Talking Politics 2020: Libs Are Children


So this liberal friend of a friend posted some bullshit about Republicans justifying sex criminals in their ranks and I commented (I shoulda known this was a bad idea) “Tara Reade would like a word.” He responded by kind of agreeing, admitting that she was poorly treated. And then he said “Joe Biden should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” which to me, sounded like absolute bullshit, like lip service. Like something you’d say to a child, you know that there’s no chance of that happening but you say it to comfort them.

I asked him, when and how he could be held accountable (idk why he brought up Law, idgaf about Law in this case), and he was like “I genuinely don’t care.”

Bringing up the Law was such a surprising move. We’re talking about Former Vice President Joseph Robinette Biden here. The law doesn’t exist for people like him. The only consequences that mattered were not in courts of law but the court of public opinion. I found it most frustrating that this supposedly smart, nuanced understander of politics would frame the thing like that.

I responded saying something to the effect of, “wow you’re more Jokerfied/Blackpilled than I am, hat’s off to you, but seriously you can’t decontextualize this issue, there’s an election in a few weeks,” I said this because, in Reality, any accountability for Joe, for this or anything else, is a boon to Republicans. In fact they’d be the ones doing it. You know they’re going to be gunning for his ass from the jump, they want revenge for Trump getting impeached.

At that point he got huffy and ended the conversation. Few minutes later his wife (who is my friend from HS and I love her to pieces even though she was a Liz Lady and a staunch Anti-Berner) made a separate comment and laid out the situation; voting for a 24 time accused rapist or a 1 time alleged rapist with a penchant for sniffing. She made the Lesser Evil case for Joe, but here’s the important part, she never said any platitudinal horse hockey about Joe being held accountable in the future. This morning I replied to her saying thank you for not indulging in the fantasy of a future reckoning for Joe Biden. Few minutes later, I’m blocked.

Am I the asshole? I know I shouldn’t have started the whole thing but I was feeling froggy. I would have let it go but the fucking thoughtlessness of saying that stuff about holding Joe accountable as though that’s something that could happen, and then doubling down on it. I couldn’t let that go, partially because he’s a pretty smart dude, like he has writings about feminism and shit. Only thing I can think is, the way my comment and the subsequent thread drifted further and further afield from his OP and he just got offended that his precious post had been hijacked. I mean he did it to himself with that “hold Joe accountable,” nonsense.

Imagine Being Upset Over Tim Allen in 2019

So me and a coworker were early to a meeting, so I made small talk. I asked if he’d seen The Irishman, and he said no. I gave my quick review, yeah, it’s slow but it’s really good, fantastic performances, especially Pesci. My coworker proceeded to tell me about how he doesn’t like Robert DeNiro b/c of his public political statements, and then started teeing off on celebrities in general having opinions. I responded that hey, it cuts both ways, right? And he brings up Tim Allen and how ABC screwed him over.

Hol up. Tim Allen is still, to this day, on TV. He had a starring role in one of the biggest movies of the year, Toy Story 4, from the biggest studio in the universe. Also, that shit happened in 2017, effectively three years ago now.

And let’s compare and contrast opinions, shall we? De Niro said “Fuck Trump.” Pretty harsh, hard to go harder at someone in two words than that. That was the big one, when he said that at the Tony Awards in 2018. I thought for all the world that’s what he was referring to. But, I checked, De Niro has made a lot of public statements expressing disdain for President Trump since then, even up to today.

Tim Allen has said a lot of conservative things over the years, and has, to hear him tell it, paid for those opinions by getting temporarily cancelled on ABC, only to get signed to FOX shortly after. Talking about this, and other forms of discrimination he’s faced, he compared conservatives in Hollywood to Jews in 1930s Germany. Because, y’know, we’re all familiar with stories of Jewish people getting fired from their TV show and getting re-hired by another network, that was Kristallnacht, right?

Of all the things to be mad about, here I am, stewing over someone whose worldview is so foreign to me that they can really be upset about a washed up sitcom star being temporarily out of work. So yeah, people really do be upset about Tim Allen in 2019.

That people is me.

It’s disgusting that someone can have such a myopic, persecuted idea of What Is Going On that they use Tim Allen as their handy talking point to support their idea of Hollywood’s Anti-Conservatism, and then thinking that that Anti-Conservatism is A Big Deal. Holy shit! How fucking removed from reality do you have to be to think that?

There is a world full of real horrible things happening to real people. People being murdered by governments and corporations, often in collusion with one another. So I don’t have too many fucks left over for some indignation over a comedian being inconvenienced for a short amount of time, and then compares that inconvenience to, literally, the Holocaust.

