public relations

A Low Barr for President Trump

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. Attorney General William Barr speaks during his confirmation hearing at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., 16 January 2019. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It seems worth reminding of our American time and circumstance. Sometimes disbelief is not answered by asking, “How is this true?” but, rather, by considering environmental conditions within the range of observation; sometimes the question runs, “How is this not untrue?”

Those who marvel at the point of Mr. Barr’s private-sector memo denouncing the Mueller investigation being over four times longer than Attorney General Barr’s summary of an investigation he loathed should simply remember that a public attorney is still an attorney. We might well have our own opinions of turpitude and integrity vis à vis the Attorney General and the President he serves, but within the boundaries of what we might understand about Mr. Barr’s outlook, it is worth considering how the summary he released would fail to equal obstruction, misprision, or other such offense against either the law or his license to practice, and seek its meaning therein.

In the moment, the discourse seems almost as if we all saw the sleight coming, watched it happen right in front of us, yet pretend to believe it, anyway. It’s almost as if the years Americans spent watching and complaining about politicians, lawyers, and PR flaks splitting hairs and manipulating language, we are supposed to look upon this most bizarre circumstance as if such notions have never occurred to our tabula rasa innocence.

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Image note: U.S. Attorney General William Barr speaks during his confirmation hearing at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., 16 January 2019. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Capitalism Recovering Itself

[¡#zucked!]

Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., 10 April 2018. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

If the question is whether you want the lede or bottom line, well, it is Axios, and some days that pretty much makes the article. How about the headline: “Facebook stock has fully recovered from Cambridge Analytica scandal”.

What did anyone actually expect of capitalism? Of course Facebook stock has recovered. Public morality is also public relations, and that pretty much makes for the private limit. One thing about the Cambridge Analytica scandal is that it demonstrates just how valuable Facebook is to capitalists.

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Image note: Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., 10 April 2018. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Primack, Dan. “Facebook stock has fully recovered from Cambridge Analytica scandal”. Axios. 10 May 2018.

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)

(more…)

A Snapshot (Back to the Beholder)

#crisis | #WhatTheyVotedFor

The sun rises near the White House on Nov. 8, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

A snapshot from Associated Press:

While overseas, Trump’s longtime lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, joined a still-forming legal team to help the president shoulder the intensifying investigations into Russian interference in the election and his associates’ potential involvement. More attorneys with deep experience in Washington investigations are expected to be added, along with crisis communication experts, to help the White House in the weeks ahead.

“They need to quarantine this stuff and put the investigations in a separate communications operation,” said Jack Quinn, who served as White House counsel for President Bill Clinton.

During the Monica Lewinsky investigation, the Clinton White House brought on a dedicated group of lawyers and a created a separate media operation to handle investigation-related inquiries so they didn’t completely subsume the president’s agenda.

Trump, according to one person familiar with his thinking, believed he was facing more of a communications problem than a legal one, despite the intensifying inquiries. The person, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private conversations.

(more…)

Something

India Clarke, murdered 21 July 2015, in Tampa, Florida. Ms. Clarke's death is recorded as the tenth murder of a transgendered person in 2015. On 29 July 2015 the Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff's Office arrested a suspect, Keith Lamayne Gaillard, and charged him with First Degree Murder with a Firearm.

It’s … something.

The St. Petersburg Police Department is launching a new transgender sensitivity training program.

The training comes two months after a Tampa transgender woman’s murder, and law enforcement’s handling of it, captured national attention.

After 25-year-old India Clarke’s body was found in a Tampa park July 21, law enforcement identified her by the name and gender she was born with even though she had identified as female for years. Backlash from across the country followed, surfacing a discussion about how law enforcement handle the identities of transgender people.

(Associated Press)

We can’t have our friends and neighbors back. But, at the very least, we can have this little shard of decency, that we might wish the true selves of those we leave behind some manner of dignity in rest.

And we’ll take it, because that’s all we have left.

Her name was India Clarke. Please say it. Please, say her name.

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Image note: India Clarke, murdered 21 July 2015, in Tampa, Florida. Ms. Clarke’s death is recorded as the tenth murder of a transgendered person in 2015. On 29 July 2015 the Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff’s Office arrested a suspect, Keith Lamayne Gaillard, and charged him with First Degree Murder with a Firearm.

Associated Press. “St. Pete Officers to be Trained on Transgender Issues”. WTVJ. 7 September 2015.

Holden, Dominic. “Transgender Woman Of Color Killed In Tampa, Florida”. BuzzFeed. 22 July 2015.

A Geopolitical Public Relations Clusterbumble

Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 9, 2014, before the Senate Foreign Relations hearing on "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against IS." (Molly Riley/AP)

Sometimes there isn’t a joke to make. That is, we can’t even say the secret is out because it never really was a secret. Rather, it is a quiet gratification within the spectrum of grim news coming at us from all sides, and once again Americans are sort of late to the party:

Secretary of State John Kerry is a distinguished diplomat with impeccable manners — but that doesn’t mean he’s above lobbing a well-placed insult when it comes to enemies of the United States.

Kerry made clear earlier this week that he is committed to referring to the Islamic State as “Daesh,” a name that the group considers so degrading that it has threatened to kill anyone under Islamic State rule who uses it. The Islamic State’s opponents in the Muslim world have already embraced the name.

So, to the one, yes, as Akbar Shahid Ahmed explains for Huffington Post, them’s fightin’ words. Which is why others have dispensed with the whole ISIS/ISIL question. That is to say, really, this isn’t quite the same as when the Tea Party referred to themselves as “teabaggers”, but there is a similar aspect insofar as Daa’ish has apparently done this to themselves.

“Daesh” is an acronym for the Arabic phrase meaning the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” (though the last word can also be translated as “Damascus” or “Levant”), and it is thought to offend the extremist group because it sounds similar to an Arabic word for crushing something underfoot.

Daesh in Arabic “sounds like something monstrous. … It’s a way of stigmatizing [the Islamic State], making it something ugly,” Joseph Bahout, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The Huffington Post.

Appearing Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to discuss a new congressional authorization of military force, Kerry said the Obama administration sought an authorization “specifically against the terrorist group known as ISIL, though in the region is it called Daesh, and specifically because they believe very deeply it is not a state and it does not represent Islam.”

So, yeah. Keep up. This is about as much as we’re going to get for humor in war.

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Ahmed, Akbar Shahid. “Bye-Bye ‘ISIL’? John Kerry Calling ISIS By Arabic Term It Hates”. The Huffington Post. 11 December 2014.