A Royal Memory

The media certainly aren’t afraid to turn up the largesse when it comes to certain things. There are a number of things that happen so utterly infrequently, that when that particular something does occur, the media flip out and scramble their top brass. They will turn on all the lights, and turn the spotlight to the event with such great gusto, you wonder where this enthusiasm is whenever something actually fucking important happens.

Because, before you know it, there’s round-the-clock coverage of a mildly successful actress marrying a largely inconsequential Royal.

It has struck me as somewhat bizarre that the US media has given any airtime whatsover to the Royal Wedding of the Next-Next-Next-Next-Next-Next In Line To The Throne. I suppose that the bride being of the nation of traitors that buggered off from England way-back-when gives the media an impression of having some kind of tie.

Much like how Tom Cruise said he’d married Australia itself after marrying Nicole Kidman, I suppose. This was a sentiment which sent a large swathe of the island nation into thetan exorcism.

In a world where outrage drives the gears of almost everything, I found the fawning over Harry to be somewhat confounding. All the discussion that permeates politics and culture seems to centred around combating the worrying rise of fascism and nazism. Anything which looks like it might even think about being Nazism is highlighted, and shouted down as Literally The Worst.

“Don’t normalise nazism!” is how I would paraphrase the message.

How odd it is that people seemed to have forgotten that Prince Harry, in 2005, dressed up as a Nazi.

“Oh that was so long ago!” I hear some people cry, “People change over time!”

You know what else happened in 2005? Trump’s comments about grabbing women. Yet this didn’t stop us from hearing about it for fucking weeks on end, and how horrible his words were.

“But this is different!” I hear the same people cry, “Harry was young and didn’t know better!”

Alright, keep moving those goalposts. But let’s be honest here. Let’s really be honest here. This isn’t about Nazism, or misogyny, or about how moral we expect our social betters to be. This is about ensuring that People We Like have prominence, and People We Don’t Like are buried.

This is about having the right ideology at the forefront of culture, because when you lead culture, that’s where politicians and lawmakers follow.  Prince Harry married a political activist who toes the correct line, and that makes Harry fine, despite his cavalier brandishing of the logo of one of history’s greatest stains.

And how we scowl and sneer at someone who bragged like a douche to his friends about his abhorrent and boorish behaviour. Trump’s comments, as dry-reachingly vomitous as they sounded, were only a secondary crime compared to his first: being a political opponent of someone who was cherished by culture activists.

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Go West; life is peaceful there…

I have written many times on this blog about the nature of cults, and the various tactics they employ in order to keep their followers in line. There’s a typical thing that occurs when a former follower breaks from the orthodoxy and starts to question the dogma.

At first, the wrongthinker is told to correct themselves, and that “there is more to it” than what they supposedly understand. The implication is that the individual needs to educate themselves more – and naturally the best education comes from the cult itself. If this tactic fails to correct the individual, then the aggression turns up, and the individual is pressured to rejoin the flock.

If the aggression fails to reverse the individual’s thinking, then the cult will ultimately turn inward to its own followers, lambasting the individual, discrediting them and their message to other followers, and ultimately concluding that the individual was “never a true follower” or is a “betrayer” or “traitor.”

This serves to keep the followers from breaking rank, reinforcing that the ideology is right, and subtly sending the message that leaving the group has consequences.

And I have never seen this most prominently displaying itself more than the case of Kanye West, who recently started expressing thoughts that went counter to social justice doctrine. One thing that is obvious with today’s media, it’s that you need to choose your words carefully if you are going against the grain – and tact and care is not something typically associated with West.

Which is why his careless statements on slavery supposedly being a “choice” – a statement which is bewilderingly callous and stupid when viewed through the most superficial of lenses. No one would ever suppose that a slave considered their options and then thought, “Yeah, actually. I’ll go with the lifetime of servitude”.

That’s utterly ridiculous, and I too would condemn such a hand-wave of an oppressive force that enslaved a race.

Except nuance is not a realm that media or cultists are willing to follow – much like West himself. Subsequent follow-up from West has revealed that he wished to highlight (albeit ungracefully) that people have accepted this idea that because they are a specific identity, that they need to believe this one way of thinking. In this case: Black people need to vote Democrat, because it was solely the Democrats who are working to better the black community.

Except the revelations about New York Democrat Schneiderman would suggest that the Democrats aren’t above fantasising about having a black slave.

