Alternate Reality

Standard

MadHatterSignpostDHThe other day I overheard Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson getting indignant over a New York Times story revealing that U.S. intelligence officers had paid $100,000 to a Russian operative for dirt on Donald Trump. Curious, I pulled up the actual Times article and read that the intelligence community paid the money to retrieve stolen NSA cyber weapons, not intel on Trump. The article specifically stated, in fact, that the officers did not want any “dirt” on Trump during a presidential election. This is the alternative reality that Trump apologists like Carlson have created – aided and abetted by a behemoth of an organization called Fox News.

The whole so-called political scandal inside the FBI is a creation of the right wing establishment and Fox News, who have been desperate to deflect attention from the very serious Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Instead of welcoming the truth, conservatives want to taint any findings that might come out of that investigation by claiming that the investigators themselves are all politically motivated.

The problem is that millions of Americans get their news from Fox, including the president himself. This leaves us in an Orwellian world where truth is a function of what one believes, not of what can be factually demonstrated. We should have been more frightened back in 2016 when Kellyanne Conway blathered about “alternative facts.” So between a steady diet of Fox News and an algorithm on Facebook that presents them with only pro-Trump, anti-Hillary/Obama/Democrats information, Trump supporters can live in their own alternate reality.

I’m not claiming that the editors of other news organizations are always free from bias. But I have never seen the deliberate omission and/or twisting of facts to fit the right wing, pro-Republican narrative as I have witnessed on Fox News. Even when something negative happens, such as the drastic drop in the stock market last week, Fox News calls it a “correction,” whereas in the Obama era, it would have been considered a sign of the president’s unfitness.

And when I hear people I know murmuring about “the Deep State” or referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man,” I realize the extent to which Trump and his own special news network have infected the American consciousness. Conservatives mocked Hillary Clinton back in the day when she referred to a vast right-wing conspiracy against her and her husband. But after a brutal presidential election that featured relentless attacks against Hillary and investigations prompted by conservative groups like Judicial Watch, I have to say I find her theory much more plausible.

Liberals and conservatives will never see eye to eye on all the issues. That’s what makes the political system interesting and vital. But if we can’t even agree on what constitutes reality, we are in danger of becoming a society in which the loudest and most well-financed voices are the only ones we hear.

 

 

Advertisements

I’m Disappointed

Standard

images-1

I’m disappointed that Hillary Clinton recently came out of virtual seclusion to hawk her book rather than to lead the resistance against the Trump Administration.

I’m disappointed that President Trump treated an appearance at the site of massive flooding in Texas as another campaign rally: “Look at the crowd; look at the turnout.”

I’m disappointed that petty Americans are spending their time criticizing Melania’s choice of footwear.

I’m disappointed that Berkley antifascist groups used violence to counter a white supremacist march.

I’m disappointed that deniers refuse to concede that climate change might possibly have something to do with the heaviest amount of rainfall ever to fall on the 48 contiguous states.

I’m disappointed that even a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey can’t seem to bring our country together.

Life is just full of disappointments. And yet . . .

Online and on TV, I am seeing first responders and volunteers helping residents of Texas escape the floodwaters. Everywhere from furniture stores to churches are opening their doors to shelter the displaced. In my home town, residents are making plans to collect needed supplies and drive them down to the Houston area. Donations are pouring into relief agencies.

The innate goodness in people seems to be taking over. I am going to choose to ignore the hate and snark and acrimony that is ever present on the internet these days, find out how best to help others, and go do something.

 

Snowflake, Meet Deplorable

Standard

Unknown-2Unknown-1

During the presidential campaign, I winced when I heard Hillary Clinton refer to Trump supporters as “deplorables.” First of all, name-calling is a mean-spirited and ineffective way of getting one’s point across. Secondly, I knew Trump supporters would have a field day with the comment, using it to point out how elitist and out of touch Clinton and her liberal base are with Middle America.

Conservatives have done their best to portray liberals as rich, intellectual elites who live on the two coasts and ignore the needs and wants of Americans in the “fly over zone.” Much was made of Hillary’s being part of the establishment in Washington, despite the fact that Trump was being propped up by career politicians in the Republican Party and is himself an “out of touch” billionaire.

The fact is that when it comes to belittling and mockery, the political Right is just as culpable as the Left. Lately it has become fashionable to sneer at college students as “snowflakes” who melt at the least little challenge to their multicultural, pie in the sky, kumbaya sensibilities. Over the past two decades, in fact, conservatives have taken an anti-intellectual posture, as if being smart and educated are bad things. What conservatives are really miffed about is that most colleges and universities have become bastions of liberalism where right wing ideas are marginalized. So their method of fighting back is mockery.

