The Coverage of the Congressional Town Hall Meetings is Lousy

As one who is angered by the new president’s deforming reality daily to suit his purposes while also blaming the media for creating “fake news,” I feel even more anger today at the the liberal media for the poor job it is doing covering the raucous Republican congressional town meetings being held this week.  In short, I’m accusing them of creating some fake news.

It seems they have decided on a story line and are sticking to it.    Much of the attention is paid to the anger shown by “constituents” while drawing an analogy to the Tea Party anger expressed in 2009 and after.  And TV pundits rehash these events suggesting the Republican party should take notice of “constituent” discontent as it might impact future elections as it did in Tea Party halcyon days.

What baloney.   I put “constituents” in quotes because it is a cover for not really analyzing the make up of these crowds.   Who are these people at these events, especially the outspoken angry ones?  I would bet most  expressing anger didn’t vote for Trump and the fervent Trump backers who would counter that anger with their own didn’t bother to show up because they won.   Look for them at later town meetings if they come to have buyer’s remorse.

So if this is primarily a crowd of angry democrats yelling at Republican congressmen, where’s the news value?   It is not news.  It is what one might expect given the organizing powers on both left and right these days.

While it might be a first, I agree with much of a Trump tweet, the one on Tuesday saying:   “The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!”  The anger is not so-called but real but the protests wouldn’t look similar if there were not similar elements of organizing.  Don’t know what Trump’s  “sad” about, but what makes me sad is the shallow level of journalistic coverage, especially of the TV variety.

I suggest that a deep look would reveal there isn’t much here to look at.   Maybe I’m wrong but would like to be proven so by some real research as opposed to the puff impressionistic pieces I’ve seen.

I’ve done quite a bit of surfing of the internet and can’t find a single piece that really tries to analyze the composition of one of these town meetings or exactly who helped organize the collective response.   As to the latter point, at least some organizational agents are occasionally mentioned, like Indivisible, which provides such things as instructions for organizing anti-Trump efforts.   With cell phones and organizational guidance on the net, getting a protest effort together against Trump doesn’t need many if any paid activists.

To repeat, what I see at these protests is an outpouring of anti-Trump anger mostly from those people, like me,  who didn’t vote for him.  So where’s the news?

As to the analogy to the rise and impact of the Tea Party, it doesn’t hold up.   The Tea Party grew through its efforts to push the Republican Party to the right.   While they were angry at Obama, they were also angry at their own representatives, many of whom they managed to “get primaried”, i.e. replaced by their own candidates.

The protesters at these Republican town halls aren’t going to impact the party at large because they aren’t Republicans for the most part.   Whatever influence they’ll have will be on their own party.

Trump disgusts me, but one major reason for that is because he is such a bull shitter, the last thing I want in a president.   I hate B. S., even more so when it comes from sources I respect for the most part.

Journalists:  Do your effing job!

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Donald Trump and the Possibility that Rachel Ray had an Affair with Jay Z

SOME POLITICAL NEWS AND THEN TO THE GOOD STUFF:

Recent breaking news:  Have you heard that the Cruz and Kasich camps have struck up sort of non-compete clause aimed at preventing Donald Trump from achieving the needed 1237 to win the first ballot at the party convention?  For example, in the Indiana primary a week from tomorrow, Kasich won’t actively compete in hopes that Cruz can win this largely winner take all state.  If both battled for the 57 delegates Trump would be more likely to win them all.  And similar deals are projected for other states down the line.

(The deal seems to have been made too late to affect the handful of primaries conducted tomorrow in the Northeast, where Trump is favored all over the place.)

Returning to the theme of gut level vs. mind level voting choices raised in my last post, the New York Times has an article titled:  Cruz-Kasich Deal Means a Much Better Chance to Stop Trump.  It does a good job of showing how this deal gives those two camps a better shot to deny Trump reaching the necessary delegate vote tally in the first ballot.

It’s convincingly rational, but leaves out the possibility that many Cruz and Kasich supporters might decide this is going too far, that Trump is right about the system being rigged and they will either not vote in the primary or vote for Trump.

(Here’s the link to the article:  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/cruz-kasich-deal-means-a-much-better-chance-to-stop-trump/ar-BBsdYIS?ocid=spartanntp


DID RACHEL RAY HAVE AN AFFAIR WITH JAY Z?

Every time I turn on my computer with the idea of doing some research I first have to resist the temptation of all those tabloid hooks like:  30 gorgeous stars who are now obese….or  15 drone photos that will leave you speechless.   I usually succumb to one or two then get to research after battling tiresome pop ups and misleading links, etc.

