About Erin Steiner

Posts by Erin Steiner:

Woo! A Fundraiser!

The short version of the back story: I have to leave my beloved weird little apartment in the wacky little building I currently love and I have to leave quickly. Don’t worry, I’m fine. The law isn’t after me or anything…at least not yet. Who knows what will happen after the inauguration when the likelihood of just existing with my biology will become a crime all by itself.

ANYWAY

I have to move. Fast. And because I do some of my best work when I’m forced into stressful emergent situations, I have already found and been approved for an apartment nearby. I won’t even have to leave my neighborhood–if I can cobble together the money I need for movers and the security deposit, pet deposit and the variety of “surprise” fees I will inevitably be charged when I sit down to sign the lease.

GET TO THE POINT, SELF.

As loathe as I am to admit it, I need your help. I have a good chunk of what I need to get in the door already in the bank. Unfortunately I can’t pay the rest with my winning personality (I checked) so I’ve started a fundraiser over on YouCare. Wait! Don’t click that yet!

To make this more fun for everyone (and easier on my psyche), I’m offering rewards for different levels of donations because I would so much rather earn this help if I can. Here are the details:

Get Fun Rewards!

Snarkedoodle $5-$15: I will create a small (4x6ish in size) doodle and send it to you.

  • B&W scanned and emailed: $5
  • B&W real life mailed $10
  • Color scanned and emailed: $10
  • Color real life mailed $15

Silly Handmade Valentine: $20, sent via USPS (for non-US orders, please add a few extra bucks to cover international shipping and send me a message to let me know where you want it sent!)

Blog Post: $100 You pick the topic (within reason). The post will be published on Snarke.net. If you would like to publish the post on your own site Add $10 and send me a message letting me know!

YouTube Video: $200 (limit 5) You pick the topic (within reason). The video will be posted on my own YouTube channel, Snarkeable. If you want to publish it on your own channel, add $25 and send me a message letting me know!

Make sure you send a message including the best way to contact you—email, Twitter, Facebook so we can work out the details! Some of these might take longer to deliver than others. Valentines will need to get mailed by Feb 8 to get to their recipients in time so they’ll take priority. I expect to get the rest out by the end of February/Mid-March.

Thanks! Thanks thanks thanks!!

Okay, you can click over now. Go forth and order some fun stuff! Put me to work for you! Please? 🙂

 

Chelsea Manning Will Be Set Free

One of the few things that we can be sure about in today’s United States is that if President Obama does something, the Republicans are going to hate it. It won’t matter what it is, they will hate it because he is the one that did it. Forever and ever Amenalenadingdong.

Today the big news out of the White House is President Obama commuting the rest of Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence. Predictably, the GOP are screaming themselves silly over it.

Chelsea Manning, for those of you who don’t remember, is the soldier who leaked a crap ton of classified and sensitive diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. She was convicted of Espionage in 2013 and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Many believe that Chelsea is a hero to be admired and even emulated. Others insist she is a traitor of the worst kind. I? I…don’t know.

I have mixed feelings about Chelsea Manning. On the one hand, I do believe that her actions put many in harm’s way. There is no doubt, though, that her actions have also likely saved many more. I know that I think far higher of her than I do of Edward Snowden or Julian Assange.

However I feel about Chelsea Manning and what she did, I do know that I am glad that President Obama commuted the rest of her sentence (provided Our Lord and Miser Fake n’ Bake doesn’t try to revoke it in a few days). I am glad she is going free. And though this will likely make many of you angry, I am also glad she was not fully pardoned.

That probably sounds harsh, but look: whether or not we like them or agree with them we are governed by a set of laws. And the military’s code of law is incredibly strict for a reason. Chelsea Manning knew what those laws were and she broke them. Was she brave to do so? Absolutely. Was what she did necessary for the protection of the greater good? Probably. Was her heart in the right place? Totes.

It’s easy to sit here in our bubbles and say that Chelsea should have been offered the same compassion and understanding that is offered to other people who break the law and aren’t sent to prison because their intentions were to serve the greater good, and to wax poetic about Kohlberg and the Heinz Dilemma.

A) Chelsea Manning was not tried in civilian court where the Heinz Dilemma could come into play.

B) Even if she was, war is not as simple as a broken window.

In moral/ethical cases the question is not only whether the ends justified the means but whether the ends outweigh the means. There is no doubt that a life is far more valuable than a window, as a window is easily replaceable and a human life is not.

War is not a broken window pane that can easily be replaced. Blasting out information to millions of people who don’t have the necessary qualifications or background to understand it properly is irresponsible and dangerous. In saving many lives Chelsea also put many lives at risk and likely ended quite a few, too. She knew that lives could be lost because of her actions. She took those actions anyway. She deserved to face some sort of consequence.

I do not think, however, that she deserved to face the consequence she was served. 35 years in a men’s prison because of a system that hasn’t yet caught up to science could be argued as extreme (and likely even extremely prejudiced). Forcing her to stay in that prison even after multiple suicide attempts? I’m pretty sure that’s considered cruel and unusual. And I’m glad she will soon be free.

Commuting the sentence might not seem like much to those who believe she deserves a full pardon. But hopefully if that’s how you feel you can take some comfort in knowing just how badly it pissed off the other side. Remember: they didn’t get their way, either. Personally I’m a fan of the solution that found the middle ground between the two extremes–and does so with respect to the law, not just how something feels.

