CNN’s Donna Brazile Latest Victim in 2016’s Misogynistic Media Wars

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“Today we learned that CNN severed ties with longtime contributor and interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile. What has this to do with Comey and the FBI’s scramble to define the cork he popped out of the dangerous innuendo bottle? Quite a bit actually, especially if you’re chafed by double standards tinged with corruption and a healthy dose of misogyny.

CNN spokeswoman Lauren Pratapas was quoted as saying, “We are completely uncomfortable with what we have learned about [Brazile’s] interactions with the Clinton campaign while she was a CNN contributor.” Those playing the media cynicism home game might wonder how it is that Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s former Campaign Manager and ongoing talking point parrot, retains his association with the network. He draws a salary from CNN while remaining an “informal, unpaid” advisor to the Trump campaign. No visible discomfort from the house that Ted Turner built.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Modern Do-Nothing Congress: Long On Terrorism Accusations, Short on Action

Do Nothing Congress

“I’ve been watching the brilliant CNN docuseries, Race for the White House. Episode 4, “Truman vs. Dewey,” is a fascinating piece that captures Truman’s unlikely, come-from-behind victory in 1948. One of the strategies that drove the Democrat’s late-breaking success was an active campaign against the Republican-led, 80th, “Do-Nothing Congress.”  At one train stop and stump speech after another, Truman reminded voters of the House and Senate’s general dereliction of duty – to great effect.

Here’s the irony. The “Do Nothing” crowd passed a total of 906 public bills. By comparison, the 113th Congress passed just 52 bills at the close of 2013. There are no typos here. Just sad evidence of the inaction we’ve learned to accept from our elected officials. What was odious in 1948 is still 94 percent better than what we have today.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

30 Days of Gratitude: 2013 Edition (November 26, 2013)

Yes, I have seen this meme work its way across Facebook over the course of November. I thought about participating, but my brain is usually too stream-of-consciousness for that level of daily content commitment, and I refuse to violate my personal rule of one status update per day (any more than that and I run the risk of the dreaded newsfeed “block” by bored connections). So with that in mind, here’s a month’s worth of people, events and phenomena for which I am grateful over the course of 2013, all in one shot.

1.Occupying the top spot with good reason, I am grateful for April’s reconciliation with my sibling and her family. Life is a lot less funny and loving without my baby sis.

2.Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, recently described by funny man Stephen Colbert as a “possessed Cabbage Patch doll,” I thank you for two things: reminding North America that the USA does not have the monopoly on mentally challenged local politicians, and for instilling waves of nostalgia for the comedic stylings of Chris Farley.

3.Early summer period of unemployment: I salute you. Were it not for the unexpected job loss, I would not be happily ensconced as a Marketing Manager with a wonderful company in downtown Chicago.

4.I am grateful that pompholyx eczema, while challenging and painful, has thus far limited itself to my hands. In many cases, the feet are also affected, ushering in a whole new wave of debilitating restrictions.

5.Early Fall welcomed Act III with the love of my life. We’re making it work this time, applying the lessons of the past with strategic guidelines for a balanced future. That might sound more business jargon than romantic sweetness, but I’ve finally learned that hard work and commitment are every bit as important as passion. And we’re lucky enough to have that too.

6.I’m grateful that the Illinois Woman’s Press Association chose me as their 2013-2015 leader. Together we’ve grown membership by 20 percent in six months, introduced dynamic new programming and collaborations with other communications organizations. The era of siloing and membership bleed is over. This makes me proud.

7.Thank you to the rollerblading ukulele player and singer who often greets me as I alight from the Red Line stop near my apartment. The sight of you gliding in circles with perfect tune and pitch never fails to put a smile on my face.

8.I cannot stress enough how much I love my de facto stepdaughter Amber and four year-old grandbaby Chloe. I leapt right over motherhood into a full and diverse family life as unexpected as it is treasured. Our growing bond is a source of continual joy.

9.Dr. T: You with your string of pearls, pale blonde hair and Stepford Wife looks. You may not have been the ideal of how my perfect therapist should appear, but when you echo my angry “f” bombs, I never feel more understood.

10.Salt Lake City: As an atheist from an all-business metropolis, I never expected to find your exceedingly friendly locals, natural cultivation and Mormon-culture appealing, but your $4 beer and shot specials, clean streets and sincerely helpful citizens won me over.

