satire

The Difference ‘Twixt Republicans and Government

#theUnion | #WhatTheyVotedAgainst

It is so easy to miss these little moments amid the cacophony. Steve Benen brought us this episode, eariler this month:

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attempts to demonstrate the difference between government and the Republican health care agenda during a daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., 7 March 2017. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)Apparently, the point is that the Republicans’ proposal, panned by practically everyone who isn’t an elected GOP official, is better – because it’s shorter. This was Spicer’s exact quote to reporters:

“People who have concerns about this, especially on the right, look at the size. This [puts hand on tall pile of paper] is the Democrats’; this [puts hand on short pile of paper] is us. There is, you can’t get any clearer, in terms of this [puts hand on tall pile of paper] is government; this [puts hand on short pile of paper] is not.”

Please note, this wasn’t a joke. Spicer wasn’t kidding around. In 2017, the chief spokesperson for the president of the world’s dominant superpower argued, in all seriousness, that the merit of a national health care plan can be measured in part by page numbers.

There really is something to the idea that the presidency of Donald Trump marks the arrival proper of internet culture in American society; usually this point takes the form of reflections on trolling, flaming, and people who like lulz. This is different. This has something to do with an idea called Poe’s Law, which pertains to the written word and, for instance, emoticons. The idea is that there arises a threshold at which, without some manner of hint or cue, it becomes impossible to discern ‘twixt satire and genuine representation. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer trying to illustrate the difference between the Republican agenda for government and actual government slouches toward this dark and nebulous quarter.

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Image note: White House Press Secretary attempts to demonstrate the difference between government and the Republican health care agenda during a daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., 7 March 2017. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Benen, Steve. “By pointing to piles of paper, Spicer makes the worst argument of all”. msnbc. 7 March 2017.

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The Myth of Donald (Propacanada)

#trumpswindle | #mythopoesis

Donald Trump speaks at the John Wayne Museum, in Winterset, Iowa, 19 January 2016. (Detail of photo by Tannen Maury/epa/Corbis.)

Who: HealthCarewatcher (Daily Kos)
What: “CNN Just Reported Fake News on Justin Trudeau as Fact”
When: 15 November 2016

Via Daily Kos:

It has arrived. Nutty right wing propaganda has now been reported as fact on CNN. While watching Anderson Cooper 360, they did a story on World Leaders response to Trump. They reported as fact the following claim:

“Canadian President Justin Trudeau had called for a ban on Trump.”

First of all, Canada doesn’t have a President. It has a Prime Minister. I’ve followed Justin Trudeau because I’m really interested in Canadian politics. I really admire the Prime Minister. During the campaign to become Prime Minister, he eloquently said, “Conservatives aren’t our enemies, they’re our neighbors,” so I thought this smelled fishy. I googled this and found that CNN had plagiarized from a fake news site and reported it as fact.

A couple notes probably go here: First, this is hardly the beginning of the Trump Ministry of Propaganda; news organizations do occasionally fall for fake news. To the other, we can think what we want of CNN pulling from Hot Global News. And for whatever excuse CNN and other organizations might give, it seems especially important to pay a bit more attention to source credibility, because we are clearly in a time when falsehood can triumph simply for the fact of making Americans feel better about themselves. That is to say, sure, debunk all you want, but we will hear about this again from some passionate, (ahem!) well-informed advocate who apparently has no idea what is going on. (Never mind that last; the consequences of passionately dedicated ignorance is an inside joke that will, someday soon, and by the fortunes of the Trump administration, become rather quite relevant.)

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The Donald Trump Show (Somebody Stop Me)

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)

“I don’t know, you tell me. You know what? Why don’t you ask Hillary if she cares that cows can’t digest corn?”

Bill Scheft

You know, it’s a lot funnier to actually attribute it to Donald Trump, but there isn’t really a good way of doing that anymore. There is, to the one, Poe’s Law; there is, to the other, Donald Trump’s easily confused legion.

But it’s the one funny line in the premature flaccidity. Nor ought we blame Mr. Scheft; flaccid is the way of the Trump, and pretty much all caricature of this emblematic strangeness extends into that range, eventually achieving its best expression as metacommentary considering Donald Trump’s seminal lack of viability.

Prematurity? Bravado? Mindbending foolishness? It isn’t so much superstition this time; rather, the fact that Donald Trump is the GOP nominee at all tells us there is enough wrong in the world that vigilance serves us best.

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Image note: Detail of photo by John Locher/AP Photo.

Scheft, Bill. “Donald Trump’s exit interview: ‘I just found out what the job paid. $400,000. You’re kidding, right?'”

The Power of the Dark Sigh

Source Image: Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 11 May 2016. Modified w/apologies, of course.The setup speaks for itself.

With apologies to Adam Huber, of course. But come on, in a marketplace thriving on bad puns, how can anyone resist that kind of temptation? Just click, damn it. Do you feel lucky? Oh, right. Wrong film. Do not underestimate the power of the dark sigh.

