The Sun Revolves Around the Earth

I was watching one of those focus group things after the third Clinton-Trump debate. They had a bunch of “undecided” voters in a room, and were asking them whether anything they heard would cause them to commit to vote for one of the candidates.

It’s been said before, but, really, who the hell could possibly be undecided at this point? You already know you’re dealing with people who don’t have it quite together. So, of course most people said, no, nothing had changed for them. And one guy said yeah, he was now voting for Hillary, and a woman said now she was voting for Trump. Everything is designed to be “fair”,  meaning the ridiculous false equivalency that we’ve been served up here must be maintained, or else, God forbid, someone will say the coverage is biased.

Anyway, her “reasoning” was along the lines of “they’ve had eight years, blah blah nothing changed something something America etc etc.”  I wasn’t really listening. Put it this way – I’m not undecided and this moron wasn’t gonna change that.

But I totally get the impulse to throw the bums out. Doesn’t matter if unemployment is down, the stock market is up, Guantanamo is moribund, we’ve got the only kind of peace we’re ever going to have in our lifetime, and so on. Give someone else a chance. Change is good. Let’s shake it up a little.

Except this time is different. The one guy is so obviously, manifestly, thoroughly unfit for the job, we just can’t let it happen. This time, we have to keep the bums in.

In this country, everyone is entitled to be as stupid as they like. It’s in the Constitution. I almost wrote “that’s what makes our country great” there. Problem is, the die is cast. It’s too late now. The worst just might happen. There’s nothing left to do about it. It could be President Trump.  If only the election WERE rigged!

Does anyone actually listen to this guy?

At a rally in Delaware, Ohio on Thursday, Trump said he would accept the election results if he won.

What a relief!

He also said, “And always, I will follow and abide by all of the rules and traditions of all of the many candidates who have come before me. Always.”

Really? Shall we start with your tax returns?

Ted Turner Started It – Background

Before cable TV, and CNN, everyone got their news through the three TV networks. At a prescribed time once a day, trusted figures like Walter Cronkite told the American people what was newsworthy. They didn’t interpret it. They didn’t spin it. There was no agenda, or at least that was the idea. News was not a profit center for the networks, but the fulfillment of an obligation to the government, “payment” for the use of the airwaves over which their for-profit programming would be offered before and after the news was presented.

Ted Turner came up with the brilliant idea of a for-profit 24 hour news network that was offered over pay cable and therefore not subject to existing constraints and conventions. The first gulf war revealed the enormous pent-up demand for up-to-the-second news. No longer did we have to wait until six PM to find out who was shooting at who.

So far so good.

But Turner also had another idea that most people didn’t recognize as a problem at the time – he wanted to present an international viewpoint to an international audience. This meant the occasional story from the Iraqi point of view or stories about how the U.S. military was actually fucking things up now and then.

This was a little jarring to some people who felt that the news presented by Americans to Americans should understand Americans to be the good guys. CNN employed journalists, yes, but before that they were Americans. Edward R. Murrow never presented any story from the German viewpoint. He wanted us to win, though this was not understood as “bias” at the time.

Enter Roger Ailes. In the news-for-profit era, increasing ratings was far more important than getting the story right. The line between opinion and reporting blurred. FoxNews created a winner with its hard right fact-free version of the news, easily surpassing CNN in viewership, which was now the only important measure of success.

The only loser was the American people. No longer did we all tune in to the same stories at the same time every day to learn what was going on. Now there was a 24-hour echo chamber in which we could all have our viewpoints validated without worrying about what might be “true”, or, perhaps, learning something. Just stay away from those “other” channels, the ones only idiots watch.

Ted Turner Started It – Conclusion

First the news/opinion line was blurred, but that wasn’t enough in the news-for-profit era. In the quest for ratings and dollars, FoxNews went the next step – news became entertainment.

Entertainment needs personalities, thus the rise of O’Reilly, Hannity, etc. Their formula was simple: from day one of the Clinton administration, it was all accusations all the time. Nonstop nonsense. Gays in the military. Hillary’s health care efforts. Finally they got their meal ticket in Ken Starr. “Whitewater” led to Lewinsky blow jobs, 24/7. A very effective peace-and-prosperity administration was undermined (and our power and influence internationally, as well). Shoot at bin Laden? “Clinton is just playing Wag the dog. Well hear more from Linda Tripp when we come back”.

