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Yesterday was a bad day for Journalism

b52fc1ea81c221507536aafb47194ff9You know, eight years ago, I gave up on most media sources for news because of the god awful way Hillary Clinton was covered during the 2008 primary. The straw on the camel’s back in 2008 was Keith Olbermann’s clumsy and menacing suggestion that maybe someone take Hillary into a room and only one person come out (presumably not Hillary) to get her to drop her fruitless pursuit of the Democratic party’s nomination for president. That was it for me. I’d put up with Chris Matthews gossipy guy at the block party schtick and Andrea Mitchell’s robotic maliciousness. Olbermann was a bridge too far.

This year, I dipped my toe back in the media coverage of the presidential campaign by listening to CNN on TuneIn on my iPhone while I walked back and forth to the bus from work. Much of it was the same old “both sides do it” crap that I remembered last time Hillary ran. I figured that that is always going to be the noise in the signal and was looking for some indication that journalism was finally starting to get a clue and realize how important it is that they do the right thing this year.

Yesterday disabused me of that notion. It is a day that should live in infamy.

It started for me with Brianna Keiller aggressively questioning a Hillary surrogate, a Senator, over the “appearance of a conflict of interest” with respect to Hillary’s actions as Secretary of State and the Clinton Foundation.

Then I saw a similar confrontation on Twitter between Chuck Todd and a Clinton surrogate on the same topic where Todd was breathless about the shocking “optics” of the Clinton Foundation donors presuming to contact Hillary at the State Department.

I was starting to feel my blood pressure creep up and was going to pack it in for the night when a tweet showed up that Anderson Cooper was going to talk to Hillary in the next hour. Well, that got delayed for one reason or another and I fell asleep with CNN on again.

Early in the morning, I heard one of the CNN hosts talking to Nicholas Kristoff of the NYTimes. Now, I normally like Kristoff and you would think that he and Hillary share many of the same interests, especially when it comes to sex trafficking of women. You’d thing that the empathy that Kristoff displays in his writing on this topic could be extended to the good work that the Clinton Foundation does providing AIDS drugs for poor people around the world, some of whom might have been some of those girls sold into sexual slavery.

You would be wrong.

What I heard was Nick Kristoff dropping what can only be his “life cause” facade to talk about how baaaaad the AP’s irresponsible and inaccurate report on the chummy ties between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department looks for Hillary. The optics look bad even though he acknowledges that the actual facts show that nothing improper happened. Then he said something that makes me think that the media has completely lost the plot and is playing a very dangerous game.

He said that this issue came up in 2009 during Clinton’s confirmation hearings, which I remember well. I remember that Dick Cheney didn’t have to make such outrageous and impossible promises about Halliburton. I can’t remember anyone rigorously enforcing Bush’s blind trusts or making a big deal out of them. No, but I do remember Hillary getting grilled on the Clinton Foundation and watching her bend over backwards to accommodate the impossible standards of the Republicans.

But none of that mattered to Kristoff because Hillary should have known that the media was going to bring this up and make an international incident over anything having to do with the Clinton Foundation. She should have known that the media would be relentless and vicious about it. She should have known that the only reasonable thing to do would be to shut the foundation down back in 2009 so that there would be absolutely no appearances whatsover of impropriety no matter how many lives were being saved in Africa.

Nick evolved into whining about it like he was feeling put out having to feel guilty about it. She should have known they were going to be assholes.

It sounded to me like Hillary wore her skirts too short.

That’s it. I’m done. I can’t listen to this shit anymore. These “journalists” are not taking this seriously. They are letting personal feelings, high school personality culture and sexism drive their coverage this year. I can’t take anymore of it.

They should all be ashamed of themselves.

 

 

Tales from 2016 GOTV: True Story

devjhhr5Yesterday was a beautiful day for voter registration in PA. I’ve been doing these events every weekend for about a month now. I live in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh and this territory includes some of Pittsburgh’s most diverse neighborhoods. Yesterday, I was in East Liberty.

East Liberty has been through cycles of prosperity and decline. It’s now on the upswing. Some of the typically hipster stores are there now: Whole Foods. Trader Joes, West Elm. The population is beginning to look like the future: Techies, immigrants, African Americans.

