Category Archives: General

How Steve Bannon Perverts Racist Tropes

Commenter on Metafilter:

“A mix of concerted efforts and accidental activism have chipped away at the definition of racism for some time. These attacks narrowed the definition from “the historically rooted pattern of social stratification and exploitation rooted in race” to “mean people.” They have belittled the consequences of racial violence and focused cultural attentions on small slights to one’s identity.

“That said, what Bannon is doing here, and neo-Nazi’s all over have been doing globally, is different still. They are extending the popular tropes that suggest claims of racism are really rooted in ‘excess sensitivity’ and ‘weakness.’ And that extension says, ‘See. To be called a racist ONLY means that you are angering the sensitive and the weak. That’s all racism really is!’

“This perversion of our moral compass is not just nauseating. It is dangerous. It is how we lose the moral authority to name racism for what it is.

“Importantly, the solution is not to stop calling things racist (lest the word lose its meaning). The solution is to insist on the right definition. And to pair the murderous rhetoric these ideologues use with their historic consequences. This stuff is not just politics. It’s not a joke. This stuff kills whole groups and generations of people. Just because it’s not happening yet, doesn’t mean it’s not the same as before.”

Full comment in context.

Photo from this CNN article.

Robert Mueller is the Anti-Trump

Commenter on Metafilter:

“He’s also the Anti-Trump:

“He actually hires the best people

“He actually is a smart person

“He actually knows the best words and uses them judiciously

“He obviously knows how to use publicity and the media to achieve specific results

“He is actually delivering on his mandate and doing it super-fast

“He shuts his fucking mouth ALL THE TIME and puts his shoulder to the wheel and works his ass off without saying a damn word to anybody

“He actually inspires loyalty and professionalism and devotion to duty — PAPADOPOULOS happened four months ago with nary a peep from anyone

“He actually understands and practices the art of the motherfucking deal”

Full discussion in context.

The Republican Party is the Problem

From a commenter on Metafilter:

“I keep hearing that Democrats should either talk about economic issues or pitch their message to the emerging, more-diverse electorate — but I don’t understand why this has to be an either/or choice. Democrats who can’t figure out how to do both should get the hell out of big-league politics, in favor of people who can walk and chew gum at the same time. […]

“But please, please, please: Make the point that the Republican Party is the problem. The Republican Party has contempt for you if you’re non-white or LGBT or if you’re unemployed or need health care for a child with chronic illness or live downstream from a chemical plant. The key to changing America is not electing Republicans.

“But what are we doing? We’re fixating on Donald Trump and portraying him as an anomaly, not as the culmination of long-term trends in his party. We’re cheering on supposedly brave Republicans such as Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, ignoring the fact that the entire GOP, including, on most votes, Corker and Flake, has circled the wagons to protect Trump. We’re rehabilitating George W. Bush, which, as Ryan Cooper writes, is nuts: […]

“We’re falling into the trap Hillary Clinton fell into: We’re assuming that “real Americans” don’t trust any idea unless it’s ratified by a Republican, so we’re seeking Republican validation for our opposition to Trump. That just reinforces the notion that Democrats aren’t worthy of respect.

Democrats: Be proud of who you are, speak up for yourselves, and talk about what Republicans have done over the past few decades and how their extremism hurts ordinary people. The problem is the Republican Party, stupid.”

From No More Mister Nice Blog linked from this comment on Metafilter.

Former Republican on the GOP

The former VP of the Berkeley College Republicans:

“The giant, unstated truth of American politics of the last decade is the staggering, insane levels of bad faith that Republicans have shown in federal governance, and the unwillingness of mainstream Democrats or supposedly neutral observers to take it seriously.

“The story of what has happened to the GOP is actually a very, very simple story. They had a Presidency which they fully supported under George W. Bush, and it was an immense failure, a failure of a presidency of the kind not seen in generations.

