OK, Let’s Stop Using This Phrase

“Fake news”.

Culture, you’ve lost your right to use these words together.

We used to call this stuff “misinformation”, “tabloid journalism”, “hoaxes”, or just “lies”. Then 2016 happened, and the old-time press started calling internet bullshit “fake news”.

They didn’t realize it, but they birthed a monster, one that attacked its parents.

Perhaps you all remember a guy named Karl Rove. He is best known for helping the  soon-to-be second biggest fucking idiot ever to claim the title President get elected, George W. Bush. One of his trade secrets was how to deflect charges of weakness in his candidate. In Rove’s political parlance, the dictum was:

“Accuse your opponent of what they are going to accuse you of.”

It’s a peculiar form of what psychologists have called projection. And it is hard to combat.

It wasn’t too long ago when the term “low-information voter” entered the lexicon, brought into use by liberals.

Rush Limbaugh, who is smarter than I give him credit for, understood the power of those words together and since conservatives usually don’t have anything original to add to a conversation, used the HELL out of it until you only heard it in right-wing circles to describe liberals.

That’s about where we are with the words “fake news”. Maybe it isn’t liberals’ fault that the concept boomeranged on them, but we started overusing it, often in internecine warfare between the newest wave of left-wing political bloggers who often employ sensationalism to steal clicks from what is now the internet establishment. I’m not gonna name names here, because I believe that calling out lefty blog sites, however misleading they are, is part of what allowed the concept of “fake news” to slip the leash and become a weapon for conservatives.

The situation right now? Well, you all know. The President-the-fuck-Elect thinks that the august and, to be sure, often fatally flawed CNN is “fake news”. Low poll numbers are now fake news.

Fake news is now defined as something you don’t want to hear about irrespective of its veracity.

Its misuse is spreading like typhoid. Bill Donohue, who is a truly repugnant religious fuckwad, wants to help spread this redefinition of “fake news”. A gay man was fired from teaching at a Catholic school because he posted about his marriage on Facebook. Nobody asked him, but Donohue, ever the moral scold, couldn’t help inserting himself into the issue. He refuses to admit that men can get married because…because…oh, screw it, I’ll let him tell you:

“I know that the Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage,” says Billard, “but I don’t think my commitment to my husband [sic] has any bearing on my work in the classroom.” [Note: husbands are men and wives are women, so if Billard’s partner is his husband, that would make him his wife, and no one really believes that to be true. The Catholic League does not tolerate fake news.]

The phrase has been reduced to meaninglessness. And it’s only going to get worse-it will prove to be an impossible box to close now that the titular leader of the country thinks anything disagreeable written about him is fake. We’re going to lose this war, liberals, because they are better at projecting than we are. We need to be more careful in the future how we use shorthand like this. We need to deal in facts more than we need to glibly call out lies. There’s probably enough people listening to win the next election.

 

Putting The “Con” In Conway

I thought Kellyanne Conway was going to need close 24-hour supervision after the presidential campaign, especially if the Trumpers lost the election. Oh sure, you have your Scottie Nell Hugheses, your Sean Spicers, but no one did more heavy lifting to dissemble, lie and distort the things that Donald Trump said than Kellyanne Conway. Her hair and living-dead countenance was all one needed to see that she was the hardest working flack in America.

Her stalwart performance has been rewarded, as she is now joining Trump’s inner circle. But she’s still out there taking damage for her chickenshit boss who tweets instead of talking because the press will eat his lunch in a conference.

We’re about to revisit for the umpteenth million time the day that Donald Trump made fun of  journalist Serge Kovaleski’s arthrogryposis because he called bullshit on Donald Trump’s claims that Muslims were dancing on their rooftops when the Towers got hit. Meryl Streep, after accepting a Golden Globe yesterday, lit into Trump, highlighting this slug-low attack. Trump of course, hid behind his Twitter and called Streep overrated(the projection level here staggers the mind), etc.- and denied, as he has done in the past, that he was making fun of the reporter’s impediments.

Here’s Serge Kovaleski:

serge

 

Here’s Donald Trump talking about Serge Kovaleski:

 

Let’s stop the video and show a side by side:

serge2

Now, people are out there helping Donald deny that he is a piece of rancid garbage, by showing cuts of Trump making fun of non-disabled people in a similar manner. It’s not quite the same, but you can go look for yourself. It seems clear to me that in the case of Kovaleski he was imitating him physically and using speech affectations of the disabled as well, or more specifically whatever Trump thinks mentally challenged people sound like. He is, after all, twelve years old.

But anyway, Trump must have sent Kellyanne to do damage control on the air:

CNN “New Day” host Chris Cuomo called out Trump for mocking a disabled New York Times reporter during a 2015 rally. But Conway insisted that’s not what he was doing.

“That is not what he did and he has said that 1,000 times,” she said Monday morning. “Why can’t you give him the benefit of the doubt?”

Cuomo shot back, “He can say it a million times but look at the video… he’s making a disgusting gesture on video.”

Had Barack Obama, in some alternate universe, done this to someone he would have said he was sorry about the gestures if it looked for a second like that’s what he was doing. But Trump doesn’t do apology. Instead, we get this from Conway:

“Why is everything taken at face value?” she asked. “You can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this and he’s telling you what was in his heart, you always want to go with what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.”

I really don’t know what to do with this. Maybe repeating the part that hurts will help.

 you always want to go with what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart

Pure. Fucking. Desperation. She has no recourse to “Well, Clinton did this” and now she’s reached the end of her rope trying to explain away her employer’s incurable foot in mouth disease. She wants us to not listen to what Donald Trump says anymore, because it means nothing-nothing compared to the man’s hidden speech… that speaks of nothing but love and poetry and compassion. The real Donald Trump, not @realdonaldtrump.

