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Conservatives, while wrapped in the flag, never seem miss an opportunity to bash the ‘mainstream media’ or MSM as it’s referred to by some. They call it biased, and lately just claim it’s ‘fake news’, a term that is used to describe pretty much anything said by the Trump administration and their merry band of propagandists, but is nevertheless used by the aforementioned to discredit legitimate journalism.

But I love the mainstream media because I understand what the country would be like without them. Like them or not, they are the closest thing we have to a ‘check and balance’ on government power at all levels, and without them we might as well just give up on the country altogether because we’ll never again poses the tools necessary to vet our information.

You can hate the MSM, but whether you like them or not, we can all agree that the mainstream media is accountable. Large media organizations like ABC, NBC, CBS are accountable to voters and viewers alike. They are accountable to politicians who claim foul when misinformation is sometimes accidentally disseminated. And they are accountable to advertisers who sometimes pull ads over objectionable content and would certainly pull ads if the content was deemed to be willfully dishonest.

Consider the alternative to MSM. No mainstream media means a complete lack of any kind of third party accountability. It means hollow and unaccountable standards for (and I use the term loosely) ‘journalists’ like Project Veritas hack and convict James O’Keefe who thinks lying to advance his belief system is fair game. We already have this problem with right wing rags pushing conspiracy theories to gullible conservatives who love the red meat subject matter but lack the critical thinking skills to correctly filter the noise from the actual news. No, former president Obama is not a Kenyan Muslim who hates America.

Without the MSM, how would people be able to determine what news to believe? Accountability is critical for our democracy and we should honor and protect it as such. Once the mainstream media is gone, what does that leave you with? Hyper partisan hack news organizations like Breitbart and Fox that act as de facto state media for the administration, and a virtual Wild West of so-called and deceptively named (and again, I use the term loosely) ‘news’ outlets with a wide spectrum of dubious journalistic standards that includes everything from innuendo to outright lies.

Attacks on the mainstream media weaken the only verifiable sources of independent news that exist on earth. Without them, the only official news we would get to hear would be from our government and subject to their willful deception and propaganda. Who wants that? During Obama we could trust most of what the government said. Under Trump, we can’t trust anything. So it’s no surprise they consider the media the enemy. They actually ARE the enemy of the Trump administration, and for good reason. They are the only bulwark between Trump’s constant blather or twitter lies and the actual truth of what happens in the world.

So when you hear someone disrespecting the MSM, correct them. Remind them that without the mainstream news, they would be at the mercy of the government to disseminate any news they saw fit without any checks or independent verification. We should protect the MSM with our very lives, even before we protect our own government. For a government without this kind of check is on it’s way to becoming a dictatorship sooner or later. The MSM is the ultimate check on power and without them every bit of information becomes suspect.

With Harvey Weinstein’s career, social, and private life in shambles as a result of accusations coming from nearly 60 women (at the time of this writing), many people are wondering if recent events aren’t some kind of watershed moment for… well to tell you the truth, I’m not really sure what. A reckoning? Surely. The overall treatment of women in the work place and social life? Probably not, if we’re being honest. Once all the bad news dies down, some men will inevitably go back to being predatory and new ones will take their place from year to year.

But the reckoning – that moment where suddenly women feel empowered to speak out about their experiences – that may be coming for more people, and for those who have transgressed it’s going to be brutal. The question is, how long will the reckoning go on, and who’s fates will be sealed?

So far, names like Bush, Afleck, and Halerpin are making headlines along with a slew of others, but for some reason the damn has yet to break on Donald Trump. Trump, for his part, who’s name is back in the news this week along side the other accused has issued another declaration of innocence as he continues to weather the storm.

In today’s world, it takes a special set of circumstances for a celebrity to fall. Bill Cosby’s ignominious pursuits spanned decades according to accusers in spite of his outrageous conduct. It wasn’t until one special day where something about the conditions in the cosmos were just right that the public started paying attention to the news. And the same has been true for many other famous people, Weinstein among them where bad behavior in epic proportion goes unpunished over and again.

