The 2020 race and Facebook

According to “buzz on the internet”, which for me these days says “what the media wants people to think others are talking about”, CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg is planning to run for President in 2020.

My post from yesterday seems rather timely, then.

This is one of those Elephant In The Room moments. Does nobody see the problem here? Nobody?

In the wake of Clinton’s shock loss, there were myriad news stories trying to find out what went wrong, or more importantly who they could blame. Immediately Facebook was in the firing line for permitting the spread of “fake news”, with Clinton herself using those very words about stories about her on social media.

Zuckerberg was then in the unenviable position of having to refute his network’s influence while simultaneously peddling his network’s efficacy to potential investors. To say that he was between a rock and a hard place is an understatement. When the eyes of the most powerful people in the world are implying your being complicit in their downfall must be unnerving to say the least.

Very recently, Clinton has named Facebook specifically in promulgating fake news which led to her poll defeat.

But back to that Elephant.

If Facebook is as effective any many had posited, do they not see the problem with Zuckerberg running for President? Do they not see how the person who has the finger on the buttons that can approve and deny people access to information which could sway their decision? Facebook is the number 3 site on the internet, behind Youtube and Google’s homepage. To a lot of people, Facebook is the Internet. They never go beyond that page.

The idea that a Presidential candidate can control that flow of information just flat-out concerns me. Equally concerning is the lack of other peoples’ concern about this. Are we just going to let someone whose company is (according to former employees) manipulating and suppressing viewpoints that didn’t befit their organisation or their political buddies.

I’ve linked to Gizmodo above, and now I need a shower – although I don’t think there’s enough soap in the world that could cleanse me of the ick.

My previous post talked about how sites which are the most popular should consider their positions one of responsibility rather than partisanship, which is why I don’t accept the “It’s their site, they can do what they want” bollocks. We wouldn’t accept it if the tables were flipped, so we shouldn’t accept it now.

If Zuckerberg decided to run for President, he would need to appoint independent auditors to Facebook’s premises to ensure that no tampering of counter viewpoints occurs. Or he could do what many other power brokers on the planet do;

Buy a puppet.

Feelings trump the news

In the wake of the testifying of former FBI Director James Comey, I’ve noticed a fairly significant rhythm and rhyme in the way that the media has been reporting on the event.

Aside from the non-revelation that a billionaire would dare to be outrageous with the truth for the sake of personal benefit, I am surprised a little that the headlines seem to focus upon Comey’s assessment of Trump’s character, rather than the actual news stories I took from the testimony. Those being:

  • Then Attorney-General, Loretta Lynch, asked Comey to call the investigation into Clinton a “matter” – effectively removing any kind of insidious tone to the process – to which Comey actually complied.
  • Comey was the leaker of information, albeit indirectly (not a crime in this instance, but certainly questionable for a public servant).
  • The New York Times was “almost entirely wrong” about the alleged contact between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

It is no great surprise that media outlets are very biased in their coverage, and their glossing over these particular points does make me understand why trust in them is at an all-time low.

However, many would distill this down to being a left-right issue, when I think it crosses party lines and starts treading into “establishment elite” versus their outgroup. Ever since the US election in November 2016, there has been zero let-up in the attacks on the person who the people voted for. These attacks have come from Democrats, the media (both left and right), the majority of social media sites, and even Republicans.

I don’t care for Trump, personally. However, I was happy to let him see out his first term and watch him make an ass out of himself, letting the system oust him over time. However, it appears that the powers-that-be are not content with this timeframe and are wanting to hurry things along. This concerted effort, I am sure, has not gone unnoticed with those moderate people who were on the fence with Trump, and are now seeing rich elite entities poo-pooing the peoples’ choice and trying to have it removed.

I am aware that when it comes to conspiracy theories, that if you are unable to name a “they”, then the theory is just paranoid delusion. I’ll deal with this later, I think.

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.

The protest of partisanship

I have long been wary of those who “doth protest too much”. When somebody or something is being overly active in regard to their apparent beliefs, I tend to ask questions as to the motivations of why they feel the need to yell the loudest on certain issues.

This isn’t to necessarily say that those who are seen to vehemently oppose something are, in fact, closet supporters of that thing. However, that could be the case in some instances.

