Chicago - Nov. 15, 2018
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The [Monday] Papers

"Since tomorrow is political journalism's Game Day, we talked with three of the cable stars of election night about how they prep," Axios reports.

Game Day for political journalists? In a sense, because we get a "final score." But really? All journos really do on Election Day - at least television anchors - is sit around and try desperately to fill time until results roll in. It's not exactly heavy lifting. For journalists doing their job right, the tougher part is the reporting that precedes Election Day.

But yeah, I guess in a narrow sense it's Game Day. For everyone.

Except, also, it's not a game.

America's Fifth Column
"Last Wednesday afternoon was typical for Donald Trump over these past weeks: The president was en route to a rally where he would let loose a torrent of falsehoods and outright lies about everything from trade to immigration to even the name of the opposing party," HuffPost reports.

Just don't bother telling that to the lady who wore the New England Patriots socks at the very front of the line to get into Hertz Arena on the outskirts of Fort Myers. Presented with a short list of Trump's most frequent falsehoods, she countered with a homemade placard with a photo showing Louis Farrakhan with former Democratic President Barack Obama and demanded to know why the media wasn't covering that.

She added that she was not interested in whether or how many times Trump might lie that evening. "I don't care if he sprouts a third dick up there," she said.

(She declined to give her name or to elaborate on her views of the president's anatomy.)

Her response, though, was typical of fans so committed to Trump that they take time off from work and spend hours in the rain or under a blazing sun to listen to his speeches. And it highlights the other half of the president's destruction of the truth: As Trump has passed through the looking glass into a make-pretend world of invented facts, legions of his fans have happily followed him.

The bigger problem than Trump's lying is that tens of millions of people believe him - or don't care. How do we, as a nation, recover from that? It's hard to see a way out. Democratic victories won't change their mind. Trump's 2020 re-election campaign - presuming he isn't in prison by then - will only intensify the phenomenon. These people are unreachable. I don't know the answer, but reasoning with them won't work.

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"Jennifer Petito, who drove across the state from Melbourne to see Trump, was similarly dismissive of proof that Trump's claims are false.

"I don't believe that," she said, joining in with the verbal assault on HuffPost for daring to challenge Trump's version of reality. "I don't believe he would lie like that."

My god.

"He doesn't like fake news. Why would he say things that are not true?" asked Barbara Guzman, who owns a label-making business in nearby Cape Coral. "Most of the things he says I agree with, and I believe."

And so on. Go read the rest.

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To be sure, there are supporters of every candidate and president who are clueless. But Trump has built a movement out of such people. And the intermediaries who could've prevented this from happening - conservative media and conservative pols - failed miserably in the 2016 primaries to stop him. Worse, they've now joined the movement themselves.

Again, I don't see a way back home. Open to suggestions.

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To wit, here's how Chicago's House Trumpster John Kass sidestepped Trump's rank dishonesty in June:

"Trump is no angel. He's famous for lies. Mueller may indeed be closing in with the Friday jailing of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who's accused of witness tampering. But Trump's lies are obvious and blustery, like those told by a bad carny hustler."

Trump's lies, Kass asserts, are obvious - and therefore harmless. Everyone knows he's lying. Which is just about as an anti-journalistic, anti-democratic, relativistic piece of tribalism as I can imagine. World events move on the president's words - and tens of millions of Americans happen to believe those lies. They are, to use a Kass term, chumbolones. Even Kass has fallen for Trump's lies when it suits him, like propagating falsehoods Hillary Clinton's health or conspiratorial memes about Robert Mueller's FBI agents or the Honduran caravan that will "invade" the United States in about a month if any of its raggedy members successfully complete their walk through the entirety of Mexico.

We need to find a way out of this place.

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By the way, Trump knows exactly what he's doing. He has said repeatedly that he inflames and lies because it works - he won and he's the president. Why should he stop now? If being honest worked, he'd do that. But lying has worked for him his whole life. Maybe that says more about us than him.

Speaking Of Lying Chief Executives
"Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner appeared on WGN-AM 720 [last] Wednesday, where host Steve Cochran asked him about the controversial TV ad that shows a character saying a bleeped F-word to describe Illinois' future if Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker is elected governor," the Tribune reports.

In the interview, Cochran specifically asked Rauner: "Did that ad come from you or from somebody else?

Rauner replied: "Well, it didn't come from me, but it's an effort to break through the clutter and get a message out about how devastating it will be to have Pritzker and Madigan in power together."

The ad displays the required disclaimer that it was paid for by Rauner's campaign.

Now roll the tape from last Thursday in a different radio interview in a Downstate location.

Rauner appeared on WFMB-AM 1450 in Springfield, and host Sam Madonia asked the governor about the controversial ad, including: "Do you have to OK all the ads before they run?"

Rauner replied: "I see most of the ads. I don't see them all. I signed off on that ad because the truth has to get out. We've got to break through the clutter."

This is the problem, in my view, not the fact that Rauner implied a (gasp!) swear word. If Rauner spent four years truly leading a reform effort, in which reform is described as not doing business as usual but doing business honestly and fairly, he might have actually gotten enough bipartisan support to topple Michael Madigan - or at least gotten enough leverage to turn Madigan into a dealmaker. Instead, Rauner's version of reform turned out to be a single-minded focus against unions. And here we are.

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Rauner ran in 2014 in large part on a theme of not being a politician, but I'm not sure I've ever seen a more political pol than him, between his serial disingenuousness and his constant efforts at threading the needle to maximize political gain and minimize political hurt. And that includes Rod Blagojevich, who was too irrational to match Rauner's cold calculatedness.

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To wit:

Rauner Praises Trump Admin On Friday, Pretends It Did Not Happen By Monday.

Yes, the source of that link is the Democratic Governors Association, but it happens to be true - and sourced to news reports.

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And I haven't even gotten to the Quincy veterans' home or Sterigenics yet.

The truth is, Rauner's governorship has been among the worst in Illinois history. I don't have enough knowledge to place it in overall context, but the reigns of recent governors who have gone to prison were better than this. George Ryan wasn't a totally terrible governor, even if he was a totally terrible person who did some terrible things. He got some good things done. Same with Blagojevich, even if the good things probably got done as much in spite of him as because of him. Seriously, has Bruce Rauner been the worst Illinois governor in modern history - or ever? Assignment Desk, activate!

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So there we have it, the state of today's Republican Party, from Donald Trump to Bruce Rauner. God knows I hate Democrats, but right now it's up to them to save the country, because the GOP has abdicated.

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Not that the GOP as a racist, neo-Nazi party is new. But now it's abundantly clear - there is no longer any code to hide behind.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

The Political Odds
Updated to reflect recent developments.

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ChicagoReddit

Making the night-time messages on the BCBS Tower with paper, markers, and a lot of legwork. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Plus de 44 000 œuvres digitalisées par l'Institut d'Art de Chicago

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BeachBook

The Caravan.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Blood lust.



Permalink

Posted on November 5, 2018


MUSIC - Spring Awakening Wake-Up Call!
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POLITICS - The Political Odds UPDATED.
SPORTS - NHL: CTE Not Our Fault.

BOOKS - Stan Lee, Flawed Hero.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: I Am Iron Man.


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