My method is to keep moving and to talk to everyone on the sidewalk, asking them if they’ve registered to vote. The response is overwhelmingly positive even from people who are already registered to vote. I get a lot of support. I’m registering on behalf of PA Dems but my schtick is non-partisan. We’ll register anyone because we have future canvassing events planned to try to persuade even the Trump supporters.

Anyway, I met an African American man on the sidewalk eating his lunch and we started to talk. He was registered and he said there was no way in hell he was going to vote for Trump and I said something flippant like, “Yeah, especially after what Trump said last night”. The man stopped and looked at me and said, “Tell me what he said”

And I found that I really couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I was so ashamed of the whole condescending, ignorant, insulting crap that vomited forth from Trump’s mouth. I just stood there and stammered and said, “Sir, I don’t want to hurt your feelings.”.

But he persisted. He wanted me to say it looking him right in the eyes. So, I gulped and told him what Trump said about jobs and poverty and “What have you got to lose??” It was awful.

Then he must have seen how upset I was so he gave me a hug.

Every conversation is an opportunity. I spend too much time behind a monitor talking through a keyboard and connecting to digital thoughts. But voter outreach is a different kind of digital diet that allows us all to be human.

*****************************************************************

Another true story: My sister is undecided. I talked to her last night and I was like, “How in the HELL are you UNDECIDED?? Isn’t this an obvious choice? This is not difficult.”

I can’t blame her entirely. People are herd animals. That’s our nature. And she lives in conservative semi-rural Central PA. Probably everyone she knows votes Republican. They might not even remember why they started to vote that way but that’s what their families and neighbors and co-workers do so, you know, vote Republican or you’re not going to have much of a social life.

Maybe I should be relieved that she doesn’t see Trump as an option for her this year. But she’s been marinated in so much anti-Hillary propaganda for so long that even though intellectually she knows there’s no THERE there, the taint of wrongdoing lingers around Hillary like a silent but deadly fart.

I gave her my best stories about Hillary from a personal point of view. Like when I got to ask her a question about infrastructure at YearlyKos in 2007. Infrastructure is one of the highlights of her 2016 campaign so I like to think I was ahead of the curve there. And then there was the time in 2008 when she set up a conference call with all of us unofficial bloggers to thank us for continuing to champion her during the primaries. Katiebird might remember because she got to talk to her while we all listened patiently- for a long, LONG time, but I digress. (I wanted to throttle Katiebird for bogarting the phone call but I’ve given her plenty of reasons to throttle me and we’re still friends.) That was before we went PUMA after the RBC meeting and we were all infuriated with the party for trashing our primary votes.

Anyway, my sister said she might reconsider if she could talk to Hillary personally. And it occurred to me that this was probably a good idea, not that Hillary can have a private conversation with everyone’s sister. But Hillary already has fans like us. We’re going to vote for her. She can put our ballots in her pocket. I won’t be upset if she ignores us for the rest of the campaign. But the thing is we line up and wait for hours to see her campaign events and we are genuinely enthusiastic and like her- because we know her and have had some experience that makes her human to us.

But people like my sister have only heard what comes out of the TV from Fox News and other media outlets that for some reason are desperately frantic to keep Hillary out of the White House and will stop at nothing to smear her reputation. They’re very good at it now. Well they’ve had 25 years of practice.

So, if you’re out there Hillary, consider a small, intimate event in a place like Central PA with a dozen or so undecided Republican women. My sister says she’ll take your call. You know how to reach me.

 

National Security Briefings for Trump should be suspended

If you haven’t seen the NYTimes front page this morning, get over there now and read Secret Ledger for Ukraine Lists Cash for Top Trump Aide. It’s about Paul Manafort, who is an unpaid campaign manager for Donald Trump. The report is about how Manafort’s name is on a Ukranian ledger and shows that he was to be compensated for millions of dollars. Unknown at this time is whether he actually received the money.

What do you think?

Yeah, me too.

