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.

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.”