How Low Can Bad Videos Go?

I’d like to say it’s been a really bizarre week, but honestly, who am I kidding? It’s been a bizarre 5 months since our new President was sworn in. No one met with the Russians, well maybe they did, they can’t remember, oh you meant THOSE meetings?…the Russians didn’t hack the election, well maybe some Russian patriots did, who knows?…alternative facts…Spicey’s in, Spicey’s out, Spicey’s in the bushes, Spicey’s rolling through Manhattan – oh wait, that Melissa McCarthy doing a skit for SNL. Sorry…Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 7.00.09 PM

And then there was covfefe. Yeah, I don’t even know what else to say about that one. Neither, apparently did Merriam-Webster, those wise and wonderful dictionary folks, who tweeted this out in response that morning. (If you aren’t following M-W on Twitter, now is a great time to start. Their social media manager, Lauren Naturale is hilarious. For that matter, why aren’t you following me, @MrsMike921 on Twitter as well? Just sayin’.)

So moving on.
The thing that really has made an impact on me this week, however, was the story about Kathy Griffin and the poor decision she made when she created a short video depicting a beheaded Trump with a crawl at the bottom of the screen “he had blood coming from his nose, his eyes, his whatever” (or close to that). Since it was posted it was supposed to have been taken down off YouTube, she issued an apology, has been fired from her New Years’ Eve gig with Anderson Cooper at CNN, lost multiple stand up gigs, lost endorsement deals, been harrassed by the Trump family, recieved death threats, and had a visit from the Secret Service. Then today there was a video from a press conference where she stated that the Trump family is ruining her, and they’ve “broken her, and she doesn’t believe she’ll have a career after this”, crying while making her statement.

First a couple of things to level set. I’m no fan of Donald Trump, but I’m also not overly fond of Kathy Griffin either and find her rather annoying and a bit of a bully. Having said that, I’m sure this is a difficult situation for her, and I don’t doubt her sincerity and that she is sorry for having made the video. No one, I repeat, no one, should ever get a death threat, it’s terrifying. As to the rest of it…I’m having trouble being more sympathetic, and here is why.

In her original statement, Griffin said “I crossed the line..I move the line and then I cross it. That’s what I do.” Guess what? If your job description includes “be provocative, push the envelope, push people’s buttons” that sort of thing, then it’s incumbent on you to also be responsible enough to know how far is too far and when to stop. If you don’t know, then for the love of God, get a trusted circle of advisors and bounce ideas off of them when you’re really pushing the edge of the envelope. We’ve all seen stories in the media about threats to past presidents that bought someone a visit from the guys in dark suits with no sense of humor, who talk into lapel pins. Some threats were pretty real, others were vague and non-descript. Internet chatter is monitored to pick up anything that might be a possible risk, guys flying in homemade gyrocopters that land too close to the White House suddenly find themselves with an arrest record. You’d have to have lived under a rock or in Siberia for the last 30 years to not know about these things. Griffin’s statement of “I crossed the line” is just too pat, and quite frankly, is a cop out.  If she gave it any thought at all, perhaps she figured as a celebrity she was exempt from consequences? I personally believe that Griffin simply didn’t think. At. All. Unfortunately for her she’s learning the hard way this is one time when her celebrity status doesn’t matter worth a hill of beans. Do I seriously think she was making a threat against the President? No, of course not, and the Secret Service probably didn’t either, but it’s not their job to guess. It’s their job to investigate, verify, and determine based on facts obtained from interviews.

If I do something in my job that my manager or my company disapproves of, there are consequences. Every year I am expected to review a corporate code of conduct, and sign off on that document indicating that I’ve read it, I understand it and will abide by it. If I don’t live up to it, I am subject to a number of potential forms of discipline  up to and including termination of employment. I can’t misrepresent my company, I can’t accept monetary gifts, I can’t share insider information, etc. I would expect there are similar rules in place for self-employed celebrities when they sign employment contracts with networks to do shows, such as  Griffin did with CNN for the New Years Eve show. While I’ve never seen that type of contract, some quick searching on Google did produce readily available information on morals clauses in contracts for the entertainment industry.  If her contracts had them, then her failure to understand terms and conditions lies squarely on her own shoulders.

