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Our lips are sealed

[ 88 ] February 25, 2017 |

Should ignorance about women’s bodies stop a man from inventing things to be used on women’s bodies? Of course. Does it? Pbbbfffft.

This time it isn’t a law. It’s U.S. Patent 9,539,077, brainfart of Daniel A. Dopps. (The document contains a few line drawings of what may be a woman’s genitals. Or maybe they’re contour maps of Minas Tirith. It’s hard to say.)

Method for alternatively resisting and permitting menstrual flow

Abstract

A method for controlling menstrual flow including sphincterally contracting and expanding labia minora having left and right labium minuses, such anatomical structures moving to a closed position upon each sphincteral contraction or to an opened position upon each sphincteral expansion; adhering and disjoining the labia minora, each adhesion securing the labia minora at the closed position, the disjunctions freeing the labia minora for opening movement; and resisting and permitting menstrual flow, the resistance occurring on sphincteral contraction and adhesion, and the permission occurring upon sphincteral expansion, each adhering step disposing a hydrophobic and bio-compatible adhesive selected from acrylic adhesives, polyisobutylene adhesives, and silicone adhesives, and each disposition step utilizing an applicator selected from brushes, swabs, rub-on sticks, roll-on applicators, pump sprayers, aerosol sprayers, squeeze tube applicators, bottle applicators, and finger applicators.

Yes, it is exactly as appalling as it sounds. This weird and very stupid person has some very wrong ideas women’s bodies. He thinks women can flap their labia minora open and shut, that labium minuses is an actual term and that women should reward him for his ignorance.

Mensez feminine lipstick is a natural patented compound of amino acids and oil in a lipstick applicator that is applied to the labia minora and causes them to cling together in a manner strong enough to retain menstrual fluid in the vestibule above the labia minora where the vaginal opening and urethra exit.

Mensez, for the woman who likes to have her body mansplained to her.

The Mensez compound is instantly washed away with urine, which releases the menstrual fluid along with the urine into the toilet every time a woman urinates. No pads or tampons are needed. Safe, secure and clean.

I am reminded of a joke a friend told during a slumber party when I was in 5th grade. It involved the human penis. In the joke human penises had bones in them. We thought it was the funniest thing we had ever heard until our hostess’ mother burst in and told us penises don’t have bones in them and to stop being silly. Then that became the funniest thing we had ever heard. However, Dopp, an adult person who has medical training, is more ignorant about female anatomy than a bunch of 5th grade girls were about male anatomy. Where’s my friend’s mom when you need her?

“It will be thoroughly tested and improved,” adding that “It makes more sense than putting the plug up there,” and that “we’re using the vagina like a bladder just like tampons do.”

I’m beginning to get an idea of where his fascination with glue comes from. As the article notes, that’s not how this works. Any of it.

And of course he’s a raging (unglued) asshole.

Several women have suggested that Dopps is a misogynist, and that a man shouldn’t make products for women without firsthand knowledge of female anatomy.

He easily corroborated this charge in a response to one visitor’s comment on the Mensez Facebook page, in which he explained that “[Y]ou as a woman should have come up with a better solution than diapers and plugs

Diapers.

but you didn’t. Reason being women are focused on and distracted by your period 25% of the time, making them far less productive than they could be. Women tend to be far more creative than men, but their periods that [sic] stifle them and play with their heads.”

Periods make the ladies crazy and useless so it is up to Dr. Dipp to use his superior, uncluttered by menstrual cycles boy-brain to help us out. His invention won’t stop or shorten the duration of a period, but somehow smearing a hypothetical blood-sweat-lubricant-but-not-urine-proof glue on our nether bits will unstifle us. Perhaps the irritation would inspire us to create a utopia where people like Dopps are allowed – after careful training and under close supervision – to clean out the filters at a sewage/energy conversion plant.

After three years he’d be given a brush.

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The Gorka Dissertation, Part II

[ 40 ] February 25, 2017 |

I

JDCIn my prior post, I tried to make clear that you don’t need to get very far—less than twenty pages, in fact—into Gorka’s dissertation to recognize its academic shoddiness. Something like 7% of it is a cut-and-paste job from an earlier article. In of itself, that’s not a problem. But the article came out 3-4 years before the dissertation, and Gorka couldn’t be bothered to change the text or update the data to reflect that gap. The first twenty pages also reveal a pattern that persists throughout the entire thesis: Gorka is not big on citations, especially scholarly ones. Moreover, the citation practices are, shall we say, lax. For example, here’s footnote 10:

The sarin gas attack executed on the Tokyo metro by Aum in 1995 was in fact preceded by several unsuccessful biological agent attacks prepared by the private laboratories the cult had established with millions of dollars of its funds. For a journalistic account of the history of the cult see David E. Kaplan and Andrew Marshal: “The Cult at the End of the World”, Arrow Books, London, 1996. For a scholarly and detailed analysis see the relevant section in Richard A. Falkenrath, Robert D. Newman and Bradley A. Thayer: “America’s Achilles’ Heel: nuclear, biological, and chemical terrorism and covert attack”, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1998 [emphasis added]

