The big issue of minis in politics

I am not alone when it comes to the disdain of pushing kids into politics and political activism. I am deeply cynical on these matters, as watching children engage in something with great passion and worry appeals to the most basic of our biological tendencies; to protect children.

So when children are deployed as a means to influence opinion, or even to guilt politicians into signing potentially flawed – if well-intentioned – policies, my brain kicks into this mode in where I don’t feel I’m being informed, but rather I’m being manipulated. Take, for instance, this exchange between some children and Senator Diane Feinstein.

In this case, Feinstein handles the matter like a seasoned politician, giving what I can only really describe as the diplomatic way of saying “Pipe down, and let adults decide.”

Because, let’s be honest, who would want to take instructions from kids on anything? If some kids came into your office with a placard and told you what you had to do, or else you’d be screwing them over in the future, you’d rightly tell them to fuck off.

Now, there has been the recent case of MiniAOC, the little girl who has pushing political satire as a tiny version of Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. A play on the Mini-Me meme, if you will. This girl has been a viral sensation amid conservative circles, serving as parody of the Queens representative, and poking fun at the popular Congresswoman.

Yet, I cannot get onboard with this, either, for reasons I detail above. It’s a different kind of manipulation. The mockery of Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez is somehow lightened by the fact that it’s an 8 year old girl doing the performance. Yet, behind all this I can see a parent – or parents – pushing their daughter front and centre of all this, for the baying hounds of social media to target.

And target, they have. The subsequent abuse that was allegedly directed at the creators of the MiniAOC account, and to the actress herself, has resulted in the account being shut down.

In both examples I write here, I condemn the use of children for the purposes of making political hay. It’s manipulative, and a shocking abuse of the unconditional trust that children hold with their parents. This MiniAOC actress has much of her life ahead of her, and who is to say that she won’t later regret her political adventure, especially if she doesn’t agree with conservative values?

Although, there’s also something a bit off about the reasons why the MiniAOC account was removed. Per this story:

(Redacted) will not being doing any more MINI AOC content.

The Left’s Harassment and death threats have gone too far for our family. We have been getting calls on our personal phone numbers.
For our safety and for our child’s safety, we deleted all Mini AOC accounts.

(I have redacted the child’s name for my own reasons – despite the source article stating it clearly).

To use an old Reaganism of “Trust But Verify”, how do they know that this harassment has come from “The Left”? The internet troll gallery is deep, numerous and highly anonymous. To specifically indicate from where the harassment had come would either need some kind of identifying factor before we can assume anything.

Because otherwise it’s just yet another case of one side labelling the other side as horrible people, just to demonise them.

And that, as I’ve said many a time on this blog, is something that needs to fuck off.

Political debate needs level heads and reason. Not drama, posturing, dehumanisation and most of all, children.

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Activist Representatives – posturing at the expense of others

There is something really quite harmful when the good of the tribe is put above the good of the broader population. People who hold the reins of power, when given checks and balances, need to be able to reach across the aisle to achieve good.

When there is no attempt to reach across the aisle, and when political actions are driven only by making sure the opponent looks awful, and deny them any political win, it is the path to destruction and pain.

I do find it somewhat bewildering that congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (who I’ll refer to as “AOC” per her assigned moniker) has seen fit to support actions that ensure that those people for whom she professes to care are denied comfort. Why? As a show of care to those who are detained? No.

She outlines that the actions taken to pressure companies from providing bedding to people in detention centres is actually a sign of peoples’ power – that we can, collectively, make change real and tangible.

I am sure that people sleeping on cold concrete floors at night are comforted by knowing that politicians outside the fence can wrangle enough people power to make change.

I have outlined before that we shouldn’t ascribe bad motivations to opponents, as it tends to break down debate and creates divides where there should be none. However, it is difficult to perceive the efforts of AOC as anything other than an effort to not afford the Trump administration with a win.

Seems like a bit of an Own Goal, if I’m honest.

