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Bernie’s Q&A: Richard Jewell, Pope John Paul II, Greta Thunberg, Antifa, and more! (12/13) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)
Welcome to this week’s Premium Q&A session for Premium Interactive members. I appreciate you all signing up and joining me. Thank you.
Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):
There are frequent stories in the media today about the supposed decline of the U.S. as a great power. This is usually attributed to "causes" such as the rise of China, the wile of Putin, isolationism, President Trump, tribalism, rise in inequality, etc. While some of these may contribute to a degree, I believe the root cause of our decline (assuming it is even true) is the pervasive intense divisiveness endemic to our current politics, media, and public attitudes that has resulted in a lack of attention to and support for a common national vision, strategy, planning, and implementation. Your thoughts on this, please? -- John in "Flyover Country"
Whether America is in a state of decline or not -- and I'm not at all sure we are -- I think you're onto something, John, with your analysis about divisiveness in our country. It's tearing at the idea that we are a united nation; one with differences for sure, but still a people who share important common values. I've long believed that this polarization we're experiencing is a major news story that isn't getting enough play. To put it inelegantly, it's a big deal. If we continue down this dark road then we will indeed have every right to ask if America is in decline. And the answer may not be a comforting one.
In her so-called "concession" speech, Hillary Clinton encouraged her "followers" to RESIST at every opportunity. I see "RESIST" bumper stickers on many of the cars which also sport Obama and Hillary bumper stickers. Isn't that tantamount to treason, when an influential person like Hillary encourages the "masses" to resist the federal government, or at least, the new administration? To me, anyone who is trying to subvert the rule of law, the Constitution of the United States, or who resists the duly elected president of the United States in such a manner is guilty of treason against our nation. Traitors, when found guilty of treason in a court of law, get hanged. I'd like to see Hillary and some of the others who are trying to rewrite the Constitution hang as traitors. Every Congressperson, every military member, every government employee, myself included, raised our right arm to the square and swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution from enemies both foreign AND DOMESTIC. These far left congresspeople are definitely NOT defending the Constitution, but are in fact, enemies who are trying to tear it down and replace our form of government with a Socialist model. TREASON. Why aren't they on trial for that? -- Your thoughts? Jake H.
My thoughts? You're nuts.
In a free country we're allowed to resist the federal government. Did Hillary Clinton ever call for the violent overthrow of the government? No? I didn't think so. Therefore your argument for hanging her is beyond ridiculous.
And there's something you probably didn't think of, Jake. When you resist the next Democrat who's elected president -- especially if that person is a left wing progressive -- there are going to be nuts on the other side who want to hang ... you!
Growing up, I wanted to be a professional hockey player before reality set in. Did you have any aspirations other than a journalist? Is there one journalist you want to interview? And what would be the one big question? I asked you once if you had one story so great you asked your wife to break out the Scotch. You said you didn’t drink. But wondering if you ever went home and your wife broke out the Scotch and said “Honey, you went too far”? -- Tim H.
I would have liked to play for the New York Yankees, but it was never a dream, nothing I pursued. I might like to interview Dan Rather and ask him if my belief is true -- that he's either incapable or simply unwilling to take serious criticism seriously. And no, my beautiful, intelligent wife (who was once an award winning journalist herself) never said, "Honey, you went too far." She doesn't call me honey.
Bernie, do you think the United States is headed for a divorce? If the blue states get more blue and the red states get more red, and the urban areas and rural areas drift further and further apart, do see a time in the distant future where the nation breaks up and becomes a land of separate nation states? I am not saying there will be a civil war but rather the states will conclude that a federal government cannot adequately serve a diverse nation that is so sharply divided. -- Joe M.
I don't see that, Joe, but I do see why you think it could happen. A friend once suggested that we have Blue states and Red states and we can all decide what color state we want to live in. I think he was serious. But that won't happen either. Both sides are guilty of perpetuating the divisions you speak about. We need people of courage to stand up to the hyper partisans. But that's simply a hope. (See question from Jake above.)
I just watched Mark Levin & Alan Dershowitz have an excellent, learned, fact based and most importantly cordial conversation on today’s political issues and Constitutional intent. It was refreshing to see such established Conservative & Liberal experts discuss the facts. Most people will not see this show unfortunately; so how can mainstream media help produce more balanced discussion to educate the voters? I know, I know, I’m kidding myself...One can only hope. -- Scotty G.
Bill Buckley used to host a weekly show along the lines you describe ... Firing Line. You're right, Scotty, we need more of that. But cable in prime time, on all 3 news channels, isn't interested in learned, cordial and fact based discussions. They're interested in validating their particular audience's biases. One can hope, Scotty. But that's what it is at this point ... hope.
I grew up in a Jewish community, and often heard from various Jews that the Holocaust could occur in America (principally because of a widely held belief that right wingers would take over America and put American Jews in concentration camps). I heard similar concerns when Trump was elected. Though I leaned left when I was younger, I never bought into this. I knew that America and our values were antithetical to that viewpoint.
