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Daily Archives: December 17, 2019
Posted: December 17, 2019 at 9:45 am
We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan. We didnt know what we were doing. So said Gen. Douglas Lute, who oversaw the US war on Afghanistan under Presidents Bush and Obama. Eighteen years into the longest war in US history, we are finally finding out, thanks to thousands of pages of classified interviews on the war published by the Washington Post last week, that General Lutes cluelessness was shared by virtually everyone involved in the war.
What we learned in what is rightly being called the Pentagon Papers of our time, is that hundreds of US Administration officials including three US Presidents knowingly lied to the American people about the Afghanistan war for years. This wasnt just a matter of omitting some unflattering facts. This was about bald-faced lying about a war they knew was a disaster from almost day one.
Remember President Bushs Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld? Remember how supremely confident he was at those press conferences, acting like the master of the universe? Heres what he told the Pentagons special inspector general who compiled these thousands of interviews on Afghanistan: I have no visibility into who the bad guys are.
It is not only members of the Bush, Obama, and Trump Administrations who are guilty of this massive fraud. Falsely selling the Afghanistan war as a great success was a bipartisan activity on Capitol Hill. In the dozens of hearings I attended in the House International Relations Committee, I do not recall a single expert witness called who told us the truth. Instead, both Republican and Democrat-controlled Congresses called a steady stream of neocon war cheerleaders to lie to us about how wonderfully the war was going. Victory was just around the corner, they all promised. Just a few more massive appropriations and wed be celebrating the end of the war.
Congress and especially Congressional leadership of both parties are all as guilty as the three lying Administrations. They were part of the big lie, falsely presenting to the American people as expert witnesses only those bought-and-paid-for Beltway neocon think tankers.
What is even more shocking than the release of this smoking gun evidence that the US government wasted two trillion dollars and killed more than three thousand Americans and more than 150,000 Afghans while lying through its teeth about the war is that you could hear a pin drop in the mainstream media about it. Aside from the initial publication in the Washington Post, which has itself been a major cheerleader for the war in Afghanistan, the mainstream media has shown literally no interest in what should be the story of the century.
Weve wasted at least half a year on the Donald Trump impeachment charade a conviction desperately in search of a crime. Meanwhile one of the greatest crimes in US history will go unpunished. Not one of the liars in the Afghanistan Papers will ever be brought to justice for their crimes. None of the three presidents involved will be brought to trial for these actual high crimes. Rumsfeld and Lute and the others will never have to fear justice. Because both parties are in on it. There is no justice.
Just days after the Afghanistan Papers were published, only 48 Members of Congress voted against the massive military spending of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. They continue as if nothing happened. They will continue lying to us and ripping us off if we let them.
This article was published by RonPaul Institute.
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Posted: at 9:45 am
Earlier this year after more than 16 years the Trump administration announced its intent to resumeexecuting death row prisoners. The last time thefederal government carried out the death penalty was in 2003, the long hiatus due to continued court battles over the drugs used to carry out the executions.
Two Appeals Courts, including the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit,have ruled against the administrationin their rush to begin executions this month. It said that issues with the lethal injection protocol are still unresolved. However, the Trump administration is so intent on quickly resuming executions thatitasked the Supreme Court to weigh in.
Over the weekend, the Supreme Court declined to overturn to lower court rulings saying they expect the issue to be resolved at the appeals court level. The Trump administration said they were disappointed in the ruling and would continue to the legal battle.
The short list of prisoners who would likely be the first executed include those convicted of heinous and grisly crimes. For example,Daniel Lewis Leewas scheduled to be executed on Dec. 9. Lee and his co-defendant were convicted of murdering a couple and their 8-year-old daughter.
Yet, when one delves into the testimony of the case, we find that it was Lees co-defendant, Chevie Kehoe, who killed the young girl after Lee refused to do so. Kehoe was the ringleader of this crime, according to Judge G. Thomas Eisele. However, Kehoe received a sentence of life in prison while the less culpable Lee was sentenced to death.
The miscarriage of equal justice in this case has prompted the presiding judge, the victims family members and the U.S. attorney, who investigated and prosecuted the case, to plea for Lees clemency.
This case highlights why death penalty opposition has grown steadily over the past 20 years around the world and here at home.
Numerous states considered death penalty repeals this year. Recently,New Hampshire became the 21st state to abolish the death penalty. These efforts in the statehouse are increasingly bipartisan.
Just last month, well-known conservatives including former Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-Texas), former Gov. George Ryan (R-Ill.), and Richard Vigueriesigned a statement expressing their opposition.
Calling the death penalty a costly and ineffective government program, the statement says that the death penalty does not work and cant be made to work, not in spite of our conservative principles, but because of them.
Once a defender of the death penalty, I changed my mind back in 2010 as New Mexicos governor when I signed into law our states repeal. When I considered the evidence, I concluded that the death penalty was not an effective deterrent to violent crime and the data in this regard is clear.
Rheres the growing body of research showing the grave mistakes made by judges, prosecutors, law enforcement agencies and even juries that has led to increasing exonerations.Most people sentenced to death are poor and minority defendantswho have not been flanked by the best legal teams and expert witnesses available to white collar criminals.
Earlier this year,members of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty met with Pope Francis to discuss the worldwide movement to end this heinous practice. Pope FrancisPope FrancisSCOTUS is blocking federal executions and it's the right thing to do Judge in same-sex marriage denied communion at Michigan Catholic church Pope appeals to world leaders to renounce nuclear weapons MORE deserves praise for his global leadership to help end use of the death penalty. In August 2018, building on the work of his predecessor, Pope Benedict, Pope Francis ordered achange in the Catholic Churchs Catechism to state clear opposition to capital punishment.
It is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor, Pope Francis wrote.
The challenge posed to us as Americans not as Republicans, Democrats, or Independents, but as human beings is to keep front and center in our minds what this decision and others mean to each one of us as the 2020 election approaches.
Bill Richardson is a former Congressman, Ambassador to the United Nations, U.S. Energy Secretary, and Governor for the State of New Mexico. He founded the Richardson Center for Global Engagement in 2011 to promote global peace and dialogue by identifying and working on areas of opportunity for engagement and citizen diplomacy with countries and communities not usually open to more formal diplomatic channels.
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SCOTUS is blocking federal executions and it's the right thing to do | TheHill - The Hill
Posted: at 9:45 am
A few months ago, in a house near Vancouver, nine actors in festive aprons gathered around a kitchen island to shoot a montage for the Hallmark Channel movie Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy. The island was covered in cookie-making ingredients. The director, Sean McNamara, a veteran of Hallmark movies and Disney kids series, sat at monitors nearby. O.K.! he called out. Youre having fun, youre making cookies, its Christmas, and action!
The actors rolled dough and picked up cookie cutters. The montage would be dialogue-free, overlaid with music; to set the tone, McNamara cued up Jingle Bell Rock. The cast began to bob. Good, but we probably shouldnt be dancing! McNamara yelled. One actor, looking serious, lifted an icing bag. Remember, youre having fun, and theres funny stuff going on! McNamara said. The actors burst into smiles and laughter. Now the cake! McNamara said. Paul Greene, a former J.Crew model and the male lead, presented the group with a white fondant cake topped with pine trees. They shook powdered sugar on it. Cut! McNamara yelled. Brilliant!
The Hallmark Channel is a cable network owned and operated by the greeting-card company. This year, the channel and a sister network, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, produced a hundred and three original movies; forty are about Christmas. Since 2011, from late October to January, Hallmark has broadcast Christmas movies nearly twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. (The Hallmark Movie Checklist app, which helps guide viewers to new films, has 1.5 million users.) During this years holiday season, the programming, called Countdown to Christmas, has made Hallmark the No. 1 cable network among women between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-four, and, in some prime-time slots, No. 1 in households and total viewers. Last year, seventy-two million people watched Countdown to Christmas. Fans talk of turning it on and leaving it on all season; it dominates TV screens in hospitals and nursing homes. Guys come up to me on the golf course and whisper, I love your Christmas movies! the actor Cameron Mathison (The Christmas Club, The Christmas Ornament) told me. Lifetime, the womens network long known for movies with titles like In Bed with a Killer and Your Husband Is Mine, now airs its own Hallmark-esque Christmas movies, in a block called Its a Wonderful Lifetime. Netflix, Ion, Freeform, and OWN have started making them, too.
Hallmark films tend to center on independent women with interesting jobs (novelists, chocolatiers) and appealing romantic prospects (princes, firemen). Programming is seasonal; as the year progresses, characters pair up amid winter wonderlands, Valentines Day chocolate-making contests, fireworks celebrations, pumpkin patches, and Christmas parties. The familiarity of the films is essential to their success. Hallmark screenplays have nine acts, each of which hits specific plot pointsa meet-cute in Act I, before the first commercial, an almost kiss in Act VII. The shots are lit with a distinctive warmth. Actors recur. The settings often recall Saturday Evening Post covers by Norman Rockwell, whose painting Shuffletons Barbershop inspired a Hallmark movie of the same name, and several productions have been filmed at ersatz pioneer villages. As Danica McKellar, a Hallmark regular once best known as Winnie Cooper, from The Wonder Years, told me, many actors bring nostalgia withus.