“The Empire Talks Smack”, 9 May 2016

“The Empire Talks Smack — Part II”, 10 May 2016

“The Empire Talks Smack — Part III”, 11 May 2016

“The Empire Talks Smack — Part IV”, 12 May 2016

“The Empire Talks Smack — Part V”, 13 May 2016

We will, of course, update as remaining installments post. (Promises, promises.)

(Wow, we actually remembered to update a post. Yes, it’s surprising. Yes, that’s pathetic. Leave it alone, smackhead.)

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 11 May 2016. Modified w/apologies, of course.

The Ted Cruz Show (Holiday Special)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responds to the 2015 State of the Union address in an online video, 20 January 2015.

Amid the holiday panic and cheer it is easy for small things to slip past unnoticed. Like, say, on Christmas Eve, when Ellie Shechet informed us that, “This Ted Cruz Holiday Erotica Is Fucking Weird”.

And, you know, I see no reason to doubt her. And the Bulwer-Lytton moment with a head of lettuce should have been enough of a specimen to make the point, but why stop reading? Shechet offers her critique of the first paragraphs:

This is an extremely strong and promising beginning. The setting: Ted Cruz’s retirement party, after which he believes he will be leaving political office. IRL, I have a creeping feeling that our pal Ted would push me, you, and all of his loved ones into a hole in a frozen lake and sprint away before relinquishing one inch of his extremely unlikely and hard-earned influence, but this is fan fic! We are going with it.

Right. Downhill from there. All that.

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Dangerous

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 4 May 2015.You don’t know the power of the Dark Side … do you?

Nor does Adam, it seems.

Oh, come on! Tell me this isn’t a dangerous endeavor, I dare you! All the potential crash and burn of your nastiest NASCAR fantasy, and nobody has to die, and it’s not NASCAR so that’s okay. But tell me you’re not curious. Of the myriad manners by which this can go buggy, how can you not want to be there to witness the moment some disaster falls into and then leaps out of the frame?

Or, you know, who knows? Maybe it won’t be a complete disaster.

Nobody says cartooning is easy.

We might also reflect on the proposition that this is not the worst Star Wars joke I’ve encountered in recent days. Let that say what it will.

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Huber, Adam. “A New Dope”. Bug Martini. 4 May 2015.

Benen, Steve. “The force is not strong with this one”. msnbc. 4 May 2015.

Something About Satire, Something About Etiquette

Andy Borowitz, of The New Yorker.

Is it sad I wish this was real?

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khameni.  (Photo: Alireza Sotakbar/AFP/Getty)Stating that “their continuing hostilities are a threat to world peace,” Iran has offered to mediate talks between congressional Republicans and President Obama.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, made the offer one day after Iran received what he called a “worrisome letter” from Republican leaders, which suggested to him that “the relationship between Republicans and Obama has deteriorated dangerously.”

“Tensions between these two historic enemies have been high in recent years, but we believe they are now at a boiling point,” Khamenei said. “As a result, Iran feels it must offer itself as a peacemaker.”

He said that his nation was the “logical choice” to jumpstart negotiations between Obama and the Republicans because “it has become clear that both sides currently talk more to Iran than to each other.”

(Borowitz)

I mean, come on, that would be … yeah.

Oh, hey, an etiquette question: If you happen to witness a Facebook discussion in which at least one of the participants seems to think it’s real, and nobody else is making the point, what is your obligation to speak up or not?

Never mind.

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Image notes: Top―Andy Borowitz, of The New Yorker. Right―Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in undated photo. (Alireza Sotakbar/AFP/Getty)

Borwitz, Andy. “Iran Offers to Mediate Talks Between Republicans and Obama”. The New Yorker. 10 March 2015.

#GamerGate: Moving Pictures and Megalomania Mix

Detail of animation by Mark Fiore, via Daily Kos, 31 October 2014.

Hold the Line, against new and different games produced by girls … who are not sufficiently buxom and supportive of your awesome manliness!

Be Brave, good gamer soldiers … and continue your anonymous attacks against these upstart good-for-nothing girls!

Mark Fiore

In a way, it really does seem to come to that. The #GamerGate phenomenon would be entertaining for all of a few seconds, much like we stare at someone we think is attempting spontaneous and nearly-insane comedy right before we realize, to our horror, that we are about to laugh at a spastic disability. In truth, the phenomenon would not even be a one-hit wonder except for a spectacular nexus of bigotry and juvenilia.

Detail of animation by Mark Fiore, via Daily Kos, 31 October 2014.Mark Fiore’s moving (ha!) editorial might sound like open satire, but such an assessment would be somewhat insulting, as it would suggest the artist required some sort of herculean labor to simply run down the checklist of hashtag-GamerGate.

Online, we are supposed to call it Poe’s Law, which is an alpha geek’s attempt to claim originality for pointing out that truth is necessarily stranger than fiction. However, we ought not knock Poe’s Law, because the internet age does raise, by orders of magnitude, the frequency with which the question arises whether we are viewing the real thing or a vicious satire. Evangelical Christianity, the Republican Party, Fall Out Boy, and now #GamerGate.

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