When she poses at the fence, appearing to be emotionally overwhelmed by the atrocities occurring within the wires, while simultaneously celebrating the denial of comfort, would indicate a lack of sincerity about the plight of those inside. To me, it indicates that congresswoman AOC is concerned only about ensuring that Republicans don’t achieve any kind of political win.

This kind of tribalism that would seek to deny victories so that power can be later obtained at election time is the kind of attitude that needs to, bluntly, fuck off. Certainly, this is not limited to Democrats, either – I have serious concerns when Republicans would deny their Democrat colleagues victories for the sole purpose of preserving their own power as well.

This kind of tribalism is eroding reasoned debate, and it has no place in a civilised society where we all try to achieve prosperity for the population. In these times, we need concession and acknowledgement of each others’ perspectives. I am disinterested in pleas of “their side is worse” and “they are unchecked”.

No. Suck it up. Ignore the squealing imbeciles on social media. Stop playing to the radicals and idiots. Start meeting the reasonable voices in the middle and find a solution that, if it doesn’t please everyone, pisses off the fewest.

Fiction and tortured metaphors

I honestly wish for people to stop doing this kind of shit. It’s tedious. It’s rubbish. It’s lazy. It can be tortured enough to be applied to literally anything and anyone. It’s comparing works of fiction to current day situations or people.

In particular, the recent instance of Stephen King watching the harrowing HBO series Chernobyl and comparing the story to the world currently wielding Donald Trump as President of the United States.

I get it. People don’t like him. He’s largely a buffoon. But it has gotten to a point where it seems that literally everything bad in the world can somehow be linked back, however tenuously, to Trump. Heck, I don’t like the guy, but this kind of posturing only appears to me, as a commoner, as the world elite having a massive hissy-fit because their preferred party genuinely lost an election.

Really. Get over it. Four years is a short timeframe in our lives. You lost an election. Look to win the next one and find out exactly why people largely rejected your lady and angel last time. Hint: it’s because she was garbage and ran a largely garbage campaign. How do I know? Because she lost to fucking Donald Trump – someone with literally zero experience in representing people.

So, what is King’s rationale for comparing a literal nuclear meltdown to the world in which Donald Trump presides?

“He’s a man of mediocre intelligence in charge of great power–economic, global–that he does not understand.” – Stephen King

This kind of posturing is exacerbated by the show’s writers and show runner indicating the parallels being drawn.

“At the heart of this show, we are asking a question,” Mazin recently told Men’s Health. “What happens when we debase the truth and celebrate lies instead? Or when we play with the truth and make it our toy, or distort it? What happens when we deny that there’s truth at all?”

Harris, who plays scientist Valery Legasov, the unsung hero who helped to eventually contain the mess in the town of Pirpyat, felt the same way. “If they were lying to you, you didn’t have an ability to correct that narrative. You couldn’t hold power to account,” he said of the Soviet government back then.”It was a state where lies were being passed as being truthful….and if you look at this whole story, once you get to the end of it, it comes down to, essentially, one lie that causes the accident.”

One problem with the questions being posited: What of the actual lies of the media when they cut the wrong direction? Such as when the story was peddled that D-Day a ceremony was delayed due to Trump, when upon later review it was the media darling and French President, Emmanuel Macron, who caused the delay?

Is the issue of truth-telling an actual problem now?

Another fly in the bitter ointment is that the Soviet media back then peddled the lies of the Soviet government willingly, and without question – even going as far as to accuse Western media of exaggerating the level of the threat of the Chernobyl incident. You cannot seriously say with a straight face that the media let’s anything Trump says pass without rebuke or spin.

Secondly, King’s point of the ignorance of the power being wielded by those who were in control of the Chernobyl Reactor 4. I posit that the problem wasn’t that they were ignorant of the level power they wielded, but seemingly they were either arrogant enough to think they could recover the reactor’s loss of power during the test (leading to them disengaging emergency shutdown systems) – or they were too scared to cancel the test for fear that failing to conduct the test would result in punishment.

