Monday, August 29, 2016

Some People Just Won't Grow Up

I'm kind of surprised that Anthony Weiner once again showed phenomenal disrespect to his family by playing around online in a sexual manner, but I wouldn't say that I'm shocked. He doesn't seem to appreciate why his behavior is unacceptable and hurtful to his spouse, and while it certainly isn't my business, I do think the separation is probably for the best; it isn't Huma Abedin's problem that he's a creep--it's his problem that he's a creep.

That said, it certainly isn't a Clinton campaign issue, as such. Although Clinton is responsible for her staff in some respects, she can hardly be responsible for her staff's spouses. I don't know what the heck Donald Trump is talking about by implying that somehow, Weiner had some kind of clearance via his wife's job, but it seems to me that Weiner is sending crotch-shots and lewd sexts, not selling secrets to the Russians. It's just nonsensical.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Trump Gets The Best People--Believe Me!

Now that Donald Trump is on his third campaign manager, and some extraordinarily choice allegations have come out regarding his campaign CEO Steve Bannon (is campaign CEO even a thing?) isn't it time we looked into Trump's claim he will get the very best people to do...I dunno, politics stuff...for his presidency, if that was the sort of thing we were going to do?

It's doubtful whether the best people is what he's actually looking for.  I mean, it's seriously questionable.  Let's face it--who decides to have Michele Bachmann consult for foreign policy and KS Gov. Sam Brownback consult for economics?  Who decides that you have a Christie associate who was madly disavowed by the NJ Gov. post-Bridgegate, Bill Stepien, appointed to anything, as if that wasn't going to become the story?

All of these choices are kind of questionable. Does Trump get the best people, or, as with Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon, does he just accept a package deal from one of his main contributors?

Does he know what he is even doing here, or is he so dopey he just does whatever the people he stupidly trusts tells him to do?

What I'm getting at is, does it look like Trump even runs his campaign based on who all is in it? Does it look like he's even involved? Like when he reads from a Teleprompter and he confronts the words like they are fresh and brand new to him?  Do you want someone who does not know how to pick the best people--and picks the most nonsense folks to exist ever as his advisors? Because that is apparently the status of Team Trump right now--nonsense people.

In Defense of Robert Byrd and the Concept of Redemption

One of the dumbest things about discussions of race in the current era is trying to work out to people who actually ought to know better that shit changes. History is a study of accumulated shit changing. What used to be true stops being true. The United States of America was once a nation where slaves were owned--then it wasn't. The territories that made up the United States were colonies of other countries, then they weren't. Things change. That is what history is made up of--changes.  This king was supplanted by that. This election brought about that administration. This war was won by, which meant that...

History means change happened, and we look at what changed and why to understand how human societies work because, I like to think, we want societies to really work well. We want to be a part of a really well-functioning civilization and to continue to advance--which means understanding that people can look at what doesn't work really well and can use that information: "This does not work"--to change. The long-time Democratic Senator Robert Byrd realized that racism did not work, and he stopped being in the KKK in the 1950's. This was a long time ago. That was even before the Civil Rights Act of 1964--which he filibustered and you guessed it, he didn't support the VRA at first either. But he eventually got there. Like politicians sometimes do.

The reason I point this out is that stupidity like Hillary Clinton kissed Robert Byrd is supposed to mean that she is also touched by bigotry. You really wouldn't have had to go further than questioning her early support for Barry Goldwater (probably because her father did) to make the case that she has old timey racialist associations. But things change. Hillary Clinton has a lot of positive history with respects to making change happen.

Donald Trump is not that guy. He has never done any positive thing ever with respect to civil rights. There is a reasonable argument as to whether he even sees people as people and not exploitable resources.  Sometimes, one can look at definitional moments in a person's history and understood that their personal arc has changed. This has not happened with Trump, and any apparent "pivot" would have to be cosmetic and need-based for the sake of his political campaign.

