Since the election, my
Facebook feed has been very quiet.Granted I don’t have that many friends, but most of them share my
progressive politics; and they were very VERY active on Facebook prior to
November 9.Since then…a whole lot of
quiet.Not even a lot of wailing and
gnashing of teeth.Just…shocked silence.
Some of this has to do with the
widely circulated perception that social media was the devil in this
election.That the wildfire spread of “fake
news” on forums like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram assigned and sealed the
fate of the Clinton campaign.That’s
right, Mainstream Media.Blame it on the
Trust me…I get the whole
poisonous Fake News scenario.I read
this article on NPRabout a guy--a registered Democrat, no
less--who got into the “fake news” business in order to shame the gullible
right. He eventually learned that his strategy had totally backfired, but by then,
he was making $10k a month selling advertising on his fake news pages.Suddenly his political motivation didn’t
matter quite as much as maintaining a lifestyle to which he had rapidly grown accustomed.And he blithely passes the blame for the damage
his fake news has done to the “consumers” thereof.“The consumers of content have to be better
at identifying this stuff. We have a whole nation of media-illiterate people.”Once again, it’s all about the money.This should scare the shit out of us.And it does.
But the American “Mainstream
Media” is just as culpable for the rise and dominance of Donald Trump as false
propaganda spread by soulless, greedy internet trolls.The New York Times estimates that Trump received $2 billion worth of free press.All he had to do was run all
over the country stirring up violence, discord and controversy; the
ratings-craving mainstream media followed him around like the dutiful lapdogs
Trump knew them to be.The MSM insists it was
reporting Trump's non-stop antics because they were “news.”But, in fact, they were providing Trump with precisely the tool he needed to win
this election:His face all over every
bit of video and print media, 24/7/365.No candidate could ever buy
that much air time.And Trump had it
handed to him on a silver platter.
Late in the campaign, the
Mainstream Media seemed to assimilate the fact that they had been monumentally
complicit in Trump’s meteoric rise in popularity.They didn’t
stop reporting about him, though…they simply decided that if they began showing
him for the demagogue that he is, they would have done their duty and cleansed
their souls of any responsibility for Trump’s rise in popularity.Not only was their epiphany too little too
late, but at that point, it didn’t matter whether the press Trump received was
negative or positive.Maybe it never did
matter.The Trump faithful were free to
pick and choose what they believed about their candidate…and his smirking face continued to be
plastered all over the news.
And just to prove that the
Mainstream Media still has not learned its lesson, we have this little gem that
broke earlier this week:
Time stands by this unpalatable
cherry on the top of the enabling clusterfuck that was the MSM's coverage of
Election 2016, stating that "Person of the Year" honors go to
any figure, negative or positive, who has had the most impact on the world
during a given calendar year. It points to its covers of Hitler, Stalin
and the Ayatollah to prove its editorial purity. I suppose that puts Trump in the
appropriate company, but it completely misses the point.
Really, Time? Don't you
think that conferring this honor upon Cheeto Jesus is like handing a free kilo
of heroin--along with a tourniquet, a bunsen burner, a spoon and a gross of
brand new hypodermics--to an addict? Should a media junkie who has proven
a master manipulator of the press be handed yet another several million dollars
of free media exposure because he is "news?" When are you going
to GET that you are being played? Dangerously played?
What about the first woman in
history nominated for president of the United States by a major
party? Isn't that news worthy enough for you, Time
Magazine? In truth, the choice boils down to
M.O.N.E.Y. Trump's smug, ugly mug will sell WAY more soap than Hillary's
exhausted, long-suffering one.
of...that.I think I'll just write about
and I have a love/hate relationship, with the "hate" side growing
more and more dominant as I grow older.In fact, it seems like the "love" half is mostly a memory of
love. I don't love Christmas anymore.Not really. Because so many of the things I loved have gone away.
One of my favorite parts of Christmas was the
gift-giving...but we stopped doing that a couple of years ago.Let's face it:when and you've lived your life in mostly
comfortable middle-class-ness, by the time you've completed your sixth decade, you
have probably acquired most of the affordable trappings of the station, several
times over.What you don't have, neither
you nor anyone likely to have you on their Christmas list can afford...which is
pretty much why you don't have it.For a
couple of years, I tried coming up with more imaginative things like promises
of help with a project or gift certificates for dinners out. Among my unimaginative family, those kinds of
things never caught on, so I gave up.