I’m really going to miss having a President who cares about how all this stuff works.

Traditional New Year’s Day Post!

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2016 is over and I feel like I should be super happy about that, but I can’t quite let my guard down just yet. While I’m not a horror movie fan, I’ve seen enough to know that this is likely the part of the movie where everybody gets all giddy because they’re “finally safe” just before the monster pops back up for one last ultra-gruesome murder. I guess the good news is that usually after that happens everybody gets serious and kick ass and, unless the movie makers have hopes of a franchise (which, let’s face it, most do), go flipping nuts in their zeal to kill the monster. They go full scorched earth on its ass and while I don’t want to lose anybody or anything else to one of the worst years ever, I do kind of want to kick last year’s ass in a big way.

Starting with this blog post.

Just kidding. It’s New Year’s Day. I’m tired. And in the middle of doing laundry. And I’m hungry. But it is the tradition among those of us who make things or aspire to make things that we take some time on this day to talk about what we did last year and what we want to do in the following year. So, without further ado…

(Every time I say that, the Looney Tunes theme plays in my head.)

Let’s talk about 2016.

2016 was an epic poonado of a year. We lost so many and so much. Every loss hurt more than the last. I’m not going to list them all here because we’re all well versed in our losses and rehashing them here won’t help anybody.

Plus, 2016 did have some goodness in it. Beautiful art was created and hilarious jokes were told. Relationships were started. People I love got married. People I love got engaged. People I love created new people to love.

After almost a decade apart, I got to spend time with both of my older brothers this year and good conversations and adventures were had.

I did some merch. I went to some shows. I saw a few movies. I read a bunch of books and discovered some new authors to follow. I went back to school (very part time).

And though I lost many heroes, I found some new ones too.

Probably most importantly this year, I finally found…my calling? My purpose? I guess? It seems super weird to call it that. But it kind of fits. In less pretentious terms, I got fed up with the major media outlets totally fubarring their election and policy coverage and decided to do it my own darned self. I did this primarily on twitter though I did manage to eke out a few blog and Facebook posts along the way. And you all helped support this sloooooooow ongoing shift from “if it pays me I will write it” to “I’m a political writer and independent journalist.”

So. That’s 2016. It was a rotten year in so many ways, but it’s important to remember that some wonderful stuff happened too.

So. 2017. What’s Next?

My biggest hope for 2017 is that there is more good than bad. The challenge here is absolutely going to be remembering that “good” does not always look simple or happy or even make us smile. This year “good” is going to be ugly. It will look a lot like fighting. And shouting. And demanding. And sometimes it will feel terrible and it will hurt. We’ll have to remind ourselves over and over again that Stephen Sondheim is right: Nice is different than good.

For my part, I’m hoping to contribute more. And because I think we should all play to our strengths when we’re figuring out how best to defeat the dark side, for me that means more words on pages. It means using the time I spent mired in “the other side” to inform and educate and not just shoving those memories down and hoping to forget them. It means getting comfortable with my discomfort. That part is going to suck, but it will be worth it. Hopefully.

Personally? Yes, I did make resolutions thank you for asking. I don’t always make them but this year I thought it might be a good idea.

–More outside, less in.

–More water, less soda.

–More movement, less sitting.

–More reading and music, less TV.

–More blogging, less retweeting.

–More facts, less speculation.

–More people, less screens.

What are you hoping for this year?

And now for all the self promotey awkwardness! Here’s my Twitter. Here’s my Facebook. Here’s where you can send monetary support, if that’s a thing you want to do. Please follow, like, share, all that good stuff!

A Great Big Thank You

Around this time last month, I was having a really rough go of it. Like, the worst depressive episode I’d had in over a year levels of rough. Like, on the verge of not being able to take care of myself rough. Literally all I could do was sit on my couch, cry, and obsessively watch social media. I couldn’t concentrate and I couldn’t work and, yeah. It was bad.

Normally a few days of not being able to work shouldn’t be that big a disaster, but because the run up to the election had been so hectic and I’ve been so bad about finding a way to reliably fund this whole independent political writing/journalism thing…let’s just say the situation was Dire.

If you’ve known me for more than five minutes you likely know that I am not good at asking for help. I have almost a pathological aversion to it. This is not hyperbole. I have friends who will back me up on this.

But last month, there weren’t any other options. So, I asked. And then I cried a lot and called myself a bunch of terrible names because I’m supposed to be able to take care of myself all time no matter what. Forever and ever amen.

Before I could finish my laundry list of terrible names and reasons why I suck, though, you all started responding and the responses were overwhelming. So many people pitched in to help me and to let me know that I was cared for and supported. And the responses kept coming. So, I cried some more but for a wholly different reason.

I should have written this sooner but I wanted to take a moment to say a Great. Big. THANK YOU. Thank you to everybody who responded and for every way you responded. Even a month later, I’m overwhelmed by how quickly you jumped to help me and I will forever be grateful to you for it.

Thank You!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you!!

