow.

“I think this is a watershed moment,” said the producer Gail Berman, who had top jobs at Paramount Pictures and the Fox network.

That became clear on Sunday, when Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were flooded with messages from women who used the hashtag #MeToo to acknowledge that they had dealt with sexual harassment or assault.

There is no doubt it has been a widespread and serious problem.

The Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow applauded the movement. “The democratization of the spread of information can finally move faster than a powerful media mogul’s attempts to bury it,” she said by email.

Powerful forces have been largely able to sweep things under the red carpet until now.

Kicked off by reports on the allegations against Mr. Weinstein, the outpouring came a little more than a year after The Washington Post published leaked excerpts from an “Access Hollywood” tape in which Donald J. Trump, then a candidate for president, boasted of groping women.

Melinda McGillivray, who stepped forward last year to accuse Mr. Trump of groping her at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida in 2003, told BuzzFeed last week that Ms. Paltrow and Ms. Jolie had an impact her accusation did not because of their star power. (Mr. Trump has denied harassment accusations.)

The problem goes right to the top.

Mr. Trump’s election had put some women here on guard against a return to male misbehavior that was more common 40 years ago. And one list circulating among ranking female executives in the industry has tracked a string of promotions of men to senior jobs — at Apple and AMCSony and HuluFox and CBS — amid fear that progress for women has stalled since November.

“Most of the available senior management television jobs this year have gone to men,” said Katie O’Connell, a chief executive of Platform One Media, and formerly the chief executive of Gaumont Television. “While those men were all qualified, it does highlight diminished access for these highest-level positions for women in 2017.”

It’s difficult to know how much is merit, and how much may be prejudice and punishment for not being promiscuous.

At issue now is whether or not Hollywood can continue its old way of doing business, with self-styled “outlaw” executives and auteurs getting away with sexual misconduct as lawyers and publicists protect them.

“I think it’s upsetting and devastating, all of the stories that have come out,” said Nina Jacobson, a film producer who was formerly the president of the Walt Disney Company’s Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group.

“But I think the floodgates being opened is something that had to happen and that finally brings a subject to the surface that has sort of gone unchecked for countless years.”

Ms. Jacobson, the film producer, said, “There’s an importance to a careful vetting and a careful reposting and not just a free-for-all.”

Some care needs to be taken to be as fair and just as possible, while still enabling victims to come forward without fear.

There doesn’t seem to be much chance of a leading example being set from Trump to confront this problem, but along with Weinstein the president could become a public example of an insidious problem that needs to be once and for all dealt to.

“Trump is becoming a failed president”

Donald Trump has been struggling to score any significant policy wins, he gets bogged down with petty squabbles, and there seems to be growing disagreements and splits amongst the Republican Party.

I think it’s too soon to judge his presidency, a major policy win or a war could turn things around quite quickly, but in the absence of substance beyond his at times extreme rhetoric there is growing commentary about his failures, and speculation about his failure as a president.

Juan Williams: Trump is becoming a failed president


A Morning Consult poll released last week found Trump losing support in states he easily carried last year. He is down 23 points in Tennessee since his inauguration in January, down 21 points in Mississippi, down 20 in Kentucky, down 19 in Kansas and down 17 in Indiana.

Overall, 55 percent of the country disapproves of the job he is doing as president, according the most recent RealClearPolitics average. At the three-quarter mark of his first year in office, Trump is the least popular new president in history.

On Capitol Hill, House and Senate Republicans are also walking away from Trump.

In part, this is due to his attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Then there are the threats to incumbent Republicans from Stephen Bannon, formerly Trump’s chief strategist.

Bannon said last week he plans to challenge incumbent Republican senators in seven states, including Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Mississippi’s Roger Wicker, Nebraska’s Deb Fischer, Nevada’s Dean Heller and Wyoming’s John Barrasso.

“Creating a civil war inside the Republican Party may feel good, but I think as a strategy, it is stunningly stupid,” former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said of Bannon’s plan.

That looks like team Trump in disarray.

One Republican who has always doubted Trump’s credentials (and has been attacked by Trump) is Senator John McCain.

McCain, in speech, denounces ‘spurious nationalism’

…his speech was one of warning, and seemed very much directed at the leadership approach of President Donald Trump and his supporters.

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.”

Trump has been having spats with various sports people. One respected coach has responded.