In the wake of Kanye’s self-described Free Thought, the one-eighty that has been performed on him has been egregious in its agility. Radio stations are refusing to play his music, multiple think-pieces have been penned to ensure their audiences don’t listen to his words, and probably most alarmingly, this picture of him has been distributed.

Okay, this is utter bullshit. For merely expressing that he wishes to think as an individual, the community that would espouse tolerance, intellectualism and love has deemed it worthwhile to rob Kanye of his blackness. They would endorse that people erase his immutable characteristics solely for the crime of expressing a view that isn’t parallel to that which is accepted.

Did he not experience racism growing up? Was he somehow different when he made the bold and brash claim that then-President George W Bush didn’t care about black people? Oh, but I suppose, the argument would go, that “people change” and that “Kanye has changed since those days”.

People do change, I agree. But change doesn’t necessarily make them wrong and unworthy of being listened to.

No one in their right mind would think that slavery was a choice; But being slave to a philosophy or ideology is.

If bad can, no one can

There’s this odd propensity to push for the removal of a thing, if that thing can be misused by bad people. Social media, in particular, has had to adjust and wrap their platforms in order to protect the few from the fewer bad apples. Twitter has taken steps to actively police its users, and has established a totally-not-Orwellian-sounding “Trust and Safety Council.”

The gun debate in the United States often takes aim at removing guns from the majority of responsible gun owners because of the few people with instability issues.

This recent think-piece on Australia’s “Rendezview” site further encapsulates this thinking, lambasting Facebook for its new dating product. I am not familiar with the product itself, but the thrust of the article is that the endeavour is foolhardy because bad people could potentially abuse it.

It seems to overlook the idea that if bad people want to do something bad, they will find ways to do it. This isn’t to suggest that Facebook has no ownership of ensuring its users’ safety – they do – but any tools that people create are always going to be imperfect.

Give people a system, and they will game it.

I am somewhat unsurprised to see that the article digs at Facebook’s supposed role in allowing Russians to create chaos in the 2016 United States General election – which has so far offered zero evidence that the meddling had any influence on the outcome. I don’t think that Russia didn’t play around with the election – just that there is little evidence to date to suggest that the Trump campaign colluded with them, and that the result would’ve been different.

And they dig at Facebook for the Cambridge Analytica revelations? Is the author not aware that data mining is what Facebook is about, and is how they monetise their vast platform?

I feel that Facebook is facing this vocal backlash, not because they were blind to interference, but because Facebook doesn’t do enough to suppress wrong-think. Their recent announcement that they will be ranking news outlets based upon “trustworthiness” just screams of passive-aggressive partisanship. Even the softest cynic will wonder how exactly they deem sites trustworthy, and whether or not the outcome will lean one way or another.

And conservative sites are already looking at previous outcomes of Facebook’s algorithmic dalliances.

The media’s pressure upon Facebook appears, to me, driven to push Facebook to become another outlet for one side of the political debate. The coordinated masses want their ideas promoted first and foremost, and dissenting views silenced, mocked and ignored.

And competing social media platforms that promote free speech (such as gab.ai) are then smeared as “alt right” and “nazi”. I haven’t used Gab.ai, and cannot speak as to its sympathies, but I do worry that any platform that indicates that they won’t coddle their users, and silence any speech is smeared as a haven for Nazis.

We don’t need policing of speech. We need impartiality and honest debate without the horrific labeling of opposing views. And certainly we shouldn’t base policies on whether bad people can misuse them.

The Russians are/aren’t coming

I’ll spare people the “sorry I’ve been away” spiel. I haven’t been forthcoming on updates to this blog, and that’s on me. My bad. Mea culpa and all that.

So, it’s time to address the issue of the Special Counsel into Russian interference in the 2016 US General Election. To date a couple people have been indicted on this case, on matters that do not seem to link back to Trump. Paul Manafort has been indicted on matters relating to money laundering and ties with nations that are notably not Russia.

Other charges, like Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos seem to be more (with the former) in line with “lying to the FBI” and (with the latter) something which seems to have fairly little substance – everything is still in the air on that one.

Yet it seems telling that the Special Counsel seems to have pivoted a little on the Russian story and has now turned an eye to Obstruction of Justice and maybe even campaign finance issues.