Today’s grab was a piece about Rachel Ray being lambasted on social media for having had an affair with Jay Z as interpreted from a lyric in a Beyoncé song just released.   The social media beehive have been stinging Ray to death …. “That 30-minute-meal-making home wrecker who loves posting photos of her sexy … artichoke burgers?”

But now it appears it is a Rachel Roy, whoever that is, who is being accused as the culprit and I’m inclined to agree with that analysis just because they show photos and I think she’s prettier.  But for the record I have no idea what the truth is in any of it.

I just know it was spicy gossip and I was hungry for a little, and as often the case it left me feeling a bit depressed about our society and myself.

In a way I have yet to crystalize, this little confession typifies the tabloidization of American life, a steady diet of the outrageous and shocking and scary tied to an evolution and dissemination of twisted truths.  In ancient times, i. e. pre-internet and pre-social media, about the only time I glanced at tabloid news was paging through a National Enquirer in the check out line at a super market.

And back then the stories were pretty easy to see through and smile at such as “Chimp’s Head Put on a Human Body.”  Now I must hack my way through the come-on’s like a jungle explorer and obviously get entangled on occasion, seldom ever glad I did.

What’s all this have to do with Trump?  Our thirst for entertainment has come to shape much of our lives and now it is largely shaping our political process.   Trump is winning because he is an entertainer, but an especially gifted one, a Svengali capable of mesmerizing us, at least as compared to the other politicians who are, for the most part predictable, hence boring.

More than his skill at tapping our fears and resentments, it is Trump’s capacity to be unpredictable and outrageous that draws our interest and keeps us wanting more, like an ongoing series of tabloid articles or a TV reality show.

Ted Cruz thought he was taking Trump to task recently by calling him a “phony”, but Trump trumps such charges because he has turned political phoniness into a game of TV Survivor.  He readily admits that his successful character attacks on his opponents are mostly just clever ways to knock them out of the game and that basically he likes them all. It’s just how you play the game and he not only wants to win but for us to see and appreciate his ingenuity.

He has told us over and over again that he is a winner, been able to point to his assembled fortune for starters, and then translated that winning into the politicial sphere before our eyes, employing a more effective brand of phoniness than his opponents like a winner in Survivor would.

His challenge after he gets the Republican nomination will be not only to persuade most Republicans to vote for him, along with so-called Reagan Democrats, but also come up with more winning moves that are sufficiently unpredictable and outrageous, i. e. entertaining, to make us want to watch the show for the fall season.

ONE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING DONALD TRUMP

Yes, I am back to Donald Trump.   Not because of him exactly but because of what his success in this presidential primary so far says about us.  Not that I  know, but the question intrigues me.

What I do know is how off base I was when I dismissed him simply as an attention craving “clown” in a post last July.   My excuse is that he appeared clownish during the last presidential race when he insisted that Barack Obama may well have been born in Kenya.   All I could see then was an attention monger who was willing to do or say anything to attract more of the spotlight.   Given events since then, I surmise there is much more than met my eye.  Back then I thought it easy to understand Trump.  Now it has become a project.

Though I have never read it, I imagine Trump’s The Art of the Deal gets to the heart of how he operates.   When negotiating a deal you don’t begin with what you are willing to accept (unless you are Barack Obama).  You begin far short of that, so you have room to bargain.   I view Trump’s demand to deport all illegal immigrants to be his starting point for a deal.  If the Donald were to be elected president he would start there and work his way to a more reasonable alternative.

If he then accomplished immigration reform he would admit:  You think I would actually try to deport 11 million people?  That’s crazy.

The people who seem to know him best insist that Donald is really smart and he has obviously been very successful.  I infer from that he does not believe Barack Obama was born in Kenya, nor does he plan to deport millions and build a huge wall.  I  look back at the birther issue and wonder whether it was a trial balloon to see what would happen if he asserted something outrageous and stuck with it.  What he got was lots of media attention and the beginning of a base of political support.   What I saw as clownish, he saw as field testing.

In making his birther argument Trump often indicated he had people investigating the matter and discovering information that raised questions as to where Obama was born.   If he ever produced a shred of evidence, I missed it.   He was testing the media and they failed the test.   He could say whatever he wanted and it would be covered not confronted.   Employing that technique he has taken a political race and turned it into a bigger reality TV hit than his Apprentice.