 

Where I’m At Right Now

When I was married, I lived in a world where it was repeated to me over and over again that “there is no such thing as rape if you’re in a relationship.” Where it was totally acceptable to roll down the car window and bark at women you found unattractive. Where it was totally okay to shove your hand down your wife’s shirt, grab her breast (hard enough to leave bruises), and then, while not letting go, make jokes about her breast size to her father in law. Where gaslighting and emotional torture were perfectly acceptable methods to get one’s way or to blow off some steam. It was a world in which women were obligated to serve men and if a man had to get his own whatever (dinner, drink, tv remote, whatevs) then it was up to that man to put that woman “in her place” even if it took physical violence to do so (the refrain of “beat her if you have to” still shows up in nightmares sometimes).

Growing up, like every other kid/teen/college student who is remotely different, I was bullied ferociously. I had tables shoved into me, hair pulled, hit with broom handles during gym class (it was a weird game that required us to use brooms. I’ll tell you about it some other time), called names, told repeatedly that I was ugly, stupid, weird, unlovable, better off dead. And, for a while after Schindler’s List (my last name is one of the names on the list) came out, the teasing ramped up to include swastikas drawn on my locker, kids calling me Jesus Killer, and other assorted bull shittery.

So, y’know, I’m no stranger to being treated badly. I know how it feels to have someone else deny your very humanity and treat doing so like a game.

This election feels worse than all those experiences combined.

It has been a week since Donald J Trump was elected to be the next President of the United States. I feel like the fog that has been smothering me might finally be starting to lift, but everything still really really hurts, and feels really really scary in a way that is all too familiar.

First, I have to say this: The people who are upset and hurting over the election results are not reacting this way simply because their candidate lost. The images you see splashed across the news and the think pieces you’re reading do not come from something that simple or someplace that petty.

We’re hurting and afraid because we know what’s coming. It has already started. We tried to tell you what would be coming and you—those of you who voted for him—cheered him on.

I know that not every vote for Trump was enthusiastic, but by casting that vote not only are you mindfully endorsing all his rhetoric, you are complicit in every action he takes because you gave him your permission to take it.

Right now, your impulse might be to argue. You might want to get mad at me and say “I don’t support everything he said or everything he did!” But here’s the thing: you don’t get to just vote for the parts of the candidate you like. You vote for that person as a whole, flaws and all.

In the first couple of flurried days after the election when pundits were desperately scrambling for anything positive to say, I heard a lot of “well only 50% of the 50% of the country that actually voted cast their ballots for Trump, so that’s only a quarter of the population that wants him.” That? Is just a nice way of saying that 75% of the population either didn’t want to or didn’t care enough to help make sure that Hillary won.

Maybe you were someone who voted for a third party or wrote someone in. Too bad. By not doing everything you could to make sure Trump didn’t win—even if it meant voting for someone who didn’t tingle your fee-fees in exactly the right way—you helped him win. Grudgingly, sure, but some of the blame is yours too.

Perhaps you were one of the nearly 50% of the population who didn’t vote at all. “Not my fault, I didn’t even vote!” Well, if you were able to vote and simply chose not to or couldn’t be bothered? Fuck you.

75% of my country looked at Donald Trump’s platform and deemed it acceptable. 75% of my country voted against inclusivity, against diversity, against equal rights, against the environment, against education, against science. 75% of my country voted in favor of or doesn’t care about discrimination, torture, ideological ware far, national isolation, hate, walls, and even potentially nuclear war. 75% of my country is would rather I died (for no other reasons than I was born with a vagina and don’t wear a cross around my neck) than maybe sometimes have to hear someone speak a language that isn’t English.

I am alive today partly because I knew that there were people in the world who had my back. I knew that there were people out there who loved me no matter what. There were places in the world where I knew that I would be totally and completely safe. When things were bad I’d think about these people and these places and the comfort that came from that would help me get from one day to the next.

Some of those people and some of the inhabitants of those places are among that 75%. I’m having a hard time figuring out how to process that. I don’t believe for a second that voting for Trump means that they love me any less. But I’m also having a hard time believing that I will be truly safe when I am with them, no matter what. Right now, it feels like when push comes to shove, they’d be more likely to hurt me than help me and that feeling sucks.

Every day since the election, I’ve felt like I was back in my marriage but now there’s an extra layer of abandonment tossed in there on top.

Look, I know that I am not the center of the universe and that being this navel-gazey is a little gross. I know that in time I’ll find my fight and my stubbornness will rise again (and lo, my stubbornness is MIGHTY). I’ll figure out what to do because, despite how I feel right now, I know I am not alone and that even though I’m feeling low, there is a strong support system filled with people who will hold me up when I need it.

Maybe most importantly, I know that I am not the only one who feels this way and that I will need to be battle ready very soon.

But today? Today I’m still scared to go further than the front steps of my building.

That’s where I’m at right now.

Donald Trump Does Not Want To Be President

Before I get into last night’s debate can we all just take a second to acknowledge and thank whatever diety you hold most dear that the debates are finally over? Because I do not know if I could sit through another one of those. Go ahead. Send a quick “thank you” out into the universe. I’ll wait.

Done? Cool.

My feelings about the third and (thank God) final debate are pretty much like my feelings about the first and the second: Yep. That is a thing that actually happened.

Today there has been a hell of a lot of ado about the fact that when asked point blank if he would accept the results of the election if he did not win, he first said “I’ll have to see” and then “I’ll keep you in suspense.” That this was followed today by his saying “I will totally accept the results of the election, no question…if I win,” was fairly predictable. When called out on the total bonkersity of a statement, Trump can’t help but double down.

