Category Archives: The Media

Thoughts on Last Night’s Debate

© Copyright Steve Fareham licensed via Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0.

Like others, I approached the Biden-Trump Presidential ‘debate’ with multiple forms of dread. One source of gloom was the thought of having to listen to Trump for any extended period of time. The other was the fear that something bad could happen, changing what currently appears to be the favorable course of the ongoing election. Add in generalized reactions to 2020, and it was an effort to turn it on.

But I did. And it turns out that the debate was less awful in the ways I may have expected, and much more awful in a way I hadn’t been thinking about, an awfulness exacerbated by the bulk of the commentary after the fact.

Pundits of course want to address one of my expected sources of dread by analyzing whether this hour and a half moved the needle. And on the one hand the CNN instapoll suggests Trump “lost” bigly; on the other hand some people justly worry that Biden’s infelicity about his oil policy might come back to bite him in Texas — although no one has noted that all the oil giants other than Exxon, a stubborn outlier, have been busy diversifying like crazy into renewable energy because they can see the writing on the wall.

But the overwhelming trend among the commentators I happened to read was to celebrate how this debate was a sign of Trump’s (relative) restraint and thus made it much more the sort of debate needed by a healthy polity.

Others have already pushed back on this nonsense, but let me add my mite to the pile: this ‘debate’ was a disaster for the public sphere.

One of the candidates lied about reality, lied about his record, lied about his opponent’s record, and made allegations about his opponent’s supposed corruption that have support only in the deepest fever swamps where scraps of Russian disinfo get venerated as sacraments. We find ourselves in a world in which this sort of lying and slander is not met with instant and near-universal condemnation as an insult to our intelligence, and as an insult to the democratic underpinnings of our Republic. It is a world so deeply debased that we seem to have abandoned the very tools we would need — not least, ridicule — in order to claw our way back to the normalcy some commentators claim was achieved or approximated last night. I didn’t see that; I just saw rot.

If there is a Biden landslide, and also a decent Senatorial majority, and the election results are not then subjected to endless legal maneuvers of dubious moral legitimacy even if in some cases they might have some shreds of formal legality, then perhaps this will not matter. But note that we have three ifs and a perhaps before we get there.

Is that a light at the end of a tunnel or just another tunnel? Or is the light at the end of a tunnel…a train?

Update: Just saw this fine piece by Paul Waldman in the WashPo. Here’s a taste:

If it were any other candidate, his party would be trying desperately to figure out whether it could replace him on the ticket, because someone so unhinged could only lead it to disaster. But because it’s Trump, everyone says, “Gee, he did pretty well!”

The phrase so often repeated in the early days of this administration — “This is not normal” — has faded away, an absurd understatement of our debased reality. “Normal” has no meaning in this era; it’s like saying “This isn’t the road to Flagstaff” when you’ve gotten so far off track that you just drove into the Arctic Ocean.

Posted in 2020 Election, Politics, The Media, Trump | Leave a comment

Real or Onion?

Saw this item about Roger Stone,

During his September 10 appearance on The Alex Jones Show, Stone declared that the only legitimate outcome to the 2020 election would be a Trump victory. He made this assertion on the basis of his entirely unfounded claim that early voting has been marred by widespread voter fraud.

Stone argued that “the ballots in Nevada on election night should be seized by federal marshalls and taken from the state” because “they are completely corrupted” and falsely said that “we can prove voter fraud in the absentees right now.” He specifically called for Trump to have absentee ballots seized in Clark County, Nevada, an area that leans Democratic. Stone went on to claim that “the votes from Nevada should not be counted; they are already flooded with illegals” and baselessly suggested that former Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) should be arrested and that Trump should consider nationalizing Nevada’s state police force.

Beyond Nevada, Stone recommended that Trump consider several actions to retain his power. Stone recommended that Trump appoint former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) as a special counsel “with the specific task of forming an Election Day operation using the FBI, federal marshals, and Republican state officials across the country to be prepared to file legal objections and if necessary to physically stand in the way of criminal activity.”