So...no buying and hiding and wrapping and hoping the gift
hits its mark on Christmas Eve.Sure, we
don't have to fight the retail crowds or sweat the Christmas rush delivery schedules.But that might have even been part of the
Christmas parties used to be fun.In our younger days, we had some of our most
fun times at work parties. I remember champagne and pretty clothes and dancing
in a conga line on blistered feet in sparkly shoes; and winning a television in
a raffle drawing.But the husband has
worked 22 years for a company owned by a Jewish family, where many of the workers
are Asian non-Christians; so the company Christmas party went out the window a
long time ago.When we had the
restaurant, our Christmas parties were one of the few highlights of that
miserable time.We even had a couple
"reunion" parties after we closed the place.But after 5 1/2 years, everyone is pretty
much spread to the four winds, young people with kids and lives and friends of
And we don't have any friends, so we don't entertain.The family comes up sometimes for a day or
two during the holiday season, weather permitting.But the older we get, the less weather
permits.Even a heavy rain storm is
enough to keep us off the roads and trapped in our homes.
The one Christmas indulgence that has yet to be killed off
in me is my love (bordering on obsession) of the trappings of Christmas.I adore the decorations.Can't resist a cute or quirky ornament or
chotchky.If it sparkles, I covet
it.I think all my love for the season
that used to find its release in many directions--in the gifting and the
parties and the little dinners with friends--has been channeled into
decorating.The end result is that I
have acquired boxes and boxes of Christmas crap, which take me a week to sort
out and arrange in early December, and as long to disassemble and pack away six
weeks later.Which nobody sees but me
and the husband and the cats and the occasional mail person or UPS driver.I think one definition of insanity must be to
spend a week putting up decorations that no one ever sees.I do enjoy them, yes.But maybe not enough to invest eighty or a
hundred hours each year putting them up and taking them down.
In my morning devotions, I honor my spirits of the
West--Gull and Pelican--and ask them to guide me to freedom through
unburdenment.Every morning since
November 1, I have been fully aware of what I need to unburden myself of. In so many of the spiritual texts I have read,
we are admonished to set aside things that no longer serve.And I have a house full of those very
things.From which I need to pry my nostalgic
fingers and just...let go.
There is a lot of speculation
going on about the Electoral College, since Hillary Clinton won the popular vote
by a large margin, yet Cheeto easily amassed plenty of electoral votes—enough to
handily quash Mrs. Clinton’s presidential hopes.
People are coming up with
many and varied theories about why the Electoral College was conceived by the
founders to begin with.It’s popular,
these days, to connect the College to the insistence of slave-holding states that
their wealthy agrarian lifestyle—and potentially unacceptable institutions—maintain
an effective amount of sway in federal elections. The aim here, I suppose, is that if we connect
the Electoral College to the great moral sin of slavery in the south, it
becomes tarnished by association, and therefore worthy of no better treatment
than the institution of slavery itself.
I had written for another
hour on this subject today… And then I realized I had already DONE this
essay.Twelve years ago.In three parts, no less.Complete with the research I have neither the
time nor the patience to indulge in these days.
Go read. All three pieces, please.And comment.Here or there or on Facebook.I’d
like to have a conversation about this…
Did I ask for a conversation? What in the world made me do that? Most people who came here from Facebook didn't even glance at the original essays. Oh, well. Their loss--they ARE good pieces of writing. Guess I just can't let go of the past... :(
I wake up every morning, newly unbelieving of the results of last month's presidential election. I CAN NOT wrap my head around the concept that the American people chose a completely unfit narcissistic sociopath to "make America great again." Yes, I inhabited that hopeful liberal bubble before the election...the one that insisted that a majority of voters would never embrace the traits Trump exhibited--racism, xenophobia, sexism to the point of misogyny, and beyond all those, just an outright, down and dirty meanness--as representative of the character of the American people. But they did.
So now, it seems I go through the seven stages of...something...every morning when I roll out of bed and realize Cheeto Jesus will be the next president of the United States. Except my stages seem to have wrapped themselves into a loop: Denial. Guilt. Anger. Reflection. Denial. Guilt. Anger. Reflection. Ad infinitum. All laced with a strong sinew of fear and trepidation.
The cartoon above represents what I fear, but hope with all my heart is not going to be the case.
And while I'm on the subject of fear, I cling like a drowning man to this concept: Fear has never been the motivation behind anything pure or laudable or heroic. Fear, in large part, caused the situation we find ourselves in now. Fear will not raise us out of despair...it can only drag us deeper into it.
