Presidential Media

Actually, no…I don’t have to #FeelTheBern

Democratic candidates 2016

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the only person guy in the race that cared about cities until he dropped out…

Although it feels like it actually started on Inauguration Day 2013, the race for the 2016 Republican and Democratic Presidential nominations actually began last night with the Iowa Caucuses…or as I like to call it, Beginning Our 21st Century Electoral Process In A Place That Looks Like America Did In The 1700s.

For far too long, the Political Pundit Class has been abuzz with expectation about the Iowa Caucuses, who will win, who will lose, and what this means for the 2016 Presidential Race.

But you’re gonna have to forgive me if I’m already kinda fatigued with the whole process. While that’s been happening earlier and earlier as I experience presidential election years as your Mad (political) Scientist, I think that this year is some kind of record.

Why? Because when our political discourse devolves to the point that people are using terms better used to describe someone you might see on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,  count me out.

Let me explain.

By now, you’ve met all of the people who hope to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when Barack and Michelle Obama move out in 2017.

Until he lost the Iowa Caucuses last night, the Republican frontrunner was Donald Trump,a man who had managed to confound everything I ever learned in Political Science class by angering and offending almost everyone without dropping a point in the polls. He was beaten by Ted Cruz, a man who wishes he had that skill, thanks to Evangelical Christians.

(Am I the only one who finds it odd that the main group in this country that complains about ISIS and Muslim caliphates is the one group that wishes it could get away with creating a caliphate of it’s own?)

Marco Rubio, a guy who appears to have gone to the Sarah Palin School of Being A Public Official came in third, Dr. Ben Carson, who was the frontrunner at one time despite his propensity to compare everything (and I do mean everything) to slavery came in fourth, with former Hewlitt-Packard CEO (and Planned Parenthood video truther) Carly Fiorina, the Man With The Golden Mop, Gov. Chris Christie, and a whole bunch of guys that you’re not hearing a lot about including Rick Santorum, Sen. Rand Paul, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (who was supposed to be the frontrunner) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who makes too much sense to be considered for the nomination.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a man whose ad based on the Adele song “Hello” is easily the frontrunner for Worst Campaign Commercial Ever, dropped out last night. Paul joined him in the “No Longer Running” category earlier today.

Which brings us to the Democrats.

Anyone who thought that Hillary Clinton wasn’t going to make another run at the presidency after losing the Democratic nomination to Obama in 2008 needs to pass around whatever you’re smoking because it’s obviously the good stuff.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who was the only person talking about cities, dropped out of the race after falling to third in the Iowa Caucuses last night. What angers me most about that is how he was treated while he was in it….which was like a third eye. I get that in our current media landscape, paying attention to more than one or two things at a time is hard, but if folks would have tried it, the country may have benefitted.

Which brings me to the only person other than Clinton that the media seems to be paying attention to: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. He and Clinton were in a statistical dead heat in the Iowa caucuses, which Hillary won by the skin of her teeth and he currently leads in New Hampshire, another one of those states that determines America’s presidential candidates despite not looking at all like America does anymore.

Sanders, who has spent his entire time in the Senate as an Independent that caucuses with the Democrats, defines himself as a Socialist in a way that indicates that he knows what Socialism actually is. He’s filling basketball stadiums with people who are really taking to his message of breaking up banks, taxing the 1 percent, and providing a free college education and healthcare to everyone.

While I have some folks in my circle of friends that call Sanders’s ideas dangerous, I don’t agree necessarily. Free school for all might make it possible for me to get the last three classes I need for my masters. While I now have health insurance, something that diabetes made hard to get before the Affordable Care Act, single payer, Medicaid for All insurance could work.

But yet, I don’t #FeelTheBern, which has led to some really uncomfortable confrontations with friends of mine who do.

When I point out that much of what Sanders wants to do is going to be tough if not impossible because one or both house of Congress is going to remain in the hands of a Republican majority that’s come real close to committing treason a few times, I’m accused of an having an “irrational hatred” of their candidate.

When I ask about Sanders’s record when it comes to people of color or policies about things I find important like education or cities, I’m either told to “do your research”, something that I’d dare you to tell to a 85-year-old Super Voter, or and this is my favorite, to clarify my so-called “liberal bonafides” because I’m asking questions that make me look like a “shape shifter”.

No. I’m not kidding. I got called that by another Sanders supporter. That kinda did it for me. Like I said, when we’re using terms better suited to an episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s a problem.

