No, I’m not all that thankful, not really

If you haven’t read the outstanding rant by Charles M. Blow, please click over there as soon as possible and read it.  There are many things for which I am thankful this season, and the editorial opinions of Mr. Blow are among them.  However, there are several things for which I am definitely  NOT thankful.

I am not the least bit thankful that the Executive Office is going to be host to rubbish like Steve Bannon and his ilk.  There is no “normalizing” Nazis.  There is no way to white-wash over the anti-Semitic, racist, and corporatist ideology which moves him.  These people aren’t conservative, and definitely aren’t Conservative. Nothing about them reminds any sentient being of William Buckley or even Lewis Powell.  They aren’t populist or even Populist. They aren’t anything like Mary Elizabeth Lease or William Jennings Bryan.  To label them “populist” is a measure of the lack of historic knowledge imparted to or retained by our journalists and political writers.  Honest Conservatives were worried Bannon would bring this collection of misfits and simpletons into the White House.  They were correct. No sooner did the Trumpster move toward the Oval Office than the neo-Nazi were in full Heil Trump form.

I am not thankful for any suggestion that there’s even a remote way of legitimizing “registries” for members of minority groups.  When Trumpster spokesperson Carl Higbie suggested that the internment of Japanese Americans set a “precedent” for the registry of Muslim Americans, alarm bells should have gone off all over the country.  This country, in one of its worst moments, rounded up approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans along the west coast and herded them into internment camps. They sold their homes, their businesses, their farms, mostly at a fraction of their value.  And, now we have Chris Kobach inches from the Trumpster’s ear calling for a repetition of the failed NSEERS program to register Muslims in America.

“The program was considered a failure, both within the Bush administration and by outside experts. By the time the Bush administration ended the domestic registration portion of the program in December 2003, it had registered nearly 100,000 men and led to the deportation of nearly 14,000 ― many of them for overstaying visas or ignoring previous deportation orders. It did not lead to a single terrorism charge against any individuals.” [HuffPo]

That’s correct: 100,000 registrations; 14,000 deportations, and not a single terrorism charge against any individual.

I am not thankful that anyone near the White House should spout such nonsense as “I don’t know any woman who can’t afford birth control.”Just Google it.”  If that weren’t enough, there’s Wayne Allen Root, Trump supporter extraordinaire, who thinks any woman who seeks public assistance, food assistance, or gets free or inexpensive contraceptives should be struck from the voter rolls. [RWW]  This level of misogyny and sexism is long out of date, and way beyond the pale.  I am thoroughly tired of the blatantly mischaracterized attacks on Planned Parenthood.  They are manufactured out of heavily edited, purposefully misleading, and dubiously sourced material – whole cloth as it were.  I am not the least bit thankful for that.

No, I’ll continue to call neo-Nazi’s Neo Nazis.  I’ll call sexists Sexists. I’ll call racists Racists.  Remember when the Right was so sensitive to politically correct speech?  Let’s be politically accurate – a Nazi is a Nazi; a Sexist is a Sexist, and an Anti-Semite is an Anti-Semite.

No matter how much “nuance” the editors and publishers may want to cover over those matters with some tasteless seasonal canned gravy.

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Happy Thanksgiving

 

Turkey Gobble

At least we’re not the turkeys!

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Lewis Carroll 1876 and 2016 American Media

Hunting Snark Quote

The fake news issue is very serious, and should be addressed in a serious way.   No, the Pope did NOT endorse the Republican candidate for the Presidency. No, the Clinton Foundation doesn’t rake off 80% of the donations… No, No, and No.  Information is power, and power needs to be exercised with judgment.

Normally we think that organizations with a lot of power have an obligation to use that power responsibly. But the leaders of the largest technology companies have resisted thinking of themselves in those terms. They like to think of their sites as neutral platforms that help users share information with each other — without the company making value judgments of its own.

But this isn’t how power works. When an authority figure turns a blind eye to a problem that’s happening under his watch, the problem doesn’t go away. It festers, often becoming an even bigger problem over time. [Vox]

Perhaps the most chilling argument is that we can’t restrain fake news because it will have a devastating impact on conservative communications.  Nor are more traditional media outlets immune from fake or distorted “news.” Hypothetically:

Mr. X Tweets, “New proof emerges of deliberate attempt to have all guns registered in the U.S.”  The message is retweeted .  No one questions the source of the information, no one checks to see if the links are valid. No one checks – anything.  The retweets continue until some news organization picks up the “story” because “people are interested in it.”  Now, the headline becomes: “Is there a movement to register all guns in America?”  Followed by some generalized arguments from proponents and opponents of the idea. Followed by more “interest” in the “story,” which no one has checked in the first place.

This isn’t journalism.  It’s the old Telephone Game we played as children, seeing how garbled the message became after passing through several repetitions.   It’s dangerous because:

1. It plays into the hands of those who would diminish the credibility of reporting.  Several right wing radio personalities have used this platform: You’ll only get the Truth from Me.  A statement which isn’t true and never has been.