About That Hypothetical “Secret” Senate Vote in Newsweek

Today I saw this article from Newsweek about a hypothetical Senate vote on Trump’s maybe future impeachment with one important twist: it’s a secret ballot where no one’s vote is made public. Long story short, according to a GOP insider, they believe that up to 30 Republican Senators would defect from their party’s leader—as long as their vote remained secret. That part is italicized so we don’t blow past it, I think it means everything.

Simply put, “if vote was secret,” means, “this would not count and cannot be relied upon for accurate prediction.”
There are likely Democrat Senators (Manchin at least) that would vote to acquit, precisely because it’s not a secret vote.
I don’t want to pour cold water on this, if this is true it could be a harbinger for real results. It could be said that Republicans are more willing to go against Trump. Things like the recent Senate vote about not diverting money from military families to the stupid Racist Wall (sorry I’m not using the made up PC terms, Racist Wall is exactly tf what it is) is a sign that the GOP might be turning.
All I’m saying is, we’ve got countless examples of politicians “privately feeling” one way but voting completely opposite. Look at almost any elected official’s twitter, they’re sounding the alarm for this or that cause, they look like a real crusader!
Check their voting record. Check what legislation they’ve brought. Check their donors. Private feelings can fuck off if your Official Acts as an Elected Official show no follow through. You’re in office for fuck’s sake, why are you only tweeting about it?
Tweeting’s for dipshits like me who have no power so we howl into the void that is social media, crying for a world that we know can exist while simultaneously mourning the Fact that it can’t because the oligarchs have taken so much control of media that a successful voting bloc can be reliably coached out of supporting challengers to the power structure. Elected Officials should be out there doing stuff, starting investigations, introducing legislation, etc., on top of the twitter rabble rousing. That’s the way movements work. People do Their part. If you down with the movement, esteemed Holder of Office, your part is: do Elected Official stuff. Get shit on record. Act for your constituents and the marginalized everywhere, and your record will speak louder than the slickest produced TV ad. Words are wind.

Racists Are Emboldened

Imagine a sequence of events like this. I wrote this with the San Bernadino attack in mind:

 

People do attacks like San Bernadino.
People admit they were nervous about the attackers before, and think they could have prevented the attack if they’d reported.
People didn’t report out of fear of being branded racist.

~Fast forward a few years, Trump elected, alt-right is a thing, neonazis ranks swell (not that those things are all directly related, but there are connections that aren’t hard to notice)~

People call the cops or ICE (or threaten to do so) on people of color doing nothing wrong.
People do this at least in part b/c they remember the Monday morning quarterbacking of San Bernadino.
People remember those attacks and say, “not on my watch,” or some heroic phrase, and speak up, sensing their moment of greatness.
People correctly publicly shamed for being racist.

~future~

People stop reporting things out of fear of being the next viral racist sensation.
People do attacks like San Bernadino.
Repeat…

I don’t think the ending would be just like that, it’s all a bit too /r/im14andthisisdeep. But where do we go from here? I have to say, these viral vids of racist people are very entertaining, and they should carry a message of caution to people everywhere: you don’t get to call the cops on people just because you don’t like someone’s skin color. Hopefully the fools these people have made of themselves will be a deterrent to future would-be crusaders against people of color going about their business.

But we still need to talk about that other thing. The actual situation where people are actually planning to do a killing spree. As with everything, there is no simple solution. Setting the bar for what it should take to alert the authorities will reveal counterexamples that disprove it. For example, say you want the new rule to be, “people moving duffel bags that appear heavy” as a sufficiently suspicious activity. It might be that heavy duffel bags contain an arsenal of guns or incendiary devices, but let’s look at it. Heavy is relative. Duffel bags could contain lots of things. On the other hand, clever attackers would find ways to evade this rule. There’s a point where anything short of seeing people with guns in their hands would be considered rude or racist.

The real answer is that there is no. Bad people are going to do bad things. I don’t want to make this about gun laws, but, let’s be honest, there are gun laws that could definitely make it harder for bad people to get so many guns. Aside from that, there’s not much to say except some mealy mouthed shit like, “know your neighbors” or, “talk to your children.” Which is not to say that those things aren’t good, but they’re not public policy.

It should be noted that, while San Bernadino is the attack I referenced at the top and I claim that it’s at least part of the reasoning of the current crop of racist cop-callers, it’s rather unique in that the attackers were not white. Most of the other mass shooters have been white males. The only other notable exceptions are Omar Mateen and the Virginia Tech shooter.