Now I understand that people are passionate about whom they support politically. I get it. And I also know that because of how passionate you are, you kinda take it personally when someone doesn’t necessarily agree with you.

But as my late Mom always put it, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, something that Sanders supporters might want to take into consideration.

I read an article in The Atlantic a while back called “Here Comes The Berniebro”, which was a mostly flattering portrait of the young, mostly White men who are spending a lot of time on Social Media and in the streets to get you to #FeelTheBern.

While in most cases they’re harmless, some of them are, well, pushy.

In another article I read on the website “Jezebel” entitled, “Bernie Sanders’ Campaign is Concerned About the BernieBro” these guys have been going around harassing women who support Clinton and coming for the neck of anyone who questions their candidate, something I’ve experienced first hand.

To be fair, Sanders’s partisans aren’t the only ones doing this stuff. Ever talk to a Trump supporter? Whew! And I spent most of the 2008 Democratic Convention dodging Clinton’s rabid PUMAs (Party Unity My Ass for those of you who may have forgotten) and the vitriol they were bringing.

Like I said, I understand passion. But as someone who spends more than a little time in the Presidential Sausage Making Factory, a registered independent, and someone who reserves the right to demand an eloquent argument for your candidate if you’re trying to get me to support them, it’s time for those who have been resorting to name calling, browbeating, and other less than helpful means to try and push me, and others like me, into the Bernie Sanders Fire Pit to back off.

Otherwise, there may be a run on aloe vera as the Democratic primaries roll on…

Aloe vera, as you know, heals burns…


Rushie wanna cracker….

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, one of the great things that the Republican primaries have managed to do so far for folks like me, folks who collect research on political campaigns and the use of coded messages,is provide us with the kind of grist for our research mills that money just can’t buy.

From Newt Gingrich’s belief that blacks should demand work instead of food stamps to Rick Santorum’s promise that he won’t give blacks your money (something he said to whites in Iowa) to Mitt Romney’s newfound use of race baiting, a use born of his recent win in the Florida Primaries, the grist for the code word research mill is such that it’s hard to keep up with.

But because he’s got millions of listeners and a need for attention that would rival any 5-year-old boy, I knew that Rush Limbaugh would provide me and my fellow political code word researchers with something we all probably thought that no one would come up with.

Apparently, he’s given himself a title that I’m sure that many people of color might have wanted to give him years ago, but were far too polite to do so.

That title: well, our favorite Oxycontin addict has decided to call himself “The Big Cracker.

Now why would he do that?

Well, I’ve found in the past that it’s best to let Mr. Limbaugh speak for himself, so….

Well, isn’t that special?

I guess that if anyone is going to be “The Big Cracker” in this election, Limbaugh is as good a choice as any. I feel kinda bad for Juan Williams, though. If he felt disrespected by National Public Radio, I can only imagine how played he feels by a group that he thought were his brothers in arms…

But here’s the thing. If the idea is to do what I call The Racist Shuffle, which basically amounts to “I’m gonna call you a racist for pointing out that racism still exists…” Limbaugh did it badly. My guess was that his whole idea was to somehow insulate himself and his fellow travelers from charges of racism by doing the whole “Big Cracker” thing.

Too bad it won’t work…especially in an election year that seems to include the musings of folks like Gingrich and Santorum and stuff like this…

No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. This is a campaign commercial that has chosen to portray President Barack Obama as a slave ship captain.

Now here’s the irony of all of this. The Republicans allegedly want more people of color to vote for them. I know someone who has spent much of her time as one of the most high powered Republicans I know trying to get more people of color to consider the party as their political home. In fact, I just saw a guy get ripped a new on by the Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC over this issue…

Personally, I wouldn’t mind that. I think that people of color need to have their fingers in every pie possible. If we’re not everywhere we can be, and in decision making positions in these places, we shouldn’t be surprised when our issues aren’t considered.

However, by the same token, you should never stay somewhere where you’ve been shown in more than a few ways that you’re not wanted. If I’m a Herman Cain right now, I’m sticking my foot up the behind of someone in the GOP leadership and telling them to tell EVERYONE that this crap isn’t cool, isn’t acceptable, and is gonna cost us votes we can’t afford to lose…

I wonder if they’d listen….

But then again, I wonder if they really care.

