The Whisper Network, Continued

In the wake of both John Conyers and Al Franken being forced to resign from Congress over their “inappropriate sexual behavior”, there does indeed seem to be a backlash against the #metoo anti-harassment movement, although not from the Right. Dahlia Lithwick in Slate says,  “Is this the principled solution? By every metric I can think of, it’s correct. But it’s also wrong. It’s wrong because we no longer inhabit a closed ethical system, in which morality and norm preservation are their own rewards. We live in a broken and corroded system in which unilateral disarmament is going to destroy the very things we want to preserve. ”

It’s often pointed out that Franken’s main accuser, Leann Tweeden is a conservative Fox (Sports) alumna and allegedly an associate of Trump family members. Celebrity Tom Arnold accused her of being coached by a “Roger Stone pal” at her radio station. And some Democrats have gone much further in bemoaning their party’s policy toward one of their own. In the Washington Post, feminist author Kate Harding said “I don’t believe (that Franken) resigning from his position is the only possible consequence, or the one that’s best for American women.” But she elaborates: “When you combine these things — an awareness that the Democratic Party is no more or less than best of two, and an understanding that men in power frequently exploit women — it becomes difficult to believe that Franken is the only sitting Democrat with a history of harassment, abuse or assault… Isn’t that hypocritical? I hear you asking, Because Republicans won’t do the right thing, we shouldn’t, either? But if the short-term ‘right thing’ leads to long-term political catastrophe for American women, I think we need to reconsider our definition of the right thing.”

So Democrats should go back to saying “it’s okay when it’s our guy?” That would indeed solve the double standard problem. If both parties are going to roast the enemy for the same thing that they forgive on their side, there’s one standard that is being applied equally.

The problem is that the Democratic liberal base won’t go for it anymore. More specifically, the women in the Democratic hierarchy won’t go for it anymore. It was Democratic women Senators who led the demand that Franken resign. Recall that whatever one thinks of Donald Trump, this whole #metoo thing erupted after the first allegations came out concerning Harvey Weinstein. Snap quiz, who was a bigger fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, Harvey Weinstein or Charles Koch? It’s Franken who’s expected to fall on his sword for the good of the Party, not the feminist contingent of the Party that’s expected to put up with him for the sake of not letting Republicans “get” one.

What all this proves to me is that liberals need to find a happy medium between retroactively crucifying Al Franken – who was never accused of adultery, let alone rape – for sleazy behavior that occurred before he ever ran for office, versus “it’s not perjury if it was over a blowjob, and even if it was, it’s just a Republican witch hunt.” Maybe we should acknowledge that if “believe the women” is not as bad an extreme as “always believe the accused”, it is still an extreme. Maybe rather than uncritically dismissing or believing the accuser, we should take the accuser seriously, seriously enough to give the claims proper investigation.

Because even in the olden days, it was sometimes more likely that allegations of sexual misbehavior from a politician would be taken seriously, and a politician’s career could be destroyed over allegations that were both less substantial and more substantial than the charges against Franken. In 1988, Democrat Gary Hart was preparing a run for the presidency until the press started covering his relationship with a young woman named Donna Rice, a relationship that both Rice and Hart have maintained to this day was not sexual. Then after the 1992 campaign, Republican Senator Bob Packwood was shadowed by continuing allegations of sexual assault, allegations which intensified after the Senate Ethics Committee requested his diary and found out that he had altered the diary passages. Eventually Packwood resigned in 1995.  Incidentally, the Wikipedia article on this points out that the head of the Committee at the time was Senator Mitch McConnell, who had said afterward in regard to President Clinton’s impeachment: “As most of you will recall, the Senate faced a similar choice just a few short years ago. It was one of our own who had clearly crossed the line. It was one of our own who had engaged in sexual misconduct and obstruction of justice… During the Packwood debate, we made the tough choice. And, I have to say, that decision was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do in my career in public service. To recommend expelling from the United States Senate a colleague, a member of my own party, and most importantly, a friend with whom I had served in the Senate for over a decade. We sent a clear message to the nation that no man is above the law.”

What caused the standard to change all of a sudden?

What happened was that a certain politician in the duopoly decided that winning was more important than shame. Packwood and Hart could be shamed out of the system. Bill Clinton could not. And while I’m sure Hillary Clinton didn’t plan on things turning out this way, the fact that she was First Enabler in 1998 meant that in 2016 she was the only person in either major party who was not in position to take on Donald Trump over his history of sexism. It’s not as though she didn’t get some good licks in, especially with invoking Alicia Machado in a debate, but the fact that Trump got as many white female voters as he did indicated that Clinton had a critical problem with her core audience.