As he reminds us  daily, he’s what is drawing the big TV audiences for the Republican debates.   Now the star wants to dictate to the debate organizers some new terms otherwise he will boycott.  For example, he wants the channels to donate some of their profits on the show to charities.  Or he walks.

How good is that?  It is a show of both strength and heart, very attractive traits in a president.  Add to those traits the sheer fact that he has parlayed what initially seemed like a joke to many  into a front running primary campaign.   In short, he tells us he is a winner and up to now he is demonstrating it.

By now you may think that I’m doing a lot of speculating, even if you can appreciate my points.  Here’s something more concrete.

Years ago, I can’t recall when, in an interview with Larry King, Trump revealed a key to his make up.  King noted Donald often seemed to get the edge when interacting with others and asked how he did it.  Trump’s response was something like this:  Before I go there, Larry, has anyone ever said you have terrible breath?   Really Larry, I mean it. I’m not trying to be mean but it really is terrible and I am surprised you don’t know.”

Years later I saw Trump on TV dissecting the exchange, pointing out that the terrible breath comment was him demonstrating to King how he got the edge on others.  I think King missed his point.

Now I think it is the rest of us who don’t get the picture.  While his responses aren’t the usual poll tested political pablum that irritates us (mostly the reverse actually) , they are not exactly authentic, either.  Ben Carson and Bernie Sanders are authentic.  They speak their minds and have been saying the same sorts of things for years.

Trump, on the other hand, has said various things over the years and, since the media never presses for details (such acts could make the star boycott them), I have no idea what he really thinks.  All I know is that he has impressed me with his ability to fashion a political race into the THE DONALD SHOW.

I now think of him as more of a Svengali than a clown.  And he looks like a winner until proven otherwise.

Unfortunate March Madness Post Game Comments: Just F-ing Foget Abaat It.

A big deal has been made by the media of comments by Kentucky player Andrew Harrison after losing to Wisconsin Saturday and then by Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan after losing in the final game yesterday to Duke.   My aim in this post is to make them smaller deals.

Starting with Harrison.  If you haven’t heard, in their post-loss press conference, a question was asked of another Kentucky player about the challenge posed by Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky, at which time Harrison was caught on a mike saying:  “F….that N-word”  (not exactly, but you get the picture).

That was an example of poor sportsmanship, just as when he and his brother and another Kentucky player or two went straight to the locker room without shaking hands.  But it got such attention because he used the N-word, which is as we all know, radioactive.

Let’s put this in context.  Not only did Kentucky just lose its chance to be arguably called the best college team of all time, it did so to a bunch of white boys, or at least predominantly so.  To paraphrase the great Larry Byrd from years ago:  This is a  “black man’s game” and I’m just trying to fit in.  True now more than ever.  That multiplied the agony of defeat.  How could this happen?  Harrison wanted a target for his frustration and Frank the tank provided a big target.

And he used the N-word because that’s common trash talk in black urban settings.  When you think about it, it’s odd for him to use it on a white guy.  But what was he supposed to mutter:  F ….that big, dumb Polock?   I don’t think he knew quite what he was saying.  He was still in a game frame of mind, disappointed as hell and muttering trash and it was caught on a mike.

OK, Harrison acted a pouty brat, but to lose the chance at eternal glory to a bunch of white boys?  You  think Harrison and his teammates are ever going to stop hearing about this, ever?  Later Harrison called Kaminski and apologized and Frank accepted it and said it was not a big deal.  I’ll take Frank’s word for it.

Moving on to Bo Ryan.  He too was experiencing the agony of defeat when complaining about the refereeing, but his big misstatement was to use the term “rent-a-players” referring to the phenomenon of the most talented kids playing only one year and then going to the pros.  They are also called “one and doners”, a term Ryan usually uses to suggest the difference between his program and other top ones, most notably Kentucky, but Duke employed that strategy this year, too, obviously with great success.  The agony of defeat does not put one in a good mood, so Ryan used the more pejorative “rent-a-player” metaphor.

So what?   It seems clear from previous interviews that he’d take a one-and-doner if that player would fit into his system, but that’s unlikely and Bo’s not going to shape his system around the one-and-doners, like Calipari does so brilliantly at Kentucky and Coach K as well at Duke.   Ryan and his staff have been great at developing players, something that would have been more highly regarded years ago, but now not so much in our climate of winning is everything.  At moments Bo probably feels a bit bitter about that, and when would that be more likely than just after losing a rare chance to be national champion?  Doing it “the right way.”