In fact the discussion of Aum Shinrykio appears to be spread over multiple chapters. Along these lines, footnote 20 reads “CNN even showed footage of al Qaeda experimentation that involved the gassing of dogs.” That’s it. In fact, getting an appropriate citation isn’t that much of a challenge. But, at least, a reader can be thankful that he provides references at all. The section called “The New International Scene” runs from pages 19-23. It contains myriad empirical claims—such as the countries within which Al Qaeda had affiliates in 2001—and analytical ones—that Al Qaeda launched 9/11 against the United States to divide it from its allies,  or that “the Arab and Muslim world still has a perturbed relationship to the question of modernity” (21)—none of which are sourced in any manner. The only such reference, involving the number of CIA officers who spoke Pashto on September 11, is to “author’s discussion with Marine Colonel who had served in Afghanistan as a covert paramilitary operator within the CIA, Summer 2004” (2007, 22 fn18).

I stress this lack of citations not merely because it amounts to poor scholarly practice—if anything, the typical dissertation suffers from too many citations—but also because it reflects the bloviating tone that runs throughout. The lack of references creates the impression that Gorka is passing off every insight—from the shopworn, the clichéd, and the banal to the unoriginal but tendentious—as his own.

Some examples:

Here it may be too early to prove the existence of a large-scale trend, but with the second and successful attempt against the World Trade Centre (WTC), – following the earlier truck-bomb attempt in 1993 – al Qaeda at least, has demonstrated a determination to attack highly symbolic targets. This author believes the logic behind this tactic is clear. Terrorism is, like guerrilla warfare, always the tool of choice of weaker actors that cannot win a stand- up fight against their nation state adversary. As a result they will rarely, if ever, be in a position to exact lethal damage to the vital interests or functioning of the state they have pitted themselves against. This is why fear has to be the overarching goal, a fear which can be directed as a tool in applying greater and greater political pressure upon the targeted authorities until policies are changed. In this inculcation of fear, the attack of universally recognisable symbols – such as the Pentagon and WTC – is invaluable, especially in this age of live, global cable and satellite news services. Thanks to the likes of CNN, NBC, BBC, etc., Osama bin Laden was able to send his message of fear to as wide an audience at possible in the fastest time imaginable. Add to this last element of media exploitation, the recent rise of media outlets which challenge the ‘white man’s’ news monopoly, e.g. Al-Arabiya and al Jazeera Television, and we now have channels which in fact may be favourable to the terrorist and act as a force-multiplier in the globalisation of his message (2007, 18).

It is interesting to note that despite the beacon-like example that modern Turkey represents, here too there have been significant developments recently toward a revitalisation of a national identity that relies far more on religion than would otherwise even have been imaginable during recent decades. This resurgence can in part ironically be explained by the negative way in which the European Union has delayed talk of Turkish EU membership (2007, 22 fn17).

Globalisation as a process is not new. Many an ancient empire can be seen as a form of (limited) globalisation. Even so, the fact that globalisation is now occurring in an environment of interconnected market economies and the spread of one specific model of nation-state structuring, namely market democracy, means that an actor wishing to exploit the inherent weaknesses of the democratic model, such as a the religious terrorist, has a broader environment in which to operate. Additionally the attitude of many people nominally belonging to the faith community of Muslim fundamentalism may be swayed by interpretations of the current trends to globalisation that exacerbate the centuries old question of Islam’s relations to modernity and the West. Lastly, the fact that the pre-eminent exponent of globalised terrorism at this time has chosen to restrict his actions very much to attacks aimed against just a handful of Western nations (UK, US, Spain) results in the fact that existing alliance frameworks may be severely weakened by differing assessments as to whom has most to fear from “Transcendental Terror”. Within the previously united western world there is now no agreement on whether or not this is a significant new threat that applies to all of us. In part, the problem is that man has a propensity to judge others based upon himself. As a result it is very difficult to believe in, let alone comprehend, an adversary who thinks in a fashion so contrary to our own. We tend to posit our rationality, even our morality, onto the other. Additionally, many of America’s European allies are more inclined to resolve dispute and potential conflict through diplomatic and political means, rather than through the use of force (2007, 24).

The basics needs of a human being are quite easy to identify: shelter, sustenance and community. The importance of the first two is also simple to explain. As a biological entity, without protection from the elements and food and water, we will not function and quickly die. The relevance of the third requirement is superficially obvious, but on closer examination more complex. There are, of course, the economies of scale that come from living in a cooperative group. As our ancestors who did not have the use of firearms well knew, it is quite difficult to hunt and kill a large animal by oneself. Likewise to fish the seas in an efficient fashion or even to build a sizeable home is a faster and easier a task when done in the company of others. But there are also the psychological and societal benefits of not living the life of a hermit or recluse. Man craves friendship and companionship and finds fulfilment in living within community. If this were not the case, given all the benefits of technology, we could in fact choose to live in total isolation from one another today, but we do not. Then there is the more practical profit that accrues with regard to safety in numbers.