Once you go black…

I remember when Sarah Palin first became John McCain’s presidential running mate. She was an enigma to most of us because the last thing that we in the lower 48 do is pay a lot of attention to who is running that State Up North and To The Right. So while the Republicans thought she was, and this is quoting one of the magazine covers she graced back then, “The Hottest Governor in the Country”, the rest of us simply said, “Sarah who?”

But from that moment on, we’ve learned so much about Sarah Palin she’s practically family. Granted, she’s the Black Sheep of the family, but she’s family nonetheless.

We were there when she sent out the press release that let everyone know that her daughter Bristol was pregnant, something that has led to a radio show, television appearances, and as a stint as the poster child for abstaining from sex before marriage for teens. We were there when she went out on a bus and showed the entire world that she slept through American History class. (See the post “Me, My Horsey and a Quart of Beer” on this blog…)

And now, we’re learning that not only was she possibly the most unprofessional news reporter in the free world, but that if she had actually made it our of Alaska, her reporting style could have set female sports reporters back at least 50 years.

In the new book The Rogue: Searching For the Real Sarah Palin author Joe McGinnis tells us a whole gang of things that we may not have known about La Palin. Things like she’s done a little cocaine. Like she’s messed around on her husband Todd both before and after they got married. Like she got it on with former NBA star Glen Rice when he was playing for the University of Michigan in the Great Alaska Shoot-Out and she was a sports reporter covering the tournament.

it’s that last one that seems to have gotten the most notice.

(I could make some snide remark about how this makes sense considering that Rice played for Michigan and guys from Michigan have really bad taste, but I’ll try and leave the whole Michigan/Ohio State thing out of this.)

In any case, the reason why the tryst, which took place in her sister’s college dorm room according to the book, is getting so much notice is because (a) Rice admitted to it, (b) he’s black, she’s not, and a lot of Palin’s political rhetoric implies that she believes black men problematic and (c) when you go around wagging your finger at people who engage in the kind of behavior you appeared to have engaged in yourself, the word “hypocrite” starts getting thrown in your direction.

Naturally, those who are Palin partisans have labeled the book “petty”, and filled with lies and innuendo. Even the New York Times Review of Books, not a publication that LaPalin would read frequently if her television interviews are any indication, have panned the book.

But good or bad, people are buzzing about it.

Now to be honest, part of the reason for that buzz stems from the fact that Sarah Palin is about as likable to some people as a bad case of poison ivy. Some folks don’t think she’s very bright. She’s kinda irritating because she believes that we all ought to aspire to live in a land where only the rich have health insurance, the poor deserve to be there, and folks like her should have a say on whether or not you have a kid.

So being able to give her grief about her Black Man Fetish (according to the book, not me) is probably some folks’ idea of fun.
But I really could have gone my entire life without knowing about her peccadilloes.

However, I am really, really glad that she didn’t decide to stay in my line of work. Having someone who would sleep with a potential source, especially when that source was a college kid and they’re a professional journalist, working with me would be a nightmare I don’t want to think about.

You see, once upon a time I was a sports reporter. I covered the Phillies and the Eagles for WRTI, Temple University’s Public Radio Station. I had always been a big football fan, so naturally I wanted to cover the Eagles game when they played my favorite team, the Oakland Raiders.

The Sports Editor, a guy who I really liked otherwise, told me that I had to cover a Temple football game before he’d let me cover the pros. So I did. But he didn’t let me cover the Raiders game despite my being more knowledgable of professional football than most of the GUYS in the newsroom.

I then asked if I could cover the Eagles/Miami Dolphins game. Again, I was told that I had to cover another Temple football game before I could go and cover the pros.

(Did I mention that Temple’s football team was simply abysmal in the early 1990s? Those two games added up to six hours of my life that I’ll never get back!)

So after putting myself through another Temple football game, I asked for the newsroom credential for the Eagles game. The Sports Editor told me that he didn’t think it would be a good idea if I were allowed to cover the game because “girls don’t go to these games to cover the game…”

I went to the News Director, taking the Sports Editor with me, and told the both of them that either I get the Eagles credential, or they’d get to me my attorney and the EEOC when the discrimination lawsuit goes to trial.

I got to go, but the message was really clear to me: If I was going to cover sports, I’d have to kick the whole professionalism thing up another notch. I don’t wear button down shirts unless I have a sweater on over it. If I wear a skirt, i’ll also wear tights instead of panty hose. I’m friendly to the men I interview, but I don’t flirt.

