Monday, November 28, 2016

Post Truth and the Death of Real Journalism

On Thanksgiving,  there was a story that made the rounds in social media and picked up by news sources that somehow a cable company had broadcast porn on the CNN channel on Thursday evening.  Twitter led to various other sources repeating it including CNN that blamed a local cable provider.  Days later it turns out that this was not true.  In fact it might have been one person's cable box.  But now we will hear stories of CNN broadcasting porn as fact moving forward.  Because today news is not about facts.  Journalists are more interested in repeating hot stories than they are about digging deeper and being accurate.  That is sad.

It isn't like this hasn't been an issue in the past.  We all remember the McDonald's coffee story where an elderly woman was severely burned and initially was given $2.7 million in damages.  What you don't hear is that the amount was reduced to under $700.000 and settled for a different amount. Other stories like Al Gore saying he invented the internet (he never said it) or colonies of alligators in the New York subways to go back even further.  But something is different now.  It seems like every day there is a lie that floats out, often from sources that are suspect at best or down right nonsensical and they are uncritically reported and promoted by others and picked up by news sources.  Today is not any different.  But in the past

Donald Trump has tweeted that there are millions of illegal votes for Sec. Clinton in the election and that is why she won the popular vote by 2 million votes.  The winner of the election for the Presidency of the United States, the most important and powerful job in the world, is saying the election was fraudulent even though he won. His source?  A website that questions things like whether we went to the moon in the 60s and 70s and calls all major attacks in recent year false flags. That is right, Trump is quoting a website that suggests that 9-11 was an inside job done by the government, that the Sandy Hook massacre was fiction.  Think about that, the President of the United States is finding his information from a site that makes up crazy conspiracy theories, while, oh by the way, he is not getting his daily intelligence briefing.

This is a serious issue but what we don't get a real investigative approach from the so-called journalists.  In fact what we get is discussions of Trump's tweets including a story and who actually types them and of course more recently the internal transition problems. Instead of questioning some of Trump's connections to the conspiracy nuts and the white nationalist movement, people are obsessing of Kelly Anne Conway's tweets about Mitt Romney being considered for Secretary of State.  We will now spend the day talking about Trump being angry at her for going rogue and just ignore the serious issues of a President-elect questioning reality and simply not learning the job he will take over in a month and a half.  In fact we are hearing that he doesn't understand how national security works, at all.  He honestly believes that what he hears on these websites are how things work.  Oh and by the way, he is turning his back on all his campaign rhetoric and basically turning the White House into a a money making effort for him and his family.  But Kelly Anne is speaking out of school so we have to talk about her.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Why Anti-Trump Protests Have to Stop

Last night in Indianapolis, dozens of people became violent in response to the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States.  This started with a rally against the bigotry and hate that were hallmarks of his campaign and whose fruit we are starting to see around the country a jubilant Trump supporters have been emboldened to harass individuals, tag buildings and cars, and in some reports attack individuals.  The the rally in Indianapolis, like many other places, quickly turned violent as some, who may always been looking for a place to vent, went on a rampage.  This is not how democracy works, this is not voicing your opinion.  If you threw a rock at police you are no better than a person who spray paints Fag on a car with a IYG license plate or pulls the hijab off a Muslim woman.  You aren't making a political statement, you are committing a crime.

Civil disobedience in important.   I have been there.  In the anti-apartheid era I sat in a meeting were we were supposed to discuss educating the college administration about the horrors of South Africa's policies when someone suggested we start a fire in the administration building.  Even as a young angry liberal I thought that was insane.  And I believe that today.  Destroying property, hurting people with violence, threats or insults, or simply disrupting society in a way that puts lives in danger is not protesting.  And it will only weaken our arguments, and this is what is happening.  Vox Populi, Vox Dei the voice of the people is the voice of God, is very true and so is Est Impetus Diaboli Opus, rage is the devil's work.

As the GOP now controls both the House and Senate and the White House, the voice of the people must be heard loud and clear to hold our representatives to task.  They can't be heard over the shots of gun fire and breaking glass.  Real people are in danger today because of the vitriol unleashed in the wake of a campaign that got into a gutter, rooted around, and found a doorway to go deeper.  But there is no reason for anyone from the center left to the far far left to follow into that realm.  Oh we should defend ourselves but we should also stand up for what is right.

