Humor, Politics, pop culture

JARED KUSHNER’S CLOSED-SESSION MEETING WITH SENATE INTELLIGENCE

Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the president, has stated, after his closed-session meeting with Senate intelligence staffers, “I did not collude with Russia.”


Photo source: Bravo via Jezebel


Do you remember when you were a little kid, and you did something wrong (broke a fancy glass; accidentally deleted a work file off your parents’ computer; failed a math test) and you had the rest of the afternoon to figure out a good-enough lie to tell to your parents when they got home?

And when they got home, you totally blew the secret because you told the lie in its shiny, well-packaged entirety before your parents even had a chance to discover what you had accidentally done. “And that’s why I failed that test,” you said, vibrating with your lie.

Your parents gave you a long, measured look before calling you on your shit. And even as you were telling it, you knew that they wouldn’t buy it. The truth is weird and messy and doesn’t make sense. Lies, especially lies that you’ve had enough time to concoct, are too clean.

Continue reading

Advertisements
Standard
Politics, pop culture

KELLYANNE CONWAY IS THE VICKI GUNVALSON OF POLITICS AND MEDIA

As a journalist, you spend a lot of your time writing about the news. You spend a lot of time thinking about it, dissecting it, following it. And some people have iron heads and they can handle that constant rotation of news. Others—like me—are too pretty to have iron heads (so unflattering) and are not capable of being news robots.

A lot of what I’ve been writing about—for class, for this blog, for the Odyssey—have been centered around politics. It’s impossible to avoid, and as it became incorporated to my brand, it became more and more important for me to cover. That had negative results—after the election, I was so desperately brain-dead that I went completely off the grid and couldn’t even think about anything. Because as much as we cover it, we are consumed with it and we let it ingrain inside of us.

So maybe in a few weeks/days/hours I’ll decide to boycott politics for a while and just write about my NEW CAMEL COAT (ugh so chic) but there’s still things to be said and things to cover, and, y’all, I’m soldiering on.

Someone on my Twitter timeline posted a link to a GQ article. It was primarily in response to the Chuck Todd-Kellyanne Conway interview where Chuck Todd was desperately trying to understand why the new Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, lied about the easily provable facts of Trump’s inauguration.

“You sent the Press Secretary out there to utter falsehoods on the smallest, pettiest thing,” said an exasperated Chuck Todd.

Kellyanne, twirling those ribbons that rhythmic gymnasts in Russia use, flailed around the questions, whipped the curls of fabric in Todd’s face until they coiled around his neck.

“Our press secretary, Sean Spicer, gave alternative facts,” she said as Todd’s face turned purple from disbelief and lack of oxygen. And when he had slumped out of frame, Conway unfurled the ribbons from around his neck, wrapped them up tightly and put them back into her holsters.

Wiping the sweat of her hands off on her blue dress, the eyeshadow smudging darkly around her eyes, Kellyanne caught a glimpse of herself in the window’s reflection as she left the green screen behind. Her face was hollow, mouth tightly set. She pulled out the tiny list crumpled in her pocket and sliced a line through Chuck Todd’s name with the precision of a French Revolution executioner. Squaring her shoulders and applying more eyeshadow to her lids—obscuring them and hiding the windows to her soul—she slinked off to her next target. And so on. And so on. Forever.

Okay, so that didn’t happen—but didn’t it sound like it could’ve?

In the article, NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen proposed on the Recode Media podcast with Peter Kafka that news outlets should no longer have Kellyanne on.

And the implications of that—what they say about where we are as journalists—are staggering.

To disavow and cut off contact with the White House—willingly—seems unbelievable. And if this were a normal world—and not season three of Black Mirror—it would be unbelievable. But Rosen laid out probably the saddest and more logical argument for it.

“It’s not just lying or spin or somebody who is skilled in the political arts of putting the best case on things or not answering a question, which is a pretty basic method of doing politis. It’s that when you are done listening to Kellyanne Conway, you probably understand less. That’s the problem.”

