Tripping Triggers on College Campuses

As colleges across the country come back to life after a three-month slumber, the issue of who has the right to do what and when and where has once again trumped almost every other issue.

Perhaps the college gaining the most attention is the University of Chicago, which welcomed its freshmen this week with the typewritten version of Cher’s famous scene in Moonstruck. The letter explained that students should not expect “trigger warnings” in classes or “safe spaces” on the campus, in large part because the university embraces freedom of expression and isn’t into this whole coddling thing.

Seconds after that note became public, many faculty members and members of the general publicly applauded this effort to tell millennials to get their shit together and suck it up. Other faculty and many trauma advocates saw this as an offensive display of tone deafness by people in power.

It’s unclear to what degree this flat-out statement will lead to negative consequences or how it will impact the university throughout the year. However, the university’s attempt to inform its students came across in a John Wayne-like fashion. And much like a John Wayne movie, this statement had little nuance, sought to pound its point into the ground and people either loved it or they hated it.

In reading through the letter and through various other pieces written about this generation and the college environment, I find myself going back to my days researching media convergence: You would have 10 people researching “convergence” only to find that none of them were defining it the same way and everyone told the other people they were wrong in their approach.

Start with the idea of trigger warnings. Conceptually, they are meant to provide people who have suffered traumatic experiences with the ability to be aware of potentially triggering content so they can either avoid it or prepare themselves to deal with the circumstances. A good way to think about this is to think about what happens to some military personnel who come home from active war zones. For some of these folks, loud noises, like violent video games or fireworks, can short circuit their minds and drop them back into the war environment. Thus, they react in a way that is harmful or socially problematic without being able to stop themselves. One of my former students married a man who had PTSD and he could never be around during hunting season. The sounds of the guns would have him acting out violently toward her or anyone nearby. Thus, they kept him away from guns and away from the noises during the season.

In triggering situations, victims of trauma are unable to control their reactions and the triggers can cause them serious harm. A good friend once wrote about a traumatic experience involving her former partner’s death and how that trauma still impacts her to this day. Thus, when a professor in her grad program said something about how students would probably “rather slit your throat than do this assignment,” it literally triggered a horrifying response in her. She was violently ill, riddled with crippling anxiety and unable to function. I doubt the professor knew or thought about that before saying it, nor would he have likely said it if he knew the backstory on one of his students. The point, however, is that when we talk about “triggers” and “trauma” and “trigger warnings,” this is what they are materially about.

What the U of C letter is actually talking isn’t trigger warnings, but instead the idea of self-censorship out of fear of things people don’t like to hear or things that people find offensive. For quite some time, people have been noticing that colleges seem to be less and less about the free marketplace of ideas and more and more about “Oh, shit, we’re gonna get sued!” Comedians have noted they need to censor their work on campus. Speakers have been cancelled because of everything from religious objections to failing to “speak for the entire community” of some group. The specter of appearing insensitive has led to what some people have called the “wussification” of this generation. In an attempt to draw a line in the sand on this issue, that’s where the U of C went off the rails and lumped in everything anyone would ever call “icky” and stuck it under the umbrella of trigger warnings.

I agree with U of C on the idea of keeping things that are unpleasant or that have the ability to challenge a student’s worldview in play. Just because you don’t like something, it doesn’t follow that you can’t actually handle dealing with it. In talking about it, for the people who just don’t like certain things, discussions can breed understanding and potential growth. That’s not the same as triggers or trigger warnings.

Here’s an example of the distinction I’m trying to draw: I do not like talking about rape or thinking about it. That said, I have not been a victim of sexual assault of any stripe and despite my dislike of the topic, I can, in fact, have a discussion about it in hopes of improving how I see things and how I can be a better ally to victims.

There are people for whom the mention of a rape or any reference to sexual assault takes them all the way back to a traumatic experience and that literally breaks them. They can’t help it, there’s no way of stopping it and when it comes at them from left field, it renders them helpless and wounded. Their reactions are involuntary and are often unpredictable.

Furthermore, U of C isn’t banning trigger warnings or opening Pandora’s box of topics for their professors. Professors can choose to issue trigger warnings as they see fit and in most cases, professors who have classes with the potential to trigger students know when things are likely to cause pain. In my editing class, for example, I do an ethics assignment that has students weigh perspectives over a set of photos that showed a deadly car crash. The photos are real and at least one of them is extremely graphic. I post the assignment with a “read me first” note that explains what is going to be in the photos. I tell students if they have a reason they cannot view these or do this assignment to get ahold of me so that we can figure out a different assignment. I have had students contact me, telling me that they lost a family member in a car crash or that they have a friend who committed suicide in this way and that they don’t think they can handle the images. We worked around it and managed to create a decent substitute assignment.

Professors can do this if they see fit at the U of C. They just aren’t expected to or forced to. Kind of an important distinction.

That said, the lack of trigger-warning enforcement doesn’t mean professors can just be assholes. Just because I don’t have to issue a trigger warning about discussing sexual assault, it doesn’t follow that I could start with, “So, which of you ladies have gotten the old ‘I bet she meant yes’ treatment and how did that feel?” Levels of human dignity and decency still apply in the classroom and unless you are so socially inept that you make Rainman look like James Bond, you should be able to figure that out.

I get why the U of C thing is creating this dichotomy of rage: People often take shit way too far and thus the exemplars of those extremes are all we see. For every kid who has survived a traumatic experience and yet finds a way to persist in day-to-day life, amid all sorts of tripwires, there a dozen examples of people getting pissed off for things that make the mainstream folks want to scream.

The microaggressions outlined in this article include the famous “where are you from?” question, which some find offensive. The underlying assumption is that for certain groups, there’s an insinuation that the question presupposes them to be “not real Americans.” Truth be told, I ask every kid in everyone of my classes that question because in many cases, they’re from this state and I probably know someone from their hometown. I have yet to have a kid stand up and yell at me, “Oh, so I’m Asian, I must be from China or something? Why don’t you ask me where my fucking wok is you racist asshole!” The worst it ever gets is when I get kids from North and West high schools in my class and they still carry those rivalry grudges.

