Roseanne and Right Wing Premature Excitation

Admittedly, I am still wary of trusting newly-awakened Republicans – those willing to stand up against the excesses of #Trump’s ignorance, bigotry and cruelty, and against the party they love dearly.   My wariness stems from the level of introspection the Republican party has failed to show in figuring out how Donald Trump could so easily take control of their party – beyond the absurdity of trying to blame President Obama or Democrats.  Even the newly-awakened are focused on “now” and not how they got here.  Some Republicans blame Trump’s prior identification as a Democrat (ignoring the fact that he has opportunistically joined several political parties before ravaging theirs). Trump clearly knew he could never successfully run bigoted messages through the Democratic Party, and that those same messages would be well-received by Republican voters.

Any time I tell myself to be more trusting of Republicans who have become Trump critics, I also remind myself to try to let go of old fears based on lingering cultural memories for the slightly milder Trump-esque messages the Republican party pushed prior to his election.  Rationality will win, in the end, yes?  I would say yes, but then there is the lesson of John Podhoretz,  a lesson I will let serve as my wake-up call.  This lesson is an easy one.  The moment there appears to be a “data driven” message that suggests that Trump’s ignorance, bigotry and cruelty are also mainstream, some will celebrate it and treat it as a warning that it is time for a change in the broader society – a change that should be more inclusive of Trump voters (and, implicitly, more inclusive of some of Trump’s messages). Data used as evidence for change can be as limited as viewer ratings for a single episode of a sitcom revival that may not be indicative of what follows.

To buy into Republican euphoria over Roseanne ratings, you must first cling to the, ridiculous, long-standing GOP argument that liberals do not watch programs or movies featuring conservative actors.  Pretend it is true despite the fact that several cities with the highest viewer rates were in states that have traditionally (pre-2016)  voted with the Democratic party and that several cities with the lowest ratings are in deep red states,   Assume, as Podhoretz seems to, that the ratings are primarily due to pro-Trump voters who tuned in to see their choices defended and the rehabilitation of the well-embraced, Clinton-generated, label: “Deplorables”.  I guess it is safe to ignore the viewers who are not Trump supporters, but who also remembered The Connors, fondly, before politics became so sadly acrimonious.  While it is clear that the “Deplorables” celebrated a successful Hollywood actress embracing their guy, the original show was comprised of fans of all political leanings.

More than excitation, there should be a growing concern facing those moved by this turn of events. Roseanne-the character is supposed to be modeled after Roseanne-the actress. How much blurring between the two will occur with the sitcom?  Roseanne – the character, will have to always remain the Roseanne-lite version of the actress.  What happens when Roseanne – the character, begins yukking it up over joining an attack on 17-year old David Hogg by tweeting the conspiratorial phrase “Nazi Salute”?  I can’t quite imagine playing a laugh track over this one:

Roseanne David Hogg Attack.png

Can Roseanne-the character talk about her penchant for conspiracy theories involving the deaths of   Seth-Rich, and the mind-numbingly stupid Pizzagate ?  It is difficult to fathom that Trump-conservatives really want to see themselves portrayed on TV, embracing the full Trump agenda.  It is even harder to believe that those defending Trump supporters, even while taking on Trump, want to see his supporters as they are, either.  Imagine what that reflection looks like on national television, in an attempt to normalize the worst pro-Trump excesses.  What Trump supporters seem to really want is a warmer, fuzzier, more rational portrayal of themselves, streaming into America’s living rooms.

I agree with Podhoretz that there is a wake-up call for Hollywood. I think that call is, “DON’T FALL FOR IT!”.  The other shoe has yet to drop.  Roseanne – the show has yet to deal with the reality of Roseanne-the actress.  There is also the discrepancy between the version of #Trumpism she portrays, and the reality of #Trumpism the rest of us live.  Beyond the white-working class, there are many more of us who are harmed, daily, by #Trump’s message. There are many of us whose children are at greater risk, whose sensibilities have been insulted and assaulted, who feel displaced by a nation and by people we were learning to trust and embrace.  At the risk of reminding my Republican friends of another failing that got us to this point, I am hesitant to use a well-worn phrase that fits, but I will.  Hold on to your hats:  You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.  Let’s wait to see where the show takes us before screaming “Victory!”.

