2016 US Presidential Election

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.

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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Doing My Due Diligence: A Blog in Two Parts

Part One

Everybody pull up a chair or scootch closer to your standing desk because I’m about to let you in on one of the hardest things about my new indie-journo adventure. Ready? Here it goes: FOMO is real, yo. And it is fierce.

Most of us think about FOMO (it means “Fear Of Missing Out” Mom) in the social sense, the second verse of Ennui sense. It comes from a very real pressure to feel like we are a part of things all the time. And when you’re covering a thing that is as fast and rambunctious as this election, that FOMO gets real intense real fast.

Just as I feel like I’ve gotten a handle on an idea well enough to write about it, suddenly everybody is talking about this other thing and I don’t want to be left out so I drop what I’m doing to go learn about that thing and then there’s a whole new thing but what about that first thing I was going to write about? Are we still talking about that at all? No? Well, poop.

I mean, I guess I’m lucky in my current topic (which I’ll talk about in a sec), because that goddamn Hillary Clinton email scandal is never going away.

FOMO is why I haven’t been better at keeping up this space. I don’t want to write “hot takes” or whatever we’re calling them these days. I want to dig into a topic and understand it and then tell you about it because I know you’re confused too. And because I have VIEWS and I want to make sure my VIEWS are founded and not just a knee jerk/privilege-based reaction to a situation.

At the same time I want to build up this audience and really do something (God, how many times have I said that before? Shut up). And that means choosing between “here’s five more words that say pretty much the same thing as everybody else is saying” and fear of “wait, I thought we stopped caring about that at least yesterday already. God, keep up!”

So, most of the time I sit and I do nothing because ugh. Choosing between which annoying is the least annoying is just the worst.

And that brings us too…

Blog Part B

Last week the FBI put the notes from it’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email servers and Hillary Clinton’s own interview up on their public vault. Anybody who wants to can sort through those pages (and there are dozens of them) to learn what the FBI learned and to see why Director Comey decided not to recommend pressing charges.

Here’s the TL;DR version: So far? Everything Hillary Clinton has been saying about her use of a private email server and the way she and her staff decided on how to classify (or not) documents has been right on the money. She did nothing wrong. Her biggest problem? Was trusting her team to do their jobs correctly and if you think putting trust in a team is a bad thing for a Presidential Hopeful to do? You’re wrong.

No. No “what about?”s or “but sometimes…”-es. You are wrong. The President is the ultimate Decider in Chief but he or she relies on a vast network of experts and professionals for advice and assistance. It’s called the cabinet, and ambassadorships, and a gorram staff, people. Look it up.

Kevin Drum wrote an excellent rundown of some of the bigger a-ha moments in the reports over at Mother Jones (and a follow up is here).

And Jim Wright wrote an excellent run-down of how the classification system works and what the different levels mean here on Facebook (you should follow him if you haven’t already, he’s great.)

For my part? If you want me to dig into policy and other details I totally will. If that’s a post y’all want to read, I’m happy to write it. For now, though, I want to talk about a few things, in the general sense, that caught my eye.

Hillary Clinton Didn’t Create the Server

The server was originally created in 2007 for President Bill Clinton’s post-presidency work related stuff. Hillary only asked for the IT team to set up an email address after she was instated as Secretary of State.

The Clintons’ IT Team Sucks

And they suck hard. Things seemed to be going swimmingly in the beginning when the server was kept, managed, and administered on-site. The two guys responsible for the building of the servers (the original one got replaced by a better system in 2009) did a pretty good job of keeping everything running and everyone happy.

Then in 2009, security and administration were outsourced to a third party firm. And they? Turned out to be your basic nightmare of an IT team. Seriously. Requests went unanswered for months. They said they couldn’t encrypt emails (so that only recipients could read them) because it would interfere with troubleshooting problems that might come up, they lost or never delivered hardware, seriously. They’d say “oh sure I did that” and then not do that. Ugh.

Clinton’s Admin/Legal Team Not Much Better

Let’s just put it all on the table. If you do not have any expertise in IT, you should not attempt to do IT-expertise related things. Period. You definitely shouldn’t have someone try to talk you through a process over the phone and then lose the hardware that you were using for that project and then lie about it. (“I gave that to her” “Nope” “Oh wait, I still have it. That’s right.” paraphrasing mine.)

And the team responsible for archiving and sorting her emails? Not much better. Secretary Clinton gave her lawyers explicit instructions that anything that could be seen as even remotely work related be turned in at the end of her tenure.