Democratic ambivalence on this issue is precisely because Republicans have embraced Bill Clinton’s approach more thoroughly than they have. Not only that, this allowed Trump to disarm the whole premise of enforcing moral standards. He has also shown right-wingers the path to counter left-wing virtue signaling: Don’t let them shame you. Don’t let them crybully you. Don’t apologize for what you are. The problem occurs when what you are is not just objectively evil but belligerently stupid.

The other day, (Dec. 6) Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic wrote a piece called “Embracing Depravity,” which is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a pretty good analysis of where the Republican groupthink is now. It explains why the “conservative” movement, in all its contradictions, has one consistent factor: what Friedersdorf calls ressentiment.

“Culture-war conflict now dominates their political identity.

“And to watch them embrace the label ‘deplorable’ even as they elevate a man like (Roy) Moore is to suspect (Julian) Sanchez was right in seeing ressentiment as ‘a resignation to impotence on the cultural front where the real conflict lies. It effectively says: We cede to the bogeyman cultural elites the power of stereotypical definition, so becoming the stereotype more fully and grotesquely is our only means of empowerment.”

This is why it doesn’t do good to whine that it’s not fair that Democrats are being held to a standard that Republicans don’t respect. When you’re a Democrat, you find excuses for why you can’t win elections. It’s what you do. But more importantly, liberals, you are never going to be more punk rock than the Republicans. You are never going to be more transgressive. You are always going to be under the self-imposed double standard, if only because you have any standards at all. Because unlike Republicans, who have discarded all standards except winning, you are still under the delusion that you have morals. That your political calculus is based on a higher standard. That you’re here to fight for something.

So here’s a radical Communist idea, liberals: Why not FIGHT for something?

If the game of moral superiority is, if not a wash, ultimately meaningless in winning elections, if it ultimately comes down to voter turnout, and if Republican tax “reform” is doing more to cement their Snidely Whiplash image than anything leftists could imagine, then Democrats ought to spend this next year concentrating on the very “flyover” counties that won Trump the election in 2016, the very places that will be hardest hit by Republican policy, and convince those voters that their party is able to help them out. But that would require having both a message and a plan.

…Naahh, that’s too hard, isn’t it?

The Whisper Network

“I wish to argue that none of you possibly have enough evidence to jump to this conclusion, but experience has taught me that only guarantees it to be the case.”

-Vaarsuvius, Order of the Stick #1106

I had almost thought the issue of powerful men getting taken down by a history of sexual harassment was starting to lose currency. But last week the big news was that Today show lead anchor Matt Lauer was “suddenly” fired after NBC News recieved a detailed complaint, NBC News chairman Andrew Lack saying “While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.” As it turned out, both Variety and the New York Times had been investigating an extensive history of misbehavior on Lauer’s part.  Less publicized that week was the news that hip-hop mogul and producer Russell Simmons was stepping down from his companies after he was accused of sexual assault.

This phenomenon is in fact so widespread and happening so fast that a lot of observers are worried about it. For one thing, the idea that we should believe all women who accuse men of abuse is getting challenged. Professional feminist Lena Dunham defended a writer from her show Girls after he was accused of rape by actress Aurora Perrineau, saying he was one of the just “3% of assault cases that are misrepresented every year.” More relevant to politics, Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken was accused of groping one woman on a USO tour, and then another. Now it’s up to six. Not only that, veteran Congressman John Conyers (D.-Michigan) was accused of a long history of improper sexual behavior. Yet another Congressman, Ruben Kihuen (D.-Nevada) was just accused of repeated sexual advances and improper touching by an aide.  But it wasn’t until fairly recently that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called upon Conyers to resign. (Perhaps for that reason, she was a lot quicker to go after Kihuen.)

So what? The story now is, we “believe all women” unless the accused is a friend of ours? Or if it’s politically inconvenient?

To their credit, a lot of liberals are saying politics be damned, such men need to be out of Congress, even if they’re Democrats. But it’s not that simple. Conyers’ seat (in the Detroit area) is safe, and in any case he’s very old and may need to retire anyway. However, if Kihuen resigns, the Governor of Nevada (who would appoint his replacement) is a Republican. And Franken has been a serious asset to the Democrats in the Senate, and even if Minnesota’s Democratic governor replaced him, that party needs all the seats it can get.