The “macroagression” exemplars are also things that make the mainstream scream. I had a colleague tell me once that a student noted, “I can’t call you doctor because you’re a woman.” OK, then… Guess that Ph.D. was a waste…

Professors who tell people that Hitler was an OK dude, people who talk about rape like it’s part of a regular night on the town or faculty who treat their students like sex toys deserve a swift kick in the ass.

However, it’s not being sexist if I don’t refer to that opening in the middle of the road as a “personal sewer ingress” instead of calling it a “manhole.

That’s not a trigger and that doesn’t need a warning and that’s something everyone involved in this discussion needs to learn pretty damned fast.

Otherwise, we will be harming the most vulnerable students and acquiescing to the most idiotic ones.

Friday Catblogging: Up Close & Personal with Della Street

It took many years but Della Street has decided to emulate Oscar and become a lap cat. Dr. A took this close up not long ago:

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Hillary Clinton’s Alt-Right Speech

It’s no secret that I’m an ardent Democrat and staunch Hillary Clinton supporter. She’s a helluva tough woman who has endured 25 years of vicious attacks and has always, to paraphrase the old Kern-Fields song, picked herself up, dusted herself off, and started all over again. I have never been prouder of her than I am today. It took guts for Hillary to call out Donald Trump over his ties to white nationalists/supremacists.The speech was timely and well-delivered. It was also effective. Trump is  squealing like a stuck pig on his Twitter feed. And some people claimed Good Cop Kellyanne Conway took his phone away. They were wrong.

The more squeamish quarters of the punditocracy have been squirming ever since HRC’s speech. It’s impolite to say such things; just as one should never call one’s opponent a liar. Donald Trump doesn’t abide by the Marquess of Queensbury Rules and neither should his opponent. He *is*a liar. He *is* a racist. He *is* a misogynist. He *is* a con man. He *is* everything horrible that has been said about him. He *is* a menace.

Trump gave racialists/racists a seat at the table by hiring Breitbart Dude as his campaign CEO. David Dukkke has been one of his most ardent defenders. It may be impolite to tell Republicans that they’ve allowed the lunatic fringe to take over their party but it’s the truth. While it’s true that this has been coming on for years, the short-fingered vulgarian has accelerated the process. Reagan and Bush the elder denounced David Duke in the late 1980’s. Trump pretended not to know who he is in 2016. Reagan and Bush maintained a facade of plausible deniability when it came to the racists in their party as opposed to Trump’s implausible claim that Hillary Clinton is the bigot, not him. It’s just more projection by a sociopath. It’s what they do.

In addition to burying Trump, I want to praise Ms. Clinton for discarding euphemisms by calling a racialist a racist. After the break is  the transcript of her very important speech via TPM. I have omitted her introductory remarks since it’s the longest quote I’ve ever posted at First Draft. It’s also the most important.

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Vagenda Of Manocide

I don’t usually post things I see on Facebook but this was too good to pass up:

I think Vagenda of Manocide is an excellent name for a thrash metal band.

You’ll be glad to know that somebody on  Team Clinton has hijacked vagendaofmanocide.com. Well played, y’all.

I don’t care for thrash metal so I’ll post some Deep Purple instead. Why Highway Star?Gulf of Maine Gunsmithing is right off U.S. Route 302 in Raymond, Maine. I bet human bowling jacket Paul LePage shops for all his weaponry there.

 

 

The Full English Brexit Goes To Jackson

The Trump campaign visited the “swing state” of Mississippi yesterday. Say what? That’s right, as his path to electoral college victory narrows, the Insult Comedian visited the ruby red Magnolia State. It makes no sense whatsoever but neither does the Trump campaign. Apparently, Trump wanted to bathe in the adulation of a friendly audience, which is not how you win a general election. It’s another sign that he knows he’s losing. He should be defending Georgia and South Carolina both of which seem to be in play. I’m skeptical about the latter but the Peach state is possible.

Another oddity was the appearance of former UKIP leader Nigel Farage at Trump’s side. The Insult Comedian is obsessed with Brexit; even calling himself Mr. Brexit at one point. Why? It beats the hell out of me. Farage fed the crowd a barrage of bullshit including this howler: “I wouldn’t vote for Clinton if you  paid me.” That’s a given since Farage isn’t a citizen.

It’s been a bizarre week for Team Trump so serving up a full English brexit in a red state isn’t even the weirdest thing to go down. I wonder, however, if this is part and parcel of Trump’s doomed effort to woo African-Americans: a nice black pudding is usually served with the full English brexit. It’s a ludicrous explanation but Trump is a ludicrous candidate. It does, however, give me a chance to mock Farage and make a brexit pun so it’s win-win for me.

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I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t close by posting a certain famous song about Jackson. It may be about Jackson, Tennessee but why should I worry about verisimilitude in a post about Trump and Farage?

 

 

Tweets Of The Day: Jeet Heer Say Edition

Jeet Heer is a talented New Republic writer and an amusing tweeter. He also has one of the greatest names ever. It’s so punworthy that even I should not abuse it, not that you’d know that from the punny post title. Take my word for it. It’s not heersay…

The topic du jour is the Insult Comedian’s immigration “policy.” If any of you knows what it is, please tell me. It seems to change hourly. What Trump really has is a series of attitudes on immigration: the latest one is Mr. Kinda Sorta Nice Guy. I still haven’t the foggiest idea of what his policy is but it has pissed off Ann Coultergeist and that’s not a bad thing at all.

Jeet Heer was following last night’s Trumpian chaos and had a bit of fun at Coultegeist’s expense:

I am officially glad that I gave up Godwin’s Law for the duration of this campaign. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to post that tweet or this video:

That’s right, it’s already happened, even if the dread Coultegeist isn’t in it. You can’t have everything, Jeet.

All Trump has done with his latest position is confuse people. Will it last? It seems to depend on who he spoke to last. His campaign gets more farcical by the day. It’s also turning into a cop show cliché: they have Bad Cop (Breitbart Dude) and Good Cop (Kellyanne Conway.) The MSM will hype this change as-you guessed it-a pivot that will change everything. It changes nothing: his supporters have drunk the orange Kool-Aid and most everyone else thinks he’s unstable and perhaps even batshit crazy.

