Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 21, 2017

I went to D.C. this weekend to participate in the women's march and to see family. I am fully aware that marching is barely tougher than clicking send, and that all the human hours (and fossil fuels) spent on getting 500,000 plus 600,000 to a million people to the mall would have been better spent registering voters and getting anti-gerrymandering measures on the ballot in 2018 (and this is going to happen, including in Utah). I am sure Mom would have said, "Fine, but will they vote in the midterm elections?" But I do happen to strongly believe that improving women's rights around the world is not only moral on its own terms but would also help solve a whole host of other problems, and I want to be able to tell people from the porch of the nursing home some day that I participated in this historic statement against the misogynist-in-chief. And hey, it was a week off in the race schedule. J gave up a powder day in Park City to march in PC. Now that's real dedication.

We started behind the Capitol, near the inaugural stage. Apparently Congresspersons make a lot of trash.

Here's an obvious statement: there were a lot of people there (** see the articles at the end of this entry). During the gathering rumors flew around that the march itself had been cancelled due to excess crowds, which proved to be untrue, but there ended up really being not one march but several because the massive crowds had to be dispersed along several streets. It's hard for ground level snapshots to capture just how huge the crowds were.

It was great to march with my aunt and uncle, who made the immediate observation upon arriving that, unlike 1960s marches of their youth, all ages participated in huge numbers on this day. I think this is Ellen and Paul's first cameo on NPLH. 

Of course it was all about the signs. Here are some of my favorites. The comb-over one only scratches the surface in the comb-over genre.

Of course these signs only scratch the surface. This link offers a great compilation from around the country.

The vibe after the march was even better. I walked about 3 miles north from Judiciary Square almost to the Georgia Avenue Metro stop just soaking in what was a very peaceful and strangely optimistic vibe (maybe everyone knew it's a lot easier to be in the opposition than to govern ...). The Lutheran Church in Logan Circle was pretty much a party with a band and refreshments, and everyone was sharing their phone power cords at Dolcezza Espresso. Because modern revolutionaries need exquisite coffee and fully charged phones.

Speaking of that last photo, I'm actually getting excited about how much Trump is lying baldfacedly (sp?). All presidents dissemble, obscure, and lie, but he doesn't seem to understand that some of us still don't live in a post-factual America, and that when you surreally claim that your inaugural crowds were the biggest ever, you're going to be fact-checked. Sorry Trump, you can't brand reality. But here's the thing: obvious lies are one thing, but going forward, the larger problem is going to remain the bizarrely different interpretation that the Fox News set digests on a daily basis -- interpretations that don't quite rise to the level of lying but are incredibly skewed. When I got home last night, I was curious to see how CNN and FOX diverged on the matter of Trump's lies about his crowds. The two pieces below, from the headlines on down, are a perfect encapsulation of how Americans live in two different worlds, and I think I'll use it in class some time (and by the way, I always tell my students that most Americans are neither liberal nor conservative activists; most Americans are pharmacists in Akron. But, that said, we really do have two Americas right now. Just as it's hard to imagine an Idaho rancher strolling into his cafe and professing his love for Hillary, it's almost comical to think of how few people at Midlands Beer Hall last night on Georgia Avenue (fantastic by the way!) would ever consider supporting the groper-in-chief. But I digress ...): 

I'm no great fan of CNN right now, but at least this piece it doesn't fall into the trap of false equivalency that the network often does. At least it least tries to establish the facts and does a bit of a research, like checking the 2013 Metro data. Then compare to the article. 

White House press secretary attacks media for accurately reporting inauguration crowds

"That's what you guys should be writing and covering," new White House press secretary Sean Spicer angrily lectured reporters on Saturday during his first remarks from the podium of the press briefing room.

He was referring to the delay in Senate confirmation for President Donald Trump's pick to lead the CIA, Congressman Mike Pompeo, but the comment came after a long digression about how many people had shown up to watch Trump be sworn in as president.

"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," Spicer said, contradicting all available data.

Aerial photos have indicated that former president Barack Obama's first inauguration attracted a much larger crowd. Nielsen ratings show that Obama also had a bigger television audience.
Spicer said, without any evidence, that some photos were "intentionally framed" to downplay Trump's crowd.

He also expressed objections to specific Twitter posts from journalists. And he said, "we're going to hold the press accountable," partly by reaching the public through social networking sites.
His statement included several specific misstatements of fact in addition to the overarching one.
"This is the first time in our nation's history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall," Spicer said, claiming that this "had the effect of highlighting areas people were not standing whereas in years past the grass eliminated this visual."

In fact, coverings were used for Obama's second inauguration in 2013.

"This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past," Spicer said.

In fact, a United States Secret Service spokesperson told CNN, no magnetometers were used on the Mall.

And Spicer said, "We know that 420,000 people used the D.C, Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 for president Obama's last inaugural." Spicer's number for ridership on Friday was actually low -- the correct number, according to Metro itself, was 570,557. But there were actually 782,000 trips taken for Obama's second inaugural in 2013.

