Oh Cripes: Twitter Diplomacy!

And no, this time I am not talking about President-elect Donald Trump. It’s the Russian Embassy!

President Obama expels 35 diplomats in Cold War deja vu. As everybody, incl people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless Adm.

I guess we don’t need diplomats anymore or ambassadors for that matter. We can essentially shut down the state department and hire a bunch of people with Twitter accounts and off we go…negotiating trade deals and cease fires or declaring war in 140 characters or less! How charming!

It will get really scary if Twitter starts to allow edits post publication, aina?

Late add (12/30/16 14:17): Mr. Trump’s reply:

An Open Letter To The Online Media

This is totally a non-political rant…but I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore…well maybe I am. [for now]

But to all of the online arms of the print and broadcast media: You are making your websites unusable.

Now I understand that you need ad revenues to keep publishing and broadcasting but you already have a third of your web page covered with ads…or worse those insidious click bait pieces of junk along the bottom row (you’d be wise to reconsider some of those as well). All of your new intrusive games are making your sites unreadable. What do I mean?

Well first, lets start with one of the more recent intrusions. I select an article from your site and while I am about half way through the first paragraph you insert a video ad just below the second graph and it resizes the page…and then when it stops…it closes and…resizes the page. It’s annoying to have to scroll up or down or re-scroll again as the ad opens/closes. Just insert the damn thing when the page loads and leave it there. I can deal with the black rectangle when it’s over…trust me on that.

And if I open an article and I scroll down past the video you have at the top because I would rather read the text…that doesn’t mean I want you to run the video anyway in that little two inch square window you opened at the bottom right hand corner of my browser. I don’t want to see the video, I don’t want to hear the audio, and I don’t enjoy you using up my bandwidth (and it makes your page slow and uneven in its response) while forcing it on me. And if I click on the ‘x’ to close it…that shouldn’t mean you take me back to the top of the page and continue to run the video.

And goodness no, I DON’T want to read ‘your circular’ before I can enter the website.

And a special note to USA Today and their captive subsidiaries (including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s JSOnline): Launching the article and then magically sliding it down off the browser screen so you can display a full page ad…sucks. It sucks big time.

No I know advertising pays the bills. But you are killing the goose that lays the golden eggs here. Stop letting the advertising department run the website…hire a bona fide user interface designer!

It is getting to the point where I am starting to avoid certain sites over others as the annoyance level continues to grow.

The Woman Who Totally Understands Donald Trump…Whoops!

Just last week the New York Times published an article about Hope Hicks, Donald Trumps press secretary. What an American success story!

An inspirational poster hangs above the Trump Tower desk of Hope Hicks, the 27-year-old press secretary for Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign, squeezed in among the framed Time magazine covers of Mr. Trump and exuberant thank-you notes written in his inimitable scrawl (“Hopie — You’re the greatest!”).

Ms. Hicks, a onetime champion lacrosse player who signed a Ford modeling contract as a teenager, had never worked in politics before last year, and her widest exposure had been as a co-star in a Nickelodeon children’s television special about golf.

Now she plays confidante and sometime gatekeeper to the presumptive Republican nominee for president and, improbably, serves as Mr. Trump’s sole liaison to the teeming national press corps.

Hillary Clinton employs a half-dozen battle-hardened media handlers who field hundreds of daily requests. Mr. Trump has Ms. Hicks, who was working for his daughter Ivanka’s luxury lines and for the Trump real estate brand when the candidate called her to his office in early 2015 and declared that she was joining his campaign.

But in the wake of the pivot to where ever occurring in the Trump campaign, this happened:

Donald Trump has hired a top communications consultant who worked on Sen. Ted Cruz’ unsuccessful presidential campaign. A Republican with knowledge of the hiring says Jason Miller will serve as Trump’s senior communications adviser.

The Republican who confirmed Miller’s hiring was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of the announcement and did so on condition of anonymity.

Miller is a seasoned political communications operative. Prior to working for Cruz, Miller worked on the presidential campaign of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and on South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford’s bid for Congress.

Trump’s communications has been handled by Hope Hicks, a loyal but inexperienced spokeswoman. The hire comes as Trump tries to build out his campaign for a general election and a week after firing campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

Looks like Mr. Trump is finally coming to the realization that he needs a real campaign and not a real life version of The Apprentice…you’re fired!

Are They Right? Trump Is Obama’s Fault?

