Smollett vs. Manafort: America’s Color and Class-Coded Criminal Justice System in Action

“..the 16 counts against Smollett carry a maximum sentence of three years per charge. That means that the 36 year-old actor could serve as many as 48 years behind bars for his transgressions, which yes, include deliberately lying to police and the public. But consider that possibility, then compare it with the shambolic sentencing of a famous, traitorous, crooked old Caucasian man who has been fleecing governments, banks and the American public for over 30 years.

The juxtaposition of two grossly disparate approaches to justice, dominated by identity politics, in which the system is rigged to support moneyed, cisgendered white males. Well…that puts me in similar place with New York Times Opinion Columnist Michelle Goldberg. To paraphrase her March 8 comments in response to the real and manufactured outrage being directed at Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for comments construed as anti-Semitic, when I think of Smollett this weekend, I am angry at him, as well as furious on his behalf.

Earlier this week, former Donald Trump 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort had the white privilege of appearing before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the United States District Court of Alexandria, Virginia. Robert Muller’s special counsel’s office had recommended a 19 to 24-year prison sentence after bringing more than two dozen felony charges against Manafort, including obstruction of justice, bank fraud and violations of lobbying laws.”

Instead he will serve less than four years.

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Both Siderist New York Times: Giving GOP Credit That Obama Deserves

“While it’s gratifying to see the authors call-out the ‘nativist fear’ mongering of Trump’s campaign swing in support of Republican candidates across the country, it’s hard not to flinch at the part about ‘the glowing report on the nation’s economy.’ As if that is any credit to the current POTUS or his policies. It’s particularly troubling to read this during the same week that President Obama, who in hard fact pulled the American economy out of a deep ditch in 2008 and placed it on a sustainable path Trump has not had enough time to fully destroy, is out there laboring.

44 is leveraging his earned leadership capital and personal charisma to articulate remarkable, abundant policy and humanitarian differences which divide 2018’s Democratic and Republican candidates. The Trump administration and his conservative sycophants have done all they can to erase the forward cultural and economic movement, the calls to basic decency, championed by President Obama. It’s galling when supposedly credible media sources assist that effort.

Deeper into their Times article, Herdon and Ember demonstrate an awareness that Republican ownership claims to a relatively stable economy are on a shaky foundation.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Increasingly Blurred Partisan Lines Offer Hope for Journalism in 2018

2017 has been a strange and disturbing year for the United States in so many far-reaching ways. Long, well-researched books will be written about this year’s impact (or lack thereof) on income inequality, government corruption, gender dynamics, the justice system, immigration, suffrage, healthcare, civil rights, the First Amendment, foreign policy, war and climate change. I’m hard pressed to think of a major issue facing humanity that hasn’t been stress tested to the point of breaking spirits, cultures, families, the economy and the nation in the seventeenth year of the 21st Century.

For liberal political journalists, it’s been especially hard to dissociate the self from the reporting. 2017 has been an unusually challenging year for investigating topics unemotionally. At least tangentially, we have a stake in the story by virtue of sharing space with other people affected by a policy, decision or revolution.  I don’t live in Puerto Rico, but I don’t need to in order to feel helpless anger over fellow Americans failed by every possible government system in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. People are still dying from the ripple effects of disease, water and power shortages, not to mention the callousness of a President who believes a paper towel tossing photo op is #MAGA – because brown people are takers.

As a writer/human hybrid, there have been many days and weeks this year when the power of the pen hasn’t felt forceful enough. That the exercise in information sharing that is journalism falls impotently short of the action needed to right a country that has popularly lurched toward heartlessness at the highest levels of government. Isolationist xenophobia, backs turned to war-torn refugees, a place where Nazis are labeled “very fine people,” black lives only matter when it comes to kneeling in protest and female reproductive health is a political bargaining chip for the dominant hierarchy of middle-aged white men. It’s easy to become disoriented and confused to the point of inertia. Should I be writing about this? Should I be in the streets? Am I supposed to be deliberating? Hand me another scotch in the meantime.