In other words, I make sure that these guys know that I’m there to do a job, and while I know this job may require that i kiss your ass a little, I won’t be giving you head. That’s a far too intimate act that I don’t like you enough to even consider doing. Besides, you’ve got a wife and a whole lot of groupies for that.

Or, if you’re Glen Rice, you have Sarah Palin.

On that note, some Parliament/Funkadelic…

Me, my horsey, and a quart of beer…

Since rolling into Washington with a mandate worthy of Gil Scott-Heron’s derision (Get on the Google and type in “B-Movie” if that statement confuses you), the Tea Party folks (or as we like to call them here at the M(P)S, the folks who actually run the modern Republican Party), have been regaling us with all of their talk of the Constitution and how we should practice strict adherence to it.

Only problem is, it kind of helps if you know what the document says yourself before you try and teach it to other people. At least two high school students have challenged future Republican Presidential Candidate Michelle Bachmann to Constitutional debates because of some of the stuff that’s come out of her mouth…like that the Founding Fathers tried to end slavery and that the government should be able to regulate all of the press…except Fox News because she likes them!…(thank you Mother Jones!)

But by far, the lead Dumb Brunette of the Tea Party was, and still is, former Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin. From the moment that John McCain felt the burning need to bring her on the scene to the (unintentionally) side-splitting interview that she did with Katie Couric on the campaign trail, Palin proves every day that it is possible to have just enough knowledge to be dangerous…

Lately, she’s been on a tour of National Parks and historic sites. She stopped by Independence Hall here in Philly recently and talked with folks as part of her “not really campaigning for president, but I’m gonna announce any day” tour. She’s brought her family along and the press has been following her like a pack of wild hounds, something that inspired the following from my friend and Atlanta Post columnist Charing Ball…

“If Sarah Palin were a sexually transmitted disease, she would be herpes. Not that I think she is a nasty, scabby wart that comes with a reoccurring itch, but just like the STD, just when you think Palin is gone, here she comes again to seriously mess up your day.”

(That is the bestest lede for a story I’ve seen all year, by the way!)

As part of the Palin Does America tour, she went to Boston…and felt the need to tell us the story of Paul Revere and his Midnight Ride. Rather than tell you about it, here’s the video…

There are days where I really wish that I could make this stuff up. But I can’t. I’m not that good.

But based on this, can we, the mainstream (or lamestream in the words of Palin the Intellectual Giant) media now and forever ignore this woman?! Please?!

As part of her tour across America, Palin had dinner with Alderman Davis, oops, I mean Donald Trump.

That these two knuckleheads broke bread says a lot.

One, it says that the Republican Party is, officially, no longer capable of controlling its crazies or encouraging its best and brightest to take center stage. When your presidential candidates (or candidate wannabees) include folks like Trump, Palin, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain (whom the Tea Party has trotted out to show that it isn’t racist) and the like, you’re not bargaining from a position of strength.

And secondly, it also says that the Mainstream Media is in more trouble than I originally thought. The fact that there’s a busload of reporters following someone who so obviously didn’t pay attention in elementary American History is telling. Palin is pretty…pretty vacant…but in a day and age where media organizations are cutting out international bureaus to save money, is following this dimwit really the best capital investment?

I think not.

But as long as Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and the other Tea Party Dumb Brunettes are out there, folks who should be focusing on stuff like the Middle East, the economy, or just about anything else of substance will be forced by the media to focus on their shenanigans instead.

Think about this the next time that you see a survey that shows that our kids are slowly becoming as dumb as a box of rocks…

I leave you with a group who is probably better versed in American History than Sarah Palin ever will be…the Beastie Boys…

Revering the Alaskan…

ABC’s Charlie Gibson, one of the two jokers who took two hours of my life from me in April in the name of a presidential debate that focused more on flag pins and preachers than it did on issues, has the honor of being the first non-Fox News media person to interview GOP Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

But after listening to NPR’s “Morning Edition” this morning, I don’t think that I’ll be the next reporter to sit down with La Palin.

Why? Because I only show reverence to one person in this world and she’s about 5’1″, lives in New Jersey, and answers to “Mom”.

According to the report I heard on “Morning Edition”, John McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, said that the reason why Palin wasn’t being made available to the press was because the campaign believed she wouldn’t be treated with “respect and reverence.”

Now, respect you’ll get from me. I respect all of my sources, even the ones that I feel like smacking around. I’ll ask you questions based on my research, use the proper addresses and make sure that I quote you directly and correctly.