Since Bill O’Reilly was forced to resign from Fox News, the new champion of liberal-bashing has become Tucker Carlson. Tucker is a blue-blooded, boarding school, East Coast WASP, but you’d never know it the way he makes time to ridicule rich people. A regular on his show is Mike Rowe, a self-proclaimed man of the people whose job as host of a reality show called Dirty Jobs apparently makes him akin to all working class Joes. Rowe comes on regularly to belittle rich folk who would buy such preposterous items as pre-dirtied jeans or torn up sneakers for hundreds of dollars. I happen to agree that this practice seems crazy. But the subtext is what I object to. Here is a man worth millions of dollars pretending to be folksy and down to earth. Sound familiar? And who is his biggest fan? The baby-faced Carlson, who was born rich and undoubtedly has had servants taking care of his “dirty jobs.”

My point is this: We will never get anywhere in political discourse if we spend our time putting down people with opposing views. All Trump supporters are not racist. All Hillary supporters were not out-of-touch millionaires. We can criticize actions, statements, and policies without resorting to sarcasm and ridicule. With the exception of comedians, who are paid to be rude and sarcastic, Americans of all stripes need to put down their sharp weapons and try to meet in the middle. A little mutual respect would go a long way to heal divisions and truly make this country great again.

 

Backwards and in High Heels

Standard

unknown-1

Looking back, I should have realized Hillary Clinton would not be elected president when so many Americans were convinced she should be in the big house, not the White House. With the media focused so relentlessly on Email-gate (or as I like to call it, Much Ado About Nothing), there was little coverage of Hillary’s ideas, experience, or accomplishments.

Despite the fact that during all three debates Clinton made Trump look like an unstable idiot, she could not get past people’s expectations for how a high profile woman should conduct herself. She  was called loud and shrill, mocked for her fashion style, and vilified for the indiscretions of her husband. Trump, whose attacks on a variety of women would make a sailor blush, called her a “nasty woman.”

Hillary Clinton has more political experience than most recent presidential candidates. And while the attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi was widely blamed on her by Republicans, her tenure as Secretary of State was marked by the location and killing of Osama bin Laden, an Iran nuclear agreement that vastly diminishes Iran’s ability to create a nuclear weapon, and significant movement toward addressing the world problem of climate change. Many experts agree that it was Clinton’s hard line with Iran that brought them to the negotiating table.

To be sure, Clinton’s many years in the public eye have made her an easy target. The sex scandals during Bill Clinton’s presidency somehow tarnished Hillary in a way no man would be harmed by a wife’s infidelity. Yet Hillary soldiered on. But somehow her continuing efforts to effect change through government were looked upon as a craven grasping for power instead of the desire to serve.

I am deeply concerned by a Trump presidency coupled with total domination of both Congressional houses by Republicans. But I am also disappointed that by 2016 the glass ceiling for the presidency still has not been shattered. That ceiling is beginning to seem as if it is made of plexiglass.

I continue to admire Hillary Clinton and hope she can personally enjoy her many achievements over the years. May she be proud of the fact that she proved herself capable of accomplishing what many a man might attempt, but doing it “backwards and in high heels.”

 

Trump Wins?

Standard

unknown

I started the day in a hopeful frame of mind. It was a beautiful fall day, and I felt good about Hillary’s chances. I scrolled through Facebook and smiled at all the women who had taken selfies showing off their pantsuits in a nod to Clinton’s signature style. Mostly, though, I couldn’t wait for the election to be over .

When the returns started rolling in, I was happy, but not surprised, to see my own state colored blue. I was hoping Hillary would win by a landslide and put to rest the aberrational nature of the Trump candidacy. But as the margins narrowed in the battleground states, I realized that Hillary would be lucky to squeak by the most outrageous and unqualified presidential candidate in my lifetime.

I went to bed around 11:30 Central Standard Time. My throat was scratchy, and I knew I was catching my daughter’s cold. The race remained too close to call, but the Trump camp was jubilant while Clinton supporters were subdued. I was both worried and discouraged.

At 4:16 a.m., I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. I got up and went online to check on the results. Sure enough, Trump had done the impossible: garnered enough electoral votes to become the 45th President of the United States. I tried to go back to sleep, but all I could do was toss and turn, reliving all the terrible things Trump had said and done and imagining doomsday scenarios that might play out with him as president. How, I wondered, could the American people vote for such a man?

