On the day that FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee that they could find no evidence to support President Trump's claim that he was "wiretapped" by President Obama during the campaign, Trump told a rally in Louisville, Kentucky that the reason NFL QB Colin Kaepernick has not been signed by a team is because the owners are afraid of getting a negative tweet from Donald Trump.
The President told the crowd, "There was an article today...that NFL owners don't want to pick him up because they don't want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump."
President Trump based his comment on a single Bleacher Report article quoting an AFC general manager who said that teams had not signed Kaepernick because they were concerned about a backlash from fans.
Last season, Kaepernick sparked a huge controversy over his refusal to stand during the playing of the National Anthem to protest racial injustice in America. Kaepernick has since renounced his protest and has stated he will stand for the National Anthem, but he remains a free agent.
President Trump is taking credit for that because the he claims to be so powerful and threatening that teams are afraid of being on the receiving end of a negative tweet from him. This would be laughable if it were not so frightening.
For those who argue that President Trump is not mentally stable enough to lead this country, the President is continuing to provide evidence to support their theory. To stretch one article in which one general manager says that teams have not been interested in signing QB Colin Kaepernick because of the possibility of backlash from fans, into a claim that states every NFL team is afraid to sign Kaepernick is totally reckless.
Most discouraging is the probability that if President Obama had made an equivalent fallacy, conservatives would be calling into talk radio shows bashing Obama and questioning his ability to lead. Let's remember, however, that there are many conservatives who voted for President Trump who do not approve of some of the ramblings of the exaggerator-in-chief.
Lying and deceit seem to be acceptable actions in the world of politics; but we should expect, and more importantly we should demand, that politicians do not allow their egos to fabricate self-praise.
An individual who has achieved so much success in life and has now risen to become President of the United States should not be obsessed with being #1 or being the best, and President Trump's obsession with status is troubling.
Each day, there are new challenges for the many Trump supporters who find it more and more difficult to explain his words and actions. Truth is an imperative element in a free and civil republic, and truth is becoming more and more elusive. The truth is less important than what some Americans want to believe; but no matter how much one believes that something is the truth, only the truth should matter to a successful society.
The false conclusion that President Trump sees himself as so powerful and threatening that NFL teams will not sign Colin Kaepernick out of fear of being blasted in a Trump tweet involves a superficial subject matter. But what happens when the same mind obsessed with self-promotion creates false conclusions on a subject like whether the United States should launch a preemptive strike against North Korea?
The pattern and application of his thoughts are crucial to having trust in the President of the United States.
It's fair to describe TV host/political commentator Bill Maher as a liberal, even though he borders on being a libertarian and says a few things congruent with conservative ideology.
At his stand-up show Saturday night at the historic Saenger Theater in downtown New Orleans, Bill Maher lectured Democrats while he satisfied their appetite for some good Trump bashing. Maher told Democrats to get off their asses and make a difference. One of the main points he drove home to Democrats was to "stop being so nice."
Is Bill Maher right when he tells Democrats to stop "being so nice?" I think he is, and I do believe we are already seeing signs of a change in attitude with the tone and frequency of the anti-Trump protests and noise in the media.
This is a very general observation, but accurate nonetheless. As a group, ultra conservatives not only espouse their beliefs but also have a tendency to make the tone of their beliefs one of "this is not just what I believe, but this is how you should live your life." And that goes for everything from guns to gay marriage. Liberals have more of a tendency to say, "this is what I believe – you live your life, and I'll live mine."
The idea of a message carrying a tone of a specific mandate for living life is more likely to create confrontation than the idea of "I'll do what I want and you do what you want to do."
Conservative talk radio has been so successful, in part, because of the compelling nature of the confrontations on the air. The same can be said for Fox News. News and talk shows that deal with serious news are still forms of entertainment and are, therefore, subject to the same principles that govern dramas or any form of entertainment. Confrontation is one of the elements used to attract attention for every medium of entertainment, from books to TV shows to movies. Confrontation helps make talk radio compelling.
