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.
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.
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.
Every once in a while, there’s a Trump story that makes me roll my eyes like why are you talking about this silly thing and making a big deal out of, for example, a handshake he has with some foreign whoever. Those stories help no one but they get a lot of views from the most uninformed b/c it’s a Shiny Object. It’s a result of the creep of Entertainment trappings into news media, brought on by the market forces that gave us the maxim, “if it bleeds, it leads.”
I think the media does a huge disservice when they devote so much time to frivolous stories instead of more important things. Is Sharpie-Gate totally frivolous? Not totally, but who cares? MAGA people don’t care about this, even if it’s a Federal Crime. Anti-Trumpers, #TheResistance, reasonable people, whatever we call ourselves, didn’t need this story to convince us that Trump’s a bad guy.
This whole thing is a pep rally for low-info people to yell at one another over. It’s politics for babies.
There is a relevant story in #SharpieGate: this is another in a long line of cases of Trump denying reality. This should be filed with the rest of the #25thAmendment takes, and more or less be done with. His continued insistence helps that 25th Amendment case immensely. What in the fuck is the President of The United States of America, North America, doing going on and on and on about this?
Right here. This is where I’m at when I read this story. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. This lout, this utter buffoon, is in a position to do this and we’re just captive, watching it, hanging on every word. Worse, our captivity is such that we don’t recognize it, we’re drawn to these stories like lemmings. The media prattles on endlessly about how it’s a Federal Offense and how the Trump admin is bad and they need to go, just like Send Her Back, Shithole Countries, Stable Genius, President of Puerto Rico, all the McCain attacks, Grab em By The Pussy, Inauguration Crowd, Blood Out Of Her Wherever, Good People on Both Sides, and on and on. In any other time, an entertainer who had so many moments of incoherence, stupidity, or blatant narcissistic cruelty would not be able to parlay their fame into major political office.
Everybody points to Reagan for this entertainer => POTUS pipeline, but that comparison is not apples to apples. At the time of his presidential election, Reagan had been active in politics for decades even to the point of being Governor of CA in the 60s. While we can say that Trump’s been active in politics for a long time, playing a Rich Person on TV, his role has been much less active, even if we throw in his very brief presidential run in 2000. So that’s a non-starter.
In any other time, an entertainer who tried to bluster their way through like that would get hung up on something. One of those would cause their public profile to capsize past any point of recovery. At least we’d like to think that.
Anyway, when stories like this happen, stories where Trump is literally the baby with a shitty diaper insisting that he didn’t do a poopy while the whole fucking room can smell it, these stories break me just a little bit more, to the point where I say:
Please, can we fuck off about this story already, the amount of attention it’s getting is obscene in the face of so many other real problems. So many other crises that are caused or made worse by Trump. There’s a whole world of shit going on and we’ve welded our tuner in place on WKKK, all Trump, all the time (did you see what I did with that radio callsign?) You think it’s anti-Trump but what’s going on? These callouts, they’re meaningless, MAGA people swat them away like flies. The media’s show of “holding Trump’s feet to the fire” are toothless. I feel like I’m watching a shitty horror movie where the people are so stupid, like they’re fighting Freddy Kruger by taking sleeping pills, and no matter how I yell at the screen it just keeps going.
I hate that it’s happening. I hate how it’s being covered. I hate how it’s shaping conversations to be dumber and dumber. I hate how that drive, to dumb down conversation, is driven by Capital interests. The more people yell at each other about these Shiny Object stories, the less mind they’re paying to all the much larger and much more impactful things going on in our government and around the world.
Thanks to Haddam, CT, Selectman Melissa J. Schlag, we’re having a conversation about protests again. By taking the knee during the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of a meeting on July 16th, she has gained fans and critics. She’s also caused a resurgence in people engaging in a particular bad faith argument: criticizing the form of protest rather than the substance of it.
“Show some respect!” “What about the veterans!”
This is often the first and only critique made by opponents of this kind of protest. I kind of understand having an emotional reaction, our culture of worshiping the flag and the troops make such protests really stick out. I don’t begrudge anyone having an emotional reaction when they first hear or read about these kinds of things. However, I would ask that people develop a better understanding of the situation so that they can have a better informed opinion.