Fear doesn't work. Let's find a solid platform of some other emotion--loyalty, charity, courage, determination--from which to mount our resistance.
there was the election.Then I had to
drag the shattered pieces of myself up
out of the pit of despair and glue them back together so I could go on a
vacation that had been arranged before we even realized it was going to take
place the weekend after the election (and of course, before we realized--because
we never could have conceived of it--that Cheeto Jesus was going to win the election.)Once I actually applied myself to the
vacation, it seemed...easier?wiser?...to
just shove the whole mess into the back of my mind and deal with it after we
got home. Net result being, among other
things, that I have fallen seriously behind on my challenge to reach 1300 posts
by the end of the year.
never fear, invisible audience!I'm back,
and ready to make it happen.
morning, a Facebook friend linked to this New York Times article; which, given
the undeniable culpability of the mainstream media in the "surprise"
triumph of Donald Trump, struck a nerve with me:
it, the Times goes about putting together a fine little bit of
investigative journalism, in true Monday-morning-quarterbacking tradition, in which it follows
the genesis of a tidbit of "fake news" from the account of a twitter
user with forty followers, to a re-tweeted, linked-to and overblown erroneous
report seized upon by right-wing outlets and blasted across the internet.It seemed typical that a venerable MSM outlet
like the Times would prefer to scapegoat "citizen journalists" for
the insane explosion of false news stories surrounding the candidates of our
late presidential election, racing around the
globe at the speed of light.So much
easier than shining the light of culpability on their own weak, erratic and
blatantly partial performance.And I
indicated as much to my friend.
rather than try to keep my sleepy eyes open long enough to turn the following
comment thread into a decent essay, I'm going to reproduce said thread here,
Me:It's interesting that the Times chose to
perform this little bit of (highly unusual for these days) investigative
reporting based on a private citizen's erroneous tweet. I get that fake news burning across social media
like wildfire is a problem. But perhaps the Times might also write an expose on
how live reporting on major stories by mainstream media outlets like the Times
itself becomes perverted and jumbled by this "need for speed" that
seems to be the main priority in 21st-century journalism. Reports on breaking
news have become an agonizing process of "react and retract."
I remember being frustrated as hell trying to glean
the actual stories from the 24-hour garbage stream generated by the media
during events like the Boston Marathon bombing and Newtown. In both those
cases, the lives of innocent men were nearly ruined when the MSM circulated
erroneous identifications of possible suspects based on...what?
The point I'm trying to make (badly) is that the
mainstream media are every bit as culpable as what they condescendingly refer
to as "the blogosphere" for the genesis and spread of "fake
news." They simply prefer to scapegoat the non-professionals rather than
address their own sins.
Friend:There's a very significant difference between
professional news organizations which try to live up to their long-standing
reputations for reliable reporting (and sometimes fail), and bullshit
purveyors. The NY Times and Washington Post have had to publicly apologize for
such failures, but I would not compare them with the likes of Breitbart,
Infowars, AddictingInfo and Occupy Democrats, to name a few of the worst.
Me:I disagree. I no longer see a SIGNIFICANT
difference between "professional" news organizations and what you
call "bullshit purveyors." If the difference was black and white, we
wouldn't need an agency like snopes to discern what is real and what is false.
There would be such an obvious difference between truth and bullshit that we
could simply turn to our favorite news organizations with their "long-standing
reputations" to get the real story. You and I both know this is no longer
the case. The model of careful, well-researched factual
reporting has been completely scrapped by the 21st-century MSM. In video
journalism, because news is no longer public service information, it is entertainment; and in print
media because they have bowed to the immediacy of the internet. Most daily
newspapers are no longer any more than human interest magazines. They don't
report the news, because by the time a newspaper can research and print a story,
it's no longer "news." And when a story is so huge they are compelled
to report--such as Newtown or Boston--they fall into the same trap of hurry-up
hearsay as the citizen bloggers and bullshit rags. Sure, the reputable news
agencies might go back and retract misinformation, but the problem is, in this
day of tweet and retweet, link and re-link, it's impossible to unring the bell
of bad reporting. As this NYT article aptly demonstrated.
Perhaps the debacle of this election cycle can
regenerate a market for "slow," factual news. Perhaps we are learning
that REAL reporting takes time, and we can...we MUST...refine the art of
PATIENCE while waiting for the truth.
Friend:You don't see much of a difference. We will
have to disagree on that. Even my local papers are more reliable than many of
the websites that end up in my FB newsfeed. In this post-truth era, with a
President-elect who is infamous for making stuff up and for re-tweeting
nonsense with no basis in fact, we are going to need reliable news sources, and
a healthy dose of skepticism is going to be required too - even when reading
the NY Times. And we all need to pause before we pass along what could be fake
news to our FB friends. When a bell cannot be un-rung, it is important not to
ring it in error.