I’d be a whole lot more impressed with her if she said “the mistake was mine, I didn’t stop to think. I was stupid and careless and can see how this could have been percieved as a  threat to the president. The Trump family has every right to be angry with me and I’m going to take some time away from my career to reconsider some things. I may or may not be back.” She is both pushing this onto someone else as well as whining about the Trump family bullying her. The former demonstrates the lack of insight on her part, which is unfortunate and the latter, well, that’s kind of “pot, meet kettle”. Bullying is wrong, no two ways about that, and both have done more than their share. I just find it a bit hypocritical that she’s now the one complaining about it.

I’m not saying she doesn’t have a right to push boundaries in her career as a comedianne, or even to cross lines, so before folks jump on their bandwagon I want to make sure I’m clear about that. I just don’t think she should have crossed THIS one.

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King Me?

Many a student has sat in their Civics class in High School, hearing the familiar opening words to our “Declaration of Independence”. It begins “When in the course of human events“. Those words, and the rest that follow, were written in 1776 by Thomas Jefferson, adopted by the Continental Congress and then on July 4, signed by 56 members of the Congress. The youngest was 26, and the oldest was Benjamin Franklin at 70. But beyond the opening sentence and the now familiar “we hold these truths to be self evident,that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness“, how much of the rest does anyone remember? When was the last time you actually read it…digested what it meant…really internalized it? 

That may be due in part to the language of the time, and blogger Leifur Thor has rewritten it in modern language. I’ve linked to his blog so you can see the additional comments if you would like but the document text is below. As I read it, a number of things resonated for me and I saw some frightening parallels. So with all due respect to my friends across the pond, perhaps we all need a reminder of why our founding fathers left England and came to America.

When it becomes necessary to end one political process due to lack of representation, it’s only fair to list the reasons why.

We believe everyone is created equal, and should be afforded the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness as they see it. We believe these rights a fundamental truth, and no government’s right to curtail, now, and forever more.

That to protect these rights, governments are designed by and get their powers from its People. And when any design of government begins to remove their freedoms, it’s the sole responsibility of its People to repair or replace it.

We shouldn’t change government lightly however, for when we do, people suffer. Therefore, it’s important that whatever form of governing process we agree on, we build it well. When however through any actions this governing body we create, seeks to reduce our civil liberties, and our ability to self govern, it’s not only our right, it’s our civic obligation within any real Republic to amend or throw off such governments, and provide a new governing body that supports civil liberties for all, now, and for future generations. To enjoy civil liberties, our participation in maintaining their security lands squarely on us, the People who live under them.

Looking at the King of England’s record, it’s clear England wants total control of our colonies, compromising our liberties. Here are our facts-

He won’t allow us to create our own laws, a fundamental need for things to work here.

He won’t let us pass important laws we need now. He’s got to sign off on them and when he doesn’t we suffer.

He’s refused to let us pass laws affecting large groups of people in our colonies unless they swore allegiance to him even though they’ve had the right to self govern, clearly showing he’s a tyrant.

He requests meetings of our representatives in far away cold, and strange places for the purpose of wearing them down in to submission so they’ll agree with him.

He’s disbanded our leaders whenever we complain about human rights abuses.

By not allowing us to self govern in any capacity, it opens our colonies up for corruption from within as well as from outside.

He fights to control our colony’s population, immigration, ownership of land, and expansion.

He’s made it difficult to practice the law here, wanting himself to be the ultimate judge and jury.

He’s sent over crooks who he calls judges to dispense his will through courts without trial or jury.

He’s created new offices who’s staff beat business down through harassment to enforce his will upon us.

