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Creamsicle threatens riots

That’s right. The Donald says there will be riots in Cleveland if he falls short of the delegate count during the convention.

Which is silly.

Has he actually been to a party convention recently??  I went to Denver during the 2008 convention and the place looked like it was preparing for a siege from a foreign army. Streets were blocked off, protestors were relegated to some circular park… thing. They couldn’t get anywhere near the convention center. If they even dipped a toe off the curb, they were violently wrestled to the ground by a bunch of cops dressed like they were out of some juvenile dystopian novel. Then they were sent off to some holding facility miiiiles away from Denver where they could free speak all they wanted to other protestors in some dingy cage.

Why would Trump supporters riot anyway? I thought they had respect for the law and were deferential to police authority. Do they think they get a hall pass because they aren’t dirty f{#%ing hippies??

i guess we’ll find out.

But seriously, Donald, inciting violence in a beer hall putsch type scenario might be going too far. Even for you.


Wonderful Wednesday after Tremendous Tuesday: Short Notes

I’m awake now. Here are some thots in no particular order, feel free to add yours to the comments:

1.) Obama is supposed to pick a supreme court replacement today. I’m guessing that whoever it is will not really upset the stranglehold that conservatives have on the court especially with respect to the wealthy and well connected. I mean, he’s got to make a living after his term is over. Can’t upset his patrons too much. Besides, the Republicans would be stupid to turn him down on this even if they have to give up on overturning Roe v Wade. They’ve gotten pretty much all they wanted on abortion and they can always cynically fire up their base about it for the upcoming general election. They know how this works.

And so do we.

Here’s a blurb about Obama’s potential picks and strategy:

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said Mr. Obama must decide whether to pick a “grand-slam” candidate — one like Judge Srinivasan, who is young, moderate and could have a profound effect on the court — or a “sacrifice fly,” like Judge Watford, an impressive judge whose positions on the death penalty and immigration would draw criticism from conservatives but whose nomination could exact a political price from Republicans who oppose him.

“The Obama White House are the ultimate practitioners of realpolitik — they have to be making a careful calculus, but the real question is not how do they win, it’s what game are they playing?” Mr. Turley said.

The choice depends in large part, they said, on whether Mr. Obama believes his nominee ultimately has a chance at being confirmed: “At best, the White House is looking at a highly contested nomination, and in those circumstances, the president generally will look for someone who is thoroughly moderate or a blind date.”

Judge Srinivasan, who would be the court’s first Indian-American, has the shortest judicial record of the three, which could limit the potential for conservative attacks, but also makes him a bit of an ideological cipher. Judge Watford, an African-American, could be the most liberal of the nominees, and did not get the kind of universal support that Judge Srinivasan did during his previous confirmation battle.

Um, from what I can recall, Srinivasan represented Enron at some point.

In any case, it ain’t going to be a liberal. As long as the court was 5-4 in favor of the conservatives, Obama could potentially nominate a more liberal-ish justice. We still have no idea how liberal Kagan and Sotomayor are because the other 5 justices are so far to the right. Yes, even Kennedy.

But as soon as one of the 5 died, it became important to restore the “balance”.

Just wait.


2.) Bernie people are welcome here. Except for the Butthurt guys (they are almost always guys).

3.) At this time in 2008, Hillary was crushing Barack Obama. Yep, go back and look. If you had added Florida and Michigan delegates to her totals, something the party deliberately withheld and the media never questioned, she would have appeared unstoppable. But stop her the party did, in favor of a guy who kept winning places like Idaho instead of the woman who won CA, MA, NY, NJ, PA, OH, TX, etc, etc. ( I’m always amused by the media people who insist that it would be *inconceivable* for a party to ignore the majority of their voters who want a particular candidate. We’ve seen that it can happen very easily and the party just muzzles the majority of its voters. That may come back to bite it eight years later when they find that some of their “old coalition” has defected to Donald Trump. You tried to warn them but did they listen?)  All I’m saying is that Hillary can never, ever let her guard down with her own party. There is an element in the party that is not ever going to accept her. But the Democrats are much more tolerant of sexism than racism. Let’s just admit that. And that means they rejected her in 2008, made her wait eight painful years, and will persist in withholding full acceptance because for these guys (and they are almost always guys) there is always another guy out there who is more profound, a genius, underappreciated, wise, younger than he looks blah-blah-blah. They will believe absolutely everything negative that is said about Hillary. It’s confirmation bias. So, for her, it will always be an uphill climb.