Me:I think the difference between you and me on
this question lies in location, location, location. You basically live in New
York...one of the largest and most diverse cities in the world. I live in the
sticks. And yet, even out here in the sticks, we USED to have decent news. Both
the Oregonian and the Eugene Register Guard were award-winning newspapers in
their heyday. Both have been reduced to what amounts to daily versions of
"Parade" magazine. They don't even bother reporting on national or
international news to any extent at all. Newspapers all over the country have
suffered the same fate. Possibly NYC is one of the last bastions of worthwhile
print reporting...I don't know. I don't live there. I could subscribe to the
New York Times...but I'm of the opinion that even that venerable paper has
succumbed to the realities of 21st-century media, and relies more on its
reputation than on any actual prize-winning reporting being done today.
trust me, I'm not defending the crap websites like Occupy Democrats or
AddictingInfo. I realized a long time ago that they were simply left-wing
versions of shit like Breitbart or the Free Republic. They are no less guilty
of the crime against humanity that IS the election of DJT to the Presidency
than the alt-rightest of "news" outlets. My general method is to
discount anything that is obvious incitement, and fact check the rest. Can't
say I was never guilty of "sharing" bullshit during this past
election cycle...but I will be MUCH more cautious in future.
I feel strongly that the media
played a H.U.G.E. role in the national tragedy unfolding before our eyes this sad November.Social
media and the blogosphere were a disaster, yes.But the mainstream media completely bungled everything about this
election, from soup to nuts.Their new
mission statement of news media as entertainment rather than information has
served the American people a great big shit sandwich.If we can't figure out how to drag the news
media back to truth and public service, kicking and screaming though that will
surely be, we will not only continue to be stuck with the political monstrosity
we now have, but it will get much, much worse.Hard to know how much farther down there is
to go...but if we don't make some drastic changes NOW, we're going to find
I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him. --Abraham Lincoln
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Where I'm From
I am from station wagons, from kool-aid and turf-builder.
I am from the three bedroom, one bath ticky-tacky box
with the swath of weedy lawn; from lightning bugs,
June bugs, and mosquitoes the size of small birds.
From nights near as hot as the days,
spread-eagled on sticky sheets
crickets creaking, horns honking,
trains rumbling and whistling in the distance…
I am from snow to the eaves, jewel-studded ice storms
and green-black thunderstorms with sideways rain.
I am from bright red tulips, honeysuckle berries,
and worms on the driveway after a cloudburst;
from daisies, tiny wild strawberries, “Queen Anne’s Lace”
and crashing the kite into power lines.
I am from “Look what followed me home from school”
and never having too many animals. From Taffy and Rusty
and Sunny, the yellow headed parakeet, who could say
“Happy Birthday” but only when he thought
no one was listening…
I am from the women who shuttle the carpool,
punch the clock, scrub the toilet,
then climb into the bottle, the herb
or the fantasy to quiet the noise in their heads
and the men they choose to rescue
or who choose to rescue them.
From “When you meet the right one, you’ll just know”
and “Your dad was a virgin when we were married…”
I am from the dutiful eldest daughter who paired off
home made and pro-created at the appointed time,
and the other four who didn’t.
I am from the tearful Catholic and the stoic agnostic;
the rope stretched taut between belief and unbelief,
pulled one direction, then the other…
the eternal tug of war never won.
I’m from pioneers of urban exile; before the country clubs and the soccer and the Rolls Royces.
I’m from the first McDonald’s and the last Tastee Freez.
I am from the great moldering box in the upstairs closet;
roaring twenties sepias stacked on
shiny square instamatic shots, discoloring with age.
I am from the five stair-steps, the Christmas trees, the campfires,
and the blurred mountains captured from a moving car.
I am from the unlikely union of a country boy and a city girl,
brought together by Hitler and Hirohito;
and the neighborhood of compromise
that kept them both sane…almost.
On Where We're Destined to Go...
As for life, I'm humbled, I'm without words sufficient to say
how it has been hard as flint, and soft as a spring pond,both of these and over and over,
and long pale afternoons besides, and so many mysteries beautiful as eggs in a nest, still unhatched though warm and watched over by something I have never seen -a tree angel, perhaps,or a ghost of holiness.
Every day I walk out into the world to be dazzled, then to be reflective. It suffices, it is all comfort - along with human love,
dog love, water love, little-serpent love,sunburst love, or love for that smallest of birds flying among the scarlet flowers.
There is hardly time to think about
stopping, and lying down at last to the long afterlife, to the tenderness yet to come, when time will brim over the singular pond, and become forever,
and we will pretend to melt away into the leaves.
As for death, I can't wait to be the hummingbird, can you?
"Sometimes I go around feeling sorry for myself; and all the while I am being carried by the wind across the sky." --Chippewa saying.