The ultra-right, not the many moderates who consider themselves on the right, has been awakened and active for years over the presumption that the "liberal media" is a threat to society. The election of Barak Obama in 2008 further fueled the flames of unrest among the right.
The election of Donald Trump seems to have awakened a sleeping giant on the left and more than the ultra-left is responding. Americans who consider themselves moderate, whether they lean right or left, appear to be becoming more vocal and less "nice."
Donald Trump became president because of a populist movement in America that is also trendy globally. The far right did not put Trump in the White House; it was the moderate voters who lean right or left who elected him. They were driven more by a desire for change; and Donald Trump represented change compared to the only other option, Hillary Clinton, who was a poster candidate for the political establishment.
In the early days of his administration, President Trump may be gesturing to what he perceives as a right wing base; but ultimately, that is not the group he must satisfy to get re-elected in 2020.
Conservative talk radio and Fox News benefited from Obama being president because there was constant confrontation between conservative-based media and the President. The Fox News channel is now playing the part of siding with the President, and President Trump is using Fox News as if it were an extension of the Executive Branch. It will be interesting to see how this role reversal plays out.
It will also be interesting to see if MSNBC continues to experience it's trend of increasing ratings. They've consistently been in the basement of the cable news network ratings; but since the election, they've been going up. Will MSNBC, and perhaps even CNN, grow in popularity because they take over the role of being more confrontational towards the current administration? Remember, confrontation attracts ratings.
Even with a more confrontational position from Democrats, there still must be more civility among Americans and more respect for opposing views. However, Bill Maher is right when he says Democrats should stop "being so nice." My interpretation of not "being so nice" is that Democrats, moderates and those who do not comfortably fit into a either category should become more vocal and do a better job of balancing the disproportionate amount of coverage granted to the more extreme right and left.
Our show in the afternoon has been a home and a voice for the majority of Americans who are more moderate – populist – centrists and are not afraid to admit it.
If you've felt lost in the huge chasm between the right and the left, join our show in the afternoon (1:00 pm – 4:00 pm), get vocal and stop "being so nice!"
As a young disc jockey on the morning show of a rock music station in New Orleans in the 1970s, I felt like Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac were part of my job everyday. Fleetwood Mac reigned supreme among the artists I played.
As great as Fleetwood Mac was, and still is, Stevie Nicks was the vocal and visual focal point of the band. I always appreciated her subtle power. She has an indefinable charisma that contradicts her passive center stage position behind her mic stand. So powerful is Stevie Nicks' presence that even the slightest movement or iconic Stevie Nicks twirl drew applause from the audience.
Having seen Nicks several times in big arenas on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and in Baton Rouge and at Jazz Fest just 2 years ago, I wasn't sure if I would make the effort to go to her concert Wednesday night at the Smoothie King Center here in New Orleans. I got tickets at the last minute from the station, but I wasn't sure if I could breakaway from the compelling news that I have become so accustomed to watching every evening from the cable news channels. Since President Trump won the election, the news has been as riveting as a great drama.
The reason I was somewhat reluctant to go to the concert last night was because I felt like I had seen Stevie Nicks and the concert would be a repeat of the past. I was wrong!
I may have seen Stevie Nicks perform before, but I've never seen the Stevie Nicks I saw Wednesday night! She turned a concert in a large arena into an intimate evening with Stevie Nicks with storytelling and a degree of honesty that gave a glimpse into her personal life.
One of the first stories Stevie told was about how she first met Tom Petty, who became a friend and whose name would resurface in another story later in the show. Her story about Tom Petty led into the song she did with him, "Stop Draggin' My Heart." Tom wasn't there to sing the duet with her, but Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, who opened the show for Stevie, walked out to thunderous applause to sing the Tom Petty parts of the song. That was an epic rock moment.