The Nation:  ‘A Soulless Coward’: Coach Gregg Popovich Responds to Trump

We’ve all seen the San Antonio Spurs’ future Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich in a state of exasperation on the sidelines, or in postgame news conferences. Many of us have also heard him speak with great vexation and clarity about the direction of this country and the actions of Donald Trump, particularly on Trump’s “disgusting tenor and tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic.” But I have never heard this man more frustrated, more fed up, and more tense with anger than he was today.

Coach Pop called me up after hearing the president’s remarks explaining why he hadn’t mentioned the four US soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger. Trump said, “President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it.”

Maybe it was the bald-faced nature of this lie, maybe it was Pop’s own history in the military, but the coach clearly had to vent. He said, “I want to say something, and please just let me talk, and please make sure this is on the record.”

This is Popovich  on the record.

“I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this president had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families are so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.”

“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets.

“We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day.

“The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”

I think that the last comment about those who work with the president is in part at least unfair. I think that some of those working with and for Trump have the interests of the country at heart and are trying their best to cover for the inadequacies and irrationality of Trump.

They are trying to control Trump and limit the damage he does – and especially, they will be aware of the damage trump could do if he runs amok with the US nuclear arsenal (I think they have about 9,000 nukes).

But outside the White House Trump remains unpopular, and there are growing concerns being expressed about his fitness to remain as president.

Unfortunately Trump has said a lot of stupid and unhelpful and unpresidential things, but he hasn’t done anything (that we know of) that is troubling enough to demand he steps down.

It’s possible Trump may get what is required of being president, but there is little sign of his current obnoxiousness and incompetence being turned around.

We – not just the US but the world – may have to wait until Trump does something bad enough to step him over the line, and others step in to put a stop to him.

That is if the US or the world is in a state to do anything then.


Trump cries fake again, threatens media

Donald Trump has both used and abused the media for a long time. However his latest attacks are getting crankier and more disturbing. Recent tweets:

Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a “tenfold” increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!

With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!

Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!

Trump is even being slammed on Fox News.

Joe Scarborough said Trump was “channeling Chairman Mao and Joseph Stalin by calling the media ‘enemy of the people.'”

He said that Trump’s criticism of the press’ right to free speech is possible the most “disgusting” and “frightening” thing the president has ever said.

“It’s an attack on the media to be sure, but more profoundly, it’s an attack on the First Amendment,” Mark Halperin said.

Willie Geist described Trump’s behavior as “Authoritarianism 101.”

“You delegitimize the press, you delegitimize your opponents, and then you try to destroy them,” Geist said. “He’s saying to people who support him and to the American people, ‘Don’t believe your eyes and your ears when it comes to things that criticize me. Don’t believe what you’re seeing. Fake news! Fake news! Fake news!'”

Trump has a right to challenge news he doesn’t think is accurate.

Also on Fox:  Trump and Mattis team up to refute NBC nuke report, blast ‘disgusting’ press

President Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Wednesday publicly refuted an NBC News report that claimed the commander-in-chief wanted to drastically increase the U.S. nuclear arsenal, with Trump calling the press “disgusting.”

Trump slammed the NBC report that said he sought a “nearly tenfold increase” in the nuclear arsenal during a summer meeting.

“Frankly, it’s disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write and people should look into it,” Trump told reporters. “I never discussed increasing [the nuclear arsenal]. That is fake news by NBC, which gives a lot of fake news recently.”

Trump added that he only wants “modernization” and “rehabilitation” of the stockpile.

“It’s got to be in tip-top shape,” Trump said. “I know the capability we have, and it is awesome. It is massive.”

Trump continued to slam the press for allegedly making up sources. “There are no sources,” he claimed.

I don’t believe there are no sources, there is no evidence that media make up stories from nothing.

Inaccurate information or deliberate information are possibilities.

Mattis issued a brief statement shortly afterward saying: “Recent reports that the President called for an increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal are absolutely false. This kind of erroneous reporting is irresponsible.”

Perhaps it is erroneous, and if so then it’s irresponsible.

But Trump himself is often erroneous and irresponsible.

And it is irresponsible of Trump to theaten to revoke broadcasting licenses when he doesn’t like the messages they broadcast.

Calling ‘fake news!’ whenever he doesn’t like something that is said is putting whatever credibility Trump might have at risk.