It has been said more than enough times that the history of Mankind is the history of conflict. Respect for one’s territory, one’s chattels and even one’s right to life was never a given. There have always been, and will always be, those that threaten our very existence or livelihood. As a result, the need to be able to defend oneself and one’s family has always been apparent. Such defence is easier when done in numbers than individually or just by family unit. In modern terms, this is the function of providing security (2007, 27).

This last bit of banality opens a section entitled “The Evolution of National Security.” Gorka presents one of the diagrams for which, if nothing else, he deserves all the credit due to him.

It-hurts

Gorka (2007, 28) did not think this through.

In conventional language, shifts in scale from “micro” to “macro” are shifts in size: smaller to larger. As best I can tell, Gorka is trying to tell a temporal story here: the evolution of security is a story about the increasing scale of the object that needs to be secured. The result is a mess. As he writes:

It is not the purpose of this dissertation to provide a lengthy discussion of this evolution, to enumerate the dates when one macro level gave way to another.  In gross terms we can speak, however, of a chain of security being tied first to the tribe or clan, then to a village and, or, religious community, and further to the local landowner unit, followed by a kingdom or empire, or a city-state until we arrive at the modern object of macro-security, the nation-state’ (Gorka 2007, 28).

There are a bunch of problems with this, but the most obvious goes something like this.

Here is the Neo-Assyrian Empire:

640px-Map_of_Assyria

Here are some empires in around 750 AD:

height_of_omayyad_caliphate_cropped

Over the past three millennia, there have been many empires that are much larger in scale than national-states. Indeed, empires—along with federative and confederative polities—constitute some of the most time-honored ways of organizing large, heterogeneous political communities. It makes no sense to call “nation states” a more “macro” stage in security evolution than these forms.

Regardless, Gorka next briefly discusses Philip Bobbitt’s The Shield of Achilles—for just long enough to tell us that “while there is much to commend the work… it does have its distinct flaws, flaws that it shares with a majority of recent treatise that have proclaimed the death of the nation-state, somewhat prematurely” (2007, 30). This allows him to open his next section (“The Westphalian Inheritance”) with a paragraph that gives me hives.

It is often far too easy to take for granted the system of governance and administration in which we today live. If one does not professionally study modern history or the evolution of international law, one could be forgiven for thinking that the current system of independent nation-states has existed for much longer than it has in fact existed. The truth is that as a concept we can describe its evolution as being quite recent in historic terms. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 is taken by most commentators as introducing the foundations for the creation in the West of a system in which the objects were states, bodies that were independent of each others – although which could ally with one another – and into whose internal affairs it was not allowed to become involved, a system in which sovereignty would eventually become paramount26. Later, as this concept evolved and as the individual allegiances of the people would shift from local landowner or royal house, to a professional political elite defined around a national identity, the state would evolve further into the nation-state, with is fundamental aspects of citizenship and nationality.

26In fact it was the sacrosanct nature of sovereignty that would later lie behind the creation of the ‘balance-of-power’ system that would be so important to Europe in following centuries.

Again, no sources. None. Zero. And while “most commentators” may have once believed this, it’s wrong. Westphalia had nothing to do with the foundations of the state system. At least if Gorka had been troubled to cite some of the (very smart) people who argue that it did—even if erroneously—he would come across as less of a pretentious blowhard. The footnote is just the icing on the cake. The balance-of-power system did not render sovereign sacrosanct, because it was premised on moving territory around to maintain the balance of power. The inhabitants of what would later be called “Belgium” certainly did not appreciate being placed under the rule of the United Netherlands for the sake of blocking future French expansion.

All of this amounts to a belabored way of making a rather simple argument: almost all states are organized to defend themselves against military aggression, to police their territory, to engage in espionage, and to protect themselves against espionage. Moreover, Gorka contends, the western allies oriented those capabilities against the Soviet Union and its clients. With the end of the Cold War, things are so much more complex and uncertain, what with the cyber, and the environment, and the terrorism. Add a few footnotes, and we’d have pretty much all we need to move forward.

Thus Gorka returns us to terrorism. Or, more accurately, he summarizes a very few sources to tell us nothing original about conceptual issues related to the study of terrorism. But he does supply us with this wonder of a passage: “One more avenue that takes us out of the abstraction of mere words is a pictographic representation of the mechanics of terrorism. By resorting to a Venn diagram-like approach, it may be easier to understand the dynamics at work between the various subjects and objects of political violence [emphasis added].”

A Venn Diagram-Like Approach (Gorka 2007. 47)

A Venn Diagram-Like Diagram

Now, to the uninitiated, this may look merely like a simple flow chart. So I’ve created a diagram to help make sense of it:

WTF

Locating Venn Diagram-Like Diagrams: a Venn Diagram

 

That’s the end of Part II. I still haven’t gotten to the ‘good stuff’. 150 or so pages to go.