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There are also “Nasty Woman” shirts and swag popping up all over the place, which is awesome and I hope I get the chance to buy some of it before it sells out.

For me, what last night’s debate really drove home was that–in spite of what he says about winning–Donald Trump does not want to be President.

Oh sure, he wants to win. That’s how he sees himself: the constant winner, the champion of everything, the most giantest star that ever burned so bright in the universe. Bigly. He wants that trophy something bad.

But he does not actually want to be President. He doesn’t actually want to run the country. He wants the spotlight, the accolades, the gushing genuflection of millions, but he does not want to do the work.

It’s something I’ve sensed since the beginning, even before he got on that first debate stage and refused to pledge to support another candidate if they won the primary because “I’m in this to win.” And with every speech he gives and every interview he tries to fake his way through, this becomes more and more obvious to me. How? Because the more he talks the clearer it becomes that he has no idea what a President does or how the government works.

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Based on the speeches he gives, his responses to criticism, and his recent affection for saying that if elected, “every dream you ever dreamed will come true,” Donald Trump thinks that the Presidency is a 24/7 party of getting his way. He says things like “If we don’t get the deal I want, I’ll walk away from the table.” When talking about international trade deals and foreign policy.

He has said that within hours of his taking the oath of office, law enforcement will begin rounding up “illegals” and kicking them out of the country.

He has said that he will eliminate all gangs and violence and crime.

And sure, it’s easy to chalk this stuff up to dangerous delusions of grandeur. Still, his lack of knowledge is reinforced when he insists that, if Secretary Clinton had been able to do her job, she’d have been able to change the laws he’s taken advantage of. I mean, he knows that Senators cannot individually and unilaterally create laws, right? He knows that, in order to actually get his deportation force going he’d have to have the action approved by Congress, right? He knows that he isn’t allowed to single handedly amend the Constitution, right? He knows there aren’t twelve articles in the Constitution, right?

And don’t even get me started on that Trojan Horse thing he keeps saying and getting wrong. Ugh.

Add this blatant lack of basic knowledge to his predilection for praising dictators and, yeah–feel that nausea building in the pit of your stomach? I call that “prelude to the horror barfs.” Last night Donald Trump refused to denounce Putin. Then he went on to say that the only reason Secretary Clinton doesn’t like Putin or Assad is because they’re smarter than her and better leaders.

So here’s a guy who doesn’t seem to know how the basic functions of government work and seems to want to emulate totalitarian dictators. Maybe this is because he doesn’t want to do the work of actually learning about them. I don’t know. But no matter what, it’s scary.

Finally, let’s all take a sec to look way way back to a few months ago when those closest to Trump (like Paul Manafort, remember him?) said that in his search for a VP candidate, he was looking for someone who would “do the part of the job that he didn’t want to do” and that he saw himself “as more the Chairman of the Board than even the CEO let alone the [Chief Operations Officer]”

Catch that? For those who don’t speak corporate, basically Donald Trump wants to be the figurehead who gets all the credit, while Mike Pence would do all of the actual governing. A) That’s not how the system works, like, at all and 2) Mike Pence is poop-your-pants-scary.

Over and over again (last night’s debate included) Donald Trump has proven that not only does he not understand how government works, he doesn’t care that he doesn’t understand how government works and thinks we should all heap piles of praise upon him for bothering to show up at all. It’s insulting to everything that generations of leaders have worked so hard to build.

Look, you may not totally love Secretary Clinton. That’s fine. But even if you disagree with her on the issues, at least you can be confident that she knows how the government works. Like, not only can she say the words “Checks and Balances” she can use them correctly in a sentence.

To translate all of this into nerd: who would you trust more with your life? Hermione Granger? Or Vincent Crabbe?

So maybe in a couple of weeks, let’s give Donald Trump what he really wants: a reason to do nothing at all. Preferably ever again.

 

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to help support my work here’s a handy link for that! All donations are appreciated! 

A Big Realization and a Great Big DUH

I’ve talked about indie journalism FOMO before. I’ve also written about my deep and abiding love for MSNBC and the work that is done there. Now I get to tell you why having MSNBC on in the background all day has turned out to be a really bad idea.

It’s not what you think. I mean, sure, the drudgery of hearing about all of the lies and the shouting about why Hillary Clinton is the devil incarnate and how pundits are trying to explain away all of the Trump BS that has happened over the last week with “But Hillary deleted emails and her pantsuits are terrible!” as if they were remotely comparable can really wear on a person’s soul.

Oh my god, what a run-on. Oh well, leaving it there in the interest of getting something posted for a change. You’re welcome!

And, yes, speaking as a person with a broken brain, having that constant negativity droning on all day has certainly exacerbated my broken brain in weird and unexpected ways. So you’ve got me there.

But the real reason having the news on all day has turned out to be a really bad idea?

It keeps me from writing. I know. DUH.

I thought it was word burnout after churning out content for my day job. But that’s not it.

Then I thought the reason I wasn’t writing was because it was one of the side effects of my aforementioned exacerbated broken brain.

Then the other night as I was playing Threes into the wee hours, it hit me: I’m not writing because I can’t keep up.

It can seem like 24/7 news doesn’t really say anything new all that often. They talk about the same topics ad nauseum just with different pundits. And this is, technically, true.

