trolling

What They Voted For: The Laughingstock

#AmericanPrestige | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President-elect Donald Trump delivers his first official news conference since winning the November election, 11 January 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Because the first part of the making something great again is wrecking it so that it needs to be recovered:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, reads a copy of 'Fire and Fury', by Michael Wolff, at the Tehran Book Fair, 11 May 2018. (via Instagram)On Friday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was pictured in a post on his Instagram feed at the Tehran Book Fair.

Nothing unusual there, but in one image he was seen reading a Persian-language edition of Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury. The subject of which, of course, is the chaos inside Mr Trump’s White House.

When the book was released in January, it was described as a “bombshell” by commentators as it raised doubts over Mr Trump’s mental health.

It claimed Mr Trump said he pursued his friends’ wives, that his daughter Ivanka would mock him, and that the US president would eat cheeseburgers in bed.

(BBC)

This is, of course, only days after President Hassan Rouhani responded to President Trump’s dereliction of a nuclear treaty by “conferring with the world’s two super powers, Russia and China”.

Yes, this demolition of American prestige is precisely what Republicans voted for. They cannot prove to us that government doesn’t work unless they break everything; they cannot make the nation great “again” if they do not lay it low. And, yes, in their own way, a game show host and flaccid farce, an obvious subject for Ayatollah Khamenei to scorch with such easy, demonstrative, blistering critique, is precisely what Trump supporters voted for.

This is actually part of their supremacism: It is easier to foster a world war if supporters feel insulted by the designated enemy; Trump seems to think Iranians are as simplistic as his followers, so he makes it easy for the Ayatollah to zing the President of the United States because he knows the magagaga are, themselves, easy marks.

They did elect him, after all.

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Image note: Top — President-elect Donald Trump delivers his first official news conference after winning the November election, 11 January 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)  Right — Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, reads a copy of Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, at the Tehran Book Fair, 11 May 2018. (via Instagram)

British Broadcasting Corporation. “Is Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei trolling Trump?” BBC News. 11 May 2018.

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The Donald Trump Show (Trolling the Gap)

Johnson-20151212-Trump-ObamaBinLyin-detail-bw

This is your reminder―

Since launching his presidential campaign, however, Trump has largely ignored what used to be his signature issue. Fox’s Bill O’Reilly broached the subject last night:

O’REILLY: Do you think your birther position has hurt you among African Americans?

TRUMP: I don’t know. I have no idea. I don’t even talk about it anymore, Bill…. I guess with, maybe some. I don’t know why. I really don’t know why. But I don’t think―very few people, you are the first one that’s brought that up in a while.

For the record, Trump fielded a question about this as recently as Monday―the day before this O’Reilly interview. When the candidate said no one has brought up this issue “in a while,” that clearly wasn’t true.

(Benen)

―that Donald Trump is the candidate of the internet troll. The whole pro wrestling metaphor really is tempting, all things considered, but let’s just file that under some manner of reality television. You know, to some degree we’re supposed to believe pro wrestling, too.

(more…)

The Framework (Trolling Bibi Edition)

Barack Obama

It is true, the headline is adorable: “White House Trolls Netanyahu Over Iran Agreement With Bomb Cartoon”.

And while it is also true that President Obama seems to have shrugged off a certain range of politicking now that his year-six election is finished, it is furthermore true that the question of trolling really does matter entirely on what we choose to make of it.

Worth sharing: Here's how the #IranDeal would shut down Iran's pathway to a nuclear weapon → go.wh.gov/Iran-dealThis is, after all, politics.

And given Prime Minister Netanyahu’s grotesque stunt, and the House of Representatives that was all too willing to help, and considering that Senate Republicans are working to scuttle the deal, this is already a filthy political fight, and one might suggest President Obama has every right to be pissed off. But at the same time, this is politics. It is, by a loose definition, information warfare. But more than that, it is mere politicking; this image will come up in search engines, side by side with Bibi’s simplistic fearmongering. This is how Bibi wants it, this is how Bibi gets it. In twenty years, one or both of these graphics will be wrong, and a particularly American question is why Republicans are scrambling to make certain it is President Obama.

So it goes. But there really does seem to be something amiss about that.

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Robins-Early, Nick. “White House Trolls Netanyahu Over Iran Agreement With Bomb Cartoon”. The Huffington Post. 8 April 2015.

The White House. “Worth sharing”. Twitter. 8 April 2015.

—————. “A Framework to Prevent Iran from Acquiring a Nuclear Weapon”. WhiteHouse.gov. 10 April 2015.

The Trouble With Trolling

Photo of Fremont Troll in Seattle, Washington, via My Strange Family, September, 2009..There are always ethical questions involved with this sort of research, but we might assuage those by pointing out (A) nobody was killed or physically harmed in order to get these results, (B) sometimes we simply need this data, and (C) we get headlines like, “Scientists Tried Trolling Conspiracy Theorists”, and, “Facebook conspiracy theorists fooled by even the most obvious anti-science trolling: study”.

Yes, the results are about what you might imagine.