Secretary Clinton Is Not A Happy Tech Person

I don’t think any of us blame her for not wanting to try to juggle two devices when the one she was already using was already such a thorn in her paw. She didn’t like having to learn new systems, often asking her staff to switch out a new blackberry for an older model that she was more familiar with. And it looks like whenever the device went remotely buggy or slow, it didn’t get repaired or have troubleshooting run on it, it simply got replaced. I think that’s understandable. The Secretary of State’s Blackberry probably shouldn’t be sent out for repairs, y’know?

Beyond that point, there is the issue of sending and receiving emails. Kevin Drum touches on this too, but I want to make sure you readers really grok this. According to the FBI report, only about 13 people had direct contact with Secretary Clinton via email. With all of the emails being archived and dug through? That is a teensy number of people.

This means that Secretary Clinton received far more emails than she sent and it doesn’t look like she sent anything that could be potentially sensitive, she only received it. But “people were emailing her like crazy but she rarely responded directly or even at all” doesn’t play well as “30,000 emails sent and received by the Secretary” now does it?

And that brings me to this final point. Maybe. Unless you decide you want in-depth analysis.

What you see being reported on and shouted about on the news seems stupid because IT IS. This report proves over and over again that Secretary Clinton did nothing wrong. She didn’t subvert the system. She didn’t manipulate the system. She used what she had to the best of her ability to do so within the confines of law and policy and to keep the process as transparent as possible and she instructed her staffs to do the same. She is in the clear here. But after so many months of speculation and spin, saying “oh. okay. yeah. She’s totally cool. Nothing to see here.” Doesn’t play well on the airwaves.

But seriously: she’s cool. There’s nothing to see here. If you want to get worked up about this “scandal” aim your ire at the people who keep trying to smear her with it instead of letting the issue die so we can all move the frig on.

 

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Finally! Some Hillary!

Oh Hillary, you are a soothing balm on my Trump-scraped soul.

So. Today sure happened, didn’t it.

When I got up this morning I was all set to let loose with a post about the AP and the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton pile-on and oh, y’all. I have VIEWS. Shouty shouty VIEWS. But then? Today’s speeches happened.

Today Donald Trump gave a speech to his followers in New Hampshire. I just finished watching the video and there’s nothing new to report. It was more of the same basic stuff: “I’m awesome, Hillary is evil, here are a bunch of examples I’m exaggerating and a few more that I have completely made up and even a couple that prove I didn’t do the reading. Outlandish thing!!! Genuinely scary thing. Yada yada yada.”

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Yes. I just yada yada’d Trump.

But! Today wasn’t an all-Trump day. Not even a little bit. Because? Hillary Clinton also gave a speech–her first public rally speech in a while–and what a speech it was. I don’t know if it was just the contrast with all the Trump I’ve been watching, but Clinton’s speech? Was PERFECT. It was everything a good speech should be, especially one that is taking on not just Donald Trump but the entire alt-right and their trollish, dickish ideas.

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GIF source: Giphy.com

Hillary Clinton was calm. She was measured (metaphorically). The speech was much less a rally cry than very much a “Mofos, THIS is how you address the nation and Make Them Pay Attention.”

Here’s the full transcript.

Here’s the video.

Please please, even if you aren’t a big fan of political stuff, watch this speech if for no other reason than an example of what real leadership looks like.

 

 

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So Much Trump

I’ve been watching a lot of Trump speeches over the last few weeks.

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It’s my own fault. Nobody is making me watch these speeches and interviews and rallies. Outside of your incredibly generous donations (thank you!) nobody is paying me to spend this much time focused on a crusty rug with a bad attitude. I’m watching because I want to and because I think watching and paying attention (as barfy as it makes me) is important. Donald Trump is saying quite a lot in the little that he actually says and, while it’s fun to watch him try to talk and read a teleprompter at the same time, so far I have yet to hear him say anything that doesn’t terrify me.

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If you’ve caught even just thirty seconds of domestic news over the last couple of weeks, you’ve undoubtedly heard some of Trump’s latest greatest hits:

  • Barack Obama is “literally the founder of ISIS” (he isn’t) along with Hillary Clinton (nope).
  • Hillary Clinton is a bigot (I doubt it).
  • The Obama Administration paid $400 Million in ransom to Iran (nu-uh, and I’ll talk about this more later this week).
  • That Hillary is physically and mentally unfit for office–and that she’s harboring some weird secret illness. (*sigh*)
  • He “regrets” saying the wrong things and causing personal pain (followed up by going back to saying and doing exactly what he’s been saying and doing all along).
  • He (Trump) will be able to get 95% of the black vote by 2020, he guarantees it.
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We all talk a good game about how there are only lies and nothing of real substance in his stump speech, but if you pay attention? There’s some super scary sh*t in there and nobody seems to be covering it. Probably because it isn’t quite as outlandishly delivered or ignorantly conceived as what I listed above.