But! Those pundits are constantly saying different things! And the things they say give me ideas! I cannot keep up with those ideas. Obviously no reasonable person would expect a one woman operation like mine to keep up with a fully staffed national news network, but I am not the most reasonable person when it comes to me.

So, basically the news says very little that is newsworthy but also is constantly saying things that I think are newsworthy. It’s Schrodinger’s News. And having it on all day made me feel like I have to keep up. And having to keep up kept me stuck in my head thinking up new ideas instead of, y’know, writing anything down. Or typing it into scrolling-challenged iWriter (seriously, wtf is wrong with this thing?).

But you know what? I don’t have to keep up with or try to compete with that fully staffed national news network. The whole point of this is to do things MY way because I don’t like the way they’re doing them.

And that is why, today, I taped this up on my wall:

fitjustdothedamnwork

The important part of this, for me, is to remember that I don’t have to have to try to be the indie version of MSNBC. They’re great at what they do. Hopefully, if I let myself do this my way, I’ll be great at what I do, too.

And if not? That’s okay. I’m still awesome at Twitter.

Want to help me balance day job and indie journalism? Here’s where you can contribute to the “Keep Snarke Sane fund!”

Live-ish Tweeting the VP Debate

I had family in town this week and was having dinner with them during the Vice Presidential debate so I couldn’t watch the event live. But! I have a DVR. So I recorded it and sat down to watch it this afternoon. What follows are all of the things I would have tweeted if I had live-tweeted it…but without those pesky 140 character limits.

Mike Pence always looks like he’s being forced to smile for a school picture.

Holy Moderator Eyelashes, Batman!

Mike Pence has already done the “this is stupid/you’re such a dumbass” head tilt/seat shift thing more than a dozen times and Tim Kaine hasn’t finished with his opening remarks.

Tim Kaine, is a note taker! I don’t know why this makes me happy but it does!

Fantastic question dodge there, Mr. Kaine.
Oh hey, here’s that whole “you would know about an insult driven campaign” thing.

Okay, I see why people were down on Kaine at the beginning of the debate. Shut up, dude!

Interrupt, interrupt, now they’re just taking over each other.

“When Hillary became SoS, do you know that Obama was alive?” first genuine LOL of the event.

“Iraq is overrun by ISIS because Hillary Clinton, failed to negotiate…” Pence blaming Hillary Clinton for GWB’s decision.

Jeez, Tim Kaine does “angry Dad face” REALLY well.

Tim Kaine so totally wants to punch Mike Pence in the face right now.

“Even Bill Clinton calls Obamacare a crazy plan!” Well…..that’s not *entirely* true…

Pence has a point that you need to grow the economy to better deal w/debt but no, Trump’s plan won’t do that. Unless “economy” is code for “Trump’s pockets.”

Timmy, enough with the “you’re hired” vs “you’re fired” POTUS. That’s HS Marketing 101 level stuff.

I like anybody who can just drop the word “bullwark” into a sentence like it’s something we all say everyday.

Gov Pence actually chuckling in Kaine’s face. Gross, dude.

I will say this, Gov Pence is doing a better job of talking to the people watching. He’s actually acknowledging us. So far, Tim Kaine not so much.

“You can roll out the numbers but people know different.” NUMBERS ARE NOT SUBJECTIVE BUTTHEAD.

“He’s used the tax code brilliantly” “How do you know that?” “Because he built a business” “But how do you know??” This is what EVERYBODY WANTS TO KNOW.

Pence “he hasn’t broken his promise.” Technically true. Until November 8, he still has time to say he will release his returns before the election.

“Gentlemen, the people at home can’t understand either one of you.” Wow, ain’t that the truth. Good job, Moderator.

“We never said that” “But you have a voting record, Governor! I can’t believe you won’t defend your own voting record.” BOOM.

Oh no. Law enforcement/Race Relations. This is going to be a trainwreck.
“At the risk of agreeing with you,” says Gov Pence. THIS IS THE PROBLEM. AGREEING SHOULDN’T BE A BAD THING. …unless it’s for bad stuff, then cut that crap out.

Is..is he….is Gov Pence blaming Black Lives Matter for the tense relationship between police and the communities they serve?

Gov Pence proving he doesn’t understand that “implicit bias” is demeaning.

Two white guys should NOT be talking about how people of color should feel.

Tim Kaine keeps pointing out that Mike Pence isn’t defending Trump’s positions. This is smart.

“Donald Trump has a plan that he laid out in Arizona,” says Pence. Um, no? Plans have details, sir. “I’m gonna do all the things” is not a plan.

Pence tries to blame Tim Kaine for being insulting after Tim Kaine quoted Trump. Oh lord.

Now Pence is saying that all of the terrible things Trump has said don’t come close to being as bad as the “basket of deplorables” comment. This says more about his world view than he thinks it does.

Mike Pence has mastered the disappointed “can you believe this” smug head shake.

After we secure the border…in the air? Um. What?

Moderator: “How would you get the people here illegally out?” Pence delivers the midwest polite version of “we’re going to get them out because we will.”

Wow, not a single stumble over the name of ISIS’s head bad dude. That was impressive, Senator Kaine.

A Mt. Rushmore of dictators.

Mike Pence “I can defend….er, um, I, uh, I can make clear to the American People.” Iiiiiiiiiiiinteresting stumble there, Governor.