If I’ve learned anything from Scandal (I’ve learned a bunch, thank you Shonda Rimes), it’s that the press secretary is often put in a difficult position. They have to balance the president, the truth and the press. But Abby was able to do it. Sometimes it involves a version of the truth; sometimes it involves moving on to the next question. But the press secretary always does their job.

So what made Chuck Todd, and I and a lot of people, so incredulous was the fact that this was such minutiae. Spicer was lying about the size of the crowds at the inauguration. He said this was the most attended and most watched inauguration of all time. That’s, like, so not true. And there’s photographic evidence to prove it (side by side evidence of Obama’s first inauguration and Trump’s inauguration). It’s so easily provable that it’s ridiculous.

Spicer could’ve walked in, fielded questions and addressed the attendance. He could’ve said, “President Trump (ugh, gag) has more important things to worry about than the size of attendance at his inauguration. He has a country to run.” THAT WOULD’VE BEEN BETTER. Dickish, but better. But to lie proves that it bothers Trump so much that people aren’t falling down at his feet. It kills him that nobody showed up for his inauguration but the NEXT DAY we had the largest march in modern history.

Rosen’s comment was at the end of a conversation about the typical journalistic efforts for impartiality—impartiality relies on reaching out for comment to both sides. But when one side consists of Trump, Conway and Spicer—three people who will give you radically different answers (all wrong) to the same question, actually not even answering the question in the process—it becomes infinitely more muddled. Why are we doing this? We’re not getting any more information. We’re not getting things any clearer.

And journalists are doing backbends trying to cope with having two sides where one side is just a funhouse mirror.

So the answer is simple: if having Kellyanne on just makes the truth more muddled, then you have to cut it off. We, you, journalists, have an obligation to the truth—above all else. Anyone who gets in the way of that is expendable.

Sometimes it’s not worth it. On The Real Housewives of Orange County, Vicki Gunvalson said her boyfriend, Brooks Ayers, had cancer. Turns out he didn’t, and all the other ladies wanted to know how much Vicki knew. She obviously knew a lot, because they were in a relationship and she never went to any of his doctor’s appointments or chemo treatments, etc. And she lied for him, endlessly. She, to this day, has not really admitted that he doesn’t have cancer. She has not admitted that she knew anything.

And so I have a lot of experience with blonde ladies who have a loose relationship with the truth. And this is what I’ve learned: they won’t change (even when you are mean to them in Ireland) and so at a certain point, you have to refuse to engage. Because what they want more than anything else is attention, and even negative attention feeds that addiction. So you cut them off. You don’t let them spew their bullshit. You shut it down.

But the difference between Kellyanne Conway and Vicki Gunvalson is that Vicki Gunvalson doesn’t have the ear of the guy with access to nuclear codes. Vicki is dumb, but harmless, and infinitely entertaining. But Conway has so little regard for the truth and so little respect for the American people that she having access to Trump—who is proven to be volatile and rash—is terrifying.

So maybe we’ve come to the point where we can’t engage with Kellyanne. Where having her on screen puts more danger into the world than good. And it’s scary to admit that this is where we are as journalists, but we have promises to the American people—we must not harm. (I know that’s the Hippocratic oath but stick with me). And she’s definitely causing us harm.

Standard
Politics

BRINGING DOWN THE HAMMER, SENATE-STYLE: PAUL RYAN TRIES TO PUNISH DEMOCRATS FOR JUNE SIT-IN

Ryan and fellow Republicans are trying to introduce a package of rules that will stop lawmakers from live-streaming from the floor, proving that the government is A) well into the 21st century and B) petty AF.

House Speaker and resident DILF Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is introducing a rules package that would penalize lawmakers for recording photo and video from the floor. A finalized version of the package will be voted on on Jan. 4. Shockingly, it’s not in response to Senator selfies or unflattering photos of frenemy lawmakers.

