President Trump: Getting The Liberal Agenda Done! By Steve Safran

As you know, dear friends, I’m not a political sort. But I love Stevie’s current take on Trump. Is he an evil blowhard or a political mastermind? Who knows? But our reactions to him are reminding us who we are.

In just the past two weekends, we’ve had a nation united in its outpouring of support for women’s rights, immigrants and due process. This past weekend, the ACLU raised an astonishing $24 million, nearly beating M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split” at the box office, with only slightly less horror in the storyline. Subscriptions to the New York Times are up. Book sales– actual, physical books made out of paper– are on the increase. And in just a few weeks, scientists and supporters of science will join together to rally in Washington DC.

All thanks to President Trump.

Think about this: Without President Trump, would we have had “pussy hats?” Would people be reading 1984 again and debating totalitarian government? Would people have felt so empowered that, when they heard an executive order was signed banning certain immigrants (the ones that pray to Mohammed but aren’t inconveniently located in countries profitable to Trump companies), they rushed to their local airports in a display of love and selflessness? I mean– lawyers worked for free on that one. Lawyers! For free!

Thank you, President Trump!

Reporters are discovering how to report again. They’ve stop relying on the same-thing-every-day White House press briefings which tell you exactly nothing other than what the White House wants you to know. Instead, the Washington Post is adding 60 journalists. It’s expanding breaking news and investigative news. That’s really the only kind of news worth reporting.

People are questioning the government again. After 9/11, it was unpatriotic to question the president. You were either “with us or against us.” Now, we remembered this whole “America” thing: The government is either with me or against me. America is governed by the people– not by a King or a CEO or someone who thinks he can just Tweet laws into existence. I’ve heard more talk about the three branches of government in the last month than I have in years. “The president doesn’t make the laws,” noted one observer. And by “one observer,” I mean every social studies teacher in America who has been trying to get students to listen for the last 40 years.

Thanks, Trump!

I’m a Republican. Been one since January 3, 1986– the day I turned 18 and proudly registered GOP. Reagan was president, and all I really knew about the Republicans was that they were for money and less taxes. I saw “Wall Street” and missed the satirical point entirely and decided that these were the people for me. But I believed, and still do, in fiscal conservatism and social libertarianism.

Who these people are, these new leaders who have dared to steal the name of my party, I can’t say. They’re not Republicans. Certainly Trump is no Republican. I’m not even trying to insult the man. Here’s his political affiliation history:

1987-1999: Republican

1999 – 2001 Reform (The Ross Perot people.)

2001 – 2009: Democrat

2011 – 2012: Independent (Unaffiliated)

2012 – Present: Republican

That’s not a political leaning, that’s just being against whomever is in charge. Donald likes to be in the opposition, because it gets him on TV. He was a Republican while Bush the Elder was president, true. But he stayed in the opposition while Clinton was president. AFTER Clinton left, he became a Democrat, for Bush 45. Obama wins? Trump’s a Republican again after 13 years. Just so he can go on TV and say he’d do better.

But the takeaway here is that from 1999-2012, Trump was not a Republican. And I have a theory:

Donald Trump is a loyal Democrat.

Donald Trump knew the best way to energize the centrists in the party was for it to join common cause with the base. What better way to do that than to have a common enemy? So Trump, true patriot that he is, that keen mind with the best brain and the best words decided: I have to fall on the sword for the good of America. I will make America great again, even at the cost of my own reputation. I will become the scapegoat that will unite the country.

The U.S. had been becoming outrageously anti-Muslim. Odds of being killed by a refugee terrorist in the U.S.? 1 in 3.6 billion. Odds of being killed by a fellow American with a gun? 1 in 25,000. We had become overwrought with fear of Muslims and not concerned nearly enough with the safety of our fellow countrymen (even our fellow schoolchildren). Trump knew “he alone” could fix this.

And so he did. He signed a blatantly unconstitutional, anti-American executive order that, well, nobody’s quite sure what it did. On paper, it stopped a bunch of people coming in, but even the folks at the borders weren’t sure to whom it applied. See, Trump didn’t want this order to work, so he didn’t run it by the Justice Department or the State Department. Instead, he just had a total idiot outline some garbage about countries people couldn’t come in from. That idiot, Steve Bannon, happily complied because he doesn’t know Trump is using him.