My Republican friends, you may have to hold on to those premiere episode ratings.   Trumpism and reality will soon set in and if there is anything we have learned in our recent experience it is this,  that everything Trunp touches eventually becomes a rousing dumpster fire.  I expect the same outcome, here.

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March For Our Lives: Who ARE these kids?

 

MFOL SignWhile receiving overwhelmingly positive attention for their work in rallying teens nationwide to combat gun violence, the #Parkland teens are also the targets of random cranks and critics.  The silliest charge leveled against them is that they couldn’t possibly  comport themselves in the manner in which they have without coaching from liberal operatives.  What a sad way to devalue and dismiss America’s youth.

Who are these teens?

These are the same people whose academic standards have been set higher than almost any generation before it.

This generation has had to defend itself against exploitation from adults (some of whom run for office and support other predators who run for office).  Prior generations suffered in silence.  This generation no longer has to be silent, but still struggles to be believed. They have learned to find their voices, here, too.

This generation has fought to own their identities, values, and bodies – yet another fight which has taught them to find their voices.

This is the group of young people who communicate with their global peers on twitter, instagram, xbox, playstation, and a host of formats that most of us have not yet heard of or may ever know.  They communicate with global peers who are shocked at the levels of accepted gun violence directed at children and teens in America. They communicate with global peers, none of whom have ever had to practice “active shooter” safety drills in school.

They are the people who have been treated as acceptable collateral damage in our glorification of gun culture over the defense and care of our children.  They dare to refuse to become collateral damage.

At times by intent, often by sheer dumb luck, these are the young people we have created.  Instead of criticizing them, we should be grateful that they are our current justice leaders and future social and elected leaders.  I am confident in the bright future of this nation in the hands of the following leaders (and many others whose names and faces we still don’t know):

At age ll, Naomi Wadler is representing the girls whose stories don’t make the evening news:

 

“You can hear people in power shaking in their boots”

 

“… five years ago, this happened… five years ago and no change has come…”

 

“Bullets do not discriminate, so why should we?”

 

“We need to arm our teachers, with pencils, pens, paper, and the money they need to support their families and support themselves, before they can support the future…”

 

“Keep Screaming at your congressmen…”

 

“I learned to duck bullets before I learned to read:”

 

“6 minutes, 20 seconds….. fight for your life before it’s someone else’s job”

 

Jennifer Hudson voices the hope – and hard work- of this movement”

 

Support from Malala:

Trump’s extramarital affair payments are problematic because…

A – they are indicative of a lack of moral character that proves to the evangelical movement that he should not be permitted to serve in the nation’s highest office, nor as a role model for youth?

Doubtful.  They are no longer worried about “what to tell the children” as they claimed to be with Bill Clinton.  They are no longer worried that their children will ask them uncomfortable question about sex and sexuality as it relates to marriage.  Good luck in those discussions about Porn, Playboy, and the office of the Presidency,  evangelicals,  To be fair, I have a sneaking suspicion that you are not as “in the dark” on these discussions as some think.

B –  the payments may be tied to campaign law violations that could result in criminal charges against #Trump and members of his team?

Doubtful.  Even if those reports are to be believed,  Team Trump has never been held accountable by the cowardly #GOP majority – which would most assuredly fight any charges leveled against the man who signs their bills, no matter how awful those bills are for American families and workers. #GOPTaxScam.

C – the payments show his disregard for women and that he has no problem trying to silence women no matter his own complicity?

Doubtful.  I find it odd that a man who brags about his sexual prowess works to silence the women reportedly involved.

 

His base isn’t concerned about how he treats the women with whom he had affairs, nor the woman on whom he cheated.  If there are no tears for Melania, from the hypocritical right wing, fhe women Trump is alleged to have strong-armed into silence don’t stand a chance.

D – the payments show us just how little integrity and honesty he has?

Here is where I place my money.  Donald Trump stood before the American public, looked voters in the eye,  and lied about knowing nearly every woman who made a claim against him.  He positioned himself as a happily married man, of wealth, who is being extorted by liars and gold digging “tramps”.  He stood before the American public and defamed women whose only real “crime” was telling the truth about former relationships with a man whose loyalty to others is in short supply.

Voters have often assumed that a person who couldn’t be loyal to the people who loved  them most, couldn’t be trusted to care about the rest of us.  If you lie to a spouse, you will lie to anyone, the theory goes.  What do you make a of a person who is disloyal, who lies about it, who allows the public to believe that everyone who steps up to admit their role in an affair is lying?