Why is this significant? Why you pointing out race, man, isn’t that racist?!

It’s significant precisely because it gives the lie to this idea that these people calling police really think they’re stopping a major tragedy.

I’m probably wrong about this connection. The people calling the cops on brown people not doing anything wrong are probably just shithead racists who have been emboldened by the alt right and Trump. And there’s no question that right wing media has helped.

Image result for not racist but number one with racists

 

Arpaio Pardon: Smart Strategy, Dumb Arguments

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With the Arpaio pardon, Trump got major exposure. Bigger than normal, because of everyone watching the storm. He said that this was by design. When this happened, the response was vocal and widespread from his critics. By releasing the news on Friday, critics had the whole weekend to be outraged about it and spread memes about what an awful person Arpaio is and how the pardon is bullshit and on and on. It’s the sort of news that you don’t have to be rabidly anti-Trump to have a distaste for. This was also by design.

Then Monday Trump defends himself in a press conference. Again, high visibility seems to be part of the strategy. In the press conference, he mentioned pardons granted by Presidents Obama and Clinton that a reasonable person may have found questionable. In the case of Clinton’s pardons, they look especially suspect. People still remember celebrating the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence, so that might not have landed as well for Trump.

Sidebar: 2 things about this argument:

1. This is the old, “your guy did this, so it’s ok that my guy did that” thing that facebook political debates are made of. the talking points go no further than to point out something kind of like the current issue having been done by the other party. Emphasis on kind of like because these counters are made with no thought of the context. For example, defending any president’s perceived or actual manipulation of the media by saying Lincoln did that and worse.

2. Why is POTUS making arguments this way to the public? Obviously, because it lends itself very well to vids with banners at the top and bottom on facebook saying “TRUMP DESTROYS JOURNALIST ON ARPAIO PARDON.” In other words, they play well to the rubes. BTW these arguments made me think again about what to make of this pardon, so I’m included here. However, I’m sure there’s more to it than this tit for tat bullshit.

This whole play, the timing of the announcement, the weekend of letting opponents spin their wheels, and the counterexamples on Monday, was kind of brilliant in the Scott Adams, Trump-as-master-persuader-playing-5D-Connect-Four sense. Think about how this plays on your Facebook feed. Friday, the pardon drops, anti-Trumpers lose their minds. Memes about what a shit Arpaio is flood the social mediaverse. Everyone thinks this is a bad thing for Trump to have done.  Two examples: Image result for arpaio pardon memesImage result for arpaio pardon memes

The whole time, Trump supporters – ostensibly still a significant portion of the population – are seeing these memes and maybe holding their tongues. Maybe a few of the older folks in the crowd share stories of being upset at a Clinton pardon they hated or something like that. For the most part, anti-Trump people think the pardon is a complete disaster and no one can imagine how Trump will recover from this misstep.

Then Monday comes, and the presser. Trump delivers that old chestnut of bullshit political arguments, cherished by all who refuse to examine events except in contrast to how “the other side” did this or that. Supporters cheer. Antis, for the most part, look at their shoes, not quite sure what to make of these counterpoints.

And there it is. If you stop looking into this topic you probably think that Trump wasn’t so wrong to pardon the former Sheriff, and that the douchebag liberals who spent the weekend bashing Trump for this have no idea about historical context.

UPDATE: It looks like the comparisons were not so apt. The biggest differences appear to be:

1. While the other questionable pardons were for people who had already served some time, Arpaio hasn’t yet, so the pardon is not merely saying he’s paid what he owes already, this pardon is a shield against any punishment whatever.

2. Arpaio defied a court order, which is what led to his conviction. By pardoning him, Trump is siding against the judge that issued it and the rule of law in general.

UPDATE 2: Ben Shapiro had some comments to support the pardon, in view of the above two points, or at least the second one, and it sounds reasonable. More to think about here.

This looks like another one of those issues that both sides will tally for their side without considering the very real counterpoints to their talking points. I can see this being one of the many “reasons to impeach Trump” on lists that are probably already circulating the social mediasphere. Conversely, it will also probably feature on lists of “great accomplishments” that supporters will be sharing around in the months and years ahead. The truth is clearly somewhere in between.

Citizen Kane: Fictional Biopic Masterpiece

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Citizen Kane is a movie that I’ve heard about for many years. It left an impact in the pop culture consciousness that resonated down the decades. Watching the film, I can see the influential nature of its story of great success accompanied by a tragic flaw leading to gradual ruin. One of the ways I measure the importance of an earlier work is how much it has been referenced or parodied in later works.