She overheated like a dry car radiator and I’m surprised the interviewer didn’t chuckle.

Kellyanne Conway, you are a twit and a liar and a shameless, witless shill and you are going to hell for trying to humanize this dickhead whose coattails you rode to what I hope for your sake is a fat payday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fly, Blackburn, Fly

Marsha-Marsha-Marsha Blackburn, representative of Tennessee, is a favorite here at the seminary. We love and simultaneously revile her for being one of the stupidest fucking congresspeople in the capitol. She’s puzzled a number of talking heads with her slightly retarded homespun conservatism, and this week her victim was CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, who ought to know what Blackburn is all about from being a Fox fox back in the O.G. days of that channel. Since we are now living in the novel 1984, Blackburn thinks that getting rid of the extra House oversight Democrats put in place 7 years ago will…wait for it…eh, I’ll let Marsha take it away:

“Any time you can provide more accountability and more transparency to any process that is in place, then you’re going to take another step toward draining the swamp,” Blackburn said, echoing a campaign promise by Donald Trump. “I am all for draining the swamp. I think that anyone who knows me knows that I’ve spent much of my career on reducing the size, the scope and the cost of the federal government, and in its place putting transparency and accountability.”

Got that?

Less oversight=more accountability.

Don’t think about it too much. This is Marsha Blackburn we are talking about.

But it was poor Camerota who needed to soldier on, and parried with a good rejoinder:

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota said, if she’s worried about transparency, that Blackburn should understand why Democrats were concerned that the measure was passed without their input during a nighttime, closed-door meeting.

Blackburn didn’t blink:

“Most people would say 5 o’clock in the afternoon is not at night,” Blackburn said, shrugging. “We could discuss that. It does start getting dark outside.”

It’s after business hours, dipshit. But semantics is often all these morons are good for. So anyway, she finishes with her own awkward false equivalence, the standard go-to when Republicans are cornered:

Blackburn suggested congressional Democrats were hypocrites for holding a private strategy session with President Barack Obama.

“The Democrats have their meeting behind closed doors also, and on Wednesday, when the president comes to talk to them about how to fight against the repeal of Obamacare, they’re going to do that one behind closed doors,” Blackburn said, punctuating her attack with a wink.

What fucking adult WINKS in the middle of a serious conversation? Sarah Palin and Marsha Blackburn do, I guess. But that’s beside the point. A secret vote was held without Democrats about disbanding oversight mechanisms. That is not the same as discussing strategies to resist the destruction of Obamacare. Rules changes are fucking important-and shutting out the minority party from voting is real cloak and dagger bullshit.

Fortunately, they will not be getting away with it. Good old people power and a bizarre rebuke from The Don saved the day. My hope for this country’s future is stronger knowing that even House Republicans can feel shame.

Here’s a link to the clip, so you can watch Camerota’s pain trying to get a handle on a very slippery politician. I haven’t figured out how to embed Twitter video, sorry.

Shut Up And Eat

I find Anthony Bourdain to be an interesting entertainer. I don’t watch anything he does, but from what little I have seen he seems like an affable, witty, and occasionally irascible gourmand. My wife thinks he’s brilliant. I got her one of his cookbooks for Christmas, the one with Ralph Steadman art in it. We had his sausage heros last night with toasted bread, caramelized onion and green pepper.

Thanks, Mr. Bourdain. That was really good.

Mr. Bourdain, by dint of his successful TV endeavors involving food and travel, has emerged as a social critic as well. He has already vowed to boycott restaurants that Donald Trump owns or ones whose owners and chefs have supported the great orange one. Awesome. We should all do our part in shaming this incoming administration and not enabling it to do what it wants to do.

But Anthony can go fuck himself.

Anthony, as it turns out, is also calling out The Left.

Goaded by the assholes at the glibertarian Reason magazine, he offered these thoughts on his comrades:

Bisley: What concerns you about Trump?

Bourdain: What I am not concerned about with Trump? Wherever one lives in the world right now I wouldn’t feel too comfortable about the rise of authoritarianism. I think it’s a global trend, and one that should be of concern to everyone.

Right there with you, Anthony. Until:

Bisley: You’re a liberal. What should liberals be critiquing their own side for?

Bourdain: There’s just so much. I hate the term political correctness, the way in which speech that is found to be unpleasant or offensive is often banned from universities. Which is exactly where speech that is potentially hurtful and offensive should be heard.

Alright, you’re starting to lose me a bit. In America, political correctness is really nothing more than politeness. Everyone thinks it’s about “offensive” speech. It is, but there’s a distinction to be made between saying the word “fuck” and saying the word “ni**er” or “faggot”. If we’re saying that we support uncomfortable truth telling, then I’m good with that-unless you are trying to hurt someone because of who they are. So really, I’m not sure what Bourdain is getting at unless his head is full of straw and he’s just mouthing platitudes. To be fair, Bourdain is talking about saying fuck, I guess- as he goes on to defend comedians. But that’s not political correctness that comedians are pushing against. That’s more like attacking censorship. And I support that.

Here’s where Bourdain fucks up royally:

The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now.

The self-congratulatory tone of the privileged left—just repeating and repeating and repeating the outrages of the opposition—this does not win hearts and minds.

Ever just get sick of liberals who somehow channel right wing stereotypes of themselves?

In fashion today is being a contrarian. This type of thinker sometimes imagines himself as elevated above partisan discourse because he can describe the warts upon his peers’ thinking just as well as his nemeses. Disagreeing with everyone, often for the sake of disagreeing, is the name of the game. People who have ego problems often exhibit this.