It may reinforce some of his base that information can be supported as true no matter how outlandish and conspiratorial it is (and Trump is known to stoke conspiracies), and dismissed as fake if you don’t like it.

But there is a real risk that an increasing number of people will simply roll their eyes and dismiss Trump when he cries fake.

Image result for trump cry fake

Trump and the nuclear football

As dysfunction and bizarreness continues in US politics concerns keep surfacing about whether President Trump can be trusted in command of the US nuclear arsenal.

In a recent public spat with Trump Senator Bob Corker Says Trump’s Recklessness Threatens ‘World War III’.

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”

“He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”

NBC News: Trump Wanted Tenfold Increase in Nuclear Arsenal, Surprising Military

President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest-ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room.

Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve.

According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the buildup. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.

Tillerson is another who has come into conflict with Trump recently, reportedly calling Trump a moron.

As an aside Trump has threatened to revoke NBC’s broadcasting license over this article.

Ironic claiming that media is bad for the country.

What would happen if Trump rhetoric escalated to the point of pushing the nuclear button?

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly, both military men, are seen as potential moderators of trump’s excesses.

Raw Story: GOP official imagines Kelly and Mattis discussed tackling Trump if he ‘lunges for the nuclear football’

New York Magazine contributing editor Gabriel Sherman on Tuesday reported on a remarkable conversation he had with a senior Republican official, who described imagined conversations Donald Trump’s chief of staff Gen. John Kelly and defense secretary James Mattis have had about “physically [restraining] the president” in the event he “[lunges] for the nuclear football.”

Sherman was discussing the growing concern in the West Wing over Trump’s temperament, particularly as the president continues to escalate feuds with prominent Republicans like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) while simultaneously setting the United States “on the path to World War III.”

“A conversation I had with a very prominent Republican today, who literally was saying that they imagine Gen. Kelly and Secretary Mattis have had conversations that if Trump lunged for the nuclear football, what would they do?” Sherman told NBC’s Chris Hayes. “Would they tackle him? I mean literally, physically restrain him from putting the country at perilous risk.”

It is illegal for them to prevent their President from going nuclear.

“That is the kind of situation we’re in,” Sherman added.

Pressed by Hayes to explain the sources’ relationship to—and direct knowledge of—the Trump administration, Sherman explained, “these are the conversation they have, on very good authority, are taking place inside the White House.”

Wikipedia: Nuclear football

The nuclear football (also known as the atomic football, the President’s emergency satchel, the Presidential Emergency Satchel, the button, the black box, or just the football) is a briefcase, the contents of which are to be used by the President of the United States to authorize a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centers, such as the White House Situation Room. It functions as a mobile hub in the strategic defense system of the United States. It is held by an aide-de-camp.

If the president (who is commander-in-chief of the armed forces) ordered the use of nuclear weapons, they would be taken aside by the “carrier” and the briefcase would be opened. A command signal, or “watch” alert, would then be issued to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The president would then review the attack options with the aide and decide on a plan, which could range from a single cruise missile to multiple ICBM launches.

The United States has a two-man rule in place at the nuclear launch facilities, and while only the president can order the release of nuclear weapons, the order must be verified by the Secretary of Defense to be an authentic order given by the president (there is a hierarchy of succession in the event that the president is killed in an attack).

This verification process deals solely with verifying that the order came from the actual President.

The Secretary of Defense has no veto power and must comply with the president’s order.

Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis is the current Secretary of Defense, but he seems to be a lot more sensible and sane than Trump.

Journalist Ron Rosenbaum has pointed out that the operational plan for nuclear strike orders is entirely concerned with the identity of the commanding officer and the authenticity of the order, and there are no safeguards to verify that the person issuing the order is actually sane.

Notably, Major Harold Hering was discharged from the Air Force in late 1973 for asking the question “How can I know that an order I receive to launch my missiles came from a sane president?” under Richard Nixon

We may never find out what goes on behind closed doors in the presidency. Or all hell could break loose.


When will it be appropriate to challenge Trump’s license to wreak havoc?

‘Equal TV time’ for Trump?

I think that Trump gets a lot of media coverage. The President of the US will naturally get disproportionately more media attention than non-presidents.