Hopefully?  That individual will be remembered as a stain on history and a one-termer.

How troubling is this pattern of the use, discarding, denying and defaming of women?  None of us knows, just yet, but we will begin to find out on #StormySunday, as Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) tells part of her story on Anderson Cooper this Sunday on CBS’ 60 minutes.

Cambridge Analytica and Kompromat

TrumpCan we just stop ignoring the fact that human trafficking is a HUGE issue as part of the Channel 4 News expose on Cambridge Analytica?  Is it not equally as bad as the misuse of data belonging to 50 million people in this country?   How ironic that people who manage data seemingly didn’t investigate the client with whom they met to discuss ways of discrediting political rivals.  That new client was a Channel 4 undercover reporter.  Cambridge Analytica CEO, Alexander Nix, is recorded offering the new client the “service” of sending Ukrainian sex workers to rivals’ rooms to discredit the rival.  SEX WORKERS!  In most parts of the world, that sort of offer is referred to as engaging in sex trafficking – and yet the offer is barely mentioned.

How are the sex workers be hired?  What is the history of the exploitation of these women – are they in the work by choice or by force?  Who will be paid for their labor?  Do they receive direct payment or will a manager/pimp/human trafficker receive that payment on their behalf?  The introduction of the world “Kompromat” to the American English has, I’m afraid, lessened the impact of the reality of what the word means and its potential for harm to the worker on the more dehumanizing end of the bargain.  It is doubtful that we are talking about women (and men) who  decided to enter the sex trade of their own accord.  Self-selecting the field still holds risks and the potential for dehumanization, but individuals at least own their labor and have the right, and the ability, to decline work.

Have we accepted the practice of the exploitation of women for power as standard and, therefore, acceptable or predictable?  We know it is historical, but isn’t it time for that history to end?   Are we to conclude that individuals who hire sex workers to compromise others are simply business people, or political figures, who are using a means to reach an end?  What happens to those sex workers when the job is finished?  Are they compromised in a way that puts their lives at risk?  Even when the  target is exposed, he is rarely placed in a life-threatening situation, does the risk increase for the sex worker?

IF concern for the women who are trafficked as part of these seedy plots is, sadly, not enough, let’s really make it “sexy”.

— Did Team Trump receive the same offer as other potential new clients? When, and who would have been the identified targets of such offers?

— If the link between CA and #Trump extends as far back as is now alleged, was #Trump preparing the public for a CA hit on #TedCruz after Trump-friendly rags claimed that Cruz had a history of hiring sex workers?

—  Ted Cruz was also a client of CA, was the same Kompromat offer made to him regarding primary rivals?  How could he not know that CA operated this way?

— How could Kushner, Trump, Trump Jr., Conway, Bannon, Manafort, and the rest of the rogue’s gallery of individuals tightly connected to CA not know that this was part of the “services” the organization provided?

— What will be the reaction of an Evangelical movement that has made peace with #Trump’s infidelities and ill treatment of women?  They have already made peace with his relationship with porn star, Stephanie Clifford (#StormyDaniels).  Will they make peace with his relationship with a company that brags about trafficking women as a matter of routine?   A man with a “difficult” history with women hires a company with a “difficult” history with women.  How much more of their integrity are Evangelicals willing to sacrifice to defend this?

And now for the less “sexy” part:  Why are we not more concerned that trafficking and politics seem to go hand-in-hand?  Somewhere out there, at any given moment, human traffickers are profiting in ways we never expected, but that directly and indirectly touch our lives.  They are profiting by making us queasy and distrustful of any politician caught up in one of these plots.  They may even be profiting by putting elected officials in high offices, blackmailing them into making decisions favorable to traffickers, their bosses, their colleagues – all at our expense, in order to cover their secrets.

I am hoping that the U.S. Congress (read as: The Democrats), or some other international governing body, will research Nix’s offer.  If they find that there is even one scintilla of evidence pointing to this as a routine past practice, CA should be, in my opinion, charged with human trafficking in an international criminal court.

