Reporters Can’t See the Big Fat Orange Forest

My most harsh criticism of modern journalism is that coverage almost always misses the larger forest by focusing so intensely on each of the trees.

It’s called turn-of-the-screw journalism. It goes like this. This happened and then this happened and he said this and she said and this happened. When you consume that news you learn about various bits of news.

I was listening to On Point today. They were discussing the Iran nuclear, the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem and possible sanctions against European allies over the Iran deal.

It was the host and a couple of journalists. One was from the conservative Weekly Standard and the other I think was from the New Yorker. So they had balance on the show, right? The supposedly “liberal” New Yorker reporter and the conservative from the Weekly Standard.

If I may digress, right there is a flawed setup. The so-called “liberal” journalist on the panel is actually just someone working as a journalist. So she was just approaching these individual stories with measured, unbiased analysis. The guy from the Weekly Standard clearly presented himself in defense of Trump and the conservative agenda.

However, my problem with the entire On Point segment was that it merely ticked off various stories of the day involving Trump. The discussion largely centered around whether Trump won domestically on the issue or not.

When the panel discussed moving the embassy to Jerusalem, they all agreed that this was Trump succeeding. Both journalists seemed to agree that Trump was able to do something that no other president has been able to do. Trump campaigned on it, and so moving the embassy was a winner for him.

It didn’t matter that dozens of people were killed and thousands wounded. Trump was following through on a campaign promise. There was no discussion as to why previous presidents chose to not move the embassy. Presumably, those presidents had reasons for not moving the embassy, it wasn’t merely that they had failed.

On the Iran deal, the panel seemed to suggest that Trump was the winner here as well because he had promised to blow up the Iran deal. I think it was the guy from the Weekly Standard who casually said that Iran’s nuclear program will continue, but it didn’t seem to matter about pulling out of the deal. While the reporter from the New Yorker acknowledged that now the likelihood of violence between Israel and Iran has increased, it’s basically all jacked up over there anyways.

The panel all agreed that Trump’s threats about sanctioning our European allies who have not bailed on the Iran deal was just Trump bluster. In the end, the panel agreed that Trump would not really sanction European allies. Why they thought that about Trump wasn’t really explained other than they thought sanctions would be totally outside of norms. Yet, they just spent the previous 10 minutes talking about how Trump doesn’t follow norms, but I digress again.

These discussions never widen the lens. It’s all very micro journalism and it plays perfectly into Trump’s hyper-transactional style. All he cares about is winning on this or that issue on that given day. And so this sort of reporting about Trump makes him appear much more successful than he perhaps actually is as president.

If we pull back the lens a bit and look at all of these stories, we can examine them through the lens of Russia and Vladimir Putin. By doing so, a different picture emerges.

For example, which of our allies wanted us to pull out of the international agreement with Iran? None of them did, but Putin did.

Who thinks imposing sanctions on our European allies after WE bailed on the Iran deal is a good idea? Putin thinks it’s a great idea.

Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem was just something Trump had the power to do, so he just did it. He didn’t care about the ramifications of that decision beyond his joy of hearing a liberal reporter slap him on the back on NPR.

But looking through the wide angle journalism lens, you can see that each of the policies has achieved one common goal. That goal is to isolate the United States from our allies in Europe and weaken the US internationally. Because to Putin, that US/Europe alliance is far more powerful than Russia could ever imagine. But a fractured Europe and an isolated US? That’s a world where Russia can compete.

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans Think Angels are Real


Sometimes, when one looks at politics in America, it’s easy to think, “What the hell? Why are Americans so stupid?”

Why are Americans stupid? I actually don’t know. I have some theories, but there’s no doubt about it that Americans are stupid.

More than one poll has shown that nearly 80 percent of Americans believe that angels are real.

In 2011, an Associated Press poll found that 77 percent of Americans think angels exist. This poll corroborates a 2006 poll that pegged American belief in angels at 81 percent.

A vast majority of Americans believe that there are creatures who look like humans, but with wings.

That’s weird.

March For Our Lives: March 24 in Washington DC


Have you ever thought, “I’m tired of one mass shooting after another and the slaughtering of innocent people while our representative government does jack squat. I want to do something”?

Well, now you can.

Get your butt to Washington DC on March 24 for the “March For Our Lives” rally.

The brave young people from Parkland, Florida who suffered through the latest mass shooting are saying, “Never again.” And they’re not just saying it, they’re doing something about it.

