Tag: Vox

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. 

Democrats brainstorm additional ways they can help Trump win in 2020

Riding the success of the Speaker Pelosi speech shredding video, Democrats are working closely with the Trump campaign to generate additional campaign content to help propel Trump to victory in 2020.

“We welcome all the help we can get from Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats,” said Brad Parscale, Trump 2020 campaign manager.  “With impeachment and the Iowa Caucus debacle boosting Trump’s approval rating to the highest level of his presidency, we’re considering just sitting back and letting the Dems drive this bus.”  

“The Democrats have a proven track record of blowing races they should win and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory,” said Drew Hammill, Speaker Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff.  “When the Trump team came to us expressing concern over the president’s declining poll numbers, we had just one question for them: How can we help?” 

The result was a video showing Speaker Pelosi tearing up President Trump’s State of the Union address as he delivers good economic news and honors an American World War II hero.  “I wish I could take credit for that,” said Parscale. “That was a stroke of genius. Someone told me she even had the pages partially pre-torn to ensure maximum dramatic effect.” 

Not everyone is thrilled about the Dems strategizing for Trump.  Appearing on MSNBC’s Panic Room, longtime Democratic strategist from way, way back James Carville flipped out over the Iowa debacle and the prospect of nominating an avowed socialist as the Democratic nominee. 

“Eighteen percent of the population controls 52 Senate seats,” Carville said.  “We’ve got to be a majoritarian party. The urban core is not gonna get it done.  What we need is power! Do you understand? That’s what this is about.”

A few days later, in an interview with Vox, Carville put a fine point on his criticism of Democrats, “We’re losing our damn minds.”

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.

Media releases News Pyramid guidelines, recommends five full servings of bullshit per day

Mainstream media outlets today released their 2019 News Pyramid guidelines for recommended daily allowances of news consumption, and there seems to be agreement among experts on one thing – Americans need more bullshit in their news diet.

“Most mainstream news organizations are recommending Americans get at least five full servings of bullshit per day,” says guidelines contributor Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources.  

While the guidelines don’t specify between print, television, or social media content, most experts agree cable news is an excellent source of the kind of fact-free, speculative nonsense of which most Americans could benefit.  A healthy diet of bullshit journalism has the additional benefit of providing confirmation of the consumer’s beliefs and ideology, while at the same time pointing out that everyone who doesn’t hold the same views is evil and wrong.

The next level on the News Pyramid calls for four daily servings of partisan propaganda. While most Americans try to avoid eating their propaganda, the report notes the necessity of its daily consumption for the functioning of a healthy democracy.  “Don’t worry if you’re left or right, Republican or Democrat,” the guidelines state, “there’s a news organization out there ready to satisfy your partisan hunger.”

In what signals a change from recent years, the new News Pyramid guidelines raise the recommended daily allowance of conspiracy content from two to three servings per day. Experts warn, however, consumers of news should only get their conspiracy from authoritative sources. Rachel Maddow, Vox, and the New York Times are all considered excellent sources of conspiracy content and should be chosen over the empty, non-authoritative conspiracy musings of YouTube.

“Two ‘hit pieces’ per day are essential to a healthy news diet,” according to the new guidelines.  Some journalists take great pleasure in writing ‘hit pieces’ because they recall an adolescent superficiality and pettiness, so consumers should indulge the writer’s childish impulses by reading them.  Although they can be found at almost every news source, the New Yorker and Vox are exceptionally proficient at this brand of juvenile journalism.

Finally, the news consumer should make sure to save room for at least one serving of Jim Acosta per day.  The new guidelines cite Acosta as that rare guilty pleasure that almost as often becomes the news as reports it.  If news dieters follow these simple recommendations, they can become almost as confused and clueless as some of the journalists who report it.

Vox spends walkout suppressing free speech, burning content and torching YouTube

Vox journalists went into their walkout Thursday riding and endorphin induced euphoria, stemming from their successful campaign to reduce the amount of free speech millions of Americans enjoy.  How better to celebrate their victory than with a content burning bonfire and a strategy session to build on the momentum gained from their latest successful endeavor to suppress free expression?

As the bonfire blazed, Vox journalists patted themselves on the back and felt even more emboldened to demand higher than market wages of Vox management for their successful efforts at internet censorship.  After all, censoring YouTube doesn’t just benefit Vox writers, it has the potential to enhance the company’s bottom line as well.

Vox journalists could barely contain their elation from seeing content creator after content creator on the YouTube platform go up in flames from the fire they had lit. Among the victims were history teachers and academic videos, as well as the work of prominent journalists that sought to educate about hate, not promote it.