How the GOP scapegoats Donald Trump for the attacks in Charlottesville

I was raised in a family whose origins began in the southern United States, like many other African-American families.  Like so many others, my family survived the pre-civil rights south.  Some part of that survival took careful planning. Some of it was pure luck.  I share that to help you understand why this week has been an emotional black hole for me, from the beginning of the racist attacks in Charlottesville to the time it has taken me to write these words.  Each day the exhaustion is compounded by the battle over whether the appropriate sentiments of disgust and despair have been uttered by Donald Trump.  It is an important question, but is it the only question we should focus on during this critical time?

While we focus on #Trump’s weak assessment of the attacks in Charlottesville, and an astounding double reversal of blame, which effectively supports white nationalists, there are other words I hear that speak louder to me than Trump’s.  I still hold my uncles’ stories in my head, told with laughter, lived in pain.  I remember the story of the uncle who crossed a pasture, running to avoid an angry bull, taking the dangerous run to get home before dark. He feared the sundown laws more than he feared the bull.  I was too young to realize the absurdity of laughing that risking his life in that moment saved him from a worse fate.  I remember the discussions about the stores my light-complexion mother could safely enter, while her darker-complexion brothers had to wait outside. I think about the legacy of Emmett Till and thank God that my uncles weren’t falsely accused of speaking to white women while they waited.  As sad as their stories of terror and discrimination were, I realize that their stories could have been worse, told by my mother – remembering brothers no longer alive to share their own testimonies.

Shortly after the Charlottesville attacks began, the hashtag #ThisIsNotUS began trending.  The hashtag is interesting in its effect as much as its viral status.  The tag created a sense of open expression for those who believe that we are a better nation than the events on display in Charlottesville – when white pseudo-supremacists attacked a diverse group of Americans.  The hashtag opened expression for persons of color whose lived experiences remind us that #ThisIsTheUsYouDidntKnowStillExisted, sadly.  To a lesser extent than in the past? Certainly, but the virulent strains of racism which negatively affect the lives of people of color have only been modified in terms of degree of existence, barely modified in terms of degree of impact (more on that, another time).  The hashtag has also opened expression for alt-right pseudo-supremacists to try to defend themselves against their heinous acts, and for conservatives trying to defend their party by distancing themselves from the pseudo-supremacists.`

Not that they would care, but I have my own list of #GOP heroes I have placed on  #TheResistance honor roll.  They are GOPers who routinely  stand up to Trump without fear, and without hesitation.  Some are individuals who are granted public forums to discuss their concerns, others are social media heroes.  I am disheartened by the fact that not one of them seems to understand that the violence in Charlottesville is a problem because it is directly and indirectly indicative of what the #GOP has become over time, and not in the moments after Donald J. Trump took office.  The #GOP’s decades long rhetoric about the poor and about minority groups was the powder keg.  #Trump and his alt-right goons have only served as the proverbial lit match.

For decades the republican party traded progress for power.  Wrapped in what the #GOP has claimed as “party policy” is a continuous stream of coded attacks against citizens of color devised to achieve the party’s end goals. Whether the codes were intentional or unintentional is irrelevant, given the outcome.  Those attacks have created a sense of aggrievement in White Americans who were led to believe that “liberal policies” went too far in helping  the poor and persons of color – often conflated as one in the same. The “unwarranted” support for the poor, and for minorities, robbed White voters and their communities of opportunity, the Republican party line implied, when not directly stated.

White-voter-aggrievement appears to have more to do with Republican rhetoric than liberal policy or liberal actions focused on minority communities:

Angry southern Democrats who felt betrayed by the party’s movement toward civil rights were taken in by the Republican party in the 1950s and on, most especially after the 1964 civil rights act.  The #GOP has been playing to the racial resentment Southern Whites have felt since the act was passed, including failing to condemn Atwater’s southern strategy.  The “Party of Lincoln” welcomed the fleeing Dixiecrats, trading the support of loyal African-American voters. What values and beliefs did the Republican party believe the Dixiecrats would bring to the fold?  Which voters did they think the anti-integration politicians would bring with them?

Reagan and Dole are credited for openly standing up to the racist elements of their party and boldly stating that there is no room in the Republican party for bigots, for people who espouse values that are antithetical to American values.  Dole, in particular, pointed to the exits during his convention speech and unequivocally asked racists to make use of them.  They deserve credit for standing up.  The bigger question is why the statements had to be made in the first place.  What is it about the Republican party that causes the periodic need for tamping down openly divisive and hateful rhetoric from members of the party?  What is it about Republican policy and ideology that continues to draw those individuals to it?

