Category: Bullshit explained

After exhaustive investigation, media concludes Americans often set off fireworks around July 4th

The results are finally in regarding all those firecrackers you’ve heard popping at night and the colored lights you’ve seen bursting in the evening sky.  A two-week intensive investigation conducted by a number of media outlets has concluded that Americans enjoy setting off fireworks on and around the Independence Day holiday. 

While your average American probably thought some nefarious government plot was afoot, the New York Times and Slate, among others, went digging into this pyrotechnic phenomenon to dispel any conspiracy theories that these news organizations and their Pulitzer Prize winning staff members may have promoted.

To be clear, this is not a government psy-op.  Illegal fireworks traffickers are not trying to destroy communities by flooding the streets with their sparklers, fountains, and smoke bombs.  When dusk settles across America during the days leading up to July 4th, excited children and their slightly inebriated fathers routinely break open the Red, White and Boom box and let the explosive fun begin.

But congratulations to the New York Times for committing the time and resources to discovering how typical Americans celebrate around the holidays.  And a heads up to Slate, those ghosts and goblins scurrying around residential neighborhoods in late October and those giant furry bunny rabbits handing out chocolate eggs in the spring, it’s all on the up and up.

Human resources department institutes epic ass-covering measures in response to pandemic

Essential worker Ben was slightly taken aback one morning when he attempted to log on to his work computer and was greeted with a series of statements with which he had to agree before completing log in.

“It said things like, ‘I’ve not had a fever in the last 72 hours, I haven’t had any of the following symptoms, or been around anyone who has tested positive.’  I further had to agree that I only cough into my sleeve, and that I use a hand sanitizer with a minimum alcohol content of 60%,” reported Ben.  “Of course, I couldn’t complete log in if I didn’t agree, and failure to adhere to the requirements meant potential disciplinary action.”  

Such is the state of employer/employee relations in these challenging times.  Human resources departments across the country are dealing with potential liability brought on by sick employees.

“Now, more than ever, covering the old rump is the name of the game,” said one personnel manager who wished to remain anonymous.  “This is coming straight from the top.  Deflecting all responsibility onto the employee for what happens in our workplace is the only thing that stands between corporate and an epidemic of lawsuits.”  

Essential Ben agrees that it seems like management’s approach to the pandemic is to blame employees.  “I gotta sign a release to use the restroom, promising to limit the length of time I spend relieving myself, and to wash my hands only with an approved anti-bacterial foaming soap in a prescribed manner for a set duration of time.  Of course, failure to comply could result in disciplinary action.”

“Yeah, I came up with that one,” said the personnel manager, chuckling to himself.  “Look, in these uncertain times, you’ve got to be creative.”

Has management ever considered taking temperatures, testing employees, or providing personal protective equipment like masks?

“Fuck no,” says management.  “If you can’t print it out and make them sign it, then it’s too expensive.  Besides, that would be like admitting we have some responsibility or obligation to our employees.  Additionally, it only makes sense that we put the onus on the employee as management are all working remotely from home and can’t be on site to supervise.” 

New details emerge regarding the late twenty-something “Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence”

Additional disturbing allegations have emerged regarding accused cult leader Lawrence Ray.  A New York Magazine piece entitled “What Happened to the Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence?” details years of forced manual labor imposed on the group of late twenty-something “kids” by their diabolical crew leader Ray.

The shocking piece describes a pattern of shoddy yard work and unfinished landscaping stretching from New Jersey to North Carolina.  “At first, Ray planted some trees and flowers. But it wasn’t long before he began making larger alterations,” said one victim. These larger alterations included a partially dug hole for a pool that “never materialized,” another hole with a boat in it, and unplanted trees.

The cult’s activities take on an even more horrifying aspect when it’s discovered that Ray used the “kids” he “stole” from Sarah Lawrence College to perform the half-assed yard work.  Then he attempted to bilk them out of thousands of dollars through legally binding emails and hand-written contracts that read “Prices of your Things I Damaged” and “This is an agreement… to settle reparations.”  It’s doubtful any lawyer in the land would want to go near any of those disputes.

“Ray’s home renovations and landscaping were key to his manipulation,” the article states.  Lawrence Ray wouldn’t be the first cult leader to control the mind’s of his followers through ceaseless toil and manual labor.  Jim Jones forced his followers to farm the land. Charles Manson’s crew worked as ranch hands. Most likely, Jeff Bezos employs an elaborate system of AI powered mind control to manipulate his followers into working in his distribution centers.  