What I think he may be angling at here is he wants positive coverage. Perhaps he could stop being such a media obsessed whinging bozo and earn some positive coverage.

Trump: ‘the calm before the storm’

Donald Trump talked big and tough during his campaigns, and he has talked big and tough as president. But so far (fortunately) it has been all bark.

Is this about to change? Trump was obviously trying to send some sort of message in a media stunt.

Reuters: In meeting with military, Trump talks of ‘calm before the storm’

After discussing Iran and North Korea with U.S. military leaders on Thursday, President Donald Trump posed for a photo with them before dinner and declared the moment “the calm before the storm.”

“You guys know what this represents?” Trump said after journalists gathered in the White House state dining room to photograph him and first lady Melania Trump with the uniformed military leaders and their spouses.

“Maybe it’s the calm before the storm,” he said.

What storm?

“You’ll find out,” Trump told questioning reporters.

Earlier in the evening, while seated with the top defense officials in the cabinet room, Trump talked about the threat from North Korea and preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

“In North Korea, our goal is denuclearization,” he said. “We cannot allow this dictatorship to threaten our nation or our allies with unimaginable loss of life. We will do what we must do to prevent that from happening. And it will be done, if necessary, believe me.”

During his speech to the United Nations General Assembly last month, Trump said the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea if needed to defend itself or U.S. allies.


Tillerson, Mattis, Kelly keep US from chaos

US Republican senator Bob Corker has said that key officials in the Trump administration are separating the country from chaos.

Fox News: GOP Sen. on WH: Tillerson, Mattis and Kelly ‘Help Separate US From Chaos’

Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) appeared to criticize President Trump when asked about a reported feud between the president and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Earlier Wednesday, both Tillerson and Trump denied the feud, allegations of which gathered steam after a report surfaced that the former Exxon-Mobil CEO privately referred to Trump as a “moron.”

Corker was asked if he spoke to Tillerson recently, replying that he won’t comment on private conversations.

“I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary [of Defense James] Mattis, and Chief of Staff [John] Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos,” Corker added.

There’s an obvious implication there.

Two of those three also feature in this report from the Washington Examiner: Tillerson, Mattis, Mnuchin forge ‘suicide pact’ in the event Trump wants one of them gone

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin reportedly have forged a “suicide pact” in which all three members of President Trump’s Cabinet would leave if one of them becomes a target of the president.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin reportedly have forged a “suicide pact” in which all three members of President Trump’s Cabinet would leave if one of them becomes a target of the president.

A U.S. official told BuzzFeed that Tillerson would likely remain in the administration because of his agreement with Mnuchin and Mattis.

Tillerson sought to quiet any rumors about an impending resignation Wednesday morning, saying he has never considered leaving his post.

Tillerson denied threatening to resign but avoided denying calling Trump a moron.

Politico: Tillerson’s future still hazy despite Trump oath

The secretary of state’s denial of a resignation report doesn’t dispel the image of a man unhappy and ill at ease with the president he serves.

For most of his eight months on the job, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has endured rumors that he might soon quit it. On Wednesday, he finally fought back.

Within hours of an NBC News report that he had nearly resigned this summer after allegedly calling President Donald Trump a “moron,” Tillerson held a news conference to insist that he has “never considered” leaving his post.

The original report sent Trump into a fury this morning, a White House official said, and Tillerson moved with corporate efficiency to tamp it down.

While Trump was expressing “total confidence” in Tillerson by midafternoon, the episode further complicated perhaps the most fraught relationship between a president and a secretary of state ever seen.

But nothing about Wednesday’s events will dispel the image of Tillerson as a man unhappy and ill at ease with the president he serves — both in substance and in style.

Asked about Tillerson’s performance, Eliot Cohen, a former counselor to Rice’s State Department and one of the president’s harshest Republican critics, called it “pathetic, servile and, above all, unconvincing.”

Others doubted the sincerity of his denial that he has considered stepping into a life of retirement, as he had originally planned before Trump called last winter.

In many ways, Tillerson embodies the moderate Republican establishment against which Trump campaigned.

It is moderate Republican establishment that is holding together a very shaky administration.

Tillerson, a political newcomer who faced one of the most contentious Senate confirmation hearings in recent history, said in the past that he was hesitant to accept the position of secretary of state and had been looking forward to retirement before it was offered.

