Current Affairs – US
Short summary: Joy Ann Reid, assumed by many to be a liberal Democrat commentator, is found to have posted numerous anti-gay comments and articles in the past on the Internets.
Reid, after first hemming and hawing and then issuing bizarre and contradictory statements, now announces that her blogs and accounts online must have been hacked. Her representatives are now running around all over the place attempting to persuade the owners of internet archives and other forums to delete her old postings and comments, on the grounds that her accounts were hacked, and have seemingly demanded that the FBI conduct an investigation.
There is a big problem with this approach, quite apart from the reality that it is a really good way of keeping an unflattering story alive. It is unlikely to be true. Here is one reason why.
One of the defenses of Joy Reid right now is that there's no contemporaneous commentary on her old homophobic posts.
— Adrenochrome Harvester (@ClenchedFisk) April 25, 2018
The idea that your accounts were mysteriously “hacked” by bad actors loses credibility when (for example) contemporaneous commentary and discussion, based on those comments, is found. In order for this to be plausible, you have to accept that there was a Joy Ann Reid impersonator operating on the internets from 2007 or earlier for several years, and that Joy Ann Reid never once noticed. Hmmm. Somehow that seems highly…unlikely.
People do change their views over time. Sometimes people holding exclusionary, odious or obnoxious views abandon them later in life. George Wallace famously abandoned the open racism he espoused in the 1970s towards the end of his life, and publicly recanted many of his previous positions.
And..Americans just love redemption narratives. Think of all the times that people rise, fall and are redeemed. The image of the imperfect defective human failing or falling, only to rise again, is a deeply enduring positive narrative that fuels hundreds of news stories, movies, and books a year.
So, if Joy Ann Reid had held and espoused anti-gay views 12 years ago, it would have been way way smarter of her to have owned up to it, said “look, I used to believe these things, I moved on, I realized that I was wrong, and I ask for forgiveness for my earlier ignorance”, then sure, there would have been a shitstorm for maybe 72 hours, then everybody would have moved on to the latest scandalous utterance by Donald Trump, or whatever the latest media-entrancing shiny object was.
Now, instead of that rapid shuffle out of the limelight, Joy Ann Reid is going to be in the news for days, probably weeks, as thousands of internet sleuths of varying capabilities, seeing prima facie evidence of a cover-up, start digging. And one thing that is true is that just about everybody on the internet has stuff that lurks just below the surface and which can be uncovered.
Along the way, whatever remaining credibility that Joy Ann Reid has will leach away, slowly and irredeemably, just like the inevitable drop of the sand in the hourglass from top to bottm.
I know a number of people who own guns.
I know people who own multiple firearms.
As far as I can tell, none of those people are what I could term “gun nuts”. I have yet to see any images of them prancing around in camo gear waving their firearms in the air, pointing them at real or imaginary targets, standing looking purposeful with their main weapon posed next to The Bible, or taking part in the Texas elimination heat of the World Shooting-In-The-Air Competition.
However, there are definitely people who do those things.
There are also people who cannot stop talking confrontational, macho smack online about how they are going to defend themselves and anybody else they feel like defending against all enemies, foreign and domestic, using…their guns.
“enemies”, depending on who you read and whatever is happening in the world, appears to be one or more of a long laundry list of anti-American groups, including (but not limited to):
1. The Government (at whatever level they currently despise the most)
2. Liberals, Communists, Marxists, Atheists
4. Colin Kaepernick and any other sonofabitch who dares to kneel for The Anthem
5. Scary Brown People (who are assumed, most of the time, to be either terrorists or muslims)
6. Gun grabbers
7. Gun grabbers
8. Gun grabbers
9. Did I say “GUN GRABBERS?”
The verbiage used is wearily familiar, reading like a mutant combination of John Wayne, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Charlton Heston and whatever mangled quote from the Founding Fathers they can recycle (including numerous fictitious or mashed-up quotes they find in the meme bucket).
The premise is simple: there are good reasons why they own firearms, they have a Right to own as many damn firearms as they like, they intend to own those firearms until their dying day, and anybody who they think is Coming For Their Guns can expect to be met with Lethal Force from Their Guns.
The mindset is like reading a cross between the outpourings of a desperate schoolyard bully, and Rambo on an off-day. Here is an excellent example from Twitter:
Why do I need an AR-15? Because some day the government may tell me I'm not allowed to put my sick son on a plane and fly him to Italy for treatment. And believe me when I tell you I WILL be putting him on that plane. #AlfieEvans
— Jesse Kelly® (@JesseKellyDC) April 24, 2018
You could probably create this kind of verbiage using a machine algorithm. That is how predictable this juvenile smack is.