At least this fiend, Lawrence Ray, is now off the streets, in federal custody, and nowhere near the flower beds and shrubbery of the unsuspecting public.  Most disturbing, though, is the question of how an ex-con managed to manipulate the minds of some of the brightest, most coddled and privileged, young people at one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning into following him?  Perhaps we’ll never know.

Media to the American public: If anyone’s going to deceive you, it’s going to be us

Following the release of a video by the Bloomberg campaign showing a 20 second awkward silence after Bloomberg asks his Democratic debate opponents if they’d ever started a business, many media outlets are reaffirming their position that they alone reserve the right to produce deceptive and misleading media content.

Washington Post Fact-Checker Glenn Kessler assigned four Pinocchios to the Bloomberg video stating, “Anyone who had not seen the debate could have been easily misled into thinking the other candidates stood there in stunned silence for nearly half a minute.”

Setting aside the near cosmic certainty that a stage full of political candidates could never remain silent for twenty seconds during a debate in progress, debate moderators and MSNBC producers would likewise never allow that much dead air to eat up the broadcast.  Wouldn’t someone in the control room shout through a moderator’s earpiece, “Ask a fucking question!” or wouldn’t they just cut to a commercial?     

But, alas, I’m just one of the naive, propaganda consuming public who doesn’t realize when he’s being misled and misinformed by sophisticated disinfo agents.  For that take, Vox interviewed Cindy Otis, a former CIA analyst and disinformation expert who has authored a helpful guide for identifying disinformation called, True Or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News.  Otis tells Vox, “Not being up front about an edited video or other changed content runs a big risk since people spread things quickly without verification.”

How thoughtful of this former employee of the CIA to use her experience and expertise to help Americans bypass the lies and deception and get straight to the facts.  After all, it’s been the CIA’s mission for years to get the truth out to the American public, even if they have to secretly collude with news organizations to do it. The CIA has always been very “up front” about their propaganda and media manipulation.

In addition to illustrating the ways by which Bloomberg’s video deceives the public, HuffPost is super excited about Twitter’s plan to label tweets containing “manipulated media,” or remove tweets if they “are likely to cause harm.”  It seems there were a number of Twitter users who were concerned the debate stage had been overrun by crickets after viewing the Bloomberg video. HuffPost is committed to making sure the American public gets only an objective rendering of the facts, which is why Jesselyn Cook concludes her piece by informing readers, “Bloomberg’s performance in the debate in Las Vegas – his debut at the forums – was widely panned, as he struggled to respond effectively to harsh criticisms of his record on race relations, sexual harassment complaints, economic inequality and other issues.”

Got that?  If you watched the Bloomberg campaign video, you might think that he dunked hard on the rest of the field, but thankfully, HuffPost is concerned enough to let you know what really happened.

If it weren’t for much of the mainstream media portraying Bloomberg as a shrewd media manipulator, much of the American public might just take him for a tool.  His campaign videos and social media are often an embarrassing attempt to seem edgy or hip. He would probably be better off just giving money directly to voters for their support instead of trying to persuade them with media ads.

Following similar media uproar over the Speaker Pelosi speech shredding video, it seems pretty clear that the only deceptive parties in both cases are the mainstream media outlets that have worked overtime to mislead the American public into believing they’re being assaulted with deceptive videos.  In the dozens of pieces that have been written on these videos, none have produced any evidence that large swaths of the public are being misled. In fact, most of the public comments and tweets on these stories seem to dispute the media’s contention. Attempting to give weight to their narrative, the MSM rollout experts instead of relying on evidence.  But you don’t have to be an expert or former CIA to know these videos aren’t intended to be interpreted literally, and you don’t have to be an expert to know that these journalists are handing you a con job. 

Media ‘woke bots’ weigh in on Meghan Daum’s The Problem With Everything

The reaction to Meghan Daum’s new book The Problem With Everything has been entirely predictable.  So predictable, in fact, that most of the takes seem to have required no human effort, and could just as easily have been written by a media ‘woke bot’.  I’m not entirely sure that much of what passes for print journalism today isn’t written by some form of AI. Any one of Daum’s critics, exercising even the slightest bit of judgement or self-reflection, could have recognized that their reviews, far from dismissing Daum’s conclusions, actually come off in service of making her point. 