From the front page of the March 13, 2016 Sunday New York Times: Donald Trump’s Presidential Run Began in an Effort to Gain Stature

Donald J. Trump arrived at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in April 2011, reveling in the moment as he mingled with the political luminaries who gathered at the Washington Hilton. He made his way to his seat beside his host, Lally Weymouth, the journalist and socialite daughter of Katharine Graham, longtime publisher of The Washington Post.

A short while later, the humiliation started.

The annual dinner features a lighthearted speech from the president; that year, President Obama chose Mr. Trump, then flirting with his own presidential bid, as a punch line.

He lampooned Mr. Trump’s gaudy taste in décor. He ridiculed his fixation on false rumors that the president had been born in Kenya. He belittled his reality show, “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

Mr. Trump at first offered a drawn smile, then a game wave of the hand. But as the president’s mocking of him continued and people at other tables craned their necks to gauge his reaction, Mr. Trump hunched forward with a frozen grimace.

After the dinner ended, Mr. Trump quickly left, appearing bruised. He was “incredibly gracious and engaged on the way in,” recalled Marcus Brauchli, then the executive editor of The Washington Post, but departed “with maximum efficiency.”

That evening of public abasement, rather than sending Mr. Trump away, accelerated his ferocious efforts to gain stature within the political world. And it captured the degree to which Mr. Trump’s campaign is driven by a deep yearning sometimes obscured by his bluster and bragging: a desire to be taken seriously.

So a thin skinned insecure megalomaniac takes on the political establishment to show he’s important? Did the fact that president was black have anything to do with his fascist race baiting or was that just a convenient usurpation of the prevailing undercurrent in the Republican Party? So when the rightwing pundits or Fox News say that President Obama is to blame for the Trump phenomenon, are they right?

Open Government Advocates to Take Show on the Road


Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council



February 23, 2016

Contact: Mark Pitsch, (608) 252-6145; Bill Lueders, (608) 669-4712

Open Government Advocates to Take Show on the Road

Advocates of open government in Wisconsin are planning a three-day, eight-city informational tour to highlight the importance of the state’s open records laws, in the wake of unprecedented attacks from state lawmakers and others.

“An open society depends on open government. Wisconsin residents understand that,” says Mark Pitsch, president of the Madison chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and an assistant city editor at the Wisconsin State Journal. “Last summer’s attempt to gut the records law is just one of several recent examples of official disregard for the public’s right to know. It’s time for education and vigilance.”

The “Open Government Traveling Show” will take place from Tuesday, March 15, through Thursday, March 17, as part of national Sunshine Week, the annual “celebration of access to public information.”

The events—free and open to the public—are aimed at helping Wisconsin residents understand the open records law and how to use it. Each 90-minute presentation will feature a tutorial on the records law and examples of its use by journalists and advocates.

Participants will include representatives of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, the Madison chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, the Center for Media and Democracy, the MacIver Institute for Public Policy and Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

The tour is also supported by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Each stop has its own local sponsor.

La Crosse: March 15, 2 p.m. La Crosse Public Library. Local sponsor: La Crosse Tribune.

Eau Claire: March 15, 7 p.m. Centennial Hall, Room 1614, UW-Eau Claire. Local sponsor: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, UW-Eau Claire chapter, Society of Professional Journalists

Wausau: March 16, 10 a.m. Marathon County Public Library. Local sponsor: Wausau Daily Herald-USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Green Bay: March 16, 2 p.m. Green Bay Public Library. Local Sponsor: Green Bay Press-Gazette-USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSIN

Appleton: March 16, 7:30 p.m. Appleton Public Library. Local sponsor: Appleton Post-Crescent-USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Sheboygan: March 17, 10 a.m. Sheboygan Public Library. Local sponsor: Sheboygan Press-USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Waukesha: March 17, 2 p.m, Waukesha Public Library. Local sponsor: Schott, Bublitz and Engel S.C.

Janesville: March 17, 7 p.m. Blackhawk Technical College. Local sponsor: Janesville Gazette

Bill Lueders, President • 608-669-4712 • blueders@wisconsinwatch.org • Mail: c/o WNA, 34 Schroeder Crt., Madison, WI 53713



The Smear Campaign Against Socialism:

One of the apparent failings in American education is the lack of understanding on the differences between socialism, fascism, Marxism, and Communism. Or else there is now a concerted effort to smear socialism by linking it to fascism.

Here’s a prime example from Facebook (at this point I am not going to include names but I reserve the right to change my mind):


This image started the conversation…with the poster concluding because the Nazi’s official name was National Socialists…that this was the same as the socialism espoused by Senator Bernie Sanders.