He’s sent the Army to watch over us, when we didn’t need or want them.

He’s done everything to make his army bigger than our system of law, and our ability to carry out justice.

He refuses to acknowledge our own laws, and tells us we have to follow his laws instead.

For breaking up our military so as to make them vulnerable, and controllable.

For protecting any of the British military personnel by mock trial from going to jail for any reason, allowing them operate outside our own laws.

For cutting off our trade with other countries.

For adding taxes without our consent.

For taking away our right to trial by jury in many cases.

For kidnapping our citizens only to be tried and convicted outside our colonies, and our own laws.

For taking us,one of England’s provinces, removing our laws, forcing his own body of laws on us, and expanding it’s boundary and making it an example of rule of law others must follow or else.

For taking away our charters (forms of legislature) that allow us to govern.

For suspending our own laws, and forcing his own system of justice down our throats.

For disowning our government, and for declaring war on us for having the desire to self-govern.

He has over-fished our waters, burnt up our towns, and destroyed the lives of many people within our colonies.

Right this very moment, he’s sending over a large army of mercenaries with no morals to kill and torture everyone now that he’s ruined our laws protecting the common man. If you think we’ve been repressed up to now, expect the worst you can imagine.

He has kidnapped citizens of our colony on the high seas, and turned them in to his own soldiers only to fight their own brothers and sisters here.

He has manipulated people and groups within our colony to fight each other, and wants rule of law similar to those savage Native Americans who live by war destroying everyone under any conditions. (Guerrilla warfare is probably what they’re talking about here since war prior to that had been fought face to face in broad daylight)

With every action above, we’ve petitioned, and been told in return to “suck it up”. By this alone, it’s time to stand up for ourselves as free people, and kick this tyrant out.

We don’t like making waves. And we’ve warned England from time to time we’ll govern ourselves, reminding England the conditions of our own immigration and settling here, yet even when we’ve shown them how it’s bad business for everyone, they just won’t listen. So it’s up to us to fight for our fundamental rights, and anyone who’s opposed to this inside or out of our borders is our enemy, and anyone forging to expand civil liberties, our friend.

So we the representatives of the people living within these unified States of America gathered here under one roof declare to the supreme judge of the world we are free. We declare we are no longer under the British crown’s rule, and all political connections are hereby over. These Free and Independent States of America have full power to each build partnerships, do business, go to war, or negotiate peace. To show we mean what we say, we offer each other our lives, our fortunes, and our integrity.

 

It Ain’t a Game of Concentration

I’ve intentionally not commented on candidates this election cycle for a number of reasons, even though there has been plenty of fodder from one in particular as far as I am concerned. And while I do so now, and realize it’s at my own peril, I’m not trying to start a conversation on the merits of one political position over another, one view over another and I hope I don’t get excoriated online, but I realize I’m opening myself up for exactly that. This isn’t about red or blue, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal. Contrary to popular belief I actually vote the person, not the party, and that’s as much as I will say about it. Having said that….

We have only a short time left until the election, so consider this carefully: A large number of business today follow the hiring model in HR of “past performance is the best predictor of future behavior”. While there may be some debate in it’s value from a psychological profile tool, businesses seem to agree that as an initial evaluation tool at the time of interviewing a candidate, Behavioral Based Interviewing provides more information and context than simply asking “did you do this?” or “can you create that?”

So within the context of past performance being the best, and perhaps only predicter of future behavior that we have, consider the following:

What if you’re the one that Donald Trump is talking to? Not a beauty pageant winner from 20 years ago, but you? You’re in the crowd, front row and he looks at you and singled you out as an example of:

“Fat”. “Pig”. “You really are an eating machine”.

“Unattractive”. “Flat chested, you’ll never be a ’10’ “”Too old, you’re over 40”.