Herein lies danger, and Bourdain and many others do not see it.

No one will remember what you said about the other side. They will remember what you said about yours and throw it in your face at a later date. Everything the right wing thinks of liberals gets validated when we try to be “above the fray” or pretend to a false, guilt ridden self awareness.

That’s why Esquire repeated what you said just there and not much else, Anthony. The headline is that a liberal criticized liberals. I am 100% sure that the right wing media is sharing the fuck out of both articles, dumbass. Good job.

Let’s go back a bit, and remember that Bourdain has a beef with political correctness. What does one call this?

I’ve spent a lot of time in gun-country, God-fearing America. There are a hell of a lot of nice people out there, who are doing what everyone else in this world is trying to do: the best they can to get by, and take care of themselves and the people they love. When we deny them their basic humanity and legitimacy of their views, however different they may be than ours, when we mock them at every turn, and treat them with contempt, we do no one any good.

Wow. In addition to being prima facie evidence of political correctness, I haven’t seen the “Hitler was nice to his dog” defense in years. I think because they filled your belly and showed you a little about their way of life you think that they’re just salt of the earth, simple folk.

But anyone who votes Republican or holds conservative values is an asshole underneath, a moron and a rube. If you are taken in by ANY of it-you’ve got problems. Those god-fearing Americans also don’t care for gay rights because of their beliefs. Those gun toters show up at mosques and voting precincts armed, and some are gearing up for a new civil war. They don’t like poor people even if they are poor. They want women to go to term with every blastocyst that resides in their body. And there is no way in hell, Anthony, that they are ever going to be swayed by today’s Democratic party, where the gays and the Mexicans and the blacks and the women and the food stamp recipients find shelter. Simple people are just that-simple. And that lack of complexity is what makes them dangerous to others not like them. If believing this makes me smug and self congratulatory, so be it. I call a spade a spade. The red states have many sins to atone for. They will never change. Trump represents hate-there’s no two ways about it and if you heard something you liked from him and pulled the lever for Republicans, you are a damn fool and a hater too. Kim Davis probably makes a great quiche but she is a horrible human being.

Now is not the time to level conservative judgements at the liberal movement. Actually, it’s never time for it.

Hillary Clinton did her damn best to promise everyone a better future and it did no good. It was not our fault we lost, nor was it Bill Maher’s fault, who apparently is what he thinks of when he thinks about the left. Lighten up, Anthony. He’s a comedian, and he can be unpleasant and offensive. I thought you were into that. Make up your mind.

So the rubes made you dinner, dude. That doesn’t mean you understand them. Sometimes your gut is wrong.

Tucker Carlson Is Still An Asshole

Every now and then I get frequent hits on old postings. Let me rank 2016’s most popular posts.

April 2016: Coming in a distant third is a piece on police brutality.

March 2016: A story about Nancy Reagan’s oral talents came in second.

And then, with absolutely no explanation, with more hits than second and third place put together…

May 2015: I relate that Tucker Carlson is an asshole.

Tucker continues to this very day to bring hits to my little site. I am aware that I am the third return for “tucker carlson is an asshole” on Google. Now granted, Tucker’s riding high as ever, with a hotshit website, a fellowship at Cato, and a new job at Fox. But I didn’t know that so many folks are searching for insults toward the man because of it.

What’s the deal, gang?

Well, I guess since Tucker is such a draw, I must write about him again. I’m sure he’s out there, being an asshole about something, somewhere. Let me take a look.

First hit: Tucker Carlson’s war on elitism. Let’s talk about that. I sure want to hear what a man who wore a fucking bowtie for half his professional career has to say about the snobbish.

Right now, we have a majority of the voting population who hates “elitism”. As usual, conservatives are remarkably challenged about what an “elite” is. Actual elites are making up 90% of the Trump cabinet, and the man himself is one as well. All he did was say enough Everyman dumb shit, repeated a bunch of Big Lies,  and the rubes wanted more. See, “elitist” has become a epithetic substitution for “knowledgeable”. If you speak over the level of a fourth grader and critically think out of the box at all, you must be living in an ivory tower(whatever the fuck that means). So basically, what we are staring in the face come ’17 is an all-out war on academia and the press. The conservative rabble wants Newspeak, not facts. I have gotten into the muck more than I care to admit by arguing with them, and it’s getting to the point where I don’t understand what they are saying anymore because they use all this weird quasi-jargon they’ve picked up by “non-elitist” media. The advent of talk radio conglomerates gave us Rush Limbaugh, who made a living attacking institutions (calling public schools “scruels”…man, I love conservative humor, don’t you?) and people by turning words like “liberal” and “feminist” into insults. I mean, I could go back to Bircherism to find the roots of conservative Newspeak-others may be able to go farther back than that, like Chip Berlet. But this trash is now accessible to anyone who can push a button. The thing is, bullshit gubbermint conspiracies like “socialism” and “multiculturalism” are much easier to believe in than actual political science or persuasive journalism that is trying to warn them that Republicans are gunning for poor peoples’ food and medicine, or that hate crimes are on the rise or that Trump is militarizing his foreign policy outreach or that cutting taxes is ruining Kansas and your state might be next and I could go on and on. Thinking, it turns out, is hard. Something has gone seriously wrong where we stop believing our educated resources for facts. In their place is Donald Trump’s Twitter account.

So anyway, can Tucker Carlson say something intelligent about the elite and elitism?

Carlson, a conservative journalist who most recently founded The Daily Caller, a right-leaning online publication, holds ardent views about small government, excessive regulation, and a multitude of other issues typically shared among Republicans.

