denial

The Message in a Bullitt

[#rapeculture]

Detail of frame from Durarara!!!

The permeating sense of inevitability of Akela Lacy’s report for Politico

A Kentucky lawmaker died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on Wednesday evening after facing allegations that he molested a 17-year-old girl in 2012.

Dan Johnson, a Republican state representative, shot himself on the Greenwell Ford Road bridge in Mt. Washington, Kentucky, according to the Bullitt County coroner. The apparent suicide came after his Republican colleagues called for him to step down following reports that he assaulted a young woman on New Year’s Eve of 2012.

—is its own curious, unhelpful beast. The the former self-described “pope” of Heart of Fire, later elected to the Kentucky House, was accused after the incident several years ago, but police closed their investigation without charges. The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting spent seven months investigating the legislator, leading to a report Monday; on Tuesday, Rep. Johnson (R-KY49) denied the charges during a press conference.   (more…)

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What They Voted For: That Most Special of Interests

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Donald Trump speaks to South Carolina voters in North Charleston, 19 February 2016. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Who: Darren Samuelsohn (Politico)
What: “Trump’s kids to run businesses via ‘blind trust,’ Trump attorney says”
When: 10 November 2016

Politico offers the necessary context:

Donald Trump’s vast business holdings will be placed into a blind trust with his oldest three children in charge, according to the president-elect’s attorney.

Trump during his campaign faced questions about how he’d handle his business dealings and potential conflicts if he were to become president, saying repeatedly he’d separate himself from the company. And while his lawyer Thursday used the term “blind trust” when discussing the family’s upcoming financial arrangement, putting Trump’s children in charge of a set of assets that their father is aware of does not constitute a blind trust. Under the legal definition of a blind trust, a public official places his finances under the management of an independent party. The official would have no knowledge of what is in the trust or how it is managed. On CNN, Cohen conceded Trump would have a difficult time satisfying critics who continue to raise doubts about their plans.

(Samuelsohn; boldface accent added)

This is how Trump voters and supporters will work around the cognitive dissonance of cronyism and nepotism in their ostensibly anti-corruption, anti-cronyist, anti-Establishment, anti-institutional figurehead: Ego defense. Redefining terms like nepotism and cronyism in order to exclude what one desperately wishes to protect requires some manner of neurotic complex; there is no precise classification for cravenly making it up as you go, so denial and suppression cannot in themselves suffice, as it is not so straightforward. There is some pretense of intellectualization and rationalization, but scrambling to justify post hoc projection and displacement―while flailing into concomitant secondary denial about whatever prior sentiments and processes one is replacingα―is neither intellectual nor rational.

(more…)

The Donald Trump Show (Rulz)

Real estate mogul Donald Trump announces his bid for the presidency in the 2016 presidential race during an event at the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York City on 16 June 2015. Trump, one of America's most flamboyant and outspoken billionaires, threw his hat into the race Tuesday for the White House, promising to make America great again. The 69-year-old long-shot candidate ridiculed the country's current crop of politicians and vowed to take on the growing might of China in a speech launching his run for the presidency in 2016. "I am officially running for Prsident of the United States and we are going to make our country great again," he said from a podium bedecked in US flags at Trump Tower on New York's Fifth Avenue. The tycoon strode out to the strains of "Rockin' in the Free World" by Canadian singer Neil Young after being introduced by his daughter Ivanka. His announcement follows years of speculation that the man known to millions as the bouffant-haired host of American reality TV game show "The Apprentice" would one day enter politics. Trump identifies himself as a Republican, and has supported Republican candidates in the past. But in this announcement speech he did not say explicitly if he was running for the party's nomination or as an independent. (Photo credit: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty)

This is not something we should find surprising:

Donald Trump’s campaign is still soliciting illegal donations from foreign individuals―including members of foreign governments at their official email addresses―weeks after the campaign was put on notice by watchdog groups.

Foreign members of parliament from the United Kingdom and Australia confirmed to The Hill that they received fundraising solicitations from the Trump campaign as recently as July 12―two weeks after a widely publicized FEC complaint issued on June 29 by non-partisan watchdogs Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center.

(Swan and Neidig)

Or, rather, we might simply say it sounds about right.

Because even if we somehow might set aside, just for a moment, the magnitude of the Donald Trump spectacle―you know, the whole denial and disbelief part―there remains a question of just how Donald Trump’s exponential boorishness and pointed disdain for general decency should surprise us.