The question is: who are they trying to impress. Not me, that’s for sure. I came to the conclusion that they are really just desperately trying to convince themselves they are Tough Guys. Because, in most contexts this sort of braggadocio simply reads and sounds like desperate chicken-strutting from little guys.
Sheesh, here we go again…
One of the more distressing aspects of race relations in the modern USA is the tendency of the African-American community to sign onto anti-Jewish ideas and conspiracy theories, and, when challenged on their public statements, to behave like rhetorical shitweasels.
There is a rich vein of such rhetoric, including the Rev.Jesse Jackson’s infamous “Hymietown” outburst about New York, and Louis Farrakhan’s numerous anti-Jewish references and comments, which he often tries to weasel out of when challenged.
Now we have another eye-opening instance from D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8), who apparently thinks that “the Rothschilds” control the climate. When challenged on the statement, he engaged in rhetorical shit-weaselling of the first order.
This is distressing. It is distressing because, at a time when animus by white nativists is manifesting itself against anybody who does not look white, and is being accompanied by a clear rise in anti-Jewish rhetoric, plus the return of active campaigning to roll back gay equality, communities impacted by this animus should be forming a united front to push back on it, not being divided.
The African-American community in the USA has multiple challenges on this front, since it is dismissing discrimination against other minorities, or itself engaging in the very racially, ethnically and religiously based discrimination that it rightly decries in others. Some commentators seem to realize this, but other leaders in the African-American community engage in rhetorical tap-dancing when asked about (say) the latest pronouncements of Louis Farrakhan.
Some contemplation in front of a mirror is required.
Delta Airlines responded defiantly to the news that the State of Georgia removed a clause from a tax incentive bill that would have given it a break on jet fuel purchases within Georgia. (NOTE – This was not specific to Delta – other airlines would also have benefited from the tax concession; however, Delta had more to gain because its main hub is in Georgia).
Delta also leaked some interesting titbits, the most important one being that a grand total of 13 NRA members had taken advantage of the now-discontinued discount program. If that is the correct number, the program was a waste of money for Delta, even before the public backlash when the existence of the program was discovered. You don’t have to be a math genius to work out that there was no upside to continuing the program.
The decision to strip the fuel concession from the bill was a state-wide political decision. Atlanta is a Democratic city, and rural Georgia is solidly Republican. The decision would therefore have appealed to rural GOP voters as sticking it to the corrupt Dems in Atlanta. All good retail politics in an election season.
The main question is: what next?
Delta is unlikely to leave Atlanta. They just extended for another 20 years with the City to use Hartsfield-Jackson as their man hub. They could leave, but long-term contracts like this one are difficult to get out of. When I visited Nashville in 2002 en route home from ORD to DFW (in the days when I had flight benefits on American Airlines), I found out that American had abandoned Nashville as a hub after 9/11, reducing it to a destination from several other hubs (ORD, DFW and RDU). However, they still had long term leases on close to 20 gates at the airport that they could not get out of. So some of the gates were shuttered, and some of them had been leased to SouthWest Airlines. The AA flights into and out of Nashville were full, but AA was losing money (“loadings are great, but yields are terrible” was the succinct summary of one of the AA gate agent supervisors) because of the combination of high fixed costs they could not get out of, plus competition from SouthWest, who were being subsidized via the cheap sub-leased gates.
So…Delta could leave ATL, but it is unlikely to do so, unless another city comes up with a dizbustingly-enticing tax and/or subsidy package.
What I think is most likely to happen is that the tax concession will be quietly resurrected in another bill, and passed later this year after the fuss has died down. Delta has been a GOP money donor, and the GOP will not be keen to lose donations in the future.
The entire incident is an example of what happens when virtue signalling becomes the main public currency of retail politics. Delta cancelled discounts for NRA members because there was no upside any more, given the backlash after the Parkland school shooting (Virtue Signal #1). The Georgia GOP removed the fuel tax concession from the bill to show that they could punish Delta and energize their base in an election season (Virtue Signal #2). Delta’s CEO informed the public that “their values are not for sale (Virtue Signal #3). If they are smart, the GOP will now repair the damage by quietly re-instating the fuel tax concession.
The Lt. Governor of Georgia, Casey Cagle, caused a row 2 days ago by invoking a process to suspend debate on a bill in the State legislature that would have provided a tax concession on aviation fuel for Delta Airlines.
His stated reason was that Delta is discriminating against the NRA.
The stated reason is bullshit.
Delta was granting NRA members certain discounts on its services. These discounts were not available to customers who were not NRA members. The NRA members were therefore enjoying a privilege.