But the issue he perhaps is most passionate about these days cuts across party lines: He describes it as a distaste for elitism, particularly among political journalists who reside in the Acela corridor.

“What bothers me is the lack of self-awareness. I don’t know if I have ever met a group less self-aware than political reporters,” Carlson told Business Insider in a recent interview. “They honestly don’t believe that there are legitimate alternative views of anything. And like most small-minded and dumb people they are very, very quick to dismiss anything they don’t understand as crazy.”

Hm. Tucker Carlson is a political reporter and runs a site full of them. Must be non-self aware, I guess. IOKIYAR. He is basically signing on to the Trump credo that there aren’t any facts anymore. Truths are relative. While this may philosophically be a tenable position, it’s a scary way to play politics. There are facts and things we can know for certain, and they are not challengeable by “alternative views”. They are, to be blunt, wrong. A great example of this recently was the Weather Channel having to correct Breitbart for misrepresenting and misunderstanding the fundamentals of climate change. The “legitimate alternative view” was that the planet is cooling. It turns out that Breitbart didn’t know what the fuck it was talking about. And that is the fundamental characteristic of these views-they’re ill-informed. And they’re all over the place, thanks to people like Carlson who quixotically try to bring the “elite” down.

Small minded and dumb, eh, Tucker?

Pro-ject-ion. I’m all for keeping an open mind, but I’m not listening to bullshit.

What other non self-aware stuff is he saying in yonder story about elites?

Following Trump’s unforeseen election victory, the journalism community went into self-evaluation mode, hoping to understand how it had failed to see a Trump win on the horizon.

One of the immediate conclusions was that reporters had become too encapsulated in some sort of bubble. They had failed to detect, and thus understand, the sentiment of Americans residing in the heartland.

That was a conclusion with which Carlson wholeheartedly agreed.

Referencing a widely circulated quote from conservative Wisconsin-based talk-radio host Charlie Sykes, in which he suggested conservative voters were stuck in a bubble and only accepting news from right-wing sources, Carlson said the same was true of the mainstream media.

“It’s the mirror image of the world I live in,” Carlson said. “In Washington, no one believes anything unless it comes from The New Yorker, New York Times editorial page, or The Washington Post. There’s not just one bubble.”

Tucker Fucking Carlson lives in a two million dollar DC home. What world does he live in? Bueller?

At least Tucker can admit he’s in a bubble…almost. But watch carefully what Carlson is up to. He’s slandering Northeastern liberalism and the educated folk who come from there. It’s the permanently blue-voting land of ultimate urbanity-young, crowded, relatively wealthy, politically active, and schooled well enough to have a sense of social responsibility to the least of them. He’s from fucking San Francisco, so he knows those are his people across the way. But for whatever reason, Tucker probably prefers the opinions of some cow humpers in North Dakota or West Virginia instead because I figure he’s in love with the Lockean idea that workers of the land create something special and very important to Carlson and conservatives in general-property, and to a larger degree, he’s also heavily invested in the idolization of work. So he’s also fond of the opinions of people whom industry has left behind in the Midwest, I guess. Those (white) people are easy to rile up and you don’t have to look far for scapegoats. But it’s not that Carlson loves labor-he loves the authenticity, in my opinion. It helps him deal with the fact that he’s good for nothing. He’s a goddamn Episcopalian, which makes him about as necessary as an atheist in the Baptist land, but that’s another one of Carson’s adopted milieus. He romanticizes the heartland in some bizarre mechanism of self-loathing. At bottom, it’s likely a cynical calculation has also been made. Conservative media has been a cottage industry for well-nigh on two decades now, and the Daily Caller, like all right-wing projects, has a built-in, heavily propagandized and guaranteed readership/viewership.

Carlson is naive at best, and dangerous at worst to single out certain news outlets that cover Washington-two of those are papers of record, and for all their faults, are still doing the heavy lifting in journalism while the rest of us copy it. I suspect Tucker doesn’t get the cartoons in the New Yorker, so he threw them in there as well. But what I want to make clear is that he’s doing exactly what Trump and the rest of the conservative information outlets are doing-trying very hard to make people resistant to factual news. They’ve made a cuss word, a smear out of the term “mainstream”.  More code and dog-whistling. If your average brainwashed Republican rube sees or hears that, they know instinctively that it is false information and can be tuned out.

This is all coming from a rather longish profile of Carlson. And my response is getting long. I may have to put this in installments, because it’s rather distracting at this point. Can I stay interested in him long enough to finish this screed? Can you?

No School Like Homeschool

I could have been homeschooled, if it were legal in my childhood. My mother was very protective of me and if I didn’t feel comfortable with the public schooling I got, she made a stink until I was exempt from the curriculum. And so it was that I missed 6th grade sex education, and got out of reading “Rabbit, Run” in 9th. My little fragile eggshell mind couldn’t deal with the topic of sex and sensuality. I was afraid of it, and my mother allowed me to fear it, because her Christianity taught that it was fornication outside of marriage. When I became born again myself, I felt that too. And even when I left the church and faith behind, the problems I had with sex and the sex act remained.

I didn’t fuck my first girlfriend at all and we went out for 3 years.

I’m still having sexual issues today.

There may be no continuum that links these happenings. Yet, I feel that I was grossly unprepared to be a sexual being and do attribute some of my problems today with the ones I had.

Alright. That’s enough of the personal. I’m going to talk a little about the twin phenomena of homeschooling and Christianity.

