Journalism: Where Do We Go From Here?

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​In recent days, as the Democratic field grows exponentially each day, we’ve seen a return to 2016 coverage by the media: Trump takes over every news cycle with new crazy, Bernie is in the lead, Buttigeig speaks eight languages, Elizabeth Warren’s unlikable, Kamala Harris is too hard, Amy Klobucher is too mean, ranch dressing, fried chicken, infer vs implied! Are the women ready? Too emotional? That’s almost sounds like a joke considering who we have in the Oval Office right now.

I saw a headline just this morning that Trump had a new nickname for Pete Buttigeig. How is that a headline for a news organization? Four reporters covered this story for the “news” organization! Have we learned nothing in the last two years?

Not to  mention that news anchors and pundits continue to drown us in whataboutism, false equivalency, and but both sides.

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Press Freedom Day

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Today is Press Freedom Day. Now more than ever, we need to protect our access to news and world events from a free and independent press. Here are some links that should definitely spend some time today reading:

World Press Freedom Day

Bipartisan Call to Protect Journalists
Why the Times is taking down its paywall (and at the end of the three days, think about subscribing)

Taking Stock on Press Freedom Day

Committee to Protect Journalists

September – Back to School – Photo/Art

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Clockwise: Flag and Fireworks, Preamble to the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson quote about freedom of the press, Scales of Justice. (c)2018

In honor of last week’s Constitution Day as well as attempting to counter the current narrative in this country that the press are the enemy of the people and wrong is right. I have faith in our country, but more importantly its people that we can turn this crazy train around and get back on the right track.

This is Not Normal

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​Everytime I sit down and try to write about the ongoing crisis in this country, I choke up. I get sad. I get furious, and I can’t write or even think about it. I try to avoid the pundits, but this week, everyone sounds like a pundit.

My aim with this post has been to provide places to find out information apart from Fox News and dog whistle sites that stoke the fires of fury and hatred.

Everyday, a friend on my Facebook shares lies and misinformation, not because he wants to create dissention, but because he truly believes the nonsense. This isn’t just one person’s opinion. We all have opinions, but as the saying goes, you’re not entitled to your own facts.

I will not abide the both sides argument. 

Fox News and the right wing media are so far gone it’s moved beyond false equivalency. Whenever the left is told to meet in the middle and compromise, the right forgets that we’ve moved so far right to get along, to meet in the “middle”, to compromise that center is right, and it’s still not good enough for the right wing.

In 2009, during the health care reform debate, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan said, no compromise. Now, with a Republican President, they’re all about compromise.. They don’t care how hypocritical they are or how their ignoring more than half the country feels. And to be honest, they don’t care. They want what they want, like a child having a tantrum, and they don’t care who they have to bulldoze to get it.

Democrats are inclusive. We don’t always agree on everything because we are so diverse. We want to, and always try to include conservative priorities, but it’s hard when the GOP continually changes it’s mind and the goal posts. President Obama’s health care reform was originally a Republican idea that was admired by the most conservative of Republicans until Obama adopted it.

They, Mitch McConnell, and his complicit Congress, refused to seat President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, refused to even vote on him, but now, with a President, who just two days ago, on international television put, not only a foreign government, but a hostile foreign government who attacked our country over our country, they’re moving ahead with the least popular Supreme Court nominee ever. The President defended the Russian election interference, and disparaged our intelligence agencies. I would have never thought I’d see the day that the Republicans would side with Russia over the United States of America. And after seeing his lukewarm “clarification” a day later, it only confirms many of our worse fears.

We are the majority in this country; why are we the one who are always expected to compromise? The right should move left to meet where the country actually is.

The rest of this post is a list of recommended readings and Twitter/social media followings that you should try to check out. It is important to each one of us to gather the information from reliable sources, and extrapolate our own opinions.

Later in the week, I will share the recommendation portion of this post for anyone who wants to share it without my above opinions. After all, I can tell you what I think, and where I got my information from; I can debunk and correct, but I can’t make you think. I can’t force the truth upon you. That is up to you to accept, but I also don’t have to listen to the lies and I won’t accept half-truths as truth.

The first section are political books that I’ve read this year and last that I would recommend. Some are very current as to the Trump Administration, what’s going on right now, and since the 2016 Election, and where we go from here. 

After that, I’ve included the sources I read, primarily on Twitter, including some pundits from both sides of the aisle to check out to get the full story of what’s going on in our country right now. I think it’s telling that most of the news shows I watched today included significant video of Fox News sounding remarkably like MSNBC.

If you look at a resource on this list, and think they are too liberal or too conservative, take a look anyway. Give them a few days to get a feel for how they address issues, and what they say, and then decide who you want to follow to get your information.

For a daily wrap-up, MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams does a nice roundup of the day’s news so you can catch up and hit Google after or in the morning for more in-depth information.

Lastly, I would highly suggest that you read, or re-read George Orwell’s 1984. I re-read it at the end of 2016, and I had forgotten most of the story. It was eye-opening, and chilling.

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Resist Peacefully – Five

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DEFEND THE PRESS

They are our first line of defense in allowing facts to remain important and valuable to all of us in this new media/Trump age.