I have long wondered why cons use "Robert Byrd was in the KKK" to try and prove anything. His example seems more like a thing that disproves everything. People change, history changes, the Democratic party changed, and racism is stupid.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Some FOX Mushroom Farm Cult News

I'm not saying that I would necessarily root for the death of any media outlet in the wake of what happened to Gawker. See, if the point of journalism is, to my mind , in part to "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" as the great film Inherit the Wind put it, then no outlet should die out because they afflicted the comfortable. Because that was all they did. Peter "we didn't know but we did" Theil got pissed enough to use Hulk "who cucked Bubba the Love Sponge" Hogan as a unit to fuck Gawker into oblivion. (Way to be a unit, brother!) But if the death of any outlet seemed kind of fit, well, FOX Mushroom Farm would be the one I'd pick for a little Darwination.

This has been my position for a long time. But it is bolstered by the recent lawsuit of former FOX News personality Andrea Tantaros describing the atmosphere of her former workplace as a "sex-fueled, Playboy-mansion-like cult."  This grabbed me, because I described it as being cult-like after the Gretchen Carlson revelations. And not without reason, they were lead by a paranoid who saw trouble in the shadows and viewed political opponents as an enemy.

And yet this asshole made Trump a thing, possibly. Trump should have never been a thing. Roger Ailes has a lot to atone for. I'd settle for him living to see his Faux-News paradigm shatter to never, ever, recover again. 

Maine's Governor Seems So Damn Delightful

So, just to deviate for a minute from 2016 electoral news, Maine Governor Paul LePage dropped a nasty message on a state congressman's voicemail that has been making the rounds:

“Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage,” the governor’s phone message said. “I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you (expletive). I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist (expletive). You … I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.”

The word in the above quote depicted as (expletive) is "cocksucker". As invective goes, that's kind of 50-50. I wouldn't bat an eyelash myself if I was called one--Lenny Bruce had a joke that went something like there's a four-letter word that's a ten letter word, and you wouldn't marry a girl who wasn't one. But it's directed against a gent, so I suppose that could be construed as a little homophobic while we're here.  But saying weird stuff is kind of Paul LePage's MO.  His mouth is unfiltered--you know, like sewerage before it hits the treatment plant.

His reply to being referred to as making racist comments is pretty hot--but it comes with a challenge--"I want you to prove I'm racist." Huh. Well, we can't read minds or see into the mysteries of the human heart, but I would say his comments on drug dealers that impregnate white girls is pretty damn racist. His echoing the support of Donald Trump's refugee ban idea is also in the racist ballpark. "Foreigners are diseased" is some pretty racist bullshit. His willingness to tell the NAACP to kiss his butt and President Obama to go to hell are also all kinds of undiplomatic and concerning.

Now, you can't know what is in someone's heart, but just judging by what comes out of LePage's mouth, he has some pretty defined biases. Which does make one wonder, as Martin Longman does--exactly what use would he be put to in a Trump Administration? (Something to do with Civil Rights in the Justice Department, most likely, and let's snatch up KS AG Kris Kobach for something there, too, I would think.)

Really, I think a duel of the minds might be in order to settle the matter of LePage's honor. But I wonder if LePage might need to seek a second to find a weapon at all. And drink a fifth or more to determine whether any honor was harmed in the making of such comments at all.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Speech Where Clinton Did It All

This speech in Reno was a defining speech for Hillary Clinton, as a reaffirmation of her values, and defining for Donald Trump, in that she took the campaign he had been running so far and looped it around his neck like the stinking, rotting albatross it should be. The transcript reads just as well as her measured and presidential demeanor in the giving of the speech. And Donald Trump can cry at this late date, that she is manipulating the optics and using the tired tactic of labelling someone as racist--but really, is that the problem? Or is it the verbatim quotes of how Mexicans were supposedly racists and criminals, and the comments about black people that were right out of a Ron Paul newsletter, and an immigration policy that, despite whatever changes he has been polling his shrinking crowds about, would have to be absurdly cruel and desperately un-Constitutional. She defined him by wrapping him up in his words and deeds and spelling out the narrative and context of his associations with the former head of, and conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones. She highlighted their fringe nonsense. And she connected homebrewed fringe nonsense, to the international problems of fringe nonsense people getting power.