Within hours, Americans showed up at airports, united in their support of Muslims. Americans were hugging Muslims who must have been at least a little confused after their 15-hour flights. You have to believe an Iranian, showing up in New York, seeing a giant protesting mob at first blush is thinking, “This can’t be good.”

But it was good. A federal judge in Brooklyn put a stay on part of Trump’s order because the government couldn’t make a case that people being detained at the border posed any risk. This may have had something to do with the fact that they posed no risk.

What’s next? Science. That whole anti-science agenda that the Republicans want to pass? The one that says, essentially, peer reviewed scientific studies are kind of up for debate? Trump’s totally going to eviscerate that. By which I mean, he’s going to pass it. And in a few weeks, there will be the March for Science in Washington. Scientists, people who like science, and people who simply think that rocks fall when you drop them will be out in droves to march in favor of things like teaching the actual age of the Earth and giving children vaccines so they don’t die before age 3.

Who do we have to thank for that? President Trump, of course! Without his staff of yes-monkeys furiously cribbing policy from the Alex Jones radio show, none of this would be possible. Without Trump, women wouldn’t be calling their representatives in Washington to safeguard their reproductive rights. Without Trump, average citizens wouldn’t have willingly gone to an airport on a weekend, let alone to protest, let alone for Muslims (!) in a show of patriotic unity. Without Trump, scientists wouldn’t be the next stars of the show.

Thank you, President Trump. You’re one hell of a Democrat.

gettyimages-632958486_wide-31a214452f439dd3ac9efab0fdcb670b306a4617-s900-c85

Advertisements

Because a stranger called me a prostitute

Occasionally, an odd message will come through the blog or even directly to my personal email. They don’t comment on the topic at hand (trivializing breast cancer, embarrassing myself, hating exercise). Instead, they want to use my small platform to peddle their own ideas or products. Probably most cancer bloggers have had at least one herbal-happy loon suggest we attack our tumors with green tea and meditation because chemotherapy is an evil scheme. I’ve only had to block a few weirdoes, which is saying something in this increasingly say-anything-at-all world.

One reader suggested that my willingness to stand naked before anyone but my husband and undergo life-saving surgery was a profound disobedience to God. We in the Shittiest Sorority should submit to His plan regarding our cancers, and die (or not) according divine whim instead of disrobing for surgeons. BLOCK. But it disturbed me enough that I still remember it three years later.

Today I received a bizarre email from a man trying to strike up a jokey relationship based on the conceit that I am being held in this marriage against my will as an “American Comfort Girl.” An actually creepy, deeply racist stranger found a picture of my family on line and wanted to ridicule the outlandish idea that I had married an Asian and birthed these two bastard half-breeds. He wanted to help me “escape.” I couldn’t delete and change all of my passwords to everything fast enough.

This screen-polluting email made me even angrier that there wasn’t a true apology for this. (I won’t link directly to the disgusting clip.) When something that ugly is laughed off as lighthearted fun, it can lead to other jokey offences, actual on-the-street, go-back-to-China shouting, and possibly prompt a message from a stranger suggesting I am a prostitute to the husband I adore.

Our current political climate has reminded us that we’ve only been putting makeup over our hate-filled pustules of racism and sexism. We’ve looked good enough for the school pictures, but it’s time to lance these boils. Maybe someday we’ll actually credit the billionaire bully for exposing what has obviously been simmering and spreading below the surface for too long: fear and misunderstanding of different skin, beliefs, and women in general. And you know, it’s not helpful to simply wag a judge-y Facebook finger at the orange ego-maniac who has been caught on tape, or the white man who made an actual video demeaning an entire town of Asians. We’re going to need to do more than that.

Only one generation ago, it was against the law for Bernie and me to be married in many states. Some of our parents, just 20-30 years ago, warned us not to date other races “because it would be difficult for your children.” And those were the thoughtful, modern parents who weren’t overtly racist. And you know what? They weren’t wrong. Last week, I had to explain to my boys why an entire “comedy” segment on a popular news program made fun of people that look like them… and why no one said, “sorry.”

Have you honestly never been complicit and quiet in the presence of downright rape-y language about women’s bits? Do you publicly chastise the jerk (maybe even a family member) who makes the offhand Asians-with-cameras or black-neighborhoods-where-you’ll-get-shot comments? No. No you don’t. Not every time. And you definitely didn’t ten or twenty years ago.