Spicer, at times almost yelling while reading a prepared statement, took no questions. CNNMoney called his cell phone a few minutes later; he did not answer.

Some longtime White House correspondents were stunned by the tirade.

Glenn Thrush of The New York Times wrote on Twitter, "Jaw meet floor."
"I've run out of adjectives," wrote Chuck Todd, the moderator of NBC's "Meet the Press."

Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post said Spicer's assertion about "what you guys should be writing" was "chilling."

Reactions were overwhelmingly negative, and not just from journalists.

Ari Fleischer, who had the same job as Spicer during the George W. Bush administration, tweeted, "This is called a statement you're told to make by the President. And you know the President is watching."

And Brian Fallon, who was in line to become press secretary if Hillary Clinton had won, wrote,

"Sean Spicer lacks the guts or integrity to refuse orders to go out and lie. He is a failure in this job on his first full day."

Conservative commentator Bill Kristol said "it is embarrassing, as an American, to watch this briefing by Sean Spicer from the podium at the White House. Not the RNC. The White House."
The White House alerted the press corps to Spicer's statement more than an hour ahead of time.
The CNN television network made a choice not to broadcast the Spicer statement live. Instead, the statement was monitored and then reported on after the fact.

Former Democratic congressman Steve Israel, who recently joined CNN as a commentator, said, "This isn't a petty attack on the press. It's a calculated attempt to delegitimize any questioning of @realDonaldTrump by a free press."

Spicer's statement came two hours after Trump spoke at CIA headquarters and described his "running war with the media." Trump spent several minutes of that speech complaining about news coverage.
In his remarks, Spicer suggested Trump would bypass traditional media outlets he believes are unfairly reporting on his presidency.

"The American people deserve better, and so long as he serves as the messenger for this incredible movement, he will take his message directly to the American people, where his focus will always be," Spicer said.

Spicer was joined in the Brady Press Briefing Room by members of his new White House press and communications staff, who are still moving into their offices and learning the way around the West Wing.

He tellingly led off his short statement with his tirade against the media, leaving announcements about phone calls with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, and announcing that Trump would meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May, to the end.

During those announcements, Spicer incorrectly referred to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto as "prime minister."
-- CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed reporting.

And here's the Fox piece, which makes no attempt to corroborate the claim that “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe" and assumes only the perspective of Spicer. BTW, this article, posted last night, just took a lot of searching to find. My sense is that they bury their obvious crap a day after the fact deep into their webpage. Again, this is all just one example, but it's a good one for the time capsule.  

Spicer accuses media of ‘false reporting’ in fiery briefing

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer angrily accused the media Saturday of “false reporting” on the inauguration as part of what he called a “shameful” attempt to minimize enthusiasm for President Trump, beginning his tenure as the administration’s top spokesman on a combative note.

Spicer summoned the press to the briefing room at the end of Trump’s first full day in office to specifically condemn two pieces of reporting – a reporter’s erroneous claim, since retracted, that an MLK bust was removed from the Oval Office; and photos appearing to show light crowds at Friday’s inauguration.

Spicer called the former claim, made on Twitter, “irresponsible and reckless.”

He went on to say inauguration photos were framed to minimize their “enormous” support on the National Mall, while suggesting the reason crowds looked smaller was because floor covering used to protect the grass highlighted where people weren’t standing – and fences kept supporters from quickly accessing the scene.

Spicer also pushed back on what he called inaccurate crowd estimates, stressing, “No one had numbers,” since the National Park Service, which oversees the National Mall where spectators stand, no longer makes public an official crowd count.

Yet Spicer went on to put out their own estimate based on the capacity of certain spaces stretching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument and declared: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”

Trump made similar comments a couple hours earlier during a visit to the CIA headquarters, where he said reporting low-end crowd numbers was the media’s latest attempt to mistreat him, much like he suggested they did in exaggerating a rift between him and the U.S. intelligence community over Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Spicer also argued Trump visited the CIA without an agency director because Senate Democrats are slowing the confirmation of Kansas GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo.

“That’s what you guys should be covering,” he said, adding Trump got a five-minute standing ovation at the agency’s headquarters.

Sigh. Wish Fox had consulted the images below from the New York Times. 1st is yesterday's march, 2nd is Trump's inaugural, and 3rd is Obama's in 2009. 

Sigh. Luckily there's still a lot of beer in post-factual America, and luckily I still have a variety of friends in DC. On Friday night Cedar and Rachel and I discovered the excellent Red Rye IPA form Mad Fox Brewing, and although the German beers at Midlands Beer Garden are pretty much macro wino beers in Germany, they also have some good ones from local DC breweries like Hellbender and 3 Stars. And yes, there are some advantages of climate change, like outdoor beers in January. 

Later, my population comrade Tom and I we discovered the joys of 3 Stars' Peppercorn Saison. Because revolutionaries need exquisite beer too.

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