Tag Archives: CNN

Stormy Daniels, Slut Shaming, and the Diminishing Returns of Writing about Trump

Twitter dilemma

It’s very unsatisfying to write about US politics, especially in relation to Trump because whatever outrages me at the moment will soon be overshadowed by another scandal that is bound to come. That, plus with the myriad of controversies surrounding the administration, focusing on one scandal would seem to be doing a disservice to the other scandals/crises which are of equal importance. Just off the top of my head, on March 22, 2018, there is the Russian collusion and Trump’s piety towards Putin where he appears to be bullied/extorted right in front of the world (Putin: Say you congratulated me on my election victory. Trump: Yes, sir.), there is the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal which makes me really want to delete my long-abandoned Facebook account, there is the continuing gun crisis as well as violence against black people, there is the scandal of firing Andrew McCabe 26 hours prior to his retirement, the list goes on and on.

For now, let me focus on Stormy Daniels. There are countless of articles and videos explaining what she’s doing and why she’s doing them. Perhaps she’s doing this for money, exposure, whatever, I’m not really interested in that. She can do whatever she wants, and I really don’t hold it against her for sleeping with Trump back then (he was a goofy character on television). I don’t want to put Ms. Stephanie Clifford in too high a pedestal, but I really do admire how she handles Trump’s defenders and sycophants. Most of them attack her based on her profession and her “lack of morals,” and that’s it. That’s the tired well they keep coming back to. And since she doesn’t really get fazed by people’s slut-shaming, it’s like she’s bulletproof. She just swats their insults off like ugly background noise. And ultimately, isn’t that the nightmare of the conservative male? A strong woman (many of them want to sleep with) who has full control of her sexuality and is unfazed by their slut-shaming?

If Internet statistics are to be believed, the biggest consumers of online pornography in the United States are those living in the Bible Belt. So the same men slut-shaming women who are fighting for their rights, be it the right to use contraception or the right to use their body any way they please, are the same men who probably have had Stormy Daniels cross their screens once or twice when their wives are not at home. It’s a really perverse twisting of self-hate and guilt, and I know self-hate and guilt. I’m a depressed Catholic.

Anyway, it is amazing how so many of Trump’s supporters are willing to ignore his sins while casting stones at Ms. Clifford. I feel like someone should remind them that they’re not married to Donald Trump. They don’t have to live in denial about their partner’s sins. I read one Twitter supporter proclaim that all of Stormy Daniels’ fans are disgusting. This ignores the fact that prior to all of this, Trump was actually a fan of Stormy Daniels, probably one of her biggest fans, enough to send her $130,000. Most men have admired women in pornography before. Many have been obsessed with porn stars. But not many could say they spent $130,000 on one.

In any case, should the whole Stephanie Clifford saga simply just be about her making a name for herself or selling a book or whatever, she’s still coming out of this whole thing not only ethically from a higher ground, but she’s also using a much smarter strategy and employing a savvier lawyer/promoter. She’s never professed to be a good Christian and was never forgiven by evangelical leaders, unlike Donald Trump who has been nothing but a hypocrite throughout this whole thing. If she’s doing this for monetary gain to the detriment of Trump’s marriage, have you ever known Trump to respect other people’s marriages and spouses? Nope. He insulted Ted Cruz’s wife and also McCabe’s. Trump didn’t even respect his own marriages. And really, we can’t really fault her for doing this for monetary gain. Trump has hurt so many people for monetary gain or even just through his public actions (Central Park Five, anyone?). When was the last time Ms. Clifford’s work hurt anyone?

And yeah, Ms. Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, could teach Trump’s legal team a thing or two about looking sane on television while shamelessly plugging his own agenda. I also doubt if Mr. Avenatti would be paying for his clients sexual dalliances through a home equity loan. Seriously, where did Trump’s lawyers get their JDs?

Well, before this gets too long, here’s to Ms. Clifford or Stormy Daniels. May you get whatever you want out of all of this! I really hope the 60 Minutes special does not disappoint. It’s very telling when the only two people Trump does not attack on Twitter are Putin and Ms. Clifford. Please, live up to the hype. And keep on making Trump supporters hate themselves for wanting to be with you while slowly destroying their orange father figure.