Time magazine recently ran a piece on brands having to “pick a side“, especially in these tumultuous political times (which is a euphemism for “Trump’s in charge, yo”). The article suggests that brands and corporations need to highlight just how virtuous they are, so their customers can, I dunno, support those who align best with their ideology?

Is this what we want to really start? We start to set our purchasing decisions over who supports our team? Why don’t we just get a white marker and draw a line down the middle of the country and just be fucking done with it? Democrats to the north and Republicans to the south, while California fucks off into the Pacific.

It’s bad enough these days that companies vehemently put on a veneer of support for whatever cause they feel is important, perhaps for fear of not pandering to the blaring chorus of social media (who never seem to be satisfied), but I cannot see anything good coming of telling companies to take a side. Businesses should create demand for something, not cater to our allegiances.

Because, at the end of the day, if it’s proven that one team is more lucrative than the other, then you will see a lot businesses jumping on that bandwagon dishonestly. What worries me is that while people can put on a face to suggest that they like Column A, they might secretly support Column B. Would people give them a pass, simply because they’ve paid lip service to Column A?

That’s a rhetorical question, in that the answer potentially scares me.

Who’s the real resistance?

Another day, another celebrity proclaiming politics. At what point does this kind of behaviour turn from actual political activism into blatant marketing? It is becoming difficult to tell who exactly is genuinely looking to protest, and who is hitching their wagon to the hate machine.

Today saw witness to the unholy ritual of hedonistic navel gazing that is the Grammy’s, and Katy Perry made no secret of her stance – for any of us who might have missed her declaration of allegiance during the campaign trail. Her uniform for today’s sermon is viewable as thus:

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A white pantsuit with armband emblazoned with the word “Resist”. I am sure many would attempt to mock the costume for its lack of subtlety, however I would ask those people to review pop culture for the past decade and ask exactly how a lack of subtlety is surprising today.

The ginormous question mark I have regarding this statement from Perry relates to whom exactly is the resistance?

Because, I really don’t know anymore.

Those who would vote Clinton would consider themselves the resistance to a boorish, contemptuous man who embodies everything distasteful you can find in a human being. However, those who would vote Trump would consider themselves the resistance to a corrupt establishment who embodies everything distasteful you can find in politics.

One has been in power for nearly a decade and has enriched their contemporaries and chums. One has been in power for nearly three weeks and is an enriched billionaire who probably has already-rich contemporaries and chums.

I detest labels, but if i must affix one to myself, I might as well do it in a manner that properly positions myself on the political spectrum. Yes, I consider myself a moderate, which is probably the most heinous thing one can be in this world of extremes.

So, now that I’ve pissed off anyone who might have mistakenly fallen in here, I might as well say it; Perry’s side isn’t actually the resistance.

I have difficulty believing that someone as prominent, wealthy and connected as Katy Perry being part of a “resistance”. This is not some grassroots movement, but big money trying to get everyone’s eyes on the “correct” people. Look, I don’t doubt that Perry believes she’s part of something special. I genuinely think she believes in this. But I think she fails to realise that she is just another tool of the ruling class, and like Meryl Streep before her, is simply preaching to the already converted.

The resistance, I think, would be the working class people across the United States who took the only thing they had that resembled power, and utilised it against big money. The resistance are the poor who wanted to say “enough” and send a message that they too mattered.

I can only really see the conga-line of braying celebrities as an enormous meltdown because they didn’t get their way. That is not a resistance. They pushed so hard during the campaign, and they desperately wanted to “make history” again in electing the first woman President (to follow the first black President), but to have that snatched away by a man who embodies everything they hate has made them snap. I have trouble believing in a resistance lead by ultra rich people who never have to worry about a single monetary problem in their entire lives.

This is how big money throws a tantrum.

By pretending it’s something its not.

Celebrity delusion and detachment

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I think there is something that prominent people and celebrities need to realise, and realise fast. However, I do understand that they may find it difficult to make this realisation as the position they now find themselves is new and alien. But now it has been smashed upon them with the haste of a bowling ball hurtling down the alley.

For the rest of us, though, the writing was on the wall.