Stevie talked about how much her life and her success have been a surprise to her. When she first started playing music in a band, she lamented about being a waitress and a cleaning lady and she, and how her love, Lindsay Buckingham, drove around in an old Toyota that didn't have reverse. The vision of those early times helped us understand how she reacted to the first time she flew first class and was picked up in a long, black limo. Her life has been a surprise to her.
When I saw Stevie Nicks in the 80s, at the height of her solo career, she disappeared from the stage numerous times for costume changes. The people I know in the business told me about her love of cocaine, and it was generally believed that the costume changes were simply an excuse to constantly do a bump during the show. I can't verify that, but the stories about Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac's relationship with cocaine were notorious. Last night, Stevie Nicks very briefly left the stage to change or add to what she was wearing, including the original Bella Donna cape, but that seemed to be part of her desire to refresh the visual rather than take a hit of coke.
Stevie Nicks looked and sounded great, and her personable attitude with the audience gave credence to the notion that she had broken her bad habits and was new again. Stevie Nicks today reflects so many in her generation that have come to realize that dependency on drugs is not the way to a long, successful life. And she seems to be having much more fun, too.
The theme of her current tour is performing many of the songs she loved that ended up in a box on the floor and were never heard by the public. But Stevie also did many of her favorites and our favorites like, "Gypsy," "Edge of 17," "Rhiannon" and "Standback," a song she did with Prince. Stevie talked about her respect of Prince; and when she gets nervous walking out to do a show, she'll ask Prince to walk with her. She says she knows he's there with her.
Like so many rock stars, Stevie Nicks loves New Orleans. She told her story of sitting on the sofa, watching the breaking news about this incredible storm named Katrina and how it touched her deeply, inspiring her to write a song titled, "New Orleans."
Performed publically for the first time on this tour, the song is about the city and the people of New Orleans, who are resilient and strong. She said she wanted to write a song about the people that love their city and how they will come back, no matter what challenges they face. The crowd loved it!
Stevie Nicks was a bit philosophical and motivational. She counted the years from when she wrote one song to performing it Wednesday night in the Smoothie King Center. She wrote it 44 years ago. Nicks was amazed that a song she wrote when she was a waitress and a cleaning lady was being performed in front of a huge rock crowd 44 years later. She told the audience that this was an example of having a dream and believing you can do it.
As I write this critique of the Stevie Nicks concert, I am not succumbing to the belief that critics must be critical to be critics. I loved the evening with Stevie Nicks, and I'm so glad I decided to go to the concert. I do feel like I saw Stevie Nicks for the first time Wednesday night.
As the show went on, there were a few times when maybe some of the stories were a bit long, but I wouldn't trade more concise stories for the overall biographical feel of the Stevie Nicks show I saw.
Toward the end, Stevie said, "I'm like your great aunt; you can't get rid of me."
The last song of her encore was one of the greatest songs ever written about life. Sitting alone in a house in Aspen, CO, Stevie Nicks wrote "Landslide" in 1973 at the age of 27. At the time these incredible lyrics came from her, she was a waitress and cleaning lady; and life was hard. But from that moment in her life, Stevie Nicks wrote the poetry of a song that still stands as a poetic and prophetic song about life. It focuses on her relationship with her father; and as she sat alone surrounded by snow-covered mountains, she wrote:
I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
'Til the landslide brought it down
Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changin' ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
The fact that Stevie Nicks wrote the words to that song long before she would become a recognized talent should tell you that you never know how significant something you do may be in the future.
Stevie Nicks is an example of staying true to your heart and your instincts – even if no one else is noticing at the time.
What started as a discussion on the show about how society is no longer shocked by 12-year-olds using a gun in an attempt to rob a couple in a prominent section of uptown New Orleans evolved into the beginning of an honest conversation about how young people become young criminals.
A call from a listener named Carl allowed me to lead the conversation down a new path. Carl talked about growing up in a neighborhood where he thought going to jail was something that was expected of him. In fact, when those around him were going to jail, Carl said he began wondering when was it going to be his turn to go to jail. Carl explained how his uncle taught him to steal.