Trump’s “positions” are so chaotic and changeable that they gave me an earworm. I’ll give Neil Finn and Crowded House the last word:

Lipstick On A Pig Time

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Well, that was 45 minutes I’ll never get back…though, to be fair, Kellyanne Conway managed to remain what I assume would be called “poised” and/or “professional” throughout…which is about 44 minutes and 59 nine seconds longer than the person whose campaign she’s now managing could.

No, no minds were changed, and despite Ms. Conway’s best efforts to paint (or lipstick) The Donald as anything other than the crashing-and-burning Hindenburg of a candidate, this was really more the better part of an hour of kabuki (albeit kabuki where Maddow, as usual, um…ruled, for lack of a better word) … something to normally be ignored; however, one, turns out I might have been affected by the floods after all (possible roof leak, long story, will spare the details), and two, I was trying to deal with that while also packing for a short trip out of town … not exactly great timing.

So … even if this was only Trump in surrogate form, previous Republicans appearing on Maddow’s show aren’t exactly a Murderers Row: Rick Santorum, microcandidate (and former Loosiana governor) Buddy Roemer…Tim Pawlenty (I think). In other words, MSNBC (minus the Scarborough show) is where dying Republican candidacies go for a few last, gasping breaths of air(time).

OK, maybe Trump isn’t THAT desperate, though the fact that he’s spending time in Mississippi strongly suggests that he’s looking less to win and more to bask in the adulation of his base … the campaign equivalent of all-you-can-eat McDonald’s French Fries. I suppose if you like McDonald’s fries … but … eat too many and you’ll make yourself sick.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Flim-Flam Man

The movie I mentioned on Monday is based on a book by Guy Owens: The Ballad of a Flim-Flam Man. The book covers are all remarkably dull but this movie poster is as colorful as the subject matter.

Flim Flam poster

The Flim-Flam Man still pops up on TCM from time-to-time. I haven’t seen it in years but recall it as a pretty good movie that’s largely played for laughs.  It’s not as funny as the Insult Comedian’s attempts to formulate an immigration policy but it’s much less sinister.

Gret Stet Flood Notes

Baton Rouge debris photograph by Carolyn Scofield.

Baton Rouge debris. Photograph by Carolyn Scofield.

First, I’d like to thank everyone who has donated to Gret Stet flood relief causes, either via this First Draft link or elsewhere. Dr. A and I gave money to the Denham Springs Animal Shelter. They exceeded their target and received matching funds from the Petco Foundation. I checked out them rather carefully since it was a gofundme appeal. Two friends who are active in animal rescue causes vouched for them. I mention this because the scamsters are using online flim-flammery to rip people off. Please be careful who you give to, especially if it’s a gofundme thing. At some point, we’ll be posting more links but I want to be sure that they’re reputable first. Besides, recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.

President Obama visited the Red Stick area yesterday. He shrugged off the critics and gave a nuts and bolts speech about how FEMA is not the same organization that it was in 2005. The people who hate him continue to carp and complain but that’s not helping anyone. Anybody who confuses Craig Fugate with Heckuva Job Brownie is an ignoramus.

POTUS stressed the importance of Congressional action to supplement FEMA’s emergency assistance. Unfortunately, three members of the Louisiana House delegation voted against Sandy Relief: Steve Scalise, John Fleming, and Baton Rouge’s very own Bill Cassidy who is now an empty suit in the Senate. And Fleming is running for Bitter Vitter’s seat. The good news is that New Jersey and New York Democrats believe in guvmint and will vote for Gret Stet flood relief according to Rep. Bill Pascrell:

“They don’t get it until they get hit on the side of the head themselves by a two-by-four and everything’s supposed to stop. All of a sudden it’s, ‘This is different; this is oranges and apples,’ ” said U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat from Paterson, New Jersey.

<SNIP>

Pascrell, who said he’s going to do “everything as a congressman I can to help the people of Louisiana,” said he wished that state’s delegation had taken a similar approach when it was his state that needed assistance.

“Not one dime is going to be delayed to the Baton Rouge area or to Louisiana. I can’t say the same thing about 2013. Money was delayed,” he said. “We had to fight from the beginning for the dollars. While that’s not going to color my response, I’m not going to forget it. I don’t forget. There’s always a day of reckoning. That’s Jersey style.”

Messsage received loud and clear. In 2013, conservative ideology trumped disaster relief. The errant Louisiana pols deserve to be reminded of their hypocrisy before we move on.

In other Gret Stet flood related news, it remains unclear if or what Donald Trump donated to flood relief. He seems to have lied about the 18-wheeler he claimed to have brought with him to the flood zone. He *may* have donated money to a right-wing church favored by “family values” creep, Tony Perkins. As is so often the case with the Insult Comedian, the truth is elusive. But we all know that the truth is not his middle name:

There’s been much talk of the exploits of the ‘Cajun Navy.’ I put the term in quotes because it’s an informal group of people with boats who help during disasters. As my friend and post-K blogger comrade in arms Troy Gilbert put it on the Tweeter Tube:

Troy ought to know: he’s one of this informal group, which is most impressive to this landlubber. There have been several scams involving the ‘Cajun Navy,’ so beware, take care.

There’s a legislator who wants to regulate the activities of these public-spirited citizens:

Republican State Senator Jonathan “J.P.” Perry of the Vermilion-Lafayette area said he is working on legislation that could require training, certificates and a permit to allow these Good Samaritans to get past law enforcement into devastated areas.

In a radio interview on News Talk 96.5 KPEL in Lafayette, Sen. Perry said it comes down to two main points for law enforcement officials.

“At the end of the day, there are going to be two things that are going to be the hurdle when you approach it from the state’s standpoint,” Sen. Perry said. “Liability is going to be number one for them. They don’t want the liability of going out to rescue them and then not being able to find them, and secondly, there’s a cost.”

Perry continues by saying the liability issue could be solved by something like a waiver that boaters sign prior to a natural disaster.

