Posted in latest posts

I’m Tired of Bernie Sanders

I find myself once again in election hell. Being a woman on the internet is generally hard but it’s particularly difficult during an election cycle. This is especially true if you support a woman running for a higher elected office such as President. It was hard during the 2016 election cycle and history repeated itself for the 2020 election.

The past two election cycles featured several brilliant and imminently qualified women running for this nation’s highest office. Being human, they had flaws. Being women, their flaws were often blown out proportion in comparison to their male counterparts and unforgiven by those who hold women to higher standards. Narratives against them were manufactured that had little basis in reality and were entirely rooted in misogyny,

Misogyny is deeply rooted in America in ways we are only now starting to comprehend and combat. Considering how deeply embedded it is, running for an office of power is difficult under the best of circumstances. It is extremely problematic when a candidate relies upon a misogynist troll army designed to take down the women running for office.

Bernie Sanders has such an army. During the 2016 election cycle, that army engaged in misogynistic attacks on Hillary Clinton as well as her supporters. They spread negative information, some of it untrue, and misogynistic memes designed to boost his candidacy. While it is clear the origin of some of the disinformation had Russian ties; troll armies rarely care about things such as truth or origin. Their sole purpose is to intimidate, harass and silence in service to their purpose. In Sanders’ case, that purported purpose is his election.

Despite their origins, troll armies expand and enlarge to form identities often reflecting the loudest among them. Humans are pack animals. Herd mentality develops and forms an identity. Oftentimes those involved have no little recognition of what is happening. When carried to extremes, it can become quite dangerous.

The 2016 disinformation problem was included in the Mueller Report. Sanders knew about the disinformation campaign against Hillary Clinton then lied about whether he ever communicated it to her campaign. Her campaign had publicly raised questions about it weeks earlier. Pro Sanders facebook pages were infiltrated and spread of disinformation immediately prior to the election was rampant.  Seemingly there was little concerted effort to combat it. We are still sorting through it’s impact.

Disinformation on social media is particularly hard to battle when coupled with tactics that encourage online harassment.

Here’s how it works. Bad faith actors post inaccurate information on social media. Sometimes it contains a bit of truth that gets distorted out of proportion. It starts to spread. Other users post on the thread trying to discuss the issue or correct disinformation and get swarmed by the army. Sometimes they are threatened and doxxed. The harassment is intended to prohibit correction of disinformation or clarify the issues. The harassment becomes the issue and the disinformation spreads.

Online harassment happens to everyone but it is particularly difficult for women who suffer daily from efforts to silence their voice. When combined with abuse, it adds an increased burden. Abusive behavior is defined as threatening or harassing behavior designed to control it’s intended target. Abusive behavior silences. It causes symptoms such as depression and withdrawal. For survivors of abuse, it is particularly difficult. There are far too many survivors.

But surely you say a progressive movement wouldn’t rely on tactics seeking to diminish the participation of marginalized groups? LOL PLZ.

When confronted with questions regarding his troll army, Sanders has been either dismissive or brief. He can afford to be both since his troll army does the heavy lifting while he reaps its benefits. When those affected by targeted harassment seek dialogue and discussion on the issue, they are met with similar dismissiveness, or mocking narratives on “mean tweets.” Efforts to combat or form true dialogue regarding the issues are few and far between.

If this all sounds familiar you would be correct. It mirrors the tactics used by the Donald Trump campaign in the 2015-16 election against Clinton and serve largely similar purposes.

Once again history repeated itself in this election cycle in efforts to take down both Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Trump didn’t even have to deploy his tactics because Sanders has his own. The extent to which online harassment impacts voting is still being investigated but disinformation works. It undermines our democratic process.

Despite the appeal of some of Sanders’ policies, I am disgusted by his methods. He knows and understands what his troll army does. He simply doesn’t care because it works to his benefit.

Posted in commentary, latest posts, Sports

ESPN is Lost and so are We

Editor’s note: This article was originally posted on our sports website and has been republished here.

ESPN ignited a controversy this past week with it’s handling of a situation involving Jemele Hill, a black woman who co-anchors the SportsCenter desk (The Six for it’s 6 pm slot) for the company along with Michael Smith, a black man. Ordinarily these definers might seem strange but we live in strange times. They are important because racism still exists and is bolstered by our current political climate.