Teaching is a tough job. That’s why it should be done by teachers. But zealous Christian parents are afraid that their children will learn about sex and evolution. So they are somehow allowed to teach at home without biology and other sciences being properly presented. Add copious doses of biblical teaching, and voila, you have an uncurious, neurotic youngster who’s ill-prepared to meet the world as it really exists. And I guess that is the point, since for Christians there is much concern about “the world” and how full of evil and temptation it is.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think you should be teaching if you refer to the Bible as the authority on everything. You are going to fuck your kid up and make them believe stupid things instead of know smart things, smart things that public schools could have introduced them to.

Moving right along, let’s talk about math. Math is critical to understanding how the universe works. I am very bad at math, and so I am limited in my understanding of the damn thing. There seems to be a sort of precision to the way things are ordered. Superclusters of galaxies are distributed evenly throughout the universe. Nothing travels faster than light, which always travels at the same speed. General relativity explains the relation of gravity, mass and energy. Why, if you look at the world around you, some things are arranged by a recurring fractal pattern.

Small wonder that St. Paul thought everything was arranged perfectly, and proved to him the existence of a being, a designer who made that perfection for us. But that vision breaks down even at observable levels-climate is changing because the earth is getting hotter, storms are more destructive than ever.Volcanoes and earthquakes and floods and droughts and wars kill millions. In the theoretical world, our math is beginning to hit barriers as physicists try to grapple with quantum mechanics and strange unseen matter that has to be there because the numbers say so. Nothing is chock full of something. It’s all up in the air-it is a bewildering time to be a scientist, and yet so exciting too. But the bottom line is, the more we know, the less we understand and that is the current cycle of science. That’s a feature, not a bug.

But if you want to be an ignoramus, just claim that Jesus created math. That is not only an affront to history, it’s based on the mistaken idea that it is perfect as only a creator could be. So anyway, this dildock  who homeschools is postulating exactly that. He spins a parable:

Good morning class! It’s time for us to study mathematics.” The second-grade students all open their textbooks and pick up their pencils. “Let’s review first. Who can answer this question? What is 2 + 4?”

Seven-year-old Johnny raises his hand and offers an answer. “Six?”

“Very good, Johnny!” responds his government school teacher. “That’s correct.”

Fully expecting to go on to the next question, the teacher looks back at her teacher’s manual. Her thoughts are interrupted by a raised hand out of the corner of her eye. It is Johnny. He is such a precocious and inquisitive young man.

But his question catches her off guard.

“Why?”

“Why what, Johnny?”

“Why does 2+4 = 6? Does it always equal six?”

“Of course it does, Johnny. Why do you ask?”

“Well, can it ever be something different? Like, seven on Monday, and eleven on Christmas, and thirty-nine on my birthday?”

“No, of course not.”

“Why not?”

At this point, the teacher, who was not homeschooled, would have chosen something countable in the room, and proceeded to put 4 in one pile and 2 in another. She could then combine the piles and count the total. Unless Johnny wants to argue the identity of numbers themselves, he would have shut the fuck up. But that’s not the way our homeschooler looked at this supposedly intractable problem of how to explain to Johnny how math works. He thinks the teacher is in a real bind:

With this question, the teacher has just found herself in a tight spot. Like it or not, she is facing a question that, by state law, she is not permitted to answer honestly. She quickly thinks through her list of options.

Finally, she decides to answer according to the metanarrative (the big overstory) of the government school system. What most teachers spread out over 10,800 hours of K–12 instruction, she decides to truncate into one short soliloquy.

Then he has this theoretical teacher recite the “government(???)” history of the universe to get Johnny to understand. And it’s all for no reason at all, the teacher says. Sorry, Johnny. It’s all accidental.

This is considered a sad way to go through life by Christians. They’re always existentially worried that their lives have no meaning and so they’ve invented a benevolent creator who loves them and their ultimate goal is to love him back. I’m not going to bore you with why that is pathetic and wrongheaded, because fellow atheists already know.

But anyway, our homeschooler pivots away from the why of math. He wants to know the who:

If you were to ask a teacher who is committed to the official narrative of government education, “Who is the author of mathematics?”, they would respond that it was evolution, or time plus matter plus chance.

Um, no, I don’t think they would say that at all. They would point you in the direction of the ancient Egyptians and Pythagoras, or tell you to Wikipedia it like I did and fuck off. Christians think they know the nonbeliever(or the government educated) mind so well. But they’re only projecting their anxieties on you. They need people to feel as bad as they do about things, otherwise the purposeless life they thought they escaped creeps back in again.

But anyway, 2+4=6 because….

Jesus is the Author of Math

And the evidence for this? Scripture!

[He] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:15–17)

That’s all. That mystical gobbledygook is all he needs for proof. QED. No need for pesky science because this holy book has it covered. The miniscule scraps of some letters to a church from a bedazzled monk are far more reliable than anything man has ever postulated. Fuck me running. Who’s crazier, the guy who discovered virtual particles or this homsechool Jesus freak who thinks the government is trying to indoctrinate your kids into…learning? To be honest, it’s getting harder to tell but just because it’s a wiggly world, it doesn’t mean I’m going to lose my mind over it.

I need music. Here.

 

Bad Penny

Cronyismnoun, derogatory:the appointment of friends and associates to positions of authority, without proper regard to their qualifications.

Kakistocracy-Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.

Sycophantnoun: a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage.

Get used to seeing these words in the next few years. Well, I’ll be using them here a lot because they’re so pertinent to what will become the Trump administration.