Clouarte and other members of the ‘Cajun Navy’ said they do not understand the regulations.

“How can you regulate people helping people? That doesn’t make sense to me,” Clouarte said.

I’m not quite sure what I think of this very lawyerly idea. Regulating the ‘Cajun Navy’ is like to trying to regulate the wind. It’s amorphous and spontaneous. I don’t think people should be discouraged from helping one another but a waiver of some sort *might* be a good idea. One person’s Good Samaritan is another person’s officious intermeddler. That’s one of my favorite Tort law terms: it’s legalese for buttinski.

Finally, I’m having horrible allergy problems so I’m unable to do much in the way of hands-on volunteer work; all I can do right now is donate money and write about the Gret Stet flood of 2016. But many of my friends have pitched in and helped people in the flood zone. I’d like to give a brief shout out to Brett, David, Jonathan, Julia, Troy, and Desier. I know I’m forgetting someone; inflamed sinuses impair my little gray cells.

Below is a picture of my friends Carolyn and Kyle who have been house gutting with the United Saints Recovery Project who *are* a reputable group.

Photograph by Kyle Melancon.

Masked house gutters. Photograph by Kyle Melancon.

New Orleanians are used to masking, after all. Since volunteering in the Gret Stet heat can be funky, I’ll give the last word to Sylvester Stewart and his combo:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: S.F. Sorrow

It’s concept album time again here at First Draft. The Pretty Things started off as a standard issue British blooze rock/R&B band. Then came Sgt. Pepper and, like so many others, they went all psychedelic and conceptual.

This 1968 rock opera tells the story of Sebastian F. Sorrow. It’s based on a short story by Pretty Things lead singer Phil May who also designed the cover for the British release. If you want to hear more about the story, check out the Wikipedia entry.

In the immortal words of Tom Jones, it was not unusual in those days for albums to have different covers in the UK and US. In this case, I prefer the UK cover. It fits the era and subject matter better but, hey, the LP was released in America even if very few people heard it.

Here’s a description of the Pretty Things and these sorrowful  covers by Richie Unterberger’s whose fine essay on US vs. UK album art I stumbled into whilst researching this post:

Digging so deep into the British Invasion that you come across bands who never had a hit here, there’s the Pretty Things’ S.F. Sorrow. The best ‘60s UK group never to make it into the States, the Pretty Things started out as a rawer version of the Rolling Stones; lead guitarist Dick Taylor had been in the Stones until late 1962. By the late ‘60s, they’d evolved into psychedelic rock, and S.F. Sorrow was one of rock’s first concept albums.

It’s a clear victory, in a change of pace, for the UK version. Which was certainly more in line with the band’s vision, as the cover was designed by Pretty Things singer Phil May. The US cover (on Motown’s Rare Earth subsidiary) had its curiosity value, though, for its tombstone shape if nothing else. The cover change wasn’t the biggest way Rare Earth fumbled the ball; though the album had come out at the end of 1968 in the UK, it wasn’t released until August 1969 in the US, which meant that some American listeners and critics accused it of being a rip-off of the Who’s Tommy (which it predated by months in the UK).

I agree with his artistic conclusion. Let’s start with the UK cover:

SF Sorrow-front

The tombstone shape of the US cover is a pretty swell thing in and of itself:

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I have a confession. I don’t recall ever hearing  S.F. Sorrow until yesterday. I selected it because I liked the cover and Phil May was a talking head in Blues Britannia.  It’s a terrific record. You might want to give it a virtual spin:

 

Quote Of The Day: Fox “Sexy Time” Edition

The fact that these are not happy times at Fox News makes me happy. Roger Ailes’ legacy is one of horndoggery and endless sexual harassment litigation. There’s another lawsuit against Ailes and the frat boy culture at Fox. This time, the plaintiff is my countrywoman, Andrea Tantaros. She quite rightly refused to put out for Ailes and Bill-O and it damaged her career. Repeat after me: Ewwww, gross.

I’m not sure who her lawyer is, but he or she sure can write. The quote in question comes from the brief filed on behalf of Ms. Tantaros.

Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny.

That makes Ailes the Hefner/Manson figure. In fact, Manson “dug Nixon” and Ailes worked for Tricky in 1968. I realize that was a low blow, but it’s still not as low as the shit propagated by the Ailes regime at Fox. It is, however, interesting to learn that one reason Ailes stayed at Fox so long was to get laid. Repeat after me: Ewwww, gross.

I’m sure you’ve heard that Ailes is advising the Insult Comedian on debate prep. This should go a long way towards improving Trump’s reputation with woman. #sarcasm. The punditocracy thinks this could give Trump the pivoty boost he needs to make an astonishing comeback and lose by a narrower margin than expected. They are silly billys.

I was hanging out on Twitter the other day when some boob from the Washington Examiner was bloviating on Dim Chuck Todd’s show:

Todd, of course, didn’t challenge the assertion that Ailes was responsible for Tricky’s sudden “palatability.” He didn’t become unpalatable to a majority of the country until 1974. Ailes is not a political magician who can transform the worst major party nominee of my lifetime into a winner. To paraphrase John Lennon, Trump is a loser who’s not what he appears to be.

It will be interesting to see what happens with all the litigation filed against Fox and Ailes. Rupert Murdoch seems to be hunkering down for an extended fight by hiring Ailes loyalists to run Fox. The next thing you know they’ll retain Borat to conduct sensitivity seminars:

I wouldn’t put it past Rupe to think that Borat is the cure for what Ailes Fox.

How The World Was Going to Work

A lot of the grave-dancing on Gawker has been rubbing me the wrong way and Nick Denton’s farewell post gets close to why: 

It’s difficult to recall now, but at Gawker’s founding there was a sense that the internet was a free space, where anything can be said. An island off the mainland, where people could be themselves. Where writers could say things that would get you fired in an instant from a print publication. Where you could say what you thought without fear of being fired, or sued out of existence. But when you try to make a business out of that freedom, the system will fight you.