Hill drew the ire of many folks, seemingly including her employer ESPN, with a series of tweets about our current President, Donald J. Trump. Not only do I invite you to read these tweets I beg you to read the entire threads because within these threads lie our collective truth.

Continue reading “ESPN is Lost and so are We”

Posted in commentary, latest posts, Sports

Iggy Stardust Podcast Wrap Up

Special Snowflake Sharona returned with another episode of Back Talk with special guest Mirza Alfaro to discuss gaming, sports and the latest in immigration from whoever the hell is running the insane asylum that is the White House these days.

First up, we talked gaming and what games appeal to us as women. Gaming franchises suffer from the same issues that companies like Twitter do. They don’t know who they are or what they want to be. Instead of focusing on what made the product great they look over their shoulders at what everyone else is doing and try to replicate it. Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery but it will kill your product. #Message

Next, we talked some sports and the current state of the Tennessee Titans. The Titans have been a mess for several years but things finally might be on the upswing. Cornerback, and the entire secondary, is the area that needs addressing the most either via the draft or free agency. Marcus Mariota is young, but improving, and with a solid run game the future is bright for the team.

Finally, we talked about immigration and the discriminatory nature of the current White House and why the atmosphere of hate is so troubling. The current administration uses hate and policies derived therefrom to hide the greed pervading the cabinet appointments and what is to come. Americans are paying attention now and becoming increasingly involved in the process. Together, we can make a difference.

You can listen to today’s episode here.

Posted in commentary, latest posts

From Russia With Love Podcast Wrap Up

Back Talk returned with a new episode of Chopping It Up with Matt to discuss the latest in #RussiaGate plus the Presidential Records Act and why violations of it matter.

We are living in historical times, some of it good and some of it bad. The resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn a mere 25 days into this new administration is historical, in a bad way. Participation in the democratic process by average Americans is one of the lone bright spots.

The Russia connection with the current administration should be concerning to everyone but we live in times where partisan politics trump all else for far too many (okay sorry).That Russia interfered in our country’s 2016 presidential election no longer seems debatable and that certain high ranking officials in the White House were at least complicit.

The question remains as to the identity of those individuals and the extent to which they were involved, or did nothing to stop it.

Russia is a problem worldwide and the United States isn’t the only country where it is middling in national elections. Russian aggression in the Ukraine, and elsewhere, remains a problem too. Destabilization, along with the close ties between certain high ranking governmental officials, are ways to make certain this aggression gets lost in the crossfire.

Combine all this with violations of the Presidential Records Act and obstructionism from those in positions of power toward an investigation of Russian interference and you get an authoritarian cocktail that is deadly to democracy. You can listen to today’s podcast here.

Posted in commentary, latest posts, Sports

Transformation Podcast Wrap Up

Hello Resistance! We are 21 days into the Bannon Administration and there has been progress even though it might be slight. There is no time to let up however. So let’s celebrate some successes but also look at areas where we need to pay attention.

There are several notable victories as Vox Media notes here via @blowticious and they are important. The 9th Circuit dealt a small blow to the Muslim Ban in a victory for the states of Washington and Minnesota but no court to date has addressed the merits of the ban. Last, but certainly not least, we are seeing engagement from our citizenry on a widespread and thus far sustained level.

The level of involvement is important but so also is maintaining that level of commitment. Town hall meetings are important, phone calls are important but so also is staying focused and committed. There will be misdirection, progress and setback. Vigilance and longevity will be key to lasting change.

The list of things to watch is long but of great concern right now is what @ICEgov might be doing. Reports continue to circulate that agents are going into communities looking for immigrants. While widespread operations have not yet been seen, but it certainly bears some watching.

Finally, Congress is being asked to look into the numerous conflicts of interest surrounding the White House. President Donald Trump vowed to divest himself of his assets prior to taking the oath of office. He has not. Representative Jerrold Nadler has filed a resolution of inquiry seeking information so Congress can take a look at the issue. For a good primer on possible White House conflicts, see this piece by Jeremy Venook at The Atlantic. 

All politicians bear watching and now more so than ever. It is incumbent on citizens in a representative democracy to actively engage in the process. Oversight is important and so is participation on a fundamental level. We are seeing more average citizens declaring they will run for office. That, perhaps, might be the lasting legacy of #TheResistance.

You can listen to today’s podcast here.