When I first heard about Colin Kaepernick sitting during the anthem, my reaction went something like this: standing for the anthem is something we ought to do because we’re not respecting any existing government structure or figure; rather, we’re paying homage to the idea of America, the unreachable ideal represented in our founding documents. I felt that people should stand, but that we shouldn’t force anyone to do so, because if you’re being forced or even coerced or socially pressured into doing patriotism, can you really call it patriotism?
Is That It?
That was my first reaction, my hot take after hearing about it and thinking about it a little bit. I didn’t know what motivated it or what information influenced Kaep. I didn’t exactly go seek out this information; I had kind of already decided that he could do it, but that it was rather unpleasant. Eventually I found out quite a bit about Kaep’s cause. I learned more about Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, and much more about systemic racism from a film called 13th, lectures on YouTube, and many more sources. Every so often I’d encounter one or another of the things I’ve just linked here and it added up over time. I didn’t marathon a bunch of this content and have like a Road to Damascus moment. It was very gradual. Now I understand where Kaep and everyone is coming from and I think they’re doing a good thing to shed light on some very real injustices, of which most people are unaware.
Failure to Engage
Many of the responses to Kaep’s protest are examples of people failing to engage with the substance of a protest. Here are a few, along with responses.
- “Stop whining! You’re rich, what do you have to protest about!” I guess compassion for those who don’t have what you have isn’t a thing. This is honestly the stupidest complaint I’ve seen. Anyone making this argument is not operating in good faith and it’s probably on purpose.
- “It’s disrespectful to the flag/veterans/troops!” Kneeling was actually a compromise. Remember, the protest started off with just sitting. According to the story, Kaep got the idea of kneeling from talking to an Army veteran. He’s made it very clear in public statements that his protest was not against the military, active or otherwise.
- “Well, I think it’s disrespectful and I have a right to that reaction!” This is another attempt to avoid talking about the substance of the protest, and kind of a childish one at that. You’re basically saying that Kaep or Schlag’s stated purpose do not matter. It also smacks of the “just your opinion v. my opinion” non-starter that Creationists/Intelligent Design and other dishonest interlocutors trot out. Like, yes, you poor thing, you’re entitled to your opinion, but what’s your basis for it?
I told the story of my evolving position to show the way opinions can change with information. Look again at my initial reaction. I was not engaging with the substance of the protest. My take had everything to do with the form of the protest. Most others have stayed right there. They stayed there all through the rest of Kaep’s NFL career and they’re staying there now with regard to Melissa Schlag.
Everyone’s got an opinion, and they’re entitled to them. Pointing this out is boring and obvious. Instead let’s look at how they differ in terms of the information that you’re basing your opinion on. About any given topic, there’s a variety of information out there with varying degrees of relevance. The greater the quantity, quality, and relevance of the information you have, the more likely you’ll have a well informed opinion. It gets a little tricky when you realize that things like relevance are subjective and therefore can be thought of as opinions themselves. You very quickly get into an infinite regress of opinions about aspects of opinions. When you consider that people can differ widely in something like opinions on relevant facts, it’s expected that people get so frustrated when encountering those different worldviews.
If you are continuously talking about the act of kneeling or otherwise not participating in the patriotic display rather than looking into the reasons why, you’re not engaging. Your opinion, while valid, is failing to take relevant information on board and is thus less informed than it could be. Your opinion is based on emotion rather than an attempt to understand the other position.
In the case of Melissa Schlag, she posted an open letter to Facebook explaining her reasoning. She was reacting most strongly to the recent meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin. Her letter also mentions the Zero Tolerance immigration policy which has led to the separation of so many children from their families, and the general behavior of the president.
There are probably honest criticisms of her position. For example, even though Putin is a murderous dictator with a tendency to kill journalists and a government that would like to exterminate all LGBT people, there are reasons to pursue diplomatic relations with him. As a general rule, I’m in favor of diplomacy rather than not-diplomacy.