Remember that Reagan’s push back against racists is also countered against his “welfare queen” analogy.  Who was she? ” She used 80 names, 30 addresses, 15 telephone numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security, veterans’ benefits for four nonexistent deceased veteran husbands, as well as welfare. Her tax-free cash income alone has been running $150,000 a year.”, according to Reagan, as he explained the need for welfare reform. She was racialized, of course.  To the public, she was the African-American woman living multiple generations on welfare.  She was unwilling (more than unable) to care for herself and the numerous children she continued creating – children raised without fathers in the household  She was a burden on the hardworking tax paying citizens of this nation.  On one hand, Reagan told the party to reject racism and open displays of hostility toward minorities.  On the other hand?

Similar examples are available in every prior and successive Republican administration.   Republican politicians continue to serve as grand marshals of the aggrievement parade by telling some new version of the welfare queen story, without adding the following:

  • Most people who are impoverished are working – they are not collecting payments, sitting on their asses, happy to live their lives on welfare.  They periodically need support to help their families survive tough economic times  until they can land on their feet, again. Staying out of poverty is hard, but individuals who are impoverished keep fighting.
  • Welfare does not make one “rich” by any comparative American standard.  There is no incentive to stay impoverished.
  • Persons of color are disproportionately poor, but are not the only poor who receive welfare benefits.  Many of the aggrieved have most likely received support, or live in places with relatively few minority status individuals, and still have high levels of need and support.
  • People living in those “liberal places” that support “liberal policies”, such as those living on the east and west coasts, are also strong contributors in terms of paid tax dollars.  They often pay more in taxes than they receive by way of federal services and support.  Those who attack liberal policies and programs often live in places that receive more in federal support than they pay in taxes.
Per Capita Spending Taxes
Source: John Tierney, The Atlantic Monthly , May 2014

 

Can you be against the notion of welfare without being racist? Sure. I have yet to hear anti-welfare rhetoric that is not also racist, stereotypic, and just plain hateful.

How else have Republicans traditionally contributed to rhetoric meant to amass votes, despite the likely outcome of heightening division?

Trending job loss in fields such as coal mining were tied to liberal policies favoring “the other”, as well as extreme liberal environmentalism.  Instead of acknowledging the role of automation meant to increase productivity and profit, liberals – who were heavily focused on minority communities, were to blame. Instead of acknowledging the reduced need for coal because of more efficient resources such as natural gas, liberals were to blame.

Books such as “Hillbilly Elegy” were embraced by the media as helping all of America understand the plight of White American Trump voters, whose woes were economic (by implication) and not racial.  I believe that the author J.D. Vance is honest in his assessment.  I believe that commentators such as Krystal Ball and politicians such as Bernie Sanders, believe this.  The wholesale dismissal of the role of race, however, is something I find deeply troubling.  Individuals in those regions of the country lost coal producing, and other manufacturing jobs, for the reasons identified above, among others, and because they had them in the first place – something no one points out when the attacks on liberals, liberal policies and “the other” begins.

Were more minorities hired in those positions they, too, would experience high degrees of unemployment in those same regions of the country.  Republican politicians routinely imply that White voters were intentionally left behind by liberals who only cared about identity politics.  Political pundits and some progressive politicians have claimed the same.  It is odd that these same voters are represented by red state politicians who failed to see the tide turning, and failed to help create other employment opportunities.  Instead, Republican pols have used identity politics, as well, in coded, implicit, and often racist ways.

Minority status individuals are often disproportionately represented in under- and unemployed communities and they were not, largely, charmed by #Trump’s rhetoric. They were not largely chanting “Build that Wall”, or engaging in racist/sexist chants during political rallies.  Trump’s appeal is not primarily  economic, in my opinion, given the average income of Trump supporters and the economic diversity in his alt-right crowds.  It is a point that I don’t believe was lost on the #GOP and the #RNC in the race to trade progress for power.

This group is aggrieved and feeling as if they are under attack because they have been told by the republican officials who represent them that they SHOULD feel aggrieved and that they ARE under attack, by liberals, liberal policies, by minority communities who are coming to take what is theirs – no other explanation needed as the truth is not politically expedient.