In Hallmark films, townspeople care for one another, run viable small businesses, and compete in gingerbread bake-offsAmerica as we might wish it were, and as some believe it once was. It has thrived in the Trump era. Last year, it was one of the only networks to gain viewers besides Fox News and MSNBC. It also depicts a purple America, without guns, MAGA hats, rage. Bill Abbott, the C.E.O. of Crown Media, Hallmarks entertainment company, told me that its your place to go to get away from politics, to get away from everything in your life that is problematic and negative, and to feel like there are people out there who are good human beings that could make you feel happy to be part of the human race.
Hallmarks America is also straight, often Christian, and, until recently, mostly white. Meghan Markle, whose biracial parentage made headlines after her engagement to Prince Harry, starred in two Hallmark movies; in the Fourth of July romance When Sparks Fly, from 2014, her character had white parents. In 2017, the African-American TV and film actor Holly Robinson Peete pitched a wholesome reality show about her family to Hallmark. Meet the Peetes aired for two seasons. There were six of usseven, including my momso that was a lot of diversity at once, she told me.
The Evergreen series, which began in 2017, now sees Peete playing the mayor of Evergreen, Vermont, a quaint town based on a line of Hallmark cards. The movies begin with a shot of the illustrations that inspired them, some featuring a vintage red pickup truck, which appears in the movies. A miniature of it is available as a Hallmark Christmas decoration, for $39.99. Many Hallmark films involve some form of lucrative integrationproduct placement. Balsam Hill synthetic Christmas trees appear frequently; in Holiday Hearts, from November, an eligible doctor (Paul Campbell) demonstrates the settings of a trees remote-controlled lights for a full minute. On the set of Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy, McNamara and his crew shot a scene that featured a foldaway Ninja Foodi oven. Its important to show nine cookies on the sheet, Sunta Izzicupo, the films executive producer, said. On the monitor, an actor approached the oven, said, No room? No problem, opened its door, and inserted a tray of nine cookies shaped like pickup trucks.
One theme of Tidings of Joy, written by Zac Hug, is whether Evergreen is too good to be true. (In some ways, its the quintessential Hallmark Christmas movie; in others, its a playfully self-aware critique of the genre.) In the film, Katie (Maggie Lawson), a savvy big-city journalist, makes a wish on a magical snow globe, bakes cookies, goes carolling and ice-skating, and watches the unveiling of a time capsule inside a fifteen-foot advent calendar. She also falls in love with Ben (Greene), the local librarian. The day after the cookie shoot, at a historic-house museum in Vancouver, McNamara sat at video monitors in a circa-1895 kitchen, near a hand-cranked wooden telephone. He was about to direct the films highest point of tensionthe almost breakup, usually at the end of Act VIIIwhich takes place at the Evergreen Library, where Ben has discovered Katies notes for what appears to be an expos of the town. Lawson and Greene were surrounded by wreaths, garlands, and Christmas knickknacks. Paper lanterns softened the lighting. Greene, reading Katies notes, said, Despite the warmth and honest connection these people feel, its hard not to wonder how much of Evergreen is an act. His tone hinted at anger.
Cut! McNamara said. Paul, you need to take down, like, twenty per cent of the edge. A key tenet of Hallmark screenplays, the veteran writer-director Ron Oliver told me, is that conflict can never seem like its gone so far that it cant be resolved. In the next take, Greene delivered the line in a tone of gentle disbelief. Brilliant! McNamara said.
In 1910, Joyce Clyde Hall, an entrepreneurial Nebraska teen-ager and the son of a Methodist minister, took a train to Kansas City, Missouri, bringing with him two boxes of postcards. Printed postcards had become a hot commodity, and Hall had a talent for sales. In 1914, he and his older brother Rollie formed a company called Hall Brothers, opened a shop, and began printing their own greeting cards and paper goods. The First World War was a turning point for the industry: servicemen and their loved ones enjoyed sending and receiving cards and became lifelong card buyers. And I saw something else in the custom, Hall wrote in his 1979 memoir, When You Care Enough: A way of giving less articulate people, and those who tend to disguise their feelings, a voice to express their love and affection. In 1916, Hall Brothers began printing cards that came with their own envelopes; in 1917, they invented modern wrapping paper.
The brothers began using the name Hallmark, after a goldsmiths stamp of quality, in 1928, and later paired it with a crown logo. By mid-century, Hallmark had pioneered a new card-display technique, similar to what we still see in drugstores; formed partnerships with Disney and Norman Rockwell; and built a huge headquarters, in Kansas City. In the process, the company became so intertwined with the idea of holiday celebration that the term Hallmark holiday entered the public vocabulary, connoting a holiday rooted as much in commercialism as in tradition.
In 1951, Joyce Hall wrote to his sales team, Dear Fellows: Were going to try our hand at television. Inspired by the mediums educational and entertainment possibilities, he wanted Hallmark to deliver edifying fare. That year, the company sponsored the first original opera written for television, Amahl and the Night Visitors; later, under the name Hallmark Hall of Fame, it sponsored TV productions of literary adaptations, Broadway plays, and, in time, original films. It became the most award-winning franchise in television history, with eighty-one Emmys.
Hallmark formed Crown Media in 1991, and ventured into cable. Later that decade, it bought an interest in the religious network Odyssey, which, in 2001, it took over fully, renaming it the Hallmark Channel. According to Bill Abbott, who ran Crowns advertising sales from 2000 to 2009, before becoming its C.E.O., the strategy at the outset wasnt to draw close to the brand. It didnt really have a filter. For a decade, the channel aired motley family entertainment, Hallmark Hall of Fame films, and original movies, made by an independent producer.
There were a few standouts. One was the eleven-film Love Comes Softly series, released from 2003 to 2011. Based on novels by the Canadian evangelical-Christian writer Janette Oke, the movies are lightly religious frontier dramas set out West. I watched several around 2009; inside the films covered wagons and behind their butter churns, I discovered, yellow-haired TV stars like Katherine Heigl and January Jones were living lives of noble forbearance. There were occasional speeches about the Lord, but there was also hardship and heart, la Little House on the Prairieif Pa hurt his leg, a handsome stranger would help plow the fields. Other films were set in a down-home romanticized present, among characters who proudly respect sentimental art. Some of them praise Norman Rockwell and Thomas Kinkade; in one film, a painter feels betrayed, but then grateful, when her art is used in an ad campaign. Art is about creativity and being a free spirit, she says in Act IX, just before the kiss. Its not restrictive or rigid, so why should I be? Her painting is of Santa Claus.
These series and films, along with The Christmas Card, a surprisingly effective love story between a soldier and a mill owners daughter, from 2006, helped inspire Abbott, when he became C.E.O., in 2009, to push Hallmark to embody the brand on TV. I love greeting cards and I love Hallmark stores, Abbott told me when I met him at Hallmarks Manhattan offices. To him, the stores give a sense of comfort, positivity, connections. You should turn on our channel and almost feel like youre walking into a Gold Crown store, he said. Abbott is fifty-seven, with thinning gray hair, a warm, confident demeanor, and an adenoidal vocal quality, like a man powering through a cold. He told me that he had been influenced, too, by the distinctive two-minute Hallmark-card commercials that had aired during the Hall of Fame broadcasts, starting in the sixties, which became famous for making viewers cry. In The Music Professor, from 1983, a girl races to arrive at a piano lesson before her teacher and hides a card between the pages of her sheet music. When he finds it, both struggle to contain their emotions.
Abbott and his executive team, including Michelle Vicary, Crown Medias executive vice-president of programming and network publicity, developed a strategy of leaning into Christmas. Vicary, who works at Crown Medias Los Angeles headquarters, began her career in music sales, working with bands including Nirvana, Hole, and Mudhoney, but shifted gears because of her passion for television, she told me. (She has been with Crown Media since its beginning.) In 2015, Crown started its own production company, taking control of development, costumes, locations, casting, and post-production. Abbott and Vicary read every script and watch every movie. The Christmas movies are generally shot in fifteen days, in minimal takes and with maximum efficiency, in affordable, often Canadian, locations; they use actualsexisting locations, not soundstages. Abbott and Vicary coached the development team to be brand ambassadors, who insure that each element of a production has a distinctive Hallmark feel, down to the decorative mise en scne. Vicary told me, Were not afraid to look at the dailies and call them up and say, Not enough Christmas.
In 2014, Hallmark aired Christmas Under Wraps, starring Candace Cameron Bure, who in childhood co-starred on Full House, alongside another Hallmark actor, Lori Loughlin. Bure plays a big-city doctor who finds love in Garland, Alaska, which, she correctly suspects, is home to Santas workshop. I guess when it comes down to it, a patient is a patient, she says, wide-eyed, icing Rudy the Reindeers leg. At the beginning, she is striving for a prestigious Boston surgical fellowship; by the end, she has everything she needs right there in Garland. The movie was a breakthrough, Abbott said. Soon afterward, the company ramped up production.