But this all needs to wash out over time. I don’t know one thing or another, but am just commenting on the matter as a layman.

Let’s get this down to brass tacks. What exactly is this all about?

The contention originally made was the Russian influence affected the outcome of the US General Election. Okay, fine. To date, it seems that very little has come forward to implicate Trump in these allegations. From the beginning of his presidency, Trump has had these allegations on his back, and there has been a constant question of the legitimacy of his win. The investigation is ongoing, and seems to yield very little substance so far.

So, I am surprised that all these extra items have popped up that have gained some legs. Not because I think Trump is a man of substance and purity. Oh hell, no.

Because this whole mess was to focus on how Russia might have skewed the results of the election. So, first we were worried about the election being turned, and now we’re worried that Trump might have broken a rule about buying off a porn star to keep her quiet? Or that he’s tried to obstruct his own witch-hunt?

What about collusion with Russia?

Because, it seems to me that if this is no longer about Russia, then we basically have an investigation in search of a crime, as opposed to a crime requiring an investigation.

Why is this a problem?

Because if not by intent, then at least by appearances, this whole special counsel theatre is basically a sign that very powerful and well-backed people will stop at nothing to depose someone who was actually democratically elected to his position.

Forget for a moment about the other charges and look at the Russian narrative. If it was found that Trump did not collude or conspire with Russia, and that there was no effect on the results of the election, then why is the special counsel continuing to dig for other random charges? If there was no influence, then Trump is and was – for better or worse – the winner of the election.

If you are not troubled by the idea rich and powerful people can overturn the result of a legitimate democratically elected leader, then I fear for your priorities.

This is beyond cheering for left over right. This is about the democratic process and respect for the will of the people. Whether you like Trump or not, if his win was legitimate, then you should be very worried. If you have no problem with the incessant probing of Trump’s affairs, but perceive Trump to be a tyrant, then you should be doubly worried, because it means that he can turn the tables back on your preferred candidate.

Radical

In this dichotomous world in which we live, in where concession is akin to weakness, and where our own beliefs are sacrosanct, it is impossible to find any meaningful debate. Yes, yes, this is a sticking point of this blog, but when the problem is this dire, it bears repeating.

Wherever I see the embers of debate begin, I usually see someone with a fire hose with a label come running in to quash any hopes of warmth.

“Lefty rubbish” they caw.

“Right wing nut job” they baw.

And then everyone gets on the back foot and defends their philosophy, as opposed to making a point. So, let’s do the moderate thing, and sit on the fence to piss everyone off:

Both left and right ideologies, if played out to their radical extreme, are equally shithouse. At least to my layman eyes. I do not process to be an expert on the subject, but this is how I view things.

Communism sounds nice by philosophy, but when played out to its extreme (as history has evidenced) results in a two-tiered caste system that starves millions and strips away incentive to excel. Also cronyism, nepotism and collusion.

Capitalism sounds nice by philosophy, but when played out to its (globalist) extreme (as evidenced by current day) results in a wealth divide, enslavement of people in distant countries, and incentivises greed. Also cronyism, nepotism and collusion.

This is not to say that either system cannot work. I just think they fall apart when taken to a radical extreme. Smaller communities might benefit from such systems, but when the goal mutates into a pursuit of utopia, then other motivations creep in that are beyond the good of the community.

So, now that I’ve pissed off everyone, like the good little moderate I am, I’ll outline that I’ve long lamented that we seem to focus on politics on national levels, rather than dealing with our immediate communities. By interacting with those closest to us, we stand to make actual tangible change that is literally closer to home.

Trump golfing a lot is an issue, sure, but I fail to see how addressing that benefits anyone at a local level.

Maybe you’ll find that change can be achieved when you’re not trying to push a radical idea across too broad an area. Better you community first and maybe you’ll see others mimicking your example.

Normalisation

There are few things that have rankled me recently as what it is that I am about to discuss. For a while, I have mentioned that the many engaging in political discourse these days feel that certain rules are required, yet they never consider that they themselves need to abide by them.

For instance, those who would seek to curb freedom of speech on the grounds that things said may cause offence, never seem to consider that their own words could be deemed offensive. Those people would believe that they would never run afoul of such rules, and that the systems they wish for will forever be their tool to wield to ensure that offence is not caused.

