Journalism Kind of Sucks Now

Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton debating Feb. 4, 2016

Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton debating Feb. 4, 2016

Journalism sucks today. The failure of 21st century journalism is no more glaring than in national political reporting. It’s bad.

Take for instance this “news” story in the Washington Post today.

The “reporters” Karen Tumulty and Anne Gearan wrote this lede.

“Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, meeting Thursday night for their last debate before the New Hampshire primary, squared off fiercely on the question of whether the party should strive toward its liberal aspirations or set its sights on the achievable.”

In other words, Sanders is just a crazy socialist who won’t get anything done. Clinton is the realist putting out achievable policies. This is exactly what Clinton wants people to believe, and these journalists are playing their role in the selection of Clinton as the Democratic nominee.

There’s not one shred of evidence that Sanders can’t do what he says he will do. And there’s no reason to believe that Clinton will either do what she’s saying now nor whether she can achieve her goals as president. To report these as facts requires Tumulty and Gearan predict the future. As a journalist, if you find yourself making predictions, you need to either rethink what you’re doing or ask your editor to label your piece as analysis.

It’s bad journalism. It reinforces the Clinton narrative that she’s electable, that she’s the candidate who can get things done and that Sanders is a loony socialist. It’s pretty pathetic, because the Washington Post editors should know better.

History Gets it Wrong, at Least Salon’s Version

In a compelling story over at Salon about how rich people are screwing everyone else over to line their own pockets, they miss one key point that we must recognize if we’re going to avoid history repeating itself.

Salon reporter Sophia McClennen writes that “starting in the 1980s policymaking elites in the Western world were scared to death of oil shortages, inflationary spirals and the impact of jobs being shipped to lower-wage nations or made obsolete by increasingly powerful machines and computers. Something had to be done.”

McClennen’s assertion that policies passed in the 1980s were a direct result, or a response, to oil shortage and inflation is not accurate.

What happens in these situations, is that capitalists play on people’s fear and anxiety about events that capitalists probably put into play. So for instance, in the 1970s there was an oil shortage. I remember people lining up to get gas, everyone was worried gas prices were going to skyrocket and they wouldn’t be able to get to work. Also in the late 1970s there was really high inflation and that made people nervous.

When these events happen, capitalists pull on the strings of their puppets in DC to pass legislation and change regulatory rules. These actions are marketed to the people as solutions to the problems of oil shortages and inflation, but what they’re really doing is making it easier for capitalists to take more money from the economy then they were before the crises.

So it’s not as McClennen reports it, that these noble politicians were just doing what needed to be done in a time of great fear and uncertainty.

The rest of McClennen’s story is spot-on and I’m being a bit nit-picky here, but if we don’t recognize when we’re getting played, we’re going to keep getting played. It’s easy to look at the ramifications of the actions taken on behalf of capitalists, at the expense of everyone else, it’s another to ask, “How do we fix it? How do we avoid doing this again?”

The Party of Lincoln Is Dead

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio

I know, the party of Lincoln stopped being the party of Lincoln in the 1960s, but damn, the Republican party is spun out of orbit and it’s now cartwheeling uncontrollably through outer space.

It’s true that the gerrymandering and Koch brothers money has been effective at capturing state legislatures, governorships and a lot of US House seats. But when it comes to presidential politics, the party is screwed. Just look at these candidates. I thought it was bad in 2000 when George W. Bush won the nomination. I remember laughing when Bush won and thinking, “Gore will wax the floor with this moron’s ass.”

It didn’t work out that way and we ended with 8 years of terror attacks, retaliatory war, wars of choice and complete economic collapse. What did the party do next? They picked Sarah Palin to be John McCain’s vice president candidate. Had McCain won, Palin would still be in the White House today. Sarah “Effing” Palin a heartbeat away from becoming the president of the United States of America.

The Republican party did sort of get its head straightened out when Mitt Romney won the nomination and he chose Paul Ryan as his running mate. While I disagreed with Romney’s policies and his claim that 47 percent of Americans are a bunch of losers living off the dole, he wasn’t a moron or an ideologue. Romney lost because GOP voters don’t want educated, informed and thoughtful candidates. The Republican party wants Donald Trump. The GOP loved Palin. Republicans like people who say really crazy shit. The shit that sounds like what they’re saying to their friends at the local bar where they’re drinking “High Life” because they like it – they’re not trying to be hipster ironic.

With Trump positioned to capture the nomination, the party of Lincoln is long dead and buried, resting cold in it’s grave. The Republican party is now reality TV. How much longer before candidates are eating pig intestines or building pyramids out of toilet paper rolls?

