Tag Archives: MSNBC

Trump defends a killer? Weird, man

Donald J. Trump’s infatuation with men who run their nations under heavy boots, heavy hands and sheer fright is shining more brightly than ever.

The president is defending his newest best friend, Kim Jong Un, by suggesting that his ruthlessness in governing North Korea is done out of necessity.

Here is how Politico reported some of what Trump has said about Kim: “He’s a tough guy,” the president said during a Fox News interview that aired Wednesday. “When you take over a country, a tough country, tough people and you take it over from your father — I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have — if you can do that at 27 years old, that’s one in 10,000 that could do that. So he’s a very smart guy. He’s a great negotiator, but I think we understand each other.”

So, Kim’s father — Kim Jong Il — died in 2011, giving the young man a chance to lead his desperately poor nation. How does Kim Jong Un respond? By furthering the starvation, intimidation, abuses, crimes against humanity that his father and grandfather made infamous during their respective regimes.

Politico continued: Trump made his comments Tuesday aboard Air Force One on his return from Singapore, where he’d met with Kim and hailed the North Korean leader as a “smart” and “funny guy” who “loves his people.”

Smart? Funny guy? Someone who “loves” his people?

He is cagey, cunning and supremely frightening to his subjects, the citizens of North Korea.

I laughed out loud last night when MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell made this curious observation: He said Kim Jong Un is the only “overweight” North Korean because he — unlike his subjects — is able to eat whatever he wants, whenever he wants and in whatever quantities he chooses. North Korea’s citizens, meanwhile, are starving — many of them to death.

This is the guy Donald Trump calls “honorable”?

Disgraceful.

More armchair diagnosis is coming

John Harwood is an educated man. He’s smart. He is well-spoken. He can string sentences together.

He lacks, however, a certain credential that is important in his assessing the president’s state of mind and, I’ll presume, his medical competence: Harwood lacks a medical degree.

He writes for the New York Times, he once wrote for the Wall Street Journal and he is a contributor to CNBC, the cable news network that specializes in business news. He graduated from Duke University with a degree in history and economics.

But here he goes, popping off about Donald Trump’s mental state. He said the president’s press conference before departing the G-7 summit was a stumbling, bumbling performance.

Then he said this on MSNBC: I got to say that the upshot about this press conference was about tariffs. I’ll be honest as a citizen: I’m concerned about the president’s state of mind. He did not look well to me in that press conference. He was not speaking logically or rationally. It sounded as if he was making stuff up, saying China told me nobody’s ever talked to us, saying, ‘Oh, I talked to Justin Trudeau and can’t believe he was getting away with so much trade stuff.’

I don’t think those things are true. And he — there was something about his affect which was oddly kind of languid for him. I don’t know what it means but he did not look well to me.

C’mon, Mr. Harwood. Leave the diagnoses to the pros, the individuals who have training in observing people’s behavior.

This kind of cheap-seat evaluation is getting tiresome. A journalist’s national forum does not give him license to discuss issues of which he knows nothing.

Suck it up, Michael Wolff, and take the heat

I am well into Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” and am finding it an interesting and entertaining piece of work. Much of it rings true as well.

But when the author goes on these national TV talk shows to discuss some of the more, um, salacious elements of the book, he needs to prepare for the grilling he should expect to get.

He got grilled hard this week on MSNBC by “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, who wondered why he would suggest that U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley would be engaging in an affair with Donald John Trump.

Wolff took offense at the question. Brzezinski persisted, noting that he implies an alleged Haley-Trump “relationship” near the end of his book.

The back-and-forth continued for a few moments before Brzezinski shut the interview down.

Wolff defamed Haley, according to Brzezinski. Wolff decided to go after the MSBNC co-host in a series of tweets after his appearance on “Morning Joe.”

I won’t comment yet on “Fire and Fury,” as I have a good bit of it yet to read. I do object, though, to assertions he is making about our nation’s U.N. ambassador and the president. This is a serious head-scratcher, given the ubiquitous presence of cameras, recording devices and other gadgets that can detect any kind of, um, “suspicious” behavior.

As for the author’s inability or unwillingness to endure tough questioning from journalists, well, he needs to toughen up.

This former GOP rep has, um, ‘evolved’

Joe Scarborough has gone through an interesting evolution since when he was a young member of Congress from Florida.

He was a conservative Republican who once voted to impeach President Clinton. Then he left public office in 2001 and has pursued a career as a cable news host and commentator.

Now he is one of Donald J. Trump’s most reviled critics. He has left the Republican Party; he’s engaged to be married to his MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host, Mika Brzezinski.

He is now speaking more, um, candidly about the president and, to my mind, is speaking more truthfully about many of the nonsensical things that fly out of the president’s mouth.

