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Anonymous Sources vs President in Tweet

By: Rae Arnett

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost,” stated Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Currie in 1798; a concept that holds true to this day.

The constitution states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”

The first amendment, as stated above, guarantees, among other freedoms, the freedom of the press. This allows the press to serve as the fourth estate, as a watchdog of all those in power, and a servant to the public instead of the government.

But why is this concept so important?

As Jefferson wrote, the freedom cannot be stifled without being lost. How many times have you found out something positive, or negative, about your community from the press? How often have you learned about this nation we call home? 

Think about the news coverage of riots, of protests, of celebrations; how did that information impact your life? I would argue that while news is not always sunshine and light, it does make the public better informed about their surroundings and their fellow Americans.

Our President in Tweet has been complaining about and condemning the leaks from within the government. Although, according to him, the leaks these stories create are “fake news”, which begs the question, why worry about leaks that have no actual sensitive information.

Call me crazy, but I would not be ranting on Twitter about the law being broken by these leakers, or be asking staffers to turn over their cell phones for examination, if there was not some truth to these accusations and articles.

He has condemned the use of unnamed sources in news articles and broadcasts. Yet, those sources speak on the condition of anonymity to protect themselves.

When I think of anonymous sources in the media, I think of Deep Throat. The scandal that surrounded President Richard Nixon and ultimately helped lead to his resignation was unearthed, in part, because of the bravery of FBI Associate Director Mark Felt who spoke on the condition of anonymity. 

Last week, President Trump’s White House, excluded members of the media from a press gaggle. It was not explicitly stated that the exclusion was a punishment for less than desirous coverage from those outlets; however, Trump has stated that the media is the “enemy of the American people”. 

Undermining the “fake news”, as they cover his newly minted presidency and the scandals that seem to plague him, is a good strategy for Trump to use to cover his own ass but will be disastrous for democracy if we allow it to continue.

In the words of Trump’s own Press Secretary Sean Spicer,

“I think we have a respect for the press when it comes to the government that that is something that you can’t ban an entity from… I think that’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.”

Sad!

  

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What the Trump is an Alternative Fact

By: Rae Arnett

This week, as I was watching the Trump Administration take full swing, I admit that I was curious about what, if any, campaign promises he would fulfill.

I was anxious to see what he might tweet, what he might say, and who he might nominate for confirmation.

I was not expecting a pissing contest about inauguration crowd sizes nor was I expecting the absurdity that is “alternative facts”.

Senior Advisor to Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway, explained that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s interesting first interaction with the press (where he claimed that Trump’s inauguration had the biggest crowd ever. Period) was a representation of alternative facts. Wait… what? That’s what I thought. What is in alternative fact and how can I get some?

But let’s just examine that phrase for a moment.

Alternative is defined as of one or more things available as another possibility.

Fact is defined as a thing that is indisputably the case.

Alternative fact is, plain and simple, an oxymoron. There is no quantifiable evidence that Trump’s inauguration had the largest crowd in history, however there is verifiable evidence of Obama’s inauguration crowd being larger than Trump’s.

Spicer did not present alternative facts. He did not present facts at all, and furthermore, regardless of your personal feelings about the new administration’s policies, there should be concern about these blatant lies.

Being concerned with the honesty and integrity of the White House Administration should be expected of the American people. Especially when the lies told are not serving to protect national secrets, but rather to placate the ego of our 45th president. There is no other reason to lie about such trivial facts. Who cares about the size of the inauguration crowds? Or his hands for that matter.

If we are in the business of accepting alternative facts, then I would like to point out that Marilyn Monroe is going to be my Maid of Honor when I get married, because that’s what alternative facts are; complete fabrications.

I challenge everyone reading this to push for an honest administration. This is not about policies, executive orders, or campaign promises. It is about holding the highest office in the nation accountable and maintaining the ethics we have come to expect from such an office.

Now is not the time to be passive. If you disagree with your local, state, or national representatives then let them know. If you think they are doing a stellar job then write them, call them, send them a bottle of tequila; just do not be passive.

But, even further, I challenge you to look for and expect honesty and integrity from yourselves, and from those around you. If we are going to survive an administration of trivial lies and lack of integrity, then we must truly rise above it and elevate ourselves to a higher level.

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Trump’s Cabinet

By: Chris McManigal

One of the first duties of any new President is to choose the people he wants to work in his Administration. Those people are referred to as his Cabinet and consist of people generally considered to be experts in their respective fields that are expected to serve as advisors to the President during his term. If confirmed by the Senate, they serve as Secretaries of Executive departments.

Trump hasn’t announced his picks for all Cabinet positions yet, but here’s look at who he’s tapped so far.

Trump’s first pick shortly after the election when he announced Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as his choice for Attorney General. Sessions is a long time Trump supporter and is currently serving his 4th term as Senator.

Betsy DeVos was announced as Trump’s choice for Education Secretary shortly after the announcement of Sessions. DeVos is a supporter of charter schools and Common Core.

Outspoken Obamacare critic, Republican Congressman Tom Price from Georgia is up for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Elaine Chao, who served as the Labor Secretary under George W. Bush, is Trump’s pick for Transportation Secretary.