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Image note: Donald Trump announces his candidacy for the Republican 2016 presidential nomination at Trump Tower in New York City, 16 June 2015. (Photo credit: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty)

Swan, Jonathan and Harper Neidig. “Trump campaign solicits illegal foreign donations despite warnings”. The Hill. 16 July 2016.

The Beltway Buzz (Season of Despair)

A coffee cup at Terra Vista. Detail of photo by B. D. Hilling, 2013.

Two paragraphs from Shawn Zeller of Roll Call would seem to beg a particular question:

Republican aides are growing increasingly despondent about their party’s prospects in the 2016 presidential election, according to CQ Roll Call’s most recent Capitol Insiders Survey.

A majority of the GOP staffers who responded to the April survey now expect either Donald Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to win the party’s nomination and nearly half of them―a solid plurality―think the Republican nominee will lose.

That is to say: A plurality? What do you mean “nearly half”? Who the hell are the rest, and what the hell are they thinking?

Taking the White House: "The next president will be …".  Results based on CQ Roll Call Capitol Insiders Survey, 19-26 April.  (Image: Randy Leonard/CQ Roll Call)The answer is actually pretty straightforward: Denial.

Say what we will about the thirty-one percent of GOP respondents to the CQ Roll Call Capitol Insiders Survey who actually think a Republican candidate will win; between those who so loathe Hillary Clinton as to not see straight, those who hope the Party will find another nominee somewhere, and those who for whatever reason really believe Donald Trump or Ted Cruz can win the election, sure, I can believe thirty-one percent.

The forty-nine percent of GOP respondents who said a Democrat will be the next president would seem to be the realists.

That nineteen percent opting for, “I don’t know”, however, is simply in denial.

(more…)

The Chris Christie Show (Epilogue)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), at left, joins Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump during a press event at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on Super Tuesday, 1 March 2016.  Christie, who suspended his own presidential campaign in February, has been widely ridiculed for endorsing Trump.

“Christie perhaps fancied himself as Trump’s VP or attorney general. If he did, he was not thinking clearly. To begin with, it is less and less likely with each passing day that Trump will ever become president. Moreover, Christie himself has so soiled his reputation that it is doubtful he would ever be confirmed for a Cabinet post.”

Jennifer Rubin

It is true, of course, Jennifer Rubin is one I pick on. It is also true the right-wing blogger, perhaps for the sake of having a Washington Post credential, sometimes turns up on the editorial page of a local newspaper here or there, and this aspect of reality can actually be problematic. On other days, something about easy entertainment goes here. Or something like that. To wit, Tacoma readers got this bit of analysis on Tuesday:

Since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has endorsed Donald Trump, he has been:

• Humiliated by video showing Trump ordering him onto the plane and telling him to “go home.”

• Condemned by his former finance co-chair Meg Whitman. (“The governor is mistaken if he believes he can now count on my support, and I call on Christie’s donors and supporters to reject the governor and Donald Trump outright. I believe they will. For some of us, principle and country still matter.”)

• Excoriated for his disastrous TV interview on Sunday. Phrases like “train wreck,” “off the rails” and “disaster” were used to describe his appearance.

Rubin is at her best when addressing conservatives about Republican politics, which in turn sounds reasonable enough; her purpose in posing as some manner of journalist is to help Republicans get elected, and her invocation of a fairly obvious title, “Chris Christie is now ruined”, is the sort of thing we might quibble with only to wonder at the word “now”.

(more…)

A Note on Screeching Panicked Incoherence

Pino ... detail of frame from Ergo Proxy.

“Who thinks it’s a hard decision if some faggot wants you to make them a wedding cake? Anyone struggling with that right now?”

Pastor Steven Anderson

Yeah, so, when it comes to baiting hooks, yeah, that really did seem the quote to get you to stop, blink, and want to click the link to Curtis M. Wong’s report for Huffington Post.

And in a way, it seems one of the more difficult articles Mr. Wong has had to write, as its narrative is just a tumbling sense of, and then, and then, and then .... But we really shouldn’t blame the reporter for this; the homophobic narrative is well into its screeching panicked incoherence phase, and Pastor Anderson is one of the louder divas in the room. He hates women. He hates gays. And now he’s looking to pick fights with other Christians over who’s more Christian. And all because he can’t look himself in the mirror and admit the truth.