Maybe you and your spouse hit a rough patch, even separated? Maybe it was over another person, or even over something else? You’re in that crowd, and Trump singles you out and says “adulterer!! cheater!! enabler! you’re both pathetic.” “You can’t keep your marriage together” and other nasty things. Is this ok when it’s you, calling that out in front of your friends? Coworkers and neighbors? He seems to think that because he’s been married ONLY three times, and ONLY had one ‘affair’, that somehow he’s better than others. But here’s the thing: He’s bragged openly about the number of married women that he’s slept with. I don’t know about you, but folks, in my book, even if he wasn’t married at the time, that’s still having an affair.  So, are we now OK with a serial adulterer in the White House? If so, then you certainly can’t hold any of Bill’s past against Hilary, now, can you?

What if….

He really IS friends with Vladimir Putin. What REALLY happens then?

He uses one of the nukes that he thinks he should be able to use, since we have them? What happens then? Are you seriously ready to die?

He really IS friends with David Duke, and the white supremacists? You remember them, right? The ones he had trouble disavowing…What happens then? If you’re even a small percent African-American, Jewish, or some other less than perfect non-perfect caucasian, maybe it will be welcome to either the resettlement camps in America, or the deportation lines at the airport.

And about those tax returns. He says he’ll release them after he’s no longer under audit, which is likely to be after the election is over. I’ll go one better. Using logic and if-this-then-that thinking: He’s been under audit continuously since, what 1995? He says he knows people as wealthy as he is who never have been audited. Ponder this: Why does the IRS audit? 1 – Random audits or 2 – They found a red flag. For over 20 years he’s gotten randomly audited? I doubt it, so for over 20 years the IRS has continually found red flags in what he files in his tax return, so much so that they feel is alarming enough for him to be audited every year. Now here is the kicker…why can’t you see the returns from 2013, 2012, 2011? Because they are part of the 2014 audit. What happens when the 2014 audit is done? He’ll be audited on the 2015 tax year. Guess what? He won’t release 2014 then either, because it will be tied up with the 2015 audit, because the IRS will find another red flag. And so on, and so on. You will never see his tax returns. Not until hell freezes over. 

What I really don’t understand I guess, is the support that is given to him by the Evangelicals in this country. Back in June, James Dobson said that Trump had accepted Christ as his savior, referring to him as a “baby Christian”. Now as a Christian, I’m not one to proselytize, I don’t get up on rooftops and wave my faith around like a big flag at Perkins. That’s not my style. I’m more like my dad…I prefer to be more in the background. And I know that we’re all perfectly imperfect, works in progress. We makes mistakes, lots of them, all of the time and I’m no exception. But here’s the thing…as Christians, we do have to try to not repeat them, and to not make them intentionally. When you make mistakes, you apologize genuinely and make it right, then move on. And try to not it again.

Ahem. To the Christian Evangelical political leaders in this country:

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

Perhaps you’d like to have a little chat with Trump re: 1,7,8,9.  His repeated attacks on individuals regarding their character, their abilities, their skills, their bodies, his shady business dealings, his lack of respect for others, the laws of our country, our military, our veterans, simple things like not interrupting another person when they are speaking (oh heck, I learned that when I was 3!) just aren’t lining up with the commandments, and aren’t indicative of someone who is supposedly espousing Christian values. Aren’t we taught that lying is wrong? Yet this man not only lies, but then reverses it, and refuses to acknowledge the first lie, or worse, goes out and finds some conspiracy theory website as his “source of fact” without really doing any true due diligence, then spews hurtful rhetoric. This is someone you want representing you? Why aren’t you all denouncing this horrible, un-Christian behavior? And don’t turn and point the finger at Hilary and give me that “well she’s no better” bull. She might be, she might not be. Listen to me well. Whatever she is or is not, has no bearing on what he is. Did you hear me? 