Ben Richmond of Motherboard explains:

What they found is that the people who you see trolling with conspiracy theories on non-conspiracy sites are the outliers. An astounding 91.53 percent of people who like posts on conspiracy theory pages pretty much only engage with conspiracy theory pages.

Not only that, compared to the science pages, conspiracy theory page posts are a lot more likely to be liked and shared. They call this a commitment to diffusion.

This focus on liking and sharing only from conspiracy theory pages also keeps conspiracy theorists posting and sharing amongst themselves, and rarely venture to comment or like things on the science pages.

Travis Gettys of Raw Story picked up the story and tried simplifying:

The researchers then tested the strength of these users’ biases by posting “troll information” – or sarcastic comments parodying anti-science views – on Facebook.

“These posts are clearly unsubstantiated claims, like the undisclosed news that infinite energy has been finally discovered, or that a new lamp made of actinides (e.g. plutonium and uranium) might solve problems of energy gathering with less impact on the environment, or that the chemical analysis revealed that chemtrails contains sildenafil citratum (the active ingredient of Viagra),” the researchers said.

They found that 78 percent of those who “liked” these 4,709 troll posts interacted primarily with conspiracy theory pages, as were 81 percent of those who commented on them.

The researchers also noted that anti-conspiracy theorists often wasted “cognitive resources” pushing back against these unscientific “troll” claims, even when they were “satirical imitation of false claims.”

Right. Pretty much what you would have expected.

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Image note: Photo of Fremont Troll in Seattle, Washington, via My Strange Family, September, 2013.

Richmond, Ben. “Scientists Tried Trolling Conspiracy Theorists”. Motherboard. 24 February 2015.

Gettys, Travis. “Facebook conspiracy theorists fooled by even the most obvious anti-science trolling: study”. RawStory. 24 February 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.

(more…)

Santorum

Rick Santorum speaks during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sometimes, being an American has its own unintended rewards. Then again, many of those rewards are silver linings threaded from other disappointments. To wit, there really is no sane purpose in promoting, say, the political arguments of one like former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA); there are, however, days when it is worth the time to witness the Pennsylvania Screech trolling Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Rand Paul insists he’s not an “isolationist.” Writing this week in TIME, he says, “I look at the world, and consider war, realistically and constitutionally.”

Segar-20131010-RandPaul-crop-bw But in reality, the Kentucky senator has advanced a brand of neo-isolationism and appeasement that is as short-sighted as it mistaken.Despite his recent, and frantic efforts to recast himself as not completely ridiculous on national security issues, the truth is his record often puts him in league with Barack Obama—or even to the president’s left. Anyone who truly cares about American liberty at home must not ignore real enemies and rising threats abroad. Rather, we must confront such challenges wisely and decisively to protect American lives, our economy and our allies.

He may be changing his tune now, but he can’t hide from his record. Senator Paul has long been wrong and far out of the mainstream on three key matters – Iran, the Islamic State and Israel . . . .

What follows is a splatter of inimitable Santorum, including a critique of the Kentucky junior’s foreign policy toward Iran: “But few believe he is serious.” Santorum follows up with a series of messy sound-bite spurts, denouncing neo-isolationism in his Kentucky colleague’s outlook on Israel, asserting, “Not only would this be a dangerous mistake, it once again puts Senator Paul to the left of even the Obama-Clinton-Kerry . . . .” Then again, on that bit, despite the notion that run of the mill, uninspired centrism now strikes Republicans as some sort of flaming leftism, Santorum can stain Mr. Paul’s presidential ambitions for the simple fact that the point is true. As a result, it would seem the Republican gauge would put Mr. Paul somewhere left of … well … Communists.

And while one might reasonably suggest that Mr. Santorum is correct that neo-isolationism “is bad for America”, the entire trolling critique falls apart well before that closing line:

Earlier this summer, Paul questioned in the Wall Street Journal whether there was any good reason for the U.S. military to stop or even slow down the Islamic State’s jihadist offensive in Iraq. He did so despite the fact that ISIL, as it is commonly known, has been slaughtering Muslims and Christians across the region. Yet he saw no serious threat to the American people from ISIL and could not bring himself to support the use of U.S. airpower to help our Arab and Kurdish allies defeat ISIL and prevent the establishment of a radical Islamic caliphate. What’s more, he continued to argue that it is in part the GOP’s fault that Iraq is fast becoming the epicenter of terrorism.

(Boldface accent added)

It really is an internecine dispute; only Republicans would try that line, since most everyone else already knows it’s the GOP’s fault in general, and the Bush Jr. administration’s fault in particular, that the Iraqi Adventure continues to degrade as it does. In the end, the question of the GOP’s fault is one that really only plays within Republican ranks; most days, even the media punditry has no interest in this question—they’re too busy stirring up fake controversies for the sake of ratings by pushing Republican talking points as fact.

Still, though, it’s an awesome throwdown, offering a glimpse inside the Republican mind.

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Such as Roberta Rampton and Will Dunham of Reuters did recently, and seemingly with the once-respected news agency’s blessing.

Santorum, Rick. “Will the Real Rand Paul Please Stand Up?” Politico. 5 September 2014.