On Tuesday night the Democrats lost the White House and we can speak about why.  But the left in this country were actually winners.  Restrictions on medical and recreational marijuana have been lifted, increases in minimum wage pasted, there is the most diverse class of Democratic women entering the Senate and places in local elections tax increases were passed. The Democrats gain seats in both the House and the Senate and while some people are saying blue states are turning red, there is no real evidence of that.  In fact red states are showing signs of purpling (yes I made up a word) if you look at exit polling.   Oh and  it appears nearly 2 million more people voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump.  While for us that seems like the Rice-A-Roni consolation prize, it also was noticed by the GOP who sees that their hold on power in not a mandate and really only my a thread. If we act violently we will throw them a rope, a ladder and maybe even fix dinner for them.

We must stand strong and protest hate, bigotry and violence, if it comes from elected officials, government agencies or individual citizens.  But we must not become the violent bigots we profess to not want to have in our country.

Donald Trump is the President-elect.  He is our President.  We want him to be successful for the country.  But we also want him to stand up with the values that make this country great.  We cannot do that if we don't live by them either.  We should stop hosting rallies against the results of the election (even if we cloak them in rallies to stand against bigotry) and start being active.  They only create the incubator for the hate and violence we are beginning to see now. We must not be dismissed as our positions are shared by a majority of Americans.  The election is a snapshot, as is every election.   Many people chose not to vote in this election, many people chose to protest vote in this election.  You know who didn't, people who heard reasoned arguments in true support of a candidate.  Make 2018 our target to support, promote and elect people in House districts that share our values.  Make public statements against policies and actions we find violate the values of our country and human decency.  Argue with Trump supporters not from a position that they are dumb, racist or just hate filled but listen to what they feel and why a man like that could inspire them.  Even when the story you are told seems outside reality.  Reality is often a product of point of view.

If the voice of my side becomes the shouting, screaming, rock throwing, ignorant hate filled nastiness that I am seeing on TV then you have left me.  But I stand with my view of America where we all have the right to live our lives, be who we are and think as we do.  As long as we don't hurt someone else.  My responsibility to that is the hold election officials accountable for those values.  I know throwing a rock is easier, but if you are too lazy to fight for what is right, your arm will get tired soon enough.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

President-elect Trump

Okay Donald Trump was elected and people are angry, sad, scared. And that is normal. He ran a campaign of hate. Not that all who supported him did so from hate. Some in his party came to him for fear of a Clinton administration, but he did either by accident or intent, open a box that let out people who wish to do harm to others because they think, look, believe or love differently. Many supporters were with him because they too have been angry. Angry of a world changing that they can't find a place in. There was as much of diversity of Trump supporters as Clinton supporters.

But there is hope. More people nationwide chose Hillary to be President. Kamala Harris, Catherine Cortez Masto and Rep. Tammy Duckworth will all be in the Senate bringing a diversity of voice to that body. Some people woke up yesterday to be more than keyboard warriors and actually come to action, the election was a shofar blast like no other. I have heard young people realizing that they need to be more involved, informed and engaged.

But here is the thing. With a GOP controlled House, Senate, and the White House there is one voice that can't be silenced is ours. We can make a difference. We must respect the office of the Presidency, Donald Trump is our President. But he still works for us. We can still hold him accountable.

The other thing we must do is stand ready to support those that might be under attack. Running away to Canada is a choice for a privileged few. So while here stand ready for opposing any laws that limit the rights of our fellow citizens. Talk to your representatives and your neighbors and those you don't know. Combat lies and hate where ever you see it. I believe in my heart that many in the GOP who I might disagree on policy believe as I do when it comes to fellow citizens. Speak to their greater angels.

Please let me make another of the Harry Potter references. When Voldemort took over Hogwarts, it was Neville, squeaky, geeky, botany-lover Neville, who stood up and took over the resistance. Be a Neville. Hear the shofar, stand for our neighbors and pray that he may have campaigned in poetry (bad and hate speech filled poetry) he will govern in prose.

I Don't Wear My Kippah at WalMart

Several years ago I was sitting in a cafe with someone who suggested I take off my kippah.  The neighborhood we were in was a predominantly...