Politics Book Reviews: Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America & Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution

It would be easy to think that those who we elect to speak for our needs in the halls of power are doing their jobs. A deeper dive reveals a lust for power, the need for influence to fill one own pocket, and the lack of care/responsibility to those who put them in office.

Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America, by Dan Pfeiffer, was published last month. In short, it describes how both the carelessness of the social media companies and a right-wing conspiracy nearly led to the annihilation of this nation and our democracy. He also talks about how we can fight back and stop the lies before they destroy us.

Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution, by Elie Mystal, was published in March. Mystal takes the legalese out of the Constitution and explains them in a way that anyone would understand. Complete with pop culture references and the occasional f-bomb, Mystal points out what is wrong with the law (i.e. racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ sentiment, etc), and how we can prevent the white patriarchy from dragging us back into the past.

What we need right now are two things: hope and a kick in the behind. These books provide both. By writing laymen’s terms, both Pfeiffer and Mystal are giving the average citizens the tools we need to fight against the growing threats of theocracy and fascism.

Do I recommend them both? Absolutely.

Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America and Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution are available wherever books are sold.

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My Takeaway From Last Night’s January 6th Commission Hearing

History does not happen in a vacuum. There are events that inform the present and guide us to hopefully learn from the mistakes made in the past.

Last night, more than twenty million Americans watched the first public hearings of the January 6th commission. For two hours, viewers were presented with evidence and interviews in regards to the riot that nearly broke our democracy more than a year and a half ago.

As I see it, the information is damming. There are also four important elements that both the mainstream media and the voting public must face head-on:

  1. The former President is an egotistical, two-faced, lying, con artist who cannot understand the concept of the word no. He is not above throwing his own daughter under the bus or potentially sacrificing former VP Mike Pence to the wolves.
  2. Any politician or government bureaucrat who has supported you know who in the service of their own career must either be voted out and/or revealed for the traitors that they are. A two-party system only works if both sides can work together, even when they don’t always agree.
  3. The right-wing media’s lies must also be revealed for the hypocritical bullshit that it is. In a move that surprised no one, the hearing was not broadcast on Fox News and other media companies of their ilk.
  4. Anyone who was involved that day must be brought to justice. If they are not, that sends a message that what happened is acceptable and normal.

Fifty years ago, Watergate changed the politics of this nation. Looking back after half a century, we can now see the damage that the scandal caused. My fear is that if we do not face this problem head-on, we will look back in another fifty years and ask why we did not do something when we had the opportunity.

We have one shot to correct this wrong. The question is, do we have the nerve to do so or will the American experiment that is our democracy die in a haze of violence, hatred, and choosing power over the needs of the people?

Sandy Hook Part II: At Least Eighteen Children and Two Adults Killed in an Elementary School in Texas

We all remember the horror of Sandy Hook in December of 2012. The young lives lost, the adults who tried to save their students, and the heartache that will never fade.

This morning was the sequel to that day. An eighteen-year-old gunman charged into an elementary school in Texas. Among the dead are at least eighteen children and two adults.

This is the third mass shooting to make national news in the last seven days. The third occurred in a church in Orange County in California. Five people were injured and one man was killed. Closer to home, a man was killed by a stranger carrying a gun on the Q train on Sunday in New York City. The accused was caught today. When did we become so desensitized that this unnecessary loss of life that it is nothing more than another headline?

I keep thinking that it is going to get to the point in which we have to wear bulletproof vests as part of our regular wardrobe and go through airport-style security to complete simple errands.

I blame the NRA. I blame the Republicans who are more concerned with their careers and lining their own pockets than doing what is right for the country. I blame all of our politicians who are too chicken shit to speak up and save lives. I blame Fox News and other right-wing media organizations who knowingly peddle lies. I blame those who are more concerned with the unborn than the current members of the young generation. I blame those who use mental health as an excuse instead of looking for real-world solutions and once more create a sense of shame around needing help.

We need rock-solid gun control laws now. We needed them in 2012 and we needed them after Columbine 23 years ago. I don’t know what it is going to take to get this legislation on the books. How many of our children will die before we do something about it?

If you have children, hug them and tell them that you love them. It may be the last time you say it to them.

The only thing I can think of right is to vote in November. Regardless of party or affiliation, if a candidate or incumbent does not support gun control, do not vote for them. Send the message that lives are more important than power.