Subscribe to print news sources.

Follow reputable news sources online and on Facebook.

Support journalists through

Committee to Protect Journalists,

the ACLU,

and the American Society of Journalists and Authors

Election Reflection – Mr. Trump’s Cabinet and Conflicts of Interest

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I had originally intended to post these two topics separately, but the more I read and the more I thought about it, I realized that just like President-Elect Trump and his conflicts, his Cabinet has their own conflicts. In addition, there are conflicts between his Cabinet and himself that are being ignored. One question that should be asked is why has he picked who he picked?
After spending the whole campaign touting how he’d hire the best of the best in their respective fields to run the departments they have the experience with to make the best difference, this is who he has come  up with.

To quote the PEOTUS, “sad!”

What makes Ben Carson qualified to be the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development? The original pretense was that Dr. Carson lived in federal housing, commonly known as The Projects, but it’s been revealed and confirmed that he did not, in fact, live in low-income housing. He certainly grew up poorer than he is now, more than likely poorer than I was at the same age growing up in urban/suburbia, but it sounds like I’m more qualified. I mean, we’ve both lived in a house.

Betsy DeVos. Nominee for Secretary of Education. In this case, I actually am more qualified than Ms. DeVos, and should be considered for this Cabinet position. After all, I have a Master’s degree in Educational Issues, a Bachelor’s in elementary education, a graduate minor in medieval studies, and an undergraduate minor in political science. I am certified to teach in New York state from nursery/preschool through fifth grade, and from 7th to 12th grade in the subject of social studies. My certification in New York also makes me qualified to teach in several other states due to reciprocity. I was a teacher for a decade. I worked for the MWR department of the Department of the Navy and wrote the child development curriculums for their preschool aged program. How am I not a candidate for this Cabinet position? Could it be that I didn’t contribute exorbitant amounts of money to Mr. Trump’s campaign or to the RNC?

NSA Director nominee, Michael Flynn. A conspiracy theorist who recently tweeted about a Hillary Clinton connection to a pizza place, a false story that almost got someone killed when an armed gunman (are there any other kinds?) showed up looking for answers..

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson who can’t answer a simple question about what Exxon/Mobil thought about climate change while he was there. Not now that he’s no longer with the company, but while he was there.

Do I really need to explain the objections to Senator Jeff Sessions? I think it might be different if over the past several years his attitude and opinions had changed, but they hadn’t. How can someone who doesn’t believe in civil rights for everyone be tasked with protecting everyone’s civil rights?

Winning the election partly on criticizing Clinton’s speeches at Goldman Sachs, cherry-picking her words to fit his narrative, as well as Ted Cruz’s wife’s association with them, and then hiring three, or is it four, former Goldman Sachs employees to run the economic aspect of his Administration.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry for the Department of Energy, an area that when he was running for President said he would disband.

A head of the EPA that doesn’t believe that man contributes to global warming.

A head of Labor who was just described on Monday as not liking all of the blowback and “all the paperwork”. Being an employer, in fast food, no less doesn’t make you an expert in labor practices.

Searching for an Hispanic to run Agriculture. I guess because they know the most about farming because of crossing the border illegally to be migrant workers, right?

Mr. Trump declaring that jobs stay in the US but at the same time applying for a waiver for his companies to hire foreign labor as visiting workers.

The fiction of his transition team’s insistence that Mexico will pay for ‘the wall’. They won’t. They’ve said they won’t. Raising the import tariffs on Mexican goods will only negatively affect the poor people who the cost will be passed onto.

Chief of Staff Reince Preibus and incoming White House spokesman, Sean Spicer talking about moving the press corps away from the West Wing to accomodate more reporters. That is such a smokescreen. Have the main news groups stay there and rotate the other press passes. It’s really not that hard. And don’t threaten to throw out someone for simply doing their job. Watch some tapes of Josh Earnest, Robert Gibbs, and Ari Fleischer to get a feel for it if you’re that out of touch. Add Breitbart if you want. Just don’t let them sit in Helen Thomas’ seat. 

In addition, Mr. Preibus told news outlets that the ethics department needs to watch how they cover Mr. Trump and implied that there would be retaliation. It was basically reminiscent of The Incredible Hulk television series – you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry or unethical; whatever.

It’s not a Cabinet position, but bringing on Robert Kennedy Jr. as the head of his vaccine safety committee. Hiring someone already indisposed against vaccines instead of someone who has some kind of medical background just doesn’t make sense.

But what in this Cabinet does? It seems like Mr. Trump looked at a list of who is the most against this department and that’s who he picked to run it; the one person who will run it into the ground. Or they are the one person who will personally benefit from the changes they will implement in their department. Either way, it is not effective as a leadership role or reducing the conflicts of interest.