11.Breaking Bad: Thank you for five seasons of jaw-dropping storytelling and acting. I held my breath, I cried and I was angry. You shall never be duplicated. Thank you as well for leaving the party long before you got stale.

12.Mr. Roger Ebert: Your April death provoked a sense of public loss I had not experienced since the 2008 premature passing of NBC’s Tim Russert. My sincere gratitude for your thoughtful, diverse body of work and the opportunities to bond with a father who was and remains, mostly incomprehensible.

13.Thank you soft, black doughnut cushion (February 2013 – August 2013) for making hours of sitting bearable as my poor, busted tailbone slowly healed. Thank you also for doubling as a comfy Metra train sleeping pillow. I apologize for carelessly leaving you behind in the Salt Lake City airport. I like to think you are enjoying a second life comforting the buns of another injured soul.

14.Epsom salts: I just wrote about you last week, but it bears repeating. For your affordable, diverse ability to treat and soothe so many conditions, this Bud’s for you.

15.My growing adoration for the NFL, despite its imperfections and the perennial so-so-ness of the Bears, is the reason I do not entirely succumb to Seasonal Affective Disorder each Fall.

16.The Republicans behind the late-Fall government shutdown: grazie for providing a much-needed, if temporary distraction from the abominable rollout of Obamacare.

17.President Obama: Thank you for breaking with eight years of W’s “Cowboy Diplomacy” to show the world that we are capable of talking and negotiating our way to a more peaceful world. Thank you also for being tough enough to stand up to warmongers who love to try to settle scores with bombs, yet failed to learn from the Iraq and Afghanistan examples that getting in is a lot easier than getting out.

18.I regret the coming conclusion to PBS’s Downton Abbey, but am grateful for the modern-day Austen void this society drama has filled.

19.Red wine: You’ll be on this list every year, you angel/devil, you.

20.The Boston Marathon bombing was tragic, frightening and a terrible blow to the assumed security of community events, but it taught the nation a couple of critical lessons: don’t assume Islamic terrorists are brown-skinned folks from distant lands and most of all, DON’T mess with the Boston PD.

21.Pope Francis: Like I said I am an atheist, but I am a huge fan of the compassion, good sense and humility you’ve unleashed on the Vatican thus far. There may be hope for a modern, relevant Catholic Church yet. I still can’t believe you made it through the Conclave given your radical ideas about poverty and tolerance, but I’m glad you did.

22.Not a fan of Edward Snowden, but I’m grateful for the public conversations about privacy and surveillance his shenanigans invited. It can easily be argued that we would not be having them otherwise.

23.Paul Krugman: For keeping Keynesian economics alive and mainstream and for standing up to destructive austerians and “deficit scolds” on the regular. Your brilliance, approachability and determination demonstrate why they don’t hand out Nobel Prizes to just anybody.

24.I thank the National Federation of Press Women for seeing fit to bestow my second first place national writing award in four years. The fact that my 2013 prize was for last year’s work on this very blog makes the victory that much sweeter. This page is me.

25.I am grateful for my diverse, eclectic neighborhood of Rogers Park, and the multi-faceted benefits of lakefront living.

26.Zipcar: Thanks to your affordable membership prices and pickup location plentifulness, I don’t miss vehicle ownership one whit and shall never purchase an automobile again.

27.I don’t know whose decision at CNN it was to allow Newt Gingrinch to assault the airwaves on a weekday basis, but thank you. I now have a place to channel my sweaty hate whilst running on the treadmill.

28.Much love to PK and his painful, awful craniofacial massage techniques that have helped the Great Migraine Crisis of 2012 seem like a distant memory.

29.Wendy Davis: Your June, 11-hour filibuster badassery in the Texas Senate may not have killed the State’s assault on abortion rights, but your honey badger determination announced a new leader for women’s issues – and spiked sales of pink sneakers.

30.Last but not least, I am grateful that I have been given another year on this planet upon which to reflect.

Sisters By Chance, Friends By Choice (October 22, 2013)

Anyone even slightly acquainted with me knows I love my little sister. Before I migrated to Open Salon on May 5, 2010, we co-authored Which End is Up!? on the Google Blogspot platform. Jenny dragged me kicking and screaming into starting that bad boy when I had nary a professional writer’s byline to my name. Although she is a smart, funny gal in her own right with plenty of good stories, I was onto her immediately. She was concerned that if she didn’t offer me a venue to just get going already, I might never be brave enough on my own. Then and now, I believe she was right.

