A few thoughts about the press craziness w/ Spicer and Conway:

I guess we know what it takes to get me blogging again.

Before we continue, watch this press conference if you haven’t already (warning, auto-play video – also, make note of the headline that we never thought we’d see from CNN):

Right now the Trump Administration (and the GOP in general) are appealing to the crowd that thinks Megyn Kelly is a liberal.

Read that again. Let that sink in.

One, the media market that represents is not large enough to make currying favor in exchange for access a worthwhile survival strategy in the ever-present competition for eyeballs. Sure, there will always be some who write puff pieces, but I suspect the press we’re about to see is more reminiscent of the coverage of Bill Clinton’s White House (who was seen as an outsider by the BW press) than The Shrub.

Why would I say that?

Conway said “I think we’ll have to re-think our relationship with the press” in response to Chuck Todd (OMG, this was too much bullshit for CHUCK TODD), and he completely ignored that very open threat, because he’s already in adversarial mode, and this was not the most hostile bit of commentary that day. It didn’t start with the Inauguration then, either. Trump laid the groundwork for a hostile press with two actions:

1. At the press-conference/infomercial about his hotel, he played the press by telling them it was going to be a comment about his birtherism, and only throwing them one line at the end.
2. He then denied the press pool cameras’ designated producer access to the post-conference camera walk-a-long afterward.

The media’s response? Pull the pool entirely. At the time I was stunned, because I had never even heard of that being done with coverage of that level of politics.

Seriously, Trump has worked hard to get the usually power-friendly and complacent media to this point, and I suspect this is just the beginning, IF WE HELP. Let them know we don’t want this treatment to be reserved for the Trump Administration. There is an entire Republican Congressional Caucus that needs this treatment, too. Hell, cover all of Congress that way, we won’t mind.

Necromancy Progress Report

As mentioned before, I’m using The Wayback Machine to recover all of my old posts from my various blogging platforms because REASONS.

I’ve finished 2004 (I’d only posted in November and December), and have realized a few things.

1. I really needed an editor. Still do, but DAMN did I need an editor.
2. I wasn’t a good enough blogger or writer to deserve an editor.
3. Posting links to blogs and news articles without excerpting from them is probably an exercise in futility, because they quite often go away. The Internet is not forever.
4. In fact, I was an incredibly sucky blogger.

I don’t recommend you go back and look at them, but it’s very obvious that browsers didn’t have spell-check in 2004. PAINFULLY obvious.

Steve Pociask is Repetitive

As Paul Krugman has pointed out in many of his pieces, you can often tell when someone is arguing from ideology rather than reason. If the solution they prescribe never changes no matter what the problem is, then they don’t care about the problem; they just want to push their “solution.”

Case in point: Steve Pociask of the “American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research” (in quotes because the name does not describe at all what the organization actually does).

He looks at the upcoming expiration of the Internet Tax Moratorium and the FCC’s possible efforts to enforce Net Neutrality by reclassifying ISPs as telecommunications providers and sees a horrible threat!

By my estimate reclassification and end of the moratorium would eventually increase broadband prices by more than 17%, due to increases in state and local taxes traditionally imposed upon telecommunications and utility services, including property and receipts-based taxes. The increase in costs, when passed through to consumers in the form of higher prices, will lead to a decrease in the otherwise growing base of nationwide broadband subscribers by as much as 65 million by 2020.

This decrease in subscribership would affect economic output by reducing Gross Domestic Product by as much as a quarter of a trillion dollars over the next 10 years, including the loss of a half a million jobs. Finally, the effect of price increases and demand services would produce a decrease in consumer welfare by as much as $81.1 billion over the next ten years for the broadband services market. Lower levels of investment, higher prices and reduced demand are precisely the opposite outcomes that Congress and the FCC have set out to achieve in the National Broadband Plan. In short, allowing the moratorium to expire and reclassifying broadband services – would do more to make broadband unaffordable, which will discourage broadband adoption and lower consumer welfare.