Unrepentant and sensing they had their opponents bloodied but not beaten, Vox journalists penned “An open letter to YouTube’s CEO” where they demanded the platform update it’s standards to censor even more speech:

“Without a serious change to YouTube’s interpretation of its standards, Crowder is free to continue to make videos where he hurls slurs at journalists and creators, who will then keep getting hit with the same sort of harassment, invective, and dangerous leaking of personal information that Carlos has continued to experience from Crowder’s fans.”

Apparently, Vox’s bonfire brainstorming session worked, as they hit upon resurrecting the old argument of blaming the content creators for the actions of the consumers of said content.  A stroke of brilliance on the part of Vox journalists, the tactic was once successfully deployed when John Hinckley blamed Jodie Foster and the movie Taxi Driver for his assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.  (Warning: Vox Millennials, don’t try watching Taxi Driver at home alone, it will trigger the shit out of you.) More importantly, Vox has successfully rallied much of the mainstream media to join it’s effort to torch independent journalists, educators, and content creators.

As the fires subside and the Vox Adpocalypse gives way to a new dawning Voxtopia, the media company has positioned itself nicely to be one of the “authoritative sources” YouTube will now begin directing its traffic toward.  Having successfully punched down on the independent voices of both the marginalised and non-marginalised alike, the required reading of white liberal elites, Vox, can now resume it’s authoritative role as explainer of news and protector of the historically marginalised, who are now free to just shut up and listen.  

Media flew too close to Bullshit Mountain…again

The distress call went out back in March when a tough talking, street fighting litigator from Los Angeles, the unlikely hero of the resistance media, found himself cross-examining a pair of handcuffs.  Thousands of media stories and pundit prognostications that had previously soared on the wings of this champion of the resistance, suddenly crashed and burned in the dense jungles of Bullshit Mountain. The distress call went unheeded, though.  The stories of bravery and heroism in the face of a maniacal king, the tales of a young prince with a law degree defending the besmirched honor of more than one fair maiden, and the adventures of a crusader for truth and justice lay forgotten, swallowed up by the canopy of dense excrement that envelopes Bullshit Mountain.

At the entrance to every cable news studio, there must exist a scanner of some sort, lined with precision quantum magnets, that can detect the remnants of stories that crashed on Bullshit Mountain and extract them from the brains of the show’s hosts and commentators.  Like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel, the Spotless Mind 3000 erases a reality they’ve spent months cultivating and promoting, and allows the commentator to move seamlessly onto another topic without acknowledging their culpability in crafting a stunning work of monumental bullshit.  What else could explain this sort of nonchalance in the face of what should be a realization that the previous several months of the journalist’s professional life has been a complete waste?

It’s creepy the way they shift gears.  How do you watch a narrative you’ve been spinning for months be reduced to ashes and not think to yourself, man, I really suck at my job? For many toiling in the real world, to have failed so miserably would have produced an existential reckoning accompanied by months of depression, and most likely loss of one’s occupation.  Granted, when the Mueller Report dropped, some cable news hosts and commentators were either visibly shaken, or mad as hell and unable to take it anymore. (Mueller really should have given them a trigger warning.)  However, after having their minds sanitized, many in the resistance media and its broadcast affiliates, CNN and MSNBC, without a moment of self-reflection, moved on from conspiracy and began to focus tremendous brain power on obstruction.    

Here is one journalist ruminating admiringly about the then resistance hero back in July of 2018.  No need to reveal the journalist’s identity. Let’s just say he’s a very prominent writer for an outfit with a name that starts with a V and ends with an X.  “Alternatively, if you’re a smart, young, hard-working lawyer with progressive political convictions, and you also like money going out and winning large verdicts against rich companies that broke the rules, this line of work suggests itself as one of the most ethical ways to get rich.”  So our resistance hero, prior to being charged with attempted extortion, bank and wire fraud, and stealing money from his clients, was engaged in one of the most ethical ways to get rich. Really?

Perhaps no one in the media could have known back in July of 2018 that Captain Resistance was nothing less than an honorable crusader for truth, justice, and the American way.  But, most likely, they didn’t want to know. Because this was the guy who was going to take down Trump and possibly steal his job. Once again, scores of media hacks bought into a wildly improbable narrative and proceeded to recklessly guide it to it’s inevitable conclusion: that of a steaming forgotten heap, smoldering on the slopes of Bullshit Mountain.

Vox writer triggered by Bret Easton Ellis’s White

Millennials can be a hard bunch to impress, and Vox writer, Constance Grady, is not going to be impressed by much acclaimed and occasionally maligned author Bret Easton Ellis.  When Ellis asserts in his book that Millennials often display an inability to view things in their context, he hadn’t accounted for Constance Grady, who last summer wrote a piece for Vox using the movie Sixteen Candles to provide “important context for the Brett Kavanaugh accusations.”  When Grady is looking for some background on eighties rape culture, she knows to go straight to the source for everything eighties: John Hughes movies.

