confusion

The Business Model (Social Distortion)

[#SinCity]

Ninamori eats a popsicle. (Detail of FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet')

This is the rule: You are not allowed to feel surprised at the state of things.

We’ve arrived at the sad, dumb point in history at which the only thing less surprising than acts of mass violence are the ways in which our planet’s mega information distributors muck everything up with ensuing frauds, hoaxes, and confusion. The problem is thoroughly identified: Facebook, Google, and, to a lesser extent, Twitter have the quality control of a yard sale and the scale of a 100,000 Walmarts. But despite all our railing and shaming, these companies have a major disincentive to reform: money.

In the wake of yet another American massacre, this time in Las Vegas, media scrutiny is aimed once more at Facebook, Google, and Twitter, for the same old reasons. The sites, time after time, and this time once more, served up algorithmic links to websites peddling deliberate lies and bottom-feeder misinformation. These companies provided an untold mass of online users with falsehoods posing as news resources, as is completely normal now and only noteworthy because it was pegged to a heinous national tragedy. The discussion will now swing from “This is bad” to “What can be done?”, and we can expect all the typically empty pro forma reassurance from Silicon Valley public relations offices. Don’t expect much more.

(Biddle)

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The Donald Trump Show (Confiscate the Guns)

Donald Trump: "I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically, you understand, you have to have, in my opinion, I see what's going on here, I see what's going on in Chicago, I think stop-and-frisk. In New York City it was so incredible, the way it worked. Now, we had a very good mayor, but New York City was incredible, the way that worked, so I think that could be one step you could do." (Photo: Carlo Allegri/Reuters, 2016)

“When Trump recently told African-American communities, ‘What do you have to lose?’ he neglected to mention the answer: Fourth Amendment rights.”

Steve Benen

Or, more specifically:

At a Fox News event this week, Donald Trump seemed to endorse taking “stop-and-frisk” policies to a national level to address urban crime. “I would do stop-and-frisk,” the Republican said. “I think you have to. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically.”

Of course, what Trump doesn’t seem to understand is that stop-and-frisk didn’t work “incredibly well” at all, and when challenged in the courts, the policy was ruled unconstitutional.

When Trump recently told African-American communities, “What do you have to lose?” he neglected to mention the answer: Fourth Amendment rights.

Nor is the punch line the whole of it. The msnbc producer continues:

Trump, who’s never demonstrated any real understanding of criminal-justice policy, apparently likes the idea of police being able to stop-and-frisk Americans―including those who’ve done nothing wrong and have been accused of no crimes―effectively at the discretion of individual officers. If the police find a gun, under Trump’s vision, it will be taken away.

In other words, the NRA’s favorite presidential candidate―the Republican who’s benefiting from millions of dollars in NRA campaign money and claims to be a great champion of the Second Amendment―is on board with a policy in which government officials approach random American pedestrians and confiscate their firearms without due process.

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The Ted Cruz Show (Preposterous Pretense)

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) during the Reuters Washington Summit in Washington, October 24, 2013. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

I assume Cruz knows this, but the more he talks about ‘mandatory gay marriage,’ the more I’m inclined to remind him that he probably means ‘voluntary gay marriage.’

Steve Benen

This is what we call E for Effort, but don’t let that be a dig; it really is difficult to make heads or tails of what conservatives mean. This is sort of a confusing issue for them, and it seems that is how they like it.

There was, for instance, the amicus brief from Same-Sex Attracted Men and Their Wives, submitted for consideration in Obergefell, that fretted about a “constitutional mandate requiring same-sex marriage”, and the idea of “Constitutionally mandating same-sex marriage”. By the time we get to Pat Robertson’s bestial-anal rape fantasy―“You are going to say you like anal sex, you like oral sex, you like bestiality, you like anything you can think of, whatever it is”―it is unclear what, if anything, remains to be said.

Well, other than the obvious, which is to wonder what the hell these people are talking about.

But Mr. Benen does, between failed valiant attempts to take Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) seriously, manage to make the obvious point:

The only “mandatory” aspect of this is that the notion that the law would be required to treat all Americans equally. It would be “mandatory” that there are no second-class citizens.

This is what we must remember, though: The confusion is the point.

It is just harder to sell the fear of “mandatory gay marriage” if people take the mandate for what it really is: You got married, so now you’re married.

You don't want the ark to sink - Lebanon gives advice to Suou.  Detail of frame from Gemini of the Meteor, episode 4, 'The Ark Adrift on the Lake'.It is not that this is somehow hard for conservatives to understand; rather, they need it to seem hard to understand. The only confusion is that which they pretend, or, as some circumstances might have it―Same-Sex Attracted Men and Their Wives amici, I’m looking in your direction―actually genuinely suffer for whatever deceptions they have inflicted upon themselves.

This sort of seemingly incomprehensible incomprehension is actually pretty straightforward, depending on how deeply one wishes to delve. It is ego defense, nothing more, nothing less. They don’t like what is mandatory, but it is kind of inherently mandatory. So they need the idea of what is mandatory to be kind of scary. So they pretend to be kind of confused about what is mandatory, and then they manage to confuse themselves. This is actually something people do to themselves quite regularly, regardless of political orientation.

In the question of the Republican Party and its desperate, evangelical wing, there does remain a question as to whether or not such failures of healthy psychological function should present themselves as so consuming. That is to say, sure, it’s one thing to have one’s dysfunctional moments, but shouldn’t your part in the public discourse have something more to it than just a neurotic tumbleweed?

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Image note: Top―Sen. Ted Cruz during the Reuters Washington Summit, 24 October 2013 (Photo: Jim Bourg/Reuters) Left―”You don’t want the ark to sink.” Lebanon gives some advice to Suou. Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 4, “The Ark Adrift on the Lake”.

Benen, Steve. “Cruz warns of ‘mandatory’ same-sex marriage”. msnbc. 18 May 2015.