The ‘snark bot’ take appears under the byline Scott Indrisek writing for The Observer.  This guy has a serious obsession with Bret Easton Ellis and can’t string together a couple of sentences without bringing him into the conversation.  Anyway, amidst Indrisek’s many criticisms of The Problem With Everything, he does concede, “There should be room for uncomfortable conversations about whether the #MeToo movement has overstepped itself, or whether we need to tap the brakes on certain aspects of woke culture.”  This is not an uncommon sentiment among journalists and cultural critics. The problem arises when an individual or group decides to engage in these uncomfortable conversations in books, podcasts, or public discussions broadcast on YouTube.  People like Indrisek attack these writers and thinkers with charges of being racists and phobes. The ‘woke bots’ always talk about the need for uncomfortable conversations, but rarely care to engage in or with them.

On the “personal is political” front, Indrisek reacts to Daum’s admission that, “there’s no one I’d rather blame for my misfortunes than myself,” by snarking down with an asshole comment that Daum is “stumping for a keynote gig with Turning Point USA.”  How far out in the wilderness of leftist political ideology do you have to be to think that a concept like “personal responsibility” is the sole purview of right-wing political conventions? I hope the next time Scott Indrisek tries to hold anyone in his life personally accountable for anything, they tell him, “Get thee to a CPAC convention!”     

Another gem comes from Elisabeth Donnelly writing for Buzzfeed.  This writer is a long-time fan of Daum, but has found her recent flirtations with nuanced ideas and criticism of left-wing extremism troubling.  Of the “Free Speech YouTube” crowd, Donnelly says their “values of ‘reason’ …can easily be interpreted as hate speech….” To view Jordan Peterson, Bret Weinstein, or Sam Harris as promoters of hate speech requires a monumental act of willful self-delusion so great that one would have to sequester oneself in an impenetrable fortress of political correctness, effectively shutting out 90% of the country’s ideas and opinions.  Of course, is there any doubt that the Buzzfeed newsroom leases space in such a fortress of wokeness?       

Getting to the heart of her problem with The Problem With Everything, Donnelly writes, “instead of documenting her life experiences, something at which she excels, Daum spends far more time arguing over simplified conservative and liberal talking points.”  But hold on a second, baby snark bot Scott Indrisek says, “The Problem With Everything is at its weakest when it gets personal….” Jesus, both Indrisek and Donnelly write so forcefully, with such conviction, and such an air of authority that I couldn’t help but think that they’re professional critics and probably know what they’re talking about.  Could it be that one or both are wrong? Not being able to agree on the problem with The Problem With Everything reminds me of religious leaders who can’t agree on the most fundamental tenets of their faith, but nonetheless exhibit not a shred of doubt and are one hundred percent convinced they are correct. 

The New Yorker’s Emily Witt weighs in to provide a confused and exasperating slice of context.  Self-identifying as a Gen Xer because Witt’s only eleven years younger than Daum (okay?), Witt sets about writing a parallel take to The Problem With Everything where the nineties weren’t all that less politically correct than today, and the nihilism of the 2000’s necessitated the woke course correction we’re currently experiencing.  “It was people unburdened by Daum’s ideas about “nuance” who took to the streets after police shootings, and named the men responsible for serial sexual assault and harrassment….It is telling that Daum ignores the positive benefits of these movements, or the real risks to safety and reputation taken by the people who initiated them….Didion and Daum may have preferred the status quo of their respective eras, but those who were inclined toward change were always going to be accused of overreach, of making a big deal out of nothing, of refusing to take responsibility for their own problems.”  What is telling are statements like this that make you wonder if the reviewer even bothered to read the book. How could a writer for The New Yorker so completely fail to grasp the explicit message contained in the book she’s reviewing? Daum is fully supportive of outing the worst offenders of #MeToo and bringing them to justice. At no time does she ignore the positive benefits of the movement. To make this claim is to willfully mischaracterize Daum’s writing. And by the way, accusations of overreach are not just being leveled by a bunch of defenders of the status quo, they’re being leveled by female Harvard Law professors and increasing numbers of supporters of #MeToo.

The problem with asking complicated questions or presenting nuanced ideas or opinions is that they inevitably get smacked down with snark, willfully misinterpreted and misrepresented, and unfairly taken apart.  The title of Emily Witt’s New Yorker piece is “Meghan Daum to Millennials: Get Off My Lawn.” Whether Witt came up with that title or not, it’s clearly how she and the rest of the wokescenti care to engage with Daum’s work.  To them, Daum’s just an old, cranky, out of touch Gen Xer who doesn’t recognize the egalitarian utopian dream as it shapes itself right before her eyes.