He said this week that had Democratic presidents, such as Barack Obama or Bill Clinton, “slandered” the FBI the way Trump has done, conservatives would mount a virtual all-out rebellion against either of them. They would give Obama or Clinton “holy hell” for saying the things Trump has said.

He now accuses the GOP of being “accomplices with their silence” about the president’s harsh criticism of the FBI.

Indeed, there once was a time when Americans hardly ever heard Republicans say things out loud that one could construe as critical of law enforcement. Indeed, the GOP was often considered to be the “law and order” party.

Those days are gone. The roles seem reversed, with Democrats now standing solidly behind the FBI as it seeks to do its job.

So, too, is Joe Scarborough, the one-time Republican who’s had enough of his former political party and its leader, the president of the United States.

Welcome to the club, Joe.

Turn off the TV, Mr. President

Donald J. Trump told us he wouldn’t tweet once became president of the United States.

“I’ll be too busy” making America great again, building a wall, defeating ISIS and bringing back jobs that had been shipped to “China and Mexico,” the president said.

The president has gone Twitter crazy. He can’t stop tweeting policy decisions, criticism of foes, friends and the media.

He also told us he wouldn’t have time to play golf, that he doesn’t even think he’ll take vacations once he took the presidential oath. How’s he done there?

Trump is set to play more golf in his first year than his predecessor, Barack H. Obama, did during his eight years as president.

He’s now zero for two.

OK, now he says he doesn’t watch much television. No time for that, either. The president says he reads “a lot of documents.” Is he telling the truth on this one? The New York Times reports that Trump watches more than four hours of TV daily; it might be as much as eight hours.

He watches CNN, Fox, a little MSNBC, perhaps a broadcast network news show or two, according to the Times. Then he tweets almost immediately after hearing the news, whether it’s “fake” or whether it comes from Fox — his favorite news network.

So, by my score, the president is zero for three on these promises and declarations.

Oh, but what the heck. He “tells it like it is.”

Media getting the lashing they deserve

It hurts a bit to say this, but the so-called “mainstream media” are getting trashed — for the right reasons.

The media have been criticized for the slant of their coverage of news events, of politicians. Conservatives have labeled the MSM as tools of the liberal political establishment. I haven’t bought into that argument.

What’s happening now to the media, though, is an examination of a culture that seems to pervade it. We are witnessing the toppling of media heavyweights because of the way they behave toward women … allegedly.

Bill O’Reilly at Fox News: gone; Charlie Rose of CBS and PBS; he’s toast; Mark Halperin of MSNBC: he’s outta there; Glenn Thrush of the New York Times and MSNBC: he, too, is gone; Michael Oreskes of National Public Radio: see ya later.

What do these men have in common? They all were accused by women of making sexual advances on them, of committing acts of sexual harassment, of sexual abuse. The allegations include groping, prancing around in the nude, making inappropriate remarks … and some things I probably shouldn’t mention here because they’re in poor taste.

The word now is that media outlets are soul-searching. They are schooling their employees — the males at least — on how to behave, how to treat their female colleagues.

What gives this story its extra legs quite arguably is that the media have been covering the sexual misdeeds of others, namely politicians and entertainment tycoons. That coverage has exposed media companies — and the men who report and comment on others’ conduct — to the very revelations we have learned about their own behavior.

As Politico has reported: “We have robust policies in place and have become more focused on communicating those policies across the organization,” said New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha in an email. “In recent weeks, we’ve reminded employees of our Anti-Harassment, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Non-Discrimination policies and we’ve highlighted the many ways an employee can raise an issue or file a complaint, including through an anonymous hotline.”

That’s fine. Now it’s time for the Times and other media outlets to root out the bad actors within their ranks immediately.

Let’s banish partisan stereotypes

There’s a common stereotype kicked around about Republicans and Democrats.

Republicans are hard-hearted; Democrats are squishy do-gooders.

I want to take on the GOP stereotype briefly here by calling attention to something U.S. Rep. Mike McCaul of Texas said about four of his Republican colleagues who voted recently against a package that include $15 billion in aid to victims of Hurricane Harvey.

You’ve heard of Harvey, yes? It blew in twice over the Texas coast, ravaging communities from the Coastal Bend to the Golden Triangle. Four of McCaul’s GOP colleagues voted “no” on the aid package because it sought to raise the debt limit ceiling.

One of the four happens to be my congressman, Mac Thornberry of Clarendon.

Oh, Mac. I mean, really?

Here’s what McCaul said, according to Texas Monthly: “I don’t want to judge them,” McCaul said Monday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, according to the Austin American-Statesman. “I judge myself and my conscience, and when I have people dying and hurting in my home state, it was my duty and my moral obligation to help them, and I felt that that vote was a vote of conscience to help people in my state and also now in Florida. I think that’s what Americans do, and I think it’s unconscionable to vote against something like that.” 

Actually, he did “judge them.” But that’s all right with me. Judge away, Rep. McCaul.

