A tale of two conspiracies

There are many things that bug me about the current slew of scandals that are surrounding the US politics at the moment. If I were to pinpoint one example, it would be the scandal surrounding the effects that the email leaks published by Wikileaks had on the election result in November.

As I understand it, on one side there are claims that Russia hacked the DNC, provided the information to Wikileaks, who then distributed the information.

On the other side, there are claims that the “hacking” came from a disgruntled staff member within the DNC, Seth Rich, who provided the information to Wikileaks, who then distributed the information.

None of these claims ever raise the question of whether the information published by Wikileaks is true or not. Basically, as I see it, these two great conspiracies hinge upon who exactly it was that told the truth about Clinton and the DNC at the most inopportune time. This completely baffles me somewhat. The controversy isn’t that the DNC (who is meant to be impartial) actively froze out a candidate – Bernie Sanders – who could have been nominated instead of Clinton, but rather that somebody leaked to truth to the peons.

So now we have the mainstream media drumming up whatever they can to smear the Trump administration with colluding with Russia (which strikes me as the kind of scare reminiscent of 1980’s Cold War Hollywood guff), and alternative outlets trying desperately to link Seth Rich to Wikileaks.

Nobody is actually acknowledging that the leaks to Wikileaks revealed that the DNC fucked things up royally, and that they lost the election as a result. The conspiracies are all basically trying to prove whoever it was who told the truth about the DNC at the most inopportune time.

Maybe I’m missing something here. Sure I’ve heard something about voter suppression in a state or two, and I admit to not knowing anything about that – but that’s a fault of the media’s. Everything I read is either Russia this, or Seth Rich that. The adult thing for the DNC to do, I would have thought, would be to say, “Well, fuck. That shit we did to get Clinton the nomination was a bit shit. Maybe we shouldn’t have done that shitty thing. Maybe Hills shouldn’t have called everyone opposing her a bunch of deplorables. Oh well, lesson learned. Maybe next election we can try to do things better.”

And then they could go about the job of being in opposition to Trump’s administration, and actually debating policies and shutting down legislation that could actively do harm. You know, like a system of checks and balances does.

But everything I see that attempts to legitimise Trump from this point on only strikes me as the petulant stamping of feet of a bunch of children upset that they didn’t get a turn on the slippery slide and have to wait a bit.

Grow up. Government is serious business that actually affects peoples’ lives. Stop treating it like a plaything.

Polls are dead

In an environment in where there is only one socially acceptable answer for anyone who values their social status, I am sure people will largely gravitate toward that one answer. Those who publicly go against the grain either have nothing to lose, or have enough backing behind them that they can support themselves.

This is one of the reasons why every single poll everywhere in the lead up to the US election was saying with unbridled certainty that Hillary Clinton was a shoe-in.

And we all know how that shook out.

How did the polls get it so wrong? I am sure the answer is obvious, but I’ll reiterate; it’s because those surveyed weren’t being honest.

When the media is telling you that a candidate is one of the most horrible people on the planet, is the next version of Hitler, and is ultimately going to cause the implosion of the United States, whereas the other candidate is going to be a history-making President, who are you going to tell others you support?

So when a young pollster with a clipboard thrusts their survey in your face, and you have to choose between the widely denounced Nazi and the widely revered stateswoman, you’re not exactly going to pump your fist in the air with a proud sieg heil.

As it has been said by countless others, people can say all they want out loud, but when they’re in the polling booth with no judgemental eyes on them, they can choose whoever they like, without the discerning glare of a pollster silently asking, “Really?”

However, this has extended in polling in approval ratings, I feel. The media is still, despite the lesson being very clear in the lead up to the election, attacking Trump at any angle they can find. He is still being labelled as some of the most horrible isms you can care to unearth. So is it any surprise that Trump’s approval ratings are so low?

I am not suggesting that his approval ratings are the opposite. Oh no. I am just saying that there are just as much reason to believe the polls as there is to not believe them. There’s a reason why “Pulling a Takei” is now a thing. Polls could reveal tomorrow that Trump’s approval ratings are the highest of any President ever, and I’ll still call bullshit on it.

The surveys can reveal all they want, but I am forever dubious on their sources until the media pulls their head in. The smear campaign against Trump, whether warranted or not, has sullied and tainted any poll or survey on him.

Polls are useless. They aren’t a good method of surveying anymore. Polls are dead.