I also missed the part where Trump presides over the earth’s greatest natural disaster that remains a forever-burning pile of radioactivity that now requires a second sarcophagus to cover.

But let’s torture metaphors further, shall we?

How about we compare the story of Tiananmen Square to that of an Obama Presidency that wilfully used vast military power to kill comparatively innocent civilians, and then conveniently pave over the atrocities with a complicit media? How about we compare the warmongering of Genghis Khan to that of GW Bush invading countries?

Piss off with this pointless posturing and torturing of metaphors.

Your pants are down and your propaganda is showing.

The surefire sign of a cult

I am seeing a lot of queries coming into this blog relating the nature of tribalism and cultism. The nature of cults is a topic that is quite close to me, having seen one very closely, and having watched its operations.

I have written in the past about the telltale signs of a cult, which probably warrants another read, if you haven’t been past there. I agree that it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what constitutes a cult, especially when something as benign as a support group can exhibit similar tendencies, however I think there is one big identifier that is worth considering.

Because it was this specific factor that awakened me to the cult that I was in. You’d think this would be a simple criterion, but when you’re inside a cult, it’s amazing how your head would cloud the rational thought. So, here it is:

The group – the cult – never meets the standard that it sets for others. Specifically, cult members (and opponents of the cult) are expected to meet certain standards and requirements, but the moment that the cult is expected to align with the behaviours and attitude, the concerns are dismissed.

With the cult that I had joined, there was a mantra that all members would participate in all club activities. To not participate for any reason (and some particular events were extremely expensive) would be a sign of failure, and a sign that the individual lacked the skills to be a practitioner of the cult’s system (it was a martial arts group). Specifically, it was said that if someone failed to make something happen for them, then they had failed.

Later in my membership with the cult, an event was being organised in a distant land. It would require travel to get there, which was a huge cost to go. Thinking the opportunity would be great, I joined up for the trip. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that the event was going to be cancelled because they hadn’t obtained the numbers they required.

I had already purchased plane tickets, which were expensive to cancel.

Querying the matter with the cult’s administration team, they were unsympathetic to the plight. It was here that I threw their doctrine in their faces, outlining that their inability to meet the standard they placed on others (ie that they had failed to “make something happen” and that therefore they had failed). This was immediately dismissed and was guffawed away with the assertion that I didn’t truly understand, and only had superficial knowledge of the art.

Cults place expectations on others that they do not themselves fulfill. And I see it in the world of political discourse and analysis as well – people will denigrate one party for a behaviour, but celebrate it when their party does same.

Look at the controversy surrounding the demonetisation of conservative comedia Stephen Crowder on YouTube. The claim here is that Crowder engaged in harassing behaviour to Carlos Maza of Vox Media. Yet YouTube is more than happy to leave up a violent video from The Late Show in where a depiction of NRA spokeswoman, Dana Loesch is shot.

Not a perfect example of hypocrisy, I know, but I cannot help but feel that had the video depicted a different person being shot, someone more favoured by mainstream media, that the resulting fallout would be vastly different.

Facebook and Daily Beast – proxies of censorship

It is quite troubling to see the corporate behemoths like Facebook work hand in hand with outlets like The Daily Beast to expose regular, everyday Americans for the crime of posting a video at the expense of a Democrat.

And if this doesn’t trouble you, because you feel in this instance, the reveal was justified, then I have very few words for you.

It should trouble you.

Because today, it’s the average troll that gets their comeuppance. Tomorrow it’s the genuine revolutionary that you support that gets their lives upturned, and as a result goes silent. Remember, the supposed crime of the person who posted the doctored Pelosi video had only given a slight appearance of drunkenness for the purposes of humour.

Imagine if Fox News had pointed to an average Joe for slowing Trump’s speeches to give an impression of idiocy for the purposes of amusement. Imagine if the implied threat to the person was “we know who you are, and we can expose you.” You would rightly be outraged that Fox would be doing the shakedowns on behalf of Trump.