Final State of Union Tonight: Look Back at President Barack Obama Inaugural Address January 20, 2009

President Barack Obama is scheduled to give his final State of the Union address tonight. For a look back, here’s what he said in his inaugural speech delivered on January 20, 2009.

Here’s the video. I’m not sure why it’s so shaky. I guess they didn’t have tripods back in 2009.

Here’s the full text of Obama’s inaugural address.

My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you’ve bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.

I thank President Bush for his service to our nation — (applause) — as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears and true to our founding documents.

So it has been; so it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many — and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met. (Applause.)

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation. But in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. (Applause.)

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor — who have carried us up the long rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops, and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip, and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died in places like Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions, greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. (Applause.)

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift. And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We’ll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched. But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity, on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good. (Applause.)

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers — (applause) — our Founding Fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man — a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake. (Applause.)

And so, to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that America is a friend of each nation, and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity. And we are ready to lead once more. (Applause.)

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we’ll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken — you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you. (Applause.)

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. (Applause.)

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. (Applause.)

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the role that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who at this very hour patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are the guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service — a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.
And yet at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. For as much as government can do, and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.

What is demanded, then, is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall; and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served in a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath. (Applause.)

So let us mark this day with remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At the moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words to be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive… that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America: In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

White Terrorists in Oregon, Why You So Stupid?

About a dozen white guys armed with machine guns took over a federal building in Oregon this weekend because it’s their land.

That’s what one of these armed radicals told the Guardian.

“This public land belongs to ‘we the people’,” he said. “We’ll be here enjoying the snow and the scenery.”

He said this while holding an assault weapon and refusing anyone access to this we-the-peoples public land.

I never understand what these guys are talking about. Like McVeigh when he blew up that federal building, what was his point? I get things like the Shays’ Rebellion, it was about economics (taxes and debt). But these guys in Oregon are taking over federal property because they think it belongs to them personally and they can do whatever they want, like deny access to other people? Dumb.

The other reason that these guys claim for taking over a visitors center in a bird sanctuary is that they’re pissed about a couple convicted arsonists going to prison. The arsonists are a father and son duo that was convicted and actually already served time for the crime. But a judge decided that their sentence was too short and has given them four more years in the clink.

They torched a bunch of federal land to cover up a poaching operation.

Or it’s because these guys think that this land really does belong to them.

Donald Trump Ties Pope Francis for Most Admired Man 2015

All hope is lost. Donald Trump has tied Pope Francis for 2nd most admired man behind President Barack Obama, according to a Gallop poll released today.

To admire is to regard a person with respect or warm approval.

Now look at this warm approval.

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It’s over.

While Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman, and has been for the last 14 years, and Obama crushed Trump, Trump tied Pope Francis for the number two most admired man – most admired man.

Obama got 17 percent and Trump pulled a measly 5 percent, but still, Trump tied Pope Francis for the number two most admired man.

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 2-6, 2015, with a random sample of 824 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Why Race Doesn’t Exist

On Twitter today I had a lengthy, and at times emotional discussion with some tweeps about race. My argument is that race doesn’t exist – sort of. The construct of race was invented by racists to divide people by color for the purpose of slavery, oppression and later to keep poor and working class white people focused on hating the “other” rather than seeing the real culprit – capitalists.

No one on Twitter today was buying it. Apparently people, black people in particular, don’t want to give up race as a social construct, and they don’t believe it’s an invention of white racists. My argument was seen as an attempt by a white person to delegitimize and diminish the plight of black people in America. I was, to them, essentially saying “All Lives Matter,” but I was not saying that. Racism does exist in America right now and black people are disproportionately victimized by it, but it does it have to be this way?

Here’s my point.

Racism can’t exist without race. Race can’t exist without racism. So let’s get rid of the notion of race. Does that mean black people have to stop being black people and white people should stop being white? No, not from a cultural perspective. What makes a person “black” isn’t their skin. What makes a person unique is their culture. It’s how they are raised, and the values that they are taught as a child. You take a white kid who’s raised in a “black” community and they’re going “act black.” The same goes for white people. Put a black kid in a “white” community they will “act white.” Or asian. Or hispanic. It’s our culture that matter, and we don’t want to lose that.

What we need to drop is the notion of race that is used to diminish, degrade, separate and isolate groups of people.