Other moves in the republican trade of progress for power?  Most are self-explanatory:

Republican officials who promoted racist, stereotypic, policy suggestions that would have done little to reduce the effects of poverty on minority households.  Who could forget Newt Gingrich’s proposal that janitors in schools be fired and that poor teens take their places in cleaning schools?

“This is something that no liberal wants to deal with,” Gingrich said. “Core policies of protecting unionization and bureaucratization against children in the poorest neighborhoods, crippling them by putting them in schools that fail has done more to create income inequality in the United States than any other single policy. ..

Note that he referenced “neighborhoods” and not “rural communities”.  I guess internships with local businesses and jobs that would allow teens to save for college would have been a bit much for the kids in those “neighborhoods”.  Kill the wage-protecting unions and place teens in those positions. (Not)Brilliant?

Republicans failed to stand up to racist attacks against President Barack Obama.  They didn’t stand up to the noose-hangers, the birthers, those who led the birthers, the racist joke tellers, and a host of others who were either voters or elected Republican officials who demeaned President Obama for eight years, using an obviously racist lie.  The aggrieved lived eight years believing that an interloper had taken control of the federal government and created policies and programs that disadvantaged them… such as Obamacare.  Their elected pols neglected to tell them that Obamacare also benefits rural (largely White) communities, the same communities that are now finding it difficult to continue without Obamacare.

Romney sought support from the chief birther, Donald Trump, semi-legitimizing Trump, despite his obvious racist birther movement.  The party should have cut ties with Romney when that happened.

Birtherism is not the only racist language Republicans are comfortable using.  Who can forget the “Plantation talk” which permeates the party, even recently in the Osoff-Handel race?  The notion of being on a voter plantation apparently does not extend to White voters who reliably vote republican each year – even in the reddest red states where education attainment is low, on average, incomes are low, health care outcomes are dismal, and teen pregnancy rates are high.  If there is a plantation that should be avoided… Well…

Trump entering the race referring to Mexican immigrants as rapists, murders, and drug dealers, despite the fact that the data tells us just the opposite – that crime rates are below the national average in immigrant communities.  Instead of cutting him off at the knees, Republican politicians traded progress for power, indulging him, complimenting him, hoping to curry favor with his largely uncritical voting base… until it was too late and they realized that he would become their nominee.  Never let it be said that the Republican party learns from its mistakes.  They doubled down their support during the general election, despite Trump courting the “frog-loving alt-right” and his increasingly erratic behavior.

Paul Ryan recently promoted “building that wall”, while on horseback at the border.  The man who once said that Trump’s language was indeed racist, joined him in advocating building a wall against people who have done little to harm us.  The Wall is Trump’s signature promise based on a false racist claim.  Well done, Speaker Ryan.  Another epic failure.

I am disheartened when I hear Republicans champion their party and its heroes as anti-racist, and fault Trump for everything that is happening now.  Why?  For me, it is the surest sign of a party that is unable and/or unwilling to change.  It is a party looking for a scapegoat and #Trump is as good as any, for now.  For people of color, it is a temporary reprieve, since we are usually the party’s scapegoat.  As stated earlier, Trump is the lit match but that match would burn itself out, if not for the powder keg the Republican party provided.  This was a partnership, an ugly, hurtful partnership – a long time in the making.

Will Charlottesville bring about a real change in the Republican party? I would like to think so, but for now, I doubt it.

 

Fear the Walking Dead – I’m out, friends

FTWD Logo.pngThe die is cast!  What began as a story about a dysfunctional blended family struggling to survive the undead apocalypse has become the story of the survival of the Clark family. The Manawa family (Liza, Chris, and now Travis) are gone.  I am all for writers having the courage to take on major character deaths and shocking fans with the unexpected.  Travis’ death, I fear, represents so much more than that.  Travis’ death feels as if it was the moment #FearTheWalkingDead  jumped the shark, an entire herd of sharks, and fell short. There are promises that we will  learn the identity of the gunman taking Travis’ life (best guess: Ofelia).  Worrying about “the reveal” plot point falls short of the implications or the loss of this particular character.