Well, ladies, if you’re reading this, let me give you some advice. The conditions to bring Trump’s conduct to light have never been better. The rich and powerful are currently vulnerable in a way heretofore unseen and any new accusers are going to get their moment. But if Donald is allowed to ride out this current wave of misconduct allegations, then you might as well just give up because there will never be another time this ripe for these stories to have an impact. And if Trump survives, he’ll be that much harder to touch in the future as any new allegations will begin to sound like the boy who cried wolf to his supporters.

This is why anyone who’s ever been the victim of Trump sexual misconduct should step up, and do so quickly. It’s going to take a lot of weight to move the mountain and there won’t be another chance like this again, ever.

Now that Weinstein’s career has officially fallen into the abyss, the stories have been coming out of the woodwork from those who were previously afraid to speak. And with every new allegation comes louder and louder criticism from the right aimed at anyone who’s been cozy with the movie mogul. But let’s not forget that during the campaign there were quite a few women who accused Donald Trump of such things as well, and it could be very difficult to ignore if a similar avalanche begins once again against the president.

It would be very difficult to continue to assault Democrats over the Weinstein affair while ignoring similar and multiple allegations against a man who bragged about grabbing women by the genitals, even if that man is Donald Trump. Already, women are suing the campaign for information about how it handled and tracked allegations of sexual impropriety and the women who made them. Eventually, the chorus may become to loud to ignore.

The worse this situation gets for Harvey, the worse it will get for Trump. Even in today’s bizarre political climate where Trump can break every taboo without repercussion, every pot has a boiling point, and Weinstein is turning up the heat on Trump substantially as more and more people make comparisons between the two.

Meanwhile, it appears that the Right doesn’t understand their peril by calling out Weinstein backers. They dismissed allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump a year ago before the election and forgot all about it. But today they are accusing the Left of hypocrisy by ignoring the Weinstein story in the news and elsewhere, and that same accusation could well come back to haunt them sooner rather than later if more women come forward with their own Trump stories and more attention is spent comparing the behavior of the two.

Recently Samantha Bee joked about impeaching Harvey Weinstein in one such well aimed attempt to compare the two men. I would expect more to come as it becomes clear that this avenue would be an effective way to both diffuse the Weinstein story and attack the behavior of the President. The Right can’t have it both ways and they will soon find out why. Weinstein should go, sure, but so too should Trump.

One of the biggest problems in today’s political discourse is that people seem to have lost sight, or purposefully ignore, much of their own commonsense. Instead, political affiliation seems to have taken over as the driving force behind our decisions and points of view.

Let’s take one modern example: Trump’s new Muslim ban. Now let me be clear: I detest Donald Trump. He has no business in the White House, and does not deserve to be president. But, would I call his recent executive action to ban people from certain countries “A Muslim ban”?  Not really. There are dozens of countries that are majority Muslim not on his list. And I know many well-meaning liberal people who are smart enough to understand that an actual Muslim ban would look much different than this limited order.

On the other side of the argument the administration says that an immediate ban from these locations is absolutely necessary. Why? That wasn’t President Obama’s take, and we didn’t have any terror attacks from non-citizens under his 8 years. If these places were really interested in attacking us they could do it very easily. It’s not as if guns are hard to come by in the US. 9/11 was over 15 years ago.

The ironic thing about this specific debate is that both sides have relied illogical arguments to make their point.

So what is really going on?

The political left realizes that continuing to insult Muslims could actually provoke the dangerous circumstances this order is said to prevent. It seems very ill conceived, and was obviously crafted hurriedly and without a lot of thought considering the green card scandal and obvious lack of guidance to the various departments. It’s also been characterized as overly broad. The problem with Donald Trump insulting minorities is that any attack in response to his bellicose blather will just turn into a reason for him to grab more power and suppress his political opposition.

Meanwhile, the political right gets to feel some form of appeasement from their new leader whose first wall “to keep out them foreigners”, as it turns out, is more of an ocean. The xenophobes argue it’s not a Muslim ban, but that’s exactly what they want. So they are approving of the position they are arguing against.