Ugh, do you even know the definition of “Nazi”?

Nazi Party: National Socialist German Workers’ Party, which controlled Germany from 1933 to 1945

But, yeah, the Nazis incorporated the word socialism because the didn’t believe in it. Ugh, some of you are just a bunch of sheep that listen to liberal talking points….

and an opposing viewpoint:

That was fascism and theocracy, cloaked as socialism

and the original poster (in the face of any number of posters explaining the obvious and less than subtle differences between Nazis and socialists):

And SOLD as socialism

What did the people buy? Socialism or Facism? Socialism is soft tyranny just as facism is hard tyranny

So that might be one isolated aberrant right winger without a clue…but in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel we have another (since this is public record already I am not hiding any names…and MJS vets their letters to the editor) political equation that doesn’t balance:

Socialism is never the cure

Those of us who grew up laughing at “Trabi” jokes that contrasted stunningly junky Trabants, built by East German socialists, with well-engineered BMWs, built by West German capitalists, didn’t find the victory of an old socialist in the New Hampshire primary too funny.

Those of us whose fathers fought the National Socialists to the death and then turned around to battle the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the People’s Republic of China in the Cold War weren’t laughing much either.

Some of us still remember the delirious days when the “evil empire” collapsed, the wall came down and people on both sides of the iron curtain could breathe free. We were so happy that we didn’t pay much attention to the bitter old Marxists who retreated to America’s ivory towers to propagandize a new generation with old platitudes about class warfare, redistribution of wealth, hatred for the family and Chairman Mao’s blather that everything, even truth itself, must be sacrificed for a politically correct revolution.

It is no accident that the young people feeling the Bern today are blissfully unaware of the hundred million lives more or less (What’s a million or two for a good cause?) that the old socialists sacrificed to usher in their one world Utopia.

It is, therefore, ironic that it is the youngest presidential candidates who best understand that the battle has never been between the socialists on the left and the crony capitalists on the right but between individual liberty and the tyranny of both the right and the left. The fact that both families of these two candidates experienced the grim reality of socialism in Cuba seems to have inoculated them against the socialist delusions of America’s ivory tower.

These two young candidates understand that this election is not about whether Republicans or Democrats control the levers of power. Like the generations of Americans before them, they know that socialism, which sacrifices the individual to the collective, is both a symptom and cause of our malaise, never its cure.

Art DeJong

This is starting to become a trend…and if I were a conspiracy theorist…this would smell like elephant dung and rotting tea bags.

What’s Worse than Government Censorship?

The novice government becomes the master of censorship.  They refuse to let journalists publish articles on topics that are controversial, stir public unrest, or portray the government in a poor light.  They have no problem imprisoning writers that run afoul of reporting the approved narrative—even going so far as to “disappear” people that are chronic problems .  Like I said…all the stuff of novices.

The expert government knows how to maintain the perception of a free press, while at the same time instilling fear into writers so that they will self-censor.    Consider a recent report from PEN America, a leading group on literacy and human rights, which examines the effects of pervasive surveillance in the United States–the FDR Group surveyed 520 U.S. writers and found:

28% have curtailed or avoided social media activities, and another 12% have seriously considered doing so.

24% have deliberately avoided certain topics in phone or email conversations, and another 9% have seriously considered it.

16% have avoided writing or speaking about a particular topic, and another 11% have seriously considered it.

85% say they are worried about the current levels of government surveillance of  Americans.

76% believe that increased government surveillance is especially harmful to writers because it impinges upon the privacy they need to create freely.

What good is free speech and free press if those who conduct investigative journalism are afraid to do their jobs?  One of the bedrock ethics of journalism is to protect your sources–but how does that journalist do that if their phone calls are being listened to, if their emails are being read, their library records are being monitored, and their online searches are being recorded?

I’m not claiming that the United States is an expert government at forcing journalists to self-censor.  On occasion, they’re willing to internationally pursue whistle blowers and sources to the point that the rest of the world laughs at us.  However, all it takes is a couple of “actual threats,” and some outrageous NSA monitoring to make even mainstream journalists paranoid that the government is watching.  Then again, is it paranoia, if it’s true?

…I probably shouldn’t have said that.

To read the full results of the survey, as well as check out the methodology, go to:  http://www.pen.org/sites/default/files/Chilling%20Effects_PEN%20American.pdf