The Bure breakthrough was a bit like the plot of Christmas Under Wraps: Hallmark had discovered that it had everything it neededpositivity, reassurance, sentimentality, and cozy salesmanshipright there in Garland. At that point, the Hallmark Channel had a steady audience of older viewers, but it began bringing in younger ones by casting prominent actors who had starred in edgy teen fare of the two-thousandsJesse Metcalfe, Chad Michael Murrayand putting them in sweaters and Santa hats. There was something for middle-aged viewers, tooa divorced heroine wooed by a sensitive major-league baseball player, for example, who teaches her son to catch. The movies seasonal themes began to venture beyond Christmas, and holiday decoratingeven for Halloween or Valentines Dayprovided a way for characters to bond. (Since the seventies, Hallmark Cards has sold Christmas ornaments and holiday decorations.)
As the strategy started to succeed, Hallmark further expanded its fare, introducing a morning show (Home & Family, shot in a free-standing house on the Universal lot) and, in 2014, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, the sister channel, whose titles include Murder, She Baked: A Peach Cobbler Mystery, and whose programming broadened, slightly, the companys tonal register. (In one film, Bure finds a human skull.) Often, at a mysterys climax, theres a moment of cathartic, justified violencefor example, a woman clonking a would-be murderer over the head with a piece of pottery. In regular Hallmark Channel films, violence is so seldom seen that even allusions to it can be shockingsuch as in From Friend to Fianc, from 2018, when a party scene at a paintball range features a shot of people wielding semiautomatic paintball guns. When I mentioned the off note to Abbott, he said, Thats a movie we did not write the script for. It had been produced independently, and guns werent its only problem. It got past all of us that the word suck is used in the movie, Abbott said. He grew animated. I was so mad at myself for not catching it. Its a word that has become frighteningly close to no longer being part of the four-letter-word category. Its aits just a negative, its demeaning. It shouldnt be on our channel. They edited it out.
Several well-known politically conservative actors in Hollywood have been in Hallmark filmsBure, Dean Cain, Jon Voightbut, Abbott said, Hallmark takes pains to be apolitical. The only thing we do promote is pet adoption, he said. We make no apologies about that. The Home & Family set has a dedicated pet-adoption area, and pet adoption is a plot point in many movies, including last years Road to Christmas, written by Zac Hug. It featured, as minor characters, two attractive young men who co-owned an animal shelter. Seeing this, I was briefly delighted: was this a gay couple, on Hallmark? The moment passedthey didnt act like a couple or attend a family Christmas gathering together. I mentioned to Abbott that I had thought I had seen a gay couple in a movie; I didnt say which. You did, he said. It was Road to Christmas. Hallmark wanted to reflect the broader population where it could, he went on. And we believe that if we do it authentically, without doing it just to do itwhich is the wrong reason to do it, by the waypeople will feel good about it, regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum. I couldnt tell that they were gay, I said. But thats whats great about it, Abbott said. Theyre not being called out and made to either look cool or weird.
Hallmarks sense of authenticity is rooted more firmly, perhaps, in the pioneer village. In 2014, it adapted Janette Okes 1983 novel When Calls the Heart into a series. Centered, at first, on a genteel schoolteacher, Elizabeth (Erin Krakow), a handsome Mountie (Daniel Lissing), and a local widow (Lori Loughlin) in a western-Canadian mining town circa 1910, it has a whiff of the piety of the Love Comes Softly series. When characters behave badly (covering up liability in a mine accident, putting on airs), they redeem themselves; pleasures are exceedingly gentle. The shows superfans, known as the Hearties, have an annual family reunion in Vancouver, and visit the set in tour buses. Some make social-media memes superimposing Bible passages over images from the show. When Calls the Heart has some three million viewers an episode, competing for No. 1, on Sunday nights, with The Walking Dead, about life in America after a zombie apocalypse. Until we get to Walking Dead numbers, Im not going to be happy, Abbott said.
At the beginning of the series, Abigail, Loughlins character, had lost her husband and son in a mining accident, but she perseveredopening a caf, adopting an orphan. By the time Abigail became the towns mayor, Loughlin was a cornerstone of Hallmarkas Abbott told me, a very good friend, somebody who I admire a great deal for her skill, and at the top of the list in terms of people who were accessible, were kind, were committed to her fans, and were humble.
On March 12th, Loughlin and her husband, along with Felicity Huffman and others, were indicted in a highly publicized college-admissions-fraud scheme, in which they allegedly paid five hundred thousand dollars to have their two daughters admitted under false pretenses. (Loughlin pleaded not guilty.) Two days later, Crown fired her; it pulled When Calls the Heart off the air, midseason, and edited her out of its remaining episodes.
When the show returned, Krakow, as Elizabeth, sat at a desk, writing in her diary. We never know how life will turn, she wrote. Its been a week since Abigail got word that her mother had taken ill back East. True to her nature, Abigail wasted no time in rushing off to care for her. The townspeople would pray for her and her family. In her absence, we must soldier on, and we will, Elizabeth continued. We are a community. We are strong. In one of Abigails final episodes, from February, she lovingly reassured Elizabeth, a new mother, about parenthood. If theres one thing I know, a good mother always figures out whats best for her child, she said.
In early November, Christmas Con brought together seventeen Hallmark-movie stars and several thousand regular Americans who wanted to meet them. The gathering, held at a modest convention center in Edison, New Jersey, had been organized by a small event company and sponsored by Hallmark, which had constructed a fully furnished living-room area, as if airlifted from the set of Home & Family, in the middle of the space. Guests in reindeer antlers and pro-Hallmark T-shirts drank mulled cider and posed inside a Christmas-ornament-shaped frame.
The mood was exuberant. When a group of Hallmark actors, including Chad Michael Murray, emerged from the greenroom to pose in front of a tree, thousands cheered, a sea of arms raising cameras aloft. Male stars from Hunks of Hallmark, an Instagram fan account, gamely posed as attendees asked them to: holding their hands, looking into their eyes. One couple, Jeff and Kathy Martin, from New Jersey, were beaming; the actor Nikki DeLoach had just praised Jeffs Green Bay Packers Christmas sweater. I asked Kathy why she loved Hallmark. The stress lifts right off! she told me, raising her arms in a gesture of unburdening. Later, Cheryl Longordo, a self-described Hallmark-watching junkie, told me that it took her mind off her job at a pharmaceutical company. She and her sister, who wore a chemotherapy turban, were there together. You need this, Longordo said, intensely. Its a lifeline.
Hallmark Channel fare has always struck a delicate balance between realism and something more idealized. A paradox of the channel is that the artificiality of its content, which offers predictable pleasuresthe almost kiss, interrupted by a ringing phone or a bleating goat; the ubiquitous baking contestsis often delivered alongside surprisingly realistic performances. Unlike modern rom-coms, Hallmark plotswhich almost always feature romance, even alongside the murder investigationsare driven not by arch concepts, high jinks, or panic about being single but by what Vicary described to me as a voyage of self-discovery. A long-standing trend of having Hallmark heroines tumbling off ladders into manly arms has been on the wane. As the writer Julie Sherman Wolfe told me, at Christmas Con, We dont want our strong female leads to be damsels in distress. Characters fall in love because they see goodness in the other person, Vicary saidoften because of a kind act that causes the other character to take a look at themselves. Like what human beings go through. When something touches you, you can effect change.
Some people dismiss Hallmark as presenting a fantasy, but, Ron Oliver said, its characters behave with greater maturity than many others onscreen. When youre writing something in Hallmark-land, you have to understand that people tend to act like adults do, he said. Protagonists are often motivated by their goals as much as by love. The actor Anna Van Hooft specializes in playing Hallmark villainsa bride-to-be who buys a wedding dress that was on hold for someone else, a murderer. Even the villains tend to have their eyes on their goalsbut not on the people around them, she said. For example, the marriage, but not the man.
In the heavier fare on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries and on Hallmark Drama, which began to air in 2017, violence and loss are explored within the same format that the Christmas movies use, with the same reliable happy-ever-afters. One film this year featured a subplot about medical debt. Another film, Two Turtle Doves, by Sarah Montana, is a warmhearted love story between a grieving neuroscientist (Nikki DeLoach) and a widowed estate lawyer (Michael Rady). Their romance involves turtle-dove Christmas ornamentsbut also straightforward discussions about loss. At Christmas Con, DeLoach told me, So many people have come up and told me it was a guide for learning to heal through grief. She was beaming.