White, according to Vox’s rating system, receives only one V out of a possible five.  Expressed as Roman numerals that would be I/V Vs. I guess if you hit a home run with the Vox crew, you score a V/V Vs.  That Vox is a sort of Millenial Home Companion, the low rating is not surprising as this book is highly critical of the demographic group.  True to Millennial form, Grady has to get the obligatory “racist” and “misogynist” accusations out of the way before the review even begins.

White is not a book about politics.  Ellis expresses few political views in the book beyond stating that he didn’t vote for Trump or Clinton.  It is a book that contrasts the American culture the author grew up in with our current one. Ellis bemoans the reality that our current culture is so obsessed with politics, at least among the entertainment and media elites on the coasts, and Ellis takes dead aim at the anti-Trump hysteria gripping much of the nation.  

In the second paragraph of her review, Grady highlights an Ellis exchange in a New Yorker interview by Isaac Chotiner as a ‘gotcha moment’.  It doesn’t need to be quoted here. The whole interview is an embarrassment… for Chotiner. Outrage cranked up to eleven, Chotiner drops all pretense of professionalism and runs down the list of Trump’s most deplorable moments, trying to get Ellis to admit that Trump is the worst scoundrel history has ever manufactured, but fails to get Ellis’s outrage to register above a three.  The behavior of the interviewer only serves to illustrate Ellis’s point that many on the left lose all rationality when it comes to talking about Trump.

Grady admonishes Ellis for writing a book about politics when he claims to find politics ridiculous.  Curiously, however, several paragraphs later, she claims as a fact “that there is no such thing as non-political art”.  According to this line of reasoning, the simple act of a writer putting pen to paper is political. In Grady’s world, how can Ellis write anything that isn’t political?

Ellis’s complaint is that he can’t go out for dinner or drinks without his companions bringing up how Trump stole the election or that he’s a stooge of the Russians; and even in Ellis’s own home, his Millennial partner, distraught over a Trump presidency, has shut himself in, relapsed into addiction and essentially put his life on hold.  Ellis’s lament is not political, it’s an argument against permitting politics to rule one’s life and sap all the enjoyment out of it. It is a call to take a deep breath, calm the fuck down, and preserve your sanity. Predictably, Grady’s comeback is to hit the outrage switch by reminding everyone of the “children who are being kept in cages”.  This is the inevitable retort whenever anyone calls for rationality, or a more restrained response to Trump’s provocations. Why do Grady and Chotiner think that the appropriate response to Ellis’s criticism of years of anxious liberal hand-wringing over Trump is to try to elicit more of it by rehashing all the outrage inducing talking points? Have they ever considered that maybe Trump is playing them, or that maybe it gives his supporters a boner to watch the so-called liberal elites lose their shit?   

Ultimately, Grady concludes that White is simply boring.  The Millennial Grady is not impressed with stories of what it’s like to become a famous, best-selling novelist at the age of 23, shortly after graduating college.  Stories of cocaine snorting and running with celebrities dull her to death, and she can’t engage with the author’s thoughts on movies or life growing up in the seventies.  In other words, she can’t empathize with the experiences of a white, gay middle-aged man. Big surprise.

Millennials like Grady think they’re inventing civilization after generations of human struggle through a primitive dark ages.  In her Sixteen Candles piece, she asserts, “In the 1980s, “rape” meant an attack from a stranger in a dark alley, not something that acquaintances did to each other at house parties where everyone knows each other.”  This statement is absurd, untrue and reveals an appalling ignorance of the culture she’s attempting to write about, leaving little wonder why she can’t engage with a writer like Ellis. But that’s okay.  If you’re ignorant and incurious, just make shit up. Vox will print it anyway.

Robot apocalypse skeptic, Ezra Klein, unconcerned about Midwest job losses

On the subject of the looming Robot Apocalypse, Ezra Klein sounds a lot like a climate change skeptic.  But the threat of working Americans losing their jobs to automation is much more real and present than the oceans overtaking Miami and New York.  In an August 2018 Ezra Klein Show podcast, guest Andrew Yang, a Democratic candidate for president, lays out a pretty convincing case for why Americans should take very seriously the prospect of massive job losses due to automation.

“The reason why Donald Trump won the election of 2016 is that we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, the swing states he needed to win, between 2000 and 2015, and it’s about to get much, much worse because we’re about to triple down on the most common jobs in the US economy:  Administrative and clerical work, call center workers, food service workers, truck drivers and transportation, and manufacturing. Those five job categories comprise about half of American workers.”