Left/Right Tribalism at its worst

Ho boy, there’s a lot of shit flying around now, and all I can see happening at the top is a battle between the powers that rule, and the powers in control.

However, of more concern is what’s happening below it – ie with us, the commoners.

Nuance is dead. There is no hope for debate anymore. It’s just fucking lost. All I hear is people cheering on their political outfit as though they’re a football team. There is no analysis of the issues, no discussion of merits or caveats. It’s just a lost mess.

The most ardent of right winger needs to wake up to a cold, hard fact. For all the calls being made to lock up Hillary or Obama, despite all the evidence that could possibly be mustered up, they aren’t going to jail. Nope. Not happening.

Not because they’re powerful people to whom the rules do not reply. Well, maybe a little because of that, but mostly because to lock up either of those Left Wing Messiahs would invite massive backlash. Like, civil war backlash. No matter how it is spun, or no matter how much evidence mounts up of any illegal malfeasance, to lock up either Hillary or Obama would be seen as a political manouevre rather than a serving of justice. We’re talking Nelson Mandela level shit here.

You lock them up, you make them heroes.

Same goes for any die-hard lefties out there who might be calling for the impeachment of Trump or even (as I’ve seen) assassination. No matter how much it is seen that Trump might mislead congress, his ousting will only be seen as the machinations of a ruling class who simply didn’t want Trump in the White House. To many, it will confirm that the ruling class will tread on the people, going to far as to ousting their elected leader for the simple crime of not being part of their clique.

I hate that this is what politics is these days. We cannot fathom for a second that someone on “their side” can come up with a good policy, or that we can debate to find compromise. No, we just reject everything and anything, and label people with the most horrific words we can find.

“Our side is good. Their side is bad” is a pathetic basis upon which to frame any debate. Where is the nuance? Where is the mature compromise?

It’s dejecting, and I see no chance of this improving. In these moments of melancholy and despondency, I think I understand the mind of an internet troll. There is no need to participate. There is no need to debate. Nothing can be done and we’re all gripping his horror-train as it barrels into the abyss. So we might as well laugh and join in with destroying what we can.

While the rich people laugh at our pathetic bickering.

Ongoing payment of the price

The axiom goes, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance”. The origin of this phrase goes back some time, and has been printed in varying ways, but the sentiment still carries on.

Back when SOPA was a thing, I marvelled at the resources and people online who saw the devil in the details of the law. Since SOPA’s defeat, I remain bewildered and astonished at how people will find another head of the hydra and keep us all informed how the serpent might slither into our homes through another crack.

My applause for these people gave me an idea of what is meant by that phrase. These people were the eternally vigilant, and were doing the best they could to ensure that the rest of us weren’t impacted by rights being stripped away.

However, following the ascendancy of Trump to the White House, there is another avenue on which we should focus our vigilance, and it is the one of the media.

It is well-known that trust in the media is at a low, however that doesn’t stop a lot of their reporting from “going viral”. Never before has a saying felt so much more apt than one that invokes “virus”.

The below video from the YouTube channel Counter Arguments is a neat intro to what I am talking about.

The takeaway from this video is that the media – even comedy media – are happy to willfully misrepresent, exaggerate and generally fuck up public discourse on a matter. The video above targets liberal pundits such as Seth Meyers, Samantha Bee and Stephen Colbert, but conservative hosts aren’t much better. Take the below clip of Tucker Carlson;

The title of the video is misleading in its claim that Carlson “DESTROYS” the writer for the Huffington Post. What I saw was Carlson attacking a source that the HuffPo writer uses in an article, and from there the discussion descends into madness, finally ending with the HuffPo writer lamenting “partisan bickering” and Carlson shuts off the call.

This is not political discourse.

I have precisely zero fondness for The Huffington Post. Their blatant partisanship during the election cycle was pathetic to say the least, topped off by the continual use of the “Editor’s Note” at the end of each and every Trump article to remind the reader that he’s a really, really naughty man. The writer’s lament above about partisan bickering seems laughable when the HuffPo was the summit of Mount Bullshit.

So, what am I getting at?

Eternal vigilance. We need to be vigilant when it comes to what the media reports. We are all victims of our own bias – myself included – but we need to really take a step back and review whenever we read an article.