It’s OUR DUTY to support these young people up and show them that we have their backs. We need a million or more people to overwhelm DC with a march like they haven’t seen since Martin Luther King in 1963.

It’s fine to use social media to vent, to organize, to socialize, but to make real change, you need to get out there and do something. This is our chance to say, “No more gun violence.”

March for our Lives
Moms Demand Action

Surviving a Terrorist Attack

They’re not always called terrorist attacks, but what happens regularly at schools, churches, movies theaters or workplaces are terrorist attacks. The guy who attacked the high school in Florida is a terrorist. That other guy who murdered those people in that church, he’s a terrorist too. The Nazi who rammed his car into the crowd of innocent people in Charlottesville, he nearly killed me and he did murder Heather Heyer, he’s a terrorist.

But the story that doesn’t often get told is that of those who were attacked by a terrorist and lived. Obviously the focus is rightly centered on those who were killed or injured, but the damage done to those who survived is significant and it impacts far more people than the number of casualties indicate.

Since Charlottesville, my life has been different.

Just this last weekend, I walked in the Chinese New Year parade in DC with my daughter. I could not stop scanning the crowds. I kept a close eye on all windows facing our direction. I took notice of any white men who were alone or didn’t seem pleased to be there at the parade. Even though I knew I was being irrational, that there was nothing to be afraid of, I just couldn’t help it.

Now contrast that to just one year ago, before Charlottesville. I was in DC on the day of Trump’s inauguration. The following day, I attended the Women’s March with my daughter. Not once, not ever, did I ever fear for my safety or my daughter’s. Now nearly every time I leave the house with the kids, I feel anxious about it. Now every time I’m in a crowd of people, I feel like we’re a potential target.

And so all of those kids who attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, they are ALL victims. They ALL will be different people now than they were before the shooting. The trauma will vary from student to student, but every single one of those students must know that it’s OK to be afraid. The idea that things will work out has been shattered. It’s OK to think thoughts that are logically irrational. Time may never heal these wounds, but you can learn to live a happy, healthy life.

It’s important to recognize in your life things that are different than things were before. For instance, I’m a pretty together sort of person, but about a week ago, I felt this ever-present sense of overwhelming dread. I didn’t know why, but it was there. I recognized it, I spoke about it to people who care about me and it passed. If you’re a victim of one these heinous attacks, don’t ignore the things in your life that are different. Accept that things will be different now, and talk to people and tell them honestly how you feel.

What Really Happened to Sandra Bland

When Sandra Bland died in police custody in Texas, I said, “This is it. This is the case that’s going blow the lid off of police brutality against black people.”

Bland was killed on July 13, 2015. I was wrong.

The official report says that Bland had killed herself. That she hanged herself in her cell with a plastic bag. Obvious first question, why did she have a plastic bag in her cell?

The Texas Department of Public Safety initially released an obviously edited version of Bland’s traffic stop. The DPS got caught on that and released another version of it.

In the video, Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia pulled Bland over because she allegedly failed to use her turn signal. While interacting with Bland, Encinia repeatedly violated her rights.

First Encinia told Bland to put out her cigarette. She refused, stating that she was in her car and she doesn’t need to put out her cigarette. Bland was correct. Encinia then told her to get out of the car because he was arresting her for not following a lawful order. Bland refused and demanded to know why she was being arrested. Bland was correct in asking that question multiple times. Encinia’s commands were not lawful.

As Encinia got more agitated, he threatened to taser her if she didn’t get out of the car. That’s an improper use of a taser. Tasers are NOT supposed to be used for “pain compliance” – that’s called torture. If a suspect is not following orders, and the officer doesn’t feel they can handle it, they call for backup.

Encinia unlawfully physically pulled Bland from her vehicle and slammed her hard onto the ground. Video of the incident shows Bland screaming and crying.

So Bland was illegally arrested and thrown in a jail cell. Her rights were violated numerous times during this entire ordeal. Then on July 13, Bland was found dead in her cell. According to police, they have video of the jail cell and do not show anyone going in or out. Unfortunately, the cops in Texas had already published a doctored dash cam video of the incident, so their credibility is garbage, plus, they’re the suspects in her death.