However, this Trump/Putin meeting has a lot of other shades to it that make her criticism understandable. First, the press conference where Trump basically took Putin’s side over his own intelligence community. This looks really bad, but it kind of fits the overly-accommodating stance Trump has taken with Kim. He’s really trying to charm when he does this. There’s probably some behind-the-scenes stuff where Trump is like, “hey, remember I had your back in front of the cameras, your people see how well I respected you, now you should help me out, right?” or something like that.
The whole 2016 election hacking thing is another complicated story. On one hand, DNC emails revealed how they had their thumb on the scale for Hillary. To me, I don’t care where these came from, if it’s true, then we should know about it. On the other hand, the perhaps more worrying part of 2016 was the bot farms spamming the shit out of social media with memes and posts promoting Trump. When one side can just inundate people with arguments, it doesn’t matter if they lie or make bad faith arguments. The scary thing about it is that not only is it difficult to fight, it’s something that I could be an unwitting victim of and not even know it.
Melissa Schlag is doing an extraordinarily brave thing. She doesn’t have millions of fans or dollars and will likely pay the political iron price for her protest. By taking a stand, she’s showing cojones that I don’t think we’ve seen in an American politician, maybe ever. Her disgust at the Trump administration is well founded, particularly when you consider Zero Tolerance, a policy that may have officially ended, but continues to affect thousands of families.
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.
People stop reporting things out of fear of being the next viral racist sensation.
People do attacks like San Bernadino.
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.
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:
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.
After the Charlottesville incident, people looked to President Trump to say something about it. Many analysts say he failed a moral test by mentioning that there was horrible behavior, “on many sides.” Supporters were quick to point out that Antifa has a track record of unprovoked violence against those they disagree with.
After the initial negative reaction to the “many sides” comment, the White House released a softened statement on Monday. However, in a press conference the very next day, Trump reverted to the original sentiment and doubled down on it. He pointed out that there were many good people in the “Unite the Right” crowd, who were merely protesting what they saw as a wrongful removal of an historical statue.
Here, I’d like to take President Trump at his word, and give a reasonable person’s look at what that good person might have seen in Charlottesville.
Imagine you’re a good person in Charlottesville. One of those “good people” in the torchlight march. You’re not a bigot, you’re not a Nazi, you don’t hate blacks or jews, you’re just a conservative man that happens to be white with a respect for history that makes you righteously angry that the Robert E. Lee statue is being removed. You feel that, regardless of what Lee stood for, his life left an impact on history that is more than worthy of being commemorated by the statue. You feel that those who want to remove the statue are trying to erase history. You may even be OK with the idea of the statue being moved to a different location, perhaps a museum, but you don’t want to see it simply torn down. So you decide to go to this march. You’ve got your tiki torch and you’re happy to see that there’s a sizable group of several dozen or even a couple hundred other people.
Milling about, you notice that there are a couple people with Confederate battle flags, the stars and bars. Maybe you recognize it as an homage to Southern heritage rather than as a hate symbol, but you are also aware that some people aren’t too keen on the flag itself. If you’re the type of person to get outraged about a Robert E. Lee statue being removed, you probably don’t care that some liberal snowflakes think it’s a racist flag. Fuck those SJWs, amirite?
Then you see someone in a shirt that has the fourteen words on it, or a KKK logo. At this point, do you start to question the march you’ve joined for good reasons? You might even see someone with a Nazi flag. Are you worried about the lot that you’ve thrown in with, or do you think, well, we disagree on some things, but we’re united by a genuine respect for a historical figure and the statue dedicated to his memory?
The march begins. Your interest in preserving the statue are purely historical, so a few of the chants confuse you. “You will not replace us!” for example, seems unrelated to the cause that you’ve come to champion. “Blood and soil,” doesn’t make sense either, but you remember that it was a chant favored by Nazis. By the time you hear, “Jews will not replace us!” you’re past the point of surprise. Still, you’re one of the good people, right? Because even though you’re marching, demonstrating, and even chanting with white supremacists and neo-Nazis, you’re not actually one of them.
At what point during this do you go from being a legitimately concerned citizen who sincerely and non-racistly wanted to preserve history, to being a white supremacist, determined to fight for the establishment of an ethno-state?
It seems to me that the “good people” did a piss poor job of making their cause the main reason for organizing when they effectively let the hate groups take over with their displays and their chants. Think about who you march with.