Did The White House Use Hurricane Harvey to Distract from the Sheriff Joe Pardon and Transgender Military Enrollment Ban?

It's Saturday morning here in the Midwest. A serine morning with a clear blue sky and cooler air. 

My attention, like that of many others, is captivated by news reports of Hurricane Harvey barreling down on the Texas coast. Lots of damage in Corpus Christi. Lots of flooding expected in Houston / Galveston.

Perhaps my attention is drawn to this storm more than other people. I've visited and spent time in Corpus Christi and Galveston, and I'm familiar with the locations I see on TV. And, if we're being honest, I'm a weather and disaster junkie. 

But I know I'm not alone in being temporarily distracted from a couple of other items on the president's agenda on Friday.

The first was the pardon of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt for continuing to detain suspected undocumented immigrants, despite a court order to do so. 

The second was finally putting, in writing, a ban on transgender individuals from enlisting in the military. President Trump had already signaled a ban in a Tweet. Friday he made the policy official.

With such a major event going on in the country (Harvey is the first hurricane to strike the U.S. mainland in years), one would think that preparation and response would be the top priority for the president of the United States. 

Yet, these were the items the White House deemed to be a priority despite the hurricane. Elizabeth Warren sums it up pretty well.

Warren's indignation, while perhaps self serving for someone with presidential ambitions of her own, nonetheless brings up the broader questions: why this, why now?

Aside from the rote liberal response of, "Because he's evil and prejudiced," let me add another: the White House knows it's wrong.

There's an old theory in politics that says it's best to release bad news on a Friday. People are more distracted and less engaged on the weekends. TV ratings are down. The end game is that anything controversial is less likely to stir up strong blowback if you put it out on a Friday. 

How much better with a hurricane captivating the nation's attention?

Here are a couple of things I can say about how I would operate if I were giving the president political advice:

  1. I wouldn't want anyone to question where the president's attention was during a major hurricane
  2. If I wanted people to notice a move the White House made, I would make the announcement after the weekend and outside of a major disaster event

Those two items are so common sense that what the White House actually did can only lead us to two conclusions:

  1. The White House knows these moves will cause controversy, and while they will make the president's die hard supporters happy, they want everyone else to ignore it
  2. It is so important that these announcements be under the radar that they are willing to risk having people question the president's attention to the hurricane to make it so

These aren't the moves of an administration that is operating from a place of moral high ground. They have few friends right now and want to give their die hard supporters some red meat.

I know it. You know it. Everyone knows it. 

The White House is simply hoping that you'll have too many other things on your mind to care about it. 

I'm a politically independent blogger and podcaster who is often wrong but insists on writing about politics anyway. If you enjoyed this post, please help support my work by following me on Facebook here.

To My Trump Supporting Friends, Part II

Back on election night, when I watched this travesty that is the Trump administration finally become a reality, I told you I knew why you did what you did

For some of you, it was about Hillary. For others, it was a protest against the elites. You said you lived through 8 years of Obama, so others would just have to live for a few years under Donald Trump. He would be a better leader once he got in office, you said.

But what I knew, and so many others like me knew, was that Donald Trump was a man who used veiled racism and bullying to work enough people into enough of a lather that he got put in office. We knew that his election would only further embolden racism and hate. 

Perhaps you dismissed those concerns as liberal hysterics. 

Yesterday was the day that the President of the United States, the one you perhaps voted for, couldn't bring himself to specifically call out Nazis and white supremacists after the violence in Charlottesville.

By condemning only the violence "on many sides," Trump failed to distinguish between the two groups of protesters that clashed in the Virginia town. While neither side should engage in violence, the president decided to ignore that one group was there to promote racist views, and the other was there to stand against it. 

It's an omission that matters. Given the baggage he brought into the office, the American people needed to hear from this president that the vile and disgusting views promoted by the Nazis and white nationalists had no place in America.

He refused to do it. The first time I hoped beyond hope that it was an omission due to political inexperience and off-the-cuff remarks.

Then, when given a second chance, the White House refused to do it again.

