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Hillary Clinton

Photo: www.bing.com – Hillary Clinton

With all this recent talk about Hillary Clinton’s health, her “basket of deplorables” remark, and her virtual tie in the polls with Earth’s favorite half-orangutan, half-real estate mogul Donald Trump, it’s difficult to remember that a little over a year ago, everyone believed that the former First Lady had the 2016 presidential race in the bag.

Who is Hillary Rodham Clinton? From being a bright, vivacious, and prominent lawyer who was involved in the radical fight for equal rights in the 60’s and 70’s, the wife of one of the most popular political figures of the 20th century, a former senator from the state of New York, the former Secretary of State–take your pick. The woman is tailor-made for a spot behind the desk in the Oval Office.

So why is she not sweeping the floor with a broom made from the leftover wisps of Trump’s “hair?” There are more than a few reasons, and many, if not most of them, are of her (or her campaign’s) own doing.

Honesty and Transparency

As a card-carrying, bleeding-heart, die-hard liberal, even I can admit that Hillary Clinton sometimes has a problem with telling the whole truth. Now, do these statements ever amount to anything incredibly important or consequential? No, they don’t. With Benghazi, arguably her most upsetting “scandal,” having been determined to have not been her fault, the most serious allegations against the former Secretary of State seem to be far in the rearview.

But to many people on the left and the right, the fact that her half-truths hold little weight or consequence is exactly what makes them so offensive. Why not be as open and transparent as possible with the American people?

Hillary’s obfuscation of her past remarks, flip-flopping on important issues without acknowledging her past stances, and telling half-truths about other candidates (specifically Bernie Sanders) have hurt her campaign deeply, especially in an age where videos and statements from 20 years ago can be pulled up in a microsecond. Examples of these include:

All of these things and more make Clinton a confusing choice for many, especially younger voters. In the spotlight for decades now, Clinton has a public record that reaches back farther than many voters have been alive. With phones in everyone’s pockets and Twitter constantly fact-checking candidates in real time, someone like Hillary cannot afford to be caught saying something contrary to her past positions without at least acknowledging that she has changed her mind.

Not to be mixed in with right-wing conspiracies about syphilis, body doubles, or worse, Hillary’s health has become an issue of concern as well. Not only because the president needs to be healthy to be able to do the job, but also because getting specific answers about Clinton’s health from her own campaign can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. See our own Justin Horner’s article about the 9/11 memorial pneumonia debacle here.

It is important to read and understand the above while also knowing that Donald Trump’s record on honesty and transparency is worse. Much worse.

Photo: www.crillylaw.au - Clinton Emails

Photo: www.crillylaw.au – Clinton Emails

Those Damn Emails

Confidential information. The Secretary of State. The FBI. The Clinton email scandal has been rocking around Washington D.C. (and most of our grandparents’ Facebook pages) for some time now. After hearings, subpoenas, investigations, interviews, and everything else you can think of, Hillary Clinton will definitely not be facing any criminal charges over her use of a private email server.

But that doesn’t mean this controversy is over, folks. Just recently we saw the former Secretary of State Colin Powell get thrown into the fray. While it does seem that Powell legitimized the use of a private email server, two wrongs don’t make a right. Regardless of her predecessor’s actions, keeping a private server with anything on it that wasn’t private business was objectively wrong and potentially dangerous. And with Trump’s tendency to never let anything go, he’s going to continue to remind his thousands of adoring fans that it was.

This leads us to the real meat and potatoes of this election cycle…

The Internet Strikes Back

Oh, Wikileaks. What would the 21st century be like without you?

Starting with the DNC email leaks from earlier in this election cycle, Julian Assange and crew have proven themselves to be determined to reveal what they perceive to be corruption, no matter the cost. This, coupled with the fact that Assange has been openly critical of Clinton and the DNC, has hung over the Clinton campaign like a dark cloud for months now.