With good reason, everybody is crapping their Pampers over Donald Trump’s nominations. He’s putting friends and donors in high places, and he’s even considering former rivals of his. Here’s a few examples. He’s nominated Betsy DeVos, a well known conservative billionaire donor and god-bothering public school hater, to head the Department Of Education. Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn was at Trump’s side as an advisor on foreign affairs during the campaign and now the paranoid, Islamophobic retread is being called up as his man on national security. Mitt Romney is groveling for a spot as Secretary of State. I’m sure you’ve all seen the picture of him and Trump at dinner, but it says so much I’ll put it up here:

trump-romney-exlarge-169

If chosen, he will probably be the smartest and least reckless hire Trump will make, much as I dislike his rich privileged ass.

There’s another former rival who is being considered for HUD.

I can’t believe I have to talk about this guy again. He’s back.

Thanks, Trump.

Yes, we need to talk about Ben Carson, Dr. Smart Stupid.

As many of you may know, I haven’t been kind to Ben in the past, for a number of reasons. He’s made me sputter curse after curse after curse against him because he’s so fucking ignorant about everything except neurosurgery. He’s about as well informed as Donald Trump-he has no facts, just opinions and eyerolling bullshit to offer on any subject you like. Maybe that’s why they will get along.

So what does Gentle Ben know about housing? Only what he thinks he knows, as usual:

In the housing sphere, a recent study on behalf of the Department of Housing and Urban Development found that black and Asian homeseekers are shown or told about 15 to 19 percent fewer homes than whites with similar credit qualifications and housing interests. During the subprime lending boom, African Americans with good credit scores were 3.5 times as likely as whites with good credit scores to receive higher-interest-rate loans, and Latinos were 3.1 times as likely to receive such loans. And the Federal Reserve found that in 2009, African Americans were twice as likely to be denied a loan, even controlling for income and other qualifying criteria.

Carson believes that, despite this continuing discrimination, the Fair Housing Act needs to be weaker. In his Washington Times op-ed, the former surgeon labeled disparate impact suits “mandated social-engineering schemes,” and dismissed them as part of a “history of failed socialist experiments in this country.” Carson also aligned himself with a dissenting opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, which would have eliminated such suits under the Fair Housing Act.

So successfully suing because you have been discriminated against due to your race is part of”mandated social engineering schemes” and the Fair Housing provisions are “failed socialist experiments”.

I know, folks. They need to invent their own dictionary since normal people don’t know what the fuck conservatives are often going on about. They have their own Wikipedia and Facebook(though that one may have failed). They talk in a code only they understand. Let me try to parse the argle-bargle.

Let’s look at the loaded scare words first- “mandated” and “schemes”. They evoke ideas of mandatory participation in a system that is trying (“scheming”) to fool you. They don’t really mean anything. As for social engineering-someone needs to get Ben a history book not from Texas and explain that his black ass wouldn’t be anywhere without mandated social engineering-one of those tools used for said engineering was the Thirteenth Amendment. It said no more owning people. Another was the Civil Rights Act. No more discrimination in businesses and much more. If those aren’t social engineering…what is? Social engineering helps promote equality-and I bet since Ben made his first million, he hasn’t given a fuck about that because money is the key to escaping the problems that social engineering was created to address. As always, the conservative mantra-“fuck you, I got mine.”

Then we have more scare words in “failed” and “experiments”. If conservatives say something is “failed” enough, people will believe it(see entire Trump campaign). And “experiments” are only done on rabbits and holocaust Jews, not ordinary upstanding citizens! And unfailingly, conservatives still do not know what “socialism” means. When and if it ever comes, Ben, you’ll know about it. Until the last capitalist deposits the last check in the Cayman Islands, we won’t have socialism. Admittedly, we employ some progressivity (or liberalism, whatever you prefer) that looks like socialism, but isn’t interested in upending the social order or changing the ownership of the means of production-it just tries to smooth out the bad outcomes for people who may be left behind. As I said, Ben Carson doesn’t have to worry about bad outcomes, since he’s in the big bucks club. He doesn’t want to pay it forward, he wants to hold every penny. His only bad outcomes are missing the tax loopholes his accountant finds.

Ben Carson hates his race, unless it helps him be a token in the Richie-Rich crowd. Yeah, I fucking said it. If you disagree, show me that he doesn’t. Because his comments about housing, which is a basic human right, don’t show it. He is out of touch as out of touch can be. He doesn’t seem to understand the real reasons why there aren’t more Ben Carsons or Barack Obamas, and doesn’t really care. As far as I know, he could care less what happens to blacks or anyone else who can’t cough up the dough for a roof over their head now that he’s respected in the white world. But if he does deign to speak to the disenfranchised and disadvantaged, I can hear him now, lecturing to them about bootstraps and library cards as they hold three jobs to sustain the mortgage that my white ass would get a discount on-if they get a mortgage at all.

 

Identification, Please

I’ve seen a lot of thinkpieces about why the Democrats were defeated last month. Where did we go wrong? Did we make bad choices? Is there something structurally unsound in our outreach?

It is natural for us to reflect like this after being stunned. But we Democrats and good liberals are beating ourselves up unnecessarily. So badly, in fact that we are considering abandoning our core mission, which is to stand up for the mistreated and misunderstood elements of our society.

In other words, we did not lose by employing what is called “identity politics”. The phrase seems to have taken on a pejorative quality. We’re afraid to say it, lest the other side use it against us.

Fact: Hillary Clinton was more popular than Donald Trump.

Fact: The nature of the Electoral College screwed us.

Fact: Donald Trump tapped into white ressentiment. Bigly.

Everyone seems to be forgetting the real causes of why we could not win this past election. Instead, many of us seem ready to tear up our coalition and retool the Democratic message.

Ahem. No.

I don’t see how you can be liberal and not want to defend the voting rights of minorities. I don’t see how you can be liberal and not defend equal pay for equal work. I don’t see how you can be liberal and not want to defend the right to love who you want to love. I don’t see how you can be liberal and not want immigrants to live in fear.

