Thursday, May 17, 2018

Are Trump Supporters Racist?

Dear Trumpsters:

I've been trying to "get" you for almost three years now. I've tried to keep an open mind about your motivations. I even for a time accepted the notion that your support for Donald Trump might be rooted in that "economic anxiety" you and Fox News keep talking about and not because you're all a bunch of angry white racists. But no matter how hard I try to give you the benefit of the doubt, it keeps coming back to racism. There's simply no other explanation...

You claim to be "the forgotten people" yet you support a president whose policies benefit only himself, his family, his rich pals and corporations.

You call yourselves fiscally conservative Republicans, but you support a president who's added $1-trillion in new debt.

You claim you voted out of "economic anxiety," yet you support a president whose tax bill doesn't benefit you; your wages remain stagnant; the income gap is widening; you, not Mexico, are paying for his wall (if it ever gets built); he screwed you out of affordable healthcare; whose trade policies threaten our economic stability.

You call yourselves "law and order" Republicans yet you support a president who summarily dismisses, disrespects, demeans and undermines the FBI, the Justice Department, the independent judiciary and the rule of law.

You call yourselves "law and order" Republicans yet you support a president who believes he's above the law.  

You call yourselves "law and order" Republicans yet you support a president who has us on the verge of a Constitutional crisis.

You call yourselves patriotic Republicans, but you support a president who likely colluded with an enemy state, conspired to obstruct justice and cover it up, who's desperately undermining the special investigation in every possible way and who continually threatens our national security.

You call yourselves patriots (and many of you are veterans and/or have children who serve in the military), yet you support a president who dodged the draft, attacks Gold Star families and war heroes, says he "knows more than the generals" and exploits the military for constant photo-ops while calling it "a disaster."

You call yourselves strong defenders of democracy, yet you support a president who repeatedly kisses the ass of brutal dictators whose ultimate goal is to destroy America and its democracy...while disrespecting and alienating our allies in Germany, England, France, Australia, Japan, Canada, Mexico and elsewhere. 

You claim to be evangelicals, yet you support a president who is a pathological liar; admitted sexual abuser; a serial philanderer; who mocks the sick, disabled, poor; who's obsessed with money and material things; who cares about no one but himself. 

You claim to be people of 'faith'...but you support a president whose behavior strikingly contrasts the teachings of Jesus.

You claim you're not racist, but you support a president who consistently disparages & disrespects   black and brown people and immigrants and whose policies discriminate against them...while simultaneously normalizing and enabling white supremacists, neo-Nazi's and bigots. 

I'm sorry...

You claim you're not racist but...you are.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Time to Rethink Mother's Day

On November 1, 2006 my daughter Sophie and I became statistics. Not quite three, she joined the motherless children's club. And I became part of the 8% of U.S. households where a single father is raising a child.

That was the day my wife, actor and filmmaker Adrienne Shelly (WAITRESS), was brutally murdered while working in her West Village office. 

For the past eleven years I've struggled to get through Mother's Day. It's not a celebration in my home. Just a rewind into horror. An intense, sudden punch to the gut like a 24-hour stomach virus.

It's an especially difficult day for my little girl, who went to bed one cold Autumn night as happy as an innocent toddler can be and woke the next morning to a dark, unrecognizable world.

Sophie is 14 now. Despite my conscientious and at times feeble attempt to wear both parental hats, she's been forced to navigate through life without the guidance, nurturing and love that only a mother can provide. So fucking unfair. And heartbreaking.
 
I remember walking down the street a few days after Adrienne died and feeling raging anger and resentment at all the people who were going about their business like any other normal day while my world had just been mashed into a meat-grinder. Why do they have to look so happy? Don't they know what just happened to Adrienne? To me? To Sophie? To our families? 

That's what Mother's Day feels like now.

Because not everyone has a mother. And not everyone has a mother they like. Or even love.

Many have mothers who've died. Or are dying. Or who's body is thriving but whose mind has deteriorated.

Others may have mothers who are neglectful. Or worse, physically and/or verbally abusive.

Mother's Day is a cruel reminder that when it comes to moms, we are not all equal.

Sophie and I had a long chat last night before bedtime. I held her tight and acknowledged that it must've been a hard day for her. It was. Of course, she misses not having Adrienne in her life. She mourns the loss of a mother she never got to know. She can only close her eyes and imagine. Imagine what it must be like to have a mother. Her mother.

Mother's Day makes her feel different. Because it seems like everyone has a mother and she doesn't.

"I'm jealous," she said.

At one point during the day she stopped looking at her social media apps because they were dominated by 'mom and me' shots. It was too upsetting.

Maybe next year we can all be a bit more sensitive to all the folks for whom Mother's Day is a hardship. A day that drowns them in painful realities instead of Rockwellian thoughts of mom and apple pie.