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The Film

The first shot of the film, a series of fences, can be seen as symbolizing the extreme privateness of Kane; the ominous gate representing the emotional gate that none ever breached, as we discover. The lighting was especially notable, as use of contrast. The shot of the table with Thatcher’s diary was especially beautiful. The film makes use of a “grainy film” effect during the newsreel at the beginning to show public events from Kane’s past. I found this technique very interesting, since I had long assumed it was used much later.

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The film starts at the end, deflating the drama of Kane’s death. Instead, Welles uses that as the jumping off point for the real dramatic story, the quest to understand the great man. The meeting of the journalists after the newsreel and the scene at the end when they meet again and declare defeat serve as bookends to the apparent story of the film. The other story being told is of the rise and fall of a media titan that mirrors William Randolph Hearst.

We see Kane having no interest in any of his holdings save the newspaper. His motivation for the newspaper over other things seems to be that as a newspaperman, he can communicate to the masses. In doing so, he finds he has the ability to capture the attention of people everywhere and mold public opinion. He also finds that he can use this influence to wreck his enemies. There is a relevant quote from the documentary where Hearst explained why he didn’t go into the movie business because in the newspapers you could really destroy someone. In view of this quote, it is ironic that Welles used the medium of film to attack Hearst.

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Kane, meanwhile, becomes the champion of the common man, exposing the seedy underbelly of business and politics. His turn as a politician is Trump’s personality and showmanship with Bernie Sanders’ platform. Later, when he loses the race, we gain some insight into why he does what he does. Jed confronts him about his approval seeking, or love seeking behavior. This desire for love and affection from everyone is the core of Charles Foster Kane and is part of the meaning of “Rosebud”. More about this later.

The story of Kane the newspaperman has the feel of a Behind The Music episode: an early rise to prominence, unprecedented success, call him a game changer, etc., then a tragic overreach that leads to his eventual downfall.

The film is also a detective story, as the story follows the reporter as he attempts to solve the mystery of Kane’s final words. The way the reporter’s scenes are shot brings the audience in, putting Thompson in the foreground off to the side and making the audience take the place of Thompson. The result is a more interactive experience.

As Thompson tries and fails to solve the mystery, the audience is treated to the answer Thompson was looking for all the time in that final shot with the sled burning in the incinerator.  It could be said, however, that the real answer was rather obvious when one considers Kane’s story. He is torn away from his parents as a boy, and thrust into his fortune. The psychological trauma of such an event cannot be overstated. By “Rosebud”, Kane of course is referring not just to the sled, but to the lost childhood that was taken from him. In the end, the man who could have anything he wanted only wanted the thing he once had and could not have.

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The Story Behind The Film

Seeing the documentary, The Battle Over Citizen Kane, casts the family separation aspect of Kane’s story in a new light; this is Welles the boy genius, thrust into fame at an early age and robbed of his childhood. I am reminded of Macaulay Culkin, Lindsey Lohan, Dana Plato, and a host of other people who achieved early stardom and fell to a degree due to the pressures of fame. 

More than anyone else, the story of Charles Foster Kane reminds me of Michael Jackson. The parallels are almost creepy. Youth stolen, massive fame and fortune, making headlines everywhere, eccentricities galore, a massive estate epitomizing excess, a fall from grace followed by a slow descent into obscurity and madness, an end shrouded in mystery. The mystery surrounding Jackson’s death, the suspicion of foul play, however unfounded it may have been, mirrors the mystery of Kane’s last words. In both cases, the truth may be forever lost to those seeking it. The Michael Jackson story, along with any extreme high achiever, teaches the lesson that such high achievement comes at a cost. Welles knew this lesson very well.

In the documentary, I noticed that Orson tended towards selfish, self destructive behavior. This both helped and hurt Welles the artist as it made him work incredibly hard and demand everything from his performers while also wreaking havoc on his personal life.

The real life story of Welles being hated by Hearst and Hollywood and his movie being disregarded because of what amount to personal reasons is a shame, but Welles is not entirely without blame. His seeming arrogance and his choice to go after Hearst in this film play a part. The vindication that came when the film that caused so much hate turned out to be a masterpiece was too little too late for Welles. By that time he’d already been in decline for over a decade. One wonders, if Citizen Kane received a more fair assessment upon its original release, would Orson Welles have been able to top it? Or would it be a sophomore slump? We will never know.