His behavior isn’t erased by hers. He doesn’t get a pass, there is no “oh look, a Democrat sinned so we’ll let the Republican get a pass for a free sin too.” I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work like that. As believers, when we die we believe we’ll go to heaven, and face our Father, and have to account for our life. I don’t think He’s going to have my sins laid out like the card game “Concentration”. Remember that one from when you were a child? Where you laid out the deck of cards one at a time, face down, then picked them up and tried to match them. You’d look for a pair of 2’s, or a pair of 10’s, and when you found a pair, they were discarded, until the entire deck was gone. I don’t think God is going to say “Beth, we have to find matching sins among your family, friends and peers for all of yours before you can enter heaven.”  I have to answer for myself.

Trump needs to do the same. So does Hillary. But it’s time to stop saying “yeah!” to him every time he refuses to offer contrition for his wrongs, or apologize without bringing Clinton’s name into the conversation. Make him answer for what he does wrong, tell him to stop bringing Clinton’s name into everything as a tool to try and deflect. Until he can take accountability, and learn contrition, well, there’s that old parable about the camel and the eye of the needle.

 

Miss Betty and Miss Manners

Romper, stomper, bomper boo.

Tell me, tell me, tell me, do.

Magic Mirror, tell me today,

Did all my friends have fun at play?

How many of you remember that  rhyme, and Miss Betty (in the Minneapolis area) holding up that magic mirror, so we could ‘see’ our
friends? It was a special time, when we learned manners, table prayers, the Pledge of Allegiance and general courtesies. She had her viewers do exercises too.

Beth 64 1j03 (1)

Me doing calisthenics with Miss Betty on Romper Room, age 3

 

I miss that time. Not that there aren’t polite people in the world today, there certainly are, (holding up my own magic mirror, I see Rachel and Ryan and lots of their friends!) but it feels like manners and courtesy are exceptions rather than rules now, and that makes me sad. I wish it wasn’t so uncommon for people to hold doors open for a stranger, or to smile and say hello, just because you can. Did that go away when we got scared to say “Merry Christmas”?

How about etiquette? What’s the proper way to set a table? Does the knife blade face the plate or away from it? Fork on the left or right? I can still hear my Grandma Abby saying “This is the proper way to eat soup. ‘Whenever I go out to sea, I dip my spoon away from me'” so that you would remember you’re supposed to dip your spoon in your soup away from you at the far side of your soup bowl. Of course, no one does that any more. Are things like how to set a table  even taught anymore outside of the restaurant industry?

How about this one – “elbows off the table Mable” (with all due apologies to the Mables in the world). I said this to my hubby a few months ago, he just looked at me like I’d lost my mind. “What?” I asked him. “Where did that come from?” he wanted to know, as  he’d never heard that expression before, thought I’d made it up on the spot. Not a chance, that was another Grandma Abby-ism. So was “make sure you have on clean bloomers every day” but no one knows today what bloomers are. (They’d be your britches! And if you don’t know what those are, for heaven’s sake, look it up.)

People used to write to Miss Manners, asking how to behave in a given situation. “Dear Miss Manners, my boyfriend’s sister is a being a brat. When I go there for dinner, blah, blah, blah. What should I do?”  and Miss Manners always had great advice on these angst filled life dilemmas. Or you’d consult Emily Post, for the guidelines of good behavior in any given situation.  She once said “The attributes of a great lady may still be found in the rule of the four S’s: Sincerity, Simplicity, Sympathy and Serenity.” Serenity is a little hard to achieve now, as is simplicity, but sincerity and sympathy are attributes all of us should posses, and goodness knows they don’t cost a thing. What’s really amazing, I just googled Emily Post, and found out there is a website emilypost.com (of course!). Guess what’s on the landing page? References to the importance of a handwritten thank you note and a good handshake. (See my prior post, Word of Advice). I didn’t even plan that, I am just that darn good.

Emily Post also had some valuable advice for men. “A gentleman does not boast about his junk.” Of course, given the time in which she lived I’m fairly certain it didn’t mean then what it means now, however it’s apparent to me that it’s still relevant, particularly if you’re running for public office. 

And on that note…