And Now, We Can Move Onto Elections Involving Real Power

[ 484 ] February 25, 2017 |

Tom Perez, an excellent Labor Secretary and head of the Civil Rights Division from the left of the party, will be DNC Chair. Keith Ellison, an excellent and influential member of the House from the left of the party, will be Deputy Chair, and as a bonus will get to remain in Congress. This is good, and is an illustration of the extent to which the party has moved to the left over the past 20 years. Of course, Ellison as Chair would also have been an excellent outcome. Either way, ignoring people who wanted to use a contest for a procedural position as a means of re-litigating the primaries and hence had a felt need to smear the candidate they believed to be a Hillary/Bernie proxy is sound practice.

…and they say Wikileaks never breaks important news!

Wait until the emails revealing that Bernie Sanders secretly supported Hillary Clinton for president are revealed!

Sebastian Gorka’s Dissertation, Part I

[ 81 ] February 25, 2017 |
Seriously

This is real. This is an actual diagram from Gorka’s (2007, 166) dissertation. I will discuss it in a later post.

We should exercise caution when evaluating dissertations. Dissertations are not works of scientific perfection. I finished mine in a marathon month, as I was pushing the deadline for retaining my position at Georgetown. Even the substantially revised book that emerged from contains a handful of truly embarrassing historical errors. In other words, I think it would be grossly unfair to reduce Gorka to his dissertation, or to use it as evidence that he is unqualified for his position. Moreover, I concentrated in the study of international security. I know a bit about the intersection between great-power politics and transnational religious movements. Still, I am not a terrorism expert. I am certainly not an expert on Islam. And I am far from an expert on Islamic terrorism.

Nonetheless, I did read the dissertation last night. Members of the Lawyers, Guns and Money community have asked for my opinion. I would not characterize it as a work of scholarship. I am confident that it would not earn him a doctorate at any reputable academic department in the United States. Indeed, it would be unacceptable as an undergraduate thesis for the Department of Government or the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. My guess is that Gorka wanted to call himself “Doctor,” and his PhD-granting institution was happy to oblige.

Despite its overwrought title and often ponderous prose, the dissertation starts with a rather straightforward claim. There are two “sub-divisions of terrorist, the Rational and and Pragmatic and the Irrational, or Transcendental Terrorist.” The former seek a “fundamentally feasible and realistic goal”—such as national independence or autonomy—and hence “there is the possibility for a political or diplomatic solution to the root grievance.” The latter, however, “has as his end goal the realisation of a state-of-affairs that is not obviously feasible or realistic and which is completely antithetic to the opposing government. There is no possibility for a political resolution or even negotiations” (2007, 12).

In November 2007, when Gorka finished his dissertation, this was already a well-established line of argument. Scholars were debating the degree that the latter characterization applied to movements such as Al Qaeda, and bringing multifaceted evidence to bear on the subject.Thus, there was certainly room for an intervention that moved the ball forward. But that would require a dissertation with discipline and focus. This is not such a dissertation.

That becomes clear on the next page, where Gorka (2007, 13) introduces four hypotheses and ways that he will validate those hypotheses. They are:

1. Irrational terrorist actors have become more numerous since the cessation of the Cold War
2. Governments are sorely limited in the selection of tools that can be used in the face of such actors
3. The Irrational or Transcendentally informed terrorist represents a wholly different category of threat, since due to the fact that he is completely uninterested in political resolution, he can justify the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
4. Osama bin Laden typifies the new threat and poses a challenge which we cannot adequately deal with given existing Westphalian state structures and national security divisions of labour.

The evidence comes from:

a) How national security has evolved as a function of the modern nation- state.
b) What the difference is between the geostrategic environments of the Cold War and the post-September 11th 2001 state-of-affairs.
c) Who Osama bin Laden is and how novel an organisation al Qaeda is and,
d) What should be done to reform Westphalian security architectures so as to make them applicable to the new threat environment that has been shaped by the rise of the Irrational/Transcendental Actor and the globalisation of security.

If you wonder how Gorka can accomplish these tasks in 240 pages, the answer is that he can’t. He makes little effort to consider alternative explanations, use anything resembling a proper methodology, adequately source key claims, cite or take seriously more than a smattering of scholarly works, or even sufficiently develop lines of thought. Parts of the dissertation come across as filler. Perhaps they are. Toward the end of the piece, he dumps about eight pages of “potential theories or doctrines that have been penned in an attempt to make the current strategic environment more understandable” (page 167ff). He also used the same text in a September 2007 co-authored survey for the Council on Emerging National Security Affairs (CENA), which is no longer online.

Regardless, the bulk of the dissertation summary—its first part—consists of boilerplate within the realm of conventional wisdom. Gorka argues that the end of the Cold War made the international security environment more complex and the identification of the proper hierarchy of threats more challenging (2007,  7-8), he offers a fairly standard definition of terrorism (sourced exclusively to “discussions” with “Dr. Jenkins“) and defends restricting the term “terrorist” to non-state actors (2007, 11).