With the addition of Colin Powell’s emails the public is getting an extremely personal look into the figures we, in the past, have rarely gotten a close view of. From gossip to important briefings, Wikileaks has made it its mission to expose any and all possible corruption, some would say regardless of the potential blowback.

In an incredibly disturbing leak  which showed the Obama administration appointed its campaign’s largest donors to positions in the administration, many (rightfully) worry that while Clinton talks about income equality, her party regularly rewards large donors with important position and influence.

Clinton Emails

Photo: www.newsfrompolitics.com – The Clinton Campaign

Millennials still “feel the Bern.”

What is perhaps Clinton’s biggest weakness is sadly her likability. With large swaths of voters on the right and the left considering her to be untrustworthy, robotic, or even calculating, Clinton has an uphill battle to fight in order to connect with the average voter on a personal level. Being a multi-millionaire who has been known worldwide for almost three decades, Clinton is not ever going to be able to convince 99% of the voting population that she is like them. And that is fine. It really, really is. What she needs to do is convince us that she cares about us.

Ironically, this is what her former primary opponent Bernie Sanders did so well. By coming across as genial, trustworthy, and sincere, Sanders captured a large portion of the left with relative ease and almost no corporate donations.

But if her supporters’ strongest argument is going to be “Hey, at least she’s not Donald Trump,” then she has a real chance of losing this election.

What do you think? Will Hillary be victorious come November? Or can we expect a President Trump? Let us know in the comments below!

Movies & Television

Should fans care that Deadpool was nominated for a Golden Globe?

Deadpool is the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture, and that a superhero movie has been nominated for anything other than its effects.

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deadpool-gallery-03-gallery-image

Image: 20th Century Fox

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced Monday night its nominations for the Golden Globes, and amidst the usual gossip of snubs and surprises, the biggest shocker came in the form of nominee for Best Picture – Comedy/Musical, Deadpool. This marks the first time that a superhero movie has been up for Best Picture at the Golden Globes, and honestly one of the few times ever that a superhero movie has been nominated for a major award for anything other than its effects. The question is, should we, as fans, care?

Now first off let’s just say that Deadpool was a hell of a movie. It zipped back and forth between crass and witty in a wonderful comedic ride that stayed true to the heart of the titular character that even the best of superhero films struggle to accomplish. The story of how the film came to be made probably deserves a documentary all it’s own, with the climax, of course, being the moment the test footage was leaked to an adoring public. No one is trying to say that Deadpool didn’t deserve to be nominated as one of the best comedies of the year.

However.

The Golden Globes have been notorious for years as the ultimate “Who Gives a Shit” awards. The Oscars have a voting pool of over 6,000 members, the Emmy’s have more than 18,000 members, and the Screen Actors Guild gives a vote to each of its 165,000 members. And how many people vote on the Golden Globes? 88.

And these are 88 people with some of the most tenuous of credentials possible. To become part of the voting bloc, an applicant must first be sponsored by two people who are already a part of the HFPA, but after that, all they must do is produce four published articles a year. This combination of nepotism-based admission and one of the lowest bars imaginable to maintain membership has always marred the Golden Globes and kept them from being truly respected as an award. Thus, them nominating anything for anything has very little meaning to it.

However.

As we said earlier, Deadpool‘s nomination marks the first time a superhero film has been up for Best Picture. In a way, it is a huge accomplishment for a genre that has always been viewed as merely action spectacles with little substance. Every year superhero films have managed to take a few steps closer towards wide-spread critical legitimacy with recent films beginning to take on serious topics and truly explore the emotional complexities of its characters.

When viewed from that light, Deadpool‘s nomination for Best Picture, even if only for a Golden Globe, could, in an incredibly optimistic, best-case scenario, serve as a precedent for future superhero films to earn awards beyond Best Visual Effects.

Which brings us back to the original question, should fans of superhero films care that Deadpool was nominated for a Golden Globe?

Sadly, no. While Deadpool is no doubt deserving of the honor, even should it win the award – it won’t, it’s going to go to La La Land, we’re calling it now – the Golden Globes simply aren’t respected enough for their opinions to sway any of the other award communities.