Can you blame the media woke bots for missing the point?  After all, what is an intelligence rooted in identity politics to think of this passage from Daum’s book.  “Labels tamp down contradictions. They leave no room for cognitive dissonance. They deny us our basic human right to be conflicted …If you’re not conflicted, you’re either lying or not very smart.”  No doubt, the previously mentioned, unconflicted authors view this statement as a personal attack on them. They are sooo not conflicted. In these times of moral certainty, they’ve never felt more sure about anything than their woke programming that allows them to group ideas and arguments into distinct binaries: those that reinforce their faith and those that fall outside its boundaries.

Nuance, doubt and uncertainty are qualities not easily attained by a media ‘woke bot.’  They are mostly incompatible with politically correct ideology. Scott Indrisek writes that in The Problem With Everything Meghan Daum is “exposing her blind spots to the current issues that color our experience: race, gender, capitalism, the internet, and power.”  Because these are the issues that preoccupy most Americans, right? Perhaps these issues color the experience of media ‘woke bots’ and their devoted followers, but most Americans could give a shit about the left’s obsession with playing intersectional gymnastics.  Polling shows that nearly 80% of Americans, regardless of age, sex, ethnicity or race, think that political correctness goes too far. Is it any wonder that public confidence in the media is waning, and woke media outlets are struggling?             

Daum writes, “I’m convinced the culture is effectively being held hostage by its own hyperbole.  So enthralled with our outrage at the extremes, we’ve forgotten that most of the world exists in the mostly unobjectionable middle.  So seduced by the half-truths propagated by our own side, we have no interest in the half-truths roaming in distant pastures. So weary from trying to manage cognitive dissonance kicked up by our own gospel, we forgot to have empathy for the confusion of those grappling with their own doctrines.  We forget that in the end to be human is to be confused.” A statement like this could potentially get Daum in trouble on Twitter – a place where no one at either extreme is ever wrong about anything, and in the rare instance someone is shown to be incorrect, the offender simply deletes their Tweet, thus maintaining a spotless record of habitual truthfulness. 

“In the ensuing year, the feeling of irrelevance became a near constant companion.  It clouded my vision like the membrane on the eye of a lizard, shielding me from what I couldn’t comprehend, sparing me the mortification of my own cluelessness.  It had me both staring at myself in mirrors and avoiding mirrors. It had me lying awake at night contemplating the end of the world, or maybe just the end of my world.”  Throughout the book, Daum is her own harshest critic. She anticipates the criticism each line, each thought could potentially receive, which is why nothing the previously mentioned critics have written comes off as at all original.  The ‘woke bot’ algorithm is easily adopted by Daum, rendering their predictable responses a part of the larger point of The Problem With Everything.                     

Having put forth that nuanced thought is a debilitating burden that tethers one to the status quo, that reasoned argument is often just a euphemism for hate speech, and that personal responsibility is a value reserved for right-wingers, it isn’t hard to see why these critics completely miss the point of this work.  Incapable of any sort of self-reflection, for them the problem with everything is entirely focused outward on the nonbelievers, the unwoke. How dare someone lay the problem with anything at their feet.  

“Oh the irrelevance, the obsolescence, the creak of aging out before you even get old.”  There is a lot of great writing in this book, and a lot of thoughtful and illuminating introspection that all of us who are a part of the problem with everything should take a moment to consider.  Being a couple years older than Daum, I can appreciate the sentiment of aging out before you get old. However, I intend to fully embrace my obsolescence. I can think of nothing more liberating than being completely irrelevant, brimming with contradictions, conflicted and unsure.  Gen X lived mostly in the shadow of the Baby Boomers, perhaps enjoying a brief bit of relevance in the nineties and 2000s. Now the Millenials, a generation as formidable and narcissistic as their Boomer parents, have taken the reigns with a clear plan for establishing peace and equality, prosperity and sustainability for all on earth.  Not unlike the utopian dreams that drove their parent’s generation back to the earth and into communal living, this generation will probably save the world with political activism and tech. Maybe I’ll live long enough to enjoy it.

Free speech is killing the New York Times. Gray Lady can’t stop publishing bullshit.

The New York Times is doing some heavy duty soul searching these days as the 168 year old daily newspaper wrestles with the reality that everytime pen is put to paper, a key is stroked on a keyboard, or ink is printed on the page, untruths and fabrications seem to pour out of the Gray Lady like a devious meth addict spinning a yarn for their probation officer. 