If you’re looking for some decent background information on this report, you might try Slate’s TrumpCast. These episodes are particularly informative:

The Moscow Mule (guest Frank Foer)

America’s Putin (guest Masha Gessen)

The Post-Modern Manchurian Candidate (guest Anne Applebaum)

The first two podcasts were recorded back in June and early July before the DNC hack.

We’ve heard about Trump’s alleged ties to Putin for awhile now and speculation is he owes the Russians for something and that’s what’s driving his statements on Ukraine and NATO.

In the interest of national security, Donald Trump’s access to national security briefings of classified information should be suspended until we know the extent of his and his campaign manager’s ties to Putin and the Russians.

This is more important than partisan politics at the moment.

 

 

 

Your 2nd Amendment is not more equal than our 15th and 19th Amendment

aco

Psychopaths for Trump

I am spitting angry this morning about this new and outrageous statement from Donald Trump:

“We’re going to watch Pennsylvania. Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times,” he said at a rally in Altoona, Pennsylvania. “If you do that, we’re not going to lose. The only way we can lose, in my opinion — I really mean this, Pennsylvania — is if cheating goes on.”

I’m a campaign volunteer for PA Democrats and Hillary for PA since March of this year. It irritates me to no end that all my efforts, sincere, honest, legal efforts to get people registered and get out the vote are now considered part of some great conspiracy to deny Donald Trump a win in Pennsylvania.

We are trying to deny Donald a win in Pennsylvania, no question about that but it’s not a conspiracy. It’s called campaigning. We are doing things the old-fashioned way. There are many, many boots on ground in this state. The Democrats are taking this election very seriously so they are active and mobilized to register as many people who are legally able to vote. We also do phone banking and in about a month, we’ll start canvassing. There are so many volunteers in PA right now that we are tripping over each other.

Ooooooo, out Machiavellian plans to deprive Donald of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes are… wait, they’re just normal election activities. I’ve been involved in several campaigns over the years and there’s nothing unusual about this one except the high number of us volunteering. THAT’S why Hillary is leading in the polls. It’s easier to get people to vote for you when you try to meet their needs and ask them for votes than if you threaten to break their knees. Just my humble opinion.

Where is Donald Trump’s Get Out the Vote efforts?? Fuck if I know. I haven’t seen any. But let’s face it, would you rather talk to a friendly optimistic enthusiastic person about voting or an angry bloviating dickhead with a stupid red baseball cap on his head? Let’s not even start with the potential voters Trump is not registering.

But with this newest pronouncement from Trump, what’s going to happen to us when we go to the polls in November? Is THAT where Donald is going to spend all of his time and money, on poll watchers challenging any African American and married woman who tries to express their preferences?

If that’s the plan, Donald, how are you planning to guarantee our safety?  That is one of the responsibilities of the President of the United States. Do you have control of your droogs? How are you going to prevent them from beating the shit out of voters? Are your ammosexuals going to strut around polling places with their guns out in the open and ready for action? What’s going to happen next, Donald?

In the span of one week, Donald Trump has done a “Who will rid me of this meddlesome opponent?!” speech, inviting the attention of the Secret Service. Now, he’s siccing his menacing followers on voters in PA in an attempt to deprive us of our Constitional rights. Shouldn’t the Federal Elections Commission be scheduling an interview with him as well?

I live in a diverse neighborhood. I LIKE it. My poll attendants are African American and little old ladies. I do not want to have to worry that going to vote this fall is going to put any of us in danger.

But that is what you are advocating, Donald. You are trying to make us afraid because you and your supporters won’t take “No” for an answer.

You won’t win here in Pennsylvania. We’re going to legally beat your fat ass this fall in a landslide one person, one vote at a time.

Cheating won’t be necessary.

Trump and Peter Pan

maxresdefaultI woke up in the middle of the night to find that I had unintentionally left CNN running on my iPhone (just the audio, the risk of seeing Katrina Pierson while she strangles kittens under the desk with her bare hands is a bit too much for me). I can’t remember what program was on. Is there a Don Lemon person now filling in for Larry King? It’s been awhile.