So, once again the media makes big deals out of little ones.  Surprise, surprise.

But I have to admit that is not all bad.   In trying to develop my own opinion on the two media “events,” I ran across a thoughtful discussion on the nuances of race talk between a white sports show host and a black former football player.

I think it would be worth seven minutes of your time.  You can check it out here.

Jon Stewart, the Great Coffee Cup Scandal and the Phonies at FOX

Probably you have already  seen the clip from the Daily Show a few days ago regarding the  feigned outrage at FOX  “news” regarding President Obama saluting a Marine with a coffee cup in his hand.  But it is just so brilliant I have to link you to it in a minute just in case  you missed it.

Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Watching cable news is probably an unhealthy addiction I have, especially as FOX tends to disgust me in its coverage while MSNBC has irritated me more and more over the years as they have become more and more  FOX’s polar opposite.

Many there are more liberal cheerleader than journalist.  They have a slogan  “lean forward.”  and call themselves  “progressives”  and often act as if one who questions their thinking is regressive.

As you might guess, I have gravitated to watching CNN more than the other two simply because they irritate me least.

But as irritated as I sometimes get with MSNBC, they do not prompt disgust like  FOX does, though I hadn’t clarified exactly why until Jon Stewart made the picture crystal clear the other night.

It is the phoniness at FOX that gets me beginning with the claim to be “fair and balanced” in their coverage.   Hah!  In the clip you are about to see, Stewart shows how phony Fox news people can be when appearing  outraged.   The folks at MSNBC at least seem honestly angry.  They are biased but not shills like so many at FOX.

In the desire of FOX management to fault President Obama for as much as they can, their puppet news people seem scripted with talking points.   The other day one of the points must have been:  Hammer Obama for showing disrespect to the troops by saluting a Marine with a coffee cup in his hand.

But enough of my reactions.    Enjoy the brilliant Mr. Stewart pop some phony wind bags at FOX via this  connection through the the Daily Kos.

Is the K-Mart “Show Your Joe” Commercial Naughty or Nice?

(Occasionally I get as sick as most people about contemplating the nature of our national governmental gridlock, informational deformations and related horrifying topics and want to write about something more fun.   I haven’t done it often, but for the sake of my sanity, I want to do it more.  Harnessing the Power of Boobs, written months ago, is an example of that, and below is another.  They will be available under the Categories section to the left under:  Americana).

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“Naughty or nice” might not be exactly the right contrast, but if you’ve seen the K-Mart Show Your Joe commercial you get the point.   It has prompted an uproar by some while others, like myself, have seen it as uproarious, i. e. rollicking.   The ad has gone viral and it seems to me a majority find it clever and amusing rather than distasteful or disgusting.  It is shown at the bottom of this post, so you can decide for yourselves.

My sensibilities were formed as a kid in the 1950s, which makes me a comparative prude now.   For example, I find the prominence of the “F” word in almost every sentence uttered and all the “potty mouth” humor in comedies these days to be an irritatingly sad substitute for cleverness and wit, unless of course I laugh my ass off as was the case with:  Something About Mary, which was clever and witty in contrast, let’s say, to the Hangover movies, which lack much of either.   But I digress…

Now let me respond to a few of the negative comments found on the K-Mart site, which includes positive ones as well if you care to look.

Outraged respondent #1 “Swinging testicles in front of impressionable kids is not my idea of a family store. Goodbye Kmart and Sears.”

My Response:   Check the ad again below.  There are no testicles  shown a swinging, just as there are no lords a leaping.  You know they’re there, but the kids young enough to be really “impressionable” are not likely to think that way. They just see guys moving their hips in keeping with the music.  If they “get the joke” they are no longer  so impressionable.   Funny or not, it is no big deal.

Outraged respondent #2, a woman who saw the commercial with her 14 year old daughter:   “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and what you were implying,” she wrote. “Very disrespectful to your overall audiences, sad what you do for a sale or publicity. You lost my sales this year.”

My Response:  Just what were they implying?  That there are specifically male parts beneath those shorts that jiggle when not sufficiently strapped down?  That those parts might be playfully viewed as instruments to play Jingle Balls, er, Bells?  (*1)  You think that is a revelation or shock to your 14 year old daughter?  Are you Amish watching TV at a Mennonite friend’s house?