ISIS was not “conjured up out of the desert” beause Secretary Clinton didn’t throw GWB’s policy out the window, Governor.

So sick of this ISIS is Hillary’s fault BS.

Mike Pence is doing a wonderful job of making Donald Trump’s bizarro scary ass plans sound like bedtime stories.

Uh, Gov Pence? Syrian refugees weren’t responsible for Paris. Not all brown people are the same.

UGH STOP CALLING IT CYBER.

Oof, Moderator, you actually *do* have to give both sides time to respond to the question. This is ONE time I’ll say Gov Pence was right to interrupt you.

…ugh. He’s using it to bring up emails.

Noooooooooo Sen Kaine, don’t get sucked into the eeeeeeeeeeeeemaiiiiiiiiilllls

Moderator has lost control. “GENTLEMEN PLEASE,” does not bode well for her ability to keep the rest of this thing on track.

Safe zones….. remember when we set those up for the Native Americans? Any time you talk about marching victims somewhere you know you’re on the wrong side of the issue.

“If you don’t know the difference between dictatorship and leadership you need to go back to a 5th grade citizenship class.”

Ooooh, Senator Kaine is using Trump’s avoidance of taxes to show that he doesn’t support the military. SMART. I hope this catches on.

Uh, maybe don’t use a Russian proverb to prove that you don’t like Russia? Just a thought there, Gov Pence.

“Weak and feckless leadership that Hillary Clinton created….” Bite me, Gov Pence.

And we’ve reached the pot-shot part of the debate. That means this is almost over, right?
“You did this,” “No?” “Yeah you did.”

Pssst, Senator Kaine, it’s NORTH Korea. Not South. NORTH.

Gov Pence’s face is all sorts of “please stop using facts. Please I’m begging you. I only know how to spin by laughing. Please stop.”

Governor Pence “Most of what you said is completely false. Here’s the difference between what you said and reality.” Something something Princess Bride joke.

IT WASN’T A RANSOM PAYMENT.

Wait….wait…. “When we say Russia is strong, we don’t mean Russia is strong, we mean America is weak!” What?

As much as I love the guy, Senator Kaine should never play poker.

Building new islands? China is Building? New? Islands? Admittedly I’m not super up to date on my China knowledge but, Building? Really?

Gov Pence is saying that they’ll keep North Korea’s nuclear capabilities from growing by…complaining about the Clinton Foundation. There aren’t enough confused head tilt gifs on the whole internet.

This Moderator is practically begging these guys to stay on topic.

Gov Pence: The Trump Foundation is fine because Hillary Clinton used email!

Social issues. Here we go. Social issues mean everything explodes and we’re all done, right?

Senator Kaine making a point to talk about how important it is to separate personal faith from public service. So glad he’s making this point. It’s an important one that isn’t made enough.

Gov Pence, on the other hand, fully admits that he uses his personal faith to inform his public policy and sees no problem with that.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION.

UGH, Pence flat out lying on “we’d never punish a woman for making a reproductive choice.”

Kaine: “Why don’t you trust women to make this choice for themselves?” THIS. ALWAYS THIS.
Pence: “Because a society is judged by how it serves its most vulnerable.” Interesting how a baby stops being seen as vulnerable once its born.

Final statements! Thank you lord, it’s final statements time! It’s almost over! TALK FASTER MIKE PENCE SO I DON’T HAVE TO WATCH YOU ANYMORE

IT’S DONE! FINALLY! I SURVIVED!

Verdict: I’m going to crib the other night’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell: if you don’t care about the truth and only care about tone and demeanor then Governor Pence totally won. But if you care about substance and truth, Senator Kaine crushed it.

AAAAAAA I didn’t turn off the recording in time and just heard Chris Matthews say “erogenous zones.”

Is Donald Trump Gaslighting the Nation?

Content Warning: Domestic Abuse, Gaslighting

This is familiar.

It’s day three of waking up and, in spite of getting many more hours of sleep than I had planned, I am physically exhausted. All of my limbs are heavy and it takes all of my strength to curl up and pull my comforter over my head. I need to get up and get moving and get work done but I can’t. I just…can’t. And I don’t understand why.

Except I do. I just don’t like what I’m realizing that I know: that my body is remembering, even if I do my best to make my brain forget.

It’s 2011. I’m standing in the hallway and my husband is screaming at me, red-faced, neck veins bulging, “If you ever hold anything against me ever again I won’t stop at hitting the wall!”

I’m trying not to cry because crying is “manipulative” and will only make things worse.

“I don’t know what that means,” I say as calmly as I am able.

“You always do this!” He yells. “I do something and you say it hurts you and I’m sick of it! You’re just trying to make me feel bad! I’m not hurting you at all! You just want to hurt me!”

“I don’t want to hurt you.” I whisper, looking down at the floor, making myself seem as submissive as possible and hating myself for it.

“Yes you do! Are you calling me a liar? Who do you think you are to call me a liar. You lie all the time!”

“I’m not…I don’t…I don’t understand what’s happening.” I say in the smallest voice I can manage.

“Yes you do! You did this on purpose! You always start fights for no reason because you hate me! I know you do! You wish I was dead!”

“I don’t.”

“There you go, accusing me of lying again! I hate this! You’re such a fucking bitch! I wish I could beat the shit out of you but you’d probably just turn me in even though you deserve it!”