As our experience has shown, that freedom was illusory. The system is still there. It pushed back. The power structure remains. There are just some new people at the apex, prime among them the techlords flush with monopoly profits. They are as sensitive to criticism as any other ruling class, but with the confidence that they can transform and disrupt anything, from government to the press.

In the bad old days of early political blogging (I AM INTERNET GRANDMA, GATHER AROUND THE 28-BIT ROCKING CHAIR CHILDREN), especially on the liberal end under Bush, the idea was that at a certain point you have to call bullshit on bullshit. It’s hard to remember but before the takedowns of every take, there was just this seething mass of stuff nobody talked about. That the war was a lie, most people were okay with legal abortion, terrorism was less of a threat than poverty and preventable illness, that some problems were not in fact too big to solve … these were only radical ideas because they weren’t being given voice.

Nobody was calling bullshit. And the minute somebody did, they were rushed off the stage. Bill Maher, that sexist, bigoted douchebag, said it was cowardly to lob missiles from a distance and brave to put your body on the line, and he was put in cold storage for years. A singer said she wasn’t thrilled to have this president be from her home state and people called for her to be executed. Our vaunted political press was calling for torture because it would feel good, calling for bombing women and children because somebody needed to suck on this, and anyone who objected was a dirty fucking hippie.

Coming out of THAT, having THAT be your formative publishing years, it’s hard not to defend somebody’s right to publish a video of Hulk Hogan’s dick, if the alternative is letting someone in power tell you what you can and can’t say and then go after you for all of eternity, drum you out of business, bankrupt you personally. That’s not even a difficult choice.

What’s repulsive about the death of Gawker is everybody acting like they deserved it because they published Hulk Hogan’s dick video and were otherwise MEEN and gross, as opposed to a thousand other people at a thousand other parties who just said things like an entire war is good because it makes me feel good.

Those people are on TV every day in thousand dollar suits. Nobody’s hounding them out of their homes. And that’s much more disgusting than anything Gawker said about anybody fucking a pig.

A.

Every Flim-Flam Man Needs A Sucker

Have y’all heard that the Trump campaign has rebooted and is reaching out to African-Americans? The MSM is so desperate to have a horse race to cover that they’re buying this horseshit. As I’ve said before, there is no New Trump, he just has a new set of advisers. One of whom, Kellyanne Conway, is a member of the club so the media is cutting her some slack. She’s supposedly the “nice” face of Team Trump even though she’s best known for working for Tailgunner Ted. The things the MSM will believe to whip some life into a race that’s largely decided; the only question that remains is the margin.

As to the “minority outreach” efforts they’re a sham as pointed out by Josh Marshall:

There’s a long history of Republican candidates making nominal ‘outreach’ to African-American voters not for the purpose of attracting African-American voters but to signal to moderate and/or educated white voters that they’re not racist. This isn’t always as cynical as it sounds. African-Americans are a strong Democratic constituency. On a generous read this can sometimes be non-racist candidates who know they have little shot at making inroads with African-American voters nonetheless wanting to signal to white supporters the non-racist nature of their candidacy. For present purposes, let’s simply stipulate that this is a well worn part of the Republican playbook with various shades of cynicism behind it. It’s a standard script, not difficult to execute.

Over the last week, this has been the new message from Trumpland, the fauxist sort of outreach to African-American voters. As with everything Trump, it’s of the most cartoonish variety, a tour of major urban centers where Trump picks an outlying all-white exurb and ‘appeals’ for African-American votes by railing at the post-apocalyptic urban hellholes in which he imagines they live their lives. For Trump, black life in America is living in a bombed out urban housing project circa 1977.

That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian, he pats you on the back with one hand and slaps you with the other. The MSM should recognize this sham for what it is: an attempt to convince college educated Republicans that he’s not a racist. It’s not genuine outreach. It’s a flim-flam much like the 49 seconds he spent handing out Play-Doh in the Gret Stet flood zone.

Sociopaths project their neuroses onto others. The Insult Comedian is a past master at projection. In addition to being insulting,  the line “what have you got to lose” applies to the whole misbegotten Trump campaign. The entire campaign boils down to throwing shit against the wall and hoping some of it sticks; much like the Breitbart Dude’s white nationalist web site.

It amazes me that the MSM continues to believe in the white whale of “the pivot” even after Trump himself said he’s not going to do that. Sure, he lies all the time but he may be telling the truth in that instance: anything can happen. The MSM are the ultimate mark for Trump’s con game: they’re so eager for a close race that they fall for it every time. They’re not just suckers but all-day, everyday suckers.

The key to understanding Trump is that he’s a real estate developer and they always have a bridge or oasis in the desert to sell you. Team Trump’s latest shell game has gotten the MSM to take their eye of the ball, which is the Breitbart Dude, not the supposedly likable Ms. Conway. To say that they’re gullible is an understatement. I have an oasis in the Sahara desert full of pink unicorns for sale if the MSM is interested. Sure, the oasis is a mirage and the unicorns are camels spray-painted pink with a plastic horn on their heads but if you get in on the ground floor, you can get a helluva deal. I think it might just work with some of the dimmer people at CNN or Politico.

About the post title. The consensus among people with a pulse (and Marco Rubio) is that Trump is a con man. As you know, I’m fond of arcane language and engage in sporadic attempts to revive certain words and phrases. That’s why I’m calling the Donald a Flim-Flam Man. The term flim-flam is defined by Merriam-Webster as:  deceptive nonsense or deception, fraud. There was even a 1967 movie called The Flim-Flam Man starring George C. Scott who was almost as big of an asshole in real life as Trump. That’s right, Scott was typecast in The Hustler and Patton.

Repeat after me: Every Flim-Flam Man needs a sucker.

Speaking of the Sahara, since the 1980’s seem to be in vogue right now, I’ll give the Police the last word:

 

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Electoral goats edition

Well, screw it.

I thought it would be funny to see the Freeperati’s take on the naked statue of The Darnold, and the snarky report from the NYC Parks Department on – um – erection policies.

As of last Friday morning, what did I find?

CricketsCan

 

Not a single chirp. I wonder if Jim Rob issued an edict to the mods – “If you let one single post about that filthy statue through, I’m canning you!” ?