I asked Carl how old he was when he had sex for the first time and he said, "13," but added that his friends were having sex at 11 and 12; and he knew that was too young. When I asked, Carl confirmed that he was exposed to sex growing up.
But Carl's life changed when he talked about moving to LaPlace. After moving, Carl was exposed to different people and saw a different way of life. Carl is a success, and he's raising daughters in an environment totally different from the one in which he grew up.
A conversation that begin Monday afternoon continued into Tuesday afternoon when a listener named Mike called into the show to echo the comments made by Carl.
Mike explained that he, too, had grown up in New Orleans in an environment where he was taught to steal and believed that what he saw was the way life was supposed to be. But Mike, like Carl, moved out of the city and was exposed to different people with different values and realized that there was another way to live.
Mike talked about the problems generated from the idea that you can get a free home, money and food if you have babies. Mike knew of a young woman who had 5 children all fathered by different men, and some ended up in prison. As an insider, Mike said that the cycle of children having children must end. He said that young mothers couldn't help their kids with their homework because they didn't go to school, and they were not educated enough to understand the work.
At the end of our conversation, Mike told us that, while on the phone, he was waiting to pick up his fiancée's son, whom he was helping to raise. He was also proud to say that he now has custody of his daughter.
Carl and Mike represented those who grew up in an environment that taught and supported criminal behavior, but both were fortunate enough to escape their surroundings. They discovered an environment that brought out the good and decent side of them. Today, they appear to be passing that positive view of life onto their children. This is how change happens.
In response to the calls from Carl and Mike, Tony and Tammy called the show on Tuesday to say that they also grew up in neighborhoods in New Orleans like that. However, both Tony and Tammy credited their strong mothers and grandmothers for demanding zero tolerance with the people they hung out with and brought to the house. Tony and Tammy wanted people to know that you can grow up in a tough, violent neighborhood in New Orleans and not subscribe to a criminal lifestyle IF you have strong leadership from adults.
If you didn't catch it live, please take the time and listen to Tammy HERE.
Something special happened on the show this week. We seem to have opened a part of a conversation that has not been appropriately addressed, and the most amazing thing to me is that people are eager to tell their stories. People want everyone to know how they resisted the temptations of a life of crime. People who feel as if their voice is not being heard were being heard through the platform of a radio talk show.
What I find most impressive about the conversation that has been started is the fact that race is not the top issue. Rather than focusing on how a disproportionate number of African-Americans in New Orleans are affected by a criminal environment, that is assumed; and the conversation is about people.
It also appears obvious that people do want to talk, but they feel like there is no place to be honest and say what they really want to say. The conversation we have started is free from political and activist intervention and spin, and it's an example of real people talking about real life – their life.
I often talk about the fact that politicians and leaders fail to address the real problems, which are the problems dealing with human behavior. Politicians and others like to focus on the tangible issues, like the lack of jobs, the lack of education and the lack of parental involvement. Every one of the calls that helped spark this conversation has pointed to the problems of human behavior.
Politicians are reluctant to address human behavior because that puts them in the position of blaming the voters. The preferred strategy to attract voters has been to identify outside sources, like failures of the system and not individuals, as the reason for the problems that lead to young people becoming young criminals.
Both sides of the debate are guilty of perpetrating the problems by failing to even attempt to understand the real problems. The fact is, there are jobs and there is free education; but neither means anything to an individual that has not been raised to appreciate the concept of work ethic, respect for life and respect for other people's property – especially their bodies.
Criminal behavior is taught; and that has been the compelling testimony of listeners who want you to know that they were either taught, or learned on their own, a different path in life.
When President Trump declared war on the news media, his goal was apparent – to destroy the credibility of a news media that was already suffering from low public approval ratings. However, the most recent controversies are showing that Trump's war on the news media may actually be helping it improve its image and, more importantly, substantiate the vital role the news media plays in all of our lives.
