“The most dangerous 'enemy of the people' is presidential lying--always. Attacks on press by @realDonaldTrump more treacherous than Nixon’s"
-- Carl Bernstein, journalist who broke the Watergate scandal
"These systematic attacks on the media accomplish two things. First, they fire up the base, which believe that traditional media do not represent their interests or concerns. Second, they provoke the media itself, which feeling threatened, adopts a more oppositional posture. This in turn further fuels the polarization on which the leaders depend and paves the way for the government to introduce legal restrictions.
The most dramatic example was in Venezuela, where elements in the media embarked on a campaign of open warfare, engaging in overtly partisan coverage intended to undermine Chávez’s rule. Some media owners were alleged to have conspired in a 2002 coup that briefly ousted the president. Once Chavez returned to power, he rallied his supporters behind a new law imposing ...
"'I understood the infamous spiritual terror which this movement [the Social Democrats] exerts, particularly on the bourgeoisie, which is neither morally nor mentally equal to such attacks; at a given sign it unleashes a veritable barrage of lies and slanders against whatever adversary seems most dangerous, until the nerves of the attacked persons break down... This is a tactic based on precise calculation of all human weaknesses, and its result will lead to success with almost mathematical certainty...
I achieved an equal understanding of the importance of physical terror toward the individual and the masses... For while in the ranks of their supporters the victory achieved seems a triumph of the justice of their own cause, the defeated adversary in most cases despairs of the success of any further resistance.'
No more precise analysis of Nazi tactics, as Hitler was eventually to develop them, was ever written."
-- The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer
It's heartening to see many new faces and hear many new voices who may in the past have not explicitly considered themselves "activists," or who have felt a greater call to stand up against a political administration whose ideologies show every indication of running counter to a constitutional democratic framework.
If that describes you: THANK YOU! You are awesome. And if you're an Old Hat at this sort of thing, this post is for you too -- by way of initiating a civil dialogue with some of the fresh faces you see in your timeline or in your local community who may be exhibiting the following behavior:
Making claims that issue X, Y, or Z is "not important" or "not as important" as issue A, B, or C -- which is what we should really be discussing right now.
Here's why this behavior tends to do more harm than good:
There are a dizzying number of issues coming up, and many challenges being made to both constitutional democracy and American values -- no one can be an expert on or con...
There's something those of us in marginalized groups know instinctively, having lived lives long in opposition to a dizzying continuum of Absurd Moral Authority: from outright violence, to secretive "technical" manipulations of statutes designed to erode or remove rights, to vague and carefully unstated "wink wink nudge nudge" moments from individuals of authority who had some power to constrain us -- whether it's a boss (or potential boss), a teacher, a community figure, and/or perhaps most guttingly a family member.
We know the sting of being scolded for even daring an attempt at upsetting the Tautological Supremacist Meritocracy: "If you weren't worthless, you'd already be here by now!"
The British thought we would just roll over too
But we should remember one of the primary reasons that we as a nation even won our independence in the first place:
We were underestimated.
Lord North offered tax relief to the colonies that would help "defend the motherland" in February, 1775 -...
Coming from a monarch who could just as well have long ago checked out from world affairs, these statements should feel more disturbing than they are -- feeling as they do, a confirmation of the state of world affairs, whose shockwaves are reaching us still:
"Echoes of the dark days in the 1930s... that nearly 70 years later we should still be seeing such evil persecution is to me, beyond all belief." -- Charles, Prince of Wales
Much has been said regarding the so-called laziness of the poor. Hands have been wrung, glasses have been drained, Davos hotel rooms have been trashed year after year in elite consternation over The Perennially Perplexing Plight of the Poor.
Meanwhile in the American political landscape, the answer is already clear:
THEY'RE NOT WORKING HARD ENOUGH!!!!
But perhaps there's some confusion over what is meant by the term "hard work" -- certainly it's ambiguous, and no one takes a pause in the middle of a vigorous, breathy debate to define their terms, curiously. So, for the barely literate cretins out there who can barely manage to hold down a job much less participate in the ever-prosperous U.S. economy -- a visual guide:
Working hard vs. hardly working: An Illustrated Guide to Hard WorkWorking hard
(direct link: https://tpc.quip.com/00POAlXJ6I8Y)
Much hay was made this weekend over the fact that the staid global news outlet The New York Times had the audacity to put the story about Mike Pence's well-timed stunt at Hamilton above the fold, while it relegated the story of Donald Trump's hasty settlement of $25 million over the Trump University lawsuits (an amount which lawyer Lisa Bloom called "power evidence of guilt") to past the jump, in the print edition.
First of all, who is kidding themselves that people are still reading only the New York Times print edition above the fold?! If someone buys the New York Times they gon' turn that shit over, maybe head on brazenly over to A2. And if they're reading the story online, they didn't come to it from the New York Times front page.
Secondly, how is Hamilton, the most dearly beloved Broadway musical in recent memory (so popular, in fact, that tickets are sold out for the next ~2 years) -- playing in the Richard Rodgers Theatre just a few short blocks away from The New York Times...
Without the doing of some thing brand inappropriate
If i don't rend the cloth of this Culture Fit soon i will die
Like the coral
Like two-thirds of the wild
Like the humans on the edge of a rising shoreline
In a ceaseless world
With iceless poles
And icy proles
As the planet heats,
Swallowing our red or our blue pills;
Interned into camps of grievers and shills
Grieve i do and for the West
Our president the Bigly Best!
We'll come and go at his behest
Put down your Freedom of Info Requests
Baby, you just ain't seen nothin' yet
Joe Walsh got his balls out, and his musket too
The Lefties dream of Saskatoon
We're all gonna get that Change real soon
You'll see when fascism hits High Noon
We'll finish tearing ourselves apart
In the streets and in the dark
Can no longer recreate in this park
Leslie Knope didn't fit the part
She had the mighty audacity
To take purview over Benghazi
Once Bush and...
are not merely empowered to separate us from discerning fact and fiction.
They separate us from debate; civic discourse; meaningful conflict;
From coalition-building; compromise; concession.
They separate us from each other.
Communities seem quaint
Common ground, a shifting place
Quicksand beneath one's feet
We are all swamp things now
The eyes ogle, waiting for us to falter -- for sport
Our shelf lives grow ever shorter
While billionaires transfuse the blood of the young
The youth don't want my mid-life crisis
It bores them so
My tone grates on America's next greats
Ideologies wage the fifth world war out on the vast placeless social media savannah
Faux fantastical beasts feast upon felled paper tigers
One can only hope the most outsized egos
Are the biggest dinosaurs
When the meteor comes
The creator of the also excellent Century of the Self film series released his latest film in October, 2016. Dubbed HyperNormalisation, it offers both a history lesson of the complicated relationship between the West, the Middle East, and Russia, as well as an unflinching look at the roles played by technology, surveillance, and the media on our modern condition of general confusion, destabilization, and surrealism.