I do not pretend to be a moderate. Never have. I can’t be less than all the way when it comes to constructing government and social systems that support and offer opportunity equally. I do not believe we go it alone. Call me a socialist, a radical, an angry intersectional feminist or any of the more colorful epithets offered by my (typically male) Twitter trolls. When the leader of the country governs by pandering to the ignorant 35 percent, rather than representing all Americans, displaying the kind of divisive, threatening behavior and rhetoric well known to despots, I’m happy to be branded an enemy of the state. As lonely and frightening as it can be to sit outside the circle, the air is a lot less toxic.

All of this is to say that as the end of the year approaches, I and many other exhausted journalists in my acquaintance are still trying to find our footing. Just the facts has been replaced by fake news, many of the policy threats are deeply personal and after all, wallowing in the muck of the Trump era is spiritually exhausting. However the work continues in a bi-partisan way, and if there’s comfort to be found in the crusade, it’s the unexpected shared experience with an increasingly large number of conservative writers and pundits. If you’d told me just 18 months ago, that I’d find myself aligned with the thoughts of the New York Times columnist David Brooks, the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan and Peter Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center – in the same week! – I wouldn’t have believed it possible. But here we are:

“The Republican Party is doing harm to every cause it purports to serve. If Republicans accept Roy Moore as a United States senator, they may, for a couple years, have one more vote for a justice or a tax cut, but they will have made their party loathsome for an entire generation…Young people and people of color look at the Trump-Moore G.O.P. and they are repulsed, maybe forever.”

“The support being given by many Republicans and white evangelicals to President Trump and now to Mr. Moore have caused me to rethink my identification with both groups. Not because my attachment to conservatism and Christianity has weakened, but rather the opposite. I consider Mr. Trump’s Republican Party to be a threat to conservatism, and I have concluded that the term evangelical — despite its rich history of proclaiming the ‘good news’ of Christ to a broken world — has been so distorted that it is now undermining the Christian witness.”

“[Republicans], have faith. Not everything comes down to an immediate election that is this coming Thursday. Think long term, philosophically. Be true to your own political principles, but have some faith and don’t make decisions that are not ones that you’re really comfortable with.”

Suddenly it seems conservative to stand against cynicism, pedophilia, party before country and the corporate raiding of the American people. I and other liberals may disagree with these writers on “everyday” policies. But in 2017, normalcy has been supplanted by Constitutional crises and the end days of representative democracy. The journalistic blurring of party lines may offer small 2017 comfort. But as a writer, it gives me energy to take on 2018.

No Matter What Happens at the Polls, the Trumpists Already Won

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“Whichever nominee of our two major political parties comes away the victor (because spoiler alert Jill Stein and Gary Johnson: it won’t be either of you), there’s a group amongst the 2016 campaign madness that’s succeeded beyond its wildest expectations – and our collective revulsion. The venerable New York Times devoted front page space to this cohort today. To wit: Donald Trump’s Extremist Supporters Feel Like Winners Either Way.

Because really, even if Trump is drubbed at the ballot box, it’s kind of hard to recork a popped bottle of (until recently) simmering racism and misogyny. And pop it these “special” interests did with a little help from the vilest human ever to receive a nomination for the nation’s highest office. Let’s take a look at some of the Trumpists key accomplishments…”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

It May Not Be Trending, But Rahm Emanuel Is Still Ruining Chicago

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“Why has the #FireRahm inferno cooled, fully ablaze as it was just months ago? Self-serving media/political laziness is one factor. Why fight a stubbornly intransigent and still powerful City Hall when an election-year Trump is the headline-grabbing gift of a generation? I appreciate The New York Times keeping this story nationally alive. Summer is coming and there’s no reason to believe the soaring 2016 murder rate will decline in a hot city torn apart by cynical, dehumanizing leadership. I said it in December 2015 and nothing has changed. Rahm has got to go.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.