When the original blog was conceived in January 2009, it was intended to be kind of a point/counterpoint forum for two working girls with completely different lives. Jenny is the suburban, stably married mother of two adorable girls, with a dynamic career in radio broadcasting. Though I was married at the time, my vignettes were of the city-dwelling, fledgling author trying to navigate the transition from corporate drone to something more creatively fulfilling. The end of the latter story has yet to be written, but I am pleased to report that I am farther along the path than I could have imagined nearly five years ago. The marriage foundered under the weight of this effort, and plenty of other supporting issues, and I unwittingly stumbled into Carrie Bradshaw Sex in the City territory, without the fabulous shoes and unaffordable apartment.

Life, as it is wont to do, intervened and altered the amount of time we could invest in the blog. I began to write more as I focused and found my voice. As Jenny’s youngest grew into school age, and she discovered an interest in local politics (actually participating in, not just writing about), her contributions started to taper off. Again, I suspect that was always the point. That Jenny is a shrewd one and almost uniquely capable of reading my mind. That can be frustrating when you fancy yourself a cultivator of mystery.

Our relationship is not perfect, nor would I like it to be. How boring. We look quite alike and our voices are identical, resulting in decades of creeping people out, but we are two strong, independent women with our own agendas. Though we have and will again butt heads, we remain each other’s #1 fans (with all due respect to Max, JC and the girls).

Staying informed and keeping in touch has never been a challenge. Just try to get a word in when we’re in the same room. Go ahead. I dare you. But what has proven to be test over the course of our adult lives is one-on-one time, free of partners, children and work demands. Not that we don’t love and appreciate those things. In fact, they are the respective raison d’etre (yes, Jenny and I both took years of French lessons as well). But there just aren’t enough moments when we are allowed to set aside our other personas, take off our worldly masks and return to the two small kids we once were – best buddies with their own language, adversaries who often settled confrontation with physical altercations (usually won by the junior sis), the girls who would stay up into the wee hours singing songs, laughing and conversing until we finally passed out. Our father’s frequent bedtime admonition: “That’s enough from the Talking Heads.”

This past weekend in the resort town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Jenny and I took advantage of a rare opportunity to leave schedules behind, pamper ourselves and quite frankly, bullshit with abandon. I have been acquainted with my sister for all of her 33 years on this planet, and for most of them, I’m the individual who has known and loved her best. That said, I learned more about this woman in three days than I could have imagined I didn’t know.

She loves documentaries. If you have a favorite, she’s probably seen it, especially if it involves animals or 9/11 theories. She is still the same girl who will start trouble, then flee with the confidence that her big sister will clean up the mess (a late Saturday evening snafu entailing the use of our room key in the wrong hotel guest door). She stays away from bars and binge drinking (um, yeah we differ there) but loves live music of all kinds. She yearns to sleep in, but her internal clock, trained by years of motherhood, won’t allow it. She wants to “choke slam” S.E. Cupp, one of the hosts of CNN’s revamped political roundtable show, Crossfire. She appreciates nature and quiet to an admirable degree considering her noisy, messy urban upbringing (meanwhile, I can’t sleep without sirens blaring and CTA buses passing).

If it is possible to fall in love with your sibling all over again, I did so this weekend. I already adored the baby I pushed in the stroller, informing passerby that she was “mine;” the child who wouldn’t sleep in her own bed; the high school graduate who moved into my campus apartment before her first semester of college, rather than put up with our unfit parents another second; the young mother who trusted me with her newborn while she attended night classes; the honey badger who worked every unpaid internship and promotional gig she could until she convinced a Chicago radio station to hire her full-time. But now I’m acquainted with the 30-something Jenny, a full-grown lady with complex ideas and quirks, and I don’t just love her. I like her. A lot.

A Cry in the Dark (August 21, 2012)

On a late summer’s eve I sat at my kitchen table typing away, the sounds of chirping crickets my sole companion. I am not an individual who works well against a backdrop of white noise: no music wafting from Pandora, no CNN anchors relaying the day’s events. Just me, my work and the open balcony door in my studio apartment, where the fresh water air from Lake Michigan wafts in pleasantly.