“The GOP’s response to this was not to introspect, but to become a defiant, salt the earth opposition party. Rather than look inward to try to understand what had happened to them such that their governance was such a failure, they decided upon the election of Barack Obama that complete and total opposition – to everything – was the way to go. This was documented at the time – you can read the reporting about a meeting of GOP leadership after the 2008 election (but before the inauguration) where they made a tactical decision to 100% oppose everything Obama did, no matter how reasonable, because by rejecting everything they would deny him the appearance of bipartisanship and thus make it look him he was the radical one. They united themselves in this opposition.

“And it was immensely successful. It took years before anyone other than liberals like Krugman or Jon Chait noticed what was happening. It took Obama about 3 years to realize himself, to realize that you can’t negotiate substance with the GOP because refusing to negotiate was the substance. That’s the definition of reactionism. There was nothing Democrats could to prevent this from happening.

“While this was bad, what was worse was the combination of (i) the GOP’s hollowed-out hatred was an immense success and (ii) their base didn’t know they were being cynical lying sacks of shit. Eventually, even the party officials themselves bought their own nonsense. You can’t live for years with a knowing lie – you eventually convince yourself that the lie is in fact the truth.

“And so we’re now in a position with a party which has no ability to govern anything at a national level, but no one other than liberals realize it. And because they have so thoroughly poisoned the well against liberalism as an identity, no one listens to us liberals. The GOP’s toxic stew of empty, hateful resentment led them to elect Donald Trump, because the only actual qualification for being a conservative nowadays is hating liberals, and Trump was the most straightforward and vicious in his hatred.

“This party is poison. And we may be way too far down to benefit from any antidote.”

Discussion in context.

The Luxury of Meteorology

from /r/TropicalWeather:

“What’s that? You’re upset that, although decades of wonderous and dedicated scientific advancement allowed you to sit in your underwear at home and track with fairly good precision what was, for thousands of years of human existence, an unpredictable force of nature chalked up by our ancestors to the acts of angry gods?

“You’re angry that thanks to a stunning array of meteorological technology, every citizen can now have up to a 4-5 day heads up of when one of the most potentially destructive acts of nature is going to come barrelling down on their community? It pisses you off that because of television, the internet, social media, etc., word of looming natural danger can spread to those who need that information in the blink of an eye?

“Your own grandparents lived in a time when nobody evacuated from hurricanes because nobody had a fucking clue when they were coming or where they would hit. People didn’t evacuate, they just died. And for what? What upsets you so much?

“That scientists only managed to predict what was until the last 50 years almost entirely unpredictable within 25 mph of wind force and within 70 miles of landfall? Fuck them for not nailing it on the head, right? Fuck everybody else for erring on the side of people NOT dying, right?”

Full discussion.

Inside a Store-Front Church Cult

From /r/bestlegaladvice:

“And here’s a cool church with a diverse, mixed group of parishioners, young and old, black and white, where “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

“Great! I like what I see and I want to learn more about this!

Wellllll…after being love bombed for a couple weeks (check that phrase out online) they finally integrated me into a sharing group or something. This sharing group was a circle of adults, young and old, including some pensioners and people living off nickles and dimes.

“But the purpose of the group wasn’t bible study or growing closer to the Word or whatever. It was to hold each other ‘accountable’ for this really atrocious, userous amount of money each congregant pledged to raise for the church at the first of each month, and was supposed to have in hand by the end of the month.

“This is the first I’d heard of it. There’s a reason why they waited weeks.

“We’re not talking about a tithe here. We’re talking about STUPID amounts of money.

“Several hundred for people living hand to mouth. Even more for people doing slightly better. More than health insurance. More than food.

“One little old lady of color was sitting in her chair crying because she’d just held her 4th or 5th yard sale and didn’t know how she was going to come up with the money, but she was just going to have to have faith the Lord Jesus would come through. Upset, fearful, distraught, and struggling as if this was for a kidney transplant or for a sick grandchild.
Oh. I got mad. I got sooooo angry. Because not only did no one defend her, or say something like “let’s take this to the deacon” (as in the church won’t hold you to that this month), but they asked her what she was going to do next, what she was going to do better, how she was going to try harder. People in no better circumstances than she was. Abusing her, and each other. In this insane mutually abusive financial accountability group. They say the most effective form of control is when you can convince the victims to exert control on each other, and I saw it that day.