Not that Republicans are any more pure. As more documented stories of Roy Moore’s predilection for younger girls came up in Alabama, that just increased the desire of Alabama Republicans to get him elected Senator. But that’s what they are. All that matters to them is winning. “Conservatives” would vote for Bill Clinton himself if he said he was a Republican. But as I keep telling Republicans, they kinda did.

In large part, a lot of liberals are worried that there’s going to be some sort of right-wing backlash once somebody gets the idea that they can make a false claim. When Rolling Stone published a “searing expose'” on a gang rape at the University of Virginia campus, the story turned out to be unverifiable and was later retracted.  This critically undermined Rolling Stone’s journalistic reputation (to the extent that it had one) and set back feminist attempts to target “rape culture.”

More recently, Bari Weiss in the New York Times worried that the current ascendancy of #metoo feminism is going to set up its own downfall, citing the Teen Vogue writer Emily Linden who had to shut down her Twitter account after posting ““If some innocent men’s reputations have to take a hit in the process of undoing the patriarchy, that is a price I am absolutely willing to pay.” Weiss says that while she sympathizes with that attitude, “I think that ‘believing all women’ can rapidly be transmogrified into an ideological orthodoxy that will not serve women at all. ”

There is of course a danger of backlash with all the sexual harassment stories, but the reason that hasn’t happened yet in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein case is because when an individual is accused of sexual abuse, it’s not just one case that can’t be verified. There always turns out to be more behind it.

When Anthony Rapp made his accusation against Kevin Spacey, at the time I thought it was just an isolated case of Spacey being drunk quite a few years ago. (Though it still reflected badly on him that he would let himself get so out of control.) But according to producers on House of Cards, Spacey had been engaging in harassment fairly recently, and often enough to where it was brought up as a problem. When an accusation gets in the news, it stays in the news if it turns out to be a pattern.

There is now actually a term for how this works. Feminists Valerie Aurora and Leigh Blackwood came up with an observation they call “the Al Capone Theory.” The basis is that Al Capone had a major organized crime ring going with alcohol smuggling, but the Federal government couldn’t get him on those grounds, but they could trace his income and prosecute him for tax evasion on his assets. Aurora and Blackwood said: “We noticed a similar pattern in reports of sexual harassment and assault: often people who engage in sexually predatory behavior also faked expense reports, plagiarized writing, or stole credit for other people’s work.” In other words, even where (say) sexual harassment is hard to prove or prosecute, it may be possible to prosecute an offender for other more easily-established criminal offenses – because the kind of person who engages in sexual harassment is the kind of person who is likely to commit other crimes. “Ask around about the person who gets handsy with the receptionist, or makes sex jokes when they get drunk, and you’ll often find out that they also violated the company expense policy, or exaggerated on their résumé, or took credit for a colleague’s project.” Whether companies know the “Al Capone Theory” term or not, they are becoming more cognizant of this pattern in order to guard against it, given that such personality types can cost money for reasons other than public harrassment suits.

More directly, a lot of these sexual harassment cases gain traction because they’re not isolated incidents. When the first accusations came out against Harvey Weinstein, they destroyed his reputation, but they couldn’t be prosecuted because they were past the statute of limitations for assault. But recently the NYPD announced that it has at least one rape case that is recent enough to investigate.

The approach taken by the authors of the Al Capone Theory points towards a critical standard that addresses the serious possibility of treating men unfairly. One of the concerns of men is that the “whisper network” has the potential to destroy men over isolated, consensual encounters when there is no legal standard such as presumption of innocence. But one thing that’s overlooked with that position is that the abuses themselves are a case where men (usually men) are taking advantage of grey areas in the law and in company human resources policies, and in the reaction of the culture to women’s claims. Until recently, when women did try to work within the system, their claims were disregarded by superiors, for example in the case of Lauer. The Variety article said: “Several women told Variety they complained to executives at the network about Lauer’s behavior, which fell on deaf ears given the lucrative advertising surrounding ‘Today.’ NBC declined to comment. For most of Lauer’s tenure at ‘Today,’ the morning news show was No. 1 in the ratings, and executives were eager to keep him happy.” Whereas the standard that Aurora and Blackwood are endorsing obliges companies to review a person’s overall performance record to corroborate accusations of bad behavior, including accusations against women.