4.) That being said, she could make it a bit easier on herself if she stopped fluffing Obama and sang her own praises. Any guy from the party who runs next time will make damn sure to distance himself from her accomplishments. And in this case, Obama doesn’t really have significant accomplishments. There aren’t a lot of Obamacare fans out here, Hillary. Plus, no president in his right mind would pass up the chance to take out Bin Laden. It’s expected. So, you know, time to think of yourself. That’s what the sincere Bernie supporter is telling you. They’re desperate for a real change agent.

5.)  I was listening to CNN and their “journalists” really are clueless. It turns out that Trump supporters are “very concerned” with the economy. But the “journalists” say that these same people report that they are holding their own. My guess is that those people know people who have fallen through the big gaping holes in what used to be known as the safety net and they are worried sick that it will happen to them. Count me among the well known horror stories in my family. A college education and career in a STEM profession didn’t help me- at. all. It has been truly awful in ways I can’t even describe. THAT’S what could happen to any one of them.

And so what if gas prices have fallen. Have you seen the price of beef?? Just about a month ago, a single broccolli crown in one of the nicer grocery stores here cost $3.99. When did broccolli become an endangered species? So, you know, it’s still rough out here for those of us who had to go back to entry level jobs to make a living. If you’re living in Atlanta and you are a “journalist” making a couple hundred thousand working for CNN, maybe this is not obvious to you. Try to acknowledge that.

6.) Another episode of “The People vs OJ Simpson” dropped last night. One of the things I didn’t know about this case was how strenuously OJ objected to be seen as a black man. Johnny Cochran had to unwhiten his estate before the jury took a walk through, and brought african american art and personal photos from his own house to stage Simpson’s house. Oj Simpson’s peers were his neighbors in Brentwood, the people he golfed with, the wealthy white sports team owners, hot white women, and other people with privilege and power. Cochran had to erase all of that when the trial was moved from Santa Monica courthouse to downtown LA and he was phenomenally successful in changing Simpson from a man of privilege who hadn’t known hardship in twenty years, to a black man who was oppressed by the system.

But those of us who watched the evidence from the distance of two thousand miles away knew he was guilty. We also knew that his dream team cynically screamed racism for a guy who didn’t give two fucks for the people who acquitted him and would never be seen in their company. If they only knew what contempt he had for them and how helping them was the absolutely last thing on his agenda, would they have still voted to acquit? I wonder…

7.) Renegade female biologists strike the first blow on the science journal racket and post their preprints to the web in advance of publishing. Sweeet!

Stupendous Tuesday: BYOB Slumber Party

untitled-141I was planning a cocktail party for tonight but daylight savings time caught up with me. I’m not sure I’m actually awake. So, I’m going to leave this post open for everyone to have a drink and some horse duvers. But I might just sit in a corner curled up in the papasan and fade in and out.

The radio says Trump won Florida. {{shudder}}  I need a blankie.

John Kasich took his home state of Ohio. That’s better than how Marco Rubio did in his home state. Well, it’s all in the past for Marco.

Hillary is giving a thank you speech in Ohio. She won Florida. We are waiting for Illinois and Missouri. But these wins tonight may show that she’s turning the corner and maybe, just maybe, Democratic voters are having an “Oh S%^&!” moment as they look over at the other side. I still love Bernie but he could be very vulnerable during the general election.

Anywho, the eyelids aren’t pulling their weight. I might have to do a light check.

Please don’t short my sheets.




On Trumpism, protests and $&^* I can’t read anymore

9508283Let’s start with the s^&* I can’t read anymore.

There’s a special edition of Nature on CRISPR that I’ve been dying to get my hands on. Now, I don’t do research anymore. I’ve migrated to another technical area. But I still like to feel that tingle in the brain from reading a collection of good papers. Like some high altitude f^&*s that I just can’t quit. So, thinking that the overlords of Nature had made this super important, not to be missed collection available for regular consumption, even if the papers are not printable and viewable only for the length of time for speed readers to make any sense of them, I stupidly clicked on the link and ran into the dreaded pay wall.