More from Texas Monthly: “I think having to raise the debt ceiling was the issue, and the fact is that Mick Mulvaney is the director of [the Office of Management and Budget], and he was a Freedom Caucus guy when he served with us, and he told us point blank that you could not appropriate disaster relief if you didn’t raise the debt ceiling, so we were stuck with that choice,” McCaul said. “What do you with that choice? Just stand on principle and vote ‘no’? And I question that principle. Or do you vote to help people back in your home state who are hurting really badly?”

Well said, Rep. McCaul.

So, let’s end the stereotyping.

Parties change, politicians don’t

One of the nation’s more well-known Republicans has bolted his party. I’m going to presume for the purposes of this blog post that it’s because the Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Trump and Joe Scarborough no longer is comfortable with that association.

Scarborough — who says he’ll register as an independent — is now host of an MSNBC talk show, “Morning Joe,” which he co-hosts with Mika Brzezinski. They’ve been in the news of late, with Donald J. Trump tweeting some nasty comments about Brzezinski, who happens to be Scarborough’s fiancée. It’s complicated, yes?

But the Scarborough’s departure from the GOP is part of a trend that swings in both directions, involving both major parties. It happens when a particular political party veers into an dramatically different direction. Such is the case with the Republican Party that nominated an inexperienced entertainer as its presidential nominee who then has behaved like someone who is clueless about political decorum, norms and custom.

Oh, and he’s also someone who continues on the same insult and innuendo barrage that got him nominated and then elected.

Scarborough is no Republican In Name Only, although I’m sure the devoted Trumpkins out there will call him a RINO as often as possible. He once voted to impeach President Clinton when he was serving in the House of Representatives from Florida. He fancies himself as a serious conservative thinker and commentator. He joins a few other long time prominent Republicans who have left the party for essentially the same reason. The noted Washington Post columnist George Will is the most notable example.

Here in Texas, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in the other direction over many years as the state shifted from true blue to deep red. Democrats became Republicans because of the shift in Democratic Party ideology. I can think of several individuals: former state Rep. Warren Chisum of Pampa; the late former Gov. John Connally; former Gov. Rick Perry. They all were Democrats when they entered public life. They are far from the only Texas Democrats who would no longer feel comfortable with the party of their political “birth.”

So, now it’s Scarborough who’s bolted the GOP.

My hunch? We’re going to see more political out-migration.

Declaring war on this overused cliche

I am declaring a state of war with a phrase that is driving me stark raving mad … I’m tellin’ ya.

“At the end of the day” has emerged as the most annoying cliché in the modern English language.

I just watched an interview on MSNBC’s “Last Word” show hosted by Lawrence O’Donnell, one of my favorite TV pundits/commentators. He didn’t use that phrase. O’Donnell apparently knows better.

Oh, no. It came from his guests: foreign policy wonk John McLaughlin and Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times columnist who is known for his expertise on Far East issues.

I heard Kristof drop “at the end of the day” twice in the span of about 15 seconds while responding to a question from O’Donnell. It’s particularly disappointing to hear it come from Kristof who, as a journalist, I am quite certain would never write that cliché in one of his NY Times columns.

(As an aside, I want to share with you that Kristof and I are “homeys” of a sort, as we both grew up in Oregon. I came of age in the Portland suburbs; Kristof grew up in the Willamette Valley.)

Here’s my theory on “at the end of the day” and its purpose for those who keep using it. It’s a setup phrase. I’ve concluded that whoever uses the phrase to preface a conclusion, it is to lend credence — a sort of gravitas — to whatever point the individual is trying to make.

“At end of the day, I am quite certain you have to stay hydrated during the hottest periods of the summer.”

Do you get it?

I do not yet know how this war I have declared will develop. I don’t have a strategy for waging it. I guess I’ll just start by pledging never to use it in this blog — except to call attention to its annoying quality; I also will pledge never to be caught dead saying it out loud.

If only these talking heads would toss the phrase into the crapper.

Trump has been called out by, um, the best

I almost don’t know how to react to this item.

Joy Reid is a TV talk show host. Her MSBNC show is called “AM Joy.” This morning she welcomed a guest to discuss Donald J. Trump’s tweet storm, namely the hideous nature of his attacks on the media.

Reid’s guest was none other than Jerry Springer, the king of daytime trash TV. Springer — of all the people on Earth — said that the president’s tweets are beneath the dignity “of any decent man.”

Roll that one around for a moment. Springer, of course, is correct. Part of me wants to applaud Springer for speaking out. Another part of me cannot get past the supreme irony of such a message coming from this guy.

I need to mention, though, that before Springer made his fortune playing host to TV guests accusing each other of engaging in behavior that boggles any reasonable mind, he once was mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio.

So, Mr. President? Take a bow. You’ve been called out by the best.

Check it out here.