I Simply Loved Gwen Ifill For Being A ‘Stabilizer’ In An Unsettled World


I thought my day was at its low point.  After all, I was in a dentist chair, my face felt totally frozen, and the visit was not slated to be a short one.  The drilling was done and CNN above my head was on.  And then the Breaking News alert was flashed.

I could not believe what was being reported.  Gwen Ifill had died at the age of 61 from endometrial cancer.

She was not just another reporter or journalist I turned to for news.  She was more than a graceful and bright interviewer who added context to the headlines.  What made Ifill special was her presence on television, that even in bad times, made us aware there was a way to think it through and make sense out of what had happened.

America needs ‘stabilizers’ such as she proved to be for decades.  In times of confusion over complex Supreme Court cases, or after savage terrorism she had the ability to pry into the mix of facts and report so a deeper and more seasoned view could be had.  She had a keen sense for getting to the center of the story with her interviews.  And through it all I just knew that she would be a pure delight off camera.

I have always fancied the perfect dinner party and once the guests have all left there are always one or two that lingers for another cup of coffee and a more comfortable chair for a longer talk.  Gwen Ifill would have been one of those who I would want to stick around, shoes kicked aside, feet curled in chair.  That is how she always came across the camera to me.

I first came to know Gwen Ifill from reading The New York Times where she covered politics and campaigns.  She was notable for her access to people and her ability to see around the corners of a news story and offer insight into what might be coming next.  That is a mark of a great reporter.

I started watching Washington Week In Review every Friday when I was a teenager. During those years I was fascinated by Paul Duke for the reason he was substantive but always serene and laid back. People who commanded attention with such a calm demeanor appealed to me when it came to news.  In 1999 when Ifill took over as host I just knew there was something smart and steady about this reporter.  With her hosting she became one of the first African American women to preside over a major national political show.  Her years at NewsHour made that weekday show a must see.

There is no end to the praise I have given her over the past ten years on this blog.  In March 2016 I wrote the following.

I want to do a well deserved shout-out this evening to one of America’s top and brightest broadcasters. While watching NewsHour on PBS (the Supreme Court case in particular) I was struck yet again by the ability of Gwen Ifill to so illuminate the world and the issues of our time. I simply love her. A few years back when there was an opening for the host on “Meet The Press” I had hoped she would land the position. But to not have her probing questions and reporting skills nightly would have meant one of our most cerebral journalists would have had reduced air time. Her work on PBS allows us to better understand the facts of the story, and the dynamics behind the headlines. She is a solid and substantive reporter and anchor.

Friday nights will not be the same without her smile and grace.  Though sad, are we not glad to have had the chance for her to visit our homes so often?

Peace and Godspeed, Gwen.    And thanks.

Even Needing To Say America Will Not Abandon NATO….International Embarrassment Caused By Donald Trump

This is simply embarrassing for those who have read history and have a grasp of international affairs–even a most tenuous grasp.

President Obama had to stand before the White House Press Corp and the international committee to state that Donald Trump is committed to NATO.

Trump, whose unexpected victory last week shocked world leaders, was often critical of NATO on the campaign trail, going so far as to call it “obsolete.”   Unbelievable!

Those statements, coupled with his praise of Russian leader Vladimir Putin — with whom Trump spoke by phone on Monday — have alarmed foreign leaders, especially in the front-line states in Eastern Europe and the Baltics.

Obama, who is preparing to embark on his last trip to Europe as president, said Trump signaled when they met last week that he would not be throwing out the decades-old alliance.   Is there any doubt as to why world leaders are deeply concerned when one with such a lack of background was elected in this nation?

“He expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships,” Obama said at his first press conference since last week’s election. “And so, one of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the Transatlantic Alliance.”

“I think that’s one of the most important functions I can serve at this stage during this trip. is to let them know that there is no weakening of resolve when it comes to America’s commitment to maintaining a strong and robust NATO relationship and a recognition that those alliances aren’t just good for Europe, they’re good for the United States,” he added. “And they’re vital for the world.”

Thank God for President Obama who can clean this Trump mess up.  Who will be there the next time?  And what if it does not get handled in time?

Setting The Facts Straight For Trump Regarding The New York Times

The fact-challenged  Donald Trump needs to pay attention.

Trump made an assertion last week that The New York Times has lost thousands of subscribers. That is wrong.

The fact is the NYT has seen a surge in digital subscriptions. When factoring in cancellations, it has, since Election Day, added four times the average number of net new digital and print subscriptions.

Facts matter.

Chicago (And Other Cities) To Remain Sanctuaries For Undocumented Immigrants

It really will be political trench warfare for the next four years as people fight to keep those we value and care about safe from harm.   This article today is most important.  The fight continues.

Joining other cities around the country, Chicago is pledging to remain a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants, an act of defiance in the face of Donald Trump’s past promise to cut off those cities from federal funding.

In sanctuary cities, local law enforcement officials aren’t required to alert U.S. Immigration and Customs authorities about the immigration status of individuals with whom they come in contact.

Today Chicago’s elected officials, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, are expected to hold a news conference to formally discuss how the city will retain its sanctuary status. Aldermen are expected to call on Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to pressure Trump to back off his vow to interfere with funding.

“Across the country and in Chicago and Illinois … young men and women [are] very distraught about this,” Chicago Alderman Danny Solis told POLITICO Illinois on Sunday.