Reports out of the newsroom suggest editors are considering changing the newspaper’s motto from “All the news that’s fit to print” to “It’s not a lie if you believe it,” borrowing the advice George Costanza gave to his friend Jerry on the nineties television comedy Seinfeld.  “All we’re trying to do is come up with the best possible lie,” is another Georgeism kicked around many a NYT editorial staff meeting. 

In what appears to be a cry for help, the Times recently published a piece entitled “Free Speech Is Killing Us,” in which the author, Andrew Marantz, seems to admit what many have been thinking for awhile – someone needs to step in and restrain the Times before it does more damage to itself.  If ever a daily newspaper was in need of an intervention, the Times surely qualifies.

Hardly a week goes by in which the Times doesn’t print something to embarrass itself and erode its credibility.  Just in recent weeks, the Times got called out by most print publications for its misleading Kavanaugh reporting, Brett Stephens appeared to have an angel dust fueled bed bug freakout, and David Brooks is writing opinions based on imaginary conversations and he’s not even trying to pass them off as real.  In the old days, a Times writer would at least try to create cover for their imaginary sources. Now, I guess they’re just putting their rich fantasy lives on full display. Following the Times is like watching a celebrity self-destruct in public. The Gray Lady is about one or two bullshit stories away from stripping off her clothes and wandering naked up and down Eighth Avenue.

Now the NYT wants the government and big tech to step in and put the brakes on free speech, arguing that dozens of lives would be saved by preventing young men from being radicalized in seedy online message groups.  The Times does have some experience in this area having exposed YouTube’s diabolical algorithm and its sinister scheme to radicalize young men into the right wing. The Gray Lady’s efforts to suppress speech bore fruit as YouTube, and some social media sites, either deplatformed or severely restricted the content of a number of creators.         

The Times is right.  Free speech is killing the New York Times.  Despite continuing to do valuable reporting, the Times can’t stop itself from undermining its credibility by foisting a lot of bullshit on the public.  Emboldened by recent successes restricting the speech of others, the Times now presses forward with an even more ambitious agenda to sell out the First Amendment and censor detractors and competitors.  I guess this is how the NYT plans to become ‘the paper of record’ again.

Chappelle causes wokest of woke media to go wokeshit crazy

If I hadn’t known better, I might have thought Dave Chappelle penned a controversial op-ed in the New York Times on Monday, or maybe he appeared on CNN where he launched into a misogyny laden, transphobic rant to the horror of panelists and viewers at home.  Nope, he released a Netflix comedy special Monday, and while the special was generally well received by the public and most media outlets, predictably, the wokest of woke media went wokeshit.    

Vice tried to get out ahead of the special by confidently announcing, “You Can Definitely Skip Dave Chappelle’s New Netflix Special ‘Sticks & Stones.’”  If Vice thought their “nothing to see here, folks, move along” review was going to limit viewership, my guess is they’re sorely disappointed. It would be interesting to know the ratio of people who heeded Vice’s warning versus those who tuned in because of it.  You can definitely put me in the latter camp.

For the woke millennial crowd who may never have heard of comedy, or who aren’t all that familiar with comedy or Dave Chappelle, Vox weighs in with its explainer piece, delivering fact-checks and unimportant backstory to many of Chappelle’s bits.  “Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special targets Michael Jackson’s accusers, #MeToo, and cancel culture” by Aja Romano reads like a critique of some author or intellect who’s on tour promoting a serious work of social commentary. Referring to Chappelle’s bits about Michael Jackson, R. Kelly and Kevin Hart, Romano says, “whether he framed those events fairly or not in order to mine them for comedy has become a contentious talking point.”  Why is Chappelle expected to frame events fairly for a stand-up comedy routine? Why does Romano take Chappelle’s hour-long monologue so literally and so seriously? People who enjoy comedy don’t care if the work has been thoroughly fact-checked, and don’t expect to get the comedians true convictions and most deeply held beliefs. Comedians talk shit, they embellish and they make shit up. That’s what makes it funny. Who gives a fuck if Chappelle’s account of his interactions with the director of Surviving R. Kelly differ slightly from hers?  A humorless writer for Vox, I guess. 