*Update: As I post this, Karen McDougal, a former Playboy playmate who had an affair with Trump, is now on television talking to Anderson Cooper about their affair. Also, Trump just tapped one of the chief architects and cheerleaders of the Iraq War, John Bolton, as National Security Adviser. Congratulations, people who voted for Trump because Hilary Clinton was a hawk. As I look back on the entry, it just seems so old now. But then again, I’m sure we’ll be back to talking about Ms. Clifford come Sunday.

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Lending Credibility

Fake news

Back in February 2014, Bill Nye “the Science Guy” debated Ken Hamm, the creationist who built and operates the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Prior to the debate, people didn’t think it was wise for Bill Nye to be debating Ken Hamm. Though Nye wanted to have a debate from a more inquisitive perspective, to learn more about creationism and to see if it is an actual viable model for explaining the origin of things, people saw it as a way of elevating Ken Hamm, of inviting superstition to the scientific table, long after most of the world’s academic and critical thinkers have discarded religious dogma to explain natural phenomenon. I thought it was a useless exercise. Nye was lending his credibility to Ken Hamm and making him an “expert” equal to himself. I’m not opposed to debate, but I don’t see the value of debating people who sees a challenge to their ideas as fuel to their faith, scientific evidence as devilish trickery. The religious don’t even have conversations to be convinced. They are there to convince you, to add you to their flock. Scientists debate to see if there are holes to their ideas; see if their initial hypotheses holds up. So in the end, the debate didn’t do anything but raise Ken Hamm’s profile. It made him known to people outside of religious circles.

This is similar to my problem with Bill Maher. He claims that the best disinfectant is sunlight; and that we should confront irrational ideas and characters, and show them what fools they are. His show will have accomplished people like Senator Elizabeth Warren, Michael Eric Dyson, and Cornel West, then he will have people like SE Cupp, whose initial schtick “I’m an atheist but I envy the faith of the religious” is such a boldfaced sham that it’s a wonder why Maher didn’t run her out of the panel. Cupp was just a blip on the media radar at the time, but Maher elevated her, lent her his credibility as well as the credibility of his guests, and this resulted her getting employed by CNN and other media outlets. Maher claimed to do the same thing with Milo Yiannopoulos earlier in the year, to invite him to his show for a dialogue to see what makes him tick, then later took credit for Yiannopoulos getting exposed for his past comments regarding homosexuality and pedophilia. I saw the show and was not impressed with either of them. He didn’t really challenge Yiannopoulos too much on his flimsy arguments. I predict if Yiannopoulos wasn’t drummed out of the public eye by the Internet a week later, Maher would’ve had him as a regular guest, feeding off of his notoriety.

And now we see Kayleigh McEnany working for TrumpTV. A lawyer who graduated from Harvard, she worked at CNN as a Trump supporter, arguing for Trump’s and the administrations worst comments and actions. I wouldn’t mind her if her arguments were substantive, but the points she defended often goes against the viewers own senses (like Trump’s flip flops) and she sounded so disingenuous that it makes me wonder what it really takes to graduate with a law degree. She added nothing of value to debates, and it was infuriating to see CNN has people like her misinform their audience. A previously unknown person, CNN has elevated her and lent her their credibility simply by having her on their airwaves. The Most Trusted Name in News has misinformers on their payroll. And now McEnany is doing propaganda on TrumpTV. TrumpTV can now boast that it employs not just Trump relatives, but also former CNN contributors, giving merit and credibility to its “news.”

James Randi did it best. He had scammers on his show and showed them the flaws of their tricks. He exposed them in such a way that it wasn’t disrespectful. With logic and science, he showed how a person was deceiving the audience. Afterwards, he moved on to the next scammer. He didn’t have them as a regular guest nor consulted them regarding other matters. He didn’t lend them his credibility. Now, I’m not saying people like Bill Maher or networks like CNN should be debunkers. But they should call out lies and disinformation for what they are, and don’t reward liars by employing them or inviting them to sit on discussion panels to lie again.

 

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You’re losing me, online news.

Tommy_Douglas

Here’s to Tommy Douglas, a great Canadian hero. Because of him, Canadians’ taxes actually go to healthcare instead of just meaningless wars.

I no longer get my news anywhere but online, but seriously, these news sites that aggregate news stories need to get away from the click-bait and the ideology-driven model, otherwise they won’t last as long. I have a very rough relationship with The Huffington Post. The Daily Beast and Salon have already lost me. Now and then, Breitbart.com would have a story worth reading, but most of the site is ideologically driven garbage. There were fears in the west that Aljazeera would mostly be pro-Islam, pro-Palestine propaganda, but ironically, they’ve been pretty unbiased with the materials they publish online, definitely better than CNN.com.

