Media

Trying New Things

One of my biggest issues with our current socio/political environment is just how f*cking fast everything happens. I’m working on a few larger stories but in the meantime on this here blog? Even the crickets have gotten bored and moved on.

This, as you all already know, really bugs me. I’m super active on Twitter but when it comes to sitting down and taking the time to type out more than 140 characters at a time? Somehow that never ends up happening. I mean, if I’m writing I might miss a breaking development! There are, like, half a dozen a day now! I have to keep up!

Okay, look: I know I really don’t. And I’m working on cutting the cable news cord a little bit at a time. It’s sort of like trying to cut through a super well-done steak with a plastic spoon but I’m trying.

…I feel like there could be a super witty marrying of that simile and the spoon theory but I probably won’t think of it until about an hour after I hit publish on this.

Last night I realized that, like so many projects I take on, I am making all this way harder than it needs to be. I’m stressing out about creating original content on Twitter. And original content on Medium. And original content here.

WTF, Self. Why not just work once, post thrice?

One of my current favorite Twitterers (Tweeters?) is @AlexandraErin (and if you’re not following her you really need to fix that. She’s amazing). She writes primarily on Twitter, creating these awesome threads full of insight and information. Sometimes she writes long-form too but she’s very open about her preference for Twitter.

I spend most my time on Twitter too, but I’m also very conscious of the fact that Twitter is not everybody’s jam. So, I’m going to try something out for the next couple of weeks: I’m going to try creating posts out of the things I tweet. Sometimes it will be pretty basic, like what you’re about to see. Other times I might add some context, summation, long-form friendly stuff. I don’t really know yet. Let’s see how this goes first. Ready?

Here is my Twitter coverage of today’s White House Daily Briefing via Storify because I wanted to try that out and see how it went.

 

 

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.

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.