*sigh*

 

Yesterday Trump tweeted out a condemnation of the Boeing Air Force One contract price, or so he seemed to describe it. Today, big business is having buyers remorse – and Trump is not even president.

Trump’s every word affects stock prices now. If I were a Boeing employee, I’d be pissed off by his latest childish and ill-informed outburst. And, if I were any number of big businesses whose profit margin depends on outsourced call centers or manufacturing, I’d be terrified. Some of these businesses aren’t solvent without cheap labor and even if they are, stock prices of American investors could suffer with a drop in profitability.

Trump is supposed to be pro business. Even if the government is spending too much, on the Air Force One contract, which isn’t immediately clear, his buffoonish approach of broadcasting threats via twitter is bound to upset group after group after group in the business word.

As the man running the show, it’s his job to fix the machine, not go to war with his own government. Good leadership would dictate that he put his head down and get to work on fixing things that he perceives to be broken. He gains nothing by playing this little game except PR and he does so at the expense of the people who now work for him. Ultimately that’s not the path for a successful president.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, Hillary won. She had a total command of the issues. The email scandal was addressed firmly and immediately – and quite effectively I might add. Her admission of a mistake and her taking full responsibility shut down the entire conversation. There was literally nowhere left to go after that, and the entire topic was dropped. Donald left it alone, basically defeated in his attempt to make it a debate issue. One of many missed opportunities for him, handled by a well-prepared Secretary Clinton.

Meanwhile, Clinton was mostly effective at digging into Trump on a range of issues. It wasn’t enough that she speculated about his not paying taxes. She was able to tie not paying taxes to his not having contributed to such things as wounded soldiers, schools and other government funded items that almost everyone can agree on. It was very effective.

When it came to his birther movement leadership, she told a personal story about how it upset the president, at once humanizing him while portraying Trump as a heartless, lying antagonist. Personally I think should could have made more of a point that the movement is inherently racist (see my previous post on the topic). She basically mentioned it was racist and moved on. Meanwhile, Trump’s answer was typical self-promotion – that he did a good job simply because he accomplished his arbitrary goal of getting a birth certificate (even though that wasn’t his goal), never mind whether it was racist or not. I’m not even sure he understood her criticism, as his response didn’t address the racist charge.

I have to admit, while I don’t agree with Donald Trump’s portraying the country as a place of doom and gloom, he was effective during the first few minutes of the debate in his attempt to do so. This was his opportunity to define his reason for running, and he was effective, by and large. It was also Hillary’s missed opportunity to rebut his assessment. The economy is better than it was 7 years ago, less people are out of work, the stock market is doing well, the military is stronger than ever, and on and on. Trump’s vision of America went largely unanswered, and I hope Clinton does a better job in the next debates of answering his rhetoric.

This last point would really be my only critique of her performance, which was, overall extremely refined and well-prepared. She was poised, articulate and knowledgeable. Who can argue with that assessment? She had answers for Trump’s criticisms and didn’t seem phased by his on-stage bullying and his repeated interruptions. She had an answer for everything, well thought-out and defensible.

Meanwhile, his zingers fell flat. His joke about getting onto Pennsylvania Avenue (one way or another) was a dud, and not delivered well. He sounded like an old coot trying to talk about cyber warfare and there were numerous other instances where he seemed to ramble as a result of not understanding the issues at hand.

Overall, it’s fair to say Secretary Clinton’s preparedness paid off. And frankly it’s difficult to imagine that the next debates will be any different. In fact, my prediction is that she’ll do better. She’ll be confident walking in, while Trump, knowing he’s faced criticism for his performance in the first round will be more aggressive and, you’ll see, will be likely to make mistakes as he undoubtedly will step up attacks on Clinton to try and earn points with his base. In the end, I expect him to sink himself, perhaps by attacking Clinton over the Lewinsky scandal, ill advised as it would seem – something he (somehow) managed to avoid in the first round.