The Future Is Now

On Wednesday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, shared a video showing CNN’s Jim Acosta struggling with a White House intern to hold onto a microphone during a contentious exchange with Donald Trump. The video appears to have been doctored to make Acosta look more aggressive than he was during the exchange

Fact-checkers and other experts say the video, which was first shared by Paul Joseph Watson, a conspiracy theorist associated with the far-right website InfoWars, was deliberately sped up to make it look like Acosta chopped the woman’s arm with his hand. Authentic versions of the video that weren’t manipulated showed him slowly raising his hand, appearing to gesture to the president. The White House pulled Acosta’s press pass Wednesday, with Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeting that the White House will “not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video.”

In July I wrote a post about something called deepfakes. Deepfakes are videos that use a sophisticated type of software that makes it possible to superimpose one person’s face onto another’s body and manipulate voice recordings, creating fake videos that look and sound real.

“When you see video, you still think that you are peering into reality,” David Ryan Polgar, a tech ethicist, said. “The struggle now is that we are blurring the lines between reality and fiction. That’s extremely dangerous for our notions of truth, what happened, and what didn’t.”

It’s very telling that the American government is now disseminating doctored videos to spread its propaganda and to justify the president’s lies and abhorrent behavior. Authoritarian governments have a history of manipulating images and releasing propaganda films. But now it appears that our very own government, in the age of Trump, continues to deliberately create and promote false realities.

Dog Days of August

Today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt is “dog.” Given the events of this past week between Donald Trump and his former White House staffer, Omarosa Manigault Newman, the only African-American to have served in a senior role, I thought this prompt was well timed.

To set the stage, Omarosa was fired from her White House position by chief-of-staff John Kelly in February. Omarosa, an “Apprentice” contestant several times over, published a “tell-all” book this week. It’s titled Unhinged, and is all about her time in the Trump White House. She’s also released some audio tapes she surreptitiously recorded and says she has many more.

Aparently Trump apparently went ballistic and, of course, he started rage tweeting. In one of them, he called Omarosa a dog.img_2202Calling Omarosa a dog did not sit well with a lot of people. But, of course, his loyal, puppy dog-like press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, defended him.img_2195

#FOWC — The Ostentatious Lifestyle

I promise that this will be my last post about Trump today. Little did I know when I chose today’s One-Word Challenge, “ostentatious,” that I would be spending much of the day ranting about that unfit, incompetent moron who occupies the White House. But, as they say, if the shoe fits….

To be ostentatious means to be characterized by a vulgar or pretentious display designed to impress or attract notice. Donald Trump is the epitome of ostentatious.

trump tower opulenceBefore he was elected president, Trump’s luxurious primary residence in New York City spanned the three top floors of Manhattan’s Trump Tower. The penthouse is decorated with marble, diamonds, murals painted on the ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and basically anything that can be made out of or plated with 24-karat gold. The baroque décor was inspired by Louis XIV.

A6C167A6-7AF8-4357-9011-1A80C07B1EA9Now that he’s president, he’s enjoying the most ostentatious lifestyle of any president in U.S. history. Even the richest presidents of the past, including John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt, had a sense of limits in showing off their wealth.

But not Donald Trump. He loves to display his gilded lifestyle and his (alleged) vast fortune. In true Donald Trump fashion, he racked up a $1.75 million bill for renovating the White House, which he once called “a dump,” to suit his opulent tastes.

The General Services Administration (GSA) showed that the president’s office spent that amount on furniture, rugs, wallpaper and other furnishings in his quest to renovate the 55,000-square-foot mansion and surrounding buildings. He even purchased a custom conference table made for President Richard Nixon in 1969.

I just don’t know.

Trump Quote of the Day

DB2CC338-F76D-440D-AE58-153B8B410C1B“I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon, and I think most of the people in this room would have done that, too.”

That’s what Donald Trump told a group of state governors (our real American heroes) gathered at the White House for talks on multiple issues, while attacking officers for not entering a Florida high school building and somehow engaging a crazed gunman who killed 17 people dead with a military-style rifle.

But everyone already knows what a courageous, selfless, heroic man Donald Trump is. Just ask him.

(I think I should have tagged this post as “Flash Fiction.”)