I perched while working contentedly, attempting to ignore the familiar rumbles in my stomach, a reminder that I had once again labored through mealtime in the pursuit of written perfection. Just then a heart-rending wail went up from the alley behind my urban abode.

The source of the cries was a woman in the throes of grief, so caught in its clutches, reeking of a recent pierce, that she had not the self-awareness to withhold the details of its genesis. The familiarity of her ejaculations immediately produced a stabbing aftershock of pain. It is not so long ago that my former neighbors tacked a note to the rented condo door which read: “We are sorry about your domestic disharmony, but your yelling and crying disturbs us. Please keep it down.”

This woman’s private struggle suddenly made very public, I was drawn to the open balcony door, feeling much like an intruder stumbling upon an intimate moment not meant for my ears, but literally unable to shut out the intensity, the forceful strength of her misery. It seems that only that day, the lady learned from her four year-old child that “Daddy has a new girlfriend,” a woman of dubious immigration status who has been seeing her husband for some time. The victim wept and bellowed on her cell phone, and as much as I pitied her predicament, I wondered about the auditor at the other end of the line. Who was it? Were they equipped to withstand this torrent of anguish? Could they be the rock against which she broke herself?

I stopped typing and listened knowingly yet helplessly as the woman wondered about the prospects for her future: how would she provide for her kids, how would she live through such betrayal, what had she done wrong? And though she never wanted to see her tormentor again, how would she survive without him?

I wanted to go to her, put my arms around her and smooth her hair. I wanted to do for her what so many had been unable or unwilling to do for me, in part because I didn’t know how to ask. “This too shall pass.” Trite, overused platitude though it is, it’s repeated so oft for a reason. I wanted to reassure her that 18 months from now, she could very well be working contentedly, alone in her own space with more to keep her company than the feeling of lack.

But I understand from experience that out-of-body sensation that befalls the lost and bereft. So isolated from the normal continuum of human emotion, you forget where you are and what you’re doing. An outside reminder from a disinterested party can be jarring and shameful to the point of complete collapse. It’s a delicate balance at that stage of grief just to keep taking breaths. Instead I watched the woman retreat back into her apartment. I knew what awaited her: so many complicated decisions over days, months, even years, her life changed forever, every certainty overturned.

I am not a woman of prayer, but I am a human of empathy. Her tears have only begun but may they be granted a reprieve for rest. She’s going to need it.

The Show is Over (July 26, 2011)

I have been a politico, a policy wonk, a fervent follower of Washington gamesmanship for as long as I can remember. I believe my love for the inner workings of our nation’s Capitol began with a first grade classroom straw poll in which I participated in 1984. My parents, young moderate Republicans, were huge fans of Reagan, whereas I already began to sense my liberal stirrings and wanted to like Walter Mondale more, but just couldn’t. In truth, I would have been happiest to vote for Geraldine Ferraro, but that wasn’t an option and in the end bit my lip and cast my childhood lot with the Gipper. Though my vote counted for nothing, I have yet to forgive my lack of foresight.

I have always been a fan of the Sunday morning talk shows, the arm chair quarterbacking about bills, social initiatives and policy speeches. As long as America’s basic common sense and global leadership was intact, I took it mostly in good fun. Of course there are real world implications for any nation’s decisions, but I felt safe in my admiration of the endless game of chess that keeps networks like CNN and Fox News in business.

I have been blogging for about two years and until recent months, a good percentage of my posts have been politically motivated. In my freelance journalism life, I kept up a column for a magazine based in Denver for the better part of a year.

But suddenly, beginning in December 2010 when Obama capitulated to the extreme right wing on the extension of the fiscally irresponsible Bush tax cuts, or if I’m being honest, slightly before that, the wind was sucked right out of my political sails. As the middle class and lower classes sank under the crushing weight of high unemployment, a credit crunch and the disappearance of home equity that are the hallmarks of this Great Recession; as lawmakers from both sides fell out of touch with the real world needs of real people as they became entrenched in partisan squabbles that had little or nothing to do what it takes to get the nation back on track; to quote President Obama, when “compromise became a four-letter word” as the rest of the world looks on in horror while we careen toward the inevitable toppling of our dynasty, there’s nothing to appreciate. It is, in a bipartisan word, revolting.