Even worse, your social media account on Facebook was complicit in Fox making the discovery so that they can carry out their racketeering.

Make no mistake, this is dangerous territory we’re in. If you’re not worried, you should be. Because if Facebook will give up your identity for the sake of politics, so will Google. Have a Gmail account? Well, Google know precisely who you are, and they, like Facebook, will ensure their political allies have the easy run into the 2020 General Election.

The threat is implicit. Free speech is under attack, and voices yelling the dismissal of the concerns of censorship “because it’s not the government doing it” clang hollow when Facebook and media bootlicks for the Democrats will act as henchmen for those in power. Sure, it’s not technically “the government” doing the censorship, but certainly a complicit outlet and a social media behemoth can certainly do the dirty work on behalf of those who would seek to take government.

I am certain that the importance of free speech needs to ignore such semantics that stands to turn a blind eye to censorship because it’s being done by proxy. 

The worst of motivations

There is a great tendency, I have noticed, across the commentariat, politicians and the like, to look at the issues in the public eye, and to castigate their opponents in the worst possible light. This is no great revelation, because when the battle for power doesn’t require convincing opponents, but convincing the audience, it is easier to spin things to win than it is to win on grounds of being correct.

When the media are the biggest mouthpieces with the broadest reach across all demographics, it does give reason to be sceptical of the tactics. While the media is wed only to ratings and revenue, its ability to stir up drama where there needn’t be any is something that can only be toxic to public discourse.

However, I am currently concerned about the readiness to which we ascribe the worst motivations to certain peoples’ positions. When we do this, we devolve the public debate to a tit-for-tat series of ad hominems. And if this is done in a setting with a live audience, the cheering and applause that occurs makes to neat, easily editable bites that make it appear as though one “side” was shut down.

It’s why I loathe these “town hall” style events.

These type of events, and talk shows with audiences, are an exercise of packing the room with cheerleaders to make sure there’s an appearance of popularity for a position, and to convince undecided people of the what the truth should be. So whenever a figurehead on the stage makes a remark that points out the supposed poor character of the person opposite them, and the crowd erupts into cheer, it gives an impression – rightly or wrongly – that there is truth to the charge.

The toxicity comes when we suggest that the opposite position is driven by the worst of opinions. Furthermore, there is a contention that to even suggest that an opposing position warrants any discussion is to give legitimacy to hateful thought. This is the point where true debate breaks down. It is policing thought.

To use a couple examples, in public debate:

Someone who opposes same-sex marriage is only motivated by their hate of homosexuality and homosexual people at large.

To suggest that someone may want to debate the merits of same-sex marriage because they view marriage as a means of creating a stable environment for children (and not solely for “love”) is to be “giving legitimacy to hate.”

When debate is reduced to a discussion where only one opinion is correct, while any opposition is to embody the worst traits of humankind, it is a recipe for the breakdown of debate, and paves the way for tyranny, I feel.

But this is not a post about same-sex marriage. It’s about how the ability to debate is eroding, if not having completely blown away over the dunes of time.

Traditionally it has been the unpopular opinions that require more airtime. We saw it during the civil rights movements where people wanting fundamental human rights (which they were denied), where the unpopular opinion was to oppose segregationism. Today, very, very few would argue that segregation was good policy, but during the civil-rights movement, it was a controversial contention.

However today, the unpopular opinion – to use my example above – is to oppose same-sex marriage. But any opposing view is characterised as being driven by hate, as opposed to the concern of the views of marriage being changed. Even my using the subject as a means of highlighting my point could be viewed as an advocation for a hateful position – when my own opinion is favourable toward same-sex marriage.

But the only accepted response to opposition to same-sex marriage is to paint the individual as hateful, and to deny the voice so as to not give legitimacy to said hate.

This is the path to tyranny, if not outright thought-policing.