We should especially consider the children. Acknowledge their loss. Life is hard enough just being a kid. It's a more complicated landscape to navigate when they've been robbed of the beautiful, kind, loving mommy they tragically only know through photos and videos.

Send them a message. Let them know we are thinking of them too. That they are not alone...

Friday, May 04, 2018

It's Time to End the Daily White House Press Briefings

It's been roughly 130 years since the establishment of White House "beat" reporters. The practice of the administration giving these correspondents daily briefings dates back to 1910.  In 1995 Bill Clinton's press secretary Mike McCurry started televising the daily briefings. Today, 23 years later, these gatherings have unfortunately become an embarrassing travesty; a total waste of time and they should end.

Under President Donald Trump, America has witnessed an all-out attack on the media, which he's referred to as "the enemy of the people." This relentless, merciless battle with the press is, at its core, an effort to distract from his political and legal troubles relating to a number of sensational scandals including collusion with Russia over the election; obstruction of justice; money-laundering; accusations of sexual assault; affairs with porn stars and Playmates; staff chaos; and campaign-finance violations.

Under Trump's media narrative, if the coverage is positive he embraces and retweets it. If it's negative it's attacked as "fake." He doesn't care about the optics of praising the Washington Post and NY Times one day as reporting the 'truth' while shredding them the next day as "failing" and "fake news." He knows his loyal 30% base will lap it up like stray cats with a bowl of milk. 

Trump's attack on the media is a direct attack on free speech and freedom of the press. But more importantly, it links to his direct attacks on the Department of Justice and the FBI, and thus the rule of law. The linkage continues with "fake news" as the basis for the "witch hunts" he claims are perpetrated by these law enforcement agencies. And it's led to the firings of perceived opponents including Sally Yates, Preet Bharara, Andrew McCabe and James Comey...while leaving others like Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Assistant AG Rod Rosenstein on thin ice over 'disloyalty.' The ultimate link is to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who's wearing the biggest bullseye of all as the main protagonist in Trump's existential crisis. A+B+C+D=E.

Nowhere is Trump's dysfunctional relationship to the truth more on display than at Sarah Huckabee Sanders' daily press briefings. These sessions have become a cesspool of misrepresentation, deceit and shameless lying.

The chaotic lying hit a tipping point Thursday over the $130K hush-money payoff made by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to porn star Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 election. Sanders had for weeks maintained and repeated Trump's denial of an affair with Daniels and knowledge of the payoff. A denial for which he was unequivocal two weeks ago aboard AirForce One when asked if he knew about the payment:

"No. “You'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney.”  

Contradicting that denial, Trump's new attorney Rudy Giuliani dropped a bombshell Wednesday night when he told Sean Hannity that the president obviously knew about the payoff because he in fact paid Cohen back the $130K.

Giuliani then opened mouth and changed feet the following morning on Fox & Friends:

"...imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton...Cohen made it go away. He did his job."

"Cohen made it go away?" No, this is not an episode of The Sopranos we're watching. This is the Unites States presidency in action. That's way scarier than a gaggle of brooding mobsters. And it certainly did help Trump that his new attorney essentially called him and his former lawyer liars (not for nothin', but if Trump and his lawyers can't make it through Fox & Friends and Sean Hannity without committing political and legal suicide...imagine what Mueller & Co's gonna do to them...).

On Thursday, and again today, Trump tripled-down on the original denial, even claiming that, while "Rudy is a great guy who started a day ago" (it's actually been two weeks), "he needs to get his facts straight." 

When asked at Thursday's briefing when she first learned that Trump paid back Cohen, Sanders stated it was during Giuliani's interview with Hannity. She looked foolish. And it certainly didn't instill confidence in a press corp already convinced that everything told them daily is a misrepresentation or a lie.


At the briefings themselves, there's been an unprecedented bankruptcy of facts and truth since Trump took office...starting with former press secretary Sean Spicer's now-infamous anger-management-worthy insistence (and the birthing of Melissa McCarthy's brilliant season-long SNL spoof) that Trump's inaugural crowd was the largest ever. And now Sanders has lost whatever microscopic morsel of credibility she had left. Honesty with the press, and by extension the American public, is sacrosanct in her ability to perform her duties.

Going forward, Sanders is either going to willfully and unapologetically (almost gleefully) regurgitate her boss's lies every day, or continue to look foolish when caught unknowingly in a web of his blatant deception. Either way she's screwed, and so are Americans. America deserves so much more than the 2003-style propaganda of Saddam Hussein and Baghdad Bob.
  
If Sanders can no longer do her job, which appears to be the case, these briefings should be shut down. Or, reporters need to get tougher. They need to call out the lies more directly and aggressively. They need to demand the truth from this White House. And if they can't get the truth, they should get up, walk out and not return until the next administration moves in.