But today, groups like Antifa are not prosecuted for violent acts against those with whom they disagree, and the MSM and lots of lefties are either silent or try to rationalize why Antifa and their ilk aren't really that dangerous. I am concerned that in some cities, violence will be visited upon those brave enough to express their viewpoints, and contest those who seek to impose their ways and views on everyone else. Was I naïve in my younger years and am I paranoid now? -- Michael F.
While there was widespread anti-Semitism in America a while back, I never feared Nazi Germany USA. So, no, you were not naive Michael to not buy into that story. As for today: I don't think you're paranoid. We saw what happened in Portland, where Antifa thugs beat up a conservative journalist -- and the cops yawned. If violent groups aren't shut down, if violent demonstrators aren't arrested and prosecuted, there will be more of it. This stuff is contagious.
King Bernard..... Don’t you miss pulling into a ‘filling station’ and having an attendant with his name on his shirt hustling out to your car and asking that ever vexing question...”regular or ethel, sir?”....and then going to pee in a restroom dirtier than a <censored>.... — keep it ‘woke’.....I’m headed to Esso..........Greggo
Greggo, my friend, I see they let you out for a bit of fresh air. Do I miss the good old days? Sometimes. Do I look forward to your goofy questions. Yup, all the time.
Regarding your Off the Cuff on Springer and Povich, how instrumental do you think the Trash TV culture was in electing Donald Trump? -- Jen R.
I don't think it was the trash culture, Jen, that influenced the election of Donald Trump -- but perhaps it was the perception of the liberal elite that only trash would vote for Mr. Trump. More on that in a moment.
I think mainly it was a desire to try something different. Donald Trump wasn't a politician. Voters, I think, figured, why not give this guy a chance; maybe he can change the way things are done. I also think there was a subset in that broad group -- a subset that was giving a great big middle finger to the coastal liberal elites who have long dismissed them as trashy types with limited educations who therefore, were not to be taken seriously. They noticed and voted for Mr. Trump, figuring he understood them -- and despite his money, they somehow figured that he was one of them.
That said, Donald Trump has indeed contributed to the trash culture. He'd make a good poster boy for that culture.
Do you have any interest in seeing the Richard Jewell movie by Clint Eastwood? Do you have any thoughts on Jewell's media treatment at the time? From what I've been reading, the MSM is upset by how poorly they're portrayed in the film. -- Jacob W.
As a general rule, I don't like docudramas because I don't know where the truth ends and Hollywood fiction begins. Jewell certainly got a raw deal from some members of the press. They may have thought he was the bomber but he also fit a favorite liberal elite stereotype: Jewell was the overweight Southerner with a thick accent and limited education. It's easier for them to bash someone like that, though they'd never admit it. The MSM is always upset when they're not portrayed as all-American heroes, so I wouldn't make too much of that.
While I know Trump is often unpopular and says foolish things, I also know that impeachment is not good for America. Many voters in the swing states aren't especially keen on impeaching Trump. Wouldn't it have just been simpler to tough it out for one year and let the voters and electoral college decide what happens in 2020 instead of this option that's currently going on? There must be some democrats who think that impeaching Trump could just as easily backfire on them as it did on the Republicans when they were the sore losers trying to get rid of Bill Clinton? -- Peachy Regards, from The Emperor
Early polls in battleground states seem to indicate that impeachment is not going well for Democrats. Swing voters, I suspect, are saying what you're saying, Emperor: that the election is less than a year away, why not wait and let the voters "impeach" the president if that's what they choose to do. And yes, there certainly are some Democrats who fear a backlash. And for good reason.
There's an old picture that's been on your website and social media accounts before, showing you with Pope John Paul II. Can you describe the story behind it? Also, you look rather distressed in the photo. The Pope wasn't performing an exorcism on you, was he? 😉 -- John D.
Editor's note: Below is the photo:
I have that picture on the wall of my office. The caption underneath says: Yeah, but who's the guy with Goldberg.
I was doing a story at the Vatican for 48 Hours on CBS and the pope was shaking a lot of hands that day. I don't think I look distressed, but maybe a tad surprised. The pope had just said, "Bernie, the Yankees don't have a shot at the World Series because the Bronx Bombers don't have enough solid pitching." I was going to disagree, but figured, I'm in his house, let it go.
Child climate change activist Greta Thunberg has been named Time Magazine's Person of the Year. This was predictable, but if the edition still had credibility, who would YOU have liked to see as their Person of the Year? -- Bruce
Once upon a time, when Time picked its person of the year it was a cultural event. The American people were interested in the pick, they talked about it. It's not that way anymore. Now we take notice of the person of the year and quickly move on. Time isn't the journalistic force it once was. Neither are the broadcast networks. The media are spread over many platforms, so the media's influence is also balkanized. That's a big reason Time's influence has waned.
As for my pick, maybe Donald Trump because he has had such an affect on our politics and culture.
Thanks, everyone! You can send me questions for next week using the form below! You can also read previous Q&A sessions by clicking here.