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When Is Enough Truly Enough? – OpEd

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Fox News show host Laura Ingraham announced on her show late Friday that she is taking next week off. I think it was a wise decision given the fact that almost a dozen advertisers have dropped her show after the chauvinist talk show host mocked David Hogg, 17, a teenage survivor of the Florida school massacre, on Twitter on Wednesday, accusing him of whining about being rejected by four colleges to which he had applied.

Hogg called for a boycott of her advertisers in the show, “The Ingraham Angle.
Hogg is one of the survivors of the Feb. 14 mass shooting that killed 17 students in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland suburb of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Soon after the mass shooting, he and his surviving friends have become the new faces of activists calling for stricter gun control.

Fox News is part of Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., and has been a strong supporter of the NRA and of course, President Trump. Naturally, it has been on the other side of the hot debate around gun control. For weeks, instead of supporting the genuine demand of the youths towards gun control it has been berating the activists and spreading fake news about them. And Ingraham, a known hatemonger who has been accused of being a racist and a bigot, has outshone others within Fox in spreading such fake news. Essentially, she became the ‘hound bitch’ (or ‘dog’) for merciless attack against the surviving youth activists.

Now the advertisers are saying ‘enough is enough’ with Ingraham’s TV program and are pulling out their ads, which had been the lifelines for the program. Their pull out has forced the conservative pundit to take a vacation. I hope she never returns and leaves the task of journalism to real journalists, and not to charlatans like her.

Last Thursday, Ingraham tweeted an apology “in the spirit of Holy Week” (i.e., the Easter holiday), saying that she was sorry for any hurt or upset she had caused Hogg or any of the “brave victims” of Parkland. But her apology did not stop companies from departing. The companies announcing that they are canceling their ads are: Nutrish, the pet food line created by celebrity chef Rachael Ray, travel website TripAdvisor Inc, online home furnishings seller Wayfair Inc, the world’s largest packaged food company, Nestle SA, online streaming service Hulu, travel website Expedia Group Inc and online personal shopping service Stitch Fix.

According to CBS News, four other companies joined the list Friday: the home office supply store Office Depot, the dieting company Jenny Craig, the Atlantis, Paradise Island resort and Johnson & Johnson which produces pharmaceuticals as well as consumer products such as Band-Aids, Neutrogena beauty products and Tylenol.

Hogg wrote on Twitter that an apology just to mollify advertisers was insufficient.
Hogg is right. Spiteful chauvinists like Ingraham are an embarrassment to the noble profession of journalism. Sadly, since sensationalism sells and the ideological divide between the Democrats and the Republicans is widening fast in the Trump era, neocons like Murdoch has found it easy to employ yellow journalists like Ingraham and Sean Hannity to support their so-called conservative cause and, of course, their immoral avatar – president Trump. They are all birds of the same feather! They talk of conservative family values, something that is not to be found in their life dictionary.

As it has become rather too common these days, another member of the Trump cabinet – Dave Shulkin who ran the Veteran Affairs – is gone. Reportedly, he has opposed privatization of the department – whose annual budget is $200 billion. In a Twitter message, the president named Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, the chief White House physician, as the next VA secretary.

With a handshake and a presidential kiss on the cheek, Hope Hicks, the press-shy communications director, bid farewell to the White House on Thursday, taking a rare moment in the spotlight on her final day in Donald Trump’s administration. She departed on her own terms and was not fired by her boss.

The exit of the president’s most trusted aide highlights continuing uncertainty among Trump aides and White House staff about who might be the next to go.

Rumors are that EPA secretary Scott Pruitt may be next in line to go. He now finds himself at the center of an expanding controversy over his decision to rent a room in Washington, DC, from the family of an energy lobbyist. As it has happened before with the HUD (Housing and Urban Development) Secretary Ben Carson and recently-fired VA (Veterans Affairs) Secretary David Shulkin, the White House officials began learning about this issue only from media reports, and not Pruitt himself, thus embarrassing the Trump Administration.

Pruitt rented a room in a condo from Vicki and Steven Hart, lobbyists whose firm has lobbied the EPA on behalf of an Oklahoma Energy company, ABC News and Bloomberg reported. According to Bloomberg, Pruitt leased a room for around $50 a night, only paying when he stayed there. In total, Pruitt paid $6,100 for the room over six months, a rate significantly lower than market value.

CNN has confirmed Pruitt’s landlords, the Harts, were political donors of his when he was an Oklahoma state official. According to campaign finance records, Steven Hart hosted a “fundraising reception” for Pruitt’s 2014 campaign for Oklahoma attorney general. The contribution report filed with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission states that Hart spent $1,616.43 on the expense. Read More

In addition, Hart and his wife Vicki made a $500 contribution to Pruitt in October 2010, a $1,000 contribution to Pruitt in September 2011 and a $250 contribution to Pruitt in April 2012.

As rumored before, Lt. General H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, was replaced by John R. Bolton, an advocate for the illegitimate invasion of Iraq. He was hired by Trump over White House Chief of Staff (Retired) General John Kelly’s objections.