Here I had a choice. I could either cough up $30/paper or I could shell out $199/year for a Nature subscription. I considered the latter. But journals are like Lays potato chips. You can’t eat just one. Once you start getting into the citations of the papers, you’ll need to look up a bunch of them and they might not be from Nature. They might be from J. Mol. Bio. or Cell or something else. And there will be hundreds of them.

Besides, I need to save my money for the plumber and the toilet that is about to go on me any day now.

Toilet or CRISPR? Sanitation or gene editing? This is a no brainer, of course.

So, I passed on the papers and CRISPR and now I won’t know any more about it than most people who pay no attention to gene editing or don’t believe in evolution. Oh, sure, there are workarounds and I have friends who could probably send the papers to me. But that’s not the point. Journals need a new business model. A couple of years ago, I suggested that the American Chemical Society switch to an Apple iTunes model because that would make so much sense and would mean that independent researchers and geeks without portfolio wouldn’t have to camp on the licenses of their academic friends…

Wait, where was I?

Ok, back to the harsh light and frigid temperatures of reality.

So, to get my sciencey fix, I downloaded a book from Audible by Robert Sawyer called Quantum Night. It’s Sci Fi, and although a lot of Audible Sci Fi recommended books have been duds, this one seemed promising. The story is about psychologists and physicists researching the nature of consciousness and what makes humans sentient, aware and psychopathic. This book is like geek bait. The author talks about all the usual subjects on the topic of good and evil and psychology, Zimbardo, Milgram, Altemeyer. But he also introduces some new names I had never heard of like Angela Book, whose papers are behind a pay wall, and some French sounding dude named Rene Girard. The Canadian researchers in the book work at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatechewan, a place that is familiar to me because I used to send my crystals there for data collection. And there’s a bit of structural biology in there as well. I was happy to see that some of the crystal structures he mentions are available at the Brookhaven repository so I can download them to my last remaining visualization application. BUT I can’t read the citation for the structures without paying $30/paper which I’m not going to do.

In the book, the researchers find that the consciousness of every human being on earth falls into one of three discrete states. The first state is fully sentient with a internal monologue and the second is that of a psychopath who thinks like a predator. The third state is for a type of human being that theoretically exists but that I had never heard of before, the philosophical zombie. In the book, they are real and the researchers call them P-Zeds, because this is Canada after all. The theory is that some people look like normal human beings and act like normal human beings but they have no internal monologue. The lights are on but no one is home.

I know what you’re thinking. You went out with someone like that.

This is a work of fiction, so take that into consideration. I don’t know how such a person could exist, like I can’t imagine being color blind. How could you go through life without hearing a cacophony of voices in your head talking about why the woman on the ninth floor won’t accept your IMs, read your mail or accept your meeting invitation when you really need her information right now, and did you turn off the iron, and is it better to go meatless or fast on Mondays, and maybe you really do have a thyroid condition, didja ever think of that??

I’m not the only one, am I?

I can’t be the only one. Think of all of the books and poems and songs and works of art and Einstein sitting on a beam of light…

So, I can’t believe that it’s possible to be a functional human being without an internal monologue, who just looks for social cues to know what to do next. Then I remembered Facebook.

That was a cheap shot.

But the more I thought about this book, the more questions I had and the more it made me think about what it is that makes Trump voters like him and why some of the most resistant liberal Hillary haters are Bernie Sanders fans. I’m not talking about Katiebird or some of my own family members.

Off topic for a moment: Let’s say that you can’t be a complete philosophical zombie. Let’s say that you do have an internal monologue but somehow, it’s become suppressed. Isn’t that what happens in cults? That thing that recovering cultists call “the authentic self”, maybe that’s the fully conscious sentient self with a completely engaged internal monologue.

Am I the only person who gets a little creeped out when some religious person says to an atheist, “You don’t have morality. Without the bible telling you right from wrong, what’s to stop you from running around killing people?” Because when I hear someone say that, I think, the only thing stopping the religious person who is saying that from running around killing people is a somewhat disjointed collection of writings of late bronze age tribalists who bear a striking resemblance to the Taliban.