If this was your candidate, today is the day you have to ask yourself why. Why can't the president of the United States call out racism when politicians across the country, both left and right, are doing so? Does he agree with these racists? Is he afraid of them? Does he covet their political support above the desire to do the right thing?

I don't know. All I know is that this is your candidate, the one you helped put in office.

And I know that you know in your heart of hearts that this is wrong. 

Let today be the day that you decide that putting this man in the White House was a mistake, and that you do everything you can to fix it.

I'm a politically independent blogger and podcaster who is often wrong but insists on writing about politics anyway. If you enjoyed this post, please help support my work by following me on Facebook here.

St. Louis Makes A Good List; What Do Local Leaders Want Missouri To Be?

Posted by Jason Griffin.

Posted by Jason Griffin.

Is that St. Louis? On a good list?

And is that Columbia? Two Missouri cities? On the same good list?

Believe it or not, yes. In a list of the 25 coolest and most affordable cities for millennials, both Missouri cities made the cut. Columbia, with it's massive growth over the past several years and college town hipness, came in at Number 15.

St. Louis was... drum roll please...  Number 1. 

St. Louis has gotten a bad rap over the years, much of it undeserved. Known as one of the most violent cities in the United States, St. Louis's homicide rate often makes news for all the wrong reasons. 

What doesn't get explained, because it doesn't fit into a neat headline, is that St. Louis City proper is only a very small part of the greater metropolitan area. Landlocked on the east by the Mississippi River, and on the west by incorporated suburbs in separate St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis hasn't been able to grow geographically like other major cities. It's high-crime area inside the main urban core isn't dissimilar from other major cities. It's just that with a city-proper population of only 315,000 out of a metro area of nearly 3,000,000, its murder rate gets skewed.

Whew... that was a long explanation. 

But those details are important. It's time for St. Louis, and Missouri as a whole, to start fighting back for our reputations.

I grew up in Carbondale, Illinois, about 2 hours south of St. Louis. The St. Louis I know isn't an urban wasteland. The St. Louis I know is the one where my friends and I went to see music we couldn't see in Southern Illinois. The St. Louis I know is the one where we went to see great baseball. The St. Louis I know is the one where people were sent when they needed top-notch health care they couldn't get back home.

In other words, St. Louis, to me, was a place of opportunity. When I decided I wanted to work in media and didn't feel like putting up with 3 more years of real college, St. Louis was where I moved to study broadcasting. I go back and visit often.

But reputations matter. That's why if you look at the fastest growing cities in the United States, St. Louis is nowhere to be seen. In fact, out of the top 50 metros in the United States, only 6 have slower percent growth.

And as far as Missouri is concerned, after building what most would consider to be a happy little life here in Columbia, my wife and I have often talked about moving on. Columbia, for all its growth, and for all it has to offer, seems to be an anomaly in this state. We're ready to be someplace bigger, and those conversations often revolve heading someplace where things are happening. We rattle off words such as Dallas, and Houston, and Austin. Everywhere you look, it's clear in those places that growth is happening. We visit and find ourselves wanting to be there.

Yet, we come home to Missouri and ask, "Why can't Missouri be that place? Why can't St. Louis and Kansas City be the cities everyone talks about and everyone wants to move to? Why can't Columbia be the glue that holds those two together?"

St. Louis has a wonderful cultural scene with one of the nation's best free art museums, an emerging culinary culture, and great entertainment options.

Kansas City is gorgeous, friendly, home to many large companies and is revitalizing its downtown.

Columbia is an excellent college town with big-time SEC sports, a nationally-recognized journalism program, not one one but TWO nationally-recognized film festivals, and is one of the fastest-growing cities in the Midwest.

Missouri's rural areas offer some of the best outdoor recreation in all of the Midwest with amazing trails and scenery.

Yet, this message doesn't get delivered. Somehow, our politicians (left and right) get caught up in petty, culture wars politics that take us nowhere. Some Republican gets mad because his business gets sued for racial discrimination, and the next thing you know Republicans have passed a bill that says racism has to be the primary reason an employee gets let go in order for the business to get sued. (So, it's only a problem if racism is the primary reason?) The NAACP over-reacts with a first-of-its-kind travel warning. (You know, like the US State Department issues for certain 3rd world hellholes).