As it is, a lack of engagement with current affairs has been a casualty of the increasing digitization of our culture. The truly engaged and informed are a diminishing minority, and anyone else who flips on the TV to witness the latest round of partisan posturing from the President or the Speaker of the House is bound to reach for their Kindle or Nintendo DS in short order. Politics is serious business, but let’s face it, also entertainment. And of the many sins of which our lawmakers are in the business of committing, a failure to captivate may be one of the lesser, but it’s clearly a factor inCongress’ 77 percent negative approval rating.

To state the totally obvious: we have major problems in this country, problems that even a vote to raise the debt ceiling, or a last minute Hail Mary that manages to cut spending AND raise revenue, may not solve. The United States is the laughing stock of the First World (and even Third World nations like India are having a chuckle at our paralysis). But no one living here outside of the upper two percent of wealth holders, has a thing to smile about.

 

CNN, I Can’t Quit You (June 15, 2011)


God help me, but I adore Elliot Spitzer.

When I separated from my husband in April and moved into my own apartment, a serious decrease in income necessitated a downgrade of my cable services. Goodbye HBO, so long Showtime, and even the basic package I agreed to was a step down from the hundreds of HD channels at my disposal in a former life. No worries. I am a busy and resourceful girl and besides, the network TV stations were in the throes of wrapping up their episodic seasons.

Now that it’s June and my serials are on summer break, options for amusing myself while I eat dinner, clean the house and work out my Power Hoop, have become limited. My go-to for years has been CNN when all else fails. However with the gearing up of the 2012 U.S. Presidential election (particularly the GOP primaries), the continued unrest in the Middle East, the trial of Casey Anthony and the antics of Anthony Weiner, my always more than passing interest has taken on a life of its own.

I need help. I can’t enough of Fareed Zakaria. He may be the wisest man in the world and whether it’s his regular program GPS, or one of his illuminating specials, such as “Restoring the American Dream,” I wish I could empty his brain into mine.

The gay community scored a real coup back in May when adorable and charming weekend anchor Don Lemon came out of the closet. I think a number of my single sisters will join me in finding it terribly unfair that the two most gorgeous members of the CNN news team, including the venerable blue-eyed stallion, otherwise known as Anderson Cooper, are out of our reach. What’s left for us? Wolf Blitzer? Bah!

My love for all things CNN does not extend to John King, who for whatever reason never fails to remind of John Tesh (maybe it’s the whole “Blonde Frankenstein” thing – thank you Howard Stern), and is furthermore, a crushing bore. Ditto Soledad O’Brien, who I have noticed has become increasingly marginalized by the network since her April test in the weekly 7PM slot was deemed “unwatchable” by CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton. So why is she still there?

Wolf Blitzer and Jack Cafferty quench my thirst for curmudgeonly old men who have seen it all. Commentators and panelists David Gergen and Jeffrey Toobin never fail to elicit my interest. Ditto Roland Martin, who is always as excitable as he is intelligent.

Sanjay Gupta, you make me want to contract an unusual disease just so you’ll drop into my living room to do a special report.

And I can’t leave out my favorite CNN ladies. Dana Bash, Candy Crowley and Kiran Chetry – I heart you all.

I started and will end with an explanation of my most controversial CNN crush – Elliot Spitzer. When Parker/Spitzer debuted early this year, I didn’t give it a snowball’s chance in hell. Elliot, the former Governor of New York, remains a political punch line in many circles, and Kathleen Spitzer may be a hell of a writer, but she doesn’t give good TV. At all. The partnership had all the chemistry of a flat Diet Coke.

Mercifully, the brass at CNN realized that their true star is Spitzer. I may receive hate mail for saying so, but he fills the void in my heart left by the death of NBC’s Tim Russert. Spitzer will ask the tough questions. He knows he has nothing to lose and seems grateful enough for this career second act to leave it all on the court every evening. He will ask anybody anything and seems immune to squirming. He truly does not give a shit, and I love it! I am surprised the show is still able to book guests. That’s what I call keeping them honest.

Alright enough because clearly I could go on all day. For variety’s sake, I tried to give MSNBC a whirl last night, but the fit just wasn’t there. If watching CNN until my eyes cross is wrong, then I just don’t care to be right.