I’m not saying we need to re-evaluate our political alignment. Not at all. Quite the opposite. All I’m saying is that before we share any articles on social media about how awesome our party is and/or how stupid their party is, we need to look at what we’re being told and look at the actual story without the media’s bent.

What was the full quote from Trump? What was actually said? Was it really an attack? Did someone really get insulted? Whenever we see an article that bemoans the party to which we oppose, we need to really get our opinions right. We need to not let the media dictate our opinions to us.

And this is also for any article that praises actions of the party we support. In fact, this is doubly more important. Your party needs to represent YOU, and you shouldn’t give them a pass just because you saw a nice puff piece in your media of choice.

This is the price we pay for our liberty – we ingest our information properly and without the taint of the rich corporations.

The Ctrl of the Alt right

Anyone who has been following politics recently would be aware of the term in the title. I do notice that there has been much written about the Alt Right recently, and each piece seems to focus in on what it precisely means, and how to define it.

Despite that whole feeling about media powers deciding on a definition seeming incredibly Orwellian, I cannot help but feel that the media is simply not learning its lesson here.

The use of words is what gives nuance to debates, allowing for the shades of grey to show through. The readiness to which people use descriptors such as “white supremacy” and “racism” (both things being utterly abhorrent and devoid of merit) I feel does serve to strip away those shades of grey and providing a monochrome view.

It would likely be argued that because of the nature of white supremacy and racism that there is no nuance to be engaged, and I would definitely be in agreement. Except when a vast majority of slighted people in power (and with vast reach and influence) get to dictate the definition of words.

I don’t pretend to know, nor do I care to understand what “alt right” is. It’s just another label.

Apart from the overuse of these words serving only to dilute their impact, the fact that people in power can simply dismiss and smear any uprising against them as “white supremacy” or “racist” does concern me. It’s like how people will mock Godwin’s Law (the law that says that the longer an internet discussion occurs, the more likely that Hitler will be raised) will inevitably lead to society scoffing when actual Nazism rears its terrible and inhumane face.

The slippery slope I see is that if the ruling class doesn’t like someone, they’ll brand them, define them, and watch the majority beat them into submission. However, as the media should have learned from Trump’s victory in November, it doesn’t always work. While it didn’t work on a wealthy businessman, the rest of us commoners would not be so lucky. To be simply labelled a white supremacist for just wanting to see nuance in a debate is not something I feel comfortable with.

So, whether or not you think the Alt Right is white supremacy, I would caution you against simply believing the definitions being peddled to you. This goes for other groups as well, which is why I distinctly reject the term “SJW” (Social Justice Warrior); because the label is meant to conjure an image in my mind that is slanted against people who would have genuine grievances with the structure of society.

This is the core of my site, really. Because the commoners like you and I are stuck bickering among ourselves over whether we’re defined properly – such as debating whether an alt-right identifier is a white supremacist, or that a proud SJW is a shrill harpy, the rich and wealthy stay happy and comfortable and ruling.

This arguing over labels and definitions are distracting us from what the rich people are doing. And it’s why the rich people are laughing at us.

The College collage

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Before the 2016 election got in full swing, I had made a prediction. After the two major parties had their candidates locked and loaded, and when it became apparent that the idiot with the idiot hair would become the Republican shot at the White House, I just knew what the first item on the agenda would be, regardless of who won.

Electoral reform.

I just knew that the powers-that-be would be wondering just how this upstart from outside, ie Trump, even got to where he was. Politics is the realm of the ruling class who have laboured hard in their mansions, hob-jobbing with their equally connected sleazeball neighbours, and only the most polished and hobbed of knobs got to have a shot at historical relevance.

Then Donald Trump came along to one of their parties and shat in the fish tank.

And just like being at a party where someone waltzed in and pinched off a quality loaf in your pet’s house, everyone would be asking, “How the fuck did they get in, anyway?” Sure enough, here we are talking about changing the system, or gaming the college to ensure the Will Of The People is honoured.

Hillary Clinton currently has the lead in the popular vote by the not-insignificant margin of two million votes, and people are starting to scrawl question marks over Trump’s mandate to lead.

Some might think that this is only an issue because Clinton lost. I disagree. This would still be an issue if Clinton won, but only to stop assholes like Trump from getting even remotely close to becoming a candidate, let alone President. The club would be banding together, much like they are now, just to find a way to make sure some schlub from outside don’t go shitting in their tank.