I don’t know what it’s like to born black in America. I was married to a black woman for 10 years, but I’m not black and I don’t claim to know anything about being black. But it surprises me how firmly people grip to that concept of race as if it means anything – really. We are americans. We are humans. We, The People, should work together to make our country great. It’s never been great, despite rhetoric to the contrary. America has always been a country of bigotry, racism, violent racism and misogyny. We’ve had some symbolic victories with gaining access to the ballot box, but if you’ve ever read Howard Zinn’s “People’s History of the United States,” you know voting is largely an exercise in futility – at least when comes to effecting real systemic change.

In our Twitter debate today, a common response was something along the lines of, “You’re white and part of the white supremacy system, you fix it.” But that right there exposes the point I’m trying to make. Don’t look at me as a privileged white man who has any more ability to create change than any black person. While it’s true that I don’t get harassed by the police, and I have certainly benefited from being white in America, I have no power – not on my own.

The only way real and meaningful change can occur is if we have the courage to say, “Enough is enough. We will work together to end racism.” And I’m not talking that stupid “No labels” crap either. I mean really letting race go. But if you’re waiting for me to fix this problem, it’s not going to happen. I’m not a leader. I’m just a soldier. I’m willing to go to battle for the cause of ending racism, but I can’t do it alone.

However, judging from the anecdotal evidence of my Twitter conversation today, too many people cling to the antiquated notion of race and further the racist’s agenda by dividing people by color and then bitching about how everything sucks.

We have to look at where the power struggle is, how it was created, and then we can mess with it.

Father of Man Who Firebombed Mosque Blames Twitter

Carl James Dial

Carl James Dial

A mosque in Coachella, Cali. was firebombed last week. Police have arrested Carl James Dial Jr., of Palm Desert. Dial’s father said social media is to blame for his son throwing a molotov cocktail at the southern California mosque.

“He was caught up in social media. Social media has produced people like my son, without person-to-person contact,” Dial’s father told WMC5 News. “I believe he was lacking in social skills.”

That’s it. The 23-year-old spent too much time on Twitter listening to idiots and then he became an idiot himself.

Well, Dial is being held on $150,000 bail and charged with commission of a hate crime, arson, maliciously setting a fire and burglary.

Minnesota Attorney Said that the Racists That Shot 5 Black Lives Matters Demonstrators “sick people”

Update Jan. 17, 2017. Trial Begins for Shooter of Black Lives Matter Activists in Minnesota

Remember those racists who shot those five Black Lives Matters demonstrators in Minneapolis? Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman said in a statement that the attack was racially motived and increased the severity of the charges.

“There is no doubt that the attack by the four was racially motivated,” Freeman said. “The defendants’ own statements, their videos, show that these are sick people. Maybe I shouldn’t say that, but the language they use, and what they say about fellow Americans, citizens, are just not acceptable.”

Police have arrested four men for the November 23 violent crime that took place during a ##Justice4Jamar peaceful demonstration. Those arrested are Lawrence Scarsella, 23, of Lakeville, Joseph Martin Backman, 27, of Eagan, Nathan Wayne Gustavsson, 22, of Hermantown and Daniel Thomas Macey, 26, of Pine City. Besides Scarsella, at this point they have each been charged with one count of second-degree riot-armed with a dangerous weapon.

At a bail hearing for Scarsella, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Judith Hawley was seeking $500,000 bail and she told Hennepin County District Court Judge Hilary Caligiuri that one of the bullets fired that night is so close to 19-year-old shooting victim Tevin King’s arteries that it can’t be removed from his abdomen. Hawley told the court that because of that, she will be filing a new charge of first-degree assault to replace the original second-degree assault.

It wasn’t clear from the statement whether the change to first-degree assault would apply to all four defendants or just Scarsella.

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Press Buys Saudi Press about Fighting Extremism

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Saudi Arabia is a radical and oppressive government ruled by an oil soaked monarchy. Today, every news organization is reporting about Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in a collective of Muslim nations with the goal to fight Islamic fundamentalism. Not one of those news organizations mentioned the great contradiction.

Saudi Arabia is a fervent supporter of Wahhabi Islam, which is a hardcore, conservative and oppressive form of Islam.

According to Wikipedia, the Wahhabi mission is to spread purified Islam through the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent by the Saudi government and charities on mosques, schools, education materials, scholarships, throughout the world to promote Islam and the Wahhabi interpretation of it. Tens of thousands of volunteers and several billion dollars also went in support of the jihad against the atheist communist regime governing Muslim Afghanistan.

That’s a significant contradiction that needs to be included in every news story, failing to discuss Wahhabi Islam is just sloppy.