May the memory of those murdered today be a blessing and finally be the impetus needed to get off our asses and fix this problem for good. Z”L.

P.S. I have no doubt that certain members of the press will use the fact that the allegation that the accused crossed the border illegally to once more further their own agenda.

P.P.S The fact that the shooting in the church in California is news to me tells me everything I need to know about where this nation is going.

Republican Fuckery Part III: Will Hurd on Abortion, Frank Niceley on Hitler and the Homeless, Tucker Carlson’s Balls, and Paul Schroder

In an ideal world, we would all agree on everything. But we don’t live in an ideal world. However, that does not mean that in the halls of power, one party has to do all the work and the other can just complain all day.

Last Monday, former Texas Congressman Will Hurd was on The Brian Lehrer Show. When asked about abortion, he said the following:

I am pro-life and I think the time at which how many weeks into a birth you should limit. I think there is where Texas falls I am supportive of. I also think both sides of the argument should be looking and making sure, how do we prevent a young woman or any woman from having to get in this situation? I think working on the front end of this issue is where both sides of individuals can be working together.

While the Congressman has a right to his opinion and sounds more reasonable than many on the right, he is still seeing this issue in black and white instead of in color. An episode from the podcast The Experiment which originally premiered last December explains why we need to look at abortion from an honest perspective.

Meanwhile, also within the Lone State’s borders, there is a voice of reason: Paul Schroder. He spoke truth to power on Governor Greg Abbott‘s attempt to limit the number of trucks coming into the state. Instead of helping the country, they are once more hurting us. Thanks, Republicans.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, State Senator Frank Niceley made the following statement:

“Hitler decided to live on the streets for a while. So for two years, Hitler lived on the streets and practiced oratory and his body language and how to connect with the masses, and then went on to lead a life that got him into history books,” he said.

“So a lot of these people, it’s not a dead end. They can come out of this, these homeless camps and have a productive life, or in Hitler’s case, a very unproductive life,” he continued. “I support this bill.”

I think we can all agree that homelessness is a major problem that has been bandied around for decades without a reasonable resolution. But the choice of using a homicidal dictator who started a war and was responsible for the deaths of millions of people as an example was not a wise decision.

And finally, Fox News personality Tucker Carlson has made his personal crusade the restoration of American masculinity. How you ask? Testicle tanning. I shit you not.

(Starts at 4:15.)

Just another day of Republican fuckery in the United States.

Fox News and the Covid-19 Vaccine: Do as I Say, Not as I do

Regardless of where one stands on any specific social or cultural issues, there is one thing we can all agree upon. The media, in its various formats, has a huge role on determining how we view the world around us. The problem is that in our fractured society, one’s perspective depends on which media one consumes and the messages they are putting out to their audience.

Last month, The Hill reported that Fox News, as per New York state mandate, the network was requiring its employees to provide their Covid-19 vaccination status to HR. While they have been internally making sure that their staff have gotten the shots, the ideas that are being communicated to their viewers is the opposite. Their lies and outrageous half truths have added to the death toll and the unnecessary grief that too many American families have forced to live with.

Granted, every media company has their own perspective and an audience who has a receptive ear to the content they are watching and/or reading. However, there is also a responsibility to at the very least, tell the truth. What they say has consequences. In light of what we are currently going through, those consequences can either save a life or take a life. I don’t know about you, but I would rather see someone live than die needlessly from a preventable disease.

Snow White & Fox News: Nothing More Than a Distraction

Have you ever gone to a magic show and closely watched the magician while they were doing card tricks? The real trick is in their left hand, but they are distracting you by making you focus on what is in their right hand.

The latest brouhaha to come out of Fox News revolves around the updates made to the Snow White’s Enchanted Wish ride at Disneyland. Their claim, as ridiculous as it sounds, is that cancel culture is again rearing its ugly head. The target of the moment is Snow White.

These people need to get over themselves. Instead of dealing with the real issues like Covid-19, the economy, the still prevalent race issues, etc., they talk about nonsense. Its as if these people purposefully put their heads in the figurative sand. They hear and see what they want to hear and see. If it doesn’t interest them or directly support their point of view, it is wrong or bad somehow.

No wonder this country is going to Hades in a handbasket.

WTF is Happening to this Country? Adam Toledo and the Indianapolis Shooting

There is a Chinese curse which says, “May he live in interesting times.” Interesting times is one way to explain what is happening in the United States.