The introduction continues apace. He writes that “there has been a resurgence in terrorism that is not purely political in nature” and that the Aum Shinrykio 1995 gas attacks, along with Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks, “together… describe a proto-trend that is supported by quantitative statistics pertaining to terror attacks in the last decade” (2007, 15-16). The only such statistics offered appear in Appendix I, which uses US Department of State data for 1993-2003. This obviously does not cover the “last decade”—recall that the dissertation was deposited in 2007. The data boils down to a rather crude average of number of death per attack.

Why does the”last decade” ends with 2003? The relevant sections are—as best I can tell—recycled from a paper Gorka first wrote in 2003, and come from what I think is a 2004 version. Regardless, this is a good example of how shoddy the scholarship is. Gorka wants to claim that there’s something radically different about contemporary terrorism from that of, say, the classic terrorism of the 1970s. So he needs to extend the data back well beyond 1993. That is, we need to actually compare the different waves. It would also require some basic statistical work that looks at regions and countries, the effects of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, how much the average is driven by outliers, and that kind of thing. It’s hard not to read this section and hear Gorka insisting on “empirical evidence” in his phone call to Smith.

I’m only about 17 pages in, and there’s a lot more to talk about, including some parts that seem relevant to Gorka’s worldview. Stay tuned for Part II.

A warning, though: working through it this way is quite a slog, and I’m not sure that I have the energy to blog the whole way through.

If History Has Taught Us Anything, It’s That Clinton Scandals Proceed Based Only On Objective Evidence of Serious Misconduct

[ 186 ] February 25, 2017 |

clinton benghazi

I decided to invest some time in Keith Gessen’s widely discussed Putin essay, some of which is useful and some of which is strawman burning (who, exactly, thinks that deploying ratfucking principles Don Segretti had probably mastered before he left elementary school makes Vladimir Putin some kind of omnipotent SUPERGENIUS?) But it’s hard for me to get beyond the argument boldfaced below, and I’m equally amazed to see other people parroting it:

There is no reason at this point to dispute the consensus view of most intelligence analysts that Russian agents hacked the DNC and then leaked the emails to Julian Assange; it is also a well-known fact that Putin hated Hillary Clinton.

Furthermore, it is true that the election was very close, and it did not take much to tip the result to one side. But it is also essential to remember that there was hardly anything damaging in the leaked DNC emails.

It is true that the Wikileaks DNC leaks revealed nothing remotely resembling substantial misconduct by Hillary Clinton and indeed nothing even of much interest to anyone with a basic familiarity with how politics works. (It is amusing to see Gessen’s essay getting such high praise from people who tried to hype up inane trivia from the DNC leaks as if they had just uncovered Watergate, but moving right along.) But what is genuinely astounding is that anyone could argue at this late date that if a Clinton scandal ultimately didn’t have any real content it therefore couldn’t have been politically damaging.

In the next graf, Gessen adduces “the 25-year rightwing war on the Clintons” as a variable that affected the election, and true enough although I think this common formulation obscures the role that mainstream media outlets (with the New York Times at the front of the line) have played in this. But, to state the obvious, from Whitewater to EMAILS! “scandals” that turn out to consist of nothing have always been the chief weapons deployed in this war. Trump knew what he was doing when he mentioned the leaks constantly — whether there was anything objectively important revealed by them is completely beside the point. After all, Gessen recognizes the importance of the Comey letter, but this also involved no actual information about a microscandal nobody would have cared about if it involved anybody but Hillary Clinton.

It’s impossible to know with any precision what role the DNC hacks played in the outcome of the election. I’m more inclined to focus on Comey because the nature of his interventions make it easier to isolate the effects, and the evidence that they changed the outcome of the election is overwhelming. But the Comey letter didn’t occur in a vacuum; it mattered because a deep foundation of EMAILS! hysteria had already been laid, and the Wikileaks drip helped keep the Jason Chaffetz’s party going — and, indeed, I’m sure many voters just conflated the DNC leaks with the general EMAILS! pseudo-scandal. It would be wrong to blame Russia and Russia alone for Trump winning, although I don’t know who’s doing that. (Gessen cites but does not link to a “report” attributing this view to “Clinton and her campaign”; I’ll believe it when I actually see it.) But to assert that because the DNC leaks were ultimately about nothing they couldn’t have hurt Clinton’s campaign couldn’t possibly be more wrong.

Their chief weapons are surprise, jeers and an almost fanatical devotion to clowning on tRump

[ 73 ] February 25, 2017 |

There are many ways to resist Republicans, but I have an especial fondness for jokes and anything that makes them look as stupid as they are. Getting CPAC attendees to wave TRUMP emblazoned Russian flags earns a 10/10.