“I noped right the fuck out of that shit. Double time fast. I never went back to services again or set foot near the place.

“Lo and behold, all the prayer group people I’d been meeting for bible studies (not the same as that sharing group), started calling me, harassing me, trying to call me out, telling me the debbil had a hold of me, telling me I needed to submit to authority, and other even craaaazier cray cray shit.

“I noped the fuck right out of having anything to do with them as well. Block. Block. Delete. Ignore. The last thing one of them told me was that I was going to hell and that she felt really badly but couldn’t associate with me. And I could tell she believed it when she was saying it.

“Head trippy. Head fucking trippy.

“Culty ass scammy fucking so-called ‘church.’ Well, I lived and I learned. And I got a small taste of how people get drawn into that, what happens to them once they’re there, and what happens when they try to escape. I got a bit of life education that has proven invaluable. So I don’t regret it. But it still makes me angry when I think about that lady.”

Full discussion.

Photo from WookMark.

Why We Can Blame Roger Ailes

Because it’s all his fucking fault:

“This current shitshow is brought to you by Roger Ailes.

“When I was growing up in the 80s, politics was more like a thing that came up a few months before a presidential election, and people would talk about who they might vote for and why, and you would freely choose whichever candidate you liked best. Totally dullsville. Not like now, where who you think you are as a person determines your vote.

“Way back in the late 80s, a guy named Morton Downey Jr had a hit talk show. The format was, Downey was an abrasive chain-smoking loudmouth asshole who’d invite people from two opposing sides of a story to talk it out. He’d pick a side and verbally abuse them and get the audience all riled up with outrage on his side. Outrage! This was the key component, the sense of you or someone like you getting screwed and there’s the guy doing the screwing, it’s one of our most powerful emotions.

“Cue Roger Ailes. He clocked Downey’s shtick, put it in a suit and tie and sat it behind a desk in a room with bookcases and flags and called it Rush Limbaugh. Of course it was a smash hit. With Limbaugh, Ailes used outrage to manipulate his audience with what appeared to be a respectable format. In reality it was as absurd a cartoon spectacle as Downey or pro wrestling or televangelism. But say what you want, they made politics a lot less boring.

“Five days a week, people would flock to ‘Rush Rooms’ at bars and cafes to listen to his radio show, and/or tune into his TV program at night. The secret to its success was that, finally, there was a person to blame for all your troubles, and it was the Liberal. Outrage! The Liberal was out to destroy your entire way of life!

“Ailes used the astonishing success of Limbaugh to start Fox News, where he cultivated an entire stable of Limbaugh clones, all working the same shtick. It, too, was a tremendous success.

“Working closely with the Republican party and Rupert Murdoch, they transformed the entire political narrative. Outrage sold like gangbusters, so much more than boring old serious policy discussions. No longer did you need to have a coherent plan for anything in government – to win, all you needed was an identifiable enemy for every occasion. Who’s to blame for what ails you? Who’s trying to destroy your way of life? It’s always going to be the blacks, the Mexicans, LGBT, Muslims, immigrants, terrorists, atheists, abortion doctors, big-city elites, Obama, Hillary, college professors, college students, Hollywood, the French, etc etc etc, but one way or another all jammed under the big umbrella of Liberal. Not the Asians because that’s the “good” ethnic stereotype you can use, and never the military or the Jews if you want to stay in prime time, but pretty much any group who’s not white, straight, Christian and rural, they could use to work their audience into a sweet, profitable lather.

“That’s why Republicans don’t really have any substantive policies to implement now, even when they control the whole works. They don’t have any ideas to actually do anything, all they know after 25 years of this is how to generate outrage.