President Trump's feelings about the industry are confusing and ambivalent. As a businessman, and now as a politician, Donald Trump loves and even craves media attention. He has proven himself to be a showman as much as a businessman. The news media's infatuation with candidate Donald Trump early in the campaign led to widespread criticism from Democrats that the media, yes, the "liberal media," treated Trump to free publicity. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were spending millions while hours of free coverage were bestowed upon Donald Trump.
Once Trump won the nomination, and ultimately the presidency, the media struck a more adversarial position with Trump. President Trump's new mission was to discredit the news media to the point where anything and everything reported would be challenged by a skeptical public. But the end game of the Trump Administration may not turn out as planned.
During the campaign and as president, Donald Trump has repeated over and over that he would repeal and replace Obamacare. He further declared that everyone would be covered with health insurance and that premiums would be lower. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), up to 14 million Americans will not be covered under the new Trump health care plan, with that number rising to 24 million over a 10 year period.
The Trump administration quickly denounced the CBO report and the media's reporting on the plan. Many prominent Republicans on Capitol Hill are condemning the plan as the President continues to fight back. The predictions by the CBO are not infallible. So, what is public to believe? The role of the news media is to provide credible reporting and seek the truth beyond the political agendas.
President Trump originally tweeted: "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism."
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
In doubling down on his tweet, the President appeared to insist that former President Obama was a part of the Obama administration's illegal wiretapping of Trump's phones during the campaign.
As of yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that President Trump's original tweet should not be taken literally. The Trump administration says one thing, and the opposition says something completely different. Both sides have strong agendas. So which is correct? Usually both sides of any debate have legitimate points, but one side proves to be the victor.
In the debates over President Trump's claim that President Obama was involved in wiretapping Trump's phones and the promises about the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, we look to the news media to be the referee and ultimately declare a winner.
These are just two of many controversies that have erupted since Donald Trump became president, and there is every reason to believe there will be many more. The Trump Administration will claim one thing while Democrats, and many top ranking Republicans, will challenge what the President says. This is when America needs the news media to step in and set the record straight.
When candidate and now President Trump declared war on the news media, he tapped into the criticism that the industry itself had an agenda. The media deserved the criticism it received, but the overall role of the news media has never been more critical than it is today.
The news media needs to work to restore its credibility by reporting on the facts with less regard for racing to be the first with the information.
As biased as the news media may appear, it is less biased than those who have a direct stake in promoting an agenda or an angle to a story. There is much more balance on the major cable news networks than most people believe. Each of the cable news networks has opposing voices with every discussion on major issues. CNN recently hired conservative Republican Rick Santorum to add to the conservative voice on the network; and MSNBC and Fox News have their share of opposing voices, too.
The problem lies in the preconceived images that so many have of each of the cable news networks and the new media in general. As we say so often on our show on WWL – "people hear what they want to hear and see what they want to see." Americans are quick to blame the news media for its bias without recognizing their own biases as individuals.
With the challenges flowing from the early days of the Trump Administration, isn't it ironic that the President's denouncement of the news media comes at a time when the role of the news media has never been more important to the function of government?
Politicians use the news media to influence voters. Now it's time for the news media to be credible so that voters can use it to influence the politicians!
The political landscape in America is currently being rocked by a political earthquake – and the coming aftershocks might be good for our country.
Donald Trump was elected president because of America's collective frustration over the political status quo, which included deeply-rooted partisanship on the part of both parties.
However, the election of President Trump has not appeared to satisfy the yearning for something better. In this very early stage of the Trump administration, there have been a disproportionate number of unsettling moments.
Today, there are so many moving pieces it's difficult to focus on the most important issue. There are calls for investigations, and there already are investigations. The unsubstantiated claim by President Trump that former President Obama was involved in wiretapping candidate Trump's phone has caused a divide within the Republican Party. A few Republicans are denouncing the claim, but many remain silent out of fear that being honest will lead to the wrath of Trump.