Given the potential downside from the risk of increased Internet regulation and taxes, policymakers need to prevent this confluence of events. Congress is mulling over the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, which would extend the tax moratorium indefinitely. On the Net Neutrality issue, the FCC needs to take a break from writing and promulgating new Internet regulations, at least until they can identify some serious violation that would require some regulatory remedy, rather than anticipating the potential for market failure. These actions would provide broadband consumers with adequate shelter from the storm.

First of all, when someone says that someone else “needs” to do something but handwaves away the specifics of why, be suspicious. The second paragraph above has the implicit assumption that (assuming that the numbers are accurate, which given that they come from the Heartland Institute, your one-stop-shop for obstructing climate change legislation) tax receipts disappear from the economy never to be seen again, which isn’t true at all. A huge part of what lengthened the recession that just happened is the mass firing of government employees at all levels, first local and state, and later federal. This meant fewer people working, fewer services being provided, and generally fewer things that need doing getting done. This despite the fact that raising taxes is a good idea given that we’ve slashed everything in state and local budgets to the bone except for law enforcement and the like. The meat of the piece is about two things: increased regulation, and taxes, both of which are Worse than Hitler in his eyes.

A compendium of wrongness:

The recession belongs to Obama, and taxes are worse than deficits.
Credit unions need to be less stable and risk people’s money the way banks do. This is a nicely done piece in that he’s sneakily trying to undermine the very thing that makes Credit Unions so attractive as well as justifying their tax break, under the guise of giving CUs FREEDOM.
Internet Freedom does not need to be preserved because FREEDOM! NOW WITH A FLAG BACKGROUND!
Municipal Wi-Fi is bad BECAUSE REASONS.
Taxes are worse than Credit Unions.
Internet access is not a utility, and having wires going to your house is the same thing as actually being connected to the Internet.

Note what he argues for in each of these things: lower taxes, more business FREEDOM, and less government. No matter the subject, those prescriptions never change.

If your doctor wanted to give you a coffee enema each and every time you visited, no matter what the visit was for, wouldn’t you start looking for another doctor?

Fear Itself

I really want to have something comforting to say about Elliot Rodger, about the world, and about people in general. Unfortunately, I’m going to stick with what’s real, as far as I can tell. Before you tell me what to go do with myself for writing such platitudes, I’ll remind you that we are talking about visceral human emotions that are beyond words, even for some of the best writers in the world. I don’t feel like I even live on the same planet as the people who could write about this terror, so I really don’t care how much you think I suck. What I’m hoping is that someone reads this and maybe decides to step back from whatever terror they’ve embraced.

First, the bad news (I’ll keep it short): if you think he was bad, there are far, far worse out there all over the world. Men have cornered the market on that kind of evil, but to be human and to want to control others (which is almost the same thing) is to harm others. Y’all can argue back and forth over who experiences the greater fear (based on whatever sorting category you want), and who experiences the greater pain, who lives with the greater risk, and I’m almost certain you’ll have a sorting criteria that backs your answer (if you don’t, I’m pretty sure you’ll either change your answer, your sorting criteria, or just say “that’s what I believe.”).

Now the ugly (I’ll keep this shorter): most of this is because you can not experience anyone else’s fear as keenly as your own. You just can’t. You can empathize, and how much you try and take other people’s feelings into account is definitely to your credit (unless you start imagining you know what they feel, in which case you’re Scary and Bad, so go away). This means that in this world in which most people are unhappy (or worse) a large percentage of the time, you can’t even comprehend why, and when you’re given a reason, you can’t truly comprehend that either.

Now the good (a good person, that is): About a year after the 9/11 attacks, I met a New Yorker who worked two blocks from the Towers (and definitely knew fear that day). Her main regret, to her a tragedy that eclipsed the attacks themselves, was that we went into Afghanistan, rather than spending all that money and effort on rebuilding the towers, better and stronger than before, to show that we wouldn’t be changed by their image of us or their attack. I haven’t spoken with her since, but I imagine Iraq and the creeping paranoia we live under would make her even sadder. I don’t even know her name, but she’s one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met.