Hallmarks project of uplift has begun to extend not just into real lives but into real towns, many of which could use it. (A recurring theme of Hallmark movies is saving beloved local businesses.) For a special called Project Christmas Joy, Hallmark donated homes to families in tornado-ravaged parts of Alabama; it also threw a Christmas event for the residents of David City, Nebraska, the small home town of JoyceC. Hall. Despite its historic charm, my own home town, in Connecticut, has at times struggled to thrive. Last autumn, while looking at Instagram, I saw a startling postof my childhood house and the seed company my family had owned, next door, blanketed in fake snow. Hallmark was filming a Christmas movie there. Six weeks later, I watched the heroine of Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane enter a snowman contest outside the house and fall in love with an antique dealer, whose store was in the seed-company building. Inside, the stairs squeaked just the way I remembered.
In July, the Hallmark Channel threw a party for five hundred people at Palazzo di Amore, a fifty-three-thousand-square-foot Mediterranean-style mansion atop a crest overlooking Los Angeles. It was the week known as the T.C.A.s, when networks present the Television Critics Association with upcoming-programming announcements and a glitzy good time. Upon arrival, Hallmarks marquee stars, including Lacey Chabert, Nikki DeLoach, Erin Krakow, and Andrew Walker, posed in front of a step-and-repeat wall near a fountain. Behind the house, guests mingled on a vast Italianate patio and inside a small side mansion. Cameron Mathison, in a pale-gray suit, waved at someone in jubilant semaphore across an infinity pool; two 90210 alums hugged; on a balcony, Mary-Margaret Humes and John Wesley Shipp, Dawsons parents on Dawsons Creek, took in the view. Shipp had just been cast in his first Hallmark role, and his first role as the father of a grown daughter, in The Ruby Herring Mysteries. Ive played a lot of dads, he said. I was a psycho dad in Teen Wolf. He looked around. I just saw Susan Lucci, who I did Fantasy Island with a hundred and fifty years ago.
Many of the actors I talked to compared working for Hallmark to the old studio system, by which they seemed to mean that it offered steady work, good pay, decent hours, and care. Martin Cummins, who plays the formerly villainous mine owner Henry Gowen on When Calls the HeartIve played a bad guy in a suit my whole careersaid that Hallmarks film scheduling was unusually humane. We only shoot a flat twelve, he saidtwelve hours a day. Lisa Durupt, a sidekick in eighteen movies, said, You become part of a family. Michael Rady told me, with enthusiasm, that Hallmark had changed his career. He has worked steadily, in prominent non-Hallmark projects, since his screen dbut, in 2005, in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. When I first started doing Hallmark, I was, like, Its a side hustle, he said. I wouldnt, like, lead with it. You knowyoure in L.A. Now, he said, Id be happy only working with themHallmarkforever. Rady is often asked by friends how to get involved, he said. He leaned forward and smiled. But Hallmark finds youyou dont find them.
At dinner, under a pinkening sky, on a stage with a gazebo dripping with purple flowers, Kristin Chenoweth, a new Hallmark star, sang Over the Rainbow. Abbott and Vicary delivered some celebratory remarks and announced upcoming movies, such as Sense, Sensibility, and Snowmen; afterward, several actors told me that theyd learned which movies theyd be starring in during Vicarys address. Projects were being green-lighted in a spirit of abundance. Ron Oliver told me that his latest film, Christmas at the Plaza, had originated when he posted a picture of himself at the Plaza Hotel, where he was staying with his husband, on Facebook. As a joke, I said, This is me researching my next movie, Christmas at the Plaza, Oliver said. That Monday morning, my exec called and said, If youre serious, were in. He wrote it in July, directed it in August, and it premired on Thanksgiving.
This year, Hallmark made headlines when it announced that it would produce two holiday movies with Hanukkah themes. In both, however, Christmas is the star. In Holiday Date, Brooke (Brittany Bristow) brings an actor, Joel (Matt Cohen), to Whispering Pines, her home town, for the holidays, to pose as her boyfrienda common phenomenon on Hallmark, and perhaps less so in real life. One afternoon in September, I visited the set, in a house outside Vancouver. The downstairs was festooned with pine sconces, ornaments, and bows. Tree on the move! a crew member said. Ive never done Hallmark, Cohen told me. For a decade, hed played scary roles, including Lucifer, on shows like Supernatural. I committed to the dark side and it paid the bills, he said. But this is who I really am. Im a goofball.
As Holiday Date unfolds, its revealed that Joel doesnt know how to decorate a tree, or hang Christmas lights: hes Jewish. The family is surprised but unfazed, Bristow explained. They incorporate latkes and a menorah into their festivities and teach Joel to deck the halls. Ive never celebrated Christmas, but I always wanted to, he says. In the movies trailer, Silent Night plays in the background.
That afternoon, I watched as a scene was filmed in which Joel, handsome in a Santa-red sweater, helps Brookes young niece, Tessa (Ava Grace Cooper), rehearse for a Christmas pageant. On the monitor, I could see three Christmas trees in the frame. Tessas self-absorbed parents, played by the recurring Hallmark bro Peter Benson and the Hallmark villain Anna Van Hooft, walked by, looking at their phones, and opened the front door, obscuring a tree but introducing a wreath. The living room was a riot of Yuletide splendor: trees and garlands. A fire roared in the fireplace, and a row of Christmas stockings hung on the mantel. Above them, a string of blue-and-white letters spelled out HAPPY HANUKKAH. Tessas pageant line was about family togetherness: Cause thats what Christmas is all about. Cohen beamed. Perfect, he said.
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How Hallmark Took Over Cable Television - The New Yorker
Posted: at 9:44 am
The Associated Press article Pa. school district can keep Redskins name, but logos might go reported that the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission has ordered the Neshaminy School District in Bucks County, whose sports teams nickname is the Redskins, to get rid of all logos and imagery that negatively stereotype Native Americans, although they may keep the nickname (often shortened to simply the Skins). So what will their logos and imagery be? Redskin potatoes?
I graduated from Pennsbury High School in Bucks County in 1961. Neshaminy was our bitter rival in all sports, especially football. In all of the years I lived in that area, I never once heard anyone complain about the nickname, the logos, imagery or anything else about Neshaminy being offensive to anyone.
This decision is political correctness garbage at its worst. And by the way, there are currently eight school districts in the WPIAL that have Native American nicknames (four Indians, two Warriors, two Raiders including Uniontowns Red Raiders), and logos/imagery ranging from Indian heads to feathers and arrows, such as the Aliquippa Quips, who use an Indian head logo. Apparently, we in Western Pennsylvania are not as PC as our neighbors to the east (thank heaven).
I suppose it wont be very long before other social justice warriors choose to attack any school district that has the nickname Devils as promoting satanic worship (there are three in the WPIAL). That might even generate a lot of support in our increasingly Godless society.
David Reese, Mt. Lebanon
Wile E. Coyote Democrats
The Democrats newest made-for-TV investigation into President Trump is turning into another Wile E. Coyote cartoon, this time starring Adam Schiff. The Dems spend most of their time plotting some way to capture Trump, and it seems every one of their schemes blows up in their faces.
This is the third episode of the same story in the past three years. First was Russia, Russia, Russia. The explosion from the Mueller investigation is just beginning to sizzle. It will really catch fire as soon as the preliminary report of the investigation into the Obama administrations attempt at a coup detat is released.
The second act was the Democrats failed attempt to destroy Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, thus demeaning Trump. But the stories told by the witnesses were unable to be verified. Criminal referrals against several of the storytellers remain unaddressed, according to nine Republican senators who wrote a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray in October, seeking information on where the investigations stand.
And now we have the ever-indignant Schiff bringing an assortment of bureaucrats whose feathers got ruffled by Trump on stage to tell us no criminal nor impeachable activity occurred in his dealings with Ukraine.
Boom! Boom! Boom! Wile. E. Coyote blows up again.
Bob Jacobs, Unity
Wolfs veto of abortion ban
Gov. Tom Wolf on Nov. 21 vetoed a bill, passed by the state Legislature, that would have prohibited abortions because of a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis.
I believe that any abortion, with the exception of saving the life of the mother, is out-and-out a murder. Not only are Wolfs statements about this subject discriminatory, they are wholly against Gods word.
When I watched the governor of New York sign the states law that allows abortion even up to the moment of birth, I saw in his face nothing but evil. To Wolf I ask this question: Do you want to stand before the supreme judge of us all and be asked why you did not defend those that God gave life to and why you determined that those with Down syndrome were especially pointed out?
I am praying that Wolf has a change of heart and does not have to answer these questions before almighty God on that great day of judgment. The decision for good or evil is up to you, Gov. Wolf; it is your immortal soul that hangs in the balance.
I have done what God has laid upon my heart to do and that is to send this letter as a warning from him. Those who are born with no health issues and those who are born with Down syndrome: Each is given special gifts from God and to abort them is to deprive the world of those gifts.
John T. Watson, North Huntingdon
Charter school misinformation
In the article Freeports cyber charter school is helping district save money, officials say, Freeport Area School District Superintendent Ian Magness said, In an outside cyber charter setting, there is very little accountability, and that is common knowledge across the commonwealth. This is a common misconception, but its not true.
