pretense

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 Blind Chaos of Futility

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. President Donald Trump pauses as he talks to members of the travel pool aboard Air Force One during a trip to Palm Beach, Florida, while flying over South Carolina, 3 February 2017. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

Somewhere between the joke about how conservatives in general cannot tell the difference, particular observations about the breathtaking naïveté we are supposed to believe about the Trump administration—

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Thursday dodged questions about the existence of possible recordings of conversations between President Trump and former FBI Director James Comey.

Kellyanne Conway speaks at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 4 March 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)“I can’t comment on that,” Conway said on Fox News before moving to discuss other portions of Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier in the day.

Pressed twice more about the existence of possible tapes, Conway responded, “I can’t comment on that and actually the president himself has said he won’t comment any further on that.”

(Byrnes)

—we might find echoes of Sen. Martin Heinrich’s (D-NM) point to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats when the latter decided he simply did not feel like answering: “You realize how simple it would be to simply say no, that never happened?”

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What They Voted For: Swamp

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump answers a question during the third presidential debate at University of Nevada Las Vegas, 19 October 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Who: Christina Flom (Roll Call)
What: “Rand Paul on Bolton Appointment: ‘Heaven Forbid'”
When: 15 November 2016

Roll Call brings us up to speed:

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul says that President-elect Donald Trump appointing former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton to his Cabinet would be a major step toward breaking his promise of “changing America’s disastrous foreign policy.”

Rumors that Trump is considering Bolton as Secretary of State prompted Paul to write an op-ed in Rare.us, calling Bolton “part of failed elite that Trump vowed to oppose” ....

.... Paul said no man “is more out of touch” with the Middle East than Bolton and that Bolton is unable to see the mistakes he has made.

“All nuance is lost on the man,” Paul wrote. “The fact that Russia has had a base in Syria for 50 years doesn’t deter Bolton from calling for all out, no holds barred war in Syria. For Bolton, only a hot-blooded war to create democracy across the globe is demanded.”

This is one of those interesting things Republicans do to themselves. The Kentucky also-ran is not without a point, but he’s also Rand Paul, and this is Donald Trump’s Republican Party, now. There really isn’t anything surprising happening, which is a strange thing considering it’s happening at all. Still, though, as Donald Trump continues to undermine pretty much every allegedly respectable reason anyone might have offered in defense of their vote, we should remember that it always was about supremacism and lulz.

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¿Normalization?

Naota (at right), tugs on the electrical cable rectally feeding a sex toy designed to look like his father (bottom), while MiuMiu the cat catches some rays. (FLCL episode 4, 'Full Swing')

This is a sentence that ought to thrill hearts: “America may be closer to a post-gay state of politics than most realize”. Alex Roarty’s report for Roll Call either begs certain questions or else desecrates them; matters of perspective abide.

The St. Jerome Fancy Farm Picnic is an annual showcase for Kentucky’s top politicians to give (they hope) a funny, sharp-elbowed speech at the other party’s expense. While they speak, hundreds of loud-mouthed partisans are encouraged to yell and scream as loudly as they can―as if the American political id was caged in a small pavilion two hours from a major airport.

U.S. Senate candidate Jim Gray (D) speaks the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Kentucky, on Saturday, 6 August 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)“I want to introduce myself to Sen. McConnell,” he said, looking over to the Senate majority leader seated a few feet away, who minutes earlier had given his own speech. The Republicans, whose voices drowned out the sound of nearby thunder, chanted “Go away Gray!”

The candidate continued: “He earlier called me a ‘nobody.’ Well, let me introduce myself, senator. I am Jim Gray, and I am the guy who is going to beat Rand Paul.”

What went unnoticed this recent Saturday afternoon was that Gray was probably first openly gay person to speak at Fancy Farm. Records aren’t easy to come by for something that began in 1880, but veterans of the event say they can’t recall an openly gay speaker.

This is how Gray’s campaign has gone: He’s making history, and nobody seems to notice. Or, for that matter, care.

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Republican Justice (Maybe Mix)

Contemplation of Justice

Steve Benen, after reviewing the appalling stupidity of the Republican pitch against confirming a Supreme Court nominee, including their reaction to the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, found himself adding a postscript:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who just last week explicitly urged Obama to nominate Garland, said in a statement this morning that Garland’s nomination “doesn’t in any way change current circumstances” – which is to say, Hatch still supports his party’s blockade.

However, Hatch also added this morning, “I’d probably be open to resolving this in the lame duck.” Keep a very close eye on this, because it may prove to be incredibly important. As things stand, Senate Republicans don’t intend to reject Garland, so much as they plan to ignore him. His nomination won’t be defeated; it’ll simply wither on the vine.

But if Republicans fare poorly in November’s elections, don’t be too surprised if GOP senators declare, “Well, now that voters have had their say, we’re prepared to confirm Garland after all.”

The msnbc producer and blogger advises readers to, “File this away for future reference”, and it behooves us to do so. One of the blessings facing pretty much any president seeking a new Supreme Court justice, and especially Democrats as such these days, is that there is a plethora of qualified candidates. In the end, given all else, one wonders if perhaps the “moderate, inoffensive, broadly respected, 63-year-old white guy” is actually the sacrificial lamb.

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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.