“I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job,” Tillerson told the Independent Journal Review in March. “My wife told me I’m supposed to do this.”

As long as his wife keeps telling him to do it the US administration might be kept separated from chaos.


Trumped up claims of ‘fake’ news

Donald Trump continues trump up claims of fake news to try to discredit news that he doesn’t like.

CNN Editor-at-large Chris Cillizza: Donald Trump’s chilling escalation of his war with the media:

On Thursday, President Donald Trump escalated his ongoing one-sided war with the media.

He did it, of course, via Twitter. “Why Isn’t the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up – FAKE!” Trump tweeted.

Let’s be clear about what Trump is suggesting here. He wants the Senate intelligence committee to open an investigation into the “Fake News Networks” to get to the bottom of why so much of the news is “just made up.” He offers no evidence of this claim. And yet, the President of the United States feels entirely comfortable urging the legislative branch to open an investigation into the Fourth Estate.

No evidence. Playing to supporters who will believe anything he says, but no credibility – or at least substantially less credibility than the media.

The reason? Because Trump doesn’t like what the media writes about him. That’s what he means when he uses the word “fake” — and he uses it a lot. “Fake” for Trump is rightly translated as “not fawning.” (The committee, by the way, is already investigating real fake news targeted by Russians on the US as part of their larger examination of Russian meddling in the run-up to the 2016 US election.)

The truth — as hundreds of fact checks have shown — is that the biggest purveyor of fake news in the country right now is Trump. According to The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog, Trump has made 1,145 false or misleading claims in his first 232 days in office. That’s 4.9 false or misleading statements per day.

Trump’s casual relationship with the truth makes his calls for the legislative branch to investigate the allegedly “fake news” industry all the more outlandish. Yes, the media — including me — do occasionally get things wrong. But, in virtually every case, those mistakes are honest ones — slip-ups made in an honest pursuit of the truth. And, when an error is found, steps are made to publicly remedy the mistake to keep misinformation from seeping into the public’s consciousness.

Can Trump say the same? The answer, of course, is no. He not only spreads falsehoods but does so long after it’s become clear that what he is saying is simply not true.

Why does he do it? For the same reason he has made attacking the “fake news” media his primary daily duty. Because it works — or, at least, it works to motivate his political base, which believes whatever he says (facts be damned!) and is convinced the media is comprised primarily of liberals trying to push their agenda behind the guise of neutrality.

It’s been a deliberate strategy by Trump for a long time. It’s one of the ways he campaigned to get the republican nomination, and to win the presidency.

It’s his latest ramping-up of an ongoing effort to destroy the credibility of the media in the eyes of a not-insignificant number of people in the country. Which is bad enough.

What makes it worse is that Trump knows the media isn’t fake. He is an avid consumer of cable TV and major national newspapers. No president has been so aware of what the media is saying about him at any given minute as Trump.

He is saying and doing these things not because he really believes it but because he knows it works for his base. That cynical ploy may well be a way for Trump to rally that base to him. But the medium- and long-term implications of trying to use the Senate to pressure the media to cover a president more favorably are scary.

Surely the Senate won’t act on trumped up claims.

A likely problem for Trump is that in time more and more people will realise he makes a lot of things up, they will learn that many of his claims don’t stack up.

He is forcing media to sharpen up and to be more accurate and more balanced – that’s a good thing.

But if he continues to trump up fake claims he’s the one who will struggle more with a lack of credibility.

Who can trust a President who blatantly lies so much? His base may always believe him, but most of the world can see through the presidents tatty clothes.

He may become known as the fake president.

Las Vegas, gun control and God

The mass shooting in Las Vegas has re-ignited gun control debate in the US (note that technically ‘gun’ is not an apt description), but as has happened many times before , it is likely to change little if anything.

Defenders of the ownership of firearms has already begun – see the vacuous Tammy Bruce: Why gun control won’t end mass murder

Statistics are being re-published, like How US gun culture compares with the world in 5 charts

  1. Americans own nearly half (48%) of the estimated 650m civilian owned guns worldwide.
  2. Americans own more guns per capita than residents of any other country
  3. The US makes up less than 5% of the world’s population, but holds 31% of global mass shooters.
  4. Gun homicide rates are 25.2 times higher in the US than in other high income countries.
  5. Worldwide, the countries with the highest gun-homicide rates are in Central and South America.