Oh well.

(UPDATED!!!  Please scroll to the bottom for the official thread on The Darnold’s Dummy!)

In the meantime we always have  – those stupid Jews!

Byron York: Asking for black votes, a very different Donald Trump

How many times have Donald Trump’s supporters and critics debated whether he will pivot to a larger, more presidential candidacy? Too many to count. So put aside any talk of pivoting — the fact is, Trump delivered a focused, powerful, and disciplined speech Tuesday night in West Bend, Wisconsin, about 45 minutes north of Milwaukee. Trump focused largely on problems that disproportionately afflict black Americans, arguing that his proposals on crime, immigration, trade, jobs, education, and other issues will improve African-American lives more than Hillary Clinton’s.

Trump began by declaring, “We’re at a decisive moment in this election,” which few would deny, given Trump’s perilous position in the polls. Last week he laid out a jobs plan, Trump said, and on Monday he outlined a plan to defeat radical Islamic terrorism. Now, he came to discuss “how to make our communities safe again.”

Calling the recent riots in Milwaukee “an assault on the right of all citizens to live in security and live in peace,” Trump won applause with the declaration that “Law and order must be restored.”

“The main victims of these riots are law-abiding African-American citizens living in these neighborhoods,” Trump continued. “It’s their jobs, it’s their homes, it’s their schools and communities which will suffer the most as a result. There’s no compassion in tolerating lawless conduct for anyone.”Trump charged that Clinton and the Obama administration have pushed a “totally false” narrative of widespread police abuse across the United States. “The problem in our poorest communities is not that there are too many police,” Trump argued. “The problem is that there are not enough police.”

“Those peddling the narrative of cops as a racist force in our society — a narrative supported with a nod by my opponent — share directly in the responsibility…

1 posted on 8‎/‎17‎/‎2016‎ ‎6‎:‎26‎:‎01‎ ‎AM by RoosterRedux

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Journalism Isn’t Paying For Itself

DIGITAL FIRST PARADIGM SHIFTING notwithstanding, this is pretty typical: 

Conservatively, counting just the biggest chunks of staff time that went into it, the prison story cost roughly $350,000. The banner ads that appeared on the article brought in $5,000, give or take. Had we been really in your face with ads, we could have doubled or tripled that figure—but it would have been a pain for you, and still only a drop in the bucket for us.

I saw a lot of people quoting this passage in the past few days with “see, you lazy kids with your iPhones getting your news for free, see what it costs?” undertones, which a) not the real problem and b) not actually, you know, a contribution to the conversation.

Subscriptions never paid for journalism. “Readers” never paid for journalism. And advertisers didn’t pay for journalism, they paid for eyeballs and favorable almost-advertorial stories on real estate, automobiles and travel to places most newspaper readers would never see. Those sections, along with ads in sports, paid for journalism.

Or at least they did until this shit started: 

After a weak economy and higher newsgathering costs took their toll on newspaper profits last year, corporate executives could expect to see reductions in their compensation packages. But all in all, 2001 was quite lucrative for newspaper managers and other insiders.

During the first half of the year, many of them fattened their bank accounts by exercising options and selling stock even as layoffs and budget cutbacks were sweeping through the industry. Total insider selling from January through June was $146.5 million, more than twice the level of activity in the previous six months, according to a study for AJR by Thomson Financial/Lancer Analytics.

Needless acquisitions that loaded up newspaper companies with impossible debts, “diversifying” holdings with stupid shit like sports teams and TV stations, also contributed to the sucking of money out of the newsroom, while those same execs bitched in the trades that nobody younger than 40 read serious things anymore. I will listen to them telling me to pay for my news when they start doing it.

All digital advertising did was shoot the wounded. People getting news for free should have been a gift, because: people were getting news! People getting news for free should have been a magnificent boon to journalism, had media companies leveraged their vast new audiences correctly and tried to actually SELL ads rather than just put their news sites up and wait for the magical money faucet to turn on.

They spent a decade simultaneously chasing pipe dreams (A roll-up piece of digital paper! Apple’s working on one right now I hear!) and trashing their current and potential customers as trivial, celebrity-obsessed consumers of mental junk food. Almost nobody figured out that if you sell the junk food, you can pay for the journalism. Those who did figure that out were able to hire campaign reporters as well as fund watermelon-smashing videos.

So what we’re left with, after all that flailing, is the idea that journalism is some kind of vending machine, and you can only do serious investigations by using money directly paid to those investigations. Which is dishonest, ridiculous horseshit, ignorant of ancient and recent history. I’m not mad at Mother Jones here; they did their work and they’re bringing up valid issues. I’m mad at the journos who see those issues and yell SEE, SEE, YOU KIDS NEED TO PAY FOR YOUR FREE STUFF.

Not for nothing, but almost every major investigation a non-journo can name — Watergate, Spotlight, locally the Chicago Police torture cases — that predated the social Internet faced ENORMOUS pressure from inside the newsroom in terms of how much time it was taking and how much it thus cost. We have always struggled with these things.

It’s just that once upon a time we didn’t use the fact that it was hard as an excuse not to do anything, and crab at our customers to stick a dollar in the slot if they want a real story while we expense our party’s summer drinks.

A.

Nobody Gets to Go Back

For shit’s sake. From that piece Rosen links to up there: 

Trump’s trip to Louisiana will still likely be remembered as one of the smarter things he’s done during this campaign. But even in doing it, he and his campaign betrayed their tendency to use a heavy hand as a default.

A big reason Trump’s speech Thursday night in Charlotte worked so well was because it was more subtle and less controversial, while also maintaining some of the appeal that is uniquely Trump. He avoided controversy and projected a more humble, statesmanlike figure.

 

He projected. He WASN’T, of course, but we can’t come right out and say that, not if we want to still maintain the fiction that there are two parties both operating within the same general set of rules. He wasn’t a more humble, statesmanlike figure, but he managed to act like it for a while.

He seemed presidential. Which apparently is all it takes.