If you are one day hoping to see all of the Avengers (or the Justice League . . . I guess) on stage accepting the Academy Award for Best Picture, then please, don’t hold your breath.

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News

Reasons to take a news break over the holidays

I am determined to have a Trump-free holiday. I wanna focus on the warmth and fuzziness of family and friend togetherness instead. It will be a total and complete news break.

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donald trump doesn't like this picture
donald trump doesn't like this picture

Image: Twitter

Donald Trump has taken up residence in my brain and is making himself at home. And he’s invited Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, and all his other white nationalist friends over too. They’re even tickling my brain and invading my dreams. Well, as the holidays approach, I say “NO MORE!”

That’s right. I am determined to take a “Trumpcation” (A portmanteau of “Trump” and “vacation”) during the forthcoming holidays. Chanukah and Christmas overlap and, as a Jew who celebrates both, that means that my Trumpcation will last for a full eight days. That means no reading about him, no talking about him, no going out of my way to check his Twitter to see the latest gaseous explosion that spurted up out of his mind. Now the man is so ubiquitous right now that it’s impossible to completely avoid him, so if he comes up in a conversation or happens to be on TV, that’s fine. But other than that, I am determined to have a Trump-free holiday. I wanna focus on the warmth and fuzziness of family and friend togetherness instead. It will be a total and complete news break.

Of course, that is what I said two days before Thanksgiving. I planned to spend the entire weekend in a Trump-free bubble. I thought I had prepared by blocking his Twitter feed and yet the Twitter feed did not block me. Facebook friends posted screen caps of his latest bilious Tweets. Relatives and friends brought him up in nearly every conversation. His orange visage glowed forth from every TV I passed. And, of course, once somebody brings him up, I’ll be knee-deep in an endless conversation about our rage, our sadness, and our fear. Because I am a hopeless news junkie and I maybe have a masochistic streak where I fill my head up with the scariest news stories I can.

Intellectually, I know that it is high time for a Trump break. Writer Martijn Schrip, of the site High Existence, makes the argument that taking a news break is good for the brain.  He states that too much Facebook checking for the latest horrible newsworthy event makes us neglect the issues in our own lives in favor of the bigger problems facing the world. In addition, too much reliance on news makes us “junkies” looking for our next fix of information. People go to the restroom solely to check Facebook and whip out their phones whenever they see someone else on their phone, as if it’s a Pavlovian response. For me, it gets rough because one of my first acts when I wake up is to check Facebook. Since I have so many friends ( ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)) and am following so many pages, my brain gets inundated with a typhoon of information, think pieces, rants, and listicles. And since Trump is everywhere, he is usually the first thing I see every morning. Talk about a great start to my day….

It’s rough, guys. My way of coping with my intense fear of what’s coming is to constantly see what Trump is up to. His Twitter feed gives me a weird feeling of control. I know I don’t actually know what he’s doing but, since he Tweets so often, I trick my brain into feeling like I’m keeping tabs on him. I’m obsessed with seeing what new policies he is adopting or which old ones he’s backing away from. That’s how I cope. I enmesh myself deeply in Trumpism so I don’t forget that he’s out there.

But this may have the complete opposite effect, unfortunately. For all of my posting the hashtag #ThisIsNotNormal, I feel as if my constant obsession with the latest outrage is normalizing him in my mind. And that is not okay because this may lead to me passively accepting whatever horrible thing ends up happening.

I wish it were possible to be on Facebook for even a day and not run across his scowling face. Before Thanksgiving, my thinking was that I can avoid him for a few days and know that he would unfortunately be there when I got back. But, alas, this was not to be. But I am determined to actually do it for the eight days of Christmakkah (A portmanteau of “Christmas” and…oh you get it). If I run across his name or face on social media, I will quickly scroll past. I’ll change the channel if he’s on TV. It’s going to be tough but I think it’s important to try. I need to keep my brain sharp and ready to fight.