These problems, whether we like it or not, are shackled to specific identities and we’re foolish to pretend otherwise.

The beginning of the liberal revolt against identity politics here in America can be traced back to what appears to be a misreading of some quotes in a speech by Bernie Sanders two weeks after the election. He allegedly said:

“Boston Magazine reported that an audience member told Sanders that she wanted to become the second Latina elected to the U.S. Senate and asked for his advice. Sanders responded by urging the crowd to move the Democratic Party away from what he called “identity politics.”

“It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me.’ That is not good enough,” he said, according to WBUR. “What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industries.”

Sanders’s big finish: “One of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics.”

This caused an avalanche of editorializing about how we should stop focusing on things like race, sexual preference, sex, and culture. That’s how we lost the election, they say. This British fop exemplarizes just how far this thinking goes:

“In America, as in Europe, older, white men are the only group that liberals can abuse and exclude with impunity.

British liberals, of whatever party, have spent the past six months fleeing one trauma after another, hurling insults over their shoulders. But as John Stuart Mill said: “He who knows only his own side of a case, knows little of that.”

The apostles of identity liberalism have fallen into Mill’s trap. They see authoritarianism in others, but not in themselves. They see discrimination in others, but not their own.”

If those older white men are anti-democratic, then yes, they will be excluded and dismissed. If they are racists and homophobes, you bet we don’t need you in the tent. I don’t think that just because someone was brought up in a different “time”, he’s allowed to hold discriminatory values. There’s nothing authoritarian or discriminatory about it-I’m intolerant of intolerance and I think I can speak for most liberals when I say that.

I could dig up other examples of this backlash against identity politics, much of it penned by white males who identify as liberal. They believe that class structures need to be attacked instead. Well, I have news for them-being “working class” is an identity too. There’s really no escaping the understanding that groups have similar and often unique problems. Furthermore, there’s intersections aplenty with your class status and your “identity”.

What I’m going to say is important, at least to me: groups were not created by liberals. Groups were created when the first African American received the first lash on their back. Groups were created when men refused to allow women to vote or do what they feel is right with their body. Groups were created when the first National Guardsman fired on the first striking mine worker. Groups were created when gay people were murdered because of religious hatred. When we started treating people different because they were just that-different or lesser-that’s when we created identity politics. We’ve been divided because that is how we chose to be. And speaking directly to those myriad groups who have had negative experiences in a white/hetero/christian dominated society is no sin-it’s what makes us good. We hate the injustice. And we will beat injustice’s ass someday soon. It is our principal fight.

Fortunately, it is very likely Bernie Sanders was misunderstood . “Going beyond identity politics” means we can go deeper and still not abandon civil rights. Interweaving class struggle and identity politics is exactly where we need to go as strategies for winning. It’s unclear at this point how many poor white Christian males can be brought to our side, if of course that’s the quarry we are chasing. The propaganda has been laid on thick and they  vote against their own interests time and time again, because the right wing plays a nasty version of identity politics themselves. In the meantime, let’s stop being ashamed of what it means to be a liberal.

Eye Of Newt

Yesterday, I talked a little bit about the possibility that Trump is purposefully distracting the media with outrageous tweets and playing up drama so he can assemble the Cabinet Of Darkest Evil and run away with the taxpayer’s money. I said I doubted he was that smart and I stick by that. For example, he’s hooked on Twitter like I’m hooked on Facebook. He’s locked in mortal combat with his detractors-even when they are 16 years old. He doesn’t like that he got caught with no evidence of the massive voter fraud that he alleged took place, so he asked people to prove that there wasn’t any.

Oh, brother. This is like people asking me to prove that God doesn’t exist after I ask for proof that he does. This is known in smart people circles as “trying to prove a negative”, which, as I understand it, is often not possible nor useful to a logical argument. I could make up just about anything, much like Mr. Trump-and demand proof that what I said is not true and you will not be able to do it if my claim is outrageous enough and beyond the realm of disprovability. Therefore: if you have no proof that God doesn’t exist, he must. It’s absurd on its face. If you have become an Internet ninja, you know that these logical fallacies are verboten, almost as bad as not knowing how to punctuate or use their/there/they’re correctly. Me, I’m still an apprentice ninja, because advanced formal logic involves word problems and math, neither of which I will ever be any good at. I can spot some of the easy ones, perhaps maybe someday I will be a better arguer.

Anyway, Newt Gingrich has come to his defense on Fox, and he is confident that Donald Trump is playing games with the media on purpose by pushing false or misleading information:

During an interview with Fox News, former House Speaker Gingrich said that Trump’s success on the show The Apprentice taught him how to play up the “tension” and “showmanship” surrounding his incoming presidency.

Gingrich explained that Trump diverts the media with “rabbits,” or unimportant stories to throw them off from pursuing real stories.

“[Trump] understands the value of tension. He understands the value of showmanship. And candidly, the news media is going to chase the rabbit. So it’s better off for him to give them a rabbit than for them to go find their own rabbit.”

I think from his perspective, that’s terrific. It gives everyone something to talk about.”

“He does not think of this as chaos. He thinks of this as creativity,” Gingrich added.

Try not to throw up or throw something after reading that.

Let me get this straight, Newt- what you are saying is: it’s OK for the president-elect to make up things, spread disinformation and dissemble…I mean, c’mon people, that’s just his style! It made great TV, so it’ll make a great presidency! What chaos?

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. From being the most dangerous Speaker of the House in modern history to flacking for the most mentally challenged man ever to assume the presidency.