The consistent criticism levelled by the Vox piece and pieces in Slate and Buzzfeed is that Chappelle is punching down.  Okay, so I’ve never read the stand-up comedy handbook. I don’t know what the rules are when it comes to putting together a stand-up routine.  All I can go by are my decades of watching stand-up comedians, starting with George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy and moving through to the present.  If there is a rule against punching down in stand-up, this is the first I’m hearing of it. I thought comedians could punch whatever the hell direction they wanted.  Sure, comedians often go after celebrities, politicians and the rich and powerful because we’re all familiar with these folks, so they make good targets. But comedians also caricature ordinary people: a pimp, a drug dealer, a strict father, a strict grandmother, a sweet grandmother, bratty children, a classmate, a redneck, a convenience store clerk, a taxi driver, a co-worker, a person in line at Starbucks, a stoner, a fitness freak, a church lady, security guards…  There is almost no limit to the number and kind of individuals who have been caricatured over the years in sketch comedies, movies and stand-up routines.       

In Tomi Obaro’s piece for Buzzfeed entitled “Dave Chappelle Doesn’t Need To Punch Down,” the author takes particular offense at Chappelle’s characterization of “the alphabet people.”  Frustrated at Chappelle’s lack of thoughtfulness, the author at one point suggests, “It’s enough to make you want to tie Chappelle to a chair and force him to binge-watch episodes of Pose.”  Whatever that might accomplish, I seriously doubt it would improve Chappelle’s comedy, at least not in the way Obaro thinks it would. Towards the end of the piece, Obaro complains about Chappelle’s lack of maturity and asks, “why not strive to be more interesting, more original, more thoughtful?”  It should go without saying that Chappelle is not submitting an essay on LGBTQ culture for publication in The New Yorker. That Chappelle is “not a little boy. He’s a grown-ass man.” is true enough. However, my understanding of comedy is that many comedians, to a degree, suffer from a form of permanent adolescence.  It’s kind of what makes them funny. Comedians say the things many in society are thinking, but don’t say, because they’re too busy being respectful and acting like mature adults. Which isn’t to say everyone is privately a bigot and a phobe, it’s to say that we are all flawed and we like to laugh at how ignorant and irrational and immature we can all be sometimes.  And no one should get a pass. Because the minute we start handing out Comedy Exemptions is the minute we start taking ourselves way too seriously and cease to be able to joke about anything at all.

Vox journalist living rent-free inside far left bubble

Many of the Democratic presidential hopefuls and their supporters have been so merrily and comfortably ensconced in their far left bubble that they became somewhat alarmed to discover moderates, centrists and independents skeptical of their pie in the sky promises.  Apparently, instead of a debate, they thought they were lining up last night for a two hour infomercial, becoming a little annoyed when others on the stage began to challenge them. Most notably, Sanders and Warren went after their fellow Democrats for repeating Republican talking points and not dreaming big enough.  In a moment straight out of Trump’s playbook, Sanders even went after the CNN moderators and accused the network of being in bed with big health insurance companies.

As they try to sell their “big ideas,” you could forgive the far left candidates for being dismissive of centrist concerns, but of course some in the media were equally frustrated that moderates were allowed to occupy the same stage as their progressive heroes.  Vox journalist Aaron Rupar weighed in from his parallel reality where any proposal to the right of a complete government take-over of the health insurance industry is viewed as Fox News propaganda. Rupar writes “People who tuned into the Democratic presidential debate could have been forgiven for thinking they accidently turned the channel to Fox News.”  Because only Fox News would ask challenging questions of the Democrats. Other networks are supposed to enable the progressive free-for-all and not get in the way as the candidates make their pitches.  

Echoing Sanders’ complaint of the debate moderators, Rupar takes issue with the line of questioning, “At times during the debate, CNN hosts framed policy questions around Republican talking points.”  That 150 million Americans would lose their current health insurance is a fact, which also makes it a great talking point for Republicans. That the middle class would see a tax increase to pay for Medicare-for-all is also a fact that Sanders has conceded.  Sanders and Rupar frame it as a Republican talking point. Why should Medicare-for-all Democrats be shielded from confronting fact-based questions regarding their healthcare plans? If it is true, as they argue, that healthcare savings will offset any tax increase middle class Americans might incur, then let them make that case now and have an opportunity to hone their message in the coming months.  Better to get your reps in now while not as many people are paying attention and the stakes aren’t so high.  