Any rules in which an individual’s feelings are a factor ignores that individuals are unique, and that which doesn’t cause offence to one, may actually cause offence to another. It’s all honky dory until someone’s subjective and personal feelings on words are interpreted in a way that could be “harmful”, and before you know it the very tools you used to silence others are now being used to silence you.

Can’t say it won’t happen. Never bring a weapon to a fight if you haven’t accounted for it to be turned on you.

Which leads onto the item that irks me to this day; that of “normalisation”. It’s the idea that there is a potential problem in “normalising” that which is perceived to be harmful. I observed this in the aftermath of Trump’s election; social media cries for not normalising him, with the most prominent example being Last Week Tonight’s episode having John Oliver pleading his audience to remind themselves “This is not normal”.

I find nothing humorous about John Oliver stamping his feet like a two-year old because a widdle ol’ election didn’t go his way. Elections don’t go the way we like all the time, but you know what an adult does? They suck it up.

What I find the most galling about this whole idea of normalisation of certain things being harmful is seemingly the blind eye that people have turned to other harmful behaviour because the person leading the behaviour was cool n’ shit.

Did you know that the vast majority of drones (ordered by a certain favoured US President) strike fatalities were innocent civilians?

Did you know that a certain favoured candidate promised their cronies billions to rebuild Haiti after their earthquake in 2010, yet that rebuilding has yet to materialise?

Did you know that a certain favoured candidate was caught being gleeful about deposing the leader of Africa’s most prosperous nation?

Did you know that a favoured President is credibly alleged to have weaponised institutions of Government against political opponents?

You want to talk about the harmfulness of making Trump the new normal? Maybe let’s rewind the fucking tape and look at what we’ve already made and accepted as “normal” before we get too carried away.

Because accepting those things above as “normal” feels a lot more harmful to me than anything I’ve witnessed of the first year of Trump’s administration.

Don’t think it’s harmful? Imagine Trump doing those things above and see if your stance changes. Because that’s the “normal” that’s been endorsed already.

Russian trolls

The special counsel into the Russia investigation has finally put in an indictment into Russian meddling in the 2016 US Election, and the first cab off the rank are 13 Russian trolls who may or may not have actually affected the election’s result. The media, of course (Washington Post in this example), report in vagaries and tenuous lines to imply that there’s still some malfeasance on part of the Trump campaign, instead of the possibility that currently both nothing or something is there.

Even when the indictment specifically indicates that these Russian Trolls attacked multiple candidates, which would suggest that their goal was to upset democracy broadly, as opposed to propping up one candidate over another. Considering the fallout of the 2016, and the very vocal split in the electorate – at least the perception of it from here – it would appear that the Russian Trolls were successful.

People can believe that international forces can meddle in elections now, and they have the indictment to back it up. Now if the results of an election are disliked by enough people, it means the claim of “international tampering” can hold some water, if not in reality, then at least in peoples’ minds.

Not like election tampering is a new thing. Let’s review an old Time Magazine cover:

However, contrast the Washington Post’s article on the other recent “bombshell”, the Nunes memo. In this article, they go to painful lengths to paint the memo as partisan, and motivated solely by protecting party lines, as opposed to the reporting of troubling actions by equally troubling actors.

Read the memo for yourself here.

The impartial path for these two stories would be to report the indictments from the Mueller case as “something that neither absolves or condemns Trump” and the Nunes memo as “troubling allegations, which should require explanation by those implicated.” Instead what we have is a publication, by appearances, that is in the tank for one side of the political divide. The reporting on the Nunes memo seemed to run with headlines that said something to the effect of “Memo doesn’t discredit Russian probe”.

When the story instead, to me at least, raised some troubling aspects relating to the justification of surveillance over the Trump campaign justified with evidence supplied by a Clinton associate. At the very least, this revelation has echoes of Watergate – the greatest political scandal of our time – and yet the media is completely disinterested in the potential drama that would whip up.

It is literally the first time I have ever seen the media completely oblivious in wanting to make a mountain from a mole hill. Since when has the media ever willingly turned a blind eye to anything which even looks like it’s potentially thinking about being a scandal? Okay, I’ll answer my rhetorical question: never.

This is what is troubling me the most about recent events. If anything, it’s suggesting to me that Watergate, all the way back in the 70’s, taught everyone nothing. Nothing, except that if you want to carry out a scandal, you need a fully and willingly complicit media complex.