For example, while everybody else is mad because Trump keeps insisting that Hillary Clinton is a bigot who uses black people as pawns, they’re overlooking a statistic he’s repeated a few times since then:

“58% of African American youth are unemployed.”

Notice the inclusion of the word youth. This is not an accident. He has used this quote in a few different speeches now, varying it once in a while to make it look like he’s trying to talk directly to the Black community: “half of your youth are unemployed!”

What, exactly, does he mean by “youth”? Does he mean teenagers who can get work permits? Younger? And why is the unemployment rate of African American youth such a big sticking point for him?

In one speech he even went so far as to say that Hillary Clinton would “rather bring in a refugee or an illegal to take a job than have one of the African American youths do it.” (paraphrasing mine)

Think about the stereotype surrounding jobs typically performed by refugees and undocumented workers. Is he saying that we should be sending in kids–black kids in particular–to do those jobs instead? Because that’s problematic, even for a guy who supposedly has a (white, of course) twelve year old running his Colorado campaign office.

Then there’s his whole thing about ideological testing. A lot of news coverage has been given to Donald Trump’s plan to impose some sort of ideological test on people who want to immigrate to this country (because nobody would ever lie on one of those, I’m sure). What this coverage leaves out is how far and how invasive he’d like this testing to be. Here are quotes from just two of the speeches he’s given recently:

“On immigration, we will temporarily suspend immigration from any place where adequate screening cannot be performed. All applicants for immigration will be vetted for ties to radical ideology, and we will screen out anyone who doesn’t share our values and love our people. […] If you want to join our society, then you must embrace our society, our values and our tolerant way of life. “  —Charlotte, August 18 (bolding mine)

“This also means we have to promote the exceptional virtues of our own way of life – and expecting that newcomers to our society do the same.Pride in our institutions, our history and our values should be taught by parents and teachers, and impressed upon all who join our society. Assimilation is not an act of hostility, but an expression of compassion.” —Youngstown, August 15 (bolding mine)

These are not the only scary ideas that he’s not-so-subtly projecting. There is also the language about “Americanism not Globalism” and the advocation of eliminating nation-building:

“If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended. Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam.All actions should be oriented around this goal, and any country which shares this goal will be our ally. We cannot always choose our friends, but we can never fail to recognize our enemies.”–Youngstown, August 15

He talks about using “military, financial and cyberwarfare” to defeat terrorists. What does that even mean?

It’s easy to laugh and point at Donald Trump and to wonder how on earth a candidate who has no concrete plans to accomplish any of this promises got so far. But if you really listen, there are incredibly scary messages included in his speeches and they are why he should never ever have any power.

 

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Donald Trump Steps In It. Again.

Hold on to your butts, folks. We’re already at that point in the election cycle where, even if you do your best to steer clear, you cannot totally avoid hearing about the election. IN AUGUST.

Something something marathon not a sprint joke.

If you are alive, you have probably heard about Donald Trump’s most recent awful gaffe (until tomorrow anyway). In case you’re one of the lucky few (or dead?!) who managed to escape it, here’s the short version:

Donald Trump “accidentally” called for the assassination of Hillary Clinton.
Yeah. That is a thing that happened.  Here’s how it went down.

The Trumpster was giving a speech in North Carolina–off script because that’s always a good idea–and was trying to talk about how important it is that Hillary not be allowed to appoint Supreme Court justices because she wants to repeal the second amendment and blah blah trump trump yuck yuck yuck. But then! Oh then. He said this:

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know. But — but I’ll tell you what. That will be a horrible day. “

Now, look: I watched that whole Trump speech. On purpose even. And as much as I loathe the guy I don’t honestly think he was calling for the assassination of his political opponent. I think he’s a terrible speaker and is not nearly the off-the-cuff master of oration he seems to think he is. His verbal inner monologue approach to these speeches gets him in trouble because he is allergic to facts and in love with bluster. I think some of his campaign spokespeople are probably right: he was talking about NRA lobbyists and activists who are so good at getting powerful people to do their bidding getting in the way of an anti-NRA justice’s approval.

But words, y’know. They’re hard and stuff.

And the spokespeople saying Trump was kidding? They can bite all of us.

The problem isn’t that Trump’s campaign is trying to walk this back using two conflicting stories, making it even harder to ferret out what he really meant.