Jason Charter, 22, and Ryan Clayton, 36, passed out roughly 1,000 red, white, and blue flags, each bearing a gold-emblazoned “TRUMP” in the center, to an auditorium full of attendees waiting for President Trump to address the conference. Audience members waved the pennants—and took pictures with them—until CPAC staffers realized the trick: They were Russian flags.

The stunt made waves on social media, as journalists covering CPAC noticed the scramble to confiscate the insignia.

Funny, a little gutsy and harmless unless which one counts damage the the right wing ego, which one should not. In addition, the fact that the gag was carried out by two people who fit the neo-con profile for Normal and Safe shows that infiltration by members of the tribe, even when it is short-lived, is another valuable form of resistance.

The white supremacists’ hatred of what they call the race traitor stems from their cowardice. How can the Brave White Warrior imagine himself defending Chirsto-Western Values against the Tides of Globalist Funded Darkness (or whatever rhetorical pud pulling they’re into this week) unless he’s certain every other white person will be fighting on the same side as, and preferably in front of, him?

Just as importantly, how can he feel happy and secure unless he’s absolutely certain that everyone who looks Normal and Safe won’t make him feel awkward by disagreeing when he whines about the blahs, the quahs, the jahs and feminazi wahs who are ruining everything with their P.C.?

And in this case – how can the organizers and attendees of other neo-con cons be absolutely certain that every other attendee is on their side and not up to something that is intended to make them look and feel dumb? The answer of course is they can’t. But I hope they try. Maybe guys who wear glasses, blue t-shirts and/or maroon polos will be banned. At least until they come up with a design for the mandatory tattoo.

Or maybe they’ll just stick to what they know and take out their angst on anyone in the vicinity who doesn’t fit the Normal/Safe profile.

If familiarity breeds contempt then a lack of familiarity must breed respect

[ 109 ] February 24, 2017 |

Members of the latest iteration of the Republican Party are less able to cope with criticism than their predecessors. Hilarity ensues.

For example, here’s Breitbartian and Bannon protege Sebastian Gorka invoking the If familiarity breeds contempt then a lack of familiarity must breed respect clause, which is regularly used by grade school students and annoying people on Twitter when someone says mean things about them.

A White House adviser made an angry phone call and threatened a lawsuit over a critic’s tweets about him, Newsweek reported Thursday.

The Newsweek story includes a recording of the lengthy phone call Gorka made after counterterrorism expert Michael S. Smith II questioned Gorka’s qualifications to be a national security adviser.

Gorka, whose experience and views on Islam have come under recent fire, phoned Smith Tuesday, asking to know “why this vitriol” was coming from him.

Just because he worked for a POS like Blightshart, is pals with white nationalists and his vanity and incompetent boobery poses a risk to the citizens of America is no reason for people to be rude.

Gorka repeatedly expressed confusion as to why Smith would attack him, emphasizing the fact that they have never met in person.

Y U talking about me? U don’t evn no me! #Wah :-(

“I look at your Twitter feed once or twice a day, and it’s half a dozen tweets about me, and I’ve never even met you,” Gorka said.

“Wow, are you defeating jihad by monitoring or trolling my Twitter feed?” Smith shot back.

lol

“Gorka asserted my tweets about him merited examination by the White House legal counsel,” Smith told Newsweek.

Ooga booga! Maybe lawyers will look at your Tweets about me! And then. You’ll. Be sorry. Or something.

Smith appears to be unimpressed and enjoying himself at the expense of Gorka and his defenders.

There Is A New McCarthyism in the United States. It Has Nothing To Do With Vladimir Putin. (Except Insofar as Putin Helped to Put the McCarthyists in Office.)

[ 399 ] February 24, 2017 |

mccarthy

Based on this thread, there seems to be some confusion about what McCarthyism is. McCarthyism was a state-led campaign to suppress speech (with some private collaborators), based on conspiracy claims that were mostly exaggerated or false. There is most certainly an analogy to this happening in the United States right now:

Since the election of President Trump, Republican lawmakers in at least 18 states have introduced or voted on legislation to curb mass protests in what civil liberties experts are calling “an attack on protest rights throughout the states.”

From Virginia to Washington state, legislators have introduced bills that would increase punishments for blocking highways, ban the use of masks during protests, indemnify drivers who strike protesters with their cars and, in at least once case, seize the assets of people involved in protests that later turn violent. The proposals come after a string of mass protest movements in the past few years, covering everything from police shootings of unarmed black men to the Dakota Access Pipeline to the inauguration of Trump.

Some are introducing bills because they say they’re necessary to counter the actions of “paid” or “professional” protesters who set out to intimidate or disrupt, a common accusation that experts agree is largely overstated. “You now have a situation where you have full-time, quasi-professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder,” said Republican state senator John Kavanagh of Arizona in support of a measure there that would bring racketeering charges against some protesters.