Really? REALLY???  You don’t know from experience and empathy and your own pain that it’s wrong to run around killing people and stealing their stuff and lying? You need a set of rigid rules and the threat of eternal damnation to tell you not to do bad things to other people?

Maybe philosophical zombies do exist. But maybe people aren’t born this way, as the protagonists in the book propose. Maybe philosophical zombiism is induced.

What if the mind is lazy and unless you train it, the internal monologue will seek the path of least resistance? Could that explain the number of Trump voters who have only a high school education? (There’s a recent statistical analysis out there somewhere that looks like PCA but I’m having trouble finding the link) Could the emphasis on conformity in some voters of a certain age also account for the tendency to be lead? Somehow, the internal monologue has been turned down from 10 to around 3. And how do TV and other forms of media affect the internal monologue?

On the left, can we see a turning down of the internal monologue in spite of mass quantities of Ivy League education? Does the emphasis on buzz words like corporatist, neoliberalism and DLC short circuit the internal monologue? Could the tendency of the left to blame everything on racism be indicative of a lazy shortcut that is actually making the current situation worse? I mean, there are definitely racists but not everyone who is critical of Obama is a Republican or a racist. Could it be that the concept of racism was used as a cynical tool to suppress the internal monologue by a bunch of predators in the “establishment” in order to stifle criticism of the things they were going to persuade Obama to do?  I mean, it’s not like African Americans have suddenly prospered and joined the ranks of the 1% in any great numbers in the past eight years as they might have had a right to expect. You would think that someone on the left was looking out for them for all the lip service that is given to racism. Neglect of the consequences of the real thing shouldn’t be this obvious. Just because you use a word a billion times doesn’t make it true. Either we’re not as smart as we think we are or we’ve become somewhat brain dead.

Long time readers of this blog know that I try to avoid almost all news sources and have to pick my way through the printed page like it’s a minefield. You can do what you want but I choose not to expose myself to media narratives if I can help it. I’m almost hyperaware of every nuance, which makes me a blast at parties. One of the reasons why I’m not as into Hillary as I was in 2008 is because I think that someone in her campaign staff is tinkering with our lazy minds this time around and I really resent it. It comes through in the mail she clutters up my inbox with as well as some of the things she has said. Yesterday, she said something about how we should all “use our words” when it comes to protesting our opponents. I didn’t know if she was reflecting on her diplomatic skills that she acquired in the State Department or whether she was thinking about doing an updated version of Romper Room.

Ah, yes, I remember it well. There was the time when Brooke threw a rock at a kid who was teasing her in fourth grade and the vice principal told us she should learn how to “use her words”.  But when Brooke yelled that math was boring her in seventh grade, her teacher seemed to be upset that she had “used her words” inappropriately and sent her to the vice principal who said maybe it would be better for her to remain silent. So, I’m not sure that the whole “use your words” thing is a rule so much as a guideline and that vice principals are authoritarian moral relativists.

Hey, when Donald Trump started to whine that his free speech rights were being violated, did anyone else immediately think of that scene in Monty Python and The Holy Grail when the peasant was yelling about how he was being repressed?

Yes, yes, Donald, you have been fluffed relentlessly by the press who has a fascination with covering you in the same way that pressing down on a hangnail can sometimes produce a deliciously warm painful experience that must be repeated over and over again and yet you can be so easily derailed and stifled by a couple of obnoxious protestors who don’t like the way you are proposing to treat immigrants and black people. And Women. Don’t forget women. Everyone always does.

In any case, if you are going to a Trump rally to protest because you were paid to do it or because someone who was fully sentient was unable to talk you out of it, then I thank you for your service. No one goes to a Trump rally, surrounded by what looks like philosophical zombies and psychopaths, thousands of them, unless they are very brave. The money wouldn’t be enough for me. But I wouldn’t rule out standing on the sidewalk with a “Trump is a Jagoff” sign and a pocket full of Gogurt. That might be fun.

So, where was I?

I don’t know. My mind went off the track again. I have a chicken to roast and clothes to wash and I think I’d better check my email from work and that woman from the ninth floor just turned out to be busy but she could have been secretly dissing me, I don’t know for sure, and Crossfit costs $99 at the Y, is it better to get a subscription to Nature or get two months of Crossfit…

Post Michigan: Cassandra Speaks

12cfc2b1c122190e08dcb1336097240dI’m going to step out of my “let’s all be friends” mode for a minute to talk about what happened in Michigan last night.