It seems as though liberals in the media and politics are taking a look at where politics have gone and then taking a look at the “sophisticated” culture they did so much to enable, at least when Bill Clinton was president. And whether they admit it or not, they’re making a connection.

Consider that however self-conscious and hypocritical liberals might seem about sexual harassment, they are at least taking a look in the mirror and cleaning up their own house.

But then consider that Donald Trump is still president.

And that Roy Moore, at least initially, was leading in the polls after the Washington Post story came out.

And it seems to me that “conservatives” are looking at self-flagellating liberals, and they’ve decided that if it looks embarrassing or hypocritical to develop a conscience too late, then clearly the best course of action is to never develop a conscience at all.

Milo vs. Maher and the Logistics of Trolling

“In this world, every act is a political act.”

-Andrew Sullivan, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

This weekend’s episode of Real Time With Bill Maher created a bit of controversy when Maher decided to have a one-on-one feature interview with writer and Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, a professional provocateur or, in more prosaic terms, a troll. Yiannopoulos is an Englishman of Greek descent who has his hair styled and frosted in such a way that he resembles David Bowie, specifically Bowie just before he realized that endorsing fascism was a terrible mistake.

Yiannopoulos had already been a controversial figure for his “alt-right”, anti-feminist and pro-Donald Trump statements, to the extent that his planned speech at Berkeley got cancelled after violent protests. With regard to this interview, Maher’s other guest, left-wing journalist Jeremy Scahill, refused to appear on this week’s show specifically because it would give Yiannopoulos attention – which of course only gave him more attention. This was something that Maher himself pointed out to Milo when he said, “You are so helped by the fact that liberals always take the bait.”

But in the body of the interview, Maher went over the issue of Yiannopoulos’ provocative stance and “I’m just kidding” demeanor. He said, “I think a lot of people miss your humor, and I’m a guy who always defends jokes- right up to the point that they pointlessly hurt people.” Maher went on to say that he DID hurt some people intentionally, for the sake of the truth, and Milo concurred that “I hurt people for a reason.” But then Milo got to explain his perspective: “The reason (the Left) want to police humor, which is very important to both of us, is that they can’t control it. What all authoritarians hate is the sound of laughter.” And Maher responded, “And also because when people laugh, they know it’s true… laughter is involuntary.”

Which is actually a good measure to start with when examining good humor versus bad humor and “good” trolling (what Yiannopoulos would call ‘virtuous’ trolling) from bad trolling.

For instance, along with Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift was famous for writing the essay, “A Modest Proposal”  in which he proposed that babies be sold and eaten as food. This was NOT ACTUALLY MEANT as an endorsement of eating babies. It was rather an attack on the contemporary culture of the English-occupied Ireland where Swift lived: “I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.”  In other words, to “get the joke” you have to have a finely developed sense of sarcasm, which, to take Maher’s implication, means a sense of how the joke contrasts with reality.  But in the 4chan culture of the alt-right, irony is so overused that one’s sense of sarcasm is burned out, since most participants don’t have much engagement with the real world of consequences to begin with.

So when you are capable of getting the comparison between satire and reality, your satire works.  If you have to explain a joke, then it’s not very funny.  Likewise, if you have to explain why your offensive statement is “just kidding” then either it’s not a very good joke or you were being disingenuous about something you really believe.  One of the reasons Milo creates such disgust (and often creates sympathy for his targets) is not only that his jokes are often unfunny, but that he is taken as inspiration by people who are not joking at all.  Last year, when Saturday Night Live stars Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon and former star Kristin Wiig did an all-female reboot of Ghostbusters with Melissa McCarthy, this attracted a lot of ire from a mostly male section of the fan community who acted like this very concept ruined their childhood.  (I’ve seen the movie, and while it’s not going to make anyone forget the original, it’s actually pretty good in itself.)  But this hate got that much worse towards Jones, who is black.  Several Twitter posters compared her to Harambe and other gorillas.  As it happened, Milo (under his Twitter handle ‘nero’) had not only egged on the anti-Ghostbusters campaign but had posted Jones’ Twitter address so as to get his fans to let her have it.  And because that was not the first time that “nero” was reported for violating Twitter’s terms of service, the medium banned his account permanently.

That is impressive in itself. Getting kicked off of Twitter for being an insensitive troll is like Dave Mustaine getting kicked out of Metallica for drinking too much.