He starts pounding his fist against the wall, leaving little smudges on the paint. He stomps away, continuing pound the wall with his fist as he goes, screaming “I wish this was you!”

It’s only after he slams the door behind him and I hear the tires of his car squeal as he speeds out of the parking lot that I let myself start to cry.

This “fight” had started because I’d asked him if I could take his cereal bowl into the kitchen. The last time it had been mostly empty when I grabbed it and he had yelled at me for being inconsiderate. This time I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t start a fight.

I failed.

Later he’ll tell me that everything was my fault, that he had just been sitting there, happily fishing away the afternoon on World of Warcraft, and that I had barged in and attacked him. That I had accused him of never taking care of himself and that I started drama for no reason.

“You have to stop doing that,” he’ll say perfectly calmly. “You’re really ruining our marriage.”

My head hangs even though I’m pretty sure that I hadn’t done any of the things he said I did or used the tones he said I used. I’d even practiced asking for the cereal bowl a few times to myself in the kitchen to make sure I got the tone exactly right: meek but still happy to serve.

“I know. I’m sorry. I’ll be better.” I say, hating myself but not being able to stop myself.

This is gaslighting.

It wasn’t until after we’d split (a few months after this incident) that I first heard of gaslighting and looked it up. When I finished reading about it, I burst into maybe the ugliest cry I’ve ever cried because finally finally there was a word for what had happened to me. It was a real thing. It was abusive. I wasn’t crazy. I was right.

Every day someone somewhere jokes about Donald Trump gaslighting the country. They point to his insistence that he hasn’t said things he has absolutely said. They talk about his rewriting of history, of accusing Hillary Clinton, the press, every person who doesn’t display the proper level of adulation, of things that are demonstrably false.

In a way they’re right. In a way, the entire spectre of politics is a bit gaslight-y. Politicians try to convince us they’re better than their opponents. They spin and exaggerate claims of their own greatness and their opponents’ weaknesses. This is the way of campaigns. As much as I love her, and as hard as she tries, even Secretary Clinton is not immune to the use of hyperbole.

But I worry that our willingness to toss around words like “gaslighting” will trivialize what is a very real and very traumatic form of abuse. And what people are calling “gaslighting” isn’t quite the same thing. There is a fine line between just straight up lying and what someone does when they gaslight someone else. When someone is gaslighting someone else, they are actively trying to make their victim question their own reality, their own emotions, their memories. Lying on the other hand…well, um…Trump. This is one of the reasons I get so mad at current coverage. People are so quick to call what Trump is doing “gaslighting” and so hesitant to call it “lying.” Why? Because “gaslighting” is cool and trendy? Because trust me. It really isn’t.

And, if we’re being totally honest (and why not), I worry that everyone is right, that the Trump campaign really is trying to gaslight the entire country–and it’s working. Have you heard some of his supporters? Do you know how their brains work? Because I do.

One of the reasons that I am so completely opposed to and horrified by Donald Trump is that he reminds me of my ex-husband and the family I used to be married into, particularly my ex-father-in-law. I have zero doubts that all of them are ardent Trump supporters now. Trust me when I tell you, people like that should not be in charge.

When Trump really starts ranting and railing, when he’s yelling slurs more than he is trying to speak, when he’s ratcheting up the hatred and vitriol of the crowd, I have to actively remind myself that I am not back there. I am not having to force myself to smile politely while my father in law yells and pounds his fists and drops n-bombs like they’re cheap confetti. In the beginning I would try to argue back, but…well, you saw Trump’s performance in the debate: proven wrong, yell about a totally different subject and insist that’s what you had been talking about the whole time.

I know that I should be talking about the debate today, but this has been on my mind for a while. I’ll try to write about the debate tomorrow after, God help me, I watch it again from an analysis place instead of a reactionary place.

No! Bad MSNBC!

WARNING FOR FAMILY TYPES: Post contains f-bombs. You’ve been warned.

When she was still alive my paternal Grandmother loved to watch a show called Club Dance. It was her favorite show and she would keep her television set tuned to TNN (or whatever the network was called then) all day to make sure she didn’t miss any of the 4+ episodes that would air during the day. Every single time an episode would start, my Grandma would say the same thing:

“I just love this show. I know all the dancers. I know who’s seeing who and who got in a fight with who and sometimes I get up and try to do the dances and my gosh, I just love this show.”

It was adorable and is something that we still giggle about.

A (long) while ago, on a phone call with my Mom, I was complaining about one of my favorite MSNBC hosts, Ronan Farrow, losing his show. I had opinions about this change in lineup and was ranting about how Farrow’s show was axed but another host’s show was still going strong even though it was infuriating and poorly researched.

“You sure do have a lot of opinions about a television channel.” My Mom said.

“Well sure, I love MSNBC! I turn it on in the mornings to get the headlines and then I’ll watch this host’s show and that host’s show and then I know I can take a break because these couple of hosts are awful but I need to be back in time to see these other hosts because they always do a good job. I like to keep up.”

“Okay Grandma.” My Mom said and started laughing.

And you know what? Guilty. I’ve always been open about the fact that most of the time I have MSNBC on as background noise during the day. It’s the only news channel that doesn’t make me want to set my hair on fire. I know that this is because they often tend to have a liberal lean to their reporting (it’s hard to hate reporters who agree with you) which is why I like to get my headlines from them but follow it up with my own research. I also like that, typically, MSNBC anchors aren’t afraid to fact check or challenge their interviewees in real time. I mean, my god, have you ever watched Chris Matthews do an interview? There’s a reason he has a reputation for shouting. And Rachel Maddow is a goddamn national treasure and I will fight you if you try to disagree with me about this.