The recently released GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is causing further divide among Republicans. Senator Tom Cotton, Republican from Arkansas, said of the rush to repeal and replace the ACA, "We're going to live with health care reform that we pass forever, or until it's changed in the far distant future." Senator Cotton added, "I would much sooner get health care reform right than get it fast."
In particular, conservative Republicans are bashing President Trump's plan to repeal and replace Obamacare because they view the new plan as nothing more than Obamacare Light. They see it as nothing more than Obamacare repackaged with a few changes as a way of quickly satisfying a campaign promise.
At a time when we have seen the Democratic Party severely divided following Hillary Clinton's loss to Donald Trump, we are now seeing a great divide within the Republican Party. Republicans are divided over the President's accusation that President Obama wiretapped Trump during the campaign, over implications that top individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign met inappropriately with top Russian officials and over the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. But is the divide we see in both parties a bad thing?
Perhaps the best sign of bipartisanship lies in the fact the Republicans are disagreeing with Republicans and Democrats are disagreeing with Democrats. Ideological cannibalism within a party may be more realistic than the two parties agreeing with each other. Either way, we may be witnessing a great divide within both parties that will lead to the recognition that this country is dominated by moderate-centrist-populists and not the right or the left.
Rather than chastise the Republicans currently at odds with the Trump Administration over the new health care plan or the unsubstantiated tweeted claim that Obama was part of a scheme to wiretap Trump, let's congratulate the Republicans that have the conviction to stand up for what they believe is right, as opposed to blindly following party lines. And the same should be said of the Democrats that are willing to stand up and disagree with their party line.
The current political earthquake rumbling under us may carry aftershocks that will finally sort out the extremists in both parties and bring the focus to the majority of America that is courageous enough to stand up for what is best for the American people rather than claiming membership with the extremes.
The term March Madness used to only refer to the crazy month of March in college basketball when teams are making a final push into the tournaments, but in 2017, the term March Madness also pertains to the craziness of presidential politics!
The current wave controversies flying through the White House is characteristic of a fictional script for a drama series based on a new president taking office. The actual news is making the bizarre twists and turns of the various political dramas on the cable and premium channels seem rather benign. It's always worth noting when the excitement of reality surpasses the creative freedom of fiction.
President Trump has accused President Obama of ordering wiretaps on Trump before the election. Top officials from the Obama Administration, including the former Obama FBI Director, James Clapper, said, "there was no such wiretapactivity mounted against the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate or against his campaign."
Over the weekend, the news media pressed President Trump to reveal evidence that his dramatic charge was true. Without revealing any evidence that what President Trump said about President Obama wiretapping his campaign is true, the President then called on Congress to launch a full investigation to determine if it is true. Is that an admission that there is currently no real evidence indicating that President Obama ordering the wiretapping?
President Trump appears to have based his tweet about the wiretapping from an ultra conservative radio talk show host, who ranted about the Obama administration wiretapping the Trump campaign on his radio show. Did President Trump rely on a radio talk show host with a conservative agenda for his definitive tweet that President Obama ordered Trump wiretapped?
White House spokeswomen Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders both used the tactic that "if" the information is true then this is a very serious matter. Anyone could say "if" something were to be true, then it would be a very serious matter for countless charges. The idea is the "if" tactic makes this a very serious matter and should cause alarm.
Here's why this is serious. If President Trump is right and President Obama did order Trump's campaign to be wiretapped or if there is no credible evidence that Obama ordered the wiretapping, the controversy currently in play signals a serious flaw in what is and what is not to be believed.
If there is evidence that the wiretapping was ordered by President Obama, the ramifications are obvious. It was either dirty politics; or, even worse, there was evidence that the Trump campaign was involved in activity that warranted a judge to approve an order for the wiretapping.
If there is no credible evidence of an order to wiretap the Trump campaign, then President Trump would be guilty of irrationally using a rant from a conservative radio talk show host as the legal basis for the serious accusation against a former U.S. president.
No matter which proves to be true, this is serious and damaging to our political system; and it could be that the side that has condemned the use of "fake news" to damage the credibility of the other side is, indeed, guilty of using "fake news" as a strategically placed distraction.