Here’s a tip for the office betting pool, if you have one: Reaction formation symptomatic of denial.

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Image note: Pino―Detail of frame from Ergo Proxy.

Wong, Curtis M. “Arizona Pastor Steven Anderson Claims Anti-Gay Businesses Are ‘Destroying America’ By ‘Being Too Nice’ To LGBT Customers”. The Huffington Post. 12 May 2015.

The Logic of Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL05)

Chris Hayes discusses immigration reform with Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL05), who cannot explain why he thinks President Obama, out of several presidents who undertook the issue within executive purview, is the only one who ever broke the law in doing so.  On Hayes' msnbc show, "All In" (21 Nov. 2014), the Alabama congressman was incapable of even recognizing that President Ronald Reagan had granted amnesty to undocumented immigrants.

Any number of questions come to mind. There are the humorous musings about whether we might include political conservatism under the spectrum of disorders and disabilities requiring reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. And, yes, that sounds cruel for any number of reasons; first, let us clear up that yes, one of the problems with such a joke is that it trivializes much more established and objective disabilities; but then we might also point out that we are already bending over backwards to accommodate delusional behavior from many Republicans, and yes, there are mental health issues that land squarely within the ADA.

Denial can be a powerful emotional response, can’t it? If the right believes President Obama’s economic policies have failed, and they’re confronted with evidence of a falling unemployment rate, then there must be a conspiracy involving the jobless numbers. If the right believes Benghazi conspiracies are real, and they’re confronted with proof to the contrary, then the proof must be rejected.

But on Friday’s “All in with Chris Hayes,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) took this to a whole new level.

Brooks, you’ll recall, believes President Obama’s executive actions on immigration may be criminal acts that could land the president in prison. With this in mind, Chris asked a good question: “When President Reagan granted deferred action from 200,000 people from El Salvador who come here illegally, was he breaking the law in the same way?” It led to this exchange:

BROOKS: I have not examined what Bill Clinton did. This is a very serious manner. The Constitution imposes a heavy burden on us–

HAYES: No, no, no, I’m sorry. President Ronald Reagan. President Ronald Reagan, sir?

BROOKS: I think the individual facts are important, the mental intent of the actor. That case, Bill Clinton, now Barack Obama, those factors are important.

It really is a smooth evasion. He does not even try to deflect the point, just moves past it as if it doesn’t exist. One wonders how much calculation and practice goes into that maneuver, or if it is just pathological.

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Benen, Steve. “Mo Brooks and the power of denial”. msnbc. 24 November 2014.

Hayes, Chris. “Rep. Mo Brooks: Obama encouraging illegal immigration”. All In with Chris Hayes. msnbc. 21 November 2014.

A Note About Rape Culture

Bill Cosby performing in Melbourne, Fla., on Friday, 21 November 2014. (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Marc Lamont Hill offers a useful primer on the idea of rape culture:

Over the past few weeks, new attention has been paid to longstanding allegations that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted multiple women over the course of his career. As new information and accusers are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.

By “rape culture,” I refer to the ways that our society and its institutions normalize, promote, excuse, and enable sexual violence against men and women. While I cannot definitively say that Cosby is guilty of the crimes of which he is accused, the conversation about him epitomizes some of the most pernicious aspects of rape culture.

There are reasons assertions of rape culture are controversial, and it is important to recognize the two primary drivers of objections to the concept of rape culture are pride and, well, it would sound weird to say “capitalism”, and that isn’t quite right, but it has to do with opportunity and reward.

In the first place, rape culture isn’t something to be proud of; our contributions to such outcomes are often conditioned behavior, and in the end, even if we carry conscious misogyny, it is not like we would admit we have wrong ideas. Nobody enjoys self-indictment.

The second is the idea of a marketplace hungry for comfort. And this downright sounds silly until one pauses to consider the idea of men’s rights advocacy, and the basic controversy about what that phrase actually means. Paul Constant of The Stranger reminded earlier this year that there are fewer of these types than we tend to imagine, but “those few activists are exactly as terrible as you think”.

He referred to an event in Michigan earlier this year, the first “International Conference on Men’s Issues”, and for those hoping that such a gathering might produce something more than the usual misogyny we hear from this manner of asserting men’s rights, well, more fool you. Or, perhaps, in the context of a marketplace hungry for comfort:

The crowd broke out in laughter when one speaker suggested most alleged rapes on college campuses are fabricated.