And that’s ok. Not sure you’re changing minds doing that, anyway. But I bet you make damn sure that the kids within earshot get schooled. Dinnertime discussion at the Lee home has been nothing but race relations (complicated and problematic) and rules for talking about girls (only ever say nice things). Exhausted, exasperated, and frankly kind of grossed out with the topic (God, aren’t we all?), Teddy pushed back from table exclaiming, “I’m still PRE-pubescent! My voice hasn’t even changed yet! Do we still have to keep talking about this weird stuff?” Well, Teddy, yes we do. But last night, this picture went viral, and gave me a glimmer of hope that future locker rooms will be filled with actual feminists.

14657316_1260179210704921_1100413023204267691_n

Young men at Centennial High School, showing us how to combat the overwhelming ickiness on the news.

Unlike other angry outbursts catalyzed by news reports of truly gross behavior, mine is not political. I don’t care about the election (this year). Vote, don’t vote. Whatever, dude. But I do care profoundly about how you and I treat each other, how we talk about and to each other, and how we raise our boys to be champions for women. It’s time to get our multi-colored asses into pews or temples or mosques or yoga studios or Soul Cycle. Where do you go to tap into your sincerest, We Are the World feelings? I need them. And so do our kids.

 

In Defense of Journalists… by Steve Safran

Journalists know they are doing a good job when they get hate mail from both sides of a story. By that metric, most political journalists have been doing an excellent job this political season. While I no longer cover news, I write about television and social media. I did produce coverage of the New Hampshire primaries for an online news organization earlier this year, but that’s been the extent of my official reporting. And, since we’re in an era of everyone crying “Bias!” you should know my bias right up front:

People have to shut the fuck up about how journalists are covering this election. Now.

Let’s get this right out of the way: Journalists lean liberal. They don’t deny it. They go into the profession with the idea of changing the world, taking on government and speaking truth to power. They do that, knowing the job does not come with a lucrative salary. Those are not the personality types of a conservative.

Having said that, I am a conservative in a liberal profession. I am a conservative who does not like Donald Trump. There are my biases.

If I had to distill the biggest complaint people have about “The Media” this campaign it is this: The media created Donald Trump in an effort to get ratings, and now they have to expose him as a fraud.

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t heard that Donald Trump tells lies? For that matter, is there anyone who thinks the media has gone easy on Hillary Clinton? And does anyone think that a person who has decided to vote for either candidate would change their mind if they were to read, in “The New York Times,” that their candidate lied?

It is not the job of the news to call news subjects names. Journalists are supposed to tell you what happened, and leave it to you to decide how you feel about the topic. You’re not going to see “Hillary Clinton (D): Hides Emails” and “Donald Trump (R): Lies a Lot” as their titles on TV.

Reporters are operating under unprecedented conditions. One candidate puts them in a pen, calls them names on Twitter, mocks them on live TV and even has them arrested. The other candidate won’t even speak to reporters in a formal setting. So we have a campaign in which neither candidate wants anything to do with the media, and yet the media is called irresponsible. Face it: the candidates are the reason their own coverage sucks.

When you heard there was an explosion in Manhattan Saturday night, you may have first found out about it on Twitter or Facebook. What did you do then? You went to cable news. And you saw great coverage. On Twitter, people were screaming about terrorism and ISIS and all sorts of as-yet unfounded theories. Good journalists don’t do that. They report the facts. They tell you what they know and what they don’t. We need these people on the street– people who are willing to go where a bomb just exploded and tell you what they found out.

Journalism as a profession is a skeleton of what it used to be. Newsrooms are decimated. Newspapers have either gone out of business or drastically cut staff. Reporters are asked to write, tweet, shoot video, post on Facebook, use Instagram and still file a complete version for the web and the next day’s newspaper. Bias? They’re biased toward getting six hours of sleep.

They do this in an industry where the median salary is $38,095. Oh– and it’s a job that CareerCast ranks as the worst job in America, right below pest control.

A word about “The Media.” There is no “The Media.” There aren’t daily meetings to decide how to advance the liberal agenda. There is no consensus. There are conventions, and they are full of seminars on how to improve coverage, have good relations in the community and other ways to improve your skills. There are also free drinks (…but fewer than there were 15 years ago).

Did TV give too much coverage to Donald Trump early on? Yes. He made for good TV. And because he was on TV so much, the newspapers couldn’t ignore him. As for the accusation that TV news put Trump on because he was good for ratings: Guilty. These are businesses. People demand high-quality coverage, but aren’t willing to pay for a newspaper or website. You have to get ad money somehow. I love it when people razz us with, “So– trying to sell more newspapers?” Yes, yes of course we are. We make $18 an hour. We could use the extra $1.25.