What I have always found interesting about the blended family is that that Manawa side often softened and humanized the Clark side.  I have never been a fan of the Clark family, though saw that there was a necessary use for them.  They were hard, unhappy, and narcissistic – made for survival in the new world.  Alicia, the perennial understudy in her own life, was the most sympathetic and even she was too caught up in her own feelings.  No scene exemplified Alicia’s inability to get out of her own head, and her own pain, than those of her disclosing identifying  information to a voice over the radio.  The voice belonged to a young man she didn’t know, but someone she reached out to in her loneliness and in the weariness of dealing with the constant drama between her mother and brother. He made her feel special and wanted.   Her unreported disclosures nearly cost all of the survivors their lives as they first had to fight off  her radio-love’s pirate crew, and again as they risked their lives, on Madison’s insistence, to rescue her from the hijacking gang.

Manawa.pngIt was easy for viewers with our own moody, sullen, emotional teens at home to immediately recognize how well-acted the character was – but (pre-Chris) we tuned her out for the sake of our own survival. Post-apocalypse, Chris appeared to be there to mirror Alicia’s teen angst and to help us see her as more insecure than narcissistic and angry.  Chris’ later rage at her once again softened and humanized her, as a survivor. The girl with the physically present, emotionally absent, mother learned to stand up for herself. Alicia later transformed from a self-focused, obnoxious, teen to a young woman whose wisdom was hard won.  She was again alone as the rest of her clan never changed.  My interest in Alicia’s transformation increased as my interest in Maddie and Nick decreased exponentially.  Scenes with Maddie and Nick became fast-forward material.  Nick, equally as self-indulgent as his much younger, teen, sister, never found an appropriate coping strategy.  He identified with the dead because he was one of them, in some ways. He was never fully socially connected to, or emotionally bonded with, those around him.  He was a scavenger, a survivor, and saving himself was his first priority, even if he hurt others to do it.

Maddie is worse.  On the surface she seems connected.  In reality her connections are always about her needs. ]Nick’s addiction was at least, in part, explained by his worldview of always being alone and never wanting to deal with his life (as we learned in season 2).  We have no real history for Maddie other than hints of a difficult childhood. We are left with a woman whose entire life centers around her needs, her desires – all others be damned.  She is unable to parent Nick, given her LIza Chis.pngneed to control him.  She is unable to parent Alicia, given her need to control Nick. She is unable to be a true partner to Travis, given her focus on her relationship with her son. She is unable to understand Chris’ inability to trust or love her, given the fact that her relationship with Travis is all about her son and not about encouraging Travis’ relationship with his own son.  When Chris needed her most, Maddie wasn’t there for him.  The rationale was supposed to be clear.  She had to protect her children, most especially Alicia, against an emotionally and psychologically wounded Chris.  The trouble with that argument is that we’ve seen her put Alicia’s life at risk to save Nick, time and again, no matter how bad things were or how great the risk was to everyone else. Nick had to be saved no matter who had to be sacrificed to make that happen.  That brings us back to Travis.

Nick made a choice.  He chose a new family, a new group, and abandoned his mother and sister in Mexico, during one of the most dangerous situations the family had yet faced.  He was not concerned about whether they lived or died.  He was finally happy while away from them  For Nick, Madison’s greatest sin was that by destroying the Abigail estate, she had once again taken from him his place in the world.  His departure gave the mother and daughter time to begin to heal.  Travis’ own departure from the dysfunction of the Clark family, gave him the opportunity to put his son before Nick and the Clarks, for once.  Travis finally realized how deeply affected his son had been by Liza’s death.  Prior to Mexico and the Abigail estate, Travis’ focus on tracking Nick from drug den to repeated rehab stints made it almost impossible for him to really know Chris and what he needed.  Think about how long it took him to realize that his motherless son not only lost the one person who always put him first, but he then lost his home, and everything else that gave him a sense of purpose and place in the world.  By the time he finally made the choice to put Chris first, it was too late.

Travis Chris 2.pngChris’ death precipitated the return to normal we’d come to expect from Travis.  His role, for as long as the show has aired, was to “contain” Madison, to protect her from her worst impulses and to humanize her as merely a mother fighting to save her son – even when she killed others, destroyed communities, and put her other loved ones at risk to make that happen.  There was Travis, the voice of reason – even in deep stages of grief, taking Madison’s absurd and reckless impulses and giving them a moderating shape and form.  They were free and clear of the hotel community.  Travis, Alicia, and Maddie had the chance to start over and move forward.  We knew it would never be enough for Maddie, though it was clear that a new start was what Alicia and Travis needed. Travis, who was still grieving the loss of his son, would again have to risk his life to help save Madison’s son.  Alicia would also have to go along for the ride. The season premiere opens to the surviving members of the Clark-Manawa family being held captive.  Madison’s plans to find Nick led to yet another risky capture. In the end, Madison, Nick and Alicia barely made it out alive.  Travis?  Dies.  The bullet that takes his life is a reminder that not following Madison’s hare-brained search for Nick might have led to Travis being anywhere but on the helicopter, taking sniper fire.