This is because we have been expressing our distaste to the thoughts and concerns of the wealthy celebrity class, and typically it has gone unheard. The wealthy celebrity class would not know of any kind of dissent with the commoners, as we all were still buying movie tickets, music and other forms of entertainment. For the most part, we were still on-board with our alliance to the “correct” people and our distaste for the “bad” people (who were typically conservative). Those who denigrated the work of these artists were just trolls who weren’t to be taken seriously.

So, all was good while we watched the movies, listened to the music and elected the correct people into the White House.

But suddenly it turned.

Peoples’ wealth was decimated in the crash of 2008. Jobs vanished, and the worth of our pile of bricks on land dropped through the floor. Everyone tightened their belts and tried to do their best to stay sheltered and fed. The Global Financial Crisis was pointed squarely at Republican excesses and deception, and as a result the people voted for change. They voted for Obama.

Cut to 2016, and the much promised change didn’t eventuate. In fact, if anything, there was a very clear impression that (with the wealth gap growing) it was only the poor people who had to shoulder the burden of Bad Times. So, while everyday Jill’s and Joe’s were searching behind the couch cusions for candle money, this kinda shit was going on.

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Yes, throughout all these hard times, sales boomed for cars that cost three times as much as a modest house.

The message, whether intentional or not, was clear: economic recovery wasn’t for the poor people.

Of course, celebrities are acting with shock and incredulity that the commoners dare to not follow their instructions on how to vote. They act outraged that Trump seems to follow through on his campaign promises (which is very un-politicianlike), yet they still decide to not honour their promise (which is very politicianlike) to move to Canada in the event of Trump’s victory. Yet they continue to stand at lecterns and repeat their sermons in the hope that they can set the flock straight again.

But what this all boils down to is something simple: Celebrity opinions have been rejected.

The people aren’t listening anymore. If anything the people are quite willing to move against a celebrity’s voice. Heck, those celebrities who threatened to move to Canada in the event of Trump’s win didn’t realise that what they offered the people wasn’t a threat, but actually an incentive to vote for Trump. Celebrities, I feel, are over estimating their value.

Lena Dunham said she’ll move to Canada? So did Jon Stewart? Well, shit, if that isn’t an excuse to troll them and send them away, I don’t know what is.

People, I have learned, typically tend to know when they’re being preached to, and they resist dogma. This can only be highlighted by Shia Labeouf’s art project, in where people trolled it, recognising and mocking the lunacy of celebrity excess.

Merryl Streep can challenge Trump all she likes – she is welcome to – but I think her and her ilk fail to understand that all they are doing is preaching to the already converted, galvanising their opposition, and doing precisely zero to convince people in the middle that they shouldn’t vote Trump again.

The short-lived triumph of white

The current attitude I’m viewing from conservatives in the wake of the election victory has been interesting in its smugness. I guess the cries of “n’yer” were too good to pass up, although I cannot help but feel that they might be a little too over-the-top.

I don’t disagree that the election of Trump was an enormous middle finger to the media. In fact I find it incredibly bemusing that left-wing outlets like The Guardian have spent much of the past four years bemoaning and demonising the demographic of men and white people, and then act suddenly confused when all the men and white people don’t vote for the candidate they’re rimming.

However, conservatives would be doing themselves a disservice to commit to the notion that demonising the white demographic is electoral suicide, especially if we see a continuance of this tactic going forward.

To take a long view of the United States, conservatives would well regard the report that US public schools are, for the very first time, predominantly non-white.

If I understand the current media narrative (and I hate how that word is cropping up so much these days), it’s that people of colour will tend to vote Democrat, whereas white will vote Republican. With the media continuing this narrative and pushing white people to the right (as witnessed with the election of Trump) then in eight very short years, we are going to potentially see an entire generation, and majority, of Democrat voters.

I don’t say this to be alarmist. It doesn’t bother me if the above happens to occur. But it would definitely wipe any smugness that conservatives exhibit at the notion that the current system has rejected the identity politics that has permeated traditionally left-wing media outlets. Conservatives cannot lean on the white demographics winning them elections, and they need to start focussing on how they’ll appeal to this growing segment of non-white voters going forward.