Trump-Russia Collusion: officially a deluded conspiracy theory

After two long years of positing by the media, commentary by “experts”, leaks, indictments (on unrelated matters), and much screaming and wailing, the Mueller Report on the investigation into the supposed collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government has been provided – albeit in redacted form.

And the takeaway is: Trump was pissed off at the special counsel, but ultimately did nothing that amounts to illegal. If anything, it shows that the counsel was given quite a free run, yet still could not recommend any action. The report is even quite cowardly in that it makes no recommendations, and is happy to sit back and let the commentariat – the same commentariat that lost its collective shit over the last two years – frame the story.

Which is horseshit.

Any media outlet, any politician, any commentator who swore through and through that Trump was in any way a Russian plant needs to grow a spine and admit that they let their bias and distaste for Trump could their thinking.

Such an admission would go a long way to re-establish trust in the media.

Yet, it boggles my mind that the media, or at least pundits within the media are playing this game of shifting goalposts to make Trump into the baddie.

Not that I am any Trump cheerleader. Two things can be true at once; Trump can be a buffoon who is out of his depth, and that the media supremely shat the bed on the story of supposed Trump-Russia collusion.

From what I can make out, the story over the past two years has been:

  • Trump colluded with the Russian Government to influence the 2016 General Election. Then;
  • Trump obstructed justice by firing (then) FBI Director James Comey. And now;
  • The Mueller Report is a cover up.

Cast your mind back to 2008, and Barack Obama was running for President of the United States. During the primaries, it was suggested – by Hillary Clinton supporters no less – that Obama was not eligible for the presidency under Article Two of the US Constitution that required the candidate to be a natural-born citizen.

Donald Trump promoted this movement.

The movement was branded as deluded conspiracy theory, and the submission of President Obama’s birth certificate into the public sphere being the final toll of the death bell for the widespread acceptance of the Birther conspiracy theory. The movement was dispelled. It was buried. It was a deluded conspiracy theory believed only by the simplest and densest.

It was done. Finished.

And with the release of the Mueller Report dispelling any suspicions of malfeasance and misdeeds on the part of Trump, the same must (MUST) be done to those who publish anything that suggests that the claim of Russian collusion had any basis. It’s done. It’s finished. To believe otherwise is to further commit to one of the most widespread and socially acceptable conspiracy theories to have ever fooled the public.

And the media needs to own this. They were the ones who whipped this up in the first place. Politicians like Adam Schiff need to own this. They were the ones who suggested they had “special insider knowledge” of this supposed collusion.

We cannot move on, I feel, until the media and politicians admit they fucked up. Be fucking adults about it and grow a spine. Own it. YOU shat the bed. YOU propagated falsehoods with seemingly malicious intent.

You retract and apologise for wilfully deceiving the public.

Then maybe we can talk about rebuilding trust in the press.

Suck it up. Trump-Russia collusion is a deluded conspiracy theory. To believe it now is to believe in something akin to the Birther movement.

And yes, I do reserve this same ire for Trump who peddled the Birther conspiracy theories too. That was just as fucked-up as the current situation we see today. However, at least that delusion was killed off quickly and it sank away to nothingness. In this case, despite all the evidence, there is still talk of impeachment proceedings against a legitimately elected President.

That’s the core of the issue; it was maintained that Trump’s presidency was illegitimate, and granted only due to nefarious and foreign influence – and not, for example, because his opponent was a detestable individual whose facial expressions were not human, but what appeared to be an alien’s approximation of what human emotion looks like.

Because it appears that, no matter your opinion of the man, his election was legitimate. I don’t necessarily like the guy, but everyone should find it concerning that these efforts are being made seemingly to remove a legitimately elected person from office.

And as I’ve always maintained here; I would object to this regardless of who was in office.

It doesn’t trouble me who is in charge. It only troubles me that a legitimate elect can be overturned because unseen powers would deem it so. And it should trouble you too. Because if you cheer for the removal of Trump because you don’t like him, remember that these same powers could remove those that you actually do like.

This should trouble you a lot.