But then you see the difference between “good” trolling and bad trolling. Calling Leslie Jones a gorilla isn’t necessarily “punching down” when, as Milo points out, she’s a fairly successful celebrity. The question is, what’s the point? This isn’t a punchline where you tell the joke and everybody gets it. Unless the punchline you want to convey is “(I think that) Leslie Jones is an ape.” Which means the punch line is “I’m a racist and I expect that to be socially acceptable.”

I have already mentioned how normalizing bad behavior only serves to make that the standard, and how that point USED to be a conservative argument. Encouraging the fellow travelers of actual fascists like Richard Spencer is not only dangerous in terms of who you let into government, it is immediately dangerous on a street level. It is that much more dangerous when you’re a flamboyant Brit who repeatedly brags about getting fucked by big black cock. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the racist Right or the Stalinist Left. With collectivists, it is far more dangerous to be their friend than their enemy, because you would expect your enemy to stab you in the back.

I cannot put this point any better than J.K. Rowling did. See, the week before the Milo interview, Real Time With Bill Maher previously made news when Maher had Australian comic Jim Jeffries on a panel with British “journalist” and professional twit Piers Morgan, talking about Donald Trump’s order against immigration from seven Muslim countries, and when Morgan insisted to Maher that “there is no Muslim ban,” Jeffries responded, “Oh, fuck off.” And then Harry Potter author Rowling got on her Twitter account to say, “Yes, watching Piers Morgan being told to fuck off on live TV is *exactly* as satisfying as I’d always imagined. ” To which Morgan sniffed that he’d never read Harry Potter books. (When it turned out that he had.)  Rowling responded,  “.@piersmorgan If only you’d read Harry Potter, you’d know the downside of sucking up to the biggest bully in school is getting burned alive.”

That’s what it comes down to. At some point there is a line to draw. And that is why, whatever my issues with the Left and the moribund Democratic Party, I do not endorse Trump, Trumpism and what calls itself “conservatism”, not even in an antinomian, punk rock, “Belsen Was a Gas” kind of way.  Because some of the people cheering the joke don’t think it’s a joke.

But maybe I’m overthinking this. See, I’ve done some online research into Milo’s history with a website he co-founded, called The Kernel, now owned by The Daily Dot, and it turns out Yiannopoulos has a dark past. No, not his status as openly gay AND openly Catholic and guilty about his own sexuality and “lifestyle.” I mean his dangerous brushes with tolerance and liberalism. Specifically, he wrote an essay for The Kernel in 2012 called: “The internet is turning us all into sociopaths.”  And in it, he writes, among other things: “There has always been abuse on the internet, but, before the social revolution, it was largely restricted to anonymous comment threads, message boards and chat rooms. Any site owner who allowed anonymous comments could reasonably be held responsible, morally and legally, for the content appearing on his site.

But now there is a disturbing bleed from anonymous hatred to defamatory and spiteful language being posted under the authors’ real names using their social networking profiles. It’s as if our usual moral safeguards are being broken down by a terrifying new online landscape in which the default mode of communication is a form of attack. … It’s as if a psychological norm is being established whereby comments left online are part of a video game and not real life. It’s as if we’ve all forgotten that there’s a real person on the other end, reading and being hurt by our vitriol.

 

At which point, my response to Milo would be: “So… what happened?”

Fuck You, CNN

So in the course of everybody Monday-morning quarterbacking The Election, I saw this one thing on Facebook from CNN titled “How Gary Johnson and Jill Stein helped elect Donald Trump.”

Let me just print out the link, cause it took almost 20 minutes to find this article on CNN’s CRAPPY search engine.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/10/politics/gary-johnson-jill-stein-spoiler/index.html

This is basically another review of the point that “if all of Jill Stein’s voters and half of Gary Johnson’s voters had gone to Clinton” she would have won Florida, and Michigan, AND Pennsylvania.

Which does of course assume that it violates the laws of God and Reality to vote for someone to vote for someone other than a Republican or Democrat. Which assumes that Hillary Clinton actually earned the votes of the public. Which she did not.  Which assumes that it was not more critical that 44.4% of the voting age population did not turn out AT ALL.  Which assumes it didn’t make a little bit of difference that 42% of white women voted for TRUMP.  White women. Isn’t that Hillary’s demographic? Isn’t that like 42% of the turkeys voting for Thanksgiving? I think liberals will agree with me when I look at that New York Times graphic and say “WHAT THE FUCK???”