But reverence? For reverence, you had to give birth to me. Since the only person who qualifies for that is 5’1″, lives in New Jersey, and looks nothing like Sarah Palin, Madame Governor is kind of out of luck.

Since reverence is something I’ve never been asked for from a source, I don’t know how to react to this. And what does reverence mean in this case? Does it mean that I have to have my questions come through one of your handlers before I ask them? Do I have to curtsy before I enter the room to talk to you?

Besides, I’m having a hard time seeing why you deserve my reverence, Ms. Palin.

First of all, you’re far too cozy with the National Rifle Association. Since I live in a city where guns have killed far too many folks, and the only person I do revere, my mom, knows better than that, you’ve lost me right there.

Secondly, your policy papers indicate a trend toward abuse of power and wanting to give the government far too much control over my reproductive functions. I believe that if you don’t want to have an abortion (or marry a gay person), don’t. But don’t make that decision for the rest of us. It’s presumptious.

And thirdly, it’s really hard for me to revere someone who calls themselves “a pit bull in lipstick” yet is ready to pull the “frail female flower” card when it comes to facing me and my fellow travelers in the Fourth Estate. You’re running for one of the top two elected offices in the United States, Ms. Palin. If you want to be seen as a true pit bull, might I suggest that you grow a set?!

So, as much as I would love to interview the governor of Alaska, it’s an interview I probably won’t get.

But you know what i’d like to see? I’d like to see Rick Davis come at Oprah Winfrey with the whole reverance thing when it comes to her being on her show. That would be worth the ticket to Chicago.

The Learning Curve

That was the sound that awoke me from a pretty sound sleep at 2 a.m. Monday morning.
My Significant Other was floating around on the Internet when he came across the picture accompanying this post on the National Association of Black Journalists Sports Task Force listserve.
He described it to me and I sort of knew why I was sitting up in bed bleary eyed instead of sound asleep.
For those of you to whom it may look familiar, it’s a take-off on another picture that you’ve seen on this blog, attached to a post entitled “This is Our Moment”.
The only difference, aside fron the way the couple is dressed, the flag in the fireplace, and the portrait of Osama Bin Laden on the wall, is that in its original form, the live shot of Barack and Michelle Obama giving each other a “pound” isn’t the kind of picture that tends to piss off a sportswriter with a masters degree in African American Studies.
He woke me up to make sure that he wasn’t mad alone.
He shouldn’t have bothered because the “I’m Mad at the New Yorker” club was already full.
To give you a full representation of the reaction to this picture from the members of my tribe who saw it, they ranged from “Fuck the New Yorker” to “What were they thinking?” Even the Office Manager at my job stopped me to ask about it.
Now having been a professional smart ass for the better part of 44 years, I can tell you where the New Yorker was going with this. They were using the time-honored method of satire to talk about all of the different rumors going around about the Obamas.
By now, you’ve heard ’em all. He’s a Muslim. His wife hates America. He was educated in a radical Islamic madrassa in Singapore. Hell, if you’ve watched Fox News for longer than five minutes, something I’d never encourage because it’ll rot your brain faster than “The Jerry Springer Show”, you’ve probably heard a few I haven’t yet.
Personally, I can see the funny in some of it. This particular batch of rumors and innuendo just cries to be made fun of.
But because there are just enough folks who believe that this is what an Obama White House is going to look like, it’s hard for black folks in particular to allow themselves to get in on the joke.
Don’t believe me? Listen to National Public Radio sometime. I can’t tell you how many folks from the so-called “Heartland” have called Obama “Osama” during the primary season.
Because of this, if the artist who did this portrait is at all smart, he’ll stay away from this week’s NAACP convention in Cincinnati. I can name at least 20 black folks off of the top of my head who would cheerfully whup his ass and they may be in attendance.
But while this is an annoyance, it’s also a sign that class is going to be in session during this Presidential Cycle, especially since we now have a Black Man trying to bring his family to the White House.
We’re going to find out where we really are on race relations. We’re going to find out just how “progressive” our progressives are. We’re going to find out if white America can put aside some if its fears of a black man to elect one to its highest office.
But most importantly, we’re going to find out just how much of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, a dream that he said was based on this nation’s ideas, the United States of America is ready to live.
On Thursday, Aug. 28, the 45th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech, we officially start learning.
Here’s hoping that we don’t have a really steep curve.