Cyber charters are held to even more stringent standards than other schools in Pennsylvania. Cyber charters are governed by the same state and federal education mandates that apply to all public schools, plus additional oversight groups that school districts dont answer to, including the IRS, the Department of the Treasury, the auditor general, watchdog organizations for special education and civil rights, and more.
Unfortunately, due to this kind of misinformation, Pennsylvania now faces a school choice crisis.
Gov. Tom Wolf and Education Committee Chairman Curt Sonney are considering legislation that would force families to pay out-of-pocket if they send their children to charter schools outside their home district. They believe district-run charter schools are better than outside charters. But as a former brick-and-mortar schoolteacher who now teaches at a cyber charter, Ive seen that this is untrue. Fortunately, Ive also seen students who were unable to get the support they needed from their home districts eventually become thriving learners after their families found the right cyber charter school that actually serves their needs.
Why should these families be forced to pay a penalty, or feel trapped by the same districts that have been letting them down?
Peter Mysels, Monroeville
The writer is a PA Distance Learning Charter School social studies teacher.
Trumps interference with Navy is dangerous
As a former Navy enlisted and officer, I am highly concerned with the commander-in-charge-of-White-House-chaos interference in Navy matters.
The commander-in-charge-of-White-House-chaos overruled the Navys decision to demote Chief Petty Officer and Navy Seal Edward Gallagher. Gallagher was convicted of posing with a dead detainee. President Trumps rationale was that he was standing up for our military. Trump also overruled the peer review ordered by Rear Adm. Collin Green, head of the Navy Seals, and by doing this he is undermining the Navys chain of command and adversely impacting discipline within the Navy. The peer review would have been conducted by senior Navy enlisted personnel.
The commander-in-charge-of-White-House-chaos, who knows nothing about our military, might have Navy personnel in command second-guessing their authority, which could be detrimental to naval operations in the world and could adversely impact our national security.
Donald Moskowitz, Londonderry, N.H.
Religious beliefs and adoption
I am deeply troubled by Pennsylvanias Department of Human Services, which refuses to grant a religious exemption to Catholic adoption agencies who place children with a family of a man and a woman (Catholics halt adoption, foster care programs in Greensburg, Pittsburgh over state rule.) According to a 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics report, Fathers do not parent like mothers, nor are they a replacement for mothers when they are not at home; they provide a unique dynamic and important contribution to the family and children. Same-sex couples do not give a child the unique parenting of both genders, male and female.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child advocates that the well-being of children should be of utmost importance in considering public policy. Apparently, Gov. Tom Wolf did not take children into consideration when he signed the executive order that included a nondiscrimination clause on sexual orientation and gender identity.
All adoption agencies must sign a contract to place children with same-sex couples who are interested in adopting, regardless of what the studies show is best for children. Religious and conscience beliefs of the agencies are not even considered.
Bernadette Cymbor, North Huntingdon
We need nurse practitioners
Ive been the patient of a talented and caring nurse practitioner for 30 years. I am writing to respond to the recent back and forth between nurse practitioners and doctors regarding full practice authority for nurse practitioners.
I trust my nurse practitioner, Cathy Grant. Shes the best health care person I ever went to. My wife, brother and grandkids feel the same way. When I go in for an appointment, she sits down and really listens to me. Sometimes she catches things I missed. If I ever need to see a specialist, she sends me to one.
I support House Bill 100, which would give Pennsylvania nurse practitioners full practice authority. We have plenty of people who need health care. We should do anything we can to make it convenient and affordable for them to get it. Right now, a lot of them have to wait for it or travel long distances, especially seniors.
I dont believe the naysayers for one simple reason: The bill only lets nurse practitioners do what they already do in other states like Maryland. If there was a problem, wed have heard about it by now. There are always going to be people who oppose change. But we need more health care, and it should be up to patients to decide where they get it. For me thats a nurse practitioner.
Charles Hoak, Slickville
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Posted: at 9:44 am
For Leftist disciples of ruination, like a synod of croaking frogs sitting on a lillypad in the DC swamp, are selling counterfeit definitions in the market of persuasion, unleashing a whole catalogue of social deviance and belligerent hypocrisy and defining it as progress.
Leftist regressives, deaf to every imagined merit but their own, rude and disruptive like a swarm of flies on a dinner table, have created an environment of perpetual anger and conflict that swells the bank accounts of lawyers and psychologists and has emptied the US Treasury. (D. Brooks, 17 Nov.) (K. Parker, 24 Nov.)
Todays victimhood culture requires constant vigilance and self-restraint, placing everyone in only one of two categories, victim or oppressor.
Political correctness (drop failing school label, 17 Nov.) is designed to give lies the false appearance of truth.
Jesse L. Warmack
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Posted: at 9:44 am
In the decade of identity politics, words like toxic, woke and snowflake came to define us
Deep fakes, influencers, viral fashion we live in a world unrecognisable from the one we stood in ten years ago. As a chaotic decade comes to a close, we're speaking to the people who helped shape the last ten years and analysing the cultural shifts that have defined them. Explore the decade on our interactive timelinehere, or headhereto check out all our features.
Its hard to cast your mind back to ten years ago, and think about the ways that language was different. But there are a whole bunch of words that we say often now and didnt really use back then, like nonbinary or woke, for example. In fact, thinking about which words shaped the decade, it seems a lot of them are to do with who we are, or the way that we view ourselves, which makes sense given that the 2010s felt like the decade of identity politics.
Why was that the case? Well, a global swing towards populism and the rise of someterrifying right-wing leaders left a lot of us feeling disillusioned with traditional party politics. Perhaps growing inequality and wealth dividescoupled with a sense of injustice or oppression along race, class and gender lines made us reexamine our political affiliations and look to one another.
Or maybe, in the decade when we used more social media than ever before, we just got really, really self-obsessed.
Either way, despite what the right might say about the left (political correctness gone mad!) or what boomers might say about millennials and Gen Z (that were just a bunch of pathetic snowflakes), a lot of good actually came out of the shift towards identity politics in the 2010s. It made us more conscious about relative privilege and intersectionality, and it contributed to the energy of important social movements like SlutWalk, Black Lives Matter, trans and nonbinary visibility, and #MeToo and #TimesUp. And in return, these movements gave us new words that helped us to see the world differently, more clearly.
Below, we take look back at the decade through the lens ofeight of these new(-ish) words.
Ok so woke is not a new word. It comes from stay woke, used in African American communities to mean keep yourself aware to political injustice, mostly racism. However, its use by Black Lives Matter after the movement was officially founded in 2014 propelled it into much wider circles, and the word was soon co-opted by white people, as well as brands and marketeers. Its meaning also morphed slightly; woke kind of just became a byword for politically correct.
That a word which literally means stay aware about racial inequality was culturally appropriated seems beyond irony, but also sadly quintessentially 2010s. This was the era of blackfishing, tokenised diversity, and everyone everywhere saying yaas and fierce like they were in a Harlem ballroom. That so many people say woke without thinking about where the word actually comes from makes it another casualty of a hyperspeed internet culture where people constantly take and borrow without crediting or researching the facts.
Wokes rise in popularity in the 2010s also points to enduring racial inequalities in America, highlighted by some horrific moments including multiple police shootings of black Americans, Dylan Roofs mass shooting in a Charleston church in 2015, and the Unite The Right Charlottesville rallies in 2017, along with the ensuing car terrorist attack on counter-protesters.
In 2019, the word came full circle when Barack Obama, Americas first black president, criticised woke culture. It had basically become call-out culture, he said, with people cancelling others online to virtue signal how woke they are. This idea of purity and youre never compromised and youre politically woke, and all that stuff, he said, you should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws.
Over the course of the 2010s, feminists worked hard to take the word slut and reclaim it from an insult into a symbol of sex positivity, so the idea that women should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies, without worrying about the kind of societal double standards that tell us men can sleep around and women cant, for instance.
On January 24, 2011, a moronic and misogynistic Toronto police constable called Michael Sanguinetti ushered in a new, not-so-progressive decade by giving a talk on campus rape at a Canada university. I've been told I'm not supposed to say this however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised, he told students, in a giant step back for mankind. But we quickly realised this view was common when just a month later, a Canadian judge in Winnipeg called Justice Robert Dewar made comments during a rape trial implying that the woman who was raped was partly responsible.
In protest of these incidents, Canadian activists Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis organised a rally: We want Police Services to truly get behind the idea that victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and sexual profiling are never acceptable, Barnett said. Taking place on April 3 in Toronto, over 3,000 people showed up to the march, some wearing fishnets and underwear to make the point that women should be able to wear whatever the fuck they want in public.
If SlutWalk has a legacy, its the work it did to erode societys deepseated Madonna-Whore complex
The demo was called SlutWalk, and the concept quickly spread: by the end of 2011, sister events had popped up in Melbourne, London, and cities across the US, as well as Iceland, Korea, India, Brazil and other countries. In 2015, ex-stripper, ex-girlfriend of Kanye West and feminist campaignerAmber Rose started her own SlutWalk in LA (she called it Amber Roses SlutWalk a classic Amber Rose move).