Let’s look at Salon.com. Now I consider myself a feminist, but they’re “new feminist” agenda is getting ridiculous. An inordinate amount of stories are bent to become feminist related articles even on issues that aren’t or shouldn’t be seen from a feminist standpoint. Just recently, the singer Kesha accused her long-time producer of sexual harassment. She signed an exclusive contract with him and Sony and is thus obligated to work with him and produce six more albums. Her producer claims the allegations are just a ploy for her to get out of her contract. Now, I would give her the benefit of the doubt if she didn’t deny any rape allegations herself back in 2011. A simple Google search would provide that information, but instead, Salon.com ran article after article of Sony “forcing” the singer to work with her producer.

Kesha filed for an injunction against her producer and Sony, but the judge in the case, not seeing any evidence of sexual abuse, rejected her claim. Unfortunately, the judge inartfully worded the judgment, saying that it was “my instinct to do the commercially reasonable thing.” Instead of saying that, she should’ve said that contracts cannot be annulled based solely on allegations. There was no evidence of sexual misconduct, and the burden of proof for sexual harassment is already lower than most crimes. If the judge allowed the injunction, it would have set the precedent for women to just make allegations in order to get out of what were normally binding agreements.

This was not a feminist issue. It wasn’t people ignoring the pleas of victims of sexual crimes. It was the law acting as it should, basing decisions on evidence and not on ideology. For the media like Salon.com to treat this as an example of miscarriage of justice not only betrays their role as journalists, but it also does a disservice to real feminism. Not to mention, it also tars the name and damages the livelihood of those who are accused of sexual allegations without any solid evidence. This was not the first time Salon.com and other online news outlets did this either. The same thing happened with Mattress Girl.

We really should listen and be more sympathetic to victims of abuse, but our sympathies should not cloud evidence or the lack thereof. Look at the Steven Avery case. He’s not the most sympathetic character if you look at his police record and his past behavior prior to getting incarcerated for rape the first time. But it’s exactly the sympathy for the rape victim and the hatred for Steven Avery that cost him eighteen years of his life the first time around. Forget the evidence. Let’s incarcerate the town villain! Then there’s OJ Simpson, some would argue that the social and political climate at the time convinced some members of the population to be on his side, regardless of the evidence of his guilt. (Of course, truly believing that the accused committed a crime versus believing that the case against the accused was proven beyond any reasonable doubt are two different things.)

But then again, this was Salon.com, the same Web site that argued that Magneto, a Jewish comic book super villain, should be black in order to reflect current racial tensions. Because you know, slow news day, so everyone decides to play lawyer and indict a man for sexual crimes on the press.

 

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White, Male Christian? Probably not a Terrorist.

It’s impossible. Caucasian, male Christians cannot be terrorists. The media has now effectively made the word “terrorist” apply only to majority brown/black people and Muslims.

The last person I could recall who was Caucasian and was labelled a terrorist by the media after committing a heinous attack was Anders Behring Breivik. He killed 69 people, mostly children, on 2011 to save them from the invasion of Islam.  He never claimed to be Christian, but his sentiments against Muslims and immigrants ring far too familiar with what’s been happening in the US and in Europe at the moment. And yet, when it comes to talks of terrorism, the focus is mostly on immigrants and Muslim men. No one ever recalls someone like Breivik and suggests more surveillance on Caucasian extremists and hate groups. Everyone just focuses on minority populations… you know, the ones that already have enough grief in their lives.

Over the weekend, Planned Parenthood was attacked by an armed gunman. He barricaded the facility and ended up killing three people. He was Caucasian, Christian, and was motivated by the recent fake videos released by anti-abortionist groups depicting fetuses being harvested for “baby parts.” He was even quoted saying “no more baby parts” after the arrest.

After the Paris attacks, calls for more surveillance on Muslim populations have been rampant. More security at the border, do not take in any Syrian refugees (you know, the ones fleeing from terrorism), allow only Christians in the country. Politicians rode the wave of anti-minority sentiment which was fueled by the media, from “neutral” media like CNN to outright fascist outlets like Fox News. And yet, after the attack over the weekend, crickets. Not a peep from any major right wing political candidates regarding the attacks. Nothing from the same characters who were quick to vilify Muslims and immigrants after the Paris attacks. The only Republican to comment on it recently was failed CEO Carly Fiorina who still doesn’t call the gunman a terrorist and even reinforces his motivations for his actions. “The vast majority of Americans agree what Planned Parenthood is doing is wrong.” So what do we do, Carly? Shoot it up?