It was damn effective, IMHO, because she used a kind of political akido to use his strength against him. I thought it was all rather well done on her part, and being followed by revelations that alt-right CEO new-hire Bannon was accused of wife-beating just hammers home how rotten Team Trump is.

What does Trump do? Madly try to disassociate from current connections and disavow all previous racialist statements? Or tell the establishment to screw off and cling tighter to the fringe than he ever clung to the cushion.

Both are likely vote-losers. There is no needle to thread, here. Clinton put the evil eye on, and it isn't ever coming off.

And he can yell that she's a bigot now, if he wants, and if he knows what that word means. But the "I'm rubber you're glue" shit doesn't play in this schoolyard. Nah, son. We saw you hugging the website that lynched ACORN for registering black people and tried to ruin Shirley Sherrod. WE know what birther Donald Trump was doing several summers ago.

She read his ass for dirt and dirt it will stay. Amen.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Clinton Way

There are lots of ways to follow up on a story--you can just wholeheartedly print what your sources turn over to you, which can be a bit one-sided depending upon your sources. You can sift through all the data until you have a steaming mess of nearly unintelligible, but fair and balanced "both sides" journalism. Or you could actually follow up on a story, data point by data point, until a bigger picture emerges, thereby doing the journalism thing in a somewhat more pure form. In other words, it's not enough to describe what something "looks like" or "could be construed to be"--the trick is to arrive at what actually "is".

For which, it helps to understand what "is" means. Is a donation to a charity that does not pay a salary to Madame Clinton the same thing as donating either to her or her campaign? Nope. Do the aims of the Clinton Foundation and the goals of certain arms of the State Department have overlap? Insofar as making a positive difference in the lives of people--yes. It might help to understand what the Clinton Foundation does.  The organization is transparent about their donors.  It does valuable, even life-saving work, with a very high proportion of donations going directly to fund the work. It is not remotely a slush fund, nor is there really any evidence whatsoever that merely donating to the Foundation ever influenced Clinton's conduct in the duties of her office.

Which is why the claims of a AP article regarding donors to the Foundation reaching out for meetings with Clinton is a kind of weak link to make a "pay to play" assertion". It would be reasonable to ask--out of how many people she met with overall, how many were donors? But it also makes sense to question, weren't some of them people she would have met with in the regular course of State business anyway, and whether they actually received anything in return from her--that she alone could have approved? Not following up on whether the appearance of impropriety actually equaled impropriety is very meaningful.  See, leaving people with the impression that there is something "there" when no "there" has been found is irresponsible. Sometimes, there is an ethical duty to say "We did not find an actual 'there' there."

The reason why this matters should be apparent--but let's say it isn't--we have an election before us  where one side delightedly trucks in conspiracy theories. There is a lot to be said for the aphorism that rumors spread while the truth is still putting on its shoes. Leaving open a narrative based in a biased view against an organization based on how "some people would view" the appearance of the data without disclosure that the naked facts nullify that narrative is irresponsible.

When we have crowds chanting "lock her up" regarding a political figure, wouldn't it make sense not to try her by leaving the court of public opinion open to unproven nonsense, when it could easily be disproved? Or is there truly a set of "Clinton Rules"--where any appearance of a critical issue is simply bad for Clinton, whether it is valid or not.

And what I think is astounding, is the idea even by people reporting the story regarding the Foundation responsibly, that the Clinton family can not maintain the charity with some few changes. Why drop something for the sheer sake of appearance? If there is nothing actually, factually wrong with the organization, and the work is good and lives depend on it--why would someone shaft it for better press--when better press ought to be the outcome of a fully-vetted story?

I dunno but some people go out of their way to keep Clinton scandals alive, and it's ghoulish. Think of the children, would you? Namely, the ones who benefit from what charities like the Clinton Foundation does.  And consider whether we really want to make fundraising for good causes a liability for people with the pull to get good shit done. This whole thing strikes me as simply uncivil.