Removal of the discount was therefore removal of a privilege, not discrimination.
It is not clear to me whether the threat to withhold tax concessions to Delta violates any state or federal laws. At best, it is clearly an attempt to punish a corporation for offending political sensibilities. As such, the precedent is a dangerous one.
However, the backdrop to this action is easier to understand. The current Governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, is term-limited. There are multiple GOP candidates to replace him. A primary election is scheduled to determine who the Republican candidate will be, and Casey Cagle is one of the primary candidates.
The action to try and derail the tax concession for Delta is therefore almost certainly an attempt to appeal to GOP primary voters. Just to validate that hypothesis, another GOP primary candidate for the Governorship, Michael Williams, claimed on-air today in a CNN interview that Delta grants discounts to Planned Parenthood supporters. (when pressed on the source for the claim, he cited Google as a source, and then ducked and weaved. Well OK then.).
What is going on here, folks, is an attempt by GOP primary candidates to out-crazy each other to appeal to their base. This is because in the current GOP world, winning the primary is all that matters. They expect to win the general election because…the GOP always wins.
The right answer is for them to emerge from the primary process looking like censorious twits, and lose the general. However, that is up to the electorate in the state of Georgia.
In the meantime, Georgia can kiss goodbye to any idea that Amazon might move there, and other states are only too willing to talk to Delta Airlines about moving its HQ and hub from Atlanta. Corporations always have options, and they can probably get a better tax deal from another state, which might leave Georgia with a 30+k job hole if that is the outcome.
If there really is a deity, may that deity come down from wherever and spare us.
I want us to be spared from the avalanche of intellectually risible, fear-addled ratchet-jawing by fringe media frontmen (and notice, this is all men in my posting) who seem to think that the recently released portrait of former President Obama contains all sorts of pointers and symbols to…
Well…why don’t we take a quick look at what the looney-tunes ratchet-jaws are claiming, shall we?
1. Sean Hannity
A two-fer here, since Hannity, more even than Alex Jones, appears to have come unglued about the portrait. First he wrote this Tweet, but, realizing that maybe the mask had slipped, deleted it:
Sean Hannity has deleted this now, because the classic racism was too obvious, too clownish, too blatant, too much of a self-parody. Hannity's primary job at @FoxNews is to make racism seem reasonable, so that it spreads. pic.twitter.com/h5E66AMNam
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) February 13, 2018
Then he went on this rant about supposedly hidden detail in the portrait that of course, only he, the great savant, can see:
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) February 13, 2018
2. Alex Jones
Alex Jones claims that Kehinde Wiley secretly painted a sperm on Obama's presidential portrait to fulfill a globalist plot to make the world a "ritual of abomination"https://t.co/ZK1oXrJNB2
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) February 13, 2018
Whisky Tango Foxtrot. cubed.
This is an effing portrait we are looking at here.
Here we have two commentators who appear to have completely jumped the shark into…who knows where?
I remain consistently amused at the level to which authoritarian dim-bulbs and their wind-up rabble-rousers consistently invoke sexual metaphor and fear trigger-phrases when talking about Other Folks Not Like Them. How many times have we read phrases along the lines of “I don’t want homosexuality rammed down my throat”? A real psychologist would have a field-day analyzing how fearful exclusionary authoritarians use THAT phrase.
And here we have more of the same. “secret sperm”? Perlease.
This isn’t a dog-whistle. It isn’t rooted in reality, or anywhere within 100 fucking light-years of reality. This is the exemplification of fear-addled, racism-soaked fantasy. The umpteenth recycling of the old fear trope that Those People Who Don’t Even Look Like Us are actually a band of marauding, primitive savages, who are in the grip of the caranlistic desire to gang-rape Your Family Members.
If this was part of a fantasy novel plot, literary agents would be laughing at it. You should too. Ridicule is the only appropriate and logical response to these conspiracy-mongering wombats.
By now most of you will have heard that Arthur Jones has managed to get himself on the Republican primary election ballot for the 3rd Congressional District in Illinois.
This is not Arthur Jones’ first attempt to win the GOP nomination for the seat. He put himself on the primary ballot in 2016, and was the only GOP candidate. However, the GOP went to court and succeeded in having him removed from the ballot because of petition signature issues. This left the Democratic nominee to win in an uncontested election. This time around, Jones appears to have ticked all of the boxes for the legality of his primary election submission.
There seems little doubt that Jones is a Nazi. The evidence is fairly compelling. He is a former leader of the American Nazi party, and is on record as claiming up to the present day that the Holocaust is a “racket” i.e. mostly a fabrication. He has a track record of blatantly anti-Jewish remarks.