Last week, a 13 year old boy was shot and killed by police in Chicago. His name was Adam Toledo. He was murdered because the officers believed that he had a gun. Adding salt to the wound was the reference by Fox News host and all around asshole Sean Hannity that this child was a fully grown man. I see two issues with this story.

  1. The blood of this young man is not just on the hands of the police officers who killed him. It is on everyone who played their part to get this supposed weapon into young Mr. Toledo’s hands.
  2. Our local and national law enforcement department must be able to do their jobs. But they have to get it into their heads and their training materials that they are not avenging angels. The police are just one link in the chain of the justice system.

May the memory of this boy be a blessing and finally get us off our asses to stop police brutality against Americans of color.

On Friday morning, a former employee of a FedEx facility in Indianapolis killed eight people. According to his mother, the man who was responsible for the murders had mental health issues.

In response to the umpteenth mass shooting in the United States since March, President Biden referred to this new wave as a national embarrassment. I can’t think of a better description of this unnecessary slaughter of innocent civilians. We can fix this problem, it doesn’t take a genius to put together a national law to prevent future events of this nature. The problem is that some Republican lawmakers are blind to the idea that any national gun control legislation does not infringe on the rights of gun owners who are of sound mind and followed the laws. It is a measure that desperately needed (and has been needed for more than two decades) to save lives.

I don’t know what it will take to wake this country up, but something has to be done.

Happy Sunday.

Jeanine Pirro Went Bonkers and I Love It

Facts and opinions are two different things entirely. Facts are indisputable. Opinions vary from person to person. Some people seem to think that the two are interchangeable.

On Saturday, immigration lawyer David Leopold was a guest on Jeanine Pirro’s show on Fox News. The topic was immigration. On any other channel, this would be an adult discussion between two professionals. Instead, it devolved into a mostly one sided conversation that ended with Mr. Leopold being kicked off the show.

Starts at 3:25.

I don’t know how far this lady’s head is up her ass, but she needs a reality check. Whatever “facts” she got from you know who are at best half truths and at worst, outright lies. The worst of those lies is that the people who are coming to the border are bringing Covid with them. This is not a new accusation. Every immigrant group, at one time or another, has been rumored to carry dirt and disease with them as they enter their new country. The fact that Mr. Leopold was able to stay calm and hold his ground as long as he did was nothing short of amazing.

If only there were more people in this world like him and less like Judge Pirro.

Have the Members of the Texas GOP Lost Their Minds?

The game of politics has always been a sticky one. The question I have to ask, is when push comes to shove, do those in the halls of power serve themselves or the voters who hired them?

The big political news of the week is that Ted Cruz decided that it was a good time to take a vacation in Mexico while his fellow Texans are trying their best to survive a snow storm that has knocked out power, heat, and water.

On top of what can only be described as a foolish decision, Governor Greg Abbott went on Fox News and blamed New York Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal for the outages.

The cherry on top is the following statement by the state’s former Governor, Rick Perry

. “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business,”

What is the purpose of the federal government, if not to step in when a storm of this magnitude creates such destruction in its wake? People are burning their furniture and bundling up in as many clothes or blankets as humanly possible to stay warm.

I don’t know who these men are trying to impress. It’s as if they care more about themselves or their careers than their constituents. But considering the party’s track record over the last few years, I expect nothing less.

P.S. While the Texas GOP does nothing, both AOC and Beto O’Rourke have stepped up to help. It doesn’t take a genius to see who is putting their money where their mouth is and who isn’t.

Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth Book Review

The news, whether reported on television or via the newspaper of one’s choice, used to be a simple thing. The facts were given and the viewer and/or reader was given the leverage to make up their own minds. These days, the news is not so simple.

Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, by Brian Stelter, was released back in August. In the book, Mr. Stelter examines how you know who and Fox News have distorted the truth to fit their view of the world. Every previous President has spent their working hours speaking to their peers across the globe and coordinating with various divisions of the government to keep the country going. This President watches hours of television (Fox News to be specific), marks out his favorites and lets them have a hand in dictating his policies. They are also hypocrites, telling the audience one thing while believing another thing entirely.

I couldn’t help but get angry as I read this book. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the basic tenets of journalism remain the same. In twisting the facts to fit their perspective, the message is clear. It is not about letting the audience think for themselves. It is a political and business strategy that benefits only you know who and Fox News.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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