Clinton won that debate in Michigan. She reached out to the African American community. She fluffed Obama til it hurt. She still lost. Now, I would still vote for Bernie in a heartbeat over whoever the Republican challenger turns out to be and I’m not even going to say that this would turn out to be a McGovernesque mistake. But something else is going on this election year that Hillary’s campaign staff is not catching on to.

Also note that if anything, the winner in Michigan has a much more awkward and less nuanced attitude towards race and gender. It’s not that he’s a racist. It’s that he looks very uncomfortable talking about it. And we can’t rule out the relentless attacks on Hillary’s character from almost everyone. Someday, we might have to address the scapegoat mechanism and why Americans are so determined to resolve a conflict by making the woman take the fall. But that’s for another post.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this comment from tdraicer from about a week ago. He summed up this election season and Hillary’s plight pretty well. Unlike the Republican party, the Democratic party has mechanisms to shape the outcome, as we saw in 2008. I’m not advocating cheating and rewriting the rules like it did for Obama. But Democrats have proportional delegation instead of “winner take all” and the superdelegates can throw their weight to their preferred candidate.

The Democratic nominee might not have a chance in November if the feeling of impotence among the electorate forces it to vote for drastic and dangerous change in order to make a point: They will not be ignored.

Here’s tdraicer’s comment (hope he doesn’t mind):

I confess to both enjoying and being appalled by the ironies of this campaign season.

In 2008, despite winning a majority of primary voters, Hillary was kept from the nomination by an alliance of mostly young white Democratic activists and black voters who chose symbolism over substance (an alliance backed by Wall Street money who knew exactly which Democrat was friendliest to their interests). At the same time I warned that an anti-liberal Democrat like Obama in the WH would push the GOP even more to the extreme right.

Now, 8 years later, after Obama disappointed those who saw him wrongly as a liberal, Hillary is again opposed by mostly young white Democratic activists, forcing her to embrace Obama and rely on the exact black symbolic attachment to Obama that cost her their votes 8 years ago. And minus those voters, (and to be fair, the Wall Street money), Bernie demonstrates the limits of the Obama coalition of 2008.

Meanwhile, having failed to elect two Right-wing candidates to the WH in 2008 and 2012, the GOP has finally gone off the cliff, apparently intent on nominating someone so far to the right it scares even many Republicans (which won’t stop them backing him in the end).

Which doesn’t, alas, mean Trump is doomed to lose. Apart from black voters, Obama isn’t that popular, and Hillary’s being forced into his arms could cost her, especially if the economy collapses between now and November. If there is a Revolutionary mood in the country, it lies among Trump supporters, not Bernie’s.

In 2000 when W. “won” I said, Better hope nothing like a major terrorist attack happens in the next four years. In 2004, after listening to Obama’s speech at the Democratic Convention, I said, Better hope he never becomes President. In 2008 and 2012 I warned there was much worse than McCain or Romney waiting in the wings. In sum, I’m gaining a lot of sympathy for Cassandra: seeing the future and having no influence over it is not as much fun as one might wish.


Marty Baron: Investigate the media

Hi Marty. I just finished watching Spotlight. I’d read that you moved on from the Boston Globe to The Washington Post. To be honest, I took WaPo out of my twitter feed. Over the years, I’ve become sensitized to artfully crafted turns of phrase, carefully selected words with specific connotations, and media narratives. I can tell when the media is trying to shape what I think and, since I prefer to draw my own conclusions, I don’t read as much of your paper anymore.

You probably don’t know who I am. I’m just a blogger, sitting out here in the Oort belt of the blogosphere. I’ve been posting semi-regularly and editing infrequently since 2008. There are a lot of adjectives in my posts.

Another reason you may not have heard of me may be attributed to the fact that female bloggers do not usually make the cut in Greg Sargent’s Plum Line. I’m not complaining for myself. I’ve never wanted to be famous or widely read. If I had any ambitions in that regard, I would have spent more time trying to toe the party line, jazzing up my CSS and editing. I might have chosen a more gender neutral pen name as well. Digby has done that. She had to.

