Monday, January 23, 2017

Memo to Trump administration: When the media reports your lies, it isn’t bias

The duty of the press is to inform the public when the president or his administration lies, even about the silliest of matters

It seems that whenever conservatives say stupid things that get reported on, their first inclination is to blame the messenger.

Crowd sizes, Obama's 1st inauguration vs Trump's
That’s exactly what they’re doing following the first full weekend of Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, was adamant about promulgating many falsehoods in his first meeting with the press, including saying that the size of Trump’s inauguration crowds were the largest ever, prompting many in the media to point out that, no, they were not.

It is important for the press to report on the facts, even on something as silly as the size of one’s inauguration crowds. If our leaders are willing to misinform and lie on a matter as simple as that, the people ought to be made aware of it.

But some took the reporting of false information as media bias. Kellyanne Conway, for instance, went on Meet the Press on Sunday and announced that Spencer wasn’t spreading falsehoods, but was merely utilizing “alternative facts.”

Host Chuck Todd rightly called her out for using such Orwellian language, correcting her and stating that, “Alternative facts aren't facts, they are falsehoods.”

Conway was quick to respond with a jab at the media. “[I]f we’re going to keep referring to our Press Secretary in those types of terms I think that we’re going to have to rethink our relationship here,” she said, implying that she might not be friendly to Todd or anyone else who questions the administration’s narratives.

She’s not the only one who thinks the media is being unfair to Trump. This morning, Rudy Giuliani, who was a huge supporter of the president during his campaign, said, “I’d feel a lot better if Chuck [Todd] and the others would just admit they don't like Trump, they’re against Trump and they're going to view facts in the light most unfavorable to him.”

But that’s not what happened. Chuck Todd’s personal opinions aside, he asked Conway to defend the administration’s views that the crowd sizes were the largest in history. The facts were against those claims, and it’s not “media bias” to suggest the administration has a disconnect with reality.

If the Trump administration can’t handle the fact that the media is going to question them from time-to-time, then this is going to be a very frustrating four years for Trump and his underlings. In the meantime, the media needs to be careful about how they depict their interactions with this administration – Conway, Spicer, and other Trump supporters are going to do their very best to paint the false “media bias” narrative as much as possible.

The media needs to continue reporting false statements, but at the same time be sure to let the public know that the childish reactions made by administration officials are just that: childish. And they need to reiterate, every time they do so, that reporting on false information supplanted by Trump and his surrogates isn’t bias – it’s simply delivering the truth to the people at a time when Trump refuses to do so.

Friday, January 20, 2017

A quick message on Day One of the Trump presidency

Reasoned dissent is beautiful – resist the urge to become complacent in the age of Trump

I woke up this morning feeling lousy. And yes, it has everything to do with the inauguration of Donald Trump.

The past eight years of Barack Obama haven’t been perfect. Obstruction from Republicans made it nearly impossible for some of his proposals to even get consideration. But the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, cleared the path for many to get access to insurance (and to receive health care that they actually paid for). Gains in the LGBT community were also achieved, including the right for gay and lesbian couples to marry the person they love. Obama saved the auto industry, and his stimulus package ensured that America, teetering on the edge of economic collapse when he was inaugurated, would instead recover.

And recover we did. We have had 75 straight months of jobs growth under Obama’s watch, amounting to more than 15.6 million private sector jobs being created during his tenure. The economy still has a way to go to recover in many respects, but Obama’s leadership has helped the nation get back on its footing, and then some.

His departure is sad – and his replacement, even sadder. Donald Trump, in my mind, represents the worst in America. He’s bigoted toward the African-American community. He spreads racist falsehoods about Latino immigrants, and has suggested plans for placing identifiers on followers of Islam. He’s misogynistic, and has bragged about sexually assaulting women. And his policies are a Republican’s dream, on steroids, come true.