And always they were at Hillary. “Tonight: Is she the evil murderer of Vince Foster or simply a misguided lunatic? A fair and balanced discussion after this.”

Because of the stain on Clinton created by Murdoch/Ailes, Al Gore has to run away from the excellent Clinton record. Bush slides in, resulting in eight years of willful ignorance, profligacy, and the disastrous shadow presidency of Dick Cheney. The middle east is destabilized for keeps.

Obama landslide results, but FoxNews never quits attacking. The terrorist fist bump. Birthers. Framing a middle-of-the-road moderate as a dangerous radical. All the while they have their eye on the Heiress Apparent. Liar! Benghazi! Emails! Goldman Sachs!

Now comes Trump. Again with Bill’s blowjobs. After 25 years of the made up scandals and carping on Crooked Hillary’s criminal empire, FoxNews can no longer dial it down. When Trump whips up the “lock her up” crowd, they have to buy in. They can’t now say, “actually, you know what, never mind, we didn’t mean it all these years. You’ve gone to far. What are we – Iran? In this country, we don’t imprison or execute our political opponents.”

The toothpaste is out of the tube. Thanks for nothing, Ted Turner.

The New Republic explains Trump

The Pro-Trump Intellectuals Who Want to Overthrow America

What a crock.

How about this instead: Just as digital technology has disrupted and redefined all other endeavors and professions – journalism, retail, travel, cab drivers, stock brokers, classified advertising, yard sales, radio broadcasting, telephones, photography, pornography, and so much more – it has also changed what it means to be a politician.

Trump does not need a war chest of hundreds of millions to press his case (or should I say his venomous babbling) via TV ads on networks that no one watches any more. He doesn’t need Gallup polls when he has “likes”, “upvotes”, and “followers”. He only needs his cell phone and Twitter. All is said in 140 characters. All is transient, forgotten, contradicted, amplified, and transmogrified seconds later in the next tweet. Nothing is vetted. Facts, or as the Straussians prefer, “truth”, matters not.

Idiocracy has given way to Twitterocracy. The death of the printed word signals the birth of Trumpism. Give the worst instincts and impulses of everyone and anyone a platform and megaphone equal in power and authority to the New York Times, and let the devil take the hindmost.

Trump and echoes of 1933

So many parallels. The cult of personality, requiring loyalty to the man not the state or party, the paranoia, the “crimes” of his opponents and the threats against them, the fear of the sycophants surrounding him, the personal isolation and lack of friends, the ignorance and misreading of world affairs, the impulsiveness and readiness to deploy arms, the xenophobia, the encouragement of minions to act against enemies to stifle dissent at rallies or polling places, the intemperate language, the legitimization of saying and doing things that the social contract has previously forbidden, the unending personal vendettas.

The damage Trump has done to this country’s prestige abroad is already huge. Win or lose, he’ll be making trouble at home for a long time.

“Bill Clinton did it, too, but worse”.

A. Bill Clinton is not on the ballot.

B. We already paid a high price for Clinton’s antics. Gore couldn’t run on the accomplishments of Clinton’s eight years because of the indiscretions, so we wound up with Bush instead.

C. “Why are you upset with me when you gave Bill Clinton a pass?” A pass? WTF are you talking about? They fucking IMPEACHED the guy!

D. Actually, “they” didn’t impeach him, Republicans impeached him, i.e. the same people now defending Trump. Democrats didn’t much care about personal things then and they don’t much now. It’s the Republican hypocrisy that’s at issue.

E. “My transgressions were words, Bill’s were actions.” Again, we agree we won’t vote for Bill Clinton in this election. But, to be clear, your words were bragging about your actions.

F. Clinton’s transgressions might have been a sin, but yours were a crime. Clinton’s “victims” were all in love with him – the sex was consensual. In your case, we’re talking about assault. None of your accusers consented. You, sir, are a pig.

G. “It’s just locker room talk”. Yeah, no. Not really. I’ve been in a few locker rooms over the years and I’ve never heard any one say. “I wish I had a lot of money so I could grab strangers by the pussy and they’d just let me.” Maybe that’s what they’re saying in Brunei or Riyadh or some such. I don’t know. But I’ve never heard it here.

H. And if I ever DID hear that said in a locker room, the last thing I would think is  “By Jove, that fellow should run for President!”. The first thing I would think would be, “Christ, what an asshole.”.