Greg Sargent works for you, doesn’t he? At one point a few years ago, I was trying to find a way to represent how underrepresented women were in getting their opinions mentioned in the traditional media, and considered using the Plum Line’s evening round-up as an index. But then real life intervened and I was laid off for an extended period of time. Long term unemployment didn’t get a lot of attention in the major newspapers in the past five or six years. Maybe journalists found it boring or they were “whistling past the graveyard”. But I did find an interesting pattern with respect to the NYTimes coverage of the long term unemployed back in about 2010. It bore no resemblance to any reality I knew and looked like gratuitous kicking of people when they were down. Not only that but it was bound to have an effect on HR hiring managers and talent acquisition specialists. You may want to have a look at that post and tell me what you think. What were the NYTimes journalists up to?

You may be wondering why I am writing what seems to be a long, rambling, “stream of consciousness” blog post to someone who doesn’t have time to read long, rambling “stream of consciousness” blog posts from a virtual nobody who doesn’t read your paper. Recent events have compelled me to write this, specifically the collective freak out over Donald Trump. I am not a Donald Trump supporter. No, I have been a Hillary Clinton supporter for about 23 years since I was just a young suburban mom and scientist in New Jersey. I also haven’t been a Barack Obama supporter. In fact, I didn’t vote for him twice. There are many reasons for this, racism not being one of them. I’ve blogged about what I saw happening in my party, the media, my industry, and my own series of unfortunate events, since January 2008, if you’re interested in my perspective.

I’m writing to you because the media may be overlooking its own culpability in the strength of Donald Trump’s presidential run. Maybe that is intentional. After all, it’s a story, in a presidential election year, and it features a candidate who must be making David Broder roll over in his grave. These kinds of stories almost write themselves. It must be difficult for reporters to check their enthusiasm.

My opinion, for what it’s worth (see above for Plum Line index commentary) is that the public is reacting to the media’s obsession with 1.) covering Donald Trump and 2.) getting Hillary Clinton by any means necessary. It has succeeded beyond its wildest expectations where Hillary is concerned. Nobody trusts her. That could be a problem because even Hillary’s staunchest critics have to admit that she is the most qualified of the current crop of candidates and the one least likely to make a rookie mistake. That’s not a plug for my candidate. It’s just happens to be the truth. But she’s got an uphill climb to convince many Americans that she can be trusted.

Let’s take a news article about Hillary on today’s front page of The Washington Post. Here’s the headline and the blurb:

Clinton used private server to write 104 emails later deemed classified

The finding is the first accounting of her personal role in placing information now considered sensitive into insecure messages during her State Department tenure.

Do I need to read any further? I am assuming that the truth is in the headline. The emails were later deemed classified. That means, at the time they were written, they weren’t classified. I don’t know why they were classified later or what the subjects of the emails were. I have to ask myself, if she wrote emails on her gmail account and not her private server, and those emails were later classified, would we consider this a legitmate news story?

There were 104 emails. I’m sure that if there was something earth shatteringly critical and dangerous for the enemy to know, you would have put that in the headline. But this article looks like just another hit on Clinton. Now, I have to ask myself whose water you are carrying? Are those persons using The Washington Post because they know you are compliant? Is that compliancy the result of genuine study or previous bias?  You may consider this an unfair characterization of the Hillary pieces you run routinely. I might agree with you but I don’t find this kind of coverage for any other candidate. At this point, it’s just boring but it still serves the purpose of undermining her credibility. I don’t trust your motives. What’s in it for me, an average American, if you take down the one person I can safely rely on to not blow up the world while you let other lesser candidates bogart your main headlines?

This is one of the reasons why I don’t read your paper. It’s dishonest even when it’s reporting the truth. And if you’re dishonest about Hillary, who or what else are you not being honest about?

Donald Trump, on the other hand, can do no wrong. By that I mean, short of molesting a kid on live TV, the more that gets thrown at him, the more support he seems to attract. Even live TV child molestation might not work. He might say, “That’s not my short, stubby penis, I don’t know who that penis belongs to. I’ve never even met that kid and if I did, I don’t remember it.” And the journalists will try try again and people will ignore them and cheer and go vote for Trump anyway. To me, that’s a sign that the media narratives may only have limited traction these days. I used to think that was a good thing. Now, I’m not so sure.