“Now the biggest problem with hammering on this outrage for so long is, people take it real seriously. It becomes part of their identity. It’s like you root for the sports team from the area you live in. You don’t choose that team because you carefully analyzed all the available teams in a big spreadsheet, it’s just fun to feel like part of a tribe with your neighbors. And you’ve heard all these terrible stories over and over and over about all the terrible Liberals out there, so you, along with your neighbors, are simply not the kind of person who would have any truck with people like Those People. It’s got nothing seriously to do with sitting down and analyzing political policies and the best way to run things, it’s just sports and identity.

“So keep turning the screws on that concept bit by bit for 25 years, and where we are now was always inevitable. Trump says he could shoot people and not lose his base. Just today, 60% of Trump voters still say there’s nothing that could ever ever never ever turn them against Trump. Well of course. It doesn’t matter to them what he actually does or doesn’t do because it was never about that in the first place. It was only ever about sticking it to whoever caused all this outrage that day – because if Those Terrible Liberal People are all up in arms screaming about what a scumbag Trump is, he must be doing something right, right?

“And on the far side of that envelope, there’s the fascists. Implicit in the nature of authoritarianism is the use of or at least the credible threat of violence. The far right, personified by Trump, is the father archetype: what he says goes, or else. The nazis marching in the street these days are the ‘or else.’

“People like to bitch about PC SJWs and whatever, but let’s face facts, we just don’t like being lectured about not saying “retard” anymore. Nobody’s going to come to your house and burn a cross in the yard if you keep saying it, though. At least I hope not, for my own sake. There’s not a lot of vegans shooting up churches and mosques or shooting people at protests or stabbing people to death on trains or running people over with cars. At least not yet. It’s almost sure to happen sooner or later. But Antifa, as the name clearly states, is only a reactionary movement against the spread of violent fascism given increasing signal boost in recent years.

“But this is the most important and least-discussed principle behind the whole shebang: in the post-Ailes world, liberals are not just people with different ideas about what’s best for the community or country, they’re dirty dirty Liberals who want to destroy your way of life. Keep drilling that into peoples’ heads for long enough, and a few of them will start to act on it. And then those dirty liberals will start to fight back. And then the nutjobs will say, we gotta stop these dirty liberals, now they’re getting violent, and the Outrage Machine will eat that story up from both sides.

“Presto, now you’ve got a low-level civil conflict simmering to open warfare. Who’s got the power to dial it back? Doesn’t seem like anyone can at this point. The power of the state can at least keep it somewhat in check… but funny enough, the current president is doing everything possible to undermine the authority of the state, so how much longer will that hold? It’s notable that Glenn Beck had a change of heart and tried to pull back from the precipice, and what happened? His fans bid him the fuck goodbye and found themselves another outrage supplier.

“It’s possible this all bottoms out and people demand pulling back on the controls and getting out of the civil war death spiral. I mean, it doesn’t take much to look around and realize how few people anywhere in the world have ever said, ‘gosh, sure am glad we had that civil war.’ But as long as outrage sells, it will… and it only takes a handful of people captive to their chosen media who spin out sideways on it and do a bunch of damage, so… good luck with all that, America.

“Ironic thing is, the Outrage Machine could be turned around and used for good. Be outraged at the rich who actually are taking all your wealth and jetting off to their bunkers leaving you behind to die in the wasteland they created, for example. Be outraged at a system that led us straight into extinction. Imagine the possibilities, instead of this weapon being used against each other. It’s a damn shame.

“Now what this means for collapse… well, I don’t think civil war’s ever been kind to a nation’s infrastructure and development, and if we’re sliding into the peak oil climate change economic collapse future at the same time, it’s just that much more reason to be pessimistic. Although on the other hand, should the state weaken sufficiently, civil conflict may provide opportunity for more self-governing enclaves, some of which might be dedicated to surviving into the future. That may be the most optimistic scenario, really. Even if we could pull back to the pre-civil conflict status quo, our systems will come unglued some other way anyway.”

Full discussion in context.