Anyway, they were playing a clip from Trump’s rally today where he was going off on Hillary because the Orlando shooter’s father was sitting behind her and, while he was getting all breathless and purple with incredulous rage at her stupidity and incompetence, there was Mark Foley, disgraced former congressman and fall semester pledge for NAMBLA sitting right behind him.

The host and his guests went wild with hysterical laughter. I mean gut busting, can’t catch my breath, wiping eyes hilarity. It took awhile for it to all settle down and I could tell from their voices that they were waiting for a commercial break to get it all out. Then Lemon said something to the effect that he thought he’d seen everything but he never thought he’d be living in an SNL skit.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Donald really is dangerous. He’s reckless and incites violence and his followers are crazy, militant and menacing. And you’re absolutely right about all of that. But even menacing, dangerous people tend to keep a degree of gravitas about them so they can get shit done.

It’s much harder to do when everyone is laughing.

It reminded me of the This American Life episode Fiascos that featured an act about an amateur production of Peter Pan with a director who wanted to take some risks. At first, the audience was forgiving of the flying apparatus that threatened to hurl one of the actors into a wall, and Captain Hook’s missing hook. But by the time the indians had scaled the balconies and an accident caused the fire department to come busting into the auditorium, the 4th wall completely disintegrated, belief was officially suspended and the audience gleefully participated in the laughter, mockery and ridicule.

That’s about where we are with Trump.

I dunno, maybe this is Paul Ryan’s strategy, just give him enough rope to hang himself. Maybe it will work.

It sure is funny.

It’s appalling and outrageous that the GOP hasn’t pulled him after the 2nd Amendment assassination comment the other day. But I’m betting they’ll abandon him when no one can take him seriously anymore and there’s still more than two months of endless coverage to turn into merciless parody and satire. They’ve got their own campaigns to worry about.

Trump in the Garden of Beasts

gty_kristallnacht_kb_131108_33x16_1600I have a hypothesis about why Donald Trump is saying outrageous, indefensible things. I think he’s worried about looking bad in the debates to come and that worry, combined with Hillary’s growing lead over him, makes it look very likely that he will lose in November. This is a guy who is used to winning. He wins and he wins and he wins. Losing is bad for his image.

Why would a rich, famous guy with a hot Eastern European wife put himself through all  of this if he can’t win? But bailing at this point would look weak. So, he’s going to have his own party pull the plug on him.

There are other possibilities of course. He could really mean what he says and he wants to fire up his base, who have guns. Lots of guns.

What concerns me is the tepid response from the media. The New York Times Editorial was the equivalent of the naughty step. Heidi Li Feldman, formerly of Heidi Li’s Potpourri, pointed me to a criticism in The Guardian of pre-WWII coverage of Germany by British newspapers that also was tepid about what was starting to become an alarming and unusual political movement complete with assassination attempts and thuggish behavior from the leader and his followers.

The danger here is that unless there is a strong public condemnation of this rhetoric and behavior, it’s only going to get worse because we will have acclimated ourselves to it. It will be, “Well, they’re always saying stupid things like that” or, “you should know what you’re getting into if you go to a Trump Rally” or, “Sure they sound like they’re going to aggressively patrol polling stations this fall but what are they going to do to stop people from voting?”. Before you know it, you have another Kristallnacht on your hands.

Now, I’m not saying that this will happen this year to this candidate and his enraged and armed followers. But we need to walk this back- now- because there is no brake on how many people can buy guns in this country. One or a couple or a posse could decide they’ve had enough of commie Hillary and her libtard voters. We know what happens next because we have a lot of history on film.

As much as I’d like to see Donald lose to Hillary by a YUGE margin, it’s safer for all of us if he’s forced out and some “reasonable” Republican got his followers to calm their tits already.

 

Will Trump drop out?

Has a major party candidate ever dropped out before?

What would it take to make him drop out?

How long will it take?

Who would be his replacement?

Would it doom the GOP this fall or improve their chances?

Enquiring minds want to know because with the media now training their laser like intensity on every word he utters or tweets, he’s not going to last the rest of the week (though an implosion caught on tape would be fascinating in that slow motion car crash kinda way).

“The humpbacks have reached their feeding grounds.”

Discuss.

 

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