President Trump was described by some insiders as being angrier than ever following the handling of stories linking attorney General Jeff Sessions to inappropriate contact with a top Russian official during the campaign. Could the President have been so upset that he tweeted out the distraction that his campaign was wiretapped by President Obama? If that is true, then we need to consider the rationality of responses from President Trump.
To further complicate President Trump's charges of wiretapping, FBI Director James Comey is now demanding that the Justice Department refute Trump's claim that Obama ordered the wiretaps of Trump's campaign.
The idea that a president would publically indict a former president of illegal wiretapping without solid proof is a threat to America. But so is the idea that a former president would order the illegal wiretapping of an opposing party's presidential candidate.
Either way this controversy unfolds – in favor of or against President Trump – America is dealing with a new type of March Madness that threatens some of the most basic concepts of our civilized and democratic society.
America may need Dramamine because the spinning on both sides will be relentless!
One year ago this month, candidate Donald Trump named Senator Jeff Sessions to head his foreign advisory team. A year later, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the key figure in a growing controversy over reports that the Trump campaign was in direct contact with top Russian officials.
On Thursday, just hours after President Trump expressed full confidence in his Attorney General and rejected the idea that Sessions should recuse himself from any investigation into possible contacts with the Russian ambassador, Jeff Sessions announced he was recusing himself from any present or future investigations into the matter.
But during the announcement, Sessions made some remarks that might prove to be incriminating. Sessions admitted that he should have said that he did have contact with Russian officials and further stated that his response to the Senate committee should have been more accurate. That's an admission that he was not completely honest under oath during his Senate confirmation hearings.
Sessions repetitive refrain, "I don't recall," resurrects memories of the Watergate hearings and the often-used phrase, "To the best of my recollection." As a kid, I was introduced to the concept of claiming you don't remember as a defense when I sat in front of the TV every day watching the Watergate hearings while the other kids were outside playing! It's difficult to prove that someone did remember when claiming they didn't.
President Trump has, again, tried to discredit the media investigation by calling this controversy a "political witch hunt." That will rile up the most loyal Trump supporters, but there appears to be enough evidence coming from U.S. intel agencies, U.S. allies and credible sources to dismiss the idea that the media is guilty of a "witch hunt."
In the aftermath of the resignation of President Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the controversy surrounding the Attorney General meeting with Russian officials is an embarrassment for the new Administration.
At this point, I can't imagine that Jeff Sessions will remain as Attorney General. Sessions should not be forced to resign simply because incriminating information surfaces, but the way Sessions has handled the situation is grounds for his resignation.
Jeff Sessions was the most prominent Republican to openly endorse Donald Trump at a time when the Republican Establishment was fighting against Trump becoming the party's nominee. Trump has been described as a being very loyal person to those closest to him. Could it be that President Trump was too quick to repay Sessions for his early loyalty and that he chose the wrong attorney general?
To the most loyal Trump supporters – what would your reaction have been to the loyal Obama supporters who refused to accept an obvious negative? Until we all get to the point where we can admit the faults of those we support, this country will continue to be divided by sheer stubbornness
The day after President Trump was praised for his inspiring and inclusive address to a joint session of Congress, controversy has erupted over reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contact with the Russian ambassador during the campaign.
"Fox and Friends," the morning show on the Fox News Channel, floated the idea that this news about Sessions broke when it did as a media distraction from the positive momentum generated by the President's speech Tuesday night. Of course, that's possible, but timing is part of the political game. The Trump campaign didn't question the timing of damaging information released about Hillary Clinton's emails, which seemed to have a major impact on her campaign.
Attempts to divert attention away from the content of the negative news by suggesting that the timing is politically motivated is a defensive move more than it is a legitimate complaint. Even if the timing of the release of the information was orchestrated, the content of the story does not change.
Did Senator Jeff Sessions make contact with Russian officials in an effort to coordinate Russia's involvement in the election? At this point, that's a legitimate question that is understandably uncomfortable for the Trump Administration.