Has your daughter no access to the internet or to friends with access to the internet?  Clearly you have not gotten around to the birds and bees conversation.   You wouldn’t be so embarrassed if you had.   But bring it up with  your daughter and I’ll bet  she’ll say:  “I know, mom, I know.  Can we talk about something else?”  Again, no big deal, unless, mom, you want to press the point.

Really outraged respondent #3:   “Seriously DISGUSTING!!! MAKING a MOCKERY of a Holiday. Proof shows that retailers care nothing about the holiday & just the $ of the bottom line. Just close up shop now. Won’t be shopping neither here nor Sears.”

My Response:  I agree, there is much disgusting about the “holiday season” becoming essentially a matter of making money under a shallow veneer of traditional Christmas spirit.  Even the Black Friday dike holding back shopping frenzy to Thanksgiving night is almost completely eroded now.   And the Christmas creep of commercialism reaches us sooner each year.   I noticed traces of xmas paraphernalia in the stores in early October.   September can’t be too far away in the future of Christmas.

But in terms of the commercial, so what?  You are disgusted by what is going through your mind watching the commercial, not what is actually shown.  The commercial is like a double entendre in speech, with two meanings, one of them  sexual, albeit in this case barely so.  The title is a double entendre, adding to the list of names the penis has been given over the centuries.  To Dick, Peter and Willy, add Joe.   But as long as it is subtly so, it is part of a longstanding tradition of humor and OK by me.

Like beauty, bad taste is in the eye of the beholder.   The naughtiness you outraged sorts are feeling is a product of your own minds not what can be seen in the commercial.  My advice:

Get your minds out of the gutter.

And have a Merry Christmas.

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(*1) By the way, had they used rather than implied Jingle Balls”, had gone from implied to blatant, the ad would cross the line separating funny and offensive to me.).

Obama Scandal: More Smoke than Fire?

A pitchfork next to a compost bin.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week feels a long time ago.  I had an image  of villagers with torches and pitchforks marching on the home of Dr. Frankenstein, a.k.a. Barack Obama.  And I was among them, right behind Jon Stewart.   Reading an article by Jonathan Chait since then has prompted me to put my pitch fork down.

“Scandal is a powerful, yet weirdly amorphous term of art in politics. Conceptually, the division between a scandal and a mere controversy or flub or policy dispute is hard to define.  It required a peculiar sequencing of events to transform what would on their own have been normal political controversies into the nebulous, all-encompassing Obama Scandals.”

Chait then breaks down the sequence of events that mixed together was like combining nitro and glycerin in terms of exploding scandals.   The chain reaction was initiated by a news report Friday, May 10 about Benghazi emails that was soon looked upon as sloppy reporting, but by then a scandalous mood had taken hold and its flames were fueled by revelations about  I. R. S. and Justice Department behavior that was questionable at the very least (*1).

Of course, Republicans immediately jumped to the conclusion of administration wrong doing to a Watergate degree with impeachment at the top of their agendas, this before their multiple Congressional investigations had really gotten underway.   Ever hear of the legal theory of  “let’s execute him first and then give him a fair trial?”

Now, besides that piece of bad reporting on Benghazi, there is reporting on the workings of the I. R. S. which sums up the source of the wrongdoing not as White House intimidation, but as “little guidance from D. C. and a flood of new non-profits…(that)…left an office overwhelmed,”   according to the L. A. Times (*2).  Of the three “scandals,”  the gathering of phone records from the Associated Press seems the most serious, but when you hear Republicans spouting out about an attack on First Amendment rights try to recall that it was Republicans who most stridently decried the leaks in the Obama administration and how they must be investigated, i. e. these rock throwers live in glass houses.

That is not to say there is nothing in the “trifecta of trouble” that merits investigation.  We just don’t know where it all will lead.   But for now it seems there might be a lot less fire and more smoke than appeared last week.   Smoke dissipates and when it does you often see the sun.   Way to early to tell, but the summer might not be as overcast for Democrats as it seemed.

Read Chait’s  The Strange Case of the Obama Scandals  and the pieces referenced below and decide for yourselves.

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(*1)  The May 10 news report on Benghazi emails that initiated the aroma of scandal soon to become a stench was made by ABC’s Jonathan Karl.  As one media critic put it:  “At best it is extremely sloppy” reporting.    Here’s an analysis from Media Matters.

(*2)  The L A Times article was on the front page last Sunday.   Today in the Washington Post Richard Cohen sheds further light on an overwhelmed I. R. S. bureaucracy in Cincinatti who wound up questioning more conservative applications because most of the applications overwhelming them were from conservative groups.