“The vast majority of female students allegedly raped on campus are actually voicing buyer’s remorse from alcohol-fueled promiscuous behavior involving murky lines of consent on both sides,” said Barbara Kay, a columnist for Canada’s National Post. “It’s true. It’s their get-out-of-guilt-free card, you know like Monopoly.”

† † †

Janet Bloomfield, an anti-feminist blogger and spokeswoman for the conference, has suggested in the past that the age of consent be reduced to 13 because of a “mistake of age” can get unwitting men in trouble.

“The point being that it can be incredibly difficult to know, just by looking at someone, how old they are,” Bloomfield wrote, calling some teenage girls “fame whores.” Bloomfield also called protesters of the event, “Wayne State cunts.”

In a marketplace society, you can always find someone willing to sell what other people want. One of the foremost purveyors of what this market wants to hear is Wendy McElroy who wrote earlier this year:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and it will be used to promote a big lie — namely, that we live in a “rape culture.”

Such an approach is not helpful, especially when it relies entirely on fallacy:

The idea that America is a rape culture is a particularly vicious big lie, because it brands all men as rapists or rape facilitators. This lie has been successful despite reality.

And there you have it. To the one, no national culture is monolithic; to the other, the only person asserting that “America is a rape culture” would be Ms. McElroy, in the course of building a windmill to tilt.

(more…)

An Appeal

I think, therefore you are.

I need to step out of any pretense of character, but it is most important to stress that this is not supposed to be about me.

If you have five minutes to spare, I would ask that you take a bit over four and a half of them to watch Rachel Maddow’s report and commentary about the shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. There is a bit to take in, but the segment includes a point about readiness, and regardless of what you think about how Maddow makes the point—I’m aware many just flat don’t like what she has to say, or how she says it, and so on—the key word is readiness.

Geographic proximity is always a bit rattling when these atrocities occur. And this time it was really close; my daughter does not attend Marysville schools, but that is beside the point. The only reason the two-town hop to Marysville seems like a long drive is because traffic through Everett is often plain obnoxious.

But this is not about fear. This is just the horror and revulsion, and yes, it seems a fairly reliable human behavior that proximity increases the magnitude of those sickening sensations. Let that say what it will.

But this is where it gets weird.

There are a handful of people in this area for whom this was the second jolt in a week.

Nobody died, but this was Wednesday for anyone who reads The Stranger, a weekly newspaper in Seattle:

Who the fuck calls in a bomb threat at GeekGirlCon?

And then one might wonder, “I’m sorry, what? How is it only now that I’m hearing about this?”

For BoingBoing readers, the news came a day earlier:

I didn’t feel safe going into GeekGirlCon. Hours earlier, Game developer Brianna Wu had tweeted about the threats she’d received, about calling the police, about sleeping somewhere else.

Just thinking about it made it hard to sleep. The next day, I was almost late to game critic Anita Sarkeesian’s opening panel, and was one of the last to be let in. There had been a bomb threat, of course, though we wouldn’t know about it until afterwards. They searched our bags.

Either way, there are a few people who experienced a very strange silence in their chests: My daughter was there, damn it!

And it is possible to skip denial, fleeing desperately into rationalization. It is not mine to suggest the threat was treated lightly. True, #GamerGate and its merry miscreant tagalongsα have yet to actually muster the will to follow through on their threats, but that really is not a fate worth tempting. It is enough to know the issue was handled well by conference personnel and local law enforcement. Something about readiness probably goes here.

In the end, it is tempting to skip anger according to the principle of whether it is really worth it to waste the energy of being angry.

Which in turn would seem to leave but a few basic questions that one might dare hope would have some useful purpose:

• What, exactly, is going on here?

• Why is this happening?

• How is this happening?

• What needs to happen in order to change what is happening?

• Please?

The worst thing that could happen now is that we don’t learn anything.

This is going to keep happening. What are we going to do about that?

Please?

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α The dust that followed the dog that followed the horse they rode in on.

Broom, Jack. “Wounded girls identified in Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting”. The Seattle Times. 25 October 2014.

Maddow, Rachel. “Gun-wielding student shocks Washington school”. The Rachel maddow Show. 24 October 2014.

Anonymous. “You Can’t Keep a GeekGirl Down”. The Stranger. 22 October 2014.

Dieker, Nicole. “GeekGirlCon is an oasis of acceptance”. BoingBoing. 21 October 2014.