It is worth recalling what Bolton said in 2002 while he served as President George W. Bush’s Under Secretary of State for arms control and international security: “We are confident that Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction [WMDs] and production facilities in Iraq.” He did everything he could to prompt the launch of the US invasion — under the pretext of WMDs that never existed.

The illegal 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq has, thus far, left approximately 1 million Iraqis dead. That is roughly 5 percent of the total population of that country. Murderous neocon advocates like Bolton deserve to be tried for their horrendous crimes against humanity (let alone the unnecessary death of thousands of American soldiers). Surely, they don’t deserve getting hired.

Knowing of his past mass murderous instincts, it is not difficult to guess what Bolton’s forthcoming agenda may look like and what he may be hiding in his dirty sleeves.
While Trump promises to pull out American soldiers from Syria, once again disproving himself, his newly appointed national security adviser may isolate the USA from the rest of the NATO by scraping the Iran nuclear deal and/or draw him closer to opening new war fronts against Iran.

It is clear from Trump’s decisions on firing and hiring that the POTUS likes to surround himself with sycophants and not genuine advisers who care about the greater good of the nation (although I must admit here that none of his cabinet members included anyone who can be considered a good human being; the fired ones are probably the best amongst the worst of the bunch).

His appointment of Mike Pompeo as the Secretary of State and John Bolton as the national security adviser speaks volumes about his evil intentions about making ‘America great again’ and the world he wants to carve out. That message is not lost to war criminals like Netanyahu of Israel who praised Israeli troops, a day after they killed at least 16 Palestinian protesters at the border with Gaza.

UN chief Antonio Guterres called for an “independent and transparent investigation”, as did European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas declared Saturday a day of national mourning and in a speech said he held Israel fully responsible for the deaths.

Like Bolton, Pompeo is no angel, and is known to be an endorser of torture and war crimes. After visiting the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in 2013, Pompeo remarked that some inmates who had declared a hunger strike looked like they had put on weight. He also defended the CIA after the 2014 release of a Senate report on torture, which detailed such practices as waterboarding. He declared: “These men and women are not torturers, they are patriots.” The CIA tactics, he said, “were within the law, within the constitution”.

He was accused of Islamophobia, and rightly so, for remarks he made following the deadly 2013 Boston marathon bombing. Pompeo had taken to the House floor to suggest some Islamic faith leaders might be tacitly encouraging terrorist attacks.

“When the most devastating terrorist attacks on America in the last 20 years come overwhelmingly from people of a single faith and are performed in the name of that faith a special obligation falls on those that are the leaders of that faith,” he said. “Instead of responding, silence has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit in these acts and, more importantly still, in those that may well follow.”

If past deeds are any measures to judge what a person may do in the future there is nothing to feel good about Mr. Trump and his new appointments – from the secretary of state to the CIA chief Gina Haspel. The latter was deeply embroiled in dark episode in the C.I.A.’s interrogation program, endorsing waterboarding.

President Trump himself is deeply embroiled in sex scandals, let alone financial misdeeds. His exploits seem to make Berlusconi an angel. Had it not been for the Republican lawmakers that control both the Houses in the Capitol Hill he would have been impeached long time ago. He has also the lowest approval ratings of any president in modern history, with nearly half of Americans considering him mentally unstable.
Trump has proven himself to be a joke in politics and an embarrassment for the top post in the USA. To his credit, he has been a skillful spin master; but none of his ploys has worked, thus far, to raise his approval rating.

Under such circumstances, American presidents have been known to have used diversionary tactics to regain their trust. No one should be surprised if President Trump tries to follow his predecessors to deflect public opinion in his favor. As we have seen though such ploys, no matter how meticulously planned and brilliantly executed, were never able to fully hide the ugly facts – not for too long anyway, but more importantly, cost the nation more than it could be burdened with.

It is prudent to say that enough is enough with Trump and do what is morally right. But that requires unflinching moral courage – something that is in short supply in the Capitol Hill, where sadly, our politicians find it difficult to put aside their partisan politics and do what is morally right, esp. when they themselves are mortgaged to powerful lobbies whose interests and agenda are often at odds with those of their electorates.

We can only blame ourselves for the choices we made!


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Dr. Habib Siddiqui

Dr. Habib Siddiqui

Dr. Habib Siddiqui has a long history as a peaceful activist in an effort towards improving human rights and creating a just and equitable world. He has written extensively in the arena of humanity, global politics, social conscience and human rights since 1980, many of which have appeared in newspapers, magazines, journals and the Internet. He has tirelessly championed the cause of the disadvantaged, the poor and the forgotten here in Americas and abroad. Commenting on his articles, others have said, "His meticulously researched essays and articles combined with real human dimensions on the plight of the displaced peoples of Rohingya in Myanmar, Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo and Palestine, and American Muslims in the post-9/11 era have made him a singular important intellectual offering a sane voice with counterpoints to the shrill threats of the oppressors and the powerful. He offers a fresh and insightful perspective on a whole generation of a misunderstood and displaced people with little or no voice of their own." He has authored 11 books, five of which are now available through Amazon.com. His latest book - Devotional Stories is published by A.S. Noordeen, Malaysia.

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