Of course, other plans to get to universal coverage were offered as well, but to even permit non-Medicare-for-all plans to have a public airing, or to attempt to draw distinctions between candidates is somehow seen as citing the Republican playbook.  “Though no Republicans were physically onstage Tuesday night in Detroit, it too often seemed they were living rent-free inside the moderators’ heads,” Rupar concludes. Too often, it seems as if Rupar’s head is living rent-free inside his rectum. This is the same guy who this past weekend tweeted that Donald Trump claimed to be a 9-11 first responder even as Trump literally said that he wasn’t a 9-11 first responder.  How do you misinterpret that statement to mean the opposite unless you are just willfully living in an alternate reality constructed from ideology rather than plain facts?

AOC policy adviser to put billionaires on public assistance

Apparently America’s billionaire problem is out of control.  It seems like you can’t even walk down the street anymore without tripping over some shady billionaire announcing a new business venture, buying a professional sports team, or giving millions to charitable foundations.  AOC policy adviser Dan Riffle would like to change that. Going by the Twitter title “Every Billionaire is a policy Failure,” Dan has a plan to rid America of its billionaires within our lifetime. In fact, the plan would so thoroughly inoculate the United States from the scourge of billionaires, that most former sufferers would fall helplessly into the massive social safety net created by their absence.

In an interview with Vox, Dan the Policy Man kicks around a federal tax rate that would most effectively relieve a billionaire sufferer of all that needless cash.  His boss, AOC, has floated the idea of a 70 percent top rate. Dan has tweeted that he could talk her up to 90. In the Vox interview, he describes trying to come up with a catchy Twitter name that would succinctly distill his policy position.  He started with, “Tax income over $5 million at 99 percent.” That didn’t roll off the tongue well enough for him. Not because the idea was in any way objectionable, it just wasn’t succinct enough for him. That’s when he came up with the epically memeable “Every Billionaire is a policy Failure.”  You may have caught the EBIAPF Challenge on YouTube, or seen someone wearing the t-shirt. 

Granted, a billion dollars is a lot of money, but Riffle isn’t just talking about taxing the shit out of galactic riches.  When asked to define extreme wealth, he replies, “I don’t know where exactly we can draw the line… But at some point there has to be an upper bound, right?  If you have $5 million, you can live off the interest of that and be a one percenter. There’s nothing in this world that anybody wants or needs to do that you can’t do with, let’s say, $10-$15 million.”  

Riffle has already stated what he’d do to five million, he’d have Uncle Sam take 99 percent.  That leaves the taxpayer with $50,000. Not a bad take home, right? Except that Uncle Sam also withholds for Social Security and Medicare with state and local deducting additional percentage points.  Does it not occur to the policy adviser to U.S Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that, if you take 99% of someone’s income, any additional percent of withholding will leave the taxpayer broke or owing additional taxes for which they have no income remaining?  Even if federal withholding is only 90% – the number he’s going to talk AOC into – that still wipes out the taxpayer’s income for the year, no matter how large that income may be. I guess you have to be a policy adviser in Washington to understand how the math works on that one, because if you’re just seated at your kitchen table, the numbers don’t add up.   

Not content to just tax income, Riffle goes on to suggest forcing owners to divest from their companies, creating “democratic control over society’s resources.”  The idea is to relieve a Bill Gates or a Jeff Bezos of their company’s stock once its value exceeds $10 million. “There’s other ways that you can force the divestiture of an owner of a company once we hit a certain threshold,” Riffle explains.  “Having more democratic control over society’s resources would be helpful, and having more democratic control over a company’s resources would be beneficial for that company as well.” So, in other words, you’ve done really well for yourself here, Jeff, but we’re going to take democratic control of that $100 billion in Amazon stock you own, and we’re going to democratically take over the company you built and control it from here forward.  This sounds a lot like the kind of democracy they used to practice in the German Democratic Republic (the former East Germany), or they currently practice in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). 

If the interviewer can be excused for not pushing back on what seem to be rather extreme policy proposals, it’s because the proposals themselves would almost certainly achieve its stated goal of complete eradication of all American billionaires and multimillionaires within a very short span of time.  They would almost certainly flee for billionaire friendly countries like China, Germany, Russia, Great Britain, India, France, and Canada to name a few nations that seem to be most severely plagued by burdensome billionaires. Once gone we would need to seal our borders against their return, only then could we truly enjoy our riches to rags utopia.