Ezra Klein singles out the assertion that the midwest, and more broadly, areas of the country other than the coasts, have been the hardest hit by changes to the economy.  This is a sticking point for Klein so he “puts a pin” in this part of the conversation so he can “push back” on it later. You have to wonder why, with all that Yang is pointing out here, that this is a problem for Klein.  He asserts that people on the coasts are hurting as well, and just can’t bring himself to concede that the industrial midwest is particularly vulnerable and perhaps went for Trump in response.

Yang continues to deliver the bad news:  “It takes no great leaps of the imagination to see how this is going to play out over the next handful of years.  Google recently demonstrated software that can do the job of an average call center worker, and there are still two and a half million call center workers in the United States making $14 an hour….Ten percent of workers work in retail and 30% of malls are going to close in the next ten years….If robot trucks hit the highways in the next five to ten years, what’s going to happen to the three and a half million truck drivers and the five million workers that work in truck stops, motels and diners in small towns around America that rely on a truck stopping periodically.  These are the changes we can see coming that are completely predictable.”

The important thing to remember is that Yang is talking about a process that is currently ongoing.  He is not staring into a crystal ball. He is citing historical data, as well as economic and industry data that projects for the future.  He points out that companies are making massive investments in these new technologies. These companies aren’t gambling on the future, they’re building it.  Ezra Klein, however, seems unconvinced.

“I am a skeptic of this vision of the economy.  The robots are coming for our jobs thesis…does not seem to be showing up in our economic data…Am I seeing something in the unemployment numbers, something in the productivity numbers, something somewhere in the economic sentiment numbers, something where I can say, ‘hey I feel this but I’m not seeing it.  Everybody seems to feel this is true but we’re not seeing it.”

Here’s where Klein sounds like a climate change skeptic.  He’s arguing that because the catastrophe is not yet showing up in the numbers, he doubts that it will ever take place.  He’s like President Trump tweeting about a cold winter day and saying, “so much for global warming.”

Yang’s shown him that the job losses are already occurring.  Many large traditional retail chains are dead or on life support.  Nobody argues that American manufacturing hasn’t been devastated by automation for going on 50 years now.  Many of these displaced workers have opted out of the workforce or gone on disability. As Yang says, “Almost half the displaced manufacturing workers in Michigan and Indiana left the workforce and never worked again, and about a quarter of them filed for disability and never worked again.”  Yang further points out that 1 in 5 males of prime working age were unemployed over the past year. And don’t try to bring the opioid crisis into the conversation, because Klein refuses to acknowledge economic insecurity plays a role in that tragedy.

Klein argues, without evidence, that the transformation of the economy will occur over a large time scale, as if this assertion by itself undercuts Yang’s facts and projections.  “One thing I see in this argument is a jump between something is going to happen over time and something is about to happen all at once.” Klein points out that the transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial based economy didn’t produce economic calamity.  Fair enough, and we can only hope the same happens in this case. Perhaps our robot masters will find ways to make the humans useful, but as of right now, no one can predict where the next round of jobs will come from. What is predictable, though, are massive job losses.   

As the conversation winds down, Klein returns to that pin he stuck in the discussion on the topic of midwestern states feeling the brunt of automation.  “I worry that we’ve got in this narrative that everything’s great on the coasts and there’s something going terribly wrong in the center, and it just kind of flattens this very lumpy story of progress in our country way too much, and also creates a narrative of resentment that, on the one hand, isn’t helpful but, on the other, is a bit untrue.  A lot of people suffer in California.”

The listener might be inclined to laugh at the hypocrisy and contradictions contained in this statement if Klein himself, hearing the cascade of bullshit pouring out of his mouth, hadn’t already beat the listener to it.  During the conversation, as Klein repeatedly sings the virtues of the current economy, he eventually stops himself, chuckles, and apologizes because it sounds like he’s gushing over the Trump economy.

Regarding the unhelpful narrative of resentment, Vox Media’s bread and butter is crafting and maintaining narratives of resentment.  Over the past two years, few groups have been more resented and more maligned by the elite media than the midwestern Trump voter. Klein and his crew would have everyone believe these voters were motivated by racism when they, rightly or wrongly, went for the guy who promised to bring their jobs back.  While no doubt some are all about building the wall, it’s been shown time and again that many of these voters supported Bernie in the primary, and not hearing what they needed to hear from HRC, swung for Trump. It would be nice to take back Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in 2020, maybe even pick up Ohio.  But if liberal elites like Klein are unwilling to recognize people in those states that are hurting, we could be in for four more years of the unspeakable.