And lastly, a question (with some context): as far as I can tell, your life can best be described as what you build it around. Given that, I don’t care what your gender, race, age, or sexuality might be. I have one question for you: do you want to build a monument to the things that terrify you, and glorify them at the center of your existence, or do you want to build something in spite of them, knowing that you might fail? I’ll tell you what, you will get no lasting reward from anyone either way, and living in fear will not keep you safe. You’ll never get to compare notes with anyone else, and on most days, someone telling you how strong they think you are will probably just puzzle you (if it doesn’t, you’re high on your own self). You will, however, be working to shape yourself rather than willingly be shaped by that which you hate and fear.

tl;dr: the only thing you get to build is you. What will you be?

Human Predation

One of the things that some people on the Right have gotten somewhat correct about Elliott Rodgers (for the wrong reason, mostly “it’s all the Left’s fault”)* is that it’s more than just hatred of women that drove him. He didn’t kill four men because he hated women, he killed them because they were in the way of his “rightful” place in life. He viewed half of his fellow human beings as objects (disobedient and disrespectful living currency, an echo of a very old and ugly view), but this had consequences in how he viewed the other half of the human race: as competitors (at best), as thugs, as thieves, or as outright threats. Even his father, who he seemed to both be in fear and awe of, earned contempt from Elliott for raising such a weak son.

Elliott did not just reveal misogyny or misandry*; he was a paradigm of misanthropy. This is what a lot of younger Social Justice people don’t necessarily get, and what most of those who mock Feminism most certainly don’t get. Sometimes calling the systemic poison that ails us Patriarchy is to grant it certain types of power it doesn’t have in our collective imagination. Further than that, it is to understate just how insidiously this hatred of the Other is combined with an Othering of (and hatred for) the self for either never quite living up to its standards, or for just what an amoral and destructive being you become while attempting to enforce them.

Beyond that, I have no words.

Updated: Echidne’s deep dive into his madness is depressing and revealing (and shows great strength of character on her part), though it is a different perspective. Also, I do have more words now. It seems that human beings assume great solidarity among the Other(s), while usually feeling very isolated amongst people we identify with, which is why division between groups has always been easier than encouraging solidarity. Seriously, once you manage to “other” a group, how hard is it to impress a single imaginary organizational framework upon that group? Answer: depressingly easy, especially as compared with the effort it takes to actually organize that group.

Add to that the division between “alphas” (those who should reproduce) and “betas” (those who don’t deserve to), and the ability to cull anyone who shows weakness from the rank of “alphas,” and you have a culture that exists only to feed on itself (which is why I consider it a smaller, more intense version of our larger social culture in the U.S., that encourages men to prey on (or at the very least control) women, and men to poach women from (and ultimately destroy and overcome) other men. There’s no camaraderie, and there’s little or no common humanity, only the shared scapegoat of the moment. If this sounds familiar, it is because it is the classic Feminist description of Patriarchy (and it’s also the idea world of Ayn Rand and her acolytes, go fig). I guess I take it personally in a different way, because I have no choice.

* Roy Edroso’s roundup here.
** I shudder to think of how he viewed those outside that simple binary formulation

The Lost Legacy of Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair - Public Domain image via Wikipedia

If you’ve ever read The Jungle, which exposed us to the nightmare working conditions of the meat-packing industry in early 20th Century America, there is a scene that is horrifying in many, many ways, where a man falls into a sausage grinder and apparently becomes part of the packing-plant’s product. Well, I don’t know of any workers becoming a part of our sausage or hummus, but with company executives pushing both cost-cutting measures and the skirting of safety regulations (because it’s cheaper to pay a fine than to make workers safe, let alone reasonably-paid) the machines they work on are still killing them.

And though the article about the death of Michael Raper above does not say it, apparently there was a safety violation involved, though the fine was only $7,000.

Is that outrageous to anyone else?