The punk spirit of SlutWalk slogans on a bare chest, balaclavas, unruly female anger aped groups like FEMEN, the Ukranian radical feminists who protested topless at the end of the 2000s, as well as Pussy Riot. Its message reflected other anti-slut shaming campaigns or voices that sprung up in the 2010s too, like The UnSlut project, a campaign to countersexually aggressive bullying in schools after the suicides of threeyoung American girls, or the work of writer and journalist Karley Sciortino, aka Slutever.
#Slutwalk was a key moment in ushering in fourth-wave feminism, and its global reach paved the way for the #TimesUpRally and the Womens March. If SlutWalk has a legacy, its the work it did to erode societys deep-seated Madonna-Whore complex, but in the criticism that it garnered, partly from sex-negative feminists who thought that slut wasnt a word worth reclaiming, it reminded us that the work sex-positive feminists have to do is a long way from over.
Imagine a time when we thought troll meant a dwarf or giant in Scandinavian folklore inhabiting caves or hills. Well, thats what life was like in simpler times, before 2014, which is when the dictionary revised the words meaning to include: a person who intentionally antagonizes others online by posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content.
Today, we think of trolling as simply winding someone up not just online but also offline. However, for a while, it felt more sinister. In 2014, trolling seemed to converge with harassment as #gamergate, an anti-feminist attack on female developers in the video game industry unfolded. #gamergate was basically a bunch of anonymous creeps and angry alt-right bros sending women rape threats and doxing them. Not quite trolling, no online harassment is illegal, trolling is not but it did make us stop and consider what these kinds of keyboard warriors were motivated by. (Clue: misogyny).
At some point, while ignoring the pond scum of the internet, we realised that we actually cared much more about what the more politically correct voices online thought of us
Trolling as a concept sums up two difficult truths that we learned way back in the early days of social media, the 2000s: that we are willing to behave in dramatically different ways online than off, and that this behaviour is hard to moderate. Twitter was meant to be the Roman Forum, instead, we got the Colosseum a load of people savaging each other for sport.
Over the 2010s, we came to understand that yes, some trolls were extremists, but a lot of trolls were victims of bullying themselves, or just people crying out for attention. Dont feed the trolls, we were told, until at some point while ignoring the pond scum of the internet, we realised that we actually cared much more about what the more politically correct voices online thought of us. Suddenly, getting cancelled became a much scarier fate than getting trolled.
It wouldnt be a list of words of the decade without this defining piece of marketing jargon. We all know what influencer means: someone who wields the influence, particularly in the digital sphere, to encourage their army of loyal followers to buy something. If the late 2000s gave us Instagram, the 2010s gave us its stars; the Bella Hadids, Kylie Jenners and Luka Sabbats of this world, and the modern parable of Caroline Calloway.
These influencers sit at the intersection of so many other would-be words of the decade: they sell us wellness, theyre usually clad in athleisure, they take a shit ton of selfies, they apparently invented sadfishing, and if they fuck up badly enough, they become scammers, whether they meant to or not. But in some ways, havent they been scamming us all along?
Arecent article on Wired remembers how, at the beginning of influencer culture, in about 2006, we were outraged and concerned that bloggers could be sent products for free or given money to try to promote something to us, unsuspecting consumers. Rules were put in place to improve transparency, but then we gradually got desensitised to scrolling through seeing murky spon con all day anyway. As we viewed more of it, influencers multiplied, and so did their paychecks (Kim K can reportedly charge$1 million for a post), and with these rewards came the problem of engagement fraud, and the pressure to buy followers.
We already knew that influencers didnt make us feel great about ourselves, but in the second half of the decade, shitstorms like Fyre Festival and Calloway made us question the authenticity of influencers as a concept, while things really entered a surrealist parody hellscape around the time we got given nonexistent CGI influencers. Then, with the invention of micro-influencers, the influencer concept was democratised into pointlessness. Finally, when thePope called the Virgin Mary an influencer, we knew it had basically lost all meaning.
And yet, somehow, as we enter the 2020s, the influence of the influencer prevails: a recent survey of American kids found that, for 86 per cent of them, it wasa dream job. If thats not depressing, what is?
Its the cusp of 2020, and there are still less nonbinary celebrities than we can count on two hands; Jonathan Van Ness, Sam Smith, Asia Kate Dillon, Tommy Dorfman, Amandla Stenberg, Lachlan Watson and Ruby Rose being the main examples. Its a strong reminder that identifying as nonbinary was most definitely not a thing we really knew or thought about back in 2010, despite versions of the term like two-spirit in Indigenous North American communities or X-gender in Japan being around for a while. In fact, they/ and them pronouns were onlyadded to the dictionary assingular, non-gender-specific in September 2019.
Nonbinary people will know well the eternal agony of trying to have their they/ them pronouns respected by people who are slow to grasp or just unwilling to learn. But on a wider scale, even some of the most so-called progressive countries in the world when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights and gender equality are not embracing the legislation or social changes required to actually recognise nonbinary peoples existence. Countries like The Netherlandsand Swedenhave all fallen behind in pan-European rankings on LGBTQ+ rights, failing to show progress in termsof howgender is legally recognised.
Yet, the fact that more and more people are identifying as nonbinary in the public eye or otherwise is slowly eroding the conception that everyone falls into one of two gender categories. Merriam-Webster recently reported that searches for they increased by 313% in 2019 on 2018, meaning that more people are looking into its meaning.
In spite of a hostile climate fortrans and gender-nonconforming people right now, the work nonbinary people and their allies are doing to dismantle the gender binary and the stereotypes that come with it will change the way that we think about gender in the 2020s in ways that we cant yet imagine.
Trending around 2016, adulting makes the list of words that changed the way we see ourselves because, despite the fact you may not have actually heard it, or if you did, you probably found it incredibly annoying, it sadly encapsulates the generation that came of age or rather didnt in the 2010s.
According to some definitions, adulting meant holding down a nine to five job or saving up for a mortgage. So, you know, doing traditionally adult things. But it was also used to describe the more silly cultural signifiers of adulthood, like having a supply of wrapping paper in your house. Or else just really banal life things, like cooking dinner and doing your washing. The fact that adulting needed to exist as a phrase at all was telling: growing up was no longer a given, but something we needed a stupid neologism for.
Post-2008 recession, we saw a continued shift back in the West, at least of the age at which people could afford to buy a house, get married and viably have kids. The proliferation of convenient apps for everything, like Deliveroo or Uber, infantilised us while giving us a new way to waste the small amount of money wed never be able to do much with anyway, while the rise of dating apps like Tinder and Hinge made it feel less like there was a One andinstead quite possibly many.
Demographers have always placed us in generational categories. But it feels like we became increasingly obsessed with doing it for ourselves in the 2010s
We were no longer hitting our life markers, no longer meeting a life partner at 18 and settling down at 21, as per the now bizarre seeming old standard. Adulting described a group of economically challenged and emotionally stilted people, simultaneously broke (at least compared to their parents) and yet spoiled for choice.
Demographers have always placed us in generational categories. But it feels like we became increasingly obsessed with doing it for ourselves in the 2010s. (See quintessentially millennial TV shows like Girls and viral phrases like OK boomer.) Adulting was in some ways born out of this obsession. But it didnt take us long to feel grossed out by how twee, middle class, and according to some people, sexist the phrase was. Maybe it was just too on the nose.
Or perhaps, ironically, we just outgrew it; Gen Z, supposedly more self-aware than Gen Y, know better than to think cooking yourself dinner is anything to be particularly proud of, especially when the world is burning.
The phrase toxic masculinity has been around for a few decades, but the 2010s was the era that the media really picked it up as a kind of catch-all term that speaks to the social pressures put on men to be aggressive, dominant or competitive. Its a phrase that defined the decade because of the #metoo movement, because of men like Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein.
But you dont have to be an (alleged) rapist to be a solid example of what toxic masculinity can look like (however studies have found that sexist attitudes do lead to sexual violence). Some other examples are also quintessential 2010s buzzwords: mansplaining, gaslighting, and in the extreme, incel culture, incels being involuntary celibates: men who feel rejected by women so seek out revenge.
When Gillette made an advert about toxic masculinity in January 2019, the response and backlash it received showed divisions over the idea of dismantling toxic masculinity. Some praised the advert as groundbreaking, arguing that the pressures of toxic masculinity weighed so heavy on men that theyre probably contributing to high rates of male suicide in Britain and America. Others said that the video simply reinforced the idea that men are all violent thugs or abusers, while Mens Rights Activists argued that men should be men, and act how they want.
The debate took a real dive when certain women waded in to defend men, like Meryll Streep, who claimed that we hurt our boys by calling something toxic masculinity. Women can be pretty fucking toxic Its toxic people. Ok, so that might have one small strain of truth, but this is also the woman who wore a T-shirt that said Id rather be a rebel than a slave and told the Berlin film festival were all Africans really. Two real low points of the 2010s.