Partisan politicos may see a worthy battle. The rest of the country simply sees dysfunction.

Yet, clearly, there are great things about this place. Things that have gotten the attention of people outside of here.

My question for every statewide and community leader is what are you doing to help get the word out and give Missouri the growth it deserves?

It's an important question. Right now there are others just like me evaluating their futures and deciding where they want to invest their lives for years to come.  

What Missouri wants to be is a question we think about every day.

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The Most Trusted News Media in the U.S.

The University of Missouri's Reynolds Journalism Institute has released the results of a survey seeking to determine who the most trusted news sources in the U.S. 

Not surprisingly, the results of the survey show that the overtly partisan media sources were among the least trusted. Examples include Occupy Democrats and Breitbart.

The most trusted sources include several of the large, nationally-known public broadcasters (PBS, BBC, NPR) and many major daily newspapers. Overall, newspapers seemed to score better than TV news, including both networks and cable. 

Results from the Reynolds Journalism Institute:

Mentioned as trusted:

  1. The Economist
  2. Public television
  3. Reuters
  4. BBC
  5. NPR
  6. PBS
  7. The Guardian
  8. The Wall Street Journal
  9. Los Angeles Times
  10. The Dallas Morning News

Mentioned as not trusted:

  1. Occupy Democrats
  2. BuzzFeed
  3. Breitbart
  4. Social media
  5. Trump
  6. Infowars
  7. Yahoo
  8. Internet
  9. Huffington Post
  10. The Blaze

You can read more from the Reynolds Journalism Institute here. Or, read a write up from Marketplace here.

We have a small favor to ask. The CounterBeat is brand new, and our mission is to bring a fresh, unique and radically independent outlook to the news of the day. Please help support us by following and sharing our page on Facebook. Thank you for your support.


The Name Of The Trump Administration Is Despair

I have to believe that the day Sean Spicer found out he was going to be Donald Trump's press secretary was a proud day for him.

He was a veteran political communications guy, now being tapped for what should be the highlight of any communications person's career: White House Press Secretary.

I can then only imagine how it felt for him the day after the inauguration, when told to go out and blatantly lie about crowd sizes. His credibility ruined by his dream job.

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Sean Spicer had to have known, on that day, that this is what it looks like when one sells their soul to the devil. Promises of glory and honor and prestige and power, only to be dealt humiliation in real life.

What Spicer got in return for his loyalty was a president who nitpicked his performances to death, who let rumors fly for months that he might be let go, and who added insult to injury by leaving him out of a meeting with Pope Francis, which for a Roman Catholic like Spicer had to have just hurt.

Nobody seems to be immune. Spicer, for all the attention that comes from being a press secretary, was just a staffer. But we see the same behavior now with Trump's attorney general.

Few people have been more loyal to Trump than Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who as a United States Senator was the first to endorse him. Yet Trump, upset by Sessions's recusal in the Russia investigation and the eventual hiring of a special prosecutor, insults him daily and leaves him twisting in the wind. Trump's goal: try to ruin any last shred of credibility Sessions has with the conservative base (he already has none with liberals), force him out of office, and try to beat the Russia scandal that way.

These are the ways in which Donald Trump treats his friends.

I can only imagine the gut wrenching feeling Trump's staff feels every day when they come to work. Certainly, they must face a daily feeling of dread knowing they've made a terrible mistake - that they've killed their credibility with half the country, and now they'll eventually be hung out to dry with everyone else, in humiliating fashion, as soon as doing so suits whatever agenda Trump has at the moment.

We hear rumors daily of turmoil among the highest levels of the Trump team. There are reports that the secretary of state is considering leaving as well.

When is the last time a newly-elected president's secretary of state, or attorney general, didn't make it at least a year?

All of this, and we're only 6 months in.

If there's one word to describe this administration, it's despair. For those of us who knew better, that word sums up how we've felt every day since the election. Every bit of this drama was predictable, was predicted, and we have watched every day with the despair of knowing we'll wake up to it again tomorrow.

Now many of Trump's supporters are feeling it, too.

These are dark times, and this is no way to run a country. This saga can't be over soon enough.

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