A lot of people are hot under the collar about Jones’ appearance on any ballot.
We should not be surprised that this has happened.
Arthur Jones has not suddenly leaped into prominence in the GOP because the GOP has become a party of Nazis. He simply used a feature of the current political system; namely that anybody who can obtain the necessary number of supporter signatures and pay a filing fee can run for office. This is a good feature. We do not want a system where only the wealthy, or those with the right connections, can run for political office.
Personally, I also want Nazis to be public about their odious ideology and ideas. I want to have those ideas demolished in public, so that the entire Nazi movement can once again be consigned to the trash bin of human history.
Is Jones’ entry on the GOP primary ballot the result of a shift in the American political climate towards the normalization of racist and fascist ideology? That is a tempting hypothesis in the current climate, but I doubt its validity.
The real underlying issue is that 90% of Congressional races are not competitive. They are not competitive because over the last 60 years, the two major political parties have, by subtle electoral gerrymandering, slowly reduced the number of truly competitive House seats to a fraction of the total. This has resulted in a an incumbent class of representatives dominating congressional politics.
Most seats are now stacked heavily in favor of one of the parties, to the extent that a dead tree stump could probably get elected from the party that dominates the electoral map of the district.
Because the general election itself is usually a foregone conclusion, this has two consequences, both of them negative:
1. Good prospective candidates from a minority party have no interest in running in the primary election, except possibly as a one-off to show that they have the “right stuff” to later run for election elsewhere. Why invest time and donor money on a lost cause?
2. The primary elections, which are usually dominated by the hardcore support base of the two major parties, decide who will be the elected representative.
Neither of these are good outcomes. For an election system based on universal suffrage to be credible, it must be demonstrably fair in its structure and execution, and enough of the electorate has to participate for the winning candidates to be able to plausibly claim that they were elected by enough of the electorate to give their position and actions credibility. An election determined 6 months in advance by a few hundred primary voters does not meet either of the above criteria.
The GOP clearly understands how toxic Arthur Jones is to their party and their brand image. They want nothing to do with him.
However, one can make the case that it is partly the GOP’s fault that Jones is the GOP nominee. They could have run an “establishment” candidate, but chose to not do so (one suspects that no mainstream GOP person was interested in wasting the time and effort to run), handing him the opening to run for the GOP primary election. So, whether they want him or not, they are stuck with him sailing under the GOP banner for the next few months.
The good news is that Arthur Jones is highly unlikely to win the election in the 3rd Congressional District. This is a solidly Democratic electoral zone. In the 2014 and 2012 elections, the incumbent Democratic congressman won the district by an average of 65% to 35%. So it is long odds-on that Jones will be defeated by a large margin. The GOP will therefore not try the Roy Moore approach of vacillating over supporting him, distancing themselves from him in public while secretly funneling money and support to him in private. The GOP has no chance of winning the seat.
Since he is already disowned by the GOP, Jones will be unconstrained, and we can expect to read more incendiary comments and allegations from him as he seeks to gain attention. To use the old military expression, Jones will therefore cause collateral damage to the GOP by his very appearance on the ballot. The Democratic Party will seek to use his utterances as proof that the GOP supports racists and nazis. That may help them nationally, but, as is usual in the adversarial two party system, it completely ignores the underlying causes of why crackpots like Arthur Jones can even gain any traction.
1. The Fusion GPS testimony transcript
Since the Republican majority on the Senate Intelligence committee refused to release this transcript, the Democratic minority went ahead and released it.
Here is Hoarse Whisperer’s analysis of it (HINT – it’s not good for the GOP or the current administration).
2. What happens when the children take over
I’m looking forward to watching Normay play Nambia in this year’s World Cup. pic.twitter.com/HNcboSL7Ev
— Peter M. Sullivan (@CitizenSullivan) January 10, 2018
3. Trolls on Facebook
Once upon a time there were no trolls on my Facebook friends list.
Then in the 2016 election cycle, some previously sensible people seemed to morph into juvenile trolls. Most of them (it seemed) were supporting Donald Trump, but not all of them. One or two also turned out to be Bernie Sanders supporters.
The worst offenders were given the heave-ho from my Friends list early last year as part of my annual rationalization. Two others were booted in 2017 for acting like horse’s asses on my timeline. More recently, some went on Hide.
However, some people are still behaving like trolls on my Facebook timeline. For reasons that I cannot fathom, they think it is OK to talk like a mocking strutting playground juvenile.
These people are operating on borrowed time. I intend to lower the boom om them real soon as part of my annual rationalization.