2. It ultimately destroys the legitimacy of reporting.  How is the average consumer supposed to know that the “Denver Guardian” isn’t a real newspaper?  How is the average news consumer supposed to know that what appears to be an online news organization is simply a fictional page of fantasy and filibuster for a right wing neo-Nazi organization?

There are enough problems with media today (chasing shiny objects while ignoring major issues) without adding pure fiction to the mix.  Someone, somewhere needs to be the Adult In The Room.

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Communicating With Congress: Some Advice

newspapers 1 T’is the season to contact members of Congress – on a variety of issues.  The following links provide information and insights into how the communication would be most effective:

The Best Methods to Reach Your Congressman From an Insider Point of View  Votility 2013

How to Most Effectively Contact Your Representative Daily Kos (2007)

Here’s a summation of another source:

  1. The Internet, Participation and Accountability. Most staffers (87%) thought email and the Internet have made it easier for constituents to become involved in public policy. A majority of staff (57%) felt email and the Internet have made Senators and Representatives more accountable to their constituents. Less than half (41%) thought email and the Internet have increased citizens’ understanding of what goes on in Washington.
  2. Citizens Have More Power Than They Realize. Most of the staff surveyed said constituent visits to the Washington office (97%) and to the district/state office (94%) have ‘some’ or ‘a lot’ of influence on an undecided Member, more than any other influence group or strategy. When asked about strategies directed to their offices back home, staffers said questions at town hall meetings (87%) and letters to the editor (80%) have ‘some’ or ‘a lot’ of influence.
  3. It’s Not the Delivery Method – It’s the Content. There is virtually no distinction by the congressional staff we surveyed between email and postal mail. They view them as equally influential to an undecided Member. Nearly identical percentages of staffers said postal mail (90%) and email (88%) would influence an undecided Member of Congress.
  4. Grassroots Advocacy Campaigns – Staff are Conflicted. The congressional staff we surveyed have conflicting views and attitudes about the value of grassroots advocacy campaigns. More than one-third of congressional staff (35%) agreed that advocacy campaigns are good for democracy (25% disagreed). Most staff (90%) agreed – and more than 60% strongly agreed – that responding to constituent communications is a high priority in their offices. But, more than half of the staffers surveyed (53%) agreed that most advocacy campaigns of identical form messages are sent without constituents’ knowledge or approval.
  5. Social Media Used to Listen and Communicate. Congressional offices are integrating social media tools into their operations, both to gain an understanding of constituents’ opinions and to communicate information about the Member’s views. Nearly two-thirds of staff surveyed (64%) think Facebook is an important way to understand constituents’ views and nearly three-quarters (74%) think it is important for communicating their Member’s views.  [CMC]

As this is written by an “insider” there’s most likely some measure of truth herein.  However, note that not all offices are equal – some place more emphasis on phone calls, others on Twitter, others on in person visits.  Thus the final advice may be – use whatever you can whenever you can.

Be respectful, be concise, and be honest.  Be your own best advocate.

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Chills Down the Spine Time

Pro America Anti Trump If this isn’t chilling I don’t know what could be.

“Neo-Nazi Website Daily Stormer: Sessions Is “An Aggressive Anti-Black Racist,” “We’re Going To Get Absolutely Everything We Wanted.” The Daily Stormer is a neo-Nazi website that worships Adolf Hitler and Trump. It helps lead online attacks against Jewish journalists, whom it routinely refer to as “kikes.” The site has frequently praised Sessions, calling him “a hero,” “our second favorite Trump guy (second to Bannon),” and “basically the only guy in the Senate who is an immigration purist.”

Site editor Andrew Anglin reacted to the Sessions news in a post headlined “It’s Like Christmas: Sessions for AG, Gen Flynn as National Security Advisor.” He praised Sessions for being “an aggressive anti-Black racist” and wrote, “Honestly, I didn’t even expect this to all come together so beautifully. It’s like we’re going to get absolutely everything we wanted””

[MMFA]

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Sorry Nevada, No Trump Mall Walk For You?

Trump Soap Dish Mall Scene President-elect Mango Mess is taking a page out of the 1991 comedy “Soap Dish” in the form of a ‘victory tour’ – but only of the states he won.  So, no Mall Walk in the Silver State.   (If you haven’t seen, or don’t remember “Soap Dish,” try it. Okay, it doesn’t have all that many stars in the IMDB reviews – but I liked it, and if you’re in need of a bit of comedic relief right now, it’s a good movie for popcorn and relaxing.)

While the BLOTUS is taking his adulation tour and victory lap it might be well for him to remember (a) he lost the popular vote, and (b) there has never been a president of the United States of America who met with unadulterated adulation in the history of this benighted nation.  So, when the anti-Mango Mess signage comes out …

Recall, that calls for “give him a chance” lasted only a matter of days until he’d appointed a downright White Supremacist misogynist as his right hand man in the Oval Office.  That didn’t take long at all. Then he appointed a fringe lunatic conspiracy theorist anti-Muslim gadfly to his entourage. 

