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.

The Griffin Head joke

I hate that I need to reiterate a point I’ve already made, but the week’s story that everyone seems to be talking about – for reasons I do not fathom – is the one where comedian Kathy Griffin holds aloft the severed head of the President of the United States.

TJ Kirk’s video effectively sums up my thoughts on the scenario.

I loathe getting into left-right labelling, because it immediately paints people into categories of “them and us”. People will squeal, “Oh the lefties do this” or “those right-wing nutjobs are at it again” trying to convince whoever is within earshot that there is a good “us” side and a nasty “them” side.

When the truth is we’re all the same kind of dumb animals.

Kathy Griffin’s photo in this instance is grotesque and not to my taste. Like TJ Kirk, I think it boring, pedestrian, and unchallenging. Ooooh, you hate Trump? Great. Join the millions of others on the pile. Fucking yawn.

However, I do not feel it a good idea that I be some kind of arbiter as to what kind of speech is palatable for the masses. God knows I hate a great number of comedians, artists, musicians, and would love to have them never perform a single piece ever again, but I am not that kind of person. Not because I am of high moral fibre, or because I am smart.

But because I possess an “off” button on my technology. I can choose to not listen or watch or taste.

Griffin has since lamented the apparent loss of her career, and many have bayed for her dismissal from any kind of public role. As I said in my previous post, I do not think that instances like these warrant attacks on peoples’ livelihoods. If not because that effectively stifles free speech, then because it reduces all discussion into milquetoast inoffensive words that dare not push any boundaries – even if (and especially if) boundaries need to be pushed. Sometimes we need to be confronted with views.

I don’t mean to say that Griffin’s photo was a necessity, either. As I said, it was boring. There are far more interesting and important debates to be had than “I hate Trump”. But if our reaction to an actual debate is to attack the livelihood of those who engage in it, then this is a path to destruction.

“But the other side does it” is a fucking lazy excuse, too. Do better than your supposed “other side”, and maybe then some moderates might come around to actually listening to you.

As I’ve said: the behaviour you exhibit is the behaviour you endorse – even with your opposition. Especially with your opposition.

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.

Remember Fake News?

This is an old issue, but when I look at the term “Fake News” I am remembered when it was gleefully rolled out by the media when they were trying to come to terms with the Trump election victory in November 2016. So quick they were to discredit non-mainstream media, they deployed “Fake News” whenever they could in order to make sure their readers never strayed from their official, polished line.

There’s an adage in martial arts in that you never bring a weapon to a battle if you don’t have an effective defence should it be taken away and used against you.

And this is what I saw after CNN stupidly reported on a story involving Trump’s alleged behaviour in a Moscow hotel room. Having reported a false story, CNN had the term “Fake News” volleyed back at them.

Suddenly the media was caught with their pants down. Their weapon had been turned against them, and it was all on display for the public to see. There was no sweeping it under the rug. They had misreported and were quickly lumped into the basket with those they had initially sought to discredit.

Scrabbling for a defence, media decided to “retire” the term, and Seth Meyers admitted that “Fake News” as a thing was busted.

The media has since distanced itself from the term, although I do see it regularly deployed in conservative circles now, usually to mock the very media who had created the term.

I personally will never forget how “Fake News” seemed to be the cherished cry from traditional media – no matter how much is it now a baby of far-right dens. The media dropped the ball there, failing to make sure their house was in order before the decided to smear everyone else.

I hope they see the lesson.

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.

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:

katy-perry3

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.