And while we’re at it, all you liberals who wanna guilt-trip me over voting for Gary Johnson: Would it make you cry more if I accepted your premise that NOT voting for Dolores Umbridge is the same as choosing Voldemort? Fine then. I voted for Trump. (I voted for Johnson.) I ELECTED TRUMP. (Y’know, even though Clinton won my state anyway.) In fact, I killed the Lindbergh Baby. AND Ned Stark. You happy now?

Just the other day, a hardcore conservative Christian friend on Facebook posted that “Nevada would have went to Trump if he had received the votes that Gary Johnson received. Colorado would have went to Trump if he had received the votes that Gary Johnson received. New Mexico ditto. Minnesota ditto. Maine ditto. Popular vote total ditto.” And then he went, “I am glad that your (Libertarian) votes didn’t allow Hillary to win, but that last entry would at least have kept some of her supporters from being so disruptive.”

And I wrote: “Thank you so SO much. I am going to bring up this point EVERY SINGLE TIME some liberal wants to read me the riot act cause I voted for Gary Johnson. Because we all know that if Hillary had won the Electoral College, your side would be calling me an Antichrist and their side would be buying me a beer.”

But of all the statistics, there’s one we haven’t gone over: According to their Wikipedia entry, as of 2015, CNN was available in over 96 million households in the United States. Officially, as of April 2016, CNN is no longer a news network.  CNN was simply one of the most prominent media outlets to start covering Donald Trump’s campaign as an actual political decision and not a cheesy publicity stunt, a decision that many people have cause to regret, possibly including Donald Trump. They were of course, not alone. Les Moonves, CEO of CBS was famously quoted during this campaign as saying that Trump’s presence in the campaign “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”

CNN, as opposed to the more openly liberal MSNBC or the openly conservative Fox, hired the Trump sycophant Jeffrey Lord as a regular discussion panelist, basically as the house organ of the Trump campaign. In an profile from Vanity Fair,  Lord said he had gotten the job after Trump taped an interview with Anderson Cooper in July 2015. “According to Lord, “Trump says something to the effect that, ‘Every time you have me on, you have someone following me, one of those Bush guys, who hate me. Why don’t you put on one of those guys who likes me?’” (CNN declined to comment when asked to confirm the story.) Soon after, Lord was on air. And within months, he was the only Trump supporter on regularly with people like David Axelrod, James Carville, and Ana Navarro—people whom Trump himself called “killers,” always trying to bury Jeff. “Those panels, those are horrible panels. I feel so sorry for Jeffrey Lord,” he once told a rally in Davenport, Iowa.” The article later mentions an episode caught on camera: “One recent evening, as Lord and his CNN colleagues were on air discussing the Republican convention, his cell phone rang behind his desk. As Cooper gave him a strange look and tried to keep the cameras on the other panelists, Lord says that he listened to an irate Trump, fuming that the rest of the panel was criticizing his convention. “You tell Anderson Cooper,” Lord recalled Trump saying. Seconds after, Trump hung up and the cameras panned back to Lord, who grinned at Cooper: “Well, Anderson, as a matter of fact, I’ve just spoken to Donald Trump, and he has a message for you!”

CNN more famously hired as panelist Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, whom Trump let go after being charged with simple battery against a Breitbart campaign reporter.  Lewandowski was still under the non-disclosure agreement he’d signed as part of Trump’s team, and as a CNN commentator was still receiving severance pay from the Trump campaign.

But according to one of your staff, CNN, it was Jill Stein and Gary Johnson that put the republic in danger.

WE did this? Not YOU??

You did make certain ideologies unacceptable. Followers of right-wing classical liberalism might as well be the last believers in a hokey old religion. Democratic socialists are just kooks. But Trump calling Mexicans rapists and drug smugglers? Saying that we need to ban immigrants on the basis of religion or national origin? “Great for ratings.”

But WE did this?

After all the free publicity you gave that tailored orangutan and all you have done (over the years) to make third-party candidates unpersons?

How many more people watch CNN than voted for Johnson and Stein? How many CNN viewers even know who Jill Stein is? They certainly wouldn’t have found out watching CNN campaign coverage.

Suck my big Mwamba, CNN. I am never watching you again.