So, if Trump really is as dangerous, unscrupulous and unpresidential as we are told, maybe you might want to investigate why it is that no one cares anymore.

Could it be that the major media has not been sufficiently critical of itself? Has it become a player instead of an objective analyst, with or without adjectives? Does the telecast of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner suggest a certain vanity?

Have you asked yourself whether Thomas Friedman’s chat with various cab drivers conveys sufficient understanding of the plight of the average American? Are you comfortable with the accusation of racism that the administration and its surrogates casually throw out when it is criticized? Could it be possible that not challenging this accusation has lead many people to feel powerless to get their concerns heard? Is it possible that not all of Donald Trump’s supporters are racists but are frustrated at having their issues ignored?

Has your paper been fair in reporting what it is that concerns Americans? Has it dug deep into the problem of long term unemployment and underemployment? Does it know what it’s like to live on Social Security in retirement without a pension? Has it done any investigative reporting on the 401K problem? I have to give credit to the NYTimes for its series on the cost of healthcare. Have you done any reporting on how the ACA was developed and who the major players were? What were their goals? How much skin in the game did they decide would cripple the act?

Has your paper examined why it has such hatred of the Clintons? At this point, after years of investigations that went nowhere and several searches of the Clintons’ underwear drawer, it’s starting to look like this is personal. I’m not singling out the Washington Post on this but the media does seem a little bit incestuous. There are only so many major newspapers in the country and it seems like most of the reporters have jumped from one to the other, and back again. Does it feel too clubby? Do you all hate the right people?

Major papers do not change their columnists frequently either. Do you think the shortage of female opinion columnists has anything to do with the treatment of Hillary Clinton or lack of interest in issues important to women in general?  How many female columnists would it take to balance this inequity? Studies have previously suggested that when women represent 30% of country’s government, this can have a substantial positive impact on the overall quality of life in that country. Are you prepared to increase the number of women on your editorial page to improve its quality?

Do you find there is a problem with credentialism in your newsroom? Do you only hire from certain schools? Does it help to be a legacy? Is it better to hire someone with contacts in government who are friends and acquaintances?

I ask these questions because the quality of journalism can also have a systemic effect on the news. If your newsrooms are cluttered with journalists who are captured by their social group, academic credentials or gender, that is going to be reflected in what hits the front pages and gets covered by cable news. If your reporters and columnists do not accurately report the news, or care to understand what it is like to live as a middle class to low middle class American, or how the powers that be have affected that American’s life and future, does your paper remain relevant? Should you be surprised when Donald Trump starts winning primaries?

Maybe someone is trying to tell you something.


Katiebird calls in from Kansas

I just got a call from Katiebird. She lives in a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas. Here’s her rundown:

There were about 1430 people at her caucus site. The large auditorium/gym room in the pictures she sent me showed a standing room only crowd. There were additional people in the hallways.

When they asked people to separate by candidate, they had the Bernie contingent filter out onto a field. The line seemed to go on forever. She said that they were asked to line up in lines of 10 and then they counted. By the time they got to her, there were 300 for Bernie but the counting went on a lot longer after her. They counted the votes three times.

Bernie won her senate district. The exact count was something like 900+ for Bernie, 400+ for Hillary.

She said the Bernie campaign staff were very well organized and efficient. They were prepared for a large turnout. It was a really pleasant experience in contrast to the caucus she went to in 2008 on a Tuesday night in a blizzard when busloads of rowdy Obama supporters, some of whom she was pretty sure were bussed in from another state, crowded the small space they had reserved for the caucus. In that year, Hillary was crushed in her district caucus. She thinks having it on a nice Saturday afternoon when there could be a good turnout and everyone was relaxed made a lot of the difference.

Her sister lives about 30 miles away and they think that Bernie is taking the larger population areas but don’t know if farmers are also receptive to the Bern.

She also said Governor Brownback seems to be facing a serious Democratic challenger. That could be fun to watch this year.

Katiebird is on her way home now ready to unscrew a new fine boxed merlot.

Cocktail hour is here.