More from Vox:  Gun violence in America, explained in 17 maps and charts

America is an exceptional country when it comes to guns. It’s one of the few countries in which the right to bear arms is constitutionally protected. But America’s relationship with guns is unique in another crucial way: Among developed nations, the US is far and away the most violent — in large part due to the easy access many Americans have to firearms.

  1. America has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and nearly 16 times as many as Germany

  2. America has 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but almost half of the civilian-owned guns around the world

  3. There have been more than 1,500 mass shootings since Sandy Hook

  4. On average, there is more than one mass shooting for each day in America

  5. States with more guns have more gun deaths

  6. It’s not just the US: Developed countries with more guns also have more gun deaths

  7. States with tighter gun control laws have fewer gun-related deaths

  8. Still, gun homicides (like all homicides) have declined over the past couple decades

  9. Most gun deaths are suicides

  10. The states with the most guns report the most suicides

  11. Guns allow people to kill themselves much more easily

  12. Programs that limit access to guns have decreased suicides

  13. Since the shooting of Michael Brown, police have killed at least 2,900 people

  14.  In states with more guns, more police officers are also killed on duty

  15. Support for gun ownership has sharply increased since the early ’90s

The NRA is a very strong lobby group that donates a lot of funds to politicians. The chances of significant controls on the ownership and use of firearms in the US seems slim, unless Donald Trump decides to do something worthwhile about it.

One claim that keeps coming up is that the more good people who have guns, the greater the chance of stopping bad people with guns from killing.

It took armed police about 70 minutes to locate and stop the Las Vegas killer.

Things are unlikely to change much if at all.

BBC: Las Vegas shooting: Five reasons US gun control won’t happen


The National Rifle Association is one of the most influential interest groups in US politics – not just because of the money it spends on lobbying politicians, but also because of the engagement of its 5 million members.

In 2016 the NRA spent $4m on lobbying and direct contributions to politicians as well as more than $50m on political advocacy, including an estimated $30m to help elect Donald Trump president.


Most recent attempts to pass new federal laws regulating firearms are over before they ever really begin, stymied in the US House of Representatives, which has been in Republican hands since 2011.

Due to the way the lines of House congressional districts are drawn, many by Republican-controlled state legislatures, there are more “safe” seats for Republicans than there are for Democrats.

In these congressional districts, the politicians are more responsive to their primary voters, who tend to be motivated by hot-button issues like gun rights. The price for crossing these voters is much higher than alienating those who, while perhaps more in favour of gun control, do not vote in Republican primaries.

The filibuster

If a gun-control bill were to make it out of the House of Representatives, it would still face a challenge in the Senate, where the rural-urban divide plays itself out on the state level, as well. States dominated by big-city voters, such as New York, Massachusetts or California, are outnumbered by rural and Southern states with pro-gun sentiments.

The rules of the Senate can also thwart efforts to enact more stringent firearm regulation, thanks to the “filibuster” – a procedural hurdle that means most major pieces of legislation need the backing of 60 out of 100 senators to pass, rather than a simple 51-vote majority.

The courts

With Congress more interested in rolling back existing firearm regulations than implementing new ones, left-leaning US states have taken a greater role in implementing gun-control measures.

After the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, 21 states passed new gun laws, including imposing assault weapons bans in Connecticut, Maryland and New York.

Some of the laws have run up against another barrier, however – the US judicial system. In recent years the Supreme Court has twice ruled that the right to own personal weapons such as handguns is enshrined in the constitution.

Could it change? Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch has made it clear he views Second Amendment rights broadly. The president is filling out the ranks of the lower courts with pro-gun-rights judges. If anything, the judiciary is moving to the right on this issue.

The enthusiasm gap

Perhaps the single biggest obstacle to new gun-control laws at the national level is that opponents tend to hold fiercely to their beliefs, while support for new regulation tends to ebb and flow around each new instance of violence.

The NRA’s strategy, and that of pro-gun politicians, is to wait out the storm – to delay legislative efforts until attention turns elsewhere and the outcry fades.

Pro-gun politicians offer their thoughts and prayers, observe moments of silence and order flags flown half-staff. Then, in the quiet, legislative efforts are deferred and ultimately derailed.

God is probably nearly as influential as the NRA in the US.