It is not unusual for a senator to have contact with Russian officials, but during his Senate confirmation hearings, Sessions told the committee, under oath, that he did not have contact with Russian officials. Evidence from the Washington Post appears to indicate that Sessions was in contact with Russian officials at the time he was working on Trump's campaign. But we still don't know if that contact was about Russia's influence on the campaign.
The biggest problem for Attorney General Sessions is that he said, under oath, that he had no contact and was not aware of any campaign officials being in contact with Russian officials. Could he have simply forgotten? Perhaps, but Sessions later indicated that he didn't talk about the campaign. Would that indicate that there was contact?
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling for Jeff Sessions to resign as Attorney General. Other Democrats and some conservative Republicans are supporting the idea of an investigation. Since there is much we do not know, a demand for Sessions to resign seems like a premature politically motivated demand. However, there appears to be enough information to warrant an investigation, in which Jeff Sessions would recuse himself from that investigation.
National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was forced from his position in the Trump White House because of reports that he was in contact with top-ranking Russian officials prior to Trump's inauguration. The American people have a right to know the truth.
Was the Trump campaign working with Russian officials in a plan to influence the election? If the information proves to be false, then the media outlets that have perpetrated the idea that the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia should lose the public's trust and make a well-publicized apology to President Trump, Attorney General Sessions and anyone else falsely implicated.
If it is established that representatives of the Trump campaign had inappropriate contact with top Russian officials, then President Trump, AG Sessions and any surrogate speaking on behalf of Trump, must openly admit they deceived the public and should face any appropriate disciplinary actions.
As far as the timing of the release of this breaking news goes, timing is part of political strategy and while it seems unfair to your side, it is part of the political game. And if there is truth to the story, the best way to discredit the damaging information is to focus on the motive behind releasing the information and not the information.
Today, Monday, February 27, 2017, is a normal Monday around the country, but here in New Orleans and across the Gulf South, it is anything but – it’s Lundi Gras! Fat Monday!
Mardi Gras is one of the many things that separates us from the rest of the country this time of year, and if you think about what we go through to enjoy the revelry, it makes it difficult to make it seem like something rational people would do voluntarily.
We endure traffic jams that could be described as a “rush hour on steroids.” We often leave the comfort of our homes many hours even days, before the parades begin to stake out territory so we can wait for hours before the parades pass by.
The crowds are 10-12-14 people thick and there’s pushing and bumping into one another – and that’s even before the parade arrives. And, that physical contact only intensifies, when riders on floats shower crowds with beads, cups, stuffed animals, spears, coconuts and a variety of items fitting for the décor in a child bedroom.
Some women lift their shirts exposing their breasts in exchange for worthless beads, which can only mean they really wanted to experience a moment of uninhabited bliss.
Many wear costumes that are uncomfortable, but bring joy to the rest of us on the other side, who smile, laugh, take photos or videos. And on weekends and especially on Mardi Gras day, countless revelers will make a conscience decision to begin drinking early in the morning with the understanding that they will drink all day. The only explanation for why we do all this -because we can!
Mardi Gras is a unique gathering and the history of wearing masks explains the spirit of this special time. In the beginning, masks were worn by many so everyone was perceived as being equal on that day.
At the time, society was divided differently than today. People were separated by class and were not allowed to gather with everyone. Masks hid the identity of one’s class, which allowed everyone to gather together and mingle.
Maybe we should think about the history behind wearing masks on Mardi Gras day, even if we’re not wearing one? Our nation has never been this emotionally divided along political lines in modern history. Mardi Gras should be appreciated as a time when we all - rich, poor, young, old, male, female, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, straight, gay, Christian, Muslim come together for a common celebration.
The meaning behind wearing masks on Mardi Gras Day should serve as a reminder that we should, but don’t always treat each other equally.
It would be nice if we could carry the spirit of Mardi Gras throughout the year... and throughout America!