No analogy is perfect, but this is a lot like McCarthyism. What is not even remotely like McCarthyism is this:

But I do want to draw attention to an outstanding article in today’s Guardian by the Russian-born American journalist Keith Gessen, in which he clinically examines — and demolishes — all of the hysterical, ignorant, fearmongering, manipulative claims now predominant in U.S. discourse about Russia, Putin, and the Kremlin.

The article begins: “Vladimir Putin, you may have noticed, is everywhere.” As a result, he points out, “Putinology” — which he defines as “the production of commentary and analysis about Putin and his motivations, based on necessarily partial, incomplete and sometimes entirely false information” — is now in great prominence even though it “has existed as a distinct intellectual industry for over a decade.” In sum, he writes: “At no time in history have more people with less knowledge, and greater outrage, opined on the subject of Russia’s president.”

It’s hardly unique for American media and political commentators to speak of foreign adversaries with a mix of ignorance and paranoia. But the role Putin serves above all else, he says, is to cast America’s problems not as its own doing but rather the fault of foreigners, and more importantly, to relieve the Democratic Party of the need to examine its own fundamental flaws and errors…

I’m sure some claims about Putin have been exaggerated. But the possibility that the Russian state intervened in the American election is hardly without basis, like McCarthy’s “list” of Communists in the State Department. But the real problem here is that there’s no suppression of speech here. The alleged harm is not “talking about Putin is causing people to be repressed,” but “people aren’t talking enough about how Hillary Clinton sucks.” The idea that this is an any way analogous to McCarthyism is utterly absurd. And, of course, the idea that the result of the 2016 election has only One True Cause, and it’s imperative to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ the very likely decisive role of the FBI, America’s broken electoral system, and the likely role of the Russian state is transparently wrong even leaving aside the fact that it’s not even slightly analogous to McCarthyism.

And this is the dark irony here — people who worked hard to minimize the threat of Trump ex ante and think the most urgent task of American political discourse ex post is to attack someone who will never be a presidential candidate again are inveighing against an imaginary “McCarthyism” while Trump’s Republican Party is doing the real thing. I’m afraid I’m going to have to give this order to discuss one thing and one thing only about the 2016 election a hard pass yet again.

The Further Adventures of Paul Ryan, Serious Policy Wonk of Great Seriousity

[ 123 ] February 24, 2017 |

ryan is a working man

One of the most ludicrous frauds in American politics is Paul Ryan’s ability to convert exactly one note — a Cliff’s Notes version of John Galt’s courtroom speech, with Special Guest Appearances at soup kitchens to make his rapacious support for upward wealth distribution to look like concern for the poor people whose lives his political career is devoted to making worse — into a reputation is a serious policy wonk. But his attempt to defend his we’ll-have-a-plan-soon to strip health care from millions of people is making him look especially ridiculous:

Having the freedom to “buy what you want” sounds good! Only in the context of health care, it’s a disaster for the non-affluent. Many people cannot afford basic health care services, and the vast majority of people cannot afford care for an unexpected major illness. Giving rich and poor people alike the “freedom” to purchase as much health care as they think they need is a cruel joke, not a serious health care policy. And it’s worse than that; people cannot, in fact, reliably predict how much health care they might “need” in the future, which is why insurance is necessary for practical access to health care in the first place.

Ryan is also attacking the regulations that require insurance—both employer-provided and purchased on exchanges—to meet minimum coverage requirements. But this is not “freedom” of any value.  Regulations that protect customers from junk insurance reduce their “freedom” in the sense that FDA regulations take away people’s “freedom” to buy beef laced with strychnine. It’s true that under the ACA young and healthy people pay more for insurance than they would under a “free market” in health care, but this is how insurance works: You pay more now so you can afford insurance later. Objecting to the ACA because the young and healthy pay more than they otherwise would is like saying its unjust to pay taxes to support the fire department when your house hasn’t burned down.

While it would be very wrong to be complacent, at least it’s looking more and more likely that Ryan won’t be able to pull ACA repeal off. That members of Congress who actually believe this abject nonsense about the value of the freedom to be bankrupted by and perhaps to be killed by preventable illnesses might be responsible for saving the ACA would be like a black fly in your Chardonnay, but we also have to credit the many members of the public who have stood up to Ryan’s war on access to health care.

Nick Kristof Didn’t Get My Memo

[ 201 ] February 24, 2017 |
Portrait of me, vacuumslayer

Portrait of me, vacuumslayer

Because here’s article number *mumble mumble mumble thousand mumble testicles* imploring us to cut Trumpkins some slack. For the last time…no.

Friday Links

[ 126 ] February 24, 2017 |
Warren Zevon 1978 press photo.jpg

Some Guy.

We open with a Letter to the Editor:

You have stolen a fantastic song by the brilliant Warren Zevon and turned it into a confusing political nonsensical rant.  Worse, you don’t even acknowledge Zevon or his inspiration H.S. Thompson.

Hunter and Zev will long be remembered by their artistic genius.   You, on the other hand,  will go down in history for vulgar plagiarism, or more likely,  be forgotten altogether.