I don’t profess to be an expert on politics. Everything I type in this blog is brain dump of how I view issues, and I have precisely zero credibility or power, so my blog is therefore benign. However, I feel the electoral college, while outdated, is still an imperfect solution that works.

There is a lot of discussion about how some peoples’ votes are worth more than others, because the College ensures that major city centres aren’t given too much clout when it comes to electing a leader. However, the alternative solution of “one person, one vote” only serves to provide the reverse – which is stupid anyway. Or, I have reservations. You can’t just tack on a “one person, one vote” system onto the existing shit pile. I understand that Democrats have only lost the popular vote on very few occasions, and a popular vote system only skews everything toward the cities.

Like it or not, country people should have an influence too. They are a part of your nation and deserve representation, for better or worse.

But electoral reform is on the mind, so let me just add a couple more little caveats to the idea of “one person, one vote”

  • Make polling day a public holiday and/or;
  • Make voting compulsory

I understand the logistical shit-show that second point would create, but it’s the only way to ensure that the popular vote is truly representative. Without giving everyone, everywhere reason and ability to vote, then you won’t get a good snapshot of the electorate’s wishes. At the moment, having voting on a Tuesday, and non-compulsory only leans the system to the wealthier, the white collar and the childless.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Trump in the White House either. But deal with the symptoms that got him there (ie voter disenfranchisement), and not the system.

The fallout of Trump

I’d long abandoned this blog, but considering the recent day’s events, it might be pertinent to revisit the thing.

It’s a strange time for the current powers that be. After a hard fought and extremely bitter 2016 Presidential campaign, the unthinkable happened: the unelectable buffoon took the White House. After all the smears, and all the mocking, and all the stupidity on behalf of the media, Donald Trump has taken the Presidency.

I have long hated the method of debate on the Internet. It’s not so much a method as it is theatre, in where everything is thrown at an opponent in the vague hope that something eventually sticks. It’s not enough for a debate opponent to be bested, but they must be destroyed, humiliated and mocked. It’s a technique I’ve seen applied to political debates, and I hate seeing it being deployed among the rest of us.

Whenever a prominent figure pops up on Youtube or wherever, they have their character questioned, and seldom are their arguments debunked – and even if they are debunked, they’re done is a, “god aren’t they stupid?” way. It’s a method I want to see stopped, because we, as a planet, have seen the method writ large just elect someone to the highest political office who has zero experience in being a politician.

Day after day, week after week, comedians would mock Donald Trump. People on twitter would mercilessly mock him. News outlets would focus on the minor aspects of him in the vain hope of shaming him out, but instead the worst thing possible had happened. He continued to rise.

Trump eating chicken. Newsworthy, apparently.

But has the media learned anything from this? There are some glimpses of reflection, with the Guardian writing about how they misread the public sentiment. I can’t find the article at the moment, but I feel it’s likely summed up by the Jonathan Pie video below.

But there is a pocket of the media who have taken a look at their behaviour over the past 18 months, nay, past four years and decided, “Fuck it. Let’s keep going.”

Yup, white people are to blame. Not the media who have championed the Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton, but also took swipes at white people while doing so. It’s amazing that these people think they can mock white people, but then get confused as to why white people didn’t vote for the candidate they wanted.

These will be the same people who will laugh mercilessly when Trump is voted out after a single term, despite that it’ll be the same white people who will decide to swing against Trump.

The one thing I fear now, is that the discourse on politics will now distill down to a false dichotomy; Conservative = white people. Democrat = non white. Not only is this reductive and false, it also erases any black conservatives, or liberal whites.

This isn’t to say that the recent result on 9 November 2016 is a declaration that this is the world and this is how it’ll always work forever. A 2014 study indicated that children in public schools are more non-white than white, so it’ll be only a mere decade before we start seeing elections less influenced by the white count. It would be foolish of any political party to solely court the white vote going forward.

But it would still be silly to assume that either demographic will stay Democrat or Republican as well. Political views are elastic for many people, and some might grow more conservative as they age.

I am neither delighted or horrified at the ascension of Trump, but that lies mostly in that I have no skin in the game. I am not a US resident. But I see the politics of old are dead or dying. We can’t approach electorates and demographics as left or right. People, this time, I feel have voted for an end to the establishment.

Politicians would be wise to learn from this. As would the media.