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Opinion

Real talk about identity politics

This piece is a quick and dirty run down of what identity politics is and what it’s about.

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Image: oneinchpunch / Shutterstock

The term identity politics inhabits a similar space that political correctness did in the 90s when some people were like, “Oh shit! Words matter!” and other people were like, “I am confused and resistant to change.” This piece is a quick and dirty run down of what identity politics is and what it’s about.

First of all, while the rise of the term “Identity Politics” in popular discourse is relatively recent, the idea that groups of people will have shared perspectives and experiences based on aspects of their identity, which will then affect their political goals and positions, is pretty old. The Civil Rights Movement, suffragettes, even the Huguenots incorporated aspects of identity politics. Of course, this is also true of the Nazis, the Cultural Revolution in China, and the KKK. However, most of the time you will see the term used is in regards to those who are marginalized in some way: minorities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, women, and more.

To understand how identity politics function, you need to understand what I mean by marginalization. Marginalization doesn’t mean that the people in these groups are never wildly successful, never assholes, or don’t contribute to oppressing others. Indeed, many suffragettes were racist AF and the Civil Rights Movement had issues with sexism. What marginalization means is that it is culturally acceptable in large and small ways, consciously and unconsciously, to limit how certain people interact with the world. This can mean fewer opportunities, curtailing of civil rights, the threat of violence, or discounting and/or appropriating their contributions.

Another factor of marginalization and how identity politics function is that individual achievement alone does not erase problems with marginalization. Female Olympic athletes are still picked apart for not being properly made-up or skinny enough, despite exemplifying physical prowess. President Obama still faces racism as one of the most powerful men on earth. Yes, gaining power, wealth, PhDs, sponsorships, etc. may lessen the ways an individual is affected, but they do not make a systematic problem go away.

So if you are a marginalized person who is ignored, not taken seriously, or threatened, you can find people with similar backgrounds and views to organize and create coalitions. You figure out how to best get your interests taken care of, whether it’s through piecemeal legislation, all out protests, lawsuits, awareness campaigns, etc. Several people whose individual concerns were deemed unimportant become a larger political entity that demands attention and creates change.

Sometimes people take action organically without a ton of planning, and sometimes they are highly organized. That doesn’t mean everything always goes smoothly, of course, because shared perspectives do not translate into everyone in a group having the same beliefs. People will have different ideas about how to get things done; the classic example in the U.S. is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Malcolm X. People within a group will also have their own prejudices, which can limit their effectiveness and cause further conflict.

If it sounds like identity politics is flawed, messy, and uncomfortable that’s because it is. There are also people who consider it the purview of the frivolous, overly sensitive, and divisive. So why bother with identity politics? Especially when they apparently need a whole article to explain the basics without a single gif or picture?

via GIPHY

For one, people engage in identity politics all the time; it’s just usually considered less controversial if they say, “as a parent,” or “as a small business owner” when explaining their perspectives, indeed if they note their identity at all. We may as well talk about our politics accurately instead of pretending some people are objective and neutral while others who have different views are advocates of special interests or worse, maliciously divisive.

This brings me to my second point. Those who believe that talking about marginalization causes societal fractures are usually those who haven’t had to deal with it. The fractures were already there; it’s just that these people weren’t aware of them. No amount of playing nice, conforming, or achievement protects you. Think of the sexual harassment of female Fox News anchors, or the treatment of Tim Scott, the only black GOP senator. Having an education, good job, and loving family did not save Sandra Bland.

To assume that party politics and platform building is neutral or more serious when they do not include different perspectives is disingenuous at best and bigoted at its worst. (Think of Gov. Mike Pence’s policies targeting the LGBTQ community and punishing women who have abortions.)

Identity politics isn’t some kind of silver bullet against every ism or injustice. Like I said in the beginning, identity politics are also at play in hate groups and dangerous nationalism. Who you are and what’s important to you shouldn’t overtake the rights and liberties of others. But identity politics can help us recognize and address problems even when they don’t directly affect us, and help us make an impact in our own society.

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