Moving on…

 

4chan and Trump

[ 399 ] February 24, 2017 |

I know next to nothing about the subcultures explored in this essay, and therefore can’t vouch for its accuracy,  but it’s a fascinating read.

On Gamergate:

Again, here we can understand this group as people who have failed at the real world and have checked out of it and into the fantasy worlds of internet forums and video games. These are men without jobs, without prospects, and by extension (so they declaimed) without girlfriends. Their only recourse, the only place they feel effective, is the safe, perfectly cultivated worlds of the games they enter. By consequence of their defeat, the distant, abstract concept of women in the flesh makes them feel humiliated and rejected. Yet, in the one space they feel they can escape the realities of this, the world of the video game, here (to them, it seems) women want to assert their presence and power.

If this sounds hard to believe, take for example Milo Yiannopoulos, the “Technology Editor” at Breitbart News, whose scheduled lecture this month at Berkeley spawned massive riots and protests. Yiannopoulos rose to prominence via Gamergate. He is not a “technology” editor because he compares the chip architectures of competing graphics cards. Rather the “tech” here is code for the fact that his audience is the vast population of sad young men who have retreated to internet communities. Likewise the mainstream press sometimes describes him as troll as a way of capturing his vague association with 4chan. This term, too, is inaccurate. He is 4chan at its most earnest, after all these men have finally discovered their issue — the thing that unites them — their failure and powerlessness literally embodied (to them) by women.

Yiannopoulos’ rambling “arguments” against feminism, are not arguments at all, as much as pep talks, ways of making these dis-empowered men feel empowered by discarding the symbol of their failure — women. As an openly gay man, he argues that men no longer need be interested in women, that they can and should walk away from the female sex en masse. For example in a long incoherent set of bullet points on feminism he states:

The rise of feminism has fatally coincided with the rise of video games, internet porn, and, sometime in the near future, sex robots. With all these options available, and the growing perils of real-world relationships, men are simply walking away.

Here Yiannopoulos has inverted what has actually happened to make his audience feel good. Men who have retreated to video games and internet porn can now characterize their helpless flight as an empowered conscious choice to reject women for something else. In other words, it justifies a lifestyle which in their hearts they previously regarded helplessly as a mark of shame.

On Trump as Pepe the Frog:

We know, by this point, that Trump is funny. Even to us leftists, horrified by his every move, he is hilarious. Someone who is all brash confidence and then outrageously incompetent at everything he does is — from an objective standpoint — comedy gold. Someone who accuses his enemies of the faults he at that very moment is portraying is comedy gold. But, strangely, as the left realized after the election, pointing out Trump was a joke was not helpful. In fact, Trump’s farcical nature didn’t seem to be a liability, rather, to his supporters, it was an asset.

All the left’s mockery of Trump served to reinforce his message as not only an outsider, but as an expression of rage, despair, and ultimate pathetic Pepe-style hopelessness.

4chan’s value system, like Trump’s ideology, is obsessed with masculine competition (and the subsequent humiliation when the competition is lost). Note the terms 4chan invented, now so popular among grade schoolers everywhere: “fail” and “win”, “alpha” males and “beta cucks”. This system is defined by its childlike innocence, that is to say, the inventor’s inexperience with any sort of “IRL” [in real life] romantic interaction. And like Trump, since these men wear their insecurities on their sleeve, they fling these insults in wild rabid bursts at everyone else.

Trump the loser, the outsider, the hot mess, the pathetic joke, embodies this duality. Trump represents both the alpha and the beta. He is a successful person who, as the left often notes, is also the exact opposite — a grotesque loser, sensitive and prideful about his outsider status, ready at the drop of a hat to go on the attack, self-obsessed, selfish, abrogating, unquestioning of his own mansplaining and spreading, so insecure he must assault women. In other words, to paraphrase Truman Capote, he is someone with his nose pressed so hard up against the glass he looks ridiculous. And for this reason, (because he knows he is substanceless) he must constantly re-affirm his own ego. Or as Errol Morris put it, quoting Borges, he is a “labyrinth with no center”.

But, what the left doesn’t realize is, this is not a problem for Trump’s supporters, rather, the reason why they support him.

Trump supporters voted for the con-man, the labyrinth with no center, because the labyrinth with no center is how they feel, how they feel the world works around them. A labyrinth with no center is a perfect description of their mother’s basement with a terminal to an endless array of escapist fantasy worlds.

Trump’s bizarre, inconstant, incompetent, embarrassing, ridiculous behavior — what the left (naturally) perceives as his weaknesses — are to his supporters his strengths.

In other words, Trump is 4chan.

While Clinton won young voters (18-29) by a wide margin (55-37), that margin was sixteen points lower than Obama’s margin over McCain, and six points below Obama’s margin over Romney.  To be fair, sex-starved semi-employed white guys living in their moms’ basements represent only a small part of this larger demographic. Hopefully.

 

 

 

 

 

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