How could a list of the words that made the 2010s be complete without snowflake? It was 2016 when Brett Easton Ellis famously used it to describe easily offended and overly entitled millennials, while he was defending an article written by an LA Weekly journalist about Sky Ferreiras sex appeal. Oh, little snowflakes, when did you all become grandmothers and society matrons, clutching your pearls in horror at someone who has an opinion about something, a way of expressing themselves thats not the mirror image of yours, you snivelling little weak-ass narcissists? he asked wryly.
The same year, snowflake was named a word of the year, and we got a lengthy analysis in the book I Find That Offensive! by Claire Fox, which asked, how did we become so thin-skinned?
As much as theyd probably love to claim it, the snowflake conversation was much bigger than Ellis and Fox. Remember no-platforming? It was the argument about free speech that peaked back in 2014, when a speaker making pro-Israel comments was booed off stage at Galway University, and in 2015, when students at Cardiff University tried to stop Germaine Greer appearing in a debate, due to transphobic comments she had made in the past.
Quickly, someone came up with broflake: when a man gets upset by progressive attitudes that dont align with his more conservative views
The idea, a simple one, was not to give a stage to hate speech and especially not to let it into spaces that were meant to be safe. But a lot of people considered this outright censorship, throwing cultural appropriation and trigger warnings into the same boat while they were at.
By 2017 snowflake contorted from a slur thrown at liberals by people on the right (and especially the alt-right) into a more general political insult, as people started to call Trump a snowflake. (Quickly, someone came up withbroflake: when a man gets upset by progressive attitudes that dont align with his more conservative views.)
Like a lot of the words of the 2010s, it lived and died quickly, as we soon found something else to argue about. But in many ways snowflake is a lightning rod for how the culture wars of the 2010s played out: a never-ending screaming match over who is allowed to say what and an ongoing competition over who was most offended. Heres to the 2020s!
Posted: at 9:44 am
December 17 2019, 12:01am,The Times
One day we will look back at the era of political correctness on Twitter and wonder why we took it all so seriously
Its almost six years since the worst day of Justine Saccos life. During a long trip from New York to South Africa she tweeted a few dumb jokes to her 170 Twitter followers about cucumber sandwiches, British peoples bad teeth, a fellow passengers BO. And, of course, the one everyone remembers: Going to Africa. Hope I dont get Aids. Just kidding. Im white! Then she got on the plane to Cape Town.
When her flight landed, she turned her phone on and discovered she was the number one trending topic in the world. Her tweet, which was pretty obviously a misjudged parody of racism, had been interpreted as racist. By a lot of people. Tens of thousands of them were calling for her to be
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Letter to the Editor, Dec. 17, 2019: Did Franklin have answer for seasonal greetings? – Richmond.com
Posted: at 9:44 am
Did Franklin have answer
for seasonal greetings?
Words of wisdom were in the recent Take It From The Tinkersons comic strip. In the first frame, two children are walking along the sidewalk and the girl comments, Saying Merry Christmas offends people who dont celebrate Christmas. The second frame continues with the boys reply, Really? Then just say Happy Holidays. In the next frame, she responds, Well, Happy Holidays offends the people who celebrate Christmas. In the final frame, the boy says, Wow. Adults ruin everything.
I think we all can agree with the kids in the comic strip. However, there might be a solution in an 1839 edition of a small book containing essays and letters by Ben Franklin. The book was found in a sale at the old Petersburg Library perhaps 50 years ago and, as I recall, sold for less than one dollar. Once in a while when bored, I read an essay or two.
Franklins unedited writings often include unfamiliar, obsolete words and ancient spelling. One observation that stuck in my head was his spelling of holiday. Franklin spelled it holyday. If nervous retailers and purveyors of anti-Christmas political correctness would consent to using Franklins all-inclusive spelling, the problem is solved. For his holyday spelling is applicable to both Christian and non-Christian religious observances. Happy Holydays!
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Posted: at 9:44 am
In spite of all the left-wing vultures flying around in hopes of finding some kind of road kill, I must put the jackass agenda aside and move on to my annual holiday greetings. (Yes, there are some insertions.) We, the United States, are benefitting record highs on may items, thanks to President Trump.
We are in a much better place today than the previous administration left us. One particular phrase that President Trump reintroduced is Merry Christmas instead of some other political saying that to them was deemed more fitting. (Obamas legacy.)
At this time of year we must thank our maker, God, for giving us the many freedoms that the radical left are trying to take away from us. I thank the framers of our Constitution. They were inspired to construct it for the good of all mankind (even the left).
So I am saying Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous new year to one and all.
I have no doubt that the year of 2020 will be a benefit to us all in spite of Satans (the far lefts) agenda. We, the United States of America, will be yet better off thanks to President Trump.
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The left has done nothing the last three years except to waste you precious tax dollars, and for what? An empty Christmas stocking you pin on the sofa in hopes for goodies you can really enjoy? How about a lump of coal. Ho ho ho. Merry Christmas and happy new year. No political correctness here. (Just reality).
Posted: at 9:44 am
We shape language as much as it shapes us. And it's constantly evolving.
The top 10 words and phrases that defined this past decade arent all necessarily new, but they did gain mainstream popularity, relevance, and acceptance between 2010-2019. To crown these winning terms, we consulted with a swath of experts, including internet linguist and author of Because Internet, Gretchen McCulloch; Ponoma College sociolinguist Nicole Holliday, as well as Dictionary.com's lexicographer Heather Bonikowski and senior research editor John Kelly.
Whether or not the following words and phrases and the many more they spawned over time (bolded throughout) have short or long lives after the decade, they certainly captured the ideas and phenomenons that ruled this moment in our zeitgeist.
Over the past decade the hashtag changed the way we use social media, launched revolutionary social movements, and bled into IRL vernacular.
Tech innovator Chris Messina first told Twitter it should use hashtags in 2007 to create "channels" people could use for discovery. The nascent social media platform reportedly told him "these things are for nerds," doubted they'd become much of a thing, but then eventually embraced them anyway in 2009. By 2010, not only did Instagram also start using hashtags but they became integral to organizing a number of social movements on Twitter, from the Arab Spring, the Tea Party, and later Occupy Wall Street.
Twitter helped sound the alarm on important global issues.
Image: vicky leta / mashable
That legacy continues to thrive to this day, with #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo leading to revolutionary social change because their message can spread online on a global scale. Hashtags and the activists behind them used this power to bring widespread awareness to phenomenons like police brutality and enthusiastic consent, making room for citizen journalism and (from the more cynical perspective) slacktivism.
But outside that monumental impact, hashtags forever changed the way we shared experiences and information online. They enabled real-time, live-blogging of breaking news, like that time some guy on Twitter accidentally broke the news of the Osama Bin Laden raid.
Ironically, hashtags also opened the door for Twitter Moments and Trending Topics, which similarly gather conversations around a single topic, but without relying on the hashtag to do so. The hashtag still has pull at the end of the decade, but there are new ways to lasso together our fast-paced online conversations, too.
Every generation needs a derisive label for their trendy young people.
The peace-loving boomers in the 1960s were called a bunch of long-haired no-good hippies. Millennials in the 2010s became the vintage flannel and skinny jean-wearing hipsters who fetishize retro-tech like polaroid cameras. They come in various subcategories, too, whether it's lumbersexual, normcore, or nerd.
Dictionary.com traces the word hipster back to "hepster," first used in the late 1930s in reference to an in-the-know (aka "hip") "person who is knowledgeable about or interested in jazz." That still aligns with our modern stereotypes of arrogant hipsters blindly following of-the-moment trends who were, like, totally into that alt indie-pop band before everyone else was. Apparently some scholars even speculate that "hipster" eventually became "hippie," before then coming back again.
Aside from millennials, hipsters are also closely associated with the phenomenon of gentrification. Affluent, usually white young people take over low-income neighborhoods, spiking up the cost of living and displacing the communities that were there before. That's why the "hipster coffee shop" has become a favorite strawman to deride liberal hypocrisy.
We were over hipster before everyone else was.
Image: vicky leta / mashable
According to Dictionary.com, the connotation that hipsters appropriate marginalized cultures was there early on, too, as evidenced by Norman Mailer's popular 1957 essay The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster.
The exact parameters for what a hipster even is changes depending on what's en vogue at any given moment. But one specific shift we're seeing at the end of the decade is the notion that all hipsters are millennials. After killing just about everything else, soon millennials will see the death of their own relevance as the target demographic, giving way instead to Generation Z.
The modern concept of an American culture war dates back to the early 90s. But the polarizing "battle lines" only truly seem to have solidified in the 2010s.
Perceived threats to one's race, gender, religious, and cultural identity are one of the only commonalities shared by both sides.