Travis Chris 3

I am out, dead fans.  I have no doubt that Alicia will become the new Travis, in some ways. Her role will be to soften Madison and try to tamp down her reckless tendencies.  Alicia will have to sacrifice herself for her mother, for Nick and Luciana, for the love of anything that will make her whole.  I hope I am wrong, but I don’t plan to stick around and watch it happen. I am not channeling my inner Alicia 1.0, emotional and lost in my own feelings.  I am a day one Walking Dead/Fear the Walking Dead fan and have come to accept difficult losses.  Travis’ loss isn’t just about the loss of a major character, it is the figurative loss of the soul of the show.  Hopefully the writers will find it, again, but until then…I’m out.  I am counting on you continuing #FTWD fans to keep me updated.

 

How Putin just destroyed Trump’s argument for declassifying info among “friends”.

Are we SURE Putin is a Trump pal?  Unlike Donald Trump, I firmly believe all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies that state in the affirmative that Putin interfered in the U.S. election with the goal of helping Trump win.  Unlike Donald Trump, I also believe the same agencies that agree that Putin is not, and will not be, a U.S. ally. as he continues to work against U.S. interests in the world  There are times when I am not even sure he is a #Trump ally.  If Putin is the master tactician he is reported to be, you have to wonder about his offer to make available the recordings made in the Oval Office during the visit with Lavrov and Kislyak.  The timing is especially curious since he has admitted to declassifying sensitive information.  The effect of this offer is even more interesting, to me.   It’s a little sloppy, don’t you think?  According to ABCNews

Russia’s state-run TASS agency confirmed that Putin offered to release a transcript of the talks between Trump and the Russian envoy during their May 10 meeting at the White House if members of Congress ask.

 

The tapes would be unedited, I’m sure.  What is Russian for “wink”?  There are bigger issues than whether or not the tapes are unedited.  The offer, on the surface, appears to be an attempt to help Trump,  but does it really do that?  There are three critical concerns that should be raised by this offer:

1 – The offer is a reminder that Putin pulled Trump’s strings and as a result the White House complied with Putin’s request and disallowed the U.S. press to be present.  That left state-run Russian media to record. Was TASS granted full permission to record?  Who granted that permission?  Who else knew this was happening?  Were there dissenting voices? What forms of journalism were approved? Print? Audio? Video? To date it has appeared that print photography was the only approved media access.  Surprise?

2 – Trump was shamefully unaware of the gravity of meeting in front of the Russian press without the protection of the American press.  Were there other protocols that may have been ignored.  Is it routine to check equipment before and after visits?  If so, was this done?  Who physically carried TASS media equipment?  DId TASS carry and record as they moved through the White House?  Would they have been able to record if the US media was present?  Trump is far less friendly with American media than he is with Russian media.  If the U.S. media was present, I would venture a guess to say that no one would have been granted permission to record the sessions – again, assuming TASS was granted permission and didn’t simply record without the administration’s knowledge.

Imagine how different the outcome would have been if U.S. media would have been present.  Would an American journalist have detected the various forms of information gathering taking place in the Oval Office?

3 – This recording means that instead of the strategic meeting on terrorism the White House and surrogates claimed it to be, Trump spoke openly of material so sensitive that members of Congress and other government employees, including intelligence offers, did not have access to it.  Why would a strategic meeting about terrorism take place under the watchful eyes and listening ears of TASS?  Even if you buy Trump’s argument that he declassified the information to support his (not our) allies, why would it take place in such an open forum?  He would never hold a strategic meeting in front of the American meeting, for good reason.  Putin’s offer has made it clear that this was simple carelessness on #Trump’s part.  Nothing less and, hopefully, nothing more.

With friends like Putin… as the saying goes.  Woe is Trump when Putin decides he is expendable.  What other recordings are waiting to be released?