Actually, the package (hold for giggles) is in response to Democratic lawmakers who organized a sit-in after the Republican majority refused to bring a gun-control bill to the floor in the wake of the Orlando massacre at Pulse nightclub. Yeah, that gun-control bill, the one that would broaden background checks and prevent those on the no-fly list from buying guns. In response, angered and hurt, the Democrats organized a sit-in, which spanned 25 hours.

The Republican-controlled House called a recess during the sit-in and cut access to C-SPAN, which is in general super-boring but in this case provided coverage of the sit-in. Access is typically cut when the House is not in session, which is true in the case of a sit-in, but due to the nature of the sit-in, it seems the camera should’ve been kept on. In response, Democrats pulled out their iPhones and began live-streaming the sit-in, using apps like Facebook Live and Periscope. Angered and embarrassed, apparently the House Republicans have been trying to figure out how to make sure nothing like this happens again.

Enter Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker who is often hailed as the savior of the GOP. Part of the package (again, such a funny word) will give Ryan the personal authority to punish and fine individual lawmakers for breaking the rules. Previously, it was up to the House to punish lawmakers, in Article 1 of the Constitution, which has been interpreted to mean that sanctions are passed after being approved by the entire House with a floor vote. The sanctions for using photo or video would be a $500 fine for the first time, and $2,500 for each subsequent violation, taken out of the lawmaker’s pay.

Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the move “a power grab” by the GOP. Pelosi was previously the House Speaker from 2007 to 2011 when the Democrats held the majority, the first woman to hold the position.

The move could be ruled as potentially unconstitutional. Reinterpreting Article 1 to circumvent a full-House vote would give Ryan the individual power to pass sanctions. So if the Republican majority passes this package, that would be mucho ironic, since Republicans are the ones who are always against interpretation of the Constitution and are very pro to-the-letter (re same-sex marriage, women’s rights, abortion, etc.).

Ryan said that the package will “help ensure that order and decorum are preserved in the House of Representatives so lawmakers can do the people’s work.”

But here’s where things get a little sticky. Yes, the House has the right to pass sanctions on an individual lawmaker—when they have broken the law. And yes, House rules prohibit the use of photo or video on the floor (funnily enough, my house has the same rules). However, lawmakers are beholden not to the House, but to their constituents. So if they protest the failure of passage (to even discuss) a gun-control bill, in the wake of the largest U.S. mass shooting, they are protesting on behalf of their constituents.

Those constituents (i.e. you, me, and everyone) have the legal right to know what our elected officials are doing with our vote. Transparency in the government is often a fraught issue, but the fact is that those Democratic lawmakers were attempting to hold their Republican counterparts accountable even after official coverage was revoked.

So Democrats are stuck in between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, they brought transparency to an issue that was being stifled, one that had incredible support outside the cosseted world of the government. On the other hand, they disregarded a prohibition. And equally, the Republicans are in a difficult spot: to discipline lawmakers who broke the rules, but dealing with the issue of transparency.

It seems to be a contradiction: transparency that breaks the rules. Do you follow the rules? Or do you follow what you believe to be right? I mean, we’re not talking about some serial killer who “believes” it’s right to make a necklace out of fingers. We’re talking about lawmakers who are trying to honor their constituents in the face of what they believed to be oppression.

And if Hamilton: An American Musical has taught us anything, it’s that “the Constitution’s a mess…it’s full of contradictions,” but “so is independence.” (I also quoted Hamilton in my “Early American Literature Until 1860” final essay; I did okay in that class).

I was personally bereaved and displeased that the gun-control bill was not passed. After the senseless massacre at Pulse, it seemed, to me, like a no-brainer. However, the Republican-held House blocked the bill from reaching the floor, where it would have been voted on. Obama was pissed, I was pissed, the nation was pissed. So in response, the Democrats reacted. It may not have been right, but it came from a place of righteous anger.

I am for greater transparency if I feel that my elected officials are not honoring the wishes of their constituents. That, too, seems like a no-brainer.

screen-shot-2016-12-30-at-12-27-00-am

Source: Twitter// I deleted and re-uploaded this screenshot because that Tweet got more likes. 

Standard