Stone also urged Trump to consider declaring “martial law” or invoking the Insurrection Act and then using his powers to arrest Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, “the Clintons” and “anybody else who can be proven to be involved in illegal activity.”

Real or Onion?

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Posted in Onion/Not-Onion | 2 Comments

Rabid Libertarians?

“Libertarian Presidential Candidate to Miss Rally After Being Bitten by Bat”

Onion or Not Onion?

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Miami-Herald Endorsements in Local Judicial Races

The Herald is out with its endorsements in the local judicial races, and they sound almost exactly like mine, sometimes with the same reasoning.

The only interesting thing to me is that they pick Roderick Vereen over Carmen Cabarga in Group 57:

It’s that breadth of state and federal experience that makes him [Vereen] the more-solid candidate in this race. He ran for Congress in 2010 and for Miami-Dade State Attorney in 2012.

In his candidate interview, he spoke with a deeper knowledge of how judges can be unfair to defendants — in ways he would not. He says that he appreciates judges who ask lawyers from both the State Attorney and Public Defender offices to “get together before court and decide what will move forward, what will not, what’s continued. That way, Vereen says, they don’t have to give the judge a long explanation of their positions. It helps move things along, Vereen said. Otherwise, he said, “Families are waiting all day.”

We find him the more-seasoned candidate in this race.

Posted in 2020 Election, Miami, The Media | Leave a comment

Unvarnished Trump

Although the story is oddly absent from my domestic printed media, the Guardian pulls no punches in describing yesterday’s public Presidential meltdown:

A toddler threw a self-pitying tantrum on live television on Monday night. Unfortunately he was 73 years old, wearing a long red tie and running the world’s most powerful country.

Donald Trump, starved of campaign rallies, Mar-a-Lago weekends and golf, and goaded by a bombshell newspaper report, couldn’t take it any more. Years of accreted grievance and resentment towards the media came gushing out in a torrent. He ranted, he raved, he melted down and he blew up the internet with one of the most jaw-dropping performances of his presidency.

This was, as he likes to put it, “a 10”.

Trump’s Easter had evidently been ruined by a damning 5,500-word New York Times investigation showing that Trump squandered precious time in January and February as numerous government figures were sounding the alarm about the coronavirus.

With more than 23,000 American lives lost in such circumstances, some presidents might now be considering resignation. Not Trump. He arrived in the west wing briefing room determined to tell the world, or at least his base, that he was not to blame. Instead it was a new and bloody phase of his war against the “enemy of the people”: the media. Families grieving loved ones lost to the virus were in for cold comfort here.

Even conservative bloggers understand how bad it was. Here’s Steve Berman, of The Resurgant,

Monday’s coronavirus press conference was a total disaster. It was a train wreck, launch failure, explosion of stupid. “Everything we did was right,” Trump said, straight faced, one day after Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted on CNN that no, not everything we did was right.

And this schoolyard exchange with CBS News’ Paula Reid:

But worst, is this gaffe. When asked what authority the president has to open the nation, when state governors are already forming coalitions, Trump responded, “I have the ultimate authority.”

This straightforward answer exposes many of Trump’s worst instincts, and his total misunderstanding of his role as POTUS. All of Trump’s talk about working with governors belies his true belief that he alone has the authority.

Of course, if all you read was the NY Times, you’d never know the nation just witnessed a train wreck. All they have is a sober news analysis which leads as follows:

The president’s insistence that only he can decide if the country should reopen for business was disputed by constitutional scholars and contrasted with his earlier message that it was not for the federal government to take the lead in fighting the virus.

It is an important point that needed making, but it hardly seems the whole story.

Posted in COVID-19, The Media, The Scandals | 1 Comment

Spot the Real One

So they wrote this nice bit about me in the “News at the U”, Turning a hobby into a career (it’s a subhead half way down).

Strange though, that the very same day the Onion publishes Neurosurgeon Feels Lucky He Was Able To Turn Hobby Into Career.

Posted in Onion/Not-Onion, Personal | 1 Comment