During the primaries I was yelling on Twitter at increasing levels of volume for someone, anyone, to name an actual policy difference between Donald Trump and any of the other Republican candidates. I’m not talking about semantic shit like “he says build a wall and all I say is deport everybody, and by the way I think some Muslims are okay.” I’m talking about an area in which another Republican candidate believed something fundamentally different about a major issue of the day. Gun control, abortion, military intervention, health care, anything. Strip off his stupid Muppet fur and make him read from notes, and how is he any worse than any of the rest?

If Marco Rubio was here right now we’d be dealing with the same nonsense in a shittier suit.

So spare me the idea that there is some way in which Donald Trump, having STARTED HIS CAMPAIGN CALLING MEXICAN IMMIGRANTS RAPISTS, can now read something from notes and we will react with this weepy relief that we don’t have to update the script. If Donald Trump, tomorrow, disavowed everything he ever said and submitted to some kind of Star Trek mindwipe, those who cover politics would still be under no obligation to indulge his desire for a clean slate.

He doesn’t get to go back, and neither do we. He doesn’t get to do one on-its-face non-shitty thing and all is forgiven, we can just forget that he doesn’t think libel laws are real stuff we need. That’s not how this works. If Hillary Clinton is going to be held accountable for every single bit of extramarital strange her husband dick-tripped into, then we should at the very least be able to keep in mind stuff Donald Trump said six months ago.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Blues Britannia

This week’s selection is a 2009 BBC documentary about Sixties British blues rock. It has  a swell full title, Blues Britannia: Can Blue Men Sing The Whites. It features some terrific talking heads: Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Mick Fleetwood, and Ian Anderson to name but a few.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Here Comes The Flood

NOAA info via the Advocate.

It’s been an exhausting few weeks in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Everyone I’ve heard from in the flood zone is okay but thousands of people are not. I’m proud that many of my friends are helping. We take care of our own here in Louisiana but we need all the help we can get. If you haven’t already done so please click on this link to see a few ways you can help. Your reward is a musical interlude from the Boss:

Springsteen mentions New Orleans in the song. Here’s how our brothers and sisters in Acadiana would put it: On prend soin des nôtres.

As you can see from the featured image,  a phenomenal amount of rain was dumped on the flood zone in a short period of time. Making matters worse, it sat there for days on end; longer than the chart indicates. This storm has been described as “like a hurricane in infancy” by the Gret Stet’s climatologist. It was an angry and bitter infant that left vast destruction in its path. It will take years for people to recover from the flood. The good news there are only 13 reported fatalities thus far BUT there will be deaths from natural causes related to the flood. Elderly people dropped like flies in post-K New Orleans. Let’s hope it’s not as bad this time around.

This week’s theme song is something of a no-brainer, which is a good thing since it’s so hot that one could fry an egg on top of my head if I were insane enough to spend an extended period outside. Here Comes The Flood debuted on Peter Gabriel’s first album after leaving Genesis. We have three versions: the original, a live solo rendition, and a version recorded with Robert Fripp in 2006. Btw, the King Crimson leader played on the first PG album and toured with him. I saw the Winterland show and Fripp sat on a stool in the shadows the entire time. Guitar heroes are rarely that shy.

This week’s edition is about keeping it snappy. Saying that makes me feel like I should don a zoot suit and snap some suspenders. Shorter Adrastos, we’re dispensing with the break and links to long-form articles.

and-now-for-something-completely-different-1

We begin with two pieces by Baton Rouge residents, one white, one black. They’re united in believing that the racial tensions that exploded before the Gret Stet flood of 2016 must be addressed:

Will The Great Flood Sink Baton Rouge Or Inspire Its Rebirth? by Robert Mann.

The Flood Brings Us Together. Let’s Not Forget The Divides by Raymond Jetson.

The Insult Comedian Cometh: Donald Trump and his Hoosier stooge Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire staged a photo-op in Baton Rouge Friday. The Governor urged them to stay away unless they planned to volunteer or donate but Trump knows bestYou gotta love John Bel Edwards, y’all. When Bobby Jindal was Governor, every crisis was about him, he lived for photo-ops. John Bel just wants to get shit done.

Trump has a rather checkered history with the Gret Stet of Louisiana. He made a big deal out of building Trump Tower, New Orleans to help the post-K recovery. I reminded him of this on Twitter:

The location of the never built “tower” is downtown at the corner of Poydras and Camp Streets. As an old friend and post-K blogger comrade in arms pointed out:

Now that we’ve mocked Donald Trump’s malakatude for the gazillionth time, let’s pay some nice people a virtual visit.

Video Clip Of The Week: I mentioned Gret Stet Governor John Bel Edwards’ appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show in an update to my Heckuva Job, Advocate post. Here it is:

Since they’re still “trying to wash us away,”let’s move on to an album that has one of the greatest songs ever written about the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

Saturday Classic:  The album is Good Old Boys by Randy Newman. The song is, of course, Louisiana 1927. There are two other Louisiana-centric tunes on the record: Kingfish and a cover of Huey Long’s theme song, Every Man A King.

It’s one of my all-time favorite albums; featuring the daring satire of Rednecks who still “don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground,” since they’re voting for Trump. The record packs quite a wallop some 42 years later.

That’s it for this week. Hopefully, it will dry out in Red Stick and elsewhere in South Louisiana fairly soon. If only the hot air emanating from Trump’s mouth could expedite matters. Speaking of Insult Comedians, our closing meme features one of the greatest  ever,  Jack E. Leonard:

Jack E meme

Friday Ferretblogging: Claire’s Gaining

Weight, that is.

I went to the vet this week expecting bad news: she’s been super-lazy, is blowing her summer coat early, and generally seemed pretty out of it the last few days. I thought for sure the meds weren’t working.

Turns out her blood sugar is back up to reasonable levels and she’s put on a couple of ounces! For an animal that at her fattest, fuzziest-caterpiller-est stage was 1.5 pounds, that’s a big gain.

Extra scritches for the mini-pet!

A.

Eleven

It’s an odd experience being face to face with a person you constantly called a shit-brained asshole and a greedy fuckwad behind closed doors. It’s even weirder when you are enjoying the moment.