Since Tuesday’s election, other cities that have affirmed their commitment to remaining sanctuaries include New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

There are dozens of sanctuary cities in the United States and more than 100 jurisdictions have policies on the books that limit compliance with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Washington D.C. Concerned About Image With Trump In White House

Just another negative side effect of Donald Trump’s election.

Mr. Obama’s arrival in 2009 coincided with an urban renaissance. Economic development, federal and private investment, and an influx of highly educated young, gay and diverse professionals gentrified neighborhoods, leading to an explosion in restaurants, bars and cafes. And the Obama family — African-American, youthful, attractive and urbane — were archetypes of a modern city on the upswing.

What the effect on Washington will be when Donald J. Trump moves into the White House is hard to predict. But many Washingtonians fear the worst. Among them is Vincent Gray, the city’s mayor during much of the Obama administration.

“I’m worried about people not wanting to come here because of the image they have of the Trump administration,” Mr. Gray said.

Now a member of the City Council, Mr. Gray said the engagement of Mr. Obama and his family with the city has been “tremendously uplifting.”

“Their presence in the city brought a level of dynamism that just wasn’t there before,” he said.

D.C. is going to take a really hard hit, culturally, socially, everything. We were really finding our footing; we weren’t second to New York,” said Jazmine Johnson, a graphic designer who said she now planned to move to New York.

Others around town signed up for free tension-relieving sessions at yoga studios, or meditated on emails from their progressive rabbis reminding them of the Jewish mantra “Od lo avda tikvateinu,” or, “We have not yet lost our hope.” Reports abounded of federal workers and nonprofit employees crying at their desks, scanning the web for out-of-town rentals or accepting the free hugs on offer in Farragut Square.

“The world has definitely shifted on its axis, and we’ve taken a step into the abyss,” said Michael Steel, an establishment Republican by virtue of having worked for former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and departed House Speaker John Boehner, and a frequent critic of Mr. Trump.

Jen Psaki, the White House communications director, had her engagement party at Cork, Mrs. Obama dropped in, and Jill Biden became a regular there. Ms. Gross said she hoped that Washington, despite its reputation as a transitory place, had reached a cultural critical mass that would prevent Trump-induced hemorrhaging of the young, fashionable and talented.

Obama White House To Tutor Donald Trump On What Being President Involves

The Wall Street Journal has the must read and You Can Not Make This Up story of the day.

During their private White House meeting on Thursday, Mr. Obama walked his successor through the duties of running the country, and Mr. Trump seemed surprised by the scope, said people familiar with the meeting. Trump aides were described by those people as unaware that the entire presidential staff working in the West Wing had to be replaced at the end of Mr. Obama’s term. After meeting with Mr. Trump, the only person to be elected president without having held a government or military position, Mr. Obama realized the Republican needs more guidance. He plans to spend more time with his successor than presidents typically do, people familiar with the matter said.

White Nationalism On March In Trump Administration

It was as if a police car with siren blaring had roared down the street.  The news that Steve Bannon, the former president of Breitbart News, will be chief strategist and chief counselor to Donald Trump made for concerns all over the nation.  There were shudders from those who pay attention when Bannon was brought into the campaign in the closing months.  Now with this news there is clear proof that the stoking of white anger and the playing with political fire will be front and center in the new administration.

I fully understand that the vast majority of this nation is not overly bright. Nearly half did not vote which speaks volumes about that group, and another group (roughly a fourth of the nation) voted as it their head was lodged up their backside.  So when people talk, or as I write here, about Bannon being a main pusher of populist white nationalism many have no idea what that means.  Those who pay attention fully grasp that the anti-immigration and especially anti-Muslim agitation was created by design to enrage a demographic that teeters on the edge of reality most days.  Throw them a little red meat and they voted for Trump.

Now that level of fear-based politics has been given an office in the White House.  There is no doubt whatsoever that Bannon represents bare-knuckle style politics that is aimed at creating inflammatory instincts in Trump and his uninformed followers.   Trump voters have no idea what is happening when it is clear the next administration will embrace ethno-nationalism.  Recall that he didn’t want his children going to school with Jewish people.   Bannon called conservative commentator Bill Kristol a ‘renegade Jew’ and advised female victims of online harassment to ‘just log off’ and stop”‘screwing up the internet for men.”

Governing takes level headed people and so it does concern me when a bomb-thrower is allowed such access to a president.  The racist, fascist extreme right has an office in the White House!

Is it any wonder why I have such a low regard for the Trump voters in this nation who allowed this to happen?

Democrat Roy Cooper Has Claimed Victory In North Carolina Governor’s Race

It was a tough election year for those who make predictions.  Of the many I made this year most were off the mark due to the white-lash against America which took place.   However one of the races I predicted was the governor’s race in North Carolina.

Today I can report that despite gains by Republicans across the map, one incumbent GOP governor — Pat McCrory in North Carolina, who signed a law limiting the bathroom access of transgender people — may have lost his race, though it is very close. Democrat Roy Cooper has claimed victory, with 2,281,155 votes to McCrory’s 2,276,383.

While I predicted a loss for McCrory I did say that “No recount will be needed here!”  I always have to give a full thought of a race that interests me and though the end result will be correct the path getting there is not as I predicted.

Still there is plenty to cheer about as there was no other incumbent governor I want to see removed more than McCrory.  The problem that the very unpopular McCrory faced, among others, was the transgender bathroom bill.  It is pure bigotry.  It allowed the whole state to be stained as bigots.

Now in retirement from politics McCrory can contemplate that fact.