Recall, that he’s nominating Senator Jefferson (Davis) (General P.G.T.) Beauregard Session (R-AL) to be Attorney General – this nomination for a man who was declared  too racist to be a federal judge.

Recall, that no one has forgotten the whole Email Barrage leveled at Secretary Clinton while the Vice President Elect is fighting in court to keep his emails away from public scrutiny. Oh, the Irony!  And, by the way – What IS in those BLOTUS income tax returns that we aren’t supposed to see?

On the brighter side of the mall – I don’t expect the left side of the political spectrum to line up in lock step  opposition to the BLOTUS, but what I do expect is that opposition to the BLOTUS Agenda will be widespread and genuinely hostile.  For example, getting Democrats lined out is a bit like the old saw about transporting frogs in a wheelbarrow, but in this instance that may be a good thing.   Those whose special concern is environmental, plus those whose vital concerns are for civil and human rights, and those who are particularly sensitive to women’s issues, combined with those who see economic and consumer issues as primal, are all in opposition and the attacks will come on a variety of fronts simultaneously.  It should be interesting to see how BLOTUS responds.  More trips to the Mall?

As BLOTUS traipses through the Malls awaiting his recognition, it would be nice to see (1) reports that various and sundry organizations are planning “issue ad” campaigns.  Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife? Nature Conservancy? NAACP? Urban League? Planned Parenthood Action? Etc.  (2) reports that donors are making these issue ad campaigns possible.  (3) New organizations and coalitions are making informative commercials and message ads visible on TV screens nationwide.   A few “call your Congressman/woman” to “demand protection from predatory lenders,” would be welcome, as would advisories about protecting Americans from voter suppression strategies. 

Too bad it all comes down to money at some point, but we do need people to step up to support efforts by the AFL-CIO, Labor Organizations, Environmental organizations, Civil Rights organizations, consumer organizations, and women’s issue organizations, immigration organization (etc!) so that the dangers presented by a BLOTUS Administration can be publicized.  Might it be nice if for every young person who marches in opposition to BLOTUS, sign in hand, there were two older Americans, passed the marching stage, who can write a check or make a recurring donation to a progressive association or organization?

Think about it.  There’s no reason for every walk in the mall to be a walk in the park.

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Resist: The Ugly Face of Trump’s America

Modified Niemoller

Please pardon the replication of Reverend Niemoller’s famous short poem, but at this point there is a need to face down the ugly and demeaning actions of the Trump supporters and their Dear Leader.  

Resist: I’ve already called for support for progressive and liberal organizations that provide the research, and I’ll do it repeatedly.  We need an informational infrastructure to help fuel the resistance to Trumpism.  If your budget can stand it, pick at least one, or possibly two organizations of your choice and make a donation towards their efforts.  We cannot depend on the corporate media to make issues known, and to provide the data necessary to inform the public.  I’ve called it #2-4-2018, a way to call attention to the importance of the mid-term elections.  We can’t blame these organization for not publicizing and promoting our issues if we haven’t given them the funds to do so.

Resist: Support media outlets that promote tolerance, liberty, and equality.  There are a multitude out there, some examples are the Talking Points Memo, Crooks and Liars, Politicususa, and Think Progress, as aggregators these are outstanding, and you probably know of more.  There are research based publications like Pro Publica, which is also deserving of our attention and support.  There’s also the CBPP, and the EPI, also deserving of support. And, no list would be complete without the Center for American Progress.  Make your own list of your favorites and share it with family and friends if you have not already done so.

Resist: Call your Congressional Representatives and public officials.  Let them know quickly and surely that American do NOT support criminalizing public protests, such as the legislation proposed in Iowa and Washington state. [Root]  It’s never too soon to hold the media accountable – no, Steve Bannon is not “alt-right,” that’s just a euphemism for White Supremacist.  No amount of cleansing will ever make his bigoted views “normal.” He’s not the “new normal,” he’s just the old abnormal.

Resist: There’s no need to call for boycotts, simply vote with your eyes and wallet.  Unimpressed with the news coverage by major corporate media outlets?  Why watch? Lord knows, they are sensitive to their ratings. Why give them any.  Watching and being appalled at their ‘coverage?’ There are addresses for sending civil and polite expressions of our displeasure:

CBS Evening News.  524 West 57th St.
New York, NY 10019

ABC News 147 Columbus Ave.  New York, NY 10023

NBC News  30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10112

CNN, One CNN Center, Atlanta, GA, 30303

MSNBC, One MSNBC Plaza Secaucus, NJ 07094

Resist: Get involved at your local level. Find your local organizations and local political committees, and to the extent that you can get involved in their activities.  Get up, get out, and get involved.

Thank you.

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