Most of these nominees haven’t undergone the required ethics committee clearance and haven’t completed the paperwork for the ethics committee. Senator Mitch McConnell is the biggest hypocrite of them all, suggesting that the ethics requirements can come later when he said the exact opposite in 2008/09 for President Obama’s nominees, who did not have any problem meeting the ethics guidelines

And let’s not forget the transition team’s request for the names of people in the energy department working on climate change/global warming issues and those civil servants working on women’s issues including family planning and contraception. The Trump transition team requested of Congress, and received a revival of an 1876 rule, the Holman Rule, gone since 1983, that will allow the new Administration to reduce federal workers pay to $1, thereby eliminating the need to actually fire people illegally, but force them to quit if they want to continue to support their families.

This is a Cabinet and an Administration starting things on the wrong foot, trying to swindle the people of the United States through showmanship and rhetoric and Twitter into creating a windfall for themselves.

We the people are the only ones to stand in their way, and we must act. We must Resist and use our First Amendment rights through speech, assembly and supporting the Free and Independent Press while we still can. Anyone who thinks this is hyperbole, please go look and see what the transition team has already done to benefit themselves. Follow Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary, Dan Rather, and Connie Schultz as well as the political team at Vox. Visit my new page for links and suggestions on places to read about what’s going on.

It’s up to us.

Somewhere I Read

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This is part of Dr. King’s last speech, given in Memphis, Tennessee the night before his assassination.

They are words to remember; today, tomorrow, Friday, and for the next four years:

First excerpt:

All we say to America is, “Be true to what you said on paper.” If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn’t committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren’t going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren’t going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.

Second excerpt, beginning at 1:20:

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

Election Reflection – The Press

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​I spent half an hour on Sunday night writing about a free press. It was a little bit ranty, but it was a first draft. Before book and bed, I went to Facebook to catch up on my friends, and my entire feed was filled with Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes.

As a writer, it pains me to say that sometimes others can say what you are trying to say better than you could possibly, and that happened Sunday night. Meryl Streep was right on track with what I wanted to say, only much more eloquently than I could say it. I will still try my hand, and I will include a video of Meryl and a transcript of what she said.

Before anything else, I would like to note that the President-Elect responded exactly how predicted, on Twitter, in the early hours of the morning, and with name-calling. It is easy to dismiss this simply as a child’s ravings, but unfortunately, this man is not a child; in a few short days he will be the President of the United States.

His response to any kind of criticism is through mocking, name-calling, and falsehood. This needs to stop, and if it doesn’t stop, it needs to be called out at every turn where it affects our rights, most especially our Bill of Rights, and our First Amendment, the one that makes all the other ones possible.

The First acknowledges and legally supports our speech, our gatherings, our independent and free press, and our religion. There is no minimum age or maximum age on it. It is there for everyone, with few, very few, exceptions.

Benjamin Franklin was a member of the press. As was Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Matthew Brady, and in our modern days, Edward R. Murrow and Woodward and Bernstein. Without the Press, there may have never been a Revolution or Constitution at all, beginning with Broadsheets to Weeklies to Dailies to Television News. Without the Press, there would have been no Nixon resignation, no disclosure of Iraq’s lack of weapons or the change from the Soviet Union back to Russia.

The Press must stand alone and independent.

Yes, ther eis a place for pundits and punditry, opinions, and editorials, but in all of that, the truth must be adhered to.

Post-truth simply means untruths.

Facts are not negotiable. You can agree or not, but you can’t change them. We can’t pretend that they don’t exist. 

Since becoming President-Elect, Mr. Trump has tweeted, his primary source of communication, and in tweeting, he has caused three multibillion dollar American companies to lose more than two billion dollars because of impulsive and untrue things he’s said. He’s caused a rift with China, and through his words encouraged them to take one of our technological properties in international waters. They’ve lodged a formal complaint. He’s taken the sides of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Alex Jones (a crackpot if ever I saw one, but of course that’s only my opinion) over the NSA and the Intelligence community that the rest of us understand to be professionals and nonpartisan. He’s continued his personal attacks on television programs and personalities, last night’s being the last egregious. He called Meryl Streep overrated. Now, I can guarantee, ven not knowing her that this does not bother her. She’s been called worse by better, I’m sure, and certainly overratedness is an opinion, but really? Meryl Streep? Overrated? I’m not sure that’s an accurate assessment of not only her acting ability, but her personal decorum and behavior.

We, as citizens of this country, and the Press need to call it out when their hypocrisy takes over.

On The Walking Dead, the character of Rick was admonishing his barely a teenager son by telling him, “Don’t Talk. Think.” I made it into an art project actually. Perhaps someone should tell the President-Elect, “Don’t Tweet. Think.” It would help the rest of us who just want to survive the next four years intact.

Supporting the Press isn’t just reading and taking sides. It’s also promoting their investigative journalism even when it goes against our own opinions. It is also donating to groups like the one Meryl Streep suggested, the Committee to Protect Journalists as well, I would suggest as the ACLU. It is also subscribing to  news organizations, print newspapers and magazines like The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic.

The Free Press needs to remain independent in order to be free.

Note: Before inauguration day, I will have a new page with links that will highlight news sources, journalists, and organizations meant to keep the checks and balance on the new Administration and the GOP led Congress. Most are nonpartisan. If there is an opinion/editorial writer or organization, I hope to label it as such.

Transcript of Meryl Streep’s Acceptance Speech (provided by Entertainment Weekly):

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