Let’s compare two groups, shall we? The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters and the anti-abortionists. The right wing media has been vilifying BLM as a hate group, that they are violent and have been responsible for the hate against police officers, neglecting the fact that the very reason BLM exists is that police officers have been targeting minority populations disproportionately more than other populations, with some encounters leading to death. Now, when BLM protesters unwisely got caught chanting “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon” during a friendly back and forth with police officers, the media and politicians were quick to spin it as a call for violence. And when a police officer was found dead a few days later, they were quick to blame the movement for the violence. Unfortunately for the right wing narrative, the police officer was later found to have committed suicide. In any case, the damage has already been done. BLM is now a hate group according to some politicians.

But when people put out anti-abortionist material that call for violence, no one in mainstream media really calls it for what it is. A highly-edited hoax video showing baby fetuses being harvested was treated as if it was actual fact. Even members of the US Congress referenced it during a hearing against Planned Parenthood. No one thinks that in a country that is rife with guns that Christian zealots would see that video and react violently. And when a shooter goes to Planned Parenthood killing three people, effectively terrorizing women to go to such centers and preventing doctors from helping women, no one calls the shooter a terrorist. No one connects the shooter with fundamentalist Christian values. No one asks Christian communities to apologize for the action of the shooter.

And when Caucasian shooters terrorize people, instead of blaming it on whatever motivates them, be it fundamentality religion or some twisted logic, their actions are often blamed on mental issues. “He was suffering from schizophrenia.” It was never the people he listened to or the book he read.

The Army of God, Aryan Nations the Ku Klux Klan… these are just some Caucasian groups that cling to the bible and fundamentalist and nativist values.  Dylan Storm Roof, a male Caucasian, killed a group of black church goers. Is he labelled a terrorist? Not really. There’s a mass shooting in the US almost every week. Are they classified as terrorist attacks, even by a small percentage? Not if the shooter was Caucasian.

Caucasians just don’t fit the traditional terrorist narrative.

I guess one factor that affects the narrative is the victims of such attacks as well. In order to be labeled a “terrorist,” not only does it help if the perpetrator was a minority, it also helps if the victims are Christians or Caucasians. If the victims are members of a minority or people that are deemed to be deserving of such violence, like people who “want” to abort their babies, then the perpetrator won’t be labelled a terrorist.

Dr. George Tiller was murdered by Scott Philip Roeder. Dr. Tiller was providing late-term abortions. He was murdered after being called “Tiller the Baby Killer” by prominent right wing media personality Bill O’Reilly. Dr. Tiller had been a victim of anti-abortion violence several times before. His clinic had been firebombed and there had been another attempt at his life. And because the killer was Caucasian, and despite the fact that him and his group effectively terrorized people, he was not labelled as a terrorist. O’Reilly after the murder never suffered a backlash for his comments. Certainly not the same backlash BLM continues to suffer after their “pigs in a blanket” chant.  And the women who are now afraid to seek help… they’re just the same as other minority populations, just as disposable. Violence against them doesn’t get as much media play.

Compare the victims of recent attacks in Paris versus the recent attacks by Boko Haram. No one pays much attention to Boko Haram despite trending a year ago and causing just as much violence as ISIS (albeit towards black, Muslim populations). And yet with Paris, everyone changes their Facebook photos to the French national colors. Boko Haram is a terrorist organization, but their actions against black populations are as mundane as the seasons. ISIS and their actions against the French, it’s headline news.

So there you have it. Caucasian, male and Christian? You’re good to go. You’re bound to be diagnosed with schizophrenia when you shoot a number of people, but you won’t be labelled a terrorist. Call it a holy war, just make sure you’re holding the right book.

Heck, when George Bush called for a jihad in Iraq, no one called him a terrorist. And yes, it was a jihad. God told him to “end tyranny in Iraq.” Now, how often do you hear those brown, Muslim ISIS fighters talking about wanting to “end tyranny” in the west?

crystalball

I just noticed the anti-menstruation leader who the #HappyToBleed campaign is fighting against is a member of Cobra.

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