Fox News: Lee Brice performed at Las Vegas shooting venue: ‘I believe God has a plan’

“I have faith that God has a plan and that he will prevail. That this kind of a terrorism, which I believe that it is. What kind of terrorism it is, I don’t care. It’s just a fact that somebody is trying to make a point to scare people, country music fans, innocent people to stop doing what they want to do.”

Faithwire:  Trump’s ‘God’-Filled Reaction to Las Vegas Shooting: ‘We Are Searching for…Some Kind of Light in the Darkness’

President Donald Trump delivered a statement before the nation on Monday, expressing horror over the Las Vegas shooting on Sunday that claimed more than 50 lives and left hundreds injured.

The commander-in-chief prayed for healing for the victims, their families and the nation at large. He also expressed sadness, shock and grief over the tragic events, saying that the shooter — whom police identified as Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old male from Mequite, Nevada — “brutally murdered more than 50 people and wounded hundreds more.”

In addition to praising first responders for their quick response — one that he said was “miraculous” in nature — Trump repeatedly invoked God and faith throughout the short address.

“We cannot fathom their pain, we cannot imagine their loss. To the families of the victims, we are praying for you and we …  ask God to help see you through this very dark period. Scripture teaches us the Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

“In times such of these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers don’t come easy.”

The lethal US

As usual after a major massacre in the United States the issue of firearms violence, violence in general, imprisonment rates and other alarming statistics re-surface for a while, but things largely remain the same.

CNN: America the lethal

Americans often think of themselves as belonging to an exceptional nation, and in many ways they do.

Americans tend to be exceptional at praising themselves.

But the United States also leads the world in other ways that don’t match the often complacent self-conception that many Americans have of their own country. The United States locks up more of its population proportionally than any other country in the world, including authoritarian regimes such as Russia and China, according to the International Centre for Prison Studies.

It also leads in another dubious statistic: More Americans are killed by fellow citizens armed with guns than in any other advanced country, according to the Small Arms Survey.

In 2011 alone, according to FBI statistics, more than 11,000 Americans were killed by firearms in the United States (a figure that excludes suicides).

Despite all the reasonable concerns in the United States about jihadist terrorism, in any given year Americans are almost 2,000 times more likely to be killed by a fellow American armed with a gun than by a jihadist terrorist. Since the 9/11 attacks, 95 Americans have been killed by jihadist terrorists, on average about six Americans a year, according to data collected by New America.

Authorities have clamped down on carrying a range of things of dubious threat on planes, but the US remains awash with lethal weapons. About have of privately owned weapons in the world are in the US.

Stephen Paddock, the perpetrator of the Las Vegas concert massacre, was found to have 23 weapons in his hotel room, and a similar number plus explosives in his home.

By contrast, in the United Kingdom, a country which is similar to the United States in terms of its laws and culture, Britain suffers around 50-60 gun deaths a year in a country where the population is around a fifth the size of the United States.

In other words, you are about 40 times more likely to be killed by an assailant with a gun in the United States than you are in the United Kingdom.

To be sure there are occasional mass-casualty attacks in Europe by murderers armed with guns, such as the assaults by the neo-Nazi Anders Breivik who killed 77 in Norway in 2011 and the attack in Dunblane, Scotland at a school where 16 children were killed in 1996, but these are exceptions to the rule.

President Donald Trump has said US will ‘be talking about gun laws as time goes by’:

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the US will “be talking about gun laws as time goes by” in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, the nation’s deadliest in modern history.

“Look, we have a tragedy … and what happened in Las Vegas is in many ways a miracle. The police department has done such an incredible job,” Trump said at the White House before he left for Puerto Rico.

The President was asked about a gun bill currently making its way through the House that would loosen restrictions on purchasing gun silencers.

Trump said that he would talk about that later.He didn’t answer when reporters pressed him about whether the shooting was an act of “domestic terrorism.”

Whether it is labelled terrorism or not is just semantics.

The US continues to have a huge problem with crime and violence and firearms, and with the National Rifle Association being one of the strongest lobby groups in the US.


Who are they trying to fool? Oh, that’s right, politicians. Successfully.

While 59 dead in one incident is extraordinary, the current death count from firearms in the US this year  is 11,689. There have been  274 ‘mass shootings’.

Little is likely to change, apart from the location of the next massacre, and the number of  casualties.