Steven Mnuchin, longtime Chief Information Officer for Goldman Sachs was announced as the pick for the Secretary of Treasury.

Trump’s pick for Commerce Secretary is Wilbur Ross, a fellow billionaire who earned the nickname the “King of Bankruptcy” for his firm’s work in restructuring failing companies.

Trump also tapped retired Marine Corps General James Mathis as Secretary of Defense.

Trump’s only choice that doesn’t need Senate confirmation is that of his selection for his Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, who has already been appointed. Priebus is the former head of the Republican National Committee.

Trump has also announced several non-cabinet level positions.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will become the Ambassador to the United Nations if confirmed by the Senate.

Former Marco Rubio supporter Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo will be the incoming CIA Director if confirmed.

Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn will be Trump’s National Security Advisor. This position does not require Senate confirmation.

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Hindsight: A Retrospective on the Presidency of Barack Obama

By: Chris McManigal

Part 1: The Good

It’s no secret that people have highly charged opinions about Barack Obama and his Presidency. Ask some and they’ll say they already miss him, ask others and they’ll say he’s the worst thing to ever happen to this county.

So what is the reality? That answer can be subjective, of course, either somebody likes the guy or doesn’t, but Obama’s term, like any other, can be summarized by the numbers.

First, let’s define terms. Two markers are commonly used to take the national temperature as it relates to the health of our economy, the Gross Domestic Product and the Unemployment Rate. Why? Because the GDP measures what we as a nation produce, our collective “product,” and the Unemployment Rate-when seen as the inverse or the Employment Rate-measures how many people are producing it. More people working equals more product made. More product made equals more money we earn.

So, bearing that in mind, what are the numbers? According to the US Department of Commerce, at the at the end of 2008, before Obama took office, the GDP was -6.2%, meaning that we as a nation produced 6.2% less stuff to sell than the year before.

Nearly 8 years later, as Obama’s term is ending, our GDP is 2.9%. That said, 2.9% as a stand-alone figure doesn’t sound like much. It’s only when you consider that the spread between -6.2 and 2.9 is almost 10 points that one can really gage how much our economy has healed during Obama’s term.

And then there are the unemployment figures. On day 1 of his term in January 2009 the Unemployment Rate was bad, 7.8%. But it didn’t end there. The backlash from the Great Recession that Obama inherited reared its ugly head throughout the first year of his term pushing the Unemployment Rate up as high at 10% in mid-2010. That’s 1 in 10 American adults that are able and willing to not being able to find a job.

Compare that to 4.9%, the Unemployment Rate now as Obama’s term is nearing its end. On its face a more than 50% reduction in the raw number sounds impressive. But more than sounding impressive, it actually is impressive when you consider that just 1/10 of a percent represents millions of Americans having a job now that didn’t 8 years ago.

Love him or hate him, the numbers don’t lie. But they aren’t always good…

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Presidential Firsts

By: Chris McManigal

No matter who wins the upcoming election on November 8th, another milestone among our Presidents will be reached. If Hillary Clinton wins, she will be the first woman President in US history and if Donald Trump wins he will be the first billionaire.

But there have been many firsts over the years. Here is a look back at many of them.

The ultimate first is, of course, our first President, George Washington. He became President after being elected by a unanimous Congressional vote in 1789. He was also the first President to appear on a stamp in 1847.

John Adams was the first President to live in the White House when it was completed in 1800.

John Quincy Adams was the first President whose father, John Adams, had also been the President.

Andrew Jackson was the first and only President that killed someone in a duel. Before he became President Jackson shot and killed a man named Charles Dickenson over a horse race bet in 1806.

Martin Van Buren was the first President to have spoken English as a second language. His first being Dutch. Also, he was the first President to have been a born citizen of the US. All Presidents prior to him had been British subjects.

William Henry Harrison was the first President to have his photograph taken while in office in 1841.

James Buchanan was the first President that had never been married.

Abraham Lincoln was the first President to be assassinated when he was shot in the head in 1865 by John Wilkes Booth while watching a play. He was also the first President to appear on a coin in 1909.

James Garfield was the first left-handed President.

There have been many Presidential firsts involving transportation. Andrew Jackson was the first to ride a train in 1833, William McKinley was the first to ride in a car in 1899 and Theodore Roosevelt was the first to fly in an airplane in 1910.

Woodrow Wilson became the first President to address the public over the radio in 1923. He was also the first to have a Doctorate.

Herbert Hoover was the first President to have a telephone at his desk during his term from 1929-1933.

John F. Kennedy was the first would-be President to have televised debates during the build up to the election in 1960. He was also the first and only Catholic President to have held office.

Richard Nixon was the first and thus far the only President to have resigned from office in 1974. He was also the first and only Quaker.

Jimmy Carter was the first President to be born in a hospital in 1924.

Ronald Reagan was the first and only President to have been divorced. Before marrying his second wife Nancy, he was married to fellow actor Jane Wyman.

Bill Clinton was the first President to send an email in 1998.

George W. Bush was the first President to stream his State of the Union address live over the internet in 2002.

Barack Obama became the first African-American President when he was elected in 2008.