Newt, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to provide a little more proof that Donald Trump’s behavior is “creative”. In a twist of logic, it would be easier to prove that he isn’t. Just roll the tapes.

Burning Questions

1984: Joey Johnson, a communist rabble rouser, went to Texas to protest Reagan administration policies at the Republican National Convention. He and his comrades trashed their protest route, spray painting and vandalizing businesses. One of them pulled an American flag from its pole along the way. At the Dallas city hall, Joey lit that flag on fire.

Common sense would suggest that everyone in the group should’ve been arrested for their various antics. But that’s not how things work in America. Only Joey Johnson was arrested-because of what he did to that flag. You see, Texas had a law about destroying “venerated” symbols and representations. He was convicted, and received fines and remanded to a year in prison.

Yes, back then you could get majorly busted because you disrespected a piece of cloth. Johnson and his lawyers appealed the conviction, and after upholding and turnover by lower courts, his case went to the Supreme Court. They ruled in Johnson’s favor, citing first amendment concerns regarding his right to free speech. Even Antonin Scalia, who was never much for extending rights that offended his sense of originalism, concurred that flag burning is symbolic speech.

1989: Congress passes a new version of a flag protection statute. This did not survive a Supreme Court challenge.

1995-2006: Every session of Congress tried to pass a flag desecration amendment. Failure. It would have been the most bizarre use of the Constitution since Prohibition, the only time it was used to limit freedom and action.

So it’s settled. Now, it has been pointed out to me that just because something is settled case law doesn’t mean that good jurisprudence has been applied. We can look at things like Dred Scott or Plessy and know this to be true. But it seems like there is no judicial or political will great enough to stop someone from burning the flag. Personally, I agree with the courts-it’s just a flag and if you are not proud of it, you don’t have to respect it. That is your right in what is ostensibly the freest country in the world. A lack of patriotism is not a crime. Now of course that offends certain sensibilities because the first thing some like to cite when getting enraged about disrespect for the flag is that so many soldiers died fighting under the colors for “freedom”. I’m a veteran who wore the flag on my shoulder and I think that argument is garbage-it should be fairly clear to anyone with an acquaintance with the nearly unbroken string of wars we have participated in that we are rarely, if ever in it for freedom’s sake. Start by asking the Indians and work your way up to Iraqis to find out how we do freedom. I asked the Iraqis. They were fucking pissed, because in removing Saddam Hussein, we scorched that country with ruthless destruction and the whole country fell apart as a result. You will remember that primary targets were infrastructure in our “shock and awe” campaign, and I still don’t think they can keep the lights on all day in Baghdad. We know well now what Iraq was really all about-selling off the country’s resources to the oil companies and enriching friends of Dick Cheney.

Anyway:

November 29, 2016: President-elect Donald Trump tweets that flag burners should lose their citizenship and go to jail.

What the everloving fuck? Where did that come from? Is this occurrence an impending epidemic that requires a statement from the guy’s who’s going to run the planet? Did someone torch a flag in public lately?  Trump must’ve seen this story on Fox. I mean, I know Trump’s a born again fascist and he’s really enamored of the colored cloth as you can see here:

Donald Trump

Yeah, I can’t believe he’s gonna be president either. I’m revulsed and shocked by this bizarre hypernationalistic display, not to mention how it showcases the president elect’s  mental juvenility by hugging a fucking inanimate object. And  the bitch of all this is that it’s not the flag he cares about, it’s why the students burned it-because of his win of the presidency. And like a whiny ass titty baby, his thin skin couldn’t take the affront.

In the wake of the tweet, the media has gone in a few directions with interpreting it. One popular reaction is to stop paying attention to Trump’s online behavior because it is a red herring deployed to get us not thinking about what he’s really up to with his controversial staff and cabinet picks and his conflicts of interest that show that Trump is out for nothing but to enrich himself. I don’t think this theory holds much water-there is ample journalism available to watch Orange Caligula lose his head on social media and point out that his advisers are maniacs, lackeys, and deregulation freaks as well. Highlighting both paints a more complete picture of this fucking nutbar. Another strain of thought is that he is working on undermining the media by bypassing it, and this makes it very difficult for journalists to fight against that because you’ve got a self reinforcing rightwing news system(of which Fox is a large part of) that will report anything this idiot says. And when straight journalism tries to undo the lies and misinformation and just plain lunacy, he can say that the media is biased. Believing Trump’s tweets are a great way to have shit for brains and never have any real information, but some people, namely 1/2 the country like it. But the point is that it becomes harder for journalists to do the persuading that needs doing because Trump’s conditioning people to not listen. Ominous, eh? However, I don’t think Trump is smart enough to know that he’s declawing the press by lying and making up things that they will find false and therefore show their bias. He’s as much a victim of the phenomenon of instant communication as we all are, where any unexpurgated brain rot can be shared with hundreds of thousands of people.

As for me, I think it just makes him look like the ill-informed, oversensitive caveman he is and we should broadcast his dribblings far and wide in the hopes that the Electoral College will save us.

Hah! I’m kidding, the electors are morons appointed by the parties. Good fucking luck with that. Good fucking luck to us all, we’re gonna need it. I picked a terrible time to stop drinking.

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UPDATE: Mitch McConnell says that Donald Trump can eat his unwiped asshole if he tries to bring the flag burning issue before Congress. Mitch Fucking McConnell, who busied himself subverting the Constitution nearly all of this year by withholding advice and consent from President Obama on the Court vacancy, is on the correct side of this issue. And his disinterest in Donald Trump’s brain droppings remains even as he prepares to make McConnell’s wife part of the Cabinet. I look forward to these two weasels fighting each other in the future.

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