In the land of ‘alternative facts’ and political whitewash

Finally! We have the answer to everything that comes from the mouths of Donald Trump and his acolytes. The answer? “Alternative facts.” Kellyanne Conway snapped at NBC’s Chuck Todd that “alternative facts” now govern the nation in which we live.

When President Trump went ballistic at The New York Times photos proving that far fewer people attended his inauguration than President Obama’s 2009 event and sent cannon fodder press secretary Sean Spicer out to chastise the “lying media, the spokesman lied for his boss.

When Trump stood in front of the CIA wall emblazoned with stars for every operative killed in action serving our nation, he contended that the only feud between him and the intelligence community was fabricated by the “dishonest media,” ignoring his widely noted previous words about former CIA Director John Brennan and his comparisons of the intelligence agencies to something out of “Nazi Germany.”

Now, thanks to Conway, the lies make complete sense. They’re not lies. They’re neither falsehoods nor fabrications. They’re “alternative facts.” If I believe that the earth is flat, contrary to all proof otherwise, I can’t be wrong – I’m stating an “alternative fact.”

The wisdom of Conway’s words really struck home with reports that in a meeting with members of Congress four days after his inauguration, Trump once again claimed that some three to five million illegal votes were cast for Hillary Clinton, and that stole the popular vote from him. There is not a shard of proof of this charge, and if there is, the Trump administration’s Justice Department must investigate what would be perhaps the most “big-league” criminal conspiracy in America’s annals. Then again, no proof is required in the era of “alternative facts.”

Why can’t Trump accept that he lost the popularity contest but won the presidency? Without an MD in psychiatry, this scribe can’t even hazard a guess. What does seem more than guesswork is that if “alternative facts” replace genuine, irrefutable facts in our politics and our collective media, democracy has already departed through the back door of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Speaking of Trump and his team, The Donald made no bones of the fact that he is at war with the media during his narcissistic turn at the CIA. Joining him in that war are the aforementioned Conway and Spicer. Conway has been given Secret Service protection following the delivery of an envelope with a suspicious white powder to her. (Obama advisors David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett were also given Secret Service details.) Once again, it is sad and disturbing that this all-too-frequent stunt was pulled on her. Conway immediately blamed the media.

In a statement to fellow Trumpian mouthpiece Sean Hannity, Conway said: “Because of what the press is doing to me, I have Secret Service protection. We have packages delivered to my house with white substances. That is a shame.” She similarly castigated the media for its “shameful” coverage of her boss. I assume she means the media coverage of Trump’s vile Access Hollywood comments and his wide array of racist, ethnic, and other misogynistic comments.

Conway was correct in taking on members of the press for an inexcusable charge they hurled against Trump during inaugural weekend. After a White House press conference, a press pool report stated that Trump had removed a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr., from the Oval Office. A guard was positioned in front of the bust, allegedly blocking it from view of the pool reporter, who quickly apologized. It only takes one error like that to muddy the waters for the White House media as they gird for daily struggles with an avowedly hostile new administration.

One thing that was removed from the White House, or rather the White House website, was the page dedicated to civil rights. Trump’s camp says it will reappear at some point. Hopefully that’s true, because there are many in Washington chomping at the bit to whitewash – yes, every pun intended – the accomplishments of the nation’s first African-American president. For many, the imminent demolition of Obamacare, which is pretty much the Dole-Heritage Foundation health plan of the ‘90s and akin to our state’s so-called Romneycare, is the first step in gutting Obama’s lawmaking legacy. If tens of millions of Americans lose their medical insurance, those who loath the very mention of the name Obama will see it as a small price to pay.

Again, with a nod to Kellyanne Conway’s choice word, how “shameful” it is that the practicing Irish Catholic speaker of the US House, Paul Ryan, has no qualms about denying health insurance to “the least among us.”

As February ushers in Black History Month and the first full month of President Obama’s absence from the White House, the saga of Bishop James Healy stands as a landmark chapter in both African-American and Irish-American annals. Healy, the first ordained African-American Catholic priest and first African-American bishop, was born on a plantation near Macon, Georgia, in 1839 to Co. Roscommon immigrant Morris Healy and “Mary Eliza, a mixed-race domestic slave.” James was the couple’s tenth child. Because Georgia law prohibited interracial marriage, the Irishman, who was deeply in love with Mary Eliza and flouted convention by treating her as his wife, sent his children north to be educated.

In 1844, James was sent to Worcester, Massachusetts, to begin his education. He went on to fledgling Holy Cross College there and was the valedictorian in the school’s first graduating class, in 1849. He earned a master’s degree there and then entered the priesthood. With the sponsorship of Boston Bishop Bernard Fitzpatrick , Healy was ordained on June 10, 1854, at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris to serve in Boston, Massachusetts. Pius IX later named Healy as the bishop of Portland, Maine, in 1875.
Healy died in 1900, and throughout his life, this son of an Irish plantation owner and the slave he loved revered Holy Cross as the place where his adult life took shape. Instead of interment in the vault of the cathedral in Portland, Healy was, as he had specified, buried in a simple grave on the Holy Cross campus. Today, a building at the school he so loved fittingly bears his honored.