But nobody forced people to vote for the man. CNN could have aired a five-knife juggler cracking jokes as a Presidential candidate, and it would have been great TV. I don’t think the juggler would have received many votes, though. Don’t blame reporters for not asking Trump the tough questions. They ask. He doesn’t answer. Or he answers with outrageous statements that used to get candidates disqualified– and he gets more support. This is asynchronous warfare now. I would argue that showing Trump’s press conferences did a world of good by showing people exactly the kind of person he is. It just turned out that he is the kind of person those voters want.

Hillary Clinton gets away with plenty, too. Her supporters should really demand more of her. She is running a campaign not to lose. She isn’t running to win. I can tell you five of Trump’s plans off the top of my head. I can’t tell you what Hillary plans on doing, because it keeps changing and because she answers questions on substance with a “We’re going to look into that.” You should really want more from her. The Clintons don’t answer so much as put together pre-tested words and hope a sentence comes out.

So, with all of these problems– candidates that don’t talk, jobs that don’t pay, reporters hoping they’re not fired tomorrow– miraculously, the news still goes on. Media bashing is a fine political tradition. But when it becomes a habit of the public, it is dangerous. Hold the media accountable, by all means. But consider the alternative. These guys hate the Republicans. Those guys hate the Democrats. Everyone hates the media. The alternative is a one-party state with no press.

And in those places… you’re not allowed to complain at all.

 

journalism_orwell

Sing, instead

On Wednesday, one of my loveliest friends invited my boys and me for an evening of… song. Not music. Not a concert. But song. We had only a few details, but even my smallish boys didn’t balk at the idea. Maybe smallish boys also wanted to escape the ALL CAPS political discourse of angry adults? Hmmm. But the Lees were immediately down for this.

The venue was a Quaker meetinghouse. The group: strangers. The leader was a television actress my kids knew well, having recently Netflix binge-watched ten seasons of her oh-my-Gods. Her workshop is based on the truth that everyone can sing. Her workshop is magic because she can direct a room full of strangers to sing in four part harmony within minutes. Want to feel good about your fellow citizens? Hold hands and a melody with them.

We floated out of that room in an entirely different mood. Immediately I knew I needed the Olympics to begin already. I want triumph stories and personal bests and schlocky theme music that’ll make you want to buy a new pair of sneaks, or get back in the pool. I want to see strong bodies from all corners of the planet inspiring and challenging each other to do impossible things. Side by side. Together. High-five-ing. I need a good lump-in-your-throat National Anthem singing moment. I want our shouts of U-S-A to feel like a unifying chant of victory rather than a fear-mongering dirge of exclusion.

We are all suffering from Don-illary/Trump-ton fatigue. My (mostly lefty liberal) social media threads are like protests from petulant children making 11th hour arguments for a later bedtime. But why? But why? Are all of these articles—there’s, like, one every hour– kind, necessary, and true (dear friend Lisa’s criteria for gossip-spreading or reposting)? Who knows? What I do know is that we already have plenty of reasons to find Trump repellent. And everyone already knows that oodles of people who wouldn’t break bread with him, trust him in a business deal, or believe his handicap at Mar-a-Lago are voting for him anyway. And the but why? but why? protestations land on the same ears as the SAHM holding her ground and her Chardonnay.

Friday, August 5th, friends. Opening ceremonies. No Hillary. No Trump. Nothing but strong bodies from all corners of the planet. And us: staring in the same direction shouting U-S-A in spite of a media maelstrom that bombards us with angry opinions insisting we couldn’t possibly agree about anything. When, duh, we can. Even people voting for Trump agree that he might be the most odiously orange pseudo-politician in our shared history.

Olympics, people! And until then, let’s swap out the umpteenth post about why your candidate is just the worst for unlikely animal friend videos and people bumping into stuff playing Pokémon Go. We keep promising ourselves (and we promised Nancy) that we’d do better than this. We demand that our politicians engage in bipartisan discourse, we applaud leaders who encourage us to listen to each other, and then we go back to our little screens and shout into the echo chamber.

Let’s sing with each other, instead.

FullSizeRender-6

(Relieved Teddy didn’t ask her why she cheated on Chandler.)