New York Times runs Antifa PR piece

In case anyone has been operating under the misconception that a journalist was violently assaulted by Antifa protesters in Portland on Saturday, the New York Times’ Mike Baker is here to set the record straight.  Or, rather, he’s here to fill your head with enough extraneous nonsense to give those in denial about left-wing extremism and violence any number of paths to continue believing there is no problem here. His piece in Monday’s edition, “In Portland, a Punch and a Milkshake Rumor Feed a Fresh Round of Police Criticism,” reads like a release from Antifa’s public relations department.  In it he essentially asserts that the journalist assaulted basically had it coming, that the incident is only of interest to conservative politicians and media outlets, that the Portland Police are in cahoots with right-wing groups, and left-wing protesters were really only interested in having a milkshake dance party.

What are we to make of protesters who show up for a demonstration clad in makeshift riot gear?  That these are individuals who were just sitting at home one Saturday and decided to head downtown to protest the fascists.  They’re not an organized group itching for a fight or anything. Everybody has black helmets and body armor hanging in their closet.  Give credit to the NYT for running the photo of the anti-fascist fascists, but their caption reads “Multiple groups demonstrated in downtown Portland, Ore., on Saturday.”  Not only does the NYT not identify these demonstrators as Antifa, but not once does Baker mention the group’s name in the entire piece. The only time they are identified is in a quote of Andy Ngo’s attorney. 

Baker does concede that Ngo was struck by a black-clad activist, going beyond what a lot of mainstream outlets reported.  Many MSM reports preferred to let it seem like the journalist was just heavily milkshaked. Amazing that the word “milkshake” is now a verb and accepted by many on the mainstream left as a perfectly acceptable thing to do to someone.  Baker, however, avoids using “milkshake” as a verb in his article and instead writes that Ngo was “slimed” with “vegan coconut milkshakes”. Very considerate of him to point out that the milkshakes were vegan, in case Ngo happens to be vegan himself.  It takes a little bit of the sting out of being milkshaked when you know that the projectile doesn’t contain any animal products. Although, one wonders how Baker knew that the specific milkshakes that struck Ngo were vegan coconut. Did the New York Times thoroughly fact check all those milkshakes?

Baker does seem pretty confident, however, in claiming that the milkshakes did not contain quick drying concrete.  He describes as “questionable” the Portland Police warning that the milkshakes contained cement, and that this claim fueled “conservative alarm” and “dramatically fueled the furor”.  Nothing to see here folks, Baker seems to be reassuring NYT readers. This is just a bunch of conservatives getting their panties all in a bunch.  

Baker goes on to question Ngo’s work as a journalist, dropping hints that he and the publications he works for produce racist content.  Also, he spends a couple paragraphs making the case that the Portland Police have a history of colluding with right-wing extremists. At this point, if I’m a leftist frequent reader of the New York Times even the slightest bit concerned about groups and elements at the extreme of my political ideology, I’m beginning to drift back into my comfort zone.  I’m thinking, okay, this is all a manufactured crisis and Ngo is just getting what’s coming to him. After all, as Baker writes, “He (Ngo) has a history of battling with anti-fascist groups” and “has built a prominent presence in part by going into situations where there may be conflict and then publicizing the results.”  

Okay, so he’s not really a journalist, he’s a right wing provocateur.  Well, that explains it. Because that’s what they said about Jamal Kashoggi, right?  He had a history of battling with the Saudi Royal family. And that’s what they say about correspondents in conflict zones.  They’re just publicity hounds, right?

After trashing a journalist and totally discrediting the police, Mr. Baker would like Times readers to know that anti-fascist activists are just a bunch of fun-loving, peaceful party people who want to drink milkshakes and dance.  While reserving a healthy amount of skepticism for the police account of the incident, Baker seems to accept on faith information gathered from the Rose City Antifa affiliated group, PopMob.  According to one member of the group, they were simply “having an entertaining counterprotest building off Pride month.”  And those milkshakes: “they were vegan milkshakes made not of cement, but of coconut ice cream, cashew milk and some sprinkles.”  A credulous Baker barely even addresses the glaring reality that milkshakes are currently the preferred method of humiliating conservatives and right-wingers. They were clearly dispensed with the intent of hurling them at their opponents, including Mr. Ngo who was targeted with a barrage of them.

It is one thing to write a piece that avoids leaping to conclusions and reporting unverified facts.  It is quite another to omit facts, engage in irrelevant personal and professional attacks, and deliberately mislead.  Is Baker really so beholden to ideology and obligated to protect the left and readers of the NYT that it extends all the way to doing public relations for a group of violent thugs?  Perhaps, or maybe he just wants to stay on Antifa’s good side. Hmm, wonder why?