Generally-speaking, partisan politics used to be defined by economics. But the past decade saw a sharp rise in increasingly personal and identity-driven political divides. Identity politics doesn't just refer to its derogatory connotation of social justice warrior snowflakes advocating for cancel culture and political correctness (though that's part of it). The rise of the alt-right, modern white supremacy, and men's rights activists show how perceived threats to one's race, gender, religious, and cultural identity are one of the only commonalities shared by both sides.
In truth, definitive, hard facts about the culture war why it began (like online echo chambers), when it began, or even the exact nature of its existence are kind of impossible to determine in any level-headed manner while we're in the thick of it.
But what's undeniable is its impact on language, with each side forming its own set of distinct terminology: problematic, microaggressions, virtue signaling, toxicity, gaslighting, safe spaces, triggered, red pilled, Q-anon, incel. In a world of alternative facts, when even words like fake news coined for the specific purpose of trying to objectively measure our post-truth existence lose all meaning, it's hard to be sure of anything.
Throughout the decade, climate change deniers like President Donald Trump have been claiming that "they" (whoever the fuck "they" are) changed the name of environmental collapse from "global warming" to "climate change" because the earth isn't getting warmer.
He is wrong.
Scientists have pushed for the switch from global warming to climate change since 2005 because it more accurately describes the fuller scope of what's happening. Global warming is only one factor within the larger umbrella of climate change. Before even that, in politics the switch happened under none other than former President George W. Bush for more dubious reasons, with one memo suggesting it be used because climate change sounded "less frightening" than global warming.
They were actually right. Studies have shown people to be less responsive to the term climate change. That might be part of why the general public's adoption of the term has been much slower than the political and scientific communities. But it seems the general public has latched onto climate change more in recent years. Comparing the two terms using Google Search trends shows climate change has overtaken global warmings search popularity since 2015.
However, to offset some of the psychological disadvantages of climate change, the advocacy group Public Citizen urged people to retire climate change in lieu of "climate crisis," and notable publications like The Guardian have followed suit. The idea is to remain scientifically accurate while also bringing back the sense of urgency and need for action appropriate to the scale of the calamity. Climate strike was even Collins Dictionary's Word of the Year in 2019, since its usage shot up 100-fold from 2018 to 2019.
Still others encourage even more dire language, with teen activist Greta Thunberg preferring terms such as "climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency."
News alert: climate change isn't always warm.
Image: vicky leta / mashable
In his 1996 essay "Content is King," Bill Gates rightfully predicted how the internet would usher in a revolution in the way we think about, produce, supply, and monetize information and entertainment. With the hindsight of the 2010s, we can now say this bold title undersold exactly how radical that shift would be.
In the age of content creators, content marketing, #sponcon, influencers, vloggers, bloggers, streaming services, cinematic universes, and binge-watching, content isn't just king. It's everything from the peasants to our higher power.
Of course, people were blogging and vlogging basically since the internet's inception. But 2010 saw the first-ever Vidcon, an indication of content creation's growth and professionalization. With it came the idea that anyone can create content, proliferating the conceit of a personal brand, an acknowledgment that our online personas are curated ideals rather than our authentic selves.
While Netflix and Hulu launched their streaming services in 2007 and 2008, respectively, Netflix changed everything in 2013 with the release of its first slate of originals, including House of Cards. In 2019, we're still in the thick of the streaming wars, with old media mega-corporations like Disney only just now beginning to enter the fray.
Content is Prison.
Image: vicky leta / mashable
Alongside all that came the mainstreaming of expanded universes, a concept previously relegated to nerdy niches like comic books and fanfiction. But cultural phenomenons like Marvel and Game of Thrones gave way to the rise of IP (intellectual property) as the cash cow corporations feed with a never-ending stream of new content.
Content is the vague, ephemeral, yet omnipresent digital material that rules us all.
Internet culture obviously predates the 2010s (just ask AIM, Livejournal, and Tumblr). But what is new to the decade is a more complete interweaving of digital and pop culture. Digital culture became even more trendy, resulting in two distinct categories of people: those who know all the memes and are very online, or those who well... arent (aka locals).
As is to be expected, often this divide falls down the demographic lines of those who are "pre-internet" (adults before the web), "full-internet" (grew up alongside the web), and "post-internet" (born to a world ruled by the web). But the normalization of social media platforms made it so that following or not following the norms and memes of internetspeak is more of a choice now rather than predetermined by age.
Grandma can be very online if she wants to!
Image: vicky leta / mashable
For better or worse, the democratization of content creation on the internet also led to a blurring of lines between internetspeak and slang from marginalized groups. Some phrases like "on fleek" and "yaaas queen" have clear origins in black culture and queer drag culture respectively. Similarly "woke," "lit," and "throwing shade" all trace back to black culture, but following widespread generic online adoption theyre often deemed dead by the communities that originated them. Brands and influencers go on to make money by parroting them anyway, effectively whitewashing or pinkwashing their origins.
The question of whether the vast majority of internet slang should be considered cultural appropriation has no easy answer. But recognizing that the marginalized groups who popularize them are often quickly forgotten as the originators tells us a lot about the limits of a digital democracy.
In the 2010s, emoji became the most popular form of online gesture communication (though GIFs can serve a similar function as well). All that means is, in order to offset the lack of physical information we usually get from an IRL conversation, we started using symbolic images and icons.
From eggplants to prayer hands, the meanings of emoji took on a life of their own outside of just what each literally depicts. Some have even made it into IRL vocabulary, because we all know what "heart eyes" means when a friend asks if their outfit is cute.
And for that we're .
To reiterate, while most of the terms we're including in this section were coined decades ago by scholars, we're pointing to their popularization in the mainstream discourse outside of academia during the 2010s.
Inclusivity and intersectionality arrived in a big way on the mainstream stage during the 2018 Academy Awards, and not without some backlash. Much of their history and original meaning was lost in translation of their widespread adoption over the decade, leading some to criticize them as catch-all, meaningless buzzwords that lead to only superficial politically correct checklists.
Many wrongfully believe inclusivity and intersectionality can be used interchangeably.
New terms help give marginalized identities a voice.
Image: bob al-greene / mashable
Intersectionality specifically describes the often overlooked and unique discrimination experienced by people of multiple overlapping marginalized identities, like race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. It enables us to address the subtleties of colorism, or the need for nonbinary and genderqueer versions of Latin identifiers like Latinx, Afro-Latinx, and Chicanx
Inclusivity, on the other hand, is a more broadly applicable framework to ensure spaces and policies take all forms of identities into account to avoid discrimination and oppression. The past decade saw some promising linguistic growth around more widely-accepted inclusive language, with the American Psychological Associations official addition of the singular they/them and Merriam Webster naming the pronoun their Word of the Year in 2019.
Inclusivity allows us to call out TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) and bi-erasure, for example, or to encompass a fuller spectrum of gender and sexual identity with a +, as in LGBTQIA+.
Intersectionality, inclusivity, and online activism became the defining components of what some now call fourth-wave feminism. Often associated with the #MeToo, Time's Up, and Women's March movements, it focuses on addressing the systemic power imbalance embedded in issues like sexual harassment, body shaming, slut shaming, and rape culture.
Back in 2011, we could do little more than scoff at the liberal leaderless protest movement that occupied Wall Street for months. Yet by the end of the decade, it's become clear just how effective it was at not only bringing widespread but long-lasting awareness to the movement's core issues.
"We are the 99%.
In 2019 many of the slogans (the 1% and we are the 99%) and concepts (the corrupting force of money in politics and widening income inequality) popularized by Occupy Wall Street continue to take center stage in national conversations like Democratic primary debates.
The Occupy protests evolved and matured beyond their initially more anarchist messines, and now an "eat the rich" and "fuck you pay me" mentality rings out in certain corners of the internet with a regularity we couldn't have predicted nine years ago.
We didn't just rail against the injustices of old establishments throughout the 2010s, though.
While the rest of the country still languished in the consequences of the 2008 recession, Silicon Valley and startup culture saw exponential growth. Another piece of tech speak coined in the 1990s went on to take over in 2010s: disruptive innovation.
Everything from Uber (which beta launched in 2010), tablets (the iPad released in 2010), rise of the cloud (iCloud launched in 2011), the proliferation of smart devices utilizing it (aka the Internet of Things), and various dongles (popularized in 2013) to connect them changed our ways of life.
Disruption, uh, isn't always great
Image: Vicky leta /mashable
The sharing and gig economy took over so rapidly that laws and policies still have yet to catch up in any effective way. Internet privacy concerns finally became unignorable with the cloud, and the seedy underbelly of Big Data profiteering showed itself through Facebook. A framework to ensure people's right to be forgotten is only just starting to emerge.
In 2010, society-shattering tech began to feel more inescapable than inspiring. Its unstoppable influence and power led to a general disillusionment with the utopian ideals the tech industry pedaled about connecting in a digital democracy.
Weve been through a lot over the past ten years. But we made it! And we lacked no ingenuity in the words we used to describe the journey.