A neighboring county forensic investigator said that the story the Waller County Sheriffs Department was telling was inconsistent with the facts regarding the condition of Bland’s body. Also, there’s a discrepancy in when Waller County guards said they observed Bland in her cell and the video of her cell. It’s a discrepancy of an hour that is unaccounted for.

Bland’s family did get a cash settlement for $1.9 million. Well, her mother was awarded that amount, it’s not clear she has received it yet. But her daughter is dead and the police couldn’t stop lying about what happened and justice for her apparent murder was not been served.

Encinia was charged with perjury over this case. The charge was dismissed if he agreed to never work in law enforcement ever again.

Bland’s birthday is February 7, 1987. She would have been 31 this year.

Happy Birthday Trayvon Martin

Trayvon MartinTrayvon Martin was born on February 5, 1995 in Miami, Florida to Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin.

When Trayvon was 9 years old, he saved his father’s life. His father was immobilized by burns to his legs, and Trayvon pulled him out of a burning apartment.

By all accounts, Trayvon had a pretty normal life. He liked sports video games. To make money, he washed cars, babysat and mowed lawns. Trayvon’s football coach said he was one of the best players on the team.

Like most teenagers, Trayvon appeared to go through a rebellious period. He was smoking weed and acting out at school. Pretty much what happens to 90 percent of teenagers in high school.

On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman murdered him. Trayvon was walking alone back from a convenient store when Zimmerman took notice of him. Zimmerman apparently stalked the teenager. At some point, the two eventually confronted each other. It seems like Trayvon was rightly beating Zimmerman’s ass for being a creep when Zimmerman pulled out a gun and murdered Trayvon. Zimmerman, a coward, claimed self-defense, despite the fact that Zimmerman never should have been bothering Trayvon.

How one can claim self-defense when it is they who are following someone else and causing problems, is messed up.

Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter charges.

Justice for Trayvon was not served.

In the media aftermath of Trayvon’s murder, a lot was made of the fact that he was wearing a hoodie when Zimmerman murdered him.

Trayvon liked to wear hoodies.

His aunt had joked that “it could be 100 degrees outside and he always had his hoodie on.”

Steve Wynn Political Campaign Contributions

Steve Wynn

Steve Wynn

Republicans lambasted Democrats for accepting campaign contributions from Harvey Weinstein. But now that one of the GOP’s top donors and money guys has been ensnared in the #MeToo movement, I’m not hearing the same lambasting from Republicans about campaign contributions from Wynn.

Here’s a list of some of Wynn’s political contributions over the years. According to this data pulled from OpenSecrets.org, Wynn has donated to both Democrats and Republicans, but Republicans got more from him than Democrats.

Date Amount Candidate/Organization
07-07-1998 $1,000 Steve Lonegan (R)
09-29-2000 $20,000 Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte (D)
02-23-2004 $1,000 National Leadership PAC (D)
04-20-2006 $2,000 Dawn Gibbons (R)
03-08-2007 $975 Mitt Romney (R)
05-02-2007 $1,000 Frank A LoBiondo (R)
07-06-2008 $250 National Education Assn
05-16-2011 $1,000 Mitt Romney (R)
06-29-2012 $250 Barack Obama (D)
04-17-2015 $2,700 Marco Rubio (R)
04-17-2015 $5,000 Reclaim America PAC (R)
04-22-2015 $2,700 Pat Toomey (R)
04-22-2015 $2,500 Pat Toomey (R)
09-17-2012 $2,000 Mitt Romney (R)
02-29-2016 $2,700 Rob Portman (R)
02-29-2016 $2,700 Rob Portman (R)
09-22-2016 $10,000 New Hampshire Republican State Cmte (R)
10-16-2016 $50 Evan Bayh (D)

This list shows that Wynn has given Democrats $21,300 since 2000. But there’s an odd $20,000 donation in 2000 to the DNC. In 2004, Wynn gave $1,000 to the National Leadership PAC. Without those two donations, he’s only given $300 to Democratic candidates. That includes one $250 donation to Barrack Obama in 2012, and $50 to Evan Bayh in 2016.

Rob Portman

Rob Portman

When it comes to Republicans though, Wynn was quite generous.

Just based on this data, Wynn has donated $36,275 to Republicans. Romney got a total of $3,975. Marco Rubio received one donation for $2,700. Pat Toomey got $5,200. US Senator Rob Portman, of Ohio, raked in the most from Wynn. Portman collected $10,600 from Wynn since 2015.