There is now a greater-than-zero chance that Donald Trump will start World War III – most likely cause the dictator of North Korea hit his hands – and just as Nazi Germany started World War II and ended up losing, we will lose, because while we, like Nazi Germany, have military and technical superiority, we, like Nazi Germany will end up pissing off almost the entire rest of the planet. And once it’s over and the allied coalition occupies our nation, they will have to find the least radioactive city in North America to stage the next Nuremberg Trials. And when they do they are going to round up every surviving member of the Trump Administration along with every surviving executive of the mainstream media, and put them on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity, just as the Allies ended up doing with publisher Julius Streicher.

Because while free speech is as close to an absolute as we have in America- and that DOES include what the Left calls “hate speech”- there is no requirement or obligation on the part of a news outlet or other corporation to give free publicity to a race-baiter who has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct, and there is no obligation on the part of a broadcaster to legitimize such a demagogue by treating his opinions as though they deserved a public hearing, as though we had not already rejected such opinions long ago as toxic to a humane society, as if we had not already fought wars to put such philosophies into the ground, and as if they deserved more credence than the opinions of libertarians and democratic socialists, simply because the wannabe fascist in question is an entertaining buffoon who’s good for ratings. And when you actively promote and endorse such positions, you have abrogated your responsibility as a news medium (to the extent that you are one) and you are complicit in whatever comes to pass.

Fuck you, CNN.

Sigh

I got up Sunday morning and checked my phone and the first thing I saw on Facebook was “X and Y friend were marked safe during The Shooting in Orlando, Florida.” And I went, “Oh, fuck.”
There has already been a lot of bloviating on this matter, and I’m not sure what difference this post is going to make, but here goes. I am going to make a wild-ass prediction here:
THERE WILL BE NO ANTI-GUN LEGISLATION PASSED DUE TO THIS MASS SHOOTING.
If it wasn’t going to be passed after Sandy Hook, it will NOT be passed. Obstructionism has gotten WORSE since then. We can’t even fill a Supreme Court vacancy. This government is of such a nature that we probably couldn’t pass such legislation even if the Democrats regained a majority in Congress.
But if banning AR-15s arguably violates the Second Amendment, banning Muslims (as Donald Trump wants to do) definitely violates the First Amendment. And half the conservatives who accuse liberals of “playing politics with this tragedy” are at the same time pointing out that the shooter was an ISIS-affiliated Muslim.
And if we can’t pretend that access to semi-automatic firearms doesn’t allow for mass shooting, we also can’t pretend that religion isn’t a motive. If we are willing to say that Eric Rudolph attacked the Atlanta Olympics because his religious bent made him think he had to attack abortion and the “homosexual agenda”, we ought to be able to say so in this case.  Omar Mateen‘s father said that religion wasn’t a factor in the case, but did say that his son was angry at seeing two men kissing in Miami recently and that that could have been “a factor.”
How many atheists would get that worked up over two men kissing, and how many of those would feel the need to get illicit arms to strike a blow for Objectivism or dialectical materialism?
One has to feel for the family members in such a situation, as with the case of the Stanford rapist, who feel the need to point out that they didn’t raise their kids to be monsters. No one is blaming them. They’re not at fault unless they DID raise their kids in cages and train them like combat pit bulls. That not being the case, one has to assume that an adult is responsible for his actions. Religion in itself did not make Mateen kill gays. But he did make the choice to follow a viewpoint that justified hatred.
Years ago, I was at a party and somebody brought up the topic, “what causes more wars, religion or greed?” My friend Don said, “greed causes more wars than religion.” My friend Tony said, “No, religion causes more wars than greed.” I stepped in and said, “I agree with Tony. Religion causes more wars than greed, because on issues of greed, people are willing to negotiate.”
This is yet another reason why the “punching down” argument – that prejudice or violence from a minority is not just understandable, but justifiable, based on power imbalance – is garbage, because it avoids addressing the issue, and it doesn’t solve the problem. It doesn’t matter whether the homophobe who kills you is a Christian or Muslim, you’re still dead.  In the same way, banning guns wouldn’t stop a terrorist from building pipe bombs (like Rudolph did and the Tsarnaev brothers did) and those have always been illegal for civilians.
I just see everybody using the issue to score political points, and I’m fucking sick of it, because it’s not going to do any good. It might be better to examine the circumstances of a case to see exactly what the contributing factors are so law enforcement has a better chance of forestalling such violence with the tools they have, rather than us

getting worked up and writing stupid laws (like The PATRIOT Act) that make our situation worse. But maybe that’s too much to ask.