When we were trying to buy our current house, we were in the middle of a major mess of balancing the whiny bullshit of our buyer with the stubborn refusals of our seller. This pulled us financially in both directions and it made for some really rough nights around the old homestead.

The guy who had the house we wanted refused to move on any of our demands, even those that were essentially issues of law. For example, we conducted a radon test, which makes sense given the limestone base out here and the depth of the basement. When the test came back at a higher-than-legal limit, we wrote into the final offer that they install a radon removal system.

He refused.

The same was true about the minor gas leak coming from the hot water heater, the mudjacking of unsafe concrete and the exterior venting of the bathroom exhaust fans.

It turned out, this wasn’t the guy or his wife, but rather his really shitty real-estate agent combined with our really weak one. Ours was a young woman with limited experience in the field and theirs was a end-of-the-road older guy who had no interest in selling and came from the time when calling women “sugar tits” was considered common office communication.

Eventually, it got ironed out and I was so grateful I’d never have to deal with these people again.

That is, until I found out they essentially moved two houses away. I kind of lost my mind and even when we got down to the final signing, I refused to sit in the room with them until after the paperwork was done.

What you learn about people during the time you review their home for purchase only tells you a small part of the story. The gun safe in the kitchen pantry, the “Terrorist hunting permit” on the refrigerator, the “bullet maker” in the basement and the locked upstairs office room all gave me pause. Then again, so did the IV unit hanging in the master bedroom.

What I found out later was that they were moving because their son, Jacob, had a rare form of cancer. The kid was about 5 or 6 years old and had been dealing with this all his life. Facebook updates on his progress were met by cheers when they went well and prayers when they did not. The sale of the house was in part for finances (they moved to a smaller, less expensive place) and part for physical reasons (they needed a single-story house as the steps were too much for the kid).

After the move, the dad and I would exchange waves as he drove past. Jacob and his folks occasionally showed up on our porch asking if we’d like to buy wreaths from his Boy Scout troop or a donation to a school program.

Eventually, he wound up in our driveway on one occasion when I was out fixing the car. He was wearing a Spider Man shirt and he had this incredible little smirky smile and thick, tinted Coke-Bottle glasses as he wondered if she’d like to come over and play for a while. There was about a three-year gap between them and she was still in the “boys are gross” stage, but she went.

She had a blast.

This led to a few play dates of the old-fashioned kind: She was bored and she went over and knocked on his door and asked if he’d like to play.

His mother later told me that whenever the doorbell rings, “Jacob prays that it’s her asking to play.”

About a month ago, she returned home with an invitation to his birthday party at the city pool.

Thus, I found myself face to face with his dad, talking about kids in a polite and civilized fashion I could never have previously imagined. Especially given the number of times I screamed that he must be a greed-based ass-fuck.

Apparently, being wrong is something I’ve gotten good at.

“So, is Jacob officially 8 yet?” I asked

“Oh yeah,” he said. “His birthday was a few months ago but we waited until now for the party because he wanted it at the pool. He made it.”

I’m not sure if he meant it the way I recalled it or if I’m reading too much into it, but of all the things said to me that day, his last words stuck in my head.

He made it.

As time continues to gather steam, pushing my child toward womanhood, I have found myself utterly resistant to these changes. My wife told me that the “tweens” are the worst, so I should be ready for two or three years of weird.

To this point, we’ve gotten it.

She vacillates between weeping and laughing, something my wife blames on hormonal changes.

Her friends talk about boy bands and lockers and so forth, as opposed to those days they argued about if iCarly was real.

I find it difficult sometimes doing the laundry, as I’m folding tiny bras into virtual pocket squares. Even more difficult is listening to the carpool chatter about which of the girls in their class is “the most flat-chested.” (Keep in mind that all of them are so poorly endowed, you could only measure cup size with a micrometer.)

Even the other day, as I was sleeping in my chair, she came down and woke me to let me know that I needed to go get some takeout for dinner.

“Mommy doesn’t feel well,” she said before putting on her “knowing” face and adding. “You know, Daddy, she’s on her… period.”

I’m sure that tiny pads and tampons will soon arrive in our house as will larger bras and a fixation with her hair. I’m a decent guy about all things like this, buying everything from tampons and Depends to nursing pads and whatever else the women in my life needed. Still, it’ll be harder knowing that she’s not my little girl any more.

And yet, it took that pool party for me to realize I shouldn’t be fighting this march of time but embracing it. The parents of this boy spent his whole life wondering if this would be the day their son’s life would end. I haven’t thought in those terms since the major ultrasound that let us know we hadn’t miscarried again.

He made it.

Three words that I’m sure they had to say over and over again.

Test after test.

Treatment after treatment.

Day after day.

He made it.

It never occurred to me once about when we should or shouldn’t hold my kid’s birthday party because she might not live long enough to get there. My biggest concerns are if the girls at school are bullying her or if one of the boys decides to take too big of an interest in her.

“She made it,” never once exited my lips with the same level of resolve and relief these people must have felt every day.

Every year around this time, I recall my kid’s life story: The miscarriage, the Ice Storm, the chaos surrounding her birth. After those opening lines, life is blur of birthday parties, Halloween costumes and summer vacations.

This year, for her 11th birthday, I’m putting more thought into valuing each and every day.

Maybe ice cream for dinner every so often. Maybe playing a game of cards with her more often when she asks. Maybe just telling her I love her an extra time or two.

As she continues to get older and has more of those life-altering questions that can’t be solved by a hug or a stuffed animal, I’ll also need to be ready to game up.

I don’t want to talk to my kid about sex any more than we already have or what to do when the movie “Mean Girls” basically becomes the living embodiment of her school. It’s hard enough to resist punching out some of the little twerps who pick on her now.

Each day can come with a new crisis, a deeper hurt or situation neither of us saw coming. I’m sure it will feel like we’re getting hit with a whole sack of hammers while falling down the stairs.

I try to think about Jacob as much as I can. I wonder how someone so small can deal with something so big on top of all the other garbage growing up throws at you.

But if he can find a way to make it, I’m sure we will too.

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