I could become complacent. I could say, “This is it – I’m done.” But nothing good ever came from someone giving up on fighting for a just cause. So I’m dedicated to, over the next four years, fight back against the reactionary Trump presidency.

This blog began eight years ago, just after Barack Obama was sworn in as president. As we now enter the Trump presidency, this blog will continue to exist, to point out inaccurate statements and policy positions that the new administration will undoubtedly take, and to promote liberalism as the righteous path, which the nation will hopefully take in 2018 during the midterm elections, and in 2020 after that.

I am happy to be a part of the growing movement to resist Donald Trump. His presidency, his behavior cannot become normalized. And when he’s gone, it’s going to be up to us, “We the People,” to find his replacement, someone who will be able to restore the dignity and stature of the presidency.

Reasoned dissent is a beautiful thing. Don’t ever believe otherwise.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

An Open Letter To Sheriff David Clarke: Grow Up!

Sheriff Clarke’s actions are bullyish, and it’s time he recognize who’s really throwing a tantrum over his latest controversy

To: Sheriff David Clarke

The badge you wear, the position you currently hold, is one of honor. Members of the law enforcement community deserve our utmost respect, for they put their lives on the line every day to ensure that our communities are safe places to reside in. Those who serve in leadership roles within law enforcement, who give officers the direction and inspiration to serve day-in and day-out, similarly deserve to be recognized for their valor.

Sadly, you dishonor your position with your petty actions and narcissistic attitudes, utilizing aspects of your office to further your own selfish needs. I can think of a plethora of examples – one particular incident comes to mind when you blatantly suggested that Republicans should use terrorist events in Paris to further their political aims – but your latest action exemplifies exactly why you are unfit to serve as sheriff any longer, much less hold any position within the law enforcement for fear of further abusing your position of power.

If media reports are to be believed, you used intimidation tactics against a citizen of Milwaukee County following a recent plane ride the two of you shared. Sheriff deputies, acting under your orders, allegedly detained and questioned this individual and escorted him out of the airport following an “altercation” the two of you had on the plane.

That “altercation,” according to reports, was simply the man shaking his head when he discovered he was on the plane on you.

Did that warrant harassment? Most would argue it did not.

But let’s presume that these events were imaginary. Let’s presume this man made up the story – a generous presumption indeed, since you haven’t yet denied it having occurred. Even if we allow that presumption to be granted, it’s not just these actions that warrant concern. Your actions IN THE AFTERMATH of this alleged incident are equally reprehensible.

Following news reports of what this man has claimed, your office released the following statement: “Next time he or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out,” adding, “The sheriff said he does not have to wait for some goof to assault him. He reserves the reasonable right to pre-empt a possible assault.”

This apparently wasn’t enough for you, however, because the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page later put out a meme deriding the man as a “snowflake” and saying he was throwing a tantrum.

But there is clearly a misunderstanding here – it is you who is throwing a tantrum. It is you who is insisting that this man be continually harassed.

It is frightening to what extent you are willing to go to in order to make yourself seem relevant in this situation, to make yourself seem “the victor” when it comes to how you come out of this. More disturbing, your vindictive pursuit of intimidation is putting on full display the true nature of your character, which is indisputably that of a bully.

In closing, Sheriff Clarke, I have a simple message for you. You, sir, are the snowflake. You are the one demanding special attention to yourself. You are the one behaving like a fool, and you are the one who is in the wrong.

The solution to all of this is to own your mistake, to accept responsibility for your actions. Apologize at once, and show that you’re capable of displaying a pinch of humility, and with that some semblance of humanity.

As a former resident of Milwaukee, I am still proud of the city and the surrounding communities that make up the county as a whole. Your actions, however, are embarrassing. Do yourself a favor, and do Milwaukee County a tremendous amount of service, and GROW UP already. Better yet, RESIGN.

Your behavior would not be tolerable in a third grade classroom. And it’s far past time that you recognize just how childish you’ve been.


Chris Walker