The problem is that there are people who believe in Donald Trump so whole heartedly and take him so literally that they will decide that he does want them to try to go after Hillary Clinton. This is a huge problem, not just for Trump and Hillary, but for the Secret Service Agents whose jobs are literally to put themselves between gunfire and the candidates.

The other problem is that “just kidding” is not rhetoric you want a President to think is a perfectly acceptable go-to when he or she says something inflammatory and carelessly causes an international crisis. Why? Not just because it is in poor taste. But because it signals that he doesn’t take himself or his responsibilities seriously.

Scary as it is, Trump’s words have real power and authority now. And that he either doesn’t get or, worse, doesn’t care about the responsibility that comes with that? That’s scary.

The other annoying thing about this whole did he/didn’t he two step is that it completely ignores what he said a little bit later:

“If you – we can add I think the National Rifle Association, we can add the Second Amendment to the Justices – they almost go – in a certain way, hand in hand.”

THE NRA AND SCOTUS GO HAND IN HAND?!? WHAT. THE. FREAKING. FRACKING. FRICK.

(I can’t drop the actual F-bomb, yall. My Mom reads this!)

If you want to read a transcript of the whole speech, you can find it here. I don’t recommend it. I do recommend sending the transcriptionist a fruit basket, though, because wow. Wow. This isn’t word salad. This is a guy who is trying to make a word smoothie but never remembers to put the lid on the blender.

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Moar Politics? Okay!

Before I do anything else, I need to say THANK YOU to everybody who kicked in to help support my coverage of the Republican and Democratic primaries! Y’all are the greatest and helped make it possible to focus on the events instead of only being able to half listen while I churned out other work.  THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

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In case anybody was wondering, I’m not going to stop covering this election. I’m going to continue tweeting it and, scary as it is, blogging it. That’s right. I’m going to be sharing my opinions on the Internet. Yes, I want to hide under my bed and away from my laptop until this urge passes. BUT I WON’T. This election is too important and the shenaniganry indulged in by those twin barge fires who prefer to be called The Trump Campaign and the (Militant) Bernie or Busters (I not-so-affectionately call them “Uber Boobers”) there is a f*ck-ton of misinformation being slung around and taken as gospel. I’m sick of it. I have VIEWS, people. EDUCATED AND INFORMED VIEWS.

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I’m still working out the catch-all hashtag for the general election. I was going with #Election2016 but the US isn’t the only country having elections this year so that could get confusing. #USElection2016 feels too clunky. Eh, I’ll figure it out soonish. In the meantime, if you want to avoid the heck out of all of my political stuff, you should mute any/all of the following hashtags:

#HillaryClinton
#DonaldTrump
#BernieorBust
#GOP
#DNC
#RNC
#POTUS
#SCOTUS
#US Congress
#US Senate

I’ll do my best to hashtag everything, but if I miss something, definitely let me know!

And if you want to follow or keep up with my coverage, follow me here and on Twitter (@snarke)!

And now for some actual coverage/reporting. No, it isn’t about Donald Trump wigging out over the Khan family. Instead, I thought I’d start with something positive! Yay! Positivity! Woo!

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Earlier today, Warren Buffet endorsed and introduced Hillary Clinton at a political rally in his home district (Nebraska’s 2nd). But that’s not all he did! First, he used actual math and real numbers to talk about how the top earners got there and why “trickle down” economics is a big fat scam (okay fine, I’m calling it a big fat scam. He was far more measured and eloquent). This is not something that usually happens at these rallies. Wages, inflation, deficits, etc. tend to get talked about in vague estimations. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody actually use the acronym “GDP” correctly at a political rally before. I hope this is becomes a trend.

Then, because using actual facts at a political rally wasn’t revolutionary enough, Buffet used the rally to officially launch Drive2Vote.org.

Drive2Vote is a fantastic website. In addition to providing information about how people can register to vote, the site serves as a portal that matches up people who will have a hard time getting to their polling places on election day and volunteers who want to help them out by giving them a ride. Warren Buffet said that he has pledged to offer rides to *at least* 10 people on election day. And then he made a couple of jokes about selfies.

Currently, Drive2Vote.org is focused solely on Nebraska’s 2nd District (which could very well being the deciding district of the 2016 election). But when I asked about the potential for it’s expansion to other districts/states, a representative of the organization said in an email, “Our initiative is specific to Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. I’m sure Warren would want to encourage others throughout the country to do the same!”

That’s right. I emailed a representative for comment on a story. I feel like a real reporter now!

 

 

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