But then last night’s dumpster fire “Commander in Chief Forum” happened. I had such high hopes for this event. I was looking forward to substantive questions and real answers. And even when it came down that Matt Lauer (whose name is going to be a dirty word in my house for a while) would be hosting instead of someone more qualified, I thought: “It’s MSNBC. They do good work. It’ll be okay.”

It was not okay.

If we’re being completely honest here (and why not), I am still livid about how the event was conducted. Holy fuck, what a disaster.

The clips from the forum are up on YouTube so you can watch the event yourself. I won’t go into specific quotes or anything like that because honestly? The candidates’ responses weren’t really news. They were mostly predictable.
What makes me angry–angry all the day down into the depths of my soul–is that last night’s forum really highlighted just how differently Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are treated by the press.

It’s a thing I’d noticed sometimes in passing, sort of in the larger “Jesus Christ, what does Hillary have to do to make you people happy?!” sense but last night was different. Last night Matt Lauer didn’t even try to look like he was approaching the candidates equally.

During Hillary’s half hour at the microphone, Matt Lauer repeatedly interrupted her, tried to cut her off, disagreed with her and even patronized her. Hillary was trying to give thoughtful and substantive answers to important and complex questions and Lauer wasn’t having any of it. He focused almost half her time on her emails instead of on military issues (though he did bring up her vote for Iraq).

When Donald came up to bat, it was all smiles and easy questions. He let Trump go on at length about his secret plan to fight ISIS and why he was keeping it secret. Lauer didn’t say a single word when Trump mansplained a woman’s question and got his numbers wrong. And his questions—first year middle school journalism students would come up with better stuff. “What are you reading to prepare?” REALLY?! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, LAUER?

There are rumors about Lauer being chosen instead of any of the infinitely more qualified journalists on the NBC networks because Trump wanted to make sure he wouldn’t get any tough questions. Even so—does Matt Lauer live in Trump Tower or something? Did Trump promise him a position in the cabinet if he wins? I do not understand how or why he conducted the forum last night the way he did. Even thinking about it makes my blood all boily.

I had hoped that today’s MSNBC shows would help soothe the irate beast that was rising up within me but, um, not so much. Now, granted I slept badly and woke up late so I wasn’t in the best of moods anyway but today on my beloved MSNBC I saw hosts say things like “If Hillary behaves toward Donald Trump in the debates like she did last night, he’s going to win.” And “She really should use a softer touch with him”  And can I just say?

NO SHE FUCKING SHOULDN’T. THE MAN WANTS TO LEAD THE GODDAMN FREE WORLD. HILLARY CLINTON DOES NOT NEED TO SOFTEN DOWN. DONALD TRUMP NEEDS TO TOUGHEN UP.

There were hours of air time today devoted to talking about the lie Donald Trump keeps telling about his support for the Iraq war. This is a subject that has now been debunked dozens of times, but it got more air play than all of the other completely and outrageously terrible lies he told last night put together.

I watched as Chuck Todd, someone I usually think does an okay job, not only allow his male guests completely trample is lone female guest but encourage them. Every time they interrupted her, Todd would shift his focus to them and follow up on what the interruptor said. There wasn’t a single “hold on, let her finish” or anything of the sort.

And then! Then! Chuck Todd devoted an entire segment of MTP Daily to whether or not Donald Trump would legally be allowed to run his businesses from the oval office. It turns out? That legally speaking, he is allowed to remain at the head of his organizations. And there was zero pushback from Todd.
This is about when I started yelling at my TV set because GAH! THE HYPOCRISY!

Hillary Clinton, a woman who never let the work of the Clinton Foundation interfere or inform her work as Secretary of State (we’ll talk more about this at a later time because I have VIEWS) has been under tremendous pressure not just to step down from that foundation but to abolish it altogether.

The pundits have all agreed: to avoid any appearance of potential pay for play, one of the greatest and most successful humanitarian organizations in modern history has to be completely destroyed. A few have relented slightly to say, basically, “okay the Clinton Foundation’s work can still exist but it can’t be called the Clinton Foundation and nobody who has anything to do with the family should be able to have anything to do with the foundation if Hillary Clinton wins the Presidency. Because optics.”

Contrast that to: “Yeah, he can totally keep running his businesses, I mean he’d have to be careful not to play favorites, but legally it’s fine.” So a woman who has followed all the rules and done nothing wrong has to destroy one of the best things she helped build or she can’t be President because it will prove that she’s corrupt. But the man who has been proven to use his organizations to buy his way out of legal trouble with high ranking officials in multiple states can totally keep doing that even if he wins the election? And it’s fine?

How the flying fuck is this fair?!

How can these stories be run within days of each other and the pundits still claim that they aren’t holding Hillary Clinton to an absurdly different and impossible standard than Donald Trump?

Why is it that Hillary Clinton is condemned over and over again for her lack of omnipotence while Donald Trump is heaped with praise for finally learning how to read a teleprompter and not taking a dump on the stage?

ARGH.

MSNBC, I’m disappointed in you.

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