I have witnessed many elections in my time and sometimes been deeply unhappy or even disgusted with the results. But I’ve never felt the feeling of utter dejection I felt the whole day after this election. I have such a sense of sadness for the people Trump and his followers have vilified: Muslims, Latinos, the disabled, women, war heroes. How must they feel knowing that a record number of Americans are okay with the man who called them terrorists, rapists and criminals, who mocked them or insulted their looks?

Later that evening, I watched one of my favorite TV comedies, hoping for a good laugh to dispel the blues. But the episode of Blackish was about a teenage daughter questioning her faith in God and rediscovering it in the crisis. Between the subject matter and my lack of sleep, I cried like a baby. I still feel strangely spent. I’ve had a few conversations with like-minded friends that have helped me at least vent over this devastating turn of events. But I am in a daze.

I have stayed away from Facebook and the news, not wanting to be faced with reality. But the reality is that a demagogue has become our president. Still, I take a little solace from that episode of Blackish. God is stronger than all of this. And at this moment, all I can really do is pray.

 

Witch Hunt Just in Time for Halloween

Standard

images-1

Again with emails!

In an outrageous political stunt, FBI Director James Comey announced that the bureau would be investigating emails related to the Anthony Weiner case for possible security breaches on the part of Hillary Clinton. Even though there is no reason to suspect that Weiner’s connection to Hillary, through his unfortunate wife and Clinton staffer Huma Abedin, involves national security issues, Director Comey felt the need to resume the investigation and announce his intentions little more than a week before the general election.

Although Comey claims that the FBI is an apolitical organization, he himself has been a lifelong Republican who has spent a substantial part of his career investigating the Clintons. (cnn.com, Oct. 30, 2016) Notwithstanding his earlier decision declining to prosecute Mrs. Clinton, Comey now claims he is duty-bound to look into yet more emails (albeit ones not from Clinton’s private server) that may incriminate the presidential hopeful. This sounds more like a witch hunt designed primarily to hurt Hillary’s chances of being elected.

The timing is certainly suspicious. After the last debate, as people began to see Donald Trump for the out of control “disaster” that he really is, Trump’s poll numbers took a drastic tumble. Then lo and behold, Director Comey found more emails to hold up as ones that may or may not be incriminating to Hillary. It reminds me quite a bit of Sen. Joe McCarthy’s infamous statement, “I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.” (“Enemies from Within,” historymatters.gmu.edu)

For those who doubt that Comey’s actions were politically motivated, just look at the reactions from the Trump camp. Trump crowed, “Maybe they’re going to right the ship,” in reference to Comey’s announcement. And Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted, “A great day in our campaign just got even better.”(cnbc.com, Oct. 28, 2016)

When the smoke coming out of Republicans’ ears clears, maybe good sense will prevail. Maybe the American electorate will actually look at the experience and temperament of the two presidential candidates and do the right thing on Nov. 8.

 

 

False Equivalency

Standard

unknown-1

Lately Clinton supporters have been accused of overusing the idea of “false equivalency” to describe what they say are the ludicrous comparisons between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Obviously, tossing back criticism of oneself by saying the other guy is worse is a time-honored tradition in political campaigns and on playgrounds.

However, there is one case of false equivalency that Donald Trump has been using that makes my blood boil. When an audio tape was leaked last week of Donald Trump lewdly describing his casual sexual assault of women to Billy Bush, even the many Republican apologists for Trump were appalled. So what did Trump do? Apologize and show remorse for such a callous disregard for half the U.S. population?

No. The Donald went on the offensive by bringing up Bill Clinton’s sexual peccadillos and the rape accusation that was leveled at him back in the 1970s. Even assuming the accusation (for which Clinton has not been prosecuted) were true, how is it relevant to Hillary Clinton’s campaign?

The conservative argument has long been that Hillary went out of her way to discredit and vilify these women. I would like to know just how Donald Trump would handle it if his wife’s infidelities were broadcast 24/7 and became part of a federal investigation. I doubt he would offer sympathy or succor to the men who had slept with his wife.

To trot out Bill Clinton’s infidelities as a cudgel against Hillary is the height of hypocrisy. Donald Trump himself cheated on his wife Ivanka before dumping her and marrying Marla Maples. And doing so highlights what Trump does best: deflect from his own massive deficiencies by distracting the public with decades-old stories about the Clintons.

The facts are not in dispute. Donald Trump has said numerous demeaning, sexist, and insulting things against women, not just in the past, but during this campaign. Now we catch him on tape admitting to sexually touching women against their will. Trump will never say “I’m sorry.” But we may be sorry if we elect this poor excuse for a man president.